Posts Tagged 'transformers: dark of the moon'

The 2012 Biggie Awards

The 23rd Annual Biggie Awards

aka The Biggies

for achievements in film for the year 2011

MMXI (that’s 2011 in Roman numerals, noobs), it was a strange year at the movies. Very strange indeed. For the first few months of the year, I thought it might end up being the worst overall year for the number of quality films in my adult life. Though there were a couple nice surprises early on (The Lincoln Lawyer, The Adjustment Bureau), it wasn’t until April that I finally saw a movie I truly loved (Hanna). After that, we went most of the rest of spring and almost the entire summer without a truly great movie, which instead was an unending string of disappointments and bland sequels. And I mean real bland, bland by even modern Hollywood standards (I mean, even Pixar made a subpar movie this year). That includes almost all of the major summer “tentpoles”. The big Marvel Avengers tie-in comic book flicks (Thor, Captain America) were both okay, but just okay. Then there was Green Lantern, which can only be described as godawful. I’m still having nightmares over the fact that a giant cloud of diarrhea was a villain in a movie that cost more than $250 million. Michael Bay continued crushing the memory of my childhood heroes with another shitty mess of a Transformers movie (Dark of the Moon, which was only 8.2% better than that atrocity Revenge of the Fallen), while Todd Phillips followed up one of the greatest comedies ever made (The Hangover) with an offensively lazy sequel that was almost literally a carbon copy of the first. I wanted more from J.J. Abrams‘ much-hyped Super 8 (hated the creature design, hated the ending), and although I enjoyed X-Men: First Class, it didn’t hold up as well upon a second viewing recently on Blu-ray.

Continue reading ‘The 2012 Biggie Awards’

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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.

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”:  

SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY #2

Forgive the lack of postings in the last couple weeks, but my brand new laptop decided to have hard drive issues, and I’ve had to get it fixed. I didn’t lose any information, but I do get to re-install all my programs! Yeehaw! I have a couple of ideas for posts, but for now we’ll just do some quick random Sundaystuff.

-Thank you, Red Sox, for realizing that the season has started! As of today, they’ve won 4 in a row and 7 of 8. Josh Beckett looks vintage, Lester is Lester again, and we just had 2 consecutive superb starts from Dice-K (who managed to last 8 innings last night!). This recent trend proves that no matter how great your offense looks on paper, the starting pitching has to be there or it’s all for not. But to show just how deep a hole they’ve dug, the Sox are still 2 games under .500 going into today’s game. Yikes.

 More of this: 8 IP, 1 hit, 0 runs, 9 K.

-As nervous as I am about Dark of the Moon, Shockwave does look pretty awesome in this newly released character banner:


Check out the full-size version HERE.

-I’m much more excited than I should be for Fast Five to open this Friday. I may even venture out to the midnight show Thursday night, even though that will bring out the worst kind of movie crowd imaginable; sold out, low-brow and obnoxious. I guess I’m just desperate to see a fun movie and get “movie summer” (which starts a month and a half before actual summer) started. I’m hearing good advance buzz, and a lot of people are saying it’s the best of the series. Like I’ve been saying, it looks really good, so I’m hopeful it delivers. I love one of the review quotes on Rotten Tomatoes, from one Allan Hunter of The Daily Express (a UK paper), who says:

Fast Five maintains the winning formula and underlines the sad fact that stars Vin Diesel and Paul Walker still have nothing better to do.

2011 has been so bad overall that at this point I simply want to have some fun at the movies. If something really good comes out, great, but I’m no longer expecting it. Do I really have to wait 7 more months for 2012 (which I’m expecting to be the best moviegoing year since 2000) to start? The only bad thing about Fast Five potentially being good is that it will encourage Universal to make a sixth one. I’d like to see director Justin Lin (who has done the last 3 Fast/Furious flicks) get a chance to do something else. Can you believe this franchise began 10 years ago now? Sheeee-it.

-I was very pleased with the series premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones last week. The first episode was mostly introductory stuff (there was a LOT to introduce), but the plot did get moving toward the end and I’m very interested to see how these characters interweave going forward. With Entourage ending this summer, and Boardwalk Empire not returning until the fall, I need HBO to give me something good on Sunday nights. Obviously, the fantasy elements of Thrones are especially appealing to me, and the fact that it’s on HBO means R-rated fantasy, which is almost impossible to get on the big screen (as no studio will finance R-rated fantasy films at the budgets they require). Right at the beginning of that first episode, we get this incredible wide shot of that huge snow/ice wall. One of the coolest visuals I’ve seen in a long time, in a movie or on TV. The whole episode is shot beautifully. Also, the show has introduced us to the impossibly beautiful Emilia Clarke. Oh, HAI, Emilia Clarke…

-I love Boston. I love Massachusetts. It will always be “home.” But every now and again I’m reminded that my home is ruled over by the disgusting political forces of the left, and when stories like THIS come to light, it almost makes me happy I don’t live there. What a disgraceful turn of events. I wonder, Massachusetts, how can the possession of marijuana be both illegal and decriminalized? Only in today’s politically correct, pussified society is that distinction possible. When someone gets killed by a stoned driver, but that driver was only found to have a small amount of weed in his car, will that give the victim’s family comfort? I suspect not. Will it make YOU feel better for voting for that stupid statute? Carrying ANY amount of weed in your car should just as illegal as carrying open containers of alcohol. This court ruling is absurd. Either make marijuana 100% legal or 100% illegal.

-Finally, can I just say how happy this makes me?

Coming Soon: As we enter playoff season in the NHL and NBA, my next big post will be called “The Five Worst Sports Losses of My Life”. I’m sure most of you know exactly where that list is headed. My willingness to inflict emotional pain on myself knows no bounds.

My Ten Most Anticipated Movies of 2011

2011, aka The Nolan Off-Year. Christopher Nolan has been releasing a movie every other year since 2006, so while we wait for his 2012 Batman finale, The Dark Knight Rises, we must first live through 2011. As it turns out, there are some pretty cool and interesting films on tap. 2010 was a very good year for movies (a big upgrade over the disappointing 2009), so let’s see what you got, ’11. If you had no idea what was coming out this year, well, that’s one of the reasons you keep me around as a friend. I’ve done the homework for you. After digging through several lists of hundreds of movies coming out this year, here’s what interests me and tickles my cinematic taste buds the most;

Looking at this camera only reinforces that I never want to shoot in 3D.

1. TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON (July 1)

I can’t believe I’m doing this after the disaster that was Revenge of the Fallen, but I can’t help myself. The original was my most anticipated movie of 2007 and the sequel was my most anticipated movie of 2009. Michael Bay also had my most anticipated movie of 2001 in Pearl Harbor, so this is the 4th time he’s topped this list. Despite his many flaws, he’s like a drug I can’t get enough of. Combine that with my childhood love for Transformers and I’ll be right back in line for the midnight show, excited as shit to see giant fucking robots, explosions, and…an entire movie taking place at sunset (as per Bay’s requirements). I’m still hesitant to believe Bay has learned his lessons from the second movie, but after reading THIS big piece about him on Collider, my fears began to subside. The only way you can fix a problem is to acknowledge its existence, and Bay admits to almost everything I hated about Revenge of the Fallen in that interview. Whether or not he’s full of shit remains to be seen, but the way those guys described some of the footage they saw from Dark of the Moon got my geek antennae all warm and fuzzy again. The teaser trailer was really cool, and I think they spent more time on this one on the story, even though it is coming out just 2 years after the last film again (blame the greedy studio for that, not Bay). Bay also claims that this one will be darker, which is cool, but everyone says that after Dark Knight. Yes, they got rid of Megan Fox. No, I don’t really care. They replaced her with a British Victoria’s Secret model, so apparently Shia LaBeouf is just one irresistibly sexy bitch. I’m very interested to see what they’ll do with Shockwave as the main villain, though I guess Megatron will still make an appearance. I don’t know how that will work, but logic was never Michael Bay’s strong suit. Bay shot some of the film in 3D, despite previously bashing the medium as a gimmick. This is probably so he can make more money off the premium ticket sales. Or is that being too cynical? See, I’m already bashing the thing and I haven’t even seen it. But I am very excited about it! No, really! I know one thing they’ve done right already…they gave Optimus Prime his trailer! It better magically disappear in the movie just as it did in the cartoon. I’ll be very upset if it actually serves some practical purpose. [IMDbTRAILER]


BAM!!!


Yeah, Optimus and I are boys. What of it?

-As an aside, I dug through my old MySpace blog and found my Revenge of the Fallen review, which is probably the best, most entertaining movie review I’ve ever written. Forgive the small fonts, but whenever MySpace redesigned their site, they literally reduced the size of the blogs. It looked much better when I originally posted it. Check it out if you’ve forgotten just how ridonculous that movie is, and what a big mountain they have to climb to get the series back to where it was on the first film.

Still waiting for a moment like this in the live-action Transformers movies;

2. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2 (July 15)

Despite how disappointed and utterly confused I was by Part I, I still have faith that the series will end in spectacular fashion. This one will also likely by 2½ hours long, but most of it should be character-building action, which I’m all for. There isn’t much else to say here, but apparently all the cool stuff in the trailer was from Part II. I will remain spoiler free until it comes out, so who lives and who dies and what happens should all be new to me come July. Interestingly enough, since this is a huge Warner Bros. release, we may also see the first teaser trailer for The Dark Knight Rises attached to it. Here’s hoping. I don’t care if it’s just some Hans Zimmer Batmusic, the logo and the release date. Just give me something. P.S. Per my New Year’s resolution, I will not be seeing Potter in 3D. [IMDbTRAILER]


Spielberg on set.

3. WAR HORSE (December 28)

Unless it’s called Tin-Tin, any Steven Spielberg-directed movie will make my top 5 most anticipated of any year. Unfortunately, the last taste in our mouths of Spielberg directing anything was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, one of the most absurd movies I’ve ever seen. And it pains me to say that, but I have to be honest. This one is based off of Michael Morpurgo‘s book of the same name (which was later adapted to a stage play), and the story takes place during World War I (an underused time period in modern films), where a kid’s beloved horse is sold into the British cavalry and sent into action. The horse ends up in the thick of things, being used on both sides of the war, and the kid, too young to enlist, sets out on his own to find the horse and bring it home. That appears to be a story right in Spielberg’s wheelhouse, and I have every confidence he’ll knock it out of the park. There are no big stars in the cast (the most recognizable one is Emily Watson, playing the boy’s mother), and they did a huge search in the UK to cast the role of the boy, Albert. A kid named Jeremy Irvine eventually won the part. I’m very interested to see a trailer for this, but we likely won’t get one til the summer. [IMDb – No trailer yet]

4. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (December 21)

I have no real reason to be so excited about this, other than the hype I’ve heard and the insane popularity of Stieg Larsson‘s books. I became hooked when David Fincher agreed to direct it, and then by the excellent cast they’ve put together. Fincher cast his Social Network star Rooney Mara in the coveted lead role of Lisbeth Salander. Then they cast the great Daniel Craig in the lead male role, Mikael Blomkvist, and we also get Robin Wright, Stellan Skarsgard, and Christopher Plummer. I heard an interview recently where Fincher admitted he was hesitant to get involved with another murder story, but that he was excited about the prospect of creating a movie franchise for adults. I’m so happy that Benjamin Button and Social Network have cemented Fincher’s place as one of Hollywood’s prestige directors (meaning he’s one of the first people called when the best projects come up), even though his fans have known that since the mid-90’s. By the time this opens in December, I probably still won’t have read the books, but I will have seen all of the original Swedish movies, which are coming up soon on my Netflix list. It’s interesting that the Lisbeth Salander of the Swedish movies, Noomi Rapace, is now being cast in some big mainstream American projects (one of which is coming up on this list). Needless to say, I’m interested to see what all the fuss is about. [IMDb – No trailer yet]

5. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL (December 6)

A lot of people may disagree with me, but I think the Mission: Impossible films have gotten better and better each time out. This is usually the exact opposite of what happens with most Hollywood franchises. Though J.J. Abrams is not directing again, he’s back in a producing capacity and was involved in coming up with the story, both of which are good things. The director this time is Brad Bird, and this marks his live-action directing debut (he previously did the fabulous The Iron Giant, and The Incredibles and Ratatouille for Pixar). Normally, I’d be skeptical of an animation director taking on a project like this as his live-action debut, but not in Bird’s case. I think this was a smart choice, and I also like that Tom Cruise was humble enough to take part in a story that’s supposedly set up to phase him out of the series. Jeremy Renner is Cruise’s protégé in the film, and apparently if there’s a 5th movie, Renner would become the star and Cruise’s Ethan Hunt would be gone or reduced to a small part. Another very smart move I think. Not that I lack confidence in Cruise (I think I’m one of 15 people left in America who still love the guy as an actor), but in order for a franchise like this to continue, you’ve got to get new blood involved and turn over the lead role from time to time. Renner is überhot right now, and it was a wise casting choice. They seem to be borrowing a page from the Bond films, and that’s not a bad formula to emulate (new leading men, new directors each time, etc.). Simon Pegg returns, which incites smiley faces everywhere. Also joining the cast are the beautiful Paula Patton and the excellent Anil Kapoor (of Slumdog Millionaire and 24: Season 8 fame). We don’t know anything about the story, but some of it takes place in Dubai, and in the photo above, you’ll see Tom Cruise doing stunts on the Burj Khalifa, the recently completed tallest building on Earth. I can’t wait to see what they did with that. A few months ago photos came online (I couldn’t find it again to post here) of Cruise literally sitting on the top of the tower. It was mindboggling. That dude has some balls. Should be f’n awesome. [IMDb – No trailer yet]

6. SUPER 8 (June 10)

J.J. Abrams‘ next directorial effort is shrouded in maximum secrecy, but we know it’s a sci-fi movie in the vein of old-school Spielberg (who is a producer on this, but that could mean nothing). Or so we’ve been told. Regardless, after what Abrams did on Mission: Impossible 3 and Star Trek, I’d get in line to see him make a Barbie movie. You heard me. I really can’t say much else about it. It seems to take place in the late 70’/early 80’s and involves a creature or aliens on the loose. I know, that sounds like Cloverfield, but I’m assuming Abrams isn’t gonna rip himself off. The cast includes my boy Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) and a bunch of other white people. Watch the teaser trailer and see if you can make anything out of it. Just the fact that they’ve been able to keep it such a secret in this day and age is applause worthy. [IMDbTRAILER]

7. SHERLOCK HOLMES 2 (December 16)

I simply adored the first movie. Turns out Guy Ritchie
was the perfect filmmaker to modernize the character, and they pulled it off with visual flair, clever action scenes, smart writing and terrific performances across the board. Almost all of the original cast and crew are back (though my girl Rachel McAdams has not been confirmed), and they add the aforementioned Noomi Rapace in the female lead, and Jared Harris as Professor Moriarty, Holmes‘ greatest foe. The introduction of Moriarty in the sequel reminds me of how Christopher Nolan saved The Joker for his second Batmovie. I’m not saying this sequel will be anything close to as good as Dark Knight, but I like the idea of bringing in your big gun villain after you’ve spent one movie setting up the world and your main characters. In that sense, there’s great potential here, but in the end it will all depend on the writing. Robert Downey‘s comeback still amazes me. After Johnny Depp, he might be the second-biggest movie star in the world right now, and no other actor can say they’re simultaneously carrying 2 franchises like he is. [IMDb – No trailer yet]

8. THE HANGOVER PART II (May 26)

I think the original was perhaps the best comedy of the 2000’s. I’d have to do some digging to see what else would be on that list, but The Hangover has to be right up there. With its massive success, a sequel isn’t surprising, but I have to admit, I was not keen on the idea of a sequel to this story. I mean, what could possibly bring these 4 characters together again, and what could they possibly be doing so that they’d end up in another set of such insane circumstances? After all, you have to up the ante for a sequel. I just thought (and might still think) that anything close to what they went through on the original happening AGAIN would be too much of a stretch. They haven’t released a whole lot of info on the plot, but this one will supposedly follow what happens when the guys travel to Thailand for Stu‘s (Ed Helms) wedding. So they’ll have to introduce whoever it is Stu is marrying (looks like she’s played by Jamie Chung), and then international hijinks will ensue. Since they got the cast back, and since Todd Phillips is back, I’m psyched to see it regardless of whether or not I think it should have been made in the first place. The first one was mostly based in reality, and I just think if that kind of stuff happens to them again, you run the risk of making them all look cartoonish. But I’m open to being wrong. I’m also very curious to see all these cameos (Liam Neeson and Paul Giamatti have small parts, and even Bill Clinton shot a scene, which may be a first for a former President). [IMDb – No trailer yet]

9. THOR (May 6)

For some reason, I get the sense this will be hit or miss. Either it’ll be very good or very disappointing. I have some confidence given Marvel’s recent history and how they’re tying these films together for The Avengers in 2012. We’ll get some carryover from the Iron Man movies (Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson and maybe a Sam Jackson as Nick Fury cameo or some other surprises), and Chris Hemsworth looks pretty damn good as Thor. We’ve also got Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, and relative newcomer Tom Hiddleston (who’s also in War Horse) as Thor’s brother, Loki. I admit I’ll be going into this one pretty cold, as I’ve never read a Thor comic and know next to nothing about the mythology. So it’ll be cool to experience some discovery of a new world. I’m curious how much of the film takes place in Asgard versus how much is on Earth. I like the trailer, and whatever the machine thingy they’re fighting is looks pretty badass. It’ll also be interesting to see what Kenneth Branagh brings to the table as director. He’s certainly never done anything with this scope. Hopefully, he placed some of that Shakespearean gravitas on the film. If Marvel had total creative control of the project and didn’t let him do at least some of his own thing, then you wonder why they’d hire him. [IMDbTRAILER]

10. THE BEAVER (April 8 )

Though I don’t think it’ll make any money, I’m just hopeful Mel Gibson delivers the type of performance that allows him to stage a comeback in the industry (though you could argue he won’t make that kind of comeback until something he’s in does make money). I’d like to see a Michael Vick level turnaround, and based on how good the script for this thing supposedly was, I don’t believe that’s outside the realm of possibility. And I think under the steady hand of Jodie Foster in the director’s chair, the circumstances are ideal for Gibson to turn in a great performance. But we’ll see. I’m putting this in the top 10 because that’s how much I love Gibson as an actor. I think he’s a vital performer, and I want him back in the mix, both as an actor and perhaps even moreso as a director. Kudos to Summit for releasing the film. I’ll reward them by buying a ticket to their next goofy Twilight movie later in the year. [IMDbTRAILER]

10 RUNNERS UP (in A-B-C order):

THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (March 4) – A very interesting sci-fi premise in a real-world setting, based on a Philip K. Dick story (shocker). Matt Damon and the lovely Emily Blunt star, along with Mad Men‘s John Slattery. [IMDbTRAILER]

BATTLE: LOS ANGELES (March 11) – This looks very cool, but at the same time I won’t be surprised if it’s a complete disaster. However, I love the way they’re describing it, which is that it was shot Black Hawk Down-style from the perspective of a group of Marines as they fight off an alien invasion in LA. I’ll see pretty much any alien invasion movie, but few of the filmmakers involved have done anything in the past that I’ve loved. I guess there’s always a first time. I hope. The second trailer (which I’ve linked) is much better than the first one they released. [IMDbTRAILER]

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (July 22) – Here’s another instance where I know nothing about the Marvel mythology. I’m also a little nervous that we haven’t seen a trailer yet, and that it’s kind of flying under the radar, even though it’s an important release, particularly with regards to the Avengers movie. At first I was hesitant about Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, but I’ve since been put at ease by some of the publicity photos. The cast around him is pretty strong (Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones), and Joe Johnston is a competent enough director. I’m reserving judgment, but they gotta show us something soon. I’m curious to see what kind of Captain America they present in this day and age. I’m surprised the PC Police didn’t intervene and force them to rename him Captain Democracy or some shit like that. Something tells me this isn’t destined to be a hit overseas. [IMDb – No trailer yet]

COWBOYS & ALIENS (July 29) – Yet another alien invasion story, though this one comes with a very cool twist. It takes place in the old west. I love westerns, and I love alien invasions. Put the two together…and I’m intrigued. You also gotta love that title, simple and to the point. I think Jon Favreau has proven himself to be a competent director of summer blockbusters (though I’d like to see some more ‘vision’ out of him), and with Daniel Craig as your lead, you can’t go wrong. Then there’s a grumpy Harrison Ford (who ALREADY WORKS AROUND THE CLOCK!!!), as well as Sam Rockwell, Paul Dano…and Olivia Wilde! Woot woot! Should be pretty neato, and whether it’s good or bad, it’ll be unique. [IMDbTRAILER]

NO STRINGS ATTACHED vs. FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS (January 21 & July 22) – I just covered this in my New Year’s post, but I also intend on seeing both movies. Aside from Ashton Kutcher, I’m a big fan of the actors involved, and it’ll be interesting to compare the two films as well as seeing if the first one to come out (No Strings) affects the other’s prospects at the box office. It looks like they’re both gonna be R-rated, which is also a plus. It’ll be good to see Natalie Portman doing something lighter, and I’ll watch Mila Kunis in anything. Sort of reminds me of the “two movies with similar plot devices coming out within months of each other” situations we saw with Dante’s Peak vs. Volcano, or Deep Impact vs. Armageddon in 1998. [IMDb & IMDb – See trailers in the previous post]

HANNA (April 8 ) – This movie looks like an absolute trip. Eric Bana plays the father of a 14-year old girl (the amazing Saoirse Ronan), who he’s trained to be a cold-blooded killer. Then there’s Cate Blanchett as a government agent who’s been trying to track him down. It’s directed by Joe Wright, who did an excellent job with Atonement. I’d have a hard time describing the plot, so just trust me and watch this trailer. Ronan looks like she could give Hit Girl a run for her money. Oh, and The Chemical Brothers did the score. Badass. [IMDbTRAILER]

SUCKER PUNCH (March 25) – Zack Snyder, the king of slow motion, returns with this completely original, visually stunning, utterly awesome-looking action/fantasy. Forgive me, but I’m just gonna copy the plot summary straight from IMDb for ya; “A young girl is institutionalized by her wicked stepfather. Retreating to an alternative reality as a coping strategy, she envisions a plan which will help her escape from the facility.” Snyder’s got this whole scenario set up where we get this really cool looking fantasy dream world that looks part Inception, part Sin City, part 300 (all movies I love). I just think this looks fantastic, and because it’s an original story, I’m rooting for it to succeed in the same way I rooted for Inception last year. This is easily one of the most fascinating films of 2011, and it’s not gotten a lot of attention yet. The cast looks fantastic (both literally and figuratively), and I really wanna see how Emily Worthing does with her first big starring role. Girl is hawwwt! [IMDbTRAILER]


OH, HAI Vanessa Hudgens!

MONEYBALL (September 23) – They’ve been trying to get this movie off the ground for years, and for a long time it had Steven Soderbergh attached to direct. Instead, we’ll get Bennett Miller (Capote) directing, with Brad Pitt starring as Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane. This is based on the acclaimed nonfiction Michael Lewis book about Beane’s successful effort to build a winning team on a small market budget. Doesn’t sound like a really good basis for a movie, does it? That’s probably why it’s been in development for about 5 years. However, in the end, we’ll be getting a movie with a script that was worked on by both Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian, two of the best writers in Hollywood (in fact, in my book, probably #1 and #2). We’ve also got Philip Seymour Hoffman as A’s manager Art Howe, as well as Jonah Hill and Robin Wright. With the talent involved behind and in front of the camera, I have faith that they’ve turned this into a story worthy of being told on the big screen. I’m also looking forward to seeing a sports movie that doesn’t require on-field drama to be compelling. And if you still think this sounds boring, consider that this time last year, few people thought a movie about the creation of Facebook would be worth a damn. [IMDb – No trailer yet]

SCREAM 4 (April 15) – I’m torn on this one. The original Scream movies (the last one came out in 2000 if you can believe it) are my all-time favorite horror series. That’s saying something considering I’m not a big fan of horror movies in general. I fell in love with the brilliant, original Scream in 1996 at age 16 while working at a movie theater, and I loved both sequels. That said, if we’re being honest, here we have another example of a sequel that probably didn’t need to be made, but much like the Hangover followup, we’ve got the original creative team back in place. Wes Craven is at the helm, and series creator Kevin Williamson wrote the script. As such, I retain a glimmer of hope that there’ll be some interesting new ideas here given the different world we live in now, both culturally and technologically. I kinda wish they’d rebooted it with a whole new cast, but Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox are also back. It’s tough to tell from the teaser trailer who the main characters are, but a slew of actresses (Anna Paquin, Hayden Panettiere, Marley Shelton, Kristen Bell, and Friday Night Light‘s Aimee Teegarden) all make appearances, making me wonder who gets the Drew Barrymore/Jada Pinkett scene at the beginning of the film. They’ve been talking about making a 4th Scream for a decade, and now we have it. We’ll see if it was worth the wait. Damn, I miss my Scream mask and black robe. Scaring the shit out of the girls on Halloween in 1997 is one of my fondest high school memories. [IMDbTRAILER]


Mr. Scream rides the bus?

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (June 3) – By the way, there’s a new X-Men movie coming out this year. That’s how bad Brett Ratner‘s X-Men: The Last Stand was and how much it decimated my passion for the franchise. It was so bad that I couldn’t muster enough interest in this to put it in the top 10. And X-Men is easily my favorite comic series. It LOOKS like they’ll be getting the series back on track here, rewinding the story back to a point where Professor X and Magneto were friends. Together, they discover their powers and fight off some great threat (which is unnamed to this point), and presumably at the end of the film they’ll part ways, setting up the legendary rivalry. I really like this premise. And let’s face it, after The Last Stand, there’s nowhere to go but up. They brought in Matthew Vaughn to direct, who is hot off of Kick-Ass. We’ve also got two fine actors in James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, playing Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr respectively. Like I said, X-Men is my favorite comic series, and Magneto is my favorite comic book villain, so I have high hopes here. However, those hopes are still somewhat jaded after the bitter taste of excrement that remains in my mouth after The Last Stand. Have I mentioned how bad X-Men: The Last Stand was? [IMDb – No trailer yet]

Other Notes:

-Why isn’t Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides anywhere on this list? Because it didn’t need to be made, and that’s painfully clear when you watch that trailer, which I won’t even link to.

-I still get confused trying to tell Green Hornet and Green Lantern apart. This much I know; the one with Ryan Reynolds in a green CGI suit looks incredibly dumb. And really, how many fucking comic book movies is this guy gonna be in? He’s been in so many different comic storylines (Blade: Trinity, Wolverine, now this) that it feels like the universe is about to implode. The Seth Rogen green superhero movie looks okay, though there are way too many homophobic jokes in that trailer, are there not? How many times does the Asian dude say some variation of, “I’ll go with you, but I’m not touching you.” Just awkward. Though I’m very interested to see what Michel Gondry does with a big-budget effects movie like this, I’m not expecting it to be very good.

-I didn’t see it, but I keep hearing last year’s Valentine’s Day was one of the worst romantic comedies ever made. Why do I mention this? You know why. Yes, they made a sequel. It’s title? New Year’s Eve. That deafening sound you just heard was every moviegoer in the country simultaneously sighing in disgust.

-Fox is going bonkers with origins stories this year. In addition to X-Men: First Class, we’ll be getting Rise of the Apes, which, you guessed it, will set up the Planet of the Apes mythology. As if there was a great demand for that. I’m intrigued that they got James Franco, Frieda Pinto and Andy Serkis to star. Might be good, might be crapola.

Adam Sandler‘s comedies continue to suck ass of late, but I have to admit, Just Go with It looks sort of funny, and it has a premise I can’t remember seeing before. This will mark the screen debut of supermodel Brooklyn Decker, who I’ve been in love with for several years. Regardless of whether or not it’s funny, just watching the trailer I can already see the ending coming from a mile away. Think he ends up with Jennifer Aniston? Spoiler alert!

-Even though I did not like Pineapple Express, the followup pairing of director David Gordon Green with actors James Franco & Danny McBride, Your Highness, does look hilarious. Natalie Portman, who’s about to get an Oscar nomination for Black Swan, will be hot in 2011 as well, with this, No Strings Attached, Thor, and the very promising The Other Woman. Attagirl.

There you have it. Those are the movies I’ll be keeping my eye on this year. Of course, several foreign films, documentaries, and indie films will end up in the mix (as they always do), but it’s tough to predict what those will be at the beginning of the year. Last I checked, I don’t have any tickets to this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Enjoy your 2011 at the movies! And remember, we’re only one year away from the epic 2012, where we’ll get The Dark Knight Rises, a Zack Snyder-directed Superman, the third Daniel Craig Bond movie, The Hobbit: Part I, The Avengers, The Spider-Man reboot, the Star Trek sequel, and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

P.S. Do me a favor, be a smart moviegoer, and see as few 3D movies this year as you can. I will be seeing NONE. In case you didn’t know, everything that comes out 3D is also available to see in regular 2D as well. You don’t HAVE to see everything in 3D just because they advertise the shit out of it being in 3D. Unless it’s Avatar or a CG-animated movie, it probably ain’t worth it. Tell Hollywood you’re tired of paying an extra $3-5 for crappy post-converted 3D and you’re on to their greedy tricks. Do it so that our best filmmakers don’t feel they need to jump on board the bandwagon. When fucking Martin Scorsese
is shooting a 3D movie, you know things have gone too far.

Today Be Tuesday

Yankees. LOSE.

How’s this for a starting rotation, in the National League no less; Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels. They could put a feces-throwing monkey out there on day 5 and not miss a beat.  Is it too early to say I’m looking forward to the Red Sox-Phillies World Series? Cliff Lee left $30 million and 2 years on the table from the Yankees’ offer, and went to where he thought he would be happier (and perhaps where he knew there’d be easier opponents). 5 years, $120 million certainly isn’t a bargain (his $24 million average annual salary actually surpasses the AAV of the Rangers and Yankees’ deals), but I still give Lee a bravo for showing the Yankees they can’t get whoever they want just by spending. The Yankees are left with just an okay starting rotation, and they remain very old on the whole. On top of that, the Rays’ lineup has been decimated, having lost Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena. If the Red Sox don’t win the AL East (and lead it throughout the year), they should be ashamed. Here are a few good reaction pieces to the Lee decision; [Yahoo] [ESPN NY] [Jayson Stark] [NY Post]

Also, I’d like to give Theo Epstein and the Sox brass kudos for putting in fake bids on both Lee and Mariano Rivera to help force the price up for the Yankees.


Pretty much a perfect opening titles sequence.

Now that season 1 is over, I just wanted to profess my love for AMC’s The Walking Dead. Aside from The West Wing24, and more recently Boardwalk Empire, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a more consistently cinematic TV show. Under Frank Darabont‘s stewardship, the show is beautifully shot, expertly acted, and maturely written. I’m also thrilled that the show is carried by actors who haven’t previously headlined a TV show. Andrew Lincoln is a great discovery (he’s also British, if you didn’t know), and the rest of the cast is a breath of fresh air (though Laurie Holden worked with Darabont on his films The Mist and The Majestic, and the always wonderful Jeffrey DeMunn has been in all 4 of Darabont’s features, going all the way back to Shawshank). The season finale last week drew 6 million viewers, which is gargantuan for cable (and not bad even for an average network show these days). I’m happy that AMC took a chance on a show like this, and even moreso that they were justly rewarded in the ratings when it turned out to be so good.  The upside is that the second season will be 13 episodes (as opposed to the debut season’s mere 6), but the downside is we have to wait until next October for it to return. HBO will also make an attempt at a genre series with next year’s debut of Game of Thrones, and I’m very much interested to see how that turns out. Either way, it’s a good trend. The fewer legal dramas, medical dramas, and police procedurals that get made going forward, the better. I’m thrilled that the cable networks now produce the best television, since they don’t have to make their shows PG-rated. The more R-rated, realistic, gritty TV we get, the happier I am.

-Next up on the docket, there were quite a few new trailers released this past week for some of 2011’s biggest movies.  Here are the first clips for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Thor, The Beaver, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon, with some reaction after each.

My first impression after watching this trailer was precisely my reaction to the announcement they were making a 4th Pirates movie…what’s the point? Other than the ability to print money of course, why is this necessary? Nevermind, there is no other reason. It looks entertaining, but it certainly doesn’t look like this was a story that was just BEGGING to be told. I was glad that Gore Verbinski, who directed the first 3, wisely stepped aside, and they’ve also dumped the Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley characters. The salaries for those 3, and the fact that they seem to have cut way back on the supernatural elements of the story, should have brought the budget down significantly for this 4th installment. That’s a good thing for Disney, as each of the previous sequels cost $250 million or more (the messy At World’s End was supposedly north of $275 million). Replacing Verbinski is Rob Marshall, best known for Chicago. I’m curious to see how he’ll handle a big adventure picture with lots of effects. All the reports I’ve read say Johnny Depp came back because he truly loves playing this character (he certainly made enough money on the others so that cash wasn’t his main concern), and I think that still comes across in his performance. I’m a big fan of Ian McShane playing the main villain, Blackbeard (though no one will top Bill Nighy‘s brilliant work as Davy Jones), but I’m not crazy about Penelope Cruz as the new female lead. Though she’s talented, I’m not crazy about her in general, and I could see her becoming very annoying in this movie. The two best aspects of this movie for me may end up being Hans Zimmer‘s score and the cinematography of Dariusz Wolski, who is nothing short of a genius.

I’ll admit I know next to nothing about the Thor comic book mythology. I know he carries an awesome hammer, and that’s about it. I loved the little snippet they gave us at the end of Iron Man 2, and I love how the Marvel movies are all tying together in anticipation of The Avengers in 2012. I like the scale they seem to be going for here, but at the same time if they don’t do this just right, the character could come across as silly existing in the same world as Robert Downey Jr.‘s Tony Stark. That’s the only thing that really concerns me. The most interesting thing about this project is the choice of Kenneth Branagh as director. What I’m hoping is that a guy known mostly for his performances of Shakespeare can bring a bit of that prestige to this fantasy world. At least that’s what I think they were going for when they hired him. I haven’t seen anything he’s previously directed, so I’m curious about his style, too. It should be fun seeing Anthony Hopkins ham it up, and I’ll never complain about seeing Natalie Portman on screen. Though isn’t it also interesting looking at Portman’s career choices (the Star Wars prequels, V for Vendetta, Thor, and she’s rumored to be up for a part in The Dark Knight Rises). Am I crazy, or is she a closeted geek? As if I couldn’t love her any more.

This film is controversial only in that it features Mel Gibson as its star. It was originally slated for release this year, but because of the controversy surrounding Gibson this summer (“You should just SMIIIIILE…AND BLOOOOOOOOOOOOWWW ME!”), it was put into exile. A lot of people (including me), were very much looking forward to seeing it, because a couple of years ago, Kyle Killen‘s original script was at the top of the annual list of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood. It’s certainly an original concept, and the pedigree of Jodi Foster directing Gibson has a lot of people excited. I think this trailer is a good payoff for the hype. I’m glad Summit put it out, because it indicates they do intend to release the film sooner than later. The realist in me doubts it’ll make much money, but I’m hoping it represents a comeback for Gibson with regards to his performance. Despite his antics, he remains one of our greatest actors, and he deserves a chance at redemption and forgiveness as much as anyone else. Mel Gibson is certainly not the first celebrity for whom we have to separate the performance from the man.

This is a great teaser, but then again, Michael Bay‘s movies always have solid first trailers. And then the films themselves end up being 150-minute teases. Bay claims to have learned his lessons from the second film, claiming there’ll be much less slapstick comedy. He’s saying this one will have a more serious, darker tone (where’d he get that idea from, *cough*Dark Knight *cough*, ahem). I love what they did with the Neil Armstrong lunar landing (just a really cool idea), and I love that Shockwave is the main villain this time, but I don’t know if that’s him you see at the end of the trailer. There’s a debate raging online as to whether or not it’s Unicron, apparently based only on the fact that he’s yellow-ish. However, Unicron is supposed to be planet-sized, so he better not have fit inside a ship that crashed on the moon. Just sayin. Then again, after how badly they fucked up Devastator in the last one, I wouldn’t be surprised if Unicron ended up being a school bus.

How could I not…


“You shall witness…it’s dismumbumunt!!!”

Also released just today (on Vin Diesel‘s Facebook page for some reason), is the teaser for Fast Five, aka the 5th (and supposedly final) Fast and the Furious movie. Also known as 5 Fast 5 Furious, The Fivest Fastest Mostest Furiousest, 5ast cars, Bald HeadsThe Fastest Way Paul Walker Can Earn a Paycheck, and of course, the more direct…Give Us More of Your 5ucking Money! The trailer is not yet on Apple, Yahoo or the Tube, so there’ll be no linkage, but for now you can go to facebook.com/vindiesel if you really wanna see it. And you needn’t worry, there are several obligatory shots of a pair of girls wearing tiny skirts walking by random import cars. Cuz that apparently never gets old. It actually doesn’t look all that bad (even though it brings Tyrese and Ludacris back from the second movie, which was the worst of the bunch), but it’s just too easy to mock. Dwayne Johnson is in it, so we can look forward to the inevitable scene in the film where he and Diesel have a hardcore steel cage ladder match to find out who takes home Dominic Toretto‘s 6-pack of Corona.

Xander Cage vs. The Tooth Fairy. Live, only on Pay-per-view!!!

(Is it strange that Johnson will followup up Faster with Fast Five?)

-Finally, switching gears (see what I did there?), I was glad to read today that the House is going to bring up a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as a stand-alone piece of legislation. I fully support getting rid of this stupid rule in the military. If a gay person wants to serve their country, they have the same right to as anyone else. It really ought to be that simple. I’ve heard of no studies that show gay soldiers can’t integrate themselves into their units the same as anyone else, and I think it’s kind of ignorant to suggest they’d be some kind of sexual predators or that they’d spend an inordinate amount of time hitting on other soldiers of the same sex. It’s equally absurd to suggest that our hetero soldiers aren’t trained and disciplined enough to be mature about serving with gays. Any who aren’t should be relieved of their duties. A previous attempt to repeal the policy was voted down in the Senate recently, but mostly because it was earmarked to another massive spending bill. This time, lawmakers will have to be heard on where they stand on this one issue, which is exactly the way it should be.  Lawmaking doesn’t need to be overly complicated. Bills don’t have to be thousands of pages long to have a positive, lasting impact. Credit here appears to go to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA). Don’t say I never gave the Democrats credit when they did something good, and I’ll be taking note of any major Republicans who openly oppose this. Congress will get a rare thumbs up from me if they get this done before they go home for the year. [Politico]


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