Maleficent

tn_maleficent(lots of spoilers throughout this one, if you care)

I don’t want to bust your fuckin bubble man but some of the shit in the Disney movies is kinda dramatized and what not. For example the movie POCAHONTAS and probly also POCAHONTAS II in my opinion is more a cartoon fantasy musical based on the legend of John Smith being rescued by Pocahontas than a legitimate historical document. Well, now the Walt Disney Studios live action division has courageously blown the lid off the old animation studio, accusing them of fudging some of the facts in their classic SLEEPING BEAUTY. Touché. Hats off to Disney for exposing all this before WikiLeaks or somebody did.

If you are not familiar with SLEEPING BEAUTY it is an ironic title in my opinion because it’s the best looking Disney cartoon but also… let’s say, not the least boring one. It’s about a princess cursed by a wicked sorceress so that when she turns 16 she’ll die except a fairy godmother changes it so she’ll only fall asleep. That’s better than dying, but the catch is she can’t ever wake up, except there’s this loophole that a kiss of true love can do it. But how the fuck would that happen oh wait there’s a handsome prince willing to kiss a sleeping gal, so it works out.

If that whole story seemed kinda suspicious to you then you’re gonna see MALEFICENT and you’re gonna be like “I knew it. I fuckin knew it!” This is the story of how that sorceress Maleficent was not really the wicked old bitch who goes around cackling and talking about how evil she is, she’s just a strong woman who got a bum rap from a patriarchal society. After seeing this, SLEEPING BEAUTY will seem like racist anti-fairy propaganda. (read the rest of this shit…)

Batdance – celebrating 25 years of bustin

tn_batdanceToday is June 9th, 2014 and I’m sure you know what that means: it’s the 25th anniversary of Prince’s “Batdance.” I don’t want to take away from your time celebrating with your families, and I’m sure the president will be making a speech and I don’t want to overlap too much with whatever he says, but I’d like to add a few thoughts real quick.

It’s the single that was released on this day in 1989, but I’m a movie reviewer, not an architecture dancer, so we’re gonna talk about the crazy ass music video. Do you remember it? A fuzzy TV signal flashes on a bat-symbol shaped screen. Now, you gotta understand, this was a time of feverish Batmania. America was enraptured by the upcoming Batman movie, which was advertised mainly with that symbol and no text other than “June 23.” Batman products of both official and illicit varieties were huge sellers. They would put a bat symbol on anything (and sometimes eyes on a bat symbol, if it was a bootleg t-shirt.) I remember they not only had Converse with bat symbols on them, they also had a phone that was shaped like Converse with bat symbols on them. So it is no surprise that Prince would own a TV screen shaped like a bat symbol. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a library of movies specifically composed for that aspect ratio. (read the rest of this shit…)

Edge of Tomorrow

tn_edgeoftomorrowGROUNDHOG DAY is an American classic in my opinion. It has this crazy Twilight Zone type of premise (what if you had to live the same day over and over again indefinitely?) that seems too out there for a 1993 studio comedy, and yet there it is. It’s funny and clever and last time I watched it I realized it was also beautiful and profound. It’s a complete original, so it’s weird to think that after two sci-fi spins on the premise, SOURCE CODE and EDGE OF TOMORROW, we could be headed toward a world where young people see it and don’t think there’s anything unique about it. I’ve seen this before, but with action scenes. I’m bored.

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In the Blood

tn_inthebloodI heard so much trash talked about Gina Carano vehicle #2, IN THE BLOOD, that I was scared off from watching it on VOD. And it’s true that there’s plenty wrong with it, especially as a followup to Steve Soderbergh’s HAYWIRE.

#1 problem for alot of people: director John Stockwell (UNDER COVER, BLUE CRUSH) isn’t as meticulous about massaging a performance out of veteran fighter, recent actor Carano as Soderbergh was, so there are some pretty stiff line readings. In one scene she even says she’s from “Cuh-NECK-ticut,” not a regionally accurate pronunciation in my opinion. But as a fan of Dennis Rodman, Brian Bosworth, early Van Damme, Daniel Bernhardt, Gary Daniels, Olivier Gruner, early Dolph, etc. this is not a problem to me at all, and seems like kind of a complaint for action movie lightweights.

The main complaint for people of our ilk, that will go unnoticed by normal people, is that the fights are short and over-edited. The hits feel hard, the camera’s not that shaky and most of the framing is okay, but it’s another one hit = one cut movie. Why directors don’t think it’s worth the effort to stage a bunch of moves – or shit, at least two moves – in a row is beyond me, especially since Stockwell is on the public record as having seen and enjoyed HAYWIRE. He seems to take some influence in how to portray Carano as a scary asskicker (even re-using the gag where she calls her betrayer on the guy she just killed’s phone), but little in the clean-as-a-whistle action filmatism that is HAYWIRE’s bread and butter. (read the rest of this shit…)

Vern Tell’s It Like It Is: The Confession

tn_ineedtimevtiliiHello friends, I need to talk to you about something. Probly not a big deal to most of you, but it is to me. A major, scary step in my life’s journey or whatever. What does it take to change the essence of a man time I need time time I do too I do too.

The occasion for this thorough soul and/or bellybutton search: after a decade and a half of secrecy I’ve decided to show my face in public, at least one time, at this Cinefamily Steven Seagal marathon I’m co-hosting with Jeremy Smith on June 14th. A one night event so promising I am risking my very Vern-ness to take part. Tickets still available.

As you know, I’m kind of a recluse, and have remained mysterious and anonymous and shit since starting my sight in 1999. This hasn’t helped me career-wise. I’ve turned down many fun opportunities: podcasts, signings, being a talking head on an A&E Biography of Steven Seagal, being seriously injured in the ring by “Demon” Dave DeFalco. And I’ve had trouble filling out forms that require last names. (read the rest of this shit…)

Star Wars Episode 6: Return of the Jedi (No Baggage Review)

tn_rotjnobaggageMan, I don’t want them to make a chump out of me and do STAR WARS: A NEW BEGINNING or GEORGE LUCAS’S NEW STAR WARS, but let me just say that this part 6 really seems like the end to the whole saga. SPOILERS: Anakin is unmasked and apologetic, he finally gets the sense to throw fuckin Ted Palpatine into a bottomless pit, he dies, Yoda dies, Luke becomes a Jedi, the Empire is defeated, the people celebrate on multiple planets, they knock over a statue, they even blow up the Death Star again just to be sure. Or to pump up the crowd.

I feel like they’ve wrapped up pretty much all of the loose threads, other than the thing in part 5 where Yoda says “No. There is another hope.” I thought he meant Leia, but then it never became relevant. So either there could be some other potential Jedi out there for a part 7 or it would just be about Leia carrying Luke around in a backpack and doing flips. Either way it would be a terrible idea. Don’t do it, Mr. Lucas! (read the rest of this shit…)

SIFF review: Unforgiven (2013 Japanese remake)

tn_unforgiven13There has long been a beautiful cultural exchange between America and Japan. They captivated us with their ninjas and their karate, we let them use our rockabilly. We loaned them Steven Seagal, they sent him back polished into an aikido master. A few samurai movies have been famously remade as westerns, but it’s about time it went in the other direction. Director Sang-il Lee (HULA GIRLS, VILLAIN) has taken a little 1992 movie by the name of Clint Motherfuckin Eastwood’s Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best Film Editing Oscar winner UNFORGIVEN and faithfully remade it as a samurai picture.

I think this is the type of remake that’s a sign of respect, not exploitation of an existing title. It’s saying “we all know this great movie UNFORGIVEN, I mean what kind of assholes do you take us for, but here is another take on it for you to enjoy a bit before returning to the original.” Even in that case the impossible part about remaking a Clint Eastwood movie has got to be finding a guy to replace Clint Eastwood. I gotta say, Ken Watanabe was a brilliant choice. He has a stoicism and masculine presence that’s reminiscent of Clint, he kinda looks like him on the poster, and he even knows the guy well as the lead in Eastwood’s underrecognized-even-while-nominated-for-best-picture directorial work LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA. But his character Jubei is not just an imitation of Clint’s William Munny. He’s a little less gruff, and even more internal. He talks a little less I think, even skipping a perfect spot to fit in the famous line “Deserve’s got nothin to do with it.” I guess he figures it goes without saying. (read the rest of this shit…)

X-Men: Days of Future Past

tn_xmen5Oh shit, so this is the magic rebootification formula now: the J.J. Abrams STAR TREK recipe. One or more original cast members cross paths with younger actors playing the same characters thanks to time travel. That way they can use the veteran cast of X-MEN 1-3 but also the whippersnappers of FIRST CLASS. I’m sure they’re already doing the math for how to apply this to Harry Potter, James Bond, DIE HARD, AMERICAN PIE, you name it. You fucking know Danny Glover will go back in time to recruit a young Riggs not played by Mel Gibson.

X-MEN PART 5 OR SO: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST takes place in a literally dark post-apocalyptic future where the surviving mutants and humans hide in the ruins, hunted by giant morphing robots called Sentinels. Sounds kinda like a TERMINATOR movie, but it’s actually the reverse. Instead of machines sending a robot back in time to kill the guy that’s gonna lead the human resistance, the mutants send a Wolverine back in time to not kill the guy whose death is not gonna stop the creation of the Sentinels.
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Internet v. Goyer

tn_she-hulkShe-Hulkgate, Day 3. As founder and president of the Motherfuckers Act Like They Forgot About BLADE Society, I feel compelled to weigh in on this mounting controversy.

A few days ago David S. Goyer, writer of the upcoming movie BATMAN V. SUPERMAN AND THE CASE OF THE DAWN OF JUSTICE, was one of several guests on a live panel of the Scriptnotes screenwriting podcast. Alan Kistler, a writer on “Girl Geek Culture” websight The Mary Sue, wrote a post objecting to comments Goyer made about the comic book characters She-Hulk and Martian Manhunter. The complaints were picked up by other websights (I first saw it on Badass Digest), the torches and pitchforks came out on Twitter and in long comment threads, and it snowballed so much it ended up covered by secular news outlets such as The Hollywood Reporter and Slate. The Washington Post actually got Stan Lee to respond. For fuck’s sake, Time Magazine (the web version at least) had a not-joking “The She-Hulk Scandal Explained” item, like they probly had to explain the Clarence Thomas hearings back in the day.

What did Goyer say that was so offensive? That the character was created to be a sex fantasy for male comic book fans.

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Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back (No Baggage Review)

tn_empirenobaggageSTAR WARS PART 5… okay, admittedly you’re stretching it by the time you get to a part 5 that doesn’t have a “FAST” in the title. Even a prestigious series like DEATH WISH is gonna be a little goofy in part 5, it’s gonna have a part with a remote controlled exploding soccer ball. FRIDAY THE 13TH had to be “A New Beginning” because they claimed they were gonna stop at 4. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET had to get a baby involved, but STAR WARS sorta already did that in part 4. It had Luke “A New Hope” Skywalker using The Force and the lessons of Ben O.W. Kenobi to blow up the Death Star and defeat Darth Vader and the Empire, a great ending.

But oh, great, now the fucking Empire strikes back. How convenient. (read the rest of this shit…)