Wednesday, October 07, 2009


So, every once in a while, I watch a move, read a book, play a game, or shoot a film that makes me very, very happy.

Zombieland did that to me tonight.

In the game space, we talk about "Triple-A" games, where the sum total of the experience is stellar, even if there are minor miss-steps in some of components (graphics, gameplay, design, hook, basics, etc.). And a really amazing AAA game wouldn't have any miss-steps.

Zombieland is amazing triple-A.

I don't want to spoil the movie, but there are zombies. Lots of them. Filling the land. Creating a zombie land.

And the various trailers do a good job of showing the film for what it is -- a survival horror comedy film.

But not flick, which is why I'm glad it falls outside of the summer throwaway popcorn diversions, but before the slasher shocktaculars of this Halloween.

And not the stuff underneath that multi-genre classification.

Firing on all cylinders, Zombieland is fun, funny, horrific, heartfelt, and polished -- not an easy combo, by any stretch -- and it doesn't fall into the tropes that horror films can fall into (cartoonish titillation, overly cheap startles, etc.).

From the overall gimmick to the VO narrative to the text special effects, the movie's a treat.

The one thing that I thought was a miss-step -- overdone gruesomeness in the first act of the film -- is actually a factor of production and narrative. First, gory, detailed effects are expensive -- use them early to get the affect you want, then cheat them later. Second (and more importantly), even though this is a comedy survival horror film, it's a survival horror film. The audience needs to get that this situation is bad, and not "pristine - get - shot - by - stormtroopers - with - lasers" bad. It's messy, gory, scary bad. Done and done.

OK. No more. See the film. If you're of age. And not overly squeamish.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Just finished X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

I'm a comic book fan. Look, I know you need to make changes to adapt IP from one medium to another, but why these changes? Not all of them felt necessary or additive.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino pulled off a(nother) good one.

I need to write more, but I'll wait until the film's had its run for a while, and see if I come back to it. Don't want to spoil it for anyone.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

District 9

I've been looking forward to District 9 for a long time.

Helmed by director Neill Blomkamp, and produced by Peter Jackson, District 9 9 is the big-screen realization of South African independent director Blomkamp's Alive in Joberg.

I've watch Blompkamp for a little while now (though most people seem to know him as the Halo insterstitials director), and I am so stoked his short film has gotten big-screen commmercial play.

The film is pretty true to original, with the budget to do the stuff Blomkamp wasn't able to do before. This is one of his strengths -- despite being a wunderkind storyteller / director / visual effects wizard trapped in a mortal body, and despite being able to pull off effects he has no right to pull off without a budget -- he doesn't try to show what he shouldn't show.

Lesson to folks making films: Take a page from Mr. Blomkamp. Too many films fall over because they're trying to show something they're not equipped to show -- actors who can't get their emotionally, special effects that don't come together, too obviously cheated locations that rob the moment of import, etc.

I don't want to say a bunch about the movie, because I don't want to give stuff away, and if you don't know about the movie, going in fresh will be a ton of fun.

Be warned -- this is not a "popcorn summer movie". This is a sci-fi genre film that's not about the sci-fi; that's just set dressing for the important stuff. And it's pretty important stuff.

Oh, and while not a comedic movie by any means, the documentary trope gives some great moments, and there's a particular funny moment I found funnier -- and have put that item at the bottom of this post, so as not to spoil it for those purists among you.

Sharlto Copley is stunning in the lead role, and keep in mind, his only two acting credits are District 9 and the original Alive in Joburg. It's the kind of acting to which I aspire.

While the film was great, and did a great job of holding onto original vision while being commercially accessible, it was a bit heavy-handed at the very end. Uncharacteristically so. Kind of like, "Wow, that's kind of ... hey, wait, oh, now it's obvious, and I was already there!"

For now, here's the Alive in Joberg precursor film (but checkout for the high-quality version with far far superior sound).

Now, if only they would give me a Tetra Vaal film; or even Tempbot:

Spoiler(ish) from District 9: A sci-fi weapon trope is the gravity gun ("grav gun"). There's a brief, not overdone moment where a grav gun is used to unexpectedly grab and launch a large pig, killing a man. It's wicked fast, slickly executed, and not telegraphed.

Now let me ruin it for you.

The man was killed because ... (wait for it) swine flew ...

(It's hilarious! It's topical! I slay me!)

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Saw Brüno last night.

Too-short summary: More gratuitous than Borat, with less plot.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Hangover

I went to see The Hangover as a throw-away evening, and was pleasantly surprised.

The movie was funny, fairly intact on the narrative side, and had some laugh-out-loud moments.

My only criticism is that while good, actors Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, and Rob Riggle didn't feel like they were acting that much -- or at least acting out of the type they've nailed very well. Maybe Helms was.

The same may be true for Bradley Cooper, but I'm sadly not familiar with him. I do now want to catch up on more of his stuff (and am now looking forward to his role in the A-Team reboot), thanks to this film.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Wolverine and the X-Men

The new vehicle for one of Marvel Comics's cash cows, the merry mutants that are the X-Men, debuted this weekend.

Wolverine and the X-Men is the newest cartoon for the X-Gene challenged, and I find it so far to be a good mix between my beloved 90s series, and X-Men: Evolution (from which it takes some heavy visual cues).

The series has some serious talent on the acting side (Nolan North, Liam O'Brien,Richard Doyle, Kari Wahlgren, etc.), same writer (Craig Kyle, also a comic book scribe) as X-Men: Evolution. I'm a big Steve Blum fan, though I think he's more of a Cowboy Bebop / Spike guy than a berzerker canuck, so his emoting felt a little off in the first two episodes. I'm hoping he flexes into it (and I know he can, so it's not a talent issue at all).

Not that everything's rosy with the series. Marvel is going to have a serious challenge of doing the series justice, without bending it too much on its ear to support the X-Men Origins: Wolverine film vehicle in May (example: Cyclops is a leader of the X-Men; Storm is a leader of the X-Men; Wolverine is not so much).

Marvel also has a glut of animated content available or coming down the pipe (the current Spider-Man series; the new Iron Man series that has me concerned; all of the Lions Gate direct-to-DVD fair (they already had to smartly combine the two "Hulk Versus" films; etc.). I do have a concern that people will get saturated with it, and we'll have a late-1990s(ish) tailing of interest in all things comic book. That would make me sad.

I think what will mitigate it is companies treating these things for what they are -- not comic book properties, per se, but intellectual properties with various expressions, one of which happens to be comic books. The dark horse is whether the fanboys will give the properties that latitude.

Lookit me -- I start out with quick impressions, and wind up with the start of a biz dev article. I'm complex that way.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Prince Caspian (Blu-ray)

I finally got around to watching Prince Caspian on Blu-ray last night.

The film does well, even if it isn't the emotional powerhouse of the first Narnia film (nor the commercial one, grossing roughly half of its predecessor's box office earnings).

Caspian is a tougher book with which to follow The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but arguably a needed setup for following films.

Titular hero Ben Barnes does a solid job (though his accent seems a bit inconsistent in the more emotional moments), and I hope to see more of him in the follow-up film, and in other projects.

And while Warwick Davis will always be Willow to me (and Wicket), I'm impressed with the amount of work he does, how hard he works, and his diversity in roles (and people probably don't remember his previous tie to the 1980s TV incarnation Narnia franchise).

I'd really like to see more of Anna Popplewell (who portrays Susan Pevensie, and has an absolutely stunning on-screen presence), and William Moseley (High King Peter Pevensie). Though given the nature of the Narnia storyline, this will have to be via other film vehicles.

Long-time actor (and first-time villain) Sergio Castellitto makes a convincing baddy, with the boudoir scene being his most powerful.

I thought Pierfrancesco Favino (General Glozelle) was ridiculously underutilized in the film, and now I'm going to have to run out and grab a few of his French films to see if I'm right.

The next film in the series is allegedly The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which will make (I think) for a far better film than Caspian (think Jason and the Argonauts(ish), which could be tough, given that film's possible relaunch in the same 2010 year as Dawn Treader).

Again, Caspian is a great film, the Blu-ray transfer is solid, and I hope more people will start liking or disliking the Narnia films based on their own merits (and those of the talent), without liking / hating them just because they're pro- or anti-christian.