Category Archives: Movie Rants

Bendy

I’m super looking forward to Captain America: Winter Soldier and am glued to every little image that comes out for it. They just released these new posters, and I had two immediate reactions to this one:

If you're into that sort of thing.

The first was: aHOOOOga *pant pant pant*

The second was: hold up, how did a Black Widow image that doesn’t feature her twisting her torso to show every single part of her anatomy off at the same time slip through? Someone is losing their job over this.

(Neither here nor there, I still can’t give my daughter a Black Widow toy because they all have her toting giant guns. If someone could fix that next, I’d appreciate it.)

Anyway, you should go see Her, because it is incredigood and I’m not sure why anyone would have the gall to ever make another movie about relationships again.

Deep Inside

I managed to get out and see Inside Llewyn Davis this weekend and it’s fantastic. A must-see for anyone involved in the artistic endeavors. It covers the hunger to create something great, the struggle to survive off that hunger in a society that’s largely bent against the commodification of creativity, and the inevitable failures most of us will experience in the attempt. How rare it can be to find that person who fits you and gets you, creatively. It’s a devastating movie.

Partial-soundtrack-cover-for-Inside-Llewyn-Davis-photo-Nonesuch-458x276

So, yeah. Go see it. But it’s a Coen film, so I didn’t really need to tell you that, right?

Angry, but also Good

Not angry, exactly. It didn’t make me mad like Iron Man 3 did (fucking Mandarin bullshit! ahem). Poor word of mouth prepared me. At this point I’m pretty much resigned to only getting one good DC-based super movie a decade. Batman Begins was 2005, so we’re still waiting for one in the 2010s.  (We didn’t get one in the ’90s at all, actually, but at least we had the Batman animated series.)

But Man of Steel is pretty shitty. Whoever cut the trailer knows more about Superman than the filmmakers do. I won’t spend too much time on it, because it took me forever to find time to see it and everything I’m thinking has been said already. Was Green Lantern better?

Maybe.

I can think of no greater insult. That movie had a yellow poop monster but Sinestro was pretty cool. Six of one…?

Superman (1978) is one of the only things ever made that can make me cry. When he first saves Lois. That gets me every time, damn his eyes.  And this.

If this doesn’t give you chills I don’t. What planet are you from? Well, stop being a jerk.

This was one of the first movies I got on Blu Ray and it’s gorgeous. The color pops. The city comes to life. It’s fantastic.

The original has its share of problems, like the earth-spinning thing and Luthor’s lame scheme, Lois’s poetry, etc. But it got way more right than it got wrong.

Anyway, Man of Steel took all that greatness, all the things we love about Superman, and threw it out the window in exchange for a generic science fiction action movie featuring a guy who can do Superman-type stuff.

I did like Jor-El. I always have a soft spot for stories of the ass-kicking super scientist dad of Krypton. And also Faora and her cool helmet.

 

I have more personality than everyone else in the movie and I’m only on screen like 5 minutes.

I find it’s a common mistake by people unfamiliar with the archetype to think that the powers are what’s important about superheroes. Man of Steel reeks of that attitude. “Let’s have this happen, because we can. This guy can punch a building right? Have him punch a building fifty times.” That stuff is just 37 pieces of flair though. As with all fiction, it’s the character that matters.

I don’t think people understand that the action is often the least exciting part of a comic book.

I don’t know why we can’t get great Superman movies. There are blueprints already made for you, Hollywood. They will cost you less than whatever you paid the jackasses who wrote this one. I can send you a list.

What’s the good part? you ask. Oh, well I had a new story accepted by the good folks over at Every Day Fiction. They’ve done a great job helping me refine these latest couple of stories, and I have to thank them for that (and also the writing group, as always).

So look for “For the Empire” on July 12. You might hate me for it. It is scathing if you read it right.

(I just got done ranting about how a movie failed to deliver a likeable character and now I’m telling you about my story, which features the least likeable human being I’ve ever written. So it goes.)

Star Cares

I was thoroughly satisfied by Star Trek Into Darkness. It’s not perfect, but I had a blast and it mostly hit all the right emotional beats for me. It’s pretty much impossible to talk about it further without spoiling things for anyone who hasn’t seen it, and what’s the point anyway? I liked it. You might, too! Or you might not! I hear some people liked Prometheus, so all bets are off at this point.

At the very least I think we can agree that Zoe Saldana needs to be speaking more Klingon, amIright?

Speaking of star-based franchise paradigms, I don’t think I’ve ever really talked about Star Wars much here. Like all right-thinking people, I grew up on Star Wars and it influenced me massively. Then the prequels and the over saturation and the 3rd or 15th special editions came out and over the past decade or so I’ve gone from voracious consumer to completely apathetic Star Wars nihilist.

Occasionally I smirk at a Star Wars reference, but that’s about it.

With news that the rights have changed hands and sequels are in the making, I felt the stirrings of the ancient ways, though. Just a little. No more Lucas means fresh creative talent, new editorial, new artistic blood. And this is what Star Wars needs more than anything.

Rather than go on and on about it, I’ll just compile a few bits of art that remind me of how awesome Star Wars can be. Will it be this? Probably not. But it’s nice to dream. This is more about tone and artistic style than a particular story or character. You’ll want to expand these.

I didn't buy it until I saw this.
Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, by Phil Noto
Classic Ralph McQuarrie. Can't beat the original.
Classic Ralph McQuarrie. Can’t beat the original.

 

Unless maybe you're Frank Quitely
Unless maybe you’re Frank Quitely
Funky Beats, by Jim Mahfood
Funky Beats, by Jim Mahfood

 

 

There. Done. I assume someone out there is listening. We’ve laid it out for you.

Game over

I finally got out to see Prometheus this past weekend. I had always wondered why they stopped making Alien movies after the second one. It’s a universe rich with unfulfilled potential.

I hear there’s an alternate Earth where this happened. I’m glad to not live there!

The trailer for Prometheus is a thing of beauty. The score! The visuals! Fassbender! The delectable hints at the Giger aesthetics that made the original Alien and Aliens so cool. Even more rewarding was sitting next to someone who was seeing the trailer for the first time, unaware that there was a new Alien movie even being made, and watching the realization dawn on their unsuspecting face.

There’s a lot the movie does right. The ideas are grand, which is something we’ve largely been missing from science fiction over the past few years (in favor of apocalyptic survival movies). It’s beautiful. The tense scenes are tense, the horrible fucked up scenes are suitably horrific. The cast is great. I thought the movie ended on a pretty cool note.

But everything is undermined by the fact that the heroes (for lack of a better word) are incompetent buffoons. The team of scientists on board the ship, looking to investigate the possible origins of life, are simply bad scientists. They go to this planet on little more than a hunch, then blunder around blindly until everything goes wrong and they start dying. That’s fine for a bunch of Everymen like the Dallas’s crew in Alien, but less excusable for professional explorers.

There are certainly bad scientists in the world – they’re human like the rest of us after all. And it could certainly be interesting to have that sort of character flaw – a scientist who lets their personal beliefs override the scientific method, with disastrous results. But to have a whole team of them just be incompetent was too much. It pretty much ruined the movie for me.

Also, remember how I was awesome and mysterious before? Turns out I’m just a big asshole, and I grunt a lot.

There are other, smaller things that bugged me that I won’t get into, but this was the most glaring thing. So overall I was pretty disappointed in the movie. It makes me sad. But I like some of the ideas enough that I’ll probably see the sequels if they get to make them. I think a little more exploration of the themes they introduced here would be great with a smaller, less stupid cast.

Assemble’d

I feel silly even talking about The Avengers at this point, because there’s hardly anyone left who hasn’t seen it. Suffice to say, it is awesome, and I look forward to seeing it many times more. Usually there’s things I can nitpick, or some serious flaw I feel another script revision could have fixed, but I can’t bring myself to even think about Avengers this way. There wasn’t a moment when my wife looked over and there wasn’t a gigantic jackassian grin on my face. Maybe with time I’ll be able to step back from it a bit, but for now it’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had watching a film.

The last two thirds of the movie was like this over and over again:

So, yeah. Happy.

Barsoom’ed

Finally got out to see the John Carter movie. I’d heard it was good from various trusted sources, and this was bolstered by Michael Chabon’s appearance in the credits for the screenplay, but went in with mild expectations. The movie is a blast, really fun. It’s not perfect, and I think it helped a lot that I just read the book, but I had a good time. It’s unfortunate that the domestic box office isn’t good (some combination of bad marketing and competition from The Hunger Games, I guess?), but the international intake has been huge, so maybe we’ll be lucky and get a sequel.

I was impressed by how much they kept of the book. There were things cut and tightened for time, but overall most of the important beats were left in.

In the not-so-great consumption of media, I tried to read (audiobook during my commute, rather) Micro, Michael Crichton’s last book, finished by Robert Preston and released posthumously. I’m a fan of shrinking people stories, and NPR gave it a good review, and, hey, the Jurassic Park movie was awesome. I gave up around the time it should have been getting good because the writing was so atrocious. Not just a bad story full of holes or poor characterization, but just outright horrific prose. I’ve been told his earlier stuff is better, but it would have to be. Sheesh. Seriously, it’s probably the worst book I’ve read in a long time. And I hadn’t really heard about Crichton’s anti-science rants before, so I was a little surprised by the climate-denying prologue and the generally bad presentation of the scientific community. More than a little disappointing.

I have traded it out for the Game of Thrones audiobook; though I have generally grown weary of these sorts of high king stories, the television series has sucked me in.

Turtle Power

So, the tubes are afire with news of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

I am a HUGE Turtles fan. I was a kid when they hit the big time, the target demographic for the cartoon series. Later I got the now-rare collections of the original comics and loved them even more, because the comics were actually even more bizarre and fun than the cartoons. I played all the video games. I enjoyed the original movie and I think it holds up decently despite the cheese. I had a poster of them on my wall well into my 20s and still have that poster somewhere, because it’s totally badass. I have one of the totally awesome Leonardo figures they came out with a couple years ago. Of the various franchises I grew up with (GiJoe, Transformers, etc.), the Turtles are probably my most beloved.

People are outraged because of potential changes to the Turtles’ origin story. Well, I, for one, do not care. They can change all they want.

Because it’s being made by Michael Bay, and the film is going to be a giant pile of shit no matter what. There is nothing in his history of film that tells me otherwise. His Transformers weren’t even recognizable, much less watchable.

I am already tired of the internet machine and all the “debates” that are going to be raging from now until after the movie comes out. Uh. Just sick of it. We all need to just agree it’s going to be horrible now and then completely ignore it from here on out.

Please? Internet? Just this once?

Shielded

Managed to sneak out and see Captain America: The First Avenger this weekend. Loved it. They nailed the characters, the mood, everything. The performances were spot on. The action is fun. And if you’ve been paying attention to the Iron Man and Thor movies, there are lots of little tie-ins to neatly place these movies all in the same universe.

Not that it’s perfect. It could have used another trip through the editing room – some of the action scenes could have been trimmed, and the USO tour was way too long. I would have liked more Bucky, and a more epic…destiny for him.

I also would have liked them to push the Nazi superscience a little more – a huge robot for Steve to bring down would have been a blast, and would have probably helped a general audience believe that this is a man who can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with guys like Iron Man and Thor. I think when the Avengers movie comes out, Cap is going to have to prove himself in a way he never had to in the comics.

But, overall, I really enjoyed the flick. Looking forward to seeing it at least once or twice more.

Blackest Night

I was going to write an elaborate, scene-by-scene savaging of this weekend’s Green Lantern, but then the A/C on our house died late Saturday. This unit is, I’m guessing, as old as the house, which by coincidence makes it about as old as I am.

Some of us in the business might call that foreshadowing.

But, yeah. Green Lantern. Yeesh. The Tomatometer has it at 26%, which if you ask me is being generous. The editing is choppy, the characterization off mark, and the script is a laundry list of amateur screenwriting mistakes that would make a first year semester day RTVF major blush. A full third of the movie and several of the major characters should have been cut entirely.

And the villain looks like big pile of poop.

When I get a chance I may pull up the script online somewhere and go through it in more detail, but for now, suffice to say it should be avoided if you at all value your opinion of Hal Jordan.

It was a delight to see the alien Green Lanterns – Kilowog, Tomar Re, and a bunch of the obscure ones (they even had this guy and her). And Mark Strong was great as the completely underused Sinestro.

Otherwise, though, this thing pretty much stunk on every level. I dearly wanted it to be good, but they just didn’t pull this one off.

Possibly the worst part of this failure is that, if the movie isn’t financially successful – I haven’t looked at the numbers yet – the studio will probably come to the wrong conclusion as to why it failed. As bad as it is, the movie is actually quite brave in not pulling its punches and making the story as cosmic and out there as it does. Most of the comic book movies hold back a little – bringing the costumes down to earth, cutting out the more bizarre aspects, etc. Green Lantern really didn’t do that, which is admirable. And that’s far from why the movie is bad. I just hope its failure doesn’t hinder future DC properties.