Saturday, November 5, 2011

Is It That Bad: Cars 2

In 2006, Disney/Pixar released the film Cars, the second film in their roster to have an entirely non-human cast. The film was received with positive/mixed reception, scoring 74% on Rotten Tomatoes and 73/100 on MetaCritic, the lowest ratings that a Pixar film had received on either site. I was working in an electronics store when Cars hit DVD so I was able to watch it a few times and the film got the grow on me, so I purchased the DVD and invested about $30 into the franchise. Wasn't the absolute best Pixar film, but was still better than The Incredibles. Despite the lowest critical reception of the Pixar films, Disney kept pumping out Cars merchandise for years after the film's release, long before it was announced that there was a second film on the way.

On June 24, 2011, Cars 2 hit theatres and Imax, much to the delight of children and dread of haters of the first film everywhere. However, upon looking up reviews online and asking people on my friends list on Facebook, I was surprised how much negative feedback this film was getting. While the film was still a box office success, it was Pixar's worst reviewed film yet and is also their lowest grossing film in North America since A Bug's Life. So naturally, being a fan of the first film (my son also loves it) and being something of a glutton for punishment, I went out and rented Cars 2 the other night to answer the question: Is It That Bad?

I'm so glad they brought back Fillmore, with Lloyd Sherr replacing the late George Carlin.

The plot of Cars 2 starts out with secret agent Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) investigating supposed terrorist activity on an oil rig in the middle of the ocean. He finds one of his agents has been crushed into a cube and sees the terrorists looking at something resembling a video camera. McMissile takes some pictures of it but when the terrorists spot him, he leads them on a chase throughout the rig and actually manages to kill some of them (wait, what?) before escaping. Cut to Radiator Springs, where Mater (voiced again by Larry The Cable Guy) is meeting up with his BFF Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) after McQueen is returning from winning his fourth Piston Cup. While on a date with Sally (Bonnie Hunt), McQueen sees a promo for a new World Grand Prix sponsored by a new alternative fuel company that he was invited to. When one of the racers, Francesco Bernoulli (voiced by John Turturro), begins insulting McQueen on air, Mater calls the station and basically puts McQueen on the spot, so he accepts the invitation to the Grand Prix. However, the two paths cross at the Grand Prix and Mater is mistaken for the American operative that McMissile was supposed to meet up with in Tokyo and essentially, the fate of every car in the world is put in Mater's axles.

Francesco vs McQueen in Italy.

Visually, Cars 2 is right up there with Pixar's best work with great detail going into the environments and characters and many people who diss this movie will tell you that. However, what others are complaining about is the story and the characters (or more specifically, character) the film chooses to focus on. Honestly, I was not expecting a story quite of this caliber in Cars 2, considering how the first film was more like a fish-out-of-water where Mr. Hot Shot needed to learn what the more important things in life were (a premise not much different than the one shown in Thor). Here, it's basically a cross of James Bond & Mr. Bean with anthropomorphic vehicles and you know what? It's actually pretty fun. Kudos to Pixar with wanting to take this sequel in a different angle unlike the Toy Story series, where life changes seems to be the underlying theme of the first two films until it slaps you across the face in the third one (albeit Toy Story & Toy Story 2 remain my favorite Pixar films). In fact, there were some parts of Cars 2 that I thought were pretty intense for a kid's film, specifically the fact that they show cars being killed onscreen. At the same time, one of these somewhat on-screen kills was Bruce Campbell's character, which as we all know: killing off Bruce Campbell isn't in any way, shape or form cool.

The other big complaint that anyone who hated this movie has is that the film focuses too much on Mater. Most of the original cast of characters make return appearances in this one (except Doc Hudson), but they are basically cameos if nothing else, which is really too bad because I felt the first one didn't showcase some of the characters enough and I was hoping they'd fix some of that in this one, but no. Instead, they take a backseat to the new characters and Mater. Hell, even Lightning McQueen takes a bit of a backseat to his best friend. Does this bother me? Not as much as you'd think, really. First off, I don't have a problem with Larry The Cable Guy in this role, and I'm not one of those people who hate on him because it's cool to hate on him. He does far better as a voice actor than as a live action actor (anyone who's seen Delta Farce can confirm this) and I might even enjoy his work as Mater more than his standup bits, keyword being might. Also, let's think back to when the first Cars film came out for a minute. Who was the most popular character? Who was the one who had the kiddies in stitches and was the star of the animated short on the DVD? Yeah, Mater. Considering how much kids loved Mater, it only makes sense that they give him more screen time to appease the kids. Now, I'm not one of those lameasses who thinks that kid's movies can get away with fucking murder because they're kid's movies, but really, do you honestly think that Disney & Pixar wanted to aim this film equally to adults as they did kids? Let's not forget that Disney has a really nasty track record of killing their characters' parents. You know, the onscreen representation of their primary source of income? Of course they're more focused on keeping the kids happy, they already have your money. It's not like Mater doesn't learn anything by the end of the film either. Yeah, he realizes that he's a little out of control and tends to screw up...a lot. Yet, in the end, Mater is able to figure out who's behind this terrorist plot and, quite literally, almost gets himself killed to prove it. Yeah, the rusted tow truck has some serious balls by the end of the film.

One last thing I heard about Cars 2 is that there really isn't a lesson to be learned in this film. Not true: the whole purpose of Cars 2 is to show that A) If you truly consider someone your friend, you won't throw away what friendship you have over something as trivial as a trophy and are willing to forgive them for their faults, and B) You don't have to be the biggest, strongest or smartest person in the world to be important or to make a difference.

Mater is in this movie a lot. Deal with it.

So is Cars 2 really that bad? Absolutely not. Is it the best sequel ever made? No. Is it my favorite sequel ever? No. Is it better than the first? No, but considering some of the other Disney sequels out there, Cars 2 is without a doubt one of the better ones. Upon watching these films, it really does seem like people hate on these movies if for no other reason than because Larry The Cable Guy voices the most popular character in the two films. Personally, I had a blast with Cars 2 and I will gladly purchase this DVD down the road. Hell, I'm even game for a third Cars film, or even the spin-off Planes coming in 2013. So yeah, as far as I'm concerned, haters of this film, namely Kyle Smith of The New York Post, can blow it out their exhaust pipes.

-The Cynic

P.S. Does anyone else out there think that this is a friggin' awesome picture?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dual Review: Jurassic Park: Dangerous Games 1 & 2

I'm a little behind because of the move and the almost five months it took to get the internet back, so I'm a little late with this one, hence why I'm reviewing two issues instead of one. I've had a couple people ask me what I think of IDW's latest romp in the Jurassic Park universe, Dangerous Games.

Plot: An undercover agent named Daniel Espinoza is trying to take a down a drug cartel from the inside and everything had been going fine until he's found out and taken to the cartel leader's private island. There's just one problem...said island is Isla Nublar aka Jurassic Park. The cartel's leader leaves Espinoza in the jungles with only a hunting knife and gives him 24 hours to survive before the leader's right hand man hunts down Espinoza for himself. Espinoza then witnesses a dinosaur attack and takes down a Parasaurolophus with his knife. Unfortunately, his would-be meal is interrupted by an Allosaurus coming to eat him, but when Espinoza trips on a log and is knocked out, a pack of Velociraptors come and kill the Allosaurus with someone announcing that they have a guest. He comes to in the Raptor's nest where there is a redheaded woman, Dr. Frances White, nursing his wounds and offering him food. She explains that she was hired to study how the dinosaurs behaved, and even grew quite attached to the Velociraptors with them imprinting on her as their mother. However, White was growing tired of how the men used brute force to handle the dinosaurs and when she approached Peter Ludlow about it, he basically went Chris Brown on her, so she uncaged her Raptors to stop him from hurting her. Ludlow pulls a gun and begins firing at the Raptors, one of the bullets grazing White's cheek and they escape into the jungle with White vowing never to live amongst humans again. Espinoza insists that he has a job to do and if he has to do it alone, so be it, but White says that she'll help but they need guidance first. They go to a boneyard and White hides as the fucking T-Rex steps out and eyes Espinoza. Taken aback by the Rex's size and intimidation, Espinoza freezes, so the T-Rex looses sight of him and walks off. White then explains that the T-Rex judges the souls of everyone on the island and needed to see if Espinoza was worth helping. Meanwhile, the leader's right hand man decides to start hunting down Espinoza early and White's pack of Velociraptors attack them. White runs in to help but is caught in a net, so Espinoza tries to cut her down only to find himself looking down the barrel if the right hand man's gun as the goon insists they begin the hunt.

My apologies for the wall-o-text there, but I did just have to sum up two issues of a five issue series. So...what do I think of it? Well...let's see...first off, I'm not too crazy about the fact that this story is on Isla Nublar and not Isla Sorna for I am in the crowd that considers the deleted scene from The Lost World where they explain the first island was destroyed canon, so unless Dangerous Games is a prequel to TLW, which it gives no indication that it is, then I'm not impressed. However, the argument can be made that the comics do not follow the film canon. Fine, then I'm not terribly impressed that Dangerous Games sticks a middle finger to the Topps comics from the mid-90s where the U.S. Military assumed control of Isla Nublar and was using it as a research facility. Another thing that sorta makes me scratch my head is that supposedly this drug cartel leader is paying off someone in the U.N. and that's how he was able to buy the island so easily. If the U.N. knew what was on the island and consider it a big enough deal that, I dunno, the fucking U.N. needs to be involved with it, wouldn't they be a TAD suspicious that it suddenly dropped off their radar of importance?

Another thing that I don't like is the Frances White character. Sure, my inner teen's tongue is wagging at her flowing red locks and super-heroine figure, but this lady is fucking insane. I mean, living with Velociraptors? Creatures that have been dead for how many millions of years that we have little to no idea how their brains worked, and she's just shacking up with them?! Let me remind everyone of something: the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park are wild animals, creatures that operate on their own natural instinct, which at times, is really goddamned unpredictable! You know that film Grizzly Man? Here's the sequel: Raptor Woman, and I won't be the least bit surprised if they turn out to have the same ending. I think writer Erik Bear was watching Godzilla: The Series when he came up with this idea.

Now let's talk about that bit with the T-Rex. Another reason that goes to show you that White is either insane for a really stupid scientist. "She judges the souls of everyone on the island?" "Only the ones she deems worthy survive?" Really, folks? This is the angle they're going with? Yes, dinosaurs are fascinating and what was accomplished at Jurassic Park was nothing short of a scientific miracle, but let's not make them out to be things that they aren't! There's nothing magical or godly about the T-Rex, save for its size and power. The only reason why the Rex didn't chomp down on Espinoza is because he stood perfectly still while facing the T-Rex because he was in awe of it. Good for him, because the laws of Jurassic Park dictate that the T-Rex's sight was based on movement; freeze and you'll be okay, provided she doesn't smell you. If White really was hired to study the behavior of the dinosaurs on the island, either she just didn't get to the T-Rex before she ditched humanity or living alone with a pack of Dromaeosaurs has really screwed with her head.

There's two last things I want to discuss. 1) If this story takes place on Isla Nublar, why is there such an inconsistency with not only what dinosaurs were on the island going from the first film to this comic, but with how said dinosaurs actually look going from first film to this comic? I say this because in Dangerous Games, there are appearances from Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, Pterosaurs (very faintly, but they're there), as well as a couple of dinosaurs that I have absolutely no idea what they hell they are due to their overabundance of feathers and odd color patterns. I know that the whole feathers thing goes with current paleontological theories, but if this is supposed to be on Isla Nublar, shouldn't the dinosaurs actually LOOK like they did in the film? There were no feathered dinosaurs in the first Jurassic Park, so what the hell are they doing here? Has so much time passed since the first film that the Velociraptors evolved feathers? Can such an evolutionary twist occur in 18 years or less (if this does turn out to be a prequel to The Lost World)? Furthermore, where in the blue hell did all these other dinosaurs come from? Did the drug cartel hire a team of geneticists so they could breed the other embryos in the lab so the goons would have something to shoot at? What in the fuck?!

Finally, the last thing that I want to talk...nononono, lemme rephrase that, the last thing I want to rant about (that's better) is the artwork. Just take a look at it. While it's not Redemption bad, although that's not hard, Dangerous Games still takes the same trend that most Jurassic Park comics do by having pretty good cover art but questionable interior art. This thing looks like a Jurassic Park anime, which is just as much fail as manga Wolverine. Not only did I keep thinking that one of the characters was gonna shout "OVER NINE THOUSAANNNNNNND" at any second, but the art has these weird proportion issues where the size of some of the dinosaurs will vary from panel to panel which certainly doesn't help with the fact that they look like shit to begin with.

The first time I read issues 1 & 2 of Dangerous Games, I thought it was okay, but then again it was like 7am and I hadn't gone to bed yet. Upon reading it again from an analytical point of view, I am thoroughly unimpressed with this story arc. As much as Jurassic Park: Dangerous Games has failed to wow me but has pissed me off instead, this comic still isn't as bad as Jurassic Park: Redemption. Thankfully, Dangerous Games hasn't raped my childhood and then spat on the quivering remains...yet. Here's hoping the next three issues turn it around, but something in the back of my head is telling me not to hold my breath.

-The Cynic

EDIT: Turns out that this comic takes place in 2012, 11 years after the events of the films, so yeah, this book can suck it. Also, I'm not reviewing the final three issues because they bring nothing new to the table. I wouldn't invest in this story unless you are a hardcore JP fan, and even then, I'd be having second thoughts...

Quick Blurb Review: X-Men: First Class

Hey, everyone! We finally have the internet back so the blog is back up and running and I'm here with a big one. Tonight, we're looking at X-Men: First Class, one of the most positively reviewed movies of the year...much to my surprise.

And with one flex of an eyebrow, you will forget all about the Wolverine movie...

Now, even though I did enjoy X-Men Origins: Wolverine for the performances from the cast, I'll admit it was not a great film and was aimed more at the "Hurr need more 'splosions" crowd. It was fun, but wasn't good for you either. However, since Wolverine drew in a tremendous box office intake, I was concerned that there would be more movies along the same vein, so when First Class was announced, I was a little skeptical. Once the film hit theatres and the feedback began to spread, I was surprised how positive said feedback was. Having seen the film now, I can see why it got the reception it did.

Badass: Noun, Awesome to an extreme level, thereby leveraging unquestionable authority. Example: Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr/Magneto.

The story of First Class follows Charles Xavier/Professor X (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr/Magneto in their polar opposite beginnings and how their lives manage to intertwine when Charles is recruited by Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) & the C.I.A. to catch a sleazy dictator mutant named Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), the same man who killed Erik's mother in Poland during WWII. Together, they bond a friendship and recruit other mutants to assist them and the government in stopping World War III, although their conflicting beliefs begin to come between them.

While Wolverine had great performances, First Class matches that and then proceeds to do right what Wolverine didn't: be a good movie all around. I loved seeing the younger side of Xavier as quite a flirty charmer and James McAvoy really hits it home here. As mentioned earlier, Fassbender is totally badass as Magneto and to be honest, I wouldn't have minded if this film kept with the original idea of being X-Men Origins: Magneto so long as he was still in the title role. That being said, I don't think you can tell one character's origins without touching base on the other since they are so intertwined with each other, so I think the final product is the only way this film would've truly worked.

Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast. He's no Kelsey Grammar, but come on, those are some tough shoes to fill.

Along with Professor X, Magneto & Beast, other mutant appearances include (but aren't limited to) Raven Darkholme/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Angel Salvadore (Zoe Kravitz), Sean Cassidy/Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Alex Summers/Havok (Lucas Til) and Emma Frost (January Jones), who actually looks like Emma Frost instead of Tahyna Tozzi's representation in Wolverine. My knowledge of the entire X-Men universe is limited to what I've learned from the early 1990s cartoon and some of the video games, but I was really happy to see the characters that I did recognize. Each of the above mentioned characters actually have a purpose within the story and don't feel shoehorned in for the sake of having more mutants. Not that there were some characters that did feel like shoehorns. Azazel (Jason Flemyng) and Riptide (Alex Gonzalez) seemed like they were just there to look mean and intimidating when I would've liked to have seen those characters developed a bit more (I didn't even know Riptide's name until I looked it up on IMDB). Instead, most of the villain focus goes to Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw, which don't get me wrong, it's great to see Kevin Bacon in a large and sinister role like this, but in hindsight, why not add some depth to the henchmen? Just a little?

Oh, I can't stay mad at you, Mr. Six Degrees Of Separation. You were just too awesome in this movie.

Honestly, this is one of those reviews that was hard for me to put together because I spent less time taking notes on what to discuss in the review and more time losing myself in the film, which is usually a good sign that I am really digging what I'm watching. X-Men: First Class is a great way to show that not all comic book movies are complete over-the-top spectacles. Not only does this movie retcon the Wolverine film by pretending that it didn't happen (although a certain cigar-toting mutant does make a three word cameo in this film, which was great) but First Class also comes off as a very adult film, giving little to no camp value and treating its source material very seriously. If you took the mutant powers out of this movie, you would still be left with a well worth viewing suspense thriller that'd keep your eyes glued to the screen. Because of this, I think X-Men: First Class was better than Thor (which, for the record, was better than Captain America) and is not only the best 2011 film I've seen this year nor is it merely one of the better comic films in recent time, but it's easily, in my opinion, one of the best comic book films ever made. If you enjoyed the first three X-Men films or didn't get a chance to see this film during its theatrical run, you must check out X-Men: First Class. Trust me when I say, "It's well worth it."

-The Cynic

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ancient Review: The Wicker Man

AHA! I knew I had old proof laying around that I didn't just start doing Coffee With The Cynic because of Cinemassacre or That Guy With The Glasses! I've been reviewing shit for a long time but I didn't really have much of an audience or medium to work with until I got the internet, and his is one of my older reviews that I wanna share with you because I was really proud of it and since this is gonna be my last blog for a little while, I wanna share something special with you guys. This review was published on my old Live Journal account (yeah, old school) on September 07, 2006 when my now ex-girlfriend, her mom and I went to see The Wicker Man in theatres and I was going by "The Dirtball." Enjoy!

"These people shouldn't be encouraged, they should be punished! Murder has been commited here, and the victim is theatre!"

-Lois Griffin, Family Guy

That was the exact quote running through my head Monday evening after I got out of The Wicker Man with Lindsay and her mom. I couldn't even give a traditional review for this movie it was so bad. The "What Works" list would consist of one thing (maybe) while "What Doesn't Work" would crash my computer. So, having to ditch traditional review methods, we will instead go with a rant.

For those who don't know, The Wicker Man is yet another horror remake, although in this case, I will use the term "horror" loosely, as in a prostitute's vagina loosely. The story revolves around this cop who is summoned to this secluded island that appears to be owned very privately by this very shrewd community who is looking for a missing girl. At every twist and turn the cop sees things that make him scratch his head and say, "What the fuck?" so to speak. It turns out that the community is really a Pagan community, an old religion thought to be abolished years ago. Whenever the Pagans would have a very poor harvest season, they would build a giant monument of a person out of wicker wood, fill it with fruits, livestock and someone pure (or at least worthy) then torch the sucker as a sacrifice in hopes to appease the Gods so that they may be rewarded with a good harvest season. Once the cop finds out that everyone is in on the girl's supposed disappearance, including the girl, he realizes that this was nothing more than a trap set by the community to sacrifice him to the Gods. Guess what? It works! They burn the poor guy to death in the end.

Some remakes follow the original's story very closely with a couple of new things but the new things are few and far between. Naturally, The Wicker Man is no exception. I will tell you the entire movie right here and now.

Nicolas Cage plays a cop who is considering retirement after having a car containing a single mother and her daughter blow up in his face. One day, he gets a letter from his ex-fiance saying that she needs his help finding her lost daughter and he's the only one she trusts. He goes to this island and at every twist and turn, he sees things that make him scratch his head & go, "What the fuck?" so to speak. At one point, he finds out that the missing girl is actually his daughter as well, so this drives him to find her even more. It turns out that the community is a Pagan community, an old religion thought to be abolished years ago where women thrive while males are in the shadows. The cop finds out the hard way that this whole scenario was a trap to sacrifice him to the Gods. They burn the poor guy to death in the end.

Okay, now that you've been educated a bit in the history of The Wicker Man, let me elaborate on why the movie was terrible.

I love Nicolas Cage's work as an actor, most likely Face/Off being his best (in my whole humble opinion, anyway). However, in this movie, his style is just terrible. He's just too good of an actor to be in this shitfest. There were a couple of lines in this movie that were oh so serious, but just had us killing ourselves laughing, the best being "AAAHHHH!!! MY LEGS! MY LEGS!" While the villagers are dogging him, the camera blends to a shot of the villagers marching towards The Wicker Man but the sounds of the fight are still going on. We wouldn't have laughed if they had just shown the villagers breaking his damn legs, but they didn't, so HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! That part actually probably could've been saved if he had just screamed instead of screaming "MY LEGS! MY LEGS!" All of the other acting was friggin' terrible. The rest of the people in this movie must've been in rather desperate need of money, but not desperate enough to warrant a good performance.

The fact that in a couple of points in the movie, Nicolas Cage is running around beating up women is just laughable, if not downright awful, although in all fairness, Leelee Sobieski attacked him first in the pub. It was kind of like watching Family Guy when they have the really offensive jokes and you're laughing when you know deep down that you really shouldn't be.

There are these bee-keepers on the island because they sell honey to keep their source of income in tact, but they looked rather ridiculous. At one, Lindsay whisepred in my ear, "They look like Kenny from South Park," to which I replied muffled syllables. Apparently they also double as security guards because at one point, one of them locks Nicolas Cage in a flooded crypt as he's looking for clues. Too bad they couldn't lock the person who wrote this film down there instead and add even more water.

This fucking "movie" wasn't even scary! For a "Horror Remake", it was pretty tame, which is all kinds of suck right there. There were a couple of parts that might make you jump only because they crank up the music on those parts and the orchestra hits a surprised note. Other than that, this movie is "Blah blah blah she's really your daughter blah blah blah WhyisburnedwhyisburnedWHYISITBURNED blah blah blah MY LEGS MY LEGS!"

This movie's length is only one hour and thirty-seven minutes, but even that is too long with the whole "blah blah blah" factor and just when you think it's over, it keeps going for about another five minutes. At this point in the theatre, I felt the urge to repeatedly slam my head into the seat in front of me, regardless of what my girlfriend sitting beside me or the man occupying said headslammer in front of me would've thought.

A person can tell they are passionate about films when they see a film that will have them mentally reciting lines from it for weeks to come. A passionate film-goer knows a piece of shit when they see one, like me, for example, but too bad a passionate film-goer can't know a piece of shit when they see one enough to stand up in the theatre, shout out the ending loud enough for everyone in the theatre to hear him, walk out of the screening and sneak into catching the last bit of Snakes On A Plane. I have never been so tempted to walk out of a theatre in my life and if I had, it would've been the only movie I had ever walked out of.

In closing, let me just say this: The Wicker Man (2006) is nothing more than the result of someone using a spare film reel as toilet paper. If you are considering watching the original, I would only suggest watching it for the far more sexually orientated theme because the story in general is not a good one. As far as I'm concerned, Nicolas Cage has nowhere to go but up from here. After seeing this horrid sorry excuse for a film, I am quite excited for Ghost Rider because maybe we'll see Nicolas Cage in something GOOD! As for The Wicker Man, I think we should put all reels of this film in a Wicker Man of our own and burn it as a sacrifice to the Gods so maybe they'll give us a good movie in return, which after seeing this, would be anything.

If you want to associate yourself with anything good involving The Wicker Man, download the Iron Maiden song of the same name. The song outdoes both movies put together on its worst day. One of the best reviews I read of this movie was, "I would much rather spend the money I spent on this on a ham sandwich. Why, Nicolas Cage, why?" Indeed, Nic Cage, why?

I'm the Dirtball, and that's my input.

So over the course of the five years since I first wrote this review, I don't think all that highly of Nicolas Cage anymore. I mean, he's okay as an actor, but now he's just so over the top that I just can't take him seriously. Not after The Wicker Man. Ghost Rider was the better movie, but that really wasn't too hard to do. So hopefully we'll be getting the internet at our home sometime next month, barring any FURTHER complications that life could throw at us, and then we'll finally get some new shit up on our YouTube channel. See you guys later!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

YouTube Channel Follow Up

Okay, so it's been a long time since I've done anything on my YouTube Channel, but that's because of the cluster fuck that has been the summer of 2011, I am currently without video equipment. Hence why the Blog has been pumping out post after post after post, but today on the Blog I'd like to touch base on things that I've reviewed on my YouTube Channel and my opinion may have changed since said reviews. This is the Coffee With The Cynic YouTube Followup.

Painkiller Drum Expert+ Run: This is the first video I ever did for Coffee With The Cynic to try and get comfortable with being in front of the camera. I started doing this because I love talking about pop culture and any job that I've had where I didn't talk about pop culture in some way, shape or form bored the piss out of me (I don't get paid to do this either, but I'm just saying). A few of you are probably wondering if I ever finished this song on Expert+. Well, yes. However, it wasn't solo. I was on drums and my buddy Steve was on guitar, we were both on the highest difficulty possible and we barely finished this song. The last drum fill is still fucking nigh impossible to follow and the edges of the screen were blood-red once the song was done. We only had a three star rating by the end, but we still finished the song.

Zombieland Review: Okay, in this review, I said that Zombieland was okay. However, if anyone here has read my Top 7 Most Disappointing Movies blog, you'll know that my opinion of Zombieland has not sweetened with time. In fact, I fucking hate this movie. I never want to watch it again. It'll be a miracle if I watch the second one.

Justin Beiber Rant: Bieber's still a twat and him fucking Selena Gomez will not change that.

Avatar: Much like Zombieland, I thought Avatar was okay the first time I watched it. However, with all the nonstop praise and muffin tops of feces that people have over this movie, I got tired of hearing it. I actually watched it again (sadly) and it does not hold up well. I even watched the Blu-Ray on a 1080p Plasma 42" TV and the special effects look even more like a fucking video game than it did on our old 32" tube. Jurassic Park looked friggin' sexy on that TV, but Avatar worsened. A lot.

My Darkest Days' "Porn Star Dancing": I really dug this song when it first came out, mostly due to Zakk Wylde's presence, but that was before the song was bludgeoned over my head by KX96. I cannot stand "Porn Star Dancing" anymore. Hell, even My Darkest Days' follow up single, "Move Your Body," hasn't convinced me that these guys are capable of being more than a one hit wonder. Five bucks says that their next album tanks and they fade, provided they even get that far.

Really, that's it. Yeah, this blog didn't really take much, but I wanted to give a bit of an update on how things changed a bit since I last reviewed them on YouTube. Aside from what's listed here, nothing's changed. The Love Guru is still the worst movie ever, Jurassic Park: Redemption still raped my childhood, song sampling still pisses me off, and there's more to come on the ol' YouTube channel...once I have video equipment.

-The Cynic

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pop Culture Punch Out: Griffin vs Dragon

Well, folks. I have a confession to make. *Sigh* I like The Deadliest Warrior. Yes, that Deadliest Warrior, the Spike TV show that is the historical equivalent of a group of nerds arguing whether or not Edwin Jarvis would win in a fight against Alfred Pennyworth. Now before any of you take up to lynch mobbing and hunt my ass down for this, let me just make one thing very clear: I don't think The Deadliest Warrior is a perfect show nor do I always agree with the results. It's cool that with season 3 they are trying to factor in psychological aspects that hadn't been considered before, but they assign numerical values to these "X-factors" without giving a concrete breakdown as to WHY these values match up to these x-factors. I also am not really sold on the idea of a computer churning all these results out, since the computer is only as smart as the person using it and you're never going to be able to completely replicate a warrior's mentality, meaning that the only way you could actually see who would win in a fight is to invent a time machine, catch said warriors, and toss them into the octagon together and watch. That being said, what really draws me into Deadliest Warrior is the experts that they bring in as well as the weapons testing, because let's face it: who doesn't like seeing shit getting beat/blown up? By the time the testing is finished, there's only five minutes left in the program, so you might as well stick around to see who wins.

Cool concept, questionable execution.

The whole genesis of this blog is attributed to the upcoming episode of Deadliest Warrior, where on September 14th, they'll be pitting two fictional characters against each other for the first time when Vampires face off against Zombies. Now, this might sound absolutely stupid (it kind of is), but much like the rest of the show, at least its entertaining in its stupidity, which is all the show is meant to do: entertain. Truth be told, this is probably the match up I'm looking most forward to because:

A)The living/un dead kick ass
B)The two combatants are running rampant in horror pop culture right now
C)Deadliest Warrior is really having fun with its concept this time around, which is really saying something
D)And finally, Steve Niles (30 Days Of Night) and Max Brooks (World War Z) are the experts representing the Vampires and Zombies. Awesome.

This idea got me thinking of other fictional characters that Deadliest Warrior could have face off against each other. So that's what this is, since I can't call it Deadliest Warrior, this is the maiden voyage of Pop Culture Punch Out, where we are pitting Legendary's Griffin vs Reign Of Fire's Dragon.

WHO? IS? DEADLIEST? Sorry, had to say it.

Okay, first off, lets take a look at the size of these creatures. Both are big, both are scary, but who has size on their side?

Let's start with the Griffin. Look at the picture above (Click here for a larger version). Let's assume that the officers firing at the creature are six feet tall. Judging from that picture, the Griffin's body length is equivalent to about five and a half NYPD officers, so a good thirty-three feet. However, what makes either of these creatures intimidating is their wingspan and when you use the same officers for a size reference, you're looking at eight NYPD officers to match the Griffin's wingspan of 48 feet.

Pretty intimidating, eh? But what about the Dragon? Take a look at this picture for a moment. The main Dragon in the middle is the male Dragon, which has the wingspan of 320 feet, equal to that of a Boeing 747. However, we are pitting the Griffin against one of the smaller female Dragons in the film. The male's wingspan would require eight females to match it, pitting the female's span at about forty-six feet. The Dragon's body is about the size of one of her wings and then some, so that'll put the creature's overall length at about thirty feet. So, in conclusion, a forty-six foot wingspan and a thirty foot length versus a forty-eight foot wingspan with a thirty-three foot body length, the edge has to go to the Griffin.

Edge: Griffin.

So how about the claws that these creatures wield? Which is deadlier? The Griffin's claws are located at the bottom of their front legs and measure at about 1-1.5 ft. in length. The Griffin could use these claws to not only grab prey to fly off with, but they could deal a great amount of damage by means of mauling. The Dragon's claws are located at the middle of their wings and measured about 1 ft. in length. Due to the placement of the claws, it doesn't seem that the Dragon would be able to utilize them in combat and would have to rely more on its bite or fire breath than its claws, which are more or less there to help keep the creature upright. Due to the larger size and user-friendly accessibility, The edge has to go to the Griffin on this one.

Edge: Griffin.

Now, let's look at each creature's special abilities. Upon researching and Googling many sites on the subject, it doesn't appear that the Griffin has any sort of long range weapons of any sort. The Griffin's body is its weapon and that's all it seems to need. However, here is where the dragon shines. Because as we all know, the Dragon has fire breath on its side. The Dragon's fire breath is generated by two chemical glands on either cheek that when secreted, they overlap and create a stream of flame that can shoot up to 110 ft. This edge, without a doubt, goes to the Dragon.

Edge: Dragon.

Now its time to see which creature has the edge in eye sight. Large aerial predators need to have great eyesight in order to properly catch their prey, and both creatures have eyes to be reckoned with. The Griffin's vision would be better than that of an eagle, which can see up to a mile away. Let's say the Griffin can see anywhere from 1.5-2 miles away. My research tells me that Griffins have great vision during any point of the day, but have very poor vision at night. The Dragon, however, has vision that can see about 1.5 miles, but it has an ace up its sleeve. As Denton Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey) explains to Quinn (Christian Bale), the Dragon's have great vision during the day, but even better vision at night. The only disadvantage here is that when the sun sets, the Dragon's eyes can't focus in the failing light. However, you'd think that with its poor night vision, the Griffin would have the same problem. If this fight carried into the night, then I'd have to give the edge to the Dragon.

Edge: Dragon.

Next up is the skin. The Griffin's skin is thick, but it lacks natural armor that is present in its counterpart. While the Griffin's claws are deadly, the Dragon's lightly armored skin might be able to absorb some of the damage from them, whereas the Griffin's skin has nothing to protect it from a Dragon's bite or a blast of fire. Edge is going to have to go to the Dragon.

Edge: Dragon.

Finally, we have maneuverability. When you look at how these creatures move around on the ground, they have different approaches on how they walk. The Griffin can land and fold its wings neatly to its side, similar to an eagle, and walk around like a lion. This will help the Griffin if it needs to charge at a target on the ground and get around a somewhat tight corner of debris. The Dragon, however, might have a problem. The Dragon's wings don't fold as neatly as the Griffin's does and the Dragon actually walks around more like a bat or a Pterosaur. This leaves her wings sticking out to the side a bit and might be troublesome for the Dragon if he has to chase prey into a tighter space than its body will allow, because if the bones in his wings break, she's more or less screwed. This crawling motion also slows the Dragon considerably and the edge for this one has to go with the Griffin.

Edge: Griffin.

So both creatures have three points to their side, now let's see who wins. In a dessicated New York City, a Griffin is perched atop what remains of The Chrysler Building. The Griffin looks up to see a Dragon circling the city, growling to the Griffin, challenging its supremacy. The Griffin shrieks at the intruder, leaping off the building and flapping its wings towards the Dragon. The Dragon hisses and shoots a streak of fire at its target, but the Griffin ducks beneath it and circles around the Dragon. The Griffin spreads its claws and sinks into the Dragon's back, biting at the crest on the back of the Dragon's head in the process. The Dragon begins to plummet towards the city due to the Griffin's weight, but spins its body around in mid-air, shaking loose the Griffin from its armored skin and sending it reeling. The Griffin lands on the roof of a building and shrieks at the Dragon. The Dragon regains its bearings and comes at the Griffin again, roaring as it does. The Griffin is about to jump at the Dragon, but is blocked by a gust of flame from the Dragon, setting debris on the roof ablaze. Disorientated by the flames, the Griffin doesn't see the Dragon coming and the Dragon flies by, biting the Griffin in the back of the head in the process. However, the Griffin weighs more than the Dragon, so the Dragon is unsuccessful in dragging the Griffin along and is forced to let go and land on a parallel roof. The Griffin jumps before the Dragon can regain itself and manages to catch it off guard by slashing across its face, causing a good deal of damage. The Dragon jumps up, flapping its wings in pain and rage, slightly distracting the Griffin by blocking out the sun. The Dragon breathes a huge streak of fire right onto the Griffin's head, causing it to shriek in pain and fly off to avoid any further damage. The Dragon flies after it, shooting another immense flame at the Griffin, completely engulfing it. The Griffin shrieks and plummets to the ground, crashing on top of abandoned cars a burning heap. The Dragon lands on a rooftop nearby, roaring in victory.

Winner: Dragon.

I had to give this one to the Dragon, simply because it had the projectile attack with the fire breath and the light armor in its skin that was able to absorb some of the damage the Griffin could do. The Griffin did have the weight and claw size on its side, but that just means there's more to burn for the Dragon.

So that was the first Pop Culture Punch Out. Hope you had fun reading it and I will post up another if anyone is interested. Agree with the outcome? Disagree? Feel free to leave a comment and if there's anything that you feel I need to improve on, I'll certainly look into it for the next one.

-The Cynic

Friday, August 12, 2011

Asylum Mega Marathon Part 3: Mega Python vs Gatoroid

Hello and welcome to the third and final part of Coffee With The Cynic's Asylum "Mega" Marathon, where we look at the final "Mega" film available on Netflix (at least in my region, anyway), Mega Python vs Gatoroid. This review would've been up last night, but I had such a headache once this film was over, I had to go sleep it off. So just as a future reference for readers: two Asylum films back to back does not end well.

So the plot for this film is as followed: Dr. Nikki Riley (Debbie Gibson) has been stealing snakes from nearby labs and releasing them into the Florida Everglades. However, what she doesn't realize is that the snakes have been tampered with and are beginning to mutate, growing into massive sizes. When wildlife ranger Terry O'Hara (Tiffany) sees the snakes firsthand and what they're doing to the local alligator population (and discover they ate her fiance), she and her fellow ranger (Kathryn Joosten) feed the local alligators dead chickens full of steroids, including an experimental steroid that grows indefinitely. Five months later, all seems normal...if having subway-length pythons and alligators running around in the everglades is what you define as "normal."

This was the movie's biggest promotional tool: Debbie Gibson & Tiffany catfight.

Well, did I end the Asylum Mega Marathon on the highest note possible? Not really. Mega Python vs Gatoroid is enjoyably cheesy, but it's no Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus. That's the bad news. The good news is that this gives me more to touch base on while reviewing the film. First off is the acting. It's what you'd expect, but that's what part of the charm in these films are. Tiffany, the reptile expert, Micky Dolenz of The Monkies (playing himself)...they're all terrible, but that's okay. I didn't come in here expecting Rain Man or anything like that. Another thing I just wanna say is you know I mentioned that Debbie Gibson aged well in Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus? Here, she looks like she needs to eat a cheeseburger. As for Tiffany,'s what Tiffany looks like in this movie:

Certainly not terrible, right? But when you compare that to her Playboy shoot from 2002...

So the last 9 years haven't been the best for her. Fine, we all age and sometimes its not for the best, but I couldn't help but think, "Damn, Tiffany...what happened?"

Back to the topic at hand. If I keep on this subject, I'll keep posting pics from these pop stars respective Playboy shoots and I'll be banned from Blogspot for life. How about the cheese factor in this movie? Yes, its here. Recycled footage from Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus, the worst police force I've ever laid eyes on, supposedly smart people doing stupid things (Debbie & her associate run from a Gatoroid through the water after seeing her other associate being swallowed whole by one), a Python grabbing The Asylum's blimp out of the air, there's plenty of cheese here to sprinkle onto a pizza. Even a somewhat unexpected outcome as well as a really corny line post catfight referring to Tiffany's big hit "I Think We're Alone Now."

Riveting. Industrial Light & Magic and WETA better stay on their toes...

So in conclusion, Mega Python vs Gatoroid is the second most enjoyable film out this marathon, the first being Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus. Two former 80s pop-stars snapping at each other while two breeds of giant reptiles raise Hell behind them? All in all, it's a cheesy bad/good time and good for a laugh, which is what I think many people look for in a movie like the ones The Asylum churns out.

This concludes Coffee With The Cynic's Asylum "Mega" Marathon. Thanks for checking it out and in the next installment, we're going to do something a little different on the blog. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Asylum Mega Marathon Part 2: Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus

Wow, they aren't even trying with their taglines, are they?

Now this is what I'm talking about! Welcome to Part 2 of Coffee With The Cynic's Asylum Mega Movie Marathon, where we're talking about Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus. A follow-up to Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, the events pick up almost immediately after the first film. A naval officer (Jaleel White aka Urkel) is studying sonar frequencies while aboard a vessel trying to find the Megalodon, seeing as there was no evidence that it was actually killed during its fight with The Kraken. His frequencies accidentally cause the Megalodon to attack the ship, in which Jaleel is the only survivor. Mourning the loss of his fiance aboard, he joins a Secret Service agency to hunt down and kill the shark. Meanwhile, a wild-life tracker con-man from Africa (Gary Stretch) is hired to track and kill a large mysterious beast that turns out to be a 1500 ft. long crocodile. During a series of events, the US Navy finds themselves trying to destroy two large leviathans of the past while trying not to destroy the rest of the world with them.

I think they could've run with their original idea and it would've been equally cheesy/retarded/enjoyable.

Make no mistakes, much like its predecessor, Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus is an absolutely terrible movie. However, unlike its predecessor, it was quite the enjoyable cheese ball. The effects are more phoned in, as is the acting, and the story is so stupid that it makes for quite the ride. In fact, I was having so much fun with the cheesy fun of it that I only took like a page and a half of notes. Pretty much everything needed to make a movie stupid is here. Bad accents, crap CGI (the Crocosaurus stepping on the miner made me howl with laughter), roaring sharks (it's like Jaws 4 again!), ripping off a scene and other elements from another bad but enjoyable movie (Godzilla 1998), stupid character traits, Urkel acting like a cross between Shia LeBeouf & Jeff Goldblum, Megalodon swallowing a nuclear sub! It's all here and it's gleefully enjoyable in its stupidity.

Wow, I just...I don't even know what else to say. If you enjoy hilariously bad movies, check out Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus. It's the movie that Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus should have been. Can't wait to wrap up this marathon!


Sorry for such a quick blurb, but this movie really does speak for itself. I cannot do the cheese it possesses true justice. You really just have to see it for yourself. If I didn't have another movie to watch, I'd probably watch it again.

-The Cynic

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Asylum Mega Marathon Part 1: Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus

I would've just as soon called this one Megalodon vs Kraken.

Yeah, I know I've already churned out one blog entry tonight, but I saw these movies listed on Netflix and decided it was too good to pass up. For the next few entries on Coffee With The Cynic's blog, we're going to be having The Asylum Mega Marathon: a sanity-lacking journey through three films by Asylum studios featuring the word "Mega" in the title. I know there's a fourth Asylum film with this word in the title, but unfortunately, it is not on Netflix, so I'll have to skip Mega Piranha, I'm afraid. So let's get it started with Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus.

Writer/director Ace Hannah (sounds like a porn star name) brings us the story of Dr. Emma MacNeil (80s pop singer Debbie Gibson), as she discovers frozen in the Alaskan sea a monumental find: a Megalodon, the largest shark in the history of the world, and a Giant Octopus frozen in an iceberg in mid-combat. However, the military is testing illegal sonar equipment and this causes a pod of whales to accidentally crash into the ice, breaking the creatures free. When Emma is fired from her work for stealing a mini-sub for this mission, she enlists in the help of her former professor (Sean Lawlor) and a Japanese marine biologist (Vic Chao), who is investigating recent attacks on oil rigs, to bring these two creatures back into the same water so they can finish what they started all those millions of years ago.

Yes, folks. The shark takes out an airplane. All this absurdity and more.

Okay, obviously you can't take a movie called Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus remotely seriously, otherwise you're setting yourself up for a rough night. When I hit "Play movie" on Netflix for this one, I sat down and thought, "Okay, let's just see how cheesy and hilariously bad this movie really is." But even when I didn't take the film seriously, I was still finding myself disappointed. Sure, the Megalodon (what they keep calling the shark, although Megalodon's never got to be this large) getting the plane or taking a bite out of the Golden Gate Bridge was good for a laugh, as was Asylum's attempt to build character development, but this movie didn't reach into that "So bad it's good" territory for me as it did with so many others. This was no Evil Dead II or Street Fighter, that's for sure.

Debbie Gibson doesn't look half bad in this movie. She's aged well.

I haven't watched any of these direct-to-TV/DVD films in a long time, so I'm kind of brushing off the rust with this review. The acting is about as wooden as you'd expect from most of the characters, sounding like they are reading their lines from the offscreen script or that they just don't give a damn. All of these actors are pretty bad, with Sean Lawlor standing out to me the most, making it sound like he got his acting lessons from The Room's Tommy Wiseau. Lorenzo Lamas was another actor that was bad to me, but not in that cheesy bad way. Lamas was just annoying, with no enjoyment from his crap performance to be had (something the rest of the cast possessed) and I just hated having him onscreen.

You know, for every scene we had that douchebag on screen, we could've had more of this: Kraken vs Megalodon...fighting...I think...

The special effects from Tiny Juggernaut are what you'd expect for a movie like this. I'm torn as to whether I should just shrug off the effects for being as cheese-tastic as they were or lace into them for not being poor and laughably bad enough. Sure, you get some really bad effects shots (like the Megalodon's fin going through the water without creating a wake, for instance), but some of the effect shots aren't terrible. They still aren't good, by any means, but for a movie like this, if you're gonna be cheesy about it, then why not go for broke and have really, REALLY phoned in CGI like I saw in Slushy Man's review of 100,000,000 B.C.? That would've been comedic gold and added to the value of this film. There were also a couple of scenes that reused the same footage over and over again and one scene where the post-production team didn't even bother editing out the green screen from one shot, so the cheese is there, at least.

So I guess the final question is this, "Was Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus really as bad as everyone says it is?" Well, yeah, but it's not nearly as humorous as many seem to think it is. I don't know, for an Asylum production, it really seems like a lot of effort went into this one. Let's hope the sequel, Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus has more (un)intentional laughs in it than this one.

-The Cynic

Quick Blurb Review: Heavy Metal

Okay, so as many of you probably know, I'm a big fan of heavy metal. The music, that is, but not so much the magazine. The magazine Heavy Metal is neat if you want to intake the various art styles and fantastic worlds the stories create. However, if your mindset is that of an adolescent male and you happen to judge the book by its cover, you'll find Heavy Metal magazine disappointing. For a magazine that has fantastic & futuristic T&A plastered across the front cover, there's a surprisingly low amount of said T&A in the pages within. Having read a few issues of the magazine, it's always the same: interesting artwork and environments, but very little nudity. I think there's more nudity in the ads than the actual story itself. Buying an issue of Heavy Metal for nudity is like watching Bordello Of Blood for Whoopi Goldberg's performance: there's not enough of it within to warrant the retail price. However, upon stumbling across the film Heavy Metal on Netflix, I decided to give it a gander and see how it stands up to what issues of the magazine I've read.

Heavy Metal: Providing People With Van-Mural Ideas Since 1977.

Okay, so the plot behind Heavy Metal is...well, odd. It's not so much one long 90 minute story but more like 8 mini stories intertwined with each other...sort of. The film begins with the belly of a space shuttle opening and a 1960 Corvette going into the atmosphere of the planet below. The astronaut driving the Corvette goes up to a farm house where he's greeted by his daughter. He shows her what he's brought home for her: a large glowing green orb. Unfortunately for him, once it starts glowing, it reduces him to a pile of crimson pulp before evaporating him altogether. The orb (voiced by Percy Rodriguez) then confronts the little girl and shows her stories of how it has influenced cultures and societies in different places in space and time.

Confused yet? I was a bit at first, too. It wasn't until it went from the farm house to a dystopian 2031 New York City and back that I realized that there was more than one story going on, the only thing connecting them all was the green orb, which describes itself as the "sum of all evils." Once this clicked in, I decided to ditch standard analysis methods and just run with it. Much like the magazine, each story has a very unique art style, all of which are pretty visually mesmerizing in that deliciously way that only the 1980s could pull off. Anyone who was around during the 80s or has YouTubed old commercials from MTV (yeah, back when they played music) or various cartoons from the decade can vouch for this. I can't help but wonder if Heavy Metal would become a visual inspiration on shows like Transformers, G.I. Joe and various other cartoon shows that we nostalgia whores go crazy over. Hell, I know this movie came out before The Real Ghostbusters aired, but the character Gloria instantly made me think of Janine Melnitz.

Am I the only one who sees a resemblance here?

Actually, on the note of Ghostbusters, this movie was produced by Ivan Reitman, composed by Elmer Bernstein & features a voice appearance by Harold Ramis. I honestly didn't pick out which character was voiced by Ramis, but I imagine that his voice for Egon Spengler probably isn't really his speaking voice...or perhaps that it is and he just didn't use it for this one. Other SCTV alumni featured in this film are John Candy (loved every scene he was in) and Eugene Levy. I didn't recognize much of the rest of the cast, so I didn't pay much attention to them. None of their lines were phoned in, by any means, so I guess they did their job.

Like WW2-era zombies? You'll love the B-17 segment then.

I haven't mentioned it since the beginning of this review, so I'll touch base on it really quickly: yes, this movie has far more nudity in it than I remember the magazines containing. Pretty much every single female character with any sort of relevance to the film (except for the little girl at the beginning) shows everything. Perverted males rejoice!

Finally, I gotta talk about the soundtrack. I already mentioned that Elmer Bernstein composed music for this film, but what about the guest artists? If the fantastic animation and environments don't pull you in, the soundtrack sure will. Here's a sample of what you get in the movie: Riggs' "Radar Rider", Blue Oyster Cult's "Veteran Of The Psychic Wars", Journey's "Open Arms" (during a sex scene, no less), Don Felder's "Heavy Metal (Takin' A Ride)", Sammy Hagar's "Heavy Metal" and, my personal favorite, Black Sabbath's "The Mob Rules", which sounds even more fucking awesome when you have an army of mutants swarming through a city, slaughtering everything in sight. Also, somehow Devo manages to get two songs into the film. Not sure how I feel about Devo being in a film called Heavy Metal, but it worked. I was still headbanging in my head to Hagar and Sabbath, so it was all good.

"I'm scantily clad and demand more DIO!"

So what's my final verdict on Heavy Metal? This movie is truly a feast for the eyes and the ears, but aside from that, I don't really have much else to say to this movie. It doesn't contain a plot that runs smoothly from beginning to end, so you just have to run with it and enjoy it for what it is: gratuitous nudity and carnage to a kick ass soundtrack, regardless of whether it be composed with an orchestra or a band. I don't find it likely that I'd revisit this one immediately until I had seen the follow-up film. Unfortunately, the sequel/homage Heavy Metal 2000 is not on Netflix, but perhaps someone has uploaded it to YouTube or something so I can just stream it. That being said, I'd recommend the film over the magazines, but I'd recommend a metal album over either. Throw your fucking horns up, people!

-The Cynic

Monday, August 8, 2011

Quick Blurb Review: Inglourious Basterds

I...I don't even really know how to start this review. Usually, I'd begin with some kind of background history I have with the cast/crew of the movie I'm reviewing, so I guess that's as good as place as any to start. When the trailers for Inglourious Basterds began making their rounds online, I just kind of shrugged it off and was like, "Eh, could go either way." With my son being born six weeks prior to the film's release, any curiosity towards seeing the film had taken a backseat to the duties that come with fatherhood (and this movie opened the day before I went to an AC/DC concert as well). Truth be told, I wasn't as excited about this film as everyone else seemed to be upon its release because, not only was I still adjusting to the fact that I helped create life (two years later, it still hasn't sunk in some days), but I have never seen a Quentin Tarantino film start to finish. Sure, I've seen bits and pieces of Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, but my experience with Quentin Tarantino has been extremely limited as a whole. The other night I listed a bunch of movies on my Facebook status, asking which ones to review next and Inglourious Basterds won. So, what did I think of it?

Join The Basterds! Meet New People & Scalp Them!

The whole movie begins with Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) interviewing a French dairy farmer in Nazi-occupied France in 1941. Landa discovers a Jewish family hiding beneath the farmer's home and his soldiers shoot up the floor, but one of the women (Melanie Laurent) escapes. We then get introduced to The Basterds, as the Germans call them, led by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) as he readies his team of Jewish Americans to head into France and kill as many Nazis as humanly possible. The film then jumps forward three years and we see everything come together for the Jewish woman and the Basterds to get all the important Nazis, including Adolf Hitler (Martin Wuttke), in one place to wipe them out, unbeknownst to each other.

You can tell how much I enjoy a movie from how many notes I take while watching it. If I only have about a double-sided sheet or less of notes once the credits roll, chances are I liked your movie. This was the case with Inglourious Basterds and recently positive review, Inception. However, while Inception's review was fairly easy to write, I find myself struggling with Basterds simply because since it's a Tarantino movie and how much various film buffs praise him, I don't think that I could really do this movie justice to let you read my gabs about it. I will, however, tell you some of the interesting things that I noticed about the flick. The good kind of interesting.

I want this guy to find more work in Hollywood. I just hope that he doesn't get tight casted.

If there's one thing Inglourious Basterds knows how to do, its take its time. For a movie that has a running time of 150 minutes, the scenery really doesn't change that much compared to other films the same length (or less, for that matter). Hell, the opening scene with Hans and the dairy farmer lasts for twenty minutes. Oddly enough, once the scene pans out, it only feels like five minutes. This scene sets the tone for the rest of the film because it seemed like every other scene that followed repeated this pattern, and it never got tiresome. I really don't know how to describe it, but Basterds is far longer than it feels, when usually its the other way around.

The second thing that I noticed with this film is that even though Brad Pitt and Eli Roth seemed to be the primary marketing bait for people to see this movie, they really aren't in the movie that much, Pitt especially. Fortunately, this isn't like in the case of some of those direct to DVD films where they'll have a big name actor in it for like two seconds and then use that as their primary marketing and when these actors (or most of the cast) are on screen, by God do they shine. Brad Pitt's usual voice seems pretty stock to me, but here with a southern Tennessee accent, I could watch Lt. Aldo Raine infomercials all day and not get tired of it.

"This Gnatsie killin' knife can be yours for just twelve, count 'em, twelve easy payments of $9.95. Cut through a scalp like cheese, it will."

I also couldn't help but notice that there's very, very little background music in this film, save for the final chapter of the film (its broken up into five chapters). This really helped add a sense of realism and made the film more alluring. While background music certainly isn't a hindrance by any means, it sets quite a different tone when gunfire and bombs go off and that's ALL you hear. Part of you almost forgets its a movie.

If I had to pick one negative thing about this movie, I'd have to say it was this character. Sure, his infatuation with the owner of the theatre got all the Nazis into one place, but other than that, he didn't seem all that important.

Much like Inception, I think Inglourious Basterds might take a repeat viewing in order to fully appreciate it. Since Tarantino has quite a reputation, I honestly feel like I'm missing something in this review, which if Tarantino has a lot of subtlety to his work, then I'm guaranteeing that I probably missed something with the first viewing. However (again, like Inception), I certainly wouldn't mind jumping down into the trenches and getting my hands dirty with the Basterds again.

-The Cynic

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Quick Blurb Review: Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was one of those movies that I just saw the preview and said, "That looks retarded. Pass." Then the reviews came in. Despite fairly low box office receipts, Scott Pilgrim was pretty well received and anyone who had seen it for the most part was singing praises about it like no tomorrow. I shrugged and thought, "Hey, it wouldn't be the first movie to have its box office intake hurt from a badly cut trailer. Maybe I'll watch it eventually." Well, now I've had the chance to watch the film and see what all the fuss was about. All I can say is...well, "Why did this film get such good reviews?"

For those of you who don't know, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a live action adaptation of the series of Scott Pilgrim graphic novels. Somehow Universal Studios managed to cram six novels into one movie. The whole story is that Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), a twenty-some year old, is dating a high school student (Ellen Wong) when he starts dreaming about some hipster girl that he finds out is the new girl in town and immediately tries to get with her. However, it is soon discovered that Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has some serious baggage, as in seven evil exes that Scott not only has to fight, but defeat in order to keep their relationship in order. Flashy and distracting onscreen graphics soon follow.

Well, I'm happy Scott Pilgrim gets it, because I sure as fuck don't.

*sigh* Okay, where do I start? I guess I'll start with the cast. I honestly can no longer tolerate Michael Cera. Not after this movie. I could get through him in Superbad (although the second viewing didn't fare nearly as well), but after Scott Pilgrim, it'll be a miracle if I watch a movie with him in it and I don't hit the "fast forward" button. Ten minutes into the flick, I just wanted to punch his teeth down his throat. All he does in this movie is just whine and be selfish just to feed his own lust. Yeah, sound fucking familiar?! The rest of the main cast is just there, for the most part. Not that Wong, Winstead or anyone else's performance was poor or anything, but they didn't jump out. The ones that did stand out were Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans & a brief cameo from Thomas Jane. Once Evans & Jane were gone, I asked myself, "Wait, why am I still watching this?"

I still want to know how they managed to rope The Goddamned Punisher into this movie.

Next up is the action scenes. While the fights do have pretty good choreography, everything else about them is absolutely absurd. All of Ramona's exes have all of these weird powers that the film just throws at you out of left field. Perhaps there's an explanation for these powers in the comics, but as a casual viewer, I've never read the comics or even heard of them before this movie came out, so a little exposition as to why people can do these sort of thing would've certainly helped the movie. The film does not establish this kind of thing possible prior to the first ex battle and when Scott goes from whiny little guy to suddenly knowing Street Fighter physics-based combat in 2.5 seconds, I didn't know what kind of movie Scott Pilgrim was trying to be. Seriously movie, you can't throw this kind of shit at us out of nowhere and just expect us to go along with it. You have to establish this kind of thing possible before completely bombarding us with it. Hell, as stupid as The Last Airbender was, at least I could buy that those kind of powers were possible in that world, but not here. There's also a total cop out in the fight with Chris Evan's character where Evans has his stunt team (he plays a movie star) start whaling on Cera as he goes for a latte. He turns around and somehow Cera has topped all six guys with no showing (or hearing, for that matter) of how he did it. Fuck. You.

Out of all of the villains, this one was the best.

There's also a fight with Brandon Routh (yeah, Superman, Captain America & The Punisher all in the same movie) where Routh's character is a socially awkward Vegan with super powers (*facepalm*) and he has to explain one of his threats to Scott. I literally shouted at the television, "SHUT THE FUCK UP AND FIGHT!!!" They then proceed to have a bass guitar battle and not one of them has the gull to bust out some Motorhead. Son, I am disappoint. The movie continues on in a frustrating fashion, including a scene where Ramona's female ex attacks and Ramona pulls out a giant sledgehammer out of her purse. Clearly, she is the more interesting character. Can we get a film of Scott Pilgrim vs The World Origins: Ramona? I'd actually like to see that, because it would've been better than this one!

There is a tease in this movie that is just as bad or worse than the one in Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen where Michael Cera gets killed and is stuck in limbo, but since he got an extra life from an earlier performance (this film tries to smother you in video game references. A few here and there is fine, but why the suffocation, guys?), he actually escapes limbo, goes back to before the final battle and wins. Weak. Prior to this fight, Cera's former bandmates say, "Scott, don't fight him! Don't give him the satisfaction!" To which Scott replies, "But what if I want the satisfaction?" Um, correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't it you wanting to keep your satisfaction...uh, satisfied that got you into this damn mess from the get-go?! Then once the fight's done, there's a Nega-Scott that appears and Scott's all like, "I need to face this one myself" and you think there's gonna be an awesome fight where Scott realizes what makes him tick and defeats any wrong-doing feelings he may have to become a true man and better person and what have you, then it cuts to Scott & Nega-Scott saying "See ya" to each other after they just shoot the shit.

NegaDuck does not approve of your cheap bullshit, Nega-Scott.

The last thing that just pisses me off about this movie is its need to remind people every five minutes that its based on a comic book with all of these flashy and heavily distracting sound effect graphics and split panel shots that just seem to pour out and clutter the shots, making it difficult to watch. Yes, we get it. You're a comic book movie, but that doesn't mean that you have to include a bunch of flashy gimmick crap that makes you look like the comic. So long as the characters look like they did in the comic, or at least recognizable enough, you don't have to bludgeon this on our heads. You keep these but cut out potentially more interesting characters and exposition? Puh-lease!

Yeah, this crap. Get used to these, folks. The movie doesn't know how to use them sparingly.

Much like Sucker Punch, I wanted to give this movie the benefit of the doubt, but no, the what I thought were poorly cut trailers that I saw last summer for this film are a perfect representation of how Scott Pilgrim vs. The World pans out. It looked retarded, and it is retarded. I doubt that this film, like Last Airbender, will crack the Top 5 of my Worst Movies Ever list, but by that same token, there's just so many things about this movie that just annoyed me and made me come to the conclusion that this movie wouldn't end soon enough. Many were sickened that this movie tanked at the box office, but I for one am not surprised and even though it hurt the final film, I'm GLAD that they crammed all six Scott Pilgrim graphic novels into one film because I never, never, never ever want to see a sequel. Let Scott & Ramona boink so we can move on to greener pastures. Much, much greener pastures.

-The Cynic