Thursday, December 27, 2012

Worst Of '12

Okay, it’s that time of year again where I spill out all of the movies from my mental pail and try to make some sense of my addiction to movies. This part is usually my comedic recounting of terrible garbage worth musing back and forth about and someone usually goes “Why do you even see these movies?” and I silently go “BECAUSE I OBVIOUSLY HAVE A PROBLEM”. Let’s continue the vicious cycle before I need medication. I present to you:

The Top Ten Worst Movies Of 2012


The tragic irony is that the previous two movies both made the “Best Of” list. One even topped it. I learned a lot about movies this year. Back in 08’ I was in severe denial about INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL. I needed to love it. It was so ingrained in me that if you took a microscope and looked at a sample of my blood, you’d see my red blood cells were actually wearing little tiny fedoras in anticipation. It took a year for me to finally get over such an aura as powerful as that. The first Batman film from 1989 is my first movie theater memory and kicked off a lifetime of anti-social behavior and obsessive compulsive collecting of merchandise and meaningless trivia. When THE DARK KNIGHT came out, I was fully obsessed and reached levels of hype that were impossible to satisfy. But satisfied they were! It’s still pretty watchable too. And made BATMAN BEGINS better in how the two films complimented each other. They made for a great double feature but deep in my heart I knew that they were so satisfying that any new addition to the saga would just be icing on the cake. I already got the ultimate Batman movie. I’m not greedy. But I remained super enthused and excited for this. There’s a three-point disappointment factor to THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. The warning. The threat. And the point of no return.
The Warning: There’s many problems at the giddy up that THE DARK KNIGHT glow of happiness, even years later, helps you ignore. But when Anne Hathaway disguised as a maid attempts to burgle Martha Wayne’s pearls right from under Bruce’s nose, when she is discovered, Catwoman trips him up and escapes. Bruce does nothing. It’s even too much for me that Bruce even has a cane to trip up. Bruce literally does nothing. Bruce is Batman. Batman does things? Okay, we can get past this.

The Threat: The movie tries to recapture the magic of The Joker bank robbery by having Bane heist up the Gotham Stock Exchange. He shows up and using Bruce’s fingerprints (stolen by Catwoman from cracking his safe), bankrupts Wayne Enterprises. Did this really need to be a grand gesture? It seems like something a hacker could do from his bedroom. Then Batman reveals himself after 8 years of absence, to give chase and he shows up with a big EMP gun that just happens to be handy and then a big police chase happens because Batman is blamed for the death of Harvey Dent. It gets really dramatic really quickly and it feels like something that should be going on later in the movie. But the movie has other boring plans for us and for no real reason Batman whips out his flying car way too early in a situation that doesn’t really warrant it. The movie is starting to misuse its grand gestures for moments that don’t mean anything. It’s also showing us it’s hand way to early. At this point, it’s time to start worrying.

The point of no return: When Alfred flat out gives Bruce the history of Bane and his ties to the League Of Shadows, the movie has given up on letting characters figure out big info on their own and gives up on dramatic revelations that make sense or logic dictating which character knows what info. It’s the ultimate example of not knowing what to do with the story. This was one of those movies you could talk about for hours and not hit the same beats twice. It feels like a completely different movie than the first two, made by a totally different guy trying to ape Nolan. It doesn’t seem like he was emotionally invested in it since he never had the balls to make the big motions. He kept trying to have his cake and eat it too. Talia was in it, but wasn’t. Ra’s came back, but didn’t. Robin was introduced, but wasn’t. It was so half assed, and compared to the home runs of the other movies, it kind of reached back to those first two and started eating away at their relevance. Thus proving the curse of the third superhero movie is still strong. I should be much madder that this movie was so botched. But one day, I’ll be in a video store and realize there is a live action Batman movie I don’t own, and that’s where I’ll have my real fit. Like the time I did that very thing and remembered that there is a solo Wolverine movie out there, and that it’s completely terrible. Someone hold me.

The writer, Steve Koren was kind of the biggest believers in the 90’s staple “Huge comedian in huge circumstances” genre of comedy. Making Jim Carrey a God. Giving Adam Sandler a remote that controls life. This time, he scrapes the bottom of the barrel and takes away Eddie Murphy’s inability to talk. Look, Eddie Murphy is in a major downward slump. But trying to make him Buster Keaton isn’t going to help him at all. Also, these movies always kind of position the main character to be kind of a jerk or blind to the blessings of life. But all this character did was not publish a guru’s 12 page book. Eddie plays an alright guy with a family who just didn’t want to move out of his nice house. And the guru wasn’t even exacting revenge, like in THINNER. This curse was an accident. So even if Eddie did publish his book, this still would have happened to him. The guru made it so a tree grew in Murphy’s backyard. For every word he said, a leaf fell off of it. And when the tree ran out of leaves, Murphy would die. What lesson does one learn from this? Don’t talk? Not speaking to your family would probably garner resentment? He wasn’t even a fast talking salesman or liar or bad guy at all. It was filmed in 2008 and released this year. They should have kept it in a vault.

I gave BATTLESHIP every benefit of the doubt. I don’t want to live in a world where overblown movies aren’t made out of board games and starring Rihanna. The year 2012 was the year of making Taylor Kitsch a star, and he made sure at every turn to remind us why he doesn’t deserve it. If you do anything, at least see the first 20 minutes of this movie because it has the phrase “chicken burrito” in it about 5 million times and features about 5 different beginnings for the same characters that seemed to be deleted scenes left in. I do appreciate things like the navy getting their radar blinded and randomly guessing the quadrants that the aliens are in and randomly firing to miss or hit. I appreciate that Turtle from ENTOURAGE is in the movie. But Kitsch is awful and the aliens look like the lead guy from Anthrax and Liam Neeson is hardly in it and they are so scared of repeating other invasion movies that they never get the balls to do their own thing. I can’t wait for people to shadow cast this movie in 10 years as a double feature with CLUE.

7. TED
I understand that TED is like the highest grossing comedy of all time. It’s because you people are fucking retarded. We live in a generation where everyone is rewarded and everybody is so busy clamoring to tell each other how special they are but what you people really need to be told how stupid you are in the hopes that you will be shamed into having a lick of sense. Shame can be a powerful tool. My parents used a good amount of shame in my upbringing and look at the confident young gentleman you see before you. You need to be embarrassed that you liked or laughed or enjoyed this movie in anyway or recommended it to a single human being or for one second publically let it be known that you harbor positive thoughts toward a derivative, lazy, offensively patronizing mess from the most powerful force against comedy of the last 20 years. Hosting the Oscars doesn’t legitimize the dark one. It just shows you how desperate the once glamorous Oscars are to have internet ‘loids retweet and .gif about their tired award show. Stop poisoning yourselves. You want dark and edgy? Watch OBSERVE AND REPORT. And why are people so excited when characters smoke or reference weed in movies and television? Like the mentions validate the lives they decided to devote to it to create some sort of identity for themselves. What do they care? I stopped getting excited at the Ninja Turtles mentioning pizza when I was 7. And is a bear smoking weed really that outrageous or hilarious? Have people gotten their fill of old people smoking weed and rapping because I don’t think I’m ready to give that up.


A rich testament to how the 80’s was the greatest decade of entertainment and how we don’t understand it well enough to replicate it. So much of entertainment these days is regurgitated 80’s fare because we have not come up with anything better in the last 20 years and refuse to try. When we try to remake things like TOTAL RECALL we realize how yellow bellied we are and take out anything interesting because the interesting stuff is batshit insane in the best possible way. The original was about a man who had dreams of Mars when trying to use the new fangled tech of engineered memories, his past came back to claim him. The new one is about a man who dreams of the other side of Earth and uses the new fangled tech of engineered memories to try to remember. It takes out Mars. Space. Aliens. Quattos. Heads blowing up. Big fat head disguises. It keeps the three boobs because studios think we’re stupid and that’s all we remember but it doesn’t make any sense in this new version because there aren’t any other mutants or aliens in the movie. There’s just a lot of platform jumping. A LOT of platform jumping. They boil it down to a bleak silver and black looking FROGGER and Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel are the prettiest lilypads in the pond. Fuck this movie. Don’t bother remaking Verhoven unless you’ve had at least a weeklong psychiatric lockdown in your lifetime or unless you’ve seen at least three family members murdered by being punched into a vat of machine guns that shoot knives.


From the marketing visionary that brought you The Teletubbies, brings three colorful blobs on a mission. The real story of Oogieloves isn’t the man vs. nature tale of people in search of lost treasures, but that this NINETY minute film, the likes of which should really only be played at 5am on TLC or some other cable channel high in the 500s where nobody can see it, played in 3000 theaters across this nation. With billboards and bus ads and mall banners papered town and town over. Someone threw an extraordinary amount of money into this endeavor under the sole theory that if something is in movie theaters, people will see it regardless of what it is. I’ve seen countless people go to the movie theater and not decide on what they are seeing until they are in line. This probably fueled the producers’ thinking. But with a title like that, who knows what they were thinking. The movie is about three kids celebrating a pillow’s birthday and when the absent minded vacuum loses the balloons for the party, they use their magic window lady to tell them where all the balloons flew off to. Along the way, they encounter a Cloris Leachman who lives in a tree, a Chazz Palmenteri who runs a milkshake shop. A Toni Braxton who can’t get her private plane to take off because there is a balloon in the tail. A Carey Elwes obsessed with bubbles and a Christopher Lloyd/Jamie Pressley duo who live in a flying sombrero. Pixar, you’re on notice.


Here’s where I would have complained about the fact that we got 4 Twilight movies in the time it took us to get one Batman movie, but we all saw how that turned out. This is the end. The perfect streak. Twilight has made every worst list for every year one came out. My main problem with the series always was that the rest of the movies were never as entertainingly bad as the first. They all got serious and the directors actually tried to do something with them. That was no fun. This is the closest it’s come to being a bit of fun since the first one. With lines like “You nicknamed my daughter after the Loch Ness MONSTER?!” and a cgi baby that is the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen. The whole movie ends with a battle where Dakota Fanning gets her head ripped clean off her body and who doesn’t want to see that at Thanksgiving? Twlight’s reign on stupid shitty movies that tingle the females of our lives, young and old, may be over. But do not despair. 50 SHADES OF GREY has a home on this list in 2014.

3. HIT & RUN

 Why is Dax Shepard a thing? Is he really riding PUNK’D fame this far? Maybe it’s that he’s one of those pseudo celebrities that has stayed in enough guest houses and smarmed his way to warrant his actual famous friends helping him out by putting him in movies and making vanity projects? HIT & RUN is written and directed by Dax Shepard, Dax plays a ne’er do well who is dating Kristen Bell (His real life girlfriend. What?) and he ratted out Bradley Cooper bad guy who is out of jail now and wants to kill him. And there are big muscle cars and chases involved. This was all just a reason for Dax Shepard to race cars and do his own stunts. And Kristen Bell is in the car a lot for these stunts. What the fuck is she doing? If she wants to date an idiot I am right here. I will pretend to eat vegan and like puppies, just don’t leave me. DON’T LEAVE ME. Tom Arnold is a sidekick in this movie, who mastered the art of parlaying a rubbing elbows relationship with stars into a career in the 90’s. So in a way, Dax Shepard pays tribute to him. And himself. Never watch this ever.


I am pretty sure the first one made my list years ago. Remember the first one? It’s the kind of movies that make you long for the subtle nuance of the original GHOST RIDER that this list is made for. People know the Ghost Rider movies are bad and amount to as much stimulation as your average 9 year old’s rub on tattoo. At first you’re like “What the fuck?” and then you’re like “Oh. Who let’s that happen?” The first movie is a ridiculous farce the likes of which Nicolas Cage has made a rather infamous name for himself doing but this one is a snoozer. It takes place in Europe and there’s bad guys and then GHOST RIDER! And then he befriends a mom and her son, and then he pees fire and the whole time Nicolas Cage is reciting lines from what seems to be other movies completely, because nothing he says is coherent. The irony is that they pretty much made this movie for that one lonely, long haired fat dude who runs the one remaining Magic: The Gathering game in his town and is obsessed with objects that remain in constant flame and they fire piss all over his dreams. This isn’t the movie that even he wants to see, and as my pal Sean Richardson once said about SPEED RACER, “I love it when they make movies for nobody”. 

ANCHORMAN was a revelation to a young bushy haired youth who loved comedy. Gone were the days of TOMCATS and WHIPPED as the only kind of adult humor oriented movies marketed to youths. No longer did we have to stomach another slice of AMERICAN PIE whenever we wanted yuck it up with absurd and raunchy situations. The dawning of Apatow commenced and we have it pretty fucking lucky nowadays in terms of laffs. If it wasn’t for him, all your THIS IS 40 people that whine about the arguing and bickering would be enduring whatever Jake Busey/Sass Talking Puppet Beaver private eye strip club mystery Hollywood would be churning out right now. You are all spoiled brats and need to learn how to laugh at good things. Will Ferrell seemed to be a gift from the heavens but lo, mega success does not come without it’s array of failed ideas. Now when your remake of LAND OF THE LOST tanks, I don’t think you’ve spurned too many die hard fans who were really earnestly waiting for someone to finally do that story justice. I don’t think you’ve pissed too many people off by that point. But when a risky idea goes horribly wrong, the money in charge is most likely not going to want to take chances on any more risky ideas. That is the true tragedy of CASA DE MI PADRE, an idea from the guys who made ANCHORMAN for Will Ferrell to star in a feature length movie about. Honestly, this sketch has been done about a thousand times and I don’t think any of them were that great to begin with. What Will Ferrell wanted to do here is star in a Spanish soap opera type Western completely speaking Spanish with subtitles. People don’t want to read anything for starters. But we make exceptions for those foreigners who were not as blessed as we were to be taught English and brave it to experience the story in the most natural way possible. CASA DE MI PADRE does it just for fun. I don’t know where these guys come from, but listening to Spanish is not fun or funny. In fact, when my grandparents started speaking it, it meant someone was about to receive a life changing beating. They try to play it as straight as possible, thinking that just the idea that they are in a Spanish soap opera is enough to tickle your funny bone for 90 minutes. It is shot super grainy and all washed out so it gives you a headache on top of trying to be able to READ funny. I made this comment to people I saw the movie KLOWN with. The idea of comedy with subtitles is fundamentally flawed because so much of comedy is timing. And when you’re throwing it to the audience to read at their own pace, a lot gets lost in translation. Being that there was no funny to begin with, this movie STARTS out running on fumes. The inclusion of such prestigious Spanish speaking actors like Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna are too nothing too late and add nothing towards the proceedings. This movie didn’t get a wide release. It really should have never been written or even thought up. I still think of the headache I had watching the bright tan of the color palate. I normally don’t like discouraging people from making their own choices, but life really is too short for movies like this.

Now that I’ve told you what the worst is, we can finally get to the BEST. But we’ve run out of time. Tune in next week for some of the Best Movie Type Things of 2012!

- D

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Is John Williams A Thief?

I once noticed that the HOME ALONE score sounded a lot like The Nutcracker. I was watching a press kit generic Making Of doc and noticed that they used The Nutcracker as a temp score. Here's the opening titles.

Here is The Dance Of The Sugar Plumb Fairy

Here is a piece of Home Alone Score called "Holiday Flight"

Here is The Russian Dance

I'm not even sure it's limited to Home Alone. Take a listen to this bit of John Williams' SUPERMAN score entitled "Planet Krypton"

And now listen to "Sprach Zarathustra", also known as the theme to 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

Astute observations or rantings from someone doped up on cough medicine? YOU DECIDE.

- D

Sunday, February 26, 2012

It's The DerOscars 2012.

The incorruptible and unpolitical awards show for the people! Everyone will agree with these for they are my oh-pinions. And it's hosted by me. And produced by Brett Ratner.

Monologue: Tree Of Life? More like take my life...please!

Okay, on with the show.

Best Trailer for a 2011 motion picture:


Pink and Eminem in Mission Impossible trailer. It's 2000 all over again.


And The Winner Is...

DRAGON TATTOO gets the edge for being amazing the entire time and looking way better than the actual movie.

Best Opening Credit Sequence:



They both win the Pulp Fiction award for trying to set the tone of each movie with their openings, but The Winner Is...

DRIVE - It's far too consistent with the movie while this is where DRAGON TATTOO peaks.

Best Ending Credits:

And The Winner Is...


It's Landis-ian in it's origin and the song choice isn't on the nose. A lot of fun. Evocative of the whole movie.

Best Action Sequence:

DRIVE - Tick Of The Clock



And The Winner Is...

M:I-4. This sequence must be seen in IMAX. Which is now impossible to do now. Sorry stragglers.

Best Music:

SUPER 8 - Michael Giacchino

HANNA - The Chemical Brothers


And The Winner Is...

The Chemical Brothers. That was just one track out of a score that is so fun and brilliant.

Best Song (or for Derick's purposes, best use of a song, original or non-original):

THE MUPPETS - Pictures In My Head

DRIVE - Nightcall

SHAME - New York, New York

Carey Mulligan's incredibly sad version of New York, New York manages to get the award of Best Version Of A Song Sung By A Gremlin award but Kermit waxing nostalgic on his past is very genuine and heartfelt. The Winner Is...Kermit.`

And The Final Award...

Best Dance Sequence:

FOOTLOOSE - Fake ID Country Line Dance


RIO - Real In Rio sequence

While Rio has some very strong early Disney vibes, and the SOMETHING BORROWED Push It Dance has a hilarious ending, The Winner Is...

FOOTLOOSE - Fake ID Country Line Dance. It's pure sex.

Thank you for coming to these super short awards specifically designed to tell you how much I like Drive. Thank you.

- D

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Movie Blog Saga: Best of 2011 - Part 1

Here it is. My top 15 films of the year, pure and true. Let's not waste too much time in preamble. We have much to cover. On we go.


Directed By Thomas McCarthy

This is the story of how a depressed Attorney through shady deals meets a lonely and troubled kid who’s shaky past surprisingly helps him well in the violent art of wrestling. Paul Giamatti is the attorney who also moonlights as a coach for the local high school’s loser wrestling team. Newcomer Alex Shaffer is the boy whom, despite all the hurt that has come from his mother, can’t help but dream of what a normal life with her would be like. Amy Ryan is Giamatti’s perpetually inconvenienced wife who doesn’t want to get in the middle of all this trouble, but refuses to ignore the needs of a helpless kid. Indie film gets a lot of flack for its pretentious views and holier than thou attitude. But I feel it’s when filmmakers like Thomas McCarthy take on the most common themes that we can relate to the most in a real and honest way that Indie is at it’s best. It’s allowed to breathe and move at it’s own pace. Avoiding the studio logic that would dull the finer points that a story like this is trying to make. These kinds of movies didn’t stop getting made, like some cinematic chicken littles would have you believe. It’s just become a bit harder to find them. If anything, the acting ensemble at work here is one of the best of the year and should be recognized as such. While I liked THE HELP a great deal, I feel that WIN WIN should be sweeping up the acting categories as well. But award glory rarely favors the subtler performances.

14. HUGO

Directed By Martin Scorsese

Kevin Smith’s RED STATE has been getting a lot of attention for being such a 180 degree change from his usual fare. But I think the biggest and most emotionally overwhelming turn comes in Martin Scorsese’s HUGO. There’s no question that Scorsese has mastered storytelling and visual panache. But here he’s taken the tired and often reviled gimmick of 3D and mastered that as well. Better than Cameron or Zemeckis or any of those tech mongers could hope to do. The first shot of the movie had me going “Oh, God” as I was swept into a nearly dialogue free sequence that introduces the characters and settings and themes in a breathtaking and exciting way. It doesn’t stop there. The entire movie was expertly crafted for the format. Add that to great performances by Hit Girl and new kid legend Asa Butterfield. A brand new Sacha Baron Coen, providing a comic character unlike anything he’s done with surprisingly little “derp” humor. And the personal touch of Scorsese that ties it all together with a staging of the earliest of cinema. A personal story for all ages with amazing imagery and great performances, all done in a way a director of nearly 40 years has never shown us before. How the hell are you supposed to market that? With a big clock of course.


Directed By Steve McQueen

One of the opening shots of this movie is of Michael Fassbender’s swinging cock as he goes to the bathroom to take a piss. This ain’t your grandpa’s sex addiction drama, kids. Yes, that is Magneto and yes before the movie is over, someone may get a shot in the mouth. Right away, this movie shows you a slow burn montage of hardcore sex acts. Some with hookers, some with strangers, some with himself, sometimes in his house, sometimes in an alley and sometimes at work. Who wouldn’t be content with such a routine? Well, his sister played by Carey Mulligan (who is introduced via bush) who shares the same kind of easy virtue but a different kind of emotional carelessness as he, enters the fray. She shows up out of nowhere to stay with him for a few days. He’s exposed to a few intimate moments, which includes sexual and emotional. One of which being a very heart wrenching and extended version of New York, New York which she sings in a local nightspot in the city in question. Her presence causes a shift in his ways and he struggles to discover what intimacy really entails. It’s a really rough journey that gets pretty god damn seedy at times. But that’s part of the charm of a movie like this. It gets rough when it gets rough. It doesn’t hold back like any other movie of its kind would, be it studio or indie. It has an NC-17 for the endless gyrations but the movie also has such an emotional stranglehold on the conceptions of one of the most complicated subjects I can think of. The truth of human connection. It’s painful and harsh and I would stress the concept of “Adult Themes” if it didn’t lump people like my mother and uncles into it. On an unrelated note, it’s movies like this that really make me scratch my head when I think “Is there any way that a modern average adult can watch this movie and not completely vomit over it?”. The answer would probably depress me, and I’m guessing the audience for such a film is slim. But hey, it works for me.


Directed By David Robert Mitchell

The Richard Linklater style is alive and well in this film, in many ways. At the same time, this movie feels like SLACKER, DAZED & CONFUSED, BEFORE SUNRISE and SUBURBIA. Shockingly enough, the filmmaker probably doesn’t even realize it. He’s not aping the styles or the dialogue but the aimless drifting between characters and subjects and themes with the same sense of humor. It falls within one of my favorite genres of movie, the “One Night Only”. A film that takes place over a single night where the rules of the characters lives are suspended and life altering epiphanies occur. It’s the last weekend of summer in an everytown in a year that could be any year. Hormones are raging and everybody wants to get laid. This isn’t the high- energy kind of American Pie adventure, though. Everybody is muted and scared shitless, just like in real life. Hearts are put on the line and little adults are forged in the ancient art of trial by fire. I guess this movie could be defined under that made up class of “mumblecore”. It’s almost a documentary in how fluid and genuine the characters deal with the situations and everything they say and all. The teen “One Night Only” movie will always have a special place in my heart and this one comes in a unique little package of subdued hopeless romance. A review on IndieWire made some comparisons with last year’s “EASY A”. That movie feels like it was written by someone that wanted to capture literal EXACT moments in their favorite 80’s movies. This movie feels like it captured the spirit, and feels all the more genuine for it. There’s a lot of good acting talent to pool from in this movie. Why doesn’t Sony cast everyone in this as “Spider-Man”? I would totally see that.


Directed By David Schwimmer

Here’s another surprising movie that takes a scenario better suited for Lifetime movies and really makes some bold moves with it. And all from the mind of David Schwimmer! It’s about a young girl who falls for a guy through online chats. At first he presents himself as a similar age as her. The responsible dad played by Clive “I will NOT be James Bond” Owen is keeping vigilant. But the truth starts breaking down and eventually she meets up with a man in his 30’s that manipulates her into sex and then takes off forever. On the surface is a story that you would have seen on any news magazine like program. Teen girl lured by online predator. But the movie decides to explore other parts of the story. The girl is still hung up on her attacker who has cut all contact with her now that the police are looking for him. Her father throws himself into the search and tries to fill in the cracks that someone used to enter his daughter’s life. But she doesn’t understand what happened to her and continues to be infatuated while growing a consistent resentment for her father. It’s a can of worms that is gut wrenching and hard to watch but the cast is stellar and Ross from FRIENDS is proving to be a really decent talent behind the camera. He directed a comedy with Simon Pegg a few years ago, but he seems to nail drama much better. This pearl clutching salacious tale quickly transcends its pulpy wrapper and becomes a story about a family going through a horrible moral dilemma. The final scene is altogether truthful and satisfying and cements the characters as being living, breathing human beings. Again, another movie that will probably be an uncomfortable watch to screen at family Christmas dinner, but really well done.


Directed By Steven Soderbergh

Steven Soderbergh is one of those indie talents that can ride the wave between small budget experimental film to big budget studio movie. He’s even become popular enough to attract big names and big talents to star in both kinds. In this one, he takes the disaster movie model from the 70’s and plugs it into his own style. CONTAGION is about a super virus that is spreading quickly from many points of the globe. We follow the stories of the government agencies trying to find a cure while stopping the spread, to the families that are affected by widespread death, to the media’s part in hurting or helping the people of the world’s preparedness. The movie itself is constructed in a very panic inducing way. A way that makes you think twice about how you interact with the world and how vulnerable you can be in your everyday routine. It’s true horror. At least the closest thing to horror that Soderbergh will ever attempt. The virus doesn’t turn you into a zombie. There are no aliens invading. You just get it and you die. Confusion turns into hopelessness which turns into desperation in a very convincing manner in this movie. And the scariest way you can present a horror story is by displaying just how easily it can happen to you. In fact, a lot of people were afraid to see it because of how germ phobic they are. That’s kind of cooler than being afraid to see a PARANORMAL ACTIVITY or exorcism movie. Not everyone believes in a ghost but everyone does believe in a cold.


Directed By Constance Marks & Philip Shane

The true spirit of the Muppets and the real passing of the torch occurs in this movie. A rather touching documentary chronicling the life of Kevin Clash, voice and puppeteer of mega Sesame Street star, Elmo. What I was expecting was a story about how someone deals with being the man behind such a popular children’s character but what I got was much more. That story is there, but his humble origins are what were truly fascinating. Clash grew up idolizing Jim Henson and his Muppets and starting from a very young age, started building his own puppets and performing his own characters. We get to see how a truly nerdy hobby and passion got him to where he felt he belonged, rubbing elbows with the original Muppet crews and designers and eventually meeting his hero, Jim Henson. And not just meeting with him, but working and collaborating with him at the height of his creative output. We then get into the huge phenomenon that was Elmo and what it’s like now to be one of the head Muppet guys in charge of Sesame and one of the last remaining bits of the Henson crew. I liked Jason Segel’s THE MUPPETS just fine, and this movie kind of mirrors that story in reality. I wish this kind of movie could get a normal theatrical run because there’s no reason why the people that enjoyed THE MUPPETS wouldn’t enjoy this even more.


Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn

Every year a movie comes out that becomes the “You either loved it or hated it” point of contention at parties and drink shin digs and hug fests. This year, that movie was DRIVE. Marketed as a FAST AND THE FURIOUS type of heist thriller, most audiences were disappointed when that sat back and were instead subjected to ONE OF THE COOLEST MOVIES EVER MADE. Right away the sweeping shots of a lit up Los Angeles lure you in and the heart pounding opening scene draws you further. Just when you least suspect it, right when you’re trying to catch your breath, Ryan Gosling looks directly into the camera and says, “Derick, this one is for you.” And one of the best opening credit sequences anyone would ever hope to make finally hooks your stupid drooling mouth and pulls you up to the surface for scaling. That music. Those visuals. That font. Mwah! We have successfully harnessed the power of 80’s cool and plugged it into our world. And we didn’t need to make one Super Mario reference to do it. The character earns his theme in mere minutes and the movie already takes a victory lap. Now, this was one of the most annoying movies to watch in theaters and I did it several times. There was always some impatient Hamburger Jones that tried to scream at the movie and make everyone laugh. I think it’s all the sugar and calories in that movie theater food that makes people so hyped up at the movies. Just shut up and listen. But that’s a big criticism I heard of the movie, that it was slow and blank. I have to agree that the story is fairly basic and the kind of pace the movie takes is highly irregular for it’s genre. But the style had me riveted the entire time. It blended wonderfully with this new wave 80’s synth pop rock soundtrack, which I’ve listened to endlessly. And then there’s Ryan Gosling knocking it out of the park by creating a new cool pop culture icon. Carey Mulligan and Albert Brooks are great in it. And my stars, this is one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen. After the first few viewings, you get rewarded with hidden stuff and I’ve read things like every time the shot gets super saturated and bright, we’re seeing what the Driver is seeing in his mind and not necessarily what’s actually happening in reality. Even down to it’s core, it’s appealing in that it’s every modern day superhero story of the brooding loner putting his neck in harm’s way to protect his beautiful love interest. The soundtrack seems to be cheering Goslingon as he gets into his scrimps and scrapes and even often providing commentary on his fate as he drives the lonely streets of the vast expansive valleys of Los Angeles. I don’t understand why anyone would deny themselves the wonder and beauty of this movie. In the immortal words of George Carlin, “These motherfuckers ain’t cool, they’re just fuckin’ chilly”.


Directed By Kenneth Branagh

Speaking of superheroes, I hear tell that our friend Thor started out as one in the pages of silver age Marvel comics. Thor is nobody’s favorite superhero. We know of him because they vaguely based the character on Nordic legend and because sometimes he is in the background when Spider-Man and Wolverine kill people. He talks funny and he has long hair like a girl. He lives in the sky. No one is responding to this. But Marvel Studios wanted to release several stand alone films to introduce the characters that would make up their big 2012 blockbuster, THE AVENGERS. Marvel Studios has done a great job at hiring excellent creative yet not entirely A-list talent. They got Jon Favareu for IRON MAN. Joe Johnston, the director of THE ROCKETEER for their similarly patriotic 1940’s hero, CAPTAIN AMERICA. Joss Whedon directed THE AVENGERS and the one and only Shane Black is making IRON MAN 3. For this, they got the veteran Shakespearean actor/director Kenneth Branagh to show us all what kind of a namby Thor was. But Namby he is not. Chris Hemsworth plays the God of Thunder through a classic dramatic arc like a pro. He broke our hearts in the first five minutes of 2009’s STAR TREK playing the ill fated captain of the SS Kelvin and father to James T. Kirk, but you can’t predict someone can carry a movie based on that, can you? Well, carry he does. In Thor’s magical realm of Asgard, he is to be named king by his retiring father, Odin. But trouble causes everyone’s plans to halt. We meet Thor as a big and boisterous asshole who’s pride and boner for horrific violence causes him to break a treaty with the frost giants and inadvertently start a war between the realms. For his childish actions, Odin banishes him to Midgard (Earth), stripped of his powers but also sent his mighty hammer, Mjolnir, with the caveat that only who is truly worthy can pick up the hammer and possess the power of Thor. So Thor arrives on Earth confused and ready to fight. He takes to our humanly ways with a precocious yet charming condescension. Meanwhile, his brother, Loki the God of Mischief is making strides to take over the throne of Asgard for himself. There is tons of dramatic dialogue and imagery that in the wrong hands can come off horribly, like that Baz Luhrman Romeo + Juliet movie. But Branagh’s direction adds a subtle gravitas that blends the movie’s tone with the actor’s performances to a pitch perfect degree. Add that Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleson (Loki) are pretty f’in amazing. There are two scenes in particular where their chemistry is dazzling as the effects are. When Loki briefly visits Earth and lies to Thor about their father dying and having to enforce that Thor can never ever return, you can see in Hemsworth’s face the tremendous guilt and disappointment in himself at his fate and then you want to marry him when he humbly accepts it. The second is towards the end where the two brothers face each other with their agendas out on front street. The dialogue is very heavy and Shakespearean but they carry it pretty well. Hemsworth takes Thor from being a horse’s ass to being a funny horse’s ass to losing everything he’s ever known to heroic sacrifice all the way to epic hero. A lot of wacky crap is thrown at him. He has to handle such a grand fantasy and then being a product of such in a real modern world. Even those settings by themselves weren’t as shocking a shift as I thought it would be. The filmmakers ease you into the fantastic and you are comforted to a point where you can just enjoy the ride. I didn’t expect to love another Marvel movie as much as IRON MAN but this comes very close. I really can’t wait to see how it comes together next summer.


Directed By Todd Rohal

You have never seen or heard of this film as it grossed a total of just over a thousand dollars in its theatrical release. A few years ago, Jody Hill’s OBSERVE & REPORT made my best list and if that movie were the hit it deserved to be, then THE CATECHISM CATACLYSM, which he produced, would be a huge holiday release. Part of the fun of this movie is that there is no way of telling what is going to happen next. I saw it as a double feature with PUNISHER: WAR ZONE at the New Beverly and had zero idea what this movie was. So I will be brief in explaining the plot. A priest who has idolized one of his sister’s old boyfriends for years, finally gets together with him for a special canoe trip. While getting the shits from too much appetizers he accidentally drops his bible in the toilet and fails to retrieve it. What happens after that is a series of bizarre and hellish situations that test the sanity of our poor hero. This movie is painfully funny and surprising with fair amounts of disturbing. It is unleashed comedy without mainstream rules to tame it that actually becomes an artistic oddity instead of a miserable failure. You need to just trust me on this and find it and then thank me for being your Sheppard.


Directed By Drake Doremus

One of the hardest things about growing up besides being ashamed to drink orange soda in public is realizing that just because you have found somebody you connect with and have much love for, that sometimes you aren’t meant to be together. In the unfortunately titled, LIKE CRAZY, director Drake Doremus gives us the love story of our time. Little Anton Yelchin meets little Felicity Jones and an instant attraction turns into whirlwind romance that results in the main characters saying “Fuck a visa” and spending an amazing summer in Los Angeles together. When British Felicity Jones goes back to her home country for a brief holiday, she’s flummoxed to learn that she can’t go back to America for breaking her Visa limits. What follows is a years long affair trying stay together despite their lives drifting them further apart. This among most movies on this list made me look forward to acting performances again in movies. The creative talent behind the film is what makes me look forward to things, but Felicity Jones broke my soul about five times during this movie and she has a new fan for life in this dude. The ending of the film may be one thing, but everyone I know that has seen the movie has a different take on it and that leads to exciting conversation where I yell and scream about how wrong they are. I feel like I’ve been through several relationships while watching this movie and since I feel like I have dated Felicity Jones through this movie I’m just going to say that I did.


Directed By Alexander Payne

The director of ELECTION and SIDEWAYS is a genius. He surrounds his films with a melancholy realism in the midst of hyper kinetic situations. George Clooney plays a father that is absolutely fine with his stagnant relationships in his life. His wife suffers an accident that leaves her dangling by life’s fragile thread, and an ugly secret comes to light in the wake of her potential loss of life. He is now put in the position of telling everyone she loves of her situation while bitterly trudging through her sins, which he is unable to confront her about. Meanwhile, his family is about to sell one of the biggest pieces of undeveloped land in Hawaiian history for a potential fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Along with his practically estranged daughters, he does what is asked of him while finally facing who is family really is. It’s a touching story with career performances and a lot of great surprises set in a realistic vision of a perceived paradise. Payne pulls off tons of great characters by actors you never saw coming. His relaxed approach leaves breathing room to let the story and the feelings unfold at a perfect pace. I just wish he didn’t wait 7 years to do this.


Directed By Phillip Rosenthal

The creator of the hit show EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND decided to go to Russia when they were remaking his show for Russian audiences and he documented the entire thing. He didn’t have to go. He is a millionaire many times over and can just enjoy his success by the pool of his Bel Air mansion but he went anyway. He clashed with the Russian comedic schools of thought and the way their entertainment industry worked with one ace up his sleeve. He believed that his work and the comedy had universal themes and he wasn’t going to mold it into something it wasn’t to kowtow to the trends of the country. Well, his artistic integrity succeeds in a blinding ray of optimism and warmth. The world is threaded together just a little bit closer by the foibles of a bickering family. It really did my heart good to see someone stand up for his or her art because they believe it was the right thing to do. Also, Phil Rosenthal wins the George Hardy from BEST WORST MOVIE award for being the most likable person ever in a documentary feature.


Directed By Rupert Wyatt

Fox ruins franchises and prequels suck. By this arithmetic, the second rebooting of a franchise created in the 1960’s seems like the potential for this to be pretty shitty is high. But RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES creates the best tension of the year with one of my favorite characters of the year. A medically enhanced ape baby named Ceaser is raised to be a super smart charm factory and proves that tests for a new drug to cure Alzheimer’s are positive. As Ceaser gets older, he realizes he does not fit into his world. He is not a pet. He is not a son. What is he? Well, Ceaser’s teen like frustrations lead to a violent outburst when one of his family is attacked on the street and he is sent to an Ape sanctuary that is pretty much Ape Jail complete with rape. At any moment, you think Ceaser is going to break under all the pressure surrounding him and his hyper awareness. But he only rises to each and every challenge with a sharp focus. Ceaser’s destiny unfolds with every riveting and nail-biting scene. Even after all that has come from liberating his fellow monkey, the more obvious outcome becomes a pessimistic afterthought. A lot of people feel that this was a great set up to a traditional PLANET OF THE APES story while ignoring that THIS was an amazing story in it’s own right. I think any building upon such an exciting tale would only disappoint. This was a fresh take on an old moldy series. I think Fox accidentally successfully rebooted something that they weren’t ready to continue.


Directed by Woody Allen

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS tackles the subject of nostalgia in a way that spoke to me unlike any of its kind before. It’s about a screenwriter played by Owen Wilson that tags along on his fiancĂ©e (Rachel McAdams) and her family on their trip to Paris. He winds up falling head over heels in love with the city. Most women might find this charming, but she finds it grating and immature. He’s working on a novel about a man that works in a Nostalgia Shoppee (two E’s!) and on a drunken walk through the streets manages to travel back in time to the roaring 1920’s. He meets his artistic heroes in F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Gertrude Stein. Ernest Hemingway. Salvador Dali. And a young female groupie that’s just along for the ride. They respond to him and his work in exactly the way he hoped they would. They accept him and understand him like no one from his time could. But he constantly gets spit back into the modern world. Eventually, Wilson learns that everyone has his or her own image of a glorified era. I too have rose-colored glasses that I look back onto the past on. And they are flip glasses like Dwayne Wayne in A DIFFERENT WORLD because that era for me is the 1980’s. It was greatest decade for entertainment in the history of anything. I only lived through a little over three years of it and even as a young boy, I would cling to my beloved 80’s icons for comfort. One image in particular is the Mann Huntington Oaks 6, my first movie theater. That’s where I have my first memories of life. Screaming in absolute terror, I ruined everyone’s matinee showing of the original Tim Burton BATMAN movie as the Batwing screamed through the Smylex poisoned sky in 70mm. Decked out in a little yellow fedora and electronic watch that could light up but not contact HQ, I watched Warren Beatty smash in so many heavily make up’d faces in DICK TRACY. From Gremlins to Ninja Turtles, my childhood solidified here as I developed artistic tastes that would forever stick with me. About a year ago, I visited the area where this theater was and it was now a Bed, Bath and Beyond. Standing there again brought upon intense feelings. I felt like I would do anything to see one last film in my own personal movie mecca. I was chasing that high I get when I remembered how amazing those movies were to me at first watch. But then I realized I was building on long faded memories. Glorifying what has been run through my mind over a million times and strengthened by years and years of believing in this idea that it would never be as good as those times and that I never fully appreciated what a dynamic streak of entertainment that was available to me in my youth. In reality, I barely remember those first moments and a lot of the love is fueled by continued years of enjoyment. It’s important to move forward to get the most out of life and much like last year’s #1 film, TOY STORY 3, it expounded the virtues of growing up. Bittersweet, but essential to a healthy existence.

Okay, that took a long time to get together. And there’s still some more attention I want to bring to some individual achievements from last year. But seeing as how the Oscar nominees are only a few hours away from being announced, I will touch upon them a little closer to that big night where we realize we’re letting dinosaurs tell us what to watch. To be concluded!

- D

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Worst of 2011: Revenge of the Fallen

I have returned from an extended hiatus to bring you movies you probably rightfully avoided in the first place.

I haven't done one of these in a long time. I keep a list of every movie I've seen in the past year and update it every few weeks or so. It goes from best at the top to worst at the bottom. Problem is, the worst of the year always seems too boring to talk about because that's what ends up at the bottom. Stuff that gave me headaches and bores you so hard you wake up with sleep boners in public and limbs gone numb. I don't really care to talk about the sleep bonery boring movies so I handpicked a bunch of movies towards the bottom that were bad in ways I can get passionate about, for you, the reader.


So uninterested in story was Michael Bay, that he dared to name this movie after a Pink Floyd album. When he couldn't, he deleted a word the title and it still didn't make sense after seeing the actual film. Now, the second TRANSFORMERS movie was probably the worst studio movie I've ever seen. Offensively so. Even though dog shit had permeated every fiber of it's being, you can't say it didn't hold your attention. You've got to respect a movie specifically produced to get parents to buy their kids toys when it becomes an endurance trial for your senses, taste and patience. It’s almost a John Waters movie in how consistently shocking it is. That said, the bar was left pretty high when going into making another one of these. Everyone considered it a waste of time, including the cast and to many extents, Bay himself. He kept calling this one his apology for the second one. I wasn't born yesterday. I wasn't actually going to believe that this was going to be any good at all. In fact, I was hoping that Bay would top himself and deliver something that was somehow even more of a shitstorm than the previous one.

So which movie did he make? Well, the movie starts in the 1960’s where a robot that has the ultimate power or secret or message or some sort of MacGuffin, lands on the moon and JFK himself creates NASA so that they can go to the moon and find out what it is. Excellent start if you’re planning to outshit yourself. But even rewriting history wasn’t as wacky as I wanted it to be. Did he finally make a decent Transformers movie? No. Did he out horrible himself? No. He failed in both ways. This formula lead to some “safe” decisions that became a boring movie. They fired Megan Fox for calling Michael Bay “Hitler” and they hired a Victoria Secret model to be Shia LeBeouf’s girlfriend. The good robots fight the bad robots again. At one point the government puts the good robots on a rocket into space for no real reason and the bad robots massacred humans in major cities and took over. It’s bad enough that the government would get rid of the only weapons we had to fight big evil robots, but it turns out that the good robots never left and were in hiding the whole time. They wanted to make the humans see that they needed them. There isn’t enough sugar in the world I would put in Optimus Prime’s gas tank after a heroic speech explaining this strategy. The good robots eventually take down the bad. So many people die. The US Army fights but is useless. Cleavage is displayed. Time is wasted. Cellphone clocks were checked. What but for the grace of god go us.


This one stings a bit more, but technically, it’s from the WRITERS of TRANSFORMERS 2 and we should have had our guard up. But they also wrote the excellent STAR TREK prequel, which was my number one movie of 2009. And it was directed by Jon Faverau, director of IRON MAN, my number three movie of 2008. Pretty solid. It had Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig being cowboys while the hot and actually talented Olivia Wilde kicked some ass as well. Even my beloved Sam Rockwell was involved. It should have worked. It did not. C&A starts off decent enough. A drifter with no memory and some fancy bracelet is found on the prairie. He is trying to figure out how he got there. When some laser wielding aliens start shooting shit up this small town like they are Dr. Loveless or something, Craig shows up and uses his bracelet to fend them off. Intriguing! Unfortunately, that’s where it peaks. I do love that it shut up the people that said “Cowboys fighting aliens. It writes itself” because obviously any concept could be bungled. But was the concept even that strong? Who was clamoring for this? Remember that short movie that came out five or six years ago where Batman meets The Joker in an alley and then Alien shows up and starts shit and then is killed by Predator and then I think an X-Wing blows them up and gets gobbled up by a sandworm that Beetlejuice is riding. That wasn’t any good. It was just “things you know”. And usually these high concept movies are so wrapped up in their setting that there is no actual substance. You’d figure Jon Favreau would have seen that somewhere but I guess his Iron helmet has an icing problem. At one point, I thought since the title wasn't COWBOYS VERSUS ALIENS that the Cowboys and Aliens would band together in the end to fight something more evil. Like Murky Dismal from RAINBOW BRITE.


Hunter S. Thompson was institution much like MAD Magazine and the Looney Tunes that inspired the younger lads of several generations to begin a love for all things chaotic. Like Hunter S. Thompson, the people that started these things are very dead. But that hasn’t stopped greedy people from keeping it going as ghosts of their former glories in order to make a buck or two. So, we get repackaged and repurposed versions of the things we used to love and they don’t really seem right. THE RUM DIARY was written in HST’s earlier days. So, this could almost be considered a prequel to his popular FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS novel since the main characters are more or less a proxy for himself. They even had Johnny Depp play both characters in each movie. The book while being less manic, still comes with fucked up imagery and chaos in the form of drunken violence that any Gonzo fan will more than likely appreciate. But when stories like this are told by people who don’t understand them, things get watered down and therefore become irrelevant. It could be argued that even Johnny Depp, a so called “keeper” of the legacy could be growing soft and not even realize it when producing this movie. He’s got kids now. He’s got tons of younger fans that love him because he was a Pirate in some movies. He’s got people surrounding him to protect his image. It was this softness that turned THE RUM DIARY into a potential crazy odyssey into a slick and clean product about a REAL ESTATE SWINDLE. I have to write a separate blog about classic characters being adapted for the silver screen to tell a story of a real estate swindle (THE FLINTSTONES, THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, THE ADDAMS FAMILY), but that’s for another time. Even if the makers of this movie didn’t want it to be as sick and twisted as FEAR AND LOATHING, they certainly wanted to make you think it was in the marketing (which by the way, has got to be remembered as some of the most deceptive marketing of all time). It’s Hollywood’s job to exploit what you love into you giving them more money and this is a perfect example.


It’s unfair to preface this entry with saying that while GHOSTBUSTERS III was being delayed by Bill Murray, Ivan Reitman made this movie to pass the time. It’s unfair because not only did this movie get made before that one, but it kind of makes Bill Murray to blame for this. The Diablo Cody led “Fempire”, a group of girl writers who write women devoid of empathy, has become a popular resource for spec scripts in recent years and this is one of them. Natalie Portman is doctor who is too busy for relationships and is too irked by the emotion such a thing would entail. Ashton Kutcher plays an aspiring writer freshly dumped by his girlfriend for his dad. He’s lovesick and a hopeless romantic. But that’s not going to prevent him from getting into a situation with Portman where they can meet for fuckings. Portman has a whole apartment full of these kinds of modern women and one token gay that loves it when “They all get on the same cycle” so they can crave for red velvet cupcakes TOGETHER and not feel guilty. There’s no real reason why Portman shouldn’t want to be with such a fine eligible chap like Kutcher’s character, and by the same token, there is no reason why he should want to be with someone who is so clearly focused on herself. I guess this doesn’t stop people in real life either, but does it really have to take the place of my beloved GHOSTBUSTERS sequels?


This is what movie titles look like now. I have seen every TWILIGHT film in a theater. I intended to see them to their conclusion. I think the reason I have stayed on so long is that vampire baseball scene in the first movie. The whole film is filled with the most unintentional ridiculousness that you’d swear some dormant comedy director from the 1980’s had come back under the guise of Catherine Hardwicke to destroy popular cinema from the inside out. I’d buy that Catherine Hardwicke was actually John Landis, because she’s remained consistently awful in the most entertaining way. But none of the films that followed ever came close to the first. I keep hope alive, however. In this one, the vampire guy and the boring girl get married and have a honeymoon on some beach where they fuck and she gets pregnant and comes to term all within a few weeks. This didn’t need to take the whole movie to come across, but it did anyway. Suffice it to say, every time I put one of these movies on the worst of list, I mention how boring the girl is and ask why every single character is so bothered to tend to her every waking need. It doesn’t get answered in this movie either. But there is a part where the very beautiful yet incredibly awkward Kristen Stewart gets in some lingerie for her man and tries to look sexy but it just comes off bizarre. I’ve never seen this happen without comedic intentions and can attest that it was worth the price of admission.


I was a fan of the first three movies. The last movie is so big and ambitious that they forgot to end things and got way confusing and weird and it’s nearly three hours long. But I consider it an effort. This movie is a cereal box. It’s Jack Sparrow being shoehorned into an adventure that concerns him very little, that even he seems bored by. I had to be reminded that Geoffrey Rush was in the movie. I had to be reminded a lot of things, it’s almost like I never saw it. Blackbeard and his daughter, Penelope Cruz (who seems to be in a different movie altogether) are in search of the fountain of youth and they need a mermaid’s tear in order to drink and capture the youthiness. They kidnap one and some missionary dude is in love with it. Where is Jack Sparrow again? A mermaid’s tear? Is Trey Parker writing this? It’s a very tired movie that goes through the motions, and Rob Marshall is not an action director. He’s a make up ad director at best. There isn’t enough eyeliner in the world that can shield you from this.


They tried to make the TWILIGHT actors into movie stars by putting them in other films. They’ve pretty much failed so far. With the vampire and boring girl, they wanted to be in indie melodrama and that didn’t work out. The muscle-y one was the only one with the brains to try to be in some big popcorn movie. So, they wrote him a big action movie in the style of THE BOURNE IDENTITY where he gets to solve a mystery and run around and kiss the girl and punch some dudes. They got John Singleton, a competent director to run the thing and it should have worked, in theory. But the whole thing felt like that movie WINDY CITY HEAT. It’s a movie made because Jimmy Kimmel tricked one of his friends into thinking he was cast as the lead in this big action movie, and the whole cast and crew were in on the joke as they kept making him think the movie they were making was real. It felt like everyone was taking the TWILIGHT kid by the hand and shoving him into each scenario. At no point did he look capable or comfortable in the spot light. He just had zero charisma or charm or mystery about him. I guess this movie gets extra points for being the one shot at a career for someone and watching them totally blow it. That comes around again later in the list.


I know you shouldn’t expect much from a late August horror release starring Aquamarine, but the villain (not the shark) of the movie explains Shark Week as inspiring his plan and greed, and that kind of work deserves to be noticed.


I love movies set in Los Angeles. I love seeing the places I’ve been to and the streets I drive on every day. This movie was shot in Tennessee. And even if it was shot here, you couldn’t tell anyway because this is one of the dustiest brown movies I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen THE BOOK OF ELI. Why do filmmakers make movies brown and hard to see? It’s like a fad. And even if you could see, the alien ships are the same alien ships you saw in: INDEPENDENCE DAY, WAR OF THE WORLDS, TRANSFORMERS, DISTRICT 9, SKYLINE, COWBOYS & ALIENS and every other movie with an alien invasion that was made in the last ten years. And even if the ships were cool and fun to look at, they’d still be blowing up some of the most boring soldiers ever written. Even the title is boring. It was designed to be boring. It’s a placeholder for FIGHTING: A PLACE. They wanted to make this a series of that kind of thing. COMBAT: NEW YORK and FRACAS: SEATTLE. Nothing new. Nothing watchable. I give it two sleep boners.


A lot of people have been surprised when I told them that this was the movie I felt was the worst one to get released in the year of our lord, 2011. I then ask them if they’ve seen it, and they always say “No”. Much like Christ, I have dealt with GREEN LANTERN so you never have to. Very rarely is a movie so devoid of any redeeming value that at least one little scrap of it isn’t worth seeing albeit for it’s unintentional humor, it’s intentional humor, it’s downright bizarreness or just plain shock. GREEN LANTERN has none of those things, or is, collectively all of those things. Nah. It truly is the soulless cash grab that it appears to be. It features a hero that nobody really likes, a villain that doesn’t really have a plan, and a vague black thing in space that…might eat Earth? Think of it this way. Would you care about Batman if he could create anything that popped into his head. And a big black cloud marked “Evil” showed up and wanted to eat everything. And then 50,000 other Batmen showed up who are all way cooler and have way more experience than he does. The character seems inherently flawed. We can be having the same conversation about IRON MAN right now, because there really isn’t much to that character, either. But that movie was elevated by the talent involved. Van Wilder and Serena Vanderwoodsen are not the talent you get behind to make something much better than what it actually is. And that’s another interesting point of the movie. Ryan Reynolds has been circling stardom for a very long time now. No one was ever sure what to do with him, but his boyish look and somewhat comedic demeanor hinted at raw star power. They tried making him a comedic foil and then the comedic darling. It didn’t work. They tried him as the romantic lead to middling results. This was his big chance at a franchise and a solidified place in Hollywood history as an action hero. This was supposed to be his summer. This was supposed to be his DIE HARD. He even had a big studio comedy scheduled for late in the summer and it was supposed to be the one two-punch that made Reynolds the new “it” boy. Even if the movie was just bad, it could still have some aftermarket value for late night viewing. But it was just so chiseled out of any personality or excitement or unique quality that the end product seems pretty blank. Everything about it seems disingenuous. Even when he’s walking around in costume, he looks like a fan photoshop. To hate this movie, is to list a staggering amount of anachronistic events and how they were conceived in a manner that would be the very most confusing. All done in a bland and unfunny way. Even just saying the two words, GREEN LANTERN together doesn’t seem to amount to any sense.

Up Next: Best of 2011! Done it much more grand fashion than I’ve ever done before! Which is to say, a timely one.

- D