Monday, December 29, 2008

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

So I told my sister-in-law that I just watched Hellboy II and she gave me the same look she would have if I'd told her that I'd just spent the day scrapbooking about Battlestar Gallactica.

Some people just don't understand geek love.

I can't help it: I love me some Hellboy. Sure, it's not rocket science, but it's so much fun to watch. Plus, it's directed by Guillermo del Toro, of Pan's Labrynth fame, so you know the visuals are going to be sweet. Okay, the scene with the giant seed pod was pretty stupid, but on the whole, the underground world of trolls, fairies and a magical race was great eye candy.

And the villain, Prince Nuada? Not only the best villain I've seen since since Heath Ledger's Joker, but none too hard on the eyes either, ladies. Spectacular costuming and make-up. I could have used a lot more Prince and a lot less Hellboy. Hellboy himself is pretty one-dimensional, as is his useless sidekick, Liz, played with lackluster flair by Selma Blair. Is it just me or does she always look like she's trying to pass a stone?

There are seriously entire battle scenes in the film in which she just stands in the background holding her gun while all around her, advancing enemies attack everyone else. Were I say a maniacal golden killing machine, it seems odd I wouldn't go after some spindly little Liz meat. Maybe it's just me.

All in all, it's a fun film to watch and since it doesn't take itself too seriously, it's a great variation on the comic book genre.

Happy new year.

I'm back and a note about Dexter

Hello all. Sorry for the long drought since my last post. Christmas shenanigans and all that. I'm going to get back in the swing of things tout de suite.

Anyway, on my last Dexter post, I noted that I was going to start reading the books the show was based on (they're by Jeff Lindsay if you're interested). I finished the first book and started on book 2 over the holidays, but I have to warn any fellow Dexter TV fans: don't read the books...yet anyway.

This is the rare instance when I feel the show is actually much better than the books. The whole ice truck killer plot, for instance, is merely a scratched surface in the book that climaxes in a very obvious and brief way. What a let down. I may read the books once the series is officially off the air just to see how different it really is but for now, I'm going to shelve it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Iron Man

First, let me say I never had any intention of watching this film. I enjoy a good comic book movie as much as the next guy, but I had no idea what the Iron Man story was, and to be honest, the idea of Robert Downey Jr. as an action hero is just as appealing as Nicolas Cage as an action hero (thank you very much, Jerry Bruckheimer, you satanic master of all that is wrong with cinema, for making that fresh hell a reality).

But last week I was browsing through a few "Best Films of 2008" lists and every one I crossed had Iron Man on the list. So, peer pressure won out and here we are.

Did I like it? Yes, actually, it's a pretty entertaining film if you like the comic book genre and the special effects are impressive. And as much as I don't buy him as a super hero, I can't help but love Robert Downey Jr.

Do I have reservations? Oh my, yes. Let us count the ways:

1. The first fifteen minutes of the film is a gratuitous playboy melange of women/money/cars/bad-boy behavior. We get it. He's rich AND unpredictable. Shivers. It definitely makes you feel like the the script was the wet dream of a homely-virgin-comic book-nerd-still-living-in-his-mom's-basement.

2. Jon Favreau directed it. Really? We're giving him blockbuster budgets now? Really?

3. The casting of Gwyneth Paltrow, as leading lady, Pepper Potts, was just wrong. As much as I can't stand her, even I must admit she was too good for this film. And to be fair, she seemed pretty annoyed to be there as well.

4. The villain? Well, I don't want to spoil anything, but if you have eyeballs and a few functional brain cells, you'll figure out who the villain is approximately at the four-minute mark. It made his big 'reveal' later in the film about as surprising as Clay Aiken's coming out. Really, even my cat wasn't surprised.

5. Middle Easterners. Man, they get the shaft in every film these days. Hmmm....we need some bad guys. Who should it be? Eureka! Let's throw some turbans and dirty rags on a gang of dark-skinned actors and call 'em terrorists! Brilliant! One can only hope that all the Middle Eastern actors playing "Arab Terrorist #2" and "Disgruntled Iraqi #5" are at least getting their SAG cards.

That being said, it's a fun, spirited movie with some super cool gadgets and plenty of testosterone. Go on and rent it for the holidays. You need a break from the 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story anyway, right?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Eureka! I have finally cracked the formula for creating a successful and funny romantic comedy:
1. Avoid Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lopez et al. like the plague
2. Involve Judd Apatow
3. Throw in Paul Rudd for good measure
4. Include a slightly chubby man in an uncomfortable nude scene

There, filmmakers, please take note. This is the formula followed in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and it worked. An amusing little film that has many more laughs than I expected. Jason Segel (the aforementioned chubby naked guy) stars and is as goofily charming as he is in his TV show, "How I Met Your Mother." And who couldn't love Mila Kunis as the romantic interest? Sure, her voice could peel paint off the walls, but she's so cute.

My only beef is casting Kristen Bell as the other lead. Am I the only person annoyed by her? She just seems like that bratty know-it-all in your algebra class who always had her hand in the air with the correct answer. You know, the type who never leaves dirty clothes on the floor or eats potato chips. My nemesis.

51 Birch Street

Have you ever walked in on your parents having sex?

Watching this documentary is a little bit like that. Deeply uncomfortable and something you're not likely to forget. In 51 Birch Street, the filmmaker, Doug Block, explores his parents' marriage after his father hastily marries his former secretary just weeks after his wife's unexpected death.

What follows is a brutally honest look inside a 54-year marriage, thanks in large part to the oh-so-detailed diaries left behind by the deceased wife, Mina. As he reads her diary, filmmaker and son has to reconcile the marriage he thought his parents had with the one written down on paper. And it's all there: his mother's depression, despair, affairs and indiscretions. Added to that is the lingering question about his father's quickie re-marriage. Was he having an affair with his secretary all along?

I'll let you find out for yourself. As for me? This was great reinforcement to my rule of never keeping a diary. When you die, someone is going to read them. So burn them, people. Burn them. Given what I learned in this film, your kids do not want to read the words "mom" and "fellatio" in the same sentence.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Air Guitar Nation

This documentary had so much potential. I mean really, could anything be better than a whole troupe of costume-laden overzealous losers—sorry, air guitar enthusiasts—and an international battle royale to snag the title of World Air Guitar Champion?

Turns out, yes. I actually balanced my checkbook during this film and found my check register to be loads more exciting. Deposits AND withdrawals! Riveting.

Air Guitar Nation was just a huge disappointment, and I can’t even really tell why it’s so bad. Perhaps I was turned off by the smug competitors who seemed all-too aware that they were always performing for the camera, even during personal interviews.

It is a sorry commentary when the best moment of the film is a two-second scene of a very pale and awfully naked European man enthusiastically flagellating his own penis a la a guitar neck. It showed an impressive lack of nerve sensitivity from what I understand of the male penis. But this is not an anatomy lesson, friends, this is a movie review. And I give it four very chafed and limp penises.