Frozen (2013)


I Don’t Have a Skull.  …Or Bones.

Frozen (2013)I finally found time to get back into the theaters … but we’ll get to that later.  I told Facebook to pick what I would be reviewing next, and Facebook picked Frozen, based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, written and co-directed by Jennifer Lee, co-directed by Chris Buck, and including the voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Ciarán Hinds, and Alan Tudyk.

Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) are two princesses of Arendelle, but they have special magical powers.  Elsa can create ice at will and Anna falls in love with anything with a penis.  While playing as children, Elsa’s mutant power smashes Anna right in the face nearly killing her.  She is saved by the troll king (Ciarán Hinds), who removes any memories she has of Elsa’s powers.  Elsa isolates herself from Anna to keep from hurting her again, but Anna doesn’t understand why.  Then their parents die because Up was such a popular movie that Disney learned that depressing kids was the way to win their hearts.  When Elsa comes of age, the doors of the castle are opened up for Elsa’s coronation, which activates Anna’s mutant power when the first man says words to her.  Elsa objects to their hour long engagement because you shouldn’t fall in love while waiting for your quality eyeglasses to be made and the ensuing argument reveals Elsa’s powers to the kingdom.  Elsa retreats from the castle, but leaves behind an unseasonable winter to remember her by.  Then Anna goes after her.

There were things that I appreciated about this movie and things I didn’t like, but overall I enjoyed the movie.  They did some unexpected things with the story that I thought were interesting, but I’ll get to those later.  One of the things I liked about the movie may not even have been true.  I like it when Disney movies put in references to other Disney movies, like how this movie had Flynn and Rapunzel in one scene.  I also heard someone speculate that the boat sinking in the beginning was the wreck from the Little Mermaid.  I even noticed some of my own.  Did you know that the reindeer was in the Lion King?  And that the snowman was the same one from Aladdin?  You gotta think about these things, people.  But since this is a movie and I’m just nit-picky, I noticed a few things in the story that didn’t make sense.  For instance, they talk in this movie multiple times about how it’s much better that Anna got hit in the head by Elsa’s ice powers than it would have been if she’d been hit in the heart.  I kind of understand the metaphor you were going for, but just think of what you’re doing to the future doctors that are watching this!  I would argue that it is at least equally as bad to have a frozen heart as it is a frozen brain.  Also, what was the deal with that guy at Elsa’s coronation?  Would it REALLY be that big of a deal for Elsa to grab that Diablo 3 mace and the Apple of Eden from Assassin’s Creed with her gloves on?  Is it because, by the laws of Arendelle, that would make Elsa’s gloves Queen of the land?  Another problem was just a continuity error.  Elsa created her dress out of her ice powers, so why did her dress remain when she removed the ice from the land at the end of the movie?  Technically speaking, she should’ve been naked.  That’s just good science.

A lot of the problems I had with this movie were because of the message of female empowerment that saturated the movie.  First of all, I’m a chauvinist, so I don’t like any lying ass movie that says women are strong.  But also, it just wasn’t really consistent.  Sure, they didn’t need the man to save her at the end of the movie because the act of true love was her saving her sister.  That’s nice and novel for a Disney movie, but it’s not like Anna didn’t need a man through most of the movie.  She saved Kristoff a few times, but she wouldn’t even have gotten close to the castle without him.  And she did fall in love with him, so that’s not really that novel for a Disney movie.  You might think it was because the original love interest turned out to be the bad guy, but that’s more of a “Men are dicks” message than about how women are strong.  I’ll tell you a few things I DID learn about women from this movie: women LOVE chocolate and can’t control their emotions, even when it involves magical powers and leads to killing your sister … twice.  So I liked the breaks in tradition like not having an evil queen and not solving every problem by making out with some dude, but I’m not going to pat them on the back too hard for it.

I think the biggest problem I had with this movie was the same I have with any musical: that it was one.  I don’t mind music and singing in a movie, but not all of these songs needed to exist.  I don’t get why the music at the beginning of the movie sounds like a rejected song from the Lion King.  I also didn’t think I needed a song that was probably called “We Collect Ice for a Living.”  Nor did I need to know that about that group of random people at all.  Nor did that group of people need to be in the movie.  Let’s just jump right into “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”  That was a good and cute song that actually told a bit of story in a helpful way.  And, of course, there’s “Let It Go.”  This one is a tricky one because it doesn’t really need to exist either as it’s basically just Elsa saying she’s cool living in a castle made of ice – a story that I would’ve put together when I saw her living in it – but the song is so strong that I wouldn’t have the movie without it.  The song between Sven and Kristoff was pointless, and the song with the trolls seemed to intentionally waste my time.  It was all about the trolls thinking Anna and Kristoff were in love, then they said they weren’t, then the trolls basically said, “Oh, then we just wasted a lot of your time.  Shall we try to save Anna’s life now?”

The cast was all great.  Good singin’ pipes and good character performances as well.  Kristen Bell played Anna really cute and funny, and made her very easy to engage with … which is something that Hans took advantage of.  GET IT?!?!  I would’ve been much different in Anna’s position.  First of all, I’d have a vagina.  That’s a big change.  Then I would’ve hated Elsa.  Not because she hit me in the face with ice and nearly killed me, but because she got mutant powers and I got jack shit!  I would be so pissed at my sister if that happened!  She doesn’t even read comic books!!  And Anna picked a really shitty time to air out her emotional baggage with Elsa.  Did you have to do it in the middle of her coronation in a crowded room full of strangers?  Just imagine how much better that would’ve gone if you went to her room and hashed it out in private like a decent person.  No one would’ve even witnessed it when she stabbed you in the heart with an icicle. Idina Menzel did great, but I kept wondering if Adele Tazlim wouldn’t have done better.  Josh Gad did a great job with Olaf as well.  He had his moments where it seemed like he was trying too hard, but most of the time he was funny and relentlessly adorable.  There were two characters that I had real problems with in this movie.  First was Hans.  Not his motivation though, I completely agree with him on his “Bang either one of the sisters or kill them both.  Either way, you’re King” philosophy.  But why did you have to be the idiot that jumps the gun and lets the hero survive?  Are you a Bond villain?!  Anna was SO close to dying when you decided to go announce it to everyone.  What if they had gone into the room as you might expect someone to do when the princess of your kingdom dies two doors down from the room you’re standing in?  The very least they would’ve found out was that she wasn’t dead, and then the next part of that is that they find out you’re an asshole.  Speaking of assholes: the King and Queen!  “We’ll protect Elsa from the world!  We’ll lock her in her room and give her no emotional issues and really teach her to value her life!”  You might have at least tried to get someone to train her on how to control her powers.  Those troll assholes seemed like they might’ve known a thing or two about magic.

Frozen was a fine Disney movie, but it didn’t blow me away.  It broke from a few conventions of Disney movies, allowing for stronger female protagonists, but kept enough of them in to properly represent women as Cathy from the comic strips, being over emotional and loving chocolate.  I felt that some of the songs were a waste of time, but “Let It Go” was my jams.  I would say I probably recommend you watch this movie, but in the very least you should set “Let It Go” on a loop on YouTube.  Frozen gets “Foot size doesn’t matter” out of “I love it! It’s so cute!  It’s like a little baby unicorn!”

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A Knight’s Tale (2001)


The Moon, At Least.  Her Breasts Were Not That Impressive.

A Knight's Tale (2001)Going into the break room at work can be a dangerous thing.  Half of the time they’re doing something supremely boring like watching sports and other times they’re watching movies of varying quality.  When I walked into the break room a few days ago, they were watching a movie I was aware of but had no desire to see.  But what I saw of it piqued my interest enough that I decided I should give it a look.  So hopefully that will explain why I watched A Knight’s Tale, written and directed by Brian Helgeland, and starring Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell, Shannyn Sossamon, Paul Bettany, Alan Tudyk, Laura Fraser, Mark Addy, and James Purefoy.

A squire named William Thatcher (Heath Ledger), along with his fellow squires Roland (Mark Addy) and Wat (Alan Tudyk), find their master Sir Ector dead while on the road to a jousting tournament.  In desperate need of money, William concocts the idea to compete as Sir Ector in his armor, regardless of the fact that he doesn’t have noble blood.  After winning some money, William talks Roland and Wat into continuing their charade to win more money, but they’ll need a forged patent of nobility to do it.  Luckily for them, they happen to encounter Geoffrey Chaucer (Paul Bettany) walking naked along the road, naked from gambling debts and in need of money himself.  On his way to glory, William also encounters a standard love interest (Jocelyn, played by Shannyn Sossamon) and a standard rival (Count Adhemar, played by Rufus Sewell).  And then the standardness continues.

I didn’t really get this movie.  I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t really see any appeal to it.  It’s very by the books when it comes to story.  The hero triumphs, he gets the girl, everything works out in the end.  But the lack of surprise doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad movie.  It’s just entirely predictable.  But that also can make it pretty boring.  I guess that could also have been the subject matter though.  Jousting just isn’t that interesting.  That’s why no one goes to Medieval Times or The Excalibur anymore … I assume.  I’m not researching here!  I’m just spouting off random nonsense.  But there’s nothing life or death about it; it’s just a game.  It’s practically a high school movie, replacing some boring sport with jousting and taking it back in time.  And since it’s basically a sports movie, we’re going to have to watch training montages.  I kind of understand the training montage.  It would be weird for him to just be untrained one moment and show up in the next scene saying, “Oh that was some good training,” but that doesn’t mean they can’t be a little boring too.  And they sometimes don’t make sense.  Some of the training scenes were of William riding at a device holding a shield, and then they show scenes of him trying to hit a shield held by Wat.  If you have that device, why are you risking Wat’s life?

The weirdest thing about this movie is the anachronisms in the movie.  It was innovative, I suppose, but also kind of weird.  It opens up with a crowd of people at a medieval jousting tournament singing Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”  To think Freddie Mercury has been getting credit for that song all these years!  People dress weird and use terms like “Foxy Lady” in the 14th century, having no knowledge whatsoever of Jimi Hendrix’ catalog.  “All Along the Watchtower” is a much better song!  William’s armoress, Lady JustDoIt, puts a Nike Swoosh on his armor after she apparently invents Vibranium (that would later be turned into Captain America’s shield) that is lighter and more resistant to damage.  It’s not bad that they made these choices in the movie, but it is definitely strange.

The cast of the movie was fine.  One of these guys would later be the best Joker in history, in case you didn’t know.  I can no longer tell if I like his performances in movies because he’s doing a legitimately good job or because I’m always thinking of the Joker.  Rufus Sewell plays a great dick.  He seems very easy to hate.  Alan Tudyk is always fun, even in the sometimes annoying comic relief role like he was playing here.  Paul Bettany was also entertaining throughout the movie, though I could’ve done with seeing his ass a few less times.  And maybe they could’ve balanced that out a little bit by showing us Shannyn Sossamon’s ass at some point, but they didn’t see the value in that apparently.  Despite her hotness, I found myself generally annoyed by her character.  She seemed a little too aware of her hotness, for one thing.  Granted, she’s aware of something that’s absolutely true, but being so aware of it kind of makes her seem conceited.  Also, what’s the deal with this “lose your jousting matches to prove your love to me” shit?  Will it prove that he values you more than he does winning at jousting?  Yes.  Could it get him killed or at least seriously injured?  Absolutely.  So he does prove his love, and he does get seriously injured, which proves that your love is pretty shitty.  Also, with her character sometimes coming off as unlikeable, and with how many other similarities this movie has with high school sports movies, I half figured they were setting up a hidden romance with Lady NikeSwoosh played by Laura Fraser.  All it would’ve taken is a few more bitchy moments out of Sossamon and a moment of Fraser taking a bath, letting her hair down, and replacing her paint-stained overalls with a pretty dress and this would’ve been Sixteen Lances over here.

I found A Knight’s Tale more strange than anything else, but it wasn’t bad.  The story was a basic high school sports movie with jousting instead of football and the performances were pretty good, but it was almost off-putting how odd it was for it to be so anachronistic in its presentation.  I thought this movie would be much dumber than it was, but I still don’t think there was anything spectacular enough to warrant a viewing, so I’d still say you may as well skip it.  A Knight’s Tale gets “You have been weighed.  You have been measured.  And you have been found wanting” out of “Change your stars and live a better life than I have.”

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Injustice: Gods Among Us – Ultimate Edition (2013)


It’s Not What I’m Doing … It’s What I’ve Done.

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Ultimate Edition (2013)You could say that my sister has a bad habit of picking the worst game from my Christmas list to get me as a present.  I prefer to think that she has a gift for it, and that the bad habit is my naiveté for assuming I’ll like so many games.  If you’re up to date with my reviews, you’ll know that two years in a row my sister has given me a game that made it into my worst games of the year.  Last year was Twisted Metal, but this year she got me Injustice: Gods Among Us – Ultimate Edition, developed by NetherRealm Studios, published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and starring the voices of George Newbern, Kevin Conroy, Adam Baldwin, Susan Eisenberg, Richard Epcar, Phil LaMarr, Neal McDonough, Joey Naber, Khary Payton, Mark Rolston, Tara Strong, Alan Tudyk, Stephen Amell, Troy Baker, Grey DeLisle, Jennifer Hale, J.G. Hertzler, Nolan North, and Fred Tatasciore.

In an alternate reality, the Joker (Richard Epcar) tricks Superman (George Newbern) into killing Lois Lane and destroying Metropolis, sending Superman off the handle to the point where he kills the Joker and establishes a new world order as the High Councilor.  In our reality, the Joker’s plan did not succeed, but did send the heroes from our world over to the other one, where they must join Batman’s (Kevin Conroy) insurgency and try to take down Superman’s regime.

There must be some sort of mistake.  I seem to not have taken any notes on the story of this game.  Of a fighting game!  They’re always so story-driven!  This game didn’t have a bad story (especially when you compare it to other fighting games), but it was fairly forgettable.  I guess I didn’t take any notes about it because it didn’t really make any impact on me one way or another.  It didn’t impress me as being particularly well-written, and I didn’t think of jokes to tear its shittiness apart.  It was roughly as good as any of those straight to DVD DC or Marvel movies.  Take that for what it is.

The thing that really makes or breaks a fighting game is the gameplay.  The problem with that when it comes to me reviewing them is I don’t really like fighting games.  I was interested enough to complete the story and beat the game with a couple of the individual characters to see their specific endings, but as with all other fighting games, once I hit that wall of boredom I hit it hard.  When I reach boredom with a fighting game, there’s no taking a break and coming back to it; I’m out.  Returning to the game is extremely painful at that point.  This game controls like most of the newer Mortal Kombat games.  There’re some punches and some kicks, a few special movies, and a super move for each character.  Nothing revolutionary.  I do like the fighting games that allow you to transition between different sections of the same level by knocking your opponent off of an edge, and this game does that as well.  Of course, once you’ve seen it once you can pretty much put a check mark behind that ‘cause it’s just going to be the same thing over and over.  There were a couple of notable changes to the fighting game mechanics that I noticed.  The first was the health bar system.  Unlike most fighting games that give each character a full health bar for each round, you’re given two from the beginning but do not get full health when you knock out one of the enemies’ health bars.  I actually liked this because it inspires you to do good all the way through as opposed to getting a fresh start because you just got KO’ed.  The other thing I noticed was the Wager system, which I hated.  It basically just gives the opponent the chance to prolong the battle by sacrificing their super bar.  They’re about to die, so they’re not going to need it, but you may have if you were trying to finish the game spectacularly with a super move.  Instead, they wager their entire super bar every time and you have the choice to either sacrifice your ability to do your super move or let them win, damaging you or healing them.  It just seemed like an unnecessary annoyance.

The characters were pretty good in the game.  It’s basically every notable character from DC comics, at least as far as I know.  I’ve never been that big of a fan of DC, but I certainly couldn’t think of anyone else from that universe that I would care to see in the game.  That basically means that Batman is in the game.  But I also resented Batman because they changed his default costume and made it look lame.  Thankfully, that could be repaired with alternate costumes, but you couldn’t fix how lame his super move was.  He basically just jumps up into the air and hits the opponent with the batmobile.  This is Batman we’re talking about!  Stupid ass Aquaman stabs the guy with a trident, hits them with a giant wave, and gets them eaten by a giant shark!  Wonder Woman’s super also sucks because it makes her seem like she needs help because she basically gets her Amazons to come in and beat your opponents ass.  It would’ve been less lame to involve that stupid invisible airplane she used to have.  But there were lots of characters to choose from, and even more because I got the Ultimate Edition.  That means I had even more characters to not care about.  Like Zatanna.  …Yay…

Injustice: Gods Among Us was a decent enough game for those who like fighting games, especially the Mortal Kombat games.  Unfortunately for it, this review was written by me.  I’m not that big of a fan of DC and I’m not that big of a fan of fighting games.  Kind of makes you wonder why I asked for this game in the first place, doesn’t it?  Well I am a complicated individual, but I will not complicate my review any more than I need to.  If you like DC and fighting games, buy it.  Otherwise, skip it.  Injustice Gods Among Us – Ultimate Edition gets “There is no justice!” out of “You could feel the love, right?”

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Wreck-It Ralph (2012)


It’s “Make Your Mommas Proud” Time!

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)The sad realization I’ve had about doing my reviews is that I occasionally don’t seem to find the time to see the movies I actually want to watch because I’m too preoccupied reviewing movies that have been requested or that I just want to watch to make fun of.  Today’s movie is the former.  I really wanted to see this movie for a number of reasons.  It included the voices of many people I like, it is about something I revolve my life around, and it just looked good.  But I never managed to get to the theaters to see it.  When it came out on DVD later, I still didn’t get around to it.  My roommate even purchased it and I still put it off until he finally had to slap me in the face a number of times with his BluRay until I agreed to watch it.  And then I left it on my desk without watching it for a few times until I felt like my life was in danger if I didn’t get around to it.  What I’m saying is that I’m terrified of my roommate.  He’s mentally unstable and I need help.  And since none of you are rushing to my aid because you’re bad people, I’ll instead review Wreck-It Ralph, the new movie from Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures, written by Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee, directed by Rich Moore, and starring the voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Ed O’Neill, Mindy Kaling, Joe Lo Truglio, Rachael Harris, Edie McClurg, Adam Carolla, Horatio Sanz, Dennis Haysbert, Maurice LaMarche, and John DiMaggio.

When Litwak’s Arcade closes, the video game characters come to life.  …I KNEW IT!!  One of the older games in the arcade is a game called Fix-It Felix, Jr., which is a Rampage rip-off where a giant monkey or lizard creature is replaced by a bad guy named Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly), who wrecks a building, and the gamer must take control of Fix-It Felix, Jr. (Jack McBrayer) to fix it.  But 30 years of being the bad guy is taking its toll on Ralph, who just wants to be the good guy and get a shiny hero badge every once and a while.  Ralph sets off into the other game worlds to earn a medal, going to the new first-person shooter called Hero’s Duty and jumping into the team of Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun (Jane Lynch), where he is able to earn a badge.  He escapes in a pod, but accidentally takes a Cy-Bug creature with him, which causes him to crash in the saccharine sweet kart-racing game and lose his medal to a little, glitchy girl named Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), who wants it to join the race and become a playable character.  But Ralph’s absence does not go unnoticed.  Having no villain in the game is viewed as a malfunction by the owner of the arcade, and if Ralph doesn’t return, the plug will be pulled on the game.  Felix teams up with his new love interest, Sergeant Calhoun, to find Ralph before it’s too late.

Disney must’ve realized that Pixar was showing them up recently because they really seem to be stepping their game up.  I would put Wreck-It Ralph up against any Pixar movie as at least their equal, and that’s one hell of a compliment with some of the Pixar classics out there.  I loved Wreck-It Ralph, and there’s really no reason I should even bother acting surprised about that.  This movie was made for me, or at least born gamers like myself.  …But mostly for me specifically.  For a movie so full of hidden references as this one was, only the most dedicated of gamers will be able to get all of them, and I’m proud to say that I got them all.  And, coincidentally, I am also single.  They had the more obvious things like the Konami code in the game (Yes, I consider that to be something obvious; something everyone should know), but they also had smaller things you have to pay attention for, like graffiti saying “Aeris Lives” and a Leroy Jenkins reference.  But then they also had things that pained my nerdiness, like making Zangief a bad guy.  The only point where Zangief was a bad guy (to my recollection) was in the Street Fighter movie, and no one acknowledges that movie’s existence.  You just think he’s a bad guy because he’s Russian.  But it wasn’t all about the video game references for me.  I thought the story was very sweet, had a simple but good message, and actually made me laugh out loud multiple times.  Most of the things that made me laugh were (arguably) horrible puns, though some of them were genius.  One character claims she has “Pixlexia”, they get trapped in “Nesquicksand”, and they had a Wizard of Oz/Oreos joke that I thought was great, even though I kind of saw it coming.  But I can’t hold that against them.  I AM a comedy genius, after all.  Also, I always thought that what the guards were saying in Wizard of Oz anyway.  But, just as important to the lasting effects of this movie as the comedy, this movie was very sweet.  Mostly involving the fatherly relationship between Ralph and Vanellope.  Also, the ending was sweet as all hell.  I’ve noticed recently that some movies don’t end the way you want them to because they want to be unpredictable.  This movie’s ending was perhaps predictable, but it was exactly the ending I wanted.  I left with a warm feeling in my heart.

Not much to say about the atmosphere of the movie.  It’s fantastic.  It captures every look it goes for.  And it’s interesting to see how they changed the atmosphere and design for each of the individual games.  Keep an eye out for that.

The entire cast of this movie killed it.  And most of them were people I loved going in.  John C. Reilly did a great job, but I found myself mostly focusing on everyone else.  Sarah Silverman killed it.  She was relentlessly adorable, like a female, human Wall-E.  I also love Jack McBrayer, but he was overshadowed by Jane Lynch, who was pretty funny with a pretty hilarious, tragic backstory.  I thought it would’ve been much more progressive if her character was getting married to a lady instead, but perhaps Disney isn’t quite ready to take a stand on the gay marriage situation.  They’re no Chick-fil-a.  Also, he may not have a huge part in the move, but the Ace Man himself, Adam Carolla, is in this movie a little!  That is so exciting to me.  But he wasn’t complaining, and that’s how I like my Ace Man.  I’ll stick to his podcast to get my Carolla fix.

Wreck-It Ralph was a movie that I should not have put off for as long as I did.  I regret missing it while it was in theaters, but hopefully I can make it up to the movie by purchasing it on BluRay now.  The story is sweet and funny enough for children and adults alike, and it’s chock full of things meant to please the nerdiest of gamers (me).  All of the performances were great, but Sarah Silverman stole my heart in this movie.  I think everyone should not only see this movie, but just go buy it right away.  If you don’t like it, then you’re a bad person and I feel no remorse for causing you to spend money on things you don’t appreciate.  Wreck-It Ralph gets “You’re a winner!” out of “And you’re adorable!”

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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)


However History Remembers Me Before I Was a President, It Shall Only Remember a Fraction of the Truth…

Today’s movie had only ever gotten so far as to pique my interest.  It seemed like a novel concept, but the movie itself never really seemed like it’d be much more than that.  Still, I had my mind set on seeing the movie, and thought often of catching a show when I was at the theaters, but something better was always a higher priority.  Eventually, the movie had left the mainstream theaters and I figured I would have to just wait for it to be on DVD to check it out.  But recently I was realizing that I haven’t made it to a theater for a little while, so I decided to see what was playing.  Nothing at the mainstream theaters, but this movie had just arrived at the dollar cinema.  I’d always entertained the idea of seeing a movie at a dollar cinema, and decided this was as good a time as any.  And that’s how I came to watch Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, based on a novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, directed by Timur Bekmambetov, and starring Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell, Anthony Mackie, Marton Csokas, Jimmi Simpson, Erin Wasson, and Alan Tudyk.

Before we talk about the movie proper, I think we need to talk about the cinema-going experience.  I should have been able to predict while going to this theater that it would be of a slightly lower quality than a full price theater, but I didn’t quite expect it to be really small and not visible from the main road because it was stationed behind a Dunkin Donuts.  That I can deal with.  What I cannot deal with is the lower quality of people that would typically be found in this theater, namely the six tweens that were seated a row behind me.  What kind of piece of shit feels the need to talk all the way through a movie at full volume and often saying nothing more interesting than verbalizing what’s on the screen?  I’ve been known to talk in a movie, but I also typically try to only say funny things a la Mystery Science Theater, I always speak in whisper, and I generally assume that the people around me can see what’s on the screen.  People don’t need the narration, “OH!  He’s all old now!”  We understand how prosthetics work.  Would it really have been that bad of a thing for me to go over to the tweens and threaten to beat them within an inch of their lives?  Or if I had actually done it?  Or if I then tried to fit their mangled bodies in the trash cans they bring in to clean the theater?  Perhaps I’ve said too much …  Anyways, back to the movie!

As a young man, Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) witnesses a plantation owner, and vampire, named Jack Barts (Marton Csokas) bite his mother, killing her.  Nine years later, Lincoln is still focused on getting his revenge on his mother’s murderer, but he underestimates the vampire and gets his ass kicked, until being saved by Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper).  He convinces Sturgess to train him to be a vampire hunter before being sent to Springfield, Illinois, where Sturgess will send him to kill vampires around the town.  He takes a job with Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson) and falls in love with Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), both of which go against Sturgess’ orders to not get close to anyone that can be used against him by the vampires.  He also gets reunited with his black childhood friend, William Johnson (Anthony Mackie) who tells Lincoln of a vampire named Adam (Rufus Sewell) who owns a plantation in New Orleans with his sister, Vadoma (Erin Wasson), and frequently use slaves as food, since they don’t count as people and no one will care.  Lincoln then sets his aims on becoming the President of the United States so that he can abolish slavery and stop the vampires at their food source.

This movie didn’t work for me.  I’m not entirely sure if the movie was entirely to blame or the horrible cinema conditions, but I can’t say I was too fond of it.  I give the movie credit for being creative, but it lacks surprise and isn’t very deep.  I don’t think the creativity of the movie begs much for explanation; deciding to write a whole story about one of our presidents as a killer of vampires is not an easy thing to jump to.  It seems like something that someone said as a joke while completely high and later decided to turn into a movie.  But you still have to make the movie interesting, and I didn’t find that much of it all that compelling.  I allow for the possibility that the narrating retards sitting an aisle back may have been a constant and annoying distraction, and my brain spent a bulk of the time thinking about how satisfying it would be to punch them in their faces, but the lack of surprises in the movie is obvious.  That’s probably mainly due to the fact that you pretty much already know exactly how this story will go, so long as you stayed awake through American History class in high school.  Just take the story of Abraham Lincoln’s life and add vampires as his motivations.  That’ll about cover the story.  I also found the dialogue unimpressive in most parts of the story, which was particularly noticeable coming out of the mouth of the guy that gave one of the most memorable speeches in history.  Another thing that occurred to me in this movie is one of the staples of vampire lore, but why is the oldest vampire always the most powerful?  I understand them having experienced the most stuff and thusly possibly being the most intelligent, but shouldn’t age either have detrimental effects on them like it does on us, or at least have no effect on them because they don’t age?  They all come from the same blood, after all.

I had some issues with the look and the action of the movie too, but some of it made me question whether or not it was also tied to the shitty cinema.  Were some of the graphics in the movie sub-par, or were they being projected poorly?  In most instances, I blame the movie.  I first started noticing it in the scene where Lincoln was fighting a vampire in a stampede of horses.  I got the distinct feeling that they chose this location and cause the horses to kick up so much dust to hide the fact that the horses were kind of goofy looking and unconvincing.  It didn’t really work.  They did a similar thing later when they were fighting on top of a train and the smoke plume was obscuring the vision in the scene.  But I can forgive subpar graphics.  What actually hurts the movie is that the action just isn’t that interesting.  I don’t think I ever really had a drive to see Abraham Lincoln fight vampires with an axe, and I certainly would care less if he couldn’t even hold onto that axe very long.  Some of the action scenes were interesting enough, but it didn’t really impress.  I thought the gun that Lincoln had in the bottom of his axe was an interesting idea, and I didn’t really see it coming, but I never got a lot more than that.

The performances in the movie were fine, but I literally have next to nothing to say about them.  I was excited to see both Alan Tudyk and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in this movie.  …That’s literally everything I have.

Basically, I would say that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter started with a cool and creative idea, but never evolved past the idea.  The story was an interesting idea, but filled with dialogue that lacked a quality anywhere near the likes of the person they based their movie on.  The graphics were not fantastic and it often seemed like they were trying to obscure it with particulates, but the action was decent enough, though not impressive.  And the performances were okay.  Add that all up and I’d say you’d be okay skipping this movie.  It was probably worth the dollar I paid to see it, but not worth the annoyance of the people in the theater.  It was enough to make me want to shoot them and jump up on stage yelling, “Sic semper tyrannis!”  Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter gets “History prefers legends to men” out of “There is darkness EVERYWHERE!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Serenity (2005)


At Last, We Can Retire and Give Up This Life of Crime

Because Sam requested it, I busted my BluRay of today’s movie out.  I’m always more than happy to do it because I really liked this movie, and because Alan Tudyk being in it gives me another reason to plug Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.  Because I don’t watch very much television, I had no idea about this movie or the show it was based on until a friend of mine named Liz beat me over the head with how awesome it was.  I’m not sure if I saw the TV show or the movie first, but once I had seen one, I went out to buy the other.  So now I bring to you my review of Serenity, from the TV show Firefly, written and directed by Joss Whedon, and starring Nathan Fillion, Summer Glau, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Maher, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite, Morena Baccarin, Ron Glass, and David Krumholtz.

A young girl with psychic abilities named River Tam (Summer Glau) is trapped in a facility, being physically and mentally conditioned by Alliance scientists to be a war machine until she is rescued by her brother, Simon (Sean Maher).  An assassin with no name (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is sent to find her.  Simon and River have joined the crew of a Firefly-class transport vessel called Serenity with Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), his second-in-command Zoe Washburne (Gina Torres), her husband, pilot Hoban “Wash” Washburne (Alan Tudyk), mercenary Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin), and mechanic Kaywinnit “Kaylee” Frye (Jewel Staite).  After a bank robbery goes sour, Simon decides that Mal’s ship is too dangerous for River to stay on.  When they go to leave at the next port, River watches a very Japanese-looking commercial and starts beating the living shit out of everyone in the bar, until Simon shows up and uses a “safe word” to make her fall asleep.  I have the exact same reaction when watching those commercials.  They contact a reclusive hacker called Mr. Universe (David Krumholtz) who tells the crew that there was a hidden message in the broadcast, designed to make River go nuts and (apparently) say “Miranda”.  The crew of the Serenity must unravel the mystery of River and Miranda, while avoiding detection from the Alliance and the Operative.

I really like this movie.  Knowing that I was a big fan of the movie, I went in looking for things to make fun of, but kind of came up empty handed.  The closest thing to a complaint I had about this movie was that the Serenity (though well animated) looked a little goofy in it’s design for my taste.  Looked like a bird of some sort.  After that, pretty much everything about this movie works for me.  The story of the movie starts off interesting, but doesn’t really hit it’s stride until the real story is revealed towards the end.  At first it’s just about the Tams escaping from the Alliance and having some issues with the leadership on the vessel.  It slowly turns into a bit of a mystery about why River has such an adverse reaction to Japanese commercials.  Near the end, there’s a much bigger problem with a better message and a bigger cause.  I was already on board, but it got even better at that point.  I think what really sells the movie in the early part is how good the dialogue is and how great the characters are.  It’s easy to assume that they got a really good handle on who these characters were throughout the TV show and knew that, for the most part, the people that were already familiar with the characters from the show would be watching the movie, so they didn’t really waste a lot of time spelling out who the characters were for the movie.  It just put them in the situations and let us figure it out ourselves, without thinking the audience was too dumb to catch on without backstory.  And the dialogue is pretty crisp and smart throughout, while more often than not ranging from funny to downright hilarious.  They put in action evenly throughout the movie so that people with attention problems would be brought back in with regularity.  A couple of chases, a couple of brawls, a couple of spaceship battles, just so no one will get bored.  And the fights were pretty well choreographed as well.  River fighting was pretty elegant and always seemed to be a step ahead in the fight, as a good psychic should be.  Mal, on the other hand, did not make fighting looked pretty, but usually found a satisfying way to win.  The Reaver/Alliance spaceship battle was pretty epic and spectacular as well.  I don’t normally notice the music, but I really liked the music here.  Much as the settings and the language in the movie, the music was a mash up of Oriental and Western sounding music, performed by something that at least sounded like an orchestra, and really set the mood well.

The characters and the performances was what really sells this movie to me.  They’re all fantastic with no complaints beyond the fact that I can’t see more of them.  Nathan Fillion played Mal in equal parts charming and damaged.  He was mostly funny, goofy, and entertaining, but if you got on his wrong side, he was easily able to intimidate.  He also tried very hard to hide his morality, but when a cause big enough fell into his lap, he was quick to take it seriously.  Summer Glau was also very entertaining as River Tam.  She was generally cute, quirky, and funny, but also had a pretty big secret that you could see sitting just behind the facade.  I understand the reason for this, but she did not sell me on her first fight in the movie.  It was very elegant and smooth, but her mannerisms seemed more like a dancer that was more concerned about accidentally hitting someone.  From what I gather from her Wikipedia page, that’s because she was a dancer that was probably pretty concerned about hitting someone.  But her second big fight (near the end of the movie) was unequivocally awesome.  Chiwetel Ejiofor was a great character as well.  He was calculating and cold as ice, but had the badasslerly to back it up.  I never really liked Sean Maher as Simon Tam, but only because he seemed indifferent to the advances of the love of my life, Jewel Staite.  I fell in love with Jewel Staite way back in the day when I used to watch her as Catalina on Space Cases (a show I’m sure I’m the only one that remembers).  I remember being fascinated with her at the time and then, when I first saw Serenity, I instantly recognized her and remembered her name, even though I remember literally nothing else about my life.  And it was a good thing I found her in this movie too.  Even though I was a year younger than her while watching Space Cases, if I continued to be in love with her as Catalina when I was in my 20’s it would begin to get disturbing … about 10 years ago.  Now I can be in love with her as Kaylee, and who wouldn’t be.  She was adorable and hilarious, saying more than one thing you wouldn’t have expected to come out of her mouth to great comedic effect.  This movie made me a fan of everyone in the cast.  I love Alan Tudyk (go watch Tucker and Dale vs. Evil), and he was very funny in the parts he was in, but I felt like he could’ve been used a little more for my liking.  Movies are made specifically for my enjoyment, right?  Well he also had a part in the movie that I didn’t like because it bummed me out, but movies can’t all end with everything going right for our heroes.

I love this movie and that’s why this review probably isn’t all that interesting.  I cannot mock great movies!  What the hell am I supposed to say?  Oh, your dialogue is so funny, your characters are too good, to Hell with your beautiful actresses!  And why won’t Jewel Staite return my phone calls?!  If you want entertainment (and you aren’t finding it from my reviews of love to good movies), then maybe you should just go and get entertainment from the movie itself.  I guarantee it won’t be long until I’m relentlessly mocking another movie.  But I just can’t do it to Serenity.  And with that, Serenity gets “It’s love, in point of fact.  Something a good deal more dangerous” out of “Goin’ on a year now I ain’t had nothin’ twixt my nethers weren’t run on batteries!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Tucker & Dale vs Evil (2011)


They Chopped Off His Bowling Fingers!

The inspiration for today’s movie came from “fellow” movie reviewer Leonard Maltin on the Doug Loves Movies podcast.  He called today’s movies one of the best of 2011.  Now, I’ve never read one of Leonard Maltin’s reviews, but I’m gonna go ahead and assume that I’m a tougher critic than he is.  And I base that on absolutely nothing.  I kept meaning to get around to watching the movie.  I saw it on Netflix streaming and put it in my Instant Queue, but forgot to come back and watch it.  Then I apparently forgot that it was possible to instant stream the movie, because I saw it at a RedBox and decided to rent it for money I wasn’t already paying.  This movie had better be amazing if it wants to win me over after having cost me nearly two dollars at this point!  Today’s movie is Tucker & Dale vs Evil, written by Eli Craig and Morgan Jurgenson, directed by Eli Craig, and starring Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Chelan Simmons, Brandon Jay McLaren, Christie Laing, Travis Nelson, Alex Arsenault, Adam Beauchesne, Joseph Allan Sutherland, and Philip Granger.

A group of college students – Allison (Katrina Bowden), Chad (Jesse Moss), Chloe (Chelan Simmons), Chuck (Travis Nelson), Jason (Brandon Jay McLaren), Naomi (Christie Laing), Todd (Alex Arsenault), Mitch (Adam Beauchesne), and Mike (Joseph Allan Sutherland) – encounter two scary hillbillies named Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) on the way to their camping trip.  The college students are pretty quick to figure out that they’ve just walked in to their very own horror movie.  What they are very slow to assume is what actually turns out to be true: Tucker and Dale are just two nice guys going up to a cottage they purchased to fix it up and do some fishing.  That fact does not come into the picture for the college kids.  One night, while Tucker and Dale are fishing and the college students are skinny-dipping, Allison falls off of a rock and hits her head.  Tucker and Dale save her life, but when they yell to her friends, “We’ve got your friend,” the college students assume that Allison has been abducted by serial killing rednecks.  Misunderstandings get bigger and bigger, leading to actual deaths and the college students trying to lay siege upon two innocent dudes.

Prepare yourselves for a couple paragraphs of me gushing.  This is one of the best movies I’ve ever watched.  It’s extremely funny, and a pretty good horror movie as well.  If you’re looking for complaints, you won’t find them here.  I simply can’t.  Even just the basic idea of this movie is hilarious and ingenious.  I’ve never seen or heard of a movie that flips the cliched horror movies on their heads like this one does.  You think for a little while that you’re going to be relating to these college kids as the heroes of our movie, even though they’re not really that likeable.  Then we see Tucker and Dale, and we make the same judgements that we’ll come to dislike the college kids for by thinking Tucker and Dale look a little scary.  But once we actually meet them, you instantly like Tucker and Dale and the college students mostly become judgmental assholes.  The movie is then a lot of real laughs and extreme violence, mostly tied in with the misunderstandings that happen between the two groups.  The misunderstandings are farfetched, but hilarious.  One such misunderstanding happens when Tucker is using a chainsaw to cut up logs as the college students are approaching the house.  He accidentally saws into a beehive hidden in the log, causing him to run, screaming and wildly swinging the chainsaw over his head Leatherface-style, towards the college kids.  But this didn’t cause the college kids to die, while running away from him in the woods, the college kid runs chest first into a fallen tree, impaling himself.  Later, when other such deaths happen and Tucker and Dale actually see them, they start getting terrified that the kids are part of some suicide cult.  So you’ve got your comedy, you’ve got horror, but there’s also a bit of a nice love story here too.  Allison starts falling for the loveable Dale, but it made me really nervous throughout the entire movie that there was no way these two would end up together.  Whatever the ending was, it leaves you with a warm feeling and a nice message.  But it’s not really that romance or message-heavy, it’s mainly just a hilarious movie.

The performances are either fantastic or they’re just sort of background.  There are only about four people that are important parts of the story and the rest are just walking buckets of fake blood.  And one that has tits.  Well, a couple have tits (like Katrina Bowden, Christie Laing, and Tyler Labine), but only one actually exposes them.  Tyler Labine is essentially the hero of the movie.  He’s a sweet, teddy bear of a hillbilly who’s not that bright, but is really good at trivia.  He’s got a great heart, but low self-esteem.  That part sounds familiar.  But unlike myself, he gets the absolutely gorgeous Katrina Bowden!  Alright, Robert.  Calm down…  Anyways, through the course of the movie he gets to believe in himself more and even gets to be the hero at the end of the movie.  Also, he’s hilarious.  I’ve now seen Labine in three movies and, though Evil Alien Conquerors was not my cup of tea, I thought he was the funniest part in Zack and Miri Make a Porno and, though I can’t say he was the FUNNIEST part of this movie, he was hilarious in it.  The reason I can’t call him the funniest part of this movie is because Alan Tudyk also brought a lot of comedy.  I love Alan Tudyk as well.  He was great in Serenity, he was great in his small role in Knocked Up, and he was great as Steve the Pirate in Dodgeball.  And now he was great in this.  He also plays another likeable guy who’s just trying to get his friend to believe in himself.  The biggest excitement for me was seeing Katrina Bowden in this movie.  I know I’ve claimed to be in love with many actresses in the past, but I am also (and equally) in love with Katrina Bowden.  I don’t know how she’s not gotten more movie roles, but she’s capable of bringing the funny, the emotion, and always (ALWAYS!) brings the gundamned sexy!  Every time she shows up as Cerie in 30 Rock, she captures your attention.  I grant that she did have a bit of an easy job in this movie since her tendency to get accidentally knocked unconscious allowed her to spend most of the movie in bed.  But she was great in all of her conscious parts.  The only other part that was significant to me in the movie was Jesse Moss as Chad.  He made me hate him from the word “go”, but that’s what he was going for, so good for him.  He was basically the leading force behind the attack on these two guys we came to like, and Chad himself never seemed like anything more than a douche in a polo.  You get a bit of understanding for his motivations later, but you still think he’s an asshole.  The other college kids did a fine job, but were not doing much but getting killed.  Except for Chelan Simmons.  She gets them boobs out.

I will endeavor, in the future, to make my reviews of excellent movies better.  I can’t really mock something that is really good.  Tucker and Dale vs Evil is probably one of my favorite movies that came out in 2011 because it’s a great idea supported by lots of funny, a great look, and some fantastic performances.  I’m comfortable suggesting that you just go out and purchase this movie right now, but in the very least you should stream it from Netflix or find it at a RedBox.  After I gave a dollar to my local RedBox for it, I purchased it the very next day on BluRay.  Tucker and Dale vs Evil gets “We’ve had a doozy of a day, Officer” out of “I should have known a guy like me talking to a girl like you would end at someone being dead.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.