I’ve never heard of the band Dry the River before. But after seeing the video below, I’m certainly going to give them a listen. 3D horses are always a great way to generate some interest in just about anything!
Tags: 3D, Dry the River, posters
Even before I bought a ticket to see Transformers: Dark of the Moon, I questioned why I was going. The first Transformers film was novel–it at least took me back to my childhood. The second one was awful, though I do like seeing movies shot in Philadelphia. So, why would I imagine this third installment would be any better? Maybe it’s that I just have a strong desire to see everything I can. I remember once hearing Henry Rollins say that he was angry that there were books out there that he hasn’t yet read, and places he hasn’t yet seen. I think I feel that way about movies. Ergo, I was compelled to see this new one. Plus, I have a ton of free movie passes that I always use, so I didn’t actually have to spend any money on it.
I bet if I look back at most of the reviews I’ve done on this blog, they probably all start with something like “I wasn’t expecting much,” or, “Even before I bought a ticket to this movie, I questioned why I was going.” This is most likely because for every movie I watch in the theater, there are ten that I see digitally or on DVD. Those are the ones that are really interesting to me. But maybe I’m just a sucker for the theater experience like the rest of America; I want to see something big and ugly while I munch popcorn, and not think too hard about it.
No, that can’t be true. Because even though I went to see Transformers: Dark of the Moon of my own volition, I knew going in that I would be looking at it with more of a critical eye than most moviegoers. And that’s how I could see through its mesmerizing special effects and nonsensical plot to what it really is: a big pile of space junk.
At the start of this film, The Autobots are now carrying out Black-Ops missions for the U.S. Government. Why they’re limited to the U.S. and not international, I don’t know. It seems like if you’re an alien race you’re not going to lay down national divisions like we here on earth do. So they’re off doing this, and Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) is now living in Washington DC, but is unable to find a job, even though he’s saved the planet twice. Apparently the government in this film is also not keen on keeping unemployment numbers down. With Megan Fox gone, there’s a new love interest, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), who is Sam’s sugar mama until he can find work. The first time we see her, it occurs to me that Michael Bay kind of pervy. We pick up on the backs of her bare knees (she’s clad in only a men’s button-down shirt and underwear) as a handheld camera follows her up a set of stairs. The camera peeks up under her shirt as her body shifts on each step, showing the shape of her bum. My first thought–right after OKKKKKK–was, “Hey, there are ten-year-olds in this theater!” Carly is provocatively dressed throughout the movie, but I supposed that’s why Bay hired a model and not an actress for the role.
What happens from there is we learn the U.S.’s first mission to the moon was less about space exploration and more about investigating an alien ship that crashed there. Luckily, Buzz Aldrin wasn’t given a ring and an oath to speak to a lantern. Instead, the ship contained a series of pilars that, when assembled, allowed time travel. It was supposed to save the Autobots and Cybertron, but it crashedand the rest is Transformers history. The next two hours of this film (dear god, it’s 157 minutes long!) consists of the bad guys trying to get the full set of pilars from the good guys so that they could use the time travel device for evil instead of good, and the good guys trying to stop them. Along the way there are humans: a hard-as-nails DoD official called Mearing (Frances McDormand–yes, just like in Thor, there is an Oscar winner in this terrible film), who refuses to listen to anyone who has anything to say about what’s going on . . . until it’s too late!, Simmons (John Turturro), the former Section 7 agent who has gone from hiding his classified escapades to cashing in on them, Jerry Wang (Ken Jeong), a conspiracy theorist and all-around oddball, Dylan (Patrick Dempsey), Carly’s McDreamy boss who alway steps on Sam’s toes, Bruce Brazos (a very misused John Malkovich), Sam’s quirky would-be employer and martial arts enthusiast, and Lennox and Epps (Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson), who reprise their roles of military blockheads who are actually smart from the first two films.
All these humans play a collective role in the film: to keep it from just being fancy, uninteresting robots. I guess this is to anchor it as something mass moviegoers can relate to. It doesn’t. The humans are just as uninteresting as the robots. But with all the special effects, I guess little things like story and acting don’t matter. People will see it. People are seeing it.
And speaking of special effects, I think they’re overused to the point of making a big muddled mess of everything. These robots have so many intricate parts to them, and whenever you really get to see them up close, they’re always in battle, being hurled around the screen in shots that are way too closely blocked (something I think most fight scenes have a problem with), so you can’t really appreciate all the work of the artists who brought them to life. The sound is the same way; these movies have an incredible audio quality to them, but there’s just so damn much of it all the time that it really overstates what was supposed to be something that we’d appreciate. If you really want to hear what a movie should sound like, check out Saving Private Ryan.
Here’s one more thing that is pretty bad: Some of the shots used in this movie apparently weren’t even filmed for this movie. Check out the screen caps below. The images on the bottom of the sets are from Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The ones on top are from another Michael Bay-directed movie called The Island.
I’m not exactly sure what it is that made me dislike this movie so much. I can usually find at least something that I enjoy in every film I see. If I had to pick one thing in this one, it was probably Ken Jeong, and that’s only because he sucked the least. I guess I just feel like it was subpar because it didn’t have to be anything more than that. Bay knew that no matter what he did, this movie was going to make a ton of cash. And he was right. If–god forbid–there’s a fourth one, I don’t know if he’ll be so lucky though. These films have been in a decline since the second half of the first one, and there hasn’t been an uptick since. Maybe by this time two years from now, moviegoers will wise up.
I would tell you not to waste your money on this film, but seeing is how it grossed something like $300 million worldwide over the weekend, you probably already did.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon trailer:
Tags: Buzz Aldrin, film, Frances McDormand, Henry Rollins, John Malkovich, John Turturro, Josh Duhamel, Ken Jeong, MIchael Bay, movies, Patrick Dempsey, Philadelphia, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Saving Private Ryan, The Island, Thor, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Tyresee Gibson
You’ve probably seen or heard about this site. It’s nothing more than a virtual bulletin board that you can share with people. I can’t quite explain why this concept is so appealing, but it is. You find things online that you like, “pin” them to your page, and then people can comment/share/like what you’ve added.
I’ve spent way too many evenings wasting time on the internet so that I can beef up my pinboards. Mine is pretty much just a list of things I like or want. That, and a pinboard of screencaps from Beverly Hills 90210, which my girlfriend curates (we’ve been slowly making our way through all ten seasons of that show. God knows why) and seems to be more popular than everything else the two of us have posted collectively.Beverly Hills 90210, Pinterest
When I was a kid and spending my allowance on comic books every week, I was always very eager to get my hands on the latest copy of Green Lantern. Looking back, I’m not sure what it was about him that was so intriguing to me. Maybe it’s because he was green? There weren’t a lot of green-wearing superheroes back then.
So when I heard they were going to make a Green Lantern movie, I was very excited (Of course, it was inevitable, so it was really just a waiting game). I feel like superhero movies are finally getting to a point where they have a good story and don’t put all the responsibility on the special effects. Sam Rami’s Spider-man series did this for the most part, and Iron Man and Chris Nolan’s Batman movies definitely did. Maybe it’s the calibre of actor, too. But if that were the case, Thor could’ve been saved by its two Oscar winners. When I heard that Ryan Reynolds was going to be Hal Jordan, I knew that all bets were off. I knew I was in for superficial, sarcastic quips and very little range, and I figured my favorite hero from childhood was going to get a terrible, terrible film adaptation. I wasn’t completely wrong.
The premise behind Green Lantern is that an expansive evil called Parallax–which feeds on fear–was freed from captivity and making its way across the universe to destroy its enemies: The Green Lantern Corp, a team of aliens that spans galaxies and polices them. When one of them is injured by Parallax, he must find a successor and the ring (which chooses who will wear it) leads him to earth, to Hal Jordan.
Jordan is a fighter test pilot who takes the risks that no one else does. He’s fearless, which is a requirement to wear the ring. In one scene–a scene lifted almost directly from Iron Man–he leads a pair of drone fighters almost out of the atmosphere where they can’t function, and neither can he. Brave! This is the type of thing we’re led to believe Jordan is known for.
And the Goose to Jordan’s Maverick is Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), who plays by the book and is always very opposed to his antics. We learn that the two of them grew up together, and the sexual tension between them is quite obvious. After Jordan’s drone stunt, she somehow ends up at a desk job and aside from being the love interest, doesn’t really play a huge part in the rest of the story.
After the ring picks Jordan (and after its dying owner stays alive long enough to pass it along with a few vague instructions), he is summoned to the Lanterns’ meeting place and trained to do his duty. There is a lot of information in this section, so pay attention.
Meanwhile, back on earth, the dead alien ring bearer is autopsied by the film’s one good character, Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard), who is the opposite of Hal Jordan in every way. He’s nerdy, quiet, unconfident. That is, of course, until he gets the remnants of Parallax in the alien’s body on him. Then he becomes a fine enemy, due primarily to Sarsgaard’s incredible talent. Battles ensue, and you can probably guess the ending. But it’s a somewhat fun ride at least.
Unlike the other superhero movies I mentioned earlier, Green Lantern relies heavily on special effects. The ring can bring to like anything its wearer can imagine, and when Hal Jordan is wearing it, he seems to be only imagining things from The Mask. To me, this kind of ruins the movie, or at least makes it more for kids than 30-somethings who probably read the comics. It’s shot in 3D, too, which is never necessary. In this case, since it was there though, it probably could’ve been utilized a little more. The rest of the film was way over the top and relatively superficial, so I’d expect its main gimmick to be, too.
If you’re a big Ryan Reynolds fan, or just love the comic book genre, you’ll probably want to see Green Lantern. Otherwise, wait for it on DVD or just hold your horses until the new Batman or Iron Man films come out.
The Green Lantern trailer:
There’s a great article on one of my new favorite sites, Grantland, today. It’s called “Are Spoilers Flipping the Script?” and it’s by pop culture analyst, Chuck Klosterman.
In the article, Klosterman ponders whether or not today’s wildfire social media causes screenwriters to approach their work differently from the very beginning of a project:
Are screenwriters now affected by “spoiler culture” before they even begin the writing process? If you know a twist will be unavoidably revealed before the majority of people see the work itself, and if you concede that selling and marketing a film with a major secret will be more complicated for everyone involved … would you even try? Would you essentially stop yourself from trying to write a movie that’s structured like The Sixth Sense?
It’s a really interesting question, and I think time will tell whether or not the endless media points will change anything. But I do know that you can probably go online and learn almost anything about a film if you want to. I make it a point to avoid press about films if I even hear a murmur about a “twist” ending. The film Catfish, for example. Once there was a little buzz about the third act of that film, I went out of my way to avoid anything at all about it until I finally had a chance to see it for myself. Of course, I found that film to be relatively predictable for the most part, so I wasn’t thanking my lucky stars I didn’t spoil it for myself. But still, if I had heard what happens before I saw it, I’m sure it would’ve been a different experience for me.
It’s pretty interesting how all of this social media and connectivity are changing a lot of things, not just movies. But maybe it’s going to spawn some entire new way of approaching things like films and will actually be helpful instead of giving up too much information. I guess time will tell.
You can read Chuck Klosterman’s article here. And do yourself a favor, visit Grantland regularly.
Tags: Chuck Klosterman, Grantland, The Sixth Sense.
I think this one will be short. I’m a little late writing about it, so you probably already know all there is to know about this movie. In a nutshell, it’s the international version of the first one. Same premise–the gang loses someone because they can’t remember the night before and has to find him–same characters, same ridiculous humor. Instead of a baby, though, there is a monkey. And instead of Ken Jeong as the bad guy–he’s kind of traded to the good guys in this one–there’s Paul Giamatti. That’s pretty cool…in theory.
A few of the recycled gags were still funny the second time around, but I would’ve really liked more originality for my money. When I think about it, I really can’t believe how incredibly identical these two movies are, and how that seems to be OK to the general public. I guess people like the familiar because The Hangover Part II made something like $32 Million in its first weekend. Of course, I thought the first Hangover movie was pretty much the characters from Old School, recast and moved to Las Vegas, so I shouldn’t be surprised.
If you liked the first Hangover film, you’ll enjoy The Hangover Part II, but probably not as much. I say if you really want to see a good comedy in the theaters, go see Bridesmaids instead. People seem to like to compare the two, but I don’t think that’s fair, and I don’t think they are anything alike.
The Hangover Part II trailer:
On the heels of Monkeybicycle8‘s release, the book has received a really nice review from the folks over at Luna Park Review. They dive pretty deep into the book’s pieces and show that they really “get it.” It’s great to see someone enjoying the book so thoroughly and helping to spread the word about it. That makes me feel like all the work we put into this endeavor is completely worth it. You can read the review here. And then, if you’re so inclined, you can pick up a copy of the book here.Luna Park Review, Monkeybicycle, Shya Scanlon
I usually like comic/graphic novel movie adaptations. Especially when I’ve read the print version, which is a lot of the time. I never read the manga book of Priest though, so I wasn’t exactly sure of the story. I knew there were vampires and a stylized post-apocalyptic world that we see so often in these films. But that was it. I like going into movies that I don’t know a lot about. Then I never have very high expectations and can be either pleasantly surprised, or completely disappointed. Priest was the former.
Much like Watchmen, another graphic novel-turned-film, Priest tells the story of a group of crime fighters (or, in this case: vampire fighters) who were no longer necessary and deactivated. They have to go back into the population, feeling miserable, and live out the rest of their days as average joes. Also like Watchmen, this isn’t enough and they get the band back together. In the case of Priest, though, it’s because the protagonist (Paul Bettany)’s niece is kidnapped by a group of vampires long thought to be wiped out. Turns out they were actually amassing an army in the desert outside of what seems to be the only city left in the world, and are plotting a takeover. So Priest sets out to return his niece and the other priests are sent to bring him back. With all the protectors lured outside the city, no one is safe from a wicked vampire attack. Of course, once the plan is unearthed, it’s up to Priest and his cohorts (which ends up only consisting of Maggie Q and Cam Gigandet, who is a human sheriff and Priest’s niece’s boyfriend, when all is said and done) to stop them. Karl Urban does a great job as the villain, and Christopher Plummer plays a nutty guy like usual. He’s the head of the church, which has apparently replaced the government in this future world.
Priest is a pretty decent film: good action and kind of a fun story. I’d say if you have some time and money to burn, check it out. Or wait for the DVD. Or, wait for it to come on one of those Sunday movie channels that I love so much. It will most certainly end up there before the year is out. But however you choose to see it, Priest is worth a look. Oh, if you do go to the theater, don’t waste the extra few bucks on that stupid 3-D nonsense. This film wasn’t shot in 3-D and, like pretty much every other movie that exists, doesn’t need it.
The Priest trailer:
Every book designer has an idea that didn’t make the cut, no matter how great it was. I know I do. There are a lot of people who need to sign off on them: publishers, authors, marketing departments, agents, to name a few. This means there are a lot of great book covers sitting around on computers and in designers’ offices that will never see the light of day. Or, they wouldn’t have until the New York Times got a hold of them.
Killed Covers is a show of exactly what the name says: book covers that got axed. Some of the biggest names in book design have works involved in the project, including Chip Kidd, John Gall, Jon Gray, Barbara DeWilde, and tons of others. It gives you a pretty cool idea about how covers develop from one concept to the final product when you look at some of the covers to books you know, but might not recognize. Check them out here.Tags: Barbara DeWilde, book covers, Book Design, Chip Kidd, John Gall, Jon Gray, Killed Covers, New York TImes, Rodrigo Corral