Saturday, September 24, 2011

Predators: the Hunt of Who Could Care Less

i didn't go into Predators with high expectations, at best i was hoping for something mindless and fun, instead i got an action movie so by the numbers, it eventually became a game of guess the cliche. And it's disappointing because it could have been good.
i love the two Predator films, whether hunting Arnold through the jungles of Central America or hunting Danny Glover through the concrete jungle, the Predator is just a badass movie villain. This movie gets a strike against it for ignoring Predator 2 and trying to take its place Aliens style.

Onto more serious criticism though, i was at first excited and then hugely disappointed when Topher Grace's character revealed he was a doctor. "A doctor!" i thought, "Oh boy, perhaps this is going to be like Cube, each character having their own role in keeping the group alive against the Predator threat! Like maybe there will be a survival expert and a...." But then, i quickly realized everyone else was military, gangster, or some other kind of cold hearted killer, so of course Topher was going to turn out to be the worst out of all of them.
And in case if you didn't figure this out right away, Adrien Brody is kind enough to repeatedly point out how out of place Topher is, and how that maybe Earth is better off without the likes of killers like them.

The next big problem would be Laurence Fishburne, now i don't mind his character, he played it well, the crazy loner that's managed to survive on this hellish planet, my problem was him trying to kill everyone.
Sure it makes sense, giving him a better chance of surviving and blah blah blah, but really, can't there be a psycho scavenger that doesn't try to kill everyone for once? Him getting killed too, come on now, anyone to survive that long would likely be well respected by the Predators at that point.
And while it isn't really fair to blame the messenger, i'm still going to count it against Mr. Fishburne for being the one to tell us that, the Predators in this film are (to borrow a line from Mr. Plinkett) biggerer and betterer than the Predators in the previous films.

Now see, this, this is no more frightening than this:

Two movies set up how badass these things were.

Dragging the original Predator through the mud and setting up some lame caste war isn't going to win you any favours, especially since you already had it established with the title that this movie involved a group of these things hunting, it was already bigger and better than the original two.

Thankfully this turned out to be marketing stunt.

Honestly though, that scene in the trailer is what put me off watching the movie until recently, when i had completely forgotten about it.

Now other than Topher Grace's imminent betrayal, the most offense part would likely be the showdown between Predator and Yakuza.

Well, according to Kill Bill, this scene is totally spot on! But in reality, i'm a bit skeptical of modern day Yakuza being proficient in sword fighting. Even better, he had some of fingers cut off (for talking too much, ha ha), which the Yakuza originally did in order to make someone useless with sword. It's just, with so much other bullshit going on, did we really need the only Asian character to fall into this stereotype.

There was something i liked about this scene though, when Mr. Yakuza was cut, his blood was glowing red, much like the Predator's glowing green. Now this can be taken as artistic license that these guys are every bit as much as monsters are the Predators, but given the rest of this film, it was likely just a colouring error.

In fact, all the characters were pretty much unlikeable monsters, i mean, Adrien Brody and his Batman voice, notMichelle Rodriguez and her annoying cliches, silent Mr. Yakuza, the two psycho killers, and well, Machete. Oh, and i nearly forgot about the African guy, he's a killer too, and dies pretty unremarkably.

The only likable one of the group was the selfless and brave Nikolai. Though given the rest of the characters, perhaps we were suppose to dislike him for being Russian? i don't know, he wasn't bad, just a solider, and he wasn't annoying. He sacrificed himself to save the others.
RIP Nikolai, you deserved a better film than this.

The biggest disappointment would have to be the line "You're one ugly mother fucker" never once being uttered. Every other cliche in the book, sure, but not this? Have you gone mad? In fact, my mind refuses to accept this, and i imagine this is what the original Predator said to Adrien Brody before Brody frees him.

Aw don't worry Adrien Brody, i still love you.

While this doesn't match up to Predator or Predator 2, it's still not a terrible film, and certainly not as offense or cliche as AvP was. i'd maybe leave it on the background if it ever happened to be on TV, but it's not engaging by any means.

One last minor complaint:

How the fuck did they not see this in the first clearing?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Machete Does Revenge

So in my reviews of both the Green Hornet and Crank 2, i brought up how they both failed completely to understand revenge. There is no vengeance in these movies. Machete on the hand, well Machete understands revenge completely.

Now, the story is about Machete getting set up as a scape goat for a fake assassination to boost a racists senator's ratings. But this only happens because years earlier Steven Seagal had killed Machete's family and ruined him as a Federale. And that there is the conflict we're building up to, sure he makes Booth suffer for setting him up, but the fact that he wasn't the one that actually kills Booth doesn't matter. What does matter is that he kills Steven Seagal at the end.
There are other examples as well, April shoots the Senator for killing her father. This turns out to be a fake out, but she never finds out, and more importantly, she was such a noncharacter it doesn't matter.
Michelle Rodriguez gets to kill Von for taking her eye.
Hell, the Senator gets to kill Booth for arranging the fake assassination and ruining his life by it all being exposed.

Now if Steven Seagal had not been in this movie, and everything else played out the same, this would have been disappointing. Booth would have been his target, and Booth, as mentioned was taken out the Senator. Now Machete could go on to kill the Senator for being a racist bastard, but he has no personal ties to it at this point.

The only thing i didn't like was the ending. There's just some tacked on scenes, like the Senator not really being dead, but then poetically getting killed by his own machinations (which was nice, i will admit) and then Machete going off on his hog with stripper-cop Alba, setting up this isn't the end, more Machete stories can be told! But this of course ties into the whole grindhouse thing, so it's forgiven.
But as a serious drama (seriously!) it ends with this scene:

Machete, it just works.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Krayt Call

Blu-ray Star Wars can't come soon enough!

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Lyrically, or at least the way it's sung, this song reminds me more of Jonna Lee's solo stuff. Which isn't bad, not at all, but it is distinctly different from the other songs we've heard out of iamamiwhoami. Musically though, this is what drew me into this so much, it's so dark and chaotic. So much synth and sex, it's magical.
"Can not wait until, I get my hands on you. We can do the things we've said. ooooo"
i also really love that the video is a musical beautiful agony.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Failed Redemption and Gay Jokes (or the Green Hornet)

Going into this film, i had no idea it was written by Seth Rogan, all i had heard is that it was funny, and similar to Iron Man. Well, it does have a few gags that work. As for Iron Man, it really tries to be the same movie, without understanding what made that movie work.

Basically, we have Rogan, who starts as an annoying rich asshole, continues being an annoying rich asshole, and ends, well pretty much the same, there's no character arc, and he literally takes a back seat to Kato, the hero and decent character of this movie.

Let's start with the good though, Christoph Waltz and Michele Gondry. With a script in more competent hands than those that scribbled Pineapple Express, this could have been brilliant. i love the intro to this movie, Waltz walking in to this club owned by James Franco. Franco with his best douchy acting explain that he's not afraid of Waltz's character Chudnofsky. That's he's old and out, a disco dinosaur. It's all about being hip and having a gimmick. See, he's Danny Cleer, and he sells meth, he's Crystal Cleer, check out his glass piano. It's all just really fantastic, and Waltz sits there like he's been beaten, like he really is old and out. And then be pulls out his double barrel handgun and takes out Cleer's henchmen. He then makes Cleer cry and beg like a baby before walking out, Cleer thinking he's off the hook "Okay, yeah, let me live, I'll tell the story of your legend. Hey, you forgot your briefcase!" The club explodes as Waltz nonchalantly walks out.

Now the character of Chudnofsky is an interesting one, he's the crime lord that's managed to take over all of he city, he's dangerous, crazy, and well known. However, since he's getting older, he feels he's out of touch, no longer scary, Cleer plants the first seed of doubt, (that we see anyway) and once the Green Hornet shows up it starts growing out of control. Unlike the Hornet, Chudnofsky actually has an arc, his evolution to Bloodnofsky, and his eventual downfall. i'm not entirely sure if he's dead or just blind at the end, blind would be far more fitting, seeing as how he let a slacker in a mask get the best of him.

Now Gondry, i love me some Gondry. Eternal Sunshine... is a brilliant film, the Science of Sleep is beautiful and depressing, Be Kind Rewind was a goofy fun, and hell even Human Nature has it's merits. His actual influence in this film seems pretty minimal, there were only a handful of scenes that had his touch. The first one would have to be the display of Kato's prowess.

The next would be when Chudnofsky (not yet broken) puts a hit out on the Hornet, we get to literally see the word spread out, every time someone is informed, the camera splits and we follow both people as they go and inform someone else. It's this beautiful visual web, that shows the network of villains, it's pure Gondry.

And now the bad, which is mostly everything else.
First off we have Rogan, an unlikeable rich douche that does nothing but use his father's money to party and get laid. Eventually his father dies, and he gets tired of people telling him what a great guy he was, his father was an asshole because he didn't want him to party all the time you see. And ends up getting drunk with his father's mechanic (the only person that would admit he was a bastard) and decides to behead his father's statue. After this Rogan gets into an altercation with a gang straight out of Streets of Rage, and nearly gets his dumb ass killed. Sure his intentions were good, saving a random couple the gang were after, but what the hell did he think he was going to do? Which seems to be the theme of this movie actually. People doing stupid ineffectual things because they think it's right.
Luckily Kato was there to take out an entire armed gang and save our doughy hero. The cops show up and they take off and manage to escape by seriously injuring a cop with their indestructible car.
Apparently Rogan's father was making his cars bulletproof to protect himself against Chudnofsky's influence. Or something.
So now high off the rush, armed with the knowledge that Kato is a genius mechanic and deadly martial arts master, Rogan decides they should use this to fight crime. So all he's is bringing to the table is cash. He doesn't even come up with the name. They get the idea that instead of posing as good guys, they'll convince everyone that they're bad guys as well, so then they won't look like vigilantes and the criminals won't have any leverage against them. It's a clever idea, but it not a new idea the film brings the Hornet mythos, that's always been there.
But things start to fall apart around here, originally the Green Hornet didn't kill anyone, which is why he's armed with the gas gun, here however, they do kill quite a few people, and this is before the final two baddies, just random thugs, dead. And this completely negates the reason for the gas gun. The only reason this thing exists is so Rogan can shoot himself with it for that joke in the trailer. Well, also so Bloodnofsky has a reason to wear a gasmask as part of his ensemble, but again that only happens so they can show how impractical it is, and make a joke about the lenses fogging up. And it could be a funny gag, but the set up is just convoluted. There's no reason for the gas gun to exist. Green Hornet and Kato are straight up murderers in this.

Another joke that doesn't quite work is Cameron Diaz. While making the newspaper focus on the Green Hornet, they hire her to research crime and predict the Hornet's next move, and she unknowingly becomes the brains behind the operation. It's a funny set up, but it never really has any payoff. She's also in the movie to provide a love interest and tension between Rogan and Kato. She sees Kato as the smart and charming man that he is, and seems interested in him, but spurns him for no real reason later. And all the while Rogan sexually harasses her at every chance he gets, and at least (and rightfully so) she despises him because of this. But i just can't help feeling that she rejects Kato, because if the lead doesn't get a woman, then to hell with the secondary character! Poor Kato.

Inevitably Hornet and Kato have a falling out, slightly over Diaz, mostly over Rogan being useless and stupid. They get in a fight, and Kato is cleaning the floor with Rogan, though not wanting to hurt him, but then suddenly they fall in the pool, and oh no, what's this, the amazing superman that is Kato cannot swim, he has a flaw, how totally not obvious! Unsurprisingly Rogan learns nothing from this.

After this Kato continues on as a the Hornet, and Rogan uses the paper and investigates some stories that his father oddly covered up. Now this could have been an interesting turn, Kato being the man on the street, Diaz planning what to do next, and Rogan running the paper, and fighting crime as his father tried to do, but some type of story arc is too much to hope for i guess.

Rogan eventually realizes the crooked DA had been blackmailing his father, and letting Chudnofsky rise into power unchallenged. Not only that, but he was the one that had killed Rogan's father. Here we have the real villain of the film! So Rogan agrees to meet with him to record him and expose everything, but of course he fucks that up. In the meantime Bloodnofsky, completely transformed into a super villain, complete with get-ups and catchphrases, hires the Hornet to kill Rogan.
Now, i'm not sure if this was "We can rule the galaxy as father and son" type of thing, or if he was planning on killing him after he assassinates Rogan. Plot wise it's fairly suspect, but i suppose Bloodnosfky isn't exactly sound of mind right then and there.

So the big showdown happens, there are car chases, and guns, and rolls of paper, and other than that last bit, it's fairly exciting. The problem however, comes down to the villains. Kato kills (or least blinds) Bloodnofsky, and then kills the DA with their wrecked car. At one point Rogan randomly develops kung-fu powers, and distracts Bloodnofsky so Kato can finish him, but, really? It's fucking Crank 2 all over again, the person with no reason for vengeance is getting the kill. i mean shit, the only reason Kato seems to have gotten involved in any of this is boredom and a paycheck. Nothing about the climax was satisfying.

So we end up with a plotless film, about a useless asshole, with no redemption, and far too many denials about being gay. It wasn't funny the first time guys.
Even Iron Man 2 wasn't this bad.

Now see, Iron Man was a great mindless action film, it had Downey, playing a rich, sexist, drunken asshole, and worse he made weapons of mass destruction. But you kind of liked him anyway, because he had charm. Eventually he does learn the errors of his ways, of his past, and is reborn
"I am Iron Man."

The second movie is terrible because not only is Downey suddenly an asshole again, but he's keeping everyone at distance, and is fucking everything up, and it's not fun to see. And worse it was all pointless, and terribly anti-climatic. And the ending battle? Well, Rourke is no Gozer.

Actually now that i think about it, i was wrong, the Green Hornet isn't trying to be Iron Man, it's trying to be Iron Man 2, and well, when you start your standards that low...

two and half out of five

Monday, June 6, 2011

Rock, Man.

Right now i'm taken aback, at how much creativity this little man in blue has spawned.
Back in 198X, did they have any idea when creating the character, when writing the songs?
How do they feel about it all now?

i'm talking about Mega Man inspired music.

The story starts with the Minibosses, an NES themed cover band, turning the beeps and boops we grew up with into epic rock, i had never payed much attention to how surprising good the music from Megaman (or other old videogames) was until these guys covered it.
Check out the ten minute Mega Man 2

The next natural progression would be lyrics, that's right, Mega Man rock with words.
Enter the Megas. The Megas are endlessly entertaining, their album starts out with a song by Mega Man, talking about how he wants to be the one that fights for justice. And then each of the level songs are sung by the boss, giving odd and wonderful emotions to these gimmicky bosses.

"Do you know what it feel like to have been built this way?
With only the power to push others away?"

The bots start out fairly cocky, but ultimately fall. And then there's the self aware Bubbleman, who knows how goofy he is, but is going try his damnedest to take out Mega Man. My favourite moment though, would have to be in Quickman's song the Quick and the Blue:

My circuits slow
I'm not scared anymore
I see the faces of my brothers that have fallen before

Death does wear blue. The album ends with Mega Man contemplating if what he did was right, was he only built to kill and not to do good?
The entire album is very tongue-in-cheek and tons of fun, but writing lyrics to existing music isn't going quite far enough, what about original compositions, based on the world of Mega Man.

Well, meet the Protomen.

The Will of One is a song about Mega Man leaving Dr. Light, and deciding that despite Light's warnings, he is going to fight Wiley, and finish the job that Proto Man had failed at years before.
i'm honestly unsure how to feel about a band turning the story of some old videos into a rock opera, but it is truly epic, and it really fucking rocks.

I've given everything I can, there are no heroes left in man.

Now don't get me wrong, i love the Mega Man series, by far one of the most challenging and fun series to this day, i just never would have believed it would lead to all of this.
Inspiration truly is anywhere you look.

Monday, May 16, 2011

dear ; john?

Look who's back :3
These songs just keep getting better and better.
i was afraid they had quit, and now i hope they never do.

the Living Wake

Mike O'Connell, writer and star of the Living Wake, recently came to my attention thanks to this hilarious music video, What's it Gonna Be? That video has so many things going for it, it's catchy, O'Connell is hilarious, it features Dr. Ken Jeong as his wingman, and it's not that far off from being an Electric Six song. So this lead to me googling him, and falling in love with his voice (his annunciation is fantastic!) i could listen to him talk about Cabbage Patch Kids all day. Eventually, obviously, i discovered the trailer for the film the Living Wake, and it looked amazing. Even better, it was streaming on netflix!

The movie follows K. Roth Binew on the last day of his life, and we get a brief glimpse into his genius and odd the world he inhabits, i quite like the way the description of the trailer on youtube puts it "The Living Wake is a dark comedy set in a timeless storybook universe." You really can't tell when or where this movie take place, and this suit the movie just fine.

It's a fairly simple story, as he gets closer to death, he starts doubting his life and his intentions, fearing he was only feigning being an artist and genius. By the end though, he realizes his life was worth living, he lived how he wanted to and enjoyed it, and that's all that matters. The quirkiness of this movie goes a far way, as does the general enjoyment of the brillance of K. Roth. Though i must admit the movie is a bit rough around the edges, has some pacing issues, some lines that don't quite work, but overall it's still worth watching. It's a damn funny movie, and hell it even has a couple musical numbers.
And in case the movie isn't enough, there's K. Roth's youtube account, full of deleted scenes from the movie and glimpses into the everyday life of K. Roth and Mills:

four out of five

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Enter the Void

This movie is literally a trip. Really, it's about a small time drug dealer in Japan's experience with DMT. And it's entirely shot from his point of view. Not long after the movie starts, he smokes up and we have a scene that puts 2001 to shame. Then he supposedly comes out of it, goes to sell some pills, and gets shot by the police. That's maybe the first twenty minutes, the next two hours are spent zipping around in his out of body experience, life memories, and nightmares.
The last visit to the carwreck that killed his parents is likely going to haunt me the rest of my life.
Now, once our drug dealer gets shot, we don't know what's going on, is he still tripping from the DMT, is this just his dying dream (it is mentioned in the film that it's a theory that human brains release DMT upon death), is it an actual out of body experience?
The only certain thing is that he gets shot, and we get treated amazing feats of visual stimulation.
This is cinema porn.
i'm not sure how they filmed this movie, it's stunning and brilliant in so many ways.
i honestly think this is the film of the times, it's something that could have only been made here, in the now. This is us.
And while i don't think this movie is going to inspire a rash of first person films (at least i would hope not) i do think it's going to be hugely influential.
It's hard to think of any other film that's captured the voyeurism of movies so aptly.
i'll leave you with the opening credits and the audio and visual treats they entail:

five out of five

Spiral Knights

Got in on the beta or "Preview Event" for this and played a bit, it's cute enough.
i'm terrible at MMORPGs and dungeon crawlers, but this game tries to keep it all simple.
Few minor issues of not knowing how new weapons will handle until you buy them, i quite dislike when items get bound to my character.
It has a lot of variety, but some colour customization would be nice. (Maybe it's there, and i just missed it)
It's quite charming going through dungeons and killing quirky enemies with your fellow bots though.
And it's made by some pretty cool dudes. Nice to finally see the context of the greatest videogame character.

The game launches on April 4th, and it's free to play, be sure to check it out.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fareed Zakaria, a Voice of Reason.

Much respect to Fareed for making this clear and calm presentation in the wake of media madness surrounding the reactors in Japan.

From my understanding, the reactors survived one of the largest earthquakes on record, it was only the huge tsunami that raged across Japan knocking out the generators of the cooling system that caused the problem. That's pretty impressive to me, i mean at the same time, oil refineries in Japan were exploding into mushroom clouds and burning for days, no cries to end our dependence on petroleum, hell there was hardly any of that after the BP fuck up in the Gulf of Mexico.
Nuclear is a buzzword, one more powerful than terrorism it would seem, that the media wrung for every bit it could. i mean, people here on the west coast of America were panicking and buying Iodine tablets. Bottles were going for hundreds of dollars on eBay. Now, profiting from idiots will likely never be a crime, but spreading misinformation and lies through major media outlets should be.
Proof that we're living in an age of information however, is that i got news, straight from Japan, translated by a nerdy man named Katz.
Katz broadcasted nearly nonstop for days after the incident, and seems to still be going strong, he deserves so much respect and honour for keeping cool and being so dedicated. Hell he even managed to make fun of America's panic in a few interviews with reporters state side, it was unbelievable.
In the meantime, all the major news outlets had interviews with experts, such as a gynecologist, and a theoretical physicist (Michio, i love you, but stop being a media whore) talking about how this was going to be doomsday.
Don't get me wrong, things were looking bad, and i was worried for a few days there, but at least i stayed informed enough to know things would never reach these doomsday wetdreams of the news.
The real tragedy here is all the focus was quickly moved to the reactors, the earthquake and wave were soon a nonissue with the news, despite so many Japanese people being homeless. Or "displaced" as the news would have it.

It's amazing living in a world of technology where events like this can be easily capture, because every video i've seen has been awesome, and awful. In the true sense of the words.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Crank: High Voltage

Much like i put off watching the first one for fear it was stupid, i put off this one until now.
And unlike last time, i was right.
What a fucking disappointment.

It's like the directors didn't understand what it was that made the first movie good, and decided to take everything that was fun about the first movie and replace it with convoluted fart jokes.
The first movie was certainly over the top and ridiculous, but it wasn't stupid.

The premise wasn't terrible, Chev survived because he's a badass, some crazy Chinese guys steal his heart, and now instead of adrenaline he needs an electric shock. i mean, if you're looking for something to top the first film there aren't too many other options.
But they took a guy that's just trying to live long enough to get vengeance and turned him into the Hulk. Electricity gives him super powers and robs the movie of any interesting conflict, once he gets shocked you know he's going to kick some ass.
The whole static electricity made from friction is one of the most convoluted joke in the movie, the sad thing is that they almost set up a funny joke, Chev is crashing, and Eve thinks it's still the poison so she tries to get his adrenaline up, but then it goes off into the stupid friction bit. Instead have him half-heartily fighting her off trying to explain, and then finds some convenient mean of shocking himself, bam, electricity fueled sex scene.
The worst joke was the guy at the creepy psychologist, thank christ they gave us a flashback to the first movie to show who he was, otherwise i'd never have fucking remembered. It's just such a painful joke because it took so long to set up and had no pay off, i mean they went with the most obvious fucking joke. Haha, it kills this schmoe we don't care about because he was off to start his life anew. Wouldn't it have been funnier if it had shot the psychiatrist and cause him to break? Or better yet, not have had him in it at all.
Wasn't he guy Chev forced to use the defibrillator as well? Why no call back to that? i guess when he's using powerlines defibrillators are chump change, at least it could have been a joke, unlike what we were given.
i didn't even care when they got the head in the jar.
As bad as all the racist and cartoony characters were, and as pointless as every single one of them was, the worst part was the end. No one ends up getting revenge, and wasn't that the whole point?
Sure Chev gets his heart back, but did he rip it out of Asian David Carridene's heart? No, Dwight Yokham's whore got him. (And seriously Poon Dong?)
Did Venus get revenge on the Ferret for his brothers death? No, a jacked up Chev jumps in and goes overkill, robbing Venus of his redemption and revenge.

The first movie wasn't realistic, but it was believable in it's universe. This movie on the other hand, was like watching a horrible Genre Movie parody of action movies, or a fanfic of the first Crank written by some thirteen year olds.

The only thing in this movie that lived up the first was the soundtrack, and the score was done by Mike Patton, shame there wasn't a better movie for it.

two out of five


p.s. Who the fucked bailed Eve out?