DEATHMATCH-Episode 1: Battle of the Tarantinoverse Villains (Part 1 of 2)

Ooooo….So edgy….

Wow, maybe I should finish up that Star Wars series I started forever ago. Now would be the ideal time, anyways. I’ve had more views in the past six hours than in the entire past week. Quentin Tarantino is not on anybodies’ must-see list right now. It’s all Star Wars.

Darth Maul officially looks like a pussy now.

 But hey, this wouldn’t be Please Kill the Messenger if it wasn’t hopelessly irrelevant. So with that said, it’s time to get the first episode of Deathmatch underway!

As I mentioned in the introduction to this whole concept last week, this first part of the episode is more of an introduction to the participants, their strengths, their weaknesses and so on. It’s a doozy as well, with a whopping nine fighters representing their respective movies.

I should note for those not aware that the Tarantinoverse consists of select films written by Quentin Tarantino that all have shared elements, most notably characters (For example, Pulp Fiction’s Vincent Vega is the brother of Mr. Blonde from Reservoir Dogs) and fictional brands (Big Kahuna Burger and Red Apple Cigarettes) that seem to suggest that all these films take place in the same ultra-violent shared universe that split apart from our own after Adolf Hitler was assassinated by American forces in Inglourious Basterds.

Or when the KKK was destroyed in its infancy by its member’s fortunate inability to make hoods right. Pick one, I guess.

That said, not every Tarantino movie is part of this universe. Movies like Natural Born Killers and Crimson Tide don’t have enough evidence to link them conclusively to the other movies, and Jackie Brown, being based on a novel, is part of a whole different shared universe. So, the movies that will contribute a fighter will be Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, True Romance, Death Proof, From Dusk till Dawn, the two Kill Bill movies, Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained.

So, without further ado, let’s get right into it!

(Also, consider this a spoiler alert for the previously mentioned movies. You’ve been warned)

Vic Vega (Mr. Blonde)

How the fuck is he seeing where he’s shooting?

Appearance: Reservoir Dogs 

Portrayed by: Michael Madsen

Best quote: “Listen kid, I’m not gonna bullshit you, all right? I don’t give a good fuck what you know, or don’t know, but I’m gonna torture you anyway, regardless. Not to get information. It’s amusing, to me, to torture a cop. You can say anything you want cause I’ve heard it all before. All you can do is pray for a quick death, which you ain’t gonna get.” 
[He removes his razor]

“You ever listen to K-Billy’s “Super Sounds of the Seventies” weekend? It’s my personal favorite.”

It only seems logical to start with the movie that propelled Tarantino to cult stardom, 1992’s Reservoir Dogs. While this masterpiece is chock-full of memorable characters like Mr. Orange, Mr. White, Nice Guy Eddie, etc., the most memorable character, in my correct opinion, is Vic Vega. While on the surface, Vega (Who goes by the alias of “Mr. Blonde” throughout the movie) appears to be your typical strong, silent type, good friends with Nice Guy Eddie and, like the others, a professional criminal. However, not only is it revealed that Vega is not exactly the most respectable criminal, murdering several civilians in a panicked rush to escape the bank he robbed with the others and showing no real remorse for the deed, which is pretty heinous in the first place.

As if that wasn’t enough, after he is left alone with a police officer, he starts taunting, then torturing him, even going so far as cutting his right ear off with a straight razor and dousing him in gasoline, fully intending to burn him alive. In fact, the only reason he doesn’t do just that is because Tim Roth shoots him to death before he can do so.

Right away, we have a very, very interesting candidate for this battle royale. I mean, forget sadistic, this guy’s a fucking full-blown psychopath. He kills without any real remorse, tortures for shits and giggles…. I mean, when it comes to kill instinct, this guy is off the chain. This guy’s antics disgusted even some of the most dedicated filmgoers around back in the day.  Add in the fact that he’s handy with a razor blades and hand guns, and he looks like a strong candidate.

Hell, I haven’t even mentioned the fact that I can’t listen to “Stuck in the Middle With You” anymore without instinctively covering my right ear.

What’s the catch? Mr. Blonde is not particularly great under pressure, being cursed out by Harvey Keitel and Steve Buscemi for his violent outburst in the bank robbery. True, in a fight to the death that can be a plus, but not always. Also, it doesn’t help that he was taking so much pleasure in watching the cop suffer that he doesn’t notice that a bloodied and battered Tim Roth has woken up, pulled out his pistol, and aims to kill him before he can kill the cop.

Hey jackass! How about a little less white-guy dancing and a little more peripheral vision!?!?

Also, for a psychopath, he doesn’t seem particularly smart or cunning. Sure, he talks a good game when confronting Harvey Keitel, but, again, when you have a chance to save your ass by looking slightly to your left, and you don’t take it, you don’t come out looking so rosy in the “brains” department.

Also “pistol and razor blade” isn’t the most intimidating arsenal to take into a fight.

Drexl Spivey

Oooohh… So THIS is who those “Stranger Danger” PSA’s were warning us about.

Appearance: True Romance 

Portrayed by: Gary Oldman (Obviously)

Best quote: “He must have thought it was white boy day.”

As the quote may have suggested, Drexl Spivey suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. Alabama Worley mentions at one point that he tries very hard to be a black guy. What this is saying about black people is a little bit sketchy, but I so do not want to get into the topic of racism in Tarantino movies right now.

Anyhoo, Drexl is a Detroit pimp and a drug dealer who is Alabama’s pimp at the beginning of True Romance. When Clarence comes to intimidate him into letting her go free, he responds by taunting him and beating him up.

Then, Clarence shoots him in the face.

Going with the most memorable villain of the movie doesn’t always leave me with the strongest candidate, apparently.

I mean, Drexl isn’t a pushover, he’s smarter than one would guess, and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty (He does have the balls to kill Samuel L. Jackson at the beginning of the movie), but he doesn’t have a weapon (He holds a shotgun for a bit, but he doesn’t use it as much as, say, Mr. Blonde uses his signature razor blade) and he’s not that smart. I mean, he let Christian Slater kill him, for Chrissakes. Weak candidate. Let’s move on.

The Gimp

The sooner we get Tarantino to psychoanalysis, the better.

Appearance: Pulp Fiction

Portrayed by: Stephen Hibbert

Best quote: *Unintelligible shrieking*

Once again, the “most memorable character” rule bites me in the ass. No way this guy’s not getting offed in the first round.

Santanico Pandemonium

Eh. Still less embarrassing than Grown Ups 2.

Appearance: From Dusk till Dawn

Portrayed by: Salma Hayek

Best quote: “I’m not gonna drain you completely. You’re gonna turn for me. You’ll be my slave. You’ll live for me. You’ll eat bugs because I order it. Why? Because I don’t think you’re worthy of human blood. You’ll feed on the blood of stray dogs. You’ll be my foot stool. And at my command, you’ll lick the dog shit from my boot heel. Since you’ll be my dog, your new name will be “Spot”. Welcome to slavery.”

From Dusk till Dawn is probably the strangest Tarantino-written movie, and holy shit, is that ever saying something. While it starts off in what seems like typical Tarantino fashion (George Clooney and Q.T. himself kidnap Harvey Keitel’s family and try to sneak over the border into Mexico, the second half spirals out of control when the motley crew get themselves trapped in a seedy Mexican strip club where, thanks to the well-known magic properties that come with a strip club being built on Aztec ruins, the strippers are actually vampires. It’s a twist that comes out of nowhere, it’s silly, and it’s really jarring.

It’s also super fucking cool.

The head stripper/vampire goes by the name of Santanico Pandemonium (A homage to the 1975 nunsploitation film, Satánico Pandemonium. Also, yes, nunsploitation is a thing that exists, and yes, it’s just as disturbing as you’re imagining right now ), and, until she transforms, she pretty much looks like, well, scantily clad Salma Hayek. Nothing that really stands out.

Uhh…You know what I mean.

But then, once she catches sight of some stray drops of blood from an open wound, she turns into a ravenous, bloodthirsty monster whose only real purpose is to consume the life essence of every human in her line of sight.

Women, am I right?

So, she’s got that going for her. The other candidates in this Deathmatch may have seen some freaky shit, but chances are, they haven’t seen a goddamn vampire before. And this is a bona fide vampire, by the way. None of that Twilight dreck here, she’s purely out to kill, kill, kill. Being a vampire, she has enhanced strength, speed, and  and her bite spells doom (Albeit, not instant doom)for anybody unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of it. Unlike the other fighters, she has no need for weapons to gain an edge. She is a weapon.

Problem is, while her offense is impressive, her defense leaves a lot to be desired. It is revealed during the movie that these vampires have extra-thin skin, making them especially vulnerable to bludgeoning and stabbing attacks. Being a group of villains that is not exactly short on bludgeoning and stabbing weapons, this could prove to be her downfall. It’s not like she’s gonna be a pushover, and again, none of these guys have seen a vampire before, but she has some pretty glaring weaknesses to be considered before crowning her the champion yet.

O-Ren Ishii (Cottonmouth)

Charlie’s Angels, this is not.

Appearance: Kill Bill: Volume 1

Portrayed by: Lucy Liu

Best quote: “As your leader, I encourage you from time to time, and always in a respectful manner, to question my logic. If you’re unconvinced that a particular plan of action I’ve decided is the wisest, tell me so, but allow me to convince you and I promise you right here and now, no subject will ever be taboo. Except, of course, the subject that was just under discussion. The price you pay for bringing up either my Chinese or American heritage as a negative is… I collect your fucking head. Just like this fucker here. Now, if any of you sons of bitches got anything else to say, now’s the fucking time!”
[pause]

“I didn’t think so”

O-Ren Ishii is so friggin cool.

A half- Japanese, half-Chinese-American living in Japan, O-Ren’s parents were brutally murdered by the Yakuza when she was little. Growing vengeful to an unhealthy extreme, O-Ren tracked the Yakuza boss down and brutally murdered him. After that, she trained as a hired gun, and by age 19, she was the top assassin in the world, eventually joining the Deadly Viper Assassination squad with the codename of “Cottonmouth.” After taking part in the assassination attempt on Beatrix Kiddo, she leaves the D.V.A.S. to pursue a prosperous career in the Tokyo underworld, during which she rises to be the Kingpin of Crime in Tokyo….Because when her parents were murdered by the Yakuza, she obviously decided that becoming the head of the Yakuza was the correct way to go about it.

That makes sense.

Anyways, O-Ren is probably the strongest candidate so far, if only because she has a katana as a weapon, and, as Tarantino has taught us, katanas (Along with Samuel L. Jackson) were created specifically for the purpose of smiting the weak and cowardly off of the face of this planet.

Seen here: The exact moment when everyone decided that Pulp Fiction was their new favourite movie.

In addition to her cool weapon, and her extreme proficiency with it, she is also a top-notch martial artist and an expert marksman (Although she won’t have a sniper rifle with her in the Deathmatch) and has no problem with killing other people. I wouldn’t say she slays people whenever she feels like it, because that’s not the truth, but she will execute if her life is in danger, and she is really damn good at it.

Case in point.

What’s her fatal flaw? Well, first of all, we see that she does use her Crazy 88 gang to tire out the Bride, but it’s not like she overly relies on them, she still does a lot of dirty work. Nah, her biggest flaw is the fact that she gets too cocky when confronting her enemies. In her final fight against Beatrix, she has her on the ropes, but takes too much time taunting the Bride instead of moving in for the kill. I mean, you can talk a good game if you know, 100% that there’s no possible way it could come back to bite you in the ass. Otherwise, you risk ending up like…Uh, that one part in the fourth season of Game of Thrones. Yeah, if you watch the show, you know what I’m talking about.

And you thought Tarantino was into liberally murdering his main characters.

Bill (Snake Charmer)

Man, he looks so badass until he talks, and you learn he has a lisp.

Appearances: Kill Bill (Both volumes)

Portrayed by: David Carradine

Best quote: “As you know, I’m quite keen on comic books. Especially the ones about superheroes. I find the whole mythology surrounding superheroes fascinating. Take my favorite superhero, Superman. Not a great comic book. Not particularly well-drawn. But the mythology… The mythology is not only great, it’s unique […] Now, a staple of the superhero mythology is, there’s the superhero and there’s the alter ego. Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he’s Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone. Superman didn’t become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he’s Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red “S”, that’s the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears – the glasses, the business suit – that’s the costume. That’s the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent. He’s weak… he’s unsure of himself… he’s a coward. Clark Kent is Superman’s critique on the whole human race.

He’s basically Christian Slater from True Romance, but a kung fu master.

The titular character of the Kill Bill movies, Bill, also known as “Snake Charmer”, is the leader of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, and Beatrix Kiddo’s mentor and “special friend”, until she runs away. Jealous, Bill and the rest of the D.V.A.S. track her down and try to murder her, putting her in a coma in the process. This, upon Beatrix’s awakening years later, sparks the events of the two movies.

A lot of the praise that deserves to go to Bill also applies to O-Ren Ishii. Good with a sword, crafty, intelligent, yadda yadda yadda. Also, he’s less chatty than O-Ren, so that’s a point in his favour.

Problem is, he’s also in his sixties in terms of age. It’s very safe to assume that he’s lost a step or two. Also, he seems to rely more on his craftiness than sheer fighting technique (See the truth serum gun, or whatever), which can help him out, no doubt, but maybe not enough to get him that far into the Deathmatch.

Stuntman Mike

Hey, remember when Kurt Russell was the live-action face of Disney?

Appearance: Death Proof

Portrayed by: Kurt Russell

Best quote: Right, like anything was memorable about Death Proof.

Death Proof is easily the worst Tarantino film, in my opinion. It may just be that I have a built-in hatred for slasher and horror films, but aside from the performances and some of the writing, there really isn’t anything special about it. I mean, I guess the villain isn’t bad, and Kurt Russell’s good and… Eh, whatever, let’s get to Stuntman Mike.

Mike is a stuntman with a customised car designed to offer the best possible protection for the driver, but for anybody in another seat, it’s a death trap. Not the best thing to combine with Stuntman Mike, a sociopathic serial killer whose M.O. involves murdering young women with his car, whether it be through getting them in the car and driving recklessly enough to kill them, or straight-up ramming them with his car.

If Stuntman Mike were to have his car in the Deathmatch, this would be a whole different story, but he doesn’t as no matter what the NRA keeps saying, cars aren’t actually weapons. This means that he’s just a 50-something year old man with sociopathic tendencies. He’s screwed. Let’s move on.

Colonel Hans Landa

Sherlock Holmes wishes he had Hans Landa’s pipe.

 Appearance: Inglourious Basterds

Portrayed by: Christoph Waltz

Best quote: “Now if one were to determine what attribute the German people share with a beast, it would be the cunning and the predatory instinct of a hawk. But if one were to determine what attributes the Jews share with a beast, it would be that of the rat. If a rat were to walk in here right now as I’m talking, would you treat it to a saucer of your delicious milk? […]  I didn’t think so. You don’t like them. You don’t really know why you don’t like them. All you know is you find them repulsive. Consequently, a German soldier conducts a search of a house suspected of hiding Jews. Where does the hawk look? He looks in the barn, he looks in the attic, he looks in the cellar, he looks everywhere *he* would hide, but there’s so many places it would never occur to a hawk to hide. However, the reason the Führer’s brought me off my Alps in Austria and placed me in French cow country today is because it does occur to me. Because I’m aware what tremendous feats human beings are capable of once they abandon dignity.”

Quentin Tarantino has always written great, great villains. However, I think I’m not alone in saying that the character of Col. Hans Landa is not only the best character Tarantino’s ever written, but one of the best villains ever, period. Is he likely to go deep into this Deathmatch, though? I dunno, let’s see.

An Austrian SS officer, Col. Hans Landa is notorious throughout Nazi Europe for his ability to round up and execute Jewish runaways, earning himself the nickname of “Jew Hunter”. However, Landa himself does not hold any animosity towards Jewish people, nor does he feel much love for the Nazi party. He just chooses to find and murder Jews because it is what he does best, and because he finds a sick sense of delight in it. An epitome of opportunistic evil, Landa would let Germany fall as long as he stands to gain something from it, whether it be money or amusement.

What does he have going for him? Well, he’s probably the smartest guy out of any of the candidates. He may lack the brute strength of, say, a vampire, but he could probably convince somebody to off themselves if he had enough time.

You silver tongued devil, you.

What’s the downside? Well, one minor detraction would be his use of an outdated German handgun, but I doubt that’ll affect him pretty much. A shot to the face is still a shot to the face.

As Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta will testify.

The only weakness of Landa’s that I can think of off the top of my head is his lack of real physical skill (Strength, speed, etc.), but something tells me that he could find a way to make it to the later rounds. Call him a Dark Horse, if you like, but I think he’s got a real shot.

Calvin Candie

“Go on. Say “count the Oscars” one more time. SAY IT, MOTHERFUCKER, I DARE YOU!!!”

Appearance: Django Unchained

Portrayed by: Leonardo DiCaprio

Best quote: “And if y’all wanna leave Candyland with Broomhilda, the price… is $12,000 […] You see, under the laws of Chickasaw County, Broomhilda, here, is my property… and I can choose to do with MY PROPERTY… WHATEVER I SO DESIRE!
[Candie rubs his injured hand and smears the blood all over Broomhilda’s face; she shrieks and moans in disgust and fear]

And if y’all think my price for this nigger here is too steep, what I’m gonna desire to do is…
[Candie causally sets his cigarette down; he suddenly but quickly picks up his hammer and violently grabs hold of Broomhilda’s hair, slamming her face on the dinner table and raising the hammer above her head. Schultz jumps while Django rises up out of his seat]

TAKE THIS GODDAMNED HAMMER HERE, AND BEAT HER ASS TO DEATH WITH IT! RIGHT IN FRONT OF BOTH YA’LL! THEN WE CAN EXAMINE THE THREE DIMPLES INSIDE BROOMHILDA’S SKULL! NOW… WHAT’S IT GONNA BE DOC? HUH? WHAT’S IT GOING TO BE?”

Long quote, I know, but I needed to get a quote that really highlighted Calvin Candie’s insanity. Yeah, Candie is probably the craziest of all the candidates. Well, I guess the Gimp might be crazier, but who knows, he could actually be a calm rational person behind that extravagant get-up.

He’s actually a family man, and holds a steady job as an accountant.

Anyways, Calvin Candie is batshit insane, even setting aside his racism. He’s a Southern Francophile plantation owner who enjoys watching slaves fight each other to the death in brutal “Mandingo” fights. Jeeesus.

Does craziness translate well to a Deathmatch such as this one? Well, in a fight where most of these people are armed with handguns and aren’t exactly bad shots….Probably not. He’s a great villain, don’t get me wrong, but in this context, he isn’t much more than a crazy racist dude. Nothing that isn’t too hard to dispatch.

Just ask Brad Pitt!

Welp, that’s it for the preview. The actual Deathmatch should be out sometime next weekend. After I finish recovering the hours of sleep that this post cost me. It’s really fucking long, you guys.

But! Before I sign off, I’ve decided that I’d like a little more audience input, as the only comments I get are mostly spam. So, I leave you fine people with two questions:

1) What Deathmatch should I do next?

2) What is your favourite and least favourite Quentin Tarantino movie?

Until next time.

 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1 (Movie Review)

“You say you want a revolutiooon, wehell, ya know…”

So, after my announcement a few days ago of the initiation of my new Deathmatch series, in which fictional characters get ripped from their comfort zones and are forced by me to engage in an ultraviolent fight to the death, it seems only fitting that this would shortly precede my review of the third movie in a franchise in which characters get ripped from their comfort zones and forced by their despotic puppet masters to engage in an ultraviolent fight to the death.

Except, y’know, they’re children, so I have that over Suzanne Collins, morally. For now, at least.

 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1

Directed by: Francis Lawrence

Produced by: Nina Jacobson, Jon Kilik

Written by: Danny Strong, Peter Craig

Based on: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Genres: Science-fiction, war drama,

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Natalie Dormer, Sam Claflin, Willow Shields, Mahershala Ali

Music by: James Newton Howard

Plot: After the events of Catching Fire, Hunger Games veteran Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is whisked away to District 13, which, contrary to popular knowledge, was not wiped out by the tyrannical regime in the Capitol, and now houses the rebel movement fighting against President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the jackbooted thugs named”Peacekeepers”.  Katniss, along with fellow victor Finnick Odair, her childhood friend, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), her trainer, Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) her family and former Gamesmaster Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) may have been spirited away to the rebellion, but her on-again, off-again sort-of boyfriend Peeta Mellark has been captured by the Capitol, and is being used, seemingly willingly in propaganda videos against the rebellion. With the knowledge that Peeta is in danger, Katniss is torn between her desire to save him, and the duty imposed upon her by the Rebellion of being the Mockingjay, a symbol of hope for the oppressed people of Panem.

So, in the pursuit of making all the money, Lionsgate decided to not only adapt the Hunger Games trilogy to film, but also to divide the final installment, Mockingjay, into two parts, following the trend set by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and The Hobbit. While it’s obviously a sound financial plan, the prior two movies, while none of them bad, per se, did suffer from the undesirable problem of trying to spread too little an amount of subject matter into two hours, or, in the case of The Hobbit, three years. To Mockingjay‘s credit, I didn’t feel like too little material was spread over too much time…Much. There is a scene in the middle of the movie where Gale and Katniss go hunting that looks like it’s building up to something, but doesn’t really go anywhere. Problem is, the movie’s actually too damn short. It’s around twenty minutes shorter than Catching Fire, and cuts off very abruptly, leaving the audience kinda surprised when “Yellow Flicker Beat” starts playing over the end credits. It kind of makes me wonder why they didn’t do something radical like just make one longer third movie. I mean, the people going into it should be expecting a truly epic conclusion to the series, so would it really be that much of a sin to extend it a little?

Whatever. Silly me for wanting trilogies to be actual trilogies, I guess.

By the way, in case you haven’t paid attention during the trailers, don’t expect too much similarities between the newest movie and the previous two in terms of action. While the other two movies were at least moderately action-packed, taking place in an arena full of teenagers murdering each other. Needless to say, there was quite a bit of exciting, brutal violence.

Yeah, yeah, whatever. Make your snarky Battle Royale references now, hipsters.

This movie, however, relies much more on subdued political drama than the first two. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like the political elements were non-existent, but they definitely put more of an emphasis on the politics of revolution-mongering than, you know, kids breaking each other’s necks.  I thought it was a welcome change, as it moved the plot along and was intense in it’s own way. The lack of action seems to be a major criticism of the movie, but if you don’t mind watching a lot of “moves and countermoves” then I don’t see why you wouldn’t let at least that aspect of the movie suck you into the story. Those of you not conditioned thanks to, say, Game of Thrones, might be a little less receptive, but know that you’re gonna sound really weird when you say that you favoured the jarring shaky-cam in the first Hunger Games over watching Jennifer Lawrence spar verbally with Donald Sutherland and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Of course, to really enjoy the drama, the actors have to show up, and fear not,  because, as was the case in the first two movies, the performances are great in Mockingjay. I’ll get to Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss in a bit, but the other actors are definitely worth a mention. Philip Seymour Hoffman is, for the second-last time unfortunately, great, and injects some much needed humour into this very dark, grim movie. Yeah, as progressively dark as the movies in this series have gotten (Because, again, child murder) this movie actually might be the funniest of the three. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s not a funny movie as a whole. Not even close. But having Hoffman and Lawrence, as well as Woody Harrelson, who is always good for a few laughs as Haymitch,  spout a couple of funny lines helped bring somewhat of a sense of levity to a series in which his happens:

 

I like how she’s reacting to getting impaled about as strongly as I reacted to a 60 on my minor Physics quiz last week.

Oh, uh, belated spoiler alert, for all three of you who haven’t seen the first Hunger Games yet.

Anyway, Elizabeth Banks is once again fantastic as Effie, newcomers Julianne Moore and Natalie Dormer are both good as the rebel President Coin and propaganda filmmaker Cressida, and the only weak link in the recurring cast until now has, mercifully been eliminated. Yeah, I really hated Willow Shields as Katniss’s younger sister, Prim. I still cringe every time she delivers her lines. This time though, she’s pretty great by child actor standards. She also has some solid chemistry with Jennifer Lawrence.

SEEEEGWAAAAYYYY!!!!

Which brings me to Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen. Now, I don’t think anybody buys that she’s a teenager anymore, and I doubt that anyone even bought it when the casting was announced before the first movie. That said, I wouldn’t want anyone else playing Katniss. She’s strong, yet frightened and insecure, she’s occasionally kinda funny, and she gets some great chemistry out of her relationships with Gale and Peeta (Two more great performances, by the way). I guess some people would have a point in saying that it’s kind of annoying that it looks like she wants to save Peeta more than reverse the fortunes of Panem through being the Mockingjay. Yeah, there are some moments  that you kinda wanna shake her,  but when are humans ever that simple in real life?

Weak, I know, but it’s the best devil’s advocate response I could come up with.

Overall: It’s definitely a different direction for the series to go in, and I’d be lying if I said I was a fan of the halving of the last book, but Mockingjay is still a great installment into the series, getting by mainly on the strength of its performances, and making the audience forget about the notable lack of action.

Rating: 8.5/10

For fuck’s sake, it shares similarities with Battle Royale, we get it!!!  Can you leave it be, goddammit?!?!

DEATHMATCH: Episode 0- The Introduction

Van Damme’s excited and you should be too!!!

Since the dawn of time, the creative genius of mankind has crafted some of the most memorable stories of all time, chock-full to the brim of memorable characters that have stood the test of time, even as their creators have long since vanished off the face of the planet. Who could possibly forget the classical deities and heroes of Ancient Greece, such as Zeus, Achilles and Hercules?

For better or for worse?

To use examples from the last two millenniums, who could ever forget the fascinating, multidimensional tragic heroes of William Shakespeare? Or, to get even more modern, how about the staying power that we’ve managed to get out of our stoic, square-jawed superheroes? Hell, we’ve managed to get a timeless character out of a talking tree voiced by Vin Diesel, for chrissakes.

Seen here: This generation’s Hamlet.

So, what is it that we do with these legendary characters from literature, movies, television and video games when we’re not reading about them or watching their exploits? Well, it depends. Some enjoy dissecting the character’s motivations, psychology and relationships. Others enjoy writing extremely disturbing fan-fiction. However, those of us with superior taste and highly developed brains know that there is only one possible use for these characters outside of their respective universes.

Fights to the death, of course!!!

Tell me I’m wrong!!!

Look, don’t act like you haven’t thought of this before. Even the stuffiest of the stuffy cultural elites have thought about injecting a little ultraviolence into their critiques. I’m sure some Shakespeare buff has witnessed some obnoxious college kid spout a bunch of Ayn and quote and thought “Pffft… Will could beat her any day.”

And I don’t mean “beat” as in “prove literary superiority”. I mean beat as in “kick the shit out of her in a barfight.”

So, my newest feature is the long-awaited “Deathmatch” series, in which I pit two or more fictional characters against each other in a battle to the death (Unless otherwise specified) to determine the victors of timeless theoretical battles like “Batman vs. Iron Man”, “Katniss Everdeen vs. Green Arrow” or “Disney Princess Battle Royale.”

Spoiler alert: Aurora is doomed. DOOOOOMED!!!!

However, before I go nuts with this, There have to be some rules and parameters set up. Every episode will be a two-parter, with the first part being an analysis of the fighters and their strengths and weaknesses, and the second part outlining the outcomes of the fight. The first fight in this award-winning series will be a 10-man, over-the-top fight to the death between the best villains from each film of the Tarantinoverse. Stay tuned, it should be out later this weekend or earlier in the weekday.

Watch it come out in the first week of 2016.

Gotham- “Viper”, “Spirit of the Goat”, “Penguin’s Umbrella” and “The Mask”

Suddenly, the show’s representation of Victor Zsasz looks positively adorable.

Nope, won’t have time for the blurb, let’s get straight to my ratings.

“Viper”- 2.5/5

Spirit of the Goat”- 3.5/5

“Penguin’s Umbrella”- 4/5

“The Mask”- 4/5

Huh. Gotham has finally managed to put together a short streak of not only decent, but genuinely good episodes? There may yet be hope of me going on to review season two!!!!

Also, sorry about the half-assed post, but four episodes is a ton to write about I tried several different drafts, but none of them were panning out, so I’ll just timidly shrink back to the “one review every two weeks” format (That goes for The Flash and Korra as well).

I’ve also finished a rough draft of something brand new (That isn’t a goddamn review) that I’m really excited to put out there. Not that I don’t love doing reviews, but if anybody read this blog, I bet they would be tired of reviews at this point, and… Yeah, I’d be lying if I said they’re the thing I most look forward to upon waking up in the morning.

bf7d3-deathlist2b5

By the way, this photo is your one hint about what’s coming up next (Besides reviews, I mean).

 

Interstellar (Movie Review)

I can now believe that this movie was filmed here in Alberta.

Christopher Nolan is brilliant. Let’s make that abundantly clear. This review is not meant as a middle finger to the man who made Batman cool again. That said, the combination of pulse-pounding suspense with intellectualism that seemed to be so easily achieved in The Dark KnightInception and Memento is not exactly a given in Nolan movies, apparently.

Mmmm… I can already smell the fanboy hatred brewing.

   Interstellar

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Produced by: Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan, Lynda Obst

Written by: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan

Based (In part) upon: Kip Thorne’s theories

Genres: Science-fiction, adventure, drama

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael    Caine, Ellen Burstyn, David Gyasi, Wes Bentley, Mackenzie Foy, Casey Affleck, John Lithgow, Topher Grace, Timothée Chalamet, Matt Damon

Voices of: Bill Irwin, Josh Stewart

Music by: Hans Zimmer

Plot:  As is the case in seemingly every high-concept science fiction movie, it is the near future and the Earth is, slowly but surely, dying out. Due to unspecified issues, the planet is ravaged by dust storms, and the entire planet has reverted to an agrarian society. One of the many farmers whose plots of land litter the devastated American landscape (Which brings to mind the Dust Bowl) belongs to Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former engineer and NASA pilot who lives with his father-in-law (John Lithgow), his son Tom (Timothée Chalamet) and his eccentric daughter, Murphy (Mackenzie Foy).  When Murphy leads him on a wild goose chase to find her imaginary friend, Cooper stumbles upon a yop-secret NASA base, especially shocking, considering that NASA was thought to have been disbanded years ago.

The NASA facility is led by Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a brilliant scientist who, along with the rest of the tattered remains of NASA, is desperately trying to find ways to save humanity. Driven to desperation, Brand’s Hail Mary plan is to send Cooper up to space in a spaceship with a couple scientists (David Gyasi and Wes Bentley), Brand’s daughter (Anne Hathaway), and a couple of robots ( and shoot ’em up into a recently-discovered wormhole around Saturn, taking them to a whole other galaxy, where humanity could find another place to settle down.

Seriously, before I get into this movie’s problems, I must stress that I did like the movie, despite its’ shortcomings, I enjoyed myself for, oh let’s say, 75% of the movie.  The movie’s almost three hours long, but throughout the first bit, it actually felt like it was breezing along, although not fast enough for me to miss out on the ever so important interactions between the characters. The score is composed by Hans Zimmer, who I have to thank for the soundtrack to The Lion King and Gladiator, meaning that he is one of my favourite human beings of all time. Unsurprisingly, he delivers some beautiful, atmospheric music that may not be hummable upon leaving the theatre, but it sure as hell worked in the context of the movie.

The performances were also great, which is kind of a given with Matthew McConaughey as a lead these days. Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine were both good in their role, as was Jessica Chastain in her role as an aged Murphy, and I never once felt the urge to strangle the child actors in the movie, which is always a positive in my book. Mackenzie Foy, especially, was really terrific as young Murphy, and surprised me by displaying a lot of chemistry with McConaughey. Especially surprising, since her breakout role was in the goddamn Twilight saga.

“Don’t listen to him, guys. I’m sure we won’t be working at a car wash within five years.”

I gotta say, though, the character of Tom, Murphy’s brother (Ably played by Timothée Chalamet and, later, Casey Affleck) seemed completely unnecessary to me. It could just have easily been a household comprised of Cooper, his in-law and his daughter, completely eliminated the character of Tom, and there would have been no less of an emotional impact to the proceedings in the movie. I dunno, I guess it was nice to see Casey Affleck in something.

It also bears mentioning that the movie is really, really gorgeous. From what I’ve heard, they actually had Kip Thorne be a sort of consultant on what things in space would look like (For lack of a better noun), so when you see a black hole, that’s what scientists are pretty sure  an actual black hole looks like. That’s pretty frickin’ rad.

Christopher Nolan has done a pretty solid job at incorporating shorter, emotional scenes in mainly serious movies, but he has set a new bar for himself with Interstellar in terms of emotional punch. I wouldn’t say it emotionally wrecked me, but holy crap does it get intense. Go ahead and skip to the end of this paragraph if you really don’t want to know anything about the movie going in, go ahead and skip to the end of this paragraph, but my favourite scene in the entire movie was when, due to the theory of relativity, Cooper discovers that his kids are now older than him. It’s not only a brilliant way to explain relativity to somebody, but also the best scene of the movie thanks to its emotional resonance.

Fuck me, that was the saddest damn thing.

However, it can work to the movie’s detriment too. The movie, for the most part, does a really good job of accurately portraying the science that would go into a space voyage, which makes sense, given that theoretical physicist Kip Thorne served as an executive producer. However, as much as I appreciate the science behind the movie, it loses me a little when it starts emphasizing the main theme in the film, that love transcends space and time, being, essentially, the strongest force in the universe.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against that being a theme in the movie. My problem is when the characters start spewing some bullshit about “quantifiable love”. I’m not going to go much more in depth for fear of venturing into spoiler territory, but seriously? I’m no physics major, that’s for damn sure, but I’m fairly sure that’s not actually a thing. The “power of love” crap may work in a movie such as Harry Potter, when the real-world applicability of the movie is non-existent, but in a movie such as Interstellar that puts such a large influence on the science, while keeping the human element mostly separate, you lose some brownie points from me when you try to spoon feed me with “quantifiable love.” It’s just too much of a stretch for a cynical bastard like me.

“Is…Is this love you’re feeding me? What the fuck is wrong with you!?!?”

Also, the dialogue seemed really clunky at times. I had to restrain myself from exclaiming “what!?” after Cooper explained to Murphy why he named her after Murphy’s Law. Most of the time, it’s a pretty typical, slick Nolan screenplay, but at other times…Ugh.

Another thing that was working against me was the length of the movie. Whenever a movie goes beyond the 160 minute range, it’s already gotten on my bad side. It’s not like I automatically hate it (The Lord of the Rings movies are three of the best movies of all time. Try and dissuade me of that, hipsters. I dare you.), it just has to do a bit more in the way of keeping me interested in the story to keep me distracted from the fact that I just blew three hours of my precious time. This movie did not do that. There were several times during the last 30 minutes of the movie when I felt that it should’ve ended, but it just kept trudging along, and it got to the point when I was just willing the movie to end, which is a pity, because looking back on it, it was a damn smart ending to a pretty damn good movie, but the ending was presented in such a hectic and drawn out way that I just got lost. Maybe I’m just stupid, I dunno.

One cursory look at my physics grade should have probably told me how much I would understand this movie.

Overall: It’s overly long, complicated, and occasionally displays stiff dialogue, but it’s a visual treat and an engrossing experience as well. It may not be for everybody, but it’s worth a watch. Just plan your day around it.

Rating: 7.5/10