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Murderer of Steel 19.06.2013

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Movie: Man of Steel (2013)

Any resemblance to the Superman you know and love is strictly coincidental

Any resemblance to the Superman you know and love is strictly coincidental

Plot: Space Jesus battles Space Satan, or a relentlessly violent remake of The Hidden

IMHO: Serial characters are corporate properties and so, like colas and cars, are subject to constant tweeking for greater returns. Superman, around since 1938 and arguably the first superhero of the modern age, has been the subject of wonderful interpretations, e.g., The Adventures of Superman, Richard Donner’s Superman, Superman: The Animated Series, as well as horrible visions, e.g., Lois and Clark, the tedious Smallville, and now Man of Steel. Via Chris “Why So Serious” Nolan, Zack Snyder (Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole) and David Goyer (Kickboxer 2: The Road Back) bring us the meanest, most cynical version of Superman yet, falling into the now-cliche trap of reboots: in an effort to give us something new, they end up giving us poorly conceived dreck that highlights product (and product placement) and mishandles much of what makes a character lovable and memorable. Man of Steel is a Superman for 11-year-old cheese-eating gamer boys who have not yet developed any sense of taste, who consume without discernment, and who lap up exploding things and sexist images. Henry Cavill fills out the extremely ugly costume well (ugly costumes now being a DCU movie universe staple), but beyond the physical he is strictly flat, handsome but charmless. Amy Adams plays herself gorgeously, adding nothing to Lois Lane (for which the blame no doubt falls on Snyder, who prefers thighs to brains). Michael Shannon is fine, almost Shakespearean, but ultimately forgettable. The plot tries to add heavy science fiction elements, but these all feel borrowed from too many sources. Also: yet another conveniently disappearing black hole. And the ending? There is no excuse for it. A hero is a role model. A hero represents our better selves. A Superman who breaks the neck of his opponent is a not a hero. The Superman of the comic books found thousands of ways to stop evil without resorting to murder. Yes, Superman has killed in comics (thank you, John Byrne; asshole) and movies before, but never so openly and so brutally. Per Snyder, this is the moment Superman learns that killing is bad; but you’d think 33 years on Earth with superpowers he would have accidentally killed a few things and learned that lesson a lot earlier. Do yourself a favor and watch a Superman that brings you a sense of wonder and joy, not this murderous doppleganger.

Compared to the great Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: This movie indicates two-dimensional thinking.

If William Shatner had directed it: The studio would have slashed his FX budget and forced him to destroy one city block instead of hundreds.

If Scotty had seen the movie with me: He’d have said, “It’s no use. We’re dead in space.”

SPOILER:  “The American Way” apparently reflects American war policy

RATING: 0 Nomads out of 5

March of the Iron Soldiers 26.05.2013

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Nothing's been the same since New York.

Nothing’s been the same since New York.

Movie: Iron Man 3 (2013)

Plot: Team Shellhead fights something besides another guy in armor

IMHO: Shane Black (The Monster Squad) continues his obsession with Christmas as he takes over direction in this third entry in the successful armored superhero series. In a mashup of Pinocchio and Lassie adventures, empty CGI suits of armor must come to the aid of their flawed but lovable not-drunk master Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr, best known for U.S. Marshals). Meanwhile, Gwyneth Paltrow stars as a corporate CEO tragically in love with a narcissist. When he not-drunkenly threatens an international terrorist who is not Chinese although his name is the Mandarin, she and the team of empty CGI armor (an obvious reference to Snow White and the Seventeen Dwarves) swoop in to save her lover’s not-drunken ass from a group of bland Human Torches (wearing fireproof clothing). Quirky Guy Pearce is brought in to wear makeup as a quirky millionaire. Ben Kingsley’s gravitas and charisma is wasted in a red herring role as an international terrorist who is not Chinese although his name is the Mandarin. The twist involving his character is never more than clever. Don Cheadle (Moving Violations) costars as Tony Stark’s forbidden love interest who is crestfallen when his fabulously colorful version of armor is met with derision by Stark. Rebecca Hall sure is pretty.

Compared to the great Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: This movie reveals that scientists have always been pawns of the military.

If William Shatner had directed it: He would’ve cast James Spader as Rhodey.

If Scotty had seen the movie with me: He’d have said, “The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.”

SPOILER: China does not want the villain to be Chinese, even though his name is the Mandarin.

RATING: 2 Nomads out of 5 (minus one for bathroom humor)

Into Darkness, Indeed 24.05.2013

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Young Douchey Kirk. Or might as well be.

Young Douchey Kirk. Or might as well be.

Movie: Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)


Plot: Douchey Trek returns
 to drag the franchise further into a Dark Age

IMHO: Young Douchey Kirk 2.0 and crew are back for brightly flared shenanigans. J.J. Abrams (Alcatraz) and excessively employed hacks Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof pilot their dumbed-down abomination a tiny step toward political commentary (on drone warfare) and then quickly veer away, so the audience doesn’t have to think. The great character of Khan is rebooted as a terrorist named Sherlock, things explode, and the rest of the plots pisses all over classic Star Trek moments. Sadly, this mess may be what future generations think of when they think Trek.

Compared to the great Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: This movie destroys life in favor of its new matrix.

If William Shatner had directed it: He would’ve taken all 12 of Nimoy’s lines.

If Scotty had seen the movie with me: He’d have said, “And if my grandmother had wheels, she’d be a wagon.”

SPOILER: Leonard Nimoy shows he’s as willing as Shatner is to take a paycheck to do crap.

RATING: 0 Nomads out of 5

What Are Little Iron Men Made Of? 16.05.2010

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Movie: Iron Man 2 (2010)
Plot: Shellhead backslides in therapy
IMHO: The first Iron Man, a playful action movie, got by mostly on Robert Downey Jr.’s charm, his behaving as Tony Stark, a ego-driven boy wonder who through adversity and a tin chassis learns to be a better person. But alas the lesson came with a price. In this way-too-loud, rushed-feeling sequel, his power hunger is now fed by his previous savior, that copper carapace; plus, the power source of the armor is literally killing him. Jon Favreau (Swingers, Swingers, and Swingers) brings in quirky Sam Rockwell as a quirky millionaire to balance/battle Downey quirkily, but it’s Mickey Rourke who steals the movie by actually acting with conviction, playing a frustrated Russian scientist based on a combination of Marvel villains Whiplash and Crimson Dynamo. Also, in the name of equal opportunity, Rhodey gets a suit, too. Ocean’s 11er Don Cheadle takes over the role from Terrence Howard, but Howard’s low-key characterization is missed. The action scenes are fine, but figures fighting in CGI armor might as well be Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots for all we care. The action scenes that sizzle belong to Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow. Oh, if they just let her use a Russian accent, or gave her something real to do. Rwor. Gwyneth Paltrow sure is pretty.
Compared to the great Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this movie is all static discharge and gas clouds.
If William Shatner had directed it, he would’ve played Stark’s dad himself. And maybe added more story to make the Stark-Potts romance not seem tacked on. Or kissed Pepper himself!
If Scotty had seen the movie with me, he’d have said, “Palladium? New elements?! Give me a wee drop of dilithium and a fifth of Romulan ale, and I’ll have the lad flyin’ from here to Rigel in no time.”
SPOILER: Not following plot points? No worries. Jarvis the computer underlines, and I mean, UNDERLINES, every one.
I give this movie: 2 Nomads out of 5

Who Mourns for Edith Hamilton? 17.04.2010

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"Would it have hurt us, I wonder, just to gather a few laurel leaves?"

Movie: The Clash of the Titans (2010)
Plot: Terminator versus the Cloverfield monster.
IMHO: The goofy 1981 original film was unfaithful to the myths, but rather than go back to the old legends for inspiration, the producers just decided to modernize the 1981 film. They toss out the wonderfully complex world of Greek mythology, and, perhaps fearing audience stupidity or non-ticket-buying Christians, reduce it into the idiotic simplicity of Manicheanism, with Qui Gong as a god with a capital G and Voldemort as the Devil. Of the other gods, only Dr. Bashir gets a line! Dr. Bashir! The last time I saw him was on that execrable Merlin show on Sy Fy. Where is Aphrodite? Where is Hera? Where is Poseidon? The Kraken may have been imported from Norse mythology, but as a sea creature it still should be under Poseidon’s aegis. They turn Perseus into an dull antihero with an anachronistic haircut (what’s the matter, Marcus Wright, look bad in the extensions?). In one ludicrous line after another, he says he wants to do “this” as a man—but, hey, pal, you’re a demigod; that’s like Spock saying he’s going to try not having an extra eyelid. And they turn Pegasus black, which somehow seems like racist pandering. In short, this movie is god awful. Do not waste your quatloos.
Compared to the great Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this movie spares us notions of poetry, or anything else resembling passion.
If William Shatner had directed it, he would’ve added in a good dropkick, or at least some discernible scale and physical interaction in the action scenes, all of which is missing in the movie.
If Scotty had seen the movie with me, he’d have said, “We made short work of Apollo. This lot would na’ be more difficult.”
SPOILER: You’ll be surprised to find yourself missing Bubo.
I give this movie: 0 Nomads out of 5

Outside Seka 28.03.2010

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I love the fact that Swedish sounds something like gay Klingon.

Movie: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)
Plot: A neat procedural thriller based on Stieg Larsson’s novel about a two Mac lovers who find sex and justice together in Sweden.
IMHO: Reading the novel may have spoiled some of the movie’s mystique for me. Certainly, the final twist screamed more obviously than it ever did in the book. Duh, with a Swedish accent. Michael Nyqvist gives first a dry then a wry performance as stalwart journalist Mikael Blomkvist, who is called upon to solve the mystery a 40-year-old disappearance. He and the movie come alive whenever Noomi Rapace broods onto the screen. She plays the character that gives the book and movie its only distinguishing element—young gothy female hacker (who uses a Mac??) Lisbeth Salander, who helps Nyqvist uncover the brutal truths. But the movie suffers from trying to have its torture porn and socially comment on it, too.
Compared to the great Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this movie is a lot about flying a goddamn computer console.
If William Shatner had directed it, he would’ve given himself the role of the sadist pig/rapist guardian. With a goatee. And hoping for an Oscar. He also would’ve learned Swedish for the role.
If Scotty had seen the movie with me, he’d have said it was the work of Redjac, for sure.
SPOILER: The American remake will totally suck.
I give this movie: 3 Nomads out of 5

The Hirsute of Happiness 28.02.2010

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Do werewolves read Allen Ginsberg?

Movie: The Wolfman (2010)
Plot: The bad Hulk movie with werewolves, or Hannibal Lector’s son comes home to find out why his brother was julienned on the moors.
IMHO: Seeing this on bootleg probably robbed me of the only creative nuances of this and any werewolf movie—the makeup and transformation scenes. This because every werewolf movie is a tragedy, in fact, the same tragedy: nice man gets bit; turns to a moon-howler, kills; wakes up disoriented; falls in love along the way; gets killed, his lover present, if not actually doing the killing. This remake of the 1941 classic grows no new fangs, with Benicio Del Toro doing the perpetual look of despair typical to all lycanthropic leads, and Anthony Hopkins phoning it in as his long-in-the-tooth dad. Emily Blunt is pretty.
Compared to the great Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this movie doesn’t mince words.
If Leonard Nimoy had directed it, he would’ve emphasized the original movie‘s metaphorical take on Nazi Germany. And kept the pentagrams.
If Scotty had seen the movie with me, he’d have said, “Aye, now that calls for some hair of the dog! Will you join me, lad?”
SPOILER: This is not the movie with the fey vampire and his teen gf.
I give this movie: 1.5 Nomads out of 5

Extreme Makeover: Holmes Edition 03.02.2010

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Suffering from Baker Street irregularity?

Suffering from Baker Street irregularity?

Movie: Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Plot: Gay romantic comedy in which Iron Man goes back in time to spar over commitment issues with Jude Law (played well by Jude Law) and foil a plot to take over the world, Pinky!
IMHO: This reboot of Sherlock Holmes as an action hero is a no brainer. But Robert Downey Jr., while always rakish and fun to watch, seems to be playing such a different character than the iconic Holmes there almost seems no point in calling the movie Sherlock Holmes. (But ain’t it funny how much villain Mark Strong looks like the traditional Holmes? Subtext? From Guy Ritchie?! Naaaah.) Rachel McAdams is beautifully played by Rachel McAdams. Entertaining poofery, like much of the director’s man-loving ouevre, but, sadly, the obvious CGI makes this often look like an original SyFy movie.
Compared to the great Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this movie has the virtue of never having been tried.
If Leonard Nimoy had directed it, he would’ve played Moriarity. With a goatee!
If Scotty had seen the movie with me, he’d have said, “Aye, and if my grandmother had wheels, she’d be a wagon!”
SPOILER: Scarlett Johansson does not attempt a Russian accent here.
I give this movie: 3 Nomads out of 5

This Blonde Side of Paradise 16.01.2010

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I'm here if you need me, Sandra.

Movie: The Blind Side (2009)
Plot: Does it matter? Sandra Bullock is in it, so you know I’m gonna give it 5 Nomads. But in any case: white folk have a black man in their home and don’t call the cops.
IMHO: So this white Taco Bell-enriched family adopts a homeless African-American teen and then encourages him to become a professional athlete. Hey, how about encouraging him to become a doctor?! Well, since this is based on a book that is supposedly based on the true story of NFLer Michael Oher, you want to forgive some of the racial fumbles. But since Oher comes off an either socially inept or mentally incompetent (I blame the script and director, not Quinton Aaron), The Blind Side is clearly in the zone of the Magical Other (Oher?!!) who changes the lives of the hegemonic protagonists. And indeed the movie is more about Bullock’s steel magnolia of a rich white Christian lady and her family’s giving back to the less fortunate, which makes this either a conservative dream or conservative nightmare, depending if your conservatism is social or economical.
Compared to the great Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this movie could be perverted into a dreadful weapon.
If Leonard Nimoy had directed it, the kid playing the son would’ve gotten even more screen time to be annoying.
If Scotty had seen the movie with me, he’d have shed a wee tear from time to time and drank a toast to the blonde miss.
SPOILER: Bullock wins the Oscar! From my heart.
I give this movie: 5 Nomads out of 5. I love you, Sandra!!!

Something Gave 11.01.2010

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Be grateful it wasn't another Pink Panther movie.

Movie: It’s Complicated (2009)
Plot: Witty future son-in-law (John Krasinski) fights to save the sanity of his upper crusty in-laws, who are divorced but sleeping together, so that he can still marry into a happily affluent family.
IMHO: Ah, the lives of the spoiled rich. So much fun to watch (see any Jane Austen pic). Their kitchens are amazing but well all know they just have to be BIGGER. In this misfired wet dream for increasingly-decrepit-yet-still-infantile baby boomers, an accentless Meryl Streep and Ab-rollerless Alec Baldwin (legal guardian of Stephen Baldwin), play a divorced couple who reignite that old feeling—even though he’s remarried to a trophy wife. What tragedy! Some cute jokes, and even some minor pathos, but all the kids in this movie are jerks, and Steve Martin unfortunately is not. Props, though, for not having any blatantly token African-American or ethnic friends.
Compared to the great Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this movie is a dead planet.
If Leonard Nimoy had directed it, it would be pretty much the same exact movie, sadly.
If Scotty had seen the movie with me, he’d na have gotten up to help if the projector malfunctioned.
SPOILER: It’s really not that complicated.
I give this movie: 1.95 Nomads out of 5