Posts Tagged ‘blockbuster’

by Andrew Mooney

Thor: The Dark World (2013) – Alan Taylor (Dir.), Chris Hemsworth, Chris Hemsworth’s Abs, Chris Hemsworth’s Chiseled Jaw, Chris Hemsworth’s Back, Chris Hemsworth’s Baby Blues into which the Souls of Mortal Hetero Women Have Cascaded into a Furious Epidemic of Blue Tubes, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgaard, Jaime Alexander, Rene Russo, Chris O’Dowd, Ray Stevenson, Anthony Hopkins, Anthony Hopkins’ Body Double So He Can Spend the Day in His Trailer Sucking on a Teat Filled with a fine Chilean Chianti

Natalie: "Is Anthony Hopkins looking at my ass?" Thor: "YOUR arse? Have you even SEEN me?"

Natalie: “Is Anthony Hopkins looking at my ass?”
Thor: “YOUR arse? Have you even SEEN me?”

Ah yes, the Kingdom of Marvel has trotted out one of its lesser champions once more. This time: the eminently lickable and not-in-any-way-turning-me-gay dreamboat that is Chris Hemsworth’s utterly uncharismatic titular Thor. Now, about two years ago, before I had this blog, I charged from the movie theater frothing at the mouth after witnessing Kenneth Branagh’s ham-and-cheese scenery-chewing feast that was the original Norse-hero flagship. It was clear that the poor nerds over at the Marvel juggernaut had zero ideas on how to approach the most absurd chapter in The Avenger’s almost Sisyphean build-up. For some reason, in between coming up with men turning into angry big green monsters and mouthy teenagers getting bitten Jeff-Daniels-in-Arachnophobia-style by inexplicably radioactive spiders, Stan Lee said to himself, “I don’t have any more ideas right now. I mean, I think I’ve run through every animal and DC rip-off I can do…why don’t I just fucking steal an entire mythology?” Luckily aliens with infinitely dense hammers and really gay rainbow bridges beat out his other possibilities such as: Osiris with magical embalming skillz! Or perhaps even Shiva: The Bitch With Too Many Hands (note to self: awesome comic book idea). But no, we were offered a bemusing retelling of Henry IV, just with Frost Giants, indestructible robots, and a bad guy who wears a helmet that looks like a mountain goat after a visit to Bling Night in Boy’s Town.

"I'm confused...so is Loki king of golden dildos? I think he is. I'm going to make him king of golden dildos." Tom Hiddleston on the origin of genius.

“I’m confused…so is Loki king of golden dildos? I think he is. I’m going to make him king of golden dildos.” Tom Hiddleston on the origin of genius.

No. I did not enjoy Thor. Marvel had no idea how to marry a flamboyant romp through various realms of the universe with Iron Man’s pseudo-realistic character study. How do you solve this? That’s right, hire the fucker responsible for the slow motion CGI spear at the end of Hamlet…you know, the uncut 4-hour shitshow where Jack Lemon does to the Bard what I do to the French language (let’s just say ex-President Sarkozy won’t be inviting me round for a croissant anytime soon); the guy who not only directed and produced it, but also starred in it. I half expected the goateed British bastard to show up as EVERY CHARACTER. Also, Kate Winslet’s boobs. But that’s because she is legally obligated to show them in every movie ever. So, what does the Branagh do with Thor? Well, his job. He made it more glittery and Hopkins-ish than a Ke$ha/Silence of the Lambs themed rave. It was confusing. Tonally, it wasn’t just all over the map, it WAS the fucking map. We have ironic, flat hipster humor from Kat “I Have Boobs” Dennings, flashes of greatness of a man who’s diet is composed of nothing more than set dressing, Tom Hiddleston, as well as the best “I’m Getting a Fucking Paycheck” performance from Natalie “I Really, Really Don’t Have Boobs. Have You Seen Black Swan? Yes, the Groping Scene Confused Me Too. Is it Groping if There’s Nothing to Grope?” Portman since Anthony Hopkins was in Thor 2: Into Darkness.

"FOR THE LAST TIME, CHRIS, THOR DOESN'T SURF. STOP TRYING TO MAKE HIM SURF!" ~ Director Taylor fighting a losing battle.

“FOR THE LAST TIME, CHRIS, THOR DOESN’T SURF. STOP TRYING TO MAKE HIM SURF!” ~ Director Taylor fighting a losing battle.

But, guys, time passes. The Avengers happened. It seems that Mr. Hemsworth, a man whose very presence in this movie could be considered lewd and provocative (no joke, the theater applauded during his first shirtless scene. Notice how I said ‘first’?), has had time to settle into the duality of his character. It helps when you have Joss “Bitch, Please” Whedon helming you at some point. Unfortunately, Alan Taylor, of Game of Thrones fame, isn’t up to quite the same standard as Mr. Whedon. On countless occasions he forgets that this is an action movie and not a story enamored with the intricacies of mythological politics. Also, he must have had the job of having to prod Sir Hopkins whenever he was meant to speak, seeing as the guy somnambulates his way through every freaking frame of film. To combat the utterly incredulous battshitery of the first film’s almost Gilbert and Sullivan-esque bombast, he has cured the scenery chewing by simply adding so much goddamned scenery that Mr. Hiddleston would die of asphyxiation before he can gobble the thing down. Throughout the film’s lagging and nearly nonsensical first half, we are offered an expansive and intriguing look into the sure-to-be-a-Disney-ride fantasy of Asgard. Seeing as these days Marvel only needs to waggle its penis in the general director of a movie theater and they make a gajillion dollars, they can afford to throw some cash at the screen. And throw they did. Every second of this film, when not constrained to London, is gorgeous, offering a more vibrant and believable universe than Branagh’s towering columns and Hopkins-bellowing.

So, what is this one about? Well, there’s a lot of shit in it. And I don’t mean that metaphorically. There simply is a lot of pointless refuse tossed into the script-crafting process that both muddles and stretches the run-time to excessive lengths. Much like its predecessor, Thor: Darkness Falls opens with a prologue almost literally torn from Peter Jackson’s excessive LOTR footage explaining more than you would ever need or care to know about the blandest blandies since Blondie bonded with Bono during a Battle of the Blahs. Otherwise known as ‘Dark Elves’. Why elves? Who knows! We have an evil Doctor Who (Eccleston) who seems to have gone full white-face Drow and, like a redneck teenager, grown his rattail to a length that makes everyone uncomfortable. He is Malekith…who we can tell is evil because 1) he’s white and 2) well…his name is Malekith. Also, did I mention he’s white? Anyway, this fella wants to destroy existence. Why? Why not? Sounds legit. He has this thing called the Aether, a catch-all uber-destruction device-cum-evil-infection cum-let’s-give-a-reason-for-Natalie-Portman-to-be-in-this-movie. Aaaaaaaaaaand that’s about it. Thor has to stop him. Now there is far more stuff concerning Rene Russo turning into a CGI bladed whirling dervish and the African guy from LOST turning into a lava rhino…but the entire movie is simply waiting, like a child slobbering over an empty plate, until Mr. Hiddleston shows up.

"So...do I have a character or am I just supposed to get punched in the face?" ~ Eccleston: a pro.

“So…do I have a character or am I just supposed to get punched in the face?” ~ Eccleston: a pro.

Seriously, thank god for Loki. Up until the second act, this movie has about as much humorous glee as a clown at a funeral. Once they finally manage to contrive the character actions and plot twists to the point that Loki can finally escape from prison and leap into a delightful will-he-won’t-he tet-a-tet/knife-in-the-abs with his Goldie Locks of a brother, the movie remembers that it is meant to entertain. And entertain it does. Both Hemsworth and Hiddleston play off of each other like a young Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart…if one of those two were basically Michaelangelo’s David come to life in a bizarrely classy retelling of the seminal Kim Cattrall classic Mannequin. Also, Natalie Portman is there, and this is true, ONLY BECAUSE IT WAS IN HER CONTRACT. I’m not saying that the Oscar winner phoned it in, but let’s just say her relationship with her character is as long-distance as that time my ex-girlfriend moved to China. I’m surprised she didn’t have her assistant carry around an iPad with her skyping into every scene. At least, if they had done that, Hemsworth and Hiddleston could have just started playing Words With Friends whenever the Port-meister got boring.

Luckily, however, the second Hiddleston joins the party, the movie takes off. Even Hemsworth is instantly revitalized, tossing about quips that legitimately made me giggle. It takes a long while to get there, but the director finally realizes that you can frowny face your way through a comic book movie, a la C-Noles, and come away with a pretentious cautionary tale with harshly mediocre fight scenes…or you can have Chris “If He Were an Ice Cream Flavor He’d Be The Opposite of Chubby Hubby” Hemsworth beat the shit out of Doctor Who. Luckily, once Mr. Hopkins was convinced to stop randomly yelling in a Merlot-filled rage at anyone with a beard, the movie leaps into action. I will say this, the final fight is possibly the most inventive the MCU has seen in a long while. It seems as though Marvel, after painting themselves repeatedly into a corner by making every movie in their brutally successful anthology about “THE WORLD IS GOING TO BE DESTROYED. MUST SAVE IT WITH BOOM-BOOMS”, instead of retreading the obvious ground, they’ve simply kicked in the fucking wall and decided they need more square footage. The final fight between Thor and Malekith is not only exciting but freaking hilarious, a flash of genius that, like Pope-Bubbles, the catholic body wash, almost totally washes its sins away.

"Oh...I'm sorry, I was waiting for you to want your movie to be GOOD. Well, you came to the right man."

“Oh…I’m sorry, I was waiting for you to want your movie to be GOOD. Well, you came to the right man.”

In the end, Thor: The Dark Side of the Moon: Transformers: Revenge of the Sith succeeds despite itself. Much like Iron Man 3 and The Avengers, it only truly feels fun when its characters get to banter. The explosions go boom and we get to see more of the same antics we know and love. Also, Tom Hiddleston should be required to be in every movie ever. Right next to Kate Winslet’s boobs. Shockingly, the Marvel gurus have managed to create an action-based universe where the action is the least interesting component. In a way, it’s genius. To see a Marvel movie from, say, Michael Bay or John McTiernan would be horrifying. This is no metallic ballet of mediocre misogyny. No, no! Mr. Kevin Feige, the supposed god of all that is this MCU juggernaut, has harvested a healthy crop of intelligent and unique directors who will hopefully supply us with another slew of quality character studies that just happen to go BANG BOOM. We’ve got Captain America: The Winter Solider: Why the Fuck Are There So Many Colons?: The Andrew Mooney Story coming up next directed by the boys responsible for NBCs insane and brilliant Community, as well as Edgar Wright’s sure-to-be-rikonkulous Antman. Most perplexing of all is the red-headed step-movie/money trap that is James “Slither/Super” Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, which gets a teaser in the final credits of this film. With its nonsensical mis en scene and cheaply shot digital framing, to say the footage is out of place is to say the black man who accidentally walked into a KKK rally has a small case of egg-on-face. Let’s just say Benecio Del Toro shows up as his character from The Usual Suspects but if he went through a Liberace cloning device. Poor Jaime Alexander and Ray Stevenson, the two actors look utterly lost on the cobbled together set stolen from a lost episode of Doctor Who, their expressions captured by the most uncomfortable close-ups since my brother snuck into my room with a camera while I was dreaming about that time with the emu and the peanut butter sandwich.

Don’t ask. That story is only meant for my therapist.

Also, I’m really glad that the Marvel Comics Universe has finally incorporated Chris O’Dowd into its cast. I can dream that one day we’ll see him and Richard Ayoade offering S.H.I.E.L.D. IT help. That would be the tits.

Change is in the air, my friends. The oxygen slows in its vibration, caught amidst the rushing meteorological shifts of this midwestern metropolis. There is gunk in my throat. My clothing has shifted from hues of happiness to those of hipsterian disdain for all things uncool. Yes, my friends, it is FALL. And, as this season was so named to follow Lucifer’s plummet from Providence of summer exponentialism, through the purgatory of mid-September and October bullshit horror second-hand mediocrity and finally into the pit of despair known only to the brave as ‘January’, so have we tumbled from the majesty that was this summer movie season. Did I say majesty? I mean Meh-ity. That’s right, this summer was filled with more duds than a post-Steve Jobs iPhone release (POSTHUMOUS BURN!). However, it is my job, nay my DUTY (tee hee, doody) to rip, roll, tar and feather every release of this thermodynamically diverse cinematic season. So, yes, kiddies, this is the one you have ALL been waiting for (and by all I mean probably like three of you…if that), get ready for Andrew’s:

SUMMER MOVIE AWARDS 2013!

Oh thank you, please, please, don’t get out of your computer chair…oh…please! Stop with all the adulation! I…well…alright…

Now come on guys, I have an article to write! Please, oh, you are too kind. This is all…just…too overwhelming…

WHAT? FUCK YOU AFFLECK! GET OUT OF MY GIFS, YOU NOT-BATMAN SON OF A BITCH! THIS IS MY AWARDS SHOW AND YOU’RE NOT WINNING ANYTHING! I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN LIKE THE NOT-BATMAN YOU ARE AND HIT YOU WITH A MUTHERFUCKING BATARANG! (Spoilers, he totally wins an award. ;). (Okay, second parenthetical…those winks really make me uncomfortable. It’s like my computer is flirting with me. And my computer has seen WAY too much of me to make that appropriate.) Without any further Ado (heh, heh, SPOILERS) let’s get this underway…

MOST MEDIOCRE MOVIE I’M GLAD I MISSED

Winner: The Internship; Runner-Up: Now You See Me

"What should be on the poster? Fuck it. I need to get baked. Let's just have them stand there." Genius designer.

“What should be on the poster? Fuck it. I need to get baked. Let’s just have them stand there.” Genius designer.

Alright, so in every summer, in between the bombast, the explosions, and the RDJ shenanigans, studios attempt to unload middling materials that have already cost so much damn money that they can’t help but attempt to make even a bum’s fortune on. Now, these movies sneak into theaters every year, sometimes disguised as remakes of massive blockbusters (AHEM The Amazing Spiderman AHEM) or four-quels to trilogies that don’t need another movie (AHEM PIRATES 4 and BOURNE 4 AHEM). However, this year, the cake is taken with aplomb and idiocy by the duo that brought us the misogynistic stupid-a-palooza that was The Wedding Crashers, all packaged into a delightful shit-twinkie coated with Google advertising. That’s right, The Internship looked like a rancid pile of boring. Like, if this was once a fanciful bouquet of ‘Interesting’ then some idiot left it in the sun for two weeks, forgetting that DAIRY DOESN’T DO WELL IN THE SUMMER HEAT and it gradually transforms into a mutated hunk of sludge less appetizing than that restaurant that was started by a gastroenterologist (My mother was extremely perturbed when she discovered Colonic Cuisine was not an establishment specializing in colonial delicacies). Now, I didn’t see it, but from everything we could see in the ads it was ‘cool kids help the nerds to be less nerdy and LET LOOSE and FIND THE REAL THEM so they can BE BETTER AT THEIR JOBS’ or something. Bullshit. This is what would have really happened: “They don’t get hired by Google. They die in a gutter. Maybe in a hobo fire. End of Movie.” The hobo fire is the twist. So, no, I will not be watching you, The Internship. I don’t want your miserable excuses for PG-13 dick-filled (not the appendage) comedy and your super-liminal advertising for media monstrosity Google. (Don’t hate me Google. I love you. Make my site famous! I’ll sacrifice anything the God of the Internet needs! Virgins? Annoying roommates? Pizza? Doing your laundry? Microsoft Bing? I’ll do anything you want!)

Also, Now You See Me looked like David Blaine’s wet dream where he was in Ocean’s Eleven and Woody Harrelson showed up. *Shudder*

MOVIE I WISH I HAD BEEN DRUNKER FOR

Winner: The Great Gatsby 3DRunner Up: White House Down; Man of Steel

The Fitzgerald is watching you...

Leo DiCaprio will ejaculate the American Dream on your face.

Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh

Sorry, I’m not done. UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH. There is nothing worse than sitting in a movie and reaching for a drink you’ve already finished. It’s agony. It’s as though the doctor is amputating a gangrenous limb and there’s no time for anesthesia. You reach for the whiskey…but the fucking orderly already downed it. That’s what it was like watching The Great Gatsby. It’s a movie like this that helps me understand why Oedipus claws out his eyes. And that was just because he fucked his mom. HE DIDN’T EVEN SEE THE GREAT GATSBY. It was a measure of impossible restraint to stop myself from impaling my pupils with snow caps to save myself from the turd-icaine of a literary adapt-a-Leo-tion. Seriously, at the halfway point, I reached for the champagne Amelia and I had snuck in and I almost screamed in horror when I discovered it empty. The rest of that thing was sobering in the same way that waking up with your head in the dog’s food bowl and the distinct taste of Pedigree Chum on your tongue can be (that totally never happened. It’s just an example. That definitely did not happen last August and my roommates did not force me to pay for another bag of food and therapy for the dog…totally didn’t happen). So, while Man of Steel was a teetotaled experience of agonized proportions and there isn’t enough alcohol in the world to make White House Down the cinematic equivalent of not-food poisoning, The Great Gatsby is offered this dubious award for reminding me that I would rather remove my own eyeballs with a spoon than watch another Baz Luhrmann film. Or eat dog food.

MOVIE I ALMOST GOT INTO A FIST-FIGHT ABOUT

Winner: Star Trek Into DarknessRunner-Up: Despicable Me 2

"Who put a goddamn banana in the exhaust? It's not funny guys!" ~ The final log of Captain Jim T. Kirk.

Most. Destructive. Fart. Ever.

Alrighty, this is the award that will probably piss off a few people. I know…because I almost got into a fist-fight about it. So…I didn’t like Star Trek Into Darkness (*cower and cover face*…wait…are they gone? Good). It’s true. The first Star Trek reboot movie was a hoot and/or a holler. We had sexy new this and sexy new that and OMG MY EYES – LENS FLARE! There were tight new costumes, explosive new weapons, and smoldering chemistry so hot it would make a thermite reaction jealous (MISINFORMED CHEMISTRY JOKE!). Granted, the plot was flimsier than an OJ alibi, but that didn’t matter. It was about characters. It was about man-on-vulcan growl-action. It was about Simon Pegg with a Scottish accent. But then…the sequel. Like a ruined sauce, the burner was too high and the elements that interacted so pleasantly before were reduced to a simple and unappetizing sludge. All the women became yapping shrews with D-cups while the plot, driven by evil Admiral Robocop, had somehow become more complex but even flimsier…like a Moebius Strip made out of blue Fruit Roll Up. It looks delicious…but there’s no such fucking thing as ‘Blue Raspberry’. Unfortunately, expressing disdain for anything that has included the newly anointed god of all Sexy Nerdom, Bendydick Cumberbund, is a crime worthy of death. Thusly, I had a multitude of Sherlock-ian friends accost me on my negative feelings. Granted, it never came to blows because, in all honesty, our asthma would have acted up two minutes into it…but it was the closest I came to a brawl in years. Other than that time I almost punched a teenager in line for The Dark Knight Rises (true story).

The runner up receives honorable mention due to a moment of pure vitriol I experienced in my own home. If you want a piece of advice…never, ever, ever say that you don’t like Despicable Me around my girlfriend. Deal? Deal.

MOST OBAMA

Winner: Idris Elba in Pacific RimRunner-Up: Jamie Foxx in White House Down

Okay, okay, yes, Jamie Foxx played the first black president in White House Down. Yes, his wife looked like Michelle Obama. And yes, his character was named Shcmarack Schmo-Schmama. But there is no fucking way he gets this award. If one can sum up Barack Obama in essence, he is a positive role-model and figure of power for the African American community. He is a leader who doesn’t always make the best decision, but he sticks to his beliefs while not being afraid to compromise.  So, by those considerations, Idris Elba is the most badass of fucking badasses ever to roam the Earth. I’m not kidding. I don’t care how silly his character’s name, be it Stringer Bell or Stacker Pentecost or Selection Easter or Serendipity Yom Kippur, Elba is like a deity dropped from the heavens to show humanity how to eat glass and spit out diamonds. Honestly, this man can play any role with power. James Bond? Fuck yes. Doctor Who? Do it. Queen Elizabeth II? It would be an interesting adjustment, but fuck it, let’s do this. The moment in Pacific Rim where Elba turns to one of the indeterminate white boys and says “One, don’t ever touch me again. And two, don’t EVER touch me again. Is that clear?” and then he walks off screen, a colossus of permeating confidence and charisma was the most sexually awakening experience in my life since Reese Witherspoon had pointy boobs in Pleasantville (also, shamefully, a true story). I mean…look at this exemplary specimen of humanity:

Yeah…not just women (*cross legs*)

So, yes, Jamie Foxx. You can wear your silly glasses and shoot bazookas and tell people to get their hands off your Jordans. You might have even chewed more gravel than a special edition Tommy Lee Jones gravel pit when you were in Django Unchained. But you will never reach levels of unbreakable badassery achieved by a man named after the fucking island where Napoleon was exiled.

That’s right. Fucking Napoleon.

BEST MOVIE I MISSED LAST SUMMER AND FINALLY GOT AROUND TO SEEING AND LOVED

Winner: Beasts of the Southern Wild; Runner-Up: Let’s be real, I made up this category to have an excuse to talk about Beasts of the Southern Wild…so let’s just say The Conjuring

220px-Beats-of-the-southern-wild-movie-poster

Alternate Title: How Not to Use Fireworks – The New Orleans Story

This was perhaps my greatest regret of the previous summer. Also, a number of tequila shots. Those were regretful. I think. I don’t remember what happened after, but I know the night ended and I had split my pants in two…so…probably not well. Of all the raucous insanity of the last summer, what with the capstone to Nolan’s Batrilogy and the resounding success and not-at-all-the-bloated-corpse-floating-in-the-East-River-we-thought-it-would-be that was The Avengers, I barely had enough time to explore the finer dining options on offer. Granted, for a city with as many damn hipsters as Chicago, we have the same number of art-house movie theaters as we have insane midget mayors (meaning: one). Thus, it is difficult to consume the delicacies offered by the independent cinema scene. Well, I eventually got my hands on this little ditty and I gobbled it up like Augustus Gloop after finding a Fruit Roll Up Moebius Strip. And, might I say, it was delectable. Beasts is an almost Grecian epic limited only by its impossible imagination. The performances are impeccable. The direction is manic. The script is borderline nonsensical. But the package is so much more than simply the sum of its parts. You might not understand why massive pig-boar-elephant things came out of Gulf of Mexico, and you might not get why Hushpuppy hangs out with a stripper she calls ‘mom’, or why she was named after a harshly unfashionable shoe. But it doesn’t matter. The film is a sliver of perfection, a vein of platinum surrounded by igneous rock. One can smash the precious mineral free and purify it to mold it into any shape you please…but why do that? The impurities only make the product more beautiful.

Oh yes, and I included The Conjuring because I didn’t really want to make a category for “Movie Most Likely to Make You Need Another Pair of Underwear”. Wait…why didn’t I do that? What the fuck, brain? Get your shit together. Oh well. Maybe next year.

MOST PISSED OFF NO ONE WOULD GET DRUNK AND SEE IT WITH ME

Winner: R.I.P.D.; Runner-Up: After Earth

I bet those two were fucking blazed every second of that production.

I’m coming for you, mutherfucker. Drunkenly.

Well, this category is slightly different than last year. Last year, the winner of this category eventually came out from behind and won Movie of the Year. That’s right, fucking BATTLESHIP. It didn’t matter how much I whined and cried and showed up to people’s work unannounced with a fifth of Jack stamping my feet until security had to escort me out, nobody would see Battleship with me in theaters. And it was AMAZE-BALLS. This year, the honor is slightly murkier. The stage was set for the perfect outing. Huntsy, Erin and I were going to sneak in a few metric tons of alcohol and watch R.I.P.D. the ironically titled finishing touch the tombstone for Ryan Reynolds’ acting career. This movie, parading Jeff Bridges as a verbally deficient post-mortem law man and Reynolds trying desperately to hang onto his lasting relevance, was apparently so fucking bad that they pulled it from theaters AFTER TWO WEEKS. The three of us were going to do a special episode of Whine and Cheese where we snuck into the bathroom to review sections on our phones. However, lo and behold, the movie was R.I.P.peD. from under us, like a tablecloth at a magic show. And so, we were lost, floundering, searching for answers, for hope, for Jeff Bridges sounding like Mr. Ed…thus, eventually, we watched Possession and almost, literally, committed ritualistic suicide due to over-doses of G-Palt. So, I promise you, when that steaming pile of Reynolds excrement becomes available on the Red-Box or the Flix of Net or the fabled land of ‘Illegal Movies’ we shall, oh, we shall get trashed and review it.

Also, After Earth sounded agonizing. I love agonizing. Just like I love M. Night Shamalamadingdong. Did I say love? I mean poop on.

MOVIE SERIES THAT MOST MADE ME SEE THE LIGHT OF GOD

Winner: The Fast and the FuriousRunner-Up: The Cornetto Trilogy

 Do you see how unrealistic this movie is? It's only mildly cloudy in London. Bullshit.

It’s like a model call for douchebags!

Now, this was a shockingly difficult category. I see god a lot. I saw him in the finale of The Avengers; I saw the jolly fellow at the conclusion of Children of Men; I caught a glimpse of him when R. Kelly reveals the midget in Trapped in the Closet; and I’m definitely sure I see the altruistic old man every year at the mall with children on his knee. The guy in the red suit, that’s God, right? Anyway, this summer, perhaps more than any other, opened my eyes to true cinematic brilliance. No it wasn’t Citizen Kane or Metropolis. Nor was it The Godfather or Black Swan. It was, in fact, that metallic ballet of flying meatheads and automobiles that is The Fast and the Furious. After missing the lion’s share of the series (chapters 2 through 5, to be exact), I thought I would sit in the theater and be bored with countless tired inside jokes and character choices esoteric to the outside non-Fast non-Furious fans (The Slow and the Impenetrably Calm? The Stupid and the Rational? The Eat-Whenever-You-Want and the Not-Realted-to-Samuel-L-Jackson-in-The-Avengers?). What I witnessed instead was a panoply of genius; a nonsensically coherent parade of bombast and excess; a poem of such pointlessness and beauty that the Dada movement would fall down and weep at its feet. Yes, The Fast and the Furious changed my life. Now, will I go back and watch all of them in a row? Most likely. Will I film my reactions? That is also very likely. Will I be a haggard inebriated mess? Most definitely. But, most importantly, I will be first in line for the next installment if only to see Kurt Russell…but it won’t be for Kurt Russell, it will be for EVERYTHING.

The Cornetto Trilogy, on the other hand, brought me to enlightenment in a subtler manner. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s trilogy of British comedies, beginning with Shaun of the Dead and ending with the appropriately titled The World’s End, not only strive for the upper-reaches of hilarity, but have such a quiet underlying brilliance that the average movie watcher might not notice at all. From a literary stand point, The World’s End is practically genius. Like, Stoppard-levels of clever. It wasn’t something I noticed when first watching the film, but just read this article (spoilers within) to see how intricate the thought process was behind the film’s themes and references. Edgar Wright has always been a savant of referential humor, but this might be the first time that he trumps Joyce for his complexity of allusions. Check it out. So, yes, dumb summer movies CAN be intelligent. And I don’t mean faux-Inception smart where people spend an hour and a half explaining a plot mechanic that everyone conveniently ignores for the remainder of the runtime. (Don’t get me started on Inception. It will turn into a rant within a rant within a rant within a…OH GOD. IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN!). I mean, like actually sensibly coherent. Well done, boys. Well done.

MOST BATMAN

Winner: Iron Man 3; Runner-Up: The Spectacular Now

In Marvel-land, RDJ holds the orgasms for the ladies.

RDJ was mad they didn’t cast him in Pacific Rim.

I understand the IRON-y of my choice with this category (see what I did there? Do you see? DO YOU SEE? I’m fucking hilarious). In fact, Mr. Downey Jr. was precisely the reason why The Avengers won the award for the most rancid of my negative awards, ‘Least Batman’, last year. His fast-talking, consequence-avoiding, playboy Tony Stark couldn’t have been further from the Dark Knight in all ways. Granted, he doesn’t have superpowers of any kind…and he’s a philanthropic billionaire who turns himself vigilante with his considerable finances…and he has to fight both competitors and mad geniuses…well, anyway, that’s where the comparison stops. However, in Iron Man 3, after The Avengers proved that there is an upper limit to ridiculous third-act finale battles, Shane Black took Stark back to his roots. With a few far-fetched plot points in hand, he forces Stark to use his considerable smarts to rebuild his weaponry using nothing more than house-hold appliances. The effect is brilliant. Finally, we feel as though RDJ might be in actual danger, seeing as he doesn’t have his super-invulnerability-do-everything-swiss-army-knife suit at all times. He even begins feeling remorse and darkness for things that happened in previous movies. AND HE FIGHTS TERRORISTS. If this ain’t Batman, I don’t know what is. Unless it’s actually Batman. Because that’s pretty Batman. You know what else is completely Batman? This tie-clip:

My girlfriend is better than your girlfriend. Because she makes my tie Batman.

The runner up in this category doesn’t have an article attached for various reasons that will be discussed soon…but The Spectacular Now is the tale of a kid who barely has parents, spends his time wooing a girl and trying to figure out his life. Parentless kids? What’s more Batman than that? OTHER THAN MY FUCKING TIE CLIP. So, yes, you want to be Batman? Kill your parents. Become a billionaire. Or…more simply, GET MY TIE CLIP.

LEAST BATMAN

Winner: Ben Affleck; Runner-Up: The Great Gatsby 3D

Yep. The Drunk Knight himself returns.

Yep. The Drunk Knight himself returns.

Sigh.

I dreamed a dream of a world with JGL. When hope was high and movies worth making. I dreamed a dream Batman would never die. I dreamed that Zack Snyder would be forgiving. When I was young and unafraid, and Batmen were made and used and wasted. There was no bat-price to be paid. No Clooney unsung, no Kilmer untasted. But then the Snyder comes at night, with his dick as loud as thunder. As he tears your hope apart. And he turns your dream to Affleck…

I want to go on record here. I have no problem with Ben Affleck. His work behind the camera is nothing short of excellent. Each of his movies, Gone Baby Gone, The Town and last year’s Best Picture winner Argo deserve every ounce of praise they have received. However, I don’t know what it is…whenever he gets in front of the camera everything just…well…goes wrong. What was a funny and smart indictment of modern Catholicism in Dogma turns to shit monster way too fast. What was Pearl Harbor…well, continued to be Pearl Harbor. At least in Argo all he had to do was grumble and pretend that he’s hispanic (Tony Mendoza? Really?). Even in the trailers for his new movie opposite that juggernaut of thespian training that is Justin Timberlake, he looks about as charismatic as a forgotten, carved pumpkin on November 10th. Just…deflated. So, I don’t have too much beef with the Affleck. Worse Batmen have been cast (AHEM Clooney AHEH-HEH-HEH-AGH-I’M-COUGHING-UP-BLOOD-HEM). Worse directors have been hired (Fucking Schumacher!). But, I thought we were past this, guys. I thought we had reached the new age of the Bat. Nolan resurrected the franchise and turned it into something relevant. Passing off a franchise like this to Zack Snyder is akin to Robert Oppenheimer going up to Gomer Pyle and saying “Hey, I’m mostly done with the atom bomb. Why don’t you finish up?” All we’ll be left with is a smoking crater, and scorched earth. I have made my opinions on Snyder as a director on many occasion…but he has quite successfully earned his nickname “Dick in the Ear” each and every time. He is the fucking worst on every level. Man of Steel was rotting pile of penis. The concept of a sequel makes me nauseous. Like I just saw a rotting pile of penis.

The runner up is well earned in this, the worst of my awards. The Great Gatsby is perhaps the least Batman of all millionaires. He earns all of his money illegally…he does nothing but throw parties…and he dies by being shot. Yep. Nothing Batman about that. Asshole.

BEST MOVIE OF THE SUMMER I WROTE ABOUT

Winner: The World’s EndRunner-Up: World War Z

Has a beer every been so strong that it burns a hole in a fucking sign?

This is some epic poetry shit right here.

Clarification is required. These are not the two best movies of the summer. In fact, especially the runner up, the quality best known as ‘goodness’ has barely a tenuous relationship with this duo. However, these were the two movies of the summer that I enjoyed the most (that I wrote about). Since we as a society have had the surgical addition of our new iAppendages, the concept of not glancing at one’s phone every three seconds is akin to self-castration. Why would you do it? Therefore, we have become guilty of addiction. At least Google is doing half the work for us with its new G-glasses or whatever. We don’t even have to look away! Just through! Man, imagine what that world would be like if we saw the world only through the lens of Google. I mean, every time we tried looking for any information, we’d go through Google…or trying to find our way back home…Google might even invade our movies! Oh…wait…

Anyway, as I was saying, these two films succeeded in delivering the impossible. I didn’t look at my phone once. For World War Z it was purely due to early-onset rigor mortis, my knuckles white with tension as they practically ripped the theater chair armrests from their sockets. The World’s End, however, earns the top place on this, the second most coveted Mooney Award (after Most Batman of course) because the film kept me locked into its content at every moment. If I were to glance away from the screen for even a millisecond, I might miss a micro-joke tossed into the mis en scene, a line of such palpable hilarity that I might vomit at its very suggestion. Therefore, I held onto every ounce of that film. And, to be fleetingly sincere for one moment in my life, to let the real world melt away into a memory for a meager two hour span was more than I can ever wish for. There is no way to hit the off button on my near-schizophrenic obsession with movie construction, forcing my enjoyment of a movie to devolve into a clinical dissection of its moving parts. I could disappear into The World’s End. I only drooled over its detailed genius after the fact. For those two hours, I was in another land. A land of Smashy Smashy Egg People, pubs and big lamps fucking off. Bravo, The World’s End for charging where the trilogy had never had the impetus to before. Also, good job World War Z for not being the bucket of old elephant-taint we all thought you would be. Way to hustle.

Actually Best Movie of the Summer I Couldn’t Write About Because My Girlfriend Fell Asleep and We Never Got Around to Seeing it Again

Winner: Much Ado About Nothing; Runner-Up: The Spectacular Now

I don't know about you, but I ONLY go scuba diving with a full martini glass.

I don’t know about you, but I ONLY go scuba diving with a full martini glass.

So…Amelia and I have this chronic issue. We sleep. Hard. I’m not kidding. I’m talking as hard as John MacClane dies, we sleep. Maybe double that amount. When I sleep, it is more akin to rehearsals for decomposition than replenishing rest. I become an immovable lump of flesh. Seriously, and this is true, my apartment once began to burn down and my friends were unable to wake me to drag me outside. And then I burned to death. Well, not really. But you get my point. Over my travels through the universe, searching for a better (or, at least, pretty much equal) other half, I seem to have discovered the only human on planet Earth more likely to sleep through her own demise. When we went to see Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, both of us giggling with our virginal Shakespeare boners tucked discretely into our belts, Amelia lasted about twenty minutes into the 10pm showing before setting sail for the Land of Nod on the SS PTFO. I, however, engorged myself on the glittering and near-perfect micro-budgeted adaptation from the man who personally murdered cinematic subtlety with a sextet of muscled heroes. When we left, Amelia was furious. And I mean seven-levels-of-Inferno-pissed that she had missed it. As the dutiful boyfriend, and ignorant of the pains of immolation, I tossed some gasoline on that fire by exclaiming, “OMG IT WAS SO GOOD”. I was refused a chance to post an article until she had finally seen it. Well…time came and time went and that trek to the Century Landmark became a thing of wilted dreams. The stunted beginnings of my deftly crafted opinions were left gathering dust in my ‘drafts’ section, begging to see the light of the Internet day. So, here it is, what I have of that article:

Much Ado About Nothing (2012) – Joss Whedon (Dir.), Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker, Fran Kranz, Clark Gregg, Nathan Fillion, Reed Diamond, Jillian Morgese, Sean Maher, Tom Lenk

Oh the Century Landmark theatre. What a delightful place. This little gem, held aloft above the questionable antics of the AVEDA beauty school, a hidden sparkle in lodged in the bleached anus of Clark and Diversey, is the only ‘Art House’ cinema in the non-terrible sections of Chicago (aka, not downtown). This is the place where I have delighted in numerous filmic morsels, from the haunting and grotesque White Ribbon from Haneke to Aronofsky’s white-bitch-be-cray epic Black Swan to the endlessly charming Moonrise Kingdom, this place is the antidote to the poison that is the increasingly cyanic business of 3D/RPX/FUBAR BS subsuming all things of even tepid quality. As summer film puffs its chest and shrinks its testes, we are offered a cavalcade of mediocre bombast, a tidal wave of unnecessary spectacle with a rotten core. Scripts have devolved into a sort of See Spot Run anthology of idiocy, riddled with more stage direction than dialogue to the point that they might as well be adapted from a Beckett Play Without Words. Therefore, there couldn’t be a greater breath of fresh air than a minimalist comedy using words provided by one of the most beloved writers of all time. That’s right, Joss Whedon. I mean Shakespeare. Sorry. Shakespeare.

Much Ado About Nothing tells the tale of two barbed single friends who, whenever they meet, spend pretty much the entirety of the time raking each other through witty verbal brutality while their friends and family look on with more eye rolls than an optometrists bakery. Recently returned from a war where nobody died (yes, this kind of absurdity exists in the plays of Shakespeare), Benedick, Claudio and Don Pedro have decided to put away their swords and unsheathe their most sacred weapons during a month-long frolic at the house of Leonato in Messina. If you haven’t read the play or, at least, looked up the Cliff Notes during high school because you undoubtedly had to read this ‘problem comedy’ at some point, none of this will make any sense. Claudio wants to hump Hero’s brains out…by way of marriage and, while the wedding is in its preparatory form, decides to hook up the two insufferable wits, Benedick (Alexis “Husband of Alison Hannigan” Denisof) and Leonato’s cousin Beatrice (an excellent Amy Acker). It’s the original ‘Will They? Won’t They?’ Tensions run high as the booze flows fast. Will Don Pedro’s inexplicably evil bastard brother Don John break up the wedding? Will Benedick fall for Beatrice? Will Nathon Fillion show up at some point?

SPOILER ALERT: Read the fucking play, you illiterate swine.

Aaaaaaaaaaaand that’s as far as I got. But, believe me, I laughed harder at this film than I did during anything else this summer season. There is one line in the final scene that almost made me, a grown man, request an adult diaper. Honestly, you should rent this shard of literary excellence and cinematic nonchalance immediately. It doesn’t tone down, dumb down or Whedon down any of the play. Amy Acker offers perhaps the best female lead performance of the season because, well, it’s the summer, so women are more likely to be seen and not humanized.

The other pick is the enigmatic indie, The Spectacular Now. It was a good movie, viewed on a quiet evening in the throw-back splendor of the Logan Movie Theater. It’s a problematic drama, exploring teen alcoholism, abusive relationships, and the dangers of codependent young love. Perhaps one day I’ll get around to writing an article on the film, though it struck some fairly vulnerable nerves relating to the ghosts of high school past… I will say, throughout the length of this quiet and thoughtful treatise on dependency and addiction, Pacific Rim was playing at full tilt in the next theater. Every crash of metal, every riff of the guitar, every flash of pubescent and puerile vicarious obliteration seeped through the paper-thin walls and derailed the somber tension. It was a bizarre juxtaposition of the reality of teenager inner life versus the escapism that generally ensues. It was weird, unsettling, and helpfully distracting from this composition of misery that was The Spectacular Now. See it. Or don’t. But it’s the sort of movie that has a right place and a right time. Right now…it feels like a blade in the gut. But that’s what candy is for. There is no coincidence that I ended up seeing Pacific Rim a week later in that same theater. Escapism is a drug whose addiction is only society acceptable due to its epidemical prevalence. I’ll take another hit. Always.

Most Hateful Towards Women

Winner: Pretty Much Everything…; Runner Up: Did You Read the Winner?

That’s right. Once more the heightened temperature brought us the cavalcade of overblown masculinity harshly present every summer. Granted, we didn’t have a Michael Bay movie to smack us with the hard end of a dick, but we certainly had Man of Steel. It seems that, day after day, we are offered more movies that, if not outrightly despise women, carefully ignore their existence as though the entire gender is simply a Forest Whittaker-esque servant lining the rooms of our bombastic and adolescent power fantasies. They waltz into the spotlight only when needed, their entire presence only determined by the male characters who ‘need a romantic counterpart’. In fact, almost every film on this list failed the exceedingly simple Bechdel Test (a movie passes if two or more named female characters have a scene without men and are not talking about men). Why don’t we go down the roster of movies I reviewed and grade them accordingly for how many women A) were in the movie; B) had conversations with people lacking penises C) worked on a movie. SPOILERS: the results are depressing.

This is how this award makes me feel.

The Great Gatsby: Okay, firstly, it’s a love story. It’s got Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker. Almost half of the five main characters are female. Not too bad. Does it pass the Bechdel Test? Nope. If so, then barely. Jordan and Daisy might have a scene together but seeing as it’s Tobey “Dopey” Maguire narrative, he’s always there, like your overbearing mother at a sleepover. Also, granted it was written in the 20s-30s, the main woman is merely an object of affection, unburdened by the onerous heft of things like a ‘personality’ or ‘dramatic agency’. Director? Male. Writers? All male (duh). Grade: C-

Iron Man 3: Eh. This one has a couple of female characters, one of them being the only time G-Palt is not nauseating to watch. Yes, there is a scene between her and another female doctor that technically knocks this into the ‘pass’ category for Bechdel. However, in terms of pure screen time, ladies barely have a second to themselves. This is about RDJ. This is ALL about RDJ. I appreciated the prevalence of female soldiers on the opposing team. That was nice. But, all in all, too little too late. How many male leads? 7. How many female leads? 2. Director? Male. Writers? Male. Grade: B-

Star Trek Into Darkness: Where the first movie made sure that Uhura was well-respected for her language abilities and her sassy attitude, here her essence is reduced to nothing more than a clinging-shrewish pain in the ass. She also only gets ONE chance to do the thing that she has been hired to do, you know, speak Klingon…and she fucks it up. It was probably because the blood rushed to her uterus too quickly saving her thinking organ from having to do too much work. Also, Alice Eve’s breasts are dropped into the movie. Why? So she can be in her underwear for no reason whatsoever. How many male leads? 9. How many female leads? 2. Director? Male. Writers? All male. Does it pass the Bechdel Test? Fuck no! Grade: D-

I wish I could have done this without a skull fracture.

Fast & Furious 6: Okay, this one is a shocker. Yes, this franchise is famed for knocking the testosterone levels up to 11 on all counts…but that goes for the ladies as well. We don’t have any weeping damsels in distress or floundering flaps of feminine flesh flaunted for their floopy bits. We have Gina fucking Carano punching Michelle Rodriguez in the fucking face. Does that mean it passes the Bechdel Test? HELL YES. A fist fight is a conversation, of sorts. And there ain’t no penis involved. Granted, the only adonis here who doesn’t manage to miraculously walk away from every auto accident unscathed is a woman…but that’s required for the ret-conned franchise reach-around that occurs in the final scene. How many male leads? 7. How many female leads? 4. Director? Male. Writers? Male. Still, it’s astonishing that the Fast and the Furious has set a higher bar for gender roles than Star Trek. Grade: B+

This Is the End: Um…do I need to say anything? Emma Watson shows up for like five minutes and the rest of the characters spend the film talking about dicks, semen, gay people, and pussies. Also, Watson is there for two seconds before someone mentions rape. Shudder. How many male leads? All of them. How many female leads? Do the math. Director? Guess. Writers? Really? Are we going to do this, guys? Grade: F

Man of Steel: Okay, this one, especially coming from the porn-addled mind of Zack “The Masturbator” Snyder, actually holds up okay. We have Amy Adams as an excellent version of Lois Lane, both confident and driven without anyone brandishing the dreaded ‘B’ word (and it ain’t ‘bunions’, people). Diane Lane is still as foxy as ever…though she doesn’t really get to do anything but be in trouble occasionally. Also…there’s that one bad guy Kryptonian Israeli lady. So…there’s some variety. While the rest of the meatheaded movie was about as intelligent as a passing of gas, the gender politics are not as abysmal as you’d assume. Does it pass the Bechdel Test? Perhaps. If so, then barely. There are no memorable scenes between female leads with Henry “I Want to Lick Him” Cavill being around. How many male leads? 6. How many female leads? 4. Director? So male I want to put him in a post host. Writers? Maler than Norman. Grade: B-

World War Z: Granted, the entire film is about Brad Pitt globetrotting, so any characters he meets are around for about five minutes before becoming zombie chow. However, his wife and daughters are essential characters as is his Israeli bodyguard. Now, if you want to say a two second conversation between mother and young daughter passes the Bechdel Test, go ahead. Otherwise, Pitt takes up too much film to allow any room for anyone else, gender aside. How many male leads? Well, like 2 or 10, depending on how you classify lead. If they survive longer than ten minutes, then it’s 2. How many female leads? 2-4 if you count children as humans. I don’t. Director? Male. Writers? All of them male. All 3000 of them. Grade: C+

Despicable Me 2: This is an odd one. We have the three little girls that Gru cares for, though, in this movie, they are about as essential to the plot as my little toe is essential to my sex life (not very, just to be clear). The only other female presences are Kristin Schaal’s bemusing and whorish crazy date lady and Kristen Wiig’s almost schizophrenic, incompetently ultra-competent spy. Yes, this is a cartoon so reality isn’t really under fire here…but come on. Do all the women have to be cardboard cutouts of humans? How many male leads? Between 5 and 2,000,000 (if you count the minions who are the real stars of the show). How many female leads? 5. It mildly passes the Bechdel Test when the girls converse after Gru has put them to bed. Directors? Male. Writers? Male. Grade: B

Pacific Rim: Oh lordy. After Mr. Del Toro’s excellent and lady-filled Pan’s Labyrinth, you’d think he would keep the trend going. Apparently not. Pacific Rim has as much vagina as a bachelor party: one, and it belongs to a lady who really doesn’t seem to want to be there. Yes, we get glimpses of that one russian lady…but Rinku Kinkuchi is the only lady in this massive expolathon. So, yeah, no Bechdel pass here, guys. Sorry. How many male leads? 7. How many female leads? 1. Director? Male. Writer? Same guy. So, yeah, male. Grade: D

My impression of me after Man of Steel.

The Conjuring: Finally! Something with some ladies! Yes, due to the frustration of being based on a true story, this little ditty had to fill its ranks almost exclusively with the woman folk. From Vera Farmiga to the eternally abused Lily Taylor, this is all-lady. Granted, those ladies get beaten, possessed, assaulted, scared and puked on…but this is a free country. Every woman has the right to be possessed by a homicidal demon witch from Rhode Island. It’s Susan B. Anthony’s dream! How many male leads? 4. How many female leads? 7. Director? Male. Writers? Male as well. Sigh. Grade: A-

The World’s End: Another poor showing. Yes, this tale of the journey through the darkness of male adulthood doesn’t have much room for the ladies. While intelligence throbs through the main artery of this piece, gender politics do not. We have c-words and b-words and p-words tossed out all over the place with impunity. Hopefully, soon, they’ll have the courage to include a few more X chromosomes in the proceedings. How many male leads? 8. How many female leads? 1. Technically, it passes the Bechdel Test…but a woman talking to lady robots doesn’t really count, does it? Director? Male. Writers? Male. Grade: D+

Elysium: Here is the oddest of the bunch. While there are only a few ladies in the mix, the lead enemy of the film was originally written for a man but then adapted to be female by none other than Ms. Filmic Gender Equality herself, Jodie Foster. Without her presence, this clattering, flashing, jumble of epilepsy-inducing trash would have been sucked up its own masculine asshole. It, again, barely passes the Bechdel Test when Jodie Foster tells the nurse lady to stop attempting to save her. Yes, one word. That’s all these ladies get these days. How many male leads? 5. How many female leads? 2. Director? Male. Writer? Male. Grade: C+

This is how this makes me feel always.

Isn’t it sad? Granted, those are only the movies I wrote about, but as a purely anecdotal cross section of modern blockbuster theater, statistically, this is a bad situation. Of course it’s fine to have a movie all about guys. That’s whatever. Yes, Glengarry Glen Ross is a thing. It doesn’t mean that those movies are diminished in value. The issue is the clear and painful trend that has subsumed all Hollywood filmmaking. Women are supporters. They interact with male characters. They help. The reason so many films fail the Bechdel test is solely because the main characters are almost exclusively male. World War Z is a classic case. No matter how many strong female characters he runs into, they are almost the ‘guest star’ of the act, never crossing paths with anyone in the past. The systemic issue is one that truly needs to change. It seems as though when a movie has a female lead character, it’s labeled a women’s movie and so dies the death of inanity at the hands of focus groups who assume they know what women like. What greater indicator of this plague than the fact that Snow White was adapted to make THE HUNTSMAN the main character? Seriously, guys? The only movie this summer that arrived with a plethora of X-chromosomes that was not considered a chick-flick was The Heat…which is fine…though the movie looked like nothing more than a by-the-numbers screwball comedy. Maybe ladies have to start with the shitty genres before working their way up the budget food chain. Oh well. Maybe next year I’ll make this list and the average grade won’t be so abysmal. Maybe it won’t. Maybe I’ll end up stabbing my eyes out during Batman vs. Superman. One can only hope.

Pacific Rim (2013) – Guillermo Del Toro (Dir.), Charlie Hunnam, Charlie Day, Idris “Charlie” Elba, Rinko “Chuck” Kikuchi, Burn “That is His ACTUAL Name; Also Charles” Gorman, Ron “Chaz, Chuckles, Charmeleon” Perlman

Jaegers vs. Kaiju. German vs. Japanese. It's like the opposite of World War II!

Jaegers vs. Kaiju. German vs. Japanese. It’s like the opposite of World War II!

I have a very tenuous and strange relationship with Guillermo Del Toro’s almost-pornographically eponymous epic of robots-battling-ocean-aliens, Pacific Rim. It has been years since the genius Mexican director (literally. IQ is off the charts) has been offered a chance to actually make a movie. Ever since Hellboy: The Golden Army, he has been flush with enough cinematic deals to make even Spielberg balk and, like Clint Eastwood’s erectile ability, his career has steadily deflated over the last five years. First it was Halo, the video-game adaptation that only the masculine-minded adolescent high-of-hormones and the verbally-flatulent begged for. That fell apart. Then there was The Hobbit. But, like some kind of Gollum, Peter Jackson kicked the hefty hispanic auteur from the project screaming “MY PRECIOUS!” and, like the Ring to Rule them All, it perverted something beautiful and delightful into a 3 hour tonally inconsistent J.R. Tolkcle-Jerk. Finally, Del Toro’s last attempt at salvaging what was once an Oscar nominated run in the Hollywood whore-dome, he was greenlit to adapt H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness with a $200 million budget, an R-rating and Tom Cruise. Guess which aspect of that fell apart? Oh, right, all of it. And so, the endlessly talented Mr. Del Toro has been wandering from studio to studio begging for work, a latter day Nikola Tesla, once a pioneer genius and now dying alone penniless in a New York hotel.

And now! Finally! He has returned! Pacific Rim uses up all of those pesky Cthulu drawings he did for the Lovecraft movie and transforms them into immense beasts labeled, according to the opening credits (sponsored by Merriam-Webnerd’s Dictionary), Kaiju. These things have come out of a dimensional rift in, you guessed it, the Pacific Ocean, and are gradually laying waste to the terrified citizenry of earth. To combat them, all of the nations of the world  came together (HA. Like that would ever happen) to build Jaegers, skyscraper-esque fully-loaded androids piloted by two people (I’ll get to that in a second). And that’s about it. I mean, there is a plot that extends past that…technically. But, in essence, it boils down to ROBOT SMASH. We have the deflated and utterly uncharismatic lead character, [INSERT WHITE MALE HERE] who is looking for a new co-pilot after his brother played by [INSERT ANOTHER WHITE MALE HERE] was killed in again, all the while butting heads with [INSERT YET ANOTHER WHITE MALE HERE]. Overseeing it all is Idris “If Morgan Freeman Ate Cigarettes” Elba, as the passionate and grumbly General (and this is not a joke, this is his actual name) Stacker Pentecost. Bang Bang from The Brothers Bloom (Rinko Kikuchi) shows up as the only character with even the most minute amount of depth and takes over as the emotionally questionable co-pilot for Charlie Hunnam, who you might recognize from shooting Julianne Moore in the throat during Children of Men (SPOILERS). Also, they find a feral Philly boy (Charlie Day), give him a medical degree and then link his brain into a Kaiju’s. Aaaaaaand no Del Toro movie is complete without Ron Perlman strutting in like some kind of heavenly pimp and shooting off the best lines in the fucking movie: “I’m Hannibal Chau. I took my first name from my favorite enemy of Rome and my last name from my second favorite Chinese restaurant.” People die, things explode, Charlie Day yells about things and the day is saved.

These are three of the leads. From left: Bland, Blander and Vanilla Ice

These are three of the male leads. From left: Bland, Blander and Vanilla Ice

How did this film come into being? The intrinsically cynical side of my movie adoration assumes that the studio meeting went a little like this: Mr. Del Toro, after months without work and eating nothing but stale popcorn and pasta with cheese, sat in the waiting room with the blueprint for a fantasy epic. It would be a tour de force, spanning both medieval and modern European history, pulling in mythology and thematic resonance from every possible culture, all coalescing into a beautiful whole before building to a thought-provoking and cathartic end. However, when he stepped into the room and, in moderately broken English, described what could be a latter day Jason and the Argonauts or perhaps a cinematic Ulysses, the executive, who, in my brain, is smoking a cocaine-laced cigar and his feet resting on an unpaid sex-tern (indeterminate gender) stops him mid-word and says, “That’s gay. Gimme something else.”

So, Del Toro, terrified he might have to return to his job of playing Michael Moore’s doppelganger at Bar Mitzvahs, looks around the room and says, “Um…how about…uh…robots…?”

Executive (chewing hemlock), “I LOVE IT. It’s like Transformers! Or Real Steel! Or Barbara Streisand’s face! Go on.

Del Toro, “And, uh, monsters…big ones…from outer…”

Executive (autoerotically asphyxiating), “Space? Boring. You’re losing me, SEÑOR.”

Del Toro, “From the ocean! And they fight! And the robots could be controlled by two pilots so that their dreams and memories are combined allowing us to explore…”

Executive, neck pulsing from an overdose of amphetamines, “IT’S LIKE POWER RANGERS THE MUTHERFUCKING MOVIE! WHY HASN’T ANYONE MADE THAT YET? TAKE ALL THE MONEY YOU NEED!”

Thus, Pacific Rim was born. Now, this may seem like I didn’t enjoy the movie. I did. Thoroughly.  It is, in essence, the culmination of a young child sitting in a toy box and smashing his plastic figurines about, a pint-sized wanton and ruthless god, torturing his minute Mattel minions. I was once that child. I was once the arbiter of imaginary obliteration for my army of defenseless Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joes, and Barbies…I mean, not Barbies. I didn’t play with Barbies. And they totally didn’t have weddings to the G.I. Joes with 21-gun salutes. And military soirees. And they totally didn’t role-play the “Your Husband Died in Action Fighting Teddy Ruxpin”, which would have totally won the Andrew’s Imaginary Playground Oscars if My Little Pony hadn’t developed ovarian cancer while dealing with a fucking divorce from the Care Bears. NONE OF THAT EVER HAPPENED.

I wish I had more friends growing up.

"WHY WASN'T I IN A LOVECRAFT MOVIE? DAMN YOU STUDIO POLITICS!" ~ rough translation.

“WHY WASN’T I IN A LOVECRAFT MOVIE? DAMN YOU STUDIO POLITICS!” ~ rough Kaiju translation.

Anyhoo. The robots are big. The monsters are bigger. The explosions are eruptive and might jostle your bowels. And yes, that little boy that lives inside of us all (not literally…unless you’re pregnant) gets to rollick and roil in the theater seats as big things go boom. Even though, in some misguided attempt at thematic meteorological metaphor or pathetic fallacy (literary term. Ask my mom) or just because it’s cheaper, every fucking battle happens at night and in the rain. Am I to expect it’s ALWAYS monsoon season in Hong Kong? I’m pretty sure they have daylight at least 14 hours a day, but that’s just me. This movie, in the hands of a novice or an idiot, could have been essentially Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla 2: Hong Kong Boogaloo. Del Toro ain’t slow. In almost every aspect of this thing, his quality and creativity seeps through, whether he wants it to or not. While the characters are about as interesting as the climax of Drying Paint: The Motion Picture and the script was most likely, at one point, scribbled on the inside of a bathroom stall during a particularly strenuous coke-hooker-and-ass triumvirate, Del Toro holds this thing together, delivering an exciting and compelling piece of schlock. It’s dumb. But goddamn is it pretty. As always, the art direction is impeccable and the creature design is fancy enough to make Ray “Harry” Harryhausen suffer incontinence (but then again, everything does. Because he’s old. Or dead. One of the two).

Perhaps the most bemusing and delightful aspect of the movie is its utterly incongruous comedic subplot following the man simultaneously voted Least Likely to Get a PhD and Most Likely to Electrocute Himself, Charlie Day, as he sprints through Hong Kong hunting down an intact Kaiju brain in order to discover the ins and outs of their hive-mind-based species. While blandy Mc-Vanilla-face (Charlie Hunnam) beats the shit out of Cloverfield with a fucking freighter, Day’s antics both provide a respite from the visual over-stimulation and illuminates the intelligence subtly humming under this movie’s surface. Del Toro, like most boys with proclivities of the comic-book variety, are no strangers to sci-fi world building. In fact, I would guess that his favorite part of any new project isn’t necessarily Spielbergian emotional manipulation, but the world-crafting essentials. I’m willing to bet that he has notebooks filled with the history of the Kaiju, the details of their societal structure, the basics of their biology as well as the history of the Kaiju war in its totality. I mean, come on, the guy defines words in the first frame. He makes up dumb terms like “Neuro-Drifting” and “Shatterdome”. No great sci-fi can ever be without nonsense word-copulation and this does not disappoint. This feels like a fully-realized conflict, rather than the ho-hum idiocy of the Transformer movies.

Charlie: "Awww man, I wish I got to wear a crazy costume like you." Ron: "What costume?"

Charlie: “Awww man, I wish I got to wear a crazy costume like you.”
Ron: “Costume?”

It is a shame, however, that Del Toro is reduced to the Hollywood sidelines. He is quickly becoming analogous to the scarily phonetically-similar Terry Gilliam. Del Toro demonstrated with The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth that he is capable of brilliant historic and magically realistic storytelling that resonates on a pure, human level. It’s no secret that some of that emotional subtlety was lost on Pacific Rim. There are flashes, however. Perhaps the most compelling concept hiding under the smash and boom antics is the concept of ‘Drifting’, where two pilots, incapable of controlling a Jaeger by themselves, need to link neurally to share the load. All dreams and memories are melded and, if the link isn’t stable, the two can be caught in a maelstrom of mental disarray. In these moments, Del Toro’s narrative abilities shine through, tiny rays breaking out of the overwhelming clouds of AWESOME. If there was anyone who could bring pathos to a tale such as this, it is that man. He doesn’t quite overcome the limits of the passable script, but he makes the thing, for the most part, coherent (Some of the fight scenes were more confusing than a badger on acid…but, full disclosure, I watched this after seeing Despicable Me 2 and brought enough booze for myself, my girlfriend and another friend but, after my GF fell asleep and my friend bailed, I drank all of it myself. So…that might have contributed to the bemusement).

I beg the Hollywood Idiocracy to grant Del Toro the chance to flourish as the great filmmaker he’s meant to be. He could make something great, something new, something timeless. He could offer children the next Star Wars or Indiana Jones. J.J. Abrams is proving himself to be the Zooey Deschanel of directors, pretty and intriguing, but you kind of get sick of the shallowness after a while. GIVE DEL TORO A CHANCE, HOLLYWOOD!

Unless they hate Mexicans for some reason. I mean, they let Robert Rodriguez stick his thumb up his ass, why can’t they let Del Toro do something good?

White House Down (2013) – Roland Emmerich (Dir.), Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, James Woods, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Richard Jenkins, Jason Clarke, Jimmy Simpson, that black guy from LOST, no, not that one, the creepy thin one, well, I guess he was in Fringe too, but I never saw that.

From the man who brought us Evil Shakespeare, Danny Glover as the US President, global warming chasing Jake Gyllenhaal down a hallway and Will Smith punching an alien in the fucking face.

From the man who brought us Evil Shakespeare, Danny Glover as the US President, global warming chasing Jake Gyllenhaal down a hallway and Will Smith punching an alien in the fucking face.

There are two ways to review this movie. Firstly, as the obsessive schadenfraude-loving schlock-queen I never wish to admit that I am; and secondly, as the shrewdly opined writer of screen reviews. There were a number of choices leading to the viewing of this sure-to-be-classic of the bargain bin. Perhaps the most impactful of all was that, in the spirit of the White House’s codename in IPA being Whiskey Hotel, I consumed what might be considered a Hotel California’s amount of whiskey in order to stomach all two hours. And boy, was it worth it. The secondary choice, which only made itself apparent the following day, was seeing this movie during perhaps the most celebratory Pride Weekend since the US government decided burning gay people at the stake isn’t really a good idea. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

So, what is White House Down? Oh so many things. Is it an action movie? Well, there’s certainly some action. Is it a comedy? I did laugh. A lot. Is it a political thriller? Well, it was thrilling. Political? I think this movie understands as much about US democracy as a two year old diabetic understands about chocolate milk. She likes it. She douses herself in it. However, after a little too much, she starts shaking and needs to be taken to the hospital. In the end, as I shambled from the movie theater, my friends hooting and hollering with glee at this giddily flamboyant pastiche of horrendous cliches mashed together into some kind of nauseating and soul-consuming patriot-paste, I had no earthly concept of what I had just witnessed. Whatever this movie might be, there is one unmitigated fact resting at the center of this mind-bending maelstrom. It is a film by Roland Emmerich.

What’s the story? Well, there’s this fellow John McClane, I mean, Who-Gives-a-Fuck-Please-Just-Take-Off-Your-Shirt-Because-We-Know-It-Will-Happen-Eventually or, as you may know him, Channing Tatum. He plays a New York cop bodyguard to the Speaker of the House who is trying to become a Secret Service agent and simultaneously gain back the trust of his estranged wife daughter by hanging out with her at Nakatomi Plaza the White House. However, due to our hero being in the wrong place at the wrong time, terrorists take over and, with a computer hacker, a crazed madman and Alan Rickman James Woods (who looks as though a bald eagle took a shit on his scalp. Seriously, what’s with old dudes with terrible crewcuts in movies these days? First Sam Shepard then this? When I hit sixty, will I suddenly be overcome with the insatiable need to make my head look squarer than a geometry student’s wet dream?) they attempt to force Mr. Takagi President Schmarak Schmoschmama to open his vault the nuclear football. What follows is a frolic through the fields of excess so excessive you’ll have to excise it from your exithole before you leave the theater. But seriously, this script was basically the presidential Mad Libs of Die Hard. Beat by beat, it steals from possibly the greatest contained action movie of all time. From the ‘hiding above the elevator’ technique, to the scene where McClane, I mean, Channing “Sounds Like a Potato Dish” Tatum has to kill the terrorists on the roof to stop them from blowing up a helicopter. They even have a section where a tank is blown up with an RPG before it has a chance to ram into the building. I shit you not. However, I will admit, if you’re going to steal, steal from the greatest.

Oh yes. Maggie Gyllenhaal is in this, basically channeling the scene where she gets blown up in The Dark Knight...just more boring.

Oh yes. Maggie Gyllenhaal is in this, basically channeling the scene where she gets blown up in The Dark Knight…just more boring.

All of that bellyaching about the script has little meaning, however. Because, whatever this crapfest was on the page, is was turned into something else when it fell into Roland “Yes, He References Blowing Up the White House in a Previous Film He Directed IN HIS OWN MOVIE” Emmerich. Now, this is where the Pride Weekend comes in. I’m not sure if it’s okay to call Emmerich ‘King of the Gays’, but he has to at least be Archduke of the Gays. While Michael Bay might spend his Herculean and Dionysian efforts visually molesting his onscreen hotties and thereby frying our braincells in the process, Mr. Emmerich is up to something slightly more subversive. While he isn’t necessarily overtly misogynistic on the same level as, say, Mr. Bay, Emmerich rarely populates his films with too many women because, honestly, who needs all those jiggly bits flopping about? (I imagine Emmerich attempting to bat several double D boobies out of the way with an expression of deep concern and dread). This is a straight man’s movie, by all outward accounts. There are no obviously gay characters. There is no blatant homoeroticism a la 300. Rather, the flamboyance exists in every frame, subverting expectation at every turn. It’s as though Emmerich is making a John Waters film without any of the actual words or characters or things that happen in them. On paper, pretty much everything is blander than a bottled water tasting, but Emmerich ramps up every dial possible. In the aforementioned scene with the helicopters, when Delta Force is inevitably shot from the air, the soldiers falling from their ropes in slow motion look more like an aerial dance display than highly skilled killers falling to their fiery dooms. You’d think tumbling to their deaths they would lose some balletic grace, but not in an Emmerich film. And, not to give away the ending (I’m totally about to give away the ending), instead of Channing Tater Tots simply shooting James “He’s Always the Bad Guy, Why Would You Expect Anything Else?” Woods in the face with, you know, a regular gun, he obliterates him with a fucking gatling cannon after running him over with the president’s car IN THE OVAL OFFICE. I kind of wish we could go back in time and make this entire film with Divine instead of Chandra Taterskins. But, alas, we cannot. Yet…

"Careful, Mr. President, there's Deadmaus in there. Watch out for douchebags. They'll fistpump you into oblivion."

“Careful, Mr. President, there’s a deadmau5 rave in there. Watch out for douchebags. They’ll fistpump you into oblivion.”

While Emmerich’s other movies might be more epic than a bro’s night out after accidentally stumbling into Skrillrex’s coke-wagon, this one looks as though his budget was about as thin as my patience. It was so cheap that it seems he wasn’t able to hire a fucking cinematographer (the lighting is about as dynamic as a Mitch McConnell Comedy Tour) or more than three sets (ninety percent looks to have been filmed on green screen, while the other ten percent was probably filmed in Emmerich’s sex cauldron home). Emmerich does what he can with what he has. From a road-runner-esque chase in the presidential motorcade on the White House’s back lawn to the necklace of grenades Chapstick Tattletale gives to the unfortunately visaged Jason Clarke (the man looks as though he cut off a baby’s face and stapled it onto his own, Hannibal Lecter-style), to Jamie “Why Does he Have Two X’s In His Last Name?” Foxx playing what I can only assume is Black Bush from that one Chappelle Show sketch (the Blackest President Ever actually says ‘Get your hands off my Jordans’), Emmerich milks this sucker for all it’s fucking worth. I mean, the insane white supremacist’s name is ‘Killick’. Like…come on. Come. On.

"I wonder if now there's an African-American president we have to call it the Black House." ~ Channing Tatum: thoughts.

“I wonder…if now there’s an African-American president, do we have to call it the Black House?” ~ Thoughts by Channing Tatum.

It is an interesting juxtaposition for me. Having inundated myself with political commentary of late, from the Daily Show to Armando “Best Name Ever” Ianucci’s brilliant Veep to the blahfest that was House of Cards, the US government is slowly making it clear that nothing can get done in this fucking country. From Congress to the Senate to a lackluster President, this country is becoming a paragon of agonizing inaction. So, thank you Mr. Emmerich, for shoving about thirty tons of TNT up its butt and giggling while you light the fuse (side note: due to the obvious snub by the destruction of Congress in Mars Attacks, Emmerich gets his own back by obliterating the mutherfucker. Take that Boehner!)

It is not a good movie. It is a great one. It is not skillfully made. It is greatly made. It will make you giggle every second it is playing, whether or not it’s intentional. And, I think, for Emmerich, it was. Why not make fun of gross hetero-male power fantasies by reducing and ridiculing? Also, way to make Obama seem like some kind of rap artist. I get the distinct feeling that Foxx probably thought to play President Sawyer as more Morgan Freeman than Kanye West, but ‘The Roland’ had other plans. At least it isn’t as racist as Transformers 2. I mean, what can you expect from a German dude who loves America more than he loves stuffed zebras? Well, he doesn’t love America that much.

Prometheus (2012) – Ridley Scott (Dir.), Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba

You could have been the one…

DISCLAIMER: This article contains spoilers. Big ones. I’ll let you know when they’re coming. I promise. I don’t usually give this disclaimer, so you know I’m super cereal right now. Super cereal.

To begin, here is a dramatization of my experience watching Prometheus.

I’m at a party. Drinks are flowing. I know a girl is here. A girl I’ve been dying to meet for ages. I’ve seen her photo on Facebook. I know her parents, both incredibly smart and famous. Everyone and everything tells me we’re going to hit it off. Love of my life potential. Sipping some shitty keg beer, I spy her across the room, gently twirling her gorgeous hair. She’s alone, looking into the crowd. I’m sweating around the neck. Under the arms. I’m a fucking mess. Like a champ, I toss in an Altoid and take the plunge.

“Hey…I’m Andrew. You’re Prometheus, right?”

She smiles. “Hi! It’s nice to meet you!” God, she’s beautiful. Everything I could ever want in a girl. Hits every button.

“I know your parents. Your mom, Alien, is just amazing. Her work on expanding concepts of gender stereotypes as applied to space travel and science fiction artistic design is unparalleled.”

“Oh my god, I know, right? My mom is amazing. I want to be just like her.”

We both drink. It’s going well. She’s smiling. “So, what are you studying here?”

“Comparative religion.” The music is loud. We’re shouting, but we don’t mind.

“That’s so cool! Any particular focus on anything?” Her eyes…oh god, her eyes.

“Yeah! The meaning of life and where we came from.” God she’s incredible. I want to put my mouth on her mouth and do the dangerous tongue dance.

“And where do you think we came from? Are you a creationist? Deist? What?”

“I think we come from aliens.”

I pause. I drink. The little Mooney gets a little less excited. “Oh…cool. What do you mean by that?”

“Well…like…we come from aliens from outer space. They’re like gods, but not. They’re aliens.”

“Sure. I could get down with that. But who created those aliens?”

“Other aliens. Or maybe…maybe…the same aliens. Think about that.”

I finished my drink. I really need another one. “That’s really, um, really interesting. Do you have a background in molecular biology? Or chemistry?”

“No, no, no. I suck at science.” She laughs. She snorts. I laugh too. There’s a silence. A really, really long, ball-shrinking silence. “So…you wanna go make out?”

I sigh. I look at my watch. “Sure. Why not?”

Look how pretty. Just look…

Prometheus was meant to be my savior. A taut, intelligent sci-fi blockbuster sent by the gods to elevate the summer movie-going existence to a higher plane, to wrench us from the jaws of such shit-shows as Battleship and Abraham Lincoln: Super Serious Broody Vampire Hunter. However, just as Elizabeth Shaw dives into the darkest depths of space only to come up short, so did I. Instead of a god, I just found a collection of Popular Science headlines stuffed into a pretty package. And it is pretty. Holy god. See this bitch in 3D and drool, mortals. For Ridley Scott will fellate your eye-testicals with such delicious skill and fervor that you’ll have to hold yourself back from making out with the screen. But, for all of its beauty, this thing is dumb as rocks. It tries, it really does. And it fails. Not spectacularly. Most people will leave the theater thinking “Huh, that was cool.” But they’ll be left unsatisfied, like a meal of greasy sweet and sour chicken. Tasty and empty all at once. A spiritual and emotional carb-fest.

This is really two movies. The first half and the second. While the former is blessed with imagery of space that would make Neil DeGrasse Tyson wet his schoolgirl panties as well as psychological and metaphysical potential, the latter is a mess akin to the aftermath of a locker-room icy-hot taint-smearing contest. It’s as though the screenwriters got to a certain point, a well-ordered, clever script in hand…and then suffered a painful bout of plot-hole exploding diarrhea. I’ll get to that latter in the aforementioned ‘SPOILERS’ section (see, I’m warning you like a good boy).

Noomi’s sex face. Bitch is hardcore.

What makes this whole experience all the more agonizing is that there is so much going in its favor. The centerpiece of the film is David, played divinely by Mr. Michael “If I Were Gay…Hell Even If I Weren’t, I Would” Fassbender. As with all movies in the Alien franchise aside from the two sorely underrated and extremely well-made AvP mov- (okay, sorry, couldn’t keep a straight face. Fuck those movies), Prometheus includes a ‘synthetic being’. Now, Alien first introduced the concept of a less-than-benevolent robot causing human deaths. Aliens capitalized on Ripley’s fear at first, but subverted it by creating cyborg-Jesus, Mr. Lance “Hey, Is Anyone Hiring?” Henriksson, the nicest android on the seven space-seas. Prometheus goes deeper and darker. David is a conundrum, left to his own devices for 2 years while everyone else takes a nap that induces puking upon awakening. We’re given a five minute montage of this physical oddity of a being wandering around the spaceship alone. It is, hands down, the most compelling stretch of cinema this movie has to offer. David is complex beyond belief, a slave and a teacher at once, homicidal (sort of) and a savior, daddy issues, soul issues, people issues…all the while coming off as the perfect gentleman. I haven’t seen a physical performance from an actor like this in years. Fassbender, I will have your babies. Meaning…when you have some, I will steal them and breed them to be a super-race.

For a sci-fi film, we’ve got some hefty acting chops on offer. Like, prime-cut, nubile, slaughtered lame chops. Charlize Theron (my future wife, along with Eva Green) is icily sexy as hell and unrelenting in her corporate bitchiness. Idris Elba, the result if you put Tyler Perry and Samuel L. Jackson through a talent juicer, is wonderfully charismatic as the ‘I don’t give a fuck’ captain. Even the no-names on offer do it up, classical-style. Of course, the counter-point to Fass-I love you-bender is Noomi “Chick With A Dragon Thing” Rapace. I am so glad she’s escaped the event horizon of character stagnation that could have so easily sucked her into the black-pidgeon-hole, a place riddled with the corpses of Matthew “Ferris Bueller” Broderick and David “Baywatch” Hasselhoff. Her performance, through all the shit she has to do, is visceral and immediate. Everything you could want in an attempted body-space-horror classic. I want to see her more. And everywhere. Get on it Hollywood.

For the first hour or so, we’re bombarded with textual titillation, thematic fertility, emotional anticipatory foreplay. They sow so many seeds that it could have blossomed into a veritable rainforest of fanboy/intellectual brilliance. We have the juxtaposition of the human search for their ‘creators’, while relying on the help of their created David, a sorely disenfranchised and neglected child of the new age. While the scientists put so much work into ‘why do we exist’, David asks the same question only to be offered: ‘because we could.’ We get the conflict between creationism and darwinism, both sides arguing that the discovery of creators will discount the other. We’re given a haunted-temple, filled with the corpses of ancient super-beings, severed heads and a forest of pods reminiscent of the egg farm in the original Alien. Things get creepy and violent after a long first act and Mr. Scott gives us one of the most breathtaking sandstorms ever seen on film. So what goes wrong? Well, Damen “Blue Balls” Lindelof worked his magic he must have learned on Lost and fucks it up royally. Every single theme is reduced to its basest form. Ridley Scott did everything right, other than his creature design. It’s a feast for the eyes, if not for the mind. The acting, cinematography, scenic pacing and lighting is all pitch-perfect. If only the whole thing made some goddamn sense.

Noomi after her audition for The Fifth Element. Luc Besson is hardcore.

Alright, those of you who have not seen it, I’ll meet you at the bottom. For the rest who sat through it, join me down Rant Lane. So, without further ado:

*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*

Alright, now the uneducated riffraff is gone, let’s talk. Fill up your glass, get comfortable. It’s gonna be a hard one. What goes wrong? Well, the most inspired moment in the entire film, plot-wise, is when David infects the unfortunate Holloway with the Venom-Evil-Super-Human juice. Shit was getting realer than fag-hag night in Boys Town (I don’t think that’s a real thing, but it should be). The movie derails itself entirely when Theron turns Holloway into a man-sparkler. Yes, we do have Noomi Rapace’s super-cool self-cesaerian…but what came of it? A shitty little squid, anus-monster? That’s all your monster-department could crap out, Ridley? You gave the world the face hugger. Not only that, but Noomi cuts herself open, stitches herself up and then gets back to it. There are no fucking repercussions. If she didn’t wince every time she did anything, I’d have forgotten the whole creature in the stomach thing even fucking happened! Even when she figures out David intentionally fucked with her…she just kind of accepts that. WHAT? Another thing, why couldn’t we have two real characters stuck in the evil-temple overnight to fight the space worms, not just evil-Shakespeare-with-Hipster-glasses and Brit-Hick-9000?

Also, who the fuck thought it was a good idea to cast Guy Pierce as a dude who’s a thousand years old? AND why did his face look like a fucking whale’s vagina? I have questions, Mr. Scott. At that point the film splits into 3 parts. We have the old dude trying to become young again, along with some serious Oedipal undertones…the creation of a new race of aliens running about a spaceship…AND a random-ass zombie movie. I’m sorry, when the British Hick dude returned after his pretty sweet death at the hands of the cobra-penis-worms as super-zombie, I almost threw shit at the screen. He comes in, out of nowhere, kills a bunch of red-shirts, and then gets his shit wrecked by Idris “Stringer Bell” Elba. What the fuck was that? Not only did he look like brainiac dumped in retard-juice, but the scene had no consequences. It happens and then it’s over. There was no fucking point.

Finally, we have the middle finger to the fans hoping for brand continuity. I’m sure if they just thought having the ending mirror the beginning of Alien was just too hard, but anyone, ANYONE who remembers Alien clearly recollects that the ‘Space Jockey’ is in the pilot chair with a hole the size of a chestburster. In this movie, he ends up in the ship way out of the way and his entire chest cavity has opened up. Come on guys. You’re smarter than this.

In all fairness, the concept that we inevitably wish to destroy that which we create was pretty interesting. They simply didn’t do anything with it. The motivations of the ‘engineers’ was beautifully unclear until one of them woke up and turned into space-Michael Myers. The prospect, though, of a sequel Prometheus 2: Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender’s Head Adventures in Space! gets my balls a little wet. Well, a lot wet. Drenched with fanboy orgasmic potential. Make it so, Mr. Scott. Make it so.

*SPOILERS OVER*

Yes, this is what British people actually look like when you deprive them of tea for longer than 48 hours.

So, what are we left with? Something beautiful. It’s not as mentally deficient as most of the cinematic sludge out there…but it could have been so much more. Like Inception, it could have redefined the blockbuster film. Instead, it succumbed to the same cliches, smearing itself with predictable fecal matter like a toddler left alone in a bathroom. It gives us great performances, even one that might be remembered. Otherwise, this is another Avatar, ultimately forgettable. You could have been so much more Prometheus. You could have challenged. You could have questioned. Instead of being the love of my life, you’re a fling. You’re a one night stand. As I lie awake in the bed, thinking on everything you said, everything you promised and how it simply won’t be fulfilling, I pull my arm away, crawl back into my pants, lying creased on the chair, and sneak out the door. I glance back one more time, holding onto that fleeting hope that I’m wrong, that you actually were everything I wanted…I simply had no idea what my deepest desires were.

And then I remember that fucking part with the super-zombie.

I turn away. I leave. There isn’t going to be a second date.

by Andrew Mooney

The temperature is rising. The rains are coming. The sun isn’t being such a dick anymore. Puxatawny Phil lied to us. As Ned Stark wouldn’t say: Summer is Coming. We know it comes every year and, no matter how much we think we can prepare, the result is a vomitous mess of wasted celluloid and fried neurons. We no longer measure summers in lost loves, days trickling away on the beach and road trips. We measure them in blockbusters, Twizzlers and jumbo buckets of popcorn, monstrosities we know are going make us want to throw up and yet we keep coming back for more because…because it’s free refillsIt’s free food! WHY WOULDN’T YOU TAKE IT?

Summer movie season will be upon us soon. As I practice how many Reese’s Pieces I can force down my gullet without purging, the parade of mediocrity that is the Summer Movie Preview begins its dirge. So what do we have this year? What films will play across our faces as we question what we are doing with are lives and why we’re not in grad school and, seriously, Tom Hardy has like a thirty pack, how is that even possible?

I have split the bigg’uns into four categories: Movies I Want to See, Movies I Will See and Hate Myself, Movies I Will See Drunk, and Movies I Would Rather Be Diagnosed With an Awkwardly Placed Fungus Than See. So…let’s get started shall we?

MOVIES I WANT TO SEE

The Dark Knight Rises

Bane? Bane! Hey, Bane! You forgot your mask! Hey Bane?

Alright, alright. Let’s get my fanboy panties out of Christopher Nolan’s butt and just come out and say it. I love Batman. Not just that he is an enjoyable character with intriguing flaws as well as equally complex villains to complement him. I love him. I want to be him. I always have. This is no joke. If he actually existed (that’s a begrudging ‘if’) I would attempt to steal his heart and force marriage. Perhaps by way of a faked pregnancy. I haven’t thought it through.  Thus, when Batman Begins charged its ways into theaters back in 2005, I was about ready to put a hit out on the New Yorker’s Anthony Lane when he declared it “Meh.” Meh? MEH? Batman is the night. You know what doesn’t give a fuck? The night. Because it comes, whether you like it or not, every night. They even named a part of the day cycle after it because it’s not-giving-a-fuckness hit such levels of magnitude, it had to be respected.

So, there is this movie. I still get hot flashes when I think about the truck chase in The Dark Knight. Granted, the trailer for Rises had some…odd stuff in it. And I still have not forgotten Ken Watanabe’s hilarious accent in the first one. But seriously, on paper, it’s like Christopher Nolan went into my dreams and took everything I have ever wanted in a film: Batman, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, my insatiable crush on Anne Hathaway in leather body suits and… Wait…that is my dream. Did Nolan…?

My god. He is the Master of Dreams. All hail Nolan.

The Avengers 

This poster is terrible, aside from Iron Man playing invisible basketball.

Alright Joss Whedon. You have my ear. Now give me something good.

The movie that instigated this re-scouring of classic film was actually one of Whedon’s. I saw Cabin in the Woods twice in one week. I loved it that much. Seriously, if you enjoy horror films like I do, go see it immediately. You will have a blast. Ok…so, now onto this 4-year marketing campaign in the making. This film better be fucking worth it otherwise I’m forming a fucking posse and we’re gonna ride into Hollywood and drag Whedon out by his ass. And then we shall brand him, on the rump, “Thanks for wasting out time. Jerk.” I know it wouldn’t really be his fault, but someone must pay.

Ang Lee’s Hulk was one of the worst pieces of fecal matter I have ever had the pleasure to witness at 30,000 feet. And, as everyone knows, all movies are 40% worse on a plane. That’s science. I vowed, then and there, that I would never see another Hulk movie. And then Ed Norton decided to take a career nosedive and 2008’s The Incredible Hulk was born. This time, 100% less credible! Well, I saw it. No, not because it looked good or that it had fine reviews, but because Robert Downey Jr. was in it for thirty seconds. I watched two hours of unrelenting mediocrity because of The Avengers. So, Whedon, you have been warned.

In all honesty, it looks kinda cool. Yes, the only interesting part of Thor is back (Tom Hiddleston, not Chris Hemsworth’s abs. Put it back in your pants, ladies). Yes, I get Scarlett Johansson in a cat suit…again. Yes, Jeremy Renner shoots a bow…or something. Whatever, he was in The Hurt Locker so he is infallible. Yes, Samuel L. Jackson yells (he better fucking yell or Whedon is getting branded). And of course Mr. Robert Downey “Just Dare Me to Give A Fuck, I Dare You” Jr. as Iron “The Nice Version of Batman” Man. I’m a teeny bit excited. And apprehensive.

Your move, Whedon.

Moonrise Kingdom

Have you ever noticed that every Wes Anderson poster is the same thing? Quirky people standing in a line according to height?

That’s a lot of cursive. Cursive is intimidating.

I’m gonna lay down some truth bombs. I am white. I am male. I went to liberal arts college. I believe I am legally obligated to love Wes Anderson. Of course, the budding hipster, yearning to escape my body every day I think to myself, “Which vest goes with this shirt?” shudders with restrained excitement at the thought of Wes “No Big Deal” Anderson committing a new image to celluloid. The love affair began with Rushmore, as it did for so many blossoming detentes of the millennial generation. It grew from a tryst into true, codependent adoration with The Royal Tenenbaums, had a sexy vacation with The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, lost the luster slightly trapped on a train with The Darjeeling Limited and then rediscovered the passion with the divinely-sent Fantastic Mr. Fox. As his similarly named counterpart traversed the Matrix in order to bring down the robot hierarchy, Mr. Anderson traverses human emotion to bring down our hearts. Aww. But seriously, if you like him, his movies are hilarious. If you don’t, well, you are probably a lot more fun at non-hipster parties than us.

I owe Anderson several life debts. 1) Fantastic Mr. Fox. My entire childhood development, if it could be blamed on any one person, was crafted by Roald Dahl. This book was perhaps may favorite of all. This is a movie, that no matter how crappy I feel, how lost, how tired, how depressed, I can switch it on and feel a wash of bliss subsuming my every doubt that, in the end, everything is going to work out. That is, until Michael Bay announces ‘Ninja Turtles‘. Head…about…to…explode… I mean, since Fox, whenever I really am feeling down, I think to myself “I wish I were Fantastic Mr. Fox”, because then I would be George Clooney. And Clooney is a fucking god.

2) He reanimated the jaded, bearded corpse of Bill Murray, siphoning that sarcastic Ghostbusterian brilliance into the bitter, distant father of humanity that he has since become. It’s incredible to see such a nice man act like such a brutal jerk, seemingly drunk at all times and finished with life. And yet, instead of murdering himself, he continues to trudge through each day, shooting down the young and sneering at the optimistic. His acting is amazing. Unless he isn’t acting then…well, I would certainly regret inviting him to my 21st birthday party.

This movie looks great. Surly Bill Murray? Check. Throwing shoes at Ed Norton? Check. Quirky, hipstomatic color scheme shot square in every scene? Check. Bruce Willis? Um…sure. Why not? Sometimes you need to invite the older kids to the party. It’s just polite.

Brave and Paranorman

Oooooh. Puuuurdy.

Now, it’s not really fair they don’t both get a section each, but I have pretty much the same thing to say for both. Brave is the newest Pixar film. Disney has been successful in convincing me that, no matter what happens, the world exploding, Mitt Romney becomes president, Newt Gingerich reaches the moon, one thing will always, always be true: Pixar films are amazing (unless the word Car is in the title). The Incredibles, Toy Story 1, 2 and 3, Wall-E, Finding Nemo and Up weren’t just formative moments in cinema for me…they reduced me to a weeping, giggling, spitting-up child, squirming with glee as I gobbled the rest of my Reese’s (I bathe in them. The love affair is that deep). I can count dozens of moments that took my heart and twisted it into a tiny ball of fear, anxiety, stress and longing before allowing it to explode out of my face in the manliest tears possible (given the situation of course). That being said, Pixar gets a pass. The trailer for Brave is beautiful…it has Scottish people in it. Yeah, the jokes fall a little flat and the story doesn’t seem as mind-bogglingly brilliant as their other stuff. But then, what did we say about Up’s teaser? Lawyered.

Worst. Metal band. Ever.

Paranorman, on the other hand, is from the same studio that produced Coraline a few years ago. Since growing up with those apexes of literary brilliance that are Wallace and his pensive canine companion Gromit, I have adored stop motion animation. Yes, I was that ass with a Nightmare Before Christmas poster in college. Also, I’ve been known to pop a boner or two for Neil Gaiman, on occasion. Coraline, though flawed as all hell (the second half devolves into a video game, essentially), it tickled every Roald Dahl bone in my body. And there are a lot because, after my accident when I was a boy, I found his grave and took several pieces of… I’ve said too much.

Paranorman looks fun. Zombies. Scary things. Imaginative stuff. In the end, it probably won’t be anything to write home about. But then we remember we have the Internet and everyone loves to write home about everything. So…yes, it will get written about.

Prometheus

Bask in its glory.

Ok, boys and girls, this is it. This is the big kahuna of the summer. I would like to believe that, if there were seven and two half words that could collectively drop fanboy panties through the outer crust of the earth, they would be: “Ridley Scott is making a new sci-fi film”. And then we hear it’s a ‘prequel’ to Alien. Thanks to George Lucas, the word ‘prequel’ is about as palatable as a UTI. Also, there have been so many Alien films and only two of them have been good. Lastly, Damen Lindeloff, a man whose name is synonymous with ‘Fanboy/girl Blue Balls’, wrote the script. At that point, I dusted off my hands, looked out into the sunset and declared, “I think I’m done here. See you all in hell.”

And then the trailer was released. Even with my best Clint Eastwood poker face (equal parts concrete, disgust and ‘wow this cigar tastes terrible’) disintegrated into something closer to a gelatinous mass of anticipatory euphoria. Michael Fassbender…Noomi Rapace…a soundtrack that seems deadly close to Inception’s…Charlize Theron…Idris Elba…ALIENS…CREEPY ALIENS… SCREAMING…IT’S IN MY SKIN…

I can’t explain the religious epiphany I had in that moment. If this movie isn’t good, I won’t be upset. There will be no posses, no branding of Scott’s heiney. Rather, I will sit in the grass outside the movie theater (let’s be real: tarmac) and weep. For Beckett was right. We are waiting for something that will never come. Something greater than ourselves. Something to give meaning to this universe and its backwards existence.

And that thing, of course, is another good Alien movie.