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Archive for the ‘Mockery’ Category

I see a lot of confusion in the movie blogosphere about the upcoming movie Twilight, based off of the popular book series by Stephenie Meyer. Twilight fans are a hardcore little group, and the amount of internet buzz they’ve helped generate for the movie is insane. But…your rank and file movie fan has no idea what this is all about.

Friend, you are in for a real treat.

Twilight‘s a lot like Peeps. For those of you without access to Peeps – the horror, I say – let me explain. Peeps are marshmallows covered in colored sugar that traditionally have been sold at Easter. (The Peeps people have realized the marketability of these things at other holidays and have seized on them, but they’re mostly associated with Easter). They were originally sold as these mounds of marshmallow shaped into the form of a chick and covered with fine, granulated sugar in a variety of colors – mainly pink and yellow, should memory serve me correctly.

One Peep is good. But before you know it, you’ve wolfed an entire box down, you’ve gone temporarily insane from the sugar high, your mouth is coated with pink sugar and you end up face down on your bed, with half your teeth having already rotted out of your skull from the massive sugar consumption, a nasty headache and a killer feeling in your stomach.

So, Twilight‘s a lot like that. It’s essentially the book form of movie-crack.

My inner twelve year old liked Twilight. My grown-up self has serious issues with it (namely, some bizarr-o, bad portrayals of a “healthy” romantic relationship) but I won’t touch on that here. Instead, I’ll give you the basic rundown of the story and some snicker-worthy factoids, so you’re prepared.

And oh yeah, it’s behind this little separator, so all of you who wish to remain unspoiled may do so (although why in the world you would want to remain unspoiled for Twilight is perfectly beyond me).

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Oh, good God.

Talk about formulaic.

Seriously, the acts are virtually the same, just with different little puzzles and similar parts. It’s like watching the first movie, but not. I certainly don’t mean that in a good way, quite frankly.

I can imagine the meeting of the minds on this one:

Jerry Bruckheimer: Okay, guys – what did we not cover in the last National Treasure movie?

Nicolas Cage: Ooh, the Civil War!

Crazy Jon Voight: That’s right! We didn’t talk about the Civil War at all!

Jerry Bruckheimer: Hmm, I like where this is going. Throw some buzzwords at me. Give me some ideas, gentlemen.

Nicolas Cage: Abraham Lincoln!

Crazy Jon Voight: John Wilkes Boothe!

Nicolas Cage: Mount Rushmore!

Crazy Jon Voight: Queen VICTORIA!

Nicolas Cage: PARIS!

Jerry Bruckheimer: I like all this, I like it. I think it’s going to be hot, gentlemen. Let’s just work all this into a script and see what we get.

Someone needs to have an intervention with Nic Cage. And by “intervention”, I mean, “stop him for his own good”, because heavens to Betsy, my instinctual reaction to someone’s face should not be to cower under the chair in terror and scream “Dear GOD, what is that THING?!” When I first saw Cage, my first reaction was some pseudo pearl-clutching followed by “…What’s wrong with his hair? No, really…what’s wrong with his hair?” He looks disgusting. I don’t just mean in the stinky, looks like he could use a shower or ten kind of department, although that’s part of it. He looks like he’s about to be slapped on an embalmer’s table somewhere after his liver’s exploded during a rough weekend in Vegas.

So, Ben Gates is back – and this time, he and Riley are in all sorts of trouble. Riley owes a ton of back taxes to the government after a shady accountant does him wrong; Ben has lost Abigail after a rocky relationship. Then a odd character comes forth, stating that he has the missing page of John Wilkes Boothe’s diary, implicating a family member of Ben’s in the plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. Of course, Ben and his father are determined to clear their family member’s name, but the shady character (Ed Harris) is using Ben to help him find a treasure. (Are you shocked yet? No? Really?!)

The problem is that National Treasure 2 is the exact same movie as the first. Literally you can pretty much track the second from the first, right down to the discoveries timed simultaneously, Riley offering up pertinent information at exactly the right time, hidden compartments, etc. It feels like an odd sense of déjà vu watching this one, because it feels like it’s the same movie, but it’s not.

You kind of have to mentally shake yourself a bit to remember that you didn’t accidentally take too much NyQuil or something when you weren’t looking.

Jon Voight is so remarkably atrocious in this. He’s playing the doddering old fool, but he’s Jon Voight, so he’s a little crazy to begin with. And add in the fact that it looks like someone gave him a strong sedative before sending him to film his parts and you have a slightly stunted, completely slow looking performance.

What in the hell was Helen Mirren doing in this movie? And could Ed Harris have phoned it in even more? Both of them look like they’re slightly dazed all the way through it, as if they’re trying to mentally communicate, “Bruckheimer hypnotized me and forced me to be in this movie; send help. For the love of God, send help”. Ed Harris isn’t very convincing as a bad guy, mainly because he doesn’t do that much bad stuff, and I think it’s practically a contract stipulation with Harris that if you write him in as a villain, he must have a “conscience” or whatever that thing’s called that gives you a moral compass – or at least a damn good reason for doing whatever the character’s doing.

Even at the end, the discovery of the “treasure” is so cheap – because you know from the start exactly how it’s going to happen because you watched the first movie already (probably). The first movie was a fun cheese-tastic kind of thrill ride, and this one falls flat, mainly because you already know what twists and turns are coming for you right around the bend.

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Oh, Quentin.

Imagine my shock when I opened up my internet browser this morning and moseyed on over to Cinematical only to discover you’ve been running that mouth of yours again. Sure, I wished for you to get on the ball about Inglorious Bastards, but not quite like this.

Via the good folks at Cinematical:

Tarantino has pronounced that he’s finished a draft of the script (that was fast) and “if all goes well, I will be here, in Cannes, in 2009 with Inglorious Bastards.”

…Wait, what?

I’ve been hearing for years, literally, about this movie, Mr. Tarantino — I’ve heard crazy, strange stories about 800 page draft scripts and Michael Madsden and whatever bizarre affectations come along with a Tarantino film. And now? Now, you give me this.

Oh, Quentin. Again.

We have a strange and varied history, don’t we? I like you and then you do something so odd and creepy that I have to take ten steps back and start running away.

I love your movies. Granted, it’s always been very trendy to fall head over heels for Tarantino films, but there’s no denying you’ve got talent and not just that, I’ve resisted your insane-o movie crack many a time, even insisting in some quarters that you’re not as good as you think you are or that perhaps you should issue a “cheat sheet” of recommended movies that you’ve stolen from wholesale every time you release a new movie. And every time I run away, either from some freaky interview you you gave, or your psychotic ramblings that make you sound like a two-bit hack jacked up on uppers, you’re still there with your stupid Reservoir Dogs and Charlestown Chiefs jersey and infectious love of kung-fu. You make it hard to stay away.

Here you tease me with the fact that you’ve finished a long awaited draft (or pared it down, depending on which sources we believe) of Inglorious Bastards and you say it might be ready for the 2009 Cannes festival. How, pray tell, are you going to accomplish that? Are you going to hop yourself up on so many amphetamines Judy Garland style to finish this film from a draft script that by the time Cannes rolls around next year you’ll be singing cracked out versions of “Get Happy” with RZA? Tell me how, Quentin! Tell me!

After all we’ve been through, Q, it’s so decidedly unfair to dangle this carrot in front of my face with a promise you can’t deliver. But there’s our history, right, Quentin? An avenue of broken promises and addictive films that I keep running back for, while making shameful excuses to everyone else I know. “He is a genius, I promise!” I say. “Look, I know he’s a freakshow and a half, but he’s talented! Yes, I know all his characters curse a lot and talk about random stuff; just watch the movie, okay?”

This is so unfair, Quentin. We both know the real truth – we can probably expect Inglorious Bastards around 2020, but I don’t understand why you have to keep on pulling at my emotions like this.

(If you actually do sing “Get Happy” with RZA, I want video. ASAP.)

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Oh, goodness. It’s actually titled Shaolin Temple Against Lama, but Netflix lists it as the title above.

Once upon a time, I dated a guy who for Valentine’s Day gave me the best present of all: a pre-planned marathon of kung-fu movies and Chinese food for Valentine’s Day. (It should tell you a lot right there what my idea of a good Valentine’s Day is, huh?) One of the movies we watched was a movie I’ve been trying to track down – Shaolin Versus Lama – but to no avail. It was awesome and amazingly good-bad, so in desperation and sifting through 8,000 “Shaolin” titles on Netflix, I randomly selected this one hoping it would live up to the brilliance of the movie I had originally watched.

No, this one was better. Better, I say!

Does the plot matter? Absolutely not. Like all kung-fu movies from the late ’60’s or so to the late ’70’s, it’s got three very important features: lots of fights, supremely bad dubbing and horrible camera work. This one, however, is way over the top.

I don’t claim to be a connoisseur of bad kung fu movies, so I can’t really relate this on a scale to you how awesomely cracktastic this movie really is, but let’s just say…it’s hilarious. Roaringly, outstandingly hilarious.

First of all, no one in this movie gets through three minutes of it without some super huge fight breaking out — which, while entertaining, is pretty exhausting. The dubbing is the pinnacle of bad in the best possible way. It really is every kung fu dubbing cliche you’ve ever heard. The costumes and actors, though, have to be seen to be believed. Let’s all stop for a moment and thank the heavens that God made screencapping software:


This is our main character and no, his name is not important. What is important is that he looks like the love child of David Bowie and the Yellow Power Ranger.

Do you SEE WHAT I MEAN? If you’re wearing more makeup than Boy George, you have a problem, my friend.

This is the main bad guy, who I think made his outfit from a Simplicity Sewing book of patterns.

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I should preface this by saying that I hate Uwe Boll’s movies. (This is probably not an unpopular opinion among movie buffs.) I’ve sat through at least four of his movies, trying desperately to find something redeeming in the hot messes he makes, but so far, I haven’t found much.

In the comments in an earlier post there was a small discussion between me and The Best Haiku Writer Ever, also known as andrew, about Uwe Boll’s movies wherein it occurred to me via another commenter that not everyone was aware of the horrific nature of this man’s movies.

Uwe Boll is a German filmmaker/producer who uses German tax shelters in order to make his movie. From The All-Knowing Wikipedia:

Boll is able to acquire funding thanks to German tax laws that reward investments in film. The law allows investors in German-owned films to write off 100% of their investment as a tax deduction; it also allows them to invest borrowed money and write off any fees associated with the loan. The investor is then only required to pay taxes on the profits made by the movie; if the movie loses money, the investor gets a tax writeoff.

Germany, your contributions to cinema have been duly noted.

Boll usually prefers to make adaptations of video games, like the movie I have just watched. In short, I’m not sure that Boll actually puts anything but half-assed effort into his movies. I’m not sure how in the world he keeps on doing what he’s doing, but he manages. His movies have terrible acting, horrific directions, plots and scripts so shoddy they just should have been reworked about eighty times before anyone decided to put them to celluloid; what disturbs me most is that the man takes something that could be theoretically decent and somehow screws it up. I never get the feeling Uwe Boll loves movies or even thinks he should have to work hard at making a decent film. In short, his movies piss me off because they’re mediocre pieces of crap that he is content to continue to unleash upon the public. None of his movies have improved; in fact, House of the Dead is probably one of the better movies I’ve seen that he’s done — sadly.

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So here we go, through House of the Dead.

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Oh my god, this movie is a thousand kinds of bad.   There’s nothing good-bad about it, either.

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Okay, first of all, I want to ask Gabriel Byrne one question and one question only:  “Why were you in this remarkable piece of crap?”     Oh, Gabriel.   You and those pretty blue eyes are capable of so much better.

Point of No Return is a remake of a much finer French film, La Femme Nikita.   The basic plot is that Bridget Fonda plays a Nina-Simone obsessed junkie who is in a robbery gone wrong and she manages to receive the death penalty for her role in it.   The execution is faked and instead the government trains her up as an assassin.   Needless to say, Bridget Fonda’s character is not entirely thrilled about this whole turn of events.

This film feature one of the most hilarious execution scenes ever put to film.  Not only is the execution chamber highly stylized, Bridget Fonda’s face is classic.  It’s like she’s having a lobotomy instead of lethal injection and afterwards promptly pees all over herself.

Bridget Fonda’s  acting is atrocious in this.  Not only is it hard to believe she’s a junkie, it’s hard to believe anything other than the fact that she’s a whiny little snot at every turn of the movie.    She rages with almost pre-teen angst through all of her training, where it’s pretty obvious Gabriel Byrne isn’t trying to down Jameson’s in between sessions and backhanding her alternately.    Watching her efforts at being “frustrated” is like watching a child try and paint Rembrandt.   It’s hard to conceive that her boyfriend, played by a very scruffy, hobo looking Dermot Mulroney, wants anything to do with her, but somehow, he does.

After she completes her training, Bridget Fonda’s character, who is now known as Claudia, is sent to Venice, California as a home base.   We know this because we get some cracktastic montages of people rollerblading and lifting weights in the most hideous spandex day-glo outfits imaginable.

Needless to say,  Hobo Dermot Mulroney begins to get very suspicious.   She doesn’t seem to work a lot for someone in “sales” and she gets all these whacked out phone calls where she has to just up and leave.   For someone who’s a super-stealthy assassin, Claudia’s not very convincing at making excuses to leave to go kill some people.

Claudia now has to juggle her “regular” life with her “assassin” life and figure out a way to make the two balance.   I could imagine how shooting people in the head with sniper rifles as your day job would conflict with being a nine-to-five sorta person and having a wretched looking hobo for a boyfriend.   So there’s lots of drama.

I won’t spoil the ending, but needless to say, I don’t think you should want to throw something large and heavy at a main character that is supposed to be sympathetic.   Or wonder why Gabriel Byrne took this role in the first place.   Or wondering if Mr. Byrne saw the final product and promptly drank himself into a years long stupor.

Yeah, it’s that bad.

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