"Escape To The Movies"

This is pretty cool.

“The Escapist” has offered me my own imprint for awhile, under the banner of “Escape To The Movies with MovieBob.” I even have theme music… wow.

Innaugural review for the new show is “Up,” which you should really go see right the hell now.


Big thanks to friends, fans, readers and everyone who’s been supportive. This is just awesome.

Facepalm: The Movie

Today is a really, really great day for ANYONE currently producing, about to produce or considering the production of a feature film in any of the myriad “geek” genres. Today, as of right now, they can officially rest easy about the increasingly semi-meaningful outrages of hard-to-please “fanboys”…

…because today, as of right now, there is NOTHING that any of them can do in regards to their projects that can POSSIBLY piss the “fanboy” set off more than this: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/news/e3i666afabc28491e6a5d5861d83ae30855

“Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Movie.” Not the movie of the show, or even a continuation. A remake/reboot of the original movie. New characters, new actors, and almost-certainly no Joss Whedon. Have at it, folks…

Sherlock Holmes trailer

I’m aware that, as someone who just recently used JJ Abrams’ “Not-Your-Father’s-Star-Trek” as a jumping-off point for taking swipes at the practice of retooling cerebrally-oriented older material into flash-first/brains-second “tentpole” action movies; I’m expected to hate the idea of Warner Bros “reimagining” of Sherlock Holmes. Robert Downey Jr. has the title role, Guy Ritchie is directing, and the new-spin places a heavy emphasis on Holmes as a rougish, action-oriented tough guy.

Well, I don’t. Hate it, that is. I’m skeptical as all hell – mostly of Ritchie, a wildly uneven filmmaker who’s thus far failed to prove he has anything to offer beyond superficially-amusing British gangster films – but the premise itself doesn’t bother me all that much. In cinematic terms, Holmes occupies the same rare space as Dracula and Christ… characters that have been done to death a hundred times over to the point that no “departure” could concievably be radical enough to do any kind of “damage.” Hell, the image most people have of the “classical” Sherlock Holmes (deerstalker cap, opera coat, “elementary,” etc.,) has very little to do with the original literary version to begin with.

So, basically, my mind is WIDE OPEN for this movie. This first TRAILER for it, on the other hand… yikes.

The first troubling thing about this trailer, right off the bat, is that it looks like a joke. Not a “comedy.” I mean it looks like a parody… like something “FunnyOrDie” or whoever would cook up as a brutal SATIRE of the idea of Sherlock Holmes as an action franchise – right down to the quippy one-liners, slapstick partial-nudity, fireball-dodging, absurb “bullet-time” fistfight and the “S!! H!!! E!!! R!!!! L!!!!!” title-countdown bit – not something that’s supposed to be the genuine article. I mean, for our introduction to the new-and-improved Holmes he delivers a dry-cool quip, dodges a gunshot and then takes an olympic-style dive from a 5th-story window into The Thames River. Wow. Look, the “traditionalists” were going to be DREADING this thing no matter what… but I bet even they didn’t expect they’d be laughing at it.

But, whatever. Like I said, this character has been reworked and reshaped so many times nothing they seem to be doing here can really be called a “desecration” or any such hyperbolic nonsense. Bare-knuckle boxing? Fine. What appears to be two-handed baton fighting? Sure. Bantering-while-gunfighting opposite Watson like old-timey “Bad Boys?” Works for me. The production has been right up front about going for a kind of Pirates of The Carribean-style Victorian-dress adventure vibe, and so far that mission looks accomplished.

No, what’s raising my red flag here is that the trailer A.) seems to cover a lot of ground and B.) is almost entirely action-oriented. This is character you can add to or subtract from nearly endlessly, but at the end of the day it ALWAYS has to be about one thing: Smart. Holmes is smart. Ridiculously observant, probably the point of what we’d now call OCD, solving mysteries through deductive reasoning via details so small “normal” minds don’t even notice them, much less connect them. We get NO sense of that here. Not one scene shown seems to indicate anything about how Downey is playing (or how the film is visualizing) this central aspect of the character and the franchise. In fact… we don’t really see him doing anything that looks like detective work save for futzing with some old-school lockpicking tools and what looks to be a trick involving dust and hidden draft-sources. Hell, if you look at this divorced from prior knowledge of who this character is supposed to be, it looks as though The Authorities have sought Holmes’ help primarily for his martial-arts and acrobatic skills.

Granted, it’s a trailer and it’s going to go heavy on the action anyway, but… “worrisome,” to say the least. Also, that last bit with the guy and the hammer? Did anyone else get a weird “Wild Wild West” kinda feeling there?


Okay, so… for various reasons I couldn’t talk about this until now, but now I can, so… Yeah.

Here’s how it works: I’m part of a running contest at ScrewAttack.com called “myvidsdontsuck.” It’s a poll in their forums, pitting various vids against one-another by vote. Mine is competing from today until the 19th agains the very, very funny “Rockumentary” HERE: http://www.screwattack.com/myvidsdontsuck/Quarter2

Here’s the thing, though: IF you want to vote (for either of us) you have to register to post in their forums and then do the voting in THIS poll-thread:

I’ll be honest: I’m VERY surprised to be “in this” at all… these other shows are remarkably well-made and funny. But, y’never know, right?


Pictured here at the left: Promotional photoshoot from ParisMatch magazine for “Ne te Retourne pas” (“Be Not Turned Over,” I think,) a French thriller in an apparently David Lynch/”Lost Highway”/”Mulholland Drive” kinda vein with Sophie Marceau and Monica Bellucci.

Two immediate observations. FIRST: No way in hell the movie is as good as it’s own press. SECOND: …Sorry, what were we talking about?

(hat tip: Jeff Wells)

Star Trek review @ "The Escapist"

In which I wind up as apparently one of the lonely dissenters saying that, no, the new “Star Trek” is NOT in fact all that good.

HARD LINK: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/the-escapist-presents/721-MovieBob-Reviews-Star-Trek

I will say, though, that it provided plenty of material to make reviewing it a good deal of fun. There’s few things worse than a movie that’s both dissapointing AND dull.

Battle for Terra

Lost amid the shuffle as people dashed to theaters to find out if “Wolverine” was as bad as it looked or worse was this well-intentioned mid-budget gem, a semi-indie animated space opera retrofitted into a 3D release as counterprogramming. It’s an imperfect film that shoots a little too high for it’s own good, but fans of solid nuts-and-bolts oldschool science fiction oughtn’t miss it consider how poorly this summer is shaping up for genre fans.

When I say oldschool I mean it: Despite the shiny CGI rendering, the story and setting is the exact type of stuff you’d expect to see thumbing through an old Pulp anthology with “Amazing” or “Astonishing” in the title. It’s all set in and around Planet Terra, home to a race of tadpole-like floating aliens living a nominally-naturalistic existance under the benevolent rule of Elders who’s only big rules seem to be “no unaproved technological advances” and “don’t go near the Forbidden Place” (Yeah, that’s goin’ EXACTLY where you think it is, but try and act surprised anyway) which are enough to mildly-chaffe our principal hero, mechanically-inclined tomboy Mala. In any case, Terra finds itself under invasion – and, subsequently, outright attack – by spacefaring humans. These, we learn, are the last survivors of Earth – wiped out ages ago in an intergalactic Civil War and now roaming space in a deteriorating mega-ship. Deteriorating is the key word, here: They’re running out of resources, and the only available planet that can be properly colonized is, well… guess. Problem: Terrans and Humans don’t breath the same stuff, so “terraforming” Terra means bye-bye for the natives. This means war, with Mala and a human fighter-pilot she rescues from a crash (shockingly, that DOESN’T go where you think it’s going) are caught in the middle of it.

So, the story isn’t exactly original, but it plays it’s well-worn hand straight and keeps the details fresh enough to mitigate the creakiness. The fact that ALL of the characters are smartly written and well-rounded makes a huge difference: The Terran Elders AREN’T religious-nut jerks… they’re good guys who’re somber about their decisions and practical in their motivations – when the citizens leap to the conclusion that the humans are “gods,” The Elders cooly inform them that, no, they are invaders and we’ve got a fight to prepare for. Jim Stanton, the main human hero, stays believably conflicted about his place in the unfolding war but also retains a military-man’s sense of duty. The principal villian – a human general who’d rather conquer Terra straight-on than try and negotiate a third way – is appropriately rotten but not a one-dimensional monster; there’s an element of wounded weariness that suggests he really does believe he’s doing the right thing in the long run (“If I sin, future generations will judge me; but without me there won’t BE any future generations.”) although he does have a SPECTACULAR “oh you bastard!” moment when we come to the expected “who’s side are you on?” breakdown. The bulk of the humans AND the Terrans are both played as decent people trying to do the right thing, which puts a darker than usual twist on the big 3rd-act dogfight where, for a change, every death (and there’s plenty) seems tragic and futile – there’s not a “gotcha, sucka!!!” takedown in sight.

It’s even missing the expected preachiness about the futility of war or broad eco-themes: There’s no “space-Ghandi” moment of passive-resistance for the Terrans, nor some mystical “fix” for all the killing. When push comes to shove, the Terrans take to warfare and it’s attendant technologies with gusto and do a fine job at going all Ewok on Earthforce’s ass. “War is not the answer?” Not here, here it does the job just fine… it’s just not super-happy about it.

Ultimately, the film falls short of it’s own ambitions. It’s a little too short to cram in all the big ideas and details it wants to, and while the Terrans are pretty interesting from a design standpoint (rarely has a “good-guy” alien race been so decidedly non-human… they don’t even have LEGS!) the humans are a little too animated-looking (think “Team Fortress 2”) for their own good. And, of course, being a youth-targeted film it probably wraps up a bit too tidy.

Still, those are minor quibbles. In the places that COUNT this is a fine film and easily one of the best REAL sci-fi stories to hit theatres in a long time. It’s a movie that really deserves your attention, much moreso than most others out right now.

Nagging "Wolverine" questions

Now that we’ve had time to absorb just how badly “Wolverine” sucks (99% of people who actually care if it was good or not went before Sunday) and the more-important “is the movie any good?” objective review is out of the way… now for the nitpicky movie-geek stuff regarding all the things that just don’t make sense.

This of course comes with a hellaciously big SPOILER WARNING!!!


-Allowing for the sake of argument that pre-surgery Wolverine’s bone-claws can be chalked up to an outgrowth of his accelerated healing powers (i.e. if his body can regenerate cells and tissue so quickly, it can also rapidly-generate bone growths) where exactly do they “go” when he’s done with them? Do they fall off? He can’t just absorb them back in – the matter would have to go somewhere.

-Speaking of claws, why would coating his main skeleton with metal cause his claws to take the shape of perfectly set, filed and weighted knife-blades?

-For THAT matter, if his claws are biological WHY do we see the blades set into his forearms on a spring-and-hinge system in his x-rays in “X-Men?”

-Given that the story basically “reveals” that the infamous Three Mile Island disaster was actually a cover-up for the damage caused during a brawl between Wolverine, Sabertooth and Weapon XI, that places the events of this story in and around about 1979. Given that, where did Stryker get all his brand-new looking computer tech? (His team’s guns and other gear also look pretty post-90s, overall.)

-The opening scene’s subtitle informs us that young-Wolverine’s family’s estate is in “Northwest Territories Canada” in (IIRC) 1864. The country we call Canada did not exist by that name until 1867, and the Northwest Territories weren’t PART of it until 1870.

-No one in this film calls Victor Creed “Sabertooth,” but that was the “real name” of the Sabertooth encountered in “X-Men,” so it stands to reason that this is the same guy. He never brings up that Wolverine is his brother in that film, though you’d imagine he’d be surprised to see him after all this time. Now, maybe he ALSO got shot with a magic amnesia-bullet at some point, fine… but don’t you think this connection might’ve come up when he and Toad were having their minds looked-around-in/controlled by powerful psychics (or am I misrecalling that part?)

-Evidently, Silverfox’s powers of psychic suggestion are so strong that her “orders” are still in effect at a range of what would have to be hundreds of miles AND after her death. If so, why is Stryker spending so much time making a remote-control ninja frakenmutant when he has someone already in his employ who can turn ANYONE into an unquestioning soldier/assassin/whatever by tapping them on the shoulder?

-If Emma (Frost?) Silverfox’s skin turns into literal diamonds – the hardest substance on earth – couldn’t she have slipped her cage any time by simply dragging her hand back-and-forth across the bars really fast? It’s not like any WEAPON they have can harm her.

-Professor X contacts young Cyclops while he’s IN Three-Mile Island and picks him up there, which means that both of them know that the “meltdown” was actually a mutant fight. Wolverine, though he’s lost his memory, is ON said Island when he wakes up and must at least know he was “on hand” shortly-after and likely during whatever went down there. Apparently, the “coincidence” of this has never once come up between these three men when they meet again years later; and somehow I doubt “the first thing I remember is waking up in the remains of 3 Mile Island” would NOT be mentioned during his various psych-sessions at X Mansion.

-Agent Zero has the mutant power to rip-off scenes from “Equilibrium,” which makes him a master gunfighter. He employs these skills when sent to hunt a freshly-escaped Wolverine. During said hunt, we eventually know that Stryker already has super-special bullets that can both pierce Wolverine’s skeleton AND give him amnesia. Agent Zero is NOT using these bullets because…?

-How did they actually convinced him that Silverfox was dead, since his feral senses of hearing and smell would tell him IMMEDIATELY that her heart was not stopped and that it wasn’t her blood.

-Weapon XI/Deadpool’s optic-blast can cut through solid stone AFTER he has been beheaded, but it doesn’t go all the way through Victor Creed?

– Young Cyclops is blindfolded the whole time and never actually sees Wolverine, fine. But all the OTHER kids who go off with Xavier alongside him DID. You’d think at some point he’d ask about how the cages got opened, and that one of the dozen or so others would mention “gut with knife-hands did it,” yet this never comes up when he meets Wolverine again as an adult?

…did I miss any?