Justin’s indisposed this week, on top secret Portland Press Herald business. He’ll be back next week to give me some sorely-needed backup. Oh, and if you’re looking for Justin and my column in the PPH‘s GO section this week (or any week hereafter apparently), you can go on ahead and stop now. Oh, well, back to the internet ghetto…
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: “Some thoughts which occurred whilst watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen:
1. I actually watched Transformers 2. I believe I should be afforded some credit and/or sympathy for this.
2. Why did they make that one weedy little robot, the one with the spray tan and the pubescent facial hair? Oh, wait, that’s Shaia LaBeouf. Apologies.
3. Well, at least they got the other robot right; pretty, lifelike, and it moves and talks almost like a real human. Oh wait, that’s Megan Fox. Apologies. (A sidebar: in How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, Ms. Fox played a vapid, waxily-pretty starlet whom the other characters actively posit may be secretly mentally-challenged. Watching her in this movie, I found myself wondering that the actual Ms. Fox may be mentally-challenged. She’s worse at pointing and yelling in front of a green screen than the kids in The Goonies).
4. Oh Rainn Wilson, I just feel bad for you, dude. This is not a wise step in your attempt to prove yourself a viable movie actor.
5. While I resisted the urge to do so (mostly), I think you can lay on the fast forward button on your remote whenever there are just humans on the screen. Not that the twenty or so scenes where LaBeouf and Fox decide whether to break up aren’t riveting. Seriously, someone out there should do an all “robot smash” edit online.
6. The film seems to have appropriated George Lucas’ sense of humor, right down to thinking that a minstrel-show, comic relief Jar Jar Binks-esque transformer is a must.
7. The “robot smash” portions of the film are as exciting as watching your roommate play “MechWarrior” on his PS2. (Studios: you can put that quote on the DVD box for free if you like).
8. When a film begins with the credit, “in association with HASBRO”, you know it’s gonna be quality.
9. Speaking of #8, could this be the best film ever made from a line of toys? (Again, feel free to use that quote to promote the film…) I can think of Bratz, the My Little Pony movie, and maybe the Care Bears film. Definitely it’s in the top two anyway.
10. Further delving into #8, which genre is the most hellish on us viewers: the ‘based on video game movie’ (Street Fighter, Doom, Super Mario Brothers, Mortal Kombat, etc), the ‘based on a board game’ movie (Clue, The Mutant Chronicles, the upcoming Candyland film [god, I wish I were joking], etc), the ‘based on a Disney theme park ride’ movie (Tower of Terror, The Haunted Mansion, and don’t get me started in the interminable Pirates of the Caribbean franchise), the ‘based on a TV series movie (a list too depressing to go into here), or this, the ‘based on a toy line’ movie? Man, I sort of liked Clue, so it can’t be that category, but…
11. Does no one know the difference between a fun, exciting brainless action blockbuster and a lame, limply-directed commercial product anymore?
12. If I were getting paid, I’d be demanding hazard pay right now. As it is, I’m going to pour myself a beer and watch some Kurosawa before I’m too stupid to finish this article…”
Blood: The Last Vampire: “This live-action remake of an anime flick about a sweet-looking teenaged girl who’s actually a centuries-old half vampire vampire killer has so much unconvincing, sword-spilled gore, they should’ve called it “CGI Blood : The Last Vampire.” HAHAHAA, get it! Anybody? Well, that’s about all I’ve got for this one, a barely-released, entirely blah would-be action movie. It’s got a pretty Asian girl (in the requisite fetishistic schoolgirl uniform), not a name actor in sight, and performances worthy of the average video game cut scene. Oh, and lots and lots of that really unconvincing computer blood . Check out the original anime; it’s actually not bad.”
Cheri: “Michelle Pfeiffer reteams with her erstwhile Dangerous Liasons director Stephen Frears for another saucy period piece. This one, while perhaps fifty percent less saucy than its predecessor, is still most worthwhile, with the enduringly-lovely Ms. Pfeiffer portraying an aging courtesan in an adaptation of Colette’s typically-subtly and melancholy novel. Let’s talk about Michelle Pfeiffer for a moment, shall we. Pegged early on as just another (achingly beautiful) face, she revealed herself a capable actress, able to infuse her (inevitably) gorgeous characters with a surprising soulfulness in films like The Fabulous Baker Boys, Married to the Mob, The Age of Innocence, and my guilty pleasure Tequila Sunrise. Then after wedding the once-ubiquitous TV creator David E. Kelley, she toned down her career for a while. It’s nice to have her back, and here, playing a woman, long invested in performance, who faces the inevitable loss of her feminine charms, and therefore power, she brings an added dimension to the film. And Frears is one of the under-the-radar directors that people don’t realize is responsible for some of their favorite films (I heartily recommend The Hit, My Beautiful Laundrette, Prick Up Your Ears, The Grifters, High Fidelity, Dirty Pretty Things, and The Queen). Worth a rental, especially on date night.”
Wrong Turn 3: Left for : “In lieu of beating the crap out of this direct-to-DVD, star-less second sequel to a horror movie that wasn’t any good to begin with, here’s a list of some recent releases from the last month that I really liked: Away We Go, Drag Me to Hell, Infestation, Anvil!: The Story of Anvil, Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation, The friend Experience, Observe and Report, and O’Horten. See- just because the studios toss us a lackluster new release week doesn’t mean there’s not a wide, varied backlog of stuff on the Videoport shelves to hold you over ’til next time. Oh, by the way, Wrong Turn 3 sucks.”
Saturday Night Live: The Best of Amy Poehler: “I love SNL, for all it’s undeniable ups and downs, but I always felt that she was a little above the show. A founding member of the brilliant improv and sketch troupe the Upright Citizens Brigade, and star of the on-its-way-to-the-top sitcom ‘Parks and Recreation’, the pixieish, crazy-eyed Poehler is like a tiny, fearless comic force of nature. As for her best of- it’s funny, of course, because she’s in it, but you should really see her in her element with the UCB. Check out her stellar, bananas work in the first two seasons of their Comedy Central sketch show and, especially, their stage show ASSSSCAT, where her particular brand of lunatic genius really shines. And she’s also my girlfriend.”