Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Okay. So, Scott Pilgrim.

Everyone kept telling me to see this movie, everyone ensured me it was my cup of tea, right up my alley, the real deal, totally something I'd be into if only I gave it a chance (as usual, the awful trailer put me off).

I saw it; it really wasn't as bad as I thought it was. Nonetheless I was asked, "so what did you think of it?" to which my earnest reply, in a slight daze, was "I've never loved and hated a movie at the same time before".

That really is the only way I can describe my personal alignment toward this movie. If you asked me to give it a rating out of five stars, I'd have to get back to you on whether it was worth five or zero. In fact I may never reach that conclusion for as long as I live.

So let's just delve right in here.

I am still reeling in shock that this was directed by Edgar Wright, who directed Hot Fuzz and Sean Of The Dead. I will give him his due for stepping out and doing something completely different, but I'm a little unsure he was the right director for this film.

I will not pretend to be a Scott Pilgrim fan - I haven't read the comic (though now I am curious to do so). I've only played the videogame which was a lot of fun despite focusing strangely too much on grinding for a beat-em-up (though I was massively biased toward that game because I am a longtime fan of the pixel art of Paul Robertson). But I think it was a poor choice to cast the bumbling, goose-necked Michael Cera as Scott.

I... I don't like him. It's a personal thing. Some people love him but he was just too much of a dork in that movie. The script he was given didn't help - I found Scott Pilgrim himself to be a profoundly unlikable character until the final scene of the film when he actually realises he's kind of been a gigantic dick to everybody and (finally) makes things right.

Now, the Exes on the other hand, were another matter entirely. In my opinion they saved this film. I was practically squirming in my chair through the first movement of the movie, until finally the Satanic Indian Matthew Patel showed up out of nowhere and started singing, surrounded by flying succubi. The whole thing had me in stitches and I realised this movie could still pick up yet, and it did.

The saving grace of this entire film was the lavish cast of opponents Scott has to face. Every one of them was a hilarious, larger-than-life personality, and my only gripe was that the Twins didn't get enough exploration. They are more of a walk-on part in comparison which I think is a shame.

To be honest I think it has a lot to do with the awkward directorial choice to create a live action movie based on a comic which is about videogames. As a result we have a movie with real actors walking around and walking into poles and banging drums which produce big comic-book words for sound effects. I wouldn't have a problem with this if everyone didn't also explode into coins when Scott defeated them or sprites and pixels didn't keep appearing along with Nintendo sound design. I couldn't decide whether it was supposed to be a movie about comics or videogames, and apparently neither could Edgar Wright.

The fight scenes for me were the hilight of the film, brilliantly directed and pulse-pounding, with highly creative special effects and a keen eye for spectacle. I have a fishy suspicion that these moments were the very reason and impetus for this whole movie being created. Certainly, they are the only parts I really enjoyed. If I had to give a black and white, straightforward summary of the film, I would say that the action scenes were fantastic but most of the jokes were lame.
This is obviously a personal thing and your tastes may vary, but I think it is a bit of a warning sign when a movie is made sheerly and solely for fans of retro video games of yesteryear and an obsessive fan of retro video games of yesterday doesn't find most of them funny. Again, strangely, the only parts I really laughed hard at were the bits with the exes - they are just so perfectly cast. The vegan bass guitarist, Todd Ingram, steals every shot he's in and his whole scene left me hysterical. I don't think there was a single evil ex of Ramona's (ironically) that turned me off as a character, as opposed to the more fickle, whiney, limp-wristed cast of heroes.

Ramona is a piece of ass but her personality is nothing short of repellant, Scott's band and friends are either grumpy, bitchy or just plain stupid (with the exception of his admittedly pretty funny gay housemate), and I am still really confused and a bit confronted by how everyone just keeps dumping and cheating on each other. Seriously, is this a Generation thing? A Canadian thing?? Am I so outside the social world this movie portrays?

Gideon made for a good final villain - I liked how charming he was - but my major complaint here is that with the compression of a comic series into a feature-length film comes the fact that we didn't really get to know him enough. As a boss, he's fantastic, but as a villain he's kind of lame; at least in the sense that he kind of shows up out of nowhere and we have to sort of take it for granted that he's the final challenge and the big bad. I think with more time there could have been a more solid buildup which overall would have strengthened the story, which I found focused a bit too much on Scott's hang-ups.

I will concede the movie wrapped itself up very nicely, though I found the beginning to be rather interminable - and unlike my fellow film nerd Arch, I don't find jokes about Michael Cera being a totally unattractive dork very funny.

So yeah.

I'm afraid I can't really conclude by saying whether I love this movie or hate it. Only that it was certainly an experience. I admit that I have no regrets about seeing it; I knew I had to see it sooner or later. But just because there are a lot of bloops and pixels, doesn't mean a movie is right up my alley.

Friday, December 17, 2010

We've got a lot to talk about.

Thing is, I am currently being worked like a dog and I'm also about as sick as one - I was sent home early from work today, which is crazy because it's taken four days for a supervisor of any capacity to say, "you look sick enough to go home" rather than simply "wow you look like dogshit". No skin off my nose, it's money in the kitty, but on the other hand goddamn I'm looking forward to my days off next week. What will I do with all that spare time?!

Well, apart from catching the hell up with Headbucket, I'm going to be spamming you guys with reviews.

1) Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

A detailed explanation as to why it was a bittersweet experience for me, neither astoundingly good or astoundingly bad - but rather a strange mix of both.

2) Tron: Legacy

Rant detailing how the movie vastly exceeded my expectations - how it could have been better, or at least very different, and what it got right beyond the soundtrack everyone is talking about.

3) Megamind

I've had a certain friend of mine begging me for ages to review this film and I kind of just have a free pass for two sitting there so I mean whatever. I was going to review it side-by-side against Despicable Me but, despite having a free pass for it, I never felt inspired to go and see it. I'll probably have to end up renting a DVD for the double-review, which I will still be doing after this one. Eugh.

Monday, November 8, 2010

So there are these movie packs at my local Coles

...and they look bloody awful.

They are five-packs, twenty dollars each (wow crazy value right? RIGHT?), but the collections on them are pretty terrible. One of them has all five Doctor Dolittle movies. I didn't even know they made that many.

And so, for your enjoyment, I'm going to purchase some of these horrid collections (Dr. Dolittle included, of course) and see if I can somehow watch all five movies on each disc in one sitting. It'll be like a game.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Human Centipede: Where to from here?!

Today I hung out with my old friend Nick and we bought a bag of chips and went to his place to watch a movie.

That movie was The Human Centipede.

I hope you clicked that link! Congratulations, you've officially seen the whole movie!!
Except for the part where the cops run in at the end and get shot and the mad scientist dies and the people on the front and back of the centipede both die and the girl in the middle is the only survivor.

Oops, -Spoiler alert-

Okay so maybe it's not exactly good form to deliberately tell someone the plot and ending and then warn them afterwards about the spoiler. But if you actually planned on watching this film, and would have enjoyed it had I not just spoiled it for you, then you belong in a home for the mentally unsound.

Where do I even begin with this travesty?
Somehow it picked up a budget of one and a half million euros (it was made by a Brit, Tom Six, though I didn't realise this because the two main characters were enragingly irritating valley girls) and wound up grossing about a hundred and eighty thousand dollars back worldwide. Clearly it was eaten alive by word of mouth. Not hard for a film where people walked out in disgust during the test screenings.

Perhaps the most stunning thing of all is that this movie was intended to be part of a trilogy. Rumour has it that the second is already in post production (I can only assume it had begun being made before the results for the first bomb came in), because not only is this concept now officially a guaranteed misfire, but this world has nowhere to go.

IMDB sums up this movie more or less perfectly in the following paragraph:

"A mad scientist kidnaps and mutilates a trio of tourists in order to "reassemble" them into a new "pet"-- a human centipede, created by stitching their mouths to each others' rectums."

Yyyep. That's pretty much it.

Now, this film has become notorious, utterly notorious, for being one of the most revolting films ever made. Everything you think would happen in those circumstances does - they inadvertently eat each other's poo and the one at the end dies from an infection. I know Nick didn't take it quite as well as I did.
I just sat there pointing and laughing, making puns.

"Hey Nick, looks like she's between a rock and a hard place!"

It probably has to do with three things.
One, the characters were so pathetically one-dimensional that I literally could not have cared less about what happened to any of them. Two, I grew up with the internet. Things like people eating each other's feces is a concept you will run into eventually. Thirdly, the gore was not really all that shocking. Certainly nothing worse than the terribad but hilarious Machine Girl, which Nick and I watched directly afterwards.

Actually it's basically impossible to be scared by a movie where the mad scientist shows anyone a picture that looks like this.

That is actually from the movie.
Yeah, I know!!

What I really just cannot get over is that there was going to be three movies! Where can this idea go??

Apparently the sequel is going to have a Human Millipede (my own term), the same thing as from this movie but with twelve people. Not really sure how this works as a) the stereotypical, clichéd creepy nazi doctor is dead now and b) he acts like this is the first time he's ever gotten it to work with humans. Which means that whoever made the 12-person version was someone else.

What could Part Three have possibly been about?

Nick and I got to discussing this. Clearly, the only direction for it left to go is for an absolutely massive chain of people to be made, then the first person is fed all this yummy food and immediately has his mouth stitched up to someone's ass. Then the food will just keep going around and around this thing and speeding up until one of them is so disgusted at having to eat all this shit that they puke in the opposite direction. Then when the shit and puke meet, there will be this massive explosion and they will discover the Higgs Boson.

It will be called,

Now THAT'S an interesting idea for a movie!!!

Hey, you know what would be even better? If this thing makes money, right, then the sequel would be about some evil NASA scientists who hear about this crazy stunt (which probably took place in Switzerland or something) and use the same principal to construct a space elevator out of humans beings. They lead right up into outer space and basically whenever they want to send supplies to the moon, one of the people at the bottom on Earth has their mouth unstitched and they are fed the supplies and it goes all the way up via the digestive tract.

But then they rebel!!

See I didn't even come up with this shitty idea and I've already come up with some ideas for sequels that are at least interesting.

Honestly Nick and I only watched this to say that we had. It's one more thing to put on my resumé, I guess. "Managed to watch The Human Centipede without barfing once". But was it really worth it?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tin Tin yeah more like Cringe Tin amirite pplz

So you know how James Cameron just released this ground-breaking motion capture technology that allows virtually limitless creativity, right? Well, you know how they were making a Tin Tin movie? You guys remember Tin Tin, right? This guy?

Yeah, you remember him. Of course you do. He's classic, he's a legend. He was the brainchild of Belgian comic book genius Hergé. He brought us the mysterious explorations of lovable Tin Tin, the titular scamp who gets into all sorts of crazy adventures.
And who could possibly forget his wacky cohort, Captain Haddock?

Obviously Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg.

This is what they are doing with James Cameron's Avatar technology. This is what they are doing to Tin Tin.


He looks like a fucking mutant.

It reminds me of these pictures that keep floating around the internet:

"Blistering barnacles!!!"


You know, when I first heard they were making a Tin Tin movie using the Avatar mocap technology I was excited as hell. I was imagining a thrilling tribute to the comic and animated series featuring the clean, simplistically rendered designs of Hergé, a master of artistic conservation who enjoyed populating meticulously detailed backgrounds with simply drawn characters who barely had dots for eyes and lines for noses. It was a style.

This is just...

Eugh, gross.

I can't tell who looks scarier, Tin Tin or the dog.

We are launching headfirst into the old Uncanny Valley argument again here; it's been discussed many times before so I shall be brief, but I'd like to offer up a comparison for your consideration.
With the use of the proposed motion capture technology, these ugly, nightmarish messes of facial features will move realistically and convincingly, just as a human's. The real question is, is that better or worse than watching the eerily photo-real faces of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within or The Polar Express shamble their way through swathes of dialogue with stilted, botox-ridden faces?

In either case, the picture here is incomplete.
If you want characters that look human, grab a camera, it's not that hard. They've been doing it for over a hundred years now. If you want them to look like cartoons? Draw them!

Sorry, is there something wrong with 2D? Did I miss something?
Didn't John Lasseter, the guy who got Pixar rolling, advocate more 2D animation in feature films? Instead we are being treated to a perplexing misuse of an amazing technology for an entirely self-defeating artistic blunder and destroying a loved masterpiece in the process. The truly scary part is that this movie doesn't even have a style. It's just creepy. There's nothing in those models to make you say, "oh, these are based off Hergé's drawings, obviously" or "that character was clearly modelled by -famous character designer-". It's just a human face that has been cut off and wrapped around a mishapen skull. I mean jesus, just look at this mess.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Great Sperm Bank Robbery

Or: The Movie That Was Like A Much Shittier Version Of Avatar That Somehow Still Seemed Deeper In Terms Of Theme

I nearly forgot to review Battle For Terra, but thankfully Crowbar, a regular follower of this blog, reminded me that it was still in pending. And this film is just too weird not to talk about.

I'm not going to tear this film apart. It's not going to be a no-holds-barred-critical-beatdown as seen on such violations to my senses as Spaghetti With A Chance Of Meatballs. But as a disclaimour, this was not a good movie. In fact it was pretty lame. The ultimate issue was that it felt like a kid's movie aimed at adults, and the viewership was utterly called into question. Having gotten that out of the way, I am basically going to analyse this film and draw some interesting comparisons to James Cameron's Avatar.

Alright, so the reason I thought "The Great Sperm Bank Robbery" would be a much better name for this movie is because the aliens in it all seriously look like spermatozoa with humongous, cutesy eyes. And then they all get sieged at the beginning of the movie and whole bunches of them are captured and taken away to a huge mothership (hmm... mothership, I only noticed that just now), which from the aliens' point of view looks kind of like a giant circle floating in the sky.

Like an egg, you could say.

Okay enough on that, because although there are a lot of things here that disturbingly remind me of reproduction, it doesn't seem to go anywhere and it would probably be more important to talk about the plot of the film itself.

So basically, the plot of the film is Avatar. I'm not kidding. They kind of came out at the same time and the ideas are pretty broadly cookie-cutter Science Fiction, so I will not sound like a douche and say that they ripped each other off. What I will say, however, is that for such a shitty film (Battle For Terra is pretty shitty), it has some amazingly well-developed themes and story ideas, which actually surpass any of those found in Avatar.

For a start, the female protagonist is actually one of the aliens, which startled me. The human which comes into the story quite a bit later is seen as the support role; he is not the hero, but the sidekick, so to speak. He is saved by our alien main character, and they later operate to each other's mutual benefit. Throughout the film they become close friends, perhaps even soulmates, but not in a romantic or sexual way. They are just two sentient beings that need each other to gain a fuller understanding of life. Which is one gigantic "motherfuck you" to the "I had sex with this hot bitch and now I sympathise with their race" plot of Avatar.

The models for the humans (perhaps it's a good thing I couldn't find more of them) are frankly ugly as sin, but their humans feel a lot more human. The major exception to this rule is that of the human antagonist, a general (it's always a general). He is only slightly more fleshed out than the barbarian, racist Colonel from Avatar, which is kind of like saying he's slightly less evil than Satan.


By far the more interesting plot on show here is that of the alien secret society. Throughout the film we see a group of alien Wise Ones who govern the Spermlings and issue them orders. They are the beings who are responsible (reputedly) for the Terrans living their whole lives in tranquil peace. You know, kind of like the Na'vi from Avatar.

The difference here is that we don't get our intelligences insulted with that supposed peacefulness. It turns out the wise ones have actually been amassing weapons of war for a long time, training soldiers to use them, and have effectively been brainwashing the masses into thinking everything is okay. It turns out there is actually a streak of political intrigue here and a message that no race is completely devoid of a warlust.

A bit bleaker than Avatar? I don't know, is it really?

In Avatar we are led to believe that the Na'vi are morally infallible, and barely understand the concept of war let alone practice it, because basically the Na'vi are totally unlike humans (well, the humans who are rich and influential enough to make it to other planets, anyway) and wear necklaces made of flowers while skipping over the sunset to the beat of a Tiny Tim song. Until they suddenly take up arms and viciously slaughter the humans in a blood bath worthy of the Lord Of The Rings. Am I seriously the only one who sees the irony here? How can such a crappy direct-to-DVD film beat such a popular cashcow with the implementation of a few clever themes?


I mean, before you pull out your wallets and rush off to see Battle For Terra, be warned that the script is pretty horrendous in some ways (lots of cliché, reliance on very familiar situations and character types) to counterbalance the surprising enginuity of themes mentioned above. The graphics vary from "surprisingly good" to "bad, even for a direct-to-DVD" production. The alien faces are very expressive in contrast to the creepy, action-figure like humans. It seems for every yin that makes this film watchable, there is a yang elsewhere to put you off.

So what is the upshot of all this? Do I like this film or not?

Well no, this film isn't great and I certainly wouldn't go out and buy the DVD (thus defeating the purpose of a direct-to-DVD movie). But I was genuinely surprised and delighted by the thematic depth of the script and even a few of the characters. But I'll tell you one thing.

If Avatar, with its beautiful graphics and expertly handled 3D, and highly competent cast of talent, had the depth of theme of Battle For Terra, then it would be the greatest movie of all time. Instead what we have here are two movies that are really quite incomplete, and need each other to survive. Potent, and with great potential for vibrancy and life, but individually useless. Like a sperm and an egg or something.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

And on a lighter note...

Read this. Now.

A friend of mine linked me to this a while ago and it virtually sums up everything I love about Pixar and, indeed, animation in general. If I were ever dumb enough to set up my own company, I'd use this page right here as my mission statement.
I even clipped one of Brad Bird's more powerful quotes and blue-tacked it to my monitor. It reads:

"You don't play it safe. You do something that scares you, that's the edge of your capabilities, where you might fail. That's what gets you up in the morning."

Read and consider.

Friday, October 22, 2010

So, a post about a game

That's a first for this one. I've branched out into film a few times but this really does warrant a mention. Mostly because it's mind-bogglingly, staggeringly retarded.

Surely some of you have heard of the indie game Minecraft. I've been playing it a lot lately and I have to say it is easily one of the greatest games I've played in years.

The brainchild and pet project of Swedish game designer Markus Persson, the best way to describe this game is an exploration game with elements of surival horror, the creative freedom of Lego (actually more creative freedom than Lego, come to think of it) and the best (only?) good thing about the red faction games. If you have the patience, you can essentially remodel the very realistic (if obviously quite blocky) landscape into whatever you want it to be. People have made some truly insane stuff in this indie gem, and as my friends know, I hardly play games at all these days but Minecraft has been sucking up every ounce of my spare time lately.

But you didn't write this article to promote some game, did you??

Well, no, the issue here is that last night I couldn't get onto the goddamn website or get a multiplayer server running because of a DDoS attack on the site.

The folks taking credit for this "co-ordinated attack" are none other than those lovable scamps from 4chan. Apparently, they were sending Markus a 'clear message' that they were unhappy about having to wait for updates for this game and so it would be in their best interests to bombard him with Distributed Denial of Service barrages effectively crippling the site, and in particular sales of the game, for several hours. This would therefore (?) coerce him into working harder on the game and releasing the updates faster.

One theory I heard is that the people from 4chan have nothing to do with this and are simply taking credit for it, and honestly, I am inclined to agree. The reasons I think this is the case are the same reasons this DDoS attack would be a fundamentally stupid thing to do if it were actually a deliberate attack from disgruntled fans:

  • Markus has been mentioning for some time now that he is planning a Hallowe'en update, which will be released on Hallowe'en. If this DDoS attack was really a kick up the arse to get things moving, then good lord, talk about impatience.
  • Updates are, always have been, and always should be a bonus to players. Patches are something we should expect if we pay ninety dollars for a game from a huge studio and our guy falls off his horse and into the ground and dies. But to target an indie developer because he's not catering to his fans fast enough for a ten euro game is just plain moronic.
  • Minecraft is incredibly playable in its current state. I'm going to come out and admit that I played this game before buying it for a few weeks on a friend's account, and only bought it last night (somehow! Moments before the DDoS attack that was apparently supposed to stop people like me from buying it). I was still overwhelmed enough with the quality and excellence of the game to happily fork over ten euros just so I could have my own account. In fact, I mostly did it just to support Markus and the indie scene. I don't care if he's already rich, he fucking deserves it for making a game I love.
  • Murdering Markus' site and cutting off sales is not going to motivate him to make updates for this game. One parallel I read which I found exceedingly hilarious is of a man who breaks his wife's hands and immediately demands her to make him a sandwich. We're lucky Markus isn't less of a man and just packed it in because of the attacks, running away with ten million euros and leaving us with an Alpha that had updates just around the corner.
  • The guy is starting a fucking business. Anyone who has ever had to sit down and fill out a tax return should be able to guess how much work that involves. He's only hiring like, what, five, six people to help him out?? If you can stand the horrifying, ageless wait that it will take for him to get the business shit sorted out I'm sure we will be getting many more updates far more regularly from now on.
I mean, 4chan would take credit for this, wouldn't they? I thought the whole "scientology protest" thing was cute, a bunch of hopeless, friendless basement dwellers at least attempting to do something meaningful with their lives, but actively lashing out against independent game developers in an industry climate where EA absorb franchises like a gelatinous cube and destroys independent game developers who make games like Minecraft out of love in their spare time doesn't even make sense. Who the fuck even knows.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga'Hoole?

Oh, I have? Ah, but I didn't explain why.

Okay, okay. At the behest of a few followers who wished for me to elaborate, Legend of the Guardians shall now receive far more than it deserves, which is the time it will take me to write a proper review.


I love owls. If you don't believe me, perhaps the following will say a thing or two about how obsessed I am with them.

Here is a singing owl from my personal collection.

And here is a gorgeous statue of an owl roost.

Here is an owl eyemask which I wear every night to go to sleep. It's a gag about being a nightowl, you see?

Everyone thinks the residents of Owl Village are creepy but me.

I also read a lot on the subject.

This may have all started with an old Amiga sidescrolling shooter by Psygnosis called "Agony". In it, you were an owl who could shoot waves of energy and collect swords that floated around you psychically. The aim of the game was basically to be an owl and kick some ass.


So how did Animal Logic manage to take my absolute favourite family of birds (and I love birds in general), make an entire movie out of them, and leave me feeling spectacularly underwhelmed, even frustrated?

Well, it's this poisonous little word I tend to unsheathe like a weapon quite frequently on this bitchy blog of mine:


Yes, ladies and gentlemen, in my years as an avid viewer of any film I can get my hands on, and after a degree's worth of studying film and animation in squirming, pinned-to-the-wall scrutiny, I have officially lost my ability to "switch off my brain" and enjoy a film that clearly doesn't take the art of storytelling seriously. I feel insulted as soon as I become consciously aware that a writer is attempting to deliberately manipulate my emotions through the use of hackneyed story mechanics as opposed to skillful use of empathy. This is the ultimate downfall of Legend of the Guardians: cliché.

I am going to try not to spoil too much here (I have actually encountered human beings who like this movie for some reason), but it's not much of a movie-killer to say that the hero's brother, Kludd, is so incredibly lacking for any proper motivation to his actions that it is a wonder he is even there. He feels more like a tool of the writers than a character, and once you push a character into that brainless territory you seriously need to write a second draft.
There were some good messages in this film that were more or less squandered completely.
A theme that should have been brotherly forgiveness under any circumstances came out of the oven shaped more like a cautionary tale about blind ignorance. The bad guys sounded and felt like some kind of Owl faschist regime, delegating lower orders to slave labour, but the villains of the piece were not scary. Least of all Metal Beak, and if you can't make a fascist scary then you're doing it wrong. He should have been better developed, but instead it felt more like he was just sitting there on the Bad Guy platform doing jack shit when in fact, the queen was a lot more intimidating and performed a lot more action. Either something of his character has been lost in translation from the books these are based on or he is such a weak villain they ought to have cut him out of the story altogether.
The plot runs around in circles to the point of exhaustion, and by the end of it you just want the damn story to be over and done with. The characters are almost universally infuriating, with only a couple of exceptions. The protagonist in particular is a boring, vapid character, which is unfortunately a very common problem in stories; they try to play a 'straight' character for the main role, but there's a difference between the straight man in an oddball cast and the most boring character in the movie. I think Soren's dedicated belief that the guardians are real is supposed to be somehow endearing, but it just comes off as annoying. I actually sympathised with his brother until the eightieth mean quip, because I agreed with him. It was suggested that Kludd had heard the same damn story from Soren a billion times before and even before they met them in the movie, I was sick of the bloody guardians.

But enough about the story. There are other things that weaken this movie, unfortunately.

Zack Snyder amazes me, he really does. I enjoyed The 300. I also enjoyed Watchmen, I thought they were both brilliant movies (well, the theatrical version of Watchmen, at least). People made fun of his overuse of slow motion, but I actually quite liked it! I thought it worked well in The 300 and it was deployed quite sensibly in Watchmen. And then there is Legend of the Guardians.



...does the slow motion get old fast.

For a film so full of fight scenes, there is not a single slash of claws or pass of wings that doesn't lock into painful SUPER HIGH SPEED CAMERA technology porn. If the movie had no slow motion scenes at all, the fights would be far more exciting and believable. But then again the movie would be about eight minutes long.

The film looks beautiful, with exquisitely lush scenery and amazing detail on the owls themselves, but the animation suffers with certain characters like Digger who are grotesquely overanimated (suffering from that overly cartoony "snappy" syndrome I bring up from time to time). There are about three characters like this, and it wouldn't bother me as much if the rest of the owls did not move so gracefully, but it removes a layer of suspension of disbelief when you are watching something that simultaneously looks like a live action nature film and a cartoon.

The score started out quite interesting, it got a bit "heard it all before" toward the end, but as my previous post may have suggested, the inclusion of a montage sequence set to an Owl City song practically had me tearing the arms off my chair in the cinema. I actually felt humiliated to even be present in a cinema screening the movie. If anything does not fit in The Legend Of The Guardians in any capacity, if there is anything that could destroy the tone of that film even more than the poor characterisations and storytelling, it is an Owl City song.

People complained that they didn't understand how owls could fashion armour or bind books if they are just owls. To be honest, I didn't even notice that. I don't nitpick for the sake of nitpicking. I was too busy being consumed with rage over all the story problems.

Finally, the accents.

I am Australian. And the accents got on my nerves. Do people from beyond Queensland really talk like that? Or did the actors put it on a bit for the overseas markets? I'm honestly tempted to guess the latter. The English accents were no better - the scruffy kidnapper owls at the beginning of the movie sounded exactly like what they were: bad cockne impressions. It didn't help that they were trying to play a "two-man British comedy team" that fell on its face so hard it left a small crater.

Alright, I'm done whinging!

Ta, loves.

Friday, October 1, 2010

So, Legend of the Guardians.

My opinion of this movie is rather difficult to express with words.

Perhaps this will help.

What a worthless piece of shit.

Zack Snyder, you ought to be flogged.

Friday, August 27, 2010

So how far is too far?

Did you find the above comic to be offensive? Tasteless? Dumb? Or just fucking hilarious?

Next post will be a rather long one dedicated to discussing animations and other media that push boundaries. Do they mock censorship and cause a ruckus for a laugh? Or is there a more political or philosophical dimension to it?
I was already planning on making a post about this with reference to animations and shows such as South Park, Wonder Showzen and the more extreme offerings from Adult Swim, shows that go above and beyond the call of duty to push buttons and even offend. Of course, I knew that this was something I had to do after seeing Four Lions by Chris Morris, a hilarious screwball comedy about a group of bungling Muslim terrorists. It's the kind of comedy that leaves you clutching your stomach with laughter and feeling quite guilty for doing so.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The spambots are conspicuously absent when I expect them

Just wait, I'll replace the post about the Chinese spambots with this one and this post will get bombarded in a day. Anyway.

Announcing a small haitus as I am about to move in two days. Which means I'll be busy packing for those days and once we've moved, I don't know how long it will be until we get internet up and running at the new place.

Once we do, however, there are some movies and TV series I would like to discuss! Perhaps expect a new post in a week or two.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dear Stephen King, please stick to books.

"Now you're king of the mountain. But it's all garbage!!" Kaneda, from the original 'Akira' dub

Okay, so, let me start this post out by saying that I actually quite like Stephen King. I'm not in love with the guy, his writing style isn't perfect (and I am now finally well-read enough to realise that), but the stories are fun and engaging and quite weird. I can't, however, say the guy is scary. Calling him the "King of Macabre" is an extravagance he frankly does not deserve (if anyone wants to read something macabre, perhaps you should check out Jeff Vandermeer's 'Veniss Underground').
No, rather, his stories are simply of a spooky aesthetic. Not unlike the films of Tim Burton; they aren't scary, but they are spooky, it's all about the strange atmosphere, the mood.

Let me tell you who can pull off 'scary'. Lars Von Trier.

Arch came home a while ago with yet another slew of new DVDs aquired from the magnetic, parasitic, money-gorging beast that is JB Hifi, among them a Danish miniseries called "The Kingdom". He pointed out that it was directed by Lars Von Trier, as though this alone justified the purchase of two seasons of a show neither of us had ever heard of.
I asked, "who's Lars Von Trier?"
Arch dramatically rolled his eyes and discontentedly spat out, "I'm sick of having to tell you. I'm sure I've told you at least five times."
Knowing Arch will be Arch, I accepted this and probed, "well the name rings a bell, but just refresh me, what has the guy done?"
He smirked and said, "nothing you would have heard of".
Upon examining the man's back catalogue, it turns out he was right. I have no idea what the fuck any of these things are, but I'll tell you one thing, The Kingdom ('Riget' in Danish) is probably one of the most mind-blowingly awesome television shows I have ever seen in my entire life.

The show bundles with it an earthy, homemade which makes it painfully engaging. One gets the sense that beyond a couple of very simple special effects, this show was made on practically no budget at all. And yet it is carried by the sheer skill of Lars Von Trier's insanity.
The editing is haphazard - what looks like a single take is often jilted into several - and most of the camerawork is hand held, slightly shaky. Everything has a disgusting red wash over it that, just as the green tints used in the Matrix made everything seem slightly more artificial, lend the entire hospital - even in its most mundane moments - a chilling sense of oncoming dread.

What I love most about this show, however, is the dialogue and the acting.

The characters are universally hilarious, deranged and hypnotising. There is the trainee nurse who refuses to witness an operation; the lovable, self-declared psychic Mrs. Drusse and her oafish son; the student whose love for a woman in the hospital is so incredibly deranged that he is willing to desecrate corpses to prove a point; the omniscient dishpigs with down syndrome who seem to be more in touch with reality than the surgeons; or my personal favourite, Stig Helmer, the stuck-up sham of a brainsurgeon who was exiled from Sweden and now resides in Denmark, possibly the country he hates more than anything else on earth.
There is a realness to these characters; flaws, redeeming features, quirks, untold intricacies, that draw you in and hook you with every episode. It is not the fear of the unknown that propels you through the series, but wondering how this unknown will affect the lives of the living, breathing human beings who reside in this hospital.

On that note, I must warn you in advance that the scary moments in this show are few and far between. The pace is extremely relaxed and never rushes to any conclusions. But when the freaky moments come they hit pretty hard as a result. Lars Von Trier is clearly a believer in "less is more" and he has succeeded brilliantly in creating a rich, immersive world that pulls and tugs at you with all its might.

Aaaand then there's the Stephen King version.

As many picky nerds such as myself will always be tripping over themselves to tell you, remaking something fantastic usually ends badly. Why? Because there's no fucking point in remaking it.
I'm sure Crispin Glover had the time of his life acting as Willard or The Wizard Of Gore, hamming up the cheese to critical levels, but no one really gives a shit about the originals so he had nothing to loose. The same treatment has been given to The Kingdom and the end result is an extremely cheesy version of a really good show.

Everything I like about The Kingdom, everything, has either been removed (for instance, the homebrew camerawork) or dumbed down to the point of insulting one's intelligence (for instance, the script).
The characters have somehow been simplified from three dimensions to one. Only the most superficial and cursory elements of the original cast have been brought into the remake, as though the reality of European conversation is simply too much for an American mind to handle.

The easiest way to describe Kingdom Hospital is as a dumb version of The Kingdom. It's an art film script given to Michael Bay to direct. Hence we have flashy special effects (which now look pretty dated), stupidly snarky and bravado versions of the entire cast, and many more "spoooooooooooooOOOOOooooky" moments which fail to scare at even the most withdrawn, interior level. While The Kingdom was a scalpel in the hands of a skilled surgeon, making precise cuts in exactly the right areas that would not be felt under the anesthetic, Kingdom Hospital is a rusty hacksaw in the hands of a bubble-headed nurse from Silent Hill. It straps you down in a chair and orders you, nay, commands you to be terrified. Then it explains itself in precise terms why it is so scary and why you should be scared of it.

Personally, however, I'd have to say the greatest sin of Kingdom Hospital is of Stephen King's incredibly vain (though admittedly not exactly new) decision to write himself into the fucking story.
The main difference between his Gary Stu in this ridiculous exercise in pointlessness from his far more forgivable literary works is that this guy is a painter (and also a hilariously crappy one, which no one in the story seems to notice but I guess I'll hold my tongue). Usually when Stephen King writes Stephen King into a novel and changes the name, he's still a writer. So this was a pretty brave move for him. He's essentially just decided to write himself into The Kingdom, like a bad fanfiction, based on the time he got his clumsy ass hit by a huge motherfuckin' car. I'd be more sympathetic if he weren't trying to capitalise on this incident at the expense of a great show. I am reminded of The Box, that fucking awful Richard Kelly remake where he couldn't decide whether he wanted to remake a pretty lame short story / twilight zone episode or write a love letter to his parents (the film is basically 50% a barely disguised biography of Mr. and Mrs. Kelly in the good old days).
Some people are actually interesting enough to have movies made about them. Others are not. In any case, if you're not exactly sure, it's not kosher to just tack it onto an existing franchise in the hope that your tragic / triumphant / amazing life will ride the tailcoats of someone else's work.


If you liked the American version better than the Danish one, be sure to check yourself into a hospital.
Preferably a haunted one.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

You... are a CHILD'S PLAYTHING!!!

"Suddenly, my imagination has come alive - like toys, when my back is turned!"

- Tracy Jordan, 30 Rock

It has stunned me that my animation blog has run for this long, gained this many readers and secured this many opinions without anyone calling me out for being a Pixar fanboygirl. I've been waiting for it to happen just so I can justify myself.

Dear Dreamworks, Blue Sky, Sony Pictures Animation, Disney (yes, Disney!!) and all other competing CG Animation studios:

You're doing it wrong.

I originally approached Toy Story 3 with slight trepidation; how could Pixar possibly pull off a "part three"? The sequel of a sequel tends to be either when a movie series falls off the rails, runs dry of ideas or simply stops trying. I am glad to say that with Pixar's latest effort, this is not the case. Toy Story 3 may be one of the best animations Pixar have ever produced, sliding into position next to The Incredibles and Wall-E.

Now to explain my position, I am not completely crazy about everything Pixar makes. In particular, I tend to cock an eyebrow in the direction of John Lasseter. I love the man for his insistence that 2D animation is, and should be, far from dead (admirable words coming from the man who started this whole '3D Animation' craze in the first place), and I love him for wanting to bring some goddamn magic back into the cold-hearted business of the Disney board of executives after all these stolid years.
But the guy just can't come up with cool ideas.

What he can do is take any asinine concept for a story and write it into something totally engaging. Even if he leaves the titles of such films off-puttingly basic: Cars, A Bug's Life, Monsters Inc and Toy Story don't really grab your attention in the way something more abstract like Ratatouille might, but the films are solid and they are watertight, completely devoid of the eye-rolling problems I am infected with every time I set eyes on an animated film by a rival company. Why is this?

Because John Lasseter gives a fuck about the story!!!

Enough, at least, to stop for a second and say "this isn't working. The script feels wrong." This is about eight steps further than Shark Tale ever took. Pixar take their time with movies and often spend months rewriting the scripts for their films until they are happy with it. There are legends surrounding story teams (a term I doubt even exists in a studio like Dreamworks Animation) spending weeks locked in the writing room trying to iron out a difficult problem that is slowing the film down or causing the film to suffer, and they do not move on until they have fixed it.

What this all comes down to is that basically, even Pixar's weak films are good. I actually enjoyed Cars. Despite it starring Owen Wilson!! A Bug's Life is a lark, even though it is kind of pointless by Pixar standards. Monsters Inc. seems a little light, but is very touching and I like it the way it is.

Toy Story 2 was one of those movies for me. It was a movie that I thought was really good, I don't know about fantastic or fucking brilliant, but a heartily pleasant romp and proof that Pixar can handle sequels.

Obviously Toy Story 3 was going to be the same thing again, right? Perhaps with just a smidgeon less impetus, but still more fun to watch - if only for nostalgic reasons - than Cars. Right?

I am not particularly embarrassed to say that Toy Story 3 had me fighting tears at several points. I laughed hysterically at the jokes; I shrank forward on my seat wondering what could possibly happen next; I felt my eyes well up at the many expertly handled moments of pathos; I felt my skin crawl at that GOD DAMN CREEPY MONKEY.

The trailer showed such a paltry amount of what this movie has to offer. It was a shadow of the full experience. Why is this? Because if they included anything more, there would be spoilers. Allow me to put my scriptwriter's hat on for a moment...

Script is perfect. Do not touch.

Toy Story 3 is a touchstone in storytelling. It is the best "part three" of a film series I have ever seen. It is not so much a sequel as a reinvention of Toy Story. Buzz and Woody's closing chapter has as much of an impact today as the first installment had on the film industry, and the world, back in the seemingly ancient year of 1995.

The hilarious part is that before the film rolled onto the screen, I had to endure a series of insufferable trailers for 3D movies that at the best of times, made me giggle once for every two winces of unbearable discomfort, and at the worst of times, had me locked in a perpetual cringe. At a later date I will be interested to directly compare the strangely familiar premises of Megamind and Despicable Me once they are released on our shores, but I honestly don't think I have the energy or patience to withstand Disney's Tangled. As for that movie about the owls, well, the Australian accents are just fucking offputting. After such struggles of endurance (and only at a minute or two each!!), Toy Story 3 stampeded into my senses like a billion, trillion, zillion first orgasms in my brain.

I want to see this again. And I am going to.

That is all.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bad Movies: Good For Your Health

Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies: A Film Critic's Year-Long Quest to Find the Worst Movie Ever Made, by the Aussie film critic Michael Adams.

I have read this book back to front. And it's a big book.

Before I had an obsession with films you might call "so bad they're good" - films that leave dignity at the door and make joke after joke at their own expense, films like the eighties version of Flash Gordon. This book, however, instigated a new fury which has consumed me with its passion for a number of weeks now.

I have become entrapped by the allure of genuinely bad movies.

I must admit, this strange and dangerous pastime was not as grandiose a transition for me as it would have been for many others - indeed, there is a masochistic quality to watching movies that are just flat-out bad; but I had practice.
  • My devotion to the craft forces me to stay up-to-date and not be one of those finnicky naysayers who will give bad reviews to, specifically, 3D animations they have never seen. When I say I hated How To Train Your Dragon, you know I've damn well seen it. I wanted to turn off Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs several times, but how can I say the movie sucks if I have not seen all that it has to offer? Well I have, and it does.
  • After that bout of every Alice In Wonderland movie we could locate, Arch was put off Alice movies more or less for life and I had passed through the eye of the needle of poor filmmaking. Between all of the different versions, virtually every single moviemaking mistake that can be made, has. And badly at that.
  • Arch and I have become rather entranced by a website known as AVClub which has, besides ordinary film reviews, utterly hilarious sections such as My Year Of Flops, Commentary Tracks Of The Damned, Films That Time Forgot, and I Watched This On Purpose.
  • Arch is a rabid completionist, and part of this obsession means that if he decides he wants to start a Daniel Day-Lewis collection, he's going to damn well finish it, even if it means buying Nine and Last of the Mohecians. Same for the Crispin Glover collection which includes such unintentionally hilarious travesties as Willard. We tend to watch these films with a sense of bewilderment as to why such a great actor would even want to be in it. Almost universally, said actor is the sole redeeming feature of the film.

Note: Crispin Glover makes everything slightly more enjoyable

With that, we were ready.

Ready to start watching really bad movies.

Guys, trust me on this. Be very careful about testing these waters because as I'm sure Michael Adams can tell you, it will become an addiction.

Curiosity killed the cat. In my case, it may well be morbid curiosity of how bad a film can actually get and still be released in the cinemas. There is good in this weird practice, however.

The more bad movies you watch, the more easily you can diagnose bad filmmaking. It's like practice. Yes, the films are often a ghastly viewing experience, but no pain no gain, right? I am pretty sure this is what separates a "film lover" from a film fanatic.
How far are you prepared to go for your love of the medium? Are you willing to suffer gaining the forbidden knowledge?

Have you ever wondered why people keep saying Hackers is so corny? Why Heaven's Gate was such a financial and critical disaster? How Kevin Costner went from a bankable Hollywood megastar to a laughingstock, and the films that caused this?

I'll tell you what helps. Watch it with a friend. Throw it on and shoot the shit like nobody's business. It's like a game. It makes the more boring bits bearable and it is so worth it when you hit a spectacularly bad bit and laugh like retards. Discuss the problem the film is experiencing, how to avoid it, and how it has appeared in "better" films more subtly. The funny thing is, Arch and I had streamlined this technique before we realised that it is basically what the MST3K / RiffTrax guys do for a living. I doubt even we could have sat through Twilight if it weren't for their side-splitting commentary.

Oh my god, Robert Pattinson is such a fucking douche. And yes, the vampires seriously do sparkle.

Of course, Australia doesn't get MST3K (and never has, or will) and we only got a chance to watch one RiffTrax movie before the guy who had two hundred and sixty gigs of them fucked off back to Sydney. But that isn't going to stop us from hunting down these movies and delving deeper and deeper into the quagmire of shithouse films.

So does this mean reviews??

Yeah, maybe.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

You know what really pisses me off?


And how the people responsible for making them have nothing to do with the film itself.

They employ the single most time-honoured clichés of hackneyed editing ever conceived and we are expected to sit there and take it.
They also have different sound designers who use shitty sound design that is far beyond the limits of taste of even the most brazenly shameless hollywood director-for-hire. Same goes for their revolting stock music which usually finds its way in.

Some of the things I hate about trailers in particular:

  • Tonal shifts. It's all serious and gloomy one minute, then the music stops, then someone cracks a funny and some upbeat pop song takes its place as the trailer suddenly becomes more "humerus".
  • Showing us too much. Leave some of the best scenes for when I see it, eh?
  • Showing us too little. The latest "Splice" trailer I saw left me scratching my head and thinking, "well? What the fuck is this movie even about?"
  • Showing us the wrong scenes. The Iron Man 2 trailer put me off wanting to see the film, something which turned out to be incredibly misleading.
  • "SLAM" editing. Nauseatingly common. We only see a shot at its proper exposure for one frame before it fades to black. Pause. Another shot slams at us and fades to black. Do this about eight times, or enough times to utterly disorient anyone watching the film. Virtually always accompanied by loud "SLAM" bass-sounds.
  • The fact that nobody actually writes the voiceover guy's lines. It's just mailmerged templates selected depending on the season. "This summer, prepare to be blown away..." "Enter a world, of magic..." "And he's about to find out..." "From the studio that brought you..." "Wonder..." "A deadly game of cat and mouse..." "An incredible adventure awaits..." "Intrigue..." "This fall..." "Sometimes, all you need is a little..." Christ on a stick. Get creative, you fucks!!
My single greatest fear if I ever become a director, moreso than flopping a big production, is handing the film over to these guys to handle my trailer. They're going to ruin it. I won't even recognise what comes out of the trailer barn.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Recipe For Disaster

Or: Cloudy With A Sheer, Unadulterated Certainly Of Fail

So basically it's a ninety minute ad for McDonalds.

No, seriously. Where do I even begin with this.
Oh, I know. I'll start at the beginning.

In the beginning, there was the Earth, and it was good. And this animation geek was walking around on it and decided to wisely disregard some movie that had just come out called "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs". But the geek was pestered by friends who had heard from their friends that Cloudy was pretty good.

Not unlike Up, there was a very strange phenomenon at work here; the fact that every review I was given for this film was apparently third-hand. It did not come recommended from people who had seen it, like How To Train Your Dragon, but by friends who had heard that it was "pretty good". Or if they wanted to be realistic, "pretty good for a non-Pixar movie". Which doesn't really say anything when you compare it to the asinine horsepiss that Dreamworks, Blue Sky and Sony Pictures Animation now have down to a fine fucking art.

I will thus plop my mandatory disclaimour right here and say, sorry if you liked this movie and hoped I would write a good review. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
But that also means I'm entitled to mine and I thought Meatballs was SHIT.

And How To Train Your Dragon, pathetic as it was, is pretty much a complete fucking winner next to this horrifying trainwreck of a movie.

Seriously, this is a movie that won everyone's hearts with its glitz, its renderfarms. There's no story, it's just silly gags. About fifty times the amount of work has gone into its computer graphics than into the story. I have seen this formula work.

In ads.

You know what I like most about this advertisement?
It goes for ninety seconds. Not ninety minutes.

I'll do the opposite of what I did in How To Train Your Dragon and list the things I liked about Meatballs first.

The food looked really nice!

Made me feel hungry.

Okay now onto what I didn't like about it.

I have had it up to HERE with movies about dorky, socially awkward inventors. Our friend Flint has all the appeal of the kid you kept a good distance from at school.

The problem has existed for a long time but right now they are spreading like AIDS. Why? Because they've found a new shelter to fester and breed: CGI animation!
I'm going to remove my Sheriff Badge of Pixar fanfaggery for a second and blame this directly on A Bug's Life. That movie featured such an inventor (although crucially, he didn't spend sixty percent of the movie complaining about how he doesn't have any friends and will never get laid in a million years) and since then it's become the norm in imitator CG movies.
If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that this problem is a serious pet peeve of mine, and that I could list off several films that follow this stupid formula.

Oh my god he looks exactly the same as a kid, now that is LAZY

Another thing it has in common with those ugly movies (Train Your Dragon, etc) is that you get this very creepy vibe throughout the movie's runtime that the writers are subconsciously writing themselves into the script. It's hard not to draw such conclusions when you hear lines like this one, uttered to child Flint by his mother:
"The world needs your originality, Flint!"

Or when the love interest discovers his secret lab that's pretty much stolen straight out of Tron:
"You... seriously spend a lot of time alone."

Or how do you like the Mayor's corruption-speech, when he is telling Flint that if he keeps the food raining, everyone will love him? You can just imagine the writers, Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, scribbling pictures like this in their exercise books all throughout high school:

There is an obsession with nerdiness in this film bordering on the obscene. I mean, I'm a geek, I admit it. I've got my geek pride. I once cleared a room explaining the difference between a geek and a nerd. And even I found the nerd-motif in this movie fucking unbearable.

Okay, so you've got Sam Sparks, right:

Some attractive weather reporter, we'll say... uhh, let's see here, where did I put my pocket calculator... about A BILLION times out of Flint's league, and she pretty much falls head over heels for him instantly. As though to make up for this, they throw in the usual fallback of "Hero says something insanely incriminating and boner-killing, putting the girl off completely" (see Delgo), but most sickeningly, there is this whole subplot about how she used to be *GASP* a NERD. This is played upon when she, on a few occasions, utters some very intelligent conversation that proves she has a very solid grasp on meteorology and cloud-dynamics, before she realises what she's said and plays the part of a scatterbrain, correcting herself with a few sexist "dopey blonde" replacement lines. Thus when she reveals to Flint in confidence that she is, in fact, intelligent, he makes her wear her glasses that she hasn't worn for years and puts her in a scrunchie:

And then he's all like, "wow, you were pretty good before, but now, you're... beautiful..."

I wanted to vomit. What exactly were they trying to say here? That attractive girls can't be smart? That nerds are beautiful? That the scriptwriters are fucking nerds?

Well gee, are they really that much of a pair of nerds? I'm just making assumptions here.


The Stoic Dad subplot is even worse. The way in which these two incredibly ill-equipped Writer-Directors have handled it could not possibly be more excruciating or badly written. I'd go so far as to say Flint's dad is unnaturally hard to please conveniently for the sake of the narrative.

On a side note, they ruined one of the only things I liked about this movie - Mr T's voice-acting - by overanimating his character to the point of distraction. Imagine if Sportacus from Lazytown had been animated by a not-very-bright kid jacked on sugar and you would get the police officer.
Don't worry, there is a point for this tangent, and it relates directly to the Father subplot.

You see, instead of going for the usual weapons, like Tact or Subtlety, Christopher Miller and Phil Lord have instead gone for a full-frontal assault of "my daddy never loved me and, oh shit, here I am writing it into my script, whoops".

Flint's dad wastes no time telling Flint to give up his crazy inventions, which Flint is none too happy about. His dad wants him to work at the baitshop, keep the family business going. And in the establishing shots showing the bait shop from the outside, we see and hear several fathers having wonderful times with their children, literally saying "I love you, dad." "I love you too, son."

Cut to the awkwardness that is Flint and Pa.

Now I made special mention to the police officer played by Mr. T because he is the main offender in this crassly dealt-with subplot. Once Flint has his food machine working, he comes to Flint and requests that he make it rain icecream for his son's birthday. Now up until this point, the officer has been a complete dick to Flint and he lets him know it. Crestfallen, the Mr. T character sulks away from Flint's lab, and says, verbatim:

"I just wanted Cal to see how much his father loves him. I thought you would understand. Y'know how fathers are always tryin' to express their love and appreciation... for their sons."

At this point I was actually having difficulty keeping my composure. Between this and Dragon, I can't help but wonder what abused children must think when they watch movies like this. You know, the ones who don't save the day with their wacky inventions (wacky scripts, wacky movies????) and win their father's heart.

This movie also violates yet another pet peeve I have been talking about a lot lately, which is giving us more than the exposition we would ever possibly want or need at the beginning of the film via a long, drawling, disconnected monologue by the main character. It seems to be becoming a staple of (non-pixar, it should go without saying) CG animations somewhat universally. Please, show. Don't tell.

Okay, now the Mayor subplot. I'm just going to skip over this but I need to mention it because it annoys the hell out of me.

The mayor of Swallow Falls is a conniving, evil man who is for some reason the only guy in the entire film who becomes fat, and with his added weight comes a proportional sense of irrelevance to the plot. Any hint of 'character' and 'personality' gradually leak away like melted ice cream. The hollows are filled in neatly with a creamy filling of 'McGuffin' and the chocolate chips of 'forced plot-device'.

What am I talking about? Oh, you know. The fact that at first he seems to have the rational motivation of using Flint's machine to attract a larger market of tourism to Swallow Falls, and the fact that this motivation pretty much disappears completely at a certain point and he begins fighting Flint. For no other reason than to have some kooky action sequence.

He's apparently become so obsessed with food that he doesn't want Flint to deactivate the machine (though he had NO WAY OF KNOWING THAT FLINT WANTED TO TURN OFF THE MACHINE) and is willing to actually engage in physical combat with him in order to prevent food big enough to crush the entire city from falling on them. Even though, you know, that's suicide. But he's evil!! He's the bad guy!! He must do these things! It is for the sake of the plot! He also appears in Flint's lab out of nowhere, and when Flint asks "how did you get in here?", the answer never comes. I guess all the security equipment he designed is as fucking useless as all his other inventions. But the mayor won't even humour us with a "I picked the lock" or "I ate my way through the door". It's just ignored. Which makes me seriously wonder how and why he wound up in that room in the first place.

Oh, right! Silly me.

Plot convenience!

So toward the end there is this whole silly sequence where Flint has to stop the machine because it's going out of control. It has somehow grown artificially intelligent - no scratch that, actually intelligent - and is deep within a giant planet of living, mutant food.

I don't really understand why everyone talks about the ending so much, the bit they call the 'meltdown'. It was probably very impressive in 3D, but for me it was just fucking stupid. As it stands I would only enjoy these sequences if I was debilitatingly stoned with a neverending supply of munchies.

On the other hand, perhaps these scenes (save the relentless onslaught of so-called "gags" and hackneyed dialogue) were actually good. But by this point in the film I was spectacularly jaded. But on the other hand I was pretty jaded by the end of How To Train Your Dragon (wow, these movies are suspiciously comparable) and I still enjoyed the kickass fight against the giant evil dragon. So I dunno, maybe these scenes are just stupid if you don't have a pair of 3D glasses on you. To watch space-ship doritos chase down Flint no seriously WHO WAS THE FUCKING SPONSOR OF THIS FILM ALREADY

The directors like to talk in the special features about how at the start of the movie, everything in Swallow Falls is grey and dull and boring (not unlike most of the plot), but as the movie goes on it becomes more colourful and bright as Flint's invention brings cheer to the island.

This was done earlier and better in every single Tim Burton movie, ever.
They stole his signature mood-lighting technique and somehow managed to fuck it up.
Basically it has something to do with the fact that Flint literally puts a fucking DISCO BALL inside the machine at the beginning and that everything, from the artificial clouds to Flint's gadgets, output a full spectrum of rainbow light.
How, why



Seriously, I would love to review a good film on this blog soon, I am slowly going insane. But I find there is immense educational value in watching these bad films, in order to learn what not to do.

Okay so Flint saves the day with an act of beautiful self-sacrifice (because in all the scriptwriting books, it tells you that self sacrifice is the most empathetic human quality - so it doesn't really matter how annoying or stupid your character is, kill him and people will care, apparently). There is a perilous fake-death scene that, AGAIN, reminded me a lot of How To Train Your Dragon and STILL was somehow not even dealt with as well. Arch and I ruminated that 'obviously fake deaths' are probably the biggest cliché in animated movies right now. Bigger than pathetic, sobbing inventor protagonists or droning, bug-eyed rants of expositional monologue in a film's opening. Fucking can it already, just kill him or show us he's alright.

Once this is over, we are treated to a suspiciously Pixar-esque "zany creditz zequenze" animated in some weird style that, while looking great in still form, doesn't really move all that well. Or maybe they do, it's very hard to see through every single character (including Flint's dad) suddenly appearing in gay-looking costumes and cumming more rainbows than Robot Unicorn Attack and Spy Kids combined.

And finally, I'm getting into a bad habit of looking into the 'making of' documentaries of horrible films - mostly to laugh at how great the filmmakers thought their animated torture device was, or alternatively, to find out who possibly could have decided in the chain of command that the film would be a good idea.

I just have two points I'd like to cover here.

First of all, Bill Hader (the guy who plays Flint) laughs at all of his own jokes. It's embarrassing.

Secondly, Christopher Miller and Phil Lord try to be funny by telling us how a movie is made.

"Making a movie, is a lot like making a hamburger."
"A hamburger that takes three and a half years to make, and eighty seven minutes to eat."

Does that sound very appealing to you?
Yeah, I think it's gone off, mate.

Stick to ads.