Friday, July 29, 2011

Opening This Weekend: Hope You Like Aliens

Cowboys &. Aliens -- James Bond, Han Solo, and Oscar Wilde's imaginary granddaughter star in this comic-book movie by the former Iron Man director. I'm not 100% sure on the plot, but I think it has to do with aliens fighting the Dallas Cowboys. That explains how Jerry Jones looks like he leads The Syndicate in X-Files.  This films had tons of hype leading up to its premiere at Comic-con. Then people actually saw it. The verdict: At least it looks good.

Attack The Block -- This had the opposite effect. It slowly built up hype until it exploded at Comic-con. The Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) produced flick has aliens landing in a British ghetto, something that doesn't please the gangs too well. One of the gangs is led by Wright mainstay Nick Frost, meaning UK gangs are much more fun than US gangs. This has won multiple awards already, as has been called a cross between District 9 and Reservoir Dogs. Well it just won another award for "Weirdest Comparison Ever". This recently got bumped up from a limited release, but it still may be hard to find at your local theater.

The Smurfs -- KILL IT WITH FIRE! I guess Smurfs are kinda like aliens, and this movie does look more dangerous than a Xenomorph invasion. The most prominent preview for this film has one of the Smurfs constantly making a vuvuzela sound, and the other characters are saying how annoying he is. Let me repeat, they are selling this movie by a scene that is so annoying, the people in the movie can't stand it. Why does this movie exist? Are Smurf fans really that vocal? Did the film studios think Yogi Bear, Underdog, Astro Boy, and all those other films flopping was just a fluke? Did they even watch the old shows? What is up with Papa Smurf's voice? This probably won't even have the blatant sexism that made the old series such a classic.

Crazy, Stupid, Love -- The previews for this move have been playing for months now. I am really surprised it is just now coming out. Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon, and a few less important people fall in love. There's a little crazy involved, but mostly stupid. The critics seem to like this so far, so I guess lightning can strike twice for this same creative team who made Bad Santa.

The Fut Ure -- Yeah, it is really stylized like that. Miranda July writes, directs, and stars in a semi-autobiographical tale of a talking cat (played by July) who tells July (played by July) what to do with her life. Have fun discussing this one at Starbucks.

The Devil's Double -- It's about Uday Hussein's body double. I only like this because of an inside joke. Too long, don't care: We lost trivia night because my best friend wrote down Rob Zombie's The Double Rejects. So I would love to run this title by him. Too bad that won't happen. That trivia ended our friendship.

Life in a Day -- A "time capsule" of people around the world recording their everyday lives. On one hand, this is an interesting premise. On the other, this sounds like the most boring movie ever.

Thundercats -- HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Cartoon Network is premiering the new Thundercats cartoon Friday (in just an hour actually). It looks so good, it makes me want to go back to the 80s and relive my childhood. It's the opposite of Smurfs, which makes me want to go back to the 80s and dip all those Smurf toys into vats of Aquadots.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Acting Losing Streaks

Don't watch it. I'm warning you.

It has taken me awhile, but I think I found the secret to good blog posting. If you are too lazy to write yourself, steal from someone else. Welcome to the internet.

The nice folks at Uproxx put together a list of actors who have had at least five bad movies after winning an Oscar. Not that winning an Oscar equals a good movie. But yeah... yeah. I don't have much more to say. So here's the list.

10. Nicole Kidman = 5. Won for The Hours in 2002. Flops from 2007 to 2009, Invasion, Golden Compass, Margot at the Wedding, Australia, Nine.
Remember, Australia and Nine were hyped to hell and back for the award shows. I think only nine people saw Nine, and only the population of Australia saw Australia. That's 18 people all together.

9. Joe Pesci = 5. Won for Goodfellas in 1990. Flops from 1997 to 2010, 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag, Gone Fishin', Lethal Weapon 4, The Good Shephard, Love Ranch.
I loved Lethal Weapon 4. It gave the West Jet Li and it was a great send off to one of the best (now dead) sub-genres in film, the interracial buddy cop flick. It is also a million times better than Lethal Weapon 3.

8. Robert DeNiro = 5. Won for Godfather Part II in 1974 and Raging Bull in 1980. Flops from 2002 to 2005,  Showtime, City by the Sea, Analyze That, Meet the Fockers, Hide and Seek.
DeNiro was one of the greatest actors of all-time. But he should have retired a decade ago. I can only name two good films of his over the past ten years (Meet the Parents and The Score, maybe Stardust). Rocky & Bullwinkle and Little Fockers almost discredit his entire career single-handedly. And don't forget about Righteous Kill with Al Pacino. That was like watching your parents die for two straight hours.

7. Ben Affleck = 7. Won for Good Will Hunting in 1997. Flops from 2002 to 2006, The Third Wheel, Daredevil, Gigli, Paycheck, Jersey Girl, Surviving Christmas, Man About Town.
He only won for writing in Good Will Hunting, and he shared it on top of that. And according to reliable sources (aka that one Family Guy cut-away) Matt Damon did all the writing.

6. Marisa Tomei = 8. Won for My Cousin Vinny in 1992. Flops from 2001 to 2006, Someone Like You, Just a Kiss, The Guru, Anger Management, Alfie, Loverboy, Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School, The Factotum.
According to legend, she really didn't win for My Cousin Vinny, but the presenter was too drunk to read the card and just said the last name he remembered (come to think about it, Family Guy did a cut-away for that too). But that doesn't change the fact that she is the world's best looking woman over 40.

5. Julia Roberts = 9. Won for Erin Brockovich in 2000 (with noms for Pretty Woman and Steel Magnolias before that). Flops from 1990 to1996, Flatliners, Dying Young, Hook, Sleeping with the Enemy, The Pelican Brief, I Love Trouble, Ready to Wear, Something to Talk About, Mary Reilly.
I not sure what I'm more upset about: The list maker breaking their own rules for including movies before she won an Oscar, or for the list makers saying Hook is a bad movie.

4. Kevin Spacey = 9. Won for The Usual Suspects in 1995 and American Beauty in 1999. Flops from 1999 to 2006, Ordinary Decent Criminal, Pay It Forward, The Shipping News, K-Pax, Austin Powers: Goldmember, The United States of Leland, The Life of David Gale, Beyond the Sea, Edison.
Kevin Spacey is at his best when he plays a bad guy. And you can't count Austin Powers against him. His ten seconds of screen time were absolutely brilliant     

3. Helen Hunt = 10. Won for As Good As It Gets in 1997. Flops from 2000 to Current, Pay It Forward, What Women Want, Dr. T. and the Woman, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, One Night at McCools, A Good Woman, Bobby, Then She Found Me, Every Day, Soul Surfer.
She also won four Emmys from 1996-99 in Mad About You. How many other TV actors have made this good of jump to the big screen?

2. Robin Williams = 13. Won for Good Will Hunting in 1997 (and was robbed for several other ones). Flops from 2004 to 2009, The Final Cut, Noel, House of D, The Night Listener, The Big White, Night at the Museum, The Night Listener, R.V., Everyone's Hero, Man of the Year, License to Wed, August Rush, Old Dogs.
Robin Williams is another multi-Emmy winner, both from stand-up routines. For being one of the funniest people alive, he has put out tons of painfully unfunny stuff. What's even harder to believe is the movie that broke his losing streak was World's Greatest Dad, an insanely dark comedy about his dead son that was directed by Bobcat Goldthwait of all people.

1. Cuba Gooding, Jr. = 16. Won for Jerry Maguire in 1996. Flops form 1999 to 2007, Murder of Crows, Instinct, Chill Factor, Men of Honor, Rat Race, Pearl Harbor, Snow Dogs, Boat Trip, The Fighting Temptations, Radio, Home on the Range, Shadowboxer, Dirty, Daddy Day Camp, What Love Is, Norbit.
While he did a great job of yelling "Show me the money!", that best supporting actor award had William H. Macy written all over it. But it was worth it for his mega hyper - possibly cocaine influenced - acceptance speech, which must have blacklisted him from Hollywood. However, anyone who accepts a role in a sequel to a cancerous Eddie Murphy movie deserves to be left in the dust.

Monday, July 25, 2011

News, Death, Comics, Cons, Lines, Money, Stuff

I'm back. I did not go to Comic-Con over the weekend, but I did spend lots of time waiting in line the past few days. So it is basically the same thing. Here's what happened over the weekend.

-Oddly enough, last time I was gone for a weekend, I began my post with an Avengers poster. Here's another (actually, seven more) showing off the characters in all their glory. This is also our first at Mark Ruffalo and the side of his giant face as the Hulk. (slightly better picture Here)

-The final lead-up to the Avengers - Captain America: The First Avenger - did pretty good at the box office. It was number one with $65 million (That's $600,000 less than Thor, which I thought was a flop. It's looking pretty good in hindsight now). $10.50 of that was mine (superior 2-D version), and it was very good. I think Thor was more fun, but this worked a lot better as a movie. It also ties in very well to the other Avengers movies. Big shocker however. The rest of the world doesn't Captain AMERICA that much, as it only made $2 million overseas, despite simply being called The First Avenger in most countries.

-Harry Potter took a big fall, making a mere $47 million domestically in its second week. Don't feel too bad though, it sits at $834 million worldwide.

-Friends With Benefits, the completely fictional movie that made me want to punch my TV every time they ran an ad, was third with $18 million. And now the only reason to see this (Mila Kunis naked) has been debunked as a body double. And no, that wasn't really her topless in Forgetting Sarah Marshall either.

-Amy Winehouse died. I was shocked she was still alive anyway. And since she died at 27 years old, out comes the comparisons to Jimi Hendricks, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain, and everyone else who died at the same age. Despite what some people are saying, there is no conspiracy that people die at 27. Also despite what some people are saying, Winehouse doesn't belong in the same sentence as those legends.

-Comic-Con came and went without too many Megaton announcements. The biggest news was Rhys Ifans, who plays the Lizard in the awful looking Spider-Man movie, came to his press conference drunk, pushed some security guards, and blamed America for everything wrong in this world before he was arrested. Sometime in all that, he revealed that the Lizard was a giant Hulk-like beast without a lizard mouth who lives in the sewer. Who can blame him for drinking?

-Robert Rodrigeuz, one of my favorite directors, announced he was finally going to make Sin City 2. He has the script and he hopes to get it done this year (Sin City 1 was completed insanely fast, despite having a huge ensemble cast). He also plans on a Machete Trilogy, one of which has him going to space. He is also doing a new Heavy Metal anthology movie. There won't too many details with that, but he is looking for fan submissions. These four R-rated, borderline NC-17 films, will come out after the family friendly Spy Kids 4-D. That's why I love this director.

-Pee-Wee Herman is trying to get a new movie now that his Broadway show has been such a hit.

-They are making a live action Voltron movie and a live action Captain Planet (!!!) movie. No word yet on whether Ted Tuner is cast in the lead role.  

-Snow White And The Huntsman is a film to keep your eye on. Kristen Stewart is Snow White, Charlize Theron is the Queen, Chris Hemsworth is the Huntsman, and the Dwarfs are Nick Frost, Ray Winstone, Toby Jones, Johnny Harris, Bob Hoskins, Eddie Marsdan, Brendan Gleeson and of course, Ian McShane.

-I compared Spider-Man to Mirror's Edge, a game many of you probably aren't familar with. Well here they are side by side. This actually is pretty sickening. Mirror's Edge is on top, I think.

 -Finally, here's a full trailer for the Walking Dead season 2. It's so good, I almost forgive AMC for the stupid zombie and rock throwing teaser.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Spider-Man: Turn Off The Film

With Captain America just a few days away, it is the perfect time for the other comic books to knock the wind out of the patriot's sails. There's the new Batman trailer, where nothing happened. There's the new Walking Dead trailer, where nothing happened. And there's the trailer after Captain America, which actually has some excitement. I won't spoil it for you, but if you want to know simply tune in to any other website on the internet. Now we have the first full trailer for the Spider-Man reboot, which has just slightly more than nothing happening.

Now the other Spider-Man films - all three of them - are great movies. I understand there were some problems with director Sam Raimi and the studio, and that Tobey Maguire and Kristen Dunst aged about 30 years between films (and still couldn't find any chemistry), but it seems like those are easy things to fix without remaking the entire franchise. Replacing an actor mid-series isn't the end of the world (it's actually pretty common in super-hero movies) and as long as they are good, nobody except idiots would complain. Then they can still work with the established franchise.

I just hate the idea of reboots, so maybe that alone killed this trailer for me. But the trailer being god-awful sure doesn't help. Watch it if you dare.    

Spider-Man is without a doubt one of the most fun and light-hearted comics out there. This is the exact opposite. Strike one: Why does this look serious? I hate throwing the term "emo" around (maybe because I love Rites of Spring and so many other old DC bands, but they all got mixed in with all the crappy MTV-emo bands in the mid 2000s, but that's a story for another day) but this looks insanely emo. The bad kind. One of the biggest complaints of Spider-Man 3 was how it was super emo (less so than the other two, but that's another story for another 'nother day), so what better way to start off a fresh start reboot than by going back to the old films.

Strike two, why are his parents there? Amazing Spider-Man is on issue magic number 666. In all those years, his parents appeared about four times, usually as a robotic decoy. While I don't care how they stick to the comics, Peter Parker having no parents plays a much larger role. It is a common writing strategy to not give the hero any parents (see Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Frodo, Dorothy, and the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) to make him more disconnected from his or her surroundings and more relatable to the viewers. It also gives the hero a reason to leave home and begin the adventure. However, everything about this trailer says his parents leaving play a large part of the story. It is just going to bog the film down.

Strike three, what is with that action scene? I guess we should be grateful there actually was an action scene, but that was ripped directly out of Mirror's Edge. Except with worse CGI (must have been the Wii version). Are all the Spider-Man scenes going to be in first person? Or was that just a quick teaser they whipped together? While it sure didn't make me want to see, it got me in the mood to play Mirror's Edge again. This may even be a good enough excuse for EA to finally make a sequel.

For now, I'm not going to look past the trailer (I have too many bad things to say about the film's exclusion of J. Jonah Jameson), but something tells me we may be seeing a second reboot in the near future. We still got a year till its release, so maybe they can fix it still. Until then, the only thing we can take solace in is there is no way this turns out worse than the Spider-Man Musical.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Breaking Bad and Box Cutters

Well Breaking Bad Season 4 premiered last night. With 2.6 million viewers, it was the most watched episode of Breaking Bad yet. But if you weren't one of those people, be careful because I'm about to discuss some MASSIVE SPOILERS!!

So I was wrong about a few things. Thankfully, I was correct when I said Breaking Bad is the best show on TV.  I am just blown away at the details and production values put into this show and so many other shows on AMC. Everything down to the blocking is just brilliant, and they again showed they are not afraid to hold anything back.

However, I can't believe Jesse really shot Gale. I watched the end of season three again, and he is indeed pointing the gun at him. They used some trick cinematography (the scientific film-making term is "moving the camera")  to make it look like he moved the gun. Nearly everyone I've talked to thought he pointed the gun away as well. Maybe it is just that Jesse is such a great character - possibly the best tragic hero in modern fiction - and we don't want to see him falling further into darkness. But it's done, and between that, the other dead body, Hank being all grumpy, Saul being uptight, and the major lack of dialog in this episode, this is looking like it will be a very dark season.

About that other dead body, that my be one of the most graphic and disturbing deaths I've ever seen. And on basic cable nonetheless. It wasn't just the throat being slit, but how he held him and the noises he made was intense to say the least. But it was also a nice bookend to the box cutter cutting boxes at the beginning. Speaking of which, the flashback cold openings are always the best, and this was no different. Best part of the episode. But back to the murder, my only complaint of the episode was Gus didn't say anything like "That's what happens when people see you at a crime scene" or "He forgot the aluminum" or something to justify his death. But perhaps, that makes Gus even more terrifying.

Even Skyler, possibly the most unlikable person ever, showed some compassion for once in her miserable life. Yet people are complaining about her scenes, and a bunch of idiots online are even complaining that the episode dragged. I guess a ton of those 2.6 million tuned in for their first ever episode. If an episode where a guy gets shot through the eye and another gets his throat slashed, his body dissolved in acid, and his "soup" shipped to a chicken restaurant - both being betrayed by their own partners, of course - is a slow episode, I would hate to see an exciting episode. Actually, I would love to see that, but I was just following the saying.

Also, best ever use of a Sony Vaio.

The other thing I was wrong about (and trust me, that isn't a phrase I'll use often) was how the Walking Dead teaser may actually be meaningful. It wasn't. While throwing rocks at zombies is surely tons of fun...was that seriously the entire preview? I almost rather have text and BRAAAAAMs.     

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Box Office Round Up: Harry Potter and the Gobs of Cash

Pictured: Nightmares 

Big upset at the box office this weekend: Harry Potter 7 part 2 was #1. It made a decent profit of $168 million. That is ten million more than the Dark Knight, which previously held the domestic record. It also shattered the record for best international opening weekend, with $307 million overseas. Believe it or not, some movie which people are already forgetting about - Pirates 4 - was the old record holder with $260 million. And of course, by the magic of addition, Harry Potter also has the worldwide opening weekend record with $475 million.

Might as well keep the records coming. Friday alone, this made $92 million in the USA, which is up $20m from Twilight (aka Harry Potter with vampires. And written by a three year old). In Harry's home United Kingdom, it brought in a country best $36.6m, and it also set a national record with $26.7m in Australia. When it surpasses a half billion dollars tomorrow, it would be the fastest film to ever do so.

One final record: All eight Harry Potter movies have now combined for $6,847,600,000! That is 2.6 billion more dollars than the Star Wars franchise. I believe they have sold a couple Harry Potter books as well. Basically, J.K. Rowling has so much money, she could build a 1:1 replica of Hogwarts out of British pounds, only to set it on fire to keep her twelve other 1:1 replicas of Hogwarts warm.    

Number two was Transformers ($21m), which has built a nice domestic lead with $302 million overall. Harry will catch it though, just like in Quidditch.Then everything else would mean nothing, just like in Quidditch. It's a weird sport.

Horrible Bosses was third with $17m and $60m on the year. Zookeeper had $12m for fourth. Cars 2 was fifth with $8m and $165m on the year. And coming in sixth is Winnie the Pooh with $8m in its opening weekend *plays Price is Right failure music*. I don't think anyone even knew this was opening.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Opening This Weekend: Harry Potter and the Final Cash Grab (Part 2)(In 3D)

It's Harry Potter!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 -- Some people may think it is blasphemous that I have never read a Harry Potter book or that I have only seen one Harry Potter movie (I did like it though, which makes it even odder that I've never seen any of the others). I say it is blasphemous that a movie can cast both Gary Oldman and Alan Rickman, and have neither of them play bad guys. 

I am happy to see the main trio of actors in all their TV interviews now. Despite being typecast for life, they are all very appreciative that they had those roles and are legitimately sad the series is ending. You can't say that about too many big series (I'm looking at you cast of Star Wars minus Anthony Daniels). 

I hope everyone who wants to see this already has tickets. Every single theater in the St. Louis area was sold out for the Thursday midnight showings, as well as the 2:30 a.m. showings, to the tune of some 270,000 seats. And some people think Transformers will out-gross this.

The Dark Knight Rises teaser -- This is almost as big of news as the new Harry Potter. The first teaser for the new Batman will show before HP, and people are going nuts. Some people have no idea what a "tease"r is. Enjoy your minute and a half of old footage, text, BRAAAM!s, and maybe MAYBE ten seconds of new footage.

Winnie the Pooh -- Ladies and gentlemen, this here is the stupidest decisions Hollywood has ever made. Winnie the Pooh is one of the most beloved creations of all time, and unlike so much other CGI remake crap nowadays, he retains his classic hand-drawn art style, in a film that is getting tons of love from critics all over. And they bury it under Harry Potter. Good show, morons.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan -- An epic drama based on a Chinese masterpiece...which co-stars Hugh Jackman.

The Undefeated --  A documentary on Sarah Palin's rise to power. I guess serving a half term in a state which is virtually Canada is enough to get you a documentary.

Tabloid -- Another documentary, which is actually a much more fitting name for a Sarah Palin vehicle. But this one is about Miss Wyoming (a state that makes Alaska look like downtown Tokyo) and someone she kidnapped in 1978, or something. Its supposed to be great.

Salvation Boulevard -- This one is supposed to be horrible, but you would never tell from the synopsis. Greg Kinnear is a Grateful Dead fan turned born-again-Christian, and he is framed for murder by the town pastor, Pierce Bronson. Oh, and it somehow plays out like a Three's Company episode.

Phase 7 -- This Argentine film is a mix of Shaun of the Dead and [REC], except without the zombies. I have no clue how that works.

Breaking Bad -- Since I'm not a Harry Potter fan, I'm staying in this weekend. Good thing for me the best show on television returns on Sunday. Spoilers for the end of season 3: Did Jesse shoot him? Of course he didn't shoot him. How can so many people actually think he did.

The Walking Dead teaser -- AMC's second best show after BB. This is my pick for teaser of the weekend, as it has a chance of actually showing some meaningful new footage.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The ESPYs. Because Why Not?

Pictured:The new Joker in The Dark Knight Rises.

Some people don't think there are enough meaningless award shows. Some people explode if they go three days without a real baseball game. If you fall into either of these categories, then the ESPYs are for you. You should probably also consider taking up a new hobby.

Even though I am a huge sports fan, I try to keep them out of this blog. This blog is dedicated entirely to movies (except when I talk about TV, comics, books, video games, live theater, AT&T, Norway, economics, stuff in my life you don't care about, etc.), but the ESPYs have so little to do with sports, I figure I could include them here.

First off, why Seth Meyers? While he is a step up from Jay Mohr, who hosted the legitimate NHL Awards, Meyers has to be the least funny person in Saturday Night Live history. And unlike the ESPYs, you actually have to try to win that award. The silence that went through the audience was just plain eerie. Then he did that Dirk School skit with Bill Hader which was kinda funny, but it lasted waaaaaaay too long.

On that note, why was this so long? There were two awards for perseverance, and each one had a seemingly 30 minute video clip to them. Why? Isn't that what ESPN's 30 for 30 was for?
(On that note, some of those documentaries were really good, namely "The Two Escobars", "The U", and "June 17th 1994".)
Yet even with those taking up so much time, they still made room for the stupid Tron/Logan's Run intro for each person.

But people only watch award shows to see who wins, right? Well, that's the biggest joke of them all. Best Male Athlete: Dirk Nowitzki, Aaron Rodgers, Raphael Nadal, and Jimmie Johnson.

Jimmie Johnson? First off, athlete and race car driver should never be used in the same sentence, unless that sentence is "He wasn't coordinated enough to become an athlete, so he became a race car driver instead." Also, he is currently ranked 6th in NASCAR, and I'm sure many people would argue how Formula One makes NASCAR look like a minor league team, or possibly Major League Soccer in comparison.
Raphael Nadal? He's been the best tennis player for the past several years, but his reign is about at an end. Even before the French Open, Novak Djokovic has been smacking him around all year.
It sounds like people were voting based on legacy and not their current state, but that is thrown out the window with Rodgers and Dirk. Sure their teams won championships, but I didn't think anyone would vote for them as MVPs at the end of their regular seasons. Dirk, the eventual winner, actually had one of his worst seasons statistically. But hey, he was in the news just a month ago. Everyone vote for him.

Without a doubt, the best athlete over the past 17 months (that's the ESPY voting period, allegedly) is Roy Halladay. A perfect game, a playoff no-hitter, and a 33-13 record the past season and a half, yet he wasn't even nominated?

As for best female athlete, there were no soccer players. Do people even watch sports anymore?

I've been to Albert Pujol's restaurant in St. Louis (great Cuban sandwiches) and he of'course has all his awards and jerseys and what not all over. He has his ESPYs - and I'm not kidding - on the floor behind the hostess stand. So I'm glad athletes take these as seriously as I do.  

Some movie news did come out of this though. The Fighter was the best sports movie. My quick two cents on that: it had some amazing supporting acting - Bale and Leo both deserved their Oscars - and it was all brought down by Mark Wahlberg. And while I first thought the last fight was boring, I saw the footage of the real fight. They actually jazzed the movie up a bit.

The other news is Jonah Hill is looking pretty good anymore. He is easily the most underrated of all the comedians in his little circle (he made Funny People tolerable, with a little help from Eric Bana and of course Eminem & Ray Romano ) and he got a lot of unheralded heat just because he was fat and shaggy. But look at him now:

And what better way to show off your new thin body than by standing next to a giant.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Movies You Should See (But Probably Haven't): The King of Kong

Horrible Bosses is a surprise hit in most people's books. But not nearly as big of a surprise that it comes from documentary director Seth Gordon. He did have one prior studio film in Four Christmases, but that itself is a documentary on how Vince Vaughan somehow finds work.

Anyway, Gordon's first feature was the doc The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. It is about the video game Donkey Kong and the quest to reach the highest score. Sounds thrilling, right?

I can honestly say this is the best documentary ever. This doesn't expose any crazy government cover-up, or explains the amazing miracle of penguin life, or anything like that. It takes seemingly normal people attempting to do something that is, quite frankly, pretty boring, and it molds them into a truly remarkable masterpiece. These real-life characters are more interesting than anyone Christopher Guest could dream up, and there is more emotion over this stupid game than in even the best written Hollywood dramas.

So let's meet the competitors. On one side is child prodigy Billy Mitchell. He believes that if you aren't first, then you are last. The cocky, hot sauce entrepreneur was one of the very first video game champions, holding records to all the classic arcade games. Among his accolades was being the first person ever to achieve a perfect score in Pac-Man.

How do you get a perfect score in Pac-Man you ask? You eat every dot on the screen except for one and the four power-pellets. Then you eat the power-pellets one by one, eating all four ghosts every time in between. Then you eat the final dot, as well as all the fruit that popped up. Repeat that for all 255 levels until the game glitches out.
Namco declaring him the greatest gamer of the 20th century.

He was also the current Donkey Kong champ, the most complex of the classic arcade games. He is worshiped as a God by all his fellow gamers, some of who have dedicated their entire lives to recording video game high scores. He ate all that attention up, and lived the life of a God.

On the other side of the country is Steve Wiebe. He is your classic everyman who has always thought he deserved better. He gets laid off from work, again, and he can't get motivated, until he sees a TV special about the Donkey Kong record. He says "Hmm, I was good at that game back in the day", and without any fanfare at all, he breaks Billy's unbreakable record. This throws the competitive gaming world into madness, as they refuse to accept his score. And it leads to a one-on-one throw down between the Gaming God and the blue-collared family man.

Or does it? Billy almost seems scared to face him. I won't spoil it for you.

Not to sound cliched, but this is about more than just a game. But the supporting characters are far from cliched. There's Walter Day, the man behind all the video game records, whose entire wardrobe consist of referee uniforms.  Ladies man and professional "pick-up artist" Roy Shildt has hated Billy Mitchell and his spiteful banter since he was a child, and will do anything to get his revenge. Brian Kuh was busted for cheating, by Billy nonetheless, but took his "pwnage" with pride, and made a successful law career off of Billy's wisdom. And of course, there's Doris Self, a flight attendant trailblazer turned 80-year-old Q-Bert champ. You couldn't make these people up.

Everyone in this, as well as the entire scenario, is just so unreal, and that makes it even more believable somehow. This film is all around funny and captivating, due mainly to it being so...normal, in all our abnormal lives.

Word is they are making a non-documentary film version of this, again directed by Gordon. While I don't doubt his talent, he could never create something like this, no matter how funny Kevin Spacey was. So get out there and see the real version of King of Kong now. You don't need to be a gamer to enjoy it. As long as there was something meaningless in your past that meant everything to you, you will find yourself in this.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Box Office Round Up: The Calm Before Harry Potter

Pictured:  People not waiting in line for Zookeeper

Nothing too crazy at the box-office this weekend. Just the highest grossing movie of the year.

Transformers 3 was number one for the second week in a row. It made $47 million, which is about a 50% drop from last weekend. However, it is more than Transformers 2 made in its second weekend, which saw a much sharper drop-off. With this, T3 surpassed the Hangover 2 for the highest grossing film of the year domestically with $261,000,000. Worldwide, it is up to $645 million, good enough for 50th all-time. Not too bad for twelve days.

Number two was Horrible Bosses with $28 million. While that is a very good amount, it is a little bit off from the Bad Teacher opening weekend, despite Horrible Bosses over-(star)powering that 9-1. I got to watch this and man did I love it. Each actor simply nailed their roles, and the entire theater was ROFLing the entire way through. Very diverse audience too, for what it's worth.

There are a few thing I especially liked about how this was handled. All three leads got perfectly equal screen time.  This was the first comedy I have seen in awhile that had no straight-up gross-out humor. I mean, most comedies these days would gone into great detail with the toothbrush scene. And also, the movie never has a turn for the serious. It's a comedy all the way through. While that isn't necessarily a bad thing, too many flicks go overboard anymore. If this was a Judd Apatow film, it would have had a scene like this:

Charlie: Man, I can't wait to kill our bosses.
Jason: You know... I've been thinking
(Indy music starts to play)  
Jason: We hate our bosses, but they are just doing what they need to do to get a paycheck. They are just like us.
(...Where you go?)
Jason: We shouldn't be hating our bosses. We need to reach out to them. We need to love our bosses.

It just doesn't fit in every movie.

Number three was Paul Blart: Zookeeper with only $21 million on a $80 million (!!!) budget. With that kind of money, they must have actually taught real animals how to talk. The movie's failure was due in part to PETA protesting it, this not being released in the middle of a drought like Mall Cop, and the fact that the trailers don't even mention that Adam Sandler plays a monkey. But lets not point the blame. People didn't see this because it sucks.

Cars was 4th with $15m/$148m US LTD. Bad Teacher was 5th with $9m/$79m LTD. Some other crap was after that. Midnight in Paris was 12th with $38m life to date, becoming Woody Allen's highest grossing film ever (but keep in mind when stuff like Annie Hall was being released, the average movie ticket price was about 35 cents). And Green Lantern was number nine, earning $3 million or 1/100th of its budget. It sits at $143m worldwide, and it is only down to two showings at my big theater (neither of which are at night). Dark Knight Rising can't come out soon enough for Warner Bros.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Opening This Weekend: Horrible Bosses and Horrible Movies

Horrible Bosses -- This is the most excited I've been for a non-Marvel movie in a long while. Three friends what to kill their bosses, who are presumably horrible. Film critics are calling this 9 to 5 for men. In other news, film critics missed the point of 9 to 5.

 This is getting great reviews, and it has an amazing cast. Charlie Day is playing a guy that makes me crack up every time I see him. Jason Bateman is playing a successful upper-middle class white guy with minor family problems aka every Jason Bateman character ever. Jason Sudeikis is playing a talented guy who should finally have his big break away from SNL. Kevin Spacey is playing a bad guy, the role he is best at (until he plays NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. But I guess he'll still be a bad guy). Jamie Foxx plays a brooding black guy. Donald Sutherland, Colin Farrell, Ron "The Best of the Blue Collar Comedy guys" White, and Bob Newhart all play... somebody. And of course there's Jennifer Aniston in what is shaping up to be the role of her career. To top it all off, this is being directed by Seth Gordon, who did the best documentary ever, The King of Kong. Two-time Donkey Kong world champ Steve Wiebe even has a role in this. If there are still any doubts, look no further than how long I've rambled on about this.

Zoo Keeper -- I really do like Kevin James, but this movie looks horrible. This was green-lit after Mall Cop became a runaway success. While I like Mall Cop more than most people would say, it was only a hit because it was released during one of the biggest movie droughts ever. Going up against Transformers? It doesn't stand a chance. At least they didn't blow Kevin James being fat out of proportion this time. He really isn't that big, and wore a fat suit for parts of Mall Cop.

The Ward -- The first film from horror master John Carpenter in ten years. The verdict...maybe he should have stuck to loaning out his old movies for remakes.

Ironclad -- Medieval film with an odd cast and a poorly thought out budget (they spent so much on the castle exterior, they couldn't afford to have anything inside). It wouldn't look too bad if it came out a a few years before Lord of the Rings. But now, compared with Game of Thrones, it looks like something SyFy would avoid.

The Chameleon -- A FBI agent searches for a missing kid after yadda yadda yadda. This looks so similar to The Changeling, they decided to practically give it the same name.

The Ledge -- A cop talks a jumper off a ledge. Apparently, it is Saw minus the gore. It is also apparently Saw minus the good, and Saw wasn't exactly swimming in surpluses of that to begin with.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Greatest Movie Poster Ever

Well, I got some faulty wires hidden somewhere in the walls of my house. I got a temporary connection, but my service comes and goes as it pleases. I have to live with it for now. I mean, I can't keep going back to my old college. They might catch on to me. So this is a quick post while I'm still connected.

Here is one of the posters which will be used for the Captain America movie, and I have to say this is the greatest poster ever. It's a nice send-back to the 40s when this story takes place. Beautiful artwork with all the stars showing up, and it even has the Howling Commandos. It is also a nice look at the new outfit, which is much more practical and much less comic-y. That may also be the greatest Hitler ever.

And if the poster looks familiar, look no further than Captain America Issue Number 1.

This has been my number one most anticipated movie of the summer, and now I want to see it even more. Now, to find a good online poster dealer...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

AT&T Strikes Back

Yep, my internet is dead again. Also, possibly not coincidentally, my sewer died on me too the same day. Whenever I take a shower, the toilet backs up. So I'm posting this pointless blog post from my college library, a college I haven't been enrolled in since 2007. And as much as I love you guys, I mainly took the trip to check out the Steam sales for today. Everyone should buy Jamestown. $5 today only.

To the people saying there is nothing good last weekend besides Transformers: only a month ago most analysts were predicting Cars 2 and Green Lantern to still be going strong into the 4th of July. They are both major bombs. And Larry Crowne could have easily made bigger waves than it did. It is the Summer of Flops. Except Transformers.

Braumaman - Besides the Island, there is Pearl Harbor. It made decent money, but it may be one of the worst films ever. Also, he produces all of those horror remakes (Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Amityville Horror etc.). Save for possibly Texas Chainsaw Massacre, all of those remakes were awful and unprofitable.  

And Erin, I haven't seen anything but bad stuff about Something Borrowed.


Some movie news which may be fake, but supposedly Adam West has a cameo in the new Batman movie. I'll still label this a rumor, because it was CONFIRMED at one point that Eddie Murphy was cast as the Riddler. I don't trust anything out of that camp.

I didn't do a DVD day yesterday because not much was out. But there was one shining film, Takashi Miike's 13 Assassins. Go buy that.

Finally, I watched Paul last night. It was really good. It wasn't Hot Fuzz/Shaun of the Dead good, or even Superbad good. The sub issues felt very forced compared to those. And Simon Pegg and Nick Frost may be the two most serious characters in the film. But it is very much watchable. I still can't believe how many different stars they fit into it.

AT&T guy comes tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Box Office Round Up: Make That Box Office Clean Up

Hello everyone. I hope you all had great Fourth of July weekends. However, I'm sure none of us had as good of a weekend as Paramount and Hasbro did.

Despite seemingly everyone in the world hating Transformers 2: Electric Boogaloo, The Dark of the Moon made bank and then some at the box-office.

Transformers 3 made $65 million just on Wednesday and Thursday, $97 million more on the weekend, and an extra $19m on Independence Day, for a grand total of $181 million. And that is just America. The rest of the world -- most of which was not celebrating a holiday -- added in another $237 million, bringing the worldwide total to $418 million! Did I mention the movie has been out for six days?

This is the biggest 4th of July opening ever, beating Transformers 1, Spider-Man 2, War of the Worlds, Twlight, and a ton of Will Smith movies. This is also the biggest opening of the year by far. Amazingly, this is down slightly from Transformers 3, which made $200m domestically by the end of its first June weekend. It dropped like a rock after that, but not before it made $402m US/ $836m WW. Since this is actually getting some positive reviews -- and it's in 3D! -- this has a good chance of catching its predecessor. T2 sits at 25th all time worldwide and 11th in the USA.

T3 was also made with a slightly smaller budget as well ($195m), and that is partially because Michael Bay reused footage from his stinker The Island in this.

Number two was Cars 2. Despite being on more screens than Transformers, it had a pathetic showing. $32 million over four days for a 60% drop from its opening weekend. It sits at $123m in the US, $202 Worldwide (not yet earning back its budget), and at 35% at Rotten Tomatoes. The mighty have fallen.

Bad Teacher was number three with $17m. It has now tripled its budget.

Larry Crowne opened fourth with $15m. Seeing as that stars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, it's not even close to the casting budget yet.

Super 8 is hanging on $9m. Monte Carlo opened sixth with $8m. And Green Lantern is number seven in its third week, bringing in seven and change for the big weekend. It is now at $137 million WORLDWIDE!  My condolences to anyone who owns Warner Bros stock.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Ten Worst Movie Titles Ever

They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I've never heard wrong with judging it by the title. A stupid title will turn off so many people, and sink your film before it ever sets sail.

For example, here I have The Midnight Meat Train, which is a great, serious horror movie directed by Ryuhei Kitamure (Versus, Metal Gear Solid cutscenes), based on the amazing short story by Clive Barker (Hellraiser), and starring a pre-Hangover Bradley Cooper and a psycho Vinnie Jones. You should all go see it, however, you could not have seen it in theaters because they could not release a movie called The Midnight Meat Train to a wide audience.

While that was a good movie, here's ten (mostly) not-so-great films with even stupider titles. I can't believe studios would ever ok some of these dumb names. I'm not including any intentional dumb titles (ie The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies), nor am I including any indy or guerilla or just plain horrible films (Manos: Hands of Fate). All of these were green-lit by a major studio without anyone thinking the title was idiotic.