October 31, 2011

Singing, And Plants.

Today is a day of WeenHallow. It is also a day where I work for like hours and stuff. THE TERROR OF WORKING YOUR JOB ooooOOOOOOOooooooh!
In any case, I’m going to be busy and shit. You know how it is. I guess I don’t really have anything particularly Halloweenesque to talk about. I talked about the party last time. What to do?

Well, I did watch Little Shop of Horrors.

During the party, Essner had some Halloween Pandora station running, and it played some music from the musical. Clicking through Amazon Prime Instant Videos the next day, I saw it on there, shrugged, and watched it while I cooked a meal and then ate said meal, and I enjoyed it.

I had thought I had seen this movie before. I mean, I was really sure I had. But it was obvious, as I watched it, that I hadn’t. There were just lots of moments that I really didn’t recall, and whole songs which I had no memory of. Surely I would have remembered “Mean Green Mother from Outer Space” if I had heard it before, right? It was really a fun little movie, and I’m glad I did see it.

I spent most of my time watching doing two things, though: attempting to figure out how you’d set this on an actual stage, and marveling at the weird collection of famous people in the film.

Seriously, this is a show that’s done a lot in smaller theaters, with smaller casts, but I spent a lot of the film attempting to picture how you’d do a decent Audrey II in the sort of budgets that those sorts of things would allow. Obviously, the movie had some super serious puppeteering because it’s a movie, but you’d have to have some level of that, no matter what. Would you have someone standing inside Audrey II the entire time, working the mouth? That would be a completely terrible job to have. I guess you wouldn’t have working vines? I don’t know how you’d make that happen, but that’s really a big part of Audrey II having a personality, and being able to gesture. It also seems like he’d be such a big set piece and so elaborate that it would be nearly impossible to get him off stage for scene changes. Surely someone smarter than me has figured this out, but I was spending a lot of the time wondering.

The other thing is, goodness, there were some odd faces in there. There was a young Christopher Guest there near the beginning that I didn’t even recognize at first. Crazy. Steve Martin had a huge role that, once again, I didn’t even remember as part of the film, which just goes to show how much I was wrong about having seen it before. Then Bill Murray is just in there as a masochist for like… no reason at all. Just because Bill Murray is awesome. So he’s there. How cool is that? For some reason John Candy didn’t strike me as shocking as those. It was just a weird point in most of their careers to be in this film.

Anyway, I enjoyed. That was my random, vaguely horror-related movie of the time period. Now back to work! Work work work. Happy fear and candy day.

October 8, 2011

He Is Good At Swallowing Pills Without Water!

We bought my mother a Blu-Ray player for her birthday, so she could play a Blu-ray or two. We thought we’d give it a test drive! So a movie was rented. It was called Limitless.

It was pretty alright.

The whole movie is based on what seems to be a plot hole. Mr. Main Character, Eddie, ends up with all these pills. They are magic brain-improving pills. They come from a shady drug dealer man.
But really, though, there were a lot of those pills. Part of the plot seems to revolve around many successful people taking these pills. There had to be some huge something behind the making of these things: hell, at the end of the movie, it basically says as such. I just have trouble believing that nobody from that organization would step in the moment Eddie starts becoming a crazy overnight success. They would have tried to get him under their control, and they don’t. They apparently don’t give a shit what happens to their very precious resource after it falls out of their hands. That just seems weird to me, especially since they could be taking it, and thus have intense plans and whatnot.

If you let that sort of thing out of your mind and just enjoy it, though, it’s a pretty fun film! Seeing the kind of power the pill gives makes you want that sort of power, and seeing what kind of trouble it can get you into makes you not want that kind of power. Eddie is not unlikable, but he’s not really a complete hero either. It’s interesting in that regard. He doesn’t deserve to die, perse, but you don’t necessarily want him to succeed in what he’s doing because in a way, he hasn’t earned it. He’s abusing it to manipulate sex out of women, and so many other things that seem not okay. Yet, somehow, the movie works. I’m not sure how the writing pulled that off. Maybe it’s because the movie sets up, from the beginning, that he is going to get his comeuppance for what he’s doing. The ending removes that, though, so I dunno.

I really feel like the trailer misrepresented this film, though. It made it seem like it would be little guy vs Robert DeNiro, from what I recall. That was really not the case at all, though DeNiro did a fine job. I also expected a bit more action. There were a few chase and fight sequences, but it was mostly a lot of talking and inner monologue. It’s mostly a talking movie, with a few action-y bits. But not in the way that, I dunno, Inglourious Basterds is a talky movie?

It’s a strange film. If the premise is interesting to you, you will probably enjoy it. I did enjoy it, but looking back, it’s just such a weird mish-mash of stuff that I’m not sure how it worked as a full movie film. I’d probably have to watch it again to figure it out, and it wasn’t THAT good. But eh, it was an interesting distraction. The parents didn’t seem to hate it. That’s about all I asked from the movie.

September 22, 2011

Layers And Things Of Importance, Hidden Somewhere.

I’m writing this while my students take a test! While I can’t see my list of blog topics, I know one SUPER OLD ONE on the list is The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, so let’s see if I can’t make a blog post out of that while I’m here.

Many of the tabletop RPGs that I enjoy list a roleplaying game based on this movie, by the same name, as a huge influence. Thus, it made me interested in what the movie actually was. When I was visiting Brer (man, that seems forever ago now…) we saw the movie in the movie rental place. He had seen it, and thought I’d enjoy it, so we gave it a rent and a watch.

Man, that sure is a Terry Gillam movie, isn’t it?

Munchausen seemed like it was trying to do quite a lot of things that I completely and utterly agree with. It was trying to create crazy stupid layers of show within a show, story within a story, which let the entire reality of what was going on be incredibly flexible. Of course, sometimes that bending of reality was used to have a floating Robin Williams head be annoying, but, you know. I was actually surprised that the movie gave up on the show within a show as fast as it did, but it seemed to do so only to highlight that the movie itself was a show, and it was inside of it. Eventually you get to the point where the Baron is going around, and you get flashbacks to a realistic battle that he is supposedly trying to stop by gathering his old team of super-powerful dudes once again. You have these moments of seeing the world as real, and seeing what would be happening if the Baron were actually doing these things. Then you flip back to fantasy, with him having tea with Vulcan or whatever. It’s… it’s bold, especially when he does somehow save the day in this fantasy world, and then dies, and nobody has the fantasy to bring him back.

There’s also some level of “modern progress ends the old ways” about the film. The fantastic adventures were before science was really a huge thing, and you feel the analitical world crushing the Baron and what he does, which is probably what ultimately ends him. He dies not in a dramatic way, but from a sniper shot via hired assassin. By that new modern world. There’s something there, too.

It’s a movie that, overall, feels like it’s trying to make a point, and be fun while doing it. However, I just don’t feel like it completely works. It just didn’t seem to get the “fun romp” right, and instead tended to just be really weird. I never really got a good sense of it and what I should be making of it. Clearly, this is filtered through having watched it some time ago, but I just don’t remember it as fondly as one would hope. It’s an experience I’m glad I had, certainly, as I was wondering about it. But yeah. I can really see why it was kind of a flop. I’m just glad it existed to spawn the kind of games I am totally into.

August 20, 2011

I Pronounce His Name The Talkshow Host Way

I fell asleep during Conan.

I feel old.

Then again, I did go see it really the fuck late and night, and Molly woke me up at like 7 in the morning so it’s not like I slept much. But yeah, I saw Conan, which was quite a change of pace from the large amounts of My Little Pony Fanart I was looking at before I left for the film. There was a lot of bloods and there were many decapitations. There were also tits, but for better or worse, those were in some of the fanart, so it wasn’t that much of a change of pace in that regard.

Anyway, enough ponies while talking about Conan.
I feel like this is a hard movie for me to really give a good whatever about, not just because I dozed off. It was just so violent and so predictable, but at the same time, that sort of thing is what one would seem to be coming to see a Conan movie for. It’s certainly what Cara was coming for. She said it had all the boy eye candy and murder that she was hoping for, so good for her! I’m glad she liked it.

Seriously, though, it was pretty intense on the violence front. I can’t remember the last movie I watched that was so brutal directly. Guys had their heads smashed in on concrete in full view. You get to see lots of decapitated heads with nice entrails and shit. There were certainly a few times where I flinched away from the screen because of the violence level.

But yeah, plotwise, nothing unexpected happens. Conan’s father needs avenging. Conan ends up doing it, but first he accidentally ends up teaming up with a pretty lady type person to do it, who then gets captured, and you know. All that stuff. I couldn’t help but think about Glistening Chests while I watched, either. A personal holdup, sure.

The one thing I will mention that I was really impressed with is that the movie made damn sure to get those book cover painted vistas in there. To the point where they looked painted and obviously green-screened, but still. Certainly set the tone right, you know?

Anyway, yeah. It was an odd experience for me. Not a bad one, perse? But I certainly didn’t feel any connection to anyone in the movie. It seemed to offer up all the right visuals, but I wouldn’t call it a great film. Still, if you like Conan, I bet you’d like it. It would be fun. I think. This has been a terrible review, all infested with ponies.

P.S., Ponies.

August 11, 2011

I Post At The Close

After Brer totally didn’t take me to see it, I was afraid I wouldn’t see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 in theaters. This bothered me, as I’d seen all the others in theaters. Finally, it came down to Monday. I had the day off, no game in from Gamefly… I had nothing to do. I envisioned myself alone all day, eaten up by depression. Fuck that, I said! So I asked Cara to go with me to the movie, and she said yes, and then I had something to do to distract me AND I got to see all the Harry Potter movies in theaters! It all works out.

I think I have more to say around the movie than about the movie itself, though. We saw the Sherlock Homes: A Game of Shadows trailer, which looks fantastic. (I really liked the direction they took Holmes in the last movie, okay?) Glad to finally see that. I used the crazy-ass Candy Dispensing Machine just to see what it would do. Oddly enough, it dispensed candy. This allowed me to have some Shockers, which I hadn’t had in awhile. Shockers are still quite good candy, in case you were wondering.

I also just couldn’t get over what Overthinking It said about Harry Potter. I normally totally agree with those guys, but they said, in one of the podcasts of theirs I was catching up on, that Harry Potter is a “fully realized world.” Harry Potter is a lot of fun in a lot of ways, but let’s be honest: that’s one of the books biggest problems. It’s obvious she made up this world as she went along. It isn’t a cohesive whole in any way whatsoever. They then broke into a discussion about how it just SEEMS like a complete world, but has a lot of vagueness in it, which I might buy more, but it still felt a stretch.

But yeah, there was a movie I watched. It was fun. The fact that all the good parts of the wasteland that is book 7 were in this movie really helped things out. Of course, there were some dumb things. I don’t know if this was pulled from the book or not, it’s been to long, but using “The lightning has struck” as a code phrase for Harry Potter arriving is beyond stupid. That’s way the fuck too obvious. No wonder Death Eaters were breaking down their door immediately. And, of course, the epilogue was as stupid as it ever was. But you can’t say the movie didn’t want to please. It constantly kept things moving, and kept things very action-packed. It didn’t waste time explaining a lot of backstory, assuming that viewers would already know it, or that it’s so nonsensical anyway that they’d be better off just not knowing the details. Frankly, that’s just fine with me. There’s just a throwaway line or two about all the Elder Wand bullshit, and that’s enough.

There’s just really not much to say. It was a fitting end that used the source material well. Seeing all the fighting at Hogwarts was awesome. Of course it was. It’s not like they’re going to come this far and not give us some badass visuals for all that. I didn’t leave all “Wow, that was a really good film” like I did with the sixth film. But I was satisfied. It was sad leaving all that behind again, to some extent. Of course it was. As much as I bitch about Harry Potter, and I do bitch, I am a fan, and I did enjoy the series, for serious. I’m glad I saw it. I’m glad I was there for it. There’s no surprises or unexpected high or low points in the movie. If you want to see it, you’ll see it. Probably already have. And you’ve enjoyed it. But there you go.

August 7, 2011

Also, What’s The Deal With The Hummingbird?

I saw a movie called Cowboys and Aliens. I was hoping for a film that had both cowboys, doing cowboy things, and aliens, doing alien things, within it. These groups, hopefully, would fight, causing action scenes to occur and be entertaining. That’s pretty well all I hoped for.

Luckily, it delivered just that.

If you’re going to see one dumb, fun action movie, I’d still pick Captain America, but I enjoyed Cowboys and Aliens a lot. They had some good people in there, which helped. Cast sensibly, Harrison Ford still comes off as a badass. Though it’s kind of dumb how they tried to make him seem kind of evil at the beginning, and then UH OH immediately he’s a good guy completely. Making him more of a tactician than frontline hero dude, and letting Daniel Craig do most of that, let the movie use him really well, I thought. Similarly, they let Daniel Craig do what he’s good at, be a complete stone-cold badass, and that was fun. Watching him calmly fuck people up that annoyed him was really one of the highlights of the film.
I’m not going to mention Sam Rockwell just to piss Essner off.

The plot was not completely sensible. The aliens want gold? Okay. But that doesn’t really explain too much about why they’re attacking towns and whatnot. The claim that it’s for research so they can learn human weaknesses really only makes sense for a small handful of humans. Not entire towns. Of course, if they didn’t, then nobody would be riding out to stop them, and you’d have no movie. I guess maybe they’re searching for Daniel Craig’s wristband? But if they are “underestimating” humanity, why would they believe he could use it to good effect? I mean, I guess he does. But isn’t that like… if I dropped a pistol in front of some aliens? Even if they could use the pistol, it’s not enough by itself, right? Of course, this is a movie, so it ends up being as such! But you know what I mean.

Still, what I’m doing is looking at problems in what is mostly just a fun action flick. Turn your brain off, watch cowboys shoot six-shooters at aliens, and enjoy yourself. It’s fun.

August 2, 2011

He Didn’t Yell “Charging Star!” or “Stars and Stripes!” Once!

Captain America might be the first Avenger, but he also starred in a damn good film. Essner described it well. He said they could have gone for a home run, but instead went for a solid double, and succeeded. It had action, it had comic relief, and it treated the subject matter with respect. It was a really fun movie.

One of my favorite things about the film is how much Captain America is not a super-hero. I mean, he is, and maybe they spent a little too long showing him as the scrawny non-super dude in the beginning, but in general, he’s not the one man who can solve everything. From the very beginning, he’s helped by the people he’s rescuing, and he forms a team, which is influential all the way, who really make sure he’s in the right place at the right time, and can succeed in super-heroics. He’s supported. He’s not a one-man army, he’s a super-hero supported by an elite team, and that’s why he succeeds. I can get down with that.

The movie does attempt to stray into the frankly boring “The hero must face himself WHO WILL WIN?” sort of camp, which I am really growing to hate. However, Mr. Red Skull Head is differentiated by his tech enough that that honestly didn’t bother me too much. Sure, he’s super-serumed as well, but it’s really his mastery of crazy technology that is the threat.

Really, though, the only flaw with the film is the ending. Yes, of course they’re going to set up the Avengers movie, but that ending just seemed so… well, it seemed like a teaser I should have seen at the end of the credits, not the actual end of the movie. The last line, meant to be a kind of ironic comedic moment, really came off and sounding less than genuine, something the movie hadn’t been having problems with before that point. I made a little frowny face.

But that was really the only thing I found wrong with the movie. Jonathan felt that Mr. Captain was not a character he felt invested in at all, and that that hurt the movie for him, but I just didn’t get that at all from the film. It was not trying to be the be-all, end-all of movies. It knew what it was: a fun summer action movie. That’s what it did. I really enjoyed it. It’s certainly worth seeing.

July 28, 2011

Lizard Actor Man Acts.

Rango is a really strange film. It’s one of them that I watched with Brer, and while it was certainly entertaining, I really had to question a lot of the general world concept.

I mean, okay, this is a world with humans, who live like humans do, but it’s also a world where animals can build a tiny human-like town and live like townspeople? It’s not animals with human characteristics, these are basically humans, only they’re animals of various sorts. They’re living an old west life in the modern day as well, for some reason. There are little bits of scavenged human technology, like the big water cooler bottle in the bank, but they’re also clearly making their own glass bottles and jugs. These animals are in a complete society, not a scavenged from humanity one. I guess I think too much about that stuff, but it really kind of bothered me. The setting was so weird.

The core of the story, though, was fairly interesting. You’ve got Rango, who is a lizard who, due to insanity from living in an aquarium alone for so long, has decided he is an actor. When he ends up stranded and in the town of Dirt, he puts on a role as one of the most badass cowboys who ever lived, because acting is what he does. Of course, he isn’t. Hilarity ensues! What fun! Ha ha! But yeah, actors called upon to actually be what they’re used to acting is a tried and true storytelling device, and it works well here, even if it really paints Rango as just a completely, completely insane individual. You just get the feeling that, even when he’s inspiring people and doing good, he really has no idea what he’s saying at all. He just keeps rolling with it, because that’s what he does. When he goes back to save the town in the end, thanks to a completely ridiculous plot contrivance of summoning a bunch of mobile plants to help him for some reason, he doesn’t seem like he suddenly has it together any more than he does before. At the end of the film, people still love him for his lies, and you get no indication that that is going to change. He’s still going to be the terrible law enforcement officer than he was earlier in the film. It’s just such a strange place to leave things, I guess.

The other thing that kind of stood out to me during the film was the number of “jokes for the adults” that I saw. I mean, I get that Shrek made that a thing that people do. But it’s still kind of sad that people can’t make a movie that’s interesting enough for kids AND adults, and instead have to attempt to throw in jokes that are over the children’s heads, but entertain the adults forced to watch the movie. Granted, there’s nothing wrong with Hunter S. Thompson and Clint Eastwood references, but they were just so in-your-face. Just seemed to be screaming “HERE IS A JOKE FOR YOOOOOU!” I dunno. Lame.

Overall, though, it really wasn’t that bad. I guess I mostly did complaining, but a lot of that was hindsight. While watching it, I was entertained. I have certainly seen much worse animated movies. Still, it didn’t really blow me over like people were saying it should have. I was much more surprised and entertained by, say, How To Train Your Dragon than Rango. Oh well.

June 25, 2011

I Will Admit That Green, Especially Lime Green, Is A Nice Color

Cole had this party celebrating the day of his birth, but I didn’t go. Reason one was because I had to work. Reason two was because it was taking place at a location described in the invitation as “Bro Air.” Anyway, so the day after, he invites me to go see Green Lantern, so of course I say sure. Cause, you know, birthday.

Green Lantern is not a very good film.

Basically, the movie kind of has one of the main problems with the Transformers movies: you’re watching amazing action, but it’s nonsensical. In Transformers, one CG metal blob is fighting another CG metal blob. They all look the same because of the terrible art direction. There’s no real way to tell what’s going on. Similarly, in Green Lantern, you’ve got Green Blobs being shot at Yellow Blobs. This is not interesting to watch.
Even if you found that interesting to watch, there’s maybe, what, 3 fight scenes in the whole movie? Okay, four, but one of them is a training montage. Sadly, this training montage is, by far, the most interesting combat in the film to watch. People are manifesting all kinds of crazy shit and attacking each other! This is what Green Lantern is all about! But when it comes to fight the big bad, it’s mostly just firing green blobs of energy at him, while he fires yellow lasers. Ho hum.

Outside of these situations, you have a lot of stuff that doesn’t work. Van Wilder plays Green Lantern, and he’s a dude, certainly. He tries to be charming and funny. He’s trying his best! He’s given nothing to work with, though. His character is flat, and his supporting cast is one-dimensional. What’s worse, the movie wastes so much time attempting to establish this scientist man as a likable figure, before turning him into a bad guy who does things that make no sense. So that’s fantastic. Green Lantern needs a villain to fight, but he has an amorphous blob of questionable motivation and a mutated scientist who is turning into a grotesque Professor X, and who had motivations, but basically completely forgets them after meeting Green Lantern. Awesome.

I also saw it in 3D. Every time I see a 3D movie, I wish I hadn’t. This is no exception.

This movie is attempting to be comedic and badass, and really kind of fails at both. It’s really just going through the motions. I will admit this movie taught me more about Green Lantern’s backstory than I knew before. So I guess that is indeed something. But yeah, this isn’t a movie to see. Don’t see this movie. Surely there’s something better out there to watch.

June 2, 2011

Summer Re-Education Film Series: Hot Rod

Essner had the idea that he needed to educate me on all the films, TV shows, and other such audio/visual media that I have been missing due to working, or just not seeking it out. An idea of a summer film series was created, and the first movie in this series was Hot Rod, a movie he had always talked up as being pretty hilarious. And why wouldn’t it be, really? It’s got the touch of the Lonely Island guys all over it. Surely it would be a good time!

I must admit, the film itself is pretty hilarious. It’s not perfect, but moment to moment, the laughs keep coming. Frankly, the only time the movie is not funny is when it has gotten silly to the point of making you wonder what the fuck you’re watching. I don’t have a problem with this: it isn’t a painful experience. It’s the kind of going too far I can be comfortable with. Key humor scenes involve Rod falling down the hill (the moment when Essner supposedly fell in love with the movie) and the assault of a poor man who had just had his motor home damaged by a flying Rod. Examples of when the movie got a bit too silly, but not to the point of pain was, say, the Cool Beans scene. Just a bit insane! But I suppose it works out.

The movie also does a great job with some of it’s minor characters. Will Arnet is, well, Will Arnet, so he’s fantastic. (BABY! BABY DON’T GO BABY! BABY! BABY!) Chris Parnell also makes a strong small role appearance. His work on Archer has really made me realize how fantastic he is when used correctly, as a sometimes-ridiculous-but-always-playing-it-completely-straight man, and that’s exactly what he does here to great effect. They filled those slots well.

Something about the film really reminds me of Napoleon Dynamite. I feel like this might upset Mr. Essner, as I don’t think he’s a big fan of the film. I’m not the biggest fan either (I though it was fine, but not spectacular) but there’s a similar vibe going through both. The world of odd people in a strange, not-modern-but-modern urban environment seems shared between the two films. I would not feel it out of place if both movies took place in the same town, or something along those lines. There’s also a similar level of awkward oddness attempting to be passed off as legit, serious conversation that connects the two films as well. It’s the main pool for humor in both movies. Granted, they both have their own way to pull from that pool, but it’s shared, nonetheless.

I’m very glad I finally got to see Hot Rod. It was a very entertaining film, and I would certainly recommend anyone who enjoys the Lonely Island to give it a watch, as you can see their influence in it. I can’t say I’d watch it over and over again, or need to own it on DVD like Essner, but I’m glad he finally forced me to watch it. I laughed and enjoyed myself.
Now onward to the next film in the film series…!