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I saw Thor on Saturday afternoon and had a blast; in a lot of ways it reminded me more of Superman 2 than anything else; I hope they get to do a good sequel with more of the three mere mortals and much more of Sif and the Warriors Three!

I'll be honest, though, I was bored to death for the first twenty minutes or so, and was deeply afraid the film would suck; this is probably because I have never been impressed with massive CG battle scenes, with the exception of maybe Avatar, and the extremely serious tone of the Asgard stuff didn't do much for me. Loved the stuff on Earth and all the later Asgadian scenes, though.

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The problem is, while I acknowledge plenty of people with glasses can put 3D glasses on top with no discomfort... they're so goddamn irritating that to make me sit through an entire film it took Toy Story 3 levels of quality.

For me, it's never going to be good short of having to buy contact lenses. i.e. 3D is only ever going to be enjoyable for me if I put things in my eyeballs.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Saw X-Men: First Class yesterday, and I liked it but was not blown away. January Jones was badly miscast for Emma Frost, and had no fun whatsoever playing a sexy villainess, which pretty much defeats the point, the X-Babies were not fleshed out and I didn't laugh enough, with to me is actually the key to a good superhero film. I hate to be one of those linky guys, but I did a review I'm fairly proud of over here.

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Just got back from the midnight opening of Green Lantern. It's the epitome of So OK It's Average. Could have been better, could have been a lot worse. It's not in the same league as Batman Begins or Iron Man. It's not even as good as Thor. But it gets the job done. It's nowhere near the train-wreck of Elektra or Fantastic 4. It's adequate. Just "OK." The plot is tight and coherent; no threads are left dangling, no elements are introduced and then forgotten. They take some liberties with the details from the source material, but they get the gist. The special effects and visuals are mind-blowing, so it's worth seeing on the big screen for that alone. Hal and his fellow Lanterns show a surprising level of creativity in the use of their powers. But nothing else about the movie made me feel much of anything one way or the other.

Ryan Reynolds brings his usual brand of cocky-yet-self-deprecating charisma, but more diluted than usual. If you liked him in other movies, you'll like him here. If you hated him before, you'll hate him now. Mark Strong knocks it out of the park as usual, and is easily the best part of the whole film. He doesn't break his streak as one of those actors who always brings his A-game no matter how good, bad, or bland the material is. Also, don't get your hopes up for Amanda Waller. She's basically a cameo, and her presence makes no difference in the plot one way or the other. Kilowog and Tomar-Re are awesome though, as always.

There's an Easter Egg during the credits, which comes as zero surprise to anyone, but you don't want to miss it because it looks badass.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Transformers 3 somehow managed to be worse than Transformers 2. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it for myself.

TF3 starts off strong. They hit the ground running, establishing a fascinating plot that engages the viewer's interest and sets a truly epic tone for the rest of the movie. It gets your hopes up that maybe Michael Bay and the studio execs finally listened to all the criticism heaped upon the first two TF movies.

And then Shia LaBeouf shows up, and it all goes to Hell. From the moment Sam Witwicky slides into the frame, the movie starts steadily pissing away all the goodwill it had worked so hard to build up. The movie doesn't just explode all at once. Instead, it falls apart a piece at a time. An unnecessary scene here, an unnecessary character there. They slip in an awkward, cliched line of dialogue one minute, then force an immature, banal attempt at humor or pandering (to fanboys and fratboys like) the next.

In a stubborn refusal to actually move on with any characterization, the plot bends over backwards to keep Sam on the outside looking in, so this film can retread the same well-worn ground as its predecessors. As a result, it feels as though there are two entirely separate movies happening on the same screen. And Sam has only gotten less likable and more whiny and obnoxious with time. As a point-of-view character, he fails on every level.

But ultimately, LaBeouf's Sam is just a symptom of the greater problem dragging this movie down: It is. Just. Too. Long.

I say that as someone who watches 4-hour black-&-white subtitled samurai movies and talking-heads period pieces for "fun." A long running time has never intimidated me. But I have no patience for a movie which is longer than it needed to be, and TF3 is the epitome of wasted screen time. The fans said they wanted less ridiculous, offensive human padding, and more giant alien robot action. Michael Bay only heard half of that sentence, and he grabbed the pendulum and hurled it in the opposite direction with all the subtlety and class we've come to expect from him. He overdoses us on the giant robot fights, but he refuses to remove or even reduce the vestigial human padding, resulting in a movie half again to twice as long as it needed to be to tell its story. Every element of the plot is tortuously stretched and dragged long past the point where any emotional impact or catharsis has been rung from it. By the time Bay finally gives us what we came to see, we're so exhausted and bitterly resentful that we don't care anymore.

TF3 is a bloated mess that killed my every attempt to enjoy it. Michael Bay is a terrible director and a terrible human being.

Addendum: At this point, I'm convinced that the sucking hole of anti-charisma that is Shia LaBeouf is not merely a ham-handed attempt to pack one human name with every vowel in the English language, but that he is in fact the personification of the idea of bad cinema itself. He's the Olympian god of terrible movies.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

"Toy Masters" is the first ever feature-length documentary on the world-wide phenomenon that inspired an entire generation of children and became a billion dollar franchise -- "Masters of the Universe".

The film is in production now, filming all over the U.S. "Toy Masters" will feature interviews with the key creative personnel behind every version of the best selling toy line and all incarnations of "Masters of the Universe" on television, film, stage, and print, tracing the inception and ups and downs of the fantasy juggernaut.



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  • 2 months later...

The reviewer in my local newspaper eviscerated it, saying the only folks who'd enjoy it are the ones who enjoyed the Robert Downey Jr./Jude Law Sherlock Holmes (which he also hated).

Which is to say it was awesome.

In all honestly though despite whacky steampunk weapons and airships this was I must say the most accurate to the novel rendition of the story I've seen. All in all I found it very entertaining and well worth the ticket price particularly as we were able to take TJ to see it and it resulted in less tears and uncomfortable conversations than a Pixar movie!

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I was sitting right next to Durf in that theatre, yet it sounds like we saw two completely different movies.

The comparison to Sherlock Holmes is fair, just as it would be to the J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot. In all cases, a once more "intellectual" franchise or concept was tarted up, dumbed down, and injected with adrenaline for a new generation with shorter attention spans. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I liked Star Trek. I liked Sherlock Holmes. Three Musketeers is not in the same league as either of those movies.

Three Musketeers was a bad movie, but it was a fun bad movie. As far as Paul W.S. Anderson's filmography is concerned, it's much closer in quality to Resident Evil or Alien vs Predator than to Event Horizon (his one good film, but that's a column for another day). Judging from his action scenes, Paul Anderson clearly wants to be Zack Snyder when he grows up, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing, because he makes it work. The production design is first-rate. Everything and everyone is bright and colorful and pretty and otherwise visually appealing. The script, on the other hand, is painful. It's really only when people start opening their mouths that this whole mess starts to unravel. The only good lines are the ones they shamelessly stole from other, better films (mostly The Princess Bride). The plot fails to engage or emotionally immerse you, no matter how familiar you are or are not with the source material, and it doesn't make much sense, either. Stuff just happens, usually with little explanation beyond "Because the writer said so. Shut up."

The American kid they got to play D'Artagnan sticks out like a sore thumb, and not just because of his accent. He's a sucking black hole of anti-charisma who honestly made me nostalgic for Shia LaBeouf. Christoph Waltz brings his A-game as usual, but the movie never gives him enough to do, for the same reason the whole thing feels like a blue-balling dry-hump at the end: Anderson passed on resolving 80% of the dangling plot threads in favor of leaving hooks for a sequel he'll never get. That part that feels like the lead-up to the "real" climax? No, sorry, that's all you get. Milla Jovovich, on the other hand, brings the same thing (Two things? The joke is that it's her boobs.) she brings to every role. Which, depending on whether you care more about decent acting (like you should) or pretty people in revealing outfits (Really? In the Information Age? Open up a web browser, and get all the naked people you'd ever want to see, or not want to see, for much cheaper than the price of a theatre ticket, or the millions of dollars they sunk into this piece of crap). Watching Jovovich get so much screen time with a real actor like Waltz highlighted just how awful an actress she is, how terrible the script was, and how great of an actor he is for not letting either one bring him down.

The closest the movie gets to a saving grace is Ray Stevenson, a great actor who was good here but better elsewhere. In a role which plays to his strengths, like Titus Pullo in HBO's Rome (seriously, go rent/stream it RIGHT NOW, it's THAT GOOD), he slides effortlessly back and forth between "jovial giant" and "terrifying merciless unstoppable ender of lives," and he's a pleasure to watch. He has the kind of irrepressible presence and infectious charm that overtakes the entire frame. In a role which tries to repress the aforementioned irrepressibility (Is that a real word? Screw it, it is now.), like the eponymous protagonist of Punisher: War Zone, he's terrible, and in a role where he's all joke and no terror, like as Volstagg in Thor, he's satisfactory, but not impressive. Musketeers leans more toward the former than either of the latter with Stevenson as Porthos, enough to make him the clear Ensemble Darkhorse (it's a trope, look it up), but not enough to save the movie.

Anderson's Three Musketeers is all style and no substance, junk food that tastes good going down, but makes you feel bad about yourself at the time, and worse later, when you're trapped on the toilet while a torrent of diarrhea tramples a bloody mess through your intestines. That having been said, it is a swashbuckling movie with high production values, decent swordfight choreography, and airship battles, so if you're a fan of the genre, or a 7th Sea player, you're pretty much contractually obligated to give it a look.

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  • 2 months later...


Friday, January 13th, 2012

By Josh Kushins

In this week's ceremony, Green Lantern won the People's Choice Award for BEST MOVIE SUPERHERO, as portrayed by Ryan Reynolds in the 2011 film.

Giving "fans a chance to honor their favorite entertainers" according to the official website, the People's Choice Awards allows audiences to determine the nominees and winners. This year's live telecast aired on January 11.

Congratulations to Ryan, and to everyone involved in bringing GREEN LANTERN to the silver screen!

... the hell?

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