6.28.2009

Unrelated To Movies: Finished TRILOGY!

It's done! I have officially finished my fairy tale trilogy (The Fairy Tale Chronicles). Now it needs some editing and revising (mostly the second and third). But anywho, here are some details.

Like the first two, the title for this third book is yet again based on a quote by Hans Christian Andersen: "'Just living is not enough,' said the butterfly. 'One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.'" (Title: Sunshine, Freedom, and a Little Flower).

Of the trilogy, it has the longest page count (which was an incredible surprise to me). But it's only the second longest via word count (in order of word count length from highest to smallest: book 1, book 3, book 2). But only by a little less than 1000 words, all of which could easily change in the editing/revision process. Out of all three books, this is the one I feel might need the most revisions/additions. We'll see.

So onto the plot summary. This is only a basic summary... I haven't really refined it yet, so it'll probably get updated in the future. First, actually, for those that don't know the first two... Here's the plot blurb of the first book, The Most Wonderful Fairy Tale (which is still ever changing in how I word it):

Charles Perrault, Hans Christian Andersen, and the Brothers Grimm have one thing in common: They wrote their fairy tales into the Book of Tales, brought them to life, gave them a happily ever after... and unwittingly began a war. The Book of Tales allows anything written within its pages to come to life, which makes it as precious as it is lethal. Now the centuries-old war for the Book is reaching its peak, and it’s up to five people to make sure the right side wins:

Alabama Turnkey (for the love of God, just call him Al) is 12 years old and unqualified for anything outside of lock picking… and he’s also the only known person capable of using the most dangerous artifact on Earth. His only problem—how could a misfit like himself be important? And then there’s Clover Lane, a happy-go-lucky girl whose luck is more useful than she thinks. She faces the true issues of what happens when a sunny disposition meets the shadowy side of life. Avalon is an Irishman who claims to be an apple tree… with a strong fear of germs. He’s always up for a laugh, but maybe only to cover the seriousness of his dark past. His partner, Calico, is your average young woman, except for the cat ears, tail, and heightened senses. She’ll do anything to defeat the enemy, but first needs to come face-to-face with her worst enemy: her stoic self. Finally, there’s Al’s sister, Georgia, who is dragged into the conflict with no clear purpose, only to form a bond with the one person who could change the face of the war forever.

Here's the plot blurb for the second, A Beautiful Melody:

It's been three years, and Georgia is finally returning to her hometown of Hunchly, Texas after a lengthy book tour for her bestselling hit, The Most Wonderful Fairy Tale. But when Gottingen Alchemists Marty and Fitz show up in Hunchly to arrest her, Georgia realizes that telling the truth, the complete truth, about the Book of Tales may have been a mistake. She's charged with violence against The Gottingen, and they have nearly two dozen witnesses to back it up. And what's worse, they say that Georgia had also declared she would use the mysterious and frightening Fancy War Doctrines.

But Georgia's never heard of the Fancy War Doctrines. Lina, the leader of The Gottingen, entrusted the Doctrines to a spy more than a hundred years ago, and no one but she knows who it is. With Lina in a coma as a result of the attack, Gottingen Agent Felicia will stop at nothing to make sure Georgia stays in her custody. Fortunately for Georgia, nothing can stop her brother Al from getting his sister out of custody. He teams up with Li and Leah, two renegade Alchemists, to save his sister. Once reunited, the brother and sister team revisit old friends and make new ones as they try to find the spy, find the Doctrines, prove Georgia's innocence, and stop whoever is framing her before it's too late.


And, finally, the plot blurb for the third:

One year has passed since the threat of the Fancy War Doctrines. Georgia Turnkey is on another tour for her newest book, while Al continues as an Agent-in-Training for The Gottingen. But the past is about to sneak up on them once again as an old enemy returns--and he's not alone. A dangerous man named Donovan, who often helped The Blackguard in centuries past, has returned to the spotlight... but for what reason?

Also on the rise is a mysterious and fatal illness attacking only a select few children. One of these sick children is 12-year-old Egyptian slum girl, Zahra Arena, a magical descendant able to animate the inanimate--including her teddy bear, Bes. While searching for a cure and a way to defeat their enemies once and for all, Al and Georgia will need all the help they can get. In this final chronicle, some friends will fall and some enemies will question their previous loyalties, but can everybody pull together one last time and finally achieve their happily ever after?

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

It's a much darker book than the two predecessors. There is quite a bit of death, including main characters, which really isn't as easy to do as you'd think. After I wrote the first *major* death of the book, I stopped writing for about 2 months. But also, practically every character introduced (with a few minor exceptions) since the beginning shows up at some point in the book.

That's really about it. It's exciting, having a finished trilogy. Now all I have to do is sell them :P .

6.27.2009

Short Review: Yes Man.

Premise: An overly negative and lonely man who says No to everything is talked into going to a seminar where he makes a pact to instead say Yes to every option given to him... or else bad things might happen. And if he does, his life will immediately turn around for the better.

Starring: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper, Rhys Darby, Danny Masterson, and Terence Stamp.

My Reaction: It's not laugh-out-loud comedy, but it's more of a feel-good comedy. Sometimes the situations make Jim Carrey act like... well... Jim Carrey, which is a bit over-the-top for the character. Otherwise, the acting was decent. The only major thing that bugged me was how every little thing he says "yes" to comes back with some higher purpose (for better or for worse). It turns the whole first half of the movie into a Chekov's Gun: "Oh, I wonder how that's gonna come back later?" Nevertheless, I liked the characters and the situations, and I even sympathized with Carrey's character a bit (though not in the aggressive ways he took with his "no"s). Though I particularly liked Rhys Darby's character of Norman, but probably only because he threw a Harry Potter costume party. Overall, an entertaining movie.

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I Am McLovin!

6.26.2009

TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN.

This is my personal opinion, but I think the haters are hating too much, but the lovers might also be loving a bit too much, as well. The sequel picks up two years after the last, and Sam (Shia LaBeouf) is going off to college. His girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) doesn't like being so far away, but Sam will find ways to keep in touch. And Sam's personal guardian transformer, Bumblebee, just feels left out. But after Sam finds a piece of the Allspark, he starts seeing a bunch of weird symbols that link to this... machine thingy... that there was this civil war over forever ago between the Autobot and Decepticon ancients. So The Fallen wants to use it, but can't because there's a Prime on the Earth? And... okay, I'm just gonna stop there.

I really have no f**king idea what the plot of this movie is. Hell, the characters even beg for a plot at one point in the movie (courtesy of John Turturro). Literally. He yells at one of the transformers to just lay out the plot already because nothing makes sense. And even afterwards, it still doesn't make sense. I don't know if it was just because I missed it or it was explained poorly, but I didn't even know what the big machine thing was supposed to do until the end of the film. And even after it's explained, I was still left with "um... okay... because that makes sense" thoughts. There are quite a few non-sensical things (or things with just poor reasonings behind them) in this movie. And it takes at least half the movie (and it's a long movie) before anything remotely plot-related occurs.

Much like the first film, entire scenes or even characters could have been removed completely. The "twins" were pretty unnecessary (and oftentimes annoying), and Leo, when not reminding me of a younger Kevin Corrigan, was just there for comic relief. However, despite his overall pointlessness, he was still an entertaining character, so he really didn't bother me at all.

Another place this movie "falls" is in character development. Outside Shia and Megan's characters, everybody else (including returning characters), are more like set pieces. Bumblebee and Optimus Prime are really the only returning Autobots that actually do anything for any portion of the movie (or are built-up, rather). The others are just kinda there. And the new ones hardly get enough screen time to matter (even those that do--the twins--you wish you had less of). Every character outside Shia and Megan's are so flat they'd almost be pointless if their story 'archs' (if you can call them that) weren't necessary to the 'plot' (if you can call it that).

The acting is decent, though... except from Megan Fox, who is just there for the T&A. And what lovely T&A it is (there's even a slow-mo Baywatch-esque running sequence).

I know this sounds like hating, but despite all of that negativity, I still enjoyed myself. Why? Because the action and special effects were good. The haters hate the movie because of the aforementioned things, of course. But what they also don't realize is that they're going in to a Transformers movie... as directed by Michael Bay. It's basically Robots & Explosions: The Movie. But I knew that going in. So knowing that, and still seeing it, I wasn't really disappointed. I didn't go in expecting Oscar-worthy plots and characters. I saw giant robots fighting each other and blowing crap up. That's what I went to see, and the movie delivered. Case closed.

Still, is it a good movie? Not really. But is it entertaining (even on a braindead level)? Heck yeah. So taking all things into consideration, including the outstanding visual effects (though even those had a few hiccups), I think I can give it a pretty fair score as a non-biased, knows-what-he's-getting-into source.

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I Am McLovin!

6.23.2009

The Last Airbender Teaser Trailer!

I know I just posted for a review, but then I saw this, and it's worth reposting for...

Just the other day, I mentioned movies I can't f**king wait for. Near the top of the list was The Last Airbender, and I mentioned how there hadn't even been a trailer for it yet. I spoke too soon. The first teaser trailer has just been released... and I still so can't wait. Though I wish it would have shown clips of other characters besides Aang...

6.22.2009

Short Review: Following.

Premise: A tri-split narrative tells the story of a young man who likes to follow people who meets another guy who likes to burgle homes just to see how people really are... and the blonde woman between them.

Starring: Jeremy Theobald, Alex Haw, and Lucy Russell.

My Reaction: This was Christopher Nolan's first feature-length film. It's really low budget and black-and-white. It's about the same budget as Kevin Smith's Clerks., though the black-and-white is much darker here. The acting and dialogue is excellent. The movie is very reminiscent of Memento, though to me, not as good. Though this is also the kind of movie one would have to watch more than once to grasp completely. Early on (like, the first 20-30 minutes), I was horribly confused as to what the heck was going on. I think it was mostly due to not realizing at first the split narrative was the same story at different points in time (which was mostly due to not recognizing the main actor's face once he's cleaned up a bit). The split narrative works much better in Memento, mostly because this use of it seems a bit forced. It's just the one story told parallel to each other from different points in time (though the DVD does have the option of watching it chronologically). The movie is barely over an hour long, so taking half the movie to get used to what's going on is too much. However, all that being said, the ending is freaking fantastic. That's pretty much the only reason I gave the movie as high of a score as I did (based solely on a single viewing). It was tough to score already, but the ending was so great, I'm not sure why it isn't talked about more (especially with Nolan's rising popularity). It's not exactly a heist film, but it's a conman film, which follows similar territories... kinda like Lucky Number Slevin. If you're a fan of Memento, I really recommend it, although it's much slower in pace.

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A Keanu 'Whoa'

6.21.2009

2 In 1: Wasabi And District B13.

I haven't done a 2 In 1 in a while, and I figured since I had two movies that could be themed together, I might as well. Both of these films are written by one of my favorite writer/director/producers, Luc Besson. The first is an action/comedy, while the second gets more into the action/dystopian scene. So let's get into it, shall we?


Wasabi.

The tagline for this movie really says it all: "Quite Possibly The Greatest French-Language, English-Subtitled, Japanese Action-Comedy Of All Time." Luc Besson likes to mix and match cultures in the films he's involved with. And this one is the epitome of that. Wasabi is about Hubert (Jean Reno), a cop who uses unorthodox and illegal moves on the criminals he's after, mostly due to his history with special services. But he's also stuck in the past, having 19 years ago fallen in love with a Japanese woman who mysteriously left him 8 months later. After being suspended from his police position for 2 months for accidentally assaulting the chief's son, Hubert receives a call from Japan stating that his old lady-friend is dead, and has left him as sole recipiant of everything in the will. But he also discovers something else--he has a daughter, 19-going-on-20-year-old Yumi (Ryoko Hirosue). Noticing that Yumi's mother's death is more than it seems, Hubert teams up with his old partner Momo (Michel Muller) to figure out what happened... all while trying to keep the fact that he's her father away from Yumi, who is under the impression her mother had been raped and abandoned and wants nothing more than to see her father dead.

This movie is very entertaining. It's not as serious and in-depth as Leon, but it's not as plotless and action-packed as The Transporter. Its tone is probably somewhere around Lethal Weapon (not a Besson film, of course, but as close of a comparison as I can make). The story is a good one, and it keeps you questioning what's going on. And I actually did laugh out loud once or twice (like Lethal Weapon, it's not all 'ha ha' funny, but 'amusing' funny, if that makes sense). Though seeing Jean Reno try to play Dance Dance Revolution is awfully 'amusing'. I also liked a particularly liked a scene where Momo is trying to show Hubert a bunch of weapons, while Yumi comes in and out of the room for a 'fashion show', so they keep having to hide everything when she steps from the room with a new outfit.

The action is interspersed throughout the film, so it's not one thing after the other. Though when there is action, it is somewhat reminiscent of the over-the-top fun type that you might see in The Transporter, which was coincidentally made a year later. Notably is the 'fight' in the shopping center while trying to stay inconspicuous to Yumi, as well as the 'golf' fight later on.

The acting is well done. It was fun seeing Jean Reno in a action/comedy role. And Michel Muller as Momo stole the show as the dopey/excitable sidekick, having most of the comedy once in Japan. Then there's Yumi, who I can't say how good or bad of an actress she is, because I was too busy seeing how hot she was anytime she was on screen. Seriously, though, she played the stereotypical Japanese teen girl well.

If I had any complaint, it would be the things that Hubert was left in the will. Hubert keeps saying how everything in the box was a clue to solving the mystery, and that would have been a really cool concept to go with. But only two of the things ever came into play. I think if they were going to say the box of items were all clues, they should have made them all clues instead of just picking two of the things. Also, they broke the Chekov's Gun rule... which is a tough thing to do. I'm mostly just upset about this because I wanted to see a bazooka or heat seeking missiles fired or something. But they introduce all these cool weapons (during the aforementioned 'fashion show' scene), but only use one of the guns and a grenade (for no real reason other than to use a grenade). And the action of the climax scene could have been played out a just a little more (I thought it was a bit too short).

But otherwise, this was a fun movie. If you're a fan of Luc Besson or Jean Reno, or you like a good action/comedy, check this out. It's pretty entertaining.

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A Keanu 'Whoa'




District B13.

Also known as Parkour: The Movie. For those who don't know, Parkour (sometimes referred to, though--as I've heard--incorrectly, as Free Running) is a new-age sport... movement... thing where you run/climb/jump wherever the heck you want. It makes you look like a ninja.

Anyway, this movie takes place in the distant future of 2010 where the ghettos of Paris have been fenced off for safety reasons. The most dangerous of these ghettos is District B13. Born and raised in this ghetto is Leito (David Belle, creator of Parkour) and his sister Lola (Dany Verissimo, beauty incarnate). Leito gets caught up with drug and gang lord, and basic overseer of all of District B13, Taha (Bibi Naceri), and his right-hand lacky K2 (Tony D'Amario). But when Leito gets screwed over, Lola ends up in Taha's hands, and Leito ends up in prison. Enter all-around supercop, Captain Damien Tomaso (Cyril Raffaelli). Damien is hired to enter B13, as Taha has also gotten his hands on a bomb that will blow up most of the city, and he needs to input the code to deactivate it... with only a few hours to do so. So Damien gets teamed up with Leito, who knows the lay of the land and the rules of the trade like the back of his hand. And they must work together--for better or worse--if they're going to get through this alive, deactivate the bomb, and save Lola.

The story isn't deep or anything, so don't come in expecting a masterpiece of storytelling. I also can't really comment on the acting job, either, because the subtitles for this film were ridiculous. Rarely has it been this difficult to watch a foreign film in its original language. They spoke so fast, that sometimes I didn't even finish reading the subtitle before it moved on to the next one. I now sympathize with those who had to watch Gilmore Girls closed captioned. As such, my eyes were on the bottom of the screen for the majority of any dialogue-fueled scene. But again, as the story isn't super deep or anything, it's not like I was really missing much.

The reason to see this movie is for the action. The movie was directed by Pierre Morel, the same guy who directed the recent Liam Neeson flick Taken, and also did the cinematography for such films as The Transporter and Unleashed. In other words, he's no newbie to action films (well, I suppose he could have been at the time, since this came out in 2004, and the only one of those films he had under his belt was The Transporter. Unleashed came out the following year, and Taken, 5 years later. But I digress). The action is superb, dare I say better than even The Transporter. Everything is based around Parkour, with a mix of martial arts flair. So it's kinda like watching a super-gymnast ninja... and a bit of Jason Statham. It's very fluid, fast, and stylish, yet simultaneously hard hitting and rough. It's pure candy for the eyes and adrenaline-fueled mind.

Really, outside the action, there's nothing to talk about with this movie. It moves fast and doesn't even feel like an hour and a half (or a little less than that, really). The only real thing that bugged me (outside the insane subtitles) was Lola's actions near the end of the movie. They really made no sense outside the realm of "hey, let's add more suspense to this scene." But hey, it gave more excuses to show her... which was nice (hell, even Luc Besson wrote the role specifically for her to be in this movie). But on the level of "I just want to see some awesome action," this movie is pretty high up there. So if that's what you're in the mood for, definitely check this out. I would have given it a higher score, but the action and good visuals are really all the movie has going for it. Will I buy it? Probably not. Would I watch it again if I saw it on TV or something? Most definitely.

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I Am McLovin!

6.20.2009

R2D2... The One With Movies I Can't F**king Wait For.

I haven't done one of these in a while, so here we are. I've been thinking of doing this for a couple weeks, but decided the time is right.

- Just to get it out of the way, release Half-Blood Prince already! It's my favorite book of the series, and rumor has it, it's the best film thus far. Stupid Warner Bros. for pushing it back 8 months...

- I just saw the trailer for Zombieland, and my God, does this movie look awesome. I've known about it for a while, but the trailer made it a #1 priority. It'll be like merging Shaun of the Dead with Hot Fuzz... though Americanized. Woody Harrelson? Jesse Eisenberg (coming off his last great -land movie, Adventureland)? Abigail Breslin? Emma Stone? And Bill Murray as a zombie cameo? How freaking awesome is that? Come out, already!

- So, who else is hyped about Gamer? Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall, and Ludacris in what appears to be Death Race meets Battle Royale meets Halo. A movie about real people that can be controlled by other people like video game characters to fight in real battles... To quote Michael Cera in Juno: "Wizard."

- Similarly, I also saw a trailer recently for Surrogates, a Sci-Fi Action/Thriller with Bruce Willis about android look-alikes that are controled by the people they look like from a safe environment to partake in anything the real person would be afraid to do themselves. And then somebody finds a way to kill the surrogates that also kill the people. Thrills ensue. Looks awesome.

- Pandorum. I've only seen the trailer once, but it has Ben Foster in it, and it looks like a freakin' creepy sci-fi movie like Alien or Event Horizon or something.

- The Last Airbender. No trailers yet. And only two or three real pictures. And it's M. Night Shyamalan. However, I was a huge fan of the show (full name, Avatar: The Last Airbender), and regardless of casting all three of the leads as white (while everybody else in the film is Asian of some kind... as they should be), I'm still excited to see it (it helps casting Dev Patel as Zuko). M. Night, you better do this film justice. I want to see two (good) sequels so there can be one film for each season.

- Regardless of how others feel, I'm a fan of the Saw series (if for nothing else, the brilliant continuity). And as this sixth and (supposedly) final film of the series comes out this year, along with the rumored, much-anticipated return of Cary Elwes as Dr. Gordon, I couldn't be more excited.

- 9/Nine. Two movies. I could have included District 9 and done all three together, but District 9 still hasn't won me over. I'll see it, but it hasn't reached a super-excitement level with me yet. I've been excited about the Burton-produced 9 since the first trailer came out last year. And the musical aspect along with the stunning star/Oscar power of Nine, who wouldn't be excited for it? Both have star-studded casts, actually. 9 has Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover, Martin Landau, and Christopher Plummer. Nine has Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Sophia Loren, and Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson... and it's directed by Oscar-nominated Rob Marshall (Chicago).

Go check out all the trailers for these films! What movies are y'all excited for?

6.19.2009

THE PROPOSAL.

As some of you may know, I'm quite the large fan of one Mr. Ryan Reynolds. I'll see pretty much anything he's involved in. Sandra Bullock? I can take her or leave her (I liked her in Speed). So I tucked away my shame and went to a RomCom. Alone. In the middle of the day. Because I liked the male actor. Um... anyway...

The movie focuses on Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock), a biotch boss of a publishing firm in New York. Her assistant, Andrew (Ryan Reynolds), has swallowed his pride for the last three years and gone along with whatever she wanted, all in the hopes of securing an Editor promotion. But one day, Margaret gets called in to her boss's office. Apparently, her green card was rejected, and she's going to be deported back to Canada, which means she can't work at her job... and the guy she just fired get it instead. In desperation, Margaret reels in Andrew and tells her boss they're engaged, and later threatens to blackmail him if he doesn't go along with it. But it doesn't go down as well at the immigrants' office, where they automatically smell the scam. Unless they can prove that they know each other inside and out and prove that they aren't committing fraud, Andrew will owe a huge fine and go to jail, while Margaret will get deported anyway. So they go up to Sitka, Alaska, to visit Andrew's family for the weekend, as it's Grandma Annie's (Betty White) 90th birthday. His mom (Mary Steenburgen) is surprised at first, but goes along with it, while he and his dad (Craig T. Nelson) show Margaret that there's a bit more trouble to Andrew's life than she knew.

The movie doesn't waste time getting to the point. It introduces us to both characters quickly, and then puts us into the deportation situation. Before you know it, you're viewing beautiful Alaska for the majority of the movie. And boy did they capture its beauty. The film is gorgeous to watch. I've actually been to Alaska (actually, I've even been to Sitka, where the movie takes place), and it's like no matter where you look, it's stunning... pretty much like the film. And though I've been to Sitka, I didn't really recognize a damn thing outside the mountains, clear water, and fishing boats.

The movie is your run-of-the-mill RomCom. It's predictable. But in this case, that doesn't make it a bad thing. Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock bring an incredible charm to their roles, and the chemistry between them is fantastic. I personally think Reynolds was underused in the movie, but when he was on screen, he stole the show. I really couldn't help but be taken in by the movie and worry about these characters. Betty White also has a fun role as Grandma Annie.

The one thing RomComs often do, however, is focus the story on the relationship building (the "they're falling for each other!" moments) and forget, mostly, about the comedy. This movie doesn't. This movie is really funny, and I laughed at this about as much as I did with The Hangover. Though this is a much different style of comedy (outside, perhaps, the Ramone character, which is more similar to The Hangover's comedy). And when I wasn't laughing, I was smiling and enjoying the film.

There were a couple scenes that could have been trimmed down a bit, though. For instance, Ramone's introduction and the 'chant' scene. With both, the funnier parts were toward the end of each respective scene, but it took too long to get to those parts. So a little better editing would have suited them well.

There's not much more to say about this movie. It's pretty to look at. The comedy is good. The chemistry between the characters is great. Ryan Reynolds is still doing well. I also enjoyed that they both work at a publishing firm considering my interest in writing and being published, so that was a plus in the entertainment factor. Yes, it's the RomCom formula, but it's charm pulls the wool over your eyes where you just don't care. Not to mention it's the rare RomCom where it ends up the woman's fault... but I digress.

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A Keanu 'Whoa'

6.17.2009

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: The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The Skinny: I finally got around to just sitting down and watching this. They say you have to not only go in open minded, but have an acquired taste for it. I'm about as open-minded as they come, I love musicals, and I do love me some camp... but apparently I don't have the acquired taste. Tim Curry was excellent. But I didn't care for the music at all, with the exception of "Time Warp." Repo! The Genetic Opera is compared a lot to this film, but I suppose only in that it's a musical that one must be open minded about. And it has a cult following. Needless to say, I much prefer the quite excellent Repo! over this (nothing against you fans out there! Don't hate me).

The Score:
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The Zed Word



The Title: Interstella 5555.

The Skinny: It's only an hour long, but feels longer. It's basically a long music video for Daft Punk. Because of this, there's no dialogue, as the whole movie is a string of their songs put together one story. It's a great concept. If you like Daft Punk, I'd suggest at least one viewing. I like Daft Punk, but apparently not enough to want to watch this again. The animation was decent, though the story was hard to follow at times. And it did get a bit boring after a while.

The Score:
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Stop Saying Okay! Okay.



The Title: Film Geek.

The Skinny: This movie had so much potential, but ultimately falls flat. The movie is about an uber-film geek who gets fired from his rental store job for being annoying. He ends up meeting a girl who apparently likes movies on his own level, but not in his obsessed way. Of course, he gets obsessed over her and basically stalks her. There were some really funny moments, especially in the first act before he's fired. But there's no redemption to the character. This movie tries to be Napoleon Dynamite for film buffs, but the one liners aren't funny half the time. And you mostly find yourself as annoyed with the main character as the supporting cast does. And as I said, there's no redemption. The movie goes nowhere. Nobody learns any lessons. It's just... over.

The Score:
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Feed Me, Seymour!



The Title: Gray Matters.

The Skinny: I really like Tom Cavanaugh, and I think he's vastly underrated. Unfortunately, this movie hardly focuses on him. Instead, it focuses on Heather Graham's character, Gray, who realizes she's falling in love with her brother's (Cavanaugh) new wife. This movie tries so hard to be quirky and original, and it shows. It tries too hard, and I think that's why it fails. There's one scene I really liked, but otherwise, the movie as a whole is rather 'bleh'. It's a romantic comedy without the romance. Or the comedy.

The Score:
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Feed Me, Seymour!



The Title: Howl's Moving Castle.

The Skinny: Yet another Miyazaki. It came on IFC (or some similar channel), so while it was uncut and without commercial interruptions, it was the dubbed version. Luckily, one of the voice actors is Christian Bale, and another is Billy Crystal, so it's really not that bad. The beginning drags a bit up until Howl is shown to us for the first time, though unknowingly. The movie plays with a lot of great ideas, probably coming from the book it's based on. Though it does have its flaws. First, it seems like (due to Miyazaki's involvement) the movie is British-based with some strange Japanese influences (like the book is British, but Miyazaki tries to alter it for the anime). It feels strange at times. And it's never explained why the main character is constantly shifting in age throughout the film (there are quite a few things not explained). For the majority of the movie, though, I was at least enjoying it... until the ending. The ending is so rushed and awful, it's like they ran out of budget and realized they still needed to resolve every single character in the film, so they had to do it all within a 3 minute time frame. It was such a piss-poor way of doing it, that it made me really dislike the rest of the film (of which I was already only slightly above-average' on). I've seen better from Miyazaki, though I've seen worse.

The Score:
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Stop Saying Okay! Okay.



The Title: The Gamers.

The Skinny: This is the original short film that the recently reviewed The Gamers: Dorkness Rising is a spin-off from. While there are a few who liked this short film better than Dorkness, the vast majority saw Dorkness as a vast improvement. I'm with the latter. The idea is very similar to Dorkness, though. The Gamers takes place almost entirely in the fantasy world and doesn't focus much on the outside lives. Overall, I didn't really laugh much (maybe once) at this one. It just seemed to fall flat for me. There were some good ideas, but they weren't executed very well, in my opinion. Most of my issues stemmed from the characters over-explaining everything, as if they were afraid their audience wouldn't get it. One idea I do wish they would have expanded on and done again in Dorkness (though done it a bit better than in this) was the idea of what to do with a character whose gamer isn't present. I liked how, in the fantasy world, the character just stood there until the guy would show up. And then the idea of the DM taking over the character, etc. If done right, it would have been a hilarious bit. But alas, I didn't really care much for this one. Still, check out Dorkness. You won't regret it.

The Score:
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Feed Me, Seymour!


The Title: The Happiness of the Katakuris.

The Skinny: This movie is f**king weird. I'm tempted to leave my review at that, but I'll explain. This movie is a dark comedy musical directed by Takashi Miike. Let me explain that for those who don't realize what I just said. Takashi Miike is known for making some of the most brutual horror films in Japan (Audition, for instance). This is a (darkly) comedic musical. This would be the equivalent of having Clive Barker directing Mary Poppins or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. There is so much strangeness surrounding this movie, it would take me ages to discuss. In fact, I almost wrote a "WTF Did I Just Watch?" for this movie, but it's so sporadic and bat-shit crazy that I wouldn't have been able to talk about it in any linear fashion. I think an entire movie made up of the "bowling daydream" from The Big Lebowski would have made more sense.

The Score:

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WTF

6.15.2009

Short Review: Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

Premise: A loser mall cop tries to get a girlfriend, but in the process ends up having to save the mall from a major heist on Black Friday.

Starring: Kevin James, Keir O'Donnell, and Jayma Mays.

My Reaction: When I first saw trailers for this, I thought it was going to be bad. It looked pretty awful to me. Now, I like Kevin James. His "Sweat the Small Stuff" stand-up special is hilarious. But even he didn't look like he could save this movie. Therefore, I skipped it in theater. But then I wondered if I had thought incorrectly, seeing it was getting some good reviews and staying #1 at the box office for so long (but then again, so did Beverly Hills Chihuahua... the box office part, anyway). But I Netflix'd it to check it out. I went in with an open mind. 5 minutes in, I'm like "Okay, this is painfully unfunny." 10 minutes in, I'm like "Okay, this is still painfully unfunny." 20 minutes in, I'm like "Maybe it's one of those comedies that waits for its premise to start before it gets, you know, good." By the time the premise (heist) actually starts--at 45 minutes in--I'm dying from non-laughter. Granted, the action/suspense aspect did amp it up a bit, but the film was still painfully unfunny. I was actually super surprised when I actually laughed at one bit... the only laugh in the whole movie (when he attempts to break down the door to the card/Hallmark store the first time). The movie wasn't fully incompetant, though. I thought there was a major plot hole in how the bad guys were going to manage to logically escape, but it actually worked in an decent explanation. Granted, it came out of f**king nowhere and didn't make any sense, but it was there. So, long story short--painfully unfunny throughout, decent 'family comedy-level' action, horrible acting, no chemistry for the 'girlfriend' sub-plot, poor script, though bizarrely (very) mildly entertaining (mostly due to the second half of the film). Epic fail on a comedy level, though.

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The Zed Word

(P.S. While watching the movie, I planned on giving it a 'Feed Me', but while writing the review, I decided to lower it. Though I'd say if there's a level between the two, this would fit there. It's not unwatchable, but I wouldn't go out of my way to see it again... maybe if it's on TV and I'm super bored and there's nothing else on... and it's already into the second half of the movie, because at least that part has Free Runners, which everyone knows are cool).

(P.P.S. Though... does anybody else really want a Segue after watching this movie?).

TV Review: Dragonball Z - Season Four.

I tried something a bit different this time. I wrote and added to the review as I finished each disc of the season, so that when it came time to write the review, I wouldn't forget stuff. This is especially helpful if, like has already happened, Netflix gets screwy and new DVDs for the show don't come for nearly two weeks. Anyway, I finished this last week but have either been lazy or putting it off in favor of other reviews. Let me know if you prefer this format of review.

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

With Goku still MIA, the season picks up not too long after the last... and picks up with a bang. Though that's not necessarily a good thing. You see, DBZ, every now and then, has what are called "mini-sagas." These are tiny sagas of filler that mainly conflict with the rest of the series, as they weren't from the original source material. The Garlic Jr. Saga is basically the first, as it originally aired between the third and fourth seasons. But for this DVD collection, it is under the fourth season. And I didn't remember much of anything about this mini-saga, so I went in rather cold.

The Garlic Jr. Saga ties back to one of the many DBZ animated films, The Dead Zone, which occurs prior to the beginning of the series (so before Raditz shows up). And that's where my biggest issue spawned from. Up until the last episode of the first disc, Garlic Jr. and his crew are beating the crap out of everybody. But that means that they're all more powerful than the Ginyu Force, possibly closer to lower-to-mid-level Frieza. Then that means that Yamcha, Tien, and (heaven help up) Chaotzu are much stronger than Gohan, Piccolo, and Krillin. I find that hard to believe, especially with Gohan and Piccolo (Krillin I could understand). And herein lies another problem: Gohan defeated Garlic Jr. before Raditz even showed up, and he's become infinitely stronger since then. So why are he and Piccolo (who has also become infinitely stronger) having so much trouble? Like I said, up until the last episode of the first disc, we have no idea (it turns out that this star is making him super powerful).

So up until that point, I couldn't take any of it seriously. And that was a shame, because it had a great concept and was incredibly dark. Not to mention it had a heavy focus on Gohan (and Piccolo and Krillin). Although it's mostly Gohan getting the crap beat out of him, he does stand his own a couple times. In fact, toward the end of it, Gohan becomes a right little badass. There's also an interesting little fight between Gohan and Chi-Chi, finally giving Chi-Chi some fighting scenes.

Krillin also introduces us to his first ever girlfriend, Maron. She's a sexy little thing who all the guys are smitten after, but only up until she starts to reveal her incredibly ditzy and idiotic personality. Though she does bring out a lot of the pervert in Roshi, which is all quite funny (there's a moment between Roshi and Chi-Chi, as well).

But to add another non-sense bit to the mini-saga, though, Kami and Mr. Popo have to travel through the realm where all the previous guardians of Earth rest. But the guardians attack them and refuse to let them save the Earth. It makes no sense whatsoever. How could any guardian of Earth be such an ass, and then not care that the very planet they protected for so many years is being destroyed because they refuse to let Kami through? I personally feel it was done purely for tension and without really thinking it through.

To bring it a little closer to the main storyline, it interjects scenes of Vegeta traveling the universe searching for Goku, needing to know how he attained his Super Saiyan ability. Though these scenes aren't anything special except to show the greatness that is Vegeta (he really is one of the better written characters on the show).

Once the Garlic Jr. stuff is over, it picks back up with the main storyline, starting with the return of Frieza (who has been rebuilt as mostly robotic by his father). He travels to Earth to get his revenge and destroy the planet. And all seems to be going well... until a strange young man shows up and destroys them all with ease.

Enter Trunks (as pictured on the DVD box cover), a super saiyan from the future. They handle the time travel well, avoiding paradoxes by going with the 'alternate timeline' thing instead. Even better is when it's revealed who Trunks is--the son of a very unique couple that, well, hasn't really even become a couple yet. Though this season really starts up that relationship. But he has to keep his identity a secret from them out of fear that they'll not get together and have him.

So why is Trunks really there? It wasn't for Frieza, that's for sure. He's there to warn everybody that Dr. Gero, a man who used to work for the Red Ribbon Army (enemies from the original Dragonball series), has created two very powerful Androids that are going to destroy the planet. Normally, Goku would have handled them nicely, but he suffered from a fatal heart condition. So Trunks has traveled into the past to warn everybody and save Goku before it's too late. Unfortunately, things don't happen exactly as they had in Trunks' timeline...

But that's getting a bit ahead. What happens from here is some great stuff. We see (Future) Trunks as the badass he is. But then we're left back with the others. And then what happens next is what should have happened in the first season when preparing for Vegeta and Nappa: About one and a half episodes showing training before skipping ahead in time. And the training episode is great, especially the scenes between Piccolo, Goku, and Gohan, as well as more toward the eventual relationship between Vegeta and Bulma (though poor Yamcha being pushed aside). Though we're not without filler. The infamous 'driver's liscense' episode occurs here, before the three-year jump, showing Chi-Chi forcing Goku and Piccolo to get their driver's liscenses. It's overall a pointless episode, though it does have some funny moments (though why it takes both Goku and Piccolo to hold a bus is beyond me. You'd think Goku could do it with his pinky toe at ease). And I still haven't mentioned the unexplained introduction of Gohan's pet dragon Icarus (I believe he's introduced in one of the side-movies).

Anyway, the Androids show up, though I'd completely forgotten about Androids 19 and 20 (I always remembered 16, 17, and 18). I particularly love some of the music that comes along with them. Of note is that Vegeta gets some more screen time, and it's all particularly awesome. But we're also given one very annoying episode before that. Randomly, Maron decides to show back up at Master Roshi's searching for Krillin (and even after they tell her he's gone, she proceeds to do strange things... like look in the refrigerator and ask a potted plant where he is). So then Roshi has to tell her all about Goku's history with the Red Ribbon Army and what's up with the Androids... which ends in a bit of a mess, because Roshi ends in an explanation of information he can't possibly know, as even Goku just learned it himself minutes before, very far away from them. There's also a weird dubbing issue where Goku is fighting Android 19 and there's a close-up shot of Piccolo's face... but you hear Gohan say something like "All right, daddy!" The strangest thing is... Gohan's not even in the same vicinity yet.

Eventually we do get to Androids 16, 17, and 18, and it starts being a heck of a lot more interesting. I also particularly enjoyed a fight scene in the middle of traffic. For the majority of the show thus far, most fights have been in the middle of nowhere, away from people (unless cities were just being destroyed blandly). Sure, there are lots of broken rocks and crashing mountains, but that gets old after a while. So to see the fight in the middle of a busy highway was a great breath of fresh air, however short the sequence might have been.

I'm know there's more I haven't discussed (I don't wanna talk about everything here). But overall, besides random and utterly pointless intervals with Maron at Roshi's, the last 10 or so episodes of the season are pretty good. There's good action and fun music to go with it. It ends how any normal season finale would end, with a good hint at what's to come... though like the rest of the seasons, it happens at a weird time. It's as if it's ending mid-season. The plot of the season is still going on. Nothing's been resolved. In fact, this season is much like Season Two (The Ginyu Season). Outside of the Garlic Jr. stuff, it's just a setup for what's coming--Cell. Also, much like Season Two, it's a mostly useless season outside of the setup. All the Trunks stuff is really cool, and the Androids are cool once they're finally introduced toward the end. But everything else... not too necessary. This wasn't my favorite season by a long shot. But the next one is. I really love the Cell stuff, mostly because it's finally Gohan's time to shine. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

If you're watching the show, this season is a necessary speed bump to get over. Just don't expect too much from it.

6.13.2009

LKMYNTS: The Gamers: Dorkness Rising.

This is one of those movies you're either going to love or hate. And that all depends on how open minded you are. If you have to have Michael Bay-level special effects and action... you'll probably hate this. But, say, if one of your favorite parts to Role Models was the live-action RPG scenes, you'll love it. This movie is about as low-budget as they get (Napoleon Dynamite looks big budget in comparison). And those are most of the reasons people seem to dislike it... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Kevin Lodge (Nathan Rice) and his friends love Pencil & Paper Role Playing Games (RPGs), especially Dungeons & Dragons. Lodge is the resident Dungeon Master (the one who runs the games), and he's come up with his own world and campaign that tends to... play with the rules a bit. This really ticks off the other gamers, including Cass (Brian Lewis), Gary (Christian Doyle), and Leo (Scott C. Brown). Cass, especially, can't deal with Lodge's rule bending, as it keeps getting everybody killed... and he refuses to not win a campaign. So the group goes out to recruit new members to help before they try the campaign again--for the third time--though all they can get is not only a "female," but a complete newbie, Joanna (Carol Roscoe). And she also happens to be Cass' ex-girlfriend. So now that they have all the players, they decide to make up new characters to get through the campaign (without using "player knowledge"). Cass plays a "Western" Monk; Gary plays a chaotic "neutral" female wizard, and keeps forgetting he's a woman, so the character is shown as both the normal actor and another (Jennifer Page); Leo decides to forgo his warrior types and try out a Bard (how different could they be?); Joanna creates her own warrior woman... with high charisma and speed and low Hit Points and strength; and Lodge goes with a holy Paladin, who all the others see as a "babysitter" so they can't do anything wrong or whatever Lodge doesn't want them doing. But the trick is... can they get through the campaign without wanting to kill each other in real life, too?

I know all that sounds really nerdy, but outside any random MST3K episode, I haven't laughed this hard in a long time. I laughed harder at this than I did at The Hangover, which itself was a very funny movie. Actually, I started off really worried with the opening scene thinking "what have I gotten myself into?" However, thankfully, you grasp what's going on pretty soon, and the movie picks up considerably after the opening scene. But here's the question: do you need to be a gamer or have knowledge of the gaming community to "get" this movie? I don't think so. Especially because of Joanna's character, the movie is very "newbie" friendly. Rules are explained clearly, so you'll get most if not all of the jokes. Sure it helps if you've played (or at least watched somebody else play) at least one game of D&D. It gives you some perspective on the film that adds a whole other level of comedy to it (because you can relate so much easier to these people).

I got so many flashbacks watching this movie, it was great. Guys playing females and forgetting what gender they were... guys always wanting to seduce other characters... characters who are one orientation ("chaotic neutral"), but act another ("chaotic evil")... DM's using paladins as babysitters... rule nazis... rolling epic fails (1)... and so much more. This is a movie made by gamers for gamers (or previous gamers), but non-gamers will enjoy it just the same, much like viewers enjoyed the world of live-action role playing in Role Models, learning rules through the eyes of Paul Rudd's character.

Though there are so many more jokes in this film. And unlike other movies where D&D nerds are portrayed as, well, nerds... where they're seen in a negative light... this film honors them and really shows how much fun they have. I was laughing almost non-stop, and I've also experienced something very rare: the after-laugh. Just thinking about certain scenes of the film the next day is making me laugh. How could you not laugh at a wizard resurrecting a cooked chicken just for the hell of it, and having the chicken go ballistic on the characters (which ends in something so classic that I don't want to spoil it). Or at characters rolling charisma to distract the paladin while they torture another character for information?

If you couldn't figure it out, the film bounces back and forth between the "real world" and the "fantasy world." Of course, the "real world" actors play their "fantasy world" counterparts, except that Luster (the female wizard) goes back-and-forth between a male and female actor/actress, depending on if he remembers to stay in character or not. The fantasy world stuff is much funnier than the real world stuff, though I suppose the real world stuff is necessary for character development (no pun intended). But the best thing is when they mix the two. You can hear the rolling of die over the fantasy world scenes at times, or there's one scene where the Bard has to use his "Bardic knowledge" about information the Dungeon Master knows, so you see a hand pop from off-screen and hand him a cue-card to read from. And then, of course, the occasional "real world" discussion as they try to figure out what to do (most times it'll flip back to real world altogether here, but there's times where it just sticks in the fantasy world). Everything just adds to the awesomeness of the film.

So obviously the script is solid. What about other things? I wouldn't say the acting is as bad as the haters make it out to be. There's one actor who is obviously bad, but he's such a small character and only in the film for maybe a total of 2 minutes. The main people are all decent. They won't be winning any Oscars, but that's not the point of the movie. I loved what the director told them in the behind-the-scenes: just pretend this is real life; if you feel that you're acting, stop and start over. The guy who plays Cass was the best of the group, and I wouldn't be surprised if he broke out into mainstream films. But the thing is, while I could easily see this film made by the Apatow gang (for instance, Leo being Seth Rogen and Cass being Paul Rudd), I think it would take away the charm of the film. I think these particular actors bring something to these characters that those others wouldn't be able to--the heart of an experienced gamer.

But what got to me more than anything else, and what tends to get to the haters, are the special effects. They're pretty bad. Like... "I made this on my home laptop" bad. It makes Sci-Fi channel visuals look great. Thankfully, they just use visuals for powers and such, and not monsters or anything (the closest it gets, which is arguably the most cringeworthy of the bunch, is a ton of flies coming from an injured demon). However, this is how I think of it: this movie is an exploration of the imagination and comedy. Why wouldn't the special effects be cheesy? Part of me believes that the cheesiness of the special effects adds to the feel of the film, while part of me just wants more superb visuals anyway. Thankfully, the movie isn't too reliant on these effects, so it's not really distracting (or detracting).

And you know every comedy has the big 'fall out' moment where something happens between the main characters, and one or more have to come crawling back with an apology. Most movies usually go for some melodramatic speech with the apology... this touching, heart-felt moment. I have to say that this film handles it much more realistically (and more hilariously)... and it takes only two lines of dialogue between characters. Okay, so there's a mini-speech with one character, but the one to another character is better.

This movie can really only be found via Netflix or Amazon, it seems... but as soon as I finished watching it (at about 1 in the morning), I went right to Amazon and placed an order. It almost immediately became one of my favorite movies, bad special effects or not. This movie is truly the heart of extreme low-budget films. It's original, hilarious, well-written, and done to the best of everybody's ability. If you go to check it out, make sure you're getting Dorkness Rising and not the original, The Gamers, as this is apparently a spin-off of that short film. If super low-budget films don't bother you, I highly recommend this film, especially if you have any knowledge of Dungeons & Dragons or P&P role playing (first or second hand). And even if you don't, check it out anyway. I swear, you will find yourself laughing. Great, great movie.

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Royale With Cheese

6.12.2009

THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123.

I've been excited for this movie since I first saw the trailer. As some of you know, I'm a big fan of heist films. There's no bank involved here, but it's a hostage film, which falls in the same category for me. In the end, it all comes down to "how are they going to get away with it?" This one is about Walter Garber (Denzel Washington), a subway dispatcher with a shaky past, who starts seeing something going on with one of the trains, Pelham 123. Turns out that the train is hijacked by Ryder (John Travolta) and his crew (Luis Guzman being the biggest name). They want 10 million dollars in one hour, or Ryder will kill a hostage every minute they're late. They bring in the hostage negotiator, Camonetti (John Turturro), and they contact the mayor (James Gandolfini). I'm sure you know the drill from there.

Is the movie exciting? Yes. Does it have action and suspense? More suspense than action, but yes. Is there comedy? A bit. All in all, the movie is very entertaining. It's no Inside Man, but it's very good. In fact, I think for the first time in my life, I'm actually agreeing with Roger Ebert: “Nobody gets terrifically worked up, except the special-effects people. Oh, John Travolta is angry and Denzel Washington is determined, but you don't sense passion in the performances.” It's just another character that Denzel has done a hundred times. He does it well because he should be used to it by now. I did like Travolta, too. It's like a more over-the-top and angry version of Vince Vega. The movie isn't all action as the trailers make it out to be. A lot of it is vocal interaction and relationship building between Denzel and Travolta, which is the greatest strength of the film.

You'll probably be hearing a lot about the cinematography of the film, which can best be described as frenetic. The movie is very stylistic as it plays with the speed of movement (no abusive slo-mo... it works more with blurry). For the most part it works. There were only one or two times when I really thought "Okay, was doing it right here necessary?"

There's really not much to hate or even dislike about the film. It's done well, overall. Two of my three biggest issues are similarly related. One deals with a possible plot hole (that they bring up in the film, actually) about why they had to get cars to deliver the money all the way across New York. Why? Well, to have a car driving sequence. And this is the second issue. That had to be one of the lamest attempts at a car-fueled adrenaline rush ever. You know all those car crashes and whatnot from the trailers? It's not really during any car chase. It's basically from a couple stupid drivers getting in the way after the street should already have been cleared by police. It's like "Now that we have them driving the money across the city, how can we make it more exciting? I know, toss in some cars that shouldn't be there."

The third biggest issue is the ending, which was a bit too cheesy for my tastes, especially for a "heist" film. Heist films are supposed to be cool, not cheesy. I can't really say what it is, as that's spoiler territory, but I'll leave it at that.

This is a lot of negative, but I honestly really liked the movie. These things are only small portions of the film. The actors aren't exactly phoning in their performances (especially Travolta). The story is good, though there wasn't that last big POW! that most heist films like to give, which I think is part of what brings it down a notch or two. There's no real twist. Everything that should be a surprise, you see coming a mile away. And when it's all said and done, it (being whatever big plot device occurs) never really amounts to a whole lot. In other words, the movie had the potential of a 5, but instead falls at about a 4.

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A Keanu 'Whoa'

6.11.2009

Why Haven't They Made This Yet? #2

[Do you know what I find even more annoying than the constant wave of remakes, reboots, sequels/prequels, and comic book and video game adaptations? People complaining about remakes, reboots, sequels/prequels, and comic book and video game adaptations. Seriously, all I ever hear these days is 'waah, why aren't there any fresh ideas? Everything is (see above) nowadays!' And frankly, I'm getting really tired of it. So instead of joining the ranks, I'm going to embrace all said types of film, and I will be celebrating it in a segment I like to call... "Why haven't they made this yet?"]

I didn't want to do another video game adaptation so soon, but this one has been on my mind since I conceived the idea for this. I had to get it all down. So here we go.



Title: Super Mario Bros.

Type: Video Game Adaptation/Remake/Reboot.

History: Mario and his brother Luigi were first introduced to us in the original Mario Bros. way back in the 80s. Since then, they've spawned numerous games which have become the second biggest selling game series in history.

One might think that a movie based on Mario would be nearly impossible. And I would agree. Just look at the version done in the 90s with Bob Hoskins. I mean, have you ever looked at the story of the games? Really, truly looked at it? You have two plumber brothers who find themselves in the Mushroom Kingdom. Princess Peach, the sole princess of the kingdom, has been kidnapped by a dinosaur, Bowser. It's up to these two to get her back, traveling to many different lands/worlds to find her. These worlds span kingdoms of giants, ice, water, desert, and more. Along the way they have to face other dinosaurs, turtles, and goombas (creatures of the Mushroom Kingdom that joined Bowser's side). But Mario and Luigi don't have to do this alone. First, they have the guide of a mushroom-headed guy named Toad who helps by saying "The princess is in another castle!" But you also get superpowers. Depending on what icon you consume, you can shoot fireballs, wear a raccoon suit that turns you to stone, hop in a frog suit to swim under water, or become invincible for a short amount of time. All of this in the name of the princess.

How insane is that?


Film Possibilities

Genre:
First of all, there's no way this movie could be live action and look as good as it could. But it wouldn't be good enough to have simple animation. Motion Capture would be the way to go. As for genre, it would be action/adventure fantasy. The adventure is obvious by all the travel, and of course the action to go with it. The movie would also have to embrace the fantasy and not try to make it real like the original film did. It would also have to have a lot of comedy. This movie cannot possibly take itself seriously or it'll fail big time.

Why This Movie Could Work: Beowulf. Motion Capture is slowly becoming more and more popular, and even though it's all animated, it can look real without simultaneously looking ridiculous. To top it off, this movie could be 3D, as there's a big 3D craze going on at the moment. Can you imagine all the fireballs and turtle shells flying at you? Awesome.

Story: The Mushroom people and the dinosaur people live in harmony within the Mushroom Kingdom. But the King is dying. Princess Peach is up for the crown, but Chancellor Bowser is a wee bit greedy. He causes anarchy within the kingdom and kidnaps the Princess, waiting for the king to die. If the princess isn't home and alive when the king dies, the crown automatically goes to the next in line: the Chancellor. The kingdom is split, half staying loyal and the other half siding with Bowser. But there's a prophecy of two brothers that will save the kingdom. The king sends Toad to find them, and find them he does. The king sends Mario and Luigi to find the princess and bring her home to claim her crown. So now they must travel the world, through hot and cold, through the strange and stranger, to get her back.

Along they way they discover the powers of the Mushroom Kingdom, and the different abilities they can gain, such as harnessing fire. Hopefully they can reach the princess and defeat Bowser before it's too late.

Director: This is a toughie. Who has experience with Motion Capture, fantasy, adventure, and comedy? Who would be willing to take a gamble, especially after the worldwide infamy that is the first film? I was tempted to throw all that out the window and go with a specific director based on previous work with the following cast, but I think prior knowledge would be important here. I have to go with Robert Zemeckis. He's directed Beowulf, The Polar Express, and the upcoming A Christmas Carol. There's no doubt he knows his Motion Capture. He can do comedy where we know something is serious, but it refuses to take itself as such: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? And he can do the fantastical, as seen in Beowulf and Back to the Future. I really think Mr. Zemeckis would be the perfect director for this.

Cast: This was one of the toughest parts. The king and Toad aren't too worrisome. It's Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Bowser we have to worry about. Let's start with our leads. There aren't many actors out there who could do this well. They have to not only make you care for them as you watch them, but they have to have a good chemistry between each other. One has to be portly (which isn't that common in Hollywood), while the other a bit lanky. That's why I feel the following casting is an inspired one (they'd just have to work on the accents and grow thick mustaches):

That's right, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg as Mario and Luigi (respectively). We already know they have chemistry. We already know they can do action (Hot Fuzz). We know they can take something serious and not take it too seriously. And being the nerds that they are, they would treat the material with the utmost respect. As I said, they'd have to work on the accents, but that shouldn't be too hard for either of them. Obviously, the director choice I alluded to earlier was Edgar Wright, having worked with these two before.

But now we have the princess. We need a good looking blonde woman. She'll probably want to be a medium-named actress. Not an Angelina Jolie, but not a no-name, either. Somebody we know and can identify with and who we would want to see rescued, but not somebody so famous that they'd want an extended role (as Peach probably wouldn't be in the film a whole lot). One name springs to mind: Banks.

Her name is all over the place, but I don't think it's Jolie-level quite yet. And who wouldn't want to save Elizabeth Banks from a dinosaur? It'd be perfect.

Finally, our villain. Of course, this is a dinosaur we're talking about. It won't obviously be an actor, so it's the voice we're looking at here. Somebody who can exude evilness in his voice. And if we're going with my script, somebody who can be at least eligant, as he is a chancellor of a magical kingdom. Even if we didn't go with my script, Bowser would have to be a good speaker, as he has so many followers. Only one name crossed my mind. Hugo Weaving. Who didn't get the chills as he went on his rants in The Matrix? Who didn't love listening to him spin rhetoric in V For Vendetta? And we never even saw him in that one (not skin, anyway). He can keep you entranced by voice alone, villain or otherwise. And that's why I think he'd be the perfect Bowser.

And that's pretty much all there is to this edition. Thoughts?

6.06.2009

THE HANGOVER.

The plot to this movie is simple. It's basically a more adult version of Dude, Where's My Car? And without the aliens. In fact, they could have retitled it Dude, Where's My Friend? (Or even Dude, Where's My Doug). Doug (Justin Bartha) is getting married in two days. But his friends Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms), along with his soon-to-be brother-in-law Alan (Zach Galifianakis), take him for the ultimate bachelor party in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, they wake up the next morning not remembering a thing. All they know is that Doug is missing, the place is a wreck, Stu's missing a tooth, a baby's in the closet, and a tiger's in the bathroom. So now they must try to find Doug, taking them through a night of events they don't remember, and crossing paths with a hooker, Jade (Heather Graham); Mike Tyson; a couple cops (Rob Riggle and Cleo King); and Chinese gangsters led by Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong). And they need to find Doug and get home--alive, if at all possible--before the wedding.

However, don't get caught up on the similarities. It's not a rip-off. The adventure is different, and much more adult-oriented. And the movie is honestly funny. Now, I've been reading things saying that this is the funniest movie in the history of man. I disagree there. I did laugh out loud on numerous occassions, though when I wasn't, I was at least smiling the entire time. The rest of the theater was laughing pretty much non-stop, though. Don't take this as I didn't enjoy the film. I enjoyed it immensely. Just because I don't laugh non-stop doesn't mean I don't think it's fun or funny (It's difficult for movies to make me laugh a ton).

I must say that Ken Jeong is still in form, though I would have preferred not to see him fully naked. His roles are always some of my favorites. But the best jokes of the film came from Zach Galifianakis. In fact, I think all the times I laughed out loud were at jokes centered on his character. And certainly the only times I laughed in the first act (before the memory loss starts) were at his character. The movie does have a bit of a slow start, I felt.

However, it's only slow in jokes. The movie has to set up its characters, which I feel it does well. Like many good comedies these days, the makers make sure that the characters are real and relatable. Bradley Cooper's teacher persona might seem over-the-top, but I've actually known teachers who would tell a student not to bother them on the weekend and to get out before any of them ask any more questions. The characters weren't just silly. They were developed.

And even if the comedy doesn't work for you at times, the mystery will. I swear, I'm a sucker for a good mystery. I like trying to piece them together and figure it out before it's revealed. So I had a lot of fun trying to do just that, laughing or not. And I love how they eventually show what happened overnight. That was a brilliant way to end the movie.

If I were to give mention to any part of the movie that bugged me, I really couldn't without spoiling, as it's at a crucial part of the film. Let's just say it's the gambling scene. The movie was obviously larger than life. However, this scene really seemed to push the limits of realism. I just had a hard time believing its possibilities. Was it still fun? Yes. But almost too far-fetched even in the realm of the film. But since it was still enjoyable, I didn't really care a whole lot.

But for the most part, the movie was incredible fun and was really funny. It is one of the funnier movies to come out recently; I agree with that. I would definitely recommend it if you're a fan of comedies (believe it or not, there are people out there who don't care for them!) or just need a good laugh. It was well thought out and is good entertainment. Though as I said at the beginning, it is more on the adult side (heavy language, nudity, and crude humor), so beware bringing little kids (as I saw in my own theater). Otherwise, have fun.

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A Keanu 'Whoa'

(P.S. Super hard to rate. Again, this is a very strong 'Whoa'. Like a 4.5 out of 5).

6.05.2009

Why Haven't They Made This Yet? #1

Do you know what I find even more annoying than the constant wave of remakes, reboots, sequels/prequels, and comic book and video game adaptations? People complaining about remakes, reboots, sequels/prequels, and comic book and video game adaptations. Seriously, all I ever hear these days is 'waah, why aren't there any fresh ideas? Everything is [see above] nowadays!' And frankly, I'm getting really tired of it. So instead of joining the ranks, I'm going to embrace all said types of film, and I will be celebrating it in a new segment I like to call... "Why haven't they made this yet?"

Our first dip into the pool of unoriginality is with a video game adaptation that has been rumored for years, but has never come to fruition. That's right...



Title: Metroid.

Type: Video Game Adaptation.

History: Metroid first came about with the old NES in 1986. The game showcased a metal-clad superhero of sorts who was held on to life by a parasitic metroid. This fighter's name is Samus Aran, and as Samus, gamers fought Space Pirates, metroid aliens, and the big bad: Mother Brain. But the story really took all gamers by surprise as, at the very end of the game, it is revealed that Samus Aran... is a sexy blonde woman! Le gasp! The game has spawned numerous sequels since.

Back in 2003, John Woo picked up the rights to the film, but it inevitibly found itself in pre-production hell, never ending up on the silver screen. There was also an April Fools joke in 2005 which stated that Uwe Boll would be making the film with Michelle Rodriguez as Samus. Thank God it was a joke.


Film Possibilities

Genre:
Of course there's the Sci-Fi aspect to it. But what kind of Sci-Fi are we looking for? Action/Adventure? Or is it more horror a la Alien? Considering Alien was obviously at least somewhat an inspiration for the game, as the game is more atmospheric than action, the overall best route to go would be this way. Knowing Hollywood, they'd probably make it more of an action movie along the lines of Doom, though. But for a good film? I'd personally say find a good balance between atmospheric horror and action.

Why This Movie Could Work: Iron Man. Pure and simple. Have you looked at Samus' suit? It's basically a clunkier Iron Man suit, though even the later games slimmed it down. And with the success that was Iron Man, there's no doubt in my mind that this movie has the potential, as well.

Story: The original idea that John Woo had wasn't a bad one: an origin story. There would probably be a team added to the story. If not with Samus, then at the military base. Or they might do a separate mission so that the film bounces back and forth between Samus and her team (Samus doing the more dangerous work). Of course a movie wouldn't be able to keep the female lead thing a secret. First, anybody knowledgable of the game would know anyway. Second, there's no way a production company would make a film without listing its star. Well, they could... but it would take somebody like J.J. Abrams and a great viral campaign to pull it off. That being said...

Director: Who could possibly pull off such a feat? Obviously Uwe Boll should stay far away, and John Woo probably would make it into a senseless action flick. It's Sci-Fi with a strong female lead, so Joss Whedon comes to mind. However, Metroid isn't known for its sharp, witty dialogue and ensemble performances, so I don't think Joss would be the best choice. Honestly, I probably would go with J.J. Abrams. He's a hot name of the day, especially after Star Trek. He's known for directing strong, action-oriented women (Alias). And he's a master of the viral campaign (Cloverfield). I think if anybody could pull off the atmosphere and thrill of a Metroid movie while keeping things tightly under wraps (especially if he wanted to keep Samus' gender a secret from the mass audience), it would be J.J. Abrams. And with a hit Sci-Fi film under his belt, he'd probably have a big turnout.

Cast: There's really only one cast member to worry about: Samus. They could always get a relative unknown, but what fun would that make this? So the first to pop into my mind, especially if they want somebody known, but not too known, is Kristanna Loken. She's a sexy blonde that's proven her action skills in such fare as the Mortal Kombat TV show, Terminator 3, and Uwe Boll's BloodRayne. So what's keeping her from being my choice? She was in the Mortal Kombat TV show, Terminator 3, and Uwe Boll's BloodRayne.

Next on the list? Charlize Theron. She's a stunning beauty. She's got the acting chops. She's shown she can do some action with the live-action adaptation of Aeon Flux, as well as the superhero flick Hancock. What counts against her? Like Miss Loken, she's shown us her action abilities in films like Aeon Flux and Hancock.

So who could take the reigns of the blonde beauty badass? To me, the choice is mostly simple. What blonde has shown us time and again that she can do action, and even look awesome while doing it? I hate to make the reference considering recent events, but it just kinda happened that way... Kill Bill's Uma Thurman. They even look alike.


That's really about it. Thoughts?


6.04.2009

This is terrible...


David Carradine, star of Kung Fu and Kill Bill, has been found dead. It appears to be a suicide (via hanging).

But the worst part is that I'm already reading comments like "I guess Bill killed Bill" and "Will they question Uma Thurman?" I pray this doesn't become a murder mystery, or else we'll just be hearing "who killed Bill?"

Come no, guys. The news just broke. Give it more than 5 minutes before you break out the morbid jokes.

UPDATE: It has now been confirmed that this 72-year-old man died during a sex act--auto-erotic asphyxiation--wherein he gets off from lack of air supply. The rope was found below both heads... if you know what I mean. I'm sorry, it's a sad thing to see him go, but... what a way. Bring on the jokes...