50/50 Review #7: Black Orpheus.

I'm a big fan of mythology, as I've said in the past. As it is for many people, Greek mythology is where it all started for me. So I was really excited to see a film that took the Orpheus story and "modernized" it. It's the day before Carnival, and we're give Orfeo (Breno Mello), a popular young musician and trolley operator in Rio. He's about to marry Mira (Lourdes de Oliveira), but soon falls in love with Eurydice (Marpessa Dawn), the cousin of Mira's friend, Serafina (Lea Garcia). But Eurydice feels she's in danger, having run away from home as Death (Ademar Da Silva) is after her.

Sure enough, my favorite parts of this movie dealt with all the references to Greek mythology. Besides the obvious main two characters, there's the trolley station owner named Hermes who knows the city like the back of his hand. There's the descent into the underworld at the end, including a dog named Cerberus. Things like that. Even stranger is that the movie is self aware. A character references the Orpheus myth at the beginning of the movie as a joke, the very myth that the film is portraying. An odd choice, but interesting nonetheless.

That being said, there was one question that never left my mind while watching: Will they ever stop dancing? I get it. It's Carnival. It's a major celebration/party time. But there are long stretches of nothing but dancing and partying, and it gets incredibly boring after a while. In fact, if you took out all the excess dancing/party moments, the movie would probably only be about 45 minutes long (cutting about an hour). Even if it was interesting dancing, it would have gotten old, as it was the same moves over and over. But it wasn't interesting dancing. It was just a chaotic throwing around of the legs and body.

I know a lot of stuff in this film is a cultural thing. Perhaps I need to be better versed in it. Looking at it from that perspective and its importance to the culture and the story it represents, I can see why it won an Oscar. But I don't felt the script held up, nor did the acting of the majority of the cast. Orfeo and Eurydice were alright, but everyone else--not so much. So honestly, outside of the mythology aspect, the film didn't really work for me (and I was actually disappointed when the big moment came at the end where he can't turn around. It could have been built up more with him leading her out, like in the actual myth... so it felt like I was waiting for this big moment the entire film, sitting through all this dancing and whatnot... and I was left underwhelmed even in that department). I'm not saying it was bad. I just didn't care for it on the whole.

Stop Saying OK! OK.

(P.S. That'll do it for Travis' Month! Man, Travis, you gave me some pretty strange films. But this month had everything... from the great (Naked) to the bleh (Red Shoes) to the WTF (Hausu) and everything in between. Next month I think I get a little more of the 'in between' with Nolahn's Month. You know that'll be interesting! Stay tuned.)


V.G. Movies #7: Street Fighter.

[Welcome back to the Evolution of Video Game Movies series. Every week, I will be moving forward through time, starting with the earliest and ending with the most recent of video game movies. I will be detailing the histories of the games and how the films came about, and both my and fan reaction to the adaptations. Practically all of my background information is either common knowledge or from Wikipedia. So without further ado, let's move on to the next film on the list.]


I've already given practically all the history you need in my article for Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie. But to continue from there, the first live-action Street Fighter movie came out the same year as the aforementioned film, but to much fewer positive reviews. It was, actually, a box office hit--but was easily knocked down as one of the worst video game movies ever made. I've seen it before, but it's been well over a decade. So let's see how it holds up (or not).


This movie is a prime example of how a producer said "You know everything in the source material we're basing this on? Let's ignore that." This film takes the story and characters of Street Fighter and gives us M. Bison (Raul Julia), an insane general who wants to take over the world with an army of brainwashed and genetically enhanced super soldiers. His first test subject is that of Carlos Blanka (Robert Mammone), a friend of U.S. special forces colonel Guile (Jean-Claude Van Damme), who is now out to save him and some hostages. Guile eventually hires two traveling street fighters named Ken (Damian Chapa) and Ryu (Byron Mann) to infiltrate by getting in with crooked businessman Sagat (Wes Studi) and twisted cage fighter, Vega (Jay Tavare). Also on the case is a news reporter, Chun-Li (Ming-Na), and her crew of Balrog (Grand Bush) and E. Honda (Peter Navy Tuiasosopo), who wants revenge on Bison. And, of course, a hundred other characters appear.

Let's talk about it as an adaptation first. They couldn't even get the characters right. In the games, Balrog is a bad guy and Dee Jay isn't exactly evil (and he's a kickboxer). But the film has Balrog as a good guy and Dee Jay working for Bison as a hacker (though he's still not exactly evil). Dhalsim is a muscular, bald, moderately young yoga guy. In the film, he's an old, frail scientist who helps create Blanka. Guile is supposed to be this big, buff American. We get Jean-Claude Van Damme. Chun-Li is damn near a schoolgirl, but works for interpol, and here she's Ming-Na as a reporter. Ken is WAY off and very scrawny. Ryu is... OK, but the actor sucks. T. Hawk is supposed to be this massive Native American. He's played by someone who looks like a tiny pop star version of Atreyu from Neverending Story, but without looking native. The best casting was probably E. Honda, who I actually liked overall in the film. Worst of all is Bison himself, who is supposed to be a mountain of a man with a box for a jaw and overall incredibly intimidating. We get Raul Julia (of course!).

What about as just a film, ignoring adaptation stuff? The acting is super cheesy and over-the-top. Yes, Raul Julia has been lambasted for years for this role, but he is rather silly with it. Van Damme was just as bad--but it's Van Damme. What else would you expect? There are a couple good parts, though, I have to admit. As I said earlier, I do like E. Honda in the film. And the guy who plays Dee Jay is funny. The character is silly, but he does well with it. The writing is terrible, and the dialogue is mediocre-to-bad. It's hard to know what the hell is going on in the movie, but at the same time... you really don't care.

The most important thing about this flick is that it doesn't take itself seriously and it stays well into the side of so-bad-its-good. I don't think it ever gets to the point that it's just bad. It stays light and silly and cheesy, even ending on an incredibly out-of-place and pointless posing freeze frame of the bulk of the cast. This is one to make fun of with friends, but it's not bad enough to where it would hurt watching it alone, either. It's just a big mess from the ground up.

A Hot Mess

(P.S. And it's certainly not as bad as the other live-action Street Fighter flick, which I'll be reviewing later in the year. Ugh...)

(P.P.S. That also finishes up my second month of this. Stay tuned next month when we finish up this string of fighters and get into some handheld and computer game movies!)


Oscar Predictions: 2012.

I've done this almost every year since I started blogging, so why stop now? I know we're all peeved at the Oscars this year for its insane amount of snubs, but whatever. Let's just look at what we're given. I'll be updating the list as the show goes on, giving my final thoughts on the actual winners, etc.


Will: The Tree of Life
Want: Hugo
Possible: The Artist
Actual: Hugo
Thoughts: Well... looks like Hugo is off to a good start. Despite Tree of Life being PURE cinematography, that kinda hurts losing this one. But still. At last the "want" of the list got it.


Will: Harry Potter
Want: Harry Potter
Possible: Hugo
Actual: Hugo
Thoughts: BLASPHEMY. Stuart Craig has been a genius on the Harry Potter series. I think it's clear where the academy is biased to so far this year.


Will: Jane Eyre
Want: Hugo
Possible: The Artist
Actual: The Artist
Thoughts: Not really surprised, since this is gonna be a Hugo/Artist sweep tonight.


Will: The Iron Lady
Want: Harry Potter
Possible: Albert Nobbs
Actual: The Iron Lady
Thoughts: Yup. Figured.


Will: A Separation
Want: ?
Possible: ?
Actual: A Separation
Thoughts: I really had no idea, but A Separation was the only one I'd even heard of, so that's why I put it. But... yay! Great speech, though.


Will: Octavia Spencer
Want: Jessica Chastain
Possible: Melissa McCarthy
Actual: Octavia Spencer
Thought: I'm just happy Melissa McCarthy didn't win. Nothing against her, and I loved her in the movie and in Gilmore Girls. But I could not have Bridesmaids winning over Harry Potter.


Will: The Artist
Want: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Possible: Hugo
Actual: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Thoughts: Wow, way to go! I had a sinking suspicion it would win, but apparently even the editors didn't.


Will: Hugo
Want: Drive
Possible: Dragon Tattoo
Actual: Hugo
Thoughts: And Hugo continues its wins. The speeches were funny, though.


Will: Hugo
Want: Hugo
Possible: Transformers 3
Actual: Hugo
Thoughts: I think this is the first year I actually got both this and the previous right. Either I'm getting better or the Oscars were almost way too predictable this year.


Will: Hell and Back Again
Want: ?
Possible: ?
Actual: Undefeated
I really had no idea here. Haven't seen or even heard of any of these this year. But I will say... RDJ and Paltrow were hilarious as presenters.


Will: Rango
Want: Rango
Possible: Kung Fu Panda 2
Actual: Rango
Thoughts: There was practically no way this was going to lose. Chris Rock was also a funny presenter.


Will: Harry Potter
Want: Harry Potter
Possible: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Actual: Hugo
Thoughts: Anger. Rising. Quickly.


Will: Christopher Plummer
Want: Christopher Plummer
Possible: Nick Nolte
Actual: Christopher Plummer
Thoughts: No surprise here. Charming speech.


Will: The Artist
Want: ?
Possible: Hugo
Actual: The Artist
Thoughts: There was no other choice. It's a silent film. The score is first and foremost its biggest emotional sell.


Will: Man or Muppets
Want: ?
Possible: Real in Rio
Actual: Man or Muppets
Thoughts: Good, since I didn't like Rio. But hey, where is Beardo's beard? That was weird.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY (I loathe this category this year)

Will: Hugo
Want: Harry Potter (I know, it's not there. Screw them!)
Possible: Tinker Tailor
Actual: The Descendants
Thoughts: Well... this one is actually surprising. It still should have gone to Harry Potter, though. Hell, I would have even taken Dragon Tattoo, which also got snubbed (and I'm not even a big fan of the material).


Will: Midnight in Paris
Want: Midnight in Paris
Possible: A Separation
Actual: Midnight in Paris
Thoughts: Yes! I was going to riot if this lost.

LIVE ACTION SHORT (Guessing again)

Will: Raju
Want: ?
Possible: ?
Actual: The Shore
Yeah... I got nothin'.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT (Guessing again)

Will: Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom
Want: ?
Possible: ?
Actual: Saving Face
Again, got nothin'.

ANIMATED SHORT (Guessing again)

Will: La Luna
Want: ?
Possible: ?
Actual: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Sure. Sounds good to me.


Will: Michael Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Want: Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
Possible: Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
Actual: Michael Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Thoughts: Yup. Hugo might have gotten the bulk of the awards tonight, but The Artist will get the two biggies... which is kind of weird, considering you would think the best film of the year would also have all of the best components that put it together. But I'm getting ahead of myself.


Will: Gary Oldman
Want: Gary Oldman
Possible: Jean Dujardin
Actual: Jean Dujardin
Of course, kinda suspected it. Gary Oldman was some wishful thinking.


Will: Viola Davis
Want: Viola Davis
Possible: Meryl Streep
Actual: Meryl Streep
I'm not sure anyone saw this coming. Including Meryl Streep. Perhaps the academy was just tired of all the jokes. Congrats, Meryl.


Will: The Artist
Want: Midnight in Paris
Possible: Hugo
Actual: The Artist

The Vlog: Season 4, Episode 8 (The Sheep Sheerer).

Alrighty, dear viewers. Here is the next episode of The Vlog. Took me a while to think of something to do for this episode (and I still pretty much came up with it on the fly). But I think it's a fun little gag. Of course, that's book-ended in plot-related stuff. So I hope you enjoy it, and let me know what you think in the comments!


The Demented Podcast: Delay.

Hello ladies and gents. I'm just writing this to say that, due to some crazy bandwidth flooding from Podomatic that somehow happened within the last couple weeks, I am unable to publish the newest episode of The Demented Podcast (and I know I'm not the only one who suffered from this issue recently). In fact, I probably won't be able to publish it until the month starts over and my bandwidth goes back down to zero. So expect it as soon as possible, though that won't be until at least Thursday. Sorry for the delay.


50/50 Review #6: The Red Shoes.

Premise: A Woman Becomes Obsessed With Dancing While Conflictingly Falls For A Man.

Starring: Marius Goring, Moira Shearer, and Anton Walbrook.

My Reaction: I love (love) Black Swan, of which was always compared to this. I love Hans Christian Andersen, who wrote the original story that inspired this. Here, however, I couldn't have cared less. I was bored out of my mind (so bored I even actually fell asleep at one point). I cared absolutely nothing for the characters, their motivations, the story, or the acting. The music was good. And there's a bit about halfway through the film (about an hour and 10 minutes in) where, for a good 15 minutes, it seems like somebody slipped me some drugs while they actually perform the Red Shoes ballet. That part was interesting. Everything else... no care whatsoever. I know it won two Oscars and is considered one of those "perfect/flawless" classics. And somebody else just might think that. I don't. And I really don't care to watch it again, or to go back and catch the short bit I missed while unconscious. Sorry.

The Zed Word

(P.S. To be fair to the film, that rating is PURELY for my entertainment purposes, not for the quality of the movie.)


V.G. Movies #6: Double Dragon.

[Welcome back to the Evolution of Video Game Movies series. Every week, I will be moving forward through time, starting with the earliest and ending with the most recent of video game movies. I will be detailing the histories of the games and how the films came about, and both my and fan reaction to the adaptations. Practically all of my background information is either common knowledge or from Wikipedia. So without further ado, let's move on to the next film on the list.]


In 1987, a company called Technos Japan released an arcade fighter called Double Dragon. In the game, you are martial artist Billy Lee and on a mission to rescue your love interest, Marian, who has been kidnapped by some bandits called the Black Warriors, who have all but taken over the city. In two-player mode, you're joined side by side by your twin brother, Jimmy Lee, who also has an attraction to Marian. The Black Warriors are led by the mysterious Shadow Boss, and include other enemies such as the whip-handling Linda; the muscle with the giant head, Abobo; and Willy, who is the supposed actual leader of the Black Warriors. So as Billy (and possibly Jimmy), you must fight your way through town to find the kidnapped Marian.

But the thing about the arcade version is the ending. It had a shocking ending that nobody saw coming, and it went down in history to make the game into a fan favorite. And what was that? Turns out Willy wasn't the final boss at all. In fact, the Shadow Boss... turns out to be Billy's own twin brother, Jimmy! You have to defeat him if you want to save Marian.

Of course controversy showed up when the game was ported to the NES in 1988 and some important aspects of the arcade version were changed. Not only was the well-known cooperative mode removed, but Jimmy is removed as a playable character (two-player mode was changed to an alternating of rounds controlling Billy) and made simply into the final boss. This removed the impact of the twist of the original game. There were also technical difficulties with the port, as well. It was eventually also ported to other more powerful systems, as well. But although the original is considered one of the best games of all time, the ports are considered good, but shadows of the original.

The game garnered some sequels, but none of them had as much popularity as the first (particularly the third, which was considered the worst of the bunch). But in 1993, it was still popular enough to inspire an animated TV show that ran for only a couple seasons. It added a mystical element wherein the brothers had magical swords that gave them special powers.

All of this, of course, led to a live action film adaptation in 1994. Critics, however, saw it less than positive... as did fans and the general public. It has a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, currently making it the lowest rated video game adaptation of all time. That being said, I did own this on VHS and enjoyed it as a kid very much in the same way I enjoyed Surf Ninjas--pure, unadulterated, cheesy guilty pleasure. But I haven't seen it in years... until now. So how does it hold up in its badness?


In the not-too-distant future of 2007 where a giant earthquake all but destroyed California, twin brothers Billy (Scott Wolf) and Jimmy (Mark Dacascos) live on their own with their caretaker, Satori (Julia Nickson) in a run-down theater in New Angeles. It's a future where gangs rule the night, including the Mohawks, run by Bo Abobo (Nils Allen Stewart). But there's also a rebellion who fights back, led by the pretty Marian (Alyssa Milano). However, everything turns for the worse when a conglomerate villain named Koga Shuko (Robert Patrick), with the help of right-hand lady Linda Lash (Kristina Wagner), goes in search of the two halves of the Double Dragon, a mystical medallion that will give its owner extreme power. But as he already has one half, it's up to the Lee brothers to protect the other half and defeat Shuko at all costs.

Wow is this a lot worse than I remember. I can see why a young kid would find it entertaining (and Alyssa Milano in short-shorts doesn't hurt)... but... yeah, it's not good. I mean, yes it's cheesy and silly, but it really walks the border between fun-bad and just plain bad.

Let's start with the actors and acting in general. First, who the hell decided to take two big, buff twin brother characters and cast scrawny, white Scott Wolf and athletically built Hawaiian, Mark Dacascos? I mean, I can see why you'd want the latter--he's a skilled martial artist, and this is based on a fighting game. But come on, Scott Wolf as his twin brother? You're not even trying. Then there's Robert Patrick as the villain. That's easier to see. But he totally hams it up and is not menacing in the least. Alyssa Milano is nice to look at, at least, though her hair style here does not really suit her very well. On top of everything, the acting is atrocious. Besides just the poor line reading, everything is big eyes and silly faces and... bad.

It's not like they had a lot to work with, though. The script itself is terrible. We all know I'm a pun guy. I like a good wordplay. But this entire movie is nothing but puns... and really bad ones, at that. It's stuff like... there's a scene where Scott Wolf locks a guy's ponytail into a briefcase and then says "What a headcase!" Or they kick him into a safety net and go "Nothin' but net!" Did I mention those two alone are within the same minute or so of the film? And it's like that throughout the entire 90 minutes. The dialogue, the setup, the character development... everything is painful. There's a scene about a third of the way in where (Spoilers) they just lose the only family they have left, and moments later, Jimmy is yelling at Billy because he's acting childish for grieving and needs to grow up. SERIOUSLY? (End spoilers)

Granted, most of these things could be forgiven if the action is good, right? It is based on a fighting game, after all. It's too bad that's not the case, either. The action, choreography, and entire way it's filmed is lame, boring, and lacks any kind of impact. There's only one decent fight sequence, which is when they play a little homage to the original game and have Jimmy as a bad guy and Billy has to fight him. It shows off why they hired Mark Dacascos in the first place. But the fight is very short and doesn't show off even close to enough to make it worth it. Everything else is just... weak is the only word I can come up with.

In the end, they did try to have some connections to the game, at least (from what I researched). The character outfits, the Jimmy/Billy fight, and the eventual look of Abobo being the most obvious. And to be fair, the visual effects of the film are actually pretty decent. They still hold up today, and I found nothing really fake or eye-rolling in that department. But otherwise, everything else was a travesty. The writing is so bad it hurts, and the acting didn't even come close to overcoming it. The movie is pure silliness and cheese; unfortunately, it never tries to be anything more than that from the get-go, and that makes the entire product suffer. I wouldn't say it quite reaches the point of "don't watch," and it does have quite a few moments of "so bad its good" due to the "what the heck were they thinking?" factor. So if you're going to check it out, do so for that. There's not much of a reason otherwise, unless you just really want to see Alyssa Milano in short-shorts and a lot of shots at her butt when she bends over.

The Zed Word


The Vlog: Season 4, Episode 7 (Story Time #3 - The Room).

Here you go... probably the episode you were all waiting for--or at least the episode you've always wanted but never knew you always wanted. It's Dylan as Nic Cage as Tommy Wiseau talking to an inflatable kangaroo who has switched bodies with an over-the-top Australian cliche. You will never hear that sentence again. If you've never seen The Room, you might want to watch this first to understand what is being mimicked here.

Otherwise, I hope you enjoy this. I know it's a short episode, but I think it's pretty fantastic. Let me know what you think in the comments!


50/50 Review #5: Naked.

Let me take you through my thought process with this film: "This seems like a really random film for Travis to put on the list. I've never even heard of this. Hey, this director has made three movies starring Hogwarts professors. And he has the same birthday as me. OK, let's start this thing. Wow... rape in the opening seconds. Classic. Ha, David Thewlis makes a werewolf joke. This movie is really uncomfortable... but I can't look away. (Two hours later.) I think... I think I loved this movie."

And so we have Naked. Johnny (David Thewlis) goes on the run to London from his Manchester home after raping a woman and being threatened a beating. He goes to his ex-girlfriend Louise's (Lesley Sharp) apartment, where he meets her emotionally unstable friend, Sophie (Katrin Cartlidge). Sophie eventually smothers him until he leaves, putting him homeless and on his own. He runs into random people on the street and has philosophical discussions with them, whether they want to be involved or not. Meanwhile, a total sociopath named Jeremy (Greg Cruttwell) goes around freaking people out and raping them.

This is a movie with no real story. It's a film of character and theme, though nothing might be particularly clear at first. Despite that, the writing and dialogue is some of the best I've heard in a long time. Sure, it sounds like a philosophy major got really stoned, wrote down everything that came to mind, sobered up, and then polished the script a little. But that's one intelligent stoner. The dialogue is a mile-a-minute and whip smart, and if you don't pay attention, you'll miss the humor of it all.

Because, really, this is a very dark comedy. Some of the characters are idiots, most are utterly despicable, and our main character is, by and large, a complete bastard. If you let it, the movie can drag you down and make you see it as a difficult, painful, and depressing look at civilization. And although it seems the film is full of jokes and nobody is laughing, you have to roll with the punches.

On top of the writing, David Thewlis gives one of the best damn performances I've ever seen. I had to look up why he wasn't awarded (or even nominated) for an Oscar. Apparently this is considered one of the great upsets, as he was award the honor at Cannes, as was director Mike Leigh. But this was the year of Schindler's List, The Piano, and Philadelphia. Talk about a tough year. But anyway, Thewlis perfectly spits out his masterful dialogue, making everything seem effortless. And though you can't stand him at first, he does (believe it or not) grow on you. Again, despite being a total creep and bastard.

The film isn't perfect. The women are shown as idiots insofar as you're constantly questioning why they're allowing this guy into their homes. Also, even though the writing and performances are completely mesmerizing/hypnotic, there's absolutely no reason this film needed to be 2 hours (it's slightly more, but barely). By the end, the philosophical nature of the film starts to weigh on you, and you get tired out from having to keep up with the speed-talk and accents presented throughout the film. I know that I felt drained by the time the third act came around.

Still, it's a fantastic little film. The beginning is tough to get through, but if you can get through that, it's definitely worth the watch. The writing and acting alone is worth it. Oh, and I now understand why Travis put this on his list for me. I'm glad it was there, and I actually hope to see it again in the future.

A Keanu 'Whoa'



This was one of my early anticipated films of the year. I was excited for this film since I first saw the teaser way back last year. And when the good reviews started pouring in, I became ecstatic. But if anybody knows me, heightened expectations can really mess with me. So what did I think? The film follows Andrew (Dane DeHaan), a bullied, troubled teen whose mom is dying, and whose father (Michael Kelly) is an abusive drunk. His only friend is his cousin, Matt (Alex Russell). One night, Matt talks Andrew into going to a party, where they, along with the most popular kid in school, Steve (Michael B. Jordan), they discover a small cave off in the woods. In the cave is a crystal that somehow gives them telekinetic powers. Slowly but surely, they begin to train and grow their abilities, discovering new things they can do with the power (body shield, flying, etc.). Unfortunately, Andrew, the strongest of the three, is a little unstable... and the power might be a little too much for him to handle.

I'll come right out and say it: I freakin' loved this movie. Even with my high expectations, I came out on a very positive side. The acting is good, the story is good. Jason Soto and I had a recent discussion about how all films of this type (handheld camera movies) always start off slow and build up. Sure, that's true. But it's all about how it's handled. I felt this movie did it well, building the characters, their relationships and personalities. Andrew doesn't just suddenly snap. You can tell there's a little something wrong simmering through the entire film. Matt turns from kind of a douche into a bit of a hero, while Steve shows how not all popular kids are complete bastards. And the evolution of their abilities is nice and gradual, all leading up to a rather epic finale.

One of the things I totally loved about the film was how they handled the handheld camera style. It's incredibly unique, and while other films have tinkered with these ideas, this film just about masters them. Because of the story and what it gives us, the camera is able to give us some pretty good angles. The director was able to use his imagination and really explore the possibilities. Also, it's not just a single camera. The film plays out in what a written story would call present tense. This is not a past tense, found footage film. To quote another film, "We're in now now. Everything that's happening now, is happening now." It just so happens that the method with which to show us this story is handheld cameras--whether it be video cameras, phones, security feed, etc. Some have complained that the film all but stops the style of filmmaking in the third act, but I disagree. I think that's when the movie is at its most creative with the style. I don't think the director is cheating in the style, but rather expanding on it and playing with it.

I won't say, though, that there was nothing wrong with the film. In fact, my main complaints are camera related. For instance, it's quite clear in some scenes, especially the rave near the beginning, that the shots we're getting are not possible based on how the camera is positioned. Like, there's a moment where we go back and forth between two cameras that are facing each other, but the one Andrew is holding is pointing off to the side. But when we see the camera's perspective, it would be pointing straight ahead. Things like that. Fortunately, that doesn't happen much, especially after they get their powers. And like a lot of films of this style, we're treated to some "Why would they take the camera there?" moments. Thankfully, most of these are explained through the use of all the other camera types that this film employs. But once or twice, it makes no sense--the hospital scene right before the climax, for instance. Why would they set up a camera right there? It makes no sense.

On the whole, though, I was blown away by this movie. I wouldn't be surprised if it ended up on my Top 10 of the year (probably closer to the 10 side, if this year is as great as I'm expecting it to be). But still, I really did love it. It was a mix of the style and playfulness of it and just the fact the story was about kids who gain superpowers, which is a dream for most boys (or, at least, me). And it was all portrayed pretty realistically. You might not appreciate it or even love it as much as I did, but it's a solid movie, and I think it'll be hard not to at least like it.

Rating System.
Royale With Cheese


V.G. Movies #5: Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie.

[Welcome back to the Evolution of Video Game Movies series. Every week, I will be moving forward through time, starting with the earliest and ending with the most recent of video game movies. I will be detailing the histories of the games and how the films came about, and both my and fan reaction to the adaptations. Practically all of my background information is either common knowledge or from Wikipedia. So without further ado, let's move on to the next film on the list.]


In 1987, video game company Capcom released an arcade fighting game entitled Street Fighter. Its basic story is that you're a guy named Ryu who has entered a martial arts tournament (or, if you're in 2-player mode, you can also be Ryu's former partner, Ken). You go through ten different fighters from different nations, leading up to the final boss, Sagat. The game got a generally warm reception. Nothing great, but nothing too bad. Though at least one place said it was a game that would never last.

So in 1991, they decided to release a sequel, Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, for the arcades (and eventually ported to the Super Nintendo and Mega Drive systems). The biggest offering this game had was the fact it gave players multiple characters to choose from, all with their own personal attacks and fighting styles (the first fighting game to do so). These characters included Ryu and Ken, as well as a stretchy yoga master named Dhalsim; a sumo wrestler named E. Honda; an electrified green creature named Blanka; a U.S. special forces op named Guile; a female policewoman seeking revenge named Chun-Li; and a Russian wrestler named Zangief.

Of course, the game needed some villains, and they came up with three. The primary villain was to be an African American boxer (an homage to Mike Tyson) named Mike Bison, shortened to M. Bison. But in order to avoid legal problems, Capcom shifted the names around. M. Bison was now the leader of an evil corporation called Shadaloo (and/or Shadowlaw) and has a "Psycho Power"; this character was originally named Vega. Vega had now become a Spanish cage fighter who uses ninjitsu and blades; this character was originally named Balrog. And Balrog, who had become the African-American boxer. Sagat also returned, now scarred from his previous fighter against Ryu.

Street Fighter II gained an immense popularity that led to a massive push in fighting games in the early 90s. This game was so good, a regular sequel wasn't enough. The game itself needed to be updated first... and multiple times, each adding something a little new (combos, graphics, etc.). The most important of which (at least to talk about here) was Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers. This game, which was released in 1993, introduced other important characters to the series such as T. Hawk, Cammy, Fei Long, and Dee Jay. And positive reception was inevitable.

Also inevitable was a film version... of which there were two. But before the one you all know came a Japanese anime film called Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie (which actually inspired one of the game sequel series', Alpha, taking many elements from the movie into the games). Although widely considered the most superior Street Fighter movie, it isn't without controversy. All U.S. versions, at least upon initial release, were toned down on both language and an explicit shower scene involving Chun-Li. However, in 2008, Netflix made the fully uncensored version readily available through its services, making it the first service to have the completely uncut version available on demand. So let's review this bad boy.


I played Street Fighter II in the arcade when I was younger, but not a whole lot. But I do have a basic knowledge of the characters and their attacks. This film picks up at essentially the end of the first game, with Ryu defeating Sagat. Then it skips ahead in time where the Shadowlaw, led by M. Bison, have created android scouters to travel the globe watching the best street fighters out there, gaining their stats, so they can find the toughest and brainwash them into becoming terrorists. Bison brings in some help in the form of Balrog, Vega, and Sagat, as well, in his search to find the greatest fighter out there--Ryu. And they're not the only one, as Ryu's old friend, Ken, is also looking for him. Meanwhile, Interpol agent Chun-Li teams up with U.S. special forces op, Guile, to find M. Bison and bring him down.

They actually gave the film a good story that is mostly executed well... but it's not without its faults. A lot of the film seems like fan service (and I don't mean Chun-Li nudity... though there is that, too). We're treated to a lot of random street fights where the scouter androids are watching them, taking their information. It was a way to bring in all of the game's characters, but with maybe one or two exceptions, it meant absolutely nothing in the overall film. The only one that actually comes back into the story with a purpose is E. Honda. But the likes of Dhalsim, Blanka, Zangief, T. Hawk, Cammy, Fei Long, and Dee Jay were nothing more than glorified cameos. (OK, Cammy has a little more purpose, setting up the brainwashing plot, but then disappears from the film altogether.) Balrog doesn't get all that much, either.

The American translation and/or voice acting was both a positive and a negative. The voice actors were good, particularly M. Bison, whose voice reminded me a lot of James Earl Jones and was pretty good casting. However, where the film slipped was in some of its dubbed dialogue. There are maybe three or so moments throughout the movie that are essentially just small talk... and they are so awkward. It's just like they put in random conversations just to match the lip movement, but it comes out as stilted with strange pauses and... just weird.

The animation is rather excellent. Sometimes it's weird to see that they stuck to the video game appearances a little too closely, making for some strange clothing choices or hair styles, but eventually you just let that go. Anyway, there are a few scenes that really showcase both the animation and the violence. The first is the opening scene, actually, which is a good five minutes long that culminates into a great title card shot. Another is the climax battle against M. Bison. This scene was a mix of good animation, action, and storytelling. It was just overall well done.

But the best scene in the film, hands down, is the one that begins with Chun-Li in the shower. Now before you roll your eyes, let me explain. The animation of her in the shower does this slow fade in and out with the surrounding location, showing her apartment building and the apartment itself. It slowly builds tension as Guile tries to contact her... and we realize someone is there to kill her. She comes out and starts fixing her hair... then BAM, Vega attacks. It's a fantastic slow build of suspense followed by what I feel is the greatest action scene in the film. The fight between Chun-Li and Vega is outstanding both in style and in animation. It doesn't shy away from anything, whether that means brutality, blood, or shots of her bra and panties from underneath her night-shirt. This is an R-Rated battle, intense and sometimes disturbing, and it's a heck of a lot of fun.

So yes, I would have to say that I'm in agreement with most others. Of the three Street Fighter films available, this is definitely the best. It's not perfect, but it provides everything a Street Fighter movie should have. There's good action, plenty of familiar faces and attacks, and a good story with a little emotion behind it. And the best part is that it doesn't try to dumb itself down. There's blood, cussing, and nudity, and it's not ashamed of any of that.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

(P.S. For the longest time, I always thought this was an animated sequel to the live action film. Of course, I eventually realized it was just a film version of the game Street Fighter II. But still... it's weird putting the II in the title when it's not a sequel in and of itself.)


The Vlog: Season 4, Episode 6 (A Task).

I know, I know, it's later than usual. But I was having supreme difficulties with The Demented Podcast over the last couple days, as most of you are probably aware by now. I barely got that sorted out in time to get it posted yesterday--and it was still messed up (I didn't get that up and fully functional until after 3 AM). Long story short here, I was left with no time to work on The Vlog until today.

I discovered two weeks ago that it's particularly hard to come up with enough quality content for non-Story Time episodes while being a stuffed animal to fill up a 5-minute episode. But this week, I discovered something to do, and I think it works well. And I hope all of you enjoy this episode! Let me know what y'all think in comments (please)!


The Demented Podcast #33 - Paul Sorvino? What the F*@#!

EDIT: Alright... I think it should all be working now. Sorry if you had to deal with the non-functional audio version. But everything is finally up and working properly now.


This season has not been kind to us so far. Among a handful of scheduling issues, we've had all the technical issues for the last couple of episodes. And it's not stopping yet. Due to something happening to the original file (which worked fine), I could not get anything converted to an .mp3 file so I could edit it. No matter what I tried, it wouldn't work. Fortunately, in steps Jason Soto... who also couldn't get it to work. But what he was able to do was to get two separate files--one with just my voice and one with everybody else. So overlapping the two files, I was able to create the one file and finally get to work on editing (which took about 3-4 hours in and of itself). However, on top of that, during the actual recording, Steve had a familial emergency and--for the second time in three episodes this season--had to miss The Tower. That's why he suddenly disappears from the episode during that segment.

But before any of that, we discuss (not-really) musicals with Joanna Chlebus of Reel Feminist. After we get to know her a little bit more, we discuss All That Jazz and Repo! The Genetic Opera. This is probably one of our longest episodes, as we had a lot to say about both films. But Joanna's bubbly personality made it a great time all around and we went through it like a breeze (the overall file was over 2 hours long, but I cut it down to what it is now).

Anyway, after our discussions, we get into The Tower. Like most others, she was pretty terrified... but how did she do? Listen to find out!

Current Leadboard
1) Jandy - 107 Points
2) Jessica - FAIL

Current/Previous Battle Royale Champions

(BR3) Dan Heaton - 176 Points
(BR2) Dylan Fields - 114 Points
(BR1) Rachel Thuro - 171 Points

You can listen to this episode on the player below or by subscribing through iTunes.

That being said, enjoy! Thanks goes out to Kevin MacLeod's Incompetech website for great, royalty-free music. And thanks to Google for helping me find a website that will give me free video game audio samples.


50/50 Review #4: Videodrome.

I've only seen a couple Cronenberg films, but I'm always impressed... and a weirded out. And this one... well, it's not an exception. Max (James Woods) runs a kind of porn channel and is looking to up the ante. But after he's pointed in the direction of a snuff show called Videodrome, Max somehow begins hallucinating until he completely loses it and can no longer discern fantasy from reality.

This film is kind of like a mix between eXistenZ and Hellraiser. It's bizarre, twisted, gross, and full of sex and S&M. You have some classic 80s disturbing prosthetic work that looks infinitely better and more sickening (in a good way) than any CGI today. Its trippy-ness and nightmare-ish qualities really make it unique and mesmerizing. Because the film is through Max's perspective, you're never quite sure, just as Max isn't sure, what's real and what's fake, making the whole cinematic experience quite surreal.

The movie isn't perfect, though. The message of "TV will destroy our future" is blatant and beats us over the head repeatedly. It gets kind of annoying, which is a shame. When it's something more like Requiem for a Dream, it works better. But here, it's too much and too in-your-face. On top of that, everything outside of the message is moderately confusing, albeit intriguing.

Anyway, I don't have too many thoughts on the film. To me, the film is all (creepy, wacked-out) style over substance. And like I said, it's not that it has no substance, it's just that it tries too hard in that regard. So if you're going to check this out, do it for the visuals and the mind trip. It's totally in the bizarro Cronenberg style, so if you like his other early stuff, you'll dig this. Like I said, it's not perfect, but it'll keep your attention.

I Am McLovin!


V.G. Movies #4: Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture.

[Welcome back to the Evolution of Video Game Movies series. Every week, I will be moving forward through time, starting with the earliest and ending with the most recent of video game movies. I will be detailing the histories of the games and how the films came about, and both my and fan reaction to the adaptations. Practically all of my background information is either common knowledge or from Wikipedia. So without further ado, let's move on to the next film on the list.]


As previously stated, the only company to come out of the big crash relatively unscathed was Nintendo. So it was no surprise that at least one company would team up with them to better their own chances of survival in the long run. One such company was SNK. But whereas Nintendo was focused on home console efforts, SNK was more focused on arcade systems (with the occasional port to a home system). So while home gamers were playing Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, SNK put out a system of their own called the Neo Geo.

Now, the Neo Geo was both an arcade system and a home system, and it had a number of popular titles that came from it. A few years prior, though, a man named Takashi Nishiyama developed a game for a company called Capcom titled Street Fighter. While not incredibly popular in its time, it was solid enough to earn a sequel. But at the same time Takashi was developing Street Fighter II, he simultaneously developed another fighting game for SNK and the Neo Geo entitled Fatal Fury.

The game's backstory introduced the world to a crime boss named Geese Howard, who ran a martial arts tournament called the "King of Fighters" in the fictional South Town. Geese kills a rival named Jeff Bogard, and 10 years later, Jeff's sons Terry and Andy (and their friend Joe) enter the tournament for revenge. The series spawned numerous sequels and even a couple spin-off games, including Art of Fighting and King of Fighters, which take place in the same setting and tournament and include some of the same characters. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

The first sequel, Fatal Fury 2, was released in the arcade in December 1992. It introduced five new playable characters and some new moves. However, roughly two weeks after its release, an anime TV special called Fatal Fury: Legend of the Hungry Wolf was released in Japan based on the original game. And it did well enough to warrant a sequel itself with another anime TV special, Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle, which came out the following year.

Of course, a motion picture was in order eventually, and it's animated. But here's the weird part. It's not a direct adaptation of any of the games. In fact, it actually follows the continuity of the two TV specials... but it's mostly a self-contained story. So considering I knew absolutely nothing of the games, the characters, the stories, the TV specials, or anything really in regards to this series prior to this article... how does the film hold up to the completely uninitiated?


Let me start off by saying I wasn't put in the best of mindsets with this film going into it. To start, again, I knew nothing of the games until I did my preliminary research. And even then, I still don't think I learned all that much. But that can easily be forgiven if the movie is done well enough. After all, there are plenty of things based on a source material I know nothing of that I enjoy. But then there came the point of me having to watch the movie... only to discover that neither Netflix, iTunes, or Amazon had it for rent in any form or fashion. OK... that left it up to YouTube or other means. I guess I could deal with that. BUT... that's when I actually start watching it, and it becomes clear that, despite it being the first "motion picture" for the series, it does expect you to either have seen the two made-for-TV movies that came before it or have some base knowledge of the games. It really does not stand on its own. Now, keep all of that in mind as I review it. First, though, let's talk about the plot.

A young woman named Sulia shows up to a party asking for the help of brothers Terry and Andy Bogard. Her brother, Laocorn, is on a mission to find all the pieces of the magical armor of Mars. But the more armor he gets, the more inhuman and powerful he becomes, and the more control he loses. So now Sulia, along with Terry, Andy, their friend Joe, and a woman named Mai travel around the world to find the pieces of armor before Laocorn and his crew so they can stop him.

Believe it or not, despite the fact I hadn't seen the previous entries or played the games, I actually did quite like the story. It had a lot of potential. Still, there were quite a few moments when they referenced past events or times when characters popped up as if you should know who they are. This was aggravating. But the story itself for this film was pretty good.

It was the execution of it all that failed. The dialogue, for starters, was painful. The characters spoke awkwardly and not even remotely like a person would speak. Then half the time, it was just exposition. But even the normal conversations were just bad. The voice actors themselves were anywhere from decent to misguided. The voice for Laocorn--the big, bad villain--wasn't frightening whatsoever. Besides all that, I just had a hard time connecting with any of the characters. I really didn't care about any of them. Also, the female characters (except for the one villain one) were just there for fan service. It was funny to see how they would lose more and more clothing as the film went on. But their only other reason for existing was to either give exposition or be a love interest.

Then you have the action. For a movie based on a fighting game, the action was lacking. When there were fight scenes, they were really short and not entirely fulfilling. The better ones came in toward the end, but even then, it was the same moves over and over. There's only so many times Terry's super-punch move is impressive. Laocorn's three helpers did have some interesting moves, though, as they could control the elements.

On a more positive note, the animation was good. Even in those action scenes, despite any repetitiveness, it looked impressive. The only downside to the animation were those moments where animators got lazy and people in the background of a scene just weren't moving. Otherwise, though, the look of the film was good for its time.

So really, unless you're a big Fatal Fury fan, I wouldn't bother with the film. It isn't bad, and it has quite a bit of potential, but it never quite reaches it. But for somebody who isn't a fan and hasn't played the games or seen the prior two TV films, this film was just plain average. Not good, not terrible. Though sometimes that can be the worst kind of film.

Feed Me, Seymour!

(P.S. Normally I would say that I probably wouldn't remember a thing about this film by the time this project was over; however, one of the last movies I'll be reviewing is The King of Fighters, based on a spin-off game of Fatal Fury... wherein a couple of these same characters will appear again, but live action.)


The Vlog: Season 4, Episode 5 (Story Time #2 - The Princess Bride).

Sorry to everybody waiting around for this at midnight. I know it's slightly late, but hey... it's only an hour late. Anyway, this episode gets particularly meta... mostly because of the scene that's happening, the dialogue being spoken with the characters, and the "actors" playing them. You'll see what I mean. But I don't think I could have had a more perfect setup.

So I hope you enjoy it, and let me know what you think! (I know all of you are watching this instead of the Superbowl, right?)


MonthWatch - January 2012.

It seems everybody else on the planet is doing this, so why not me, too? Actually, Jason Soto said he was gonna do it right before the start of the new year, so I started just in time right along with him. I'm going to keep a monthly tally of the movies I've both watched for the first time and as re-watches. I think it'll be interesting to see what all I've watched at the end of the year and how many. That being said, let's do it.



Splice - For DemPod. It's decent.
Drive Angry - In preparation for my Top 10 list. It's still awesome.
I Saw the Devil - In prep for my Top 10. Love it.
Attack the Block - In prep for my Top 10. Love it.
The Evil Dead - For LAMB Movie of the Month. Great stuff.
Suburban Knights - Because it's hilarious and nerdy and awesome.
Star Trek - Loads of fun.
Crazy Stupid Love - In prep for my Top 10. Love it.
X-Men: First Class - I had owned the Blu-Ray since it came out and decided it was finally time to pop it in. It's really good, though I've never really gasmed over the X-Men films.
SE7EN - I was up for some awesome serial killer action.
Midnight in Paris - In prep for my Top 10. Yeah... love it.
Cloak & Dagger - Video Game Movie series. Way too dark for a kid's flick.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - For DemPod. Love it!
Cube - I was in the mood for it ever since watching Splice.
Office Space - Needed to let off some work steam.
The Game - Went kind of on a Fincher kick this month, and I really dig this film.
EuroTrip - After I decided I was going abroad, I was put in the mood for this. Scotty Doesn't Know!
Super Mario Bros. - Video Game Movie series. Still not as bad as people say.
The Social Network - Bought it on Blu-Ray right after it came out. Just watched it. Still cool.
Spider-Man - More Raimi... wanted some light superhero stuff, and this fit the bill.
A Clockwork Orange - I believe this marks the first rewatch of a 60/60 film; ironic that it'd be a Kubrick. I loved this the first time, and I still love it.
Spider-Man 2 - Just basically continued the next night. They're super cheesy, but fun.
Repo! The Genetic Opera - For DemPod. Love it.
Tangled - I wanted something super light and fun, so this hit the spot.


Griff the Invisible - Really fun soundtrack, but an only so-so film.
Pete Smalls is Dead - Great "that guy" cast. Not a great movie.
Silent Running - For DemPod... oh dear God, that music...
Chillerama - An anthology flick with a good first part, awful middle, and brilliant end.
Contagion - For MILF. Eh.
The Guard - Decent.
Flatliners - Talk about a random choice... it was alright.
Killer Elite - Eh.
Moneyball - For MILF. I really liked it, despite the fact it was about math and baseball.
Creepshow 3 - For Lair of the Unwanted... not painful, but still bad.
Neverending Story 3 - For Lair... I hate you, Jason.
Going by the Book - A really fun foreign heist flick with a great concept. Slightly flawed, but still good.
Jackie Brown - For 50/50. It was alright.
L.A. Confidential - For DemPod. Took a while, but I liked it.
Ides of March - For MILF. I really dug it.
Super Mario Bros.: The Great Mission To Rescue Princess Peach! - For the V.G. Movie series... totally trippy.
Best Worst Movie - A fun, though sometimes sad, look into the "where are they now" of Troll 2 cast and crew.
The Expendables - Painfully average.
Dirty Harry - For 50/50. I dug it.
50/50 - I really liked it. Thought about putting it on Top 10, but decided against.
Real Steel - For MILF. I was very surprised by it and ended up really enjoying it.
Hausu - For 50/50. One of the biggest WTF movies I've ever seen.
The Thing (2011) - Starts off making me wonder why everybody thought it wasn't very good. Then I found out.


Theatrical - 0
Re-Watch - 24
First Time - 23
TOTAL - 47


50/50 Review #3: Hausu.

Even Lewis Carroll would watch this movie and go "Dude, lay off the drugs." I've been warned numerous times in the past how insanely weird this movie is, but I still wasn't prepared. Released in 1977, Hausu is about 7 nicknamed friends in a haunted house, essentially. Gorgeous' father is getting married to a new woman, and she's going on vacation with them. Gorgeous refuses to go with them and instead takes her friends to stay at her aunt's house in the countryside. So Gorgeous, Fantasy, Mac, Melody, Kung Fu, Prof, and Sweet (and Gorgeous' new cat, Blanche), must face the insanity of the old house and the evils within trying to kill them. And what we're given is one whacked-out comedy/horror film.

I'm literally at a loss for words. The closest description I can really give is... just imagine if Sam Raimi set out to make a bizarre Japanese-style horror/comedy homage to David Lynch from the start, but then took as much acid and shrooms while filming as humanly possible without overdosing. Then multiply that image by about 50, and you'll probably have a rough idea of what this movie is kinda like. Because honestly, there's no way to prepare yourself for this movie. You just have to see it to believe it, and even then you still might not believe it. I won't even bother trying to explain how it's weird or give examples, because it's in the very essence of the film in every second of every frame. I've never seen anything like this before.

To be fair, through all its incoherency, it at least tells a somewhat coherent story (somewhat). It's mainly your basic haunted house story... kind of. The characters each have their own distinct personalities, as well. While not the main character, the best character is easily Kung Fu. She's hot and has mad fighting skills and really knows how to fight chandeliers and logs and... anything else that attacks them. It also doesn't hurt that in pretty much the entire second half of the film, she's in essentially panties the entire time. They could have been super-short short shorts. It was hard to tell with everything going on. Point is, Kung Fu was a fun character.

Another thing that really threw me off was that there's a main theme to this movie that repeats throughout the film (and they even play it on piano at numerous points). It's very reminiscent (and I mean very) of the main theme from Up (like the one played during the opening montage sequence). And to play that in this movie while bringing back memories of that film... was an even more surreal mental experience.

I have to stop now, because there's nothing else I can tell you. If you're up for a weird movie (understatement), I definitely suggest it. And even though it's totally bizarre, I didn't find it off-putting. I was completely drawn into it, wondering what was going to happen next. It kept me on my toes. This is a movie where literally anything can happen--anything. And I'm sure if I ever rewatched it, I'd find even more stuff that I missed this time through. Hell, had I not been paying as close of attention as I was, I probably would have missed the laughing watermelon in the background of one scene. Yeah. So... if you're up for it, check it out. I'll just end repeating something from another review I saw elsewhere: Do not watch this movie while on drugs; that'll probably kill you.