Friday, June 27, 2014


It's Transformers 4 so we all know what's coming.  There will be lots of explosions, car chases, ever escalating numbers of guns, and a girl who has been sprayed orange for some reason.

Seriously, she's covered in weird colors.
This movie is made for the men who grew up playing with Transformer toys.  Their advanced age requires a story which is about protecting your daughter and justifying your bad parenting decisions.  So that's weird to watch but an understandable market decision.  It also gives Marky Mark lots of cool stuff to do.
For example, he stands around an abandoned gas station after threatening bodily violence on his daughter's boyfriend.
Good times.
One thing in the movie that was more exciting than the 16 lens flares (I actually counted) or the prolific number of trains sitting around everywhere, or the requisite shaky cam, or the explanation for why dinosaurs disappeared (alien attack), was Stanly Tucci.

He had the same dumb lines everyone else did but his turn as a bratty controlling brilliant billionare inventor was pretty fun.

Now I'm going to skip over the surprising number of times Texas was mentioned (9) or ALL the shots that had American flags in them.

Michael Bay being subtle.
and go right to the one thing in this movie that was too dumb to ignore.  Yes, we all know that it's a movie about giant robots and a massive suspension of disbelief is required.  But, and stay with me on this, if YOU were going to build complicated robot car soldiers for national defense, and you plan on defending America with these things... would you build those in China?

"Do I need to tell you why this is a bad idea?"
For some reason that was the one thing that got to me.  Yes, it's cheaper to make clothing and shoes and just about everything else in China.  But, when building super soldiers to fight wars with, perhaps domestic is the way you would want to go on that one...  Just sayin....

Anyway, I feel like you are now prepared for the worst of Transformers 4.   Go forth and enjoy the loud noises and dinosaurs and spectacle.  Also, remember to be thankful that you can't turn your entire face into a gun.
Seriously, that's got to hurt your neck.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Godzilla vs Wolverine

In a summer full of franchise films, GODZILLA and X-MEN:DAYS OF FUTURE PAST are two of them.  We, like the Greeks and most two-year-olds, love to hear the same stories told about the same heroes.  (Well, except for Spider Man.  Aint nobody got time for that.)

GODZILLA and X-MEN:DFP are familiar characters in familiar situations but they reflect different values.   Allow me to take a moment to compare them.


GODZILLA feels a lot like the original GOJIRA which was made in 1956.  There is nuculear power, a kid in a blue hat, scientists who just wonder about stuff without really doing anything, military guys who have to make hard decisions based on crap evidence, and a giant fat green monster with stone mountains stuck on it's back.  Which is to say, it's knowingly traditional and totally okay with that.

X-MEN:DFP blows up the entire franchise.   The past 14 years of movies don't count anymore, except for X-MEN:FIRST CLASS.   This is sad for anyone who really liked the past movies but I totally understand it. I don't know where you can go with a universe after having made THE WOLVERINE (Goes to Japan.)   I wanted to blow up all the X-Men films after that movie.

Leading Man

GODZILLA's narrative follows around Ford Brody, a veteran of Afghanistan who specializes in defusing bombs, as he does everything he can to take care of his family - his father, his wife, his child. Ford spends a lot of time toting a gun but never fires it.   He somehow ends up being present for every single catastrophic event that happens in the movie but never stops trying to get home.
X-MEN:DFP features Wolverine who wakes up in a minor's bed, beats up some guys, and steals a car in the first five minutes of his arrival in the 70's.  Not exactly a good guy. Hugh Jackman is now starting to look as old and grumpy as Wolverine should have looked for the past 14 years.  So that's fun.

The Sage

Every movie needs an old wise dude who doesn't actually do much.   GODZILLA has Ken Watanabe.  He's a scientist who has a vague idea of what is going on, recognizes good information when he sees it, and talks about his feelings a lot.  Unfortunately Navy Admirals need more than vibes when making decisions that involve nuculear power.  Dr. Serizawa ends up just being a witness of events as they happen around him.

Professor Xavier spends most of his time in X-MEN:DFP in his hover chair using a lot of feeling-words and mystical healing phrases.   He is all-knowing and never gives actual information. He does a neat trick of talking till his younger self, in the past, somehow figures out how to let go of anger.  Or pain?  Something?  I got confused halfway through the time-traveling therapy session.

Big Bad Things
(There aren't two conjoined images since I found cool gifs!)
This is a Muto (male)

And this is a Sentinel.
The Muto are an ancient race of giant gross things which eat radiation.  They trash everything in their effort to make babies.

Sentinels are designed to hunt deviants.  They are man-made, scary, and so unstopable the X-Men have to travel to the past to keep them from being born.

The Girl

No, they aren't actually played by the same woman.   GODZILLA features the character Elle Brody, who is an ER nurse and wife of that Ford guy.   She is supportive, cheerful, loves her kid, and makes iffish decisions about where to seek shelter during a major emergency because her husband asked her to.

Mystique in X-MEN:DFP is an angry assassin who killed a man with her foot and wants to shoot a little person in the head.   She's also naked a lot and painted blue.  You think the whole movie comes down to a decision she makes but really it's a decision Xavier makes, which kind of sucks.

In Conclusion

GODZILLA           8
X-MEN:DFP          6

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


 THE SIGNAL is a movie which feels a lot like scrolling through some unknown person's Instagram account.   There are beautiful images with complex backstories and you don't know any of them.   Don't believe me?  Look at these:

There.  Now whatever narrative you made up in your head to explain that sequence of images, is exactly what THE SIGNAL is about.  

Which, really, is to say I have no concrete idea what it was about but it WOW was pretty.  It reminded me of SOLARIS, (both of them.)  

Friday, June 20, 2014


Sometimes I battle Pokemon with my friend Damon.   Damon has played Pokemon since he was a kid and now plays in tournaments for actual money.  Since I started playing Pokemon last October, our battles are very uneven.   Damon beats my teams in about the same amount of time a chess Grand Master would checkmate a 4th grader.

Because we are so mis-matched, it is easier for me to see what my preferred style of battle is.   My favorite Pokemon is this one:

Blaziken is fast, mean, and can take a punch.  I don't have all 719 Pokemon memorized, I haven't conquered the strategy of switches, and I don't understand the difference between a Sweeper and a Special Sweeper.  However, I do know that a tough, hard-hitting Pokemon can sometimes obliterate a team by sheer stubborn sacrificial force.

I liked EDGE OF TOMORROW because it is about humanity facing an overwhelmingly powerful enemy.

These things, which kind of look like Pokemon in a mostly terrifying way.
The thread which I think runs through the whole film is this:  it's better to face the enemy, to stand and fight, than it is to sneak or turn away.  The aliens are far superior to humans in this movie.   They are the chess Grand Master in the game of war.  However, they aren't the only enemy.  Tom Cruise (who's part could have been played just as well with literally any other male actor in the world) confronts a military general (who is super sneaky), and even his own desire to sneak/avoid/run.

EDGE OF TOMORROW is surprisingly good.  It is well written, beautifuly shot, tightly edited, well acted, and the effects are seamless.   I didn't like the ending much.  But I loved seeing Emily Blunt chop tentacle monsters with a sword made from a propeller blade, and watching her never ever back down.