Monthly Archives: January 2010

“Are we safe yet?”

January just hasn’t been a very good month for movies. Daybreakers made me sad. My hopes were slightly buoyed by the I-Guess-It-Works Book of Eli, but were finally and completely dashed by the miserable Legion. Seriously, I’m seeing trailers for From Paris with Love and thinking, “Hey. John Travolta!” I mean, it has to stop.**

War. Death. Destruction. Republicans. God has finally had enough with mankind, and rather than keep a few around to jump-start the human race ala Noah, he’s decided to wipe them all out…with angels…who are mean now. Paul Bettany is Michael, the Protector of Israel, who decides to disobey and return to Earth to give humanity one last chance at surviving the coming extermination. Can he do it? I have a feeling he just might.

Alright, look. Legion wasn’t all bad. The first twenty minutes are well-acted. The movie actually has a pretty good cast. Paul Bettany! Dennis Quaid, Charles S. Dutton and Kate Walsh, who I’ve been dating off and on for several years now. Anyway, after watching the very beginning of the movie I thought to myself, “Alright. Okay. Let’s see where this goes.” Then I watched these accomplished and well-respected actors all fall into their separate action-hero stereotypes. Tyrese Gibson as the inner-city dad who just wants to see his son. Lucas Black as the lovable hick who can’t do enough for Adrianne Palicki even though she walks all over him. It all becomes so predictable that you know where the movie is headed before it gets there. It’s all very paint-by-numbers.

Unless you’ve seen the movie, it would be easy to look at the plot in the most simplistic of terms. Hey! Let’s make it so that instead of loving everyone, God hates everyone! And then the angels kill people! Oh I love pissing off the Church! In the end, it isn’t as clear cut as that, but this revelation (which I won’t spoil) comes literally in the movie’s last ten minutes. It’s almost an afterthought and definitely isn’t the message the movie was trying to deliver – if there’s any message to be had at all.

You have to ask yourself, was there ever a chance that Legion was going to rise above mindless popcorn fluff? Probably not. I can’t even bring myself to say that the movie had lofty aspirations that it ultimately couldn’t live up to, because I honestly don’t believe it did. It’s filled with so many cliches and makes everyone in it look so ridiculous that, by the time Paul Bettany bursts through that cross-shaped hole in the wall, you’re telling yourself, “Ah. I can turn my brain off.” The movie leaves us with a Terminator-style ending that’s just screaming for a sequel to be made. Let’s all join hands and pray that it never comes. C-

**Rave review of From Paris with Love coming soon!

Avatar Officially the Greatest Movie of All Time!

Make that officially official. Today Avatar crossed that line, bringing in $1,843,700,000 over Titanic’s $1,843,201,268 (almost half a million dollars!) thus making it better than any movie in the history of film, including Gone With the Wind, Casablanca and The Ten Commandments. It turns out that Bogey isn’t all that when compared to blue aliens. Especially when you’re writing volumes of porn fanfic. Ugh. I truly hate the internet.

Spoiler Alert!

They’re ALL coming back! I’ve been running my Driveshaft CD into the ground these past few weeks.

MacGruber! Pepsi!

Although I should probably know better, I’m holding out hope that MacGruber, the latest in a looong string of crappy SNL spin-off movies, will actually be funny. The trailer looks like a good start.

Things We Like #10: Sgt. Maj. John Sixta

I’m making my way through Generation Kill right now, and this guy is worth the price of admission alone.

“It’s not a book, it’s a weapon!”

After suffering through the train wreck that is Daybreakers last week, I really needed The Book of Eli to be a good movie. There were times when I thought I was going to be disappointed, times I thought the movie was spinning off into the typical action flick, times I thought the filmmakers were being a little too obvious in getting their message across. But as the movie ended, the credits rolled, and the lights came back up, I was kicked out of the theater because they were trying to clean it. But as I stood outside in the rain, waiting for my mother to pick me up, I realized that overall, I really liked it.

The movie wasn’t perfect, and certain things taken by themselves really weren’t perfect. But for some reason, when taken all together, the movie just clicked for me and the stuff that I didn’t much care for didn’t matter (not too much, anyway). But this is the internet, and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t take those few things I didn’t like about the film and rip them apart for the three or four of you who read this blog.

I felt like The Book of Eli started off as a really cool way to end a movie, but in the rush to get there the filmmakers didn’t put as much thought as they should have into how they did it. After the commercials they’ve been showing, I don’t think I’m spoiling anything for anyone when I say that Eli’s book (otherwise known as the book of Eli) is actually a King James Bible. And so far as Eli knows, the last King James Bible in existence. Now, I can buy that Eli has made it his mission to protect it. Can I buy that this is the last Bible left in the entire world? Not really. And why is Gary Oldman so desperate to get it? Because he wants to bring back religion as a way to control the people around him. But hasn’t it only been 30 years since the war that brought civilization down? I’m betting that there are a lot of people around now who were around then. Has everyone really forgotten all about God and the Bible? And what’s stopping Gary Oldman from just making up his own religion? Why couldn’t he use the Torah or the Qu’ran? When you dive into it, these sorts of questions really start to pile up. The movie doesn’t make any real attempt to answer them, so you’ll either just go with it or you won’t.

There’s a piece of me deep down inside that knows how badly action scenes can screw up a movie. But still, I loves me some action. So when Denzel Washington tells the dirty road warrior guy that if he puts his hand on him one more time he’s not getting it back, I really want the dirty road warrior guy to see how committed Denzel Washington is to that premise. I wasn’t disappointed. Still, the movie knew how to keep the action balanced with actual storytelling. When, near the end, it seems as if both sides might be heading toward one last battle royal, it dialed things back and delivered an ending that I truly wasn’t expecting. It’s an ending that might leave some people scratching their heads and certainly requires a small suspension of disbelief, but I thought it worked. A large part of that was due to the cast.

I felt Denzel Washington was a perfect fit for the movie. He exudes just enough badassery to suck you into the action, but never comes across as an action movie cliche. Gary Oldman was another story. I think he’s a great actor, but the movie never really used him the way it should have. He plays basically the same role he did in The Fifth Element, sans the funny hair and cool guns. Putting Gary Oldman into what amounts to little more than the stereotypical villian role really sucked the Gary Oldman out of Gary Oldman, if you smell what I’m cooking. Mila Kunis doesn’t exactly shine here, but after her performance I feel like I’m ready to accept her as a credible actress. I figure that if I can watch her onscreen for two hours and not keep thinking, “Oh yeah. It’s Meg from Family Guy,” then she must be doing her job.

I was a little surprised at the themes of Christianity and the evils of it the movie was attempting to explore. Some are saying that these are obvious from the film’s commercials, but I just didn’t see it. I won’t go too deep into it here, but felt that while the filmmakers used Gary Oldman’s character to illustrate the evils to which organized religion can be used for, it also presented a counterpoint in the character of Eli. I think that in the end, both Christians and non-Christians are going to walk away from this movie thinking that it belongs to them. And I take that as a good thing. I think it’s a sign that the filmmakers were able to make their movie without being too heavy-handed in the message they were trying to get across. Although it definitely lacks in some areas, The Book of Eli delivers some good performances with a genuinely entertaining story. And unlike other movies that touch on similar themes, I think there’s a chance this movie might hold up better to repeat viewings. B-

Archer premieres tonight on FX

If Michael Scott actually got the chance to make Threat Level: Midnight, I imagine it would look something like this. FX’s new animated comedy comes from the creator of Frisky Dingo and Sealab: 2012, and if you’re a fan of that Adult Swim style of humor, you’re almost guaranteed to like this one. The show  – the latest in a long line of spy parodies – centers around Sterling Archer, who works for the International Secret Intelligence Service. When not dealing with global intrigue, he’s dealing with his boss, who also happens to be his mother, and his ex-girlfriend, who he sees every day at work.

I like Adult Swim, but some of their shows (I’m looking at you, Aqua Teen Hunger Force) seem like they’re geared more toward being as wacky and zany as possible than they are at making any sort of sense. Wacky is good, but when not taken in moderation it gets old quick. From what I’ve seen so far, Archer looks like it’ll do a much better job of keeping itself focused on what it is – an international intelligence agency populated by sometimes over the top but still real world stereotypes – rather than ride the Silly Train of the tracks. While Archer’s plot seems ridiculous, its humor always stays grounded in reality. This isn’t Top Secret.

A big part of that premise isn’t that Archer is incompetent at his job, but that he’s a womanizer, incredibly arrogant and immature. When you pair this with his pissed off ex-girlfriend, his overbearing mother and the agency’s HR rep, the humor is witty, sometimes irreverent and always laugh-out-loud funny. It’s definitely R-rated, and as such fits in perfectly on FX, who also airs our dearly beloved It’s Always Sunny. And with a cast featuring H. Jon Benjamin, Chris Parnell and Jessica Walter, you know they know their business.

The first two episodes air tonight at 9 and 9:30 CST. You’ll want to set your DVRs.