Thursday, May 17, 2012

Happy Birthday to me!

And all of my birthday twins, who include:

Bill Paxton - An actor who has the remarkable talent of being one of my least favorite characters ever (Private "Game over, man" Hudson in Aliens) and the director and star of one of my favorite movies (Frailty).

Also, he can make that face. How sexy is that?
Craig Ferguson - A stand up comedian who has made one of the greatest comebacks in show business (second only to Robert Downey Jr.) and the only late night talk show host I have seen do a filming of his show. So far

Also has the distinction of being my sister's future husband, though he doesn't know it yet.

Soccer the Dog (Wishbone) - This dog taught me pretty much all I know about classical literature and how to enjoy it.

Alan Doyle - The lead singer of Great Big Sea (my favorite band) who just released his first solo album on Tuesday. Give Boy on Bridge a listen, it's fantastic.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dark Shadows - Movie Review


Dark Shadows is simply another reminder of why I never watch Tim Burton movies. I think this may be the last one I ever see. Rarely do I hate a movie as much as I hated Dark Shadows. If I had not gone to the theater with my mother in law (who loved the movie, so to each his own), I might have left. If I'm being totally honest, had I not been with her, I never would have gone in the first place.

Dark Shadows tells the story of Barnabas Collins, a man so desirable that a scorned witch kills his true love, curses him to vampirehood and buries him in a box for 200 years. He resurfaces in the 1970s, meets his descendants, and does some stuff. For two hours. I think the best summation of this film was already done by io9 in their review of the movie - that this movie could make all other vampire movies obsolete, as Dark Shadows actually makes you feel the soul crushing eternity of immortality. When a movie, like the recent Avengers, is three hours long but feels 15 minutes, the filmmaker has done a good job. When the movie is two hours in length and seems to go on for years, it is a catastrophe.

I don't think I have a single genuinely nice thing to say about this movie; I can't even complement the actors. While I do like Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, their continued affiliation with Burton is infuriating and makes me want to strike them both upside the head with a boxed set of Danny Elfman music. Carter and Eva Green's terrible American accents were upstaged only by Depp's British one. The rest of the cast was an utter waste, turning vaguely talented actors into boring shells of their former selves. If you've seen any other Burton movie, you have heard an Elfman score, so the music isn't even worth mentioning.

So, delightfully, on to the writing. The screenplay was helmed by Seth Grahame-Smith, the author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I haven't yet finished the book, so I can't say if this is true of all his writing, but my god, did this story drag. And meander. And although nothing seemed to happen, not a damn thing that did made any sense. Characters do things for utterly inexplicable reasons, backstories are given and then dropped, people simply wander out of the movie and are never seen again and so much new information is added in the last half hour it will make your head spin. There is a witch, and she has the ability to curse someone into being a vampire (ignoring all rules of vampirism in the process). There are also ghosts, hippies, a werewolf and for no apparent reason, Alice Cooper. I will admit, the only part of the movie I enjoyed was when Cooper was singing. No traditional rules of magic and supernaturality were followed - a major pet peeve of mine - and things seemed to have been made up entirely on the fly. 

The only redeeming quality of this movie - provided you like shots of waves crashing on rocks - is that there are at least 15 shots of waves crashing on rocks. Rather than using a fade like a normal editor, or even a clockwise wipe like Star Wars, this editor chose to insert footage of his holiday at the beach every chance he got. Over and over and over again.

Lastly, since it has been bothering me since yesterday, how the hell were there descendants of Collins if he had been an only child and never had children himself? Cutting off the family tree at that branch would have saved me a two hour headache.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Avengers - Movie Review


It is not often that I see a movie more than once in theaters. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie and Mean Girls are the only ones that come to mind. In addition, I am quite certain that there has only been one movie that I wanted to see again immediately after the credits finished rolling. And that movie is Marvel’s The Avengers.

The Avengers, helmed by my personal god Joss Whedon (of Buffy and Firefly fame), is the culmination of an unprecedented five films (Iron Man 1 and 2, Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk), with at least three more sequels in the works (Iron Man 3Captain America 2 and Thor 2) and the idea of two more Avengers movies*. With close to a decade of anticipation and an astronomical budget ($220 million, which makes the gross of $207 million from the opening weekend alone even more impressive), there was a huge amount of pressure on this film. As I practically worship Whedon, I had nothing but faith in the movie, but I had to agree with the sentiment that if it bombed, it would take many careers with it. Fortunately, it is just as amazing as everyone hoped.

The basic premise makes it a seamless sequel to all of the aforementioned films – Thor’s brother, Loki, plans to take over Earth using the power of the Tesseract, the secret weapon used by Hydra in Captain America. Nick Fury, played by the ever magnificent Samuel L. Jackson, recognizing the threat Loki poses, assembles a group of the world’s most powerful, bringing Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanov into a room together for the first time. Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson reprise their roles here, but new to the group is Mark Ruffalo as the third Hulk in as many movies, and in my opinion, the best. He portrays the character as utterly self-loathing, while still being likable to the audience, which is surprisingly unique.

Thor soon joins them, played by the unbelievably hunky Chris Hemsworth, to battle his brother. Tom Hiddleson, as Loki, is one of the stand-out actors of the film, being both whiny and annoying, and utterly terrifying. The scene where he threatens Natasha/Black Widow is absolutely chilling, and we truly feel that not only is he willing to destroy everyone on the planet, he will enjoy every minute of it. His past is no cause for this derangement (being the adopted son of the All Father has it’s perks), so I must agree with Banner when he says, “That guy’s brain is a bag full of cats. You can smell crazy on him.”

This leads me to another point – the writing in this movie is just superb. I expect nothing less from Whedon, as he has a beloved skill of writing tense action, razor sharp wit and utter heartbreak, often all in the same scene. The humor in Avengers in no exception, with a few scenes so funny that I could not catch following lines because the audience was laughing so loud. My personal two favorite punch lines have no dialog, forcing us to recall the beginning of the joke. I won’t give either away, but I will advise all readers to stay all the way through the credits, as there are two bonus scenes for this movie.

As with any other review, I must find one thing to nitpick, and with Avengers, there is really only one thing that I can think of. Through most of the movie, Bruce Banner does his utmost to keep the Hulk at bay, and when he is unleashed, all hell breaks loose. This is standard procedure and no real surprise. However, when the final battle comes and in order to fight Banner must ‘Hulk out’, he suddenly has the beast under control, with no real explanation for what caused this sudden change in demeanor. This may be a deleted scene, or perhaps something I missed, but I was left in confusion about how the Hulk became a choice rather than an affliction.

All in all, a great movie, and definitely one I recommend seeing in theaters – at least once.

* Also, there may be a Nick Fury movie. Crazy!