Remakes!!! …you gotta roll

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Below is an IGN article about the much threatened …I mean promised, Escape From New York Remake. Up for the role of Snake Plissken is Sons of Anarchy guy, Downton Abby guy and Walking Dead guy.

Jon Bernthal needs a break out role. He would make a great action star and any “action” role that by passes the extremely banal, Kevin Bacon, Ethan Hawke, Colin Ferrell, Adrian Brody or Christian Bale is great in my book.

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Yes!!!

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Please, no…

But the real question should be, will it be any good?

I used to hate the very notion of remakes. I lived my personal Vietnam of “Texas Baysaw Massacre” of 2003. It was not pretty. But as the years have gone by, while it still unsettles me to see a remake/reboot/re-imagining (r/r/r) of one of my favorite franchises, I’ve come to terms it’s all our own fault. We movie watchers just won’t get off our fat asses unless it’s something we can identify with before actually driving some place to watch bigger than TV, TV in a theater,

So franchising is in full effect and that includes the whole r/r/r stuff. So bitch, (and, oh yes, we will bitch) but even when a movie is as fashionable as Snowpiercer, the truth is we still don’t go. ..Unless it’s Star Trek, Star Wars, or any other toy we used to play with these “un-regognizables” get little love.  

Which is too bad since I do believe there are talented writers, directors and even producers who want deliver quality original stuff. There just isn’t a market for it. But even so, frankly, I’ve enjoyed most r/r/r I’ve seen lately. There may have been some imperfect or even downright beastly re-duds but since mid aughties they have been given some fat ass budgets and much love in the production department and even despite their lead actors, overall, I’ve enjoyed the new Predators, Robocop and even Total Recall. 

So I’m ready for Bernthal’s “Call me snake”. Just make it good. It’s all I ask.

2014 Bummer Summer?!

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So here we are it’s the end of August 2014, how was your summer? I know, it sucks.

Well, I think movie wise, it wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be. Yes, it only had a few highly anticipated movies BUT if it did have a ton of sequels and franchises, we’d be bitching about a ton of sequel and franchise movies. That said here’s my snapshot of The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly:

The Good

Godzilla

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It certainly had it’s logic issues, boring characters and is anyone else a bit tired of Bryan Cranston?, but overall a solid big budget Godzilla movie. Which, included some standout scenes like the trestle scene and a wonderful finale in San Francisco. I wish Gareth Edwards was allowed to flex a bit of his character development muscle he showed in ‘Monsters’ but he still managed to deliver one of the best giant monster movies of the decade.  

X-Men: Days of Future Past

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I thought Bryan Singer’s return to the X-Men show was terrific. I was hoping for a little more X-Men in the future and, yet again, Storm is reduced to just rolling her yes white but the 70s story was engaging and fun. The acting was particularly good from McAvoy and Fassbender. Plus mystique gets her best screen time in the entire series and, I still insist, Hugh Jackman is just now becoming a perfect fit as Logan. Dramatic, funny and setting the bar for the story. Plot holes be damned, this was a great movie.

Guardians of the Galaxy

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I think this movie has the danger of being too hyped, since the story is pretty typical for a comic book movie, BUT James Gunn’s emphasis on character and humor, often very neglected areas in summer movies, was very well done. Plus the effects were fantastic and fitting. (Unlike Thor) and the concept has milage for future installments. I don’t wanna huff and puff this movie too much, since the rest of the web already is but I did enjoy it from beginning to end. Best movie of the summer.

Hercules

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Yes, Hercules. This movie was being dumped on before even being seen. Fanboys hate the Ratner so this movie was DOA when it landed. Yet I thought it was silly popcorn fun that didn’t take itself too seriously. It was what Scorpion King wanted to be, a modern Beastmaster and Hercules is exactly that. Fun!

Transformers 4

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Yes, it’s just another giant Baygasim for 3 hours. But it did deliver what I love about his films: amazing stunts, huge set pieces and terrific 3D. The CGI is still dodgy and his omission of even just general logic deserves the blasting it gets from critics but I enjoyed it for what it was. Plus after 3 movies, you only have yourself to blame if you hated it.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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I’m glad they’re fully committed to making movies just for kids with ADD but i seriously can’t remember this movie. I laughed at some jokes and I didn’t hate the CGI or even Megan Fox but that cliche plot and hyper hyper editing did zero favors for this movie. That said I still did enjoy it but in that guilty pleasure kinda way. Let’s just say I wore my 3D glasses all the way to the parking lot so no one would see me. …You know who would have directed the shit our of this movie? Eli Roth. I shit you not. He knows potty humor, building tension and getting the most out of FX. Heads up Mr. Bay, he needs the work too.

The Bad

Maleficent

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Great idea with the perfect casting and yet they just had to muddle it up with pedestrian storytelling and very dodgy CGI. If you can imagine Tim Burton phoning it in, even more than usual, then you get Maleficent. Which is too bad it came perilously close to having some good moments and revealing Jolie as more than just her icy persona.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

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Technically a very good movie with some astounding CGI performances  but, sigh, it just kinda bored me. the build to the climax of the movie was just so typical. Some people are bad, some are good, mistakes can seem villainous but are often just misconceptions and blah blah. If they didn’t lean so much on the preach and had more Gary Oldman it would’ve been elevated to great.

Edge of Tomorrow

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Mr. Cruise may be a falling star but his decisions to get behind interesting movies is still a good quality in his pocket. Plus it features the very very underrated Emily Blunt. Frankly, the time twisting concept was much easier to swallow here than Inception and proof that a strange boundary pushing plot does have it’s place in Hollywood. That said, despite its plot twisting concept, I still felt the movie was pretty predictable. Once the we figured out the main force behind the time wrinkle it all fell into genre cliché and the last 30 minutes was rather run of the mill. I’ve gone back and forth on this but I’d have to say there’s nothing here that makes me really love this movie. Except Emily of course.

Expendables 3

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Major disappointment. What do you love most about the Expendables? Now take that out and fill the middle of the movie with boring characters you don’t want to route for. Plus they missed an opportunity to flesh out the Expendables history and even offer some redemption. Oh well, why go out with a bang when you can go out with a whimper.

The Ugly

Snowpiercer

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Atlas shrugged for liberals (and I am a liberal), an anti-elite nonsense fable for drum beating hippies to watch and drink the “fuck da man” cool aide to. Brazil for dummies. I anticipated every frame of that movie and nothing surprised or interested me. Hey, guys, don’t make me rally for the capitalist pigs with whiny dystopian nonsense but that’s exactly what Snowpiercer does. I wanted the Train to crash and the polar bears to eat anyone alive. 

White Lightning & Gator on Blu!!!

Hey! If you’ve ever wondered why a weeny like Burt Reynolds was so darn famous, look no further than these two movies finally getting proper treatment in 1080 and finally released in their original aspect ratio!

In addition to Deliverance, these two movies added some muscle to the mustachioed mystique of ol’ Burt. In both movies he does stunts, kicks ass and drives cars …fast! In fact, I miss these old hillbilly movies about moon shine and run’n from the law that were quite popular in the 70s. 

Below is the amazon link and I recommend these films for your collection! Stick’em up there right next to your Doctor Who sets, so your friends complain :)

Why China will dominate North American box office

So you think our US box office is a big deal? It is, but not forever and things are changing. We’re going to see a new Pacific Rim and, plenty more, Transformers movies despite US audiences being kinda meh about them. 

All because China dominates the gross earnings now. This will not only dominate what movies get made but also HOW they’re made. Are you ready?

Frankly, I am interested to see how US audiences react to no one giving a shit about their opinion anymore. What does Harry Knowles or JoBlo think? …Who gives a shit. 

Article below:

Blu Ray Bitch’n …just some things I wanna complain about.

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Recently there has been a few blu ray packages that have come out which have irked me. Now to lay some ground work ahead of time let me say this, I like Blu-Ray buuuuut it’s annoying as all hell! In addition to buying half my collection again, self inflicted I admit, the enthusiasm and eye for detail that had accompanied DVD has suffered a big loss.

Most blu rays for new movies get sparse extras in lieu of the higher bit rate and have the balls to tout themselves as multi disc sets despite being the same product but only in a different formats on separate discs.

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Also, unless a movie has been officially licensed by a specialty company, most older films only get upgraded to the higher format without any work on the old transfer or negative. Which essentially doesn’t improve the quality of the movie. It only allows a film to NOT look like shit on a bigger TV. You need a company like Criterion, Synapse, Blue Underground or Shout Factory to work on title to see any improvements. Yes, occasionally, a new transfer from a major studio happens and the results are often magnificent. (I.e.: Jaws, Lawrence of Arabia, Blade Runner) But that is far and few between, for the most part we get just a simple upgrade from the DVD and occasionally from way back to the VHS negative! I’m looking at you Echo Bridge.

But amongst these and many other annoyances, recently their have been a few sets released that have, frankly, pissed me off.

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Robocop, Rocky and The Man With No Name Trilogy are in my sights today, Damn it!

I’m happy that the movie studios decided to give a new transfer to the original RoboCop, Rocky and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly but why then package them in with their respective counterpart films and not give those films upgrades? 

This is especially true with Rocky and Leone’s set. I want Fistful of Dollars and Rocky II to get upgrades just as much as the other films. I mean, at least try! You don’t have to spend a million dollars but maybe striking a new transfer, cleaning and new coding could do wonders! At leafs Robocop’s sequels were fantastic so only the original needed work. But Rocky and the Westerns did.

In Leone’s set they definitely could have at least added Duck, You Sucker in Blu called it the man with no name, put Eastwood’s mug on the cover and the fans would have been very forgiving of the misrepresentation if it meant getting an extra Leone movie on Blu as a special feature. No!?

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Look, studios, Blu Ray is the last physical media that we have before it all goes digital. Then we can say goodbye to special features new transfers and excellent home theater presentation. Until then let’s celebrate classic movies by putting the best foot forward and giving us a reason to spend money. Ok?

And if you don’t believe me as to the futility of the Blu read on..

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/pat-higgins/blu-ray-is-dead_b_3572399.html

Just a little update:

I love how there’s a new Spielberg set with four hotley anticipated films from fans and then the rest are one’s we and every other person already bought! Just to justify the $100 plus price tag. That sucks.

Good is? …Good Storytelling!

Whilst watching the “Kong” animated series with my daughter it struck me that, while the show itself seems like puerile absurdity for kids it actually has a fun serial quality to it that could work. …Were is done better!

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When I hear a movie’s detractors take a movie down, its usually done with name calling and when asked why specifically, a person will say it was “boring” or “stupid”. When you ask a movie geek ‘why’, they actually have more annoying responses like, “no originality” or the “original is better”.

To me a movie isn’t about one thing specifically and most of all it isn’t about the story! We wouldn’t be so obsessed with sequels, remakes, adaptions or prequels if that was the case. To me a movie is only as good as it’s storytelling. 

I always laugh when I hear there’s a script leak or spoiler released before a movie’s release. Why is Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or any other major book adaption making billions of dollars if that movie’s plot was revealed? Audiences crave an experience and that experience is always better when told to them with atmosphere, mystery, suspense, a climax and intrigue.

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When watching Back to the Future I was struck at how one scene plays into the next and how it sets up a question for the viewer only to answer it immediately or by the end of the film. Why is Marty interrupted from kissing his girlfriend in the park by a woman who is telling him about a broken monument that was struck by lightning? Why is bad that Marty stopped his father from getting hit by a car? What happens when a teen from the future even meets his father who is also a teen? These questions are meant to compel the audience into watching the next moment of the movie and once you’re hooked a good film ‘gets’ you with a desired conclusion that make the entire expirence worth it.

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Not all good films work like Back to the Future but the idea of building questions in an viewers mind is usually a basis for most. So how the question is asked is the oat important piece to a good movie. In “Once Upon a Time in the West” we meet the man with the Harmonica played by Charles Bronson. He almost mysteriously appears and suddenly and purposefully puts a monkey wrench in every characters attempt to do anything. Why? Even though the story is compelling enough without him his presence is jarring and almost bizarre. When we do find out what he’s up to the reveal makes watching the movie for 3 hours worth it! This is good storytelling.image

I often get dinged for liking a lot of the crappy, crappy, crap movies. But what people don’t understand, is that often, I like them because they have a nugget of the compelling that, were the storytelling better, the movie would be good. Most storytelling in most films is bad, for a variety of reasons, but that’s just how it is. It doesn’t stop me from liking something but it does allow to differenciate the good and great. 

Kong has fun elements to it: Kong as a hero, a kid as his partner, a goofy friend for humor, his grandma as not only a genius but family and an outsider girl who brings a dash of danger and sex appeal. Where the material written for an older audience with strong story telling you’d have a hit.

Think about what compels you and how the story is told when you watch a movie or series so, at the very least, you have better reasons to hate or love something.

Reel Quick -Maleficent

To sum up. There were countless wasted opportunities to make Maleficent a good movie. Instead first time director, Robert Stromberg, seemed inclined to hit every conceivable fantasy cliche from the Hobbit, Harry Potter and recent Tim Burton. On top of that scenes between actors were stilted, opening shots were awkward and Angelina herself would have seemed to be phoning it in were the role not perfectly fitted to her personality.

Quick point. (spoiler) It would have been much more effective to show only little Maleficent in wings so that at the end of the movie when she gets them back it’s has a bigger impact. Of course that’s what a seasoned director brings and not an effects guy. Remember directing is storytelling.

PS: Disney may want to seriously reconsider their live action out put. I.e. John Carter, Tron Legacy, Prince of Persia, etc..

Ok, Who Likes X-Men 3? …hello, anyone?

Me. That’s who.

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First and foremost let me start out by saying I’m not an X-Men fanatic. I haven’t read all the issues or very many really. I’ve followed X-Men in the past enough to know most of the big story lines but if I went one on one with a true believer, I’d lose. That said, like many teens in the 80s, I was obsessed with Wolverine and even own a few of the coveted Claremont/Miller issues.

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Second, I’m not a fan of Brett Ratner. I’ve seen his Rush Hour films and a few others and I’d have to say for the most part he’s a banal director with nothing remarkable to his credit. In fact his take on Red Dragon is pretty crap. But I’m not a “hater” as it were and I do know he’s a bit of a fanboy as he often turns up on featurettes about Jackie Chan and Eddie Murphy. So I know he knows, at least, a thing or two.

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But ‘X-Men The Last Stand’ has always perplexed me. Simply because, and I say this before taking deep breadth with the knowledge of the ire this comment may inflict upon myself, I find X-Men 3 to be a pretty darn good movie. And more often than not, I see and hear a lot of deriding not only this movie but also Ratner himself. 

Here’s a few comments from imdb:

"F U Brett Ratner your movie is meaningless.."

"Brett Ratner is a chode"

"(Sucks more…)Then being forcibly masturbated with hot sauce as lube”

And that was just a few minutes looking.

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I mean, I think I get it. This movie has it’s share of plotholes but most blockbuster movies do. What the problem really seems to be, is in 90 minutes Three major characters are killed and three others lose their powers. In one movie six very prominant characters become obsolete. I get that.

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But as a whole I think this movie is very fun and, frankly, has the best performance by Ian McKellen and Famke Janssen in their entire franchise history. Even the emotional ending between Jean Grey and Wolverine works for me despite it not being entirely logical. In fact I’m not the only one who has this ridiculous thought. Despite a negative review Harry Knowles is forgiving of Ratner:

"This isn’t Brett Ratner’s car wreck… oh sure, he was just the hired hand at the wheel who managed to keep the car basically on the road, but he didn’t pick the car, nor did he fill the tank. No, this car, road and explosions were timed, set and sabotaged by Tom Rothman. I actually believe Brett could have made a pretty decent X-MEN movie had he been given the time to adequately adapt the film. "

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That comment has sat with me over the years when hearing criticism of X3. Yes, it’s not a great movie: it’s very underdeveloped, characters die and X-Men fans are left behind in favor of “the masses”. But…

As a movie we are introduced to a wrinkle of X-Men mythology that is very interesting. The “Cure” to human mutation. What if, in the mid 60s, African Americans could be turned white? What if a homosexual could take a pill and become hetero? Say what you want but that main plot point in the movie is handled pretty well. It is met, initially, with disdain but then some give it some thought and a few even desire it. Even if a solution seems unethical, often there are many who concede to it. While the main thrust of the movie seems headed to a giant showdown, the internal plight is universal and very relevant. In fact, I find it the most compelling story of the first three films.

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While some characters have minimal screen time (Storm/Rogue) others seem to enjoy strong arcs. The best of which belongs to Jean Grey, her character becomes the main antithesis to the Cure, once she is, somewhat confusingly, resurrected, she becomes a walking apocalypse to human beings. All the while being torn over her total superiority over humans and mutants alike but also feeling latent compassion for them particularly Logan.

(Spoiler alert…)

This ultimately leads to a somber but emotional finale where Wolverine faces off against her, and despite facing his own demise and losing the love of his life, he kills her. Despite the movies better efforts to just be a popcorn film this scene is still very emotional and worthy ending in the three film arc. Ratner nails the emotion needed in this scene and then ends the movie with some fun teases.

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Yes, the movie is rushed and yes many of the characters seem bland but compared to most of the blockbusters this movie seems solidly footed in descent material to ponder. Plus while I can appreciate fans being disappointed by this movie, it’s certainly head and shoulders above other super hero movies like: Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Hulk, Ghost Rider, Electra and thouest biggest turdith: X-men Origins: Wolverine. Woof!

I was very happy this weekend when I saw Days Of Future Past and it’s “retcon” of the original X-Men movies. It was a return to form for Bryan Singer and Fox studios. It seems that they are well aware of the mistakes of the franchise has made and, after Disney’s acquisition of Marvel, grateful to the X-men films and what they have done for the studio. While I like The Last Stand, no doubt it, along with it’s idiot brother ‘Origins’, are low points everyone wants to put behind them. 

But let’s still look at the bigger picture when beating on X3. It’s a good movie that could’ve been great but it’s still good.

Godzilla!! …and, finally, a reason to forget that other one!

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I’ve never been a huge Godzilla fan. Except back when I was 11 years old and loved the cartoon from the early 80s. Who’s theme I can sing entirely, even now. I remember desperately wanting the Shogun size Godzilla toy and even had a few issues of the Marvel series.

When I did see the Japanese movies, I remember being quite bored with any semblance of a plot that involved any human being whatsoever. And since, all those films were two thirds people, I kinda found them kinda meh, but, boy, even with the rubber suits I loved the Godzilla battles. Especially with all the weird versions of baddie they dreamed up for whatever particular entry in the series I watched.

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Now the 98 version was, what I can only describe as a “cinematic fart”. It was hotly anticipated, built up like into a marketing frenzy and when it finally hit, it stunk to high heaven. That said it still has one of the best teaser trailers I’ve ever saw.

So, I was only mildly amused when I heard they were rebooting an American Godzilla movie. I figured since Hollywood fucked it up the first time and what with a strong but small following here in the U.S., I assumed they’d “re-envision” Godzilla as another monster who looks nothing like the original and make it another vehicle for Rihanna. 

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But then I saw Gareth Edwards was the director. His feature debut, Monsters, was a fascinating alien meets hearts-of-darkness meets indie romance that was wonderfully detailed and well executed. Giving hope that the direct to dvd/netflix market could actually bring thoughtful stuff in a world awash with mega-somethings vs hybridanimals.

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And luckily, for you, Godzilla is the movie we were all hoping for! Edwards re-introduces us to the monster we know but also uses the mystery of the reveal as an asset not a hinderence. We know the monster is coming, so instead of a mildly interesting but shoe horned storyline before the non-stop mayhem, the new Godzilla eases us into his appearence with suspense and tension. Edwards often shows the creature from eye level up. Letting us expirence it as a person would …were a giant amphibian attack really happening. 

And when the battles do happen they are not over the top prolonged sequences of destruction porn like Man Of Steel or even Pacific Rim. The clashes are used sparingly as the story of a demolitionist is weaved though out.

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Not that the “human” story is elevated from it’s usual kinda boring placement it usually takes in a Godzilla film. Like those movies, the human story line is filled with cliches and nonrandom events of randomness and has the obligatory “wife and kids” element sized up for plot wedging. But it was only after the movie that the soldiers story came off as absurd and it certainly doesn’t diminish the fun of watching it.

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And that is were critics of this movie may misguide some people. Yes, the movie has some “Pacific Rim” size potholes and some of the acting seems turgid and unnecessary. In fact none of the actors or any of the acting is really any good here. Which is a surprise since it was acting that drove Monsters and made it such a good film. But then again, that’s more to do with Godzilla being a Hollywood tent pole rather than Edwards’s misstep.

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Godzilla succeeds because we the audience are treated as passengers rather than spectators. We often experience the grim realty of mass chaos and destruction and the dread that something unnatural and uncontrollable is coming rather than counting minutes until the big showdown. And it’s this reason that Godzilla may be the best monster movie since Jurassic Park and certainly the reason we will be seeing more of Mr. Edwards. …plus Godzilla does the one thing the 98 film did not (spoiler)…

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…breaths fire!!!!!

Sabotage: Arnie’s Very Last Stand

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"Les Shitty Sabotage!"

It occurred to me, after watching an hour or so of consistent obnoxious, hamfisted performances and nihilistic violence, that buried beneath the veil of “gritty action” of Sabotage there is a decent movie and, surprisingly, some good acting from Arnold Schwarzenegger!

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Not happy …about the box office

Unfortunately though, ‘Sabotage’ is just not a good movie. It’s excess of sadistic violence and cookie cutter characters derails what could have been a terrific heist mystery/revenge movie mash up and director David Ayer feels that in order to legitimize his aging action star vehicle he must douse it with as much cruelty, gore and misery as possible. Combining that with some hideous edits, that had a couple audible “what the fucks?” from the audience, and you’ve got yourself a nice shitty diaper of a movie.

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Hey, I tried!

I firmly believe that if you are going to bludgeon your audience with relentless shocks and violence you better know what you’re doing and Ayer, a screenwriter by trade, just does not! His movie jerks from one grisly image to the next, while only being strung together loosely about a mystery over a $10 million dollars and overwrought murders of shit kicking FBI agents. The story would be enough to captivate the audience were it not for sadistic imagery used to jolt the audience with the “reality” of undercover law enforcement. When a movie’s credits are combined with a woman begging and crying for her life we immediately know subtlety is out the window and, although the grisly nature of the movie may be warranted, it’s story is lost beneath a pile of screaming, head shots and pools of blood. It’s clear the director simply lost sight of his story in order to shock and awe.

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Still Very Hot

More proof of this are the performances of the ensemble. Manganiello, Holloway, Martini and Enos give some of most over the top performances I’ve seen in years. There’s more subtlety in Chuck Norris movies and if they’re campy performances were intentional, some one forgot to tell the director that they would stick out like boogers in kool-aid rather than jib with his “real life” action. Mean while academy award nominee Terrance Howard is reduced to a throwaway dialogue stiff who’s biggest regret isn’t in the script but rather leaving the Iron Man series.

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Not as bad as she seems

Meanwhile buried beneath this nonsense are decent semi-compelling performances from Harold Perrineau and, the still very attractive, Olivia Williams. As well as, a rather compelling performance from Sam Worthington. Best all though may be Schwarzenegger, who plays an over the hill oaf who has seen better days. His performance reminded me of Stallone in Rocky Balboa, as a man who, almost pathetically, needs that one last shot.

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After this movie, I need a drink too.

But what does any of that matter when you can relentlessly bombard the audience with so much grisley “true” violence it become white noise that crowds out the original goal of the movie. So much so, that when the true nature of the visceral dick wagging becomes known, you just don’t’ care. And since the box office was completely unkind to ol’ Arnie, it doubtful we’ll get a chance to see him again. Just when he was gett’n good.

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Ok, here come the Critics!

Gary Numan @ The Phoenix Theater - March 27, 2014 …my review

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I’m completely amazed at the amount of people who have no clue who Gary Numan is. I understand he’s “old” and from another era. But in his day “Cars” was a huge hit that remains relevant. I guess I’m from an era where embracing music’s history was as important as being into music itself. You couldn’t just like rock-n-roll and not know who the Beatles and the Stones were. Today the attention span of many is as disposable as music acts themselves are. ..but I digress.

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You see Numan shares familiarity with many pop stars today. He was the first punk to embrace electronic music and become wildly famous for it. When I hear electronic thumpers from Black Eye Peas, Daft Punk or Lady Gaga, it’s not very hard to see the correlation between those songs and “Are Friends Electric?” or “Every Day I Die”. Luckily since the late 90s there has been a growing admiration for  the “lonely android” years of the late 70s. With his songs being covered by artists from Nine Inch Nails to british pop stars Sugababes.

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Although, Numan is not in love with his past but he still has incorporated it into his latest era of music. Today he seems more than content reveling in the tradition of Industrial with records like “Splinter” & “Jagged”. Allowing him to keep electronic past but also working within darker heavier genre. Although off putting to some of his die hard Numanoids, his enthusiasm is readily apparent on his latest music which is quite good.

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And it’s within this ere I saw him on a wet and cold evening in northern Toronto. The Phoenix Theater is tucked within a residential are of town and I drove past it without evening noticing it. Were it not for an obvious touring bus and a well lit sign, I’d still be driving around Toronto right now. But it is a really cool older building that seems at one point could have been a speakeasy. 

When I first arrived I was struck by the age of the people who were there. Many of the people could have been MY in laws they were so old, which only certified how long ago Numan was popular. But soon the late arriving hipsters started coming in along with Goths!?! Whom I haven’t really seen in almost ten years. 

At 8:30 Roman Remains started and I was stunned by the volume of “electronic” music in a small hall. The place shook but the band was quite good, if not remarkable, and I walked to the front to stake my standing claim. Don’t get me wrong the lead singer was very very good and there sound was pretty intense. I could easily see them improving greatly in the future. Next was Big Black Delta from L.A. Again my age hit me, when the lead singer played only a laptop along with a drummer. He actually had a terrific voice but the songs seemed only to meander and, again, weren’t particularly memorable. Still, at some point I’ll pick up Roman Remains music since they’re sound was very promising.

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Eventually, Gary Numan took the stage. While his current music is completely steeped in the world created by Trent Reznor and company, it was not hard to see the guy who once sold out three nights in Wembley Stadium. The man swayed and posed his way though his set as if he was still a multi platinum artist. I’ll give the guy credit he and his band made a concerted effort to to create an atmosphere steeped in their industrial mix of 80s tracks like “Metal”, “Cars” and “Down in the Park” while delivering rather solid new material like “I Am Dust”, “Here in the Black” and my favorite “Everything Comes Down to This”.

One of my biggest surprises was how influential the keyboards, and Numan cohort Ade Fenton is. While guitars, bass and drums are prominent in the new human era, the songs, and thus concert, are still driven by the keyboards. Fenton’s electronic pulsing and prodding moved each track dramatically and the band responded to each note by moving and dancing to his rhythms. I mean, it’s quite fun watching middle age mean break it down goth like and it certainly elevated the evening.

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Was there any downside? Well, it may be baseless and controversial but I think, maybe, just maybe ..he lip synced … a bit. Or maybe his vocals are so over powering he can hit the soaring choruses from virtually a foot and a half away from his microphone. I could be wrong, and if someone knows about technology where a mic can pick up a guys singing from a short but distinct distance let me know, but often it startled me how far away he was from his microphone when he sang. Now he did seem to sing the majority of his songs but when those choruses kicked in it looked like Ashlee Simpson. 

Did it ruin the night? No! He’s 56, touring a schedule like a 20 year old, in unforgiving concert halls, so I can see where it might tax him. Plus he was son enraptured in his stage presence that, for me, it worked. I don’t know maybe I’m wrong and again if anyone knows different please contact me and I’ll amend this article quite happily. 

All in all, between the great venue, solid oping acts and, most of all, Numan enrapturing the audience it was well worth the long and tiring drive. And if my suspicions are true, I’m not upset but rather happy to watch a classic doing his best despite. 

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Some may mark Gary Numan with “has been” status but between his well done new material and his conviction to his fans, I have to say he is worth your time and admiration. 

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Link to professional shots:

http://aestheticmagazinetoronto.com/2014/03/28/photos-gary-numan-big-black-delta-roman-remains-phoenix-concert-theatre/