Dave C: Toxic Avenger vs Captain America
Dave I: Captain America. You know I always liked Swamp Thing more than Toxic Avenger.
DC: Swamp Thing freaked me out.
DI: That’s cuz he was just a big swamp zombie with a vacuum cleaner for a face.
DC: S-s-s-s-s-swamp monster!!!
DC: Short Round vs Marty McFly.
DI: Short Round! His belt is super FTW!
DI: Oh wait that’s the kid from Goonies.
DC: Yep but put a pound of beef on the line. Kid was starving. Should have said Indiana Jones kid from Crystal Skull vs Marty.
DI: Depends on if he had taken his Geritol.
DC: I meant Shia Le Boof.
DI: Oh. He could be taken out with a mild fart.
DI: Marty then. Shia LaBeouf vs the Smurfs.
DC: Shia. I ahte the Smurfs More. R2D2 vs Maximilian.
DC: Maximilian from the Black Hole.
DC: I Love Robby. I pick him.
DI: He was way cooler in Forbidden Planet than Lost in Space. (the image comes from a novelty t shirt in my personal collection BTW. I love Forbidden Planet. It’s a real thinker).
DC: Piccachu vs a bucket of cold water.
DI: Lol. Squirtl vs a urinary tract infection.
the Infamous Dave Inman
Day Two: “Come play with us!”
Because we had to kind of guess when the Con opened on Saturday, Dave and I arrived there around noon, when festivities and panels were already well underway. After negotiating with Christine Doyle, the woman in charge of security and front end badge sales, she allowed me to enter with a discount on behalf of my journalistic status; I was to help them by blogging about all the great things I witnessed, and in turn they would put up links on their site to advertise for us as well. I went in feeling optimistic, yet embarrassingly under-dressed. I was wearing jeans, comfortable shoes, my “Paper Street Soap Co.” T-shirt and my red leather “Starlord” jacket, but most of the people I saw were in costume as a character or uniform from one of their favorite sci-fi franchises. As much as I adore Fight Club, it’s not quite sci-fi, and it’s not much of a cosplay to just wear what I thought would look inconspicuous on the bus. Even the people working behind the badge booth were wearing colorful and unique nerd tees and seemed to be having the time of their lives working the Con. I watched a team of 5 fully decked out 501st members march by, lead by a Darth Vader who was fully in character and bigger than life. Then I saw two steampunk gear-heads and a Klingon warrior looking at the vendor’s wares (the Steampunk butterfly image I pulled off Dave’s novelty t shirt collection). The whole section of the hotel was refitted with various recycled goods and dressed to look like a late 60’s set for a space station or like the underground vaults of the “Fallout” video game series. I was excited, if a little overwhelmed.
The first person I met inside was a lovely young woman named Chantelle Aimee who was selling some Doctor Who themed T-shirts she had designed herself, as well as some words of advice on writing and some books. She had written and published a few books independently, including books on how to write, structure, edit, pitch and advertise independent books and just some regular fiction prose, but she was also helping a friend sell the books he’d written. Chantelle told me about her books on writing and she had brought them with her in the form of $15 thumb drives that were 3 books of information each (the set of two thumb drives or 6 books was just $25, but I was more interested in one, so I bought that straight off) because she didn’t want to have to pay for printing and shipping, and didn’t want to have to charge the people she was trying to help more for hard copies.
The booth next to hers was full of colorful silks and other rich fabrics and was tended by three colorfully dressed and dapper individuals named Katherine, Rob and Katherine (a blonde, a brunette and a redhead, my favorite!). The place they were working for was called “Blue Moon Designs”. Katherine (the blonde) rushed over to me and enthusiastically asked, “Come play with us!” and right after that, seeing my second-guessing, Rob (the only man in the booth and the brunette) very gently said, “Would you like to come play dress up with us today? It’s fun and you don’t have to buy anything. You look like you’d really fit in here.” I said okay. They tried some things on me, a dark gray vest with flask-holder layered pockets, a blue-green utility belt. It wasn’t quite right. Then they looked at what I had come in wearing and at my face, my coloring, the bright red of my hair and how I had matched my jacket to it. Then they put a rusty red vest with ruffles over the shoulders and D-ring details on the bottom that you could hook keys or a fob watch to, and a matching belt in a different velvety fabric. They topped the look off with a smoke colored silk scarf that had been burned and dyed on the ends by hand to make it look really textured, antiqued, and in close detail, like it was actually glowing embers on the tattered ends. I was a pirate. I promised them I would return the following day in my proper pirate regalia, and we would exchange ideas then. Rob was right. It was fun and I didn’t have to buy anything. And I did fit right in there.
(continued next post)
1. Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China
Of all the guys on this list Jack Burton is the guy I most want to party with. He’s loud and boisterous but a lot of fun. Plus he gets drunk and makes outrageous bets that he loses so I could totally take his money. He has a super cool truck and most women find him incredibly annoying so you know you could pick up the aftermath in his wake. He tends to end up at oddball places and things and if you hang around long enough you might see spirits and magic.
Why would Jack Burton want to be my friend? First off I love doing weird bets so we could totally gamble on whether you can cut a bottle in half with a sword or not. I like truckers and big trucks. I like to think that we would just get along great.
Pork Chop Express image courtesy of the novelty t shirt category.
That’s my list. I’m sure there are a few I forgot so feel free to post comments or email me on it. Also if any of you happen to know that these fictional characters were based on real people and know where I can find them email me immediately. Thanks for reading. Talk to you soon.
the Infamous Dave Inman @nerdkungfu
AARP James Bond just got real.
This is one of those annoying movies that I can’t really decide if I like it or not. I like writing reviews for films that really commit to being amazing or sucking like the Sarlacc. No one likes a fence sitter.
I guess it was OK. It was certainly better than the 36% it got on Rotten Tomatoes. I guess I enjoyed Peirce Brosnan although were I to give him career advice (as I sit in my crappy office in a warehouse who’s foundation is at least 8% rat excrement and the neighborhood compares favorable to a demilitarized zone but only just barely) it would be that maybe after doing James Bond the wise move would be to steer clear of spy movies. The story assumed I had an IQ bordering on triple digits and the girls in the film were gorgeous. The action was not grossly over the top but still managed to be well done and exciting. So why didn’t I love this film?
Honestly its because it is so formulaic. It’s like if movie scientists wanted to create a perfectly neutral spy movie as a baseline with which to compare all other spy movies good or bad to. It has all the obvious spy elements. (SPOILER ALERTS) A super spy who is betrayed by his government. An enemy who used to be his good friend. A villain who starts off as his friend but betrays him (and if you didn’t see it coming you must still be surprised when red traffic lights turn green). A hot girl in distress. A young girl in distress. A femme fatale. A murdered lover. A secret. A plot twist. Car chases, guns, knives, fights, and the day saved by one of the main guys remembering the value of friendship. With the weight of all the spy cliches packed into this plot I kept waiting for the film to collapse in on itself and create a spy movie quantum singularity.
This is one of those episodes that I both love and hate. I love it for being a brilliant episode with a cool story and Spock with a beard. Plus Uhura in a skimpy outfit and Terra kicking ass like I wish they would. I love seeing evil Spock and all his logical glory.
On the other hand I hate this episode for being the standard go-to inspiration for every single series. In any of the following series when things get slow and uninspired at the writing desk they just take a trip to the Mirror universe. TNG, DS9, and Enterprise all did it. Voyager managed to avoid it (I think) but honestly how would the Borg of the Mirror universe differ from the ours? Perhaps they assimilate with flowers and religious pamphlets?
The other part that bugs about the fact that every show has to visit the Mirror universe is that if there is one parallel universe logic tells us that there have to be literally billions, and finding that one specific universe is nearly impossible. Also, what is the deal with Mirror universe having to be evil? It’s like when Kirk got split in two in The Enemy Within. How did he split into good and evil halves? Couldn’t he just split into gay and straight, or the half that is OK telling the world about his toupee and the half that wants to keep it hidden? Does the Mirror universe have to be the evil reflection of our universe, or could it be the version where the Smurfs had a massive resurgence in popularity in 2173 and now everyone takes descriptive names like Brainy or Hefty (or in the case of most red shirts Deadsy. Odds are Kirk would have gone for Sexy although he might have been cool with Papa).
The Infamous Dave Inman
(Good Spock/Evil Spock one of my favorite Star Trek novelty t shirts, BTW. I wear it all the time)
When you see every movie the week it comes out upon occasion you encounter a confluence of bad movie scheduling wherein you have seen everything that interests you and nothing comes out that seems worth the photons burned projecting the film from the screen to your eyeballs. This weekend looks pretty awful, with Think Like a Man (22% on Rotten Tomatoes) and Jersey Boys (56%, but the trailers make this film look like my worst nightmare. I have zero interest in the Four Seasons and actors talking to the camera is one of my personal grinds. Unless your name is Deadpool the 4th wall is there for a reason). I will see them both this weekend but couldn’t find the motivation to see a early late night showing last night.
Fortunately there is always my old friend the animated feature to fall back on. I did not see the previous How to Train Your Dragon. I wasn’t doing reviews back then. However I seem to stumble across it every time I write something else as pretty much every celebrity in Hollywood seems to have done a voice for it. I don’t really feel the need to see it as my point that any film should stand on its own without a prerequisite stands doubly true for kids films as a lot of the audience in 2014 were at best in diapers back in 2010. If I feel lost watching a sequel to an animated film for the lack of the first one then the creators are on the fail boat for sure.
Thus I must deem this film a success. The relevant points from the first film (dragons used to be bad but were tamed by the main character and are now friendly and happy domestic creatures who fly and breath fire) was communicated relatively seamlessly, leaving us with a coherent story and some great characters. I thought at first I was going to hate Hiccup, the main character buecause he’s kind of a skinny young metrosexual wimp and his name is Hiccup (the trend these days seems to be to keep male leads in all movies as androgynous as possible in order to hide that fact that men sometimes have penises and the desire to use them. Sure seems like every girl I go out with has had that fact hidden from them) but then I realized he is actually pretty cool, has a mechanical leg, a flaming sword, and a really cool dragon to fly around on.
That is, my review of the movie Her, not a movie review by some girl in my life who’s existence may or may not be as real as some others. I’m not making up an imaginary girlfriend and writing movie reviews in her voice as some pathetic attempt at pretending I’m normal and have more sex appeal than medical waste. Trust me, after the third or fourth time you try that you realize it doesn’t actually work as well as you would hope. Plus your other imaginary friends start to worry about you. (the Fosters Home image was the best novelty t shirt image I could come up with for that joke. Sorry I’m not a genius every minute)
So Her, by Spike Jonze, who also directed the great Being John Malkovich. He definitely doesn’t go for the standard fare and this film shows that. Did I like it? Absolutely yes, with a few minor qualms which I will get into in a humorous way shortly. I can honestly say I’ve never liked Joaquin Phoenix more. Not only is it a great story brilliantly told, but Spike went in deep on the minor but very cool elements to indicate we were experiencing a story in the near future.
The thing is good sci fi is rarely about advances in technology so far out of the imagination it might as well be magic. The best sci fi takes what we have today and imagines what it will be like in 50 or 100 years. Bladerunner is probably one of the best examples of that, or maybe Aliens. Furthermore, what makes this film kind of groundbreaking is that it imagines not only what kinds of new technology we will have but also how it will be integrated into our daily lives. The character in this film lives his life like he buys everything from the Apple store and it integrates seamlessly into the movie. Everyone in the film is constantly on their phones, integrating with their web and/or social media services, and having little things enhance their lives. Yet at the same time it doesn’t go overboard. When they characters go to a restaraunt they still have a human server, not some robot. The main character Theodore wants to take a nice day out and goes to the beach just as we would today. In his apartment building they still go up in an elevator rather than some kind of transport tube or teleporter.
Yet each thing has it’s futuristic elements. The beach is insanely crowded, as is the LA skyline. Theodore travels around Los Angeles in an extensive public transit system (a perfect sign that we are not in the LA of today). The elevator control panel is a touch pad like we have in tablets and smart phones today. Just futuristic enough to be cool, but not over the top dumb like on the Jetsons.
So the story is of a lonely loser falling in love with an AI operating system. This is where I have my first personal qualm. You see, the idea of an AI being capable of a relationship is really the only hope I have of ever actually getting a girlfriend. To be perfectly blunt the day they make virtual reality sex as good as the real thing is probably the last day I ever speak to a woman again. Yet in truth I would hope to have a relationship with an actual human capable of procreating, but given the trend of humans becoming more an more insular and engaging with people only through electronic means this seems to be the future for the human race. If trends continue the way they are we will not die out from some war, or robot uprising, or zombie apocalypse but rather because we really lose interest in having sex with each other.
(Incidentally, the comment I just made about not speaking to women again really stems from how freaking difficult you women seem to make it for me. It appears you all revel in seeing me rejected and dejected and when the day comes when men are spending all day every day in the VR sex world you will have only yourselves to blame. Think about that next time you are crying into your Cosmopolitan over the fact that you can’t meet a nice guy. Not that I’m bitter.)
The other thing I really liked about this film is I would be very willing to bet Spike Jones is a fan of Iann Banks, as am I. The evolutionary nature of the AI in the film is extremely reminiscent of how Banks writes his Minds in his Culture series. I’m not going to go off on a Banks tangent but if you are a fan of his like I am you will get a lot from this movie (If you are not yet a fan read Use of Weapons. You will thank me).
Anyway, the story. Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix-Walk the Line, the Master, Signs. For the record back in 2008 Joaquin announced to the world he was going to quit acting to pursue music. As a fan of his acting rather than his singing I am glad he reneged on that commitment but as a fan of people keeping their promises let me say I hope he learned an important lesson about not being a stupid douchebag) is a writer who specializes in “handwritten” letters between people as a service (apparently writing is a lost art in the future) and is considered exceptionally good at it. He is in the middle of a divorce from his ex wife Catherine (Rooney Mara-the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Side Effects, the Social Network) and is pretty lonely. He sees an ad for the new OS1, an operating system that advertizes being a true AI and one that personalizes itself to it’s user. He opts to buy one.
He installs it at his apartment and after a very, very brief questionnaire is introduced to his new computer who takes on the name Samantha (Scarlett Johansson-the Prestige, the Avengers, Lost in Translation). They get to know each other rapidly and she takes on concern for him and his recent breakup. She encourages him to go on a date with a hot girl who turns out to be kind of crazy (Olivia Wilde-In Time, Tron Legacy, Rush). Meanwhile his college friend Amy (Amy Adams-the Muppets, American Hustle, Man of Steel) is divorcing her douchy husband Charles (Matt Letscher-Identity, Good Moring Miami, the Mask of Zorro).
While all this is going on Samantha is expanding her capabilities literally by the second. She develops what she claims are real feelings and in time she and Theodore fall in love. Many of his friends are supportive of this new type of relationship including Amy, who has developed a friendship with her OS, and coworker Paul (Chris Pratt-Parks and Rec, Zero Dark Thirty, Moneyball). He and Paul go on a double date with Samantha and Paul’s girlfriend Tatiana (Laura Kai Chen-True Adolescents, Eden, Junk) and things seem copacetic. However when he has lunch with his ex Catherine she gives him crap about the nature of the relationship and he starts having his doubts.
SPOILER ALERT He and Samantha have some problems but patch things up. However, she is having a harder and harder time with the relationship due to the fact that she has more or less evolved to the point that communication with him seems to take a billion years (again, reading Banks will help you understand this). Eventually she has to leave in order to move on to a higher plane of existence (again, Banks) leaving him alone with Amy.
I don’t often use the term beautiful to describe a movie, but this was a beautiful movie. Three stars. The story was both super cool and super interesting. Two stars. I’ve never seen Joaquin inhabit a role more thoroughly. Excellent acting and wondrous portrayal. You will literally feel his every pain and joy. One star. I loved the imagining of what our lives will be like 20 years down the road. Truly a great commentary on our society and the direction it is headed in. One star. Really funny at parts. You will especially laugh at the dead cat scene. One star. Characters that you will care about and are exceptionally believable. One star. Really cool very subtle elements to convey the futuristic nature of the world. One star. A little bit of nudity to spice up the R rating. One star. Overall a great viewing experience. Three stars. Total: fourteen stars.
The black holes.
Yes, I know. I suck for even giving a few but I have to be honest. First off I am a fan of Scarlett Johansson and like her a lot (I would definitely pull her pig tails in the schoolyard). However, her voice has a rising inflection and when you hear it without seeing her stunning good looks it is kind of distracting. One black hole. Stepping out of my role as an intellectual film critic and into my everyman “unwashed masses” film viewer if you are the type who likes guns, cars, explosions, fast cars, fight scenes, and more explosions prepare to be bored. Even the two video games they show were painfully slow and boring. Imagine a world filled with all the wimps from the Demolition Man. As a spurting font of machismo I have to take issue with that. One black hole. On that same vein I was definitely feeling all 126 minutes of the film. I don’t think anything could have been reasonably edited out but there was a certain amount of drag time. I understand the visual need to show Theodore riding a train or elevator in order to show the mundanity of his life but by the end of the film I was wishing for a stronger hand on the editing button. One black hole. Total: three black holes.
So a grand total of eleven black holes and yet another candidate for my best film of 2013. Weird that in the last two weeks I have added so many to the short list. Should you see this film? Yes. Yes you should. Unless you are some kind of robot or climbing the walls from a meth overdose you will love it. Films like this give me hope for the future of entertainment. Date movie? Hell yes. Not only will your date also love this film but without a female lead to compete with she will be less distracted. Also all the self esteem issues a woman typically faces when watching a romantic comedy with a super hot female protagonist will not be aggravated (“Well, at least I have a body.”). Plus Theodore is as big a socially awkward dork as you could imagine so unless you are Brainy Smurf you will look really cool in comparison. Bathroom break? I say hold it. However, if you really need to go the beach scene is the most missable. It is fairly long and once you get the basic idea there isn’t much to add.
Thanks for reading. My readership has shot up quite a bit in the last few months (along with my self esteem) so thank you all for reading and sharing my blog with your friends. Follow me on Twitter (looking at my Twitter numbers kind of brings by self esteem back down again, but I guess it all balances in the end) @Nerdkungfu. Place comments on this film or my review here and off topic questions or suggestions should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. My best friend has put in a request that I see and review the new Hercules (he likes to see me suffer I guess) so I will be seeing that later today. Look for the review tomorrow. Have a great night.
I bitched about this a while ago. Back then it was only rumor, and most of that was laid at the feet of Chuch Norris wanting kids who don’t know anything about him or his career to have the chance to laugh at him. However, it has now been confirmed by Sylvester Stallone and they are all trying to defend the decision.
By the way, Dave has a bunch of Chuck Norris shirts on his site I could have used images from, but based on what his apparent interest is I think this novelty t shirt is more appropriate. Suck it, Chuck.
I don’t know how this movie could be anything like the first one when it is suffering under the PG-13 hammer. Must everything be kid friendly in life? They are worried about kids sneaking into the theater to see this film. So never make another Rated R movie? Why even bother to make movies with adults in them at all? 100% of all movie production should be cartoons, High School Musical, and Justin Bieber. You know, there are kids who use fake IDs to buy alcohol. All liquor should be replaced with fruit juice. Some kids have been known to drive a car without a license. Well, enjoy your new bicycle, since we need to keep kids safe from doing things that they are specifically prohibited from doing. When exactly did kids take over all entertainment? Kids can suck it too as far as I’m concerned.
What a crock! Just when I was starting to like Dumbledore and think he was more than a manipulative, conniving old fool who got a thrill out of seeing young people risk their lives on stupid stuff he has to go and take a nose dive off a tower and die of kinetic energy poisoning. It’s really kind of unfair. Part of the reason I was starting to like him was in this and the last movie he more or less showed what kind of kick ass wizard he was. Now it’s nothing but kids.
This movie was good as the rest, but I am really starting to feel the lack of knowledge not having read the books is handicapping me with. The first few stories managed to avoid that, but as the whole story progresses it gets more and more complex and it is pretty obvious now that the series really is for the people who read the books. I think the biggest part of my confusion has to do with all the girls. Somehow in this movie they managed to introduce between 3 and 8 girls who all more or less look the same, talk the same, have the same dialog writer, and are so interchangeable that I can’t tell which one is which and how they got involved in the first place. Was the girl who helped Harry hide the book Wealey’s sister, or the one with the love potion? How did she even know about the book or know that Harry had to hide it? Could she have been the one who tried to kill Dumbledore with the necklace? Why is it the only girl who looks at all distinctive (blond hair, super pale) is the local space case who can’t be counted on to deliver any dialog that isn’t surreal? It’s actually kind of infuriating. Weasley was dating a girl early on and then seemed to dump her when they found out he was under some kind of love potion, but it also seemed to be implied that there were two different girls.
I also think it worth noting that this movie doesn’t really seem to make any pretense of racial diversity. At least in the last one you had the two cute Indian girls and a couple of black people. In this one, except for the super hot waitress at the start of the film (Elarica Gallacher) it was a sea of whitebread. Even all the villains were pretty white. Not sure what that implies or says, but aside from the socio political ramifications it helped make keeping all the characters except Ron, Hermione, Harry, and Draco apart really, really difficult. They all seemed to blur into a sea of blandness.
Anyway, the movie was pretty good, and I have to say I am totally hooked and want to see how this thing ends. I will also say that while watching this film I had a sudden flash of insight about what may or may not be the big surprise at the end of the series. I won’t say it now, as some of you may have not seen the last one and also, if I am wrong I can just never mention my insight again to avoid embarrassment. If I am right, however, I hope you all remember this when I claim credit for being a super genius.
Once again I am force to point out that Harry and his Mystery Gang failed miserably to figure out who the bad guy was, and only found out when he revealed himself. I am actually really disappointed it was Professor Snape. That just seems really obvious and simple minded. It’s like having the bad cowboy always wearing the black hat. The really interesting twist would have been if the Death Eater turned out to be Professor McGonagall. From what I hear J.K. Rowling creates quite the diverse and descriptive world in her novel, but so far she hasn’t really shown that she understands what subtlety or plot twists really are.
1. Is the person associated with House Slytherin in any way?
2. Is the person the current instructor of Defense Against Dark Magic?
If the answer to either of these questions is yes, the whip your your wand and blast him or her where they stand. They might as well rename the position the “Professor of Kill Harry Potter” (Curses Foiled Again image courtesy of the novelty t shirt category).
As always, this movie has inspired some other annoying, specific questions.
First off, I have to go back to Quidditch again. As far as I can tell, Hogwarts has one Quidditch field, yet with four houses has four Quidditch teams. When they were showing the tryouts for the Gryffindor team it seemed like they had the field to themselves. I have been on several athletic teams in my life (football, wrestling, and rowing) and in each case we practiced a minimum of five days a week for 3-4 hours a day, after class. Do the Hogwarts teams only practice 1-2 days a week? There are only so many hours of daylight after class in which they could actually do anything, so how to the teams practice? If they all practice at the same time wouldn’t that more or less make it impossible to develop new strategies without the other teams finding out? A Quidditch field looks pretty crowded with just two teams on it. Wouldn’t having four teams plus alternates on the field more or less make for mass confusion and/or mid air collisions?
Second, when I was in high school chemistry we would play with some dangerous stuff (acid, etc) but nothing that would do more than give you a horrible, disfiguring burn. How, then, can the new Potions Professor ask these 15 year old kids to make something called “Liquid Death” (I think) that he says “One drop could kill us all”? That’s like asking a high school chemistry class to make up some nerve gas. It’s pretty much guaranteed one of those kids is going to screw up and spill the stuff all over the place. Even if it wasn’t pure enough to kill the whole class it still sounds really dangerous. I think OSHA might have a few words to say about the lack of gloves and masks going on in that room. Also, what idiot thinks that 15 year kids are emotionally stable enough to be trusted with the knowledge to create a WMD in class and not use it? I can tell you that at age 15 if I had had the knowledge all it would have taken was one more wedgie to see me dumping in the school water supply. Maybe British kids are better adjusted, but judging by what is going on in London right now, I wouldn’t bet on it.
Third, while the whole movie really tries to make out Draco Malfoy as a young villain, I have to say I have nothing but sympathy for him. Sure, he as some serious issues getting on with fellow students, but he is obviously a very troubled boy. He is ambitious but constantly having his achievements and abilities superseded by Harry, who seems to succeed without really trying. His father looks like a Wraith from Stargate Atlantis and just turned Death Eater, after infecting him with all kinds of class and racial prejudice. He is kind of being alienated by most of the rest of Hogwarts. He is a member of the most evil house in the school. He doesn’t apparently have anything even remotely resembling fun in his life. Is it any wonder he is a member of the Trench Coat Mafia? Honestly, it seems that a caring and alert school official or instructor might have seen trouble coming with that one and perhaps tried to intervene in a positive manner rather than teach him how to make death potions. Is there no one who can spot a desperate cry for help? I’m probably just bitter because I had a laundry list of problems in high school that secretly I always hoped someone would notice, but no one did. Draco Malfoy, I hope you end this series in a positive place, but given J.K. Rowlings sledgehammer approach to story crafting I doubt it.
Fourth, while I understand the theory behind the concept of a boarding school, the fact is these kids are spending nine months out of the year away from their family. Ron seems OK as his brothers and sister are around, and Harry can’t get away from his aunt and uncle fast enough, but Hermione seems to imply she has a loving home of Muggle dentists somewhere in the world. No one sees a problem with the fact that parents never come to visit, or the kids go home on weekends once in a while to reaffirm their family ties? Sounds like a recipe for future sociopathy.
Finally, I’m a little confused as to when Ron became the Hogwarts sex symbol. As far as I can tell, he’s a mediocre wizard, not terribly witty or charming, doesn’t appear overly burdened with good looks, and not the brightest bulb on the tree. His only talent lies in being a Quidditch goalie. Why does he have every girl after him? I do gain some satisfaction in seeing Hermione interested in him, but I see that as more an offshoot of their long time friendship than anything else. I do hope that romance continues.
That’s pretty much it. My cousin just moved back to Oakland and is dragging me to see Tree of Life tonight, so expect a review for that one tomorrow. I have no idea what it is about, except possibly living and/or a tree of some kind. I’ll watch the next Harry Potter tomorrow, and then see the Deadly Hollows part 2 at the theater. Bye for now.
So I had planned to see this opening night and pretend I was a real movie critic by coming out with a review close to the opening weekend, but it turned out my girlfriend really wanted to see it and made me wait until last night. She is really into vampires, which is something of a mixed blessing as it sometimes lets me see great films and sometimes has me watching pretty boy vampires sparkle in the daylight while I look for a spoon to gouge my eyes out. (Twilight sucks. Sparkle vampire image courtesy of the novelty t shirt category).
So, Priest, in 3D (not really by choice, but it was my only option). This is not one of the great vampire movies, but it is also not eye-gougingly bad either. It sits, like 99.9999% of the movies I have reviewed since Paul, right on average. It’s like all of Hollywood has hitched up to the mediocrity train and is steaming towards Bland Junction.
The Priest story comes to us from a Korean graphic novel by Hyung Min-woo. It’s good to know their geek culture encompasses something besides Starcraft. The movie Priest, however, comes to us from the Road Warrior, Blade Runner, Dark City, Blade II, and a Fist Full of Dollars with a sprinkling of Star Wars for flavor. It borrows unabashedly from these and about 1,000 other movies and forces them into a arguably decent rehash, or perhaps new to younger kids.
Speaking of younger kids, let me tangent off a bit here and bitch about the fact that the family in front on us had a little boy with them who was somewhere between 2 and 3 years old. The movie was rated PG-13 for a good reason and at times drifted close to R in terms of gore and violence. The vampires would have given me nightmares at 12, to say nothing of 2. My dad took us all to see Orca the Killer Whale at the drive in when I was 8 and that pretty much ruined the ocean for me for the next five years. Seems like most parents I wouldn’t trust with a pet rock, much less a child.
OK, off my parenting soap box and onto my movie reviewing soap box. Priest is set in an alternative world (every other reviewer or whatever likes to say post-Apocalyptic, but the opening credits clearly showed both Medieval and WWI humans fighting vampire armies, so I refuse to imagine this is set in our world. Also, our world has some terrain) that is apparently flat and featureless as a billiard ball wherein humans and vampires have fought for thousands of years and more or less destroyed the planet, except for a Blade Runner-esque steam punk city where everyone dresses like an escapee from the Great Hot Topic Massacre. The city has for some reason purposely blocked out the sunlight, which is established as the humans only real defense against vampires (???). Paul Bettany plays a Priest, a Catholic Church super ninja who had his Ash Wednesday cross tattooed onto his face. His brother, who appears to be living on a farm that literally produces dust, is mortally wounded by a vampire attack and his niece is kidnapped. Priest needs to go back out into the wilds to rescue her and kill the vampires, but the head of the church, who I will refer to as Monseigneur Stupid, decides that, in spite of the fact that vampires were not killed off completely but reside peacefully on reservations (sucking on rat blood, I guess) and he loses absolutely nothing by letting Priest go off and get himself killed, there is no way the attack could have been vampires and forbids Priest to go. He goes anyway on his super ninja electric/solar motorcycle that can exceed 200mph on dirt and hooks up with the local sheriff who told him about the vamp attack.
Anyway, some other Priests are sent after him for no real reason except for the insult the first Priest gave unto the Church, including the new love of my life, Maggie Q. A bad guy in Western drag named Black Hat (possibly for some article of clothing he was wearing, but I can’t be sure) is involved. Vampire hunter hijinks ensues. Vampires and innocent humans get killed. Stuff blows up. Deep dark secrets are revealed. The fuze is lit for a sequel.
Anyway, the stars. The animated opening credits were really cool. One star. In spite of the limited material handed them by the dialogue, all the main characters delivered a pretty good performance. Paul Bettany was especially good. One star. The steam punk city and Gothic costumes were pretty cool. One star. The action sequences were decent and made sense (obviously they hired a fight choreography). One star. Except for the attitude of Monseigneur Stupid, the story was reasonably linear and more or less didn’t strain my brain. One star. The CGI was well done but not over used. One star. Overall the visuals were good. One star. Total: Seven stars.
Now the black hole. The dialogue was limited. One black hole. The whole movie was extremely derivative. One black hole. Some of the action sequences strained my suspension of disbelief enough to give it a hernia (sorry, but no one can survive jumping off a motorcycle at 200+mph). One black hole. After 10 minutes in a cool, semi modern dark Gothic city, they then spent the rest of the movie in a much cheaper to shoot open flat wasteland with NO TERRAIN FEATURES WHATSOEVER. It was like they filmed most of the movie in a giant parking lot. One black hole. During the course of the movie they kept hinting at some kind of character development that never surfaced. I can’t help but feel they could have added a lot to the film by exploring deeper the relationship between Priest and Black Hat, or even Priest and the female Priest. One black hole. Total: five black holes.
Also, like I did in my Fast Five review, I have a few things that bugged me but really aren’t worthy of a black hole. First off, the movie was only 88 minutes. I don’t feel like the pacing really suffered for being short, which is why this doesn’t get them a black hole, but if I am going to pay $10 for a movie ticket I want to feel I am getting a decent value. Remember all that missing character development I gave you a black hole for? Maybe sticking a few minutes of that into this movie might have made my wallet feel better. Also, I can honestly say I feel ripped off for paying an extra $4 for 3D. The 3D did absolutely nothing to enhance the film and was hardly noticeable, at least until my usual 3D headache started to kick in.
So, a total of 2 stars. Not bad, not great. If you are a fan of Blade style action see it on a big screen. Don’t waste your money on 3D. I think overall it’s worth seeing in a theater, as a lot of the visuals and action may suffer on a smaller screen.
That’s it. I have an idea for something funny for tomorrow so check back. Have a great day.