So I finally got around to watching John Carter. This was supposed to be a HUGE summer blockbuster in 2012 and instead was a critical and financial failure. That said, a few friends insisted that the movie wasn’t that terrible and that I ought to give it a try.
The movie felt like a mixture of Flash Gordon, Stargate, and prequel-era Star Wars (with a dash of Fringe‘s Observers thrown in). Sort of. Also, our hero leaps around Mars like a flea. A better description would be a flea in a bouncy castle.
My favorite character is this lizard-dog called Woola that’s just freakin adorable. It sort of has Jabba the Hutt’s face had Jabba been a baby. I know I just used “Jabba the Hutt” and “adorable” in close proximity. It will never happen again.
Anyways, effects-wise, the movie looks really good. Story-wise (and yes, I know this was based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel) it’s a little predictable. At the same time, since I know Star Wars and Flash Gordon and all the adventure serials spawned from the Burroughs novels, I can’t help but wonder what is echoing what?
During one scene, the green Martian Tharks are in some kind of arena to punish Carter and some other Tharks who helped him. The whole scene reminds me of the big arena climax on Geonosis in Attack of the Clones. I half expected a barrage of lightsabers to appear at one point. Did this scene occur in one of Burroughs’ novels? If so, did Lucas base that whole scene after Burroughs or did the moviemakers look to Clones? Chicken or Egg?
That’s my deep thought for this film which I did mostly enjoy. I don’t think I’ll ever watch it again, but I’m glad I finally got around to it.
Afterthought: Both Ciaran Hinds and James Purefoy are in this movie. Anytime they were near each other, I kept thinking about how Julius Caesar and Mark Antony were going to get the band back together. I see it as a sign to re-watch Rome.
Among the plethora of holiday movies there is a vast collection of animated specials. These, like the movies, range in quality from most festive (i.e. A Charlie Brown Christmas) to most horrible. I think I’ve found the worst of the bunch to date. May I please warn you against 1996’s animated special, The Story of Santa Claus.
Featuring the voices of Ed Asner, Betty White, and Tim Curry, this feature tells the origin story of how a poor but generous toymaker became everyone’s favorite gift-giver. I’m sure the writers had an innocent and sweet story all planned out. I’m totally positive that was their intention! But as I was made myself watch this program, I couldn’t help but use my Grinchy skills to remove all the joy and pick everything apart. Allow me to explain:
When Santa and the Mrs. accidentally arrive at the North Pole (there was a storm) they save the life of a precocious elf boy. In doing so Santa is granted his fondest wish. He wishes to be able to deliver a toy to each child on Earth every Christmas. Because the elves are magically bound to granting this wish, they put themselves into a position of indentured servitude to the Clauses. This results in the following:
- The adult elves don’t help out. So Santa enlists help from the children to gather materials and actually build the workshop and later the toys. This introduces unpaid child labor and deforestation (oh and animal labor) to the North Pole.
- The elf children (aside from the 2 main kids) might be on something. They all have big, beady black eyes.
- Does Santa ever build any toys or pitch in on his workshop? He um…designs it. Might as well give the man a Hardees cup so he can stand around and supervise. Because that’s all I see him do. The elves do the rest of the work.
- Santa spent his youth growing up in an orphanage. It’s one of his stops on Christmas Eve which is really quite sweet. I don’t think this is an orphanage you’d want any children to stay in. Who puts an orphanage out on a lonely island? It looks more like a prison. Kind of bleak for a children’s special.
And maybe I’m just being over picky, but I could not stop finding problems with the special. There’s a little kid in Santa’s town (pre-North Pole) who has a head wound. He looks like he could use a meal and some medical attention. He looks this way the whole special. This is never addressed.
I just didn’t like it. If I’m watching a holiday special (especially an animated one) I want to watch something fun. It’s for the kids! Let’s just watch Rudolph or better yet, The Snowman.
I started typing this about 3/4 of the way through 2011’s The Three Musketeers. Wow. It’s really not very good at all. Honestly, yeah. I keep waiting for it to improve, but it’s not happening.
It’s not bad acting or anything. There is an insanely good cast for this movie. Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson, and Luke Evans play the titular characters. The fault, instead, lies with the insertion of a major steampunk element into the classic Dumas tale along with many a cheesy line or two. Honestly, the plot gets downright zany. The trailer (embedded above) says “not like before.” Ain’t that the truth. Let me list a few items of note:
1. Milla Jovovich as Milady de Winter. She’s like a cat burglar who knows kung fu and the finer points of swordplay.
2. King Louis XIII. Usually he’s portrayed as naive. This version has the inexperienced king as kind of stupid and a bit foppish. I love his little hats! Also, Freddie Fox, who plays the king, has such a resemblance to Vincent Caso, that I kept thinking he was Bladezz from The Guild.
3. There is a freakin’ flying ship in the movie. It looks like a pirate ship / zeppelin. No one in the movie thinks this is odd. Everyone’s cool with it. Here’s some perspective for you: Louis XIII ascended the French throne in 1610. This is the same year the bagel was invented. From bagel to flying ship—anything goes!
4. Orlando Bloom’s hair. It’s not so much a coiffure as a structure. It’s rather tall and steals every scene away from him.
5. Christoph Waltz as Cardinal Richelieu. One feels that he’s holding back from laughing and walking off the set. And don’t get me started on Mads Mikkelsen as Captain Rochefort. I can’t tell if he’s trying to be creepy or eccentric. Maybe a little bit of both? I get the feeling he’s winking at us from behind the eyepatch.
6. Wait, apparently one airship isn’t enough. There is a total aerial naval showdown in the sky. Huh? If it wasn’t so ridiculous, it would be kind of cool.
Now, I will say this. The sword fighting (when there is any) is pretty groovy. The costumes are nice and technicolorrific. Yes, that’s now a word I just made up. Feel free to use it.
Also, Paul W.S. Anderson directed this flick. He’s the same guy who directed all the Resident Evil movies. So I guess as ridiculous as this movie was, it could have been worse. Richelieu could have set up an army of undead in hopes of stealing the French throne. Now that would have been something to see.
I’m going to just come out with it. Blood of Beasts was meh. Actually, it was more like bleh. I know that’s harsh, but yeah. Originally, I had decided to give Jane March a second chance seeing as I was very critical of her performance in Grimm’s Snow White. For her part in BoB, she was okay. The rest of the movie however…
BoB is a rather bland retelling of Beauty and the Beast only it’s set during the good old Viking times of olde. I think it’s Vikings. None of the men have facial hair(!!!!), but almost all of them have on bad wigs. Baaaad wigs, I tell you! Also, their waterfront Viking village looks like it may have been plundered from the Ewoks.
The “Beauty” of this story is played by Jane March. She is Freya, the Viking king’s daughter. It’s a tough world for Freya. She’s mourning the loss of her true love Agnar and at the same time, she’s having to deal with being promised to the village’s resident bully, Sven.
The “Beast” would be this bear/wolf man who lives on this distant land that the village men keep trying to reclaim. The costume for this guy does work. It’s like he’s wearing a bear head hoodie of sorts. This gives the appearance that his actual face is coming out of the mouth of a bear. Also, he’s got Darth Maul makeup on, so it’s kind of disturbing—which I gather is what the filmmakers were going for. Kudos!
So at one point, the Viking men do battle with the Beast (or as they refer to him, Odin’s Beast). Sven being the all-around groovy guy that he is, flees in fear and leaves the king to the mercy of the Beast. Of course Freya bravely travels to the Beast’s lair to beg her father’s release. She strikes a deal with the beast man to take her father’s place, and he accepts. You know the rest of the story.
While I’m glad the filmmakers tried to empower Freya by making her a Viking princess who has her own armor and can totally wield a sword, they failed to take into account one key point. Jane March is a really skinny chick. The armor sort of swallows her, and I have no idea how she’s seeing out of her helmet.
One nice thing in this movie is that the story is split between the goings on at Chez Beast and Viking Village. Justin Whalin (I know!) plays Eric. He was injured during the initial Beast fight, and feels a lot of guilt for leaving the king behind. He’s also one of the first people to start to stand up to Sven (who has appointed himself mayor of the village people).
Plot pacing, however, does not save this film. Most of the costumes look like they were picked up from Party City. Also,pretty much all the characters are one-dimensional. The king, is a well-meaning idiot. Sven has one setting: tool. March, while way better than she was in Grimm’s Snow White, wasn’t exactly wowing me here. Her character just seemed blah. Also, I think it’s now a proven fact that March cannot conjure up real tears. Whalin’s the best thing in this so….yeah.
The story was so-so. Honestly, I was bored through most of the viewing. It’s a different take on the fairy tale—particularly the ending, so I give the movie points for that. However, I wasn’t a fan of the ending. Points rescinded. It’s worth a watch if you enjoy love stories without the chemistry or if you are a fan of strawberry jam being used for fake blood. Most of the action sequences use the shakey-cam effect. I’ve come to realize from my numerous B-movie viewings, that the shakey-cam is used when the budget won’t allow for well-choreographed action sequences. Enough already! I didn’t enjoy it, but maybe someone else will.
Oh and sidenote: Justin Whalin! Last I saw you was in Dungeons and Dragons (yeesh). Ye of the promising acting career post TV’s Lois & Clark; where hath you been? Cause you shouldn’t have been here.
How on earth did I manage to hear about this AFTER it has aired???!!! Syfy’s schedule shows the next air date as May 4. I’m tuning in. Oh yeah…
Seriously, with a title being Chupacabra vs The Alamo and Eric Estrada being the star….I can’t even form a full sentence. Needless to say, I will watch this movie. Has anyone seen it?
Fun factoids about the Chupacabra and the Alamo
1. The Chupacabra is listed in the animal grouping of “cryptid” which translates as a creature whose existence is suggested but has yet to be proven. Other cryptids include the Yeti and the Loch Ness Monster.
2. There is no basement in the Alamo. I learned this from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure when he trekked to San Antonio in search of his stolen bicycle. The fortune teller told him it was in the basement. Guess not.
Kids, back in the day I watched a movie so strange and dumb and interesting and stupid that it inspired this very blog. It arrived one warmish day in May, and I put it in the dvd player. With a title like Dragon Wars I knew there would at least be a) dragons and b) possibly dragons at war with themselves, others, everyone, etc. It couldn’t be all bad, could it?
And now at long last, I have revisited this movie. So here we are again, and I feel the time is right to review this one for you. Enjoy.
You know a movie is gonna be one of “those” when the opening scene involves police hauling a man away while he shouts “the beast has risen!” You just know. While that happens, our hero emerges into the shot. Ethan Kendrick is a popular local news guy newly arrived on the scene of some horrible disaster. The problem is that it’s hard to tell what happened exactly. All I see is sand and some tarp. It looks more like a construction scene on a beach or something.
Anyways, now seems as good a time as any for Ethan to go into flashback mode. It all has something to do with the strange amulet he wears around his neck. Travel back in time with me, won’t you?
When Ethan was a little boy, he went with his dad to Jack’s Antiques. Young Ethan stumbles across a trunk that suddenly opens and starts to glow. Ah ha! Jack fakes a heart condition and convinces Ethan’s dad to go to the nearest pharmacy to pick up some meds for him. So…..that would leave the kid alone with the strange man. Whatever.
It was all a ruse. Once the dad is out the door, Jack turns to Ethan and says “finally, I’ve found you.” Now, any kid nowadays would high-tail it out of there. But this kid just says “the light from the box, sir?” Jack explains that Ethan saw was the scale of the Imoogi and the light was from Heaven.
Right, let’s nutshell. Imoogi are from Koran legend. They are sort of like dragons. Every 500 years an Imoogi was rewarded for good deed doing and gained the chance to level up and become a Celestial dragon. It would need, however, the gift of the Yuh Yi Joo.
The YYJ allows the Imoogi to turn into a dragon. But again, the YYJ only shows up every 500 years. Enter Buraki the evil serpent who wanted the YYJ. In 1507 Korea, Heaven sent a young boy named Haram and his master Bochun to protect the YYJ at all costs. Ethan asks Jack what on earth he’s talking about, and I’m thinking the same thing too. This is already a convoluted tale to tell a kid and an audience and expect us to still follow. Too many names. And this is a giant nutshell.
Basically, a baby girl is born bearing the mark of a red dragon on her shoulder. Congrats!. She’s the YYJ. When she’s 20, she’ll be sacrificed so the Imoogi level up. Sounds like a bum deal for the YYJ, but what can you do? Bochun takes the baby girl from her parents so he can raise her and protect her for that one big event in life. Her name is Narin. Haram and Narin grow up together and fall in love. Of course they do.
Are you confused yet? It’s annoying, but I have to tell you all this info because 1) it’s important, and 2) why should I be the only one to deal with it?
Anyhoo, all is wonderful in the land of young love and Good Imoogis. However, Narin turns 20 and the evil Buraki starts terrorizing villages looking for Narin so his Evil Imoogi can use the YYJ power for unlimited evilness.
Bochun gives Haram an amulet that will protect him from danger. He also instructs Haram to deliver Narin to the Good Imoogi. That’s all he has to do. Does he do it? No. He and his woman attempt to flee and end up falling to their deaths from a cliff whilst being pursued by the Evil Imoogi.
The Jack says, “I know it’s hard to believe all that, but you know what’s harder to believe?” And I’m thinking it doesn’t matter cause this kid obviously believes everything you tell him.
Jack tells Ethan that he is Bochun and that Ethan was in his first life, Haram. This is his second chance to protect the YYJ. It’s his destiny. He must find a girl named Sarah. She’ll have a mark on her shoulder and she must be taken to the Grand Cave by the day she’s 20. And that’s all the clues Ethan is given. Good thing he grows up to be an intrepid reporter.
Thus endeth the twenty-minute (!!!) flashback. That’s a lot to throw onto your audience, methinks. So now that we are all caught up on Ethan’s memories, he starts his search for the mysterious Sarah so they can save the world.
Ethan all but abandon’s his job and with his loyal cameraman Bruce (played by Craig Robinson of Hot Tub Time Machine fame), he searches for Sarah. Meanwhile, Sarah (a pretty blonde played by Amanda Brooks) is kicking in as the YYJ. She has crazy dragon dreams. She goes into trance like states and writes in Korean calligraphy. She also has what I think might be a panic attack only it just looks like she’s got bad cramps. She calls 911. For cramps? Maybe it was a panic attack after all.
And somewhere while Sarah is in the hospital and Ethan is looking for her in the hospital, the movie comes back online for me. It got kind of dull with the “what’s wrong with me?” and “how do we find her” stuff. You know she’ll figure it out and he’ll find her. So let’s get this thing moving along!
If you look at the movie from a certain angle, Dragon Wars is a lot like Terminator. Sarah is Sarah Connor. Ethan would be a hipster Kyle Reese. The Evil Imoogi would totally be Arnold. Where does the Imoogi go to first looking for Sarah? Her house. Who gets killed? The roommate and her boyfriend. Just like in The Terminator.
Ethan finds Sarah and does a whole “come with me if you want to live” spiel, and off they go. What we have next is a rather lengthy sequence of Evil Imoogi destroying everything in its path to find Sarah. And I mean everything. They try to outrun it. They try to outdrive it. Not happening. And if they manage to get away from the Imoogi, there’s the Imoogi’s henchman come back from the afterlife.
While they run for their lives in whatever transportation is available, Ethan and Sarah manager to fall in love. Just like in The Terminator.
Meanwhile, the Feds are also searching for Sarah. They found the Korean legend and for some reason know she’s the key to the whole thing. So let’s see now. Giant dragon serpent thing is chasing them. Evil henchman is chasing them. Feds are chasing them. Not good.
I have got to tell you. Most of the rest of the movie is one action sequence after another with armies clashing, Imoogi destroying, Hulk smashing… (just checking to see you are paying attention). Also, to make things more fun, evil henchman’s evil army of Middle Earth creatures suddenly invade the city. So if you are having a hard time picturing this, use Power Rangers, Middle Earth battle creatures, a huge dragony serpent, and then visualize the usual Michael Bay / Roland Emerich movie magic destructiveness. You get the picture. Crazy, but it looks really good and kept me interested in the movie.
There is one image in particular that’s stayed with me. At one point in the melee, Ethan, Sarah and Bruce are all trying to make it to the helicopter at the top of the news building. The Imoogi has slithered up the building like a snake. Its long body is wrapped all around the tall building, and it’s quietly making its way up. It was a really groovy visual.
And just when you think they’ll find a way to fully escape or maybe defeat the Imoogi…..the film switches gears and we find ourselves at the Grand Cave for the grand finale.
I’ll stop there. I’ve skipped over a lot, but the cool points and crazy have all been brought to light. Dragon Wars, I think, would work really well as a video game. I’m being serious. Some of the music and dialog felt very Final Fantasy to me, and I could so see this as either an RPG or better yet maybe an action/adventure 3rd-person shooter type game. Think about it. You could play as both Ethan and Haram in two parallel adventures. You could do all your initial tutorial levels in the “500 years ago” section. Then, once the game goes into present day, it’s dragon’s ahoy! But that’s the game.
As a movie Dragon Wars is silly, but with enough action to keep me paying attention. The dragons/Imoogis look really good and I was kind of creeped out by them. I’ll probably revisit it waaay down the road. After all, it’s crazy “quick! Learn these volumes of back story in the next 10 minutes” plot made me sit up and take notice. No one else I knew had seen or even heard of this movie. But now you have.
Next week, I’ll return with my Oscar picks. This year it has been really difficult making predictions. I’ve changed my ballot around countless times. My deadline for final picks is Friday, so I’ll try to have my picks up by that night or early Saturday.
I found another! This morning a delightful 1987 Cannon Group adaptation of The Emperor’s New Clothes was on my local television channel. And like all the other movies in this grouping, this was sing-songy too. One number of note was the jaunty “The Clothes Make the Man.”
Yet again, we get another strange yet impressive cast. Robert Morse (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) is the tailor who is really more of a con man. Sid Caesar is the Emperor. Clive Revill is his bumbling Prime Minister (he was also the king in The Frog Prince).
The set up for the story is that the Emperor has invited tailors from all over to design his clothes for the princess’s forthcoming wedding. Sensing an opportunity, the tailor comes up with a scheme. His nephew, Nicolas is a reluctant partner in all this. He admits he loves a good con, but he has reservations about the illegal part. Ha! Meanwhile, the princess doesn’t want to get married.
Yeah, yeah. Not the same story we all know, but in its basic outline, yes. So anyways, of the fairy tale adaptations I’ve seen so far from the Cannon folks, this one isn’t that great. Morse kind of overdoes it. He practically winks at the audience whenever he’s up to no good. Caesar, however, is fun but he’s pretty much playing himself.
Maybe I’m biased because I’ve never really been a fan of The Emperor’s New Clothes. It always seemed like a silly story to me. I don’t suggest this one, but it’s nice to know I can cross another off my list. Onwards to the next fairy tale!!!
PS: One can always enjoy The Emperor’s New Groove.
I hope everyone had a nice Christmas. I also hope you aren’t over it quite yet. After all, I did promise another holiday flick….I just didn’t say what kind. mwah ha ha. The title really says it all, and there’s little else to explain as an intro here: Snowmageddon.
In a nutshell, Snowmageddon is a disaster-laden holiday flick about the wee, tiny town of Normal, Alaska that is the unfortunate victim of a snow globe. And not just any snow globe, kiddies. Nope. This one, though beautifully crafted and not made in China, is very much made of EVIL.
I just feel really bad for the peoples of Normal, AK. It’s Christmas, and all fifteen of the town’s residents are really going all out for the holiday. The town square (that might actually just be all of the town) is decorated and pretty. Seasonal lights are everywhere.
The Miller family are doing their part. John Miller is going about the town collecting gifts for needy families. His wife, Beth, is a helicopter pilot. She will drop off the gifts the next day. Even their kids are involved. It’s nice when the kids do charity work too. Start them early, I say.
With all this jollity and good spirit, no one is surprised when a mystery box appears on the Miller family doorstep. Since they don’t know which family is supposed to get the box, they decide to open it and if the ominous doomed and dark Christmas score didn’t forewarn you enough, then the dog going berserk should have clued you in.
Let me describe the Snow Globe of Doom for you. It’s a snow globe. It’s base is made of wood. Inside the globe part is a teeny replica of the town and the mountains behind it. The base has all these visible gears and buttons on it. I don’t get the point of these because the thing is totally self-aware. Most unfortunate of all is that it does not play any little tune. There’s no creepy “Silent Night” jingling out of the device. The biggest thing about the SGoD is that whatever occurs inside the globe, occurs in the town. .
For example, our first foray into decorative disasters has a series of rumblings and bubbles that come up from the ground inside the globe. At that same time, the ground shakes in the town square and flaming gas erupts from the ground. Flaming gas isn’t the best choice of words here, but you get my meaning.
Later, dark clouds form around the mountains in the globe and a big, nasty storm attacks the area. Another important detail is that the clock in the globe has synched up with the clock on the town hall. This would be kind of cool if it wasn’t for the fact that the town hall clock hasn’t worked in years and Fred the local shop-owner gutted the clock a while back.
Snowmageddon is a lot of fun to watch for the endless series of disasters. There’s a little something for everyone. There are ice missiles shot from the clouds, giant tree-like spikes that shoot upwards from the ground, explosions, convenient people-trapping ravines, avalanches, etc. My favorite is when a man is killed by the town Christmas tree. And of course, after almost each of these disasters, a fire starts somewhere.
But while the movie doesn’t let up on crazy challenges, it pays that price by giving us rather boring characters who have to deal with all the hoopla. On top of that, no one ever seems to be wearing a hat even when they are on top of a snowy mountain! What is that about? It’s Alaska! Bundle up, people!
John and Beth Miller are kind of boring characters. They stay calm in all situations, they never seem too upset by their town being under attack from all forms of nature, and they might be superhuman. Beth easily survives a helicopter crash. All she’s got is a cut on her nose. John can drive a snowcat just about anywhere and then leap across giant iceberg divides.
The Miller children fall into familiar stereotypes. Daughter, Jennifer, comes across as the boy-crazy teenager. She begs Beth to take her on the delivery flight because Beth will be dropping off a famous snowboarder so he and his friend can hit the groovy slopes. All Jennifer does during pretty much the entire movie is whine and cry. Poor girl. She will so need therapy when this is done. Her younger brother, Rudy, is the typical innocent youth that figures out what’s causing the problem. He’s wiser than his years and feels the need to right the wrong caused by the SGoD.
Another thing—and this is a biggie—is that the purpose behind the SGoD or the person who ominously delivered it to the Miller house is never really explored. Having a character explain why it’s in their town as “maybe it was meant to come here” is not a good enough answer.
I guess Normal, AK happens to be the unlucky town for this SGoD to enact it’s wrath. Maybe Normal is such a fan of the holidays that the SGoD can’t stand it. Maybe it hates Christmas. No idea! And we never find out! Instead the filmmakers bring on a Lord of the Rings scenario with John Miller making the arduous trek up the local mountain (*cough* Mt. Doom) to drop the ring SGoD into the fiery pits of the suddenly active volcano. I guess if it worked for Frodo…
Now for that snow globe. One would think that since it’s made of evil, it might put up some kind of fight to avoid destruction. Perhaps it will suddenly get hot to the touch or speed up disasters. No!! Not a thing. It’s just an evil snow globe. It doesn’t even speak or anything. John, however, has his own choice words. “Merry Christmas you son of a bitch,” quoth he, as the globe is pitched into the fires of Mt. Molehill. Lovely writing, isn’t it?
Snowmageddon was very predictable yet highly entertaining. I’d say it’s way better than IceQuake. Waaay better. I like how there’s fifteen people in town and they all know each other. I like how the town is about the size of a parking lot. The acting was fairly decent, and there were some familiar faces in the movie. Battlestar Galactica alum, Michael Hogan, played Fred. Laura Harris of Dead Like Me fame was Beth Miller, helicopter pilot extraordinaire.
While most of the effects were computer-generated, they were done in conjunction with actual real effects, and the combo worked well for a movie whose budget (I will assume) does not compare to that of Avatar.
My biggest beef with the film is that it’s about a freaking snow globe that causes disasters and destruction for a little town. Who came up with that idea? Does someone hate or fear snow globes? I have no idea. I hate that the movie never explains that fully. It’s frustrating.
Oh well, if I’ve learned anything from the crazy goings-on in Snowmageddon, it’s this: invest in snowcats. The one in this movie was pretty sturdy and despite it’s 10 mph super speeds, it held its own through most of the disasters it encountered.
And that’s it, my little snow bunnies. No more holiday flicks until 2013. Now let’s focus on next year. I think we will need more dragons.