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!

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 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 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.