August 28, 2009

(The) Final Destination

**The Warning. This movie may contain way more instances of the definite article than most people would deem appropriate. You are the warned.**

The Final Destination, not to be confused with Final Destination 1, 2, or 3: Electric Boogaloo, is the last (?) of a way too long series of teenagers-versus-fate horror movies. Now, I am the sort of movie watcher who appreciates a good scare. I really do. I once screamed so loud watching Ju-On that if I woke my parents up, which wouldn't be such a big deal if they lived less than 3500 miles away from here. However, the first thing anyone watching The Final Destination should know is that there is a difference between a legitimate scare and objects flying at your face like a Eli Roth version of Spy Kids 3D. The Final Destination fits into the latter category, and suffers greatly for it.

But before I get too deep into the movie's sorry excuse for a premise, let's talk about the definite article "the." The definite article in English is used for many purposes. According to the OED, you can put the definite article before a proper noun, natural phenomenon, ship, building, time, point of the compass, branch of endeavor, field of study, or something well-known or unique. A Final Destination movie does not qualify for any of these things, except possibly the natural phenomenon of me puking my guts out in the 4th stall of the theater's men's room after having to sit through one. The Final Destination is simply "Final Destination 4" uncreatively retitled to attract the people who had scoffed at the first two sequels like Republicans at the prospect of actually reading the healthcare reform bill. I don't know what team of creative geniuses came up with the idea of this inane retitling, but my guess is that it was the same great minds who brought us "2 Fast 2 Furious" and "Bring It On 5: Fight to the Finish."

I wish I could say Final Destination 4 is alone in it's badness or it's gimmicky 3D effects, but that would be a boldfaced lie. Final Destination 3 had a similar gimmick because it's DVD had a choose-your-own-adventure aspect to it where you could decide when main characters met their untimely deaths. Final Destination 2 also had some 3D parts and still managed to suck worse than Final Destination 1, which didn't have anything going for it except an audience of Jagermeister-shooting, extreme-cheetos-eating frat boys who would root for anything that caused people to die, even metaphysical concepts. In fact, the only good Final Destination I can think of is the one where Fox and Falco get to fight with no items and no level hazards, and even that one is annoying after about twenty minutes.

And I wasn't the only person disappointed with this seemingly final Final Destination. Those same frat boys that made this movie franchise famous left the theater with me in a rage that would have made Hitler look like a calm, rational old man. This movie falls short of the line even if you're one of the millions of Americans who have seen more Michael Bay movies than Akira Kurosawa ones and are proud of that fact.

So I'll leave it this way. If you are extremely desperate to watch something in 3D, go out and find a theater that is still playing G-Force. If you can't find one, go rent Spy Kids 3D and put it into your DVD player. Failing that, just stare at a wall cross-eyed until it feels like the imperfections in the paint are popping out at you. Whatever you do, don't waste your cash on this, even for a midnight show. Not recommended.

August 25, 2009

(Cinematic) Armageddon

**Warning. This post may contain explosions. We suggest, for example, that you don't read it while driving a car full of fertilizer or while routinely soaking your last living possessions in gasoline on the grill that was your life. You have been warned.**

Armageddon means a lot of different things. For some people, it involves a rather stupid cult phenomenon about the year 2012. For others, it means the end-times in the bible and a series of even more inane books about those "left behind." But for the rest of us, it means Michael Bay is back in town.



For those of you who just watch movies and don't really know much about them, Michael Bay is the guy who makes shit blow up. He did Transformers, for example. He also did Pearl Harbor. He did Bad Boys II and even a few incomprehensible Meatloaf music videos.

But the movie that really sucked the worst, the one that jump-started his career in the multimillion dollar set, was the 1998 Bruce Willis / Ben Affleck star vehicle Armageddon, a movie so bad it would be flattered if it were only the worst of the two meteor-hits-earth movies that came out that year, and not the worst movie of 1998 or, perhaps, the worst movie not involving giant CGI robots.

Armageddon starts out with a long shot of earth exploding for no reason at all, except to set the mood. You can tell from the moment the credits come hurdling at you like the last of your possessions out of your girlfriend's window that this movie is not going to be a cinematic triumph by any stretch of the imagination. Admittedly, the CGI for this movie is much better than The Core, but Armageddon more than makes up for it by not having any plot whatsoever.

The lack-of-plot rotates around a group of American outlaw oil riggers who get sent to space in order to blow an asteroid to smithereens by burying nukes in it. The main rigger, Bruce Willis, has issues with his daughter dating Ben Affleck, who drills oil wells. This white-trash-romance subplot goes nowhere, and the daughter/girlfriend character is one of the biggest ingenues ever put to film. If a man with a handlebar mustache were to tie her to some train tracks at least she would have something to do except stand there and look like Arwyn while waiting for the men in her life to save her. Those of you with an angry inner feminist will be amused to note that she is the only female character, making this movie one of the biggest sausage fests until Master and Commander took the big bratwurst in '03. To make it worse, the romantic scenes between her and Ben Affleck might compete with the sex scene in Watchmen for the title of Most Awkward Thing Ever Put to Film. Umm. Yeah.

One character did throw me for a loop, however. Steve Buscemi actually plays a rigger with Westley Crusher Syndrome who can calculate distance along the surface of an asteroid in his head and identify the thickness of a vein of rock while in space. Steve Buscemi plays a character who doesn't look like he's three drinks away from the Mos Eisley Cantina? Preposterous!

Michael Bay's directing style is atrocious. There is no shot longer than 4 seconds, women are shot like sex dolls, and even Bruce Willis looks confused and angry. For a brief summery of his style, look at this actual trailer for Armageddon and then watch this video of Michael Bay eating a bowl of cereal. Notice any differences?



In fact, Michael Bay is so notorious for being a bad director that even a fake script for The Dark Knight went around with his name and tags on it. If the same script had Chris Nolan's name on it, nobody would have believed such an outrageous fake. But Mr. Bay? Yeah. He would make the movie this bad. The man made the world's only successful movie about toy robots, for fuck's sake.

But for all the horrible things about this movie, it is a great midnight show. Once you get used to Michael Bay's directing habits, you'll see them everywhere. Beer commercials. Lingerie ads. SyFy channel original movies. Once you know the enemy, you'll be able to avoid it. And do you know what the word for that is?

Awesome?

Bingo.

August 21, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

**Warning. This review contains spoilers like how Hitler is actually only a cover for his alter-ego, Super-Hitler, who wears a cape while killing Jews.**

When I first saw the intentionally misspelled advertisements for Inglourious Basterds, I thought to myself: “it’s probably better if I don’t know a lot about the movie before I go in.” I had picked up this reflex at some point between Jackie Brown and Death Proof, because at some point I must have subconsciously realized that if I went into a new QT movie expecting it to be as brilliant as the industry-changing Pulp Fiction, I would only be chasing the dragon. Not that T-rad’s films in the interim have been extremely bad, but rather that none have lived up to the expertise he demonstrated in Reservoir Dogs. And at first look, Basterds looked more like Kill Bill than Pulp Fic, so it was easy to believe that this movie would be nothing more than a purile exercise in re-writing World War Two. S I implore you to trust me, right now, when I say: Inglourious Basterds is, possibly, the best movie Quentin Tarantino has ever made.

But there are several quirks you’ll have to sit through in order to get to the glory. Instead spending the next four hundred and fifty words saluting the brilliance of this filmic tour-de-force, I will focus on those quirks that make this film particularly fucked up, anachronistic, pulpy, and otherwise midnight-worthy. And trust me, this movie is all four of those things.

First, this movie is full of fun facts about history. For example, did you know that World War Two ended abruptly in 1945 with Eli Roth machine-gunning Hitler in the face? Or that SS Officers were each issued a pipe the size of Alsace-Lorraine and a drinking boot upon deployment? I can’t believe I missed that in history class.

There are a few great Tarantino-isms, too: T-rad gets such a good performance out of Brad Pitt as a swaggering southern lieutenant, for example, that it almost makes me forget all about Troy, Ocean’s Thirteen, Mr. and Ms. Smith, and all the other crap he’s been in since the turn of the millennium. Also, Tarantino cast Eli Roth as a crazy American Jew who likes smashing people’s heads in with a baseball bat for entertainment, which, if you know anything about Eli Roth, means that he is essentially playing a toned down version of himself. Harvey Keitel makes an appearance as the American general who is only heard over the phone, and there is a moment where Samuel L. Jackson tells the audience in no uncertain terms how to blow up a theater. Honestly, Mr. Jackson, the only time I ever thought about blowing up a movie theater was after watching Lakeview Terrace.

But there is one guy who steals the show. Christoph Waltz pays a Jew hunting SS officer who might just be the biggest douche ever put to film. This character can find Jews with his sense of smell and intimidate people with milk. He’s brilliant, but not just brilliant, Hannibal-Lecter-crossed-with-Sherlock-Holmes-while-making-love-to-Tony-Stark brilliant. Nazi-Spock-on-Methamphetamine brilliant. He is pitch perfect as a villain, and even plays his own comedic relief. Just like McLovin, I could easily stand to watch a two hour movie just about that guy.

But then there is a cameo by Mike Myers.

It is first worth a note that one of the trailers before this movie is Rob Zombie’s Halloween II.

As soon as Mike Myers appears on the screen, even though he’s caked with more prosthetics than Carla Gugino on the set of Watchmen, you will recognize him. I, for one, will never forget the look of that man’s, bushy, Congo-like eyebrows. I kept expecting him to say that the lead actress was “a man baby, yeah!” His scene is mercifully brief and begrudgingly unnecessary, if surprisingly funny for it's incredible... Britishness.

(Austin Powers 4 is in the works, btw.)

For those of you who are counting Tarantino's tricks, there is NO scene shot from the inside of a car's trunk in this movie, but there is a Mexican Standoff. It seems that T-rad has skipped all the phallic imagery and gone straight to the point on this one, for every gun in this Mexican Standoff is pointed directly at various character's testicles. It's a Texican Standoff. I guess QT is making up for Death Proof, which had lots of trunk shots and only one guy getting his balls blown off, which is well below average. Also, this movie has a soundtrack.

When everything is said and done, Inglorious Basterds is well worth your 10 bucks. It's violent, yeah, but it's not Kill Bill and it plays around with the nature of the cinema just enough to rile my inner Andre Bazin. The references will make a film nerd squeal, and the dialogue is perfect, elliptical, comedic and suspenseful all at the same time. The ending is a little hard to swallow, but otherwise this is how theater is supposed to be made. Highly Recommended.

August 20, 2009

Do I Look Like a Bitch? Inglorious Basterds

**Warning. This blog post contains gratuitous amounts of Samuel L. Jackson. If you are sensitive to Samuel L. Jackson, I suggest you read no further.**

Does the Midnight Movie Guy look like a bitch?

I SAID, does the Midnight Movie Guy look like a BITCH?

Then why'd you try to fuck him like a bitch, Quentin? Yes you did! Yes you did! And Mr. Midnight Movie Guy doesn't like to be fucked by anybody except Mrs. Movie Guy.

You see, there's this passage from Pulp Fiction I got memorized. Jules Winnfield, act 2, scene 17?

"The path of the righteous audience is beset on all sides by the tropes and cinematography of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of Welles and Scorsese shepherds the bored through the theater's darkness, for he is truly the cinema's keeper and the filmer of great movies. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furiously bad reviews those who attempt to poison and destroy my cinema, and you shall know my name is The Midnight Movie Guy, when I lay my vengeance upon thee!"

(bang)

All I'm sayin' is: Inglorious Basterds better be good tonight.


August 18, 2009

Bonus Flick: Blade

**Warning. This post contains spoilers about Wesley Snipes. Did you know, for example, that he is not just a black version of Stephen Segal? Could have fooled me.**

Last Saturday’s midnight movie was Blade, an innocent action movie staring Wesley Snipes as the eponymous half-undead vampire hunter who mows down creatures of the night like a Wayne Brady riff on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This movie was a smash hit in 1998; it had all the automatic gunfire of Die Hard, half the plot, twice the stunts, and even a scene or two where Wesley Snipes smiles. Truly, it was a masterpiece of American cinema.

The movie starts out with an unsuspecting man being lured to a vampire rave party, where apparently all the partygoers are the vampire equivalent of hot chicks with douchebags. Blood starts coming out of the fire sprinklers because it’s not like it’s in short supply or anything, and then Blade shows up strapped with weapons, which he uses to fight an army of vampiro-mooks who are apparently huge fans of Daft Punk. Oh, and did I mention that half the guys at the party are on loan from the Roxbury?

Oh, and another note about this movie. There are more filmmaking errors than there are good lines of dialogue, and if you count every time Wesley Snipes mutters “muthafucka” under his breath as a good line of dialogue, that’s at least… three major mistakes. For example, Blade explains that vampires can only be killed by a wooden or silver stake through the heart. Nevertheless, whenever Blade hits any vampire with any weapon anywhere on their body, they instantly disintegrate as if they suddenly wanted to conquer Castle Greyskull.

Of course, like all weapons that shoot bullets made of weapons-grade yellowcake Plottanium, Blade’s +5 Keen Vorpal Gun of Mook Slaying only works when the plot allows it, even to the point where Blade’s friend Whistler, who is already critically injured, shoots himself in the head with Blade's supergun but somehow survives to BE IN THE SEQUEL.

Did I mention that the bad guy is essentially an unfunny psychotically evil version of Dane Cook?


Dane Cook and Deacon Frost—separated when they were turned into mindless self-serving vampires by the dark forces of Hollywood many years ago?

Blade soon rescues a damsel in distress, who, conveniently, is not only a hematologist but also an expert in experimental pharmacology and therefore has a degree in OMNISCIENCE. This rescue scene is a little suspect, though. Blade bursts into a hospital and opens fire. Guards show up and start shooting him. Then, when Blade jumps out a window after throwing the damsel into a dumpster, about twenty more hospital guards show up from nowhere with fully-automatic machine guns and fire at him as he flees. What the hell sort of hospital has guards with assault rifles, St. Schwarzenegger of the Micro-Uzi Memorial? I knew the HMOs were tough, but yeesh!

All the while evil Dane Cook has a plan to overthrow the ruling vampires by translating an untranslatable dead language using only his Walkman and a PowerBook G3, and then use that knowledge to make himself the king of all the vampires. When the PowerBook is finally done loading (with it's blindingly fast 32 MB of ram), the text turns into a graphic design program which depicts a special magical cavern which is conveniently in the same city. Somehow. Just go with it.

Meanwhile, Blade is fighting his way through wave after wave of vampire mooks trying to find somebody who knows anything about the plot. He fights a vampire peon named Quinn a few times, who even gets treated to the sandman face, a movie fighting maneuver in which the protagonist slams the antagonist's face into the side of an oncoming train with complete moral impunity, but even that won't get the plot moving. Just when it looks like the movie has totally crashed, the bad guys take the initiative, kidnap Blade, drag him to the magical showdown cavern, and kill him. Sorta.

I'd say the ending is awesome, if it weren't for the fact that when the Dane-Cook-cum-vampire-god character gets hit by Blade's special vampire poison, the words RULE 34 ran through my head like a thought train about to not only derail, but crash into a dynamite factory. The credits roll as Blade, who is somehow no longer critically wounded or addicted to "serum," walks onto the roof of a building and spots another vampire he should kill.

This movie is a GREAT midnight film. There are dozens of opportunities for theater snark, killer opportunities for drinking game mania, wild special effects, and Wesley Snipes. Though I won’t give this film a “Highly Recommended,” if you find yourself facing down a box of old VHS tapes, a fifth of bourbon, and fifteen-to-twenty of you closest friends, don’t pass this one up.

August 11, 2009

District Nine (And Three Quarters)

**Warning. This movie is not actually part of the HALO franchise. If it were, I would be giving you a much stronger warning. Also, Bruce Willis is a ghost.**


This is my list of things that really hit the spot at three in the morning:

Super Big Gulps
White Castle
Lots of Pancakes
Seeing some goddamn tanks (especially walking tanks)

And though, I will admit, this night was not epic enough to involve tiny cheeseburgers or a trip to the legendary Portland Hotcake House, I am sucking on a huge Mountain Dew right now and completely satisfied with Neil Bloominkamp's District Nine.

Neil Bloominkamp is a South-African director who was tapped to direct the highly anticipated HALO movie, based on the popular video game franchise for the Xbox. As much as I know the HALO movie will suck, District Nine rocked. It focuses on a group of aliens who landed on earth 20 years ago and were forced to live in slum-like internment camps. If you've seen the ads you know this film is sorta-kinda doing the Cloverfield cinema verite thing, which is pretty cool because the movie plays out like a Mondo version of ID4. Our hero, a worthless bureaucrat sent to oppress the aliens, gets turned into an alien himself and then must help another alien restart their Independence-Day-like mothership so he can return to his home planet and get help. The ads play the movie up as if it's a preachy allegory for xenophobia. Blah-blah-blah, humans are racist, apartheid is bad, humans are the worst aliens of all, blah-blah.

But it's not like that.

This movie is too busy kicking ass and taking names.

Put it this way: the film ends with the same bureaucrat piloting a giant Gundam through the streets of Johannesburg screaming "come get some!" as he punches rockets out of mid-air and throws them back using a gun that not only shoots bolts of lightning, but bolts of lightning that make people explode as if they were kernels of popcorn in a nuclear reactor. It's like Transformers except with a strong R rating for lifelike kickassery.

Sure, this movie has it's problems. For one, the aforementioned bureaucrat character, whose name I can't even remember, is so wimpy and whiny that he makes Toby McGuire's Spiderman look like the biggest badass who ever lived. And that even goes for emo-Spiderman. The character has no redeeming characteristics, and I mean none. He doesn't even seem to have a personality. Imagine if Milton from Office Space were Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day, and that's who this guy was. He's the hero, but at a certain point I either wanted him to man-up or just get killed already. Even when the film moves into buddy movie mode toward the end and the hero has to team up with aliens to save the world, the main character is not above hitting his alien savior with a shovel and whining mercilessly about his own dull plight. Yawn.

And if you think the alien characters are any better, you're wrong. The main alien hero is a monolith of generic alienhood. Why is he the only alien among millions who knows how to restart the mothership? How did he find the special parts to get it started again? I dono. He's an alien. I guess he must be special. The character has an alien son, who apparently knows enough about technology to jimmyrig their infinitely complicated mothership using only broken parts from machines that look like they once ran Windows 96, but I can overlook this because this character doesn't really have any more development than anyone else, including the hordes of thugs our hero mows down in the streets using his lightning gun.

Also, did I mention that the alien technology itself looks like it runs on Vista? No wonder their mothership crashed. *cue rimshot*

However, by far the most annoying thing about this movie is the music. The music director alternates between dramatic Hollywood thumps ala The Dark Knight and annoying, vaguely African-sounding vocalizing that made me think that any minute the sky would open up and someone would rename the main character Simba. The music director plays this music whenever there is a pause in the violence for more than 5 seconds, as if we're supposed to step away from our ass-kicking state of glory and reflect on the horrific nature of human greed. Pissh. More lightning guns.

Speaking of, lets talk about the real reason this movie rocked.

This movie is really about the weapons. Yeah, the plot plays around with the whole "weapons companies are bad" thing, and even depicts local warlords hording alien weapons and cutting off people's hands as if the filmmakers were trying to imitate the infinitely better film, Blood Diamond. Nevertheless when the whole thing is said and done, more than half the film's running time is spent either confiscating, trying to purchase, stealing, or using alien superweapons. Yeah, it feels nice when the main character finds the special liquid that fuels the plot, but it's so much cooler when he grabs a forcegun and blasts mobsters straight through brick walls as if they were sock puppets. When the main character finally falls inside the alien Mech, there is no amount of ridiculous violence he can unleash that the audience wouldn't eat up. This movie is pornography for the readers of Guns and Ammo.

Maybe that explains why more than %50 of the theater-goers around me were young men between the ages 0f 20 and 25 paired off into groups of exactly two? I could barely stand the stench of Axe bodyspray and budding Bromance.

All in all, this movie sells itself as "The Color Purple" for the "lets blow some shit up" set, and it delivers. If you want a painfully simplistic look at apartheid and some creative cinematography with your huge explosions, this is the movie for you. Until then, I'll give you a look at the only character I can think of wimpier than this one: Peter Parker.

Bonus Flick: Jay and Silent Bob Do Stuff

**Warning. This post contains marijuana.**

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, a 2001 film set in director Kevin Smith's View Askewaverse, is one of those innocent classics that some of us, especially those of us who hail from the Jersey area, picked up in adolescence as a guilty pleasure like some people pick up an addition to heroin or murdering hookers. Smith movies were for boys what Spice World was for girls: low production value star vehicles with extremely low-brow humor and even lower ambitions, mind numbing sight gags, intentionally horrendous acting, and a avid fanbase chomping at the bit for anything with their star's name on it like a team of slobbering rotwilers.

Even though I am years away from The Midnight Movie Child who first watched the Jay and Silent Bob DVD on the floor my bunk long after lights out, re-watching Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back still brings back those old familiar feelings I first had when I leaned against my camp duffel bag and first pressed the spacebar on my friend's computer.

Those feelings were nausea, boredom, and the incredible, inescapable craving to smoke some serious fatties.

Marijuana has never really done anything for me. Now, of course I've killed a couple of dank bowls in my lifetime because smoking is, after all, the official pastime of Oregon, but I don't get a good buzz off of it. I haven't smoked more than once or twice, and it usually isn't worth the bother. Nevertheless about twenty minutes into this movie, about the time when Jay and Silent Bob started performing cunnilingus on a nun, I had the incredible desire to blaze a bag of dank-ass chronic as if I were casting a poor man's version of Fireball.

As for my non-intoxicated feelings on the film, I'm not sure I can put it better than Peter Griffin.



I found this film difficult to watch, or, at very least, I found it very difficult to keep my attention on the film while watching. There were so many more interesting things to do, like catch up on my college readings, wax my floorboards, or find out why a bear is driving the car.

The movie breaks the 4th wall on numerous occasions in increasingly uncreative and unfunny ways, as if Mr. Smith did not get the Hollywood memo that a metafilmic reference has to be good in order to be funny. For the record, Mr. Smith has made two films: Clerks, and Dogma. Every other film, television show, and cartoon he's made has just been an extension of those two movies, as if he were making a five-hour special DVD Box Set for his crappy black and white stoner comedy.

And also for the record, Any film where a major plot point is the main character beating the crap out of internet film critics is not going to make my top ten list. For all the nostalgia this film may bring, it's just not as witty as Clerks, not as funny as Dogma, and not as well made as Chasing Amy. So in conclusion, I'll leave you with the one good meme to arise from this flick, a meme not so much about the movie itself, but rather about the reviews the film knew it would get: "Fuck Jay and Silent Bob. Fuck them up their stupid asses."

August 7, 2009

G.I. Joe: Redux

**Warning. This blog is supposed to contain spoilers. Or something. Honestly, I forgot.**

I just woke up about two hours ago, having slept off my adventures into the night, and I realized that the review I wrote at 5 am didn't mention the wonderful, lovable cast of instantly forgettable, two dimensional characters G.I. Joe had in store for me.

First, there is Duke, an all-American military dude who was retcon'd from Vietnam to Iraq. His backstory turns out to be important to the plot, which is why it's so very sad that it's almost impossible to find him interesting. He's every character The Governator ever played-- a personality-free tough guy ultra-Marine who is one step away from getting in a pissing match with Chuck Norris and the testosterone side of the A-Team. Seriously, if this guy ever had a headache he would be required to fervently deny: "It's not a tumor!"

There is Scarlet, a character who is so very interesting and well developed that in order to remember the character's name I had to Google "That redhead chick from G.I. Joe." Girl genius who never lost at anything before, blah-blah, you know the drill. Ms. Mary-Sue Jackboots with longer hair and less personality.

There's Marlon Wayans, who is an annoying sidekick. His character undergoes a rather racist "cops always want to arrest the black guy" gag, which would be good social commentary if the characters didn't act like it was perfectly natural for every police officer to cuff a black man on sight.

And finally there is Dennis Quaid, who plays General Hawk. Do you remember that squid guy from Star Wars? Dennis Quaid is That Guy. He basically sits in a control room with his exuberant minions and provides commentary to the audience on the battle sequences. I would pay any amount of money to have Dennis Quaid, in a straight face, tell me to focus all my firepower on that super star destroyer.

G.I. Joe: The New Low for Cobra

**Warning. This blog may contain spoilers, including the complete script of the movie, transcribed by me, verbatim, while I was sitting in the theater. You are warned.**

It all started with the advertisements.

I first saw the ads for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra when I was sitting in the theater next to a blond girl from Minnesota at the midnight showing of Star Trek drinking Red Bull and vodka from a Nalgene. We were drinking and laughing and chatting with the people sitting around us, all excited for the premiere of a movie we had literally waited months to see. We were ready to make sweet, sweet, five-star review love to anything that came out of that projector, and when the girl smiled at me it was with every tooth in her mouth and several other teeth she had probably borrowed for that express purpose. When the lights finally dimmed, the crowd literally applauded as the first MPAA green-band came into slow focus.

Then, to our collective horror, the preview for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra came on.



The fanboys in front of me froze suddenly in their seats. Their mouths hung agape, their glowing cell phones dangling mid-text from their terrified hands as their minds tried to calculate the monstrosity, the sheer Conradian horror, of the preview rolling before them. Quickly realizing that unless someone did something the whole audience be reduced to proto-comatose husks holding ticket stubs, I roused an impromptu four verse, two part harmony rendition of the unofficial national anthem as we tried to laugh away the agonizing pain of seeing something so traumatizing that it would make a trip to 4chan look like an episode of Wishbone. In less than a minute, the trailer for this film had plunged us all from the heights of elation to the dismal depths at the pop-cultural Heart of Darkness.

This midnight show was different. It was far, far worse.

The night started at about 9 PM when I gathered with several of my close friends and fans at my apartment with bags of dollar-menu hamburgers and cans of hard cider. We purchased tickets and stopped at the local watering hole to harden our fortitude, pounding down several pints of Guiness each as if we were expecting the planet to be destroyed by Vogons.

The theater was about half-sold to twenty-something Portland Community College kids in backwards ball hats and pink popped collars. As I walked in, the manager leaned against the theater entrance and whispered quietly to me: "this movie is about seven years too late." I gave him the thumbs up and gulped down enough nervous spit to fuel The Thompson Elk. When the theater lights finally dimmed, the audience members around me braced themselves as if their theater seats might take off into the sky and toss them back towards the earth as mach two. The two guys next to me cracked soda cans with a ceremonial click-clack as the first green-band played across the screen. I don't often get to say this, but those first two trailers felt like the best two minutes and thirty seconds of my life.

The movie finally came on like The Creature from the Black Lagoon stepping out of the depths-- with a lurking stumble akin to Stephen Sommers upon spotting a box of Krispy Kremes and a new CGI team.

Here's the rundown: the bad guys shoot lazer beams that are basically the Tesla Gun and fly on hovercrafts that are basically the Nebuchadnezzar. The good guys are cardboard cut-outs and I don't mean they lack character development, and they wear super armor which has the singular purpose of making them easier to CGI. The movie rips off every single action movie trope since 1970. Star Wars trench run? Check. Top Gun flip fight? Check. Sword fight over an "energy pit?" Check! Gratuitous mid-scene flashbacks to film-tinted people giving inspirational speeches from the long long ago time? If you're doubting at this point, you better not see this movie.

Did I mention that one of the main fights in this movie is a race to prevent terrorists from blowing up the Eiffel Tower with a beeping silver case and a rocket launcher? Do I need to mention that this sequence is lifted from Team America World Police, almost shot for shot? Team America was a brilliant, hyperbolic parody of the super secret military movie. G.I. Joe stumbles along as if it were some sort of retarded child who didn't get the joke, taking the exact same scene and working through it with a straight face and a million dollar SPFX crew.

The rest of the film is a pure, straight shot of filmic ineptitude. There is a subplot about Snake Eyes, the team's resident ninja with no personality, whose backstory pads the movie for a full five minutes. Why should we care? I don't know. How about the final battle at the secret base under ten stories of ice in Antarctica? Well, let me give you this gem of dialogue: "It's the perfect place to build a base! Nobody will look for it there and it's easily defensible." A base. In Antarctica. *Facepalm.* One of the Wayans is in this movie too, to the annoyance of everyone. The credits came like merciful angels.

We stumbled out of the theater like damaged men, hanging off each other's shoulders with the cold dead eyes of combat vets who had seen things men had never been meant to see. The horror, the CGI'd horror!

This movie sucked, and I mean bad. This movie is challenging even for the advanced movie mocker. Before you brave a screening, have some Dramamine on hand because this one is a stinker.

August 4, 2009

How Many Licks Does It Take? The Core

**Warning--This blog post contains EPIC FAIL. If you are pregnant or sensitive to fail, it is recommended that you feast your peepers on this, baby, because it'll feel like the Bush years. Also, Nicole Kidman is a ghost.**

I have gone to see three movies in the last week, and only one could be called a midnight flick. The midnight movie for this week was the 2003 bomber "The Core," a high-budget disaster about a secret government weapon that (somehow) stopped the millions of gallons of molten iron at the center of the earth from spinning. Yeah. Now, scientists have to DIG INTO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH AND RESTART THE PLANET WITH NUKES.

The science is bad. The acting is bad. The story is bad. And, best of all, it stars that guy from Thank You for Smoking alongside the queen of the jackboots, Hillary Swank. Which is bad.

Some of you may not know who Hillary Swank is, but I'm sure you'll recognize her character, Ms. Mary-Sue Jackboots. Who is Ms. Mary Sue Jackboots? Let me break it down.

First, Ms. Mary-Sue Jackboots is a Ms. The title "Ms" in Hollywood means a sexless, emotionless, hate-filled morlock who would be the embodiment of feminism if feminism had anything to do with acting like an emotional robot or spewing more mysandry than a spit-take session with that chick who shot Andy Warhol.

Second, Ms. Mary-Sue Jackboots is a Mary-Sue. She is not just perfect, but annoyingly, obviously, pull-out-your-hair-I-want-to-smack-this-bitch-with-the-blunt-end-of-a-pool-skimmer perfect. Mary-Sues can do anything, at all times, with no training, BETTER THAN YOU.

Finally, Ms. Mary-Sue Jackboots is a Jackboot. She is a fascist, like the red shirts in Star Trek who are just there to be at the business end of an intergalatic shoop-da-whoop at the appropriate time, except the Jackboot has protagonist powers. These are the people who call you a traitor for singing America, Fuck Yeah! during screenings of Patton. The Jackboot waves more flags than Michael Bay wacking off to glamour shots of The Pentagon between takes.

So, onto the plot. Birds start attacking people in Trafalgar Square, which is apparently in Toronto, and a bunch of guys with pacemakers drop dead in Boston, which is apparently a city where every man, woman and child has one installed at birth. Also, somebody throws a trout.

That Guy from Thank You for Smoking (Who I will just call That Guy), a lonely professor of the textbook-and-tweed variety, figures that all these problems are related. Much hand-waving later, the government finds the earth has stopped and decides to build a ship made of pure Plottanium (a substance that is invincible unless the plot requires it not to be, and can do anything the plot requires it to do unless it dramatically can't) to dig into the center of the earth.

But that's after a space shuttle crashes into Los Angeles.

Randomly. As a form of character development.

They may or may not have flown past the office building Snape and Voldemort were robbing. To borrow a phrase made famous by Cleolinda, this made me facepalm until my palms were bloody and my face was, well, covered by the palms of various people I had co-opted into the task due to it's sheer enormity.

After the whole space shuttle thing, the government finds a guy who can do anything if you provide him enough Xena tapes and Hot Pockets, who promptly does nothing for the rest of the movie except ostensibly sage faggots who talk about the center of the earth on 4chan, while everyone else tries to save the world in a montage. Cause, you know, if you're going to do things that are physically impossible without causing too much nerd rage, you're gonna need a montage.

Twenty agonizing minutes later a crack team of crack-pots on crack are off to the center of the Earth with Mary-Sue Jackboot, Captain Christopher Pike, ye generic Frenchman, That Guy, a pretentious Reedie, and The Black Guy Who Doesn't Die First Because That Would Be Racist in attendance. Here's a hint. Only two people survive, and one of them is not the black guy.

Have I mentioned that the ship is literally piloted with a Logitech Attack 3 game controller? Talk about doing a barrel roll.

Something goes wrong in the core, and therefore the whole mission is scratched because the nukes are no longer powerful enough to restart the core. Nothing, nothing can save the movie! Speaking of, who was the math guy who figured out how to make a perpetual motion machine out of nuke blasts and molten iron? Where's THAT guy?

That Guy and Ms. Jackboots figure it out and survive, riding the nuclear blasts all the way to the surface without drilling. They pop out in the ocean around Hawaii, where they are promptly saved by whales. WHALES. The credits can't roll fast enough.

All in all, this movie is primo, top-rate midnight material. It's entertaining without being good, it's popcorny without being childish, and it's wrong about everything forever without having to apologize for it's wrongness. For example, I didn't even mention the whole scene involving lightning causing the Colosseum to explode as if it were shoop'd by the aliens from ID4. If you haven't seen it, watch it. It's bad, but it's so good.

And, as a farewell gift, I give you this stunning tribute to Jackboots everywhere.

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In other news, my next midnight movie is G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra on Thursday. If you read this blog, you have a universal invitation to come watch movies with The Midnight Movie Guy. 12:01 am Friday morning (Thursday night) at The Regal 6 Pioneer Place in Downtown Portland, Oregon.