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Ghostbusters

Yeh know… it wasn’t that bad.

For starters, I was born in 1991. I saw the original Ghostbusters probably after I saw Space Jam, if you want to put things into perspective. Yes, I loved it and continue to love it, but it did not impact me like those who grew up in the ’80s (or so it seems). And of course, when I initially heard about a remake (reboot?), I was annoyed – because why fix what ain’t broke? Then there was the lady news – I thought that would be kind of cool, but I was still more hung up on the idea that a remake wasn’t necessary. Now, did this movie deserve the outrage it received so early on? Absolutely not.

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I think they look pretty rad.

I’ll skip on the synopsis because it’s pretty straight forward, also spoiler alert.

It’s really hard not to harp on the gender issues here because frankly, all the tv spots about this movie are straight-up girl power – and again, this was one of the biggest public gripes. So let’s talk about, for a bit at least.

If I were 9 and saw this, I would love it to pieces. It’s fun and colorful and funny – and there are chicks kicking phantasmal ass. This is a movie I would need as a young girl, because goddammit, representation is important.  Anecdote: I was a ghostbuster for Halloween last year, and resorted to an ill-fitting men’s suit because otherwise, I had this. Much like skirts and baseball, skirts and ghostbusting don’t mix. (That was a loose League of Their Own – oh nevermind.)

As a young adult viewer, yes, this movie was very entertaining and enjoyable. I felt that the only time the gender-swap dynamic was shoved in your face was with Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) the receptionist, and Rowan (Neil Casey), the creepy villain. Well, I’m only adding Rowan as a devil’s advocate, because I’m sure some folks out there were all like “THE ONLY MEN IN THIS MOVIE WERE A DUMB HUNK AND A SMART CREEP – HOW DOES THIS REPRESENT MEN”

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I also wasn’t digging that he was just Stay Puft mk II.

If you are one of these people…well, maybe we could speak directly, civilly, but please leave capslock out of this – and of course, keep in mind that this is a comedy film that attempts to deviate from the norm. But frankly, working in a big city, I come across at least one Rowan daily, so he didn’t really stand out to me. He kind of bored me, to be honest. I would like to add on the aforementioned deviation note, it would be great of the villain wasn’t defeated with a crotch-shot.

 

 

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So cerebral.

Anywhoo, back to Kevin. I’m sure that some people, probably dudes, were miffed that the main dude was dumb eye-candy. Well, you best get used to it, because ladies have been putting up with this for way. too. long. Also you forget that Kevin’s a cerebral graphic artist as well as a model.

Sometimes he gets a little over the top, but I was still surprised by the directions they took with him. With the exception of the possession-angle, I suppose. Like I said, I just wasn’t impressed with Rowan.

Speaking of over-the-top, let’s talk tech! Who doesn’t love cool gadgets? Definitely not this movie! There was so much technobabble – so much unnecessary technobabble – and on top of that, the devices hardly made sense. It would’ve been cool to see where the line would be drawn between phantasmal and corporeal – the ghost and the goo, so to speak. I mean, Patty’s wood-chipper was brutal and all, but what stopped the ghosties from popping back out of the goo-pile? Is the goo just liquid ghost? Do we just become ooze?

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Merchandising! Merchandising!

And then Abby’s punchie-glove-thing just made no sense at all… You just can’t beat proton packs. I know I shouldn’t do this, but you have to give credit to the original on this one: the gadgets were established, and there were rules – and there was continuity with those rules. Sometimes rules suck, but most of the time they help enrich world building.

 

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Holtzmann even looks like animated Egon.

In the end, Ghostbusters did do a great job paying homage to the original(s) (I loved the cameos), but unfortunately lost a lot of definition in the process. Part of me feels that the story may had been better if it were an indirect sequel where the citizens of New York at least acknowledged the previous events – or maybe more direct,  passing of the torch or something while incorporating these new technologies. Maybe then less time would be spent with babble and more time for busting.

Final thought: I enjoyed this movie. I think if you go in with an open mind, you’ll do just fine. Lighten up.

 

 

Mad Max: Fury Road

I would first like to say that it has been literally years since I’ve seen the original Mad Max, so I have no intention of pulling out any kind of comparisons. Maybe another time. Second of all, the title Mad Max: Fury Road really doesn’t represent the film at all. How about, Fury Road: Featuring Mad Max?

Maybe someday you'll have a movie to yourself.

Maybe someday you’ll have a movie to yourself.

While there’s plenty of screaming, driving, and high-octane explosions, this movie’s really about Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and her quest to overthrow the patriarchy. Well okay, first to free the “breeders,” but then overthrow the patriarchy with some encouragement from Max.

Our lady, Imperator Furiosa.

Our lady, Imperator Furiosa.

I’m not going to write you an essay on this wonderful take on women in dystopian action movies – Buzzfeed already did it for me. However, I do think it’s odd to focus so heavily on Max, just to shift the paradigm towards Furiosa’s redemption. Was it maybe to suck viewers in? Maybe to fund a franchise with some hype? More than likely a little column A, little column B.

Whatever, it’s great. These two work together to accomplish something bigger than themselves, without any of that superfluous sexual chemistry. Not to mention, Max isn’t really your typical “good-guy” protagonist: we know very little about him – he’s haunted by his past and only lives to survive no matter what the cost. Oh, and he’s crazy.

This guy.

This guy.

On the note of madness, the culture of the Wasteland is phenomenal. From the warlord spectacle down to the nomenclature, it’s obvious that a love and care went into creating this world – which is not surprising since George Miller himself is still in control.

From beginning to end, I could not not pull my eyes away from the screen. Sure, it’s ridiculous and violent, but it’s just so fun! Mad Max has really hit the nail on the head in terms of world-building – combine that with some fantastic pacing and War Boy shenanigans, good times are to be had all around!

If you couldn’t tell, I dug this movie. Yes, some spoilery things are a bit too convenient to handle. Yes, Mad Max isn’t really big in this. Yes, it is not perfect. But it’s just so much fun. It’s gritty without being daunting or foreboding – there’s hope, but it doesn’t hit you over the head. This is just some badassery at it’s finest, and exactly what I want in my summer movie.

Final Grade: A

Superhero Sundays: Batman

Welcome welcome to Superhero Sundays, where I discuss the good, the bad, and the awesome about various superhero franchises. This is something that I’ve been toying around with for a while, so let’s see how this goes shall we?  Feel free to comment and what-have-you – I’m not the biggest comic reader, so I’m just looking at the movies as well as possible series.  I know, I know, they’re not exactly film, but this is my blog so I do what I want.  I thought I’d start off with Batman because he has always been my favorite hero: he’s mysterious, intelligent and really just an average guy with awesome resources.  He’s a character caught in two worlds and torn by his past.  He also had the craziest and most interesting villains.  Okay, without further ado, let’s get down to some Batman.

Two incredible actors, one character, two completely different outcomes.

The Good: Batman, Batman Returns, and the Nolan adaptations

I love the two Burton films and the Nolan movies because they are so starkly different but at the same time, well done and well developed.  When Burton was addressed to direct Batman in 1989, production companies were apprehensive at first, because a) this would only be the young director’s third feature film, and b) he wanted Micheal Keaton, a comedian of all actors, to be Batman.  Well, to me it looks like there wasn’t much to worry about.  The construct of Gotham City and the Caped Crusader quickly departed from the campy 60’s technicolor dance party to a stylishly drab and dreary urban-goth drama, while still keeping familiar elements – i.e. Joker’s personality straight out of the comic books while his chaotic schemes remain terrifying.  And Keaton did a good job at being Bruce Wayne, maybe he was a more awkward Batman, but he remained a dynamic, conflicted character.  And I know some people would disagree with me about my stance on Batman, but it is what it is, and the 1980s were a time of much craziness and even more Prince.

Sex and politics are never a good mix. Except in this case.

Having earned his own liberties for the second movie, you can tell he had all the stops pulled out for Batman Returns (1992).  There were actually three villains in this one: Catwoman, Penguin, and Max Shreck – the middleman.   Though this many villains has proven messy before, I think this combo gave Batman a great run for his money.  This after all was the film that expose Bruce Wayne’s double-identity to a world of new issues, as well as his place in Gotham.

To be honest though, I think my favorite aspect about this movie is the villains, especially Catwoman.  As the audience we get enough time to see her side of the story and get into the mind of this severely damaged character.  She is a vigilante turned antihero and we empathize with her journey.  As a whole Batman Returns tells a strange and wonderful story of power, identity loss, love, revenge, and utter madness.

Now, Nolan’s movies on the other hand, I’m not going to go into as much detail about – which doesn’t make them any less important, it’s just I don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said.  I’ll make it brief: Batman Begins is an apt beginning to a gritty reboot with enough psychological turmoil in combination with action to keep all audiences hooked; The Dark Knight shattered Bruce’s beliefs and brought a new terror to Gotham; The Dark Knight Rises, though it wasn’t my favorite, still served as a great ending to the legend – Bruce was challenged by his people and then rose to protect them.  Gritty, epic, real.  That’s it.

The Bad: Damn you, Joel Schumacher.

I hate you.

Batman Forever and Batman and Robin have happily remained the horrid stain on a great franchise.  At first Batman Forever seemed innocent enough, until you realize that you’re not in Vegas but Gotham City.  And I really, really, wanted to like Jim Carrey’s Riddler.  I truly did.  But just the combination of his mugging, with Tommy Lee Jones’ embarrassing contribution (which also threw me off because Harvey Dent was played by Billy Dee Williams in the original), it’s just a hot mess.  It was just a bizarre and messy turn from the previous two.

Then, of course, there was Batman and Robin.  There’s no way I can cover everything that’s wrong because not only would that take too long, but also because I don’t think I could top Nostalgia Critic on this.  I mean, if you really need a recap as to why this movie took Batman down a few pegs, look no further:

Sure these puns are so bad they’re awesome, but I’m not counting irony points.  But as for something truly awesome, here we go.

Excuse me while I nostagiagasm.

The Awesome: The Animated Series

What makes Batman: The Animated Series so awesome?  Well, how about everything for starters.  The animation is gorgeous, as is the score, and the stories are amazing.  The series only lasted 3 years, but it was enough time to encompass some incredible stuff.  I know it also spawned a feature film, which I still have yet to see but I hope to eventually.  It was a show fit for people of all ages and it still holds up today – thank you Hub and Toonami Aftermath.  If you grew up watching this you had a great childhood.  If you didn’t, you can still catch up.  Life’s pretty sweet that way.

 

So this was my shot at Superhero Sundays – I hope you were entertained.  Next  Sunday, everyone’s favorite Kryptonian.

Total Recall

Near the end of the 21st century the world fell victim to biological warfare, rendering a majority of Earth inhabitable.  Since then, living space has become humanity’s most valuable resource, split between west Europe, now the United Federation of Britain, and north Australia, The Colony.  Workers from The Colony travel through The Fall, a tram which splits the world in half – literally.  Since the division, a rebel group known as the Resistance has been spreading the word of the Federation’s exploitation of The Colony.  Caught in the middle is Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell), a factory worker whose mind holds secrets which can save the remaining world from a devastating political attack.

I think it’s fair to say that this Total Recall is a totally different movie from the original Total Recall.  So it’s not like I can say if one was better than the other, it’s just different.  In this version, we get the concept of the original mixed with political overtones then filtered through a Blade Runner aesthetic but with plenty of lens flares, strobe lights, and dubstep to remind you that this is 2012.  Don’t worry, there are still some things close to the original…

It’s simply not Total Recall without TripleTits.

In all seriousness, Total Recall is a pretty solid standalone sci-fi flick.  It’s well acted, well choreographed, and entertaining all through.  Honestly, my only problem (other than the damn lens flares) was Kate Beckinsale’s character – seriously, if you’re going to kill someone, kill them already!  Theatrics never work unless you have a backup!  Alas, common flaw aside, she was a pretty decent hateable cookie-cutter villain.

Regardless, I’m glad to see sci-fis are getting back into gear this year.  I have a good feeling about this guys.

Final Grade: A-

The Amazing Spider-Man

I’m all for gritty reboots as much as the next person, just as long as they don’t suck.  By “suck,” I mean totally destroy the foundation of a beloved character so the new director can get his rocks off on film and call it a “reboot.”  But I digress: After the crash and burn of the Spider-Man trilogy, I personally welcomed the idea of a reboot with open arms – even more so when I learned that Peter Parker was to be played by Andrew Garfield.  Seriously, who would be more perfect?

Feels good, man.

Anyway, the casting in this film is actually pretty perfect.  The chemistry between Peter and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) is not only incredible, but believable.  In fact, a lot of this film’s structure was fairly believable.  From the moment you see Peter go through the halls of the high school there’s this incredibly tangible wave of resentment and in a sense, frustration.  You can immediately feel for Peter and sympathize with him, which makes his transformation from zero to hero even more satisfying.

I also found myself enjoying the villain, Dr. Connors (Rhys Ifans), more than I had expected.  He once had a great cause which was then warped by a combination of greed, obsession and utter insanity, leaving him to become a tragic victim of circumstances.  Even the mentioned greed was brought on by corporate stress – it was OsCorp that threw the gears in motion by threatening the lives of dozens if Connors didn’t test his project himself.  Say, there’s an odd corporate subplot here, isn’t there?

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.

Is that your webbing or are you just happy to see me?

Okay first off, these guys are supposed to be 17-18ish, right?  What is Gwen doing assisting one of the most highly regarded scientists of OsCorp?  Interning is one thing, but how does one achieve such a high rank and level of respect?  How would she have time with all of her high school stuff?  Part of me thinks this would make a much more interesting story.

Secondly, what kind of self-respecting geek uses Bing?

– Minor Spoilers –

Thirdly, near the end when the construction guy gets all the cranes to help Spidey out, that’s just ridiculous.  Seriously, there is a bio-weapon going off as well as an emergency evacuation and you want to call a few buddies to help a superhero make his way to the chaos-hub?  Sure he saved his kid and all but he just seriously endangered a ton of people.  How can you just get a bunch of cranes lined up like that without blocking more traffic?  This moment totally flushed any realism this movie had out of my head and made it nose-dive back into the world of comics.

Lastly, what I found more mind-boggling was that Peter originally contacted Dr. Connors to learn more about his parents’ disappearance,  but after getting sidetracked by an algorithm (these equations always seem to get Garfield into trouble), the whole plot focuses on Dr. Connors’ ambitions – what happened with Peter finding answers?  He never said he wanted to continue his fathers’ work, he just wanted the truth.  Unless he felt that by helping OsCorp he’d be closer to finding the answers, but that wasn’t ever discussed.  Regardless, nothing was answered and it seems the film has left us with more questions.

To sum it all up, The Amazing Spider-Man is a refreshing take on the franchise and worth checking out.  Yeah, I’ll see the sequel.

Final Grade: B+

The A-Team

For those of you too young to remember the 1980s staple show The A-Team (a population which includes yours truly), here’s a little flashback: a motley crew of war vets (and federal fugitives) team up to pull crackerjack heists all in the name of either their country or good samaritanism – kinda like The X-Men, but less realistic.  In said crew includes: Col. John ‘Hannibal’ Smith, the brains; Lt. Templeton ‘Faceman’ Peck, the…face – dur; B.A. Baracus, the brawn; and Murdock, flying ace and wildcard.  When their powers combine, they are THE A-TEAM!!!

     So taking the original film/series into consideration, we all know that you’re gonna enter this thing knowing that it’s just going to be pure summer fluff.  And that’s just what it is.  But that doesn’t mean it’s bad fluff – it’s not even neutral fluff.  Right here, we’ve got ourselves some pretty decent fluff.  As entirely implausible and/or impossible as some of the stunts may be, the story’s still interesting – even gripping at times – but then, much to my dismay, in comes more stunts…jus for the hell of it.  Yay Summer Blockbusters.  But, as mentioned, this is just a fluffy film, so it’s totally expected…as tiresome as it gets.

     Onward with probably one of the more important aspects of this film’s concept: the cast.  Can’t say I can complain here.  At all.  Everyone was well placed.  Liam Neeson was just as cool as ever, being that he’s now become the cool old actiony guy lately, and seriously, Bradley cooper as ‘Face’?  Can things get any better!?  As much as I love these guys, I’ll admit the real reason why I wanted to see this movie to begin with is because one of my favorite happy-go-lucky-accidental-actors Sharlto Copley (of District 9 fame) was cast as the mad flying ace – needless to say I wasn’t too disappointed.  Copley’s knack for accents and eccentricity definitely paid off – however, sometimes I felt that the script confused madness with pop culture savvy, making Murdock’s character slightly reminiscent to Batty from Ferngully.  As for B.A., many-a-fans seem to be a little distressed about their lack of Mr. T.  I, however, find UFC fighter Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson an apt choice.  Personally, I’m not familiar with Jackson’s athletic career, but he proved to be an acceptable actor – didn’t wear the Mohawk as righteously, but then again he wasn’t trying to be Mr. T, either.  But most of all, I was very impressed by the turn around villain *spoiler alert* Patrick Wilson.  Usually going for darker roles in more independent films (oh hey, Hard Candy), Wilson proves that he can just be a sleazy blockbuster jerk of a villain you could love to hate, and I can dig it.

     So, how does A-Team add up?  Well, I don’t think fans would be too disappointed, and being that this is a Summer Blockbuster, this film definitely has appeal to both sexes: plenty of actiony bits for the guys who just wanna see stuff get all blown up, and there are some gorgeous guys for all walks of females (I mean, Mad Men’s John Hamm even shows up…gah!).  Alas, the film’s strength remains its downfall, and it will simply remain fluff.

Final Grade: C+


“Because girls like guys who stand near flames!”

A Nightmare on Elm Street

     The much-anticipated reboot of the 80’s cult classic has finally debuted it’s CGI-induced terror!  But is it worth the shot?  Well, that depends upon your faith in the franchise…amongst other things.  Come, let us explore this twisted realm of wonder…..
     
     Alrighty, well, I must admit that as far as homages go, this one tops the bill.  This movie took every iconic scene from the 1984 classic and revamped them to fit this more modern take; there was the face in the wall (which was waaaaaaaay too CG to be remotely intimidating), the exorcism-like death, friend in the body-bag, the bathtub, and even the spout of blood – all which compensated for that wall embarrassment.  And I also felt the nightmare sequences were very well done – once they rolled along I just couldn’t wait for more.  I really did enjoy the story – it was great to see Freddy’s tale come full-circle.  Alas, then came the dialogue.  How ironic that though this film payed perfect visual tribute, Michael Bay also decided to pay tribute to the horrid one-liners and campy cliche dialogue – something I was really hoping would not rear its obnoxious head.  Auuugh. 
     Personally, I was very surprised that Jackie Earle Haley didn’t do more to avoid such awful dialogue – I mean, he wasn’t too bad until he made this both predictable and nauseatingly cheesy "wet dream" joke.  And then all went to hell, no pun intended.  I just couldn’t take him seriously after that – and he was doing such a good job, too.  Haley does creepy good, what can I say?  And needless to say, he wore the stripes well.  (It seems as if I’ve only seen him as either pedo or anti-pedo…huh.)  He looked disturbingly deformed, as if his seared flesh had almost completely come off.  This also had a down side: his face was so flattened that he almost looked like a feral cat.  His voice was also very Batman – unavoidable I suppose, but it seems just a step below Rorschach.  However, I did greatly appreciate his pervy chuckle.  Very nice. 
     The remaining cast left me baffled.  It would seem that this version decided to go towards the counter culture appeal, but everyone looked like a Twilight reject – especially Kyle Gallner, who I personally referred to throughout the film as "dowdy Edward."  It was just so distracting to have the men made up more than the girls.  On this note, I’d just like to briefly thank Michael Bay for not giving us the stereotypical superfluous sex scenes.  That was extraordinarily refreshing. 

Sorry Bay, but your use of good effects and poor script still leaves me sitting in this sad pool of mediocrity.

Final Grade: C 


"I am not Batman…I am not Batman…."