Archive for the 'TRAILERS' Category



SAILORS vs. ALIENS: Can we talk about the BATTLESHIP trailer for a minute?

Alright, so Universal Pictures, director Peter Berg, and writers Erich Hoeber & Jon Hoeber have turned this:


Note the women in the kitchen doing their patriotic duty.

into a $200 million movie that looks like this:

What the fuck was that?, you ask? Well, I don’t have that answer. Now, right off the bat, trying to turn a board game into a piece of narrative cinema is no small task. I’ll grant you that. And it’s been a long time since we’ve seen a film with some real badass naval combat, mostly since it also hasn’t happened in the real world in about 70 years. We’ve never seen naval combat between human battleships and alien battleships. So…there’s that! When this project was announced last year, I purposefully avoided pretty much every piece of news about it, because I wanted to wait for a trailer to find out just how in the world they would turn this board game into a movie. Until this trailer debuted, I had completely forgotten who was in the movie. I just knew it was directed by Peter Berg, who has some experience with big summer movies, having last directed Hancock.

Alright, so the plot they’ve come up with is “formerly promising Navy officer-turned-renegade earns back his respect and honor by fighting off an alien sea invasion, all the while trying to convince his commanding officer that he’s the right guy to marry his supermodel daughter.” Does that about sum it up? I can’t wait to see how they explain why these alien ships were just floating there dormant (immune to radar and sonar detection), and all it took to wake them up was a human touching it in just the right spot. Oooo! The magic touch causes one ship to wake up, it sends a signal into space that apparently encloses what looks like the Hawaiian islands in some kind of dome, and then several other ships emerge from the depths, slingshot out of the water into the air, then splash back INTO the water to confront a U.S. fleet. Huh? Oh, never mind. BATTLESHIP!

One of the things I’m most annoyed by here is that in the past year and a half or so, Hollywood has completely played out my favorite subgenre, the alien invasion, and this will be about the 48th movie or TV show recently to showcase attacking aliens. Enough already! Even I don’t want to see another alien invasion story for about a decade. In this case, I’m just wondering how the Navy is gonna keep these ships (which we’ve already seen can fly) seabound. Or is this an alien race that specializes in sea invasions? They’re gonna conquer the Pacific Ocean? Why would these guys stay in the water and fight the Navy instead of flying away and attacking where it matters? They have the technology to get to Earth, but apparently their GPS gets fucked up by salt water…or something. I’m actually excited to find out how they explain this logic gap to the audience. Does Admiral Liam Neeson use The Force to keep them the water?

So the plot is intriguing if for no other reason than its apparent stupidity. The lead is played by Taylor Kitsch, who came to fame through Berg’s TV version of Friday Night Lights (which I may or may not have praised a few times), in which he was fantastic as football hero/outlaw Tim Riggins. Now, he’s suddenly another “it guy” that Hollywood is trying to force movie stardom upon (a topic I’ve discussed ad nauseam). His first big movie role was playing fan favorite mutant Gambit in the utterly mediocre X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Needless to say, neither Kitsch nor the filmmakers did Gambit justice in that film. In 2012, Kitsch is the lead in two of the year’s biggest movies, Battleship and John Carter [TRAILER], which used to go by the much more appropriate title John Carter of Mars. Strangely enough, now Carter looks like a sequel to Cowboys & Aliens. One commenter on the trailer’s YouTube page called it Gladiator vs. Aliens.

I’m still not sure just how good an actor the kid is, but looking at Kitsch in this movie, I now understand why he kept that long hair all this time. With short hair, he looks like a young Billy Bob Thornton, which, shall we say, removes a lot his ‘hunkiness’. He just looks so…different. Anyway…


Tell me that’s not Young Billy Bob Thornton.

What a fascinating movie, for all the wrong reasons. The entire main cast is a strange brew. You’ve got yet another “Next It Guy”, you’ve got at least one legit actor in Liam Neeson, you’ve got that dude from True Blood (Alexander Skarsgard), you’ve got a major pop singer making her big screen debut (Rihanna), you’ve got a supermodel (Brooklyn Decker), and another of Berg’s FNL actors, Jesse Plemons (who played Landry on the show). An interesting lot to say the least, but I guess there’s no reason to expect much. It’s not like the film will require a whole lot of acting, anyway. This is the kind of movie younger actors do for publicity, and older actors do for money. Either way, there appears to be only one piece of direction this cast needed; put that “Holy shit!” look on your face again!

I’ll give it one thumbs up already; the movie doesn’t come out for 10 months and the effects (being created by ILM) already look amazing. At the very least it should have some very cool looking (and totally absurd) action. Point is, I don’t even care if this movie is awful. I can’t wait to see it because of how ridiculous it looks. Of course I’ll have a great time pointing out every reason why it doesn’t make any bloody sense, but I’m not expecting it to make any sense. It’s an alien invasion at sea, whatever the fuck that entails. Count me in, brah.


I probably wasn’t the first to come up with Sailors vs. Aliens,
but I did think of it independently, dammit. That counts!

Since I did grow up playing the Battleship board game, I do expect at least some form of homage to the game. I wanna hear someone look at a chart or map and say “They just hit us on grid D-7!”, and/or Liam Neeson screaming, “They sunk our battleship!” I don’t think this is too much to ask.

And don’t think for a second this is the only board game movie Hollywood has coming down the pipeline. No no, Hollywood doesn’t only try stupid things once. In the next few years, you’ll be seeing a Candyland movie (“We envision it as Lord of The Rings, but set in a world of candy.” [I didn’t make that up.]), as well as a Michael Bay-produced, McG-directed (there’s a combination for ya) “four-quadrant supernatural adventure centering around a family” [I didn’t make that up, either.] movie based on the Ouija board. I know, you can’t wait!

-Check out Daniel O’Brien‘s hilarious post, “Novelization of the trailer for the movie Battleship.” [CRACKED]

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Can We Talk About the Footloose Trailer For A Minute?

Before we begin this, in case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the trailer:

Okay, so I saw this trailer again this past weekend in front of Horrible Bosses, and I can no longer keep these thoughts to myself. And no, I’m not writing this because I enjoy the trailer. I hate it. It annoys the piss out of me. When I see it now, I reach for my mp3 player’s headphones and fire up some loud music for the 2 and a half minutes the trailer is up on screen. I can’t even tolerate listening to it. After I saw it again this weekend, I said out loud, “Kill me.” I don’t normally nitpick trailers, but this one is special.

For the 3 of you who didn’t know, this 2011 film is a remake of the classic (Is it considered a classic? I dunno) 1984 Footloose, which starred Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer. That film was nominated for 2 Best Original Song Oscars, most notably for Kenny Loggins‘ “Footloose” (I’m not linking to any video or embedding the song here, for fear of getting it stuck in my head- you know the song). You’ll be shocked to learn that I haven’t seen it. Nor do I particularly want to if it’s anything like this new version appears to be.

So the setting of the movie is the fictional town of Bomont, Tennessee (population 19,000 according to the sign), where “public dancing” is now against the law because some kids got in a head on collision with a truck while driving, and the town officials have had quite enough of that. How their public dancing had anything to do with this crash remains a mystery. I mean, I dunno about you, but when I’m having a lively discussion with my friends in the car, I always veer into oncoming traffic. Oops, just watched the trailer again, and they were DRINKING while at this outdoor dance party (in Tennessee), and appear to be drinking in the car before crashing. So the town officials (led by superserious, stern Dennis Quaid) believe what? That banning “public dancing” will prevent kids from drinking and driving? Mmkay. So that’s your setup; 1) Small Tennessee town where every high schooler is a professional dancer, 2) some of them drink and drive and die, 3) town’s solution is to say, “No more dancing.” Because, you know, teens only drink while they’re dancing.

Digression: If I write a script with that ridiculous set up, it’s going to get sold? Why am I trying to write a good script? Shit!

Okay, so after all this has happened, some attractive white kid (Kenny Wormald, who gets bonus points for being from Boston, but points taken off for doing the over-the-top Boston Movie Accent), who we’ll soon learn is also a professional-level dancer, ends up in Bomont (we’re not told why), moves in with the coach from The Blind Side, and falls for Stern Dennis Quaid’s attractive white daughter (Julianne Hough). She, too, is classically trained in hip hop dancing. Obviously! The two of them end up going on a date to a drive-in movie theater, which (and I’m LOLing while I type this) quickly turns into a dance-off, with the dude doing flips off the hood of a truck and her being so impressed she grinds up on him like they’re in a city nightclub. Stern Dennis Quaid catches them (cuz he hangs out at the drive-in?), and quickly gives her the “I don’t want you seeing him!” routine. Cue small town teenage rebellion, line dancing scene (??), an exploding bus (?!), and…the trailer’s basically over. FOOTLOOSE!

I did not make any of that up. The film is produced by Paramount, but MTV Films is involved, so you can expect to see promos for it during every Jersey Shore commercial break in the coming months as they hype the shit out of it.

I guess the only question left is which trendy hip hop or pop artist will remake the Kenny Loggins song for the soundtrack? I vote for Justin Bieber. No, Rebecca Black!

Why is this worth writing about for an hour? I admit that before the trailer debuted a few weeks ago, I was already somewhat interested in the film, ONLY because (that ‘only’ needs to be stressed) it’s directed by Craig Brewer, whose last two movies were 2005’s Hustle & Flow and 2007’s Black Snake Moan. I adore both of those movies. As such, when it was announced Brewer would be handling this remake, I was at first disappointed, but then curious as to why he decided to do it. Having now seen the trailer, it’s pretty obvious why he did it. While both of his previous films were great, neither of them made a whole lot of money (Hustle & Flow grossed $22.2 million off a paltry $3 million budget, while Black Snake Moan grossed just $9 million of a $15 million budget). It appears as though Brewer is doing this as a favor to the studio. This new Footloose looks like it cost no more than $30 million, and I’m guessing Brewer got 1 of those million up front, easily the biggest quote (Hollywood term for salary) of his career. Brewer also co-wrote the script, which is semi-encouraging for the prospects of the overall quality of the movie. In fact, the only person who would’ve been paid more than him on this project is Dennis Quaid, who probably got $3-5 million. And no doubt both have included in their deals that if this movie is a big hit, they’ll also get some nice bonuses on the backend.

Point being, after slogging through 6 years of making low-budget, low return movies and not seeing much profit, it was time for Brewer to suck it up and do a safe “studio movie”, which gets you the payday, improves your visibility within the industry, and opens up all sorts of opportunities if that movie is a hit. I can certainly forgive him that, because if it is a big hit, Paramount will no doubt let him do at least one more of his own movies, or something else that he’s passionate about. It’s very hard to find financing for interesting movies that don’t make a lot of money (i.e. the ones Brewer usually makes), even if they are low budget. It’s even harder to make any money for yourself doing just those kinds of films. I don’t know what kind of movie Brewer wants to make after Footloose, but I’d bet a month’s pay that it isn’t something like Transformers 4. So he takes a deep breath, covers his nose, does the studio movie, and hopefully gets to do something worthwhile afterward. Or I could be wrong, and this is the first step towards Brewer completely selling out. But I doubt it. I think Craig Brewer is one of the most talented under-40 filmmakers working today, so here’s hoping the future continues to be bright for him. THAT is why I’m interested in the fortunes (or misfortunes) of the stupid Footloose remake. Will I see it? Probably not in theaters, but I’ll check it out on Netflix because I’m interesting in seeing what Brewer brought to it.

You want me to make what?

Hustle & Flow (2 Oscar nominations, 6 Biggie nominations) is such a distinctive vision, in a setting we rarely see in a movie (urban Memphis), and features one of the best “music creation” scenes in the history of film (the “Whoop That Trick” scene). Black Snake Moan (3 Biggie nominations) is simply one of the most unique movies I’ve ever seen, and features perhaps the best performance of Samuel L. Jackson‘s career along with the performance of a lifetime from Christina Ricci. It also singlehandedly got me interested in blues music. Brewer has a special talent for casting, and is one of the best ‘musical’ directors working today, by which I mean the ability to naturally insert music and people playing music into a film (believe me, this is a hugely underrated skill). Naturally, I’d love to see him actually make a musical one day. It’s hard out here for a director pimp.

Here’s the REAL Craig Brewer:


Magical. I don’t know if Sam Jackson has ever been better.

Epic Review for an Epic Fail: TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON

A Film

Well, that’s the last time I put a Michael Bay movie as my “most anticipated movie of the year.” Lesson finally learned. Movie gods, I surrender! I used to be a Michael Bay defender. No more. The man has no desire to stretch his limits, and despite admitting his mistakes from Revenge of the Fallen, he learns nothing from them in his execution of this film. Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a 2 hour, 37 minute hyperventilating mess. I’m actually hesitant to even say that it was better than Revenge of the Fallen. I’m not sure that it is. I am sure of this; Michael Bay is the most immature filmmaker on the planet. I’m sick of his visual “style” (which is simply moving the camera in every single shot and shooting every exterior during magic hour so that white people’s skin is yellowy orange instead of pale). He doesn’t care about making movies that stand the test of time. He cares about making movies that make a lot of money, and that’s it. But hey! He’s immensely successful at doing what he wants to do, so who am I to judge? Unfortunately, that success not only means he gets to continue making big expensive movies the same way over and over again, but it has also made him one of the most arrogant and stubborn filmmakers in Hollywood. Arrogant to the point where now nobody can tell him to his face how stupid some of the shit he’s doing is. He has no financial incentive to change, and that’s precisely what it would take for him to change. Back to the aforementioned question, I’m one of his paying customers, so I get to judge all I fucking want. And today is Judgment Day.

Dark of the Moon has no heart and no soul whatsoever. At least the first Transformers movie had some of both. This one is cold and crude, devoid of any intelligence, and lacking any characters, robot or human, that the audience can embrace.

A bit of a disclaimer here: The reason I’ve been so passionate about Bay and his team getting these movies right (I’ve been very outspoken about it since the day they announced the first Transformers in 2006) is because this is the one geek franchise (that didn’t start as a live-action movie or TV show, like Star Wars/Trek) I can legitimately say I grew up with. I never read comic books as a kid, so when Hollywood screws up something like Green Lantern, I don’t really care, because I was never invested in those characters before seeing the movie. I used to watch the Transformers cartoons every day, and I had more Transformers toys than any other kind of toy (Legos were a close second). In fact, my most prized youthful possession was probably that massive, battery-powered Trypticon toy [PIC]. I worshipped Transformers as a kid, and as such it means a lot to the kid in me to see it brought to life the right way on the big screen. This isn’t me being anal for the sake of being anal or because I have a grudge against Michael Bay. I have a personal history with a lot of these characters, and I think most of them have been handled poorly in these movies. The exceptions (for the most part- none of them have been handled perfectly) would be Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Ironhide, Megatron and Starscream. Long before Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg brought these alien robots into theaters, it was always one of my goals to one day write and direct a live-action Transformers movie myself. And I do mean long before. I was a teenager when I first came up with that idea. Funny enough, I also desperately wanted to remake War of the Worlds, too. So thank you, Mr. Spielberg, for stealing two of my dream projects from me. Just know that when I get heated about this stuff, it’s coming from an honest place. I’m not expecting The Godfather from these movies, but I assure you, Transformers movies infused with heart and soul and humanity are a possibility.


One of these things is not like the other.

There are people like me, who have come out of these last two Transformers movies immensely disappointed, and there are the people who go in and claim to not care that these movies are soulless and utterly incompetent. It’s the old “just show me some giant alien robots fighting each other” defense. These people (and I know several of them) apparently don’t expect that those fights be exciting, or memorable, or well-choreographed, or, I dunno, comprehensible in any way. Sorry, but I can’t turn my brain OFF when I go into a movie I desperately want to be awesome. I’m not gonna excuse shitty storytelling just because there’s a lot of nonsensical action. I also require that the action be good. The next time I hear someone excuse this movie by calling it a “ride”, I’m gonna rip out my armpit hair and feed it to them. If Michael Bay and the studio want to make a Transformers ride at Disneyland, go ahead and do it. Putting 3D glasses on does not turn shitty, mindless action into a “ride”. This is being advertised as a movie, which is what it’s supposed to be. Movies have stories and plot structures that are supposed to make sense. Forgive me for refusing to let go of that expectation.

The good news is, despite the fact that I keep hearing (from sources I trust) that this is the best live-action 3D since Avatar, I don’t have to shell out 12 bucks to go see it again in 3D, because the movie is bad, and I don’t want to see it again, in 3D, 2D or otherwise. I don’t see good movies in 3D, so why would I see this in 3D? My New Year’s resolution of No 3D in 2011 is still intact, and this was the most serious threat to that resolution of any 2011 movie I can think of. Viva 2D!

Not that it’s a big deal, but we will be getting into some minor spoilers during this review. Oh, fuck it…the Autobots win! The Autobots win! Good prevails! And Sam gets to keep his British supermodel girlfriend! There, I ruined it. Now can we proceed?

WHAT I LIKED

-I still find Shia LaBeouf likable in the Sam role, but hopefully this is the last summer action movie he does for a long time. The kid is too talented to be wasting his time with this stuff anymore. It’s time for him and his agent to start making better career choices going forward. For now, Shia can rest comfortably, knowing that no man has ever screamed as often as he does in this movie. No, really, he screams a lot. Girls who get cast in future horror movies should look at this performance for inspiration.

Sam’s big character struggle in this movie is that he’s angry that he can’t find a job where he “matters”. No, I’m not kidding. He can’t find a job, and he’s very upset that he can’t openly brag that he saved the world from the Decepticons twice. THAT is Shakespearean depth, people. That’s literature shit right there. No fear! He doesn’t really have to worry about money, anyway. He’s got a British supermodel girlfriend who’s paying his rent, so he doesn’t have to face the real world, or the economy that most of us in the real world have to deal with every day. Woe is Sam.

-I like that they finally gave Optimus his trailer, and that when it transforms, it becomes his armory. Very cool. As always, they make the first Optimus Prime transformation count. The problem is we only see the trailer in action once, at the beginning of the movie, and only briefly. They really should have done just one scene where Prime transforms, and the trailer mysteriously floats away and vanishes, like it always did in the cartoons.

-I liked that Sam’s parents were only in the movie for a couple of scenes. The mom in particular was so goddamn annoying in the second movie that I never wanted to see her again. They’re both cartoons again here, but they’re only in a couple of scenes, so the effects are mitigated. Correct me if I’m wrong, but these two weren’t anywhere close to this obnoxious in the first movie, right? They were almost normal? Really, it’s not even the dad (played by Kevin Dunn, who I usually like) so much as the mom (Julie White), who can’t utter a single line of normal dialogue. It’s joke after insult after joke after awkward sexual reference after SHUT THE FUCK UP, LADY.

-I like the idea of Leonard Nimoy voicing a Transformer. I did not like the execution of that idea in this movie. Sentinel Prime is a muddled character with unclear motives (so of course he ends up being the main villain), and I didn’t like his character design at all. Unmemorable, to say the least.

-I would love to have been in the room while Michael Bay directed the Bill O’Reilly cameo scene. Wow. Talk about two dominant personalities.

-I like that this is probably the last Transformers movie Michael Bay will ever direct. You’ll not destroy my childhood any further, sir.

-I like the conceit at the beginning of the movie about the secret mission behind the original moon landing, but I don’t think it was executed particularly well. That was like 6 minutes without an explosion, and you could sense Bay’s patience running out as the title card came up. Also, the CG work trying to alter and recreate John F. Kennedy‘s face was pretty bad.

Now that I think of it, doesn’t this re-write the entire history they established in the first movie? In this one, we first came into contact with the Transformers in 1969, but in the original movie, none of them showed up on Earth until they were looking for the Cube. Then, in Revenge of the Fallen, it’s revealed that the Primes were on Earth thousands of years ago. Which is it?! I have to LOL at the whole thing. Seriously, watch the intro to this movie and the intro to the 2007 movie. Dark of the Moon pretty much ignores everything that happened in the first one. Continuity is for pussies!

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

The script. Need I say more? Well, I’m not going to. The script is terrible. If I talk about it in depth, my own ability to write a screenplay will decrease. Eat shit, Ehren Kruger, you hack. You haven’t done anything worth a damn since you adapted The Ring…9 years ago.

-Despite the fact that dozens of human actors appear in the movie, there are hardly any human characters to be found. Almost every woman you see onscreen is a lingerie model, and every male is a wise-cracking spasmatic. Then you’ve got John Turturro‘s sidekick Dutch, played by Alan Tudyck, who is, I dunno, a flamboyantly gay German ex-intelligence officer? He had to be one of the strangest movie characters of all-time. Bay just can’t help himself. No person or situation can be straightforward. How about that stupid bit with the Latina girl in the office, where she’s wearing a tight half-shirt with her tits hanging out while the super nerdy guy scolds her for her attire. And she’s wearing all white, and all the guys are wearing white shirts in this ultra-modern all-white room? What the fuck? I don’t know what movie that scene belonged in, but it did not belong in this one. If you cut out idiotic scenes like that, you’d trim 5 minutes off the run time, easy.

-The Rosie Huntington-Whitely character, Carly. I mean, COME ON! Aside from men wanting to have intercourse with her, what are audiences supposed to find appealing about her as a person, or as a love interest for Sam? Why can’t Sam have a normal looking girlfriend? Why can’t ANYTHING be normal in a Michael Bay movie? Does he not fucking understand that if Sam had even an above average looking girlfriend, people would like her a lot more? No, it has to be one of the hottest females alive. Women can’t root for a supermodel, and men don’t believe a supermodel would date this character. That’s a big fuckin conundrum. That is…if you’re not Michael Bay, and you take things like logic into consideration. Nobody UPGRADES from Megan Fox to Rosie Huntington-Whitely. That’s absurd even by movie logic. You don’t make that upgrade unless you’re famous or incredibly wealthy, or both. Even then, it’s a stretch.

Put it this way, in REAL LIFE, Brad Pitt went from Jennifer Aniston to Angelina Jolie. But in doing so, Pitt had to take on Jolie’s 43 adopted kids as his own. Justin Timberlake couldn’t pull off what Sam does here, and he was with Britney Spears and Jessica Biel in their primes. Shia LaBeouf’s character in these movies outclasses Brad Pitt and Justin Timberlake in real life. That is riotously funny.

I guess if Bay doesn’t have a supermodel on set at all times, he can’t function. Maybe that’s his reasoning. For the record, I didn’t give a shit that they got rid of Fox, because she was mostly an empty character. If, after two movies, your only real character trait is that you’re good with cars, then it’s not gonna be tough for me to miss you when you’re gone. But at least in the first movie, Sam had to chase the hot girl. He had to win her over through deed and circumstance, so it wasn’t totally ridiculous when he finally got her. The scene in this movie where Sam first meets Carly at the goddamn White House is off-the-walls unbelievable. Obviously, in Michael Bay’s White House, every foreign ambassador has a supermodel assistant who is ready to leave her promising career behind and move to D.C. to support an American civilian she just met. I’m sure that happens all the time in the real world.

Given enough movies, I think Sam could give Wilt Chamberlain a run for his money. Really, Sam Witwicky belongs in the Lothario Hall of Fame.

However, all of that said, I thought Rosie H-W did a good enough job with what she was given, considering it was her first acting role. The key words there were “with what she was given.” You can’t tell if someone’s a good actor by watching a Michael Bay movie.


Sure, she’s mildly attractive.

-Like all Bay films, there’s all the usual military porn, but it dawned on me how differently Bay treats certain military characters. He clearly respects soldiers and their commanders, but I guess he doesn’t think much of National Security Advisors (see Revenge of the Fallen) or, in this case, National Intelligence Directors (check out that Wikipedia link to see what this job entails in the real world). I love Frances McDormand, but her character is such a fucking clown here that it’s not even POSSIBLE to take her seriously.

-They wasted Shockwave here like they wasted Devastator in the last movie. Shockwave is supposed to be the Decepticons’ best tactician and second-in-command only to Megatron. Here, he’s…I don’t know how the fuck to describe him. He rides around inside a giant robot…anaconda? So strange. Apparently he drives this giant thing, and of course, it appears anywhere in the world he needs to be at the snap of a finger. We first see it in Chernobyl in Russia, and then when he finally reappears, it’s in Chicago. (I was under the impression that Shockwave was gonna be the primary villain in this movie. Clearly, I was misinformed.) So I guess this giant robosnake dug its way across the globe (and swam across the ocean), showing up in Chicago just in time to fight the Autobots at the end of the flick. Convenient. By the way, I love how it screams, too. It has no discernable face or eyes, but the front “mouth” part of it screeches, even when Shockwave isn’t inside it. Very interesting. And speaking of talking (speaking of talking?), when he first appears in Russia, Shockwave pops out of his driver’s pod/seat/thingie, just to say “Optimus!”, and then he and the snake give up and leave without a fight. That was cute; pop out to say hi real quick, and then leave. How courteous. Wait, no, that was stupid, but what’s more stupid is that anytime you see Shockwave for the rest of the movie, he can no longer speak English. He just grunts and mumbles, walking around the city looking for Autobots like a dunce. Then they kill him off like a bitch, and he barely puts up a fight. I hated it. This is not the Shockwave I know, and though the effects were cool, he was completely wasted as a character and villain. There was no need to call him Shockwave. They should have just called him Slithermumble or some shit like that. Or Serpentor. Wait, that name’s taken.


Sorry, bro.

-I was more than a little peeved by the way they magically reintroduce Soundwave. In the second movie, I thought it was cool and fitting that he was a satellite, intercepting military communications and hacking into U.S. satellites to eavesdrop and gain information. That was one of 3.5 things in that movie that made sense. In this one, for some reason product placement purposes, he’s now a brand new $200,000 Mercedes sports car instead. HUH?! But oh goodie, he retained his Doctor Octopus tentacles! So yeah, I’m pissed off that they fucked up my two favorite individual Decepticons. Unacceptable.

Speaking of conspicuous product placement, Bay has long been the king of it. Did you happen to notice the 39,384 Lenovo LCD computer monitors in the office Sam works at? Did you notice the baffling closeup of a Cisco router? Or Sam’s mom taking a swig of a Bud Light can (immediately after being served a s’more by her husband! Gross!)?

-The Ken Jeong cameo. Sorry, it was just too much, and the Ken Jeong bandwagon is already full, Mr. Bay. Moreover, his shtick as the over-the-top Asian guy is wearing thin. Either way, a Ken Jeong character in a Michael Bay movie is even more insane than you could possibly have imagined. If Jeong’s intensity in the Hangover movies is an 8, they dialed him up to a 10 for this. His character here is so ridiculous that, like almost everyone else, you can barely call him human. He’s more like a crazed chimp. He struts around the office being paranoid and ultra-awkward, mumbling under his breath, and also keeps two pistols under his desk. You know, just in case. Then, he accosts Sam in a bathroom stall and screams conspiracy theories at him. I mean, he seriously may as well have had a tail and been hanging upside down from the ceilings. It wouldn’t have appeared any stranger than this Jerry Wang character already is. Then, for the grand finale, Laserbeak throws him out of his office window, and the movie treats his death like high comedy! Nobody in the office really cares, and John Malkovich‘s boss character (another cartoon character) immediately starts making jokes about it. I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried, people. At the midnight show I went to, 90% of the audience was roaring in laughter when he died, but even the annoying 17-year old who was sitting next to me (and chewing gum with his mouth open the entire fucking movie) was intelligent enough to say out loud, “I don’t think that’s supposed to be funny.” Only, apparently it was supposed to be funny. Sigh.

Speaking of Malkovich, have you ever seen a more inconsistent accent? It was like someone had a child sitting on the floor behind the camera, and that child had an on/off button for Malkovich’s goofy New York accent and just kept bashing it repeatedly.


Too. Much.

-What the fuck is this apartment palace that Sam & Carly are living in? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that absurd characters are living in an absurd apartment, but holy shit. This place seemed to be bigger than the entire house the Witwickys lived in in the first movie. The main living area is so expansive in this place that at one point in the movie, Bumblebee is in the room STANDING UP and moving around. I don’t know the Washington D.C. area very well, but I challenge someone that does to find me where this apartment could actually exist. It’s got a massive spiral staircase, a huge chandelier, and a freight elevator. Because people often park their cars inside their apartments in big cities. That’s common, right? We’re made to understand that Carly is paying for the place herself (poor Sam can’t find a job), and maybe I missed where this was explained, but I’m not quite sure how she could afford it by herself.

-It was kinda dumb the way Tyrese re-enters the picture, was it not? The Autobots are about to be shipped off into space via NASA shuttle, and HEY! There’s Tyrese working as…one of the guys who walks behind the giant shuttle platform? Huh? Okay, then when Sam wants to get to Chicago, Tyrese and his boys are only too happy to take him. Then they apparently drive from Houston or Florida (wherever that shuttle was) to Chicago overnight (or instantaneously if you follow the editing), and of course require no rest before they join the battle. What was even funnier was when they finally do get to the outskirts of the city, after all that traveling, Tyrese takes one look at the devastation, and in all seriousness declares, “We’re not goin in there!” WHAT?! You just drove a thousand miles, dude! And now you want to puss out? Ridiculously bad writing.

And now to the action scenes…

-Due to the way Bay’s team designed these characters, when they’re fighting in closeup you can barely tell what’s going on, because so many of these robots have similar colors and/or the same spikey gray features. This makes the one-on-one fight scenes unintelligible and uninteresting.

The overkill on the slow-motion action shots. Basically, every time this happens, it’s pure audience manipulation. It’s Bay telling you, “This is the awesome part! Cheer wildly when it’s over!” He tries to tell me when I should be impressed instead of letting it happen naturally. This is certainly not a new technique, but when you tell me “This is the awesome part!” 20 friggin times, they all get less awesome due to saturation, and it’s hard to top yourself 20 times within one movie, even if that movie is 157 minutes long. Quick, tell me the best slow-mo shot in this movie! You couldn’t do it off the top of your head, because there were so many of them. You have to pick and choose your money shots. More importantly, the last thing Michael Bay’s action scenes need are an infusion of Zack Snyder.

-There was an awful lot of unnecessary spitting and drooling by the Transformers in this movie. It seemed every time one of them got punched or fell to the ground, there was some form of liquid spewing from their mouths. And it was usually in slow motion, like you’d see in a boxing movie. That was probably at least $250,000 in effects shots they could have saved or spent elsewhere.

The whole concept of the space pillars/teleporters. Ehh, just didn’t work for me, especially when Sentinel uses his 5 rods to teleport the Decepticons off the moon and into D.C. Let’s break this down, in case you didn’t notice just how dumb it was. So the Decepticons have had spaceships and extra soldiers chillin’ underground on the moon for several decades, but they needed a teleporter to get them down to Earth? Huh? Umm…WHY NOT JUST STUFF THEM ALL INTO THOSE GIANT SPACESHIPS AND BRING THEM DOWN WHENEVER THE HELL YOU WANTED!?!? Why didn’t Megatron think of this in either of the first two movies? Did he not know he had an army on standby the whole time? I guess these teleporters also act as alarm clocks for the 200 Decepticons who were hibernating on the moon. What happened to the Transformers being launched down to Earth inside those meteors like in the first movie? There I go bringing common sense into the equation again. Sorry.

-I wasn’t impressed by the final 45+ minute battle in Chicago, either. Sorry, just wasn’t. But this is what most of the film’s fans are saying is worth their hard-earned money and time. Raise your standards, people. It wasn’t that impressive. It wasn’t. You have a bunch of random bad guys that we don’t care about (Sentinel and Megatron are just chillin on the top of a tower while everyone else does the dirty work) mostly shooting missiles into buildings. WOOOOOOOOOOOOW!!! For what purpose though, we’ll never know. Unless you live in Chicago, you don’t have an emotional investment in seeing your favorite skyscrapers destroyed. Occasionally, they kill some random humans, and the effects are pretty good, but none of the main characters even come close to death. Also, because there’s nothing groundbreaking being done here effects-wise, I was never awed by it. This isn’t like the first time you saw the alien invasion sequence in Independence Day. There were cooler spaceships in Independence Day, and much cooler, scarier alien weapons technology in District 9.

Was I supposed to be blown away by the soldiers jumping out of the planes in chutesuits? It was cool, but they used those in the damn Tomb Raider sequel, and I saw a much cooler feature story on people who base jump with those on 60 Minutes a couple years ago.

And what was with the War of the Worlds weapons the Decepticons were using? They were blasting humans with these lasers that left behind only the humans’ skulls and clothes. Umm, why just the skulls and not the rest of their bones? I digress. In general, I don’t like the Transformers’ guns in this movie. There’s no impact or violence or intensity to them, they just make these cute little popping, “pew pew!” sounds that I can make with my mouth. When they hit something with them, all you see are sparks. There’s no real impact damage. They’re not scary or loud or intimidating at all.

Am I missing anything? What else was there that was so fucking spectacular to some of you?

I have a question for the “I loved it because it’s huge alien robots fighting each other!” set; did you love the hour and 45 minutes the giant alien robots weren’t fighting, too? If not, what were you doing during these parts of the movie? Smiling with glee at the shitty humor and subhuman characters? Did you find the rest of the movie a “ride”, too? Or did you really find these action sequences so exciting that you can dismiss the rest of the movie, which is undeniably awful. Seriously, if you think I’m overreacting, how do you excuse the parts of the movie that didn’t have any action? Because that was most of the movie.

-I won’t even bother bashing the Patrick Dempsey character or the whole thing where certain humans were conspiring with the Decepticons. It wasn’t interesting enough to even mock.

NITPICKS

-It was kinda gross that Megatron walks around the whole movie with the right side of his brain exposed. They can bring all these new Decepticons to Earth between the two movies (how they snuck Shockwave down I have no idea), but Megatron can’t get his head repaired?

-It’s cool that he’s in the movie, but Laserbeak doesn’t talk, dude. And he’s certainly not some maniacal, trash-talking schemer. Aye vai.

-Optimus Prime carries this massive sword on him and various other projectile weapons, right? So why, after killing Shockwave’s anaconda, does he get tangled up in a bunch of construction cables for like an hour? And he has to get cut down by his little “wrecker” Autobot buddies? Lame.

-I’m no astrologist (or geologist or physicist, whatever field of study applies), but wouldn’t suddenly teleporting Cybertron into orbit have significant effects on Earth’s gravity? Or the tides? Or my bowel movements? Just sayin.

Other than that, I fuckin LOVED this movie!

To wrap things up, I’m just glad this will be the last Transformers movie for a good while. Yeah, they’ll probably try to “reboot” it 5-10 years from now with another director and a new cast (the series has made too much money for them to just say OK, it’s over, that was nice while it lasted), but we’ll worry about that in 5-10 years. There’s no indication what Michael Bay’s next movie is going to be, but let’s just assume it’ll come out in June, cost a lot of money, have no real people in it, and feature a lot of explosions. Does it really matter what the title is or what it’s about?

I doubt anyone else will do this, but I wish I had the time to take the DVDs of all 3 Transformers movies, and create a 10-minute montage of all the stupid, random, gratuitous, unnecessary shit, just to show how absurd Michael Bay’s view of the world is (on the off chance I didn’t just make it abundantly clear). And again, I used to be the biggest Michael Bay defender out there. My assumption was that at some point he would mature as a filmmaker. At some point, I thought he would see all these movies being made by better, more competent directors (say, Christopher Nolan for one) and say, “Hey, I’d like to do something like THAT one day.” I’ve waited long enough for that day to come, and it hasn’t. Sadly, it seems as though he doesn’t have that desire, because he’s too obsessed with box office grosses, and making a different kind of movie might mean taking a creative risk that could result in fewer tickets being sold. God forbid. I’ve been defending Bay since Pearl Harbor, for 10 years now, but I’m done. I’m spent. Let him go make $200 million PG-13 summer movies for the rest of his career if that’s all he aspires to. If he doesn’t want more for himself (creatively), why should I? Fuck’m.

In the final equation, the 2007 Transformers is the only one in this series that’s on my love list. Even still, the best Transformers movie ever made came out in 1986, and it was animated. After what we’ve seen these past 4 years, it seems that animated may be the way these characters should stay.

Until next time! I can’t wait to be disappointed by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 in a couple weeks. Too pessimistic?

FUN READING:
GQ recently published a lengthy compilation of quotes from Michael Bay’s actors, producers, writers, friends and other collaborators, all giving their brief and various opinions of the man and his work. Very amusing/interesting read. [Blow Up: The Oral History of Michael Bay]

Here’s some telling quotes from Bay himself, straight from the article:

On making a different style of film for Pearl Harbor: “I don’t change my style for anybody. Pussies do that.”

On critics: “It’s funny with them. You are making entertainment. People get so angry about it.”

On deciding whether or not to make a third Transformers movie: “I’m not going to sit in my house by myself—what am I going to do? Leading the fat cat life—I don’t want to do that. I’d rather go back in the trenches.”

Still one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen: Robot Chicken’s BAYSPLOSIONS trailer:


If this isn’t the quintessential Michael Bay photo,
I don’t know what is.

Fun fact: I wrote “Michael Bay” or “Bay” 35 times in this review.

IN OTHER MOVIE NEWS:

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is nearing a $1 billion global gross. It will be the 8th movie ever to accomplish this. Do you understand how depressing that is? Worldwide, it’s going to outgross The Dark Knight (though TDK still has it crushed by more than 2:1 in U.S. grosses). Note to self: for huge international grosses, have your movie take place outside the United States.

-A couple of highly anticipated trailers finally debuted this week, one for Steven Spielberg‘s new Oscar-bait movie, War Horse, and the other for Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. I think each is exciting in its own way. Watch em, and I’ve got comments after each. As always, I recommend switching the video quality to at least 720p HD.

Will you look at that photography? Holy shit. At least visually, we know Spielberg has lost nothing off his fast ball as he’s aged. On my Most Anticipated Movies of 2011 list, I put this at #3, so I’m very happy to finally see a trailer for it. Spielberg hasn’t made a great film since Munich in 2005, and actually hasn’t directed anything since that horrid 4th Indiana Jones in ’08. Nothing would please me more than for this to be the best movie of 2011. And let’s face it, this year it won’t take much to be the best movie of the year. If nothing else, it shows that there’s still some hope left for the fall/winter lineup. Like I said on that previous post, I think this story is right in Spielberg’s wheelhouse, and again I have to marvel at Janusz Kaminski‘s cinematography in this trailer. Wow. Strangely, this clip has gotten a lot of ignorant negative feedback on the internet, with people making various unfunny jokes about this’ll be the first time a horse wins Best Actor. The movie isn’t just about the horse, idiots, it’s about this young man trying to find the horse and return it home in the midst of World War I. If it were a fucking dog, I’m betting those same a-holes would find the idea utterly compelling. Would you rather watch an interesting story like this at Christmas, or go watch the 57th comic book movie of this dreadful year instead? Get a clue. This should be a damned fine movie.

I like it, but don’t love it. Yet. What immediately sticks out to me is a seemingly gratuitous use of CG in the stunt sequences. That Kremlin explosion at the beginning looks cringeworthy, but I’ll withhold judgment because I’m sure it’s not a completed effects shot. But really, you couldn’t have done that with a big model? Again we have the struggle these franchises face as they get into movies 4 and beyond, and that’s the desperate desire to up the ante. In this case, they thought blowing up Red Square would be a good idea, and then later in the trailer you’ve got a giant cloud of CG dust chasing Tom Cruise. This makes me kinda nervous. By the way, does anybody sprint in a movie with more intensity than Cruise? I love it. Despite the CG, there’s still a lot of cool hand-to-hand combat and a car chase, and I absolutely can’t wait to see this sequence in Dubai, where they actually had Cruise climbing around on the world’s tallest building. Just seeing that monstrosity on film is pretty awesome. I wonder how far away you’d have to put a camera to get the entire building in frame.

As previously noted, this is of course the live-action debut for director Brad Bird, who did the underrated Iron Giant as well as The Incredibles and Ratatouille for Pixar. If ever there were an animation director ready to take the next step, I’d say Bird would on that shortlist. Allegedly, this will also be the Mission: Impossible film that transitions Cruise out of the lead role, and in a perfect world for Paramount, the franchise will continue with Jeremy “I’ve been cast in everything” Renner. It’ll be interesting to see how that transition occurs. I’m also very happy to see Tom Wilkinson and the beautiful Paula Patton join the cast. Anyway, smart move to use an Eminem song over the trailer. Gotta get those kiddies’ attention.

One more shits and giggles:

I’m posting this review on July 3rd, 2011, which is the 15th anniversary of the release of Independence Day, one of the movies that changed my life as a youngen. It currently sits at #40 on my list of all-time favorite movies.

This teaser trailer first appeared in January of ’96, attached to a now-forgotten sci-fi horror movie called Screamers. After seeing the trailer, I found it difficult to concentrate on the actual movie I came to see, and that was the longest 7 month wait of my life.

We’ve seen about a dozen alien invasion movies and TV shows in the last year (with at least one more coming in Cowboys & Aliens), and I’d say none of them compare to the excitement I experienced watching iD4 that summer. The visual effects still hold up today, and in fact are more impressive than most of this year’s “blockbusters”. Put it this way, almost everything you see being destroyed on the ground is real. It’s either a model, a miniature, or a practical explosion. Now, almost all of it would be created in a computer, which is the completely wrong approach. Hollywood has changed a LOT since 1996. For instance, that summer you had maybe 6 big movies. Nowadays, every single week there’s a new $150-250 million event movie cramming its way into theaters, and as a result, very few stand out anymore. Whereas in 1996, the biggest movies that summer were the first Mission: Impossible, The Rock (back when Michael Bay movies were good), The Nutty ProfessoriD4 and Twister (another of my favorites).

1996 was the first summer that I worked at a movie theater, and I remember this was the first movie I went to an employee screening for, which was quite a new experience at the time. Seeing a huge movie the night before everyone else could! Holy shit! I saw it at least 5 more times after it came out. I also vividly remember sneaking away from the concession stand and watching the alien attack sequence just about every time it was happening (I even had the timing down perfectly- it occurs about 45 minutes into the movie). I’d come back from watching it, and people would be like, “Where did you go!?” I’d always say the bathroom or something like that. Let’s just say I had a lot of 10-minute bathroom breaks. I must have watched that sequence 50 times the first few weeks it was out.

Independence Day grossed $306 million that year, back when $300 million put you among the highest grossers of all-time. Put in perspective, that 306 would be $544 million today. I would really love to watch this movie on the big screen again. Can someone over at Fox get on that? They should have put it out just for this weekend to celebrate the 15th anniversary. I’d have thought of that if I were a studio boss, but I’m not a studio boss, am I?

I don’t have any recommended listening to wrap things up, because I haven’t had time recently to listen to anything new. Feel free to give me some recommendations. If you managed to read all 6,000 words of this review, I applaud you and appreciate you. Good evening.

Rory McIlroy, Whether You Like It Or Not (and other late June randomness!)

Here is the latest trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, and likely the final official trailer for the entire Harry Potter movie franchise.

I dig it. As I’ve said, one of the greatest strengths of the Potter franchise is its consistency. That may also be its downfall. All of the movies are at least okay, most are good or very good, and none of them are anything close to bad (as movies!- you diehards can argue their merit as adaptations of the books elsewhere with someone who gives a shit). However, because they stay within a certain comfort zone and have to exclude or compact a lot of additional character and plot details/depth from the books, none of them have been spectacularly great, either. I’ve never nominated any of them for Best Picture on my own awards, or in any of the other major categories either (director, adapted screenplay, no acting nominations). I’d love for this to be some Return of the King-level, biblically epic finale, but I have literally 10 years’ worth of Harry Potter movies telling me that would be an unrealistic expectation. Nevertheless, I remain hopeful. And let’s face it, with the way 2011 is going, this is the best chance the series has had to crack the end-of-year “best of” lists.

-Another interesting new trailer is the first clip for Moneyball, based on Michael Lewis‘ best-selling book. It stars Brad Pitt, of all people, as Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane (yes, you read that right). For the non-sports people out there, Moneyball is about how Beane was one of the first executives in baseball to adapt sabermetrics and computer analysis into his player personnel decisions (a common practice now, probably most expertly utilized by Theo Epstein and his team for the Red Sox if I do say so myself), and how his careful attention to minor statistical details allowed the small market, low budget A’s to field a competitive, playoff-bound team at the tail end of the steroids era. It’s a fascinating inside-baseball story. I haven’t read the book, but I’ve always been curious about it. In other words, if I read books at the same frequency I see movies, I’d have read it long ago. The project has a solid cast (Robin Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jonah Hill, and most interestingly former MLB player Royce Clayton making his acting debut playing another real baseball player, Miguel Tejada), but took a long time to come together, because yeah…how do you make a movie about this that more than 50 people will want to see? Whether or not you care about baseball or sports movies in general, there’s only one thing you need to know about this to get your ass in a theater…the script was written by Mothafuckin Aaron Sorkin (he is now elevated above being just Aaron Sorkin). I would watch a movie written by Sorkin if the subject was the forming of a friggin internet company (ba-dum-bum). Moneyball comes out September 23, positioning it as one of the first awards contenders of the year, though I’m not totally convinced this is an awards-bait type movie. I’m very interested to find out. Regardless, I love baseball movies, and I love movies and shows about behind-the-scenes goings on (something Mothafuckin Aaron Sorkin specializes in), so I think it’ll be right up my alley.

-I saw the trailer for Horrible Bosses again in front of Green Lantern. I think the movie has a great [whitewashed] cast and looks really funny, but I can’t get over the logic breakdown with regards to Jennifer Aniston‘s “boss” character. Am I really supposed to believe a guy in his early 30’s is gonna be offended by his superhot female boss constantly making sexual advances at him? That’s every man’s dream! Geez. They better address this conundrum in the movie, cuz right now, I ain’t buyin it. And on the topic of whitewashing (this is going to be a recurring theme going forward, like it or not- I’ve f’n had it with Hollywood’s hypocrisy), it’s worth noting that the only black character we see in the trailer (played by Jamie Foxx) refers to himself as the “murder consultant.” Need I say more?


No! Don’t do that! Get away!
Puh-leeze, bro.

-It’s looking like Quentin Tarantino‘s next movie, Django Unchained, has the potential to be even more badass than Inglourious Basterds (the first film of Tarantino’s that I truly loved). First off all, what a cool premise; Django, a freed slave, teams up with a German bounty hunter to take on an evil plantation owner in order to retrieve his long-lost love, Broomhilda. It was just announced that Jamie Foxx will play Django (awesome!), and we already knew that Basterds Oscar winner Christoph Waltz will play the German bounty hunter, and the villainous plantation owner will be played by none other than Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio’s first major villain role, and it’ll be a Tarantino villain. Holy shit. On top of all that, Tarantino veteran Samuel L. Jackson will also appear, playing the right-hand man to DiCaprio. I’m sorry, but that is one fucking amazing cast. The role of Broomhilda is not yet locked in, but rumors are it may go to Kerry Washington, who I also adore. Tarantino is claiming this will be made in the style of the old Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns, a genre that’s always had a huge influence on his style. My friends, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained; one more reason 2012 will be the best year in movie history. Just remember who’s been calling it.

TV Recommendation: If you have Netflix Watch Instantly, I must politely demand that you check out the BBC’s new Sherlock Holmes show, simply called Sherlock. The show debuted last year, and was just 3 episodes, but each episode is close to 90 minutes long, so they’re more like TV-movies than episodes. This iteration stars Benedict Cumberbatch (which may be the most British name in history) as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as John Watson, who in this version is British army doctor who has just returned from a tour in Afghanistan. What’s most interesting about the show is that it takes place in modern day, and it assumes the classic, 19th century Sir Arthur Conan Doyle characters never existed. It’s a very cool way to “reboot” that character on television. Funny enough, Martin Freeman is playing the younger Bilbo in Peter Jackson‘s two Hobbit movies, and Cumberbatch was recently announced as being cast as the voice of the dragon Smaug.

Two of the three episodes were directed by Paul McGuigan, who directed the highly underrated Lucky Number Slevin (as well as the properly rated Push and Wicker Park). His direction and visual style are on point, so the episodes aren’t just movie-length, but they also look as good as a studio movie, too. Though the show is totally unrelated to the Guy Ritchie/Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies, some of the show’s visual style is certainly reminiscent of the new movie, and the music from the show is heavily influenced by Hans Zimmer‘s fantastic 2009 Holmes score, and I intend both those things as a compliment. The middle episode was just okay, but the first and third parts are excellent. They’re beautifully shot and exquisitely written. I won’t spoil anything, but the way they handle and introduce Holmes’ arch nemesis, Moriarty, is equally great. I can’t recommend this highly enough. Good drama, good detective procedural stuff, great writing, great acting, great filmmaking, and thick British accents. If you’re interested in any of those things, this show is for you.

No word on when we’ll be able to see season 2 in the States (to the best of my knowledge it hasn’t even aired in the UK yet), but I am really excited to see more of this version of these characters.


BAM!

-So the first season of Game of Thrones is over, meaning I have nothing to watch on HBO until the final season of Entourage begins late next month (sorry, I don’t do True Blood). After just 10 episodes, I’d say Game of Thrones easily makes my all-time top 10 favorite TV shows, if I had an official list (I don’t, though the top 3 would be locked in: Star Trek: The Next Generation, The West Wing and 24). I thought it would be really good, and I was excited because it was going to be so ambitious, but I couldn’t have imagined I’d love it as much as I did. Thank god for HBO, because this show could not exist in this form on any other network. They’ve been hit or miss of late (you couldn’t get me to watch Hung with a gun to my head, and Treme just looks utterly boring, unless you live in New Orleans), but GoT was a 3-run homerun. It wasn’t a grand slam, because I’m pissed that the first season was only 10 episodes (but you can understand why, when these 10 shows cost a reported $100 million). I love these characters, and I find this fantasy world fascinating, rich with detail, and full of life. And it’s still obvious they had to leave out a great deal from George R.R. Martin‘s 4 books (though if I’m right, the first season only covers part of 1 book). The only thing I didn’t like about the finale was that it ended on such a huge “Holy shit! Now what!?” cliffhanger. I’m becoming increasingly less and less a fan of cliffhangers as season finales on TV. I’m outright angry that I’ll now have to wait until April 2012 for season 2 to begin (HBO loves a long wait). That said, the books are out there, and because I’m so interested in finding out what happens next (and I want more details about what we’ve already seen), I’m probably gonna end up buying the books sometime soon and diving in, because I refuse to wait 10 months to learn more. If this season doesn’t get nominated for at least a dozen Emmys, the TV Academy is even dumber than the Oscar voters.

-In this space, I was going to do a bit about Shaquille O’Neal‘s retirement, but in the interests of time (I wanted to get this posted by Sunday), it’s getting left out. For now. I was gonna do an entire post about Shaq, because he was the first professional athlete I was ever a true fan of, and if not for him, I might not be as big a sports fan as I am today. Maybe I’ll get to a Shaq retrospective at some point, but for now, thank you Shaq, for making me an NBA fan, which eventually allowed me to become a fan of the NFL and MLB. It’s just a shame you couldn’t stay healthy when you were finally on my home team. Despite that, it was cool to see you in Celtic green, even if it didn’t happen til you were 39. The game will not be the same without you. With the loss of Shaq, that leaves 2 or 3 true centers left in the NBA. In Shaq’s glory days, we had Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, and Alonzo Mourning (when he was healthy) all clashing with each other. It was the pinnacle of big man play. Now, the utterly skill-less Dwight Howard is considered the “best” center in the league. Ugh. I miss the NBA from 1994-2000. I miss real centers (6-11 or taller big men with skill, athleticism and strength).

Rory McIlroy, an unassuming 22-year old from Northern Ireland, is golf’s new superstar, whether you like it or not, whether it’s actually true or not. This is the power of the media in 2011. The reason is because he blew away the competition this past weekend to win his first major, this year’s U.S. Open. He did so by leading wire-to-wire and winning with a U.S. Open record final score 16-under par and an Open record score of 268. The national sports media, lacking someone to idolize now that Tiger Woods‘ career is stalled by injury, age and personal matters, has been begging for years for “The Next Tiger”, or at the very least for someone to consistently challenge Tiger at the major championship tournaments. When Tiger isn’t winning, they turn their focus to Phil Mickelson, but Mickelson is hit or miss during most majors, and he and Tiger are rarely great at the same tournament. Also, for the casual fan, when Tiger isn’t doing well, golf just isn’t that interesting. Thus, the sport (and all its well-to-do writers) needs another player who is good enough consistently enough to draw attention to the sport, and viewers to the TV ratings. Many of these people believe McIlroy is that player.

I agree that golf needs a new star, or at least a backup star for when Tiger is out of action for extended periods of time (aka right now). My problem is how quickly and unanimously the sports media has leaped onto this McIlroy bandwagon. They want a new star so badly that the first guy who showed any kind of legitimacy is being handed the throne in Tiger’s absence. I say it’s too soon. And I’ve always hated when everyone in the media thought the same thing. There’s just something inherently wrong with that. And I looked. There’s hardly anyone brave enough to cast any serious doubt.

This reminds me of how the media spent a decade desperately trying to find “The Next Michael Jordan“. How many guys did they give that label to? At least 10? And how did that turn out for Isaiah Rider, Anfernee Hardaway, Jerry Stackhouse, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and Harold “Baby Jordan” Miner? The closest we ever got is Kobe Bryant, and I think the Jordan vs. Kobe debate is a legitimate one. The point is that it’s not good enough that a player be extremely talented. He has to also win. A lot. That’s what sets Jordan and Tiger (and yes, Kobe) apart. What also sets them apart is an unrivaled competitive drive.

This is also akin to what Hollywood has been doing for the last 10-15 years, trying to force new “movie stars” on us (i.e. Ben Affleck, Colin Farrell, Orlando Bloom, and now guys like Sam Worthington, Bradley Cooper and Robert Pattinson), instead of letting it happen naturally. They don’t realize that audiences make movie stars, not casting directors or producers. It’s very similar in sports, where stars are made with a combination of skill, winning and fan adoration. You can’t just tell us Rory McIlroy is The Man. He has to earn it.

And please, while you’re at it, name the last non-American athlete who was truly a superstar in America. If we still don’t care about David Beckham, why is a 22-year old Irish kid gonna capture the hearts of Americans? As far as mass appeal goes in sports, Americans generally love Americans. I could personally list about 5 non-American athletes I greatly respect and admire (Roger Federer for one), but for Joe ‘Podunk’ Smith in Missouri, if it ain’t Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, he’s not someone worth remembering. Maybe I’ll be wrong about this, but I doubt it. Until then, if McIlroy hasn’t won 5 majors by the time he’s 25, he’s not The Next Tiger Woods.

The good news is McIlroy isn’t buying into his own hype, and I’m certainly not implying he’s cocky, or anything like that. In fact, all signs point to the contrary. This false/premature idolatry, like much of our woe, is the media’s creation. For my money, I hope Tiger was watching the U.S. Open and thinking, “I can’t wait to come back and kick this kid’s ass.”


You ain’t Tiger, bro.

-I’m starting to get interested in the 2012 election. The Republican field seems to be taking shape, and President Obama has all but jettisoned the idea of getting anything done and is basically in full re-election campaign mode (which is kind of infuriating, isn’t it?). It seems to be true that a new President has about a year and a half to implement policy, then he spends the next year and a half fighting with the opposing party, and spends the final year campaigning for his job. Have I mentioned that the two-party system SUCKS FUCKING HIPPO ASS? Yes, I have, haven’t I?

I’m not particularly enamored with any of the GOP candidates (as always, I need to state that despite my constant railing against liberals and Democrats, I am not a Republican), but I was pulling for Mitt Romney in ’08, and I’m glad he’s the frontrunner now, although obviously it’s still very early. However, most pundits get the sense that Romney will maintain this momentum, and that Michelle Bachmann is likely to be his most formidable challenger. Bachmann seems to carry herself well, but like many of these guys, she’s probably too far to the right for my personal taste, and the attack dogs in the mainstream media will do everything they can to attack her credibility. Though it’s hard to imagine the media hate for her eclipsing what they did (and are still pathetically doing) to Sarah Palin. I don’t get the sense that Jon Huntsman or Tim Pawlenty can set themselves apart (they’re too, how shall we say…vanilla), and Rick Santorum is way too far right for me (basically, if you bring God into 100% of your policy decisions, you’re too far right for me). I continue to admire Ron Paul‘s fighting spirit, but after ’08, it’s clear his libertarianism will not get him the support needed from the GOP base to make any serious headway. He also doesn’t LOOK presidential, does he? President Paul? I don’t think so.

I don’t know if he’s a good enough candidate yet, but nothing would please me more than to see Herman Cain win the nomination and challenge Barack Obama for the presidency. I wonder, will the media cry racism every single time Cain gets criticized? Actually, I don’t wonder at all about that. Of course they won’t. Cain is a great speaker and an energetic presence, but we still have a long way to go. I didn’t officially endorse anybody last time out, but I’d certainly like to be able to strongly believe in a presidential candidate for once. God forbid.

-LAWL! Did you know that President Obama’s position on gay marriage is “evolving”? Sounds deep. In the words of Keanu Reeves…whoa. [Politico]

-Because just about everyone on the internet has weighed in on this, I thought it might be worth a moment to talk about the death of Ryan Dunn, the Jackass star who drove his Porsche while intoxicated at twice the legal limit of Pennsylvania. As a result of his drinking and likely a good amount of stupidity he already had, he crashed the car at such velocity (reportedly he was driving as fast as 140 mph, nearly triple the 55mph speed limit) that it basically disintegrated upon impact with a tree, killing himself and his passenger instantly. And I chose those words on purpose. He didn’t die, he killed himself. It was no accident. When you drink that much and then decide to get into a Porsche, you want to crash. I’m not gonna say he deserved to die, but yeah, better the drunk asshole than an innocent bystander or innocent motorist who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Are you getting the sense that I have no sympathy here? I’m not happy about it, of course, but let’s face it, the man died as he lived. It’s pure luck that it was 3:30am and that he only killed himself and his friend. That’s something to be thankful about.

I also found interesting that Dunn’s fellow Jackass mate and close friend Bam Margera threw a weeping hissyfit once a few people on Twitter pointed out how unsurprised they were by Dunn’s death. He choose to lash out against those people, instead of using his influence among young people and fans of Jackass-like insanity to point out what can happen when you drink and drive, and to actively speak out against it. That was sad.

And now here’s Margera and his mom several years ago predicting Dunn would do this:

-Finally, if you can’t get enough Stanley Cup Bruins porn, check out the 9-minute video in this story of the Bruins visiting Fenway, placing the Cup on the mound and throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. [RedSox.com]

Recommended Listening: I know a lot of you don’t share my love for electronic music, but I’m kind of obsessed with this song right now. This is Ron Hagen & Al Exander‘s “Now is the Time (Armin van Buuren Intro Edit)”, and it’s track 1 on Disc 2 of Armin van Buuren‘s A State of Trance 2011 compilation. I love the mood this song creates. It’s got both a sense of longing and regret, but with some hope mixed in as well. In other words, pretty much exactly how I’ve been feeling lately. This is what electronic music does better than just about every other genre, in my view…it encapsulates moods and feelings. That’s what most people who dismiss it don’t understand. Their loss.  Anyway, check it out, brah:  

Movie Extravaganza #2: The Semi Summer Movie Preview

As summer movie season kicks into full gear this weekend with the release of  Thor, I thought this was a great time for another big all-movie post. There’s been some stuff I’ve been wanting to talk about and some recent news worthy of your attention, analyzed for you by two thumbs pointing at this guy. First things first, some very cool new trailers debuted last week. The second (and likely final) full-length trailer for Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the second (and much improved) trailer for X-Men: First Class, and the first official trailer for The Deathly Hallows: Part 2. In case you haven’t seen any of them, take a look. I strongly recommend changing the video quality (in the bottom middle of each) to at least 720p to watch them in HD.

I’ve got my fingers crossed so tight on this that my index finger is about to snap, but Shockwave looks great, and there’s a lot of interesting and big stuff going on here, like that cool beacon thingy. And you can’t tell for sure, but I think Optimus Prime‘s trailer (which FINALLY makes an appearance) turns into that jetpack he wears. Just a guess, but remember who called it. On the other hand, I’m a little bothered by the fact that this trailer shows a clip from what looks to be the very last scene in the movie (Prime talking to Sam on a pier or boardwalk, with John Turturro in the wheelchair behind him). A great trailer from a visuals standpoint, but it looks like it gives way too much away. Perhaps more than anything, I can’t wait to find out how Shia LeBeouf ends up with a British supermodel girlfriend who’s even hotter than Megan Fox. I think if the director’s name wasn’t “Michael Bay“, this mightn’t have happened. Just a guess.


OH, HAI. NICE LIPZ.
P.S. I totally buy that you’d fall for Shia LaBeouf.

I’ve been very hesitant on this since day 1 (I’m still not over how bad X-Men : Last Stand was), and the first trailer wasn’t too inspiring, but this second one is a marked improvement. You get to hear more dialogue, and it looks like they’ve properly captured that X-Men us-against-the-world tone. I’m really digging Michael Fassbender as Magneto, too. His delivery of of that line “We already are” is pitch perfect and 100% Magneto. I’m really rooting for this to be very good. If all else fails, I get to look at January Jones and Jennifer Lawrence, which is always satisfying.

Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was the first movie in the entire series that I didn’t like. I won’t say I disliked it, but I definitely didn’t like it. It sits in this kind of opinion limbo. At the time, I couldn’t even write a review of it, it baffled me so much. I still need to watch it again, but I don’t expect my overall opinion to change. That said, even while I complained about the first part, I said back in November that I expected Part 2 to be amazing despite the problems I had with Part 1. I still hold that expectation. In my dream of dreams, this last one will be so good and so emotionally powerful that it’ll be worthy of Best Picture consideration and perhaps some acting nominations, but none of the others have been serious contenders in those categories, and they’ve been very consistent in quality (one of the series’ biggest strengths), so I doubt this will transcend the others even if it is the best of the decade-long series.

How Green is My Lantern?

Now we move to a brand new trailer that has me going, “Uh oh.” That trailer belongs to Green Lantern, which I am predicting will be this summer’s biggest box office bomb. I’ve been trying, really trying, to get excited for this, but I’m about to give up after this latest trailer. It just looks fuckin silly, doesn’t it? Like all these superhero movies, I don’t know shit about the comics, but surely the Green Lantern comic isn’t this silly looking. Is it? I know this is obvious, but it’s just so…GREEN. Like, really green. Too green. Then you’ve got all these incredibly goofy looking aliens and creatures. And all these goofy looking aliens speak English, and look incredibly goofy doing so. Maybe some super Lantern nerd can explain to me what I’m supposed to find cool about that. Then you’ve got Peter Sarsgaard as the main villain, and he ends up going from a normal-looking scientist to this maniac with a giant (goofy looking) ballooned forehead. It looks like we’re going to see a literal mad scientist in this movie. And that’s supposed to be scary and intimidating? Good grief. I can’t pick out one thing about this movie (other than the chance to see Blake Lively again) that has me excited. And that’s a damn shame, because it’s directed by Martin Campbell, who, granted, is hit and miss, but who just 5 years ago he gave us one of the best action movies ever in Casino Royale. Why he took this project on I’ll never know, but it looks like a massive pile of computer-generated [GREEN] dog doo. Don’t believe me? See for yourself, brah…

I guess the fact that Ryan Reynolds is in it should be a giveaway. This will be his third comic book movie, after the mediocre Blade: Trinity and the mediocre X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I normally like this guy (he gave one of the best performances in one of the best movies of 2010 in Buried), but he needs to stop it with the comic book movies. The fact that Marvel might give him another movie with the potential Deadpool spinoff is truly terrifying. ENOUGH!

-Can I say that I’m more than a little concerned about the Hangover sequel? In a way, I wish I hadn’t seen that second trailer. Of course it’s funny as hell, and the movie looks funny as hell, but it also displays such an apparent lack of creativity that my confidence in the film is a bit rattled. To start, the fact that they couldn’t come up with a cool subtitle and are just calling it the Hangover: Part II is a bad sign. It just is. You’re telling me Todd Phillips couldn’t come up with a good subtitle to the sequel of one of the most successful comedies of all time? NOBODY in the Warner Bros. marketing department had any good ideas? It’s not a huge deal in the bigger picture, but it’s indicative. When they first announced this sequel was actually happening, I’m on record (somewhere on my MySpace blog) as saying it was a bad idea. For one simple reason: how could anything even remotely that epic ever happen to the same people again? It would just come across as stupid if it did, wouldn’t it? Well, apparently the answer to that question is…easy, just have it happen in a different country. That appears to be the only difference from a narrative standpoint. In this new trailer, one of them is getting married (again), we see that they wake up after another crazy night (again), having no idea what happened the night before (again), and they’ve lost one or more of the people who started the night with them (again). The lack of creativity in that is stunning. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw the trailer. Usually, comedy sequels change up the plot a little bit, but this kind of repitition of ideas is normally reserved for bad horror sequels. Is The Hangover: Part II a bad horror sequel? My god I hope not. But right now, the only changes I see are the new location (Thailand) and a different cast member getting married this time. And a monkey. Let’s not forget the monkey.


Ken Jeong, you slay me.

Did Todd Phillips and the cast really do this only for the money? Given what I know of him and the various opinions he’s had recently, I thought Phillips was above that, but perhaps not. Phillips himself (who made more than $50 million on the first movie because of a brilliant contract stipulation) is making $10 million plus 10% of the first-dollar gross on the sequel, meanwhile Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zack Galifianakis each got $5 million upfront plus 4% of the first-dollar gross. Those will end up being huge paydays for all 4 of them. That also means a big increase in the budget, because with those salaries, the movie costs $25 million before you even start shooting (the original was made for under $40 million), and once it’s released, Warner Bros. has already forfeited 22% of the grosses. I guess it would be incredibly difficult to say no to such a huge guaranteed payday like that, but I’m hoping there was more effort put into the script than we’ve been shown thus far. If it is just a carbon copy of the original, I will be sorely disappointed. The original Hangover isn’t just one of my favorite comedies, it’s one my favorite movies overall (if you MUST know, it currently sits at #164 on the newly updated Biggie 200 list), and I’ve never been so amped up for a comedy sequel, despite my reservations.

If he exhales, that shirt will explode.

-So I’ve now seen Fast Five in theaters twice (I rarely have the time to see anything twice nowadays), and my love for this movie got me to thinking about how The Fast and the Furious is just about the most unlikely franchise in movie history. I’m fascinated by the trajectory this series has taken since the original came out a decade ago now. No action franchise (or franchise of ANY kind) has unfolded quite like this. Let’s trace the steps, and try to keep up.

You have the original film, The Fast and the Furious (which is loosely based on a Vibe magazine article called “Racer X”), which became a surprise hit in 2001 (grossing $40 million on its opening weekend on a $38 million budget on its way to a $144.5 million haul) and put Paul Walker & Vin Diesel on the map as potential leading men. Then you have a terrible sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious, that lost one of those leading men (and the original director, Rob Cohen) because he wanted too much money and basically thought he was above it, and that sequel still manages to perform well ($50 million opening, $127 million total). Diesel and Rob Cohen try to start a new franchise in xXx around the same time to middling results. So a better director on 2 Fast (John Singleton) makes the worst film of his career, but his career gets a bump anyway because that shitty movie is a hit. Singleton, having just made a very good low-budget movie (the greatly underrated Baby Boy) with up & coming singer Tyrese, gives him his first big mainstream starring role opposite the lonely Paul Walker, who badly needs a new street smart, non-Caucasian buddy.

Next, a couple years pass, because they still can’t get Diesel to star in part 3, and they can’t get Walker back either because he, too, is attempting to branch out. But not to be deterred, Universal puts the third movie in motion anyway, hires a new director (Justin Lin, who has directed each movie since) and tries to reinvent the franchise by giving it a new star (Lucas Black) and a new location for The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Apparently, hiring an Asian director for the Tokyo-set movie made it more authentic? I dunno. Also, we’re supposed to buy into the fact that because these cars drift around corners, it gives it a cool new twist, as opposed to Americans racing cars in straight lines. So yes, the franchise is now making sequels based on subgenres of street racing. Still with me? More characters are introduced (most notably Sung Kane as Han). Though that movie is just okay, it’s the goddamn Godfather Part II compared to 2 Fast. BUT, without Walker or Diesel’s involvement and the stench still lingering from part 2, the franchise loses some brand recognition, and it opens to a relatively paltry $23.9 million on its way to a franchise-low $62.5 million domestic total. [Also, strangely, we’re now (right now, in 2011) supposed to believe that the events of Tokyo Drift take place AFTER Fast Five. Wrap your head around that.] However, because Vin Diesel has now failed TWICE at starting new franchises (xXx and the Pitch Black sequel The Chronicles of Riddick), he makes a cameo in the final scene of Tokyo Drift, essentially telling us all, “Fine, I admit I don’t have any other other options. See you in part 4.”

SO, Tokyo Drift underperforms, but big studios don’t just give up on sequel-spewing franchises, and LUCKY FOR THEM, after a couple more years, both Paul Walker & Vin Diesel are no longer being allowed to topline movies (Walker because he struggles with that whole ‘acting’ thing, and Diesel because of his ego), and both need big paydays and starring roles to reinvigorate their careers. Fast & Furious is born, with the gimmick being that the entire original cast is back (the other two obviously being Michelle Rodriguez & Jordana Brewster). Brewster probably doesn’t want to do any more of these movies, but she too has not capitalized off the success of the original and has few other options.

By the way, when was the last time a sequel was made where all they did was remove the The‘s from the title of the original?! Again, we’ve never seen this before.

There’s more racing (and some terrible use of CGI cars in that dumbass sequence where they have to drive across the Mexican border and UNDER a mountain), but the focus shifts to more of a crime movie then a fast cars/racing movie. More new characters, most notable among them the superthin, superhot Gal Gadot. Paul Walker’s character (I had to look up his character name, that’s how memorable he is) Brian O’Conner goes from cop to criminal, and in doing allies himself with his bitter rival Dominic Toretto. Sad face, as Michelle Rodriguez supposedly dies and says goodbye to the franchise. Fast & Furious returns the series to box office glory (as audiences hunger for more of what they got in the first movie), opening to a massive $71 million on its way to $155 million total. Michelle Rodriguez ironically gets the last laugh, as she co-stars later that same year in the biggest movie of all-time, something called Avatar.

Finally, we get Fast Five, at worst a tie for best movie in the series, featuring an orgy of characters from all 4 previous films, and some new ones to take the franchise forward (Dwayne Johnson as The Terminator DEA Agent Hobbs). It reinvigorates the series again, with the best, most inventive action scenes in the franchise and cool new locations shot in Brazil and Puerto Rico. So even while the cast is familiar, the setting and the action is fresh. That’s smart. At the end of Five, we get bludgeoned over the head with a bonus scene (which brings back a character from way back in part 2!) that clearly indicates part 6 is on the way. This is further guaranteed when Five opens to $86.2 million in its first weekend on its way to becoming the highest grosser of the series.

Hopefully, that didn’t make you go cross-eyed, but it shows just how strange a road this has been for everyone involved. So many things had to happen for the franchise to end up like this or for it to even have extended this long. Other than Saw (which is supposedly done), there aren’t any currently active franchises at movie 5 or beyond, which is incredible given that Hollywood is more sequel-crazy than ever. And like I said in my Fast Five review, I doubt there’s ever been an instance where a part 5 is considered the best of the series. Though none of them have been great (and only the original and Five can be considered “good” in my view), I’m still interested in these movies. I also respect the series in one big sense…it’s 2011, and in an era where most mainstream movies are still almost completely whitewashed, this is the most ethnically diverse franchise perhaps in the history of cinema. And yes, I realize it depicts almost all of its minority characters as criminals and sex objects, but still, I’m glad to see a wide mix of races headlining movies this popular. That in and of itself is a good thing, and perhaps the most fundamental reason I’m into these flicks in the broader sense.

Finally, the new head of Universal Pictures has come out and said that they want to change the tone of the series again for the sixth movie, and they’ll probably be removing the racing elements altogether and making it a pure heist movie. I can get into that, and from what I’ve seen in two viewings of Five, audiences aren’t even close to being weary of these movies. At least this series TRIES to reinvent itself by mixing up the cast and switching scenery, which is the second big reason I give it props. It entertains the shit out of you without trying to be anything more than it knows it is. It’s an honest franchise that doesn’t bullshit its audience, and I think the masses appreciate that. I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but I am very much looking forward to 6 Fast Six or Furious 666 (or whatever the fuck it’ll be called). And no, there’s no confirmation yet on which cast members are in for part 6, though Dwayne Johnson has come out and said he wants to be part of it. Whether Diesel, Walker or Brewster want to continue remains to be seen, though I don’t see any of them doing much else in the next couple years. I wonder now if any of them even want to.

Apparently, this car fits into Dom’s wallet, because no matter where in the world he goes, the 1970 Charger shows up with him.

-Speaking of Fast/Furious-related items, I’m a little perturbed by director Justin Lin’s choice to follow up Fast Five with the proposed 5th Terminator movie. For some reason, people think this is a good idea, despite the last two sequels both underperforming at the box office (hint hint: we’re not interested unless it’s made by Cameron, a-holes!). And they think it’s also a good idea to bring 64-year old Arnold Schwarzenegger back to play, I dunno, the Terminator sent back through time to kill John Connor‘s grandfather at the nursing home? So, obviously T5 is a terrible idea, but I’m more concerned with Lin’s awful decision-making. Dude needs to fire his agents. He will never have more clout than he does right now, with Fast Five a monster box office hit around the world. He can do almost anything he wants as a follow-up, and he wants to continue making sequels? And not just a normal sequel, he only wants franchises that are at part 5 or beyond, apparently. Come on, man! Have you no creative ambition? No dream projects? No desire to work off a real script? No desire to work with actors who aren’t sleepwalking through the shoot, simply looking for a payday? I don’t know why this pisses me off, but it does. Not only that, but he’s also said he’s open to doing the sixth Fast/Furious movie. COME ON!!! Cuz I guess directing 3 of them isn’t enough. There’s so much more to explore in this multi-layered, richly characterized world. Oh wait, no, there isn’t. It’s time to move on, Justin Lin. You’re that rarest of things in Hollywood…a minority filmmaker with clout! USE IT. This would be like LeBron James coming off his MVP season last year and then, as a free agent, choosing to sign with the Minnesota Timberwolves. In other words, it’s a giant fucking step backwards!

Director Justin Lin with Vin Diesel.
“Hey Vin, wanna just do these Fast/Furious movies together for the rest of our lives?”
“Justin…I LIVE FOR THIS SHIT!”

Since most of you won’t get that last reference…

-I admit that prior to the movie version coming together, I’d never even heard of The Hunger Games. But now this is apparently one of the most anticipated movies of 2012 (it’s pretty far down my list). What I find curious is that it’s currently May, 2011 and they haven’t shot a single frame (in fact, the movie is still casting), yet they already have a release date of next March. Unless I’m mistaken, this is going to an effects-heavy project. Going from pre-production to release in 10 months on a large scale movie like this is generally not recommended. This trend of the studios stubbornly sticking to predetermined release dates is harming the quality and potential of a lot of movies. I for one don’t particularly care about Hunger Games (other than my love of Jennifer Lawrence and the fact that I like director Gary Ross), but for such a high-profile project that Lionsgate would like to turn into a trilogy, they seem to be rushing things a bit. Also, the fact that the male lead’s name is Peeta is bit off-putting.

RANDOM AWESOME MOVIE SCENE TIME!

RANDOM AWESOME MOVIE COMPILATION TIME!

“Get out of there!”

For today’s Recommended Listening, here’s my favorite track off the Chemical Brothers‘ fantastic score to Hanna. This little diddy’s called “Container Park”:  

Super Movie Extravaganza Time!

The best part about going to 11am matinee movies on a Friday? The entire audience (aside from me) is people who qualify for senior citizen discounts. This is mostly a plus, as they don’t talk too much and they don’t text or use their phones at all. For the most part, old people have their priorities straight while they’re watching the movie. I respect that. That said, one thing a lot of them do tend to do is provide their own annoying narration. As a movie is unfolding onscreen, they’ll often try to predict what’s gonna happen next…out loud. “There’s already somebody in the house!” OH, REALLY? How could ya tell? From the broken glass and the door left ajar? THANK YOU, GRANDMA! “Ohhhh, he’s gonna shoot him!” THANK YOU, GRANDMA! No shit! That’s why he pulled his gun out! “Oh, got him!” THANK YOU, GRANDMA! But if I wanted celebratory commentary, I’d watch Gus Johnson call an NCAA basketball game.

Senior citizen narration. It’s irritating at times, but if it’s a choice between that and 4 teenage boys behind me being obnoxious with unfunny wisecracks through the entire movie, I’ll take the seniors’ narration.

Another funny thing happened while I was watching The Lincoln Lawyer on Friday morning. There’s a part where a man and his dog get killed in the man’s apartment. So a police officer tells Matthew McConaughey‘s character, “They shot [character name]”, which elicited a minor “Oh no” from a few senior citizens in the audience. Then the next thing the cop says is, “And they shot his dog, too,” at which point almost the entire audience (there were at least 50 people there), in unison, GASPED loudly, in complete shock and disgust. I had to L-O-L right then and there, just at the audience reaction, because of how telling it was about our culture in general. Very strange. Human misery and suffering…ehh, oh well. Even if it was a character we liked (which it was). But murdering a dog in a movie (even if it’s not shown)?! That’s about the worst thing you can do. Screenwriters take note.

Anywho, over the last week or so, there’s been a lot of interesting news out of Hollywood. So this is a post of all movie news and reaction. A lot of my movie nerd friends will have seen this stuff reported already, but dammit, you haven’t heard MY take yet! And away we go…

-Hey, great news! Men in Black III comes out next year!!! Yeah, I don’t care either. But they’re making it. That’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is how they’ve decided to make it. I insist you read this Hollywood Reporter story about just how fucked up the production has gotten. They deliberately started shooting the movie with only a third of the script complete, which is strange even by Hollywood standards. Really, if you’re at all interested in Hollywood insider biz stuff, it’s a fascinating 2-page read.

I’d been hoping that this movie never got made. My primary issue with the project is that it’s a complete waste of time for everyone involved. However, because Hollywood is so reliant on franchises these days, Sony was gonna make this movie no matter what it took, and once Will Smith finally agreed to do it, it was full steam ahead. Only now, Will Smith isn’t satisfied with the script, which is difficult to remedy once you’ve already started shooting. It’s troubling to me that the first decision made on most big movies these days is the release date. And because Sony has committed to a date (May 25, 2012), they’ll do whatever it takes to get the movie finished in time, even it means releasing a complete turd of a movie. They’re counting on all of us to show up opening weekend regardless, pay more than we should for 3D (oh yes, it’ll be in 3D), sit in our seats, shutup, and deliver a $100 million opening weekend.

The second Men in Black, though it did well (but not as well as the original), was a complete disaster of a movie. There has been no clamor amongst fans for a third movie, so this can only be a blatant money grab by EVERYONE involved (which makes it even more shameful in Smith’s case, because he can make big money doing any project he wants, and THIS is what he chooses- doing the same thing…again). I know damn well Tommy Lee Jones doesn’t want to do this again, but with a likely $20 million+ payday, I can’t name many people who would turn that down. Unlike Smith, Jones doesn’t make anything near that on his other movies. Hell, they had a hard time getting Jones back for part II. I think recent history has shown that sequels made so far apart just for the sake of continuing a tired franchise beating a dead horse (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull anyone?) have not fared so well creatively. It was 5 years between Men in Black and MiB II, and it will now be 10 years between II and III, and 15 years between the first and third. Perhaps if a movie is this hard to put together, it’s for a reason. Just a thought.

I enjoyed the original Men in Black, but for as long as I’ve wanted to make movies, I’ve wanted to see a serious, X-Files-type story about the so-called men in black, who have been a pop culture superstition for decades. It’s still possible we’ll get one eventually, but it would have to use another title, and it would have to be far removed from these more light-hearted versions. One day, I hope.

Kevin Costner has been cast in Zack Snyder‘s Superman. He’ll play Jonathan Kent, adopted father to Superman, opposite Diane Lane as Martha Kent. I love Diane Lane and I love Kevin Costner, so this is all good, baby. I’m not too familiar with the Superman canon, and it’s unconfirmed how big a part the Kents will play in the film, but it’s solid casting nonetheless. I appreciate how Costner has started taking more supporting roles of late, as his leading man star has faded considerably. I still think he could carry a film just fine, but until people pay to see him as a lead, he’s not gonna get those parts (unless he pays for the movie himself). Until that happens, better to see him in a supporting role than to not see him at all. So long as he keeps away from the Boston accents.

-I, like many others, was very disappointed to learn this week that Darren Aronofsky had suddenly vacated the director’s chair of The Wolverine. The film features a supposedly very solid script by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects), and was based on one of the most popular Wolverine comic storylines ever, one set in Japan. It’s supposed to be very raw, less reliant on CGI and more on a lot of hand to hand (and adamantium claw to katana) combat. Hugh Jackman is already deep into his physical training for the movie (and he’s sounded ecstatic about it since day 1), and it was set to shoot on location in Japan for much of the second half of this year. It’s yet unclear whether the recent Japanese earthquake/tsunami was going to delay or elongate the shooting schedule, but Aronofsky’s primary given reason for leaving the film was that it would take him out of the country and away from his family for too long. This is very depressing news. Any intelligent person who saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine knows how flawed that film was, but to have its sequel directed by a talent like Aronofsky had a lot of geeks (myself included) incredibly excited about its potential. And I’m not even a huge Wolverine fan. The film will reportedly still go ahead as scheduled, but obviously with another, likely lesser director. Many of us anxiously wait to learn who that will be. Seeing what Darren Aronofsky would’ve done with a mainstream property like this had a lot of people drooling. I now have to wipe my mouth clean.


RAAR! NOW HIRING: DIRECTOR!

-I’m very interested to see Morgan Spurlock‘s latest documentary, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, which finally got a trailer this week. Basically, it’s about the grip advertising holds over our culture, and he financed the movie (or so he claims) solely by selling sponsorships that will appear onscreen during the film. It’s certainly a unique idea. Check it:

-Just about as fast as Arnold Schwarzenegger left office as Cal-ee-foe-nee-uh’s governor, he stated that he wanted to get back into acting. But what is the market for a semi-retired 60+ year old action star? That remains to be seen. Is he willing to try new genres and new types of roles, or does he really think he can get back into the action game at this late stage of his career? Is it physically possible for him to do what his 65-year old buddy Sylvester Stallone has been doing of late? Stallone has been performing on screen as though it were still 1985. Of course we can question HOW he’s managed to do that, but one has to assume that type of physical strain is not for every senior citizen actor.

I mention this because Tom Arnold recently opened his mouth and said that he thinks a True Lies sequel could be Arnold’s comeback movie. Anyone with any sense thinks that’s absurd for any number of reasons. First of all, James Cameron isn’t available to direct anything but Avatar sequels until 2016, at which point Arnold would be pushing 70. Would Schwarzenegger do a True Lies sequel without Cameron at the helm? Is Cameron even interested in writing it? Would Arnold get involved in a True Lies sequel that wasn’t written OR directed by Cameron? From everything I’ve read from him over the years, the answer is no. Yet every now and then Tom Arnold (and it’s usually ONLY Tom Arnold) tries to stir the pot by starting new True Lies 2 rumors that never go anywhere. This annoys me greatly. I think Tom Arnold is the only one in the world excited about the chance to make this movie. I for one don’t think it’s ever getting made, with or without Arnold Schwarzenegger. That ship has sailed. It’s 17 years and counting since True Lies (one of my favorite movies) came out in 1994. Again, why would anyone want to do it after so much time has passed? And where is the audience demand for it? Pretty much nonexistent, I’d wager. Add True Lies 2 to the list of “sequels nobody asked for.” I love the first movie, but what are you gonna do, have a 65-year old Arnold Schwarzenegger and 53-year old Jamie Lee Curtis back together for more zany espionage and adventure? No thanks.

-On the other hand, a sequel that a lot of people want to see (even if it makes no sense) is a followup to Taken, which is now actually going to happen. I guess for a long time there was a scheduling conflict that wouldn’t allow Liam Neeson to shoot it when they wanted to shoot it (wait, wouldn’t you WAIT for Neeson no matter how long it took?), but that scheduling conflict has apparently been resolved and the sequel will shoot late this year or early in 2012, potentially lining it up for a December ’12 release. The sequel will have the same writers as the original (Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen) and be directed by Olivier Megaton, whose most notable credit to date is the third Transporter movie. That’s not confidence-inspiring, but his last name is almost Megatron, so I’ll go with it for now.

Supposedly, the studio was considering other actors to star in the sequel (presumably not as the same character), but that would have been one of the all-time bonehead moves, no? You don’t make a sequel to Taken without Liam Neeson. That should be against the law. I can’t imagine they’ve come up with a plot believable enough to make this worth it, but I’ll see it anyway, dammit. The original is one of the all-time “if you come across it on TV, you’re not turning it off” movies, and it’ll be a tall order to recreate that magic. I truly can’t wait to hear what the plot of this movie is going to be. Maybe some Russian gangsters will kidnap his dog. There’s a great way to garner audience compassion! We’ll sell it as “Taken meets Marley & Me.” See you in HELL, Marco from Tropojë (yes, that’s how it’s spelled)!

Liam Neeson is offended by your arrogance, and here’s every single punch, chop and collision from the original Taken to prove it:


WINNING, anyone?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been officially added to the cast of The Dark Knight Rises, and it looks like he’ll be playing Alberto Falcone, the son of Carmine Falcone, played by the great Tom Wilkinson in Batman Begins. With such a big ensemble cast, this is going to be one massive, interweaving story. The only news I’m still waiting to hear on this project (easily my most anticipated movie of 2012) is whether or not James Newton Howard will again team with Hans Zimmer on the score. Zimmer is already confirmed back, but no word yet on JNH’s involvement. I think he’s gotta come back to wrap this thing up nicely. And for the love of god, more composer collaborations like this in the future! Like, if Zimmer ever teamed up with John Williams, I don’t know if my heart could take it.

-I’m sort of ashamed to admit this, but I really like the new trailer to Fast Five. Granted, it shows waaayyy too much, but the action looks amazing. And the reason it looks amazing it because it appears most of it was done practically, with real cars and real stuntmen. In some of the earlier installments, they’ve used CG cars, which ALWAYS look awful (seriously, why has this not been mastered yet, VFX guys?). At the very least, the Vin DieselDwayne Johnson 1v1 fist fight should be badass. Keyword: should be. The Fast and the Furious may be the stupidest, most unnecessary franchise in cinema history, but if it goes out with this kind of a bang, I’m willing to turn my brain off, sit back and enjoy the ride. Besides, I’ll get my usual dose of gratuitous T&A shots of the numerous hot chicks who randomly hang around the cars. What do you have to lose?

And did I mention, Fast Five is NOT in 3D! WohoO!!! That alone may make it worth the price of admission.

Sucker Punch opens Friday, which means more of YOU in my life, Emily Browning:


O, HAI!

Today’s Recommended Listening is a solid track off of Lupe Fiasco‘s new album, Lasers. It’s called “All Black Everything” and you WILL like it.  

Things I’m Wondering

This is sort of a sequel to my “Things I Find Disturbing” post. I’ll admit the world often confuses me. People confuse me. It makes me wonder…

I’m wondering why most British actors can do perfect American accents, but the only American who can do a decent British accent is Robert Downey Jr.

I’m wondering why “I couldn’t care less” and “I could care less” mean the same thing. Seriously. This makes no sense. Couldn’t care less is cut and dry. You could not care less. Zero concern. No room for confusion there. But if you could care less, which inherently means you care a little, how is that the same as not caring at all? These are the things that keep me up late at night. That, and the voices.

I’m wondering why the word “employee” has become taboo. Now, if you work somewhere, you’re an “associate.” Is this a politically correct thing? Because that would be really stupid. Is it meant to give employees a higher sense of purpose? Because It doesn’t. Personally, I refuse to call myself or anyone else an associate unless you’re working at a law firm. You know what, giant retail chain, instead of giving me a new label, how about paying me and everybody around me properly for the work we’re doing instead? I’ll gladly denigrate myself and be your “employee” for another buck-fifty or two per hour. How about staffing the store properly when it’s busy instead of being deliberately cheap, and then acting surprised when customers walk out the door because they aren’t being helped. Oh that’s right, it’s OUR fault when that happens. If you expect fewer people to do more work and get the same results, you’d better incentivize them to buy in by paying them for the extra work that’s expected.

I’m wondering when the federal law was passed that requires all athletes to wear Beats by Dre headphones as they enter the arenas prior to their games. They’ve literally got 100% of this market.

I’m wondering what the endgame is in Afghanistan. It’s fairly clear now that the Afghan people WANT to be ruled by someone like the Taliban. They don’t care about freedom, because really, what is there in that country to aspire to have if it even was a democracy? They have no self-discipline, and they have not the desire to acquire it. I hate calling what we’re doing there a “war”, but if we’re to call it that, our presence in Afghanistan is now the longest “war” in American history, and by all accounts, only once have we been seriously close to our objective (capturing or killing Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda/Taliban leadership)…and that was in December, 2001. We’re at almost 10 years of having no fucking clue where these people are.

What’s the solution? If I had the perfection solution, I’d have a government job and be making a lot more money than I am now. However, the reason I’ve supported staying there for so long up to this point is the same formerly logical reason we’ve been given by our military commanders and two most recent Presidents; if we up and leave, the Taliban and other terrorist forces will seize the country again, it’ll become a breeding ground for terrorist activity, and eventually a staging ground for future attacks against the U.S. Well, I’m at the point now where I’m willing to say, “Fine. Let them try it.” Their success rate wasn’t that good prior to 2001, and it’s been even worse since. And oh by the way, if we leave, the Afghan people will be oppressed again. Can I say now that I don’t care? I care no more about them than I do about Egyptian freedom. Guess what? If you live in fucking Afghanistan, you’re oppressed by default. IT’S AFGHANISTAN. There are certain places in this world where human civilization was not meant to thrive. That’s one of em. Afghanistan is a mountain range, not a country. Let the terrorists use that barren wasteland to train on their jungle gyms and run around with AK’s. We’ve given the Afghan people enough of a chance to assert themselves and to form a responsible government, and they’ve thus far shown no collective desire to make that happen. Sigh…let’s face it, folks, there’s just never gonna be a Wal-Mart in Kabul. That’s the sad truth. Simply, it is now as it was prior to 2001…not our problem. The U.S. is not solely responsible for making life better for all people across the globe. We haven’t yet been able to give even close to 100% of our own population an overall high quality of life, so where does this arrogance come from that says we should attempt it 10,000 miles overseas? <– At the cost of thousands of American lives and billions of dollars, both of which would be better spent on American soil.

I saw this sickening statistic the other day that in 2011, at current pace, we’d spend more than $107 billion on Afghanistan. That equates to $293 million a DAY. That is unfathomable. We already know we’re spending too much money in general, so there’s yet another fantastic reason to get the fuck out of there. Save lives, save resources, and save money. The more I see of the rest of the world’s “desire” for freedom, the more of an isolationist I become from a national security standpoint.

Yes, my will to “stay the course” in Afghanistan has been broken, and to be truthful, I only wish I’d come to this realization years sooner. I admire the people (some of whom are people I know) who were saying this from the outset. It’s difficult to admit my error in judgment, but I’ve seen no viable progress, and 2010 was the worst year yet for American casualties in that country, despite our newfound “resolve” in putting even more troops over there. The blunt fact is that nation building is a waste of our fucking time, money, and manpower. We’ve got a big enough nation of our own that needs serious reconstruction. It’s high time we let other countries build, rebuild –or, if they so choose- destroy themselves. I believe we should continue covert operations in Afghanistan and into Pakistan to try and locate and destroy the inner network of our enemies, but we are not responsible for the well-being of every single person living within the borders of the countries that these a-holes operate in. I challenge Barack Obama to have the courage to stand up to the military bigwigs and use his Constitutionally granted powers to get our troops the fuck out of Afghanistan once and for all. And don’t leave behind a giant base or new embassy. And don’t leave 50,000 troops behind just because. Just. Fucking. Leave.

And if one of the things deterring the decision to leave is pride, then GET OVER IT. So what if they outlasted us? So what if they ran out the big bad Soviets and now the big bad Americans? We’ll be bringing our troops back home to the United States of America. If the terrorists want to brag about “beating” us, just walk away with your middle finger in the air and give em this one-liner, “Yeah, but you’ll still be living in Afghanistan. See ya!”


No end in sight. No hope to be found. No reason to stay.

I’m wondering why every media market has a radio station named KISS FM. It’s not THAT great a name. Really, it isn’t.

I’m wondering who it was that asked for a third Big Momma’s House movie. We really don’t need to give “Thief Cop” Martin Lawrence any more reason to continue acting, do we? NOT EVERY MOVIE THAT GETS A SEQUEL NEEDS TO THEN BECOME A FUCKING TRILOGY!!! Blame comic book movies for this trend. Honestly, when was the last time a movie franchise stopped after part 2? It doesn’t happen. And nowadays, the third movie is usually greenlit before the second movie even comes out! If you have an even moderately successful movie, and you can get a sequel made, you can probably get a trilogy. And then, even when your third movie bombs creatively and/or financially, you can wait 5 years, then convince some moron that a 4th movie is a good idea, too.


This is happening…whether you like it or not.

-After finally seeing The Room, I’m wondering what friggin nationality Tommy Wiseau is. Every bio I can find of him says he’s American, but does anybody believe that? Listen to him! He sounds like he was parented by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Christopher Walken. Nobody knows anything about this guy prior to 2003. I think he was just spawned into existence by Satan with the script to The Room, and was told to cast the first 6 people he saw. I know one thing; Tommy Wiseau was not born in America. It’s not true. It’s bullshit! He was not born in America. He was naaaaaht.

P.S. I’ve had The Room Soundboard open as a tab in Firefox for 4 straight days.


What are you?

I’m wondering when the first really good or great movie of 2011 is going to come out. I really hope 2011 isn’t 2009 all over again. We’re mid-February now, and my ballot for next year’s awards contenders is still blank. Granted, the only actual 2011 movies I’ve seen are No Strings Attached and The Green Hornet, and there are a couple movies out now (Just Go With It, The Eagle) that I’m curious about, but as each day passes, I’m thinking more and more that those can wait a few months til they’re on Netflix. I’m not going to see Sanctum (in 3D or otherwise), I Am Number Four (which looks awful), or the mothafuckin Justin Bieber movie. Last year at this time, we’d already gotten The Book of Eli and Shutter Island, which both ended up with multiple Biggie nominations. I’ll go see Unknown, but I’m not expecting anything from it. I’ll see Drive Angry (not in 3D), but only because I can’t resist the chance to see Nicolas Cage go insane again (and Amber Heard is supahot). Hall Pass looks amusing, but again, that’s probably a wait-for-Netflix (the Farrelly Brothers‘ movies are less visually interesting than a Kevin Smith flick, if that’s possible, so why see it in theaters?). It looks like it’s up to The Adjustment Bureau or Sucker Punch to be the first movie this year that I actually love, but neither one is a sure thing. Sadly, the advance buzz on Sucker Punch has not been good, but I will keep the faith. The pressure’s on, Zack Snyder! Regardless, 2011 has a lot of work to do in March and April to make up for this slow start.


Save me, Matt Damon & Emily Blunt!

I’m wondering when Matthew McConaughey is finally going to realize his full potential and focus on roles worthy of his talent. This man needs an Oscar nomination, dammit. I want A Time to Kill McConaughey back. I want Contact McConaughey back. I want Amistad McConaughey back. I want U-571 McConaughey back. And yes goddammit, I want Reign of Fire McConaughey back. Why do I randomly bring this up? Because Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is running almost nonstop on HBO right now, and if I’m flipping channels and I see it, I always end up watching about 30 random minutes of it, mostly because of the charming way McConaughey carries the film. I’m reminded of why I like him so much as an actor and how much I miss him being in great movies. He’ll be 42 this year (yikes), and after wasting almost an entire decade in completely forgettable movies, it’s time for him to stop doing romantic comedies once and for all and put his talents back to proper use. He’s a likable guy, and I think audiences would enjoy seeing him headlining good movies again. I think The Lincoln Lawyer looks interesting, but it’s probably just a small step in the right direction. I don’t know if it’s him or his agent who thought it would be a good idea to try and turn him into Mr. Romance, but somebody needs to start making sure he sees some better scripts, and soon. He needs another breakthrough part, be it in a lead in an indie film or a strong supporting part in a big studio drama (if “studio drama” isn’t an oxymoron). More than that perhaps, I think he needs a really good director to believe in him enough to give him a part that might otherwise be going to any number of other trendy leading men.

A Time to Kill in particular holds a special place in my heart. It opened in July of 1996, a month after I first began working at General Cinema in Framingham, MA. I was 16, and I must have seen it 3 times (hooray free employee movies!). It was one of the first pure dramas I ever saw at the theater. One of the things I remember coming out of it the first time was wondering who the hell this Matthew McConaughey was, because I’d never seen him in anything prior, and I thought then (and still do) that he was brilliant in the film. Turns out, most other moviegoers were just then discovering him, too. I still think he has the look and the range of talent to do just about any good role, and here’s to hoping he agrees, and cares enough about his craft to make it a priority going forward.


Still one of the best-delivered monologues I’ve seen in a movie.

I’m wondering when MTV is gonna realize there are more interesting things to put on TV than people drinking, partying, arguing and trying to have sex. Those are the 4 pillars of MTV programming. Not that I actually care per se, but admittedly Jersey Shore is a guilty pleasure of mine, and they seem to have lost their way this season with regards to what they think we as the audience will find interesting. It also annoys me because every other MTV show they advertise on Shore is people doing nothing but one those 4 things (sometimes several of them simultaneously). Personally, I don’t need 50% of each Jersey Shore episode to be about Sammy and Ron, the single most annoying, non-violently destructive relationship in the history of earth. Why are you showing us this shit? Because it’s not entertaining, and neither person is likable while they’re having these stupid, unintelligent, endless arguments. If we’re watching two people on TV, and they aren’t entertaining, and we don’t like either of them…that’s BAD TV, a-holes. There is NOTHING redeeming about them. I could rant about this for an hour, but I’ll digress for my own sanity. Let’s just say I hate relationships where it’s plainly obvious the two people aren’t meant to be, and both of them know it but won’t act on it. I hate it when people refuse to end shitty relationships because they somehow enjoy being miserable and making everyone around them miserable.

Anyway, on season 3 right now I’m having fun trying to see what’s going on behind the scenes and how they try to edit around the fact that these people were full on celebrities when they taped this part of the show last summer in Jersey. Every now and then you catch funny stuff in the background that they can’t hide, like the huge crowd that just sits and waits outside the t-shirt shop while they’re inside “working.” It’s hard to see, but in a couple shots you can tell the police have a whole section of that boardwalk roped off so the store doesn’t get overrun with fans. And almost every time they show the cast leaving the store, you can hear people yelling at them in the background. Must have been nice for business (for those who don’t know, that dude who owns the t-shirt store also owns the house they stay in). Their fame was most easily seen when literally a thousand people were watching Snooki get arrested on the beach. Most of the time that’s just a passerby event where you’d see a few people rubbernecking, but if it’s a Jersey Shore cast member being arrested AT the Jersey Shore, that’s the most important thing happening there that day. A lot of people find Snooki endearing, but I for one hope her 15 minutes of fame are over with first among this crew of reality celebrities (whatever that means). Let’s face it, she has absolutely nothing to offer the broader world, and making a living being dumb is nothing to be proud of or aspire to.

I dunno, it just seems like this season, MTV has tried to make things a little too serious, when all most of us want to do is laugh at these people. Jersey Shore is a comedy, and MTV needs to realize that as they move forward with the show (which they are, as they plan on sending the cast to Italy in season 4). The funniest, most likable guy in the house, Pauly D, is now merely a supporting player. One more thing, MTV. How in the bombastic fuck are you STILL not shooting this show in HD?! It’s the biggest show in the history of the network, and we’re stuck having to watch it in 4:3. It’s 2011, guys. Even reality shows are shot in HD now. Spend the money and buy some goddamned HD cameras. Jesus. That said, feel free NOT to shoot Teen Mom in HD. In fact, feel free not to shoot it AT ALL.

I’m wondering how long it will take Bill Belichick and the Patriots to annoy me piss me off at the upcoming draft by trading away that Raiders’ first-round pick (#17 overall). No doubt they’d try to turn it into one or more second round picks NEXT year, which annoys the piss out of most Patriots fans. As always, I hope they keep that pick and use their own first-rounder (#28) as well. I like that they’re able to stockpile picks so well year after year, but I’m also on the side of those who believe the team needs good players NOW, not next year or the year after that. In this draft, I also wouldn’t be opposed, if they so choose (which they almost certainly won’t), to using both first-round picks to trade and move up into the top 10. If I recall correctly, the Pats have 7 of the first 100 picks, which is excellent in theory. But it’s only relevant if they actually USE them.

My longstanding theory is that the Patriots must cash in their chips now, while Tom Brady is still in his prime and while Belichick is still viable as a coach and has his wits about him (aka before he gets too old). Because once either of those two pieces falls, it’s likely the whole damn thing as we know it collapses around them. The Patriots need good players now, because it won’t fucking matter if we have the #1 defense in the NFL 5 years from now once Brady is old or gone, and the Pats are like two-thirds of NFL teams and back looking for consistency at the quarterback position. Unfortunately, the time when Brady isn’t MVP caliber is on the horizon, and coming sooner rather than later. And unless I’m missing something, they aren’t grooming an Aaron Rodgers-level heir to the throne like the Packers were able to do (sorry, Brian Hoyer). To that end, they need to surround Brady with as much talent as they can now while they’re still an elite franchise. That seems like common sense to me, but the moves the team makes don’t always support that logic. Having a bunch of nobodies on both side of the ball who overperform is all well and good, but from time to time, you also have to add players with elite talent to go along with the 97 role players. We need people who can make big plays when they need to be made, on offense and defense.

I don’t know much about this draft class, but I do know the Patriots’ needs. Their first priority has got to be a pass rusher, either at defensive end or outside linebacker. I’m tired of seeing our secondary picked apart because opposing QBs have all the time in the world to make a decision. I believe their second priority should be a deep threat receiver, preferably someone 6’2″ or taller. Yeah, we survived getting rid of Randy Moss, but once the “death by a thousand cuts” passing game was completely shut down by the Jets at the worst possible time, we again were shown how important it is to have that deep threat if you need it. In my dream world, they’d use some of their high picks and trade for Andre Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald, but sadly I think there’s a better chance I’m hired as Patriots GM than there is of either of those trades happening (even if it makes sense! Which it does! Argh!).

And once the CBA is dealt with, they gotta stop fucking around with Logan Mankins and SIGN his ass. Give him the goddamn money. He deserves it. Again, so long as you’ve got Tom Brady at MVP skill level, you need the best players around him that you can get. And that starts with the offensive line that’s protecting him. Mankins is one of the top 3 guards in football. You don’t let that get away when you have the money to spend to keep him. Enough with the franchise tag crap and sign him long term. Brady isn’t like Ben Roethlisberger and Michael Vick, who can make up for a shitty o-line by escaping pressure with their feet and throwing on the run. Brady can’t do that, so you MUST keep the offensive line as strong as possible. To that end, offensive line is the third and final major priority in this year’s draft. Pass rusher, deep threat receiver, solidify the o-line. That’s what I’m trying to do if I’m Bill Belichick. Only problem is, I’m not Bill Belichick.

-I know no one wants to hear this, but if I get it off my chest, I’ll feel better…and that’s what counts! I’m wondering why it takes twice as long to get over being sick as it does to BE sick. 2 weeks ago, I got sick for 5 days, and I’m now on day 9 of coughing and spitting and sneezing up the dead remnants of that sickness in the form of nasty globs of mucus. I’ve had enough! End it! Like I said, I’d take two or 3 sessions of puking this shit up in one day over 10 days of slowly getting rid of it. This also gets me to wondering…at the peak of your illness, how does your head contain all this nasty shit? I’m sure there’s a medical explanation, but until I hear it, I’m going with my theory that while you’re sick, your brain shrinks so that your head can fill up with mucus. This explains why you can’t think straight and have no creativity while you’re sick. Your brain is only large enough to allow you to perform the basic functions of life. This makes perfect sense to me.

I’m wondering how Dustin Pedroia continues to play baseball so well at age 45.


Pedroia at Red Sox spring training this week with a frightening combover.

If YOU’RE wondering why there still isn’t an NFL team in the second biggest media market in America, ESPN Los Angeles did an excellent feature on the efforts that have collapsed since the Raiders and Rams left town, and the two primary ownership groups now who are bidding to bring National Football League football back to that horrid sports town. A very interesting read. [ESPN LA]

There you have it. 15 random things I’ve been pondering. Like the “Disturbing” list, I’ll add to this one as time goes on and the world continues befuddling me.

Before we go, if you’re one of the 15 people who didn’t see this earlier this week, I’ll share it again. Behold, the brilliant teaser trailer to the upcoming zombie video game Dead Island, a game I’d never heard of until I saw this trailer, but one I’ll be very interesting in keeping tabs on going forward. I’m still trying to find out who did this beautiful music and whether or not I can acquire an mp3 of it somewhere.

CAPTAIN TEK WANTS

YOU

To report for duty.

It’s baseball season, bitches.


Manny Who?

ADRIAN GONZALEZ REPORTING.

 

-Now that I’ve figured out how to post audio on here, I’m gonna include some recommended listening on each post, to show off my varied taste (or lack thereof, depending on your own tastes) in music. This time around, it’s a great track of the newest Kings of Leon album, Come Around Sundown, and it’s called “Back Down South.” Have at it.


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