5.31.2009

UP.

Why was this movie so sad? Up is about Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner). As a young boy, he idolized adventurer Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer), as did Ellie (Elie Docter), a young girl who lived nearby. The two form a friendship and make a bond that they'll follow Muntz to South America one day and have the adventure of a lifetime. They grow up, get married, and have a wonderful life. But as life goes on, the adventure never happens. And one day, once Carl and Ellie are old and gray, Ellie dies, leaving Carl to his house and all the memories the come with it. Unfortunately, the house is in the middle of a reconstruction zone, and one event after another finds Carl forced to move away from the only thing he has left. So what does he do? He straps hundreds of balloons to his house and lifts off to go live on a waterfall cliffside in South America like he always promised his wife. But he's not alone. Enter Russell (Jordan Nagai), a young boy in the scouts who needs one more badge to bump up to a senior scout. The badge? Assist the elderly. He just didn't expect to be accidentally dragged to South America to do it. Once there, they discover a large bird and a dog with a collar that allows him to talk. And both are somehow connected Charles Muntz. So Carl and Russell enter the adventure of a lifetime, Carl trying to get his home where he promised his wife, and Russell just trying to do what's right.

Obviously, this movie is a bit complicated. Well, at least until you really get into it. As such, the whole beginning is a massive setup for the better part of the movie later. At the beginning, I wasn't sure what I was getting into, and I kept telling myself I knew it was going to take off and become superb once the house is in the air. And boy was I right. I'm not saying the beginning is bad. It's very good, sometimes funny, sometimes depressingly sad. But it really is just a whole ton of setup for the true heart of the film.

Once they get into the air and make for South America, the movie really shines. It becomes twice as funny, twice as thrilling, and twice as beautiful. Really, the movie is gorgeous. Like WALL*E, the scenery and atmosphere is so much better than the animation of the people. Again, there's nothing wrong with the animation of the people, and it fits in with the urban world. But once they hit the jungle... as Aladdin says, it's a whole new world.

I saw the film in 3D, as well. And while I don't think this movie needs to necessarily be seen in 3D, I wouldn't pass it up. It would be like watching WALL*E in 3D. There aren't too many 'at your face' moments, but it's best because it brings the atmosphere and surroundings of the film to you. It was clear this movie wasn't filmed to be in 3D originally, as they had none of the usual 3D tricks. There were maybe 2-3 things that ever come flying out at you. But like I said, this movie would be good to see in 3D to bring the beautiful atmosphere around you.

The voice acting is good, though as a fun side-note... the whole time I was trying to figure out Carl's voice. I knew I had heard it somewhere before. And for some strange reason, I kept wanting to say JK Simmons, even though I knew it wasn't him. When I finally came home and looked up Ed Asner (Carl's voice), I realized where I recognized him from: He did the voice of J. Jonah Jameson in the old 90s Spider-Man cartoon. And, for those of you who live under a rock, JK Simmons played J. Jonah Jameson in the live action versions. So I thought that was funny how my brain was trying to make that connection.

There's really not a whole lot to say about the film. I keep wanting to compare this movie to WALL*E. Not in themes or story or anything, but in the beauty of the animation, the great music, or in how the film pulls you through so many emotions. I seriously nearly cried at least 3-4 times in this movie. But I also laughed, felt suspense... it's all there. And while I feel WALL*E is still the superior film, this one is great in its own right. By the time it had ended, I was feeling really good, and I had a big smile on my face.

Photobucket
A Keanu 'Whoa'

(P.S. Like the recently reviewed Drag Me To Hell, this is a very strong 'Whoa'. In fact, I damn near gave it a 'Royale with Cheese'. But the somewhat slow beginning, especially in comparison to the rest of the film, really notched it down just slightly. Think of this as a 4.5 out of 5).

(P.P.S. For clarification, as I've already gotten one comment snipping at me, by 'slow beginning', I didn't mean the incredibly beautiful and moving montage. I meant the sequence after the montage and prior to the house taking off. I felt it could have been paced just slightly better).

5.29.2009

DRAG ME TO HELL.

If you're a fan of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy, you'll know what to expect here. It's scary, funny (sometimes silly), gross, over-the-top, and no-holds-barred. Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is a loan officer vying for assistant manager against Stu (Reggie Lee). And when her boss Mr. Jacks (David Paymer) tells her new guy Stu is doing well because of his persistent attitude, she tried to pick up a take-no-prisoners view herself. Unfortunately, the first customer to show up as soon as this happens is elderly Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) who is about to be evicted from her home and has already pulled two loans. Christine tries to impress her boss and refuses to give the old woman the loan, which only results in a very upset old gypsy woman. Mrs. Ganush places a curse on Christine that spans three days, everyday getting stronger. And after the third day, the Lamia (a goat demon) will show and drag her to Hell for all eternity. So she must work together with her boyfriend Clay (Justin Long) and psychic Rham Jas (Dileep Rao) to try and stop it before the three days are up.

My first reaction? How the heck is this movie only PG13? It feels way too intense for that. With the exception of hard language, it's really up there with the Evil Dead trilogy. It has some of the serious horror and creepiness of the first, the slapstick of the second, and the gross-out of the third. Though sometimes it did take it a bit far. And I don't mean in the no-holds-barred way. But for instance, the "anvil" scene. That just didn't work for me. It's a great idea, and probably brilliant on paper, but I feel the execution is something that could have only worked in the 80s and with Bruce Campbell involved (it's something where the facial expressions or a snappy one-liner would have come in handy).

The beginning of the movie is slow, but not in a bad way. Though at this point, you're really not sure what you're getting into. At first, it really feels like a serious horror movie (despite the stupid laughing teenage girls in the back of the theater). And it really takes a bit to find its tone of horror/comedy. At first it eases the comedy into it, and it's sprinkled here and there. But as it goes on, it really mixes it in. And it's honestly a perfect mixture. This is not a horror movie to take 100% seriously. And if you've seen the Evil Dead films, you should already know that.

There's not really any gore. There's only one scene with blood that really sticks in my mind (a nosebleed scene that's so over-the-top, only Sam Raimi could pull it off). But there are plenty of other bodily fluids for a plethora of gross-out moments. In fact, Sam Raimi goes old school. Much like the first Evil Dead film, he attempts what others seem to forget: wind, shadows, and creaks can be much more terrifying than anything else. Scares are in the anticipation. Don't get me wrong, the movie has it's jump-scares, but they're equally balanced with the old school horror. I would go as far as saying that Raimi did what M. Night Shyamalan couldn't do recently: he made wind scary.

The movie is decently acted, as well. Lorna Raver plays a very creepy old woman very well. And Justin Long plays the sweetheart boyfriend very well. Dileep Rao is fun as the psychic, too. And it's always a joy to see David Paymer. But, of course, the real joy was (the gorgeous) Alison Lohman. She could play it serious, and she could play it funny. There were a few parts where it seemed she tried a bit hard to be a badass, which just made it funny than anything. But then again, that was probably the intention.

Otherwise, there were some questionable CGI effects, but I didn't really mind that much. The Evil Dead films were the same way (regardless of being made back in the day). And all of that, along with the cheesy/creepy music and the fill-up-the-screen title, I feel this was more of a throw back to classic horror than anything. The film isn't without its flaws, but they're few and far between. This is a horror/comedy for the books, and Sam Raimi is back at the top of his game.

Photobucket
A Keanu 'Whoa'

(P.S. This is a very strong 'Whoa').

5.28.2009

Short Review: My Neighbor Totoro.

Premise: When a dad and his two daughters move to a country home to be closer to their hospitalized wife/mother, the girls begin to notice a few fantastical things in their midst. At the top of that list is a giant furry creature that the youngest daughter dubs Totoro (a troll).

Starring: It really depends on which version you see (different voice actors). The biggest names for the newest English translation are Dakota and Elle Fanning.

My Reaction: Yet another beautiful Miyazaki film. After losing some faith with Nausicaa, he pulled me back in with Totoro. The beginning is a bit slow, though you steadily realize it's more of a character/relationship piece than a fantasy piece. Totoro is in the whole movie about 4 times. I particularly liked the relationship between Satsuki and Kanta, though there wasn't a huge payoff at the end, which was disappointing. Overall, it's a beautiful film (in artistry and story), and probably one of my favorite Miyazaki films (though Spiritied Away still carries that title). Oh, and how cool are the parents (especially the dad) in this movie? He totally went with everything his daughters said without any doubt.

Photobucket
A Keanu 'Whoa'

TV Review: Dragonball Z - Season Three.

This season took way too long to get through. Why? Because Netflix started messing with me for a while, and I didn't get a new disc for nearly two weeks. It literally kept skipping over a whole chunk of DVDs, even those that weren't on a 'short wait' or whatnot. But oh well. I've gotten through them now, so I can review them.

Season 3 is a bit unlike the previous two seasons: it doesn't have the setup that the other two had. This is mostly because all of Season 2 is basically the setup for Season 3. That's why I felt that they should be considered one uber-season (much like I know a couple parts of the "Cell" season got split up). But this isn't necessarily a bad thing, either. Instead of having to wait for episode upon episode for Goku to finish doing whatever it is he's doing and show up to the battle field, we pretty much have him from the start. And Frieza needs no introduction, as he was built up all throughout Season 2. So what we have here is an entire season of almost non-stop fighting and action.

Yet, even with a 6-disc action scene, the season still manages to do some crazy things... like put large amounts of focus on the unnecessary. Chi-Chi, for instance. Or King Kai's planet. Or Bulma. Though the Bulma scenes inevitably pay off with the (pointless) return of Captain Ginyu. And speaking of the Ginyu Force, was bringing them back into the show really necessary? King Kai eventually invites them to his little planet to face off against Tien, Chaotzu, and Yamcha to show the boys how strong they've become. Needless to say, they wipe the floor with them. But there were really just some unnecessary moments and flashes to other places.

This was especially true toward the end, and this was one of the big things I always disliked about the Frieza Saga. Frieza attacks the planet and gives it 5 minutes before it will explode, killing Goku while he escapes (he can live in space). Well, it apparently takes roughly 8-9 22-minute episodes for 5 minutes to pass. And it just gets ridiculous in one of the final episodes before Goku defeats Frieza. Frieza remembers everything he hates about Goku in a series of flashbacks. But it's not just a quick montage of flashbacks. No. It's about a half-episode long set of flashbacks wherein each scene takes about a minute to retell. It's like "We just finished watching the season... let me show the entire thing to you again... including scenes from this very episode." So you get to see a scene from that one episode about 3 times. Between that and King Kai repeatedly explaining "The planet is going to explode with Goku on it, so it doesn't matter if he defeats Frieza... he's still gonna die!" Seriously, Yamcha et al. must be idiots, because King Kai had to tell them that every single time they showed them (and they showed them often). I about laughed at one point when they ask "What's wrong?" It's like "he just finished telling you for the 50th time!"

I also have a couple other issues with the final episodes, including a couple major continuity problems. First of all (the smaller issue), there's a point where Vegeta and Gohan fight, Gohan gets the crap beat out of him, and Vegeta leaves. The very next episode shows Gohan perfectly fine and Vegeta just hanging out. Not only that, but Bulma then starts to hit on Vegeta (like, flirt with, not beat), after mainly being scared of and hateful toward him. Though I've always enjoyed the Bulma/Vegeta relationship, so I'm not too flustered. The bigger issue is with the Namekian dragonballs. They want to wish Goku and Krillin back (assuming Goku had died when the planet exploded) with those dragonballs, but discover that they could only be wished back to the place they died. But earlier on in the previous season, they used the same dragonballs to wish Piccolo back to life. He died on Earth, but he doesn't reappear where he died. He stays on King Kai's planet where he currently was, and they have to wish him to Namek. The continuity issue there is alarming.

There seems to be a lot of negativity here, but it's really a fun season. The action is great, though they really undermined Gohan's powers. He turns out to be one of the strongest fighters (if not the strongest) on the show, yet even with boosted ability, he's shown as mostly weak against Frieza and the Ginyu Force. But I guess that's hindsight for you. And the best thing about this season? The introduction of the Super Saiyan! That's right, Goku finally turns Super Saiyan, and it is epic. Once he does that, Frieza (mostly) gets his ass handed to him. It's great fun to watch. And I love how they use juxtapositions to show increased strength on this show (you see how strong Vegeta is, yet Frieza manhandles him... then Goku shows up and beats on Frieza, showing how much stronger Goku is than Vegeta).

Anyway, I don't have much else to say about the season. I already have disc 1 of season 4, so it won't be long before I get to my favorite stuff (the Cell saga(s)). There are a couple things to get through before that (Garlic Jr. and Androids, specifically). So, yeah.

5.25.2009

TV Review: The Venture Bros. - Season Three.

I don't know what the difference was between the first two seasons and this one, but they apparently thought the difference included removing all censorship, which allowed them to add a whole lot more unbleeped cussing and a bit too much male nudity (with almost no female nudity).

I've heard numerous rants about this season and how it's the weakest season of the show, but I disagree. In fact, this is my second favorite season (after the second, and I liked this season better than season 1). One argument is that there's too much reliance on male nudity for jokes. I disagree. There's no more male nudity in this season than any other season. It's just that this season doesn't block it like the previous seasons.

There's also arguments that this season has way too much backstory. While it does have a lot of backstory, the whole season is far from pure backstory. There were maybe 3-4 episodes that I can recall that were really in-your-face about it. The rest I don't really recall much backstory. And if there was, they were quite subtle about it, much like any other season. And who doesn't like more developed characters?

Though I was disappointed in the little use of Dr. Orpheus in the season. He was moreso in the first half of the season than the second. And his daughter, Triana, had maybe one or two appearances, so there wasn't a whole lot of fun Dean/Triana relationship building. But I suppose I can understand it (moreso the lack of Orpheus). They don't want to go too overboard on him... then you won't appreciate him as much, I guess.

Also, one of the best focuses of the season was the ever-increasing roles of Henchmen 21 and 24 (which only makes me hate the very end of the season finale). Those two are such fun characters, and their duo dynamic is hilarious. It's especially funny when they start to realize their own 'main character-ization' and how they keep escaping death, as if they're becoming main characters in a story.

I realize I haven't really discussed the story of the season yet, so I should probably do that. Again, it picks up where the last season left off. The Monarch has married Dr. Girlfriend (whose name keeps changing now, becoming more along the lines of 'Dr. The Monarch's wife'). But a stipulation of their marriage is that The Monarch can no longer 'arch' (arch-nemesis) with Dr. Venture. So Dr. Venture gets a new arch-nemesis from the Guild: Seargant Hatred, a buff military-esque villain who is more concerned with having the destruction come when it's good for the both of them than just being a bad guy. But The Monarch won't give up... he misses arching Dr. Venture, and he tries to sneak in some arching with him when he can.

As such, the story for this season feels, at least to me, more fluid than previous seasons. There is a focus on backstory, but at least it never explains why The Monarch is so adamant about hating Venture (a running joke that would have otherwise been ruined). Everybody seems to have some purpose to what they're doing this season. Seargant Hatred isn't nearly as fun as The Monarch, but I think that's the point, especially by the time we get to the payoff in the season finale.

And speaking of the season finale, as usual, it is one of the best parts of the season. If this show can do anything great, it's build up to some of the greatest finales of any show on television. Even if they have a subpar season, the finale can still manage to bring everything together and make it awesome. And after the finales from seasons 2 and 3, the season 1 finale that I thought was so epic just pales in comparison. And as usual, they end with a big twist and some unanswered questions (as well as some death). Unfortunately, this season was the newest, and I'm not sure when the next season will be airing on TV. So I'm all caught up with the show and can't wait for it to start back up again... though now I'll have to watch it one at a time instead of numerous via DVD. Lame.

Anyway, as usual, if you enjoyed the previous seasons, I'd just keep it going. You'll doubtlessly enjoy this season, as well. Though it seems this season is hit or miss with some folks, so who knows. I guess it comes down to how much you like background information. But background info or not, it's still funny in its presentation. And I don't care if she sounds like a man (or is a cartoon figure), Dr. Girlfriend is hot.

5.24.2009

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN.

I'm not sure what all the hatin' is for with this movie. It has its flaws, but it's still decent entertainment. The movie picks up a few years after the first, and Larry (Ben Stiller) has quit his night guard job to move on to 'bigger and better' things as an inventor. Dr. McPhee (Ricky Gervais) sells out with the museum, turning everything to the technology side of things. So that means quite a few of the exhibits have to go. And to where else? The stock room of the Smithsonian. But Larry gets a call from Jed (Owen Wilson) and Octavius (Steve Coogan) that all hell's broke loose, since the monkey stole the tablet of Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek), which was supposed to stay back at the previous museum. But now Ahkmenrah's older brother, Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria), wants to get a hold of the tablet, as it apparently has the power to bring back an army of the dead so that Kahmunrah can take over the world. So now Larry must team up with old friends and new, including Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) and General Custer (an almost unrecognizable Bill Hader), to fight Kahmunrah and his new henchmen, including Al Capone (Jon Bernthal), Ivan the Terrible (Christopher Guest), and Napoleon (Alain Chabat). And, of course, there are a thousand other things/characters/people that show up in the process...

Honestly, the movie wasn't bad. It has an almost unbearably slow and unfunny beginning, though. And the movie tries way too hard at times, just resulting in awkward moments of unfunny. And the CGI isn't the greatest, and there's way too much of it. Not to mention a few logical issues (the tiny Museum of Natural History has night guards, but the multi-building Smithsonian doesn't have any?).

However, once you get to the first major cameo appearance of the film, Jonah Hill, the movie starts to pick up considerably. And the Jonah Hill scene really is funny. Ironically, one of the best jokes in the film is basically the exact same joke, but extended on later in the movie by Hank Azaria. And the movie has a few good cameos, including Craig Robinson and Jay Baruchel (as well as 'that guy' Clint Howard, though I don't think he counts). And make sure to stick during the beginning of the credits for a fun joke with Jay Baruchel.

And the movie is pretty funny, though, like I said, it does try too hard at times. One of the biggest issues is that it tries to do too much. There are too many characters. Not to mention you can tell how every little thing is going to be important at some point in the movie, as Larry's initial walkthrough of the Smithsonian is a virtual "Chekhov's Gun" scenario. There's a focus on every little figure that Larry walks by as if ensuring "hey, make sure to remember this for later on!" But some of the characters were rather pointless. Although he's there the majority of the time, Al Capone was wasted. And the scene with Darth Vader had no purpose other than to get a laugh from Star Wars fans (it's basically no more than what you see in the trailer... maybe a minute longer). Oh, and did the movie really need to include the Jonas Brothers (regardless of not even physically being there?). Though, intentional or not, they do get a good jab in at their singing.

But there is some fun action. There's a great spoof of 300 near the end with a funny payoff. And the final fight between Larry and Kahmunrah is epic, though the music of the scene really helped (I want to find that song). That had to be one of my favorite moments of the movie.

There's not really a lot to discuss. It's a fun family film. There's good comedy, good action, and overall good entertainment. Though they never explain what happened between Larry and the Carla Gugino character from the first film. She's just... not there. Anyway, if you liked the first one, you'll probably like this one. It ups the scales a lot, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Though the real scene stealer? Amy Adams' butt.

Photobucket
I Am McLovin!

(P.S. Must the Judd Apatow gang be in everything these days?)

5.23.2009

TERMINATOR SALVATION.

Terminator is the kind of movie you can't go in expecting realism. I went with a group of friends to see this latest installment. One of them (and her boyfriend) were like me and enjoyed it. Another would thought it was awful. And the last believed it was a plague on all mankind and made her want to destroy things because it angered her so much. But she was also mostly discussing negatives that came from a realism perspective. Keeping that in mind, let's get into the review.

Terminator Salvation brings the story to the future and tells it through the perspective of 3 characters: Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) wakes up years after given the lethal injection having no idea what's going on, and he eventually comes across the next bunch. Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) is trying to keep safe with Star (Jadagrace) and do his part to help with the Resistance. And, of course, John Connor (Christian Bale) and wife Kate (Bryce Dallas Howard) are heading up the Resistance--or trying to, anyway. The upper echelon of the Resistance discovers a signal that could bring the downfall of the machines. By they also find a list of names of people who are to be assassinated within 4 days' time. At the top of the list are Kyle Reese and John Connor, and John must find Kyle and bring him to safety, as Kyle eventually becomes his father, so if Kyle dies, a crazy paradox happens and the future changes.

I've read plenty of reviews saying this is Sam Worthington's film, yada yada. And he does a pretty damn good job at his part. But the actor getting very little recognition, at least from what I've read, is Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese. When I first heard that Yelchin was going to be in the movie, I raised an eyebrow. Then I heard he was Kyle Reese (much more recently, actually), and I started to really question. Don't get me wrong, I think the kid is a really good actor, but he didn't scream "badass action star" to me. However, I think he did a very great job in his role. He even managed to make his voice a little less nasally to help with the badassness.

I can go on and on about the really fun and mindless action of the movie, or any of the really well done CGI (even a particular CGI cameo looked loads better than, say, The Rock in The Mummy Returns). Even the camera shots and cinematography was excellent. But most other reviews have probably done those to death already.

The movie isn't without its flaws, but what Terminator movie is? None of the time travel stuff has ever made sense (the core of the story is paradoxical). Going into a film like this and then scoffing at the mindless action, the nonsensical occurrences, or the fanfare (like two specific lines, or the aforementioned CGI cameo) is to miss the entire point of this film and the ones that came before it. If I nitpicked, I could go on and on about issues with the movie, logical or not. Why would a metal android skid across water like that? How does the electronic device not short out in the lake? How can they do open surgery in the middle of the desert like that (Well, I suppose if LOST can do it...)? Not to mention issues that came with the surgery itself. And what was the point of the little mute black girl? She does one important thing in the movie, and that could easily have been done by Kyle instead. Was Moon Bloodgood's character necessary beyond a plot device? Why do the machines not recognize you-know-who as a machine earlier, but they do later once it's convenient? Was it really necessary to show the title twice within the opening credits? I could continue with logic issues, but I'm not.

I enjoyed the movie for what it was. It had great action, some good comedy, decent acting, and fun fanfare. I think it's a good addition to the series. Just don't go in with super high expectations or the need for realism. Take it for what it's meant to be and you'll enjoy it. For the record, the following score was really difficult to give. I wanted to give it higher (particularly for one of the ending revelations being pretty cool), but something was holding me back. Very enjoyable, though.

Photobucket
I Am McLovin!

5.22.2009

LKMYNTS: Re-Cycle.

Man, I haven't done a Little Known Movies You Need To See in a long time. Anywho, I wasn't sure what exactly I was getting into when I started this movie. It had a synopsis similar to In The Mouth Of Madness and was directed by the typically hit-or-miss Pang Brothers. And even after the film started, I wasn't sure what I was getting into. I started it late last night and had to stop it about 30 minutes or so in because I was falling asleep (because of the time, not the movie), and I finished it this morning. And damn did I turn it off at the wrong (or right?) time last night.

The movie is about romance novelist Ting-Yin (Angelica Lee). After finishing a trilogy of best-selling romances, Ting-Yin wants to try her hand at horror/supernatural with her next book, Re-Cycle. But a mix of writer's block and her ex-boyfriend returning with news that he's getting a divorce with the woman he left her for originally keep her from really getting far with the book. But then, slowly, freaky things start happening to Ting-Yin as she comes to realize that the things she's writing, but then tossing away are coming back to haunt her. And soon she ends up in a completely different dimension full of "the abandoned" and needs to find a way home before this dimension destroys her completely. So she gets the help of a little girl and an old man to help her find her way to "the Transit," where she'll find her way home.

If you do research on this movie, one of the things you'll notice being said repeatedly is how it's so similar to 'such-and-such' movie/book. And that's true. But I also think that's one of the film's many brilliances. Whether intentional or not, the fact that the movie does feel so similar to other stories just ties in with the overall theme of abandoned (or 'recycled') things. Just in my personal opinion, and I've seen others agree, I felt the movie was most like the following: In The Mouth Of Madness, Silent Hill, Alice in Wonderland, MirrorMask, Dante's Inferno/What Dreams May Come (they're close enough to lump together), and Miyazaki's Spirited Away. Hell, I even found similarities to one of my own books, though I'm relatively sure they didn't take ideas from that.

Now I'm sure you're thinking "that's an odd mix of things." Well, it is. But it's because the movie is set up as one thing, but then twists into something else not too long after. The beginning starts off slow, building up as a supernatural horror movie. But around that 30/35 minute mark (right after I first turned it off to go to sleep), it changes completely. It still has some horror/scary elements, but it's more of a dark fantasy than a horror film. Ting-Yin's journey through the world of the abandoned is harrowing, scary, imaginative, and beautiful all at the same time. I loved all the little places she visits, but one of my favorite was like a live-action version of a scene from Spirited Away (though I'm sure it's from an Asian mythology). The little girl must guide Ting-Yin over a bridge riddled with the walking dead/spirits/abandoned/whatever, and Ting-Yin has to hold her breath as they slowly make their way across, or else she'll be noticed as an outsider... not a good thing.

Besides its obvious imagination, one of the best things about the movie is its beauty. And this movie is beautiful (in more ways than one). Visually, this film is utterly stunning. There are the more obvious stunning visuals that most will pick up on, but there's little nuances that the cinematically trained eye might pick up, as well. I just couldn't go on more about the film's visuals. Honestly, I was mostly afraid about the visuals (I saw a screencap on the back of the DVD box in the store... and out of context, it didn't strike me as stunning. In the film, however...). But, as I've said, they were amazing.

I can't say everything is positive about the film, though. It does have a few downsides. For instance, the first half of the movie is a bit slow and confusing. Even after Ting-Yin gets to the parallel world, it takes her a while before she meets anybody to tell her what's going on. So it's just kind of "throw in a scene, have a scare, she gets chased." Rinse, repeat. Though that really only goes on for about 10-15 minutes, I'd say. And it really only gets monotonous right before it stops doing it, so that's good. And although it does this, I still wished that there would have been more time spent in the fantasy world. I can't say the movie is poorly paced, but I would have liked it to have a few more 'down time' spots with some character/relationship building between Ting-Yin and the little girl. Instead, it kinda goes from major scene to major scene with maybe one brief interlude. Because as is, the ending of the film is the only place that really makes the characters a little more well-rounded. Otherwise, they're relatively flat.

Another issue for some people, though not me, is that the movie might become a bit too preachy. I don't want to say on what subject, because I think it should be a surprise, but I've seen plenty of things written about the film and how it's too preachy or whatever. Honestly, I don't think it is. I feel that the movie handled the subject very well, and people who get offended by it are too tightly wound to begin with. Don't get me wrong, it is a bit shocking at first, but it makes perfect sense in the realm of the story.

And even if you don't like that, how can you not love the ending? I don't want to touch on the ending too much, because I don't want to spoil anything, but I felt the ending was equally brilliant and ambiguous, leaving things up to interpretation.

Overall, the film isn't perfect (it could have used a bit better character development), but the Pang Brothers make a visual and atmospheric masterpiece. There really isn't that much of a story, but the film is more of an allegory, and allegories don't need to have fully coherent stories to be brilliant. I was going to give a literary example here, but then I realized that the example I was going to use deals with the exact same issue as the film, so any of you who knew the story could instantly pick up on the issue... I try to avoid major spoilers (for good films) at all costs. I really recommend the film.

Photobucket
A Keanu 'Whoa'

5.20.2009

DVD Review: Zack And Miri Make A Porno.

I often find myself looking at other movie blogs to see how they feel about certain movies. I look because most blogs I frequent have similar tastes as myself so I have a good idea of what I'll think of a movie. But there are certain types of movies I can't do that with, because I usually have a varying opinion. Kevin Smith films are one of those. So when Zack And Miri Make A Porno only got lukewarm reviews (at best) not only from movie blogs I frequent, but from many reviewers in general, I decided to ignore all of them (for instance, I happen to like Jersey Girl. I don't care what you naysayers think). As such, Zack and Miri was placed on my Netflix queue for roughly 3 months in a status of "Very Long Wait." Well, the movie finally came, and I've finally see it. So now I'm objecting you to my opinion.

Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) have been best friends since first grade, and they even live together now as adults. They work together at a small coffee shop with Delaney (Craig Robinson), who constantly talks negatively about his wife (Tisha Campbell-Martin). But the coffee shop job isn't giving them enough money for rent or utilities, and they lose everything. But during a 10-year class reunion, they meet up with Miri's high school crush Bobby (Brandon Routh) and his new "friend," Brandon St. Randy (Justin Long)... who just happen to work in the porn industry. This inevitably leads to the idea of how to pay off their bills--make and sell a porno. So they get a cast and crew, including Lester (Jason Mewes), Deacon (Jeff Anderson), Bubbles (Traci Lords), Stacey (Katie Morgan), and Barry (Ricky Mabe). So now all Zack and Miri have to contend with are their sudden jealous streaks and hidden feelings for each other as they realize they must not only have sex with each other, but other people, as well.

Like any Kevin Smith movie (or porno), this is a movie to watch without your family and in your room in the middle of the night... which I did. What does that have to do with anything? Well, I laughed. A lot. Without the laughter of an audience to spark it (as is sometimes the case when watching something with others). So to me, that makes this movie genuinely funny. Though I do believe it went a little far at times, even for Kevin Smith (for instance, the occurence that is referenced by this line: "She frosted me like a fucking cake!"). One of my favorite jokes, though, was a LOST reference ("They're on the island, they're off the island... who the fuck can follow that show?" "I think they're in Hell!" "Shut up.").

As you might have noticed just from two quotes, there is quite a bit of adult language. Though if you know anything about Kevin Smith, you'd know this already. That, and what'd you expect from an R-Rated movie with "Porno" in the title? And it easily rivals the Clerks films (if not surpasses them) on sex talk/involvement. So like I said, this probably isn't a movie to watch with your mother. Do I think this is a bad thing, though? No. I think there's a limit on raunchy and too raunchy, and this movie definitely touches at that limit, but it doesn't surpass it.

The acting, primarily Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks, was very well done. I thought they were both heartfelt and had a genuine friendship. And you know, I did a post a while back about RomComs and how they always seem to blame the male and never the female. Amazingly, I think this is about as close as I've seen where it ends up moreso the female's fault than the male's (though they still find a way to turn it around on the male, at least partially). But that was a good turn-around.

Outside the two leads though, the next biggest character is Delaney, played by Craig Robinson, and he does a well enough job with his character. He's fun and likeable. The best character, though, had to be Justin Long's Brandon St. Randy, though he had way too little screen time. He's in basically one scene of the film, but it's a really good one. It's like Anti-Justin Long... he looked exactly the same as usual, but I still hardly recognized him because of how he acted the character. And it was hilarious. Jason Mewes and Jeff Anderson were on form, as well, though you can't help but like those guys (particularly Anderson).

However, if the movie did have one major downfall, I felt it was in these secondary characters (this doesn't include Craig Robinson). They're awfully flat and don't have any kind of major importance except to move the plot along. It's just like... they're there and that's it. I would have liked to see more depth with these characters than was given (which wouldn't be hard, as it was already next to none).

Overall, though, I thoroughly enjoyed the film. It was funny and it had heart. Yeah, it was basically like shoving Kevin Smith and Judd Apatow together, but who wouldn't want to see that? They're both very talented men with similar styles (raunch with heart), and they work. So yeah, I again disagree with a lot of those 'lukewarm' reviews. Kevin Smith remains on my list of 'films I can't look to others for opinions on'. If you haven't seen it already, I recommend it... just make sure your parents/kids/little siblings aren't around when you watch it.

Photobucket
A Keanu 'Whoa'


5.19.2009

DVD Review: The Messenger: The Story Of Joan Of Arc.

I am a major Luc Besson fan. I love almost anything he touches (directs, writes, produces... though mostly directs). As such, there are few films that he's made/directed that I haven't yet seen. The Messenger was one of them, and I'd been wanting to see it for years now, but never getting around to doing so. And now that I have... well, I wish I could take it back.

Joan (Milla Jovovich) is a peasant girl who, as a child, saw her village (and some of her family) destroyed. Now about 17, she believes God has chosen her as a messenger to speak with the rightful king of France (John Malkovich) and lead his army to victory against the British to reclaim French territory. And if you know the story of Joan of Arc, you know it isn't exactly a comedy.

And that's the biggest fuck up (pardon my French... and my bad puns) of the film. The tone is just terrible. During even the most serious of moments were strewn with most likely unintentional comedy that ruined most of the scenes. And then there were the scenes with intentional comedy that mostly didn't work. Tonally, the film was an utter mess.

And that leads in to how we feel about Joan (whose name sounds more like John through the film). Among other things, which I'll get to momentarily, Joan is portrayed as a flat-out lunatic. I know that in history, the controversy is that either Joan was really having visions and hearing God's message... or she was shizophrenic and just a strongheaded crazy lady. Besson really goes with the latter, and (again, bad pun coming) that really ruins what should have been the message of the film. Joan is so obviously insane that she's more of a joke than a martyr. By the time the movie ends and you see the title about how she was eventually canonized as a saint, it feels more like a mockery ("This crazy-ass chick is a saint?"). It was just a weird juxtaposition of information. It would be like having a movie that shows the true nature of Bin Laden and how he believes God told him to kill the infidels and take back his rightful land or something. But then he's arguing with himself the majority of the time, twitching... and then the movie ends with him dying in a cave... it fades to black... and you see "He was later canonized." The movie was supposed to be this ultimate tragedy, and it wasn't.

But Joan had other issues, and I'm not sure if I should put the blame on the acting or directing (as much as I'd hate to). When you first see Milla-Joan, she's this meek young woman who is near tears the entire time. Then there's this huge time lapse with no montage or training sessions or anything, and you see her on a war horse with a sword, and her personality has completely shifted. She's become this strongheaded, arrogant, crazy woman. And she got on my freakin' nerves. Seriously, there's a scene about halfway into the movie where she gets shot by an arrow. I know she's not gonna die because, well, there's still half a movie left and I know my history. But when she got shot, I couldn't help but do a mental cheer and wish that she would. Either the way Milla played her or the way Besson directed her was horrible.

Not to mention, with only a few exceptions, the casting of the film was awful. I've already discussed Milla. I like Malkovich, but a French king with an American accent surrounded by other people with accents? Why not just pick a French person? Or at least have Malkovich attempt an accent. And that was a big issue for most of the cast. It was a weird mix of nationalities (that should have been one nationality), and they didn't even attempt to make it more authentic. And then, of course, there's Dustin Hoffman, who I didn't realize was in the movie. So when I saw him near the end, I was like "what the hell? Dustin Hoffman?" He acted his part very well, but the character was too vague. It's listed as her conscience, but you don't know if it's that or Jesus/God or Satan or who. And his character brings in some of that awkward comedy (the 'where did the sword come from' scene... funny, but out of place).

For editing, it was hard to tell a lot of what was going on sometimes. One minute Joan would be one place, the next she'd be in a completely other place with things moving like a dream sequence. But then it turns out that it wasn't a dream sequence, and you're left confused. Though that could be an issue of scripting, as well. And I do think the script had some issues.

Overall, the movie is just a mess. My opinions aren't completely negative. There was some good cinematography (at least at the beginning) and some good (although miscast) acting. The fight scenes were decent, though incredibly fake-looking when it came to the blood or gore. It got overly cartoonish and sometimes slapstick at times, which just goes back to the tone. But now I'm going back to the negative during my positive section. I know this movie has a lot of lovers, especially at places like imdb. But although I have my deep love of Besson's films, and I'll still continue to see any others he puts out, I have to say I was highly disappointed in this one, and it took quite a bit not to just turn it off.

Photobucket
The Zed Word

5.16.2009

Short Review: Southland Tales.

Premise: Who the hell knows?

Starring: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seann William Scott, Justin Timberlake, (that guy) Curtis Armstrong, Nora Dunn, (that gal) Beth Grant, Christopher Lambert, John Larroquette, Bai Ling, Jon Lovitz, Mandy Moore, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Miranda Richardson, Wallace Shawn, Zelda Rubinstein, Kevin Smith, Eli Roth, Janeane Garofalo... who the hell isn't in this damn movie?

My Reaction: I don't think I've ever seen a movie that I've felt is simultaneously crap and genius... until now. The story is convoluted and hardly makes a lick of sense. The acting is (purposefully?) cheesy and horrible. Every 5 seconds you see a new actor or actress that you recognize, cameo or not. But this is also a movie that made me both want to turn it off and keep watching with endless intrigue (that, and I was waiting for Wallace Shawn to go "Inconceivable!" or "never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!"). I never knew what was going on, but I never really felt lost. I guess because I'm decently versed in the Book of Revelation, so I was sitting there trying to figure out who was supposed to represent who the whole time (and I didn't know this was an allegory prior to watching, either... if you can call it that). Not to mention the movie was full of bible references, literary references, and musical references. By the time it got to the Zeppelin scenes at the end, I just couldn't look away. The movie is like a Jackson Pollock painting. It's a total mess and is utter crap... but deep down inside, you know it's a work of freakin' genius.

Photobucket
WTF

5.15.2009

DVD Review: Martyrs.

When the movie begins with an introduction from the director telling you to drop any preconceived notions of what you think this film could be... and then he apologizes to you for what you're about to watch (after admitted he sometimes hates himself for making it, and sometimes feels very proud of himself for making it)... you know you're in for something. Well... something is, indeed, what you get.

15 years after Lucie (Mylene Jampanoi) escapes a torturous imprisonment, she garners the aid of her friend, Anna (Morjana Alaoui), to find the people who did it and get her revenge. But what happens next isn't quite what either of them (especially Anna) had in mind.

What seems like a very simplistic plot turns out to be much more than that. And just like the director says, this is really an experience different from many other horror films. Yet at the same time, it's somewhat similar. Like most recent torture porn, the movie is unrelenting in its blood and gore. Unlike recent torture porn, however, the movie's story takes a deeper turn.

The first half of the movie and the second half of the movie are like two separate entities. Though, unlike the recently reviewed Tokyo Zombie, the two halves mesh better together (mostly because the second half attempts to be an explanation for the first half). The first half of the movie, to me, is the better half. It's more of a thriller and a mystery (with copious amounts of blood). And, mostly, it leaves you going "what the hell is going on?" I really had no idea where the movie was going to take me next... and I enjoyed that rare experience.

But then the second half starts up, and this is more where the torture porn tag kicks in. In an attempt not to spoil anything (and it's really hard to say anything about this film without spoiling something), it's a lot of... well... torture. But it's the same thing over and over again. For roughly 30+ minutes. It gets kinda boring, actually. It does show an evolution of character, but it's like watching Evey's torture scenes from V For Vendetta without all the intertwined backstory and interviewing about V's whereabouts (including the head shaving). There's no dialogue, no real talking whatsoever... it's just the same torturous moments over and over again in short fade-in/fade-out scenes.

To use a metaphor, this movie is like a research paper. Before you get all boggled, let me explain. In a research paper, you must have a thesis statement... a purpose to the paper. And with this thesis statement, there needs to be a declaration of "So What?" Why am I reading/writing this? What's the point? Why should I or anybody else care? Now this thesis, along with the "so what," usually comes near the beginning of the paper. Sometimes the "so what" is extended through with the thesis and put around the middle. The rarest is to put it all at the end, because you have to be a pretty damn good writer to pull that off--you have to be able to write a paper that makes sense and works without a clear statement of what the hell your point is until the end.

This is what this movie attempted to do: it tried to not only put the "thesis" in the middle of the film, but also kept the "so what?" until the very end. And that specific combination is very dangerous, because you don't even get an idea of what you're dealing with until you've given your full attention for at least 45 minutes, and then you don't get any kind of point explanation until it's done and overwith. But by that point, you're probably too flabbergasted or confused or disinterested to even care. So did this film actually pull it off? Yes and no. It lost me through almost the entire second half of the film, which isn't good. However, the explanation, while not a major enough twist to change my thoughts completely, was decent enough for me to go "Oh, alrighty then."

So how was the movie otherwise? I can only discuss acting in the first half, in which it was pretty good. The blood was realistic, as well. The cinematography and camera use was done quite nicely. There were some pretty good shots and angles. And, dare I say, a few creepy moments. The movie wasn't really scary, though. It's just somewhat uncomfortable. Is it the most disturbing and bloody film I've ever seen (as it's proclaimed to be)? No. But it is infinitely more disturbing than the last movie that attempted to take that title (Hostel, which was just stupid).

Would I recommend it? If you're a horror fan or a gorehound, sure. I'd say at least give it one watch. Though if you don't like horror or gore, stay away. Overall, it has a decent story--nothing groundbreaking, but decent. I just wish the second half would have taken a different path (instead of going a Hostel-esque route).

Photobucket
I Am McLovin!


Welcome To The New!

Welcome to the new and improved Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob! This took quite a bit of work, but I think it was worth it. Everything is much neater now, more customized, and much more pleasant to look at.

Let me give you a quick tour/explanation of the new digs:

Home: This section will be for all the articles, site updates, P.E.S.T., DVDs or Death, etc. Basically anything that isn’t a straight-up movie review, book review, or TV review will be posted here. Also, if you’re following this on your RSS Feed (or something similar), you won’t need to follow the other pages to see if I update. Any time I update with a movie review or whatnot, I’ll post an update on the home page section to announce the new review/post. That way, you can keep your RSS Feed nice and tidy while still knowing exactly when I update everything.

Movies: This is the section that will have all my movie reviews (theater reviews, DVD Reviews, 2 In 1, Short Reviews, etc.). Though there will be no movie-related articles in this section… like I said, those will be going on the home page. This is strictly for reviews.

TV Shows: This is the section that will have all my TV show reviews.

Books: Of course, this is the section that will have all my book reviews.

It’s all pretty self-explanatory. There are a few exceptions to these rules, though. For instance, I have some “Thoughts On” that are just basic discussions on film. Though I had at least one “Thoughts On” that acted as both discussion and review. The latter went into the “Movies” section, while the former went into the “Home” section. Also, there are some “Page-to-Film” comparisons or some “spectacular bam wow” posts that span two sections for obvious reasons. But that’s nothing y’all really have to worry about.

You’ll also notice in all three ‘review’ sections, the right side-bar includes a drop-down menu that has all respective reviews in alphabetical order, making for a neat, tidy way to find what you’re looking for.

You also might see some funky formatting with some reviews/posts, but most of those were already there with the old layout, though some are new. I’m just too lazy to go and bother with all 300+ of them, if you know what I mean. They aren’t that bad.

Also, I accidentally deleted one post… ironically, it was the first ever post to give me a ton of views: the infamous “10 years, 10 screenplays” post (that was actually 11 years, 11 screenplays, because I can’t count). But oh well.

So anyway, I think that’s everything! I hope y’all enjoy it. I thought about giving each section (movies/TV/books) its own rating system, but I don’t rate TV/books all that much… and I didn’t want to make it too confusing/convoluted. Though I did edit a few of the meanings for each of my normal ratings. So… yeah. There y’all go!

Thoughts?


5.14.2009

Changes, They Are A-Comin'...

UPDATE: I've gotten the majority of the setup ready to go, so I'm gonna start the main page changes. You might see some posts, widgets, etc. disappear, but everything should be up and going within the hour.

I'm currently working on a massive overhaul of R2D2. I'm gonna drive myself crazy working on it, getting everything moved and set up and formatted properly. But everything should hopefully be up and functional sometime this weekend. Trust me, you'll see the difference...

Oh yes...

Short Review: Fletch.

Premise: Irwin "Fletch" Fletcher is an investigative reporter who stumbles across a much bigger story than expected when a rich man asks Fletch to kill him.

Starring: Chevy Chase, Tim Matheson, George Wendt, and Geena Davis.

My Reaction: I was worried during the first 3-4 minutes after the opening credits, as it came off as incredibly bad acting... but then it got better. The script is fun and witty. I imagine it takes many viewings to really get everything, as the character of Fletch is so fast with his wit that it's hard to keep up sometimes. The movie is genuinely funny and entertaining. I also enjoyed the music, as it was straight 80s. But it fit. It didn't feel dated to me or anything. The story, at least upon initial viewing, is slightly convoluted with all the intricacies of the crime. It took me a few minutes to really figure out how everything was linked together. Though the ending does well enough explaining it. Not too much to say about it. I didn't care too much for the voice-over, though it kinda pays off with the last line. But it's a fun little film, and I'd like to see it again purely for Fletch's quick wit and all the random one-liners. As a side-note, Chevy Chase reminded me heavily of Tim Blake Nelson during the airplane mechanic scene. I think that's all I have to say.

Photobucket
A Keanu 'Whoa'

(P.S. I had a really hard time choosing between this rating and 'McLovin'. I decided to go with this one because I did think it was awesome).

5.13.2009

TV Review: The Venture Bros. - Season Two.

Warning: Spoilers (for last season and partially this season) follow.

------------


Season Two picks up almost right where Season One left off. Dr. Orpheus feels regret for being responsible for the deaths of Dean and Hank, while Dr. Rusty Venture and Brock don’t seem all that fretful. Turns out it’s because Dean and Hank have died numerous times before, and they have clones at the ready. Meanwhile, The Monarch is still in prison while Dr. Girlfriend is with Phantom Limb. And Jonas Venture, Dr. Venture’s brother that had been living inside of him his whole life until recently, is proving himself more successful than his brother, much to Rusty’s chagrin.


This season is much more coherent than the first. The main plot is easier to see, and every episode doesn’t always seem to be completely random and disconnected. Also, a lot of the random episodes that never really came back in any important fashion in the last season come back in said important fashion in this season. This season really focuses on everybody trying to set everything right again and get back to normal. The Monarch must escape prison and reclaim Dr. Girlfriend from Phantom Limb, while the Venture family (including Brock) gets back to their normal routine.


What I liked about this season was its focus on some of the smaller characters, such as Dr. Orpheus, Billy Quizboy, Pete White, and Henchmen 21 and 24. There were also more hints at Brock’s past, including his relationship with Russian femme fatale, Molotov Cocktease. Besides the obvious love of Dr. Orpheus, I particularly liked the Henchmen 21 and 24 stuff, as they are a great comedy duo.


As usual, there’s not a whole lot to say. This season really was vastly better than the previous (not to say that the previous was bad… I just enjoyed this one a lot more). And I really think that had to do with it being clearer what the creators were aiming for and having that cohesion. The uber-violence from Brock and the sex jokes are still there in all its glory, as well. And one thing I’m noticing between this season and last is that everything prior to the finale episode(s) for each respective season, it’s a bit of randomness here and there. But then it gets to the finale, and everything really clicks together, suddenly making all the randomness make sense. Not to mention the finales thus far have kicked ass. I loved season one’s, but this season’s two-parter was epic in its own right.


There was really only one episode I didn't care for, which was the episode right before the two-part finale (the one with the Scooby Doo parody). I thought it was kinda boring and lame.


Anyway, I still recommend the show. And if you at least marginally enjoyed the first season, I really recommend the second if you haven’t already seen it, because you’ll probably (like me) enjoy it that much more.

5.09.2009

TV Review: The Venture Bros. - Season One.

After immense and nearly endless hype from one of my friends/co-workers, I finally got around to watching this. Well, ironically, I got season one from another friend/co-worker who the aforementioned friend/co-worker got to watch it first (and then who bought the seasons herself). But then the first friend also lent me season two, which I’ll be reviewing at a later time (once, you know, I actually watch it). Long story short, and as many people know, sometimes hype can kill something for you.


I’m not saying I disliked it (not at all). I found it rather enjoyable. But let me split it up like this: the first season is split into two discs. The first disc has the first 8 episodes, and the second disc has the last 5 for the season. While I found the first 8 seasons mostly entertaining, I didn’t do much more than give a rare chuckle. However, the last 5 episodes, I was laughing out loud through quite a bit of each episode.


For those that don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, let me explain. The Venture Bros. is a rip on old action/adventure cartoons such as Johnny Quest. Dr. Venture is a bald super-genius/scientist with daddy issues. Dean and Hank Venture are his straight-laced and incredibly dimwitted sons. And then there’s Brock Samson, their hulk of a bodyguard, a man fueled by sex and violence. But you can’t have a superhero-esque adventure team without super-villain arch-nemeses… at least self-proclaimed arch-nemeses… such as The Monarch, a rather pathetic villain with butterfly themes. And The Monarch’s sexy girlfriend with a man-ish voice… Dr. Girlfriend. There’s a whole slew of other characters, as well, such as the Venture’s next door neighbor Dr. Orpheus, a necromancer/magician with a taste for histrionics… as well as his goth daughter Triana, whom Dean has a major crush on.


There’s not really a main story to the show. It’s basically their random adventures that are usually more stupid occurrences that are made out to be bigger than they really are… with the rare event that something dumb somebody does makes it worse than it should have been in the first place. There are things that carry over from episode to episode, such as Dean’s building crush on Triana or The Monarch’s relationship with Dr. Girlfriend.


As I said earlier, the first 8 or so episodes are entertaining, but they didn’t have me in hysterics. But I started episode 9, and was laughing within the first, pre-credits scene. And I’ve been told season 2 is funnier, so that makes me happy. The stories often parody different genres or shows. There have been appearances from the 6 Million Dollar Nan to Fantastic Four rip-offs and more.


But the show is really more about the characters than the story. My personal favorites are Brock Samson and Dr. Orpheus (I can’t see how anybody could hate Dr. Orpheus). Both characters are just so over-the-top in what they do. Brock’s tendencies toward violence are both fun and funny (I personally love the scene at the opening of episode 9 where a plane crashes immediately overhead as he’s washing his car. A guy comes running at him in flames, screaming, and without even looking, Brock punches the guy out and turns the hose onto the guy). It also helps that he’s voiced by the same guy who voices Joe in Family Guy, but in a much more subtle way than he does with Joe. And Dr. Orpheus… well, it’s hard to explain him. He’s just very theatrical in everything he does. Dean and Hank are starting to grow on me though. There needs to be a lot more from H.E.L.P.eR., though, because he’s hardly in show, and mostly only for plot point reasons.


There’s not a whole hell of a lot to say about this first season. I haven’t been sold on the “best cartoon series ever to grace the planet” as so many people seem to dub it (just check IMDb with its currently 9.5 rating). But I’ve been promised that season two is especially hilarious, so I’m looking forward to it (especially if it’s anything like the last 5 episodes of season one). Would I recommend it? Sure. It’s not bad at all. You can catch it on Adult Swim on late-night Cartoon Network, or just rent it or borrow it or something like I did. It’s wacky, funny, and action-packed (usually, anyway). And that season one finale was freakin’ epic. I don’t want to ruin it, but let’s just say… Brock, a flaming car, and a giant robot. And of course John Woo doves. That about says it all, really…

5.08.2009

STAR TREK.

This will probably be the shortest movie review for a movie in theater I've ever done. To start off, I am not nor have I ever been a fan of Star Trek. Not for any negative reasons... I just never got into any of the shows or movies. I knew a few things about it, of course, but not a hell of a whole lot.

That being said, this movie was flippin' brilliant. The action was great. The music was epic. The visuals were stunning (no pun intended). The acting was as expected. Karl Urban had the best character in the movie (and according to my mother, who was a Trek fan via her father, he was dead-on with the original). The movie was exciting, suspenseful, and hilarious. I might even go see it again (this time in Digital), and I'm definitely going to get it on DVD. I can only account for fans through the opinions of my mother, but I would wager that this is a movie for fans and non-fans alike. Unless you're an uber-purist... then I've heard you might not like it a whole lot. But otherwise, you definitely need to see this.

If you want any criticisms against this, I'd give it three: First, they actually managed to give Anton Yelchin and even more questionable voice (I wouldn't say annoying, though, because he wasn't). Second, Simon Pegg doesn't come in until nearly the end (and I love me some Simon Pegg). And finally, there's a bit at the very end where....

SPOILER


Somehow Nemoy Spock is suddenly at their base when they had left him on the ice planet... doing exactly what he had previously and specifically told Kirk not to do. I know there's the whole speech about it, but still... it seemed counter-productive.


END SPOILER

But otherwise, it has become one of my favorite sci-fi films. I know this is a lousy review of nearly endless praise, but I'm not sure what else I could possibly say about the film.

Photobucket
Royale With Cheese

5.06.2009

Thoughts On Deadpool Spin-off.

Coat-tailing on the announcement that there is going to be a Deadpool spin-off, I wanted to do a post on exactly how this movie could work. The biggest concern is that, although they did him well as Wade at the beginning of Wolverine, they nearly destroyed the character as Deadpool toward the end, making him basically nothing like the original character. However, a strict reboot would be difficult, considering that Deadpool's origins do correlate with those of Wolverine, seeing they were both involved with the Weapon X program and that Deadpool does actually receive Wolverine's healing ability.

So in order to give him his own movie, I feel the following list is probably the only way it could be done well (key word there is 'well'):

1) Do a reboot, but use footage from Wolverine as they work together in the Weapon X program.
2) Do a reboot, but in the vein of The Incredible Hulk, where it's not exactly an origin story, but still incorporates the origin in brief flashbacks and discussions.
3) Do a reboot and bring in Hugh Jackman as a cameo.
4) Do a reboot... and since Deadpool is known for breaking the fourth wall anyway, have him talk to the audience at the very beginning about how they screwed him up at the end of Wolverine and they're just changing a few things around to get him right.
5) Mix number 4 with any of the others (in fact, a mix of numbers 2 and 4 might be the absolute best decision).
6) Make the movie at least 2 hours long... almost no superhero movie has ever been done well that isn't at least 2 hours long.
7) Give the property rights to anybody else but FOX (though this removes option 1).

Thoughts? Other suggestions?

5.05.2009

Brief Note: Deadpool Is GO!

Hell yeah! I know I rarely do more than one post in a day, but I felt this was warranted. I just read that they just gave the greenlight to a Deadpool spinoff with Ryan Reynolds reprising the role. Again I say to you, hells to the yes.

TV Review: Dragonball Z - Season Two.

This probably won't be an incredibly long review. Last time, on Dragonball Z... well, read here.

So Goku is still healing up from the battle with Vegeta (even though he keeps sneaking out for extra practice). Gohan, Krillin, and Bulma are still headed for Planet Namek to use the Namekian Dragonballs to wish back everybody that died against Vegeta and Nappa. But once they finally get there (after being sidetracked once or twice), they discover they're not alone. Not only is Vegeta searching for the Namekian Dragonballs, but his old boss, the insanely powerful Frieza is looking for them, as well. Namek is being destroyed one village at a time, and Frieza already has five of the balls. But he can't be bothered with doing anything himself. Instead, he sends out all of his little henchmen to do all the hardwork for him.

And that's where this little 'season' suffers the most. In fact, I never really saw this as a season in and of itself. This season and the following season all deal with Namek and Frieza, so it's easier to lump them all together as one season. However, as they are separated, I guess I'm gonna review them as such.

Although this season starts out slow, similar to the previous, it still starts out much more exciting. They get to the action faster, and it never really slows down. It has its peaks and dips, but it's still relatively non-stop. Though if it weren't for the fact that important characters and information are set up within this season, I'd categorize it mostly as filler. It's just Frieza's henchmen sent off to do his dirty work. First his right-hand men that were there with him to begin with, but then, after they fail, he sends for the powerful Ginyu Force.

And there's the next dip in the season. You only have to worry for a couple episodes about anybody being in any real danger before Goku shows up, and then he proceeds to kick ass as usual. But on top of that, the Ginyu force is ridiculous. They're almost too silly and over-the-top for the show, and that's saying a lot. But I guess you could say, although Frieza is still the 'big bad' of the whole, the Ginyu Force is the 'big bad' of the season.

But, as I said, a lot of important stuff (and people) is set up in this season, so it's not exactly easy to get rid of. Though I think it could have been shrunk down considerably. If you cut out some scenes that just show everybody staring at each other not doing anything, cut down on the pointless Bulma scenes, along with entire episodes toward the beginning of the season (was the accidental landing on the alien planet really necessary?), you could probably cut this season down by at least a third.

Though good stuff does start coming from this. Vegeta begins his slow turn to the side of good by being forced to work with the heroes. Gohan also starts to become even more powerful still. Oh, and the voice acting and scripting has gotten better considerably from the first season. I'd say it still has a small bit to go, but I am aware that it does get better as it goes along anyway, so I'm not too worried about that.

Really, I don't have a hell of a lot to talk about with this season. It's not particularly stand-out by any means. It has good action, of course, but the Ginyu are too stupid to take seriously as villains. However, I know the next season is gonna be so much better. It's almost non-stop action (shouldn't be slow starting as we basically left off halfway through the story-arch), and Frieza is a real villain to worry about. Not to mention we'll finally have Super Saiyan Goku. So I'll leave it there for now. We'll see what I think about the next season, next time... on Dragonball Z!

(Okay, I know... cheesy).

5.03.2009

Manic Movie Madness Spectacular Bam Wow!

Because I waited too long after seeing most of these movies to write a review, I really can't remember many details about them (or I just don't have much to say about them in the first place). Therefore, I'm gonna get them all out of the way all together as... Manic Movie Madness Spectacular Bam Wow!


The Title: Daywatch.

The Skinny: Talking about the sequel to Nightwatch (the Russian film, not the Ewan McGregor film). It was quite the mind trip, and I loved what they did with the subtitles. The action was fun and imaginative. But outside that, much like the first, it was confusing and not very memorable.

The Score:
Photobucket
Stop Saying Okay! Okay.



The Title: How To Lose Friends & Alienate People.

The Skinny: My love of Simon Pegg seems to have some limits. He did brilliantly well in this role, but the movie itself just wasn't all that and a bag of chips... or something. It's a movie about a dispisable guy. Well... what do you think reactions are gonna be? I didn't hate it. I just didn't love it.

The Score:
Photobucket
Stop Saying Okay! Okay.



The Title: Funny Games U.S.

The Skinny: I was incredibly torn on this movie. I wanted to like it, but... couldn't. It was just self-indulgant crap. And it has to be one of the most boring thrillers ever. The Strangers was better than this, and I hated that movie, too. Though I did like the random breaking of the fourth wall (oddly, those are the parts most people hate the most).

The Score:
Photobucket
The Zed Word



The Title: In The Mouth Of Madness.

The Skinny: Imagine if Stephen King had the rabid fan base of JK Rowling x2 (he has an enormous fan base, of course, but I wouldn't call them as fanatic as JKR's). And then imagine if John Carpenter made a movie about it and how all of King's books were real. This movie was just plain weird. Not necessarily scary. Just weird.

The Score:
Photobucket
Stop Saying Okay! Okay.



The Title: Death Note & Death Note II: The Last Name.

The Skinny: I put these two together mostly because they're just two parts of the same movie. Based on the incredibly popular and incredibly brilliant Japanese manga and anime, these give us a live action view of the story. An like most adaptations, they don't even come close to living up to the source material. They have their moments, of course, but the source material is just too intricate to fully capture it in a 2.5 hour movie (even split up into two 2.5 hour movies). I am glad that they removed the last part of the story after the 5 year jump or whatever, and just stopped it at the end of the Light vs. L battle of wits. And L was at least done well (he was even played by the same guy who did the voice in the Japanese anime). But the story was too crammed, too much was changed (and not all for the better), and the CGI was God-awful. Hopefully the American remake is better (ha... who am I kidding?).

The Score:
Photobucket
Stop Saying Okay! Okay.



The Title: Sex Drive.

The Skinny: Some really funny parts, particularly with Seth Green, but overall just a convoluted mix of stupid. It tried to do way too much and often didn't make sense. And the director's cut, though funny in idea, is even worse (it throws in randomly naked people just walking about, as well as obvious mixes of alternate takes and bloopers). This was a movie that really could have been whittled down into something a bit more coherant.

The Score:
Photobucket
Stop Saying Okay! Okay.



The Title: Graduation.

The Skinny: This was a great little heist film. I would have liked a little more character development with one or two of the characters, and perhaps a less cheesy ending. But overall, it was a really smart and fun heist movie.

The Score:
Photobucket
I Am McLovin!



The Title: Dancer in the Dark.

The Skinny: Ugh... how did this movie win all those awards again? The opening sequence should have warned me (3 minutes of weird crap). The majority of the first 40 minutes is boring as hell... because that's how long it takes to actually get to the musical aspect of this supposed musical. And when it finally did get to the music, I wanted to claw my eardrums out. The music and the "singing" was just terrible... not that you could understand half of what they were saying. I actually turned the movie off... and I never do that... about halfway through the third musical number (which is a little past the halfway mark of the film). I'll say that I appreciate what the movie was trying to do, and I appreciate the actual lyrics of the songs... but the delivery of everything was just an epic fail. But none of the characters are sympathetic except maybe Peter Stormare. It was just... ugh.

The Score:
Photobucket
She's Gone From Suck to Blow!



The Title: 16 Blocks.

The Skinny: Great thriller... but wtf was Mos Def thinking doing that voice throughout the movie? That was really the only major downfall of the film, I thought. You get used to it after a while, but I can imagine a lot of people would turn off the movie before waiting long enough to actually get used to it. So yeah, if you can get past Mos Def's nasal voice of doom, you'll have yourself a pretty good little thriller.

The Score:
Photobucket
I Am McLovin!

5.01.2009

X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE.

I want to start off by saying I don’t read the comics, but have seen all the movies and used to watch the old cartoon from time to time. That being said, during the movie, with a few scenes as exceptions, I was really enjoying it. But then, after it was over, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much I didn’t like about it.


James Logan (Hugh Jackman) and Victor Creed (Liev Schreiber) are mutant brothers with the ability to heal and grow things from their body. After many years of fighting wars, and with Victor getting more and more violent and unstable, they are recruited into a special program by William Stryker (Danny Huston). There, they work with other mutants such as John Wraith (Will.i.Am), Fred Dukes/The Blob (Kevin Durand), Chris Bradley/Bolt (Dominic Monaghan), David North/Agent Zero (Daniel Henney), and Wade Wilson/Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds). But Logan doesn’t like what they’re up to, so he quits and moves to Canada, where he falls in love with a school teacher, Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins). But when Victor shows up again, apparently killing all the old team, Logan seeks vengeance. And on the way, he seeks help from Remy LeBeau/Gambit (Taylor Kitsch).


As the movie starts off, we’re given some rather rough acting off of a pretty bad script from some child stars. This didn’t excite me whatsoever. But then it gives us a pretty good title sequence of wars-through-the-years that made up for it. Unfortunately, it starts to go a bit downhill for a while after that. The pacing of the film prior to Logan getting the adamantium is off. It’s too fast and choppy, never giving us enough time to really get to know or care about anybody.


But then he gets the adamantium skeleton and things start to get a bit better. That is, until they bring in Gambit, and I realize exactly what the biggest flaw of the film really is—much like the recent Dragonball movie, it’s just a checklist. They even toss in Scott Summers/Cyclops for what just seems to be for the hell of it (though there is a cool cameo at the end that comes from it, so that is a plus). Otherwise, we get introduced to some really fun characters—Wade Wilson and Gambit at the top of that list—and then get them yanked away again. After Ryan Reynolds’ brilliant introduction, he disappears from the movie almost completely (trying to avoid spoilers here).


Gambit has a fun introduction, as well, but he deserves a paragraph all to himself. You know how when they were going to include Gambit in X3? But then they cut him from the script because he wouldn’t have had much screen time and they wanted to give the character justice for the fans (well, that and they couldn’t get Sawyer from LOST)? Now just imagine how Gambit would have been like had he been in X3, and that’s basically what you get here. He has, maybe, a total of 10 minutes screen time in the entire film. Same goes with Ryan Reynolds.


In fact, it’s that way with the majority of the characters who aren’t Logan, Victor, Kayla, or Stryker (and Kayla is questionable, too, really). Outside of Logan, there is no character depth whatsoever. Everybody is basically a flat character, just there to move the story along and nothing else. And I think the next issue somewhat stems from that, which I didn’t really realize until after I’d thought about it for a while. But there’s really very little depth to the movie at all. It’s a basic revenge tale, and that’s it.


But this isn’t all negative. The characters of Logan and Victor are fun to watch, and Hugh and Liev play them well (though Hugh has had quite a bit of practice with his). In fact, outside a character here and there, the acting was pretty good. Not to mention the action was also great. And there’s enough humor and explosions to keep your mind away from the fact that this movie is mostly disappointing.


Then we come to the special effects. There actually were some questionable CGI moments. Maybe it was just me, but a few of the times when Logan shows his shiny new claws (primarily in the old couple’s bathroom), they looked incredibly fake. And then there’s The Blob. When Kevin Durand shows back up in the movie about halfway through (or so), he’s gotten, well… bigger. But instead of JUST wearing a fat suit, they apparently added some CGI fat. You heard me right… CGI fat. It was absolutely ridiculous. Every time I saw a graphically enhanced jiggle, I wanted to groan.


Overall, though, the movie actually was entertaining. It was by no means as horribly awful as the early reviews made it out to be, but it is rather disappointing. They could have done so much better with this. They needed to tweak the script a bit, maybe remove some characters and give more time for development. Maybe make the movie a bit longer to help out. And they could have at least tied up a few loose ends. What the hell happened with Victor? You just… don’t see him again. After a movie building up their relationship, you would expect even a little bit of closure before the memory loss (oh, and how did Victor lose his memory, anyway? That’s never explained, either). And if any of you have heard of the scene after the credits, don’t bother. It’s the lamest after-the-credits scene ever. Actually, there are two scenes after the credits roll. One is not long after the credits start, and the other is at the very end, after they’re over. It adds absolutely nothing to the story, doesn’t give a new twist… all it does is give us an insanely lame and cheesy line, and then a headache for sitting through the what-felt-like endless credits.


One thing is for sure, though. They need to have a Deadpool spin-off movie (or at least a Deadpool reboot, but keep Ryan Reynolds). I actually think I heard whispers about that anyway, so that’s cool. Anywho, it wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great, either. It was just alright. I gave it the following score because it was entertaining enough to make me not be too disappointed… but it still could have been better.


Photobucket
Stop Saying Okay! Okay.