Sunday, September 30, 2012


Hey, check it out!  Another good R-rated SciFi action movie.  They're just raining good movies these days, huh?

"Looper" is a movie with a pretty clever central SciFi concept, based around time travel.  The idea is that there is a select group of amateur assassins who work for mobsters in the Future and get rid of people.  These assassins are not time travelers, they live their lives in completely linear fashion.  Just every day at 11:30 drive out to the Kansas corn fields, a man from the future suddenly teleports before them, and they blow them away.  This way future crimes are completely unsolvable, since no body can ever be found, and even if somebody in the present did find the future bodies, they could never identify them since these people do not technically exist yet*.  For their work, the Loopers are given a few bars of silver on the victim's back, then they get to run off to the city, take some "Cowboy Bebop" Bloody Eye drugs, and bed prostitutes.  However, our hero, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, one day comes across a particularly difficult target:  his future self.  And worse, Future Joe is ready for him.

The trailers have set up "Looper" as little more than Joseph Gordon-Levitt in make-up fighting his future version, Bruce Willis.  Future Joe vs Present Joe.  However, there is considerably more to the story, and this is no simple Bang Bang action movie like "Dredd".  Its actually a lot similar to Bruce Willis's previous traveling adventure,"The Kid", I mean "Twelve Monkeys".  Perhaps not nearly as horrifically bleak, but it does feature Bruce Willis coming back to the past and being given an intensely difficult task, one that seems to be slowly driving him insane.  Present Joe is our protagonist, and for most of the movie his goals are extremely selfish until the movie introduces its hidden secret.  Future Joe just wants to save what's most important to him, but the methods that he must do that require him to commit the worst of crimes.  So "Looper" actually features something of a difficult moral quandary.  With the interesting premise, the deep character-based emotional trials, and the clever twists, this actually comes off as like a Master Christopher Nolan movie.  I suppose director Rian Johnson is Nolan's first disciple for smart, complicated, but still character-driven SciFi adventures.

Now ultimately in a battle between Levitt and Willis, I'm going Willis here.  I like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, he's a fine actor, he was even able to come off as likable in the terrible bland movie "Premium Rush"**, I want to see him back for "Batman 4", but Bruce Willis is Bruce Willis.  Its unfair to have them fight.  The movie was still very good entertainment so see it.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Wow, the West remade "The Raid" a heck of a lot faster than I thought.  Six months?  That's efficiency.

I kid, I kid.  I'm not going to call this a rip-off of "The Raid", because it isn't.  "Dredd" is actually the second movie based upon the "Judge Dredd" franchise.  Its a remake* - I guess - of the 1995 Sylvester Stallone movie, "Judge Dredd", though the two movies could not be more different in style.  Its basically the difference between "Batman Forever" and "Batman Begins".  One is a massively campy 90s action blockbuster, with all the overblown silliness that you'd expect from that era, and the other is a gritty bloody as hell delicious death machine.  And apparently this one is more faithful to comics, so if you're one of those people who have actually read the comics, good for you.  I know a lot of people hated the Stallone version, partially because its over-the-top, partially because Rob Schneider, and partially because... Judge Dredd takes his helmet off?  Oh whatever, fanboys, Stallone is beautiful in that movie, I regret nothing.  Also, you have to love the way Stallone and Armand Assante are able to growl out the word "LAWWWWW!!!!"

The new version has no LAWWW!!, no comic reliefs, no giant robots, no Hershey, and no catchphrases.  The story is down to simplest narrative efficiency.  Rather than adapting a huge comic book story arc and dealing with dozens of characters, writer Alex Garland just cut through the knot and decided to do one single day in Judge Dredd's life of fighting crime.  Dredd and his rookie partner, "Other M"-style Samus Aran walk into a tower to investigate a few murders.  Then the local crime lord locks the place down, and Karl Urban has to kung-fu his way up and kung-fu his way down to stay away.  Actually, no, unlike "The Raid", Dredd doesn't use Indonesian martial arts, instead he shoots people in the face.  "Dredd" should have been named "Bullets Explode Heads: The Movie... In Brain Blasting 3D".  And this is a hard R, they don't spare a second of blood or gore.  People die, and they die badly.

If you're one of those people who hate violent movies and complained in the 80s about all those greasy action movie that glorified violence... well, fuck off.  "Dredd" is awesome.  Violence is cool, PG-13 needs to die and I know exactly how to kill it.  Put Karl Urban in a Judge helmet and have him blow PG-13's face right off.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Project X

Unfortunately going back to college has deeply inhibited my ability to review new movies, which makes new posts somewhat difficult.  So I'm pretty much grasping for straws for things to work with.  Unfortunately there isn't a great deal out there worth talking about.  "Project X" is a movie that really isn't worth talking about either, but its a movie that came out this year that I saw last night.  So its pretty much all I got.

Essentially the idea behind "Project X" is portray the world's wildest high school party ever.  Of course, high school parties are lame, so ignore that middle part there, and move it forward to:  the world's wildest party ever.  Its a perfectly terrible and shallow dream mostly full of terrible and shallow people rubbing up against each other in their own terrible shallowness.  Its essentially the ultimate high school fantasy, where three nerdy guys* put together the world's hugest and most disastrous party ever, spending literal millions to get the approval of hundreds of strangers who they'll never meet again.  And of course, to be the coolest kids in... high school.  Alcohol is consumed, houses get trashed, bras go off, babies are made, and eventually it all descends into a riot where the unending social greed of these little pricks is punished through epic scale in apocalyptic flames of destruction.

Actually I wasn't very mad at the movie watching it, but if you give it very much though, "Project X" is actually a largely terrible movie with a disgusting moral compass.  It is just a goofy comedy and basically nothing more than silly high school fantasy, but really its a movie totally devoid of real people or real characters.  Its all just as soulless as the drunken gyrations that made up the party.  This is a movie that says with a straight face that all that really matters is that you become coolest kid in school - high school.  No matter how much violence, damage, and probably deaths that have been caused in your massive struggle to be popular, its all fine if at the end of that day you can say "I had the biggest party in history, and I'm so great."  Usually high school movies that star kids with the (pathetic) goal to be the coolest kid in school eventually learn at the end that there's more important things in life than being admired by hundreds of strangers who honestly don't care about you, that the things that really matter are friendship, greater life goals, and loved ones.  Nope, that's not the case with "Project X".  Burn your house down, screw it, they'll never stop talking about you.  And I guess that's the 21st century dream.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Deadman Wonderland Anime

Who was the moron who ended this anime on episode 12???  I'm going to find you, and write the most beautiful story ever, just for you.  Its going to be a work of soul and magnificence, both clever, entertaining, and soul wrenching.  Then, at roughly, let's say, a third of the way through, I'll just cut off mid-sentence.  No conclusion, no nothing, I won't even finish that particular thought, the manuscript is totally blank after that.  You'll never know anything after that.  THEN YOU'LL KNOW HOW IT FEELS, YOU MONSTER.  SUFFER!  SUFFER FOREVER!

"Deadman Wonderland" actually isn't a bad anime series... its just a complete waste of time.

This was one of the two big new shows for the revamped Toonami for Saturday Night, along with "Casshern Sins"*, which accompanied Adult Swim's surviving anime series of "Bleach", and reruns of "Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood" and "Ghost in the Shell".  So it wasn't, honestly, the strongest line-up, at least at first.  "Bleach", to my great shock, actually got watchable again once it managed to focus on a battle between the main hero and a villain that actually matters.  "Casshern Sins" started really poorly but has gotten much better now it has a plot.  But really, for awhile, "Deadman Wonderland" seemed like the star of the line-up.  It had a dark bloody storyline, but also a great sense of irony, since all this brutality and slaughter was taking place in a tourist trap theme park.  And it was all going well... until it just ended.

Now, what I didn't know was that "Deadman Wonderland" is an adaptation of an ongoing manga - always a bad sign, by the way.  So they started adapting for only twelve episodes, hoping this would be the first season, then they'd take a year break, and presumably do another season and another and another, until finally the show was finished.  This is, in comparison to "Bleach"'s method of adapting a comic, which is make a new episode every week, never stop, and throw in a million dull awful filler arcs, because for some reason they can never stop animating.  Unfortunately, "Deadman Wonderland" was a huge flop in Japan, like a catastrophic disaster - which is strange since this show was pretty awesome - and they managed to sell like 1000 DVDs.  So the show got canceled, and we're watching an anime the truly hasn't been finished.  Yeah, it was a fine anime... while it lasted!  Then it just ends!  What the hell?

The secret here is:  don't watch the anime.  Read the comics instead.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Xenoblade - Part 1

Its not exactly the nicest generation for JRPGs, is it?  Actually we're living in a Dark Age, perhaps the very last years of this style of gaming.  I'm sure we'll see a trickle of these kinds of games for years to come but its hard to imagine them ever retaking their place of cultural relevance.  Especially when you never be sure any Japanese game will get exported to your country.  And the games that are guaranteed to be released?  They're "Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns"*.  Final Fantasy, the flagship of this genre, has scuttled, "Dragon Quest" has gone MMO, and the future could not look bleaker.

But all is not lost!!!  Not by any standard.  Because JRPGs are still running strong and there are plenty on the way to keep us going.  Last month "The Last Story" was released, there's "Pokemon Conquest", there's "Persona 5" on the way, we got the Studio Ghibli-Level 5 combination of "Ni No Kuni" next January, and Square Enix, despite their endless stupidity lately, are still making "Bravely Default: Flying Fairy", an excellent-looking classic RPG.   Premier amongst this list, though, is "Xenoblade", perhaps the best-received JRPG in years, at least of this current console generation.  Sadly it took us over a year of arguing, begging, protesting, and pleading to finally get it released here in the United States.  But we won in the end, and here's our spoils:  a damn good RPG.  Exactly the thing you need to forget just how bad certain other gaming franchises have gotten.

"Xenoblade" is a game made by Monolithsoft, and developed to be a vague tangential successor to "Xenogears" and the "Xenosaga" trilogy.  Its also directed by Tetsuya Takahashi, who was the primary creative force behind those titles.  The other Xeno games have a troubled history, one I'll probably cover when I eventually review "Xenogears" (which won't be for awhile), but all they really suffer due to over-ambition.  Takahashi usually goes into his titles thinking of massive epic tales that would require six games to complete.  This time he just made a single RPG, essentially taking the vast open freedom of "Final Fantasy XII" and multiplying it to infinity.  This game is huge in size, and that is really its primary selling point.  Just one location, the Bionis Leg, could fit pretty much all of "Final Fantasy XIII-2", and that's the second location in the game.  The size is mind-boggling in its epicness.  But its also a solid game with great characters, great music, and a gripping interesting storyline.  This is the game you should be playing now.

The Innnocence of Muslims

How often is it that a movie is so incredibly bad that people are killed over it?  "The Innocence of Muslims" is one of the very few cases in history of a film actually resulting in immediate deaths and carnage, because of how just unbelievably insulting, insensitive, and repugnant it is.  Years ago, films like "Passion of the Christ" created huge protests, "Song of the South" is never going to get released again for its quasi-racist undertones, and the British for awhile were particularly fond of banning gory horror movies.  But "The Innocence of Muslims" is on a whole other level, since it has directly caused the deaths of American diplomat in Libya, Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.  Worse, Stevens was a good man, working his best to help stabilize Libya and secure democracy there, so its a massive loss for everybody involved.

Really, the only movies that are on "Innocence of Muslims" level are Leni Riefenstahl's Nazi propaganda piece, "Triumph of the Will" and D. W. Griffith's historically revisionist silent-era Ku Klux Klan epic, "The Birth of a Nation"*.

Now, I haven't actually seen "The Innocence of Muslims", all I've seen is an incredibly-long thirteen-minute trailer on Youtube, which is pretty much a selection of choice scenes to give me the gist of what's going on.  And thirteen minutes is probably too much of this movie to even watch, considering how utterly terrible it is at its very core.  This is a movie with the central message that the religion of Islam is a lie, the Prophet Muhammad was an insane (homosexual?) womanizing pedophile, and that all the entirety of Muslim culture represent is violence, barbarism, and hilariously bad greenscreen effects.  With a message so blatantly hateful, its hard to say there's any message at all here, except as perhaps some kind of elaborate joke.  Eventually I'm sure there will be full cuts of this movie available, but its never going to theaters, and its never getting a DVD release.  Unless of course, you find some horrible racist right-wing Christian group to distribute it.  With production values as bad as the subject matter, "The Innocence of Muslims" is also a pretty good successor to movies like "Troll 2" or "Birdemic".  Only those bad movies had something of an innocent stupidity to them... this is just hateful.

I couldn't laugh at it.  I was laughing for awhile, but eventually the raw evil of this product overcame even my ironic love of bad cinema.  Its too much evil to me to enjoy.  There really is no reason for "The Innocence of Muslims" to continue existing.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Christmas Story..... 2 Trailer

This is a thing now.

This is one of those trailers that are really terrible, but they don't make you angry. They make you sad. Really really sad. Its a straight-to-DVD sequel to the perennial Christmas classic, "A Christmas Story", that movie you see pretty much every Christmas. I'm not even a huge fan of "A Christmas Story", in fact, I could live the rest of my life never seeing it again, since I already know every joke, every gag, and every moment, its meaningless now. I'm the guy who wants the football game on, usually. But its still a classic, I still have a warm spot for that movie, like the rest of America. And to see it just... tortured by this terrible goddamn idea for a movie, its hard to take. Jean Shepherd, the narrator and comedian who wrote all the Ralphie stories, he's been dead for ten years. What hope could this movie have? NONE. I guess I should ask as to what any of these people were thinking making this movie, but the answer is clear: they weren't thinking, and they aren't actually people.

Its also being made by the same company that made "Ace Ventura Jr.". And no, that exists too. Yeah.

"A Christmas Story 2" is coming out on October 30th, perfectly in time for... Halloween. Probably because they knew this was a true horror movie, frightening in a visceral soul-destroying way that the "Paranormal Activity" movies could only dream of.

Also, this is exactly the worst gift for the holidays. If there's somebody out there you really really hate, buy them "A Christmas Story 2".

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Starship Troopers: Invasion

Let this be a warning to you all:  "Starship Troopers: Invasion" sucks.  I cannot recommend it to anybody for any reason.  So on that, I should just end the review there, it would the sensible thing to do, you probably never heard of this movie, and you weren't going to see it anyway.  I doubt many people will even read this since, again, its an obscure straight-to-DVD film.  But it sucks, still.

The Starship Troopers franchise has a long and storied history, one that is significantly more interesting than the current subject matter of this post.  "Starship Troopers", the novel, was written by one of the oddest science fiction authors of the 20th century (and that's saying a lot), Robert A. Heinlein.  Like most of his novels, its not a story as much as an extended essay or thought exercise in some possible future society.  Heinlein really isn't very consistent with his philosophy, he pretty swung in every direction from socialism to fascism, constantly pondering as to where a person should stand in his or her society.  For example, he once wrote a whole novel that was really nothing more than an extended argument for why incest isn't so bad, "Time Enough for Love".  Then there's at least two books about nudism.  I cannot recommend any of his books, even when they seem like they might have interesting topic mattes, they all inevitably descend into characters sitting in a room and talking endlessly in a Socratic dialog.  And "Starship Troopers" was Heinlein's brief foray into advanced militarism.  Essentially stating that the perfect society is Space Sparta, where you need to fight to get a vote.  They also fight giant bugs in space, but that's hardly relevant to the actual point.

"Starship Troopers" was not adapted into a movie until 1997, by Paul Verhoeven, a director insane and silly enough to match Heinlein.  Verhoeven hated the novel he was adapting, and thus turned his whole movie into a grand farce, mocking the militarism and quasi-fascism of the original novel and dressing Dougie Hauser in an SS uniform.  The movie "Starship Troopers" is both a guilty pleasure action fest B-movie of the highest quality, its endless fun, you got super models fighting bug aliens for an hour and half its great, and also a take-that to Heinlein.  You need to realize this movie is mocking itself, and like all Verhoeven movies, half the joy comes from that fact he never takes anything seriously.  It holds a special place in my heart as the first I ever saw that was R-rated and had nudity (I was six at the time).  I really recommend this movie.

Now, "Starship Troopers: Invasion" is the third sequel to that movie.  And it sucks.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters Trailer

Sadly not a horror comedy sequel to "Zoolander".

I guess Hollywood learned nothing when they released "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter".  Which admittedly was actually profitable, if just barely, but still, what a piece of crap.  If the concept sounds like the stupidest thing you've ever heard in your life, it probably will end that way.  I mean, Jeremy Renner is a cool dude, and they sure seem to have invented about one hundred weird crossbow weapons (Renner can't seem to get away from bow weapons, can he?), but I'm not getting any sense of fun out of this movie.

Maybe its me, but I'm so stone-cold shocked into some of psychological fugue state because of the title and the concept, I know I could never enjoy this movie.  And I'm not alone in being just completely floored by how stupid this is.  And there isn't even a sense of irony, they seem to be playing this straight.  Its Hansel and Gretel... fighting witches... for some reason.  WHY??  I think we've reached some kind of event horizon of stupidity with Hollywood now.  They've gotten so bad with their adaptations that I'm pretty sure next year we'll see a big budget action movie of Ovaltine!  "Ovaltine: Werewolf Impaler", directed by Brett Ratner.  Because why not?  "Vulnerable Bede: Martian Manhunter".  "Cheerios: Demon Slayer".  "Barnie the Dinosaur: Back 2 Da Hood!"  How much worse can it get?

(By the way, Hollywood, if you're thinking of actually making "Barnie the Dinosaur: Back 2 Da Hood", I already have the script completed.  That will be one million dollars, please.)

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos

"Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos" might possibly be the very last thing in the Fullmetal Alchemist franchise that we'll see for a very long time.  This is a both a good and bad thing.  The first "Fullmetal Alchemist" anime is one of the best Japanese TV shows ever made in my ignorant Western opinion, and "Brotherhood" was... good roughly until I realized the story wasn't going anywhere interesting.  But its still one of the most successful and well-animated and most brilliant anime/manga/crappy PS2* game franchises ever.  On the other hand, I'm kinda glad its coming to an end, because let's be honest, "Fullmetal Alchemist" had its time, it shined beautifully, but we should resign it to just being a good memory of our pasts. Even "Dragonball Z" ended, even "Bleach" is ending.  And that's not a bad thing.  All things must end, and they're better for it.

"The Sacred Star of Milos" is actually not a bad swan song for a very good anime franchise.  The movie that you can best compare it to is "The Conqueror of Shamballa", which was just a huge mess and pretty much ruined the ending to the first anime**.  "Milos" does not try to tack on another ending to the story, instead it goes out of its way to avoid continuity, and can basically exist as an unspoken-of side adventure in either anime series.  Ed and Al are still looking for a way to get their bodies back, but this is after they learn that Philosopher Stones are (spoilers) MADE OUT OF PEOPLE (spoilers).  I think the movie, though, is fitting more towards "Brotherhood" continuity, but I'm not a big enough fan of this franchise to really care one way or another.  I don't think "Sacred Star of Milos" was actually released in any theaters here in the US, but the DVD is out now, and its available online for free on the typical anime sites... if you're morally questionable to watch it there.  Which I am.

Anyway, as a movie, its passable, really.  Don't expect this movie to be your grand entry into the "Fullmetal Alchemist" universe, and really don't expect the finest storyline yet out of this universe.  As a movie, its actually pretty mediocre, the plot really drags in the first hour as the story dumps a mountain of exposition on us.  Then the second half is just endless action fanservice for the fans.  Which is fine, I wasn't expecting a classic out of this, and neither should you.  Its just one final adventure for the Elric Brothers, one complete with a volcanic eruption, werewolves, an army of Batmen, mysterious masked villains, and one dude who knows most Ice and Thunder magic.  So its actually something of a fun ride, if just a tad messy.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Do I Have to See the New Terry Malice Movie?

Terrance Malick made another movie in under a year.  Despite being a so-called "recluse filmmaker", the guy sure seems to be enjoying his post-"Tree of Life" career high and already made another completely incomprehensible epic about... assorted things.  But this time it has Ben Affleck!  And according to the immediate reports from Venice Film Festival (arty crap like Terry Malice movies always have to open in a festival), its even more incomprehensible and awful than "Tree of Life".  Apparently its the "least narrative" movie yet from this guy, to the point that Ben Affleck has less than ten lines in the entire movie and Olga Kurylenko spends her entire screen time spinning.  Just in case this movie didn't look bad enough, in reports, Terry Malice tore up his own movie, leaving various high-name actors like Rachel Weisz and Michael Sheen on the cutting room floor.

In this world there are hundreds of aspiring talents, young filmmakers who would sell their souls to work for five minutes with somebody as famous and talented as Michael Sheen.  And Terry Malice is so spoiled he can just throw them away in order to make... some kind of message about something.  Who the fuck knows?  I really wish I were Terry Malice, because from he's standing us little filmgoers and critics must seem hysterical.  Pathetic little ants struggling to uncover his grand pattern, when he knows that he has no pattern at all and is laughing his face off.  Or maybe he's actually come to believe his own bullshit.  Its awful.

So anyway, do I have to go see this next "Provocative Sensory Experience" from Terry Malice?  If you read my "Tree of Life" review, you'd know that was the worst filmwatching experience of my entire life.  And I've seen a lot of bad goddamn movies, trust me, but Terry Malice is the Lord Protector and Royal Majesty of Shit Movies.  I really don't think I have it in me to watch another one of these things.  But since I reviewed one, I feel almost like I'm required to do the other?  I know it would be entertaining for you guys, but this is almost beyond me.  I'd rather watch a full Transformers marathon than ten minutes of Mallick.  Maybe my own ego is too desperately clinging to its own illusions about the solidity of the world around me and I can't release my psyche into the greater spiritual existence.  Or maybe the movies are FUCKING BORING and I think I'd kill myself halfway through to save myself the doldrums.

Seriously, tell me I don't have to do this.  I really don't want to watch this movie.  My God...  Please help me.