All right, all right I can admit when I’m wrong. When the G.I Joe live action movie was announced I was excited, but then the trailer came out and it looked like a total disaster. It came up in every conversation I had with my legion of nerds (I’m trying out new things to call my cabal of friends) and we all laughed and cringed at how bad the movie looked. There was talk of seeing it just to see the car crash that we all knew was coming, I even read the awful comic book adaptation…even though I admit I skimmed through it because the story was pretty brutal. So when I settled down to watch the movie I was excited to see how bad the movie was, but surprise at the end of the movie I didn’t hate it or think it was the worst thing ever created.
I will also gladly admit that as a kid and today I LOVE action movies. As a kid I also loved G.I Joe, even more than Ninja Turtles and Transformers for a time(never Ghostbusters, I wasn’t crazy). I spent most of my time as a kid playing with my G.I Joe toys and imagining my own “epic” movies and that’s kinda what I got from the movie. Now while I say that, the movie isn’t the G.I Joe movie I dreamed of all those years ago. I got that movie in the animated one, that movie is one of the biggest influences in the way I judge and enjoy action movies.
G.I. Joe:Rise of Cobra is effectively a live action play session that I used to have as a kid, complete with amateurish story structure/dialogue/creativity. This movie’s not made for adults, simple and plain. The movie doesn’t have or play by it’s own rules. There’s a certain rule with movies or just any work of fiction, to get a good story you have to play by the rules of the world your story is in. In the movie Duke and Ripcord use battle suits, which help them run after and keep up with a hummer. That being said the movie proceeds to invalidate the need for the suits, when Snake Eyes catches the hummer…on foot. Later still Storm Shadow out runs Ripcord on foot, after being inside a car that for some reason Duke shot a rocket at and it only blew up the back of the car not igniting the gas tank that is in the half of the car that blows up. The movie constantly breaks and invalidates rules they set up through character dialogue and actions.
I also couldn’t get who’s point of view the movie was trying to show because at first I thought it was just a Duke centric movie because they shove in a old relationship with the Baroness that is pretty weak but adds more to the dynamic than just Cobra bad, Joe good. Then all of a sudden we switch, for a few seconds to a Snake eyes centric movie with more flashbacks. The other characters get kinda short changed in that we learn about them in dialogue, no flashbacks…thank god. Even there we only get to learn the bare minimum about Scarlett and Ripcord, not enough to really warrant the time they’re given. At least they get time, because the other joes, all two of them get nothing at all. For a movie about G.I. Joe it was basically about Duke and Snake Eyes who just happen to know people in Cobra.
I’m not even going to get into the awful design and execution of Cobra Commander, he used to be one of my favorite villains but they made him Dr. Mindbender for most of the movie and then gave him a mask that looked like the fake heart from CRANK 2: HIGH VOLTAGE. Zartan was also pretty crappy in every scene. I know it sounds like I hated it, but I had fun. It’s dumb, loud and the CG looks awful but the movies still better than Van Helsing and a few other action movies I’ve seen this year so far. Sometimes I need a break from heavy dramas and need some really, really dumb escapist action.
I’ll admit here and now that I wasn’t exactly excited when I heard McG was tapped to direct a fourth Terminator movie. I still remember fondly what it was like to see T2 in the theater with my dad, having not seen the 1st Terminator movie, and walking out loving the Terminator franchise. Then there was nothing for a long time, until T3 came out and just seeing the trailers made me cringe so I waited on the dvd and wanted to weep because it was so bland. Not really awful mind you, just bland and not as cool as T2. It seemed like T4 was going to do the same when I saw the first teaser trailer and I wrote it off. But when I saw the longer trailer I couldn’t believe how excited I got just because the washed out colors, I got giddy. So when May 21st rolled around I sat down for the first showing of the day and settled in for lots of explosions and gun fire, keeping myself away from story points. Once the lights came on I was glad that I made myself forget what I felt when I watched T3 and saw this movie.
Terminator Salvation does something different and finally puts the story in the fabled “future” the franchise had built it’s story around. John Conner(CHRISTIAN BALE) isn’t the official leader of the resistance, and it’s obvious at the start of the movie with Conner going on a grunt mission. I found myself really enjoying this John Conner. I instantly thought of the bits from the bible that don’t really delve into Jesus’ time before being all saintly(could be wrong, but have to admit never really delved into the bible). As a aspiring writer that part of the story is usually the most interesting to me. I want to see the hero/heroine before they’re the head honcho. John Conner is angry, stubborn and flawed and it’s great to see. This John Conner reminds me of the character in T2, and not the loser from T3. The grunts Conner is with all die and he survives a pretty kick ass fight with a terminator and does the usual thing and argues with his commanding officers, who are all too old and set in they’re ways to see that they suck. It’s the usual old vs young arguement we get in movies. I haven’t enjoyed the character John Conner this much in a long time, be it the character in Sarah Conner Chronicles(most of the time) or in T2, this is the John Conner I want.
I’m not going to go through the whole story because I really enjoyed the experience I got from seeing the movie without any real big story points. It made it a more entertaining viewing for me. I talked to Joe today and he told me that some reviewers are calling it ‘visually entertaining’ but not up to the ‘heritage of the franchise’. Here’s where this review kinda turns into a op ed peice. So just to get it out of the way, I really enjoyed TERMINATOR SALVATION. It’s good, it’s not the best movie ever but I really enjoyed the story and visuals.
CHARLES’ GRADE: B+
PROS: VISUAL STYLE, THE ACTION, IT’S TERMINATOR, DRAMA WITH MY BIG ACTION
CONS:SOME DIALOGUE DOESN’T HIT IN THE RIGHT WAY, FELT A LITTLE SMALL ON THE STORY END
Now to the idea that this movie isn’t up to the heritage of the franchise…That kinda crap kinda gets on my nerves. I applaud McG for having the stones to make a Terminator movie. I applaud anyone for stepping in to direct a sequel or part of a franchise movie because it’s a kind of thankless job. No matter what you do your going to get some people who’ve already made up their mind to dislike what you do. I know from experience, when you go into a movie with that kind of mindset all it takes is something small to feul your turn on the movie. That mind set can come from all different kind of places. It can come from friends, or some odd ideal that I call the “selective fanboy memory”. The “selective fanboy memory” is the weird practice of remembering a movie from your childhood/adolescence in a insanely glossy way. It happens for most franchises: Indiana Jones, Star Wars, etc. etc. The funny thing is it usually happens for movies that have had three or more movies. When the prequel trilogy came out old school ‘Wars’ fans were out raged that it wasn’t just the same story that had come before and accused Lucas of “raping childhoods” they even had a South Park episode dealing with this idiotic mindset. I love some Star Wars and when Episode I kinda left me bland(mostly because of the Pod race and Jar Jar) but I can enoy it and the other two prequels for what they are, more stories from a franchise I loved. When Indy 4 came out people were rallying against the Atomic Bomb scene, the aliens, and the monkey swinging scene. I really like Indy 4, but I knew what I was getting before I watched it. I knew about the aliens and when the A Bomb scene happened I said, “well alright, this is what’s going on so I’m down…Let’s see how crazy this movie is going to get” and I enjoyed the rest of the movie like I would any of the pulp action stories that the series was based on. I still don’t get how people can swallow all the christian stuff in the 1st and 3rd movie but can’t just let the aliens thing go. Terminator seems to fall into this as well. I’ve rewatched the 1st one and the 3rd one last week(didn’t need to rewatch the 2nd as I’ve watched it a million times) . The 3rd one wasn’t the total abomination I made it out to be when it came out. It’s not good, but to me it’s just the story of the fact that sometimes we fail and have to make the best of it. The first one is a B movie, but it’s mostly a drama about fate and being a slave to the future(once again to me). I enjoy the Terminator franchise a lot, but it’s basically a story about the human spirit and Salvation is all about that. Marcus Wright’s character, while being a machine, still has his heart and wants to believe he can make amends for his past and finally do something worthwhile…or human. Marcus had pretty much been a cold, heartless criminal and it took him being turned into a machine to finally touch into his humanity. John Conner’s story in SALVATION is that even during this awful war against the machines he’s trying to help the resistance keep it’s humanity. I love discussing my views on themes in movies, but at the heart of it all the Terminator movies are action movies with some drama and a few things you can delve deeper into, but it’s Machines trying to destroy the human condition. I’m not a perfect nerd, but I’m trying to stop idolizing things from my childhood, because I think it does those things a disservice by not taking the time or care to let them evolve with you. Oh and GHOSTBUSTERS is still the funniest movie ever, and nothing’s ever going to change my mind on that.
I’m just gonna say it now so people can rant at me: “I don’t really care for the Watchmen comic.” While I do see and understand why people rant and rave about it, I put it in the same category I put Citizen Kane in. Like Citizen Kane, Watchmen is a great story, but it’s pretty boring…to me. When I was younger I felt like I “needed” to go along with the crowd and say how great it was, but after rereading it last year and watching the motion comic recently I feel like there’s alot of good stuff in it, but there’s also alot of stuff that literally grinds the interesting parts to a hault. When the movie was announced and actually got made I was interested to see if Zack Synder could “trim the fat” so to speak. Thankfully(in my eyes) he did. Gone is the really boring (to me) Black Freighter allegory stuff and meetings and conversations are either smashed together or cut (thank god, the Rorschach and Moloc stuff is so much better trimmed down).
While watching the movie it was much easier to get the feeling of dread that I just couldn’t make myself feel for the characters in the comic. I loved seeing the characters living and breathing, although at times some of the performances were a bit stiff. Like in the comic I instantly took a liking of Rorschach, Niteowl, and Silk Spectre II. After seeing Jackie Earl Haley’s performance as Rorschach I’ll watch anything he’s in, although I already have but it was mostly cause he was in Bad News Bears. To me this movie works because there aren’t any huge stars, because it makes it easier to “believe” them as the characters for almost three hours. I already know I’m not going to be popular for saying I didn’t really like the comic, that along with me preferring the film I also prefer the films ending to the story. I’m not going to spoil the comic ending cause I’m not that guy, but this ending while frustrating and kinda neatly scrubbed over I don’t mind. I may really like the movie and the movie’s ending but I can see a lot of people not liking either. I can see the comic book purists who don’t want movies based on comics to have their own thing (I can be that way sometimes but I understand what makes the two art forms so different) and people who know nothing of the story being bored if they go into it expecting just another popcorn flick. This isn’t Iron Man, this is Watchmen.
CHARLES GRADE: A
PROS: TRIMMING THE FAT, GOOD NO BIG NAME CAST, NOT A POPCORN FLICK
CONS: SOME STIFF ACTING HERE AND THERE, NO CAPTAIN METROPOLIS AT THE LAST MEETING
By now anyone who’s been paying attention(no one but me and Joe that I know of), DC has a history of making awesome animated projects(not even going to talk about the clusterpuck that was Gotham Knights). They’ve covered two of the DC Trinity (Bats and Supes) individually with Wonder Woman only getting a smaller part in NEW FRONTIER. With WONDER WOMAN we finally get this classic characters solo story. When I started to watch the movie I was instantly surprised that they decided to go with a much more violent Amazon…by surprised I mean happily surprised. The movie opens up with the God of War, Ares(Alfred Molina), taking on Hippolyta(Virginia Madsen) and the amazons in full scale battle. The fight is shown in all it’s violent glory, we get to see Artemis(Rosario Dawson) reveal in the blood lust and Ares and Hippolyta’s son slaying Amazons with ease. Here’s where we get to the first of two big decapitations.
DC has always had some of the best fight scenes in animation, look at any of their cartoons and the fights always have a sense of scale and importance. Wonder Woman has that in spades, even when WW is fighting one monster in the streets of DC it still feels like an epic battle. When during a battle against some enemy, Col. Steve Trevor(Nathon Fillon) crashes onto Paradise Island we get to see Diana(Keri Russell) get a chance to become the representative of the Amazons to the world(by secret of course). Of course Trevor has a thing for Diana, we can’t just have it be about Diana becoming Wonder Woman and stopping Ares from destroying the world. To be honest this movie isn’t the greatest Wonder Woman story ever told, as a character she hasn’t been known(to me) to have that one great story like the death of Superman. I hate to say it about the most well known female characters in comics but to me I’ve only ever really enjoyed her in JLA issues or team ups with Batman or Superman. I’ve read her book off and on as long as I can remember but I usually lose interest when it gets boring. What this movie did was help me remember that Wonder Woman is a really interesting character when examined as a character whose both warrior and peaceful in the same breath.
CHARLES’ GRADE: A
PROS: STORY DOESN’T OVER STAY IT’S WELCOME, THE USUAL AWESOME DC ANIMATED FIGHT SCENES, GREAT VOICE CAST
CON: WONDER WOMAN AND AMAZONS FIGHTING IN DC AT THE WHITE HOUSE AND SUPERMAN DOESN’T AT LEAST MAKE AN APPEARANCE…I KNOW IT’S ALL I COULD THINK OF I REALLY LIKED THIS MOVIE.
My first vivid memory of Jason is from Friday the 13th part 3 when I was in Elementary school. Luckily my parents weren’t overally protective of what I watched as long as I understood it was just entertainment. Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street were my first horror movies and imagine my excitement with the news that a reboot of Friday the 13th was coming. As soon as I saw the scene where Jason runs towards a downed woman I smiled and proclaimed that I had to see that movie. So after seeing it, did the movie live up to my fanboy expectations? Yes and no.
There’s a formula to the Friday the 13th series and this movie used alot of it, but scrapped some of my favorite. This reboot takes stuff from 2 and 3, but puts it in “present day”. I liked the fact that they left the original movie alone and built a new start from that. I heard that there was supposed to be 13 kills in this movie, but only counted 11. A big number to be sure, but some of the deaths where just rehashes of earlier movies. I read a ton of interviews/articles with the director and cast touting the creativity of the kills in this movie and really wondered where that creativity was 90% of the time. Most of the kills where the same kills you’ve seen in every Friday the 13th movie ever, and I’ve seen them all (except Jason X, I just won’t do it). During the movie the drug and sex stuff was just as dumb and tacked on as before, so it kept within it’s wheel house.
I know that people are supposed to be dumb in horror movies, but some of the characters where oddly suicidial. Two examples stick out to me the most. When the “nice girl” and the “hero guy” first stumble upon a corpse carrying Jason and manage to evade him, the guy actually starts to follow the seven foot Jason…he actually says “Where’s he going?” and starts to follow him until the nice girl stops him. Then when everyone (living) knows that there’s a pyscho killer outside, one of the group goes outside BY HIMSELF to look for a friend who is obviously dead already and his “friends” argue with him for about 2 seconds before giving up. I have to say that this movie has about the dumbest group of pyscho killer cannon fodder I’ve seen in a long time.
I had almost forgot what it was like to watch a slasher flick in the theater. I mean the last one I saw in the theater was Scream 3 with my best friend Te-Lo. If I decide to watch one it’s usually in the comfort of my home and it’s like night and day. Now that being said I could have done without the three talkative 15 year olds and their mom. At the end of the day the movie was alright, it wasn’t as good as the Texas Chainsaw remake but it is light years better than the awful Prom Night remake and the Texas Chainsaw prequel.
CHARLE’S GRADE: C+
PROS: It’s a Friday the 13th movie
CONS:The predictable jump scares, the aggravatingly cliche jump scare ending, the extremely suicidal character choices
Well I’m going to try and keep this short because I don’t wanna remember this movie for longer than I have to. I went into this movie expecting it to be bad, it’s hard not to from the commercials that ran. Seeing the trailer and knowing Frank Miller’s style I expected to hate the dialogue and the overall writting. I went mostly to see if I could find some joy in the camp and visual style that Frank Miller can’t seem to shed for his life. Even with those low expectations this movie disappointed. The movies just out and out awful, this is what I’ve been saying about Frank Miller’s writting since after his stint on DAREDEVIL and BATMAN:YEAR ONE (the only Frank Miller stories I think are of any real quality). He’s got such a hard on for “Noir” speak that his overall work suffers. The Spirit basically has no reason for being made because it accomplishes nothing. It’s all visual and no substance, which is the Frank Miller way. The acting is so annoyingly campy I think Adam West and Willam Shatner would be embrassed. The only real shining light in this SIN CITY clone is the women, who are some of the hottest women around. The Spirit and The Octopus can’t die, so how do they relate drama…well there isn’t any. The base of suspense is that The Octopus is trying to become a god before The Spirit can stop him, and all the pretended suspense is under mined constantly because they keep telling us that they can heal fast.
I didn’t read the original Spirit comics, but I have read the Batman crossovers and the awesome relaunch of the series by DARWIN COOKE. I didn’t hate SIN CITY, but I didn’t love it either…in movie or comic form. The same goes for 300, I initially liked the idea of taking a comic and making it a movie but by the end I felt it was a lazy and gutless way to keep fanboys from getting pissed. Doing a strict shot for shot version of a comic is pointless because I could just read the comic. That being said, I too get annoyed when movies take the essence of a character and change it but that’s what makes comics and film so different. I get mad, but I get over it. I don’t fault Frank Miller for trying to do something “different” with The Spirit. I fault him because it was lazy awful movie that just rehashed the look and feel of his earlier Dark Horse stuff.
CHARLES’ GRADE: D-
PROS:EVA MENDES, SCARLETT JOHANSSON, PAZ VEGA, THE YOUNG DENNY COLE AND SAND SAREFF PARTS, THE COUPLE THAT GOT UP AND LEFT NOT EVEN HALF WAY THROUGH THE MOVIE, FRANK MILLER’S COP CHARACTER GETTING HIS HEAD CHOPPED OFF
CONS: THE MOVIE, THE FACT THAT SOMEBODY PUT UP THE MONEY AND TIME FOR THIS TO BE MADE
There are few things in my life that have been there since I was born and Pro Wrestling ranks as one of the highest. My grandmother watched wrestling and in turn I did too. I still remember the first match I ever really got into being Ric Flair versus Ricky Steamboat. I watched ever since, the only time I didn’t watch was when Hulk Hogan beat Triple H(my favorite wrestler next to HBK) for the title. I usually watch all the programs that come on and have been to WWE live shows and some smaller independent shows. I’ve helped put rings up and have met my fair share of wrestlers and promoters. That being said this movie blew me away. When I first heard that Darren Aronofsky was directing a movie about a down in out wrestler I admit I was a little worried. I had went into Aronofsky’s THE FOUNTAIN expecting to love it and I wanted to scream it was so boring and non linear towards the end. So when I first started the movie I couldn’t believe how ‘inside’ it was. If you’ve ever seen the excellent documentary BEYOND THE MAT then you know how bad the “has been” and “never were” guys have it. If I didn’t know any better I’d have thought Aronofsky had been a wrestling fan his whole life. Say what you will but this men and women put their bodies on the line to entertain the people. In a world where actors and actresses get upset that craft services doesn’t have exactly what they ask for that’s incredible. I did hear rumblings that Vince McMahon “hates” the movie but I hope he’s not that insulated from his own business that he doesn’t recognize that this happens to 90% of pro wrestlers. It’s only about 10% that make it to TV and to headline Wrestlemania. Then again maybe he hates it because it shines a light on the downside of the business, once your used up your dumped and replaced by a younger model. There are those who can delay that fact, but most of them have sadly done so by using their backstage politics to stay in that position.
The movie has such a light handed touch that it fells more like a documentary than a feature film. I can’t review this without talking about the performances of the lead actors. I’ve only seen a few Mickey Rourke movies and most of those were the god awful stuff that littered dusty video store shelves and late night Cinemax. In this I see why he was once considered the best of his peers. His protrayal of Randy The Ram was filled with underlying rage and disappointment at his current situation. Can I just say that Marisa Tomei is still as hot as she ever was, and she was spectacular as the “stripper with a heart of gold” that litters so many indy movies it’s a cliche. I have to say that the conversation between The Ram and the neighborhood kid about Call of Duty 4 was so perfect that I’ll never forget it. I did enjoy seeing some wrestlers I knew in the movie, Ernest ‘the Cat’ Miller as the Ayatollah, and former now current WWE superstar R-TRUTH. Everything can’t be so stellar, I could see where the coked out sexual romp was going a mile away but it was alright. I also kinda wish that the movie woulda had a few more minutes, at least in ROCKY they gave him a chance to celebrate even though he lost. This movie is more ROCKY BALBOA than ROCKY so the ending didn’t infuriate me, it just made me want to get a more “complete” story. Still the movie is one of my favorites of ’08.
CHARLES GRADE: A-
PROS:MICKEY ROURKE, MARISA TOMEI, SHOWING WRESTLING AS FIXED BUT VERY REAL
CONS: THE ENDING WAS CUT A FEW MINUTES TOO SHORT, A FEW PLOT POINTS WERE REALLY OBVIOUS AND BY THE NUMBERS