Dumb Ass

I Saw 47 Ronin So You Don’t Have To

My brother and I have an awful habit of watching absolutely horrid movies in the theater when we get together.  And so it was last night that we found ourselves in a mostly empty auditorium with Real 3D glasses strapped to our faces in anticipation of, sigh, 47 Ronin.

For the record, I am not entirely opposed to Keanu Reeves.  I absolutely loved Man of Tai Chi which he directed and starred in.  And I wouldn’t mind him as Spike Spiegel in the live action Cowboy Beebop. But I can’t figure out why he’s in this stupid thing.

This thing is pretty rad.

This thing is pretty rad.

I also can’t figure out why the studio sunk so much money into this thing.  47 Ronin cost $200 million.  Why? Where did the fucking money go? Certainly not to Keanu’s salary.  As far as Hollywood stars go, he’s the least likely to demand a stupid large pay day.  Certainly not the writers.  I don’t think they actually know a thing about the actual legend. They certainly didn’t spend money on historians or researchers or anything historical at all.  I suppose the creature design was pretty cool.  There were four creature scenes that a bunch of CG houses probably spent a lot of work on.  The virtual locations and set extensions were pretty impressive.  And the costumes were absolutely exquisit.  Buuuuuuuut that still doesn’t account for such a high price tag for such a dull ass movie.

47 Booooooooooring

The chief sin of this movie is not its vast list of historical inaccuracies.  Its fatal flaw is that it’s a total bore.  The few action scene are spaced entirely too far apart so that you almost forget you’re watching a movie about swords.  Everyone speaks ever line of dialog like it’s the. Most. Important. Thing. They. Have. Ever. Said. In. Their. Entire. Lives.  Which robs the dialog of the entire film of any import or weight.

There’s a lot of extraneous stuff in here.  The romance between Keanu and Lord Asano’s daughter lacks any real chemistry which makes it entirely difficult to connect with.  Many of the fantasy elements take away from the main plot.  Sadly, those are also the most interesting bits of the film which makes me think that maybe they needed to go even further with the fantasy stuff.

The saddest victim of waste in this movie is Rick Genest.  You may remember him from the trailers as the tattooed man with guns.

This scene isn't in the movie I watched.

This scene isn’t in the movie I watched.

There are entire posters of him in much of the 47 Ronin publicity campaign.  He’s in like one scene which doesn’t include any of the action shots from the trailer.  What the fuck?  There’s so much wasted film in this thing, you might as well extend his scenes.  I don’t know why his stuff was left on the cutting room floor, but it’s a damn shame.  Might have made those scenes in the Dutch port somewhat interesting.

Also, there needed to be more of Lord Kira’s giant warrior.

This guy is totally badass and underused.

This guy is totally badass and underused.

The Great White Token

I complain a lot when minority characters are used as tokens.  If there is a single Asian character in a majority white cast, their Asianess is their justification for inclusion in the film.  Either they’re a martial artists or some tech wizard or some former Yakuza.  It kind of surprised me to see this, but in this instance, Keanus is the token.  His whiteness is the entire reason he’s there.

I really love Tengu man's design.

Tengu man is tired of your shit.

You see, the ronin can’t defeat Kira on their own.  Kira has the witch, Mizuki played by Rinko Kikuchi, who can poison men and defeat entire armies.  The 47 need someone on their side who can fight the demons.  Which is where Keanu comes in.  Since he’s half white and an outcast, everyone calls him a demon or a half breed.  As it turns out, he actually is a sort of demon.  He was taken in by the tengu of the forest when his mother abandoned him because he was a horrid half breed.  They taught him their demon ways so now he can do things no normal human can.

The really sad part, though, is that if you cut his scenes out of this thing, you’d still have a pretty solid movie.  Even though the movie makes every effort to convince you that the 47 need Keanu’s tengu powers to defeat Kira, his character is completely extraneous.  The 47 would have succeeded on their own without Keanu’s help.  Sure, it would have been a little more difficult to fight off the dragon lady, but I think they would have eventually done it.

More Creatures! More Dragons! More ANYTHING INTERESTING!

I don’t believe I’m saying this because it offended me so that they’re using the title of the actual legend, but I kind of wish they pushed the fantasy angle way more than they did.  By making it so subtle, Keanu’s character never felt fully integrated into the narrative of the damn thing.  More demon fights would have also helped to keep my interest.

Mako Mori as a literal dragon lady is actually fucking rad.

Mako Mori as a literal dragon lady is actually fucking rad.

As long and as boring as it is, we surprisingly don’t get a lot of character development from anyone.  We see very little growth from our heroes which makes it difficult to get emotionally attached to any of them.  The romance angle feels forced and you can only get so far with a revenge story.  Lots of things going on but none of it very focused.

If you want to see a movie with samurai doing samurai things, there’s an entire Akira Kurosawa library of films to go through.  He did way more with way less.  Universal should feel embarrassed for dumping so much money into this thing.  Ran is waaaaay longer than 47 Ronin but hardly feels boring even with the camera locked down on that shot of Hidetora Ichimonji slowly walking out of a burning castle.  If you’re looking for a fantasy movie with lots of creatures and dragons, well shit, there’s a Hobbit waiting for you.  If you’re looking for both samurai action and demons, there’s nothing in the theaters for you.  47 Ronin fails to deliver on both the fantasy and reality fronts making for a totally boring experience at the theater.

All You Need Is Tom

On its surface, Edge of Tomorrow looks like a fun little action flick.  Certainly looks a hell of a lot better than Tom Cruise’s last foray in the fiction of science, Oblivion.  I also quite like Emily Blunt.  Using the Groundhog Day mechanic to learn how to become a badass weapon is probably one of the best things you could do when the fate of our world is at stake.

So why has this film appeared on my list of things to nerd rage over?

Well it turns out that this is based on a Japanese light novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka entitled All You Need Is Kill.  From the synopsis:

When the alien Gitai invade, Keiji Kiriya is just one of many recruits shoved into a suit of battle armor called a Jacket and sent out to kill. Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to be reborn each morning to fight and die again and again. On his 158th iteration, he gets a message from a mysterious ally–the female soldier known as the Full Metal Bitch. Is she the key to Keiji’s escape or his final death?

Sooooo as much as I dislike the trend of Hollywood White Washing Japanese things, I will give this movie some credit.  Unlike the Americanized live action Akira film which I pray never makes it to screen in my lifetime, they’ve come up with a new title and have renamed the characters.  If AZM Ally Derek Jeffers had never pointed out the basis for the film, I would have never known.  I would have been slightly dismayed that there seemed to be no minorities in the trailer, but I would have had no idea.

I’ve got mixed feelings on this.  I really hope Sakurazaka gets a nice big royalty from the movie rights.  I’m dismayed that Hollywood is mining Asian fiction for ideas rather than tapping some home grown talent.  There are plenty of amazing ideas right here at home that aren’t getting a chance.  But then again, without this trend, we wouldn’t have this amazing Godzilla film to look forward to.

Thanks to AZM Ally Derek Jeffers for the heads up.

Dear FOX, PLEASE STOP MAKING WOLVERINE MOVIES

Mmmmmm... veins...

Mmmmmm… veins…

The Wolverine came out on blu-ray this week and I finally had a chance to watch it.  And it was good.  Certainly better than Origins.  Certainly better than X-3.  And I suppose if it was the first or second Wolverine flick, it would be pretty awesome.  But it’s the fifth fucking Wolverine movie.  And though no one can argue with Hugh Jackman’s on screen presence as our favorite claw poppin’ Canuck, I’m kind of done with Wolverine.

The Best At Being Overexposed

I realize that I’m going to sound like one of those comic book guy, douchebags.  But fuck it.  What they’ve done to Wolverine is a travesty.

When Wolverine joined the X-Men in Giant Sized X-Men #1 became an instant fan favorite.  He was a short, disgruntled, cigar smoking anti-hero with a bad attitude and razor fist claws.  He never played well with others which made him the loner of the group, a seeming outcast on a team of outcasts.  Yet, when it came time to tussle with evil mutants or giant Sentinels, he was the first on the scene to fight for justice.

His past was shrouded in mystery which only served to heighten fan interest.  If the internet had been around then, I’m sure the forums and message boards would have been filled with fan speculation about where he came from, how he got his claws, how his powers worked.

He was bad enough to be edgy but good enough to take younger mutants like Kitty Pryde under his wing.  Sorta like the grizzled uncle who you can always rely on even when he’s getting into bar fights and drinking to dull his pain.

Wolverine continued to be a staple of all the X titles throughout the 80’s and 90’s.  But somehow, I never felt like it was too much.  He still had that edge to him, that air of mystery.  Even when Magneto sucked the adamantium out of his body and we had years of bone claws, Wolverine was still the best at what he did, punching fools with claws.

And then, Origin.

Good. Fucking. Lord.

Of all the dumb shit stunts comics have pulled to cash in, none has destroyed a character as much as Origin.  Logan’s inability to remember much about his past or how he got his adamantium gave him pathos.  After all, the search for self is one of our strongest, inner most struggles.  Sure, we may know where we were born and our personal history, but the search for our essential selves defines us.  Logan’s journey to fill that hole left by his lost memories made him infinitely relate-able on a very deep and personal level.  It elevated the myth of the Wolverine.

Annnnnd now we know he was a whiny little brat.  Yay. Brafuckingvo. I really needed to know that he was the product of an illicit affair between a red head and a farm hand.  Oh, but it explains his fascination with Jean? I DON’T FUCKING CARE!  I KNOW WHY HE’S FASCINATED WITH JEAN!  BECAUSE CHEMISTRY AND SEX AND THE BIRDS AND FUCKING BEES!!  GAAAAHHHHHHHHAAAA!!!!!!!!  Fuck!

It destroyed all the mystery, all the myth, all the questioning, and ultimately proved to be a horribly unsatisfying experience.  And that’s when the most dangerous mutant in comics became safe and boring and overexposed.  He joined the Avengers, he got a cartoon, he grew taller, he started a school. Good ol’ unca Logan-sempai and his universe of young eager mutant kohai.  Blehhhh.  Which brings me to the movies.

Wolverine Featuring X-Men, Wolverine 2, Wolverine: The Last Stand, Wolverine: Origins, Wolverine Goes to Japan

Every X-Men movie except for First Class has been about Wolverine:

  • X-Men. Wolverine joins the team to stop Magneto.
  • X2.  A man from Logan’s past returns to destroy mutant kind and it’s up to Wolverine to stop him.
  • X-Men: Last Stand.  Wolverine leads the X-Men to defeat Jean.
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine. A retelling of Login’s origin mixing in bits from the Origin comic and shit. Big stinky piles of shit.
  • The Wolverine. Wolverine goes to Japan because Silver Samurai.

Apparently, Wolverine puts asses in seats.  I think only James Bond has made more film appearances and even then, the titular character has been played by multiple actors.  Although, I think Roger Moore was Bond seven times compared to Hugh Jackman’s five times as Wolverine.  Six if you count his First Class cameo.  And now seven when we count Days of Future Wolverine.

Anyway, that’s a whole lot of Wolverine.  And I’m kind of done with him.  This latest film featured the most savage and brutal Wolverine that we’ve ever seen on screen.  Honestly?  It was boring.  Ohhhh, but his healing factor is slowed?  Was there ever really the possibility of him dying?  Not really.  Since we see him running around punching things with razor claws while his stomach is bleeding out, it didn’t really seem like his slowed healing factor didn’t seem to be a problem.  The stakes weren’t there.  So if he’s not going to die, where’s the tension?  Mariko’s in danger.  Ummm… she kinda killed a dude with a room key.  She’s doing fine.

Seeing Wolverine doing what he does best should never be boring.  I should never roll my eyes when the claws pop and he punches dudes.  Yet I found myself looking for other things to do as Logan sliced things.  There’s nothing special about him anymore.

Wolverine: Days of Logan Past

That’s what worries me about Days of Future Snikt.  Instead of Kitty going back to warn the X-Men, we have Logan which makes this the sixth Wolverine film.  I don’t think I can sit through another one.  Certainly, there will be other mutants peppered throughout the thing to entice my nerd sensibilities.  But if the main focus is Logan as it was in the previous X-films, I think it’s going to be a big disappointment.

The FOX X-Franchise has proven that it doesn’t do ensemble casts well.  While I felt everyone got their chance to shine in Avengers, the X-Films (except First Class) have starred Wolverine featuring other mutants.  Days of Logan Past promises an extensive lineup of mutants.  Maybe too many.  I worry that we’ll only get snippets of the others while Logan remains our one constant thread.

I think less Wolverine would make more of an impact.  Keep the claws in until the very end of the movie.  Keep him in the background until he really needs to be there.  Let the ensemble shine.

So please, FOX, for the love of admantium claws, stop making Wolverine movies and make us a right and proper X-Film.  You did a pretty good job with First Class.  I’m hoping you can do the same with Days of Future Past.

“Whoa, I’m in… Japan…”

It occurs to me that while I talked about it when it was first announced, I haven’t said shit about the new 47 Ronin flick starring Keanu Reeves yet.  Welp, this second trailer has dropped so now is as good a time as any to speak my mind.

To be honest, I’m not against casting a White guy or a half White/half Asian guy in a Japanese fantasy period piece.  For once, I’m not going to complain about Whitewashing.  I mean, they’ve got Mako Mori turning into a dragon.  It’s clear they’re not going for historical accuracy by any stretch of the imagination.  Also, Keanu’s father is hella Asian so I don’t think it’s appropriate to call him out for being just another “white” guy.

What infuriates me about this thing is that they’re pretending it’s based the actual revenge of the 47 Ronin which took place in 18th century Japan.  The story has become legend and defines what it meant to be samurai.  But unless you’re Japanese or a Japanese scholar or a Nihongofile or a GIGANTIC weeaboo, you wouldn’t have heard of the 47.  It’s not a story that’s readily familiar to the target audience of the film.  And those who are familiar with the tale will only be scratching their heads and wondering where the fuck the 48th samurai came from.  Keanu isn’t even one of the 47!

I don’t see the benefit of tying this to something that so few audience members will have heard about.  And if they look it up, they’ll be utterly confused,  “I don’t see anything about a ‘half-breed’ (guh, that’s what they’re calling him in the film) saving the day.”  It bears so little resemblance to the original tale that if it weren’t for the title or the line about there only being “47 of us,” I wouldn’t have figured it out.

It would be like a Japanese studio casting Odagiri Joe (why do you hate Kuuga, Joe? Why?!) as the hero of the American Revolution.  What, that sounds absurd?  Well it makes just as much sense as this fucking thing.

Just call it something different!  You can have your literal dragon lady and your whitish hero and your flashy swords. Just call it something new!  Hell, give your writers some credit.  They clearly didn’t think the original story was interesting enough for a film so they wrote some new shit!  If you believe in that new shit, show it off! Give it a fresh coat of paint and a new name and fuck it, I’ll promote the shit out of your weird looking movie.

The thing is, this looks like a fun little action movie. You got your demon looking armor guy walking through fire.  You got Rinko Kikuchi turning into a dragon.  You got some really cool looking creatures eating warriors.  Were it not for the dubious title, I think I would actually see this in the theater.

The Lone Failure

Why?

Adrienne K saw The Lone Ranger so the rest of us don’t have to and her scathing take down of the film post on Native Appropriations pretty much confirms all of my fears about this stinking pile of mess.

I’m not sure who this fucking thing was for.  There’s no nostalgia for this character for anyone under the age of 90.  Tonto was always going to be a problem.  In the radio show, he was the total embodiment of the Noble Savage caricature.  He’s not exactly a character I’d hold up as representative of my people were I Native American.  Casting Johnny Derp in the role is a final slap in the face to Native Americans.

Oh, but he’s one twentiethteenth Native– shut the fuck up!  No one thinks of him as Native anything.  If he truly stood up for Native representation, he would have backed down and told Disney to cast someone who doesn’t need a flow chart to prove they have some Native blood somewhere in their long lost ancestry.  The only good Depp has done in portraying this character is that it’s stirred up the conversation about Native representation in Hollywood.

In truth, judging from Adrienne’s review, it doesn’t seem like it would have mattered who was cast in the role.  Even if Tonto was portrayed by a Native actor, the movie would still fail to connect with audiences.  I’m kind of glad a Native actor wasn’t attached to this playing an insane caricature of his people.  We can point to it as a failure of substance rather than a failure of trying something new by casting a Native lead.  This was never going to be a movie that accurately portrayed Native anything.

From: Native Appropriations

Killer Instinct And Everything Else That’s Wrong With XBOXdONE

At around 2:09, there’s a guy telling one of the few women to appear on stage to “Just let it happen, it’ll be over soon” while beating her at Killer Instinct. This is exactly how I feel about all this Xbox One bullshit.

And it is complete and utter bullshit.

Also, rape jokes at your press conference are an automatic fail.

Besides the fact that they’re trying to revive a 20 year old, long dead fighting franchise and a generations old dragon rail shooter as launch titles, the Xbox One policies and requirements make it one of the most hostile, anti-gamer consoles to ever come to market from anyone.

MICROSOFT DOESN’T TRUST YOU

It’s certainly true that piracy has changed the face of just about everything, including gaming.  A number of companies have come up with fancy ways to get around that.  Some games require you to always be connected to a server which makes it difficult to play games if your connection is shit.  Still, you can avoid such hassles by playing games that don’t have overly restrictive requirements.

Xbox One is the first console to implement some of these more restrictive policies system wide.  You can’t trade games.  You can’t share games.  You can’t resell games.  And once you’ve bought a damn game, you’re required to check in online just to prove that you purchased the right to play the fucking thing.

Sure, the graphics look pretty sweet.  But who is this fucking thing for?  You’re not buying games.  You’re buying the privilege to play.  What about people who have wonky internet connections?  What about our service men and women overseas who for damn sure can’t keep a system logged in all day?  What about people who can’t afford internet connections?

Seriously, who is this elitist goddamn thing for?  Yay, it plays TV.  So does my fucking TV!

The funniest shit to me is that Gamestop is now taking pre-orders for the thing when it’s so hostile to Gamestop’s core business model.  There is no used game market for the Xbox One.

This is how gaming should work:

DESIGN BY LAWYERS

While the Xbox and the 360 felt like there were gamers somewhere in the development cycle, the One feels like it was designed by lawyers.  Instead of answering gamer-centric questions like “how can we deliver a unique gaming experience” or “how can this new system foster an active gaming community” the One answers questions like “how can we prevent piracy” and “instead of expanding our appeal, how can we extract the most money from the people we already have.”

If there were any gamers on the console development team, they would have kicked the lawyers in the face the minute the questions of whether or not the bloody thing should always be checking in came up.  They would have reminded the rest of the team of all those times they’ve played games that their friends let them borrow.  They would have told the team to put the games and the gamers first and cut out all that TV and sports bullshit.

I don’t understand how they can be so damn tone deaf!

I can’t support this console.

Obliviously Boring Ever After

ObliviouslyEverAfter

Do you remember how absolutely bored you were while watching Star Trek: The Motion Picture? Well, I got two more movies to add to that list.

Back in December 2012, we were treated to some pretty exciting trailers for Oblivion and After Earth.  Both films looked like they could be a lot of fun.  Post apocalyptic Earth is always fun to explore.  The possibilities for us ruining our home are endless which make the genre fertile ground for planting seeds of excellent high concept science fiction.  I was really looking forward to both films.

Just like books and their fancy covers, you can’t judge a film by its trailer.  The trailers gave us futures full of mystery, danger, suspense.  The movies delivered absolute boredom.  So if you’re suffering from insomnia, pop one of these in your Blu Ray player and prepare for some excellent snooze time.

Not gonna bother with full on reviews of these dull ass movies, but there will be spoilers.

Obliviblaaaaahhhhhh

oblivionMehhhh

The sad thing about Oblivion is that there’s a good ass movie somewhere in there.  There’s a lot of really cool world building.  The slick clean look of the tech, the glass house in the clouds with the glass bottom pool, the giant water conversion sucker machines contrasted with the dilapidated artifacts of human civilization makes for some excellent visuals.  There’s a tremendous sense of isolation which slowly draws you in to the first half of the film.  Emphasis on slooooooooooooooow.

Unfortunately, the more time we spend with Tom Cruise’s character who I completely have forgotten and can’t bother to look up, the less interested we are in him.  By the time we’re introduced to the survivors lead by Morgan Freeman, we’re ready for an actual story.

Morgan Freeman is completely wasted.  We hardly get to spend time with the most interesting aspect of this film, the whole resistance movement.  How have they been living?  How have they survived? How have they rebuilt after the destruction of our world? Why were they left behind?  How does surface life contrast with life in the space colony in orbit or on Titan?  Were they left behind because they were social outcasts?  Why didn’t the movie start here?!

Sadly, the film insists on following Tom and sends him out again on a mission to discover the truth.  I suppose if we gave a shit about Tom, his search for self discovery would be interesting.  But besides his flashbacks to Earth 300 years ago, there isn’t a whole lot to him for us to relate to.  So when it’s revealed that he’s a clone and that there are a bunch of him running around, I kind of shrugged my shoulders.  Meh.

From there it becomes an action film with Tom and the resistance fighting against the drones with lots of shooting and ‘splosions and I couldn’t have cared less.

I wanted it to decide what kind of movie it wanted to be.  Do you want to be a tale of survival showing us the indomitable will of humanity?  Do you want to be a cautionary tale warning us to take care of our mother Earth?  Do you want to be a journey of self discovery?  It throws all three themes together and does none of them any justice.  Not to say you can’t do that, but in this case if Oblivion focused on only one of those themes, I think there was an excellent movie to be made.

After Meh

afterEarthBlahhhhhh

The twist to After Earth is that it’s deadly boring.  Will Smith is purposefully reserved to give his son the spotlight.  Sadly, Jaden’s character isn’t interesting enough to carry this movie.

This movie is about a father and son relationship in the guise of a post apocalyptic survival film.  It hinges on you giving a shit about Jaden and him living up to the expectations and reputation of his legendary father.  It’s almost too meta.

The movie wants to rush you into the survival part of the story so we get a very glossed over look at Jaden’s life.  We get a scene where he’s training, a scene where he’s rejected from the Ranger corp, a scene where his dad is mean face to him, and then we’re on a space plane headed for destiny.  It’s not nearly enough for us to build any rapport with Jaden so we’re almost completely detached from what follows.  And for a survival flick to work, you really need to be sucked into the situation with the character.  If we don’t care about him, we don’t care about the rabid apes chasing him through the trees.

Will Smith is completely pointless in this film.  He is supposed to be the man without fear, the first person to “ghost” which means he can pass near fear pheromone sniffing aliens without being seen.  The way he plays “fearless” is “emotionless” so we have a Will Smith who dead pans absolutely every line of dialog.  You can almost see him fall asleep as he’s talking.

This movie worked when it was called The Pursuit of Happiness.  We got an incredibly uplifting story with a deep father and son relationship.  Love practically oozed off the screen and into our hearts.  In After Earth, we get a father who emotionally detached from his family and a son who learns the ultimate technique of burying his emotions.  Congratulations.  Your message is that we need to bury our feelings in order to survive the apocalypse.  And I thought I was a cynical asshole.

Bored to Tears

I think Oblivion had more potential than After Earth.  But neither are enjoyable.  I suppose if you watched them streaming or on DVD, you’d have the added advantage of the fast-forward button.  You could probably watch both of them in a half hour and not really miss anything.

Here’s hoping that Pacific Rim can save us from the boring apocalypse.

Page 1 of 8212345...102030...Last »