Regular readers of my blog (all three of you. Hi mom!) should have by now realized that I have an issue with Michael Bay and his movies, and that by “issue” I mean to date I have hated him and his work with the burning passion of 10,000 suns. His style of movie making (no story, big explosions, treating source material like toilet paper during a prune and Mexican food festival, acting that barely compares favorably to watching department store mannequins stare at each other, dopey cartoonish CGI that obscures the action and special effects with action and special effects, and characters who develop only under protest and usually come out looking like a failed mad science experiment) is everything I think is wrong with mass market movie making and I arrived at the theater like the bastard love child of MacGuyver and Elmer Fudd: armed and equipped with every literary shotgun, rifle, bear trap, claymore, and excrement coated punji stick to take down another gigantic movie wildebeest and mount it’s head up on my trophy wall. Imagine my surprise when I walked out of the theater realizing I had just seen the best movie of my life.
Wait, did I just write that correctly? No. What I meant to say was I had just seen the best Michael Bay movie of my life. On another day that might be like saying that the sand filled garden hose I had just been beaten with was made of the softest rubber available or that the piece of my brain they removed was the least important lobe but as the movie progressed I found myself warming up to the CGI turtles and being reasonably entertained. At no point during the movie did I want to see another human in the theater bleed (including myself or the projectionist. Surprises never cease) and at the end I felt like I had gotten my monies worth from the experience. It wasn’t a bargain and it wasn’t enriching but it did serve to entertain.
(note-I know there are those of you out there who will say the Rock was Michael Bay’s best movie but honestly if you go back and watch it again and mentally block out the stunning presences of Sean Connery and adequate presence of Nicholas Cage you will realize what schock it really was)
Life, the Universe, and Everything.
If you don’t know where that joke comes from you can turn in your nerd card on the way out. It is something of a mystery to me that I have absolutely no interest in watching baseball (or any other sports for that matter) on TV but love baseball movies. Major League, Moneyball, the Bad News Bears; these are all some of my personal favorites. I think I find the actual game dead boring but the intricacies of teamwork and sports training fascinate me. Either that or I can’t find anything of interest in watching a pitcher scratch his jock for two hours.
I saw this the other night but have been trying to process the experience. I went into this film with a lot of hope and honestly can’t say I was disappointed. It was a compelling story reasonably well told and well acted by all the principal characters. The problem I was having was trying to decide if it was ham handed or not. All the characters good or bad are kind of cartoonish in their portrayal and I couldn’t tell tell if this was a deliberate attempt to portray racist characters in the late ‘4os or if the director had the word subtlety excised from his vocabulary. Even Harrison Ford’s character Branch Rickey had a very strong Yosemite Sam feel to him. Again, I’m not an expert on any of the real life people these characters were drawn from (in truth I’d never heard of any of them before this film) but they all seemed more than a little over the top. Since the director Brian Helgeland also did L.A. Confidential and Man on Fire I will give him the benefit of the doubt, but that nagging thought was pecking at me the entire time like a tiny woodpecker on my brain (Woody image courtesy of the Cartoon T Shirt category).
In terms of portraying the advancement of civil rights on America this film was no Mississippi Burning or Glory but it certainly was better than Red Tails. My mother grew up in Brooklyn in the ’40s and is a huge Jackie Robinson fan. She told me he was known for being a complete gentleman and never lashed out against the bigotry and racist epithets thrown at him on the field. For the most part this movie held true to that. However he did not become the first African American major league baseball player out of a burning desire to advance civil rights. He did it to play baseball and make money. This attitude carries through in the film and actually denigrates the civil rights message. The racism becomes an obstacle for him to overcome in order to play ball but does not play out as the dragon he needs to slay. I’m not saying it didn’t have a great civil rights message. Just that it didn’t feel like the main thrust of the film. Again, perhaps that was purposeful on the part of Mr. Helgeland.
The story is of course about Jackie Robinson, the first African American major league baseball player. It starts out with Branch Richie (Harrison Ford-Star Wars, Indiana Jones, really if I have to list his credits for you go back to the cave you grew up in), owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers telling his management that he intends to hire an player from the Negro Leagues. They go through some known names and select Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman-The Kill Hole, Persons Unknown, Fringe). The recruit him into their secondary team the Montreal Royals. Once he gets the contract he proposes to his girlfriend Rachel (Nichole Beharie-Shame, the Express, American Violet) and marries her. He travels to spring training and at that point the racism comes thick and fast. He deals with all kinds of stereotypes including members of his own team. However he is supported my Mr. Rickey and the manager Leo Durochser (Christopher Meloni-Runaway Bride, 12 Monkeys, Law and Order).
Honestly at that point the story kind of trundles its way down the Predictable Highway. He gets hit in the head with a pitch. Over time his previously hesitant teammates accept him and support him as a member of the team rather than an African American. Another guy shouts all sorts of racist crap at him and his teammate jumps in to stop it. Durocher gets fired for sleeping with a movie starlet and another guy shows up and pretty much does nothing. With Jackies help the team gets into the World Series and the movie kind of peters off without a real conclusion.
I thought Chad Boseman did a great job with this role. One star. A really good story and one my mother will enjoy immensely. Two stars. Harrison Ford. One star. The period was well portrayed and accurate. You really got the feeling you were in post WWII America. One star. The portrayal of racism was well done, moving from out and out Southern cartoon characters (like the cop at one game) to more subtle things like the team signing a petition to not play with Jackie or an umpire purposely blowing a call against Jackie. One star. The gradual acceptance of Jackie on the team and the acknowledgement of the changing of the times was kind of refreshing to see. One star. Nichole Beharie has a heart breaker face. One star. Overall a quality film. Two stars. Total: ten stars.
The Black Holes:
That nagging question of whether this was an accurate portrayal or just an over the top in your face jumble kind of distracted me from enjoying the film. One black hole. With the exception of Jackie, the owner, and first manager, the entire Brooklyn Dodgers more or less morphed into pasty smear of white dudes. I was struggling to tell any of them apart. They all had the same short haired beefy look look normally associated with military policemen and tow truck drivers, and more or less sounded the same. I don’t know how they could have done it differently but I just found it confusing and distracting. One black hole. Jackie’s wife Rachel was portrayed as pretty two dimensional, and there was a supporting reporter who was supposed to add some back story to it but kind of got lost in the shuffle. Plus there was a couple of kid characters who felt really out of place. One black hole. The movie ending felt more like they just ran out of footage. The completed with a “where are they now” montage that was kind of cool but I think a stronger denouement would have been more impactful. One black hole. Total: Four black holes.
So a grand total of six stars. In spite of my doubts as to the veracity of the portrayal I think this was a cool movie and I’m glad I saw it. You will remain in your seat for the entire 128 minutes. Date movie? Sure, why not. Show her how forward thinking you are. Plus if you are a baseball fan here is your chance to maybe get her into it. Bathroom break? Nothing really stands out as not worth seeing. I suppose the scene after Jackie gets injured and they are stitching up his leg could be missed but if you can hold it do so.
Thanks for reading. I will be seeing Scary Movie 5 later today so look for that review tomorrow. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Comments on this film or my review can be left here. Any off topic questions or suggestions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Talk to you soon.
I get the joke. Crood = crude as in neanderthals. However, the title literally says nothing about the film and is a made up word that sounds like it could be mistaken for a weird sexual sub culture like cloppers or steampunks. Also do you want the word crude in your title if you movie is not about oil? Most kids movie titles have a simple description in them. Toy Story was a story about toys. Finding Nemo was about finding a fish named Nemo. Cars was about cars. You get the picture.
Title aside, how was the movie? Not bad. Definitely leaned more towards kids than adults in the humor section, but Dreamworks does know how to craft an animated movie. Honestly I would say it was slightly less than I had hoped for but at least in the range of what I expected. The humor and story didn’t have all the adult appeal that a better film such as the Incredibles would include (Incredibles logo from the Cartoon T Shirt category) but there was the attempt. It’s definitely a movie that pretty much anyone on the planet of almost any age can enjoy, which is what all “family” movies look for.
Kids movies are hard to review. As I have stated before I don’t do my usual stars/black holes routine for them as I think quantifying a kids movie is a waste of time. If I were to hit this movie for specific annoyances one thing that would definitely hit them for would be the sound track. I don’t know who they got to produce the music (oh, wait. Yes I do. Thank you IMDB. Alan Sivestri-the Avengers, Captain America, Beowolf) but he must have been watching a lot of 70’s porn lately (actually that kind of makes sense when you consider Ron Jeremy looks a lot like a cave man. By the way if you just laughed you are officially a degenerate). The music is intrusive as hell and really got on me. It’s not all 70’s porn but rather a mishmash of bad choices all designed to get on my jock. I rarely notice a soundtrack in any movie I see so when I do you know it’s bugging me.
I will say I was pleased to see a role that Nicolas Cage could get behind and do really well with. His last couple of movies have not been where you would imagine a career spanning 3 decades would want to go.
The story is of the Croods, a family of cave men (and women) who live in a cave and spend their lives in fear of everything outside, which for the most part all wants to eat them. The father Grug (Nicolas Cage-Drive Angry, Season of the Witch, Valley Girl) teaches his family that anything new is to be feared and their best chance to be safe is to never leave the cave except when looking for food. The rest of the family (wife Ugga (Catherine Keener-Into the Wild, Being John Malkovich, the 40 Year Old Virgin), son Thunk (Clark Duke-Kick Ass, Hot Tub Time Machine, Sex Drive), grandmother Gran (Cloris Leachman-Young Frankenstein, the Iron Giant, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), baby Sandy (Randy Thom-the Incredibles, How to Train Your Dragon, Forrest Gump)) all agree with him with the exception of teenage daughter Eep (Emma Stone-Crazy, Stupid Love, Zombieland, the Help) who wants to explore. She sneaks out one night and meets Guy (Ryan Reynolds-Green Lantern, the Change Up, Safe House), a more advanced human who has the secret to fire. He tells her that the world is coming to an end and they have to get to higher ground or something.
Now go rent Ice Age: the Meltdown and you have the rest of the movie. The family has to keep moving to stay ahead of the wall of impending doom while overcoming assorted prehistoric (sort of. Not sure if this is supposed to be Earth at all. I don’t recall giant birds with four wings or rodents with two heads connected by a long tail from my Natural History class) obstacles. Grug is threatened by the presence of Guy while Eep has the hots for him. Lots of comic relieve shows up, as well as a ton of cute future plush toys.
Like I said I won’t do the whole star/black hole thing. I judge kids movies by how the kids in the audience seem to be acting and for the most part they all appeared to be enjoying it. None of them got bored and started acting out, so I guess if you are trying to keep your children entertained you could do a lot worse. Would I want to take my non-existant children to see it? Probably. Nothing to damage their tender brains (or my toughened one for that matter). Funny enough to keep mom and dad entertained but not so engrossing that if one of you wanted to bunk out for a smoke and make a phone call or three you would miss much. I predict this DVD will grace many a family entertainment collection in order to keep the kids out of your hair. By the way, the 3D was remarkably ineffective for an animated film.
Date movie? Sure, for mom and dad with kids. The movie isn’t so amazing or iconographic that a single girl you are courting will get turned on by it (plus no princesses). Bathroom break? Pretty much anywhere, but the best place is probably when the family is up in the tree resting and Grug is trying to come up with ideas.
Thenks for reading. I might not be able to post again until Tuesday. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Post comments on this film or my review here, and if you have an off topic question or comment feel free to email me at email@example.com. Talk to you soon.
I haven’t had a lot of time for blogging as I am dealing with the second flood in my warehouse in a week. My upstairs neighbors are the most moronic dregs of humanity available. I’m seeing Burt Wonderstone tonight so look for that review tomorrow.
However, on Wednesday I went to movie night and my friend Brian showed us The Iron Giant. This movie made my 10 best animated movies list and after last night I’m glad I included it. It has everything a kid and/or adult nerd could want in a film: a giant friendly robot who turns into an unstoppable killing machine. Really, what more do you want for a great flick?
One thing I learned during the course of the film is the guy who made the film, Brad Bird, was considered a failure after this film tanked in the box office and was on his way out when he got an offer from fledgling animation company Pixar to make the Incredibles. Thank god for someone’s sharp eye at Pixar.
Anyway, sorry for the brief blog but I have been up to my bottom in dealing with idiots. Look for a complete review tomorrow. The Iron Giant image comes to us from the Cartoon T Shirt category, by the way. Talk to you soon.
A disturbing good movie.
Katherine Bigalow is a very talented movie maker. She has a gritty, no fluff approach that makes for movies that draw you in and engage you in ways guys who think multi million dollar special effects budgets in place of story telling are the way to go never can (cough cough Micheal Bey cough cough). She is an excellent director and I would see and most likely enjoy any film she made.
All her talents are evident in this film and I enjoyed it on many levels. However, this film labors under the curse of not only being derived from real events but derived from real events that we are all intimately familiar with and really care about a lot. I remember being happy when Osama Bin Laden was killed but at the same time being disturbed by the means by which it happened. He was an animal and deserved what happened to him (and were I alone in a room with him I would have happily beaten him to death with the nearest blunt object I could find), but the Unites States is a country of law and seeing men and women of our military and intelligence use water boarding, starvation, sleep deprivation, and summary execution of injured prisoners was really disturbing. This was made even more so in the knowledge that all those things really happened. Like the issue I always had with Titanic the idea of the seven CIA agents killed in a car bomb I just saw on the screen having really died is very off putting, as is the idea that we kept guys naked in a box sleeping in their own filth.
The other victim of the “based on true events” demon is the idea of a story arc. As this film is chronicled over ten years of real events there wasn’t much opportunity to show anything resembling a three act story line, or any kind of plot complication other than “Where the hell is he?” I honestly think some opportunities were missed. The main character, Maya (Jessica Chastain-Lawless, Tree of Life, The Help-hey, a trifecta! I think this is the first time I have had a star where I did three or more reviews) could have actually shown a character arc, but we learn so little about her personally and she plays the character so dead pan that you really can’t come to grips with what she is supposed to be feeling. There is some attempt in the last 1/3rd of the film and some kind of breakthrough in the last 30 seconds, but for the most part she was the robotic soulless automaton. The story could have also had more of an arc had they tried to dig a little deeper in to the investigation more Scooby Doo like (Scooby Doo image courtesy of the Cartoon T-Shirt category). You know, follow the money trail, etc. Instead it always falls back on to “enhanced interrogation” of insurgents. By the end of the movie the story felt like it was wearing interrogation water wings.
But again, since this is a true story odds are this is actually how it happened and I can’t really fault the movie for that. I’m just saying if you are going to the film in hopes of seeing something that fits into a more traditional story mode prepare to be disappointed. The story isn’t 100% accurate (in fact, I don’t know if it is even 70% accurate) but it was based on as much truth as possible.
I don’t know if I need to go into the story too much. SPOILER ALERT: Osama Bin Laden dies at the end. The movie covers the 10 year investigation to find him, driven for the most part by Maya in spite of some minor issues with other people trying to set other priorities. She was recruited in to the CIA in high school and has done nothing in her adult life beside hunt for OBL. Other than that, we know literally nothing about her. I actually learned more about some of the soldiers who carried out the raid at the end (and consequently like them more).
Anyway, guys get water boarded (and other things that some people might construe as cruel and unusual punishment). Stuff gets blown up. You get to see a little bit of what might be the internal workings of the CIA. After two hours of very little action you get to see an amazing raid by Navy SEALS that was really cool to watch.
The stars. Generally excellent film, with all of the Katherine Bigalow (Point Break, Hurt Locker) style. Three stars. As long as she was supposed to be cast as a remorseless CIA hunter, Jessica Chastain nailed it. One star. From a history perspective the film was really neat. One star. The raid in the Osama compound was super cool. Two stars. You do end up with a certain grim satisfaction at the end of the film even if you are not of a super patriotic bent (if you are you will probably have to change your shorts). One star. Total: Eight stars.
The black holes. If you are particularily empathetic, or feel water boarding is torture, a lot of the stuff our guys had to do to find him will really screw your head up. One black hole. Pacing was erratic. Sometimes it felt like the film was moving incredibly fast, other times it felt like it had gotten stuck in the mud and the director was just spinning the wheels. One black hole. That lack of a story or character arc I discussed earlier. One black hole. Total: three black holes.
A grand total of five stars. Should you see it? Probably. If you will be really turned off by the techniques used to hunt him down maybe not, but for the most part this is one of those films every American should see once. Date movie? No, not really. There is nothing going on the screen that will encourage your date to take off her clothes. Bathroom break? That’s a tough one. The scattered nature of this story means that at any moment a critical plot point could be dropped without warning. I’d say your best bet is the scene in Langley where the guy in charge bitches out everyone about how they suck at finding OBL and his cronies. It’s actually a good scene, but doesn’t contribute anything to the plot.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to post comments on this film or review here. Off topic questions or suggestions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org (invitations by studios to see advanced screenings of movies are particularly welcome. If there are any studio marketing people amoung my tens of readers I’ll buy you a Slurpee if you can make that happen). Follow me on Twitter or subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks and have a great day.
This is literally making me sick to my stomach. I felt the first queasiness when Michael Bay, bane of all movie franchises, announced he was going to do the next TMNT movie, but I saw him saying on a stage that he is planning on making them “funny, lovable aliens” rather than mutants and started vomiting all over my desk here. Why are there never any good snipers around when you really need one? Dave is going to flip when he gets back from Italy.
Then I heard that they are changing the title from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Ninja Turtles and I lost my lunch a second time. Middle aged ninja turtles?
Really, why is this even necessary? Aren’t the TMNT cool enough already? Do you really feel the need to make them somehow uncool? Also, aren’t ninjas an Earth thing, not alien thing? Why would aliens who possess the technology to travel from another galaxy want to fight with ninja weapons? Don’t the have ray guns or something? What the hell happened to Master Splinter?
Dave has always led the charge against Micheal Bay, and I have not been as hard core about it. Sure, Transformers has it’s issues but parts of it are entertaining. However, this move has franchise doom written all over it. Has Hollywood not learned anything from the Avengers and how much better you do if you stick with canon? Anyone else remember when the TMNTs were true ninjas and would kill people?
Anyway, this move sucks. The Dim Mak image I took from Dave’s cartoon t shirts. Cool if you are a true fan.
Sorry no movie today. I spent all day at our new office/warehouse and am totally beat. However, while sorting and folding a huge pile of cartoon t shirts like our friend Marvin the Martian here a bunch of the questions that have been cluttering up my cerebral cortex regarding cartoons popped up. I thought I would post them here in case any of you have any kind of insight. Here are a few of the most poignant.
Road Runner-this question seems pretty obvious, but it is perplexing: if Wile E Coyote could afford to order all those thing from Acme, couldn’t he just as easily afford to order a pizza or something? Same thing with Sylvester and Tweetie. They seem to live in an urban enviroment. You mean to tell me there is not Church’s or Chick Fil A within a reasonable distance? You would think after the fourth or fifth frying pan to the face Sylvester would have gotten the message.
Duck Tales-Why does Scrooge McDuck keep all his money in a giant money bin as a target for the Beagle Boys? If he is smart enough to earn all that money why isn’t he smart enough to figure out how to put his money in a bank? Not only would it be safer (and earn interest), it would be federally insured and if the Beagle Boys tried to rob it that would be a Federal Offense. That is a level of pain beyond the pale. Sure, he would not be able to go swimming in his money, but given that 99% of his stress is related to getting robbed wouldn’t that be worth it? For that matter how the hell does he swim in all that money? I’ve never had enough coins and bills to fill even a bath tub, but I have a Sparklets jug half full of loose change and I can say that if I dove head first into it I would probably break my neck.
Speed Buggy-if Tinker is smart enough to make a dune buggy that can think, fall in love, and control itself, isn’t he smart enough to create one without a major speech impediment?
Scooby Doo-the list of questions I have on this show would fill a library (most of them having to do with what exactly is in those Scooby Snacks?) but the one that bugs me the most is why is it the gang always finds someone trying to scare everyone away with a ghost pirate costume in order to smuggle diamonds, and never guys smuggling drugs across the border who scare meddling kids off with bullets? Also, shouldn’t the gang be roped into weeks if not months of testimony at the trial of every crook they catch, not bouncing off to their next adventure? For that matter what the hell do they do for money? There always seems to be pizza money. There is a dark part of my soul that secretly hopes the gang is into the sex trade and the Mystery Machine is some kind of rolling pimp wagon.
Winnie the Pooh-yes, I am recycling this one from my movie review, but it is still bugging me. Where is Roo’s father? Is Kanga a widow, or is her husband a deadbeat? Maybe he was abusive and she escaped to the 100 Acres Woods to hide out from him. Also, of you are a kangaroo why would your mom name you Kanga and you then in turn name your son Roo? That’s like if my name was Hu and I named my son Man. Everyone else has a fairly normal name.
I think that’s enough Zen conundrums for one evening. Odds are I will return to this on another slow night, as I have a ton of these. If you have any answers feel free to message me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu or post a comment here. If you have specific questions or suggestions feel free to email me at email@example.com. I will be finally seeing Pirates tomorrow so look for a review on that later. Thanks for reading. Talk to you later.
Wow this is lame. Caucasian pretty boy Zac Efron of High School Musical fame is supposed to play Japanese badass Shotaro Kaneda? How does that even make sense? There are no qualified Japanese actors anywhere in the world?
Also, while I am on the subject how can the even decide to ruin great Manga like Akira by excreting a live action movie all over it? Didn’t they learn anything from Dragonball Z? I don’t think you can find it any more, but you should try to see the video of Manga fan Hitler finding out about the changes they made to the story to create that bomb. Vegeta image courtesy of the Cartoon T Shirts, by the way.
Before I get into the dating advice, I have to tell you about the greatest online comic book ever: Axecop. It is about a cop who uses an axe, and is written by a five year old and illustrated by his 29 year old brother. Truly amazing.
So we are exploring the mysterious and (to be honest) dangerous world of online dating. I think I will for the next several posts list some phrases that are relatively common in online profiles and then translate them into English. This is so you know what to look for and also what to use or not use on your post. To keep it interesting for my female viewers for each post (where appropriate) I will for each listing translate both the female and male usage. A lot of these will probably by physical and kind of insulting, so please don’t hate on me.
“A few extra pounds.” For women a few can be translated into anything from 3 to 47, but usually ends up in the 15 to 20 pounds overweight. This is the phrase women use when they know if they really buckled down and ate less and exercised more they could get back to their fighting trim in a matter of weeks. Men who describe themselves as this weight are typically 10-15 pounds overweight and have been so for the last 10 years. They usually don’t show it so much.
“Curvy.” For women, this usually means a large bust and a huge ass. No man should ever use this phrase.
“Brawny.” For women, lesbian. For guys, fat.
“Rubenesque.” This is a girl code word for fat. She is hoping the guys are too dumb or ignorant to know what this means, so odds are she has little respect for men as well.
“Husky.” This is less a guy code word for fat so much as it is a guy self delusion that they are not fat. Guys who call themselves husky are in serious self denial with regards to their weight, and are also inevitably convinced that they are about 80 times more fit than they actually are so some amusement can be had by asking them to run around the block or do a push up or something. (Homer image courtesy of the Simpsons t shirts category)
“BBW.” Ahoy, Captain Ahab! Your search is at an end. Actually I have respect for women who are comfortable describing themselves this way, as they are cool with having their own personal postal code. Not that I would date one. Note for women, guys who describe themselves as being into BBWs generally have some serious mommy issues.
“Athletic.” For women, this means never ending yoga, running, and a ton of fitness. Generally these women teach spin classes or something. All good, but you had better be cut from the same cloth or she will walk out of the first meeting without even giving you a handshake. For guys, this usually means he played football in high school and still hasn’t come to grips with the fact that he sits on his ass 22 hours a day.
“Fit.” For women, this is very similar to athletic for men. She played high school volleyball and still does yoga a couple times a week but spend most of her time behind a desk. Likes to hike on the weekend. Oddly enough, for men this generally means more actually fit. These guys tend to run a few days a week and hit the gym regularly.
“Very fit.” Generally very good for both sexes. This description is one where it means more or less the same for both sexes. These people tend to be the ones who yell at you for being in the wrong lane as they pass you on their $12,000 road bike on a 50 mile ride. They also tend to be real type A personalities and painfully uptight.
“Muscular.” Or body builder. Very rare for women, but if you meet one be prepared for a deep voice and the potential of facial hair. For men they tend to be freaking huge (except where it counts, if you catch my double entendre). Regardless of men or women, if you date this person be prepared to be the submissive in the relationship. Men in particular tend to be controlling roid-fueled rage-o-holics.
That’s it for tonight. Tomorrow we’ll get into more of the personality catch phrases.
Yesterday’s who-would-win question was Xena versus Buffy. I think I am going to have to go with Xena, just for build alone. Also, while Buffy was born to be the Slayer, Xena spent her childhood training to be a warrior while Buffy was training to be a cheerleader.
For today’s question I am going to indulge myself with a simple match up: who would win-Spock from TOS versus any single character from Star Trek Next Generation except Q?
So I thought we were going to see Highlander the Quickening and then a reel of some of the horrible planet Zeist stuff, but it turns out that my friend actually found a laser disk copy of the original release with all the scenes placed properly in it’s correct place. It was an evening of agony, and I have to write about it.
Here’s the deal. I saw Highlander the Quickening it it’s abridged version back in 1991 in a theater and thought it kind of sucked then. Age has not softened my opinion about it. However, it turns out that when the movie was being filmed in Argentina the company that financed it (insurance, I guess) was really worried about losing money on it (a legitimate concern, based on the final edited product) and somehow, in the worst contract in movie history, gained creative control and forced in an entirely different sub plot into the movie involving a failed rebellion on a distant planet called Zeist. Let’s just say the movie, which already sucked like an undertow, took a turn for the stupid surreal. It’s like the plot died a horrible death in its first incarnation and the the evil scientist (played by the insurance company) resurrecting it as a zombie to stumble around the screen spewing bile and embalming fluid all over the screen before stumbling off to suck somewhere else.
Here is how I picture the movie in my role of King of Analogies. Back in high school I used to get a two pack of twinkies. I would take a straw and suck all the filling out of one of them through the holes in the bottom. Then I would fill it back up with ketchup. I would go up to one of my friends and start eating the good one while saying “Hey man, want a twinkie?” This movie is like getting the bad twinkie, but instead of ketchup it’s filled with a mix of Ex-lax and epecac, so you end up spewing chunks out at both ends. Not really so much painful as just disgusting and disappointing.
Sigh. Here is the plot summary. It is the far off year of 1999 and the ozone layer is more or less destroyed. Connor MacLeod, with the help of a guy who looks like an escaped garden gnome without the hat, invent the Shield, which covers the entire earth and protects it from the ultraviolet radiation. Flash forward to 2024. The earth is now super hot and wet all the time for being trapped inside the Shield, which is under the control of a multinational evil company call the Shield Corporation which apparently generates profit just by existing. MacLeod is now a decrepit old man but still has the Fabio-style haircut. He goes to an opera and during a scene falls asleep (or has an acid trip) and suddenly we hear his old headless buddy Ramirez’s voice and see the words “500 Years Ago on Planet Zeist.” No joke. Really, that is what happens. Ramirez and Highlander are the leaders of a revolution against the evil General Katana (wait a minute! Didn’t MacLeod carry a katana in the last movie? Was this an tribute to the first movie or just really lazy writing? I would bet on the latter). They get captured, mainly because they seem to be fighting against an army that has heavy artillery and are themselves carrying swords. The rest of their friends get killed, but for some bizarre reason rather than just executing them Katana allows the local priesthood to transport them to Earth and make them immortal.
Wait a minute. Their “punishment” is to be immortalized and transported to Earth in order to compete from “the Prize?” Also didn’t the first movie start off with MacLeod as a young man with the Clan MacLeod with relatives and everything? Also, at one point Katana calls him Highlander, which in the first movie was pretty clearly a reference to being from the Scottish Highlands. Does that mean he was from the Highlands of Zeist and then coincidentally landed in the only place on earth also called the Highlands with no memory of his extraterrestrial life? Also, he and Ramirez were friends on Zeist but had to reintroduce themselves to each other in Earth? Bear with me, gentle reader. It will all make sense in the end (not).
Anyway, in a move ripped straight from the Evil Villain Handbook of Stupid Moves, Katana sends two morons to try to kill MacLeod, who is more or less content to grow old and die. MacLeod kills one, gets young again, and kills the other in a really stupid battle in spite of the fact that it involves a hoverboard. Meanwhile, there is some sub plot about how the ozone layer is back and the Shield Corporation (with evil CEO played by John McGinley from Scrubs) is just keeping it up to maintain their profits. The romantic love interest is fighting against the Shield Corp (ever heard of a subpoena?), finds MacLeod, and they hook up. Ramirez (yes, played by Sean Connery. I don’t think it coincidence that the two movies that I have despised the most on this blog have both starred him) is resurrected in Scotland through the magic of the Quickening and the Shield, where he steals a prop sword and trades a single pearl earring for something like $40,000 worth of clothing, transportation, and I guess a fake passport. Sword fights happen, security mooks from the Shield Corp prove to be Stormtrooper accurate and die by the bushel, and General Katana (Michael Ironside) appears to be the villain behind a plot that has no reason to exist. He also wrecks a subway car full of children by having it go in excess of 500 mystery units per hour into a brick wall while channeling Ozzy from Crazy Train. It all boils down to a final sword fight that looks like it was actually an edited down version of two different fights, since MacLeod’s sword keeps going from evil looted blade to Ramirez’s old katana and back again. Ramirez also sacrifices himself to save MacLoed and the chick from the operationally critical “Crushing Fan Room” with magic powers(?). Good triumphs over evil (sort of, unless you consider bad writing, direction, filming, and acting evil) and the world is happily released from the prison of the Shield (sorry if that was a spoiler, but if you want to go out and see this garbage after this review you probably enjoy pain and should be thanking me for helping to make the experience worse).
Anyway, the stars. They kept the original main character actors, Connery and Christopher Lambert. One grudging star. The romantic interest girl was kind of cute, in an 80s beehive haircut sort of way. One star. There was a hoverboard. One star. Every scene was at night, so we didn’t have to see how cruddy all the sets probably were. One star (get the feeling I reaching here?). Four stars total.
Now the black holes. The story made absolutely no sense. It couldn’t have been less confusing if it had been in a foreign language and run backwards. Five black holes. The sword fighting was awkward and badly choreographed, although everything else sucked so I don’t know why this wouldn’t suck too. Three black holes. In spite of being 8 years in the future all the cars were somehow from the 60s. One black hole. The acting from everyone, even Connery, sucked. Two black holes. Planet Zeist. Three black holes. Every guy except the corporate CEO had bad Fabio/Meatloaf style long hair. One black hole each, so three black holes. MacLeod’s Scottish accent, which seemed cool in the first movie, made all his painfully long monologues seem even more forced and insincere than they actually were. Two black holes. It more or less ruined my positive memories of the first Highlander. Four black holes. The writers felt they had to create an origin of the Immortals that made zero sense. One black hole. Total: 24 black holes.
Grand total, 20 black holes. Truly awful. Rumor has it that the director walked out of the premier 15 minutes in, which would put it about the time the words 500 years ago on planet Zeist would have appeared on the screen. Also, there is a story that Christopher Lambert had a finger severed during one of the sword fighting scenes and had it reattached. If they had shown that I think I would have given them another star. Michael Ironsides is also supposed to have had his teeth chipped in another scene. Face it. The gods of film did not want to see this thing get done.
As for yesterday’s question of Dwight Scrute versus Egon Spengler, I think it could go either way. Dwight is generally better armed and has studied martial arts, and once maced a guy at work. However, Spengler has faced the undead and other horrors. I think in a regular fight I would have to bet on Dwight, as he seems eager for the violence. I do know I would definitely want to watch this fight. It would be entertaining. (Ghostbusters image courtesy of the science fiction t shirts category).
For today, I need you all the think outside the box a little, as this next one is less a straight up fight and more about a long story. Here it is. Who would win: the Scooby Doo gang investigating the mystery of Freddy Kruegar?