Thursday, May 14, 2009

"The Road" Trailer Hits

Not a great trailer, but gets the job done. For one, I don't really like the "Day After Tomorrow" vibe at the start of this thing. McCarthy spent about a sentence dealing with the whys and wherefores of the end of civilization, but the trailer makes those concerns seem paramount. Comes off looking cheap and over-CG'd. The delay in getting this into theaters also worries me a bit. But there are enough hints that the dread and terror and hope McCarthy conjured so effortlessly in the novel made it into the movie that I'm excited about this one.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"The IMAX Experience" is Not IMAX

I GOT INTO A CONVERSATION with one of my 3 bosses at work back in March and told him I was going to see "Watchmen" in IMAX. I was driving about an hour from where I live to see it on the big screen.

He said, "I think there's an IMAX right up here." He told me about the local AMC theater that now, apparently, had IMAX and it was, in fact, much closer than the one I'd been driving to. I had my doubts about my boss's claims. When they installed the IMAX projector into the Mall of Georgia Regal theater up in Buford, GA, many years ago, it made the front page of the Atlanta Journal & Constitution because they'd had to lower it into place with the aid of a helicopter because it's e-goddamn-normous. (And also not a lot of interesting things happen in Atlanta, despite what you may have heard.) I hadn't heard of anything like a big-time installation of and IMAX projector happening out near where I work.

This morning, my boss comes up to my cube and says: "You know that theater over by the mall? It does have IMAX. My wife went into the Joann's that's right next to the theater, (I don't know what they do [at Joann's] -- I guess they make things?) Anyway, I went in and asked if they had IMAX there and they said, yes they did."

I was still dubious, but if an employee said they had IMAX, maybe they did. But the IMAX theater was just ... hidden somehow. When there's an IMAX theater in a multiplex you damn well know it because the screen is, like the projector, e-goddamn-normous.

Well, now I know what the disconnect is.

IMAX is now putting their brand on NOT-IMAX screenings. Here's a helpful comparison. The big rectangle is the size of an actual IMAX screen, the kind I drive an hour to watch movies on. The smaller one is the size of the screen AMC and Regal and IMAX are saying provide "The IMAX Experience":

As you can see, it's total bullshit. A scam.

Aziz Ansari, the guy who plays the smarmy middle eastern dude on the new NBC comedy "Parks and Recreation" (alongside NCSA SOF alum Paul Schneider), got tricked into seeing a faux-IMAX movie ("Star Trek") and paying regular-IMAX prices. He blogged about it.

I'm a big supporter of IMAX, I think the actual IMAX experience could establish a new foundation for moviegoing that could keep theaters in business and profitable for another 50 years -- but this diluting of the brand by going after unsophisticated moviegoers is low, completely needless, and will ultimately backfire.

Anyway, something to look out for and tell others about.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Latest SNL Digital Short

This was kind of gross, but also kind of funny. Not so funny that I'm banging down people's doors trying to get them to watch it, but funny enough to try out Hulu's embed functionality for shits and gigs.

(Also: From this clip, it is now indisputable: Susan Sarandon has de-aged 4 years since her last movie. Brilliant plastic surgeon or pact with the devil?)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

In the Tank

Man do I like our President.

When I'm feeling more ambitious than I do right now, I'll write up a really insight-free report card for our President in his first 100+ days, with plenty o' bloviation on the policy choices of this very young administration. But having worked like crazy during many of those 100 days and, thusly unable to devote as much attention to politics as I did during my unemployed days (or even my non-comic-drawing days), I'm just enjoying sitting back and watching this guy work: dazzling during press conferences, reversing dumbshit policies enacted over the last 8 years with a stroke of the pen, and, every now and again, really seeming to enjoy being President.

A story like this is a good example: Obama and Biden heading down to a local burger joint. In this case, it's a place called Ray's Hell Burger in Arlington, Virginia.

I'm not so naive as to think Obama doesn't know how appealingly down-to-Earth this photo-op makes him look (which, from an image-management point of view, probably helps tamp down on feelings in some quarters that he's too aloof or "arrogant"), or that it wasn't a response to last weekend's Republicans-Strategize-at-a-Pizzaria photo op. But I'm also not so cynical as to think the man a.) doesn't like a good burger as much as the next guy, or b.) doesn't think that going to a neighborhood burger joint in a presidential motorcade makes the experience that much cooler.

Anyway, I enjoyed this "news" story and thought I'd share.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Quentin Tarantino loves Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns". From the New York Times Magazine article: "I am a big fan of ‘‘Returns.’’ I’m working on what is now a 20-page review of that movie, and I’m not done yet. "

Who doesn't love a really really long movie review?

Also: this makes me want to rewatch that movie.

Stephen King News, in Brief

Three tidbits of Stephen King news, listed in descending order of likely interest from this blog's readers. All of my news comes from this site.

1.) When "Lost" wraps up, (which I think happens at the end of next season), J.J. Abrams (director of Cloverfield, Star Trek) and Damon Lindelof aim to begin work on bringing Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" series to the big screen. Seven books... seven movies?

2.) This Sunday's "Family Guy" is devoted to Stephen King. This from the network's description:
Sunday, May 10
FAMILY GUY (9:00-9:30 PM ET/PT) – “Three Kings” – Season Finale

"After Peter discovers the writing of Stephen King, he imagines his family and friends in three of King’s most famous works. First, Peter, Quagmire, Cleveland and Joe – as 12-year-olds – travel along a railroad track on a journey of self-discovery narrated by Richard Dreyfuss (guest-voicing as himself). Second, Brian is injured in a bad car crash only to be “rescued” by his “number one fan,” Stewie. Finally, Cleveland and Peter become fast friends in prison."
"Family Guy"'s gotten better (and weirder) each season (culminating in the episode where Peter discovers the joys of the song "The Bird's the Word" -- this episode very nearly killed me), so I'm really looking forward to this one. The show's not afraid to make an obscure cultural reference, so it'll be interesting to see how "inside" McFarlane gets with his King jokes.

3.) November sees the release of King's newest novel entitled "Under the Dome," the description of which sounds as if it were inspired by 2008's "The Simpson's Movie":
On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester’s Mills, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener’s hand is severed as “the dome” comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when—or if—it will go away.

Dale Barbara, Iraq vet and now a short-order cook, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens—town newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician’s assistant at the hospital, a select-woman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing—even murder—to hold the reins of power, and his son, who is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry. But their main adversary is the Dome itself. Because time isn’t just short. It’s running out.
This thing's 1,120 pages and comes out November 20th.

Monday, May 04, 2009

"X-Men Origins: Wolverine"

I saw "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" on Friday night, and though it wasn't the worst summer movie I've seen, it was the worst comic-book movie I've seen. I've been a big Wolverine fan since I started reading comics, but this movie made me forget what I liked so much about his character.

He's a guy with claws that can cut through anything, he's older than dirt but still looks like a ripped 40-year old, and he can never die. Somehow this movie managed to make all of that seem really boring. Part of that might have been because in the first part of the movie, when he's teamed up with his brother, Victor (aka Sabretooth, played by a genuinely menacing Liev Schrieber) and a bunch of other mutants, Wolverine is easily the most useless member of the team. He's got frickin' BONE claws. What's a guy going to do with those? Stab a guy? Isn't a guy with two big knives instantly as qualified as Logan to be a death-dealer?

Wolverine never gets too much cooler than a fairly ineffectual guy with 6 jagged compound fractures. Hugh Jackman does what he can to keep the character he originated interesting (and by the way Wolverine was 10 times cooler in his first scene in "X-Men" then he is in this whole movie), but isn't helped by a muddled, goofy script by David Benioff and Skip Woods. But if you're a motivated director, you can make a shite script look really cool if you know how to shoot action scenes and understand how special effects work. Unfortunately, Director Gavin Woods is so-so to not-very-good on action, but absolutely clueless with special effects. I think there's a whole reel in this movie that could serve as a clinic in how NOT to do green screen work.

"Wolverine" suffers from the same guiding philosophy as last year's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull": CG makes everything better. The result was lots of fakey effects and glaringly bad green screen work. But bad as "Crystal Skull" was on this score, "Wolverine" makes "Crystal Skull" seem like "Aguierre: The Wrath of God." People want to see real people doing real things in real places, but there's precious little of that in "Wolverine." Even Logan's CLAWS are digital -- worse, they look like digital claws. And because the special effects are so bad, a $140 million dollar movie looks like it cost half that much.

I think Gavin Hood, like a lot of non-comic-reading folks, doesn't "get" Wolverine, and, I suspect, never cared about doing a "Wolverine" movie right. The results, sadly, speak for themselves.

But since it made $87 million over the weekend, Fox will wrongly view Hood's film as a success, (just as they will wrongly view Snyder's "Watchmen" a failure), Hood will get to direct/ruin another big-budget studio film, and Fox will likely foist more sub-par "X-Men Origins" movies on filmgoers. If many more of these disappointing comic-book films are released, I suspect the current trend of comic-book-to-film adaptations will fizzle out before some of the great properties have been translated to the silver screen.