It’s dollar theater season, meaning it’s time to catch up on all the big movies we missed and only get charged a quarter of the movie ticket cost. Sweet deal.
This week, we have a special guest critic. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Brittany. Brittany, what did you think of the Incredible Hulk?
“it was hulk-a-riffic!”
Awesome. Moving on. TIH is the sequel-but-not-really to Ang Lee’s previous film. Marvel felt the need to apologize for making the first movie into an art film by having the Transporter guy create two hours of explosions and smashing. The result is pretty cool.
The Good Stuff: Other than switch out the cast and crew, they don’t reboot anything. They just have the Hulk break more things. The action sequences are massive and totally gratuitous with the flying debris. Then you’ve got Edward Norton in there (always a plus) and Tim Roth’s character is really intense.
Compared to the other Hulk: These things are really two different movies. Ang Lee was all about creating a comic book experience mixed in with some classical stage drama. Louis Leterrier is all about blowing up helicopters. On the whole, I like the story in the new one better, as well as the humor, the performances, and the overall smashing. They even did a great job of keeping the Hulk in the shadows for the first parts. What I did prefer about the first movie, though, is how they handled the special effects. Ang Lee had a better eye for action composition and every shot was in frame without violent close-up motion blurs everywhere. But I will give props to the new one for pumping everything up to a whole new level of bad-ass.
Otherwise, I love the new one. My only real complaint is how the final battle isn’t twenty minutes longer. Then again, the film was originally 3 hours long, so there’s always the director’s cut to look forward to.
New Movies this Week:
– Babylon A.D.
– Disaster Movie
A heads-up that the “Babylon A.D.” director has already issued a warning that his own movie didn’t turn out very good, but Fox is trying to sell it anyway. You may want to avoid it.
There is, however, a different Vin Diesel movie coming out. Terrence, you might want to see this:
I also want to reiterate: please avoid DISASTER MOVIE. You won’t like it. Even if you can’t take a hint from the trailers and think it might be funny, it won’t be. These guys made “Date Movie,” “Epic Movie,” and “Meet the Spartans” – this will not be any better. I don’t know what else I can say. I hate Friedberg and Seltzer movies with a passion, and the only reason I download and watch them is so that I can justify my hatred. But to give you a better idea, I found a clip of the wittiest, most clever and entertaining scene they have ever written. I swear on my grandmother’s grave that this is the most intelligent 54 seconds of their directing career. From “Date Movie,” here is the sense of humor they can’t even live up to anymore:
You’d be better off renting a straight-to-video National Lampoon movie. Not recommended either.
I’m afraid I’ll be stepping over one of those lines and blogging about Star Wars this week.
Since “Clone Wars” opened up last week, every movie blog I read has had their take on how they’ve completely lost faith in the Star Wars franchise. And while I don’t share the same kind of fanatical religious devotion they do about this once-delightful B-movie franchise, I still have my own thoughts about where things went wrong.
Jar Jar Binks, right? Hell no.
Jar Jar Binks was actually my favorite part about the new trilogy. I related to him in so many ways – we’re both physically awkward, have a disorganized way of speaking, dress funny, can do some seriously awesome things with our tongues, make up words, love the water, take pride in being annoying, and often feel like social outcasts. He’s basically just a big dork, much like any hardcore Star Wars fan, but none of them will admit it. They all want to be Han Solo, even though in real life, Han would be the guy who owns a truck, picks up girls, and beats up Star Wars fans.
The first movie ended with Jar Jar being a hero and joining the army as a new general. So obviously in the next movie, we would see a newly-improved Jar Jar whose years of training have disciplined him into a bad-ass killing machine, right?
Fast-forward to “Attack of the Clones” and suddenly the tone’s changed. Jar Jar’s a senator standing around the background, seldom says anything, passes a motion, and… that’s it? That’s what the entire first movie was building up to? Maybe not.
As far as I can tell, Star Wars was ruined by three things:
1) The Fans
2) The Internet
3) George’s Lucas’ Own Personal Insecurity
It’s like Lucas read every on-line forum that criticized him, cried in his room for five hours listening to Coldplay, and did everything he could to make people like him again. He completely abandons whatever he was setting up with Jar Jar in the first movie, and the end result is a big steaming pile of fan-service. It was darker, grittier, and all the laughs and campy thrills were gone. And the fans weren’t even satisfied with that. He ended up taking in all their criticisms again for “Revenge of the Sith” and people still hated it.
It’s one thing when fans criticize a director for butchering an adaptation; it’s another when he invents his own fantasy world and then everyone has the gall to tell him how’s it supposed to be done. And it’s even worse when he buys into it. Suddenly all the originality is gone, and we’re drifting off into the dreaded “expanded universe” territory where Hutts dress in drag and Stormtroopers kiss.
It won’t be long before my all-time favorite series “Indiana Jones” meets the same fate. “Crystal Skull” has already met the same hype and reception as “Phantom Menace,” and by the next movie, if Lucas is still obsessed with appeasing the fans, I imagine we’ll be seeing Indy all moody and tortured to appeal to the grown-up audiences. No more outrunning giant boulders, skydiving on rubber rafts, or riding exploding fridges. The camp will be gone and replaced with shakey-cam Jason Bourne fight scenes, and Indy will shoot someone in the head every five minutes.
I’m all for heeding constructive criticism, but you have to watch where you’re getting it from and think about what you want as well. I can’t begin to cover all the Ducktales fan-mail I got that tried to pitch me terrible rehashed sequel ideas. Learn as you go, but stick with what you know. If someone thinks they’re better than you, they can make their own damn movie.
The new movies starting this week:
-The House Bunny
“Death Race” is the only one I’m even remotely interested in this week (hey, it’s Jason Statham with machine guns on his car.) The others… ugh. I think it’s safe to say that the 2008 Summer Movie Season is officially over. So I’m not going to bother finding videos for everything. Instead, I’ll just post some other movie-related videos.
I’ve been listening to and loving nothing but stand-up comedy for the last three days. Ever since last Saturday (my new friend again – you know who you are) and since the boss told me I couldn’t stream videos at work anymore, I’ve been browsing the comedy stations and listening to the works of Eddie Izzard, Jeff Foxworthy, Dave Chappelle and all them other folks to keep me distracted from checking my e-mail every five minutes.
As I listen to these, I start to figure out that I’m probably lacking the life experience to become a proper stand-up comic. So many of these guys tell the most interesting stories, but in such a tone that they don’t seem crazy or abusive towards their loved ones when telling them. I’ve been listening to a lot of subtext behind these jokes, and if I’m right, these are the keys to becoming a successful comedian:
Always treat your wife like crap. If they try to get you involved in their hobbies or interests, give them some sarcastic lip and throw their health-conscious food back in their face. Extra points if you make fun of her stretch marks or insult her mother while making love.
Scream at a waiter if he brings you a salad while you’re waiting for a steak. This type of behavior is not considered harassment, nor psychotic, and you will not get kicked out of the restaurant.
Scream at children too, especially if they’re not your own. Hate them for everything they are and tell them this right to their face. Also remind them that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny were burned during the Salem Witchcraft Trials.
Abuse the homeless. All the time.
Hate anyone who’s a better parent or husband than you are. Stalk this person and make a long shopping list of every fruity thing they’re doing to maintain a healthy relationship with their family. This is a perfectly normal thing to obsess over.
If you see a group of black people on the street standing next to a KFC… you know what? I’m white. I’m not even going to touch this one.
Take all this life experience and pretend to be kidding when you tell everyone about it. They’ll laugh, and only you’ll know the dark truth.
Alternatively, you can also pretend to have done all this stuff and joke about it later.
This is Mark Meer. I consider him to be the greatest improv actor on the face of this planet. Yes, even better than the legendary Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie if they were throw into a blender and mixed with a dash of Robin Williams. And I’m not saying it just because he’s a fellow Edmontonian. I’m saying it because I see him at the Rapidfire Theater all the time and he never fails to disappoint. He’s got a ton of awards, and even did 53 hours of straight improv without sleep once. Outside of theater, he does voice work in BioWare video games such as Jade Empire, Neverwinter Nights, and performed the lead role in Mass Effect (if you choose to play as the male character – though I’m quite sure he would’ve pulled off the female one too.)
To see some of his work, you can revisit my older post about Improv on Infinite Earths. He plays Black Adam for the Legion of Doom in that one.
The reason I bring him up – the Fringe is in town. The Fringe is that time of year where all the street performers in the city actually get paid attention to and given money. Plus there’s balloons and kiosks everywhere. Me and my new friend went to go see some live improv with some of her friends and we were lucky enough to get a whole show with Mark Meer in it, along with two other fantastic performers, Kevin and Donovan.
They kicked off the show with a wonderful performance about shark-hunting with chainsaws (where the audience had to yell out suggestions whenever the performers came to a halt.) But the big one was where they asked for a volunteer from the audience and my new friend was the one who got picked. They asked her several things about her life, including parents, co-workers, and what she does for a living, and then had to re-enact a day in her life. The reason I brought up Mark Meer before is that he ended up playing her (which is essentially like getting Tom Hanks or Johnny Depp to star in your biopic.) So we were geeking out about that all night. The play itself was awesome. It involved male prostitution, an awesome robot, and the neverending battle against unkillable cancer.
Third act was a musical about a dish washer who’s wife visits him at work gives birth in the kitchen. It ended with them putting the baby in the dishwasher and setting it on the jet cycle. Then their final act was a send-up of 1970’s cop movies – in this case it was about a street wise cop named “Puddin” who’s teamed up with a mime to take down a drug cartel who works the tennis racket. I can’t begin to explain how awesome it is fighting criminals with a mime, so here’s another picture.
It’s a lot funnier on stage. Trust me. Can never go wrong with Rapidfire Chimprov.
Aside from that, we had a good night. Had some awesome bubble tea, ate green onion cakes, and watched YouTube videos while listening to stand-up comedy. One of those overall awesome Saturdays.
-Black film legends Bernie Mac (Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, Transformers) and Isaac Hayes (Shaft, South Park) have passed away, respectively from pneunomia and a stroke. Both had recently finished filming “Soul Men,” scheduled for release later this year alongside third headliner Samuel L. Jackson, who is probably hiding in a shack somewhere wearing layers of padding and eating pudding.
-National Lampoon is suing Paris Hilton for not doing a good job promoting their latest film “Pledge This.” Considering that selling a Paris Hilton movie is like selling a kick in the balls, they probably would’ve made more money if she promoted it even less.
-Special Needs Groups are encouraging a nationwide boycott on “Tropic Thunder” for it’s derogatory use of the word “retard.” People nationwide are responding by seeing it anyway.
And as usual, Hollywood’s going nuts with announcing new sequels before they even have any scripts. Generally, I like a good sequel. If the main character is the kind of guy who goes looking for trouble, or trouble’s always looking for him, you can always expect a new adventure around the corner. This is why sequels are so ideal for superheroes and action stars.
But then you’ve got the studio execs who decide that if a movie breaks $100M instantly, then an immediate sequel is needed, no matter how the first movie ended. Thus, I’m scratching my head at “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” and the already-in-the-works “Madagascar 3.” While the first movie shouldn’t have even been made to begin with, I find it ridiculous that anyone could be so passionate about these characters to give them three movies worth of adventures when all they wanted to do was go live peacefully in the jungle. Move on. Make a different movie already.
Regular movies get their charm by being about characters who end up getting taken out of their normal lives and going on a single adventure that changes their entire outlook on life. But then, when a sequel rolls around and they go on an adventure again, the charm is gone. We can no longer relate to these characters because they obviously live more exciting lives than us. I’m thinking back to the 90’s, when that damn whale couldn’t stay free, and those bloody parents kept leaving their son home alone to fight burglars every Christmas. These days, we have Shrek going on a 90-minute hike every time he has trouble in bed.
I don’t completely rule out the possibility of good sequels for unlikely movies. I just don’t find much promise in them unless there’s some kind of brilliant or absolutely out-of-left-field premise at work. Like sending Ron Burgundy into outer space.
“Hey, Ron! I’m falling off the moon!”
“Brick, get back down here!”
With any luck “Anchorman 3″ will be about the news teams traveling back in time and fighting Genghis Khan.
Now for the movie videos!
This week, the net is abuzz about the new “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” movie, which is essentially the three-episode pilot for the new animated series stitched together just like the so-called Family Guy “movie.” Am I going to see it in theaters?
Hell no. Next.
Another big one getting a lot of buzz is “Tropic Thunder,” starring Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., and Jack Black as three idiot actors who find themselves in the middle of the jungle fighting a real war.
Maybe I’ll see it.
Then the other two coming out are “Mirrors” starring Keifer Sutherland and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” starring I-don’t-know. No one seems to give a crap about either of these, so here’s a video about a fireman instead.
Does anyone watch the Olympics anymore? I’m not sure. I don’t follow them myself, but I’m assuming Canada’s won every medal so far. Anyway, the folks down at Cracked are holding yet another photoshop contest and I thought I’d throw my three cents on how they could make these games a lot more interesting.
1. Mix things up a little.
Literally. Why not have gymnasts perform their routines while having to avoid getting in the way of the boxing match below?
For that matter, they could also bring in the 100-Meter Slam Dunk, the Archery High-Dive and have people toss javelins at the BMX riders. More chaos = more fun.
2. Everybody’s Drunk
How can today’s audience relate to a bunch of athletes performing in their peak physical condition? We’re never in our peak physical condition! How about we take our best athletes, get them absolutely wasted, THEN send them out to compete on international television? YouTube will crash in minutes after people start uploading all the bloopers from the BMX Javelin Throw.
3. Wild Animals EVERYWHERE
You know that’s exactly how you’d improve it too. How can you have a 100-Meter Dash without a vicious cougar chasing everyone? And what’s a swimming pool that isn’t filled with angry crocodiles?
Sure, these suggestions would probably get everyone killed within the first few hours, but that’s Darwinism at work, folks. These people have to earn their TV ratings.
Cruising down the highway, a lane change causes my $66 parking pass (which I’d just bought yesterday) to slide over and fall down the crack between the windshield and dash. Only a tiny corner of it is left poking up. I pull over because the car vibrations are causing it to slip further and further out of sight. My finger can’t reach it, and I don’t have any tweezers or special utensils on hand to dig it out.
Then the Macgyver Theme Song kicks in:
I chew up some gum (Strawberry Splash) and stick it on the end of my Slurpee straw. Then I crank up the defoggers to full blast, which raises the pass high enough for me to get the straw in there, stick the gum onto the pass, and fish it out. Then I stick the gum onto the back of the pass and glue it to my dashboard so this doesn’t happen again. Then Richard Dean Anderson shows up and wants to make out with me, but I have to tell him no because I’m not gay. He understands and leaves.
I go to my cousin’s and we play Mario Kart Wii all night, eat chicken sandwiches, and pester hairless cats.
After so many years of adventure gaming, it’s rare that I ever get to use these inventory skills in real life. I never get to outsmart any wizards using a calculator, send wind-up bunnies into mine fields, or cryogenically freeze hamsters in ice machines, so for me, this is a big deal.
If anybody else has had any Macgyver moments lately, I’d love to hear ‘em.
I was going to blog about the movie I saw on Sunday with some friends, but we didn’t see one. Instead, I got there and it was just me and one other person (a new friend!) We spent about an hour waiting for the others to show up, but no one came. And since we couldn’t decide on a movie, we went for sushi instead.
Kyoto Sushi is an awesome restaurant. It’s the only one I’ve seen where the menu actually has pictures of every food item. We had rainbow sushi (pictured above) and also ate some boats filled with clawfish and baby octopus.
Then we went to her house and watched YouTube videos while listening to Jonathan Coulton and reading homemade comics. It was awesome.
Onto the movies: this weekend, “Pineapple Express” and “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2″ are coming out. I accidentally posted a video for Express last week because I got my dates mixed up, so I won’t do that one. Then there’s “Sisterhood,” which I have no intention of ever seeing because it looks really gay. So here’s a really gay YouTube video courtesy of my new friend, who is not gay.
Saturday, I took in my second viewing of Weird Al Yankovic’s “Straight Outta Lynwood” tour. I’d caught him last year at Capital Ex, and even then, even when I had to stand for three straight hours with tons of big fat guys standing in front of me, with a little bit of rain, it was still one of the best concerts I’d ever seen. Now I’ve had the opportunity to watch it indoors at the Winspear Center, with real acoustics and lighting, and yes, it’s definitely the best concert out there.
The guy’s probably one of the greatest performers out there. He’s a real showman. He riles up the crowd, he gets them going, and never once does he ever have to yell “I CAN’T HEAR YOU” because everyone’s already screaming at the top of their lungs. Then he spends a lot of time dancing crazy, rolling around on the ground, and pestering his band mates without missing a beat.
Then, in between sets, he’ll go off-stage to change for the next number and play clips from “AlTV” on the big screen, where he shows off his celebrity interviews, comedy sketches, and cameo roles.
The full unabridged Jessica Simpson interview:
Just a few highlights from the concert:
-He opens with “Canadian Idiot” for Edmonton. And we love it.
-The audience gets covered in stuff at least four times.
-A whole set where he sings a dozen of his songs in less than twenty minutes.
-Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers show up as back-up dancers for “The Saga Begins” and “Yoda.”
-Kevin Federline (Douchebag Macgee) gets told off and everyone cheers.
-Weird Al wears the FAT SUIT.
-A song written exclusively for waving cellphones around.
-An extended 15-minute version of “Albuquerque.”
My only gripe: no “Dare to be Stupid,” “The Night Santa Went Crazy,” or “Jurassic Park.” But maybe on his next tour.
From the videos to the crazy dance moves, they do everything in their power to keep a smile on your face until long after the show is over. It’s impossible to get across how unbelievably entertaining this show is without seeing it for yourself. Even if you’re not a Weird Al fan, there’s no way it can be the worst concert you’ve ever seen.