Tag Archive for movie

Justice League Movie Review (From the Future)

I have run fast enough from the theater in the future to break the time barrier and return here to give you my review of the movie.

There was a lot about the JLA movie that was sheer awesome!  A lot of cool, snapshot poses, a lot of awesome uses of superpowers.

But by the end I felt disappointed, and even a bit bored.

 

The first problem was the character intros.

As expected, we spend a good chunk of the movie meeting the new heroes, and getting bits of their backstory.  Flash.  Aquaman.  Cyborg.  This was the first big challenge of the movie, to make us care about these characters, so that later when they are fighting and in danger, we actually care whether or not they win, whether or not they are hurt.  Care whether or not they achieve some kind of happiness, or peace, as a result of the choices and changes they make through the course of the movie.

But we simply did not get enough time with each character to feel connected to them, to care.  I rooted for the Flash just because he was funny and likeable.  But what Pixar did in five minutes at the beginning of Up, JLA did not manage to do in the roughly ten minutes of character establishment per character.

Even Batman did not move me much, because we haven’t really spent much time with Affleck’s Batman except in his ragey conflict with Superman, so all his pain and the tragic experiences of his past that would make forming a team and being responsible for others a fear to overcome for him (e.g. the loss of a Robin to the Joker) has not really been established here.

Wonder Woman, at least, we understand a little after her LONG overdue solo movie.  Which is probably one reason she was the most relatable hero beside Flash.

 

Heroes aside, though, I think the biggest problem was the enemy.

Steppenwolf and his MacGuffincubes

Steppenwolf and his MacGuffincubes

 

Basically, our heroes did not have an interesting villain with goals and motivations that we could relate to on some level.  I never felt the villain had personal stakes that I cared about yet knew would be bad for our world and our heroes.  Instead, we had a CGI Alien Armor Big Bad who wants some evil boxes, and a bunch of CGI aliens and robots to help him get them, and that would be bad.  Because it is bad.

Yes, the battle scenes were epic and full of superpowered awesome.  But I never felt that Steppenwolf forced a hero to confront their deepest fear or flaw and overcome it.  I never felt that Steppenwolf presented a personal challenge to any of the heroes, that he was the worst possible enemy the hero could have had to face at this time because of what they had been through, or what they were struggling with.

Steppenwolf is a master strategist, yet I never really felt there was a clever cat and mouse game going on between him and Batman that made Batman question his own brilliance or ability or willingness to lead others into danger and death.  Steppenwolf never really made me feel he had pushed Batman to the edge and the Bats might lose it if anyone died on his watch.  They just were racing each other to get the boxes, a simple set of escalating challenges.

Steppenwolf is a badass, but I never felt that in his conflict with Wonder Woman or Aquaman that any of them were forced to question their own strength, the responsibility or consequences of strength, or who they were without it.

Part of the reason the Avengers worked well by comparison is that they faced off against Loki, a villain we had come to know already, a person filled with pain and anger and tragic, twisted need that drove him, a guy who really just wanted to be loved above all others (is that so wrong?).  And because Loki played on each hero’s insecurities and flaws and fears, and turned friend against friend.  Likewise, in Civil War, the enemy plays the heroes own flaws and pain against each other, turning friend against friend.  And in Avengers 2, Scarlet Witch does something similar.

Steppenwolf did not really achieve that.  He was not an enemy of the Justice League, of the heroes individually or as a team.  He was just big badass enemy, a threat.

And as demonstrated by the Phantom Menace, simply destroying an army of enemy robots in an epic battle can in fact be extremely boring.

Finally, I understood why of course they had to keep Superman out of it for most of the movie, for much the same reason that Hulk wasn’t in Civil War (he would have just smashed anyone on the opposing team, etc).  But his moping/angst over the events in Batman vs Superman was a bit of a lame reason for the delay.

In summary, I of course went and saw this movie, and overall it was a fun popcorn flick.  How could I not go to see the JLA on the big screen?  Not to mention Jason Momoa and Gal Gadot kicking ass and looking hot doing it.  But if you are going to have all the grimdark and Pew Pew, you need to balance it with a tad more humor, and a lot more heart, than JLA delivered.

Maybe the Extended Cut DVD will fix it.

 

Share

Those Other Christmas Movies

I love the Christmas season.  But there are only so many good holiday movies.  And then you start to get into the less good holiday movies.  If you don’t ration properly, you may be watching Earnest Saves Christmas before you know it.

I also am a sucker for romance.  Anyone whose read my stories probably picked up on that.

Which brings us to that special class of movie: the Hallmark/ ABC Made for TV Holiday Romance.  These have, I’ll admit, become my guilty pleasure over the holidays.  And here’s my breakdown of the ones most commonly available.

HOLIDAY IN HANDCUFFS

Holiday in Handcuffs

Despite the lack of BDSM play, it still had a better story than 50 Shades.

Read more

Share

San Andreas the Oscar Contender

WHAT? I looked at the critic reviews for San Andreas on Fandango and was surprised to see this as the first review:

“The film is so unusually moving and penetrating because it refuses to cloud its emotions in distancing irony, anger, or nihilism.”

WHAT? Is this movie completely more interesting and deeper than I assumed? ::Scrolls through more reviews:: Oh. Nope. Fandango is showing reviews for Sisterhood of Night on the San Andreas page by accident. What a DISASTER! And totally Fandango’s FAULT for misleading me! (HA! Get it? Disaster? Fault? Oh man, I slay myself). But seriously, I’m sure this will be an incredible emotional journey exploring the human condition and explosions and shite. So I was inspired to create an updated movie poster.

San Andreas the Drama

Only the Rock could truly explore the depths of the San Andreas.

Share

The Kung Fu Kid

I just watched the trailer for the new Karate Kid movie.  It looks pretty good, and actually follows the storyline of the original movie pretty closely.

But here’s the thing:  It is a movie about Kung Fu (Chinese martial arts) set in China.

Karate is a Japanese martial art.

Karate Kid.

Kung Fu.

Now, as much as I know that in general China and Japan love each other with the kind of love that can only come from a long history of beautiful and peaceful coexistence and cultural exchange (ahem), and I know that all that there “Oriental” stuff is all the same, and I understand the franchise branding issue, I still find it odd that the name made it past any Hollywood marketing person with an ounce of intelligence.

Oh wait …

Well, still, what are they going to do next?  Cast a dorky white dude (of Hebrew descent) as the Prince of Persia (aka Iran)?  I mean, come on!  Try to have some common sense Hollywood peoples!

EDIT: Tarrell Childs pointed out the following on Facebook in response to my comment on this subject: 

“There is actually a reason within the story that explains them using the Title. Most people with half a brain know that Kung Fu is not Karate. The kid knows a little karate, but obviously not enough to deal with kids who learn Kung Fu from the time they can walk. So he has to learn the local martial art. Remember, Daniel-san in the first movie was teaching hisself ‘karate’ from a book before he got his butt kicked and Mr. Miyagi saved his ass. Story still fits here, except with a slight twist.”
And so I stand corrected 🙂  There is a thin excuse to still call the film “Karate Kid.”  Just as they could call it “American Beats Chinese at Chinese Martial Arts” because, you know, the story technically supports that title as well.

All I’m saying is, I’m glad to see their choices in casting, and in moving the movie to China, but they really dropped the ball in naming the movie, at least in my humble opinion.

Share

Twilight and the Beetle Love Factor

(From the head of the Q.U. Crypto-Multimedia Department)

Twilight comes out on DVD tomorrow, March 21st, which prompts me to post here my collected thoughts on Twilight.

How could Twilight – a zero calorie plot that pushes the idea that a girl’s ultimate goal in life is to marry the right boy, have his child, and have him give her life meaning — be so popular? 

 

I mean, it’s like those melodramatic episodes of Buffy and Angel angst, which were the hardest episodes of those seasons to watch, except add on top of that the fact that Bella Swan doesn’t even have Buffy’s power or purpose in life.



 

I attributeit to the Beetle Love Factor.  The Beetle Love Factor is something that afflicts many people. 

And what is the Beetle Love Factor, you ask?

 

You are watching a nature documentary about insects on PBS or Nature or some other similarly NON-Lifetime channel.  About as unromantic as you can get. 


Yet, if they edit in a narrative of one lone underdog beetle doing a beetle dance or flashing its beetle colors or whatever, trying oh so hard to get a little beetle mate, I find myself rooting for it.  When the beetle gets rejected, I feel bad for it.  If it gets its mate, I go all "Dude, I’ve got something in my eye making it all watery and shite."

 

A frickin’ BEETLE! 

 

It doesn’t take much to connect with our universal feelings of wanting to love and be loved, or to be part of something larger than ourselves.  Any story can do that, even one about beetles.  But does that make it a GOOD story?  One that redeems the time you spent watching it — time you will never, ever get refunded to spend on something else?

 

That’s why I’ll skip the Twilight movie.  I highly recommend "Let the Right One In" instead, washed down with shots of Vampire Hunter D and The Hunger. 

 

And then maybe throw in the Planet Earth series again.  Dance, little bird of paradise, dance!

 

 

P.S. — ON FANTASY MAKING THE CREEPY ACCEPTABLE (ICK CREEPY, NOT YIKES CREEPY)

I have an idea for a YA book. Tell me what you think:

80 year old man poses as teen on Myspace to hit on high school girls. He finds one he likes, sneaks into her house, and watches her sleep.


But he’s a vampire. So, you know, it’s sexy and romantic, not creepy.


No?  Okay, okay, how about this — he looks about 22.


Not enough?  Okay, well, how about if he actually goes to the high school, instead of using Myspace?


Okay, cool.  I’ll call it … Dusk.

Share

Not Down with a Brown Harry Potter (or Prince of Persia)?

From the Head of the Q.U. Crypto-Visual Media Department

Warner Brothers is suing a Bollywood film company because the title of their film is ‘Hari Puttar: A Comedy of Terrors.’  And Warner Bros. thinks that name is too much like Harry Potter. 

Seriously.

Yet the film has nothing to do with wizards or magic.  It is a Home Alone-style story.  And according to the article, Hari is a common Indian name, and "puttar" means son. 

Meanwhile, a quick search of the ethernet (purely as research for this article, I assure you) reveals that there are a number of porn movies that are actually based on the Harry Potter films:

Hairy Pooter and the Sorcerer’s Bone
Harry Potter in Hermione’s Chamber of Secrets

 

Read more on this fascinating topic…

Share

Del Toro’s “The Hobbit”

From the Q.U. Visual Media Department Head:
I love the work of
Guillermo del Toro (director of Pan’s Labyrinth, and the upcoming Hellboy 2).  I was very pleased to hear he would be directing “The Hobbit.”

In fact, I have drafted what I suspect del Toro’s “Smaug the Dragon” will look like:

Your Assignment:
Share your thoughts on del Toro and Peter Jackson teaming up for “The Hobbit”  — your hopes, your fears, (personally, I’m torn on whether including the Jules Bass music from the 1977 animated version is a hope or a fear). 

Share

The Problem with SCI FI Original Movies

“SCI FI Saturday: The most dangerous night of television!”

You can say that again.  With a few exceptions that are based on quality fiction (such as the Dune movies), SCI FI Original Movies are an astounding mixture of cultural insensitivity, historical inaccuracy, disregard for actual science, horrible acting, and home-computer quality effects.  Which is too bad, because they could do so much better.

In fact, they are so bad that a variety of drinking games have sprung up around watching them, both to make them more interesting, and to simultaneously dull the pain.

Here’s my own little game for ya’ (drinking is optional).

Below are a few SCI FI Original Movie descriptions. Some of them are real. Others I just made up. Can you guess which are which?


1. AZTEC REX: The Aztecs summoned a Tyrannosaurus Rex to keep Cortes (Ian Ziering from ‘90210′) and his army out of Mexico. Now they need the Conquistadors’ help to stop the T-Rex from killing them all – and to save the beautiful Aztec princess (played by sexy Nepalese actress Dichen Lachman).

2. Night of the Three-Eyed Cyclops: When archeologist Zip Steel uncovers an ancient Greek pyramid, he finds he’s found the find of a lifetime. But when the pyramid’s guardian awakens, it will be one dark and stormy night for Zip and the beautiful belly dancer-turned-translator Jenny Jenson. Can they survive long enough to find the heart of the pyramid’s maze, and gain the power of Pluto’s Diadem?

3. Earthstorm: When an asteroid slams into the moon, cataclysmic aftereffects threaten to destroy Earth. Scientists call on demolitions expert John Redding (Stephen Baldwin) to save the day. Dirk Benedict and Anna Silk co-star.

4. Dragons of Elsinore: Hamlet must pretend to be insane, as he plots against the sorcerer whose dragon killed Hamlet’s father and now holds the tropical kingdom of Denmark hostage! Co-stars Bambi Honeywell as Ifeelia.

5. Manticore: A tough U.S. Army squad is sent to a small Iraqi town to locate a missing news crew. What they find is the manticore, a mythic beast unleashed by a terrorist leader to protect the land from unwanted invaders. A lion with dragon’s wings and a scorpion’s tail, the manticore will give these soldiers the fight of their lives.

6. Prawn Storm!: Model-turned-singer Cindy Shazam and her bodyguard, a grizzled ex-Navy Seal with a dark secret, are stranded in a small village when their tour bus breaks down – just as a swarm of giant mutant prawns attacks! Featuring the music of Paris Hilton.

7. ADAM REX! Stalwart priest Father Dirk Studwell and exotic dancer-turned-Sunday school teacher Pamela Sweetings stumble across a gay conspiracy meeting, where couples plot to engage in monogamous lifelong relationships. But before they can stop the conspiracy they are sent back 6,000 years to Earth’s creation! With the help of early historical figures Samson and George Washington, can they stop a T-Rex from destroying the tropical garden of Eden and return to the present to set things extremely right?!

8. Dog Soldiers: A squad of British soldiers, training in an isolated Scottish glen, find lycanthropic action under a full moon. It’s werewolves vs. hardware — and more than that, it’s a gritty, naturalistic drama with relentless action and a band-of-brothers poignancy. An ensemble cast led by charismatic Brit tough-guy actors Sean Pertwee (Event Horizon, Soldier) plus “can’t-take-your-eyes-off-her” newcomer Emma Cleasby, fleshes out a taut tale of blood ‘n’ guts — in both meanings of the term.

9. Mantiwhore: In the midst of a violent vice crackdown in Los Angeles, jaded cowboy-turned-cop Jake Stone (Biff Bradley) searches for his stepsister-turned-prostitute, Shaniqua. What he finds is the mantiwhore, a mythic beast unleashed by a pimp (Tyrell Black) to punish his hos and kill nosy cops. A hot-momma lioness with dragon’s wings, a scorpion’s tail, and one hell of a body, the mantiwhore will test Jake’s courage, and force him to explore animal feelings he thought buried on the farm long, long ago.

10. Frankenfish: Medical investigator Sam Rivers is assigned to investigate murders in the Louisiana swamps. Together with beautiful biologist Mary Callahan, they soon come face to face with genetically engineered Chinese snake-heads! Between Rivers and the wealthy hunter who owns the creatures, can they catch the one that got away, or will it catch them?!

11. Alien Flood: When a comet hits the moon sending it crashing into Mexico, a giant tidal wave of illegal immigrants threatens to sweep across the southern United States. Scientists call on general contractor Tex Nails to save the day. Can he and his rag tag crew of plumbers, framers, and concrete layers build a giant wall in time to stop the flood of hard-working aliens?

12. Crimson Force: An earth crew lands on Mars in search of the ultimate power source hidden somewhere beneath the ground. What they find is a civil war between the High Priest of Mars, and the High Priestess. The crew is split apart over which side to take – can they come together in time to stop the sexy High Priestess’s secret plans to invade earth?

13. Back in Black: Muslim leader Malcom X (played by New Zealand soap star Tawera Roa) travels back to Charleston in the age of slavery to battle the true source of slavery – aliens who brainwashed the poor white slave owners into thinking slavery was cool. But he must first overcome the surprising resistance, and the heart, of beautiful dancer-turned-slave Harriet Tubman (Asian pop-star Asumi Kobayashi). Can he help the poor plantation owners in time? (Post-Production Note: “We recognize that some viewers may be offended by this film, but we assure you that we meant no offense to you, the descendents of former slave owners. Our intent was to provide an ironic example of how a Muslim extremist might have saved freedom in America – thus helping to bridge the gap between Americans and them Arab people.”)

14. Heatstroke: She’s a model, he’s an elite commando. They’re going to solve global warming — by destroying the aliens who are causing it!

15. Terra Sharka: When beautiful women are found dead and half-naked in their homes from apparent shark attacks, Oceanologist-turned-detective Gunn Rockwell must figure out what is killing them, and how it is getting into their homes without any sign of forced entry. Co-stars Chevy Chase.

16. The Phantomly Menacing: Two space knights must stop the efforts of a large Asian alien (”Asiens” for short) trade competitor with offensive mock-”Oriental” accents, who are trying to overthrow the power and sanctity of a democratic government. Will both the knights and the Asiens succumb to the dark manipulations of a dark lord using a dark force, or will hero Bar-Bar Jinks (played by Carrot Top) save the day with his whacky antics? Starring Christopher Lambert as the Space Knight, and Stephen Baldwin as his apprentice.

(Answers are in a response post below (aka back of the book).  But don’t cheat).

Your assignment: Add your own suggestions for SCI FI Original Movies, games related to them, or your thoughts in general on these lovely creations.

Share