14
May
16

Captain America: Civil War AKA WTF Did I Just Watch?

Full disclosure, here is a list of Marvel Cinematic Universe properties I haven’t seen: Captain America 2, Thor 2, Iron Man 3, Avengers 2, Ant-Man, Agents of SHIELD, Agent Carter, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Amazing Spider-Man, and Amazing Spider-Man 2. So, I probably wasn’t prepared for Captain America 3: The Combining of All Properties Civil War. Seeing this movie presented an interesting experiment: watch a bunch of characters I’m not very familiar with cavort on-screen, and try to see if I can figure out what the hell is going on.

Civil War is about Selfless Captain America fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. Err, wait no, scratch that. Civil War is about Sanctimonious Captain America defending his psycho assassin best friend despite the fact he’s a murderous lunatic who deserves to rot in a prison cell.

Continue reading ‘Captain America: Civil War AKA WTF Did I Just Watch?’

07
May
16

Creed and Rocky Are the Same Movie

Apparently, I was supposed to love Creed because of its amazing acting, incredible story, and wonderful direction. Creed was pretty good, I suppose… for a remake.

The problem with Creed is the problem with every fucking movie Hollywood has been churning out lately. It’s a goddamn motherfucking remake. Yeah, that’s right, it’s a remake of the first film in the series: Rocky.

Rocky has long been hailed as one of the finest movies of all time. But it’s 40 years old. That means the current generation is largely unaware of it, and the last generation has probably forgotten most of it. It was an easy trick for the writers of Creed to do a virtual carbon copy of the Rocky screenplay and make it good. Of course it’s good. It was good the first fucking time in Rocky! That’s the reason everyone loved it. They were just watching Rocky again. What a crock of shit!

If you don’t believe that Creed is nearly identical to Rocky, check out this breakdown:

Creed: main character is an underdog no one takes seriously

Rocky: main character is an underdog no one takes seriously

Creed: main character finds an old, down on his luck trainer to teach him to be a better boxer

Rocky: main character finds an old, down on his luck trainer to teach him to be a better boxer

Creed: best fighter in the world sets up a publicity stunt match, giving the underdog a once in a lifetime shot

Rocky: best fighter in the world sets up a publicity stunt match, giving the underdog a once in a lifetime shot

Creed: main character meets a girl and falls in love during his journey

Rocky: main character meets a girl and falls in love during his journey

Creed: the big fight is expected to be an easy win for the champion, but the underdog holds his own

Rocky: the big fight is expected to be an easy win for the champion, but the underdog holds his own

Creed: main character loses by decision

Rocky: main character loses by decision

Creed: the point of the movie is the main character’s journey of self-discovery

Rocky: the point of the movie is the main character’s journey of self-discovery

Continue reading ‘Creed and Rocky Are the Same Movie’

01
May
16

Snowpiercer, Fletch

Snowpiercer

This critically acclaimed 2013 film from South Korea makes you wonder what it takes to make a film “critically acclaimed.” Apparently, it isn’t an interesting story, good action sequences, or wonderful acting, because Snowpiercer has none of those things, but still rocks a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes.

In yet another dreary, boring, post-apocalyptic nightmare, Snowpiercer takes place on a perpetually moving train. The world was completely frozen-over, and the last remnants of humanity took refuge on one insane man’s train, which continues to run indefinitely, despite nobody being alive to maintain the train tracks.

The train is divided into two classes: our heroes (the poor) and the villains (the rich). The rich are stealing children for some reason, so the poor decide to rise up one day and find out what’s going on.

Chris Evans leads the poor people in their uprising. They fight their way to the front of the train with some pretty bland action scenes along the way. Tilda Swinton shows up to chew some scenery, and John Hurt appears to cash a paycheck before both move on to better projects.

Evans finds the crazed engineer, played by Ed Harris, who says they have to use small children to keep the guts of the train clean. Because, yeah, um, just accept it. Some more fighting happens, the train explodes and derails, and everybody dies except for one kid and a Korean chick.

There is nothing unique or thrilling about Snowpiercer. It’s yet another entry into a tired genre that needs to go on extended hiatus.

Verdict: Bad

Fletch

Chevy Chase stars as Fletch, an intrepid reporter hot on a California drug case. Chase is at the height of his comedy powers here, when he was snorting mountains of cocaine, but it hadn’t caused irreparable brain damage yet. He dons plenty of wacky disguises as he investigates a labyrinthine mystery involving an airplane company, the police, and a rich man who wants to be murdered. It isn’t super jokey, and I wouldn’t even say it’s an outright comedy. Yes, there are tons of light moments, and nothing is really taken seriously. But I would almost classify it as a light drama. Chase does a great job moving the action along, and makes the comedy appear effortless. While it is a fun movie, it is rather unmemorable, and I don’t think it has a lot of replay value. Still, it’s worth a watch.

Verdict: Average

23
Apr
16

The Doctor Will See You Now (James Bond 1)

The first James Bond film, Dr. No, was released in 1962. I imagine there was little fanfare considering it was the first in the series, and Sean Connery was not yet a household name. It’s fun to look back, over 50 years later, now that the franchise has exploded in popularity and seen several changes in actors and styles.

You can also see how differently movies were made back then. Bond shows up and immediately gets to work on his mission. Everyone interacts as if they have known each other for years. This is not an origin story in the slightest. It’s a bit jarring in a sense, but I think it’s only jarring because today Hollywood is obsessed with origin stories. The lack of an origin story is quite refreshing.

The origin of the film itself is interesting. The producers, Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli, wanted to start at the beginning, with Casino Royale. Unfortunately, they couldn’t secure the rights to the novel, as CBS had already made it into a one-hour television special. It was altered in several ways, including, most egregiously, turning the main character into an American named Jimmy Bond. Even though the TV special wasn’t a hit, CBS was interested enough to turn it into a full-fledged series. Ian Fleming was paid to write an additional 32 episodes comprising two television seasons. When the deal ultimately fizzled, Fleming took what he wrote and turned it into his book For Your Eyes Only.

Continue reading ‘The Doctor Will See You Now (James Bond 1)’

16
Apr
16

Bad Words, Wild

Bad Words

Jason Bateman stars and directs a movie about a guy who finds a loophole in a national spelling bee. Since he never graduated from high school, he is able to join a bunch of pre-teens in the big competition. As an adult, of course, he obliterates the kids. He psyches them out, screws with them after-hours, and bangs a journalist who is following him around, wondering why the hell he is doing all this. Bateman has a secret, the true reason for joining. It isn’t revealed until the final minutes of the film, and it’s completely out of left field, preposterous, and utterly pointless. The big reveal lets what little air was in this heap of a film out. The bulk of the movie sees Bateman befriending a young Indian kid with absentee parents. They bond over cuss words and some really pathetically forced scenes. This movie fails hard all the way around. It isn’t funny or dramatic or interesting in the slightest. It’s one of those films where the concept is brilliant, but the execution is piss-poor.

Verdict: Shitty

Wild

Reese Witherspoon tried to break out of her rom-com stereotype with this movie, taking on double-duty as both star and producer. I commend her for trying, and I also commend her for turning in a decent performance. She really does have some dramatic acting chops, and I completely believed her in the role. Unfortunately, this is a dog of a movie, with a turd of a script, which tries to force drama down your throat, and ends up being more unintentionally funny than anything else.

Witherspoon plays a sex-addict/drug-addict who is trying to pick up the pieces of her life after her mother dies from cancer. She thinks that hiking 1100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail will be life changing. She struggles in the elements, and she meets interesting people along the way. All of the hiking parts were really good. Sadly, though, the movie focuses on the reasons why she went on the hike. They are doled out in fragmented flashbacks, so you don’t know the whole story until late in the film. 60% of the film is flashbacks to her fucked-up life of fucking random dudes and shooting IV heroin, and 40% of the film is about her shot at redemption. Character motivations are generally more interesting, but they failed to make them so here. They could have easily condensed the flashbacks by half. The way it is now, you feel like you are relentlessly beaten over the head with all her tribulations until you are more exhausted than the character. And, wouldn’t you know it, at the end she is a changed woman. Yeah, sure. You expect us to believe that a depressed, sex/drug-addict suddenly lives a happy life and becomes completely sober because they went hiking? That’s a tough one to buy.

Verdict: Bad

09
Apr
16

Beyond the Boundary, Ping Pong

Beyond the Boundary

This is yet another one of those frustrating anime that could have been great, but was squandered by Japan’s unceasing desire to pander to the lowest common denominator. The story has already been done a million times before. The world is inhabited by all sorts of supernatural beings, but only very special people can see them.

The main character is a guy who is half-human and half-monster, and apparently immortal. This allows him to get stabbed, burned, and mutilated in various ways without any lasting results. His love interest is a shy, annoying, screechy girl with glasses who hunts monsters, and came to town to kill him.

The animation is fucking fantastic. Almost every single episode looks like a goddamn movie. The character motions are fluid and dynamic, and they fly around on-screen brandishing weapons and leaping away from supernatural explosions.

Unfortunately, the animation is all this series has going for it. The rest is insanely trite. The girl and guy like each other, but the girl won’t admit her feelings. They screech and holler at one another. The other characters are requisitely weird, and are as developed as a piece of cardboard.

In the end, the girl dies, but then comes back to life for no reason at all, teaching us there are no consequences. It was pretty lame overall, and I was super disappointed. It’s too bad they wasted so much money on the animation budget. Instead of doing that, they should have just made a second season of Berserk or something.*

Verdict: Bad

*Yes, I know there is second season of Berserk coming. I wrote this post before it was announced.

 

Ping Pong

This is a pretty fascinating anime with some of the worst animation I have ever seen. The character models are hideous, the animation is about as close to stop-motion as you can get, and the character designs vary from episode to episode. Prepare yourself for a lot of speed lines and jerky movements.

Even so, Ping Pong was absolutely enthralling. The story was great. It was about two childhood friends who bond over table tennis. One comes out of his shell, working hard to become the best. The other, much more extroverted friend, doesn’t take the game too seriously, relying mostly on his natural talent.

They manage to incorporate a good deal of drama and teenage angst, but make it believable and relatable. The only thing that pissed me off was the story’s confused message. It seems to think that people with natural ability will best people who practice a lot. Unfortunately, that’s not true. People with natural ability can be good, but they won’t beat people who take a sport seriously and practice day-in, day-out. Other than that, I enjoyed this anime.

Verdict: Good

 

 

03
Apr
16

Max Payne is Painful to the Max

In the history of this blog, I’ve called a lot of movies “shitty.” Some of them might not have really deserved that. Some of them were probably “bad” or perhaps “average.” But if they pissed me off, I went for the “shitty” rating because they wasted my time. Max Payne made me re-evaluate everything I thought I knew about movie reviewing. Max Payne plumbs new depths in the world of shitty film-making. I wish I had a score lower than “shitty” because that is what Max Payne deserves.

Max Payne is a movie based on a video game based on film noir. In the game, detective Max Payne investigates the murder of his wife and child, and in doing so, gets involved in innumerable gun fights. It’s an action game, so it’s to be expected. One of the things that separated Max Payne from other games of the time was that it incorporated slow-motion “bullet-time” as a game mechanic. It made the frenzied shoot-outs manageable, and added an extra layer of fun.

As a movie, Max Payne does everything wrong. It’s based on a shooter game, so you’d think it would contain a plethora of action scenes. Well, it doesn’t have any action until a full hour into its one hour and forty minute runtime. That’s right. A full two-thirds of the movie is dedicated to fantastic dialogue and insightful character development. Nah, I’m kidding. It’s just Mark Wahlberg brooding and screaming at people.

Continue reading ‘Max Payne is Painful to the Max’




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