Friday, December 31, 2004

Commentary Review - Wimbledon

Richard Loncraine (Director) and Paul Bettany (Peter Colt) do a delightful two-fer. This is a fairly craft focussed commentary detailing acting and camera work. Paul Bettany is far more restrained in this commentary then he was in his pairing with Brian Helgeland on the "A Knight's Tale" commentary. Richard and Paul come of more as a mentor/grasshopper pairing than a true friends pairing, and you won't find any dirt in this discussion whatsoever. This is a by the book, totally PC, we're all one big happy family conversation. I've heard so many commentaries that sound just like this that I think there's a single script they all use entitled "Keeping it Clean and Offending No One" by Ian A. Lawyer.

In any event the camera work, most of it derivative, is excellent so Loncraine's comments are pretty interesting. Although, it's difficult to watch the Matrix timeline technique which once proudly underscored fight scenes and sold fine products used in a, oh god I can barely say it, a romantic comedy.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Resident Evil: Apocalypse -- Commentary Review

You have your choice of three commentaries on this film. I'm choosing to review the actor's commentary because as far as I'm concerned the directing and writing on this film are a ginormous how-not-to. Of course, since I bought this DVD of my own violition after watching the first one you know my standards are pretty damn low.

The actor's commentary features Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, and Oded Fehr. They banter a bit, and discuss working conditions on the Resident Evil set. Milla Jovovich brings up one interesting bit of trivia: Jared Harris who plays Dr. Ashford in the film also stared with Milla in a little known film called Dummy.

I can't say enough positive things about the film Dummy. I loved the low key character study. The performances were top notch, including Milla's, which was inspired, the writing was excellent, and not even once was I confused about what was going on.

None of which I can say about this film.

Overall, Milla and Oded keep their commentary at the tone warranted by the film, while Sienna seems to be convinced she's actually providing commentary on Schindler's List.

This commentary is a good time. In fact is seems more well thought and executed than the film itself.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Shaun of the Dead and the Hey Day of Zombie Films

First of all, hands down, no doubt about it, holy crap, yeah baby, Shaun of the Dead is the best Zomedy of all time! A good zomedy must combine the formalized conventions of zombie movies, with the notable homages to zombie films of the past, and it MUST break new ground.

For those of you not familiar with the rules of the zombie world, I humbly suggest this book, The Zombie Survival Guide : Complete Protection from the Living Dead. I have also found the documentary, "When Zombie's Attack," to be an invaluable resource.

It is important to remember that all zombies are not created equally!
1. Voodoo zombies are created by an extract of the puffer fish and some black magic.
2. Space zombies are created from meteor showers or in some cases wicked bad aliens.
3. Science zombies are created by mad scientists typically as really, really bad side effect of that immortality drug they've been working on.
4. Toxic zombies are created by chemicals
5. Plague zombies are created by PETA
6. Space/time continuum zombies are created by their time traveling descendents

The one thing to remember is that zombies all want to eat you. Whether it's you on a platter for dinner (Night of the Living Dead) or you tied to a stretcher for oral sex (Reanimator), the end goal is disgusting.

A lot of films have exploited the zombie, because let's face it the make-up is easy and even Keven Costner can act well enough to pull of a convincing zombie (Open Range). Over the years, filmakers have gone to great lengths to add some spice to the zombie genre. We've had beatnick zombies (The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?), vampire zombies, also know as bi-zombies (Lifeforce), a ridiculus number of nazi zombies (La Tumba de los muertos vivientes, Zombie Holocaust), zombie pets (Pet Semetary), zombie kids (Pet Semetary, The Child, The Children, and ofcourse, The Children of the Living Dead).

Often the undead are horney as well as hungry; although they are often torn between eating their beloved and, well, eating their beloved. Zombie Honeymoon is the most recent of the entries into this category of film. But before zombie honeymoon you had Night of the Living Dead, part 5; Cemetary Man; and Reanimator, and who could forget the incredibly disgusting Za ginipiggu 6: Peter no akuma no joi-san?

If you love zombie films. I suggest the following:

Angry Beavers, The
Courage the Cowardly Dog
Kolchak: The Night Stalke
28 Days Later...
Adventures of the Flying Cadets
Alien Dead )
Batman, The
Beyond, The
Bijo no harawata
Biker Zombies
Bio Zombie
Bloodeaters
Boneyard, The
Bowery at Midnight
Braindead (1992)
Buque maldito, El
Cabin, The (1998)
Cafri-Zombies
Cast a Deadly Spell
Cheerleader Ninjas
Child, The
Children of the Living Dead
Children, The
Chilling, The
Chopper Chicks in Zombietown
Clearing
The Collegians Are Go!!
Corpses Are Forever
Curse of Monkey Island, The
Curse of the Screaming Dead, The
Dawn of the Dead
Day of the Dead
Dead and Buried
Dead Creatures
Dead Don't Die, The (1975) (TV)
Dead Flesh
Dead Hate the Living!, The
Dead Heat (1988)
Dead Next Door, The (1988)
Detained
Diamond Ninja Force
Disturbing Behavior (1998)
Domination: Evil On Queen Street 2 (2005)
Double Feature (1999)
Dr. Terror's Gallery of Horrors (1966)
Driller
Eat the Rich: The Cannibal Murders
lEliminator, The (1996)
Escape from the Dead
Escape from the Dead 2: Still Escaping
Evil Dead II
Evil Dead, The (1981)
Flesh for the Beast
Flesh Freaks
Geung si sin sang
Ghost Breakers, The (1940)
Gorex: The Zombi Horror Picture Show (1997)
Gory Gory Hallelujah
Graveyard Alive
Hallow's End
Harry Knuckles and the Treasure of the Aztec Mummy (1999)
Heavy Metal (1981)
Hell Hunters
Highway to Hell (1992)
Hollywood Mortuary (1998)
House
House of the Dead
Human Duplicators, The (1965)
I Was a Teenage Zombie
I Was a Zombie for the F.B.I. (1982)
I'll See You in My Dreams
I, Zombie: A Chronicle of Pain (1998)
Ijintachi tono natsu (1988)
Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?, The (1964)
Incubo sulla città contaminata (1980)
Into the Woods ... (1998)
Invasión de los muertos, La (1973)
Isle of the Snake People (1971)
Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1966)
Josie and the Pussycats
King of the Zombies (1941)
Land of the Dead (2005)
Laughing Dead, The (1989)
Legion of the Night (1995)
Let Me Be Your Band
Lifeforce
Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout (1990)
Lock 'n' Load (1990)
Mark of the Astro-Zombies
Martin (1977)
Meat Market
Midnight Skater
My Boyfriend's Back
Más allá del terror (1980)
Natas: The Reflection
Necro Files 2
Ngau wan gong tau (1976)
Night Life (1989/I)
Night Life, The
Night of a Thousand Screams
Night of the Comet
Night of the Creeps
Night of the Dead
Night of the Living
Night of the Living Dead
Night of the Zombies
Night Slaves
4. Noche de los brujos, La (1974)
Noctem
Notti erotiche dei morti viventi, Le (1980)
Oigyeingwa kongkong gangshi (1989)
Orgía de los muertos, La (1973)
Outer Space Jitters (1957)
Pantera - Vulgar Video
Pet Sematary II (1992)
Plague of the Zombies, The (1966)
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
Planescape: Torment (1999) (VG)
Premutos - Der gefallene Engel (1997)
Prince of Darkness
Punk Rock Holocaust
Raw Force (1982)
Redneck Zombies
Resident Evil
Resurrection Game, The
Return of the Living Dead Part II (1988)
Revenge of the Zombies (1943)
Revolt of the Zombies (1936)
Rotten Shaolin Zombies
Sazan aizu (1991)
Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998)
Serpent and the Rainbow, The (1988)
Shaun of the Dead
Sheng hua te jing zhi sang shi ren wu
Shock Waves (1977)
Sobrenatural (1996)
Spooks Run Wild (1941)
5. Striker Bob (1997)
Stuff, The
Sugar Hill (1974)
Surf II
Tales From the Quadead Zone
Teenage Zombie House Massacre
Teenage Zombies (1959)
Teeth of Doom
Thriller
Tombs of the Blind Dead
Trancers
Trancers 6
Ultimo uomo della Terra, L' (1964)
Undead
Unearthly, The (1957)
Versus (2000/II)
Video Dead
Virus (1980)
Voodoo Dawn (1990)
When Zombies Attack!!
White Zombie (1932)
Wild Zero
Within the Woods (1978)
Wu long tian shi zhao ji gui (1982)
Za ginipiggu 6: Peter no akuma no joi-san (1990)
Zhong gui
Zombi 2 (1979)
Zombi 3 (1988)
Zombi Holocaust (1980)
Zombie '90: Extreme Pestilence (1991)
Zombie Campout
Zombie Cop (1991)
Zombie Cult Massacre (1998)
Zombie Holocaust (1995)
Zombie Honeymoon
Zombie(zero)
Zombiegeddon
Zombies (1964)
Zombies of Mora Tau (1957)
Zombies of the Stratosphere (1952)
Zombies on Broadway (1945)
Zora la vampira


Virtual X-Mas

So, I'm cheap and I didn't get you all any gifts and shit. But, I still love you and it's the thought that counts, right? So, for the second year, I did some virtual shopping. If I missed you, drop me a line and I'll find something after I get back from Chicago. VIRTUAL GIFTUS RULES!

For Ava

UNWRAP ME! UNWRAP ME! UNWRAP ME!

For Jennah

UNWRAP ME! UNWRAP ME

For Jamie

UNWRAP ME! UNWRAP ME! UNWRAP ME!

For WC, NC and CX

weex: UNWRAP ME!
NC: UNWRAP ME!
CX (so's you don't grow up to be like NC): UNWRAP ME!

For Ozy

UNWRAP THIS! UNWRAP THIS!

For Sean

UNWRAP THIS!

For kisa

UNWRAP THIS!

For Tim from Horseshoes and Handgrenades

UNWRAP THIS! (and boy I wish I could afford it for ya) UNWRAP THIS!

For Huneybee

UNWRAP THIS! UNWRAP THIS! UNSHEATHE THIS! UNWRAP THIS!

For Stian

UNWRAP THIS!

For Nord

UNWRAP THIS!

For emmy

UNWRAP THIS! UNWRAP THIS! UNWRAP THIS!

For Chrisloth_Tabor

UNWRAP THIS! UNWRAP THIS! UNWRAP THIS!

For my dear, departed friend James...(COME BACK, YOU BUTTHOLE!!!)

UNWRAP THIS!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Now here's a little bit of heaven:

There is a new region 2 Conan: The Destroyer DVD available with a commentary by Sarah Douglas!!

Read a review of the commentary HERE!

Click here

DO IT NOW!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Commentary Review -- I, Robot

This Alex Proyas (director), Akiva Goldsman (final writer) pairing was thought provoking. They focus quite strongly on the writing of the work with small divertions into other comments on the actors. You want to learn how to write a film, these two guys are brilliant. I would say this commentary is the best "on the writing process" commentary I've ever heard. On other hand if you actually look at the final product and compare it with their commentary you might say these two are so sharp they cut theyselves.

I, Robot itself is a blend of detective drama and action set against a Robot filled future. So Proyas is attempting to blend character work, drama, detective clues, thought provoking future fiction, and a huge honking load of CGI into a cohesive product.

There's a bunch of embedded clues in the scenes which aren't going to help the average viewer a damn because the scenes are flying by at an action pace. Plus, to add to the "detectivy" feel of the film the character reveals are established in a "fractally" equivalent manner to the embedded clues. So now, the viewer has to track character clues and detective clues while the camera work is whizzing by and the CGI is luring your eye away from important information. PLUS, the emotional beats are set in dyads so you have to track those fuckers too. I mean damn, I thought I was watching a film, not engaging in an advanced class of information retention!!! The essential philosophical constructs are also embedded, and never explicitly stated. And you may begin to wonder, with everything being embedded in the film was anything explicit? Sure -- the huge honking assload of CGI.

"Are we making it too complex for a mass audience. Are we making it too rich and detailed?" Alex Proyas asks this question at the end of the film's commentary. Dudes, I felt like I needed cliff notes.

Alex Proyas is kind of known for highly stylized dark films, and I, Robot is a step in a different direction. You can feel his uncertainty in his hyper-control of the stylishness. And with Akiva you can feel him jockying each tick of the scene into place until it feels perfect. Once again you get the feel of people working the parts and not the whole, and as you listen to this commentary you can really sense why that happened.

It's no wonder that many viewers felt this film was a lame, shallow, summer action flick when in fact it was a compelling work of future fiction. Boys, you only got 90 or so minutes, you shouldn't try to make every damn film, you should try to make only one film.

On the other hand, these two guys are a learning experience to listen to. I am simply in awe. These two love science fiction, and boy I thought I was a geekling, but I got NOTHING on these two.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Stills from the "climax" of The Brown Bunny

I warn you ahead of time, there's nudity involved. But, if you know anything about the end, you know what's going on. No, the money shot is not amongst these framegrabs. The headline was a joke, you nit.
Click here to see Chloe Sevigny make like Linda Lovelace!

Friday, December 10, 2004

Taegukgi Review!

Back in February, I posted a trailer for a Korean movie called Taegukgi.
I've finally seen it.
All I have to say is...
Wow.
Jin-tae (played by Jang Dong-gun) is a simple man. He shines and repairs shoes and dreams of opening a shop to make shoes. He's engaged and his brother's ready to go to college.
With the outbreak of the Korean War, his brother Jin-seok (Won Bin) is drafted into the army. Jin-tae does what he thinks a good brother should do and volunteers so he can keep his little brother safe.
Once their in, Jin-tae hears that if he wins the Medal of Honor, he can have his brother sent home. So, Jin-tae begins volunteering for missions. Suicide missions. Stupid stuff that could get a man killed.
Thing is. He keeps succeeding. He survives again and again. He becomes more than a good soldier. He becomes, through the horrors of war, a monster. Jin-seok is shocked and appalled by his brother's change.
Taegukgi is perhaps the most horrific combat put to film. Imagine the first 10 minutes of Saving Private Ryan extended to 2 hours out of a 2 1/2 hour movie. Then, add in all the blood and gore of combat, since that was missing from Mr Spielberg's opus.
This isn't a soft sell. There's no melodrama. There's no Tom Hanks. Things don't end all happy. This is...war.
War is ugly. War is terrible. War is something that those that fight it don't wish to inflict on others.
War changes a person. In Jin-tae's case, it tears him to shreds. He loses everything...his brother, his sweetheart, his sanity and eventually his humanity.
For Jin-seok, the horror of war is only eclipsed by the horror of what it can do to a human being. Seeing his brother change into a remorseless killer devastates him. What he doesn't realize is that Jin-tae has kept his eye on the prize the entire time. Jin-tae still wants nothing more than to send his brother safely home. Nothing matters to him but Jin-seok's life.
What happens when you lose everything that you think matters? What happens when everything seems lost? For both of these characters, war is a madness that infects and destroys and annihilates. Glory and fame can be won in war, but at what cost? What can be sacrificed in order to do good -- and if you do sacrifice it, what does that make you? The movie raises many questions and leaves no easy answers.
Taegukgi haunts you with its imagery, its stark cinematography and its tragically beautiful acting. It's honest, bold and horrible to watch. You feel, at the end of it, that you've survived a campaign, that you've trudged through the mud, and that you're as scarred as the limbless veterans in the military hospital.
Amazing movie. Not the favorite thing I've seen this year...but the best.
Wow.

Taegukgi resources!
Here's the official site (Good luck getting it to open)
Here's the trailer...
Here's a review from a Korean site...
Here's a review from Ain't It Cool News...
Here's a short blurb from the Hollywood Reporter

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Blade 2!

I just saw the new Blade last night, and I know I don't usually comment on actual films, but I got to got to got to say DAMN that film kicked ass.

A lot of critics are nailing this film to the wall for its uneveness, its shoddy editing, Wesley Snipes' crappy acting, and Ryan Reynolds' campy Van Wilder the Vampire Killer act. I DON'T CARE. I loved all of it. I dug the uneveness. I thought Wesley did a fairly good job, and his delivery in at least two points in the film had me howling. Ryan Reynolds can do no wrong, and I wish I had brought a pad to jot down some of those one liners.

My only complaint was with the editing of the fight scenes, and the poor establishing shots at nearly every location.

Apart from that I had a great time, I left the theatre satisfied, and I didn't have that niggling sensation, as I often do at the end of comic based genre films, that something was missing. Seriously, what more can you ask?

Oh yeah, when can we get the DVD?

Monday, November 29, 2004

Geek Love: DS9

So I've been going back through my old Deep Space 9 DVD's, and recategorizing them by plot line.

The Redemption of Garak
The Mystification of Julian Bashir
The Love of Kira and Odo
The Temptation of Kai Wynn
The Madness of Gul Dukat
The Complexity of Quark
The Sexuality of Dax
The Ascent into Prophecy of Benjamin Sisko

To my mind DS9 was easily the best of the Star Trek series. I mean for once we have Star Fleet personnel who aren't perfect. Conspiracies and errors in judgment abound, the people are real and they face real conflicts. Besides, let's face it, Gul Dukat, Odo, and Garak are totally hot -- I do like the tortured characters.

Where is my Farscape, my Firefly, my Angel, my Babylon 5, and my DS9?

What happened to the world? It seems like only yesterday I turned off DS9, and now I turn the f*cker on to find it filled with the Biggest Loser, the Apprentice, and Fear Factor.

I want my worlds back. I miss Odo, I miss Benjamin Sisko, and Garak. I miss turning on the TV and ESCAPING my world for an hour.

I miss Geek Love.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Commentary Review -- Elf

I really like Elf, even though I actively fear periods of long exposure to Will Ferrell. Elf combines the maximum of Christmas Cheer with the minimum of Will Ferrell's naked body. On a side note, I have mentally subtitled this film, "ELF: Why in the hell couldn't that coat be eight inches longer?"

The DVD commentary features, not one, but two one-fers: You've got Will Ferrell talking about Will Ferrell, and Jon Favreau actually talking about the film. My favorite DVD commentary has two or three people from the film talking about the film like old friends over some beers in a pub. My least favorite type features the dreaded splice, where folks are spliced together because no-one could be bothered to settle down together. Nothing says, "I'm too important to thoughtfully comment on my work", like a splice. After the splice there's the sometimes good, sometimes not so good one-fer.

Unless you're the director why would you do a one-fer commentary? I mean, do you really think you're that witty? Do you think you'll be able to pull off talking for 90 plus minutes, and not sound like a self-indulgent ass? As we have both Jon, the director, and Will, the self-indulgent ass's's's's commentaries available let's compare...

Jon on Ed Asner: He really brings up quality of the film. We were so lucky to have him.
Will on Ed Asner: He's old.

Jon on opening credits: Because I'm the director I got to voice the arctic puffin and these little creatures in the opening credits. I had a great deal of fun voicing them. I wanted these opening credits to be nostalgic, to bring adults back to their childhood.
Will on the opening credits: That's Jon's voice.

Jon knows the names of his set designer, he knows the film work of every person he worked with, and he's got something nice to say about all of them! It's like listening to Mel Brooks talk about Young Frankenstein. Jon loves film. His love comes across so strongly. He doesn't just love his own films, he loves other people's films as well. I had forgotten to see The Station Agent, it had simply passed me by, but once I heard Jon talk about it I went out and snapped it up immediately.

The weird thing is that Will Ferrell is most likely operating from the same knowledge base as Jon; he just doesn't think the film experience is as interesting as himself. It was like listening to Bill Paxton's commentary on Frailty, except that I couldn't hear the cogs screeching in agony as he fought for any sentence that sounded vaguely intellectual. Will is a smart guy, but the thing that Will knows the most about is, well, it's Will and boy does he love to talk about it.

In any event, I can't wait to start hunting down films on which Jon Favreau speaks. It's a mocha-latte-cappacino kind of thing. Put the fluffy slippers on, the pouffy robe that you never let anyone else see, start the fire, and then put on Jon Favreau's voice like a warm blanket.

Yeah baby.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Final FINAL WARS Poster

Sure, it's small. But it's Godzilla, dammit!

Spongebob Squarepants Review!


Who has a new movie in theaters this week?
Sponge Bob Square Pants!
Who made me laugh so much my adult diapers leaked?
Sponge Bob Square Pants!
Who made Alec Baldwin seem cool for an hour?
Sponge Bob Square Pants!
Who has retard starfishes and a squid in a shower?
Sponge Bob Square Pants!

Ready?
Sponge Bob Square Pants,
Sponge Bob Square Pants,
Sponge Bob Square Pants,
Sponge Booob Square Paaants!

Honestly, it's a bonanza for kids this month. Between The Incredibles and this...kids haven't had it this good in ages. Then again, both of these films have something to offer to adults (though Spongebob has the edge on the stoner appeal, man is this one fucked up movie).
I really can't even go into specifics, because the whole thing is utterly demented. right to the core of its innocent, ice-cream buzzed heart. Everything about it is utterly messed in the head and utterly, totally wrong. The songs are giddily infectious. Plankton getting stepped on...utterly wrong (they linger on every moment of his agony, not for sympathy value, but because, as the Three Stooges taught us, pain is funny). Patrick Star's butt? You know what? Who the fuck wants to see a cartoon starfish's ass? COME ON, PEOPLE! That's just...wrong!
Need another reason to see it? Two words.
David Hasselhoff.
Trust me, he alone is worth the price of admission.
Go see it. Take kids. Or get a buzz on. Your choice.

National Treasure Review?!?


Honestly, I had no desire to see this movie. Frankly, the trailer sucked harder than Traci Lords at 15. And, much as they trumpeted it as "A film by John Turtletaub"...what the hell's he done? 3 Ninjas??? While You Were Sleeping??? Sorry, I be not impressed by the name.
Sure, it's a Jerry Bruckheimer production, so the director is really an afterthought. And frankly, that's what saves National Treasure. This is the most tightly paced film I've seen all year. They don't waste a lot of time with anything, which means that some requisites like charcter development and motivation fall by the wayside (more on that later). Considering the subject matter, it's a very unconventional actioner.
Nicholas "Will Whore Self for Comic Books" Cage plays Benjamin Franklin Gates, the latest in a long line of a family of dreamers who believe they have the keys to a legendary treasure that's been accumulated by the Freemasons and hidden somewhere in the US. The treasure started out in Egypt, moved around and was finally brought to the US and hidden with an elaborate trail of clues to find its whereabouts. Including a map on the back of the Declaration of Independence.

For the record, the Freemasons do not control the planet. Not that one or two of them haven't TRIED, but they don't. Also, the Freemasons predate the Knights Templar by almost a thousand years (shhhh!). The Templars got their start from rites learned during the Crusades from an obscure sect of Sufiism that was, at one time, headquartered in Alexandria, Egypt. Another offshoot of said group took root in Tora Borah in what's now Afghanistan and gave us the word Assassin (because their agents were always high on hashish) and ended up giving birth to the Thuggee in India (without which we'd have no Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The Freemasons were actually introduced into Europe by Jewish exiles from the Holy Land (which was why, in Italy, they were pursued as a Jewish cult - in France and Spain, the Templars were condemned for being Mohammadeans and/or pederasts -- but that's the Inquisition for ya).
Also, the treasure supposedly guarded by the Masons/Templars/etc wasn't supposed to be monetary. It was allegedly the bloodline of Christ (which was the impetus for the Grail myth, also). All this material has been, in one way or another, covered many times before in movies (Tombs of the Blind Dead, Dogma), TV shows (Kolchak, the Night Stalker, The X-Files, Gargoyles), books (Illuminatus!, The DaVinci Code) and even comics (Rex Mundi).

All factual errors and ommisions aside, it's a damn entertaining film because it MOVES. There's never any time to catch your breath. Each new clue is rushed to quickly, and pauses to breathe are sparse. The plot isn't nearly as intricate as they'd like you to think, but the movie's not really stupid, either. You can't throw out references to the Conspiracy in a film and be dumb. Unless, of course, Brett Ratner gets to direct. The film contains enough stock Bruckheimer moments to fill a Fox pilot, but it seems to struggle a bit against the formula. It wants to be something more, and can't quite get there.
Why? Well, for one you don't really get to know any of the characters, but that's OK, because Cage is busy just trying to be the world's most poorly dressed action hero.

All he needs is a gold chain and two more buttons open on his shirt, and he's Lee Fucking Majors. Do you really need to know more than that? The assistant (Justin "Hey, I Still Have Gigli on My Resume" Bartha) is kinda fey and won't end up with the girl (like you ever believe he's interested in chicks anyway). The girl (Diane "Will Launch 1000 Ships With My Face" Kruger), well, she's a hawtie. The bad guys? Well, they're...bad! Sort of...
See??? They're wearing black! PURE EVIL!!!
Sean "Will Boromir For Food" Bean...well, he's semi-motivated by greed. But he also seems genuinely excited by the mystery, too. It's just...well, he'd like to solve the mystery AND get the money. Sure, he waves a gun around a couple times, but you never REALLY think he's gonna kill anyone. He's the kinder, gentler generic action villain. His henchman? Well, a few of them scowl a bit, but they don't seem like such bad guys. They just seem like schmucks doing a job. Hell, one of the evil henchmen even gets the best line of the movie (How often does THAT happen??? Villains aren't supposed to get the witty one-liners!!! This movie takes place on Bizarro World!) right after the big kiss scene.
Have I meantioned that Diane Kruger is smokinfuckinhot?
. I never for a moment believed her as the curator of the National Archives...but she's really easy on the eyes.
Christopher "Will Quote Shakespeare in Klingon" Plummer, Jon "Will Act for a Ham Sandwich" Voight and Harvey "Will Whip Out Cock for Food" Keitel round out the supporting cast, lending class to the slick production, but not much else, as all three of them are in the movie for less than 5 minutes total combined screen time.
Now on to the real bitching. First off, there's no map on the back of the Declaration. First, there's a series of numbers in invisible ink -- it's a code. Whee. Then, later, once Cage and Company find a set or Revolutionary War-era 3-D glasses, they find two more messages on the back of the document. But no fucking map. Is it too much to ask for for one simple fucking map? The previews promised me a map, dammit! Second...3-D glasses??? I know Benjamin Franklin was a genius and all, but what use would they have for 3-D glasses? I half expected the last part of the movie to be in 3-D National Treasure Vision. Which would have made Diane Kruger pop out of the screen (drool). Also, is it too much to ask for that the baddies at least, I dunno, break something? Act menacing? Be mean to small children (Yes, they're perfectly nice to the small child -- I shit you not)? Perhaps that was a comprimise to putting the movie out under the Walt Disney Studios banner. BE NICE TO THE KIDS, BAD GUYS! Sure, he's a fairly cool little kid and all...but come on...no bitch slap? No menacing threats? At least offer him candy or threaten to drop him off in front of a Catholic Church! Lastly...right about 3/4 of the way through the movie, Gates grabs Abigail the Hot Curator and plants one on her (eliciting the line from Evil Henchman #2). No warning. He just does it because it's something Action Heroes do. Now, I can't say I blame him because Diane Kruger is, well, beautiful. But there was no sexual tension prior to the kiss, and immediately afterward, the two of them are utterly smitten. I half expected them to spontaneously come up with cutesy pet names. Of course, at that point, the movie would have devolved into camp, Riley the assistant would dance in a gold thong, Voight would speak in a bad Brando accent, the Masons would control the world and Harvey Keitel would get his dick out. Had Joel Schumacher made this movie six or seven years ago, I fully expect that this would have happened. And honestly, it might have added some much-needed spice.
I can't say that I'd buy National Treasure on DVD, but I might watch it again on cable or something. It may not be worth balcony prices, but a good dollar theater should make it worth your time. It's too bland for much more. Back tomorrow with at least 1 more review...

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Movie Commentary Review -- Chronicles of Riddick

This review features the voices of David Twohy, director, Karl Urban, Vaako, and Alexa Davalos, Jack-Kyra.

So I remember seeing Pitch Black in the theatre -- oh what a fine day -- I was asked to leave after hurling impreciations at the screen. I mean seriously, let's talk about Pitch Black. The planet Riddick's ship lands on has a species that emerges once every few decades to eat everything in its path when all three suns set. Apart from the really unlucky settlers, and the passengers of the ship, what else was there to eat? Nothing. The planet was a baren, rock-strewn desert. Nothing lived on it, except this one species. There wasn't anything to eat, this massive race of meat-devouring monsters would have died of starvation eons ago. And don't even get me started on the fact that nobody brought flashlights, or that you would ever risk traveling in the depths of space without fully charged batteries, or that the suns (all three of them) can set in like 3.6 seconds.

Given all that was Pitch Black, it was with a still willing heart that I went to see Chronicles.

God, did that film ever suck. Seriously, it sucked. It sucked so badly that the audience couldn't help laughing as Linus Roach, the Purifier, dies by emoliation. And this wasn't supposed to be one of those comedy emoliations like you see on the news either.

Clearly, Chronicles wasn't meant to suck, the film had aspirations. The set design was brilliant, maybe a little over the top, maybe a little "We're just as good as LOTR", but brilliant. The acting fitted the story. So what was missing? Oh, I know, the plot! Where was the plot?

I will unabashadly state, that the director's cut of this film is far superior to the theatrical release. In fact, the theatrical release was like a music video, but with long sections without music. The director's cut is an actual film.

Do you remember that moment when you saw the foreign cut of Highlander, and you first realized why Conner's secretary was so protective and loving towards him if they weren't infact in a romantic relationship. That blissful moment of, "NOW I GET IT!!!! IT ALL MAKES SENSE!!!", followed by a somewhat longer moment of, "Why in the hell couldn't they leave that 45 seconds in the damn film?"

There are about 12 of those blissful moments in Chronicles, followed by at least 24 of those somewhat longer moments. At least if you listen to the commentary you find out why Twohy did such a slash and burn job on his work in between the mutual ego masturbation sessions with his actors.

Twohy evicerated this film to obtain a PG rating. Yes, I'm pissed about it. I know the movie game is a money game, and I know that you have to be practical about artistic visions so that the most people possible have access to your vision. But, screw that, I, the selfish viewer, don't care. I DON'T CARE.

I laid down seven-fifty to see that film, and an additional eighteen fifteen for some popcorn and a coke. I was cheated. I feel cheated. Frankly, it hurts even more to know that a good cut of the film actually existed, one where the characters had motivations and the plot had some, you know, plot.

So screw you Twohy, and your stupid film. Oh, and by the way, I really enjoyed the commentary.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Incredible 2-Headed Marathon review!

So, last year I did a minute by minute account of my time at the Nightmare at Studio 35.
No such luck this year, kiddies. I'm tired, I'm cranky and I ain't that ambitious.
Besides, with TWO compteting horror marathons this year (on the same night!), CBus seems to be the hub of marathon geekdom in America, at least for today.
This year, after some backstabbing by the new owners of Studio 35, marathon organizer Joe Neff joined forces with Bruce Bartoo, the brain behind the annual Ohio Sci-Fi Marathon and the two threw together a mini-marathon on short notice that simply kicked ass. With the help of Jeff Frank from the Drexel Theaters, they were able to secure four Ohio premieres and a couple unusual picks that brought the marathon faithful to the upstart event instead of the competing event with Tom Savini across town.
The crowd lined up in the rain two hours before the doors opened. Why? Because suffering is part of a marathon. In fact, it's pretty much ALL of a marathon.
My buddy Scott and I were secure underneath a bigass umbrella behind some people we nicknamed The Druids because of the form of their raincoats. Being chatty fanboys, we talked them up and spewed propaganda at Geoff Glass, the marathon videographer.
When they finally opened the doors (ten minutes after the marathon was due to begin -- delays are a marathon staple), most of the people were more moist than Sara Jessica Parker in a Prada boutique. Didn't dampen anyone's spirits, though. I grabbed a marathon t-shirt and a commemorative poster (both glow in the dark!...sweeeeeeeeeet) and found what I thought was a good seat.
Heh. My choice was semi-faulty. Or at least, the chair was. My seat was only bolted down on one side, and swung from side to side like Chubby Checker was teachin' me the Twist. It dawned on me pretty quickly that it was gonna be a long, strange trip through cinematic hell.
When the movies finally rolled an hour late, Saw began whupping the shit out of the unsuspecting audience. I'd seen a screening of it before, so I knew what to expect. But most of the folk were entranced by its intricate set-up and mean philosophy. James Wan has created something semi-unique out of familiar elements, taking the serial murderer genre, disassembling it and rearranging it so that the killer forces his victims to off themselves. The deathtraps are creative, but if you pay attention, the movie offers zero surprises for you.
Cary Elwes veers between smart, lean acting and being more wooden than Herr Hasselhoff. Co-story writer/screenwriter Leigh Whannell is adequate as Adam, the other guy chained up in the shithole room. Danny Glover sleepwalks through his role as a cop who has more issues than answers. All of these guys could be the killer. And all of them are keeping secrets that could come back to bite them in the ass.
There's a sort of morality to the actions of the Jigsaw Killer. He doesn't actually kill anyone, for instance. And, the ultimate aim of his plots it to force people to appreciate life again. He's kind of like an evil social worker. Check it out when it opens wide this weekend.
After that, we changed things up and watched Gozu, one of the more recent efforts from mad genius Takashi Miike. Two yakuza, one an older senior brother and the other his friend/driver. Minami (the driver) is told by their boss to take Ozaki (big brother) to a dump where he'll be retired. Ozaki conveniently disappears. Minami then has to interact with a town full of characters that David Lynch would consider fucked up in an effort to find his missing buddy and get him to the dump. Being Miike, things get weird. It's not nearly as violent as Full Metal Yakuza or Ichi the Killer, relying instead on general oddity and insanity to plunge Minami into his strange new world.
Any more than that, and I'll be spoiling all the fun. Let's just say Gozu ain't for everyone. But if you're open to it, it's hella fun.
After that, a quick break and Brad Anderson's The Machinist rolls. I've been looking forward to this for over a year because of two things: 1) Brad Anderson (I loved Happy Accidents and Session 9) and 2) Christian Bale, who is continuing to prove himself one of the most interesting actors in showbiz each and every day.
Bale's insanely extreme weightloss will get loads of ink for the movie. But it's really nothing you haven't seen before. The mystery and psychological elements are old hat. It's just in the hands of an expert craftsman like Anderson, which makes it definitely worth a looksee.
A performance by all-girl noise band 16 Bitch Pile-Up woke the crowd back up afterwards. They had a loop of moments from movie trailers behind them, accompanying their sonic chaos with stobing shots of killers, victims and ominous skies.
We got another peek at Kevin S O'Brien's legendary "Bread" cycle with a quick screening of his animated short Sandwich. Since Kevin was sitting in front of me, I got to harangue him about the 3 minutes of credits on a 2 minute short. It may be outright theft of Bambi Meets Godzilla, but it still makes me giggle. I'm so damn easy.
Allegedly, we watched Argento's Deep Red afterward, though the print was so washed out it may as well have been called SHALLOW PINK.
Then, because animal mutilation is so much fun in the early morning, we were subjected to Cannibal Holocaust, the notorious 1980 cinematic atroucity with stock footage of real executions and some hacking up of innocent wild things in the name of shock value. The doofy soundtrack begins driving the audience mad and people begin spontaneously calling out "BoooooooOOOOOoooop"s at all sorts of inopportune moments.
Return of the Living Dead at 10 am after being up all night...
Hmmm. One word.
BRAINS!
The final film of the ordeal was Julian Richards' The Last Horror Movie. I honestly have no idea who Kevin Howarth is, but he plays a damn fine psychopath. His Max is an amoral bastard, a serial killer who's making a documentary about his crimes. Sure it's a gimmick movie, but it's fairly well-done low-budget goodness.
After the credits rolled...the survivors shambled out. Sure, fourteen hours is ten hours less than last year's marathon at the other theater...but it's long enough. Particularly when you're operating on next to no sleep. Grabbed one-sheets for The Machinist and Hellboy on my exit, and made my way back to my tiny apartment to crash...it's been a long damn day and a half, dammit.
I'm going to sleep.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Fables #30

writer: Bill Willingham
artist: Mark Buckingham
published by Vertigo Comics

A new day dawns in Fabletown. Election Day. The birth of Snow White and Bigby Wolf's children (yes, they have a litter).
Meanwhile, the rest of the Fables try to find normalcy after the march of the wooden soldiers. The neighborhood is still rebuilding and people are still recovering from their wounds.
The slice of life aspect of the book is one of the reasons it's still the best read on the market. The Fables call us mundane folk "Mundys", but they've succumbed to it just as much as we. They might be ageless and magical, but they're living in our world.
There are other things afoot, of course. King Cole, the mayor of Fabletown, isn't dealing well with the election. Prince Charming is finding that he'll never be able to deliver on his campaign promises. A reporter is digging into the secrets of Fabletown. And, the wicked witch is interrogating the traitorous Red Riding Hood.
The dense nature of the stories reminds me a lot of the best reasons why Vertigo exists. I enjoy picking up Fables on a monthly basis and discovering the new wrinkles on old characters, the new places Willingham is taking them. I'm captivated by the story and want more...each and every month.
While I'm on the subject of things I'm used to...even though they occasionally have a guest artist or two on board...I really like Mark Buckingham's art on the book. His renditions of Snow and Bigby are the ones by which all others are judged. Simple, classy and effective. (It doesn't hurt that he has a talented artist like Steve Leialoha inking his work.)
Fables is still my Can't Miss Book every month.

Ultimate X-Men #52

writer: Brian K Vaughn
artist: Andy Kubert
published by Marvel Ultimate

The Ultimate line has taken great liberties with a great many of the key events in Marvel continuity, but Fenris was never one of them.
The Strucker twins came along at the end of Chris Claremont's great run on Uncanny X-Men (back when it was still the only X-book). I don't know if they even deserve a footnote, other than they're the children of Baron Strucker from Captain America's rich gallery of cookie-cutter villains.
In the "Cry Wolf" storyline, they twins are heads of a multinational corporation who "help" mutants by exploiting their talents. They've kidnapped Rogue with the intention of using her as a corporate spy, using her ability to steal memories to their advantage. The lady begs to differ. Big mistake, yadda yadda...
Honestly, this is damn near the weakest stuff I've read from Brian Vaughn, except when he lets bits of the characters seep through...say for instance, the scenes back at the mansion. That's up to his usual standard. I guess it's just the Strucker twins that are a matching pair of bigass clown shoes.

Bullseye: Greatest Hits #1-2

writer: Daniel Way
artist: Steve Dillon
published by Marvel Knights

I have no idea who Daniel Way is.
No clue whatsoever.
I bought this book solely on the art of Steve Dillon. I don't do that much. I pride myself on the fact that I'm a comic READER. I follow writers, not artists.
Well, thanks to Mr. Dillon...I've found a diamond in the rough. Like Garth Ennis, Dillon's collaborator on Preacher, Way's got a wicked sense of humor. Way's deadpan delivery mirror's Ennis so well, it seems logical to have Dillon doing the art.
For the first time, we find out that Daredevil's nemesis Bullseye is a rogue agent of the US government. Stands to reason, of course. An assassin that talented would have to work for the government in some capacity, if not originally.
The story if framed around an interrogation of Bullseye by two NSA operatives who are looking for nuclear weapons that Bullseye stole. Instead of sweating him, one of the agents has an unusual take. Let Bullseye talk about himself...his past...where he came from.
Of course, like so many psychopaths, he comes from broken home...dad drank and killed his mom...big brother burned their apartment building down to kill dad. Leonard/Bullseye does the foster home thing, becomes a baseball player and finds out the game bores him...so to spice things up, he kills a batter with a fastball. Naturally, the government takes an interest in this highly skilled sociopath.
I don't know how many issues this limited series will cover. But..damn it all...this is good stuff. Now I have to add Daniel Way to my list of writers to watch.

Challengers of the Unknown #5 (of 6)

writer: Howard Chaykin
artist: Howard Chaykin
published by DC Comics

Howard Chaykin hates the government. He hates Republicans, but something makes me think he's not that thrilled with the Democrats either.
Damned if this isn't the most anti-establishment comic book of the last few years. A damning indictment of the media, the military industrial complex, the culture of fear, the current regime, etc..., the rethinking of Challengers of the Unknown is a gigantic bitchsmack to everything that is The Establishment, and there's still an issue left.
Chaykin's been on a tear lately, and I'm all for giving the man all the toys he needs to play. Because we get gems like ths.
Not many writer/artists are a total package like Chaykin. In fact, I can only think of two that can hope to equal his quality as both a writer and an artist -- Frank Miller and Alan Davis. Being in company like that, methinks, must be nice.

Identity Crisis #5 (of 7)

writer: Brad Meltzer
artist: Rags Morales
published by DC Comics

I'm spoiled.
I've been reading too damn many good books lately. Maybe it's just me. Maybe we're in the middle of a new damn Golden Age. I'm still not sure about the decision on the part of DC to grit up their shiny universe...but this series is really driving the concept home.
There is a sequence at the end of the book that is quite simply heartbreaking. And Meltzer holds the moment for 14 pages. I just went back and counted. Half the damn book, and I thought it was maybe 4 or 5 pages.
Let me go over a few points.
Green Arrow fucking rocks.
Rags Morales' art has never been this breathtakingly, jaw-droppingly, earnestly wonderful.
Brad Meltzer's writing NAILS Batman. In two words, no less. "Not again..."
Powerful. And tragic.

Ex Machina #4

writer: Brian K Vaughn
artist: Tony Harris
published by WildStorm Signature Series

I've lavished a lot of praise on Brian K Vaughn. I've been all over his dick since his first Marvel Max miniseries, The Hood, which I really, really, really wanted to hate (and couldn't). Then came Y, the Last Man and Runaways which are two of my favorite reads in recent memory (only Fables is better at DC, and maybe Astonishing X-Men at Marvel).
I have one word to say about the latest issue of Ex Machina, his meditation on superhero politics. Just one word to say about the story and the Bigass Twist (which is semi-telegraphed). Just one word to describe Tony Harris' beautiful art. One word to sum it all up...

Wow.

JSA #66

writer: Geoff Johns
artist: Don Kramer
published by DC Comics

Geoff Johns writes great super hero books.
He doesn't do anything revolutionary with the genre. He doesn't tinker with the workings.
He just makes beautiful clockwork stores that work with Swiss precision. He knows the minute details of continuity and weaves it seamlessly into his stories. And dammit, I feel bad knowing I don't have the complete run of JSA books.
This month, all three personages to wear the mantle of Hourman have an interesting conundrum before them. Rex Tyler, the original Hourman, died fighting Extant (originally Hawk from Hawk and Dove, but believe me, it's not worth going into) in the Zero Hour event a couple years back.
His son Rick, the current Hourman, would give his life to save his father's. He figures out a way to travel to the exact moment in the timestream where Hourman must die to save the universe, and figures any Hourman will do.
The android Hourman of the 30th Century transports the JSA and Rex Tyler to this vanishing point in time as well. He'd originally appeared just before Rex died and transported him to an area outside of time, where Rex could interact with the world for one more hour to say goodbye to his son.
This time (major spoiler here) the android takes Rick's idea to heart. Any Hourman WILL do. Including a mechanical one. Oddly, considering that it had been previously hinted at that the android Hourman was created by Rex Tyler, it stands to reason that he'd have to return from the dead. Now things come full circle,
The end of the book cuts back to Khandaq or whatever they're calling the fake DCU Iraq, where Black Adam has taken over and Atom Smasher's helping out. A mysterious time traveller appears (he popped up and grabbed Jakeem Thunder at the beginning of the book) and recruits Atom Smasher to go off and fight Degaton (who I honestly really don't know -- I've never been as big a DC reader as I am today)...and away we go again. Nothing but great, straight-forward sooperheroing.

Doctor Spectrum #2

writer: Sara "Samm" Barnes
artist: Travel Foreman
published by Marvel Max

Back in the 80s, everyone made a big deal about DC's two great deconstructionist comics that tore the genre a new asshole: The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen.
It wasn't until later that people realized that Marvel had quietly published a classic themselves in Squadron Supreme, a cautionary fable about how absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Now, with this book and Supreme Power, Marvel is attempting to revisit the parallel universe of the Squadron (a group of DC Universe analogs who band together to control a world they see as random and violent -- and end up becoming worse than the problem). What they've accomplished so far is nothing short of brilliance. I won't even attempt to discuss Straczynski's work on the parent title, as I'm a few issues behind, but love what I've read so far...just love it to death.
Despite what appears to be a slow start, Doctor Spectrum looks pretty damn good in its own right. As a meditation on DC's Silver Age Green Lantern character (Hal Jordan, soon to reappear in the DCU any day now), the series takes Doctor Spectrum's role in the military industrial complex to more logical conclusions, where he's more of a government puppet than a test pilot who maintains a secret identity in spite of wearing a mask that hides almost as much as Clark Kent's glasses.
The dark tone afforded by the Max line is letting the writers of this and Supreme Power explore a lot of possibilites that most superhero books can't due to their all-ages tone. And it works, dammit. I'm hooked, I'm a hopeless addict, and I'm on this train till the terminus.

Man Thing #3 (of 3)

writer:Hans Rodionoff
artist: Kyle Hotz
published by Marvel Knights

"TO BE CONTINUED IN THE UPCOMING MAN-THING FEATURE FILM..."
One word...
Motherfucker.
The trip towards that last bit at the end of this three issue limited series was eerily compelling and shows some promise for the film to be (Rodionoff wrote the screenplay, but Brett "I'm a talentless hack and I want to eat your babies" Leonard directed it), but dammit...I paid for a goddamn story. And a big ol' To Be Continued does not fucking constitute a story.
Fuck Marvel.
Fuck them up their stupid asses.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Return of Adam Strange #1 (of 8)

writer: Andy Diggle
artist: Pascal Ferry
published by DC Comics

I'd be arsed to name something Andy Diggle has written, but I'm sure I have before. His name is too damn unique not to remember. Diggle. He's one letter way from Diggler. You can tell where my mind is...
Anyhow, DC's decided to reboot Adam Strange. Who the fuck is Adam Strange? Well, he was DC's answer to John Carter of Mars and Flash Gordon...A normal, average Earth archaeologist who was accidentally transported to the alien world of Rann by the Zeta Beam and became that alien world's hero. With a funky retro sci-fi outfit, a ray gun and a jet pack, Strange defended his world from peril, wooed a princess, settled down and had a kid. The one problem was, the Zeta Beam transport was temporary, and Strange kept returning to Earth.
Gee-whiz retro adventures seem to be maybe coming back into vogue, what with Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and the upcoming A Princess of Mars. There's even rumors that they're bringing back 'ol Flash Gordon himself.
This series doesn't so much seep itself in the traditions of the serial/pulp sci fi heroism schtick as it lets the real world seep into Strange's...at least so far. Strange's apartment building has been destroyed, and he's been taken into custody by the police. Our hero's hit rock bottom. He believes that Rann's been destroyed and his wife and child are gone. The Zeta Beam to take him back never arrived...and when Superman checked where the planet was supposed to be, he'd found one of Rann's suns had gone nova.
The police are having none of this, of course. How could this average Joe know the JLA? High adventure on alien planets? Pshaw... Strange escapes from custody and runs smack dab into an incoming Zeta Beam...which was dropping off, not picking up. A bigass ugly alien called a Zeta Hunter wants to know where Rann went to. Adam has no idea, but the hunter's having none of it and before you can say golly gee willickers, they're having a jetpack fight over Gotham City.
This ish is all setup, and now apparently, Adam Strange has to avoid the cops, fight aliens AND find his adopted homeworld again. It's gonna be a bumpy ride.
Before I get to praising Pascal Ferry's art, let me mention the colorist's name. Dave McCraig. He splashes the page with pastels and cartoony brilliance and it just accentuates Ferry's clean, mangaesque art. Great stuff. I know I've seen HIS work before, too...and I can't remember where (the senility is really kicking in, I guess). I hope to see more of it in the future.
Fun fun fun. Looking forward to the journey.

Challengers of the Unknown #4 (of 6)

writer: Howard Chaykin
artist: Howard Chaykin
published by DC Comics

Howard Chaykin is exactly what Frank Miller should have become. A smart, incisive writer who's just as comfy penning mainstream books as he is edgy creator owned faire. Like Miller, Chaykin has a flair for filling the page with text and images designed to bombard you with the world he's created. Like Miller, Chaykin works in other media (as a TV writer, he's worked on The Flash, Viper, Earth: Final Conflict and Mutant X. Chaykin's dipped into the well of noir (his amazing collaboration on The Shadow with Bill Sienkiewicz orThe Black Kiss), history (American Century) and has created dystopian masterpieces like American Flagg and (hopefully) the alternate universe revamp of Challengers of the Unknown.
Where did Miller go wrong? I think he just started believing the hype. He started doing comics for something other than the love of the medium, though he has his pet projects that prove he's not a lost cause (Sin City, 300, Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Roboy. But, like Ricky Ricardo would say...Frankie, you got some 'splainin' to do about that DK2 crap! (end rant)
I've never read the original comics, so I honestly don't give a rat's patootie about how it's changed or how he's raped the keister of DC's superscience investigative team. I just care that Chaykin tells a good yarn.
And dammit, he does. Finally things are starting to come into place. We learn that our intrepid heroes are actually highly trained sleeper agents and assassins who were programmed to return periodically to their organization for additional programming/brainwashing. They worked for the Hegemony, a supersecret cabal that controls things (Sorry kids, it ain't the Jews. It's WASP moneymen who control things in Chaykin's world...and ours. [pbbbbbt!]).
Things are coming to a head and with two issues to go in the series, we know it's gonna get worse. Much worse. The body count's piling up and the Challengers find out things about themselves that they never even dreamed. Most importantly, though. They find out they are simply mortal...and their enemies play for keeps.

Friday, October 15, 2004

The Flash #214

writer: Geoff Johns
artist: Howard Porter
published by DC Comics

The Flash rules. Nuff said.
Seriously, Geoff Johns has been kicking all kinds of ass on this book for a couple years, and it doesn't seem like it's ever gonna end. The shockwaves from Identity Crisis are starting to reverberate through the the DCU, and the Flash isn't immune to it.
The dirty little secrets of Barry Allen come rearing up by the end of the book. Of course we have to wait until next month before we find EXACTLY what Wally West's predecessor has to admit...but so far, things to not look good for the heroes. All the dirty laundry...all the mistakes and judgement errors...all of it is coming home to roost.
Wally West; ex-Kid Flash, ex-sidekick, ex-member of the Teen Titans, current Flash and member of the JLA; is struggling on the precipice of utter disillusionment. He's long idolized his predecessor. Barry Allen was too good for words. Now we're finding the former Fastest Man Alive had feet of clay. Oddly enough, the Flash's arch-enemies, the Rogues, are keeping a low profile. They know the massive manhunt organized in Identity Crisis will sweep them up if they're not careful. Once again, it's not just the smart depiction of the hero...it's the brilliant depiction of Flash's enemies that gives the story its great color.
What's coming? No clue. But, I'm there, as long as Johns keeps up the amazing quality he's shown thus far.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Walking Dead #11

writer: Robert Kirkman
artist: Charlie Adlard
published by Image Comics


I don't really think it's safe to say I'm a horror comic reader. I've adored a few...Tomb of Dracula (the original...I'm not postive I'm in love with the new one), Morbius, The Living Vampire (the 90s reboot sucked) and Crimson would be three noteable exceptions.
However, I have big love for The Walking Dead. Robert Kirkman's book is one of the best reads in comics today. It's smart, well-paced and (like Romero's zombie movies) pertinent. The eleventh issue follows the survivors as they settle in at a farm with a distubing secret: They've kept the zombies of all of their neighbors in the barn.
Bad idea, huh? Well, not everyone's seen a zombie movie. With no news and no information, how would people know that the zombies couldn't be revived? Sure, it's kind of silly to assume that someone who's missing half their face is gonna be OK...but think if it was someone you were fond of...a neighbor, a friend, a family member? Not knowing the rules of the genre, would you have it in them to put a bullet in their brain?
Of course, it's a zombie comic, so it's a given that this is a VERY BAD IDEA.
Something tells me that a member of Rick's family is gonna get zombified. And Rick's gonna be forced to wrestle with that question on his own. In any case, another strong issue from the best damn horror comic on the market today. The second volume trade paperback is out soon, so get off your ass and pick it up.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Marvel Knights 2099 one shots

(Black Panther 2099 #1, Daredevil 2099 #1, Inhumans 2099 #1, Mutant 2099 #1, Punisher 2099 #1)
writer: Robert Kirkman
artists: Kyle Holtz, Karl Moline/Mike Perkins, Cliff Rathburn, Khary Randolph, Pop Mhan
published by Marvel Knights

Robert Kirkman is proving himself to be a great new storyteller.
First I'd heard of him, he was doing Invincible over at Image (I need to get the trades for that series). Then, I finally caught up with him by reading The Walking Dead, perhaps the best horror comic on the market today (and I've got another ish on my stack of books to read).
Now, he's all over Marvel. Writing Captain America, a couple of the solo X-books, etc. When I heard about these books, I thought they were just relaunching the failed 2099 universe that Marvel created in the mid-90s...which were, well, bad. Then, I heard Kirkman was doing them. They went from "Funk Dat" to "Gimme Dat" in about 3.2 seconds.
They're all self-contained stories and they all showcase Kirkman's magnificent storytelling ability. He's beginning to remind me a bit of Richard Matheson in the way he sets readers up for the punch at the end. Almost all of these titles have a bit of a twist to 'em, except for Mutant 2099, which oddly is the one hopeful book of the bunch. They all tell fantastic stories quickly and economically, and you never quite know where you're going. If they do yet another reboot of the Twilight Zone for TV...they need to get Kirkman on it. He's perfect for the job.

Wolverine #20

writer: Mark Millar
artist: John Romita, Jr.
published by Marvel Knights

There's a fantastic Akira Kurosawa film (in fact, my favorite Kurosawa film) called High and Low. It's about a kidnapping plot in Japan where the kidnappers mistakenly kidnap the child of a rich man's driver instead of the rich man's child. It's a great police procedural with some of the most stunning cinematography of an auteur's career.
Mark Millar borrows a bit from High and Low at the beginning of this ish. Just a bit. A chaffeur's son is kidnapped and the rich man refuses to pay the ransom for his employee. The first two pages play out like cinematic storyboards for a remake. Good stuff.
Then Wolverine shows up. And things kick into high gear. Turns out, this ain't Kurosawa no more. This is a knock down, drag-out, ass-kickin' zombie ninja story. We're treated to some wonderfully horrific gore that would be such a no-no if the ninjas weren't already dead and spewing green blood instead of the traditional red (Millar's apparently up on his ancient Sam Raimi as well). That continues for another eight pages and then Millar switches gears again. The fact that none of this feels remotely wrong is testimony to Millar's storytelling skill.
Now it's a story about Wolverine's old partner in crime, Kitty Pryde, looking for her now-missing bud. We're sorta back into Kurosawa territory as the parents of the missing kid mourn their apparently dead son. Two pages and on we go to the next genre.
SHIELD is investigating a series of cult-like slayings, the latest of which has happened in Minneapolis. Nick Fury and Elektra suspect it has something to do with the Hand (the wonderful undead ninja clan from Frank Miller's Daredevil who've since bedevilled the X-Men and particularly Wolvie himself. There's hints of a plot by Hydra and the Hand to take out 16 key figures in the superhuman community...and Wolverine tops the list.
They find Logan in South America (beat to hell, missing an eye and burnt to a crisp...that mutant healing factor is damn handy occasionally) and Elektra arrives on the SHIELD ship they're treating him on (yeah, a SHIP...not a helicarrier or some levitating fortress...someone must be cutting SHIELD's budget). Wolvie wakes up, starts killing people and all fucking hell breaks loose.
The fact that we're treated to all of this in a mere 24 pages is a treat. It goes against the supposed nu-Marvel idea of nothing happening for six or seven issues. Since this is part one of a story arc, you'd think Millar'd be able to pace things leisurely. Nuh uh. Not gonna happen. Get your runnin' shoes on and try to keep up. He writes a damn fine Logan. He writes a damn fine Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD. And he writes a damn great Elektra. Why this boy isn't allowed to play with the toys more often, I got no idea.
Add to that the fanfuckingtastic art by Romita (with inks by Klaus Janson, who's a damn good artist himself) and I've already signed up for the entire six issue run. The final shot of Wolverine is damn near pinup worthy. I may yet go back to the comic shop and pick up another copy so I can rip that last page out.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Astonishing X-Men #5

writer: Joss Whedon
artist: John Cassaday
published by Marvel Comics

Joss Whedon is a great fucking writer.
Yeah yeah yeah. I dropped foul language. But, I feel strongly about this. I've been a fan of Whedon's writing since the first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I watched Angel and Firefly and watched him develop as a writer and creator. His previous comics work on Fray, a tale of a future slayer in the Buffy mythos, was outstanding as well.
But...DAMN. The characterization in this series takes 40 years of continuity in its arms and also forges boldly ahead. I was a huge fan of Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men, but Whedon's reasons for dismantling so much of that feels so right.
On top of that...Colossus back among the living? And done WELL. Damn. I really can't say enough good things about the joy I have with this book at this point. Hell, I haven't even made mention of Cassaday's gorgeous artwork. This is really the book that DEMANDS I get to the comic shop each month.

The Tomb of Dracula #1

writers: Robert Rodi and Bruce Jones (story), Robert Rodi (script)
artist: Jamie Tolagson
published by Marvel Comics

I'm still, to this day, a huge fan of the original Tomb of Dracula series from the 70s. In fact, I'm rereading the 2nd Essential collection of that again...but don't have volume one in my library (sigh).
This book ain't it.
As first issues go, it's not bad. But, it follows the continuity of the Blade movies instead of the original comics. Blade is the main character, half-vampire like in the movie. There's a member of the Drake family, though not Frank Drake...not that she's EVER been mentioned before...and there's a Van Helsing, though not Rachel Van Helsing (who's dead in continuity anyway)...but this Van Helsing's NEVER been mentioned before (and I'm pretty sure it had been alluded to that Rachel was the last remaining Van Helsing...but what do I know?). Don't get me started on the hair metal band reject Dracula on the last page...
So, basically, I'm bitching because the continuity is utterly wrong. Well, aside from that, it's not a bad read. The team is assembled quickly and the objective is clear. How far they can milk this...well, I'm guessing this is a limited series...

Black Widow #1

writer: Richard K Morgan
artist: Bill Sienkiewicz
published by Marvel Knights

Bill Sienkiewicz is my favorite comic book artist. Bar none.
He makes comics look like ART.
He's an original, and his runs on New Mutants and The Shadow are amongst my favorite bits of comic art.
I could wax poetic about how much he rules. I'm not gonna. Instead, I'll just say that, first impression...this is one of the smarter espionage stories I've read in comics. I haven't read any of Vertigo's spy titles, so I can't judge against those. But...Black Widow has one thing those books don't have. Bill Sienkiewicz.
Great, great stuff.

Identity Crisis #4

writer: Brad Meltzer
artist: Rags Morales
published by DC Comics

So, the entire idea of the Identity Crisis series is that the DC Universe is undergoing a sea change. No longer will everyone be guaranteed a happy ending. There will be suffering. Bad things will happen to good people.
I can sort of accept that. Sort of.
I can see the publishers wanting to make things more realistic in the DCU. However, they still have 20+ fictional cities in the US where the majority of their stories take place. DC's America really bears no resemblence to the real world anyway. Why not indulge?
Nothing against Identity Crisis as a story. Meltzer's writing keeps things cruising. The mystery is compelling...there's a killer stalking the family's of the DCU's heroes who seems to be using methods taken from the Suicide Squad.
Half the heroes in DC's books are directly investigating the crimes. Atom saves his ex-wife with a smart use of his powers. Green Arrow and Wonder Woman visit a villain whose MO matches one of the attacks. And Batman lurks in his cave, going over the evidence...
Who's the killer? Well, they haven't tipped that card yet.
Tell you what, though...I'm on the edge of my seat. Lovin' it.

Thursday, September 16, 2004


Thanks, Tim. I will never eat out again. Posted by Hello

Monday, August 23, 2004

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Election Time Looms! Time for Some Biased Political Garbage


These guys
did a far better job of compiling all the dirt on our present administration. Gotta love 'em.

Yeah, I'm biased. Sup?

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Astonishing X-Men #3/Planetary #20

writer: Joss Whedon
artist: John Cassaday
published by Marvel Comics

Planetary #20
writer: Warren Ellis
artist: John Cassaday
published by Wildstorm/DC Comics

John Cassaday is a terrific artist. Problem is, the man has never been able to meet a deadline. Which is why the book that put him on the map, Planetary, has only seen 20 issues in about 33 years. Sure, it hasn't been quite that long, but it's beginning to feel like it has.
Not that each issue isn't worth the wait. Warren Ellis has a unique take on the superhero genre, full of secrets and lies and cabals. The world of Planetary is a skewed version of the genre, where many of the heroes of the Marvel or DC universes turned out...different. It's long been known that The Four, the villains of the piece, are an ersatz Fantastic Four. This ish we finally get to see their version of The Thing, Jacob Greene. The Four have sent their engine of destruction to an alien space station, but Elijah Snow has a plan in place to dispose of the monster once and for all.
Strangely, in three months, we've had 3 issues of Astonishing X-Men. Cassady's art is the perfect cinematic counterpart to the writing by TV's Joss Whedon. Whedon's finally hitting his stride, as the story threads he set up in issue 1 begin to knit together. The snappy dialogue he's been known for in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly finally gels correctly too. I'd been considering dropping this book but now and convinced I'm in it for the entire 12 month run Whedon's on for. If they keep Cassady on time, we comic readers are in for a treat.
This time out, Beast has acquired a sample of the mutant cure that Benetech is advertising. Since his secondary mutation has made him more felinoid, Beast's been wanting to return to a more human state. Old story, been done before. Except now, his fellow X-Men see the cure as a threat. Rightfully so, as the possibility that the cure could be forced on them, given the current political climate in the Marvel universe. Woverine and Beast throw down over the vial, and the alien from the first issue reveals himself to be the source of Benetech's technology. Then, Beast finds out whose genes they've used to make this cure...and I'm getting the feeling all hell's gonna break loose soon.
This book went from an "I think I might drop it" to "I'm in this for the long haul" in 22 pages.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Friday, July 16, 2004

Resident Evil -- Commentary Review

 
So Adam has convinced me to do a tag-team review of Jackass.  As usual I'll be doing the commentary reviews which means watching the film not once but TWICE.  Surely, there must be a room in hell where this is already happening to people.  I can hear the screams.
 
I've been prepping all week.  I've purchased extra beer, I've stopped sleeping...I haven't actually gone out and purchased the DVD yet, but little steps, little steps.  I've thought perhaps I should urinate on myself to get into the spirit of things.
 
Finally, in preparation I thought I'd do one more real commentary review.  The much anticipated Resident Evil 2 is coming out soon (anticipated by me, I am a major fan of the girls with guns kicking ass genre which is not to be confused with girl in sexy costume shaking ass and somehow people get hurt genre.  Catwoman falls into genre two while Alien falls into genre one, and don't you forget it). 
 
In honor of Resident Evil 2, and lovers of racoons everywhere, I give you the commentary review for Resident Evil.  It's a shorty because there's only so much you can say about 6 minutes of Milla Jovovich talking about show breast on camera. 
 
Resident Evil
This is a group commentary featuring Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Anderson, and the producer.  Some interesting location details were given, there was a significant amount of gossip about the co-stars, and general details about the filming.  These people were having a great time together and were not self-conscious at all which gave the commentary the feel of a group of friends sitting down to drinks.  I particularly enjoyed Michelle Rodriguez’ take on her character.  These are people that if I were drinking heavily I’d love to party with, BUT the overall shallowness of their conversation reflects in words what you see on the screen.   Oh yes, and Milla Jovovich, showed her breast (only one and she says it's the right breast), and comments at length on how this demonstrates her commitment to the film. 
 
As an aside, the women in the film both hit stuntmen during fight scenes.  They felt that this showed their commitment, and that if they weren't really going for it the audience could tell.  Ladies, hitting stuntman (unless they're paying you to on some sort of hourly arrangement) is not cool and simply shows your inexperience.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Saturday, July 10, 2004

The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye TPB

(reprinting issues #1-6)
writer: Robert Kirkman
artist: Tony Moore
published by Image Comics

I'd heard good things about The Walking Dead. Eventually, you hear enough good things about something, get off your ass and see for yourself. Two weeks ago, I bought my first issue of the series. I'd hoped to get the trade, but they were out at the local shop. So, I started off the series with issue #7. It knocked me on my ass.
This trade (which I might mention is an ultra-cheap $10) reprints the first six issues of the series.
When first you meet the series' protagonist, Rick, he's getting shot during a gun battle with a criminal. He wakes up in a hospital, after he's been in a coma for a month. Turns out...the world has gone to shit. Most of the population is dead. And a good portion of the dead...are on their feet looking for food (read: the living).
Rick returns to his house and finds his family gone, but no bodies. After finding a living neighbor, Rick finds out that the population was evacuated to the cities to protect them better and sets out to the nearest major city, Atlanta, to see if he can find them.
In the forward to the book, Kirkman says that the series is Rick's journey, so I'm guessing he's safe. The rest of the characters...well, I'm wary of getting attached to them. It's a zombie story, and zombie stories need human victims. Kirkman also says that he's in this for the long haul, so I'm looking forward to years worth of harrowing tales of Rick's travels. Have I mentioned that the trade is super cheap? You've got no excuse! Buy it now!!!

Another Nail #1-2 (of 3)

writer: Alan Davis
art: Alan Davis and Mark Farmer
published by DC Comics

While Marvel is, for the most part, doing everything in their power to lose me as a reader, DC seems to be doing everything right. I'd bet if I picked up more of their books, I'd be reading more and more of them.
As it is, there's no way I'd miss a book by Alan Davis. He's one of my favorite comics artists. And, after his previous DC-spanning miniseries, The Nail...he's one of my favorite writers, too. The first Nail miniseries posed the question, "What if the Kents hadn't found Kal-El/Clark?"
Well, a year after the events of the original series, Another Nail picks up the story. Superman's been working overtime fighting for truth, justice and the American way since his unveiling. Darkseid discovers something on Earth and the discovery drives him to unleash a Doomsday weapon that destroys his planet Apokalips. The Green Lantern Corps investigates a mysterious drain on the great lantern that charges all of their power rings. On Earth, Superman fights Despero and Evil Star and experiences a momentary loss of power.
The second issue features more buildup towards the third issue's conclusion. Davis keeps the frenetic pacing up, and more pieces fall into place. Something's going on with time and dimensions, reaching a crisis level. He juggles impossible amounts of characters and story details with deft ease and makes everything look spectacular while he's doing it. If you don't pick up the individual issues, I'm positive a trade paperback will be in the works.

Identity Crisis #1(of 7)

writer: Brad Meltzer
artist: Rags Morales
published by DC Comics

Yeah, I know the book's been out for damn near a month. Yeah, I know everyone and their mother's reviewed it. But...DAMN.
I've never read any of Meltzer's thrillers in mere text form, but I might consider it after just this first issue. I can already tell that this miniseries is going to have an impact on me as a reader.
The story starts off with old school JLAer Ralph Dibny, aka Elongated Man, on a stakeout. He's one of the few superheroes who's abandoned a secret identity and operates in public. Elongated Man's an affable guy with a wife who loves him and a love for mysteries.
His wife is actually planning a surprise party for his birthday and usually sets up a mystery for him to solve.
The story cuts periodically to many of the major players in the DC Comics stable as they receive news that instantly makes them rush off from their normal activities. Something terrible has happened. From the cover, you know someone's gonna die. That big coffin under all of the somber looking superheroes is kind of a giveaway.
The story is big and epic (just about everything with the JLA in it is big and epic), but it's also one of the most personal stories I've read in comics. You mourn with these titans as one of their own is laid to rest. But...there's a secret some of them are keeping from the rest. Hawkman, Green Arrow, Zatanna, Black Canary and Atom know who committed the murder, and from the last two pages of the book...the perpetrator's gonna regret it...
Great stuff. The writing is taut and fast-paced. I don't know that Brad Meltzer has done comics work before, but he shows great knowledge and love for the characters of the DCU. I'd be interested in seeing where this story goes, because so far it's a doozy. Add to that the solid pencils of Rags Morales, and you have a great book on your hands. Great, great stuff.

CLA$$WAR #4 (of 6)

writer: Rob Williams
artist: Travel Foreman
published by Com.X

Marvel Comics must have something against CLA$$WAR. Travel Foreman just took over the art duties on this LONG overdue book and Marvel hired him for something or other, just like the previous artist, Trevor Hairsine (who's been at Marvel almost a year, so you know it's been a long time).
Sad. CLA$$WAR is everything that Frank Miller's DK2 promised to be. What happens when the superheroes fight back against the system? What happens when they've had enough of the corruption and back-room dealings? This is a strong, mean anti-establishment book, and likely will not appeal to the GOP at all. If you have any doubts about how the government handles things, If you're a conspiracy nut, or if you're just generally paranoid...this is a comic made for you.
A brief recap: The American was the shining star in the US's super-soldier program. With powers not unlike Superman, he could kick the asses of any of the US' enemies. Problem is, thanks to Isaac, a rogue intelligence agent, American knows just how deep the rabbit hole goes, and how full of shit it really is. So, he's run off to the banana republic of Glenada (I do love comics geography) and he's kicking the living crap out of the US occupation force.
While American and Isaac are planning their next move and uploading incriminating video to the internet, his fellow superpowered operatives are tearing ass through the countryside, looking to rip him a new one. Meanwhile, the ex-Nazi scientist who created all these metahuman monsters transforms one last soldier with his process. Things look bad, and will likely get worse.
With only two issues left in the series, I'm guessing there will be major bloodshed in the coming pages (yes, I know #5 is out, but I haven't found it yet). The revelation of the human cost of these champions of America is horrific enough, but when the new superguy...well, loses a bit of his humanity...you don't know whether to laugh your head off or hworf (I chose laughter. It's the best medicine, after all).
I hope Foreman got #6 done. Because if finding a new artist takes as long this time, I don't see the book being finished before the next millenium.

Ex Machina #1

writer: Brian K. Vaughn
artist: Tony Harris
published by Wildstorm/DC Comics

Brian K. Vaughn is a great writer. Considering he's already writing two of my favorite books on the stands right now, Runaways and Y, the Last Man, you'd think his bag of tricks would be emptying.
No such chance. This tale of the world's first superhero is one of the most original, smart and just goddamn well-written books I've read this year. Mitchell Hundred was a civil engineer who accidentally gained the ability to speak to all complex machinery. Initially, he used his abilities to become a superhero, the stuff he read about in comics as a kid.
Then, reality set in. The authorites weren't really happy with him playing vigilante. So, still wanting to make a difference in the world, he ran for mayor on New York City. And won.
The story is told in flashback. We're given advance notice that things end badly. How badly, I don't care to guess. Especially after the final page shocker that shows you how different things really are in this world Vaughn's created. It's a cheap shot, but it's damn effective. This one's going on my list of things to pick up monthly, and I don't think I'll be disappointed at all.

Friday, June 11, 2004

The Chronicles of Riddick

I just got back from watching this film. Now before I go off the deep end, let me say I got thrown out of Pitch Black for plot commentary unbecoming a lady so maybe it wasn't a great idea to go see Riddick. But I have a sick, sick addiction -- I must watch all science fiction.

It's not like me to rant. It's not like me to rave. And ranting and raving at the same time? Frankly, it happens so rarely its like a funny Leno monologur. And yet I can't stay silenced on subject of Riddick.

I escaped hell to attend Riddick and about half-way through I realized hell wasn't that bad. The bad editing, the music video like pacing, the ridiculous plot, and the really really really lame science. I'd comment on the characters, but there weren't any.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Movies You Should Really Own on DVD (and Don't): Bubba Ho-Tep


directed by Don Coscarelli
available on DVD from MGM Home Video

Long ago, Elvis died rather ignominously. On the can.
The King died taking a shit.
Let's face it. That ain't no fuckin' way for The King to die.
Joe R Lonsdale, a pulp writer of some renown, knew that the true Elvis would never have died on his Throne. Elvis would have gone out in battle. In a blaze of glory. TCB. Takin' Care of Business.

Hence, the idea behind Bubba Ho-Tep. Based on the short story by Lonsdale, Don Coscarelli -- the supergenius behind the Phantasm movies -- has crafted a movie that has no business being as good as it is.
The final ride used to be a staple of cinema, particularly the Western. Since this plays out in Texas, you could sort of consider this a horror comedy Western with a twinge of sadness and a touch of melancholy.
The story is thus: Elvis and JFK fight a 3000 year-old Egyptian mummy who sucks the souls out of retirees' asses. Sound weird? Strangely, it doesn't seem nearly that weird when you're watching it. That's mainly due to the sublime performances of Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis, playing Elvis Aaron Presley and John Fitzgerald Kennedy, respectively.
Elvis traded places with Sebastian Haff, the best Elvis impersonator on the planet, so he could clean up and return to a simpler life. It was Haff who died on the toilet and not the King. Problem is, the papers that proved who he was burned up in a fire, and Elvis went into a long coma after breaking his hip in a stage mishap.
The government replaced part of Kennedy's brain with a bag of sand and dyed him black so no one would believe him. He still occasionally gets psychic transmissions from the portion of his brain they keep alive in the Smithsonian, but is generally left alone with his books.
These two old men, separated from their world and great works, abandoned by society, are still heroes at heart. They might have lost their way. They might have grown old and developed cancerous growths on their private parts. They might have been forgotten.
They aren't going out easy.
Truth to tell, I knew I was gonna love this movie when I saw it in the theater. I ended up adoring it, but for none of the reasons I was prepared to. There's a remarkable amount of pathos to the movie. The idea of old people being disposable and easily forgotten is one that isn't given much air time in the youth-obsessed culture of Hollywood.
The idea of fallen heroes isn't a new one. Nor is the idea or redemption. However, the movie handles the conventions with a style and panache that few other than Don Coscarelli have. Being low-budget, he squeezes every penny he has to spend onto the individual frames of film. He's never worked well in the studio system, and his self-financed release of Bubba Ho-Tep both elated and frustrated movie buffs. It was great to see a good fucking movie in the theater. But, waiting for it to get around took fucking forever. Half the planet saw it before it got to CBus. The other half had to wait until it came out on DVD. And most of them still haven't seen it, dammit.
Do your part.
Get the word out.

And now for something completely different:
Commentary Review by NeuroTrash's Chrisloth Tabor!
So I just finished watching the Elvis-lite commentary on Bubba Ho-tep with Bruce "You are my God" Campbell and Don Coscarelli of Phantasm and Beastmaster fame. I find it hard to watch anything with YAMG in which I don't compare him to his earliest incarnation in Evil Dead. This comparison does him a great injustice.

On one hand, it is a testament to his remarkable skill as a performer that he was able to give Ash nearly iconic status within the genre. On the other hand, his own skill has doomed every other performance (except for the 10 second outing as "second man eaten by gorilla" in Congo) to inevitable comparison with Ash.

Say this mantra along with me before reading onward, "I love Ash, I miss Ash, but I am willing to acknowledge that Bruce Campbell is an actor who may appear in other roles without my needing to bring up Ash or Evil Dead. I don't need to ask about Evil Dead every time I see Bruce in a film. I promise to stay outside of the 1,000 yard radius specified by the restraining order."

That last sentence was just for me.

Don and Bruce comment on their work in Bubba Ho-tep, but this mostly consists of Bruce commenting and Don saying "Yes, you're right," at regular intervals. The fact of the matter is that Bruce Campbell, aka, the Chin, is a working man. He knows his field, and he certainly has no problem sharing credit. He has some remarkably perceptive statements to make about tone and lighting, and is generally engaging and witty.

It's hard not to gush about the man. Hey, if Don Coscarelli does it, than I can too!

Anyhoo, they talk about independent films in general. I'd like to think the movie studios listened to this commentary, and heard what was said.

Bubba Ho-tep couldn't have been made in studio, cause it ain't no boy meets girl. I may not be in love with the film, but I have to give it major snaps for originality, tone, quality, story telling, and Elvis. Wait no, I am in love with this film.

The Zero Effect -- Commentary Review

As I loved this Sherlock Holmes remake, I’m going to find it hard to separate my love for the film from my opinion of the commentary. Of course I note that only me and one guy in Chicago liked this film, and that guy also loved Pearl Harbor so you know you can't trust his ass.

The director and writer, Jake Kasdan, comments on his work. I found that he tended to comment on those camera angles that I found particularly interesting, and to ignore those I felt were trivial. He clearly respects his actors, and he doesn’t believe anyone on the planet will listen to his commentary. This reminds me, he features a little contest on the commentary. If you find him and repeat the secret message he delivers one word at a time throughout his commentary he’ll give you five bucks. However, as the Zero effect was pretty much the high point of his career you better find him fast because he may not have money for much longer. Enjoy.

Like the wonderful Chiodo Brothers I find myself wondering, WHAT HAPPENED TO JAKE KASDAN. How can you make a film like the Zero Effect or Orange County and then vanish into obscurity. It’s 2004 and I want Jake Kasdan!

Sunday, June 06, 2004

The Thomas Crowne Affair -- The Remake: Commentary Review

John McTeirnan comments on his work. And comments and comments, and after a while you notice he’s only talking about the look of his film, particularly the how he sets up his camera shots. His angles are chosen to highlight costuming. He had Rene Russo’s hair cut during the filming because he didn’t like the way it looked. Mind you, I’m sure many directors make these types of decisions during the course of shooting. My point is that hair decisions are what he felt was valuable to put in a commentary. Can anyone say micromanaglemaniac? Hunh, micromanaglemaniac, nope can't say it. In fact his attention to the slick look of the film, and his own demeanor perhaps underscores why the lead characters come off as surreally cold and driven. If I had to pair this commentary with any other, it would be the Saint’s. These are both excellent commentaries to listen to in the I-am-a-detail-oriented-freak style of film making.

McTeirnan has gone on to make such classics as Rollerball and will soon delight us with Die Hard 4: Die.....Hardest. Perhaps he should bring in some idea people so he can focus on hair and lighting -- his clear delights -- as plots and characterization just ain't homeboy's thang.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

POKER TOURNAMENT!


Byron doing his best Chris Moneymaker impression. Mikey's not impressed. Posted by Hello