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.
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.
So my quest to find a bad movie to bag on remains unfulfilled. Hanna wasn’t great, but it also didn’t feel like parts of my brain were shriveling while I watched it, which is pretty much what I was looking for (see my review for the Warriors Way if you want a good example). It was a flesh wound.
Before I get into the story and specific stars and black holes, I will say this. It is an axiom of film, comic book, and video game that any attempt to genetically engineer a super soldier will inevitably result in one of those soldiers rising up and killing everyone who was remotely involved, and Hanna is not the exception to that rule. Also, in the lexicon of bad places to hang out in any kind of movie or video game, abandoned amusement parks always rank in the top three (along with abandoned schools and abandoned hospitals. Ironically, in my book graveyards don’t even hit the top 10, unless it’s a zombie film (Zombie image courtesy of the zombie movie t-shirts)) and Hanna lives up to the stereotype.
So the story is of a young girl, raised by a Grizzly Adams looking guy in the woods of a country in Europe (? Never clearly defined. They seemed in imply Scandinavia, but since I have license and am also a big Three Stooges fan, for simplicities sake we’ll call it the Kingdom of Moronica) where she has a typical childhood upbringing-killing animals with a bow, shooting stuff with a Lugar, and having her father train her to be professional assassin by constantly sneaking up on her and trying to kill her. In other words, a completely stable, wholesome upbringing with no chance whatsoever of massive psychological damage. (I’m being factitious here, of course. The girl is basically being raised in a blood lined Skinner box). It turns out that she was part of some super soldier program and her father took her away after her mother was killed by a woman with shockingly red hair. They summon the US agency that he used to work for that goes unnamed but for the partially seen seal on a wall is the Ce….. …………. …..cy. Subtle. Anyway, for no apparent reason he bails on Hanna, leaving her to deal with the spy hit team (also sent out for no apparent reason). She gets captured and ends up in a long chase across Europe, where she meets an English family, and is headed for Germany for something.
That’s really my only problem with the movie. There is a lot of lack of motivation for anyone to do anything. I spent the entire movie plagued by “wh” questions. As in, why didn’t they just leave and head to Germany together? What were they hoping to accomplish there? Why would the father take the time to train Hanna to be a super spy assassin, as well as educate her in at least five different languages and the weight of a blue whales testicles (no joke), but not bother to teach her what a passport is or what electric lights or a television are? What kind of spy doesn’t need to know that? What ended up happening to the family that helped Hanna? Why didn’t the super secure facility where they brough Hanna not have security grates on the air vents (or something. Not sure what she was running around in) to prevent escape, or for that matter even a padlock on the exit door? Why would they dress their prisoner in an orange jumpsuit that is almost exactly the same color as the desert rocks outside the underground facility? Why didn’t the trained military guys notice the open manhole they were driving over?
The list goes on. All these questions gave the whole story a weird, disjointed feeling.
Anyway, spy hijinx ensues. A number of trained, grown men are killed by a 16 year old girl. That’s pretty much the bulk of the story.
First, the stars. The girl who plays Hanna, Saoirse Ronan, does an amazing job for such a young girl. I expect to see her do some great stuff in the future. Two stars. As disjointed as some of the film feels, there literally wasn’t a dull moment. One star. Most of the European and African scenery was great, and shot to good effect. One star. Kate Blanchet was pretty good as the heavy, although her Southern accent felt really forced. One star. The father was also pretty good, at least once he shaved off his really bad beard and cut his hair. One star. There is one really good villain from the “effete German soulless killer” school that, while stereotypical, was entertaining. One star. They didn’t try to exploit the cute young girl with some lame love interest (the Professional). One star. I have my issues, but don’t want to bury this film in black holes, so I am going to give two more stars just on general enjoyment. Total: 10 stars.
Now the black holes. I could give about 50 for each of the “wh” questions that came into my head while watching this, but I will be kind and restrict it to three. This may sound petty, but the soundtrack (by the Chemical Brothers, whom I normally like) literally sounded like cell phone ring tones most of the time. I’m not kidding. Every time they changes scenes and a new track would play people in the audience were checking their phones to see if they had left them on. One black hole. I’m really bugged that I never found out what happened to the British family that helped Hanna, and when you see the movie you will understand why. One black hole. The British family, while kind of entertaining and integral to the story, also annoyed me by trying to crowbar in all the pop culture references Hanna, having grown up in the woods eating deer meat, couldn’t. One black hole. While almost all the action sequences were good and well choreographed, there were a couple, especially towards the end, that had me saying “duh”. One black hole. Total, seven black holes.
Grand total of three stars, which honestly is not bad. I don’t think you really need to run out and see this in the theater, but if you can see it cheap go for it. Definitely put it on your NetFlix list. You won’t feel like you wasted your time seeing this one.
I might go see something tonight, being yet another cheap movie night at Jack London Square, but my options are limited. Insidious looks scary as hell, Soul Surfer has sharks, Scream 4 is getting decent reviews, and Hop might put me into a sugar coma. None of the looks sucktastic enough to make a great review, although Hop is probably my best candidate. At least I can talk about the many childhood Easter traumas I experienced.
So it has been a week and a half since my last post and I apologize. Honestly, I have had too much going on in my life. The last part of last month was all about getting ready for Wonder Con. Then three days of Wonder Con, which more or less left me a zombie after each day of the show. Then I took the opportunity to move to a bigger apartment and am still in the midst of trying to get unpacked (I have a lovely new living room and dinning area. Problem is I cant actually get to either of them as they are full up with boxes, bookcases, and a suspiciously unused exercise bike). Also I got sick for a couple days.
Anyway, needless to say, my life has been pretty exhausting lately and I haven’t had the time or energy for anything more than work or sleep. However, as I get my life and business back under control I should be able to keep things moving on the blogging front, at least until the next major event convergence.
Let me say first of all, Wonder Con was busier and more fun than last year. My best friend drove up from LA with his two boys and it was great to see him. I had good people helping me in the booth and sold a ton of shirt. Best of all, the shirt that outsold all the rest was my own design, this lovely zombie target practice shirt from the zombie movie t shirt category. Make me very happy and proud.
Second of all, it was a ton of fun. Lots of cool people, some really amazing costumes (as well as some amazingly bad ones), celebrities, panels, debuts, and all the stuff a good convention could have. Or so I hear second hand, as I didn’t have five minutes away from the booth, as two of the girls I hired got sick (and then got me sick, I found) and couldn’t work on Saturday. Fortunately I had a good friend in the city willing to work for t-shirts, so I was able to cover it. Still we could have used the help.
Anyway, I am falling asleep even as I type this. I am not event going to proofread this post, so enjoy the typos. I’ll get back into blogging full time starting tomorrow. For now, good night.
So I hope everyone had a great New Years Eve. I did, and am anticipating a great 2011. I am by nature an optimist, but my experience has trained me to be more of a pessimist. I am trying to get past that. I like to tell everyone my attitude is like my blood type: B+ (it really is).
Anyway, I am going to celebrate New Years Day as only a nerd should; I am going to spend the day painting miniatures for my new Warhammer army and playing video games. Later on I am going to an unwind party at a friends house in San Francisco. Should be fun.
Sorry for the short, subjectless post, but if I did any more it would smack of work and I am trying to avoid that. I hope you all have a great holiday, and that 2011 is a vast improvement over the dregs that was 2010.
I will answer the who-would-win question, as those are more fun than work. In the fight between Mad Max and Alice from RE, I think it’s pretty circumstantial. If Max met Alice on the road in cars, Max would kick her ass. If they met on foot, Alice would probably win, especially with Max’s gimp leg. She has better combat and acrobatic skills. Notice Max did not even try to go toe to toe with the acrobatic Wes in the movie on foot, but had no problem beating him while driving a vehicle. It’s all about fighting in your best element. (Umbrella Corporation image courtesy of the Resident Evil t shirt category)
For today, I will ask one that I really thing could be hard to figure out. Who would win in a fight between Deadpool and Solomon Grundy? By the way, I am going to let this one go for a while and make a contest of it. Send me your answer on this one and why and the person who comes up with the best response will get two free buttons of your choice, including the very cool Marvel or Star Wars buttons. Email your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was going to talk about more specific dance moves, but honestly I think I have given you enough to work with, at least at first. Also, I have worked all day and am feeling too lazy to really do a lot of research. I’ll do more some other time, but instead I will address another issue that will come up as you dance: how long should you dance?
The short answer on this is as long as she wants to. Remember, part of dancing is showing her how viral and healthy you are, and bailing out from exhaustion before she does is not a way of communicating this idea. So unless you are seeing spots and/or losing feeling in 1/2 of your body, dance until she looks like she is ready to stop. Keep an eye on signs of tiredness from her, including slowing down, looking bored, our outright passing out. If you are about to pass out yourself and your choices are get off the dance floor or move towards the light, a good excuse is ask her if she wants another drink. If she says no prepare to meet your ancestors.
(if she starts doing the Dance of the Living Dead like these guys, it might be time to ask if she wants to sit down. Image courtesy of the zombie t shirt category).
Another interesting phenomenon that comes up is during your dancing, you will perspire, and by perspire I mean sweat profusely. This is not a bad thing. In fact, it can be very good. “Wait a minute, Dave! You told us to avoid anything that might cause us to smell of anything other than soap or deodorant!” You are correct, in most cases. However, fresh sweat is a healthy mix of pheromones that most women find intriguing. The operative word here is fresh. You know how if you stick grapes into a wooden barrel and let it ferment for a while you get a fine wine that is good and smells great? Sweat is 100% the opposite. Fresh sweat from something wholesome like dancing or working out is good. Sweat left on your body for a length of time smells like ass (literally). Again, do not take this as an excuse to not shower. Just don’t worry about it while you and she are dancing.
Another thing that should go without saying, but given the audience I am talking to needs saying, is if you have some kind of medical condition that causes your sweat to be particularly pungent (dead skunk raised on a manure pile) you should avoid dancing. Claim you have knee problems, or that the lights could cause you to pass out from flicker vertigo. Better that than exposing her to BO so bad it could be classified as a weapon of mass destruction.
Once you get the green light to stop flailing around on the dance floor (that’s unfair. I am sure you took all my advice, practiced extensively, and are now an accomplished dancer. Really) extricate yourself and your date by leading the way through the crowd back to your table (I like to pretend I am an icebreaker).
Actually, that reminds me of something really important I forgot to mention earlier. Under no circumstances should you be the only couple on the dance floor. If there is no one else on the floor you have no business being out there. That is something creepy middle aged alcoholic couples do. In fact, stay off the dance floor if it is not crowded. If you can see wall through the crowd, stay off. If your date is sane she will probably agree.
Your (and more importantly, the women you are trying to meet) sense of smell is critical for attraction and repulsion. It has been shown that people who, for whatever reason, lose their sense of smell also lose all sex drive. Smell is the best memory trigger, and the first scent a woman has of you will color her perception of you forever.
It is OK to smell of: soap, deodorant, and breath mints.
It is NOT OK to smell of: body odor, sweat, your last meal, flatulence, or pretty much anything else.
Odds are this guy from the zombie movie t shirt section will not impress the ladies with his scent.
The whole bathing every day and deodorant will help with most of the body odors, and we will discuss teeth later but brushing your teeth and using mouth wash will help with the breath. Generally maintaining an aura of cleanliness will keep the funk down.
However, a big question when it comes with women is cologne. Do I use it, and if so which one? In general my answer stay away. The chance of buying the wrong one or using an inappropriate amount is astronomical, and there are a decent amount of people who are allergic.
If, on the other hand, you feel the need to splash some scent on, here are a few basic guidelines:
1. In spite of what the French believe, cologne is not an excuse for not bathing or using deodorant. If you believe it is enjoy smelling like cologne and BO, the worst of both worlds.
2. Do not buy cologne from a guy on the street selling Designer Impostors. Not that it’s a better deal, but picking a scent at random is a bad idea.
3. Buy scent from a woman, or better yet with a woman helping you. Test each one on a wrist and have the woman smell it. Then clean your wrist (<–important) and try another. Don’t buy the first one you try just because it doesn’t cause you to gag.
4. Never use cologne given to you by a family member, especially your grandparents.
5. Never, ever use Patchouli Oil. Seriously. That stuff is rank.
Once you have selected your quality cologne, remember subtly is the key. There is a fine line between having an intriguing, intoxicating scent and smelling like a French cathouse. A tiny dab on the neck under each ear and on each wrist should suffice. Never use spray on. Remember less is more. If you feel you aren’t overpowering enough you can always add more later, but the only way to go less is to take another shower.
Honestly, though, take my advice and stay away from it. The best way to wear cologne is if you have a girlfriend and she helps you select it. That way you know she likes it.
Next post: the mouth.