Monday, November 17, 2008

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes - Original Version

My favorite Planet of the Apes film has always been Conquest. It's one of the first science fiction movies, outside of Star Trek, I saw as a kid that really struck a cord with me in a deep and meaningful way. So, needless to say, when I first read on The Digital Bits that the Blu-Ray set of all five Apes films would contain the original cut of Conquest, I was ecstatic. I watched it the other night and was just blown away. It is THAT different.

For those of you not familiar with the movie, it tells the story of the ape revolution lead by Caesar. In the 1991 of the movie, North America is a fascist state in which humans use intelligent apes as slaves. They treat them brutally without an ounce of remorse. The only human who shows them any pity is a black man who, as a descendant of slaves, understand their plight. When Caesar, Earth's first talking ape, sees what is going on in the world he leads his fellow apes in an overthrow of the human government and system. It has always been a brutal film both emotionally and in terms of the violence is portrays. But if you thought the movie had a dark tone before, just wait until you see it as it was originally intended to be seen.

The differences don't start until the riots begin. What was a fairly bloodless affair in the PG version is now vastly different. We see apes getting shot and bleeding. We see humans getting shot and bleeding. We also get lingering shots of the bodies of dead apes that make Caesar's reactions that much more understandable. Granted, the blood is what I call "Dawn of the Dead 70's blood." It's not as realistic looking as that to which modern audiences have become accustomed. But, the blood and bodies add significantly to the heightened sense of anger that pervades the whole movie.

The biggest changes come at the very end. The first one is when Governor Breck sees a blowtorch cutting into the command center door. He knows that Ape Management is about to fall and orders the apes inside to be shot. In this version, before the police shoot the group of apes, Breck grabs a handgun and shoots a gorilla in the head at point blank range. In the scene, Breck points the gun directly at the camera, putting the viewer in the position of the gorilla. It then cuts to the face of the gorilla with a helpless look in his eyes. The camera doesn't cut away as we see his head burst with blood from the bullet. It really took me back. I literally said aloud, "holy shit."

Then comes the end and Caesar's speech. This version offers no peacemaking or reconciliation. Lisa does not say "no" before the gorillas try to kill Breck. Before he gives his speech we see the gorillas piling up the bodies of dead, bloody humans in front of where Caesar is now standing. I like what this adds to the movie and I also like it as foreshadowing the war-like nature of the gorillas in the future. It invokes a mirror image feeling of seeing the gorillas piling up human bodies after their hunt in the original film.

In this version, Caesar's speech ends with the phrase "and that day is upon you now!" After that, the gorillas raise their rifles and beat a defiant Governor Breck to death. We don't see the rifle buts impacting his body but the scene does go on for quite a while. It leaves no doubt as to what is happening. Breck is not spared and Caesar offers no pity for his human oppressors. The film then cuts to the long-shot of the apes in front of a burning sky-line. It fades to back and the credits roll. The only word I had after it ended was "damn."

The raw power and emotion of this version is jaw-dropping. I can only imagine what parents taking their kids to see this at test screenings must have thought. Every ape film before this had been rated G. This version would have clearly gotten an R. I can also certainly understand why the black culture of the time embraced this film so much. In this original form, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes is one of the most savagely nihilistic science fiction films ever made. It has the emotional punch of the original Gojira. I never thought I could be a bigger fan of this movie than I already was, but it happened. If you know the old version like the back of your hand, you owe it to yourself to see this as J. Lee Thompson and Paul Dehn intended it. If you have never seen the movie, watch this version. You will not be disappointed.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Trundling . . .

So, many moons ago I promised to continue the adventures of the day I met Ray Harryhausen in Richmond. I put it off over and over again much to the chagrin of Pine himself, Craig T. Eckrich. Well wait no more my friends. The day of reckoning is finally upon you! Today you will read the story of "trundling." The tale you are about to hear is why I hate not being in charge of my dining destiny!

It was mid-afternoon on that fair Saturday. We had just watched Jason and the Argonauts and were on a lunch break before the man himself, Ray Harryhausen, was going to speak and answer questions. Needless to say, I was freakin' starving! Well, after looking over the musical selection at Plan 9 Records and giving birth to the song "My Leeman Does the Hanky Panky", we began to walk down the street to find somewhere to eat. What started out as a stroll through Carrytown to get some lunch soon turned into the fucking Bataan Death March!

All I ask when I go out to eat is that it be a normal place that serves normal food of which I am familiar. Well, first we pass by a Subway. Cool! I'm ready to join Jared and eat fresh! But oh no, that wasn't good enough. So we walk, and walk, and walk. Like Dewey Cox . . . we walk hard. Then I see a McDonald's on the horizon. Cool. I always see Mickey D's as a least objectionable choice. Who could say no to some Chicken McNuggets or a Quarter Pounder with Cheese? My friends, that's who! My frustration grows higher and my blood sugar sinks lower. You see, there are really not many places to eat at in this part of town. Well, we finally get to some hole-in-the-wall burger joint that is swamped with people. For some reason this place seems to satisfy my traveling companions. Now, my fucking kitchen could seat more people than this place! So the wait time is like 45 minutes. So, we leave. We then walk PAST both the McDonald's and the Subway again! We wind up at a pizza place and guess what? We fucking wait!

Well, I have had enough of this bullshit. I am ready to eat something NOW. So, I tell Pine that I bet I can go to McDonald's, eat, and be back before they even get seated. So I dart out the door and run my ass across the street to the Mickey D's. I couldn't see myself running, obviously, but I was hauling ass. Why wouldn't I be? I was starving! Well, according to Pine I put my head down and ran in a way which he deemed "trundling." He still laughs about it to this day. I have no idea how it looked but I'm sure it was pretty funny.

So, I eat my McNuggets and head on back over to the pizza place. Contrary to my theory, they were seated and were getting their pizza. But I was blissfully full and could then enjoin them in witty banter and discussion. The lesson here is that Johnson will diss you in a New York second if he is hungry and willfully being denied the ability to eat. If I am hungry and have low blood sugar, I am not walking by places to eat with no crowds only to go to places with long waits. I will trundle anytime the situation calls for it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

There was a knock on my door . . .

I am going to tell you all about one of the most memorable events to happen during my time at Marymount University. I normally only give people a shortened version of this story. But here, for the first time ever, I am going to share every last detail that I can wring out of my brain. I want this documented for posterity.

It was a typical Sunday evening on the second floor of the Annex. People were washing their clothes, doing some schoolwork, and generally fucking off. I am not entirely sure but I think it was Roger Ortega who called me into the big bathroom across from the wooden phone booth. He had something to show me. There was already a small crowd gathered next to the first shower on the right-hand side. When I looked in, what to my wandering eyes should appear? It was a rather large pile of shit! I don't mean shit in the slang sense like there was a bunch of stuff in there. Oh no, this was a pile of human feces my friends. It wasn't in the typical serpentine shape of a normal turd. It was more like a splattered cow patty. I took one look and got my ass out of the bathroom. Well, no one of any importance found out about it until the next day.

When I got back to the floor that Monday afternoon, there was one of Grandpa's computer printed signs that read "Floor Meeting. 9:00pm. VERY BRIEF." Roger and I suspected that this brief meeting was probably about the shit we had seen in the shower on the previous night. So Roger, in his infinite wisdom, brought his micro-cassette recorder to the meeting and recorded the whole thing.

The meeting was held in the second floor lounge, right next to the room I shared with No No Just Dave. Attending were our R.A.'s Brian "Grandpa" Abrams and Kevin Marsh. Also there that night was a very sullen looking Carlton Sauls, Director of Residence Life. What follows is verbatim what Abrams told us that night . . .

"Today I faced the most difficult situation I have ever had to face as an R.A. And that, was a knock on my door . . . by our maid . . . in tears . . . half out of fury . . . and the other half out of . . . disgust. She motioned me to a lump of . . . excrement . . . in the shower. I mean guys, this happened on a Sunday night. This wasn't 'I was drunk' this was 'I'm going in the shower . . . to take a dump.'"

Needless to say, inside I was about to piss my pants laughing but I couldn't let that show. This was serious business to Abrams and Carlton! Later, away from the context of the meeting, Abrams told me what the maid really said. He said she took him to the bathroom, pointed in the shower and said "shit senor!" None of our maids spoke English.

The identity of the culprit was never discovered. There was a theory that a young fellow who was known to wipe boogers on the TV screen and bathroom mirrors may have been responsible. I can't really say for sure. I know he was fucked up but I don't know if he would intentionally shit in the shower. So let's do a little detective work shall we. Here are the major scenarios as I see them:

1. Someone, anyone really, got sick and couldn't control their bowels. He shit in the shower and was too embarrassed to say anything to anyone.

2. The booger wiping individual mentioned above did it on purpose.

3. Someone else did it on purpose for laughs.

Regardless, the truth is out there!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New Picture of Nero

Paramount has released another picture of Romulan villain Nero. I like this picture much better than the first one they released. He doesn't look nearly as much like Shinzon in this picture. The more I see of all these pictures the more excited I get about the movie. I am really liking everything I have seen so far. The trailer will be released on November 14th with the new James Bond movie Quantum of Solace.

On a side note, IDW has announced a special prequel comic book series that will lead into the events of the new movie. The book will be about Nero and older Spock in the 24th century post Nemesis. The most exciting part to me is it will address what Spock was doing after we saw him last in Unification. I am still holding out hope for a TV series set in the 24th century after the events of Nemesis. Hopefully this movie will make big bucks and we'll see Star Trek return to television.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Star Trek Pictures - Let the Nit-Picking Begin!

Well, after waiting for what seems like an eternity, Paramount finally released some pictures from the new Star Trek movie. For me, it is always exciting to see those first pictures from a new Trek. Very little really compares to the experience of casting my eyes on pictures like this for the first time. So, before all the bitching about small details begins I thought I'd share my initial thoughts on them. I know that some of you will never be satisfied with anything but I am not like that. My love of Star Trek is like a baseball fan's love of his favorite team. No matter what the team does, he is still a fan. Sometimes they win the World Series, other times they can't even make the playoffs. He might dog them out when they don't perform, but he still loves them. That's how I am with Star Trek. It's my team and I stick with it through the ups, downs, and in-betweens. I am excited about the new movie. So, let's get to the pictures!

In this picture we get our first glimpse of the new bridge. At this point I don't really know what to think of it. It seems to be a fairly significant departure from the basic Matt Jeffries design that every bridge set has always stuck to. There are a couple of things I really like about what I see. The first is the light and color. This is definitely a return to a more colorful Star Trek. After having both dark uniforms and dark ship interiors on Enterprise, this is a welcome return. I am also glad to see the franchise move away from the "submarine warfare" aesthetic that has dominated the movies since The Wrath of Khan. What started as something new became a tired crutch.

Well, what about the characters we see in the shot? I love the posture of both Karl Urban and Chris Pine. I can look at them and immediately tell who they are. Zachary Quinto, as always, looks fantastic. And John Cho looks much more like Sulu than I imagined her ever could. Also, how awesome is it to see a return to women wearing miniskirts and go-go boots in Starfleet? No more of that "gender neutral" bullshit we saw in The Next Generation.

Johnson's Grade: B+

What is most striking to me about this picture is how age appropriate the characters look together. It is very obvious that Chekov is younger than everyone else and McCoy is older. Zoe Saldana is strikingly beautiful as Uhura and Chris Pine has a great presence as Kirk. There is no doubt just from observing their body language who is in charge. I'm still not too sure about Simon Pegg. I know I am not a part of the nerd herd that thinks everything that guy shits is gold. But I will reserve judgement until I see his performance. I am hoping he will win me over.

Johnson's Grade: A

Here we have our first good shot of Eric Bana as our Romulan villain Nero. I am a huge fan of the Romulans and feel, like many fans, that they are criminally underused. I really like that he is a classic Romulan without the forehead appliance that Michael Westmore added to the race in The Next Generation. The green lighting in the shot is in keeping with the general color the modern era assigned to the race. What I am not crazy about is just how much he looks like Shinzon. I think it's a big mistake to design a character that looks so much like the villain from the previous unsuccessful movie. But, this movie is being marketed heavily to the general public. I doubt many of them have ever even heard of Shinzon so it probably won't hurt anything. But, I would have preferred a completely traditional look. But again, I am hoping that Eric Bana will win me over with his performance.

Johnson's Grade: B-

There are more pictures but those three are the best and most revealing. I am legitimately excited to see the movie and to have my favorite fictional universe live again. I can boil any discussion I will have down to this brief bit of dialogue . . .

Johnson - "I think the new Trek movie is going to be great!"

Tony/Rob - "Aye. And if my grandmother had wheels she'd be a wagon."

Johnson - "Come come! Young minds, fresh ideas."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Chris Thomas King - Co-Star of Kill Switch

So I was reading up on various people in Kill Switch and found out that Chris Thomas King, who plays Seagal's cop partner in the movie is a real life blues musician! Lawd Have Mercy! I thing Seagal is more into blues culture now than Asian culture. Only time will tell. Read all about Chris Thomas King right here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Steven Seagal is Kill Switch

Yesterday was a day of great importance. Tuesday October 7, 2008 saw the release of the latest DTV Steven Seagal movie, Kill Switch. I had purposely avoided reading Vern's review because I wanted to be surprised. What I got was another mind-boggling entry into the Seagal DTV canon. Where do I even begin? Lawd Have Mercy!

Kill Switch is the story of Memphis detective Jacob King and his relentless pursuit of not one but two serial killers. The first one we meet is Billy Joel Hill. This dude, in a very un-serial killer like fashion, has sewn a bomb into some chick's chest and the bomb squad is going through the whole "what color wire do we cut?" dilemma that anyone who's ever seen a movie is familiar with. In order to find out which color wire will disable the bomb, Jacob King beats the shit out of Hill. Now I don't mean he gives him a typical Seagal ass-whipping. This is a brutal beating. As the movie goes on, the brutality is what sets Jacob King apart from every other Seagal character we have ever seen. Well, eventually King throws Hill out of a window and the woman is saved. Only later on, we find out that Hill survived his fall and was released from prison because the police used excessive force. Really? You think?

If you've seen any of Lord Steven's more recent DTV titles, then you know he has become quite fond of using some kind of Cajun accent. Well, in Kill Switch it's thicker than ever. He says his new trademarked phrase "Lawd Have Mercy!" five times by my count. That alone is worth the price I paid for the movie. Also, Seagal manages to include another great love of his into the movie heavily, blues music. The soundtrack has blues music, there are numerous scenes in blues clubs, hell, it even takes place in Memphis. Lawd Have Mercy!

Anyway, the other serial killer he is trying to catch is named Lazereus. He's a mix of the Zodiac killer, the killer from Seven, and Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs. Now, would you be surprised if I told you that there is a third serial killer in the movie? Well, there is. Except, this one is from the past of Jacob King. Every once in a while, King has flashes of memories that appear as Avid Farts. In these avid fart memories, we see a young King and what appears to be his brother. King sees some ominous looking serial killer guy murder his brother. I guess that's why he tracks serial killers for a living now. All we can do is speculate since he never talks about it and it never really adds anything to the movie except minutes to the running time.

I won't bore you with any more plot details because it's a pain in the ass to recap all this shit. Let's get to the fights and the ending. There are two fights in bars in Kill Switch. The stuntman isn't as obvious as he is in other Seagal DTV movies. The problem is in the editing. All of the fights are edited via numerous small jump-cuts. And it's not just that the scenes cut frames going forward, but they will suddenly jump backwards, then forwards, then backwards again. It ends up creating an incomprehensible mess. The editor must have thought he was on to the next big thing. My advice is to not get too clever with this editing bullshit. Before computer based editing you couldn't do this shit. It makes me wish movies still had to be edited on flatbed editors. Just keep it simple and let us see the action.

I would be remiss to not talk about Jacob King's brutality. In order to find out information about a dead prostitute, King asks her pimp some questions. When he refuses to answer, King puts the guy's mouth on the bar and starts beating on the back of his head until the dude's teeth are knocked out. Sounds like a pretty standard police interrogation technique to me. It's pretty brutal to watch. But, the comforting thing is the pimp shows up moments later, shooting at King in an alleyway, and he miraculously has all his teeth! Also, once King tracks down Lazereus, they have a really long fight in a bar. Once King has the upper hand, he beats the shit out of the guy with a club. He literally attempts to break as many of the guy's bones as he can. Jacob King isn't fuckin' around. Lawd have Mercy!

OK, so King also lives with this cute Asian chick who is also a cop. She walks around the house in short silk robes all the time but King never shows any interest in her sexually. He is too immersed in his serial killer tracking to even look at her, much less fuck her. Well, eventually she gets killed by the aforementioned Billy Joel Hill. King finds the dead girl and Hill in his house. He proceeds to beat the shit out of Hill and then kill him. The thing is, it's not out of rage over the girl's death. It's more like a personal pride issue. This all seems strange right? Just hang on.

When King's Memphis PD partner and some hot federal agent show up to King's house and find Hill dead, King is nowhere to be found. He has left a note explaining that his work is done. Notes with voice-over are a common plot element in the DTV era. Now we see that Jacob King has returned to his beautiful Russian wife and his two children! The movie ends with her taking her top off and King closing the door implying they are about to fuck. Nowhere in the movie was there even the slightest hint of him wanting to return to some family we had never met. But, I guess this explains why he wasn't interested in the Asian girl who lived with him.

Let me try and piece this together in my mind from the clues I was given in the movie. Jacob King saw his brother murdered by a serial killer when he was a kid. From that moment on he dedicated his life to catching serial killers. At some point in the past, he left his wife and kids to join the Memphis Police Department (Because I guess Memphis is a hotbed of serial killing). He lets a sexy female police officer live with him but they keep it strictly friends. He then kills one serial killer, arrests another and finally feels vindicated. He then returns home to his family, mission accomplished. There doesn't appear to be any meaning to the title, Kill Switch. That's OK. In the DTV era, titles are pretty meaningless.

So did I like the movie? Hell yes! It was crazy Seagal DTV fun. It is a step backwards from Urban Justice and Pistol Whipped. But, if you enjoy the insane, unpredictable nature of movies like Today You Die, you will definitely enjoy this one. Lawd Have Mercy!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Disaster Movie

Yep. That's right. I went to see Disaster Movie yesterday.

Now that you all have recovered from the shock, I'll see if I can write an amusing review of the latest magnum opus from Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. If you get more than three laughs out of my review, it has been more successful than the movie was in eliciting humor from an audience.

For those of you unfamiliar with "the new masters of the parody genre", they wrote and directed such comic gems as Date Movie, Epic Movie, and Meet the Spartans. I had never seen one of their movies in it's entirety until yesterday. I knew the trailers were about as funny as a hemorrhoid and I also had been told first-hand just how un-funny they were. But humor is a subjective thing. Roger Ebert once said that the only two genres you can't properly review are comedy and porn. If someone find something funny, you can't tell them it's not and you can't talk someone out of a hard-on. So I wanted to see for myself. Going in I thought I might at least be able to laugh at the movie and its absurdity. Boy was I wrong.

The not-so-clever "parodies" come at you at lightning pace and the worst ones are drug out WAY too long. The end crosscuts between a scene of the black guy fighting Kung Fu Panda and the white guy fighting Beowulf. There isn't anything about the way either character is portrayed that actually spoofs the movies from which they came. They're just there. For some reason Beowulf is made out to be gay and keeps talking about things like Rosie O'Donnell's gay cruise, George Takei, and running an antique shop with his best friend. Gee, Beowulf is gay, that is just a barrel of fucking laughs guys. Thanks.

To give you an idea of how these parodies play out I will describe a typical scene. A "Super Sweet 16" party is going on for the 25 year old man character when Seth and McLovin from Superbad show up to steal the liquor "so they can finally get laid." The other main character, a black guy, decides he needs to shoot them so they won't steal the booze. Just as he's about to shoot them, a side of beef shows up between him and the guys. Then Carmen Electra walks in and tells him to shoot around the beef like in Wanted. Then, when he tries to shoot around the beef, it curves around and hits Dr. Phil. I know you're all laughing already.

There is a really long scene that shows us the Chipmunks going evil. They sing death metal and then attack the main characters. How clever. Take innocent, friendly characters and make them evil. That is the easiest, laziest joke someone could ever make. Just like Kung Fu Panda and Beowulf, there isn't anything that actually spoofs The Chipmunks. That would have taken way too much thought. Friedberg and Seltzer couldn't be bothered with that.

The most mind-boggling "joke" in the movie involves their spoof of Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men. A dude is passed out at a party and another dude yells "he's asleep, let's prank him!" So Anton comes over and kills the guy with that air gun thing after flipping a coin. Listen, I love dark humor but it has to be funny. That's not a spoof. That's like some shit the real character might actually do! What the fuck?

The movie ends with this bizarre musical sequence that features every single character from the movie in which they all state their names. I shit you not. Just in case you missed all of these painfully obvious movie references, the big musical finale will get you up to speed. Each character sings about how he or she is dating the next character. That left me scratching my head. Why in the name of Zod would they all sing about dating one another? Well, I turned to that vast source of porn known as the Internet for an answer. Apparently, Sarah Silverman, who is about as amusing as blood in my stool, made some song/video called "I'm Fucking Matt Damon" and this wonderful little ditty is spoofing that. I tend to be a day late and dollar short on these Internet fad videos so I'm not surprised I didn't get it. So yeah, the movie explains the obvious spoofs by spoofing something obscure. Brilliant.

So now that I've seen one of their movies, what is my advice to you my loyal readers? By all means, either go see this one or rent one of their other movies. It's worth it just to see it and be amazed. Make no mistake, this is one of the worst movies you will ever see. But it's like some forbidden knowledge that you know will burn you alive should you know it yet somehow you MUST know! You will never truly understand just how awful these movies are until you see one.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Indian Jones and the Useless Artifacts

Things that make me go hmmmmm . . .

No folks, I promise this will not be a post about either Arsenio Hall or the C + C Music Factory. This is about stuff in the Indiana Jones movies that makes me go hmmmm. Hopefully these won't be the obvious ones

The knight who guards the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Why? If taking the grail outside of the little temple place it was in would cause the place to earthquake and kill you, why have some knight sit there for hundreds of years guarding it? Sure, the grail will let you live forever but it's not like it'll do you any good. You'd have to stay in the temple forever just like the knight. Which leads me to a bigger observation . . .

The magical artifacts from the Indiana Jones movies are useless. Well, that's not fair to say. The Shankara stone from Temple of Doom did help that village grow crops and prosper but that's the only one!

The Ark was supposed to help any army that carried it be invincible. But, when the German army actually gets their hands on it they all get melted by some ghosts flying around. But, really, the Nazis should have known better than to expect cooperation from Yahweh. Did they never read the Bible? He spends the majority of his time pissed off and smiting people who weren't nearly as mean as the Nazis. The U.S. Government at least had enough sense to know it wouldn't help. They locked the thing away in Area 51 just like the Crystal Skull so no Americans would get melted. So yeah, Ark, bad idea. Didn't work as advertised.

Shankara Stones. OK, now we're getting somewhere. Not only did the one help the village but all three let Mola Ram do cool shit like pull a guy's heart out. The only downside is that the village fell into decay after the Thugees stole the stone. I guess whatever Hindu god controls those things is pretty adamant about the stone and/or stones being present. No, "well, you villagers are nice folks, you don't need the stone" attitude. You either have it or you are fucked. But, regardless of that rigid rule of blessings, at least the damn things do something useful.

The Holy Grail. So, drinking from this thing is supposed to make you live forever. But, I suppose the powers-that-be decided that we couldn't just have any old Tom, Dick, or Harry living forever. What if the guys that made Meet the Spartans drank from it? We'd have to deal with them making shitty parody movies until the sun went nova. So, to prevent such catastrophes the Grail was put in some temple and has been guarded by a knight ever since the crusades. But, like I mentioned before, you can't actually take it out of the building. I guess you could go back in every month and take a swig but the location would make it impractical. Not to mention, can you imagine the line? So, once again, useless.

Back to the knight. So he stayed in there guarding something that was booby-trapped in such a way as to destroy the building it was in, killing you in the process, if you tried to take it. Soooooooo . . . why guard it at all? I think he must be the medieval version of a rent-a-cop. You know, those fat, lazy fuckers that sit in lobbies "guarding" buildings at night. The knight just had a cooler outfit and got to carry a sword. So, with nothing to really guard, what did he do? Wouldn't he need a fresh water supply to keep drinking from the grail at the very least? Surely he didn't just sit there looking noble for hundreds of years. Anyway.

The Crystal Skull. What good did that thing do anyone? Harold Oxley took the thing to Accator but it caused him to go mental so he took it back where he found it. It was supposed to provide some awesome amount of alien knowledge and all it did was turn him into a schizophrenic. Then, Irinia Spalko, who really did want the knowledge, returns the skull and what does she gets for her troubles? Yeah, that's right. She gets killed. And not just killed, she gets the space-age version of what happened to the Nazis with the Ark. Thanks a lot interdimensional aliens. You're no better than the gods who control the previous artifacts.

Oh, so what does Indy get for all his troubles with these lousy artifacts? Not a damn thing. He isn't able to take a single one to a museum nor is he able to write a paper that an academic institution would actually believe. Imagine going before an IRB and telling them, "well you see I found the Holy Grail but it was guarded by a 600 year old knight who wouldn't let me have it. Then when we tried to take it, the building fell apart." You'd be exploring a padded cell for the rest of your life or at least until a Terminator broke you out.

So, the moral of the Indiana Jones movies is thusly . . . If you hear about some cool powers you might get from some ancient artifact, don't bother. If they are being sought by bad guys for nefarious purposes, don't worry, the creatures that made up the bullshit story to begin with will kill them once they find it. It was all probably just a trap for bad guys anyway. It's not worth your time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

I know that some of you have been checking Chris Johnson Discusses Stuff to see if I have shared my thoughts on the new animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Well, wait no more my loyal readers. This is what you have been waiting for.

I used to read Harry Knowles' reviews and wonder why he spent so much time going into his backstory. I totally understand this now. Because to really understand why I enjoyed the movie you need to know a few things about me. For those of you that talk to me every day, none of this will be front-page news. But, lately my reviews have started being read by old friends who haven't had a real conversation with me in a decade or more. So, let me explain my history and loves within the Star Wars universe.

I grew up with and love Star Wars. In fact, I still own all of my childhood Star Wars toys and posess a vast collection of vintage graded toys and modern era figures. My favorite Star Wars character is Boba Fett. My second favorite SW character is Wat Tambor. (If you don't know who he is, look him up. He rocks.) I am a HUGE fan of the goofy aspects of the SW universe. I really like seeing Jar Jar step in Bantha shit and yell "icky-icky goo!" I like it when the Kadu farts in his face and he says "Pee-usa!" I have never had a problem with the acting skills of Jake Lloyd, Hayden Christensen, or Natalie Portman. Hell, I even like Flo the droid waitress that offer Obi-Wan a glass of Jawa juice! I do have to wonder, however, who in the hell would want to drink anything made by Jawas. Who knows, might be good. It's not like I have ever tried any Jawa food.

So, suffice it to say, I am not a prequel hater. I love them. In fact, my favorite time period in the SW timeline is the Clone Wars. Whenever I read the same old bullshit criticisms of the prequels I want to personally tell all of the haters to eat shit and die. For those of us that actually get what Star Wars actually is, instead of hating it for it not being what we think it ought to be, the new movies are pure joy. Now the EU shit like the Zahn books and the Yuhzan Vong sucks more dick than a gay prostitute in a San Francisco bath house. But I digress . . .

I had a huge smile on my face the whole time I was watching The Clone Wars. I knew going in that it was essentially a story arc from the series put together for a theatrical release. So, does it work as a stand-alone move per-say? Yes and no. Without the rest of the series to anticipate watching, we would be left to wonder whatever happens to Ahsoka before Episode III. But, knowing what the movie was, it works great.

The movie picks up immediately after Episode II. Anakin is now a full Jedi Knight. This is great because it makes it clear that the Gendy Tartikovsky Clone Wars (AKA Jedi Jack) are not canon since Anakin did not become a full Jedi Knight until right before Episode III in that continuity. Jedi Jack sucked ass. Thank you George for taking it out of the official canon. The movie picks up in the middle of a sweet battle.

We meet Anakin's new padawan named Ahsoka Tano. She's the same species as Shaak Ti but very young. She annoyed the piss out of me during the first 30 minutes but after her character was given time to develop she grew on me. I do question the wisdom of sending a young padawan learner into the middle of the Clone Wars but the Jedi are stretched thin so I guess they need all the help they can get. So give Ahsoka a chance and hopefully you'll start liking her like I did.

The plot revolves around Count Dooku and Asajj Ventress kidnapping the son of Jabba the Hutt and trying to frame the Jedi for it. Both sides want Jabba's favor so that they may travel freely in the outer rim territories.


I absolutely LOVED Jabba's son who Ahsoka nicknames "Stinky." The idea of a little baby Hutt being carried around in a backpack is just priceless! Hutts are like cats, they start off cute but become a nuisance when they get older. But wait, the Hutt fun doesn't end with Stinky! We also get to meet Jabba's uncle Ziro the Hutt. Ziro lives on Courascant in an area kind of like the French Quarter in New Orleans (pre Katrina). He talks in perfect English with a lisp and is painted purple with shapes and patterns on him. As best I can tell, Ziro is playing for the pink team. The character is just one of those things so absurd that you have to laugh. A gay Hutt? Completely unexpected and out of left-field. Just the kind of goofy crap I enjoy! He may go on to be one of my other favorite SW characters.

I love Battle Droid humor. This movies has it in spades my friends. There is enough "Roger Roger!" to keep a smile on the face of even the most cynical fan. I also love Jawa humor. Every time a ship lands, the Jawas come out of nowhere and try to steal as many parts as they can. Classic!

It was also really neat to see the likes of Anakin, Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Count Dooku at Jabba's palace on Tatooine. There are some great references for hardcore fans. My favorite was actually referring, on-screen, to the palace as a Bo'mar Monk monastery. We also get a scene that deals with Anakin's still seething anger over the death of his mother when Ahsoka asks him about Tatooine being his homeworld.

So, is it an equal of the live-action movies? No. But I didn't expect it to be. It can't be, not because it's animated, but because it isn't telling the main story of the Skywalker family. That is the job of the episodes of the saga. This is filling in some gaps. It does a really cool job of doing just that. If you are a Star Wars fan that doesn't have a chip on his shoulder about he prequels, you will enjoy the movie and the series to come. If you are still getting your panties in a wad over characters like Jar Jar and claiming Lucas "rapes your childhood", do us all a favor and just don't watch it. odds are we've heard it all before and the world will be better off with a little less bitching.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Chris Johnson Chants Stuff

Check out yours truly on the promo for this Sunday's VCW show!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Killing of John Lennon

This was not an easy movie to watch. The Killing of John Lennon is a recreation of the events leading up to Mark David Chapman's murder of John Lennon. All of the narration we hear from actor Jonas Ball are Chapman's actual words. I went into this movie hoping to gain some insight into what made Chapman tick and why he needlessly killed the greatest musician of our time.

Quentin Tarantino says that everyone is either a Beatles person or an Elvis person. You can like them both but you always like one more than the other. I am for sure a Beatles person. And in the subset of Beatles fandom, I am a Lennon person. My favorite Beatles songs are primarily Lennon compositions like Happiness is a Warm Gun, A Day in the Life, I'm So Tired, and the list could go on. I also find Lennon's working-class rebellion and arrogance appealing. You could always see that resentment behind his eyes even when Brian Epstein had them dressed in grey suits. He chewed his gum and thought "what a bunch of wankers" to himself. So, needless to say, I do not have any good will or sympathy towards Mark Chapman.
The big question is, why make a movie about this little prick? He's someone who deserves no fame and no recognition whatsoever. Well, thankfully, this movie does not attempt to glorify him. It sets out to provide a realistic picture of Chapman's psyche. To that end, it portrays him just as he was and still is, a mentally ill loser who couldn't accomplish anything in life so he chose to make a name for himself by killing someone important.

We get a little of his background in Hawaii. His mom still hangs out at the beach and fucks guys younger than him and he resents her for it. He is married to a timid, mousy Asian girl who seems to put up with his crazy shit because she feels powerless to leave him. He works a shitty job and seems to have no sense of identity or self-worth. Unfortunately, he finds his identity in the pages of The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Seeing himself as the real Holden Caufield, he uses the book as a blueprint for his life and a rationale for murdering Lennon. You see, to Chapman, Lennon is a phony. He's a rich man who told the world to "imagine no possessions." That perceived phoniness is his justification for the murder. The line on the cover of the movie is a quote from Chapman. "I was nobody until I killed the biggest somebody on Earth."

John Lennon's fame was based on his talent as a musician and his ideals as an activist. He did real things that mattered to real people. What he contributed to the world was positive. Did his life always match his words? Of course not. But as David Marcus once said "good words, and that's where ideas begin." What did Chapman do? He murdered a man in cold blood in front of his wife. And he thinks that makes him "somebody." Sorry fuckhead. You are still a nobody. Taking from us a man we all loved is not an accomplishment. You sir are the real phony.

The movie is slow and deliberate in how it is paced. You know what is going to happen and are filled with a sense of dread until it does. I really give credit to Jonas Ball for his performance. I think most actors try to bring a sense of pathos to the characters they play. Thankfully, Ball does not do that. He works hard to bring the real Chapman to life just as he was at that time. He shows us a creepy, wormy, little prick that deserves our contempt but is not played as a villain. It's multidimensional and realistic.

So, was it successful in showing me who Chapman was in 1980? Definitely. It really doesn't offer a point of view or psychological insight into the man. It just shows the events in a docudrama style. It's up to you to wrestle with what was wrong with him and why he did what he did. There are no easy answers and it is a credit to the movie that it doesn't try to give us one with a bow on top like some shitty episode of Law and Order.

This isn't a movie for everybody. But, if you are intrigued by what goes on in the mind of a man like Mark David Chapman, give it a watch.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Starship Troopers 3: Marauder

I rented three different movies over the weekend and wanted to share some of my thoughts on each of them with you my loyal readers. But where to begin? I figured I'd start with the first one I watched. And that would be the direct-to-video sequel Starship Troopers 3: Marauder. Why, you may ask, would I even want to see a DTV sequel to a Paul Verhoeven movie? Johnson, don't you know it's going to pale in comparison to the original? The way I figure, after seeing Robocop 3 in a movie theater, how much worse can it get? So basically, I did not go into ST3 expecting a Verhoeven movie. I just wanted to see something that had the same spirit and satirical tone of the original. Oh, and before someone brings it up, I don't read novels, so I don't give a shit about what happens in "the book." So did I get a pleasant viewing experience with the movie?

As a matter of fact I did. It has a much smaller scale due to the budget, but it does feature some cool action sequences. It even features a return of the Brain Bug from the original movie. It was written and directed by Ed Neunmeier who not only wrote the original Starship Troopers, but also the Verhoeven classic Robocop. He does manage to keep the spirit of the original alive and not just by having more news sequences with the famous "would you like to know more?" tag line. He actually manages to make the movie about something in terms of the fascist Federation. The driving issue of ST3 is religion. The thing is, Neumeier isn't really all that clear on what he thinks of it.

Basically, freedom of religion doesn't exist in the Federation and people who are religious are looked down on by most folks. There is a really cute, yet really annoying girl who says The Lord's Prayer repeatedly every time she's on the business end of a bug attack. Little-by-little, she wears down Jolene Blalock's character until she becomes a believer in her hour of need. Meanwhile, the woman who is command of the Federation sees that religion creates perfect soldiers because they stop asking questions and are willing do do whatever it takes because of faith. In the end, the Federation declares that there is a God, he is a citizen, and he is on the side of the Federation! But, at the same time, Lola Beck's conversion is sincere and she firmly believes God saved her from the HBIC (Head Bug in Charge). That's my term, not the movie's.

So what is it? Is freedom of religion necessary or is it just a useful tool for political power? The thing is, in declaring that there is a God, there still isn't freedom of religion in the Federation. The new policy just puts atheists in the same position the believers used to be in. So the message of the movie is confusing but it will spark debate. You can't say that for most DTV sequels.

As far as the cast is concerned, Casper Van Dien still can't act his way out of a paper bag. It's cool to see Johnny Rico back in action but he really isn't the main character. Jolene Blalock really carries the movie as Lola Beck. I think she's a good actress and more than just a nice body. It's a shame that Berman and Braga didn't give her much to work with on Enterprise. The CG effects looks straight outta 1995 TV (ie. Babylon 5). That is a nice way of saying they look crappy. But the budget was low so I understand. Unfortunately, my favorite bugs were not in the movie. That would be the Tanker Bugs. You know, the huge beetle looking ones that fart laserbeams into space. I guess they were too complicated for the budget of the movie. Oh well.

My suggestion for a fourth movie is to bring back Jolene Blalock but not Casper Van Dien. If Neumeier brings back a cast member from the original, my vote goes to Neil Patrick Harris.
If you can, watch the movie on Blu-Ray. The image is flawless. I imagine, given the budget, it was shot on HD video. It is a really nice looking disc. A nice looking presentation is always a plus for me.
Would you like to know more?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Origins: Rooftop . . . Let's Go!

Another catchphrase from my college years that never ceases to make me laugh is Rooftop . . . Let's Go! This one, unlike That's some cool shit, doesn't really make any sense to the general public. In fact, it's hard to really explain why it's so funny since only the people that knew Costas can truly understand. In this post I hope to not only explain the origins of the phrase, but also convey the flavor of the moment in which it was born. To begin, I will explain the man himself . . . Costas.

Our friend Dave Humphrey was smiled upon by the gods when he got his roommate assignment. The guy he got was from Greece and his name was Costas. His last name is forever lost to time. I couldn't pronounce it enough for the neural pathways to actually form a lasting memory. Before you go off on a "Johnson you xenophobic bastard," let me to you something about Costas. He didn't bathe, shower, or in any way wash himself. He owned this outfit that he played basketball in that looked like what Chevy Chase wore when Flecth played in Lakers games. He would go play ball all afternoon, sweat his ass off, then come back to his room, take off his Fletch outfit and fold it up and and put it in the drawer to wear again. It would never see the inside of a washing machine. Ralph was known to refer to him as "Costas, that smelly bitch!"

Well, one night Shanks and I had rented the video game Maximum Carnage for the SNES. OK, this game sucked so bad it is hard to describe. It was based on the equally crappy Spider-man miniseries of the same name. You old-school gamers will remember that before the Playstation, there was no saving of games. You had to save up enough lives to be able to win a game or else it was back to the beginning. I can remember guys who would pause games for days at a time so they wouldn't lose their place and have to start all over. Well, Maximum Carnage did not have many options for picking up extra lives. Not to mention, it was hard as shit. Not hard in a challenging way either. The various thugs would beat your ass and then it was back to the beginning of the level. The only way you could stay on a given level was to pick up some sort of "spider coin" midway through each level.

Well, alternately, Shanks and I would die and get kicked back to various starting points. Eventually Costas walked into the lounge and started watching us play the game. We were already frustrated with this piece of shit game enough without that smelly bitch coming in to watch. The level we were on at that moment was the rooftop. Everytime we would get kicked back to the start a full screen graphic would come up that said "Rooftop Let's Go." Each and every time that screen came up, Costas said, with great enthusiasm, "Rooftop! . . . Let's Go!" and would especially drag out the sound of the word "let's". That was all the fuck he would say! Not a word else. Just that every single time! It would have compounded the frustration of the game had it not been so damn funny.

Kevin Marsh and Brian Polak were also their to witness the birth of "Rooftop . . . Let's Go!" and still remember it fondly. I'm sure Costas is somewhere in Greece right now sweating, not bathing, and living his life oblivious to the fact that a bunch of Americans are still laughing about his inane commentary on our gaming. I doubt he even remembers saying it. But, if you ever read this Costas, I'd like to thank you for making me laugh to this day. You smelly bitch.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Can't Stop the Licensing!

I was thinking the other day about the songs that have been licensed out for use in movie trailers so many times that they have become an absurd cliche. The trailer for Tropic Thunder really plays on the licensed music cliche by opening it's trailer with "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield. It's a hilarious use of the song because of just how many times we have heard the opening notes of it used in movies about the war in Vietnam as well as their trailers. Well, let's all put on our thinking caps and list the songs that have been used in so many trailers that there should be a moratorium placed on using them . . .

1. "Bodies" by Downing Pool

I'm sure you all are as sick as me of anytime there is an action movie the trailer has to have the inane chorus of "let the bodies hit the floor, let the bodies hit the floor, let the bodies hit the floor . . . aaaaaarrrrrhhhhhhhhhh!" Not only do I hate fake-ass "Nu metal" but I am sick of it being associated with anything remotely bad-ass. I think the response to this song should be Let the masters hit the fire, let the masters hit the fire!"

2. "Clocks" by Coldplay

So, this is the obligatory song for some sort of build-up of emotional tension. I think the main reason you hear it in trailers so much is because it really does sound like glorified generic production music.

3. "Let My Love Open the Door" by Pete Townshend

I love The Who as much as any other rock and roll fan but this song is pussy music at it's worst. This is the song we usually get when the love of a child or a woman thaws the icy heart of a man. I think in the Rom-Com 1o Commandments it's required to use this song in your trailers.

4. "Party Up" by DMX

This song's gone make me lose my mind . . . up in this theater, up in this theater!

5. "Solsbury Hill" by Peter Gabriel

I'm so touched. I'm so moved. I'm so sick of this fucking song! Stop licensing it out! Give it a fucking rest!

6. "Yeah" by Usher

A favorite of the "hip hop dance" genre of films. My response? NO!

7. "Don't Bring Me Down" by ELO

I am a huge ELO fan. The overuse of their most famous song in trailers went against the premise of the song . . . it brought me down.

I am sure I am forgetting quite a few. Feel free to chime in with some others you all are tired of.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Planet of the Apes Blu-Ray set - HOLY SHIT!!!

Every once in a great while a studio finally does something right. By right, I mean exactly, dead-on, what you want. The royal fucking treatment. Today, 20th Century Fox announced the Blu-Ray box set for the Planet of the Apes films. These are some of the best films ever made. The Apes series is, without a doubt, one of the great epics of science fiction, on par with Star Wars. It's nice to see these films being treated with the respect they deserve. It will be released on 11/04. Just take a look at that picture! Here is what you get:

-A 5-disc set that includes all five vintage Apes films in full 1080p resolution with audio in English 5.1 DTS MA

-For the first time in the U.S., Conquest of the Planet of the Apes will be presented in its unrated version, with 8 minutes of additional footage.

-New Blu-ray extras will include a BonusView Science of the Apes viewing option, the Beyond the Forbidden Zone adventure game and 8 HD featurettes (A Public Service Announcement from ANSA, Evolution of the Apes, Impact of the Apes, From Alpha to Omega: Building a Sequel, The Secret Behind Escape, Riots and Revolutions: Confronting the Times and End of an Epic: The Final Battle).

-Each sequel film will include an isolated score track in 5.1 DTS MA. You'll also get an extensive, 200-page coffee table book with artwork and liner notes.

On top of that, you'll get all of the previously released DVD extras too including:

-Commentary by composer Jerry Goldsmith, commentary by actors Roddy McDowall, Natalie Trundy, Kim Hunter and makeup artist John Chambers.

-Text commentary by Eric Greene (author of Planet of the Apes as American Myth).

-The Behind the Planet of the Apes documentary (with all new interactivity and a timeline).

-Many additional SD featurettes and clips (including a Behind the Planet of the Apes promo (1988).

-Planet of the Apes makeup test with Edward G. Robinson (1966), Roddy McDowall on-set footage, Planet of the Apes dailies and outtakes (No Audio).

-The Planet of the Apes NATO presentation (1967).

-A Planet of the Apes vintage featurette (1968).

-A Look Behind the Planet of the Apes (1972).

-Don Taylor Directs Escape from the Planet of the Apes and J. Lee Thompson Directs Conquest of the Planet of the Apes).

-Original theatrical trailers, original sketches by costume designer Morton Haack, a photo gallery, a Planet of the Apes timeline, interactive pressbooks, vintage Apes newspaper galleries, advertising and lobby card galleries, and behind-the-scenes galleries.

The word "definitive" is tossed around a lot in terms of DVD and Blu-Ray sets these days. But, for the first time, I'd say that word is justified. This is a Planet of the Apes fan's wet dream. I know what I'll be doing during my days off at Thanksgiving!

*On a side note, I hope this is not the final artwork for the set. The reason I say that is because it looks like someone put a picture of Virgil played by Paul Williams in Battle for the Planet of the Apes on the silk-screen of the disc for Beneath the Planet of the Apes. I would assume the picture should be of Dr. Zaius. Hopefully they will get it fixed before final release.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Origins: That's Some Coooooool Shit!

I actually had a request yesterday for my blog. This is a first for Chris Johnson Discusses Stuff. My friend Shanks wanted to me to tell the origin of a catch-phrase that some of you may not be familiar with. The phrase in question is "That's some cooooooooool shit!" If you're wondering how exaclt it's said, ask me in person sometime and I'll be happy to demonstrate.

Well, it's kind of a simple story but it is a fine example of how a meme evolves in a small community. Back in college, Shanks and I used to rent a lot of movies. The main place we went was called Wherehouse Video and was on Glebe Road. That had one of the best selection of horror and genre movies you could find at the time. Remember folks, in the days before the internet it was difficult to track down specific movies that were not readily available at your local Blockbuster.

Well, one of the movies we watched a lot was Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. In the movie, a guy tells Bruce Lee "have you ever seen any of those chop-socky flicks?" makes a series of hand gestures and sound effects and says "that's some cool shit!" Well, shortly after hearing it for the first time both Shanks and I began quoting it. We would use it to desribe anything that we found cool. Eventually it grew into drawing out the word "cool" as long as possible. It started catching on with Polak, Dante, and Marsh. Sadly, neither Ralph or Abramos: King of the Hill People picked up on it. When I found Shanks online recently the first thing I emailed him was, of course, "that's some cooooooooool shit!"

If there is any part of the story I forgot, Shanks, please fill in the gaps. Next time I'll have to tell the origins of "Rooftop . . . Let's Go!" which is VERY funny.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Superstar Billy Graham is out of his mind!

In 2006 I went up to the Capitol Legends Wrestling event in Rockville, MD. I mainly went to meet Bret Hart but lots of other guys were there and I was really happy to meet them too. I was lucky enough to be able to talk to Sherri Martel before she died and I also got to shake hands with Ernie Ladd before he died not long ago. The only wrestler that no-showed the event was Superstar Billy Graham. The story was that he couldn't get on the plane with some medicine he needed. Remember, this was the time when the airlines were banning all liquids. Well, it looks like we all lucked out in him not coming. Flash forward to 2008. He was scheduled to be at the NWA Legends show down in Charlotte next month. The show is run by the same guy, Greg Price, who ran Capitol Legends. Apparently, SBG started demanding more and more money to come to the show. Today, Greg Price posted a crazy-ass email SBG sent him. Check this out -

In a message dated 7/28/2008 3:02:10 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, Superstarbg writes:

Subject: $ 475

This number should be, 666 and tattooed on your forehead, you mark whore for wrestling. I will have this email posted on every message board I can find and encourage you to do the same. You have hurt the ones that I love best and covered up the truth with lies, one day you will be in the ditch, flies buzzin around your eyes. I hope that you die and your death will come soon, as I would love to follow your casket on a pale afternoon, I will watch as you are lowered down to your death bed and stand over your grave to make sure that you are dead. I have been praying to the devil that HE will send demons to pluck out your eyes, cut your tongue in half and sever your ears, spit venom in your face and gut you with a butcher knife and watch as your intestines spill out. You fucking worthless wrestling mark whore. More coming.

Holy shit! What the fuck brought that on? It looks like SBG is becoming seriously psychotic. It is a known fact that steroids have fucked his body up in a big way. Maybe they've affected his brain too. This type of weird crap adds to the notion that steroids made Chris Benoit psychotic. SBG's real name is Wayne Coleman. Hey Wayne, if it wasn't for those "wrestling mark whores" no one would know who the fuck you are! Go get some psychological help and stop sending out emails that sound like they were written by a member of the Manson Family.

Shanks is now an Amazon Vine Voice

Thanks to the magic of the internets I have been able to reconnect with Andy Shanks, a buddy of mine from college. This man is a life-long video game player. In fact, he is so hardcore I remember him videotaping the end sequences of games back in the day. How he figured out how to record off of his Genesis is still a mystery to me today. In one classic tale which I will recount to you my friends and loyal readers, I disturbed him when he was at the end of a particular game and caused him to lose. He proceeded to come out of his room and knock the wind out of me! Needless to say, I never messed with him again when he was playing a game.

I bet some younger readers don't understand why Shanks would be so mad. You have to understand, before the original Playstation there were no memory cards! You'd have to somehow accumulate enough lives to burn through at the end to actually be able to finish a game. If some joker like yours truly came along and caused you to lose, you'd have to start all over. So don't judge Shanks to harshly on his anger.

Well, Shanks recently became a participant in the Vine Voice program on Amazon. They send him games for free so that he can play them and post reviews. Now that is some cool shit! Check out his page and read some of his reviews. The Matrix Fan.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Klee Irwin wants to increase the size of your shit!

Ok, so I am on a wacky infomercial kick here lately. For the past couple of years, there has been an infomercial running for a product called "Dual Action Cleanse." One of the oldest pseudo scientific health claims out there is that your colon is, quite literally, full of shit. The only problem is most of the shit never comes out. According to these health "experts", this extra shit is the cause of all of your physical woes and illnesses. If only you could get it all out you'd feel so much better. Well, guess what? You're in luck! The product being promoted will clean you right out! Needless to say, this claim has no grounding in reality. It is complete bullshit. But, since gullible folk keep falling for it, people keep selling products to serve this need.

The most recent and most entertaining is Klee Irwin. He is this creepy John Waters looking motherfucker that loves to talk about the length and girth of not only his stool but also that of his children. I shit you not! (That will be the last pun, I promise) Below you will see a clip in which Klee talks about the astonishment he experienced when his young daughter took a huge shit. He almost seems like his ego was bruised because it was bigger than his own! I must admit, as men we do tend to take a special pride in producing enormous turds.

What really adds to the surreal nature of the Klee Irwin infomercial are the two touch holes hosting this alleged talk show. They nod, smile, and laugh right along with Klee just like they were discussing a fucking Yankees game. I know that's what they were paid to do. But you know they had to be thinking "this dude is really fucked up." They really earn their pay by A) not laughing at Klee and B) not blurting out "are you shitting me???" (OK there's pun number 2) I just noticed the notation about the second pun also contained a pun, oh well. Anyways, enjoy these classic clips of Klee . . .

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Santo Gold - Blood Circus

I'm not sure how many of my loyal readers remember Santo Gold. It was an infomercial unlike any you had ever seen before or seen since. It aired in the early 90's and featured a guy who called himself Santo Gold. Well, he wasn't just named Santo Gold, he sold gold jewelry that was touted as being made using the "Santo Gold Process." He also relentlessly advertised a movie he claimed to be making called Blood Circus. In the movie, there was an actual wrestling title belt with Santo Gold on it. Blood Circus was billed as a wrestling/horror/comedy that featured an actual rock singer named . . . you guessed it . . . Santo Gold. It's really hard to put into words just how odd the Santo Gold infomercial was. Rumor has it that the movie actually got made and had a premiere in Baltimore, MD. Unfortunately, only a handful of people ever showed up and the movie never played again. No copies or prints of the movie are known to still exist and Santo Gold himself is said to be in jail at the moment. Many people, however, still remember this show fondly as some of the greatest late-night entertainment to ever grace the TV screen. Here are a couple of clips. In the song performance, take note of the two talking angels. I guess they were supposed to be part of the plot of the movie. If anyone has a copy of the entire infomercial they could send me I'd appreciate it more than you know.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Dark Knight

Where do I even begin a discussion of The Dark Knight? It is quite a daunting task really. When a movie is this good it's hard to collect your thoughts enough to get it onto paper. I think I know where to begin. Here goes nothing . . .

Anyone who really knows me is well aware that I am not a fan of the DC Universe. I am a Marvel guy to the core. The main reason I prefer Marvel over DC is because Marvel always seemes more realistic, more grounded in the real world. My dear friend Leeman accuraetly points out that DC is more pure escapism than Marvel. Not to mention, the DCU is filled with what I call "hoaky, old-timey characters." The one exception to the mass of lameness that is the DCU has always been Batman. I have always thought Batman and his particular corner of the DCU were pretty sweet. He is awesome for the very same reason I think Marvel is awesome. Bruce Wayne/Batman is a complex character. He is a realistic person internally that anyone that is interested in significant moral choices can relate to. Also, Batman is grounded in reality. He is a regular guy with no super powers. He fights crime with his wits, physical abilities, and vast wealth. His villains are, for the most part, psychotic criminals, not mad scientists gone awry. Batman is everything that the DCU is not.

Because of my affinity for Batman, I have always wanted to see a Batman movie done right. In 1989, Tim Burton's Batman was a radical departure from what had come before it in terms of comic book films. It was a step in the right direction but, alas, not quite there. It was the first of Tim Burton's many "gothic fairy-tales" that I can personally do without. I swear, if Johnny Depp hadn't been on 21 Jumpstreet at the time, Burton would have probably had him play Batman. Well, after Burton's original film it was all downhill. We all know how bad they eventually became.

Then Chris Nolan made Batman Begins. It had a ton of promise but was tied down by a lot of silly bullshit we have come to associate with comic book films. Too much CGI, an obligatory origin story, and a dumb-ass scheme on the part of the villain. Liam Neeson was a perfect Ra's al Ghul. But poisoning Gotham's water supply with some gas made by The Scarecrow? Give me a fucking break. The train sequence at the end was the typical CGI "big" ending for the comic book film bullshit. All of these problems are gone in The Dark Knight.

The Dark Knight is a real crime movie with Batman. It's not full of stupid gadgets with the word "bat" attached to them. It has a real plot about a city trying to enforce law and order in the face of a criminal psychopath who follows no logic and seeks only to bring everyone down to his level. There have been comparisons to Michael Mann's Heat and I think that is fair. This isn't just a good comic book movie, it is a good movie. If Batman has always been a kind of comic book film noir, this movie finally achieves that. The Dark Knight is not just one action sequence after another. It is filled with fantastic character moments and believable internal conflicts. The Joker keeps redrawing the line and Batman, Jim Gordon, and Harvey Dent all have to make choices about where they will stand in relation to it. Each man makes his own choices and has to face the consequences. The choices aren't easy and no one feels particularly good about what they have to do.

I know people are tired of this coming up but I believe it is relevant for this film. (Sorry Leeman) This may be the ultimate movie about the post 9/11 world. What choices do we make in the face of an enemy that has no sense of logic? Where do we draw our personal lines of right and wrong when our enemies have none? How do we keep our citizenry safe in a world of utter chaos? If we do redraw our lines of right and wrong, does the enemy win after all? These are the questions society is asking itself right now and they are the questions asked by The Dark Knight. The film poses these moral dillemmas without the heavy-handed obviousness of the modern Battlestar Galactica. It's there if you want to see it but it's not rubbed in your face. The difference is truly good writing versus faux good writing.

Batman kicks ass in this film and Heath Ledger is every bit as good as people say he is. He has contributed the definitive portrayal of The Joker. This is not some idiot phoning-in his standard schtick while dancing to shitty Prince tunes. If no one told you this was Heath Ledger, you'd have no idea who this was. He transforms himself into the character. The other real stand-out is Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent. He exudes a likeability and pathos more than anyone else in the film. I'll chime in with the notion that he'd make a great Captain America. Oh, and good riddence Katie Holmes! She can stick with fighting the evil forces of Xenu. Maggie Gyllenhaal is the perfect Rachel Dawes.

Believe it or not, the Tim Burton film came out 19 years ago. It has taken that long to finally see a fully realized Batman film. We owe Chris Nolan a huge debt of thanks for giving us the movie we never actually thought could exist.

The Dark Knight is the gold standard of comic books films. Future directors better step up their game after this.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Steven Seagal Night - July 12th at 8:00PM

Greeting programs! I wanted to add this information to my little corner of Cyberspace. Today my friend Jim Blanton announced the details of the July Fantasmo Steven Seagal Night. Boy are you in for a treat! The two movies being shown are Out for Justice and Belly of the Beast! Also, outlaw film critic Vern will be calling in and doing a Q&A session just for us! If you have not read his newly published book Seagalogy: A Study of the Ass-Kicking Films of Steven Seagal, order it now! I promise you that won't regret it. Also, the night will kick off with a live Aikido demonstration from Aikido of Virginia Beach! How cool is that?

Here is Jim's list of what you can expect to enjoy that night . . .

*A discussion of the principles of Seagal’s trademark aikido style and a live aikido demonstration by representatives from Aikido of Virginia Beach!

*Samples of both flavors (Asian Experience & Cherry Charge) of Seagal’s Lightning Bolt energy drink to lucky door prize winners!

*Live discussion of Seagal’s oeuvre with reclusive Seagalogy author/Ain’t It Cool News contributor Vern!

*Trailers from Seagal’s classic films!

*Team Fantasmo commentary!

*A superior attitude and superior state of mind!. . . and much, much more!

Here are your full Episode 38 details:

When: Saturday, July 12, 8:00 P.M.

Where: Chesapeake Central Library, 298 Cedar Road, Chesapeake, VA 23322

Films & Activities:

8:00 P.M. – Aikido Lecture/Demonstration & Out for Justice (Rated R)

10:00 P.M. – Author Discussion & Belly of the Beast (Rated R)

If you need any additional information leave a comment and I'll get you what you need. This will be the best Fantasmo ever so let's pack the place out for the master of wrist-breaking, Steven Seagal!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

By Your Command!

I wanted to post a picture of what a REAL Cylon looks like. For all you youngsters and hipsters out there, this is what Cylons look like. They DO NOT look like blonde supermodels. They are fucking robots that say things like "By your command."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Let me tell you something loyal readers. I am sick to death of the hordes of cynical movie geeks out there who seem to look for and find every possible reason to not like a movie. It seems they take special pride in shitting on things they used to love like Star Wars and Indiana Jones. I just got done reading a bunch of talkbackers rambling on and on about how David Koepp "ruined" Indy 4 and how superior Frank Darabount's script was to his rewrite. Geuss what assholes? George Fucking Lucas owns Indiana Jones, not Frank Darabount, not David Koepp, and definitely not you! OK, to hell with all this alternating itallics and bold. Seriously, the script that was shot was the one Lucas, Spielberg, and Ford all agreed to. So get the fuck over it. Not to mention, like outlaw critic Vern (ok so I put his name in bold, sue me) said, normal people just go see movies as they are presented. They haven't read every version of the script and go in looking for what isn't there. I bet if you did this to any beloved classic you would come out drinking the same amount of hatorade.

By the way, I enjoyed the hell out of Indy 4. Harrison Ford was really born to play Indy. Even moreso, I think, than Han Solo. The minute he comes on screen it is magic. The thing that really made this movie work for me was the Indy/Marion relationship. What fan's heart doesn't melt when Indy tells her "they weren't you baby" when she asks him why his other relationships never lasted. They have a chemistry together that rivals Golden Era Hollywood couples.

I also love how they included so many aspects of 50's movie culture in this one. You've got hot rods, Elvis music, greasers, college preppies, Russians, McCarthyism, the bomb, government secrets, and flying saucer aliens. It's really interesting to see Indy, who is so clearly identified with the WWII era, living in the Eisenhower era. Hell, he even says "I Like Ike." I was wondering if I would like Indy as much without Nazis and the 40's but this one had me hooked from the opening drag race.

The action and chase scenes are also a lot of fun. Like Vern said, it was great to see an action sequence cut together that you could actually follow. Spielberg actually lets the audience see what's going on so they can enjoy it. I hope when he retires he can teach at a film school so that kids will learn to stop the shaky camera/quick cut "action" scenes we have been getting in recent years. I thought the chase through the jungle was cool as hell and gave the audience a great rush without inducing any seizures.

So yes, the movie worked for me. And no, it was not because of "nostalgia." I am also sick to fucking death of people saying that anytime you like something that is older than five years or so it is all "nostalgia." Fuck you and the horse you rode in on. I know how I like my movies and it just so happens that this one was made in the style I like. Is it an older style? Yes. But, it's only older because sometime in the 90's people forgot how to make movies like this. Hell, even Spielberg forgot for a while. Thankfully he remembered this time.

So nitpick it all you want. Hate on it to your heart's content. In the end, it's not your movie and it's not your story. I like Indy and I think this was a great way to end the series. I actually think it is better than Last Crusade. Also, I remember hating on Temple of Doom for years but now I love it. Remember how much we all loved Raiders and Temple of Doom when we were kids? You know why it was more magical? We weren't adult dickheads reading scripts on the internet and spending our time looking for what was wrong with the movies. We maybe saw a trailer, most of the time only a poster, and went to see a movie. We enjoyed it for what it was and guess what? We had fun! Indy 4 is a lot of fun . . . and very well crafted. So please, just go have a good time.

Read Vern's review at

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I thought I was alone . . .

Anyone who really knows me knows that I despise Mystery Science Theater 3000. I don't just dislike it, I loathe it with ever fiber of my being. I have tried in vein to explain why I don't like it over the years to varying degrees of success. I hate that it belittles movies that are actually some of my favorite films. I hate the culture or "riffing" that was spawned from it's putrid existence. You see, to me this show is just like those lousy VH1 I Love the 80's specials. It makes fun of things simply because they look dated.

Well for years I had thought I was the lone hold-out in geek culture that didn't like this show. All that changed today. Headgeek himself, Harry Knowles feels just like me. He summed up all of my thoughts and feelings way better than I ever could.

Here is what he said about the DVD release of the MST3K Movie:

I have a noted history of not liking and actually hating this show. You have to understand – I like the robots, I like their banter… it’s the concept of belittling movies and declaring certain films as being TERRIBLE STINKERS – that I can’t stand. And never was the case more infuriating to me, than with the theatrical version of MST3KTM…. The film is THIS ISLAND EARTH… literally one of the very best 50’s Science Fiction films… With fantastic aliens from the same planet as Dennis Muren… and Apple technology… and Metaluna Mutants… and art deco Saucers… tractor beams, triangular two way televisions with built in lasers! And I just love the film. I grew up with it. Since this film came out… I’ve attempted to see THIS ISLAND EARTH twice in theaters and both times there were jackasses screaming out quotes from this version of the film and laughing hysterically. FUCK THAT! Now – the humor is funny – but my problem with this and the series is that while I love that tons of awesome genre films that could have been forgotten were discovered via the show… BUT – now they got introduced to those films as “trash cinema” and not the films that they were – prior to self-aware ironic glib humor. I really wish that the guys behind the MST3K phenom – had made their own films – their humor was solid enough to not just be a video commentary added to another’s film.

Harry really hits the nail on the head. Thank you Harry. Here is the link to the original article.

Monday, May 5, 2008

AVP: Alien vs. Predator

Over the weekend I bought the unrated, two-disc set of Alien vs. Predator. This is one of those movies that film geeks seem to think is obligatory to hate. For the life of me I cannot figure out why so many people shit on this movie. Seriously. I really, really enjoy this movie. If you're expecting some pseudo-intellectual explanation as to why I like it, you are going to be very disappointed. I like Aliens and I like Predators. I especially like seeing them do things we have never seen them do before because of the limits of the technology in the earlier movies. The Alien queen just rocks in AVP! We get to see her move in ways that couldn't be shown in 1986. Another cool part to seeing the queen fight in this one is fucking Newt was not involved. I have always hated little kids in science fiction movies! I love the scene of the past when the natives worshiped the Predators as gods. That shot of thousands to Aliens running up the pyramid after the three Predators was cool as shit. I thought the idea of having the young Predator come to respect the female lead and team up with her was cool too. It shows the honor and nobility of the Predator species. There aren't that many changes to this extended cut of the movie. I just wanted to be one, small voice out there that stands up for this movie and its director. I think it has some really cool concepts, really cool fight scenes, and you actually come to care about the main Predator.

I also think Paul W.S. Anderson is a much better director than people give him credit. This movie looks really neat. I watched the pre-production documentary and was very impressed with him. He has been into the concept since the first AVP comics Dark Horse published. He storyboarded almost his entire script when he pitched his idea for the movie and the images were very impressive. The cool part is most of them actually ended up on the screen. This guy is a fan and a true genre filmmaker. That is a rare thing these days. Most guys who make genre pictures long to make "serious drama" or have to undercut high concept stuff with the "we don't take this seriously" mentality. Anderson gave us a movie about Aliens and Predators that used tons of the mythology from both and is really a geek's dream come true. But it seems the gods decreed from on high that we are supposed to hate this movie. Well I don't. So forget all that crap you have heard online and watch this movie with some fresh eyes. It kicks ass.