Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Will A Resurrected TMNT Bring In The Green?

I have returned! I know I promised I'd be back on track in my last post (2 flippin' weeks ago!!!), but I lied. But now I've finished the last of my exams and am here now to jumpstart this old warhorse back into fighting shape. Speaking of restarting something archaic... This April, children of all ages (Actually males aged roughly 22-28) may be stampeding into the local movie house! Why? 'Cuz the Turtles are back, that's why! Yes, as the 80s continues to be recycled to fit into modern mainstream pop-culture, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back in the spotlight with a brand-new CG flick titled, appropriately enough, TMNT.

Now, it must be said that I was a HUGE Ninja Turtles fan as a kid. I watched every episode of the original cartoon series dozens upon dozens of times.I had the majority of the action figures (Why couldn't they ever make a decent looking Shredder?). I bought almost every issue of the Archie brand comic book (Including the epic issue The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Meet Archie). The TMNT video games exposed me to frightening amounts of TV radiation. The milestone, however, was my first viewing of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie which was nothing less than a powerful religious experience... And that effect was never diluted over the next 100 times I watched it. I was also enthralled by its sequel Secret Of The Ooze, although I wasn't as pleased by the toned down violence...

By 1993, however, Turtle mania was dying for me, as well as the general public. I was one of the few that made the trip to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, and although I was mildly charmed, its cheap production values and hokey humor officially marked my departure point from the franchise.
When the property sprung back up in the 90s, with the atrocious live-action series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, it was further proof that the green machine was dead... But then a small rumble started...
In 2003, another animated series sprung up. It was closer to the tone of the original Eastman & Laird comic books (from which the franchise sprung), and gained a steady fan base. I only saw a couple episodes, but appreciated the fact that TV was keeping the beloved foursome alive. Now, I'm pleased to say, that they are not only quite alive, but looking to worm their way back into our collective hearts. The newest trailer has gone up, and it looks pretty radical.

Now, I'm pretty rusty on my TMNT knowledge. From what I have been able to absorb from other sites, this film picks up after the second live action film (Hopefully no Keno the pizza boy references though!). It seems the Turtles have grown apart, and must reunite to battle another evil threat. Nope, not Shredder. Apparently, his time in the franchise ended with the pathetic Super Shredder death in Turtles II. Rather, this time the main foe is an evil industrialist named Max Winters who is plotting to take over the world with an army of ancient monsters. That ain't all though! They fearsome foursome will also have to take on a reformed Foot clan, which is under the power of a female ninja named Karai. Apparently Karai is a pretty big character in the newer animated series, but remains unknown to me... At any rate, the Turtles are assisted once again by reporter friend April O'Neil (Sans yellow jumpsuit) and masked vigilante Casey Jones (Their blossoming romance will also carry into this film).

Whew. Well, you can color me interested. While I was hesitant about the film being in CG, the trailer has changed my mind. I really like the appearance of the protagonists as they look closer to the original comics. CG is also ideal due to the fact that it removes the encumbering weight of the suits used in live-action. They can move quickly and fluidly, and truly display their martial arts skills in the way that they should be presented.

I'm also really pleased that Casey Jones is back. Elias Koteas' (pictured) portrayal of the character in the original film was a major highlight. I was always bitter that his character wasn't in the second film... Stupid Keno... And it was a REAL kick-in-the-face when they brought him back in the third film and only used him as dopey comic relief... Damn, it still angers me... At any rate, I'm giddy as a schoolgirl that he's back, and hopefully kickin' ass.

Now, I'm not overly pleased with the whole monster aspect of the film. I would have preferred something a little less fantastical (...In a movie about four giant turtles...), however the presence of the Foot clan eases this minor negative. Hopefully, the whole monster thing isn't played too much for laughs. We don't need another Tokkah and Rahzar situation, thank you very much.

Regardless, you can count me as one ticket sold. There's few things are entertaining as seeing a childhood favorite brought to the screen... Unless the movie sucks, in which case it's abnormally painful... I have a feeling TMNT may be a keeper though, and will hopefully lead to a bright future of further installments. Maybe then I'll get to see Krang or Slash (pictured) show up... That would be tubular... ___________________________________________________________________
Okay, you people know that I can't get enough of Bruce Campbell. I said it just a few entries back! His performances in the Evil Dead trilogy, Bubba Ho-tep, and Xena: Warrior Princess are classics, as are his cameos in the Spiderman films. He also has written some hilarious books: his autobiography If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor, and the riotous fiction novel Make Love The Bruce Campbell Way.

Well, he's back, and ready to reclaim his throne as cult-movie king (Though did he every lose the title?). This time he's directing and starring in a quirky production called My Name Is Bruce, and it has hit written all over it... Well, cult hit that is...

The film centers on Bruce being mistaken for his heroic Ash character from the Evil Dead films, and being recruited to fight a monster in Oregon. The rest is hijinx with a side-order of wackiness.

I know I'll be there... Providing it doesn't go straight to DVD that is, in which case I'll rent it... And I urge you all to go out and familiarize yourselves with Campbell's oeuvre. For a full listing of Campbell's finest, check out his website In time you too will hail to the!

H'okay! This entry is done. I promise it won't be 2 more weeks before I post again. The plan is to get back to my three or four times a week schedule.

Anyways, now that I'm in Ninja Turtle mode, I'm gonna go rock out to their Coming Out Of Their Shells album! Walk Straight is badass!

P.S.: Continue sending questions to I haven't forgotten about it, and I plan on answering one in my next entry! So write monkeys! Write!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Peter Jackson: Still On THE HOBBIT's Shortlist???

Well, hello my loyal readers! How I've missed your unwavering adoration! I'm back! I've crawled through another semester's worth of term papers and am now writing about a story that I thought I'd missed the boat on. The story? Whether Peter Jackson is still directing The Hobbit and the thus far untitled Lord of the Rings prequel.
Now, in case you've been living in a cave (or perhaps too immersed in the Britney/Kevin fiasco to pay attention), there has been a recent ongoing battle that has threatened to shake the foundations of filmdom!

A while back it was announced that MGM would be putting two(Count 'em, two) Hobbit films into production. One would focus on the beloved novel, while the other would be based on notes, appendices and all that geeky stuff, and cover the transition between The Hobbit and the first LOTR film. They would also be partnering with New Line (The studio who churned out the previous flicks) to co-finance them. Fans cheered in the streets, threw confetti and awkwardly high-fived each other. A return to Middle Earth was imminent! There was just one problem...

Nobody at the studios bothered to ask Peter Jackson (pictured), mastermind of the LOTR trilogy, if he'd like to be involved. Jackson even began to post online that he would be interested in revisiting that world. However, since no one had contacted him, he would probably be too booked up with the upcoming film adaptation of Lovely Bones to be ready for the intended 2008 start date. The fans' glee turned to outrage! They formed angry mobs and rallied in front of fantasy book stores! They mailed severed elf ears to MGM! It was ugly.

So, finally the studio decided to talk to Peter Jackson. However, Peter Jackson soon announced that he wasn't wanted due to his ongoing legal battle with New Line over profits from The Fellowship of the Ring. New Line announced they respected Jackson's talents, but were going with another director. This news left most fans in progressive states of hysteria. Some angrily vowed to make sure that the "bastard" film failed. Others merely curled up with their extended LOTR box sets and sobbed. Darkness began to envelop the land.

There was a rumor earlier this week that Sam Raimi (Spider-man 1 & 2, Evil Dead - pictured) was in the running to direct the films. This was met with reactions ranging from outright rage to miserable acceptance. Frankly, I thought the rumor was complete nonsense, and 100% untrue. I may have been correct...

It was posted at that MGM's position is that they "support Peter Jackson as a filmmaker, and believe that when the dust settles, he’ll be making the movie. We can’t imagine any other result". Yeesh.

This whole ordeal is turning into an emotional rollercoaster for the loyal fans. They keep giving them hope then sadistically snatching it away. Myself, I'm not a huge fan. I really enjoyed the LOTR trilogy, and agree Jackson's directing was brilliant, but am not hugely invested in this Hobbit thing.

However, while I'm not personally invested, I'm siding with the fans on this one. Making these films without Peter Jackson is a kick in the face to every one who loves the films. It's the same as making Star Wars films without George Lucas (Though some would say that's a good idea... Those people are morons.). Losing Jackson means compromising the vision of the series. If this whole thing is over a lawsuit for profits, that's pathetic. To punish god knows how many fans over a greedy inside battle (I'm talking about New Line, not Jackson. He was screwed over.) is such a juvenile thing to do that it's sickening. New Line needs to remember where they were at pre-Fellowship.

At this point, we're left only with speculation. Rumors abound that Ian McKellan won't return unless Jackson does. As it stands, losing Jackson means not only losing Gandalf, but also WETA, the special effects crew who did such brilliant work in the other three. This is a recipe for disaster. The shame is how avoidable this whole debacle is.

I say give Jackson what he wants. Each entry in the LOTR franchise earned over a billion dollars for the studio, and I think it's fair to assume that further installments would probably do the same. The key to the LOTR trilogy was that, aside from being great spectacles, they were flat-out great movies. They were emotional, dramatic and exciting. It would be a shame to fast-track The Hobbit films with a lesser creative team just to get them out for a deadline.

It took something like 10 years to bring Lord of the Rings to theatres and it was worth the wait. I think the majority of the fans would be willing to wait a little longer for Hobbit films done right. Let's hope MGM & New Line are listening...
Now, to crush a dream of mine... Roughly a year ago, an extremely lucrative deal was struck that would bring a third installment to the strangely popular Rush Hour series. Director Brett Ratner signed on, and Chris Tucker received $20 million to Jackie Chan's $15 million (Don't get me started on that! What kind of world do we live in when a shrill, cringe-inducing, loudmouth gets more than the amazing Jackie Chan? BAH!). At any rate, it was revealed that the next film would take place in France, with detectives... uh... the two cops facing off against a powerful French mobster. Then, a glorious rumor emerged about who would play the heavy. That person was: JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME!

Now, I don't think I'm being unreasonable in saying that this was perhaps the greatest idea in the history of film. Jackie Chan taking on The Van-Dammage? I'm there!

But, alas, 'tis not true. The Muscles from Brussels confirmed the falsity of the story earlier this week. Apparently he started the rumor as a joke and it got picked up by eager journalists. He also claims he has no interest in being in it. Yeah, right J.C.!

At any rate, what little interest I had in this film just went down the toilet. It's unfortunate too, because this franchise is so mediocre that this casting decision would have really brought something to the table. Ah well, I wish you well, Van Damme. May you continue to have a pleasant ride (In your stealth boat, no doubt) into the sunset of straight-to-DVD schlock.

So, there you have it folks. Two stories of studios missing the boat... the stealth boat! I'm going to go drown my sorrows by watching Double Team for the umpteenth time.

"Offense gets the glory! But defense wins the game!" Indeed.

P.S. Sorry this thing was up late. It was a weather thing...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Greetings From The Trenches!

Hey guys, sorry for the inactivity of the blog (Excluding that nifty re-edit I did on my Casino Royale review! Read it again and see!). It's beginning to look like one of those blogs run by lazy people who only update once a month ( I'm currently buried in term papers, with one Archaeology paper in the can, and two more to go in Biological Anthropology and English Fiction. Bah! At any rate, I promise to do a full update with the necessary gibberish on Wednesday. And you can quote me on that... Actually, don't! Just in case... I have a very busy social life... STOP LAUGHING! At any rate, I'm holding to that day as the deadline for my next post, so be here, my fabulous followers, when I re-emerge to pick apart news items of little value. Oh, a time we will have indeed!

Anyways, hold tight my brave warriors!

In the meantime, have yourself a chuckle or two at that hysterically politically-incorrect comic strip from the 50's. Oh, Batman, you arrogant son-of-a-gun!!!

See y'all Wednesday!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Film Review: James Bond Returns In A ROYALE Without Cheese?!

Every Bond fan has their ideal image of what 007 should be. The majority of fans hold true to the standard set by Sean Connery in classics such as Goldfinger and From Russia with Love. Others are partial to Pierce Brosnan’s slick and playful approach in the most recent additions. There is even a small collective who are loyal to the grim humorlessness of Timothy Dalton. Personally, I fall into the group that swears by the wonderfully light touch of Roger Moore.

I strongly believe that the Bond each fan embraces is the one in which they are initially exposed to. I vividly recall my introduction to the beloved franchise, at around 8 years old, when my parents showed me Roger Moore’s final entry, A View to a Kill. Whereas some fans were imprinted with classic moments such as the gold-painted woman in Goldfinger, or the volcano layer of Ernst Stavro Blofeld in You Only Live Twice, my first introduction to Bond was witnessing him snowboard around a team of armed adversaries to the tune of the Beach Boys' California Girls. What can I say; I was a child of the eighties.

Now, while I consider Moore’s greatest entries like The Spy Who Loved Me or Live and Let Die to be my personal favorites, I have a great fondness for every film in the franchise. Even The Living Daylights.

So, with joyful anticipation, I took to my front row seat, opening night at the Park & Tilford Cineplex Odeon theatre, to witness James Bond's latest adventure, Casino Royale, unfold.

Casino Royale doesn’t just feature a new Bond, this time played by Liverpool actor Daniel Craig, but it is also a complete overhaul of the entire series. Gone are the days of diabolical millionaires attempting to start World War III, or create a new world order. Also, nowhere to be seen are the campy thrills or hokey humor which had become a staple of the franchise. Most importantly, this isn’t the Bond I recall meeting near twenty years ago! He’s arrogant, un-subtle, and vicious… Not to mention… Human?!

Royale tells the story of James Bond’s first case as an agent of M16. After a wonderful black-and-white introduction detailing Bond’s achievement of his double-O rank, we join him as he is investigating a series of seemingly related terrorist events. As usual, it’s not long before his surveillance attempts transform into all-out orgies of stylized violence. Soon, 007 is on the trail of a desperate and sadistic terrorist banker named Le Chiffre, played by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen.

It seems Le Chiffre has been playing the stock market with his terrorist clients’ money and is in serious financial trouble. Aiming to regain his lost currency, he is planning on taking part in a high stakes game of poker at the titular Casino Royale. Bond, being the best player in the service, is sent to beat Le Chiffre and leave him bankrupt, allowing the British government to get their hands on him as a source of information.

Bond is accompanied on his mission by a treasury agent named Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), who is on hand to approve and bankroll his efforts. What happens during and after the game I’ll leave for you to discover, but will say that it is like nothing you’ve seen in the previous twenty films of the series.

Viewing Casino Royale is like entering the Bond universe anew. Whereas, the earler films all followed a fairly rigid pattern, Royale is a confident step in a different direction.

A good part of the reason for this is in the casting of Daniel Craig. Craig lacks the polished demeanor of Moore, as well as the slyness of Sean Connery. Instead, he’s rough-edged and overly confident, a smart brawler who hasn’t yet realized the strength of playing it cool. We see him bleed and suffer on his way to becoming the man he will one day be. Namely, the sophisticated agent we first met in 1962’s Dr. No.

At first it’s strange seeing Bond behave this way, but due to Craig’s electric performance, it quickly becomes hypnotic. It’s quite apparent the he is likely the most versatile actor ever to throw on the famous tuxedo. Whether engaged in furious action scenes, or tackling the film’s quieter romantic moments, Craig never falters. His performance is almost fearless in his dedication to the role, and he inhabits it within seconds of his trial run. It’s important to remember that this is the first time that Bond has had a real character arc, and it’s thrilling to watch Bond played outside of the usual comfort zone. In one film alone, Craig ascends to the upper echelon of Bond actors.

Another first is in the treatment of the villain Le Chiffre. Le Chiffre is not a particularly powerful man, nor does the character’s potential success have any dire implications on the fate of the world. Rather, he’s in well over his head, and his escalating desperation makes him increasingly dangerous. Mads Mikkelsen (pictured), a big star back in his native Denmark, is brilliant at suggesting the character’s frustration and fear. Whether facing off against Bond across the card table, or brutally torturing him, the confrontation between Mikkelsen and Craig is explosive. Chemistry with the hero is everything in the success of a great villain, and Mikkelsen gives us one of Bond’s greatest adversaries

Speaking of having chemistry, Eva Green’s character doesn’t quite match the mold of any Bond girl who has come before her. She’s intelligent, beautiful and independent, and is Bond’s true equal. The verbal sparring between Craig and Green is a joy to behold, and bring a real underlying romance to the film. Her character is the key factor in causing Bond to become the man we all know, and Green (pictured) is the right actress make it believable. She’s able to communicate some of the film's most powerful moments wordlessly, and sets a new standard for all future Bond girls. By not being written as the proto-typical bombshell, she becomes a fascinating character in her own right.

The supporting cast is equally strong. Judi Dench, the only holdover from the previous films, is characteristically brilliant. Her portrayal of M is different this time, however. She’s irritated by Bond's ego and recklessness, but still senses serious potential in the inexperienced assassin. Dench’s scenes here are her best of the series.

Jeffrey Wright’s scenes as Bond regular CIA agent Felix Leiter are also very strong. His first meeting with Bond is perfect at setting up the relationship we know will follow. While his screen time is brief, it leaves us eager for his likely reappearance in Bond 22.

Also a great asset is Giancarlo Giannini as Bond’s contact Mathis. His world-weary spy is a vividly drawn character, and not simple window dressing. It’s great to see even the minor supporting characters so perfectly realized.

Director Martin Campbell has somehow managed to replicate the success he had with Brosnan’s inaugural 007 film, GoldenEye. He steers the film from a perfect opening to a crowd pleasing close, really underscoring the mythic elements of the character. It’s a true testament to his skill that the film’s poker showdowns are as absorbing as the action scenes, including the stunning chase scene between Bond and “freerunning” superstar Sebastien Foucan. Campbell has recreated an entire world here and I hope he sticks around for future installments.

Leaving the theatre, I was energized by what I had just seen. True, this isn’t the Bond who once deactivated a nuclear bomb in a clown suit, but with Craig we have a 007 who seems new and exciting. It’s rare that a long-running franchise is able to completely reinvent itself and remain true to its origins. With Casino Royale, however, we have a Bond that has us thrilled for the next twenty one films.

Nobody does it better, indeed.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Hey folks! Sorry about the lack of updates! I've been swamped with school work... Okay, actually I've been in a hypnotic state, immersed in the just released James Bond Ultimate Edition DVD sets. But, I knew I had to get away from them. As fascinating as interviews with Maryam D'Abo about her character's motivation in The Living Daylights are, I felt the desire to write! But about what? I could only think Bond. I just didn't think y'all would appreciate my endless crowing about Roger Moore being my favorite Bond! But then, something appeared on the horizon... Something... Yellow!

I received attention that Sunday night would bring with it the world premier of the new Simpsons Movie trailer. It would air immediately after an all-new episode at 8pm. So what did I do? Skipped the whole damn thing and watched the trailer online the next day ( Cold, huh! But why the hostility? What led me to turn my back on a show that I once declared as the greatest show in history (Perhaps a tad over-enthusiastic...)? Well, old beans, lemme tell you.

It was a dark evening filled with foreboding. It was Sunday, January 5th, 1997 at around 8pm as I distinctly recall (Actually, I just looked it up! Google RULES!). My friend Mark and I were convened at his house to follow our near 8-year long ritual of watching The Simpsons when all hell broke loose. The episode was titled El Viaje Misterioso De Nuestro Jomer (Google again...). It started pleasantly enough. We chuckled with great abandon at Homer's antics at a Springfield chili cook-off. Would that Homer ever learn? But then, things got weird. The episode turned into an orgy of bizarre images and a shape-shifting coyote with the voice of Johnny Cash appeared. It was frightening. After the grim conclusion of the episode something had changed. We had changed. Colors seemed dimmer, tastes seemed duller. I know now that a part of our childhood had slipped away. It was my first realization that all is not wonderful and pure in our world. If the Simpsons could fail me, anything could! Mark and I occasionally discuss this episode, in hushed tones, detailing everything horrendous about it and how it affected us.

Now, good, even great, episodes followed that ill-fated episode. Sadly, however, there was an inconsistency that hadn't been there before. I watched for a few more years before the show became mired in creative bankruptcy, relying on goofy jokes, stunt-casting and overly-cartoonish situations. The rough "reality" of the series slowly began to dissipate, allowing the show to flirt with the fantastical. It was pathetic. I stopped tuning in regularly, eventually only for a couple episodes per season. I officially gave up on the show after the season premiere last year, where, to dry to her wet hair, Marge stuck her finger in the cigarette lighter of a car to electrocute herself. It was a cheap, Looney Tunes-style gag that left me angry. It was the death of the Simpsons for me... And then they announced The Simpsons Movie!

We got our first glimpse last summer with that mildly amusing teaser featuring Homer in the Superman shirt. It was cute, I suppose, but hardly had me eager to jump back on the wagon. There was also the rough animatic teaser on the X-Men: The Last Stand DVD. Once again, cute, but hardly worthy of the name The Simpsons. Now, we have this new "trailer" that is really only a 3rd teaser.

While I like the whole cheesy CG bunny and dancing flowers bit, that won't be featured in the movie. What will be viewed is the scene of Homer being smashed between a rock and "A Hard Place" (What an inventive joke! Ha...HA...*Cough*...Ah, the hell with it!). That gag is everything that's wrong with the Simpsons now. Now, Homer has always been able to withstand great injury, but there were limits! He could never be smashed, full force, repeatedly, into a boulder with a wrecking ball... And then have said wrecking ball fall on top of him.

I had a glimmer of hope when I saw that they had brought back the series best writers from the earlier seasons to work on the script. The listing is a who's who of great comedy writers: Al Jean, Matt Groening, David Mirkin, James L. Brooks, George Meyer, Mike Reiss, Mike Scully, Jon Vitti and John Swartzwelder, along with Matt Selman and Ian Maxtone-Graham. These are all talented guys, but I'm skeptical how much inspiration is left. The plot apparently involves Homer getting fired from the power plant for poisoning the water supply. While not particularly inventive, great things could be done!

But will they? I'm not holding my breath. I'll go see The Simpsons Movie when it opens in July, but I'll be going in with low expectations. I hope, I really do, that Groening and Co. manages to pull a rabbit out of their collective hat and renew my faith in the once beloved show. I would love to see the franchise taken back to its earlier brilliance. Only time will tell, and I can only base my thoughts on the three teasers which have left me neither shaken nor stirred (Had to end on a Bond line, sorry!)
There's few actors I like more than Michael Madsen! Okay, Bruce Campbell maybe, but regardless, Madsen is one of the coolest actors out there. Whether slicing ears off as Mr. Blonde or being a good dad to an orphan in Free Willy, he's always highly watchable. Hence, why I'm choosing to ignore some other news stories to focus on this bit of fluff!

Years back, rumors were circulating that Tarantino was putting together a Pulp Fiction/Reservoir Dogs prequel called The Vega Brothers. The plot was designed to explore the backgrounds of Vic Vega (Madsen - Reservoir Dogs) & Vincent Vega (Travolta - Pulp Fiction) and how they ended up where they did (Dead, I assume). There's a story today at one of my most often referenced sites Rotten Tomatoes ( regarding the possibility that this film may one day happen.

How, you ask? Well, there is an "ingenious" way to get around the two actors advancing ages! I'll let you read it in the article. I'm not sold that it's "ingenious", though. But then, in Tarantino's hands, who knows. Either way, I just want to see Madsen back on the big screen. While I won't hold my breath for The Vega Brothers, I am desperate for Tarantino to get his WWII movie Inglorious Bastards going! Apparently Madsen would have played a big role, so I'd get my Madsen fix along with my WWII movie fix! Heaven, I tells ya! I just hope Flags Of Our Fathers' failure at the box-office doesn't put the kibosh on future war movies... Cuz this is one I've been waiting for for a loooooooong time. In the mean time, we'll have Madsen's return in Sin City 2 to look forward to, as well as Tarantino's half of Grind House in April.

Well that's all folks! I never thought I'd make a reference to Free Willy on this blog... Especially a highly complimentary one. Though it actually is a really good movie.

The posting frequency may be a bit slow in the next bit as my school work is about to collapse on top of me. I do promise to have a review of Casino Royale up lickety-split! And you can be sure that if any more Venom stuff comes out... BAM! So, I'm back to my Bond DVD's. Take care peeps!

P.S.: Keep sending questions to!

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Hey guys! This is a really brief update that you can tack on to my previous post regarding the Spider-Man 3 trailer... Well, some stuff leaked out tonight... Some Venom stuff. And I know that there are a few of you (Gabe, Janine & Spencer) desperate to see the slimy bugger in the the flesh so this one's for you!

Now, this looks a little funky, but I promise you it's the real deal. It's taken from the footage shown to San Diego Comicon audience. It's a real shot from the movie, though I'm sure they'll do some additional CG on it. It is, however, pretty much what you'll be seeing on the screen. Enjoy. I don't know how long I'll be able to keep this photo up...

I'll do a full update on something other that Spidey 3 in the next couple days. I just felt this was worth a quick entry!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

SPIDEY Watch: Unwebbing The New Trailer.

Holy doodle! I never expected to have to do so many Spider-Man 3 posts over such a short amount of time! That said, today was something I really couldn't ignore. At 10pm EST tonight, the new trailer for the third chapter in the amazing/ spectacular/ sensational film series hit the web and American television in a blitzkrieg of promotion. You were going to see this trailer NO MATTER WHAT, DAMMIT! And if you didn't, well, I'm gonna post a link to it and praise it (with a few exceptions) here tonight. I've now watched it a half dozen times and made a few mental notes. Basically just enough material to waste precious moments of your time with. Yee-haw!

After that, I'm going to do a new thing and answer an email question (I wasn't aware I was accepting submissions!) that I received. I'm actually really excited about this and would like this to become an ongoing part of the blog. I'll post an email address at the bottom. But first:

Wow, that was a really cool trailer! It wasn't as spectacular as the Spider-Man 2 trailer, or as powerful as the Spider-Man 3 teaser, but still, it was damn cool!

For those of you who somehow avoided it (Sony will probably show up at your door and forcibly make you view it!), here's a link to it:

Now, much speculation surrounded the release of this thing. Venom-fever was hitting a disturbingly high rate and people were frothing at the mouths for his appearance in this thing. Well, let the speculation continue because he doesn't show up here. Heck, his alter ego Eddie Brock (Topher Grace - pictured here from the teaser trailer) only shows up in three super-fast snippets. So, while I'm disappointed, I'm now even more excited for the 2nd trailer that will be airing before Ghost Rider starting on Feb. 9th.

Come on people, there's still 5 months till this thing gets released; you really expected them to give EVERYTHING away! I say good on them! Let the suspense build! I'm tired of everything being given away in trailers far ahead of the films release. I can wait to see Venom in action (Though I'll still continue with my obsessive theorizing and posting production photos).

So, now that I've wasted time blithering on about what isn't in the trailer, what is? Well, a whole lotta Sandman! Everyone's gotten so wrapped up in Venom talk that they've forgotten the seriously cool main villain of the film. This clip is the first time we've really seen Sandman in action and it looks awesome. I was concerned it'd be like The Mummy/Mummy Returns type stuff, but now my concerns are laid to rest. Sandman looks like a brutal competitor and the fights between the two look intense. Thomas Haden Church had the potential to be as memorable as Alfred Molina's Doc Ock. I am a bit annoyed by the plot twist revealed though (Spoiler warning!)

We learn in the trailer that it was actually Sandman (aka Flint Marko) who was the REAL culprit behind Peter Parker's Uncle Ben's death. Now, this is nothing short of sacrilege in the comics' community (Go search up a topic on it at a comic book web board. It's ugly!), but I'm going to sidestep that argument. I don't like it because it feels too convoluted. Like, oh, by the way, another super-powered villain is personally connected to Spidey! I mean, can't at least one of these films feature a villain who has no role in Peter Parker's life? Apparently not. This is an addition that just doesn't work for me... It seems like they're trying too hard to give a less fleshed out character a reason for existing. I still am optimistic, however, that the film will deal with the change in a proper manner. Sam Raimi thus far has a flawless track-record and I don't want to doubt him too much.

So, what else do we have going on? Well, we get a little more footage of the alien symbiote suit, and its hold over Peter. I'm positive the next trailer will go more in depth with this, but what we get here is very nifty. I love the voice-overs by Aunt May and Peter that hint at Spider-Man's temptation towards the dark side. I like that they're showing us the suit's effect on Peter, and the power he feels wearing it. In the voice-over when he mentions the power he feels and how he likes it, it's like a druggie talking about a narcotic high. It's the right tone for the situation and should dovetail wonderfully into the Venom stuff. The shot of Peter tearing the suit off is a powerful image that proves that this film will undoubtedly be the darkest of the series. It may scare the wee-ones...

We also get a little more of Harry Osborn and his anger at Peter for his father, Norman Osborn aka Green Goblin's death. There's not a lot new here, but I'm curious to see how James Franco handles the chore. His character is one of the most tragic in the comic-book series and I hope it translates to the film well. I'll happily forgive the Snowboard Boy suit if the emotion rings true.

On the happier side, the trailer hints that there may be an engagement for Peter and Mary Jane this time around. Since the two characters have been married for almost 20 years in the comics, this is hardly an unexpected event.
From what we see here, Kirsten Dunst seems to have really stepped it up and is showing Mary Jane's mature side. Many felt she was sub-par in Spider-Man 2, but the trailer really gives her character more gravity and authority. Hopefully, she'll be closer to the strong, independent character from the comics. It'll be interesting to see how the love triangle between her, Peter, and Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard - only glimpsed once in the trailer) is presented. I hope it's not too soapy.

So, Sam Raimi, pat yourself on the back! This trailer left me satisfied and yet still wanting more. My mind is reeling at the possibilities and I can't wait to see what's going to happen. If this is the final Spidey (well, from this creative team), it looks like you may just go out on top (like how the producers of The X-Men series wish they did!). This True Believer is giddy with anticipation for May 4th. Good show, old bean!
Okay, and now for something completely different! A letter!

Kim writes: The Big Lebowski [is] a movie that [my husband] thought was really funny, [yet] I couldn't sit through. Any thoughts on that one?"

Hmmm.... This isn't the first time I've heard divided opinions on this one. My friend Gabe swears by the movie. He's seen it umpteen times, and can accurately quote the majority of it. My friend, Mark, on the other hand, thought it was boring. Heck, the critics couldn't even make up their mind on this one. Now, me? Well I love it. But I'll explain myself.

The Big Lebowski is a masterpiece of randomness. The whole movie essentially plays out to the same pace as the lead character's mental state. The plot is all over the place, bizarre characters pop in and out, and there is no real closure at the end of the film. Heck, even the narrator seems to be narrating a whole other movie.

Now, the film's creative team, the Coen Brothers, are definitely an acquired taste... I personally thought Fargo (1995) was brilliant, and quite enjoyed O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000). Now, with that said, I thought Intolerable Cruelty (2003) was quirky to the point of being tiresome, and 1987's Raising Arizona was almost unwatchable. There isn't really a middle ground with these guys and I'd say your husband and you just happened to fall on opposite sides. There is still hope though.

I'd say give Lebowski another chance. Settle down and don't anxiously try to follow it scene for scene. Rather, sit back and just witness the film unfold. It's a film that rewards a relaxed state of mind. Don't try to connect-the-dots or anticipate the mystery plot, as it's simply a clothes-line for the characters to hang from. Enjoy the film for its moments, rather than as a whole picture. It's a comedy of the absurd. The jokes are sly and weird, and aimed at a certain sensibility.

I often fondly think of the bizarre Busby Berkeley-style dance numbers, John Goodman's intense performance, and that great scene where the narrator meets The Dude and the two have an aimless conversation that goes nowhere. Because that's what the film is meant to be, aimless. Plus, take greater notice of Jeff Bridges. His performance is brilliant, as he completely disappears into the character. It's a great comic performance.

Besides, I dare you not to laugh at the final scene where The Dude and Walter toss Donny's ashes out to sea.

I don't know if this is any help. Not all people like the same films. I personally thought Scarface was garbage! I also strongly disliked Jerry Maguire! So, don't feel you're missing out if this one just isn't your style. There will be undoubtedly a film in the future that you will love and he will find pointless. It's the nature of the beast!

Take Care!

Okay folks that does it for me!
If you have questions, feel free to email me at! I may even give you some space on the blog like today's letter! A great honor, if I can say so myself!

Later y'all!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Film Review: BORAT! Lives Up To The (Excessive) Hype!

I don't know about the majority of you, but I don't find most comedy films to be particularly funny. In fact, I sit through the majority of them in silence with perhaps an occasional smirk at best. I think the main problem is that mainstream comedy is bland. Films like Nacho Libre, Guess Who or Anchorman are, frankly, (often very) mildly amusing at best. That's why I gravitate to more quirky fare like Kevin Smith's films (Clerks 2 was the last great comedy I saw), and shows like Arrested Development and Curb Your Enthusiasm. It's a sad testament that I laugh more hysterically watching Shark Attack III: Megalodon, than the last 10 big studio comedies combined. So, it was with great surprise that I responded so strongly to Borat!, a film that has been thrown in my face by every mainstream entertainment media group possible for the last few months.

To be honest, I wasn't prepared to be as entertained as I was. I had been well aware Borat!: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan's (This is the only time I'm using its full title!) arrival for a long time, but I really was not interested. This is tied to the fact that my only exposure to Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, himself) was through his appearances as Ali G in Madonna's Music music video and hosting the European Music Awards one year. To say I found these bits unfunny would be a massive understatement. I thought he was stupid and painfully unfunny. Cringe-inducing, even. So, believe you me, I was not someone eager to slap down $10 to see the man projected in front of me for 90mins.

But then a strange thing happened. I kept hearing how hilarious the movie was. How brilliant and unforgettable a film, to be seen at all costs. Despite my attempts at ignoring the hype, I became curious. Was this a movie I would personally enjoy? Would it ACTUALLY make me laugh? Could it potentially be better than Shark Attack III? Well, I had to find out dammit! As a film enthusiast I make it a point to see pretty much every film that makes any sort of noise (Hence why I see so many bad movies...) and Borat! was making a lot of noise. So, last night I went to the 9:40 show at my local theatre and was stunned!

Now for those not bombarded by the hype, Borat! follows Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen), a famous reporter from the country Kazakhstan. He's travelled to America, with his producer Azamat Bagatov (Ken Davitian), to make a documentary about American customs and behavior to show the people of Kazakhstan. The film follows his adventures as he interviews regular folks, hopelessly mangles North American conduct, and aims to marry Pamela Anderson. The majority of the film is "real". Cohen, as Borat, wanders around real situations with normal citizens, uncovering bizarre beliefs, truths and realities. So, in essence, we get a bizzaro version of Candid Camera featuring a fictional host, similar to, but darker than, the Jamie Kennedy Experiment TV show.

The majority of the entertainment comes from Borat himself. He is wonderfully unpolished. Whether spouting racist/sexist/ homophobic remarks, or gleefully making strange sexually profane announcements, he never becomes a hateful caricature. There is a strange innocence to him that allows him to transcend his politics. He becomes a figure of fun, making us his willing accomplices. When he interviews a women's liberation group and announces that women have brains the size of squirrels, we feel more sympathy towards him than the horrified women. The character has hateful beliefs, but he never comes across as vindictive. He's like a young child repeating naughty words he's just heard. It becomes infectious, waiting to see how people will react to him. It's interesting that a great deal of the people he interviews reveal their own prejudices in a far uglier way.

The majority of the credit for the films success has to go to Cohen. He's fearless at walking a tight-rope between the hilarious and the unforgivably detestable. When he finds himself at a bed and breakfast run by two kind elderly Jewish people, his skills as a satirist are razor-sharp. Convinced that they have transformed into two cockroaches, aiming to kill him, he throws money at them and flees panic-stricken from the house. By illustrating the irrationality of Borat's racism he highlights the ignorance behind all prejudices. Cohen, who is Jewish, is so successful at this that the film has perhaps more impact than a "serious" film on the subject. Its brilliant work, and I hope the Academy is paying attention.

I've also got to give credit to Ken Davitian (pictured with Cohen), as Borat's producer. Like Cohen, this man is fearless. During the film's climactic naked wrestling match between Borat and Azamat we are shocked how far these actors will go for a laugh. Davitian strips away any sense of dignity and gets real laughs, and fully inhabits the character. I was extremely surprised to see that Davitian has quite an extensive filmography ( He's so believable in the film; I almost bought his character as a real person.

I've also got to say that director Larry Charles is brilliant in the staging of the film. Those familiar with Charles previous work on Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm know that this guy has the goods when it comes to brilliant dark comedy. His participation in this film is invaluable, and I look forward to seeing more films from him.

I feel confident in recommending this film to all of you. It may shock you. You may find it very offensive. But it deserves to be seen as much as the typical "important" Oscar-bait films being released in the winter. It's an oddly powerful film that flouts conventions and is unique and a breath of fresh air. Do yourself a favor and go to the theatre. Seeing it with an audience will be far superior to sitting in your quiet TV room watching it on DVD. Either way, you won't forget Borat! any time soon. High five!

Rating: 4.5/5