Archive for June, 2009

“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

— Macbeth, Act V, Scene V


Good old William Shakespeare wasn’t referring to Michael Bay flicks, naturally, but rather life.   The above quote is one of Shakespeare’s most famous and overused quotes but I could think of none other that so exactly summed up the movie I watched this afternoon.

Transformers 2:  Revenge of the Fallen starts out on the wrong foot simply by virtue of being an obnoxious two and a half hours.   Roughly an hour could have easily been trimmed out of the film with no undue impact to the film’s dubious, threadbare plot.   Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is heading off to college and leaving both girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) and protector Bumblebee behind.   His overall goal is to have a normal life after the events that transpired in the previous film; however, fate has other things in store for him.   After a shard of the now-destroyed Allspark falls out of his clothing, Sam begins to see strange symbols and have bizarre, unexplained episodes of abnormal behavior.   Meanwhile, the Decepticons are gearing up for a big showdown, as they rescue Megatron from the depths of the Laurentian Abyssal and begin to search for a new energy source on Earth.

Transformers 2 is so much of a mess it’s hard to know where to start.   Megan Fox didn’t even bother to try to act.  I suppose she knew what she was signing on for when every article of her wardrobe is cut up or down to her navel, but she ho-hums her way through the movie.   LaBeouf is a decent actor most of the time but he’s forced to jerk and twitch his way through this bloated tangle of a movie.   The normally impeccable John Turturro is reduced to a blubbering knuckledragger who shows up to scale a pyramid and to drop his drawers and reveal a set of g-string underwear to the audience.   God Almighty, I hope Turturro bought a nice house with his paycheck.   Even Witwicky’s parents are dunderheads who can barely survive the flick on their own without being swaddled in bubblewrap and bodyguards.

Plot points such as tattoos are brought up and then dropped, ne’er to be seen again.   The film meanders from explosion to explosion in the first half before a geriatric robot named Jetfire shows up to monologue some exposition for the audience, explaining what exactly has been going on for the past hour and a half before picking right up again with – you guessed it – explosions.

The robots are tiresome, particularly The Twins, two robots who are the worst racial caricatures I’ve seen on film in a long time.   Decked out in gold teeth and lopsided faces, these two spend the film beating each other up and firing off such treasures of dialogue involving profanity and odious slang.   I have no idea who thought these two were a good idea, but it shocks me that someone tossed them in such a cavalier fashion.   The adolescent humor that pervades the film, like scrotum and ass jokes, feels more at home in something like Meet the Spartans but I suppose Bay never met a barrel he didn’t like to scrape.

What is amazing is the level of detail to the CGI but even that wears thin quickly.  Bay’s biggest forte has always been the fact that he can direct action scenes particularly well but the scale of the Transformers combined with the closer shots doesn’t lend itself well to a viewer making heads or tails of the bots fighting on screen.   Sometimes all that detail does is make your head hurt.

Transformers 2 isn’t a film so much as a cinematic beatdown for the theatergoer.  Bay’s purpose isn’t to entertain; it’s to pummel a ticket buyer into the plush theater seat with explosions and a soundtrack that would make the deafest of persons wince.   (I left the theater at roughly 6:00 p.m. with a raging headache that has only moderately subsided three hours later.)   If this film is a testament to anything, it’s Michael Bay’s unchecked ego.

Revenge of the Fallen is a behemoth of idiocy.   There is nothing entertaining or amusing about it.   There is no reward to this experience.   If you go see it, aspirin and a cool cloth await you post-film with a strange sense of having been clubbed half to death.

If we were running on the star rating here at 1,416 and Counting?  We’re talking half a star for those poor ILM folks who worked their tails off on the CGI.   That’s it.

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I also think there might be some men saying that too:

Sherlock Holmes Poster

Via the incredibly awesome Den of Geek.

Sherlock Holmes might be the first movie I’ve ever seen on Christmas Day.  That’s the power of RDJ, people.

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Yo, Quentin Tarantino Week will be August 17-21 here on the blog.   I’ll be reviewing all Tarantino movies plus movies Tarantino has reportedly used for inspiration, wrapping up with Inglourious Basterds on the 21st.   Oh.  Yeah.

Reminder:   You still have time to get your submissions in for Reader’s Choice:  Guilty Pleasures.

June’s giveaway is in the mail and as SOON as it gets here, I’ll put up a post about it.   I’m just waiting for it to arrive.

If you’re a movie blogger and you haven’t already joined, The Large Association of Movie Blogs is a great resource for you.

And finally, I will get the site move done one of these days.   I promise.  So much to do, so little time…

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#1546: Drag Me To Hell

Mr. Raimi, I missed you.


I saw the Evil Dead series somewhere around the age of 17 or so and ever since then I’ve been in cinematic love with Sam Raimi.   In the past few years, however, this adoration had dulled over the plethora of Spiderman movies that had come or are to come; I never much cared for Spiderman and I watched the flicks primarily for (who else) Bruce Campbell’s cameos.   Yawn.

Drag Me To Hell is a gooey, oozing horror flick that’s a marked return for Raimi to the genre.   Equal parts funny and frightening, it’s a very tight piece of movie making.

Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is a Midwest farm girl escaping from her roots by moving to a big city, losing her accent and desperately trying to get ahead.  When her boss at the bank informs her that he needs someone to make “tough decisions”, she denies an elderly gypsy woman an extension on her mortgage even as the woman begs and pleads with Christine to save her house.  After work that evening, the gypsy woman hunts Christine down and attacks her, placing an ancient curse on her that will result in Christine getting dragged to hell in three days.

Raimi relies on jump scares and gross scenes but goes easy on the gore.   It’s effective but never tiresome.   If you’re paying attention, Raimi telegraphs the gags before they pop up, but even then my theater had grown men popping out of their seats in fright and screaming like little girls.  Some of Raimi’s signatures are evident in the film; the classic Oldsmobile pops up and you can definitely recognize Raimi’s style.   (Bruce Campbell for once doesn’t cameo.)    Allison Lohman and Justin Long (as her reticent professor boyfriend) are wonderful, with Long being surprising given the fact that he’s popped up in a variety of roles that often border on irritating.

It is definitely a throwback to the horror movies of twenty years ago; Raimi even opens the movie with the ’80’s styled Universal logo, a logo which incredibly stirred up a lot of nostalgia in me.   The movie itself is bright and colorful, with a brilliant score and soundtrack that will stay stuck in your head.   (The sooner they offer it on iTunes, the better, because the soundtrack will stay on repeat on my iPod.)

More than anything, I give points to Raimi for tying up all the plot points nicely as well as making a movie open to interpretation.  While on the surface Drag Me To Hell is a curse-flick, quite a bit of the imagery and repetitive themes of the movie can lead you to different meanings if you let your mind stretch and wander a bit if you’re willing to dig that far.

It was worth the $9.50 Younger Sister and I paid and more.   It should be noted that Younger Sister has relatively no clue who Sam Raimi is or had very much of an idea of the Evil Dead movies before we went into the theater, but I think it’s safe to say that if I tell her that I have a Sam Raimi movie to watch, she’ll watch it now.   We were both suitably happy with the film and judging by the grown men sitting beside us that nearly tore out of the theater in terror, the rest of our audience enjoyed it as well.

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Random Screenshot


Feel free to guess the movie in the comments.

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I was supposed to do a movie review tonight and then things didn’t work out as planned.   I sat down to review it anyways and now I’m just staring at a blank screen.

For the past month or so I’ve been feeling unnaturally hindered by something, I’m really not sure what, but writer’s block has struck me something wicked.  I keep trying to think of ways to rest and relax and just let stuff come to me, and then … nothing comes.   So I’m giving the floor to you, oh those of you that give me your time and energy to read and comment, to ask your advice:  what do you do to relieve writer’s block?   What do you do to refresh your mental palate so to speak?

Forgive the yet-another non-movie review, because I’m genuinely curious if any of you have any tips/tricks/hints.

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Yes, the new Reader’s Choice is here, but we’re doing this one a little differently.  The theme is guilty pleasure flicks – those flicks you love irrationally.  Think of it as movie crack Reader’s Choice!

You can comment here with your choices (as many as you like) and on July 1st I’ll put up a poll where you can select a certain amount of movies for me to review.  The twenty films that receive the most votes win.  (I can’t do 60+ like Worst Movies Ever, I’d die.)   You’ll have some time in July to vote before we kick it off at the end of the month.

So go ahead and comment, throw stuff my way – and thanks to Morgan for this round’s theme.

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The remake is a much maligned property among film geeks these days.   Tommy over at Pluck You Too had a recent post on how to kill remakes; Den of Geek has one along the same lines.

To say the remake is popular amongst studios is an understatement.    You can see here (thanks  to Tommy for the link) a list of remakes that are underway or have been made.

Both Den of Geek and Tommy make the same point:    If there’s a demand, the studios will supply.   So if you bitch about remakes, stop going to see them.   Easy, right?

Except the average American moviegoer isn’t necessarily a film buff or critic, and that’s why the remake is absurdly popular.   I really can’t wrap my mind around it:   what is it that a remake brings to the table?   It’s the same story, same characters.   If you’re looking at something along the lines of The Grudge, it’s a shot-for-shot copy of the original, just in a different language with different actors.   What is it about remakes that makes people want to go see them in the first place?

That’s the stumbling block I have in this whole argument.  Seeing The Taking of Pelham 123 in theaters with Denzel Washington holds no appeal for me; I’d rather see the original.   I’m horrified to learn they’re remaking Total Recall, Red Dawn, and other movies of my childhood simply because there’s nothing wrong with those movies.

What I’m really asking for here is some reader participation in the comments to better understand why people do or don’t see remakes.

Do you, dearest readers, actually see remakes and why?   I’m curious to hear your answers.   I’ll be using your answers for a future post…

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Paul Rudd, you saucy knave, you!


What girl my age didn’t grow up with Rudd as Josh in Clueless?   Moreover, could anyone of us blame Cher for falling head-over-heels for him, even if it was kind of ooky and creepy if you stopped to think about the fact that he was technically her step-brother?

Then I grew up.   And then Paul Rudd got more awesome.  I don’t know how that works.   I think he may have a genetic mutation of some sort.

Witness his hilarious portrayal of Andy in Wet Hot American Summer:

When we figure out how to use cloning for human folks, I vote we use this power for good and put some Paul Rudd Mach IIs on the market.

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In the interests of fairness, I wrote all your names down on some attractive AND charming hot-pink Post-Its, folded them up, threw them in a bowl and swirled them all together.  Then I let Younger Sister draw.

She drew J.D., so he wins the copy of Taken.

(Younger Sister to me:  “Tell that dude he owes me or something.”)

An e-mail’s been sent, but I’m already working out June’s giveaway, so stay tuned for that.

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