Sunday, March 8, 2009

Watchmen Review

Director- Zack Snyder
By the way- Spoiler Warning (that is, if you haven't read the book)

Arguably the most influencial piece of fiction in the past 20 years, Watchmen first started out in 1986 as a comic mini-series later published together as a Graphic Novel. Let's start out with the premise at the start, and see where we can find places that directly lifted from the comic. Masked heroes are outlawed and someone is picking them off (The Incredibles). Eventually, a plot is discovered to destroy part of New York City in order to unite the world in peace (Heroes: Season 1). However, what makes those two works different is that those stories were almost all about superheroes. With the exception of one character, these are people who decide to put on a mask and fight crime. Watchmen is about how those people would actually be like in such a world. Watchmen's answer- they'd be kinda fucked up. In that, the movie gets it right. In others.....not so much.

Let me start with the good:

The Opening Credits- Laying the setup for the world the audience is about to enter is flawless. A series of images of past heroes set to Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin' " gives you a sense of what is about to come. If this didn't work, the entire movie would fall flat.

Jackie Earle Haley- The guy is Rorschach, no doubt about it. Every little thing about him screams Rorschach. If there's any reason to watch the movie, it's him.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan- Playing The Comedian with enough charm and cynicism , JDM is...well, I don't want to say joy because some of the things his character does are atrocious, but he's another actor that should be watched in the future.

Billy Crudup- He's pretty much the voice of Doc Manhattan, and he does it extremely well. Making Doctor Manhattan sound distant and out of touch with humanity while still maintaining one last sliver of it. Well, he is the narrator of the Mastercard ads and the voice of Prince Ashitaka in the American Dub of Princess Mononoke.

Parts of the Soundtrack- I've already said about Bob Dylan's song, but there's another song that he wrote that's also in the film. "All Along the Watchtower" as played by Jimi Hendrix. But to be fair, I could hear that music with a guy reading a book, I'd really enjoyed it. Another is the use of Simon and Garfunkel's "Sound of Silence" during Edward Blakes funeral.

The "What the Fuck?" Department:

The Sex Scene on Archie- It's not so much a complaint as more a statement of confusion. I like seeing more of Malin Akerman any day, but what did it show? That Dan can get an erection? That could have been done without the sex scene especially with "Hallelujah" playing over it, which brings me to my next point.

Parts of the Soundtrack- That's the giant one but there's others that just feel out of place like Nat Cole's "Unforgettable." It just felt really out of place.

Ozymandias character change- In the novel, it's actually a surprise to find out that he's behind all the shit going on in the Watchmen universe, but in the film all that's missing is the mustache for Matthew Goode to twirl. Novel Ozzy- A brilliant man who believes that the ends justify the means to disasterous consequences. Film Ozzy- A smart pompous twat who believes that the ends justify the means to disasterous consequences.

The rest of the movie falls between decent and dull. But I'm going to elaborate on the Ozymandias character change. It's part of the dumbing down that occured. Don't get me wrong, parts of it had to be done. That's the only way Watchmen gets condensed into a near 3 hour movie. Some were just pointless and actually bothered me. In the novel, the character is actually human. There's this wonderful scene that when the plan goes through and millions are killed, Ozymandias asks Doctor Manhattan if what he did was good in the end, and the Doc answers something along the lines of "Adrian. Nothing ever ends," which I always read in the intonation of "Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids." That line is in the movie, but it was done poorly. And further dumbing down was the crazy action sequences. All these people should be like Chris Nolan's Batman: able to beat the crap out of people while still escaping minimally harmed. Not being able to punch a dude ten feet. It loses the idea that these people are only fucked-up dudes in tights. Now they're juiced-up, fucked-up dudes in tights. Finally, the last scene I'm going to talk about dumbing down that bothered me was Laurie finding out The Comedian was her father. I could go on a long diatribe about how the scene is better in the book than the movie (It is, btw), but I'll just go ahead and say it's the classic mistake of telling rather than showing.

Some last thoughts: I wasn't bothered by the ending change. It fit well enough, and the makers probably thought they were already asking the regular viewing audience a lot already (A blue dick? For cereal?), and maybe sending a giant squid into Manhattan, blowing it up, and blaming extraterrestrials which would unite the USSR and USA against a single enemy would have put them right over the edge. Also, despite my complaints, I enjoyed the film. I'm of the "Giant Blue Dick Watchmen Instead of No Watchmen" group. I'll see it again, and I'll probably buy the Director's Cut. Hopefully it'll add some things for explanation and take out some things that dumbed it down. Right now it's a:


Thursday, January 1, 2009

5 Best Brotherhood Friendships in TV

Getting back into the swing of things is a list of the aforementioned subject. By the way, there will be spoilers, so you have been warned (though if you automatically go to wikipedia after just getting into a tv show because of your damn curiosity, I guess I'm making the trip a little shorter).

1. Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo in Rome- They're number one on the list just because of how much shit they've been through, and how it could have gone so possibly wrong after the first episode, but it never does. Last thing's first, it starts out like some kind of weird buddy cop relationship set in the Roman period: Vorenus is a high ranking soldier while Pullo is a fuck-up drunk who only cares about killing people and fucking women and the two of them are paired to find Caesar's missing Golden Eagle (with crazy hijinks to ensue (well, more bloody than crazy, but still)). But it becomes so much more than that after it gets through the relationship's growing pains (Pullo keeps getting into trouble and it's up to Vorenus to fix it), when Pullo finds out about Vorenus's wife's infidelity and kills the guy in secret out of respect for his friend (It's Rome, a much simpler time. Also bloodier and more boobs (I just lost everyone because they went to Blockbuster to rent it now, didn't I?)) Then when Pullo becomes an assassin for hire and gets caught and put to death in the arena, Vorenus saves him from a giant out of love and brotherhood for his friend. And that's about half of it. They've each tried to kill each other at least once, and debated leaving the other for dead, and yet they still come back to each other. If this was on a network (read "lack of boobs and coitus"), the audience would have half a mind that they were gay for each other. It's a shame the series only lasted two seasons (HBO seasons, mind, which practically makes it one network season, except with the blood and boobs) because in a show that was mostly a political drama set in the Roman era, Vorenus and Pullo was the human face of it.

2. Angel and Wesley Windham-Price in Angel- Like the former, it started out with a jokey premise, except this time with actual jokes. Wesley was the clumsy dude, while Angel was the badass straight man making Wesley looking even more foolish. It wasn't bad, but it wouldn't be this high on the list if that was the only thing to their relationship. As the series progressed (brogressed?) Wesley started becoming more of a right hand man, not only helping with the research but the fighting as well. But even that wouldn't make it that high on his list. No what makes them on this is list is that Wesley stole Angel's kid, which resulted in Angel trying to kill him on his hospital bed, only for Wesley to save him after said kid left him at the bottom of an ocean. That's devotion right there.

3. Colonel Saul Tigh and Admiral William Adama in Battlestar Galactica- It was hard deciding #2 and #3, but after a few hours (ok, seconds) of deliberating within myself, baby snatching and almost killing> thinking your friend is human only to find out he's/it's a Cylon. If it was baby snatching or almost killing, this would have been #2 hands down, but since it's both, here it is. Like the Roman pair, these guys got the war buddy thing going on along with drinking buddy, that is when Tigh feels like drinking with people. Dude's the Lucille Bluth of the Galactica. And like the previous two, they've fought each other, once over a woman (though to be fair, one of them was drunk. I think you're smart enough to guess who) then shared a laugh about 30 seconds afterwards. Then again, when you're one of the last survivors of the human race, you can't really disown your friends unless you're a really antisocial fuck (who writes blogs that barely anyone reads- what?)

4. Ted Mosby and Marshall Ericksen in How I Met Your Mother- It started the first day of college when they were roomates. Marshall was stoned and thought that the pretentious Ted (who wore glasses because it made him "smarter") was the Dean for the first week. Ted was there for Marshall and his girlfriend (later fiance and even later wife) Lily's firsts: first time they met, first time they kissed, first time....other stuff (it's simple physics, if the top bunk moves, the bottom bunk moves also). They've never really fought, except for the time where they fought for the stuff in the apartment using swords on the walls. But that doesn't count because they kept commentating on how awesome it was (you know you wanted to also). Barney would be here, but he's done some....questionable acts (and Ted's ex) that disqualify him.

5. Sam, Sock, and Benji in Reaper- Life kinda blows when you're a grim reaper for the devil and there's no way to get out of it because your parents sold your soul to him in exchange for his father's health (that sentence came out well). But Sock and Benji make it bearable. Sock being the lovable screw up while Benji keeps Sam and Sock in line (I swear to God, I almost typed "it real." And for those who haven't seen the show, Benji's the Hispanic one). Even though it's Sam's job and could very well kill him (a fact that Sam states), Benji and Sock continue to help Sam in his job of capturing escaped souls. That's friendship right there.

Honorable Mention: Sam and Dean Winchester in Supernatural- I better pair of brothers on TV is a rare find, and they should have a spot on this list.....Except, they actually are brothers which disqualifies them just a bit.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

5 Things You Learn From Super Hero Movies aka Comics

1. It’s all fun and games until someone loses an uncle- So you’re flipping around thinking, “Yep, this is the best time of my life, nothing can go wrong” True, until you decide to be a dick which is where karma kicks in like a bitch and takes out a loved one. There is no way to prevent that. You're gonna be a dick and there's no stopping that. What you should do is take out huge life insurances on all your loved ones. It won’t matter that you can barely pay the premium; when your uncle kicks the bucket, you’ll be swimming in easy money. “Oh god, the humanity. why’d I have to be such a whiny bitch?” Oh yeah, that fat check coming in.

2. Never trust the mentor- I know what you’re thinking. “He taught me everything I know, why’d he want to kill me?” ‘Cause you’re being a bitch that’s why. “Oh my uncle’s dead” or “Oh I’m not an executioner” He’s gonna be “Grow a pair, ya puss, or better yet how about you join me so you hopefully become less of a puss and we rule the world together.” Except, you’re a puss, and you’re not going to. However, in this moment of the mentor’s weakness, take a gun and put two between the eyes. Two, because, odds are that fucker’s gonna live through the first one, and if you’ve only put in one, he’ll come back and make sure he’s impenetrable to bullets. No one gets up after two to the head.

3. Your friends are idiots- Where’d you find them? I got no clue. You say the end of the bus, but I’m pretty sure that compared to most buses, that place is the middle, if you get what I’m saying. They ride the short bus; they’re retarded. That’s what I’m saying. This is both a strength and a weakness. Strength being that you can be your normal self around them, then save their dumb ass when they get stuck in the tree and calm them down using the same exact voice, and they will never put two and two together. And I already stated the weakness; they’ll get themselves kidnapped for the 15th fucking time and you’ll wonder why the fuck they didn’t invest in a body guard or a taser or at least some fucking mace. Which brings me to number 4.

4. Your villains have no imagination whatsoever and are also fucking morons.- They might have an ingenious plan to kill you, but it’s the same fucking plan. “Yeah I’m gonna capture the dude’s girlfriend as to lure him into our trap.” Well, what’s the trap? Just kill him? How? He has fucking superpowers; what are you going to do, point a gun at her head and beat him to a bloody pulp? Eventually self-preservation’s going to kick in and say “kill the bitch, that way you two can have something in common in about 30 seconds.” Stick to fighting convenience store robbers: at least they have a reason to be unimaginative.

5. Never leave a paper trail to your other identity- You’re poor. You see an ad offering fat cash for pictures of the vigilante of the city aka you. You’re thinking “easy money.” No. Not so easy. Sure it is now. But then the villain comes on your (the “by day” ego) doorstep demanding where the fuck is the vigilante (refer to #4 in that they are fucking morons and also can’t put two and two together unless they see you put on the mask/ take it off with their own goddamn eyes) showing a paper with your name on the picture. Yep, you fail again. Because you should have had that life insurance plan when your uncle died and then you wouldn’t have needed that picture money.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Brick- Veronica Mars goes Indie aka Not Just Another In The Wall

After writing about a movie that I hated, now here's one that I have nothing but love for: Brick. It's independent in the truest sense of the word. It was so strange and weird idea (detectives and high school? Who knew?), that no one touched it. Well, they would, but Rian Johnson, the writer-director, would have to change a great deal of it. So he went "fuck you" (politely of course) and secured funding through friends, family, and friends of the family until he got the bare amount needed to make the film. Then it went to Sundance in 2005, got nominated and won a Special Jury Prize. It eventually got picked up by Focus and was released in limited in April 2006. Of course it was released in limited theaters because even though it had a ton of critical acclaim, how the hell are you going to market the damn thing? I mean, when I see "Detective in High School," I know I'm gonna go, "Fuck yeah man," but then you got these people (old people. At least, in my mind.) going, "what in garsh darn tarnation is that language they be speaking, Mort?" (See?). But it found me in DVD, and what a glorious day that was. I had an awesome job back then. Sitting on my ass in front of a computer, looking up Robot Chicken videos for 7.50 an hour. It was 8 hour days with 6 hours of doing that and 2 hours of actual work. So, on my lunch break, I head out to the nearest Blockbuster to rent it. Replacing "So, I threw the Senate at him" with "Throwing him to the bulls" for about 2 hours, I was immersed in this high school world that felt nothing like my own, yet in tone felt oddly similar. Because, when in high school, you feel like everything is life or death, and in Brick, every goddamn thing is life or death. Oh yeah, fuck! I forgot to tell the plot of story. Well, without giving much detail (I won't spoil anything past the trailer. I have way too much respect for this film to do that), Brick is about Brendan (Joseph Gordon Levitt, the dude from 3rd Rock and 10 Things I Hate About You, an underrated teen comedy) who finds his ex-girlfriend (Emily de Ravin, the pregnant girl on Lost) dead in a tunnel, and tries to find out who and why.
Now, Veronica Mars basically the same in the small screen (and maybe the big screen?) as Brendan does in this. I think the difference is that Veronica Mars is more Phillip Marlowe while Brendan leans more into Sam Spade. Both are Bogart, but there's a few subtle differences. Marlowe prefers to stand back from a distance to learn what's happened. Spade gets right into the middle of things to find out the real deal. Marlowe also has the mouth, not to say that Spade doesn't, but he prefers to use action. If I'm not making much sense, I'm probably talking out of my ass. I'm not really sure right now.
But back to Brick. Just so much good. The kids talk straight out of a Dashiell Hammet book, which is what Johnson wanted to do. He wanted to capture the spirit of his books. If I had to describe Brick in one sentence it'd be this: Miller's Crossing meets David Lynch but shot like a Spaghetti Western. This is one of my favorites. It may not be yours, but this flick hit me at the right place at the right time.

But, fair warning, if and when you see Brick, put on the subtitles the first time. The sound production crew did what they could, but it's still hard to hear the dialogue the first time around. Afterwards, you get the hang of listening to them, so it's not necessary on multiple viewings.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Babylon A.D.- Nothing I Write Will Prepare You

Before I go, I have to say a few things about my reviews. I believe that it's all about expectation. Go in low enough, and anything can be good. And vice-versa. For that reason, I usually go into a movie with little expectation and give mostly positive reviews with the worst being "I'm never seeing it again, but I don't mind that I spent an hour and a half in there."

This is the exception. (Saving Private Ryan Spoiler later on. I'm going to go ahead and assume you don't care about this waste of celluloid. If you do, don't.)

Dear. God. Where to start? Let's go with the good. There was a decent idea in there. For the first two acts, it's straight up cyberpunk. Instead of a paper passport, you inject nanomachines in your body. Commercialization everywhere, such as Coca-cola owning an airline. But they threw that down the shitter around the beginning of the third act, but more on that later. But it's party for that reason that I hate it even more. I love cyberpunk. Ghost in the Shell, the first Matrix. Anyone serious getting into cyberpunk should see Ghost in the Shell and the series it's based off of, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (not a continuance, but an alternate time-line kind of deal). That is some really good stuff, and a conversation about another day. Would I love to see more of it? Hell yes. This mistreated? Fuck no. And since this thing has completed bombed critically already, it's going to be harder for better, well thought out cyberpunk scripts to be made. I'm hesitant for the recently announced GITS live-action movie to say the least.

The bad. Hmmm...

Oh yes. Vin Disel. Don't get me wrong. When the man acts, the guy can act. I mean, whatever happened to Saving Private Ryan? It's like a fucking analogy for his entire career. Still hasn't put himself back together again like The Iron Giant did. I want that to be the analogy for his next role. Because I have no idea what made him do this. Apparently the script was good the first time, until the producers fucked it up, so maybe that's why he did it. But once he got the new script he went, "Save [the movie]. What for?" What for, indeed. He and everyone else looked like they did it for the money. But compared to the girl he's supposed to transport, he's looks fucking Oscar worthy (then again, that might be because of the whole disability thing. Wait, he actually talks like that? Nevermind. Low blow, I know *shrug*).

Aurora is, by far, the most annoying creature to have ever graced a screen. From her on out she'll be called Jar Jar Tam (JJT) because it's like they took the insanity of River Tam and the STFU annoyance of Jar Jar and fused them DBZ style, thus making both their traits 10 fold stronger. Here's a line of dialogue- "We protected each other like a family. We're all going to die in New York." The fuck?! Oh and get this, whenever Vin kills someone, JJT makes a shrill worse than nails on a chalkboard come out of her ungodly mouth. It's like you're in the stadium watching Barry Bonds hit a homer, then a guy taps you on the back going "You know he's not natural, right?" No, no I didn't. I didn't notice the pictures of Barry 20 years ago and Barry squared now the 50 fucking times they showed it on Sportscenter. But a more "The fuck?!"" moment is towards the end on the day that Vin dies (his name is Toorop, but I feel even more silly typing that out). JJT says "I need you to live" then proceeds to shoot him in the chest, thus killing him. The fuck?

Now we get to the crippling beginning of the 3rd act. Now, admittedly, I was like "You know, this is pretty mediocre, but it's not comepletely unwatchable." Oh how naive I was. Just a fair warning about the complete idiocracy of this moment, even though this sentence will not prepare you for the huge shit your brain will have after you read the next sentence. Apparently JJT's "father" was kicked out of the medical/religious (they never specify I didn't care enough to verify) society for trying to put artificial intelligence in babies.

Still here? Didn't have an epileptic fit? I wish I could add something to that but I can't. I'm going to try. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE? IN BABIES?




And that's pretty much word for word. Maybe if they had worded it better it wouldn't have been so "left side of the brain looks at the right side of the brain and says 'it's dark in here, and we may die,' " but still. That is mind numbingly awful. I'd rather see a slightly shitty snowmobile action scene than hear that, oh wait, I had my cake and ate it too. Fuck.

Not sure if you got that, but save your money for a book. And save your brain cells for an alcholic stupor not that I support binge drinking.

So here we go

For the fuck of it (what else am I going to do? I can't look at porn all day; I DON'T WANT TO GO BLIND!), I set this up to review movies, comment on some movie news and post some stories I wrote sporadically over the past year to put out on teh internets. If you dig it, woohoo. If you're like "Fuck you, that is clownshoes," I'll be like, "well, you read it so who's the dumb sumbitch now?" Still me? Probably. You can thank (or blame) Babylon A.D. for this (and man, is it getting a shit ton of well deserved hate. More on that later.) Still here? Cool. I'm gonna wait a while to fully collect my thoughts on Babylon A.D. (Ironic, I know. Thoughts on a brainless movie. Dammit, I'm getting ahead of myself).