Turns out the world wide theater-going audience actually has a good taste in film for once, and the box office numbers are actually showing it. Since January of this year, we’ve had a few surprise box office hits, from Leonardo Dicaprio’s Shutter Island to the surprising worldwide success of Robin Hood, which is even more shocking considering the film’s grab of $100 million in America (taking into consideration Iron Man 2 made more than that its opening weekend). I guess I’m somewhat happy that in the top place is Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” (it could be Twilight), which has been a monumental success making more than a billion dollars worldwide. Coming in close behind it (and hopefully soon eclipsing it) is Disney’s other big hit, Toy Story 3 with less than 12 million behind. Disney became the first studio ever to have two billion dollar films within the same year, and theoretically it could happen again with Tron on the horizon.
Dreamworks has brought in quite a bit of dough with Shrek Forever After, much farther behind with around $700 million dollars. The green ogre’s last (?) outing was his least profitable, but with a $500 million profit, it’s hard to complain. However, it’s after that where my nerd spirit soars. Christopher Nolan’s intellectual outing, Inception, has been a huge success from a huge gamble for Warner Bros. The studio invested well over $150 million in the project, and has so far made close to $685 million worldwide. Inception not only proved creativity can win in the end for the box office, but it can also beat out crappy franchises directed only to make a buck, like the Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which is roughly 20 million dollars behind it. Inception came out about half a month after Eclipse, so chances are very strong the brain bending masterpiece will still come out on top. It really shows what happens when you make films strictly for a market just to make money off of them (7 months between the second and third film) and on the opposite end of the spectrum what can happen when a director spends 2 years by the sweat of his brow, his creative brain muscle, and a team of incredibly talented people put their minds together. Just in case you’re wondering, the rest of the list goes as follows.
- Iron Man 2-$620 Million
- Clash of the Titans-$490 Million
- How to Train Your Dragon-$490 Million
- Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time-$330 Milion
- Robin Hood-$310 Million
Maybe this will be the turning of a new page for Hollywood. Sure Hollywood will still be Hollywood at the end of the day. Franchises will still be milked, ridiculous projects will still be announced, critical hits will go unnoticed, and sequels will be both gloriously approved and others shot down in flames (cough *Anchorman* cough). However at the same time this will open the flood gates for more films like Inception, pushing the bounds of creativity, mindful films, and more directors doing what creative people do best, making creative things. Are all of these films inspired by that creative success going to be good? Of course not, but more creative things being made by creative people isn’t a bad thing by any means…
A lot of people shudder at the mention of the name M. Night Shyamalan. While he was nominated for Best Director almost a decade ago and was proclaimed as the next Spielberg, he’s proven he’s only the next George Lucas. The man has produced… How do I put it nicely, crap over the past decade and his last piece of work, The Last Airbender, was by far his crowning achievement of crap-itude. That movie was so terrible it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Whereas a lot of people hate that film b/c of what it did to the series, I simply hated it because of what it did to the art of film making. The Last Airbender was a giant step backwards for any aspiring film maker, and is a giant example of what not to do with 300 million dollars. However, that’s neither here nor there. I remember vapidly disliking The Last Airbender, but I don’t remember saying I’d never see one of his films ever again. His newest film, Devil, is set to hit theaters in just about two weeks, and it’s slowly gearing my anticipation. The story follows a group of five strangers stuck in an elevator, one of whom is secretly Satan. For one, Shyamalan didn’t even direct the film, the film is being directed by the same director of 2008’s Quarantine, a film that received generally positive reviews. Shyamalan is simply a producer and came up with the story for the film. Thankfully he didn’t write the film or even touch the script, as that was possibly the worst part of Airbender. The film does have a really interesting premise to it, and it even has an awesome poster. It’s a little intimidating though that Shyamalan already has the sequel, a film set inside a court room, planned. Who knows, this may be the semi-redemption of Shyamalan, and as long as it doesn’t get universally negative reviews I’ll be in line to see it on release day, September 17th, 2010.
*First off, I’d like to point out this is my first post on my new Macbook. I really love this thing, it works beautifully, it sounds great for my songs in iTunes, and looks great with the beautiful screen and the backlit keyboard. If it wasn’t for Freed Hardeman University (and my incredible parents paying for my education and their tremendous support) I wouldn’t have it though, so my hat goes off to you, institution furnishing my education.
Anywho, this is a small post to give a shoutout to one of my favorite bands, Weezer. The band has been putting out albums for little over a decade now with several albums, ranging from their punk rock roots to their newer style of “we’re writing stupid lyrics and stupid songs just to spite you!” Personally, I love the new style, as it gives the band a newer, nerdier vibe. Some of the lyrics in the songs make no sense and border on comedic (“Your mom cooked meatloaf even though I don’t eat meat I dug you so much I took some for the team”). They’re by far my biggest guilty pleasure when it comes to music, it’s not “good” music, but when it comes to music that’s pretty darn fun it’s hard to beat. Their newest album, Hurley, is possibly their biggest example yet of spitting in the face of musical critics. The album is named after the LOST character Hurley, and the cover of the album (pictured above) is just a portrait of his face, no words needed or utilized. The album is setting a great tone so far (and so are some of the track names available like “Where’s My Sex?” and “All My Friends Are Insects”) and I can’t wait to listen to even more of it than I have. The unofficial anthem for the World Cup released by the band “Represent” was pretty awesome, and so is their newest single, “Memories”, which I just picked up off the iTunes Store. If you’ve never checked out the band, give them a shot if you’re in the mood for something more alternative, and it’s definitely something that can pick up your spirits in the middle of traffic jams or even in a mid-afternoon workout. the new album releases September 14th.
A lot of speculation has been revolving around Matthew Vaughn’s upcoming film X Men First Class, which begins shooting this month for a May 2011 release. The movie has a huge cast with some A-listers and some new talent, and is quickly becoming one of my most anticipated films. It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out, but in the mean time, here is a list of released information about the project, courtesy of IGN (no need to worry about spoilers).
- The two leads will be in their late twenties.
- The film is set in the late 60s, JFK is president, the civil rights movement is in effect, and the “feeling of hope” is in the air. Charles Xavier and Eric Lensherr are meeting together in the film to dream of a future where mutants can also share that hope and live peacefully.
- Xavier will NOT be in his wheelchair, but we will learn how he gets there, and he will HAVE HAIR.
- Xavier and Magneto will create the X-Men together in the film.
- Director Matthew Vaughn has stated he’s been inspired by the Bond tech of the late 60s 007 films.
- The costumes in the film will be more comic-book-ish.
- Neither Cyclops nor Marvel Girl will be in the film, but Cyclops’ brother, Havok, will be.
- Kevin Bacon will play Sebastian Shaw, and the Hellfire Club will play into the mix.
- Filming begins with Xavier at Oxford University. (Note-Does not mean that’s the first scene in the film.)
- The film will be much more international than previous films, being shot in the United States and England but also taking place (but not being shot in) Russia.
- There are other characters that are going to be in the film that haven’t been revealed yet.
I don’t know about you, but these tid bits of info have me very excited for the film and I now have a better idea of what the final product may be.
The title pretty much explains the post as you might imagine. One of my favorite game series out there is the Rock Band series, it always proves to be a great time with my friends, and I’ve clocked in many hours with The Beatles Rock Band. Below is the complete and final set list for the newest edition finally incorporating keyboard and using actual guitar controllers that teach you how to play guitar, Rock Band 3.
- Amy Winehouse – Rehab
- Anthrax – Caught In A Mosh
- At the Drive-In – One Armed Scissor
- Avenged Sevenfold – Beast and the Harlot
- B-52′s – Rock Lobster
- The Beach Boys – Good Vibrations (Live)
- Big Country – In a Big Country
- Blondie – Heart of Glass
- Bob Marley & The Wailers – Get Up, Stand Up
- The Bronx – False Alarm
- Chicago – 25 or 6 to 4
- The Cure – Just Like Heaven
- David Bowie – Space Oddity
- Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water
- Def Leppard – Foolin’
- Devo – Whip It
- Dio – Rainbow in the Dark
- Dire Straits – Walk of Life
- Doobie Brothers – China Grove
- The Doors – Break On Through
- Dover – King George
- Echo and the Bunnymen – Killing Moon
- Elton John – Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)
- Faith No More – Midlife Crisis
- Filter – Hey Man, Nice Shot
- Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1
- Foreigner – Cold as Ice
- Golden Earring – Radar Love
- HIM – Killing Loneliness
- Huey Lewis and the News – The Power of Love
- Hypernova – Viva La Resistance
- Ida Maria – Oh My God
- INXS – Need You Tonight
- J. Geils Band – Centerfold
- James Brown – I Got You (I Feel Good)
- Jane’s Addiction – Been Caught Stealing
- Jimi Hendrix – Crosstown Traffic
- Joan Jett – I Love Rock and Roll
- John Lennon – Imagine
- Juanes – Me Enamora
- Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird
- Mana – Oye Mi Amor
- Marilyn Manson – The Beautiful People
- Metric – Combat Baby
I’ll admit, that title is terrible. I did have some trouble finding a Peter Parker to Mary Jane quote for that. As many of you know, one of the projects I’ve been following very very closely and praying for it not to be a complete disaster is Marc Webb’s Spiderman reboot. With the casting of Andrew Garfield about a month and a half ago, the eyes are now turning to who will be the leading woman, Mary Jane. Below is a recently announced shortlist, along with pictures for comparison/contrast for who could be the next Mary Jane Watson in the Spiderman universe.
Imogen Poots-Besides having a funny last name, Poots *giggle*, 21 years old, has starred in the recent comic book film V for Vendetta, the horror film 28 Weeks Later, and has recently been involved in the acclaimed movie Solitary Man, and wil be in the film “Jane Eyre” next year. She grew up in the theater and now is involved in a model company. Oh and also, her middle name is gay… Gay Poots…
Ophelia Lovibond-Lovibond, age 24, has had less of a film career, starring in the John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy and will also be in the upcoming film London Boulevard along with Keira Knightly and Colin Firth.
Lily Collins-Collins, Age 21, is the daughter of legendary musician Phil Collins, and has a lot of experience in modeling, journalism, and acting from her experience in an Drama/Arts school. Recently she starred as the daughter in The Blind Side, and will be in the western/superhero/horror film “Priest”, due out by the end of the year.
Teresa Palmer-Palmer, age 24, has had quite a few acting opportunities over the years. She starred in 2008’s Bedtime Stories along with Adam Sandler, in 2006’s The Grudge 2, and very recently she was the love interest in the Nicolas Cage adventure film The Sorceror’s Apprentice.
Emma Roberts-Roberts, age 19, may be more familiar to the Nickelodeon crowd, as she was involved in UnFabulous and Drake and Josh. Over the years she’s been involved in both children and adult films, including Aquamarine, Blow, Nancy Drew, Hotel for Dogs, Valentine’s Day, a main role in Scream 4, and this year’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story, a film I am greatly anticipating.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead-If you’re one of the few that saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World with me (either at my screening as one of my friends or just seeing it on opening weekend), you got to see this actress at work as Ramona Flowers. Winstead, Age 25, has had quite an acting career and even a singing career. She had a supporting role in Sky High, a lead role in Final Destination 3, and even played Bruce Willis’ daughter in Live Free or Die Hard. Sources are saying though she may no longer be in the running.
Personally, my vote is going with Poots. I think she definitely has the look of Mary Jane, but you could also say Teresa Palmer pulls it off nicely as well. I do like the Collins girl, although she’s bordering a little on the unibrow-ish side in some of her other pictures. Who should be Mary Jane? Comment, share your opinion.
I’ve said a dozen times I love the art of making films. I love what goes into it and what comes out of it. There’s so much talent that goes behind making a film, and honestly they don’t get enough respect. Of course the head honcho behind any film is the director, and the personal style and tastes of the director can come through on a multitude of levels, transforming an average film to a masterpiece, all because that one man or woman’s sheer talent. So without any further ado, and with much deliberation on my part, here are my top fifteen favorite directors of all time.
15-JJ Abrams-This guy barely made my list, as I’ve only seen a couple of his projects. The guy has a cult status for creating hit series like Lost and Alias, among others, and has some serious nerd cred. However, my experience and favor towards him comes from his work in both the Star Trek reboot and Cloverfield, two films that had a human element to them amongst a larger than life scenario. Cloverfield was a terrifying film backed by a genius concept, and Star Trek was one of the smartest and yet most fun films I’ve gotten to see over the years. Plus, there’s a lot of promise in his film to come, Super 8.
14-Sam Raimi-Raimi of course was the leading mind behind the Spiderman trilogy, and based his fame on the Bruce Campbell Evil Dead franchise. His unique style that you can see in those films, along with the spectacularly campy job he delivered in the Spiderman series, is the reason this director holds such a special place in my movie-going heart. I grew up with the Spiderman film series, in fact it’s one of the reasons I love film as much as I do. However, I also enjoyed his delightfully morbid and old-school take in the 2009 horror film, Drag Me to Hell.
13-Steven Spielberg-When it comes to making great action films, one director’s name always springs to mind quickly, and that name is none other than Steven Spielburg. His legacy is legendary in the film community, and he has inspired many of our current filmmakers. The main reason he’s so low on the list is mainly because I never connected quite as much as others have with his material, but I can still respect an amazing filmmaker. Having directed War of the Worlds, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and countless other films, few directors have a reputation quite like him.
12-Jason Reitman-Reitman made his name very recently with films like Juno and Up in the Air, both of which are great movies in my book and deserve a look. Reitman has a certain way of writing dialogue and crafting characters that no other director can really do quite the same way. You care about these people on a different level, they’re quirky, mean, and witty, but at the same time you love them.
11-Edgar Wright-Very recently I saw and loved Wright’s newest film “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”, and I absolutely loved it. The same goes for the rest of Wright’s filmmography, including Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. Both are fantastic films, and are great showcases for Wright’s unique sense of style and humor, along with the simple fact the man has a knack for filmmaking. Don’t believe me? Check out any of his action scenes and check to see if your jaw doesn’t drop. The man is poised to take over the industry as one of the next generation’s leading filmmakers.
10-Morgan Spurlock-Now this guy I respect on a different level. On top of making one of my favorite documentaries of all time, this guy subjected himself to 30 days of horribly unhealthy food for each of his meals, all in the name of science and exposing the truth. It also does hurt that both of his films, Supersize Me and Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden are audaciously entertaining and pack a whallop of a message.
9-Zac Snyder-I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for slo-mo. Snyder has been on the scene for almost a decade now, and has already made some of my favorite films of my life time. His war epic 300 is now basically the template for my high school’s yearbook, and was all we could talk about for months. Watchmen was a fantastic adaptation oozing with style and good ol fashioned great filmmaking, reinventing the style of a classic crime noir while still serving the source material with good faith.
8-Peter Jackson-Let’s face it. When a director can film the un-film-able, break the trilogy curse once and for all, and create some of the most iconic moments of fantasy film of our time, you are obligated to take your hat off to him. Jackson had an unbelievable knack for perfectly replicating epic battle sequences in all three Lord of the Rings films, and is now one of the most respected and most wanted directors in the industry. Although the guy had quite a misstep with The Lovely Bones, I can’t wait to see what this director can do next.
7-Martin Scorsese-Although I’ve missed a number of his more acclaimed works, I immensely respect Martin Scorsese. The man has a thing for twist endings in his films that make legitimate sense and take your breath away, turning the film and its audience on its head by the time the credits roll. To this day The Departed stands as my favorite crime film of all time thanks to its ultimate depiction of the rivalry between cops and gangs along with its colorful cast full of talented acting veterans. This year’s mind-bending thriller, Shutter Island also successfully blew my mind in the best way possible.
6-Judd Apatow-I believe I stated it earlier in one of my comedy reviews, but Judd Apatow is by far the king of the current generation of comedy. Having directed a handful of films like Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin and Funny People, and having a hand in almost every other funny thing that’s happened in the past 10 years, Apatow definitely has an eye for the art. My favorite thing about his style, however, remains to be his ability to craft sweet characters and gripping, emotional situations inside raunchy humor and ridiculously laughable scenarios. That takes talent.
5-Joel and Ethan Coen-The Coen Brothers could literally have any job they wanted in Hollywood. The two have been respected filmmakers for decades now, and continue to churn out classics like Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, and this year’s film being released in December, True Grit starring Jeff Bridges. The two have an eye for storytelling with at times irreverent humor, and can create some real emotion, whether that’s laughter or gripping terror as we see a relentless bounty hunter stalk a Texas man in my favorite film of their’s, No Country for Old Men. The movie has a bleak style to it that I can’t get enough of, and blends the old school Western/Cat and Mouse vibe just enough with new school suspense techniques and shooting of action to create an instant classic.
4-Quentin Tarantino-Few filmmakers have the cajones to do what Tarantino does best. Why choose between stylish wit and storytelling? Why can’t we have both? Many of Tarantino’s films are “self-indulgent” to some, having an odd sense of editing that isn’t proud or arrogant, it’s just his way of doing things. Tarantino will tell many stories at once that often interweave in his films like Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds, giving the audience 20-30 minutes of dialogue and odd exposition at a time before bursting in with a grisly violent attack or big comedic/action sequence. He sort of broke this standard of interweaving storylines with the Kill Bill Two-Parter, but the Tarantino we know was still there with some scenes that went on forever. Only one filmmaker can get away with a scene having two characters talk about the characteristics of rats for 20 minutes before we meet the main characters, and that man is Quentin Tarantino.
3-Alfred Hitchcock-There are few scenes in horror films that can genuinely scare me. Sure there are jump scares in a lot of films that modern directors use to scare people lifeless, but when it came to a Hitchcock film, you were in for a treat. While I’ve never gotten to see some of his bigger films like Vertigo, Rear Window, or North by Northwest, I have gotten to see two of his classics, Psycho and The Birds. The man knows his suspense, and can build characters and fear in a way no other director could in his time. Nothing tops that scene of sheer terror as Sam enters Norman Bates’ basement, turns the chair, sees the corpse, and in a split second we figure out the entire mystery in a haunting way.
2-Mel Brooks-Although Hitchcock was a man of adventure and suspense, Brooks was a figure of comedy, and quite possibly was the best comedic director of all time. Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles, along with Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Silent Movie! are all comedy gems that deserve to be seen. In a sense Brook invented the spoof genre, as even in 1974 Brooks understood the concept of creating a real movie that just so happened to be making fun of tons of other cliches in the genre. And admit it, you busted out in laughter too when you saw Mongo punch the horse in the face that first time, didn’t you?
1-Christopher Nolan-This comes as no surprise to many of you. Christoper Nolan has been making films for little over a decade now, and even in that short span of time I could consider 4 of his movies in my Top Ten. Nolan has an eye for story like no other, crafting a sense of suspense along with a sense of wonder, creating a world in each and every one of his films, giving his characters meaning and purpose, and shocking each and every one of us by the very end. After seeing each of his films I’m not quite sure what I’ve seen, but I do know that I loved it. The Prestige, Inception, and The Dark Knight stand out as my current favorites of the director, and each one earns its spot for a different reason. There’s an obvious sense of time and effort that goes into making his films, and it shows. Each one has a style to it and a complex mythology that combines with a unique story to build and build into a modern classic. Out of all the directors today, I can truly see Nolan’s films being viewed decades from now as some of the classics of our generation.
Every now and again there’s a film that makes me love being a film geek. Whether it’s the ageless wonder of the science fiction classic Back to the Future or even new classics that call back to the old days of crime capers like The Brothers Bloom, sometimes it’s simply easy to love film. Thankfully, Edgar Wright’s newest film is not only one of the finest examples of the idea, but also a hysterically original adventure that proved to be irreverently entertaining. The film takes place Toronto, Canada, where 23 year old Scott Pilgrim is pretty well content living the life of playing in the band “Sex Bomb-Omb” and dating a girl in high school. Soon there after Scott begins a secret affair with the mysterious Ramona Flowers, and reluctantly initiates a series of battles with her seven evil exes, Matthew Patel, Lucas Lee, Todd Ingram, Roxy Richter, The Katayanugi Twins, and Gideon Graves. Over the past decade Wright has made his name on the comedic genius of the duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost from their work in both Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, and I was really interested to see Wright involve himself with a different cast that was mostly not British like himself. Whenever I first started recommending the film after I saw it, one of the first questions I was asked was “Is Michael Cera still playing Michael Cera?” I personally have always liked Cera’s work, and I’ve always thought Cera’s playing different characters each time, but he as a person comes off in a certain way. As Scott Pilgrim though in the lead role, Cera plays the naive nature of the character almost perfectly. Matthew Patel, Jason Schwartzman, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, the Saito Brothers, and Mae Whitman all play their “Evil Ex” characters delightfully over the top and bring personality to each one. It feels like it was each of their own dreams to play a bad guy in a movie some day, and their performances are pure wish fulfillment, which is a sheer joy. Both Routh and Evans seemed to have the most fun bringing their characters to life in some of the best comedic scenes in the film, and had some standout lines. On Scott’s side of the fence was another fierce batch of acting talent. Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) got some girlish squeals of laughter from me in how dark and brooding her character could be at times and how Wright played with that, and I continue to love Anna Kendrick, even as she plays a completely different character from her amazing role in Up in the Air, as Scott’s sister. Marc Webber, Johny Simmons, and Erik Knudsen have some fine moments of comedic glory, but both Ellen Wong as Knives Chau and Allison Pill as Sex Bomb Omb’s Drummer brought the heat in some brilliantly comedic moments in the film. Keiran Culkan also killed as Scott’s homosexual roommate, interjecting great lines at the beginning of Evil Ex fights and playing perfect deadpan off of Scott. In case you couldn’t tell from the trailers or TV spots, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has a visual style all its own. In case you haven’t seen the videos and have no clue what I’m talking about, phones literally go “ring”, punches are visibly seen with words like “smack” and “crash”, and there are video game and television references galore like a constant callback to Street Fighter during each of the fights, and a couple of references to television shows like Seinfeld. The callbacks and incorporation of it into the film as a structure of story transcends the idea of a gimmick and brings the film onto its own playing field. The visual style of the film is nothing like you’ve ever seen before, and the film never uses it as a crutch, but uses it to enhance their storytelling, taking a film with a lot of heart and making it twice as cool. Other directors would ignore the core story there in favor of the visual flourishes, but with Wright style comes second, and gets as much attention as the already blooming tale being told. Just like Gondry with Eternal Sunshine, the main focus has to be the love story here, if that fails, so does everything else. Tons of attention goes into making the love story between Scott and Ramona feel believable, and the same goes for making his relationships with his friends and family strong but at the same time gut-bustingly funny. The film doesn’t just use the visual pizazz to strengthen it’s story, it also uses it in a variety of dream sequences with some throwaway gags and some truly unique jokes. I won’t spoil any, but there are some great laughs to be had when Edgar Wright stretches his brain skin. The visual style of the film hooked me from the get go, after the opening credits I turned to my friend and said “I already love this movie”. Thanks to the quick nature of the references and the already quick style that comes with making a video game-like film, the film moves at a hyper speed from scene to scene and character line to character line. I loved this about the film even though it was disorienting at times, and I can’t wait to check back in with multiple viewings to see all there was to see. That being said, some of the more geriatric viewing audience may fairly use this to hate the film, and that’s understandable. The movie moves quick with bright colors, quick lines, and quick edits, and while some may not be, I certainly am the perfect audience for the film. Although I was all for the quick and fantastical, over-the-top feel for the movie, there were a few moments that broke the illusion for me. There were a few moments in the film that just came off as “odd” to me when it came to some of the dream sequences and a moment or two from some of the fights. It felt just a tad bit out of tone. Moving on, the film scored some major points with me, being a major action film geek, by delivering on the high expecations when it came to the action. One of, if not my favorite action scene of all time comes from 2007’s Hot Fuzz where Simon Pegg takes on a town of elderly people with shotguns and rifles, and the entire thing is choreographed beautifully. The fight scenes never quite achieve that level of action magnitude (and being fair, Hot Fuzz never achieved this creative level), but they are entirely their own creation. Each fight scene has its own vibe and taste, sending Scott into a different situation and type of fight, whether it’s hand to hand, fireballs, or tricking the Evil Ex into submission. However, Wright proves his ability as a director by filming the fights impeccably, giving us a great view of the action. It would have been great alone if they had just done the same action scenes over and over, but the way he interjects his style and humor into the fights is un-matched in today’s club of filmmakers. It’s also evident a lifetime and a half went into the music work for the film. All of the times Sex Bomb-Omb gets to perform had me tapping my foot as the band was genuinely great and had a unique sound to them, and other musicians like Brie Larson get to perform. Who can forget also that songs by classic bands like The Rolling Stones are thrown in for good measure, and the score for the film is suitably hypnotic. In case you’re still wondering if I loved Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the answer is an enthusiastic “yes”. Not enough people saw this film last weekend as it was totally released on the wrong weekend only scoring $10 million of its $60-$90 million budget. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it out though, the film is an absolute blast and is determined to be a cult classic. The movie is bursting with ambition and brilliance in both its comedic references and gorgeous action that manages to use the video game style to its own benefit. Also, who can forget there’s a great love story there too. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a film made for our generation of technology, video games and film. One reviewer put it best when he stated that it’s a teen film that defines our generation, and I couldn’t agree more. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is one of the most original films I’ve seen in quite a long time, it’s a love letter to this generation, hand-crafted by this generation, and tells a story we can all appreciate in a bold, new, and daring way unlike any we’ve ever seen. This is just like a number of films, telling the classic story of boy meets girl, boy must defeat seven evil exes. It’s a classic, right?
4 stars out of 4
For the first time in a long time I actually put together a video for one of my favorite shows, Chuck, set to the Frightened Rabbit single “Living in Color”. There are a couple of quick video changes that I didn’t like but overall it came out pretty well. Hope you enjoy it.
Stop me if you’ve heard this joke. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke, Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger all walked into a bar, and they decided to make a movie about it. The bloody, testosterone-fueled macho child of a film is the punchline. To test and see if you would like this film, examine this piece of dialogue, directly quoted from the film. Steve Austin-“How many men do you bring with you?” Sylvester Stallone-“Just your mom.” Maybe you didn’t laugh at that, but maybe you chuckled in your head. Now imagine the Old Spice Odor Blocker Body Wash guy dressed in all black mowing down a ton of thunder brigade soldiers with the biggest shotgun you’ve ever seen, afterwards screaming to his teammates “Don’t ya’ll forget ‘dat at Christmas!”. If that is what you would define as “awesome”, then The Expendables is just the film you’ve been looking for as if you couldn’t already guess. The Expendables is macho energy piled on macho energy that provides for a film experience that may not be the sharpest knife in the gallery, but it’s a film with a cast like no other that couldn’t be assembled by anyone but Sylvester Stallone, the godfather of action films, and boy does he put the emphasis on the action.
The film follows a group of mercenaries, and as you might have guessed, they’re called The Expendables. After a former CIA operative has went rogue and taken control of an elite drug operation, it’s up to the Expendables, who by no means are afraid to get their hands dirty, to go under the radar and clean up the mess. In case you’ve missed the blatant nature of the posters, television spots, and the diamond-studded trailers, this film is built on its cast. Sylvester Stallone, being the writer and director as well, leads the way with his completely incoherent dialect (I think Dolph hit him too hard in Rocky 3), and considering he’s 64 years old only makes it that more amazing that he could kill any other cast member with his bare hands. Jet Li has some pretty great moments and seems like he’s the only member of the team that knows martial arts, and UFC Fighter Randy Couture has his moment in the sun as well. Mickey Rourke pops in occasionally in an odd feeling southern accent considering we heard him 3 months ago indistinguishably as a Russian, and the modern day action super star Jason Statham pulls the main emotional arc of the movie. Eric Roberts plays the cheesy 80s action villain like it was his second nature, and one of my favorites Stone Cold Steve Austin kicked some considerable tail. My favorite though by the end of the film though remained Terry Crews as the humorous “Hale Ceasar”, who comes off terrifying when he’s wielding a gun that’s even bigger than him. A cast like this only comes around once in a blue moon, and Stallone makes full use of it. It’s almost like that time in Who Framed Roger Rabbit when you see Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse together, only Stallone could bring all the modern day action stars under one roof in the name of kicking butt and taking names. The action in the film takes full advantage of the R rating. There are some huge action shots you’d have to see to believe. Blood shoots in multiple directions, bodies get broken in half, people burn, bones are very visibly broken, it’s everything you could ask for. Stallone proves he’s a master of his craft with shots of action that left my theater in utter disbelief that almost put us into an awesome-induced coma. Hand-to-hand, gun play, larger than life airplane fights and firefights with hundreds of men, it’s all second nature, just like breathing to Stallone and his crew in front of and behind the camera. It’s like a giant Christmas present to fans that grew up with First Blood, Rocky, Die Hard, or even now with UFC or just the folks that like the Old Spice commercials. It’s not really something I can explain, it’s just something any action fan should witness in a crowded room of other action fans.
If there’s something I could complain about, it’s Stallone’s odd choices of camera angles in the film. My film nerd over powered by 10 year old self long enough to notice he gets some odd close ups to some of the actor’s faces during exposition. We get it Mickey Rourke has more gaps in his face than the Grand Canyon, we got it Stallone. Also, although it was less of a problem than it could have been, the film’s action pieces suffer a little bit from disorient-ia, shaking and moving back and forth a little too much to tell exactly what’s going on 100% of the time. One of my favorite aspects of the film is, as if you couldn’t tell from the poster, its machismo flair. I came close to using the term “B Movie”, but by no means when you have Stallone and Willis in the same room do you use that term without having your spine removed. There were moments I just laughed at the macho-ness of situations (there’s a lot of scenes of “guy talk” in the expendables’ own “man cave” which turns out to be a garage), and of course they have all of their own bikes, tattoos with the skull/raven combo, and their own flipping war plane that acts as their own steroid-induced mystery machine. This film couldn’t play major league baseball mainly b/c it couldn’t pass a drug test, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It harkens back to the simpler times of action movies where it is just as simple as “here’s the bad guy, here’s the romance, here’s the cheesy dialogue, here’s the awesome finale with the good guy/bad guy showdown”, and there’s not a problem with that. Even though I sort of wished the story could have been a little more complicated than it was and fleshed out just a tad bit more, there’s not much wrong with a straight-forward action movie that gives fans exactly what they want. Also, just in case you were wondering, the Bruce Willis/Governator cameo is one of the best scenes in the film. It has a one liner that had our theater in hysterics, and getting to see ol’ Schwarzenegger emerge through those doors, the light shining around him, the way Stallone knows that you know that moment is so unbelievably awesome, brought me back to my child hood as he looked almost exactly like he did in Terminator 2. Just think, you get to see Rambo, John McClane, and The Terminator all in one room. The Expendables is a super easy film to recommend. If you like the trailer, you’ll love the film. If you wanna see any person that’s ever been in an action film lately beat up South American guys, this is the film for you. If you wanna see Rocky and Ivan Drago team up with the Old Spice Guy and the Transporter, pay the $8.75 and see by far one of the most satisfying action films that brings me back to my days of being a ten year old, even though my dad would never have let me watched this at ten years old.
3 stars out of 4
(*Disclaimer-I’ve switched to the Leonard Maltin style of scoring out of 4 stars for the time being, it just felt a little more professional I guess. I may switch back eventually, just gonna try this out.)
You’re an agent sent by the United States Central Intelligence Agency to be an undercover operative in a Russian terrorist group. You’re working with them on their biggest mission yet, and one that is going to change the course of history. You ride with them up a few levels in an elevator, priming your weapon. The doors open, you step out, and your comrades begin to open fire on an enormous crowd of unarmed, innocent civilians in the Moscow International Airport. You never have to fire your gun until the end of the mission to advance, but you see the damage your team is leaving. Men and women are scrambling for their lives, and soon the law enforcement officials arrive to stop you. You fight throw the resistance, obliterate a few riot shield-ed officers, and you begin to make your escape. That is, until your leader shoots you point blank in the head, leaving you to die, as he knew you were a mole all along, and pinning a massive tragedy on the shoulders of the United States of America. This entire situation is played in the first person perspective, with the player in complete control, and is one of the strongest moments in the game, not to mention one of the strongest supports of how beautifully cinematic Modern Warfare 2 can be.
The game takes place a number of years after the original. After an undercover U.S. soldier is pinned with a mass murder, the United States becomes a war zone as an elite group of soldiers both new and familiar go on what seems like a suicide mission to clear their country’s name and save the world. Much like the first game, you’re placed in the shoes of two different soldiers. On one end you play as Ranger Ramirez, a soldier under the supervision of U.S. Sergeant Foley. In his campaign you’re constantly defending the home front in locales like the White House and Hotel Whiskey, taking the battle to the troops invading our own turf. However, the real action is in the campaign following a newbie soldier code-named “Roach”. The campaign’s a lot like the role of “Soap” in the first game as you’re guy is totally new to the business and what’s happening around him, not to mention you never see his face. Speaking of Soap, he turns out to be your commanding officer in this game, and it turned out he had a mohawk! Soap, Roach, Ghost, and other soldiers go through a variety of missions that range from the desert, to the snowy mountains, to Rio De Janeiro, and many other locales to do the dirty work behind this global firefight. One of my favorite parts that seemed to break ground back in 2007 of the original were these enormous, cinematic moments in the game. Something big and exciting would happen, all the while you’re still in your first person view, having a realistic perspective on all that’s going on. If there’s one thing Infinity Ward did with this sequel, it was making these moments bigger and better. Not to give anything away, but there are some unbelievably awesome moments in this game that give you the feeling like you are one of the top soldiers in the world. There are moments that infringe on your love of the characters around you, that inspire you with their scale, and at times once they’re over, you’re double-taking to make sure you did what you just did. Not only are some of these moments just action, they can also pack emotions of sheer terror, compassion, and patriotism. All within the confines of a video game. The game also provides some great moments in terms of the diverse number of locations you get to visit. There are times when you’ll be knee deep in snow in stealth missions, sweating in the heat of Brazil looking out for enemies on the rooftops, or even repelling into an enemy base in the height of enormous desert-ous mountains. Another aspect the game trounces the original in is the volume of the story it tells. The first game had a huge story with a big impact, spanning multiple decades and mainly telling the story of one particular Captain, but by the time you reach the half way point in this game you feel the desire to win this war thanks to some haunting imagery and the terror you realize these global terrorists have created. Let’s just say it’s huge, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. One thing I really liked about the original was its cast of characters. Following Captain Price, Gaz, and the rest of your crew, you felt a connection to all of them and you felt remorse whenever one of your teammates fell in the heat of battle. In this game I don’t feel like as much work went into crafting the team as there was in crafting the amazing cinematic moments. By the end of the game I had connected to one or two of the squad-mates the game allows you to get to know like Soap or Sgt. Foley, but I never had a sense of a team like I did in the other.
Modern Warfare 2 may also be the best-looking game I’ve ever played. All of the character models, environments, and even the weapons have some immense detail put into them and have a graphical sheen like no other. Don’t even get me started on the work visibly seen in the shadow work, absolutely gorgeous. The voice cast, much like the original, is still better than ever. Each voice actor has that ” ‘Merica!” gruffy voice but they don’t over do it. It’s like macho-ness without the Sylvester Stallone. It almost feels like you’re in the middle of a summer blockbuster film. It’s even worth mentioning that the weapons are delightfully diverse. One second you’ll be shotgunning, the next you’ll be taking out 10 soldiers at a time with actual predator missiles. By the end you’ll have your favorites, and it’s oh so rewarding. Even though it’s not my favorite part of the game, the multiplayer is also vastly improved with a lot of insanely great maps and a new leveling system that will add tons of new value to fans of the series. The campaign is still a little short, but it’s hard to complain when you’re getting so much bang for your buck. Modern Warfare 2 is a mammoth of a game. So much thought and care went into making this game bigger and better than the original, and on the most part they succeed. There are more explosive moments, shinier graphics, bigger scope, even though there’s a little less heart when it comes to your teammates. There are enough miraculously cool moments to fill a Michael Bay movie, and it’s one of gaming’s biggest achievements of the action genre.
9.75 out of 10
One of my favorite games from the past decade was Bioshock, an adventurous game that proved to be one of the biggest storytelling games of our time. If you haven’t played it yet, play it or I’ll hit you with a shovel, it’s that good. After the sequel earlier this year, 2K Games has announced the sequel to the game, Bioshock: Infinite. The game takes place about 12 years before the original Bioshock in 1912. Not taking place in Rapture, the game follows a detective as he seeks to rescue a mysterious girl with mysterious powers in “Columbia”, the city in the sky. However, it’s going to be a little harder to do considering the natives, who look vaguely like Big Daddies, are going to try their best to hold onto her. The trailer looks ah-mazing, and is easily one of my most anticipated game in the next few years. Watch the trailer, dribble a little, but don’t get too excited b/c the game isn’t set for release until 2012.
The best thing I know Nintendo for is innovation. The company emerged on the scene with one of the first widespread hit home gaming consoles, created arguably the best known video game character known of all time, and continues to defy expectations with the birth of motion control in games, an innovation other publishers are now playing catch-up to. One of the best examples of this innovation was 2007’s Super Mario Galaxy. Unlike most games it had me glued to my controller and I played it all the way through. The game broke new ground for the platforming genre by literally giving us new worlds to explore that challenged our perceptions of gravity and what phenomenally creative things you can do with just a little Italian plumber and a kidnapped princess. 3 years later, and now we have the sequel to the game, Super Mario Galaxy, wait for it… 2. The game takes place some time after the ends of #1, and Peach is yet again kidnapped by Bowser as part of another one of his dastardly schemes. You don’t come to a Mario game for a story, you come to the table to see what Miyamoto and his team have done new to re-invent the game once again. This time, they brought plenty.
At first, with the same coat of paint and the same game mechanics, I felt like “Oh, this is just gonna be an add on with a few new levels to make fans happy and catch up on a few missed opportunities by Nintendo”, but by the end of it I enjoyed this game more than the original. The game provides true platforming genius, with a surprise around every turn. The game will frequently alter your perception of gravity, have you considering the depth of a planet, or consider the gravity of our favorite plumber himself. It may sound like a really nerdy math equation of a game, but it’s often thrilling to not know what could happen next. The game succeeds the other in terms of sheer variety as well on a number of levels. The game introduces Yoshi into the mix, which with the polished nature of control and feel Nintendo provides, works perfectly. Yoshi feels like second nature in the game, and gives you that pure sense of “Yoshi” as you run through courses like mad thanks to the fire berry, use his abilities to take out enemies or reach new platforms with his “tongue-y” skills. The game brings in a plethora of new power-ups for Mario. Forget your grandma’s fire flower, Mario brought a new bag of tricks. The cloud suit has to be my personal favorite for it’s variety of uses, but the drill, bee, spring, and ground/ball/roll thing come in handy in their own time. There are also a variety of tasks to do aside from making it to the end of the level. The Skill Chimp will challenge you to a number of games that are addictively infuriating, and my new favorite addition remains as the flight challenges using a multi-colored bird.
It’s also arguable that this stands as the best looking Wii game out there. Nintendo does it best at taking advantage of the Wii’s limited graphical ability with some absolutely breath-taking environments, some gorgeous character designs, and some awesome sense of scale when it comes to facing down some of the game’s biggest and baddest bosses. Like its predecessor, Mario Galaxy 2 ups the ante with some gigantic bosses that are a thrill not only to finally see a power star come out of but also just in finding a way to beat them. It almost feels like a favor when you get to replay the boss level, that is until it becomes infuriatingly obvious you’re never, ever going to beat it. With a three year gap between the two games, it’s evident Nintendo wasted no time in polishing the rest of the game off. Menus, the hub world, and planet navigation are all polished so finely you can almost see it sparkle off of your screen, and it makes the game a lot easier to figure out thanks to a very helpful access of which stars are left to collect and exactly when prankster comets or other special occasions will arrive. Nintendo’s known for its quality in game design, but Mario Galaxy 2 makes it feel like they’re bragging in the best way possible by just how good everything works in the game. The platforming is the best on the market, the rest of the game is polished to a point, and there’s just enough new material in there to keep veterans begging for more. Also, in an aspect that I can appreciate more than others, Mario Galaxy 2 is immensely re-playable. It’ll give you severe insomnia as you search for every last one of those stars, and the visionaries at Nintendo found a way to, by the end of the game, make you crave to start all over again. If there’s anything I could complain about with this game, it’s that it does feel a tad bit like an expansion. Even with all the new improvements and game-play tweaks, there’s that part in my brain that couldn’t tell the games apart 5% of the time. Also, this may not have been the case for others, but it took me a while to warm up to the game. The first few worlds are the best examples of the game’s creativity, and you sorta have to give the game time to gradually blow your mind over time. I have no trouble recommending Super Mario Galaxy 2 to absolutely anyone. In fact, I would have trouble sleeping at night if I didn’t, it’s a game you cannot miss. There’s something here for everyone, for the folks that grew up with Mario’s NES roots to the smaller ones just now learning what gaming’s all about, Super Mario Galaxy is a wonder to behold, and is as close to perfect as I’ve seen in some time.
9.75 out of 10
Without a doubt one of the staples of the action genre of the past 50 years has been James Bond, 007. The character has been around countless years as a character in the series of novels by Ian Flemming, and has been in the more popular film series since 1962, with nearly 8 different men playing the super spy, with 11 different directors and their own takes, and 22 different films ranging from the revitalizing to the embarrassing. Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan have all recited the famous line “The name’s Bond… James Bond” in their own place and time, but it wasn’t until the newest revisit of the series with Daniel Craig did I become hooked.
The great thing about the series is that with each new film (most of the time) came an entirely new story. None of the films are “sequels” in the traditional sense of the word, as they’re all just spy stories with different villains and different women for each go-round, making for a classic film formula. I was a little too young with Brosnan/Tamahori’s “Die Another Day” took off in 2002, and revisiting it I’ve come to dislike Brosnan’s cheesier take on the character. Sure he looks just like you think Bond would, but the guy can’t really act. However, in 2006 came the newest rendition with British actor Daniel Craig and American Action director Martin Campbell taking the reins. The film acts as sort of a prequel, as James Bond in the beginning of the film isn’t even 007 yet. The film follows his first few missions as Judi Dench’s character “M” has to hassle with Bond’s happy trigger finger and his reluctance to follow by the rules and seemingly draw as much attention as possible to his explosive outings. That relationship between the two was really funny to watch, and felt genuine and in a sense fresh to that world. Martin Campbell directed the heck out of that movie, giving the action scenes the realistic grittiness, epic scale of fights, and quick cut action fans like me craved for, so that with each hit, fall, scrape, or gunshot you actually felt like Bond was in danger and not this invincible god-like agent many viewed him as. At the end of each fight he didn’t brush the hair out of his eyes and sip a martini, he had gashes of blood, dirt in his hair and on his clothes, and to be honest a rude displacement, mainly because he had almost lost his life. When he’s asked if he wants his drink “shaken or stirred”, he tells them it doesn’t even matter, and he doesn’t even say the line “the name’s Bond… James Bond” until the final credits start to roll. Trust me though, it was entirely worth it. Martin Campbell and the writers even kill James Bond in a sense about 3/4 of the way through the film in a frightening scene of deadly poker. The film also centered around the idea that Bond would actually form a lasting relationship with a woman, Vesper Lynn, who also worked for the CIA. By the end of the film Vesper dies in a really quick scene that a lot of people didn’t see coming, and the result is a Bond that we did see human for a split second, reduced again to the cold-hearted agent we all knew. Sam Mendes directed the first ever direct sequel in the film franchise with 2008’s Quantum of Solace. The film wasn’t mind-blowing in the sense that Casino Royale was, but the film was still greatly enjoyable and tied up the loose ends from the first movie, including why Vesper was working for the wrong people at the end of the film and who exactly these people were running the terrorist organization. The film had a certain scope about action scenes and took Bond and a new female mate (not a love interest mind you), Camille Montes. The film had a feel of its own and was totally enjoyable.
However, now it seems that the sequel to that film may never come. There was quick talks of writers, ideas for the film, and who would star, but due to many financial woes by MGM Studios, the film has been put on an “indefinite suspension”. Daniel Craig has been signed on for the film and a fourth film if the time arose, and so had Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, and Camille Montes for their respective roles. The film was set to resolve some of the other questions raised in Quantum of Solace, and was described to include “shocking” events by one of the writers. Shooting was to commence in New York, and even introduce the gadget creator Q, often played by John Cleese. However when you look at it, both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace were expensive films to make. Casino Royale cost $150 million to make whereas Quantum of Solace cost a whopping $200 million. Even though MGM made far more than their money back on both of the movies, $200-$250 million is a hard pill to swallow when your studio is on the verge of bankruptcy and a number of your projects are also at the starting line but forced into development limbo. While Sam Mendes is currently without a project, Daniel Craig is moving on to different roles for the time being, which makes it even harder to get the ball rolling on this one. Who knows what could happen. I would love to see this film get made, I was a huge fan of the other two, and would be there day one to support it. Even though it’s by no means the death of the franchise, it could be another 3-4 years before we get to see James Bond die another day…
(SPOILERS) I owe this film an apology. Back in April/May I believe I gave the film a pretty hard time and maybe a 3.5/5. A 7 out of 10 isn’t that bad, in fact it’s a “good but not great” in my book. But after re-visiting the film on DVD, the film is no less than a modern cinematic marvel of both action and the superhero genre. In case you forgot from the last review, the film’s all about taking the idea of vigilante-ism to it’s logical conclusion. They explore the idea that sure, anyone can be put on a pair of tights and become a superhero without the need for a bug bite or super rich dead parents, but in the end, you’re going to get killed. Tired of his boring life, Dave (Aaron Johnson) sets out to be the next Spider-Man and, you guessed it, gets beaten within an inch of his life. Soon he come into contact with the other superhero duo Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), and quickly gets in over his head with the likes of a dangerous mob head (Mark Strong). I remember saying this before, but I’ll definitely say it again, the cast in the film is spectacular and practically makes the film. Aaron Johnson upholds the believability that helps create the mood for the film and the resulting tension, and Mark Strong is aptly slimy and just as stereotypical as his role would call for. Christopher Mintz-Plasse does a fine job with the screen time he’s given, but the real stars on the second run through were Cage and Moretz. Cage plays up the Adam West persona in an inspiring way, and proves equally hysterical and an intimidating figure when you take into account he takes out 8-10 guys at once sometimes in the film. Hit Girl is the star of the film, dropping the “c word” and “f word” at will and brutally dismembering enemies, it’s an odd delight to witness. Plus, she’s the backbone of some of the film’s awesome action set pieces. The corridor scene toward the end where Hit Girl takes out goon after goon to get to Frank’s office is almost like a ballet full of rip cord assisted suicides and back stabbings. From the cheek-shooting downstairs to the finale with the jetpack (although I wasn’t a fan at first of that particular element) there’s a crap ton of work going into these scenes in the shooting, the framing, the placement, and the different levels of the fights including their own distinct geography. The apartment scene works as both a horrific action piece and a comedic achievement all in one (Dave’s reaction shots are something to witness), the action piece involving Big Daddy is filled with the appropriate testosterone and bone-crushing reality of how bitter his character is, but the real achievement was the rescue scene involving Big Daddy’s death. The film goes from “good” to “wow” once you see the culmination of nightvision FPS shooting, strobe light/gun fire illumination firing, and the final moments of Big Daddy still giving his “sidekick” instructions like “Now switch to Kryp-to-nite!!!” even in his final moments. The film has some beautiful photography, there were times I had trouble believing I was watching a DVD with the crisp detail and the vivid colors of some of the environments and costumes. Like I said, the film is hysterical and often times bone-chillingly violent, definitely not for the younger kids, obviously. The film is paced in a great way, constantly moving us from scene to scene in a quick way that doesn’t ever drag it’s feet from moving between action pieces and the expertly-written dialogue between its characters. There’s a lot of real emotion to these characters, and a lot of care went into making them feel real (even the gleefully violent nature of Hit Girl, a character who’s human nature could have easily been lost with a different script. The ideas and questions Dave is presenting make you wonder yourself, and his resolution at the end feels fitting. Hit Girl and Big Daddy’s relationship feels a tad bit more human than in the comic book, and it captures that spirit better that he’s trained this girl from a young age just to be a killing machine. There’s a lot of psychological stuff behind that, and you get the sense that even she doesn’t fully grip the principle of death even when her own father dies. She’s been brainwashed from a young age, and you completely get that sense in the film, which works astonishingly well. When it comes to comparing the film to the graphic novel, at first I had a lot of problems with how the film changes things up. In the comic we don’t know Red Mist is Frank’s son until the very end and that worked on it’s own level for a huge surprise, but in the film it works in its own way because if it had been played like that the character of Frank would have felt less real and so would have Red Mist. The death of Big Daddy is changed up in the film as well, having him burn to death rather than be killed execution style in the comic. This ends up changing a lot of things by the end of the movie, but both the comic and film have their own qualities. I liked the idea that there’s a big showdown with all the three characters in the comic, but I like how they used it in a different way to create an entirely new action scene that had its own dramatic weight in the film. Plus, the way they re-craft the final action scene in the film was pure awesome, and it builds and builds until we reach the peak of how awesome this movie is. I wasn’t a big fan of the jetpack originally, but I came to accept it and even like it in the film. Within the context of the film, it makes complete sense for them to only be able to escape that heavily fortified building with a jet pack, it’s the same reason they couldn’t leave through the front door after the apartment killing spree. Take into account the film was made at the same time the comic was, and you’ll appreciate what the filmmakers did differently, not despise it like I once did. The film delights in violence, and to a point I accept that and enjoy it along with them. As long as you paint the violence in a tone of humor like this film does, it works. It’s like the difference between America’s Funniest Home Videos and the Discovery Health Channel. I’ll admit there’s a certain limit to violence for me (once it goes too far it goes too far), not that this film does that. That being said, in the final stand off between Hit Girl and Frank Da’Mico, the sight of seeing a grown man beat a little girl still made me a little uncomfortable and it came a little too close to that line. All in all, after re-watching Kick-Ass, my opinion on the film was much lighter. At first it was maybe in my Top Ten, now it’s for sure within my Top 3. The film is incredibly well made for only being made for $30 million, it’s well-paced, well-acted, gloriously violent in some amazing action pieces, and has some unforgettable characters in some unforgettable moments in an unforgettable parody of the superhero genre that works on its own in its own cinematic glory.
5 out of 5