Saturday, December 21, 2013

DHOOM 3 - (Greatest Movie EVER!)

So, I forgot my phone at home today.  This is pretty much like loosing your left hand - upsetting but survivable.   Then I found out that there is a place called Roos-N-More which is only two hours away where you can hang out with otters!

Then I found out that they are open tomorrow....aaaaand I can't go because I promised to play the piano tomorrow at 9am.

When I got home after work and got my 22 text messages and 5 missed phone calls, I learned that the party I had hoped to go to was cancelled.  What was worse was my friend Christopher had 2 tickets to the Nutcracker waiting in Will Call for me and I MISSED IT!

I felt like this.
(I know, I use a lot of gifs these days.)

Anyway, the only possible solution was to go see DHOOM 3, the third in a series of films I did not see the first two of.  I knew I was in the right place when the preview before the movie was this epic:

No, seriously, you should watch this thing.  All of it

Then, I knew I was in for an extraordinary film when the opening credits of DHOOM 3 looked like this:


I'm pretty sure you, the reader, won't go see this movie (even though you totally should!) so I am going to tell you about it.   First of all, there's this cop who can punch through brick walls.  He has a sidekick with terrible fashion sense and a fetish for motorcycles.  Mr. Cop is hateful to his friend and to everyone else he comes in contact with.

This is what "good" police work looks like.
Just let me repeat that they both like motorcycles a LOT and spend most of the movie riding them.  Mr Cop is the literal worst.  He thinks it's cool to push his sunglasses up by shoving the bridge of them with a finger and you are treated to slow-mo views of this.  And, most unforgiveably, he has ugly hair.  It hurt my eyes.

Here he is in the most blatantly green-screened shot in the whole film.  I actually giggled.

Then, there's Mr. Thief in Chicago who has astonishingly fabulous fashion sense and sticky-out ears.
"Hello.  ALL of my clothing is amazing and perfectly tailored."
 We love him because he is Circ and I live in Vegas.   Circ = Good.
I mean, how could it not be?

And of course there's a girl because without her, no one would sing the theme song:

It's not a bad song.

And then a lot of stuff happens which you should totally watch.

DHOOM 3's three hours and one fifteen-minute intermission was enough to convince me that this is my new favorite movie.  Here is a song I dedicate to this film:

Sunday, December 15, 2013


This movie is exactly what you expect it to be - serious, beautifully done, and long.  So, really, no surprises from the Weta Workshop except for most of the plot.  However, when you make 9 hours of movie from a small book, apocrypha is not just necessary, it's essential.

Anyway, there's no reason to get into it all because I am mentally moving Peter Jackson movies into the same category of Vin Diesel movies.  Either you are a person who sees them, or you are not.  Therefore, this movie gets the same treatment as any other FAST AND FURIOUS franchise film.   You don't need a review, you need a list.


1. White-Water Rafting, Dwarf Style: When the dwarves are tumbling along a river in wooden barrels, it is kind of funny.  When the orcs show up it gets serious.  When the elves show up it gets crazy.   When watching this level of over-the-top chaos I half expected The Rock to show up and say something ridiculous while throwing a chair.

"Wait, what?  I thought Dwayne was coming!  Why am I in this barrel then?"

2. Beards: You never have to listen to dwarves who have long beards.  All the dwarves who actually matter (and who try to hook up with elves) keep their beards trimmed.
"We don't like to talk about it but Peter Jackson is actually a beardist.  All dwarves know that long beards are best.  However I manage to look like Ringo Star so I guess that's okay..."

3. Impeccable Design: WOW do elves have style!
"Darling, you doubted?  I breathe glamour."

4. Maturation: Speaking of elves, Orlando Bloom is now a grown-up adult human male.  You can see it in his face:

His jaw filled out and his skin tone darkened, like normal adult males do.  However, he is a HUMAN and not an actual elf, which poses a bit of a problem for the filmmakers. He no longer has the adolescent (elfish) look he did in the LOTR trilogy and unfortunately no amount of desperate photoshop can cover it.
"Hi!  I was twelve in this photo of the first trilogy!  Also, my eyes apparently grew less blue as I aged."

5. Age: Speaking of faces, Gandalf looks HAD!
"I blame the bunnies."

6. Stephen Fry: And in other parts of the movie, Stephen Fry shows up.  Stephen Fry!!!

"Hello, yes, I am Stephen Fry and I am disgusting and charming simultaneously. Also, Peter, you don't actually have to be with me ALL the time.  In fact, I would appreciate it if you relinquished watching me sleep as a research tool."

7.  Dragon: Quick, put on your surprised face.

"Hi there."

8.  Nasty Hobbitses: Also, there's this guy Bilbo who shows up some times.

"Wait?  Am I in this movie?"
He slaps around in his giant feet and does cute Martin Freeman stuff.

"Peter Jackson should have told me that walking around on piles of gold coins is difficult to do without tripping.  I mean, we ARE filming this on his Uncle Scrooge McDuck-style basement hoard of gold."

9.  Females: There is one girl- 

"Hello. Unlike Orlando, I actually DO look like an elf, and I totally dig short hairy guys who throw rocks."
and she is good at fighting/killing orcs.

".. and RAARGRLHSSSSS shall be my battle cry!"

10.  And finally, yes there are Spiders.


Saturday, December 07, 2013


CATCHING FIRE kind of upset me.  It might be I am growing querulous and sensitive in my old age and will soon be complaining of drafts and wearing shawls, but I think there's also a good chance CATCHING FIRE is just a hard movie to watch.  When I see images of people fighting in the streets against armored police I can't help but think of Kiev and Turkey and Libya and Egypt and all the unrest and violence in the world.  Freedom from oppression is a noble cause but it is terribly, dreadfully expensive.

So, instead of pretending I have anything productive to say about that, I think I will just bring up a little moment which I found curious.  When Katniss is in the staging area at the very start of the Game, there is one person to be there with her before she goes out to fight and, quite possibly, die.  The sole human selected for that moment, the last loving face she will see before facing an environment and 23 people who will hunt and kill her, is this man:

No, not Lenny Kravitz, though he is cool.  That character is Cinna, her stylist, and he is presented in this moment as the one sole support when facing change, chaos, sorrow, and certain death.   Her stylist.  Criminals sentenced to death get a clergyman in our world but at The Capitol, a stylist is the person authorized to take confession, extend solace, and give absolution.  What does this mean?  Is the reconciliation between one's internal and outward presentation that metaphysical?  Is it the only comfort in a world covered in glitter to hide the blood?  Is it because the silent language of clothing, of visual presentation one of the few voices available to a person with no power, no voice to raise safely?  Is it because The Capitol trusts stylists to see the best parts of a soul hidden deep and present it to the world safely packaged?   Or is a stylist simply the one who makes your disgusting horrible self as socially acceptable as can possibly be managed?

You've got to work with what you've got

I like thinking about these questions but what I keep running into is the fact that Cinna is Peeta's stylist, too.  Cinna was with Katniss, not Peeta.  Which makes me think that her stylist is her Father Confessor because she is a woman.   A lot of the political statements Katniss actually makes are in the form of her clothing.  When she shows disdain and challenges the President, her clothing is  the statement.

Open rebellion has never looked hotter (and I'm not talking about Katniss...)

When the President insists that she wear her abandoned wedding gown the tables are turned, again, into a challenge in the form of a mocking jay.

That's an official Capitol gif there, folks!

This looks really cool.  What bothers me is that Katniss had no idea what her clothes would do.  She didn't design them, she didn't produce them, and she literally had no idea she was about to become a political symbol when she spun around on that stage.   Cinna did all the deciding and designing.  He paid for it with his life, but it was his choices that boxed her in.   In fact, the whole movie is really just watching Katniss fight to get out of the corners she's shoved into.  The President boxes her in with threats to her family and community.  Haymitch boxes her into trusting people with promises of protecting Peeta.  Gayle boxes her into sticking around by choosing ideals over relationships.  The Games box her into becoming a killer just to survive.  In fact, the only people in the movie who release Katniss from binary decision-making paradigms is her family.

When her sister tells her that Katniss is free to do what she feels is right and to not worry about the consequences to her family because they would have made the same choice, it is the one moment of freedom in the whole show, the one release from fear.   In real life every situation usually has multiple options but everyone around Katniss tries to keep her limited to only one - to do or not to do.  When Prim says, (essentially) "We got you, boo", Katniss is offered the chance to do what she feels is right without fear of condemnation from those who love her.  This is super important because thinking outside of limited parameters is how she won the Games in the first place.

I am tempted to also put Peeta into the category of "Persons Who Don't Manipulate Katniss To Their Own Benefit" but I might be influence by the fact that he's adorable and I love him.

I like him even when he's wearing a ribbed mock-turtleneck that features sharp pointy metal things
For the most part, Peeta does a great job of not being horrible.  However, he does indulge in a spectacular fit of passive agressive manipulation with that pendant of his.  Because of course he requested a medalion made with photos of the people Katniss loves best so he can remind her that she is beholden to those people and he gets to be the one to die.  It might have worked, too, had Prim not already addressed the issue.  So, really, Peeta is just bad at manipulating Katniss and fails the one time he tries.

Here he is being terrible at manipulation again.
I'm going to go ahead and call that a win.

Saturday, November 09, 2013


Yeah, this is about how I felt after seeing the movie.   The book, for me, was mostly interesting because what Ender was doing contrasted sharply with what Peter and Valentine were doing on Earth.  Without two storylines to bounce around there is only Ender and a watered-down view of what Battle School looked like.   And, yes, it's watered down.  They try to show it but this is Hollywood.  They couldn't (or wouldn't) get the kids to act like the terrifying little monsters they had been trained to become.   Not that the actors themselves couldn't.  I know for a fact that Haille Steinfeld,
This girl.  The one girl.  Who's job was to be "The Girl" and push a button.

was amazing in TRUE GRIT and could have been amazing in ENDER'S GAME, too, had the script allowed for it. Ender's Game was written pre-Hunger Games and during the tail end of the Cold War.  Orson Scott Card was part of the disenchanted rising generation and the whole point of the book to to examine the senseless waste of the military industrial complex and to prove that one doesn't have to be a certain age to excell and to know when things are wrong.  By focusing exclusively on Ender but without actually showing the true harshness and isolation he experienced his whole life, most of the film ended up silently supporting the status quo.   Sure, there was some heavy-handed moralizing at the end but it couldn't make up for the 90 minutes of glorious tedious war we just saw beautifully rendered.

Anyway, everyone gave it their best but the movie ended up feeling a lot like the first Harry Potter movie -- playing out more like a highlight reel than an actual story.

Sunday, September 01, 2013


Obviously I enjoyed this film, but I knew I would before I went.  SHAUN OF THE DEAD is the only zombie movie I have ever seen on purpose. (It still gave me nightmares but at least they were funny nightmares.)  HOT FUZZ is quite possibly the greatest movie ever made about excessive police action in small English villages.  So, when THE WORLD'S END opened, I went right out and saw it.   I quite liked it, too.  But I am reluctant to write a review because there are piles of jokes I don't understand. I don't frequent British pubs and have never seen any sort of body-snatcher/pod-people movies which seems to be a lot of what this movie was built on.

But my sister Caroline keeps bugging me to review it so here's what I managed to take away from the film:

Pegg plays a guy named King who, in high school, had an entourage.

The names of these characters, from left to right, are Chamberlain, Prince, King, Knightly, and Page.   They were the royal court of the school, the town, and all of life was in front of them.

Twenty years later, King wants to get everyone together again to do an epic pub crawl that they had failed at once before.

As you can see, everyone has moved on with life - except for King, who is an absolute mess.

This basically sums up his character.
As the movie goes on there is a map,


a lot of time spent in bathrooms,

general confusion,

the discovery of a terrifying blue substance,

something called a "marmalade sandwich"


and Nick Frost getting to play against type and kick sixteen kinds of booty in a LOT of bar fights.

"I've got my pink shirt and five shots of tequila - LET THE BEATINGS COMMENCE!!"
And if that's not awesome enough for you, there is (as one can expect from these lads) a lot of stuff about growing up and friendship and taking risks, free will and accepting the imperfections in yourself and others.

So, basically, it's less scary than SHAUN OF THE DEAD, has fewer potty-mouthed priests than HOT FUZZ, and manages to bring a lot of humanity (and a twist!) to the pod-people genre.  

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Awesome things about PACIFIC RIM:

1. Giant Godzilla-monsters

2. Giant robots

3. Giant robots fighting giant monsters

4. Ron Perlman

5. Rampant destruction.

6. Watching giant robots fight giant monsters.

7. Leaving the theater after watching a big loud movie about giant robots fighting giant monsters and seeing the dark cloudy sky filled with the silent flashes of 527 lightning hits in Las Vegas (so far!) tonight.  It was almost more amazing than a big loud movie about giant robots fighting Godzilla monsters!
Well, okay, maybe it was cooler...

Questions I had after watching PACIFIC RIM:

1. Why is simply punching a giant monster considered an effective form of combat when the monsters have tough thick hides, bony potrubances to protect their brains, and highly-graspable blue glowing dangly-bits popping out of their bodies randomly?  Could we come up with a strategy that isn't "Punch It In The Face Till It Stops"?
"Anyone?  Anyone? I'm looking directly into the camera at you..."
2. Why does Raleigh spend the whole movie yelling condescending commands at his co-pilot, Mako, when they are MIND-MELDED TOGETHER??
"OBVIOUSLY I know what you are thinking. I have been in a "neural handshake" with you for three hours.
 The answer is still no."

3. Is it a rule that all Russians be blond and technologically backward?

4. How do giant robots designed to fight aquatic monsters keep running out of air for the two humans inside?
"Help!  I'm dying from lack of oxygen, which is a problem the dudes at NASA managed to solve in the 60's!"

5. If someone is arrogant or disrespectful, is there any way for that character to redeem himself which doesn't involve dying?

"Well, for me right now.... No. No there isn't.  Also, I look like a Ninja Turtle."

6.  If Japan (finally!) built a giant robot, do you think they would name it Coyote Tango?
Seems legit..
and finally

7. Why did the giant robot go into combat with the giant monster and ONLY use a sword when there was NO other option?

"When you make me VERBALLY REMIND you that we have a SWORD is when I really start to question mind-melding as a
combat tool...."

But, giant robots fighting giant monsters. So... who cares?  :)

"The apocalypse has been canceled.  I'm afraid we had a bit of a mix up on the calendar so it will be re-scheduled at a later date.  Thank you so much for your attention."