Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Cinema File #208: "White House Down" Review

This year, we were promised two movies with eerily similar plots that could both easily be described as Die Hard in the White House, a premise that at the time I thought might sound better on paper, but in execution was almost guaranteed to be too over the top and silly to work. I've now seen both films, Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down, and while both were as over the top and silly as I was expecting, somehow both of them managed to come together much better than I thought they would going in. Despite the lighter tone one would expect from Roland Emmerich and the notable lack of Morgan Freeman levels of gravitas, White House Down is I would say at least marginally if not clearly the superior film. That is, Channing Tatum notwithstanding.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Cinema File #207: "Spring Breakers" Review

Spring Break!!!

Spring Break forever. That's the motto of this movie, so aptly titled Spring Breakers, if only because all I can gather from any of it is that spring break is happening somewhere, and its a movie designed not to entertain, but to break the spirit of anyone who dares to watch it. This movie is insufferable, if you can even call it a movie, as I'm not entirely sure I didn't just watch someone's NSFW vacation reel interspersed with a few rap videos. Spring break forever, because you've just entered a dark pocket universe where time, sensible narrative structure, and basic human decency have no meaning.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Cinema File #206: "Imaginaerum" Review

Outside of the occasional bit of goofball hair band nostalgia, I’ve never really been a serious metal guy. I’ve always voted Hagar over Roth, and I was the asshole who didn’t understand what all the fuss was about Jethro Tull winning the first Metal Grammy over Metallica. I mean, Crest Of A Knave was a kick ass album, right? Anyway, all of this serves to predicate the fact that I was unaware of the Finnish Metal band Nightwish before I watched Imaginaerum, a dark musical fantasy film designed to showcase their music and macabre style. Had I been aware of this before hand, I might have been hesitant to sit through what sounds like it might turn out to be a glorified feature length music video. Luckily I walked into this movie blind, free of any preconceptions, and walked out having experienced something refreshingly original.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Idiot Box: Hannibal 1x12/1x13 - “Releves” and “Savoureax”

When I first started watching Hannibal, I had no reason to think that I would grow to like the series as much as I have. Though I've always been a casual fan of the films (or a few of them at least), I've never read any of the books, and the main draw of the show for me has always been the influence of Bryan Fuller, one of my all time favorite television writers. Even as it has gotten better and better, I've always questioned whether this was the best use of his time, especially given the loss of the brilliant Munsters remake that made it possible. Now that its officially ended its first season, I have to admit that whatever my misgivings about opportunity costs and the limitations of re-telling a story that's been adapted so many times before, the masterful execution typified by these last two episodes proves that its all worth it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dropping The Ball – Sick Day Thoughts On The Avengers

Since I started this blog back in October of last year, I've prided myself on updating everyday with current movie reviews and other bits of commentary and creative writing. Today, I am too sick to be verbose, so instead of my normal essay length post, a quick missive. See. I famously hated the crap out of The Avengers movie, a stance no doubt intensified by the universal praise heaped upon the film by comic book fans who wished to defend it so fervently, that my own fandom was called into question because I didn't like it. Anyway, since I was stuck in bed all day, I figured I'd give it another chance, since it was just sitting there on Netflix anyway. I still didn't like it, though admittedly in light of The Dark Knight Rises and Man Of Steel, my opinion has softened a bit. Here are some loose observations I had while re-watching, trying my best to avoid repeating myself from my earlier review:

Why this image? Because fuck you, that's why.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Cinema File #205: “Monsters University” Review

A few years ago John Lasseter, one of the fathers of Pixar and producer of many of its most classic films was heralded as a hero in the industry for making a point of stopping production on the string of Straight To DVD Disney sequels that had plagued the marketplace since the release of Aladdin: The Return Of Jafar. This decision now falls somewhere in between irony and straight up hubris, with the once great CG cartoon house going out of its way to tarnish the legacy of its past great films with a series of increasingly terrible sequels, starting with Toy Story 2 and 3 (sorry, not better than the original, no matter how emphatically people tell me so), then on with Cars 2, and the upcoming Planes (which already has its own sequel due out next year) and Finding Dory, along with today's subject, a prequel to Monsters Inc. Monsters University is not the worst Pixar movie, or even the worst continuation of one (Cars 2 still hits both those counts), but it is definitely somewhere near the bottom of the barrel for this company that we used to think could do no wrong.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Idiot Box: Defiance 1x08/1x09 - "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" and "If I Ever Leave This World Alive" Reviews.

Watching the last two episodes of Defiance in succession for the purposes of this belated review almost makes me want to continue skipping a week to be able to see how this show plays out across multiple installments. I've complained occasionally, mostly in regards to this season's earlier episodes, that the potential inherent to this show sometimes isn't expressed as fully as I would like, and characters, mythology elements, and story lines that should be at the forefront sometimes take a backseat to things that either re-iterate points we already know, or are just not interesting enough to merit focus. The two most recent episodes were two of the best by contrast, showing what this show can do when it puts its mind to it.

The Idiot Box: Warehouse 13 4x16/4x17 - “Runaway” and “What Matters Most” Reviews

Okay, quick note, if you read these regularly but missed the thing last week where there wasn't a review, some stuff came up, so this week's TV reviews are all doubled up. The last two weeks of Warehouse 13 have seen lava assisted prison breaks, old boyfriends, creepy math geniuses, and one of the cooler ideas for an artifact this whole season, as well as the most insulting (in the same episode no less!). For the most part, given my past gripes about the show's slow pace, while its only just kicked up, I'm still a little more interested than I was at the beginning of the season, and only more so now that it looks like the home stretch might actually get us to something.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Cinema File #204: “The Purge” Review

With science fiction, sometimes there comes a point where one's natural desire for verisimilitude must be sacrificed, with the understanding the a story's setting or main conceit need not be realistic or plausible as long as there is a larger point being made. My first hurdle walking into The Purge, which I imagine will probably be the first for many, was trying to get past the fact that its set up is something that would never believably happen, even as it tries to use that set up to explore its heady themes of violence, social inequality, and human nature. I wanted to scoff at the idea of the 12 hour lawless window, but then I was forced to acknowledge that it was no less absurd than the casual acceptance of Soylent Green, the evolution of The Planet of the Apes, or, if you prefer a more classic literary example, the exaggerated dystopia of 1984. This is not to say that The Purge is as good as any of these, either as science fiction or just in general, but I found it surprisingly easy to accept it for what it was and enjoy it despite my initial misgivings.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Epic Saga Of Two Bitchy Film Geeks: My First Encounter With a Dedicated Fan

So, I've been blogging for a little over 8 months now, and of course, given my recent start and somewhat esoteric content and approach to things, I naturally assumed that my readership would level out at a pretty low point. I've actually been pleasantly surprised by my average daily hit count, which continues to rise every month or so and has already surpassed my expectations. Thanks to everybody who has found this site, regular readers and incidental ones, and I'll try to continue keeping up with the daily grind to justify your time.

One of the things I wasn't expecting to happen so soon is that apparently I already have a mortal enemy. I discovered this recently while on Facebook, and managed to have a very long and illuminating conversation with him concerning varying styles of film criticism, our general perspectives on life and how they differ, and most importantly, what a complete little bitch he is. Though I'm fully aware of how self-indulgent this is, I thought I'd post the thread here, which explanations of context and commentary, not to gloat or preen, but just because I thought it was really funny, a good insight into how I think and relate to people, and an excuse not to have to watch Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast just yet.

If you think this is silly or pedantic, I completely understand, but well, its my blog. Also, I don't have any relevant pictures, so I'm just going to randomly pop in pics of monkeys.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Ballad Of Hobo Superman: Further Thoughts On Man Of Steel

You know, one of the reasons I was always a Marvel kid as opposed to a DC kid was because my first introduction to DC comics was the silly Silver Age. This was the era when continuity didn't matter and the goofier the story of the issue could be conveyed on the cover, the better. This is the ethic that brought us Bat Mite, The Bat Baby, The Bat Mummy, and Superman's amazing Super Ventriloquism and Rainbow Powers. And this was before the Adam West TV show or the Donner Superman films famous for absurd elements like Egghead and Amnesia Kisses.

But even in light of all of these references and the above visual evidence that is already quickly eroding whatever respect you might have had for these classic characters, the one example that I always point to typifying the retard strength of the Silver Age's nonsense lies in the following images.

See that. That's Hobo Superman.

And here it is again, in a different issue. Same concept.

And you'll notice, they didn't just do that shit, they did that shit TWICE. They made Superman pretend to be a hobo for an issue, and either thought it was so successful that it merited a second go, or cared so little about repeating themselves that they forgot, and then somehow independently came up with the idea again and thought it was a good idea the second time too!

This kind of thing is why, for all my criticisms, I have to forgive the aforementioned Donner films and the Adam West show, because ultimately, this was what they had to work with. They didn't have Frank Miller (back when he wasn't insane) or Post Crisis story lines to inform their understanding of these characters, and as such its somewhat remarkable that they weren't even worse in terms of fealty to what is now considered the essence of these archetypes. Though they pay homage to this now maligned comic book era, they still represented a jolt of cultural relevance to the brands that at least in the Batman case saved the books from cancellation, and in hindsight acted as a necessary stepping stone for more faithful adaptations.

But of course, we live in a time and place where there is no excuse for this kind of stupid crap. Surely the most recent foray into Superman's world will have learned something from history.

Fuck. This. Movie.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Cinema File #203: "2-Headed Shark Attack" Review

The last Killer Shark Movie I watched, the first in a deliberate series of similar films I intend to view in the next few days and weeks, was known primarily as a Syfy Channel Original Movie, which regular readers of my blog will know is a subject near and dear to my heart. I felt it was only fitting that for my next Shark review, I'd go with an Asylum effort, to see how my favorite schlocky studio tackled this genre to which I am now trying to become familiar. Evidently, they took on the challenge of one-upping the competition a bit too literally, slapping on an extra head to their undersea monster to make for a surprisingly not as terrible as you might think movie called 2-Headed Shark Attack.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Cinema File #202: "Sharktopus" Review

Like Kung Fu movies, Shark Attack movies are a genre of film that considering the totality of my tastes, I probably should be more enthusiatic about, and more well-versed in, than I currently am. The visceral awesomeness of a Shark as a threat to human life in the exaggerated setting of a B movie is undeniably entertaining, and yet there has always seemed to be such a glut of similar movies with the same premise that I've until recently shied away from the arduous tasking of cutting away the wheat from the chaf. What I look for in a Shark movie is a hook, an interesting location, a sci-fi twist, or some other reason to hold it above the rest. To whet my apetite for the upcoming film Sharknado, I decided I would watch a series of Shark Attack movies that I thought had that crucial X-Factor I'm always looking for. First up, the classic Syfy Channel/Roger Corman schlock-fest Sharktopus.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Cinema File #201: “Man Of Steel” Review

Fuck it, man. Seriously, this doesn't have to be so difficult.

About a month ago when I reviewed the latest DC animated film Superman: Unbound, no doubt rushed into production to tie in with today's subject, I noted that even in light of what I thought was a lackluster effort, the longstanding brilliance of Bruce Timm and company at adapting classic comic book characters and stories from the DC universe is simply undeniable. It is both perplexing and saddening that the live-action arm of Warner Brothers, or at least the live action film side of things, seems to always land so far in the other direction in terms of quality. Man Of Steel, their latest attempt to bring Superman back to the big screen, is admittedly much more entertaining than the last two big budget DC superhero movies, as if it was that hard to be better than Green Lantern and The Dark Knight Rises. But still...just, no.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Brief Site Update!

Just FYI, in case anybody who reads this blog regularly is wondering where this week's TV reviews were, that was me dropping the ball. Just last week I set aside Sunday as my TV review day, but then Saturday when I planned to write them all I was recruited to be a background Zombie in an independent movie some friends of mine are filming, and today I was helping my dad move out of his house as a Father's Day gift. So, no TV this week, not sure if I'm just going to double up for the two weeks or do them all in one big post sometime in the middle of the week. We'll see. In the meantime, check out my latest review for the Syfy Channel Original Movie Ghost Storm just below this post, as well as my full last week of Apocalypse themed reviews and posts. And stay tuned tomorrow for my Man Of Steel review. It's a doozy.

Zombie Me. ZomMe. 

The Cinema File #200: "Ghost Storm" Review

Syfy Channel Original films typically come in two types, Monster Movies and Disaster Movies. When I save all of these for binge viewing, I usually only keep the Monster ones, because I've never really been a fan of killer weather. Occasionally I find one weird enough that I have to watch it, like The 12 Disasters Of Christmas, and I fully intend to watch the upcoming Stonados, about stone throwing tornados, a film pulled for its initial release because it was set in Boston and was due to come out right around the time of the recent bombing. Today's film is a rare combination of the two types, with a storm made of ghosts aptly titled Ghost Storm.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

New Podcast Pilot Available Now! Intercourse The Penguin

A new spin-off podcast to the Stop Or My Will Podcast podcast is now available for download. It's called Intercourse The Penguin, and features me and my mom talking about TV shows that we force each other to watch for the explicit purpose of torturing one another. In the inaugural episode, I am lied to about the premise of the show and go easy on her as a result bringing along "Rose" The first episode of the rebooted Doctor Who. In turn, Mom spites me by making me watch an incredibly shitty episode of Smash. As if there is a distinction between the shitty Smash episodes and the non-shitty ones.

CLICK HERE to Download

Friday, June 14, 2013

From The Idea Hole: This Meets That - Apocalypse Edition!

So this is a thing I still do I guess. If you don't know what this is, CLICK HERE for the long explanation, though in short, this is a semi-recurring series where I pair up two movies completely at random through a very sophisticated process involving D&D dice, a comprehensive list of movies I've seen (mostly), and a lot of free time and try to come up with an original movie plot from the unique combination. In honor of the recent spate of Apocalypse-centric movies like Rapture-Palooza and This Is The End, I thought I'd come back to this game with a series of pitches centered around the common theme of the Earth ending. You know, for funzees.

Sanctuary (This Is The End meets The Perfect Host)

First up, a movie idea that incorporates one of the films that inspired the theme, taking This Is The End's premise of idiots struggling to survive in a post-Revelations world where everything's out to kill them, with the idea of a supposedly posh and ideal home being revealed to be the house of a sadistic psychopath, as seen in the perhaps somewhat obscure thriller The Perfect Host. If you haven't seen the latter film, it's on Netflix streaming and I highly recommend it if only for the performance of David Hyde Pierce like you've never seen him. Basically he's a maniac, but with an outward sense of respectability.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Cinema File #199: “This Is The End” Review

Full disclosure, recently I reviewed the first film to be released in 2013 featuring Craig Robinson in a biblical apocalypse, the low budget indie comedy Rapture-Palooza, and while I had seen that film and wrote the review prior to having seen the second Craig Robinson/apocalypse movie, I did ultimately end up seeing This Is The End at a late night showing just prior to posting. So, in that review when it sounds like I've not seen both films, I actually had. I didn't change what I had written because I'm generally lazy, I had to get to work that morning and didn't have time, and most importantly, because the sentiment expressed in that review concerning my low expectations for the quality of This Is The End was ultimately born out.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Cinema File #198: "Rapture-Palooza" Review

Even though I've never been personally religious, there's always been something I've found fascinating about the supernatural elements of Christianity just from the standpoint of (if you'll forgive the sacrilege) science fiction and fantasy. One of my favorite movies is Kevin Smith's biblical fantasy comedy Dogma, which transplants the ancient magic of angels, demons, and Christian mythology into a modern setting. Naturally, when I saw what appeared to be a similar movie coming out this year called Rapture-Palooza, I was intrigued. This is one of two movies due out this year featuring Craig Robinson and the apocalypse, and while it has too many flaws to necessarily be considered a great movie, it was much better than I expected it to be, much better than the ads or a lot of the reviews I read suggested, and much better than I can possibly think This Is The End will be.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Cinema File #197: "Stoker" Review

You know, it only just recently occurred to me how strange it is that up until now, I've so emphatically considered myself a fan of South Korean director Park Chan-wook. I'm not saying one doesn't have a reason to be a fan based on his talents as a director, but up until now, I'd only ever seen one movie he's ever done, and while granted that movie was Old Boy which is like ten kinds of awesome, it seems silly to say I'm a fan of a director after only seeing one thing he's directed. Well, I've now seen two, which I guess would be the bare minimum for making any claims of fandom, and while his first English-language effort Stoker has its problems, I can't pin any of them on Chan-wook, and his visual style went a long way towards saving what could have easily been a disaster of a movie.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Idiot Box: Game Of Thrones 3x10 - "Mhysa" Review

Wow, that was...underwhelming.

Now, I know the finale was bound to come down a bit just coming off of the more outrageous than usual events of the previous episode, but I don't think that's the only reason why I feel just a little disappointed by how they ended this season. I even went out of my way last week to note how often the penultimate episodes are invariably so much better than the finales on this show, and I was still kind of shocked by just how much that was the case here. Whatever my expectations were as to how they would end it this year, either based on the scant spoilers I've gotten from book nerd friends or just based on how good the show has been up to this point, I think it was a reasonable assumption that we'd get more than...well, next to nothing really.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Idiot Box: Hannibal 4x11 - "Roti" Review

The latest episode of Hannibal is a direct sequel to an earlier installment of the season featuring the return of guest star Eddie Izzard as the psychopathic Dr. Abel Gideon, a serial killing medical professional who claimed credit for the crimes we know to have been committed by Dr. Lecter. At the time I noted how much potential seemed to be wasted in that episode, where such a talented actor's presence in such an anti-climactic story served only to remind me how much fun I'd be having watching Izzard in The Munsters remake instead of this show. Though I wish it didn't need it, I'd say this follow up easily redeems that episode in keeping with the uptick in quality we've seen in this series in the past few weeks.

The Idiot Box: Defiance 1x07 - "Goodbye, Blue Sky" Review

I've been on this show occasionally for sometimes failing to meet its potential. Usually when this is the case, the result is an episode that despite being in a very unique and interesting setting rife for original storytelling ends up being a retread of countless other basic cable sci-fi/action plots. This is the show at its worst. At its best, it takes these same well-worn structures and breathes new life into them using the inherent weirdness of the locale and mythology to make something old appear new again. This week's episode of Defiance is thankfully one of the latter, telling its version of a "disparate characters trapped together" story with all the requisite character development and squabbling, but also a nice helping of meteor shrapnel, inter species lesbianism, and acid bath resurrections. This is the Defiance I want to see.

The Idiot Box: Warehouse 13 4x15 - "Instinct" Review

Production Note: Okay, so yeah, I decided to try something new. Rather than rush to get these TV reviews out there the day after the airing, or within 48 hours as has been the case, I think I'm just going to start doing them all on Sunday like a sort of "This Week In TV" thing. Not only will this be easier on my schedule and allow me to do more movie stuff (which is the primary focus of the blog), but it also plans ahead for the start of the new TV season when I'll be no doubt reviewing a lot more shows (at the very least, Almost Human, Sleepy Hollow, and S.H.I.E.L.D. and maybe Supernatural as well). Might go back on this at some point, and it won't interfere with the Monday review of Game of Thrones since we only have the finale left anyway, but in the meantime, enjoy this glut of TV reviews I've had backed up.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Cinema File #196: "V/H/S/2" Review

The original V/H/S, produced by a fleet of up and coming horror writers and directors working separately on a series of short films, is easily the best found footage horror movie of all time, which sounds more impressive than it is considering there are so few examples of the genre that even qualify as good. My enjoyment of the film owes much to the novelty of the anthology format, which serves to bypass the fatal flaw of found footage movies dating back to the Blair Witch Project, that they ultimately consist of large swaths of boring with just a few minutes of pay off at the end. Now we have the sequel, released almost a year to the day of the original in what perhaps promises to be a trend akin to the now annual Paranormal Activity movies, which in this case I welcome, because while it is not quite as good as the first one, V/H/S/2 is still very much in keeping with its predecessor and thoroughly entertaining.

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