I arrived back in the land of Whoop-doo! only to find that the doom of an impending actors' strike had forced most of the studios to go ahead with their last major summer movie junkets before the actors became unavailable. Do you know what that means? Yes. I've seen just about every summer movie that is left to be released this year. And you guys are in for some sweet treats at the box office. They're all "whoop-doo!" worthy. I'm even finding it hard to say anything bad about mythical director Fred Wolf and his sorority slumber party known simply as The House Bunny. That movie's on the left side of atrocious, but the mostly female cast picks it up and rescues it from being a true disaster. The girls of Zeta Tau Zeta kick ass. Too bad their movie doesn't.
As I sit here, mere hours after the eve of a supposed strike, a single picket sign has yet to materialize. There are no actors out blocking studio gates. There are no more speculations about a work stoppage. Trauma Con 2008 seems to be moving full steam ahead. And now I have nothing left to look forward to at the cinema down my street. At least until September. Damn film industry! Anyway, here's my take on what you'll be seeing up through August (Warning! It's extra beefy so know that in advance. I don't want to hear all you non-readers crying about "too many words" in the dissertation space below):
Another Batman Sequel? Whoop-doo!
The Dark Knight returns? Whoop-doo! Let me just preface this fact. I haven't really liked many of the recent Batman films. I always felt that Tim Burton's work was trapped in a box. And Joel Schumacher? Who gave this screaming queen the keys to the kingdom? He took the fetish aspects of the franchise and played them up into high camp (nipples on the batsuit, anyone?). I love The Lost Boys and Flatliners, but it is the later film where Joel busted out his neon lighting kit left over from The Wiz and then continued to use it to the best of his advantages. At the time, I thought, "Hmm? Interesting choice. It's about the afterlife, but it looks like a gay nightclub." Little did I know ol' Joel was going to run with it. His signature Day-Glo lighting work gives the later two Batman sequels an eerie, off-putting aura that is definitely on the nauseous side of the genre. And George Clooney as Batman? Come on! That's so ridiculous I can't even believe it ever really happened. But not quite as ridiculous as everything else going on in these melted cheese quesadilla comic book adaptations. Batman looked dead in the water at that point. Seriously, who was going to suction cup their lips onto this dieing mouth and give it life resuscitation? No one wanted to touch it. Eight years passed before Chris Nolan picked up the torch. And Bravo! He knew just how to resurrect the caped crusader. He took the character and placed him back into this gritty pulp world, swathing him in dark black undertones. The fans went wild. After some fifty odd years, the cinematic version of this franchise was pulled out of the swamp of outrageousness. It was given new life and a startlingly realistic turn. I absolutely loved the first hour of Batman Begins. I think Christian Bale is the best Bruce Wayne to ever grace the screen. A carefully mixed cocktail of suave sophistication and psycho-paralysis. The problems I had with Nolan's first effort was the fact that, as soon as Bale put on that mask and cowl, I tuned out. I didn't really care at that point. I wanted to see more of the Bruce Wayne character cutting it up. For the first time in his career, Christian Bale actually looked like he was having some fun. When he put on that black bat suit, time seemed to stop. The guy just looked uncomfortable in it. And I didn't really care all that much about the villain (though I do think Cillian Murphy is quite creepy...Even without that Friday the 13th Part 2 bag over his face). Well, Nolan has returned with a second stab at the world of Gotham, and I'm happy to report that he got almost everything right. Batman still doesn't look like he can move his head very well, and his true action moments do seem a bit stunted, but those are minor grips when it comes to this fist wallop of cinematic immensity. It's an aged whiskey shot of awesomeness that will burn your throat and see a bucket of sweat through the thickest of leather coats. It is so scary at times, it will make even the toughest nine-year-old bully cry. And that's not just hyperbole. I've read the hard sell propaganda revolving around this certain thematic entity. And for once, those cockstingers are right on the mark. This doesn't, by any means, revolutionize the comic book genre. As far as story telling goes, and crafted plot devices run, Sam Raimi still holds the crown with his work on the three Spider-Man films. Heck, the story here is unconscionable at times. Maybe even a little confusing for that younger audience. But it wasn't made for them. This is one of the most adult superhero flicks to ever wash itself over a multiplex screen, and we're the better for it. Watching its heavy weight press against my accelerating heartbeat like the best deep-fried bacon and cheddar cheese sandwich, I could only marvel at its pitch-black soul. I haven't seen a PG-13 rated film this horrifying in a long time. Its attempts at setting up a realistic pulp atmosphere ultimately achieve a blissful state of being, and in the end we are given a truly masterful codpiece of summer filmmaking. Nolan uses each and every spare second he has to build a beautiful superhero template the likes of which we've rarely ever seen before. The same tired old structure has been used to fence a tone-perfect script that makes sense in all that right ways. Sure, we've seen the Joker escape from jail before. But never with so much conviction and truthful talent. These outlandish creatures of the night have been given a genuine existence and a certain sense of humanity that hasn't ever quite crept into the Batman cannon before. Nolan has seemingly fixed the flaws of his first Batman film. He's ditched a lot of the drab downtime. And he's taken some of the high camp ideas we first saw in the Adam West TV show and turned them into a frightening sketch, weaving these ideas within the fabric of a very authentic Gotham City. About Heath Ledger, I'll just say: Everything you've heard is true and then some. Our dearly departed gay cowboy isn't as good as the hype surrounding his performance...He is above it and better than any single quote that has whored his name. His work here is something you should really seek out on your own. Just know: No amount of praise can prepare you for what this talent kid does on screen. It makes the film re-watchable on so many levels. And it's a marvel to watch. The most amazing thing about Heath's performance is, you are never thinking of Heath Ledger when you are watching the Joker. He has truly become this wicked, insane lunatic. Heath gets lost in that skin. It's a tremendous showcase for the unseen talent this guy was hiding. And it's a spectacular curtain bow, the likes of which most actors don't ever get a chance to leave us with. One last thing: I cannot implore you enough to seek this film out at an IMAX theater. Six of The Dark Knight's action sequences have been filmed using an actual IMAX camera, and the experience is euphoric. You almost reach a drug-like buzz sitting there, trying to take it all in. One might compare it to an out-of-body experience. You literally feel as though you could step out of your chair and walk right into the actors' mouths. I have no doubt that this will be the highest grossing IMAX film of all time. Heck, it's tracking to be the biggest film of the summer as well as the highest weekend opener of all time. Does it deserve that special place in our box office heart charts? Sure it does. This is one you guys aren't going to want to miss. But you already knew that. One tiny suggestion: Buy your ticket now. You might still get in during its first week of release. If you're lucky.
Starting a Rumer? Whoop-doo!
The House Bunny's number one celebuspawn? Whoop-doo! I've seen some pretty nasty things written about Rumer Willis on sites like Perez Hilton and Egotastic. They constantly go on to attack the poor nineteen-year-old girl for being an unattractive, unfortunate looking retch whose only talent is coat-tailing her famous parents. I get it, and I understand that it's fun to poke nasty business at the rich kids of Hollywood. But at the same time, it's incredibly rude and uncouth to take pot shots at a teen girl during her hardest formative years. She didn't asked to be shoved into this sort of spotlight. And constantly calling her names is a mean business tactic that has only fueled the hate I feel for this Perez Hilton character. I guess it makes him feel better about himself. And he needs the boost. He looks like a giant mutant ape that got shot in the face by a Gatling gun full of retard bullets. He's the last motherfucker on the planet that should be calling someone ugly. Or telling them that they need plastic surgery. Seriously, they haven't invented the tools that could fix this cock taco's fugly face. He's ten times scary then Heath Ledger's performance in The Dark Knight. Perez Hilton gives catty fags a bad name. I wouldn't normally be calling his discount bin troll-looking mug out, but part of my job is sifting through websites like his for news stories. On occasion, I will read these hateful blast pieces he so lovingly spits into the darkest recesses of cyberspace. And I didn't realize it, but they had affected my state of mind. When I was told I was going to be interviewing Rumer Willis for The House Bunny, I started dreading it. For no other reason than the spiteful things I've heard coming out these obnoxious websites. I don't know the girl. I don't know what she is about, or who she is. But still, because of what people like that cellar dweller Perez had stated in the past, my first inclination was to go, "Ick." Then I saw The House Bunny. And Rumer damn near steals the show. Not quite, but close enough. It would be unfair of me to point her out as the film's one saving grace, though, as this is an ensemble piece and the nerdy girls that make up the Zeta Tau Zeta enclave deserve a team effort award. They are all great. But my focus was on Rumer. Trapped in a Robocop like body cast, she willingly pokes fun at herself and seemingly has a blast doing it. She's funny, and talented, and looks to have actually learned something about acting from her so-called "famous" parents. My first thought walking out of the theater was, "That girl's kind of cool. God, what a bunch of dicks. Calling her potato head. Those are some assholes." Then I met her in person for our interview. She was very polite and friendly, going out of her way to engagement me in thoughtful conversation outside the realm of "work". Rumer is hilarious in person, and incredibly cute. None of this I was expecting. She kind of took me back a step or two, and I never once thought about Bruce or Demi while chatting with her. While The House Bunny might not be the best comedy, it made me realize that Rumer Willis is actually an actress I like. And I think she earned that bit of praise on her own. Even if her mom and pop are the sole reason for her being on the big screen in the first place. Next time Perez Hilton opens his Michelin mouth, I'll get my friends in the 81 to place a well-deserved soda bomb inside of it. That fascist pig. I hope he dies with a diseased ridden cock shoved in every orifice. He kind of, sort of, deserves it.
The Apatow Gang? Whoop-doo!
Step Brothers and Pineapple Express? Whoop-doo! The Apatow gang is back in full effect this summer. They are coming complete with two classic comedies that will kick you in the face. And you'll love them for it, even if you do walk out of the theater missing a tooth or two. First up is Step Brothers, an improvisational tour de force the likes of which we'd only see made during a writers' strike (Joe Dante's brilliant The 'Burbs comes to mind, as it was made during the 1988-89 writers' strike) . Every moment feels urgent and free, as if Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly have been given carte blanche to run like wild ponies through the darkest corners of suburbia. They play grown-up man-children that must unite as Step Brothers, and, while the film is plotless for the most part, it scrapes a walk-in freezer full of comedy from this high concept premise. The pair haven't been this alive on screen in a while, and we soon grow to understand why they loving working together so much. While Step Brothers has been liberated from the formal three-act beat structure, and while it sometimes seems poorly put together in a thematic sense, this is Adam McKay's best effort as a director to date. It's an intimate character study that soon turns into a non-stop party of screaming banshees. If you're looking for fun, you'll definitely find it here. The other Apatow gang non-surprise this summer is Pineapple Express, which will hit theaters a few weeks after Step Brothers. I say non-surprise because the film is as good as you've heard. Maybe even better, since director David Gordon Green has shaved off some of the excess threads left dangling at the end of his last test screening. He's tightened the bolts, and eased up on the looseness of it all. Where Step Brothers feels like it was entirely thought up on the spot, this movie actually has a driven plot that hinges itself on another luminous screenplay written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (they of last summer's hit comedy Superbad). Sure, there are huge chunks of dialogue that have seemingly come off the cuff, but for the most part, it is as intricately constructed as the best films in the genre. When did I know it was a "true classic"? The moment James Franco's foot goes through the windshield of a cop car during a massive chase scene that is more intense than anything else I've seen this summer (except for maybe the car chase in Wanted). A lot of people have accused the Apatow signature brand of being dick-on-screen flaccid these last few times at bat. Drillbit Taylor, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall are considered by many to be Judd's undoing. Which is too bad, because I highly enjoyed all three of those films, even though they performed less than stellar business at the box office. Well, worry about the diminishing attributes of the Apatow Gang no more. With Step Brothers and Pineapple Express, this rolling enterprise is going to rule the last half of the summer. Guaranteed.
Rose McGowan? Boo!
A Red Sonja" remake? Boo! Why am I booing this? Because director Robert Rodriguez has why too much cool stuff on his plate to be concentrating on some dishrag Conan wanna-be simply so his wife/girlfriend/fuck buddy (what ever it is you want to call her) can have a big screen talent showcase. Rob, buddy, don't you recall what happened to Clint Eastwood during his blue period? That stretch of time where he was catering his films to one Sandra Locke? His art suffered for it. And so will yours. Red Sonja is a so-so character that was done well enough the first time around. It's a dry well someone with your talent doesn't need to be serving cold cups from. Sure, McGowan will look sexy as Hell. But you can't make a worthwhile endeavor on tits alone. You're not Russ Meyer. What the heck happened to Barbarella? Still a centerpiece for Marylyn Manson's sloppy seconds, it's something that actually deserves and needs a redo. What about Sin City 2? We need that more than we need another Brigitte Nelson throwing a huge monkey wrench into the wrought iron workings of an action movie genius. I seriously expected more out of McGowan. She seemed like a cool ass kicker, but now, obviously in the twilight of her career, she is forcing one of our true auteurs into early retirement. And it's sort of sad for both of them. I guess maybe that's why there's news of them breaking up floating around out there in cyberspace. I wouldn't doubt the notion. It would make sense for both of their careers. I don't care how good of a wax job McGowan gives. And on that note, I always like Sandra Locke, too.
Variety Hubbub? Boo!
Variety Steals from the Internet? Boo! Most people that frequent MW probably don't care much about the current on-line war between the trade sites and the movie genre sites. Hubs such as Variety and The Hollywood Reporter have been rightfully accused of stealing stories from the Internet and then not giving credit where credit is due. Boo-hoo! Steven "Frosty" Weintraub of Collider, along with a grip of other sites, has taken up the genre website cause by refusing to link to Variety or The Hollywood Reporter in response to their lax ways of justifying news sources. Fair is fair, right? So, no one is linking to anyone, anywhere. Weeks after Collider publicly declared jihad on trade links, he scored a major scoop: The producers of 300 are making a sequel/prequel to that very film. He has this all on video, which has been up for a good week. Variety turned around and confirmed the story with it's own sources, and then ran their piece without any further mention of Collider. In turn, some sites like our own picked up and "linked" to the Variety story. So, Frosty didn't get those much-needed clicks. Why did we run with the trades? Simple: The person that was doing news last week doesn't frequent Collider. And when Variety refuses to say Frosty's name out loud, our news guy doesn't know to check out the original source. Which is kind of shitty. I know Frosty. And he is hustling hard for these coveted scoops. He basically runs that entire website by himself, so he needs the push. You can check out his story about the whole thing here. Now, that said, as fucked up as it is for Variety and The Hollywood Reporter not to provide links to the original source, when you declare war on someone, you can't expect them to start playing fairly. A good portion of our news, Collider's news, any genre site's news for that matter, comes from these two specific places. For every one story they seemingly scrape off the face of the Internet, we probably take three or four of theirs in return (if not more). We use and abuse these sites to our own liking, so its no wonder they don't look on us with favorable eyes. When we stop linking to them, why should they even mention the Internet at all? I think not linking to the trades is a step in the wrong direction, personally. Because once we stop linking to them, they have no choice but to retaliate and not even mention us (and there's the rub: they never did!). It's like a bunch of piled up Tetris blocks. They did us wrong, now we do them a shit-solid grumpy, and they basically say: "Fuck off!" I don't think it's right for the trades to not credit Frosty where Frosty is due. But on the same note, I can totally see why they didn't run screaming the name of the site that has focused so much attention on their shifty ways. Look, its like this: If I tell a few little kids in a back alleyway that the big men on campus are thieves and shit burglars, those rulers of the roost aren't going to inform their clientele of this small enclave that is striking out against them. Seriously. That is why there is not one mention of Collider in the Variety story. They don't want their massive readership to know or realize that they are dealing with a bunch of douche dogs. Variety is not going to point them in the way of this information. Still. Someone has to fight the fight. So, go, Collider! Me, I'd much rather focus my attention on bringing down some of these copy and paste sites that are suddenly getting a lot of our (as in all of us movie genre sites) traffic. Yeah, Alex B., I'm looking straight at you, you douche knuckle Digg whore. What say we forget about the War on the Trades and take a bat to this guy instead? Huh? Any takers? I get first swing. Seriously, Frosty, if you are out there and you are listening to me, this guy is taking way more hits from you than Variety or The Hollywood Reporter could ever hope to. Just look at his ranking on a site like Alexa. Those are your hits, man, cause that cat's a straight-up speed bump, dick sucking hooker! (Wow! I just realized the metaphor of 300 in comparison to this story. Us genre sites are sort of like the Spartans going up against the Trades, which are clearly the Persian army. With Collider leading the charge like king Leonidas (King Frostias?), we are certainly heading towards the battle of Cyber-Thermopylae! Here is the question: Which side will you choose? Hmm? Maybe you don't even care. I do. Sort of.)
The Return of Big Red? Whoop-doo!
Okay, that's it for me. Now I will throw a few "Boos!" and "Whoop-doos!" out there for you fine W.D. Citizens to discuss amongst yourselves: Hellboy II: The Golden Army? Whoop-doo! This is the best use of practical effects I've seen in the 2000s. The film itself is the ultimate example of unadulterated escapism. The images literally reach out and kidnap your imagination for the better part of two hours. Not my favorite film of the summer by any means, but it is definitely worth checking out for sheer impact volume alone. This second outing is way more accessible than the first. And a damn fine ride. A Friends movie? Super Boo! This sounds excruciating. And this comes from someone that just sat through the Sex and the City movie last night and kind of enjoyed it. Sasha Baron Cohen and Will Ferrell as Sherlock Holmes and Watson? Super Whoop-doo! I loved these guys together in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, and the way I am imagining their second venture together is making me laugh at the Laundromat (LATL for those not up on their chat room lingo). And finally, to all the Hobos that have decided to use my back stoop as a feces receptacle? Boo! When your Mr. Grumpy Uncle Dunkle is built from Canned Corn and a forty, just know that retribution will be paid in full. Fuckers! A CCF turd is serious business. And it is my duty to beat you in the ribs with a giant stick.
Have a wonderful weekend and a happy Fourth of July! Don't forget to drink it up Spooker style. As David Yates says, "Always Remember the two step program: 1) Wake up. 2) Get Waisted!"