Posts Tagged ‘action’

G.I. Joe: A Real Hollywood Screw-Up

August 8, 2009


The following review contains spoilers, if you plan to see this movie and don’t want it ruined for you, please be advised and come back to this particular review after you’ve seen it.

While I really love the fact that Hollywood has decided to take on all of my childhood favorites, I really wish they’d have a little respect for the established history.

G.I. Joe has a ton of history behind it.  Admittedly, the various cartoons and comics have rewritten it over the years, but the writers of the new Rise of Cobra decided that the only truly important history was Destro’s (honestly, I’m just glad they cast someone who could actually play Scottish, and Chris Eccleston is great in the part) and the Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow rivalry (well, one version of it).  One of my main issues was all the character alterations.  If you’re going to change a character that much, why not just make a new one instead?

Prime example, the Baroness is no longer Austrian, but American, and we find out early on that she and Duke were romantically involved.  Was this really necessary?  Both the change in nationality and the affections for Duke.  Really, it felt more like a James Bond story line…

…well, EVERY James Bond story line.

There’s plenty of eye-popping action, and the basic plot did feel like a typical G.I. Joe cartoon episode.

Ray Park was perfect as Snake Eyes, but what’s with the mouth on the rubber mask?  Was that made by the same ass who put nipples on the batsuit?  And apparently, this version of Snake Eyes just took a vow of silence instead of having his vocal chords damaged saving his teammates (the Marvel Comics origin).  Also, the writer’s went for the childhood rivalry angle between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow.

A good chunk of the plot deals with Cobra’s use of nanobots (called nanomites in the movie).  As much as I like the idea of nanobots in science fiction, it seems to have become a crutch for writers these days.  How can we make Zartan a TRUE master of disguise?  Nanobots!  How can we make Cobra soldiers expendable and 100% loyal?  Nanobots!  And the big one, how can we give Destro a metal face?  Nanobots!!

Hey, you guys do realize the only reason the lips on Destro’s mask moved in the cartoon was because the animators realized how pointless drawing a motionless mask would be.  It was completely unnecessary to actually give him a metal face!  Just put him in the mask, the audience will understand.

Oh yeah, and what’s the deal with writers wanting to turn EVERY villain into Darth Vader?  Cobra Commander was not horribly disfigured requiring a life-support system in either the cartoon OR the comic.  In fact, in the comic he was a used car salesman who became fed up with the U.S. government and turned to terrorism.  This, for me, is a much better story.  He wore the metal mask to conceal his identity (also, I was always a fan of the cloth mask, much more terrifying), nothing else.

The writers also decided to make the Commander more like Dr. Mindbender (who does appear, but briefly) by making him more of the mad scientist running his experiments with nanomites.  Question: If you’re smart enough to make these nanomites that can create a metal face, or make another face completely malleable, why can’t they fix your own horrible disfigurement?  I mean, isn’t that the point of nanobots?

The movie is fun, with a ton of good action, decent character development (regardless of the skewed history), with some EXTREMELY cheesy dialogue, and some questionable C.G. at points.

This movie is about what I expected, maybe a little better.  I lost a lot of faith in it when those “accelerator suits” were first revealed.  In the initial trailer, I thought those were going to be B.A.Ts (Cobra’s Battle Android Troopers).  I was sadly mistaken.  At least they weren’t a major part of the story.

It’s watchable, but I don’t know if it’s worth spending $8 or $9 bucks on.  I don’t often say this, but wait for the DVD.

 

William, the Movie Nerdfighter

who knows he takes established continuity a little too seriously because writers need  the freedom to create, but wonders if it’s really that difficult to follow.

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The Dark Knight, It Gets Better Every Time You See It

September 14, 2008


I have to say, I absolutely love “The Dark Knight”.

It’s just an incredible movie. Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve talked about this movie. In fact, the second podcast started out as a full review on “The Dark Knight” and become a look at Batman through the years. However, I just saw the film on an IMAX screen and I was just stunned.

I know all about the brilliance of IMAX, but before Friday night, I’d yet to experience it for myself. After seeing it I can only say one thing…

OH MY GOD!!!

Seriously, and in every since of the term, this movie took my breath away. That is the most honest I’ve ever been using that phrase. When those 70mm cityscapes appear on that enormous screen, it feels like you are actually in a helicopter flying over them. I literally lost my breath for a moment during those scenes.

And the action…

When those explosions rock the floor beneath your feet, you think it’s actually happening right in front of you.

However, I must digress, the simple fact of seeing this movie on an IMAX screen isn’t what makes it such a great film. The acting, the directing, the script; there’s plenty to like about “The Dark Knight”.

Of course, you can’t talk about the acting in this movie without mentioning the stellar performance of Heath Ledger. He is, hands down, the greatest Joker ever captured on screen. Prior to this, I always considered Mark Hamill the ultimate Joker for his part in the Batman animated series from the 90s. That was brilliant, but Ledger completely owns the part. If there hadn’t been so much news about Heath before the movie was released, you wouldn’t even know it was him.

I could write pages alone on the performance of the late Mr. Ledger in this film, but I will not. I will say this though; Heath Ledger will receive a posthumous Oscar for it. And it will be entirely deserved.

This franchise has given me hope for movies based on DC Comic properties. Now, if only they could get the Superman movie franchise completely back on track.

Thank you Mr. Nolan, and thank you Mr. Ledger. It would not have worked without either of you.

 

William, the Movie Nerdfighter

who strangely found some words of wisdom in the Joker’s dialogue and is a little concerned…

Blood, Guts, Bullets, Octane, and A Whole Bunch of F-Bombs

September 10, 2008


This review could best be summed up with one sentence:

Joe Carnahan, you demented f&*king genius!

If you’ve seen “Smoking Aces”, you know how incredibly violent and insane Joe Carnahan can take a story, but if you haven’t treated yourself to “Blood, Guts, Bullets, and Octane” you’re denying yourself one of his best works.

The premise is actually similar to Aces in a lot of ways.  It starts out seemingly simple in telling the story of a pair of used car dealers down on their luck, and quickly turns into a violent race to the finish.

This was Carnahan’s first movie, and I was introduced to it when I was on my independent kick in the late 90s.  This is the kind of movie that makes me love independent films and it is one of the films responsible for my current career path.

For comparison, it’s similar to Robert Rodriguez’s “El Mariachi” in tone and slightly in the style, but with Tarantino’s dialogue choices.

Just trust me on this, if you like Carnahan’s work in “Smoking Aces”, or just cool action films in general, do yourself a favor and check out “Blood, Guts, Bullets, and Octane”.

You’ll be glad you did.

 

William, the Movie Nerdfighter

who wants to just run out and shoot a feature after seeing this movie again

Tom Cruise Made Me Laugh… on Purpose!

August 30, 2008


Got the chance to see “Tropic Thunder” this weekend with some friends, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised.  I did have a fear that the few scenes from all the trailers would be the only funny ones in the movie, but that was far from the case.

To be honest, I haven’t been impressed with Ben Stiller lately.  He’s been very mediocre in his movies (mainly because they just aren’t the best scripts).  But he most definitely delivers here.  Maybe Robert Downey, Jr. helped him out…

And speaking of Downey, HOLY CRAP!  He was friggin’ brilliant here!  Of course, he’s great in everything, but lately he’s just been hitting them out of the park right and left.  And, as he himself says, he’s “the dude playin’ a dude disguised as another dude.”  Hilarious!

The whole dig on the Hollywood system is wonderful (and sadly true in a lot of ways).  It really makes this seemingly ridiculous premise work.  From the moment you see the fake trailers created to introduce you to the actors within the movie, along with Alpa Chino’s (Oh God… that doesn’t stop being funny) “Booty Sweat” energy drink ad; all the way to the end credits, this movie is just hilarious.

However, the primary stars of this movie are almost overshadowed by a brilliant cameo from… of all people… TOM CRUISE?

Yes.  That’s right.  He is pure hilarity as the stereotypical angry producer taken to probably less of an extreme than you think (a little Harvey Weinstein in there I think).  Think Jeremy Pivens in “Entourage” with absolute power over a production.

Frightening yes, but absolute comedy gold.

And his dance during the credits!  That’s absolute genius.

I can honestly say that this movie made me laugh out loud more than most comedies I’ve been to in the last few years.  The characters were all extremely entertaining with all their unfortunate quirks.

Oh, and Steve Coogan is amazing as the “first-time director” who gets bullied by the cast until Nick Nolte as the vet (and writer of the book the war movie is based on) convinces him to take them “into the shit”.

Whoever thought to add the homages to other great war movies like “Apocalypse Now” and “Platoon”, good call.  They were just perfect.

And, I know there has been some protest about Ben Stiller’s portrayal of a mentally handicapped man (one of the movies within the movie called “Simple Jack”) and the use of the word “retard” throughout the movie.  The thing is, it’s used to parody the way Hollywood looks at the mentally handicapped in the movies it makes.  It is not meant as an insult, and should not be taken as any kind of slight against people with any mental disability.

I’m trying to write this without many spoilers, because I think everyone should go see this movie for themselves.  It’s that good.

So, do yourself a favor and check out “Tropic Thunder” when you have a chance.  I think you’ll be glad you did.

EDIT on 09/01/08:

Just got back from seeing “Tropic Thunder” for the second time, and it is just as awesome.

A few things I didn’t mention above, but I wasn’t going to rewrite the first review, so here’s a postscript.

First, this is not just a straight up comedy. This is one of the best ACTION-comedies that has been put together in a long time. The absolute absurdity of this movie is what makes it so good. I’m going to be quoting it for a while to come, that’s for sure.

I’m going to stop now, because there is too much to talk about in this movie. The review will never be enough to explain all the awesome it contains.

 

William, the Movie Nerdfighter

who laughed out loud more than he has in a long time