Sunday, July 31, 2011

Classic Movies: Singin' in the Rain (1952)

By Jason Haskins

I'm picky about musicals. Don't get me wrong, I love them, but I'm awfully reserved. Some completely throw me off guard with their creativity like 1981's Pennies from Heaven. Others make me want to rip my eyes and ears out (...Grease...admit it, Grease sucks). Then there were the ones I grew up on like The Wizard of Oz--which isn't just one of my all-time favorite movies, but one of my favorite musicals as well (if you'd classify it as such). However, when I think of the Hollywood musical and one full of dance numbers and pleasant story, only one film comes to mind: Singin' in the Rain. This is the perfect musical with one of the best stories the genre has to offer.

Another Take: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) Review

By Jason Haskins

After a summer of disappointment (Green Lantern), triumph (Thor), and school (X-Men: First Class), we’ve finally come to the last of the big comic book movies of the year: Captain America. Originally made in 1990 starring JD Salinger’s son, it’s safe to say that I found it hard to believe this character could translate well into the dynamic  medium of film. As my first grade math teacher always said, I was pathetically wrong.

Crapsterpieces: On Deadly Ground (1994)

By Paco McCullough

It’s very easy to call Steven Seagal a talentless hack capable only of making horrible movies (I just did). However, after watching 1994’s On Deadly Ground, I’m fairly certain that Steven Seagal not only is the most intelligent man in the action movie business, he is also one of the most aware what the target audience of an action movie wants. After seeing this film, I realized my expectations for action movies are far too low.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Martial Arts Madness: Hanzo the Razor: Sword of Justice (1972)

By Paco McCullough

I was really excited when Hanzo the Razor: Sword of Justice started. After opening to an epic 70s soundtrack and well built sets of feudal Japan. Things just got better when I recognized the actor who plays Hanzo, Shintaro Katsu, the star of the Zatoichi films and tv show. In this, the first film of a trilogy, Hanzo is a law officer in a small town who stands against corruption. An antihero in the mold of Dirty Harry, he breaks all the rules. To properly investigate the case, he must work with criminals and even commit criminal acts himself. Overall, these elements of the film are incredibly effective and fun. These more conventional samurai elements of the film all make this film worth recommending to fans of the genre.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Cowboys & Aliens (2011) Review

By Tanner McCullough

Daniel Craig wakes up in the middle of the desert with no idea who or where he is and a mysterious bracelet attached to his arm. After being confronted by a group of bounty hunters, he is able to quickly dispatch all of them, without knowing why he is so good. Craig rides into the town of Absolution, where he soon meets a preacher (Clancy Brown) with a quick draw and a heart of gold, a timid doctor (Sam Rockwell) who is tired of being picked on, a strong woman with a mysterious past (Olivia Wilde) and the Dollarhydes. The Dollarhydes are the ranching family who own Absolution. They’re led by curt patriarch Woodrow, though our first experience with them is the reckless son, Percy (Paul Dano). Within minutes Craig is wanted (it turns out he’s a train robber named Jake Lonergan). If this all sounds familiar to you, it’s because it is.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Comic Movie Collection: X-Men: First Class (2011)

By Jason Haskins

X-Men: First Class is the newest X-Men movie since 2009's disastrous X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which also happened to be the worst since 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand. On a positive note, this movie is the best X-Men flick since X2: X-Men United, but is it related to any of these above-mentioned films? Well, kind of.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Videogame Bits: Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)

By Terry Cleveland

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is set in a barren wasteland: the post-apocalyptic aftermath of an alien meteor that struck the planet forty years ago. We then meet Dr Aki Ross (voiced by Ming Na) who is studying the aliens (called phantoms) who instantly suck the life-force out of any living thing they come into contact with. Dr. Ross is searching for spirits to put together to make a neutral “spirit wave” to rid the planet of the phantoms. She then teams up with a group of soldiers voiced by Alec Baldwin, Steve Bucemi, Ving Rames, and Peri Gilpin to help stop the invasion and restore life to the planet.

Cinemecca Podcast #03

Cinemecca Podcast Episode 03:

Captain America, Friends with Benefits, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, and New Releases. Listen as Paco, Sam, Terry, and Jason expose the seedy underbelly of the romantic comedy and immerse themselves in metaphors.

Captain America, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2, Friends with Benefits by Cinemecca

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cult Films: In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

By Jason Haskins

Why, oh, why do good horror movies get forgotten? In the Mouth of Madness was not one I grew up with, but after discovering it on VHS a series of years ago and loving it, I was flabbergasted at how many people did not know if its existence. You know John Carpenter, right? The guy responsible for The Thing and Halloween (among many other goodies). You know Sam Neill? The lead in Dead Calm and Jurassic Park? You like horror movies with intelligent plots, creepy interiors, and interesting concepts? This should be your cup of soup, horror brethren.

New Releases: July 26th

This week in New Releases we see three popular releases that are all pretty sucky. Source Code is supposed to be a fun little cyber thriller from Duncan Jones, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night was the small release earlier this year that did no business, and Trust is the newest film from David Schwimmer (you haven't heard of it?!). See our our reviews of these after the jump.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) Review

By Terry Cleveland

The Harry Potter film franchise has finally drawn to its epic conclusion after nearly a decade. As it is the conclusion to a series of films that started when the principal characters weren’t even old enough to drive a car, this one had some hefty shoes to fill.

Monday, July 25, 2011

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Classic Movies: Umberto D. (1952)

By Jason Haskins

Why do you do this to us, Vittorio De Sica?! My first viewing of one of his films was the superb Bicycle Thieves (1948), which blew me away in all regards of the term--displaying a neo-realist perception of post-war Italy. Well, look what he does again. I finally got the courage to watch Umberto D. (1952), which is arguably his second most famous film, which has made the biggest impact on cinema, and I think I've struck gold twice. This is another great piece of work that this man did--and available, of course, on the Criterion Collection.

4 Action Stars Worse Than Chris Evans

Like many of you, I was skeptical of Chris Evans being cast as Captain America. However, as my review states, I was pleasantly surprised. In honor of his success I would like to name four tentpole action stars that are actually worse than Chris Evans.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Crapsterpieces: Hausu (House) (1977)

By Paco McCullough

Hausu(House) is easily one of the most insane movies you will ever see. This insanity covers every level of the film, from the way it was shot to the story itself. What a story it is- a group of Japanese schoolgirls, each named for their attribute (Gorgeous, Kung Fu, etc.), travel to visit one of the girl’s aunt. The aunt has lived alone for many years and is glad to have guests. Before long the girls begin disappearing or dying one by one.
Sounds pretty conventional, right? Not when someone gets eaten by a piano while a skeleton dances in the background. Not when a girl’s head is turned into a watermelon, or another gets smothered by magically appearing mattress. Not when a painting of a cat opens its mouth and sprays blood everywhere.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Martial Arts Madness: The Seven Grandmasters (1978)

By Paco McCullough

Those of us in the Portland area are lucky to have Dan Halsted, curator of the Hollywood Theater’s Kung Fu Cinema. The theater screens rare prints of classic kung fu movies. This weeks film? The only remaining 35mm print of Joseph Kuo’s (The Mystery of Chessboxing) The Seven Grandmasters. The print was surprisingly well maintained, considering how old it was. Halsted actually picked it up from a man who had dug it out of a dumpster.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

By Paco McCullough

Set during WWII, Captain America tells the tale of scrawny young man Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) who volunteers for a super-soldier program. After he is injected with a serum, he becomes four times stronger than any other man on the planet. Cap uses this strength to fight nazi super-genius, Red Skull (Hugo Weaving).
Captain America really wants to be Indiana Jones (makes sense, considering how director Joe Johnston got his start working on Star Wars and Indy flicks). However, it works surprisingly well. The carefree style of storytelling, the setting, and the crazy nazi villain all contribute to one of the most fun popcorn movies I’ve seen in some time. It plays like an homage without ever feeling like a ripoff.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Writer Reflections: Friends With Benefits (2011)

Paco McCullough, Editor-in-Chief -

Friends With Benefits is the sort of movie that points out all the flaws in conventional romantic comedy without ever attempting to fix any of them. The frequent jokes about the sorry state of romantic comedy only serve to rub salt in the viewer’s wounds, reminding them of how bad this movie is. And what a bad film it is. Conventional in every sense, including the story format, wacky side characters, and lazy script, this film is an assault on the viewer. This is made even worse by attempts at relevance (mentions of flash mobs, sexting, etc.) that just make it seem like the writers are a couple of old men completely out of touch with “hip” culture. Both leads give strong performances, and several great actors appear in supporting roles (Woody Harrelson, Jason Segel), but it’s nowhere near enough to redeem this bland and horrible movie.

1.5 out of 5 stars

Jason Haskins, Head Writer-

If you're looking for a forgettable, cliched, painfully contrived, and also painfully cute (at times) movie starring two hotties--Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis--look no further than 2011's Friends with Benefits. Timberlake moves to New York City from Los Angeles, befriends a headhunter (Kunis), and the duo decide to strictly have sex without the emotion or commitment of a relationship. We all know how this ends and it's strangely familiar if you've ever seen any of the advertisements from that No Strings Attached movie released a few months ago. The best way to describe this movie is that it's a shallow and trite romantic comedy so aware of its place in cinema (after Nora Ephron, Rob Reiner, and others' attempts at the genre) with constant reminders and satirical statements of what it's trying to do. The screenplay was a joke with characters that you don't care about and scenarios that are very stupid and predictable. Surprisingly enough, the flick was pretty vulgar, which I enjoyed, but it certainly can't save it from all the smugness as if trying to choke you with its cleverness that's not all that clever--sort of like a joke that's beaten over your head too maliciously. Kunis and Timberlake have good chemistry, Timberlake is charming and fun, but ultimately the movie was a bore and offered no real intriguing bits. I may be one of the few people on Cinemecca that have a soft spot occasionally for romantic movies, but the romance aspect was plain awful because of how tired the whole concept is. Friends With Benefits is clearly a movie for girls who want to see tons of Timberlake in his underwear exposing his bod (and buttocks!), but male viewers will have to grin and bear the failed attempts at humor and jerky romantic angles. This is best suited as a forgettable date movie--sorry, guys.

1.5 out of 5 Stars

Terry Cleveland, Staff Writer -

Friends With Benefits is a romantic comedy looking for something new, but instead it trips on itself and falls flat on its face into a wet steaming pile of clichés.
Friends with benefits is about two people, Dylan (Justin Timberlake) a progressive blogger from L.A. who comes to New York to meet a headhunter named Jamie (Mila Kunis) about an editing job with GQ. Dylan lands the job and him and Jamie soon become best friends and eventually lovers, but without the complications of dating, hence “friends with benefits”.
I won’t deny that going into this movie I wasn’t expecting much. However, I was surprised to find that it was slightly better than I had hoped. The witty one liners and raunchy sexual antics are well written and at times actually funny, including a tongue in cheek discussion of the conventional rom com stereotypes. Unfortunately the wit ends up taking so much of the screen time that there was almost no real character development whatsoever. Its not until a little more than half way through though that the inevitable vomit inducing clichés start to seep out of every aspect of the film. The clichés ruin all that is left of the movie and rob all the clever charm that was contained in the first half of the film.
Bottom line: Don’t waste your money or your time.

2.5 out 5

Sam Newsom, Staff Writer -

I took 3 Cialis waiting in the early screening line, 45 minutes before the film started. My hard-on raged visibly through the previews and opening credit montage, but not 10 minutes into the film I began to go flacid. Somewhere between the blue-ball-induced haze of agony and the backasswards "ironies" and resulting comedic sluttiness that "Friends with Benefits" thought it could get away with, I passed out.

I don't know how long I was out, but when I came to my vision was blurry and I had a half-chub; I heard things like, "Just shit on my face", "Twat Block" and a variety of chuckle worthy dick puns spoken from the harkening voice of Woody Harrelson, all floating formlessly through the production; things were looking up until JT and Mila Kunis began discussing high culture, zen philosophy and how sleazy and obvious Romcoms have gotten and how easy and unsatisfying they are, like friends with benifi...wait, that's not right. In the critical, catalytic scene before they start to fuck, they are watching a shit Romcom and acting like it has worth and the audience laughed like it was a joke (because it is?); sharp pain gripped my left side and my breathing quickened; I passed out again.

"While trying to avoid the clichés of Hollywood romantic comedies, Dylan (Timberlake) and Jamie (Kunis) soon discover however that adding the act of sex to their friendship does lead to complications," is exactly what IMDB said would make taking 3 Cialis worth it, but I quickly realized (four pass-outs deep) that "avoiding Hollywood cliche's" was code for ""avoiding Hollywood cliche's"", and even slier code for "we're going to point them all out, say 'fuck' a couple times and then slap the audience in the face with the enormously cliche phantom dick that we just told them isn't there". I emerged from the film as flaccid as the day I was born, knowing nothing more of the world.

2/11: Raunchy witticism
5/9: Offensive, self-aware "Romcom" bashing/flaunting
1/3: Trying to keep my erection

Overall 2 out of 5

© Cinemecca, 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Comic Movie Collection: Ghost Rider (2007)

By Jason Haskins

I always considered Ghost Rider to be a B-list superhero. Not as popular as Spider-Man in the Marvel Universe, but more popular than say...Black Panther. It was no shocker when this movie came out in 2007 as Nicholas Cage lobbied for years to get it made. It never really left the ground until the superhero genre went crazy in the early 2000s. Everyone and their brother (even the Fantastic Four) got their own movie(s). Me? I had collected some Ghost Rider issues, but I wouldn't call myself a big fan. I considered him more of a cool supporting character that would help other characters fight crime. I had really dug some of his darker stuff from the early nineties, but I didn't really have an interest in the movie.

Videogame Bits: Super Mario Bros (1993)

By Terry Cleveland

I’m not sure how or why anyone could possibly think that there should be a movie based on a platforming video game about a plumber who jumps on dinosaurs. I’m also not quite sure what was going on or how it was related to the Mario franchise during the film, but I liked it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New on DVD: July 19th


Limitless stars Bradley Cooper as an out of work writer who is having trouble in every aspect of his life: he's broke, his girlfriend dumped him, and he can't write. When an old acquaintance offers him a wonder-drug that boosts brain activity, he gives it a shot. Within days he has become a successful stockbroker. Soon Cooper is in over his head, with a tough new job, Russian gangsters after him, and serious withdrawal issues. The most compelling element of this film is the direction in the drug induced scenes. Director Neil Burger (The Illusionist) produces incredible imagery that is really fun to look at. Unfortunately, none of the characters are compelling. When they were put into danger, I simply didn’t care. This killed any excitement that could have been had. It’s worth checking out if you’re interested, but don’t go out of your way.

3 out of 5 stars.

Take Me Home Tonight

Take Me Home Tonight is about a bunch of adults in their mid-20s who go to a party that is essentially a high school reunion. Much like Superbad, the events of this film take place over the course of one night, as Matt (Topher Grace) attempts to woo his old high school crush. The film is an homage to the romantic comedies of the 80s, such as Say Anything. It maintains the same innocent tone that feels dated when compared to raunchier films like Superbad or even American Pie. Ultimately this film is like its protagonist- not funny, good looking, or endearing enough to be memorable five years (or even five months) from now. Those looking for a cliched but sweet movie could do worse, but I can’t in good faith recommend it.

1.5 out of 5 Stars

© Tanner McCullough, 2011

Cult Films: Event Horizon (1997)

By Jason Haskins

Event Horizon was a movie that has, more or less, been forgotten from public consciousness since its released back in 1997. Is it deserved? While most would write this off as another bad sci-fi movie from the nineties, it's surprising to note that it actually holds up fairly well and is quite entertaining for what it tries to do. It's not necessarily an original Event, per se, but it's familiarity is strangely comfortable.

Monday, July 18, 2011

10 Fantasy Movies You Should See Instead of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

I'm sick. And tired. Of that fucking Boy Who Lived. Here’s a list of ten fantasy movies that deserve your attention way more than that nightmare of a series. This is a list for those fed up with Harry Potter and who want to delve into some fantasy movies they may have forgotten about or have never seen before—none of which feature a pussy with a wand. And don’t expect any golden compasses, lions, witches, and/or wardrobes for that matter. We’re not animals here at Cinemecca.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Crapsterpieces: Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988) is a film about a gang of alien clowns that fly around in a circus tent UFO, shoot deadly popcorn from ray guns, and wrap their victims in cotton candy. They land in a small town and it’s up to a cop, a couple college students, and two brothers who sell ice cream to stop them. If this sounds like something you’d like, you probably will. Conversely, if this sounds like something you’d hate, you probably will.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Martial Arts Madness: House of Traps (1982)

By Tanner McCullough

A note before I begin, dear readers. I’ve been sick as a dog for two days now and a little off due to the cold medicine. Hopefully this will not have a negative effect on my writings/editing.
I happy to introduce our new column: Martial Arts Madness. Each Saturday our resident martial arts expert (yours truly) will discuss a martial arts flick. These will cover the entire spectrum of Martial Arts cinema, from the beginnings to the modern era. If there are any movies that you are curious about seeing reviewed, just let me know.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Comic Movie Collection: Superman Returns (2006)

By Jason Haskins

When Superman Returns came out in 2006, the general public gave it mixed reviews. Some praised it for its dashing visuals and respect to the series before it,helmed by Christopher Reeve. Others hated it for its slow demeanor. Me? I admit that I wasn't a huge fan, but I also don't remember finishing it.

So there I was at my local video store when I saw this on DVD for a buck--I bought it (what a steal) and watched it. The shock rolled over my face that a film I didn't like became one of the most pleasing movie experiences with one of my favorite comic book characters. Prepare to be divided: this is a POSITIVE review of Superman Returns.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Videogame Bits: Resident Evil (2002)

By Terry Cleveland

Zombies, guns, and nudity are usually good things when you throw them together in a movie, but unfortunately this not the case with Resident Evil. For some reason the style of horror is next to nothing like the games, which have a more methodical style.
The movie starts out with a depiction of the Umbrella Corporation who it turns out manufacture biological weapons and other assorted nasty things. The scene then shifts to a typical day at an Umbrella Corp. lab where various people are going to work and getting ready for the day. Then in a typically cliché fashion somebody decides to release a horribly infectious zombie virus (T-Virus) into the ventilation system and ruin everyone’s day. After some fun movie fatalities we finally get to the main character Alice (Milla Jovovich) who wakes up naked in a shower with amnesia (surprise!). She then meets up with an elite team of soldiers, who were sent to investigate the outbreak, and three civilians (Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, and James Purefoy ). The rest of the movie is then dominated by matrix-esque slow motion action sequences bathed in industrial metal music, and a boring plot involving a rogue AI. There also is a half-assed attempt to establish a hazy conspiracy involving Alice’s memories, but it is overshadowed by the obvious reliance on future installments in the series to fill in the holes.
One of the main reasons that the adaptation missed the mark so badly was the focus on action instead of survival. Normally this would be ok in a Hollywood movie, but when it comes to Resident Evil one of the most frightening aspects of the game is the uniquely savage breed of survival, where even as a player you are never sure if you will make it to the next room. The movie is definitely about survival, but more emphasis is placed on the hot ass kicking protagonist, than the actual atmosphere of the source material.
My impression of this movie was that the person(s) in charge of the production had either not played any of the Resident Evil games, or had and simply chose to say “fuck it, let’s just add some metal music and slow motion fight sequences”. I’m not saying that it was all bad though; there were definitely some recognizable references to the games, and a great scene where one of the characters gets cut into cubes of meat by a laser defense system, but these were not enough to salvage what little there is to this movie. Ultimately I’d rather play the games (even the bad ones) any day than watch this movie ever again.

2 out of 5 stars

© Terry Cleveland, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Crapsterpieces: Samurai Cop (1989)

By Tanner McCullough

Samurai Cop is a bad movie. Actually, Samurai Cop is a really bad movie. Scratch that, Samurai Cop is easily the worst movie I have ever seen. It’s like a bunch of 8th graders made up the crew and asked their parents for a few bucks to make it. The script is completely atrocious, clips are reused in such a way that they call attention to themselves, the special effects are paintballs and fireworks, etc. Perhaps most damning is the performances, which are uniformly terrible. Going back to the 8th grade theory, it’s like the kids grabbed the first people they found off the street- several members of the Japanese Katana Gang are white, and not a single member of the cast can act their way out of a plastic bag. If this movie was made by an 8th grader, it would also explain the clumsy sexy scenes, with extreme female nudity and men in speedos grinding up and down on each other for far longer than the scene requires. It is shot like someone whose only experience with sexuality came from the bootleg pornos they found in their dad’s closet. The music is laughably 80s, and could have been made by the teenagers down the street.
I absolutely loved this movie. For years I have been searching for the worst movie ever made, only to be distracted by false prophets such as The Room and Birdemic. There has never been a movie that made me laugh more than this steamy piece of shit. Everyone in the audience at the screening I went to had a great time, and I’m sure an element of the fun came from yelling at the screen together. Unfortunately, there’s only so long the worst movie ever can be entertaining, then it’s just kind of a boring movie. But by the time the final shootout rolls around, it has somehow found a way to be bad all over again. There’s no way you should miss this one if and when it comes to your town.
See, Samurai Cop is so bad that it has never been released on DVD. Nobody knows where the director went (my theory- he wanted to forget about it once he got into high school) and I’m not sure who owns the rights to this film. This had led to screenings of VHS copies, as film prints are incredibly rare also. Because of all this, the only places to see the film are your local theaters. So if you see it listed, you owe it to yourself to go. I can promise you that there is no way you’ll ever see a movie this bad again.

Critical Score: An unprecedented 0 out of 5

Crapsterpiece Score: 4.5 out of 5

© Tanner McCullough, 2011

Cult Films: Meet The Feebles (1989)

By Jason Haskins

1989's Meet The Feebles is Peter Jackson's second film after the delectable wreck that was Bad Taste (the low budget creature feature) in 1987. Feebles is complete departure from that one as far as subject matter is concerned, but it keeps the tone and sluggish aesthetic. This is an important work in Jackson's portfolio because it provided the respect that would skyrocket him to make 1992's Dead Alive (before going on to adapt the Lord of the Rings series).

So what is Meet The Feebles? Would you believe it's a puppet movie that showcases puppet sex over a decade before Team America? Imagine a large cast of gross puppet characters working on a large musical for an insane audience. You have the main character of Robert the Hedgehog who has just joined the production and, in his clumsy and cute way, has a huge crush on the troupe's number one showgirl, Lucille (the poodle).

While that story is going on you are introduced to a large cast of disgusting characters included a drug-addicted alligator, a seedy reporter fly who loves to eat fecal matter (shown in graphic detail), the walrus boss of the production currently cheating on Heidi the Hippo (the overweight star of the show), and a rat named Trevor who helps with the walrus' drug and porn distribution (long story) and who participates in a rape scene later in the film.

There are many other secondary characters, but the overall plot of the film is about these characters trying to work together on their show in between various conflicts like the Hippo/Walrus situation and the shy hedgehog trying to fit in. At the same time, the movie doesn't really have an endearing story that makes you cling to it with interest--it's all just a vehicle to get these puppets to be nasty.

These puppets are nasty. There's sex, drugs, violence, and some graphic gross-out parts that reminded me of Dead Alive. In between obviously bad puppeteering with strings evident and even a few characters with people in costumes running around I was surprised at how well put together the film was. By no means are the special effects very good, but for the micro-budget they were working on and the lack of true experience by Jackson and his crew it was surprising to see how well it turned out.

I would probably classify this movie as a comedy musical because there are songs interspersed throughout, but I wouldn't say they stand out in my mind as anything good. This has some crime elements to it, but it doesn't try and be serious by any degree--this is a balls-out rump fest that is so comically inclined and dependant on shock value that you'll null yourself to its lesser-defined features. The script, of course, is pretty bad with yucky New Zealander drawl and the film stock Jackson worked with was grossly cheap so that the visual quality of the entire film is blurred and unrefined.

With that said, Meet The Feebles is definitely for a select audience. I'm sure other movies are more disturbing and gross, but this one takes the cake with some truly uncomfortable scenes to make you look at puppets (and the sick minds of the people behind them) differently. I can't say that I will ever watch this again, but I'd recommend it for the balls of it--it mirror image's Jim Henson's Muppets (Heidi the Hippo = Ms. Piggy, etc.) to an outrageous degree and pushes boundaries you never would have imagined would be pushed. At the same time, the movie is weird and had my girlfriend and I looking at each other with quizzical looks in our eyes wondering the same thing: are we seriously watching this?

© Jason Haskins, 2010

3.5 out of 5 Stars

New On DVD: July 12th

By Jason Haskins and Paco McCullough


Rango is the chameleon Western animated film released earlier this year starring Johnny Depp as the titular character who becomes makeshift sheriff of the town of Dirt—which is experiencing a strong drought amongst other problems. It wasn’t one I was really interested in seeing, but the animation is definitely very intriguing as the animators actually used a new system of developing the visuals by having the actual actors act out the scenes. Depp is pretty entertaining here, which was very surprising as he’s been extremely boring for the past fifteen years or so. It’s very cute for a kids’ film, but like the Pixar brand it is actually really pleasing to adults as well and a cool film at that. It’s not extremely original nor one of the best films I’ve seen, but it serves as a great rental and a solid film for the whole family.

3 out of 5 stars.

The Lincoln Lawyer

If you’ve been asking yourself, “Where’s the McConaughey?”, look no further than Brad Furman’s The Lincoln Lawyer. This a movie based on the Michael Connelly novel of the same name about a sleazy defense attorney representing a douche accused of raping a prostitute when some of the cards come crashing down and he realizes there is more to the case than initially thought. It’s been a while since a solid courtroom drama/thriller has surfaced so this was a fresh piece of cinema in that regard. However, I couldn’t stand Matthew McConaughey’s performance (he’s very full of himself) nor all of the plot twists you’re constantly berated with as the movie continues. Surprisingly, it’s actually a well-told story with some great moments in it and was pretty entertaining. Overall though, this movie is made to play to the Law and Order crowd.

3 out of 5 stars


Arthur is the remake of the popular 1981 David Gordon picture of the same name starring Dudley Moore. This one, starring Russell Brand, was in and out of theaters in a blink of an eye for some good reasons: the script is terrible and the performances by everyone including Helen Mirren and Jennifer Garner made me want to poop on someone (I need to stop using this analogy). It’s not a very funny movie- even Brand’s style of humor doesn’t really surface as much as it should and we’re left with a neutered movie that should never have been released.

1 out of 5 stars


Ah, the latest movie from Saw-makers James Wan and Leigh Whannell. As much as I don’t like the Saw franchise, the first flick was pretty outstanding and easily one of the top-notch thrillers this side of Se7en. So I was excited about seeing them collaborate again on a new feature—especially one made for 1.5 million bucks, which made over fifty times that amount at the box office. Unfortunately, I have not screened this movie, but it’s one I’ve been looking forward to ever since I saw the trailer, which has this creepy haunted house vibe to it. The word of mouth has been fairly positive and this is definitely one of the newer films I’ve been anticipating.


Miral stars Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) as a troubled Palestinian girl who is drawn into the Palestine/Israel conflict. Most critics didn’t like it, and it has only a 15% on Rotten Tomatoes. I didn’t screen it, but it sounds like one that’s only worth watching if you’re really interested in the Palestinian conflict or really like Pinto.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

I’ve been looking forward to this film for a while. This Thai film won the Palme d’Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. Uncle Boonmee is dying, and travels into the countryside to visit his family. While there, he is visited by ghosts of those he has known in his life, as well as some of his very own past lives. Culturally, this film may be confusing to Western audiences, but critics say that the heartfelt beauty of the film makes it worth checking out. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m gonna pick it up as soon as I can. Check it out if you’re a daring cinephile.

© Jason Haskins and Tanner McCullough, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

New Podcast Up

This week Jason and Paco discuss the film Horrible Bosses, as well as legendary B-movie Samurai Cop and the new releases on DVD. When we can, we'll get these on the site and iTunes, but thanks for putting up with us in the meantime.

Check it out here-

Monday Countdown: "Wild Card, Bitches!"

By Paco McCullough

In honor of last Friday’s film, Horrible Bosses, and its star Charlie Day, we’ve decided to do a list of the 5 greatest Charlie-based episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

The Gang Goes Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

While it could be argued that this is not a Charlie centric episode of It’s Always Sunny, it’s included because Charlie delivers one of the greatest lines the series has ever written. When trying to figure out what to do to the little Mexican girl’s room, he suggests making a taco bed, where the girl gets to be the meat in the middle. The level of ignorance displayed perfectly sums up It’s Always Sunny’s style of comedy.

The Nightman Cometh

After the sheer brilliance of the first episode involving the Dayman and the Nightman, “The Nightman Cometh” feels like a bit of fan service. But that doesn’t matter when the fan service is this good. The episode presents Charlie’s struggle to put on a full play of his Nightman rock opera and all the foibles and follies along the way as he deals with the gang and other regulars. Of course, the real joy of this episode is watching songs about the Nightman, obviously a reference to childhood molestation. Besides this, it’s excellent to see others reactions to the insanity of these songs. Danny Devito as the Toll Troll is especially fun.

Charlie Gets Crippled

When the Gang hits Charlie with their car, he ends up in a wheelchair. While Charlie’s miserable, the rest of the Gang realizes just how easy it is to pick up women (men in Dee’s case) if they simply act crippled. While most of the humor in this episode comes from the others acting selfishly, it also gives Charlie a chance to become indignant. As always, Charlie needs a costume if he’s going to act angry- for this episode it’s a Vietnam vet, in later ones a flag jacket or a Serpico costume. This episode is the forerunner to a whole subgenre of It’s Always Sunny shows- the ones where Charlie yells a whole lot.

Sweet Dee’s Dating a Retarded Person

The first episode involving Dayman and Nightman, this episode is highly ranked because of the surprise of seeing Charlie’s insane songs. It’s not just how funny the songs are, but also the fact that they are surprisingly catchy. I remember singing “Dayman” with a buddy days later as we walked around downtown. Charlie and Dennis’s outfits are pretty damn funny too.

The Gang Solves The Gas Crisis

Possibly the greatest episode of the show ever. Mac, Charlie, and Dennis come up with a horrible plan to stockpile gasoline so they can sell it later. When they realize what a stupid plan it is, they realize that they all need specific roles: Brains, looks, wild card, etc. Charlie is, of course, the Wild Card The most classic scene in the run of this show comes at the end of the episode, when they discover that the brakes are cut on the car full of gasoline. Charlie yells, “Wild Card Bitches!” and jumps out of the out-of-control car. Easily the funniest moment of the whole series.

© Tanner McCullough, 2011

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A note on Crapsterpieces

The Crapsterpiece for this week will be up soon. Instead of watching on a small screen, I have elected to go see a local screening of the atrocious film, Samurai Cop. It's only screening Monday night, so I probably won't have Crapsterpieces up until Tuesday. Those of you in the Portland, OR area should come check it out. It's playing at the Hollywood theater.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Horrible Bosses (2011)

By Paco McCullough

Horrible Bosses has two of my favorite television comedians- Jason Bateman (Arrested Development) and Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia). I was conflicted about seeing them in this film, as the marketing hadn’t sold me on it. Bateman in particular has chosen some iffy roles in the past, which made me hesitant about this film. I was pleasantly surprised, however, as this film was entertaining. The director, Seth Gordon (The King of Kong), does an excellent job drawing performances out of the group of talented actors.
The plot involves three men (Day, Bateman, and Jason Sudeikis) who have horrible bosses. Pushed to the breaking point, they decide to murder all three bosses. This being a comedy, they go through various hijinks and misadventures along the way. Fans of Day’s work on It’s Always Sunny will love that his knowledge of Law and Order is brought up in this film.
While I would call Horrible Bosses entertaining, it never felt as funny as it should have. The comedy was less lazy than most films that Hollywood produces, but only by a small percentage. Other than a few standout scenes, the overall film never made me laugh. Given the caliber of talent, it is unfortunate that more emphasis wasn’t placed on the script. This flaw, while pretty significant, wasn’t enough to keep me from enjoying the film.
Overall, I would recommend Horrible Bosses to comedy fans. There is enough to appreciate about this film to merit a watch, although I think it may be one that you can wait to watch on a small screen. I believe that this may be a breakout film role for Day, and I for one am excited to see where he goes from here.

3.5 out of 5 stars

© Tanner McCullough, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Comic Movie Collection: Thor (2011)

By Paco McCullough

    I found myself enjoying Kenneth Branagh’s Thor much more than I thought I would. In the film’s world, Thor, Odin, and the other viking gods are actually aliens that have technology which allows them to travel to other realms. These norsemen have been at war with the frost giants for millennia. Thor is about to be made king when a group of frost giants infiltrate Asgard and try to steal a major weapon. In retribution, Thor attacks the frost giants, despite being explicitly told not to by his father, King Odin. For being reckless, Thor is cast to Earth without his powers, where he must learn responsibility before he can return to Asgard. Meanwhile, his brother Loki is implementing a conspiracy.
    If it sounds confusing, it’s because there is so much going on. However, one of the strengths of the film is how well it explains this information to people who have no previous frame of reference. As someone who has never read a Thor comic, I was still capable of understanding everything that was going on.
    I believe that the greatest strength of this film is Chris Hemsworth’s portrayal of Thor. His arrogance and brash nature are likable nonetheless. It would not be a surprise if this film makes him a star, similar to Hugh Jackman’s stardom emerging from his portrayal of Wolverine from the X-Men movies.
    Asgard and all the scenes off Earth are visually incredible and simply a blast to watch. In most cases I am opposed to creation of entire worlds out of CGI, but this is one of the rare cases where I believe it worked astonishingly well. Because these worlds are so foreign in concept to us anyways, the epic nature that CGI is able to convey works wonders.
    The movie falls flat on Earth, however, as it turns from an unusual superhero film to a traditional fish out of water comedy. This is tonally jarring and introduces us to the earthlings, none of whom have any depth. Kat Dennings is particularly obnoxious, uttering buzzwords like “facebook.” Natalie Portman is given nothing to do but sit around and look pretty, particularly unfortunate considering Black Swan demonstrated just how talented she is.
    The largest problem with the Earth scenes though, is that most of them have little to do with the overall conflict. These scenes could have been cut to a more reasonable length, but then the already illogical and unbelievable love story between Hemsworth and Portman would make even less sense.
    Overall, I do believe that this film is worth watching. If you’re looking for a fun popcorn flick, you could certainly do a lot worse. There is a great deal of potential in this film, but also several drastic miscalculations. Because of this I can’t give it as high a score as I would like.
3.5 out of 5

© Tanner McCullough, 2011

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cult Films: She's Having a Baby (1988)

By Jason Haskins

This week's cult film is one of the lesser known John Hughes films and yet it’s possibly his best. His directorial follow-up to Plains, Trains, and Automobiles,  She's Having a Baby stars Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth McGovern, and Alec Baldwin.

She's Having a Baby is much different from what you might expect from Hughes who, up to this point, was known tremendously for his work on quintessential teenage flicks like Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, and The Breakfast Club. This movie, which he later named as his most private and intimate film, explores the relationship between two people fraught with life but with so many aspirations.

Bacon plays Jefferson Briggs, who has some last minute doubts about his wedding at the very beginning of the film. He shares these with his best friend, played by a disgustingly handsome Alec Baldwin in the parking lot of the chapel. After leading such a crazy lifestyle, he's settling down and starting a new path for himself--and it scares him. However, he makes the choice despite it all and dives headfirst with his bride, Kristy (McGovern).

Her parents think he's a bum and won't make anything of himself, but he turns things around by finding them a nice house in the suburbs and an even nicer (albeit boring) job as a writer at an ad agency. Life has become boring and all he wants is to write a book. She's Having a Baby may be a title that leads you to think that the movie is all about child-bearing, but it's more about the binding factors between two individuals who have yet to commit to themselves. The theme is very powerful as the film goes on and is one reason why it sets itself apart from other romantic comedies of sorts that have been floating around the genre for so long.

The cast is incredible and while some people thought that the relationship aspect between the two leads wasn't fleshed out enough or that they didn't have enough chemistry...I thought they did a superb job in their performances. The way they look at each other is the way people in love look--and these little nuances help the credibility, as well as how cute they are together. This brings poignancy to the realistic fights and troubles they get into as the movie goes onward. Baldwin's in the movie for only a few scenes, but they stand out because he brings with him some heaviness that's funny, sad, or just plain unbearable.

John Hughes' direction is full of life. While he's more known around town as a gifted scriptwriter, I think his directing ability is one of his strongest points. The movie is about an hour and forty minutes almost and he keeps the viewer engaged the whole time while constantly toying with their emotions. There are many temptations that face Bacon's character and there's a lot of fantasies at work that keep the viewer on their toes--and it leads to one of my favorite parts of the film where Bacon is flirting with this attractive "fantasy" girl when she says, "If you love her so much, then why are you talking to me?". There are tons of sexy moments, but not reasons for nudity or anything like that--it all has to do with how the script takes certain cues from everyday in the mind of an attractive male dealing with it all. Call me crazy, but I related a lot of Bacon's character frequently.

The only thing that might cause you a setback on your viewing pleasure with this movie is if you can't take the cheesiness factor. This was made in the late eighties--that means you can expect the music, the vibe, the clothes, everything to have that late 80s cheeseball factor. This works wonders for me and I dig it--especially when it comes to the heart-wrenching climax when the whole "she's having a baby" thing occurs to the tune of Kate Bush's song, This Woman's Work. Oh, man it kills me just thinking about it.

She's Having a Baby is a terrifically moving movie and one that I can clearly tell meant a lot to John Hughes (and director Kevin Smith, who has stated this is his favorite of Hughes' work and clearly emulated it in Jersey Girl). Some people might not get it whether it is the sentimentality or the bizarre humor at times, but it's most realistic to me. It often gets the "rom/com" label to it, but it offers so much more as a glimpse into the relationship of these two married individuals trying to make it work. There are soul-mates out there and it makes you reflect on the wonderful experiences you've had with your loved one despite some of the heaviness. I think this is an important movie to watch in order to cherish what you care about--as well as grow as a person.

© Jason Haskins, 2011

5 out of 5 Stars

Videogame Bits: Bloodrayne (2005)

 By Paco McCullough

A couple of years ago, I saw the legendary B-movie star Bruce Campbell talk about making movies. Among other things, he said that the more fun the cast a crew had, the worse the film is. If the cast and crew were miserable, they were probably making something worth watching. Everyone involved with Bloodrayne must have been having a blast, because it is easily one of the worst movies I’ve seen in a while. However, when actually watching the film, not even the actors look like they’re having fun.
    What plot there is involves a half-human/half vampire, Rayne (Kristanna Loken, the bad terminator from Terminator), attempting to kill her father (Ben Kingsley!), a vampire that raped her mother. She is joined by a trio of vampire hunters (Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriguez, and Matt Davis) and they go on an adventure. There are too many nonsensical plot points and inexplicable fights to count. Two of my favorites: A monster whose head uncannily resembled a scrotum and a scene with Meat Loaf as a vampire with a harem of naked women. The script is not only clumsily written, it feels like the writers felt they needed to pad it with these random encounters.
    Other problems include laughable choreography and special effects, though the amount of blood used helped me overlook these flaws. In one of the most bizarre choices I have ever seen a director make, after the climax there is a several minute long flashback to what feels like everyone who was killed over the course of the movie. There is no purpose for it, and once it is over the film returns to the plot for a couple more minutes.
    Possibly the worst part? I kinda liked it. It was cheesy and bad in the way Syfy Originals are. Would I recommend it? No, but it is the closest thing to a trainwreck I have ever seen a film be. When it comes right down to it, I’d rather watch a complete disaster than an average bad movie (I’m looking at you, Transformers movies).

2 out of 5 stars

© Tanner McCullough, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Transformers Podcast

In this podcast, Jason and Paco discuss Michael Bay's newest film. Sorry for the delay.

New On Dvd: July 5th

By Paco McCullough

This week on dvd are two movies that I really enjoyed, as well as a critical hit that flew under the radar.

   13 Assassins- 13 Assassins is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, if not the best. The shogun’s sadistic brother is going around the country, committing horrible atrocities. A gang of 12 samurai are hired to hunt him down and kill him. The first half of the film is the planning for the attack, while the second is the incredibly epic payoff. I was wary going into this film because of Takashi Miike’s reputation, but I was completely blown away. Aside from Kurosawa’s later work, this is easily the best samurai film since the golden era of the 1960s. I cannot recommend this film highly enough.
5 out of 5 stars

    Hobo with a Shotgun-Hobo with a Shotgun is an entertaining movie. The homage to grindhouse revenge films embraces sleaze more heartily than a twelve year old prostitute with a coke problem. I can’t even imagine the gallons of stage blood that this movie used. Rutger Hauer chews the scenery perfectly, and some of the dialogue is hilarious. I really wanted to love this movie…. But I didn’t. It was a blast to see in a theater with friends, but there are enough minor flaws that wore away at me over the course of the film. The performances run the gamut from great to awful. A subplot involving a streetwalker that Hauer takes under his wing is boring and detracts from the sheer insanity of the rest of the film. Overall though, the film remembers that it is about a hobo with a shotgun, and maintains a extreme level of insanity.
4 out of 5 stars.

    Of Gods and Men- I didn’t see this movie in theaters, and was unable to find a copy to screen for the column. Of Gods and Men tells the tale of a group of Christian monks in Algeria and their interactions and increasing conflict with the Islamic locals. The critics seem to love it, as is has a 92% on rotten tomatoes. If it’s your bag, you may wanna check it out.

© Tanner McCullough, 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

By Jason Haskins

In the latest Transformers film, the follow-up to 2009’s disastrous Revenge of the Fallen, Michael Bay tries to make a movie to end a trilogy on—and what a way to go out! The last fifty minutes of the movie are full of robotic bedlam of epic proportions with explosions, robot-to-robot combat, and other ridiculous CGI stunts to make Transformer nerds crumble in delight.

The basic premise is that the space race of the sixties was put into effect because of an alien craft that landed on the moon, which the Autobots (good guys) and the Decepticons (bad guys) are both after. Apparently the craft holds key Transformers weaponry. This leads to young Sam Witwicky’s involvement years later after the events of the first two films where he finds himself unused by the government and feeling like a nobody now that no one needs him anymore. It doesn’t stay that way for long as a conspiracy plops itself literally into his lap and he learns of the human involvement in one of the greatest threats in all of mankind. Will the Autobots be able to stop the Decepticons’ biggest and baddest plot?!

It all boils down to my complete and utter disinterest in the plot. At the end of the day all I saw were a ton of special effects and over-acting and ridiculous Michael Bay elements, which completely muted whatever type of drama was being created. If I was a fan of Transformers it’s possible I would have found this more interesting. The movie does suffer from the third-times-the-charm where they tried to pump up everything full of steroids to blast the previous two films out of the water and they certainly do that…but to mixed results.

The only thing I dug about this movie were the visuals. I saw the film in 3D ($12 bucks I’m not sitting on anymore) and it definitely added to the experience. Things looked vibrant and the action looked pretty intense. The CGI was mostly incredible with some really interesting action scenes of Chicago being invaded by the Decepticons and an all-out war between the good guys and the bad guys. I particularly dug a scene involving a tumbling building with LeBeouf’s character inside it.

LeBeouf actually does a decent job as being the everyman here who’s charming and actually quite funny in the movie. Megan Fox has been booted from the series after calling Bay a Nazi prompting producer Steven Spielberg to give her the Schindler’s Fist of firings and has been replaced with Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who is really stunning. That’s all she really is, as her character could have been completely omitted from the film without altering anything. Other supporting characters include Frances ‘donchaknow’ McDormand as a no-bullshit government suit, Patrick Dempsey as a little rascal, John Malkovich as Witwicky’s boss, and the epic return of Tyrese Gibson for the African-American perspective.

A few blaring problems was the screenplay and the direction right off the bat. First of all, the flick is over two hours long and takes about forty-five minutes to really amp up towards anything and once everything does start happening it turns stupid very quick. Let me restate that and say the whole flick is sort of stupid. I mean, the premise is a little half-baked with the ultimate plan being very disappointing in the midst of all this epic ambition and chaos. Michael Bay definitely uses spectacle over substance and I won’t even say style as the majority of the movie is computer generated. The last thirty minutes were good, sure, but I was ready for it to be over three quarters of the way through the film. There’s only so much time I can commit to talking robots and bad dialogue.

Overall, this is a movie to be enjoyed by mainstream Summer audiences looking for explosions and lackluster stories. I’m not a big Transformers fan so I didn’t see what all the hoopla was about, but perhaps those in the know will dig it more than me. I will say that this is the best one of the whole series with some really cool action sequences and a more fun approach than anything they’ve done previously. However, at the end of the day I wish I had seen something else—and that’s how the cookie crumbles.

© Jason Haskins, 2011

2 out of 5 Stars

Crapsterpieces: Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988)

By Paco McCullough

Hell Comes to Frogtown is one of the most ridiculous movies I have ever seen. In it, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper (They Live) plays a sex offender in a post-apocalyptic United States. Due to radioactive fallout, the majority of men are sterile. While Piper’s character, Sam Hell, is being interrogated, a government agency in charge of reproduction enters the room. They’ve discovered that Hell is the most fertile man on the planet. As such, the government has an offer for him- enter “Frogtown”, populated by freakish froglike mutants, and save a harem of fertile young women. After the women are saved, he is to impregnate them.
    Somewhat astonishingly, a movie with a premise this original is still rather boring. Piper’s boorish character lacks any real charm, instead just kind of being a dick. The process of infiltrating Frogtown is monotonous. Once the action begins, for the most part it is poorly directed and rather boring.
    Hell Comes To Frogtown recognizes its flaws, focusing instead on the bizarre humor of the premise. Everyone I know who has seen this film immediately thinks of the “Dance of the Three Snakes.” I won’t ruin it for those of you that haven’t seen it, but that scene alone is worth the price of a rental. Some of the other humor is not as successful- for instance, a frog women wants to sleep with Hell, but she’s ugly. Humor supposedly ensues.
    Overall, the film is only moderately entertaining. However, its bizarre premise and humor make it a must see if watching with a group of immature buddies. Beer is recommended.

Critical Scale: 2.5 out of 5

Crapsterpiece Scale: 4 out of 5

© Tanner McCullough, 2011

A note on our podcasts

Our podcasts are currently not up and running, but should be fixed by Tuesday night. Sorry for anyone who tried to find them.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) Review

By Paco McCullough

Sorry for the delay. Here is one of two Transformers reviews that we'll be posting in the next couple of days.

Transformers Dark Of The Moon is a bad movie. It is not a horrible film like its predecessor, but it’s also not in any way a good film. It is incredibly long, with most of the film being nothing more than filler. What doesn’t work as a 150 minute long film could have possibly worked as a 90 minute film.
    There are a few redeemable elements of Transformers. The visuals are uniformly impressive. Several actors I love are in this film for some reason. Amongst these: John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, and John Turturro. These characters are wasted in meaningless supporting roles that just serve to further distract from the overall plot. While the cast and visuals are spectacular, it is not enough to save the movie.
    One of the most significant problems with Transformers is its running time. For a film that is ostensibly about robots fighting each other, there is a significant amount of time leveraged on unnecessary subplots that do nothing to drive the film forward. Because of this, the first hour and a half of the film are agonizingly slow. These subplots don’t help elevate any of the characters from their archetypes. We have the cranky boss, the average guy, the hot girlfriend, the tough marine, and several more. Most of these characters seem to exist more to stretch the runtime than for any real narrative reason.
    The climax, an epic showdown in Chicago, is about an hour long. For the first twenty minutes or so, it is exciting.  There’s only so many ways to show giant CGI robots fighting, and once that peak is reached, the action begins to feel quite repetitive.
    The whole film is a mess. Don’t waste your time.

1.5 out of 5 stars

© Tanner McCullough, 2011

Comic Movie Collection: Daredevil Director's Cut (2003)

By Jason Haskins

    Like that amazing Godsmack song goes, I stand alone. [Author's Note: Sarcasm] When it comes to that blasted Daredevil movie. Remember the one—it’s with Ben Affleck in …red leather with a weird looking helmet made out of fruit roll-up.

Released in 2003 after the critical and financial success that was Spider-Man, this film sought to begin an all-new trend of superhero movies where Hulk, Fantastic Four, and other properties would follow to similar expectations.

Daredevil is one of those amazing comic book characters that thrives in darkness—literally. Matt Murdock is a contemplative and sad blind man with heightened senses and an acrobatic nature that makes him far different from other comic characters out there. I always liken him to Marvel’s Batman figure because of how his past is built on ruin with a sense of dedication to ending corruption.

The flick begins with Daredevil wounded in a church where we then flash back and get the atypical origin story. After seeing his once-great boxer father roughing up some guys for an infamous gangster in Hell’s Kitchen, he runs away only to get into an accident which takes his vision (but leaves him with superpowers).

Years later and after his father is murdered he becomes the vigilante Daredevil who preys on the wicked and seeks justice when his day job of being a lawyer just doesn’t cut the mustard. The flick is about Murdock falling in love with Elektra and also introducing us to the dastardly Kingpin, who is basically the Lex Luthor of Daredevil’s world.

Daredevil is played by Ben Affleck and while some would be quick to make fun of the guy, he actually does a decent job as Matt Murdock. I think that he’s definitely superhero material, but the costume takes away some of his power because of how awkward and bland it looks compared to the comics. His chemistry with Foggy Nelson (played excellently by Jon Favreau) is also to be commended—they are funny and good together, which makes their relationship actually stronger than the whole Elektra romance.

Jennifer Garner plays Elektra, one of the quintessential supporting characters to Daredevil and one that writer Frank Miller heaped with development and interesting tidbits. She is completely neutered here not just in the way that her character is written, but in how stiff Garner is. Couple that with the completely asinine music that goes with her character (including two Evanescence songs in a damn row) and you have reason to be pissed—I know I am every time I watch her.

The supporting cast is pretty good with Michael Clarke Duncan as the Kingpin and while he’s pretty goofy at some points and doesn’t harness the same intellect and edge that his comic opposite does, he definitely has size on his side. Jon Favreau is definitely a delicacy and surprisingly Colin Farrell shows up as bad guy Bullseye to really mixed results. He’s dangerous and cunning…but so effing lame that the threatening nature of his character is lost.

The version of the film I’m reviewing is the Director’s Cut version, which is definitely the better of the two (with the Theatrical, of course, being the second). The Theatrical omits a lot of little subplots and a few truncated bits of material that was probably too hard for a PG-13 such as a forced ‘f’ word and some violence, but the Director’s Cut puts up twenty extra minutes of material that actually helps the movie make more sense. Granted, you’re going to have to deal with Coolio, who Nelson and Murdock are representing in some previously cut scenes.

There is a good amount of action and awesome acrobatic work that flourishes in all of the Daredevil charm with some obvious dated CGI effects and plastic-looking set pieces that detract a little bit, but with the thumping score that’s actually quite good (when it’s not trying to be metal or Evanescence) really amplifies the experience of the film.
The story isn’t one of the best attempts as they could’ve tried something much easier like introducing us to Karen Page, who’s relationship with Matt Murdock is much more interesting than Elektra’s and could have worked better in this atmosphere. Perhaps they could have brought in something cooler than just having Kingpin hire Bullseye to kill Daredevil as the plot, but this is a piece of comic book cinema growing pains.

What I really dig about this movie every time I watch it is that it does get some things right such as the darkness of Daredevil, his reliance on prescription drugs, and the tank he has to sleep in so that he can block out all of his senses. The depth of the character is there, but is definitely poorly written at times. Mark Steven Johnson does succeed in some directorial ways in terms of setting up shots and creating some interesting things with Daredevil’s imagery, but it’s all muted so much in the mostly bland script he actually penned himself.

Aside from hardcore Daredevil fans I can’t see anyone giving this an honest look because of how awkward it is. The costume is a definite eye sore, the soundtrack (minus the main score) is atrocious, and the performances are all quite bad across the board. The biggest detriment is the script, which could’ve introduced many people to an amazing comic character, but took the easy way out. Hell, I can’t even see honest Daredevil fans digging this as much as me. I stand alone.

© Jason Haskins, 2011

3 out of 5 Stars