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Oh look, a trainwreck.

Let’s just get this out of the way really quick: Suicide Squad is mostly dogshit but there are a few moments where it firmly enters genuine “so bad it’s good” territory and other moments where it’s trying so goddamn hard to manipulate you into feeling something that you just wanna say “good job, little guy” and give it a pat on the head. There’s even a few moments that feel earned, where the glimmer of a better movie is almost visible. But mostly it’s dogshit.

Why? God, where do I even start. It’s a music video of loosely connected moments, an insultingly hackneyed plot, and poorly constructed characterizations which are usually good for a laugh or an incredulous “what the fuck?” but rarely more. There’s also that it’s the most smugly, overtly misogynistic mainstream movie I’ve seen in a long time. May our inner fourteen year olds cheer. I mean, there’s definitely an audience for this. The anti-PC crowd will eat up every utterance of “bitch” or “ho”, every sexed up costume and variation on “women be crazy“. I already know from the audience I saw it with that women getting punched in the face at the drop of a dime is just delightful. Your faith in humanity will not be well served by Suicide Squad audiences, but that’s nothing unusual. More than the overall quality of the movie, I was surprised by the misogyny. I like David Ayer. FuryEnd of Watch, and Training Day are all fantastic films. But his aesthetic is “street” and here it is the kind of street evoked by youtube gangsta rappers who are trying too hard. Likely, this is where the unaddressed misogyny comes from: it’s part of the assumed iconography of “street” culture where there’s men and there’s bitches or hos or bitch-hos. I think the script of Suicide Squad says a lot about what he and the other creatives for the DC movieverse think about the fans of these stories and characters, though. I think instead of whining to critics (or threatening them) or trying to sue because Joker isn’t in the movie enough, these fanboys ought to vote with their dollars (and their attention) and give WB a reason to stop hiring people who think so little of them. Of all of us, really.

Anyway, yeah, Suicide Squad is really bad. Is it worse than Batman vs. Superman? I don’t know. Do you compare dogshit to catshit very often? They’re two of the worst superhero movies in recent memory, I can tell you that much. And yet. And yet, Suicide Squad is also a fascinating watch. I was never bored. Very much like the first viewing of a Michael Bay Transformers movie, I was kind of transfixed (and yes, entertained) by what I was seeing and hearing. Sometimes I could not believe the movie and other times I was almost on the hook for a heroic moment or a badass line. I think it’s fair to say I was never “with” this movie, and my enjoyment was almost always at its expense. This movie might have had something, but it’s like watching Jared Leto play hot potato with himself for almost two hours. Or like an episode of The Venture Brothers that wasn’t trying to be a parody. Read the rest of this entry »

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This post is a reaction to the overwhelmingly weird reaction many critics are having to the inclusion of SHIELD and pre-Avengers continuity hustle in the various Marvel movies to date. If you doubt that there is such a reaction, go take a peek at a few reviews from the more geek-savvy blogs, sites, and critics out there. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Convinced? Good. I really didn’t want to have to link a pile of reviews and seriously ask you to read them before reading what I have to say here. Read the rest of this entry »

Thor is ultimately about these two fellas right here.

There was no way a Marvel superhero movie about a technological super-being version of a Norse God was going to work was there? With all that spectacle edging into the pretty grounded version of the superhero universe established by Iron Man (and its sequel) or The Incredible Hulk, it was all destined to fall apart wasn’t it? Too many ridiculous hats and just too goddamn much power in the hands of a guy who ultimately has to work with other, arguably less powerful, individuals in order to stop some titanic threat in a later movie we know is happening. Just no way Thor was ever going to be made to fit with all that shit.

Or was there? Read the rest of this entry »

Well, they’ve cast the lead role in the reboot of Spider-Man as a film franchise. Ignoring the obvious questions about why this is happening, whether anyone cares, etc for a moment, I wanted to talk a bit about this casting and how it fits my particular preference for the character. Moreover, I will talk a bit about some of the stuff I’d like to see different in a new version, always hoping that they get as far away as possible from Raimi’s trilogy, of which I am not a fan.

First, the casting. Apparently, they were gonna go with a kid named Josh Hutcherson who I’ve liked in a few things (Zathura, Bridge to Terabithia, and The Vampire’s Assistant). The thing is, Hutcherson is a square-faced and tough looking kid who looks more like Harry Potter than Peter Parker in a pair of dorky glasses. He’s also short and compact which is all wrong. Tobey Maguire was a stocky little Spider-Man. In the Ultimates reimagining of Marvel comics, the well from which much of the movie versions of Marvel properties  are pulled, he’s a puny little teenager. Okay, fair. But he’s also a scrawny miter, too. I’ve always thought of Spider-Man as an agile, gymnastic hero and that translates to lithe and long-limbed. Something more like a couple of Todd Mcfarlane renderings I’ve seen where the guy looks like a web-swinging contortionist. I’m not sure I dig the ultra emaciated look, as seen here:

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But it comes pretty close. Except they were gonna have Josh Hutcherson play him. I like that guy, but he’s stocky vs. wiry, sort of, and just seems obvious and wrong.

And to me, he just looks too normal. I’ve seen his fight audition (http://chud.com/articles/articles/24612/1/PREVIOUSLY-POSSIBLE-PUNY-PARKER-PUMMELS-PRICKS/Page1.html) and he looks too bulky. Even the fake acne and bad hair don’t help and be hasically looks like a slightly less goofy Tobey Maguire. Why would they want that, right?

Well apparently they don’t because they got Andrew Garfield instead:

Now the guy is 6 feet tall which might be excessive. That said, he’s slim as fuck and probably doesn’t have the body type to bulk up too much even if he gets a bit shredded for the role. Only please, Sony… not another overnight muscle flex scene. It worked in Raimi’s flick for the nerd wish-fulfillment but we ought to differentiate ourselves from that else we defeat the purpose.

Anyway, Garfield is a legit Brit. He’s what they call a “real actor”. I’ve seen him in a bunch of interesting films, and he doesn’t stink of generic teen heartthrob in the making. He’s a handsome lad, sure, but he’s also gawky and awkward and if you doubt it you just need to see Boy A in which he’s kind of a British Peter Parker anyway (with fun twists). In addition, he was good in the mediocre Lions for Lambs and the flawed The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. He takes risks, works with high-profile directors, and is well out of his kiddie movie phase. He looks great in the upcoming scifi Never Let Me Go and that Facebook movie, The Social Network (which will probably grab him a lot of recognition around the time the Spider-Man buzz heats up).

So yeah, as far as I’m concerned Andrew Garfield is a kick-ass choice. That they bumped it up to college as opposed to High School (we’ve been there, done that) also makes casting a 27 year old less jarring.

Aside from all the BS about who’s playing the guy, there’s something else I think Raimi’s version never got right (don’t get me started, I have a list) and that is how Spider-Man should move… especially in a fight. Now that Parkour has sort of hit it big and even faded away from action films to an extent, it’s a valid basis for Spidey’s non-swinging rooftop acrobatics. Spider-Man should fucking own Parkour. He should be its mascot. Aside from that, Spider-Man should be an acrobatic, erratic fighter since Peter Parker shouldn’t know how to fight but should be self-taught based on the strengths his powers grant. I would suggest to the people making this movie that they bring a bit more grit and non-CG stuntwork into the mix. Give Spidey moves based on Capoeira, that very fluid and acrobatic Brazilian martial art which has so rarely appeared in film. A demonstration of what a group of Capoeiristas/gymnasts can do without wires:

THAT is how Spider-Man should move. Get a slim enough dude to do the stunts in-costume and shoot it right? Well, do that and at the very least the action will stand out from pretty much every other comic book superhero movie made in the last 10 odd years. Maybe except for Kick-Ass.

I wish I knew Marc Webb (who directed last year’s amazing 500 Days of Summer and will be directing the Spider-Man reboot project). If I did, I’d be full of suggestions like these. I seriously think I could help make a pretty good Spider-Man movie.

They’ve got a good start with their actor. If Michael Fassbender is really going to show up as the villain, we’ll be getting even further especially if they avoid the tendency in Raimi’s films for B-movie level overacting. Yes, it’s a comic book movie but no it isn’t Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie.

So please, if you’re listening:

Get a better Mary Jane, do at least as well with Harry Osbourne, and for crying out loud tone down the sappy bullshit and we’ll be getting somewhere that not only the cynical fans of both the comic books and previous movies will pay attention to but also the core audience. Give us more dancing emo Pete silliness, as fun as that was in its own way, and you’ll lose the chance to capitalize on this opportunity.

Because naysayers be damned, this is an opportunity.

So the final volume of Scott Pilgrim came out Tuesday. Leanne bought it for me on her lunch break because I had this irrational fear it would be sold out. We hit up Taste of Saskatchewan and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Tuesday night so I opted to save the book for the bus ride to work Weds morning. I would read it in 2 parts… perfect!

My first encounter with Scott Pilgrim came from a one-shot on free comic book day. Who were these sarcastic youths? What was up with soft drinks chosen for their stat bonuses, referencing the standard RPG accessorizing? Just what the fuck was this thing?

Next I started hearing about the books and possible movie on CHUD.com via Devin Faraci who was then a New Yorker and huge fan. Soon, I tracked the books down myself via the internet and finally read them. Recently, when the movie started to become a reality I revisited them and then bought the first 5, determined to sling the shit on my friends like pure Colombian snow.

And now a major part of that journey is over and I need to talk about these books.

MUST WARN! SPOILERS AHEAD!


I read the thing and it hit all the right spots, stuck the landing, and managed to surprise me. It didn’t end how I was expecting. I really thought we’d have some kind of “mature” conclusion that Scott and Ramona simply didn’t belong together, both merely projecting onto each other some salvation from their usual hang-ups, foibles, and insecurities. Instead of relying on each other for motivation, they would learn to stand on their own two feet and slay their demons without using each other as an excuse. Or at least Scott would. I almost expected the end to not be overly friendly to Ramona, actually. After all, she bailed!

But thank sweet fuck that shit didn’t happen. Instead, they do still figure out how to conquer some of their demons both on their own and by very literally taking ’em out together. The conclusion is that sure, it’s hard, but it’s worth it to try and make it together. Very nice and not nearly as predictable or sappy as you might figure from the outset.

Plus, they finish Gideon Graves with a fucking Chrono Trigger X-Strike. How cool is that?

So now that the books are over, we have the movie in a few weeks and the 4-player side-scrolling beat ’em up game to follow. It looks like Scott’s next battle will be an easy victory over the hearts and minds of people who haven’t been following the books for years. Once the movie comes out, people will read them in droves. The game will probably be less pervasive but still, every little campaign into the mainstream will do its part to increase Scott Pilgrim’s footprint and exposure. Usually I am suspicious of big trendy shit, like Twilight or UFC or Justin Bieber. In this case, I hope the shit infects everyone like Captain Trips.

There’s a whole generation of us raised up into our early adulthood with indie rock, nintendo, awkward relationships, abusive friendships, and various challenges posed by just getting by in a world that doesn’t really give a fuck what’s going on in our head, but what we do about it. All that and cute girls, snappy dialogue, sweet combat, and killer robots. There’s an entire untapped sea of just the sort of nerds Brian Lee O’Malley was writing this for who are going to be screaming for it when they see the movie. Right now they watch those trailers and are either “Michael Cera again?” or “What the fuck is this? Awesome!!!” and if the early buzz is any indicator, they are going to collectively shit themselves. Toilets will be backed up all over the world. And they’re going to go out and buy those books, or borrow them from smug friends like me who were in on it all along.

Today it’s Scott Pilgrim Day at the San Diego Comic Con. And the world, man.

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