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The Interview Reviewed – Was it Worth the Controversy?

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The release of The Interview has been a massive point of controversy in the USA and quite possibly the world. We all knew it would see the light of day eventually, but I didn’t expect it’d be at a theatre six miles down the road, nor on Google Play so quickly. In short, my wife and I just finished watching it and I have to say, I can understand why there was controversy, but believe the level got out of hand. To those stating the hubbub over the film was all marketing – I don’t believe that. It’d only tarnish Sony’s image and also be illegal, as it’d be lying to investors in regards to very big money, but I digress.

Many cigars died in the making of this film.
Many cigars died in the making of this film.

The Interview as a film is standard Rogen and Franco. It’s not going to gain or lose many long-term fans. Personally, I’d say This Is the End is their best work, but this one had me laughing quite persistently, despite odd pacing. Party montages lasted all of seven seconds while James Franco spent way to long bonding with the beloved dictator. A certain level of discombobulation was likely on purpose, as the films dons spectacular effects, yet opened with a dated Columbia Pictures intro and some deaths clearly involved the use of dummies. Other bits of continuity issues come into play, but ones so predictable they had to have been on purpose and for fun.

In the strongest departure from Rogen’s past films, drug content and silliness was replaced with more serious drama, though retaining the staple nonsensical dialogue style he’s known for. Regretfully, there is no Jonah Hill cameo, but we can’t win all of them. However, some of the cameos in the first twenty minutes will likely bring many to tears of laughter.

Why is the tank Russian?
Why is the tank Russian?

To be direct, the movie is one worth owning and likely rewatching a couple times. Despite being so much about a modern concern/trend (in line with Kim Jong Un memes and parodies), The Interview looks like it’d be able to stand on its own two feet for ages to come. No matter the level of controversy and difficulty finding release, I believe blu ray prints will emerge in the future and make this a staple to own across the country.

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Resident Evil: Revelations 2 Gets a Trailer

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The original Resident Evil: Revelations was a strong concept that got a solid launch on the 3DS.  Unfortunately, there were system limitations that prevented it from being all it could be (though wonderful remasters made it to home consoles).

Now, following the success of that title, a second has been announced with the focus being home consoles off the bat, better realizing the play styles and graphical prowess the original was worthy of.

Why Sin City 2 Fails to Hit the Mark

Sin City A Dame To Kill for Wallpaper

Exactly one day after the release of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, I went to a 9:30 PM 3D showing, expecting parking to be brutal. It wasn’t. In fact, there were but fifteen people in the theatre, and I live in a heavily populated are about an hour south of San Francisco. I nestled down in my seat and got a strong intro involving Mickey Rourke doing some ass-kicking, which was exactly what I wanted. Then, when the credits hit, it switched to a semi-cliché story, featuring David Gordon-Levitt as a young man who always won every game he played, which gets him in over his head. X-Files anyone? Still, it remained one of my favorite tales within the film. Right when something bad happens and a time lapse is needed, there’s an appropriate shift to another character.

Throughout the film, we get to see plenty of Nancy, Dwight and the gang, but be aware there are casting changes galore. Dwight is now played by Josh Brolin, which is fine, because it’s him before an identity change. Then there’s Manute, who is played by Dennis Haysbert in place of the late Michael Clarke Duncan, and Jamie Chung in place of Devon Aoki. Worst of all, we got Jeremy Piven to try an fill Michael Madsen’s shoes as Bob. Shellie, previously played by Brittany Murphy, appeared written out altogether, perhaps because it would’ve been too much to replace yet another character.

By far, the weakest story was the one given the most time: A Dame to Kill For. Eva Green did a swell job as Ava, but the seductress story offered little more than an excuse to cycle through more comic characters as her lovers. It was both rushed and uninteresting. She’s supposed to come off as a god, but is clearly reptilian with her green eyes, and not all that seductive or enticing with her nonstop nude scenes. There was simply no enchantment for her to give the audience, though I’d blame that on production decisions rather than any weak points in her acting ability.

Now for some key takeaways on what most influenced my enjoyment of the movie.

Star-studded cast: This was too much. With even more celebrities than the first, many didn’t get enough screentime. There was no chance to get invested in many characters. Couple that with the fact it’s 25 minutes shorter than the theatrical version of the first film (45 minutes shorter than the director’s cut), and the whole thing is too rushed. 20 minutes longer with the focus shifted to Bruce Willis and I would’ve been happier.

Sex in place of creative violence: Sin City 2 manages little more than some icky eye-gouging and non-creative kills. All the violence is largely redundant in style. There’s little gross-out and it’s all been replaced by Eva Green’s chest, which isn’t actually all that interesting. That and the shadow placement to block out her lower bits, as well as James Brolin’s, seemed entirely forced.

Visual Style: The same, but with even more driving scenes. Makes me want a Twisted Metal movie in the same style.

What the film manages to do is remind us what we liked about the original, especially since Dwight’s story is more of a prequel and Nancy’s is more of an ill-paced sequel. After this flop, I doubt we’ll see a third film in the franchise.

My verdict? 6/10

The PS4 and Xbox One: True Horror Machines

 

If you’re like me, some of your strongest gaming memories came in the era of the Playstation 2. Part of it was because I never owned a PS1, which was a pretty exciting system in its own right, but I never had the distinct need to own one when it was the freshest system on the market. Truthfully, I came into the scene a bit late, having only an NES, Gameboy and PC to my name, playing only SNES, N64 and PlayStation when with friends. The experience was enough for me to know the limitations of the PS1, how game design had to happen around graphics most of the time. However, that didn’t keep us from having heaps of fun with it, because creators got creative and it pulled off tasks we’d never seen handled before. Twisted Metal on the PS1 had levels that modified themselves based on tasks, such as blowing up the Eiffel tower. It was amazing for the time and a great platform for RPG’s, plus a select few horror titles.

Then we entered the era of the PS2 and (Xbox). Games were on DVD’s (sometimes CD-ROMS), but rarely pushed the size limits of the discs or hardware limitations of the system. Many PS1 titles were a few gigs when the discs could realistically hold up to nine. Most titles weren’t canned anymore and we were introduced to highly interactive environments. In the original Red Faction, not only could we blow stuff up, but we could blast through most areas of ground and wall, truly unleashing imaginative options. With the system as a whole, we saw new atmospherics and there was a strong balance between flexible, explorative gameplay and graphics. Very rarely did graphics override gameplay, even on titles that pushed graphic limitations, such as God of War 1 &2. There were also survival horror treats in the Resident Evil series, plus 3 additions to the Silent Hill series, each with vast graphical improvements upon the last.

When the PlayStation 3 came out, we were treated with highly updated graphics and a few small innovations, the best of which was the Move controller. The joy was in seeing Wii games ported over and tackling detailed environments in Infamous. The issue was the PS3 was exceptionally difficult to program for and was a one-trick pony. Once high graphics were established, interactivity took a hit, as few toned them down to add extra destruction. Really, it was an ideal RPG and survival horror machine – a chance to do what the original Resident Evil did in a similar framework – considering the static environments, but developers weren’t highly focused on that. Most horror titles fell deep into an action focus on account of how much commotion the system could handle and, while I enjoyed several games (Dead Space, Resident Evil, FEAR), too many were similar and the system only truly shone with its extra capabilities: divx support, 3D blu-ray play, the introduction of a trophy system, ports of older titles, etc. 

Now, in the age of the PS4 (and Xbox One), we’re seeing a strong focus on games that burn memories into our skulls. With the PS3, leaning toward a cinematic feel seemed to just mean more cut scenes, but now we’re hitting a realm where we can essentially play cutscenes with few visual interruptions and without being limited to quick-time sequences. For instance, Del Toro and Kojima’s PT, based off the engine for the new Silent Hill. We’re so close to photorealism.

 

Then, of course, there’s Until Dawn

 

Other games, such as The Evil Within and Dying Light, focus more on the interactivity elements most common to games, the former in a bit more minimalistic of an environment, but appear to do it by conscious choice more than anything.

 

 

In short, we’re in an age where heaps of new horror material is coming out, showing us styles never before available.

Divergent’s Shailene Woodley Angers Feminists

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Let’s start with the quote:

 

Loves men

Loves men

“No because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance.”

Now for my input.

People are up in arms…because she misunderstood the definition of feminism?  The point gathered from this is the reputation feminism has: as anti-man.  Now, I know plenty of men and women who both like and dislike feminism, yet none of them have argued genders shouldn’t be equal.

Personally, I think feminism is a misnomer.  The structure of the word itself rings of focus on raising women up to the stature of men.  Point taken, since women have often been called the weaker sex and they had to work at getting the right to vote, etc.  However, the word and culture seems to create an issue, which is that it turns gender equality into an equation rather than addressing a spectrum of issues.  There are some issues men need help with, such as the level of homelessness and a lack of shelter/emotional support because of being seen as the “privileged sex.”  Women need help with plenty of issues related to wages, prostitution, and the like.

In short, don’t hate on Woodley for her statement.  She’s simply pointed out the fact feminism needs a facelift.  How about we retire the word altogether and call it gender equality or “equalism” so we don’t need to hear the same old arguments about what feminism is and isn’t.  There are different waves to the movement, and plenty of women disown 3rd-wave feminism, which is criticized for lacking a clear political goal or structure, claiming being a “slut” is empowering, and putting down traditionally feminine interests (wearing makeup, dresses, etc).

Feel free to start the war below.  I’ll be reading comments, but not replying, because I know the shit this will stir up.

10 Video Games that Should Already Have Film Adaptations

10.) Twisted Metal

With the strong characters this series has, as well as it being Sony’s oldest series, it screams for a film adaptation. It’s been optioned for well over a decade and the last guy attached was Ghost Rider director Mark Steven Johnson. He could pull off the visuals, but I don’t see him doing a justice to Sweet Tooth’s character in terms of…well, character. We’ll see what happens, because rumor is the movie may randomly surface for Halloween 2014.

 

9.) Shadows of the Damned

Lately, Grasshopper Manufacture has been acting quite cinematic with its games.  I don’t mean they’re loaded with cutscenes, but take on a strong amount of dialogue and varied atmospheres. This one would be fun, starting with the happy hotel sequence and ultimately ramping up the CGI in a virtual descent into Hell. Also, I’d love to see the horribly perverted gun, Johnson, get a chance to talk on the big screen. Practical effects for him, please.

 

8.) Ratchet and Clank

The first entry the series had on the PS3 was lauded as being a playable Pixar game. Anyone familiar with the series knows the heroes have so many adventures logged, five films could easily be made. It screams for a 3D movie. Apparently, we’ll be getting just that in 2015. Thank you, Sony Pictures!

 

7.) The Darkness

Okay, so this was a comic first, but the games have really brought the film potential to the forefront. Darkness (the evil entity), the darklings and Jackie all have a strong battle going between them, keeping the theme strong. Sadly, the mob elements fall to the backdrop at times. However, if all those factors get properly balanced, the product would be a grand fit into the comic-oriented landscape of film today.

 

6.) Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy

We’re going back a solid decade with this one. In the game, soldiers accrue psychic powers, namely telekinesis. The plot involves a rogue soldier with amnesia regaining his abilities to topple a terrorist organization. Betrayal, and sci-fi action…make it.

Reportedly, one William L. Crawford filed an unsuccessful suite against Midway four years after the game was released, claiming they stole the content from his screenplay. The game was a quality product, but didn’t get a sequel as a result of Midway’s bankruptcy.

 

5.) Darksiders

Despite the current slew of apocalyptic films on the market and the popularity of the themes in games, these create a unique dynamic that echoes of Lord of the Rings. Yes, it has to do with proving the innocence of the main character, War, in triggering the apocalypse, but it’s all about the journey and strong characters met along the way. It could make a strong epic in the right hands.

 

4.) Resistance

While this game is about superpowered soldiers, which I seem to have a penchant for wanting made into movies (anyone else thinking of Captain America?), this game was made by Insomniac, who also developed Ratchet and Clank. The fun twist is the alternate fifties history, mixed in with monsters. Want proof it has cinematic qualities? Watch the trailers.

 

3.) Devil May Cry

Any game worthy of getting a remake is also worthy of a film adaptation, excluding Duke Nukem. There was a solid Devil May Cry: The Animated Series, which ran for only 12 episodes. The potential to make a strong action movie is there. Granted, it takes more than a cool character to make a movie, so I’d suggest combining elements of the first three games into a single film. It’s been optioned, but is not moving and we’re looking at 2016 at the earliest.

 

2.) Sorcery

Based on Irish mythology, a young boy has to learn magic to defend his home and town. There’s a Nightmare queen, a talking fox thing, monsters made of boulders, and a faerie world. It may not be Harry Potter, nor the best game, but I can see it becoming a strong family film.

 

1.) Red Faction

Let’s forget Sci-Fi’s Red Faction: Origins and focus on what can be done in terms of film potential. We have the everyman sucked into a revolution with little input on his part. It starts and he fights to survive, becoming a reluctant hero. Die Hard anyone? Remove some of the run-and-gun crap and focus on the everyman theme. Real drama can be found here. That and the game was heavily inspired by Total Recall, indicating a high level of filmic sensibility.

 

Ten Worst Movie Accents

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Top ten worst movie accents

Hocus Pocus – Jason Marsden

 

 

Binx is a fun character and the movie is amazing, but Binx’s accent seems to cross between a European and an American one. It shifts a bit, but worse is out there…as you’ll see.

The Untouchables – Sean Connery

 

 

Sean Connery is great fun and this is a great flick, but the issue is Connery trying to hide is accent. Keeping it would’ve served him better.

Troy – Everyone Involved

 

 

Brad Pitt is American or British or just…he’s making it up. Orlando Bloon, Sean Bean, and Peter O’Toole are British. Diane Kruger is German and Eric Bana is Australian. Let that sink in.

Alexander – Angelina Jolie

 

 

More historical ones! What was maybe meant to be Greek…or possibly Egyptian…sounded like Milla Jovovich making funny noises.

Tower Heist – Gabourey Sidibe

 

 

I don’t know why the hell they decided to try and give her a Jamaican accent. Despite her skin tone, she just doesn’t strike me as Jamaican in the least. Seriously, she was born in New York.

Out for Justice – Steven Seagal

 

 

The fun part is the illusion Seagal may be from Jersey, but that’s shattered when he drops his fake accent about twenty times.

Con Air – Nicholas Cage

 

 

This was a fun movie, but the Southern thing didn’t stick 100%. My fiancé pegged it as New Orleans, so, despite the cheese, it managed.

Mary Poppins – Dick Van Dyke

 

 

Upon dropping his less politically correct real name, Penis Van Lesbian, he picked up a horrendous cockney accent for Mary Poppins. I don’t know if it’s Irish, gibberish, or a three-year-old with learning difficulties trying to learn how to talk in general. Sorry. I’m too mean to poor Penis!

On Deadly Ground – Michael Caine

 

 

He’s supposed to be Texan, but quickly gives up and decides just to take his paycheck and call it a day. After all, it’s a Seagal movie.

Fargo – Everyone Involved

 

 

If this movie hadn’t been made by two guys from Minnesota, essentially as a parody of Midwestern culture, it’d be considered pretty culturally insensitive. Every voice is so hammed up; it’s amazing how many people don’t realize it’s a joke/extreme exaggeration. Before anyone tries to school me on what people in Fargo actually talk like, I was born there and lived in the area 24 years. The movie is a parody.

Any additions?

The Tragic Case of Law Enforcement in the USA

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Since my time with MoviePilot, I’ve been doing less and less of these opinion/analysis posts, in part because they don’t get a lot of views, but it feels impure to neglect them.  Now, I’m used to watching the news and hearing about the atrocities mankind commits against one another on a daily basis.  However, I’ve grown more and more upset with the way law enforcement in the USA is carried out.  If you look back at my first month of posts, you’ll get a chance to read up on my own little incident in which the police mishandled a case I was involved in.  I let it slide, but then, this last week, I got some good reminders on how much law enforcement needs improvement.  Granted, mistakes will happen and many cops across the nation do what they can to protect and serve, but for some it seems to just be a job they don’t give a shit about.

brutality by Wayne Tilcock slash Enterprise photo

Personal instances aside, so many injustices are happening all too often in the USA.  Many news stories focus on the West Coast, but it seems the general consensus across the nation is a sense of panic washes over anyone who so much as crosses an officer’s path on the road, not comfort and reassurance.  Albuquerque (and much of New Mexico) has been a mess this last year with illegal strip and cavity searches of people pulled over for driving violations.  Then there was the case of them shooting at a family in a van when the mother might have been evading a traffic ticket…or fleeing because she was afraid of the aggressive officers.  Since 2010, police in that city have done 37 shootings, 23 of them fatal.  It is fucking awful when so many of a city’s gun deaths are police action.  That includes the shooting of an unarmed homeless man who was camping.  Just watch this.

 

Personally, just watching a few episodes of COPS is enough to appall me.  How many times do police on that show tackle or get rough with someone who is only verbally resisting?  That aside, they tend to yell at anyone who is confused or explaining themselves.  In most cases, they just do seem prepared or in a state of mind to preserve the peace.  It’s like they want to make an arrest before they even get out of the car.  Also, the Attorney General neglects to collect or publish data on the number of deaths/injuries by police officers, despite orders by congress to do so to investigate excessive force.  The FBI doesn’t collect the data either.  Conservative estimates say 400 deaths per year, others say over 600.

Let’s look at a more recent case.  Josh Winkler, a production assistant on Tosh.0, was trying to help his neighbors in a knife assault.  He managed to get one victim out of the apartment, and was running out with the person he’d rescued to the police.  Both were shot by three deputies and Winkler died.  The actual assailant was arrested inside the apartment, where he was with another victim, who was being tortured.  Please, read the reports, as I’m summarizing.  The point is, no matter what their perspective, the police shot two unarmed people, killing one.  The assailant, McDonald, got one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of torture against him.  That’s right…the police fatality was counted against the assailant and the officers got off with one week of suspension.

Okay, so let’s back up.  An assailant is inside with a knife.  Three officers have guns.  The odds were bullets were going to fly unless the assailant dropped the knife and surrendered right away, and in an apartment complex.  Adding guns to a situation leads to escalation in some form, and the first priority should be to subdue an assailant.  They entered a situation and had the most unfavorable of outcomes, yet nothing is happening to the officers who botched the situation.  At most, give them a manslaughter charge.  The least they deserve is a thorough, extended investigation.  I won’t be offended if anyone disagrees.

Another case I know of involve someone getting hit by a drunk driver, the police report saying the vehicle one hit vehicle one…itself, and vehicle 2 (the one with the drunk driver) being totaled.  As a result, the victim was ordered to pay for the drunk’s car.  He called the police station, explained the situation and they neglected to fix it.  The victim had to pay for the other’s car to avoid legal trouble for not following what he was required to do, despite the absurd premise.

In short, I believe law enforcement in the US is in shambles and I’d like to see better management, preparedness and removal of guns as our first line of defense.  Tazers, rubber bullets and tranquilizers should be focused on as possibilities.  The only issue I see with tranquilizers is the inability to reload quickly (and some dosage issues).  If we can get our scientists on inventing a rapid-fire tranquilizer, hostage situations would be more likely to end with a couple people in the hospital rather than a few in a morgue.

Am I off?

 

 

 

 

 

Toxic Avenger Remake (And Part V) to Come This December

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Troma’s 1984 classic Toxic Avenger is getting a remake, and the people attached are surprising. Reportedly, Arnold Schwarzenegger was to hold the lead role as Toxie, but he dropped upon seeing the original. Original director, Lloyd Kaufman, gives the reboot AND musical his full blessing. Steve Pink, director of Hot Tub Time Machine (and the sequel to hopefully come this December), plans to make it a hard PG-13, to the chagrin of fans, but Kaufman insists the remake is bound to be just as good as the original, perhaps better.

Kaufman said:

“Regarding the remake? This is Akiva Goldsman, who got an Oscar for writing A Beautiful Mind and he is a brilliant director. He’s got a movie out now called Winter’s Tale. He and Richard Saperstein, they have hired Steve Pink, who made Hot Tub Time Machine and High Fidelity, and other movies…He is very good, he loves Troma, he has read my book, he came to my book signing… Steve Pink has written a script, and he is directing, and they did sign Arnold Schwarzenegger! But then Arnold Schwarzenegger must have seen the original, and he unsigned. That’s all I know about that.”

It murders, maims, screws AND sings!
It murders, maims, screws AND sings!

68-year-old-Kaufman also hasn’t slowed down, working on a 5th Toxic Avenger title while the remake is being made.

“First of all, we have been writing Toxic Twins: The Toxic Avenger V for two years now, and we still don’t have a script that doesn’t suck, but we’re getting there. That will be the next movie that I get to direct. Unfortunatly we have written it for Chernobyl. We want Toxie to have some contact with Chernobyl. And it turns out, as you probably know, that Chernobyl is in a place called the Ukraine, which is not such a good place to be filming right now…But! We are are getting there. We are getting a better script, and at some point we will head to the Ukraine and film.”

If you need some Troma now, Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1 just hit blu-ray two weeks ago.

5 Movie Sequels that Aren’t Coming Fast Enough

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Zombieland

With all the interest in zombies, I don’t know how this hasn’t happened yet. Do they need Abigail Breslin to be 20 before it starts or something? It made $102 million on a $23.6 million budget! It’s not Harry Potter, but it has a big fan base to satiate and there’s money in it. A script is underway and a TV series almost happened, as the pilot was filmed. Yes, the pilot IS on Amazon Instant Video.

Gremlins

While vast lengths of time have passed since the original and the 1990 sequel, it’s sad a third hasn’t happened. Talks have been going on for so long, but something always gets in the way of production. Namely, Joe Dante refuses for there to be CG in the picture, and all the more power to him for it. The little beasts have a lot of energy left in them. A remake has been optioned, but I don’t see a need for it. They could just make another story about the tiny fiends with no relation to the other films, but it’s essential no one tries to beat Dante at his tricks. It just won’t happen.

Kick-Ass

I was so excited for the second movie I saw it opening weekend. While the performances were strong, it just didn’t live up to the original. I don’t expect the same movie over again, but motivations from the first film fell aside for the sake of convenience (Dave/Kick-Ass’ breakup with his girlfriend, why Hit-Girl wants to retire, etc). Other aspects of believability got torn asunder, like people believing Dave’s father could’ve been Kick-Ass. I love the action getting ramped up and focusing on Hit-Girl as a main character, but it became a superhero movie rather than a commentary on what makes a person a hero – not because it didn’t try, but that the cast was too huge. A third is needed, not exactly for redemption (a 6.8 on IMDb is solid), but to bring the tension back…and I want to see The Motherfucker get a small mech if at all possible. While IMDb doesn’t list a Kick-Ass 3 as even optioned, the creators are pushing for it and there’s no reason it wouldn’t happen. The film made almost $60 million on a $28 million budget and the series is prime material for retail sales.

Cloverfield

2008 is a ways back, but Cloverfield was a huge success, beating Zombieland with $171 million in earnings off a similar budget. Really, it was mastership of the fixed first-person view and a chilling story to boot. In an age of stylized messes, this one made sense. While a sequel is possible, Reeves and Abrams refuse to make it unless they have an idea they genuinely feel is worth it. When Super 8 came around, people even speculated it could’ve been the sequel they were waiting for…which brings us to our next title.

Super 8

We need to track down Reeves and Abrams to make this happen. This one is the biggest money maker on the list – $260 million on a $50 million budget. I don’t know what the plot would be per se, but something in the same universe would be fun as long as it treaded ample new ground. Those alien and monster designs are too good to limit to one film.