Consistently nauseating, Cloverfield is a non-stop roller coaster of a film, similar to Blair Witch meets Godzilla meets the Bourne movies. CNN’s already done a piece that can tell you more about the film’s side-effects than I can. As for the movie itself, you’ve got a group of friends trying to survive a monster attack on New York City. The pieces for a classic seem to be in place: a giant monster, things exploding, teens getting eaten by spiders, etc. In the end, however, it’s just another Blair Witch story, with a few extra special effects thrown in.
I will admit, the special effects are well done when you can see them, but most of the film’s action sequences involve the camera shaking around while people run and scream, and the ending leaves a little too much open. It also struck me as odd that these teens had no problem running across Manhattan and climbing 50 flights of stairs after a hard night of drinking. You have to hand it to J. J. Abrams though – six months of viral marketing succeeded in polishing a turd where it didn’t help sell the superior Snakes on a Plane. The internet is a funny thing.
The verdict: D
January 23 2008 | Movies | 1 Comment »
It should go without saying that I’ve caught the cooking bug ever since the move. Having access to my own pantry finally allows me to experiment with ingredients and fine-tune those cooking skills I’ve been lacking. If you’re one of those people who relies on canned ravioli and ramen noodles to get you through bachelorhood, I highly recommend trying out “this cooking thing.” Between setting off the fire alarm and catapulting chicken all over the kitchen, you’ll eventually find that sweet spot where cooking is made all the more worthwhile.
My most recent experiment dealt with making pizza, where I took something like this:
And turned it into this:
And it was pretty damn good. Here’s the recipe I used for the dough, and everything else I played by ear. I tried for a standard Hawaiian pizza (minus the peppers) and ended up tossing in some BBQ Pork and shrimp into the mix. The dough itself took about 2 hours (which was mostly waiting for the yeast to rise,) but the baking process itself is a measly 15 minutes.
This blog post is to commemorate one of my more successful experiments. I’m finally caught up to the cooking level of any kid who was lucky enough to take Home Ec in 6th Grade (damn shop.) As part of my New Year’s resolution, I intend to make a least two meals like this every month until I can officially declare myself ready to feed other people.
January 13 2008 | Food | 2 Comments »
I thought it was lag from all the sleeping in I did over the Christmas holiday, but the situation’s getting worse. I’m completely incapable of waking up at 6 like I normally do. My body’s developed a habit of sleepwalking me towards any alarm, turning it off, and dropping me on the couch where I don’t regain consciousness until about 8.
I tried something this morning where I left my Playstation paddle on the alarm, hoping my body would react to it. It worked for a while, until 90 minutes later, I finally wake up with the paddle in my hands and the TV screen was telling me to plug in a memory card. I wasn’t playing a game at all; I’d been dreaming it the entire time.
Either this is a sign to change my sleeping habits or get some professional help. Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.
January 08 2008 | Daily Life | 2 Comments »
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the first annual Smashie Awards – a prestigious on-line award ceremony I just made up to honor the best action movies of the year. Unlike other award ceremonies that focus on “story” and “acting,” our winners are judged on their level of ass-kicking in both quality and/or quantity, as well as their gratuitous use of special effects to portray migraine-inducing visuals.
Before we begin, let me just say 2007 was a great year for action pictures. Thanks to all the franchise sequels, there was no shortage of people getting crushed by giant robots or zombies eating people. Saturday morning cartoon adaptations went up, and character-driven superhero sob stories went down. The year in review held up significantly well compared to 2005 and 2006 combined, and if trends continue, 2008 should be a much more promising year.
But enough schmarm already – let’s Smash stuff!
Biggest Badass: The Nightwalker. Once you have a motorcycle, a suit of armor, and some killer chains, you officially rule the town.
Body Count: 1. It’s a family movie, so people are only allowed to get knocked out. The only character who actually does die in this movie simply fades away at the end.
What’s at Stake: Something about a 3000 year-old prophecy, ancient monsters, an immortal warlord, pizza, and a big Ghostbusters portal from the sky.
Pinnacle of Ass-Kicking: Basically, any shot where the turtles show off their new CGI moves. The main problem with the original movies is that the turtles were just guys in heavy foam costumes, allowing them to move with the agility of a handicapped kid wearing a parka in gym class.
Room for Improvement: Two things: One, bring back Shredder. Two: Stop showing these bloody movies to the censor board. It’s apparently wrong to show Michaelangelo hitting someone with a nunchuk, but sharp pointy objects are okay.
9. Spider-man 3
Biggest Badass: Bruce Campbell, the waiter (because he kicks ass as anything.)
Body Count: 2
What’s at Stake: A whole bunch of things. Supermodels, sick children, dead dads, Mary Janes, and a piss-poor job at a crappy newspaper.
Pinnacle of Ass-Kicking: Peter and Harry settle their differences over the last two movies by soaring over the city and smashing each other through buildings for about five minutes, before Harry finally gets clotheslined into a dumpster at a 100 mph. Next to the train battle from “Spidey 2″ this is probably one of the best super powers battles ever.
Room for Improvement: Ah… where to begin? Actually, let’s just take the short road and say that behind all the fighting, there really wasn’t any demand for an emotionally crippled superhero. I haven’t seen this much ass-kicking done by a pussy since Catwoman.
8. The Bourne Ultimatum
Biggest Badass: Matt Damon
Body Count: 5
What’s at Stake: I’m not really sure. I’ve sat through all three films, and I still don’t know the plot. Maybe it’s about Matt Damon being grumpy because he’s short.
Pinnacle of Ass-Kicking: That part when he jumps in through the window and wails on that guy for three minutes, smashing everything in the room in the process.
Room for Improvement: Any scene where he’s just walking around talking into a cell phone could easily be replaced by him screaming into the cell phone, then throwing it away before it explodes. Also, somebody get the director a tripod.
7. Hot Fuzz
Biggest Badass: Simon Pegg
Body Count: 29
What’s at Stake: A bunch of murders/accidents in a small peaceful town.
Pinnacle of Ass-Kicking: Simon Peggs loses his s**t and totally drop-kicks that old lady over the fence.
Room for Improvement: Technically, the whole first hour of this movie isn’t even an action movie. This could be easily remedied by splicing in a shot of Simon Pegg sucker-punching a girl scout every five minutes.
Biggest Badass: Ray Winstone
Body Count: 20+
What’s at Stake: Vikings are being terrorized by the mutant babies of Angelina Jolie.
Pinnacle of Ass-Kicking: Grendel breaks into the mess hall looking for trouble, and finds it when Beowulf shows up and beats the crap out of him WITH HIS BALLS.
Room for Improvement: Not to sound gay or anything, but every fight scene in this movie should end with Beowulf clubbing someone to death with his balls.
5. Live Free or Die Hard
Biggest Badass: Bruce Willis
Body Count: 36
What’s at Stake: Terrorists are hacking into the internet and using it to blow up America.
Pinnacle of Ass-Kicking: The second he kills a helicopter with a car, you know Bruce is back in force.
Room for Improvement: Considering it’s a movie about Bruce Willis fighting cyber-terrorists, there should’ve been at least one part where Bruce shoves an ergonomic keyboard up someone’s ass.
Biggest Badass: Optimus Prime
Body Count: Approx. 61
What’s at Stake: A cube that can create an army of evil Transformers. Which is really weird since the cube was a sphere in the cartoon. I’m all for changing things, but that seems unusually unnecessary.
Pinnacle of Ass-Kicking: A short, but sweet battle sequence between Optimus and Bonecrusher on the freeway, which not only ruins any future chance of a Constructicon reunion in the sequel, but also stands as the only fight scene where Michael Bay doesn’t run in and shake the camera all over the place.
Room for Improvement: See above. The whole last 40 minutes of this movie is non-stop action, but the camera doesn’t stand on a shot for more than two seconds. If you can follow any fight scene without skipping ahead frame-by-frame on the DVD, then you’re clearly a better man than I.
Biggest Badass: Zoe Bell in “Death Proof”
Body Count: 310
What’s at Stake: The reputation of bad 70’s B-cinema.
Pinnacle of Ass-Kicking: In “Planet Terror,” Rose McGowan lets the bullets fly on an army of the undead using a leg-turned-machine-gun and all the stripper moves at her disposal. Meanwhile, in “Death Proof,” the ultimate Hollywood stuntwoman delivers one of the best car chases ever and an unlikely star cries like a little girl.
Room for Improvement: None. Rodriguez and Tarantino achieved perfection years ago.
Biggest Badass: Gerald Butler
Body Count: 600
What’s at Stake: “THIS IS SPARTA!!!”
Pinnacle of Ass-Kicking: “THIS IS SPARTA!!!”
Room for Improvement: “THIS IS SPARTA!!!”
Special Award: Manliest Piece of Homoerotica since Mission: Impossible 3.
1. Shoot ‘Em Up
Biggest Badass: Clive Owen
Body Count: 100 (99 of which are Clive Owen’s)
What’s at Stake: The live of a baby, and the future of gun control.
Pinnacle of Ass-Kicking: Just click the link and watch the trailer. If you want an action movie that lives up to it’s name, this is it. 90 minutes of pure adrenaline with people getting shot and killed in the most ridiculous ways imaginable.
Room for Improvement: The only way this movie could have gotten any better is if the baby had a gun too.
In the meantime, what can we look forward to in 2008? Here’s my run-down for the picks of next year:
10. The Dark Knight
8. The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
7. The Incredible Hulk (no Ang Lee this time!)
6. Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
5. Iron Man
4. Speed Racer
3. Kung Fu Hustle 2
1. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
January 01 2008 | Movies | 2 Comments »