Monday, August 8, 2011


Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is the story of the beginning of the fall of mankind and the rise to power of our simian brethren. Watching the film the main thing I kept thinking was “this should be better”. Not just better, but more exciting, less choppy and a lot more visceral. Rise isn’t a bad film but that’s mainly because it isn’t a complete film, it’s more like two movies that got slammed together and neither have an ending. The entire thing is a jumbled mess of pieces parts necessary to kick-start the franchise but nothing is handled correctly and it causes the film to collapse under its own weight.

The story here is simple. Caesar, a chimp who grows to extraordinary intellect through an experimental drug is eventually driven to lead a revolt against his human captors. If the filmmakers had stuck with that premise and created a fast paced film that got our blood pumping then Rise would have been one of the best summer films out there. Instead, the folks behind the movie got way too bogged down in back-story that served no purpose and tried too hard to reinvent the original B-Film as a serious movie.

First and foremost is the James Franco character, a doctor obsessed with finding the cure for Alzheimer’s disease because of his once brilliant father now succumbing to it. Really? The filmmakers were in such a rush to make Franco’s character likable they had to give us the most cliché reason ever?

The father plot point also wastes the talents of John Lithgow, who spends half the time overacting his Alzheimer and the other half overacting his normal state. Franco’s slow drawl and monotone acting style take an already underwritten character and make him painful to watch. Nothing that the humans do here really has any impact on the story and they are grossly underwritten, or written badly across the board. As far as the film goes to show what their characters are, they never actually achieve it.

For instance, Franco is supposed to be the scientist with a soul, but his character never really shows us anything outside of soulful looks. The completely wasted Brian Cox piddles around without ever establishing who his character is or why he’s in the movie outside of being the guy who owns the monkey habitat that Caesar is taken to after he attacks a neighbor (more on that later).

Even the two bad guys never really do anything to make themselves truly evil. First is Tom Felton as one of the sons of Brian Cox’s monkey habitat owner. Felton’s character is supposed to be the ignorant redneck guy who picks on the monkeys and gets off on trying to dominate them. The film never bothers to explain why he hates monkeys as much as does and with the kind of hatred he has, it isn’t just annoyance at the job. There feels like something deeper is going on but the filmmakers decided not to try and deal with that. Felton’s character does stupid things but nothing really terrible, he’s an idiot but never really mean. His character has no weight so when he gets his comeuppance, you don’t care.

David Oyelowo, who plays the head of the typical “global evil company” funding Franco’s research, struts around in expensive suits and says mean things, but he comes across more as foolish than sinister. At one point, after several setbacks testing the drug, Oyelowo sees another monkey writing his name and suddenly approves it for mass production. Really? What drug would ever go straight to market because a monkey wrote his name? The lack of real evil to what he does makes his comeuppance seem overly cruel. So with no hero to root for and no villain to hate, everything comes to down to the monkeys, and they really don’t deliver.

The main problem is that reproducing a living being or animal without a lot of cash is a hard sell. When you’re Peter Jackson, fresh off the Lord Of The Rings, and the studio is throwing money at you; you can make a monkey always look real. When you’re Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, a tenuous-at-best attempt to kick start a franchise that hasn’t been relevant since the sixties, one that has the anchor of the Marky Mark version locked around it’s neck, the studio isn’t quite so forthcoming with the bucks.

Because of that the digital effects of Caesar never actually look 100% real. You never lose the idea that you’re staring at essentially a cartoon and it kept taking me out of the moment. In some parts the effects are so cartoony it felt more like Rise Of Grape Ape or Magilla Gorilla Goes Nutzoid.

Granted Caesar doesn’t really act like a chimp, he does things only men would do and I understand it’s hard for the brain to rationalize that. Still, Caesar tends to always look like a video game character. As well, the filmmakers went way too far trying to make him a sympathetic character. Making us care about a sweet monkey being abused isn’t hard, so all the endless shots of him looking forlorn or thinking or reacting in a “human” way begins to read more like movie filler than anything else. The only truly effective work is the final attack at the end of the film. Problem is, it’s the last twenty minutes of the movie. The rest of the film is so disjointed that you can’t get too excited by the final battle.

I lay most of the blame for this at the feet of director Rupert Wyatt and writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. It apparently took two people to write this movie and at no point did either of them look at the script and say, “Hmmm, there’s a lot of dues ex machina here”. For example, Rise opens with the first test of the super drug Franco’s character is creating. It’s just about to be approved when their star chimp goes crazy, escapes and has to be shot. That outbreak looks like a result of the drug so they deny Franco approval. Then suddenly it turns out that the chimp was protecting a young baby that nobody knew she had. Um, okay?

First off, once that was discovered the project would have been back on line since it wasn’t the drugs fault. It’s not though; it’s just shut down. Secondly, NOBODY noticed a chimp had a baby? I’m no vet but I have to imagine with a star chimp in a lab somebody would have heard it giving birth and, correct me if I’m a wrong, baby chimps don’t appear like magic. There’s afterbirth, blood, etc.

So why do it? The first is so that Franco’s doctor can become so desperate he’s pushed into doing something desperate like using the drug on his father. The second was to figure out someway to introduce Caesar. That open section dictates the entire script. It’s chock full of things that just “happen” so the plot can be moved along. They needed a voice of conscious, somebody who warns Franco’s character of the dangers of what he’s doing. Cue the girlfriend, who appears, suddenly, falls in love with Franco though there is zero chemistry and no story and then leaves.

In another scene they need something that makes Caesar look mean, though he really isn’t, and allows him to be captured and put with other monkeys. Enter the awful neighbor who hates Franco for no reason and acts like a cunt just because it makes him easier to hate. Apparently, even though he lives next door to Franco and his father, the shitty neighbor has no idea that the father has Alzheimer’s disease, which allows him to overreact to a car accident and, when the protective Caesar sees the attack, he can flip out.

The most egregious of these scenes is the way the writers begin the end of mankind. I won’t spoil it, but from the start of that subplot to the end, none of it makes any logical sense. It’s all just things that happen to get to the end goal of setting up the fall of man. That particular string of circumstances is almost insulting. Rise is riddled with these types of situations and it eliminates any real story that could have been told.

For Rupert Wyatt’s end, the man did not pace Rise very well at all. The beginning is entirely too rushed, as is the end, while the middle drags on and on. Outside of the monkey revolution, the third act is the most riddled with problems. It feels as if Wyatt realized he hadn’t really set things up for the next movie so he started throwing random things in that had nothing to do with anything. They’re so badly shoe horned in that you instantly say “Next movie set up” and it takes you out of the current movie. From the get go sections that should have been allowed to slowly grow are rushed and scenes that don’t matter are either added in or dragged out.

Rise also hurts itself by giving us two hamfisted nods to the original Planet Of The Apes movie. When the nods happen they don’t work and seem weirdly melodramatic and dated as if the person involved would never have said those things. I’m all for nods to the original but do them well. These are so goofy I kept expecting for one monkey to walk up to Caesar with two pizzas and utter “Pizza Pizza.” Rise isn’t supposed to be a comedy but the two nods result in laughs during scenes where laughs shouldn’t be.

By the end of Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes your mind is scrambling to bring order to the jumbled mess you’ve been shown. I didn’t care about characters I thought I should, I was stumbling over huge plot problems, and I was pissed that there wasn’t more monkey war action. This isn’t Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes; this is how the apes moved to the country. I wanted and expected so much more from this movie. I can’t even recommend this as a popcorn flick because it’s too heavy handed, yet it fails to have enough dramatic resonance to be a drama and it’s not sci-fi enough to be a good sci-fi movie. It’s more an amalgam of elements that never quite gel together. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is a rocky start to re-launching a beloved franchise.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Captain America--My Review

Captain America is the best superhero movie since The Dark Knight.

Now before people start screaming for my head or ordering a straight jacket, let me explain what I mean. Watching Captain America something clicked for me, something that finally made me understand the ups and downs of this genre. You can only tell a comic book tale in two ways, either completely realistically or as a complete fantasy. The Dark Knight was the first, Captain America the latter. So while Dark Knight is a superior film, Captain America is just as good of a comic book film. Captain America works because it realizes it’s a comic book and never strays from that idea.

I’m actually interested in how Captain America will blend with the more action heavy and “realistic” heroes in The Avengers. Iron Man, it’s sequel, the Hulk and Thor all tried to straddle both the realism and fantasy lines and that’s where they failed. When a comic book movie doesn’t choose a type, it never settles on what it wants to be and usually becomes a mess. Iron Man started as a comedy, then tried to become an action film, it never really became a comic book movie so it felt, for lack of a better term, off. The sequel decided to be a straight action film but what was happening was too out of the range of those films so nothing quite gelled. It also suffered from being crammed with too much and losing focus.

The Hulk did a great job of grounding itself in reality but that just doesn’t work with the subject matter. It should have been a total comic book fantasy, without all this pretentious human drama that seemed out of place. Thor has done the best so far but got anchored by a love story that had no place and didn’t work. The fantastic and comic book elements of Thor were great, the attempt to also include the realistic aspects fell flat. Green Lantern, well, that’s just what happens when people shit on the source material.

But I digress. Back to the review.

First off, I owe Chris Evans a huge apology. He nails the character of Steve Rogers across the board. There is no trace of the sarcastic frat boy jerk that played the Human Torch. It’s clear Evans understands the core of who Steve Rogers is, that it isn’t about the power but rather that Steve Rogers represents the best in all of us. Evans not only plays that idea perfectly, he manages to do it during the awkward scenes where it’s only his face digitally placed upon the body of a short and very skinny stand in. For those afraid the digital Chris Evans on the stand in would look silly, it’s about a 90/10 split. Most of the time its fine, but when it looks off it looks disturbingly like Steve Rogers has a broken neck..

Stanley Tucci is wonderful as Abraham Erksine, the peaceful German scientist whose super solider serum was, against his will, originally used by Nazi scientist Johann Schmidt. Schmidt’s reaction to the serum turns him into the Red Skull, a super human enemy that Erksine feels responsible for creating. Without ever saying it, Tucci lets us know that his faith in Steve Rogers comes from how well he knows true evil that he can know just as well true good. It makes Steve Rogers commitment to always doing the right thing that much more believable. When Evans becomes Captain America he remains the good man he was before the serum, one who is ill at ease with his new powers. His journey from that man to the hero he will become is not only charming and funny, but also allows a nod to the cover of Captain America #1.

Some were nervous that Rockateer director Joe Johnston wouldn’t be able to pull off Captain America. I’ll admit, I was nervous to, but Johnston has made a beautiful ode to not only the hero but also Golden Age comics. Johnston understands that he’s doing the fantasy comic book movie and he never loses that tone. The film is shot like an old 40s war film combined with a fantasy comic book element. The previews for Captain America have drawn some fire for the action sequences. When Cap jumps or hits a bad guy it looks over-the-top, as if all done with wires. Within the context of the film it works perfectly and allows us all to know we’re watching a comic book come to life.

One of the best decisions Johnston makes is to play down the love interest. There is romance here but it’s kept to the side, making the end that much more tragic. Actress Hayley Atwell (as Peggy Carter) and Chris Evans do a great job of keeping their feelings just under the surface. Coupled with some nice touches from Joe Johnston, the relationship feels real but never gets in the way of the story. I was particularly pleased that Johnston and the screenwriters chose to have Peggy Carter really begin to feel something for Steve Rogers when he was still small and puny. It added a depth to her character that all the exposition in the world couldn’t have mustered.

The real secret weapon in Captain America is Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull. Trying to create a scary villain that feels like a real threat is difficult in a film with such an old school vibe. We live in an era of Saw and Silence Of The Lambs, so something like the Red Skull is hard pressed to be truly scary. Weaving accomplishes this by letting it all hang out in his performance. His Red Skull is so off balance and insane with power that you’re never sure what his next move is. Weaving is so good here that he makes the Red Skull a formidable villain without any real violence. Sure he’s going to destroy the world, but he’s using the power of the Cosmic Cube, which is scary but only in a very comic book way. It’s the complete dedication to the story that makes Hugo Weaving’s Red Skull so wonderful.

The rest of the cast is also first rate. Tommy Lee Jones is perfect as Colonel Chester Philips, the military leader that directs Captain America. Dominic Cooper’s Howard Stark is something people should really pay attention to. Cooper does some small things that mimic Robert Downey JR’s Tony Stark. You can see the father and son trait between them. Toby Jones holds his own against Hugo Weaving as Dr. Arnim Zola, The Skulls’ head scientist and even manages to steal some scenes.

Aside from the cast, the real power to how good Captain America is comes from the respect the filmmakers have for the source material. Everything you need to make a successful comic book film is within the pages of the comics themselves. When you stray from that, the movie is always off; it always fails to capture what makes these characters last for generations. Don’t get me wrong, there are changes to the original story in Captain America, but none of them disrespect the source material. Much as having The Joker in Dark Knight wear make-up instead of being burned to look like a clown, Joe Johnston makes several little tweaks so that the story is more palatable to a mass audience and the story flows easier. None of what he does feels like it couldn’t have actually been in the comic originally. Johnston with his direction and Evans with his acting maintain the source material’s integrity and that is what has Captain America standing head and shoulders above the competition.

For comic book geeks like myself, there are lots of little bonuses. For instance we get Dum Dum Dugan, Gabe Jones and Jim Morita. If you’re paying attention there is a funny nod to Evans’ turn as the Human Torch and the big Iron Man 2 Starkfest scene when Tony flies down to the dancing girls. I was impressed with how the story stayed true to the forties era war film vibe, but never lost sight of being part of a bigger picture. When Captain America wakes up in the modern age, it fits right in with the rest of the films. I was concerned when Evans’ Cap met Samuel Jackson’s Nick Fury it wouldn’t gel, but it does. Part of that is how Captain America opens; it’s a smart move that sets the tone for the end as well.

Everything isn’t perfect with Captain America, there is one glaring issue that will have purists bitching and moaning. Bucky Barnes. The story of Caps’ right hand man is completely different than the comic. To start, Bucky is a friend of Steve Rogers pre-Captain America, one who often comes to the rescue of Rogers when he’s getting beaten up.


Probably the biggest problem with the whole Bucky subplot is how he dies. It just sort of happens, and a little too quickly. Anybody expecting to see Bucky in a mask fighting by Caps’ side will be sorely disappointed, especially with the death. I will say that where the death happens could, in a comic book way, give rise to the Winter Soldier, but that’s a really outside chance. The Bucky problem isn’t huge, but the fact that the rest of the movie is so good makes it stick out like a sore thumb. The post credits Avengers trailer does a lot with a little. It generates some real excitement for the movie without showing much at all.

Captain America is one of the best surprises of the entire lot of superhero movies. I went into this film expecting to feel the same blind hatred I did when I left Green Lantern. Instead I found a movie that had me cheering, rooting for the hero and feeling like I was thirteen years old again. As the comic movie genre goes forward, I think directors and writers will look to the Dark Knight and Captain America to figure out which style of movie they want to make and how to make it. Both are prime examples of how comic book movies should always be handled.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


The opening credits to Green Lantern list four writers responsible for the film. I believe that because there are four films going on here and none of them have anything to do with the other. There’s a Lifetime movie-of-the-week romance where the complete lack of chemistry between the two leads is okay because we’ll just believe what they say because they said it.

The second is a clunky and badly paced action film. The third film is a spectacle of a visual effects film with zero substance and the fourth a pieces and parts movie about uninteresting characters doing nothing of interest. So, what happened with Green Lantern that’s made it a three hundred million dollar mess?

Before getting into that, let me explain the film for those unaware. Ryan Reynolds plays sarcastic and flippant Air Force pilot Hal Jordan. Jordan receives a ring from a dying alien named Abin Sur and becomes part of the Green Lantern Corps, an ancient cosmic police force. Abin Sur had been mortally wounded fleeing Parallax, the power of fear possessed by one of the Guardians, an ancient race that oversees the Green Lantern Corps.

After giving the ring to Jordan the dead Sur is taken to a military base and examined by Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) a mild-mannered scientist with serious daddy issues. Hammond gets infected by the bits of Parallax left in Abin Sur’s wound and becomes possessed, creating a psychic link with Parallax who is out to destroy the world. Ok, so again I ask. Why is this movie such a mess?

Let’s start with the bad romance. The main culprit here is Blake Lively as Carol Ferris. I think we need to add how this Gossip Girl “actress” got the part to the Riddle Of The Sphinx, the success of Glee, Vanna White becoming famous and all the other great mysteries out there. Lively has exactly zero screen presence or acting ability. Her eyes are absolutely dead and she’s clearly there to look good in tight dresses.

When lively is angry you can tell because her voice goes a little higher, when she’s sad you can tell because her voice gets weepy and her eyes open wider, etc, etc. There was truer emoting from Number 5 in Short Circuit than Ms. Lively. Ryan Reynolds (as Hal Jordan) is not a very good actor but he can handle romantic scenes (rom-coms are his staple) so the complete lack of chemistry is all on the female side.

The clunky and badly paced action film is the fault of director Martin Campbell. It’s surprising because, while far from perfect, Campbell is usually a more competent director than this. Action works when there’s a build up to the action scenes. If you want a perfect idea of an action scene watch Superman rescue Lois Lane from the helicopter wreck in Richard Donner’s original film. Green Lantern has no build up, ever. The action scenes just happen, they kind of vomit out there and end up looking great but having no real excitement. Once the spectacle of the action is over there’s just another scene, it’s a lack of build up and then an anticlimactic let down. It doesn’t bode well for an action superhero movie to be boring.

Besides the lack of build up, the action also manages to discredit the continuity of the film itself. After receiving the ring Hal flies to OA, the planet of the Green Lanterns, to receive his training. There is a fifteen minute training scene where Hal is told by Green Lantern super solider Sinestro that’s he’s unworthy of the ring and he’s beaten to hell by Killawog, the training instructor for the Lanterns. This sets up that Jordan is going to have to strengthen his focus and overcome his fear to really be effective as a Green Lantern. This theme remains throughout the film yet whenever the action scenes come, Jordan is a master of the ring, wielding the power as if he’s had it for years. It completely derails the emotional core of the movie.

The special effects movie with no substance lands squarely at the feet of the writers and Ryan Reynolds. The character of Hal Jordan is sarcastic and childish but he also has depth and stoic sense of pride and honor. Reynolds can do the sarcastic but that’s about it. The boyish charm that makes Reynolds a cash cow in the world of romantic comedies isn’t enough to carry him through here. His Hal Jordan never rises above the sarcastic insincerity so we never believe Jordan has learned anything.

In one particularly gruesome scene, Jordan goes before the Guardians to plead for his planet. It’s supposed to be a pivotal scene in the film, the one where we see Hal Jordan finally accept the burden and responsibility of being a Green Lantern. Instead it feels like a kid begging the dean of students not to revoke the frat charter because of the kegger the night before.

On the script side, the writers never figure out exactly what to do with the other Green Lanterns. It reads as if the writers got overly excited at the possibility for amazing special effects so they just wrote in scenes they wanted to see. The other Green Lanterns come and go, mostly as plot devices to get the exposition across. In actuality they serve no other purpose besides to explain things. Instead of a solid script where discovery is made throughout the film, Green Lantern just brings in various characters to explain what’s going on and hides that cheap exposition behind big effects.

The fourth film is the mess of what the other characters are doing. There’s Hal’s best friend, who serves no purpose other than badly written comic relief. We have the wasted Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond. Sarsgaard does the best with what he has and proves how good an actor he is by rising above bad dialog that’s so cliché and silly I kept expecting Hammond to twist a fake mustache and laugh maniacally.

Let me be clear here, Sarsgaard is very good but he has zero to work with. At no point does the script make him a real threat or a credible villain. The final waste is Tim Robbins and Angela Bassett who are given parts and dialog better left to dinner theater. Everybody here just moves around, lost in a bad script and mediocre direction. The only other person who is effective here is Mark Strong as Sinestro. He nails the character across the board, even with the awful lines he’s expected to deliver.

Green Lantern also has no 2nd half. The first half sets up all of these roads that never go anywhere. We’re given this long pre-amble about how Jordan must focus and train but then suddenly Parallax shows up and Jordan has no problem kicking his ass. The end of the movie comes so quickly there’s not even a real battle, just some lofty special effects and an ending. What’s particularly troubling is the lack of basic structure. Mid-way through the film Hal Jordan isn’t very good at being a Lantern and the best Lantern warriors are picked off by Parallax like so much dandruff. When Parallax finally reaches earth, suddenly Jordan is the greatest Green Lantern ever. Really? Way to ignore basic plot progression structure guys.

These are the problems simply from a film perspective; I’ve ignored the massive liberties the film took with actual Green Lantern lore. Having been an avid reader of Green Lantern for over twenty years I was shocked by the complete lack of respect for the source material. The rumor on the farm is that this movie is a make or break for continued DC films, if it fails, then there might not be anymore after the next Batman. If this is the quality we can expect from DC and Warner Brothers, then that might be a good thing.

Friday, June 3, 2011

X-Men: First Class--My Review

As I walked out of X-Men: First Class I kept saying to myself “It would’ve been great if this had been good”. I don’t say that to infer the movie is bad, it isn’t bad, it just isn’t good. With so many elements going for it, and so many things that could’ve gone for it, watching X-Men First Class fall beneath it’s own weight is more sad then upsetting. This isn’t some glorified summer comic book film that just looks for the big effects and movie tie-ins. The people here seem like they were attempting to make a great film, it just didn’t come together at all.

To use a metaphor, X-Men First Class is like a gorgeous mirror with a several cracks in it. At first they seem insignificant but combined they shatter the glass and ruin the mirror. The first crack in the film is the length. This movie is easily half an hour too long and that extra thirty minutes drags so badly by the time you get to the final battle, you just want it to be over. Making a comic book movie is a fine line between story and action. In a comic book 2/3 story and 1/3 action work fine, on screen it only does if the story is strong. The story in X-Men: First Class isn’t strong enough to withstand the long bits between action.

The length of the film is made worse by the second big crack, which is pacing. Director Matthew Vaughn does not know how to pace a film. If you’re going to cram a lot into a story, you’d better have Christopher Nolan or younger Steve Spielberg chops at storytelling. Vaughn doesn’t, and it shows in the pacing. Scenes that should be short and sweet drag on for too long, plot points turn for no reason and other parts just rush into nothing. There’s also too much set up and not enough delivery. Part of this crack splinters off into the editing, which feels like it was done with a machete. The film is constantly jumping from place to place to place; you never have time to get settled. When the editor does settle you in, it’s for entirely too long. Imagine running as fast as you can for bursts of thirty seconds and then slowly jogging for twenty minutes and then doing it again over and over. Annoying doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Another massive crack is the script, which can never decide what it wants to be. Granted part of that is how Matthew Vaughn directed the film, but this script is patchwork that it never gels. Everything is a way to get to the next thing, there’s no sense of story arc at all. When the new mutants (no pun intended) are brought into the fold by Professor X, it’s a quick jump from mutant to mutant. We never get to know anybody; thusly we don’t care about them. For instance, when Angel (not the original Angel butAngel Salvadore known also as Tempest) turns against her new mutant buddies to join up with Sebastian Shaw (played by Kevin Bacon) you don’t care. Why? Because you never got to know her, you have no idea who she is. Her turn is more of a plot device than anything else.

I think the script suffers as well from trying too hard to not be a typical comic book movie. Again it’s a fine line that not everybody can walk. In the Dark Knight, we got a good old-fashioned criminal caper flick only instead of Al Capone and Elliot Ness we had The Joker and Batman. It worked; the story was good enough to support itself. Here the attempt at political intrigue is just boring and slow. I think centering the whole of X-Men First Class on the Cuban Missile Crisis was an error in judgment. When a film tries to hard you can feel it trying to hard and that makes it difficult to watch.

The pacing problems align with the script during the third act. We’re set up for this climactic event that’s suddenly put on hold for a long-winded Rocky-style training scene for the X-Men. It comes out of nowhere and is so incredibly melodramatic it’s laughable. The final battle also feels like nothing but a trigger for Magneto. During the film Magneto is pretty much on the side of the Xavier’s team and by the end of the film there’s no reason for him to become Magneto. A great script would have left that alone, trusting that the next film could delve deeper into Magneto’s turn. This being a mediocre script suddenly the Russians and the Americans, who witnessed the mutants save the world, decide to unite and kill them. Out of nowhere, for no reason other than to piss Magneto off so he would turn into a villain.

The script also has a problem figuring out if it wants to be its own film or part of the franchise. There are cute little nods to the other three X-Men films but then the movie shreds the continuity of other parts of those same films. For example, In X-Men 3 Xavier and Magneto are still friends in their late forties, here they part ways in their twenties. I was also left wondering why the filmmakers chose the newer crop of mutants. None of them are very compelling, their powers are fairly feeble, so why not have Cyclops, Angel, Jean Gray, and Iceman join Beast instead of second stringers? I also hated the way they crippled Professor X, it was stupid and an unnecessary departure from the original story. Same with making Sebastian Shaw a Nazi sympathizer that kills Magneto’s mother. Shaw would’ve made a spectacular villain on his own merits, why weave him into something that never happened. I also don’t like when scripts force every little fan boy detail into the story and this one does it in spades, especially the final scene between Moira and Xavier.

The final crack is the acting, which is either sub-par or phoned in. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Professor X and Magneto are brilliant, they shine incredibly bright and do the same justice to the characters that Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen did. The rest of the cast is just limp. The young X-Men have no personality, no charisma; they feel more like the cast of a bad teen drama. The more seasoned actors, like Kevin Bacon and Oliver Platt just phone their parts in, as if they needed the check or just wanted to be associated with something young and hip.

Oddly, in the opening scene with Kevin Bacon, he’s wonderfully mean and cruel, a true villain. For the remainder of the movie he’s smarmy and flippant, like a grown up version of Ed Westwick’s character on Gossip Girls. I also have to question the casting of January Jones as Emma Frost. Jones must fuck like a demon or she’s able to suck the chrome off a bumper because outside of that I see no reason that she was cast for this role. Jones has a slamming body but is in no way pretty enough to be Emma Frost, not to mention she is now the heavy weight champion of one note acting.

I know it seems like I hated X-Men First Class, but I didn’t. There are things here that work, elements I really enjoyed. The idea of a more realistic mutant film, the muted style that really stands out against the shock and awe of something like Thor or Iron Man, the tone of the film, I liked all of those things. Sadly, it wasn’t enough to rescue the movie from the massive cracks it has, but I do give it an A for effort. One day Hollywood will understand all the aspects of the evolution of a great comic book movie. For now though, X-Men First Class is a failed mutation.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New Battles Video Kicks Ass

Video is awesome, song is awesome, Battles is awesome.

My Little Ponies At The Movies

I remember My Little Ponies. Well, I remember the phenomenon. I never watched the show or collected the toys and I hadn't thought about the whole thing for years. Then I saw these videos of movie trailers edited with bits and pieces from the cartoon. It's true this is all quite brilliant but what it's really done is made me think I want to watch My Little Ponies. This show looks so fucked up.





Monday, May 9, 2011

Star Wars Saga Told In 5 Minutes With Legos

Yep, this pretty much kicks ass. The prequel section is way better than the actual prequels, go figure.



Meredith Viera Sucks

Apparently the Today show is running out of things to over-pay their "news anchors" to do so they've turned their attention to fucking things up overseas. Meredith Viera went to England to visit the set of Doctor Who. I should have known this was going to suck when the text for the segment read Dr. Who. I don't know what's more offensive, the fact that she has no clue what the show is or that she treats it like its some kind of new trend.

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Game Over Man, Game Over....But Party ON!!

I like things that come out of nowhere and make no sense. Take this disco version of the Alien theme from Ridley Scott's epic film. Nothing really here to set up, just enjoy the shit out of it.