Doctor Who: The Trilogy “of the Doctor” Specials (w/ Spoilers)

There are 7 full months until we get some new Doctor Who and I just can’t wait that long.

Stealing the Tardis

“Well, my boy, you’ll just have to be patient.”

So since I’ve watched them 3 times each and before I’ve seen them 50 times a piece, I’m going to post my thoughts on the last three Doctor Who specials. Which I call The Trilogy “of the Doctor“.

There will be spoilers. Oh yes there will be spoilers.

(((SPOILERS — SPOILERS — SPOILERS)))!!!!

Honestly if you haven’t seen them or if you’re not up to date with the series stop reading. I give away the store. Here they are in reverse order… because that’s how I roll.

The Christmas Special

Time of the Doctor

Okay, my only real problem with this hour of television; The Time of the Doctor, is that they try to stuff too much into it. If they could only take out the Christmas parts, then it would be less cluttered. I believe the farewell to Matt Smith‘s 11th Doctor deserved its own special episode. Cramming it into Christmas took away from the emotion. It did not add to it. HOWEVER Matt Smith was the first Doctor of the modern era to truly rock the Christmas Special. So, it has become a large part of his legacy. Two of my top ten favorite Matt Smith episodes are Christmas specials. So I understand.

Doctor and Clara

The Doctor and Clara in Christmas Town.

I liked the way they tied up all three series threads in The Time of the Doctor: The crack in the wall from the fifth season, The Silence from the sixth, and the Daleks from the seventh. I liked that the 11th Doctor dies of old age much like the first Doctor and also the War Doctor. I loved the fact that once a timelord starts to regenerate they have all this power to spare. Don’t mess with them while they are dying or right after they’ve died. They become more powerful when they die.

Handles

Handles had one job and he used his last ounce of energy to do it. Good boy.

His new companion for the episode (It wasn’t Clara) was another of my favorite things about it. He called him Handles because Cybermen have handles on their heads. I suppose so they can pick their heads up and put them back on when they fall off… efficient. My boy Handles was like a cross between K-9 and the computer on Star Trek. When the Doctor tells him to remind him to reconnect the phone to the console (Matt’s Doctor was such a child. I’m going to miss him) it creates one of the most touching companion death scenes of all-time.

Snow Angels

Snow Angels… yeah I get the joke.

In my opinion 11 never truly accepted Clara as his companion. He never really trusted her. After the way they started with her dying all the time, he sends her away at the drop of a hat. Which creates this insanely cool dynamic for the 12th Doctor who, regenerates w/o his memory (I hope it’s temporary) and now has to rely on Clara for… everything.

Mother Superior

There was a theory that the Mother Superior was a regen of River. That’s just crazy pants.

I also noticed that they never involve his friends in this episode. Commander Strax, Madame Vastra & Jenny were not in this one. They took pains to close all the storylines from the 11th Doctor but did not say goodbye to them (Please please please bring them back for the 12th Doctor. Strax and Peter Capaldi‘s Doctor going back and forth would be infinitely entertaining).

Amy and the Doctor

I love the fact that they’re both wearing wigs in this scene.

It was a sweet goodbye. I cried when Amy came down the stairs. That was so cool. I appreciate that the Time Lords granted him another regeneration. It makes total sense. He’s the only one who can save them. I liked that we finally get to see the vaunted Papal Mainframe and the Mother Superior who acts a lot like River (Flying the Tardis, having a psycho in her head, their sexual history…). She’s not River though. No. That would be nuts.

Doctor

It takes a while for Time Lord regens to show their age but they eventually do. 11 uses a lot of his regeneration energy destroying the Daleks & Cybermen, so 12 shows his age from the start.

But it seems like they had to force Christmas and Matt’s farewell into one episode because of logistics or politics or the BBC and I did not like that. Christmas has become the time of the Doctor Who special and also, for that matter, the Downton Abbey special. But I would point out that this years Downton Abbey Christmas special (amazing by the way) never mentions Christmas once and still manages to be festive.

Silence and the Doctor

The Doctor & the Silence make a badass team.

The Time of the Doctor is my least favorite of the past three Doctor Who “of the Doctor” special episodes but it’s still pretty good. It’s still pretty good. A nice farewell.

 The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special

The Day of the Doctor

The Day of the Doctor, on the other hand, is my favorite of the three special episodes. It combines the over-the-top spectacular style of Russell T. Davies and the break-all-the-rules super cool style of Stephen Moffat. To tell you the truth, The Day of the Doctor was one of the best movies of the year. From the opening shot recreated from the first frame of the first episode to the last epic scene.

John Hurt

Except for the leather jacket, he never bothered to change clothes.

John Hurt is excellent as the War Doctor; A no-nonsense warrior who has had enough of killing and centuries of a Time War against the Daleks and decides to end the war in the most brutal way possible; Destroying both sides. Billie Piper is a welcome sight (I miss her since Secret Diary of a Call Girl went off the air) as the weapon of mass destruction with a conscience. And of course David Tennant almost looked like he’d never left.

Mine's Bigger

“Mine’s bigger.”
“Compensating for something?”

My favorite scenes were with all three Doctors. The dynamic between them was incredibly good writing. The way the oldest was the youngest and the youngest was the wisest. The three working together to figure out a way to disintegrate the old wooden door (yeah yeah I know it was open… but it) was a very cool plan.

Bad Wolf

Bad Wolf strikes again.

However, the first scene with all three doctors just made me fucking giddy it was so enjoyable. So many cool lines. So many insults going back and forth. When the War Doctor thinks they’re the Doctor’s companions (“They’re getting younger and younger…”) that was simply amazing because it’s not the companions getting younger (little Amy notwithstanding) It’s the doctors that are getting younger as he tries to hide from what he’s done in blissful innocence. GENIUS. Genius writing, sir. Genius.

Daleks

“The Doctor is surrounded!”

I loved all the references to the past Doctors. From the scarf on Osgood to Lethbridge-Stewart’s grand-daughter (I hated that guy by the way. [She wasn’t that much of a peach either]) to reversing the polarity, to the machine that goes ding, to the items in the Black Archive. I’ve watched the movie three times so far and I still haven’t spotted them all.

Clara, the Doctor and Osgood

You know Osgood wishes she was the doctor’s companion. Some say she represents the fanbase. If so, the glasses and the inhaler are kind of an insult.

Yet by far, the story is the best thing about The Day of the Doctor. A story about the decisions we make when we are younger. And the fantasy of being able to ask our older selves for advice before we make them, being able to see what the decision does to us. The story is awesome.

Doctor Who: Day of the Doctor

The Doctors will see you now.

Sadly, and this is my only problem with it, Billie and David never get to interact. I would have loved it had David just seen her as the user interface, maybe right at the end. Though it probably would have broken my heart… and both of his.

Tom Baker

“Who… nose.”

The Day of the Doctor was fantastic.

The Series Seven Finale

The Name of the Doctor

The Name of the Doctor which begins the “of the Doctor” trilogy is a good piece of Who. The gang gets together to battle the Great Intelligence. An evil, hell bent on destroying the Doctor.. completely. Richard E. Grant is back after playing the part in last years Christmas Special (One of my two favorite Christmas specials) And after centuries thinking about it and increasing its mental capacity, it finds a way. The G.I. finds the Doctor’s grave. It finds Trenzalore. Madame Vastra and the gang are kidnapped and the Doctor must save them.

Gallifrey

A very long time ago… in a galaxy far far away.

The Name of the Doctor starts by showing us the moment our hero steals the Tardis. It has some of the best dialogue of the 7th season. Commander Strax is so funny and Madame Vastra is a badass (Please bring them back) The Doctor has always fluctuated between having no friends and having a lot of friends. After the loss of Amy, this is the Doctor with lots of friends. But the reason he’s shy about having friends is that they are constantly in danger.

The Scooby Gang

The Scooby Gang

We learn why Clara is the Impossible girl and we meet the War Doctor for the first time. I could have done without the “I don’t know where I am.” callback to the Bells of St John. episode, even though Bells is my favorite regular episode of the 7th season (after Asylum of the Daleks). But up until she saves his life (or lives) again and again, he never trusts Clara. He keeps her at arm’s length. I kind of think of her as a transition companion anyway. Not eleven’s companion but twelve’s.

Clara Oswald

Clara “Oswin” Oswald

The episode also closes the book on River Song very nicely. Explaining why, when he knows where she is, he hasn’t visited her in the library computer. He doesn’t like goodbyes. The “of the Doctor” trilogy, all three specials, is just one long goodbye.

River Song

“They wouldn’t bury my wife out here.”

As for the 7th season, I still don’t like the way they broke it up into two separate parts. The Amy & Rory section and the Clara introduction. I loved Amy. (Rory not so much) and I would have preferred a better ending to their time in the Tardis. The Angels Take Manhattan is the worst Doctor Who episode in a very long time. So sloppy. So campy.

Impossible Girl

The Impossible Girl Saves The Day.

In fact, Dinosaurs, Town Called Mercy & Power of Three are all throw-away episodes in my opinion. Throw-away episodes that tease a kind of departure that never happens. I would have loved it if the Doctor and the Ponds had just grown apart. They didn’t have to pull a Rose Tyler (if you know what I mean). It would have been heartbreaking.

Whisper Men

Do you hear the Whispermen? The Whispermen are near. If you hear the Whisper Men, then turn away your ear. Do not hear the Whisper Men, whatever else you do! For once you’ve heard the Whisper Men, they’ll stop…and look at you.

Asylum of the Daleks is so good and starts the 7th season so well. And the 2012 Christmas Special is excellent as well. But the four episodes in between are just out-of-place, Hollywood movie poster inspired, dredge. Amy deserved better, if you ask me. But then Clara comes along and the show gets great again.

Intoducing John Hurt

Introducing John Hurt as NOT the Doctor.

With the exception of Nightmare in Silver, I liked every other episode (or 7B as they call it). Nightmare in Silver didn’t work for me. I love Neil Gaiman’s writing. The Doctor’s Wife is my absolute favorite episode of Doctor Who in the entire run of the show. (Douglas Adams’ 4th Doctor episodes included) but Nightmare in Silver is just disappointing.

Doctor Who - Series 7B

“Disgracefully.”

And have I said yet how much I like Clara. She’s hot. She’s funny. She likes to joke in the face of danger… a lot. She likes to run and she likes to fight. And I love the way she sings her lines. (You didn’t say that. You sang that.) It remains to be seen what the relationship between her and Peter Capaldi’s Doctor will be. I’m sure he won’t be as silly as Matt. He won’t be David’s heroic heart-throb or Eccleston’s cool rebel. It remains to be seen. I don’t know what it will be. But I know it will be fun to watch.

The Doctor is in

“Bow ties are cool. And so am I.”

I don’t know if we’ll ever see a Doctor quite like Matt’s again but I don’t think so. I don’t know how many times Peter Capaldi will drop an F-bomb by mistake while filming but it’ll probably be a lot.

What I do know is that 7 months is way too long of a wait for this machine to go ding.

A Machine That Goes Ding

“It’s a machine that goes ding.”

Ding, damn you. Ding.

I’ll just have to be patient… I guess.

Spoilers?

– Mel

 

Five Favorite Foreign Filmmakers from Five Regions 5/5 (Latin American Edition)

You thought I’d forgotten. Didn’t you.

So far we’ve travelled to Asia, Europe, The UK & Canada

There are only two installments left in my Five Favorite Foreign Filmmakers from Five Regions Series. (For a total of six… don’t ask)

This time out… Latin America (actually, as it turned out, just Mexico & Brazil)

This one was by far the hardest to compile and made me want to drop the thing all together. Latin American Film became Mexico and Brazil by the end. And Robert Rodriguez is not on this list as an American of Mexican decent. However the five directors listed are among the most lyrical and sublime artists in the world.

Let’s just go straight to the list…

Guillermo del Toro (Mexico)Guillermo Del ToroThe first Mexican director on the list is the great Guillermo del Toro and I truly love his movies for their fantastically creative and imaginative detail and the artistry and beauty he brings to his creatures. Pan’s Labryrinth is still one of my favorite films and my favorite of his, but he has proven that he can bring that same creativity to comic book movies like Hellboy or Blade II and horror films and monster movies and more. He’s one of a handful of directors that can get me in the theater with just his name.

Here are 5 perfect Sci-fi, Fantasy & Horror movies 

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Pan's Labyrinth
Hellboy (2004)

Hellboy
Pacific Rim (2013)

Pacific Rim
Blade II (2002)

Blade II
Mimic (1997)

Mimic

Mimic is classic del Toro. Severely under-rated and beautifully horrific. Cockroaches creep me out but after watching this, the little buggers got nothing on me. “You hear that roaches?” Ha ha. Oh my god, you think they heard me?

Alfonso Cuaron (Mexico)Alfonso-CuaronNext up the great Alfonso Cuaron also from Mexico. He is a true storyteller. A visual artist who creates living novels. With Children of Men & Prisoner of Azkaban being two of my favorite adaptations. And whose film Gravity may earn him the Academy Award.

Here are 4 perfectly wonderful films

Y Tu Mamá También (2001)

Y Tu Mama Tambien

Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Harry Potter
Children of Men (2006)

Children-of-Men
Gravity (2013)

Gravity

Gravity may not win the Academy Award for Best Director for Alfonso Cuaron but he will win one of these times out. He just gets better and better.

Walter Salles (Brazil)Walter-SallesThe first Brazilian on the list is one of my favorite directors; the incredible Walter Salles. His adaptations of The Motorcycle Diaries and On The Road are two of my favorite movies and two of my favorite inspirations to create. That I can put on either of these films and paint and write and compose is the best compliment I can give. They make me want to make art. They make me HAVE to make art.

Here are 2 (just two) of the most beautiful things ever recorded on film

The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)The Motorcycle Diaries
On The Road (2012)

On The Road

On The Road is one of my top films from 2012. I can just leave it on in the background and it speaks to me. It says, “Leave something behind when you go.” I miss the road. Some of my best memories are travelling memories. But these days I ain’t going nowhere without my luggage.

Alfonso Arau (Mexico)Alfonso ArauAlfonso Arau is next on the list with his wonderfully passionate films; Like Water For Chocolate and A Walk in the Clouds. Both deliciously romantic and breezily seductive films. But the incredibly sensual Like Water for Chocolate is my favorite by far. These are films to put you in the mood for loving (if you’re a romantic like me). Please excuse the picture of him acting. It’s just such a great shot.

Here are 2 visually romantic cinematic poems that are perfect.

Like Water for Chocolate (1992)Like Water For Chocolate
A Walk in the Clouds (1995)

A Walk in the Clouds

Alfonso Arau makes sexy sexy films.

Fernando Meirelles  (Brazil)

Fernando MeirellesThe last director on the list is also Brazilian. Fernando Meirelles takes us away from Science Fiction and Adaptation toward hardcore and serious drama. City of God, a film that blew me away with its honest and unflinching look at the gangs of the lawless suburb of Rio de Janeiro, is not for the faint of heart.

Here is one incredibly powerful film.

City of God (2002)

City of God

City of God is so good. And so fucked up.

city_of_godAnd so that was our little film trip south to Brazil & Mexico. All of these movies (except for Gravity) are available to rent or stream. I recommend them all.There is a lot of entertainment on this page. Some with subtitles and some in English but all amazing.

Infact, I recommend all of the films from this series.

To recap… The five regions I covered ended up being Asia, Europe, the UKCanada & Latin America but there were five directors left that did not fit in any of these regions. From Africa, Russia, Australia. So I stretched it to six installments and that very list is coming soon. The five great directors that were left but would not be left behind.

Rules were made to be broken.

That’s right. Last in this series of five: Chapter Six… The Rest of the World.

Go rent some movies.

– Mel

7 Quick Reviews of 7 DVDs Nov/Dec (Bad Movie Edition)

The past two months have been a constant barrage of bad DVDs being pelted at me from all sides. I usually don’t bother with the bad ones if I can find 5 movies with something to offer the audience (my readers) or if there’s a little hype and I have something to say about it then I’m fine, but these are bad movies (four of them are horrible). So I waited and I waited for something good to come to go with these and found one but before I could post it, I got hit with another.

So here are 4 terrible movies, one good one, one weird one, and one other one.

To the list…

Literally.

The To Do List (CBS Films)

The-To-Do-List

Written & Directed by Maggie Carey

Starring Aubrey Plaza, Johnny Simmons, Bill Hader, Scott Porter, Alia Shawkat, Rachel Bilson, Christopher Mintz-PlasseAndy SambergConnie Britton & Clark Gregg

The To Do List is supposedly the female equivalent to the raunchy, male, coming-of-age sex movie. You know the ones I mean. The nerd who wants to lose his virginity before college sets out to find the one woman who will sleep with him.

<3 her

Aubrey Plaza is the nerd in question. The one who wants desperately to lose her virginity. PROBLEM: Aubrey Plaza is hot as fuck and would have absolutely no problem (is there a sign-up sheet?) finding someone to do her. So she makes a list of all the sexy things she wants to do before college. Having no idea about anything sexual, she just lists things she heard about and proceeds to check them off one by one. End. Roll credits.

The To Do List is rarely funny. There are maybe two or three good laughs. And it has no message. Even the most raunchy coming of age films hit the audience with a message at the end.

Bill Hader and Rachel Bilson

I loved the casting in this movie. Loved all of these people in other things but The To Do List just wasn’t that good. Personally, I think National Lampoon would have done it better, with a big-breasted playmate pretending to be a bookish virgin and having sexual misadventures while hapless boys follow her like puppies. With no message, no moral, a great cast and a well-meaning gender flip on the raunchy coming-of-age theme, it felt like a waste of my time in the end.

Butt

“This is what I think of your review.”

There was just nothing new here.

Skip it. (It was fun to see Aubrey doing sexy things but not if she’s playing a teenager. She’s 30 for fuck’s sake)

Next on the chopping block…

The Heat (20th Century Fox)

The Heat

Directed by Paul Feig

Written by Katie Dippold

Starring Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demián Bichir, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Jane Curtin, Dan Bakkedahl, Taran Killam & Michael McDonald

The Heat is yet another movie with no idea what it wants to do with its extremely likeable stars. Thinking that just having likeable stars is enough of an idea for a movie. But it is not. The Heat is bad.

Sandra and Melissa

There are continuity problems galore, like when they allow Melissa McCarthy to improvise and they end up using part of one take and part of another take and maybe part of a third and the props go back to earlier positions. It looks like a sloppy student film with mega stars.

Bullock and McCarthy

Much of the script appears to be written on set. Not just the improvising but the plot as well. This is bad filmmaking. Judd Apatow has proven that it is the best practice to let funny people improv a line reading but not an entire scene. Because nothing is the same from shot to shot.

Sandy and Mel

Especially when Melissa McCarthy is playing with the scenery. She is very funny. She outshines Sandra Bullock. (And I like Sandra a lot) but it looks like they just pointed the camera at her and wrote a film around whatever she ended up doing. I can’t stand sloppy filmmaking. This is the sloppiest major film I’ve seen in a long time.

"This is what I think of your review."

“This is what I think of your review.”

Skip it. (It’s not worth the few chuckles it manages to elicit)

Next victim…

The World’s End (Universal Pictures, Focus Features)

the-worlds-end-poster

Directed by Edgar Wright

Written by Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg

Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan & Rosamund Pike

The World’s End is a bad idea, badly executed and hard to watch. I have seen buddy comedies that turn into alien invasions before but Done… Much… Better.

The-Worlds-End

I usually like Edgar Wright but it is painfully obvious that they phoned this shit end. There’s no script and no jokes. The characters are unlikable and the premise is for crap. And by the time the aliens come, I’m rooting for them to kill these awful, awful people.

worlds-end

The World’s End is chock full of plot holes and theme-holes and the robots go from hard to kill, to easy to kill, back to hard. The robots are fragile porcelain dolls and then are menacing terminators from one scene to the next.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

The movie starts with what feels like an hour long description of a night that epitomizes the phrase “You had to be there.” We should have been there. Instead of having it described to us for soooo long. And then at the end we get (((SPOILER ALERT))) some pollyanna, bring-back-the-dead crap that makes absolutely no sense. Not only did they all just blow up in front of us but right after that EVERYTHING blew up. This, mind you, is moments before they bring them all back. You can’t take that shit back, man.

Simon Pegg

“This is what I think of your review.”

This is what really bad writing looks like. The World’s End is a joke of a movie from people I used to respect. What a waste of time.

Skip it. (Go rent Hot Fuzz & Shawn of The Dead. Edgar & Simon have let us all down)

This next one’s not that bad actually…

The Lifeguard (Screen Media Films)

The-Lifeguard

Written & Directed by Liz W. Garcia

Starring Kristen Bell & David Lambert

The Lifeguard is good for what it is. It’s the low-budget, well-written but poorly directed story of a woman in early life crisis. Much like in The World’s End, the main character returns to her hometown to relive her glory days. But in this one, she starts a romance with an underaged boy.

Lifeguard Romance

This is not a comedy but it’s also not too heavy a drama. It is the right amount of whimsy and sexy and preachy. I liked it. The problem with The Lifeguard is with the pacing and the editing. It is just so badly directed. The performances are adversely effected by it. And like with most writers directing their own scripts, the actors are allowed to just recite the words. It’s not bad acting, it’s bad directing.

Kristen-Bell is The Lifeguard

This is Kristen, thinking about my review.

So I liked the story. I liked the dialogue. I liked the actors. But the editing, the pacing, the performances and the camera work each at times made me want to turn the movie off. But in the end, it is a decent presentation of a good script. Now if someone would just make a good movie out of it you’d have something worth watching.

Skip it. (Kristen Bell’s body is the best thing about the movie)

Let’s keep the shit parade going…

The Family (Relativity Media)

the-family-movie-poster

Directed by Luc Besson

Written by Luc Besson & Michael Caleo Based on Malavita by Tonino Benacquista

Starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dianna Agron, Tommy Lee Jones & John D’Leo

I wanted to like The Family but it never really got off the ground. You spend most of the movie waiting for the shootout.

Film Title: The Family

The two kids were pretty cool and I wish they had concentrated more on their High School high jinx. But for most of the film the characters are over the top and almost cartoonish versions of the mob family. There were quite a few Bugs Bunny moments.

Bobby

“Come here. Let me show you what I think about your review.”

And The Family is not very funny. Robert De Niro is fantastic in comedies but is not even likeable in this. Michelle Pfeiffer is very good in other things as well, but she is a cartoon character in this one. The kids were truly the only sympathetic characters and I was left wishing it were a young adult film about the mob kids. Bring on the mob kids movie.

Skip it. (There are a lot of funny mob movies. This is not one of them)

And now for something good…

Despicable Me 2 (Universal Pictures)

Despicable Me 2

Directed by Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud

Written by Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio

Starring Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Cosgrove, Elsie Fisher, Dana Gaier, Russell Brand, Steve Coogan & Ken Jeong

This is a fun and funny movie. Just pure joy to watch. A great fucking family film.

despicable-me-2-minions

I love this movie. I think I smiled all the way through it. It’s a good story. Good characters. A nice romance. A great adventure. So much cute. (It’s so Fluffy!!!) The Minions are awesome.

Despicable-me-2

Steve Carell is great. Kristen Wiig is fantastic. A really good animated sequel. With good music. Pharrell Williams supplies some original music to each scene. Matching the music style with the theme of the scene.

Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig

“I think he likes us.”

Despicable Me 2 is a very entertaining animated feature.

Rent it. (Fun for all ages. I had a huge smile on my face the entire time)

Last but not least something… very weird…

Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons (Edko Films, Magnet Releasing)

Journey to the West

Written & Directed by Stephen Chow & Derek Kok

Based on the novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en.

Starring Huang Bo, Shu Qi, Wen Zhang, Show Luo & Chrissie Chau

First thing I thought after finishing Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons was that Stephen Chow had lost his damn mind. But then after finding out that it is loosely based on a Chinese classic novel, I gave him some slack. His movies have always been zany and madcap and just this side of cartoonish but Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons is just so weird.

Journey

Conquering the Demons is the story of competing demon hunters, the demons they hunt & The Buddha. It is so crazy I couldn’t describe it without charts and diagrams. There’s not a lot of martial arts. A few fighting fight scenes but mostly wire stuff & super powers. Infact, the special effects are not the best I’ve seen but the story is well worth the ride for the fairy tale imagery and the love story and the wacky demons and hunters.Demon Fish

I wished Stephen Chow would do a serious film while watching this; probably the wackiest thing he’s ever done (and that’s saying a lot). I would love to see his character study in a drama. He tells great stories and right beside the slapstick, is always real emotion.

My Girl

Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons is just so very strange. It is surprisingly religious at times and even a little scary at others but in the end it is a good story in a really silly package… with subtitles and superheroes.

Monkey King

“Weird? I’ll show you weird. Have at you!”

Rent it. (But do not rent it unless you are ready for the weird and the wonderful)

So to recap…

There were two movies about young love (meaning sex): The To Do List & The Lifeguard. Neither very good.

There were two movies about a family of bad guys trying to be good: The Family & Despicable Me 2. The first not so good. The other probably my pick for Best Animated Feature of the year.

There were two movies about funny people who don’t get along very well but fight evil together anyway: The World’s End & The Heat. Both pretty fucking bad. I mean really fucking bad.

And one movie in a class by itself: Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons. That may have given me nightmares but I’m not saying.

And that’s it.

I got a lot of year end folder cleaning to do. So there should be a bunch of posts in a row. (I found the Latin American Directors list. That’s up next)

So I’ll see you guys in a few hours.

– Mel

5 Quick Reviews of 5 Movies on DVD Nov/Dec

I’ve gotten a little behind on my review folder so there should be another post coming soon. This time out we have 4 action films (Superheroes, Martial Arts & Science Fiction) and one biopic. The schizophrenic biography of a porn classic.

Let’s get right to it…

To the reviews

First up another stab at a Wolverine solo movie.

The Wolverine 2013 (20th Century Fox)

The Wolverine

Directed by James Mangold
Written by Mark Bomback & Scott Frank
Based on Wolverine by Chris Claremont & Frank Miller
Starring Hugh Jackman, Tao OkamotoRila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Will Yun Lee, Haruhiko Yamanouchi, Brian Tee & Famke Janssen

This is a really good comic book movie. This is what it’s like when the filmmakers respect the source material.

Wolverine without Adamantium

The Wolverine 2013 is a lot like the Wolverine comic. Complete w/ ninjas, that remarkable calm before each storm and another doomed romance. I owned these books back when I was a collector. I like this story.

Wolverine and Yukio

I love this movie. This is how a comic book movie should be made.

Wolverine & Viper

There are epic battles against Ninjas and Yakuza and Evil Mutants and an epilogue that serves as a prologue to the next X-Men movie. This is a great film.

Rent it (I’ll be buying it. Definitely re-watchable)

Next up

Elysium (TriStar Pictures)

Elysium

Written & Directed by Neill Blomkamp
Starring Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura & William Fichtner

Elysium suffers from a sloppy story that veers off in odd directions. A great premise but some bad writing.

Jodie Foster

I wanted to like this movie so much. I love Neill Blomkamp’s other film; District 9, but Elysium is a swing and a miss his second time out. Jodie Foster is amazing as always, acting in both languages (I love when she pulls out her French) but honestly, at this point, it would be strange if she weren’t amazing. Ms Foster brings 100% every time out.

Damon & Foster

I would have preferred for her and Matt to have had more scenes together. I would have added a comm link between the two for a little trash talking as she tries to capture him. You have two sensational actors and they don’t play off each other. What a waste.

Matt Damon

Elysium has a good message about the direction the world is taking and Matt Damon is fantastic but it’s a bad execution of a great idea. I think I wanted more from this film. Good effects. Good premise. It’s just lacking in focus.

Rent it (There are good things here. Good performances etc. Just don’t expect too much)

Next up… a sequel?

Kick-Ass 2 (Universal Pictures)

Kick-Ass 2

Written & Directed by Jeff Wadlow
Based on Kick-Ass 2 and Hit-Girl by Mark Millar & John Romita, Jr.
Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Christopher Mintz-PlasseChloë Grace MoretzJim Carrey

I would have preferred Kick-Ass 2 had just been a Hit-Girl movie. She was the only truly badass character from the first movie. She should have gotten her own film.

Hit-Girl

Kick-Ass 2 is about the formation of a justice league type superhero group. But the only good thing about the movie is Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s supervillain; The Mother Fucker. I love that guy. McLovin is the shit. And in this he’s mostly silly but still the best thing in the movie.

Kick Ass, Hit-Girl & The Mother Fucker

The writing and directing of Kick-Ass 2 is very bad. It is awful. And at times the screenplay borrows scenes from other, better films. There is a scene stolen directly from Ferris Beuller’s Day Off where Hit-Girl is trying to get home before her guardian and way too much of the dialogue is lifted from other things, other movies, better movies. It’s lazy writing. It’s lazy filmmaking. And then there is this wholly unnecessary vomiting and diarrhea scene in a High School cafeteria. This is a bad movie.

The Justice League

And except for McLovin, it’s not even that funny. Not even interesting. There are a couple of “kind of” cool fight scenes… kind of cool. Jim Carrey is underutilized (he’s still an underrated actor in my opinion) and (THIS IS IMPORTANT) Sharks have to move to breathe. (That’s right I said it). The shark’s tank is too small. The shark is dead. The joke would have been better with Piranhas. Kick-Ass 2 is just too silly and too dumb.

"Are you saying you didn't like it? Cause I don't like what I'm hearing."

“Are you saying you didn’t like it? Cause I don’t like what I’m hearing.”

The movie is crap.

Skip it (There is very little of substance here that isn’t silly, stupid or disgusting)

Next up… a drama… no explosions.

Lovelace (Millennium Films)

Lovelace

Directed by Rob Epstein and also by Jeffrey Friedman
Written by Andy Bellin
Starring Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, Adam Brody & Juno Temple

Lovelace is a film that means well. It has a great cast that give fine performances, including Sharon Stone, Peter Sarsgaard & a sensational James Franco cameo as a young Hugh Hefner. Headed, of course, by Amanda Seyfried at her best, it tries to show both sides of the always sleazy and sometimes sordid story of the most famous porn film in history.

Lovelace & Hef

Lovelace starts off by showing us the industry’s (and her ex-husband’s) claim; that the experience wasn’t as bad as Linda Lovelace tells in her bio and then it switches abruptly to show her version of the story. Obviously a lot truer than theirs but there was no need to separate them.

Peter Sarsgaard & Amanda Seyfried

I don’t know if they had to do this because they feared lawsuits but it was a bad choice.

Amanda Seyfried

Why they didn’t just put all the scenes together in a linear timeline (because they don’t overlap much at all). So that her version and their version can share the screen at the same time. A better director (there are two here) could have made a sensational biopic out of the footage they have,

Peter & Amanda

But what they end up with is this half porn industry cinderella tale, half porn industry horror story, cautionary tale. Lovelace feels ham-fisted from both sides (yes I did that on purpose). The directors try too hard to separate the two accounts and end up with two disparate versions of a confusing story.

Rent it (For the performances but really nothing else)

And lastly… something good.

Man of Tai Chi (Universal Pictures)

Man of Tai Chi

Directed by Keanu Reeves
Written by Michael G. Cooney
Starring Keanu Reeves, Tiger Chen, Karen Mok, Simon Yam & Iko Uwais

Man of Tai Chi is a fun movie that’s a bit of a throwback to the classic mainstream Hong Kong martial arts films of the past.

Tiger Chen

First of all it’s half in English, even to the point where in the middle of a sentence they’ll just start speaking English. It reminded me a lot of the old Jackie Chan films or the ones with the British bad guy who speaks English but the good guys speak Chinese.

Man of Tai Chi Tiger-Chen

Second, Man of Tai Chi is about a martial arts tournament where our hero enters but no one believes he has a chance to win because of his chosen discipline, in this case, Tai Chi, thought of as more of a meditation and an exercise than a martial style.

Tai Chi

Third it’s about a school/temple that is falling apart and a teacher with only one student (our hero, whose teacher does not want him to fight) trying to rebuild it on his own.

And lastly it’s about a separate underground, no rules, illegal tournament run by the evil & wealthy, but really evil Keanu Reeves, who also directs the film, and the Hong Kong cops who are hot on its trail. I’ve totally seen this movie before.

Teacher and Student

Because Man of Tai Chi has all the makings of a classic Hong Kong martial arts movie and it’s a lot of fun, I recommend it. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. Keanu is a decent director (and like I said it’s paint by numbers Hong Kong action). It has a great message about the balance between Chi and Meditation, between Flow and Power. There are some really good fights. A couple of epic battles and a bunch of great tournament fights showing different brutal MMA type styles against Tai Chi.

Man of Tai Chi Fight

I don’t know how accurate or authentic these fights are but they are well-choreographed. Not too much wire work from the great Yuen Wo Ping, and it’s a good story. Although even after the movie, I still don’t know how long Tai Chi would last in an authorized tourney or an MMA style underground tourney. But it’s a really good movie.

Rent it (especially if you’re a Kung Fu instructor and your name is Alex. You, my friend will love it)

And that’s all we have for this time. There was…

"I am an old man. I cannot wait for the recap. Please do it now."

“I am an old man. I cannot wait for the recap. Please do it now.”

Okay, old man.

So to recap…

There were two movies based on comics; The Wolverine and Kick-Ass 2. One of them very good, the other not so much. It sucked.

There were two movies with stellar all-star casts; Elysium and Lovelace. Both of them worth a watch but neither live up to its casting.

And one Martial Arts film; Man of Tai Chi. That doesn’t take itself too seriously while paying homage to the Hong Kong classics.

I will probably be back in a couple of days with another five DVDs. There were a lot of new releases that I missed, A lot of big comedies I need to watch. And miles to go before I sleep.

Until next time.

See you at the movies,

– Mel

 

Jupiter Ascending (Trailer)

The Wachowskis are the masters of Sci Fi.

There I said it.

This looks interesting.

It will probably be overwrought with spirituality and complicated by duality (Mila Kunis plays two parts).

But the summer release is a good sign.

The cast is decent and attractive.

The effects look sensational.

I don’t know much about it but I trust The Wachowskis with my money… blindly.

Summer 2014

– Mel