Category Archives: Movies

Warners and Netflix

Dear Warner Brothers:

What you’re doing with DVDs on Netflix sucks. If making someone wait 30 days isn’t an insult, you add these unskippable trailers – which total about fifteen minutes worth of previews, in the case of The Losers – to the disc. You realize that this is only annoying legitimate paying customers? Plus, stripping all of the special features out just irritates people. It doesn’t make me want to buy the DVD any more than usual. Plus, I own a lot of Warner DVDs already. I even see your movies in the theater. You guys have already gotten a lot of my money. Why piss me off with obvious nickel and dime routines?

Also, Netflix? Stop being complicit in this shit. It’s not customer friendly for a company that’s been very customer oriented in the past. Shame on you.

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Movie time!

Tonight I’m going to see Toy Story 3. I’m hoping that the theater I go to isn’t overrun by children, but I’m not sure what recourse I have. Even the late showings of Pixar movies I’ve been to had lots of younguns. So, I’ve accepted the fate that I’ll have to deal with some kids. Still, movies like Pixar movies are best enjoyed in an audience setting.

I’ve always appreciated Toy Story for several reasons. The first movie because of its obvious ground breaking, but also because it’s a great example of artists working with and against the limitations of their medium to come up with excellent filmmaking. As an artist, I can appreciate when someone has a limitation that they have to beat to succeed. Instead of moaning about what they couldn’t do, they set out to tell a fine story and did everything in their power to do so. They took what they couldn’t do and improved on it tenfold in the sequel.

Now, eleven years has passed and the technology of computer animation has completely blown past what was possible even with, say, Monsters Inc. With technical limitations starting to fade away, can these guys still produce without their backs against the wall? Given that even the “worst” of their movies are still pretty good, I’d say yes. Given that the movie is still 100% fresh after well over 100 reviews on RT, it’ll have the first distinction of being the only trilogy to score 100% over all three movies. It couldn’t happen to a better bunch of artists. Bravo, Pixar.

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Ninja Assassin

This is one of those movies where I wasn’t quite sure of what was going to happen when I got it. I remembered seeing a trailer for it a long time ago, and it seemed kind of like a funny movie; a pastiche on ninja films. It’s not really a comedy, though. It’s a film that tries to play the absurd straight. I guess one could take that for comedic effect, but it didn’t ring with me.

Most movies probably need the right audience and viewing circumstnaces to truly shine, and I think Ninja Assassin is one of those films. Watching it by yourself is no fun. You need a bunch of guys sitting around going “Man, wouldn’t it be cool if a ninja did X?” Then, amazingly, the ninja DOES X and you all go “Sweet!’

The amount of gore and violence is so over the top that you can’t help but be amused. Again, the movie is trying to homage and mock its source material at the same time. The plot revolves around a bunch of ninja clans who want to take each other down and have done so indirectly throughout the centuries. There’s fairly little depth to it, and the main character’s motivation is out of nearly every comic book.

I guess if you like gratuitous blood geysers, this is the movie for you. If you’re looking for good writing or some kind of a point, it’s a skip.

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The Informant!

I like Matt Damon’s character in this movie. He’s crazy, and funny. But the movie itself lets down a bit. Soderbergh is playing it for laughs, but it’s just not that funny. I mean, yes, Damon’s character descending into madness is humorously tragic. But something tells me that if I really cared about the trials and tribulations on the price fixing of lysine, I’d be better off buying the book.

I did find it funny that the intro made the standard disclaimer about characters being composites, and other things. It then followed up with a “so there,” which was probably the only guffaw I had in the entire movie. It also got me thinking a bit about the things people do in adaptations of real events. A book can be as many pages as you have money to print, and expect people to read. Movies work a little differently. They generally have to fit within a running time, and the rules of cinema are different than those of prose.

So when people mope about how a movie is not the same as a book, my response is usually “Well, duh.” The question one should be asking is “Was this a good movie?” Adaptations should stand on their own merits, and while you can compare something to its source, it shouldn’t be the end all.

So with the Informant, the film’s clearly made to take a humorous bent on the events, as opposed to the book. I have not read the book, so I can’t adequately judge it, but from what I’ve been told it’s a more straight arrow take on the events. I’ll have to put it on my reading list. Also, is it me or does Scott Bakkula look like Leonard Nimoy in this flick?

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You’ve got one bad attitude.

I’m trying not to get TOO excited about this upcoming A-Team movie. For the three people that read this thing on a regular basis, you’re well aware that tickling my nostalgia or memory bones tends to get me really into things. It’s not something I can logically defend, really. There’s stuff that I like, and I likes it. But the A-Team movie seems right up my alley, and it concerns me. There’s no “sneak peek” reviews yet. The trailers are ticking all of the right boxes. I’m trying to keep my expectations in check here, people!

The hot topic has and always will be the casting. I actually have a lot of faith in Liam Neeson as Hannibal Smith. Liam’s a great actor who really gets into his role, and I think he’s totally up to the job. The dude from Alias is playing Face, and I don’t know enough about him to judge. The dude who played Wikus from District 9 is cast as Howlin’ Mad Murdock. It’s a complete 180 from the work he’s done before, which amounts to stuff related to District 9. I have no idea how he does comedic work, but the trailers have him with some funny one-liners. Murdock’s character is more dependent on writing than anything else, so I think there’s only so much to do.

Quinton Jackson as B.A. is everyone’s wildcard. There’s no way he can replace Mr. T and trying to emulate him seems futile. Jackson has talked about this at length, and it seems he and the director have worked on creating a new BA that can stand on his own. I’ve no idea how exactly they’re doing this, as it seems their BA still channels some of that Mr. T attitude and looks. As long as it’s a good, well-rounded character (I know, I know, this is the A-Team), I think I’ll be OK with it.

I’m appreciative that they’re going with the original story of four guys convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. The show was never high drama, but it was a character-driven show. Likewise, I think this movie needs to address that. A better plot can only make the characters we love better. I just hope that it’s going to be awesome. Steering a falling tank with its cannon is such genius that I hope it’s not the only crazy trick they pull.

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The New (justice) A-Team

So I hear there’s this movie coming out about some band of brothers who were wrongly convicted of a crime they didn’t commit. As a fan of the original A-Team, I A-pprove. See, what people don’t get about the A-Team is that it’s the 1980s equivalent of popcorn western films.  The only thing that could have made it better is if Clint Eastwood was in it.

So when I hear that there’s a new A-Team coming, I’m pretty psyched. I mean, here’s what you have to do to have a successful A-Team:

1. Hannibal Smith has to be awesome. Liam Neeson is “interesting” casting, but he’s a great actor, so I think he can pull it off. Chomp cigars, have plans come together, wham bam thank you ma’am.

2. BA Baracus has to be, well, bad ass. Drive a kick-ass van, physically kick somebody in the ass, and… well, that’s about it.

3. Howlin’ Mad Murdock’s got to be batshit insane. We’re talking fire in the belly here.

4. Faceman… well, he just has to be there. Hey, you’re the weakest character, just don’t fuck up.

It’s not that hard when you think about it, but a lot of the identity of those characters were wrapped up in the actors that played them originally. This was the same problem Steve Carrell had in Get Smart. Don Adams defined Maxwell Smart. Carrell actually played a very good Smart. If this movie can be the same kind of quality that Get Smart was, I think most people and fans alike will be pretty pleased. I mean, a tank falling out of a C-130 blowing guys up? That there my friend takes some balls that only Hannibal Smith would possess. I expect them to hit all the notes – they’ve already got the van, BA not getting on a plane, cigars, etc. I’m curious as to what they’ll do for the stuff we’ve never seen before. The C-130 drop sequence was a great start; here’s hoping there’ll be more.

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Astro Boy

So I’m finally getting around to Astro Boy (that is, the film that came out last year) and I’ve got to say it’s… a lot better than I thought it would be. Although I’m not super familiar with the source material, I am familiar with something that knocked off the original Astro Boy – and that’s Mega Man. You could seriously change the characters around just a little bit and bam, you’ve got Mega Man.

I do like how the animation is very good at evoking that early anime style, but with a distinctive modern twist. I guess shows like Astro Boy and Gigantor probably seem like anachronisms today, what with their terrible animation, thin plots and strange translations. The film does have a few common traits in that department too. The secondary characters need a little bit of work to be something other than cardboard cutouts. There’s some backstory that we never really got for some of these characters that could have been added in with very little affect on the pacing of the film.

There’s a lot to like about it… and there’s some stuff not to like about it. It’s a shame that these films tend to fall into the kid movie traps. It starts out fairly seriously, and if you choose to think about what goes into some of the first quarter of the movie, you might think they actually have something to say. Unfortunately, you’ve probably seen that spiel before. Ultimately, it’s a kid’s movie, and it doesn’t try to really push beyond that in any more than superficial ways.

It’s still pretty cool, though. Zog is a badass, I guess that counts for something.

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