Friday, July 26, 2013

Everything you wanted to know about Japan but were too lazy to look up


It needed more grit and less plot but for a while there, an iconic character is taken back to his early comic roots and I was reminded why I cared in the first place.

Directed by James Mangold
Written by Mark Bomback and Scott Frank
With Hugh Jackman (Logan), Rila Fukushima (Yukio), Tao Okamoto (Mariko), Harahiko Yamanouchi (Yashida), Famke Janssen (Jean Grey)

Spoiler alert: mild

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cowboy Bebop at his computer


Credibly brings to life the sheer oppression of being trapped with a large, tightly-knit family on account of a girl you like but who you are not sure actually likes you—however, as an Internet apocalypse movie, Summer Wars only marginally succeeds as science fiction, or science fantasy, or fiction, or fantasy.

Directed by Hasoda Mamoru
Written by and Okudera Satoko and Hasoda Mamoru
With holy shit, you're Dean fucking Venture! Michael Sinterniklaas (Koiso Kenji), Brina Palencia (Shinohara Natsuki), Pam Dougherty (Jinnouchi Sakae), God knows how many other voice actors, and there's a Japanese seiyu cast too but I watched it dubbed like a philistine—a philistine like a fox

Spoiler alert: moderate

There are a lot of ways you can go with a destructive AI let loose upon the Internet.  There's The Terminator approach, which is to give it access to your killer robots and nuclear arsenal.  There's the Ghost in the Shell approach, which is to allow your characters to talk to it and reason with it, and also giving it access to your killer robots as well as your killer sex robots.  There's The Matrix approach, which is to create an entire virtual world within which your characters' minds are wholly immersed, so that fighting software is not dissimilar to a kung fu battle.  There's the Serial Experiments Lain approach, which is to mysticize it so that it becomes a Lovecraftian horror capable of emerging into the real world (I think).  Back on the other end of the realism spectrum, there's the WarGames approach, which involves a Broderickesque nerd, if not an actual Matthew Broderick, typing on a keyboard for hours on end.  Using the WarGames method, you would be well-advised to involve some chase scenes and military guys with guns.

Then there's the Summer Wars approach, which is to have an ancillary character try to beat up all the AI's pixels with his custom M.U.G.E.N. character.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Guy killed me, Mal


An overly insistent cartoon about the Thai underworld featuring mainly white people that is better shot than Street Fighter but maybe not quite as entertaining.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Busting makes me feel good, but probably displeases the Lord


"The end result?  The Conjuring is fine, but like Insidious, while it may have its terrifying turns, it won't stick with you forever—or even overnight."

Directed by James Wan
Written by Chad Hayes and Carey Hayes
With Vera Farmiga (Lorraine Warren), Patrick Wilson (Ed Warren),  Lily Taylor (Carolyn Perron), Ron Livingston (Roger Perron), approximately four hundred and ten pounds worth of interchangably good child actors (the five Perron and one Warren daughter[s], respectively)

Spoiler warning: moderate (but goes to high with a heads-up)

Finally, a movie about pop Catholic mythology that attempts to explain the theodicy behind a nominally omnipotent, nominally omnibenevolent God, that nonetheless lets other supernatural entities venture onto the material plane, manifest greater power within this world than I Am has been witnessed to wield since Old Testament days, and eat innocent people's souls, fundamentally contradicting basic Catholic soteriology: yeah, so I saw Prince of Darkness for the first time last year, and it was amazing.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

To the or not to the


"From the moment Mia gets evil and dead, this is one of the grandest of guignols you're ever likely to see."

Directed by Fede Alvarez
Written by Rodo Sayugues, Fede Alvarez, and Diablo Cody
With Jane Levy (Mia), Shiloh Fernandez (David), Lou Taylor Pucci (Eric), Jessica Lucas (Olivia), Elizabeth Blackmore (Natalie)

Spoiler alert: moderate

The Evil Dead had almost no story and barely had characters.  Even Ash wasn't really Ash back then; Bruce Campbell was still growing into his chin.

My deficiency has since been rectified, but I didn't get a chance to rewatch the original before going to see the remake back in April.  Thus I had only my memories to which to compare it; memories corrupted by one of the sexiest movies of all time, the superior, and different, Evil Dead 2

Articleless Evil Dead 2013 hardly possesses the full ecstatic charisma of that latter film.  This remake is played very straight.  But The Evil Dead, however madcap, was itself a purer horror movie, at least in tone.  Alvarez' vision is a bit less garish than even that, and its tone is, at times, almost sullen.  This has nothing to do with the gore, which is phenomenal.  Rather, this movie thinks it has a story; it arguably has characters.

Monday, July 15, 2013

With Sean Astin as Leatherface


"Despite some pretty novel and highly competent filmmaking, Maniac adroitly eludes greatness.  And I'm relieved."

2012 by technicality/2013 for peons

Directed by Franck Kalfoun
Written by Alexandre Aja, Gregory Levasseur, and Joseph Spinell
With Elijah Wood (Frank), Nora Amezeder (Anna), Megan Duffy (Lucie), Jan Broberg (Rita)

Spoiler alert: mild

Elijah Wood is the titular villain protagonist, the male gaze made manifest in its most abhorrent form, a sexually motivated killer of women.  In theory.  I guess.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Too close for missiles, switching to giant robots


"These kaiju, if you insist on calling them that, suck."

 Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Written by Guillermo del Toro and Travis Beacham
With Charlie Hunnam (Shinji Ikari), Rinko Kikuchi (Rei Ayanami), Idris Elba (Gendo Ikari), Robert Kazinsky (Asuka Soryu), Ron Perlman (Lilith), Max Marti
With Charlie Hunnam (Raleigh Becket), Rinko Kikuchi (Mako Mori), Rinko Kamuchi's shockingly beautiful bob haircut with bangs (itself), Idris Elba (Stacker Pentecost), Robert Kazinsky (Chuck Hansen), Max Martini (Herc Hansen), Charlie Day (Newton Geiszler), Burn Gorman (Gottleib), Ron Perlman (Hannibal Chau)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Six words seldom heard: I want to be Michael Cera



Directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
Written by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Jason Stone
With Jay Baruchel (Jay Baruchel), Seth Rogen (Seth Rogen), James Franco (James Franco), Craig Robinson (I'm sure you see the pattern), Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Michael Cera, Emma Watson, Rihanna, Channing Tatum, lots and lots of other folks

Spoiler alert: moderate 

I hate it when I have to catch up with the rest of the world: This Is the End is some three and a half weeks into its theatrical run, which in this crowded summer, if not these days in general, means it's practically reached the end of its useful life there.  It's likely everyone who had any interest in seeing it already has.  In that respect, this review is superfluous.  But all my reviews are superfluous.  Arguably all reviews, period, are superfluous.  But on the off chance this reaches you today, tomorrow, or ten years from now, do yourself a solid and seek this weird, amazing movie out.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Go home, white coward. We don't need you.



Directed by Gore Verbinski
Written by Justin Haithe, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, and, one suspects, at least fifty others
With Johnny Depp (Tonto), Armie Hammer (John Reid, arguably some kind of Ranger), William Fichtner (Butch Cavendish), James Badge Dale (Dan Reid), Tom Wilkinson (Latham Cole)

When I sat down to write this review I accidentally typed The Long Ranger, and I’m tempted to just leave it at that.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Well, I wanted to believe



Written and directed by Scott Stewart
With Keri Russell (Lacy Barrett), Josh Hamilton (Daniel Barrett), Dakota Goyo (Jesse Barrett), Kaden Rockett (Sam Barrett)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Jason Blum is a rare bird, a producer who is not only commercially marketable, but whose marketability is totally justifiable. He's not marketable by name (yet), but by reputation: what you actually see on the poster is “from the producer of Paranormal Activity and Insidious [and/or Sinister],” but it does get people interested. This kind of marketing is hardly novel, but ordinarily the actual "producer of" credit is etched onto the poster using IBM’s atomic data storage technology, and almost always these other movies bear the most tenuous of relationships to the movie being sold, that relationship being merely that the same salesman managed to sell each product. This isn't the case with Blum: he could be an even rarer bird, the producer who could almost be considered an auteur in his own right.