Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Mega Man 2 Rap

Child of the 80s? You may have spent a lot of time with the Mega Man games. More specifically, Mega Man 2: Arguably the crown jewel of the 8-bit series. Thanks to The Adventures of Duane and BrandO, you may never look at this game (or listen to its music) the same way again.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ghostbusters 3 to Team Younger Cast with Series Vets

Who ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts? Harold Ramis, who co-wrote the first two Ghostbusters films and starred as Dr. Egon Spengler, our favorite collector of spores, molds and fungus. While promoting his upcoming film Year One, which stars Jack Black and hits theaters June 19, Ramis told MTV News that he will reprise his role in a third film along with fellow ‘busters Bill Murray (Dr. Peter Venkman) and Dan Aykroyd (Dr. Ray Stantz). The MTV story doesn’t mention whether or not Ernie Hudson (Winston Zeddemore) will return, but it wouldn’t be the same without him. He’s “seen shit that’ll turn you white!”

“We’re all going to be in it in different kinds of roles,” Ramis explained. “We’re going to be the sage mentors. There are going to be young Ghostbusters.”
Ramis is reportedly waiting on the first draft of a Ghostbusters 3 script from Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, two writer/producers on NBC’s The Office. “I’m consulting with them, as is Dan Aykroyd and [original director] Ivan Reitman,” he told MTV.
While he’s yet to officially sign on to the project, Murray has expressed renewed interest in reprising his Peter Venkman role after doing voicework for Ghostbusters: The Video Game, due for release in June.
“Bill Murray is just waiting for the truckload of money to arrive to get him out of his office,” joked Ramis.
A director has not yet been announced, but according to MTV, Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad, Pineapple Express) is attached as a producer. His alleged involvement has sparked a great deal of casting speculation that Apatow regulars such as Paul Rudd, Jason Segel or Seth Rogen may be strapping on proton packs in the very near future. In that case, what’re the odds that there will be at least one “crossing the streams” piss joke?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spider-Man's Next Opponents? Theater Critics

The New York Post joined theater insiders for an early glimpse at Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, a $40 million Broadway production slated to open at the Hilton Theatre in January of next year. Directed by Julie Taymor (The Lion King) with music by U2’s Bono and The Edge, the Marvel Comics rock musical is said to combine Cirque du Soleil acrobatics, 3D projections and massive sets.

According to the Post, the story will center on Peter Parker who, as Spider-Man, will battle comic book villains such as the Green Goblin, Carnage, Electro, Rhino, Swarm and the Lizard. As if the show wasn’t crowded enough, Spidey will contend with new villain Swiss Miss, with a costume that “consists of rotating knives and swirling corkscrews," writes Michael Riedel. Blech.

Speaking as a longtime Spider-Man fan, everything about this show—from the title to its dubious new villain—sounds kind of lame. However, it could work, and I’m curious to see how this project turns out. At least Taymor seems to be approaching this adaptation with the right mindset, assuring us that Spider-Man “is not going to sing and dance in tights.”

After Spider-Man 3, it’s not like things can get much worse for this character, can they?

Friday, March 27, 2009

The “I’m Still Alive” Update!

Happy Friday, blogosphere! I always hate writing a post that essentially apologizes for a week of inactivity on The Wort Report, but this is what we’re unfortunately dealing with. If you’re curious, yes, I have been swamped with a lot of other writing assignments, which have reduced my brain to a watery mush. On the plus side, in the event that I’m attacked by a swarm of elderly zombies, my gray matter will be a lot easier to chew (or gum) and digest. Don’t say I never did anything for you, undead seniors, but you’ll have to bring your own straws.

For those moments this week when I haven’t been staring blankly at Word documents, I’ve been enjoying some pretty great recent DVD releases. On Tuesday, we were treated to both Quantum of Solace and Tales of the Black Freighter, a supplement to the Watchmen film. Both are great fun for mush brains, and I mean that as a compliment.

Opinions on Quantum of Solace were pretty mixed among James Bond fanatics when it hit theaters last fall. While I thought it to be a worthy sequel to 2006’s Casino Royale—which successfully revived the franchise after Die Another Day reduced it to a jokey mess just four years earlier—some felt that Daniel Craig’s latest outing just wasn’t Bond enough. I tend to disagree. Casino Royale rebooted the franchise and Quantum of Solace merely continues that trend, ramping up the action in the process. Is it a generic action film at times? Sure. Most Bond movies are. That doesn’t make it any less entertaining.

I also really enjoyed Tales of the Black Freighter, although I’m not sure if the title necessarily warrants a purchase for anyone except the most die-hard of Watchmen fans. The animated Black Freighter segment is certainly well made, but it's also incredibly short at just over 20 minutes. Also on the disc is a faux Under the Hood news segment, which covers a lot of expository ground that the film just didn’t have time for, particularly when it comes to the first Nite Owl, Hollis Mason. However, it's just not something you really need to own as you probably won't rewatch it. It's worth a rent, but this material may very well end up on an extended DVD or Blu-ray set somewhere down the road.

Speaking of roads, that’s it for today. This weekend I hope to spend some serious quality time with Resident Evil 5 as well as finally seeing I Love You, Man, which I’ve heard nothing but good things about. I might even sleep for a few hours. Imagine that.

Friday, March 20, 2009

South Park Takes on Superheroes

If you're not watching the current season of South Park, you really should be tuning in. After spoofing the Jonas Brothers in “The Ring”—which kicked off the show’s 13th season with a hilarious jab at Mickey Mouse and the Disney empire—South Park takes aim at “dark and edgy” superhero films in “The Coon.”

Taking to the streets as masked crime-fighter “The Coon,” Eric Cartman is hell-bent on making a name for himself as the “symbol” South Park needs by dressing up as a raccoon themed (and offensively named) superhero. Speaking in a guttural rasp with a penchant for disappearing in the middle of conversations (sort of), The Coon is a blatant riff on Christian Bale’s Batman in The Dark Knight with just a pinch of Watchmen’s Rorschach thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, The Coon has competition in the form of “Mysterion,” another pint-sized vigilante with a similarly raspy voice and an affinity for monologues.

South Park is always right on the money when it’s focused on Cartman, particularly when his narcissistic nature gets the best of him. The show’s even better when Cartman teams with Butters who, in this episode, takes on his “Professor Chaos” supervillain persona alongside his henchman “General Disarray.” With another hero stealing The Coon’s publicity, Cartman hatches a plan with Butters to force Mysterion to unmask himself by threatening to blow up a hospital. Again, a great nod to The Dark Knight.

There’s a lot to love about this episode, including the South Park Police Department’s apparent fear of Professor Chaos, poor attendance at Coonicon ’09 and the big “reveal” of Mysterion’s identity at its conclusion. It’s not necessarily as laugh-out-loud funny as “The Ring,” but “The Coon” has a lot of fun at the expense of the current crop of superhero films.

Head over to South Park Studios to watch the episode in its entirety.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Watchmen at the Box Office

Who watches the Watchmen? Not enough of us, apparently. E! Online reports that after the film’s $55.7 million opening last weekend, sales are estimated to have plummeted 67 percent to an $18.1 million Friday-Sunday gross this week. The anticipated comic book adaptation sagged behind Disney’s Race to Witch Mountain, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, which earned $25 million.

Now, no one expected a deconstructionist superhero story loaded with sex, violence and blue penises to go head-to-head with a PG-rated big-budget family film, but even Disney is shocked that the weekend box office race wasn’t all that competitive.

"I think everybody thought it would have been a lot closer,” says Disney distribution president Chuck Viane.

Personally, I loved Watchmen the first time around and plan on seeing it in theaters again. However, it’s understandable that the film isn’t necessarily a hit with general audiences. By design, Watchmen just isn’t a crowd-pleaser like Iron Man, The Dark Knight or the first two Spider-Man films. Moviegoers expecting a typical “superhero movie” with no prior knowledge of the source material may be a tad thrown off. And that’s unfortunate.

On a lighter note, you can read my overwhelmingly positive review of Watchmen on Broken Frontier.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Watching the Watchmen's Opening Credits

If you saw Watchmen this weekend, chances are you were floored by the film's opening credits. Set to Bob Dylan's "Times They Are a-Changin'," the montage introduces viewers to an alternate history where superheroes are commonplace and have shaped the 20th century. While hardcore fans may disagree with some of the changes director Zack Snyder made in adapting Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' masterpiece, it's hard not to love what he's done with the credits sequence. Just brilliant.

If you've yet to see this clip, get watching!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fox Releases a New Trailer for X-Men Origins: Wolverine!

Sure, we're all wrapped up in Watchmen mania leading up to that film's release this weekend, but let's not forget that X-Men Origins: Wolverine is but months away! Head over to MTV.com to watch the brand-new trailer.

What do I think? I'm hopeful. Wolverine's got a pretty cool backstory (I love the Civil War clip in this trailer) and this film—directed by Gavin Hood—looks pretty badass. However, this prequel to Bryan Singer's X-Men seems to be getting a little crowded. Not only does it look like Cyclops has been shoehorned into the story, but it seems like they've taken certain liberties with the Deadpool character that could turn a lot of fans against this movie before it even comes out. But, then again, it just wouldn't be a comic book adaptation if it wasn't preceded by massive amounts of fanboy griping and Internet speculation. That's just how we geeks roll.

Wolverine claws its way into theaters May 1.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Friday the 13th: A Wort Report Review

I finally got a chance to check out Platinum Dunes’ Friday the 13th remake, and I have to say I was pretty impressed. This glossy franchise reboot ups the gore factor as our favorite hockey-masked malcontent Jason Voorhees (Derek Mears) stalks a bunch of douchey college kids ripped straight out of an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. It’s horribly acted, totally predictable and never allows you to actually care about the people being slaughtered. And you know what? That’s okay. If anything, that just shows director Marcus Nispel’s dedication to the source material. Friday the 13th films have always been schlock—reverting to self-satire by around the fifth sequel or so—and this update never strays far from the proven slasher formula.

Friday the 13th is essentially a retelling of the first few films in the original series. As horror aficionados or trivia buffs may know, Jason’s mom Pamela Voorhees was the killer in the original film, while Jason did not don his iconic mask until the third installment. While this reboot retells Jason’s origin story, rest assured: Jason gets his hockey mask pretty early on.

The film begins in 1980 with a young Jason witnessing his mother being beheaded by a camp counselor, thus ending her bloody rampage at Camp Crystal Lake. The movie then flashes forward to present day, where a bunch of unwitting friends venture into the woods near Camp Crystal Lake in search of weed. The group decides to spend the night, and sex ensues. Jason hates that.

The film’s first group of victims is cut down pretty quickly, reminding audiences that this isn’t one of those snarky, self-aware horror flicks that were so popular in the 1990s (see the Scream films). These characters are friggin’ stupid. If they hear a strange noise, they’re going to investigate it. If one of their friends is missing, they’re going to go looking for them alone. If one of these guys comes across a run-down shack in the woods, he's going to check it out despite his girlfriend’s protests. Palm, meet face. Repeat as necessary.

The second group fares a little better than the first, heading to Crystal Lake to stay at their friend Trent’s (Travis Van Winkle) family’s summer cabin. Because he’s the “rich kid” in a slasher movie, he’s a complete and total tool who might as well have a target painted on his torso. He’s also got a girlfriend, Jenna (Danielle Panabaker), who he’s totally going to cheat on in the third act. That’s okay, because Jenna’s kind of into Clay (Jared Padalecki), the film’s resident all-around good guy who’s looking for his sister, Whitney (Amanda Righetti), who disappeared with the first group of victims and is presumed dead.

Of course, do we really care who these people are? No, and this film, for better or for worse, makes no real effort to let us like them. With the exception of dweeby stoner Chewie, played by Aaron Yoo (21, Disturbia, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist), we’re pretty much rooting against these kids whenever Jason unsheathes his machete.

Speaking of machetes, the kills here are pretty creative, and most are incredibly gory. In addition to standard knifing, Jason shows some deadly proficiency with a bow and arrow, a bear trap and even a sleeping bag. Kudos to Nispel and the writing team of Damian Shannon and Mark Swift for keeping this film’s bloodshed creative despite the stale premise.

Jason’s been killed, resurrected, sent to space and has even sparred with Freddy Krueger. And now, he’s been rebooted, the latest in a long line of classic movie characters brought back to the screen by an idea-starved Hollywood. Was this necessary? Absolutely not. But Friday the 13th is a fun 97-minute diversion that does everything it sets out to do, ensuring another incredibly long line of sequels in the coming years. Ch ch ch ch ha ha ha ha.

Friday the 13th

Director: Marcus Nispel
Writers: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift
Starring: Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, Amanda Righetti, Travis Van Winkle, Aaron Yoo, Derek Mears