30.6.14

IHAO on ... WWE Money in the Bank 2014

I'm back from a short hiatus.  Had a wedding, and a lot of groomsman-ing to do, teaching a bunch of amazing kids improv and a bunch of big improv shows, and a lot of fixing up a house and all sorts of other things that are neither here nor there.  But the time off has allowed me to get a bank together, and to maybe begin a new schedule.  IHAO is going to become Monday-Friday-ish.  I say "ish" because who knows how long I feel like continuing it like that.  But for now, it will allow me to keep the weekends for me, theatry stuff, and building up a bank.  But, let's get to the point ...

What time is it?!

It's WRASSLING TIME!!!



Last month, we had WWE Payback, and if you don't remember my thoughts ... they weren't great.  BUT the amazing Wrasslor Monkey is back, and I'm gonna use the fantastic gifs he made to have a lot more interactive wall of text than just standard ole wall of text.  Let's get this thing going!!

Kick-Off: Bo Dallas inspires Daniel Bryan

Daniel Bryan took a quick minute to address the fans.  It was nice to see him, to see his smile.  To see how much he loves the business, and loved the fans.  The most important thing was that he told us that his goals upon his return are for the title.  That might sound like standard stuff, but it could have been ignored entirely.  That determination helps me believe that despite the setback of his stripping of the title and the heel Authority spending every moment they can burying Daniel Bryan verbally, despite all that he will continue to stay on top.

Then Bo Dallas appeared to give some inspiration messages to Daniel Bryan, who quickly turns the fans on Bo, and that's the end.  Nice, simple, and it worked.  It also had an air of legitimacy, a sports-feeling, which is necessary in making wrestling special.  Nice way to open things.

The Usos retained the Tag Team Championship versus the Wyatts

We open with our tag team match.  It was a kicky-kick-doo-da of a match.  Dropkicks all over the place, smacks and kicks to every gut and head.  It was also a perfectly fine match.  I went in really expecting the Wyatts to take the gold (copper?) from the Usos, but the Usos retained.  I suspect the reasoning is to build the Usos as the lynchpin of the Tag Division.  It is pretty classic WWE thinking nowadays - pick a horse, and stick with it.  I was hoping to see the Wyatts, because I am much more interested in a contested tag division, one where teams traded wins and championships, much like how the glory days of the early 2000s were for the tag belts.  But that is neither here nor there.  I look forward to the Ascension coming and cutting everyone in half with the Fall of Man and YAHing their way to the Hall of Fame.

Look at that kick.  Harper is a BIG man to be flying at your face.

Verdict - Pretty strong opener


Paige retains the Divas Championship versus Naomi

Remember what I said about "lynchpin" in the tag division above?  Yeah, seems that the memo went around.  Paige has been a fighting champ, in that she keeps having matches, for the title, and keeps defending it.  She's been on every Special Event, and almost every episode of Raw or Main Event each week.  It has been nice, because Paige is fantastic at wrestling.  She does not waste time, she just tries to get into a really good match.

In fact, the best thing about THIS match is that it isn't a "Divas" match.  See, the term has had a terrible connotation for years.  But this was just a really solid championship match, featuring Divas.  The moves weren't always perfect, but the energy was there, the storytelling was there, and the ringwork was there.  

Paige just keeps getting better and better.  I ... I'm pretty sure I am crushin'.  Just like Naomi's head.  OOOOOOOOOOOHHH!!

Naomi is a very athletic and talented performer, and has easily been Paige's best opponent on the main roster so far.  Even better, there is a story brewing between Naomi and Cameron, her partner and butt-toucher.  And that is great news.  It shows a great trend for the Divas.  But I think I'll get to it later.  This match was fun, well-worked, and continues the trend of getting the Divas division to be a real one.  The fans knew what to expect now, and were onboard the entire time.  This was not a bathroom break, this was a real match on the card.  And that's awesome.

Verdict - I loved it, though I know it wasn't amazing or anything.  There is room to improve, and I cannot wait.


Damien Sandow continues to be punished by losing to Adam Rose dressed as Paul Revere


Exactly what the heading up there says.  Time was wasted to fill up the very thin PPV that didn't actually have a lot of stories brewing.  I'll talk more about that in a minute.  Oh, here's Sandow being kind of awesome.

Take that, easily spot-able spot.  You're welcome!

Verdict - Fast forward, and feel really bad for Sandow, who is being punished real hard.


Seth Rollins gets the briefcase

Money in the bank, let me be frank here, is a concept I do not care for.  It was created with an interesting set up in mind: a guy gets a contract he can actually use whenever he wants to get a match at any point for the title.  We then saw it basically work the exact same way every time its been used for the past nine years.  It isn't bad, I just do not care for it.  I wrote a lot about it during the Payback review, and I won't retread my steps much here, but I feel gimmick matches need to build to a story.  But the Money in the Bank story is just the same thing every time ... and it has gotten worse in the past few years.  But anyway, let's talk about THIS version.

You see, the glorious Dean Ambrose is out to get revenge on the backstabber Seth Rollins.  He was going to ruin the match when he didn't qualify until Seth told HHH to let him in to not ruin it.  You see, Seth turned on the Shield, breaking them up.  Roman Reigns is feuding with Triple H and the Authority specifically, but Dean has gone a bit screwy, and is focusing all his rage on Seth himself.  Beyond that ... there are also 4 other guys in the match.

There's a huge problem here.  There is only one story here to be told.  What could be the culmination or continuation of a lot of stories, with people crashing into each other, or new stories being made, it is just a spotfest match filled with good workers (and Jack Swagger) doing the job so that the real story can continue.  Why is that so bad?  Because it means that of the 6 people in the match (Wade Barrett got injured by Jack Swagger in real life and missed the PPV), only two matter in anyway.  So as much as I wanted to jump up and cheer and applaud when I watched RVD prove his credibility by just continually ruining Swagger, or the huge comeback the Ziggler made to almost win near the end, or Kofi ... jumping around ... I couldn't.  Because it didn't matter.  None of those guys had a single chance of winning, because the 'E only wanted to focus on the Seth/Ambrose story.  It is a good story, and they had some incredible spots ...

Fifteen foot superplex ... just wow.

But ultimately, there was no belief that anyone in the match could win it but them.  Even when Ambrose was sent to the back with a very real looking separated shoulder, it didn't matter, because Seth wasn't going to win like that, Ambrose was going to have to comeback.  

Now, knowing the outcome to a story isn't necessarily a killer.  I'm one who doesn't care about spoilers, because it is about how the story is told, how it reaches its culmination, that is where the art is.  That's where I get interested.  But then we have another small problem ... the way this match ended was just ... sad.  Kane came out for the Authority and cleared out Ambrose so that Seth could win.  *sigh*

It wasn't a bad ending.  Just a ... ho-hum, disappointing ending.  Shenanigans were not necessary, but they were inserted.  The idea is that it protects the good guy because he didn't lose clean.  But really, it just muddles the water.  And Kane has been ruining storylines since Daniel Bryan won the championship at Wrestlemania.  Deus Ex Kane.  It is boring.  So in a match that already was basically predicatable, they used an ending shenanigans that is super predicatable, and ultimately just deflated all the great work they did.  Everyone worked hard, but the actual story left me wanting.

Verdict - Pretty good  big ole spotfest that was mostly fun, but ended sad.


Goldust and Stardust defeated Rybaxel

So Cody kept losing, remember, and said he'd find Goldust a new partner.  That new partner is Stardust, who is Cody Rhodes, and is everything great.  And this match is perfectly fine.  My personal favorite part was when Ryback was getting into it, the fans started to chant for him "Feed Me More" like they used to ... and Ryback turned and smiled, yelling to them "I still got it!"  The pride he felt made me a mark again.  I remember why I liked the guy.  I hope he gets another chance now that his ego has been deflated some to try to ride back to the top as a big ole Babyface.

Also, Gorilla gimmick like when you were the Silverback, PLEASE!

The match just continued the story of Stardust, and his weirdness, and was perfectly fine.  Cody works crazy hard to be an entirely different wrestler, with an entirely different moveset as Stardust, which is fun.  It was another predicatable win in a PPV filled with predictable wins and no surprises.  But it was perfectly fine.

Verdict - Perfectly fine.  And I still love Ryback.  He should have won the 2013 Rumble.


Rusev did the same thing he always does to Big E

Rusev did the same thing he always does, this time to Big E.  Again.  Just like last month.  Sure, there was more "fervor," bigger flags, angrier Lana, and a longer match.  But who are we kidding.  This was exactly the same as last time.  

Verdict - Yawn.


Layla defeated Summer Rae to prove that Fandango chose the right dance partner

Summer Rae is a natural heel.  And there is no way we are going to believe she is a face.  They tried though.  This story is all about a besmirched ex trying to get back at her former partner and beau who has a new partner ... and failing.  Fandango got to oogle both girls as the ref, but Layla and Fandango shows their dominance, and Summer Rae was left crying after the lose, which was humanizing.

But if I may, let me talk about the fact that this is the FOURTH Divas storyline on this PPV.  We saw a regular old match with Paige and Naomi, we saw Cameron's reactions during the match that were heelish and backstabby though she hasn't completely turned on Naomi yet, we saw the Bellas dealing with Stephanie, continuing the firing angle we say at Payback, and we had this.  Yes, this match was more like your standard piss-break Divas match.  But look!  Four storylines for Divas.  That is a huge deal!  NXT has been doing great things with its Divas, and finally those kinds of things are moving up.  Yes, this match was shallow, vapid, and pointless, with very little worth ... except when you realize that it is another storyling on a PPV that has had three others, and all have been built up to continue beyond this in different ways.  I'm pretty excited about those facts.

Verdict - This match was worthless, but what it stands for is GREAT!


John Cena proves that the WWE is creatively bankrupt

I'm going to go through each of the participants in the match and just fantasy book a little bit on what could have happened with each one winning the main title that has been vacated by the evil Authority.


1) Randy Orton


Awesome RKO should go with the guy who did it.  Cesaro ... crap.  Ah well, it can live here.

The self-proclaimed face of the WWE once again on top of the food chain, the Authority's pick to win, their own horse in the race.  The Authority stands tall, Seth with the briefcase, Orton with the titles, and HHH smiling, the bad guys on top.  We now have insurmountable odds for our babyfaces feuding with those people, Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose ... as well as every good guy in the company to have to deal with an powerful force.  What's to stop them from going for the rest of the titles, to make sure everyone is where they need to be so that it is "Best for Business."  A dark ages where we need good guys to head to BATTLE(front) to see the dawn of a new age at Summerslam!

Not too particularly interesting, but a bold choice to build to the second biggest show of the year.

2) Sheamus

You got lots of options here: Sheamus, US champ, now holds two belts, making him the holder of three titles.  Solidify them all together, or perhaps a tourny to crown a new US champ, with Seth and Orton chasing down fan favorite brawler Sheamus to take the gold for the Authority.  OR ... what if Sheamus turned heel, joining the Authority himself right at the end of the match by blasting all the good guys and shaking HHH's hand.  Now it is similar to above ... except they have one more title under their control!  

Something different, and shocking, and would make people tune in to Raw, certainly.

3) Bray Wyatt

Bray Wyatt has done it.  The Authority has their own problems, but Bray Wyatt does indeed hold the Whole World (Heavyweight Championship) in his hands.  A new star is officially born, a man who doesn't care about the fans, who doesn't care about the company, and only cares about himself.  A shocking, new main eventer is here, and on top of the world.  

Now that would be awesome.

4) Kane

Orton is out.  Kane is here to make sure the Authority has their title ... but he has to win it to keep it.  But no one in the Authority is happy about it.  Maybe Kane rebels, his friendship with Daniel Bryan coming back and bringing him his humanity.  Kane might not be the most exciting champion, but the story is interesting.  Also, this gif is from earlier, but it is hilarious, as the refs get Zeb Colter out of the way from Kane's "secret" pyros from going off before he makes sure Rollins wins.


5) Cesaro

The King of Swing, now the King of the World!  Paul Heyman would have a field day with his client ... but then Brock Lesnar comes back for Summerslam.  Who does Heyman support?   There is a built in story here already, and it spreads out the stories away from the Authority, who are already dealing with Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose.  Cesaro has reached the top, even if for only a month or two before Heyman turns on him to help BROCK LESNAR win the ultimate prize.

6) Alberto Del Rio

When has this guy been relevant?  2011 and that's it.  Look at him.

He's basically heel Santino.

Where the hell does the story go from here?!  I might not like Del Rio in the slightest, but the world that wrestling would be leading to Summerslam with a Del Rio here is crazy!  One I wouldn't mind seeing where it was going.

7) Roman Reigns

He did it!  He took his place at the top, another babyface who has defied the Authority.  He was even supported by Daniel Bryan earlier.  Reigns fights through the Authority, just as Bryan did ... but what happens when Bryan returns?  How does the Authority deal with the Samaon Superman?  This is the happy ending the fans want, without a doubt, built upon since the Royal Rumble this year ... hell, since Survivor Series last year!  The new era continues as the new stars continue to rise!!

8) Any combination of two

Look, there are two belts up there.  Have any two competitors get the belts.  We need to solidify them, permanently.  Melt down the two belts to finally debut a brand new, single WWE Heavyweight Championship, crowned at Summerslam?  Or Battleground?  What if it is ... Cesaro and Cena?  Would Rollins immediately cash-in so that the Authority can try to make sure they win?  What if Del Rio and Orton?  What if Cena and Orton?  Yeah, that last one is boring ... but at least this outcome would be intersting ... instead of ... 

9) John Cena

Cena not only won this match, and became the big title holder AGAIN.  But he also got the final word on the Authority, as he was the only one who could take out Kane and Orton.  I just ... I have no words.  This disappoints me more than angers me.  I just don't know what to do.  I've talked about Cena so much I just don't have more to say.  That's not true, I have a lot to say.  But what's the point?  No one is listening.  Cena will continue to dominate everyone and make every story about him.  

I went into this match knowing Cena would win.  And wanting anyone else.  Even worse, the Summerslam poster got spoiled a few days ago, showing Cena doing just this thing to set up his boring Summerslam feud.  I just ... last time I talked about comparing Cena's matches with the Rock's with his feud with Mankind.  I challenge you to go check out the last few years of Shawn Michaels career in the WWE, after he returned from his almost career ending injury.  Look how he was used.  And you can spot a huge difference, even though Cena is in a similar spot as Michaels.  

We had the chance to do something interesting.  Instead, we get more of the same.  This meme summed it up perfectly on tumblr:

Check out memegene.net, by the way.  Pretty hilarious.  Tell them I sent you!

 Verdict - a bunch of interesting stories that all died on their way to deliver the same old predictable garbage WWE almost always produces.

We finished the Special Event over here at my place, and the most poignant perfect summation came from one of my roommates: "Every match was perfectly fine, and every finish was terrible."  Yup.

Thank God for NXT.

See you at Battlegrounds.

11.6.14

IHAO on ... Orphan Black



I've stated it before, but it is hard to give grades to television series.  Each individual episode has a slightly different hand at the tiller, be it because of different writers, different directors, time restraints, whatever.  It means that each episode fluctuates on the scale.  Some episodes I love, some episodes I hate, and to just take the number I love and the number I hate and average them is not going to give an accurate read of the series.  So bear with me as I talk, spoiler-free-ish, about the show, and how it has overtaken the viewing habits of my life.

I bought series 1 (ten episodes) at Target for 22.99.  I would have gotten the blu-ray hands down if I had seen it there, and really wish I had.  But I picked it up on a whim.  I thought I'd eventually get to it.  But I was busy torturing myself, so I just didn't have time, not until I needed breaks from putting together the Batman review.  I decided that day to put it in, since the other shows I was watching I was not watching alone.  And I ... man this show is hard to talk about.

Ultimately, I'm entranced.  I must no more.  The mysteries of this show have me hooked.  And a lot of the technicals of the show are amazing.  The cinematography, in particular, is amazing.  As is the acting of our lead, Tatiana Maslany.  Her skills are exquisite.  She is phenomenal.  Other character I love, but they leave and enter importance in varying amounts, but my two favorite supporting male leads are Jordan Gavaris and Matt Frewer, who I will talk about again in a few days; trust.

The central premise is that Sarah, a punk and degenerate who is a mother, is coming back town to see her daughter, run away from an abusive ex, and sell the cocaine she stole from him.  She meets with her foster brother, who is her rock through out all the crazy.  What crazy?  Well, the show opens with her getting of the subway, seeing a woman who looked just like her, though in different clothes, throw herself in front of the train, committing suicide.  And Sarah ... steals that strangely identical woman's identity.  And from there, gets embroiled in a lot she never could have seen coming.

The show is nervewracking.  One evening I was even so tense and terrified that noises outside made me double lock, double check, and re-double lock the doors.  Nothing about the show is "horrific", but it is all tense and thrilling, filled with mystery and suspense.  Some people may harp on the science fiction nature of the show, but I personally find that to be backdrop, mere setting for the real emotional and psychological story going on, which is a great way to do science fiction, by the way.

The hardest part is knowing if I can suggest this to anyone.  It is almost a judgment call that each person needs to make for themselves.  The show curses some, is disturbing pretty often, is tense and thrilling always, is hilarious rarely but truly hilarious when it is, incredibly well acted, beautiful, and a nail-biter that leaves you craving more.  Those are all things that are generally considered good, but lemme point out a few of the "negatives."  This show does not have levity often.  When it does, it is normally very dark levity, and is ultimately actually not levity at all.  Either that, or it is just a throw away line here or there to keep you from being upset.  And while the few actors I mentioned before are amazing, you get a feeling from the rest of the crew that they are not the best money can buy, but they sure are affordable.  That may be a bit harsh, and no one puts in distracting or bad performances.  But some roles are incredibly one-dimensional.

If anything I said sounds interesting, or if you want more information, let me know, or just go find it yourself.  I will be rewatching it soon with others, and that will be an ... interesting situation.  And I will be doing everything in my power to get the second season ASAP.

This gif is not relevant.  Merely funny.  I wanted to lighten the mood.

10.6.14

IHAO on ... Free Birds

Thank goodness.  Torture-Jessel-A-Thon was a rousing ... well, I dunno, I enjoyed it.  I found two films that were generally worth having and sharing, and got to vent about a bunch of terrible ones.  But now it is time to show the other side of the past week.  That's right, I do not just watch the things I am about to write about and then write about them.  I also do other things, mostly because as an insomniac and a lazy sod, I have a lot of time on my hands.  So this week I'm going to go over the things I did to save myself from the horrors of last week's torture.  A few IHAFs will be coming down the pipeline, I'm sure of it.  So stay tuned.  Now, on to a new movie to review!



Netflix, you bring me such wonderful toys.  I get to just set my sights on things and decide "yes I'll watch them" and then I tell you how much I hate them or love them, and then you bring me more things which I can absorb, chew up intellectually and spit out or swallow, and the cycle continues.  Of course, you aren't a perfect system.  And sometimes, gross bits of bones and gristley bits get thrown in with what should be good.  If you are not understanding what I mean by this, Free Birds sucks.

*sigh* I thought the torture would be over, but no.  In my own respite, I just ended up torturing myself, all alone, in the middle of the night, as I tried to write a review about Popeye.  Imagine the pain, the agony ... ok, well, you are imagining too much.  I suppose I shouldn't have worded it like that.  Let's stop with all this frivolous extra fluffy bits and get right to the crunchy review.

Free Birds is a 3D children's adventure film about turkeys, time travel, and saving Thanksgiving.  A few things to keep in mind.  1) This was intended for children, not to entertain adults the whole time, and certainly not to engage anyone in the politicals of Thanksgiving times.  Don't get hung up on the fact that time travel is not used on a better purpose, like saving the Indians from their years of abuse because of expansionist Soverign doctrine of the state, or stopping the Holocaust, or making sure Justin Bieber never found youtube.  This was all contrived on its simple pitch: turkeys travel to the first thanksgiving and save all turkeys.  2) Children's movies also should be good, with high quality, good scripts, excellent film making, and everything else you judge and critique films on.  Just being a genre made for the young doesn't mean you are allowed to make crappy work.  There are great children's films just like there are bad ones.  Free Birds is a bad one.

Plot.  Cowardly, quirky, nerdy turkey is screwed by everyone he knows, then rewarded.  He then gets forced to do a thing he doesn't want to do, and gets rewarded.  He then allows a mistake to happen, blames himself even though it isn't his fault, runs away from his problems, and gets rewarded.  Then he brings pilgrims pizza with blatant Chuck E. Cheese advertising, and changes time forever, except not enough that he alters the future so that none of it happens.  End with an implied rape joke.

I can't decide if I want to use this as just an "implied rape" wave or a broader "inappropriate joke" wave.  Either way, Tosh would have improved this movie.

This movie isn't good.  And even worse, its morals, the thing that makes a kids film worth watching, are atrocious.  Not only that, the film is shoddy.  The animation is awful.  Like, Shrek 1 awful.  Truly terrible designs and horrifyingly bad skin on all the humans, who are in a not small part of this film.  It is crazy to me that the movie came out last year and looks like this.

Even worse than that, the comedy is just not.  It isn't comedy.  It is failed attempts at making jokes.  It is sad, really.  Even the one good joke they used in the trailer they ruin with a 30 second laughing montage with everyone laughing at their own jokes.  Characters are generally terrible or at best, dumb.  And not in a good Rocky way, either.  In a "I forgot what I was doing three seconds ago" "I'm a goldfish" kind of way.  And not a single voice actor seems like they are trying in the least ... except for Keith David, who can no wrong.

I will give the movie this.  There is a sequence that is pretty great where Woody Harrelson's turkey escapes the factory he is from, trying to save all the turkey eggs given to him as their last hope, but he just can't do it, and the film genuinely treats this moment with some weight.  Harrelson doesn't care enough to act any more than the minimum, so there isn't any emotional weight for the character, but it is nice that it is there.  Also, unlike Happy Feet, this movie doesn't choke you in its environmental message.  It knows it has one, but wants to stay true to its silly premise more than doing that.  And I can get behind that.  Oh, and it never once played Freebird.  Way to go not falling to peer pressure.

Yup, sounds about right.  I am really not into southern rock.

But yeah, this movie is bad.  What a way to start my week off of torture.  See you soon with some more.

Grade: F

9.6.14

IHAO on ... Tim Burton's Batman

/\// tOrtUrE-jEssEl-A-thOn \\/\


I knew this day would come.  I knew that at some point, doing this site, I was going to have to finally start talking about a film that I hold a polar opposite view point of than the entire world, it seems.  Or almost.  I don't mean to be defensive or use hyperbole here, but ... you know what, there's not point in postponing the torture any longer.  It's time for me to destroy one of the absolute worst, most awful, poorly acted, poorly directed, terribly adapted superhero movies of all time ... 

Tim Burton's Batman.  Oh yeah, you heard me.


Rotten Tomatoes - Critics 71% ; Audience 84%
Flickchart - 222 of 28311 i.e. in the top ... just look at it, you figure it out
IMDB - 7.6 rating
Metacritic - 66
Amazon.com - 4.4 stars

I have made no attempts to hide this in my life, but let me state it out and be perfectly clear: I love comic books; I love superheroes; and I love movies.  Man comic fans get up in arms about adaptation.  Adaptation is a tricky subject.  You want to stay true to your source, but create something new.  As long as the film is made well, I'm not looking for an exact copy of the comic.  I'm looking for the characters to be true to themselves, even if the plots and details differ some.  The Marvel films have proven that there is a lot of room to make a good film in all sorts of different genres based around comic book superheroes.

And yes, I'm perfectly willing to admit that part of the reason I have such a deep abiding hate for this movie is because I don't hear people talking about this movie badly at all.  I don't hear anyone point out any of the things I will below, not a single thing.  They just laugh it all off and say it is fine and even better, GREAT, and even worse, BETTER THAN BATMAN RETURNS WHICH IS A BOLD-FACED LIE IF I'VE EVER SEEN ONE!  The only thing that keeps Batman fresh in the minds of those who defend it are nostalgia goggles, in my opinion.  It makes me feel like I'm ... well, here, I'm just play the gif.

Says it all.

Now, this is a rewritten script, so the format will be a little different, as it is much more linear as it goes through its points.  But the points are solid, and no matter the bombast or vehement disagreement I have with the popular opinion, I hope you enjoy the rundown regardless.  Ok, no more disclaimers, let's get on with it.

The movie opens, and we are introduced to some unknown family and their poor luck with taxis.  Their luck continues to spiral downwards as they enter an alley for some reason, it doesn't make a lot of sense but whatever.  Luckily, Batman was hanging out, watching this specific alley for plot-convenience purposes.  We get some dumb criminals, some really obvious product placement, and finally Batman.  But enough of that, we need to focus on other stuff in this Batman movie.  Over the next handful of scenes we are introduced to our time wasting non-Batman side-characters that don't actually factor into the plot in any way but are given screentime anyway.  These "characters" - more one dimensional story fillers, like packing peanuts or fondant - populate the entire film.  Let's run down the list.  We got Newsreporter Guy, Fat Cop, Commissioner Gordon, the Mayor, a severely unfortunate misuse of potential in Harvey Dent, Joker's henchman Bob.  And the worst offender, Vicki Vale, for much different reasons.

Vicki Vale is not only a poor excuse for a shoehorned love interest slash sex appeal slash damsel in distress, but she serves as an audience proxy.  What is an audience proxy you ask?  Lemme lay some fat learning on you.  An audience proxy is a poorly written excuse of a "character" that lazy writers add to films and television shows so that the audience watching it learns information about characters and setting "organically." The audience proxy learns something at the pace the audience is supposed to learn it.  A lot of tv shows have them, you know the new kid who is the lead character now.  Torchwood has one with Gwen Cooper, who ALSO ends up being a Mary Sue until later seasons.  Oh, here's a good one.  John Myers from Hellboy, who was such a waste of space that he was written out entirely in the sequel thank goodness.  Sometimes an audience proxy can be useful, such as making a relate-able character, think Big Bird who stands for all the children watching Sesame Street.  Vicki Vale is NOT a relate-able character that we can gravitate to, though.  Ugh.

All right, I cannot put it off any longer, let's talk about Nicholson.  He's playing Jack Napier, who becomes the Joker and BAH ALREADY this is off to a stupid start.  In the comics, the Joker is a force of nature, a never to be understood mystery, an element that exists because Batman exists, a shadow created by his mere presence.  He is the total lack of control to Batman's "10 steps ahead."  That is why they are so compelling as arch-nemeses.  Joker's origin has never been revealed in the comics, and never will be, only false leads and lies left about.  For good reason: knowing who the Joker is ruins the Joker!

Not only that, Burton handles the creation of the Joker as deftly as a log rolling down a hill.  We see Napier playing with playing cards.  All the other bad guys make stupid loaded jokes and lines like "You look funny."  Ugh, why do we see Joker's origin?  This movie is upside-down and backwards.  Batman, our protagonist (supposedly) just appears and we have to learn all our information about him through stupid awful Vicki Vale in a passive way, where as they dynamic story and character development is given to Jack Napier.  And that doesn't even begin to talk about how Nicholson actually sucks at playing the role!

There's no way around it, this isn't the Joker.  This is Nicholson in makeup.  He is never really "the Joker," he's always just Jack Nicholson AS the Joker.  Look how successfully Heath Ledger inhabited the role in The Dark Knight.  The Joker was everything I was saying he should be above: a force of nature.  Or look to Mark Hamill, reinventing the character and getting lost in the role for the animated series and games.  It takes some huge, enormous overacting and ego to top the already outrageous character that is the Joker, and Nicholson does everything he can to chew up all the scenery and completely drown the character in his presence.  People who defend this movie want you to only remember the Joker that electrified random gangster guy with the super hand-buzzer, but completely ignore all the overacting that is in no way shape or form believable or even EARNED.

Speaking of terrible casting, I sure am glad [note: read this as "am very unhappy "] that instead of casting someone with gravitas, they just went with Keaton and then added a whole bunch of terrible comedy schtick for him to do as Bruce Wayne.  Comedy is NECESSARY for establishing the characteristics of Bruce Wayne [note: read this as "waste of time, out of place, and tonally dissonant to the film."]  Terrible comedy seems to be a necessity of this script, with non-jokes and fumbling and bumbling, not to mention all the garbage Nicholson does.  Michael Keaton is a mindboggling casting.  Did you know he was cast for his quote "edgy, tormented quality."  Nah, he was cast because Tim Burton + Keaton = Beetlejuice = big money, repeat the process.  Hmm, sound family to Burton's modus operundi now, except with Depp and Helena Garbage Carter.  Now, looking back and including Batman Returns, it really is true, Keaton is an excellent Batman, but I would dare say that beyond looking fine in the suit, he doesn't prove he's capable of pulling off the character until Batman Returns.

So let's get back to talking about the plot.  The plot is swiss cheese.  Absolutely riddled with plot holes so big you could drive your I don't care about finishing this analogy.  How does a bullet defy all rules of physics and ricochet around like it does in the chemical plant?  What chemicals ARE those, anyway?  How does Jack get into the river after falling into a closed off vat?  Is the film expecting me to believe that there is a drain large enough to have a man fit through it at the bottom of a vat of chemicals?  The chemical tank doesn't get refilled or anything, it is sitting stagnant, so if there was a drain that big that lead to the river, the entirety of the vat would be in the river, and we'd have a Gotham FILLED with Jokers.

And after all that, we are back with the stupid reporters, where Vicki Vale tells them she has a date with Bruce ... which doesn't make any sense in the timeline since not 12 hours have passed since the last scene, which was Batman in the chemical plant.  When the HELL did they set up the date?  It wasn't when they were talking even earlier at the party.  Looks like we get to just see important things FEATURING OUR PROTAGONIST happen off screen I guess.  This movie needs a name change to "Plucky Reporters That Do Stuff That Is Ultimately Inconsequential To The Plot!"  And then the electrocution scene happens.


This scene is a reference to the above, and just like everything else, doesn't tonally match the movie at all.  This film was created in an era with the Killing Joke and The Dark Knight Returns having just hit comics stands.  Those were the inspirations, supposedly, for the movie.  So let's take some of the old hokey tv stuff and lampoon it and make it dark and edgy!  That's how you make a compelling Joker, not by USING THE COMICS BOOKS YOU ARE SUPPOSEDLY INSPIRED BY TO INFORM THE CHARACTER!  And how in the ever-burning hell did he even get the hand buzzer?  Let alone the fact that it just doesn't make sense as a thing that could exist, we can put that aside because we are in a world with chemical treatments from hell and a dude wearing bulletproof rubber that is designed to look like a bat.  No, I can put aside the science.  But when did he even have the TIME to get it!?  It has been MAYBE 2 days since the chemical accident, at least 1 full day of which he spent crawling his way to get emergency surgery!  ALSO, if you have a handheld electrocuting buzzer, USE IT ON BATMAN YOU IDIOT!  WHY DO YOU NEVER USE IT AGAIN!?

This movie constantly does this garbage.  He has a boxing glove set up to smash his TV in his hideout just in case the news says something that mildly upsets him.  WHAT THE HELL!?  How in the hell did he set that up in 2 days?!  Was that his normal hideout?  Was it already decked out with Joker stuff before hand?!  IT HAS BEEN 2 DAYS!!! Two days to get a superpowered electrocution ring the he NEVER USES AGAIN, as well as set up his henchmen in matching outfits, buy new suits, and set up a boxing glove to punch the tv JUST IN CASE!!!  IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE!!!!

Let me go bitch about a different character, to shake things up.  Now in the movie, Vicki Vale is stalking Bruce Wayne, but that is totally ok because she's the love interest so this doesn't raise any concern or suspicion or anything.  And Bruce Wayne, you know, BATMAN, doesn't notice this extremely obvious high heeled stalker at all.  PLUS, how can she not know about the Wayne's tragedy?  Even if she is new in town, THIS IS A BIG DEAL?!  The Waynes owned a HUGE organization and were TRAGICALLY MURDERED orphaning their son.  This is NATIONAL NEWS kind of stuff, and SHE WORKS AT A NEWSPAPER IN THE SAME TOWN IT HAPPENED IN!!!!  ARGH!!

Let's just keep going ... to the museum scene.  You know, Joker and his henchmen come in and spray paint things, "hilariously" to music.  See normally, people crap on this kind of shameless and out of place music video section in a film.  Kids films would do it all the time in the last 80s, early 90s.  It is utter garbage and has no place but to stop the narrative flow to a HALT just to establish ... nothing.  Nothing is established, we already know that Jack is crazy and that his henchmen, who are 0% crazy, are all willing to just do whatever.  But oh no, in Batman this scene is great and fun!  Screw you, people who say that, it is just as out of place and disruptive as it is in EVERY movie that does it.

Oh, hey, who remembers the completely inconsequential, incredibly convoluted sub-plot poisoning scheme that wasted some time in the middle of the movie?  Yah, I see a few hands, but I would wager that a LOT of people completely forgot those scenes even happened.  I certainly didn't until I tortured myself into watching this again.  And hey, guess how this little waste of time ends?  With Joker blowing up his TV.  What, you didn't want to reset the punching glove machine you have BUILT FOR THIS SINGULAR PURPOSE, DESTROYING YOUR OWN TELEVISIONS?!  ARGF@IFJ@vRIjvrv30v8h3n!!!!

I am getting genre whiplash from every single scene being so out of place tonally with the rest of the film, especially scenes with Vicki Vale.  Like the scene where Bruce is going to tell Vicki his secret identity.  Wait, what?!  REALLY?!  This is the most out of character garbage yet for Bruce!  He's known Vicki for how long ... 2 weeks?  A month?  You know what, maybe a year has passed, I don't know!  There is absolutely no sense of time passing in this film, it is just all crammed together.  Luckily, Jack stops Bruce from sharing his identity.  Think about that.  The villain of the film stops the hero from ruining his identity.  Something here is TERRIBLY wrong.  Oh, and we get ...


What a terrible stupid addition to this already terrible and stupid movie.  You do not need to make things PERSONAL between Batman and Joker to make us care.  It is absolutely unnecessary and just lazy screenwriting.  You know what would make us care at all?  If we actually were watching this movie from BATMAN'S PERSPECTIVE NOT DAMNED VICKI VALE'S!!!  The scene ends with Bruce shot a bunch, but he's immune to bullets so whatever.  Soon Vicki does learn Batman's identity, and the film finally shifts focus to actually following and being about Batman.  We no longer need an audience proxy, so get rid of her, turn her into a damsel, and we can focus on the hero.  You know, like we should have been in the first place!  Too little too late.

The movie stumbles to a finale through parades and stupid guns and Batman firing a MILLION bullets and rockets, as well as shameless pandering, and then a bunch of non-fights where Batman throws no punches in the clocktower, people just jump to their death, eliminating themselves.  Including Joker.  And finally it is over.

This film is a mish-mashed, uneven, unfocused frivolous piece of nostalgia that cannot hold up to even the slightest but of scrutiny from a discerning, objective eye.  And it is very hard to be objective considering how much I utterly hate the film, too.  And you know what, that is crazy unfortunate, because Tim Burton had a really strong eye for theme and vision as a director that has slowly chipped away and evolved into the caricature of a career he currently has.  Look at the far superior adaptation made by Burton, Batman Returns.  It is focused, driven, has a strong plotline, great characters, and while the focus may not be on Batman in that film either, that is by design.  Keaton requested lines and scenes cut from the script to showcase the villains and make a darker world.  And they didn't shoehorn in another audience proxy/love interest.  I'll defend Batman Returns to my dying day, to my final breath.

Later down the timeline, you get the Schumaker films and then the Nolan ones.  You look back and you see the West era.  All of those films, regardless of how good or bad they are, are focused.  This movie is a mess, cannot tell a good story, is filled with terrible or pointless characters, is filled with overacting and terrible dialogue, all of the "action" in this movie is the pits ... Tim Burton's Batman fails in every conceivable way I can think to grade it.  The only good thing I have to say about this movie at all is that thank goodness it happened, so that other superhero movies could be seen as profitable and get made.  This movie made a whole heap of money.  Oh oh oh, the main theme is also really good.  The rest of the music is completely forgettable, but the main theme is great.  Those things do not make Tim Burton's Batman stop sucking, though.


Grade: F---
  • June 3rd – Gigli (from Rachel Runion)  Grade: C
  • June 4th – Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (from Joel Gould)  Grade: D--
  • June 5th – Lenny the Wonder Dog (from Jason Schmidt)  Grade: F+
  • June 6th – The Cat in the Hat (from Josh Hendricks)  Grade: F---
  • June 7th – The Cat from Outer Space (from Nicole Clockel)  Grade: B+
  • June 8th – Popeye (from Drew Turner)  Grade: F--
  • June 9th – Tim Burton's Batman  Grade: F---
Oh, and one more thing.  When discussing Batman you eventually get down to "who is the best Batman?"  So I'll do this real quick: Keaton is the best singular Batman, Val Kilmer is decent all around, Clooney is a good Bruce Wayne only, Bale is ridiculous everywhere, Adam West is Adam West, and the only REAL Batman is Kevin Conroy.  But that's just my opinion.

BONUS GRADES:

Batman Returns ........................... Grade: A++
Batman Forever ............................... Grade: C
Batman and Robin ......................... Grade: F+
Batman Begins ................................. Grade: B
The Dark Knight ............................... Grade: A
The Dark Knight Rises ................... Grade: D--
Batman the Movie .......................... Grade: D+
Batman Mask of the Phantasm ..... Grade: A++
Batman Under the Red Hood .......... Grade: B+

8.6.14

IHAO on ... Popeye

/\// tOrtUrE-jEssEl-A-thOn \\/\



Rotten Tomatoes - Critics 57% ; Audience 38%
Flickchart - 3778 of 28311 i.e. in the top five percent
IMDB - 5.1 rating
Metacritic - 48
Amazon.com - 4.0 stars

Popeye the sailor man *toot toot* is a particularly famous character, with perhaps the most famous forearms of any person or character, and 100% the most famous eating habits to provide him with his heroic powers.  Robin Williams *toot toot* is a particularly famous character, with perhaps the most famous obnoxious comedy career of any person or character, and 100% the most famous changing-funny-characters-in-kids-movies habits provided by his villainous pop culture powers.  Shelley Duval *toot toot* is a particularly famous actress, with perhaps the most famous tall stretched-like-Gumby body of any woman or character, and 100% is the only actress who could have played Olive Oyl.

I'm going to stop doing that.  I'm just wasting time.  I don't care how good the stats up there say this movie is.  Popeye sucks.

Goodnight.  I'm done.

What?  What do you want me to say?  After this whole week, after all the garbage I've had to sit through, you want me to actually give some kind of care in the world about the point-by-point analysis of one of the worst musicals I've ever seen in my life?  Why?  Why do you care?  You knew the movies I was reviewing this week were going to be terrible.  That's why they were suggested.  Why did I even do this to myself at all?

You know what, I got my pride.  I got my dignity.  I got my drive to actually make something of myself in the world through my writing and my critiquing of films suggested to me and that I search out for the entertainment and inform-ment of the masses ... of 30ish people that read this site.  Fine, I'll do it.

First things first, the production design is really cool.  They built a whole city on the cliffs, complete with working ships of fabulous design and all sorts of working parts and interesting, cartoony visuals.  The costuming and hair and make up for everyone is really awesome, too.  They all look like actually living cartoon characters, and when the film does little tiny moments of cartoonism, it works sometimes, mostly on the strength of the designs.  And every now and again, a joke works.  Not every joke.  Not even most jokes.  Some jokes.  But finding those good jokes is like searching for M&Ms in a bowl filled with flour ... with your mouth.

And that's all.  That's the end of the good things in this movie.  I couldn't even make it through the single paragraph in this review dedicated to good things about Popeye without pointing out its blandness and badness.  I ignored the part about how bland and boring all the color schemes are.  Everything is in browns and blues, and it just looks like mud and dirt and water and every now and again somewhere wears red.  It is maddeningly bland.

There is not a story, but a serious of happenings.  Popeye arrives.  Olive Oyl breaks her engagement.  They find a baby.  They go to the tracks.  Popeye wins a boxing match.  They meet Popeye's lost father.  Bluto captures Olive Oyl.  Popeye fights an Octopus.  Nothing segues from one thing to the next.  They just happen, with uninteresting, uninspired, boring and repetitive musical numbers mixed in.  You'd think with the energy and fervor of Popeye cartoons, that some of that would translate.  You'd think with the supposedly amazing group of people working on this film, it would be good.  But its award winning director, cinematographer, writer, and composer all just look like amateurs.  This movie makes it look like they just do not know what they are doing.  AT ALL.

The musical nature of the film is an after thought, which even the movie doesn't care about, so why the hell should I?  Characters constantly talk over the musical numbers, or other things are happening while people are singing and dancing.  Not high tempo singing and dancing though.  This movie must think it is in a backwards musical variation of Speed: if the tempo of a song goes above 60 bpm (beats per minute) then everyone in the audience will die in an explosion.  I wish I had.

Actually, can I be the guy on the motorcycle?  Also, this movie?  Gonna get a review soon.  It's nuts.

Ok, that isn't true.  I don't wish death on myself.  Or really on anyone in the movie.  The actors don't do a bad job of embodying the characters, and all have little bits and quirks to make them be more cartoony.  But the film itself doesn't care about that.  There's no focus given to any of it.  Everything is played basically straight, which brings everything down.  It takes all the vim and vinegar, all the lock, stock, and barrel, all the song and dance, all the FUN out of the movie.  This film is mirthless, and unenjoyable.  I don't hate it as much as I've hated other films ... but I certainly do hate it.  And it is absolutely terrible.

Grade: F--
  • June 3rd – Gigli (from Rachel Runion)  Grade: C
  • June 4th – Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (from Joel Gould)  Grade: D--
  • June 5th – Lenny the Wonder Dog (from Jason Schmidt)  Grade: F+
  • June 6th – The Cat in the Hat (from Josh Hendricks)  Grade: F---
  • June 7th – The Cat from Outer Space (from Nicole Clockel)  Grade: B+
  • June 8th – Popeye (from Drew Turner)  Grade: F--
  • June 9th – SURPRISE JESSEL'S ALMOST-MOST HATED MOVIE!!
And look at that, tomorrow we get to the surprise review.  I hope you are excited, because I bet I'll be making a bunch of you angry!!  See ya tomorrow!

7.6.14

IHAO on ... The Cat From Outer Space

/\// tOrtUrE-jEssEl-A-thOn \\/\


Rotten Tomatoes - Critics n/a ; Audience 59%
Flickchart - 5265 of 28311 i.e. in the top ten percent
IMDB - 5.9 rating
Metacritic - n/a
Amazon.com - 4.6 stars

Another cat film.  So soon.  Oy vey.  I dunno if I can handle it.  But I have to.  The reviews must go on!  Let's stick this puppy ... kitty in and get going.  The stats are at least better than the last few.  Actually ... they are way better.  What's the big idea?  Is this going to not be torturous?!  Dare I have an actual good movie to watch this week to break up the crash and burn to the bottom of the film trash heap?  I'm excited!

The Cat From Outer Space is a family science fiction-ish film made by Disney in 1978.  And it is filled with a lot of amazing actors from the time, many I was surprised to recognize.  Thank goodness for The Muppet Show.  The schtick is that a spaceship lands and needs repairs, and the alien is a cat.  But the military are on the scene immediately, and take the ship.  They then gather scientists to figure it out, which leads to three scientists helping the cat, affectionately named Jake, to send him off, but some secret bad guy group wants his power!  Everything is good by the end, we are reaffirmed that America is indeed great, and we go home happy.

The special effects are what you expect from a late 70s film ... actually, that's not fair.  That leads that I think the effects are bad.  And they aren't, most of them are really great.  Sure, I can see the composites easily, and in HD I can spot all the wires, but that doesn't really make them bad.  Merely ... authentic, more time capsule and enjoyable than a mistake.  And the effects that works are superb.  There is a surprising amount of stunt work, and all of it is awesome.  I was on the edge of my seat for the finale for the most part.

The acting is all earnest, and the actors all inhabit their characters and do a great job.  They were all believable and funny, serious when need be, but mostly just having a good time, and that's great.  The cat was an incredible actor, too.  Not often do you see such a good acting animal in film.  The music is pretty awesome too.  It hit all the right notes, musically and tonally, and almost always helped drive the action and the scenes forward.  The script was also very tight.  It told a story with a bunch of competent characters, being competent, trying to solve problems.  The characters were written well, the dialogue made sense, the jokes were right on point.  Really great.

So why don't I love this movie?

But ... but, you said all the good things ... I don't understand.

A few reasons I can think of, I suppose.  The film clocks in at 104 minutes.  That isn't too long, now that we've had Jacksonian "epics" shoved down our throats for years.  But for this film, even with the plotting being so tight, it lead to ... space.  Each scene had a little bit of just extra ... space in it.  It's like every scene was bloated, every action and series of shots need some trimming.  So the movie starts to drag.  And the very climactic finale, with amazing plane and helicopter stunts and a daring rescue ... all starts falling flat after you keep watching the same thing for 3 minutes.

This film was suggested with the conceit that it may actually be good, but it put that reader to sleep when they watched it.  And I get that.  The tension, while being there, is never really cranked up.  The music doesn't stand out or get my heart going.  Every obstacle is overcome with a smile and a laugh, and in act 3 many of them are just bypassed entirely, like entering the base, or in Act 1 when escaping the base and how easy that turns out to be.  The movie never really cranks itself up into that next gear, and that plus the fatted scenes make it just kind of waddle along.  Enjoyably waddle, but nonetheless it takes awhile.

Also, there is a whole subplot/theme of Red Scare in here.  We even have a spy working for an evil organization ... a non-Communist, non-Russian organization run by a Mugatu look alike.  He isn't menacing, and in fact, the spy becomes merely comic relief, which was unnecessary with all the smiling and joking our heroes are doing and the comic relief already present in the military.  The whole thing came across as unnecessary, and then you have the cat Jake sworn into citizenship at the end.

I feel like you are giving me mixed signals.

I dunno.  The movie is really good.  And I know I liked it.  But I don't know if I'd ever really feel like watching it again.  I could certainly have it on in the background, that'd be fine.  And I know owning it so it can be shared with others will be fun.  But for all the really good in it ... there's some really unfortunate setbacks that keep me from really loving it, as well as keeping it from being a truly great movie.  It aims to be a good one, and it succeeds there.

Grade: B+

  • June 3rd – Gigli (from Rachel Runion)  Grade: C
  • June 4th – Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (from Joel Gould)  Grade: D--
  • June 5th – Lenny the Wonder Dog (from Jason Schmidt)  Grade: F+
  • June 6th – The Cat in the Hat (from Josh Hendricks)  Grade: F---
  • June 7th – The Cat from Outer Space (from Nicole Clockel)  Grade: B+
  • June 8th – Popeye (from Drew Turner)
  • June 9th – SURPRISE JESSEL'S ALMOST-MOST HATED MOVIE!!

6.6.14

IHAO on ... Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat

/\// tOrtUrE-jEssEl-A-thOn \\/\



Rotten Tomatoes - Critics 10% ; Audience 30%
Flickchart - 21936 of 28311 i.e. in the bottom quarter
IMDB - 3.7 rating
Metacritic - 19
Amazon.com - 3.2 stars

Dr. Seuss just doesn't translate to film, so it seems.  I mean, for some reason, people want to tear at the seams and take the good stuff and rip it apart, really twist it and break it and tear out its heart until it becomes some new somethingmajigger, thinking it has to be DIFFERENT and BIGGER.  The Lorax and Horton, the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, all of it garbage and they just ask forgiveness for ruining all our beloved Seuss books with environmentalism, consumerism, some new age plot hooks.  I don't want to be mad, I don't want to be upset; I'm just tired of really crap movies made for how much money they'll get.

The Cat in the Hat *cough cough* sorry, something took me over.  This movie, the Cat in the Hat, is awful.  Plain and simple.  It fails in every regard.  It is poorly made in every regard.  The worst stuff ... ok, I'm gonna save the worst stuff.  Let's talk about plot.  Of the movie, to be clear, not the book.

A woman has one absolutely terrible son and a pretty good, if bossy, daughter.  She doesn't discipline them well ... because their father is dead? Gone? Nonexistent? Doesn't matter, the movie never ever brings it up, not a single time.  She is a dating a terrible person, who is truly dreadful, but it doesn't matter because his evil plan is to send the terrible son to military school, which he 100% SHOULD be sent to.  Anyway, woman tells the kids "do not go in the living room."  Then the Cat shows up, and ruins everything all to make some half-assed point about "responsible fun" ... kinda ... and destroys the house, and then they stop the boyfriend from telling the mom that YES IN FACT the kids had destroyed the house, which they did with the Cat ... and then they get everything cleaned without any true difficulty and the bad boyfriend, who was totally in the right the whole movie despite his evilness, and no one suffers any consequences for their actions at all, and no one learns any real lessons, just some half-assed "loosen up sometimes, but also don't be too loose, and have fun" garbage.

That's just the PLOT.  And characterizations.  And that is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are terrible sound effects all the time, way more than are necessary, and mostly are confusing and out of place.  The editing is really bad, especially in a spacial reasoning way.  People will look out windows and see things that they just logically cannot.  People park their cars, then the car disappears as we get an insert of them walking.  The house's size and shape constantly alters its shape and layout.  Fast things look slow, slow things look fast.  And they do the terrible terrible "speed things up because that makes it more funny" thing that Lenny the Wonder Dog did ... but Lenny the Wonder Dog had the courtesy to at least amp it up and be obvious about it, instead of kinda of pretending to not do it.

And the jokes.  Oh god, the jokes.  And Mike Myers!  OH GOD, MIKE MYERS!  Mike Myers is incredibly miscast in this film.  This film wants to treat the Cat in the Hat as a Robin Williams Genie-styled character.  And Myers' skill set and acting range is just not that vast.  That is not what he is good at.  But Shrek was doing well, and he's played multiple characters before, so sure, let's try it.  And it is just so so awful.  He is constantly making jokes that no kid would understand or care about, and even worse, laugh at EVER. SINGLE. JOKE. HE. SAYS.  The movie straight up laughs at its own jokes CONSTANTLY.  It tries to force you to laugh along with it.  Look, I actually went and learned how to make gifs using the internet to do it easily with no difficulty to make a gif of this movie.  This gif sums up the entire film in one two second clip repeated over and over again for all eternity.

PLEASE LAUGH!!!

This movie is painful.  I was constantly pausing and yelling and getting up my nerve to go back and keep watching.  Even the production design, which is semi-interesting, is hollow and missing that charm of a Seuss book.  This movie doesn't CARE about being a Seuss book.  It cares about trying to bank on your memories and on an intellectual cash cow of a property.  You know what the plot of the original Cat in the Hat is?  Here, I'll tell you:

Two kids are bored at home because it is raining.  A magical cat shows up, offering to do some tricks, but ends up making a big mess.  Eventually he pulls in Thing 1 and Thing 2, and they make a bigger mess.  But he cleans it all up just in time for the mother to get home, where she asks the kids what they did, and we are prompted to wonder "What would you tell your mother in this situation?" Basically.

Yeah, I know, it is just whimsy and fun and a simple concept of being responsible when bored and trying to find something to do.  The Cat represents the kids imagination of doing something, ANYTHING, and their fish represents the "angel" on their shoulder, reminding them to be responsible.  And when everything is fine just as their mom gets home, we have to wonder if it is worth telling her "we messed everything up, but we cleaned it up before you got here" or not.  That is something simple, but surprisingly deep, and something that is profoundly kid-oriented.  But ... this ... GOD AWFUL ... TERRIBLE ... CURSE WORD SPEWING OUT OF MY MOUTH THOUGH I AM NOT TYPING THEM MOVIE ... it loses ALL of that in an attempt to make it about ... evil boyfriends and military school and trusting your kids? and not having to own up to any mistakes? and being conradictory to force others to fix things for you? and playing with creepy men that just show up in your house?! and signing contracts for NO REASON IT IS ABSOLUTELY MIND-NUMBINGLY RANCOROUS VILE EXCRIMENT OF CREATIVITY TO MAKE THIS WHOLE TERRIBLE MOVIE!

This hits the bottom of my barrel.  So far, very few films have made me feel the way this one does.  And most people disagree with me on those.  So for some, this might be the absolute bottom.  For me ... I'm not sure I can rank the bottom movies well enough for me to be comfortable saying it.  But I can say that the surprise review at the end of this torturous Torture-Jessel-A-Thon makes me as mad as this movie, and has just as many technical problems and miscasting problems and god awful terrible EVERYTHINGS makes me rip off my clothes and cover myself in ash as I scream to the heavens in anger, frustration, and sadness.  Stay tuned.

Grade: F---

  • June 3rd – Gigli (from Rachel Runion)  Grade: C
  • June 4th – Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (from Joel Gould)  Grade: D--
  • June 5th – Lenny the Wonder Dog (from Jason Schmidt)  Grade: F+
  • June 6th – The Cat in the Hat (from Josh Hendricks)  Grade: F---
  • June 7th – The Cat from Outer Space (from Nicole Clockel)
  • June 8th – Popeye (from Drew Turner)
  • June 9th – SURPRISE JESSEL'S ALMOST-MOST HATED MOVIE!!

5.6.14

IHAO on ... Lenny the Wonder Dog

/\// tOrtUrE-jEssEl-A-thOn \\/\



Rotten Tomatoes - Critics -- ; Audience 39%
Flickchart - n/a
IMDB - 3.5 rating
Metacritic - n/a
Amazon.com - 3.0 stars (with only two reviews, one a 1 star, and one a joke review at 5 stars)

Those stats are not very good.  Let's see if I cannot find something else to help out before we jump in.  Ahh, here we go, a clip of Craig Ferguson, actor and villain of the film, talking about it:

Note to self: Get Boat Trip

If that isn't the best little interview and reason to watch this movie, I don't know what is.  Not only that, but this one was donation fodder!  That's right, I was PAID to watch this movie and add it to my collection.  So you know its gotta be bad.  And it is.  It very very much is.

The story here is that a scientist made a chip that makes dogs smart, put it in his dog so a more evil scientist can't steal it, and the dog, Lenny, runs off and finds an androgynous child and then they stop the evil scientist, Craig Ferguson.  Also, this movie exists in a world where cartoons are a drug and many people go to rehab for it.  Oh, and Michael Winslow plays a cop again.

This movie is awful.  Purely and terribly awful.  The music is ridiculous video game out-of-place songs, all of it too loud and mixed terribly so watching it makes it almost impossible to hear the dialogue when the music is playing.  The film "looks good" because when shot on a nicer camera, of course it looks good.  But it isn't shot well at all, with a bunch of terrible angles or just pointless ones.  The lighting is mostly garbage, and there are a lot of lighting gags.  But it is garbage because it is inconsistent, and noticeable.  You want those little things to be stuff the regular, non-critic viewing audience doesn't notice.  The plot and characters are nonsensical at best and just absolutely ridiculous and terrible at worst.  

Well don't be THAT harsh, gif!

To say something nice, there are a LOT of jokes thrown at you here ... and a pretty good amount of them are actually funny.  Way more of them are unintentionally funny, as is most of the movie.  But there are some jokes that, while they don't make any sense logically, are truly hilarious, like Hanky and Panky, the two "identical twin" henchmen, one of them has a terrible lisp (in that his performance is awful) and is a recovering cartoon addict, and the other is so tall and muscular his head is never in the shot.  See, the head-never-in-the-shot gag, that's a funny gag.  But their names, the terrible lisp, their awful costuming ... nothing else works correctly.  There's a difference between a joke working and the audience laughing.  And this movie straddles that line ... then falls off onto the "utter garbage" side of filmmaking.  They even skip an entire cut scene with a terrible cartoon comic-book-style storyboard of the fight.

This movie is perfect, is what I'm trying to say.  Perfect to watch and make fun of, perfectly terrible but earnest in its attempt to make a good family film, perfect to even watch it fail at its Capri-Sun product placement.  Filled with jokes that don't work because of the execution and filmmaking, filled with over-acting, filled with the WORST speed up chase scenes I've seen in a film in a very long time.  And I enjoyed every minute of it.  This is that kind of perfect bad, that good bad, the Nanar I've talked about in the past.  I was not expecting to get a nanar film on my torturous watching spree, but man am I glad I did.  I definitely say give this movie a shot if you find it somewhere and want to laugh.  But don't expect anything good.  This is the worst made film of the week so far, but the one I like the most, too.

Grade: F+

  • June 3rd – Gigli (from Rachel Runion)  Grade: C
  • June 4th – Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (from Joel Gould)  Grade: D--
  • June 5th – Lenny the Wonder Dog (from Jason Schmidt)  Grade: F+
  • June 6th – The Cat in the Hat (from Josh Hendricks)
  • June 7th – The Cat from Outer Space (from Nicole Clockel)
  • June 8th – Popeye (from Drew Turner)
  • June 9th – SURPRISE JESSEL'S ALMOST-MOST HATED MOVIE!!

4.6.14

IHAO on ... Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen

/\// tOrtUrE-jEssEl-A-thOn \\/\


Rotten Tomatoes - Critics 13% ; Audience 35%
Flickchart - 12394 of 28311 i.e. in the top half
IMDB - 4.5 rating
Metacritic - 33
Amazon.com - 3.0 stars

This already on paper looks better than Gigli.  Well, let's go, no time to waste.

[88 minutes later]

Hoo boy.  Well then ... plot first I suppose.

Lindsay Lohan -- NO WAIT, don't leave yet, that's not enough to write this one off -- plays a teenage drama queen, i.e. a girl who wants to be a professional actress, and one that strives on lying to be cool.  She also is super quirky, only wears ridiculous outfits no one ever owns, and is a jerk and liar at all times.  The film itself is a hyper-reality movie, which helps, but also really hurts the movie.  Anyway, she makes friends immediately after moving away from New York to her new home in New Jersey with the girl from the Newsroom because they both wear pins for the same band, Sidarthur.  Lola (Lohan's character) is madly in love with the band's lead, Stu Wolf.  Also, Megan Fox is the evil mean girl rich character.

The story revolves around two things: first, the upcoming party and concert of Sidarthur, which Lola lies about getting tickets to, and second, the upcoming performance of Liza Rocks, the drama teacher's updated version of Pygmalion, which Lola is the lead.  The biggest insult to the story is that all of the problems within the story are completely contrived and created by Lola, who is a liar or a unrepentant jerk, such as refusing free tickets to the concert and party she wanted to go to because of public perception of whatever.

STUPID!  Man, I just realized the only good movies I'm going to be able to watch all week are the little gifs of good movies I can use as reactions.  *sigh*

I don't want to talk about the plot anymore.  It is awful.  And not because of the central conceit.  This is based off a book, and it is actually a pretty interesting idea.  It took me awhile to figure it out, but this is a modernization of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf."  See, the band's front man's name is Wolf!  And she lies all the time, so everyone thinks she's lying about meeting him!  There is actually something a little clever there.

But the movie does everything it can to ruin that.  Terrible acting, terrible montages, terrible songs-just-to-sell-the-soundtrack, terrible shots, terrible directing, just terrible everything.  There are so many shots that are absolutely pointless, or even worse, juvenilely done, such as a lot of TERRIBLE attempts at a shared focus shot, where you focus on the foreground and the background by compositing two shots.  It is ... ugh.

This movie isn't quite a failure.  I suspect that what its true purpose is, to share some good values about lying and to sell a soundtrack, and waste some time for some pre-teens, all that is fine and works.  It is ALMOST a failure, but ultimately, you have to reach higher than this movie aims to actually fail.

Grade: D--

  • June 3rd – Gigli (from Rachel Runion)  Grade: C
  • June 4th – Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (from Joel Gould)  Grade: D--
  • June 5th – Lenny the Wonder Dog (from Jason Schmidt)
  • June 6th – The Cat in the Hat (from Josh Hendricks)
  • June 7th – The Cat from Outer Space (from Nicole Clockel)
  • June 8th – Popeye (from Drew Turner)
  • June 9th – SURPRISE JESSEL'S ALMOST-MOST HATED MOVIE!!