Monthly Archives: January 2011
The King’s Speech comes in at just under two hours, and while I’m giving myself until I finish this writing to decide on a score, I think it will come in just under a perfect ten. Read the rest of this entry
Perhaps it’s not unusual for a movie to go through so many trials and tribulations, but I suppose I don’t usually hear about it. I’ve been hearing rumblings about a Green Hornet movie for years, way back to when Kevin Smith was tied to the project. Finally, a finished product is available for our waking eyes.
If you’ve been paying attention to the criticism surrounding this movie, you’ll notice it’s been pretty mixed. Some people liked the movie while other didn’t, but I haven’t heard too many extreme views where people hated it or heralded it as the best movie of the year. However, The Tomato Meter is currently at 45%, which is pretty low in terms of over all quality.
As for me, I enjoyed this movie. Sure, the re-imagining of Britt Reid was pretty far off the mark from the chore character, but then, the movie is starring Seth Rogen, so if you were expecting a hard hitting action drama… I don’t know what to tell you. That being said, The Green Hornet is a ton of fun, and I laughed out loud on multiple occasions, so that’s about as ringing an endorsement as you’re going to get from me when it comes to action comedy. I was also impressed with the performance by Jay Chou, who I’m not familiar with, but was immediately taken with. Frankly, the guy is a movie star, and he handled his scenes with scene-stealing-grace. I also want to take a moment and say how shocked I was by Cameron Diaz‘s performance – she didn’t giggle and snort like a crazy person at all, but instead, acted like a real person. In fact, I think that’s what worked best about this movie – the characters, for whatever one dimensional failings they may have, also are good at not stepping too far out of the box – at the end of the movie, Seth Rogen’s character has evolved and become a better Green Hornet than he was at the earlier stages of the movie, but its not like he’s doing flips and killing people – in fact, his big fighting evolution scene at the end of the movie is pretty funny because again, Britt Reid isn’t a trained fighter in this take of the Green Hornet, and it shows – which gives the Rogen casting all the more legitimacy, but then, as he has a writing credit, this movie is mostly his project.
I found that pacing worked nicely, but 119 minutes might be a little too long for this sort of action comedy styled drama. If you’ve ever wondered, “How many times can you have guys get hit in the balls in your movie without it ruining the movie?” this is the movie that answers that question! The violence also continued to escalate as the movie went on, and it exceeded the heights I had expected it to reach well before it was over – that’s not necessarily a criticism, and in fact, it’s probably an endorsement; this movie takes a lot more chances than I thought it would.
The Green Hornet is a fun action comedy, and if you’re a Seth Rogen fan, it’s a must see – he gives a great performance that I can’t help but believe, enjoy and never saw coming. If I had to pick one word to summarize this movie with, it would be surprising – and The Green Hornet surprises in a good way.
My Rating: 4 out of 5
First, watch the trailer for The Company Men:
Looks good, right? In fact, this is one of the most promising trailers I have seen in a while – although keep in mind I just saw the Transformers 3 trailer… just awful. (I hope NASA is as pissed off as I am.) But yes, it looks like there are all the elements of a good story here along with a promising cast, including Ben Affleck as the guy who lost his job, Tommy Lee Jones and as Chris Cooper his former coworkers, Craig T. Nelson as their boss, and Kevin Costner as Affleck’s brother in law, who is sporting a Boston accent – guess he heard I was ripping on him for not doing a British accent in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
The problem with this movie is… well, it’s just not very good. If somebody pitched the idea of doing a movie about downsizing on a corporate level, it sounds like the stuff Oscars are made of, right? The problem here is I don’t believe this movie for a second. The characters are one dimensional and largely unsympathetic. I’m sorry, I love Tommy Lee Jones as much as anybody, but it’s pretty hard to believe that Maria Bello would have an affair with him – and what’s with the totally random shot of her rack? I love rack as much as anybody, but there was no need to include a shot of her rack while she was getting dressed. It felt like they were there shooting the movie and a producer called the director’s cell and said, “Hey, do me a favor: get some tits into this movie any way you can. Nothing says authentic drama like tits.” Its that kind of movie; you find yourself wondering, what the hell is happening here? Isn’t a million dollar home excessive for an executive that makes under $150k a year? I don’t understand the way Affleck’s character was written – it’s like they were thinking about doing the five stages of grief with him after he lost his job, but in the end, they decided, “Fuck it, lets just do denial, a little anger, and a dash of acceptance.” Why is Cooper’s character the flattest, least interesting character ever? His suicide isn’t a surprise; you’re waiting for it. In the first five minutes of the movie, his character promises to “take an AK47 to the place” if they fire him… The guy is literally throwing rocks at the office building after he gets fired… it’s the most inauthentic thing you’ll ever see on film. When Affleck gets a job working with Costner as a carpenter, you expect it to go somewhere, for Affleck to learn something besides his brother in law isn’t so bad after all. Or, maybe he’ll get good at carpentry. Or maybe that his Porsche and his country club membership weren’t so important after all. But no, that doesn’t happen. Meanwhile, Tommy Lee Jones leaves his wife after he gets fired… presumably because she bought a really expensive end table (like over $10k) in a previous scene… or because he’s having an affair… I don’t know. There just isn’t enough content in the movie to explain it. Then he decides to start his own company and he hires Affleck and they are pretty much back where they started before they got fired and the movie ends. There is no rivalry with the old company – I was thinking it might have been interesting to do a “you were doing business the wrong way, we’re doing it the right way and we’ll be more successful than you,” sort of angle, but it can’t because the movie is over. (And not a moment too soon, it’s a long 104 minutes.) The movie just always leaves you feeling… I don’t know, flat. You never feel what the movie intends for you to feel – when Cooper’s character dies, you don’t fee bad – he was a miserable man, you’re sort of glad he’s dead so you don’t have to listen to him complain anymore.
OK, I’m going to leave it there. The movie isn’t unwatchable, but on a whole, it just doesn’t work. The characters are crappy and the plot is kind of pointless. It’s an ensemble drama that wants to do character portraits, but it doesn’t devote hardly enough time to any of the characters, not even Affleck, who is the star of the damn movie. Nobody really learns anything, nobody changes… There are some good performances in here (sorry, Chris Cooper – I know they wrote you into a corner, but your sad-sack whining just wasn’t working here), but it’s not enough to save the movie. I am neither recommending nor endorsing this movie – its crappy, but if there are no other movies to see, it’s watchable. It’s like the Coors Light of movies.
My Rating: 3 out of 5
Are you kidding me with this? Surely you are joking.
I have been reading comic books since I was a little kid – the first time I read a comic book (it was an issue of Captain America… I think 294, back in a day when the cover of a comic book was actually an accurate representation of the content within, but I digress…), it captured my imagination in a way that few things have since. In the passing decades, I’ve fallen in and out of love with comics, and right now, I’m nearing one of those stages where the infatuation dims back to a flicker. It’s mostly due the exuberant amount of Batman related titles released by DC, I’m sure you’ll be happy to know, but Marvel isn’t far behind on my shit list.
I understand that comic books are, by definition, violent melodrama – a visual method of conveying stories that often do not translate mediums. It’s part of their charm. Story telling, layouts and art all come together to push the reader down a stream of fantasy that can’t be experienced anywhere else. I’m with that.
What I’m not willing to champion is the pathetic use of death as both a plot device and an excuse to sell more books. The idea that Johnny Storm is dead and is never coming back is as ridiculous as the notion that Steve Rogers is dead and never coming back… which brings me to the crux of my argument. Stop fake killing people! If characters are dead, then leave them dead. Don’t kill them and bringing them back. Now again, I do understand that comic books are melodramas, and what could be more melodramatic than coming back from the dead? But this is getting ridiculous. Getting? OK, it is completely atrocious! Look, I know you guys have a business to run and comic books to sell and your new masters over at Disney don’t want to hear that profits aren’t up this quarter, but get it together and reign it in a bit. You remember the whole Jean Gray/Phoenix thing and how she was dead, then she wasn’t dead and she did all those horrible things and then she was dead again, but then she came back again but it turns out that the one who did all the bad stuff wasn’t really her and… ugh. Just ugh. And then years later, you killed Captain America (well, not you, Tom, but you know what I’m saying) – this would not stand. You can’t kill Steve Rogers! He’s survived everything Marvel has thrown at him (including Hitler) since the 1940s, including the ill advised Captain America: Commie Smasher series from the fifties. But I guess Cap also wasn’t really dead, he was lost in time or something… (not to be confused with Batman being lost in time just a few months later… very creative, DC) and then he returned, or was reborn, or whatever. If you’re always going to bring everybody back, what’s the point of killing them in the first place? I remember a line from somewhere in volume one of Captain America where he asks himself, “Why is it that when the heroes die, its for good, but the bad guys always come back?” Well, the answer back then was that the writers were too lazy to come up with new bad guys, but these days, they’re too lazy to come up with new heroes as well. In the last decade, Marvel Comics have brought back long dead characters from the Golden Age, like James Buchanan ‘Bucky’ Barnes, Jim Hammond, aka the Original Human Torch and his partner, Thomas Raymond, aka ‘Toro’. All of these moves were unprecedented, but not as stale as what happened with Jean Gray or Steve Rogers – yet still lame. Just like what you’re doing with Johnny Storm, and consider this – given that Jim Hammond and Thomas Raymond have already died before, this makes Johnny Storm the third and final human torch to have died! Are you guys at Marvel just making sure you didn’t miss anybody?
I’ve never been a Fantastic Four fan, although the characters are likable at their basic levels. The movies sucked, but that’s not your fault. (Right?) I guess what I’m saying is I could care less what you do with these characters, but don’t do some far reaching repercussions throughout the Marvel Universe death of Johnny Storm nonsense and then just write him back into the funny papers in a year. This is the reason I’m going to drop my Batman titles – it’s overkill (sorry, no pun intended) and it’s better for Marvel’s longevity if they keep the fake deaths to a minimum.
HOW JOHNNY STORM DIED
I know a lot of folks that ended up on this page were just trying to find out how Johnny died, and initially, I didn’t provide that information – my bad.
Apparently, there was some kind of tear or something in the negative zone (I read comic books, and I have no idea what that is, so don’t feel bad) and the only way to close it was from the inside, so Johnny sacrificed himself. Now in my Star Trek the Next Generation thinking mind, it seems perfectly logical that Johnny is still alive and trapped in the Negative Zone (or whatever) – the problem is getting him out. I’m sure that’s how they’ll bring him back… find some way to tear a hole, take him out and seal it from the outside. Right. Anyway, I read that Marvel said there will not be another issue of the Fantastic Four… Fine, get ready next month for ‘Fantastic Three’… or maybe ‘The Fantastic Richards Family, Features Ben Grimm’ or something.
What do you think? Is it OK to kill off a character when you know it’s only a matter of time before they return from the grave? Comments are welcomed!
more Comic Book Reviews at creativejamie.com/category/comic-book-reviews/
The unrelenting snow has made it impossible to take down the outside Christmas lights (which I put up against my will, by the way for this specific reason!), but its yielded some fun photos.
Some things are just irresistible… you have to blog about them, even if they are old news and you meant to write something about it a month ago.
It was only a matter of time before somebody decided that they needed to put on a crazy costume and start patrolling the streets. In fact, I seriously doubt this is the first time someone has taken a crack at being a super hero, but this is the first interview I’ve seen one do, I will say that.
So here we have Phoenix Jones – he’s wearing a bullet proof vest and knife plates and donned in a costume that reminds me of Scorpion from Mortal Kombat. I was sure he’d get hit with a lawsuit before he’d get the key to Seattle, because obviously, you cant walk around tasering people, even if they are breaking the law. That’s not how society works.
And then, this happened:
Now I certainly didn’t want anything to happen to this guy, and I’m sorry it did. It sounds like he didn’t suffer any serious injuries, but the national media is starting to turn on this guy and his boys (he has homies who are also super heroes… a West Coast Avengers sort of thing, I guess), and that’s never good for anybody. It’s funny to hear serious conversations on TV that media has in comic books about;, saying Batman is a lawless vigilante or have somebody put forth essentially the exact same argument in almost the exact same words as J. Jonah Jameson does in Spider-Man: “He’s a menace!”
A word of caution to wanna be super heroes: don’t do it. Don’t even draw up costume ideas for fun. Trust me, I’ve been reading comics… well, since I’ve been able to read, and trust me: you don’t have a chance. If you’re lucky, you’ll spend a night in jail and ending up a paying a fine. If you’re not… you’ll end up dead.
NOTE: Just wanted to mention that a fair amount of my blog ideas come from my buddy over at JeepGarage.org. If you’re into Jeeps, those dudes are your peeps…
Every once and a while an actor will take a role and produce a performance that will make you realize that you may have underestimated their capabilities. I think Christian Bale has done this in The Fighter.
I do want to take a moment and be absolutely clear that I am a HUGE Christian Bale fan and that nothing the man does surprises me. Whether he’s playing Jesus or John Conner, the guy gets it done. The screenplay doesn’t even have to be that good; check out Equilibrium, for example – the director allows him to play moments out on his face, and Bale carries the movie on his back like Forest Gump rescuing the guys in his squad during the Viet Nam sequence. He’s been making movies since the 80s and continues to stack up a pile of rave revues for his performances and, obviously, the guy is BATMAN, for pete’s sake! But along comes Christian Bale as Dickie Eklund in The Fighter, and I’m feeling that everyone is at least a little surprised. They shouldn’t be – Bale does not fuck around! Now that’s not to say that Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, or Melissa Leo aren’t delivering great performances in this movie, because they are – but Bale is better. Bale is Better! That should be the rallying cry all the way to his acceptance of every possible award for best supporting actor, because the guy steals every scene he’s in.
Now that I’ve droned on and on about the performances, let me get back to the movie as a whole. For an inspirational sports movie, it doesn’t have a ton of sports in it and is surprising character driven (although I guess you yourself aren’t surprised it’s a character driven movie after my long diatribe about the performances or if you’ve already seen the movie). The movie has this gritty strength to it that really serves the subject matter and the characters well. Bale is once again doing one of his lose a ton of weight, gain a ton of weight things – this time, he’s lost a ton of weight for his role as Dickie – not be confused with his bone thin portrayal in The Machinest or his bulked up style in the Batman movies. Mark Wahlberg is especially diesel in this movie, although I guess that dude is always huge… in any case, Wahlberg gives a fine performance, but Bale is all over this movie’s grill. There is also a strong argument for Amy Adam’s performance, who also shows up and does something a bit unexpected – in fact, I was happy with the overall portrayal of her character as they didn’t try to glam her up and make her look like – well, a movie star, which is what she is (just the thought of the commercial for Leap Year is enough to make me start screaming), but she looked like a real person in The Fighter, and it’s a welcomed change to see a woman in a movie not look like a Vanity Fair model.
I really enjoyed this movie, and I’m not a big fan of the inspirational sports genre. It helps that Micky Ward’s story isn’t one I’m familiar with, and I didn’t feel like things were predictable – speaking of predictable, the swing in this movie from the second act to the third was so smooth, you barely new it was happening – and the third act is a bit longer than it usually is in most movies, although the third act in inspirational sports movies is usually pretty long – yet the movie clocks in at under two hours.
The Fighter is a situation where everyone did everything right: the performances, the directing by David O. Russell, the screenplay by Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, and Eric Johnson, the photography by Hoyte Van Hoytema, the casting by Sheila Jaffe, the film editing by Pamela Martin… everybody brought their A game, and it shows.