Saturday, March 10, 2012

Jean Giraud 1938-2012

I don't have anything insightful or interesting to say about Moebius. I just wanted to mark his passing because, like a lot of people, I thought he was an amazing artist and storyteller.

Total Film's 50 Most Hated Movies

It's been a long time since I lazily commented on a list that someone else has poured their time and effort into shaping, but I like Total Film and their 50 Most Hated Movies list just seemed like the one to comment on because, in these times of idiotic political debates, dangerous saber-rattling and an astonishing number of Republicans just not knowing how birth control works, obviously the most contentious thing should be someone having a different opinion than you about movies.

Here's their list, with my comments.

50. Daredevil
I remember thinking this really sucked, but mostly I've forgotten it. I think it was a case of an aggressively mediocre movie that was more reviled than it needed to be because people were so sick to death of Ben Affleck. My understanding is that a lot of the mediocrity was the fault of a studio that wanted a different tone and more-more-MORE Elektra so they could make a (far shittier) spin-off movie; people tell me the Director's Cut is actually a good movie, but if you still have to sit through Colin Farrell as Bullseye, it doesn't seem worth it.

49. Superman Returns
Yes, I HATE this movie. A lot. Terribly miscast (not Routh, but Kate Bosworth and Kevin Spacey especially), respectful of Richard Donner's movie to the point of piety, yet not so respectful that it doesn't just descend into rip-off. As I said at the time, Bryan Singer's problem seems to be that the 1978 classic didn't have his name on it instead of Donner's. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace is a more sincere film, and that has freaking Jon Cryer in it.

48. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
Because why make a social point when you can just bore the audience, batter it with senseless cruelty and weird hostility, and then add a lot of high gloss and an epic number of scenes of the camera crawling all over Jessica Biel's body? That's not a long form music video pornographically glamorizing violence at all! Yeah, one of my most despised movies ever.

47. Terminator: Salvation
Didn't see it, don't plan to. I didn't realize this was a hated film. I didn't like Terminator 3, but mostly because I find it curiously impossible to remember. I've seen it three times on cable and, in true movie-directed-by-Jonathan-Mostow fashion, have retained absolutely nothing about it.

46. Exorcist II: The Heretic
I find most things John Boorman makes to be silly and unbearable. I never liked the original Exorcist, though. But you know what I do like? Exorcist III.

45. Halloween (2007)
Yeah, people really hate this one. Not me, though. It's one of my favorite horror films of the last 15 years. Shame about the sequel, which was as bad as people keep trying to convince me this one is.

44. Fantastic Four (2005)
I hate this movie, too. It's truly shit. There's a wonderful FF movie to be made, and this just shits all over the concept for laughs. Horrible casting, too. I like the Roger Corman version better, frankly; for all the rushed cheapness, there's occasional charm and at least it gets the characters right and doesn't have fucking Julian McMahon in it. Julian McMahon makes Billy Zane look like Peter Scofield.

43. Resident Evil
Do people hate this one? I saw it way back when it was first on DVD (or maybe cable), and I remember almost zero about it. I remember Milla Jovovich waking up, I remember her pussy, I remember the hologram of the little girl, I remember zombie dogs, and I remember Michelle Rodriguez. I don't remember enough of it to have any opinion on it. By 2002, didn't everyone already know what a hackmaster Paul WS Anderson was? (And yet I still want to see The Three Musketeers... love Milla, hate 98% of her movies.)

42. Jersey Girl (2004)
Look at me, putting the year in there like you were going to confuse it with that movie Jami Gertz made in the 90s... I actually like this movie. It's cliched as all hell, sure, but unlike Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, it was at least coming from an emotionally genuine place. And unlike the soulless Cop Out, he seems to actually know what kind of movie he's making and why. Smith is no stranger to cliches and bits cribbed from 80s movies, anyway. I even think Affleck is pretty good here at a time when he was making a lot of shit and his ego was totally out of control. Some of the stuff about fatherhood--and about, er, sonhood? (because the stuff with George Carlin as the dad/grandpa is very heartfelt for Smith)--is touching. And I think Liv Tyler is great in it. I also think that after making a two-hour in-joke with Kevin Smith telling you how dumb you were for going to see literally anything he would make, it was a nice pause and refresh before moving on to Clerks II, which actually did have something to say.

41. Constantine
Never saw it. I mean, it has Keanu Reeves. Also, I've never been invested in the comic book character.

40. Swept Away (2002)
The movie that proved definitively that Madonna can't act. (Excepting Evita, I think, which is really a long-form music video.) This is truly a bad movie; just not good in any way. Not even bad in that way that's worthy of comment. It's just... there, and it does nothing. People hated it at the time for "ruining" Guy Richie, but that was going to happen, anyway.

39. Epic Movie
Though Total Film at least has the grace to say that it could be any of these Friedberg/Seltzer "parodies." I still don't know why people go see them, but whatever, I don't know why people do a lot of shit. I have seen this one, and it's a hackwork. Lazier referencing-is-writing than any five episodes of Family Guy.

38. Clash of the Titans (2010)
Decent special effects, anyway. I didn't hate this movie, but I was truly annoyed with the way it kept referencing the superior and charming original in a totally derisive way, as if defensively proclaiming "Our movie has balls! Fuck that clockwork owl, we're the Real Deal!" Greek mythology for meathead jocks.

37. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
This movie is too passionless to get worked up about. Wasn't this directed by the same hack who made the Texas Chainsaw remake? This one is just listless, boring and obvious. Jackie Earle Haley could've been a decent Freddy Krueger (he was far less cartoonish here than he was in his "sensitive," Batman villain-esque role in Little Children), but the CGI makeup is so ridiculous and the imagination of the writers so extremely limited that it doesn't really matter. I'm amazed that even just a year and a half later anyone even remembers this snooze.

36. The Matrix Reloaded/The Matrix Revolutions
I don't like any of these movies. I fucking hated The Matrix when it came out for ripping off far superior SF novels and pretending to be deep. Reloaded and Revolutions are those kinds of movies that come out, one on top of the other, when a movie is a success and then the makers pretend it was meant to be a trilogy the whole time, all half-assed and unable to recapture what people liked about the original. Besides, the original movie ended pretty definitively, anyway; the rest of the time Neo's just playing in god mode. Reloaded is just an extended truck chase sequence with albinos and a long infodump at the end just to try to make the audience understand how very deep the movie isn't; the Architect is a terrible plot device (it stops the movie cold), but I thought the people who couldn't understand what he was saying were just sniping. He's actually pretty clear about the whole framework of the plot, it's just that the plot, such as it is, isn't very interesting. And I like Hugo Weaving in Revolutions; at least they went full on stupid in that one with the big fight scene at the end.

35. Godzilla (1998)
An epic disappointment. I remember people freaking applauding the teaser trailers; then all we got was murky special effects and Ferris Bueller. This is one of those movies I sat through (opening night) and just felt my expectations wither and die the whole time, waiting for something fun to happen. The filmmakers were so damn proud of this one, too; they were aggressively defensive, which was totally betrayed by the film itself. We never see Godzilla unless it's raining, or dark, or underwater; we don't get to see clear shots because they have no confidence in the design and rendering of Godzilla. And they broke the cardinal rule: Big G is not the villain. No G-fan wants to sit and watch Godzilla slowly get missiled to death while trapped in the suspension of the Brooklyn Bridge. We want to see Godzilla rampage for the first half, and then be the hero in the second and save everyone from some other monster. Get it right, Hollywood, ffs.

34. Van Helsing
Extremely stupid in an almost self-loathing way. Like every movie Hugh Jackman's ever been in, a total waste of his time. I like Shuler Hensley's performance as Frankenstein's Monster, though; he's sincere and giving a damn good performance in a movie that doesn't deserve it. Van Helsing as an archangel is the stupidest plot twist ever, rendered even more stupid by the studio's demand for total secrecy about it from critics. Richard Roxburgh is one of my most hated actors ever. And it turns out the only way Kate Beckinsale could suck harder was to give her a cartoon Pottsylvanian accent. Another one of those movies where the hype rode me into a terrible experience; but valuable because after this I just disregarded hype all together.

33. The Spirit
Don't care; love it. I will always love it. Cartoony and over-the-top as hell, but I love it. And I especially love Samuel L. Jackson in it; frankly, not having any commentary in the film itself about how the Octopus is black makes this film less racist than most of Will Eisner's run on the comic strip.

32. Crash (2005)
Honestly might be the worst and most intelligence-insulting movie I've ever seen. Characters are 100% cardboard stereotypes who are used to make a point no deeper than "racism is bad, but everywhere, so whattayagonnado?" Might be shocking and eye-opening if you've never seen a black person before.

31. Sucker Punch
What's really unfortunate about Sucker Punch is that the actual movie itself has decent action sequences punctuated by forgettable commentary about... something. I enjoyed it, but you can tell the studio messed with it, and it's not successful at making the point it seems to want to make. People were angrily calling sexism on this one just from the trailers, which seemed bizarre to me, as it's hardly the first sexually exploitative movie of the everything's-a-hundred-million-dollar-B-movie era of filmmaking. Fuck, didn't wrongly-self-proclaimed feminisit Joss Whedon do a whole TV series of this? The sad fact is, this movie isn't remotely worth getting worked up over, positively or negatively. The fact that this movie is polarizing is just plain weird.

30. Alien Resurrection
Walter Hill and Dan Giler have been somehow missing the point of the Alien series for the last 25 years. I didn't like Alien 3 at all, so I wasn't expecting this to be good and I wasn't disappointed. I really don't remember anything about it other than a lot of shots that looked like they were ripped off from Moebius (who I just learned died today; sorry to hear it).

29. Spider-Man 3
I really like parts of this, but it's a mess. Avi Arad forced Venom into it and destroyed some of the narrative consistency (it seems like it was supposed to be a film about redemption). Pushing Gwen Stacy into it is pointless. I'm sorry they didn't let Raimi just use the Vulture in the fourth film like he wanted, and now we have this film with Andrew Garfield coming out which I have literally zero interest in. It's not even that it looks bad to me (though I truly despised the director's (500) Days of Summer), I just don't need it. Already have a couple of great Spidey movies, thanks.

28. Sex and the City 2
Like I would even see this.

27. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Another movie that suffers from "No, really, we meant it to be a trilogy this whole time" syndrome. Aggressively dull finale to an aggressively dull trio of films (I've not seen the latest one), each of them an hour overlong; you could probably get all the pertinent bits of the trilogy into about 150 minutes and have a truly entertaining film, but instead we get more crappy effects, more relentless shoehorning in of every character who appears on screen for more than a minute as if they keep adding anything to the story, and the grotesqueness of suddenly trying to turn Johnny Depp's amusing plot device into a three-dimensional character. Also, Keira Knightley's weirdly prehensile lips just scare the shit out of me.

26. Planet of the Apes (2001)
Like I said when discussing Terry Hayes, it could have been a lot worse. Tim Burton seems strangely detached from the fillm; he's not invested at all, and why should he be? It's meandering shit with decent makeup and a couple of decent performances (Tim Roth, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) that are lost in a mess. Also, the time travel really pissed off a lot of people; I got it, but it didn't make the ending shocking, and it is too confusing coming after such an underwhelming flick. Could've been explained in a line of dialogue or two before we even got to the end, but I don't think Tim Burton really cared about this movie at all. Too mediocre to truly hate.

25. The Avengers
I just always remember a critic (I can't remember who, unfortunately) saying that "While Patrick Macnee gave us a John Steed who seemed to always be smiling, Ralph Fiennes gives us a Steed who always seems to be frowning." For the record, I think Fiennes may have worked as Steed if he had been given someone, anyone to play off of rather than Uma Thurman, who is just too limited an actress for camp. Bizarrely, the second big-budget movie she made in the late nineties to have a bad pun on "Now is the winter of our discontent"... A real piece of shit; unforgivably boring and totally unable to find a sliver of charm. Somehow, the director of Benny and Joon just didn't get it, he said sarcastically. I remember checking my watch a LOT during this movie.

24. Pearl Harbor
Still haven't seen this and don't ever plan to.

23. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Look, there was no way they were ever going to make anything but this kind of movie. They were never going to try and make it the same way Alan Moore did the comic; they were only ever going to make a silly action movie. So I can forgive the total lack of integrity, because this is how Hollywood works. What bothers me is that they couldn't even be arsed to make a good movie. It's just completely unenjoyable in every single aspect, yet throws its balls all over the place convinced that it's the best thing since the clock radio. I dug Naseeruddin Shah, though.

22. Battlefield Earth
If John Travolta wants to make himself look as ridiculous as he is, who am I to say he shouldn't? Not bad enough to hate; just very poor and beneath notice. I agree with the person they quote on the Total Film page: "It is relentlessly shoddy and I almost wish the 'worst film ever' hype would drop off just so that this film could slowly fade from our memory and be lost in time."

21. The Wicker Man (2006)
As needless a remake as there ever was. Not truly hateworthy--I can watch my beloved original any time I want--but hilariously stupid.

20. X-Men: The Last Stand
Total Film says "Ratner's fondness for an unpretentious summer tentpole movie didn't endear him to fanboys aggrieved he'd cheapened Singer's careful character building." I've heard a lot about "Singer's careful character building" over the years, and I have to be honest, I never know what anyone's talking about when they say that. I think Bryan Singer's as overrated as they come, and none of these movies are really that good. They have good bits and some good performances, but they don't add up to anything cohesive or have anything interesting to say. Singer weirdly acts like he invented the characters, of which there are far too many to tell an interesting or satisfying story. I at least liked that Ratner was willing to just totally kill off characters and go for it, even though he is just as guilty as Bryan Singer of shoehorning in too many characters to have a decent narrative for the sake of fan service. The Dark Phoenix crap in this one is as muted and unsuccessful as it is totally unnecessary. Still, I'll take "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch!" over "Do you know what happens to a toad when it's struck by lightning?" any day of the week.

19. Aliens vs Predator
Disappointing, even for how little I was expecting out of it. It seems easy to make this work (jeez, just read the classic Dark Horse Comics miniseries that did it first and adapt it), but never underestimate Paul WS Anderson's dogged determination to make the stupidest flick possible. Not really bad in a memorable way, though, at least for me.

18. Highlander 2: The Quickening
What I don't understand is why they even bothered, renegade version or no. Highlander is, to me, on a short list of movies that are absolutely perfect. Even with its shortcomings (some of the actors leap to mind), it's a movie that has such a sure sense of itself and its characters and does nothing superfluous. You could teach a class in low budget pop filmmaking just using Highlander as an example. So why go on with two sequels, a TV series, another freaking movie, and now possibly a remake? Did it really bring in so much money that it needed to be franchised into oblivion?

17. Love Actually
Is this really hated? I love this movie.

16. Hulk
Fanboys like a certain level of pretension; this one was too pretentious, too lost in theory, and didn't have enough action for comic book fans. I actually kind of like it, but more as an interesting failure and an attempt to sort of deconstruct the male power fantasies of comics (something most comic fans I meet seem unnaturally terrified by). I dig the Hulk effects. And at least it tried to say something, even if it wasn't successful or, being honest, entertaining. It did give me a pause to examine my own anger issues, which helped me and my health an awful lot. Eric Bana's been on autopilot ever since.

15. Catwoman
Is this hated? I didn't bother to see it. Why did anyone?

14. Avatar
Again, the quote on Total Film says it all: "Here is a story with an alleged anti-corporatist message, underwritten by a huge corporation to the tune of $250 million plus. It preaches closeness with (outer-space) nature, but must have produced CO2 emissions at the rate of a dozen oil refineries. It alleges respect for women, who are shown to be uniformly, pornographically subservient to the alpha males. Its message is anti-violence, but it's also stuffed to the gills with the glorious super-lethal war machines from which toys and video games can and will be fashioned." All that, and it's just fucking dumb and ugly (and cobbled from cliches). James Cameron at his actual worst. Makes Titanic look like Casablanca. Easy to ignore its stupidity until they actually nominate it for Best Picture. You mean we're supposed to take this shit seriously?

13. Lady in the Water
Ridiculous on every level, from the twee storybook tone of the trailers to the self-importance and self-worship of M. Night Shyamalan's role as a writer whose stories will save the world. Dude, did you really think that was going to make the critics shut up?

12. The Happening
Haven't seen it, though I do stand by what I said at the time: something happening would be a nice change for a Shyamalan movie.

11. The Last Airbender
I haven't seen the cartoon, and I was done with M. Night after The Village (and frankly, I only like Signs; I thought The Sixth Sense was achingly predictable from the trailers alone and excessively dull).

10. Die Another Day
Yes, I HATED this movie. But at least it killed the Bond franchise so we could start over again with, frankly, much better movies. You know what's funny? As much as I hate her, I always forget Halle Berry is even in this. I was more annoyed with the glacier para-surfing and the invisible car and that fucking Madonna song...

9. House of the Dead
I know I saw this, but I don't remember thing one about it. Back then we didn't know Uwe Boll was King of the Hacks.

8. Titanic (1997)
Well, I've always liked it. Flawed, but not as incompetent as I've seen suggested.

7. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
You know, I have seen this one and I totally forgot about it. Yeah, this is a truly shit movie.

6. Batman and Robin
Ugh, quit whining about nipples on the bat suit. This has so many more problems than nipples on the bat suit. It would be totally forgettable, even with the high profile it had, if it weren't for the massive hiccup early on for George Clooney; for everyone who ever said Adam West was bad, look at Clooney in this movie and see what it's like when the actor's not in on the joke. Schwarzenegger is worse than ever, and totally embarrassing. Uma Thurman, missing camp, doing a feature length Marlene Dietrich impression that is surprisingly annoying. The funny part is, for all of the bluster and fanboy outrage over it, it's left no lasting impression on the Batman series of films or comic books or anything. Fanboys love to complain about it and be righteously insulted by it, but it's just so damn easy to ignore. Also, back in 1997, I said that no one would ever remember Elle Macpherson being in it. So do you?

5. Psycho (1998)
Timed, shot for shot remake of a masterpiece, only in color, with different actors, and a masturbation scene (which, given this movie's worshipful regard for Hitchcock's flick, is appropriate). What even is the point of this?

4. Twilight
I don't hate this, really. It's just... dumb. And dull. And pointless. But not anything to hate, in my opinion. New Moon, despite being far dumber, at least approaches the story as the self-important fantasy it is, but Eclipse is the truly stupid one, with its Lord of the Rings style battle scene and it's dogged refusal to just admit to itself how homoerotic it really is; a real closet case of a movie, with the screen's least convincing heterosexual at its center and everyone fighting over her because... why? Of course, I haven't seen Breaking Dawn, so there's every reason to expect it gets even dumber.

3. Forrest Gump
I totally get that. A celebration of ignorance and the triumph of right wing values in which the counterculture is punished with AIDS for not toeing the line during the whole Vietnam thing (but don't worry, the squares will totally raise your love child for you), wrapped up in a cutesy package with faux-homilies. Good special effects, at least. Terrific soundtrack. Totally about nothing.

2. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
For me, the amount of hatred this flick generates has long passed exasperating or even amusing and descended completely into sad self-parody. The least objectively-reviewed movie of all time. I somehow live in a world where it's okay to spend 13 years whining about your disappointment in a kids' fantasy movie and shit all over other people who don't hate it as if you still had anything insightful to say about it. Flawed, sure, but all the Star Wars movies are. I can't read people bitching about this one movie anymore without just crossing my eyes and substituting "I'm so upset to find out that the kiddie movies I devoted far too much of my life to are really kiddie movies after all." George Lucas did nothing to your childhood; you obsessively clung to it for far too long and now you're sad that people think you're ridiculous for doing it.

1. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
To be honest, I enjoyed it, massive flaws and all. I felt the same way about Last Crusade, which I also found silly and deeply flawed but ultimately enjoyable (that movie really skates by on the charm of Sean Connery in one of the rare instances that lauded charm makes an appearance). Predictably, the angry fantards blamed George Lucas for all of Steven Spielberg's massive shortcomings as a shit filmmaker. I don't think I've ever read an actual objective review of this one, either, as mainly it's whining about such bizarre fantasies as "childhood rape," a term that gets thrown around a lot, though may be appropriate here, what with Spielberg's weird preoccupation with boys. (I know, I know, and Jerry Sandusky loves them for their energy and spirit or whatever.) It's just a silly $100 million B movie, not something, you know, important. But it's still hilarious watching people get worked up over it as if it matters. But not for much longer.


Not really doing this anymore, but I couldn't resist this one.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

I Still Love My Jessica

The Legend of Zelda: The Oracle

You may have caught this already, but I think Joel Furtado's excellent fanmade trailer for a Zelda game is compelling evidence for why this needs to be made. Personally, I'd just like to see it on the Wii. I loved the animation style of The Wind Waker and would love to see that again.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Brief Note: It's Doing It Again

My Google Reader is running slow, so I'm transferring some more of the feeds to another reader. So if you see me unfollow your blog on Blogger, it's not because I hate you, it's just that I'm reading it in a non-Google reader. Sorry about that.

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

Sarah Paxton simpers her way through this Lifetime movie as Susan Wright, a woman who tied her husband to their bed and stabbed him 193 times. I think the movie tries to argue that she wasn't given a fair trial, something it hammers home to the point of numbness. I'm not incredibly familiar with the actual case, so I only have the film to go by, which shows us a young mother and wife who marries someone who gets high on cocaine and beats the shit out of her repeatedly, threatens to kill her anytime she tries to leave, and who then ties him down and kills him when she's finally figured out that he's never going to let her escape. According to the movie, she keeps stabbing him, and then pretends he's just left her, because she's finally reached her breaking point and is beyond all rational thought. She's convicted of first degree murder on, from what I can tell, hearsay evidence and the fact that she's so young and pretty. And that was my real annoyance with this movie. Now, granted, I don't watch Lifetime movies for something factual or something honest or something moving (though it does happen on very rare occasions), I watch Lifetime movies in the hope of entertaining, stress-relieving trash. But in this flick, they cast Lisa Edelstein as perhaps the world's most irritating lawyer stereotype, who seems to take the murder of someone she's never met very personally, and then goes off on a nonstop vendetta to play on the jury's sympathies, presumably because Susan Wright is young and pretty. Edelstein's character says it constantly, that because Susan is young and pretty she thinks she can get away with everything, even murder, and it's her job not to let that happen. And she's not the only one, either. Several people say this throughout the movie. It's just hard not to feel like everyone's ganging up on her because she's young and pretty and therefore, somehow, must be guilty of first degree murder. And this despite the amount of people who know about the abuse, and despite the cocaine in his system lending credence to her story of his drug abuse, and despite people who actually overheard him say he was going to kill her. It's like they take someone who snapped psychologically and just railroad her into prison because they can't fucking stand that she's so young and pretty, and we must stop this young and pretty girl from getting something, guilty or no. And while I'm sure that's the point of this movie, it is frustrating as hell to watch. Seriously, the judge lets Lisa Edelstein throw the murder pictures all over the place and bring in a bed and straddle her assistant to recreate her theory of the murder in the most sensational manner possible, but the judge tells Susan not to cry in front of the jury because it will sway their sympathies? What? Fucking hell. *

80s Revisited: Dead Calm

Dead Calm (1989)
Directed by Phillip Noyce; screenplay by Terry Hayes; produced by George Miller, Terry Hayes & Doug Mitchell

I caught this one last week on cable. Hadn't seen it in years and was in the mood for some trash after the tedium of sitting through all of those boring Oscar nominees, so I thought I'd check it out. I remember when this one used to be all over HBO or something about 20 years ago. It always had this illicit reputation and they always showed it late at night.

Seeing it again at age 35, I realize the illicit reputation is probably something I made up in my head because I was 15 and it was on late at night and it has some nudity in it. I've heard stories, too, about how Nicole Kidman's nude scenes--and this is the only time I'd ever consider her sexuality raw and exciting, especially after years of seeing her carry her head full of Botox around--were so popular with Hollywood execs that they're basically what transplanted her from Australia to Hollywood and the extremely awful Days of Thunder and the even more awful Tom Cruise.

As for the film itself, it tries to be a psychological thriller, but it's mostly just dull. Sam Neill and Nicole Kidman play a married couple who have recently lost their child in an accident; to get away from their grief, they set out on a boat trip, only to pick up a distress signal and find Billy Zane (uch, can you imagine?) on a sinking boat where everyone else has died. The next thing you know, he's trapped Neill on the ship and is sailing away with Kidman and trying to boff her and even palling around with Neill's dog (which is just a step too far, man... where's your loyalty, man's best friend, you little fuck?). And boredom ensues, although the ending is satisfying (and predictable).

I used to like Phillip Noyce; I haven't seen anything he's made in years, but I liked some of the movies of his I'm supposed to hate or something. Here, he doesn't quite make the confines of the two boats work to create tension for this thriller. But the bigger disappointment, at least for me, is that we have screenwriter Terry Hayes and producer George Miller, the guys who made The Road Warrior, unable to do anything exciting with this potentially bizarre plot. No matter how much Billy Zane sweats and screams and crazy-laughs, it's just a slow, dull flick with a great nude scene.

(That said, I'm not exactly fond of Hayes or Miller at this point, either. Some time I'll have to go through Terry Hayes' unused script for the Planet of the Apes remake... it's so very much worse than what Tim Burton did to it. And Miller made Happy Feet, which I despise.)

So there you go... It's there. And it's certainly a movie. And they all called it a day's work.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Robert B. Sherman 1925-2012

The Sherman Brothers helped Walt Disney Pictures stave off their creative nadir. That's my opinion, anyway. Things did get bleak, but even during the years when things were getting bad, the Sherman Brothers were either helping shape classics like Mary Poppins or writing great songs for less great movies. The nadir did come, of course, but the Sherman Brothers were among the genuine highlights of the troubled late 60s and (very) early 70s period. And they also wrote the songs and score for Snoopy Come Home, which is my favorite Charlie Brown feature.

What I'm saying is, Robert B. Sherman, together with his brother Richard M. Sherman, have brought me a lot of happiness in my life, and it's happiness that continues to resonate with me. I also recommend the recent documentary The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story for a real look at their lives and careers.

Sad to see another great music maker leave us.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Fuck You, Jim Lee

Seriously. Fuck you.

I know your term at DC has been characterized by a mad, scrambling need to suck all of the humor and joy out of the DC Universe. But seriously? An emo Captain Marvel? A dark, edgy Captain Marvel? Overdesigned, which is the Jim Lee MO (come on, he's got three buckles on his boot, look how much characterization he must have!). A hood, like he's in a fucking Assassin's Creed cosplay. What a piece of shit. I'd rather they'd just left Billy Batson out of the DCnU entirely than have an emo Captain Marvel, snarling in rage and overdrawn in that way that all artists insecure about their talent always overdraw.

Image Comics sucked back then, and transferring it all to DC Comics 20 years later has done nothing for it.

Kristen Bell Mondays

Really enjoying House of Lies...

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Song of the Week: "A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You"

Because it had to be a Monkees song this week. Neil Diamond wrote this song, a 1967 non-album single released between their second and third albums, More of the Monkees (which the boys hated) and Headquarters (which they contributed much more to). This single was something of a point of contention between the Monkees and Don Kirshner, head of the Brill Building writers who wrote for the show, and also the music supervisor for the TV series. It led to Kirshner's firing for putting out an unauthorized record in Canada, though the Monkees put the record out in the US since the title had been announced. I always dug this song. It was one of three Davy vocal leads on the first cassette I purchased, Then & Now... The Best of the Monkees. I figured since everyone was putting up "Daydream Believer," I'd post this instead. RIP, Davy.

Ralph McQuarrie 1929-2012

Ralph McQuarrie was one hell of an artist. I have a few of his books of Star Wars production and concept art.  I love to look at them; in many ways, his art defines a time and place in my life and my love for fantasy and science fiction. He is the start of my love of conceptual art, something I still love very much today. He also provided art for Raiders of the Lost Ark, Close Encounters, E.T., Star Trek IV, even Cocoon which had neat-looking aliens... all movies that were markers in my pop culture childhood.

Thanks for all of the great work. I'm glad I had it to enjoy as a child, and I'm glad to have it to enjoy for the rest of my life.

Sheldon Moldoff 1920-2012

Golden and Silver Age DC artist Sheldon Moldoff passed away on Leap Day. I've always loved his art for the Golden Age Hawkman stories and for the All-American Comics covers. He was also one of Bob Kane's better ghost artists, and helped contribute to the Silver Age silliness I'll always love by co-creating the original Bat-Girl, Bat-Mite, and Ace the Bat-Hound. A fun artist in goofier times.