Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Cinema File #149: "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" Review

Full disclosure, as I've mentioned on this site before, I was never a G.I. Joe kid growing up. I can't really say why, except that I guess I just never really found stories concerning war or gun toting hyper masculinity all that appealing at a young age. I distinctly remember having one G.I. Joe toy as a kid, found in one of those grab bags at the thrift store with ten other small toys, and I always wondered what all the fuss was about, considering my guy was just some blond dude in a Hawaiian shirt who looked like he was on vacation. I didn't like the first G.I. Joe movie, but I didn't exactly hate it either; it was marginally entertaining for what it was and didn't take itself too seriously, but I didn't have the nostalgic preparation to care all that much. There are many action sequences in the new G.I. Joe: Retaliation that I could definitely see myself having played out as a kid had I been a fan (though mine would have no doubt ended in the Ghostbusters' Firehouse with an assist by the Power Rangers with the flippable de-morphing heads). And yet, purely as a movie, I'm just not feeling the same energy as before.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Cinema File #148: "Come Out And Play" Review

Alright, I honestly don't know how I'm supposed to take this one. I just watched a horror movie from last year called Come Out And Play, and just coming away from the experience, my initial reaction is more schizophrenic than the diminutive killers I just saw gallivanting across this movie. This is the worst movie I have ever liked, or maybe I hated it despite its stylish flourish. I have no idea. It would probably be best to give it a few days and see if all of my disparate thoughts coalesce into something more concrete and informative, but screw it, I've never let this sort of confusion stop me before. Let's do this thing.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Cinema File #147: "All Superheroes Must Die (aka Vs.)" Review

You know, I'm a sucker for superheroes. Despite what you may think based on my reviews for the two highest grossing superhero movies of 2012, it actually takes a lot for me to outright dislike one. As hit and miss as the last fifteen or so years of the comic book movie renaissance have been, I still have to consider it a net positive, if only because it has shifted the realm of possibility to allow for movies like All Superheroes Must Die to exist. A movie this esoteric, a superhero horror thriller not based on any established franchise or character (that I know of), would never have been made twenty years ago, and while it has its flaws, my appreciation for the effort and the care taken with it is illustrative of a true labor of comic book love, and I found it to be highly enjoyable.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Cinema File #146: "A Little Bit Zombie" Review

No Donnie and Marie jokes, I promise.

In my review for the zombie romcom Warm Bodies, I lamented the fact that in order to tell that unconventional love story, the essential thing that made zombies scary and cool had to be sacrificed. My argument then and now is that presenting a zombie that retains or regains their humanity defeats the purpose of a zombie, because to be a zombie is to be a cruel parody of the human condition. Recently, I watched a straight to DVD horror comedy called A Little Bit Zombie, which features a creature explicitly classified as a  zombie-human hybrid, and despite some glaring flaws, I still enjoyed it quite a bit. Am I just a huge, shameless hypocrite? In context I'd say no, but you be the judge.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Cinema File #145: "Parental Guidance" Review

Well, I guess I did say I was tempted to watch it. Didn't think I'd actually get the chance to do it this soon. I just saw Parental Guidance, the Billy Crystal/Bette Midler family comedy no one asked for. Sometimes there are movies that pleasantly surprise me, far surpassing my expectations. Other times movies surprise me by being even worse than I thought they would be. And sometimes, well, a movie turns out exactly as you expect it to. Its not good, its not bad, its just, I thing that happened, I guess. Its good to see some actors you haven't seen in mainstream roles in a while, and there's nothing especially awful about any of it, Yeah, just eh.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Cinema File #144: "The Croods" Review

 Before I start this review, I have to admit a little bias here. I am an unabashed Nicolas Cage fan, to the extent that I might not always be able to be the most objective critic when it comes to movies that feature him. I don't think that my love for the actor's oddball style is necessarily relevant to my feelings about his latest film The Croods, as I imagine I probably would have liked this movie just as much with another actor in Cage's role. That being said, I'm also an easy mark when it comes to animated movies, so for all I know this one is terrible, and I'm just too distracted by the things I personally groove on to notice. I don't believe this of course, but I felt I should put it out there just in case.

Listen To Every Episode Of My Podcast Right Here On Stupid Blue Planet! Right Now!

If you'll shoot your gaze to the bottom of the site, you'll see a new fancy shmancy blue bar with a play button. Here you will find a playlist with every episode of my podcast, The Dirty Sons Of Pitches, including our Netflix commentary tracks and our special series Directors Cut. It will always be queued to the current episode, which this week is part one of our big two part one year anniversary show, but you can access the others through this panel as well. Enjoy.

Dirty Sons Of Pitches: Nome King Approved

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Cinema File #143: "Olympus Has Fallen" Review

Die Hard in the White House is such a brilliantly simple concept that I'm surprised it hasn't been utilized before. This year we're getting two takes on this same premise of the Oval Office under siege, and after just seeing the first offering Olympus Has Fallen, I'd say the upcoming White House Down has a tough act to follow. While thoroughly entertaining, by the standards of action movies its perhaps only just decent, but in a world where even John McClane, the archetypal inspiration for this film's hero has become an unwatchable parody of his former self, decent is a luxury we shouldn't dismiss so lightly.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Cinema File #142: "21 And Over" Review

Apparently, there is a character in the new comedy 21 And Over named Jeff Chang. I wasn't sure if you were aware of this from watching the trailer, but yes, in fact, one of the main characters, get this, goes by the name Jeff Chang. See, I missed this at first, so it was oh so very helpful that the movie not only went out of its way to refer to Jeff Chang by his full name, Jeff Chang, every time he is mentioned, but that they would proceed to mention his full name, Jeff Chang, about, oh, say, five thousand more times throughout the film. And its just so damn funny too, you know, his name being Jeff Chang and all. I laughed literally every time the name Jeff Chang was spoken. I'm even laughing now. Every time I type the name Jeff Chang, I have to stop and compose myself because of just how absolutely hilarious this name is. Jeff Chang.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Cinema File #141: "The Call" Review

My first impulse upon setting out to review The Call is to say that it was much better than I expected it to be, but then I'm forced to wonder just why my expectations were so low in the first place. Maybe its the giant WWE logo I saw before the film started, but I bear no particularly animus to wrestling, and thinking back on the last WWE produced movie I saw, The Day, it wasn't terrible, and had a certain style and charm to it. Maybe the 1950's era whiskey swilling misogynist inside me just instinctively cringes at these one-strong-willed-woman-against-the-world character pieces. Or maybe I just haven't forgiven Halle Berry for that stupid Toad joke at the end of the first X-Men movie (or for that matter, B.A.P.S). In any case, The Call definitely did exceed my arbitrarily low expectations, and though it has its flaws, or rather one large glaring flaw, it's still a highly enjoyable thriller.

Friday, March 22, 2013

From The Idea Hole: This Meets That, Part Four (Centaurs, Poachers, Mermaids, Fairy Cops, and Royal Lotharios)

Okay, here’s the thing. I came up with this weird way of coming up with movie ideas, where I combine two movies at random and try to think of an original idea incorporating the themes of both. We’ve played it on my podcast a few times, and it has always been successful, so I decided to play it by myself and start posting the results on this blog. The last time I posted one, I kind of accidentally came upon a theme, so I decided that from then on, I’d try to follow suit with similar pitches in each post. Being an obsessive completest, I’ve since developed several weeks worth of pitch categories, and I have to stop myself arbitrarily before I go insane. In that spirit, here’s the next one, focusing on a topic near and dear to my heart – Fairy Tales.

1: Fairy Tails – Repo Men meets The Spiderwick Chronicles

First up, a pitch I tried out on a recent episode of my podcast focused on fantasy concepts. It takes the idea of mercenary organ harvesters from Repo Men and the idea of a catalog or field manual of fantasy creatures from The Spiderwick Chronicles. I actually envision this more as a TV show or a comic book than a movie in order to articulate its full potential, but the basic concept would follow a team of rough and tumble poachers who specialize in fairy tale creatures. Each week they would track down a new monster based on a famous fairy tale in order to sell it or a piece of it to their boss, the owner of a curio shop who extracts and re-sells elements of them for various purposes (ground up unicorn horn sold as an aphrodisiac, or fairy wings as a cure for erectile dysfunction, etc). Each week we’d presumably have the mission, with a lot of banter and difficulty, and then we’d go back to the shop to find out the ultimate use for the product, which will often seem ridiculous in light of all the effort exerted to procure it.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mockbusted #15: Jack The Giant Killer

I started reviewing mockbusters as a separate feature on this blog as a reaction to a particular example of one that I actually thought was better than the more successful film upon whose coattails it was designed to ride. Since then I have highlighted a few examples of similar mad genius, but for the most part, the results have been less pleasant. The fact is, most mockbusters are not very good, in general or in comparison to the movies they are mockbusting, and I have yet to have a mockbuster be better than a movie I actually liked in the first place. So, when I found Jack The Giant Slayer to be surprisingly not terrible, I didn't hold out much hope for Jack The Giant Killer. When I found out it was directed by the same guy who did Alien Origin, perhaps my least favorite mockbuster ever, my hopes sank even lower.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

This Is A Thing That Exists!: The Haunted Dollhouse

In the past on this blog I've mentioned my perhaps out-sized love and appreciation for the company currently known as Full Moon Features, as well as its long time producer and schlock master Charles Band. The Full Moon movies of the 80's and early 90's were, for better or worse, my first real introduction to horror and fantasy as a kid just by virtue of being so easily accessible at my local video store, and even though I have long since developed a better understanding of the classic horror canon, I can't shake the nostalgic glee I get whenever I see that little lunar logo show up on a DVD. This some might say misplaced passion is what led me to pick up The Haunted Dollhouse, a recycled anthology film centered around the subject that made Band famous, killer dolls, and after watching it, the only thing I can say about it is that this, is a thing, that exists!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Cinema File #140: "Jack The Giant Slayer" Review

I am a fan of fairy tales. I've talked about this before on my blog, specifically in terms of my love of giants in a fantasy context, and I recently spent several months developing and writing the first draft of a television pilot set amid the world of The Brothers Grimm. Among my colleagues on the podcast I record every week where we do nothing but pitch ideas for movies, I'm pretty much the resident fantasy/fairy tale guy always pushing pitch themes in that direction, and if an episode goes by where I can't work in a reference to The Labyrinth or The Dark Crystal, than I feel like I haven't done my job. The past few years have not been good to my ilk, with not one but two television series trying and failing to capture the dark whimsy of those old stories, and a recent spate of similar movies with a lot of potential, and very poor execution. All of this led me to walk into Jack The Giant Slayer (formerly Killer) a bit hesitant, but thankfully, while I definitely think it could have been a lot better, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I didn't hate this movie.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Cinema File #139: "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" Review

Recently when I reviewed the Sam Raimi film Oz, The Great And Powerful, I began with a rather arch opening line, saying the "we live in a world devoid of magic." Melodrama aside, at the time I was referring to the way in which the illusion and wonder once inherent to film has been lost in the wake of computer generated imaging becoming the norm over practical effects. In the heyday of cinema, much of what we now call special effects were employed using many of the same tricks of the stage magic trade, now with a platform more malleable than any showroom. Maybe its fitting that after a high fantasy film caused me to lose my faith in movie magic, a comedy all about the downward slide of real world magic would serve to brighten my spirits, if only a little bit.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Cinema File #138: "Small Apartments" Review

Krod Mandoon notwithstanding, I've always liked Little Britain's Matt Lucas. Whenever I see him pop up in something, I usually take it as a guarantee that I'm in for a strange, but also strangely charming performance. I just watched Small Apartments , an independent comedy where Lucas is on full display, both in terms of him being the lead and major focus of the movie, and in terms of him never putting on pants, and spending large swathes of the movie wearing nothing but a pair of presumably unwashed tighty whities. I've now officially seen more of Matt Lucas than anyone could ever want to, and despite an engaging performance and an accomplished supporting cast all pulling their weight as well, the result is more than a little underwhelming.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Cinema File #137: "Stand Up Guys" Review

Anymore, when I see Al Pachino in a movie, I begin to worry. I hate that that is my first reaction to the presence of an actor who has turned in so many phenomenal performances over the years, and truth be told, looking back on his filmography I don't see nearly as many bad ones in the bunch than I remember. I don't know where his bad reputation comes from for me (okay, that's a lie, it's Jack and Jill), but I wonder if the extent to which he is now seen as something of a ham stems from just how passionate he is, for better or worse, whenever he commits to a role. Pachino goes big, whether he should or not, and while it has backfired in the past, thankfully his latest bombastic character is a delight from beginning to end in Stand Up Guys.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Cinema File #136: "Inseparable" Review

Fair warning, I'm about to talk about a movie I just watched called Inseparable, a Chinese/English hybrid fantasy comedy starring Kevin Spacey, and I've come to the conclusion that I can't talk about how much I liked the film without giving away a major plot twist. I personally don't consider it to be a spoiler because it is something that is revealed in the first twenty minutes or so, so its not like a "Bruce Willis was dead the whole time" moment or anything, but if you like to go into movies knowing as little as possible so as to be surprised, you might want to skip this one, and just take my word for it that the movie is very good.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Cinema File #135: "Noobz" Review

Oh how I'm trying to resist going on a rant about what I hate about the state of modern gaming. After my Atlas Shrugged Part 2 review devolved into a general screed against the author of the novel that inspired it and I forgot to actually mention the film until the last paragraph, I swore I'd try to stay a little more focused from now on in these things. Even so, this Noobz movie, in addition to being just absolutely terrible, highlights everything I've grown to loathe about videogames and the so-called geek culture surrounding them. You know what, fuck it, I can do both, but in case I get off track, remember, apart from any other point I might make, this movie really sucks too.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Dirty Sons Of Pitches Episode #40 Is Available!

Join us once again for a weird trip down the yellow brick road where we review the latest Oz film, recast the entire Oz trilogy, pitch fantasy films of our own, rape the Dali Lama, bitch about CGI, form a heist party, and stick a whole human head inside of a vagina with a special guest star!

Next week, A commentary track, and the week after that, our big ass anniversary show. Stay Tuned.

CLICK HERE for the current episode.

The Cinema File #134: "The Witches Of Oz (Aka, Dorothy And The Wizard Of Oz)" Review

If you haven't been reading the blog for the last couple of days, I've been on a bit of an Oz kick recently ever since I reviewed the latest twist on L. Frank Baum's universe, Oz The Great And Powerful. I've already talked about two other classic Oz films I feel are often under appreciated, the unofficial sequel Return To Oz and the blaxploitation remake The Wiz, and I thought I'd round things out by talking about a more recent effort, aired in 2011 and released on DVD just last year called The Witches of Oz (or Dorothy and the Witches of Oz depending on the version you're watching). Its directed by the same guy who did Transmorphers, who is evidently so proud of that fact that he managed to include a poster for that movie in the background of this one, on a billboard in Times Square no less. So, how does it turn out?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

In Defense Of: The Wiz

I typically reserve this particular series for films I like in defiance of a larger critical consensus against them, such as the surprisingly good It's Pat, or my last review, the criminally underrated Return To Oz. I was sort of hesitant to talk about this movie in this context, because every time I bring it up to people, I get nothing but positive reactions to it. Though it was a critical and commercial failure at the time that many cite as the end of Blaxploitation as a genre (a fact they apparently forgot to tell Tyler Perry), it has since gained a remarkable cult following, so I wasn't sure if The Wiz really qualified for this section of the blog. And yet, I think my opinion of the film might just be controversial enough to justify a full throated defense. After watching it again for the first time in say four or five years, I think The Wiz might actually be better than the original Wizard of Oz.

Monday, March 11, 2013

In Defense Of: Return To Oz

Looking back on my childhood, I turned out surprisingly well-adjusted considering the kinds of movies I watched as a kid. Growing up during the hey day of Don Bluth and Jim Henson's Creature Shop, my generation experienced an ethos where films meant for children could contain some of the most disturbing and horrifying imagery as long as a happy ending was tacked on in the last few minutes. This probably sounds like a thinly veiled criticism of that era, but God do I miss it now, as every film with any potential to appeal to children is so sanitized that I literally fear the dullards that will result from the current crop of family entertainment. Sure I was warped, sure I was traumatized, but I was also inspired. Maybe I wouldn't be as morbid today without them, but I wouldn't be as creative either. To my mind, the best of these, or the worst depending on your perspective, is Return To Oz.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

From The Idea Hole: Warlords Of Oz

[Note: The following turned out to be a lot longer than I thought it would be, and is practically a mini-treatment for a movie that will never, ever be made. Feel free to ignore it for either of those reasons.]

A number of years ago, long before I ever heard about the latest twist on the Oz-verse, I had this idea for a dark and gritty sequel to the original Wizard Of Oz. I think I briefly eluded to it at some point on the blog, but never wrote about it for whatever reason, so I figure now is as good a time as any considering my last review subject. The idea was one I came up with in highschool, during that faze I tell myself every highschool aged boy goes through where you see everything through the most disturbing and perverted lens possible. My mission at the time, both generally and in terms of my creative process, was to take anything I could find that was considered good and wholesome and find a way to mold it into something awful. Here's what I got when I tackled a 1939 MGM family classic:

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Cinema File #133: "Oz, The Great And Powerful" Review

We live in a world devoid of magic. 

In film, where once we were able to sit back in quiet amazement and watch as cinematic magicians took us on a guided tour of fantastic worlds once thought beyond our imagination, now we have...CGI on a set covered in green fabric. Perhaps it was too much to hope for that one of my favorite directors, and one so well known for his love of practical effects even as he lives and works in an industry that has all but abandoned them, might have been the one to restore some of that bygone mystery and majesty. If I picked up on the themes and metaphors right, Oz, The Great And Powerful seems to be as preoccupied as I am with the way film making has changed since the universal classic upon which it is based, and while it certainly does its bare minimum job of being entertaining, it left me wondering if I should let go of what little hope I have left of a return to the good old days.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Cinema File #132: "Spiders" Review

Why aren’t there more giant spider movies?

One of the first movies I ever reviewed for this blog was a Syfy Channel Original called Arachnoquake, which I still count as one of the worst movies I’ve seen since I started publishing text reviews last year. When most people think of spiders in the context of horror movies, they probably go straight to Arachnophobia, but that one always disappointed me because the spiders weren’t big, just super poisonous. The only modern giant spider movie I can think of is Eight Legged Freaks, which I could never bring myself to watch due to my intense distaste for actor David Arquette. This seems like a specific area of science fiction/horror that is rife with largely untapped potential, and while it almost certainly won’t win any awards, the simple pleasures of giant killer arachnid action done right made today’s film, simply titled Spiders, a treat.

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