Archive for August, 2008

We are Winning…

Posted in Music Buzz with tags , , on August 19, 2008 by Brandon

The more I listen to Flobots, the more I like them.

Logic is the only the beginning.

Posted in Movie Buzz with tags , , , , , , on August 15, 2008 by Brandon

Behold the new Star Trek character posters, which look gorgeous!! And since it’s been awhile since I’ve posted any news tidbits, here are the ones that were released a couple weeks ago.

And some saddening news – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has been delayed till summer of next year, on July 17. I’m not going to worry too much about this one actually. I think it’ll be good for the movie to be pushed back awhile. It eases my fears about David Yates (my least favorite director so far in the series). Maybe now with the extra time they can make it that much more amazing. Although if the sixth film doesn’t blow my mind away, my socks off, and my pants into another dimension, I will be seriously pissed.

And surprise surprise, George Lucas’s latest cheap cash-in on his I’m-starting-to-think-undeserved-empire, er, excuse me, his latest honest work of art in his belovedly created universe, is getting a solid beating on Rotten Tomatoes. How does he live with himself? Honestly. He created a world that has meant so much to so many, and after the semi goodwill that was generated by Revenge of the Sith’s not-total-suckage, he’s going to completely obliterate it with this piece of garbage.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (7/10)

Posted in Movie Reviews with tags , , on August 14, 2008 by Brandon

The Mummy remake series has never been about anything beyond the most basest of thrills. Plot holes have abounded in both and the second was little more than a glorified version of the first. But quality or no quality, one thing they have always succeeded in giving an unpretentious, no-strings attached, special-effects driven ride. This third one resurrects the franchise with a twist, transposing the idea of the Mummy to Asia (thank God they didn’t bring back Imhotep again) and supplanting director Stephen Sommers with Rob Cohen, director of such “classics” like Stealth and xXx. Okay, sure, his resume’s not too impressive, but what he’s done with the Mummy franchise is. This one may not be as high on the quality ladder as its two predecessors, but its entertainment value is skyscraper high.

It’s been another amorphous amount of time between the last movie and this one, and apparently the time has been so amorphous that Rick O’Connell (played with his usual inimitable cheesy gusto) hasn’t aged at all while his son Alex (a stone Luke Ford) has grown about fifteen to twenty years. And it doesn’t really matter how much Alex’s mother, Evelyn O’Connell, has aged, because she’s played by a different actress this time around. Rachel Weisz turned down the script, so Maria Bello picks up the slack. She isn’t nearly as good as Weisz was in the role, whose effortless chemistry and witty banter with Fraser is part of what made the series so much fun. Bello is a great actress, but this simply isn’t the role for her.

Just like a quiet life isn’t the role for Rick and Evelyn, who spend their days attending fancy functions and writing about their experiences – in other words, they’re bored as hell. Well it’s a sure good thing for them that Alex is about to uncover an Asian mummy (Jet Li, literally without anything to do except walk around encased in clay for a good three-fourths of the movie) thousands of years old who, when unleashed, will rain down destruction (CGI goodness) upon humanity the likes of which has never been seen before!…except in the previous two Mummy films.

Originality obviously isn’t this mummy’s strong suit, but it shouldn’t really matter as long as the action and CGI are up to par enough to compensate, right? Well, I’m happy to report that they are, and this mummy features some of the best effects of the trilogy, and because our heroes are no longer restricted to desert and jungle scenes, they continent-hop all over the world and the dazzling effects keep up with them quite well, including a scene in the mountains where giant yeti battle against the soldiers of the resurrected emperor.

The relationships between the characters are also strengthened this time around – it actually reminded me a bit of the Incredibles in the way that it took some real family drama and transposed it against an epic chaotic backdrop – no, I’m not saying this film is nearly half as good as the razor sharp script that Incredibles had, but it’s at least a step up from the previous two films, where the relationships between the characters were always tertiary to the action. In this flick, they’re merely secondary, and though none of the actors, except Fraser, are particularly good, they’re at least enjoyable to watch bicker back and forth.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, shouldn’t be taken seriously by anyone, really. If you want realism in age differences, in CGI, or even in simply the storyline, you’re probably watching the wrong kind of movie. This new Mummy stays true to the spirit of its predecessors and just serves up an unadorned platter of goofy action. It may be silly, but boy, is it fun.

Step Brothers (7/10)

Posted in Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on August 12, 2008 by Brandon

The latest from the legendary Apatow comedy dynamite team isn’t their best, but thankfully, it’s not their worst either. It doesn’t contain the emotional depth or love-conquers-all message that the others do, and it usually condones and makes fun of immature people rather than stressing the importance of growing up (Knocked Up, the 40-Year Old Virgin, Superbad). However, that’s okay. If you’re willing to look at Step Brothers as little more than a series of skits about these two bumbling immature adults, you’ll probably have a good time.

John C. Reilly is Dale Doback and Will Ferrell is Brennan Huff, two forty-year old shlumps who never left the house and who spend their days munching on junk food at home and getting beat up by school children because they’re such big wusses. Their divorced parents meet and marry, and a storm of chaotic sibling rivalry ensues, soon replaced by brotherly love and a decision to become hard-working adults.

The comedy in Step Brothers is not what’s lacking. Reilly and Ferrell are perfect for each of their parts – some lines that would never work when uttered through the mouth of another actor seem like comedy gold when Ferrell gets a hold of it. “I’m burying you alive,” in a scene wherein he dumps dirt upon a live Dale in a hole in the ground. The sheer ridiculous immaturity of these two adults is so completely unbelievable that there’s no point in trying to find a moral or logic to the script – instead you should just go along for the ride and you’ll probably find yourself having a great time. The lack of a coherent through-story and character arc for each of the brothers could be due to what Adam McKay has spent the last couple years doing – running the “Funny or Die” website that he started with Will Ferrell – a site similar to youtube, except where the sole determination of whether a video is good is whether or not it’s funny. Each of the episodes wherein we see sibling rivalry or bonding would not look out of place as a five minute video on “Funny or Die.”

Because of this style of comedy, it’s difficult to care too much about the characters. Stuff happens to them throughout the movie, but it’s never so much a logical sequence of events as it is random splattering plot points popping up here and there. A short, sweet, moral is tacked on the end, but it doesn’t flow what came before – McKay wants us to laugh at and almost celebrate this duo’s stupidity for a good hour – and then he asks us to turn a mature and judgmental eye on them because they need to do some growing up. This message is even further garbled by scene at the end that smashes all previous logic that existed in the story to bits. (Although the sheer ludicrosity of that scene is refreshing and actually works, considering the unsure tone of the movie.)

As Apatow films have gone along, they have kind of evolved into some other kind of beast where there’s a fine line between making fun of yourself and your own immaturity and condoning it. Step Brothers doesn’t toe that line – it crashes and burns headlong into the condoning side and tries unsuccessfully to cross back over fifteen minutes before the credits roll. In terms of the usual emotional heart and soul Apatow affairs contain, Step Brothers is a dud. But in terms sheer laugh ratio, it’s a winner. Up to you which one you’re in the mood for.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe (3/10)

Posted in Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on August 4, 2008 by Brandon

There’s a lot going for Chris Carter’s latest directorial effort, not the least of which is the hotly anticipated reunion of arguably TV’s most sizzling onscreen-couple: Mulder and Scully. Admittedly, it was also a gutsy move of him to place the movie in this superhero summer, where it threatens to become swallowed beneath the combined weight of Bruce Banner, Tony Stark, and Mr. Heath Ledger himself. But even if Carter’s forgiven for how poorly “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” measures up to the rest of this summer’s fare, and even though David Duchovny and Gillian Andersons share as effortless chemistry as ever, the new X-Files is a dead in the water dud, a steaming pile of spiritual-psycho-babble BS that feels more like an episode of the TV show than an actual movie.

It’s been more than five years since Mulder and Scully’s FBI ship has sailed, and we now find that Scully’s a doctor in the middle of a treatment for a young boy and Mulder spends his days scouring newspapers and magazines for any clippings of unexplained phenomena. Enter the FBI, who hunt down Mulder and Scully because of an unexplained case involving a pedophile priest who may be linked to a series of murders. The catch? He has no connection to the victims whatsoever and finds the bodies through psychic visions.

The main focus of the movie is Mulder’s belief – like the film’s title, he struggles with this case because he wants to believe in the psychic powers of this priest but the evidence isn’t conclusive enough. Wait, didn’t Carter spend nine years exploring this? Mulder and Scully bicker throughout the film like they were back at the FBI ten years ago – arguing back and forth about belief and the supernatural and the possibility of the fantastic. It’s yawn-inducing, and even those episodes of the show that weren’t the best could eclipse this movie easily.

The acting is decent all around – speaking as a long time fan of the series, there’s nothing like seeing these two characters onscreen again, and the jolt that ran through me was almost enough to compensate for how bad the movie was. Almost. Looking back on the movie, there is nothing particularly memorable about it – it could fit in a two-part special on FOX back in the day and no one would have noticed the difference, which will make a lot of fans pretty damn mad at Chris Carter for wasting their time. I know he has me pissed. Really, Chris? You leave for six entire years, you hype up this movie saying it’s going to be a powerful spiritual exploration into Mulder’s beliefs and how they affect who he is, and then you give us this, a relic, a disgrace to one of the best TV shows of all time, that looks like you dug it up from an episode that never aired Perhaps you should have left that episode back where it belonged, instead of letting it land resoundingly anti-climactically in the multiplex. I want to believe, but I just can’t.