Summer Movie Preview
Part Two – Movies I Will See and Hate Myself
As Orpheus moved from the world of the living down into the depths of Hades, so too do we cross from the land of ‘interesting’ movies into the perpetual torment of ‘meh’. This is the section of the summer movie season that I despise for purely the reason that these films, if one can call them such, are not so much terrible as they are non-events. I love terrible. Heck, I adore terrible. I will purchase a midnight ticket, load up on whiskey, get dressed up in spanks and lycra and giggle until sun-up for terrible. But meh? MEH? What am I supposed to do with meh? I can’t laugh about Meh with my friends. I can’t even get angry about Meh. I just shrug, allow the experience to slip from my skin like some kind of soul-sucking, art-sucking, mind-sucking, suck-sucking oil designed to drive audiences to the point of utter wide-eyed non-beingness. They’re not candy. Candy is fun! Candy is delicious! Yes, it gives you diabetes, but that’s later. This, if this is candy, this category is filled with the Charleston Chews, the Werther’s Originals, and the Orange Starbursts of movies. These are the movies that if some old folk dumped them it in your Halloween basket, you’d make a face, ignore it for as long as possible but, once you’ve destroyed the M&Ms, the Twizzlers and Reeses, you’re going to stick your hand because, fuck it, you’re on a roll. So, if I can’t get angry about the movies then I’ll fucking get angry that I CAN’T get angry about these movies.
And, whew boy, we have a lot this year. Like way more than is acceptable. So many, in fact, that I decided to sort them all into thematic twosomes. That is how mind-bleedingly bullshit 2013 is. I want me money back, Hollywood! I haven’t even spent it yet and I already want it back! Well, let’s stop trying to stave off the inevitable and just chow down on these sugary pieces of digital entertainment destined for the bottom of the bargain bin. Here they are, the movies I will see and hate myself:
SCI-FI MOVIES TRYING REALLY HARD BUT FALLING SHORT
Will Smith is at it again! Not sated with fighting the apocalypse with a dog, he had to drag his son into the mix, bright-eyed and destined for stardom/cocaine addiction Jaden Smith. This is certainly one of the best of the bunch, I will admit. The concept of a journey back to a post-human Earth could definitely be interesting. Or it could be an exercise in Dinosaur-less Jurassic Park. I get that, over time, the creatures of Earth would evolve into human killing beasties…but they’re still just monkeys. I laugh at those things in a zoo. Ain’t no aliens burstin’ outta chests here. Just the well-worn tale of a boy getting stuck in a safari that is actually a planet. They’re going for the father-son angle. Fine. They’re even going for the ‘Fear isn’t real’ theme. Great. Now…wake me up when it gets interesting. I will say this, however, Mr. William “The Freshest of Princes” Smith is probably the only black actor (save perhaps for Jamie Foxx, on a good day) who would ever be cast in a movie on a color-blind basis. No other black actor can waltz into an A-list, multi-billion dollar Avatar rip-off and walk out alive. Which is ironic, because the trailers scream that he’s going to get fucked up in this movie. Just watch. Thems baboons are gonna themselves a jiggy-with-it Smith-skewer. It’s going to be like the first scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey except that it’s actually going to be the part in Congo where Tim Curry bites it…in that a gorilla bites him. So, sure, I’ll see it. And sure, it’ll be just like Oblivion, heart in the right place but, like a virgin on his wedding night, execution everywhere it shouldn’t be.
It pains me to add this to the list. Like, accidentally-slap-yourself-in-the-face pain. Mr. Guillermo Del Toro is an artist. He is. Unlike the rest of the talentless ass monkeys in Hollywood, this Mexican madman has a vision. And, like a director with an eerily similar name, Terry Gilliam, his movies tend to die before they even have a chance to be born. It’s like there’s some kind of artistic hitman out to destroy all that Del Toro touches. At the Mountains of Madness? Dead on arrival. The Hobbit? Stolen and morphed into Franken-Hobbit, a horrifying amalgam of misdirected children’s nonsense and self-importance. The guy can’t catch a break. But finally, he has returned from his dolorous slumber, once more allowed a shot at the spotlight. Sure, he was nominated for an Oscar for the amazing and life-changing Pan’s Labyrinth, and, sure, the Hellboy series has raked in a sickening amount of cash. So, will they allow him to adapt a beloved piece of literature into a horror film starring the still terrifyingly bankable Tom Cruise? Or will they let him adapt a book so fucking easy to adapt it’s almost written in screenplay format and based on a previous intellectual property that’s made more money than Bill Gates consumes for dinner every night (not because he must, but because he can)? Nope? Okay, how about fucking robots fighting Godzilla in the dark? Sound good? Good.
I mean, who thought this was a good idea? Steal the plot of Evangelion, a
nonsensical Japanese tale of demons taking over the world and humans scraping together resources from their rectal areas to fight them? Because, you know what I think when the apocalypse is happening? I think, “Well, I sure wish I’d gotten around to building multi-trillion dollar pieces of ridiculous before we got attacked. Fuck it, even though civilization is destroyed, let’s put together the most expensive and complex construction project known to man since the mutherfucking pyramids.” Also, I’m half expecting, since Del Toro hired the voice of GLaDOS from Portal, that all of the robots will turn on the humans and begin ‘testing’ with a side helping of imaginary cake. Best case scenario, Idris Elba yells, things blow up, we cheer. Worst case scenario, it’s like 1998’s Godzilla all over again…except with somehow more Matthew Broderick.
FROM THE GUYS WHO RUINED HORROR FOR EVERYONE
Ladies and gentlemen, a hand, if you will, for the glorious and generous James Wan! Who is that, you ask? Oh ho ho, he is the genius, nay, the mastermind behind the ‘New Wave’ of horror. And, no, I’m not talking about the highly revered French film movement in the late sixties. This guy is man responsible for Saw, Dead Silence, Insidious and all other silliness that has spawned from his offspring. Saw III? Yeah, that was because of him. No, he didn’t direct it, just like the Wachowskis didn’t direct those whorish excuses for action movies released the in obliterative wake of The Matrix; all obsessed with not just using ‘Bullet-time’ but overusing it to the point that audiences began puking in the aisles from motion sickness. Mr. Wan is basically the prophet of mediocre brutality tales from his hilariously un-directed and bemusingly acted Saw to Insidious, a movie so scary that it shits its own pants in the final act. Did I say scary? I meant mentally-deranged. It’s not so much that the movies Wan churns out fail on many levels, its that the floodgates he opened have caused horror to turn into the masticated mess it is today. Saw allowed Eli Roth to think Hostel was okay. And Hostel allowed Hostel Part II. And that shit is unconscionable. Even Insidious, which was pretty creative for the most part, spawned the yawn-filled Sinister. And whoever keeps making Paranormal Activity movies needs to suffer a bizarre ice cream accident wherein all of their movie-making limbs are irreparably broken. Nothing terrible. I don’t want to feel bad about it; I just want it to stop.
Now, let me be clear, James Wan isn’t so bad. Insidious, for all of its completely deleterious third act nonsense, had some genuine moments of creep-itude. That face showing up behind Patrick Wilson’s head?I jumped so hard, I think I administered the Heimlich maneuver to myself. Also, the mumble-core psychics were hilarious. His creature design, after the pant-wetting chilliness of the Jigsaw puppet, has been lackluster at best, looks-like-my-grandmother-after-a-perm-gone-wrong-bad at worst. It seems, from the trailers, that Wan has included some of the creepier and more human elements of Insidious (including the concept of casting actual ‘actors’ and not ‘meat puppets’, which is always appreciated) while cashing in on the diminishing returns from Linda Blair in The Exorcist. There will be jumps. There will be creepy stuff. In fact, it looks like a delicious pot of ‘not terrible’ until we see the words ‘Based on the True Case Files of the Warrens’. UGH. NO ONE CARES IF IT’S TRUE. In fact, in the land of horror, those words are the metaphorical katana for the inexorable Hare Kari that the movie will commit in the last act. Either the screenwriter will take some serious liberties with the ‘truth’ forcing me to have the same conversation over and over again with coworkers about the complete-bullshittude of the film’s purported veracity, or it will devolve into a special episode of Ghost Hunters. Well, Mr. Wan, good luck. I hope this is a decent blip on the radar before you return to the inevitable and insipid Insidious 2 (see what I did there?).
While The Conjuring is a direct descendant of the Saw patriarch, The Purge is the random kid allowed over to the house for Thanksgiving Dinner. No one is really sure how he got there and no one wants to ask the grinning little bastard to leave. This bad boy was invited to the party by “The Producers of Sinister and Paranormal Activity“. Awesome. The guy responsible for me watching Ethan Hawke get drunk and make terrible choices and the security tape of two boring people sleeping. Fucking tits, man. Can’t wait! Not to mention, this is brought to you by a greenhorn director who is famous for writing the movie Jack. You remember Jack, the one where Robin Williams plays the kid who grows at 4 times the rate of other children? That absolutely absurd tale of…but then…he just wants to be a kid, but he’s forty and at graduation he’s like 80…don’t cry, Andrew, you can do this…
Ahem. Yes, it has Ethan “I’ll Try if I Really Want To” Hawke and Queen Cersei sporting a rather fashionable bob. It tells the tale of an America where there is no crime and unemployment is at a record low because of the titular ‘Purge’. It is one night where there is no law and people can do whatever they please. So, naturally, they kill every mutherfucker they can…because that’s…what people do…? I don’t know about y’all, but I just wish I could turn my life into the fucking Hunger Games once a year. Anyway, the Hawke-meister and his Queen (watch out for the backstabbing!) hold up in their super-fortress of a suburban home to drink away the night. But then their dumbass kid was audacious enough to show ’empathy’, the little bitch, and saves a man’s life. Then people try to kill them. Basically, it’s Assault on Precinct Ordinary People. Seeing as this guy also wrote the Ethan Hawke remake of Assault on Precinct 13, I find that both worrying and calming. At least he’s done this before…except, last time, it really sucked. Oh well. This movie could go one of two ways: 1) it could be a clever, if slightly schadenfreudistic, look at the interactions of the 1% and the 99% and the distance between the haves and the have nots in a time of crisis or 2) it could be a nihilistic piece of torture porn wherein every angry white kid from the suburbs can cheer as the parents get blunt objects shoved where the sun don’t shine. Who knows? I can almost guarantee we will forget it almost immediately.
COGNITIVE DISSIDENCE BETWEEN TALENT OF CREATIVE TEAM AND THE QUALITY OF THE TRAILER
The Lone Ranger
This is possibly the saddest and most confusing segment of this post. This is the place where terrible people somehow create something decent and great film artists make choices that probably should have been left on the cocaine-dusted backside of the hooker where it was conceived. The Lone Ranger is the latter. I have had a minor-to-massive crush on Mr. Gore “Really, That’s Your First Name?” Verbinski, especially during his frequent forays with Johnny “Put It Back in Your Pants, Ladies” Depp, since the advent of his mind-bending blockbuster tour de force trio Pirates of the Caribbean and solidified it further with the trippiest-cartoon-to-ever-win-an-Oscar Rango. The pair of them have the most bizarre and tickling sense of humor I’ve ever discovered in a mainstream movie. Well, sometimes those giggle-butts go a little too far and decide to do The Lone Ranger. *FACEPALM* Okay, guys, you’ve already flaunted the fact that you can turn the most absurd basis of a movie, a fucking ride at Disney, into an amazing seafaring romp. Yes, you proved you can stick it to Wreck-it Ralph with bizarro Clint Eastwood references and Bill Nighy as a snake with a gattling gun (no fucking joke, you need to see Rango; it’s insane). But racism? Guys, seriously. Yes, I know, Mr. Depp is some non-existent fraction of Cherokee that, to real mathematicians would round down to naught. But it doesn’t count. That’s like Tiger Woods saying “I’m half Chinese so I can dress up in my red dragon-enbroidered robes, stick in some buck teeth (not that I need them) color my face yellow and squint while saying ‘me so sol-lee’ over and over”. It just…isn’t…kosher. (Disclaimer: Well, if a rabbi blessed his racist meat then technically, yes, it is kosher).
We’ve got the knucklehead writers of Pirates back (not the amazing and low-budget, midget-stabbing-men-in-the-face porno, the other one), Armie Hammer, the adonis with abs so nice, they cast him twice…in The Social Network, as well as a host of beloved character actors. The action will be awesome. The jokes will be weird. I just can’t get past the red-face. And I’m not talking about Rush Limbaugh after going up a short flight of stairs. I’m talking about the Wounded Knee, Trail of Tears, totem-touting “Kimosabe” faccent coming out of Depp’s mouth. I get it. The show wasn’t exactly the Rosa Parks of Native American mainstream artistic perception, but come the fuck on, it was the 50s. That was the time, if you were a white man, you could slap a black man in the face, a woman, of any race, on the behind and then call the local police station and claim that both assaulted you. You know, the golden age of America. Why couldn’t we cast an actual Native American in the part? Or, better yet, change the plot of the movie to not include Native Americans. Or, even better yet, not fucking make a movie of a television show whose last surviving fans are currently eating mushy peas through a tube while still discussing ‘The Negro Problem’ and make something fucking new, you lazy assholes. Ah, that felt good to finally get out in the open.
Man of Steel
And then…the other side of the coin. Here we have a movie trailer that actually, shockingly, looked kind of alright. From the operatic score, the heartfelt yet dour imagery and the haggard face of Kevin Kostner relocated to the unfairly manipulative setting of a farm (fucking Field of Dreams flashbacks!) to the slick and gritty fight scenes and the promise of Michael Shannon screaming the Superman equivalent of ‘cunt punt’, this thing hits every note a summer blockbuster requires. There seems to be a unified aesthetic for this next outing this, what the fuck is it, prequel? Sequel? Remake of Smallville? Prequel to the Superman Returns remake-quel? Perhaps we’re stuck in a brutal cycle of alternate Superman universes wherein the filmmakers and actors responsible are constantly losing careers left right and center? Whatever. If you have to replace Terrence “I Eat Bricks for Breakfast” Stamp with anyone, Michael Shannon is not only the perfect choice, he is the result of cooking Pinter-ian quiet fury, batshit second amendment insanity and a host of cartoon-cereal mascots in a paint tin for two days and then shoving it in a mixer for two hours. Mutherfucker is nuttier than squirrel turds. And he’s amazing. Well, turns out we have Christopher “Bat-Penis” Nolan producing, teaming up once again for the infuriatingly oxymoronic David S. “No, I Have Not Forgotten About Blade Trinity” Goyer after destroying the world with some damn good Bat-outings. Thus far everything about this movie, save for the fact that it includes the most boring superhero of all time (other than, of course, Board-Man…with the power to…well, who fucking cares. I think it has something to do with card tricks and Jenga. Eh), seems utterly perfect. I wonder who’s directing it…
Zack. Fucking. Snyder. Some of you might not know, most of you might not care, but I have a box of voodoo dolls with that dumbass’s face plastered on each and every one. Yes, he made a wonderful, if bone-headed and paper-thin splash on the scene with the raucous Dawn of the Dead remake. But then his penis decided to meld with his brain stem. We next received the repugnantly and confusingly homophobic/homoerotic 300, the filmic equivalent of that guy who sits in the weight area of the gym with his legs spread wide in order for him to watch his own throbbing boner and shrunken testes as he pumps iron. Yes, this is if Arnold Schwarzenneger and Sylvester Stallone had a freak test-tube baby, it would have been 300. But with less brain cells. Whatever, it was funny. We laughed. We wept for humanity a bit. At least Mr. Snyder was only shitting on history, there’s no way anyone would ever let him do that to a beloved graphic novel with a fanbase more rabid than a dog pound after national ‘Dog-Bite On the Face Day’.
My hatred of the Watchmen movie is so pure and unadulterated, it could be bottled to fuel interstellar travel. When I see that movie playing, even for a moment, blood begins rushing from my earholes and I begin spewing pee-green soup. There might be some mild crucifix-masturbation. It’s hard to tell after I blackout. Well, Mr. Snyder then tried to make amens, or something of the sort, deciding to craft the woefully misguided and unintentionally ultra-mysogynistic Sucker Punch. *HEADDESK* There aren’t enough curses in the world to describe how much I vitriolically despised that ‘movie’. Perhaps there will be an article down the line. It’ll be a Clockwork Orange-esque evening of rancid torture with an entree of Snyder and a side plate of titties.
So, Snyder, the dullard who ruined Watchmen. The prick with the prick behind Sucker Turds. He’s taking on Superman? Well, take your best shot, buddy boy. Oh! And I see you’ve brought Russell “I Will Never Forgive You” Crowe for the ride! I hope he dies. And since he’s playing Jor-El, there’s a very good chance of that. Bitch is going down harder than a concrete porcupine soufflé. It’s a match made in Satan’s butthole.
Maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe Snyder has learned a little about filmmaking since Sucker MAKE-IT-STOP. Maybe Nolan has taken him under his wing and ceremoniously yanked the dick from his ear. Maybe not. This summer will show all. Bring it, Snyder-Meister.
THE PREQUEL AND THE SEQUEL TO A PREQUEL
Oh Pixar. My dear, dearest, sweetest Pixies of the Ar. How glorious you once were, soaring above the plebeians, dousing us once a year with a golden egg seemingly sent from the muses of heaven. You made us weep like children, giggle like idiots, and feel all of the feels. You played our heartstrings like they were a fucking lute. Now… where have you gone? Other than the charming yet mildly mediocre Brave, you sprinkle us with sequels and prequels and pointless rehashings of worn out IPs. Finding Nemo 2? Check. Cars 2? Ugh. Check. Of course, the argument against this cynicism is the excellent Toy Story series. Sure. That charted the progression of childhood, from wide-eyed discovery, to fear of rejection, to eventual loss and the lessons needed to let go. It was fucking brilliant and, yes, I wept like a newborn child in the aisles, hugging my popcorn against my chest calling out the name of my lost teddy bear from my childhood crib (which was difficult, because I never actually named him).
Now, Monsters Inc., sweet as you were, you barely grazed the tip of the Up-ian iceberg of emotions Pixar has explored. Kids are cute. John Goodman and Billy Crystal are funny. Is that it? Is that where we’re headed? Now, it wasn’t quite as vapid as Cars, but, guys, it wasn’t Up. Yes, I know the execs want to boost toy sales and, shit, a universe of fluffy mildly threatening creatures is a toy maker’s wet dream. But can’t we have more? Can’t we have a new intellectual property? Can we eschew the fanboy cries for more Incredibles and a sequel to A Bug’s Life. Of course they want more! They’re fanboys! They’re like dogs, you can keep feeding them until their fucking nerd-guts burst open Seven-style. Look at Star Wars. They don’t know how amazing you can be.
Unless…the magic is gone? Maybe Pixar isn’t quite the soaring eagle I had always assumed. Perhaps they’re just the goose whose golden eggs have dried up. Well, if this continues, I say we have a good old goose-that-laid cook off! Michael Eisner, you get a wing. You asshat.
Finally, and probably leastly, let’s be real, we have the surreal entry into this year’s ‘middling’ category. Poor Wolverine, he’s been through the grinder over the last decade, tossed from a great director’s hands into the butter-and-moron drizzled fingers of Brett “Yep, I’m Proud of Rush Hour. Come at me, bro!” Ratner to the utterly incomprehensible claws of whoever the fuck was responsible for the urinal-cake-esque X-Men Origins: Wolverine (in that you can keep pissing on it, but it ain’t going away), to the point that he was in a literal meat grinder at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand. So where the fuck are we now? Post-Singer-verse? Pre-Stuart? After the bizarre misappropriation of Three-Mile Island, but before he got seriously McKellan-ed (yes, that’s a sex move. Disclaimer: much like the eponymous, knighted thespian, it requires a three foot penis)? Where are we in time, space and X-Man-dom? Well, apparently Japan, that much is clear.
This film has been in the works ever since the turd-tacular Wolverine seeped its way across the silver screen all those years ago. You know, that one with Deadpool without a mouth, Taylor Kitsch before his career tanked faster than a Blitzkrieg on the Russian Front, and Will.I.am acting…or something of the sort. It’s skipped director to director, starting with the lethally odd and mind-bustingly delightful ex-Mr. Rachel Weisz Darren Aronofsky, and ending with James Mangold, you know the guy who did Kate and Leopold…and Girl, Interrupted. You know, action movies! Okay, okay, he also did 3:10 to Yuma, which was pretty decent other than Mr. Turd-Face Extreme Puke-asaurus Rex Russell Crowe in it. Did I mention I hate him and his stupid egg-shaped face? Sure, the movie will probably be utter crud. Its fight scenes seem bland and overly-cgi-ed, a hold-over aesthetic from its near-mentally-challenged predecessor. I’m sure it will yawn onto screens and then blah-blah its way out. I’m sure we’ll forget it as quickly as we forgot that one movie…from last year…you know, the one…with the people…and explosions? Whatever, I’ll figure it out eventually.
I think I would have enjoyed Aronofsky’s The Wolverine. After all, he and Jackman have worked together before on The Fountain. I can see it now: The Wolverine is a prequel, but it’s also a sequel in that the entirety of the film takes place in the moments before he kills Jean Grey at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand. We have Logan hurtling through space on a fragment of his own brainmatter, thrust through time, rushing after a lost love, never managing to catch her, unable to die and unable to rest, caught in between infinity and a flash of nothingness…and then Craig David appears out of nowhere with a double sided dildo and screams “Ass to ass!”. Oh, and he turns into a bird while dancing Swan Lake and stabs himself. With the dildo.