Saturday, May 31, 2014

Why does the black bird gotta be the slave?


MALEFICENT

Despite a powerfully good first act, Maleficent ultimately collapses into a gutless retcon that possesses little of Sleeping Beauty's native charm, elevated to watchability solely by the presence of Angelina Jolie in the titular role.

2014
Directed by Robert Stromberg
Written by Linda Woolverton, stepping on the work of at least eight other people
With Angelina Jolie (Maleficent), Sharlto Copley (Stefan), and Elle Fanning (Aurora)

Spoiler alert: severe (but you would see it coming anyway)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The new movie with my favorite superhero is out! Also starring his son Quicksilver


X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

Future perfect.  [Insert equally dumbassed X-pun here.]

2014
Directed by Bryan Singer
Written by Simon Kinberg, Jane Goldman, and Matthew Vaughn
With Michael Fassbender (Magneto), Ian McKellan (Magneto), James McAvoy (Professor X), Patrick Stewart (Professor X), Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Nicholas Hoult (Beast), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), Peter Dinklage (Bolivar Trask), and Evan Peters (Quicksilver)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Thursday, May 22, 2014

We've been eating Gamera, part V: "Don't you believe in spaceships and spacemen?"


Gamera isn't the most important, or the most influential, or the most popular Japanese monster.  That just means the Guardian of the Universe may have to content himself with simply being the best.  This series of reviews is dedicated to my very favorite turtle. 

GAMERA VS. GUIRON
(Gamera tai daikaiju Giron)

If anything even more childish than our previous outing, Guiron remains a pretty fun piece of pop cultural flotsam.

1969
Directed by Noriaki Yuasa
Written by Nisan Takahashi
With Umenosuke Izumi (Gamera), Nobuhiro Kajima (Akio), Christopher Murphy (Tom), Miyuki Akiyama (Tomoko), Kon Omura (Officer Kondo), Hiroko Kai (Barbella), Reiko Kasahara (Florbella)

Spoiler alert: high

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Destroy all actors


GODZILLA

If you come in an hour late, you'll understand the movie just as much, and you may enjoy it more.  Otherwise, brace for a certain degree of boredom before Godzilla actually gets to anything you might have come to a Godzilla movie to seebut what sights they are.

2014
Directed by Gareth Edwards
Written by Max Borenstein and Dave Callaham
With Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Ford Brody), Ken Watanabe (Dr. Ichiro Serizawa), Sally Hawkins (Vivien Graham), Elizabeth Olsen (Elle Brody), Juliette Binoche (Sandra Brody), and Bryan Cranston (Joe Brody)

Spoiler alert: high (I think it's moderate, but reasonable minds may differ)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

We've been eating Gamera, part IV: The film that makes you ask, "Did I have a stroke? Did I die?"


Gamera isn't the most important, or the most influential, or the most popular Japanese monster.  That just means the Guardian of the Universe may have to content himself with simply being the best.  This series of reviews is dedicated to my very favorite turtle. 

GAMERA VS. VIRAS
(Gamera Tai Uchu Kaiju Bairasu)

The most inutterably insane Gamera film of them all, it may be far from the turtle's best, but it is truly his single most essential.  It is not only so bad it's good, it is so fucked-up it's mind-altering.  No B-movie education can be called complete without reference to Gamera vs. Viras.

1968
Directed by Noriaki Yuasa
Written by Nisan Takahashi
With Teruo Aragaki (Gamera), Toru Taktsuka (Kenny Masao), Carl Craig (Kenny? Jim), Kojiro Hongo (Scoutmaster Shimida), and Genzo Wakayama (The Voice of Boss)

Spoiler alert: severe

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

We've been eating Gamera, part III: Tempted by the red mist


Gamera isn't the most important, or the most influential, or the most popular Japanese monster.  That just means the Guardian of the Universe may have to content himself with simply being the best.  This series of reviews is dedicated to my very favorite turtle. 

GAMERA VS. GAOS
(Daikaiju kuchusen: Gamera tai Gyaosu)

This is the turning point.  Gamera vs. Gaos brings it all: spectacular high-camp science fantasy; the franchise's most iconic foemonster; a new, improved Kenny; and a novel emphasis upon Gamera as the hero of his own movies.  But most importantly, it brings Noriaki Yuasa and Nisan Takahashi back to full control of their monster's destinyThis is the definitive entry in the Showa series.

1967
Directed by Noriaki Yuasa
Written by Nisan Takahashi
With Teruo Aragaki (Gamera), Naoyuki Abe (Kenny Eiichi Kanamura), Kojiro Hongo (Shiro Tsutsumi), Kichijiro Ueda (Tatsuemon Kanamura), Reiko Kasahara (Sumiko Kanamura), and Yoshiro Katahara (Dr. Aoki)

Spoiler alert: severe

Monday, May 12, 2014

We've been eating Gamera, part II: That rainbow's bright


Gamera isn't the most important, or the most influential, or the most popular Japanese monster.  That just means the Guardian of the Universe may have to content himself with simply being the best.  This series of reviews is dedicated to my very favorite turtle. 

GAMERA VS. BARUGON
(Daikaiju ketto: Gamera tai Barugon)

The first Gamera sequel demonstrates Noriaki Yuasa's growing competence in the special effects genre; to our regret, however, he only directed about a third of it.  The rest is credited to someone who had never made a monster movie before and, for reasons that will become clear, would never make another one again.

1966
Directed by Shigeo Tanaka
Written by Nisan Takahashi
With Kojiro Hongo (Keisuke Hirata), Kyoko Anami (Karen), Koji Fujiyama (Onodera), Akira Natsuki (Ichiro Hirata), Yuzo Hawakawa (Kawajiri), and Teruo Aragaki (Gamera)

Spoiler alert: high

Friday, May 9, 2014

The amazing web of the spectacular Spider-Man unlimited, part V: Electro Max likes electro music


In celebration of his fifth cinematic iteration, this series of reviews is devoted to the only arachnid I wouldn't scream at and kill with poison.  Here comes the Spider-Man!  

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2

Amazing 2 represents a return in many respects to the kitchen-sink narrative of Spider-Man 3and flawed it may be, deeply so, but there is true finesse here as well.  With an affecting climax that underlines exactly why this reconception of the franchise is so much more solid than the last, this film is also so stylistically insane that you could call it The Musically Audacious Spider-Man.  Its strengths are too strong to understate the matter, and I don't hesitate to go against the grain all the way: it's not only not the terrible movie you've no doubt heard it was, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the best Spider-Man film yet.

2014
Directed by Marc Webb
Written by Alex Kurtzmann, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, and James Vanderbilt
With Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker), Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy), Denis Leary (Capt. Stacy), Sally Field (May Parker), Jamie Foxx (Max Dillon), and Dane DeHaan (Harry Osborn) (for realsies this time)

Spoiler alert: high

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The amazing web of the spectacular Spider-Man unlimited, part IV: The clone saga


In celebration of his fifth cinematic iteration, this series of reviews is devoted to the only arachnid I wouldn't scream at and kill with poison.  Here comes the Spider-Man! 

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN

Few ever held the reboot to be strictly necessary in the first place, and with Amazing's rerun of half a dozen old ideas, alongside its debut of a few new, terrible ones, even the film itself seems sometimes to argue against its own existence.  But in a stroke, it's all forgiven, for with a single great idea the Amazing series more than justifies the decision to begin again.

2012
Directed by Mark Webb
Written by James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, and Steve Kloves
With Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker), Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy), Denis Leary (Capt. Stacy), Sally Field (May Parker), Martin Sheen (Ben Parker), Rhys Ifans (Curt Connor), and Dane DeHaan (Harry Osborn) (oh, can't we pretend?)

Spoiler alert: high 

The amazing web of the spectacular Spider-Man unlimited, part III: "Dear God... kill Peter Parker"


In celebration of his fifth cinematic iteration, this series of reviews is devoted to the only arachnid I wouldn't scream at and kill with poison.  Here comes the Spider-Man! 

SPIDER-MAN 3

Sam Raimi's third and final film in his Spider-Man trilogy is a paradox.  It is endlessly ambitious yet stultifyingly lazy.  It is a movie that fails, but a comic book adaptation that succeeds.  It is the result of some of the most tyrannical studio interference in history as well as of the most alienating directorial excess you could possibly imagine.  It is at once my favorite of the trilogy... and my least.  Defying all and embracing none, Spider-Man 3 is beyond "good" or "bad."  It must suffice to simply call it one of the most singular films ever made.

2007
Directed by Sam Raimi
Written by Alvin Sargent, Ivan Raimi, and Sam Raimi
With Tobey Maguire (Peter Parker), Kirsten Dunst (Mary Jane Watson), James Franco (Harry Osborn), Rosemary Harris (May Parker), J.K Simmons (J. Jonah Jameson), Topher Grace (Eddie Brock), and Thomas Hayden Church (Flint Marko)

Spoiler alert: high

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The amazing web of the spectacular Spider-Man unlimited, part II: Not the superior Spider-Man


In celebration of his fifth cinematic iteration, this series of reviews is devoted to the only arachnid I wouldn't scream at and kill with poison.  Here comes the Spider-Man! 

SPIDER-MAN 2

The bold new chapter in the Spider-Man saga does almost exactly what the first chapter did, except it does it much worse while looking much better.

2004
Directed by Sam Raimi
Written by Alfred Gough, Miles Miller, Michael Chabon, and Alvin Sargent
With Tobey Maguire (Peter Parker), Kirsten Dunst (Mary Jane Watson), James Franco (Harry Osborn), Rosemary Harris (May Parker), Cliff Robertson (Ben Parker), J.K Simmons (J. Jonah Jameson), and Alfred Molina (Otto Octavius)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Monday, May 5, 2014

The amazing web of the spectacular Spider-Man unlimited, part I: "Do what you need to with her, then broom her fast!"


In celebration of his fifth cinematic iteration, this series of reviews is devoted to the only arachnid I wouldn't scream at and kill with poison.  Here comes the Spider-Man! 

SPIDER-MAN

The classic holds up.

2002
Directed by Sam Raimi
Written by David Koepp
With Tobey Maguire (Peter Parker), Kirsten Dunst (Mary Jane Watson), James Franco (Harry Osborn), Rosemary Harris (May Parker), Cliff Robertson (Ben Parker), J.K Simmons (J. Jonah Jameson), and Willem Dafoe (Norman Osborn)

Spoiler alert: severe

Friday, May 2, 2014

Masaki Kobayashi, part II: Even in 1953 Japan, rich people hated Obamacare


Masaki Kobayashi may not be the first or even the fifth name you think of when you think of Japanese cinema.  This series of reviews is dedicated to why this is wrong.

SINCERE HEART
(Magokoro)

If you're ever in the mood for a predictable but heartfelt (and superbly class conscious) Japanese melodrama about doomed love and the destructive absurdity of emotional repression, this is the weepiest thing you're likely to find that isn't actually about children starving to death in World War II.

1953
Directed by Masaki Kobayashi
Written by Keisuke Kinoshita
With Akira Ishihama (Hiroshi Ariga) and Hitomi Nozoe (Fumiko)

Spoiler alert: severe

Thursday, May 1, 2014

We've been eating Gamera, part I: "I dunno, sir, looks like a huge turtle made its appearance!"

 

Gamera isn't the most important, or the most influential, or the most popular Japanese monster.  That just means the Guardian of the Universe may have to content himself with simply being the best.  This series of reviews is dedicated to my very favorite turtle. 

GAMERA: THE GIANT MONSTER
(Daikaiju Gamera)

A giant monster destroys Tokyo!  Stop me if you've heard this one.  But instead of standing for Japan's victimhood in the Pacific War, Gamera accidentally acknowledges responsibility for starting the war in the first place.  Well, maybe.  Anyway, just look at all the stuff they blow up!

1965
Directed by Noriaki Yuasa
Written by Nisan Takahashi
With Teruo Aragaki (Gamera), Eiji Funakoshi (Dr. Hidaka), Hirumi Kiratachi (Kyoko), Junishiro Yamashiko (Aoyagi), and Yoshiro Uchida (Kenny Toshio)

Spoiler alert: severe