I was very pleasantly surprised. I guess I should have had faith in Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy’s ability to pick a script that didn’t suck, but honestly the trailers made this look like a bad 48 Hours remake and given the fact that for the past few years Eddie has been doing Daddy Daycare and the like, I was expecting something painful. Not in the least.
The fact is, this movie is well written, clever, and above all funny without being goofy schtick. The humor is subdued enough to make you appreciate it, as well as the acting ability of the main characters as they deliver the lines. Eddie Murphy’s character Slide does borrow heavily from Reggie Hammond, but does not reprise the character entirely and makes this one less clever and sophisticated, but much more street smart and, to be honest, believable. In fact, all the characters are extremely believable, especially Josh Kovacs, played by one of my favorite actors Ben Stiller, star of the great Zoolander (Derek Zoolander Center for Children who can’t Read Good and Wanna Learn to do Other Stuff Good Too image courtesy of the movie t shirt category).
The story is of Josh Kovacs, manager and majordomo of the most plush building in all of Manhattan, the Tower. While working for some of the richest people on the planet he is living in a slum and gets hassled by Eddie Muphy’s character Slide as he goes to work every day. He is aided by a dedicated staff of doormen, security personal, and cleaning staff including his brother-in-law concierge Charlie (Casey Affleck – Good Will Hunting, Gone Baby Gone), veteran doorman Lester (Stephen Henderson – Everyday People, the Good Heart, Keane), new elevator operator Enrique Dev’Reaux (Micheal Peña – Shooter, Million Dollar Baby, Crash), and maid Odessa (Gabourey Sidebe – Precious. That’s it. Glad to see her adding to her filmography). Their richest resident is Arthur Shaw (cough cough Bernard Madoff cough cough), played excellently by the great Alan Alda (Mash of course. A few others but Mash is more than enough), who gets arrested for securities fraud after taking every employees pensions and life savings.
I’d like to add a thought here on the brilliance of casting Mr. Alda for this. If there is one thing the otherwise weak Schwarzenegger film the Running Man taught us is that if you take a beloved American icon and cast him in the role of a villain, he somehow seems much more evil. It worked for Richard Dawson, and in all ways works great for Alan Alda here.
In comes FBI agent Claire Denham (played by the one time love of my life, Téa Leoni. If you want to see why I loved her set the way back machine to 1992 and watch a short lived comedy called Flying Blind. She also starred in Deep Impact, Jurassic Park III, and the Family Man. She was also married to sex addict David Duchovny. She has gotten older, but still looks super hot), who caught Shaw and now has to see him under house arrest in his fabulous penthouse. She gets hammered one night and tells Kovacs that Shaw must still have a secret stash of money somewhere in his place. That is when Kovacs decides to rob Shaw. He just got fired for going nuts on Shaw and recruits evicted former tenant Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Glory, Godzilla 1998 (eww)), Charlie, Enrique, and Odessa. They quickly realize they don’t have the skill set required and recruit career criminal Slide, who aids them in the robbery while forcing them to prove they have what it takes to rob someone in humorous ways.
Crime comedy hijinks ensues. I don’t want to give away much of the plot, as I liked it a lot and hope you all go see it, but at one point the ridiculous meter dips so deep into the red it actually hits infrared. Other than that the movie is fun, super entertaining, and ends in what I thought was the most appropriate way.
The stars. Great, fun story well told. Two stars. I would like to give a star for every great actor in this film, but that would actually skew it too far in the star direction. It’s a good movie, but it’s no Wrath of Khan. Murphy, Stiller, Alda, Leoni, even Matthew Broderick would be five stars. I’ll just give three for great casting. Very real characters. One star. Dialog and direction were great. One star. No annoying subplots or unnecessary characters. Even the weird Russian girl (Nina Arianda – Midnight in Paris) had a significant role. One star. An ending that made sense (mostly) and didn’t have any sugar frosting smeared on it to make it more palatable to the unwashed morons of this country. One star. Two bonus stars for an overall pleasant movie experience that exceeded my expectations. Total: eleven stars.
The black holes. For a movie that seemed to work hard to stay funny in the real world, when they got to the actual robbery they went in a really stupid direction and completely blew out my suspension of disbelieve circuit (sorry, but elementary violations of the laws of physics even a grade school child could spot grinds me like sandpaper underwear). Two black holes. The humor, which until the robbery had been pretty low key and subtle, took a left turn down Three Stooges alley and cruised there for most of the rest of the movie (ever see the one where they are skyscraper construction workers?). Tonal shifts 3/4ths of the way through the movie rarely work. One black hole. There was a romantic undercurrent that felt really undeveloped. One black hole. Total: four black holes.
I will say that this movie was rated PG-13 and in all ways worked at that rating. It was one that didn’t need to go any deeper into R. Kudos to director Brett Ratner (who managed to insert a speaking cameo). However, Brett, you are going to have to come up with a few more great movies to make up for X-Men Last Stand and Rush Hour.
So a total of seven stars, a great score. Should you see it? Absolutely. Do you need to see it on a big screen? Not really. There are a couple scenes towards the end that benefit from being on a bigger screen, but like most comedies this one will do just fine on a TV. Good second date film, IMO, in that it is funny, but not super sexual. Also, none of the people in this movie are super Hollywood hot, so unless she has a thing for Eddie Murphy you won’t lose anything in comparison.
Thanks for reading. I fell way behind in my movie watching this last week and will try to nail a few more down this week. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. By the way, I did great the first day at the Warhammer Tournament and got my ass beat on the second by a guy I hate like I hate the Star Wars Holiday Special, so kind of a bummer weekend. I probably would have done better sitting on my ass at home writing more.
Yes, I’ve seen all that can be seen via DvD and am now poised to see the very last one in a theater tomorrow night. I say poised but in truth I am excited. In spite of my original belief that Harry Potter was a kiddish version of the Lord of the Rings it has really engaged me and held my attention. I honestly think having watched them all back to back like this I might have even gotten more out of them than most people did, and I am ready to see the final one tomorrow. That will be a full on review, with the whole stars and black holes thing, but this one will be the usual abbreviated version with annoying questions.
I have kind of pondered why I am not comfortable doing the whole review thing for these. It’s not like stars and black holes take any more effort to write up than coming up with these questions. It really comes down to a few things. First off, I don’t sit on my couch and watch DvDs with 100% of my attention. I am usually working on my new secret army (just got the second full rank of the first unit done. Very laborious), or folding my laundry, or whatever. Therefore I could be easily off on some of my assessments and impressions. Also, these movies are in the past and I want to treat them differently. I don’t think any of you gain anything by having me recount the story and then pick it apart in painful detail. Finally, I have noticed a trend where when I start doing black holes I can act like a broken fire hose, spraying black holes in quantity and volume that I originally didn’t intend. Often times this can really look like I hated the film, and the fact is I am quite enjoying these. Also, there are enough psychotic Harry Potter fans out there to actually make me concerned for my safety should I get too harsh on it.
However, that does not prevent me from coming up with more annoying questions. The good news is since the Deathly Hallows does not feature any Qudditch I have not come up with any sports related questions. However, my first questions directly related to Voldemort.
Here it is. Voldemort has created seven horcruxes in which he has hidden fragments of his soul. As long as even one of them is intact he essentially cannot be killed. Why, then, does he leave them lying around for anyone to come across? If I had seven horcruxes the first one I would embed in a six foot block of concrete and then drop into the Marianas Trench. The second I would stick inside the Japanese nuclear reactor that went bad. The third I would magically transport to the dark side of Pluto. Actually, since they can only be destroyed by very specific means I think I would send the fourth into the sun and the fifth into a black hole. The sixth I would embed in my body, probably where my appendix used to be. The seventh I would put in a relatively easy place to find, but surround it with as many deadly booby traps as possible. I’m not talking trap doors and rolling stone balls, either. Claymores. Nice way to thin out the Voldemort Killing Committee. The one thing I most definitely would not do is give one to a crusty lady with terrible fashion sense who has already been bested by my worst enemy once to wear around the Ministry for any fool to grab.
Speaking of the Hot Pink Nightmare, Dolores Umbridge, didn’t she get eaten by centaurs a couple movies back? How did she resurface?
I have a question about the Death Eater recruitment program, and it kind of ties in with a previous question I asked about the economy of the Harry Potter world. What, exactly, does Voldemort promise someone like Snape to join him? I can understand a crazy nutjob like Bellatrix Lestrange doing it just for the joy of causing mayhem, but Snape is a well thought out, cautious, learned man. What could possibly induce him to not only risk his life and career, but also to betray his friends and colleges, as well as make an death binding oath to protect what is effectively just another annoying Hogwarts student? All the power in the world? Sorry, that is reserved for Voldemort. Money? A hot car? A makeover reality TV show? Honestly, what is it? It doesn’t seem like anyone in this world is hurting for money and can conjure food at will, so what do you offer a man who has access to everything? I can understand once Voldemort more or less takes over everything being a Death Eater is the cool thing to do and all the wizards are gung ho to join, but Snape seems to have been involved for a long time. What was the first carrot Voldemort ever held out?
As an aside, I do have to give props to the directors for casting Helen Bonhome Carter as Lestrange. If you are ever casting a crazy bitch with possible occult powers you really can’t find anyone even slightly better. I loved her in Fight Club, but she seems to have been really stereotyped in the roles she is given (Paper Street Soap Co (from Fight Club) courtesy of the movie t shirt category).
I have a question regarding the title of this movie. When I first heard the Deathly Hallows I assumed the Deadly Hollows referred to a serious of inimical geographic locations. You know, like Sleepy Hollow, only deadlier. I find during the course of this movie that the Deadly Hollows actually refers to three items that are presumably horcruxes. I have taken the liberty of looking up both hollow and hollows in a couple different dictionaries and, while there are a number of definitions, none of them in any way relate to any kind of magic item or fetish. Is the J.K. Rowlings just screwing with the English language to make for a better sounding book? I admit Harry Potter and the Deadly Objects really doesn’t have the same oomph the hollows gives, but it just seems a little self serving.
Note-I just found out I am an idiot. The title is Deathly Hallows, not Deadly Hollows. Thanks to all my Harry Potter fan friends for not making me avoid that huge mistake. I haven’t been this embarrassed since an unfortunate incident in the first grade I don’t want to get into.
I am glad to see that no force on Earth or Heaven can prevent J.K. Rowlings from employing deus ex machina yet again. Does it not strike anyone on the planet that the fact that Luna Lovegood’s father just happens to be wearing a pendant that symbolizes the exact three things Harry has to find has to be the biggest coincidence of all time? Or even that Harry noticed it? Every character in this movie is wearing an occult symbol as a pendant. But seriously, Xenophilius Lovegood is such a fan of a children’s story that he wears a pendant from it? That is like me wearing a pendant symbolizing Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
By the way, did I miss something? How did Harry lose his tracking chip?
Finally, if both Harry and Hermione both know that the pendant horcrux is screwing with Ron’s attitude and perceptions, and both understand that within a few hours of taking it off he will be back to normal, why did they bug out and leave him with no means of finding them after he calmed down? My dad used to take us camping once in a while and was a total jerk. I would get pissed off and run off into the woods to throw rocks at stuff. This is like if he packed up the car and left me on my own hundreds of miles away, except for the fact that Ron actually likes Harry and Hermione. I’m glad to see that Ron and Hermione’s romance is still going, but at some point one of them has to say something. I am going to be really, really upset of one of them gets killed in the next movie and leaves the other one miserable.
That’s it for questions. I am going to see Part II tomorrow night, I think. I am going to take a moment to make myself feel better and make a few predictions, based on what I know of J.K. Rowlings writing style. Let’s see if I am half as smart as I like to think. These predictions are based on no prior knowledge whatsoever:
Harry Potter himself is the final horcrux. Severus Snape will sacrifice himself in the end to stop Voldemort. There will be no non-white characters in the film at all.
That’s it. I’ll let you know how it goes. Have a good one.
So I have been looking forward to this movie for a while now, and planned to see it Sunday. However, on Friday I started hearing that a lot of the reviews were coming back as bad, which shook me. The trailers showed a 40 foot tall metal samurai armed with a mini gun. How could that possibly be bad?
So with a certain amount of trepidation I went to my local Regal theater, spent $5 on a Sunday ticket and $15.25 on popcorn, water, and some Junior Mints, and sat in the seat. The movie started off ominously when I saw someone wheel in a stroller (note-if your child is too young to speak and/or stay awake for the entire movie he or she MIGHT just be too young to see a PG-13 movie). Sure enough, the child cried a couple times during the movie. I hold nothing against the child. It’s the incredibly selfish parents who need to be caned. What drove me even more insane through the movie was some adult who fell asleep several times and snored quite loudly. Bastard. For him it’s the scorpion pit.
Anyway, in spite of these issues, I enjoyed Sucker Punch immensely. It really appealed to the inner comic book geek inside me. Steam punk meets Kill Bill meets Brazil. I liked it so much that when I got home I had to look up some of the reviews and see what they were all bitching about. About 20 minutes of reading has shown me something I knew years ago and am forcibly reminded of periodically: most movie reviews are morons and don’t have a dook of an idea how to comport themselves geek-wise, oh my brother. Seriously, they just don’t seem to understand nerd culture. I refuse to help any of these idiots by linking their asinine reviews, but one moron from some rag called the city the 300 came from Sparda (it’s Sparta. Sparda was a demon from Devil May Cry). Imbecile.
Anyway, the movie does have it’s issues, which I will get into in a bit. The story is of a girl who gets framed by her step dad for the murder of her sister and committed to an insane asylum. She descends into a fantasy delusion where she is trapped in a 50’s (implied) brothel and has to escape. There she is forced to dance and every time she does she descends further into a delusion within a delusion (very Inception-like) where she and her friends have to fight any number of monsters, from steam punk WWI Germans, giant metal samurai warriors, LOTR type orcs, a dragon, and some high tech mirrored mechanicals (when I say mirrored I mean that. They pretty much shattered like they were made of glass). They have to find five things to gain their freedom. There’s an older guy who is her spiritual guide and/or commanding officer, a female psychiatrist/dance instructor, and her team is comprised of four more super hot girls; two blonds, a brunette, and an Asian girl. There is one main villain (the orderly at the insane asylum) and any number of lesser villains and henchmen. Violence in many different forms ensues, the story progresses in a very comic book (I mean that in a good way) style, and the story makes a lot or sense if you can let go of your need to have everything in life spoon fed to you. I don’t want to comment on the ending as it could be a huge spoiler, but I liked it.
First the stars. Visually stunning. Two stars. The CGI and special effects were awe inspiring. When you see the dragon it really looks like there is a dragon there. Two stars. Steam punk. One star. Dragon. One star. Giant samurai warriors. One star. Ever women in the film was uber hot. One star. The fight choreography was extremely good. Two stars. While a big part of the story involved Baby Doll’s dancing being hypnotic, they spared us the awkward pain of actually having to watch it and instead replaced it with more gratuitous violence. One star. Most of the sets involved a cool 1950’s noir style that I quite liked. One star. Total: 12 stars.
Now the black holes. The acting from every single character was painfully flat and mediocre. Two black holes. To compliment the mediocre acting the dialogue sounded like the writer spent most of his time writing Wikipedia articles on 13th century pole arms. Two black holes. You spend most of the movie fighting against an overwhelming feeling of injustice. One black hole. The girls names grind on you after a while (Baby Doll, Sweet Pea, etc). One black hole. Overall the film really kind of lacks depth, with pretty weak character development. One black hole (although, really, how much character development was there in 300? If you want character development see a Ron Howard film). Some pretty blatant holes in the plot (although they will bother you less if you keep in mind the whole film is seen through the eyes of an insane young girl). One black hole. Total: 8 black holes.
Grand total: 4 stars. Not a great score, and if you like movies and plots that make sense you might want to give this one a pass. However, it’s not a bad score and if you like visual movies and comic book style plots it is well worth seeing, especially on a big screen. I also give props for not forcing me to watch this in 3d, in spite of the fact that most of the scenes almost scream for it. One less headache.
Weird. I just realized my last blog post was a review of the movie Rubber. I guess it’s surreal movie week. I am sorry I haven’t had much time to blog, but you have no idea the amount of work I am dealing with right now. After Wonder Con this weekend, plus the 40 or more new shirts I need to upload, plus I am moving this week, not to mention my regular job and the fact that I am trying to get a new army painted for July and I am dating someone, I should be able to get back to my more frequent schedule.
Last post’s who-would-win question, Umbrella Corp verses Omni Consumer Products, I’m going to have to give to OCP. Umbrella might have the zombies, but honestly one ED-209 should be able to kill about 1000 zombies. They might be able to get the T-Virus into Robocop, which would be Zombie Robocop. Kind of scary. (OCP image courtesy of the movie t shirt category)
For today, let’s go classic WWW. Who would win, Superman versus Galactus?
Today I am continuing my interview with Danny Nero, who has worked on Firefly as well as any number of other cool TV and film projects. The photo on the left is Danny’s face coming through the wall in the Angel Episode “Rm w/A Vu”. Very cool.
D: Joss has a huge nerd following. I count myself as one of those. What is it about his style that so accurately taps into the nerd psyche? Is he a nerd himself, or does he just have an incredible insight into the sub-culture? I know he is active on a lot of the forums. Does he follow the trends and have an idea what is hot, or does his understanding of the group allow him to force the next hot thing to happen?
Danny: I don’t think I ever heard Joss refer to himself as a nerd but can’t imagine that he wouldn’t! He is so in tune with popular culture and what stories people like to see.
D: Do you find him approachable at work? For example, if you had an idea for the show you thought worthwhile would you be able to suggest it to him or one of the actors, or is that not really an option?
Danny: He’s always been very approachable but you really have to find a moment when he’s not conferring with writers, producers, and actors! I don’t remember ever making a suggestion to Joss but I know he’s consider it if it was valid. There was an episode of “Angel” that was a flashback to the early fifties where I did make a suggestion about the authenticity of something (a prop telephone) and director Tim Minear overheard me. I was immediately sorry because he made the prop people find another phone and that made their job more difficult and there are only a few phone freaks like me out there that would know the difference!
D: You worked on Firefly and also on the movie Serenity. Did you see a difference in production values between the TV show and the movie? Was the movie better funded and therefore had bells and whistles the TV show never had?
Danny: Yes there was a big difference between working on Firefly and Serenity! You’d think the feature budget would make the TV one look puny but not so much! The Serenity cargo bay was actually bigger on Firefly on the Fox lot. It was pretty close to the same size for the floor area but not as many levels high. The exterior of Serenity was also larger on the Fox lot than the one built at Universal for the feature but I doubt anyone would notice that on film. There was the luxury of time to spend on great lighting setups and camera movement that was frequently a compromise on Firefly. I wonder what your readers have to say about the “look” of the 2 shows. They were shot by two different DP’s or Directors of Photography and each guy has a different way of lighting and use of lenses and even film stock. I haven’t compared them but I imagine others have.
D: On the set did you interact with the actors much?
Danny: As for the actors on Firefly, you really couldn’t ask for a nicer bunch! The work days can be very long and it’s no fun being trapped with a bad group from any department! I have been so fortunate to have worked with such great people over the years! I think Joss does a great job choosing actors that are so talented and fun to be around!
Nathan is just a born comic and supplied countless laughs. Alan is very funny as well and if you’ve seen outtakes (and who hasn’t!) you get a sense that there was plenty of laughter to go around! Jewel has the brightest smile, she does light up most of a soundstage! Gina is the best hugger! Her husband Lawrence Fishbourne visited the set once in awhile and I remember watching Gina perform on a monitor next to him and when they cut, I had to tell him what a lucky man he is. He agreed! It was great to be reunited with Summer from our experience on Angel together.
(Angel Investigations image courtesy of the TV show t-shirts category)
They are a wonderful bunch alright and I was lucky enough to stand-in for Nathan later on the Fox series “Drive” that sadly lasted only 6 episodes. I am so glad for his success on “Castle” even if I was already committed to doing another show.
Adam I’ve run into on “Chuck” a couple of times and he’s been very supportive. He took me into his dressing room several months ago and showed me the finer points of Twitter!
I last saw Morena at a mutual friends Christmas Eve party with her short hair for “V”. We had a good time comparing career choices.
The rest of the cast has been elusive but there is always a chance I’ll run into them on Grey’s! My next series after Firefly was “Alias” and I stood-in for Victor Garber and Greg Grunberg, both great guys that had me working for them on many other shows and pilots.
Headed out to a birthday party for my friend Cathy. Given the fact that I more or less spent my life savings on t shirts, it would not surprise me if she got a t shirt for a gift. Also given that I have only a few to select from for women, odds are it will be this one. I think she will dig it, however. I’ll probably stop off at the supermarket and buy a card too.
Spent part of last night working on some new paint techniques for my Skaven. I need to re-approach how I do rusty metal. My old technique is simple and tends to leave things too metalic, if you know what I mean. My friend Mike showed me some stippling techniques that seem to produce some good results, so I think I might go with that.
Just got the shirt I have been waiting for since I started my site: the Star Wars Empire logo. I will probably go off on this on my next blog, but it is one of the coolest logos ever. I can’t wait to get it into my funny t shirt section.
Anyway, this thing should be most of the day, so I am blowing off all my work for today. Nothing like letting stuff pile up. I’ll probably come home about 10 or so and put in a couple hours, but not close to what I would normally do.
I just reread that last paragraph and realized my life kind of sucks. I need to find something to do besides work on a Saturday night.