Sunday, March 1, 2015

March 2015 Look-Ahead

Wait, February is over?  Already?  That was strange, it only lasted four exact weeks.  Anyway, now that it is over, we have a new month, one that is called "March".  The Planet Blue court mystics and witchdoctors tell me that this month will see the end of winter, a day where night and day will be the same length, and a couple of weekends where most of the nation will be drunk to celebrate a foreign holy man who hated snakes.  There's also a rumor about the End of Days floating around here, but that's probably nothing.

For this blog's purposes, however, March will see new movies and video games!  So let's Look-Ahead as we always do.

"CHAPPiE" (March 6th) - Hey, a remake of "Short Circuit"!  ...You all know "Short Circuit" right?  ...It was a movie.  ...In the 80s.  ...There was a robot named Johnny 5 who came to life.  Whatever, you all need more culture, okay?  Anyway, "CHAPPiE" comes to us form Neill Blomkamp, the visionary who gave us "District 9" and the total hack that gave us "Oblivion".  It stars Blomkamp's favorite actor, Sharlto Cooper as Chappie, an emoticon-faced robot that comes to life and has to fight an angry Hugh Jackman.  Blomkamp is also obsessed with practical-looking greasy metal machines, and Chappie is obviously one of his creations.  This is a lot cuter than anything he has made before, so it is something of a gamble.
--Chances to be Good:  70%.  This is one of those movies where my honed swordsman instinct on movie quality has no real answer.  It could be brilliant, it could be "Oblivion".

"Unfinished Business" (March 6th) - I have no faith at all in Vince Vaughn at this stage in his career.  The more boozed-up washed-out middle aged failures he plays the less I am convinced this is an act, and the more he depresses me.  Luckily he is sharing the screen with a young Dave Franco, playing Mike Pancake, who actually seems to have some fun clueless energy.  Also there is a Tom Wilkinson for some reason.  The plot is that three businessmen must close a deal in Europe and everything goes wrong in the typical bawdy comedy way.
--Chances to be Good:  50%.  This actually does not look too bad.  Not really all that funny, but not that bad.  Nobody is screaming at least, so it is more tolerable than most comedy trailers.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Going to PAX East! And Other Business

So Space Monkeys, here's some assorted news. I will be attended PAX East in Boston next weekend as a guest of Wikia, those damn fine Americans and damn fine foreigners who took me along to E3 last June.  If you ever need to wiki or need to know arcane fanboy knowledge of anything, use a Wikia wiki.  Anyway, I will be a part of some events, probably nothing too fancy.  Might be on Internet TV for a moment, I'll have to share all that biz with you fine folks.  Kinda excited.  Gonna have to make reaction posts and stuff for you guys here.

If you're going and want to find me:  I'll be a human male wearing clothing.  That should narrow it down.

Other Business:
  • I really wanted to review the new Razzie Winner for Worst Picture of 2015, Kirk Cameron's "Saving Christmas".  However after trying every means both legal and highly illegal, I cannot find this movie anywhere.  Nothing.  I was even willing to pay real US-backed currency to see it, but no.  So the review will be delayed until I can find a source.  Though if I were Kirk Cameron, I would leave the film buried forever, so I can't blame him.  But it does ruin my plans, I was really excited about writing about a truly bad movie.  Oh well.
  • Today the new David Cronenberg movie "Maps to the Stars" was released in theaters.  I already saw it at the New York Film Festival last fall, so I don't have a review to write about it.  Instead I'll just repost (or first post, don't remember if I ever shared this here) my article about Cronenberg and his movie that was published on Criticwire.  This piece received such stellar acclaim as "I hope to god the author of this review ceases to write about movies." and "Has no one noticed the misspelling in the title of this article??"  "Maps to the Stars" is a great film, really worth your time, go see it - and read the article.
  • The Final Fantasy Wiki's LP of "Final Fantasy VII" will be wrapping in a few weeks after many criminal delays.  I'll be in the finale and was in about every other episode.  Our next project is going to be "Final Fantasy V", hosted by a man only known as "Hexedmagica".  I'll be taking part in that project as well.  If you find my voice as sexy as I do, please watch
  • I know months ago I said I would be changing the blog's name, I'm not doing that.  Five years of investment in one name is just too much to give up on.  Sorry if you were looking forward to a change.  Planet Blue will keep on turning, forever.  No matter what.  And nobody will ever stop us.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Kingsman - From Irreverence With Love

In 2012 Matthew Vaughn, fresh off of saving 20th Century Fox's biggest superhero cash cow with "X-Men First Class", was given his chance to make a sequel.  That film would be "X-Men: Days of Future Past", a huge time travel epic.   However, Vaughn, despite being offered a mountain of gold and several virgin concubines by Fox, decided not to make "Days of Future Past".  He was more inspired by an obscure comic book series called "The Secret Service", created by David Gibson and Mark Millar.  So what has Vaughn's gamble given us?  What kind of a movie was worth giving up the chance to direct Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence in a tight blue body suit?

Having seen "Kingsman: The Secret Service", I can say that Matthew Vaughn made the right choice.  Powers greater and more unfathomable than myself for some reason have declared that 2015 will be the year of cheesy 1960s espionage throw-backs.  After "Kingsman" will come "Spy", an ugly Melissa McCarthy parody that appears to be mostly fat jokes.  Then comes a film remake of "The Man from U.N.C.L.E", which was a TV series that your parents or grandparents might have seen, directed by Guy Ritchie.  And then in comes the granddaddy of all them, the new James Bond movie, "Spectre".  Everybody wants to put a modern spin on classic secret agent narratives.  But if your new wave spy film is aiming for cheesy un-serious action fun, you have already lost, because "Kingsman" has won that battle.

"Kingsman" has a simple kind of formula:  action, flash, more action, and sillier flash.  This is not a deep interpersonal character narrative.  Vaughn creates a nice tempo with just enough self-aware lightness to not be a biting satire, and just enough ridiculous action while not being a circus.  Veteran British actors such as Colin Farrell, the ever-awesome Mark Strong, and the ever-slumming Michael Caine mix well with the new-comers, Taron Egerton and Sophia Cookson.  This cast of good wholesome British Whiteness must fight a very hammy Samuel L. Jackson with a lisp who seems to be conjuring Steve Jobs by way of Spike Lee.  This is the sort of movie that room for a patently ridiculous role such as that.  Altogether "Kingsman" is an energetic piece of action fluff:  humorous, comfortable with it's own ideas of cool, and topped off with an irreverent wit.

Freelancin': Oscars Post-Show Rant

Well, it's just a day too late for this post to be relevant in any way, but whatever, here is the Post Show Oscar post.

My predictions were... wrong.  A lot wrong.  But that's not what I'm annoyed about.  This was not a good Oscars Show, and I do not have much good to say about.  I'm glad "Birdman" won, but otherwise, there were not many great moments to speak of.  This was a great Best Picture field, and there were many great nominees, 2014 still was a fantastic year for movies.  But goddamn was this show boring.  Really mad that Michael Keaton lost.  It really hurts when a slogging show needed a great spark like that.

For giggles, here are my (almost certainly wrong) Predictions for the 2016 Academy Awards Best Picture Nominees:

1. In the Heart of the Sea, Ron Howard movie about an 18th century boat sinking
2. Joy, David O. Russell ("American Gangster", "Silver Linings Playbook") with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, AGAIN
3. The Hateful Eight, Quentin Tarantino movie, all you need to know
4. The Revenant, Inarritu Makes Western
5. The Sea of Trees, Gus Van Sant, McConahhey, suicide forest Japan
6. Brooklyn, Sundance favorite, Irish romantic comedy starring Saoirse Ronan
7. Untitled Speilberg Spy Thriller
8. Carol, Cate Blanchette and Rooney Mara are totes lesbians yo in the 1960s
9. Steve Jobs, biopic starring Michael Fassbender
10. Queen of the Desert, Werner Hertzog, he's overdue, critics will love it.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Planet Blue Rambling Shambling Oscar Post Pre-Show

As time continues it's inexorable slide forward towards our inevitable doom, we have once again arrived at the most important weekend of the movie-watching calendar:  Oscar Weekend.  Yes, it is the Academy Awards, the very sanctum of cinematic excellence, the highest honor any filmmaker can receive.  It is also an award show constantly mocked for irrelevance in the modern world, boring slow pace, and inability to ever pick either movies that matter to real people or the truly best movie of the year.

As always, I'm not having any of that cynicism.  Yes, winning Best Picture is probably the best way to make your film no longer matter and be completely forgotten in a year.  (Remember "The Artist"?  No?  Me neither.  Hell, do you even remember "Argo"?)  Sure, Academy voters are overwhelming White male old people who can easily be bought by Harvey Weinstein - and if you're a Republican, you know they all hate America and are communists and are Muslims and are gay.  But still, there is a reason the film media, myself included, are overwhelming fascinated by the Academy Awards.  Because it is a legitimate forum for great movies to be presented to a mass market that really would just rather watch a superhero film or something with Melissa McCarthy.  Compare to the Music Awards.  Sam Smith's "Stay With Me" is a miserable shallow excuse for Gospel, and yet it is the Song of the Year according to the Grammys.  You do not find that kind of selling out with the Academy.

However, this post is not to reinforce what we already know, it is the big Oscar Prediction post!  Last year I did the Oscar Prediction game and if you recall, was right about everything.  Then again, last year's show was probably the most easily-predictable Oscars of my lifetime, and the only surprise was Alfonso Cuaron winning Best Director for "Gravity" over Steve McQueen for "12 Years a Slave".  I was wrong that one time.  Can I beat that record in 2015?  No.  I can't.  This year is a much more difficult race, with two clear rival frontrunners battling for the Best Picture position, and several fantastic movies and performances dividing up the show.

Anyway, let us begin.  These are Blue Highwind's 2015 Oscar Predictions: