Saturday, May 30, 2009

"You have insulted my rich Gypsy heritage, sir!"

Some movies aren't meant to be watched early in the afternoon, and Drag Me to Hell might be one of them. The idea was to catch the midnight showing late Thursday, but laziness and frugality changed my mind. It was a mistake. The late night crowd is much different from your matinee crowd; more often than not, they are the most hardcore types who will show up the night before official opening night, or they just don't have jobs the next morning, or both. They will probably show up pumped and primed and ready to let the movie have its way with them, and if the movie happens to be directed by Sam Raimi, it will definitely have its way. You may end up with a talkative crowd, but it'd more of a "Holy shit this movie's fuckin' awesome" kind of talk, created by an energy only a great flick can cause. The feeling surges through them like recently snorted uncut Bolivian flake, and like someone on that drug, the people riding the high can't help but let the other person know how they feel.

Matinees, on the other hand, are mostly attended by senior citizens who talk during the movie for a whole other reason. A reason I have yet to comprehend. What I'm trying to say is that I'm not sure whether the problem with Drag Me to Hell is that it's simply not as awesome as everyone else has been saying, or if the narration by the two old ladies in front of me during the whole movie muffled the experience.

So I'm sure you know the story: In an attempt to prove herself worthy of a promotion, a loan officer named Christine Brown ends up denying an old Gypsy woman a third extension on her mortgage, meaning her house will be foreclosed and she will be homeless. The Gypsy begs her for another extension and is denied, so after attacking her in the parking lot, she places a curse on Christine -- she will be tormented by horrible visions and hallucinations for three days, after which a demon called the Lamia will show up and drag her soul to Hell where she will burn for all eternity. Between this movie and Thinner, I think its safe to say that Gypsies are fucking assholes.

I'm reminded of a rule of conduct I made up and gone by for the past few years: "Assume every man is a Navy SEAL". The idea is that you should let it go if someone accidentally bumps into you or steps on your shoe or something like that. So many men have this problem -- the testicles -- that forces them to have to do something about some bullshit that'd be better off forgotten. I used to be like that, I would try to start shit with some guy who probably didn't even know he'd done me wrong in the first place. Sometimes it worked out my way, sometimes it didn't. Life's too fucking short to start shit, and if you happen to do that to the wrong guy, then life will be even shorter. Just because the guy is smaller or skinnier than you doesn't mean you'll walk away the champ. So like I said, assume every man is a Navy SEAL. Let it go. Life is complicated and scary enough without your dumb ass making it scarier and more complicated.

So in addition to that maxim, I also add "Assume every old man and lady is a Gypsy". This is why I didn't tell the two old ladies in front of me to shut their fucking cunt mouths before I put them out of their Depends-dousing misery. I was afraid they would put a curse on me to get dragged into Hell after three days. I don't need that shit in my life. I'm already on thin ice after that Fireproof review. That, and the whole "treat elders with respect" deal too. Besides, there was another old man sitting at the end of their row who was trying to shut them up, and I decided it would best to let age deal with age. They talked loud enough that moving seats wasn't an option, and I couldn't wait for the next showing because I had a schedule for the day, and I couldn't go home because GODDAMMIT, I SHOULD BE ABLE TO SEE THE MOVIE RIGHT THE FIRST FUCKING TIME.

I knew he was going to have problems with them because during the trailers (before the old hags even arrived), he moved from his original seat because the family in front of him was talking during THE FUCKING TRAILERS. C'mon, even *I* let that slide. Talk all you want, just make sure to zip those lips when the movie starts. The two old ladies sat down in front of me, a few seats away from the old man, and started to flap their denture-curtains. It was amusing at first. At first. At the end of the Inglorious Bastards (fuck that misspelling shit) trailer, one said out loud for everyone in the audience to hear (which is the volume they kept during the entire movie), "My God, they managed to make Brad Pitt look ugly!". Then the movie started, the blabbing continued and it stopped being amusing. Other bon mots included:

"Why is she doing that? Oh, okay. She thinks that will keep the spirits away."

"What is it about all these Hindus that believe in this garbage."

"(unintelligible for a change)...HAH HAH HAH! (during a quiet scene, BTW)"

"She should give her the curse!"

"Look. That's going to go into her mouth. (fly goes into Christine's mouth) Told ya!"

Or one of many cases of "Maybe if you paid attention to the fucking movie instead of BLAH BLAH BLABBITY FUCKIN' BLAH, you'd understand":

First Old Lady: "Why is she looking at him like that?"
Second Old Lady: "Because if she gives him (spoiler deleted) he will die."
First Old Lady: "Why does she want him to die?"

I know why I want YOU to die, that's for sure.

I would accept this if they were black, because black moviegoers who talk can make that shit entertaining. Plus, I'm scared of black people. But they weren't black, in fact, one of them was probably raza, because of the occasional use of Spanglish. It was the worst kind of old lady talk, where one would ask the other what had just happened, or the other would guess what was going to happen next and then would sit back and smile when it happened, like she expected a prize for that shit. As I kinda mentioned at the beginning, for this kind of movie, there is a way to talk through it that won't annoy your fellow moviegoer and instead show just how much you were into it. But these ladies certainly weren't doing that.

The old man wasn't much help. Instead of shushing them, he'd make a clicking noise with his tongue every time they spoke loudly (which was all the time). It was the same clicking noise one would make when telling a horse to move, so I can kinda understand why that shit meant nothing to the old ladies. Whenever he got really peeved, he would make a sudden sweeping motion with his arm, like he was pushing everything off an imaginary table. About 20 minutes before the movie ended, the old man finally had enough. He got up and left, never to return for the remainder of the movie. A chill ran down my spine, when I thought to myself that perhaps that old man represented my future self. Then I calmed down, because I'm certain I'll serve myself a bullet before I even get that old. Then the movie ended.

The tone is very much in the same vein as the Evil Dead movies, in that it mixes comedy, horror, and many, many gross-outs. The main actress even had a couple of Bruce Campbell-style lines towards the end, which only proved that there can be only one Bruce Campbell. It was cool to see the old 80's Universal logo at the beginning and the old Universal Studios ads after the credits, that shows exactly where Raimi's heart was with this flick. But overall, it felt like nothing more than the best episode ever of Tales from the Crypt, meaning I was entertained and the movie was fun, it just didn't rock my world the way it did to others whose opinions I highly respect. Which I guess makes me the fuckin' wet blanket of the bunch.

But let's be fair, if anything, I'm more of a slightly damp blanket, because I still dug it, even if I just didn't dig it as deep as others. Those who know me probably know that I fuckin' love Raimi's flicks and I'm damn near an apologist for the dude like I am with Tarantino. Shit, man -- I even defended Spider-Man 3, I thought that movie was pretty sweet while everyone else was calling me a retard for thinking so. Motherfuckers, I didn't star in Life Goes On, so take that shit elsewhere. Maybe I'd like it more if it wasn't for the two Early Bird Special diners sitting in front of me. Because of that, I might give it another chance later on. But since I'm writing about this flick *now*, these are unfortunately the impressions that I'm going to leave on this here blog.

A buddy and I talked about this movie a few days ago, before I saw it, and he said it seemed like the kind of movie that'd be perfect as part of one of those horror movie marathons they've had at the New Beverly Cinema or Aero Theatre. I really hope that happens. I would love to see this with an audience full of people who would appreciate it, then maybe I'd experience it in the best possible manner and get more out of it. Then perhaps my opinion will change for the better. Fuck that, I'm sure it will. As it is, I've only seen it in a nearly empty theater with two old talkative ladies. Sartre was right all along. I wanted to shout at the screen and tell Christine Brown not to worry her pretty little head. Because win or lose, the only thing that will change is the weather.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

After the apocalypse, dirty unwashed women will still have bright sparkling smiles.

I'm going to make this one kinda quick, since I'm going to try to catch a midnight showing of Drag Me To Hell tonight.

I went to check out the new Terminator movie, or as it was spelled on my ticket, "TERMENATOR" (there was also a receipt on the counter for nachos that noted the extra price for "Extra Chesse"). On the way to the auditorium, a man of raza was carrying his infant son with him ahead of me. He stopped in front of the cardboard stand for Terminator Salvation and did the whole "Wow! Lookit dat!" deal to his kid. He fashioned his finger into a gun, aimed it at the T-600s and went PEW PEW PEW at them to amuse the little tyke, and that's when I remembered that this movie was PG-13.

That's also the last time I even thought of the movie's rating, because Terminator Salvation manages to work without the occasional blood and gore of the first three films. This is more of a big-explosion-and-things-smashing-into-each-other kind of flick, anyway. Not much opportunity for a Terminator to shove its fist through some dude's chest or to stab its liquid metal arm through some poor schmuck's mouth via milk carton. The last Die Hard movie was hurt more by its friendlier rating than this one.

Terminator (no colon) Salvation begins in 2003, with a man on Death Row named Marcus Wright receiving a visit from a doctor who wants him to sign his body over to science. He does, and we see above the dotted line that it's Cyberdyne he's signing it over to. Later that night, the execution commences and he is given a lethal injection. Cut to post-Judgment Day 2018, where John Connor and a team of resistance fighters attack a Skynet "research facility" and attempt to rescue some captive humans. After the battle, a naked man climbs out of the wreckage and it's none other than Marcus Wright, alive and looking exactly as he did the night of his execution. He doesn't know where the fuck he is or even what year it is.

I watched Salvation a couple of days ago, and my opinion of it has lowered a bit since then. I was wowed by the excellent special effects and I really enjoyed the exciting action scenes, but once I got over that I realized that all that flash was distracting me from the fact that there wasn't all that much to this movie. It's pretty fuckin' useless, actually.

The previous flick, Terminator: Rise of the Machines, was OK, but at least it served a purpose in the canon of the series. It showed us how Skynet took over after becoming self-aware, it confirmed that Judgment Day was inevitable, and it showed the audience how John Connor managed to survive it. Salvation unfortunately doesn't really tell you that much, since most of the focus is on the character of Marcus Wright. I was hoping we were going to follow Connor as the leader of the resistance and watch as he became the savior for the Judgment Day survivors, and that's not the way it works out here.

I get the sense that this movie wasn't really supposed to be about John Connor in the first place, and maybe his part was originally much smaller or even non-existent, but then once they got Christian Bale involved, the filmmakers realized they needed to rewrite the script and beef his character up. As it is, most of what we see from Connor is in the first and last third of the movie. The rest of the time, the movie only occasionally cuts to him giving out radio messages to the resistance or sitting alone with a tape recorder, listening to those old tapes his mom Sarah Connor made when she was pregnant with him.

Another problem is that this feels like the filmmakers wanted to create a new series of Terminator flicks, rather than concentrate on making one self-contained story. Parts two and three ended in such a way that another sequel could be made, yet the endings also worked as a final word on the series. Salvation's ending is more like "Hey guys, we promise you that the really cool stuff will be in the next one!" and that's bullshit. What if this one doesn't make enough money to warrant a sequel? Then all we're left with is what's basically fan fiction, or a spin-off character that we never asked for in the first place.

There's also some callbacks and references to the other movies that made me cringe a bit. We get to hear characters actually say "Come with me, if you want to live", "I'll be back", and at one point we even hear the Guns N' Roses song "You Could Be Mine", all this apparently to make you go "Remember the other movies? They were cool, weren't they?". It would be like having young Vito Corleone beat someone up with a trash can in The Godfather Part II as a way to wink wink nudge nudge the audience into remembering his son doing that in the first one.

I'm not saying that this is a bad movie, I'm just saying that I was disappointed that it doesn't push the series to another level. Sure, we finally get a Terminator movie that takes place during the war between humans and the machines, but that's as far as it goes. The biggest change is the setting, and ultimately the only thing you get out of this movie is that the T-800 hasn't been invented yet. This also appears to take place before Skynet started building plasma rifles, which kinda sucks. I was looking forward to watching and hearing those lasers whizzing by.

It's a very exciting movie as far as action goes, and the new Skynet inventions and different forms of Terminators we see here are really cool. Just don't expect anything deeper than that. A matinee ticket or a Blu-ray rental later on sounds about right for this one.

On a final note, Michael Ironside is in this movie and that guy fuckin' rules. It's cool to see him in a big summer action movie again. It shows that in addition to directing cool action scenes, McG knows how to cast his parts well. Now he just needs to find better scripts to direct and change that stupid fuckin' name.

Monday, May 25, 2009

If you have to see one Shawn Levy movie...

Darn that Amy Adams! Darn her to heck, I say! You see, even when it comes to swearing, there's something about that gal that makes me clean it up. Those who know me or who have read my "reviews" of Doubt and Sunshine Cleaning on this blog probably know by now about my crush on Ms. Adams. I'm darning her to heck because up until a couple of days ago, every movie she was in I had no qualms buying a ticket for, because the movie looked interesting and/or good enough whether or not she was in it. But then I found out that she was in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian which looked like garbage to me, and for the first time I was buying a ticket to one of her movies simply because she was in it. To add insult to injury, I went ahead and ponied up the extra dough to see it in IMAX, because the more Amy, the better, I suppose. Also if I was going to see this fuckin' movie, I might as well go all the way and watch the best presentation of it since it's filled with special effects and all that jazz.

This is a sequel to a movie that I haven't watched and never will, unless the filmmakers pull some George Lucas shit and add scenes featuring Amy Adams in it. So all I know about it is that Ben Stiller played the new night watchman for a museum, and for some reason the exhibits would all come to life at night and I guess hilarity would ensue. In the sequel, Stiller is no longer a security guard, instead he makes lots of cash as an inventor of glow-in-the-dark flashlights and shit. He's big time, too; he sells his wares on infomercials with George Foreman. You know, it's kinda weird how life works out for you. Foreman got his ass handed to him by Muhammed Ali, but considering that nowadays he's rolling in all that George Foreman Grill money and Ali is busy spilling his soup alongside Michael J. Fox, it makes you think who the real winner in life is.

But Stiller doesn't forget his old friends, so he visits the museum every once in a while to spend a night with the walking, talking exhibits. The way it works is that there's some golden tablet belonging to some Egyptian mummy or some shit that makes it possible to come alive. Anyway, Stiller finds out from the manager of the museum that a bunch of the exhibits are going to be moved to the Smithsonian for storage, to be replaced by a bunch of shitty holographic versions. Some of them won't be coming along for the ride and the tablet won't be taken along either, which means that those going to the Smithsonian will never come back to life again. Considering that among those to be left alone at the museum is none other than Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt, maybe that's not so bad. Still, I can see why that would be considered kinda sad to assholes like Ben Stiller. Birds of a feather, you know?

The next morning, the exhibits are taken to the Smithsonian and that's that. Later that night, Stiller comes home to his nice big apartment and tells his son that he'll be working all night with a friend, which upsets the kid. I love how this movie along with a bunch of others -- which of course I can't remember at the moment -- have this whole "Daddy making money = BAD" theme to it. This ungrateful little brat is probably gonna go cry in his room, a room that I bet is furnished with an HDTV, cable, PS3, XBOX 360, satellite radio, iPod, computer with super-fast connection, porn, all that shit, and he's never going to consider ONCE that maybe, just maybe, he wouldn't have any of this shit if it wasn't for his daddy busting his ass at his job. "Oh, he doesn't spend enough time with me!" Shaaaddup, ya little bastard. It's give and take, and you take the good with the bad.

It's all moot anyway, because Stiller then gets a phone call; it's one of the little miniatures come to life (and played by suicide attemptee Owen Wilson) telling him that one of those little horrible bastard capuchin monkeys stole the tablet and brought it along. That means that not only have all of the other exhibits in the entire Smithsonian come to life, but that Stiller's pals are currently under attack by some other crazy Egyptian pharaoh as well. That pharaoh, by the way, is played by Hank Azaria, another actor who like Ben Stiller, can be very funny but just seems like he'd be a dick in real life. It's almost like the filmmakers realized, "Shit, we have Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria, and Christopher Guest in this movie, we have to cast someone who doesn't have the air of the Asshole about them!" and I guess that's how the adorable Amy Adams got cast in this motherfucker. I could be wrong about Mr. Azaria, though. Maybe he found out that this movie was going to play at the IMAX, and he thought that he should try to give anyone who would pay $16 for a ticket a good deal. Now, not only for that price do you get to watch a movie in a crisp clear format on a overwhelming giant screen, you also get two tickets to the gun show. The dude definitely pumped some iron for the role, I'll give him that.

So Stiller sneaks into the Smithsonian to get the tablet, the sun goes down, and all hell breaks loose. He gets chased around by Azaria and his men, while trying to save his friends and get all of this done before the sun comes up. Along the way, he runs into an Amelia Earhart exhibit come to life, and that's who Amy Adams plays. I don't know if Amelia Earhart was anything like how Adams plays her, and I don't care. She's very likable and given to speak in the 1930's vernacular -- along with the accent that seems to accompany that kind of talk -- and I just got a kick out of her performance the whole way through. Now, would I have the same opinion if Earhart was played by someone else? Probably. If anything, it might be a little less positive. Maybe some other actress would try to dial it down a little to avoid the risk of looking like a jackass. But Adams, gosh bless her, is not afraid to look dumb and commits to it 100%. And in the end, she doesn't even look dumb, it comes off perfect.

Even if she did end up sucking in this role, I'd still have something else to enjoy -- her incredibly tight jodhpurs. I was told about this a couple of days before seeing the movie, and I thought it was an exaggeration, but it's not. The filmmakers knew what they were doing, they knew that this was a kids movie but that they should at least put a little something there for the fathers, the uncles or the lesbian aunts in the audience. So they hired a real mensch for a costume designer and the result is a very nice lower half of Amy Adams. In IMAX, no less.

This is a kids' movie with mostly cute harmless kids' humor throughout. It's got a few genuinely funny scenes, like one between Stiller and fat-fuck-from-Superbad Jonah Hill, and another between Stiller and Hank Azaria near the climax. Both feature what I like to call the "neverending line-crossing", where someone tells the other person not to do something, then they do, and the other person can't believe they did it and they warn them not to go any further, and they're ignored once again. Continue as necessary. I don't know, that kind of shit makes me laugh.

But you know what doesn't make me laugh? The few moments of horrible douche-chill inducing attempts at making the kiddies laugh at the stupidest shit. Like that part where Rodin's The Thinker turns out to have some kind of dumb guy voice and starts flexing his muscles for some other lady statue (don't remember which one). He ends doing a variation on the "gun show" joke, but then ends it by flexing and saying "Fire power!" which comes off sounding like "FIYAH POWAH!" and that just made me go Yeeech!. In another part, Stiller and Adams run into three flying cherub statues. The statues are singing More Than A Woman by the Bee Gees. It's really lame, but whatever, it's harmless. But then the cherubs go on to do a white boy beat-box version that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up (I'm a hairy motherfucker). It didn't end soon enough for me. I found out from the credits that the Jonas Brothers provided the voices of the cherubs, and I know of them, but never actually heard them sing before until this movie. I guess I have to be a preteen girl to understand that whole shit. A month ago, I had to buy tickets online for my niece to these motherfuckers because my sister's computer was getting fixed. Christ, that was a fun way to spend Saturday morning. My niece was very thankful, but we'll see if she even remembers these future True Hollywood Stories by the time she leans to drive.

There's a lot of special effects in this flick, but to be honest, I don't see how this movie ended up getting the IMAX treatment and not something like Terminator Salvation, which looks to have a lot more in the way of spectacle. Oh, wait I forgot -- Amy Adams' ass. That's why. My hats off to you, IMAX guys. Nice to know which team you play on.

This flick was written by Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, which should make many a fan of the funny flock to it, but the truth is, if they're involved in a project and the title doesn't have "The State" or "Reno 911!" anywhere on it, turn away. I love those shows and Lennon and Garant seem like nice enough guys, but holy shit have they written some real 'Bage, man: The Pacifier, Taxi, Let's Go to Prison, Herbie Rides Lohan. I'm guessing writing these big movies for studios affords them the opportunity to do stuff like Reno 911!, and I'm certainly not hating on them. My friend who told me ahead of time about Ms. Adams' pants also told me about how these guys got their start writing for movies, they along with the rest of The State were commissioned to write a screenplay. So many notes were given to them by the studio executives that eventually they all got fed up and walked out -- except for Lennon and Garant. They stuck it out and now they make some big bucks writing for Hollywood. That's awesome and I wish them the best success, but damn, man, damn. Those movies? Not good. At least I'm comforted in the knowledge that Lennon makes so much bank off of his studio work that he can probably buy a hell of a lot more than $240 worth of pudding nowadays.

This one's not too bad, though, compared to their other studio screenplays. It's cute, and I had a nice good laugh every once in a while. There are certainly far worse kids flicks out there, and this one moves fast enough and has only a small acceptable amount of douchechillery in it. Then there's the lovely Amy Adams doing her thing -- along with those pants of hers. Would I see it again? No way. I would definitely freeze-frame certain parts, but that's about it.

On the other hand, the guy who directed this is named Shawn Levy, and he is not going to get the same slack I gave Lennon/Garant. This motherfucker made Just Married, Cheaper by the Dozen, and The Pink Panther remake. He does not have The State or Reno 911 or even Balls of Fury to defend himself with. He can almost go fuck himself. The reason I say "almost" is because he cast a certain adorable & cute red-headed actress in this movie, and I think you know who the fuck I'm talking about.

So there you go, Amy Adams. You got me to pay for a movie I'd never bother even spending more than one second to watch on television. Please try not to do that again. Eventually, you'll be caught drinking baby blood or driving drunk and yelling about the Jews or something else horrible that will make it harder for me to continue crushing on you. But until then, you're doing all right by me.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Chick-fil-A like a mutha

This past Mother's Day, some of the family got together to have a small barbecue. The other mothers in attendance aside from my own mom included my sister and my cousin, both whom I had grown up with in the same house. As teenagers, their cinematic diet included slasher movies, R-rated teen sex comedies and the occasional dirty stand-up compilation. It was a wicked pleasure to be able to watch these "grown-up" movies with them, most of the time without my parents' knowledge. Times change, though, and they are now very much Mommies. My cousin still loves scary movies, but my sister doesn't have the stomach for them. They've both also become regular churchgoers, and that's become a part of their life. I guess it's that whole trying-to-raise-their-kids-properly kinda thing.

Anyway, that Sunday as I munched on my meal with two different generations of mamas, I listened to my sister and cousin extol the virtues of a particular film titled Fireproof. That made me curious, so I asked my sister if she'd let me borrow her copy (of COURSE, she would have a copy), and here I go with a long rundown on the whole flick. For those who don't want to read the whole thing, I'll spoil the ending now: Jesus wins. Okay, now for the rest of the movie.

Fireproof begins with shots of a little girl's room, and we hear the little girl and her mom talking in the background. The girl wants her dad to tuck her in, then she asks her mom if she could marry her father when she grows up. At this point we see a sign on the wall that reads "Daddy's Little Girl". After that, we find a framed photo of the little girl hugging her fireman daddy. 25 years later, we find that the girl is all grown up and married to a firefighter. So she's all fucked up with Daddy issues.

Kirk Cameron plays the firefighter husband (who I'm going to call Mike Seaver) and we're introduced to him chewing out a rookie for leaving a partner alone during a fire. We know this because he tells him "You never leave your partner, especially in a fire", and you realize this shit is going to have a double meaning in this movie. Meanwhile, Daddy's Little Girl (her name is Cat) works in public relations for a hospital and for the sake of the audience, brings us up to speed by telling her nurse friend a bunch of shit that she already probably knows: "Do you know it's been a year since my mom's stroke? I've been trying to get her a new hospital bed and wheelchair, but their insurance doesn't cover it. It's so frustrating for my dad, he wants to help her too but he can't afford it either." Then this handsome doctor shows up and starts flirting with her. Thankfully, the two black nurses watching this whole event decide to clue in the dim bulbs in the audience by saying "If I didn't know any better, I'd say the doctor has a thing for Cat." And if you were to guess that these two nurses then nod their heads and go "Mmmm-hmm!" afterwards, then give yourself a bell!

Mike Seaver comes home and he wants breakfast, but no one's gone grocery shopping. He gives Cat shit about that, and she counters with the fact that his job allows him 48 hours off after working 24, so you know, that's plenty of time to go to the store. This escalates and we find out that she's been trying to get him to do some fixing up on the house, and he suggests that she should use her money for that, because he considers that kinda stuff a "preference" and besides, he's been saving up to buy a boat with his cash. Later on, Seaver goes to work out with his lieutenant, but mostly just bitches at him about how he thinks his marriage is on the rocks. His partner, on the other hand, is pretty much living in perfect harmony with his wife.

Seaver comes home and gets pissed off because Cat ate all the pizza, which he might have a point about because that looked like a large and she ate the whole fuckin' thing. He evens it out by making a dick move of his own by blowing out a scented candle that Cat had just lit. Another argument escalates and we find out that she's been aware of his perusing the internet for more than just pictures of boats. He blows up (a little too strongly) and practically lays the smackdown on the little lady. She tells him she wants a divorce, and now it's fuckin' on. How on? It's so on, that when Seaver goes to bed, he does that shit angrily. He pulls off his shoes and throws them down on the floor, pulls the covers off hard, and slams the door before hitting the hay. I bet he slept with his face all tensed up, making the mad face like Grrr! This is a prime display of anger not seen since Showgirls, when Elizabeth Berkley stabbed the shit out of that soda lid with her straw and then poured the fuck out of a ketchup bottle onto some french fries. Grrr!

There's an interesting scene later on, where we intercut between Seaver bitching to his lieutenant, while Cat is telling all her friends about her marriage problems over dinner. That felt very true to me. I hate to get all Men Are Like This, Women Are Like That, but I think that's a big difference between men and women. A guy will probably talk to only one other guy, someone he really trusts -- a real Bro -- about his problems, and even then in relative privacy. A woman? Blabs that shit out to a whole gaggle of ladies in a public place, like this was fuckin' Oprah or something. The best part is that Seaver tells his friend that he bets his wife is currently crying and having a group hug with her lady friends about the whole deal. Cut to his wife crying and having a group hug with her lady friends.

So two groups of young douchebags decide to have a street race and end up crashing at a railroad crossing. One car is out of danger but the other is stuck on the tracks. The girls inside can't get out and sure enough a train is on the way, so Seaver, the other firefighters and a bunch of bystanders (including a U.S. Marine -- AMERICA, FUCK YEAH!) end up lifting and pushing the vehicle to safety just before it crosses. It's a pretty cool scene, and it ends with a genuine Holy Shit moment when one firefighter is so close to the passing train it knocks his helmet off. For a brief second I thought the motherfucker got decapitated, and apparently he thought so too because afterwards we find him sitting down and crying, thanking God for still having a fuckin' head on his shoulders. Seriously though, there was an instant where I thought I was watching a Christian movie about love and romance that happened to feature a motherfucker's head getting lopped off. That shit would've made me jump out of my seat going "OHHH! CHRISTIAN MOVIES ARE AWESOME!!!".

Back at the station, a discussion between Seaver and one of the firefighters follows. We find out that Seaver is agnostic, or *an* agnostic, whatever the fuck the proper grammar for the use of that word is. We also find out that one of his fellow firefighters is an atheist, and I kept waiting for a moment in the movie where that guy gets owned by falling debris or something and realizes the errors of his non-believing ways. But no, it never happens, the movie doesn't make that kind of judgment on him and I thought that was cool.

Even Mel Gibson couldn't resist pulling some shit in The Passion of the Christ when he had one of the other dying crucified guys basically telling Jesus Christ that he wasn't shit. Here you have a guy rejecting Christ to his face, damning himself to a lonely death and a terrible afterlife. He won't know God's love or the kingdom of Heaven after he dies. That was one of the saddest moments to me, and I thought a pretty strong one -- until a vulture swoops down and tears his eye out of the socket. That's right, according to Mel Gibson, it wasn't enough punishment for this guy, a motherfuckin' vulture had to come down and chomp on his fuckin' eyeball for you to get the point. It's like "Ha ha, that's what you get for not accepting the Lord!". You know what? I liked that movie, but that was an asshole move on Gibson's part and I think it says a lot about the dude in real life. So fuckin' high and mighty, are ya? Yeah, whatever. Go drive drunk and get another chick pregnant, you great example, you. The only thing that will make your divorce sweeter is if your ex-wife's attorneys are all Jewish, that would be pretty fuckin' hilarious.

But if Mike Seaver and Cat get divorced that would be sad, so Mike goes to his parents for advice. Apparently he doesn't want to hear anything his mother has to say, because it gets to the point that this asshole kicks her out of the living room. He couldn't give two shits about her thoughts on the situation. Rather than give his son a backhand smack for disrespecting Moms like that, Mike's dad calmly explains that she's only trying to help. Mike and his father then take a walk in the woods and have a talk about his impending divorce, comparing it to marital problems that Mike's parents had themselves a couple years ago. Mike's dad explains to him that what ultimately saved their marriage was working the Lord into their lives, and maybe if he opens his heart to Jesus, things could improve. At this point, they discover a cross surrounded by wooden stumps off the trail. Supposedly it's a worship area for an old summer camp that used to be in the area, but since this movie is set in Georgia, I suspect this may have been a different kind of cross for a different kind of gathering, and they just never got around to using (read: burning) it.

Mike's dad asks him to hold off on the divorce for 40 days, he wants to send him something in the mail that may help save the marriage and will take that amount of time to use it in its entirety. So it can't be a vibrator, then. Instead, it turns out to be a journal filled with handwritten advice from his father. It's called "The Love Dare" and each page contains something Mike has to do for his wife for that particular day. It's starts off with things like not talking back to your wife or doing something nice for her. But each time he does something, it gets thrown back in his face. So like, he'll make her a cup of coffee for work and she just keeps on walking, ignoring it. Part of the problem is that the damage has already been done, and the other part is that Cat's fuckin' nurse pals have suggested to her that he's buttering her up just so he could divorce her without losing much of his money and property in the process.

More stuff happens that I'm skipping through, like "comic" relief in the form of the various going-ons at the station with the chubby firefighters, more heart-to-hearts between Mike and his lieutenant (also a devout Christian) about stuff like marriage being a lifelong covenant that shouldn't be broken (at one point gluing both a salt and pepper shaker together to make a point -- don't pull them apart or you'll break one of them or both), and more of Mike getting his random acts of kindness thrown back in his face by his wife. Then he goes back to talk with his father.

His father brings up God again, telling Mike that it doesn't matter if he saves lives everyday or is an honest and relatively decent person. If he doesn't accept Jesus Christ and live by God's standards, well, he's burning in Hell for all eternity. That's pretty much what he tells Mike, and I'll be honest with you, it bothered me. For the record, I guess it's safe to say that I'm agnostic, or *an* agnostic, whatever the fuckin' proper grammar is for that statement. I'm not sure if there is a God, but I really hope there is. I really don't want everything to just go fuckin' black after we die, that would suck. But then, how the fuck would you know anyway? You'd be fucking dead. But at least you'd be at peace. No more worries, no more problems. Then some creep would break into the funeral home and start boning you up the ass. IT NEVER ENDS! IT NEVER ENDS! That's an old Sam Kinison bit, by the way. Just giving credit where credit is due.

So it bothers me to hear that people who don't rape or murder or touch kids are going to spend eternity burning in the fires of Hades with those same motherfuckers, howling in torment and knowing nothing but pain forever and ever just because they didn't make like Arnold at the end of End of Days and do the arms-spread-and-head-tilted-up-please-God-help-me deal. Really? It's that cut and dried? So then you mean to tell me that a guy can spend his life sheltering the poor, feeding the hungry, saving lives, etc, but let's say he was an atheist or agnostic. When he dies, he goes to Hell? Meanwhile, some guy who raped old ladies, sliced up little boy's testicles, and pisses in Holy Water everyday -- let's say he repents and accepts Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, he gets to go to Heaven? I'll let Mike's father answer that for me:

"His standards are so high that he considers hatred to be murder and lust to be adultery...saving someone from a fire does not make you right with God. You've broken his commandments, and one day you'll answer to him for that".

I can understand damning the atheists, most of those guys are assholes anyway, just as bad as religious extremists. I don't like anyone who thinks they're so fuckin' sure about everything, no matter which side. Have a little doubt in your life, people. But can't you give us agnostics some slack? We're willing to accept the possibility, man. You don't even have to give us front row seats to the Best Show in Town, just give us the shitty nose-bleed section, that will be cool enough. I can accept that. I can accept having to spend eternity in the cheap seats of Heaven. I won't bitch about not being allowed in the V.I.P section, honest, I won't. I'll go "Oh well, that's what I get for not totally getting into the God thing back when I should have". I don't pretend to know anything about this shit, I'm admitting to being rather uninformed and wanting to know more about the details of this shiznit, but so far I'm more disturbed about it than anything.

Whatever. So Mike Seaver tells his father that for the past 20 days, he's had his showings of love and affection constantly rejected, likening his treatment by his wife as being spat upon daily. Mike's dad then tells Mike that that is exactly what he is doing to God -- rejecting his constant love and affection. So Mike is all like "Damn, Dad. You just dropped some major fuckin' science on me." Count one more on the "Converted" list.

Mike tells the lieutenant, which makes the dude really happy because he's got a new friend to bro out about Jesus with. He then confesses that his perfect marriage wasn't so perfect a few years back, he too had problems with his wife but after becoming a godly man that all changed for the better. Meanwhile, Mike's wife has been becoming a little too chummy with Dr. Lothario, having lunches with him and all but giving him foot jobs under the table. She also tells him about the problems she's been having buying a wheelchair and special bed for her ailing mother, and Dr. Lothario's like "No problem, I'll put some money in. 'Cause that's the kind of guy I am". All this motherfucker needs is a cheesy smile with a sparkles coming from it.

Mike and the firefighters go to a blazing house and Mike saves a little girl inside. It's okay, but the train scene was much better. Too many crying mothers in this sequence. We get it, lady -- she's your baby and she's in there. Mike gets injured and goes to the hospital. Cat heads over to see him, and guess who happens to be treating Mike when she walks up to his bed? If you guessed Dr. Lothario, then give yourself another bell! So you have an awkward moment where both Dr. Lothario and Cat look at each other wondering if they could make it more obvious to Mike that they're not strangers to each other's company. They don't, and Mike doesn't pick up on it.

Later on, Mike is recuperating at home and surfing the web, looking at boats. Just then, a pop-up ad appears on-screen with a girl's face and the words "WANNA SEE" below her. That's as porno as you're going to get in a PG-rated Christian movie. Mike struggles in a battle between his love of God and his aching blue balls, and decides to walk away and pick up the Love Dare book for advice. It happens to be that today's lesson is to destroy any addictions that threaten to steal your heart away from those you love. So Mike takes this to mean that he must take his computer outside and BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF IT WITH A BASEBALL BAT. I'll give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt, because watching a dude put a "Computer for Sale" ad up on the Pennysaver is far less cinematic than just having him go Buford Pusser on the motherfucker.

When Cat comes back home, she finds a huge bouquet of roses left on the table where the computer used to be, along with an envelope containing a note that reads "I Love You More!". When he wakes up from his nap, he finds that she's responded with an envelope of her own -- this one containing divorce papers. He breaks down and cries like a little bitch. Boo-hoo, my wife is leaving me. Boo-hoo, the love of my life is going away. Grow a pair, Seaver. You'd never catch Boner crying over a woman.

The next day, Cat is all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as she arrives at the medical equipment store to look over wheelchairs and beds for her mother. But to her surprise, it turns out that a chair and bed has already been bought and paid for and should be arriving at her parents' place the next day. She goes over to the hospital and thanks Dr. Lothario from the bottom of her heart for making such a nice gesture. Never mind that she didn't stick around long enough at the store to be told who bought the fucking things, she just figures it's got to be him, right? Right? You've seen movies before, you tell me.

Mike is busy cleaning up around the house and finds a Thank You card left on a table. It's from Dr. Lothario, and it's pretty much a lovey-dovey "I want to get to know you much, much better" type of note, and Mike puts two and two together. So off he goes to the hospital to give the good doctor a piece of his mind. He storms into Lothario's office and informs him that his pussy-hunting services will no longer be needed, as far as his wife is concerned. After he leaves, Dr. Lothario does the "I almost got my ass kicked" sigh of relief, reaches into his drawer and pulls out a wedding band, slipping it back onto his finger. Why, that cad!

Cat tries to chat up Dr. Lothario, but he pretty much brushes her off, now that Mike's called dibs on his property again. So she's eating lunch all by her lonesome until she's joined by an older nurse, and we find out where this lady is coming from when gives a silent prayer before eating. This nurse basically tells Cat in her nice old religious lady way that women who pursue married men are whores and should knock that shit off. Cat excuses herself from the table, because whore or not, who wants to hear that shit? Following that scene is a montage (MON-TAGE!) of Cat and Mike living their separate lives while still living under the same roof, all the while the Christian equivalent to those shitty songs you hear during a sad montage of a broken relationship in a romantic movie plays in the background.

After that montage, Mike notices that Cat hasn't gone to work. Instead, she's laid out in bed obviously sick with something. He asks her if she needs anything and she responds with "No, I'm okay. You can go" which is Woman for "Can't you read my mind? Yes, take care of me. I'm sick and need your help". He plays it cool though, he walks away, making her think that he's going to leave her alone to take care of herself. A while later though, he comes back with some medicine and chicken soup from muthafuckin' Chick-Fil-A, baby! Now, I've never tried the chicken soup from that place, but if it's as good as their chicken sandwiches and waffle fries, then that shit's gotta be deeeeeelicious. Anyway, she tells him that she found the Love Dare book and discovers that he's 3 days past the 40, meaning he's doing these kind acts for her because he wants to. They have a tearful chat, and she says that she's not ready to fully trust him and still needs some time to think about whether or not to go through with the divorce. And by now that fuckin' soup is cold. But I bet it still tastes really fuckin' good.

The next day, Cat goes back to the medical equipment store to buy some linens for her mom's bed. She comments on how it's the only thing Dr. Lothario didn't pay for in his generosity. The clerk informs Cat that of the $24,300 that was given to pay for the wheelchair and bed, only $300 came from Dr. Lothario. Which can only mean...

GASP! SURPRISE! (not really, otherwise no bell for you)

It was her husband who paid for it all! That's right, he used the savings he was going to use to buy his boat and blew it all on his wife's burden. Not only that, he did it two weeks ago, which would mean he did that even before she handed him the divorce papers. Don't I feel like the fucking asshole.

So Cat runs back home, puts her wedding ring back on and heads for the fire station, where she tearfully apologizes for being such a bitch and they both run up to each other to do the lovers-embraced-against-the-beautiful-sunset-while kissing thing. By the way, for that shot Kirk Cameron paid to have his wife flown to the set so they could put a wig on her and dress her like the actress who played Cat, that way he wouldn't have to kiss another woman. For reals.

We then dissolve to them standing in front of that old unburned Klan cross, which I take to mean that you can add one more to the "Converted" list along with Mike Seaver. Mike and Cat then go to visit his parents, and while the ladies are busy setting up dinner, Mike and his father take another walk for a chat. Mike thanks his father for writing that Love Dare book for him, and compliments the old man on his genius on keeping a relationship together. Mike's father then reveals to him that the Love Dare was all his mother's doing. She had done it to his father to save the marriage, and figuring Mike would dismiss it had it come from her, he rewrote it in his handwriting. Mike breaks down and cries, realizing what a complete fucking ass he has been to his mom. He then runs back to the house and tearfully apologizes to her for being such a douche.

Mike and Cat then renew their vows in front of that old Klan cross. We fade to black, we get Romans 5:8 printed up on the screen, followed by a website address: During the end credits, we're given the address again, followed by advertisements for Fireproof: The Novel, a guide called Fireproof Your Life, and a Love Dare book. Personally, I'm waiting for Fireproof: The Video Game. The credits end with "TO GOD BE THE GLORY!", and the address one last time. If you didn't get it by then, then I don't know what to do with you. The End.

This was pretty much a lame Lifetime movie with strong Christian themes in it. A lot of people (like my sister) dug this movie, and I'm guessing every fan and champion of this film all pray to the same God. I appreciate the message about keeping a marriage strong, keeping the home fires burning and all that, but the movie should make the message, not the other way around. This premise given to better filmmakers would make, uh, a better film. On a related note, water's wet and the sky is blue. But what do I know, I'm not married and this was made for married couples. Maybe if I was I'd get more out of this. This movie cost $500,000 and made over $30,000,000 so it's obviously working for someone.

This movie came out around the same time as Bill Maher's anti-religion documentary, Religulous and ended up making twice what Maher's movie made. If that's not some God-helping-out-Ned-Flanders shit for you, I don't know what is. I'm glad that shit happened to Maher, because as good and/or convincing that movie may be, I just can't stand the smug asshole who stars in it anymore. He was cool back in the day, but no more. Fuck that guy. Motherfucker used to be my homie, used to be my ace. Now I wanna slap the taste out your mouth. Nigga bow down to the row. Fuckin' me, now I'm fuckin' you, little ho. Oh, don't think I forgot. Let you slide. Let me ride. Just another homicide. Man, remember when rap was fuckin' good? It fuckin' sucks now. It could just be that I'm getting old and I don't get it anymore. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, Fireproof. Here's a 60 second version of Fireproof. It's weird because it feels like the filmmakers took the piss out of their movie way more than originally intended, because joke footage or not, this is pretty much the movie:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Streamers hanging from the air vent? Portent of DOOM!!!

I don't know if it's a coincidence or not, but I noticed my productivity has lowered since I gave up caffeine. I used to start off an EFC writing session with a nice hot strong cup of java, but nowadays I just sleep a lot. But I'm not sleeping at the moment, so here I go.

Angels & Demons is based on Dan Brown's book of the same name, a prequel to Brown's other hit novel, The Da Vinci Code. I read both of them back-to-back last year in an attempt to finally catch up with the rest of the world. I remember liking Angels & Demons a lot more than Da Vinci, and sure enough, I feel the same way about the film adaptations.

So you have Tom Hanks' character Robert Langdon being called over to the Vatican during papal conclave to use his skills as a symbologist to help the local authorities save four kidnapped cardinals before they're executed, one every hour starting at 8pm. There's also this other pesky little problem of finding a stolen canister of powerful antimatter that is hidden somewhere in Vatican City and set to blow by midnight. Along for the ride is a scientist from the lab where the antimatter was stolen. Her name is Vittoria Vetra, she works for CERN, but more importantly, she's a hot piece of ass. As I recall from the book, her father was brutally murdered when the antimatter was stolen, but in this movie it's just some old dude she worked with who ends up getting done like Warden Smithers in Demolition Man.

That's one of the reasons I think this movie is a hell of a lot better than Da Vinci Code; the filmmakers put a lot less weight on making it as close to the book as possible and instead concentrated on just making the best movie they could make. Because the truth is that these books are simply fun page-turners, some cool shit to read on a plane or at the beach (two places where I've never read a book, by the way), but all the controversy with The Da Vinci Code ended up giving that book an aura of Seriousness and Importance it never should've fuckin' had. Unfortunately, this ended up infecting the filmmakers the first time out and what should've played as lean, mean and fast on the big screen instead came off as self-serious and ponderously paced.

But it seems this time Ron Howard and company got over that shit, they realized this ain't the fuckin' Holy Bible they're making a movie out of. Angels & Demons is a race-against-the-clock thriller and nothing more, because the filmmakers were merciless in what they took out of the book. They didn't fuck around this time, they dropped whole fuckin' characters, subplots, even what pretty much served as a catalyst for the whole story to begin with was taken out -- and it all works. It's almost as long as The Da Vinci Code but feels a hell of a lot faster. If you're a fan of the book, you might be kinda bummed at some of the stuff that was changed or didn't make it in the movie, but I guess that's what the book is for, you know?

It's also like the filmmakers didn't have much choice but to change quite a bit of the details anyway, because had they played it a lot closer to the source material, the audience might have picked up on the fact that there are a heck of a lot of similarities between both books and movies. There was a character in the Angels & Demons book called the Hassassin, and I guess one could argue that they watered down the motherfucker to some generic hired killer, but I think it was a change for the better. That character was a scary dude, and there was a lot of creepy shit about him that would have been awesome to see in a movie, but ultimately, he would've come off as the evil twin of that albino monk from The Da Vinci Code. And like I mentioned earlier, they took out the whole deal about the murdered CERN scientist being Vetra's father in Angels & Demons because that may have been a bit too close to Sophie Neveu's grandfather getting murdered at the beginning of Da Vinci. Also, they made this a sequel to the Da Vinci movie, rather than a prequel to the Da Vinci book, if that means anything.

I heard that they had to tone down a bit of the violence in this movie to get a PG-13, and I doubt that they'll ever release an unrated version, but in its current form it's pretty damn harsh for a not-R-rated flick. Quite a few motherfuckers die hard in Angels & Demons, and some of it got the audience I saw it with to gasp loudly a couple of times. There was one person in particular who was sitting behind me and I still haven't figured out two things:

1) Was this audience member genuinely freaked out or just overdoing it on purpose?

2) Was this audience member a man or woman?

The second part I ask because he/she had a peculiar sounding scream, and I haven't been able to figure out if a man or woman would make that kind of sound. I'm guessing that it was indeed a man and he was indeed scared, because that's the kind of goofy sounding scream only a man who was genuinely freaked out would make. Like, if I was walking down a dark alley (as I tend to do, for the sake of this example), and suddenly I was surrounded by flesh-eating zombies (hey, it could happen), that's probably the kind of scream I would make before they pounce on me and get all NOM NOM NOM on my fat ass. The loudest audience reaction, by the way, wasn't for an act of violence but for an act of vandalism/damage done to a book. That was pretty funny.

Something else I dug about this movie (and The Da Vinci Code, for that matter) was the lack of any kind of flirting or sexual tension or any of that We Have A Man and Woman Here, They Must Want To Fuck Eventually shit you usually have. Not that I'm against that, I like a good romance in a non-romantic movie but that shit has to feel earned, and more often than not, it isn't. Usually that bullshit feels shoehorned in, and I don't believe a bit of it. Even Dan Brown tried pulling that shit in the books and it felt fake. But I think Ron Howard and company decided that sometimes it doesn't matter if a guy runs into a beautiful baby who wants to party. I'm sure Langdon's all man and he'd like nothing better than to get it on with Amelie Poulain and Eric Bana's wife from Munich -- shit, I'd love that too -- but there's no time for love Dr. Jones, because there are more important things at stake, like finding out where the fuck the Holy Grail is or whether or not they can get to a church on time before some poor cardinal gets burned alive or keeping one step ahead of some killer albino or locating a canister of antimatter before that shit turns Vatican City into a smoking hole in the ground. We only got 4 minutes to save the world!

Tom Hanks is good here as usual, and I found it interesting the way his character was introduced. He's doing laps in a swimming pool, I guess as a reference to one of the books referring to Langdon as having a swimmer's body. But I think it's also a way for Hanks to show off his trim frame in a Speedo, showing us that while there was a brief period when he was getting kinda chubby, the motherfucker is now back in prime Turner & Hooch shape. Incidentally, he was sporting some Speedo-looking shit in Turner & Hooch as well. I think there was also a dog, I don't know. I was too busy hungrily enamored with Hanks' sweet ass.

I watched Angels & Demons at a theater offering digital projection, and it looked beautiful presented that way, but every once in a while there was some kind of quick split-second flicker of black that would throw me off and I'm sure it wasn't from the movie. This happened once before at another digital showing I went to once, it was for Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and that was even worse because the screen would go black for two or three seconds. I don't know what that was all about, but I guess that's sort of the digital equivalent of missing frames or scratches in a film print. Except when a film print does that, it actually adds character. When a digital print does it, I'm fucking annoyed.

Is that how it's going to be 30 years from now, when the Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez of the next generation decide to make their version of Grindhouse, calling it Multiplex and having it consist of 20 minutes of commercials and a trailer for some Matthew McConaughey-style romantic comedy, followed by only one feature presentation, and instead of scratches and jump cuts, we're going to get black-outs and pixelation, and the soundtrack will feature the sounds of cell phone conversations and the clickity-clacks of text messengers? I guess everyone will then rave and say it reminds them of a simpler time of moviegoing. I've seen the future, baby: it is murder.

Anyway, I liked Angels & Demons. The End.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Does this mean that the even-numbered sequels are going to be the shitty ones now?

One of the very few positive things about being unemployed is that you don't have a set time to go to bed or get up. It also means that if you find out at the last minute that there is a 3:30 am showing of Star Trek playing 20 minutes away from you in motherfucking IMAX, you don't go "Oh damn, too bad I have to go to work in a few hours", but rather go "Fuck yeah dude, I am fucking THERE!". And there I was.

Every time I've gone to this particular IMAX, the lines would stretch out all over the place, but for this early morning screening there wasn't anyone around to queue up. The only other time I've ever witnessed something like this was when I went to see Speed Racer IMAX on a Saturday night and I was literally the only person in attendance. When you add up the fact that Speed Racer had only come out a week earlier and was playing in the popular IMAX format with the fact that I was alone in an IMAX movie theater on a Saturday night, you have yourself an incredibly sad equation, my friend. But whereas that auditorium was empty because nobody gave a shit about computed animated car racing, this one was nearly empty because most people are asleep and have work the next morning. I counted about 30 heads in the huge auditorium, and it was kinda cool to be able to watch a big summer movie on opening night -- one that I'm pretty positive is going to do very well this weekend -- and not have to deal with the large crowds and all that other bullshit. Usually you have to take one with the other. Anyway, I just got back about an hour ago and I'm getting tired, so let's move on to the movie itself.

Star Trek is neither a remake, a reboot or a prequel to the original series. Instead, it's set in an alternate timeline, Back to the Future style. It acknowledges all the Star Trek stuff we've seen before in the old reruns and the movies while still managing to be its own thing. It's a pretty nifty approach, I think. It's the filmmakers' way of telling the hardcore Trekkies that if they think the movie is shit and hate what was done to their beloved characters, they can just shrug it off as some non-canonical bullshit. For example, in this movie Spock and Uhura have a thing going on behind closed doors, which I'm sure would drive many a Trek nerd mad since in the series those two never went further than casual flirting. But if they take a deep breath and remember that this is just an alternate timeline caused by some crazy shit that happened in space 25 years ago, and that the "prime" versions of Spock and Uhura are not at all knockin' da boots, then all should be fine.

This movie is about the beginning of the U.S.S. Enterprise's adventures, the crew fresh out of Starfleet Academy and still wet behind the ears. They find themselves in a situation involving some Romulans who are out blowing up other Federation starships for reasons that become clear later in the film. The Romulan leader is played by Eric Bana and he's a little disappointing, unfortunately. He's certainly no Khan Noonien Singh as far as Star Trek villainy is involved, which is kinda odd since Bana's character does something here that's pretty fuckin' harsh, probably more fucked up than what Khan did and yet he and the filmmakers failed to make me feel much of anything toward him for doing it. Dude, it's fuckin' Chopper! You have Chopper playing the bad guy in a Star Trek movie and he still comes off bland? How can you fuck that up? The good news is that that's pretty much the only thing this movie fucks up.

Early on in the flick, we also get to see Kirk and Spock as kids, and I was happy to find out that it didn't annoy the shit out of me at all, as I feared was going to happen. I don't know how director J.J. Abrams managed to pull that off, but he even managed to use "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys during one Lil' Kirk scene without me screaming out "What the fuck is THIS bullshit?!". No, I was too busy tripping out on the cool car chase and the cool combo of production design and visual f/x (the farmland of Iowa with huge distant futuristic buildings in the background, barely visible through smog and haze). Also I think it works because you totally get that this isn't about how cute to see that troublesome tyke steal a car, it's about how this little dude has daddy issues (his died on the day he was born) and he's acting out in the most dangerous and destructive way possible -- stealing his asshole stepdad's prized classic ride and taking it for a one-way ride. I'm sure if the stepdad wasn't such an asshole and gave the little kid a ride in it every once in a while, he wouldn't have to worry about the tiny motherfucker driving that shit off a fuckin' cliff. You don't even see the stepdad, you just hear his voice, but that voice tells you everything. And you just know this isn't Kirk's first stepdad either, he's probably had his fair share of poor father figures. I'm sure he's had his face shoved into a mustard jar a couple times in his life.

So you have Kirk with the daddy issues, and then you have Lil' Spock with his mommy issues. His mom's a human and his dad's a Vulcan, making him a half-breed mutt in the eyes of his green-blooded peers. It also means that despite how hard he tries, he's still capable of having emotions, and the other Vulcan kids know that, so they keep taunting him about his mom and about being half-human. Eventually he's had enough of their shit, so he turns around and beats the fuck out of them. It's like they might not know how to feel emotional pain, but Spock is sure going to teach these little bastards how to feel some fuckin' physical pain, and that's nice to see -- harsh physical violence towards children. Warms the cockles of my heart, it does.

Spock's mom is played by Winona Ryder, and for some reason I was saddened by seeing her here. I don't know, maybe it's the whole nostalgia thing working against me once again. This chick used to be THE girl, back in the 90's. I've always been a fan; maybe it's the combo of her looks along with the fact that she's an honest-to-God geek. But not in a Kristen Bell finding-the-geek-angle-and-working-it-to-gather-more-fans sorta way. No, Ryder was a genuine nerd who happened to be pretty cute. Then she went nuts and started shoplifting and the fun ended. I'm sure she took the part just because she loved the idea of being involved in Star Trek, the same way that she did Alien Resurrection because she just wanted to be in an Alien movie. You know what, thinking about it a couple of hours after having seen the movie, I was probably just bummed out because she's only in a couple of scenes and then to add insult to injury, they gave her gray hair and wrinkles like this was fuckin' storytelling time in Edward Scissorhands or some shit.

Come on, man -- it's 2009, the 21st century, and Winona Ryder is in a movie that isn't going straight-to-video for a change, she's in a huge blockbuster summer movie and she didn't even have to co-star with that fuckin' Adam Sandler to do it, yet they couldn't just have her show up looking like Winona Ryder? You mean these motherfuckers couldn't just let her be and explain away her youthful appearance to something as vague as "Hey man, it's the future"? You know what, fuck you J.J. Abrams. Alias and Lost can suck my fuckin' tiny flaccid sad excuse for a penis, those shows are prime fucking Bage of the Gar variety. I've never seen those programs, but I don't care, they suck anyway. It's a good thing I like the rest of this movie, Abrams. Otherwise, oooh. Consider yourself lucky, punk.

Back to the movie. Even though this is trying to be its own thing, it's still very respectful and reverential to the original series. I know Abrams has said that he's not a Star Trek fan at all and that he's making this primarily for non-fans, but there's definitely a lot of stuff in here that fans or even those fairly familiar with Trek would get. They throw in classic lines like McCoy saying "Damn it Jim, I'm a doctor not a..." or Scotty doing his "I'm giving her all she's got Captain!" but there's also stuff like old sound effects and music themes put in there, if you can find them. They even managed to get Kirk to go to bed with a sexy green-skinned woman. My favorite reference would have to be this one, though: Kirk, Sulu and a crewman have to go to the planet Vulcan to stop some bad shit from happening, so they get their gear and put on their jumpsuits -- Kirk in blue, Sulu in green, and the crewman in red. If you're familiar enough with the whole "red shirt" deal in the series, you fuckin' KNOW where this is going, and sure enough it goes there.

One big difference between this movie and the original Star Trek movies; the other members of the crew have a lot more to do in this one flick than they did in all six movies. Scotty and Chekov have their moments to shine, Uhura has her thing going on with Spock (while fighting off Kirk's advances) and motherfuckin' Sulu gets to go on an adventure with Kirk that begins with skydiving (spacediving?) to planet Vulcan and culminates with him getting into some swordplay. Shit man, Sulu didn't get to do anything in the movies until part 6, when he became Captain of his own ship and even then he was only in the beginning and end of that shit. The movies and even the series were pretty much The Kirk/Spock/McCoy Show, but I have a feeling that if this version of Star Trek gets its own cycle of sequels, we'll get a lot more equal treatment going on. Between this movie, Mission: Impossible 3, and those fuckin' television shows of his, it looks like J.J. Abrams seems to dig on the whole teamwork theme and that's a good thing.

Aside from the lack of a strong villain and a poor use of Winona Ryder, I really enjoyed Star Trek. It's a very good example of the best kind of summer movie: fast, fun, and none of it requires you to turn your brain off to enjoy it. I hate having to use the "turn your brain off" excuse, and thankfully this movie doesn't require me to go that way. I hope there are more 3:30 am showings of summer movies close to my hood, it's certainly easier to get a seat this way and you have a cooler group of people to deal with, but most of all, it's just nice to be able to go into a movie when it's pitch black outside and come out just as the sun is starting to rise. Because I like watching sunrises as well as sunsets. Because I'm a girl.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I can't think of a fuckin' title for this fuckin' shit.

Been busy with some other engagements and responsibilities, and I haven't really been watching any movies in the meantime. I have been watching the entire run of the original series of Star Trek, though. I'm kinda hyping myself up for the movie coming out this weekend, waiting for the inevitable disappointment. Whatever.

Anyway, I've always been a Quentin Tarantino fan, but have been feeling more and more alone in my fandom as the years go by. That's backlash for ya, I guess. First everyone loves you and then everyone seems to want you to fail. While I may use negative language, I'm certainly not a negative motherfucker and that's why I look forward to that WW2 flick of his coming out this summer and I hope it's as cool as his other movies. Here's a vid that a buddy of mine sent me a link to and I got a big kick out of it. Maybe you will too. Probably not, but at least I've posted something here again. It certainly got me in the mood to watch all his movies again, and maybe I will since it's been a long while. Until then, I still have those old Star Trek episodes to finish.