Monday, November 28, 2011

Twilight 4: Breaking Down

Being a blog author sometimes isn't all that its cracked up to be.  I mean, yeah, there's the fame, fortune, and the adoration of fans all around the world, that's great.  But sometimes no number of panties sent in the mail by horny attractive female admirers can ever make-up for the less pleasant part of the job.  And by less pleasant parts, I'm talking about Twilight here.  I've been waiting a few weeks to see this movie, mostly because I was hoping to find an empty so that nobody could spot me actually paying money to see a Stephenie Meyers production.  I don't mind the movies so much, but if I ran into somebody I knew there, it would probably slaughter myself in shame.  Unfortunately the one I picked was packed weeks later.  Why aren't these people seeing "The Muppets"?  So I just had to sit my head high and laugh at loud at the movie these people actually cared about.  Then again, by writing so many posts on this subject on this blog, my future biographers will know my closeted fascination in this franchise.  In fact, my interest in Twilight will outlive me, because this blog will be floating around forgotten on the Interwebs years after I'm gone.

So when you remember Blue Highwind, remember this, he was a Team Jacob Twihard.  He willingly brought all of this upon himself.

Last time on Twilight, "Eclipse" turned out to be the most structurally well-made movie of the entire "Saga"*, which is why it was horribly boring and intolerable in every way.  The first two Twilight movies are masterpieces of awkwardness, probably the clumsiest and ham-handed romance movies you'll ever see that are not directed by George Lucas.  You could not ask for more hilarious disasters of movies, and for that they will always have a place in my heart right next to other grand failures like "Howard the Duck" or "Batman and Robin".  "Twilight 3" was merely mediocre, not hilariously bad, so I was somewhat disappointed.  But "Twilight 4" is properly entertaining, easily the best of the four in terms of pure movie making, yet still intensely stupid.  So its everything I could have asked for:  bad premise, bad story, bad implications, and quite a lot of blood at the end.  This is far away from the worst movie of 2011, remember a Transformer movie came out this year along with that ungodly piece of shit, "Green Lantern".  And its well shot!

Still, this was a movie that should have properly been rated R.  They should have gone all-out, pure gory insanity.  The end of this movie is like the ending to a Peter Jackson comedy: with blood all over the floor.  Why can't they relish that fact?  Why do we need to keep playing this show for the romance crowd?  The romance is over, the horror has finally begun.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Muppets

I thought "the Muppets" would be a fun, hilarious, and entertaining movie.  Then I saw it, and saw a fun, hilarious, and entertaining movie.  If you've ever liked any Muppets products before this, the 70s variety show, the 80s and 90s movies, or any of the other stuff, this will be a movie well worth seeing.  If you never liked the Muppets before, well I guess you won't like this movie as much but it still is a fun movie worth seeing.  Kids will like it, adults will like it, old people will like it, puppets will like it, and 97% of critics on Rotten Tomatoes will like it*.  So the only thing is missing, I guess, is for you to see it.  Which should change very quickly.

The Muppets, as always, are a comedy/musical/self-parody group delivering laughs and entertainment to all.  Modern day Vaudeville with puppets, basically.  Since I'm completely out of my depth reviewing a comedy, I guess I'll use this paragraph to describe what bits of the Muppets I've personally experienced.   When in doubt, be egotistical, I say.  So I saw a couple of the movies, particularly the ones that came out when I saw kid "Muppets Treasure Island" and "Muppets Christmas Carol".  They're fine movies, sorta mediocre but fun enough, I guess.  The 70s show is what I really recommend, though.  Its amazingly clever, very funny, and full of great slices of old-timey 70s entertainment.  I've only seen a pile of the original show's episodes (I started out with the Star Wars episode and worked my way down), but I think it really is a great bit of humor, even forty years later.

What this new Muppet movie brings to the table is actually surprisingly little in terms of an original take on the Muppets.  There is a new storyline with human characters plus a new muppet sewn in, but they're not the story.  They're part of a small ensemble cast out to save the Muppets Theatre from an evil oil magnate named, Tex "Blatant Name" Richman.  Its all extremely old-school, even if big name actors Jason Segel and Amy Adams are in the mix.  "The Muppets" is a warm-hearted charming retread of a classic series, just like Disney's earlier movie this year, "Winnie the Pooh".  Both films were made entirely out of love for their franchise.  Which is why, of course, they're both some of the best movies of 2011.  "The Muppets" is great.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The People vs George Lucas Reaction

"The People vs George Lucas" is a tell-all documentary telling basically the entire story of the Star Wars fandom and their reaction to Star Wars' self-declared "owner"*, George Lucas.  The movie tells the long saga, from the glorious happy reactions to the Original Trilogy, to fan nitpicking over the Special Edition changes, to very bitter and very unhappy times that were the Prequels.  This movie covers it all, from Jar Jar to fan films to the "Star Wars Holiday Special".  Through a long line of talking heads that include film scholars, nerds, directors, producers, pretentious French dudes, Neil Gaiman, Japanese cosplayers, and just about everybody who cares enough about Star Wars to talk about it and tell their story.  Over 400 hours of footage were compiled together into a collage of hatred - and a lot of love - for George Lucas and the numerous issues around Star Wars.

I'm not going to review "The People vs George Lucas", its not really my thing.  I like to comment on stories, how they're developed, why they work, and how effectively the creators can create a new world for you to enjoy.  "The People vs George Lucas" is a non-fiction film, there is a narrative created by the chorus of voices, but its not a story**.  I recommend watching it if you're a Star Wars fan, or just somebody with a passing curiosity who wants to understand the arguments on both side.  So instead of actually reviewing this movie, I'm putting together a response, basically my own thoughts on where Star Wars stands today.  Watching the Phantom's recuts "The Phantom Edit" and "Attack of the Phantom" brought up a lot of emotions for me, and I still have a lot to say about Star Wars.

A lot of people during the course of "The People vs George Lucas" gave their testimonies on what Star Wars means to them.  Obviously I had nothing at all to do with the making of this movie, I sent nothing in, but I would have liked to.  If I had known that this movie was being made (I only found out thanks to a Half in the Bag episode), I definitely would have tried to send in something.  So maybe this is a rant, we'll see where this goes.  I might delete the whole thing once I'm done, but I think I actually have something to add to this discussion.

Monday, November 21, 2011


So recently I bought a PlayStation 3 for the incredibly low price of eighty-five bucks.  That meant I could finally go back and play all the amazing high-def video games that I had missed over the last few years.  So my first thought turned to "Final Fantasy XIII", since that was the singularly most landmark RPG of this entire generation and a huge game that took half a decade to make.  Then I remembered that I hated "Final Fantasy XIII" from the sight of it, and would never play it unless some sadistic Nazi surgeon grafted a PS3 controller to my hands, forcing me to be psychically incapable of anything but playing video games for the rest of my life.  So instead I got "Bayonetta".

Oh, I know somebody is going to ask, but my "Skyward Sword" order isn't coming until the 28th for some reason or another.  And yes, I have cried about it.  Returning to the point:

"Bayonetta" is an action game developed by the same guys who made "Devil May Cry".  The point here is to create a game even more ridiculous and over-the-top starring the most shameless fanservice delivery device Sega could find, a witch clad in black leather with guns for stilettos and a fetish for lollipops.  The main point of this video game can be seen very clearly in the image I picked for this post.  Examine it closely, and you will understand "Bayonetta" completely.  Of course, I still can't tell if "Bayonetta" is a straight example of pure male pandering or just some kind of over-the-top parody of the trope.  Maybe somebody at Sega was fed up with the annoying feminist argument that all women in video games were "mindless sluts", so they went out of their way to create the most slutty absurd sex object ever in this game's star, the titular Bayonetta.  Or maybe nobody cared at all and were just trying to be as ridiculous and Japanese as possible.  This is the "Batman and Robin" of video games, something so campy and downright stupid that it almost feels self-degrading to lower yourself to its level and try to examine it critically.

So I guess I'll mostly talk about the gameplay, which is largely solid, if painfully, horribly, wretchedly unfair.  And the loading.  There's a lot of loading.  So wait thirty seconds for the rest of this review to load up, and move on to the rest.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Who is Mediocrest of them All?

In 1937 Walt Disney created the first full-length animated film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs".  It was a timeless classic of American film, starting off a glorious tradition of Disney films that have continued to this day.  Today, "Seven Dwarfs" is the remembered version of the Grimm Brothers fairy tale, and is often cited as the greatest animated film of all time.  All other adaptations have to meet this standard, or inevitably be forgotten.  Personally, if I were going to pick a more modern Snow White movie, I'd go with "Snow White: A Tale of Terror" starring Sigourney Weaver.  If you're wondering what kind of movie that is, read the title carefully.  Well, I guess Hollywood has once again run out of ideas, so now they're making not one, but two live-action remakes of Snow White for next year.  And they both look terrible.

I'll start with the more decent one first, "Snow White & the Huntsman".

It all starts out decent enough, with a soundtrack borrowed directly from "Tron: Legacy" and Charlize Theron acting creepy.  And then she's bathing naked in white paint, and well, that's... that's just fine by me!  She's sucking out souls, there's medieval knights fighting, this all looks good.  A dark character study starring the Evil Queen.  Then Charlize asks her mirror who the "fairest of them all" is.... and guess who they cast?

Fucking Bella Swan.  You can starting laughing now.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Star Wars Episode II.I: Attack of the Phantom

Recently I reviewed "The Phantom Edit", the commendable fan-recut of "Episode I" as a desperate attempt to save that movie.  Now we're moving on to the direct sequel made by the same Phantom Editor, "Attack of the Phantom".

I really recommend that you listen to the commentary track that the Phantom made for his recuts of the Star Wars films.  It really shows that these edits are a labor of love.  This guy loves Star Wars, he loves what it stood for, he loves the characters, he loves the philosophy of the stories.  And most notably, he loved George Lucas.  There's a heartbreaking moment about an hour into "The Phantom Edit" where he recounts that he won a poster in a Star Wars contest as a kid which he always intended for his childhood hero, George Lucas to personally sign it.  Then he notes that with the public acrimony that "The Phantom Edit" created, culminating in fit of bravado from Lucas that he'd never watch the recut under any circumstances, that signing of the poster will never happen.  I can't tell completely from the commentary since its audio-only, but I think the Phantom might have been crying a little bit when he tells that anecdote.  It shows he really cares about this Saga, he wants the prequel movies to be successful epics on the same level as the Original Trilogy.

George Lucas, as far as I can tell, has no such interests.  He only seems interested in stroking his ego by constantly telling himself that he knows better and doesn't have to listen to anybody.  "Attack of the Clones 3D" is coming sometime in 2013, probably released as the same movie over again, which all its major faults.  Nothing will be fixed, and the movie will suck just as bad as always.  I can actually understand how somebody could have been fooled into liking the Prequels - of course, you have to be a child to think like that.  I was eight when I saw "Episode I", and even though my parents left the threatre ready to kill themselves, I thought it was great.  I was eleven when "Episode II" came out, and I was not fooled.  Even that young I recognized that the movie was lousy, that the acting was terrible, and that the love story between Anakin and Padme was the most hilariously bad romance to be created in the history of human expression until the coming of Stephanie Meyer.  So if an eleven-year-old could see it, how in the world could George Lucas, a man who spent his life telling stories and making films be oblivious to these flaws?  He isn't, he can't possibly have not noticed, he just can't show weakness.  He can't let himself admit that the Prequels suck, and until then, the world will be cursed by mediocre awful Star Wars.

Of course, our dear Phantom missed nothing, and immediately recognized that "Episode II" was a disaster.  So he took out his pruning shears, ready to try to save George Lucas's film legacy once again.  This time, the Phantom cut out a full forty minutes from "Episode II".  This was originally the longest Star Wars movie, now its ten minutes shorter than "The Phantom Edit".  Since "The Phantom Edit" actually made "Episode I" a measurably worse of an experience all in all, I have to wonder if "Attack of the Phantom" can possibly do better.  Let's find out.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

J. Edgar

Can you feel it?  The world has moved on.  The winter's chill has murdered the Summer Blockbusters, forcing their hibernation until next May.  And in their place a new tribe rules the film dominion:  the Oscar-bait.  The currency of pretentiousness has replaced mindless action.  Great thespians replace sexy young stars.  Where is Michael Bay now?  He can't go outside in a season like this, art is poisonous to being like him.  Instead he's hiding deep underground, blasting his ears with explosions and meaningless Chris Tucker noises to drown out any strap bits of culture that might seep into his head.

"J. Edgar" is a child of its age, clearly.  The first of many movies made not for people like you and me, but for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  It hits every note on the Oscar-bait checklist:  1) its a historical biopic, 2) stars a homosexual*, 3) is directed by master Oscar-fisher Clint Eastwood, and 4) stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Dame Judi Dench, two darlings of the Oscar circle.  I guess what this movie is telling us is this:  "GIVE ME THE OSCAR NOW NOW NOW NOW!!!"

Unfortunately, the only thing worse than such shameless Oscar-bait is bad shameless Oscar-bait.  Movies like "The King's Speech" are great because they play up the Oscar-bait role perfectly, telling great universal stories.  Why couldn't that happen here?  J. Edgar Hoover was a fascinating figure in American figure, ruling as the Presidential Court's Master of Secrets for half a century.  You'd think somewhere in there would be a great story to tell, turns out no.  Instead, Clint Eastwood made a pathetically dreary slow movie that's more a romance story than any kind of spy thriller.  "J. Edgar" is boring, that's all you need to know.

Bleach Recaps Have Moved

"Bleach" was never a good show, but even I never thought it would get this bad.  So ultimately, I can't be bothered to keep writing about the show, and even if I did, as you've noticed, school demands have increased considerably, so I don't have the time to write four posts a week like I was pulling back in the summer.  Already I have a big backlog of posts, I can't throw "Bleach" onto the load.  (And I'm trying to create something substantial of my own outside of this blog, so that's another chunk of time lost from the week.)

On that note, my dear friend HeadBodyMaster has taken up the candle of "Bleach"-ness.  There's a new arc on the way, one that actually looks good.  Here's his recap of Episode 230, enjoy it.  He's done an excellent job of recreating my work, and is funny on its own merits.  So head over to Head Body World, when you get the Bleach bug.

As for me and "Bleach", I don't think we're completely divorced from each other.  I'll be reviewing the movies when they come out in English.  Movie 3 is coming later this week.  And I might just make a final comment on the seasons when they're finished, who knows?

Til next time.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Star Wars Episode I.II: The Phantom Edit

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but here we go: "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" is coming back to theatres in February.  In 3D.  Because when George Lucas made this movie back in 1999, he knew that it was such a horrific, truly awful experience that you simply had to see it with a bloated ticket price and half-assed 3D effects.  However, the technology  for lame overused 3D was just not there in the 20th century, we had to wait until now.  Its all part of his grand artistic vision to destroy everything.  At this point, I think even George Lucas knows how bad the prequels are - the truth of it could not have escaped him by now.  Since he knows what he's doing, asking people to pay money for a movie like this is downright criminal, and I'm begging you not to see the "Phantom Menace 3D" under any circumstances.  Instead, go watch Harry S. Plinkett's greatly informative and moderately psychotic review of "Episode I" on RedLetterMedia.  All around, that is a superior movie.

We've all been through the Star Wars prequels before this, let's agree that they're... not good.  "Not good" is the most diplomatic way I could describe these movies.  A year ago, I actually proposed that George Lucas completely remake the prequels, using a thin outline of a script that I wrote in an afternoon.  So far, Lucas has not contacted me.  Though maybe, just maybe, in the last year Lucasfilm clandestinely made the totally kick-ass movie I imagined last year.  In which case, I'll be expecting a very lovely check.  Well, let's go see the trailer then.

...Mmm-Hmm...  Podracing...  Didn't have that in my plans.  Or Jake Lloyd.  Or stupid robots.  Or Jar Jar.  Or a big stupid NOO.  Yeah... this is the same fucking movie from 1999.

Since "Episode 1" has sucked so bad for so long, it was inevitable that somebody would try to fix it.  And that somebody was not George Lucas, he couldn't care less*.  Instead, it was a person called "The Phantom Editor", who took a scissor to his "Episode I" DVD and removed eighteen minutes of running time, invented a few seconds of video, creating "Star Wars Episode I.II: The Phantom Edit".  This was out of the goal to make the movie better, more dramatic, less stupid, less Jar Jar-y.  I first heard about this version several years ago, but never could find it on the Internet, until now.  Today I just found it on Youtube, the complete movie.  Whoever uploaded it must have balls of castiron, since I'm sure Lucasfilm will shut this thing down by tomorrow, but for now, its popcorn time.  Personally, I think "Episode I" is the worst out of all six movies (but not by much), and any attempt to save this trainwreck would be worth it.  But can simply cutting out a scene or two make a film worth watching?  We're about to find out.

Friday, November 4, 2011

ParaNorman and Arriety Trailers

I got two trailers for you lovely readers today, both of which are animated, and both of which are 2012.  Time simply does not move fast enough, clearly, because they're movies being made by some of the biggest geniuses in the business currently.  Along with Pixar's Gaelic apology for "Cars 2", "Brave", 2012 is shaping up to be a really good year.

First of all, we have a film about me circa third grade, "ParaNorman":

"ParaNorman" is proudly advertised as being made by the same people who made "Coraline", the greatest movie ever made*.  And really, that's all I need to hear.  "Coraline" is friggin' incredible, its a movie I love more every single time I see it.  Well, "ParaNorman" isn't actually being directed by Henry Selick, the man who gave us "Coraline" and the misleadingly-titled "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas", since he's been stolen by Disney-Pixar.  But it is being made by the same animation studio and the... storyboarder.  So well, the connection is there, "ParaNorman" really seems to want to be some kind of spiritual successor to "Caroline", like "Corpse Bride" was to "Nightmare".  So I'm looking forward to this.

The main character (presumably named "Norman") is a horror film geek, like I was before I grew up to be an adult horror film geek.  Of course, since he has the misfortune of growing up in the 21st century, he doesn't get the experience of running to your local video store and renting out the entire selection of "Friday the 13th" movies.  He has to live in the sad world of getting "The Omen" from Netflix and discovering he accidentally rented the shitty remake.  Can horror even generate a new generation of fans anymore?  It bastardized its own history in the last decade, leaving every classic defiled.  Poor kids.  At least Norman is well-adjusted enough to pretend to be a toothpaste zombie.