Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thor tackles his toughest adversary: the CoCC!

After this summer's dearth of superhero movies, next summer is going to be a maelstrom. The first snowball of this avalanche of awesome is going to be Thor. It stars Chris Hemsworth, the guy who was Jim Kirk's dad at the beginning of J.J. Abram's Star Trek, and Natalie Portman, the actress currently leading the race for Best Actress for Black Swan. Not to mention it's directed by Kenneth Branagh, the guy who has basically made a career out of making popular Shakespeare movies. Shakespeare. Movies. How could this movie possibly suck, I ask you?

Well. According to the Council of Conservative Citizens it will not only suck, but be so socially damaging it warrants boycotting. Here's why: The Norse god Heimdall is played by Idris Elba. He's been in movies like Rocknrolla -- that Guy Ritchie movie that was almost as good as Snatch -- American Gangster, 28 Weeks Later ... just look him up on IMDb. The guy has an impressive resume. And he's black. The CoCC had this to say: "It seems that Marvel Studios believes that white people should have nothing that is unique to themselves." Yeah. Who ever heard of a white superhero? Or better yet, a white superhero in his own movie? Or better yet, that same movie breaking box office records?

Here's a serious question: Do these guys know how stupid they sound? They're concerned about the white guy getting his fair share? Really?

Dear CoCC: Shut up. You're making fools out of yourselves and embarrassing your fellow human beings with your stunning stupidity.

To anyone who feels slight pangs of sympathy (after all, it is Norse mythology, and Heimdall isn't black): Basically, get over it. This is a stupid argument. I could point out that it's rooted in racism -- which is stupid in itself -- and it's inherently flawed -- Marvel's track record shows the opposite, obviously -- and the only people upset by Elba portraying Heimdall will be them -- I'm fairly certain Heimdall himself won't mind; why should we?

A while ago, they finally starting filming The Hobbit. They were casting and it was exciting. Fanboys like me were looking forward to spending more time in Middle Earth. After a small scandal, the casting guy was fired for being racist. He was only allowing white people to audition for the roles of hobbits, and people complained. His defense was he was looking for people who looked like hobbits, which are short and white. That's what's been established in the previous movies.

Compare these two instances: A black man is cast, and people call it racist. An all-white audition is called for, and people call it racist. Which one is right? The second one of course. In modern society, white males have the most power. It's unfortunate, but true. That makes it okay, even really good, for Heimdall to be black. Conversely, it makes forcing all hobbits to be white bad.

Whether the CoCC will boycott it or not, Thor has a very talented cast and a very good director and will probably not suck. The trailer alone is amazing. Watch it here: Thor Trailer

Monday, November 29, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1

It's been a while since I reviewed anything because I haven't seen anything. I haven't seen anything because no one is paying for me to watch movies. Just as well though because until the Christmas season, there wasn't much of anything I really wanted to see. Now Harry Potter is out. If you're a Potter fan, you've already seen it. If you're on the fence, let me first tell you this: watch the others before this one. If you don't, you may find yourself lost. But it'll be the most fun being lost you've had in a while.

On to the meat of things. This is far and away the best adaptation of the books so far. In previous installments, someone who has read the book was always disappointed that one thing or another was cut out. Well, almost nothing was cut out of this one. That being said, the movie now has most of the flaws of the book. There aren't many; some are nit-picky, but they exist.

Also, this movie also has the best visuals of the series so far. The CG is seamless. It just looks fantastic.

I'm going to switch gears here. Picture yourself the fan of some band. You've been a fan of this band for just about your entire life. The first album is very exciting. There's a lot of fanfare, it's totally enjoyable, accessible yet deep, etc. The band releases five more albums, all different and one building complexity subtly onto the previous, yet they maintain a formula that maintains that accessibility and is comfortable. But by the time their six album comes out, you wouldn't mind really if they tossed the formula. So, for the seventh album, they do. They toss the formula. The band has announced this will be their last go of it, and for their finale everything is different. It's exciting and dynamic and complex and tops everything off, but you can't help but feel just a tad ... what is this feeling? Betrayed? Do you feel that A) they could have given me this a while ago instead of sticking with the formula for so long, or B) they have come to be defined by the formula and that charming accessibility is gone and only the depth remains?

See, Harry Potter's like that. The formula is steadfast, but the books have matured with the readers. For the seventh, the formula of "New Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is here, there's trouble at Hogwarts, who's to blame: Snape or Voldemort (probably Voldemort), Dumbledore's known all along but let Harry figure it out -- even though it was really Hermione that figured it out and Harry just rushed into it, they manage to escape unscathed but Voldemort is still out there and already plotting his next scheme." That's basically it. Book 7 does away with that entirely. I think it's good. In general, I'm against formulas. But some could make the argument that it's not a real Harry Potter movie because it doesn't follow the formula. Like, Majora's Mask isn't a real Zelda game because it doesn't follow the formula. I disagree. I believe it's the characters that make the thing, and by taking these characters out of the formula, we get a better sense of who they really are and what they're really like.

Although, you could argue that Hogwarts is as important a character in the franchise as Harry is, and the movie's lack of any Hogwarts at all is disappointing. Arguably damaging.

The effects are good. The story is good. The characters are round, complex, and dynamic. All of them, except really for Voldemort. He's fairly one-dimensional. And Bellatrix. She's fairly flat too. But since they're bad guys, it's totally okay. The Malfoys are very complex here, and the three heroes are probably the most complex they've ever been. Which brings me to my first sticking point.

Sticking point: These three interact like teenagers. Well, they are. But they are teenagers who have faced the greatest evil in the world six times, nearly died annually for seven years now, have fought and suffered together for as long as they've known each other. Why do they bicker so much? Where is the camaraderie? It's there, but there's too much other stuff. It's totally nit-picky, but really. Their hormones must be off the charts.

Sticking point and SPOILER: Mad-Eye dies off-screen. Okay. One of the coolest characters in the Harry Potter verse doesn't even get an honorable death. He goes out like a punk. He's the most knowledgeable of the Dark Arts and the most seasoned auror, and we don't get to see his last stand. It's fitting, because now Harry's world is much darker and much less safe, but as a fan I want to see Mad-Eye go down fighting.

You know, that's really it. It's a good movie. It's certainly a good adaptation. Heh, in fact, it's such a good adaptation that they include scenes and characters from the book that have been there and properly set up in previous books, but the films cut them out for economy's sake. Who can blame them? Still, the film tries to catch the viewer up on all the things he or she needed to know for some of these things to make sense. Like Bill Weasley's and Fleur's wedding. Kind of out of left field and all of a sudden. But it's in the book, so it's there. It's actually a very important scene, but we haven't seen Fleur since Goblet of Fire and we've never met Bill.

Anyway. Like I said, if you're a fan, you've seen it already. If not, what's the matter with you? If you haven't seen the other movies but you want to watch this one, why not? You might get lost fairly quick, but it might not suck.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

So, what sucks anyway?

I was telling my family about my blogs, and my brother was interested in this blog in particular. He asks me, "So, what movie would you say DOES suck?" And I didn't have an answer. That bugged me. I can't have a movie review blog that only reviews movies favorably! What good would that be? Not to mention totally boring! So I've been thinking about it, and here is what I've decided: most of the movies I see are good. Generally, I don't cough up the dough to see a movie in the theater unless I'm sure it's going to be worth it. But let me tell you some warning signs I've learned to pick up. If I see these things, it generally means the movie will suck. Therefore I won't see them, thus a review of them will not appear on this blog until I can use money as a fire-starter. Which won't be for a while.

First: if it's made by Lionsgate.

To be fair, Lionsgate has put out a couple good movies. American Psycho was pretty good. There was another one recently, but I've forgotten what it was. But in general, Lionsgate puts out movies like Crank and Hostel and Saw. I'm not going to see those. They suck. They are made for almost no money and put out quickly to get a profit. Here's how they do it: they include gratuitous sex and violence. The people in charge think of scenarios that will provide the most sex and violence, however outlandish it may be, and then film it as cheaply as possible. And they are successful. Because even though not everybody goes to see them, enough people do to earn a profit. These people are drawn to these movies FOR the gratuitous sex and violence. There's a word for this: exploitation. It's cheap, sleazy, and only making people stupider. It's the second-worst use for contemporary film. The absolute worst is my second item.

Here's the second item: any movie made by those two guys who make those parodies. The latest one being Vampires Suck.

There are a lot of people who think Uwe Boll should stop making movies because they're just terrible. Well, in my opinion, compared to these guys Boll is James Cameron. These two produce the most frivolous drivel in film history. Like, ever. There's no reason why they are still making movies. Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, Superhero Movie, the list goes on. They receive epic low scores on every review site in the world, and yet people still flock to them. Please please PLEASE, everyone: STOP SEEING THESE MOVIES. They are a blight. They are a cancer to contemporary film. They suck beyond comprehension. And what astonishes me every time is that they skyrocket to the top of the release charts. To all of you who see these movies: you're so dumb -- you're perpetuating a terrible cycle and contributing to a terrible disease that is infecting theaters across the country.

Ok, I can already figure out what people who disagree with me will say. It makes them happy. But here's the thing. The people in charge of movies are driven by finances. Profit. Currency is their language of choice. When these movies do well, sometimes attributes of the movies are encouraged by producers to the point where intelligent movies are choked out in favor of exploitation or Vampires Suck. My fear is of a dystopian future where all movies fall under these categories. The same thing happened in the Roman Empire. Their entertainment became drivel and only appealed to the most base. And Rome fell, people. Think about that. How much would that suck?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

My niece Kaylynn summed up this movie well: "It was really dumb. But in a good way." It's true. I don't know how much I can analyze this movie. Let me try.

First of all, if you grew up in the era of the original Nintendo Entertainment System, and many of your fondest memories from childhood involve huddled around a tv spending your weekend day and night trying to make that one infuriating jump or beat that one impossible boss, you really will enjoy this movie. It's a movie based on a comic inspired by video games. It's pretty much the greatest combination ever. For example: when Scott cuts enemies down, they explode into coins, a la games like River City Ransom (FYI, check out Mega 64's take on that game on IGN). Video game movies have a hard time adopting the source material because of silly things like enemies exploding into change, but Scott Pilgrim offers an elegant solution to the quandary. Things like this... this movie doesn't take itself too seriously and it is wonderful for it. It's a good thing it's not animated too: it wouldn't be as fun to watch. The jokes are funny because it's live action. If it were a cartoon, it would be cliche. Interesting, no?

I should talk about Edgar Wright. He's done some amazing films (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), but this movie is completely different. It's rumored that Wright has plans for an Ant Man movie, and after seeing Scott Pilgrim I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. This is Zen Master Steve saying "we'll see." Anyway, Scott Pilgrim is a complete change of pace. It wastes no time in getting silly, while the other two gradually built the silliness until... well, it was ridiculous. Wright makes good movies. And they're funny. Good for him.

Also, Michael Cera. Normally, he's George Michael Bluth (Superbad, Juno, one of his personalities in Youth in Revolt), but he's stretching himself a little more here. He does a good job. All the actors do. Ramona's great. Knives is funny. No one drops the ball here. It's solid all around.

Heart. This movie has loads of it. It's like a date movie for grown-up nerds. There's more of us out there than we think -- despite the film's weak box office opening. Despite how silly the movie is, you genuinely care about the characters. Anyone who has had a hard break up, rebounded with someone else, found the girl of your dreams... basically, everyone should find something to relate to in this movie. Anyone who has gone through puberty, anyway.

Plus, Scott's plight is really clever. If you wanted, you could look at the movie existentially and say Scott is facing Ramona's exes in her head, because she's trying to decide how he measures up. That's how you get the creepy guy from seventh grade and the vegan with super powers. "He's a vegan, which means he's just better than you." See? Basically, the movie just makes literal what Ramona is thinking and what Scott is facing. You get the idea.

Plus, I think it's kind of cool Scott faces Superman (Brandon Routh) and Captain America (Chris Evans) within an hour.

Is it a good movie? Yeah, but it's silly and dumb-but-in-a-good-way. Is it fun? Oh man. I think you'd be hard-pressed to have more fun in a movie theater this summer. With your clothes on, at least. Plus, it's set in Canada! Who doesn't love Canada? Really! Canada's awesome. Look at all the cool things Canada has given us: The Weakerthans (amazing), The Arrogant Worms (hilarious), William Shatner (awesome), Rachel McAdams (gorgeous), socialized health care (debatable)... the list goes on. Plus, in all seriousness, we're really lucky to have such a friendly northern neighbor. Can you imagine if we hated Canada and were constantly warring with them? Yeah, it's silly to think about only because there's no way! We're so lucky.

Ok back to the movie. If you grew up on video games, see it. If you're a nerd, see it. If you're on a date, see it. If you're a fan of the source material, it's probably worth checking out (I am as unfamiliar with the comics as I possibly could be). If you're a fan of Edgar Wright (or anyone else involved, for that matter) see it. If you're a testosterone junkie and want to see nothing but muscular men blowing up stuff, see the Expendables. Everyone else: see Scott Pilgrim. At very least rent it. Trust me on this: it doesn't suck. 3.5/5 Good, 6/5 Fun.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Christopher Nolan is my hero. This is important. Reader, you are currently reading a significantly skewed review. Every movie Nolan has made I've loved and adored with two exceptions: Insomnia and Batman Begins, which I thought were only "amazing." My friend noted this about Nolan: he respects his audience. He understands that there are movie goers who enjoy a compelling story told intelligently. What a refreshing concept. His movies are complex and his plots rich. He is a director who acts as a narrator and directly crafts events, characters, themes, and such to tell the story he wants the audience to experience. Here's where Inception comes in and why the reviews I'm seeing make me so furious.

There may be spoilers ahead. It also may be confusing to anyone who hasn't already watched the movie. If this is you, skip to the last paragraph.

Inception has been faulted for lack of character development outside of the main character, Cobb. I've read that it is light on character and heavy on effects. I've also heard of some reviewers saying meaningless comments to the effect that they wished they had slept through the movie. To all of you, I have this to say: you are idiots. Idiots, fools, morons. No one should care what you think, because you don't have anything worthwhile to say. Please stop making noise. You're embarrassing yourself. Really, just... shame on you. I don't pay attention to rotten tomatoes anymore because it's populated by writers who don't have two brain cells to rub together. I can't believe they're writing for money and I'm not. If I could have one wish, it would be to fly at super speed. If I could have two, it would be that every stupid person would be aware of their stupidity and be ashamed -- not compelled to share their opinion that isn't worth an uphill piss with a worldwide audience that could have a direct impact on a brilliant film.

Like I said, the reviews make me furious. Here's why: they missed the point of the movie.

A motif(look it up) of the movie is the main character uncertain whether or not he's in reality or a dream. Close to the end, he tells his subconscious poltergeist wife, Mol, that she is only a shadow of the real thing: she's a flat characterization of the wonderful woman she really was.

I think I read a reviewer talking smack about the film's editing. If I'm correct, I say this: "You fool!" One of the points Cobb makes to Ariadne is that in a dream, the dreamer often can't remember how they got to their current location. That's one way of telling a dream from reality. Often, I noticed each shot beginning with the characters already in the frame, making the shift from one shot to the next a little jumpy: I wasn't sure how the characters got to their current location. Example: at the end of the movie (spoiler) Cobb goes directly from the airport to his house; not to a car outside that takes them home -- there's not even a shot of them going in the front door. How exactly did he get there?

Wait a minute. The characters in the dreamers' subconscious are flat; the dreamers can't remember how they got to their current location. The characters who aren't Cobb are complex and compelling, but relatively flat; the editing makes the viewer a little unsure of how the characters got to their current location... do you see where I'm going? Nolan is deliberately crafting a movie that directly asks the viewer: is what you're seeing reality, or just Cobb's dream? Example: how can Saito make Cobb's problems go away with a phone call? It's pretty implausible, and not explained, but it would make sense if it was devised by Cobb's desperate subconscious. Is the whole movie just in his dream? You tell me.

To all of you who skipped ahead, here is the last paragraph. Visually, this movie is award-worthy. Easily. Jaw-dropping good, and that's not easy anymore. The story is creative, imaginative, utterly original, layered, and complex. The characters are complex but relatively flat, serving mainly as foils to Cobb. Luckily character development isn't the end-all be-all (YOU IDIOTS!!). In this case, the characters are a vehicle for the film's question: is this whole thing just Cobb's dream? Here's a hint: watch for his wedding ring. Thoroughly brilliant, completely fun, exactly the reason movies are ever made. Highly recommended. The more people to see this movie, the better. Don't listen to the morons out there bashing this movie, listen to me: this movie is fantastic. Totally fun and totally good. They don't get much better than this. Most definitely does not suck. At all. See it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Prince of Persia

I have not seen this movie. From what I hear and read, it is much more "fun" than "good." However, I really want to.

Video game movies usually suck. And I mean suck hard. But I believe that they're the future. Soon video game movies will enjoy the renaissance that comic book movies have recently. Eventually comic book movies will run low on source material and their moment in the sun will begin to burn, and I think video games are next. The trick is getting Hollywood and the people to believe. A nearly impossible feat thanks to the likes of Uwe Boll.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is one of my three all-time favorite games. That game, Half-Life 2, and Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess are the greatest games ever made. Many Zelda fans think Ocarina of Time is the best of the series, and others think Majora's Mask is the best, and I say they're both wrong. Twilight Princess. Period. Is it too easy, or more intuitive? More intuitive. There are things about Ocarina of Time that just don't make sense anymore. When you're a kid and you've got nothing to do but waste hours of your life trying every possible thing to every possible item then you're bound to find hidden secrets. But games have evolved. Things need to make sense. There need to be clues. And Twilight Princess rocks. End of discussion. Half-Life 2 needs no justification. It's just amazing.

There have been talks about a Metroid movie. Cool, just get talent behind it. Get someone who knows the characters and how to write a good movie. There's been talk about a Metal Gear Solid movie. Why not? The game's practically a movie in itself. Just stop being jerkwads and let David Hayter get involved. What's the matter with you? You have someone in mind you think can do better? Really? Better than the voice of Solid Snake himself? You're idiots. Make a Half-Life movie. Get Robert Rodriguez to direct it. Hell, even if you got M. Night to direct it it would be alright. It could be his comeback. He knows how to startle, and Half-Life would be all about that. Can anyone imagine a Zelda movie directed by Peter Jackson? Or James Cameron? There are talks about a Mass Effect movie. I'm down, but concerned about what they'll do about the choice mechanism. It's an RPG, after all. If they got the right people behind it, I'd have more faith. Uncharted? Well, if you want an Uncharted movie why don't you just watch Indiana Jones? Nah, I'm kidding -- it might not suck. Bioshock? That'd be cool. Whatever. Just get talent behind it. Just because it has cool effects or is atmospheric or popular doesn't mean it'll be a good movie.

Comic book movies are now successful because they're now higher-quality movies. Strive to make better video game movies and the success will be waiting for you. From what I understand, Prince of Persia was made somewhat in this vain. For that reason, I want to see it. I understand it's far from a "good" movie, but that's ok. After all, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire does not an action-adventure director make. And Pirates 2 and 3... well, you know. But it can still be "fun." I've heard it's the best video game movie yet, and to me that means it definitely might not suck.

Angels and Demons

Ron Howard is a good director. He is. As a nerd, I'd love to see him direct a comic book movie. It'd have to be something grounded in reality because I get the impression that's what he does. So I'm thinking The Question, or maybe a Nightwing movie.

Even though he's a good director, with The DaVinci Code he missed the point. And I think he did with Angels and Demons too.

The DaVinci code was a book that aimed to pull back the curtain and reveal *gasp* Jesus the Human, rather than Jesus the Divine. The book was all about how Jesus had a lover, Mary Magdalene, and the church had covered it up by only including in the Bible the Gospels that showed Christ's divinity. And Mary Magdalene was actually the divine one. Basically. And Leonardo DaVinci knew it and could prove it. The movie kept Christ's divinity intact, but tried to incorporate the theory that he had a wife and children. The result was, well, it didn't really work. The Christians were offended by the blasphemy, and they that loved the book for it's controversy were mad because it shied away from the most crucial point.

I've had friends tell me of people who have told them to read The DaVinci Code because after reading it there's no way anyone could believe in God. Whatever. Say this with me: it's a work of FICTION. Plus, even if Jesus had taken a wife, wouldn't that be good news for all the married Christians out there who try to emulate Christ, as the term "Christian" implies? Whatever.

I know more about The DaVinci Code because I read the book. With Angels and Demons, I intentionally didn't read the book because I recognized the fact that a good movie was ruined by reading the book first. The book is almost always better. In a few rare cases, The Bourne Identity and Stardust, the movie was better. In my humble opinion. I know people who would argue the opposite. I just enjoyed the movies more than the books. Sue me. The point is: I didn't read the book because I wanted to come to the movie tabula rasa.

I guess there may be spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk. It's not like this review hasn't given you plenty of time to see it. It's been on DVD for months.

So what were the criticisms about this movie, again? Too serious, I remember that one. Well, it was pretty dark, and there was some silliness woven into it that seemed out of place. It was as if each time they solved a puzzle, they showed up just a few minutes too late. Predictable? Absolutely. Not to mention the head of security was surly and antagonistic for apparently no reason. He knew the truth just about the entire time who the bad guy was and told no one. I couldn't figure out why the Illuminati had chosen this moment to strike at the church and why they were targeting Ewan McGregor's character when he would be out of the Pope's seat in a handful of days. The answer was apparent to everyone in the room but me.

I watched the movie with my wife and my friend Ted who just graduating in Chemical Engineering. He saw the anti-matter bit at the beginning and found it ridiculous 'cause he's seen the real thing. What's more is he had the bad guy pinned from the start. I wouldn't believe it because, come on, he was Obi Wan. How bad could he be? But man was I wrong. I'm losing my touch. I need to stop playing video games and read more.

So back to the movie. Was it good? It was ok. Was it fun? Yeah, I had fun. I'm not rushing out to buy it, but it was a fair movie and a fairly good time. I'd give it halfway on the "good" meter and 75% on the "fun" meter. If you're into the church being evil and haven't read the book, give it a rental -- but maybe wait until it's on the Netflix instant queue. It might not suck.

To everyone who thinks Christianity has been at odds with Science since time immemorial: you're wrong. Some of the greatest leaps in science have been thanks to the work of monks and monasteries. In fact, during the Dark Ages the monastery was the only place to find learned men and women. Some monks, particularly the Irish, took it upon themselves to translate the works of Aristotle and other classic texts (and by "translate" I don't mean "censor"). For a long time, Christians regarded the study of nature a "second Gospel." It made sense to them that studying "God's Creation" would lead to evidence of the "Creator." Science and Religion have butted heads twice: Galileo and Darwin. Galileo believed the Earth revolved around the Sun, which is true. At the time, it was a wild claim. The church told him to prove it or he'd die for blasphemy. He couldn't. In the case of Darwin... well both sides are being pretty antagonistic. To everyone who thinks education has been hijacked by the devil and everything from science to literature leads to hell: you're wrong. Not only are you wrong, but your fear of thinking is only promoting the assumption that religion is coupled with ignorance. God doesn't disappear if man evolved from apes.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shaolin Soccer

So I've been thinking. I think that one core difference between dramedies and full-blown comedies, especially screwball comedies, has to do with the change. Let me clarify. A movie tells a story. A story worth telling is about change. Something changes. That's what makes the story worth telling. In a dramedy, a la Judd Apatow, the characters grow and change to better fit the world around them. It is a good and fun movie. In screwball comedies, the world changes to better fit the characters. They're also fun first, and only good if you're lucky. Anyone who has seen Shaolin Soccer is lucky. I saw it earlier in the week and it's quickly becoming a favorite of mine. The characters don't change that much, really. The main character wants Kung Fu to be more widespread. He sees several ways to apply it in many different everyday jobs. Some of his ideas are ridiculous, like applying Kung Fu to music. When he settles on applying it to soccer, with the help of a washed-up legend (reminiscent of Dodgeball in that regard, actually), the world changes around him. It's silly and screwball but awesome.

The mastermind behind this movie is Stephen Chow. He also did Kung Fu Hustle which was a silly kung fu western type movie or something. It was alright. I think my biggest issue with that movie was I couldn't relate to Chow's character because he was such a jerk. Then he had the metamorphosis and was Superman. Neither one was totally relatable so I didn't get too invested. It was fun and all, but this movie's better.

My only gripe is about the romantic tension in the movie. I was never clear on whether or not the two were actually romantic or platonic, and evidently they weren't either. But the end seemed kind of slap-dash because of it. On the other hand, I'm glad they didn't sacrifice levity at the altar of romantic tension. That horrible, horrible altar.

It may be more fun than good, but that doesn't mean it's a bad movie. It's a fantastic movie and worth your time. If you're in the mood for something silly, rent Shaolin Soccer. It might not suck.

SDCC: Pie in the Sky questions

Does anyone else think it's kind of funny that a convention devoted to comic books is now mainly for movies and television? San Diego Comic Con is underway, I believe, and I'm not going because that would be just totally irresponsible of me. Plus I'd be totally out of my league and... you get the idea. I'd make a fool of myself. Me and my Irish skin would not abide the Southern California sun. Even indoors, that sun would find me and roast me. But if I COULD go, I've been thinking about what I would ask people to sound smart. 'Cause, you know, I am.

First of all, I would go to the Green Lantern movie forum. I'm totally stoked for this movie. Martin Campbell resuscitated the James Bond franchise TWICE so he's golden in my book. Ryan Reynolds has the chops, so I have faith. Geoff Johns is loving the way the movie's going, so I do too. So I wouldn't ask about Green Lantern. It will rock. Period. I want to know more about the Deadpool movie. What's going on with that?

Next: Joss Whedon in the Avengers forum. Everything Whedon has been responsible for that I have seen has been extraordinary. Firefly. Astonishing X-Men. Serenity. Dollhouse. Just plain brilliant. One of my favorite things about Whedon is that he writes strong, capable, believable women. Too often in comics, women characters are caught up in being snotty or too concerned about their hair or the men in their lives or their clothes... whatever. Whedon writes women I care about better than any other writer. Like, since Euripides. He's directing Avengers? Awesome. It will rock. Still, let's take a look: Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk... there's a term for this: sausage fest. Ok, it will rock, but what about those strong women that Joss writes? What women characters are we going to see in Avengers? (See what I did there? I assumed there would be women characters to begin with and jumped straight to the point. Booyah.)

I may drop in on Joe Quesada talking about how he's going to try to fix the whole Spider-man One More Day massacre and ask "What the hell? Did you honestly think this would go any better? Really?" One of the most disastrous events in comics history. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check it out on Wikipedia or something. You may lose faith in comics altogether. I just about did. It made readers nostalgic for the Clone Saga. Writers too. That's how bad it was.

I may ask the Chuck panel if they're looking for unknowns who are willing to act for cheap. Like meals only. Seriously you guys. But then we're entering the realm of making a fool of myself. I knew it.

I feel like there was one more question I thought would be a good one, but I've forgotten it. I think it had to do with some rumor I read about. Don't remember. Forget about it.

It Might Not Suck at SDCC '11? Doubtful. At the rate I blog, I'll probably die first.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Marvel vs. DC

Lately, DC and Warner Bros have been trying to implement an approach to making movies similar to Marvel's example. I can't think of a worse idea.

In the past, DC has largely gone with quality over quantity. There's more effort to find good directors, good scripts, and good actors that fit the parts. Christopher Nolan directing Batman movies. Bryan Singer directing a Superman movie. Originally hiring Joss Whedon to direct a Wonder Woman movie. Now Martin Campbell (the guy who revitalized the James Bond franchise TWICE) directing Green Lantern. Even though the Superman movie was underwhelming and the Wonder Woman movie was abandoned, it still shows an effort to bring in talent to make a quality movie that will be more than a flash in the pan.

Marvel has done the opposite. They've hurried to release as many movies as possible, creating just terrible movies like Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, Elektra... you get the idea. They've had a few successes, like the X-Men movies (thanks to Bryan Singer), Spider-man (in my opinion a surprise), and recently Iron Man. Singer's success on the X-Men is not a surprise. He had great talent acting for him and he's a good director. But does anyone remember the uproar when X-Men came out? People were pissed. There was so much that wasn't true to the comics. There were so many characters left out. There were characters who didn't do anything except be annoying (Cyclops). The success that Bryan Singer has had in the minds of X-Men fanboys, like myself, is really due to Bret Ratner completely tearing the franchise to shreds in The Last Stand.

Sidenote: originally, Ratner was going to direct Superman Returns and Singer was going to direct X-Men 3. Who can honestly say that wouldn't have been a better situation? Superman Returns didn't have enough action, and The Last Stand was nonsensical. What one lacked, the other had in scads.

Also, Sam Raimi. Ok. Evil Dead is a cult classic. I get it. That's fine. Army of Darkness is hilarious. No argument. But how many duds has he put out? Anyone seen The Quick and the Dead? Yeah, it's on TV all the time. Why? Because it's about as good as a TV movie. It's overdone and hyper-stylized. But it's a whole lot better than Spider-man 3. I've heard people say this: "Spider-man 3 is like, the quintessential comic book movie." My response is: What comic books are you reading? What comics have a Saturday Night Fever strut down a sidewalk? Or a dance number to Twist and Shout to visualize sexual tension between two characters? Or a weird dance number in a jazz club? And in what comics is the main action set piece an out-of-control crane? Really? I promise you it's not one written by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Joss Whedon, J. Michale Straczynski, Mark Millar, or even Brian Michael Bendis. Spider-man 3 is an example of Sam Raimi off his leash, so to speak. By that, I mean he wrote it as well as directed it. He didn't write either of the first two. Blame the studio if you want, but there were fundamental flaws with the movie that did not involve too many villains.

There are always exceptions. Always. Here's an exception: Catwoman. Catwoman was garbage. Ask anyone. It was cliched, ridiculous, pointless... you get the idea. It sucked. Not a lot of effort went into the movie and it showed. On the flip side, we have Hulk. Not The Incredible Hulk. Hulk, directed by Ang Lee. I was really excited about this movie because I didn't think Ang Lee made bad movies. He's a good director. Yes, he then directed Brokeback Mountain. I stand by my statement: his movies are normally good. Here was an example of Marvel showing some effort in making a quality movie. It... wasn't.

Now that Marvel's seen success with X-Men, Spider-man, and recently Iron Man, Marvel films are attracting more successful directors. Excellent. DC is trying to mimic Marvel's success. Exhibit A: Jonah Hex. Anyone see that movie? Me neither. Heard it sucked. It might not, I guess.

Ok, really quick and then I'll shut up. They're coming out with X-Men: First Class and Matthew Vaughn is directing. Excellent. Vaughn directs movies that balance "good" and "fun" exceptionally well. It's rumored that Joss Whedon has been in talks to direct The Avengers. Excellent. Serenity was one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time. That being said, they should switch projects. Whedon's strength is in two places: writing pain and writing women. Avengers has a dearth of both. Vaughn would bring something awesome to The Avengers, and Whedon would bring something amazing to the X-Men. Don't believe me? Read his run on Astonishing X-Men. It's fantastic.

In closing, DC: your approach to movies being fewer but better is fine with me. I think I speak for a lot of fans that we'd rather see a few good movies than a storm of terrible ones. Marvel: dude, slow it down and make sure your movies are worth watching. The fewer horrible treatments of our beloved comic book characters there are in the world, the better our world is. Seriously.

An Introduction, or A Declaration of Principles (get the reference)

There are a ton of movie critics out there, but the problem is that too many of them are simply wrong.

Here is my intention for this blog: I want to discuss movies rationally in a way that is intelligent and accessible. I'm not going to use a "thumbs up" or star system when reviewing movies. Not because I think these systems are wrong, I just think they're simplistic. The intention was to make a quick and easily-recognizable form of grading, really, but it doesn't take enough into account. And rotten tomatoes has too many idiots on the site to take their percentages seriously.

In my opinion, movies that people enjoy have a balance of two qualities: they are good, and they are fun. Movies can be good, fun, either, neither, or both. Citizen Kane is widely accepted as the best movie ever made. I'm not going to argue that. What I will say is that it is a movie that is more "good" than "fun." It's brilliantly made, acted, written, and was ground-breaking in several ways. But when you want to watch a classic movie on a Friday night to kick off the weekend, do you pick Citizen Kane, or the more fun but not-quite-as-good Casablanca?

Two summers ago, two superhero movies came out that divided the audiences: Iron Man and The Dark Knight. People loved one or the other. You couldn't love both. If you did, you were wishy-washy. Look, that's just stupid. The Dark Knight was a fantastic movie; it was a huge leap forward in terms of the quality a comic book movie could be. It was complex, dark, and simply brilliant. Iron Man had a solid story, a rockin' soundtrack, dynamic characters that grew and related to the audience. Not to mention a guy flying around killing terrorists and tearing up the highways of LA. My point is this: The Dark Knight scores higher on the good scale than the fun scale, and Iron Man scores vice verse. Both are totally enjoyable movies.

I'm also going to talk about trends in movies I'm passionate about, including superhero movies and video game movies. They're what I'm into right now, okay? I'm not going to talk exclusively about these things, but my first posts will probably involve these topics.

So anyway. To keep the review system easily recognizable, I'll use a, gee I don't know... how about a score of one-to-ten in two categories: "Good" and "Fun." I haven't seen Prince of Persia yet, but from what I hear it scores high in the "Fun" category but scrapes the bottom of the "Good" category. For example.

E-mail me if there is a movie you want to see me review. Until then, remember that just because all the reviews say a movie's no good, it still might not suck.