There’s a certain group in our culture who grew up through the 70’s and 80’s and had an understanding of the beauty present in giant mechas and robots. It sounds weird, but it’s true. How else can you explain the nostalgia for Transformers that has repeatedly managed to revive the franchise? Even knowing that the main purpose of the series is to sell toys, we knew that there was more there. Fans of Transformers have yet to see a big screen payoff (although the 80’s film has its moments), but IDW’s comics are an unexpected treasure. Godzilla fans get something great every now and then, although it seems Toho is hanging its hat for a while. (The upcoming American film is concerning but promising.) What we haven’t really gotten is the clash that our toys used to have. Anime only sates the appetite so much before the fans say, “I want to see real people in mecha punching monsters dead!” Yeah, our over excitement taxes our grammar a bit…
Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim does more than satisfy our taste for giant destruction. It whets our appetite and makes us long for so much more. And it’s not because the movie is missing anything. It’s that the movie does so much and makes us believe that maybe we might someday get to see more like it. Read the rest of this entry
This post may contain spoilers about Looper. I’ve done my best to keep it somewhat vague, but perceptive readers might be able to figure it out. As for Doctor Who, I’m less vague. Why? Because I think the accessibility of television shows allows us to tiptoe far less.
Time travel stories are simultaneously some of the most intriguing and frustrating science fiction tales out there. They offer glimpses of possibilities that we will likely never, and should never, know while being burdened with the fact that they must tell a compelling narrative. If most individuals were provided the means to travel through time, the stories would be uninteresting and/or disastrous. Meeting idols and family members do not necessarily make for compelling fiction. Nor does the likely scenario of someone simply breaking time and space for doing something stupid. (“Well, they’re going to learn how to make fire eventually, so what the hell?”)
io9, likely directly inspired by watching Looper, recently posted an article about how messy time travel stories, those with uncertain rules and no desire to adhere to a stable loop and timeline, are some of the most interesting. I cannot say that I agree, but I can understand Charlie Jane Anders’ point of view. After all, when the end is the beginning is the end of a story, where’s the fun of it? Everything seems boxed into place in a manner that seems to hit the border between OCD and OCPD. But that doesn’t mean time travel stories should eschew rules. Otherwise it becomes far too convenient. Read the rest of this entry
Without hesitation, I can say that Dredd is the best comic book movie of 2012. Put away your bat-shaped pitchforks and mighty hammers so that you can hear me out. Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers were both considered fantastic epics that were the culmination of years of build-up. Both were huge and explosive. When you walk out of the theater, you comment on what a rush it was. Then what do you walk away with?
Dredd is a much smaller film. Not only is the budget smaller but the length doesn’t even attempt to touch the other two films. If the other two films were explosives, then Dredd was a bullet from a sniper rifle. It is exactly that precision that I appreciate about the film. Read the rest of this entry
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
The “Machete Order” of Star Wars recently became an internet sensation, and I almost missed it. Not that it would have mattered much. I thought up the same order a couple of years ago and for mostly the same reasons: re-ordering the films centers the saga around Luke while also highlighting the importance of Darth Vader’s choices. Remember, by Return of the Jedi Vader serves as a warning of what Luke could become. Literally in the center of the context that is the original Star Wars trilogy, the prequel trilogy has a meaning that lifts it beyond our cynical view of its being a cash grab. Read the rest of this entry
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.
Rubber seems to have a more interesting concept than its creator/director, Quentin Dupieux, seems to acknowledge throughout the film. The idea of a sentient tire with psychokinetic abilities that can cause people to explode is fun for unabashed fans of the absurd. Unfortunately, in its 82 minute running time, it’s not allowed to be just that. Read the rest of this entry
Great video game tie-ins are few and far in between. The last truly great tie-in was…what exactly? What made it such a great game? Did it add to the original property? These are the questions to ask when considering video games based on movies. Read the rest of this entry
Before I go into the review, I want to make it a point to urge you to go out and see Red Tails. It’s not often that you get a Lucasfilms property that isn’t Star Wars or Indiana Jones. It also isn’t often that you get an action film consisting of a predominantly African American cast (and the amazing Bryan Cranston as a condescending racist). This is a film that Lucas has been trying to get made for the past 30 years, only to repeatedly get turned down because the studios said that there is no money to be made from such a film. People don’t want to see the black flying aces of World War II. Unfortunately, the opening weekend box office seems to suggest there is some truth in that – as of now it’s made roughly one-third of it’s $58M budget. I don’t want it to be true. The failure of this film vindicates every studio for casting few African Americans in leading roles and not providing much publicity for any film that casts black people as anything more than a joker, thug, magical negro, overweight loudmouth, etc. I have to admit, I already blame 20th Centure Fox for shortcomings in advertising, as I did not see any advertising aside from a stand at the local movie theatre.
I must also state that a tight knot formed in my stomach when the trailer for Tyler Perry’s latest movie played right before Red Tails. No matter the quality of the film, his will be profitable because his audience attends like good little drones. If we were presented with Tyler Perry presents: Red Tails, I wouldn’t have to implore you to see the film (or buy a ticket and not go – just an option). I’d have to worry about your being fed the horrible reinforcement of black stereotypes for the sake of obnoxious humor. But Tyler Perry’s ruination of black people in the media is neither here nor there. It’s just a fact of life. Read the rest of this entry
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