Mighty Marvel Movie Month

My alliteration game is off the goddamn charts.

For the past week or so, I had been suffering through the worst case of artistic blue balls that I’ve had since I started to write somewhat consistently. Nothing I was drafting, aside from my pretty damn good critique of Boyhood (Humility is not one of my more prominent qualities)  was amounting to much more than a mediocre rough draft in my notepad, and the only things I was posting semi-consistently were frigging quotes, which, again, I really shouldn’t be using to replace original content.

So, I decided to retreat to my mind palace and figure out just what exactly the hell I was going to do next. None of the movies coming out interest me in particular, Game of Thrones isn’t till April, DeathMatches take too long to set up…. I guess the new Avengers movie is coming out soon, so I could do some Marvel-related thing, but what, exactly? It’s a little early to do a Top 10 Marvel Whatever list, and  think everybody and their moose have made a Top 10 superhero list…

And then, it hit me like Suge Knight. A stroke of genius unlike the world has ever seen before. What is it, you ask?  Well, for the next month or so, until the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, I will review every single Marvel Cinematic Universe movie that I haven’t already reviewed.

…At least, that was my original idea.

See, there aren’t quite that much Marvel Cinematic Universe movies as it can sometimes feel like, and I’ve already reviewed a fair bit of them. So, the next logical step?

Review every single movie starring Marvel characters, obviously, be they MCU or not.

Before starting, for those of you about to claim hat I’m ripping off CineMassacre’s Monster Madness and Nostalgia Critic’s Disneycember (Albeit, with the written word)… You’re right. I thought it was a cool idea, and I decided to do something similar with something I really care about, specifically, a bunch of costumed Ubermensch saving the world from the greatest threats humanity’s ever seen.

Of course, by “the world”, I mean “New York”.

The only problem with this? There are a goddamn ton of these movies, and there are only so many days until Avengers 2, with so many hours of free time at my disposal. So, I won’t see movies that I have already reviewed (Guardians of the Galaxy, Days of Future Past, etc.). Not only that, but I’m only reviewing movies that had a theatrical wide release (No animated movies, no serials, etc.) as well as only movies that are based off of characters from the main Marvel comics imprint. That means no Kick-Ass (Which is published by Icon) or Men in Black (Aircel Comics). If this upsets you, then a) you get upset at strange things, and b) bite me. It still adds up to 32 movies, what more do you want from me!?

My first review, being of the first ever movie based off of a Marvel character, should be out within the next day or two, and, surprisingly enough, this film does not start one of Marvel’s ticket characters, but instead stars an obscure hero known as… Wait, what does that say? Howard the-

…. Oh no.

God help us all.

Behind the Scenes of Kenny Rollins’ Creative Process

Besides this, I mean.

7:30 AM: Wakes up.

7:31 AM: Wow, I haven’t written an original post in like, a week! I should probably get right on that! 

7:32-11:00: Sleeps.

11:00: Well, the extra three and a half hours I spent sleeping were sure to have sparked some sort of creative idea in my brain! I basically just have to put pen to paper, and I’m bound to come up with something solid!

11:00-11:15: Doodles a stick figure picture of Iron Man fighting RoboCop.

11:15: Alright, Rollins, enough screwing around! It’s time to put your gigantic intellect to work! Start writing…NOW!!!

11:15-12:00: Stares blankly at paper.

12:00: Okay, you’re obviously working too hard. Take fifteen minutes. Maybe get something to eat. Then, you’ll be a goddamn creative genius. 

12:00- 2:00: Wanders down to the kitchen, eats everything in the general vicinity, decides to binge-watch Red vs. Blue.

2:00: No, no, you goddamn idiot! You have a responsibility to uphold to the three people who follow you semi-regularly! Look, here’s a half-finished draft that you shelved months ago! Maybe you can work something out of –

2:00-5:00: Watches back episodes of Game Grumps.

5: 00: God, I hate you. 

5:00-7:30: Watches Batman Begins for no particular reason.

7:30: Okay, look, you’ve wasted twelve hours on frivolous bullshit, but we can still get a rough draft done if you put your mind to it. So, what’s it gonna be? Are you gonna review Batman Begins? Talk about that potential Legend of Zelda TV show? Maybe do another DeathMa-

7:30-12:30: Watches The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises for no particular reason.

12:30: Fuck it. Quote of the Day it is. 

Is Boyhood Really a Modern Masterpiece???

Oh, the tears of unfathomable sadness! Yummy! Yummy!!!

It’s been nearly a month since the Oscars, and by now, regular people have already moved on with their lives, because they are well-adjusted human beings. However, because I’m the furthest possible thing from well-adjusted, I’m still beaming over Birdman winning Best Picture, even though it’s been awhile since the freaking ceremony, and the Oscars don’t mean a damn thing anyway.

As I’ve been skimming through some post-Oscars reaction stuff (In Mid-March? I repeat, what the hell is wrong with me!?!?) I’ve noticed that a lot of people (Forgive me, I couldn’t give you an exact percentage, because I don’t have THAT much free time) seem to be upset that Birdman won, the major complaint being that, while Birdman is a great movie (I wholeheartedly agree), it doesn’t hold a candle to the once-a-generation marvel that is Boyhood, the slice-of-life movie by Richard Linklater.

That, I have a little trouble believing.

See, despite all the hype surrounding it, and all the terrific reviews that the film has gotten ever since its premier at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, I still don’t see it as much more than just a good movie that, unfortunately, doesn’t hold up that well under actual scrutiny (Not “Oh, it took twelve years to make?!?!?! PRAISE LINKLATER!!!!”)

“Linklater makes Truffaut look like an asshole!!!” -Jay Bauman

So, in the interest of putting this movie to rest, I’ve decided to go a bit beyond my actual review of it and give a few reasons why I think that, while certainly not the worst movie you’ll ever see, it doesn’t hold up. As one of the few people on Planet Earth who’s sat through the movie four times (Once for my review, once with my parents, once with my brother and once in preparation for this post).

Before really getting into it, I should point out, for the umpteenth time, that this is just my opinion. If someone was really moved by Boyhood, or thought that it really was the best movie of this century so far. If you think that, terrific. I just don’t see what the big deal is.

1. Nostalgia doesn’t make a movie good, nor does it hold up very well over time. 

This is kind of a minor point, but this movie does lean a little bit too much on getting that warm, nostalgic feeling from the audience. I’m sure I don’t need to explain this, but nostalgia does not make a movie good. Not only that, but it also serves to date the movie, so future generations may not connect to it as much as our generation apparently does. As somebody who grew up in around the same time period that the movie was set in, I don’t mind as much as I probably should, but still, the lingering shots of old Apple computers and nods to Harry Potter and the fucking Star Wars prequels aren’t going to help the movie in the years to come.

Again, not a huge complaint, but not something that sits well, either.

2. The “12-Year” gimmick: Cool technical accomplishment, not a great indicator of quality. 

According to most people, the biggest thing this movie has going for it is the fact that it was filmed over twelve years, and while I see a little bit of merit to that argument (Specifically, that Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette managed to keep their characters interesting for one week of filming once every year), I don’t know if that really makes the film that much better. This may be the first time a non-documentary film takes this approach, but we’ve still seen people grow up before our eyes on screen before. There’s actually an entire genre of television dedicated to it. You may recognize it, it’s called “sitcoms”.

I know, I’m uncultured, but it’s true, isn’t it? During, shit, I dunno, Full House, we actually saw those characters grow up before our eyes and develop as human beings.

For better or for worse.

Oh, shit, what about For Better or For Worse!!!???

So, yeah, as far as I’m concerned, while it was a clever decision, and it was mostly executed alright, it doesn’t really elevate the film all that much. Besides, I don’t really think that most of the credit for the whole “twelve years” concept should go to Richard Linklater, but whoever was in charge of editing all that goddamn footage into a coherent movie. Really, what was so impressive about Linklater’s direction? Seriously.

“Uh, did you not hear me mention it took twelve years to make?”

3. The main character isn’t very interesting. 

It’s not always necessary for movies to have particularly interesting protagonists. The science fiction, fantasy and action genres can attest to that. The reason that those genres have  so many blank slate protagonists is so the audience can insert themselves into the role. Someone with a very basic personality like Neo in the first Matrix (A very basic character) is a whole lot more fun to watch than he would be if he was given more than the most basic of motivations to do what he does, because if that were the case, the movie may still be enjoyable, but Neo would be a lot harder to step into the shoes of, if that makes any sense.

Mason Evans, Jr is this kind of protagonist, and it doesn’t particularly work in the movie. This character is not particularly interesting, and for a movie like this, he really should be.

See, Boyhood  is the very definition of a slice-of-life movie. These kinds of movies live and die off of the character being engaging to watch. Especially when the movie is nearly three hours long. His character arc is: Small child quietly observes everything, pre-teen quietly observes everything, whiny teenager who observes everything while also occasionally waxing bullshit philosophical. This does not exactly make for emotional investment. Seeing him grow up before your eyes doesn’t make up for his nondescript personality. I’ve known people for twelve years in real life, and I’m still indifferent towards them. Why the hell should I feel any different about this bland, boring character?

4. The wrong character was the protagonist. 

So, yeah, Mason isn’t that compelling of a character. However, Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette’s characters were very intriguing. Besides the fact that the performances were great, these characters are genuinely excellent and likable. Ethan Hawke is trying to stay genuine even as he’s being forced into the conventional life that he didn’t want with Patricia Arquette. Do we get more of that? No! We do get more of Mason falling out with his high school girlfriend, though! How fucking riveting! Patricia Arquette’s character also has potential! She seems attracted to unstable or even dangerous partners! She’s desperately trying to get a foothold on her life! Do we see more of that? Noooope! What the fuck do we get ?! Mason hanging out with a bunch of skeeves, breaking wooden boards, obviously! Fucking ENTHRALLING!!! Clearly, this movie is the goddamn Citizen Kane of our age!!!

5. At a certain point, the writing just becomes super terrible. 

You may have noticed, but I’m kind of a stickler for good writing in any medium. And, being a teenager, I would say I’m a pretty good judge o realistic teenage dialogue. And, folks, this ain’t it.

The first third or so of Boyhood is actually pretty great, but I feel like, right when Mason hits junior high, Linklater, the same guy who wrote Dazed and Confused, mind you, completely forgets how to write dialogue for teenagers.

I defy anybody who likes this movie (Which includes me, mind you) to defend these lines as realistic an actual teenager, or, hell, an actual person, would say.

“You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment? I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us.”

What?

“Hey, welcome to the suck.”

Every time I’ve heard that line, I’ve projectile-vomited.

“You know Jim, you’re not my dad.”

There has got to be a less cliched way to convey that sentiment.

So, yeah, maybe we should think twice before elevating Richard Linklater to God status?

if those lines didn’t convince you…

“You know that goth girl that wears a lot of Hot Topic? Well, she and I used to be best friends but we aren’t anymore because she thinks I’m a preppy, but I still like her. Anyway, she cut herself, and now she’s in the hospital, so I’m going to go visit her. Have you read the Twilight books?”

Admittedly, I’m paraphrasing. Still, though what the FUCK?!?!

American Sniper (Movie Review)

Well, this is gonna be an absolute joy to watch!

I love Clint Eastwood, but I can admit that he hasn’t exactly been on top of his game lately. After the greatness that was Gran Torino, the legendary actor/director hasn’t had that much success, at least critically (I’ll give you Invictus, that was actually pretty great, but Hereafter, J. Edgar and Jersey Boys all kinda sucked).

His big political statement hasn’t exactly helped matters, truth be told.

His latest movie is American Sniper, the story of the late, much-celebrated sniper Chris Kyle, someone who has been quoted as saying that “[he] would like to shoot people with Korans”. In terms of avoiding political controversy, this was probably not the way to go.

American Sniper

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Produced by: Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz,  Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper, Peter Morgan

Written by: Jason Hall

Based on: American Sniper by Chris Kyle with Scott McEwan and Jim DeFelice

Genre: Biographical war drama

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Fake Baby

Plot: Searching for a higher calling outside of his lucrative career as a rodeo cowboy, Texan Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), seemingly finds his divine purpose when he is horrified by the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya. Enlisting in the army and eventually becoming a Navy SEAL, he shows a considerable amount of ability as a sniper. He is shipped off to Iraq after 9/11 (Because…Reasons…) and becomes the deadliest sniper in American military history, killing upwards of 160 enemy combatants. However, killing that enormous amount of people doesn’t normally result in a sound mental state, and sure enough, Kyle’s military career, and the resulting PTSD symptoms start affecting his relationships with his wife (Sienna Miller).

Look, this is a super controversial movie, and there is absolutely no getting around that. I’d be remiss to not go into at least some of the controversy surrounding this movie. That said, even considering the divisive nature of the film, it’s fairly easy to forget that, in a lot of respects, this is a super well made movie.

I fully admit that I went into this movie not expecting to like it and yeah, I kind of didn’t, but even I’ll admit that this movie shows a lot of potential. The cinematography looks like that of your standard Iraq War movie, which is appropriate considering, y’know, that the movie’s about the damn Iraq War. It also sounds terrific, as is par for the course with a lot of war movies, and is most likely going to win some sort of Oscar for sound editing or sound mixing, or whatever (I still don’t understand the difference between those two, frankly).

The sound and atmosphere really help contribute to this super intense atmosphere that Eastwood has always done a very good job of creating. You don’t exactly expect a lax atmosphere from a movie in which a small child is being aimed at through the crosshairs of a sniper rifle, at one point. Eastwood’s technically skilled direction takes the inherent intensity that comes with a movie like this and multiplies it twentyfold. It’s a flawed movie, but it was never boring, and in the end, that may do it for some people.

Something else that I would have be a complete idiot to skip over without praising is Bradley Cooper. Now, I am a Bradley Cooper fan, let’s get that straight. The first movie I ever saw him in was The Hangover, and if you would have told me way back in 2009 that he would go on to be nominated for three consecutive Academy Awards (As well as voice Rocket Racoon) after that (Brilliantly hilarious) movie, I probably would have laughed in your face. And then shot you in the kneecap. I was a pretty hardcore 12-year old.

I was basically Hit-Girl. Except, you know, a guy.

If he does win the Oscar, I’ll still be pissed off, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that his performance is pretty outstanding. From the 100% authentic sounding accent that one would swear had been lifted off of a bona-fide god-fearing Texan without having warped it into something stereotypical and cartoonish.

Like so.

All around, Cooper sells Chris Kyle as a likable, humble human being. You know, when he isn’t referring to the Iraqis as “savages”, but more on that later.

The action in American Sniper is also very good, as one would expect from a Clint Eastwood movie. It kind of ties into that “intensity” crap I was rambling about earlier. However, this is where some of the flaws in the movie start rearing their ugly heads. See, while the action scenes are very well done, it kinda looks like somebody drew the line for the budget at realistic-looking blood. Instead of that, they used the shitty, cartoony looking CGI blood that one would expect from Kick-Ass, or something.

Boy, I’ve been referencing that movie a lot lately. Weird.

Yeah, it worked in Kick-Ass, but in a movie that’s supposed to be gritty and ultra-realistic, CGI blood is super distracting. In fact, it kind of fucking sucks. What the hell, Clint!?

Also, while the actors do genuinely good jobs, with the obvious highlight being Cooper, the characters that weren’t Chris Kyle are either insultingly given the shaft in terms of character insight (*Cough* Sienna Miller *cough) or are really underdeveloped. Kyle’s fellow soldiers definitely fall into the latter category.  At no point did I really feel any genuine camaraderie between them and the main character. I mean, I get that they were supposed to be friends, but it doesn’t spend enough time showing them just hanging out with each other and forming genuine connections. For all its flaws, the movie feels very brisk, I wouldn’t have minded a couple more scenes of Kyle socializing with his comrades.

I guess we get some semblance of a connection when we see Chris’s reaction to them getting shot in the face. Not the worst, I suppose, but it could have been handled a lot better.

Also, there’s supposed to be a rivalry of sorts between Chris and some Iraqi sniper. It’s really dumb.

If only my complaints would end there. If fucking only.

So, American Sniper is not really an anti-war film, but it, for all the accusations of jingoistic nationalism thrown at it, is not really a pro-war film either, or al least tries not to be. That’s a pretty sound creative decision, considering the film is supposed to be a character study of Chris Kyle. So, how does it stack up as a character piece?

In that respect, it is a complete and utter fucking failure.

I’m pretty sure you’re getting sick and tired of hearing this, as his criticism has been bandied about plenty since the film’s release, but Chris Kyle was an objectively bad person, as the quote I mentioned in the intro would suggest. How exactly does one hear one of his many quotes mentioning his liking for killing Iraqis (Just look it up, it’s not exactly tough to find) and try to give off the illusion that this is essentially a good guy we’re dealing with? I would expect this from somebody who has maybe only heard about him in passing as a war hero, but not from a motherfucking biography of the man!!!

Yeah, he does call the Iraqis “savages” at a couple points, but he’s portrayed as a good guy so often that to hear him casually dehumanize an entire country is rather disturbing and out of place (It wouldn’t have been if they’d have decided to, I dunno, show Chris Kyle for the person he was instead of the flawed anti-hero bullshit they came up with. You could make the argument that he saved a lot of lives, but a) So did the enemy sniper, but that doesn’t make him any less of a hateful character, and b) that still doesn’t excuse such a cleaned-up version of what could’ve been a very interesting character. It doesn’t totally ruin the movie, but it does deal some pretty serious blows to its credibility.

Overall: There are worse war movies out there, but that doesn’t make this ultimately wasted attempt any more of a letdown.

Rating: 5.5/10

Oh, Jesus, I didn’t even get into the Fake Baby.

If you guys want to read a shorter, less profane review of American Sniper, head over to fellow WordPresser Polar Bears Watch TV where he (She?) delivers a pretty great review in about 1000 less words.

Quote of the Day- January 29, 2014

So, because I haven’t yet learned not to trust myself with a deadline, I thought my Theory of Everything review would be out today. To tide all those of you still paying attention to me over, I give you one of my favourite quotes from one of the great philosophers of the modern age.

Everytime I see, like, an insanely hateful YouTube comment… I’m like, “Man, your time would really be better served making art.”

– Leigh Daniel “Danny Sexbang” Avidan

Look at him. Look at that sexy motherfucker.