Blog Archives

Warm Bodies

For a fairly light-hearted zombie romantic comedy (zomromcom), Warm Bodies skirts the line of being almost too dark and disturbing. I only bring this up because, as mentioned before, I like when movies take risks. This movie takes a huge risk and never breaks its stride. It’s almost like it doesn’t think it’s a big deal – which is what makes it so good. Read the rest of this entry

Avengers assemble a world

The opening weekend box office for Marvel’s The Avengers (yes, Marvel is a part of the title both for branding purposes and to differentiate it from poorly received The Avengers film of 1998, which was based on a popular British television series – which ultimately leads to the current film’s being titled Avengers Assemble in Europe…) pretty much means that a review is of absolutely no value to anyone. Everyone who wanted to see the film has already seen or plans to see it soon, and everyone who did not want to see the film really did not care. A review about the film is not beneficial because everyone’s mind was made up well in advance of the film’s actual release. Plus the film has so little in substance going for it aside from the action that there really isn’t much to mention.

Which is great because the circumstances of the film’s immediate success is incredibly interesting to me. None of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe come close to the gross profit of The Avengers‘ opening weekend in their opening weekends. Truth be told, aside from the spike in the almost miserable Iron Man 2‘s profits due to the popularity and accessibility of the first, each Marvel movie has done worse than the one preceding it. So it is clear that The Avengers is an amazing gestault film that truly is greater than all of the films before it. Read the rest of this entry

Chronicle

Have you ever wondered about the importance of Uncle Ben in the story of Spider-Man? Have you ever looked at any of the X-Men and said, “You know what I’d do with that power?” Have you ever just wanted your superhero stories to be just a tad bit more like Akira? Chronicle is the film for you. The story isn’t all that original, especially for comic book aficionados, but the storytelling is absolutely great. The film had me completely caught in its telekinetic grip by its conclusion. No other superhero, or comic book-type, movie comes close to how well this was done. Captain America? Good. Kick-Ass? Good fun. Super? Dark fun. Chronicle? The new benchmark.

This movie is also for people who were pissed that Magneto didn't get his own movie. Oh, and Doctor Doom.

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Oldboy

Oldboy is the perfect example of the type of film that cannot be done in America, despite its basic revenge flick premise. The twist that makes the tale unique is pretty much forbidden for the mainstream, middle ground-aiming American film industry. Which is pretty hilarious considering an American adaptation of the original manga is in the works. The manga includes none of the taboo elements of the Korean film and completely different characterizations. My suspicion is that the American producers want all of the popularity and notoriety of the Korean film without putting in any of what made it anything other than a generic action film.

Sadly, the American adaptation will probably make a lot of money anyway. Mindless action films sell, the American culture has a history of loving revenge stories, and a fair amount of clout has been building up about the name Oldboy without anyone knowing anything except that they have to see it. The confusion about which one they need to see will be a boon to the new film’s theatrical release.

At this point I shouldn’t have to say this, but there are spoilers here. Read the rest of this entry

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which has a horribly wordy title, is a surprisingly good summer movie. It does everything right, including taking some heavy risks by making us sympathetic to the ape cause. Granted, the alternative was cheering for big business and American consumerism. Few movies push leading characters who aren’t human – especially ones who spend over half the movie without a human counterpart sitting around to remind us that we’re supposed to like them. This was awesome.

One of the major problems I had with this film, though, was how ape intelligence had to be portrayed in human terms. The signing, the writing, and the puzzle solving aren’t necessarily so bad – it’s the speaking. Only four words were spoken by an ape through the entire film, but that was more than enough. Speaking English does not mean a creature is intelligent. You’ve all met people who speak fluent English whom you cannot believe have more rights than monkeys. But the audience is led to believe that the apes have finally transcended because one learns how to speak.

Question for people who know a bit more about animal physiology than I do: Do chimps have the same vocal structure as we do? Would it physically be possible for them to speak English?

Aside from that, Apes was a really good film that makes up for Tim Burton’s failure from a decade ago. The ending was brilliant as well. It’s not so much that the apes grew intelligent and overthrew the humans. It’s that the humans simultaneously developed a deadly (to them) airborne virus along with a virus that advances brain development in apes. We’re led to believe at the end of the film that the contagion has gone worldwide. The apes didn’t so much overthrow their rulers as they did simply inherit the Earth.

Go see this movie. One especially amazing thing is that the named apes in the film are provided more solid characterization and development than most movies starring humans these days. That’s a feat that should be rewarded.

Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon

Remember when Optimus Prime was a pacifist who was only fighting to defend the humans? No, you’re right. Optimus Prime is blood thirsty warrior.

Transformers 3: All Your Cash are Belong to Us has been hailed as the best of the Michael Bay Transformers series, and people have been offering that praise with their tongues in their cheeks. When the other entries have been so soundly dismissed, that statement is meaningless. What people don’t give the Bayformers credit for doing is making the Transformers franchise relevant again. There is a positive involved in all of this, and Michael Bay shouldn’t be held in contempt for reinvigorating the robots and driving toy sales for not just the movie figures but all sales lines.

I’m not telling you that any of the movies are worth seeing. I’m just saying that Bay did something good for Hasbro and the Transformers in general. In my mind, Dark of the Moon is the cherry on top of the trilogy because it means the series is over. Read the rest of this entry

Green Lantern’s light

My sequel pitch: Call the next one "Green Lantern Corps", and then live up to that name. Total space opera with as few Earth elements as possible.

Green Lantern was a good movie. Despite what the critics say, it was a fun movie with steady performances. It is far from the best movie ever made or the best superhero movie…or even the best movie consisting of approximately 60% CGI. In fact, the movie reeks of having been an idea that Warner Bros. had to put out because there were no other DC movies slated to come out during Marvel’s big summer. When they realized that they were up against fine quality productions, they delayed the release of Green Lantern to increase the effects budget. But despite this, the movie was enjoyable. I saw the light of willpower. Read the rest of this entry

X-Men: First Class – racial tensions

Only white people need apply. Or blue if you're white underneath or spend most of your time looking white.

My displeasure with the rest of the X-Men film franchise almost led me to not seeing X-Men: First Class, despite the early good reviews. Social stimulation brought me out to see it, and I was pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately, it did not make up for the Wolverine-centered focus in the first three films, the utter banality of X-Men, the almost good film ruined by a completely ridiculously stupid ending that was X-2 (seriously, the X-Men are trained to be a team, so it doesn’t make sense that Jean Gray would fight a tidal wave by herself when Storm can send a strong wind against it, Iceman can freeze water, and Cyclops’ blasts are actually a physical force…), the complete miss that was X-Men 3, or the existence of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. But it was a clever movie in that it was a period piece and mixed a tiny bit of the spy genre into the plot. It almost made the film seem classy.

Almost. Read the rest of this entry

Thor: The Thunder God who Somehow Controls Lightning

Thor is by no means a great film in this day and age, but the circumstances of the movie make it a surprising one. One of my least favorite comic book characters is Thor. What fun is it to read about a god? There is little drama to be had there because even if he does there are many means for him to come back – more so than most comic book characters. I was not looking forward to Thor and have made it very clear, although I said that marketing would have problems with the movie. I’m silly. The Marvel movies are their own brand that people will give a watch at least once. Thor was an easy number one in the box office this weekend. Good for Marvel!

But the movie works, and that requires some exploration. Besides the fact that it was a movie that managed to balance its humor, action, and pseudo-drama, the movie seemed to speak to its primary audience of children born in the 80’s and 90’s. Thor and Loki were born into a generation of privilege. Their parents and the parents before them fought in wars and had to establish kingdoms or households, and the kids do not know how to be humble or ever want for anything. The results are arrogance and envy. Read the rest of this entry

Super

Super is the kind of film that critics of comic book movies say they want to see but dismiss when they are actually made. James Gunn created an almost entirely realistic look at what it would take to make someone decide to become a masked vigilante and the horrific results of those choices. Frank D’Arbo (Rainn Wilson) is basically Bipolar, and his wife’s (Liv Tyler) leaving him for drug lord Jacques (Kevin Bacon) is the first in a series of psychotic breaks that drive the film toward its resolution. Individuals comment that Bruce Wayne must have been driven insane by the loss of his parents at the hand of Joe Chill, and that’s why there is a Batman in Gotham City. Super is basically a take on that theory. Read the rest of this entry