Archive for July, 2008

Film: The Joker, Dr. Horrible, McG, and other villains

July 19, 2008

I almost feel silly putting the “Film” tag on these posts.  As though anything else gets posted here during the summer.

The itinerary for this entry:

-The best musical ever released on the web, courtesy of Joss Whedon

-“Dark Knight” mop-up

-“Watchmen” and “Terminator: Salvation” trailer reports

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I am leading off with this, because it is only pertinent TODAY.  All three acts of Joss Whedon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Firefly,” “Serenity”) and company’s “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog” have been posted online.

“Dr. Horrible” is a three-act musical, chronicling the struggles of Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris, “How I Met Your Mother”), a supervillain with “A Ph.D in Horribleness,” who hopes to be invited to join the Evil League of Evil and take over the world.  He also wants to win over the girl of his dreams, Penny (Felicia Day, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”).  Standing in his way on both fronts is Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion, “Firefly”), a musclebound superhero who cares only about himself and punching things.

All three 15-minute parts have been released online, and are available for free until MIDNIGHT tonight.  After that, it will be downloadable for a fee, leading up to an eventual DVD release.

I love this thing.  I don’t know if it should be called a show, or a short film, or what, but the dialogue is characteristically fantastic for a Whedon production, the acting is top-notch, and the songs are hilarious, catchy, and wonderful.

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And now, Batman.

“The Dark Knight” came out this weekend, and I hope you all see it.  My review is not up yet, but the abridged version is that I have not been this floored by a theatergoing experience since “No Country for Old Men.”  For those of you keeping score, that won the Oscar for Best Film last year.

Now, there are still five months of movies left this year, so I would not dare to start yelling “OSCAR!”  However, come the Academy Awards next year, this film, director, writers, and Heath Ledger will very likely be on the Academy’s minds.

If you don’t want to take my word for it, “Dark Knight” is currently number 3 on IMDB’s top 250 films of all time, an aggregated 82/100 critic score on  Metacritic (and a user score of 9.5/10), and an aggregated 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.  As far as the Big Three Internet Rankings go, this is pretty par for the course, with IMDB being unrealistically positive, Metacritic being nominally pessimistic, and Rotten Tomatoes falling between the two.

“Dark Knight” has already broken records, showing in more theaters than any other movie ever Also, it is being reported that is has beaten out “Star Wars Episode III” for the best midnight box-office opening ever.

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Viewers of “The Dark Knight” may have noticed that there were actually TRAILERS for other movies before the movie played!

Breaking news for fanboys: There will be other movies released after “The Dark Knight.”

The one that was the most exciting, at least for me and anybody else who has ever read the comic, was the trailer for “Watchmen.” This is a fantastic trailer, that does not tell you anything about the story, but manages to set up the mood almost perfectly, and shows viewers what they can expect.

Anybody who has read the book was probably either jumping up and down in joy or scoffing with their arms crossed during the trailer.  Everything that is shown (except for that bit with Silk Spectre jumping down in front of a fire) was basically taken directly from panels in the comic.  This is a very deliberate adaptation, and personally, I think the cinematography and color design are perfect for a movie based on this book.  I can’t wait.

Not so successful was the trailer for “Terminator: Salvation.” Despite having an A+ leading man, with Christian Bale playing John Connor fighting robots in the future, director McG has not given audiences any reason to care about this movie.  This trailer inspired groans with the audiences I saw it with, rather than excitement.  The studio has a long way to go if they don’t want this thing to bomb.

If you ask me, and why wouldn’t you, “Salvation” is just a turd waiting to hit the water.

Brad Canze, the CM Life Movie Dude

Film: Hancock, Wanted, and the Granddaddy of Science Fiction

July 4, 2008

So first off, my review of “Hancock” got posted this week, for your consumption and consideration. As people have pointed out to me, the movie’s characters are pretty steeped in mythology. While that may add some level of depth or interest for some people, this movie is still lousy, despite the fact that somebody on the film crew took a 100-level religion class.

You could argue that Robocop was a Christ-like figure, but that doesn’t mean “Robocop 3” won’t make you puke when you watch it.

If you want a GOOD story about immortals worshiped as gods throughout time by different cultures, and now viewed as superheroes, read the Eternals. Jack Kirby told the basic story of “Hancock” better as a comic book 30 years ago. For you literature nerds, Neil Gaiman did a particularly good revamp of the story last year, from which even more plot points in “Hancock” are echoed.

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For even more comic-book nerdiness, stay tuned after the regularly scheduled program, where I will be reviewing last week’s sleeper hit “Wanted.” The review never got posted to CM-Life.com, so I will post a jump to it at the end of this entry.
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In exciting film news, an original print of Fritz Lang’s 1927 classic “Metropolis” was found in a museum in Argentina.

The original film was 210 minutes long, and only showed in Lang’s native Germany for a short period of time, before being drastically cut for wider release.

There have been several “restorations” of the film, where lost footage was edited back in, and the film was remastered. Most notoriously, “Scarface” composer Giorgio Moroder released a restored version in 1984, which was the most complete visual version of the film, although the orchestral score was replaced with a synth-pop soundtrack written by Moroder and performed by those such as Queen and Adam Ant. It’s rather bizarre.

Before this week, the longest-known print of “Metropolis” in existence was 118 minutes. Adding such a huge amount of footage will likely make the film bloated and boring, but from a critical and historical viewpoint, could alter the plot, characters, or even entire themes in the film. Film historians collectively pooped when they heard the news.

None of this would matter a lick if “Metropolis” were not a hugely influential film. Basically any science fiction movie after it can be traced back to it, at least visually if not thematically. “Metropolis” is the archetypal film vision of the future. Everything from “Star Wars” and “Blade Runner,” to “The Island,” and “Batman Begins” can have parallels drawn to Lang’s film. Any fans of the videogame masterpiece “Bioshock” owe “Metropolis” a viewing, because from the city design, to the logo featuring the cityscape, the game’s city of Rapture is effectively Metropolis underwater.

So, I’m sure eventually we’ll get a fully-restored DVD with all the new footage. Remember, this is an original print from 1927 that has not been restored, or even taken out of storage in decades, so as sure as there’s legions of film geeks who want to see this, it will probably take several years to restore.

Any concerns, comments, questions and requests can be directed to canze1bj@cmich.edu, and the “Wanted” review can be viewed by the link below.

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