Let’s face it, I really suck at updating this website. Something about how I would rather be watching The Flash or Supergirl on CW or eating lobsterthermidor in my pajamas:
Anyway, I suppose I have a real “job” (actually two), but I still enjoy writing about movies so much. Besides, I imagine hardly anything happened while I wasn’t doing this.
What in the holy windstorm? This is not right and I will boycott his death – #NotMyCorpse
Well that sort of puts a damper on things. One of my top favorite actors dies of complications from surgery. There are not supposed to be complications, that’s why it’s performed by a real licensed surgeon. Rest in Peace Mr. Paxton, you’re where tornadoes, aliens, or Kevin Bacon can’t get you. Well, there isn’t anything that could possibly make me feel better after that bit of news.
Oh, a new Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 trailer. And I know that James Gunn didn’t invent the trailer with a catchy song played over it (in case you were wondering, this time it’s Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’), but until he did the first Guardians of the Galaxy trailer. We were introduced to misfits, Chris Pratt, and “a bunch of a-holes” while the tune of Blue Swede’s ‘Hooked on a feeling’ was burrowing inside of our ears like a disgusting vagina monster.
Like I said, that trailer didn’t break any new ground, but I don’t believe we’d have a sequel (let alone Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, and a freaking INFINITY WAR AVENGER’S FILM) if it wasn’t for that trailer. I know Iron Man was what started this whole Marvel (then Disney) train, but since when did Robert Downey Jr. help spawn this:
The rest of the beautiful trailer is guns, gadgets, one-liners, cute tree creatures, and Kurt Russell doing his best visual impression of Jeff Bridges:
Of course it looks incredible and no one is likely to miss Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but in the worst segue ever, it’ll never win an Oscar.
That was the big news was that of all the critically acclaimed films nominated for Best Picture, Bonnie and Clyde themselves, stole the Oscar and gave it to La La Land. We don’t know if Faye Dunaway (Bonnie) or Warren Beatty (Clyde) did it on purpose , but La La Land wasn’t the winner. Come to find out that Moonlight actually won the Oscar for Best Picture. And in the classiest move since The Queen Tweeted to her Country last year, La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz announced that the real winner was Moonlight.
My personal choice would have been Hidden Figures, but honestly, I only saw one of the other films that were nominated, so in this case, you really shouldn’t take this film reviewer’s opinion (although Hidden Figures really is amazing). While the Academy is still science fiction adverse (umm, Arrival), I had my own personal “Best Picture” in 2016…
Morning Bleary-Eyed fans, hope everyone had an excellent weekend…well, at least better than Sony did with the new Ghostbusters film. Only have time for a quick recap of last weekend’s Box Office results, but I really have to apologize for the lack of posts recently and of course I want to spend just a moment to mourn all the lives lost in the past few weeks. I love films more than a lot of things, but escapism right now feels, I don’t know, wrong. Especially when so many are suffering. Now I don’t want to speak for anyone other than myself (Manchicken has his own opinions), and it’ll be quick. So just as simple as it can be: Black Lives Matter, White Lives Matter, All Minority Lives Matter, and NO ONE deserves to die at the hand of another other, absolute extreme circumstances notwithstanding.
Also, to keep in the spirit with the subject of the website, but honestly, they had the answer to the future’s woe’s back in 1989. It was in a slacker time travel comedy that starred a young Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, called Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure:
“You did it. You crazy son of a b*tch(s), you did it.” -Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park
Here I am. Packing all my stuff into a box and getting ready for the big move tomorrow and io9 tosses this trailer at me. I’ve been half waiting, half dreading this trailer for months. Now here it is, in all of its shameless naked glory. And I actually mean…glory.
How did they take one of the most beloved franchises in film history, polish it up, and make it look good for 2016? Everything is stacked against this film. I mean EVERYTHING. There are male chauvinists angry that it’s a team of ladies. Half the fan base thinks rebooting the franchise is the dumbest idea since restaurant bread.
And finally…why mess with perfection? Ghostbusters came out the year I was born and belongs in the same pantheons such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Jurassic Park, and insert your favorite film series here. And before this trailer, there was even signs of brilliance. Just look at the first official image of the team:
I loved the new outfits and each one of them seems just different enough or out of their element, well, except for Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones (relative unknowns to me). Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy are the ones I’m immediately familiar with and can appreciate their addition. I’m so happy that Melissa McCarthy is continuing her excellent humor from Spy and not just a walking “fat joke” roles she took early on.
Of course their is the obligatory hatred of Leslie Jones character since she is stereotypical “black” according to the internet. Just shut up, please. She’s playing a role as it was it was written. No matter what they did with her, someone would have been offended and written a dissertation on why this is exactly Hollywood is terrible. Did we forget they’re evil because the industry is a money grubbing cult?
Seriously, for the most part, the fact that actual entertainment comes from Hollywood is likely pure coincidence. And don’t tell me that this film is going to be crap because it’s directed by Paul Feig. You laughed just like I did when Maya Rudolph pooped in the middle of the street in a wedding dress in Bridesmaids.
So I will go ahead and say it, on July 15th of this year, my butt will be firmly planted in a theater seat ready to watch a new team kick the crap out of poltergeist, ghosts, and whatever is thrown their way.
And even though a wonderful group of ladies will be taking over the proton packs, that doesn’t mean the original Ghostbusters fill will be gone. My kids are going to watch the originals first and that’s just a fact. There is no reason why the two cannot co-exist. Is it a money grab? Heck yes. Does it have potential to suck? No more or less than any film out there. But if done well, all I’ll see is more Ghostbusters, and I cannot and will not apologize for optimism here. After all, in a movie industry that is just in it for the money…who ya gonna call?
I honestly had a real plan for this article. It was going to be a week long event in which we had guest writers discussing things like #OscarsSoWhite, how terrible the panel is due to ridiculous rules, eligibility, and voting, but I just can’t seem to care enough about the award show to make a real effort at posting something profound.
In lieu of an article about how awful the Oscars have become (and pretty much always have been), I’m going to go over some of the major categories and see if we can find something of interest somewhere among them to talk about.
Academy Award for Best Actress
First off, I really don’t like the fact that we still distinguish between “Actresses” and “Actors” via gender. They are all actors and should be treated as such. In my opinion, we should really put Jennifer Lawrence (nominated this year for the movie Joy) up against Eddie Redmayne (nominated for his (her?) performance in The Danish Girl) or Matt Damon (nominated for The Martian). If you’ve seen Joy, you know it’s no where near the caliber of her past performances (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, etc.), but it’s still a well put together movie and for her part, she does everything right and again, showcases an immense amount of talent.
Anyway, there are other actors (yes, screw the word Actress) that are nominated as well, here is a quick round up:
Cate Blanchett, in Carol Aird, as Carol
Brie Larson, in Room, as Joy “Ma” Newsome
Jennifer Lawrence, in Joy, as Joy Mangano
Charlotte Rampling, in 45 Years, as Kate Mercer
Saoirse Ronan, in Brooklyn, as Eilis Lacey
IWTMM’s Prediction: Jennifer Lawrence
Of course it has to be Jennifer Lawrence. Everyone loves her (she is really seemingly charming by all accounts) and if the panel even recognized any other actor’s name in that pile, then I would be surprised. Just give her another one, let her trip on the stairs or her dress *cue laughter* and a “surprised” winning speech.
IWTMM’s “Who Should Have Won”: Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road.
Seriously, you’ve likely seen Mad Max: Fury Road, the other nominations, not too likely. If you have (or even if you haven’t), Charlize Theron kicks so much ass in two hours than all the “Action Stars” of the 80’s combined. I totally think she should go all Kanye West on the Winner.
Academy Award for Best Actor
I believe they add, “in a Leading Role” to this title, but I don’t really care (that’s going to be a theme during this whole article). Let’s take a look at our powder-white nominees:
Bryan Cranston, in Trumbo, as Dalton Trumbo
Matt Damon, in The Martian, as Mark Watney
Leonardo DiCaprio, in The Revenant, as Hugh Glass
Michael Fassbender, in Steve Jobs, as Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, in The Danish Girl, as Lili Elbe / Einar Wegener
IWTMM’s Prediction: Leonardo DiCaprio
Leo has been passed over for this award in four separate years. They skipped a year between nominating him so it didn’t look too suspicious, but I believe DiCaprio has been thoroughly snubbed. It likely doesn’t make any difference to him. Did you see what he got to do in The Wolf of Wall Street?
I mean, come on, you think Leo cares? Does he want to win, probably, it’s seemingly a big deal to these Hollywood types. But if a little gold statue is more important than the millions he rakes in for almost every film he does, then I really think the “art” in film is moot.
Academy Award for Best….
You know what, I really don’t give a crap. The Oscars are horrible. The monologue is obnoxious and no matter who wins, someone is going to be upset. I don’t even have enough apathy to finish this article.
IWTMM’s Prediction for Best Director: Adam McKay for The Big Short
IWTMM’s Prediction for Best Picture: The Big Short
Seriously, I don’t care. The Big Short was a phenomenal movie with excellent actors, a horrifying reality, and was honestly both entertaining and filmed very well. It’s on the “Unicorn List”. It’s both entertaining and “Critically” acclaimed. So, for my money, it’s going to come out the winner, but I really don’t care. The whole thing is just a big Hollywood circlejer…….
…..and that’s all I have to say about that. At least I get to see Zootopia next weekend.
There is a lot of potential for a review of Deadpool. We could have had him personally write the review and us having to fight him for control over the keyboard (which, honestly, wouldn’t have ended well for Manchicken and I), we could have tried to write the review in the style of the film, or we could have just thrown some Fourth Wall breaking nonsense together and called it a day.
Deadpool is not your typical Marvel Superhero film. Sure, the film’s plot was done with the typical origin story, but with this character, I actually believe it was somewhat necessary. In the case of Wade Wilson, I believe that the general public had no knowledge of his existence outside of the brilliant marketing campaign put together by Fox and Ryan Reynolds himself.
Ah hum. And no matter what I can say about this film, it’s all about Ryan Reynolds. The man who single handedly took the crap given to him from Gavin Hood, David Benioff, Skip Woods (Director and writers of X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and likely 20th Century Fox’s evil lead, Jim Gianopulos, (depicted below in his true form), and made sweet sweet lemonade out of fetid lemons.
From showcasing some of the character’s fighting abilities in the failed prequel to X-Men, endlessly campaigning for the film, somehow being first to showcase “leaked” footage from a 2011 proof of concept to this film on Twitter, and appearing in countless ads and other marketing stunts, including an amazing “self help” video advocating “Touching Yourself” to look for testicular cancer, oh, and actually staring in this record breaking R-Rated film.
It’s very rare that studios are comfortable releasing R-Rated films. Mainly because it really kills their chances at getting all that sweet allowance money from the coveted 13-16 year old demographic. I imagine Fox did everything they could to try and make this film PG-13, but both Reynolds and director Tim Miller (this was one hell of a wide-release debut) lobbied as hard as they could for the film’s essence to be maintained. Even when they had to lose $7 Million from production at the last moment, they came through and took away the previous release record for an R-Rated film (previously held by The Hangover Part II). With an opening weekend of $135M in the US (way more in other territories), it not only blew those records away, but it kicked some major studio butt by becoming Fox’s largest opening weekend (stealing it from Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith).
Don’t know what Fight Club has to do with it, but, I’ll roll with it. Anyway, for not being a fan of Deadpool in the comics (I’m more of a DC guy), I enjoyed the heck out of this film. The most common thing I hear people say about it is that it was “fun”. I think that is a fantastic way to describe Deadpool, but I believe there is a better one: Original. And I really worry, just like director James Gunn that filmmakers are going to learn a completely different lesson from Deadpool. While I’ll be the first to advocate for more R-Rated films in wide release as well as less serious comic book films (sorry my dearest Ben, I’m looking at your Batman vs. Superman).
As Gunn worries, Deadpool’s success will only mean more of the same. Yes, we loved Deadpool, but we didn’t love it just because it broke the Fourth Wall,
had gratuitous amounts of violence and blood, or even was extremely funny in pretty much every way. Unfortunately, that’s what Hollywood is going to take away from Deadpool. The trope of “comedic-ultra-violence” will hit screens (hell, I’d pay to see more blood while Wolverine with the gloves off his claws rips through the entire cast of the Brotherhood of Mutants). Why lie? We’d all watch that…but then we’d get fatigued again and they would just be another brand of superhero films. The magic from Deadpool would be lost in the sea of uncharacteristic actions taken by notable heroes.
I was thinking of Spider-Man creating nooses for the bad guys but sure, Kevin Smith can laugh at us.
Apart from Reynold’s obvious passion for the character and the film in general, his supporting cast are taken along for the ride. Not a single one of them miss a beat as the Merc with a Mouth goes on one killing rampage after another (sometimes even turning the camera away when it could get too bad), makes self-referential humor, or even decides the film needs Colossal ball punching. That last part is literal. Needless to say, the supporting actors look like they’re having as much fun as the audience and can hardly keep from laughing in almost every scene.
Slow-motion action is nothing new. Both Wanted, Kingsman, and the granddaddy of them all The Matrix all had variations of the fight choreography in Deadpool. There was something special about the ultra-violence depicted on screen, but even displays such as Watchmen and the first two Terminator films had copious amounts of ultra-violence. In my opinion, the two directors who have pulled off action as well as that in Deadpool are Timur Bekmambetov (Director of Wanted and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) and Matthew Vaughn (Director of Kick-Ass and Kingsman: The Secret Service). There are scenes in Wanted and Kick-Ass that still make me cringe when I think of them.
Okay, well, I did cringe at Green Lantern, but that wasn’t the point. In general, others have done what Deadpool has done, but I think their real trump card here was the internal dialogue from Wade. In fact, several sequences are shot in such a way that Deadpool is actively telling a complete story while dealing out death to anyone who was foolish enough to continue fighting after the first few bullets didn’t put him down. Again, as I said, it all comes back to Ryan Reynolds.
Something I don’t often cover in movie reviews, but applies here, is the musical score. Horror films utilize the score to create tension and unless you are watching a film with the name “John Williams” or “Danny Elfman”, you’re not likely to notice the score. Deadpool was an interesting case. The 1990’s Hip-Hop vibe and general zaniness of the music flaring with the action is one impressive bit. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there was a moment in the film where an action movie trope was exploited for a gag that had the theater in stitches.
There was only one flaw in Deadpool’s otherwise stellar story, action, and acting was the villain. Unlike *spoilers* President Underwood up there, I don’t know why Marvel, Fox, or Warner Bros. have not been able to produce a good villain since Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight. Did he set the bar too high? It’s been almost 10 years and we’ve seen squat in a fully formed villain. All I want is someone that has a reasonable scheme, no mystery casting (we all knew he was Khan), and can act worth a damn. I was however impressed with Gina Carano in the henchmen role which is her best role since she played “Crush” on the revamped “American Gladiators” during the 2008 Writer’s Strike.
Didn’t read my fancy words, here is the short version:
Deadpool is an instant classic in the superhero genre that has become saturated. Perhaps all we needed was a little bit of passion, humor, and debilitating ultra-violence injected straight into our veins to wake up from the action films that major studios have been peddling too us lately. They’re going to have to seriously up their game because not only is Deadpool a blast to watch, but it’s original without having to resort to filming the whole movie with computers. Just go see this movie, you won’t regret it…unless you bring your children. The explanations you’ll have to endure on the ride home will be harrowing to say the least.
I don’t have kids. That’s Manchicken’s job. He’s got three boys that are probably the coolest little monsters I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. Regardless of the lack of Darkmovienight offspring (seriously, the world is better off), I absolutely love animated comedies. Some of the absolute best films of all time are animated comedies and we owe it all to just a few people and studios: Disney, Pixar, Don Bluth, and Dreamworks. Now I know I’m likely missing out on a few key people (Steve Jobs and George Lucas had a LOT to do with the creation of Pixar), but as I see it, those studios and Mr. Bluth are the reasons we have cinematic gems like Kung Fu Panda 3.
Despite my unhealthy enjoyment of children’s movies (this doesn’t hurt since Mrs. Darkmovienight and I only have the attention span of 90 minutes anyway), I can still spot a good one, a classic, or just a disaster. Sadly in today’s age, we’re only given those options. For every Toy Story, there are at least four Alvin and the Chipmunks movies. Now to kids, this really doesn’t make much of a difference. I’ve seen some misses where the kids in the audience don’t even laugh (see last year’s The Good Dinosaur), but typically they’ll enjoy anything colorful you put them in front of for an hour and a half.
All of the mediocre children’s entertainment out there, it is extremely refreshing and relieving that Dreamworks decided to make a quality animated trilogy based on a Kung Fu Panda. In almost all regards, these films shouldn’t work. But somehow, they took a ridiculous idea, one of the largest, clumsiest, and cutest animals out there and turn them into an amazing warrior, sticking Jack Black’s voice in the titular character, and then unleashing it upon the cinematic world. Well, in 2008 the first Kung Fu Panda was introduced to the public and collected about $215M from the Domestic box office. Was it the star power? Sure, you had Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Jackie Chan, and the immortal Dustin Hoffman, but those names meant nothing to the kids. Nah, what you had was an excellent premise, fun looking slapstick action, and of course, a touching story of becoming more than you thought you could ever be.
Well, eight years from the original Kung Fu Panda, Dreamworks releases the third (and hopefully final) chapter to this epic tale of inner peace, humor, kicking butt, and of course…noodles & dumplings. If they choose to end the franchise right here and right now, then I believe Dreamworks will have succeeded in making one of the most complete trilogies in film during the modern era of animation.
If you’re not familiar with the Kung Fu Panda franchise, let me give you the nickle recap. A lowly Panda named Po, voiced by Jack Black has an utter obsession with Kung Fu and the protectors of the valley in which he lives: The Furious Five. These heroes of Kung Fu consist of Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Lui), Crane (David Cross), and Monkey (Jackie Chan). They’re also under the tutelage of Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman).
In the first film, an important ceremony is held in which the Elderly Master Oogway (a tortoise voiced by Randall Duk Kim who is a relative unknown, but tied to many martial arts films), chooses “The Dragon Warrior”. Prophesies and such as they are, point to The Dragon Warrior mastering Kung Fu, saving the Valley, and bringing the neurotic Master Shifu “Inner Peace”. Through several slapstick moments and the usual cartoon foolery, Po accidentally interrupts the ceremony and is chosen as The Dragon Warrior to everyone’s disbelief. Two things then stand out from this film: acceptance of yourself and not judging a Panda by his belly. Shifu eventually trains Po in the ways of Kung Fu through Po’s exceptional appetite. The main antagonist, Tai Lung (voiced by the insanely good Ian McShane) is defeated by Po as the Dragon Warrior by not only using Kung Fu, but his true abilities: his bouncy stomach and a lot of luck. Oh and an amazing and advanced Kung Fu technique called the “Wuxi Finger Hold”. Shown below the Wuxi Finger Hold is what equates to the Kung Fu version of “The Nuclear Option”.
At any rate, Kung Fu Panda succeeded on all levels: animation, storytelling, character development, comedy, action, and a well tuned lesson to both children and adults. Not to mention the absolutely jaw-dropping escape of Tai Lung from his prison in a mountain. Not only is it possibly the best animated fight scene I’ve ever seen, but it truly blows you away with gorgeous animation and A-FREAKING-MAZING audio. I just have to show it, see below.
Kung Fu Panda 2 followed a lot of the same plot and of course added 3D, another prophecy, and the villain, Shen, voiced by Gary Oldman (which is again a step up from so many other animated films). This prophecy was about how a warrior of “White and Black” would eventually defeat Shen and save all of China. Shen attempts panda genocide and Po goes all Moses in a radish basket. It ends much the same way with good action, some pretty funny dialogue, and excellent animation. Still, it falls into the dreaded “Sophomore Slump” and doesn’t exactly have the most vibrant life from the first movie.
The first two films in the series do great jobs of everything discussed, but Kung Fu Panda 3 does something even more special: it ends a series well. Again, this is so rare that you just have to admire Dreamworks for finishing strong. It really did come full circle. If you watched the first two, there are so many jokes that have continued throughout the entire series and they find their way into the third iteration with ease.
As far as the animation, it was beautiful, but I’ll be honest that it seems we’ve hit a plateau for computer generated animated features. I honestly don’t know what is the next jump, but it’ll likely be about water, hair or grass…so we probably won’t even notice.
Again, taking Kung Fu Panda as an entire connected trilogy, you definitely see the growth of every main character (Dustin Hoffman’s consistent exasperation with Po learning complicated Kung Fu concepts that should take years is kinda brilliant). Along with the characters that have grown well over the past few movies, the story continues to be stellar. If you’ve seen the trailer, then you know Po attempts to train other pandas in the ways of Kung Fu. Not only does this concept bring the series full circle, as Po teaches them Kung Fu that fits each of the other pandas’ skills, just as Shifu did for him in the first movie. I really loved that symmetry.
While the first few films dealt with prophecies, Kung Fu Panda 3 concerns itself with legends. This an important distinction and one of the reasons why I feel it was brilliant and will ultimately end the Kung Fu adventures of Po. The latest baddie is Kai, again, voiced by the phenomenal J.K. Simmons, is out to take over all of Kung Fu and conquer China. Only the Dragon Warrior can stand in his way.
My only hope is that Dreamworks quits while it is ahead. I’m sure that everyone went and saw Kung Fu Panda 3 this week, so it made money. I just really want them to be smart and let this film be the end. I know there will be HUGE temptations to keep going, but there are plenty of examples that show why a franchise shouldn’t go too long (I’m looking at you Pirates of the Caribbean franchise).
Didn’t read my fancy words, here is the short version:
Kung Fu Panda 3 succeeded on all levels just like the first film: slick animation, compelling storytelling, true character development over three films, comedy with tons of call backs throughout the entire franchise, killer Kung Fu action, and finally the lesson that this series has consistently hammered- believe in yourself and you can do anything. I loved it and at least up North, you and your kids have been stuck inside all week and you’re bouncing off the wall, so go see this film, you won’t regret it at all. Every kid will love it and it has everything that you loved about the first few movies. Just be ready for a little bit of Kung Fu Fighting:
Warning, the following review will indeed be a review of a Quentin Tarantino movie, we cannot do our job without being slightly profane. Rest assured that no racial slurs will be used, but if you’re offended by gratuitous violence and language, you wouldn’t see this movie anyway, let alone read a review. Now, on with the show, er, review:
Now I will get into detail about the film and showcase some of its best features as well as a few failings, but first I want to give you a little bit of history regarding the “70MM” presentation you might have heard about for this film. If you’re not interested, just skip to the picture of the film strips.
As you’ve likely seen, The Hateful Eight is being shown in this fancy “70MM Ultra Panavision” at select locations. Most of you will likely not get this opportunity as it requires a theater to rent, borrow, sell their souls for a projector that can handle it, and it’s being shown as a special “Roadshow Event”.
I threw a lot at you there. Let me break it down just a little bit in more detail. I’ll get to the film comparisons soon, and I won’t get too technical here, just take my word for it, it’s an extremely panoramic film that not only gives excellent detail, but can make landscapes absolutely breathtaking (there were quite a few examples in The Hateful Eight). What really makes this exciting is that this is the first movie filmed in 70MM and shown since 1966.
I also mentioned the special “Roadshow Event” earlier. Basically, when TV was first invented, everyone went nuts for this home entertainment miracle and thus stopped spending money at the theaters.
So, what was poor disenfranchised Hollywood to do when their adoring (paying) customers stayed home and watched Batman, the first episode of Star Trek, and The Andy Griffith Show instead of dressing up all fancy like, shelling out the nickles and dimes (or *gasp* a dollar) on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, El Dorado, or even Batman: The Movie.
Anyway, the answer from Hollywood was to make going to theaters an “experience” again. This came in the format of an old tactic called a “Roadshow Event”. The premise was simple, limit the supply (the movie release) and people would rush to see a “Special Screening” of Ben-Hur (1959) or It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)- and oh, I made sure that I had the correct amount of “Mads” in the title there. Genius idea, but without the best distribution methods, no Drones for Lyndon B. Johnson to deliver things…that we know about.
This is where the “Roadshow” portion came about. They would bring the projector, a full panoramic (and sometimes curved screen, which you might say they were ahead of the…oh forget it, you would probably lynch me for making that joke about modern Curved TVs), and the film from area to area to show the film. It made for those “Special Events” and got the attention of people again. While 1966 was the final year a 70MM film was made, Hollywood did okay by reviving an old gimmick with new technology that would last well into the 1980’s:
Bit of history on the “Roadshow Events” and now just a quick showcase of 70MM film in general. I’ll do it quick and I won’t have you all do any math. The 70MM film format had a ratio of 2.76:1 (that means the screen is 2.76 times as wide as it is tall). Compared, most movies today are projected in either 1.85:1 (35MM) or 2.35:1 “anamorphic widescreen” format. High-Def screens feature a 16:9 ratio, which is close enough to 1.85:1, and besides, only nerds like me appreciate. As I said earlier, this is done to give amazing landscapes, epic scale of set pieces, and almost turning the film into a “play-like quality”. Just take a quick look below to see comparisons of the different types of film. I tossed in a true IMAX comparison just for fun.
History lesson is over, let’s talk about all the filthy, gory, disturbing, racist and other offensive non-sense Tarantino loves to showcase in all of his films.
As I said in the title, Samuel L. Jackson really steals the show here. His character not only progresses much of the story forward, and is the most clever. Don’t get me wrong, I love Samuel L. Jackson and every Tarantino film, but I think it’s time they take a break from each other. If you were to look at Tarantino’s IMDB page, you would see seventeen director credits. All but eight of them, are TV shows, guest directing gigs, etc. The meat of his directing career, the eight true films, starting with Reservoir Dogs (1992) and leading up to The Hateful Eight, Samuel L. Jackson appears in six of those eight films.
I mean, there is no cardinal sin here since both Samuel L. Jackson and Quentin Tarantino are both insanely talented, and they haven’t gotten to the level of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. The latter two’s collaborations are getting worse and worse as the years go by. I don’t want the same phenomenon to happen to Jackson and Tarantino. And like I said, Jackson steals the show. He’s the one the audience is rooting for and he can do no wrong. In fact, in this performance, I believe he leaves a little on the table even though his dialogue is crisp and well delivered, it just feels that he’s playing “Samuel L. Jackson” and not the character in the film.
Everyone else has their assigned duties. Kurt Russel pokes his head out from whatever hole he was in and punches a woman in the face so many times that I wanted to call the cops for assault and battery. You’ve got other normal Tarantino actors: Michael Madsen and Tim Roth who put on great performances. I really appreciate Roth who has one of the most prolonged but easily hilarious scenes I’ve seen. You have to pay attention, but it’s there and it is glorious. The others involved deliver the script to mount as much tension as possible before we have the “Tarantino Battle Minute”.
I name this particular sequence the “Tarantino Battle Minute” because it happens in every one of his films. First, there is a seriously long discussion/dialogue featuring one person to a medium sized group. This is Tarantino’s specialty. No other writer/director ever produces such authentic dialogue. It’s natural and in some situations, like half the scenes in Inglorious Basterds, it builds the tension to a serious boiling point. That’s the second part, the “Tarantino Battle Minute”. After all the conversations, there is a lightning quick amount of carnage.
Heads are blown off, people disemboweled, simultaneous murders, limbs ripped apart or off, testicles shredded, eyes stepped on, and in one case, the top of someone’s head is cleanly sliced off. All this will occur in a matter of moments. The longest example is from Kill Bill: Vol. 1 when The Bride destroys the gang known as “The Crazy 88”. But suffice it to say, the “Tarantino Battle Minute” usually ends up looking like this afterwards:
You know these are in the movie. They’re bloody fantastic (I mean that in the most serious and every way possible). But, that brings me to a moment of hesitation in The Hateful Eight, I essentially knew what was going to happen the entire time and that’s kind of a bummer. I know a lot of other films follow a director’s style and exact same formula, but that doesn’t make it any better. What I can, and will say, is that even though I knew it was coming, it still showcased some of the most ridiculous and gratuitous violence with guns I’ve ever seen. I say guns because The Bride murders with a blade.
Now some things I can dote on are the cinematography and set design. I saw the film in its 70MM format, so your experience may vary, but what I felt was true immersion with the landscape and the characters. It’s something that 3D tries to do all the time, but can’t quite get it right. You immediately see why Tarantino resurrected a decades old film format: not only “just because he could”, but he wanted the audience in that cabin and wanted us to be able to see every detail around us.
That’s really the last thing I can say about the film: the set was perfect. You have eight people in a one-room shack with no where to hide. The outhouse is indeed outside, along with the stables. The door has to be nailed shut due to it being broken. And with all the decorations, tables, bed, bar, fireplace, and eight strangers, it gets extremely claustrophobic and paranoia, even in the audience, looms everywhere. Tarantino could not have constructed a more perfectly tense location for the characters to interact.
I wouldn’t be doing my job very well if I didn’t warn against the coarse language throughout the entire film. I cannot imagine any of our readers offended by the slurs and curses, but I have to at least say something. And it really does add to the dialogue. The film takes place in the Post Civil War time and listening to the transition and moderate to no acceptance of anything or anyone was fascinating.
Didn’t read my fancy words, here is the short version:
The Hateful Eight is a Quentin Tarantino film. Everything he does in every other movie he has done is present in this feature. I can’t imagine this would be your first Tarantino film, so if you like what he’s done before, you’re going to like this movie. I will say I’m getting tired of Samuel L. Jackson stealing every scene he’s in, but that’s a minor complaint. Still it kept a little enjoyment from me, not much, but I wasn’t as invested in the character as I usually would have been. Finally, if you live somewhere that has the 70MM Roadshow, see that version, you’ll be treating yourself.
Going to try something new for comedic films. In general, when you go to see a comedy, there is only one thing you need: the movie needs to make you laugh. I could go for a huge review of the actors, the director, cinematography, atmosphere, writing, dialogue or even the absolutely insane demands some actors make while filming.
But what I’m trying to say is, all you want to ask is one question: Was it funny? We’ll answer it as quickly as we can so you can get back to procrastinating. You really should fix that lock on on your bathroom.
Anyway, I’m going to try out the new format and we’ll go from there.
Are the actors good?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and Jillian Bell are hilarious. There are also some awesome cameos, but no spoilers here. Anthony Mackie seems like he’s trying too hard. He should probably stick to being an Avenger for now:
Is the story stupid?
Not at all. It’s actually pretty touching. I wouldn’t mind adding it to Christmas and “coming of age” comedy classics. And there is only one or two moments of “fantasy/science fiction” that are not drug induced.
Who should I see this with?
Your best friends. It’s all about friendship and growing up and if you can’t relate, you’re likely not human, but I’m not judging. I think Grandma might want to skip this one. Unless she is still into the drug scene, then, more power to her.
General note on comedy films: try your best to see them with a large crowd, like opening weekend. You will feed off the crowd as they laugh and you’ll have a lot more fun. Just my personal experience, take it or leave it.
What movies would you compare it to?
Anything Seth Rogen and James Franco have been in
Anything Judd Apatow has written or directed
Harold and Kumar Series
Finally: Was it funny?
Yes. It’s very much the juvenile humor we’ve come to expect from anything Seth Rogen is involved in (well, with one exception). It’s got it all, absurd situations, drugs, sex, and Top 40 music. JGL is amazing. He sings, dances, gets beat up and adds all the feelings the movie needs. Seth Rogen does his normal stuff and you’ll love him for it. The Night Before is funny and you need to see it with your friends at home when you’re drinking, smoking, or completely sober. You already missed opening weekend, so just wait for the home release.
On this blog we pride ourselves on trying to provide you with an experience which you could share with your grand mother, your co-worker, and even your super-religious busybody next-door neighbor who never returns your power tools when he borrows them. I mean, sure, they might not be into the same types of films as you are, but at least you could discuss the review with them without offending.
This review, however, contains accurate depictions of terrible scenes in a terrible film in a matter-of-fact way. I have done my best to keep it tame, but due to the nature of this film and how awful it was I cannot promise that you won’t have your Mormon neighbor telling to watch your language.
You have been warned.
Allow me to rant
On principal, I make it a point to always give a movie a fair shake. I have never left the theater in the middle of the movie before… until now. This movie was offensive in a special way. It wasn’t blatantly racist – though non-white people are nowhere to be found. It was particularly misogynistic, but not any more so than any other “boys coming of age” nonsense being produced these days. It wasn’t too gruesome or full of gore, and it didn’t offend my delicate sensibilities with naughty words.
No, this film offended my love of zombies and this will not stand!
In this film they have zombie deer (yes, the animal), zombie house cats, zombie old ladies which gum their victims on the ass after their dentures have been dislodged during the fight, and zombies singing “Hit Me Baby One More Time” (yes, the Britney Spears song). The final straw for me was actually when a zombie who was missing his lower mandible performed cunnilingus on a teenage girl before biting her genitals. The teenage girl even described the act as “eat me out” (though she said it to a different, significantly less walking-dead-type individual) prior to this bit.
I walked away from this movie with two thoughts: 1) the people who made this movie do not respect their audience, and 2) perhaps my teachers were right and reading a book might be a better use of my time.
No, I won’t review this movie
So, normally I would give you an intro like this in a lead-up to a movie review. To be honest, I don’t think it would be fair to you – my dear reader – for me to review a movie which I just confessed to walking out of. Additionally, I don’t think this movie really deserves a review. We’ve reviewed some awful movies on this blog before, but this one – at least to me – is likely the worst one we have ever mentioned.
If I were to review this movie…
If I were to review this movie, I don’t think it would go well. It would go something like “yeah, I saw every ‘twist’ coming a mile away,” or “the acting was so bad that I think they may have shot the scene reading teleprompters when the director had to run to the toilet after a particularly harrowing taco Tuesday.” I may also concede that I’ve finally seen a film with less artistic merit than Jackass, and with fewer plot holes than Sharknado.
If I were to describe the “plot” of this fiery train-wreck upon a dung heap I would probably say something like “two boys try to go to a party to get laid, but it was interrupted by a zombie apocalypse.” I didn’t watch the ending, but I’d actually be willing to put money on the chance that the character Ben (played by Tye Sheridan) won the heart of Kendall Grant (played by Halston Sage) after the grand conclusion where I’m guessing that Ben, Carter Grant (played by Logan Miller), and Augie (played by Joey Morgan) saved Kendall. I don’t know if that is how it went down or not because I walked out of the film silent and indignant. Hell, Augie probably got laid by the end as well, who knows? Not me. I don’t know because this film just was not worth my time to finish.
Movies are expensive. This is an expensive hobby (pronounced “habit”). I maintain that I don’t get to tell other people how to make their art, but this was just the worst.
This movie felt like a young child telling the same joke over and over again, explaining it after each attempt when I didn’t laugh as though I didn’t get the joke. I get the freaking joke… it’s just not funny.
“Imagine if you had three wishes, three hopes, three dreams, and they all could come true.”
Those are the words adorned across the beautifully simplistic original movie poster of Aladdin. In 1992, Disney was in the early stages of what many call “The Disney Renaissance”. It started in 1989 with The Little Mermaid and ended in 1999 with Tarzan. In that time we were gifted films like Mulan, The Lion King, Hercules (my personal favorite), and the first animated film to receive an Academy Awards nomination for Best Picture, Beauty and the Beast. As with all Renaissance periods, it wasn’t until afterwards did many recognize these great achievements in film making history.
With the release of Aladdin on Blu-Ray, which you can buy here, we can finally pitch our VHS copies and toss in one of many next gen devices we have hanging out around the house. Anytime you watch a film from your childhood, you run the risk of nostalgia and quality clashing. I absolutely adore the film My Science Project from 1985, but it absolutely blows by film standards. So, you have two options at this junction:
Keep it in your memory where it may belong -or-
Take the plunge and revisit your childhood love and discover if the film was indeed as good as you remember
Let’s hold our breath and take that plunge.
Aladdin is not only the hilarious madhouse I remember it to be, but so much more as I view as an adult. I can only imagine my family sitting in the theater, watching Aladdin with me, and enjoying it just as much as I was. As I giggled at Robin Williams’ Genie, my family likely saw the lush, colorful animation, heard the catchy tunes, and were wrapped up in the brilliant storytelling which they could only hope to see in any live-action film that year. Viewing it now, I just cannot imagine anyone not being blown away by what they just watched.
While discussing Aladdin, we really have to start with Robin Williams’ and his pitch perfect performance of the Genie. The character was full of enough zany energy and 90’s pop culture to choke a camel. I cannot for the life of me imagine anyone not finding the Genie just the perfect centerpiece to this film. Most of, if not all, the comedy comes from the Genie and his transformations, dialogue, and songs. I mean, I don’t know anyone who can watch Aladdin and nothave “Friend Like Me” stuck in their heads. Even if you haven’t seen it recently, you are now humming that song.
I just don’t believe they’ve written such a beautiful and tragic character in any of their films. The Genie is a slave to the lamp and whomever holds it and here he has a master that says he’ll wish him free. However unlikely that he would give up a wish, it’s what we’ve come to expect from our hero Aladdin “The Diamond in the Rough”. Which is exactly why it’s such a gut punch when Aladdin may not hold up his end of the bargain later in the film.
All of the other voice actors do a fantastic job and the professional singers they bring in for some of the songs are just perfect. A lot of this can be attributed to the lyrics of Sir Timothy Rice (yeah, he was Knighted, how awesome is that?) and the score of Alan Menken. Much of the music from the Disney Renaissance was done by these two talented men. It also helps when your songs get radio play versions and some are even sung by Sir Elton John.
The whole cast of characters are great, but Abu, the Carpet & Jafar/Iago really stand out to me. I don’t know about you, but I wanted a monkey sidekick after seeing this movie. I had great plans for him all the adventures we would go on. Then one flung poo at me while visiting the zoo, so that fantasy ended pretty quickly. And you would have to be inhuman to not love the Carpet. Let’s face it, every kid wants to fly. I know that every one of you, even if you’re afraid of heights, has wanted to fly. Not only do the Disney Animators work their magic by introducing another means for flight, but they actually have the Carpet emote. Think about that for a second. Tons of characters on screen at any time, and they took the time to make it look like a rug can be happy or sad. That’s just utter dedication to your film and its audience.
Jafar and Iago’s villainy ranks right up there with some of the worst in Disney history (Hades being my favorite) in my opinion. Sure Jafar only has a single song and it’s a reprise, but it’s still pretty menacing. And Jafar is such a classic villain, which is absolutely perfect here. In a film where you’re dealing with the ambiguity of stealing for food, making selfish wishes, and forcing others into slavery, both the Genie and to some extent Jasmine, they really needed a defined villain. Not to mention Gilbert Gottfried’s Iago which his manic energy is only rivaled by the Genie (I can only imagine those recording sessions with those two comedians in the room together). Both Jafar and Iago combine to be an absolutely diabolical team and we know it from the very first scene. Just like audiences knew it when they saw Darth Vader in Star Wars.
I could go on for another several pages but you all know that Aladdin ranks up there with some of the all time greatest films, animated or otherwise. Aladdin is just perfect and it’s a shame they don’t make them like that anymore. We’ll just have to deal with all of our tears while watching a Pixar movie.
Didn’t read my fancy words, here is the short version: