Saturday, June 30, 2012

Batman - Movie Series.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 5 & 6 - Part 3 of 3.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Saturday, June 23, 2012

50 Most Hated Movies of All Time # 25 - The Avengers (98) - Uma Thurman

Drive - Ryan Gosling - Movie Review.

Colossus of New York - Movie Review.

Inkheart - Movie Review.

Why Mondo Posters Annoy Me

An example of a Mondo poster. Would be better if this were realistically painted.

If you’ve followed any movie from one of the zillion movie sites around the internet, you’ve probably heard of Mondo posters, or have even seen one somewhere. I read often, and remember Mondo slowly seeping into their posts as something they flogged as cool, but eventually looked to all the world like a website helping a friend’s company out. Pretty soon word of mouth spread, in no small part by aintitcool and former aintitcool contributor Moriarty from his Hitfix Motion/Captured blog, and everyone touted the Mondo posters as the next cool awesome thing. Current multimedia powerhouse Marvel teamed up with Mondo to create posters for each character in the Avengers movie. And all of this hoopla has had many a movie fan scratching their heads wondering aloud “What is a Mondo poster and why am I constantly told how awesome they are by them being shoved down my throat in countless aintitcoolnews posts as though it’s a given that I will love them??”

Cool, I suppose, but everyone is just drawn in.

Mondo is apparently a company that hires artists to come up with their interpretation of a movie, then of course sells it. That’s cool, I suppose, but I’m not quite sure why everyone is dying over these posters. Some look neat, I’ll grant you, but they don’t look like movie posters to me.

Um . . . okay -- I wouldn't hang this on my wall as a Star Trek II poster. I guess someone thinks this is awesome.

I’m a child of the 80’s (yes, you can boo me. After the last three Transformers movies, I wouldn’t blame you). When I think of movie posters, I think of painted, airbrushed, detailed works with an eye towards realism. I think of the Star Wars posters from the original trilogy, the Indiana Jones posters, the Conan posters. Frequently, movie posters would be realistically painted, but with artistic flares in colour and mood lighting. I still debate whether the poster for Stallone's COBRA is painted or an actual picture of Stallone holding a gun. The background colour and laser fromt eh gun would suggest that it's painted, and yet the Stallone likeness is so well done it looks like a snapshot of him. The Mondo posters? Well, to me they look like comic book art. They look like something that would be right at home on the cover of a trade paper back omnibus put out by Dark Horse. Every time a site posts the latest “amazing” Mondo poster for a movie, I look at it and feel under whelmed. It’s all illustrations and clean line art. What’s epic about that? I don’t quite get it. The problem with having someone draw a picture based on a movie is that it just looks like a picture based on a movie. It doesn’t look official. It doesn’t look like a lobby card set up to sell the picture. And as art, I’ve seen comics with better art.

 Mondo's: Great idea for a poster, but looks like a Dark Horse comic cover. It would look better painted in the old movie poster style.

The real thing -- there's just no comparison.

Is that the point then? Unless a Mondo poster really grabbed my attention with a realistic illustration that didn’t look like it should belong on the cover of "the official comic book adaptation" of the movie, then I don’t get it. I guess I don’t understand the widespread popularity of Mondo posters. The wall-to-wall coverage of them seemed to spring up from out of nowhere. And it looks like it is just the choice of webmasters to push them, not necessarily something that people are screaming for. Am I going to buy an obvious illustration of the Avengers movie and proudly display it as my Avengers poster? Or would I just get the real Avengers poster?

Do you agree? Disagree? Sound off below.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Movie Review - Rock of Ages - Tom Cruise

Rock of Ages - Movie Review.

Star Trek Film Series - Review.

Gold Rush - Charlie Chaplin - Review.

Monday, June 18, 2012

World Without End (1956)

This is a neat nuclear hysteria fueled sci-fi film from the 50’s about a group of four astronauts who fly through a time barrier and end up on 26th century Earth. Of course, at this point Earth has almost recovered from a catastrophic nuclear war that has mutated humans into one-eyed cavemen who enslave “normal” humans and has driven still other humans underground. The astronauts stay with the underground humans after fighting the ugly Cyclopes (and a couple of terribly executed “giant spiders”) and are dismayed by the fact that, despite their advanced technology, the underground community of survivors are spineless cowards who are content with staying in their safe underground lair, not expanding into the outside world and innovating and advancing the human race, and interbreeding and dwindling their population every generation. Everyone in the underground community seems reasonable except for guy named Maurice who would do anything to stop the underground dwellers from expanding from their safe environment, even killing and blaming the astronauts.

This is a typical 50’s sci-fi movie that emphasizes the “manliness” of men (the astronauts are seen as brash, manly, and proactive while the men of the underground city are soft, cowardly and weak – of course, the women folk of this future society “love” the astronaut men), and the women are pretty and know their place. The women of this future have short skirts and are all hot, demure servants to the men – this is seen as perfectly normal. Hey, this movie was made in the 50’s – what do you want?

The final scene in which the astronauts rig a rocket launcher and raid the nest of the Cyclops men is pretty impressively violent. You will love when they blow up clearings and hiding places full of the Cyclops men and their troops, and the lead astronaut challenges the lead Cyclops (named Naga – and he has some pretty impressively ugly creature make-up) and has a convincing fight to the death for leadership of the Cyclopes.

Fun and enjoyable, World Without End is a window into how 50’s audiences viewed themselves in a relatively uncomplicated time when men were men and women were women and in a period where a catastrophic use of nuclear bombs was seen as inevitable.



Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day & Return of the Jedi

Movie Review - Planet of the Apes Remake - Mark Wahlberg

Hausu (1977)

Hausu (the English translation is House, and that’s what the logo of the film says complete with the “O” forming a mouth that eats a person – but I’ll get to that) is a Japanese movie made in the late 70’s. This is certainly a unique film, very psychedelically 70’s with a lot of quirky, artsy camera ticks like freezing half the frame, superimposing images over frames, cutting out the image of an actor and replacing the silhouette with fire – it’s quite the head trip at times.

A decapitated head bites Fantasy's arse in Hausu.

The film starts out introducing the teenage female characters of the movie in a very idealized, sickeningly sweet girly environment of giggling lasses jumping up and down declaring their undying friendship to each other in blindingly colourful, sometimes beautiful backdrops depicting their high school and the main girl’s veranda overlooking a forest that seems to be perpetually at dusk. There’s Gorgeous, the main girl who was going to have a trip with her father for the Summer holidays until the father brings home a girlfriend and declares that she will be Gorgeous’ new mother, eight years after Gorgeous’ biological mother has passed. Gorgeous hates this idea and writes to her long lost aunt that she wants to stay with her for the Summer and see the village her mother grew up in. The aunt agrees, and after Gorgeous’ friends plans have been ruined for the Summer, Gorgeous invites them along too. Like Gorgeous, her friends are all named after their character traits: there’s Fantasy who likes to daydream a lot and take pictures; Kung Fu the tough, sporty one; Prof, the smart one; Mac, the one who loves to eat; Sweet, who loves to clean; and Melody who loves music. They make their way to the old mansion in the middle of nowhere where they find Gorgeous’ Aunt. And, one by one the girls meet an untimely fate as they disappear. You see, Gorgeous’ Aunt has been dead for several years and, along with the haunted house, eats unmarried girls to revitalize her strength.

Gorgeous' Aunt has her eye on you.

As I said before, this is quite a unique, strange movie and is definitely worth a look. The visuals are amazing, and for all of its unique flavour I was reminded of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World in its need to develop its own reality coloured by cartoonish, surreal visuals. I’m not sure if the goal was to depict the goings on of a teenage girl’s mind, but whatever it was it makes the movie very memorable. Gorgeous’ father’s girlfriend is so sickeningly serene, highlighted by a wind machine that blows her lovely hair and white scarf around, that you almost hate her as much as Gorgeous does. And all of the lighting really picks up the dreamlike state of this movie. I liked the uniqueness of the killings, although they’re underpinned by the film’s lack of seriousness. One girl is decapitated (sounds usual for a horror movie), but then another is attacked by mattresses, one is eaten by a piano (first the fingers, then arms, then the whole body – yeah, you have to see that one for yourself), one is mangled in the gears of a giant clock, one is attacked by her glasses, and one poor dude gets turned into his weight in bananas. All of the killings in the film are strange and different, and get more and more odd as the film progresses leading to a true pessimistic horror ending. And the music is amazing! Very 70’s and funky.

Dare you enter?

I really liked this movie. I love that it opens with such a saccharin sweet introduction that makes you question if this is a horror movie at all, then gets weirder and more surreal as it gets going. And I love that the girl who is set up as the main girl does not follow the usual horror heroine formula (she’s not exactly the “final girl” who escapes everything unscathed). Hausu is inventive, creative, vibrant and is a true gem in cult cinema.



Random Song of the Week -- John Mayer -- Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967

John Mayer's new CD Born and Raised came out a couple weeks ago and my wife plays it excessively in her car. Most of the songs are about how he's making up for his douchy ways and how he's a new man, etc, etc. As nauseating as all of that self-congratulatory “look at me, I’m a new man” crap is, there is one song on the CD that's really cute and tells a simple story of a man who builds his own submarine, despite the disapproval of his family and friends who think he's crazy, and travels to Japan to prove them wrong. I really liked this song. And yes, I'm well aware of the fact that the bridge sounds like the chorus of the Jonas Bros.' Lovebug, but since the Jonas Bros. are no strangers to being accused of ripping off other peoples' tunes, I have no sympathy for them. This song is better anyway.


Prince of Persia - Movie Review.

Mutant Girls Squad - Movie Review

Monday, June 11, 2012

Super - Movie Review - Rainn Wilson.

Margin Call - Movie Review - Kevin Spacey

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Star Trek 2009 Movie Review - J.J. Abrams

Rubber (2010)

“In the Steven Spielberg movie "E.T.," why is the alien brown? No reason. In "Love Story," why do the two characters fall madly in love with one another? No reason. In Oliver Stone's "JFK," why is the president suddenly assassinated by some stranger? No reason. In the excellent "Chain Saw Massacre" by Tobe Hooper, why don't we ever see the characters go to the bathroom, or wash their hands, like people do in real life? Absolutely no reason! Worse, in "The Pianist," by Polanski, how come this guy has to hide and live like a bum when he plays the piano so well? Once again the answer is no reason. I could go on for hours with more examples. The list is endless. You probably never gave it a thought, but all great films, without exception, contain an important element of no reason, and you know why? Because life itself is filled with no reason. Why can't we see the air all around us? No reason. Why are we always thinking? No reason. Why do some people love sausages and others hate sausages? No f***in' reason... Ladies, gentlemen, this film you're about to see today, is an homage to 'no reason,' the most powerful element of style.”

An unfortunate victim of "Robert".

With this speech from a police lieutenant, so begins the now legendarily wacky movie Rubber. Centering around a tire that inexplicably gains sentience and a telekinetic ability to blow things up (like rabbits and human heads), Rubber also features a number of head-scratching elements including an audience that watches the mayhem while commenting on it and is seemingly held captive by a maniacal cop that insists that the tire’s killing spree is all part of the show they’re watching. The movie is not without its humour, but isn’t overtly campy and loony. You’ll be more entertained by the strange unexpected paths the film embarks on as “Robert” the tire goes on a mad killing spree to eradicate every human he sees by blowing up their heads. The audience that watches the chaos in the movie is hilarious, depicting every annoying audience member you’ve encountered at the theatre, like the clueless young girls who make fun of everything, the kid who asks his father questions about every scene, the two nerds who have to comment on everything to show how smart they are. And the way “Robert” the tire is portrayed is interesting – when he first gains sentience, the film takes its time to show you how it learns about the world around it while it explores the desert terrain and encounters objects that it can roll over or blow up with its new found telekinetic powers. He almost looks like a child learning to walk for the first time, just through the movements of the tire itself.

The audience looks on.

The ending of the film is awesome and the only natural escalation of the concept. When I was finished watching Rubber, I liked it but it actually wasn’t what I was expecting. Sure, it’s loopy, but the movie left me with more of an impression of being an art film rather than the balls-to-the-wall grindhouse-style movie I was expecting. Still, it’s worth your time if you’re brave enough to watch something that’s a little out of the norm, and if you're not afraid of there being "no reason" to most of the proceedings.



Saturday, June 9, 2012

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010)

I finally just got done watching Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, the Warner Premier straight-to-DVD animated movie. Like all Warner Premier animated films based on DC comics characters and stories, this one was top-notch. Revolving around an alternate universe where all of the superheroes we know are bad (like Superman, who is renamed Ultraman, and Batman who is renamed Owlman) and all the villains we know are good (like Joker who is renamed Jester, and Lex Luther who is ... well, Lex Luther). Good Lex travels to the Earth of Superman and the Justice League in order to recruit them to fight the evil versions of themselves from good Lex’s home planet, where the evil Justice League (known as the Crime Syndicate) rules the planet by fear and random acts of violence. The only thing holding the evil Crime Syndicate at bay is the threat of a nuclear response, but Owlman comes up with a world-destroying bomb that would equalize the playing field and have the Syndicate taking the planet without the threat of nuclear reprisal – till Owlman hits upon an idea that would destroy all reality…
The Justice League, from left: Martian Manhunter, the President's daughter Rose Wilson, Superman, good Lex Luthor, Flash, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Wonder Woman.

The movie is chock-full of action, but paced in the usual DC animation style where it doesn’t seem rushed and forced. The same thing can be said for the movie’s running time, which is around 80 minutes, but doesn’t feel like they forcefully crammed info, including solo fights, team fights, a romance between Martian Manhunter and the President’s daughter, Batman’s eventual involvement after sitting out the first act, Owlman’s romance with Superwoman (the evil Wonder Woman), Owlman’s double cross, Batman’s idea of forming a larger Justice League and Wonder Woman’s discovery of the invisible plane. It is all presented breezily and never feels crammed, too busy or hard to follow. One complaint I would have is that the Justice League doesn’t seem all that phased by meeting their evil selves, or alternate versions of their friends (like when Superman meets the overly muscular and super powerful version of Jimmy Olsen). Still, this is a pretty good piece of entertainment, with well drawn characters and a great storyline that ends with a terrific Owlman vs. Batman confrontation where Batman makes a very astute observation of his evil self that reveals a lot about his own self (it’s a great line, I won’t spoil it here). Oh yeah, did I mention that Batman is in a Power Loader suit at one point fighting alternate universe versions of Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr., and Uncle Marvel? Yeah, this movie rocks.
The Crime Syndicate, from left: Johnny Quick, Ultraman, Superwoman, Owlman. 

If you were to place this in the continuity of the Justice League cartoon series, it looks like it should be placed just before the first season of Justice League Unlimited as the Justice League satellite space station is being built in the movie and the Justice League decides to recruit new members by the end of the film. Still, it’s a loose fitting as Green Lantern in this movie is Hal Jordan, while the show featured the character of John Stewart in the show. Still it’s a pretty cool movie and a great addition to the DC comics animated library.



Friday, June 8, 2012

Random Song of the Week -- Super Mario Bros. theme medley

Who doesn't love the original Super Mario Bros. theme music? The above is a medley of Super Mario throught the ages (up to Super Mario 64) through orchestra. The music holds up surprisingly well, a testament to Japanese composer Koji Kondo's original compositions for the video games Super Mario Bros. 1, 2, 3, Super Mario World and Super Mario Bros. 64.


Prometheus - Movie Review - Ridley Scott

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Collapsed - Movie review.

How Captain America can change the modern screen hero

I was thinking the other day how the superhero movie landscape has changed with the success of the Marvel-produced superhero movies. One non-Marvel hero I really love from my childhood is Superman (a DC comics character), but I've been dismayed by talk from Warner Bros., and even fandom, that Superman is an antiquated character with an outdated do-gooder, boyscout personality that wouldn't appeal to today's audience. People who make this argument labour under the assumption that society is so bad that we cannot accept characters in our fiction that do good deeds and help people simply because People who make this point believe that characters like Superman are not believable, because if you had powers, would you help people or would it be more believable that you would go on a power trip of death and destruction simply because you can? People who think that Superman is too much of a do-gooder might also think that cops, firefighters and doctors help people simply to get paid, rather than sincerly wanting to save lives, and people like Gandhi and Mother Teresa are merely anomalies. Batman is believable because he's prepetually tortured by tradgedy and beats up villains, and Superman is not believable because he doesn't have angst and uses his powers to help rather than hinder -- and who the hell would do that if they had super powers? Right?

I've always been troubled by the assumption that Superman could not work on screen anymore (even though he has in the past --  to legendary success) because nobody believes in moral superheroes anymore. And then Captain America: The First Avenger came out last year and, frankly, showed how to do a moral character right.

Steve Rogers (a.k.a. Captain America) was depicted in Captain America: The First Avenger as an honest, true hero who didn't want to kill but would still fight for his country because he "hates bullies". He's shown defending the troops in combat during WWII when a heckler disparages the war effort in a movie theatre during rousing images of troops fighting Nazis in a news reel. Rogers is a skinny, short guy and has no chance against this heckler, gets beat up by him eventually, but still stood his ground. Later, a grenade is tossed at Rogers and a bunch of army recruits, and while the grenade is not live (unbeknownst to anyone), every troop scatters to save themselves while Steve Rogers throws himself on the grenade, sacrificing himself to save his comrades. Through out Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve Rogers is portrayed as an honest hero with morals and ethics who would lay down his life for truth, justice and the American way -- and at no time at all was there an eye-rolling moment of cheesiness, corniness or jingoism. There was not one uncomfortable moment which felt out-dated or out of touch with today's view of heroism. Captain America: The First Avenger proved that there is room for morally altruistic heroes at the box office. It doesn't have to be protrayed in a corny way. People lay down their lives to save others every day, from the Red Cross sergeon in a war torn country to the cop on the street.

Superman: The Man of Steel is currently in production (as of this writing) for a 2013 release. So far, the Marvel-produced films have displayed heart and an uncanny ability to portray their characters with personality, charm and heroism in a way that isn't forced. I really hope Warner Bros. is taking notes and that Superman isn't needlessly "edgey" and panderingly "cool" in a manufactured way in Superman: The Man of Steel. I really hope the character is good natured, moral and fights for truth, justice and the American way. Captain America: The First Avenger proved that a superhero doesn't have to be dark and brooding to be a success at the box-office. Hopefully, Superman can follow suit next year.


Ray Bradbury - RIP

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Men in Black...III

So, they made another Men in Black movie.  It's actually a little surprising to me, considering that it had been 10 years since MIB II and if memory serves, it wasn't really all that well received. At least by me. I didn't care for seemed the story really wasn't that great and it wasn't as much fun as the first one.  Actually, I can remember nothing about #2, other than J went to find K who was working at the post office with a bunch of aliens...I don't remember the main villain or anything.  Needless to say, didn't even see it in the theatre which is dry, considering Men in Black 1 was one of my first DVD's.  So, I went to see this one and you know what?

It actually was pretty good!  I don't think it was as good as the first one for sure, that movie is just so much fun, it's ridiculous. However, this one is pretty good, nevertheless.  There's a ton of aliens again and there's a lot of humour as well, I think the humour fell sort of flat in MIB 2, but it really works on this one.  I find that Smith and Jones are pretty good foils for one another and the fact that Tommy Lee Jones plays everything dead straight no matter how ridiculous the situation is just awesome.  His eulogy for Zedd is great!

I was a little nervous about him going back in time because you would lost the whole Smith/Jones dynamic and it's true, I don't think Brolin and Smith are as good together as Smith and Jones, but then again, Jones' face is impossible to duplicate.  I will say this for Brolin though, his impression of Tommy Lee Jones is scary and I mean SCARY good.  When he was talking, if you closed your eyes, you would think it was Tommy Lee Jones speaking.  It's that insane.  

The storyline is okay, the main villain is actually really memorable (the wildman Kieran from Dinner for Schmucks) and it has a nice nostalgia to it as most of the film takes place in 1969.  That means the MIB run into Andy Warhol, there's more racism, the cars are different, the technology is different, it's just a different time and place and I guess it was one way to breathe life back into the franchise.  To be honest, I think this might be the end of the Men in Black films, at least in this incarnation and if so, then they wrapped everything up really well.  

If you skipped this one because you weren't that impressed with #2, that's perfectly understandable.  Men in Black II was a huge misstep, but they're back with a vengeance in this one and they really went out and tried to make this movie fun again.  There's a lot of aliens, there's gadgets and there's laughs.  That's all you really need in these types of movies.  So, catch in on DVD if you can, it's one of those movies that doesn't try and be anything other than a fun movie and really, what more can you ask?

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. 

- Stephenstein

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Total Film's 50 most hated movies of all time - Sex and the City 2

I can't believe I am writing about a Sex and the City movie.  I look up at the top and there's the Sex and the City poster.  How low I have gone.  Pretty soon, I will be writing about every rom-com movie that has come out in the past 3 years.  Anyhow, Total Film put this on their most hated list.  I was not surprised, because I mean, a guy made this list, so he's going to have absolutely no qualms about putting this movie on the list. However, his reasons were both obvious and a little...weird.  They're below:

"Well, the fellas would have hated it regardless, but even female fans turned on a show that had lost its bite for xenophobic cheap shots and self-parody."  

So...let me start out with my take on the movie: I have no take on the movie.  I did not see the movie.  I know it's not geared to people like me and I luckily do not have a girlfriend and thus was not dragged to see this film. You see, there are benefits for being single, sometimes.  So, can't say I hate the movie, didn't see it.  However, even if I were dragged to this movie, I still would probably not have hated it just because it's a chick flick.  Listen, this movie is directed at women.  That's obvious.  The television show was geared towards women.  Once again, didn't need an advertisement for that, it was pretty clear.  For me to hate this movie, I would also have to hate every movie aimed at black folks (Tyler Perry, Spike Lee) or gay people or people who are fans of a television series I haven't watched or people who are fans of a book I haven't read.  Every movie has a demographic.  Even though I'm not a kid anymore, for instance, I don't hate kid movies.  I understand there is an audience for certain movies and I'm not that particular audience.  That's fine.  Not every film is made for me.  Talk about egocentric and self-centred.  It's a wonder this guy can leave his house every day, his head is so damned big. 

The rest of the comment weird to me.  First, he mentions that female fans turned on the show.  Is he talking about the movie?  Because there was a television show that ended before this movie.  This guy knows this right?  He's talking about the movie, not the Sex in the City show?  Oh, he doesn't?  He doesn't even know what he's talking about?  Well, after over twenty reviews of his list, I have to agree.  He doesn't. That comment makes it sound like he's talking about the last season of the television show that was on HBO. not the movie.  Holy confused.

Then he mentions that there are "xenophobic" cheap shots.  Now, I am an educated man (as I hope you've realized from reading these posts), but I do not know what xenophobia is. I had to look it up.  So, thanks again Mr. Total Film for jumping into the dictionary.  You say films are muffled and there are xenophobic comments.  Who are you trying to impress?  The Rock?  'Cause, he ain't impressed!  Neither am I! Xenophobic...okay, xenophobia is "an unreasonable Fear or hated of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange" (thanks Wikipedia).  So, to me, this is a really PC way of saying there's racism in the movie and that is not cool.  At all.  I haven't seen the film so I can't judge if this is just their interpretation of the film or if that stuff is actually in there, but if it is, then yeah, I would find that justifiable grounds for hating the film.  There's no place for that sort of stuff in the world, I don't care if it's for laughs or what. I did a little research and it appears the critics say that it is...but then, the critics see a boom mike shadow in a shot and go on endlessly about the amateurish production values, so they're not what I would call reliable witnesses.

Then there's the self-parody part and for that, I have no comment.  I have no frame of reference and I doubt the yahoo who added this to the list does either, so it's not worth my time. 

So, there you have Sex and the City 2.  Not having seen the movie, I can't say that I disliked it or not, I don't know if fans of the show did, I'm sure more disliked than liked it based on what I'm hearing, but it probably still has it's supporters who like anything to do with the original show, regardless of content.  For me, hating it just because you're male makes no sense, just because it's not targeting you doesn't mean you have to hate something, it's the racism stuff that would rate as a yes in the hate category for me. 

Worth the hatred?  If the racism comments are true, than yes, but guys hating it just because it exists is not grounds for hatred.

- Stephenstein