I Liked The Hunger Games Better When It Was Called The Running Man

The Hunger Games is a best-selling franchise of books and movies, which has taken the world by storm in recent years. After watching the first movie, I thought to myself, “You know, I liked The Hunger Games better when it was called The Running Man.”

I’m referring to the 1987 movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, which is the exact same fucking thing. It feels like whoever made The Hunger Games was just doing a shitty fan-fiction set in the same universe as The Running Man.

Let’s do a head to head comparison:

Round One – Premise

The Running Man takes places in a dystopian society under marshal law, in which the public is pacified through the use of a televised game show where criminals are murdered for sport.

The Hunger Games takes place in a dystopian society under marshal law, in which the public is pacified through the use of a televised game show where children kill each other for sport.

OK, so, they’re basically identical. But what’s more fun, watching criminals die gruesome deaths or children? Obviously, it’s children.

Winner: The Hunger Games

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A Spectre of My Former Self (James Bond 24)

Daniel Craig returns as Ian Fleming’s James Bond in Spectre, the latest in the long-running film series. After the incredible highs of the previous film, Skyfall, people were eager for the follow-up. And since the same writers, director, producers, and star were returning, it had to be great, right? Right?

Unfortunately, Spectre rehashes the same ground that was tread in the previous film, and does so with less finesse. While it certainly has fantastic action, the rest of the film comes away as forced, leaving us with a middling Bond film.

I’m going to make a lot of references to Skyfall in this review of Spectre. Since pretty much the entire crew came back for the sequel, I think it’s fair to do so. There was a lot to dissect in the latest Bond outing, so I’m going to break down my thoughts into three categories.

The Good

I was immediately pleased to see the opening gun barrel scene at, you know, the opening, after two films shunted it to the end.

As has been the case for all of Craig’s Bond films, the action scenes in Spectre are top-notch. The most incredible takes place during the pre-title sequence. Bond is thrust into the crush of people in Mexico City’s wild Day of the Dead parade. He takes out some bad guys, and gets caught on a helicopter which is careening out of control. The loop-de-loops were thrilling, and the visuals of the holiday festivities alone were worth the price of admission. Bond looked cool as hell in the skeleton outfit he dons in the opening minutes.

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James Bond Pre-Title Sequences, Ranked

As a long-time James Bond fan, I’ve seen all the movies over and over again. The series is famed for it’s thrilling pre-title sequences which precede the story. I’ve listed all the sequences in order from worst to best. Check it out and let me know what you think!

22) The World is Not Enough It isn’t a surprise that the worst Bond movie also has the worst pre-title sequence. It’s absolutely bloated with excess. It starts off promising, with him fighting some people at a bank in Spain, but quickly spirals out of control as he goes on an overly long speedboat chase on the Thames River, and ends hanging off a hot-air balloon. It’s like a parody of a James Bond intro. It personifies the over-indulgence of the Pierce Brosnan era.

21) Die Another Day This intro is also pretty bad, but fares slightly better than the previous entry. It starts out completely cringe-worthy as Bond surfs into North Korea, moves along to a ridiculous hovercraft chase scene, and ends with Bond getting captured. The only reason I ranked it higher than The World is Not Enough is because they blended the opening song with the pre-title sequence. They had never done that before, and it kind of worked.

20) Quantum of Solace The crappy Bond movies keep on coming. I almost ranked this one at number 22, but I decided it wasn’t that horrible. It’s a car chase, which is cool in theory. Unfortunately, it’s schizophrenically edited. No shot lasts longer than two seconds. The camera is constantly switching from Bond’s face to the car to the tires to the road and back again. Making matters worse is the shakey-cam in which it was filmed. So, you have shakey-cam with jarring editing. If that doesn’t make you puke, I don’t know what will.

Continue reading ‘James Bond Pre-Title Sequences, Ranked’


World War CGI

I finally got around to watching scruffy, long-haired Brad Pitt fighting zombies in World War Z. It’s as derivative as zombie movies can get. It’s kind of like a vampire movie in that respect, there’s only so many things you can do with the concept. At the end of the day, all these movies follow the same basic formula: zombies attack, people escape, zombies eat people, people kill zombies, etc. So, it might be a little unfair to be super hard on World War Z for being formulaic in a genre that is mired in formula. But you know what? Fuck it, I don’t care. This movie sucks a smelly turd.
There are a few things I learned from World War Z, first and foremost being, you absolutely do not want Brad Pitt anywhere near you if you want to survive a zombie attack. There are five major zombie attack sequences in the film, and all of them are Brad Pitt’s fault.

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Killer Joe, The Book Thief

Killer Joe

Seriously. What. The. Fuck?

This has got to be one of the craziest, stupidest, weirdest, most ridiculous pieces of shit put to celluloid in recent years. Basically, a kid decides to kill his mother so he can get the insurance money to pay off his debt from a loan shark. He doesn’t want to murder his own mother, so he hires a hitman played by Matthew McConaughey.

After the job is finished, McConaughey doesn’t leave. He skulks around the trailer park lusting over the kid’s younger, mentally retarded sister. They start banging, and he further ingrains himself into the family dynamic. Eventually, she gets pregnant with his demon spawn. The kid obviously doesn’t like this, and it’s super weird and creepy.

There is a completely bizarre scene at the end where McConaughey punches a lady in the face and makes her pretend to have oral sex on a drumstick. Everything ends as stupidly as it began with nothing making any sense, and everything being completely overwrought and ridiculous.

I think McConaughey was trolling us with this one. There was no way he thought the script was any good.

Verdict: Shitty

The Book Thief

There have to be about a billion World War II movies, and half of those are Holocaust movies. The Book Thief isn’t exactly a Holocaust movie, but it falls in the ballpark, focusing on Nazi atrocities. The problem with so many movies based on the same historical event is that they eventually lose their impact. Yes, the Holocaust was a horrific event that the world should always remember so it will never be repeated. But we have seen it so many times on film, it has begun to lose the visceral impact it once had.

The Book Thief adds nothing new to the genre, and actually detracts more than anything else. It’s about the plight of a young German girl who lives in an idyllic town throughout the course of the war. She joins the Hitler Youth, but becomes disgusted when they burn books. She begins to hide books in her basement as a means of preserving them.

Despite this being the title of the film, not much really comes of that. It’s not like her stealing books has any significant impact on the overall story. The world moves around the main character and she is completely ineffectual. Her actions do not advance the plot, or even really put her in much peril. She stands listlessly while the war ends on its own volition.

We get some super cheesy shit where Death itself actually narrates parts of the film. It speaks at the end and tells us the main character lived happily ever after. Whoopty-fucking-shit.

The Book Thief is failed Oscar-bait. They think the subject matter will make it a glorious success automatically. Unfortunately, the story is weak and done better a million times before. It’s hard to care much about a German girl who hides books with little to no personal danger when compared to the likes of Oscar Schindler who put himself in constant physical danger and ruined himself financially to save Jews.

Verdict: Shitty


It’s Pilot Season – 2015

The Fall 2015 television season is upon us. And that means we’re inundated with the worst the networks have to offer. Each year brings us new series; a few will be great, but most will be unwatchable trash. There’s far too many horrible series out there for me to review them all. So, I’ve decided to watch the three pilots that had the most promotional advertising of this season and review them. Please note, my reviews are not necessarily what I think of the entire series, but simply my thoughts on the pilot episode.

The Muppets

The Muppets have been an entertainment staple since the beginning of time. Ever since Thomas Edison’s phonograph played Mary Had a Little Lamb, the Muppets have been there to make us laugh. Everyone has grown up watching them, and everyone loves them. They love them so much, in fact, that they have become desperately protective of them.

The Muppets are flexible, and have changed their style, format, and humor as the times have changed. In the 1970s, they had a hit show which was based on the popular variety show format of the time. In the 80s, they did feature films. In the 2000s, they had a long dry spell where they only did Disney-based attractions (and Kermit got heavily involved in alcohol). Today, they are back on TV, and the format has changed once again. Now, they are doing an Office-like show, a behind the scenes comedic look at running a TV series, complete with A and B storylines and cut-away confessionals.

People don’t like the new format. Why? Because people are stupid. They cling to nostalgia the same way an NRA nutcase clings to his guns. Since the Muppets’ new show is different from whatever version the audience grew up with, IT’S AN ABOMINATION AND MUST DIE, KILL IT WITH FIRE!

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Pain and Gain is Painful but Not Gainful

Michael Bay has been saying for years that he wanted to make a “small picture” that wasn’t just a bunch of explosions, and was actually about something. Apparently, this is what he had in mind. Generally, this movie has been received as most of Bay’s work: a giant piece of shit. But I’m going to be kind to Bay. I didn’t think it was that bad. It wasn’t good by any stretch of the imagination, but it honestly wasn’t a bad film. That’s about the highest praise I can give to Bay.

Pain and Gain tells the story of three meat-head bodybuilders in Miami. They kidnap a wealthy (and shady) businessman, and torture him into signing over all of his assets to them. They then leave him for dead in a ditch somewhere.

The first half of the movie is decent. It mostly talks about Mark Wahlberg’s character’s life, how he wants more, he wants the American dream, but he isn’t going to get it, he’s gotten as far as he’s going to get in life with his particular skillset. When he winds up as the businessman’s personal trainer, he decides that he is going to take what he wants by any means necessary.

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November 2015
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