Jam Scale Reviews

Star Trek: Nemesis, the Strongest Argument for the JJ Abrams Reboot

It's so bad, even Shinzon can't stand to watch it.

It’s so bad, even Shinzon can’t stand to watch it.

Every now and then, I will click on a film that Netflix suggests because I need some noise in the background as I work on comics.  And so it was that last night, I clicked on the thumbnail for one Star Trek: Nemesis.  It turns out that the best way for me to stay awake from midnight until two is to nerd rage.

With Into Darkness on its way, I still hear rumblings from old school fans about how horribly sacrilegious the JJ Abrams version of Gene Roddenberry’s universe is.  To those people, go back and watch Nemesis and see if you like where the franchise was headed.

There will be tons of spoilers in this review because I don’t give a fuck.  And it’s been out for years so it’s already spoiled. Rotten to the core.

Shinzon

Rather than bother with a plot synopsis, I’ll just go through the things that I thought were stupid.

Portrayed by a young, fresh faced Tom Hardy, our main villain is Shinzon who also happens to be a clone of Picard.  This is actually a pretty interesting idea.  Shinzon was created as part of a Romulan plot to replace Picard and learn all the secrets of the Federation.  The plan was abandoned when a new government took over so Shinzon was discarded and sent to the Reman dilithium mines where he was meant to die.  That’s kind of cool.  Not only do we get an interesting commentary on government transitions, we get an entire new race that the Romulans have kept oppressed for years.

Within the first ten minutes of the film, Shinzon wipes out the entire Romulan Imperial Senate and becomes Praetor of Romulus.  I’d say that’s a pretty huge victory.  But like any stupid villain, it’s not enough.  He wants to destroy the Earth because plot.  I don’t really understand why Shinzon would give two shits about the Federation.  It was the Romulans who created him then abandoned him to die. I suppose if the Federation were gone, there’d be no Shinzon.  But the Remans would still be used as slave labor.  So other than plot, there’s no real reason for Shinzon to go after Earth.  He’s beaten the Romulans.  He has the power to bring Reman society out of the shadows now that he rules the Romulan Senate.  Surely that should be victory enough.

Mental rape.  Cause that hasn't happened to Troi ever.

Mental rape. Cause that hasn’t happened to Troi ever.

At some point, Shinzon mentally rapes Diana Troi while she’s having sex with Riker.  Apparently, Shinzon’s Viceroy has the ability to connect Shinzon’s mind to Troi so that he can get his rape on.  It’s a plot point that serves no purpose other than to give the Enterprise a method for finding Shinzon’s cloaked Scimitar later in the film.  No where else in the entire film does the Viceroy ever use his mental powers.  Which is fucking stupid.  If he can enter people’s minds, he can certainly enter Captain Picard’s and strip out all the intel they need to wipe out the Federation.  When rape is used to set up a deux ex machina save at the end of your flick, your movie is unforgivable.  It’s insulting and offensive and if tumblr was around when this came out, copies of the film print would have been burned.

"Hey, at least I don't sound like a wacky car salesman in this one."

“Hey, at least I don’t sound like a wacky car salesman in this one.”

At some point, we learn that Shinzon’s DNA was made to age rapidly so that he could catch up to Picard’s age quickly.  But since the plot was abandoned, Shinzon didn’t get the proper treatment.  So his cells are dying or aging or something I wasn’t paying attention to.  The only cure, a full blood transfusion from Picard.  There are at least five moments when Shinzon could have just pulled the trigger and gotten his blood on.  But instead, we’re treated to villainous plodding and speechafying allowing Picard to escape every fucking time.  I don’t understand how it takes him less than ten minutes to take over Romulus when he’s NOT EVEN IN THE FUCKING ROOM but he can’t just stick a straw in Picard throat and DRAIN HIS BLOOD.

B4

There’s a terrible subplot featuring another one of Doctor Noonian Soong’s robots, B4, who was seemingly created before Lore and Data.  Because plot.

On their way to the Romulus to meet with the new Praetor, who turns out to be Shinzon, the Enterprise comes across a positronic signal emanating from some random planet.  This leads in to one of the most ponderous action sequences to feature in any Star Trek film ever.

A. Fucking. Car. Chase.

Because when I think of futuristic space operas, I think car chase!

Because when I think of futuristic space operas, I think car chase!

This might work in Firefly where they spend a lot of time on planets on the outer rim of the Verse where settlers go to seek their fortunes.  But this entire movie takes place in space aboard starships.  The only reason for this scene is to put in a fucking car chase and it’s a pretty lame excuse for a car chase at that.

Maybe it was intended to show Picard’s wild side, that he’s a risk taker, that he has a lead foot.  But it feels forced and out of place.  And Warf is entirely too large for that rickety looking dune buggy.  The stupid thing looks outdated compared to every other piece of Feddy tech that we see in the film.

B4, certainly the lowest point in Brent Spiner's career.

Even Brent Spiner can’t help but sneer at this terrible sequel-bait of a character.

You can almost feel Brent Spiner’s eyes roll every time he walks off camera as B4.  Though he looks exactly like Data and has a similar internal structure, B4’s positronic brain is not as sophisticated as Data.  B4 is an overgrown toddler.  And of course, he’s a trap.  Thank god the crew figures that shit out quickly.  But it’s still fucking stupid.

B4 makes no sense as a spy.  Because the Viceroy has mental powers, Shinzon could have easily taken Starfleet intel from Picard’s brain meats.  There’s no reason for B4 unless your Viceroy never uses his mental powers unless it’s for rape.  Oh, you only use your powers for rape?  Shit.  Then I guess we need B4.

The real reason B4 is there is to set up a sequel.  Data sacrifices himself by jumping through space (ugh) and blowing up the Scimitar. God, when I saw this in the theater, the entire place erupted in scornful laughter at this scene. By this time, Data has already downloaded all of his memories to B4.  So it’s this whole Wrath of Khan, Search For Spock thing.  Spock sacrifices himself in Khan only to be reborn as a child in Search.  Data sacrifices himself at the end of Nemesis, but somehow lives on locked away in the memories of B4.  The parallels are groan worthy.  Thankfully, we never had to suffer through the sequel where we’d spend hours waiting for B4 to unlock Data.

The Scimitar

Okay, this thing is fucking badass.

Okay, this thing is fucking badass.

I will say one thing in this movie’s favor.  Shinzon’s flagship, the Scimitar, is awesome.  It’s the most powerful Bird of Prey we’ve seen in the Trek universe.  Its cloak is perfect.  It can fire torpedos and phasers while cloaked.  It has a doomsday weapon that can destroy worlds.  It’s an agile Deathstar.  And the only way the Enterprise beats it is because mental rape because plot and FUCK THIS STUPID MOVIE.

But it raises a few questions.  For one, if the Remans could build such a perfect weapon, why have they been oppressed for so long?  The Scimitar alone could decimate the Romulan fleet.  Why wait until now to unleash it?  And why haven’t they built anymore?  I could understand them not being able to build too many Thalaron radiation weapons, but surely they could build similar Birds of Prey.  If they could build something as massive and destructive as the Scimitar in secret, they could have built another one.  Or a smaller one.  Or something else.  There should be a fleet of Reman vessels obliterating the Federation.

The space fights are pretty awesome, but the time you see them, your brain is already oozing out of your nose for subjecting yourself to such a dumb, fucking movie.

THANK YOU JJ ABRAMS

Besides Patrick Stewart and Tom Hardy, the cast looks so incredibly bored throughout Nemesis.  Though they’re given some terribly stupid things to say, Patrick Stewart and Tom Hardy are quite excellent together.  They deserved a better film.  I really felt bad for Brent Spiner who had to spend half of his time acting like a mindless prat.  He deserved better.  Thank the Profets we never had to suffer through the sequel to this mess.

This is all a long way of saying thank you to JJ Abrams for breathing life back in to Star Trek.  So if your friends decry new Trek and proclaim that the old stuff was superior in every way, remind them about Nemesis. Truly, it was the enemy of the entire franchise.

Looper Returns From the Wub Wub Machine

Looper is out on DVD and Blu-ray which gives me a perfect opportunity to talk about it.  But first, here’s a mashed up trailer that’s been put through the wub wub machine.

I can’t believe I didn’t review the thing when it came out in theaters.  I actually ended up seeing it twice and loved picking out the bits that I missed in the first go around.  This review will probably have some spoilers because it’s difficult to talk about it without revealing too much.  So if you haven’t seen it yet, know that I really enjoyed it.  On with the review.

The Future is Pretty White

To longtime AZM Allies, I must sound like a broken record.  But I’m gonna say it anyway.  I was really disappointed in the lack of diversity of the supporting cast.  Certainly, this movie is basically a character study centering on Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, and young Pierce Gagnon, all very white.  So I wasn’t really expecting to see many leading minority roles.  But the film is set in the near future.  All evidence points to a major demographic shift in the coming years, yet there were only a handful of minorities in supporting roles and none had any significant dialog.

It didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the film, but honestly, I’m getting a little tired of Sci Fi forgetting that the future will probably be a lot more colorful than today.  And today is pretty colorful as it is.

Napkins and Straws

Time travel movies are always kind of fun.  There are some inherent problems with traveling to the past.  Some movies don’t bother to deal with the science aspect of it at all.  Some imply that even with time travel, certain events are fixed points in time.  Some treat time as something more fluid and sort of wibbly wobbly.  The important thing is for the film to remain true to whatever time travel rules it supplies.

Looper doesn’t quite answer the paradox problem.  At least, not in the version in the theater.  Word has it that there’s a deleted scene on the DVD and Blu-ray where Bruce Willis takes the time to explain the Looper rules of time travel with napkins and straws.  Without that scene, there are some things about the Looper rules that we have to surmise on our own.

For the movie to work, every time you travel in the past, you create a divergent timeline.  That’s why we have a dead version of Old Joe and a version of Old Joe that escapes young Joe.  At some point, Old Joe escaped the loop created by his younger self killing his older self, thus creating a new timeline.

There’s a bit of a flaw in Old Joe’s logic.  Certainly, the Rainmaker closes loops faster than any previous mob boss.  But even without the Rainmaker, eventually Joe’s loop would have be to closed.  When the men in black come for him, his wife might get killed anyway.  I don’t think that the future mob really gives a shit about his spouse.  Still, Old Joe must do something.

“Listen up, FUCKER!”

"Listen up, fucker!

I love that Emily Blunt’s first words on screen include “fucker.”  She is absolutely wonderful as Sara.  Her chemistry with Piece Gagnon is totally believable.  I actually found her bit of the story much more compelling than Joe’s quest for himself.

What’s on your nose?!

Speaking of Joe, I found Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s nose action really distracting.  We actually know what a young Bruce Willis looks like since he’s been acting for such a long time and he doesn’t look anything like J Gordy Nose Thing.  J Gordon has Bruce Willis’s mannerisms down so well that I think he would have been totally believable as a young Bruce without the nose job.

Joe starts out as a useless twat.  He lives for the now giving little thought to his future.  Even when he’s running after his older self, his only concern is making things right with his boss.  It’s only when he encounters Sara and Cid that he considers life beyond himself.  More than the time traveling crime noir stuff that’s going on, it’s Joe’s character arc that is the most compelling thing about this film.  That aspect elevates the film above the usual action fare.

Extra, extra

Audrey and I were still talking about Looper and its various paradoxes or non paradoxes for days.  It’s one of those movies that wraps itself around your brain meats and kind of hangs in there like a twisty puzzle with all sorts of weird angles.  That’s why I’m really curious about “The Science of Time Travle” featurette on the Blu-ray disc.  Also included on the Blu-ray are 22 deleted scenes including the five that are on the DVD version.

It was definitely worth the ticket price in the theater and looks to be quite awesome on disc.

Did Fandom Ruin the Green Lantern Movie?

Last night, I decided to treat myself to a “bad movie” night while working on comics. I usually like to have some kind of noise playing in the background, sometimes it’s “Sons of Guns,” sometimes it’s yea olde tyme radio. For whatever reason, I decided it was time to watch the live action Green Lantern movie. I was terribly skeptical when I saw the suit in Entertainment Weekly and totally underwhelmed when I saw the trailer so I never bothered to check it out in the theater. So I figured, what the hell, let’s do this.

Thank god I didn’t pay full ticket price to see this mess.

The Man in the Iron Blockbuster

I think Warner Bros was attempting to do their own version of the Iron Man/Tony Stark/Robert Downey, Jr. franchise. Like Iron Man, Green Lantern is sort of a B-List hero. Before the Iron Man film, Shellhead was certainly a fan favorite, but hardly a character that was instantly recognized by non comic readers. After the Iron Man film, absolutely everyone knew who Tony Stark was. And now, Marvel has a hit franchise with a third movie on the way.

I really think Warner Bros took a look at that and said, well shit, we’ve got a B-List hero, too. Let’s grab us some of that action!

And this is where I think fandom played a major role in ruining the film. I don’t mean to imply that individual fans went out of their way to pan the movie to ensure that it barely made back its budget during the course of its run. I don’t think comic fans are that well organized or that cynical. I’m talking about the phenomenon of fandom. There’s a reason Hollywood parades their latest and greatest at San Diego ComicCon. Comic fans have money and are more than willing to spend it on things they like. They helped make that first Spider-Man film an absolute block buster and they damn sure helped propel Iron Man to the forefront of comic movie franchise stardom. Warner Bros decided that if they can capture the fandom, they can build a franchise around Green Lantern.

That’s why it ultimately failed.

Instead of concentrating on making a good movie, they went for the fanservice.

Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing

There’s a lot going on in this film. Hal is an asshole but he has a tragic past seeing his father blow up so we should care about him but we’ve got absolutely no reason to and he’s in love with Carol who works for this government contractor that’s in business with some senator whose son is a nerd who loves Carol but is lame so he’s our villain and we still don’t care and, oh look, Hal’s got a ring and he flies to Oa where he meets all the toys that will go into stores and there’s Sinestro talking and there’s Kilowog punching Hal for being a poozer and then Hal quits and goes home and the lame nerd who has a crush on Carol gets bit by the yellow thing and, oh, did I mention Paralax yet who’s coming to eat the Earth because that’s what you do so Hal goes back to Oa and asks permission to defend the Earth because why exactly and he goes back home and I FUCKING GIVE THE FUCK UP.

It’s a whole lot of nothing. We get a handful of scenes with the Green Lantern Corps that don’t do anything except bloat the effects budget. There’s one training scene where Hal gets passed between Tomar-Re, Kilowog, and Sinestro all in the same scene. Sinestro spends most of his time on screen speechafying about some shit or another. We don’t learn jack all about him other than he likes to make speeches so when he makes his big turn in the epilogue by putting on the yellow ring, we don’t care. There’s no weight to his turn because we don’t give a shit about him. We can’t relate to him as an audience because all we know is that he’s some kind of general. Now for us who have read the comic, we know that he’s a tortured soul, that the world he was charged to protect turned against him because of his pride, and that ultimately, he turned to Fear to bring order to what he saw as chaos. But you don’t know any of that shit from the movie. So who gives a fuck if he turns yellow?

Paralax is a giant fucking mess. It devours worlds and instantly vaporizes Green Lanterns. So why doesn’t it just vaporize Hal like it did those other Lanterns when it wasn’t as strong? Because PLOT! I think Paralax would have been far more frightening if it sewed the seeds of fear in a populace and turned them against the Lanterns than just being a yellow space squid with hunger issues.

Tomar-Re, Kilowog, Sinestro, the entire Green Lantern Corps, and Paralax all felt like they were shoehorned into this thing to show the fandom, “Hey look! We got things you like up in this piece! Now give us some money!” Besides physical features, I really can’t describe the other Lanterns to you from what I saw in the movie. Why bother including them if we’re not going to be given any sort of emotional hook to make us give two shits about them?

Back on Earth…

Hal Jordan is instantly unlikable. It kind of feels like the writers were going for the whole Tony Stark, lovable asshole thing. But it just doesn’t work with Hal. There’s nothing lovable about him and every bit of dialog that he spits made me grit my teeth. I guess Carol is a sucker for asshats because Hal doesn’t really grow as a person throughout the course of the movie. There’s a clunky bit of dialog between Carol and Hal where she’s trying to convince him to keep fighting because the ring chose him for a reason and I nearly fell out of my chair, dizzy from how much my eyes were rolling.

The chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively is terribly meh. I don’t know how, but every scene with the two of them sucks the life out of an already stagnant experience.

Hector sure screams a lot. That’s how you can tell he’s the villain. Creepy enough, but again, another character I couldn’t give two shits about. The idea of him being in love with Carol since childhood seems like a good foundation to build a villain upon. Add to that childhood rivalry with Hal. But we don’t spend nearly enough time with him to really care. I’m gonna destroy everything because girls. Great fucking motivation for a villain. Yawn. It might have been cool to see scenes with the three of them as friends with just a hint of jealously burning in Hector’s eyes. That could have made for a much more compelling, emotionally entangling plot point for a villain turn. Instead, we got the Cliff’s Notes version which fell flat.

Make Up Your Mind

In the end, it felt like two different movies hacked together into one mess. On the one hand, it wanted to be a big space opera. On the other hand, it wanted to be an emotional redemption story. Both movies smashed into each other with pieces all over the damn place. I think if they picked one movie, it could have been quite enjoyable.

I could very well see this as a proper trilogy. The first film would take place all on Earth with no GL Corp or Sinestro or Paralax. This would be your origin story, Hal gets the ring, tries to unlock its secrets, learns that the ring is weak against yellow, tries to patch things up with Carol, fights a big bad, ultimately learns the good ol’ “with great power comes great responsibility.”

Second film, you introduce the GL Corp. Hal gets called up to Oa where he has to unlearn all the shit that he’s been doing wrong with the ring. We get some real training scenes. All the while, a cosmic big bad is coming to destroy Oa. This is where you’d introduce Paralax and explain the weakness against yellow.

Third film, Sinestro turns. He decimates the Corp and it’s up to Hal to save Oa and the universe. You could even have the battle return to Earth with Sinestro looking to destroy Hal by decimating Earth.

Give the movies space to breath. You don’t have to introduce every GL trope in one damn film. Space them out and build up a proper franchise.

Green Lantern, No More

I’d be really surprised to see a sequel to this thing. Maybe in five years, they’ll do a remake like Sony did with Amazing Spider-Man. I’ve heard rumblings that Ryan Reynolds will reprise his role as Hal Jordan the upcoming Justice League movie. I don’t know that I could stomach more of him as Hal. His portrayal was completely unlikable from the moment he opened his mouth. I’ve liked Ryan Reynolds in movies, but for some reason, he just didn’t do it for me here. Sure, he looked pretty good in the CG suit. But I just couldn’t give two shits about his Hal.

So there. Green Lantern. Not nearly as good as the animated version. Any of the animated version.

Amazing Spider-Man is a Worthy Reboot

I was among the first to decry the reboot of the Spider-Man movie franchise. The disappointing memory of Spider-Man 3 had yet to fade and already they were announcing a new direction. When the first photos of the actual suit, my disdain only deepened.

And then the previews started trickling out and my interest was piqued. What was this about Peter’s parents? That’s an angle that hasn’t been explored properly in any of the movies, the cartoons, the games, or even the comics. Could this new take on Spider-Man actually be something actually new? By the time I saw the first full trailer in a theater, I was ready to be amazed. My nerd rage was quelled and on July 3, there I was in a crowded theater waiting for that familiar MARVEL title crawl to fill my vision.

Before I drop into spoiler territory, I want to say now that I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I think it’s more deep than the Raimi Spider Trilogy. However, I can’t deny that without the first Spider-Man flick, this one would not have been possible. I really believe that Raimi’s first Spider-Man helped usher in a new era of comic book flicks that has been, for the most part, quite awesome for us comic book nerds. So I’ve got to give credit where credit is due. That said, I preferred this new take on Spider-Man.

Andrew Garfield’s performance as Peter Parker is more believable and honest than Toby Maguire’s. Emma Stone is stunning as Gwen and the chemistry between her and Garfield is magical. They’re a stronger couple that Maguire or Dunst ever were through three films. I hope they continue with the franchise and diverge from the comics because I don’t think I could take seeing Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy die. Though I know it’s doomed from the start, I just want to see them make it so badly. I never felt this strongly about Pete and MJ from the previous trilogy. I would watch a romcom with Garfield and Stone. I wouldn’t with Maguire and Dunst.

I could go on and on and on about how Garfield and Stone and how perfect they are together, but I’ll save you the vomit inducing love letter. Instead, let’s discuss some of the more spoilery points of the film and my one big problem with it that prevents me from calling it the BEST SUPER HERO FLICK EVAR!

Spoilery discussion below:

Read More

D-War, AKA, Girl With a Shitty Dragon Tattoo

Dragon Wars: D-War sounds like a movie that I aught to enjoy. It has dragon in the title. It features large creatures fighting each other. I mean, that’s fucking Jamie bait right there. I missed it in the theaters and had nearly forgotten of its existence until this past Saturday when Audrey and I were cruising the Hulu for something to watch. D-War randomly popped up and we both looked at each other, knowingly. Oh, it’s on! So we clicked play and settled in for what we thought was going to be a movie about dragons.

I am here to tell you that Dragon Wars is a total misnomer. It should be called Giant Snake Wars. No, scratch that. Wars implies more than one thing fighting. It should be called Giant Snake Attack. It’s bad and not the enjoyable kind of bad where you invite your friends over for a bad movie night and make fun of the fucker all night long. It’s the kind of bad where you regret that you spent time watching it rather than sanding your skin off.

The plot is a jumbled mess, so this review is going to jump around in no apparent chronological order.

Jason Behr, Mush Mouth

Jason Behr stars as Ethan, our fated hero. I can’t understand a fucking word he says in this thing. He swallows every line of dialog. Perhaps it’s an acting technique. Perhaps low-talking is supposed to bring a certain gravitas to his performance. Perhaps the director told him to speak as if every line was the most important thing he would ever say, ever. It makes it difficult to give two shits about a character when you can’t understand anything he’s saying.

Ethan is a terrible lead. Besides being “fated” to protect the lady chick imbued with the dragon ball (more on that in a bit), there’s no reason for him to be our hero. He’s some kind of reporter, but he has no heroing skills. His idea of tactics is to RUN. He can’t fight worth a damn. He’s not even a good investigator which is part of his damn job. He relies on his camera man to find the girl. He’s pretty useless and a terrible character to carry a movie. And I thought this thing was going to be able dragons!

The Girl With a Shitty Dragon Tattoo

According to Korean legend, every 500 years a girl is born with the power to transform a giant snake into a heavenly dragon. Should an evil snake gain that power, the world will fall into darkness. The girl will be born with the mark of a shitty dragon tattoo on her shoulder.

Now because she’s a girl, she must be protected by a manly warrior. And this kind of annoyed me. If the lady has the dragon ball inside of her, shouldn’t that give her some awesome powers? Shouldn’t she be like this badass warrior chick? Or at least have some kind of mystical wisdom? I mean, she should have some kind of dragon traits. But no, she’s just a doormat waiting to be protected by her warrior man.

In a flash back to ancient Korea, we get to see the warrior guy and the chick fall in love. When she turns 20, she’s supposed to be sacrificed to the good snake so that the world will be awesome and happy. Of course, the bad snake raises an army of evil to pursue them both. Instead of chucking his girlfriend to the good snake, the warrior man decides that they both should commit suicide and live together in death. Huh? Whatever. They both die and no one gets to be a dragon. And then we get brought into modern times.

At least the warrior man that we see in the prologue is an actual warrior. Five hundred years later, he’s reincarnated as Ethan, the lame reporter with mush mouth. Shouldn’t he be like a cop or ex military or bouncer or something remotely warrior-like? A fucking reporter? How the shit is he supposed to protect anyone?

Oh, I guess I should mention the girl. Amanda Brooks plays Sarah who is the reincarnated girl with a shitty dragon tattoo. Much like Ethan, there’s nothing remotely interesting about Sarah. She has a book full of ancient Chinese script that is supposed to protect her which is weird considering that this movie is directed by a Korean guy, but other than running and screaming, we don’t learn all that much about her. She’s a boring character so there’s no emotional impact at all when she ultimately sacrifices herself so that the good snake can turn into a dragon.

Also, why are they both reincarnated in Los Angeles? Why couldn’t this thing have taken place in modern day Korea? Then we’d at least get to stare at Korean Pop Sensation Rain all day! Bah!

Ancient Korean Secret, Rocket Launchers

Look at these fucking things!

In ancient Korea, the evil snake’s evil army has a bunch of these rocket launching creatures. They fucking rule. So if the evil snake’s army had these things 500 years ago, why hasn’t evil conquered Korea? Did they just go away when the warrior dude decided to chuck himself and the girl off a cliff? I mean, yeah, the snake has to wait another 500 years for the chance to become a dragon and all that, but in the mean time, why not stick around and run the place? It would make it a whole lot easier to send an entire nation out to capture the shitty dragon tattoo lady. And you’d fucking dominate with those rocket launching monsters.

Stupid Jewelry

In ancient times, the warrior is given a pendant. It looks pretty rad, but we don’t really know what it’s for. It doesn’t glow when it’s near the girl with the dragon ball. It doesn’t react when it’s near one of the snakes. Yet somehow, it’s a big deal when the warrior chucks the pendant before he goes cliff diving with his dragon ball girlfriend.

Ethan is given the pendant and told it’s supposed to protect him as it did in his previous ancient Korean life. We kind of forget it’s there until the final battle when Ethan faces off against the leader of the evil snake’s army who is some wrinkly old White dude because why exactly? Anyway, Ethan tries to swing a sword at the evil general but because he’s a useless twat, the general easily disarms Ethan. The general delivers the killing blow and manages to hit the pendant making him go all explodey. Lame.

So let’s get this straight. All the warrior guy had to do in the first place was chuck his jewelry at evil and he’d win? That’s kind of anti-climactic.

Good is Laaaaaaazy

Ethan and Sarah spend the entire movie running away from the evil snake and its army of evil. The good snake is absolutely nowhere to be found. Isn’t this supposed to be a war? What the fuck? The good snake is just as big as the bad one! Get off your fucking slithery stomach and help these useless people you fucking cow! Goddamn, I want to see monsters fighting, not people running! What the fuck is going on!

We finally get a proper monster fight at the end when the good snake appears out of fucking nowhere and eats Sarah’s dragon power. The good snake turns into a heavenly dragon and we get to see where all the money in the effects budget went. It’s a great scene, but it’s too little too late. The entire movie should have been like this. For fuck’s sake, we were promised a fucking DRAGON WAR!

And You’re Kissing Why, Exactly?

Sarah gets locked in her hospital room because the doctors are worried that her tattoo might be some kind of infection. Um, WHAT?! Ethan eventually figures out that Sarah is at the hospital and gains access to her room because he’s a reporter. These are actual things that occur in this wretched excuse for a film. So this is their absolute first meeting. He rescues her from the hospital and they drive away.

The next scene we get is Sarah and Ethan walking on the beech. They turn awkwardly towards each other and, for absolutely no apparent reason, kiss.

That’s the way to do it, fellas. Rescue a chick from quarantine and she’ll jump your bones on the beech.

FUCK THIS MOVIE!

Okay, the fact that they fell in love as Koreans is not enough to justify getting it on as two random strangers in LA. They just met! Sure, there’s a lot of adrenaline pumping around after running away from a giant snake, but unless Ethan or Sarah are both whores, there’s got to be more than just adrenaline to justify a first kiss. I’d say there was a scene cut, but that would be giving this thing way too much benefit of the doubt.

Darryl Philips, Man of Legend

Craig Robinson is in this and it’s difficult to see him as anyone but Darryl from “The Office.” He must have laughed his ass off everyday of filming this stinking turd. A paycheck is a paycheck and at least they didn’t kill him. His character actually does more to find and save Sarah than Ethan. Why couldn’t he have been the reincarnated warrior?

Dragon Bore

There’s some shit in there with the military that I haven’t bothered to mention and some CIA or FBI or Unnamed Federal Agency agents and shootings and stuff. Did they add anything at all to the plot? Nope.

This movie pissed me off. No dragons. Boring characters. NO DRAGONS. Don’t fucking tease me like that! You have the CG budget. Stop wasting time on those rocket launching monsters and make me some goddamn dragons! Bleh.

Do not watch this. Don’t even bring it up for a bad movie night. It’s worth the bandwidth.

Apparently In the New Millennium, the Black Character Still Dies

Audrey and I caught Super 8 this weekend. It’s a thoroughly charming film with characters that you instantly care about. Although, all the adults in this movie are either complete fucking morons are stubborn assholes. And there’s a bit in the last scene that made our eyes roll terribly hard. Overall, it was quite enjoyable. And I don’t care what Abrams says, I like to think this one is totally related to Cloverfield.

However, I’m calling this shit out. There is one Black character of note who has more than just a sentence or two of dialog. He is totally murdered. There’s another Black character who has no dialog but interacts with our young heros in a few small ways. Guess who bites it before the final act. Okay, so the film is set in the late 70s and if a monster movie of that period featured a Black character, chances are you knew who was going to die before too long. I’m glad someone is finally doing giant monster movies in America, but for fuck’s sake, this “Black guy always dies” trope needs to end, especially if you only have one Black character that actually impacts the story. You’re not supposed to kill off Token!

I used to do something called Jam Scale Reviews which is why that tag is still around. I would review movies, comics, and television shows based on their minority count and how minorities were treated in the product. While I enjoyed Super 8 and think it’s a wonderful summer flick, it rates terribly on the Jam Scale. Which is really disappointing. But what do I know. This thing is going to rake in big bucks this summer regardless of who dies.

Disney Brings Tales From Earthesea and Nausicaa to DVD and Blu-Ray

It’s review week here at AZM! Every day this week I’ll be reviewing a movie or DVD release or comic book or something. Okay, really, I only have enough material for three days of reviews. But I’ll see if I can find something else those other two days.

To kick things off, I received some review copies of two new releases from Disney that are hitting stores tomorrow.

Tales From Earthsea is the first full length animated feature film directed by Hayao Miyazaki’s son, Goro Miyazaki. The film is based on the fantasy novel series by Ursula K. Le Guin. Since I don’t read anything without pictures or word balloons, I’ve never read the series so I don’t know how close the film follows the series. The title is a bit of a misnomer because there’s really only one tale that’s told in this film.

The world of Earthsea is out of balance. Crops are dying. Dragon has returned. Magic is dwindling. Chaos threatens to destroy the world of man and it up to the Archmage Sparrowhawk and young prince Arren to discover the cause.

Even though it’s definitely Goro’s film, you can feel the elder Miyazaki’s touch throughout the film. The look of the environments in the film is inspired by an illustration Hayao had done to portray his vision of the world of Earthsea. The little details that help realize Earthsea as a tangible environment are a familiar hallmark of Hayao’s productions. 3D CG for environments is used throughout the production which may be something that Goro brings to the table (although, we saw some early Ghibli CG work in Spirited Away). It’s difficult to tell because the 3D set pieces are so well blended into the work that if you’re not looking for it, you probably wouldn’t notice.

I never bother with the English language track on these releases, but Disney has assembled an impressive cast of voice actors, Timothy Dalton, Cheech Marin, Willen Dafoe, and Mariska Hargitay. There’s a special feature about the making of the film and a fun interactive feature that gives you previews of all the Disney Ghibli releases. But I suspect there will be a Blu-Ray DVD combo pack sometime in the future. If you don’t have a Blu-Ray player or have a previous Ghibli Blu-Ray release (it seems like a lot of the extra features are the same across the Blu-Ray releases), you can pick up Tales From Earthsea tomorrow at your favorite DVD retailer for $29.99 USD ($35.99 CDN).

Disney is also re-releasing Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind in a Blu-Ray DVD Combo pack tomorrow. Someday I will find someone with a Blu-Ray player so I can really compare the quality between the two versions.

Earth has somehow survived a destructive global war. The Valley of the Wind is one of the few places left that have escaped the horrifying ravages of war. A poisonous forest threatens to overtake the valley so it’s up to the young Princess Nausicaa to somehow bring harmony back to the ravaged world.

This is one of my favorite Ghibli films and I think one of Hayao Miyazaki’s best. The Ohmu creatures are absolutely wonderful to behold. And the animated sequence of the God Warrior is still one of the most striking scenes in anime to this date.

The DVD has a Behind the Microphone feature with the English language voice cast as well as “The Birth Story of Studio Ghibli” which is the same one on the Ponyo Blu-Ray DVD combo. The Blu-Ray disc, which is mocking me right now as I can’t play it, has a “Behind the Studio” feature that goes into the origin of the Nausicaa film and an interview with Hayao Miyazaki. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

The 2-Disc Blu-Ray combo pack of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind drops tomorrow for $39.99 USD ($44.99 CDN).

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