Category Archives: Columns

5 Things Fans Want Out Of Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D.

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Production has finally begun for “Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D.” and fans are starting to get excited for the Joss Whedon adventure (and maybe this one won’t get cancelled after one/two seasons!) So far only the pilot has been ordered but given the amount of hype the series is already getting and the big names that have signed on, it seems doubtful the show will get less than a full season order.

It was revealed last week that “Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D.” will take place after the film, Marvel’s The Avengers. The timeline and connections of this show has led to several questions and expectations that will surely be answered in the pilot episode and subsequent seasons.

So, here are five things that fans will want answered in the highly anticipated series.

::::Possible Spoilers Ahead::::

#5: The Origins Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe currently has six interconnecting film as well as three shorts with the agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D. playing a role in all of them. The big question, however, is about how the organization of was formed as it has never been fully explored. It is not a long shot to assume we will learn more about the inner workings and the origins of the agency in a series called “Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D.”

One suggestion is that Marvel Studios could decide to follow the comics and have the agency be created by Fury  but rather than acting on it, he files the idea away where it’s then discovered and put into action by the unnamed council of twelve people (renamed the World Security Council in The Avengers). What makes this idea work is that it adheres with the current dynamic that Fury and the Council presented in the film.

With Whedon on the project, however, expecting something more isn’t out of the ordinary. Whedeon’s projects often have a secret organization that seemed to control everything yet you only learn about their history little by little throughout the series, never giving too much away at a time. We see this with the Initiative in “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” Wolfram & Heart in “Angel,” Blue Sun in “Firefly,” and Rossum in “Dollhouse.” It would fit right into his style if we never fully know the back story of “S.H.I.E.L.D.” until the very end.

#4: Cameos

Seriously. One of the things that makes the Marvel Cinematic Universe awesome is how interconnected every film is to the others. Marvel Studios has done a phenomenal job at keeping everything together and with the release of a television series also set in the universe, they have a wealth of time and material to keep things fresh in between films. However, this also means fans will be expecting some cameos.

Currently, Clark Gregg is the only returning actor who has confirmed to appear on the show.  Samuel L. Jackson hasn’t been contracted to appear, Cobie Smulders is still contractually obligated to “How I Met Your Mother,” and there’s been no talk about Scarlett Johansson participating in the show.

Since the show is based on the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization, its operatives are probably the best bet at cameos that fans will see. The actual superheroes are less likely though not completely out of the question. Taking a look at each hero it seems that Thor will be the least likely to make a cameo with the fact that he lives in outer space not withstanding. Now that Tony Stark and Bruce Banner are BFF’s since the end of The Avengers, and Tony’s reputation for making things for S.H.I.E.L.D., it stands to reason the pair of them could make an appearance. Additionally, it appears that Marvel is stalling the development of the “Hulk” television series which could hint at his appearance in this project.

Some fans are also hopeful that S.H.I.E.L.D. will allow glimpses into the superhuman prisons on Earth namely The Vault, The Raft, and The Cube.

#3: Consistency

This has been mentioned a lot already and is not really a worry so much as an expectation. Things can get dicey with a media empire such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then to throw a television show into the mix, that can be downright scary when it comes to continuity. One line of dialogue can cause a canonical error that will alienate fans as well as push the show further from the movies rather than closer.

The one thing that will keep this project on the right track is, that’s right, Joss Whedon. Fans should have no fear of the consistency of this show with him in charge. He already has great knowledge of the universe after working on the film not to mention how well loved his past television projects have been.

Fans have also pointed out that the continuity will in fact be easier to maintain with the television show addition surmising that it is a lot easier to lose the details when there is a new movie every three years rather than a new episode every week.

#2: Foreshadowing For New Films

Given how connected all the movies are, it is not surprising when one of them references another or gives hints to what fans can expect in the future. For example, at the end of Iron Man 2, there is a map on a computer screen with various blips indicating different characters from the Marvel Universe. It is short and sweet but for fans who notice it, it reminds them that Whedon has got this and there is nothing to worry about.

Marvel has consistently foreshadowed throughout the films they’ve made. Iron Man had the initial “Avenger initiative” conversation. The Incredible Hulk had the frozen Captain America briefly appearing in an alternate opening, and Tony inexplicably had Captain America’s shield in Iron Man 2. These are details that aren’t just decided on a whim, rather done purposefully to hint at what is to come.

With Whedon at the helm, it seems safe to say that the show will contain hints and clues to upcoming movies and events.

In the timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the series will air after Iron Man 3 and around the same time that Thor: The Dark World is released but before Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This gives some opportunities to lay some groundwork before these films hit the theater without outright spoiling the films. Marvel Studios has made their films stand alone and connected at the same time so fans and audiences don’t have to see every movie to appreciate the story, but if you’ve seen them all then there are pieces inside to connect the dots and it stands to reason that S.H.I.E.L.D. wont be any different.

#1: Agent Coulson’s Return Explained

It was revealed that the character of Agent Coulson would be in “Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D.” despite the fact that he seemingly died at the end of The Avengers. Fans will want a good explanation of why this character is back and more importantly: How?

It has been speculated that what was actually seen in the film was the death of a Life Model Decoy (as mentioned by Tony Stark earlier in the movie). What makes this plausible is that we know Fury lies and therefore could have lied in order to bring everyone together for the big bad fight against Chitauri.

Others have said the exact opposite. That it is possible that the Coulson on the series will be the Life Model Decoy while the original Coulson did indeed die in the film. What makes this idea plausible is that having a “robot” character struggle with being his humanity as an AI while remaining unkillable is right up the alley of a Joss Whedon project (“Dollhouse,” “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” anyone?)  and would continually add depth to character.

Whichever way they take it, fans WILL be looking for an explanation.

Before You See the Movie…Read the Book!

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Our sister site, BSCkids, recently discussed the merits of reading the book first before watching some of this year’s most anticipated films including Warm Bodies, The Host, and Catching Fire. Here we discussed some of the more adult films coming out this year including The Hobbit and Gatsby. 

In general, film industry executives and production companies are more willing to finance movies that are based on books, since such projects automatically come with a built-in audience. 2013 proves to be no exception to this rule, as numerous page-to-screen adaptations, most of which are geared towards teenagers and young adults, are slated to premiere this year.

While it may be easier (and undoubtedly less time-consuming) to simply wait for the movies to open in a multiplex near you, you would be doing yourself a severe disservice and missing out on much of what makes these popular stories truly great. Cinema and literature are both art forms, and as such, are capable of expressing and conveying different aspects of the human condition. Film allows you to see fantastic worlds and iconic characters brought to life on screen, but it also presents a very narrow depiction of a story – by necessity, only one person’s vision can be immortalized on celluloid at any one time, and all too often, a director’s Sirius Black or Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry looks nothing like the one you pictured in your mind the very first time you read a Harry Potter book. Where movies enable the audience to quite literally sit back, relax, and enjoy the show, literature encourages readers to become active participants in the story, rather than mere bystanders. With books, you never have to press pause in order to go back and re-analyze a particularly mysterious moment, and there is nothing stopping you from reading a favorite scene over and over, delighting in the clever dialogue and beautiful imagery on the page. Books also have no fixed length, unlike movies, most of which run around an hour and a half long, and can thus go into more detail, focusing on background characters and subtleties that truly bring the fictional world of the story to life. For all these reasons, children and teenagers who are excited about 2013’s upcoming movies should make the time to hit up their local bookstore or library before going to the movie theaters. Try reading one of the suggested books below before you watch the film version, and see for yourself how much richer the experience becomes!

The-Hobbit-Part-1The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, written by J.R.R. Tolkien, is a quick-read of a fantasy novel that chronicles the exploits of a wizard, a band of mischievous dwarves, and a little hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. The book, much lighter in tone and style than Tolkien’s master saga The Lord of the Rings, is relatively short (at least by Tolkien’s standards), with a page count of around 300 pages.Most readers will be able to finish the novel in less time than it takes them to watch one of Peter Jackson’s sprawling, three-hour-long epic adaptations on film. Young children will love the antics of the dwarves in The Hobbit and will identify with Bilbo, a fun-loving hobbit fond of food and creature comforts, while older readers will enjoy meeting the character of Gollum for the first time and analyzing the ways in which the events in the book lead up to and foreshadow the darker tale of The Lord of the Rings. The second film in director Peter Jackson’s Hobbit prequel trilogy, entitled The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, opens on December 13, 2013.

The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby appears on most high school required reading lists for a reason – although it was first published in 1925, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel remains one of the most searing, heartbreaking depictions of love, loss, and the deception of the American dream ever to appear in print. The Great Gatsby so fully transports readers back to 1922 Long Island that, for the duration of the book, you find yourself half-believing that you are physically in the middle of one of Jay Gatsby’s infamously extravagant parties, surrounded by the smell of illegally-obtained gin and the swinging blare of jazz horns. Although young children will not easily grasp the subject matter or antiquated language of the novel, teenagers and advanced readers will be raptly drawn into Fitzgerald’s lively portrayal of the Roaring Twenties, and will identify with the book’s themes of social stratification, shifting gender roles, obsession, and disillusionment, themes that are readily recognizable to a generation of young people inheriting a world facing economic collapse, an increased gap between those that have and those that do not, and a growing sense of disenchantment with the supposed American “dream” of material wealth and mass consumption that has been handed down to them. Director Baz Luhrmann’s movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby opens on May 10, 2013.

And in case you missed here:

catching-fireCatching Fire is the second book in Suzanne Collins’ best-selling Hunger Games trilogy, and should not be missed by anyone planning on viewing the film. The book goes into far more detail than will be possible to explore in the movie’s short time span, introducing not only the entire resistance movement dedicated to overthrowing the Capitol but also a variety of fascinating, extremely complex adult characters like Finnick Odair, Annie Cresta, and Johanna Mason, all previous Victors of the sadistic Hunger Games who are still struggling to deal with the ramifications of winning. The novel is full of intense action sequences tempered by pivotal, oftentimes touching interpersonal moments crucial to heroine Katniss Everdeen’s individual growth as well as her changing relationships with Peeta, Gale, her mother, her little sister Prim, and her stylist Cinna. Catching Fire, as a book, is able to dig into a Panem that is darker and more complicated than the one portrayed in the PG-13 film version, and older readers will be attracted to the gritty reality that appears below the polished surface of the glitzy Capitol. The film version, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, opens on November 22, 2013.

The Hobbit: For the Fans, by a Fan

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Rachel –

Ahh The Hobbit. Here at last. Remember back when we started this column for Optionated? The anticipation post for The Hobbit was our first piece. Even more than a year ago we couldn’t wait to see this film and now it is finally here!

I am ready.

Oh I am soooo ready.

We’ve had a lot of changes since our original post. The production videos have brought me back into full-fledged Middle Earth fangirlisms. I feel extreme nostalgia for kiwi accents. I desire hours and hours of extended documentary footage following every goddamn employee that worked on this film. ALL OF THEM. I’ve re-read the novel. I still can’t remember all of the dwarves’ names. LET’S DO THIS.

Proper preparation for viewing The Hobbit:

  1. Peruse “Randy Thrandy”, “Dwarf Racist Party Dad” and “Party Time Thranduil” tags on Tumblr. Become obsessed with totally inaccurate internet interpretation of King Thranduil.
  2. Purchase “Party Thrandy” tshirt to wear to the film even though Thranduil will occupy about 5 seconds of footage.
  3. Dramamine even though it will make you fall asleep because everyone is saying the 3D 48fps will make you sick to your stomach.
  4. Coffee to counteract the Dramamine.
  5. Obsess over the novel again and try to figure out when the best time will be to take a pee break.
  6. Get really uppity with people excited about The Hobbit – I WAS THERE IN ’01! Realize you are an asshole. Quit it.
  7. Get side-tracked on the Smaug-Cumberbatch/Bilbo-Watkins Tumblr tag.
  8. Totally forget Evangeline Lily is in the film. (Probably not. Probably the next one) Remember suddenly while walking down the street. Realize, you are totally OK with Middle Earth getting more bad-ass lady residents. Be at peace.
  9. THERE ARE THREE MOVIES FOR THE HOBBIT? THE HOBBIT IS 200 PAGES LONG. YOU WOULDN’T GET ENOUGH POINTS TO QUALIFY FOR A SLICE OF PIZZA IN AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL READ-A-THON! HOW CAN THERE BE THREE FILMS?
  10.  Party Time
  11. Secret Step: Get your replica of The Ring of Power out of your jewelry box. Polish it. Love it. Post a picture on face book that instantly convinces your mother you got secretly married. (Obv. To Sauron.) Never let anyone handle your replica. Or touch it. Or do anything with it because it is MINE. MY OWN. MY….. PRECIOUS.

Elena-

My preparations were slightly different. I spent the week leading up to the film:

  1. Resisting the urge to reread the book at the eleventh hour (I haven’t read it since college, AKA closer to a decade than a year ago at this point), because rereading the book JUST before seeing the film never goes well for me. I like to take a film on its own terms.
  2. Laying out my Randy Thrandy power tee for the viewing. Blessing Rachel for giving me an easier alternative than actual cosplay to wear.
  3. Brushing up on my Sindarin so I won’t have to read the translation of every word King Thranduil the Beautiful whispers sweetly to me in Elvish. This way I will know that, whatever the words on the screen are, what he is really saying is “Come to me, Starfire Brightmaiden” (this is my Elvish name. Don’t question it.)….
  4. Illegally downloading the soundtrack to the cartoon version because, seriously, WTF iTunes, WHERE IS IT?
  5. Wondering how the hell there will be a third movie if they get all the way to Mirkwood in this one. Deciding I don’t care because it just means I get to see Thranduil sooner.
  6. Taking Rachel’s advice and falling down the rabbit-hole of Tumblr tags into the Wonderland that is the (Party) King of the Wood Elves as seen through the internet.
  7. Going from resigned that the film is actually going to exist to “epitomizing Beatles meets Tolkien” in 60 minutes flat (it’s all Lee Pace’s fault. He shouldn’t be so awesome).

I did not expect to get excited about this film. I grew less enamored of LOTR as the trilogy went on and as I have revisited it in the decade since.  I was enthused about a Del Toro version (thinking of Pan’s Labyrinth Del Toro, let me be clear) and sort of resigned to a PJ version that would be pretty much exactly like LOTR, except based on the book that meant just a little more to me than even the trilogy did.

But I broke down at the end and got really pumped about this movie in the last week before it came out.  Thanks entirely to the fandom and the ridiculousness that is Tumblr and meme-generator and all of it.  And even though the film wasn’t, for me, as fun as the excitement, I am still so happy I got that week of pure anticipatory pleasure.  A very sincere thank you to all the people who wrote crazy shit about Thranduil on the interwebs.  And Lee Pace, for existing and taking this role and putting up with having his face associated with Dwarf Racist Party Time Thrandy Who Sparkles and Carries a Wine Scepter While Riding a Moose.  Y’all are all awesome and I love you for it.

So.  About the film…

Reaction

Elena-

Yeaaahhhh…about the film.  I…didn’t hate it?  In fact I even kind of liked it, despite myself, because it’s the fucking Hobbit and that’s the first non-toddler book that was ever read to me and it will always have first place in my heart and this was a pretty faithful adaptation of the book onto the screen and so I couldn’t entirely dislike it even though I feel that, objectively speaking, it wasn’t great.

I wrote a really long and really boring diatribe about what I didn’t like about this movie.  Bored the shit out of Rachel and made her threaten to disown me.  (Ha! She’d cry for days if we didn’t speak again.  Wait.  This is Darth Rachel. She doesn’t cry about things. She’d just send her pet dragon to eradicate all traces of me from the Earth so she would not have to be sad, because how can one mourn what never existed?  I guess it’s a good thing I have had a few days to let my criticisms simmer down to small but potent matter.)  I am not going to run that first version of this review.  It was long.  And boring.  And, most importantly, pretty inarticulate because it still didn’t say quite what I wanted it to say.

Here’s what I want to say, verbatim from an IM with Rachel.

Elena: my take on this movie, my problem but why i understand the people who love it for this reason, is that he made a film for the fans and not for the sake of making an objectively good film

different goals drive different executions

i think he met his goal

i wanted the other goal

the end

Rachel: ah. yea.. i’m a fan. so. yay.

Elena-

The Hobbit isn’t bad.  Not bad bad (shut up, Tom Hardy as Bronson, you weren’t even in this movie! Although you would have made an excellent addition to the Hot Dwarves ’13 calendar…).  For the average movie-goer it’s going to be a lot of fun, nothing to complain about in terms of structure, acting, effects, etc.  It’s a pretty faithful rendering of the book to the screen, if with a ton of added stuff that was going on in the background that you don’t learn about in the book but later, when you read LOTR (or even later, when you read the appendices of LOTR).

And while I guess a big studio film that is true to the book is better than a big studio film that isn’t, I find I’ve become a little bit of a film snob in the last 10 years, and it’s really hard for me to actually like a movie that I don’t find amazing as a piece of cinema.  Again, it wasn’t bad.  It just wasn’t…art.  PJ is not Paul Thomas Anderson or Tomas Alfredson or Terrence Malick. He makes solid films in a predictably cinematic way, corrals large casts and big budgets with confidence, and puts together inoffensively easy to watch movies.  Fine.  For me to thoroughly love a movie I need more.  This was a B movie for me because the style of moviemaking was just solidly there, not something deep and profound on a cinematic level.

Also, I got bored in places.  I will freely admit I get bored watching the extended editions of LOTR.  They are too long.  This felt like PJ  just went for it and put the extended edition out in theaters (hence the third film).  So for me it was 5-10% too long across the whole movie.  I was ready to get to the point and move on about 2 minutes before that happened in almost every scene.

While I enjoyed the back-stage (versus what we see in the book) story, I felt like the movie swings between two extremes, the cartoonish Radagast and the full-on Nazgul darkness of LOTR, and the two do not work as being part of the same film.  I think there are ways to include Radagast and make him weird and eccentric without making him Looney Toons manic.

Finally, my biggest issue, was the high frame rate.  It. Looked.  Terrible.  Maybe the opening scenes in Bilbo’s hobbit-hole and the Hobbiton set looked good with it, sharper and clearer than they otherwise would have, but the rest of the time the movie looked like a soap opera daydream of a fantasy adventure.  I can’t watch movies on TVs that have the soap operatic effect (it’s a real thing, Google it), and this whole thing was intentionally filmed that way?  I wanted to see it thinking maybe intentionally filming it at that speed would make it better.  Nooope.  Call me a luddite, but I’ll take the speed of real film to my dying day.  I feel like everyone’s afraid to call the film out on this because it’s new tech, ooh, isn’t it shiny and special?, but I am not afraid to call bullshit.  THE EMPEROR HAS LOST HIS PANTS.  I REPEAT, THE EMPEROR IS NOT WEARING CLOTHES.  High frame rate sucks.  Also so does 3D.  Let’s get the fuck over that trend already, too. The end.

There were things I liked.  I appreciated the faithfulness to the book story. I enjoyed seeing the additions played out on center stage instead of discussed in the abstract of history.  The Gollum scene was everything I could have hoped for.  Best section of the movie, by far.  The dollar per second of Thranduil was worth the cost of admission just by itself.

Basically, what I’m saying is, I was disappointed with this film aesthetically but was still somehow okay with it because in the end it is The Hobbit and at least PJ didn’t ruin the story by changing it and Lee Pace is awesome and he rode a fucking moose and was pretty and vaguely sad like Elves always are and I think he must have muttered some Elvish spell under his breath because, swoon, and in the next one I get to see him drink wine and curse dwarves and talk about dungeons and I would totally be okay with getting thrown in his dungeon because it will be like Fifty Shades of Green with Randy Thrandy the Elvish Party King and ohmygoddidIjustsaythatoutloudI’mgoingtostopnow.

Rachel-

I’m a hater. I’m a hater who decided prior to seeing The Hobbit that I was going to hate it because three movies was unjustifiable and the new cameras were a gag.

I was wrong. I loved it. Elena is dumb.

I’ve seen it twice. Once in regular 24 fps 3D and once in the Director-intended 48 fps 3D. It’s much better (at least in 3D) in the high frame rate. So shoot me. The high frame rate rendered the 3D clearer (3D sucks, but if I have to watch it, this might be the best way). Any discomfort or weirdness was gone by the time Frodo (haha, his FACE) ran off to the East Farthing Wood.
Also, after seeing the first part of this trilogy, I kind of hate myself for ever doubting that PJ would approach the story from the same place of respect and love that he did for LOTR. Only a man truly in sync with the subject matter would give us Party Time Thrandy on a giant Elk going “is…is that…DWARF waving at me? Gross!” and rabbit sleds with the 7th Doctor and a complete tour of Bag End, and SEXY DWARVES (Looking at you Fili and STOPPITKILI and Thorin and you, too, Bofur. You minx. Call me.)

I’m a fan, I will take all of the Middle Earth that PJ presents to me. If Radagast wasn’t explicitly needed for the plot I’m sure glad I got to see him! Saruman muttering about mushrooms and Galadriel on a turn table is just what I needed to help me through my continuing affliction: Missing Tom Bombadil Disorder. (Sometimes, when it’s quiet, I sing his songs to myself while weeping. Bright blue his jacket is/And his boots are *sob* yellloooow.)

When it comes down to it…The Hobbit itself wasn’t necessary. We know how the story ends. LOTR was already made. Already successful. If an unnecessary (and… let’s face it, all book adaptations are unnecessary because THE BOOKS EXIST) film was made because a fan wanted to make it and fans want to watch it, then well you’re just kind of a jerk for bitching about 20 extra minutes of run time than you’re used to or the fact that PJ can’t go back in time and make six LOTR movies.

You also can’t complain about the rabbit sled…BECAUSE IT WAS AWESOME. OK, ELENA? You can’t hate on a movie because it “panders” to the fans. Joe on the street wants to randomly see a fantasy movie, fine. He’s not going to see a bad movie if he sits down in front of The Hobbit. He’s not. It’s not a bad movie. Just because you watched a film that did not instantly become your most favorite movie ever doesn’t mean it’s bad. We have SEEN bad movies, and this is not one of them.

You probably like that crazy Russian adaptation of The Hobbit don’t you? DON’T YOU? In this instance, you are Radagast knocking back a bunch of mushrooms and I am Saruman muttering in the corner about how much you piss me off. (No, I’m sorry, I luff you. Don’t leave me.)

Elena-

Mushrooms would probably have improved my experience.  Actually I feel like I just took some after watching that…I don’t even know what to call that.  Is it a movie?  Is it a play?  Is it just a bad dream?  What have you put in my brain you awful child?  (Never stop putting the craziest shit you can find in my brain, I luff you, too!)

Rachel-

Gollum looked absolutely incredible and uncannily like Anthony Serkis. Bravo, guys. That technology has certainly come a long way. So has the Goblin King’s goiter. HA. KILL HIM. Herding 14 and 15 people per shot with all those dwarves must have been exhausting for PJ, but it wasn’t exhausting to watch. In fact, I kind of give more of a crap about the dwarves now since PJ spent the time to show us their backstory. I know who else’s back I’d like to make stories on…wait. No. Where am I?

The only thing this film needed was more Mirkwood. More Elk-riding, party having, douche bag elves, please. I assume this will be the title of Part II.  I can’t wait to hang out with some of Middle Earth’s biggest douchebags (waves at Legolas. I will always fancy you, baby) and see a Mother. Fucking. Dragon. I will take three movies over two any day as long as PJ fills them with rock smashing giants, muttering crotchedy wizards, fuck twat elves, and sexy…sexy…sexxxxy dwarves.

Elena-

What this film needs…is more Mirkwood.  I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is, More Mirkwood.

BRING ON PART 2!  The Hobbit: A Perilous Detour Through the Greenwood. Starring Lee “I’m Not Gratuitous This Time!” Pace as Thranduil, King of the Wood Elves.

“Lee Pace is a god amongst men.” “The best 10 seconds a man has ever given me.” – Reuters

I’m serious.  Bring it.  I wants it…I wants it, precious.  It will be my birthday present.  My…precious….

Soul-Crushingly Bad Movies Inspired by Video Games

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Hollywood filmmakers are, to put it bluntly, a rather greedy and opportunistic lot. No trend, brand or character is immune from being brought to the big screen in an attempt to wring some profit out of movie-goers. Video games are no exception and the results over the years have been mixed. “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” was pretty good, and if you didn’t love the plot, at least you couldn’t disagree with Angelina Jolie’s wardrobe.

Unlike Tomb Raider, many games don’t have a compelling plot or enough characters to justify a film adaptation. But with the recent announcement of an Angry Birds movie in 2016, you might download games online today and see movie trailers once a large enough fan base is established. Angry Bird creator Rovio is financing the full-length animated movie themselves, so we may start seeing more gaming-related films being produced outside of the traditional studio system.

We’ve highlighted three of the worst movies made from video games. What do you think is the worst? Let us know in the comments!

TEKKEN

The Game:

The original game in the franchise was released in 1994 as an arcade game and eventually for home gaming on PlayStation. TEKKEN was one of the most popular hand-to-hand fighting games of the era, allowing players to choose from a wide variety of fighters. It gave rise to several sequels and is beloved by many a video game aficionado.

The Movie: Tekken (2010)

The film was produced in America and only theatrically released (with any minuscule amount of success) in Japan. Stateside, it was so poorly received that it was given a straight-to-video release. Even the producer of Tekken (the game) publicly bashed it, saying in a tweet from his @Harada_TEKKEN account, “That Hollywood movie is terrible.” Further derisive comments on Rottentomatoes.com include:

  • “…a limb-snapping effort of escapism surrounded by bland writing and sleepy performances.”
  • “The fight sequences – dreamlike and almost-spiritual in the original game – are relegated to UFC-style octagons, shot like shaky-cam snuff and soundtracked by Insane Clown Posse-wannabees. It’d be headache inducing if it weren’t so damn boring.”
  • “…You do not want to see Tekken the movie.”

BloodRayne

The Game:

Released by Terminal Reality in 2002, this game features a well-endowed, scantily clad female protagonist by the name of Rayne. She is a dhampir (half-vampire) intent on hunting down her vampire father and striking down any vampires she meets on the way. She joins the Brimstone society and works with them to vanquish the undead and prevent powerful occult relics from falling into the wrong hands.

The Movie: Bloodrayne (2005)

If you invoke the golden rule, you can’t say much about the film except for facts. So, here goes: Meat Loaf was in it. Ben Kingsley, Michelle Rodriguez and Billy Zane were also in it. The movie had a budget of $25 million and grossed almost $3.6 million, which leads us to believe it wasn’t well received.

Critical responses on Rottentomatoes.com were pretty forthright about how terrible the film was, saying things like:

  • “The fight scenes are the worst kind of editing-room cheating, meant to cover for actors who haven’t been trained to wield anything more intimidating than a cell phone.”
  • “Turgid drama and incompetently staged action sequences…”
  • “This is a movie that begs you not to watch it.”

Super Mario Brothers

The Game:

Back in the day when the original Nintendo console was king, everyone who was anyone had a copy of Mario Brothers. Mario and Luigi are some of the most recognizable video game characters in the world. Every platform ever sold by Nintendo features multiple game titles with these guys as featured players or stars. It must have seemed like a slam-dunk in Hollywood, bring the duo to the big screen.

The Movie: The Super Mario Brothers (1993)

Despite starring talented actors like Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper and Samantha Mathis, this film is a flop. The world of Dinohattan is campy and the action is not compelling. We kind of wish they’d flushed this concept down the pipes.

Critical highlights on Rottentomatoes.com include these gems:

  • “Game over, man.”
  • “Super Mario Bros. is about as playful and challenging as an unplugged pinball machine.”
  • “They should have used cheat codes to make this a winner.”
  • “It will baffle kids, bore adolescents, and depress adults.”

Guest post written by Mark Sumner

A very busy film editor, Mark is glad that his film trivia is being put to some use and that he can use his writing abilities to supplement his artist’s income.

Twilight: Part WTF (A Review of Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2)

Why are you interested in this movie?

Elena-

Because I love watching train wrecks!  Oh, god, I can’t tell you how excited I am to see this part of the saga play out.  I just…the baby thing was bad enough, that was the point when I knew the ending of Twilight was going to be bad, but the second half is where the switchman flipped the track to cracktastic.  It’s so ridiculous it’s awesome (in the schadenfreude sense), and I can’t wait to see it play out on film…I can’t wait to see how they deal with Jacob being in love with Bella and Edward’s seven-minute old INFANT and the most anti-climactic final battle EVER and will we finally get to see some hot vampire sex now that Bella’s properly married, devirginized, and delivered of a child (no).

Also, Lee Pace.  Even if I didn’t know the books or have an investment in finishing the film series, I would see this because my boy Lee is in it.  In fact, if I were not going to be dressing up as Bella with a ripped bloody T-shirt and a bloody-mouthed Edward on my arm, I would be wearing my Randy Thrandy t-shirt to this film to show who I’m there for.  Alas, in this cruel world one must choose between fabulous and fabulouser.

Rachel-

This shit isn’t done yet? How could there possibly be more? We watched her birth her horrorbaby, she died, she became a vampire, the wolf-guy got a pedo-boner. WHAT THE HELL ELSE IS THERE? Here I was minding my own business thinking I would never have to watch another Twilight movie. Did I do something to you, Elena? Did you guys conduct some kind of secret Optionated poll called “Let’s torture DarthRachel” ? Everyone voted… “Let’s make her watch more Twilight.” ? Is there even another book? Is this movie totally made up? Is it fanfic? IS THIS 50 SHADES OF GRAY?

Wait… Lee Pace is in this movie? Which vampire is he? Did we see him already? I’m just going to assume he is one of the vampires because there are no humans in this story. It’s like The Vampire Diaries only… not as good (let’s face it, TVD isn’t good anymore, sigh). So which vampire is ThrandyPace? Is he like…some super ancient Roman vampire? Is he a newborn French Revolution vampire? Will I recognize him at all? Will he have character development? WAIT. LET ME GUESS. HE IS IN LOVE WITH BELLA SWAN. Because… WHO ISN’T? *WEEPS* At least I’ll get some not at all quality Thrandy time into this viewing.

What will make it awesome?

Elena-

Um…if this one is more honest than Part 1 was?  I felt like that movie really glossed over a lot of the questionable parts of the storyline (again I refer you to Edward’s mouth cesarean of demon-vampire-baby).

Also if this condenses the bloat of the second half of the book, which was 800 pages for no real reason…it should’ve been the shortest in the series based on how much actually happens in it.

Or if Carlisle busts out a Mike Dexter reference. I’m sure he could do a nice “I’ll kick everyone’s ass in this field!” when the Volturi show up.

Honestly, what will make this movie awesome is if it gives me lots of opportunities to laugh at it. So since that’s why I’m going in the first place, I’m pretty much guaranteed a good time, right?

Rachel-

Alcohol.

What will make it suck?

Elena-

If Lee Pace is only in it for like 5 seconds. He might be…I seriously cannot remember who his character is from the book, which I read once and promptly burned.  So since I’m kind of depending on him to be my saving grace here, this could go badly for me.

Otherwise…if they rewrite this part to be that terrible sort of not awful but not good, just not good to make fun of kind of thing. That would suck. I demand the opportunity to heckle and jeer! 

Rachel-

If I run out of alcohol.

Additional thoughts on casting or production or trailer?

Elena-

Not really.  I’ve already brought up Lee Pace twice so I’ll lay off him…I think that was the only memorable casting for me for the new characters.  I always enjoy Jasper, although I know I won’t see much of him since he and Alice run off and aren’t going to be in this film much.  Actually, add this to the “make it awesome” tally—just watch Alice and Jasper run around South America looking for other demon vampire babies who grew up instead of staying with boring-ass Bella and Edward.

Rachel-

My favorite person in the Twilight movies is the snarky normal one that made fun of Bella’s ridiculous wedding. The one played by the actress that got the Oscar nom. Anna Kendrick. That one. Is she in part elventybillion? Or are there really going to be ZERO humans?

Also, someone please tell me why Dakota Fanning is in this monstrosity. That girl is a real actress who does not need to slum it by having two lines in a vampire movie. I know Kirsten Dunst was adorable in Interview… but Dakota cannot possibly have more than a couple of lines. She was in the other one… she could… make people’s head’s explode? Right? That was her? I hope she’s making absolute PILES of money. 

Reaction to film?

Elena-

I was sadly nowhere near as drunk as I had planned, but I was even more covered in fake blood in the uterine area than I had anticipated! (Note to self: fake blood is super-viscous.)  I had Edward with me, still sporting his blood-stache from delivering Renesmee, Carlie Spork Cullen, and Jacob creepily holding a baby doll and whispering about his “precious” and birthday presents.  (Note:  I…was with two female friends so this picture now becomes even more hilarious.)  Do I need to tell you how much fun I had?

Good.  Let’s just talk about this disaster, then.

Wow. This movie was pretty much everything I hoped for in terms of being excellent to make fun of.  There was something new every ten seconds or so.  Man.  But I will let Rachel call out those moments in her live blog for you. I’ll try and focus on the bigger picture stuff.

GIANT DISCLAIMER:  RACHEL AND I WILL BE TALKING ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS. WE ARE NOT GOING TO STOP AND CALL OUT “SPOILER.”  YOU ARE WARNED.

Where to start.  Okay, I’ll start with some positives.  I really liked the way they handled the ending with the Volturi which, let’s face it, is super-lame in the book.  It’s basically one line of throwaway dialogue from Alice, and the problem is solved.  Because Alice solves all problems?  Hrmm…seems like she causes them more than solves them throughout the series.  Anyway.  Here she gets to be the Big Damn Hero and save the day. I mean, her and Jasper basically rolled onto that snow-covered field like Mal and Zoe (though I’m not sure who that leaves to be Jayne hanging out of the ship…random Brazilian Savage?).  But what was the awesome part was we actually GOT a final battle. Even though I knew it was going to be an Alice vision, there was a moment when I questioned that, when I was wondering what if they DO change this up and this is really happening? Like whoa, damn, that would be epic. I was getting ready for a standing ovation (didn’t happen).

Other things I enjoyed:  Jacob’s strip-tease for Charlie.  Oh, holy shit.  I mean, of course they were going to take every opportunity to let Jacob get naked, but, I mean…they went for it with that scene. Taylor Lautner went for it.  And Billy Burke did his job of being Bella’s awesome, hapless dad, and how else would a dad like that react to his daughter’s ex-suitor, whom he had tried to push her toward, getting naked in front of him to “tell him something important” than to try and run.  The lolz abounded.

Also great?  EVERY SECOND LEE PACE WAS ON SCREEN!  Nola gal that I am, I was so pleased that they found him in New Orleans. I mean, of course reckless vampire Lee Pace hangs out here and eats drunk tourists (closest thing vampires can get to a buzz, what?) and tells Civil War stories to the locals.  Shit, now I’m wondering if the guy who made me toast to General Lee (no joke, that really happened to me in a bar here once) was RandyThrandy in disguise!  And, man, they just gave him every one-liner everyone will want to quote later to make fun of.  “Woman, I’ll follow you anywhere!”  “Name a battle.  I was there.  I helped win it.”  Lee was great.  He knew what this role was.  He went after it honey badger style.  He just really didn’t give a shit.  He knew he was better than this, and he came out with his dick swingin’ and owned it anyway.  So much fun to watch.  Now I am even more pumped for the Hobbit Part Whenever Lee Pace Shows Up.

And finally in things I liked—LANCEL LANNISTER IS ONE OF THE VOLTURI?!?!?! What?  How did I not know that?  Oh, god, every time he was on stage…more wine, sir?  This was like…Lancel got made into a vampire and was really determined not to be anyone’s bitch after suffering Cersei and Tyrion’s rule for so long.  He was all about taking names and taking heads.

Those were the good points.  Considering this movie was what, three hours long, that’s precious few.

What can I say about Bella and Edward’s (or any of them’s) acting that hasn’t already been said?  It isn’t very good.  Edward’s expression moved from constipated for four straight movies to sickeningly proud of himself (guess he  finally dropped that deuce?).   Dude…stop smirking.  Just because you knocked up your wife and she survived it, and your kid is special…you still don’t get a pass for being that self-satisfied.

I was disappointed with the producers for STILL not giving me a Mike Dexter line.  COME ON!  We all know the only reason anyone recognizes him is from being Mike Dexter.

The plot (“plot”) of this part remained as ridiculous as I remembered from the book.  Watching Jacob bonding with Nessie on screen was even creepier than it was to read about.  Maybe because the movies have just gone so far out of their way to sexualize Jacob, with the bulging muscles and shirtlessness at every chance and bedroom eyes.  I still hate the idea that the only reason he and Bella ever liked each other was because of her ovaries.  The military has a word for that:  FUBAR.  Also, can I reiterate that Nessie will apparently be full grown when she is SEVEN.  SEVEN.  Oh my god that is beyond fucked up.  So far beyond it comes around behind and kicks super fucked up in the ass.

Also what the shit was that with Bella buying them secret identities so they could run off and disappear from the Volturi?  It was…look, in the book there is a whole thing about how the werewolves and Nessie share some chromosomal abnormality that make them (1) genetically compatible and (2) immune to vampire mind tricks, so it almost made sense that she do that because then they would actually be untraceable.  But here it was just…one more plot point the movies refused to cut even though they didn’t make sense in the context that has been presented via film.

The vampire variety show was painful.  So United Colors of Benaton, so United Nations.  How does Carlisle make all these friends if he actually spends all his time parked in small towns hiding from vampire society?

I need another drink. Let’s see what Rachel thought.

Rachel-

I present to you the best of my live blog (because it’s 7 pages and I love you guys. I don’t hate you.)

On the opening scene:

No dialogue yet. Just staring. Oh I think he spit mumbled to himself just now.

“WE’RE THE SAME TEMPATURE NOW?” THAT WAS THE FIRST LINE OF THE FUCKING MOVIE.  More staring.  I think she just stabbed him…oh no just a hug. Kill him. Squeeze him until his head pops right off. Omg vampire super-fast hand job? What is going on?

Jacob’s first scene:

Hi Jacob. ‘You’re still here.’
‘Well yea…gotta bang your infant daughter while you’re out.’

Renesmee’s fucking nickname:

EW HE JUST CALLED THE BABY NESSY. “YOU NICKNAMED MY DAUGHTER AFTER THE LOCHNESS MONSTER?!!!” uncontrollable hackling laughter.

Also, can we go back to the idea that the only reason bella ever liked jacob was bc the potential fetus she hadn’t conceived yet was the one into the wolfboy? WHAT?

The Sex Scene:

“vampires dont sleep” youre right. VAMPIRES BONE. SO GET TO IT.

Boring blurry sex scene. TIME FOR MORE BOOZE. (don’t forget to get a close up of the wedding ring. This is god approved boning people. Between soulless demons.)

“I’m never going to get enough of it. How are we going to ever stop?” – literally would rather an asteroid hit the planet before I ever had to hear that line.

Prepping Bella to meet Charlie:

Did the vampire family just teach her how to do a Kristen Stewart impression?

The Soundtrack:

I think the music is so bad bc no one can actually sit thru this film sober. So they had a robot approx a soundtrack.

Jacob says something snarky about wolves being cooler than vampires:

“She wishes she was that awesome.” Yea jacob. Bc she wants to turn into an animal that can lick its own asshole. Why? When she’s got Edward for that?

Vampire Arm Wrestling:

IS IT TIME FOR VAMPIRE BASEBALL?

Oh no…LAMER. Vampire ARM wrestling.

KILL ME. 

Random Volturi Flashback:

“The Voltori are coming for us.” THANK GAWD. It’s been 2 hours right? Everyone dies. The End.

I know I’m getting super awkward backstory but all of these famous people in blond wigs look the same and … I just don’t give a damn. Oh look… a beheading.

Jacob and Renesmee (and some Italians):

Oh look Nessy can talk. And Jacob is sitting next to her in the car. I AM SKEEVED OUT. THIS IS WEIRD.

Oh good now he’s carrying her around. This is the most fucked up.. .weird ass… this is like.. .and the fact that the actress playing Nessy is all eyelinered up like a child bride… ughhhhhh. STOPPIT. PEDOSHIIIIT.

Ok so some people are teaching Nessy to control weather and then some amazon Xena princess sidekicks show up? This is the type of shit that should be CUT OUT of a film adaptation. Cluttered weird stuff that just confuses an already muddled weak storyline. Some random dude just made a beatles joke. Why do I care about this guy? 

Does Nessy have some kind of brainwashing ability? I don’t. Get. It.

Oh good now we’re adding more werewolves. Jacob really DOES only like younglings.

The half hour of gathering the various X-men Vampires is BORING. I AM BORED.

Good a fight. For no reason that I can discern.

UGH… they totally CGId this poor child actress’ face so she looks like…older and more like a sex doll for a perv.

I feel like I just blacked out because suddenly cgi wolves are chasing a bunch of italians who are VERY OBVIOUSLY running in place

Prepping for the Boss Fight

I feel myself overcome with a sense of narcolepsy. Like in order to save myself my brain is turning off. Just powering off. Rebelling bc I can’t fucking WATCH all these plastic, over makeuped barbies flap their gums at each other ANY. MORE.

Bella is a vampire dampening net. “Dude, you’re not motivating her.” I… dont think this is about motivation ,guys. I think its more that no one explains anything and there dont seem to be rules so it looks impossible to teach anyone about their mutant abilities. Where’s Professor X?

Wouldn’t it be fucking hilarious if Edward just burned up and died right now? And the credits started rolling? Or is that just my deepest desire? 

Kstew is reading the pedo-doll some kind of pornographic novel about wolf sex.

Did Kstew just say “physical. I feel like I could demolish a tank.” She has experience with being the Hulk then? Bc looks to me like her ass is sitting on a couch.

This Plot You Guys:

Now I’m in a mall. Jesus Christ. I’m in a mall restaurant with yet another nameless character that will talk more than the protagonist.

Can we go back to the whole idea that the reason the bad vamps are after everyone is because they want Alice to complete their freakshow? SO WHY IS THE MOVIE STILL GOING ON? WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH THE LOCH NESS MONSTER?

Somewhere in the snowy North:

Hey we’re in iceland or some shit.

Why are they even here? Was there some kind of agreement that everyone was going to meet in this snowy field in Iceland? Theyre about to battle some motherfucking … time lords? Dementors? Extras from the jersey shore?

OH GOD OF COURSE WOLVES TOO. Lets make the inevitable CGI nightmore even WORSE. 

Omg is that jake? IS LOCH NESS MONSTER GOING TO RIDE AROUND ON TOP OF JAKE LIKE A BIG WOLFY HORSE?

They do know that Alice isn’t even HERE right?

Ok they’ve been walking back and forth on the snow talking to each other for at least 35 minutes now. Can’t they just kill each other so I can stop watching this shit?

Michael Sheen just figured out he was in a Twilight movie. That is the ONLY explanation for the muppet noise he just made.

Heyyy… bitch from Lost. What’s up? Haven’t seen you in 5 days or so.

Bahaha… this is why vampires need CELL PHONES. Just like… call people “did you make a vampire baby?  No? Ok cool.”

NESSIE IS RIDING ON JAKE. PLEASE SHOW US A CLOSE UP OF THE AWKWARD ROCKING CGI HORRORFEST.

“So no laws broken. Let’s just disperse, cool?” “Nah…we all came all this way to get here so I think we should kill each other for no reason, k?” “Yea… I guess.”

UGHHH. …. ALICE JUST SHOWED UP… wtfffffff.  MORE BORING TALKING SHIT. They were gonna kill each other you dumb whore.  YOU’RE RUINING IT.

OK geezus. Finally. CGI FIGHT OF DOOM AND ILLEGIBILITY. LET’S DO THIS.

The Battle:

I think I’m supposed to care about these damn wolves that are dying but I actually have no idea who they are.

KICK BELLA in the HEAD. BAHHAA

Still haven’t decided which team of dead people I’m rooting for.

EDWARD GO DOWN THE HOLE GO BYE BYE .

Is there Lava down there? WTH?

Oh…Edward can fly I guess. Guess that means Dakota is left to get her ass killed by Alice the Wig. FEAR THE WIG.

I assume Alice the Wig giving Dakota to the black wolf was significant for some reason? Oh hey the Albino is still alive. How’s Lancel doing? Did Lancel Die? Or did guy who used to date Ginny Weasley die? Are they both in this movie or did I make one of them up?

The Final Blows:

Bella and Edward are fighting Michael Sheen – its kind of incomprehensible. Oh Bella just pulled his head off. Ok.

WTF.

WE JUST WENT BACK IN FUCKING ASS FUCKING SHIT FUCKING TIME FUCK?

What a mother fucking ass cop out. THIS. IS. BATTLE. THIS. MUST. HAPPEN. You can’t have a whole series end with a bunch of jerkfaces IN A FIELD just be like “cool, peace out. Donzo. See ya at Thanksgiving.”

Remember when the Mayans showed up?:

Why are there native americans? Is this bc I typed Thanksgiving? Bc they appeared AS SOON as I typed it.

Oh gooood. Half Human Half Vampire Mayan or something.  Confirming to Jacob that he can start boning Nessie in 7 years… probably 4 if no one is looking.

Hey Mayan Dude… YOU ARE IN ICELAND. You ain’t cold?

They will never forgive what happened here? WHAT ARE YOUT ALKING ABOUT ITALIAN GUY AND ALBINO BOY? NOTHING HAPPENED. NOTHING.

NO. THING.

NOTHING HAPPENED.

This was 5 hours of people zooming around in the woods and pedophilia and talking about bullshit and THEN NOTHING HAPPENED. A wolf howled.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

The End:

No one has ever hated this movie as much as I hate it, Bella. With one exception. These two fucking actors. Kstew…RPatz… you have my eternal mocking to take with you to the sparkly bank.

Cloud Atlas Is Better As A Trailer – A Review

Directed by: Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski and Andy Wachowski

Adapted from the novel of the same title by David Mitchell (published 2004)

Why are you interested in this adaptation? 

Elena-

Oh, wow, I am interested in this movie for a lot of reasons, none of which have to do with the book itself which I have never read or even heard of until this movie was announced.

Probably the biggest reason I’m interested in seeing this one is the idea that drives it—a web of stories of the same souls meeting again and again, sometimes as lovers and sometimes as friends, but always looking for each other.  That kind of reincarnation/affinity has always resonated with me; regardless of whether I believe it, the idea is powerful and beautiful.  It perfectly suits my aesthetic of High Romance.

Otherwise, the film looks visually stunning.  I was sold on seeing it after the first 10 frames or so of the preview (so maybe my primary interest is the visuals).  I am especially interested in the future sequence, and would see the movie for that storyline alone even if all the others looked terrible.

There is also the matter of who is involved in it…I trust Tykwer as a director, and I think the Wachowski brothers shine much more brightly as producers rather than directors (unless they go old school Bound style and stop using CGI).  I think they all make a great pairing of artistically conscious directors who have experience with fragmented narratives, large casts, and Butterfly Effect nuances of how big a difference one change can ultimately make.

Rachel –

I’m not particularly interested in Cloud Atlas. I guess you could say I have a chip on my shoulder about novels that are talked about as “Literary Fiction” when they are clearly frakking SciFi. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE when genre stories are embraced by the literary elite. They need to realize that genre stories are just as relevant, hard to write and hard to read as any other piece of fiction. (I mean…the good ones. Let’s just admit there is some pretty bad genre stuff AND some pretty bad “literary” stuff. But mostly the resistance to genre is all about pretensions and outright prejudice.) Cloud Atlas was short listed for a Nebula Award so, ya know…SciFi. Accept it.

I was also pretty epically disappointed in The Matrix Trilogy. I’m expecting this to be a bit of a mess. A pretty one with a couple of good fight scenes and a lot of heavy-handed appropriated mythology.

Elena-

The last Matrix movie pretty much ruined me on the trilogy. The first one was pretty good, and the second was mostly good.  The third just free-fell down the black hole of letting the CG nerds do anything they could jizz out onto the screen. Also the behind-the-curtain mythology got stupid.  So I agree there is definitely mess potential.

What would make it awesome?

Elena-

If the movie lives up to its preview, it will be awesome.  I expect it to look beautiful throughout, tell interesting sub-stories, and weave together into a sweeping epic where everything truly is connected by the end.  Also I expect there to be some creativity in the filming and editing (hallmarks of both Tykwer and the Wachowskis as directors).  If they can deliver that…I will be satisfied.

But that’s just the technical side of things. What would take this movie over the top is if I also love the characters (or at least some of the characters) and their stories.  If we get some Fountain-esque tale of spending 500 years trying to save someone that just pushes all my button about impossible (but maybe not!) love stories that span space and time…you know, all those glorious True Love motivations that the pragmatic German in me just couldn’t do in real life and hence must live out vicariously.  Yeah.  Give me that, and the technical spec’s I asked for, and you have made an awesome movie.

Rachel –

Girl, did we even watch the same preview? I watched a trailer that was 6 minutes long and made no damn sense except I got to see Tom Hanks and Halley Barry wear a bunch of terrible wigs…

FOR SERIOUS WHAT IS THIS MOVIE ABOUT?

LOVE.LIFE.KISSING.

DEATH.TOMHANKS.SUNSETS.

I gave up and read the Wikipedia synopsis of the novel just now. Nesting novels! Dystopian futures!!! The structure of the novel is the most interesting part about it; I hope they keep that structure in the film. That would make it awesome.

What would make it suck?

Elena-

A movie of this scope carries a number of inherent risks:  having to rush through the various storylines to fit them all in, having one weak sub-story/sub-cast that brings the whole to a screeching halt because it just doesn’t work, getting so lost in the sub-stories that the main story/overarching story is left undeveloped.  This is a bigger cast and set of storylines than either Tykwer or the Wachowskis have handled before, so while it might not be beyond their reach to pull off, it will be a stretch.

Beyond that are a couple of risk factors specific to this project.  First is the possibility that the story is built on an idea that seems profound at first glance but, when examined, turns out to be nonsensical or totally shallow.  I haven’t read the book, so it might be that the book is based on a not-so-profound idea, but there is the secondary risk that an adaptation of the book will dumb down a great idea into a trite one.

The other danger I see is how the stories are woven together.  I actually really enjoy tapestry movies when they are done well.  Crash was a movie that, I thought, did it well, whereas Babel was terrible.  The sub-stories have to be intimately connected for the whole to work; otherwise they just look like coincidences, and coincidence is weak storytelling.

Rachel-

I’m having all sorts of The Fountain flashbacks, I really am. And I didn’t enjoy that film like you did. I fell asleep.

I get really bored when movies try to preach at me and say “everything happens for a reason.” I am emphatically against that mindset. I think it’s a huge problem in our society…but I won’t start ranting now.

The way the novel ends, with a reminder that no matter what your contribution to the human race – it can affect someone. I think that’s nice. I think it’s even nicer that such effects are not based at all upon having children and spreading a philosophical legacy via them. I like that it’s more particular and individual. (Okay…the whole society on Hawaii things (no Spoilers) is just…fucking hackneyed, but everything else seems interesting so I will let it slide.)

This movie has a high “total mess” probability.

Additional thoughts on casting or production?

Elena-

I have really high hopes for this film.  I know my expectations are high, but I don’t think they’re unmeetable, and I trust the people involved enough to be capable of pulling off a movie like this.  While I do have some fears that this one will ultimately be a disappointment, I am hopeful for a movie-going experience that sweeps me off my feet and never lets me down.

Rachel-

Eh… there are lots of people in this movie that will appeal to my mother (but I love Tom Hanks!!! I luff him I dooooo). Casting is whatever. I heard that there was some yellow-face going on in the film (when a white person plays an Asian person, a la Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), but I didn’t see any evidence of that in the trailer. Some of the actors play different characters indifferent time periods…I sure hope they don’t have any white people playing Asians in the dystopian Korea. That…would be a terrriiiibllleee idea. 

Reaction to film?

Rachel-

I’d like to tell you a story. A story about a couple generations of highly evolved mammals on the planet Earth that douched around using up fossil fuels and screwing with several world eco-systems until said planet Earth started becoming another planet altogether – Planet Hurricane.

One day Planet Earth (not quite yet Planet Hurricane) conjured a Hurricane as big as an ocean and sent it blasting along some of that planet’s most heavily populated shores.

One of the cities on those shores was called New York, and New York functioned almost entirely through a maze of subterranean electric trains. In the days that followed the Ocean-Sized Hurricane’s visit, New York was renamed THUNDERDOME, and it didn’t have those subterranean electric trains anymore. It didn’t even have food anymore. No, all it had were diseased migrating rats, block after block of cold, dark buildings, and a halo of ash floating in flood waters that used to be where the latest generation of highly evolved mammals lived.

THUNDERDOME was not a place of frivolity. THUNDERDOME didn’t have such establishments as Movie Theaters.

THUNDERDOME ONLY HAD THUNDERDOME.

Elena-

I think the moral of “Welcome to Thunderdome” there is, Hurricane Sandy happened in order that Rachel would not have to watch Cloud Atlas.

Truth be told, I almost envy her.  I liked this movie so much more before I saw it.

I really, really, really wanted to love this movie.  Obviously.  I walked out of the theater not sure how I felt about it.  A movie with this many storylines and messages does take some parsing out.  Unfortunately, the more I thought about it the less I liked it overall.

Technically, this movie was up to my expectations for it.  Beautiful to watch, varied and creative without being distractingly so, just a treat to look at.

However.  If you did more than look at it, by which I mean, paid attention to the stories and characters, then problems arose.

First of all, ugh. This movie was so politically correct! Big evil oil trying to control the world’s energy! Misunderstood ghey lovers! The slave with career skillz and a heart of gold who convinces a man to become an abolitionist!  The evil government overlords who want to control everything and kill anyone who opposes them!  A slight complaint, really, but it did make me roll my eyes, like “Really, that’s the best you could come up with?”

I didn’t mind the multiple castings.  I don’t know if there would have been a clear way to delineate who was who in each scenario without something even hokier than repeating actors, like always putting the “same” character in one particular color or giving them physical ticks or habits like smoking, reading the same book, eating the same thing, etc.  That would have been worse.  None of the parts really stood out to me as amazing character work on their own; Tom Hanks definitely differentiated his characters better than Halle Berry.  The others played such different parts, in such different stories, that I sometimes forgot they were the same actors.  But the real scene stealer was Hugo Weaving.  Mr. Anderson was a fucking fabulous villain, playing the, or at least an, antagonist in basically every storyline and nailing each one—even the comedic one in the most light-hearted of the stories.

To address Rachel’s concern about the yellow-face—in the context it did not bother me at all.  This was because it was applied consistently, and to characters who were from a different race than Somni.  She was a fabricant (cough *replicant* cough), while they were not.  So I don’t know if they were actually meant to be Asian or if they were meant to have some odd forehead deformation that was part of their physical characteristics as a race at that point.

Honestly, the two biggest problems I had with this movie is that there was no real philosophical or emotional payout from the film as a whole, and most of the relationships didn’t really work for me.

The two that moved me were the gay lovers and the dystopian city genetically modified girl/natural “full human” man.  Interestingly enough (or perhaps this is so expected it’s not interesting) those were also the storylines that engaged me the most.  I didn’t really like the publisher’s story. It seemed needlessly frivolous, like it was comic relief for a movie that really wasn’t intense enough to require comic relief.  The reporter/scientist storyline seemed built mainly on their mutual sense of déjà vu, and the plot was a pretty tried-and-true evil corporate cover-up gone murderous.  The future, post-apocalyptic story was just sort of there.  The sea journey was painfully cliché.

I did really, truly enjoy the composer’s story.  That was a very compelling storyline, and I enjoyed the characters and their relationship. Definitely the most complex of them, and the story that will stick with me the longest.

I also enjoyed the future story.  The city was definitely in the mode of Bladerunner dystopias, and the events carried the sort of desperate romanticism I was expecting.  The girl’s philosophy, of only needing to convince one person of the truth of her words, was a nice twist away from the typical over-the-top rhetoric about telling “the people” the truth and giving them enlightenment.

But that leaves a tally of 4-2 stories I didn’t like to stories I did, and in the end I really didn’t feel much of a connection between the stories and characters other than being told these were reincarnations.  Small pieces were woven together—the composer is reading the journal of the abolitionist, the reporter knows the composer’s only work, the publisher has a manuscript for novels written about the reporter by her friend, the future girl watches a movie about the publisher’s time in a nursing home, the goat-herder’s religion is based on the girl’s “revelation.”  To Rachel’s point above, it actually is a clear representation of things we leave behind us, marks on the world, that have nothing to do with children.  A positive, but in the end much more a Babel than a Crash in terms of weaving stories together and making them necessary to each other.

So for me, this movie is better in the 6-minute version than the 136-minute version.  The long trailer captured many of the most beautiful scenes and most of the best lines.  It hinted at an idea that was really never explored more deeply in the film than it was there in the trailer, and thus done better with the brevity that allows your own imagination room to breathe.

I’m not saying this movie was a bomb.  It wasn’t terrible.  It had a lot of redeeming qualities.  But for all the glitz on its surface, its heart was made of tin, not gold, and so I have to come down solidly on the ground, having been let down, after all.

Examining the Big Screen Adaptation of Life of Pi

Having read The Life of Pi by Yann Martel, in my high school AP english class, I was weary of a movie adaptation from the beginning. Call me cynical but every book I really loved seems to be drastically different when adapted for the big screen. (Yes, I can admit that not all adaptation are bad they are just different.) I have literally spent hours dissecting the novel with my fellow AP english peers (I say this as I thumb through my overly highlighted and marked up 5 year old copy from class) and I could probably spend hours examining the film once it is released but lets just start with what we do know.

If you haven’t read the novel or know about the film, it follows the character Pi Patel in the events of his life including leading up to and becoming stranded in the Pacific Ocean in a lifeboat with a tiger named Richard Parker.

Beginning with the characters, we have two that are essential to the plot: Pi and Richard Parker.

Piscine Molitor Patel

Pi is a 16-year-old son of a zookeeper in Pondicherry at the start of the novel. When the family decides to move themselves and the zoo to Canada, disaster strikes as the boat sinks and Pi begins his 227-day experience in open water with a tiger, a, zebra, a hyena, and an orangutan (though only Pi and the tiger survive.)

One of the vital aspects of the titular life of Pi is his religious struggle. Beginning early in his life, he has trouble sticking with one religion. He finds solace and understanding in Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam, wondering why he can’t be all three religion.

“If there’s only one nation in the sky, shouldn’t all passports be valid for it?”

Pi’s religious devotion is mentioned throughout the novel but not always in an upfront manner. The use of color is very important within the setting on the novel from the very beginning. Noticing the use of blues, oranges, and greens, gives clues of to where Pi is religiously during major scenes. Whether this will be utilized within the movie is a different question. We know we have the tiger, Richard Parker, which represents his hindu faith, always there. Also the ocean and the sky, blue, and representative of his relationship with Christianity, encompassing him and keeping him afloat even in the most dire of moments in life. Lastly, there is the floating island of green, representing his interest in Islam. Will this be shown? Will this be the safe haven that allows him to survive the ordeal as it is in the novel both figuratively and literally?

Richard Parker

Richard Parker is a Bengal tiger that coexists with Pi in the lifeboat for 227 days lost at sea. As I mentioned before, Richard Parker represents a lot of things in the life of Pi (see what I did there?) My main worry is that we will see him as nothing more than a fucking tiger in a lifeboat.

“There are many examples of animals coming to surprising living arrangements…where an animal takes a human being or another animal to be one of its kind.”

Will they delve into the actual makeshift friendship that occurs on the lifeboat between Pi and Richard Parker? Their relationship goes deeper than mere coexistance. Richard Parker is a stabilizing force both physically, but also emotionally and religiously. Without him there, Pi would not have survived, which leads into the ending.

::::Book Spoilers Ahead::::

The Ending

Did it really happen? When the police and press come investigate Pi and his survival, they listen to his story but when questioned deeper he gives them a much deeper and darker story. A story that involves no animals, no Richard Parker, but only death and despair for 227 days. Pi leaves the audience, the police, and the press wondering which story was the true one.

Will the movie portray this alternative ending? Will it even be mentioned? It is important because you have to remember Pi, all in all, is still a child who could be capable of creating the fantastical story to mask the greater trauma he experienced, though we will never know for sure. However, given Hollywood’s penchant for focusing on the extraordinary aspects of a story while overlooking the original plot/actions/scenes, we can bet that something important will be left out.

“The world isn’t just the way it is. It’s how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no? Doesn’t that make life a story?”

You can see a clip from the film starring Sharma, Adil Hussain, Irrfan Khan and Gérard Depardieu below: Life of Pi hits theaters November 21.

Scarface and Assumptive In Love Heat – A Look At CW’s Beauty and the Beast

Lionman Scarface and Shoulderpads Assumptive In Love Heat

AKA, Beauty and the Beast on the CW

Elena-

Boy, where to start with this piece of work.

Actually let’s start with me.  I love fairy tales, and I love fairy tale reworkings.  “Beauty and the Beast” was always a particular favorite of mine, probably because it dealt in consequences—everything that happened to the characters was a direct result of something they did.  They don’t suffer misfortune, they suffer karma, and that idea has always resonated with me.  Learning to take responsibility for one’s own actions and their consequences is effing hard, which is why some people have to get turned into a beast in order to appreciate that lesson.

Rachel –

I like fairy tales when they are as weird as possible. Turn them into cartoon musicals with anthropomorphic wall clocks? Gold. Reinterpret with Ron Perlman dressed as Lion-O in an 80’s hair band? THE BEST AND PUREST OF GOLDS. CW had a few choices to make when they decided to re-make George R. R. Martin’s (yeah…let that process for a bit) Beauty and the Beast, which ran from 1987-1989 on CBS. Let’s just say they haven’t impressed me with their choices thus far.

What I liked about the original (which I have dubbed Lionman and Shoulderpads in Love) was Vincent’s physical inability to be anything other than a Lionman. Sure, Catherine fell in love with him and learned to see into his heart and beyond his (totally hot) scary Lionface cleft lip, but there wasn’t any cure or magical potion that would turn Vincent into Ron Perlman.  That is what made that show so addictive. Watching those two interact with each other around the apparently insurmountable species sexual incompatibility was addictive and cheesy. OK, mostly cheesy, but yelling at Linda Hamilton about how she’s just being a prude because hot lionman sex is something she should TOTALLY go for (your mom watches this show…haaa) is pretty much the best viewing experience ever. *

Anyway, it seems like the CW has gone the absolute opposite direction. The new Vincent is not beastly at all in appearance. The tiny scratch on his face is LAUGHABLE. The Beast is on the inside, and that is just boring. BORING BORING BORING. That is all the ex-boyfriends any of us ever had! I AM SERIOUSLY UNIMPRESSED, CW. There better be something else going on, like Catherine’s utter lack of likability being because she is the Beast in this version. That would be interesting.

But then there’s the plot…

Elena-

Oh, you mean, the “plot.”  This storyline?  Not so much about actions and consequences. Not at all about that, in fact.  All these characters are complete reactionaries.  Something happens to them, and they react to it.  Unless there is a complicated backstory to be revealed later, the “detective” did nothing in her past that caused her mother’s murder, just like there is nothing in the beast’s choices that showed why he deserved to become a monster on the outside. Yes, the events that follow from those two life-altering moments are connected, but they are a string of events that derive from things that were done to the characters, not from some choice the characters made for themselves.

Just in the basic set-up, therefore, this fails as a reworking of the fairy tale.

But it fails in other ways, too.  First of all, the beast is way too studly to make a believable beast, as Rachel pointed out.  Even when he gets mad and kills things he just looks like manbearpig, and the rest of the time he looks like a tittybaby for being all emo about his one little scar. Wah, wah, wah.  Go tell it to the one-legged man, so he can hump it on down the road.  It’s no wonder she’s all, “Who WAS that hot beast that saved me in the woods?  Oh, it’s you! Let’s bone.”

Rachel-

Can we also talk about how far-fetched it is that a super-hot and well-educated doctor guy who joins the army after his brother is killed in the 9/11 attacks (seriously, CW…WTF is WRONG WITH YOU?) would then be chosen for a super-secret Gamma Ray project in the first place? One of my favorite parts of the story is that Vincent the former Doctor, when asked what was done to him…has no idea. BUT YOU ARE A DOCTOR. Did they put the gamma rays up your butt? Was it a pill you swallowed? Did a withered old lady shove a rose in your face and cackle? YOU HAVE TO HAVE SOME IDEA!

Elena-

Exactly.  It would have made more sense if he had done it to himself, you know, performing illegal medical research. At least that way it would have been his choice and his consequences, instead of being victimized and hunted by these evil government agents. Yawn.

Rachel-

The script is so poorly written that the cliché lines “Needs a new decorator,” “Do you know what the definition of insanity is?” and “We are going to save each other!” ARE THE BEAST LINES. It’s like the writers let Yahoo! Answers write the script!

Elena-

I want to go back to the theory Rachel posed above, that maybe this entire show is a switcheroo and she is the beast, hence why he doesn’t need to be beastly.  This idea makes so much sense to me that I hope it’s true, even though I think it might be unintentional.

See, her character seems like a pretty standard female lead, hence why I think her beastliness was not intentional…but she really set off a lot of my civil rights bells.  She’s either totally corrupt or totally incompetent as an officer of the law, and either we are supposed to accept this because she’s like all cops or we’re supposed to admire her as the main character and overlook her flaws (like so much urban fantasy asks us to overlook completely bullying behaviors by the heroines, because that sort of thing is okay when you are 5 feet tall and 98 pounds). Sorry, no.  Let’s look at a checklist from one episode of Detective Catherine behaving badly:

  • She doesn’t enforce laws impartially, but according to her own whims (arrest the guy who just dumped me, he has pot)
  • She uses her authority as an officer of the law to trespass by lying about having a warrant (oh, hai hot doctor beast, I just knew you were in here after my first legitimate visit…guess I smelled your hot beastly pheromones or something)
  • She steals evidence from a suspect’s property without a warrant or permission or proper forensic documentation (beauty sample log)
  • She leaks information about an ongoing investigation to someone outside her department and steals evidence to release to someone outside her department (secret subway meeting with…CIA? friend).
  • She happily goes along with it when her friend steals evidence that implicates her and no doubt erases the log entry for it.

…this is our model cop heroine?  Frailty, thy name is Catherine, indeed.

Look, I apologize for getting so serious, but it’s a topic that really matters to me, and I get up in arms every time I see a positive portrayal of cops behaving badly. That means people see the actions and don’t realize what the behavior is or write it off because she’s “really the good guy and not hurting anyone,” which makes it more likely that people will tolerate such behavior from public officials in real life…which is how innocent people end up imprisoned, bankrupted by asset forfeiture despite never being convicted of a crime, or on death row.  What this show needs is Judge Dredd (or even just Rookie Anderson), clearly.

Anyway.  I didn’t like her, found her to be vacuous and self-serving, and corrupt on a small scale that could grow exponentially because the only moral calibration she seems to make is whether following a law or protocol makes her feel good and acting according to her own emotions.  The Law is above that!  (Can you all see the annoyed Judge face I am making right now?  Can you picture it?)

Rachel-

Yeaaaah, she’s lame. She’s too young to be a detective, and she has this super false way of speaking like every word in the script is a revelation to her brain. I’ll blame that on a combination of writing, directing, and acting. It’s like when Christian Bale went for the Batvoice and no one stopped him. Lana Lang decided to try a phone sex operator voice. It doesn’t work. Catherine also seems extremely physically capable. She throws three grown men around on a subway platform without mussing her hair. It’s the Buffy-effect maybe. Or maybe they did that because the writers wanted a strong female character that wouldn’t need constant saving from Vincent…even though she does actually need constant saving from Vincent. I like that they didn’t go the rape route like the original did (It was a “violent attack” with a sexual assault implication). I’m so sick of female protagonists in fantasy stories being raped. I’M SO SICK OF IT. So points to CW for leaving that the hell off the table.

I’m worried this show is going to turn into the capable girl gets all lame and helpless around her boyfriend and then when he hits her (it is INEVITABLE that he hits her, guys, accept it. He even screamed in her face that he would) becomes really dependent and apologetic a la Bella Swan. PLEASE DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN.

Elena-

It’s funny you bring up Bella Swan, everyone’s favorite robot bride impersonator, because I got very little sense of him except that he’s basically Edward Cullen.  Creepy stalker protector with a saving people complex and a self-loathing hatred of the monster within.  Got it.  I had trouble believing his claim of being imprisoned there for fear of getting caught.  He could totally be wandering around New York without attracting attention because he’s not a beast except when he’s upset (maybe he just gets really terrible sidewalk rage?).  Everyone thinks he’s dead.  Stay away from the military recruiting centers and the UN, and you’ll never run into anyone you shouldn’t.  No need to stay in the rusty, filthy post-industrial loft unless you just LIKE being emo and tragic and broody (cough *Edward Cullen * cough).

(Speaking of his rusty filthy post-industrial loft with the crazy science experiments being run by his biochemist friend to try and cure him…LAMEST MAGIC CASTLE EVER.  That is all.)

Rachel-

I miss the mist-filled NYC sewers full of libraries and homeless people in Renn Faire gear.

Elena-

Me too, and I didn’t even watch the original!

So let’s sum this one up:  the fight scene was pretty bad, the dialogue was terrible, the plot was thin, and the murder investigation seemed tacked on. She should be something besides law enforcement, because then they wouldn’t have to do a murder of the week thing—news flash, Castle already has the market on the buddy-cop/we want to get nas-tay show.

I will confess that, for some reason I can’t explain, the last scene made me want to watch next week, just to see if some of these issues were pilot shakes.  I think I’m a sucker for dudes who stand on top of buildings and stare torturedly into the night inwardly screaming about fairness and true love.  But I don’t hold out much hope for redemption.

Rachel-

I might actually check it out next week just to see what the show looks like when it’s not a network executive-pleasing pilot. I highly doubt that Catherine will turn out to be the beastly half of this pairing (even though it would be AWESOME) just because the manbearpig has already flashed its CGI face to the audience. Maybe the CW will surprise me. I thoroughly enjoy The Vampire Diaries (yes, that’s right, I have eyeballs and ovaries. Sue me.), and they’ve done a lot to that show to make it genre subversive.

If not – may I suggest ABC’s Once Upon a Time. Another horrifyingly bad show with questionable costumes and a Beast who is oddly hot despite his moss-covered teeth.

ENJOY.

* Yes, Catherine has Vincent’s Lioncubbaby but that was only because she quit and the writers had to kill her off and still maintain a connection with the last two seasons. It’s the worst only because they never show them MAKING THE DAMN BABY. Which is all we ever wanted.

Dredd Is The Perfect Blockbuster To Close The Summer – Review

Directed by Pete Travis

Based on 2000 AD‘s character of Judge Joe Dredd

Why are you interested in this adaptation?

Elena-

I…am not?  Can I admit that in a column about going to see a film?

I’ll be honest here, when Rachel said she wanted to see this movie I thought she was joking.  Then she demanded it in exchange for Lawless and I knew she wasn’t.

It looks terrible. Derivative, mindless dystopian action flick with the requisite battle-hardened commander who has to learn to believe in his troops and rookie girl who will be the only one of the team to survive.

Also the premise is a blatant rip-off of The Raid: Redemption, in that it’s a small group of soldiers going into a building full of criminals that gets locked down until they either fight their way to the top, and out, or die trying.

I will be generous and say some of the effects look like they could be interesting, but I will have to see how they are played out in the wider context of the scene.  Let’s hope this one is better than I think it will be.

Rachel –

I’m interested in Dredd because IT IS THE LAW!

Okay, because it’s a comic. A long-lived, crazy, sometimes brilliant comic that examines and critiques modern ideas of law and justice in the most hyperbolic way imaginable. In a way that could only be done via comic book (and now that the world accepts them…comic book movies). Plus, anything to get the Stallone version out of my consciousness.

What would make it awesome?

Elena-

If it’s got as much absolute badass action as The Raid: Redemption and as little concern for the plot and characterization.  Seriously, that film managed to set up in about 2 minutes the rest of the movie, and while it did manage to make you care a little about a couple of the characters—and learn not to care about others—mostly it was about how many different kinds of badass fights they could fit into 87 minutes.

Alternatively, if the filming is really interesting and shows me something I haven’t seen before with slow motion effects or relies on film technique instead of CG, then I will probably not feel like the whole thing was a waste of my time.  That is as close to awesome as I expect this one to reach barring some amazingly creative fight scenes.

Rachel-

Judge Joe Dredd IS awesome. This movie will be awesome if they just…let him kill bad guys and be really grim. I’m hoping it’s not a rehash of the super dramatic (and used for fodder in the Stallone version ((sobs))) storyline about Joe’s brother Rico being BAAAAD. I haven’t seen that in the trailer, mostly I’ve seen a set up for a Rookie and Dredd party. I’m okay with that.

What would make it suck? 

Elena-

If this movie tries to focus on a story that turns out to be cliché, predictable, and something SF fans have seen done better elsewhere.  There is nothing wrong with being a pure action movie; that is, a movie of pure action.  As long as you recognize that’s what you’re making and commit to it, the results can even be objectively good.  But you have to commit to that.  Alternatively you have to build a really compelling story and characters and sacrifice some of your action.  If you try that, and fail, it’s going to suck.  Actually if you try for straight action and fail it will also suck.

I really hope the people who made this movie watched Shoot ’Em Up and Sukiyaki Western Django a few dozen times before they started filming….

Rachel-

Aside – I don’t know what Sukiyaki Western Django is…but I assume it was extremely important to Tarantino’s latest Django Unchained…and that makes me want to watch it because I love me some Tarantino but I like to be able to watch his movies AND get the references. So put that on my list. Where does one acquire it?

Elena-

Actually it has nothing to do with Django Unchained, although it is a film Tarantino was connected to. But you would love it—lots of crazy, choreographed, over-the-top action. So Netflix it anyway.

Ahem.  Carry on.

Rachel-

Back to the question at hand – It’s going to suck if it’s too fluffy. If it’s one of those boring, plodding, predictable action movies. BUT I would love if this were a straight up action movie. Robocop is coming out, the Expendables franchise is a clear nod to the 80s/early 90s action movie golden age, so if it’s a liiiitttle cheesy 80s action grind, that would be fine.

Additional thoughts on production or casting?

Elena-

Well, it has been a while since I watched a good bad movie. I’m kind of hoping that even if this one is shit, it’s at least the kind of awful that is super-fun to mock.

Rachel-

EOMERRRRR! I love me some Karl Urban. That guy loves a role in which he is utterly unrecognizable. Remember his part in The Chronicles of Riddick? With the Snape-punk hair-do and the 40 pounds of armor? Plus he’s got a sexy voice. And when it comes down to it…Dredd is going to be all about an actor comfortable in armor with a sexy voice. DONE, MR. URBAN. DONE AND DONE.

Reaction to film?

Elena-

I have to eat my words on this one. Dredd was actually really enjoyable. Legitimately good, if you are down with retro sci-fi dystopian action, which I am.  I think the preview for this movie was terrible—it made it seem cliché but unaware of its triteness, whereas this was obviously a throwback movie.

What it reminded me of in tone and approach was Doomsday.  I loved that movie.  It was obviously derived from Mad Max, but it took pride in getting the small things right (since everyone knew the big idea going in).  Dredd pulled off a similar feat, treading familiar ground in a way that was pure existential enjoyment.  After seeing it I do think there was a connection to The Raid: Redemption…as with Hunger Games and Battle Royale, there was just one scene too many that was staged the same way for me to think this was convergent creativity.  But Dredd could have done much worse for inspiration—for example, the original Judge Dredd movie.

So what did this movie do especially right?

First, I loved the slow motion scenes.  I expected them to be kind of lame (I mean, “slow-motion lame” is not a saying for nothing), but instead they were a visual treat.  I did not see the movie in 3D, so I can’t speak to how the scenes of water or shattering glass looked through the glasses, but I thought they were quite beautiful in digital 2D. I have not seen very much digitally enhanced slow motion like this, with such a focus on the small things.  Those scenes were really quite fantastic.

Another bonus was that they left Dredd an inscrutable badass (Badass Alert!) and let the rookie be the character you sympathized with and got a backstory on.  The truth is, whatever drove Dredd to become what he is will diminish him as a character.  Does anyone in the universe think Vader is more of a badass now that we know his story?  Fuck no.  Dredd is the same kind of figure.  If you know the human emotion or loss or anguish that drove him to become the best and most honorable judge in the mega-city, he will seem kind of pathetic for not being able to get over it and move on with his life.

I enjoyed Lena Headey in the role of head gangster bitch in charge.  If I had seen her in this before starting GOT I might have been less skeptical of her as Cersei.

I liked the ending.  It was not what I expected—minor spoiler, I expected a huge fight the way martial arts movies build up to, and the final conflict was not that—but it was a satisfying climax.

I really don’t have a lot of complaints about the movie.  I’m sure I could find plot holes, but I walked out disinclined to dwell on them.  Judge Joe Dredd took me out and showed me a good time and never pretended like he was going to be more than a quick and dirty fling.  There’s a time and place for that kind of film, and this was mine.

Rachel-

“MOMMY I WANNA BE A JUDGE JUST LIKE DREDD!” I screamed the moment the film was over. And then went home to practice my frowney-face.  What do ya think?

For swears. That flick was awesome! And yes, it was a straight up action movie. For those of you unfamiliar with the comic, don’t worry. You will not be required to know any of the story-line or characters. All you need to know is what you are presented with, and you will enjoy yourselves. It’s a hyper-violent, live-action video game of a movie. It’s funny in parts but not silly. I defy you to watch it and not think Dredd is the coolest dude in the universe and to wish for a sequel so you can get to know him better. It’s the perfect adaptation. It totally stands on its own, it’s true to the feel and characterizations of the comic for fans, and it allows for the adaptation of more complicated storylines should the movie be a hit.

For a Dredd fan the movie is pretty perfect. It was SOOO Judge Dredd! It wasn’t a direct adaptation of any Dredd story-line I know of. It was more like “Here’s a day in the life of Judge Dredd.” Perhaps a direct adaptation of the CHARACTER of Dredd. Someone on Twitter said that they liked Dredd more than The Dark Knight Rises, and I think the reason for that is that Dredd felt like the character from the comic book, while TDKR didn’t really feel like Batman. Not really. I’ve read that the original scripts were populated with all the robots and villains from the comic but that they ended up being a bit surreal and hard to introduce to a new audience quickly. This approach is smart. Most of the people I know have no idea who Judge Dredd is and establishing this character, who he is when he isn’t in some dramatic story arc, is the best way to start what I assume the studio hopes will be a franchise. Reviews are good for the film, though the box office gross was disappointing in its opening weekend. The franchise idea may be killed, but at least we’re left with a film that stands on its own.

Dredd does a lot of showing instead of telling. What do Judges do in Mega-City One? They are police. Police that can arrest, sentence and carry out that sentence all in one go. They have rules. They have standards of procedure. They even go through training to find out if they have what it takes to be a Judge. This may be post-apocalypse, but by God order will be restored via the Law. This is where they introduce Judge Anderson (a character from the comics) as a Rookie who is shadowing Dredd for the day in a field test to see if she can rise above her substandard test scores. Off they go to a mega block 200-storey complex. A buildng so large residents can live and work inside of it for their entire lives. The particular mega block they are called to has been taken over by a gang run by a woman named Ma-ma who is flooding Mega-City One with a unique drug called slo-mo. Their drug is in high demand, so Ma-ma and her gang have a lot of fire power. Once Dredd assesses the situation, he decides to go get Ma-ma for sentencing, and our movie commences.

The plot is pretty simple, and you won’t see Dredd go through any revelations about himself or what it means to be a Judge. That’s the Rookie’s job. In fact in an interview in Empire writer Alex Garland talks about how slowly the character of Dredd changes over time that he evolves “in the way that a glacier moves: you look a year later and something actually has shifted! I tried to be true to that.” Even the structure of the film itself reflects the unyielding, unbreakable march of Judge Dredd. The action comes fast and hard.

There ARE a few low spots in the film. I was hoping Judge Anderson’s psychic abilities would be integral to the plot (considering the character eventually heads up her own title), but I see that the writers wanted to keep the focus on Dredd. He is the hero of this story. Lena Heady, who I thought would be fantastic as the psychopath drug lord Ma-ma, was actually a letdown. I do not find her to be a particularly subtle actress, and Heady chose to play Ma-ma quietly, to let her malice exist in her silence and slow movements—but she just kind of came off as sleepy.

Elena-

I disagree…I thought she came off as drugged-out and yet still malicious enough to slaughter people.  None of her henchmen seemed like they were using, so the fact that she was became a testament to her badassery and why she was running the gangs and the building.

Rachel-

The design for the film is pretty great. They made the Judge Uniform cool but didn’t adhere so slavishly to the comic designs as to appear…well…hilarious (see the Stallone version if you don’t believe me). The weapons were cool, the helmet was plausible, and the ghetto interiors of the mega blocks were claustrophobic. Dredd was shot in Cape Town, South Africa, and it actually LOOKS hot and sweaty even in the interiors.

Besides the faithful adaptation of character and intent, Dredd is amazingly violent, but the violence is so over the top that it’s not disturbing. The script plays with the idea of justice, it’s not totally mindless, but the over the top violence was more action movie and less horrifying shit I never want to see again. Just the way I like it.

The perfect kind of action blockbuster to close out the summer. I hope you like it too. Embrace the LAW!

Dexter “Are You…?” 7.01 – Review

After witnessing her brother kill Travis Marshall, Debra attempts to reconcile with Dexter while struggling to cover up their involvement with the murder. Meanwhile, Detective Mike Anderson has an unfortunate run-in, Quinn and Batista begin to make amends, and LaGuerta finds evidence that causes her to re-think the closed Bay Harbor Butcher case.

Dexter is back and now he must face his greatest challange…his own sister. Last season Dexter was caught in the act of killing Travis Marshall by his own sister Debra. At first Dexter is able to convince his sister that all is not what its seems and she even helps him cover up the crime scene. Debra begins to deal with her discovery and past events and she begins to link them with her brother. She soon begins a journey into discovering who her brother really is and it is confirmed by Dexter verbally, when she confronts him. The pressure begins to build for our favorite serial killer and it erupts in a most messy kill at the airport. Many questions loom for Dexter this season and the most prominent is…How will the Morgan siblings survive this change?

I am a huge fan of both the Dexter books and television series and I find it great that they differ in many ways. It allows me to enjoy both and keeps me on my toes as I look to where both lines of fiction intercede. The writers of Dexter have done a fantastic job of keeping the series both interesting and thrilling at the same time. We all know Dexter has to get away in order for there to be a new season, it is how he does it that keeps us tuning in. Each year the noose has gotten tighter and Dexter has managed to just miss discovery by those he holds most dear, but that has now changed. Will he be able to keep the fragile life he has built, now that all has come undone?

Michael Hall does a great performance every season and I suspect this season will be his finest. There is some much that will unfurl this season and I cannot wait till next Sunday for my next installment of Dexter. If you truly enjoy the show, I would recommend that you pick up the books it is based upon. They are : Darkly Dreaming Dexter (2004), Dearly Devoted Dexter (2005), Dexter in the Dark (2007), Dexter by Design (2009), Dexter Is Delicious (2010), Double Dexter (2011), by the author Jeff Linsay.

All right Dexter fans…see you next week for another bloody episode.