Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

Archive for March, 2011

Film Review – Sucker Punch

I don’t really know where to begin in reviewing this one. It’s a divisive film all around. The hype on it was fairly sizable and yet when the movie finally opened last week it was critically maligned beyond even my expectations and rejected fairly roundly by the general movie-going public. I’m pretty sure that someone could write a dissertation on why the film failed to connect. The simple fact of the matter is that while the film is a technical marvel from a cinematography standpoint, the narrative structure is akin to reading a book that had every other chapter excised for reasons nobody can explain. The structure of the film is never clearly defined and leaves too many questions for the viewer. The best way I can describe this is that it would be if you were to watch a version of Inception where the mechanics of the dreams were never explained, or the fact that they were even operating in a dream were never mentioned. In Sucker Punch we understand that what is happening is a fantasy world. That’s not in dispute. What is lacking is a correlation between that world and the real world. Events don’t seem to sync and as such the story crumbles under its own ambition.

I’ve read from several sources that Snyder wasn’t pleased with the end result of the film, with the ending hacked and sliced to a point that barely resembled his original scripted intent. There are places where it feels evident that some serious editing has taken place and gaps in the narrative flow are fairly obvious. I think we can anticipate a director’s cut that differs quite a bit from the theatrical version when the film finally sees a home video release. Whether what was removed will really do anything to salvage the film is anyone’s guess as the film is flawed beyond the choppy narrative.

Snyder is not fully developed as a writer in any manner of speaking. Directing from others’ scripts he can apply his own sensibilities to dialog and actions that lack his tendency towards melodrama. Thus far he’s been attracted to films that allow for his love of over-accentuated melodrama can run rampant but he’s never been responsible for the bulk of it. I think we can blame Frank Miller for the more bombastic elements of 300. Snyder interpreted more than was present for Watchmen, as I don’t think the mood he set in various parts of that film were present in Moore’s original vision. I certainly don’t think that Moore would approve of Snyder’s interpretation of the Nite Owl/Silk Spectre sex scene. Of course, I doubt Moore will ever bother to actually watch the film.

The questions that are raised by Sucker Punch are more closely tied to Snyder’s future than they are about whether the film actually works. The film, as it stands, is an admirable misfire. The most frequent comment I’ve heard made is that Snyder’s grasp is not as far as his reach. He goes further than he has the ability to manage. So what does this mean for his adaptation of Superman? He’s certainly got an amazing cast. And visually I think he’s a perfect fit for something like Superman. The big question is whether or not the Nolans’ involvement can reign in Snyder’s bombastic nature. I would like to hope Snyder knows he has to realize that on a movie like Superman it is Superman who is the star and not Zack Snyder.

Happy Birthday Nathan Fillion

We here at Comics Con Queso are big fans of Firefly. We also think Castle is pretty bitchin’. Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog is a perennial favorite. Slither is so good that it baffles the mind why more people don’t espouse it’s virtues. Heck, I’ll even show a little love for Waitress. Yeah, Keri Russel is adoreable. Totes dorbz, as the folks on Tumblr might say. What do all these have in common? The man to the left is what. Nathan Fillion. God king of handsome nerditry. The man who launched a million shipping blogs hooking him up with every person he has ever co-starred with in every production he has ever been featured in. Nathan “Should-Have-Been-Green-Lantern-Cry-A-Thousand-Angry-Fanboys” Fillion.

Today is his birthday. He shares it with director Quentin Tarantino, Pauley Perrette of NCIS, Brenda Song a.k.a. the hot asian girl from The Social Network, and Fergie a.k.a. “she who desicrates half-time shows with feeble mediocrity.” That is to say, he’s in some fine company today but deserves special attention because he’s just that amazing. If he’s not entertaining everybody with his on-screen antics he’s probably on Twitter, flirting with Joel McHale and thus inspiring another 200 Tumblr posts per minute. He’s a true icon of the geek community and if you don’t like him it’s probably because he stole your girlfriend at the laundromat.

Here are just a few facts about Nathan Fillion that you might not know:

1. He actually ghost wrote all of the scripts for Firefly himself by candlelight in a single weekend locked in a log cabin somewhere in Tennessee.

2. He is technically neither male nor female but actually a new super-gender which procreates simply by winking.

3. He is allergic to all cheeses under a certain shade of yellow.

4. Was approached to play the role of Jesus in The Passion of the Christ but no man dared to even fake causing him physical discomfort during the torture scenes. He remains in the final cut as the voice of God.

5. He doesn’t know the meaning of the word fear because he had it removed from the dictionary.

6. He is Isaiah Mustafa(aka the “Old Spice Guy”)’s life coach.

7. He REALLY likes baby carrots.

8. He sneezes double rainbows.

9. He totally slept with your mom last night.

and finally

10. Once fought Ryan Reynolds to a standstill over the last slice of pizza until he realized that he is powered by nuclear fission and therefore has no need for food.


Happy Birthday, Cap’n Tightpants!

Amy Adams is Lois Lane

According to reports from the L.A. Times, Oscar nominated actress/certifiable beauty Amy Adams has been cast as Lois Lane opposite Henry Cavill in Zack Snyder’s upcoming Superman film. This is such a step up from Kate Bosworth in Superman Returns that it almost defies the ability to write a coherant blog post about it. The fact of the matter is that no matter what you think of Snyder as a director, and the internet has been a veritable mosh pit of differing opinions following the opening of Sucker Punch, the pedigree of the cast is nothing less than stellar with Cavill, whose work in The Tudors is quite good, and previously reported Kevin Costner as Pa Kent and now Amy Adams on board as well. If by some miracle we get Viggo Mortenson on board as well, which has been speculated with rampant fury as of late, we may see the most well assembled Superman production of our time.

Just about every Superman iteration thus far has had something that worked well for it. Christopher Reeve was superb as the Man of Steel. In the 90’s, Teri Hatcher was a fabulous Lois Lane and the chemistry between her and Dean Cain was what kept that show afloat. Smallville has its moments, most of which revolve around Michael Rosenbaum, Allison Mack, John Glover, and, in a pinch, Erica Durance. Snyder’s film has an amazing cast, a treatment from the Nolan’s and the directive from everyone not to be a black hole of awful proportions. We could very well get something worthy of Superman hitting the big screen once again in 2012.

The Great Comics Con Queso Star Wars Expanded Universe Reading Experiment – Entry # 11 : X-Wing The Krytos Trap

The thing that strikes me the most about the expanded universe novels I’ve been reading since starting this little project is how books in the grand scheme of things, and even on a smaller scale within the context of their own saga, can jump from genre to genre with such amazing frequency. The first novel in the “X-Wing” series was a straight up military adventure story, a sort of Top Gun for Star Wars in many ways. I had anticipated the rest of the novels following a similar structure. The second novel, Wedge’s Gamble, took a different turn altogether, playing itself out as a spy/espionage thriller that read in many ways like a James Bond novel set to a sci-fi setting. Once again the series hops genres and this time plays itself as a John Grisham courtroom drama mixed with a little bit of The Great Escape thrown in for good measure. Incidentally, I found it to be the most engaging novel in the series thus far, with the twists and turns of the courtroom drama moving at such a brisk pace and in a manner that invited a great deal of speculation on the part of the reader. At the end of the previous novel, we are left wondering about the guilt of Tycho Celchu’s involvement with the supposed death of a Rogue Squadron member, and the revelation that he was captured and not killed by Ysanne Isard in the epilogue of book two does nothing to sway opinion either way, so the court case is handled with the reader not having concrete evidence either way, making the drama around the proceedings all the more potent.

With the secondary plot of the supposedly dead pilot trapped in the infamous Lusankya prison, the tone is evocative of films like The Great Escape, with our rebel pilot having a twinge of Steve McQueen in his character from the get-go, the comparison is more than adequate. His escape attempt, in which we learn that he is in fact descended from Jedi stock could have been considered a bit cliché if not for the fact that hints had been dropped since the first book in the series that this might be the case. There is of course a tendency to want to tie things to the Jedi in the Star Wars universe, and the revelation could have come out like badly written fan fiction if the writer had decided out of the blue to make one of his main characters a Jedi on whim, instead we get a major plot point that informs the climax of the novel and sets up the next installment. The choice of either becoming a Jedi and abandoning Rogue Squadron or remaining with the team and making good on promises made earlier in the narrative becomes the crux of the denouement here and leaves the reader energized to read the next installment, almost knowing that things that have been building over the course of three books and 1,000 pages worth of story will seemingly get a final payoff.

The next book in the series is the last for the author and the saga is taken over by perennial Star Wars writer Aaron Allston for books five through seven, so there is an expectation of closure with The Bacta War. Whether that holds true is yet to be seen, as it could be much as it was with the Republic Commando series and only leads further down the rabbit hole.

Film Review – Paul

When Simon Pegg and Nick Frost appear in a film there will always be a level of presumption in regard to what the movie will be like. Thus far the pair have been almost exclusively paired together when working with Edgar Wright. From Spaced to Shaun of the Dead to Hot Fuzz, when the boys are together they usually have Wright as a guiding force. They are the holy trinity of film nerditry. Here they’re responsible for the script but it’s Greg Mottola of Superbad and Adventureland who is directing the action. Of course the tone is going to be a bit different. The thing that remains the same is the dynamic between Pegg and Frost, whose real life friendship permeates ever frame of the film and makes the whole thing work. You never don’t believe that these guys are lifelong pals because the two have such a natural rapport with each other. It’s endearing on many levels.

I’ve heard criticisms leveled at Paul decrying it as a self-absorbed fan-wank with little actual substance, existing only as an excuse for Frost and Pegg to indulge their nerdier side in a more direct way than they’d been able to in stuff like Shaun of the Dead. I would like to think that the movie works on more levels than that. There’s certainly enough genuine moments of friendship here between the two leads as well as their interactions with their new extra-terrestrial pal to offset the nudge-nudge in-jokes that permeate the script. What a lot of people don’t seem to get is that enough of what the script pays homage to can’t really be considered an in-joke because the setting and the characters within the film feel like everybody is a part of their culture just as much as they are. In their obliviousness, they don’t realize how the references to their nerd culture might sail right over the head of those not involved in the scene. Aside from that, who the hell doesn’t get Star Wars references. Star Wars can’t be considered niche in any way nowadays, much the same with Star Trek as it’s permeated into the popular culture so deeply that just about everybody gets the jokes almost instinctively.

Admittedly it’s not the best film of Pegg, Frost, or Mottola. I don’t think Mottola will ever be able to make something as perfect as he did with Adventureland and Pegg and Frost’s best work will most likely always be with Edgar Wright, as the magic that comes from their pairing seems to explode under his direction, but Paul is a worthy diversion and I hope it finds a bigger audience than its opening weekend numbers suggest.

About That Wonder Woman Costume

So that happened…

Anybody who knows me probably knows how I feel about Wonder Woman as a property. I believe that it is one of the most damaged brands in the comics world as it stands right now and it’s mostly the fault of the fans.

There, I said it.

Never has there been a fanbase, that I can think of anyway, that is so divided and prone to bickering as with Wonder Woman. That’s saying something considering the sort of esteem I hold Batman fans in. Those guys are sane and reasonable compared to fans of Ms. Prince. The problem is that seemingly every fan of Wonder Woman became a fan at a different point in her development, thereby attaching themselves to a depiction of the character as it was at one point and then getting offended with every subsequent change to her convoluted continuity. This happens every other month it seems.

I am a fan of Wonder Woman in theory. I think she has the potential for amazing stories, as evidenced by the fact that there are some amazing runs on her title that are prime examples of what can be done with a strong female character in the comics medium. Greg Rucka is probably my favorite Wonder Woman writer (all due respect to Gail Simone and George Perez) and I know there are people who agree with me. There are also people who refuse to accept anything not written by George Perez. There are also people who would probably spit in JMS’ face for what he did during his stint. The different factions tend to be at odds over Wonder Woman’s character on a base level. It’s a testament to the character that such detailed discussion can be held on a level that allows for such dissection of the essence of what defines her beyond costume or continuity. It’s a far cry from the discussions of Batman where people mostly seem to argue over whether or not he needs a yellow oval. Batman draws from a very basic premise for his establishment; the death of his parents. Wonder Woman has the Greek mythology aspect as well as the American diplomat angle among others and nobody can quite agree what defines Wonder Woman at her core.

So now we come to the new TV show where we get the costume pictured to the left. It’s not horrible. It looks a little cheap, like it was bought from a Halloween costume shop for a theme party, but it’s recognizable as a Wonder Woman costume. The only nitpick I have is that the boots need to be red to break up the color scheme a bit.

Adrianne Palicki looks a bit awkward in the suit but from what I’ve gathered that may because it’s a photoshop manipulation of a prototype. The shots of her in civilian clothes have her looking far more comfortable and at ease, whereas here she looks a bit stiff and unsure of what sort of look she needs to project. That and the red lipstick is a bit overpowering.

My point here is to appeal to Wonder Woman fans by saying that this new version may very well be the definitive version for some young fan who is introduced to the character through the show. Don’t cut it down because it doesn’t fit your mold. Be glad that they’re getting anything right at all, as it’s more than can be said for some comic adaptations and at least with TV there’s a lot more room for evolution than if it were a standalone film. There will be growing pains, but all TV shows grow if they expect to survive. I think this one will, if only because Smallville has lasted ten seasons and that show is more offensive to continuity than anything I’ve seen for this project. That’s enough for me.

Spring Break Boredom Buster Challenge : Day Five – “Ong Bak 3”

As previously stated, I’m not going anywhere for Spring Break. That being the case, I figured I would catch up on some movies that have been piling up on Netflix. I thought it’d be fun to go through and once a day watch a film that popped up as a “suggestion” from Netflix and review the experience here on the blog to provide the illusion of regular content.

So here’s day five…

The Flick : Ong Bak 3 (201o)
The Director: Tony Jaa (Ong Bak) Panna Rittikrai (Ong Bak 2)
The Players: Tony Jaa (Ong Bak)

Synopsis (via IMDb): Ong Bak 3 picks up where Ong Bak 2 had left off. Tien is captured and almost beaten to death before he is saved and brought back to the Kana Khone villagers. There he is taught meditation and how to deal with his Karma, but very soon his arch rival returns challenging Tien for a final duel.

Review: I love a good martial arts flick. The first Ong Bak is actually one of my favorites. This sequel that’s not really a sequel in any way other than the fact that people in charge wanted to bank on the name so silly Americans might actually see it. The problem is that this one suffers from a severe lull in the action department after the initial fight scene and then leading up to the finale. The middle ground sags like an old hooker’s funbags and as such it’s a little hard to give much of a damn when protagonist Tien recuperates from his savage beating with the help of interpretive dance. (No shit)

Really this one is just too boring to resonate in any way. I feel like Jaa was wasted in this particular vehicle. He’s spectacular when he gets a chance here but there’s not enough of it to keep a whole movie afloat. It’s a shame, because when the fight scenes are on they’re phenomenal. There’s just not enough to make a total package.