Friday, June 27, 2008

Of Bloodlust, Bender and Shameless Self Promotion

It’s been one of those weeks for sure. With stress coming at me from all angles, I’ve been in need of some DVD therapy. Sure, unwinding with some good ol’ fashioned Grand Theft Auto usually does the trick, but when you’re coming home from work after 9 p.m., I dare you to have the energy to enter the weapons cheat and commit copious amounts of digital crime before passing out controller-in-hand. No, I needed some scripted, passive mayhem. I needed Rambo.

I don’t know if any of you have seen the awkwardly titled Rambo (it’s actually the fourth in the series following Rambo III, so mull over that for a while) but it’s 91 minutes of pure HGH-infused gore-porn awesomeness. Sly kicks a whole lot of ass, straight and simple.

So yeah, I got it into my shiny noggin that Rambo would do me good this week. I ventured into Best Buy and was surprised to learn that, earlier this week, the latest Futurama straight-to-DVD feature, The Beast with a Billion Backs had hit shelves. Funny, I thought, I really enjoy Futurama when I catch it on Comedy Central (and formerly on Cartoon Network), but I’d never purchased any of the boxed sets. But there they were at the reasonable price of $20 a pop. Naturally, I put my vicarious bloodlust on hold in favor of marathon sessions of Fry, Leela, Bender and the gang. It was the best $80 (plus tax) I’ve spent in a long while. Laughter trumps violence. Who knew?

Like Arrested Development, I’ve always thought of Futurama as one of those really intelligent shows that Fox saw fit to can after just a few seasons for no good reason. Perhaps they’re allergic to brilliance, or perhaps they thought we’d be more into dog shit like So You Think You Can Dance? in lieu of good writing.

Speaking of good writing (shameless plug) be sure to check out my Broken Frontier preview of the upcoming Warner Bros. straight-to-DVD feature Batman: Gotham Knight, which hits shelves and On Demand digital cable on July 8.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

No Love for The Love Guru

When I first saw the previews for Mike Myers' The Love Guru, one thing was immediately clear: the one-time heir apparent to the comedy throne has been unseated in his five-year hiatus from live-action comedy. Waynes's World was gold.The Austin Powers movies were hilarious. The first two Shrek movies were fun. Hell, I'm one of the few people who regularly quotes So I Married an Axe Murderer ("Head! Move!"). I'm among the five people who own a copy of Wayne's World 2 on DVD. Granted, it came packaged with the first one. Nevertheless, I'm a fan of the man's work...aside from The Cat and the Hat, but I won't go into that one. I'm not sure how many pro-life readers I have, so I find it inappropriate to write about cinematic abortions.

Not that The Love Guru looks much better. From the brief clips I've seen, Myers' character Guru Pitka is a warmed-over Austin Powers with a cringe-inducing (and near-offensive) Indian makeover. And he's brought Verne Troyer (Mini-Me) back with him, to ensure that we'll get a healthy dose of midget humor (haha, he's tiny!) to go along with the dick, piss and fart jokes. Mind you, a great dick joke goes a long way, but from what I saw in the trailer, the ones in The Love Guru are a bit flaccid. Yep. Went there.

My point is, if I have one, is that these once-great comedic actors, such as Myers and Adam Sandler (star of another summer '08 dud, You Don't Mess with the Zohan) need to try harder. A dick joke ("nut sack." Get it? "Nut." "Sack.") is just a dick joke, but in the hands (the joke, not the dick) of someone like Judd Apatow, it can be something fresh and new. But, much like his most beloved character Austin Powers, it seems like Myers' sense of humor was cryogenically frozen long ago. Can someone please thaw it out?

Oh, and if you are thinking of seeing this dreck, please peruse The Love Guru's Rotten Tomatoes page. As of this writing, it's at 10 percent and quite rotten. This says a lot. Moviegoers, consider yourselves warned.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Information Overload

I’m a journalist in the information age, so you might call me a bit of a workaholic. You see, with the growing popularity of this Internet thing, it’s nearly impossible for me to glance at an article, watch a movie, listen to an album, read a book or fire up a video game without thinking of a way to respond to it, throw in some flashy language and slap my name on it for an audience that may or may not give a damn about what I have to say. It’s the curse of the digital soapbox—a need to assimilate information and self-brand it with a byline.

As a culture, we’re addicted to information, no matter how trivial, lewd or sensationalist it may be. Lindsay Lohan (gasp). Amy Winehouse (gasp). Miley Cyrus (gasp). In 2008, the American dollar may be flimsy, but bullshit remains the strongest currency of the realm. And we love it, don’t we? We flip on our computers each morning to watch the world turn and see celebrity lives unfold—and collapse—and it gets us through the day. But blogs (yes, I’m including this one in my criticism) don’t let the phenomenon end there. We’re compelled to spread the word in a global game of telephone whichever way we can. If you’re a writer, you might bang out a few snark-laden lines on a blog, where you're not subject to an editor, a fact checker or a legal team. We're free to write things like “panda bears are an excellent source of calcium.” It then becomes information that can be seen by anyone from anywhere in the world. And the addiction continues. Information, response. Information, response. The peddler becomes the addict. The addict, the peddler.

But, alas, I’m ranting. After I finished dinner, took a shower and reached into the fridge for a Sam Adams earlier this evening, the first place my mind wandered to was “what did I experience today that I want to write about?” I drew a blank. And this frustrated me. A quiet night at home was transformed into writer’s block—a phenomenon that infuriated me to no end. But why should it? I came to the conclusion that I’m addicted to regurgitating information, trying to put my own spin on what countless people across the globe already know as if it mattered.

But perhaps it does matter. If one person gets a chuckle out of something I’ve written or if they come across a story that they wouldn’t have seen otherwise, then I suppose I’ve done my job. That’s why I became a writer, after all. Maybe my addiction is to that very exchange of ideas, and not the narcissistic need to run my mouth.

There’s the information. What’s your response?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Hulk Smash M. Night Shyamalan!!!

Reuters reports that Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk took in $54.5 million this weekend, putting the franchise revival at the top of the box office in its opening week. The green goliath went head-to-head with M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening, which took third place this weekend with only $30.5 million.
Thankfully, most filmgoers were smart enough not to fall for the desperate marketing of Shyamalan's "first R-rated movie," a fact beaten into our heads more than a few times in the film's advertising. Let me guess, the film starts off with an interesting premise which is then tainted by an asinine twist? If this film is a dud, I thnk it's time that Hollywood puts this one-trick pony out to pasture.
As for The Incredible Hulk? Thoroughly enjoyable, and an exciting addition to the ever-growing cinematic Marvel Universe. Click here for my full review at Broken Frontier.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Robert Downey Jr. Owes His Life to the Burger King

Remember that scene in Iron Man when, after narrowly escaping a terrorist hideout in his brand-new set of iron overalls, Tony Stark immediately asks for an American cheeseburger? Remember when everyone in the theater groaned when Tony was handed a Burger King bag—logo prominently displayed—in a flagrant showcase of product placement? Well, the appearance of the scene-stealing Whopper may not have been as commercially-driven as we all thought it was.

One-time drug addict and Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr. told Britain's Empire magazine that in 2003, while driving down the Pacific Coast Highway in a car filled with "tons of f--king dope," a visit to the fast food chain resulted in a life-changing decision to abandon his addiction, rethink his life and toss his drugs into the ocean.

"I have to thank Burger King," the star told Empire. "It was such a disgusting burger I ordered. I had that, and this big soda, and I thought something really bad was going to happen." It's not the most glowing endorsement, but hey, that "disgusting burger" may have saved Downey Jr.'s life.

And with the success of Iron Man, which has rocketed past the $500 million mark worldwide—things are indeed looking up for the once-troubled star. Look for his highly-publicized cameo in Marvel Studios' The Incredible Hulk on June 13.


Friday, June 6, 2008

"Nuked the Fridge" Enters the Pop Culture Lexicon

When I saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, there was one scene in particular that left me scratching my shiny, clean-shaven dome long after leaving the theater. When Indy ends up in the middle of a nuclear test site in the Nevada desert, he seeks refuge in a refrigerator, which protects him from the atomic explosion that sends him rocketing hundreds and hundreds of feet from the blast zone. You see, the fridge was lined with lead, protecting the aging archaeologist from radiation and, apparently, saving him from the bodily harm one would naturally associate with icebox air travel.

This scene was the first—and not the last—moment of the film where the viewer can do little but shake their head and wonder what George Lucas and Steven Spielberg hoped to accomplish by including such a ludicrous and ultimately pointless scene. It was the Indiana Jones series' "jump the shark" moment, threatening the audience's suspension of disbelief along with the integrity of the piece as a whole. But "jump the shark" is such an archaic phrase, ushered in when Arthur Fonzarelli jumped over a shark on water skis in a 1977 episode of Happy Days. Over 30 years later, a new term was born. In 2008, the Indiana Jones series officially "nuked the fridge."

Don't get me wrong, I thought Crystal Skull was a fun movie, and was just as good as the previous Indiana Jones sequels. But I cannot defend this fridge nuking scene, and neither can the folks at Nuked the Fridge who describe the term as:

" expression, similar to jumped the shark, used by movie fans and critics alike to denote the point in which a film or television program veers off into the realm of the ridiculous and stupid. It is a moment that the story being viewed stops becoming believable, and becomes so over the top that any reaction other than laughter is impossible. Laughter in the 'we are laughing at you, not with you' sense. This is also the point of no return for the said movie or film franchise, as there is no way to steer it away from the disaster it has become. In the case of a successful and popular film franchise, it is the moment where the viewer wishes the film makers had stopped at the previous film and left well enough alone."

Harsh, yes, but also hilarious. Check out their movie news and reviews here.

Transformers 2 Has a Title!

If you're like me, your one concern regarding the upcoming Transformers sequel is how many gratuitous shots of Megan Fox's glistening midriff director Michael Bay has planned. Okay, the giant transforming robots are pretty cool too.

Apparently, the second film in the series will be called Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. Personally, I think it's kind of bland when they could have easily gone with How Megatron Got His Groove Back or Transformers 2: New Characters Mean New Toys.

Since it is Friday, here's Megan Fox from the first flick for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Meet "Powerhouse Lucas"

Hey Wortmaniacs. Every now and then, I come across a news item that's so bizarre that I have to read it two or three times just to make sure that it's not some sort of caffeine-induced hallucination, but this is apparently legit.

Star Wars and Indiana Jones creator George Lucas has produced some of the highest grossing films in history. But did you know that he also produced a mixed martial artist? His 27-year-old daughter Amanda made her in-ring debut at the Princesses of Pain event in Auckland, New Zealand last weekend, earning the stage name "Powerhouse Lucas." You simply can't make this stuff up.

Click here to read the full story.