Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Few Thoughts on Alien and Prometheus

 As I mentioned earlier this week, I watched Alien twice last weekend. Having seen Alien recently, I thought it might be a good time to listen to the commentary tracks on each version (the 1979 theatrical cut and the 2003 re-edited "alternate" version created for the Alien Quadrilogy boxed set) as I'd never actually gotten around to that*. And, seeing that the Ridley Scott directed / Damon Lindelof and Jon Spaihts scripted Prometheus is coming out next week, it seemed like a good time to glean some information about the well guarded story.

 Since the announcement that Scott was returning to science fiction for the first time in thirty years, there has been a degree of speculation as to how Prometheus was connected to Alien. Scott indicated that the original plan was for the film to be a prequel to Alien, but that in the course of developing the script he, Lindelof, and Spaihts moved away from that and that the film was a stand alone story. Then Scott indicated that Prometheus shared "DNA" with the Alien world but that there would be no Xenomorphs (the titular creatures of the series, as they don't have a species identified in any of the films). And then the trailers made their way to the internet.

 Without breaking too much down (believe me, type "Prometheus" into the Google search engine and follow any links from online magazines detailing the history of production, questions about the trailer, and articles that deal with questions from the viral campaign), the first teaser had what looked like the derelict from Alien (and Aliens) with the same cockpit Dallas, Lambert, and Kane explore, something that looks a lot like the Space Jockey's head (or helmet) and images that went beyond sharing "DNA". The subsequent trailers (international and domestic) introduced shapes and structures that looked a LOT like Xenomorphs, something that looks like a proto-facehugger, and more than one Space Jockey (with and without helmet, which explains what connects to the cockpit).

 The viral ads online have introduced Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland (one can debate whether this removes Lance Henriksen's Charles Bishop Weyland as the originator of the "Company" - based on the chronology, it's possible Pearce plays his son and therefore not all of the terrible Alien vs Predator films is being thrown out) and introduced David (Michael Fassbinder) as Weyland's android aboard the Prometheus (no Ash-like misdirection this time out), as well as a video from Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) contacting Weyland that also introduces the Yutani into Weyland Yutani (from Aliens).

 I don't even want to talk about some of the spots airing on television because I'm trying to avoid them. At least two I've seen give away far more than any of the trailers have about what the not-facehugger thing is capable of doing and more specific details about Shaw's theory of who the "Architects" are. They have produced one two interesting images (particularly this spot), including the one that conclusively answers the question "is this the same planet where the crew of the Nostromo find the derelict ship?"

 The answer is no: that planet was LV-426**, and this image:

 Makes it clear they're headed to LV-223, so we're not being misled and the fact that a Space Jockey's ship that crashes in every trailer isn't the same ship from Alien. But wait... if we go into rampant speculation mode, what else is there to learn here.

 Well, here's the shot that immediately precedes the image above:

 It shows the planet, the moon (LV-223), and another planetoid orbiting. I point this out because one of the things I noticed while watching Alien again is that LV-426 is orbiting this planet:

 It was actually much more difficult to find good pictures from Alien, but in the film you can see what appears to be a gas giant with a ring around it and two planetoids in orbit (I say planetoid instead of moon because that's how Scott describes it in the 1999 commentary, when he says "they told me the planetoid wouldn't have an atmosphere and I said mine would because otherwise it looked like rubbish.") This shot it from the end of the Alien teaser (hence the tagline in the lower portion of the picture) but you can kind of make out both smaller orbiting planetoids, one of which is LV-426.

 So is the other one LV-223? I don't know, but it was something I hadn't even given though about before putting Alien back on. Yes, the crash isn't on the same moon/planetoid but does that mean the Prometheus doesn't land somewhere very near to where the Nostromo answers a distress call? I guess we'll find out next week.

 Other interesting tidbits from Ridley Scott's commentary (the 1999 one and his sections of the 2003 group track, recorded with and without Sigourney Weaver):

 - He describes Ash as "basically a Replicant" tying together in his mind the worlds of Alien and Blade Runner, made all the more curious as Scott has announced he will be making a sequel to the latter with screenwriter Hampton Fancher (and possibly Harrison Ford in a small capacity) in the next few years.

 - Scott mentions both in 1999 and in 2003 of his fascination with the Space Jockey and his theory that the derelict was a "bioweapon carrier" designed to unleash the Xenomorphs on some unidentified species. He and Weaver agree that the origin of the Space Jockey and the Xenomorphs is the only way to continue making films in the Alien universe and that if either of them were involved, they would want to explore just that.

 - His conception of the Xenomorph was that it could essentially reproduce asexually, and the deleted "cocoon" sequence hinted that it could change its victims into other Xenomorphs. All of this was removed from the theatrical cut and the creation of the Queen in Aliens completely removes this from the lifecycle, but if you put on the 2003 recut of the film and listen to Scott's explanation of what Ripley is seeing, he explains an alternate theory as to how a single Xenomorph could perpetuate the species. Scott frequently refers to the facehugger concept of implanting eggs in living hosts by mentioning insects that have similar tactics.

 So here we are, one week away from Prometheus, and this could all be irrelevant by then. It's hard to say, but I have fun geeking out and speculating every now and then. Watching Alien again (and again) certainly gave me some things to consider until seeing Scott's return to the world of Space Jockeys and alien life forms. I guess I'll revisit this soon...

 * I had listened to the track for Aliens, which is an interesting collection of various participants, sometimes in groups or, in the case of James Cameron, alone, and contains all kinds of information about the making of the film and its relationship with Alien.
** That is, by the way, not speculation. In addition to being able to find that information on virtually any site about Alien or Aliens, it's part of the menu that opens the Alien Blu-Ray, which also provides the name "Acheron" which is what the colonists call the planet in Aliens.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Video Daily Double to Help You at School!

 I know that school is winding down, Educationeers, but Cap'n Howdy doesn't want you to think you can just coast into summer without an informative Video Daily Double. Think of it as an important reminder that school is year 'round... especially when it's literally year round. Boy, I'm glad I didn't have to do that!

 Heed these messages!


 Our first film, Big Man On Campus, teaches us not to be a jerkbeast when we get to school, or else. I really don't know what this guy was thinking...

 Our second film, Speech: Stage Fright and What to Do About It, might be just what you need before that big presentation. You know, the one you decided would be easier if you presented instead of doing research, even thought crowds terrify you. Don't imagine them naked, either. Filthy!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Retro Review: The Matrix

 I can still remember the arguments about The Matrix from the spring of 1999; it all started with the trailers, which promised Keanu Reeves doing wire-fu and firing machine guns while Laurence Fishburne behaved mysteriously. The film looked ridiculous, and considering that the equally over-the-top The Devil's Advocate was the last movie many of us had seen Reeves in (and boy, if you haven't seen The Devil's Advocate, grab a twelve pack of your favorite cheap beer and get ready to howl with laughter*), not many people I knew were planning on seeing it. To make things worse for The Matrix, Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News decided to post his positive review of the film on April 1st, which many readers of the site assumed was a joke (it was not, but many people didn't believe it).

 Slowly but surely, the film went from half forgotten joke to something people were going to see, that people wanted to see. I don't recall why I was back in Raleigh, but I know I saw The Matrix at Mission Valley. Maybe it was the expectations of failure, but I can't lie: I laughed a lot.

 While there are positives to The Matrix, that's going to have to wait a little bit because there were two things I took away from the first (and probably second) time I saw the film in 1999. The first was that anything "cool" about the world of leather-clad, gun-toting, "Agent" fighting in-computer freedom fighters was totally undermined by ridiculous lines like "I need weapons" and my personal favorite "Whoa! I know Kung Fu!" delivered as foolishly as humanly possible by a wooden Keanu Reeves. Sure, "Bullet Time" looked pretty cool and the fights were well choreographed and the Wachowski brothers made an entertaining cyber chop-socky mashup, but damn was it stupid when it wanted you to think it was so smart. So smart that Jean Baudrillard - who the Wachowski's name-drop by including Simulacra and Simulation in a key part of Neo's hacker apartment - felt the need to point out that they misunderstood what he meant by "virtual world" and that Disney Land was closer to what he meant than the Matrix. But I digress.

 The second point I walked away with, the one that became contentious over the next few months as rabid fans of The Matrix continued to tell me how "original" and "revolutionary" the film was, had to do with the similarity of its plot to Dark City. To this day, Dark City isn't as well known as it should be. The film is arguably the best thing Alex Proyas and David Goyer created (although Proyas' The Crow and I, Robot are more recognizable), but it's always been a sort of "cult" film. The problem is that Dark City was released in February of 1998 and The Matrix in March of 1999, and both films are about men who discover they are a part of a manufactured world, one controlled by all powerful interlopers that dictate their very identities and even the architecture of their world. With the help of a mentor who has some view of the "real" world, they discover powers which allow them to thwart their oppressors, save "the girl" and both films end with an ambiguous suggestion that their journey has only begun.

 Yes, it's true that this is in broad strokes the "hero's journey" that permeates most stories, but the similarities between Dark City and The Matrix were just too much for me at the time. Dark City had been on VHS for what I'm guessing was a few months and it was fresh in my mind, and if you substitute "aliens" for "machines" then The Matrix was just too much of "been there, done that" and recently, at that, for me.

 Not that my point registered with anyone other than people who had seen Dark City. Instead, there would be talking out of both sides of the mouth about how "all movies rip off other stories" but also how "The Matrix is amazing! Nobody's done it like THAT!" and I just didn't get what they were so gaga for. Maybe if I hadn't seen Dark City so recently or if my perception of Keanu Reeves wasn't tainted by Johnny Mnemonic, Speed, and The Devil's Advocate (in short: Bad Actor), it's possible that I too would have looooooooved The Matrix. But in 1999, that was not the case.

 The tepid (to be kind) reaction to The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions was a kind of vindication four years later, although I still watched both of them and really wished I hadn't.

 But that was then, and this is now. With thirteen years and some perspective, what do I think of The Matrix now? Well, I hadn't seen it for several years when a copy of the Ultimate Matrix boxed set came through the used book store I worked for, so I thought I'd give it a shot. The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions were still bad (although the third not as terrible as the second) but the first film isn't all that bad. The way the Wachowskis set up the beginning of the film, where Tom Anderson (Reeves) isn't aware of his true nature, is handled in an interesting way, one where it isn't clear what Morpheus (Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) want with "Neo", his hacker alter ego, or if the alarming encounter with Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) actually happened or not. Things start off with a cracking action sequence that gives audiences a hint of what's to come, but it's a good while before we get bullet time or super acrobatics after that.

 In the years between seeing The Matrix for the first time and seeing it again, I've seen more of Hugo Weaving, Carrie-Anne Moss, and even Keanu Reeves. I must say that in the latter instance, I was perhaps unkind in the characterization of "Bad Actor" (or the suggestion that he wasn't "acting" dumb in the Bill and Ted movies), even if Street Kings and Constantine aren't really going to help make my case (I did enjoy them. Sorry.). He was good in Thumbsucker and A Scanner Darkly, even if the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still stunk to high heaven. Ugh.

 At any rate, with its proximity to Dark City not as much of an issue, I'm willing to enjoy the film as a silly kung fu movie that wants to pass itself off as high minded (and, considering the books and journal essays I've read or seen about the film, clearly it inspires some level of critical analysis) and be happy at that. One of these days I might even listen to the philosophers commentary track (with Ken Wilbur and Dr. Cornell West) and the critics commentary track (Todd McCarthy, John Powers, David Thompson) to hear what they think. As I understand it, things are not always flattering, which is refreshing considering how many "back patting" commentary tracks are out there.

 I have not, and don't know that I would consider it, watched all three films back-to-back. To be honest, I just can't bring myself to listen to the Architect again. But there's always a What the Hell Week out there...

 * While many people like to point at Scent of a Woman as the point when Al Pacino became a caricature of the actor he'd once been, it's hard to argue that the scene chewing, half-screamed "performance" he delivers in The Devil's Advocate is where he jumped the shark. Or nuked the fridge. Whatever that one is. Anyway, his final scene in that movie is Mega-Acting that rivals Nic Cage at his nuttiest.
** I didn't have anywhere else to put this, but looking back it it now, how crazy is it that Joe Pantoliano is the fourth person on the poster? I guess in 1999 most people hadn't seen The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, so maybe Hugo Weaving wasn't that well known, but I'd forgotten that Joey Pants was on the poster. Quick, other than Memento, name a movie with Joey Pants released since The Matrix. I could only name two.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Quick Note from Blogorium Headquarters

 Greetings to all readers in... internet land? (It doesn't have the same ring to it as TV Land, now does it?) Well, the Cap'n is hopping in between non-Blogorium related jazz, including my non-Blogorium job. Yes, it's true, the Cap'n cannot live off of the Blogorium alone - or at all. I don't make any money writing this, which is either a point of pride or something I'm too foolish to have capitalized on at this point. Take your pick.

 At any rate, I have to run off here shortly and will need to be up bright and early tomorrow morning to keep things running here at Blogorium central, so today's entry gets the short straw today. But don't worry, I'll make it up to you later this week.

 It's probably for the best, because after watching Alien twice this weekend (the 1979 theatrical cut and the 2003 "alternate" version Ridley Scott put together for the Quadrilogy) with both commentaries available, I have some thoughts about Prometheus, including the TV spots that continue to give away more information than I think I want to know. There's a lot of speculation out there, and the Cap'n will be adding his, with the benefit of some specific images from Alien and Ridley Scott's own words about the Space Jockey, the Derelict, Ash, and his desire to explore certain aspects of the Alien universe. All of them seem to feed into Prometheus, what we know about the film (which isn't much) and what we think we know isn't the case. Anyway, it's not going to hurt things for me to have to wait until Thursday to get to that.

 In the meantime you'll find a Retro Review tomorrow, a Video Daily Double on Wednesday, and then thoughts on Alien and Prometheus Thursday as we head into the film's release next week.

 Additionally, I'm mulling over when to bring back What the Hell Week, as I've decided to check out four or five films that under normal circumstances I'd avoid like the plague (one of them is This Means War) and maybe that's where a full examination of the Saw series will land. Or I might hold that off until closer to Summer Fest, which is still up in the air with respect to date and location. I was going to hold it after the 4th of July, and Friday the 13th makes sense, but nearly everyone I know is going to see Neko Case on the 14th, which takes away a prime day of Fest activity. Also, I'm torn between schlock-heavy or focusing on some really creepy horror films that have gone largely unseen since the Nevermore Film Festival.

 Well, I'm being summoned, so all this and more will be addressed soon. Until then, send in your suggestions of what you'd like to see for Summer Fest. I'm still not ruling out this year being the "Remake" Fest...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Trailer Sunday Presents the Films of Billy Wilder (Part One)

The Major and the Minor

Five Graves to Cairo

Double Indemnity

The Lost Weekend

Sunset Boulevard

Ace in the Hole

Stalag 17


Friday, May 25, 2012

Blogorium Review: Dark Shadows

 So, it's come to this: The Tim Burton Players presented Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, Alice in Wonderland, and now Dark Shadows. Having finished the latest foray of Burton and company into the world of "things we already knew existed and probably liked the first time", I have to say that at least Dark Shadows has the benefit of not feeling "phoned in." It may be the fact that I've only spend two hours with Shadows, as opposed to the (usually) one-and-a-half times watching the other three, but this one was at least mostly successful.

 In the interest of fairness, I was once a Tim Burton "fanboy": to this day, I can watch any of his films from Pee Wee's Big Adventure to Sleepy Hollow without hesitation, and I also really like Big Fish as a stylistic, if not tonal, departure from what one expects when one hears the phrase "A Tim Burton Film". On the other hand, I have trouble finishing Planet of the Apes, Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, and Alice in Wonderland, movies that struggle to capture the Burton "style" but feel labored and undercooked, so to speak.

 Additionally, while I may not be a "late" era Tim Burton fan, I am also no devotee of Dark Shadows the series. I am, however, aware of its existence and actually watched it in syndication on USA or the Sci-Fi Channel (I can't remember which) for a while*. I stopped watching not because of the soap opera plotting or the lack of Barnabas Collins (honestly, I think I saw him twice the entire time), but because I seemed to keep catching episodes where a member of the Collins family ended up traveling back in time to the 1700s. Rather than follow their story, the show would immediately jump into the lives of their ancestors while the displaced Collins descendant cooled their heels in jail. As I remember, this happened at least twice - once on the air and again on the videos I rented when it wasn't possible to see it during the day.

 So I come to this not as a Dark Shadows purist nor as a person who really "likes" Tim Burton movies anymore. Maybe that's why I enjoyed the film, even if it is a mess for long stretches.

 The prologue, with narration from Barnabas (Johnny Depp) explaining the Collins family journey from Liverpool to America in the late 1700s, has an appropriately Gothic sensibility and efficiently explains the tragedy of the "cursed" founders of Collinsworth. Barnabas chooses Josette DuPres (Bella Heathcote) over servant Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), who is also a witch. She lures Josette to her death and transforms Barnabas into a vampire before bringing the townspeople to Collinwood Manor and burying him alive. So far, so good.

 But then we jump ahead to 1972, where Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcoate) arrives at the dilapidated Collinwood Manor to serve as the new governess to David Collins (Gulliver McGrath). She meets what's left of the family: matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer), her daughter Carolyn (Chloë Grace Moretz), David's father Roger Collins (Johnny Lee Miller), live-in psychologist Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), and caretaker Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley). Oh, and thanks to some construction nearby, the freshly awakened Barnabas Collins.

 I appreciate the fact that the advertisements playing up the "fish out of water" jokes of an 18th century vampire in the 1970s don't dominate the film, because most of the ones in Dark Shadows don't really work. Aside from Barnabas' fascination with Carolyn's lava lamp, gags about keyboards and television or not understanding that Alice Cooper (Alice Cooper) isn't a woman don't really connect. Maybe it plays with some audiences but not so much with the Cap'n, but like I said, the trailers used pretty much every joke that's in the movie and it isn't what most of Dark Shadows is about.

 Instead, Dark Shadows occupies most of its time with Barnabas' devotion to family and to restoring the Collins name in the small fishing town, even if it means hypnotizing fishermen (including Christopher Lee) into breaking their deal with Angel Bay Fishery. Now in direct competition, Angel Bay's owner demands to meet with Barnabas and he comes face to face with the seemingly ageless Angelique, who it would seem is still a little hot for her spurned (spurning?) lover. Things get complicated when Barnabas takes a shining to Victoria, who bears a striking resemblance to Josette, much to Angelique's dismay.

 Dark Shadows doesn't have a large cast, necessarily, but it may still be too large for what amounts to a nine person ensemble. Victoria disappears for stretches of the film because there's simply nothing for her to do, and Johnny Lee Miller's Roger never figures into the film in any meaningful way. When Barnabas gives him an ultimatum and he chooses to leave, it's a hollow moment because Roger never amounted to anything in the story. Helena Bonham Carter fares a little better as Dr. Hoffman, but her sudden removal from the narrative only seems to happen in order to set up a sequel.

 Chloë Grace Moretz's Carolyn serves exactly two purposes in the film: one is to provide the 70s soundtrack to Collinwood Manor and the other is an arbitrary plot twist in the last act to justify her being around during the climactic battle between Angelique and the Collins family. Pfeiffer and Haley are at least somewhat memorable with broad characters and dramatic posing, but Dark Shadows is really about Eva Green and Johnny Depp, who go all out with their bizarro versions of "witch" and "vampire."

 Barnabas is so devoted to being a gentleman that he apologizes to people before killing them (in a moment that made me laugh, he informs a group of hippies that he "deeply regrets" the fact he's going to slaughter them) and is fiercely loyal to his "distant" relatives. After last year's Pirates of the Caribbean, I was worried he might sleep walk through another performance or go too weird like Willy Wonka, but Depp's Barnabas Collins is a monster trying to be a man. It may not be on the level of the Ed's (Wood and Scissorhands) but he isn't so far over the top that it borders on caricature.

 Eva Green has a tougher role to play: Angelique is a powerful witch that really only wants Barnabas to love her, and when he continually refuses she lashes out, even when it's clear she doesn't really want to do it. Her conflicted relationship with the monster she created gives Green the ability to be more than just the villain of the film. While the Angelique / Barnabas "sex" scene isn't really funny or titillating (and clearly it's meant to be both at different points), they do manage to destroy her office while a Barry White song plays. That cue at least makes more sense than the lengthy "happening" that Barnabas throws for the town, including Alice Cooper performing live for no good reason.

 In the end I guess I was pleasantly surprised that Tim Burton at least seemed to be interested in Dark Shadows. After the detached, lifeless Alice in Wonderland it really seemed like he didn't always care about the movies he was making, at least since Planet of the Apes, so to have nice flourishes in Dark Shadows like Angelique's skin cracking like china near the end were welcome. I don't know that I'm going to be in a hurry to put on Dark Shadows when it comes out on DVD, but I didn't mind watching it. I chuckled a few times and was able to overlook the meandering parts in the middle. It may not be a return to form for Tim Burton but there's some fun to be had and every now and then a glimmer of the good old days. Sometimes that'll do.

 * I also had (maybe still have) a VHS copy of Scariest Moments from Dark Shadows. It's a montage of scenes that, in context, might be "scary" but in this edited format with no clear idea of what's happening is just silly. Mostly it's the reveal of some kind of monster and someone gasping, which really doesn't have the desired effect of being scary to anyone.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Grow Up Wisely with the Video Daily Double!

 Hey there Educationeers! Cap'n Howdy back again with another edition of the Video Daily Double! Today we're going to take a look at why you should conform to abide by social and behavioral norms. If you don't, people won't like you, and then your only hope is to grow a goatee and be a disgusting "hipster" that only likes things because people hate them.

Don't be a hipster!


 Our first film, Helping Johnny Remember, is about why you don't want to be a Debbie Downer with your friends (hint: they won't want to be your friends). If you don't believe me, just watch what happens to Johnny...

Our second film, Toward Emotional Maturity, is for older Educationeers who are trying to keep their foolish impulses in check. It's not easy, but to be a proper citizen, what choice do you have?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Retro Review: The YAD Archives (Part Five)

 Welcome to our final edition of the YAD Archives. Maybe. If Major Tom permits, I might put up his reviews of Collateral and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, along with another friend's review of a "movie" called Stern Auditor or a review of Mona Lisa Smile. Today I thought I would focus on "character" reviews.

 Looking back at older "From the Vaults" posts, I see that one of YAD's two "gimmick" reviewers already has a post devoted to some of the movies he saw. The idea behind "Timothy Brednick" was to have the perspective of a child on movies that children should never, ever see. I'll include the reviews from that older post, along with a few others I found digging through the archives.

 Timothy wasn't our only ridiculous gimmick reviewer. My personal favorite was*, and to a lesser degree, his nemesis**. The idea behind both "reviewers" was to have the perspective of the average high school alpha male mixed with the hyperbolic profanity of the average Ain't It Cool News "talkbacker." I think we were largely successful, although my favorite reviews were the movie "mashups."

 A different kind of disclaimer: while I am leaving everything "as is," this is more a warning to those easily offended. The "Stan" reviews are equal parts juvenile, homophobic, profane, and insipid. They don't represent the views of Cap'n Howdy's Blogorium and were intended for parodic purposes, not to disparage anyone. Other than the people of West and East Lansing Michigan. No, I'm just kidding; I've never been to Michigan, I don't know anybody who went to high school there, and I really just liked the way it sounded as a proclamation of how awesome an idiotic high school student would think he was.


Timothy Brednick:

Open Water
by Timothy Brednick

I thought this movie was very scary. Why did they get left behind and drown? The girl commited suicide and no one found her and the jelly fish scared me. what is a jelly fish made of mommy says it is not jelly. i do not like jelly fishes. someone said there was a shark but mommy made me cover my eyes like when we went to see Cabin Fever (i did not like cabin fever it was so boring and nothing happened but the dog was cool and the bunny suit. i like bunnies) i guess i will not go swimming alone anymore but mommy says that the lifeguard is always there any way so ok. can i have some juice now? apple juice would be good. i have to give the movie stars? like the gold stars mrs jonson gives us? i guess i give it 6 stars that is pretty good right.

The House of Sand and Fog
by Timothy Brednick

I do not understand why i had to watch this movie. people are very sad and argue a lot and i guess some woman loses her house and then the man puts a bag on his head and she steps on some nails my daddy did that one time and it got infected and he stayed home like the time i ate too many worms and got parasides. that was gross. there was a lot of fog and i remember some sand at the beginning but why did the foreign man have a mushtash and then he did not have one. too confusing. mommy and daddy cried at the end but i went into the living room to play with transformers i hate reviewing movies i wish mom wouldn't yell at me and not tell me i have to earn my keep what does that mean ooooh blues clues is on

Scooby Doo: Monsters Unleashed
by Cynthia Brednick

Timothy is sick in bed, and since I assume in order to get paid he needs to provide a review every month, so here I am in his stead. Scooby Deux, as I like to call it (I'm so clever, don't you think?) is the usual garbage disguised as children's fare, promising the moral that you should be true to yourself, but the reliance on fart jokes and insinuations of Lesbianism and Drug Use assure me that my child will never see this film. I should've known it, the cartoon was bad news. Shame on Peter Boyle (so wonderful in Everybody Loves Raymond) for lowering yourself to this. And that Tramp Alicia Silverstone! don't think I haven't seen The Crush. WHORE!!! Feh. I don't know what I was expecting, but Scooby Deux didn't Deux it for me!

The Ring 2
by Timothy Brednick

it's not fair! i wanted to go see the Ice Princess, but stupid mommy told me i had to see stupid Ring Two instead! sll because daddy was boosinkittup again and bills are due. again! I hate mommy. I wish she'd go into the tv and never come back like in stupid Ring Two. This movie is not scary but is really stupid, and Im only five years old (almost six). Lots of gross girls were in the audience with older guys and they would not shut up but after a while i didnt care because the movie is stupid. if all people who are dead look like the guy in that truck then i am not afraid of ghosts anymore. samara was cool she hates taking baths too! i want to be able to kill grownups! ima make a videotape just you watch me...

The Omen
By Timothy Brednick

This may be the bestest movie I ever saw. Damien has dogs and he has toys and a nanny and he goes to the zoo and has a circus at his birthday party and anybody who doesn’t like Damien goes away and never comes back. That’s good because I don’t like knives and if daddy came at me with a knife then the police would come and then I’d be the presidents son and then I go from a mansion to the white house. I went to the white house one time and there were lots of rooms and ropes and stuff and places I couldn’t go but if I was the presidents son I could. I’ma ask mommy if I can change my name to Damien and go to the zoo. Oh mommy says I hafta give it stars like in mr kerners class one time I got three stars for tying my shoes but the omen gets like a hundred stars it is the greatest movie I ever saw!

Brokeback Mountain
By Timothy Brednick

I don’t understand why people do not like this movie and will not see it. Kissing is gross but only if you kiss girls because they have cooties but if you kiss boys you wont get cooties because boys don’t got them. I mean duh! Of course those cowboys did kiss girls too and one of them gots sick see I told you cooties. Whats a parenpasis mommy? Mommy says there should be parenpasis on the cooties part. Anyway there were fireworks in one part and the blonde cowboy sounded like sling blade hah ha sling blade was funny I met him one time he was a mall santa and smelled funny. Anyway if I play cowboys and Indians I know that it is ok to kiss cowboys and to say “I cant quit you” and then go hide in the tree fort daddy built because the Indians wants to scalp us oh no!

Army of Darkness
By Timothy Brednick

Daddy has this dvd that’s always sitting on the shelf and so I put it in because I know how to work a dvd player. It is silly. Ash is this guy who has one hand and the other hand has this silver glove on it that crushes stuff like the hulk. ASH SMASH! Hahahahah it rhymes. Parts of it were scary but it was ok because ash would say stuff like “give me some sugar” and “this is my boomstick” and king Arthur was in the movie I saw this movie with king Arthur that was sooooooo boring it was named after his sword boo I hate that movie but ash saved the day and this book tried to eat him and this other book was really a vacuum and his face was silly and I don’t know why im not allowed to watch it it was way funny. Eight stars is good.


The Punisher
by (guest contributor)

Not Since Next of Kin has a movie rocked my world so hard. ROCKED, I say. Because that is truly what the Punisher will do to your puny world. IT WILL ROCK YOU! Tom Jane is the friggin Punisher and he whups a whole heapin load of ass on Vincent Vega for fuckin with his schema! Arrows and shit! THE PUNISHER BEATS FRICKIN KEVIN NASHS ASS! and he's so cool that even tho rebecca hot piece of score ass romijn offers herself up to him hes like "babe, i'm sorry but i rock to hard. asses need kicking and that's what i do!" THAT ROCKS! give it ten frickin stars because five just dont ROCK ENOUGH! EAST LANSING HIGH SCHOOL REPRESENT!

Johnny Paycheck
another review by

starring Keanu Affleck
Uma Thurman-Rollins
and Ice-T Eckhardt

Johnny Paycheck is basically about this computer hacker dude that puts Judge Dredd into cryogenics because he beat wesley snipes demolition ass and then he gets some program that erases his memory and takes away like 90 millions bucks or something. then this chinese dude chops peoples heads off because Ice-T told him to do it for special crimes unit or some shit. Then Agent smith shows up and beats some serious ass until the bride chops him in half or something. so now there's two agent smiths and along with the bride and the dude from rollins band they set out to beat up the chinese dude and ice-t. then pig vomit comes in and says whoa wait just one minute you've got this bag of clues johnny paycheck and you'll get your memory back (or some shit like that) them the chinese guy flips out and cuts his head off and for some reason juliette lewis is in this rock band playing songs while it happens with the dude from the crow. what the fuck? so anyway johnny paycheck and pig vomit's head use their bag of tricks to remember that he's really the one and that he invented a machine that can predict how to kill the chinese guy and then ice cube shows up and presides over a battle to the death between the bride and the chinese dude and the guy from rollins band flips out and kills ice-t and agent smith porks juliette lewis and that dude from the crow. meanwhile the bride is beating some serious ass on the chinese dude but he gets the upper hand and cuts both of her hands off and she's like oh shit i'm so dead, but johnny paycheck uses the machine to tell her to kick him in the nuts (theres like some built in explosive or some shit) and she does it and he friggin explodes, killing ice cube and the dude from rollins band too. then johnny paycheck and the bride run off into the sunset and use surgery or something to graft her hands onto pig vomits head. pretty fuckin gay man.

Walking Tall

yeah so the rock plays Buford T. Puser, ass kicker extraordinaire (see mrs. jonson I told you I could use those grammar words shit) who comes back to his hometown after layin the fuckin smackdown on terrorists or brendan fraser or some shit how should I know? anyfuckinway, he finds this babe at a strip club/casino/drug dealership and along with his boy johnny knoxville and a HUGE fucking stick he sets out beating serious loser ass then he becomes the sheriff after some jabronis cut him all to hell so you know how that ended ….. serious smackdown action one problem though it was too short man like seriously I felt like it was over before I could build up a good whiz in me, and that folks is the gauge of a rockin movie (like collateral I had to fuckin piss twice and I held it the second time cos… whoa) like it was cool and shit but there was a lackage of stiffler-action and most definately no WALKEN-mania… shit. anyway I guess it rocked my world as much as it needed to and then went along the rocks merry way. fuckin a man, fuckin a.

Denzel Washington Sets a Man on Fire

NO FUCKING SHIT I swear to you he stuffs C4 up this dudes ass and fucking blows him up and the fuckin car hes tied to! Holy shit this movie rules!!! Its like the punisher but with way more crazy camera moves and rack focus and all that shit that I love no way should you miss this movie DAMN I am so pumped about MAN ON FIRE fuckin mark anthony blows his brains out and shit, and Christopher walken does his thing and…. goddamn HE CHOPS THIS DUDES FINGERS OFF AND THEN PUTS A CIGARETTE LIGHTER ON THEM! Yeah boy fuckin represent! MUTHAFUCKIN DENZEL AND SHIT this redeems him for the way he went out in training day screw ethan hawke what a LOOOOZAH like them fucks from west lansing FUCK YOUZ GUYZ!!!!

Zombie Dead Eat Some Fuckin' People

yo, i know this shit isnt like in theaters or whatever but man that new dvd is the shizznizzle! fuckin dawn of the dead and shit. MORE GORE MORE NAKED ZOMBIE SHIT FUCKIN HEAD SHOT THAT TAKES OFF THE DUDES SKULL BUT THERES HIS FUCKIN EYEBALL!!!!! u know the score guys go buy it and get ready to kick out the jams with some ass kicking zombie slaying action... oh yeah, if u fucks at west lansing think u r so tuff, fuckin bring it beotches! ill fuck up up hardcore cuz im comin strong 24\7. yeah ill bring the dawn of the dead to ur fuckin asses


Shit, lemme show you how this is done, StanDAFAG!!!! HAHAHAHA YOU SUCK!

SAW is pure ass beating punishment of LOOOSAHS that deserve to have their jaws ripped open and split to shreds by razor blades. Dr. Douchebag finds himself chained in a room with Paparazzi Jerk, and the doll of death wants them to duke it out. They have a pair of hacksaws with which to chop off their feet and some cigarettes, plus the corpse of some dude that blew his brains out before they woke up. BOSS. Oh yeah, and Danny "LETHAL WEAPON" Glover mopes around and gets his throat slit, but that's nothin compared to what happens to his partner. If you were down with HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES but you thought Zombie pussed out on the bloodshed, then this is your joint, straight up. SHIZZNIZZLE. Eat it, Stan, U SUCK!!!

Buffy the Grudge Slayer and The Temple of Suck

MAN THE JAPANESE MAKE SOME SHIIIIIIITY FUCKIN MOVIES for real tho, what in the fuck were they thinkin with this movie, cuz they musta been on shrooms or some shit "yo man, lets put this all out of order and take the scary parts out and get fuckin daphne from dooby deux (heheheh)" what the shit sam raimi? i mean did u see the fuckin japaneez one or did u just get high and point at a board. fuck, i was board all the way thru this fuckin joke. kids r not scary, their lame, and the floatin chick with stupid eyes? totally rippin off the Ring dude and not even some hot chick to distract me cuz that movie sucked ballz too! note 2 hollywood: STOP remaking sucky ass japanese movies becuz you dont bother to improve them first. U R like that pie fucker

Blade Sucks Three

aight so what was i expectin right? fuckin more blade ass beatin check fuckin score ass chix check fuckin LAME ASS VAMPIRES check WTF????? shit man, this movie has so little ass kickin that i can barely qualify it as action, more like "im mopey ass blade cuz i cant act for shit" and hey lets cut away to cap' chocula for a halffuckin hour drake ass lame shit. FUCK u think van helsing got dracula wrong oh shit u have no idea! fuckety fuckballs is this shit lame. on the plus corner, porker posey and jessica biel and bonk-worthy, reapers dogs are pretty funny. fuckin van wilder kicks some ass but he cant shut his fuckin yap. oh yeah, like triple "how do u know how big my dick is" h (seriously he fuckin says that shit) man trips, ur no rock. ur not even hogan quality YEAH U HERD ME GAME STICK WITH EVOLUTIOn! fuuuuuck im getting sick of all these shitty movies man! but fuckin saw is comin out on dvd soon!!!!!! SHIT YEAH!!!!

Sin Shitty!

yoyoyo sherboy Stan, back from spriiiiiiiinnnngg breeaaaaakakaka! shit yea homez, i was fuckin tearin it up in east lansing last fuckin week. man i was so fuckin ripped that i almost forgot i saw fuckin sin shitty! now that i remeberd i fuckin wish i had. yeah yeah whatever it was violent n shit, but dudes looked like they had fuckin jizz all over their jacketz 4 most of the movie

MAJOR LEAGUE GAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

yo i wont front the bitchez in sin shitty were smokin hawt (even if mah girl alba didnt get butt nekkid i still stroked it in her honor) and who knew the chick from gaymore girls was bone worthy??? still aint gonna watch that shit. fuckit im all for decaptatin and whatevah, but this movie just a little 2 gay if u kno what i mean...

1 star for da movie
5 starz for my bitchez

now i yall excuse me i gots half a bottle of crown royal left and that shit aint gonna drink itself....

Adam Sandler fucks it up again!

i dunno what ur fuckin problem is snadler but this fuckin spanglish shit was worse than donkeypunch love and at least that had some fuckin class a ass beatin. instead of bein the ass we all know ur, instead you mope around like some fuckin pussy 4 2 hours when U KNOW that spanish maid wants your ass! DO IT MAN!!! fuck mrs david duchovy... wait, no do them both 3WAY!!! yeah baby thatd be better than the fuckin shit i just slept thru. fuckin longest yard better kick some serious ass or make fuckin happy madison again just stop bein such a pussy snadler.


* By the way, I don't actually know who has that email address, but it was taken by the time I realized I should probably register it with Yahoo.
** I also don't have that email address.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Four Reasons to See The Cabin in the Woods (Again)

 I caught a little grief for reviewing Lockout instead of The Cabin in the Woods following a successful (?) double feature of the two last month, but after spending a few days wading through various reviews of the film, ones approaching it from nearly every angle, it seemed unnecessary to weigh in. I also didn't want to choose between writing "Just See It!" and not explaining too much about the film, or diving into an all-out spoiler fest, which is basically the only way you can really get into why The Cabin in the Woods is worth seeing to horror fans. At this point, I think we're far enough away from the film's release that I can openly dance around plot points without ruining your experience of the film. It's not actually a facetious suggestion when someone says "the less you know, the better" for The Cabin in the Woods, but at this point either you've watched the film or you'll check it out on home video.

 The Cap'n fully intends to watch it again on Blu-Ray, probably a few times, and here are four reasons why:

 1. It's Not Exactly a Horror Movie - One of the first things I told people was that The Cabin in the Woods is a movie about horror movies. While it does follow the structure of some horror films, it's simultaneously a comedy that explains the absurdity of things that happen in horror movies, the way characters behave, and provides a rationale for the necessity of those things to happen. On more than one occasion a friend assumed The Cabin in the Woods must be a documentary, but the truth is that it's more of a "meta"-film along the lines of Charlie Kaufman or Michel Gondry. The film is about horror films, about audiences, and ultimately, about itself. A little further down I'll get into more specific ramifications that come from The Cabin in the Woods' "meta" message.

 In the meantime, I look forward to watching the film again because it is more of a comedy with horror elements (like Shaun of the Dead) than a horror comedy (like Dead Alive). It plays with horror conventions, both real and generally assumed tropes about what "horror films" are all about in an entertaining manner. Writer Joss Whedon and director / writer Drew Goddard are able to build tension while also sneaking in well placed laughs (primarily by juxtaposing the "cabin" section with the mundane "underground" team). Because I didn't know exactly what I was walking in to (I deliberately avoided any spoilers or information), the discovery that The Cabin in the Woods isn't so much a horror film as a riff on the idea of "horror films" was refreshing. Knowing the direction the story takes, I'm quite excited to sit down and see it again.

 2. Pay Careful Attention to Plot Construction - The Cabin in the Woods takes audiences on a ride, one that we're familiar with and take such pleasure in seeing subverted that we forget what we already know. Goddard and Whedon's screenplay is designed so well that you forget deliberately contradictory evidence to the "archetypes" each of the protagonists are supposed to represent. Dana (The Virgin) is going to the cabin in order to forget about a disastrous affair she was having with one of her professors. Holden (The Scholar) is introduced catching a football and described as having "the fastest hands on the team," while Curt (The Athlete) is giving Dana tips on better theory to read for her classes. Jules (The Whore) and Marty (The Fool) both require assistance from "Chemistry" (the hair dye and laced marijuana) to ensure the fulfill their archetypes, although it ends up backfiring with Marty, making him immune to other chemically induced "twists."

 This actually pays off later when The Director (Sigourney Weaver) admits they "work with what we've got" when Dana scoffs at being "The Virgin." Because The Cabin in the Woods is so successful at setting up established tropes about horror films and selling them with the characters we're presented, it's possible to forget that half of the "archetypes" don't actually fit.

 Now, Cabin does take some liberties the with concept of "horror tropes" and plays more on what people assume are tropes rather than what horror films actually present. This is not to say that the Virgin, Athlete, Whore, Scholar, and Fool don't appear in some variation in a lot of horror films, but that exact combination may not map on to slashers films in the way that non-horror fans assume. For example, the most obvious visual connection in the film is to The Evil Dead (arguably the best "cabin in the woods" entry) which doesn't map onto those "types" at all. If you followed The Evil Dead by Cabin in the Woods rules, Ash would be the "virgin" who makes it to the end and is killed. Now if I asked most fans of the Evil Dead series, Ash would fit the "Fool" type, especially as we move into the sequels.

 The Cabin in the Woods seems to take its archetypes from Friday the 13th Part 3, which does mostly have those "tropes" but also several other characters. Honestly, I can't think of a movie that actually follows the ritual required in Cabin, but I appreciate the idea. It's designed for audiences who are midway to serious horror fans and who don't mind that the rules are built more on a general premise than any specific film. Although, since I mentioned The Evil Dead, let's move to the next point...

 3. Easter Eggs - Aside from the obvious Hellraiser reference, there are a number of other nods (some subtle, some blatant) to other horror films, many of which are included on "the Board." The team gets together and has a pool based on which menace will be unleashed on the students, and there's a whiteboard with most of the options available. Here's the best shot of the board I could find:

 I mentioned The Evil Dead because the "board" lists both "Deadites" and "Angry Molesting Tree" as options, which implies that both Evil Dead films could theoretically have been previous "rituals" conducted for the "Ancient Ones" (maybe before they put in the lake). Based on the possibilities (as well as some of the choices we see unleashed later in the film) you could also argue that Jack Frost, The Strangers, Wrong Turn, The Deadly Spawn, The Cave, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Dog Soldiers, Diary of the Dead, and every Full Moon "evil dolls" movie ever made were variations on previous rituals. Those are the direct ones without covering more vague listings like "vampires" or "sexy witches". Beyond that, Goddard has indicated that the triggers for every single monster on the board is in the basement, which gives us plenty of incentive to freeze frames. I don't know about you, but I fully intend to find the "unicorn tapestry".

 Meanwhile, I really want to see the other countries and their contending rituals, because other than Japan's "stringy long haired pale ghost" trope from the late 90s / early 00s, I didn't quite catch what was meant to represent other forms of "foreign" horror. I thought I saw a Gothic castle and maybe a troll, but that's also one I look forward to examining more closely.

 4. Implications About Horror Before and After This Film - That's a little vague as a category, but I'm not quite sure how I'd sum up what The Cabin in the Woods says about the relationship between audiences and horror films in one sentence. During Jules and Curt's sex scene, Hadley (Bradley Whitford) and Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) tell Truman (Brian White) that "we're not the only ones watching" and you've "gotta keep the customers satisfied" when he questions whether she needs to show "the goods." In the context of the film, you could argue that they're referring to "The Ancient Ones," but as we won't be introduced to the concept of their manipulation as part of a predetermined ritual, the dialogue reads as a direct commentary on the audience. We, the viewers, are watching The Cabin in the Woods expecting the same adherence to "formula" (in this case, T&A) as "The Ancient Ones".

 So who's to say we aren't "The Ancient Ones"? I mean, once you get past the Lovecraftian assumptions that follow any concept of an "ancient" force in horror, an idea so pervasive beyond Lovecraft's fiction that it made it all the way to Guillermo Del Toro's comic book adaptation Hellboy. Sure, I was hoping that's what The Director was talking about, but it's not what we got. We got a giant hand smashing the cabin (and presumably, destroying the world) when it didn't get what it wanted. If that isn't a metaphor for internet-age fandom I must really misunderstand bloggers and "geek" sites. I'm not saying that it's the only way to read this, but if you've spent any time reading sites that build up movies to impossible expectations and then relish their downfall in comments (and yes, I would include my reaction to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World fans bashing The Expendables when the former belly flopped). Better still, there's the contingent of "complain about remakes / sequels" that also won't go see movies that don't fit into that mold or will instead complain about how those movies "probably suck". This is the mentality that plays into the end of The Cabin in the Woods, when the "Ancient Ones" don't get their ritual exactly right so they destroy everything. Better still, the protagonists let it happen in what is arguably the funniest nihilistic ending in a long time. It doesn't even give us a coda to let us down easy like Dr. Strangelove or Heathers - it's just "SMASH!"

 Now I don't think that The Cabin in the Woods is going to have the kind of impact that a Scream did. For one thing, while the people who did see it really enjoyed it (or enjoyed it with reservations or didn't like that it was a comedy but mostly liked it), it doesn't seem like The Cabin in the Woods is having the same draw that Scream did. Scream ushered in a wave of self-reflexive horror movies, mostly lousy knock-offs that didn't understand what Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven were commenting about - and I'll include Scream 2 and 3 in that list - and that became the dominant trend until the J-Horror remakes took over with The Ring. At this point in horror, we're seeing the concept of "torture porn" dying off as we move further away from the Saw series, and the remake craze is finally losing some steam after the unwatchable Nightmare on Elm Street two years ago.

 Right now things are up in the air: are the slow burns of Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers) where things are headed? The splatterfest throwbacks of Adam Green (Hatchet) or Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2)? Are the French or Spanish super gore / disturbing films ([REC], Martyrs, Inside, High Tension) going to prevail? Are the "Masters of Horror" and the "Splat Pack" all done with? Is All the Boys Love Mandy Lane ever going to come out in the U.S. and would anybody watch it? Are anthology films like Trick 'r Treat, Chillerama, and V/H/S going to usher in a comeback? Is Insidious bringing back haunted houses? Is Hammer films poised to fill the void? Or is horror going to get wrapped up in this "exploitation" craze in the wake of Grindhouse or Hobo with a Shotgun (go look up "The Disco Exorcist" on YouTube).

 I'm not really sure where horror is going. The truth is that all of these directions seem to be happening at once without any clear "trend" to speak of. That's probably a good thing, although it refutes the idea that horror can be distilled into archetypes for a ritual purpose. To bring it back to the idea of "the audience" and expectations, I was surprised to talk to people who were unaware of horror theory. They had never considered that horror provides a cathartic release by building up tension and by facing viewers with their worst fears, only to allow them to return to the comfort of daylight at the end. I guess I've spent more time poring through books like Screening Violence, The Monster Show and Projected Fears because of classes I've taken and an interest in why people are drawn to the horrific. I can see how avoiding horror altogether might also cause people to be surprised that it does serve a sociological purpose - or at least there are scholars who make the case it does.

 The Cabin in the Woods asks us "what would happen if the characters rebelled?" What if the catharsis didn't happen and evil won? In that way, the film is an extension of Michael Haneke's Funny Games, a film I didn't like because the director chose to impose his disdain for audience expectations on viewers, to rub their nose in it. The point in both films it that audiences are complicit in the formula a movie follows: if you expect it, they (the studios / creative forces / etc) will give it to you. Both films deny you what you expect (to some degree) to make you question your role as the voyeur. The Cabin in the Woods cheats a bit by giving you what you want but also telling you that it's happening while you watch it, but I don't know that audiences are going to be looking for more films like this. It may be a one-off that makes horror fans more demanding of what comes next, which may simply result in more "smashing". We'll see.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Trailer Sunday Presents the Films of Luc Besson (Part Two)

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc


Arthur et les Minimoys

Arthur et les Minimoys et la revanche de Maltazard

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec

Arthur et la guerre des deux mondes

The Lady

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fight, Video Daily Double, Fight the Bomb!

 Duck and Cover, Educationeers! Cap'n Howdy has learned the bomb is on its way and you have to watch today's Video Daily Double to stay alive!!!!

 Just kidding, gang. The bomb isn't coming, but you never know when it could, so it's best to always be prepared. With that in mind, I present two films about keeping you alive and to bolster your moxie when things go sour, as they inevitably must.

 Keep that chin up!


 Our first film, Survival Under Atomic Attack, is how to survive an atomic attack. Let's say you aren't an animated turtle and you don't have a shell (or desk) to hide under. What would you do then? Let's find out!

 Our second film, Our Cities Must Fight, is a call for all of the parents of Educationeers to not run like cowards when major cities are attacked. Who will stop the aliens, dirty commies, or irradiated Super Mutants from ransacking and looting if we all flee?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Retro Review: The YAD Archives (Part Four)

 Preamble shamelessly copied from last week's post:

 Welcome back to another edition of the Blogorium's Retro Review. Today we're going to continue looking back at a series of reviews written for defunct online magazine You're All Doomed. Previously we took a look at reviews from 2005 and at the output of guest blogger Professor Murder. Turning the wayback machine a little further, let's take a look at a few more movies from 2004.

 Once again, a bit of a disclaimer: these reviews represent a proto-Cap'n Howdy and accordingly they don't look like what I write today. They're shorter, tend to make logical leaps and assume the audience will simply follow, and sometimes contain erroneous information because I was more interested in getting reactions out unspoiled rather than fact checking and researching before and during the writing process. I am, however, leaving them untouched in order to represent the original material.


Shaun of the Dead: A Romantic Comedy. With Zombies (if you will)
4.5 stars out of 5

Shaun of the Dead is nearly perfect entertainment. Unless of course, you have a weak stomach or hate zombies. Then it's just very good. As I write this, it becomes very difficult to explain why SotD is so wonderful. Is it that every character is three dimensional? Is it the nods to Romero's "Dead" films? Is it the presence of the star of "Black Books"?

Why don't the ads do this movie justice?

This is a question I do feel I can address. See, the ads I saw on tv flew in the face of every great thing I'd heard about it. The jokes looked obvious and stupid, the "scares" were neither frightening nor interesting. Even the celebrity blurbs sounded cheesy (I'm sorry Peter Jackson, really I am, but Cabin Fever was not the best horror movie of 2003 or any other year.) So I went in with a grain of salt, expecting to be sadly disappointed in another over-hyped "indie gem." Imagine my shock when in the first five minutes I was laughing. Not chuckles, but outright laughter, which led to sustained belly aching laughs as things really got rolling. Even the scenes they show you on tv, like when Shaun and Ed are singing and the zombie joins in, are funny. Seriously. Yes, taken out of context, they look terrible. When you realize that Shaun and Ed are very drunk and may well be the only people in London that DON'T know the dead have risen... I don't know. It's hard to explain.

Needless to say, just go see it. I've already told everyone I know that it's fucking hilarious and they'll love it. And if you have an aversion to gore or "horror" movies, then you'll be just fine until they lock themselves in the pub. Really. The title of this review doesn't lie. If you do like zombies, then you ought've seen it already, so get out there and watch it!


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
5 stars (out of 5)

Charlie Kaufman. Michel Gondry. Kate Winslet as good as she's been since Heavenly Creatures. Jim Carrey as good as he's ever been. Elijah Wood, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Ruffalo, David Cross. A true joy from beginning to end. Heart breaking and true. As good as they come, folks. Get it while it's fresh.


Coffee and Cigarettes
3.5 (out of 5)

It isn't difficult to digest this movie. In fact, the title alone tells you everything that can be expected. Jim Jarmusch takes small groups of people (for most of the vingettes, two) and provides them cigarettes and, well, coffee. However, let me clarify something here. This isn't improvised, or at least, most of the conversations aren't. Too many little phrases and moments echo each other to be an accident (in particular, keep an eye out for musicians who double as doctors, nikolai tesla, and the shady nature of celebrity.) While Coffee and Cigarettes is slight, the segments are never too long to grate, and the really good ones make up for the lesser bits.

To wit:

-Cate Blanchett is a standout playing herself and her cousin, as are Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan in the same beat.

-The White Stripes discuss Jack's Tesla coil while Cinque Lee looks on (Lee, having appeared in an earlier segment with his sister Joie and Steve Buscemi)

-Iggy Pop and Tom Waits test each other and discover the diner's jukebox doesn't play either one of them.

-Bill Rice and Taylor Mead muse about the late seventies and champagne
and, in what's probably the most heard about segment, The Rza and The Gza offer Bill Murray helpful tips of losing that smokers cough (they also refer to him exclusively as "Bill Murray".)

See what I mean? There's really not a lot after the movie ends, but it's a pleasant hour and a half, and even if the Tom Waits / Iggy Pop scene goes on for far too long, and Roberto Benigni is almost impossible to understand in his scene with Steven Wright, well, it's entertaining enough. Jarmusch fans should enjoy it well enough, and most other people weren't planning on seeing it anyhow.

I Heart Huckabees

4 Stars

I Heart Huckabees may be as difficult a review as I've ever had to write. This is the type of film best experienced, not unlike Being John Malkovich, Bubba Ho-Tep, or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. If any of those movies turned you off when you read it, I Heart Huckabees probably isn't for you. There's no exaggerating on their part when Fox Searchlight calls it "[an] existentialist comedy", because it's both a parody and the essence of existentialism on celluloid. The film wanders around and throws high concept after high concept at the audience with little concern to explain or wait for you to catch up. The cast is uniformly great, including surprisingly good turns from Mark Wahlberg and Jason Schwartzmann, both actors who've had their share of ups and downs in hollywood. Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin are endearing and baffling at the same time, and Jude Law is more than capable of taking the villain character and twisting him around. I'd be remiss to ignore Naomi Watts, who arguably has the most character arc in the movie, and she's totally believable all the way along.

That being said, no less than four people walked out of the movie when I went to see it, and a great deal more complained about it afterwards. This is a movie that isn't in the mood to wait for you, and a lot of people didn't understand why I was laughing so frequently and heartily. This is that type of movie, the sort that does horribly in theaters, but a small, devoted base keeps it alive on video and dvd. I hope. See it, but be warned, you may not like what you see.


The Day Before Tomorrow

3 Stars

I had such high hopes for this movie. Much like Eight Legged Freaks, I expected to be able to turn my brain off and enjoy some harmless carnage for two hours, then get up and forget about it by the time I got to the car. But then, I forgot, this IS Roland Emmerich we're talking about. Big hearted sap sentimentalist appeal to your inner tree hugger Roland Emmerich. Don't get me wrong, it's fine to express yourself in film, whether you're attacking foreign policy under the guise of alien invasion (Indepence Day) or attracting crass commercial endorsements while destroying New York (Godzilla) or even pillaging William Wallace and placing him front and center in the Revolutionary War (The Patriot). And don't even get me started on Stargate. However, these were all handled with the assistance of Dean Devlin (yep, the asian guy in Real Genius. Seriously, check it out) so I assumed he had a hand in this.

Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoy Disaster flicks as much as any filmgoer, maybe more (I do own The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno own VHS, Laserdisc, and DVD) and The Day After Tomorrow delivers on the gratuitous destruction. By the end of the movie, most of America is covered in ice, and millions are implied dead. Plus we see the destruction of Los Angeles and New York City firsthand, and let me tell you, it is grand. Not since George Lucas got off his fat ass to make the prequels has one film abused computers so. Tornadoes, walls of water (remember the OTHER ending to the Abyss? Ever wondered what'd happen if they didn't buy Ed Harris' plea?) rain and snowstorms out the wazoo, characters introduced only to be killed within ten minutes (check out the mostly pointless scene in Tokyo) and hail. Oh, and for no good reason, wolves.

HOWEVER, the carnage is sullied by the persistent eco-friendly message spewed at every opportunity by Dennis Quaid and Ian Holm, plus a cop out ending and unnecessary jabs at the Bush Administration (see: Vice President that clearly is the decision maker, idiot president that dies instead of being evacuated, etc) When President Cheney gives his final address on The Weather Channel, he tells the survivors of the world that they must make radical changes about the way they think in order to move on as a society (not unlike Bill Pullman's address in Independence Day) when shortly before he was belittling the efforts and warnings of the tree hugging climatologists. The movie even goes so far as to recommend ways to curb the impending doom before it happens.

Thankfully, this makes up the beginning and the end, chiefly, and the global destruction is worth the price of being lectured. Plus Jake Gyllenhall found himself a movie to be in that makes money (wise move, guy, those Donnie fans won't be paying the bills forever). If you dig death on a worldwide scale, some mildly interesting action scenes, and more (implied) corpses than a romero flick, check this movie out, but bring some earplugs, and plan to leave 15 minutes early.


Team America: World Police

3.5 Stars


Team America offends the left and the right, and has been held up by both sides as a paragon of their beliefs. The National Review hails it for it's conservative sense of humour and merciless assault on the media elite, and Leftists use it to explain how America is perceived in the world.

Of course, they're both right. And wrong. Team America is an assault on all sides from the middle, people tired of being told they either side with George W. Bush or Michael Moore. (Personally, I think they're both full of shit.) It's also a crude, bombastic send up of overblown Hollywood Action movies, even lifting direct scenes and lines of dialogue from such hits as Top Gun and Armageddon. With puppets. There's even a clever Star Wars joke about halfway through the movie. The violence at first is ridiculous, but by the end of the film, Team America dispatches the Film Actors Guild in so many disgusting and violent ways that you forget you're watching puppets. Okay, you don't, but the novelty that it's one elaborate puppet show becomes irrelevant about halfway in.

The two best things Team America has going for it are Kim Jong IL as the film's chief villain (packing one hell of a surprise in the final moments) and the ridiculous, over the top songs, designed to copy and rip apart THE BIG SONG of action extravaganzas (one song in particular compares the loss of a girlfriend to how much Pearl Harbor sucked) and executed in a variety of outlandish ways. I'll even let Trey and Matt slide for reusing the Montage song from South Park.

I can't give it perfect marks, because it does miss the mark on some jokes, and like any action movie, things can drag a bit. But what works will leave your ass rolling in the aisles.


Fahrenheit 9/11 / Celsius 41.11

3 stars (combined)

I'm gonna do this quickly, because I'm so fucking sick of these movies:

Both movies alter the same facts to make different points. Both pretend to hold reverence for their subjects and yet rip them new assholes mercilessly. Both don't care about the truth if it gets in the way of their narrative. Fahrenheit is at least a palatable movie, Celsius doesn't want to be a movie, but rather an attack piece. Moore likes to think he's making high art, and he's not, but whatever. Seriously, Celsius is funnier, if only because they try even less to disguise the attack on John Kerry (which is funny, since the cover promises to correct Moore's mistakes) At the end of it, neither one of them has a point, and Fahrenheit only wins out because it's ballsier in scope. Fuck politics, fuck attack ads, fuck these "movies".

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Crom Day to You!

 Interesting tidbit: thirty years ago today (May 14th), Conan the Barbarian opened in theatres (and, I can hope, Drive-Ins) across the country. The Cap'n was a little too young to see Conan the Barbarian (being three years and exactly one month old), so I missed out on that and the rest of the "Class of '82," what has become a semi-legendary year for geek cinema. That's how geeks characterize it now, because I don't remember it being a big point in pop culture during the 80s or 90s, but it's all good. Starting in 2007, when the "Class of '82" turned twenty five, retrospectives kicked in, and now we're at the thirty year mark, which is right around the age of people who pay attention to things like this. Like me.

 Well, that got away from where I wanted it to go. Anyway, so if you aren't in the mood to check it out, here are some of the movies released in 1982:

 The Boogens
 Death Wish II
 Victor / Victoria
 Rocky 3
 Six Pack
 The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
 Yes, Giorgio
 Halloween III: Season of the Witch
 48 Hours
 The Verdict
 The Toy
 Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid
 One from the Heart
 Visiting Hours
 Airplane 2: The Sequel

 Wait... what do you mean "that's the wrong list"? What the hell is wrong with that list? I like those movies. Geeks like The Boogens, right? What do you mean "they haven't seen The Boogens?" That's not my problem! They love Rocky 3 and Death Wish II and 48 Hours! Hell, some of them will even defend the indefensible, like Zapped! and the misguided but I guess not unwatchable Halloween III...

 Okay, fine. It's true that the list above is an "alternate" list I compiled while I was trying to get the "canonized" releases right. Honestly, I'm standing by the assertion that about half of them still fit in just fine with the actual "Class of '82" which includes:

 Conan the Barbarian
 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
 Blade Runner
 John Carpenter's The Thing
 First Blood
 Das Boot
 Friday the 13th Part III (in 3D)
 Cat People
 The Sword and the Sorcerer
 Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
 Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
 The Secret of Nimh
 Pink Floyd: The Wall
 Fast Times at Ridgemont High
 Class of 1984
 The Beastmaster
 Eating Raoul
 Q: The Winged Serpent
 The Last Unicorn
 The Dark Crystal

 I included movies like Das Boot and cult films like Eating Raoul and Q in this list because they're frequently mentioned, but like Halloween III I suppose they could go on either list. It's a shame more of you haven't seen The Boogens though...

 Now, that is an impressive lineup. It comprises the list of movies that many people my age watched on home video along with the likes of Ghostbusters, The Goonies, and Back to the Future all the way through adolescence. I can only imagine what it must have been like to see Conan the Barbarian one week and then to see The Road Warrior the next. To be old enough to really take in a summer filled with that many cherished entries into "geek" cinema is something I can only envy from afar. I wasn't old enough to even be cognizant that Ridley Scott was adapting Philip K. Dick and John Milius would set the bar for "sword and sorcery" films that hasn't ever really been matched in the 80s, 90s, or 21st century. And it was the second of three "sword and sorcery" films just that year!

 To wonder what the guy who made Halloween, The Fog, and Escape from New York was going to do with The Thing from Another World or how Paul Schrader was going to reinvent Cat People. Most of all, to see it with fresh eyes, in a world devoid of the internet and where cable television didn't have the range of coverage it does now. By the time I'd heard of most of these movies, it was through people who had already seen them or through movie guides. By the time I knew what Season of the Witch was, I had been warned that it didn't continue the Laurie Strode / Michael Meyers story and was therefore a "mistake." On the other hand, Blade Runner's failure and stature as something of a "cult" phenomenon allowed me to approach the 1992 "Director's Cut" with intrigue.

So looking back at the way these films were released, it's understandable how Tron, Blade Runner, and The Thing were all swept aside by the "summer of E.T." Steven Spielberg had a massive hit on his hands, and Scott's narrative-ly dense dystopia and Carpenter's misanthropic and nihilistic alien invasion film weren't exactly going to fit in with a friendly extra terrestrial eating Reese's Pieces. Tron? Well, it took twenty eight years for Disney to even consider making a sequel to its "world inside a computer" film, and it fared about as well. I happen to like Tron, partly because of its place in my childhood but also because as I grew up more of it made sense and it's really not a "one sitting" kind of movie. E.T., on the other hand, has a little something for everybody, and in one go-round.

 There are so many different things you could talk about here, like Star Trek II getting everything fans wanted right where The Motion Picture didn't (again, this is based mostly on what I understand, as I was introduced to Star Trek films through Wrath of Khan and not The Motion Picture) or the way that the otherwise formulaic sequel Friday the 13th Part III introduced the iconic image for the series (Jason's hockey mask) while also having just about every "point something at the camera" 3D gimmick you can think of. You had the first John Rambo film, Sylvester Stallone fighting Mr. T, the first Mad Max film most Americans had seen (and without dubbing), the movie that launched Arnold Schwarzenegger as an action star, two legendary comedies, and George Romero and Stephen King's homage to EC Comics.

 Okay, so I poked a little fun at the beginning, but it is clear why 1982 was such a rich year for revisiting. Most of those films were regulars at the Howdy household, at least during age-appropriate periods. Some of them were discoveries in high school and in college because of their release in proximity to the rise of home video. It was hard not to know they existed because whether I'd seen them or not, the box covers were at both video stores in town. Filling in the context came later, and being nostalgic for a period that I lived through but couldn't participate in after that. I get why so many geeks of my generation fixate on this particular year.

  But the real takeaway here - other than wishing Conan the Barbarian a happy 30th birthday / anniversary - is that you should see The Boogens. Seriously - it's a pretty good slasher movie with kinda goofy monsters but you don't see them until the very end. It's one of those under represented horror films that deserves its day. And if you're not the horror type - and honestly, if you're reading this blog I don't know how that's possible - there's always Six Pack. Kenny Rogers, Diane Lane, Anthony Michael Hall, Erin Gray, an RV full of orphans and a grizzled stock car racer. Or something like that. It clearly doesn't suck is what I'm saying here.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Trailer Sunday Presents the Films of Luc Besson (Part One)

La Dernier Combat


:Le Grand Bleu (The Big Blue)

La Femme Nikita


Leon: The Professional

The Fifth Element

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Summer Movies (and What Purpose Do They Serve?)

 As you may have noticed, in my review of The Avengers on Monday, I spent some time comparing the film to other "summer movies" / entertainment / etc. Because I wanted to focus on The Avengers as a film (eventually), I left out a lot of why I think its place in with respect to other "summer" fare is helpful. I compared The Avengers to the 2009 Star Trek reboot by JJ Abrams because both films are heavy on personality, entertainment, and flash while adeptly masking the limitations of their respective plots.

 Star Trek and The Avengers are not the norm for the May-to-August run of movies, when people have the most free time and are more likely to go to a nearby multiplex with the family, plop down $50 on tickets and concessions, and escape from reality (and the heat) for two hours. Movies are, by nature, escapism, and while Marvel super heroes and space adventures as escapist entertainment, I give them a little more credit than what passes for "movies" most summers.

 Let's step back quickly and explain how "summer" movies differ from the rest of the year: generally speaking, studios are looking to make movies that bring in the maximum amount of profit while costing as little as possible. Some directors are more than happy to oblige this, some are more interested in telling captivating stories, and there are a few that are capable of doing both. The group that falls in the middle usually see their films released at the end of the year, somewhere between September and December*, in the lead up to "Awards Season," the period between January and March where critics, guilds, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences determine which film was the "best" of the previous year.

 There's a reason that most of those films all seem to have been released during the same period and rarely the summer beforehand. Even less likely are the films released in January and February, the unofficial "dumping ground" for movies that the studios have no faith in recouping their cost. In March and April, there's a slow build of excitement for the big "blockbuster" films coming in May (now the official kickoff of "summer" movies), and a studio might take a risk and release something early to test the waters (John Carter is a good example, both of Disney testing the waters and also of how it didn't work).

 How far back does this go? While you could argue that "spectacle" movies have been a staple of Hollywood since they started competing with television, it's fair to say that the modern trend began with the success of Steven Spielberg's Jaws in 1975, followed by George Lucas' Star Wars in 1977. From that point on, studios increased their attention on releasing big budgeted "blockbuster" movies during the summer to capitalize on a willing public. After this point, the summer releases become more laden with sequels and we're beginning to get to the point that many film purists complain about where the "product" begins to outweigh the picture, and movies like Jaws 3D, for example, become regular releases.

 That's not to say that all summer movies were dispensable cash-ins: it's fair to point out that Apocalypse Now, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Blade Runner, Aliens, Die Hard, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Do the Right Thing, and Big were all summer releases**, among many others. The increased desire for summer entertainment provided a number of fine releases, along with sequels to horror movies, action films, comedies, and science fiction. Some were successful, some weren't; remember that Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, and Batman & Robin were all released in the summer.

 Actually, let's take a look at something, because while I don't want to hang it all on Batman Forever, after Jurassic Park in 1993 things get a little shaky with respect to the "big" summer movies.

1994: Speed, The Lion King, True Lies
1995: Batman Forever, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Apollo 13(?) (that or Judge Dredd)
1996: Mission: Impossible, The Rock, Independence Day
1997: Batman & Robin, The Lost World, Men in Black
1998: Godzilla, Armageddon, Saving Private Ryan (or Lethal Weapon 4)
1999: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Wild Wild West***
2000: X-Men, Mission: Impossible 2, Gladiator (or Space Cowboys)

 And now we get to a point where it's a lot harder to pick the top three...

2001: The Mummy Returns, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, The Fast and the Furious, Planet of the Apes, Moulin Rouge, Shrek, AI: Artificial Intelligence, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Jurassic Park III, American Pie 2, and Rush Hour 2.

 Let's leave it at that, because after 2001 it gets much more difficult to narrow down the films vying for your attention. This is not to say that I didn't leave out choices for earlier years - I did - but not nearly as many as I would be doing if I wanted to continue past 2001. Actually, it looks like I don't have to hang it all on Batman Forever necessarily, because of the movies listed in 2001, the only one I even vaguely enjoyed was AI, which is the least "summer" of the releases.

 Bear in mind that I consider The Mummy to be a perfect example of modern "summer" entertainment, in that it has all of the qualities studios check off when making a list of what audiences "like": action, jokes, appealing leads, special effects, stunts, name recognition (title), genre recognition (similar to Raiders of the Lost Ark template), and even some creepy horror for that demographic. The Mummy balances all of this well without taking too many risks and is accordingly a fun movie that doesn't leave much of an impression when it's over. If you prefer, you could substitute Independence Day and generally have the same description.

 Anyway, somewhere along the line, let's say with Godzilla or Armageddon, the need to appeal to as many audiences as humanly possible became more important that if the movie was watchable. Godzilla is generally remembered as a movie of shameless ad placement, gaudy soundtrack, bad acting, dumb action, and a nonsensical plot. That's if people remember it at all. It was heavily advertised as an "event" and didn't live up to it at all. From that point forward, instead of learning the lesson, studios increasingly made movies where the spectacle was more important than the movie itself, to the point that the number of movies that make you groan outnumber the ones you remember being very good.

 This isn't going to turn into some polemic about how movies today aren't any good or that summer entertainment is almost always garbage designed to get people in theatres to watch movies based on board games or toys... well, okay, let's look at Battleship as compared to say, The Avengers. Not fair, but so what?

 The Avengers is based on four (or five) movies that preceded it all derived from Marvel comic book characters. It joins together four studios: Universal, Paramount, Disney, and Marvel, stars all of the lead characters from each of the previous films (released in 2008, 2010, and 2011) and is written and directed by Joss Whedon, whose only other feature length motion picture is Serenity, a spin-off of a cult sci-fi-western hybrid cancelled by Fox a decade ago. It's a risky proposition, even if you have the utmost faith that everything can go right. It did go right, massively so, which is a good sign for risk taking moving forward.

 Battleship's trailers proudly proclaim "From Hasbro the Company That Brought You Transformers," is based on a board game that it bears no resemblance to other than the fact there are battleships. Its cast includes a pop star (Rihanna), a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model (Brooklyn Decker), one of the vampires from True Blood (Alexander Skarsgård), the guy Universal is hoping you don't associate with John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), and Liam Neeson (Liam Neeson). That covers most demographics ages 18-30, has name recognition, and has tied itself to Transformers, a series of movies that people don't seem to like but they still go see the new one every time Michael Bay cranks one out. Battleship is from the writers of Whiteout and Red (Jan and Erich Hoeber) and the director of Friday Night Lights, The Kingdom, and Hancock (Peter Berg). To be fair, Berg also directed The Rundown and Very Bad Things, two movies I happen to really like. Call me cynical about audiences, but I expect that people will flock to Battleship whether or not it is any good as a movie.

 In the interest of fairness, I must admit that I am excited about a Ridley Scott movie that increasingly looks like a prequel to Alien (Prometheus) and Christopher Nolan's third foray into Batman (The Dark Knight Rises). It's hard to argue that despite the fact that Nolan's Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and Inception are surprisingly clever movies disguised as "spectacle" that I am not buying into the hype for the second sequel to a recognizable brand name comic book character that is, in itself, a reboot of Warner Brothers Batman films from 1989-1997. Similarly, despite the fact that I haven't enjoyed but a handful of Ridley Scott films since Gladiator (let's say Matchstick Men, Kingdom of Heaven, and American Gangster) that I'm excited to see Prometheus based on its (denied) connection to the Alien series, which has been MIA since 1997, unless you count those terrible Alien vs Predator films.

 I am also interested in seeing Piranha 3DD (sequel to a remake), Moonrise Kingdom (based entirely on its director, Wes Anderson), To Rome with Love (new Woody Allen), The Bourne Legacy (sequel / reboot), Total Recall (remake), The Expendables 2 (sequel), and a wary curiosity about Dark Shadows (TV remake), Men in Black III (sequel), and while I don't plan on seeing them, The Amazing Spider-Man (reboot), and G.I. Joe - Retaliation (sequel). I never saw the first G.I. Joe, but then again I hadn't wanted to watch a Fast / Furious movie until Dwayne Johnson joined the cast.

 On the other hand, I can't say I have any desire to check out What to Expect when You're Expecting, LOL, The Road, Snow White and the Huntsman, Chernobyl Diaries, Madagascar 3, Rock of Ages, That's My Boy, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Madea's Witness Protection, Savages, Ice Age 4, Ted, Neighborhood Watch, Step Up: Revolution, or The Apparition.

 The Cap'n isn't representative of most moviegoers, so I can totally understand why people will be seeing these movies even if I don't feel the need to. Despite knowing a number of people who are going to see Dark Shadows because Tim Burton directed it, I can't get over the fact that I haven't liked any of his movies since Big Fish. And I've seen all of them. After a certain point, you have to wonder if it's necessary to keep subjecting yourself to disappointment or to just stay away. I have the feeling The Expendables 2 is probably going to disappoint, but I want to give it a shot to see if Stallone and company learned from the mistakes made in first film. I like to risk it sometimes, but a lot of what I'm seeing this summer doesn't feel like it's worth it.

 But that's this summer, and not every summer. Who knows, maybe one year I'll be back every week like in 2008, where the Cap'n and friends saw just about every major release, from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to The Dark Knight to Hellboy II: The Golden Army to The X-Files: I Want to Believe to The Happening, a movie so terrible that it stops being bad, becomes good, stops being good and goes back to bad and then becomes confoundingly hilarious. Actually, looking at that list, The Dark Knight was the only movie that wasn't disappointing, unless you count the stunned silence that followed The Happening. They were the only movies I saw more than once that summer...

 Well, 2010 then! Yes, that's it! Iron Man 2, Inception, Predators, The Expendables, MacGruber, Get Him to the Greek, Dinner for Schmucks, The Other Guys, and Piranha 3D. That's a little bit better. Not great, but I do remember a few of them beyond the initial viewing, which is more than I can say about The X-Files: I Want to Believe or Godzilla. While I consider The Mummy to be a perfect example of "summer entertainment," that doesn't mean I want to watch variations of it, like Van Helsing, and I see a lot more Van Helsings out there than The Avengers and Star Treks...

* There is a second "blockbuster" season that happens between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve, although not to the degree that the summer releases have.
 ** Just in case it comes up, I am aware that Blade Runner was not a successful summer release, nor were The Thing and Tron.They still tend to be smarter than most of what passes for "popcorn fare" these days.
*** It's worth pointing out that The Sixth Sense, American Pie, and The Blair Witch Project weren't on as many people's radars at the beginning of the summer.