Posts Tagged ‘summer movies’

Elysium (2013) – Neill Blomkamp (Dir.), Matt “The Hippo” Damon, Jodie Foster, William Fichtner, Sharlto Copely, Alice Braga, Diego Luna

Short Circuit 3: Good Will Hunting

Short Circuit 3: Good Will Hunting

Guys. It’s my fucking birthday. As the earth completes yet another cycle about our solar celestial drain hole, constantly spinning and spinning like a piece of spinach that simply refuses to leave the damn sink, I step forth, or, rather, I step twenty-sixth into the future. Yes, the celebration of my not being dumb or unlucky enough to die in some sort of freak or genetic accident raged this weekend, claiming innocent livers like cirrhosis-ed trophies drowned in whiskey. After epic bouts of pizza, downing every fried delicacy I could force into my digestive tract without it hitting the emergency eject button, and passing out on my bathroom floor during a showing of Starship Troopers, my stalwart comrades of schlock film-going attended and enabled my every whim by joining me in a screening of Neill Blomkamp’s newest feature: Elysium.

And then I had a seizure.

Not really. But it actually felt as though I did. There was more flash and smash on screen than a mirror-wrestling match in the center of the fucking sun. Yes, Elysium, the newest and, if the box office receipts tell us anything, failing feature from a director smart and unlucky enough to earn necrotic labels such as ‘visionary’ and ‘genius’, thusly damning his works to a self-inflated death of recycled egotistical bullshit. I mean…that sounds harsh. But it’s true.

Elysium tells the tale of Matt “The Hippopotamus” Damon, an ex-con who’s just trying to keep his head on straight and, well, attached to his neck. Even if that head is shaved and makes the man look more like a hard-boiled egg than the prettier half of Matt-fleck (sounds better than Affmon or Matten or Bemon Maffdack – note to self: save name for terrible sic-fi epic). Unfortunately, due to the fact that everyone is poor, hungry and healthcare is distributed by creepy half-man-half-caterpiller nightmare-robots, his plan to not-die is doomed to failure. Thusly, after getting trapped in an irradiated room and told he’s going to die, “Cueball” Damon decides to storm the gates of the titular Elysium, a rich white-people paradise orbiting Earth. See, on Elysium they have these medical devices called “Magical Cure-all Get-Up-For-Fun In No-time” Machines or “MCGUFFIN” for short where, if you’re a citizen, all you have to do is lie down for about ten seconds and the thing etch-a-sketches you back to health. In order to break through the impenetrable missile defenses (which are, as inexplicably proved later in the movie, totally penetrable…kind of like licorice underpants) they must hijack the brain of a sleazy weapons manufacturer (William “I Was a Blind Guy in Contact, So the Title of That Movie Was Ironically Hilarious to Me” Fichtner).

"If you ask me about my shiny polyester suit one more time, I will stab you in the uterus."

“If you ask me about my shiny pant suit one more time, I will stab you in the uterus.”

In a spark of mind-bending coincidence, it turns out Fichtner has been planning with Jodie “The Pantsuit” Foster to create a program that will reboot Elysium’s systems and allow them to take control. Well, Damon inadvertently gets his hands on such sensitive material and decides that he’s going to make Elysium for EVERYBODY because, well, you know, there’s no such thing as limited resources. Oh yes, and to combat the cripplingly lethal dosage of radiation poisoning that is eating him from the inside out, Damon straps on a “Paraplegic Limitation Override Time-Helping Orthopedic Logistical Exoskeleton” or “PLOTHOLE” for short. What happens after that is a lot of punchy-punchy, blow-y uppy, smashy smashy, ow-my-eyeballs-hurt action along with perhaps the most bemusing performance of all time by Blomkamp regular and Teddy-Bear-cum-awkwardly-named-office-clerk Sharlto Copely.

Alright. This movie was enjoyable, to an extent. It wasn’t, however, nearly as deep nor as intelligent as it purported itself to be. Blomkamp gained fame after his aborted attempt to bring the utterly pointless film adaptation of Teenage-Boy-Power-Fantasy Halo to the silver screen and instead took about 30 million dollars of Peter Jackson’s money and made the exceedingly excellent District 9. His experience growing up in Johannesburg during Apartheid has drastically and rightly skewed his perspective of haves and have nots. He sees the world in dichotomy, one very much linked to the color of your skin. For Blomkamp, he was used to white people having and black people not. Now, this is not a unique experience, particularly in a city like Chicago or New York, though the social exclusionism of South Africa reached a fever pitch of detestable extent during that period of time. Throughout District 9 we are convinced that the bug-like grotesqueries that were the aliens had little more intelligence than your average coyote, all of them rabid, violent solipsists. However, as the hilariously monikered Wikkus Van Der Meer (Copely) transforms into one of their kind, the beings grow into a sympathetic and discriminated people. Granted, the end battle reduces the tale to little more than an ultra-violent Boss sequence in a video game, the build up excuses the digression. Eventually, we are given a surprising tale about repugnant creatures coming into a human and noble light. If you can handle swearing (I assume you can since you read this mutherfucking blog) and brutal violence, watch it. It’s fantastic. Even my mother, who said Pulp Fiction was little more than an extended smut video, thinks District 9 is one of her favorite movies.

"Hey man, even though your insides are rotting, this bad boy will make your spine incredibly overweighted. But deal with it, it's a plot point."

“Hey man, even though your insides are rotting, this bad boy will make your spine incredibly overweighted and would most likely cripple you. But deal with it, it’s a plot point.”

Regrettably, where District 9 succeeded, Elysium fails. Once again, Blomkamp has taken the honorable task of exploring a modern day political conflict and examined it in the light of historicization (or futurism or reverse-something-or-other). This time? The one percenters. Fuck those guys. Oh yes, and healthcare. Well, race is definitely still there, but certainly resting in the back seat like the quiet middle kid who knows it’s probably best to let the newborn cry and the eldest pitch a fit about not getting to spend the summer with her boyfriend and if only she would shut up the drive to Phoenix won’t be quite so goddamn agonizing. I’m not sure what just happened. Let’s move on. Anyhoo… Once again Blomkamp brings his infinitely precise eye for detail to the environment and artistic direction. The clothing design is simple and poor. The technology is, when not concerned with weaponry, believably basic. The future for him is not a pristine place. It’s dirty. It has graffiti. On EVERYTHING. He also focuses on making sure that the future is multi-national, his characters sporting more accents than the Swiss Linguistics and Polo Team (that’s totes a real thing (no it isn’t (how many parentheses can I put in before it gets annoying? (like, at the end there are going to be so many parentheses stacked up in one place (did you know we call them brackets in the UK? (true story (what if I ended this whole thing with a colon, like this :))))))). That’s absurd. Anyway, we’ve got Jodie Foster masticating some form of Quebecois ridiculousness, every possible Cholo accent they could dig up from LA, and Sharlto Copely barking tones that make him sound like a mentally deficient pirate (it’s heavily backwoods South Africa and it’s unintelligible). Also, for fucking once, the majority of side characters in this film are non-white. Granted, they’re also gangsters, car thieves, violent potty-mouthed brutes. But at least they’re not caucasian. Even an Indian fellow manages to work his way onto Elysium as the President. He’s the only one though. Fucking white people.

Unfortunately, such specificity of universe doesn’t necessarily extend to the script, where almost every plot decision is a facile as a fax machine (get it? Facsimile? SAT joke? No? You plebs) and the dialogue carries about as much gravitas as a toddler with a fucking crayon. Due to the plethora of international accents and the seemingly improvised script, every scene devolves into a baffling shouting contest with more curse words than a Wicca Pride Parade. Seriously, these people have mouths so dirty, they might as well open a porno-orthodontist (Pornodontist!). Somehow, throughout it all, Damon demonstrates why he is the lost golden god of cinema. He is infinitely likable at all points, never allowing his charm or charisma interfere with the action, but always buoying him to the top of the ‘watchable’ pile. Most of the performances are passable, with Foster giving a steely show in a role written for a male (something she admirably excels at) and Copely acting nuttier than squirrel turds. Unfortunately, the script is riddled with more throw-away lines than a fucking fly-fishing convention. When you cannot understand a goddamn word coming from a character’s mouth and yet you still know exactly what’s going on, you have to reevaluate your writing style, Mr. Blomkamp. Seriously.

"Excuse me, have you seen Ben Affleck? He has my Oscar."

“Excuse me, have you seen Ben Affleck? He has my Oscar.”

While District 9 did such a beautiful job of altering its audience before the 90 minute mark, this does little more than laud utopian and unrealistic ideals. What’s worse is that it crumbles into the same vicious mess as its predecessor…this time without the effective preamble. Honestly, though, I’m impressed with much of Blomkamp’s violence. Much like most of the artistic design and the gorgeously nasty CGI, it fits the world. He doesn’t give the gore a front seat like that guy voted Most Likely to Have a Woman Tied and Gagged in His Trunk, Eli Roth, but he makes it real and organic. Yes, a man is brutally dismembered by a railgun…but it’s more of an afterthought. It’s shocking, yet not titillating, as though it was filmed by a documentarian who had no idea what nastiness is coming. Such subtlety doesn’t follow with his camerawork. The child of the age of technology, Blomkamp employs every shaky-cam visual blending technique he can possibly think up to make the action more visceral. Well, it really only serves to make your viscera hurt. If only he could refrain from video-game-izing his climaxes, he could avoid the fist-to-the-face bluntness of the overall package.

Blomkamp’s eventual thesis is simple. Overly so. There should be redistribution of wealth and resources. Healthcare should be for everyone. The rich should give back everything. Okay…how…? Isn’t the fact that earth is an urbanized hellhole in the future due to overpopulation and lack of resources? By opening the doors of Elysium at the end (SPOILERS, but, come on, you saw it coming) they only serve to create yet another rock floating in space fully depleted of its production ability. No matter how many MCGUFFIN health devices they have…where does its power come from? Its cure-all magic fluid? Surely it isn’t infinite. These are the questions that, unanswered, nullify the impact of the message. They aren’t thought through. While District 9 is that clever asshole sitting in back, probably wearing a beret and carrying Nietzsche, who quietly argues with you until, by the end, he’s tricked you into arguing in favor of Nazism, Elysium is that airheaded freshman who yells at the class “EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE FREE THINGS ALL THE TIME. POSSESSIONS ARE MEANINGLESS!” Sure. That would be awesome. But healthcare isn’t infinite. We don’t have magical cure-all cancer-killing machines. We have grueling six-month courses of chemo-therapy, along with surgery, and oncologists, and surgeons, and MRIs and CTs and X-Rays and…(seriously, I watch a LOT of House). The dream of free shit for everyone is nice. It’s cute. It’s simply impractical. The difference between the two boils down to emotional vs. political. District 9 convinces the audience that, if they can change their mind about these cockroach creatures after 90 minutes, they can shift their preconceived notions about people of other races. Elysium says: we should have health care and the rich shouldn’t hide from us. Sure. I agree…but that’s the problem. Everyone watching will either brush it aside as idiotic or laud it as “exactly what I was thinking”. It’s nature as a self-aggrandizing power fantasy reduces its effectiveness to zilch.

"Yer fern oplem per facker." ~ Actual line of dialogue spoken by Copely.

“Yer fern oplem per facker.” ~ Actual line of dialogue spoken by Copely.

Blomkamp is a talented director. He needs a screenwriter. And he needs to avoid blowing things up for a little bit. You know…just for one movie. Just to see how it feels. Maybe then his fascinating ideas will actually break through rather than get stuck in the muck of explosive over-compensation and ultra-simplification.

Happy Birthday to me.

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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?

Despicable Me 2 (2013) – Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin (Dir.), Steve Carrell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Russell Brand, Steve Coogan, an adorable child, and the directors mumbling French gibberish

This poster is oddly illustrative of this movies utter lack of concern for anything other than the minions. And I'm okay with that.

This poster is oddly illustrative of this movies utter lack of concern for anything other than the minions. And I’m okay with that.

Inevitability is an odd thing. There are some choices that, though we avoid like some kind of bubonic plague, manage to follow us throughout our lives, dogging us at every turn, ready to infect us with pus-spewing boils. They become the emotionless body snatchers, one by one removing the populace from their willful ignorance and turning them into one of the horde. For so long I was the Donald Sutherland, the Naomi Watts, if you will, of this horrendous trend, this insidious reign of unmitigated mediocrity, this scattegorically-obsessed prepackaged product designed to melt the minds of children into a susceptible mush of malleable marketability. I am, of course, talking about non-Pixar digital animation.

Yes, ring the snob alarm, if you please. Douse me in two day old caviar and flat champagne. Perhaps beat me with a Prada bag, whatever you please. But, yes, I hold children’s movies in extremely high regard. Children are simultaneously the dullest and the smartest creatures to ever spread across the face of the earth. Their minds and imaginations are, for the most part, blank slates ready to be sketched upon. I firmly believe the media we consume from an early age directly influences whether that sketch on that slate is something more akin to a Rembrandt or one of those things that a 3 year-old hands you that looks like a sausage covered in hair and the words “tHis my doGG”. For example, while watching this movie, there was a child behind me who spoke almost every line of the film in unison with it until his father begged him to stop. He’d seen it once. Was this child Rain Man? Fuck no. He’s a child! I still have awkward sound cues and snippets of dialogue from The Nightmare Before Christmas branded into my memory. Children are sponges and, if they even half-enjoy something, they will gorge upon its contents like a rabid Furby.

That being said, in the most pompous fashion possible, I’ve been in an unadulterated love affair with Pixar since Toy Story 2. Not only is their animation and direction fucking amaze balls, but their stories and themes strike deep at the heart of myriad emotional trials and tribulations. We have the tale of an overbearing father learning to let go while his son realizes he isn’t as weak as he thought (Finding Nemo), how to let go of our childhood and pass it on to the next generation (Toy Story 3), the dangers of pollution and the friendship of cockroaches (Wall-E) and how to be a really fast car that talks (full disclaimer: I’ve never seen Cars). Basically, with a few hiccups ignored here and there (I probably won’t be seeing Monsters University any time soon) their record is almost immaculate, culminating with one of the most heartbreaking tales to ever be told in 10 minutes, Up.

Hey children, interested in a new way to use Dad's poorly guarded golf clubs?Look and learn!

Hey children, interested in a new way to use Dad’s poorly guarded golf clubs?Look and learn!

So, after years of poopooing anything digitally animated lacking the Pixar stamp, turning my nose up at such harrowing classics as A Shark’s TaleOver the Hedge, Shrek 4: The One with JT and Ice Age 12: Now With More Rappers, I finally gave in and watched Despicable Me. Immediately, it is riddled with symptoms of lackluster kids movies. We have a mainly R&B soundtrack put together by a talented and completely child-unfriendly artist (Pharrell Williams),  a celebrity cast that looks like the guest list to a Woody Allen Young Woman Appreciation Party (and all of them timidly accepted) as well as already dated, over-the-head pop culture references that no child would ever understand (there is a joke about Lehman Brothers. I shit you not. What child, Doogie Houser aside, knows who the fuck Lehman Brothers is? I barely do. Shit!) Honestly, Despicable Me was utterly charming, for the most part. Yes, the minions, spouting their French nonsense (is that redundant?) while giggling and blowing each other up is chuckle-worthy. And, okay, yes, I let out a ‘Ha’ when Russell Brand’s Dr. Nefario creates a Fart Gun after mishearing directions. AND HOLY SHIT, AGNES IS FUCKING ADORABLE.

Here’s my issue with Despicable Me: everything that isn’t the main characters. They spent a great deal of time and energy upping the cuddle-factor, making Steve Carrell’s Gru a sort of Beauty and the Beast-like anti-hero that, for all of his nefarious deeds, like that one magical hooker, has a heart of gold. It’s everything else that’s the problem. The plot concerns Gru trying to get a loan from a bank to pay for his plan to steal the moon. Yes. Loans were involved. I get hives when even considering the concept of higher level interest rates. How the fuck is a kid going to understand that? Meanwhile, the bank manager instead gives the funds to his pear-shaped son, a villain who tries, and miserably fails, to create his own catchphrase. Sorry, guys, in a world where we have “Yippee kai yay, mutherfucker”, “I’ll be back”, “Use the force,” “You shall not pass”, and “I drink your milkshake”, the phrase “OH YEAH!” isn’t going to cut it. Especially when those words are coming from the mouth of Jason “I’m Over it” Segel. The guy sounds like he rolled out of bed, lit a blunt, and hurriedly spewed every line of dialogue into a fucking dictaphone, sent it to the studio and cashed a check large enough to make my bank account weep with shame.

"Did Barney the Dinosaur just have an accident on your face, or are you just happy to see me?"

“Did Barney the Dinosaur just have an accident on your face, or are you just happy to see me?”

It was Shrek, that feast of anachronistic fairy tale oddities, that began this trend of inserting famous people into voice acting roles. Yes, we know why you hire Eddie Murphy. We have all seen Delirious (except me. I haven’t. Oops). We also know that, once upon a time, Mike Myers was a bankable talent (shudder). Even John Lithgow has a voice that make bowels loosen and widows faint. But Cameron Diaz? Her? The lady’s strength is her looks. Once you strip that away, all you have left is a tepid and grating personality. It’s like, why the fuck do you cast Taylor Swift in an animated movie? So you can make sure she sings over the end credits? You might as well just hire out a speech therapy clinic for the afternoon. At least those people know how to string words together. If you notice, Pixar never, never lists their cast over posters or the opening credits. Why? Who the fuck cares! Voice acting is a different beast altogether. Here’s something that will blow your noggin: Mark Hamill, remember him? Luke “What Happened to My Career and My Face?” Skywalker? You know what his meal ticket has been for the last twenty years? And I’ll give you a clue, it ain’t Lucasfilm royalty checks. He plays the Joker in the iconic Batman: the Animated Series. Yes, the fucking Joker. Perhaps the greatest incarnation of the character until Heath Ledger ate too many popsicles and covered his hair in bacon grease. Voice actors are voice actors. Why, oh why, would you pay money for Jemaine Clement to voice a minion, when all you’re going to do is mix it into oblivion to sound like all the other minions?

Well, after all that, why don’t we talk about Despicable Me 2? This time around, Gru has become a full-on single parent of the three orphans and left his life of villainy behind. However, there is a new threat to the world and he’s the only person the Anti-Villainy League (yep, no prizes for originality there) can rely on to discover who is behind a plot to create an army of purple, indestructible super-beings. By his side is the new and utterly unpredictable Lucy (Kristen “Sitting on the ‘Tina Fey Throne of Female Comedians'” Wiig) as a super agent with a penchant for being simultaneously completely clueless and infinitely resourceful. While his minions are being picked off one by one and transformed into a purple army of crazed Eraserhead impersonators, Gru and Lucy open a fake bakery (or fakery, thanks Weeds!) in the inaptly named Paradise Mall. From there, we have childhood romances, adventures with jam, an insane guard chicken, and dangerously-close-to-racist antagonist.

DO YOU SEE? DO YOU SEE?

DO YOU SEE? DO YOU SEE?

It seems that the charm factor has blown itself into oblivion once more. While Agnes isn’t offered too much of the spotlight (with the gigglicious exception of that one scene in the trailer with her and Gru), the focus is on the infinite stream of precocious minions and their increasingly bizarre and gender-bending exploits. Also, remember that fart gun? Yes, it comes back. They milk that puppy for all it’s fucking worth. And, once more, the cavalcade of b-listers continues with the omnipresent Ken Jeong showing up for one bemusingly sexual scene in a wig shop and Kristen Schaal as an indestructible Barbie-doll during perhaps the most surreal and vestigial section of the entire fucking film. Let’s take a moment to go over it: Gru, while trying endlessly to avoid his neighbor’s attempts to set him up with a lady, agrees to go on a date with boobs-mcgee because…he has a wig now? And they go to dinner where Schaal proceeds to do one arm push ups and scream in his face (boobs everywhere) and then finally breaks into full rabid-nutso mode until Lucy shows up and shoots her with moose tranquilizer. The rest of the segment involves Gru and Lucy bonding over smashing the Rohypnol-ed vixen face-first into anything they can find. What the fuck?

Ultimately, the movie was fun. It was as deep as a claustrophobe’s spelunking threshold, but it kept the giggles coming. It was nice to see characters of other race in the film (the bad guy is a mexican wrestler)…though they all end up being evil. Also, it’s nice to have so many women on screen…though three of them are children and the last, Lucy, is about as mentally stable and coherent as Finnegan’s Wake on acid. Is she incompetent? Overly competent? A child? Obsessive compulsive? A manic pixie dream girl? But yes, there were dance sequences including a mildly subversive YMCA booty-break-down and the finale was both hilarious and secretly referential (World War Z, anyone?). All in all, my axe grinding shall halt a moment. I’ll place it on the ground and, perhaps, select a spoon with which to sup upon this light meal. It won’t last forever. It’s no Incredibles. Its imagination maxes out after ‘Three Stooges’ level horseplay. But, it’s a treat. It won’t give you a heart attack or diabetes. It’s harmless and delightful. And, for now, I’m simply going to willfully ignore everything from Pixar until The Good Dinosaur finally materializes in theaters. Let’s hope it’s a little more interesting than The Land Before Time 19: the Search for Spockasaurus. 

Summer Movie Preview

Part Two – Movies I Will See and Hate Myself

As Orpheus moved from the world of the living down into the depths of Hades, so too do we cross from the land of ‘interesting’ movies into the perpetual torment of ‘meh’. This is the section of the summer movie season that I despise for purely the reason that these films, if one can call them such, are not so much terrible as they are non-events. I love terrible. Heck, I adore terrible. I will purchase a midnight ticket, load up on whiskey, get dressed up in spanks and lycra and giggle until sun-up for terrible. But meh? MEH? What am I supposed to do with meh? I can’t laugh about Meh with my friends. I can’t even get angry about Meh. I just shrug, allow the experience to slip from my skin like some kind of soul-sucking, art-sucking, mind-sucking, suck-sucking oil designed to drive audiences to the point of utter wide-eyed non-beingness. They’re not candy. Candy is fun! Candy is delicious! Yes, it gives you diabetes, but that’s later. This, if this is candy, this category is filled with the Charleston Chews, the Werther’s Originals, and the Orange Starbursts of movies. These are the movies that if some old folk dumped them it in your Halloween basket, you’d make a face, ignore it for as long as possible but, once you’ve destroyed the M&Ms, the Twizzlers and Reeses, you’re going to stick your hand because, fuck it, you’re on a roll. So, if I can’t get angry about the movies then I’ll fucking get angry that I CAN’T get angry about these movies.

And, whew boy, we have a lot this year. Like way more than is acceptable. So many, in fact, that I decided to sort them all into thematic twosomes. That is how mind-bleedingly bullshit 2013 is. I want me money back, Hollywood! I haven’t even spent it yet and I already want it back! Well, let’s stop trying to stave off the inevitable and just chow down on these sugary pieces of digital entertainment destined for the bottom of the bargain bin. Here they are, the movies I will see and hate myself:

SCI-FI MOVIES TRYING REALLY HARD BUT FALLING SHORT

After Earth

No, it isn't a sequel to Dumbo. Their massive ears are simply a coincidence.

No, it isn’t a sequel to Dumbo. Their massive ears are simply a coincidence.

Will Smith is at it again! Not sated with fighting the apocalypse with a dog, he had to drag his son into the mix, bright-eyed and destined for stardom/cocaine addiction Jaden Smith. This is certainly one of the best of the bunch, I will admit. The concept of a journey back to a post-human Earth could definitely be interesting. Or it could be an exercise in Dinosaur-less Jurassic Park. I get that, over time, the creatures of Earth would evolve into human killing beasties…but they’re still just monkeys. I laugh at those things in a zoo. Ain’t no aliens burstin’ outta chests here. Just the well-worn tale of a boy getting stuck in a safari that is actually a planet. They’re going for the father-son angle. Fine. They’re even going for the ‘Fear isn’t real’ theme. Great. Now…wake me up when it gets interesting. I will say this, however, Mr. William “The Freshest of Princes” Smith is probably the only black actor (save perhaps for Jamie Foxx, on a good day) who would ever be cast in a movie on a color-blind basis. No other black actor can waltz into an A-list, multi-billion dollar Avatar rip-off and walk out alive. Which is ironic, because the trailers scream that he’s going to get fucked up in this movie. Just watch. Thems baboons are gonna themselves a jiggy-with-it Smith-skewer. It’s going to be like the first scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey except that it’s actually going to be the part in Congo where Tim Curry bites it…in that a gorilla bites him. So, sure, I’ll see it. And sure, it’ll be just like Oblivion, heart in the right place but, like a virgin on his wedding night, execution everywhere it shouldn’t be.

Pacific Rim

Is it me or does it look like the robot is peeing apocalypse?

Is it me or does it look like the robot is peeing apocalypse?

It pains me to add this to the list. Like, accidentally-slap-yourself-in-the-face pain. Mr. Guillermo Del Toro is an artist. He is. Unlike the rest of the talentless ass monkeys in Hollywood, this Mexican madman has a vision. And, like a director with an eerily similar name, Terry Gilliam, his movies tend to die before they even have a chance to be born. It’s like there’s some kind of artistic hitman out to destroy all that Del Toro touches. At the Mountains of Madness? Dead on arrival. The Hobbit? Stolen and morphed into Franken-Hobbit, a horrifying amalgam of misdirected children’s nonsense and self-importance. The guy can’t catch a break. But finally, he has returned from his dolorous slumber, once more allowed a shot at the spotlight. Sure, he was nominated for an Oscar for the amazing and life-changing Pan’s Labyrinth, and, sure, the Hellboy series has raked in a sickening amount of cash. So, will they allow him to adapt a beloved piece of literature into a horror film starring the still terrifyingly bankable Tom Cruise? Or will they let him adapt a book so fucking easy to adapt it’s almost written in screenplay format and based on a previous intellectual property that’s made more money than Bill Gates consumes for dinner every night (not because he must, but because he can)? Nope? Okay, how about fucking robots fighting Godzilla in the dark? Sound good? Good.

I mean, who thought this was a good idea? Steal the plot of Evangelion, a nonsensical Japanese tale of demons taking over the world and humans scraping together resources from their rectal areas to fight them? Because, you know what I think when the apocalypse is happening? I think, “Well, I sure wish I’d gotten around to building multi-trillion dollar pieces of ridiculous before we got attacked. Fuck it, even though civilization is destroyed, let’s put together the most expensive and complex construction project known to man since the mutherfucking pyramids.” Also, I’m half expecting, since Del Toro hired the voice of GLaDOS from Portal, that all of the robots will turn on the humans and begin ‘testing’ with a side helping of imaginary cake. Best case scenario, Idris Elba yells, things blow up, we cheer. Worst case scenario, it’s like 1998’s Godzilla all over again…except with somehow more Matthew Broderick.

FROM THE GUYS WHO RUINED HORROR FOR EVERYONE

The Conjuring

If they're going for the award for blandest poster, I think they're a shoe in.

If they’re going for the award for blandest poster, I think they’re a shoe in.

Ladies and gentlemen, a hand, if you will, for the glorious and generous James Wan! Who is that, you ask? Oh ho ho, he is the genius, nay, the mastermind behind the ‘New Wave’ of horror. And, no, I’m not talking about the highly revered French film movement in the late sixties. This guy is man responsible for Saw, Dead Silence, Insidious and all other silliness that has spawned from his offspring. Saw III? Yeah, that was because of him. No, he didn’t direct it, just like the Wachowskis didn’t direct those whorish excuses for action movies released the in obliterative wake of The Matrix; all obsessed with not just using ‘Bullet-time’ but overusing it to the point that audiences began puking in the aisles from motion sickness. Mr. Wan is basically the prophet of mediocre brutality tales from his hilariously un-directed and bemusingly acted Saw to Insidious, a movie so scary that it shits its own pants in the final act. Did I say scary? I meant mentally-deranged. It’s not so much that the movies Wan churns out fail on many levels, its that the floodgates he opened have caused horror to turn into the masticated mess it is today. Saw allowed Eli Roth to think Hostel was okay. And Hostel allowed Hostel Part II. And that shit is unconscionable. Even Insidious, which was pretty creative for the most part, spawned the yawn-filled Sinister. And whoever keeps making Paranormal Activity movies needs to suffer a bizarre ice cream accident wherein all of their movie-making limbs are irreparably broken. Nothing terrible. I don’t want to feel bad about it; I just want it to stop.

Now, let me be clear, James Wan isn’t so bad. Insidious, for all of its completely deleterious third act nonsense, had some genuine moments of creep-itude. That face showing up behind Patrick Wilson’s head?I jumped so hard, I think I administered the Heimlich maneuver to myself. Also, the mumble-core psychics were hilarious. His creature design, after the pant-wetting chilliness of the Jigsaw puppet, has been lackluster at best, looks-like-my-grandmother-after-a-perm-gone-wrong-bad at worst. It seems, from the trailers, that Wan has included some of the creepier and more human elements of Insidious (including the concept of casting actual ‘actors’ and not ‘meat puppets’, which is always appreciated) while cashing in on the diminishing returns from Linda Blair in The Exorcist. There will be jumps. There will be creepy stuff. In fact, it looks like a delicious pot of ‘not terrible’ until we see the words ‘Based on the True Case Files of the Warrens’. UGH. NO ONE CARES IF IT’S TRUE. In fact, in the land of horror, those words are the metaphorical katana for the inexorable Hare Kari that the movie will commit in the last act. Either the screenwriter will take some serious liberties with the ‘truth’ forcing me to have the same conversation over and over again with coworkers about the complete-bullshittude of the film’s purported veracity, or it will devolve into a special episode of Ghost Hunters. Well, Mr. Wan, good luck. I hope this is a decent blip on the radar before you return to the inevitable and insipid Insidious 2 (see what I did there?).

The Purge

If all crime is legal, then why mask your identity? I have questions...

If all crime is legal, then why mask your identity? I have questions…

While The Conjuring is a direct descendant of the Saw patriarch, The Purge is the random kid allowed over to the house for Thanksgiving Dinner. No one is really sure how he got there and no one wants to ask the grinning little bastard to leave. This bad boy was invited to the party by “The Producers of Sinister and Paranormal Activity“. Awesome. The guy responsible for me watching Ethan Hawke get drunk and make terrible choices and the security tape of two boring people sleeping. Fucking tits, man. Can’t wait! Not to mention, this is brought to you by a greenhorn director who is famous for writing the movie Jack. You remember Jack, the one where Robin Williams plays the kid who grows at 4 times the rate of other children? That absolutely absurd tale of…but then…he just wants to be a kid, but he’s forty and at graduation he’s like 80…don’t cry, Andrew, you can do this…

Ahem. Yes, it has Ethan “I’ll Try if I Really Want To” Hawke and Queen Cersei sporting a rather fashionable bob. It tells the tale of an America where there is no crime and unemployment is at a record low because of the titular ‘Purge’. It is one night where there is no law and people can do whatever they please. So, naturally, they kill every mutherfucker they can…because that’s…what people do…? I don’t know about y’all, but I just wish I could turn my life into the fucking Hunger Games once a year. Anyway, the Hawke-meister and his Queen (watch out for the backstabbing!) hold up in their super-fortress of a suburban home to drink away the night. But then their dumbass kid was audacious enough to show ’empathy’, the little bitch, and saves a man’s life. Then people try to kill them. Basically, it’s Assault on Precinct Ordinary People. Seeing as this guy also wrote the Ethan Hawke remake of Assault on Precinct 13, I find that both worrying and calming. At least he’s done this before…except, last time, it really sucked. Oh well. This movie could go one of two ways: 1) it could be a clever, if slightly schadenfreudistic, look at the interactions of the 1% and the 99% and the distance between the haves and the have nots in a time of crisis or 2) it could be a nihilistic piece of torture porn wherein every angry white kid from the suburbs can cheer as the parents get blunt objects shoved where the sun don’t shine. Who knows? I can almost guarantee we will forget it almost immediately.

COGNITIVE DISSIDENCE BETWEEN TALENT OF CREATIVE TEAM AND THE QUALITY OF THE TRAILER

The Lone Ranger

Is that a dead bird on Johnny's head? Yep. Nothing wrong here.

Is that a dead bird on Johnny’s head? Yep. Nothing wrong here.

This is possibly the saddest and most confusing segment of this post. This is the place where terrible people somehow create something decent and great film artists make choices that probably should have been left on the cocaine-dusted backside of the hooker where it was conceived. The Lone Ranger is the latter. I have had a minor-to-massive crush on Mr. Gore “Really, That’s Your First Name?” Verbinski, especially during his frequent forays with Johnny “Put It Back in Your Pants, Ladies” Depp, since the advent of his mind-bending blockbuster tour de force trio Pirates of the Caribbean and solidified it further with the trippiest-cartoon-to-ever-win-an-Oscar Rango. The pair of them have the most bizarre and tickling sense of humor I’ve ever discovered in a mainstream movie. Well, sometimes those giggle-butts go a little too far and decide to do The Lone Ranger. *FACEPALM* Okay, guys, you’ve already flaunted the fact that you can turn the most absurd basis of a movie, a fucking ride at Disney, into an amazing seafaring romp. Yes, you proved you can stick it to Wreck-it Ralph with bizarro Clint Eastwood references and Bill Nighy as a snake with a gattling gun (no fucking joke, you need to see Rango; it’s insane). But racism? Guys, seriously. Yes, I know, Mr. Depp is some non-existent fraction of Cherokee that, to real mathematicians would round down to naught. But it doesn’t count. That’s like Tiger Woods saying “I’m half Chinese so I can dress up in my red dragon-enbroidered robes, stick in some buck teeth (not that I need them) color my face yellow and squint while saying ‘me so sol-lee’ over and over”. It just…isn’t…kosher. (Disclaimer: Well, if a rabbi blessed his racist meat then technically, yes, it is kosher).

We’ve got the knucklehead writers of Pirates back (not the amazing and low-budget, midget-stabbing-men-in-the-face porno, the other one), Armie Hammer, the adonis with abs so nice, they cast him twice…in The Social Network, as well as a host of beloved character actors. The action will be awesome. The jokes will be weird. I just can’t get past the red-face. And I’m not talking about Rush Limbaugh after going up a short flight of stairs. I’m talking about the Wounded Knee, Trail of Tears, totem-touting “Kimosabe” faccent coming out of Depp’s mouth. I get it. The show wasn’t exactly the Rosa Parks of Native American mainstream artistic perception, but come the fuck on, it was the 50s. That was the time, if you were a white man, you could slap a black man in the face, a woman, of any race, on the behind and then call the local police station and claim that both assaulted you. You know, the golden age of America. Why couldn’t we cast an actual Native American in the part? Or, better yet, change the plot of the movie to not include Native Americans. Or, even better yet, not fucking make a movie of a television show whose last surviving fans are currently eating mushy peas through a tube while still discussing ‘The Negro Problem’ and make something fucking new, you lazy assholes. Ah, that felt good to finally get out in the open.

Man of Steel

Man-of-Steel-poster2-610x904

Superman, now equipped with portable backlighting!

And then…the other side of the coin. Here we have a movie trailer that actually, shockingly, looked kind of alright. From the operatic score, the heartfelt yet dour imagery and the haggard face of Kevin Kostner relocated to the unfairly manipulative setting of a farm (fucking Field of Dreams flashbacks!) to the slick and gritty fight scenes and the promise of Michael Shannon screaming the Superman equivalent of ‘cunt punt’, this thing hits every note a summer blockbuster requires. There seems to be a unified aesthetic for this next outing this, what the fuck is it, prequel? Sequel? Remake of Smallville? Prequel to the Superman Returns remake-quel? Perhaps we’re stuck in a brutal cycle of alternate Superman universes wherein the filmmakers and actors responsible are constantly losing careers left right and center? Whatever. If you have to replace Terrence “I Eat Bricks for Breakfast” Stamp with anyone, Michael Shannon is not only the perfect choice, he is the result of cooking Pinter-ian quiet fury, batshit second amendment insanity and a host of cartoon-cereal mascots in a paint tin for two days and then shoving it in a mixer for two hours. Mutherfucker is nuttier than squirrel turds. And he’s amazing. Well, turns out we have Christopher “Bat-Penis” Nolan producing, teaming up once again for the infuriatingly oxymoronic David S. “No, I Have Not Forgotten About Blade Trinity” Goyer after destroying the world with some damn good Bat-outings. Thus far everything about this movie, save for the fact that it includes the most boring superhero of all time (other than, of course, Board-Man…with the power to…well, who fucking cares. I think it has something to do with card tricks and Jenga. Eh), seems utterly perfect. I wonder who’s directing it…

Oh.

Zack. Fucking. Snyder. Some of you might not know, most of you might not care, but I have a box of voodoo dolls with that dumbass’s face plastered on each and every one. Yes, he made a wonderful, if bone-headed and paper-thin splash on the scene with the raucous Dawn of the Dead remake. But then his penis decided to meld with his brain stem. We next received the repugnantly and confusingly homophobic/homoerotic 300, the filmic equivalent of that guy who sits in the weight area of the gym with his legs spread wide in order for him to watch his own throbbing boner and shrunken testes as he pumps iron. Yes, this is if Arnold Schwarzenneger and Sylvester Stallone had a freak test-tube baby, it would have been 300. But with less brain cells. Whatever, it was funny. We laughed. We wept for humanity a bit. At least Mr. Snyder was only shitting on history, there’s no way anyone would ever let him do that to a beloved graphic novel with a fanbase more rabid than a dog pound after national ‘Dog-Bite On the Face Day’.

Oh wait.

My hatred of the Watchmen movie is so pure and unadulterated, it could be bottled to fuel interstellar travel. When I see that movie playing, even for a moment, blood begins rushing from my earholes and I begin spewing pee-green soup. There might be some mild crucifix-masturbation. It’s hard to tell after I blackout. Well, Mr. Snyder then tried to make amens, or something of the sort, deciding to craft the woefully misguided and unintentionally ultra-mysogynistic Sucker Punch. *HEADDESK* There aren’t enough curses in the world to describe how much I vitriolically despised that ‘movie’. Perhaps there will be an article down the line. It’ll be a Clockwork Orange-esque evening of rancid torture with an entree of  Snyder and a side plate of titties.

So, Snyder, the dullard who ruined Watchmen. The prick with the prick behind Sucker Turds. He’s taking on Superman? Well, take your best shot, buddy boy. Oh! And I see you’ve brought Russell “I Will Never Forgive You” Crowe for the ride! I hope he dies. And since he’s playing Jor-El, there’s a very good chance of that. Bitch is going down harder than a concrete porcupine soufflé. It’s a match made in Satan’s butthole.

Maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe Snyder has learned a little about filmmaking since Sucker MAKE-IT-STOP. Maybe Nolan has taken him under his wing and ceremoniously yanked the dick from his ear. Maybe not. This summer will show all. Bring it, Snyder-Meister.

THE PREQUEL AND THE SEQUEL TO A PREQUEL

Monster’s University

Wow, Oberlin College is far more attractive and less freakish than I remember.

Wow, Oberlin College is far more attractive and less freakish than I remember.

Oh Pixar. My dear, dearest, sweetest Pixies of the Ar. How glorious you once were, soaring above the plebeians, dousing us once a year with a golden egg seemingly sent from the muses of heaven. You made us weep like children, giggle like idiots, and feel all of the feels. You played our heartstrings like they were a fucking lute. Now… where have you gone? Other than the charming yet mildly mediocre Brave, you sprinkle us with sequels and prequels and pointless rehashings of worn out IPs. Finding Nemo 2? Check. Cars 2? Ugh. Check. Of course, the argument against this cynicism is the excellent Toy Story series. Sure. That charted the progression of childhood, from wide-eyed discovery, to fear of rejection, to eventual loss and the lessons needed to let go. It was fucking brilliant and, yes, I wept like a newborn child in the aisles, hugging my popcorn against my chest calling out the name of my lost teddy bear from my childhood crib (which was difficult, because I never actually named him).

Now, Monsters Inc., sweet as you were, you barely grazed the tip of the Up-ian iceberg of emotions Pixar has explored. Kids are cute. John Goodman and Billy Crystal are funny. Is that it? Is that where we’re headed? Now, it wasn’t quite as vapid as Cars, but, guys, it wasn’t Up. Yes, I know the execs want to boost toy sales and, shit, a universe of fluffy mildly threatening creatures is a toy maker’s wet dream. But can’t we have more? Can’t we have a new intellectual property? Can we eschew the fanboy cries for more Incredibles and a sequel to A Bug’s Life. Of course they want more! They’re fanboys! They’re like dogs, you can keep feeding them until their fucking nerd-guts burst open Seven-style. Look at Star Wars. They don’t know how amazing you can be.

Unless…the magic is gone? Maybe Pixar isn’t quite the soaring eagle I had always assumed. Perhaps they’re just the goose whose golden eggs have dried up. Well, if this continues, I say we have a good old goose-that-laid cook off! Michael Eisner, you get a wing. You asshat.

The Wolverine

This is how Hugh Jackman always orgasms. It's not pretty. Unless you have a pulse.

“WHO…TOOK…MY…JELLO…MOLD!?” ~ Wolverine has expanded his culinary aspirations.

Finally, and probably leastly, let’s be real, we have the surreal entry into this year’s ‘middling’ category. Poor Wolverine, he’s been through the grinder over the last decade, tossed from a great director’s hands into the butter-and-moron drizzled fingers of Brett “Yep, I’m Proud of Rush Hour. Come at me, bro!” Ratner to the utterly incomprehensible claws of whoever the fuck was responsible for the urinal-cake-esque X-Men Origins: Wolverine (in that you can keep pissing on it, but it ain’t going away), to the point that he was in a literal meat grinder at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand. So where the fuck are we now? Post-Singer-verse? Pre-Stuart? After the bizarre misappropriation of Three-Mile Island, but before he got seriously McKellan-ed (yes, that’s a sex move. Disclaimer: much like the eponymous, knighted thespian, it requires a three foot penis)? Where are we in time, space and X-Man-dom? Well, apparently Japan, that much is clear.

This film has been in the works ever since the turd-tacular Wolverine seeped its way across the silver screen all those years ago. You know, that one with Deadpool without a mouth, Taylor Kitsch before his career tanked faster than a Blitzkrieg on the Russian Front, and Will.I.am acting…or something of the sort. It’s skipped director to director, starting with the lethally odd and mind-bustingly delightful ex-Mr. Rachel Weisz Darren Aronofsky, and ending with James Mangold, you know the guy who did Kate and Leopold…and Girl, Interrupted. You know, action movies! Okay, okay, he also did 3:10 to Yuma, which was pretty decent other than Mr. Turd-Face Extreme Puke-asaurus Rex Russell Crowe in it. Did I mention I hate him and his stupid egg-shaped face? Sure, the movie will probably be utter crud. Its fight scenes seem bland and overly-cgi-ed, a hold-over aesthetic from its near-mentally-challenged predecessor. I’m sure it will yawn onto screens and then blah-blah its way out. I’m sure we’ll forget it as quickly as we forgot that one movie…from last year…you know, the one…with the people…and explosions? Whatever, I’ll figure it out eventually.

I think I would have enjoyed Aronofsky’s The Wolverine. After all, he and Jackman have worked together before on The Fountain. I can see it now: The Wolverine is a prequel, but it’s also a sequel in that the entirety of the film takes place in the moments before he kills Jean Grey at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand. We have Logan hurtling through space on a fragment of his own brainmatter, thrust through time, rushing after a lost love, never managing to catch her, unable to die and unable to rest, caught in between infinity and a flash of nothingness…and then Craig David appears out of nowhere with a double sided dildo and screams “Ass to ass!”. Oh, and he turns into a bird while dancing Swan Lake and stabs himself. With the dildo.

He stirs. He rolls to one side. His arms feel the coursing blood of a dozen film reels slowly revitalizing him into consciousness.

*YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWNNNNNNN*

No, that was not in response to memories of watching The Master. I have awoken once more. The temperature is rising (in theory) and the threat of the longest, coldest, blandest fucking winter in history is beginning to abate. That’s right! I have returned! Mama bear has risen from her den of lazy iniquity, doing her best to ignore the last four months of utter penis-drizzle that has decorated our silver screens (Pro-tip, if your movie theater is sticky, use disinfectant).

It is a time honored tradition among critics (well, just me) to lull oneself into a three month slumber, a coma of such artistic impenetrability even Rip Van Winkle would say ‘dial it back a bit, homes’ (because we all know Rip Van Dubs was totes hood – look it up). After the annoyance and rampant self-congratulatory visual masturbation of ‘awards’ season, cinema annually decides to not only ‘take it easy’ but to essentially attempt suicide. This, my friends, is the Time of Turds, the Armpit of Art, the Peril of Perry. Think I’m over-reacting? Think I’m hyperbolizing? Remember this butt-plugging-woman-hating-ham-fisting-kardashian-employing-smeg-ulicious gem?

Tyler-Perrys-marriage-counselor

That’s the face of a cold-blooded killer…of cinema

Granted, my critical hibernation had a few desirable hiccups along the way. Evil Dead was fun. I mean, not in the “Let’s hang out and grab coffee” kind of way, but rather, if I saw Evil Dead hanging out at a party, I’d totally say hi and make awkward conversation for a few moments. It was a classy film. Did I say classy? I meant bitch-cut-off-her-own-arm-with-a-meat-shaver. That movie was terrible. And fucking amazing.

evil-dead-remake-2013-arm-cuttting-scene

Evil Dead: The Tale of Ladies Losing Limbs and Dudes Getting Shot with Nails. You know, for kids!

Anyhoo…I’m back. From outer space. I just walked in to see you here with that sad look upon your face. And guess the fuck what? I’m back in time for mutherfucking SUMMER MOVIE SEASON!

(Cue audience applause)

That’s right, folks, the Rear Admiral of Snark is about to admiral his rear in the direction of some of these seasonal stinkers. Do I think it’s absurd that I’m talking about summer movies while still wearing a scarf because it’s thirty fucking degrees outside? Of course not! Because when I moved to this back-asswards town they call Chi, I knew what I was signing up for. That’s right, a Checkovian/Satrian/ Beckettian nightmare of meteoric implausibility and almost rabid weather-based mood swings. So, zipping up my winter coat, lets talk about the joke that is SUMMER.

Those of you who read my articles last year, you know, when I was writing articles and such, you will know that I have four distinct and essential categories of summer film: first, the coveted Movies I Want to See, you know, the films that get my fan boy goulies all twisted up with some kind of Joss-Whedon Family-Jewel Juice (Patent-pending). These are the movies that, when their glorious cheeky grins spread across the movieplex, I’m reduced to a galloping and insufferable child, returned once more to my days of hiding behind the couch when that Nazi’s head explodes at the end of Raiders. This is Class A, premium cut, top quality ass meat (but the good kind of ass…like rump, you know, not-anus meat). Expectations will be high! Sweeping declarations will be made! Tears will be shed! Dreams, like a really dodgy masquerade ball filled with David Bowie look-alikes and far too much Bowie-Balls, will be shattered! This is usually where the most weeping occurs, fair warning to you all.

He haunts my dreams. Take that as you will.

Second: Movies I will See and Hate Myself. Let’s be real. Cinema is a drug. No, fuck that. Movies are candy. They’re a pack of gummy worms, of Reese’s Pieces, of sugar-encrusted cola bottles because, fuck, I certainly wasn’t getting enough sugar when I bought the regular old 100% sugar treat designed to taste like a drink made of 100% pure cane white gold. You have one, but you know it doesn’t stop there. You reach into the pack again and again. I mean, you could cook something with, you know, nutrition but…well, that’s all the way in the kitchen and this grab bag of pre-diabetes is already right here. You eat and gorge and stuff and suck and, before you know it, you’re three hundred pounds getting a Reese’s Hysterectomy (full disclosure: not really sure what a hysterectomy is, but it sounds cool – fuller disclosure: OF COURSE I KNOW WHAT A HYSTERECTOMY IS). During the summer, I will return to the movie theater again and again, hoping that this time…well…this time it’ll be different. We all hear ourselves saying it: “But guys, maybe they’ll get Wolverine right this time?” or “Well, I know watching the last Smurfs movie was like getting a lap dance from Rush Limbaugh…but this is a sequel,” or, “Fuck it. Just give me two scoops of Transformers: Whatever the Fuck the Next One Will Be Called.” Yes, these are the movies that, on a rainy summer night with nothing else to do, we might reach into the bag and wake up the next morning with apenda-Michael-Bay-citis. These are the movies that are soulless, pointless, classless and, in the worst way possible, worthless. They’re the movies you will one day catch on TV when you have the flu and, due to general weakness and the fear of self-defecation, can’t reach the control. I’ll see them. I’ll ‘meh’ them. I’ll forget them. Like that one movie I forgot last year… Can’t remember the name of it, but it’ll come back to me.

Brought to you by our sponsor, Michael “It’s Only Hurts The First Time” Bay.

Third: Movies I Will See Drunk. Ah yes, perhaps the most sacred of categories. This list of cinematic delicacy is really only palatable with a handle of Jack and, let’s say, another handle of Jack to wash the first one down. If one were to witness these gifts from the filmic gods while under the satanic influence of sobriety, one might be tempted to claw one’s eyes out, or sex one’s mother, or something else of the Greek persuasion. Everything about these crotch-monkeys is terrible. Bad acting. Bad writing. Bad, well, ‘directing’ is a strong word. Let’s say ‘Man wearing an ass for a hat waggling his penis in the direction of a camera’. However, add to this crap-pie just one (actually ten) shot of whiskey and, ladies and gentlemen, you have a mutherfucking masterpiece. That’s right, Jack Daniels should have a goddamn Oscar for Best Supporting-My-Ability-to-Sit-Through-Abraham-Lincoln-Vampire-Hunter. This is probably my favorite category of film…in that I fucking hate it and love it all at once. If I publicized my relationship with this category on Facebook, it would be ‘It’s Complicated’ followed by a really awkward picture of me licking the DVD case of Piranha 3D. Don’t tell my therapist about that last part.

This is what the inside of my brain looked like after seeing Showgirls for the first time.

Finally and absolutely lastly, the fourth category: Movies That Want So Much For Me to Like Them to the Point They’d Roofie Me, Throw Me in the Back of Their VW and Then Gradually Reeducate Me While Having Me Strapped to a Chair in their Parents’ Basement. These are the films that are devised and concocted in a lab on a boat out in international waters, Robert Oppenheimer on one side and Josef Mengele on the other. These are the movies crafted precisely for my ‘Demographic’. You know, white twenty-something douchebags. These are the movies with about as much respect for gender equality as I do for the Star Wars prequels. These are the movies where aerial-barfing is a glorified art, farts are as revered as strings to Tchaikovsky, where pedophilia is the punch line (I’m looking at you, everything-Adam-Sandler-has-ever-done). These are the movies that, if I had the chance to condemn something to eternal damnation, they’d be at the top of the fucking list ready to be shoved down Beelzebub’s throbbing gullet. I will not see these. Not just because they are bad. Not just because they are lazy and stupid and about as witty as the smelly kid in kindergarten accidentally sticking a thumb up his own anus and getting it trapped (okay, that’s kinda funny). It’s because they offend me. They offend the fact that they want me. They try so hard. They woo me with their Zack Galifinakises, their casts of the Daily Show, their Senor Changs…but then the product they offer up is about as palatable as a dinner at Courtney Love’s new restaurant chain, “Needles N’ Noodles” (don’t get the lo mien, I beg you. Unless you’re really into Hepatitis A through G. If you are, fair play. Bon appetit).

What I do after watching any Adam Sandler trailer ever.

So, my adoring and, probably now, nonexistent public, tune in over the next couple of weeks for my Summer Movie Preview. There will be Marvel movies! Prequels! Sequels! Sequels to prequels! Oh lord will there be sequels! In fact! Now that I look at it! It’s pretty much ALL sequels!

Mama bear is back. And she wants some meat.

Okay, that last part was really creepy. Now I’m confused about several aspects of my psyche. Um…I’ll catch you next time.

The winds of a distant winter are rising. Cold fronts, like chilled custard, are gradually consuming the Midwest and with it Chicago. Those summer dresses that make ladies seem so dishonestly ephemeral are quickly disintegrating to the temporal safety of jeans and sweatpants. The summer is coming to a close and, as Ned Stark would say if he had an issue with premature ejaculations (referring specifically to the archaic definition pertaining to elocution), Fall Is Coming. Finally, I’m able to cast aside my vibrant colors in favor of dour earth tones. I no longer need to repel the incessant whines of “Andrew, you should try shorts, you’d look adorable” because it wouldn’t be adorable, it would be as horrifying as looking into the Ark of the Covenant, doesn’t anyone understand I AM EXTREMELY INSECURE ABOUT MY PASTY LEGS.

Well, for a Summer of Film, like any good night of sex, there is a shit load of build up and anticipation, a middling execution with some high points (and seriously low ones) and finally a required and sleepy denouement. This is that sleepiness. A decomposition, if you will, a digestion, that special walk that you take after Thanksgiving Dinner in the hope that burning about fifty calories will offset that Herculean gorge-fest that was that five course monstrosity. Perhaps these will take the form of awards and, if they do, they will be more important than the fucking Oscars (because, honestly, what isn’t?). Perhaps they will take the form of rants. Perhaps the form of an elaborate and labyrinthine puzzle, dragging you through the depths of your own psyche, revealing grotesque truths about the human condition before finally revealing what I actually thought about a shitty film franchise. Perhaps. I haven’t decided yet.

Oh Summer of 2012, what a beast you were. You had such dazzling highs and such confounding lows. You were filled with aimless, drunken wanderings through the streets of Chicago, ending with confused mornings waking up in puddles of Dunkin Donuts breakfast sandwiches (true story). You were riddled with dates and drunken make-outs. Midnight showings and Bat-a-thons. You were epic and understated at once. Much like my fifth grade math teacher, I entered you a boy and a left you a man (not a true story). I have gained some loved ones, and lost some (you will be missed, Donnie. New York doesn’t deserve you). I went from living with four wonderful and crazed souls to living alone. And I saw both The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus. I will be forever changed. So, now that I’ve arbitrarily decided to structure this like a rewards show, lets get this thing on the road. Without further ado…here are…

ANDREW’S SUMMER MOVIE AWARDS 2012!

Welcome, welcome ladies and gents. It’s been a wacky and wild roller coaster this summer, hasn’t it, Jane?

(Insert painfully unwitty, overly-enthusiastic response from once-pretty co-host whose face looks like it’s had more nips and tucks than a fucking French pastry)

Hilarious, Jane. You’re so on point. Well, let’s get to it!

Most Mediocre Movie I’m Glad I Missed

Winner: The Amazing Spiderman; Runner Up: The Borne Legacy

OH NO! MECHA-GOJIRA! Nope…my mistake. It’s just boring.

So, I know these were both on my list of “Movies I Will See and Hate Myself“, but guess what, other than a few noted exceptions, this was not a summer of self-harm. I read reviews of Spiderman. My friend told me it was, and I quote, “Totally Fine.” You know what? Fuck totally fine. I don’t want totally fine. This is the summer. If I want ‘totally fine’, I’d be in January. This is the time for RPX/3D/IMAX/ VHS/ADHD/CPS/SIDS to melt your mutherfucking face off. If I’m not feeling some facial phase-changes, then it has no business being in the summer movie line-up. I like Andrew Garfield, but it was so infuriatingly clear in every ad, clip and interview he was trying to be a total badass. You know what? No matter how many times you shove a lightning bolt up a corpse’s ass, you don’t get reanimation, you just get the suffocating smell of cooked, rancid meat and charred hair. My Peter Parker will always be the animated one that awkwardly fought the Green Goblin on Saturday mornings…and then got all weird and sexy with Madame Web and…well…let’s not talk about that. Also, The Borne Legacy, I heard Jeremy Renner was wasted. For that, I say, you deserve a penis in the ear. That is the one place no one likes a penis. Well, I’m sure someone does. Anyway, it’s invasive and unpleasant. You’re welcome.

Most Pissed Off I Got That Nobody Would Drink a Fifth of Jack With Me and Watch

Winner: Battleship, Runner-up: Piranha 3DD

YOU GUYS, IT LOOKS SO GOOD! SERIOUSLY! YOU GUYS!

Seriously, like, seriously guys. Why would NOBODY watch Battleship with me? Of course it’s moronic. Of course it’s about as worthy of sense as Gary Busey on the third day of an acid binge. Of course Liam Neeson will cash a paycheck. But still…COME ON. I heard there was an old person montage! And Rihanna acting! And Tim Riggins on a Boat! (For the record, I do not know, nor do I care, who Tim Riggins is. He has a cool name. Discussion over). I tried, time and again, to Shanghai someone to sneak a bottle of bourbon into the movie theater with me and drink every time someone said the words “Ship”, “God” or “Hey, isn’t that the guy from True Blood?” This summer has been seriously lacking some Transformers, over-the-top, misogyny-riddled, nonsensical action and I need my shit-fix. Why did you all abandon me? WHY?

Piranha gets honorable mention because, honestly, it’s a Piranha movie and those cannot be missed. At the same time, I heard it sucked massive elephantitis-balls. Like, globe-sized, Jack-and-the-Beanstalk-style giant testicles. And not in the good way. More in the, “just got back from rowing the Atlantic ocean and am suffering from about 12 different fungal issues in the nether-regions…do you still want to do this?” way.

Most Forgettable Movie of the Summer

Winner: I can’t remember; Runners-Up: Men in Black III, Brave

It’s that one movie…with the thing…and that guy, from that other movie…

It’s only logical that the least memorable movie was one that literally forgot its existence. This has happened numerous times. Some of the more memorable least-memorable films would be…um…that one with the cops…a black one and a white one…maybe the one with a scary thing in the something or other…or when that one person was on trial for something and somebody was trying to do something with the…it was by John Grisham, I know that. So, here’s to you, the least memorable movie of the summer! I might have written an article about you. Maybe. Maybe I didn’t because you were so fucking forgettable that my brain forcefully rejected your existence the moment I left the theater/my living room. Not because you were bad. No, bad movies deserve remembrance. You have committed the worst crime of all existence: you have stolen time out of my life that, not only will never be returned, but I cannot recollect. You’re a black hole of blandness. A vortex of vapidity. A nebula of nebul-‘eh’. So, movie that was positively pointless, thank you.

The other two runner-ups are nearly as blameful. Men in Black III was fine, without a capital ‘f’ because it doesn’t deserve such frills. It was a movie constructed by the corporate machine, placed in the hands of jaded, half-spent celebrity and given nothing to do other than make a really amusing joke about Andy Warhol. Otherwise, the film was so inoffensive and uninteresting that I literally forgot I saw it until I looked back at my articles written for this summer. And, Brave, you just stick that fucking bear tail between your legs (do bears have tails? I can’t remember. NOT THE POINT). You’re a Pixar, not some poxy by-the-numbers bullshit excreted by Lionsgate. You have a legacy to uphold! Now, yes, I enjoyed the film just fine (there’s that word again! I know grammatically the sentence is incorrect, but the issue is the same. Oh US parlance.) Semantics aside, Brave attempted a few things and succeeded. The issue was one of scale. I return to the face-melting essential nature of summer film. Wall-E fucking sublimated my entire head. Up transformed me into a sobbing, weeping, sniveling husk of mush. Brave? Brave made me shrug my shoulders and go “It wasn’t terrible.” Fuck that noise. I expect more from you people. I expect my very dreams to be haunted with your cartoonish mugs. I expect my bowels to loosen during the opening credits. I expect…

Holy shit. I just remembered what the most forgettable movie was. It was…wait…gone again. Oh well.

Most Good Movie Until a Super-Zombie Showed Up

Winner: Prometheus; Runner-Up: Um…Prometheus?

This is much more accurate depiction of that movie: people doing things that bear no relation to other things

You know how it is in the morning. You wake up, make yourself a cup of coffee, discover an alien planet that probably instigated all of evolution on planet earth, take off your fucking helmet because you “think it’s oxygen” and everything is forgivable and fine until a fucking SUPER ZOMBIE jumps out of nowhere and wrecks every non-named character? Know what I’m sayin’? No? That’s never happened to you? Well, Prometheus, I would like to thank you for obliterating the last twinkle of hope I held for modern science fiction. Thank you for taking such a deliciously dense, fertile, deep and compelling premise and the injecting it with Michael Bay cinema-herpes-riddled spunk. Much like the chaos-black stuff that infected and fundamentally transformed your characters, so did this Bay-Semen attempt to latch its genetic material onto yours. And, in self-same fashion, instead of becoming stronger, better and more interesting, you just became a fucking super-zombie, roaring like an idiot, throwing people this way and that, and eventually being crushed under the wheel of good fanboy taste. Yes, Prometheus, you are a dumb asshole. Not only that, but you built my hopes, you promised so much! And yet, as I drew back the veil, ready to place a ring on that finger and pledge my love to you, I instead discover the whale-vaginal, made-up visage of Guy Pearce peering back, Charlize Theron forgetting that human beings are capable of lateral movement and a big white dude giving forced fellatio to a crustacean.

It breaks my heart. It really does. Well, Prometheus, I really want you to be happy. Just…not with me. Bu-bye now.

Most Batman

Winner: The Dark Knight Rises; Runner-up: Moonrise Kingdom

Surprisingly Batman

This was a difficult category to decide. The list of contenders was long and contentious. We were offered an entire platter of Bat-films. Who could forget when the Dark Knight helped that family in Dark Shadows beat the evil witch’s curse? And when Bruce Wayne traveled back in time to help the Union get the silverware past the vampire threat in Abraham Lincoln: I Still Can’t Believe They Made This Movie. And, in one of the more memorable moments of summer film, who would ever lose sight of the iconic scene where the caped crusader gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to Judy Dench after a fatal Over-British-Dose in The Best Exotic Marigold HotelUndoubtedly, however, the award for Most Batman goes to The Dark Knight Rises, fearlessly having Batman in as many as six scenes! They did so well to make sure the cape and cowl had its due, featured in a whopping more than three action sequences! It takes a lot of strength, determination and creative prowess to offer so much screen time to an icon of the common imagination so immensely awesome that it naturally eclipses and obscures all sense of nuance and depth. But they did it.

Our runner up may seem like a surprise, especially with movies such as The Avengers which are simply blatant love notes to the amazingness that is Batman. I mean, they deliberately put all these mediocre characters together in an attempt to make some sort of kind-of-decent Comic-Book Voltron, composed entirely of Stan Lee’s penis inner neuroses. And they were completely and utterly successful in their attempts to show that the Dark Knight does indeed rise above the rest. However, Moonrise Kingdom takes the proverbial cake for second-place Most Batman. In fact, it’s one of my favorite origin stories of all time. X-Men: First Class was a campy/sexy mess; Batman Begins only scratched the surface; and Spiderman was about as subtle as a bottle rocket tied to my scrotum. Moonrise Kingdom charts the unlikely tale of a young Bruce Wayne, his family killed before the film even begins, falling for a young weirdo outsider whom we have to assume is Rachel Dawes (again played by Katie Holmes who really looks like she’s aged a lot since the end of TomKat) and running away from his captors (Ed Norton as a pre-police force Commissioner Gordon and Bruce Willis as Mr. Freeze before earning his PhD in ‘cold things’). I tell you, casting Bill Murray as Clayface was inspired and Frances McDormand as Harley Quinn was a stroke of genius. So, I thank you Wes Anderson, for filling in the missing pieces of Bruce’s journey. 

Least Batman

Winner: The AvengersRunners-up: The First Half of Dark Knight Rises, Magic Mike

This movie poster is still dumb.

Ok, I lied about The Avengers being a love note to The Dark Knight Rises. It was, instead, the Beethoven-esque, ovary-busting overture celebrating the eventual and glorious birth of one Mr. Joss “Fucking Finally” Whedon, a man that has been flirting with commercial greatness and total fangirl vomitoria for years. Throughout his career we have been fed tasty morsels of wonderment, from the episode Hush in Buffy season 4 to Serenity. We’ve also been plagued by Alien Resurrection and Joss Whedon fanboys (I’m not going to make any friends saying this, but if ANYONE begins singing Dr. Horrible around me, I will personally gag them and mail them to Nicaragua). The bald/ginger behemoth of pure nerdom has been gestating in a womb of ridiculous female caricatures and self-referential nonsense for years, only to bloom into a snarky, badass epic ball-buster that was The Avengers as well as the beautiful and hilarious send-up of horror films that was Cabin in the Woods. This was, in no uncertain terms, the summer of Whedon. I shall award him the honor of Least Batman because, contractually, the is no fucking way Batman can appear in the Marvel universe and, more importantly, the overall manic tone of The Avengers couldn’t haven’t been further from the Dark Knight’s noir necropolis. So, well done, Avengers. You did us proud.

The runners-up are slightly less Least Batman. First of all, the first half of The Dark Knight Rises does an incredibly admirable job of pretending to be about Batman and yet teasing us constantly with the fact that the caped crusader doesn’t show up for about THREE FUCKING HOURS. Yes, I understand pathos and that this is the first ever Batman movie that is actually about Batman. But c’mon! I want bat-antics (you know what they are because they’re labeled!)! I want gadgets! I want action scenes! I want to see Batman do something that makes my fanboy panties need a serious deep-clean on the ‘Teenage Boy Without a Girlfriend’ Cycle. The other runner-up, a film I did not see, seemed extremely not-Batman. Because, if the sixties taught us anything, there is nothing gay about Batman. Magic Mike looked super homo. Also, Matthew McConaughy is like anti-Batman. Not in that he’s something awesome like the Joker. No, he’s like buttered toast that falls on the ground butter-side down. He’s like getting a hang-nail while cutting lemons. He’s like Halle Berry’s Catwoman.

Very not-Batman indeed.

Best Movie of the Summer

Winner: Moonrise Kingdom; Runners-up: The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises

So surprising. Yes, it was the best. Deal with it.

Commence ‘Serious Face’ (TM). Yes, my favorite movie of the summer was indeed Moonrise Kingdom. Honestly, that movie cut me deeper than anything I’ve seen in some time. Deliriously funny, oddly dark and so whimsical that my testicles almost bloomed into Mumford and Sons and played a pop-folk concept in the middle of nowhere. It is probably the most entertaining modern tale of what it’s like to be a child I’ve seen in years. It was truthfully the most affecting thing I’ve seen in a while, both due to its examination of the child’s experience and because it makes you REALLY uncomfortable about how close to naked the little girl gets. *AWKWARD* That aside, thank you, Mr. Anderson, for serving us the same dish every single time and that same dish is absolutely fucking delicious.

Honorable mentions go out to the already lauded and fellated  The Avengers and Dark Knight Rises. So, yes, congrats, good movies. You’ll probably be the best movies I’ll see for a while. Unless someone FINALLY watches Battleship with me.

Movie I Wish I Had Been Drunker For

Winner: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Runner-up: Men in Black III

This poster is the most disconcerting thing I have seen since…well, this movie.

Seriously. My head was already fucking spinning, like that silver-coated axe wielded by our less-than-fortunate-looking 16th President of ours. So many things branded into my memory would have been offered the forgiving haziness of Jack Daniel-instigated inebriation. Perhaps Dominic Cooper’s horrific accent wouldn’t have pained me so. Perhaps I would have chocked up the absurdity of certain scenes to my waning control over basic motor skills. Perhaps I might have excused the nonsensical nature of the, well, the everything. Maybe Temur Nab-I’m-Not-Going-to-Look-up-How-To-Spell-it-Cus-Fuck-That-Guy-bakov would have been praised in my review for creating Inception-like complexity within his work. Instead, I had to watch it with a shitty Starbucks Latte in one hand (sorry for the redundancy of ‘Shitty’ and ‘Starbucks’) and my crumbling self-worth in the other. At least I had candy, but that can only do so much.

The runner-up here was Men in Black III solely because, if I had created a drinking game where the only rule was ‘Drink every time Will Smith is purposefully non-threatening to white people’ I might have been so drunk by the final scene that I might have involuntarily slept through the utterly hackneyed, inorganic and confusingly weep-tastic conclusion. But, hindsight is 20/20.

Movie I’m Really Upset I Missed

Winner: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Runner-up: Battleship

Come back! I can see Battleship another weekend!

So, I heard Beasts of the Southern Wild was one of the coolest, prettiest, most exhilarating films of the year. Its trailer had me crumpling my blanket in shoving into my mouth in fear that I might swallow my tongue due to a sudden wave of Cute-Black-Child-itis. Of course, I can’t really write anything about it and I don’t have a good reason for why I didn’t see it. I suppose time simply slipped away from me. Hours flew by, days even, and soon the only screen in Chicago playing its beauty allowed it slip away, quietly into the cinematic aether. And here I am, complaining about pieces of shit portraying presidents as Sarah Michelle Gellar’s only claim to fame and missing movies starring Rihanna as, well, a human being. Here I am missing true art and complaining that everything is decomposing into a massive stew of imaginative fecal matter. Here I am. I wish I had seen it, experienced it, written about it. Perhaps I’d be a different person, instead of a bitter jerk fuming over Michael Bay’s legacy. Perhaps. Lessons for the future, I suppose. A cautionary tale how lamenting about the terrible clouds our understanding of the good. Aye me.

The runner-up is Battleship. All pathos aside I REALLY WANTED TO SEE BATTLESHIP.

Most Hilarious Response to One of My Reviews I Have Ever Received

Winner: Fahrenheit 451; Runner-up: Batman Returns

So, this is the Internet. Though it is filled with wonderful things such as my blog, the blog of Raving Mad Scientists (check those ladies out, they are awesome), Netflix and every porn site ever, it is also home to less savory things. Like Goatsie (google it) or /b/ or every porn site ever. In expanding my writing to the World Wild Web I have braced myself for accidentally tapping into the vein of anonymous hatred that sneaks surreptitiously between sites, and allowing a deluge of trolling and nastiness. Luckily, I have not actually experienced any of this…yet. I have had a couple of amusing moments. My favorite of which was in response to my severely uninformed (and openly so) analysis of Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451:

“Well….I guess you gave it a good college try. You missed it on some of the facts (Wikipedia isn’t the end all and be all of information). Actually, Truffaut had originally set Werner to play the role of the captain (eventually played by Cyril Cusack – father-in-law to Jeremy Irons). When Stamp bowed out, Werner did not want to take over the role of Montag — but Truffaut pleaded and cajoled (they had worked so well together in Jules and Jim). Werner (in real life) experienced Kristalnacht in Vienna and saw more than his share of book burning. He had a hard time with the way he felt Truffaut ‘triviliazed’ the book burning scenes. Half way through filming, the two would not even talk to each other and had to use go-betweens to get their messages across. Werner wanted to add more sympathy to the character of Montag than Truffaut did, etc. etc. I completely agree with you about how miscast Julie Christie was. Unfortunately, at that time, she was the biggest thing in box office and the film would not have been funded without her in it.” ~film fan

Thanks for the info, ‘film fan’! I do take your criticism about lack of research beyond Wikipedia and offer, in return, a gif!

And in not quite close second, after my Batman Returns piece:

“Burton himself has said that Catwoman wasn’t meant to be supernatural but ambiguous and have that whole 9 lives vibe and motif going on. When she is pushed out the window (a brilliant scene “actually, it’s a lot like that!”) she hits at least 2 awnings and falls into a mount of snow. And she only falls about 6 stories (Jackie Chan did a similar stunt for real in Project A). After this she has a pyschotic break and develops a new personality not bound by morals or society. A force of nature. The cats wander around her as they live in the alley and are suspicious and hungry. The backflipping and martial arts skilled are explained in an earlier draft when she tells Bruce about how she was a gymnastics champion as a kid and took many self defence classes but her teacher told her she wasn’t any good as her mind wasn’t clear. She replies that it’s clear now.

But a great review, I enjoyed the read.”

That was from the enigmatically monikered ‘G’. Thank you for the compliment, it will not be forgotten. But seriously, that is some serious Burton-Knowledge. All I can say is:

In all honesty, thank you for reading, all of you. I love comments. Of all kinds. I met my internet friends that way. And seriously, we all know these blogs are an attempt to find people throughout the universe that aren’t related to you who might like something you wrote. Fleeting passes of digital connection, helping us avoid feeling the crushing weight of loneliness if only for a moment.

Also, if you want to call me on my shit, bring it. I HAVE SO MANY GIFS TO WHIP OUT.

Well, now we must wait for the Oscars to collectively jerk off our tear ducts in an attempt for studios to garner those self-congratulatory golden dildos. Get ready for movies with Abraham Lincoln not fighting vampires. Movies that make you cry, though you keep telling yourself that you’re watching trite nonsense. Also, The mutherfucking Hobbit. I’m only entirely excited. And now…a contentious list of megachiroptean action movies from best to worst.

All Batman Movies Ranked from Best to Worst with Comparisons to Things that Get you Drunk

The Dark Knight – Like an aged Scotch, smokey, mysterious and surprising. With a dead guy in it.

The Dark Knight Rises – Hendricks Gin. Solid, delicious and makes a summer night worthy of enjoyment.

Batman Returns – Maker’s Mark. Makes you say hilarious things and surprisingly delicious. With hints of Walken.

Batman BeginsA wine. Not fine, but tasty and good with a helping of Neeson. You drink it before it’s done breathing. Like an idiot.

Batman: The Movie – Tequila. Gets you fucking drunk. And maybe a little homosexual.

BatmanAbsinthe (sans Wormwood). You think it’ll be more fun than it was and it tastes vaguely of something made in the mid-eighties but without the fun.

Batman ForeverAbsinthe (con Wormwood). Should be illegal in the States and makes you feel like you are tripping balls. Jim Carrey might appear wearing all green and torment your worst nightmares.

Batman and RobinHomeless Person’s Vomit. Self-explanatory. And it might give you a staph infection.

Batman: The Movie (1966) – Leslie H. Martinson (Dir.), Adam West, Burd Ward, Cesar Romero, Lee Meriwether, Burgess Meredith

Let the (drinking) games begin…

I don’t know what just happened. I was sitting, with a group of friends, minding my own business, two bottles of wine close at hand. One minute we were discussing the finer points of plot development, thematic subtlety, scenic tension, the next… I think…I think I was violated. All I know is that I woke up the next morning and my brain anus was aching. Concerned for my well-being, both psychological and physical, I visited a nearby physician. He inquired if I had been consuming alcohol. I said yes. He asked if I had taken any drugs. I said no. He asked if I had recently watched Batman: The Movie starring Adam West. I mentioned that it certainly was a possibility. His face blanched.

I’m waiting for the blood test to come back. I’ve entered a support group.

To any modern-day, cerebral individual, we remember the sixties as that decade that produced the Beatles, that birthed the Civil Rights movement, that defined much of our returning fashionable chic. Nobody fucking told me what those bastards watched on television back then. WHAT THE FUCK? Yes, when I was a child, I accidentally flicked to Batman the television show, startled and entranced by its wildly eclectic colors, it’s Sesame Street level of insistence on the appearance of flashing words (all of them first-grade level), its giggling slathering of comic-book villainy and its exceedingly tight tights. I suppose a part of me folded up those experiences into a tiny envelope, no return address, and sent it off into the abyss of my pre-adolescent memory.

It has returned. All I can say is: “What the fuck, 60s?” Was the use of hallucinogenics so rampant and wide-spread that nobody thought to ask, “What the fuck is wrong with this decade?” I get the 80s. Cocaine is a hell of a drug. I get the early 90s, that was the sense-crippling hangover of that 10-year binge on the white dragon. But what happened in the sixties? Weren’t there Mad Men? Gimlets? Smoking inside? Flagrant misogyny? I had no idea that there were random bikini parties! I had no idea that logic was about as sensible as Howie Mandel’s deathly fear of human-contact, or that harshly offensive stereotypes were commonplace every day things that people spat out willy-nilly, like tiny pieces of flavorless gum imprinted with the faces John Wayne playing Mexicans and Andy Rooney as every Asian.

“What did the doctor say, Batman?” “Oh, Robin, don’t worry.” Long, awkward silence.

Yes, Batman: The Movie occurred. We had a guest star, my friend Ben, who was more than happy to witness Kevin (The Master of Giggles, it’s like a master of ceremonies, but gigglier) drink ourselves close to death as this onslaught of absurdity slapped us continually across the cheeks (both face and ass). What to say about this movie? Adam West plays Batman as interpreted by William Shatner, with his extremely gay friend Robin, trying to foil ALL THE BADDIES. This includes the Joker, who forgot to shave his mustache and instead painted over it, Catwoman, played puuuurrrfectly by Lee Meriwether (did I say perfect? I meant the opposite of that), the Riddler and his awkwardly highlighted crotchal region and the Penguin, who looks like if Pinnochio, after becoming a real boy, fell into a destructive spiral of drug use, ending with him joining a culture of prostitution and becoming the fattest pimp on the block. What ensues is a cavalcade of mind-fuckery that would make even Thomas Pinchon say “Dial it back, guys.” Exploding sharks. Technicolored dream-guns. Nuns. Ducks. Disguises that aren’t disguises. And puns. Oh god the PUNS!

The only way my adult self could handle a flashback of this acidic variety was to turn this juvenile activity into one of inebriated idiocy. A drinking game was devised! The rules were surprisingly simple and the results were shocking. Rule 1) Drink whenever there is onomatopoeia on screen (BAM! POW! You know, helpful things). Rule 2) Drink whenever Batman uses a device that’s impossible. Rule 3) Drink whenever there is an incredible leap of logic. Rule 4) Drink whenever there is a Dutch angle (when the camera turns slightly sideways to indicate EVIL!). Well, I expected there to be multiple fight scenes that would put me in the ER… Well, there weren’t. And even the ones that occurred were noticeably BAM-less. People just punched each other, their fists refusing to textually express themselves in their cathartic connections with bad-guys’ jaws. I was getting worried that Batman’s knuckles were suffering from the violence-equivalent of writer’s block until the final fight. Well, it almost made up for it, helping me reach a level of drunkenness I haven’t experienced since that one time in college that someone suggested the ‘Dude’ drinking game. Look it up. You’ll die.

Making a cameo appearance from Nintendo, Bob-ombs!

What DID do some damage was the rampant use of the Dutch Angle. Every fucking scene with any kind of malicious undertone was accompanied by a camera technique since used only by John “OMG have you seen his hairline recently” Travolta’s dreadlocked-platform-shoed masterpiece Battlefield Earth. Rent it if you really want to commit suicide. It’ll do the job. Seriously, though, whenever those guffawing, sneering, mugging bastards cluttered the scene, Kevin, Meg and I were drinking our asses off. Uuuuugh. I think a moment should be taken to examine at least Cesar Romero’s Joker. Obviously the blueprint to Nicholson’s bat-shitness, Romero doesn’t really have anything to do in this movie other than imitate Jack Lemmon in Some Like it Hot every time he’s given a commonplace everyday task. Apparently, serving tea is the funniest mutherfucking experience of his life, second only to the hilarity of pushing a button and the side-splitting act of potting fucking plants. Get your shit together, Joker. Also, Catwoman has a cat. And it looks severely disinterested in everything. You know, because it’s a fucking cat. The part where Batman uses it as a weapon is slightly ball-droppingly amazing.

There are two things I wish to address. Firstly, I don’t know what peyote the writers were smoking as they locked themselves into a New Mexican sweat-shack, each of them experimenting with their sexuality, finally reduced to a salty, inebriated orgy, a feat receiving an award for Most Awkward Gang Sex Act (presented, of course, by Lionel Richie), but this script is about as sensible as an evening with Hunter S. Thompson. Here is just a little snippet of logic that would have made Bertrand Russell’s nut sack explode: the first fight scene (with a styrofoam shark) occurs at sea, “It all seems fishy…and what eats fish? The Penguin. And it happened at sea… C. Catwoman! Well, that’s quite a riddle. Riddle-er! The Riddler!” Yes. That is actual dialogue.

Robin’s face after Batman informed him of what he wanted to Bat-do in order to Bat-celebrate.

The other point of major contention was the fact that literally everything Batman owns is labeled. Everything. He uses a Bat-drinking-fountain. A Bat-computer. A bat-ladder. I’m not sure if the producers understood that calling something ‘bat-something’ does nothing to increase its base effectiveness or even expand its utility, it just wastes the English language. Those words will never be used for anything else. You have murder those words, gentlemen! But seriously, was the Bat-cave designed by Fisher Price? Is it because Dick Grayson actually is developmentally challenged and can’t seem to remember what anything is? Did this need to label everything emerge from a cold and passive aggressive fight between the dynamic duo after Bruce Wayne discovered that Robin was eating HIS yogurt in the fridge, thereby forcing him to put the name bat in front of everything so that when he finds Robin eating popcorn and watching TV, Wayne can demand, “Is that bat-popcorn? It’s clearly labeled. Put it back, you little bitch.” That’s what I came up with. Any thoughts?

In the end, where does this fall into the canon of bat? Or…BAT-CANON. Well, it certainly doesn’t have the sulfurous stench of the turd-gondolas coming up (Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, respectively). There is a sense of complete understanding of both the audience and the work on display. Nobody is convinced that this is meant to be anything other than it is, something so camp, it would make the Boy Scouts of America blush and fold their legs. It is more of a relic, than an addition, a time capsule sent to us from a time infected with crazy on such a basic level that it’s almost as though everyone is speaking a different language. It’s a movie like this that helps explain the early James Bond films and why they are so fervently beloved. It’s a Rosetta Stone of the past, helping us translate it into something palatable. It isn’t bad. It can’t be. Saying that this movie lacks plot, character and sense is like accusing of an elephant of being unable to climb trees. It could if it wanted to, but the elephant would probably look at the tree and think “who the fuck needs that?” Instead, it changes into a bikini and runs around giggling. That’s this movie. So, if you don’t like it, shut up and watch something else. This is history. Very, very confused (sexually and otherwise) history.

When this man is the movie’s voice of reason, you know something is wrong.

And now, a detailed log of my descent into near-alcohol poisoning!

Even the DVD menu has given me a wild boner. Dear god. What have I wrought? #batathon

“Is anyone else disturbed by the fact that Batman’s eyebrows are drawn on? He’s like a Geisha.” ~Kevin #batathon

COMMODORE SCHMIDLAPP! I think I might have just wet my pants.#batathon

The bat mobile is like knight rider’s uncool dad. #batathon

“Batcopter is the worst bat-thing. Other than bat dildo. Pointy.”#batathon

WHY WOULD YOU NEED WHALE REPELLENT? WHEN ARE WHALES BELLICOSE? THEY’RE WHALES! #batathon

Holy Alcohol Poisoning batman! Too many logics leaped! Speech…slurring… #batathon

Pirates? I’m not surprised. It’s almost like they add a layer of sanity to this mess. #batathon

Schmidlapp! It’s like a German sex game involving strippers, children and turmeric. #batathon

This art direction makes Lucy with the Sky With Diamonds look like Hemmingway. #batathon

Penguin-microphone. It’s like a microphone but an endangered species was ruthlessly murdered to make it. #batathon

The Riddler’s crotch confuses me. It’s like an Escher penis.#batathon

Penguin magnet? Does it only attract penguins? I HAVE QUESTIONS. #batathon

MORE LABELS! This shit is like Dora the mutherfucking explorer. But whiter. #batathon

Intercepting porpoises! Yessss #batathon

The Riddler looks like John Waters. But a sex offender. Well, more of a sex offender. #batathon

Exploding Octopus? Hold your orgasms, ladies. #batathon

Bruce Wayne, if Hugh Hefner ate a virgin’s heart. #batathon

“If the Joker is a problem, I’ll bash him brutally.” Is that…is that sex? Stop teasing us! Show us a bat-penis! #batathon

Bat penis. Like a regular penis, but it has a label. For prostitutes with learning disabilities. #batathon

The Iron Curtain, Catwoman’s name for her pussy. Also, the name of her vagina. #batathon

Commissioner Gordon was jailed Tuesday with a bat tattooed on his penis when he misunderstood the order to “Flash the bat-signal.”#batathon

Adam West quotes poetry. Every English teacher has a stroke.#batathon

“Is cat woman wearing an evil turtleneck?” #batathon

Dude just flew out of a window, fell into the water and exploded.#amazing #batathon

Batman Parking Only – The most annoying parking restriction of all time. #batathon

“You were under the influence of post-hypnotic suggestion.” Otherwise known as ecstasy. #batathon

“When a man in a mask offers you a pill, say no. Especially if he has rape spray.” #batathon

They manage to get from Apple Sauce and eggs to the UN. Good job guys. #brainmelt #batathon

Catwoman, carrying a cat. What is she? A fucking 23 year old my ex girlfriend? Crazy. #batathon

Catwoman’s cat is really pissed off right now. It’s like it’s a cat.#batathon

And Starring Mickey Rooney as the delegate from Japan. #batathon

“Well…yeah. Horses are really bad for cancer.” ~ Huntsberger.#batathon

I want to call everyone a feline floozy. I feel good about myself.#batathon

The Bat-charge looks like the cinematic equivalent of David Hasselhoff coming into your house and eating all your burgers.#batathon

“Dick’s got great aim with his big technicolored dream gun.” ~ Kevin.#batathon

FINALLY! Who do I have to fuck to get some onomatopoeia around here? #batathon

Why does Batman have a sword? #batathon

“There’s something about a man holding a limp hose and saying ‘solemn moment’ that just gets me.” ~ Huntsberger. #batathon

THE LIVING END? What does that even mean???? #batathon

That concludes round three. And, like a dog returning to its own shit in disgrace, so does the Bat-franchise return with Joel Schumacher’s attempts to murder everyone suffering from epilepsy. Join us next time for Round 4: Batman Forever.