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Mania Review: Final Destination 5 (Article) - 8/14/2011 3:07:46 AM


Have to put myself kinda in INNER SANCTUM's camp here. Don't want to be a hypocrite; in my younger days I saw a LOT of horror movies, including many very bad ones (some very entertainingly bad!) so I don't want to act as if every movie has to be "CITIZEN KANE" to be worth watching. Really.

That being said, I am just not "into" a movie where the plot is SO bare bones that it is just a series of gory, sadistic kills. And yes, I guess you can argue that such a summary could just as easily apply to a FRIDAY THE 13TH or a FREDDY movie... but at least there, there IS a "monster" figure, a basic (very) storyline to it. Maybe I AM being inconsistent, or hypocritical, but for me - for whatever that is worth - stripping away even THOSE superficial plot elements, to basically sell a series of sadistic kills? I don't know...just kinda creepy.



Goyer Scripting GODZILLA (Article) - 7/15/2011 4:43:26 AM


For me, the "American" Godzilla was a passable monster movie, with good effects, but it just wasn't a GODZILLA movie. It wasn't simply the altered appearance and mannerisms of the monster - it was the movie's attitude TOWARDS the monster... or, rather, that the lead character wasn't a monster at all, but, rather, a big animal. Godzilla is a MONSTER, and while he has been portrayed in many different ways over the years, granted - including a phase as a sort of "hero"!  - the classic Godzilla is a terrible, scary, relentless, MONSTER. I think the moment that I knew the American version really didn't "get it" was when we get our first really good look at the creature, going down a NY street, and the music cues us with a sappy "sense of wonder" tone... more appropriate to a nature film about whales, or a Spielbergian movie about cute aliens or such. NO NO NO. And again, NO.

I hope they get this right. Make Godzilla a fire-breathing, building smashing, earth-shaking, MONSTER. Stay as close as possible to the classic Godzilla look, but use CGI to full advantage. Put us right in the cockpit of a fighter plane making an attack run on the monster as it stands amidst skyscrapers, make the theater SHAKE as artillery barrages wash over Godzilla to little effect, have the theater speakers RUMBLE as his roar shatters windows for blocks. Show the tsunami-surge of water as Godzilla surfaces just off-shore. Don't overexplain. Godzilla is simply a living force of nature, like a hurricane or earthquake or volcanic eruption in the shape of a giant dinosaur.

Done right, this could be a fun, slightly dark, over the top, spectacle filled thrill ride - and might even justify the way overused 3D that they now feel obliged to force on almost every film. I hope they don't let us down!




Transformers Takes Down Second Victory (Article) - 7/11/2011 6:59:31 AM


Folks who are smarter than me - and there are a LOT of them, no doubt about it! - can probably shoot all kinds of holes in what I am about to say... I have no doubt the cost-adjusted data is out there! ... but for me, movies have reached the point that comic books reached some time ago. That is, between the costs of seeing something in a theater (which usually involves some concession stand items...SHUDDER...especially if others go with me), AND with the death of the bargain matinee and lower-priced second run theaters, at least in my neck of the woods, movies are no longer "budget-inconsequential". Maybe, adjusted for inflation, they aren't that bad compared with other products, but as noted by another poster above, a "family night at the movies" can pretty easily run you $65-$70 (and we are lucky in that, for us, it doesn't involve parking $). Which means picking and choosing a lot more than it did in the "old days".  For me, many fewer movies make it to the "have to see it in theaters" grouping, especially if it is a movie the whole family might want to see.

So I do wonder about "wallet fatigue" at some point here, which might not bode well for - to take one example - Captain America. My gut tells me it is almost certainly going to play into COWBOYS (I think if that one was coming out in the fall, or even winter, it would fare better... away from all the other sci-fi / fantasy competition.

I hope thats not the case for Cap; always enjoyed the character and hope the movie is a hit. Frankly, as a fan of superheroes in general, I pull for just about any superhero-themed movie, because the better they do, the more likely it is that we will see more of them!



Mania Review: Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Article) - 7/1/2011 6:18:30 AM



Saw it last night, in 3D, and enjoyed it. Just FYI, I am not a big fan of 3D, in general, but in this case I think the 3D was both very effective and added to the enjoyment of some of the action and spectacle. I think the movie could have stood some trimming here and there, and I also think the rhythm of the action was a bit off at times (there is an art, I think, of BUILDING the suspense/emotion in action, of increasing tension artfully, that the best action movies "get"), but overall, I enjoyed it a lot.

For me, the movie showed that SOMEONE out there was paying attention to fan criticisms of FALLEN. Gone are the "twins", gone is the vast majority of crude bathroom humor, gone is MOST of the cringe-inducing parental byplay, gone is Shia's annoying college room-mate. John Turturo mercifully keeps his pants on. WAR AND PEACE it ain't... and then some! .... but this is much closer to the first installment than the second, and for me, that is a good thing.

One minor thing... a fanboy comment I guess... I am surprised at how... bloodthirsty Optimus is at times. Same thing occured to me in FALLEN, especially in Optimus' confrontation with the giant bot at the start. At several points he has foes down, beaten, and ...well... lets just say that he finishes the job. Not saying that the bad guys aren't portrayed as richily deserving it, just saying that the coolness with which is it happens was, for me, a bit surprising!



X-Men: First Class Debuts at Top (Article) - 6/6/2011 5:34:05 AM


As I noted on the review Thread, I loved the movie. No offense, but to me, the X MEN "history" has been revised, over-written, tweaked, scrapped, undone, redone, rebooted, and the like, so many  times, in so many ways, that I am not overly concerned with it, at this point. I thought the movie worked - it was fun, smart, well-acted, fast-paced and interesting. I thought the leads were terrific.

I have mixed feelings when it comes to box office discussions... clearly, box office is hugely important, on a practical level. However, when it comes to trying to correlate box office to quality, I balk, at least somewhat. So many OTHER factors play into that, IMHO. If you like a movie, or don't, it shouldn't matter how it performs at the box office, when it comes to discussing the quality of the movie itself. To sieze a recent example out of the air, I don't care how much BRIDESMAIDS makes - I thought it was a wholly unfunny, amazingly tedious, awful theft of two hours of my life. Just saying.

FIRST CLASS, in my opinion, got very little build-up or hype - it really snuck in "under the radar". Kind of strange in this era where hype is usually a given. I hope it is given some time for word of mouth to kick in, as I think word of mouth is going to be very positive, and I think this is the kind of superhero movie that can appeal to folks who aren't necessarily "into" superhero movies. But that kind of patience is a rarity anymore, AND the summer is tough, in that you have a new "big event" fantasy movie almost every week - SUPER 8, GREEN LANTERN, and TRANSFORMERS are all on the horizon.

All that being said - enjoyed it a lot. Well done!


Mania Review: X-Men: First Class (Article) - 6/5/2011 7:16:45 AM

To each his own, but IMHO, a terrific movie. I saw it with some folks who are not "into" comic books and, if anything, they were even MORE impressed. Fun, smart, entertaining, great acting from the leads ... high marks!

IT is odd how, in this era of hype, there was so little for THIS movie, which richly deserves to be seen. I hope it is allowed to generate word of mouth, because I think it will. I suspect this movie, more than most in the genre, will appeal to those who aren't going to run out and see every superhero movie.



The Green Hornet Blu-Ray Review (Article) - 5/9/2011 7:17:07 AM


I thought the movie was...well...OKAY. I enjoyed Walz (SP?) who I strongly suspect did a lot more with the part than was there on paper. There were a lot of fun elements, but, unfortunately, they didn't QUITE figure out how to bring them all together.

I guess one of my biggest problems was that Rogen's Hornet was a stone cold novice, basically no better prepared to fight crime than "Joe Average" would be. I guess if you take it as the Hornet's origin, that is okay...maybe... but at least if he had SOME background as a fighter, boxer, whatever... it would have made more sense/worked better. As it was, the movie was basically "Kato and a goofy loudmouthed incompetent".

I didn't hate it, like some do. It had its moments. Fun gadgets. The Black Beauty. Kato was terrific. Some of the humor worked for me. But as a fan of the old 1960s series - which, yeah, had it silly moments too, granted! - I was a bit disappointed.

THOR Hammers Out Victory (Article) - 5/9/2011 7:08:03 AM

I think it is very difficult for those of us who enjoy comic books to evaluate comic book movies, as relates to how they play for the non-comic book crowd.

I am a fan of comic books and I have some familiarity with Thor - I read the THOR comic pretty steadily in the Simonson years, followed the character in AVENGERS, and read a fair number of the older Kirby and Buscema era stories (although not exhaustively). As such, I, like most of you, walk into the movie with some basic background, expectations, understanding, etc. I know who these characters are (or, at least, I know their comic book incarnations! ), I understand how they relate to one another, I understand the basic "logistics" of how Thor fits into the Marvel universe.

That is great, but I think it really makes it tough to assess how THOR will play for the average moviegoer who will lack a LOT of that. In some ways, I think THOR is the hardest of the Avengers to "sell" to a novice audience. Superheroes are intrinsically fantastic and "unreal", but... a Norse god coming down to Earth? Modern day? Interacting with humans, fighting supervillains, etc?

That being said... I think THOR did a great job with that very tough to sell premise. I was surpised at how three dimensional and complex Loki was, I thought the movie did a nice job of explaining how all the pieces fit together (Asgard, Earth, etc), and overall I thought the acting was surprisingly good. The Destroyer seemed very formidable, the action sequences were (mostly) well staged - although once again I wish more attention was paid to making the action clearer, more fun and easy to follow! I have talked with a couple of non-comic book fans who saw it and they were generally pleased - actually pleasantly surprised at the "charm" of the movie, if that makes sense.

Huge hit? Probably not. But a well-performing and solid addition to the Marvel universe on the big screen? I think so.

10 Most Accurate Onscreen Superheroes (Article) - 5/5/2011 12:31:55 PM

Tricky list. Are we talking "accurate" in terms of appearance (how close is the costume, etc, to the classic comics version), are we talking "accurate" in terms of behavior or other story elements, etc? All of the above? Some combination of the above? Of course, a certain amount of subjectivity is what makes these kinds of lists fun... and this one IS fun.

For me, Rorschach would be 1, or at least 1A. That isn't a knock on the Reeve Superman - or, for that matter, on others on the list. I guess if pressed I would say that Rorschach is harder to "get right" on screen, so I give them points for nailing it so perfectly. And I might also nudge the Tony Stark in IRON MAN a bit higher, too. How often do "smart" characters actually SEEM smart, on screen? Let alone a character who is smart, egotistical, self-satisfied, AND heroic?

Regardless, a great, fun list!

The Top 15 Thor Stories (Article) - 5/4/2011 11:28:35 AM

To each his own - truly! - but I was NOT a fan of the "lets beat up on Iron Man" tour that followed Civil War, so it will come as no surprise that I don't think there was much special about  #13 above. After Marvel's writers created a bizarre conflict (in Civil War, the "good guys" were essentially fighting for the right to be vigilantes, answerable to no one but themselves, totally unconstrained by any laws or legalities), they added insult to injury by making those on the "gee, maybe heroes should be answerable to SOME legal authority" group into unrecognizable, amoral straw men. Then, post Civil War, they sent Iron Man around to let all the "good" heroes beat on him. Wow - great concept.

Funny how one of the smartest and most dangerous characters in the Marvel Universe - Tony Stark - had NEVER come up with any means to deal with Thor. Huh. Imagine that.

Just saying - this issue was little more than a sop to those who wanted to see Iron Man get beat up.


Date Joined: September 28, 2006