Monday, November 28, 2011

Brad's Week In Dork! (11/20-11/26)

I watched a bunch of movies.  The end.  Seriously, I don't even know how I cranked in as many films as I did since it felt like I lived at my dayjob all week long.  It helps having an AMC megaplex next to my work, and I kept popping inside to escape the Black Friday pepper spray terror and sooth my frantic mind.


A Very Haorld & Kumar 3D Christmas:  Probably some of the most fun 3Dsploitation I've seen in a while (I'm getting tired of the oh-so-serious James Cameron approach to the gimmick--Bring Back JAWS 3D!!!), A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is a solid sequel to the buddy stoner franchise and proves that John Cho & Kal Penn still have that silly/stupid chemistry discovered in the original film. That being said, the laughs are chuckles at best and the film made for a better trailer than it did movie.  And as always, more NPH please.

Iron Man:  I love Tony Stark! Correction, I love Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark. We might not have known it at the time (how could we, who outside of the comic shop longboxes really gave a rat's tail about Iron Man before 2008?), but Tony Stark was the character we were all craving for Downey to sink his trainwrecked teeth into. The man captures Stark's ego, his super ego, and his SUPER SUPER EGO perfectly and you love him for it! He's just so bloody charming! But what of the rest of the film? It's not bad. It's pretty good. But it's a rather basic origin story. And Jeff Bridges, who I generally love and even think looks kinda badass here as well, his baddie is rather boring. And the mech on mech climax is just as boring. Still, Robert Downey Jr. is awesome and he's all you need to put butts in the seat.

The Incredible Hulk:  Call me crazy, but I love Ang Lee's Shakespearean take on HULK. And I think it's far superior to the Marvel Studios version. That being said, Ed Norton is a great Bill Bixby Banner. Even Tim Roth makes for a fine Abomination and I love their "Hulk Smash" final smackdown.  Even William Hurt is a decent General Ross. But I'm definitely not a fan of Liv Tyler's Betty and the film nearly drags to a halt at the halfway point. A solid leadup to next year's Avengers madness, but it's easily my least favorite entry in the new Marvel saga.

Iron Man II:  "I am Iron Man." With this climactic bit of narcissism from the last film, Tony Stark propels himself down a rabbit hole lined with booze, debauchery, and self-hate. But don't worry, nobody can make you love an a-hole like Robert Downey Jr. And there's lots of mythology building occurring (maybe too much). Sam Rockwell's anti-Stark, Justin Hammer nearly steals the show with his Snidely Whiplash grimaces, his frustrated hand wringing, and back-stabbing rage. His partner-in-war crime, Mickey Rourke is UGLY, tattered, and pumped with evil genius Super Hate. The Avengers Initiative franchise gets closer to reality with S.H.I.E.L.D's Clark Gregg and one eye badass Samuel L. Jackson sneaking around the fringes. Really, the only bits that don't quite work are Don Cheadle's War Machine who surprisingly seems to channel Terrance Howard's original crap acting. And ScarJo is dull, dull, dull as the Black Widow; she's given one thigh crushing action scene toward the end, but she feels completely pointless within the meandering narrative. Still, this is a solid Summer Blockbuster sequel. And I just LOVE Robert Downey Jr's ego-nightmare Stark.

Thor:  Just completed my third viewing of the film and I'm still amazed that Marvel was able to make a decent flick outta Marvel's whack-o comic book take on Norse mythology. Chris Hemsworth is amazing as Thor, and I don't think I'll ever be able to think of the character again without seeing his cocky, grinning mug. The film is more comedic than any of the other Marvel Studios flicks and I think that was necessary to sell the character; the fish-outta-water New Mexico stuff is a riot and even though I would have enjoyed more of Asgard I'm happy with what we got. And yeah, the Destroyer/Loki fight climax is a bit of a whimper, but the Destroyer is still pretty badass. So yeah, maybe Thor was never the Avenger movie I was craving for but it's good enough.

Captain America The First Avenger:  After blitzing through 12 hours of Marvel Studios movies in one day, I can honestly say that Captain America: The First Avenger is my favorite of the bunch. Yes, the climax of the film wraps up far too neatly and the writers/producers drive to get the character into next Summer's Avengers blockbuster is incredibly forced--BUT! The first two thirds of the film, the birth of the Captain from good-hearted, scrawny Steve Rodgers is as beautiful as Super Hero stories get. Chris Evans is brilliant in the role. You fall for him. You're proud of him. And a lot of credit has to go to Stanley Tucci as Dr. Erskine; he finds the hero in the kid and reveals him to the audience. Just great. Hugo's Red Skull is fun but he's barely there -- as are the Howling Commandos. And there is at least one montage too many. But this is just a whole lotta Popcorn entertainment.

Immortals:  The Gods of Olympus tower over man; Zeus, in awe of one particular human, touches the growth of bastard slave Theseus wearing the face of John Hurt. Mickey Rourke's gargantuan barbarian King Hyperion marches towards world devastation. A clash of good vs. evil photographed with MTV enthusiasm, and splashed with plenty of CGI blood. I'm still not sure what to make of director Tarsem Singh, his Cell was a boring mess of serial killer banality, but The Fall showed great stylistic whimsy. And Immortals is a savage, but enthusiastic actioner take on Greek myths that would have totally made ten year old Brad lose his mind for the classics.

Spy Kids 4:  It's been a while, but I remember Robert Rodriguez's first two Spy Kids films having a serious dose of childish, somewhat farty intelligence. But this latest outing in the decade old franchise is a true embarrassment. I was pretty much lost from the opening scene; watching a full blown pregnant Jessica Alba zip lining through an action sequence as her water breaks...I'm just thankful I didn't attend one of those aroma-scope theatrical experiences. And the film is just NOT FUNNY! From Ricky Gervais talking, butt-bombing dog to Joel McHale's well-quaffed Spy Hunter--the jokes fall flat. Robert Rodriguez seriously needs to make a good movie, and soon.

12 Angry Men:  "Let me ask you something? Do you believe his story?" 12 Angry Men is a Great American Movie. A movie that we should watch every 4th of July. 12 jurors sit around a table, ready to condemn a man to the electric chair. One man, Henry Fonda's Juror #8, not ready to life sentence an 18 year old votes "Not Guilty" only to open the forum to debate. What follows is some of the most compelling arguments in cinema--there is more tension here than in fifty Michael Bay Blockbuster explosions. Sidney Lumet and his 12 actors just knock the play outta the park and I dare anyone to watch this film and not be deeply moved.

Modern Romance:  A very squirmy Albert Brooks comedy (is there any other kind?) depicting the tumultuous relationship between a Hollywood editor and his way-too-hot for him girlfriend. The script is excellent and incredibly engaging in the sense that every five seconds I'm shouting at the screen for this couple to "Break The Hell Up!" but at the end of the day even smart romantic (?) comedies hold very little appeal. My favorite segments of the film revolve around Brooks' day job, cutting scenes of a Cormanesque space picture starring George Kennedy and directed by Simpsons' guru James L Brooks.

Firecracker:  There are moments in Firecracker that make the film an absolute must-see for cheap karate genre die hards. The opening mustache man impaling. The creepy, weird slicing of clothes sex scene. The topless karate fight. The everyone is kung fu fighting reality--seriously, there are people in this film who have No Business knowing karate kicking some serious random ass. The eye socket attack climax. But there is also a lot of meh to wade through as well. And an hour and 23 minutes shouldn't feel this long.

The Muppets:  "Am I A Maaaaaaannnnnnn? Or Am I a Muppet?" Brothers Gary (Jason Segel) and Walter (voiced by Peter Linz) must eventually answer that question and their journey to revelation is a smorgasbord of joyous Jim Henson idol worship. I did not spend my childhood as a Muppet maniac (I was a casual observer of the show and the only previous film I had seen was Take Manhattan), but this latest entry in their saga is a true hoot. Yes, there's plenty of self-love on display, but the in-jokes play on their own as much as they nudge-nudge, wink wink. Kudos to Segel for his triple threat of producing, writing, and acting--the man got to the heart of the characters and made the audience embrace the rainbow connection.

Too Hot To Handle:  The third slot in the recent Shout Factory Roger Corman Cult Classics Lethal Ladies Collection (that's a lot to cram into the title), Too Hot To Handle is a fairly weak entry in the Naked Lady in the Philippines subgenre; Cheri Caffaro supplies plenty of T & A but she's unpleasantly harsh when she should simply be badass. There are some solid explosions, some entertainingly goofy assassinations, and lots and lots of split screens, but not enough make you give a damn.


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