Saturday, August 22, 2009

We have a saying around here, "Get used to it, Hitler."

Please bear with me. This is the drunkest I've been while writing one of these, thanks to Sobieski Vodka. I bought it blindly, because I figured the name wouldn't steer me wrong. This summer, Leelee Sobieski went from being a pretty alien to a pretty human being with her appearance in Public Enemies, and I figured this vodka would equally surprise me. And guess what? It did. This $11 bottle is pretty damn good. Definitely a shitload of bang for a modicum of buck. I recommend it heartily, especially in this current economy.

Anyway, people have already made up theories about the spelling of Quentin Tarantino's latest joint, Inglourious Basterds. Some say it's a way for QT to distinguish his film from the original Bo Svenson/Fred Williamson flick, The Inglorious Bastards. Others say it was to get by the MPAA (you telling me these motherfuckers approve movie titles too?!). Then there's those who bring up that Brad Pitt's character has it written that way into the butt of his rifle. I believe the best explanation is in a book titled Killer Instinct by Jane Hamsher. In it, she puts up a copy of a letter QT had handwritten to her, and boy is it some FUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNY shit. THAT is the reason the title's spelled that way, and since Tarantino admitted in a recent interview that no one in the cast or crew ever questioned his spelling just shows to go you that this emperor's new clothes is lookin' mighty fine these days.

But he can misspell all the fuckin' words he wants if he continues to create quality flicks like this one. Shit, he can go retroactively retitling his previous works if he wants: Rezurvwhar Dawhgs, Poulp Fickshun, Jahkey Brauwn, Kill Bill. Also, I knew I was into something good when the movie started off with an old circa 70's/80's Universal logo, like Sam Raimi did with Drag Me to Hell, but unlike that movie, I didn't have two old hens talking throughout the movie and I liked this one a hell of a lot more. (Sorry, Sam. Please don't send the Lamia after me.)

So yeah, Brad Pitt leads a group of Jewish-American soldiers on a Nazi killing spree, I want my scalps! and all that. That's what the trailers and commercials are selling you. But don't expect it to be a men-on-a-mission movie consisting of nothing but Pitt & Company going around and kicking National Socialist ass. It's really two parallel stories; one following the exploits of the Basterds, and the other involving a young French Jew working at a Parisian movie theater. It's the second tale that gets more of the screen time, and there's a lot of subtitles, so those of you who can't hang with that can take that shit over to G.I. Joe right now.

This movie's about two-and-a-half hours long, but it moved pretty damn fast to me. I'm sure I'm in the minority, because lots of people are bitching about the dialogue. They're right in that this is a dialogue-heavy film, supposedly some talking sequences go as long as 25-30 minutes. There's a lot more BLAH BLAH BLAH than BANG BANG BANG going on here, but you know what? I didn't mind at all because I liked the dialogue. It kept me interested. These people seemed to have forgotten a little movie two years ago called Death Proof. Now THAT has a lot of talking that makes you wonder if any of it is going to pay off. With Death Proof, the majority of the chatter felt like filler (albeit entertaining filler), whereas the dialogue in Basterds feels like Quentin playing with the audience, stretching it out and making us wait longer and longer before what's got to be the payoff happens. And just when we reach our breaking point and are pulling our hair out at the possibility of what might happen, holy shit, does the payoff pay the fuck off.

Part of the plot involves a film-within-a-film called Nation's Pride, a Nazi propaganda film about a national war hero by the name of Frederick Zoller who sniped a bunch of American soldiers from a belltower. This movie ends up being screened for a bunch of high-ranking Nazis, and they laugh and cheer their uncircumsized dicks off every time Zoller busts a cap in some red, white and blue ass. I wondered if Tarantino was pulling some "holding a mirror to society" bullshit with that? I mean, I know he's all about making kick-ass movies to have fun with and nothing more, but the audience I saw this with was doing the same shit whenever a fuckin' Nazi got owned, cheering and laughing, myself included. Hopefully that's more like QT saying that his shit is as propaganderous as the shit these Nazis were watching. By the way, if Tarantino can misspell his movie titles, I can make up words like propaganderous, all right? So callate la boca.

I wish I never heard that Quentin had at one point considered doing this as a mini-series for cable, like Band of Brothers, telling various stories during the period of the main events. Because as much as this movie kicked ass, I think we would've gotten a lot more kick-ass stuff out of a really extended version of this. He was seriously thinking of doing it this way until fuckin' Luc Besson talked him out of it. He told him that Tarantino was one of the only filmmakers that made him want to go see a movie in a theater. This fuckin' bastard -- I mean, basterd -- he should've just shut his fuckin' Frenchy mouth and concentrated on writing & producing more movies about Liam Neeson and Jason Statham owning motherfuckers. We could've had 12 hours of this, which is blessing to people like me and a curse for everyone else, I suppose.

The acting, like in all of Tarantino's flicks, is top-notch. Pitt is playing a dude from Tennessee, and he knows what kind of movie he's in so he doesn't go for realism, he goes for exaggerated when it comes to his accent and mannerisms. The French chick is played by someone named Melanie Laurent, and she does a decent job but nothing spectacular. I'll give her this, though, in fact I'll give everyone else this -- these have to be some great fuckin' actors to be able to hold their own whenever they're in a scene with the motherfucker who plays Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), and while this isn't an Oscar-caliber film, he gives an Oscar-caliber performance.

Col. Landa is known as The Jew Hunter, and that's just what he does, looking for any and all Jews hidden throughout France. What makes him even scarier is that he does it all in as charming a manner as possible. Here's a man who will do everything he can to make you feel at ease before dropping the big one on you, a man who will convince you to give up the goods, leaving you in tears because you just fucking KNOW you're doing the wrong thing, but this guy is such a smooth smoothie, it's like you have no choice but to give up control of the situation. Landa must've gotten ALL the anti-Semitic pussy back in the day.

Mike Myers shows up here for one scene, and his appearance reminded me of a story I heard about something that happened during a test screening of John Milius' Flight of the Intruder. Ed O'Neill had an important role in it, but everybody fuckin' laughed because all they could think of at the moment was "Holy shit, it's Al Bundy!". So they had to reshoot it with another actor. I'm reminded of this because no one in the audience at the showing I went to could stop laughing for the entirety of Myers' scene. The problem could also be that while guys like Pitt and the English motherfucker who plays Hicox were able to toe the line between Over the Top and Bloody Ridiculous, Myers unfortunately could not. This guy is playing his part like a character in the next Austin Powers movie. Actually, he's playing it like his idol, Peter Sellers, who I'm sorry to say, had the habit of hamming it up even in his best work.

A couple of times Samuel L. Jackson's voice comes out of nowhere to narrate this flick. I thought that was pretty awesome, not because it was Jackson, but because there wasn't a real rhyme or reason to the use of narration here. Like the occasional use of narration in a Argento flick, you're listening to it and wondering if it was even fuckin' needed, but you kinda appreciate the wacky need of the director to include it, for whatever fuckin' reason. Harvey Keitel's voice is also heard late in the film, as a general or something, and that was cool. Speaking of which, go watch Keitel's interview in that From Dusk Till Dawn documentary for some good times.

Eli Roth has a big role in this, but I've gone on way too long about the actors already, so he gets assed out in my ramblings. Sorry, pal. Go make Hostel Part III and see if I give a shit.

Ennio Morricone is my favorite movie music composer, and I was happy to hear that Tarantino was going to get him to come up with some original music for this film. Then he fucked it all up when he decided that it was more important to have his movie ready for Cannes rather than give Morricone another couple of months to do his thing. It was more important to have his shit premiere in the country that "respects directors" and get his knob polished by the Cannes critics than to have what could've been the next great Morricone score complementing his movie. And in the end, what happened? The Cannes critics reacted to his opus with an unenthusiastic "eh". Ha ha ha, motherfuck.

But he made up for it (kinda) by using a bunch of Morricone's old stuff for the film score instead. It was fun to pick out the stuff I recognized from the tracks that I couldn't. The best track is from a Sergio Sollima film called Revolver, a sad little tune that is used here for an equally fucked up moment. It made my geek muscle twinge a little to hear a tune I once heard from a shitty television speaker now play in Dolby Digital to a huge auditorium. There's non-Morricone tracks here as well; my buddy was distracted by the use of a David Bowie tune, but that one didn't get me so much as the use of music from The Entity did at one point. Once I heard that, all I could think of was poor Barbara Hershey getting ghost raped.

I've only seen this once, so maybe it's too early to tell, but so far, Basterds felt like a better movie than both Kill Bill and Death Proof and I was a fan of both. I can't understand where the critics are coming from with this, they keep saying that it's not the sum of all it's parts, which is a bullshit thing to say, by the way. It's a film comprised of great scenes that don't fit together well? Shit, that's why Tarantino put chapter headings in this bitch. Anyway, I'm not really one for multiple cinema viewings, but I just might have to go see this one again to make sure. As of now, I'm saying Inglourious Basterds was a great fuckin' movie (made by a horrible fuckin' speller) and I am fucking drunk and hungry like a motherfucker. (How hungry is a motherfucker, by the way?)

P.S. You know what else came out this weekend? Shorts. That was written and directed by Tarantino's hetero life-mate, Robert Rodriguez. I'm a big fan of Rodriguez, but I don't think I could bring myself to buy a ticket to that shit, William H. Macy or not. Besides, the theater will be filled with kids and all the parents will look at me like I'm some kinda fuckin' pedo creep. They would be half right.

P.P.S. In case you were wondering -- Yup, Quentin works in his foot fetish in this movie as well. If I ever make a movie, every chick is going to wear glasses. Please believe that.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The first whore to say "Yeah, I'll suck E.T.'s cock" should've gotten some kind of medal, that's for sure.

My attitude has changed over the years, and now I believe that you should let shit go, rather than try to agitate it into an argument or fisticuffs. You should live life assuming every stranger is a Navy SEAL or an Israeli, that way you won't want to fuck with them. But when said stranger is a shaven-head man of raza, clad in a Raiders jersey and khaki shorts (not to mention the rather girly look of socks pulled all the way up), there is no need to make that particular assumption. That is because this man has already been nice enough to let you know -- without having to say a single word -- that perhaps taking things to the next level is not the wisest of choices. Firearms or knives may be introduced into the equation, and it won't be coming from your side either.

So rather than turning around and going "Hey, I know you're probably still upset about Proper Dos breaking up, but can you at least get a hold of yourself long enough to stop kicking my motherfucking seat for two goddamn seconds?", I instead moved to the next row. That was the best thing to do, because I wound up getting a better view of District 9 on the movie screen.

You know that first minute or so of Alien Nation, right before it started to suck? The UFO hovering a few hundred feet above land? Well, that's what happens here. An alien mothership drops in on Johannesburg and I guess these aliens are a lot like me and tempted fate one too many times by driving on Empty rather than filling that shit up ASAP. Now they're stuck, left floating above the city, and the South African government will look like assholes to the rest of the world if they don't do anything about it. So they fly up to the ship, break in, and discover a bunch of aliens just chilling out in there.

The humans bring the aliens down to the city, and somehow, they were able to figure out that these things are mal/undernourished, which kinda took me out of the movie a bit until I started considering that the humans probably had these creatures under quarantine for a while, then they did a whole bunch of tests on them, then they had to learn how to speak fuckin' Alien. Even if they were fast learners, I bet you that took quite a while. So, of course the first thing to come out of those aliens' mouths was going to be something like "HUNGRY!!!".

With typical South African hospitality, the humans segregate the aliens and force them to live in a slum. I'm sure that decision came pretty easy; the whites were probably getting nostalgic for the good ol' days of apartheid, and the blacks probably wanted to know how that shit would feel on the other side of the fence. You see what I'm talking about? The white man and the black man is keeping the scaly man down. That's fuckin' bullshit, man. Not right. At least in this country, Obama would've had the decency to have a beer with a couple of the aliens before kicking their ass to the curb.

Nearly 30 years pass, and the humans have now had enough of these "prawns" and want them the fuck out of their lives. They might have a point since a lot of them have resorted to committing violent crimes and doing business with some bad dudes, including trading weapons for cat food, which is like crack to them. Maybe the environment bred them this way, or maybe they were always naturally inclined to do that shit. These are the kind of questions that the movie brings up without actually bringing them up, since the filmmakers aren't trying to make some fuckin' polemic or Message Movie, they're just trying to entertain you.

Look, I love George A. Romero and I kinda like Wes Craven, but when it comes to themes and subtext, you just fucking KNOW those guys would be rubbing your face in that shit like an asshole owner to a dog that didn't know better. But if you're the kind of person who likes to look for that kind of thing, then it's a bountiful feast for you, mon frère, because the movie's got enough parallels to apartheid, anti-immigrant sentiment, hell, even the Iraq War, if you want. But all of that takes a backseat to what this movie is really about, and that's telling a hell of an entertaining tale.

What happens after all the complaints and protests is that the government decides to kick the aliens out of their shanties and move them to another camp further away. The guy in charge (and the main character of the movie) of all the evictions is this nerd who only got the job because his father-in-law hooked him up. I forgot the character's name, but I remember it being one of those South African last names with more than one A in them, because they sure love using more than one A. I wonder if Charlize Theron used to spell it "Chaarlize"?

Anyway, the actor who played the nerd with a double-A name was really fucking good, reminding me of every other boss I've worked for; he's got this really cheery attitude, but within the relentlessly happy Good Guy exterior beats the heart of an asshole. He's the kind of boss who will ask you to work overtime and when you tell him that you can't because you already had plans to attend your cousin's wedding, he'll basically tell you (without actually telling you) that you better do this shit or you'll be fired, all the while keeping a smile on his or her face. These are the same assholes who then get canned for not being economically viable and start crying, going "Why? I did everything they asked me to! I never took a sick day or used vacation time!". Let that be a lesson to ya.

There's this moment during a sequence where Double-A takes a subordinate with him to the evictions. They're accompanied by armed military (or police or whatever) and everyone is wearing bulletproof vests, but they forgot one for the subordinate. He gets nervous, and Double-A tells him not to worry, it's not like anything's going to happen, and you get the sense that this asshole really thinks he's convinced him with that bullshit. Slowly, but surely, more of the ugliness comes out; one choice example is the manner in which he threatens an uncooperative alien by telling him that Social Services (or whatever the South African equivalent is called) will take away it's child. Again, he's got this fucked-up positive tone to everything he says, and you just want to see this motherfucker get smacked or something.

Well, "smacked or something" is what happens to this tool, and the rest of this flick follows Double-A as he gets some big time poetic justice or a dose of irony or whatever the fuck is the correct way to call what happens to him. What's kinda cool about this flick is that he goes through so much shit, you actually start to feel sorry for him -- until he starts acting up again, and then you're like "Oh, I almost forgot that this guy's an asshole."

Part of District 9 is played out as a documentary, and the rest is a straight narrative that still keeps the hand-held, you-are-there aesthetic. It's slightly reminiscent of Touching the Void, where you have this documentary that combined interviews with re-enactments of the events cut in, only in this flick, the re-enactments (if you choose to see them that way) make up a bigger portion of the movie. That, and I don't remember there being any aliens in Touching the Void, I might have been using the restroom during that part.

They say the director was supposed to make a Halo movie, but that didn't happen, so he made this instead. Now, I've never played Halo because I was too busy getting laid(*), but based on what people were saying after the movie, it sounds like the dude was able to get some of his Halo rocks off with the shit that happens in the last third of District 9. Some sci-fi fans might not like the way the story turns in the last third, the same way some sci-fi fans didn't like the last third of They Live or the last third of The Matrix. These people are assholes. Okay, no, not really, that was harsh and uncalled for. My apologies. But I really liked those two movies and I really liked this one, so forgive me for being defensive.

This made a lot of bank over the weekend, and that's cool to know, especially when you consider that this was a relatively small movie shot in South Africa with no stars. To my knowledge, there are no District 9 cartoons from the 80's or no action figures for 18-35 year olds to get all nostalgic with. All this flick had was a cool hook and a clever marketing campaign -- Ah ha! There you go.

I wonder how much of the younger-than-me audience in the Thursday midnight showing I attended expected the characters to speak with funny (aka Not American) accents? If this shit was made in the early-80's you can bet dollars to donuts (I'm hankering for donuts right now) that the distributors would've Mad Max'd that shit. Also, it's funny how G.I. Joe had at least three times the budget of this flick, and yet the visual effects here are fuckin' flawless compared to that piece of shit. Maybe it's because I'm a moron who can't distinguish between fake and real, but goddamn, those aliens looked pretty fuckin' real. I don't know if they used some Andy Serkis motherfuckers in green suits to pull it off, but it looks really good.

Anyway, if you went to see The Goods this weekend instead of this, then you probably got assed out. The End.

(*) - replace "getting laid" with "watching movies alone"

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Some guys are lumping in Julie & Julia with garbage like Sex and the City, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past or The Ugly Truth, but I never saw it that way. Sure, there are no titties and nobody gets chopped up with a machete, but neither of those things happen in G.I. Joe either and plenty of guys paid to see THAT shit. Men be different from women, mars, venus, etc.

Who knows, maybe this *is* a chick flick that no self-respecting man would ever watch, unless forced to by a significant other. But Julie & Julia features Amy Adams and food, and since I'm a big fan of both and have no self-respect whatsoever, there the fuck I went.

The Adorable Amy Adams plays Julie Powell, a young woman who's approaching 30 and noticing how relatively well her friends are doing with their lives. She, on the other hand, has accomplished nothing and is beginning to feel like a completely useless piece of shit. So she begins writing a blog to distract herself from the pain of living and to somehow fool her stupid ass into thinking she's accomplishing something in between alcoholic blackouts -- oh wait -- I'm sorry, that's the Exiled from Contentment story, I got confused there for a moment, because they start off so similarly before veering off in completely different directions.

Powell does create a blog, though, calling it The Julie/Julia Project, and in it she writes about her attempt to make every recipe from Julia Child's cookbook, titled Mastering the Art of French Cooking. That means this lady who's married and working a full-time job now has to complete 524 recipes in 365 days. I'm single and unemployed, and sometimes I skip breakfast because I don't want to get off the bed and cook a fuckin' egg, so good for her.

Anyway, the film cuts back and forth Godfather Part II style between Powell's attempts at making all the recipes, and the life of her idol, Julia Child. She's played by Meryl Streep and the movie focuses on her time living in France in the '40s, along with her diplomat husband, played by Stanley Tucci. Maybe it's because they're portrayed by two actors who I like and respect, and maybe it's because they're middle-aged and not young kids, but goddamn I couldn't get enough of these two. Most movie couples make me want to introduce them to the business end of a shovel, but I really enjoyed Streep and Tucci here. Usually I call Bullshit on most on-screen pairings, no matter how good the actors are supposed to be, but these two actually had me believing that they were totally into each other.

So it's awesome to watch them in a scene together, but even when Tucci's not around to share the good times, it's still all good; Streep gives out what I can best describe as an Infectious Performance, where everything she says or does left me with a smile on my face, even with that high-pitched voice she was doing. It reminded me of another Infectious Performance I enjoyed immensely, some movie about a cartoon princess who ends up in the real world, I forgot the name of the movie or who played her. Tucci's character describes Child as having such a likable quality that she manages to charm even the asshole French (redundant, I know) and you get prime examples throughout. Like Martha Washington, the screen version of Julia Child seems like a hip, hip, hip lady, man.

I'm not so sure about Powell, though. Compared to Child, she comes off as kinda jerky sometimes, and I wonder if that was part of the reason why The Adorable Amy Adams was cast as her. If another actress played Powell, I'd probably find her a little on the insufferable side. There's enough hurdles set in the path to make you cheer for her -- hell, I definitely emphasized with her situation at the beginning -- but even the movie seems to make the same judgment on her character halfway through. At one point, Powell asks a friend if she thinks she's a bitch, her friend responds with Yes. She ain't kidding either, she's telling her the truth.

But oh just how less bitchy a character Ms. Adams manages to make her! The director of this movie also worked with Meg Ryan a few times, and it's almost like she called Ms. Ryan to come in and act as a Cuteness Consultant for Adams, only she specifically requested the Meg Ryan from Joe Versus the Volcano to show up. Some of you will be on the same page, and some of you will want to borrow my shovel, but I thought The Adorable Amy Adams brought enough Awww to her performance to make me go, uh well, Awww. She is, to quote another friend who watched this with me, "precious". To my knowledge, he's not gay -- which I guess is too bad for me. There's a scene where she's attempting to cook lobster, and I noticed she was wearing what was either a doggy or kitty cat pin on her blouse. I have no idea why she was wearing it, but I'm glad she was.

There are references to Child's past employment by the OSS, and given her linebacker sized frame, maybe she took out a few motherfuckers permanently in her old job. Streep isn't nearly that big in real life, so I guess they busted out with some Lord of the Rings digital effects work or old-fashioned stuff to make her look as big as the real thing, and they definitely pull it off. She practically towers over most of the cast, at least until her sister (played by Jane Lynch) comes in and stands even taller than Julia. Now that's a huge bitch.

Some radio show hosts (Poon & Peener, I believe) were making cracks about this movie, assuming it was going to be another spoonful of Women Are Good, Men Are Dogs like most chick-flick claptrap. That's why they call them assumptions, because a motherfucker is bound to be very fuckin' wrong when making them. The men in this movie are actually very supportive, and in some cases, victims of our ladies' headstrong manner in getting shit done.

For example, Powell's husband has to not only put up with Julie's whining about how she has nothing to show for her life (he's like What about me? I'm your fuckin' husband!), but also all the grumbling and moaning about living in a walk-up apartment located above a pizza parlor. What the fuck. Living above a pizza place sounds pretty fuckin' awesome, if you ask me. Sure, I might gain a few extra pounds, but I'm already a fat fuck, so it's all good. I remember a movie with Jude Law and Gretchen Mol, it was either called The Two Stars That Never Were, or Music From Another Room, and I remember Law's character lived above a bakery. That seemed pretty sweet, literally and figuratively.

You're going to want to eat directly before or after the movie, because there's a lot of delicious food being prepared, served and eaten throughout the running time. Whenever or wherever you decide to eat, do me a favor and try to keep your manners. Don't be like the people in this flick who all talk with their mouths full. It's a little off-putting at first, but you'll get used to it. It was probably necessary for the filmmakers to have the actors do it this way in a dialogue-heavy flick such as this one, otherwise this shit would've been 20 minutes longer with everyone waiting to swallow their bites before speaking.

There are a couple examples of what I will refer to from now on as an Up moment, named after the great Pixar movie that sucker-punched many a motherfucker with Cold Hard Reality in its first 15 minutes, damn near making some of the weaker ones (including me) get a little teary-eyed. What's cool about the Up moments -- both referring to one character's unfortunate inability to, uh, create -- is that they're handled pretty damn well. Very little dialogue is involved, and another filmmaker may have been tempted to draw the shit out to a long, emotional sequence of blah, blah, blah and shit being thrown against walls and floors and tears and blood and overly dramatic music swelling up. Instead, the sadistic bastard behind the camera decides to play that shit as quietly as possible.

Nora Ephron is the name of the sadistic bastard. She wrote and directed this movie, adapting it from two books: Julia Child's memoir My Life in France, and Julie Powell's book, whatever the fuck that one's called. She also seems pretty good about calling out other women's bullshit, based on some of the stuff that happens here. Ephron was also behind Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail, and Michael. I actually kinda like those movies, probably because I'm half a fag, but also because I think they're each examples of Two Hours Pleasantly Spent, which is also how I'd describe Julie & Julia.

This rambling ended way too nicely, so let me close this off with an extra heaping serving of Asshole: Julie Powell's success with her blogging/cooking travails kinda reminded me of the chick who blogged about her pen-pal relationship with the late, great John Hughes. I went to her blog fairly early and found her post very touching, and then I went on to read her other posts as well. I later noticed that while her other posts had zero comments, the Hughes blog had about 40-50. Since then, I've gone back and she's clocking over 1200 comments on the Hughes piece, and the other posts are now starting to get comments as well. In a fucked-up, That's Life kind-of-way, the death of John Hughes is quite possibly the best thing to happen to her blog.

On that note, I will wait for the sad day that Christopher Walken shuffles off this mortal coil to write my Touch With Greatness blog and rake in the attention. Fuck it, with my drinking and horrible diet, I'll probably die before him, so I'll just tell my story now: I went to a screening of The Deer Hunter back in '02 and brought my DVD of the film for Mr. Walken to sign. I'm not an autograph guy, but I decided to make a rare exception in this case. He was in a hurry, but he took the Sharpie and the DVD and signed it while talking to someone else. Then he walked away. I took my DVD and ran off, feeling all giddy that I got Christopher Walken's signature on a DVD of a film he won the Academy Award for. Then I realized I forgot to take the cap off of the Sharpie. If you squint your eyes enough, and the light is shining on it at a proper angle, you just might be able to catch the indentation of Walken's signature on my DVD case.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Yes, they make a "Knowing is half the battle" reference. Best part of the movie, too.

The first Stephen Sommers movie I saw was Deep Rising, back in '98, and I thought it was a fun flick. The Mummy was just as fun, and The Mummy Returns was okay at best. Then he made Van Helsing, which I thought was so-bad-it's-good. So when I went to see G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, I figured that the Best Case Scenario was a fun flick that didn't take itself too seriously and the Worst Case Scenario would be an entertainingly bad movie like Helsing.

It's neither. Instead, it was lame and dull.

It's loud and there's plenty of bang and boom, and yet I never felt engaged by any of it. I kept waiting for it to get good and it never did. You have Harry Knowles on Ain't it Cool declaring G.I. Joe as "fun", and I honestly wish I saw the same flick. I'm actually pretty easy on movies, always looking for something to like about them, especially with actioners -- I don't even need an original story or an intricate plot, just give me some cool set-pieces, just give me some fun. This flick couldn't even do THAT.

There are a couple of moments, where I could sense my geek muscle twinging because it looked like Something Awesome was about to happen, but it never does. This movie even fucks it up on a hardware & gadgets level; the Joes are given a cool mini-Gatling gun that is worn on the wrist like a bracelet, and it's only used in the entire movie for approximately 1 1/2 seconds. I was like "Hell ye--" and didn't get to finish, because that was it, back to the badly done CGI chase scene. If I can reference Harry Knowles again and use a Blade-II-review-style analogy on you, that kind of shit is like a woman wrapping her hand around your cock, about to give you a hand job, and then just as quickly, she lets go. Sorry ladies, I can't come up with a female perspective version. I'm not a woman, I merely have the emotions of one.

I don't know how much this movie cost, but for the most part, someone got taken for a ride. If you're going to use CGI, then it's gotta look somewhat convincing. They succeed in "somewhat convincing" like half of the time, and the rest it's just piss-poor Sy-Fy (ugh) Channel bullshit. Who knows, maybe you'd be okay with it, maybe you'd like watching someone else play video games on a 40-foot screen, because that's what this shit looked like. There's only one part, involving the Eiffel Tower, that looked kinda cool, and that's about it.

What makes it worse is that they have a pretty good cast here, familiar faces with unfamiliar names. Aside from Sienna Miller and Channing Tatum, you have fuckin' Adebesi from Oz, you have this Moroccan actor who's in a lot of flicks, you have this cute redhead chick, and you have Dennis Quaid. Mr. Quaid must have known what a terrible movie he was in, so he gives a suitably bad performance. In a way, I wish the other actors took his lead and didn't act like they were in goddamn Sophie's Choice, it might have made for a slightly less-shitty movie. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is here as well, proving that Brick and (500) Days of Summer make for a respectable resume but they don't do shit for the bank account. Then there's Marlon Wayans as Sgt. Black Comic Relief, and he's actually one of the better things in this movie. I never found him to be annoying, and his ratio is about 1 funny joke for every 10, which is a better success rate than the movie itself.

I liked looking at Sienna Miller as the Baroness, and the fact that she's wearing glasses for most of the movie really helped as well (I have a weird thing about girls in glasses), but there's one wide shot that perhaps should have been a medium; she's walking around in her black skin-tight leather outfit and I guess the guys are supposed to go "ME LIKEY!", but all I could notice was that she had Marcy D'Arcy chicken legs. They couldn't even get THAT right in this movie.

Sommers cast a few of his Mummy bros in this; Arnold Vosloo (the other Darkman) plays a villain in a completely useless subplot, Kevin J. O'Connor is in one scene, and Brendan Fraser shows up in a cameo. They keep cutting to close-ups of Fraser during his scene, where he's overseeing a sparring match between Snake Eyes and Duke. They should've just had a guitar riff and Rob Halford come in every time they cut to Fraser's close-up: "*guitar riff* BREN-DAN FRAAAAAAASSSSSEEEERRRR!!!"

Again, I don't go into shit expecting to hate it, unless it's something like Paper Heart. I really wanted to like G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, and I was making it very easy for these motherfuckers by lowering my expectations. Yeah, well it's not for you, it's for kids, dummy. Fine, asshole -- perhaps I'm the wrong age for this movie, maybe you have to be playing with the action figures to like this shit. Maybe if I was 11 years old, I'd really dig G.I. Joe: The Rise of a Shitty Franchise. Then, ten years later, I'd watch it again on some nostalgia kick and realize what a piece-of-shit it always was.

This was NOT a so-bad-it's-good movie, don't get it twisted. It is just the worst kind of action movie, a boring one. There are no good times here, not for me, anyway. I spent the entire running time hoping it would either start getting good, or just fucking end. One never happened and the other took way too fucking long to happen. When it finally did end (with an opening for a sequel), that Black Eyed Peas song "Boom Boom Pow" blasted over the credits as one final Fuck You to the audience. Half the crowd applauded though, so maybe I'm just being Larry David at the beach.

As I left the theater, the lobby speakers were playing the song Brazil and that reminded me that Jonathan Pryce was also in this shit, playing the President of the United States with a Welsh accent. And that left me with a smile on my face, both the accent and the idea that Jonathan Pryce made a nice chunk of change on this garbage. See, I'm always looking for something positive. But that's about it.

Okay, here's something else I liked from the movie: there's a sword fight between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. They swing at each other and lock swords, looking into each others eyes. Suddenly, we cut to a flashback of two young kids fighting in a dojo. Then it cuts back to Snake and Shadow. It's a four-second flashback, and then back to the fight. For a second, I thought it was going to rise up a couple levels to being laughably bad, then it went back to being dull and I continued not giving a fuck about the proceedings. So that's two things -- three, if you count Sienna Miller-D'Arcy in glasses.

I saw this with a free pass which came with a free popcorn and candy, and I still couldn't enjoy myself. That should tell you everything right there. Damn, I should've opened with that statement and saved the both of us a lot of time. But I didn't, so there.