Category Archives: Movies

Superman vs. The Elite Review

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A man who is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound should be the most terrifying creature on Earth. He’d be unstoppable and unbeholden to our mortal morality. So, why then is Superman one of the most popular heroes on the planet? He does not kill and he never loses.

A superman does both in the new DC animated film, Superman vs. The Elite, an adaptation that both faithfully adapts its source material, while improving on its message and focus. Read the rest of this entry

China Heavyweight: A Boxing Movie About China (And No Heavyweights)

In the county of Huili, Mohammad Ali and Confucius appear to walk hand in hand. New trainees, straight from the China’s provincial farmland, get the opportunity to become like the boxing legends of yore. It’s a typical sports story, which would be entirely unremarkable, except for its cultural fusion and the exquisite cinematography.

China Heavyweight, a new documentary from Canadian filmmaker Yung Chang, showcases China’s return to boxing, viewed from the eyes of young hopefuls in the earthy Sichuan province. The return comes after a thirty year ban, which disappeared with much of the old communist doctrine. As the economy flourished, suddenly a violent, highly competitive sport just seemed to fit with the new ideology. Time to refine the population from raw material down to valued product. Only now does that shift trickle down to students Miao Yunfei, He Zhongli and their coach, Qi Moxiang. Read the rest of this entry

The Revisionaries: An Amusing Tale Of Failure From Afar

Whatever the textbooks tell students today, the White House will say twenty years from now.  Every member of the Texas State Board of Education (TSBE) knows these stakes, since they determine the criteria for many textbooks across state lines. The Revisionaries is a documentary that shows how the far right are trying to question things like evolution and the division of church and state by writing their doubt in millions of students’ textbooks.

The Revisionaries follows the affable dentist and old Chairman of the TSBE, Don McLeory, as he asserts his creationist beliefs through education policy. His major ally is the prayer-happy professor of law Cynthia Dunbar, while his opposition comes in the form of science advocate, Kathy Miller and Ron Wetherington, an anthropology professor.

Debate on the education board plays out like the “culture war” Fox News anticipated but failed to actually report on. The religious right starts every session with a prayer for victory and seems to end each one with their wish granted. Eliminate mentions of diverse peoples, add St. Thomas Aquinas to the section on Enlightenment thinkers (despite living at least 400 years too early), and make sure that the theory of evolution is criticised and debated in classrooms. Read the rest of this entry

Video: Portal Fan Film Is Awesome – Makes Me Want More

Portal: No Escape premiered at Comic Con and is likely one of the best renditions of video games into film. It only thing it’s missing is GLaDOS and turrets, but even with the narrowed down elements of just Chell with a portal gun, it is still quite entertaining. I don’t think you could really expand a Portal film beyond 60 minutes, just because the monotony of seeing tests on film with only one visible character gets a little boring after a while. However, I endeavour someone to try, because I am so pumped for another adaption after only seeing six minutes of film.

Review: Super 8

It doesn’t take a lot to sell audience back their past, proven by George Lucas’ nearly clockwork re-releases of the Star Wars movies. Yet, this is no repacking of old nostalgia, as JJ Abrams manages to sell America back its childhood with style. Super 8 is a heartwarming film, that works as a clear homage to ET and the sub-genre of  action-adventure films mastered by Steven Spielberg. Abrams uses the mid-eighties scenery and strained father-son relationship for his own purposes, and the result is an enjoyable hour and fifty minutes. It doesn’t quite meet Spielberg’s high standard, but it’s close. Super 8 is one of the best blockbusters to come out this summer, and is easily one of the most memorable. Read the rest of this entry

Scott Pilgrim and the Modern Man

I don’t really like Valentine Day. It’s a day where I’m supposed to buy something.  A recent tradition is that women will talk about women’s role in a relationship. Who give gifts, who gives what gifts, marriage proposals. I think it’s unfortunate men don’t get treated in the same way, that is self analysis of our position in society. People just assume that men don’t have anything to fight for because we’re already at the top of the ladder. I’ll show a shift in the image of man I think we neglect THROUGH SCOTT PILGRIM.

This is a topic I’ve wanted to do for a while. It’s been crawling in the back of my brain in class after someone said, “Isn’t Scott Pilgrim basically just an average guy.” At first I thought that was terrible. Why would anyone want to be Scott Pilgrim? His life is fun, but only because he’s delusional. He’s not faithful. He’s not reliable. He’s not even the stupid archetype of the strong male fighter, with muscles abound and able to shoot a one-liner with every flex. But, I kept thinking about it, and you know what, they’re right, this is the new image of man.

This discussion is probably better suited to a lit essay or a something ‘professional’ but I’m in rant mode, so why not. As anyone who has turned on the television knows, the ideal conception of man is the brotherly, womanizing god, who can cry manly tears when he needs to and suffers the burden of the protection of his property. But we all know that’s fake now. There is no super-man like that, and in reality, such men are usually assholes. That’s what we’re taught, and that’s what we know from reality. This does not exist.

So of course the rational response is then to demonize that form. Thus, in reality we believe that men aren’tcouragous, they’re foolhardy. They can’t commit to a relationship. They’re powerless in the long run, and they can’t do anything without a woman. Really, the ideal man can be changed from a god to a horny adolescent. Now think about that, and think about Scott Pilgrim.

Scott is the modern understanding of man, a sort of child who is stuck in his fantasies. He’s a slacker, who doesn’t want to do anything if he doesn’t have to. He dates a 17-year-old to relax, and then abandons her for a cooler, more-hipster woman. His goal in life, when they exist, are limted to getting a girlfriend. He fights to defend her, but in a world that exists in his head via video game logic. The comic actually parodies how the fights have no meaning (except the last one, but more on that later). He beats an Indian pirate with the power of friendship, but that’s secondary to his goal to get Ramona and have an awesome band. Once they are over, he goes back to real life where his victories don’t really matter. If anything, Scott makes more trouble for himself by trying to ‘protect’ Ramona. They cause conflict between them, one of evil exes even kidnapps his friend, Kim.

SPOILERS GOING FORWARD

This is clearly just as wrong an understanding of masculinity as the first one. If you create an image where this is the norm, it’s fine to just be a delusional manchild because, you know what, that’s a man. Interestingly enough, the comic series and the movie recognize this, and Scott actually manages to grow out of it by the end. In the comic, Scott repeatedly comes across negative parallels of himself, in Negascott (all of his repressed memories of failure) and Gideon, who is Scott taken up to an obsessive extent. Gideon is the master of video game duels, except he’s played the game long enough that he knows all the rules. His own image of himself is a huge god who has Ramona drooling over him in chains. It’s literally all in his head (or Ramona’s in this case – long story, read the book) like Scott. By finally discovering this parallel, Scott is able to free himself from his pattern.

Gideon doesn’t take this stance in the film, here he’s more of an ultimate douchebag of hipsterdom. What’s more important is how Scott manages to defeat him. Scott has to die once, before he realizes how stupid he’s been. He realizes the reason he failed the first time was because he was always overconfident or underconfident, and his love for Ramona means nothing without self-respect. He doesn’t need to be a jerk to get what he wants, and he doesn’t need to idealize a woman or be idealized by a woman to have worth. He needs to know when he’s fighting for himself, and not for Ramona. (The latter revelation actually comes to Ramona in the comics, but if I go into that, this thing will never end) He shows that love can only go so far here, Scott has to change who he is. (This is why I think it was more appropriate for Scott to end up with Knives in the end, but that’s another story)

There’s more I want to say, but I really don’t have the effort or cohesive power to put an essay together right now. Instead I’ll say that Scott Pilgrim in either medium does an excellent deconstruction of the feeble modern man. I think we need more of this genre. There has to be reminders that neither the ideal image of man or the reactionary image of man is the valid interpretation. Though, after we’re through, what I really hope for is for some reconstruction. I want to see fiction that shows what a great modern man could be, rather than just showing us where we’ve gone wrong.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World Review

I definitely had a certain bias towards Scott Pilgrim vs. The World walking into the theatre the day of release. First of all it was my birthday, and second of all I’m a big enough Scott Pilgrim fan that I attended the release party for the sixth book. However, I think I can genuinely say that Scott Pilgrim is a great film, though it has one or two major flaws.

The movie’s plot is basic, boy meets girl, boy fights seven evil exs for girl, boy learns about love and friendship in the process. There is actually little more than that going on the in the film. The movies does manage to weave two subplots, one concerning Knives, Scott’s teenage and quickly ex-girlfriend, the other being a battle of the bands. Edgar Wright successfully interweaves these plots into the film, but the latter seems insubstantial when it comes to its conclusion. The build up with Knives also feels this way, since after all that build up, Scott ultimately ignores her. It had a traitorous feel to it, as if the movie had lied to me. Still, the plot is, in most avenues, simple a way of getting from one evil ex to another, and it does that really well.

The actors are comfortable in their roles. Ellen Wong plays a great teenage obsessive, and Kieran Culkin is fantastic at playing a creepy but friendly homosexual. These are the most well developed characters in the film. Wallace is probably my favourite character in the whole movie. Unfortunately, there isn’t that much to the other characters. Winstead acts Ramona’s parts well enough, but her character isn’t expanded or developed. This makes her more boring than the evil exs Scott encounters. She seems like little more than a muddled young adult who has little care for those around her. While in the books I was wondering why so many girls fell in love with Scott, here I have to wonder why anyone would fall in love with Ramona. She’s just too bland and troublesome to be really worth someone’s time.

Scott is a mostly one note character, though I found his development towards the end of the film entertaining and reminiscent of a video game character. Micheal Cera is reasonable at playing Scott, although, I would have preferred him to play the character with more confidence. It’s a change for the actor, but there was still too much typical Micheal Cera fair in the delivery.

The immediate thing one will notice after watching this movie is that there is never a dull moment. The fights with the evil exs are spectacularly absurd, consisting of bass battles, giant musical avatars, indian dancing and more. The special effects are great, and make this the best video game movie that’s not based on a video game. The plot and enemies function like levels Scott has to progress through, each one leading to a stronger opponent. The humour in the movie is also a highlight, brought on by the sheer insanity of some of the battles and some of character’s wits. You might more out of the film if you’re a big video game and anime nerd. Honestly, if you made a drinking game spotting every anime and video game reference, you’d be dead from alcohol poisoning by the end of the film.

Personally, I enjoyed Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. The character and plot development may be shot in the director’s effort to adapt seven books in one movie, but it certainly makes for non-stop entertainment. However, if you’re over 35-40 or have epilepsy, I would not recommend the movie. The movie is just so hyperactive and reliant on nerd culture, that someone with those characteristics are much more likely to see the movie as a two hour headache. Everyone else, you should all see this movie the first chance you get. It is an epic experience.

Score: 8.5/10

Kick-Ass Review: It’s Kick Ass

ARE YOU READY STEVE?

Warning – Kick- Ass is an 18A movie, meaning that only 18 year olds and above should be seeing this movie (with good reason). If you are not 18 years old, please refrain from seeing the movie.

It is fair to say that I immediately enjoyed Kick-Ass, a movie by Matthew Vaughn based on the original comic by Mark Millar. The movie is so outrageous and destructive that it’s hard not to enjoy the movie. The plot begins in much the same was as every other teen flick, where the male main character, Dave Lizewski, wants to make a change to his boring average life. The signature twist of this film is that instead of throwing a giant party or engaging in some kind of parade of sexual domination, he decides to become a superhero. However, he immediately discovers that this is a much more difficult task than he first envisioned, and gets himself caught in the much larger and more surreal fight between the mob boss D’Amico and the vigilantes Hit Girl and Big Daddy. This gang war eventually steals the spotlight of the movie, and coming to a climax, men die and Gatling guns are shot. The climax is absurdly satisfying, and I think should get the award for the best use of a bazooka I’ve seen in a film.

Bazooka or not, this doesn’t detract from the story’s negatives, which are numerous. Many parts of the story are cheesy, on a literal, we saved the day let’s ride into the sunset sorts of moments. It’s unfortunate that the end of the movie is one of these, as well as a significant flying fight scene, where it’s clear the special effects budget had run out. Luckily, most of these scenes can usually be taken in as part of the fun, as they are crazy and hilarious in their own right. The cheese only becomes a constant nuisance during the romance scenes. Generally any time Katie, Dave’s love interest, opened her mouth, I shuddered in my seat. Her dialogue was corny, and her occasionally hammy acting made things worse. These instances felt like they were forcefully inserted into the movie for the sake of romantic tension and to drive the number of obscenities higher.

The characters of the film are well played by their actors. Aaron Johnson plays a convincingly bewildered and dreaming 17 year old, who happens to play a superhero with a poor name choice. Nicholas Cage, the only real ‘star’ to be cast in this film, is remarkable as Big Daddy. He’s half-Adam West, half-William Shatner, playing his role appropriately. An obsessive but caring father is not a tremendously difficult role, but I did enjoy seeing him in it. The character who I personally think stole the spotlight of the film was Hit Girl, so much so that I didn’t care so much for Kick Ass as I did her. It became a series of ‘what disturbingly violent and offensive thing will that 11 year old girl do next?’ and I stopped paying attention to the main character, especially since his exploits weren’t as interesting in the long run.

Hit Girl is also a make or break point with the movie.  The character has a swear word count as high as any given character in the movie The Departed and usually follows it up with a frighteningly violent act for an eleven year old to be committing. Acts include throwing grenades, stabbing multiple people with swords, and then shooting them down with their own gun. Without her character, the movie is easily 14A. My personal response was to break into laughter any time her character appeared on the screen, solely because it was so offensive, which I presumed was much of the movie’s joke.

Does this offend you?

The point behind Kick Ass’ series of upsetting scenes is to parody the nature of the superhero genre and action movies in general. While we usually only see the violence being cut away or toned down, Kick Ass shows what it would take for a vigilante to have any effect on a crime syndicate. Hit Girl exists solely to make these exploits creepier and point out how depraved action movies have really gotten. However, these are themes better handled by movies like Watchmen and Pulp Fiction, which have a degree of sophistication Kick Ass doesn’t. If you’re going to watch Kick Ass, don’t expect anything deep to come from it. This explanation only serves to be a justification for the film’s existence.

Really, if you wanted to watch Kick Ass, by now you’ve already made up your mind before reading this review. The movie is as ridiculous and violent as the trailers. It is also very funny, if unintentionally so at times. The only negatives I can think of are the plot failures mentioned earlier and the orchestral score, which resorted to the usual cliché sounds as often as it could, and increased the cheese factor. The soundtrack itself isn’t bad, in fact all the music accompanying Hit Girl’s brutal montages is fantastic.

In the long run, I certainly enjoyed Kick Ass. I just wish I didn’t feel the need to take a shower soon after watching it.

8.5/10

How I beat Joe Quesada in A Cage Match and Made Him Cry

I bet you wanted to punch someone tremendously hard before. For me, that person is Joe Quesada. And down at Fan Expo, things were getting pretty ugly between me and him. We both fought hard yesterday, but when it came down to it, Joe Quesada got his ass whooped by a high-schooler. He didn’t take it too well. Read the rest of this entry

Eureka Seven Madness – It’s almost a Review. I think.

Legend: normal text – On topic |  [normal text] – Not on topic

[You know what I love? 3 am. Three AM is this magical time of the day that you can do anything and talk to anyone without fear of being reproached and told that your writing is messy, confusing or written in the wrong language, because if they do you can always respond I did it at 3am, jerk-wad and suddenly it all makes sense. They will be keen to admit that this is not your best work or the reason that you beat little Jimmy with a hammer was not because you’re a psychopath. It’s because you’re a psychopath who works at 3am. And really if you’re not going to go on a murderous rampage afterwards, why bother starting anything past 1am. It’s just too much effort without the insanity.]

Wait. This was supposed to be about Eureka Seven wasn’t it? Read the rest of this entry