Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October Recap

So some stuff happened in October.  Here are the most popular posts for the month.  I'm not sure why Comics Recap was so popular this month except Google must have brought it up a lot because it mentions Batman and the like.
  1. Comics Recap 10/13

  2. My entry on paying for reviews that convinced me that Me, Cindy Borgne, and Rusty Webb should open up a book reviewing business.

  3. My Breaking Bad Finale Review

Now here's my viewing diary since the last recap.

Scarlet Knight > Thor
Red Dawn (2012):  You have to hand it to the filmmakers for making a ludicrous movie from the 80s even more ludicrous.  What's especially hilarious (unintentionally I assume) is that Thor plays a Marine who's been in Iraq and then teaches a bunch of teens basically how to become a terrorist cell like the ones that were killing his buddies in Iraq.  It's especially funny when he says, "Over there we were the good guys bringing order."  Um, yeah, maybe that's not how some people in Iraq saw it.  He even references the mujaheddin in Afghanistan who went on to become Al-Qaeda!  Honestly does this movie have any awareness of just how idiotic that appears in 2012?  I'm reminded of this exchange in The Heart of Emma Earl, Tales of the Scarlet Knight #8:
"We go into the city and then we fan out in two-man teams. Each team will pick a target of opportunity: set fire to an abandoned apartment building or blow up a warehouse or shut down power to the subways. Whatever we can do without hurting innocent people. With these diversionary raids—”
“Sounds more like terrorism,” Tim said.
“We are not terrorists. We’re the good guys. That makes us freedom fighters,” Joanna said.
It might have been nice if the people who wrote this movie had that much awareness.  But hey, I'm a genius and they're not.  About the only positive I'll say is Adriana Palicki's breasts are pretty spectacular in a tight T-shirt; too bad this wasn't R-rated.  I should head over to Mr. Skin now.  (2/5)

Bullet to the Head:  This is one of those inexpensive, fairly competent action movies that may as well have gone straight to Redbox instead of detouring to theaters for a couple of weeks.  It follows a predictable buddy action movie plot where Stallone is a hitman who teams up with a cop to hunt down the people who double-crossed him.  The main takeaway is that Sylvester Stallone needs to never, ever, ever take his shirt off in a movie again.  With all the HGH and steroids and whatnot he is completely gross.  I mean fat guys like me are on one end of the grossness scale and then guys like him with all these veins about to pop out at any second are on the opposite end.  You want to be somewhere in the middle of that.  Unfortunately he's going to be in a boxing movie with de Niro this winter.  Who wants to watch two gross old guys without their shirts on for like 90 minutes?  Ew.  (2.5/5)

Life of Pi:  This makes the same mistake as the book in wasting the first 1/4 on boring crap like how he got his name or some girl he likes.  BORING.  Get to the shipwreck and tiger already!  At least in the movie it's a little more clear early on there's a tiger.  In the book it seemed like the tiger was somehow hidden away for essentially days without him knowing it.  Dude, the life boat isn't THAT big.  The 70 minutes or so focusing on Pi and the tiger at sea are the best parts.  They'd probably look better on Blu-Ray and in 3D and stuff.  Other than that first half hour it wasn't as boring as I feared it might be. Backhanded compliment!  (4/5)

The Double:  Like "The Departed" or "No Way Out" this is about a double agent (hence the title) who's put in charge of finding himself.  In this case Richard Gere was an assassin known as Cassius in the Cold War and was also a CIA agent named Paul who was dispatched to find Cassius.  Eventually he retired and convinced everyone that Cassius was dead.  20 years later when it seems Cassius has returned, he's put in charge of finding himself again only it's complicated by the fact he's working with an eager young agent.  There's a surprise twist at the end involving this agent.  This was an effective enough thriller.  It was more fun for me because this was another movie filmed in Detroit, which in this case was subbing for the nation's capital.  What first tipped me off is the "Meet the Press" type show is hosted by a local news anchor; I guess he got to live his dream of being someone more important.  Anyway, I can just imagine producers saying, "We need a city with a lot of trash-strewn, graffiti-covered alleys and abandoned factories.  I know--Detroit!"  Hooray for us!  The movie also features not one but two "cat wranglers" despite that I can't even remember a cat being in the movie.  Anyway I watched it on Amazon (free with a Prime membership); I'm not sure if it's on Netflix.  (3/5)

The Great & Powerful Oz:  We needed another prequel to The Wizard of Oz like we needed a Tea Party government shutdown, but hey there was money to be made!  Despite my cynicism the movie was OK.  Not as good as Wicked, at least the musical which I've seen twice; I have the book on my Kindle but have yet to get to it.  Surprisingly this movie was directed by Sam Raimi.  Aren't all whimsical fantasy movies supposed to involve Tim Burton and Johnny Depp?  Isn't that like a law or something?  Anyway, James Franco plays the erstwhile "wizard" who scams all of Oz into thinking he's a great and powerful wizard to fend off two evil witches.  Mila Kunis sucked as the Wicked Witch of the West but the other two witches were OK.  And since this is a Sam Raimi movie we get the mandatory Bruce Campbell cameo; I'm pretty sure that is a law.  I don't think he managed to work his brothers into it though.  Maybe next time.  (3.5/5)

Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters:  Speaking of witches, there was this movie.  It would have been OK if it weren't so aggressively stupid.  I mean apparently these two are as smart as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, and Samuel Colt among others.  Even though this is like the 17th Century or so they're running around with revolvers, Gatling guns, a phonograph, and even a defibrillator!  Plus most everyone goes around speaking like Americans and using modern slang; at some point I expected them to say "Hashtag:  [something or other]".   Come on!  And absolutely no explanation is given as to how they obtain these genius skills since they were orphaned at a young age and obviously not going to university or anything.  At least the Sherlock Holmes movies keep the steampunk in the realm of possibility.  Then you have the weirdness of a troll that looks like a theme park mascot stomping someone's head into mush.  Big loud and dumb can work sometimes, but not this time.  BTW, I bet my witches from the Scarlet Knight stories, Sisterhood, and Awakening could kick Hansel and Gretel's ass.  (2.5/5)

Silver Linings Playbook:  bipolar boy meets depressed girl.  All hell breaks loose.  That's about the size of it.  If the title "Crazy Stupid Love" hadn't already been used that could have fit this movie as pretty much everyone is crazy.  Even the Indian shrink is a crazy Philadelphia Eagles superfan!  Anyway, I liked it but the end had a little too much silver lining for me.  (3.5/5)

Spring Breakers:  Three skanks and their uptight religious friend go to Florida for spring break after they rob a chicken restaurant to pay their way, end up getting busted, and then get bailed out by a wanna-be Scarface named Alien (James Franco).  He keeps that movie on repeat, though apparently he never saw the end to find out what became of Scarface.  If I were like some people I'd hate it because it wasn't what I was expecting.  I thought it would be more of a comedy but really it's a crime drama, sort of like "Breaking Bad" if it involved girls on spring break instead of making meth.   Selena Gomez is the uptight religious girl who's smart enough to bail before the shit hits the fan.  Another finds it's all fun and games until you get shot in the arm.  My main bone to pick is actually with Cliff Martinez's soundtrack.  The music is all thoughtful and dreamy, which is tonally incompatible with what's going on in the movie most of the time.  I guess that was the idea, but it just seems odd. (3/5)

The Call:  As a fan of Brad Anderson's movies I found this one a little disappointing because it's so predictable.  Since he didn't write or produce it, I sense he was just doing this to pay his mortgage.  It was his biggest commercial success to date so I suppose that worked.  The story follows the "Top Gun" mold where Halle Berry is a hotshot 911 operator who gets someone killed and then has to get back in the saddle again when Abigail Breslin is kidnapped.  And golly gee, wouldn't you know that it's the same kidnapper who killed the woman Halle Berry was on the phone with at the start of the movie?  And that despite all the efforts of her police boyfriend (Morris Chestnut) and the rest of the LAPD only Halle Berry can find the guy?  It is less implausible than the similar "Cellular" I watched last month.  It also makes me kind of want to ditch my prepaid phone since apparently those don't have GPS chips. Then again I doubt anyone would try to kidnap me for my hair.  (Seriously, that is the plot.)  (3/5)

Shooter:  This was an OK action movie but a little too long.  I mean after Marky Mark has killed most of the bad guys and got the others incriminating themselves on tape, why does he destroy the tape?  That just unnecessarily adds to the length of the movie which really should have been 15-30 minutes shorter.  (3/5)

Idle Hands:  Since it was October I felt like watching a dumb horror movie and I remember this was parodied on Robot Chicken because it co-stars Seth Green.  Unfortunately I took a catnap in the middle of the movie and missed how exactly the one stoner kid realizes his hand is evil and cuts it off and how Seth Green and the other stoner kid become zombies.  Anyway, what I watched of it was OK. (2.5/5)

Vacancy:  This starts off with one of those big horror movie cliches where a couple's car dies in the middle of nowhere and the only place they can go is a crappy motel.  They soon find out the motel is used for shooting snuff films.  Then they have to find a way to escape.  It follows the Hitchcock rule of if you show a gun it has to eventually be used.  Anyway, it was a decent thriller. (3/5)

All Superheroes Must Die:  This was recommended to me when I added Kick-Ass 2 to my queue on Blockbuster.  With such a provocative title I figured I might as well watch it.  It's one of those really low budget movies so I wasn't expecting too much.  Considering the budget it's not bad.  The overall plot is sort of like Grant Morrison's famous Arkham Asylum where to save a bunch of civilians a hero (or 4 in this case) have to navigate a bunch of hazards concocted by villains (or 1 villain who's named Rickshaw and yet is white).  The idea is these heroes have lost their powers and have to go through some sadisdic challenges to try to save the people.  The heroes aren't all that bright.  But like my Girl Power book it's the one who never had powers who saves the day.  Like the big superhero movies there's even a cookie scene at the end! (3.5/5)

Dead Snow:  Don't you just hate when you go away for a ski weekend and then you end up having to battle Nazi zombies?  I know, right?  I'm not sure which Scandinavian country this originated in but it was surprisingly good.  The filmmakers really did their homework on zombie/slasher movies like Evil Dead 2, Friday the 13th, etc.  (They even reference Briane Pagel's favorite horror movie "April Fool's Day.")  A bunch of med students go up to a remote cabin in the mountains for Easter weekend but their vacation is spoiled by Nazi zombies who haunt the mountains.  There's the requisite creepy old guy who shows up to explain the legend of the undead Nazis to the kids and then of course they start to get picked off one by one.  The med students are surprisingly resourceful though in combating the Nazis using everything from hatchets to a chain saw to a machine gun mounted on a snowmobile.  There's a touch of Pirates of the Caribbean in the ending too.  Overall this was much better than I thought it'd be.  The only drawback was having to read subtitles since the movie is in German or some damned thing and yet the slogans on their T-shirts are in English.  Yay, America! (4/5)

Much Ado About Nothing (2012):  After you make the highest-grossing superhero movie ever, what better to follow it up with than Shakespeare?  Yeah, that's what Joss Whedon did with this classic play set in modern day.  This doesn't really make a lot of sense with all these counts and princes and whatnot running around what looks like California.  As always the Shakespeare dialog is hard to follow.  From what I gather there's some kind of arranged marriage deal where this Claudio guy is supposed to marry a girl with the unlikely name of Hero.  Except Claudio's evil brother gets him to believe Hero isn't a "maiden" which I presume to mean not a virgin.  Again the modern setting doesn't really fly here.  And then instead of just talking things out, the priest(!) convinces Hero and her dad (Agent Coulson) that they pretend Hero is dead so Claudio will realize how much he loves this girl he just met.  It's the kind of zany scheme sitcom writers have been borrowing from for decades now.  And meantime Hero's cousin and some guy decide they love each other.  The end.  There, I saved you 109 boring, boobless minutes. (2/5)

Green Lantern:  Emerald Knights:  Funny story:  I got a digital copy of this free on a site called Vudu when I bought the Green Lantern 2011 movie but I'd forgotten I owned it until a couple weeks ago.  Except when I loaded it on Vudu their site buffers like every 10 seconds.  Fortunately Amazon had it free for Prime members--in HD even!  (OK that wasn't a funny story.)  Anyway, I guess it was like a Green Lantern version of "Gotham Knights" from 2008 which was a series of vignettes about Batman.  Except unlike Gotham Knights there's actually a central story and it pretty much uses the same animation throughout.  There are stories about some of the non-Hal Jordan Lanterns including Mogo, who is a planet.  In between these is a story about a bad guy from the antimatter universe trying to kill everyone until one girl uses physics to save the day!  It is pretty good and might help if you know nothing about Green Lantern comics.  I think my biggest complaint was whoever they got to do Killowog (the pig guy)'s voice sucked.  Michael Clarke Duncan's voice was a lot better in the movie because Killowog is supposed to be big and tough; he shouldn't sound like some ordinary schlub.  (4/5)

Green Lantern:  First Flight:  This was also on Amazon Prime, so why the hell not watch it too?  In some ways this would have been a better movie than what they ended up using.  The only drawback is Hal Jordan gets the ring and pretty much right away knows how to use it and goes flying around with Sinestro like "Training Day."  They head out to something akin to the Star Wars cantina, where Sinestro forcefeeds an alien chick some space heroin to make her talk.  This was my first real clue that while this was a cartoon it was pretty PG-13. Anyway, the gist is that Sinestro is sick of the wimpy Guardians and wants to bring order to the galaxy, so by working with some other dude they make a yellow Lantern.  And gee, who do you think is the only one who can stop him?  Duh.  Almost none of this takes place on Earth, which is why I suppose they didn't use it for the movie.  There are some differences from the other cartoon I watched about how the ring gets passed on when the owner dies.  In Emerald Knights the ring chooses a successor while in this the ring flies home and the Guardians pick someone.  I think the former is what they use nowadays in the comics.  (4/5)

Superman:  Doomsday:  Again it was free on Amazon, so why not?  They had to do a fair bit of rejiggering to get this 90s plot to work.  Now LexCorp digs up an alien pod in South America and out pops Doomsday, who's like the Hulk crossed with the Predator from that Ahh-nold movie.  There's a massive battle that makes the fight in Metropolis in "Man of Steel" look pretty tame and then Doomsday is killed and Superman "dies."  A few weeks later Superman seemingly comes back to life, but is it the real one?  If you remember the comics from the 90s, then no.  Except instead of 4 pretenders we just have one.  And only mullet-sporting Superman in black can save the day!  Again this was pretty PG-13 with blood and fake Superman killing the Toyman and stuff like that.  I got bored after the Doomsday battle.  I guess the problem is that's so epic that everything after that feels like a 45-minute epilogue.  Makes me wonder, have they made a Batman: Knightfall animated movie yet?  That would be cool. (3/5)

Wonder Woman (2008):  Yet another animated movie free on Amazon so what the hell.  Michael Offutt would like this one as it mostly sticks to the '80s reboot of the comic book where Diana's mother makes her out of clay and whatnot.  She grows up to be a great warrior and when Steve Trevor crashes on the island, she sneaks into a tournament to win the right to take him back.  The characterization of Wonder Woman was really well done, as was her relationship with Steve.  The Clash of the Titans stuff was a little goofy.  I especially wasn't sure why Hades looked more like Dionysus, the god of pleasure and gluttony.  Also not sure why Steve was flying an F-23, which never went into production.  And how do a bunch of Amazons make an invisible jet?  I thought maybe they fixed up Steve's plane but it looked different.  Also, Alfred Molina (of Dr. Octopus fame) sounded like Donald Trump as Ares; at any moment I expected him to say, "Wonder Woman, you're fired!"  Still, this wouldn't be a bad start for an actual movie.  (4/5)

Batman:  Mystery of the Batwoman:  This "mystery" was pretty easy to unravel.  I think I had it figured out after about 20 minutes.  Basically you just have to think of the movie Scream and how that ended. The gist is that some girl dressed like a bat shows up on the scene and doesn't play as nice as Batman, so he has to figure out who she is before she can cause too much damage.  It was OK but as I said too easy to figure out. (3/5)

Justice League:  Crisis on Two Earths:  I figured I might as well complete my week with another DC Universe animated movie.  In this one good Lex Luthor from a parallel Earth ventures over to our world to get the Justice League's help in stopping the Crime Syndicate, who feature evil versions of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Lantern, and Flash.  They pretty much rule the Earth, operating as a superpowered Mafia.  Naturally the Justice League agrees to help and then there's a lot of fighting between the two sides.  The end game is kind of stupid as Owlman (evil Batman) decides to use a quantum bomb to destroy all reality.  When evil Wonder Woman hears his plan, she's like, "Cool!"  Not seeming to understand destroying all reality means destroying her too.  Of course in the end Batman has to save the day.  There's a subplot where Martian Manhunter and the president's daughter fall in love and they mindfuck, which I guess is how Martians do it.  Gross.  Since there was only like 70 minutes Green Lantern is pretty much relegated to the background and the Flash is only there for comic relief.  So not the strongest in story, but I guess if you're more into slugfests it's fine.  Incidentally the current Justice League comics involve the Crime Syndicate coming to our Earth. (4/5)

P2:  This was an effective enough thriller.  The gist is that a girl working late on Christmas Eve gets trapped in a parking garage with a psycho security guy and his Rottweiler.  A little more background on both characters might have made it a little better. (2.5/5)

Dylan Dog:  Dead of Night:  If I'd ever watched more than one episode I could probably compare this to "True Blood" on HBO.  It involves New Orleans and vampires, werewolves, and zombies.  Superman from "Superman Returns" has to battle the various undead for some kind of artifact to raise an ancient demon to destroy the world or something.  This was an OK mix of horror and humor (the idea of a "body shop" for zombie spare parts was pretty funny) but it dragged on 15-30 minutes too long. Or that might be because I was watching it at like 1am.  (2.5/5)

Snitch:  Minimum sentencing laws for drugs have essentially created a scenario like during McCarthy times where the only way to save yourself is to rat out your friends, whether they did something or not.  So when the Rock's son gets arrested for accepting a shipment of Ecstasy thanks to his friend ratting him out, the only way for him not to get 10 years in jail is for the Rock to go find some drug dealers to rat out to the Feds.  Which he does with the help of an ex-con who works for his trucking company.  It was OK but dragged a little.  (2.5/5)

Session 9:  An asbestos removal company owner whose business and marriage seem to be on the rocks takes a job to clean out an old mental asylum.  With the help of David Caruso, Josh Lucas, and a couple other guys they get to work, but naturally things start to get ugly.  Josh Lucas finds some buried treasure presumably taken from the inmates while another guy finds a cache of old tapes concerning a schizophrenic woman with a dark past.  The title comes from the box of tapes he finds, each labeled Session 1, Session 2, etc.  Session 9 is the last one and we know there has to be some nasty shit on there.  Anyway, this is another low-budget thriller from Brad Anderson that does a good job of creating tension without it turning into one of those ghost hunting TV shows or The Blair Witch Project.  The final solution was a little too obvious and the film drags a little but now that it's on Netflix Instant it's a good deal for some Halloween entertainment.  (4/5)

The Last Man on Earth:  This is the old Vincent Price adaptation of Richard Matheson's I Am Legend.  It's much more faithful to the book than more recent versions, like that Will Smith abomination.  There's still a lot cut out and the first half-hour or so is almost like a silent movie because it's pretty much just Price going around scavenging supplies and such.  If you're too lazy to read the book this is a good way to get the gist of it. (3/5)

Event Horizon:  I'd most heard of this movie because it's referenced in a Family Guy episode.  Anyway, it's kind of like "Alien" meets "Hellraiser."  A crew goes out to rescue a ship called the Event Horizon that was testing a "gravity drive" that would allow it to jump from one place in the universe to the other.  But of course something went wrong.  The people in this are at least not as dumb as the supposed scientists in "Prometheus."  And hey, it's one of those rare horror movies where a black guy survives--just probably not the one you'd think.  (3/5)

Friday the 13th X:  It should have been called Jason in Spaaaaaaaace!  Because that's what happens.  They sort of borrow from "Aliens" in that a woman is found in stasis.  She's an expert on Jason Voorheis, who also happens to get unthawed and predictably starts killing all the dumbass college kids on board the ship.  It's a completely ridiculous movie but since it knows how ridiculous it is it's fine.  My favorite part is when they use the holodeck to make Jason think he's back at Camp Crystal Lake.  (2.5/5)


  1. You've been watching lots of movies!

  2. Dead Snow sounds good.
    I've already seen all the DC Animation movies, just sitting here waiting for Justice League War.

  3. Bullet to the head had a listed budget of $55 mil. I can't figure out how that is possible. I'm guessing it was paying Stallone's salary. There is no way that could have cost more tha $10 mil to make.

  4. I finally watched Life of Pi. It was boring, until it got to the ship wreck. By the end and his question "which story do you prefer" I understood why it was all so weird. I don't consider it a good movie, but the underlying message does come through. I'm glad I watched it. I haven't seen the new Red Dawn, but I loved the original movie.

    thanks for the recap. I missed the review post, I'll go back and read it. It sounds interesting.


  5. So you really think there was a tiger on that boat with Pi? How do you explain Pi's assertion at the end that God prefers the better story?

  6. The DC animated movies aren't bad except the Green Lantern one was surprisingly boring. Stallone looks amazingly buff. Too buff. You're right. He's been pounding steroids.

  7. You might be the only person I know who uses Amazon Prime. I was going to sign up for it to borrow books, but then I saw you could only borrow one per month, and the selection wasn't that appealing to me, so I figured I'd lose money on it. With Netflix, I don't really need the movies on Amazon.

    Anyway, I think "Cabin In The Woods" is my new favorite horror movie, since I like the ones that play on the conventions of the genre. I should still write that Scream sequel where everyone is the killer. That would be good.

    "Session 9" is the only other thing on your list that I saw. I saw that a few years ago, and I remember liking it, about the same as you did.

    Lately, Mr Bunches has been watching some of the Justice League cartoons! So if I can get him into those, we'll have more fun than when we watch "Mulan" over and over. Plus, it would give us a new way to play fight-- right now, we always have to be Kung Fu Panda, and I'm tired of being the jaguar and losing.

    I might check out "Event Horizon," based on your review.

    1. Jaguar style of Kung Fu is weak. No match for Panda style... everyone knows that.

    2. I buy a lot of stuff off Amazon so the Prime 2-day shipping comes in handy. The movies and books are more of a side benefit.

  8. I should check out that Wonder Woman animated movie you highlighted. I didn't much care for Event Horizon. It was a one-timer for me.



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