LOGAN: The Death of the Comic Book Movie (The Birth of the Comic Book Genre)

This is not a review, in the ordinary sense of the word. No, this is a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of Art, a kick in the pants of Gods, X-Men, Destiny, Time, Love, Storm, Rogue, Beauty… Comic Books.

Logan: The Death of a the Comic Book Movie (The Birth of the Comic Book Genre)

…Or this is just me rambling on about movies and comic books as usual.

Logan (20th Century Fox)

Directed by James Mangold

Written by Scott Frank, James Mangold & Michael Green

Starring Hugh JackmanPatrick StewartRichard E. GrantBoyd HolbrookStephen Merchant & Dafne Keen

“I get the feeling this review is gonna hurt, kid. The kind of pain that doesn’t heal. You know what I mean?” “Of course I do. I’m extraordinarily wise for a lab experiment… oh yeah and I can drive.”

Make no mistake, people. Logan is not a good film. It’s not a good superhero film or a good western. Even as it tries to compare its own shit writing to the classic western Shane (SACRILEGE!!!), it is not a good movie, period. But what it is, what Logan turns out to be, is the latest in a welcome trend. A regular movie that just happens to star a comic book superhero. Not a superhero movie. Not a comic book movie. There are comic books in the movie. Wolverine waves them around from time to time, if that helps to put the character in context. But that’s about it. And it does not.

“You see, in this reality they made us into comic book superheroes for their kids but still hunted us down like dogs… because that makes total sense.”

Wolverine, everyone’s favorite X-Man, has had three solo movies. The first and the third have been complete bullshit. The second, however, is one of my favorite comic book movies of all-time. The second Wolverine is an homage to his stand alone title. It is a perfect replica. The pacing. The cinematography. This is The Wolverine. This is the comic that I collected from issue ONE. I say this all the time and I will say it here again. “If you do not respect the source material do not take on the job of bringing it to the screen.” But I was about to tell you what this awful movie Logan means for the industry.

“Awful? Well that’s just harsh. Play that Johnny Cash song again. I think I’m gonna cry.””

The first sci-fi genre was a straight space adventure. Trip To The Moon. The second was The vampire Film. Nosferatu. Since those two, we’ve had tons of space adventures and tons of takes on the vampire. These are tried and true genres that once every decade somebody tries to reinvent and breathe new life into. But also there are other types of movies that aren’t as flexible. They come and go from era to era. They disappear and have resurgences. Like the western or the gladiator movie. These are just types of movies not genres. (in this context anyway. Because words can be tricky)

“I will kill you all with my Star Wars Prequel Yoda-like, physics defying, aerial acrobatics because I am a cartoon character in a serious movie!!! ARRRGH!!!”

In the past, the superhero movie was a type. (type vs genre) It was a costumed adventure. Fight the bad guy. Save the girl. Save the world. Period. End of story. There were a few comedy bits thrown in but mostly it was the superhero’s tale. But these types of movies are coming to an end. Their time has passed. Logan is not a comic book movie. It just happens to star a character from a comic book. And that is awesome. (Even while the movie Logan is not that awesome).

“Say my movie is bad one more time. I dare you… Bub.” *snikt

Logan is not a western either, by the way. I read that somewhere. I disagree whole-heartedly. It thinks it’s a western, but it’s not. If anything it’s a post-apocalyptic survival story like Mad Max: Fury Road. But instead of a global apocalypse, Logan is about the mutant apocalypse. The chase to hunt down the last mutants. At the start of this movie all but three mutants are dead. Professor X, Callaban and Wolverine. By the end of this movie… no spoilers but everywhere you look people are saying this is the last Wolverine movie. This is the last Wolverine movie. So you figure it out. And don’t talk to me about the kids. They were made in a lab (*see note). So not a natural mutation. Logan, the end of the Wolverine franchise, is some dark stuff.

*note: Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton was added in a lab but his mutation, his healing factor (Deadpool has the same thing but that too is from a lab) and Wolverine’s heightened senses (smell mostly) are a natural mutation. Of course the movie Logan all but ignores his sense of smell. It’s almost like the writers never read the comic books… but anyway. What was I saying? Oh yes.

“Wolverine, would you please tell Mel to stay on topic.” “He doesn’t listen to me, Professor.”

The comic book superhero is officially a film genre and not a type of movie now. And I know I’m not using the right words but bear with me. Because the word genre can fit for both of these categories of things and it gets confusing. The way I’m differentiating here is in the ways they can be presented. Some film types are the same no matter what. Different plot. Different characters. But you know the beats. Romantic Comedy. You get the gist. International Spy Thriller. You know what you’re going to get. Gladiator films changed from Roman to Martial Arts but they generally stayed the same. The Comic Book Movie was just like that not too long ago. Dark or Light. Marvel or DC. Nolan’s Batman, Donner’s Superman, Whedon’s Avengers and Raimi’s Spiderman are all the same fucking films. Like the western. It was a box. You could throw whatever superhero you wanted into it and the beats would always be generally the same. I’m not saying they are all the same quality because they are not. And there’s nothing wrong with opening up a box, knowing what you’re going to get and still being pleasantly surprised. It’s hard to like movies unless you’re okay with that.

“Wait… Are you the vampire, Callaban? And does that make me the Zombie? I don’t get it.”

But then you have the full on classic genre that’s not beholding to any style. Vampires. Are probably the best example. There are no rules. You can have a space opera with vampires. You can have a rom com with vampires or a western. Most recently Zombies have become the go to for putting them wherever the fuck you want. If you made a section of vampire movies it would make no sense. There would actually be more types of movies than you could shake a stick at under the vampire genre. Comic book superheroes are now officially crossing into that zone. And I’m psyched. The R rated comic book film with no crime to fight, no world to save… fuck yeah.

“Did somebody call for a super-villain? That isn’t really super or necessarily a villain. Just a misguided corporate stooge who blindly follows orders. Did somebody call for a misguided corporate stooge who blindly follows orders?”

And again I’m talking Sherlock Holmes in space type shit. Not just some detective. I’m talking about recognizable comic book superheroes in all kinds of movie boxes. Not just some generic superhero they made up that’s supposed to remind us of stuff from the comics, but the name-brand heroes from the comics. It’s time for a Batman movie where he never puts on the cape. Just a detective story or a revenge tale. One of my favorite aspects of The Hulk movie (still my favorite comic book adaptation) is the romance between Liv Tyler and Ed Norton. And that’s what the Hulk was for me when I was a kid, a romance. Stop trying to make him into a superhero. He’s not a superhero. He’s a monster in love. Spider-man as a teen drama would be nice. Sure he’s still the spider-man but that’s not the movie. The movie is about a kid trying to finish high school. Stop it with the super-villains. Enough already. We get it.

“Logan, do you remember that Star Trek episode where Captain Picard has a full life and grows old in a simulated tribute to an alien species?” “No I didn’t watch that nerd crap.” “I wish that was what this was. Because this movie is depressing as fuck.”

So anyway, what Logan represents to me is the death of the comic book movie. We saw the beginnings in Winter Soldier… that’s more of a spy thriller than comic book. And Deadpool… an R rated fourth wall comedy, a parody of itself. The comic book movie as movie type, is burning itself out. There will still be tons made, because you know how it takes Hollywood a couple of decades before they get the point, but we’re already getting tired of them. Bring on the comic book heroes in regular movies. These are great classic characters. They don’t have to fight The Riddler every week. That’s just their job. It doesn’t have to also be the movie plot.

“Here Lies The Superhero Movie Genre… I mean Movie Type… May It Rest In Peace… I mean Pieces. – Hugh Jackman.”

So Logan, this mediocre, unbelievably corny and poorly written take on The Wolverine, really wasn’t that great of a movie from where I was sitting (seat L10 right behind the wheelchair section because, you know, leg room ftw). Even though Hugh Jackman is great as Wolverine, here he reminded me of Arnold Schwarzenegger coming back to play the Terminator one last time… nostalgic. And to tell the truth, I didn’t see Wolverine in Logan at all. I saw the actor who plays Wolverine and a character with claws who references the comic books like that’s enough. That’s not enough.

“Daddy?” “Yes Laura… wait. Did you just call me daddy? Damn, maybe Mel is right. This is some corny ass shit.” “I have to go to the bathroom.” “Hold it. We’re almost there.” “AARRRRGH!!” “Really? Again with the screaming?”

But what I also saw, in the theater, and on the screen, is what it means for comic book movies going forward… a whole new set of rules. The possibilities are endless. Creativity run amok. And that shit was better than the movie. That shit was beautiful.

– Mel

The Comic Book Movie is dead.

Long Live the Comic Book Genre.

7 Times A Movie Saved My Life

Under the heading of Things That Make Me Happy:

On this blog I like to talk about movies, list the things that I like, and talk about myself & my life in embarrassing detail. This is one of those posts.

Typewriter

I was thinking about movies that represented important times in my life. That not just reminded me of those times, but that affected, informed, reflected and transformed those times into some of my life’s most important moments.

These are movies that (figuratively) saved my life.

To the list…

Raider of the Lost Ark (1981)

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Firstly, the movies were an escape:

To escape.

I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark EVERY DAY for several months. Two, sometimes three times a night. After school, instead of going home, I stayed at the movie theater and watched Indiana Jones take on the Nazis over and over again. Sometimes I paid, sometimes I didn’t pay at all. Those days you could hang out near the exit and walk in as people walked out. But I wasn’t about to go home.

Where doesn't it hurt?

“Dammit, Mel where doesn’t it hurt?”

I knew every word.

I hid at the theater, the way Indy hides on that cargo ship.

“There’s a place for you in the hold. Go my friend. Go.”

Indy

Fear is a horrible thing.

“WHAT ABOUT JONES?”

“Jones is dead. I killed him. Herr Colonel, that cargo you’ve taken, if it’s your gold, go in peace with it but leave us the girl. She will reduce our loss on this trip.”

“Savages! We will take what we want and then decide whether or not to blow your ship from the water.”

Top Men

We’re just gonna store this one away and forget about it.

Seriously though, I know every word, every sound, every note. Raiders of the Lost Ark is my happy place. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Top Secret (1984)

Top Secret

To get over a bad break-up.

Val Kilmer in an over-the-top Airplane style comedy. Several jokes per second. Pure silliness. Insanely funny. But more than that. My first break-up.

Sun Tan

This one’s simple. I was 17. I’d just broken up with my first real girlfriend. I’d never felt such pain in my life. No, wait. That’s not true. I had felt pain like that. But it was when I was a kid. I didn’t know what caused it. Non-physical pain hardly really registers with children. Because there’s nothing physical to blame. No fall. No sprain. I couldn’t blame anything for that heavy, empty feeling in my heart. That crushing feeling is a mystery pain to a child.

So, with the first girl, the first hand, the first time someone reached into my chest, pulled my heart out and broke it in front of me, it wasn’t just that very pain. And that very cause. It wasn’t just her. No. Getting my heart-broken finally helped me to realize that it had been feeling like that all along. It was the rejection. That’s what that was. The feeling you get when someone you love treats you like something they scraped off the bottom of their shoes. Finally I was able to identify the feeling I was feeling.

Hello

It was a lot to put on one girl. I should have thanked her for opening my mind to the realization of all the pain I’ve ever felt. I didn’t realize I’d been in pain the entire time. And it destroyed my image of the world like the crumpled photograph of the forgotten lover. I couldn’t breathe and a part of me didn’t want to anymore.

So, as I do, I went walking.

This is a recurring theme. I walk when I’m in pain. Like running away from my problems but slower. I’m a walker. This one time I walked to the multiplex – a theater with six or more tiny theaters contained within – and I bought a ticket for Top Secret. I loved Airplane and The Kentucky Fried Movie. I love that silly stuff. I sat there in the theater crying through the coming attractions… in the dark.

Boots

By the middle of the film I was crying on the floor with laughter. Laughing my ass off so hard my sides hurt more than my heart. It is one of the silliest movies ever made. So many visual jokes. So much zany. So much funny.

There’s a point during pain when you think it may never cease. No matter how many times pain has come and gone away. THIS time… This time it’s moving in for good. But then a movie (or a song) just blows that theory out of the water. You’re singing. You’re dancing. You’re still inside the pain but the laughter has shoved it over to the side and made room for pleasure. Room to smile again.

How Silly

I can’t say Top Secret is one of my favorite movies but it is a movie that saved my life.

“How silly can you get?”

Barton Fink (1991)

Barton Fink

To make the writey things BLAH

Speaking of things that feel like they will never end. Writer’s block is one of those “Oh my god. This isn’t going away” type things. One of my worst bouts was after getting notes from a severely demanding “producer” (I use that term loosely) and then getting to a point where I couldn’t see the words. They weren’t even words. They were just shapes on a page. Have you ever felt like that? Like words aren’t words just letters. And it’s all just shapes on a page that make no sense. That these so called words are in a language that you do not understand. Only to come to the realization that you also think in that stupid language. Your thoughts are also in that same alien gibberish that you don’t understand. And communication no good think fuck words… WALK.

The Fink Feel

So I walk. I find myself on the street. Walking it out. Walking it out. I lived down in the village at this time. I use the term lived loosely. I went through several homeless phases in my life. From homeless teen to homeless artist to homeless drug addict to chronic homeless to homeless mental patient. This was the artist phase. (I use that term loosely) They put me up in a hotel with a typewriter and nothing else. And I drank. And I wrote.

I made something I was proud of until… More producers. More notes. More changes. More stress. I walked. I walked past the Cinema Village Theater; an artsy multiplex on 11th or 12th street. I said to myself, “I will see the next movie starting.”

Barton

It was Barton Fink. I wouldn’t lie to you. I didn’t even know what that was. Didn’t know the Coen Brothers. I’d seen Raising Arizona but that’s it. At least with Top Secret I knew what I was getting into. I loved Airplane. I knew it was a comedy. I knew that it was just what I needed. But this one, I walked into blind. I didn’t know a damn thing about it. Nothing.

And it too was just what I needed. Barton Fink is a movie about writer’s block. The main character suffers from it. Everyone in his world has a debilitating frustration with communication… and it is marvelous. You have to love the universe’s sense of humor.

Barton Fink Hotel Room

Some turn to drink. Some turn to murder. Some put their names on other people’s work. Each character deals with it a different way. Not being able to find the right words is maddening. And not just for writers but salespeople, professionals, professors, executives, executors, etc., etc.

Fink

Barton Fink was the first time I saw the genius of the Coen Brothers. A film written by two of my favorite screenwriters when they were blocked while writing another of my favorite films; Miller’s Crossing. They used it as a way to work out of their… their own… what’s the word? (the word is BLAH).

I do this thing now that I’m pretty pleased with. When I can’t find the word I’m looking for in a reasonable amount of time, I put BLAH (all caps) in its place and move on. I don’t even think about it. When I go over what I’ve written an hour or two later, the word I wanted is immediately apparent. It hasn’t failed me yet. (Now that I’ve said that, I’m going to reopen a file and it’s going to read blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah. Serves me right for jinxing it)

Life of the mind

Barton Fink is one of my all-time favorite movies. Not just because it helped me out of a sticky situation and I left that theater and went back to my tiny hotel room and re-wrote the best thing I’d ever re-written in my life into something barely recognizable as my own. But I still pull that movie off the shelf when I’m having trouble with the letter thingies. The little letter thingies. Because it’s also a really good movie. Really really really really good.

“I’ll show you the life of the mind!”

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Reservoir Dogs

To work out my post-incarceration aggression

It was the first thing I did when I got out of jail. I went to the movies. It’s what I do. I couldn’t walk. I was too angry. I had to rest my sore leg on the back of the seat in front of me. The theater was crowded but nobody said shit to me. Reservoir Dogs was playing. And I laughed through the entire thing. Especially the torture scene (think De Niro in Cape Fear). It was exactly what I needed. Exactly. what. I. needed.

"You're welcome."

“You’re welcome.”

During one of my homeless stints, I carried my belongings in a backpack. This time out it was mostly books. But I had one of those packs that distributed the weight from your shoulders to your waist. It was still quite a workout. I read books on writing. Books on Buddhism. Books I loved. I would read them and I would sell them. During the day I would go to the illegal flea market and set up a store to sell my books while I played my guitar.

Mr Blonde

It was not illegal to sell books (something to do with the first amendment). So whenever the cops would come and close us down, I would calmly pack up my books and leave. But for some reason, this last time, an officer decided to walk over to my “store” and stand on top of my books so that I couldn’t pick them up. I tried to work around his boots until; finally I said politely, “Excuse me sir you’re standing on my books?”

Well that did it. How dare I be polite. He grabbed me and slammed me to the pavement. Yelling at me to stop struggling (I wasn’t). To stop fighting him ( I wasn’t) Soon there were five officers on my back. Twisting my arms. My neck. But the last one; A female officer who was standing and watching and being admonished for not joining into the abuse. She had to prove herself I suppose. She grabbed one of my legs and twisted it until my patella snapped and I screamed bloody murder. And they all laughed. They had destroyed my knee. Two surgeries later, it has never fully healed. And they laughed. And arrested me.

Tortore Scene

I was complying. I was leaving. Selling books isn’t illegal. And I asked the officer politely to not stand on my books so that I could remove them. Judge said that when I called them MY books it was an admission of guilt. Guilty of what you might ask? Guilty of placing books on the sidewalk. They beat me. Destroyed my knee. Arrested me. And stole my beautiful backpack… basically my home. They handed me back my books in a plastic bag after a weekend in jail. They treated me like I was subhuman and I could do nothing.

I got out of jail and went to a theater. What else? I went to see Reservoir Dogs.

Harvey Keitel

“You shoot anybody?”
“Just cops.”
“So, no REAL people?”

It was cathartic. Even the torture scene. I left the theater singing…

“Don’t know why I came here tonight.”

I know exactly why.

I had never been more in the mood for violence. It was dangerous. Reservoir Dogs helped me through that. Sometimes you just have to see cops being tortured and shot to feel like a human being again after being treated like an animal.

Cop

I don’t hate cops. I hate the way that when one of them is a menace, and shouldn’t be wearing a badge, the others have to join in with the abuse of authority because that’s their code. I don’t hate the woman who destroyed my knee. I wish she were stronger and more able to resist her peer’s pressure. Or at least I wish she would have stopped before… before the crunch. She was aiming for that crunch by the way. She had set out to do what she did. Destroy my knee. She was trying to impress her peers. “You think you can abuse this guy. I’m gonna make him limp for the rest of his life.” I don’t even hate the cop who walked on my books… not much anyway. He probably got shot in the head years ago… after having his ear cut off and doused in lighter fluid (a fella can dream, can’t he?).

Stuck in the middle with you

“Yes I’m… stuck in the middle with you.”

Raging Bull (1980)

Raging Bull

To confront my violent temper.

Don’t be alarmed. I’m still going in chronological order. When I saw Raging Bull for the first time it was in re-release. Sometime in the nineties. There was a girl that I worked with. Not really, but I worked with her boyfriend. He was a fucktard (in the traditional sense). He would verbally abuse her in public. And she was the sweetest little waif. Pretty. Smart. Completely out of his league. And he knew it. But he kept up this steady stream of abuse.

Raging Jake

Once I saw her flinch when he raised his hand. Something I had seen first hand… second-hand… third hand. I’ve been a bully and I’ve been bullied and I’ve seen people I care about be bullied. And this was an angel. I was secretly in love with her and this… fucktard was frightening and belittling her. But like I said, I am in no position to judge.

She once said in passing that she didn’t need anyone to fight her battles for her. That the thought that she needed saving was a sexist one. She wasn’t talking about herself when she said this. But I knew she was talking about herself. We both knew. But I had never thought about it that way. I had always believed that when a woman had a problem the right thing to do was to solve it. To play the hero. But if I’m the hero, what does that make her? Why can’t she be the hero of her own story? I can be the side kick, The wise teacher. Comic relief. As long as I’m in the fucking movie I’m good. Changed my whole way of thinking. I love it when people do that.

Raging Bull De Niro

I would chat with her while she waited for him. (we worked long nights at a book store uptown) and it was she that recommended I go see Raging Bull. I was a movie fan. I was a Marty fan. I had never seen Raging Bull. I think she saw the way I looked at her. Admiration, Lust, Pity. She knew about my anger issues and that me and her boyfriend had bumped heads a few times. (I could have easily pummeled him into the ground if I didn’t already know that wasn’t what she wanted). There was a little art house theater that I’d never been. And for the record, she wasn’t asking me out. She was just telling me to go see Raging Bull. And I am nothing if not good at following orders.

Robert De Niro

I went on my day off. And I saw, not a bio pic about an aging fighter, but a movie about a slave to violence. About an aging bully. I saw people I’ve known in Scorsese & De Niro’s Jake Lamotta. I saw my tormentors in him. Bullies and Stepmonsters. But worse, I saw myself in him and I was disgusted and ashamed. (I’ve broken my pinkie punching a wall so often that my other fingers have disowned it). But all I could really think about was her. As I cried at the end and as the credits rolled, I looked over to my right and there she was. Across the aisle a couple rows back. I didn’t even know she was there. I didn’t say anything to her. Her face was soaked. She must have been crying the entire time as well.

We sat there in silence during the credits… separately. We left at the same time… separately. She never said a word to me so I never said a word to her. I just knew I didn’t want to be a slave to my anger anymore. I didn’t want to be that guy. And I wanted to thank her for the movie even while it hurt so much to see an angel cry.

Cathy Moriarty

I heard she broke up with that fucktard soon after. Or maybe it was even that night. Weeks later he told the bosses that I was stealing and that the address I had given them wasn’t a real one. (It was a church that let me pick up my mail there). So, only the second part of his complaint was true. But that was enough for them to fire me.

I never saw her again.

Henry V (1989)

Henry V

To finally declare war on my addiction

When I battled drug addiction (It was crack and cocaine) I would promise myself that I was quit the very moment the drugs and the money ran out… it was over. I was done. Then I would forget my promise as soon as I could afford to. I would regularly check into Detox. And the entire time, while most of the addicts were having sex (yes, Detox is a mad fuck fest), I would be plotting the course from the front door to the drug spot. And by the time my time was up, I knew the route by heart. I would head from the hospital to the dealer. I wouldn’t even bother to remove the tags.

"You disgusts me."

“You disgust me.”

Tell me about it.

But the very last time I went through detox, instead of heading to the drug spot, I took a walk down to my favorite theater. The good old Cinema Village Theater: Revivals, First-runs, Cult Classics. I swear to you, every single movie they play there is amazing. I said to myself, I said, “Mel, you’re going to see the next movie playing and it’s going to help you out of this cycle.” It was Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V. Again I knew nothing about it. I had the Complete Works of William Shakespeare growing up. A book I could not read when I was 7 but by the time I was 12 I had read cover to cover. No that’s a lie. I had read the Comedies and the Tragedies. I hate to admit this, but I skipped the Histories altogether.

Kenneth Branagh

So I entered the theater knowing nothing about the play or the movie or the history for that matter. Needless to say, it was just what I needed. Cinema Village comes through again.

This fight was going to be an epic battle. I was completely outgunned, a superior force that had taken down better men than me, better men, was mocking me with little affordable vials of extremely addictive crap. But I would learn to outsmart it. I was determined to win.

War

They like to tell addicts to “take it one day at a time” but that was never working for me. I was always a few steps ahead myself. So what I was going to have to do was take on my addiction – the NEXT day at a time. I would do everything I could TODAY, anything and everything I could think to do THAT DAY, in order to make sure that I would not and could not do drugs TOMORROW.

For me it was money and access. (It’s different for everyone) For me I was always able to stop when the money ran out. For a lot of folks, that does not stop them. And the other thing is that I could never truly claim victory. Because as soon as I started feeling proud of myself, that was the moment when I let down my guard.

Henry V

“You’re doing it, boy. You did it. You beat it. Good job.” “You, sir, are the man. Now how about we go celebrate with some crack? You’ve earned it.”

I mean, the only way to claim true victory is to die never having done it again. Which is why certain folks can’t visit me on my deathbed. (I’m looking at you, crack dealer)

But when I feel like I’m going to let myself down I start humming the tune from the movie. “Dominay. Do-minay. Dom-in-ay. Oh, Dominay. Domi-i-naaaay.”

That’s my battle song, baby.

Better Men Than Me

And I can tell you this with complete honesty and confidence; I will not be smoking crack tomorrow. And after more than a decade & a half totally crack and cocaine free, that’s the most I will allow myself to say. Because for all you people who think addiction isn’t real, even after all this time, I still wake up some nights sucking air. Trying to get that hit. The one from my dream. It’s an awful feeling.

Better men than me…

Spider-man (2002)

Spider-Man Poster

To stop running away from my demons and move back to New York

“I am so high, I can hear heaven.”

You know, this one was not so much about the movie but the song from the movie. It’s a Nickleback song (I know) or more accurately a Chad Kroeger song (same thing I suppose). I was living on the road back then. Travelling from city to city. Either sleeping in my car or on a friend’s couch. It was the best way for me to stay ahead of my addiction. Never staying in one place long enough to know where the drug spot was. Plus I got to see a lot of the country that way. Never got all the way to Seattle but I wanted to.

Mary Jane and Spidey

From 98 to 02, I was just running. I’d stop in a city. Get a job. Stay there for about a year or until I found out where the drugs were and started thinking about them. And then I was back on the road. Then this song comes on the radio.

“…and they say that a hero will save us…”

You know, the one from Spider-man. The first one with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. From the first trilogy. The Sam Raimi one. The good one.

Peter Parker

It wasn’t really the song but the ad for the movie. And I’ve always loved Spider-man. Spider-man reminds me of when I was a kid. When I had dreams. When I had promise. When I had confidence coming out of my ass. I was gonna see the movie anyway. But listening to that song made me realize that the only place to see it was back home.

“I’m not gonna stand here and waaaaaaaa-it…”

The Hero

I sang that song the entire way. I didn’t own the single. I didn’t even know the words. I just sang the part from the commercial and from the trailer. I pulled into Manhattan after driving for hours and hours cross-country. I drove directly to the movie theater, parked my car with all of my belongings and walked in to see the movie.

Mary J and Spidey

Just wanting to see the movie at home was all the motivation I needed to stop running. I’ve been back in New York ever since.

Dorothy was right.

There’s no place like it.

“I’ll hold on to the wings of the eagles. And watch as we all fly away….”

… And that’s my list of 7 movies that saved my life.

There are other films that I throw on when I need them: Casablanca, Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters, and New York Stories (particularly Scorsese’s Life Lessons) are my go to break up movies. Each with its own way of making me feel better about how bad I am at relationships.

And when I need inspiration there are a bunch of action films that get me pumped. I’ve mentioned most of them. They are all over my blog.

But as for when I need a laugh? There was a time when I would throw on some Monty Python or Mel Brooks, (Flying Circus, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein) but these days I can just go to social media and in a few moments I’m laughing hysterically.

Social Media

You people make me happy.

These days, it’s almost too easy.

– Mel

5 Quick Reviews August 2014 (Super Long Extended Suck Edition)

This is the super long extended suck edition of 5 Quick Reviews.

I’ve been stuck in the news cycle this month (A lot of crap going on) and I’ve been working hard on my dystopian, social feminist, sci-fi surveillance, alien crime novel, so I’ve kinda let my DVD folder get a bit out of hand…

Emma Stone

“Out of HAND? We’ve been stuck down here for weeks!”

Okay, WAY out of hand.

So… for August I give you 8 new DVD reviews of 8 new DVDs in August. And two rants. Only two. But be warned. There’s an awful lot of suck this month.

So… strap your browsers in, people. This is gonna be a big long one.

"That is NOT what she said."

“That is NOT what she said.”

Damn, Penny.

To the reviews…

First up – Sci fi… I guess.

Divergent (Lionsgate, Summit Entertainment)

Divergent poster

Directed by Neil Burger

Written by Evan Daugherty & Vanessa Taylor  Based on Divergent by Veronica Roth

Starring Shailene WoodleyTheo JamesAnsel ElgortAshley JuddJai CourtneyRay StevensonZoë KravitzMiles TellerTony GoldwynMaggie Q & Kate Winslet

Tris with knives

“Okay, Mel. Go ahead and take your best shot. Do your worse.”

Here’s a movie, Divergent, that feels more like two separate movies. Over-all it’s the beautiful story of a fractured factional society. Interesting and compelling. Divergent One (we’re going to call them Divergent One and Two) is an insanely good movie. Shailene Woodley plays a societal anomaly named Beatrice Prior (We call her Tris) that lives in fear of being found out because she is special. She is divergent and fits into more than one class of persons. More than one faction. She can use more of her brain than most people. She’s better. I bet the book is amazing

Divergent Factions

Anyone else notice how all the lines are straight except for Candor, who can’t help but lean in toward Abnegation just to tell them what they think.

I thought learning about the different factions and the people who lead them and about their place in the society was infinitely fascinating. And watching Shailene as she goes through her trials was gripping. The factions are as follows: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Erudite (the intelligent), Amity (the peaceful) and Dauntless (the brave). She chooses one (because she fits in more than one) and she goes through training. And Miss Woodley is attractive and her instructor is attractive and you root for her against the bullies and the power structure and her own fears. Divergent One is an incredible movie. But then something happens to it. A plot happens to it.

Tris fighting

“Mel is gonna get such a punch in the head if he isn’t nice. SUCH A PUNCH”

Divergent Two is awful. It is sloppy. It is rushed. It is so very very bad. Divergent Two is an action movie that looks like it was made in somebody’s backyard and directed by their thirteen year old dim-witted cousin. The last half hour of this movie is pure garbage. It looks like a completely different creative team. It is – the suck. There are continuity errors and logistic problems and enemies that pop out of thin air and overwhelming odds that pave the way for bad fight scenes with one punch knockouts and instant technology advancements and leaps of logic and it ruins a really good movie. Just fucking ruins it.

Tris and Four

“He’s right you know.” “I know. But it’s just that I don’t want to hear it. And I don’t know where to go. This was supposed to be my Hunger Games.”

Divergent (the whole bloody thing) is a badly directed film. And the story is not to blame. The acting is not to blame. It looks like they ran out of money before the end or just blew it all on food. And it was promising. It had the makings of a winner, but there wasn’t enough time spent away from the main characters to justify the sharp change in tone the movie takes. There wasn’t enough time spent establishing the villain to justify their actions. There was no introduction to this new technology or even a feeling that it was being misused. If it was made for that purpose then who are the manufacturers? What is the manufacturing class?

Divergent Dauntless

Please stop. Mel. Think of what you’re doing to Shailene.”

And I get it. The director spent most of his time setting up that Hunger Games slash Harry Potter “feel” to the first two acts that it never occurred to him to use parts of the first two acts to make the third act make sense. And I bet that it makes sense to people who read the book. But I didn’t read the book and most of the people who see the movie didn’t read the book. The third act is so bad that it makes the first parts seem frivolous. Where were we that whole time.

Kate Winslet

“He’s right? I’m the villain of this film. Not you.” “I know. And we hardly ever see you.”

Divergent is a rarity. It goes from “OMG this is the best movie. I love this.” all the way to “This is a piece of garbage that I wish didn’t exist. Why do you torture me with this filth?” and it does that in seconds.

Shailene Woodley

“Is he done? Can I come down now?”

Skip it. (It’s obvious that the movie they wanted to make ends almost a full hour before the one they released to the world does)

Next up – Crime and a big dick

Dom Hemingway (Lionsgate (UK), Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Dom Hemingway Official Poster

Written and Directed by Richard Shepard

Starring Jude LawRichard E. GrantDemián Bichir & Emilia Clarke

Dom is out of prison

“Do your worse, Melvin.”

Dom Hemingway, the movie, is about a safe cracker who gets out of prison after 12 years and tries to get “rewarded” for his pain. Because he kept his mouth shut. But he’s a dick because he can’t keep his mouth shut. I have seen this movie before, this “guy gets out of prison and things have changed on the outside” movie, a bunch of times before. And I’ve seen it done much better and with a better lead.

Dom

“Don’t you know not to taunt Mel like that. He’ll grab you by the balls and squeeeze.”

I didn’t like Jude law in this. I would have preferred a young Michael Caine. Or any better actor. And I usually like Jude Law. He just didn’t do it for me in this. It always felt like he was doing a character and not playing a character. The whole movie feeels like a Jude Law vehicle but Jude Law just can’t carry the load.

Dom Hemingway

“You keep talking tough guy. I’ll be in my bunk.”

The plot is decent even though it’s familiar. He’s a horrible person that makes horrible decisions and gets horrible outcomes but there was really nothing more to it and without a good character actor and a better lead character this character driven movie is flat and lifeless and frankly lacks character.

Emilia Clarke

“It was sooo clever the way you repeated the word character like that. You’re such a good writer… I’m being sarcastic. I AM YOUR KHALEESI. 1 2 3 4!”

The dialogue is wonderful, however, although, again, Jude Law chews up the script so horribly, I had to watch it with subtitles on (Closed Captioning for the acting impaired). I’m getting used to good british accents. I watch a lot of Brit shows (a lot). But Jude Law’s Dom Hemingway is a bad british accent. It’s just bad.

Dom and his grandson

“When you grow up, don’t be like Mel. He’s mean.” “Okay.”

The main thing is that a better actor would have played the part better and made Dom seem more real (Brad Pitt or Christian Bale) and, to tell you the truth, I think that is really all that they would have to do to make this a pretty good movie. The rest of the cast is great. Emilia Clarke is fantastic as his estranged daughter. And Richard E. Grant is.. Richard E. Grant, which is always great. But because it relies too much on Jude Law and he’s so very bad. The movie is not good at all.

Jude Law is Dom Hemingway

“I’ll be back!! But with a better acceeeeeeeeeeent.”

Skip it. (The dialogue is fantastic but the movie is shit)

Next up – I feel the need…

Need for Speed (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Need for Speed

Directed by  Scott Waugh

Written by George Gatins & John Gatins  Based on Need for Speed by Electronic Arts

Starring Aaron PaulDominic CooperScott MescudiImogen PootsRamón Rodríguez & Michael Keaton

need-for-speed

“Do your worse, bitch.”

There are some really sweet cars in Need for Speed and it was good to see Aaron Paul in a different kind of role after Breaking Bad. And those are the only two positive statements that I can make about it. The makers of Need for Speed have no idea. They know nothing about cars. They know nothing about racing. They know nothing about geography and linear space and time. They know nothing about simple physics and logic. They know nothing about the rules of society. They know nothing.

Need for Speed Aaron Paul

“Haven’t you been paying attention, Aaron. It doesn’t end well when you taunt him.” “Yeah bitch, bring it! you heard me.”

At one point in the movie, a pivotal point, Aaron Paul’s character is racing the supposed bad guy for 2.7 million dollars. Well not really. The bad guy is risking 2.7 mil but Paul is risking about 750 thou. Money that he desperately needs to fix his business. Money he earned because the supposed bad guy gave him a high paying job and saved this man’s life. Money he has. Money he already has. Hurray! His business is saved. But in a moment of ego gone mad he agrees to race the much richer man for a much greater sum. And for some idiotic reason Aaron Paul’s young friend races along with them.

Need for Speed Cars

Oh look! Expensive cars going really slow but sped up to look fast. (no sweet rides were actually harmed in the making of this movie)

There is no earthly reason for his young friend to be involved in their race. There is every reason for him to not be in the race. He has no money in it or place in it. They can go two-wide without danger but not three-wide. The kid is nowhere near as good as the other two men. Tons of logical reasons he should be excluded. Except for the plot. The friend then proceeds to block the wealthy guy at every turn and not let him pass. Helping Aaron Paul’s character to win the bet and basically steal 2.7 million dollars from the man who just saved their business and helped them and let them drive his nice sports cars.

Need for Speed British Girl

“I’m out of here. I’m not going to be another of Mel’s blog victims.”

SPOILER ALERT The kid dies. OBVIOUSLY!!! (not much of a spoiler. It happens early in the movie) But I too would have bumped the kid. He’s cheating him out of almost 3 million dollars. It’s bad form. It’s not just bad form. It’s cheating. But anyway we’re suppose to see that differently and he’s the bad guy. But it proves the creative team knows nothing about racing. Or England for that matter. What’s with the awful British chick? Is she supposed to be smart or stupid?

Aaron Paul

“Mel, you son of a bitch, look what you did. Look at what you did. She was out. She was out! You bastard. YOU BASTARD!”

They run down homeless people. Cause traffic accidents. Cause police cars to crash and roll and burst into flames. They wreak havoc on the entire countryside and they’re supposed to be the good guys. Which would be cool if Need for Speed were made with the same silliness of say: The Blues Brothers or Smokey and the Bandit or even the Fast and the Furious movies. But no. Need for Speed takes itself way too seriously for how bad it is. And every aspect of this movie is crap. Ev er y thing.

Need for destruction

Oh look an explosion where a cop dies. And look a school bus… because… you know… why not. Why fucking not? Let’s race!

There’s another character who spots for them from the air. Who just somehow gets into planes and takes off and flies over populated areas. Finally, when they point out that he wouldn’t be able to do that, they switch him to helicopters. Like that’s different. Need for Speed is a very stupid movie. The absence of police presence is noticeable until they’re needed for the plot. Then they’re everywhere. Nothing in this movie makes logical sense. It is the worst written movie I have ever seen. And one of the worse directed.

NEED FOR SPEED

“You can’t affect me. I was in Breaking Bad, bitch.”

You say bitch a lot now, don’t you?

Then there are these other guys who are driving a tanker truck (a slow-moving vehicle by comparison to these foreign racecars) that not only keeps up with them but passes them. And the guy stealing the planes takes them back to their airports but then somehow is at airports further along the linear progression of the main character. Oh my god. This is why video game movies are so bad. Because they let people make shit like this.

Need for Helicopters

“Mayday. Mayday. We’re going down. We’re going down. The movie is terrible.”

Skip it. (If you rent this by accident, do us all a favor and run over the disc with your car)

Next up – Let’s get biblical

Noah (Paramount Pictures)

Noah Movie

Directed by Darren Aronofsky

Written by Darren Aronofsky & Ari Handel

Starring Russell CroweJennifer ConnellyRay WinstoneEmma WatsonLogan Lerman & Anthony Hopkins

Noah

“Hurry up kids. We’ve got to get out of here before Mel tears us a new one.” “Aren’t you gonna say do your worse, dear?” “No. I made that mistake with god.”

Noah begins with a lot of promise. And I was prepared for some Aronofsky goodness. It felt more like a sci-fi fantasy movie than a religious one and I was excited. Because if you throw out all the religious elements, it’s a decent fable. At least the watered down version they teach children in catholic school (pun absolutely intended). It’s a fairy tale story of magic, love, sorcery and revenge.

Noah's Ark

“It’ll hold. It’s just a blog and he’s just a blogger. It’ll hold.”

The movie starts like it will not be taking itself too seriously. Noah starts like it will be a cool fantasy adventure. But it abandons that whimsy somewhere in the middle. And ends like a sermon. Don’t preach at me, movie. I came here to be entertained.

Noah's Family

“Oh dear god. Mel was not entertained.”

And it’s too bad too. I wanted to like Noah. I like the cast. I like the effects. The animals and the stone giants. I thought the battle scene was awesome and I really identified with the king (supposedly the bad guy). Once again the only person making any sense was the bad guy. (But he loses my support when he shows his true colors later in the movie).

Noah Battle

“Run for your lives! Mel was not entertained! He was not entertained!”

Noah is still an interesting movie up until the end. But it ends like the worst thing this movie could be even as it starts like the best thing a Noah movie could be. It becomes too preachy. And quite honestly it seems more like God and Noah are the bad guys and the worse thing the humans did was eat meat. (Don’t get me wrong. They’re pretty bad)

Ark

Well I guess that ended well… Where is everybody?

But you know what I say… drown ’em all why don’t you? Just drown ’em all.

Emma

Not you, Emma. You’re still my girl. Let’s repopulate the earth baby.

Skip it (Starts good and then gets too serious and then ends too preachy)

Next up – the suckfest continues

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Amazing Spider-Man 2

Directed by Marc Webb

Written by Alex KurtzmanRoberto OrciJeff Pinkner and James Vanderbilt  Based on The Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko

Starring Andrew GarfieldEmma StoneJamie FoxxDane DeHaanCampbell ScottEmbeth DavidtzColm FeorePaul Giamatti & Sally Field

Andrew Garfield

“Do your worse, you bloody wanker.”

Better than the first one, but only slightly better. And that’s not saying much.

Green Goblin

“Ha ha. He hates you too, Spider-man. Mel hates you, too. He is my homeboy.”

If you can remember back when the first Andrew Garfield – Emma Stone Spider-Man reboot came out, I hated it. I hated the first Amazing Spider-Man with a passion. I hated everything about it. The plot was full of holes. The changes to the Spiderman (no fucking hyphen) origin story were unbelievably dumb. It was badly directed. Badly acted. The scenes where Emma and Andrew so obviously improvised were cute – at best. They do have some chemistry, those two. But I was in pain watching it. I love Spiderman.

Jamie Foxx

“Yeah, you could say Andrew and Emma are electric… or you could pretend that I didn’t just say that. You know. Go ahead and pretend I didn’t just say that.”

But in the second one, even the scenes with Andrew and Emma are awful because Andrew Garfield often drops his bad American accent when talking to her on camera. I think he forgets himself because it’s his girlfriend and they’re improvising and he drops his bad American. And the director, the same awful, but aptly named, Marc Webb from the first one, leaves it in the movie because… well because he’s horrible at his job. Just completely horrible at his job. Stop hiring this guy to mangle Spiderman.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2013) Jamie Foxx as Electro

“You got issues. You know that, son.”

However, this time around the Amazing Spider-Man movie has better bad guys and better effects. Some say there are too many bad guys. I don’t. The bad guys are the best thing about it. The effects were cartoonish in the first one. They’re a little better this time. But it has the same bad writing and bad directing. These are truly awful movies.

Spider-Man 2 Goblin

“Ha ha. I win Spider-man. I’ve got your girl and Mel hates your movie. Ha ha.” “You’re in the movie too, Goblin. He hates OUR movie.”

One day the world will reach a consensus and every copy of both of these films will be destroyed in less than spectacular ways. Sam Raimi’s much maligned third Spiderman movie is a thousand times better than The Amazing Spider-Man 1 or 2. These movies should not even exist. Horrible movies that are perfect examples of what not to do when making a superhero film. Stop making these movies! They suck.

Harry Osborne

“You are no longer my homeboy.”

Skip it (Better than the first. But again, that’s not saying very much)

Next up – a temporary respite from the suck

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

The Winter Soldier

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Written by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely  Based on Captain America by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby

Starring Chris EvansScarlett JohanssonSebastian StanAnthony MackieCobie SmuldersFrank GrilloEmily VanCampHayley AtwellRobert Redford & Samuel L. Jackson

Widow and Cap

“Mmm. Didn’t he already review this movie when it was in the theaters?” “I think Mel just needed to watch something good on DVD this month. I don’t blame him.”

I loved Captain America: The Winter Soldier and, on DVD, I still do. The relationship between Cap and Black Widow is worth the price of admission and worth exploring further. I love that their individual moralities are so diametrically opposed, yet they’re on the same side. Some of the best scenes in the movie are of those two interacting (Right after that seriously kick-ass elevator fight scene – god I love that scene).

Elevator Fight

“So, nobody wanted to get out, I guess.”

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is one of the best films of the year. Here is a list of my top five movies so far this year. And as you’d expect each and every one of them is a superhero type action adventure film.

Winter Soldier

“Pffft. Heroes. Who needs ’em? I have my glorious hair.”

I really liked Edge of Tomorrow (at 5) and then Guardians of the Galaxy just a touch ahead of that. The Lego Movie (at 3) after Captain America: The Winter Soldier (my number two favorite so far) and X-Men Days of Future Past at the top of my list.

Black Widow

“Mmm. Number two huh? We’ll just have to see if we can change your mind.”

But really, to be honest again, all five of those films are just scrunched up together. Changing position on repeated viewing. There have been some good movies this year.

Captain America

“Yeah but you think the X-men was better than us. That’s just plain un-American, son. And I won’t stand for it. I won’t stand for it one bit. You hear me?”

Buy it (This is one for the permanent collection)

Next up – back to the bad

Mr. Peabody and Sherman (20th Century Fox)

Mr Peabody and Sherman Poster

Directed by Rob Minkoff

Written by Craig Wright  Based on Mr. Peabody and Sherman by Ted Key

Starring Ty BurrellMax CharlesAriel WinterLeslie MannStephen Colbert & Allison Janney

Peabody and Sherman

“Aren’t you gonna say, ‘Do your worse.’ Mr. Peabody.” ” No, Sherman. No, I am not.”

Mr. Peabody and Sherman is a horribly bad animated movie. First off, Ty Burrell’s voice as the undeniably perfect Mr. Peabody is incredibly annoying. And then there’s Sherman (yes I know he’s 7). He is the worst. He has no discipline and proceeds to destroy everything he touches. Like an unruly puppy. It’s like he was raised by a dog or something. But the “dog” theme throughout the movie, because Sherman is adopted and raised by Mr. Peabody; a dog, just made me uncomfortable.

Sherman and Penny

“Ooh ooh. I know. I know… It was the worst piece of shit you ever saw.”

Very good, Sherman.

I remember these guys from saturday mornings. They didn’t have their own full length show. They only had little educational interstitials between other cartoons. Along with Rocky and Bullwinkle. It was like a little joke with a punch line somewhere in history and then there would be a short cartoon.

Our heroes

“Hurry, kids. If we leave now, we can avoid the inevitable point where Mel says that we suck. I don’t know about you two, but I can do without that.”

The Mr. Peabody and Sherman animated movie is worse than any of the Rocky and Bullwinkle failed attempts. And those were pretty bad too. Wasn’t there a live-action one? Anyway, It’s a very bad movie. A very very bad movie.

Peabody and Sherman sidecar

“I think we’re gonna make it!”

It sucked.

Skip it (Another ruined childhood memory)

And lastly – The return of the great Terry Gilliam

The Zero Theorem (Stage 6 Films (United Kingdom), Amplify (United States))

zero theorem poster

Directed by Terry Gilliam

Written by Pat Rushin

Starring Christoph WaltzMélanie ThierryDavid Thewlis & Lucas Hedges

The Zero Theorem, Terry Gilliam’s most recent film, is vintage Gilliam. It’s like a cross between 12 Monkeys and Brazil with a little less nihilism (just a little less). And I loved it.

Zero Theorem

“We’re already partying because there was no way Mel was going to hate this movie.”

The only problem I had, if there was one, was with the film’s star; Cristoph Waltz, who tends to mumble his lines. In his past films, with Tarantino dialogue lines, that would be fine. They are perfect. They are well-written. They are short. They are cool. You know what he said. It was something badass. It’s Tarantino. But here, his angst moves the plot. His dialogue is important and it is so difficult to hear him sometimes. So, except for the need to turn on Closed Captioning again, in order to hear another bad accent (at least this one is his own), I loved it. I fucking loved it. The Zero Theorem is an exceptional film.

The Zero Theorem - Ben Wishaw

“Exceptional, you say? Go on.”

Just like in Brazil, the main character is a corporate number cruncher in an administrative factory. Except that this factory is a lot more colorful and little more sinister. He suffers from a number of phobias. The worst of which being his agoraphobia (remind you of anyone). He just doesn’t want to go in to the office. He wants to work from home. Why can’t he just work from home? (no really, doesn’t it remind you of someone?).

Management is always watching

“We get it. You saw yourself as the main character. When does that not happen? Go on.”

I’m not going to give too much away but there are a number of great characters and interesting themes. The ultimate search for meaning, for love, for confidence… It’s a real thinker. It reminded me of a cross between the Coen’s Barton Fink and Pi (directed by Darren Aronofsky [Noah]). With an art direction that’s like a cross between Blade Runner and Tim Burton’s Batman. I loved this movie so much. And I’ve only watched it once.

The-Zero-Theorem

“Oh stop lying. I know for a fact you watched one scene more than once. But go on.”

The Zero Theorem is not Gilliam’s best film by a long shot and it leaves some things unanswered. (I think by this point I expect Terry Gilliam to tell us the meaning of life in cinematic brilliance. Is that too much to ask for?) And it is so sad that the studio is dicking him around with the release of this one. Look for it on VOD. Or wait for it to hit theaters. But definitely see it. It’s funny. It’s sweet. It’s deep. It’s cool. It’s interesting. It’s Gilliam. Not his best. Not even in the top five, to be honest (for the last time). But it’s really good.

Christoph Waltz and Lucas Hedges

“Is it safe to come out yet?” “He liked us. He liked everything in the movie but your accent.” “Do your worse.” “It’s too late. It’s over.”

Rent it (I will be adding it to my collection. I own them all. Terry Gilliam is one of my filmmaking and comedy heroes. My presciption: watch Brazil, 12 Monkeys and The Zero Theorem and call me in the morning)

So to recap…

There were two movies about fathers who are not the best parents in spite or because of their humongous egoes; Dom Hemingway and Mr. Peabody and Sherman, One of them is starring a dog and the other one is a cartoon. Both are pretty bad.

There were two movies about rebelling against the horrors of a dystopian society that thinks it’s utopian; The Zero Theorem and Divergent, Both of them start off strong but only one of them ends that way.

There were two movies about the destruction of life and property by good guys who act like bad guys and bad guys who aren’t really that bad; Noah and Need for Speed, Neither of them with much good to speak of but at least one of them had Emma Watson.

And there were two movie sequels from Marvel superheroes that featured a good-looking couple with strong chemistry; The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, But first I want to apologize for including those two titles in the same sentence, because one is one of the best movie of the year and the other’s the worst.

And that’s all 8.

I can’t do no more.

Widow, Cap and Hill

“I think we killed him. I think we killed Mel with DVD reviews of bad movies. Oh the humanity.” “He was a good soldier. But this month was the worst.” “It really was.”

C’mon guys! I’ll be back in September with more reviews. And those studios better put out some good ones (they usually do in September. so… fingers crossed).

See you guys on the couch.

– Mel

5 Quick Reviews of 5 DVDs (Double-Sized Edition)

Long time. No DVD reviews.

"Where you been?"

“Where you been?”

I’ve been working on my novel. Don’t shoot.

I’m sorry I’ve neglected you guys.

I’ve watched a lot of DVD screeners since my last review. (which I think was my Oscars post. Sorry)

So here are some of them in one big blog post. (With my Behind the Candelabra review tacked on to the end)

To the reviews…

Parker (Sierra Entertainment)

Parker

Directed by Taylor Hackford

Screenplay by John J. Mclaughlin

Based on Flashfire by Donald E. Westlake

Starring Jason Statham & Jennifer Lopez

The movie Parker is a swing and a miss.

Jason Statham is as stoic and badass as ever but Jennifer Lopez is under-utilized and doesn’t come in until the second act. Also when you have two beautiful lead characters you want to see them get it on. They do not get it on. So if you’re thinking of renting this to see Jen and Jason getting busy, don’t waste your time. They kiss once. Parker is a fun heist movie but for me, it was advertised as a different film entirely. I expected something more like Out Of Sight. Not even close. However, if you’re a Jlo hater, rest assured that she is not in it very much. There is enough badassery and shoot-em-up scenes to satisfy the gun action fans but there is nothing else of value here.

Skip it (unless you just want to see action and don’t care about story then)

Rent it (but I warned you).

Warm Bodies (Summit Entertainment)

Warm Bodies

Written & Directed by Jonathan Levine

Starring Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer & Rob Corddry

Warm Bodies was actually pretty good. I was surprised. I usually don’t like it when writers change the rules on classic monsters to the degree that this movie does however the changes help to sell the romantic elements of the film. And I liked the romantic parts. It is a sweet film about the love between a living human girl and a zombie human boy.

Good music. Good story. Good actors. A fun and sweet light-horror romance.

Rent it

Oz The Great & Powerful (Walt Disney Studios)

OZ The Great and Powerful

Directed by Sam Raimi

Written by Mitchell Kapner

Based on the Oz series by Frank L. Baum

Starring James Franco, Mila KunisRachel Weisz, Michelle Williams & Zach Braff

Oz the Great and Powerful is just awful. The acting, writing & directing are just awful. There are too many actors that I admire in this film for it  to be this bad.

But it is… JUST HORRIBLE. Franco? Weisz? Mila? Michelle? Sam Raimi?  I kind of  think that Disney should have just gone and made an animated film.

Skip it.

A Good Day to Die Hard (20th Century Fox)

A Good Day to Die Hard

Directed by John Moore

Screenplay by Skip Woods

Starring Bruce Willis

So bad. This movie is so very very bad. Enough with these movies already, Bruce. What kind of father & son relationship are they showing us? What was that? So badly written. Oh dear god is it badly written. The one-liners are all so cornball. You can say what you will about Schwarzenegger but at least his one-liners are always entertaining. Bruce Willis comes off in this as curmudgeonly and abrasive.

Skip it.

Beautiful Creatures (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Beautiful Creatures

Written & Directed by Richard LaGravenese

Based on Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Starring TWO GENUINELY AWFUL CHILDREN & Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum, Thomas Mann & Emma Thompson

BOOOOORINNNNNGGGG!!!

What a boring and stupid story. Must have been a better book (Like Cloud Atlas I suppose). Beautiful Creatures is bad and boring. What a waste of good actors. The premise is weak. The effects are goofy. The movie is unsuccessfully carried by two awful young actors and supported by great talented actors who are rarely used. So very bad. This movie is so bad. I had to turn it off and watch something else. I went back to finish the film, just in case it got good for the climactic ending. IT DOES NOT. There was no climax.

Avoid this movie like the plague.

Killing Them Softly (The Weinstein Company)

Killing Them Softly

Written & Directed by Andrew Dominik

Based on Cogan’s Trade by George V. Higgins

Starring Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini & Ray Liotta

Killing Them Softly is fantastic. Brad Pitt is sensational as always and the pacing of this film is brilliant. I enjoyed it profusely. A realistic and gritty mob film and heist movie. Just brutal and just awesome.

Rent it.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (Paramount Pictures)

Hansel & Gretel

Written & Directed by Tommy Wirkola

Starring Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen & Peter Stormare

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is kind of a fun movie. If you don’t let it’s general stupidity get to you. It’s pretty easy to follow and not too… oh what’s the word: Thinky. It’s kind of a dumb popcorn movie with a few cool supernatural effects filled fight scenes but mostly it’s really dumb. So, if you’re not prepared to turn off your brain don’t watch it.

Rent it.

Movie 43 (Relativity media)

Movie 43

Directed by Everyone

Written by Everyone

Starring Everyone

This movie is disgusting at times and it misses the mark more times than it hits the bullseye. However there are several times that Movie 43 is funny as all hell! Times when I thought I was going to die laughing. Movie 43 is a bunch of comedic short films from some famous comedy directors starring quite a few a-list stars.

The first one sets the tone with Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz on a blind date. Hugh has testicles hanging from his neck. It is hysterically funny for a while… but it goes on for too long.

The next two are total misses and I don’t even remember them. But then it gets really good with several in a row that are incredibly funny including: One with Emma Stone and Kieran Culkin that is genius, A coach’s pep talk to the first all black basketball team to play against an all white team with Cuba Gooding Jr., And one with a man who has a sadistic cock-blocking cartoon cat that’s got Elizabeth Banks and Josh Duhamel and is outrageous.

I didn’t like the order or the insipid teen prank that ties them together. BUT… Mixed review alert! If you can get through the bad ones the good ones are worth it.

Rent it (but I apologize for the really awful ones)

Stand Up Guys (Lionsgate)

Stand Up Guys

Directed by Fisher Stevens

Written by Noah Haidle

Starring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken & Alan Arkin

Pacino and Walken

Stand Up Guys is a great film about geriatric gangsters who after a long time away from the action get together for one last adventure. It is wonderfully written and directed with three outstanding performances from Pacino, Arkin & Walken. Just like Killing Them Softly, it tries to be as realistic as possible with its violence, which I like. It is a funny and at times painfully heartbreaking film about old friends; An elderly gang of criminals that haven’t been together for decades. So good.

I loved this movie.

Rent it.

Jack Reacher (Paramount Pictures)

Jack Reacher

Written & Directed by Christopher McQuarrie

Based on One Shot by Lee Child

Starring Tom Cruise (as Jack Reacher… I guess)

Frankly, there was nothing in Jack Reacher that hadn’t been done before and a heck of a lot better.

Skip it.

Behind The Candelabra (HBO)

Behind the Candelabra

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Written by Richard LaGravenese (The guy who directed Beautiful Creatures)

Based on Scott Thorson’s book

Starring Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Dan Aykroyd, Scott Bakula, Rob Lowe & Debbie Reynolds

Behind The Candelabra is a great film about a twisted relationship from its beginning to its tragic end. It is not a biopic about Liberace. It is more of the story of Liberace’s lover. A man who he molded in his own image. (It brought to mind Michael & Diana… that twisted worship that leads to plastic surgery).

Michael Douglas

There was a complaint that the film was too gay for some audiences. It is not too gay. People need to grow up. In my opinion, it is just the right amount of gay, maybe even not gay enough.

Matt Damon

There are a few love scenes and some kissing and quite a few flamboyant outfits… but it’s Liberace.

He’s not Liberace.

He’s Liberace! 

There was no closeted celebrity gayer than Liberace.

Liberace

Michael Douglas deserves all the awards he is sure to receive (Perhaps both an Oscar and an Emmy) and Matt Damon more than holds his own opposite Mr. Douglas’ best performance of his life. A cadre of great character actors rounds out the all-star cast. Dan Aykroyd as the slimy manager. Scott Bakula as the slimy pimp and Rob Lowe as the slimy doctor & drug dealer.

Fantastic film.

Rent it.

So to recap…

The Good Movies: 

Warm Bodies; Sweet and Romantic,

Killing Them Softly: Dark and Gritty,

Stand Up Guys; Cool Story with Great Performances, and

Behind The Candelabra; Great Movie with Fantastic Performances

The Mixed Review Movies:

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters; Fun Movie but Dumb Movie,

Movie 43; Sometimes Funny but Sometimes Just Wrong, and

Parker; Nice Action but No Substance

and lastly

The Bad Movies:

A Good Day to Die Hard; I Didn’t Expect Much and Got It,

Oz the Great and Powerful; I Expected Better and Was Sorely Disappointed,

Beautiful Creatures; I Didn’t Know What To Expect and Didn’t Like What I Got, and

Jack Reacher; I Expected Good and Original and Got Very Bad and Unoriginal

"We're going to the video store to get brains."

“We’re going to the video store to get brains.”

See you next time,

– Mel