November 9, 2012

I'm going to talk about Kenya

Just kidding, I'm going to talk about Star Wars. Last week, I was asked to pitch a story about Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm. It ended up getting turned down, so here is what the article would have been:

Last week, George Lucas did something that most people thought would never happen. He sold Lucasfilm to Disney, and with it, all rights to the Star Wars franchise. Fan reaction has been mixed, but as someone who has hated almost everything Star Wars related that has come out since 1999, I can only think of this as a good thing.

Before we get to Disney's promise of an Episode VII in 2015, let's talk about what Disney is best at: merchandising. In recent years, Star Wars merchandising has gotten a little ridiculous, coming to a peak most recently with Star Wars Angry Birds. In the 70's and 80's, film merchandising was a new art form that Lucas basically invented himself. Action figures, novels, comic books, video games; before Lucas, these kinds of things were not usually made for movies. When he made Star Wars, he retained the merchandising rights, and made his fortune off of them. It's not a stretch to say that the enduring popularity of the movies was because of synergy between the movies and the stuff you could buy during the three year stretches in between them. Due to the newness of the industry, there were a lot of odd, off-model type things that we'd only see today in the form of cheap, unlicensed foreign knock-offs. My friend got a Yoda's Christmas Diary one year. I tried to tell her that Yoda wouldn't celebrate Christmas, not only because Yoda was in a different religion, but that he predated the birth of Christ by a long, long time, but she didn't care. There were some silly cash grabs like C-3PO's breakfast cereal, but for the most part, the merchandise made you like the movies more and the movies made you want to buy more merchandise. But some time in the 2000's, Star Wars licensing changed. If I had to pinpoint a specific product, I'd point to Super Bombad Racing, a Mario Kart clone with Star Wars' most iconic characters with big bobble heads driving around go-karts. From the licensed satires by Family Guy and Robot Chicken, to the complete non-sequitur of Star Wars Angry Birds, Star Wars merchandising became jokes riffing on Star Wars, instead of cool things to inspire the imagination and extend the world. Darth Vader became a shill for Target and is now less an iconic movie villain and more an easy butt of "I'm making a reference so it's funny" humor.

Disney has built its empire off marketing its mascot, Mickey Mouse for almost a century. Despite the fact that he's barely been in any cartoons since the 1960's, he remains one of the world's most recognizable icons. And they even take risks with him every once in a while, like with recent video games, Kingdom Hearts and Epic Mickey. They've been relatively good stewards of the Muppets and Pixar, so I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt.

The real question though is, what will Episode VII be about? Lucas has gone back and forth over the years whether he had plans for a third Star Wars trilogy, but with this new business deal, he's back to his story of having outlines for them, and he's sticking to it. What little we know of the sequel trilogy seems to have been made obsolete by Return of the Jedi, as the few details told to us by producer Gary Kurtz involved Luke confronting the Emperor and meeting his sister, who is not Princess Leia. Some have hoped for film adaptations of Timothy Zahn's Thrawn series, the well regarded trilogy of books that take place after Return of the Jedi, involving Luke, Han, and Leia defeating the last remnants of the Empire. Disney has said that the new movies will be brand new not be adaptations of anything and the actors are about thirty years too old anyway. So assuming that Episode VII takes place after Jedi and won't directly involve the main characters of the original trilogy, who could it be about? Luke had a son, and Leia and Han had three kids in the books. But does anyone at Lucasfilm care? While Lucas has used certain elements from the expanded universe, like the name of Coruscant taken from the Thrawn series, he's also never been afraid to totally contradict it, like rewriting Boba Fett's original origin story or wiping the 80's Droids cartoon from canon entirely.

I think that someone else taking the reins will new life into Star Wars. Empire Strikes Back, widely regarded as the best of the series, had the least involvement from Lucas. My main hope for the new movies is that they try to get back to the swashbuckling fun of the original Star Wars. That story of a young man from the middle of nowhere going on an adventure, meeting colorful characters, and saving the galaxy appeals to me much more than a bunch of guys in a cult waging a pointless war. More blasters, less lightsabers. Less moping, more swinging on things. Less meetings on couches, more adventure.

There's only one prediction that I can make that I have any faith in at all. It's that these new movies will feature R2-D2 and C-3PO. Lucas has said that the series was to be told through the eyes of the droids, although that became less important to him in the prequels, as they're not around for a good chunk of the action, and the main characters mostly act like they don't exist. The appearance of these two beloved characters will help link the new movies with the old. That and R2 works cheap.

PS: I can understand why this story was rejected, as I spend most of it talking about merchandising and have no real insight into what's actually going to happen next. Since I wrote this, Harrison Ford has expressed a vague interest in reprising Han Solo, and maybe Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher have said something too, I'm not going to check. They've also revealed who's writing it, and he's some Pixar guy, so things are looking up.

Posted by Will at 9:18 AM | Comments ()

October 13, 2012

If you like Looper, you lack critical thinking skills.

I know I promised more about Africa, but whatever, I'm talking about Looper now.

Here are some questions about Looper.

1) Why do criminals send people they want killed to the past? Joseph Gordon-Levitt says it's hard to dispose of bodies of the future. Harder than operating a time machine? Do they not have forests in the future? Or tubs of acid? Why don't they send them to outer space? Why don't they send them a hundred years in the future where they can't go back and kill you when you're a kid?
2) This is the best use of time travel that future criminals have come up with? Have they not seen Timecop?
3) Why don't they kill people before sending them back? Or at least sedate them?
4) Why would you ask someone to kill their future self? If a looper knew that was coming eventually, wouldn't they be a little hesitant to kill whoever is under the sheet? Wouldn't it be easier to get a different looper to do it? Isn't it very probable that someone would let their future self go?
5) Why do they kill future loopers? Bruce Willis has been living peacefully for say, thirty years, without causing any trouble, without ratting anyone out, spending his pile of gold. Wouldn't it make sense to leave him alone? Wouldn't giving him a big pile of gold give him the ability to hide from whoever wanted to kill him?

I do not like that movie.

Posted by Will at 5:52 AM | Comments ()

March 13, 2012

The Palpatine Letters: Part Three

This is the third part of The Palpatine Letters, a three part series where I write letters from Star Wars' Senator/Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine to his cohorts detailing his plans for conquest. See Part One here and Part Two here.

Dear Tarkin,

How's the Death Star coming? Last I heard, you were pretty far along, I hope it doesn't take us another twenty years to get the thing working. Anyway, I think we're getting ready to finish this war up (finally, right?), and I wanted to bounce some ideas off you. I know I'm currently the most powerful guy in the galaxy, but I'd really like a little more power and a cooler title. Here's how it's gonna work.

I'm going to let the separatists kidnap me right off Coruscant. I know, it's dangerous, but hear me out. They're going to send some Jedis to save me, and one of them is going to kill Count Dooku for me. And just trust me, everyone is going to do exactly what I hope they're going to do, so don't worry. Killing Count Dooku is an awesome idea for three reasons. One, screw that guy, I never liked him anyway. I know the Sith made this rule how there can only be two of us so that we won't be constantly betraying each other, but whatever. Two, I think it'll bring Anakin Skywalker closer to the dark side. Hopefully they'll send him to save me, and he'll kill Dooku just cause I ask him to. And I really, really want him on the dark side. More on that later. Finally, three, we've got to wrap this war up, and even though Dooku's the leader of the separatists and could end the war whenever I told him to, I'd rather have Obi-Wan go on this mission to kill a guy with like six arms to end the war. It's a pretty cool gimmick. Even better than Darth Maul's double lightsaber thing, I think.

So that's when I'm going to execute Order 66, where all the clones kill all the Jedis. I guess this would have worked just as well as if I made a robot army. Better, probably. But I wanted this to be called The Clone Wars, so that's what I did.

So a lot of what I've been scheming about all these years is to get Anakin to turn to the dark side. I just really want to do it. I noticed he had this weird thing going on with his mother, even though he left her to rot at a moment's notice and didn't talk to her for the next ten years. So I set him up with Senator Amidala, so that she could get pregnant, possibly die in pregnancy, and I could tell Anakin that he could save her if he turned to the dark side. Wasn't sure if they'd hit it off, cause Anakin's kind of a whiny little dickhead, but lucky me, they did, woo!

Anyway, getting him to turn to the dark side is important because I need him to do two things. One, kill baby Jedis. Two, go kill Nute Gunray and all those Trade Federation guys. They're pretty much powerless now and can't do anything to me, but that's the plan. Yes, I know I have an entire army that I preprogrammed to follow any order I gave them to the letter, but I just really want Annie to be on the dark side, and that'll be his final step. I've got a cool name picked out and an even cooler outfit for him to wear.

I'm not sure if he'll keep doing what I want him to do after Amidala's dead, because the only reason he turned to the dark side was to save her, but hopefully he'll spend the next twenty years performing administrative tasks and hanging out with you on the Death Star.

Looking forward to this whole war thing being done with,
Emperor Palpatine

PS: If my plans seem convoluted and improbable, keep in mind that I have the force and can see into the future and make people do whatever I want, so suck it.

Posted by Will at 11:11 AM | Comments ()

March 12, 2012

The Palpatine Letters: Part Two

This is the second part of The Palpatine Letters, a three part series where I write letters from Star Wars' Senator/Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine to his cohorts detailing his plans for conquest. See Part One here.

Dear Jango Fett,

How's my clone army doing? I hope you are well and enjoying your stay on that water planet, I forget what it's called. Probably because I erased it from the library here, but more on that later.

Anyway, I've got an important job for you. I need you to kill Senator Amidala. I know what you're going to say, you're a bounty hunter, not an assassin, but hear me out. (And by the way, I don't know why everybody calls you a bounty hunter, all I've ever seen you do is sit around getting cloned and hang out with your annoying, doughy little kid.) I just want you to hire somebody to do the assassination for you. Preferably a shape shifter.

Right now, Amidala is being watched by these two really tough Jedis, so the assassin'll probably fail and the Jedis are going to chase after her. Now at some point, when she's trying to get away, she's going to want to use her shape shifting powers. TELL HER NOT TO DO THIS. Even if it would make it really easy to escape in a crowded bar, tell her to stay looking exactly the same as when the Jedis saw her before.

Now, here's where you come in. Before she can tell them who sent her, I want you to shoot her with this special poison dart that they only make on your water planet. It's pretty impractical to make poison darts in this day and age when we have lasers and robots with lasers, but I guess that's why they're the only ones who make it.

So then, and this is the great part, the Jedis are going to try and figure out where this dart came from, but they can't, because I erased the planet from the library! But just so it's not too hard for them, there are a bunch of janitors and dishwashers who know about the place, so the Jedis will be able to ask them if they get too stuck.

So they'll send a guy to your planet to check it out, and be nice to him at first, then leave, let him follow you, and then shoot at him. Don't hit him though, try using those bombs you have that inexplicably have a delayed explosion noise. Then, when you meet up with Count Dooku (he's the guy who convinced half the galaxy to secede from the Republic for no discernible reason), capture the guy, and all the Jedis will bring the whole clone army they just found out about to save him, and basically start a civil war. I know the Jedis talk about being peace loving, but I think they should have no problem fighting a violent war about politics that they don't really care about. It's just robots and clones, right? I'm also pretty sure that they'll never try and figure out who paid somebody like a bajillion credits to make a clone army on a secret hidden planet.

Oh, and I'm going to get Dooku (he's in on this too) to tell one of the Jedis that there's a powerful Sith pulling the strings in the Republic. I don't think they're going to do anything with the information, I just think it'll be fun to mess with them.

So just to review, I want you to try to kill Amidala, but don't actually do it, cause she's really important in my plan to bring this really cool guy I know to the dark side, then make a really circuitous mystery for the Jedis to find the clone army that I want them to find, and then start a war, and then I think we'll be good.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts,
Chancellor Palpatine

PS: Remember when I did that thing with Amidala where I made her say what everybody already wanted to do anyway? Well, I'm going to do it again to officially start the war. But with Jar Jar! Can you believe it? Jar Jar! Screw you, universe!

See Part Three here.

Posted by Will at 10:04 PM | Comments ()

March 10, 2012

The Palpatine Letters: Part One

As you may know, I hate the Star Wars prequels. So here is the first part of a three part series, The Palpatine Letters, where Senator/Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine writes to his cohorts detailing his plans for conquest. Probably a decade too late for anyone to care, but here it is anyway:

Dear Count Dooku,

Hi, you probably don't know me. I'm the senator from Naboo. It's a little out of the way, but we like it. Anyway, I've got this great plan to take over the whole universe, and I wanted to see if you were interested.

First, I'm going to get these guys called the Trade Federation to make a blockade around Naboo about some trade disputes. Don't worry about that stuff, it's super boring. They're going to invade and try to force Amidala, the Queen, to sign a treaty. (She's an elected Queen too, they elected a fourteen year old girl to rule the entire planet. Weird, right?)

I'm not really sure if I want her to sign the treaty or not, so I'm just going to let it play out and see what happens. My real hope is that some Jedis try and save her and end up finding this little slave kid called Anakin Skywalker on Tatooine. I know, that sounds crazy, but my master, Darth Plagueis actually created him out of midichlorians and he's going to be come the most powerful Sith ever. Did I just write that? Sorry, I just meant to imply it. Did I mention I was a Sith? I am. You should check it out.

So we finally get Amidala back to the Senate, and she's so mad that the Senate won't do anything about her situation, she calls for a vote of no confidence in the Chancellor. So this will probably get put to a majority vote, so if we win, it's clear that most of the Senate already wanted the Chancellor out, so you might wonder why I'm staging this huge invasion just get a teenage girl to say what everybody already wants to happen, but get this: I'm gonna get a sympathy vote. People are going to feel so bad that my planet got invaded, that they're going to vote me in as the new Chancellor. I mean, hopefully. Maybe Bail Antilles'll get it, maybe that guy from Malastare, but I'm pretty sure people are gonna vote with their hearts on this one.

On the off chance that Amidala somehow fights back the invasion and defeats the droid army, I think we'll still be good. Everybody likes a winner, right? So what do you think? I'll get into what I need you from later, but I just wanted to see if you'd be interested in joining me in this endeavor.

Thanks for your time,
Senator Palpatine

PS: Just so we can get this out of the way now, if you ever capture any Jedis, I'd prefer that you tie them up and make them fight monsters like some kind of retarded Bond villain instead of actually killing them. Thanks.

See Part Two here and Part Three here.

Posted by Will at 11:29 PM | Comments ()

May 15, 2011

I wrote another article for slate

Here it is:

The five stages of Star Wars fandom grief

I just now came up with a better title: How I learned to stop worrying and not care about Star Wars.

Posted by Will at 11:04 PM | Comments ()

March 31, 2011

I guessed the surprise ending of Sucker Punch and it's stupid.

Here is the trailer for Sucker Punch:

Can you guess what the mysterious fifth thing is? I'll give you a moment.

You ready? It's herself. The fifth item in that list of things that sounds like a bunch of stupid, random things you have to find in a video game to get to the next level is actually herself. That was the first thing I guessed when I first saw the trailer and I was right. That movie is bad.

Posted by Will at 11:51 AM | Comments ()

March 15, 2011

Hop is more than likely a very bad movie and I shouldn't care about its poster.

And yet, I do. Today on the subway, I saw this poster:

Well, to be honest, it was slightly different, but the thing I cared about was the tagline:


Here are my thoughts on that tagline:

1) The order is wrong. It's clearly a reference to the song Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll and its appropriation by pop culture to mean cool things done by rock musicians. They just changed the first two things. But if you were going to properly match up the two changed things, I think that candy would match up with drugs, and chicks would match up with sex. That would make it CHICKS, CANDY, AND ROCK 'N' ROLL.
1a) Their tagline is in trochees. Mine is not. I realize that. It's entirely possible they chose theirs for its poetic meter and not to avoid some controversy equating sex with chicks or some other completely arbitrary reason. We'll never know.

2) What's with the all caps? The makers of the poster had already demonstrated their ability to turn off caps lock when talking about who the creators are.

3) I would have liked a comma after CHICKS. I know either is acceptable. It's just my personal preference.

4) Why is one and "AND" and the other and "'N'"?

This movie looks bad. Poke your eyes out with your soda straw bad. I don't know what happens in it. Frankly, I don't want to know. But it looks bad. You know what, I'm going to watch the trailer. Hold on. Feel free to watch it yourself:

Okay, I watched the trailer. It confirmed my suspicions that Hop is, in fact, a bad movie. Here are my thoughts on the trailer:

1) The cast
1a) What's with Russell Brand? Is he only allowed to play rock-related British people?
1b) I'm not mad at James Marsden, but I only know who he is because he was Cyclops in the X-Men movies, and the only reason they cast him as Cyclops in those movies is because he's a kind of unappealing actor, and they wanted to make Wolverine look cooler.

2) E.B. (I had assumed the character's name was Hop, but apparently I was wrong) doesn't know what a car is, but he knows what insurance companies are and the fact that one would leave them out of an incident involving cars.

3) Where did he get a carrot that size? Bugs Bunny, for whatever reason, was a human sized bunny. E.B. is not, and baby carrots don't look like that.

4) You can't play Rock Band drums on more than easy without being able to reach the bass pedal.

5) What are those chicks even doing? I guess that was the best scene with the chicks they could find, and they had to put them in so they could say the tagline.

6) That lady from Big Bang Theory is borderline psychotic the way she freaks out when she sees a stuffed animal on a couch and proceeds to hug and caress it and talk about how fun it is hugging and caressing it.

In closing, let me say that I will never see Hop. Okay, I probably will. I just watched Big Momma's House 3, I'll see anything. But Big Mommas a better tagline:

Momma's got back-up.

I have no qualms with that. All right, fine, I do. I wouldn't have used the hyphen.

Posted by Will at 9:47 PM | Comments (3)

December 19, 2010

Fuck you, Andy Carvin. You are a fucking idiot. Tron sucks. Admit it.

Andy Carvin is Senior Strategist at NPR. He wrote this article:

What The Critics Don't Get About Tron

Don't bother clicking that link, I'm going to break down how stupid Andy's article is, paragraph by paragraph.

If you put a bunch of film critics in a room and ask what they think of the movie Tron: Legacy, you're likely to get a dismissive shrug. The film is already drawing mixed reviews. Just don't tell that to the tens of thousands of fans on Twitter eager to attend Friday's premiere.

Critics have seen the movie. The knuckleheads on twitter haven't.

Andy goes on to talk about the original Tron:

We obsessed over the video game version - so much so I remember a coder friend of mine spent an entire day with me and my nine-year-old brother programming a rudimentary version of the "light cycle" game from the movie on an IBM PC.

So what you're saying is, you, your brother, and some other kid spent a day messing around with a computer.

Other friends took a crack at making a Dungeons and Dragons-like roleplaying game out of Tron. (No need to mention I was a nerd; I've come to terms with that.) We spent weeks trying to come up with the rules for the game, albeit not very successfully.

All right, for one thing, I'm sick of people coming out as nerds. I saw Jennifer Love Hewitt come out on Letterman or something as a nerd. There's no shame in being a nerd anymore, people are proud of it. People who aren't nerds say they're nerds. It means nothing. I'll tell you what else. My friends and I worked on a roleplaying game for Gummi Bears. Yeah, that's right, the Disney Afternoon cartoon. Does that mean that Gummi Bears is underrated? No, it means we were teenagers with a lot of time on our hands, and they had already made roleplaying games for everything else we thought was cool.

We knew it wasn't a perfect film, but we loved its technological wizardry nonetheless. In that respect, Tron was the Avatar of its time.

I won't argue with you that Tron was a technological innovation. It was the first feature film to use computer generated imagery. I'll tell you what else was a technological innovation. The Jazz Singer, the first feature film to use sound. If you don't know why that's an unflattering comparison, do a google image search for "jazz singer." It's a bit extreme to compare Tron to The Jazz Singer, but my point is, technological innovation does not a good movie make.

Now it's easy to dismiss the original Tron because of its meager box office draw when it came out in 1982.

He goes on to talk about how it was a box office disappointment. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that it was savaged by critics as well.

But that doesn't mean it didn't leave a lasting legacy, as it were.

Yeah, they just made a movie out of Marmaduke. Marmaduke. Literally no one likes Marmaduke. I defy you to find me someone who likes Marmaduke. But Hollywood is so desperate for ideas right now, they'll salvage any old idea that the public has a vague recollection of, and Tron seemed like a reasonable candidate. That's why we have a Yogi Bear movie too.

He talks about Tron's wikipedia entry:

Tron, meanwhile, is 3,600 words long and has received over 1,700 edits... So despite the fact that critics are dismissive of Tron, its fans have lovingly documented it on Wikipedia with almost as much intensity as E.T.'s fans.

Check out how many edits Power Rangers has on wikipedia.

Now let's talk buzz for a moment. One would assume that a sequel to a "flop" would generate little enthusiasm among the public. If you look at Twitter, though, that hasn't been the case. Twitter has become a fairly accurate barometer of how people feel about a film.

Disney, one of the biggest entertainment corporations in the world, has spent the last three years promoting this movie. Of course it's popular on twitter. It's popular with people who haven't seen the movie yet, and probably haven't seen the original, because Disney has let the original Tron go out of print so people won't remember how bad it was.

So critics, bring on those reviews. We don't care if either Tron film is mediocre from your perspective.

This is the same kind logic used by people who like Transformers 2: Secret of the Ooze, or whatever it's called. "I don't care what critics think, I saw some stuff blow up, and it made like a bazillion dollars, so anyone who doesn't like it is an effete snob who only likes black and white French movies."

As pretty as Tron and Tron Legacy are, they're not good movies. I wish they were, but they're not. Stop pretending they are.

Posted by Will at 6:44 AM | Comments (1)

January 26, 2010

This post will make absolutely no sense.

The Insane Clown Posse made a western.

That makes absolutely no sense.

Posted by Will at 9:16 PM | Comments (2)

February 13, 2009

Taking Pelhams

The trailer for The Taking of Pelham 123 (remake of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, it was cool to spell out numbers in the seventies) came out today.

Take a look, if only to see this:

The trains in both movies are downtown 6 trains called Pelham 123 because they started in Pelham Bay at 1:23. That's how the MTA refers to them internally, anyway. Subways don't tell you where they came from and at what time on the side, they tell you where they're going. Why the movie and the trailer think it's important to go out of their way to get the words "Pelham 123" some screen time is beyond me.

Posted by Will at 4:06 PM | Comments (2)

July 15, 2008

The Spirit trailer is the most mind-blowingly awful thing I've seen this year

The studio has been doing its best to delete it off youtube since it was leaked, so I feel a personal responsiblity to share it with you, so you too can revel in its badness.

Behold, the truly terrible trailer for The Spirit.

Posted by Will at 3:23 PM | Comments ()

January 11, 2008

Will: The Movie

My name is a commonly used word. It's a verb, it's a noun, and it's an auxiliary verb on top of its regular verb-ness. And then there are movies with my name in them. Good Will Hunting, Iron Will, Free Willy. I can deal with all that.

But now we have Will, some movie starring somebody from High School Musical. I find that strangely irritating. It's like they're stealing my soul to make some stupid teen coming of age movie.

I probably shouldn't note that I find things irritating, because people usually use that as an opportunity to irritate me with them, but what the heck.

Posted by Will at 12:22 PM | Comments (1)

January 1, 2008

Nicholas and Alexandra is an awful movie.

As you know, I put movies on my netflix queue and by the time they finally arrive, I often have forgotten why I put them on there to begin with. With Nicholas and Alexandra, I figured out the reason: It has Tom Baker (the fourth Doctor Who) in it, in a relatively small role, playing Rasputin. Not really worth the two hours and change. Here's the scene after Nicholas abdicates the throne:

I make it all the way through most of my mystery netflix movies, but a bit after the intermission, I decided that I didn't need to see the whole thing. Again, nothing really to say about it, just needed to share the pain of having seen it. And if someone else has seen it and something awesome happens at the end, like Nicholas becoming radioactive and flying to Venus, let me know, I'll put it back on my queue and forget why it's there again.

Posted by Will at 10:42 PM | Comments (1)

April 7, 2007

The ultimate way to tell a movie is bad

Is if I was cut out of it.

I like to think that most posts on the club pass the test of being interesting to people who don't know me. That's probably not actually true, but this one is definitely going to fail the test. Here's me saying two lines in the only scene deleted from the 2002 remake of The Time Machine:

PS: You can stop watching after the students leave, we don't come back.

Posted by Will at 9:52 PM | Comments ()

March 14, 2007

Movies are getting worse and I can prove it

This chart plots the average rating of movies by year, using data from Rotten Tomatoes, going back thirty years. 1

First, a few disclaimers. Movies are, of course, a subjective experience. One man's Casablanca is another man's Battlefield Earth. But the fact that I can reference Casablanca and Battlefield Earth like that means there is a certain amount, however slight, of objectivity in movies. I also realize that Rotten Tomatoes isn't infallible, for any number of reasons, but as far as I know, there's no better option. (Metacritic has less data to go off of, and I don't entirely trust their rating system anyway.)

The other real problem with that chart is that it goes back to 1977, but Rotten Tomatoes didn't start until 1998. People aren't going to bother reviewing thirty year old movies that outright sucked, the only movies people are still talking about from back then are the good ones, so for a somewhat more accurate picture, here's 1998 to 2006. (I'm excluding 2007 because its ratings so far are ridiculously low, I assume because studios put out their worst stuff in January.)

It seems like the users, while the least critical, are reacting the most, dropping almost ten points. The cream of the crop, overall the most critical, have been going almost straight down since 2002, though not as much as the users overall. Regular critics don't seem to care and are probably just happy they get paid to watch movies.

I made these charts because lately, movies have been seeming to get dumber and dumber. Or is it just that I'm getting old and I'm not in their target demographic anymore? I mean, when I was young I went and saw Twins in the theater and thought it was perfectly fine. If that movie came out today, you couldn't pay me to see it. These numbers certainly aren't as drastic as I would have guessed, but they do seem, at the very least, to reveal a trend.2

So what do you think clubbers? Am I making this decline up or have you been going to the movies less and less too?

1. I got these results by writing a perl script to crawl Rotten Tomatoes and letting it run for a few days. Here are Rotten Tomatoes explanations for cream of the crop and average rating. Critic and user should hopefully be self-explanatory. The cream of the crop line disappears for a few years because those years had no movies that had enough cream critic reviews.

2. Statisticians out there can feel free to check my work, here's a csv of the raw data

Posted by Will at 11:03 PM | Comments (10)

March 11, 2007

Perfect Stranger

I saw this poster on the subway:

Do they seriously think they can make a movie called that and not make me think of this?

Posted by Will at 8:42 PM | Comments ()

March 1, 2007

The future is trying to tell us something

says the poster for The Last Mimzy:

So, is the future trying to tell us Dreamcast?

This is the last post related to both Dreamcast and predicting the future that I'll do for a while, I promise.

Posted by Will at 12:37 AM | Comments ()

June 24, 2006

Ten ways to tell Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings is Bad

Sure, there are a lot of websites that are going to give you reviews of current movies or ones just coming out on video. There are even a handful of sites that'll review the classics, maybe movies you haven't heard of, or had forgotten about. But how many sites are going to give you reviews of movies that came out a couple years ago that no one really wants to talk about anymore? Just this one. I give you ten ways to tell Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings is bad.

1) Merry and Pippin are annoying.
Seriously, they are. That whole second breakfast thing? They give Jar Jar a run for his money. At least George Lucas had the common sense to give Jar Jar increasingly smaller parts, Merry and Pippin just keep on plugging.

2) Gimli almost as annoying as Merry and Pippin
Guy's got a lot of prat falls and gas jokes and stuff, I'm just sayin.

3) Villains are lame, one dies off screen.
There are two main villains in the trilogy. One is a giant eyeball that doesn't seem to do that much. The other, played by Christopher Lee, starts off by claiming that the good guys don't stand a chance, so he might as well join the bad guys. But never again do we hear anything like that and he turns into a dull, stock villain. Oh yeah, and then he dies off-screen. And don't tell me that there's some dope scene on the extra special collector's edition dvd. I paid to see the movie in the theatre once, if they can't get it together and tell a halfway coherent narrative in the three hours I gave them, I'm not going to dig through cut scene after cut scene trying to figure out what actually happened.

4) Most of the fellowship agrees with each other, except for Boromir who dies
Half of the fun of a movie isn't just the conflict between the good guys and bad guys, but the internal conflicts on each side. The fellowship, and most of the supporting characters pretty much always agree and then stoically go out to do what needs to be done. The biggest exception being Gollum, who, I'll admit, is the most entertaining part of the movies.

5) Gandalf's sacrifice in the first one means nothing when he comes back and all that's different is he has a different outfit
I'm paraphrasing here, but this is how Gandalf's return plays out:
Gandalf, you're back!
I know.
We thought you were dead!
Yeah, well, I'm not.

6) I can tell when they use little people to stand in for the hobbits
It's not that hard.

7) Gimli and Legolas' stupid wartime banter
"Hey Legolas, I just killed five orcs!" "Yeah, well I just killed like seven!" These guys are in the middle of a war to save the entire world, and they're barely even paying attention. Not to mention, how threatening is an entire army of orcs if these two dufuses can take out half of them without breaking a sweat?

8) Cate Blanchett's scene where she freaks out when she sees the ring
What does that have to do with anything? It's already established that the ring is addictive. Does she even do anything after that, other than delivering a few spacy monologues?

9) Frodo and Sam are blank slates, and the actors playing them are even blanker
I want to have a soft spot in my heart for Elijah Wood, just because he has a couple lines in Back to the Future 2, and same for Sean Astin, because of Goonies, but as far as actors who could turn these basically personality-free Hobbits into something remotely interesting go, they were not the guys to choose. Elijah spends the trilogy doing his wide-eyed nervous look, and Sean just looks doughy.

10) Speak friend and enter
Seriously? That was your big plan to lock that door? Saying friend out loud in Elvish opens it? Am I supposed to be impressed when they figure that out?

And a bonus:
11) Tom Bombadil
If they're going to make a boring incoherent movie, they might as well have thrown Bombadil in there just for kicks.

Posted by Will at 8:04 PM | Comments (11)

January 2, 2006

Cheaper indeed.

From the poster for Cheaper By the Dozen 2:

Normally I wouldn't take pot shots at a movie as unapologetically stupid as this one is, but seriously, what are they talking about? Watch out for what? The movie doesn't even take place during Christmas, they're at a summer camp or something in the trailer. Why isn't the tag line "It's beginning to look a lot like... Cheaper by the Dozen 2!" or "On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Cheaper by the Dozen 2!" or even "Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen, something something, Cheaper by the Dozen 2."

Aside from that, the movie should either be called Even Cheaper by the Dozen or Cheaper by the Baker's Dozen. Or you know, shouldn't have been made at all.

Posted by Will at 7:02 PM | Comments (4)

The Chronicles of Narnia - Turns out there's a movie, not just a rap video

Happy New Year everyone. I had this idea to photoshop a picture of Ebenezer Scrooge onto the Back to the Future poster and call it Back to the Christmas Future, but I decided that would be too much trouble. Instead, I tried to figure out whether the SNL video, Lazy Sunday (aka Chronic what-cles of Narnia, I won't link to it, I'm sure you've all seen it already) had any effect on the movie's box office.

So, the SNL video came out on the seventeenth. And the next weekend, it made almost as much money. Coincidence? Maybe. It sure as hell couldn't have been reviews or word of mouth. From Santa Claus showing up with weapons to Aslan explaining the obscure resurrection rule that the witch didn't bother to read, it straight up ain't that good.

The rap on the other hand, seems to have taken the internet by storm. And it's funny. Although I am a little surprised by people being so excited about it. And it's not just because I'm bitter that My Name's Will Carlough and I Like to Rap didn't really catch on, I'm just sayin.

But I'll tell you what, I'm glad that the rap convinced me to go see Narnia. Lately, going to the theatre has sucked. People talk, people put their knees up on my seat, people breathe louder than I thought possible. But watching Narnia with people was great, because people were laughing with me at the movie, coming to a climax when that blond kid shows up at the end all grown up, looking as Sydney said, "like The Burger King." It was the kind of camaraderie I felt walking across the bridge during the transit strike, looking around, knowing that everyone around me was thinking the same thing - "This blows."

Posted by Will at 2:36 PM | Comments (1)

October 31, 2005

The Weather Man, building shots, and Chicken Little

A clothes trying on montage. This movie straight up, unapologetically and unironically, has a clothes trying on montage. Flipping through the channels this weekend, I discovered that Fat Albert had one too. Congratulations, Weather Man, you're in good company.

While I'm at it, another way you can tell a movie's bad is if it's got helicopter shots of a city to segue in between scenes. This is basically the director saying, I couldn't think of a way to put these scenes together, so here's some stock footage, enjoy. I'm sure it wouldn't take much work to find a good movie that uses this, although I'm pretty sure that the majority of them are bad. The recent Sam Jackson picture, The Man, even put the shot in the trailer ("These two guys are going to show this city...").

And speaking bad shots in trailers, have you noticed the Chicken Little trailer pretty much forgets about the movie halfway through and just has the chicken dancing on a white background for the rest of it? That can't bode well.

Coming soon: Pictures of my Halloween costume based on a character from a movie that pretty much no one saw.

Posted by Will at 12:27 AM | Comments ()

October 22, 2005

I've seen twenty video game movies

and I wrote an article for Slate about it.

Writing for Slate is a lot like writing for diogenes club except that somebody pays me for it and people read it.

My favorite part of the experience was going to a press screening of Doom and sitting in a big theatre with twenty old men in glasses, presumably with some graduate degree in film, waiting for a movie based on a game they had probably played or even heard of, starring a professional wrestler.

Posted by Will at 12:00 PM | Comments (5)

October 4, 2005

I talk to dead people

From Cinematical:

The new version of The Warriors isn't a director's cut, per se. Walter Hill has filmed a short "introduction" explaining his ideas behind the changes. Since he'd always thought of this movie as being based in a comic-book world, he added comic-book-style transitions between the scenes.

*Double take - spit take* 

By chance, The Warriors (the unchanged release) had just recently made the six or so month journey up to the top of my Netflix queue, and I was shocked by how much I enjoyed it. I'm also shocked at how dumb an idea that comic book thing is. There should be some kind of time limit on directors fucking with their old stuff. There were apparently a few scenes that got cut out of the original American Graffiti release. When it became a hit, they put the scenes back in. That's fine. I'm not going to bore you with a rant about the many re-releases of you-know-what-by-the-same-director, but suffice it to say, from now on, you get five years to dick around with your movie as much as you want. After that, put it in the vault. Huxley wrote a forward to Brave New World a decade or two after he wrote the book basically saying, "Man, there's some stuff in here I wouldn't do anymore. But whatever, that was then, this is now. Fucking with it would be stupid." Do artists have a right to change their stuff after the fact? Yes. Should they? No. If people thought your stuff was good to begin with, whatever lame tweaks you think of twenty years later aren't going to make it any better. They'll make it worse.

And you're lucky The Warriors isn't based on a comic book, or you'd have to sit through my "Just because it's based on a comic, doesn't mean it should look like a comic" spiel. I'll save that for when I see Doom and I'll combine it with my "Just because it's based on a video game, doesn't mean it should look like a video game" spiel.

Now for the original point of this post - Ways you can tell a movie is bad #4 continued - a scene with a dead person. I've talked about this before, but whatever, I'm still mad about it. I saw the by-the-numbers Oscar bait Proof this weekend. It starts off with Gwyneth talking to her father until he reveals... he's dead! How many times have I seen someone talking to a dead person in a movie like it ain't no thing? Too many. Proof almost gets off the hook by implying that Gwyneth is mentally unstable, but since that's the only scene that does more than imply it (being weepy and whiny doesn't count), no dice. Beyond the grave chats always suck. Cut any of them out of a movie and you have just as good (or more likely, bad) a movie. I welcome anyone to come up with evidence to the contrary in the comments.

Oh, and by the way, you may have heard I was a math minor in college. I can say without a doubt that math geeks look neither like Gwyneth nor Jake Gyllenhaal. I know it's Hollywood, but come on. Help a brother suspend a little disbelief here.

Posted by Will at 11:00 PM | Comments (4)

September 9, 2005

Kamikaze Girls and The Minnie Mouse Syndrome

I had originally planned to talk about Kamikaze Girls in my summary of my trip to Fantasia in Montreal, but I got sick of talking about it, and I figured the movie would never make it to US theatres anyway. But apparently, it's opening this weekend in Manhattan, so I'm giving it a shout out.

First off, I don't like Asian cinema. At all. Kurosawa's good, I kind of like Miyazaki sometimes, and there are a few Jackie Chan pictures that I can sit through, but for the most part, I find their sense of narrative lacking, their sense of reality strange, and their sense of humor, well, bad. I realize that's a pretty sweeping generalization. But damn, I've seen a lot of Asian cinema that I don't like. From 2046 to House of Flying Daggers to Returner to the anime they have late at night on Adult Swim that merrily swings from comedy that doesn't make sense to tentacle rape porn. I'm sure there's a lot of good Asian cinema out there, but I'm set in my Western ways, and it's too much trouble sifting through the bad stuff to get to the good.

So going into Kamikaze Girls, you can imagine I wasn't that excited. There were two theatres at the festival, I guess the other theatre was playing something I thought would be worse. But much to my surprise, I actually liked the movie. I actually laughed. And not at how bad it was either, the movie was making me laugh on purpose. What was with this movie?

Let me digress for a moment. I've noticed over the years that there aren't a lot of female movie buffs. Sure, there are girls who like movies, but you don't run into a lot who are really buffs. Why? Probably a lot of reasons. But the big one, I think, is that female characters in movies are always terrible. Really, really terrible. Bland, forgettable plot devices. There are exceptions, of course. Ripley from the Alien movies for one (who was originally written as a man, incidentally), and you know, probably a couple others I can't think of right now. But what do all the bad ones have in common? I'm glad you asked. I even came up with a name for it - The Minnie Mouse Syndrome.

If you watch pretty much any cartoon with Minnie Mouse in it, you'll notice that Minnie pretty much has nothing going on in her life except for Mickey. She doesn't seem to have a job or any hobbies, or any defining personality trait other than the fact that she likes Mickey. Take off her bow and put her in a pair of red pants, and you probably couldn't tell the difference between her and her beau. Everything about her is defined by her relationship with a man. That pretty much sums up 99% of female characters in film history.

And let's get something straight, I don't have some feminist agenda here. Far from it. I've been called "a chauvinist in loafers" and been told I have the sexual politics of a fourth grader. I just don't like boring characters in movies.

The worst example of this that I can think of is the recent British caper movie, Layer Cake. There is only one female character in the whole movie. I don't remember if she was ever given a name, but my friends and I nicknamed her "The Slut" for reasons I'll make clear in a moment. Here is everything she does in the movie: She meets the main character and makes eyes at him. She dances by herself, still staring at him, while a male character, who I think is her boyfriend, spouts some exposition. Later, she calls up the main character and claims to rub the phone on her "fanny" (she's British, keep in mind), and then shows up at his house in a sexy outfit, only to quickly change out of it into some lingerie. At this point, she says something to further the plot along. She doesn't show up again until the end, when she and the main character walk down some stairs together and the guy gets shot. I've seen movies with inanimate objects that were better characters.

Even movies that claim to have some sort of, I don't know, girl power still suffer from the Syndrome. Thelma and Louise, sure, they're taking it to the man, but that's pretty much all they're doing. They're still defined by their relationships with them, even if they're rebelling against them. V.I. Warshawski? Same. Instead of men are all mean, it's men are all stupid, and you just need to show them a little leg to get your way.

That's why Kamikaze Girls is the jam. It's just about the relationship between these two girls. I will admit that one of them is a bizarre caricature of femininity, with her fainting and frilly dresses, but she's doing that stuff purely because that's who she is, not because she has any interest in any of the male characters in the movie. A romantic interest for the other girl shows up eventually, but he doesn't slow things down, and is basically about as fleshed out and important a character as a woman would be in any other movie. So anyway, go see it.

Oh, you know what else, today I saw a fat Hispanic guy walking around in a Minnie Mouse t-shirt. He may be the toughest man I've ever seen.

Posted by Will at 2:07 PM | Comments ()

August 13, 2005

The Aristocrats

I saw The Aristocrats this week, and I enjoyed it, but I feel it's important to point out that no one seemed to notice a subtlety of the original joke. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the movie, it's about a joke that comedians tell each other that goes like this:

Guy goes into a talent agents office: "Have I got an act for you!"
<Comedian improvises the most disgusting offensive act they can think of>
Agent says, "What's the act called?"
"The Aristocrats!"

But near the beginning of the movie, we hear from the guy who supposedly came up with the joke, an old Vaudevillian and in his version, the agent doesn't say "What's the act called," he says, "What kind of an act do you call that?" The difference being that in the original joke, part of the humor comes from the fact that the agent never asks the name of the act, but finds it out anyway.

Not that that's really a big thing, mind you, but if you're going to make an entire movie about one joke, you might as well at least mention it.

Posted by Will at 11:19 PM | Comments (5)

February 7, 2005

This isn't actually a way to tell a movie's bad, but...

Am I the only one who thinks it's stupid for actors to take on accents when playing foreign characters? Take K-19: The Widowmaker. Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson, and a handful of other actors looking to make a quick buck play a bunch of cold war Russians trying to make their way in the world on a nuclear submarine. And they all speak in English with Russian accents.

We all know that cold war Russian submarine crewman didn't talk to each other in English. They were more than likely speaking in, you guessed it, Russian. We accept the conceit that they're speaking English, just like we accept that there's music underscoring everything they do and a long list of people's names before and afterwards. I fail to see how speaking English in Russian accents makes it more authentic.

That doesn't bother me that much, I just think it's kind of stupid. What does bother me is when actors use British accents to play non-British roles. I'm looking at you, Chris O'Donnell Three Musketeers. Let's get something straight. The Musketeers were French. I don't mind Tim Curry doing an British accent playing Cardinal Richelieu because, well, he's British, but everybody else, come on. I try to keep my nose out of politics, but I could make a comment about Bush being lucky that we Americans can't tell the difference between foreign countries. I'll leave that to the imagination of the reader.

There are only two movies that I can think of that don't fall into this trap, one being Hunt for Red October, where Sean Connery speaks in Russian until a zoom into Sam Neill(?), after which he busts out that Connery brand Scottish accent of his. The other is Amadeus. I haven't seen this movie in a while, but I do remember that Tom Hulce played Mozart with his natural American accent. I had remembered everyone doing their real accents, but apparently, F. Murray Abraham, an American, played Salieri with a British accent, and a British actor in the cast used an American accent. That's kind of weird. Maybe the accents were used to differentiate between the different languages they were speaking, but I sincerely doubt it. I clearly don't know what I'm talking about here, if someone has seen this movie recently, feel free to fill me in, but I'll say that Amadeus at least tried something different. Oh yeah, and there's also Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, but the less said about that, the better.

I had this discussion with Matt Elkind once (regarding Girl with a Pearl Earring), and he noted that at the time that many period pieces took place, if people were speaking English, they were doing it in British accents. The modern American accent didn't exist, so it's kind of more authentic for them to have English accents. To which I can only respond, I guess.

Posted by Will at 6:56 AM | Comments (4)

January 24, 2005

Ways to tell a movie is bad continued

Matt Elkind was kind enough to remind me that Elektra was guilty of the last item on the first list (the one about being blind), but the fact that all the blind guy does is make a good pool shot made me decide not to harp on it. And now that I think about it, Elektra spends a lot of time flashing back to her dead parents too, but that movie is so mediocre, I've given it more credit than it deserves just by talking about it as much as I have. On with the list.

6) Fart!

I'm not above laughing at bathroom humor. Behind this dry, intellectual veneer lies the mind of an eight year old. (Did I already give myself away by using Scooby-Doo as an example of a good mystery?) But for Christ's sake, a fart by itself is not a fart joke. A bodily function alone is not a joke. If it were, I would be laughing myself silly every time I went to the bathroom. There are certain modern day toilet savants, like the Farrelly brothers and the South Park guys, who can actually come up with jokes to go along with the farts, but most people will just put them in the movie, feature the hilarious function in the trailer, and then expect us to line up to pay ten bucks to see the hour and a half wrapped around that brief moment of hilarity.

7) Mercy, pretty woman

I declare a moratorium on movies about strippers and/or hookers that are written by men. The most recent addition to this long line of masturbatory filmmaking was Closer, where Natalie Portman played a sensitive, but tough, but sexy, but mysterious, but loving, but cold, but sensitive stripper. Seriously guys, you don't understand women, and you're not going to by writing some happy hooker fantasy. Don't try. It's embarrassing for all of us. Save it for the soft core porn.

8) It was Mister Carruthers!

People love surprise endings. Ever since The Sixth Sense came out, it's almost a requirement for a movie to have one, even if it doesn't make sense. And the easiest way to do that is to have a mystery thrown into the plot and have the murderer/villain/scofflaw revealed to be the very person you least suspected.

I like mysteries. I'm an avid Holmes fan, in case the domain names didn't tip you off , but I'm only going to accept so many mysteries where a character who was in one or two scenes ends up being the killer. It's not clever if the only reason I don't suspect someone is because I've forgotten about them.

I read somewhere that there's a rule for Scooby-Doo villains: Whichever character they meet first, as long as it's not Don Knotts, is the ghost. Now, I'm sure that's not true for every episode (although I know there are a handful of episodes where they only meet one guy and he's the ghost), but at least Scooby-Doo had the balls to throw the answer in your face. Movies like Enigma, I Robot, one of the 48 Hours movies, I can't remember which, and countless cops and robbers shows have a surprise bad guy revealed at the end, and it's only surprising because the villain was so forgettable. Some writers might think this is clever obfuscation, but it's not, it's a cheap cop out.

Anyone can write a character with a few lines that shows up in the beginning and then come up with an explanation at the end as to why they're evil and crazy. Take a good Agatha Christie story, even the Scream movies. They keep you guessing by throwing red herrings in to distract attention away from the real killers, all the while keeping them in the foreground of the story. Most movies and tv shows seem to pick day players at random to be the killer.

I had a couple more, but they're not that good now that I'm looking at them. I might throw them in when I'm low on ideas someday.

Posted by Will at 11:07 PM | Comments (3)

January 19, 2005

George Lucas is a racist

Yes, this post is about The Phantom Menace, and about five years to late, but in my defense, there was no five years ago.

A lot of people have made off-handed remarks that this or that character is a racist stereotype, mostly Jar Jar Binks, but to my knowledge, no one has ever looked at the movie as a whole to notice, pigeon English aside, how racist the movie actually is.

The original Star Wars had a message. It didn't hit you over the head with it, but it was there. The point of Star Wars (or at least one of them) was that the human spirit triumphs over technology. The point of The Phantom Menace was that racism is wrong. I know this because I was hit over the head with it. Obi-Wan kindly dumbs it down for us and Boss Nass to understand:

OBI-WAN: You and the Naboo form a symbiont circle. What happens to one of
you will affect the other.

The much maligned midi-chlorians were introduced to hit the point home:

QUI-GON: We are symbionts with the midi-chlorians.
ANAKIN: Symbionts?
QUI-GON: Life forms living together for mutual advantage. Without the
midi-chlorians, life could not exist, and we would have no knowledge of the

Get it? He used that big word 'symbiont' both times so we wouldn't miss out on the wisdom being proffered. To refresh your memory, The Phantom Menace involves a conflict between the amphibious Gungans and the humanoid Naboo. They can't get along, and while they share their planet peacefully, they are entirely segregated from one another.

It's not hard to map these two races onto our own world, the Naboo are the white majority and the Gungans are, well, whatever oppressed minority you like, blacks, hispanics, native americans, you name it. So, over the course of the movie, the two races put aside their differences and defeat the moderately evil Trade Federation. And everybody learns a lesson.

Here's the thing: The Gungans are idiots and the Naboo aren't. At no point do the Naboo ever say anything bad about the Gungans. But the Gungans will bring it up at the drop of a hat. The Gungans are paranoid and unjustified in their dislike for the Naboo, while the Naboo just want to be friends. The Naboo are a bunch of upper class white people sitting in a cocktail lounge saying, "Of course I would have black friends, but I just don't know any blacks," while the Gungans are sitting around in the separate-but-equal underwater homes, blaming everything on whitey.

The Naboo we meet in the movie are beautiful, peaceful, smart, and dignified. Here are the four Gungans with speaking parts:

Jar Jar Binks
    Aside from noting that he's arguably the most hated fictional character of all time, with Barney at a distant second, I don't think I need to say much about the big Double-J.
Boss Nass
    By far the most paranoid and bigoted Gungan in the movie. He sends every Gungan into battle (except himself) simply because the Queen of the Naboo vaguely implies that she doesn't think she's smarter than the Gungans. But not before he spits all over himself.
    Also note that he is given the title Boss, not a dignified royal title like humanoid characters get. (Lucas tries to have his cake and eat it too by making Amidala an elected(!) queen.)
Captain Tarpals
    He comes close to being a old, respectable Gungan warrior, except that he says doo-doo not once, but twice.
The one who says "Theysa comin!"
    Sadly, the Gungan who has only one line seems to be the smartest Gungan by default.

So basically, Lucas is saying in own his roundabout way, that minorities should stop being so stupid and paranoid and help us kindly white folk in our ivory tower whenever we ask. This wouldn't bother me so much, except that Lucas has gone out of his way to teach us a trite lesson of tolerance and equality, going so far as introducing something as lame as midi-chlorians, and he's in fact supporting the exact opposite view! Maybe Lucas has made some sort of genius Starship Troopers-esque meditation on the hypocrisy of the civil rights movement, but I sincerely doubt it.

Oh yeah, and that movie sucks besides.

Posted by Will at 8:40 PM | Comments (14)

January 17, 2005

Ways to tell a movie is bad

So I saw Elektra this weekend. I wasn't expecting much, and I got what I expected. I won't bore you with a review of the movie, but I will use it as a jumping off point for very easy ways you can tell that a movie is bad.

1) Characters say stuff early in the movie and then say the same thing later in the movie.

Example: Elektra and some stupid guy kiss. "Sorry," he says. "Oh yeah," she banters back. "I hated that." At the end of the movie they kiss again and they say the same stupid lines with the roles reversed.

The point of this is to make us think that these characters have come full circle in some way. Nine times out of ten though, the characters haven't come full circle so they're just recycling bad dialogue to make us think of other movies where repeating lines of dialogue actually makes sense.

2) Good vs Evil

Now, I know, there are a lot of good movies that have been made about the never ending battle between good and evil. But let's be honest. Evil people need motivations just as much as good people do. If you're evil and you don't really have a reason for being evil, you're basically Cobra Commander. And listen, I like Cobra Commander. He's enough of a nut to pull it off. But if you're just some boring dude with a sword and a bunch lame no-name henchman, your desire to "be evil" just doesn't cut it.

3) Lame music

I know they have to sell a soundtrack and everything, because the millions of dollars they make at the box office aren't enough, but bad rap-rock/techno/whatever sucky genre is popular now is really starting to make it impossible for me to enjoy movies.

I am positive that the people making these movies don't get home after a hard day and put on Linkin Park. They just don't. No one over say, twenty-five, listens to the terrible music they put into movies. They do this, like I said before, to sell a soundtrack, but also because they think that kids will like the movie more if they put in contemporary music.

But you know what kids like? They like Star Wars. You know, the movie that has the orchestral score that doesn't seem to bother kids and is palatable to adults as well? My solution, make one of those albums of music "inspired by" the movie (i.e., an expensive mix tape) and put in a score that doesn't make me feel like a grandparent.

The rest of these don't pertain to Elektra, but I wouldn't be surprised if they slipped them into the director's cut.

4) I see dead people

In real life, when you miss a dead person, you don't see them and talk to them and resolve your issues with them. Yet this happens in pretty much every movie where someone dies. It's become movie shorthand for "This person misses this person." From now on, if someone sees a dead person, the character should either commit themselves to a mental hospital, or the movie should be Ghostbusters 3.

5) Blind people are blind.

This is a minor qualm, and it's only happened in two movies that I can think of, Elektra's predecessor Daredevil, and the comically overrated House of Flying Daggers.

Blind people are very capable. They can get around and are very independent. But if you have a kung fu fight with a blind person and they do all right for themselves, you can assume one of two things: Either they got superpowers from the radioactive stuff that made them blind and they fight crime at night, or THEY ARE NOT BLIND.

There's plenty of bad things in Elektra to talk about, but I think my mind has put a defense mechanism in place so that I won't have to think about all of them. So that's all for now. More as it comes.

Posted by Will at 8:00 PM | Comments (3)

November 6, 2004

Best egg eating movies ever are as follows

3. McCabe and Mrs. Miller
2. Rocky
1. Cool Hand Luke

Posted by Will at 11:30 PM | Comments (3)