IHAO on ... Oldboy (2013)

I spent a long time talking about genre the other day, specifically about science fiction.  But last evening I actually had a wonderful time dealing with another genre: the Thriller.

Now that THAT is out of the way, lemme tell ya about the thriller.  A thriller is a film that is very deeply a character or story film, focused on building tension higher and higher, sometimes to release that tension, sometimes to just bring it to a boil and let it absolutely boil over all over you, the audience.  It is a genre that I more and more am finding myself making a distinction for.  A lot of people end up shackling a lot of these films with "horror" because they cannot think of a better place for it.

My roommate loves the genre.  I do too, actually.  But for him, it is the be-all end-all.  It has almost every single film he loves in it, with the exceptions being slapstick comedies and nanar films, though he'll never use that term.  So we spent the evening watching two thrillers, one he and his girlfriend rented, and one that I own and love.  They rented Oldboy, starring Josh Brolin and directed by Spike Lee.  And boy-howdy ... ok, some backstory to this movie.

Oldboy was a very big deal Korean film made in 2003.  It is the second film in a trilogy about Vengeance.  And it made a huge splash over here.  It is one of those first films that triggered the wave of asian cinema that came over.  Now, ten years later, an American remake was created.

Now, why would a big deal foreign film be remade?  Well, because a whole bunch of very famous people wanted to do it.  Justin Lin of the Fast and Furious franchise, Will Smith, even Spielberg all wanted to get a shot at adapting this famous film.  All because it wasn't in English, so it was fair game.  Also, Oldboy is in and of itself an adaption of a manga series with the same name.  Then, when this all got big news, because Spielberg and Smith will of course do that, that cause a huge lawsuit between manga company and Korean film company.  It became poison to careers, and people moved on.

Then, out of nowhere, boom, Spike Lee is doing a remake of the film specifically.  And they filmed it and made it and wooooo it exists!  Well, kind of.  You see, the "Spike Lee Joint" version was heavily edited, removing 35 minutes out of the product.  Perspective, that is about an episode and a half of How I Met Your Mother.  Oh, and since the production team deleted 35 minutes of it, Spike Lee refused to put his above mentioned "joint" term of endearment on it, and Josh Brolin also has gone on record for disliking that they would chop out so much of the film.

I know this is kind of sarcastic sounding, but I really do feel bad for Spike Lee.  I hope his full cut comes out soon.

So yeah!  But what does that mean for the film itself?

Ok, quick plot: Joe (Josh Brolin) is a drunk, and a terrible father in 1993.  He is then kidnapped, framed for the rape and murder of his wife, and left in his strange solo existence for 20 years, before being released, only to learn his daughter will be killed in 84 hours.  He is now on the hunt and is looking for revenge.  There are a LOT of twists and turns beyond that, but that's what you need to know.

Josh Brolin is excellent.  Just absolutely excellent in this.  He holds the whole thing together and is amazing.  No one really is up to snuff with his talent, making scenes where he is interacting with others a little uneven, but watching it for Brolin is really really great.  And consider how large of a section there is of just Brolin and the audience, you can take my word for how good he does.

Now, on to Spike Lee.  You see, with all adaptations, you add something to the source.  And the added thing to the source material was a focus on technology.  From flippant lines about "believing everything you see on TV" to showing how information is now accessible through ALL THOSE GREAT APPLE PRODUCTS, YOU GUYS!!!, this movie updates the whole thing with technology.  And ... it kind of makes it all sillier.  Like, the original (which is great, by the way) is very simple.  Yes, there is a lot of crazy stuff going on and twists and turns, which the remake keeps true to, but it kept things simple.  But the scope is exploded in the remake, to make everything bigger.  But whenever it gets bigger, you just get more questions.  It actually hurts the film.

"To be or not to be, that is the question.  Whether tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outRAGEOUS sillyness!"

Now, the actual cinematography is great, though not mindblowing, and the film is sufficiently different in its telling to make it worthwhile, beyond the great acting and seeing Scarlet Witch's boobies.  The score is whatever, and the script is fine, though the actual mechanics of the plot get wonky.  And man, some of the actors are just ... silly.  Too silly.  OH and there is some violence.  Like, super duper brutal violence.  But only some.

Overall, it is a really solid thriller, and I'd recommend it.  I always REALLY want to see Spike Lee's originally cut, and I hope it will become avaliable.  But for now, it isn't quite up to GREAT, but still super good.

Grade: B+


IHAO on ... the Mass Effect games and franchise

GUARDIANS OF THE FLIPPING GALAXY!  IN JUST A FEW MORE SLEEPS!  AHHHHH!!!  What can I do that hits the highs I need to keep my excitement going?  Let's do ...

Mass Effect is a massive franchise of novels, comics, and of course, 3 AAA titles that all do the impossible: tell one story throughout that is for the most part affected by the choices your character has to make throughout.  No other franchise can say the same.  Some franchises have as detailed a story, some have the same quality of games, but NONE are as massive, as well received, as well put together as the Mass Effect series.

I am on the cusp of finishing my first playthrough with the same character through three games, Geoffrey Shepard.  He is an Adept that slowly stopped using his guns, instead throwing around amazing biotic powers (for those who don't know the wording, think the Force, except more specific and completely free of religious connotation..  He saved every species he could as he never wanted to exterminate life, until it came down to saving a trusted comrade he had just 8 months earlier saved or saving the love of his life, a Quarian engineer Tali.  Geoffrey started as a man who trusted his race's government and slowly learned that all of the governments he had to deal with, every entity that wasn't him and his crew, were liars and backstabbers.

I know Geoffrey Shepard like the back of my hand.  He has had the same muttonchops for years, though he did stop dying his hair when he survived his crew's suicide mission.  I know his quirks, his personality, and the choices he makes.  Geoffrey is also distinctly NOT "me."  His choices started very much like all video game characters choices, in that they were controlled by the player, in this case, me.  But very quickly, he became his own entity.

Now, these games are not perfect.  The first game for some has a lot of tedium and a lot of unnecessary fluff.  For me personally, I loved all that fluff, and just wanted combat to be more fun.  The second game is darned near perfect, other than a terrible cover system that barely worked.  The third game ... ok, it isn't as good as the others mechanically because of a change in how the journal system works, a lot of graphics that have super late texture pop-ins, and a very broken power system that really punishes people for being too far ahead of the storyline which none of the other games did; but the story is so strong that it makes up for it.  And it adds a very fun multiplayer aspect that you can still play, for free, today, and it does not take time to get groups together at all.

This is the kind of game that I want my wife to play.  My kids to play.  The story is incredibly engaging, and it is about making moral choices that for the most part have actual consequences in the game.  There is a jerkoff you meet in the first game that shows up again in the second.  I was tired of him and yelled at him.  And he died.  Off screen.  I heard it on a news report.  And even more amazingly, my roommate who has played the game WAY more than I and completed many many more full-runs of the games, he has never seen or even heard of that option happening.

The game is a true roleplaying game.  It allows you to put attributes onto the character, completely arbitray if you like, and play them out.  You don't have to be yourself, you can be a Captain America soldier type, or a magic ninja who does everything just for himself, or just some run of the mill guy.  Supporting characters live or die based on your choices throughout all the games, and the ramifications of missing even just one in the first game has long reaching aspects.  Continuing a romance from one game to the next rewards you with wonderful acting and shocking memory of these characters.

What I'm saying is, I've loved playing the series.  And look forward to playing more and more.  And since I had the soapbox, I thought I would share.  Because some of you may look at it and go "oh look, a shooter game in space, whatevs."  But that isn't what the game is.  Take the difficulty all the way off if you like, because the fighting is just for game stuff to do, and can be completely bypassed.  The story and the characters are what is the essence of Mass Effect.  The only game that came anywhere close to this for me was Chrono Trigger, which is my nominal favorite game of all time.  So yes, give this a shot if you haven't.  The first game is a bit of a slog, but Mass Effect 2 will do everything you'd ever want in a game.  And Mass Effect 3, while not as technically well made, creates the perfect continuation and finale to a trilogy.

But, that's just my opinion.


Nanarsday ... Bloodmoon

Man, I absolutely LOVE Nanarsday!  I love sharing these ridiculous films with you all, and I hope that I'm able to highlight them for some to go find, because they are amazing.  I wasn't always like this.  I didn't always like terrible bad movies.  And I know exactly who to blame: my best bud from college.  Because it is his fault that I watched a LOT of crappy movies.  He introduced me to Wu Tang Clan kung fu like I talked about last week.  We did my first Nightmare on Elm Street films.  We watched Troll and Troll 2.  I didn't think about movies in terms I currently do until then.  It was the beginning of the end.

Building up a tolerance/love for these kind of films doesn't come easy.  But it is one of the greatest things in the world!  And some of these movies are legitimately some of the best films I've ever watched, from a film watching experience with all my friends.  And it is all because no matter how bad these films are, no matter how bad they get, there is at least SOMETHING good in them.  Some have no redeeming qualities besides the people making it were truly trying to make the best movie they could, and that is a key component, that sincerity.  But most have something to offer.  And today's film is all about just that ONE thing.

It should come as no surprise when I say that stuntmen are not the best actors in the world.  The also aren't the best writers or directors.  But man, when they want to have a good fight scene, they know what they are doing.  And that is basically this ENTIRE FILM.  Yes, there is a plot in there about a serial killer in a mask killing great fighters, including Rob Van Dam of ECW, WWE, and TNA fame, and the cops out to stop that killer.  And sure, there is a love story as well, and a little bit of mystery.  But nah, we all came for the action!

And there are so many wonderfully bad things in this.  There's the classic bad stuff, like emotionless leading man who doesn't show up until 15 minutes in.  There's the over the top ridiculous main villain who in every single fight wears a mask and then takes it off, completely arbitrarily.  But there's the Eddie Murphy rip-off secondary lead protagonist who is constantly doing magic tricks.  Let that phrase sink in.  He's doing an Eddie Murphy impression, is the first lead character you meet in the film, and his defining characteristic is doing magic tricks.  It. is. GLORIOUS.

The music is so bad, and film quality is atrocious.  The movie looks like an 80s film and it is made in 1996.  I can go on and on.  But none of that matters.  Because the fight scenes are all fabulous!  They are the money maker.  They get you in.  You get all the bad movie tropes, and you get all sorts of amazing action on top of it.  It reminds me a lot of Dead Heat, in that I'm not quite ready to give this an F because one element is so well done.  But nonetheless, Bloodmoon 100% falls in the nanar category, and it makes me the happiest action camper in the world.

Grade: D++


IHAO on ... Altered States

Guardians of the Galaxy!  GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY!  I am SUCH a happy camper.  I cannot think of a time I was this excited for a film to come to theaters.  Everything about the premise and all the work I've seen has just been amazing.  Everyone is giving it everything they got, and all of the actors and crew are honest about it.  It reminds me of the reason I love Arrow, and many TV shows.  People get passionate about the art they are making.  Plus who doesn't love a sci-fi-comedy-action-adventure-fantasy-superhero-blockbuster film?  Huh, ok, so there seems to be something off with my genre mojo here.  Upon seeing the film, I'll have a better sense of it.

Genre mojo is very important to me, as you can see over in the word cloud to the right of the screen (on computers, I dunno where it is on mobile ... are you reading this on mobile?  I dunno, figured I should ask.)  Genres make it real easy to make sure you know what I am talking about, and real easy to go searching for things if you want something in particular.  I say all this because I have something very important to say, especially considering GotG is coming out this weekend: STAR WARS IS NOT SCIENCE FICTION!  Neither is John Carter or a bunch of other things set in space.  Being set in space =/= Science fiction.  Science fiction is a difficult genre to truly get correct, in my opinion.  And of course, that is what you are all here for, seeing as it is blatantly the title of this blog.  Let me extrapolate on this idea for a bit before we get into the review, if you don't mind.

Action movies are easy to define (part of the reason I did a whole week on them).  They are films where the big selling point is action.  Be it kung fu, brawling, explosions, shoot outs, car chases, whatever, the selling point is the action.  The same holds true for comedies, where the comedy is the selling point, regardless of it is wit, slapstick, character, situational, or parody.  Dramas are sold by their true-story nature, not saying that all dramas are true stories, but they are all treated with the weight as if they were, even if they can be a little funny or have some action.  Horror movies are easy, they are made to be directly absorbed by those who want scares.  Thrillers are more about gripping intensity than horror.

But then you get into films that are genres because of other aspects.  Fantasy films are films that, regardless of set dressing, have the same basic tropes of good and evil, exploration, questing, making difficult decisions, all of that.  You could be set in a fairy tale land, the past, the future, space, or in the apocalypse.  Crime films, though filled with action and drama, have a specific feel about them.  So do heist films.  And musicals.  And war films, of course.  As well as westerns.  They all have specific tropes they work with.

Then you have science fiction.  It can fill a lot of those holes.  It gets thrown around when anything vaguely scientific is part of the plot.  I suspect many people would call the stupid new action movie Lucy science fiction because they use tenuous grasps on science to explain her powers.  But here is what I posit: a science fiction film is only that in genre if the science is the important part of the story.  Event Horizon is just a horror movie, set in space.  As is Alien.  Star Wars is a fantasy film, just like John Carter.  Guardians of the Galaxy will more than likely end up being an action film, perhaps a fantasy, despite its setting.  And looking through my own reviews that I tagged as science fiction, I could easily argue some of them are not that genre.

I say ALL of that to express just how perfectly Altered States exemplifies the conceits of a science fiction film.  It is about a scientist trying to make a breakthrough in schizophrenia research, looking for other states of existence and understanding.  He does this by using a sensory deprivation tank and taking hallucinogenics.  And we learn as we watch that he just might be on to something.

The film is shots incredibly well.  And the actors do phenomenally.  I really loved this movie.  I bought it because of its semi-historic nature as an influential film on things like Silent Hill, thinking it would make an interesting horror/thriller movie.  But the way this movie slowly builds towards its climax, which is breathtaking and all encompassing, it magnificent.  It is a very trim script, as we jump forward sometimes many years at a time in our protagonist scientist's life, played by William Hurt in his film debut (doing awesomely, by the way).  He plays a scientist who is all intellect, no emotion, working his way through his research, knowing he is onto something about these altered states of being but trying to find how to get in touch with them.  It is a ... difficult journey to say the least.

It is hard to really talk about the film because I do not want to give anything within it away.  It is a cleverly made, wonderfully shot, incredibly well-acted film, with an amazing score and sound design, both of which got nominations for the Academy.  It is a haunting and thrilling film, that leaves you learning with your characters.  And it does something every good science fiction film should do, which is create a deeper meaning, and express some kind of satire or allegory to be learned from.  And the emotional journey you as an audience go through with our protagonists is glorious.  It is also incredibly psychogenic, and sometimes comes across very alien, but all on purpose to deliver its ultimate goal/emotion/meaning.

This is the kind of film that upon completing it, I knew it would not be for a lot of people.  But there are some out there who are going to find this movie to be amazing, perhaps one of the best.  If anything I said here interested you, take a gander when you can.  I'm certainly incredibly glad I've seen it.

Grade: A+

Also, it is question time!  I need questions before this weekend!  This is the last stretch!  If you've been waiting to give me those questions, do it now!  Any way you can!  I'll take any and everything question possible.  I even answered one about the skillful design of the penis last time.  There is nothing off limits!

IHAO on Everything, too

August 1st, 2014

And you can bet there will be a Guardians of the Galaxy review on the 4th!


IHAO on ... Hercules

Man, oh man!  Have I been excited about this for awhile.  Dwayne Johnson is a guy who I love seeing act.  He has a great part in one of my favorite movies!  I love seeing him wrestle.  He's one of my top 5 wrestlers of all time.  And I LOVE that he got a new manager that stopped getting him only signed up for a bunch of garbage kids films where he is the only good part.

ALSO I love fantasy films!  I love the tropes, the storytelling, the themes, the action, the magic, the style of characters, the ascetics, all of it!  So of course I was 100% into this!  I haven't been this excited since the last fantasy film that came through Hollywood: 47 Ronin.  Oh wait ...

Hollywood and fantasy films have had a hard time together for a long time.  Kind of like with Pirates films.  But that did change with two huge franchises.  But the fantasy ones, Lord of the Rings, instead of living in the tropes of its source or in its predecessors, it created new tropes.  New, very specific tropes.  That have permeated every single film made since them.  And I very much hate the vast majority of them.  Some fantasy movies still work for me, but they generally tend to go back to their own style without becoming Peter Jackson-ian.  But I was real worried.  Then you throw in hit-or-miss director Brett Ratner at the helm and ...

Yeah, the gif of Stone Cold above perfectly expresses my feelings.  I had a lot of emotions.  Too many.  I didn't know how I was going to feel going in, I didn't know how I was going to feel coming out, I just knew I needed to see it, so I can share with all of you if you need to get see it.

Yes.  Absolutely you need to see this.  This movie is very very good.  I'd dare say great.  Now, it isn't exceptional.  It has a lot of tropes, it is very character driven instead of action driven.  But all the action is fabulous.  All the themes are awesome.  This is like seeing a big ole Dungeons and Dragons campaign, and those are generally the best fantasy films, Dungeons and Dragons the movie being the exception.

The best part is that the Rock isn't just the Rock here.  He worked his BUTT off to be amazing in this, and it shows.  He is fully invested in his character, much like he was in Pain & Gain, much like in Be Cool.  I was never watching the Rock acting, I was invested, I was watching Hercules!  And the film itself treats the mythology wonderfully.  Well, almost wonderfully.  Interestingly.  I can see some people being upset about it, and to be honest I was a little bit disheartened ... but just a little bit.  A very little bit, because what the movie is actually about is fabulous.

I really loved this movie.  And I plead that you all go see it as well.  This is the kind of film we need to see more of.  This is the kind of movie that should be filling Hollywood.  And with Guardians of the Galaxy coming next week ... I am very very excited about what may start coming with these two.  But only if they do well.  So GO SEE HERCULES!  Take Lawrence of Arabia, Lord of the Rings, and Conan the Barbarian, smash them together, and then have it be a nice trim 98 minutes, and you can see why this movie is an exciting prospect!

Grade: A+

OH!  And give me questions!  In comments, in asks, in emails, everywhere, anywhere, questions on anything, I just need them for the AMA I am going to do on August 1st!  If you don't then I just ... well, I won't do it I guess.   I mean, I gotta have questions.  So really, ask me anything.  ANYTHING.  Hard questions, silly questions, stupid opinions, serious ones, math questions, riddles, anything that is a question, just ask it!  You all are the ones that help me make this blog and these little extra fun things work.  So DO IT ... or don't if you don't want me to make the blog and AMA work, I suppose.

I Have an Opinion on Everything, Too

August 1st, 2014


IHAO on ... Last Action Hero - READER REQUEST

Requested by Eric Morris

Last Action Hero is the story of a young kid growing up in the bad parts of New York City, who gets his hands on a magical movie ticket on the night he gets to see his favorite movie series' newest film, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.  And that isn't a joke, it is actually starring him.  The magic ticket then sucks the kid into the movie world, where his knowledge helps him help his movie hero.  Then the bag guy gets the ticket and goes to the real world, where the bad guys actually can sometimes win.  They go back to the real world, stop the bad guy anyway, and then get everyone back to where they need to be (except for Death from The Seventh Seal, played by Ian McKellan, who just gets to wander the real world now).

Oh, and it has the creative force of the guy that directed Die Hard and Predator, and the writer of most of the Marvel movies including the X-Men ones and the Avengers, as well as Shane Black, the Lethal Weapon guy.  Oh, and I hate this movie.  This movie has so many problems.  Let me talk about the good.  The action is sometimes fun, most of the time ridiculous and over the top, and it is mostly shot well.  Also, Schwarzenegger as Jack Slater is very fun, and oozing with charisma, as are the unique villains.  And there we go, I said everything good about this movie.

Characters float in and out, the focus of the film doesn't stay consistent, and even worse, it doesn't actually know what it is trying to be.  The premise is the kid is sucked into the movie he is watching.  But what actually happens is he is sucked into Action-movie-land ... except that immediately just becomes "we are all cartoons, nothing makes sense, and it is all silly and ridiculous" land.  And in the real world, all the stupid action cliches happen!  They try to make it sound like they don't happen, but they still do.  Like, the bad guy gets electrocuted, even though he's wearing rubber soled boots AND rubber gloves.  Slater rips car doors off their hinges and punches through car windows without a scratch.  THAT DOESN'T HAPPEN IN THE REAL WORLD!

But the real world was more ridiculous and unbelievable even before that.  The kid's favorite movie theatre is a 4 story tall theatre that has an ornate and ENORMOUS viewing theater, but it is also almost completely derelict and has spray paint everywhere.  Cartoonishly having 5 locks on the doors, and when the kid doesn't lock the door immediately after his mother leaves him for work, he is mugged by a guy breaking in.  THIS IS NOT THE REAL WORLD!

Also, the kid.  The kid is atrocious.  One of the worst kid actors I've seen.  He doesn't get his emotions up above a constant level of snide wonder the whole movie.  He is supposed to be our viewpoint, our way into the story, the reason we are watching, but he is utterly terrible and irritating.

Honestly, I wish I could rate this movie lower.  But it's overall sins are boredom and being dumb.  Really dumb.  Like, makes me angry dumb, because there are great ideas here!  Really great ideas here!  And they are all wasted.  Every single good idea thrown down the toilet and ruined.  Maybe what I'm saying isn't good enough though.  Maybe the ideas presented are what you like.  Well here, lemme help you.

 - If you want to watch an action movie where a kid getting sucked into his favorite form of entertainment, watch Forbidden Kingdom
 - If you want to watch a cop film about dealing with ridiculous reality bending paradigm shifts, watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit
 - If you want to watch a satire on action films, watch Hot Fuzz
 - If you want to watch Arnold be an interesting action character dealing with reality, watch Total Recall

There is not a single redeeming quality of this movie except that is just isn't bad enough to be terrible.  It reminds me of Young Adult.  It is a completely average example of its genre that had all the markings to think it was a way more clever version instead.  And I never want to see it again.

Grade: C---

Tonight I am going to see Hercules, starring the Rock.  Stay tuned for a big review of it for tomorrow.  If IHActionO week has taught me anything, it is that action movies can vary in huge ways between skill and enjoyment.  I even have a whole nother film that came in the mail for the week, but I'll just share it another day.  It is glorious!  And terrible!  Just like I like it.  See you after Hercules!  I'm real excited!

We are just over two weeks away from my amazing second rendition of Ask Me Anything!  Thank you everyone who has given me questions so far, but I absolutely NEED and MUST HAVE more!  So help me out, leave some questions in my ask box on Tumblr or in the comments here or on facebook or to my email or something.  Any question at all.  Everything and anything you want to ask will be answered, and the vast majority will be honest, and all will be entertaining.  Let's get this thing going, we only got half a month to do this thing!  WOOOOO!

IHAO on EVERYTHING, TOO on August 1st


Nanarsday ... Gymkata

Welcome to Nanarsday, IHActionO style!  We are going to talk about a film I own and love and hate all at once for its just utter terribleness.  It is a hard one to explain without just spoiling the whole thing, so forgive me if this review is a little too heavy on dem spoilers.  But it is TOTALLY worth it.

Imagine it is 1980.  Cold war is happening all over the place.  People living in mild interest that Russia may do something.  You are an incredible male gymnast, earning lots of world notice and guaranteed to be a huge Olympics star.  You are the first gold medalist male from America on the floor dance thingy.  There are two moves named for your skillz.  Things are pretty sweet.  But gosh darn it, Jimmy Carter boycotts the Olympics this year because they are in Moscow and war or something.  Whatever, it doesn't matter, your career is over.  4 years is a LONG time to wait for another shot, and gymnastics is a young man's sport.  Now you are stuck with nothing good to do, sitting on your hands.  Until a dude decides to adapt an almost 30 years old book into a film, and they call you up to star, using your unique skills to kick the butts of a bunch of harmless non-Soviets for a big ole action movie.

That's Gymkata's birth.

Oh goodness, look at that poster!  Gymnastics + Karate let's you kill ninjas in your adidas!  You are moving so fast the entire world is replaced with blood, EVERYWHERE.  This thing is glorious.  Also, completely inaccurate to this film.  Don't get me wrong, there is totally a whole bunch of "action" in it.  But it is all gymnastic themed.  Like ... hilariously gymnastic themed.  The amount of random things around that just double as classic gymnastics stuff is hilarious.  Some parallel bars are in this alley?  Sure!  Hey, this not-Soviet hamlet filled with crazy cannibals - all of which are played by actual locals from that real hamlet they filmed in, by the way - it has a pommel horse looking rocky outcropping with handlebars right next to the well!

There was not a single ounce of joke in what I said.

Hey, can you guess the worst thing about hiring an athlete instead of an actor to be the lead role in your film?  Yeah, he totally cannot act.  He sure does a lot of stunts, but they are all utterly ridiculous.  This movie has the most random unnecessary flippy-doodles of any action movie that exists.  Our hero will just backflip or corkscrew moonsault or triple-sow-cow or whatever you call those gymnastics moves all the time, just to do it.  And yeah, he sure can do it, but it just doesn't make any sense!  Why would you get on the pommel horse of convience, but instead of doing kicky-doos, just do a front flip off it, then kick some dudes, then use it again?!  And that is ONE SCENE!  Just one!  There are so many amazing scenes.

The writing is terrible.  The actors are across the board the worst.  The action is nonsensical and hilarious.  But what makes this movie so great is that they are doing it without a single ounce of irony.  It's what makes nanar Nanar!  Sincerity.  Everyone involved were making the best movie they knew how, and that comes through!  It is what makes me love these terrible terrible wonderful movies!  

Now the question is, how can YOU see this movie?  Bad news, it is currently not streaming anywhere.  But it is super avaliable!  Amazon is selling it dirt cheap, and it is completely worth it if you love wonderfully bad films!  You can give it a rent, or get a digital version on most electronic thingies.  And I do believe if you have the archaic Netflix that let's you get discs sent to you, it is TOTALLY rentable there.  So find it!  Watch it!  Bring your friends together, and everyone will laugh.  

Not convinced?  Here, I'll spoil one more scene, because it makes me giggle every time.  Love interest is refusing to talk to our protagonist.  So he decides to woo her the best way he knows how: by doing flipping corkscrewing backflippies and playing both sides of the conversation.  Like this: 

Over and over.  Lots of times.  And she eventually smiles and finds it charming.  And even MORE ridiculous stuff happens that scene!  But I'm going to keep that for you guys to find on you own.  You will enjoy this film, because it is earnest, un-ironic, and terrible, with hilarious action, hilariously bad acting, and just wonderfully bad dialogue.  

Grade: F+

We are just over two weeks away from my amazing second rendition of Ask Me Anything!  Thank you everyone who has given me questions so far, but I absolutely NEED and MUST HAVE more!  So help me out, leave some questions in my ask box on Tumblr or in the comments here or on facebook or to my email or something.  Any question at all.  Everything and anything you want to ask will be answered, and the vast majority will be honest, and all will be entertaining.  Let's get this thing going, we only got half a month to do this thing!  WOOOOO!

IHAO on EVERYTHING, TOO on August 1st


IHAO on ... The Man With The Iron Fists

Guardians of the Galaxy is coming out SOOOO soon.  I am excited beyond anything I've ever experienced for a film coming out, period.  Everything looks so good, so crisp, and just wonderful.  James Gunn has impressed me with every film of his I have seen, and hasn't delivered lower than an A+ grade for anything I've watched - admittedly, that is a very small section of his career as of now, but I will be working to fix that.  It's got Chris Pratt looking stacked and being awesome, and BIG DAVE BATISTA in his biggest role to date.

Big Dave gets a little bit of a bad wrap because of his last run where Cena buried him on his way out, then he left to make movies and they just ... Dave Bautista's film career basically looks like the exact opposite of James Gunn's for me.  Admittedly, I've seen very little.  Or at least, I had.  That's why I decided to get my hands on The Man With the Iron Fists.

The RZA directed and wrote this, with some help from the terrible Eli Roth, and it is just a big colorful and crazy kung fu movie.  I don't know if you know this, but RZA, and the whole Wu Tang Clan, they LOVE kung fu flicks.  I remember hanging out with my best friend in college freshman year, heading to FYE in the mall and finding just stacks and stacks of the movies.  He got Zombie v. Ninja, the amazing Godfrey Ho film starring Pierre Kirby, the undisputed star of terrible Godfrey Ho films, and it was just ridiculous.  I'm pretty sure I didn't like it as much as he did, but I liked it.  And of course that year we also found a bunch of other great kung fu films, including Kung Fu Hustle which came to theatres not too long after that.  But yeah, Wu Tang loves kung fu.  Plus this had Big Dave in it, so I had to watch it!  And ...

What is it, Justin Timberlake?  You want me to explain the film first?  Sure, I can do that.  You see, it is classic warring clans stuff, though with some modern embellishments to characters and such, but basically a clan has its leader killed by its second in command, and he starts putting the hurt on people for GOLD!

Gold. Gold! GOLD!!!

But the clan's leader's kid comes for revenge, and he is called X-Blade.  He has a leather suit of armor with hundreds of 3 inch long blades that come out of everywhere whenever he focuses he chi correctly, and he can shoot them out, too.  And with that you learn how everything.  RZA plays the blacksmith named Blacksmith - get it, because RZA is black, and he's a smith!!! - who is forced to make powerful weapons for the warring clans, all so he can run away with his love, who is a prostitute.  Then you have Brass Body show up, who is Batista and can just turn his body into brass reflexively, and he wants Blacksmith's girl.  And you have Jack Knife, which is my favorite Russell Crowe role EVER, who is straight up Jack the Ripper but a good guy running from Britain to China, probably to kill a bunch of prostitutes, but he gets involved in everything.

There are a lot of characters, and it is hard to express how everything works.  But it eventually culminates in a huge fight in the brothel.  And it is violent.  Man, this movie is violent.  Some practical gore, some bad looking CGI, but all of it over the top and entertaining.

I loved this movie.  There are a lot of little problems, weird choices and pacing that comes from the fact a rapper who is a film lover but not a film maker is at the helm.  But man, this movie is inventive, at the same time classic, and is just great fun to watch.  If you like actors having the best time just overacting and being hilarious or being like Big Dave and actually acting his heart out because he is serious about his career, this is a good one for ya.  If you like violent action movies, this movie is pretty good for you.  I mean, the movie's action isn't the best action in the world or anything, but it is fun.  The music is great, with a mix of modern and a mix of classical Chinese.  Really, that describes the whole thing.  The movie is a pretty even split modern and classic for its genre.

It got some flack for not "adding to its genre" but that's not the point.  RZA isn't Tarantino or Aronofsky or some other well received and good director.  He wanted to make a cool kung fu movie that he loves, and you can tell.  There are little bits of bad acting here or there, or weird camera shots, or bad pacing, but everyone is having the best time, and I wholly endorse this film.  Oh, and even though it was unrated and super violent, no nudity.

Grade: B+

We are a mere two weeks away from my amazing second rendition of Ask Me Anything!  Thank you everyone who has given me questions so far, but I absolutely NEED and MUST HAVE more!  So help me out, leave some questions in my ask box on Tumblr or in the comments here or on facebook or to my email or something.  Any question at all.  Everything and anything you want to ask will be answered, and the vast majority will be honest, and all will be entertaining.  Let's get this thing going, we only got half a month to do this thing!  WOOOOO!

IHAO on EVERYTHING, TOO on August 1st


IHAO on ... WWE Battleground 2014

Well hello everyone!  And welcome to IHActionO week!  This whole week will be ALL ACTION as we lead up into The Rock's new film, Hercules, which looks utterly amazing.

I mean come on, LOOK AT THAT!

Almost all my standard styles of reviews, from straight to Nanarsday to a Reader Request will all be ACTIONTASTIC!  Actionriffic?  Action-action-auction-free?  I dunno, something.  And luckily enough, we had a WWE PPV yesterday evening to start the week of action off right.  As always, all my wrestling gifs come from the amazing Wrasslor Monkey.  Definitely go check out his blog.

All these banner images are owned by WWE, by the way.

The WWE Network has made it easy for me to catch every PPV now, and I love it!  It let's me talk to you guys, keep continuity straight as I watch every week, and all sorts of other good things.  Of course, I don't watch the Network every day, I got movies and stuff to watch.  But I sure do watch it when I can.  But this PPV was going to be different from the last few.  You see, my roommates and I, as well as my wife, all enjoy having our wrestling days as a house.  We all just take a day to just have company with us, plus significant others sometimes, to enjoy the wrestling world, usually watching NXT or PPVs.  Sometimes I watch things twice because of work schedules or whatever, but I never have to be alone.  Except for last night.  Everyone was gonna be out and I was gonna be reacting all by myself, explaining wrestling history to no one, and just sitting there with my doggies.  I was a little sad.  So I invited friends and we made a big ole party of it!  Why am I sharing this?  How is it important to the review?  It isn't, but I needed a buffer paragraph between the opening image and the next heading to make things more appealing.  Also, one of my friends has turned out to be the most fantastic person to watching wrestling with AT ALL.  She just marks out for everything, cannot get enough of it all, and loves almost everything.  That's pretty solid.  Ok, so let's get this thing going ... for real this time.

Kickoff Match 1: Adam Rose beat Fandango

At Money in the Bank last month, Summer Rae and Layla both fought to be Fandango's girlfriend/valet/dancing partner.  Well, since that day, the two girls have become besties and turned on Fandango, leaving him alone.  And they tweeted a picture of being with Adam Rose, so Fandango decided to fight him.  Well, that's the subtext.  Fandango didn't act like that mattered to him.  And ultimately, it doesn't matter.  The match was quick, a warm-up for the audience filmed because they are filming those pre-show stuffs anyway and put on the Kickoff show because why not.  I couldn't really care much less about this match up, but it wasn't terrible, and it was super short, and we did get this:

I <3 font="" layla="" swoon="">

So yeah, could have been worse.

Verdict - Hmm, what? I'm sorry, I was distracted.

Kickoff Match 2 - Cameron beat Naomi

I hate Cameron with every fiber of my being.  She is the anti-christ.  She is the worst thing to happen to the world since disease was invented.  I would gladly pay an assassin to remove her from the world, if that assassin took IOUs that were never going to be repaid.  She is awful.  She ... her history within this company and this industry is atrocious.  She is everything wrong with Divas.  Everything.  She also wins this match.  The person that made Stone Cold react like THIS when he asked her what her favorite match was:

Her answer was Alicia Fox v. Melina.  It is a terrible answer, and proof she doesn't deserve to be here.

Ugh.  I can give Cameron this: she is a natural heel.  Because I want to grab a brick and smash it into her face over and over again until I "accidentally" made jelly.  Anyway.

This match is the most basic of matches.  Good guy team is together.  One turns heel.  They have match.  Heel now has different music and look, acts like a complete dickbutt, cheats to win to establish themselves as new heel.  Good guy is shocked.  And they are the only one.

Verdict - Worthless.  Worse than that, because Cameron got paid. Negative worth.

Tag Team Championship: Usos retain in a 2-out-of-3 Fall Match versus the Wyatts

And the PPV opens legit with a tag match.  Man do I love seeing the tag division growing and being awesome.  Putting on great matches, being entertaining, and building up a huge roster of teams.  As you can see in my little heading there, the Usos won, which was shocking.  I really thought it was the Wyatt's time.  But nope, the Usos absolutely did it great.  Especially after coming back from some awesome offensive sequences, like a one-man double superplex that Erick Rowan does to them, or Harper just being absolutely nuts in his goal to destroy these samoan champs.

Did you kick me?  I didn't feel it.

It took 4 Superkicks and a double splash for the Usos to put Luke Harper down, putting the Wyatts over something huge.  And that was just in the single final sequence.  There were so many amazing nearfalls, from superkicks to powerbombs.

This is from Raw, but man is it impressive.

I was on the edge of my seat for the last 5 minutes.  This match delivered in spades, and absolutely opened up this PPV, which had an amazing card, over the top.  I loved this match, and I cannot wait to see what happens next for the Usos and the tag division.  If I had to guess, there was a promo segment later in the PPV that had Stardust and Goldust talking about reaching for the Cosmic somethingorother and the stars aligning and so on and so on.  So the Dusts are probably gonna go for the tag titles.

Verdict - Phenomenal.  Must watch.

Divas Championship: AJ Lee retains against Paige

Ok, so interest developments here.  AJ returned the night after Payback.  Then history repeated itself as she and Paige has a match which Paige didn't want and AJ took back her Diva's title.  From that point on, Paige knew she was getting a rematch at Battleground, so the two ended up becoming "frenemies."

Look at Paige's smile.  Glorious.

So finally we get a match, which has this odd vibe to it.  And it is ... perfectly fine.  Compared to Divas matches of the past 5 years, probably one of the best.  But in reality ... it was off.  You see, we had no heel.  The concept itself lead to a lot of conversation within my viewing party as we discussed why we even need the concepts of "face" and "heel" in wrestling.  UFC, football, the Olympics, those types of athletic contests don't have those roles.  My short answer was that professional wrestling is more than just sports, it is about storytelling.  Modern myths.  Soap operas for boys.  And not only that, we as human beings add "face" and "heel" conceits to sports.  We root for a team.  There is a narrative to sports that is inherent, because humans add narrative to everything.  It's why we root for the underdog.  It is why naming a pencil Steve and then breaking it will make a lot of people wince just a little.  Narrative DRIVES the sports and athleticism of professional wrestling.

Community is hilarious, isn't it?  Man I'm using a lot of gifs this time around.

So when a match is two faces, with no real bad guy, you have two options: turn someone heel, or focus on the competition aspect.  And this match did ... kind of both.  They don't want to pull the trigger on a heel turn for Paige just yet, probably saving it for TV so they can build to AJ v. Paige II at Summerslam, this time with Paige as big bad Anti-Diva heel.  I'm excited for it.  But for this moment, the match was pretty good.  There were some miscommunication, the nerves were high, but nothing too major:

Spear ... ish.

Verdict - Pretty all right.  Though I expected more.

Rusev beat Jack Swagger by countout

More Rusev, though this time against a newly face, always American American Jack Swagger.  In this match, Shawn Michaels tried to superkick Kurt Angle, only for him to catch the superkick and try to put the Anklelock on him.  Nope, nope, those are the wrong names, and would have produced a better match.  Rusev matches are building to his first big loss, with every match he has now getting closer to that moment.  On TV he won by DQ.  Here he wins by countout.  He still RUSEV-CRUSHED Swagger, but that was after the count-out.  The match itself was nothing interesting.  If a match is requiring Jack Swagger to be the senior worker who is calling the shots, you aren't in great hands.  The crowd was into the US v. Russia stuff, though, even if I'm totally not any longer, as I consider country-heritage-gimmicks to be an enormous misfire in our current global age.  But whatever.  The crowd liked it more than me, and in the end, this is just another stop to Rusev's actual defining match.  This one will be forgotten, and isn't worth getting upset or feeling good about.

Verdict - Rusev matchka, Rusev whatever

Seth Rollins wins by forfeit because Ambrose be straight crazy and got thrown out of the building

This was not a match.  It was a brutal and passionate attack.  Ambrose is sick of Rollins and he is going to haunt him for his entire career.  Ambrose attacked Rollins earlier during an interview, getting thrown out of the building.  He came back for more.  He got thrown out again.  Then, as Seth was leaving ...

I found Dean!  Seth 'bout to get hurt.

So yeah, after brawling some more in the parking lot, Seth drove off.  This is what I figured was going to happen, as this feud is too hot to already have a match happen.  We'll get a real match, probably a street fight, or maybe because of this a parking lot brawl or an ambulance match, at Summerslam.  It'll be a big deal.  The fans wanna see Dean succeed in giving Seth the Sellout Rollins the beating he absolutely deserves.  I do too.

Verdict - A series of fun segments that didn't detract from anything, building to a bigger match

Chris Jericho shockingly beats Bray Wyatt in a grudge match

Yeah, it was stunning.  And a really good match.  They worked hard, especially Wyatt who was injured from a swollen and black eye.  Jericho returned, and immediately he and Wyatt are feuding.  You see, Jericho kind of does that.  He leaves for about 7 or 8 months, then comes up with a spot to return and someone to work with, then he returns to work with them.  He put Fandango over.  He put Ziggler over.  He put CM Punk over.  That's what he does, he returns and puts someone over.

And yet, here, Jericho got the win.  It was a weird finish, too.  Like it took too long and it was surprising that Wyatt would go down so hard from a Codebreaker.  But he did.  It was a physical brawl, with some good spots and was overall enjoyable.  Nothing to really write home about, and probably not the last of this feud, but good for what it is.

Verdict - Yup, pretty good.  Exactly as you could hope for, though no better than that.

The Miz wins the 20-Man Battle Royal for the vacant Intercontinental Title

This was a great match.  Lots of good little spots and interesting bits.  But I'm just going to bullet point some quick thoughts.

  • Xavier Woods is OF COURSE the first eliminated
  • Zack Ryder goes number 2.  Earned his paycheck, and I fear it may be his last.
  • Ryback looked strong
  • So did Heath Slater
  • Kofi does his Kofi spots before going out
  • Bo Dallas continues to be hilarious with his gimmick
  • Dolph Ziggler and Sheamus worked really hard to create a really strong finale, even if they didn't quite get on the same page for some of their moves
Great counter Sheamus. :/  That intended Canadian Destroyer would have been super cool.

  • The Miz?  Really?  REALLY?!  ARGH.  
The fans were so big on Sheamus and Ryback facing each other, and Sheamus and Ziggler going at it.  They wanted Ziggler to have his win so badly.  And Ziggler continues to work harder than anyone in the company in his matches.  Sheamus messed up two spots, most likely because he got his bell rung at some point and was just a little loopy trying to set up a fameasser and the Canadian Destroyer above.  But this is building to something with Sheamus and Miz, and hopefully something big for Ziggler.  Fingers crossed he gets to do something amazing soon, because he deserves it and is great at what he does.

Verdict - AWWWWWWESOME ... ok, not as good as the tag match, but I liked the pun.

Fatal 4-Way for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship - Cena won because spoilers

So this image went around the internets not too long after Payback:

More like Spoilerslam, amirite?

Yeah.  That basically ruins this match, huh?  Well, they still tried to really work on telling the story setting it up, and you know what, it worked.  Two good guys and two bad guys, but the good guys cannot get on the same page and the bad guys don't trust each other.  Ultimately, it really was every man for themselves.  Unfortunately, the match just didn't deliver.  

I'm going to say something some people may not like.  You ready?  Here we go: Roman Reigns is not ready for the position he is currently in.  He is doing fine on TV.  He can work a match.  But he is not ready for the main event.  And this match proved it.  He held back a lot, he wasn't comfortable on the mic, he needed guidance in the ring, and just couldn't go that extra step.  And when you add in Randy Borton, Getting-ready-to-retire Kane, and Cena (who is so awful there is no point in even giving him a silly nickname to show how terrible he is), you have a not very good combination.  Every story moment they had potential to show, like the face-off between our faces or Kane turning on Orton completely, the guys rushed.  They just didn't do a good job.  It was fine because it was moves and they had some exciting, if entirely arbitrary and planned out spots - and no, that is not "duh" because really great spots feel spontaneous, it is a basic rule in any kind of rehearsed medium: if it looks rehearsed, it falls flat; if it looks completely natural, it raises the quality of what you are watching.  Anyway.  Cena wins. 

And Wrasslor Monkey's sarcastic gif completely describes the feeling of this whole PPV.  It was just ... ok, and even though the card was stacked with what should have been great, it just could not deliver that, mostly because it needed to hold a bunch of things over for Summerslam, which is supposedly the WWE's second biggest show of the year (it isn't, the Rumble is).  And not only that, because of how the WWE Network is working, they want to stack the PPV after THAT so that people whose subscriptions are about to run out will re-subscribe.  Oh, and this match above didn't matter because of that spoiler poster at all.  Cena wasn't losing after holding the title for a single month.  No one believed it or as Bo Dallas says, BO-lieved it.

BO-lieve in trampling midget oxen.

Verdict - Ho hum, at best.

Well, I had a great time watching this with my friends, but that was mostly because of the friends.  The best match of the show was the tag match, with the Battle Royal with all its botches at a number 2.  I didn't think the show sucked, like a lot of reviews and others I've seen have said, but there was nothing here that is even worth me suggesting you watching the PPV other than the tag match.  *sigh*  Here's hoping Summerslam will do it better.

Oh yeah.  Welp, maybe Night of Champions.  *sigh*


IHAO on ... The Lookout - READER REQUEST

Requested by Jason Schmidt

So I'm a big ole idiot!  I've been sitting on this movie for a very long time.  I ordered it when it was requested of me, and even watched through the first act of it the day it came to my little townhouse right at 7:47 pm with the UPS guy.  It was the third part of the Joseph Gordon-Levitt triumvirate, with (500) Days of Summer and 50/50.  It didn't have a 5 in its title, so I was really hoping it was going to be better than those other films, both in quality and in my sheer enjoyment.  So yeah, I got through the first act, and then guests came over, so I paused it.  And I put it on hold.

Now, probably at least two months later, I finally get around to it because writing about Psych is making my eyes glaze over.  So I'm sitting here at 2am, finally getting around to doing something I should have down months ago, and I pop the Lookout into my blu-ray player.  The machine remembered exactly where I was and I was completely lost.  So let's start it back over from the beginning.  Or, as the movie suggests, I could just start at the end.

This movie is super good.  Super duper good.  The acting from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jeff Daniels in particularly make this film worth watching a hundred times over.  JGL finally has a character with some real meat on its bones, and he did phenomenally.  The music is haunting and beautiful.  The blu-ray menu is currently on and has been for probably 30 minutes as I write this review and re-draft it a few times.  

I was enthralled with the way the film watched him and how he lived.  He suffered from a major accident, and throughout the film deals with his head trauma.  The movie does not hold hands, and does a million little things perfectly.  The way he has to deal with things, the way his mind is healing, his relationship with his family and co-workers, how they are subtly discriminatory of him because of his handicap, yet then he proves that it is justified.  The hurt in JGL's eyes is real.  Act 1 and Act 3 of this movie is absolutely flawless.

Also there is a bank heist in the middle.

This is where the movie isn't very strong, its Act 2.  Its build up is slow, and even worse, boring.  The actors that play the thieves and the like, they are all not really up to snuff with the caliber of acting everyone else is bringing to this flick.  Our charismatic antagonist just isn't that charismatic.  Our love interest isn't that interesting.  Our bad ass second in command bad guy just isn't that bad ass.  I was watching a film I was really really loving, and then it gets bogged down adding an element I know it felt it needed, but all the build up for it is just so ... *yawn*.

Now, when Act 3 kicks around, and we get into the real crime aspects of the film, we are back in 5th gear.  Enjoyable, emotional, and really engaging.  But I had already lost a lot of interest and was staring at my tablet playing Disco Zoo, finding hats on my hippos and sending Wooly Mammoths to outerspace.  But Act 3 got me back in.

I really want to applaud the director/writer for his choices in a lot of this movie.  We do not have our hands held throughout the first and third acts.  We as the audience learn things through visual storytelling and sideways observation.  It is truly wonderful and engaging storytelling.  Act 2 we have characters just straight up say what they are thinking and asking each other for exposition for the most part, though within even that bad act of the film we have some great storytelling like in the first and third act.  

I really hate to do this, but this film is another B grade film for JGL.  Not for any wrong doing on his part, but for a very slow 30 or 40 minutes within the middle of this 99 minute movie.  But, do not fret, because JGL deserves a flippin' award for how well he does here.  Jeff Daniels does too.  We get so so much great stuff in most of the movie that it makes up for it.  And I do like this one, too!  It isn't trying to be quirky or betraying its best parts to focus on the uninteresting stuff.  I just wish I could have seen the movie about this character and his life without the feeling or necessity that the filmmaker had to also making it a crime film.  If THIS was what 50/50 was treated as, it would have been amazing.

I do suggest this though.  And I will continue my hunt to find a great JGL film.  Even his own film I gave a B.  But soon I'll find you, mystery A-grade JGL film.  I'll find you!!

This was the best whale-related gif I could find.  So ... yeah ... 

Grade: B+

We are a mere two weeks away from my amazing second rendition of Ask Me Anything!  Thank you everyone who has given me questions so far, but I absolutely NEED and MUST HAVE more!  So help me out, leave some questions in my ask box on Tumblr or in the comments here or on facebook or to my email or something.  Any question at all.  Everything and anything you want to ask will be answered, and the vast majority will be honest, and all will be entertaining.  Let's get this thing going, we only got half a month to do this thing!  WOOOOO!

IHAO on EVERYTHING, TOO on August 1st