Archive Page 2

15
Feb
14

Iron Sky

They even have to “heil” on the moon.

Iron Sky is one of those movies that has a great concept and absolutely horrible execution. The plot is about a group of Nazis who escaped Earth in 1945 and colonized the dark side of the moon. They’ve been spending years building their space armada with plans to eventually return as a conquering force. It has all the trappings of what could be a cheesy yet brilliant sci-fi parody film. Iron Sky certainly gets the cheesy part right, but it fails everywhere else.
There are loads of problems with this movie. The writing, the acting (or perhaps over-acting), the directing, pretty much everything except the CGI was horrendous. The CGI surprisingly looked pretty good. That’s the only thing Iron Sky has going for it. And that certainly isn’t worth the price of admission. FYI, the price of admission is free on Netflix, but it’s still not worth it.
01
Feb
14

Kids on the Slope, Mawaru Penguindrum

Kids on the Slope

Sorry, I couldn’t come up with a funny caption for this picture.

Shinichiro Watanabe is a pretty great anime director. With the one-two punch of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, he firmly planted himself in the hall of the greats alongside Hayao Miyazaki and Satoshi Kon. So, how could I not be excited about his new series, Kids on the Slope? Instead of his usual sci-fi/fantasy/action/comedy shtick, he opted for something rooted far more in reality. The series would take place in 1960s Japan and focus on high school students becoming friends over jazz music. The incredible Yoko Kanno (who has quite the eptitude for jazz) provided the soundtrack. All the pieces were in place to create yet another masterpiece of anime.
Yet, Kids on the Slope is somewhat lacking. It just doesn’t do enough to pull itself out of mediocrity. The main character, Kaoru, seems like a typical anime kid: shy, weird, no friends, nervous around girls, etc. His friend, Sentaro, is a lot more interesting as he starts out as a thug, but slowly the audience learns his troubled backstory and that he has a lot more going on underneath the surface. Female character, Ritsuko, is a blank, offering nothing to the series except for a completely cliche and totally unwanted love triangle between the three.
Kids on the Slope is better than a lot of the shit that passes for anime these days. The time period is unusual, the focus more based in reality, there aren’t any circle eyes or people getting punched into space, the characters interact in organic ways, and the love of jazz shines through. Unfortunately, the series falls into a lot of preditable tropes like the love triangle, the nervous characters, the characters who literally run away instead of talking about their feelings, and on and on. Kids on the Slope is truly a mixed-bag. It’s a disappointment because it could have been great but wasn’t.
Verdict: Average
Mawaru Penguindrum

Spoilers: The Penguindrum is a diary. Why is a diary called a Penguindrum? Because Japan.

Kunihiku Ikuhara created one of the greatest anime series of all time, Revolutionary Girl Utena. The complexity of story, the depth of characters, the epic tone, the action, the drama, the comedy, and the underlying metaphors were what elevated that series. If it had excelled at any one of those things, it would have been an awesome series. But it excelled at all of them, making it a legendary series. Suffice it to say, I was thrilled to see Ikuhara emerged from his cave in 2011 with a new anime titled Mawaru Penguindrum.
With this series, it is quite clear that he is trying to emulate his past success. Penguindrum tries to have complex characters, an intricate story, and drama mixed with comedy. It technically has all those things, but it stumbles hard along the way. The characters aren’t very interesting. They are far more tropey than they should be. The story isn’t that intricate. In fact, it falls into the typical anime mystery camp. That is, the mystery is a rather simple background story, but important information about it is withheld from the audience until the end. There aren’t clues to follow or themes to unravel, no, it’s just purposely kept at bay. Lots of anime use this technique, and it’s frustrating for the audience.
The show has two more major problems. First, it focuses on one character at a time. For several episodes it will focus on one person, then the next few episodes it will focus on another, with a totally different set of plot points and themes. It makes the series feel like an anthology. By the end, there is little sense of cohesion. Second, the show is buried in metaphors. Utena had lots of metaphors but they were decipherable. Penguindrum has layers upon layers of metaphors. There are so many that it’s virtually impossible to know what is really going on and what’s a metaphor. There isn’t anything clearly tangible for the audience to grab hold to in order to slowly unravel what is real and what has deeper meaning.
Penguindrum becomes somewhat an incomprehensible mess by the end. I wanted to like it, I really did, but it tried to do too much. It piled on too many things and drowned under an artsy-fartsy mess of too many shitty metaphors.
Verdict: Bad
26
Jan
14

The Grey

Here is the only poster this piece of shit movie had.

Five minutes into The Grey, Liam Neeson sticks the business end of a rifle into his mouth and almost pulls the trigger. He must have been overwhelmed by feelings of regret after being in Star Wars Episode I and Taken 2. Oh, what could have been. Blam! Neeson dead. The End. If he had gone through with it, The Grey would have been a much better movie.

The Grey tries to be a combination of Alive and White Fang, featuring a group of plane-crash survivors struggling against nature and wolves. Unfortunately, the end result is absolutely terrible. The story is thread-bare, the characters are laughably stupid, the pacing is horrendous, and the attempts at “depth” are clumsy. This is a movie that is only tolerable if you’re totally wasted.

Continue reading ‘The Grey’

18
Jan
14

The Bourne Legacy, Pitch Perfect

The Bourne Legacy

“Woah, don’t shoot me, I give up.”

The Bourne Legacy is the unfortunate fourth installment of the incredibly successful Jason Bourne movie series. Legacy is a massive disappointment for several reasons, perhaps most of all because it doesn’t feature titular character Jason Bourne. Legacy is a goddamn abomination from the very beginning. New scenes are interspliced with scenes from The Bourne Ultimatum (movie 3 in the series). This is done to let us know the events are occurring simultaneously. However, it doesn’t come across well at all. It ends up as far more confusing, and the scenes are unnecessary, adding absolutely nothing to the film.
Next, the lead character, Aaron Cross (played by Jeremy Renner), is nothing more than a prop meant to stand in for Bourne until Matt Damon decides to return to the franchise. Cross is a completely generic super-spy just like all the others we’ve seen before. He brings nothing new to the table. Renner does a decent enough job acting, but the material he has to work with is so bland that nothing could save it. Bourne’s character was interesting because he was an amnesiac, and plot revelations were earned over time to create an interesting mystery for the audience. Cross, however, already knows everything about being a spy, so there is nothing new for the audience to take in. The main female character, a random scientist played by Rachel Weisz, is one-note through and through.
The story drags from the beginning, and is only punctuated by a few brief action sequences. The storyline is a complete re-hash of the other films (rogue agent escapes as government tries to kill him). The rest of the film is very talky, but nobody is talking about anything important. Bureaucratic types (like the one played by Edward Norton) bluster at one another endlessly, spouting meaningless drivel. The final scene is a protracted chase scene where Cross attempts to flee his attackers, which include a villain who literally follows his scent. Is this movie fucking serious? The menacing villain SMELLS the hero? Jesus fucking Christ, where do they come up with this shit? Overall, this is a wretched film. It’s no wonder Damon steered clear of it. If they keep churning out scripts like this one, it’s doubtful he’ll ever return to the franchise. And he shouldn’t.
Verdict: Shitty
Pitch Perfect

The entire movie summed up in one picture.

Pitch Perfect is exactly the kind of movie I can’t stand to watch. It’s one of those made for tweens musical “comedies” that eschews logic or coherence in favor of SINGING AND MUSIC AND FART JOKES. The setting is a college, although it must be a college for retards or something, since everyone is about 10 years older than the average college student. A bunch of generic white girls audition for an a capella group called the Barden Belles. The Belles are about to enter a nation-wide a capella competition, and they have to do whatever it takes to hone their skills in order to win the trophy.
Everything that follows is a hodge-podge of tired genre cliches that have been done a thousand times before, not to mention a thousand times better. Anna Kendrick and her giant teeth play the main girl who loves singing. She attempts to overhaul the Belles by making them do music from recent years. However, the group leader, played by Anna Camp and her giant teeth, refuses, thinking that songs from the 1980s or earlier are the only way to go. This creates a rift in the group until Camp predictably gives in and allows the group to sing recent songs.
Kendrick’s character tells a boy that she has never finished watching a movie in her entire life, which is completely preposterous, but the reason why is because they are too predictable. That’s a fucking hilarious joke, since Pitch Perfect is as cliche and predictable as movies come. Guess what it’s about? A ragtag group of underdogs who enter a competition against all odds and are crowned champions at the end. Wow, I’ve never seen a movie like that before. Ugh. Kendrick’s character eventually watches the fucking Breakfast Club, and cries her ass off. Yeah, The Breakfast Club, what a tearjerker. Throughout the film, Kendrick tells the boy they have no shot at a relationship. Then, at the very end of the movie she kisses him. Um, what? Not only did she put the kibosh on a relationship several times, the two of them have zero chemistry on screen. The kiss comes pretty far out of left field.
Everything else in the film is idiotic: shy asian girl who can’t speak above a whisper? SURE, LET’S HAVE HER JOIN THE SINGING GROUP, WHY NOT? Of course, we have a quirky fat girl (who I have to admit did make me laugh a couple of times). And naturally, we have gross-out humor like the girls wrestling in a giant pool of vomit. Last but not least, with this being a college movie, classes or learning do not show up ever. It’s a tween’s ideal of what college must be like. In the movie’s favor, the singing was good and the people behind the songs are quite talented. But apart from that, Pitch Perfect has nothing else to offer.
Verdict: Bad
11
Jan
14

Ted is Stuffed Full of Shit

“From the creator of Family Guy”? There’s a real selling point.

Seth MacFarlane has taken a massive dump on the public once again. His directorial debut is nothing more than a rehash of the same tired jokes and pathetic characters he’s been shitting at us for over a decade. This time movie-goers were subjected to his lame brand of “comedy.”
The biggest problem is that Seth MacFarlane has one idea. That is, a semi-dysfunctional family who resides in an everyday American town gets involved in wacky adventures with their talking animal. Family Guy: talking dog (which died and was replaced by another talking dog). American Dad: talking alien and talking goldfish. The Cleveland Show: talking bears. And now Ted: talking teddy bear. Clearly, MacFarlane is a one-trick pony. He has absolutely no other ideas. Hell, he already had a talking bear on The Cleveland Show, and he recycled that on Ted. For fuck’s sake, how does this guy keep getting license to create new shows when every show is already exactly the same as the last?
01
Jan
14

Awesomest/Shittiest Things of 2013

It’s that time once again, people. Time to look back at the awesomest and shittiest things of 2013. As always, it remains a struggle to find things for the awesome category, and to keep the shitty category to a minimum. Check it out:
Awesome
  1. Stephen Colbert Snubbed by Daft Punk - One of the biggest highlights from the world of music this year was the long-awaited release of a new Daft Punk album. I’ve always been a big fan, and I happily welcomed their new work. The most popular song from the album was titled Get Lucky It was one of the most popular songs this summer. Daft Punk is sort of notorious for being camera shy (which I whole-heartedly endorse for all celebrities), and rarely make public appearances. I was shocked (and excited) to hear that they were going to appear on The Colbert Report to play their “song of the summer.” And then they didn’t show up. No, they opted out and left Colbert high and dry. Fortunately, the episode we got was much funnier than what had been intended. Cobert danced to a recording of Get Lucky and had his famous friends join in. Hugh Laurie, Jeff Bridges, Jimmy Fallon, Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon, and more showed up to join in the fun. It was absolutely fucking hilarious. By a stroke of good luck, Robin Thicke was in New York promoting his new album and hot summer song Blurred Lines at the same time. Colbert managed to snag Thicke, and he performed the real “song of the summer” live on-stage. All in all, this was the music/comedy highlight of 2013.
  2. Horse Meat Scandal - I wrote a post on this earlier in the year. I find it totally, outrageously crazy that this scandal ravaged Europe. In case you didn’t hear, the basics boil down to this: people thought they were getting the same old processed meat in their foods as always, but as it turned out, they were getting beef mixed with horse. And in some cases, 100% horse. My thoughts are still the same. If nobody can tell the difference, then what’s the big fucking deal? The only reason people care is because horses are cute and cows aren’t. I’m still a long way from finishing my quest to eat every cute animal in the world. Hey, it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.
  3. Dennis Rodman Goes to North Korea - The world was stunned to learn that former NBA star Dennis Rodman visited North Korea in February. Apparently, that was the start of a beautiful friendship, as Rodman has gone on record several times talking about new BFF Kim Jong-Un. Rodman stated that Kim was a “friend for life”, a “great dad”, and that Obama should give him a call sometime. Rodman has gone again since then, and he plans to return in January 2014 to help coach a series of basketball games. This news story ends up in the Awesome category because it is so completely insane that it has no choice other than to be awesome. I can only imagine what it’s like, seeing a 6 ft. 7 in. tall, black, green-haired, face-pierced guy being best friends with a chubby Korean midget. They have to make a sitcom out of this. How can they not? Hilarity would ensue. On a more serious note, I hope that Rodman could potentially open Kim’s mind a bit about relaxing the human rights atrocities his country is notorious for. But I’m not going to hold my breath.
  4. Manti Te’O’s Fake Girlfriend - Super-genius football player Manti Te’O played at the collegiate level for Notre Dame. He entered the national spotlight when he stated that his close girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, died after battling Leukemia. Or was it in a car wreck? I’m not sure. Neither was Te’O. As it turns out, she wasn’t his girlfriend at all. She wasn’t even a girl. In fact, she wasn’t even a real person. Kekua turned out to be completely fictious, dreamed up by a man named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo (no doubt a true humanitarian), because he had fallen in love with Te’O and figured this was the only way they could be together. They had met through online dating and became very serious, despite never having met in person. While the story was pretty awesome and hilarious on its own, it does speak to the dangers of our online world. People can be duplicitous, and just imagine how much damage could have been created if Tuiasosopo actually had a vendetta against Te’O. Humanity is doomed.
  5. Dog Butt Jesus - This summer everyone got a little hysterical when a picture surfaced of a dog’s butt (and hind legs) that looked like our lord and savior. If you search for the image online and check it out you’ll see that, yeah, it kind of looks like Jesus. It’s amazing that a dog’s butt could be such a holy thing, when usually all its good for is taking dumps and shitting out random objects like plastic and strings. If the Virgin Mary could show up in a grilled cheese sandwich and religious people would cheer, then I don’t understand why they’d be upset about Jesus showing up in a dog’s butt. Dog is man’s best friend, after all, and humans spend a lot of time around dog butt. It seems like the most logical place for Jesus to show up.

Shitty
  1. NSA Scandal - While the horse meat scandal was hilarious, the recent United States NSA scandal was horrendous. There’s nothing like learning that the U.S. government spies on all of its citizens’ communications 24 hours a day. I suppose this should be expected, but I was hoping that the government still favored privacy and rights of people over HURR DURR WE HAVE TO DO THIS TO PROTECT US FROM TERRORISTS HURR DURR. President Obama promised to have one of the most transparent presidencies ever, but when this revelation came out, that was all blown to shit. And the guy who let us know about all this, Edward Snowden, is now forever on the run. Obama has actually lobbied hard to protect the rights of whistleblowers. Everyone is encouraged to speak out if we see that something is amiss (“If you see something, say something”). However, that’s a sham. If you see anything the government is doing illegally, you are supposed to keep your goddamn mouth shut. Things got even more ludicrously out of hand when we later found out the NSA was tapping the phones of high-ranking official of other governments, like the Chancellor of Germany. Great job there, NSA. Keep on monitoring those damn Nazis, never mind the fact that WWII ended in 1945. We are sliding down that slippery slope that will lead us into a total surveillance state. And with the godforsaken Xbox One monitoring us at all times through the Kinect, well, George Orwell’s predictions were proven right after all.
  2. The Royal Baby - Ugh. For fuck’s sake, nobody gives a shit about the royal baby. Okay, sure, maybe the British do, but nobody else does. Why was the U.S. media insisting on making this a story? Prince Baldy and Princess So-Beautiful-She-Only-Married-Baldy-for-the-Status had sex and reproduced. They only did what everyone else on the planet is capable of doing. I’m sorry, but this is not a news worthy story. Now, if the baby had developed the theory for cold fusion, then, yes, I would be interested. But it didn’t do that. It did what all babies do: shit and cry. I have nothing against the baby, not at all. But the fact that the media insisted everyone should care about these do royals procreating was totally annoying. This was the year 2013, why do we care about royalty at all? They don’t do anything but collect taxes from people for no other reason than they used to be in charge a long time ago. And that makes them interesting? Didn’t we fight the Revolutionary War so we could ignore these assholes? Ugh. For fuck’s sake.
  3. Action Stars’ Failed Comebacks - 2013 was the year that Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis all staged magnificent comebacks to the action movie genre. Of course, they all failed spectacularly. They unleashed some of the cheesiest, hammiest (now I’m getting hungry), most generic action movies in a long time. They wanted to recapture the magic of the 80s, but you know what? The 80s are over. I love those old movies, but they are a product of their time. The kind of stuff they did then just doesn’t work today. And I don’t think another 20 Expendables movies is going to change that.
  4. U.S. Government Shutdown - The U.S. government is so completely fucked up that it managed to land not one but two spots on this year’s shitty list. The two party system is completely broken. The entire government, and the hundreds of thousands of federal employess, not to mention millions of citizens who depend on services, were held hostage over an ideological hissy-fit. Republicans got most of the blame and rightfully so. They kept trying to block the Affordable Care Act, despite their attempts at blocking it were denied countless times by the courts and the voters themselves. Democrats came out looking pretty good at the end, but they are not without blame. The fact that they play such a massive role in the perpetutation of the broken political system leaves them just as culpable. No government should have to shut down because the players are stuck in a pissing contest. They have proven definitively that they don’t give a shit about the American people. They only care about their personal legacies and catering to radical groups of voters who make up the minority of the public. Maybe the NSA should think about monitoring the politicians and arresting those assholes for crimes against the country. They would have no shortage of suspects, that’s for sure.
  5. Miley Cyrus was Everywhere - I don’t have a problem with Miley Cyrus. She’s a kid, and she is acting like a kid: stupid. The only problem is that she’s a kid celebrity, and therefore her antics are plastered across our TVs and computers for all the world to see. I don’t need to see a vacuous bimbo shaking her ass with her tongue sticking out. I’ve been to college, I know what that’s like. We don’t need to keep recycling it over and over again. The shitty part about this was how the media kept trying to make her antics into a news story. No matter how expected her behavior was, the media kept trying to make it into something big, something it was not. Nobody cares about kids being stupid. That’s what they do best. Can we please stop paying attention to this nonsense?

Well, another year has come and gone. 2014 is just getting started. I’m sure there will be many more awesome and shitty things happening during the Earth’s long trek around the sun. Let’s hope, no matter what happens, we can ridicule them with reckless abandon.

21
Dec
13

Rare Exports – Crappy Christmas to You

This picture is better than the actual movie.

Rare Exports is a 2010 Finnish movie about Santa Claus. Although, it’s not Santa in the big red suit with a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. No, this version of Santa is a lot nastier. The film’s conceit is that Santa is a mythical monster, like something you’d see in an original Brother’s Grimm fairy tale. Santa is a feral creature who lives in the isolated woods of Finland. He ravenously kills and eats anyone who is naughty. Unfortunately, just about everyone is naughty, so no one is safe.
Sounds like a great setup, right? The premise is cool as hell, and certainly wins points for originality. OK, not exactly. The idea of a nearly impossible to please Santa Claus was already done in Futurama. A robotic Santa had such high standards that only Dr. Zoidberg made it to the nice list. Everyone else got a helping of laser blasts and rocket attacks. So, the idea isn’t completely original. But what idea is? The important thing is the execution. As long as they executed it well, everything will be fine.
The execution, however, sucked. The movie’s running time is only 82 minutes. Within such a short time to work, and with a cool premise, the best thing would be to introduce the characters, then jump right into the action. Rare Exports doesn’t do this. It spends the first 60 minutes farting around with boring characters. When shit finally gets going, there are only 20 minutes of film left. To say that the first hour of the movie is squandered would be an understatement.



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