Who doesn’t love the X-Men? Before Iron Man changed thing like a bat-themed vigilante changed Gotham, almost anyone you stopped in the street could reel off more mutants that any superhero type, even if they’d never held a comic beyond using it to beat its dorky owner around the head before going off to do man stuff (as one of the frequently beaten, I assumed this involves lots of sex making with those terrifying cootie-carriers called “girls”, and chopping down trees while shirtless). Yes the X-Men enjoyed some pretty lofty times capturing the hearts and minds of millions, helped exponentially by the still acclaimed 1993-97 animated series and game-changing block buster movies. But then Mojo infiltrated 20th Century Fox in order to destroy his enemies in the most effective way possible: bad ratings. Sub-standard films staring way too much Halle Berry, not enough Deadpool and WAAAAAYYYYYY too many subplots followed. Initially X-Men: First Class appeared to be a salvation from this near-devastating blow to the franchise. But as with a certain blue-skinned woman, looks can be deceiving…
Well it wasn’t the Second Coming of Christ, and as a result there has been a tirade of slander against the final arc in the Nolan Batverse Trilogy – nicely countering the influx of fanatics who sent death threats to less-than glowing reviewers. Personally I liked it, although I’m fully aware of its’ numerous story, pacing, characterisation and design flaws, but c’mon this is a Batman film – remember how bad they used to be? Surely a disappointing yet not unwatchable instalment is leagues more acceptable than Forever and & Robin. This review isn’t me hating on a bad film as done for the previous Batman reviews here; it’s a chance to air out the complex stupidity of the story and maybe help us to better understand why Batman has such trouble getting rid of bombs. Plus with the Nostalgia Critic covering most of my back catalogue to-do list I figured I’d best cover something made after 1997 for a change. Strap on your detective hats, because this is going to take some sussing out…
Man things were bad for the horror genre pack in the dawn of the new millennium. Having FINALLY distanced itself from the slasher-a-minute trope started by Scream in 1996, and still some breathing room until the flux of Japanese remakes that’d plague the box office like a cursed video tape in a frat house, horror needed a new craze popularising. Many movie executives would have frowned at the idea of borrowing the entire plot from The Thirteen Ghosts of Scooby Doo and updating it for a teen audience, calling it foolish and unlikely to reinvent the haunted house genre, and they were right. Thir13en Ghosts (does my spellchecker love this title) took every used, worn, predictable character made possible by Screams’ meta-humour and polished them to perfection, and dropped them into a story so contradictory the Riddler himself armed with a hole-punch couldn’t have riddled the plot with more holes. Not only that but the film wasn’t scary; over-reliant on quick cuts and sudden-jump sound effects rather than running with the idea that A GLASS HOUSE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WOODS FILLED WITH THE GHOSTS OF PSYCHOPATHS COULD BE USED FOR INSTILLING TERROR IN VIEWERS. Up yours Microsoft spelling & grammar, this is Thir13en Ghosts.
Imagine my “uhg :(” upon hearing that not only would one of my all time most loved films (John Carpenter’s 1982 The Thing, a remake of the 1951 The Thing From Another World, based on the short 1938 ‘Who Goes There?’) was about to receive the prequel treatment, but it would share the SAME EXACT TITLE OF THE ORIGINAL [REMAKE] in order to totally fuck with my DVD filing system. Despite my initial scepticism I lowered my axe and stopped Google mapping the houses of the production team upon learning that the crew were obsessive fan boys who’d gone over the 5 min scene of that smouldering Norwegian base with an anally attentive eye, weeding out all possibilities of how the shit went down at the camp 24 hours before it hit the American base. This was no half-assed studio grab for cash (….not entirely) but a Hollywood financed fan fiction by a duo of fanatics. And best of all it would show the alien in its first form before it added people and dogs to its lexicon. So why did it suck?
Well mainly it’s the story, a retread of the 1982 movie with a few variations of the familiar sequences. The biggest let down is that we learn nothing new about the creature who demands a film dedicated to exploring the physiology alone, and its true alien form is quickly ditched in favour of humanoid designs – seen that back in ‘82, now show us more lobstrocities from Planet X! The characters feel like nothing more than underdeveloped monster fodder and it’s all too predictable to know who the hidden alien is, which is never a good aspect in a narrative centred on paranoia and guess work. Most damming of all though was the decision to use CGI rather than practical effects. The 1982 films’ puppets/robots were the finest of it’s time, and although their quality may appear dated to modern audiences the masterful direction skills of John Carpenter made use of light/shadows and camera positions to minimise obvious puppetry while maximising gross-out scares. The fact theses were fully automated animatronics bound in rubbery flesh and oozing all manner of vile viscous fluids gives them an off-putting ‘almost real’ vibe, which is why 30 years on they are still much more frightening than computer generated creatures, because no matter how convincing the CGI it’ll always lack that crude physicality (those who doubt should compare the slug-turds of Shivers to those in Slither).
The shame of all this is that this [p]re-make’s producers went to the trouble of crafting fully working animatronics, only to then overlay them with postproduction flesh tones to better match them to the lighting, rather than adapting their lighting to better hide their imperfections. The end result is a film with blockbuster glitz and glamour that undermines the horrific designs, and tries to tries to follow in the footsteps of its forbearer with a few new twists that fail to distract from the fact this is a fan love letter to Carpenter. A letter written from the heart and with some creative flair, but nothing more. This is The Thing….2011.
Up to this point, Ticket Stub Refund has been about fun (okay, vicious bitching) and the mocking of films generally of low quality but redeeming comedic value. In fact I’d suggest having watched the films under scrutiny at some point before, even watching them again before or after to re-familiarise yourself with the details. HOWEVER, today I offer a proviso that by providing you with this run through you DO NOT SEE PIRANHA 3DD!!! By God this film is a travesty, and not just for its dire script (desperately in need of an editor during writing), atrocious editing (same goes), bad direction (not helped by the script or editing), lack-lusted use of 3D[D], limp CG, and piss-poor excuse for characters, picked straight from the rosta of Eight Legged Freaks, only without the charm or self-referential 1950s B-movie admiration evident from the production crew. No, these things do not make a cinematic abomination – a bad film certainly (just look at anything Michael Bay has developed this decade), but not so bad that I’d advise avoiding it – ever for laughs. “Why?” you ask?, because it’s the most misogynistic, woman objectifying, sleaze piece of trash ever to be given a budget, and before you say “But what about the porno parody films that release alongside Blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean XXX, and This Ain’t the Smurfs XXX?”, it’s because at no point during those films did I feel uncomfortably like those involved hated women.
Piranha 3DD is utterly, abhorrently shameless about its treatment of female characters, reduced to faceless torsos and legs thanks to cropping shots that de-personify them into walking breasts and asses, whored out, talked down to by the male cast yet never rising up against or proving them wrong, showing them as ditzy morons, and for one particular character cruelly mocked for being physically sick and in pain, willingly debasing herself for a man she knows only wants her for her body, and made to endure painful humiliations (one with rape overtones played for laughs AGAINST HER and with the male being the figure of sympathy). I’m no raging feminist, but this film is such a step in the wrong direction towards entrenched equality of the sexes, in addition to being a poorly produced dreg unfit to use as fish bait.
You know why I think 2010’s Piranha 3D worked, it had a tongue-in-cheek understanding of what it was; goofy monster movie premise fun, with enough blood to drown a herd of elephants and some inventive gore effects that made the Feast Trilogy look reservedly tame, that happened to work wet tee-shirts and nudity INTO the plot BECAUSE it was a parody/tribute of what these genre films are renown for: inventively gory deaths, killer creatures, a plot devoid of any reality, and female flesh on display. And it was a hell of a film, capturing the tone perfectly to create a homage to B-movie horror of the 80’s, yet with that postmodernism self-mocking tone. 3DD lacks any of this, reeking of committee; a committee that evidently didn’t get the parodying tones and instead attributed the influx of earrings of its predecessor to it being a film about wet tits in 3D. This film is Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) bad, with a portrayal of women as odious as that of a white guy in a Spike Lee movie, and has encouraged plans for a video segment accompaniment to go along side this to fully delve into the problems on display, so look forward to that in the following weeks. Until then I promise to work in some jokes along the way, if only to lighten the potentially bitterly dark tone.
Two men in suits sit in a bath tub filled with hundred dollar bills, naked women and fried swan meat. One reaches for the cocaine bucket but finds it worryingly low. To sooth his clearing head he turns on the taps and to his horror discovers only a stream of $50 comes pouring forth. He turns to his equally worried associate.
Movie Executive 1: Time for a new film.
Movie Executive 2: How about something about offensively rich kids spending their parent’s money on lavish parties and having copious amounts of sex during a time of global recession and mass unemployment?
Movie Executive 1: Nah, Made in Chelsea and Real Mums of the OC already have the monopoly on that.
Movie Executive 2: Hold up, did you say ‘monopoly’…..?
Movie Executive 1: Ho. Lee. Shit. Are you picturing what I’m picturing?
Movie Executive 2: Board games, the last untapped frontier. We buy up a load of game product rights and make tenuously linked narratives to fit.
Movie Executive 1: I’ll phone Hasbro, they’ll do anything for money.
Movie Executive 2: We can cut further corners thusly; we have a load of CGI left over from the good edits of the Transformer films we’ll never release, the soundtrack rights to Iron Man 2 and all the ACDC anyone could ask for, and since we dropped both the movie adaptations of Cysis and Under the Dome mid-production we have all those cool mecha suits and force field effects on hand. Not only that but apparently boats are in vogue this movie season, and with Veteran’s Day coming up we can claim money off tax by using real war survivors in place of actors. Then all we do is paste it together with deleted scenes from Top Gun and Pearl Harbour and you get……wait for it…..BATTLESHIPS!
Movie Executive 1: I think you made my mind cum so hard you turned it gay! Excellent work Number 2. I’m so impressed that were this swan sandwich a woman I’d make it fuck you.
Review coming soon…….
….or not. You see, after several weeks sitting, brooding on the film, starting and stopping, I’ve come to realise that there is nothing stand-out enough about Battleship to do a piece on. It’s as bland as it is stupidly compelling, and practically all you need to know about it has been summised by the preamble. So sorry to disapoint but I have conceded defeat. Congratulations Battleship, you are so lacking in any substance that you’ve slipped the net. Now kindly fade from memory so we can continue to bask in the glory of Avengers Assemble.
Y’know, there was a time, before Pearl Harbour decided to set a quality trend, that Michael Bay proved himself capable of directing entertaining action flicks, marred with goofy stupidity certainly, but competent and inoffensive. Armageddon certainly fails to set the world on fire (thanks to the asteroid nemesis being destroyed before it can do this very thing) however it’s not the worst flick of its kind and even has less racism than we’ve come to expect from him since Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – and somehow less racist than its death-by-space rival Deep Impact, a film about a black President attracting the attention of an otherwise uninterested asteroid (at least that’s what I got from it – before Obama proved the film wrong).
So before Pearl Harbour, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Transformers, Friday the 13t, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Nightmare on Elm Street, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and please let me be wrong on this Ninja Turtles, Mr. Bay showed he was capable at big whoosh bang action flicks, with a good cast ensemble playing likable characters, a decent sense of peril and tension, and impressive use of destructo-physics (the birth of the Baysplosion was right here). Were Armageddon a forgettable CGI apoco-flick I’d be tempted to ignore it and move onto the next on the axe-to-grind list (spoiler: possibly Hollow Man or Titanic 3D), HOWEVER I find myself unable to get past this: a NASA consultant and Asteroid expert were brought onboard to make sure the film was as accurate as possible. ARE YOU SHITTING ME?! A story about a hunk of interstellar ice requires an expert on the subject, while the much anticipated Transformers was crafted with no concern for the subject matter and no advice sought from the millions of people with an interest in the franchise? You couldn’t even be bothered to watch the 20 minute pilot episode, yet for this you hired a team of fucking experts?! No, fuck you Michael Bay! And fuck Armageddon!