Archive for the ‘2006’ Category

Up, Up and Straight Up My Ass – Superman Returns: To Be Boring

December 8, 2008

Look, up there in the sky! It’s a reboot! It’s a sequel! No… it’s another tepid Superman movie.


Superman was in limbo (or the Phantom Zone, if you prefer) for almost two decades after the world at large recoiled from Superman IV in disgust after waking up from a decade’s worth of coke-filled binges which are the only explanation I can think of for Superman’s Pryor prior success. All we were left with was a steaming crater that was filled by the worst television series ever. After Burton swooped in a few years later and reinvigorated the idea of superhero movies and a collection of sweaty-palmed DC editors decided to kill off Superman in the early 90s, the cogs were set in motion for Superman’s eventual big screen revival.

Burton, the superhero “it” boy, was originally approached to direct a movie supposedly titled Superman Lives! written by Kevin Smith. The nitty gritty of how doomed this venture was is best detailed by Smith himself in An Evening with Kevin Smith, but a few gems polar bear mentioning. Burton wanted to basically turn Superman into a sci-fi space opera with Superman (played by Nicholas Cage?!) wearing a redesigned, futuristic suit and fighting against the monster Doomsday on Krypton. And somehow this would all involve giant spiders and a Superman that never flew.

Fortunately, that project collapsed. And so did the myriad of rumored attempts between that and what eventually became Superman Returns. There’s no real way for me to know what really did go down, but IMDB listed fauxteurs McG and Brett Ratner as directors that made it into pre-production. Most of the scripts apparently dealt with Superman’s death and return, because he isn’t already enough like Jesus. The most cockamamie thing I heard from this period was that J.J. Abrams had been tapped to write a script that involved Superman and Kryptonian civil wars and Lex Luthor would be an FBI agent that was secretly a fellow Kryptonian or some nonsense like that.

After all that failed, WB asked the one guy that seemed to have the best track record with superhero movies at the time: Bryan Singer, the man who had built X-Men up into a respectable franchise. Although Singer was already committed to X-Men 3, who could blame him for abandoning ship and choosing to tackle Superman instead? Superman’s an ICON. You don’t get a crack at interpreting Superman every day and he’d already made two successful X-Men movies, why bother making a third? I’ll always have to wonder, though, what kind of world we’d be living in if we’d gotten the Singer-directed X-Men 3 and Ratner had followed through on Superman. Because what ended up happening was just tragic for everyone.

In space, no one can hear you bore


Dead Rising: Where the dead envy the shopping

November 7, 2007

Continuing on our rampage of belated Halloween horror, I finally (finally!) managed to finish Xbox 360 survival horror (?) game Dead Rising. I have to say, I wasn’t sure about the game when I first heard of it. It seemed like a sort of cheap, derivative idea. Chase zombies around a shopping mall? Gee. Where have I heard that before? But when I finally got my Xbox 360, I had a distinct lack of games to play for it, besides Hexic and a bunch of demos like Tomb Raider (ehhh) and Kameo (blehhh). I decided to root around the Xbox Marketplace for more fresh meat when I came across the Dead Rising demo. Sure, why not? I asked myself. I left it to download and went to go see some fireworks. When I got back, it was done and I booted it up. Whoa. This was actually cool! I could just run around and fuck up zombies with a bunch of wacky stuff! It ended up on the short list of birthday presents I requested. And I got it! Did the full game live up to the demo experience?


(grumplet) Arcade Action – Crank

September 1, 2007


Crank is brilliant as it is stupid. Jason Statham, the bald-headed paradigm of badass masculinity, wreaks havoc on Los Angeles enacting every destructive impulse to ever rivet a gamer’s Mountain Dew-addled brain. The movie plays out like a video game would, opening with Atari bleeps and bloops and an 8-bit title, laying out its premise immediately: a mobster poisoned Jason so he goes out for revenge. He phones his laidback doctor who instructs him to stay alive by keeping his adrenaline up. In video game terms that means racking up points or collecting power-ups, which Jason effectively does. A mix of Time Crisis and Grand Theft Auto, stealing a cop’s motorcycle, breaking into a hospital for epinephrine and having public sex in Chinatown awards Jason with more adrenaline, and thus more time. One can imagine a little HEALTH guage filling with each thrust and each kill, as a timer rapidly counts down. 

It’s bloody outrageous but oddly existential. Haven’t you ever wondered what you would do your last day alive? Jason has a tough time accepting his fate so he does what he can with his remaining life – mess everything up. He seizes the day! And several grams of coke as well. Drugs are consumed like air and water, or 1-Up mushrooms, so to speak, so that he may keep going. Hallucinations inevitably occur and, according to his warped state of mind, only the searing flesh of his hand in a waffle iron can snap him out of it. A peculiar episode happens late in the movie where he hears the voices of several characters from the movie, including his own, out of the mouth of an Asian businessman. Upon hearing his own voice come he asks “Who the hell are you?” Deep, man. It amuses me that Crank may harbor a rich philosophy.

Jason harbors a sweet girlfriend played by everygirl Amy Smart, who hiccups through his confession that he’s a mob hitman and not, as he led her to believe, the beefiest video game programmer alive. (Though I do know a pretty beefy L.A. video game programmer. Joe! Yo Joe! This is a shout out! A shout out to YOOUU!! We should get drinks when I come over there! Get drinks and watch Crank and play video games!! WOOO!) Jason’s and Amy’s relationship is thankfully kept out of the limelight, though I suppose there is a hint he’ll gain an heir when,  post public coitus, she loses her birth control pills in the middle of an escape.

The action and chases are done pretty well with some decent gore and the cheapest green screen effects you’re likely to see this side of Superman. Cheesy and tongue-in-cheek, Crank plays more like a spoof than a full-on action movie with most of the tight 80+ minutes dedicated to Jason and his co-stars screaming some truly filthy dialogue at each other, full of “faggots”, “cocksuckers” and “motherfuckers.” Plus, Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite shows up as a gay sidekick whose brutal murder and subsequent corpse defiling almost makes up for… no, no, nevermind. No amount of defilement could quite make up for Napoleon Dynamite.

Back to Jason, his aerodynamic brow furrowed, heavy jaw half-clenched, he plows through the movie with a ferocious presence I can’t help but admire (and maybe, secretly desire. But don’t tell anybody). Since The Rock is stuck in Disney football movies and Vin Diesel’s off playing D&D the world should be thankful Jason Statham is around. Reputable thespians with whispy facial hair like Tobey Maguire and Robert Downey may take on the big superhero roles today but Jason Statham, a black belt Olympic diver, is a true swashbuckler who does his own stuntwork and knows real martial arts. With WAR out now and several more in the pipeline on his IMDB page it looks like he won’t burn out anytime soon.   

Inland Empire: ???

August 19, 2007

[02:19] JohnnyMora: oh
[02:19] JohnnyMora: my
[02:19] JohnnyMora: god
[02:19] SirTMagus: …
[02:19] JohnnyMora: what did i just watch
[02:19] SirTMagus: \:3
[02:19] JohnnyMora: i
[02:19] JohnnyMora: i don’t know if i can grump it
[02:20] SirTMagus: I know.
[02:20] SirTMagus: It’s… futile.

Inland Empire - A Woman in Trouble


The Good German: Where’s the Good Movie?

August 2, 2007

aka Woman Walking Up and Down Stairs

I was first alerted to The Good German‘s existence during the trailers for the excellent sci-fi/period/philosophical movie The Fountain, aka Hugh Jackman Making Out With Trees. I was impressed by the amount of retro style it had, along with the names attached. Clooney? Blanchett? SODERBERGH? Was there any WAY this movie could disappoint me?!


Deja Spew

June 28, 2007

Some people eat popcorn when they watch movies. Others eat candy.

Me? Pork, baby.

Pork doesn’t make Deja Vu much better though.



PSP Mega Man is mega tough

June 20, 2007

As of 2007, Final Fantasy, Castlevania and Metal Gear are all now 20 years old. Mega Man also abandons his greasy and frustrating teen years this year, now a slightly-less greasy and frustrating 20-years-young mega man. I always liked the little guy even if after 20 years he hasn’t grown up that much. Lord knows I give Square Enix a lot of guff but no one can deny Capcom is the posterchild supreme of repetition. Their few attempts at original franchises either make way for more sequels, or they’re TOO original and critically lauded that consumers are intimidated away to safe bets like, uh, Mega Man sequels and spin-offs.

Mega Man hasn’t had anything exciting to do in a while. The Mega Man Legends series was the last kick in the pants the franchise got and that was whenever Playstation 1 was still cutting-edge. There are rumblings of a possible Mega Man Legends 3, otherwise it’s been Battle Networks, Mega Man X spin-offs and two PSP remakes.

By the Maker, what is it with me and remakes?