October 31, 2014

Podcast Episode 36: JOHN WICK And The Dubious Merits Of Puppy Murder

That puppy sure is cute, ain't he?

Don't get attached.

John Wick is not a movie for everybody.  Specifically, it is not a movie for lovers of dogs.  It is, however, a movie for lovers of well choreographed action scenes, pulpy crime stories and Keanu Reeves being Keanu Reeves.  I fucking loved this movie.  Bart was fairly unimpressed.  Jamie almost walked out of the theater in a rage.

We recorded this podcast last Sunday, but due to an overwhelmingly busy schedule I wasn't able to finish editing the thing until late Thursday night.  As a result, much of our attempt to parse the first trailer for Avengers: Age Of Ultron was rendered moot a few days after recording when Marvel announced their full Phase 3 slate and the upcoming Infinity War storyline.  I suppose this kind of thing comes with the territory.

That being said, it is gratifying that a number of our speculations were confirmed on stage at the El Capitan Theater, particularly the announcement of Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther.  Rest assured we cover a lot of this material in the next episode of the podcast, which we recorded last night.  With any luck, I'll have it published before Paramount abruptly shelves their Terminator remake, thus negating another major portion of our recording.

Next Week: We take to the skies with Michael Keaton in Birdman!

October 24, 2014

Ten Reasons Why This Trailer For THE GAMBLER Makes Me Giggle With Delight

Here are ten reasons why the trailer for The Gambler is my favorite non-Avengers thing this week.

1. Bald John Goodman.

2. The perfect rhythmic soundscape underscoring the visuals despite the absence of any actual music.

3. Shaggy Mark Wahlberg sassing Jessica Lange.

4. Brie Larson as a sultry cocktail waitress.

5. Omar/Chalky White with a silver chinstrap beard.

6. Razor sharp William Monahan dialogue that instantly makes me want to go home and watch The Departed.

7. It's a crime movie from Rupert Wyatt, the director of Rise Of The Planet of The Apes.  I'm now imagining a version of this movie in which Walhberg's character is played by Andy Serkis's Caesar and John Goodman is played by Maurice the oragutan.

8. Did I mention bald John Goodman?

9. Fuck you.

10. This:

What more do you really want?

October 23, 2014

Marvel Says "Fuck It," Releases AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON Trailer A Week Early

This is why I love Marvel.

On Tuesday they announced that the first trailer for Avengers: Age Of Ultron would premiere during next week's episode of Agents Of SHIELD.  Then on Wednesday, a low res copy leaked on Vimeo and started getting passed around the internet by assholes with no sense of propriety or patience.  Most studios would have started throwing down cease and desist orders in an attempt to get every copy of the trailer pulled offline, but Marvel is smart enough to know when the genie is out of the bottle.  So, after a cheeky tweet blaming Hydra for the leak, they leaned into the skid and simply released an HD version of the trailer themselves, thus undercutting the shithead leakers and once again commandeering the superhero movie conversation everywhere.  What's that DC?  You finally figured out a game plan?  That's adorable.

Check this shit out:


The first film fairly reveled in the pure joy of seeing all the heroes finally come together for the first time, and while I'm sure there will still be plenty of humor and fun in this second outing (it is Joss Whedon after all) it's also clear that Earth's Mightiest Heroes are going to end up in some pretty dark places.  That Hulkbuster armor has me virtually vibrating with excitement and James Spader sounds appropriately menacing as the big bad.  

Plus there's still nary a sign of The Vision!  He's the character I'm easily most excited to see, as I'm incredibly curious to see exactly how his creation and his relationship with Stark and Ultron will play out.  I also appreciate the small tastes we're getting of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, particularly the sort of vapor-trail approach to the latter which easily differentiates him from Fox's iteration of the same character in Singer's X-Men films.

And that creepy-as-fuck Pinocchio song?  As my wife said upon watching it for the first time (and then once again immediately afterwards), that's just so Joss it hurts.

These next six months are going to be unbearable.

October 22, 2014

Podcast Episode 35: Behold The FURY Of Marvel vs DC!

Last week was a doozy in terms of superhero movie news, with Marvel announcing that Robert Downey Jr. will be appearing in Captain America 3 to kick off their infamous Civil War story while DC finally announced their full slate of films through the end of the decade.  Along with the expected individual entries for characters like Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Green Lantern, WB also revealed the casting of Ezra Miller as The Flash, two Justice League movies filmed back-to-back, (but released two years apart) and a Suicide Squad movie to be helmed by David Ayer.  Due to a number of factors I didn't get a chance to write about any of this last week, so Bart and I decided to tackle all of these topics plus a few tangents (Might Will Smith actually play a DC villain?  Who's a better director, Zack Snyder or Joss Whedon?) in Episode 35 of the podcast.  As a result, this week's episode is a wee bit long and somewhat lopsided, but I think the conversation flows naturally so I didn't want to trim sections of it wholesale.

Eventually we get to talking about David Ayer's current film Fury, in which Brad Pitt plays a World War II tank commander fighting deep inside Germany at the tail end of the war.  Despite Pitt's star power, it's really an ensemble film and I think the work of Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal and yes even Shia LaBeouf really elevates the proceedings, as each character is extremely compelling in their own particular way.  There's also plenty of smartly staged tank combat, a style of warfare that seems well suited for cinema and yet feels largely underutilized by Hollywood.  But the action scenes, while intense, serve almost like release valves for the ratcheting tension that accumulates in the time between battles.  It's here where we see the true psychological horrors of war, which feel just as devastating as the physical toll wreaked upon the American GIs.

Suicide Squad was easily the most surprising title on DC's docket, but it's little wonder that the announcement was made just days before Fury hit theaters.  It's only too easy to connect the dots between this war film depicting some not-so-nice men on a mission and a movie in which comic book villains are enlisted by the government to go on suicide missions for the promise of amnesty if they somehow manage to survive.  In fact, it almost feels like Jon Bernthal's whole performance in Fury is an audition for that Suicide Squad.  We should be so lucky.  Still, with names like Will Smith, Tom Hardy, Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie all circling the film it seems all but certain that DC's first follow-up to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is not going to tread lightly.

Next Week: Keanu Reeves enacts puppy-vengeance in John Wick!

October 14, 2014

Podcast Episode 34: JOHN RAMBO Is A Small Wonder

And thus concludes our Epic Rambo Rewatch.

The fourth entry, titled John Rambo or simply Rambo depending upon which version of the Blu-ray you're watching, is most notable for being the least Rambo of all the Rambo movies.  There aren't many hallmarks of this franchise but the most recognizable of them, namely a scene in which Rambo slowly takes out a group of enemies in an enclosed space one at a time as well as the presence of an on-the-nose power ballad over the closing credits, are conspicuously absent in this (perhaps) final go around.  It's therefore hard not to walk away from this movie feeling like Rambo/Stallone accidentally wandered into some semi-generic action film.  Julie Benz will try your patience as she spends most of the first half of the film blandly monologuing, although every time her dickhead fiance wanders into frame the potential for unintentional comedy skyrockets.  (I'm looking at you, awkwardly staged boat scene.)  And Stallone's desire to legitimately educate the audience about the plight of the Burmese people while simultaneously portraying the military as virtual caricatures of evil is so blunt that it's kind of astounding.  It's as if he's trying overly hard to justify the violence that Rambo will visit upon these bastards later on.  But stick around because the last 20 minutes is a glorious melee of CG blood and guts as Rambo rips throats, cuts off heads and shoots guys so severely that they simply explode into a completely liquid state.  It's awesome.

I'm really happy with the say this whole revisitation played out, as it gave me the chance to honestly re-evaulate the Rambo franchise for the first time in a decade.  I discovered that Rambo III was much better than it gets credit for, while First Blood Part II is kind of an overhyped snore.  I'm can't wait to dig into the next franchise on our docket, Terminator.

A note on this week's podcast: We spend a bunch of time talking about Marvel's plans for Avengers 3 and beyond, name the idea that most of the current Avengers may not actually appear in that film and the possibility of Sony, in a fit of desperation, finally allowing Spider-Man to play in the Avengers sandbox.  As I was posting this podcast last night the news broke concerning Robert Downey Jr's deal to appear in Captain America 3, signaling the beginning of Marvel's Civil War storyline.  I'll have more thoughts about this later, but I stand by everything we talked about in the podcast and I think our positions are pretty fairly validated by this latest development.

Also, fair warning: The section where we watch 80's sitcoms of our youth is a little uneven from an audio perspective.  The TV audio is a little quiet and our reactions are pretty loud.  Be glad that I edited that section down a bit, particularly the moment from the Small Wonder pilot where the son gropes his robot sister and says, "She even feels like a girl," which literally sent us screaming out of the room in horror.  It's a wonder we didn't break the microphones.

Next Week: Brad Pitt drives a tank in Fury and hopefully also The Terminator.

October 13, 2014

Dave Bautista Takes An Odd Job In BOND 24

I'm slowly becoming obsessed with those Funko Pop vinyl figures depicting child-like characters from my favorite movies and TV shows.  My wife and I each ordered Groot bobble-heads that were supposed to ship last month.  They have yet to arrive.  I've been contemplating snagging a Drax figure in the meantime, because he was both a physical badass and a comic delight, and because I like placate my growing emotional ennui with craven consumerism.

Bautista, a former pro-wrestler, was easily the biggest question mark when it came to the cast of Guardians Of The Galaxy, but now producers all over town want to be in the Dave Bautista business. First in line is Barbara Broccoli and the still untitled 24th James Bond movie.  After adding French actress Lea Seydoux as a Bond Girl to be sexed up and/or killed late in the movie, director Sam Mendes has officially snagged Drax to play a new iconic henchman who may or may not be called Hinx.  No word yet as to whether or not the character will sport either maniacal dentistry or lethal haberdashery.

I'm all for Bautista continuing his high-profile run and I'm excited to see him show off his evil side (if you want a little taste of what's to come, I'd recommend his work in Riddick) but the Bond henchmen are typically not the most verbose of characters.  Hopefully Mendes will get the chance to utilize not just Bautista's imposing stature, but also his charming personality to create a character that is memorable for his personality along with what's sure to be a very specific method of dispatching British agents.

Now, where's my Groot bobblehead...

October 09, 2014

Brad Bird Brings The Awesome In The First Trailer For TOMORROWLAND

A week ago most people probably would have been hard-pressed to remember that Brad Bird's Tomorrowland, based loosely on the best section of the Disney theme parks, is an actual movie that will soon exist.  There was a lot of hullabaloo when the movie was first announced, complete with a literal Mystery Box of items that sent the internet into a puzzle-solving frenzy to figure out exactly what this movie is all about anyway.  Then, radio silence.

That time of relative quiet has now ended, as Entertainment Weekly premiered a few images yesterday and now we've got our first official teaser:

Oh FUCK yeah!

I'm not sure what I love more, the idea of grumpy old George Clooney as a former science whiz-kid or the simple fact that Brad Bird, the man who gave us both The Incredibles and The Iron Giant, has made a live-action movie about a futuristic alternate reality.  Sure the towering spires and jetpacks are fun, but my favorite thing about this trailer is the dead simple effect of Britt Robertson transitioning from world to world.  It's so totally minimal and yet so completely effective.

I was already damn excited about this movie, but now I am practically frothing at the mouth.

Paul Feig Will Bring The Estrogen To Reboot GHOSTBUSTERS

Sony, desperate for a bankable franchise that won't immediately sink under its own weight (I'm looking at you Amazing Spider-Man...) has been trying to develop a new Ghostbusters movie for years.  A number of different writers have been hired to develop a workable script, usually centering on the idea of the original 'Busters passing the torch to a new generation of clever young whippersnappers.  But after a decade of Bill Murray wisely ducking Dan Aykroyd's calls followed by the untimely death of Harold Ramis, everyone finally seemed to realize that this was a terrible idea.  Egon died to save us all.

But Sony is still determined to cash in on a pre-existing property around which they can easily build a nostalgia-soaked marketing campaign, and so they have hired Paul Feig, creator of Freaks And Geeks and director of Bridesmaids and The Heat, to completely reboot the franchise with an all female cast.  He's currently working on the script with The Heat writer Katie Dippold.  Feig has already set about assuring the world that there will be absolutely no connection to the previous films and that he really wants to tell an origin story with cooler technology that is both hilarious and genuinely terrifying.

Look, as a diehard Ghostbusters fan (I have the no-ghost symbol tattooed on my arm exactly where it appears on the uniform sleeves pictured above) those are certainly all the things I want to hear from someone who's determined to reboot this franchise, and I actually really like the idea of an all female cast.  But I maintain that this is still nothing more than the best iteration of a fundamentally dumb idea.  There is absolutely no reason to remake Ghostbusters.  They got it right the first time.  I'm all for doing a supernatural comedy that perhaps evokes Ghostbusters in tone and maybe even throws in a cute inside joke for those in the know - I can totally see Kristen Wiig or Jenny Slate staring at a ghoul and muttering "Mother pussbucket!"  But for shit's sake, do something original.

This is nothing more than another shameless entry in a long list of movies that get made solely because they have a built-in fanbase and a brand to which the studio already owns the rights.  It's bottom line thinking at its worst.  The property has enough name recognition that if you throw a couple of stars on the one sheet it is already guaranteed to win its opening weekend and probably recoup its budget.  Who cares if the movie is actually any good because it will make money!  And if the movie miraculously stumbles into genius (which is not impossible with Feig at the helm), well that's just a bonus.  Either way Sony's gonna sell a shit-ton of t-shirts.

When the news broke yesterday, my friend Jared immediately tweeted that this movie seems destined to feature a scene of Melissa McCarthy "hilariously" not being able to fit in her jumpsuit.  I was gonna go with McCarthy slowly-sliding-down-and-then-breaking-the-fire-pole, but both seem equally likely.  I guess we'll find out which of us is right soon enough.

October 08, 2014

Podcast Episode 33: Crouching Shatner, Hidden Netflix And A Requiem For RAMBO III

History is not always kind to movies.  Particularly in the case of franchises, if a movie delivers a dramatic departure from the audience's expectations then the audience can turn on a film that's actually pretty good in its own right, thus souring the film for future generations based on reputation alone.  I now believe Rambo III to be just such a movie.  I also believe that anyone who tells you that Rambo II is the best of the franchise is functionally braindead.

The third entry in the Rambo series is far better than I remember it being, utilizing a clever role reversal by essentially having Stallone's musclebound super-soldier team up with the Soviet Union's version of the Viet Cong in Afghanistan while also delivering some of the best action in the franchise to date.  I suspect that the long sections where Stallone halts the story to educate Americans as to the plight of the noble Afghan freedom fighters turned off audiences who just wanted to see Rambo stab the shit out of some Russians, but viewed through the lens of 2014 the film serves as a stark reminder that once upon a time our government considered the mujahideen to be heroes as opposed to terrorists.

Also, at one point Stallone sets his own spleen on fire.

Episode 33 of the podcast has some Rambo III talk at the end, but is mostly devoted to a discussion of whether or not William Shatner should return to the role of James T. Kirk in the next Star Trek film and the future of that franchise in general.  Bart and I also chat at length about Netflix's upcoming sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and how the theatrical landscape continues to shift as theater owners refuse to screen the film in IMAX theaters.  Taken alongside the announcement that Netflix has signed Adam Sandler to a four picture deal, it's hard not wonder how the one-time DVD rental service will continue to impact both the development and distribution process going forward.  This episode marks a bit of a shift in the podcast's overall structure, focusing more on what's happening in Hollywood this week than just about the particular movie we screened.  I'm hoping to continue down that same path going forward.

Next Week: Our Rambo Rewatch comes to a bloody, bloody end with Rambo.

October 06, 2014

Behold The Schlock-Glory Of Canon Films In This Trailer For ELECTRIC BOOGALOO

In my quest to watch a new movie every day, I finally got around to watching a number of different movies by that stalwart of 1980's cinema, Cannon Films.  Titles like Missing In Action, Masters of The Universe and in particular Over The Top...these will remain some of my fondest memories from my year-long experiment.  At the same time, this is now one of those things that I now lament about my childhood.  At the time, my only real exposure to the inherent madness of Manahem Golan and Yoram Globus was Superman IV: The Quest For Peace.  I guess it's now up to me to make up for lost time by gobbling up as many Cannon films as I can possibly get my hands on.

And what better primer to guide me on that journey than Electric Boogaloo - The Wild Untold Story of Cannon Films.

Magnificent.  I have no doubt that the majority of these movies are bordering on unwatchable, but this trailer leaves me absolutely fascinated.  Golan's assertion that the important part of filmmaking is the actual doing feels admirable, and obviously it yielded some...unique results.  And there are some "Holy SHIT!" images here, like that clip of the garage door exploding and taking out the guy sitting at the desk, that I just can't tear my eyes away from.  Chuck Norris's motorcycle exhaust rocket launcher?  Franco Nero completely redubbed in a ninja movie?    A bearded Lou Ferrigno punching a grizzly bear into space?  How have I not seen those movies?

This documentary has been gestating for a long time now and somehow still has no release date.  Somebody please fix that, because I need to see this film immediately.


October 01, 2014

Feast Your Eyes On The Final INTERSTELLAR Trailer

A small torrent of different TV spots for Christopher Nolan's Interstellar hit the web few days ago.  I ignored them in an effort not to over-saturate myself in the final weeks before the film's release.  My anticipation level is already absurdly high for Nolan's sumptuous outer space epic.  But then Warners released the film's final trailer and my curiosity got the better of me.

Holy fuck awesome.

I'm glad that this trailer highlights the space travel stuff as opposed to the dust bowl dying Earth stuff.  The very concept of Nolan, the man responsible for the mind-bending landscapes of Inception, getting to play with some truly weird alien landscapes (and perhaps lifeforms?) is enough to tickle all my nerd pleasure centers and from the look of this trailer my excitement has not been in vain.  The water planet with the giant tidal waves will surely provide some thrills, but I can't stop thinking about those upside down mountains.  I'm getting a heavy 2001 vibe off the whole thing and I couldn't be happier about it, although I can't help but imagine what Spielberg's version of this would have looked like if he hadn't dropped out.