Category: Movies

Summer Movie Roundup – some quick thoughts starting from “terrible” progressing to “not bad”

Ready Player One PosterReady Player One
It’s The Matrix if you replaced all of the characters with teenagers. Frankly, I can’t think of anything that is improved by replacing experienced professionals with teenagers.

Actually after seeing RP1, I re-watched all 3 Matrix movies and despite the fact that they are almost 20(!) years old, they have aged remarkably well. Surprisingly, the Animatrix has not aged well.

Rampage PosterRampage
It’s a movie based on a video game which was based on more movies. It’s so tired and derivative that the Rock looked like the only presence in the theater who was having any fun, and that included all the other actors, the CGI monsters and the audience.

Solo PosterSolo was underrated. Was it the best Star Wars movie? No, not even close – but it was still a good enjoyable movie and definitely worth a see.

Mission Impossible PosterMission Impossible – Fallout
What is it with Tom Cruise and running? All of his movies have extended scenes of him running and this one does not disappoint either. No jumping, no dodging, no weaving left to right… just running as fast as he possibly can… in a straight line… alone. Is he perchance spending the rest of his life compensating for losing out on a part in Chariots of Fire?

I will say tho, my inner “internet nerd” was very excited to see this movie just to experience the other side of Mustachegate. For those not caught up on this little side show… just prior to the filming of Mission Impossible, Henry Cavill had finished filming in Fox’s Justice League as the clean shaven Superman. Subsequently, Justice League went through a director change and new leadership desired additional footage and had to call the actors back. Well, filming on MI was in full swing at this point and MI’s studio Paramount wouldn’t let Cavill shave the mustache that he grew for MI so Fox shot the new JL scenes with a hirsute Cavill and then had the mustache digitally removed. The CGI was pretty poorly done and it resulted in some pretty creepy “uncanny valley” scenes (you know, when the CGI is good, but not good enough for you to know it isn’t fake).

At least Cavill was a good sport about it.

Anyways, back to the original point, Mission Impossible was not a perfect movie – the helicopter scene at the end was a touch long and not having seen the previous couple of MI movies, there were a few too many characters who you didn’t know exactly where they fit in but overall it was solidly entertaining summer blockbuster fair.

I just saw Cars 3, A.K.A. Pixar does Rocky

My son is a huuge fan of the Cars movies. He doesn’t leave the house unless he is wearing Lightning McQueen and owns more than his fair share of Cars toys. As such, it was a foregone conclusion that we would be seeing Cars 3 on opening weekend. Having just returned from this, I was initially struck by the incredbile similarity with the single most awesome Rocky movie ever, Rocky IV. However, upon further examination, I am realizing more and more similarities with the significantly more terrible (but still oh, so awesome) Rocky III.

Let’s delve into this in a little more detail…

Theme from Cars 3 Rocky III Rocky IV Notes
Bad guy’s name is an obvious play on the good guy’s name Come on, Lightning/Storm, Rocky/Clubber
Hero is motivated by the death of a coach Rocky sure had a lot of coaches die. Seriously, the worst job in the world is a redshirt on the USS Enterprise and second is being a trainer for Rocky
Bad guy making inappropriate advances to the hero’s lady partner Well, as inappropriate as can get in a Pixar movie
Hero has to recover confidence after being soundly defeated by a black man
Training montage Honestly, Rocky 3 may have had one, but the montage in 4 really sets the bar for all time
Bad guy is a product of technology while the hero is all heart
Bad guy trains in a super modern facility while hero roughs it
Running on the beach as training
Babe who leers menacingly at the hero Granted the statician babe car is no Bridgette Fonda, but you get the idea
Hero finally beating his trainer proving he’s ready to finally do battle with the bad guy Nice play on this in Cars
Conquering age to be the champ again Fine, this didn’t actually happen in either of these Rockys. However, considering they made at least 3 more Rocky movies (Rocky V, Rocky Balboa and Creed) after Stallone turned 80, I have to think that this theme must have been touched on at some point
Competition at the end between coach and student with outcome uncertain

Verdict: Clearly, the more memorable Rocky IV should not overshadow the influence that the terrible (but oh so awesome) Rocky III had on this movie.

Avengers II

We saw the new Avengers movie last weekend. While I get that it is really hard to make a movie with that many main characters and not get muddled, this one was really a step down from the first. More galling was the fact that it struck me as the exact same movie as the first one, just more vague.

In both movies:

  • Apparently, fighting bad guys is not enough, so for some reason, 2-3 of the Avengers fight amongst themselves
  • After that, everyone goes to a home place to hang out and talk amongst themselves, for some reason. Some boring “character development”/exposition happens
  • The Avengers start arguing amongst themselves
  • One of the big strong guys just leaves/disappears
  • The bad guy who wants to conquer/destroy the world, for some vague unspecified reason, starts his plan which ends in an invasion
  • The big strong guy who ran away earlier, reappears just in time
  • All the Avengers fight an army
  • Iron man makes a grand gesture, seemingly sacrificing himself but doesn’t, proving he is not a self absorbed, narcissistic asshole, even tho he spends the entire movie showing that he is

Bad Movies – part 3 of 3

Finally, a movie that was so bad, that, well it was just so bad: Plan 9 From Outer Space

This movie pissed me off. This is supposed to be one of those classic great “bad” movie and after the previous two unintended great “bad” movies, I was looking forward to this one.

From the beginning it became clear to me that dialog this bad does not happen by accident, it was clearly intentional. And the special effects… it is one thing to take a cheesy paper cutout of a flying saucer and suspend it from a string, but to be so lazy as to not even some sort of fishing line which at least tries to be clear made it apparent to me that this wasn’t a great movie made badly or even a bad movie made badly… this was a movie which tried to be funny by being bad, but only succeeded at being bad.

The best hallmark of how much this movie sucked was that despite repeated attempts, I couldn’t get past more than the first half an hour or so.

While we are on the topic of bad movies, I started thinking of the other type of bad film… the one which aspires for greatness – it has the budget, the star cast and the promotional muscle behind it to be the next big mega mega blockbuster. However, some combination of fatal flaws causes it to enter the realm of something that can be referred to as Worst… Movie… Ever…!

In no particular order, here are a couple that come to mind. Let me know of others…

  • Waterworld – The start of Kevin Costner’s long decent into hell…
  • Battlefield Earth – I really thought that this had the potential to be one of the “so bad it’s funny” types… it wasn’t. Sometimes when everybody tells you to avoid a movie, listen to them!!!
  • Robocop 3 – The first movie in this trilogy was probably one of the most awesome ever. Compared to that, it’s not surprising that the second didn’t live up. But the third… let me just say while Japanese ninja robots wearing suits and cowboy boots may sound awesome… they weren’t… and they certainly weren’t enough to save this utter train wreck of a film
  • A Night At the Roxbury – I dragged a bunch of friends to this when it was in the theater and it has caused irreparable harm to said friendship… one of them even tried to have me killed at his wedding…

Bad Movies – part 2 of 3

Moving on to bad movie number two – for completely different reasons, this is another movie which was so terrible, yet so totally enjoyable…

The 1966 version of Batman, starring Adam West

This movie was freaking awesome… on one hand, it was actually a little self-aware in how over the top cheesy it was… from the obvious fact that all the main characters were dudes in weird costumes to the overly dramatic acting to the overly complicated (to the point of non-sensical) technical jargon… “dehydrated pirates re-hydrated with our heavy water that we use to recharge the atomic pile so were in a highly unstable condition which reduced then to anti-matter when struck” made it clear that this movie didn’t take itself too seriously (I just love the fact that the Bat-Coptor’s standard equipment includes Barracuda Repellent, Whale Repellent, Manta-Ray Repellent and Shark Repellent).

Yet for so many more unintended reasons, even more cheese oozes throughout this movie.

Why do Batman and Robin have to run everywhere they go??

So much of the behavior seems so totally anachronistic today…

  • The general complete deference and unquestioning of authority
  • The sense that the United Nations is our only true hope for world peace
  • The sense that if the problems of the world could just be handled by the scientists and smart people, then everything would be ok

Sigh, it actually wouldn’t be such a bad thing if these were a little more prevalent…

And then there was Adam West. On top of all the cheese, he tried so hard to be suave and sophisticated as well but combined with the Shatner-esque stilted speaking manner just came off as completely corny.

There was a good mix of cheesy dialog, bad effects (the rubber shark stuck to Batman’s leg – did I mention the shark repellent?), action (“POW”) and moments of ridiculous logic that it kept it interesting till the end.

Speaking of which… during the credits I noticed… the Penguin was Burgess Meredith? Wasn’t that the yelling old guy from Rocky??

Quite possible the 2 best "bad" moves ever (and the worst "bad" movie ever) – Part 1 of 3

There are 2 types of really bad movies, 1) movies that are so bad that they make you want to walk out of the theater on a good day and claw out your eyeballs with an electric toothbrush on a bad one and 2) movies that are so bad that they are funny.

I saw 3 movies recently which were really bad. The first 2 were so bad they were funny and the third was, well, just bad. Let’s start with the good…

The made-for-TV movie, The Pirates of Silicon Valley

This dramatization of the rise of Microsoft and Apple through the 80s and 90s contained enough geek references to entertain the nerds, enough references to familiar products to appeal to the normals and enough ridiculous drama to be make it a hoot to watch. It didn’t try to be all self-important like the Social Network. There was no sense that it was trying to be an accurate representation of the conflict – it was the epitome of an overdone made for TV drama.

The characters were just hilarious,

    • Steve Jobs as the self-absorbed, LSD tripping new age hippy asshole
  • Steve Balmer as the beer drinking, porn loving, strip-club going frat-boy
  • Bill Gates as the lying, evil little nerdy guy – ok, actually this one was played probably not too far from what most people assume is reality

While the characterizations were over the top, the characters developed as the movie progressed and made you care about the outcome. This is the hallmark of a good “bad” movie, it is terrible, but you still want to watch it.

Adding to the funniness of the movie was how times have changed since this. In 1999, Apple sold 1 machine for every gazillion that had Windows on it. Apple’s market cap was a drop of bird poo on Microsoft’s Stretch Suburban. Apple didn’t even have a mobile OS, (while Microsoft was rockin’ Windows CE 2.0). There was no “i” anything.

The Pirates of Silicon Valley 2 is going to be a *veeery* different movie.

Amitabh Bachchan, the man, the myth

I was poking thru a Hindi movie store in Toronto and have come to the conclusion that Amitabh Bachchan has been in every single Bollywood movie made in the last 30 years.

Yes, every single one.

Think about what this means: Bollywood cranks out roughly 800 movies per year – at this rate, Amitabh doesn’t so much film specific movies as he must have multiple cameras on him all the time filming him in a Truman Show/Big Brother-esque fashion.

This brings me to my second point. You ready for this? This is a dirty little secret that Bollywood doesn’t want you to find out. I think that… now listen closely… <whisper>he’s just not that good an actor</whisper>.

I know that this statement may get me killed in certain parts of the world and there are certain people who will never speak to me again, but it must be said. He has no subtlety in his actions, in fact I would say that he is the king of over-acting. Anytime you want to see a ridiculous over-the-top portrayal of anything… Amitabh Bachchan is your man. Look, he has a very sexy voice and is a pretty studly guy, I just wouldn’t cast him in a movie where that whole “realism” thing was demanded.

My own personal hell

I have recently been subjected to my own personal hell… an entire week where the only activity was to watch Bollywood movies.

What we saw:

  • Don [then said in low echoing voice] Don Don Don Don
    As complicated as the first Mission Impossible but it’s 3 hrs long so there is soooo much more time to pack in confusing details and twists. Actually the final twist was pretty cool and made the movie almost worth watching. Low expectations here helped.
  • Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna (Don’t Say Goodbye)
    This movie was over 3 hours long. This is equivalent to over 6 half hour TV episodes and if you include commercials it is more like 8 episodes. This *one* movie had enough romantic melodrama as a *full season* of TV.
  • Umrao Jaan, or as I like to call it Ashwaria’s Wretched Miserable Miserable Life
    Sort of a sad, Memoirs of a Geisha. Actually, it’s very reminiscent in tone to The Passion except with a *more* wretched ending.
  • Chini Cam (Amitabh’s Cook Movie)
    Don’t get me started on Amitabh Bachchan, more later.
  • Jurm (Wife killing movie)
    I missed the first 2 hours of this, luckily for me there was like another 5 hours left. This movie hit every single Hindi movie stereotype imaginable… campy, bad acting, overacting, drawn out, long, cheesy dialog, ridiculous action, too much makeup, need to spontaneously break out into song…

Observations from recent travels

CHUM FM sign
It addition to it just being a funny sounding word, I think CHUM is a bad name for a radio station because (for me) it first invokes an image of a bucket of bloody meat

This sign more reminds me of something that you would see on the marina of Amity Island where Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss would shove off to go kick some great white ass than in downtown Toronto.

The only saving grace of the movie Sahara, was that it killed two hours of a cross-country flight without making me want to kill myself… barely.

In a performance only slightly less gut-wrenching than Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist in The World Is Not Enough, Penelope Cruz made me want positively hurl as a doctor for the World Health Organization.

And it only went downhill from there.

The utterly non-sensical plot, uninspired vehicle chases and gut-wrenching dialog made me truly wonder how brain-dead you have to be before they will let you run a movie studio.

Is it me, or does it look like the New York Department of Parks and Recreation was acquired by Air Canada?

…or is it the other way around…?

Air Canada

NY Park sign

Dubya’s energy plan… or lack thereof

From today’s news – US to reject germ-warfare pact. It seems to me that dubya needs to spend less time telling the world to kiss his ass and more time coming up with an energy plan that at least tries to address the vicious cycle of fossil fuel use and global warming.

On a related note, do you realize that they already have made a movie out of dubya’s energy plan? It is called The Naked Gun 2½. The bad guys in the movie and dubya seem identical ideas when it comes to energy use. At least the good guys in the movie prevailed…