Pretty much lives up to it’s name.
Yes I’m still sluggish getting these out. Saw this movie Thursday night but honestly if you saw the amount of work I have piled up (literally) you would understand.
So I enjoyed this film about as much as I expected to (something of a singular event these days). Fortunately I expected to enjoy it a lot. This film follows the typical sequel pattern of a kick ass first movie (haw!) followed by a sequel that is about 80% of the first one. However, when you have a movie as good as the first Kick Ass 80% of it make it as good or better than all the Ryan Reynolds films put together.
The film definitely had a different tone. I would have to say this one was darker, grimmer, and lacking in the cuteness of young Hit Girl. Her assault down the hallway in the gangster penthouse (with Bad Reputation by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts playing in the background) is one of my personal favorite action scenes of the last ten years. She is an iconic character and based on the number of HG costumes I saw at Comic Con a popular one.
Hit Girl is back, but now is cursed with all the teenaged angst that they seem to hand girls on their first day of high school. Due to the nature of the story she is in the film less and fight less, at least until the last 20 minutes, and her fights are just not as super squirrelly as they were in the last one. Her best fight she is not even wearing her HG costume, although that was the fight that most reminded me of the last film.
On the other hand Kick Ass is back and faces some interesting comic book-ish issues, such as why he even became a super hero and what he hopes to accomplish from it. A lot of this movie is taken up with him and Hit Girl in street clothes trying to figure out what they should be doing in life, which tended to make the film less cool and exciting but added a nice note of realism and drama otherwise missing from the last one.
The story starts off with Kick Ass (Anderson Taylor-Johnson-Kick Ass, Savages, Nowhere Boy) back in high school with Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz-Dark Shadows, Hugo, Let Me In), except Hit Girl has been cutting class to train. She gets Kick Ass (yes, I know his character name is Dave and Hit Girl’s is Mindy. I just like calling them by their superhero names) to join her and they start fighting some crime. During their first caper she gets caught by her now legal guardian Marcus (Morris Chestnut-the Call, Boys in the Hood, Identity Thief) and he gets her to promise to stop with the Hit Girl thing. She does out of respect for her father.
Meanwhile Kick Ass has a taste for the action and looks for other super heroes to team up with. New York is now lousy with them and through a guy called Dr. Gravity (Donald Faison-Scrubs, Remember the Titans, Clueless) he meets up with Justice Forever, a team lead by the psychotic Col. Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey-Ace Ventura, Dumb and Dumber, The Truman Show). One of his fellow team members Battle Guy is his old friend Marty (Clark Duke-Hot Tub Time Machine, A Thousand Words, the Croods) and a hot chick named Night Bitch (Lindy Booth-Wrong Turn, Relic Hunter, Dawn of the Dead (image courtesy of the Zombie T Shirt category)). They run around the city doing public service and catching bad guys.
Meanwhile Kick Ass’s old enemy Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse-Superbad, Role Models, Pitch Perfect) is back. He has kind of lost it and is now a super villain named the M-F-er whose sole purpose is to cause pain and suffering in order to destroy Kick Ass. He recruits a bunch of other psychopaths and they go berserk.
I’m going to blow off the rest of the story mainly because it’s late and I always find the story recap to be the most boring and arduous part of these reviews. A movie like this I expect any of my readers to see so the recap is redundant anyway. Sufficed to say crosses are doubled, stuff gets blown up, and a lot of asses get kicked.
Hit Girl is awesome again. One star. The evil team the M-F-er put together was also pretty awesome, especially Mother Russia. One star. I expected all the new super heroes to suck (except for Col. Stars and Stripes) but in fact they were each cool in their own way. One star. All the acting was dead on perfect. One star. The story delved deeper into the angst of being a super hero than most films bother to. I thought it was neat. One star. The fight scenes were all really cool and fun. One star. Comic book movie. One star. Over all a fun, exciting film. Two stars. Total: nine stars.
The black holes:
Honestly I’m at a loss. I could give one for there being less action and more character development, but I just gave the film a star for that a in the last paragraph. Pacing slugged up at times but overall felt right. I’m going to have to do my very rare no black hole reviews. There wasn’t anything I wish they did differently.
So a total of nine stars and my hearty endoursement of this film. Not better than Kick Ass, but worthy be being mentioned in the same sentence. Please see this film in a theater. We need to encourage quality film. Date movie? Meh. Romance was kind of limited to Kick Ass knocking boots with Night Bitch in a bathroom, so not really. Plus if are a Hit Girl fan you might end up looking kind of creepy. Bathroom break? Depends on what you are here for. If all you want is action that kicks ass (that’s the last one I swear) I’d say go in any of the scenes where Hit Girl is trying to convince Kick Ass to put on his costume or Kick Ass is trying to do the same for Hit Girl. If you like the characters and angst involved go during any of the action scenes. (Or if you are a true fan just hold it. It’s only 103 minutes long).
Thanks for reading. I’ll see something tomorrow for sure, but have another trip to Las Vegas that I leave for Monday so I don’t know if I will have time to write it up. Sorry. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. By the way it would be very cool if you liked us on Facebook. If you have comments about this film or my review feel free to post a comment here. Off topic suggestions and review can be emailed to [email protected]. Talk to you soon.
Kind of a study in contrasts today. This is when the business part of my business trip starts. After a leisurely breakfast I was picked up by a raucous crowd of my fellow sales reps. You see, sales reps by nature have kind of over the top personalities. One on one that works great, and people love us and like buying from us (for the most part). However, get more than a few of us in the same room together and it is like standing in a wind tunnel, except instead of air the tunnel is blowing a storm of sales gripes, bad stories, and fart jokes.
After a short drive through some mundane countryside we ended up at a hotel that almost comical in it’s contrast from my time in Venice. It is termed a “business hotel” but could be more accurately described as a “correctional institute”. It is ultra modern, yet bare and oppressive like a medical correctional facility.
Actually, now that I think about it, the building looks and feels like one of those Umbrella research facilities pre T virus outbreak. Bare white corridors, sensing card keys, doors that would not have looked out of place as airlock portals, and everthing steel, white, grey, or beige. If it weren’t for the cute girls behind the desk I would be expected to be experimented on this morning. (Umbrella Corp logo image courtesy of the Zombie Movie T Shirt category)
The room itself is surreal, in that the first one the window or air conditioning didn’t work (this is a brand new building), the beds are tiny, only about 1/2 the light switches actually connect to anything, the shower seems specifically designed to spill water all over the floor, and the room has this power saving feature that requires you to leave your key in a slot by the door or 30 seconds later the power in the room goes off. This is all well and good until your roommate opts to leave the room while you are in the shower, leaving you dripping wet and stumbling around the room naked looking for your key (thanks, Frank).
The guy with the car had to go back to the airport to pick up more of our sales reps, and he dropped me and two others off in a small town to kill time. We had a good lunch (Italian food. Go figure). At that point we discovered that small Italian towns on a Sunday are pretty much deserted wastelands. We must have walked two miles (5 km) and saw maybe four people. None of the shops were open. We ended up sitting on a park bench only to find our friends were having lunch at the exact same restaurant we had eaten at.
After that it was an afternoon and evening of hanging out with my loud American friends. I have to say after three days in charming, quiet Venice being in this ultra-modern eyesore and surrounded by boisterous Americans really made me start to wish I was back in Venice. As I sit here typing I suddenly realize that in spite of all my bitching about stuff I have been really captivated by that town and the culture. I will be back in three days after a bunch of meetings. I won’t say these meetings will be bad, as they really are important to my business, but I think I will be happy to be back in the heart of the canals again.
So my best friend and I were discussing zombies this morning and came to the great debate of fast zombies versus slow zombies. Like most things in life I have an opinion on this matter and have no problem sharing with all of you.
Proponents of slow zombies say that this is the classic mode for zombies, from the Romero days and beyond. While capable of the occasional burst of speed when presented with a close victim, zombies have always moved with a slow, lumbering shamble and there is no reason to change that. Slow zombies tend to be the ones who need to be shot in the head to kill and are otherwise impervious to most other damage. They feel no pain or desire other than to eat the flesh (or brains) of the living. They are literally animated rotting corpses and tend to show it (Zombie Target courtesy of the Zombie T-Shirt category). Good slow zombie movies include any George Romero or Lugio Fulci films, Zombie Squad, Zombie Lake, the first two Resident Evil video games, the Walking Dead, Cemetery Man, Dead Snow, and Shaun of the Dead.
On the other hand, fans of fast zombies are quick to point out that the original zombie was not even a walking corpse but rather a drugged human in Haiti, and that the undead zombies are an evolution of zombiehood. Why not then extend the evolution further and have faster and faster moving zombies? Or, for that matter, why not have giant fast moving behemoths that are sort of related to zombies? Most fast moving zombies actually tend to be infected humans and in a weird way are more closely related to the original Haitian zombies. They therefore can be shot anywhere and be affected; however their total lack of fear or pain registration tends to make them pretty hard to put down. They also tend to mutate and grow things like claws and super long tongues that can strangle you, which again calls the whole zombiedom into question. Films that include fast zombies are 28 Days Later, Zombieland, Dawn of the Dead (the Zack Snyder remake), Return of the Living Dead, Dead Alive, and most modern video games like Left 4 Dead.
Honestly it boils down to tone, and for me slow zombies are what a zombie movie is all about. If you give a zombie anything faster than a stumble you turn the movie from a zombie film to a horror film. The zombies are just bad Freddy Kruggar clones sans sweater and claws, and fast motion belies the brainless nature that makes zombies less an active force bent on your destruction and more an unstoppable force of nature. The menace of the zombies is not in one fast zombie sneaking in under your arc of fire and killing you. It is in being overwhelmed by a stumbling horde of mindless eating machines. True zombie movies are in truth survival movies, and the zombies themselves are just another obstacle to confront the protagonists, along with issues of shelter, food, and gas.
Like George Romero always implies in his films, the real danger in a zombie movie is other humans, not the zombies. When you give zombies human-like abilities it degrades the zombie experience.
Thanks for reading. As for movie reviews, this is one of the bleakest weekends ever for film releases. Not only is there nothing I am excited to see, I can honestly say I am dreading most of them. I will see something later tonight and write it up tomorrow, but I am not really gung ho for it. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu or email me here with suggestions or ideas. If you have an opinion on the fast zombie/slow zombie issue please post a comment here. Talk to you soon.
So I just read online that Will Smith has agreed to do a sequel to I am Legend, the horrible remake of the really good Omega Man starring Charlton Heston. Didn’t his character die at the end of I am Legend? Unless they expect us to believe that he is such a bad ass he was able to fight off about 100 infected humans with a scalpel. Also, didn’t he blow himself up with a grenade?
The really funny thing is the only thing they took from the book and movie was the title. The reason it was called I am Legend was the one remaining human survivor wasn’t really a scientist. He was a guy who would go out every day and kill the infected humans as they slept. What he didn’t realize was that over time they were regaining control of their higher brain functions and were reforming society, just a sort of vampire/zombie can’t stand the light sort of way, and he was becoming a legend as a supernatural mass murderer. Very cleverly done in my opinion. This movie was total crap and the fact that it made serious money means the movie going audience is comprise of morons.
Dave doesn’t have any I Am Legend merchandise so I lifted this image from his zombie t shirts. He says I should put in an image for each post. It’s not really an infected human like in I am Legend. More of a classic zombie. You get the idea.
I read this morning on Nerd Reactor that RE6 is rumored to take place in China. I think this is hilarious. You see, Capcom has received a lot of well deserved abuse for the apparent racism associated with RE5, with a white protagonist mowing down hundreds of diseased Africans in an attempt to prevent a worldwide plague. In fact, RE4 got a certain amount of protest for being racist, with the abused race being South American. Capcom responded by coming out with an even more racist game.
So why does that make China really funny? Well, racially the Japanese and Chinese don’t exactly get along like peas in a pod, and in truth the majority of the blame for that can rest on the Japanese shoulders. They did horrific things to the Chinese during WWII, and the Chinese have not forgotten. The Chinese are pretty sensitive about fictional things happening in their country, and have really strict rules for gore and blood (they can’t, for example, show human bones ever). While we may not see this from our Western perspective, this is a huge racist insult. I guess Capcom isn’t going to let any petty morality prevent them from making a buck. Sounds a little like Umbrella Corp. to me. This very cool zombie picture I got from the Resident Evil T Shirts category, by the way.
Talk to you soon.
One thing it appears Dave and I agree on it’s that zombies rule and the Walking Dead is one of the greatest TV shows on right now. Great story, great characters, and great zombies. The good news is I just found out is that AMC has just ordered another 16 episodes is addition to the ones they are showing right now in season 2. Excellent choice. Of course it always makes me laugh when AMC does great original TV like the Walking Dead or Breaking Bad when their initials stand for American Movie Classics. Shouldn’t they be showing Gone With the Wind all day or something?
Something that has always amused me about zombies is the guys who are huge fans and are hoping for the big zombie apocalypse (like Dave) are also the guys most likely to end up zombie chow in the first ten minutes. Most of them seem to think hey are going to run around with a shotgun like on this zombie t shirt and be the hero of the wasteland, but based on what I have seen with regards to physical abilities things are going to go badly for them pretty quick. I’m sure if zombie apocalypse took place in Warsong Gulch they would do fine, but anyone remember the scene in Zombieland when the main guy describes the reason cardio is so important?
A really, really, really dumb movie that for some unfathomable reason has some entertaining moments.
If the year of movies in America were like driving across the USA, than October would be crossing West Texas. 1000 miles of pretty much nothing, with a ton of little one horse towns filled with bored locals. If we were to push this analogy further, then the Three Musketeers would be the town of Pecos, TX. A mid sized community (pop 9501) that is probably a nice place to live but dead, dead boring.
Not to say that the Three Musketeers is is boring. It was directed by Paul Anderson, the director of the Resident Evil series, and like those movies he managed to insert some entertaining, over the top action scenes. However, where those types of scenes mesh well in the fantasy world of zombies and Mila Jovovich, in a movie without any kind of super science or super natural antagonist it starts to look really silly. He manages to inject Mila Jovovich (his wife) as well, where she pretty much plays Alice in a corset. (Zombie target image courtesy of the zombie movie t shirts)
He seems to have “borrowed” from a lot of movies, actually. Besides Alice, he must have kidnapped the action choreographer from Pirates of the Carribean, as well as the steam punk super technology that we still can’t do today from Wild, Wild West (remember the giant steam punk spider? If something failed miserably in a past crappy movie, obviously the answer is to keep pushing into the face of the audience until they learn to accept it). He also seems to have felt there weren’t enough tributes to Raiders of the Lost Ark and Mission Impossible in the world, as both of those moves make an appearance here like an unsavory object of indeterminate nature floating on the surface of a scummy pond.
The thing that surprised me was how close to the original story by Alexandre Dumas (who, in a move that kind of infuriates me for reasons I can’t quite pin down, gets third billing in the credits). It was pretty much the true story. However, once that story as the skeleton they decided to flesh it out with as much stupidity as humanly possible. It’s like using the body of an Olympic athlete as the basis for your Frankenstein monster, but then using the corpses of 50 dead, decayed clowns for the rest of him. Then you cover the whole thing with shrink-wrapped stupidity.
I’m not kidding about the stupid, by the way. The movie dipped deep into the suck zone in the opening scene. A guard walks to the edge of a Venice canal and is shot from underwater by some kind of crossbow. I might have believed a trained soldier being capable of using a straw or tube of some kind to swim up stealthily and might have had a crossbow that was build to fire underwater, but that is not what happened. No, what we have here is a leather SCUBA suit (no joke) and some kind of multiple mechanical dart thrower. The problem is the movie really didn’t need all the really dumb advanced primitive technology. Everything in it could have been accomplished better without giving your prop guy a dream assignment. Examples of this advanced steam punk technology includes but is not limited to a flying dirigible with no sign of motive power other than a few sails that is capable of maneuvering through the air at will like the Enterprise, monofiliment wire capable of cutting a silk ribbon to shreds from it’s own weight (you really feel the Resident Evil in that scene), some kind of rotating machine gun cannon (it’s almost like the designer of the sky ship knew ahead of time that at some point it would have to fight a battle with only four crewmen), centuries old booby traps that still manage to shoot hundreds of spiked balls, some kind of wood that can bounce cannon balls, and an advanced zip line.
It really aggravates after about the fifth time you see something this dumb, and does absolutely nothing to advance the story. I see this as Paul Anderson and the prop designers having a big circle jerk. I think it telling that, in all the previews I have seen for this movie, never once do we see a hand cranked flamethrower or flying ship, in spite of the fact that they all seem to be pretty prevalent in the movies. Somewhere along the line I suspect a marketing guy was given the assignment to sell the movie to the public, took a look at the available footage, and said “No way can we use this crap to do more than alienated the audience.” Maybe that guy should have been shown the script sooner.
The story. If you have read the book, you know the story. D’Artagnan arrives in Paris to become a Musketeer and ends up challenging each of the three, who are all disgraced for failing in the Venice SCUBA mission (they were betrayed by Milady, Mila Jovovich) to a duel. He also gets into it with Rochefort, the captain of the bad guy’s guard. They attack the four of them together and they bond as they cut through the enemy swordsmen like a chainsaw through butter. Turn out the bad guy, Cardinal Richelieu (played by the great Christopher Watlz, although for this movie he just seemed to be replaying Colonel Landa), wants to wrest control of France from the young king and his queen. He frames the Queen in an affair with the Duke of Buckingham (played by Orlando Bloom with the worst hair cut ever. Think a brunette Flock of Seagulls) and has Mila plant a diamond necklace on the Duke. The Three Musketeers (plus D’Artagnan) must recover the necklace or the queen will be executed and war with England will ensue. They steal the duke’s flying airship to do so. Stuff blows up. Sword fights ensue. A dumb romantic sub plot with one of the worst actresses I’ve seen in a long time (Gabrielle Wilde, who has no other movie credits although she did have a part in Dr. Who) pains my eyes.
The stars. They stayed close to the original story. One star. Christopher Waltz. One star. They didn’t resort to that one second quick cut fight sequence I hate so much, which means they hired a fight choreographer. One star. I can’t say any of the acting was particularly good, but I will say pretty much all the actors seemed to have realized what kind of tripe they were producing and played it very tongue in cheek. Not enough to reduce the pain of the movie, but it did soften it a bit. One star. For reasons I hate to admit some of the scenes were indeed entertaining. One star. Total: five stars.
The black holes. Stupid Wild Wild West-esque steam punk technology that did nothing for the movie. Two black holes. Every single character with the partial exception of Richelieu was painfully one dimensional. One black hole. No attempt whatsoever to make the language sound anything like something from 400 years ago. Hackneyed, campy dialog. Sorry, 17th century people do not use the phrase “state of the art.” One black hole. For that matter, about 1/3rd of the characters had English accents, the rest all had American, and not a single person in this movie about France had a French accent. I wouldn’t mind French accents, British accents, or American accents but pick one and stick with it. One black hole. At no point did any of the bad guys seem to realize that, instead of sending wave after wave of swordsmen to kill the four guys who just cut the last six waves to pieces, they could just sit back and shoot them. One black hole. This movie squatted squarely over their PG-13 rating and never moved an inch or pushed the envelope at all, to the detriment of most of the action. One black hole. Mila Jovovich has the assignment of stealthily sneaking into the queens chambers to plant evidence and steal a necklace as part of a nefarious plot, and decides the best way to lend credence to the plan is to slaughter a dozen guards, which no one remarks upon or seems to notice. One black hole. One extra black hole for the leather SCUBA suit, which particularly offended me. Orlando Bloom’s haircut. One black hole. An ending so filled with plot holes you could have used it to strain your pasta. One black holes. Worthless, worthless, worthless 3D effects. I want my extra $3 back. One black hole. The Three Musketeers mission was to prevent a war with England, yet during the course of executing it managed to start a war with England. One black hole. Total: thirteen black holes.
So a total of eight black holes, a crappy score for a crappy movie. However, if you are a fan of movies like Pirates of the Carribean, can suspend your disbelief so high it needs an oxygen supply, suffered recent severe brain damage, or plan to get really drunk and/or stoned before seeing this, then I think you could enjoy it. It does have some entertainment value, in the same way picking your scabs is weirdly entertaining. I didn’t feel as ripped off as I usually do after an eight black hole movie. If you do fall into one of those categories than by all means see it in a theater, as the action I think would suffer on a smaller screen.
You know, something else about this movie occurred to me while I was talking to a friend of mine about going to see it, and that is in my recollection I cannot remember any Three Musketeers being remotely good. I have thought about it for a while, and I think I have an answer. It all has to do with the pants. The clothing from pre French Revolution France is so ridiculous looking that you cannot take anyone in it at all seriously. I think most writers realize that. Unfortunately that kind of corrals them into making a silly, campy, dumb movie. I read the Three Musketeers as a kid and thought it was pretty cool. However, the one thing I did not picture while reading it was men wearing frilly pantaloons and high heeled shoes. Once I saw the clothing these guys had to wear back than it more or less tainted the reading experience for me. I can’t take a character wearing a paisley top hat as a serious action character.
Anyway, thanks again for reading. We had some kind of technical problem this weekend, but I think the site is back up and running (either that or I just totally wasted 90 minutes of my life, in addition to the 110 minutes I wasted watching this thing). Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. More crap out this weekend. I don’t think I can see Paranormal Activity 3 and review it fairly as I have not seen the first two, but I will try to see Johnny English soon. Looks horrible. Talk to you later.
Yes, I’m back on the dating thing again. I think I have let it lie fallow long enough to let all the dating manure re-fertilize my dating advice farm. For now I am going to talk about the perfect date-movie night in.
Why is this the perfect date? Because in 90% of dating situations this usually means that the girl is finally comfortable enough to hang out with you in a place with a couch, a bed, and no witnesses (in the other 10% it is either her chance to really screw with your head or drug you and leave you in a bathtub full of ice with your kidneys missing). I won’t be so crude as to say this is guaranteed a night of sex, but I will say that as long as you don’t choke majorly your odds of making this happen have increased dramatically.
The operative phrase in that last paragraph is “as long as you don’t choke.” The chance of blowing it completely still really exists, and most of the onus is on you to make it happen (or at least not lose any major organs). It’s like playing pool and having the 8 ball lined up against the corner pocket. Easy win, but if you are off by even a little it could still bounce out.
So, how to we make the evening work perfectly? Like all my other advice, I am going to give you explicit, excruciating details on what to do and, more importantly, what not to do. But first, we need to interpret the exact circumstances of the date.
The major question is if she is willing to go to your place, or have you over to hers. If she wants you go come over to her place that is both good and bad. Good in the sense that because she is in a place she feels comfortable she will be more relaxed and at ease. However, there have been many times I have been invited over to her place only to find her roommate hanging out on the couch joining us for whatever flick we are going to watch. This set of circumstances is usually set up ahead of time by the girl in order to have her roommate scope you out from head to toe, as well as provide a safety net in case she decides you aren’t the man she wants to hook up with. If you do well the roommate will receive whatever subtle signal was prearranged and slink back into her cave, leaving you alone with your date on the couch, or you and your date will retire to her boudoir to make out on her bed. If you don’t measure up expect the roommate to hang out all night or even be the one to say something like “You should probably get going now” while your date is in the restroom or looking really uncomfortably at the wall. In my experience, women roommates take on a weird family/control role that is usually lacking in male roommates, perhaps because men don’t really care enough to step in and do something.
Anyway, if she has you over to her place and her place is otherwise empty, than things look good. She is probably plagued by self doubt and self esteem issues, and wants to show you her perfect home, complete with doilies and a duvet. If she has real issues she will probably cook a meal for you. Compliment her apartment (“Nice place. Lots of…space.” Bruce Wayne and the Joker-Batman), compliment the food (“Brains? You shouldn’t have!” Zombie image courtesy of the Resident Evil t shirt category), and compliment her (“The candlelight really catches the gleam off your fangs.”). Eat every spec of food on your plate (or surreptitiously slip a few bites to the cat) and ask for seconds.
Honestly, that’s it. Dress nice, act nice, watch the movie, and make the move with third base as your minimum goal. At her place it is easy.
If, on the other hand, she wants to do this at your place, that is the dating equivalent of activating a malfunctioning warp drive and hoping you don’t get slammed into a black hole. I will discuss the implications and kind of prep work you need to do on this starting with tomorrows post. That’s it for today.
Before I get into my review I would like to say a few words about the tragic death of Randy “Macho Man” Savage. I have never been a huge pro wresting fan in spite of wrestling myself in high school. However, I became a fan of Macho Man when he played Bonesaw McGraw in the first Spiderman movie. I also enjoyed him immensely when he played Rasslor in Dial M for Monkey from Dexter’s Laboratory, one of the best episodes they did. It’s obvious he had a great sense of humor, and I will miss hearing his signature “Oh, yeah!”
Anyway, Pirates of the Caribbean. This has always been my favorite ride at Disneyland, although as a kid I (according to my mother) called it Pirates of the Can-o-beans. I also have to admit in spite of my natural inclination to despise anything with the Disney stamp on it, kind of enjoyed the first two films. I missed the third one, something I think might have damaged my enjoyment of this one somewhat. I should also like to warn you that I am a huge fan of the great book On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, and author who either produces some of the greatest fiction on the planet or complete boring garbage. He writes like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Boring.
So On Stranger Tides is one of his best (second only to Last Call, in my opinion). However, when I heard this I have to admit that the bar was raised considerably for me, which is always a mistake. This film didn’t suck any more or for any other reasons that the other ones did (although they managed to avoid the stupid three barreled gatling gun cannon that Davy Jones had in the second film), but when it committed all the usual annoyances it wasn’t so much that they tripped on the bar as clotheslined themselves with it.
As an aside, I was really expecting them to keep some of the great story elements from the book, but except for the facts that the story involved pirates looking for the Fountain of Youth and using zombie crewmen, they more or less ignored the book entirely. It’s like the writers chewed up and swallowed the book and, twelve hours later, excreted a steaming On Stranger Tides flavored pile of script. It’s unfortunate, as the book is really good and would have made an amazing movie, but now that Disney has marked that territory it will never happen. (Zombie image courtesy of the video game t shirts category)
Those two paragraphs are a little unfair. Pirates offers up an entertaining two and a half hours in the standard Disney formula. The only real problem is if you have seen any of the first three movies you have pretty much seen this one. I challenge anyone who is not a screaming Johnny Depp fan to sit through a Pirates marathon. You’ll be keel hauling yourself by the end.
Anyway, the movie. I really don’t want to throw in any spoilers, but there are a couple points I need to make that might do it a little. I’ll put in spoiler alert when I do, but really if you hate spoilers you might want to skip the next couple paragraphs. So, Captain Jack Sparrow is without a ship or crew and needing to recruit them all. Some dumb filler crap happens in London and he ends up shanghaied into the crew of Blackbeard, who for some reason has super hot Penelope Cruz as a first mate is is somehow his daughter and one of Jack Sparrows ex love interests. Blackbeard has been prophesied to die at the hand of a one legged man. By coincidence Capt. Babarossa has resurfaced missing a leg and having complete hatred of Blackbeard. Anyway, Blackbeard wants to find the Fountain of Youth in order to cheat the prophesy. Babarossa has been sent by some foppish English lord to find the Fountain of Youth and, as a floating deus ex machina, the Spanish have sent three ships to find it too. At that point the movie basically becomes Scooby Doo meets the Amazing Race as the three groups progress towards the fountain.
Pirate hijinks ensue (literally. The action was pretty goofy. Disney is to action scenes what Twinkes are to dieting). Mermaids attack. Zombies are promoted to middle management. Johnny Depp is charmingly self centered and irreverent. Barbossa and Sparrow get involved in the stupidest teeter totter ever. The physics of sailing vessels is more or less disregarded entirely.
First the stars. The story is linear and entertaining. One star. Johnny Depp is extremely engaging as an actor. Two stars. Pretty much all the rest of the acting was well done, especially Blackbeard (Ian McShane, from Deadwood). Two stars. Penelope Cruz is hot. One star. Casting was great. One star. Filming and editing were really good. One star. They restricted the comedy relief to Jack Sparrow. One star. Overall, the story was more like Curse of the Black Pearl and less like the lame second film. One star. Dialog was clever and funny. One star. Total: eleven stars.
Now the black holes. The “action” started off lame and got worse as the movie progressed. I’m sorry, but two guys carrying a plank are going to notice a fully grown man jumping on the plank, not keep carrying him perfectly level through the crowd. I know these movies are supposed to be dopey on the action, but this stuff felt like a toothache that got worse as the movie progressed. One black hole. Claiming to be inspired by a great book but then ignoring it completely. One black hole. Mermaids were kind of dumb. One black hole. SPOILER ALERTS! They had a really interesting plot conundrum in having to transport a mermaid over dry land in a big aquarium but as soon as it became inconvenient she magically grew legs. One black hole. The Spanish had a secret goal they could have accomplished about 45 minutes into the film by destroying some artifacts but didn’t. One black hole. So much deus ex machina that God must have been working as a Production Assistant on the set. One black hole. A shockingly anticlimactic ending. One black hole. They crowbarred in a really dumb romance that made almost no sense. One black hole. Total: nine black holes.
So a net total of two stars. Not bad, and if you can stomach dumb Disney action entertaining. If you can approach it with the right attitude (cough cough stoned cough cough) it will actually be a lot of fun, and for the most part good for kids too (I had another crying baby in the theater, BTW. What is up with you parents???). Worth seeing in a theater, in my opinion.
Not sure what I have on deck for tomorrow. I have a lot I am doing this week and am getting ready for a big gaming convention this weekend. If any of you are going to Kublacon stop by and say hi. Talk to you soon.
So I am doing this review by request from my best friend Dave (yes, my best friend is ALSO named Dave. He does exist, and just because none of my other friends have ever met him or can tell you what he looks like in no way implies that I made up an imaginary friend and gave him the same name in some kind of schizophrenic ego boost. By the way, Dave is watching you right now and thinks that t-shirt you are wearing is pretty cool). He has been reading the Dylan Dog comic for years and tells me it is both bloody and chock full of gratuitous nudity. It is written Tiziano Sclavi in Italy. He says it is great, and wanted to get my opinion of the film.
Actually, I can’t help but feel like the lab monkey on this one, or the kid the other kids get to eat something first. However, I have been looking for a bad movie to review for a while and, to be honest, was usually the first one to try something as a kid, so I don’t mind. In fact, if you have a movie you would like to see a review from feel free to post a response to any of my review or send me an email at [email protected] or send me a message on Twitter and I will see what I can do.
Also, I don’t know if this is at all significant, but in addition to Italy and USA Dylan Dog is published in Croatia, Serbia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Turkey. I’m kind of at a loss as to what kind of observation I can make based on that list, but somehow it seems more than a little weird.
Anyway, Dylan Dog the movie. Honestly, I am a little repulsed by movies like this not because it’s particularly bad or good but because it is so bland. I mean, it definitely sucks on many levels, but it doesn’t suck enough to make it really fun and interesting. I think the best way to describe it is confused. It can’t really decide what it is. Is it a monster hunting Buffy the Vampire slayer flick or a true horror movie? One minute you are seeing some really decent (given the budget they probably were working with) CGI werewolf transformation and in the next seeing a guy in a rubber suit that looks like it escaped from the set of Creature from the Black Lagoon. Are vampires and werewolves faster and more powerful than mortals, or can an ordinary human kill mass numbers of them with impunity? Are zombies creatures of horror, or are they cheesy comedy relief? Are vampires sexy creatures of the night (Twilight sucks) or are they primitive, savage killers? It is all so disjointed. However, from what I have seen I can’t really blame the comic. These issues I lay firmly at the feet of the director and producers.
(Lugio Fulci Zombie image courtesy of the horror movie t shirt category)
SPOILER ALERT! I don’t really expect many of you to see this film, so I am going to let myself go nuts on the story details. If you plan to see this film and feel that me telling you the ending might detract from the subtle nuances of the film maybe you should skip to the final two paragraphs of this review. I don’t think I will be annoying many people.
Anyway, the story. Honestly, if you have ever read any of the Dresden Files than you pretty much know the story already (Dylan even drives an old Volkswagon), although Dylan Dog preceded Jim Butchers novels by about 10 years, so I guess it’s possible Butcher borrowed from Dylan. Dylan is a private investigator that used to specialize in the paranormal, although he claims to be retired and now does divorce investigations. A hot chick with a really annoying Scandinavian accent hires him to investigate the death of her father, who was killed by a werewolf. He refuses, but agrees after his best friend (who managed to deliver a homoerotic undercurrent with Dylan) is also killed (for no reason that makes sense to me) and comes back as a zombie. Zombies in this movie are not mindless, soulless flesh eaters. Instead they are relatively normal with their intellects intact, except for the fact that they keep rotting and have to eat worms, grubs, and hot dogs (actually that made me laugh). They are also pretty much the comic relief of the film, with a market selling replacement body parts and so on.
Dylan also used to be the mortal intermediary between vampires and werewolves, which is how he got into this business. He lost his job when he went nuts and killed a bunch of older vampires with wooden bullets (?? Honestly, wood does not sound like it makes the most accurate projectile, and the human heart is about the size of your fist. If you have ever been to a gun range you know how hard it is to hit on a paper target that isn’t moving, but somehow Dylan manages to hit every vampire he shoots at in the movie in the heart with surgical precision). After his friend gets killed he takes the case. The movie kind of gets confusing at that point. The dad at one point had a silver cross that could summon some big bad ass monster and everyone wants it. The vampires seem to get the bad guys, but they tend to look a lot like the werewolves, and somehow they have a giant zombie working for them who also looks like a werewolf. Undead action hijinx ensues (sort of). Some civilians are killed, including two cops, but no one seems to care. At the end the girl who hired Dylan turns out to be from a family of monster hunters and wants to summon the big monster herself. The monster is summoned and then more or less stupidly kills himself (it was established multiple times that the only way to kill the big bad would be to kill the person who summoned him. Why then would he take the girl who summoned him and toss her across the room, then leave to let the werewolves literally eat her). Dylan really has nothing to do with the ending and could probably have stayed home and not gotten an ass beating.
First the stars. Comic book movie. One star. Zombies. One star. Vampires that burst into flame in the sunlight, not sparkle (Twilight sucks). One star. Some episodes of decent CGI. One star. There is good chemistry between Dylan and his zombie sidekick that wanders aimlessly into the entertaining zone. One star. Total: five stars.
Now for the sweet, suc(k)culent black holes. Throughout the movie Dylan Dog does a detective noir voice over monolog that made me want to run upstairs and murder the projectionist. One black hole. The acting from all characters except for the zombie comedy relief dismally sucked. One black hole. Dylan Dog, in spite of trying to appear a grizzled private dick, looked and sounded like the really annoying version of Superman (not a coincidence, as Brandon Routh played Superman in the last film). One black hole. The directer couldn’t find a tone for his movie (Horror? Comedy? Grindhouse? Detective film? Two part Buffy episode?). Two black holes. The film really bent time and space in order to maintain that PG-13 rating. No real gore, and absolutely no nudity in spite of the source content. I swear they might have gotten a PG rating if they tried. The movie felt like the vampire version of the Goonies. One black hole. There was no appeal for the protagonist or his romantic interest. The only character worth watching was the zombie sidekick. One black hole. The movie established early on that Dylan would suffer no consequences from the bad stuff by falling off a second floor and landing on a table only to jump up to fight, making the action painfully boring. I found myself struggling to stay awake during some of the action sequences. One black hole. The boss monster, while kind of cool looking, was really dumb in letting his mortal connection die easy. One black hole. In spite of having the strength of 10 men and otherwise being superhuman, the vampires seem to die in droves at the hands of humans. One black hole. In spite of the clues spoon fed to us by the Dylan Dog monolog the story was pretty confusing. One black hole. The “hot girl” was not that hot, seemed to have issues showing anything more than a shoulder blade, and had an annoying accent. One black hole. The makeup for the werewolves is really amateurish. I have seen better on YouTube videos. One black hole. Total: 13 black holes.
So a grand total of eight black holes, which is kind of worse than I thought it was going to end up with. It seems to suffer from the director wanting to cram about five years worth of comics into one movie. I don’t think it is in real danger of turning into a cult movie. That being said, a decent evening could be had with beer and pizza watching it online.
It might be pretty obvious to most savvy readers, but I am kind of new to the whole internet promotion thing and social media. I probably should have been putting this into my blogs months ago, but you can follow me on Twitter at @nerdkungfu. My Facebook page is pretty pathetic, so I will forgo posting it here, but you can find me if you look hard enough. I’m headed to a weekend Warhammer tournament and probably won’t post anything until Sunday night, but will be updating things on Twitter. Thanks everyone for reading this and your support.