Sunday, July 29, 2012


Better late than never, I finally caught up with THE AVENGERS in glorious 3D.  I really liked it and agree with the reviews that suggested this was about as close to capturing a comic book on film as it gets.  But it's also one of those movies that leaves me with some (minor) head-scratching.  Yes, that's me, Mr. Nit-Picky-Never-Satisfied.  (Except I really WAS satisfied -- it's a good movie!)

Still, in this one, I could never quite figure out what exactly it would take to hurt our heroes.  Iron Man, I  have to assume, must have a lot of de-gravitational inertia-absorbing uber-padding in his suit, because the body slams he takes inside the armor should have turned poor Tony Stark into jelly.  Actually jelly would probably have more consistency than what would be left after some of these battles.  In case this doesn't make sense to you, try this handy experiment at home.  Put on a suit of armor, as heavy and thick as you like, and let a bus run you down.  Hell, let a Mini-Cooper hit you at 12 MPH.  Now explain the result to your medical insurance provider, or, more likely, let your puzzled and bereaved family explain what happened to a funeral director.  I smell YouTube video all over this one.

Thor and Loki I guess are protected by Asgardian magic, but a strong enough wallop can still cause momentary dazedness.  When Thor's sent plunging "30,000 feet" inside a specially designed containment unit, there is genuine concern that the impact will kill him.  But (SPOILER!) he busts out at the last second and makes it out okay.  However Loki seems especially tough.  Toward the end of the film the Hulk body-slams the poor guy like a rag-doll, whamming him into cement about a dozen times.  Post-slamming Loki is half-buried in the floor and issues a semi-comic wheeze, but the next time we see him he looks none the worse for wear, save for the obligatory cut lip.  Evidently the lip region doesn't get the same protective shield as the rest of the Loki carcass.  Perhaps there is some Asgardian chapstick that could alleviate this condition.

The Hulk is just... really friggin' tough.  I have to say, this is the first movie that has really got him right.  Of course I only saw the Ang Lee Hulk and not the the other one, so maybe he was right in that one too.  He was not right in the interesting but "what the fuck?!" Ang Lee movie.  But he's super-right in THE AVENGERS.  The Hulk can basically take just about any punishment, though concentrated blue-energy fire from a bunch of aliens appears to at least drop him to his knees. Still, I get the feeling that Earth could be a cinder and the Hulk would still be punchin'. Of course me like Hulk, so he gets the benefit of the doubt. 

Captain America is just really, really tough.  An alien energy bolt finally cuts his tummy (he makes an ow-ie gesture for about a minute), but otherwise he seems able to take an enormous licking and keep ticking. And that shield, wow.  Full bore alien bolts of blue lightning just fly off, with very little reciprocal bounce-back on the part of Cap.  Here's another experiment you can try when you're allowing buses and cars to hit you in your armor.  See how far you fly back upon impact.  There's a scientific law that explains this involving inertia and stuff, but I'm having a couple shots of Gray Goose orange vodka as I write this and can't really get up the energy to do the research.  But you can trust me on this science-ey stuff -- I worked on Battlestar Galactica!  Oh, and yes, you can brace yourself for the impact, but believe me, all that force has to go somewhere.  See reference to Tony Stark and "jelly" above.

Hawkeye and Black Widow are basically just dudes who are really strong and smart enough to not let Loki sneak behind them and spear them.  I'm just sayin', "Phil," you gotta keep your eyes peeled, buddy!  Well, actually (oh shit, SPOILER), not anymore.  Or maybe not.  This IS comics we're talking about!

I don't know what can hurt Thanos (the big blue-ish guy who appears for a moment after the credits), but man does that guy have nice teeth.  I suggest the Hulk go for the guy's choppers, clearly a source of vanity for the otherwise alien, blue-skinned, lizard-textured galaxy-smashing future villain.  Or maybe I'm misreading that scene... I can see it now.  "AVENGERS 2: THANOS BUILDS A PETTING ZOO."  Hey, admit it, nobody'd see THAT coming...

The Sorta Three Stooges

Caught the Farelly Brothers' THREE STOOGES movie last night and I was left feeling... mixed.  On the one hand, I was impressed at just how well the new cast imitated the real Stooges, especially the fellow playing Curly.  And there's a chuckle here and there as they recreate some famous Stooge routines -- they get the timing of the physical action down really well.

But the plot... I dunno.  The Stooges are imbeciles who need to somehow raise money for their failing orphanage.  Yes, I understand this hoary old device harkens back to the plots of the 30's, but boy, it's still pretty tired.  To cement the Stooges' affection for the orphanage, the movie opens with a lengthy sequence featuring 12 year old versions of the Stooges, which is just... strange.  I guess this movie answers the "nature versus nurture" question definitively... the Stooges were born demented because all the other kids in the orphanage are perky little cuties.  Also it appears that movie orphanages humor their charges by allowing them to wear weird clothes, cut their own hair (or in Larry's case, not cut) and engage in wildly inappropriate behavior that often result in painful injury to the nuns in charge.  (One of whom is played by a, sorry, wildly unfunny Larry David.)

Then things take a bizarre turn when the Stooges are approached by a devious woman who offers to pay them if they murder her husband (!).  And the Stooges agree!  I've seen virtually every original Stooges short and maybe I'm forgetting one, but I don't remember any that involved the boys agreeing to become hired killers.  Maybe it's just me, but watching Moe order Curly to grab a pillow, sneak into a hospital room where their injured victim lies and "get to smothering him, quick!" is... disconcerting.  Curly dices onions onto the victim's face, "smothering him with onions nyuk nyuk", before Moe grabs the pillow himself and goes to work. When they're interrupted, they drop a stick of dynamite into the victim's body cast and blow him up.  The guy survives with one of those exploding cigar blackface make-up jobs, but still.

Later in the same sequence, the Stooges hide out in a maternity ward full of babies and have a "pee war" grabbing babies and squirting one another with urine.   I'm guessing this was a high point for some audiences.

Maybe this would have been funnier if seen with an audience... as for me, I give the new Stooges a qualified "hmm."

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Don't Eat Your Shield, Captain America!

Some wiseguy did a pretty good job envisioning 60's Marvel characters if they had been done at DC...

Friday, July 27, 2012

With A Little Luck...

I don't usually post links to Mark Evanier's site since I figure just about anyone who reads my sad blog is probably also checking his... but in case you missed it, he's posted a jaw-dropping clip of Mary Tyler Moore and a dancing David Letterman (!) doing a really messed up version of McCartney's "With A Little Luck."  As Mark E. notes, it does not look like David Letterman can believe he's actually doing this...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Piling On...

So a slightly tongue-tied newsman on CNN just said he was about to interview someone who tried to protect a friend during the Aurora shooting and died in the effort.  Okay...

You may wonder why I'm calling attention to news gaffes as opposed to offering some insight into how or why I think these awful killings took place.  Truth is, I have none, or at least not any that haven't been expressed by many others many times before.

We live in a country where people have ready access to guns and ammunition.  We also live in a country where people occasionally decide to use those guns in truly awful ways.  I don't think the Batman movie or violent media or the general lack of Godliness (thank you for that, Rep. Louie Gohmert) had anything to do with it.  Obviously I have no idea why the shooter did what he did, but I'm guessing the guy was severely disturbed and this was how his disturbance eventually expressed itself. 

It's a terrible tragedy for the people who were killed or injured, but as for deeper lessons?  I wish there were fewer guns in this world, but that's about I've got... 

Mi Casa Su Casa de mi Padre

CASA DE MI PADRE is a cute, high concept comedy that almost certainly wouldn't have been made on even this modest scale without the involvement of Will Farrell.  Totally in Spanish (with English sub-titles for those who are sans fluency), PADRE sends up a genre of Mexican melodrama with which I frankly do not have much familiarity.  But it's not too hard to keep up, between the cheap backdrops, silly props, and florid acting complete with many tight close-ups of eyeballs.

Farrell plays Armando, one of four sons of a wealthy rancher.  Sadly one of the rancher's sons have become a "narco"/drug dealer, bringing a world of hurt down on the family.  Armando is also a coward who must find his courage to win the love of a beautiful woman.

I think what I like best about PADRE is that most of the humor is silly, as opposed to mean or snarky.  It's not roll on the floor funny, but there are many smiles and Farrell is fun to watch.  If Mel Gibson's Gringo had shown up for a cameo, it could have been the perfect movie...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

You Know They're Desperate To Fill Time...

...when CNN brings in actor Stephen Baldwin to weigh in on the Aurora shooting.

Payback The Gringo!

GET THE GRINGO stars Mel Gibson as "Driver", a thief who, as we meet him, is fleeing down the US/Mexico border after a high stakes robbery.  To escape the U.S. lawmen, Driver crashes the fence into Mexico (literally) and eventually winds up tossed into a staggeringly corrupt Mexican prison.   And that's really where this movie really starts, morphing into a snarling fish-out-of-water story as Driver figures out prison life and starts making moves to save his own neck, retrieve his cash and (as happens in the movies) help a little boy who is being "protected" (or preserved) so his liver can be harvested by a dying prison kingpin (!).

That last bit pushes things just a tad over the top, but otherwise this is the best Mel movie since PAYBACK, which I loved.  It could also be considered a sequel/prequel to PAYBACK, since Gibson is playing virtually the same character.  I love the gritty, 70's feel of this production, and Gibson effectively channels whatever demons I've read about in the papers to create a tough, nasty, hard-boiled heart o'gold guy. 

And the production values are impressive.  They created one nasty-ass Mexican prison for this show, using an actual just-closed facility south-of-the-border.  I'm not sure how accurate this is, but assuming it's close, I have officially decided not to commit crimes in Mexico.

Mel could make one of these a year and my butt would be in the seat/buying the blu-ray/visiting Netflix for the results.  Put down the beaver puppet and pick up the automatic, Mel! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Today In Canada

Spent the day, as usual these days, dealing with Hemlock Grove business (details soon!).  Returning "home," I turned on CNN to catch up with the latest American news and learned:

Russell Brand is pretty funny. (Oops, not American.)

Somebody puts needles in a turkey sandwich on an airline flight. (Oops, I don't think it was an American flight.)

A snake handling minister got bit and died.  (Definitely U.S.)

Former Senator John Sununu said that President Obama needs to learn how to be an American.  He quickly half apologized, which leads me to note that I believe John Sununu needs to learn how to be an American, and, oh.  "Sorry."

The ever-vigilant Michelle Bachmann claims that the Muslim Brotherhood is infiltrating the American Government (specifically in the form of Hilary Clinton's assistant) and evidently that requires her and like-minded paranoids to, no, not alert the FBI, but take their assertions to right wing radio.  Who I am sure will solve this desperate problem in the nick of time.  Or eventually offer a half-assed "sorry."

Some right wing dude named Erich Erichson has a job on CNN spouting right-wing talking points. I would report on his carefully considered bromides but I automatically leave the viewing area and reach for the nearest liquor whenever this guy appears on my screen.

Even Grover Norquist was offended by Michelle Bachmann's anti-Muslim charges because he's married to a Muslim woman.  I assume, however, that they remain friends on the tax issue, another instance of "it depends on whose ox is being gored."

Because of f'ing Erich Erichson I'm drinking too much Maker's Mark...

That is all...

An actress I don't know is doing ads for Depends...

I'm going to bed...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Me and SDCC

Because of my ongoing (and exciting!) work on the Netflix series Hemlock Grove, it looked like I was going to miss my first San Diego Comic-Con in 28 years.  But then -- BUT THEN -- thanks to the arrival of "the weekend," direct flights from Toronto to San Diego (thank you Air Canada) and my fearless ability to prop up the Canadian airline industry by blowing obscene amounts of money on tickets, I'm coming out for Saturday and Sunday after all.  I have no panels and no specific chores this year, but I'll be the tired looking big guy in the original art/comic book aisles (like THAT narrows it down).

Meanwhile, I hope everyone enjoys/enjoyed (depending on when this is read) the Falling Skies panel, and I send my best to the cast and crew. I realize these are ultimately "jobs," but everyone on F.S. from TNT on-through was a pleasure to work with and I hope for them that the series goes for many years to come.  

Back to work!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Sad RIPs...

The death earlier this week of Andy Griffith and now today's news that Ernest Borgnine has passed on didn't come as surprises,  exactly, but both men seemed like the old-school type of actor who were always around and would always BE around.  Of course that's not how the world works...

Griffith was amazing on the Andy Griffith show, but I've always been most astonished/impressed by his manic and thoroughly nasty performance in Face In The Crowd.  It's a fantastic script, of course, but Griffith could have easily tried to soften Lonesome Rhodes and draw audience sympathy/empathy -- but he doesn't.  He plays a selfish egomaniac from start to finish, gleefully destroying the people around him until he accidentally destroys himself.  It is a stunning performance.  Let's put it this way: Griffith completely overshadows Walter Matthau in the film.  That ain't easy.

Borgnine always seemed to operate on two levels.  One was subtle, coiled and intense -- think Wild Bunch or Bad Day At Black Rock.  The other was scenery chewing at its best -- think Ice Station Zebra (where he sports a wild Russian accent) or a horror film like The Devil's Rain.   Bottom line, he was always fun to watch, whatever the character.  I only finally saw Marty a few months ago, and it really is a great performance.

I have no personal anecdotes about these actors... I'm just a fan lamenting their passing and happy to remember their best work... 

Seeking JUSTICE dammit! (Spoilers!)

Nicolas Cage has certainly seen some career ups and downs, and he seems to be in a holding pattern with Seeking Justice, a rather routine straight-to-DVD thriller directed by Roger Donaldson.  Cage plays a school teacher whose wife is attacked and raped.  While grieving over his wife's injuries, a close-cropped Guy Pearce approaches and offers to do in the attacker for Cage.  But there's a catch -- if vigilante Pearce's people do Cage this favor, he owes 'em.

Cage agrees, the attacker is murdered, all is well (really?)... until the favor is called in.  Then things start getting really hairy for poor Nick and family.

I think this one falls in the category of asking the audience to accept one "gimme" too many.  That there's a group of vigilantes doing in bad guys, okay.  That the vigilantes may have ulterior motives, okay.  That they need to rope in a reluctant school teacher to help them further their goals -- whoa.  Unfortunately, too much of the plot falls in the "dumb plan, bad guys!" category.  In theory they need a patsy for some unsavory criminal acts, but whatever eventually happens, the patsy running around loose TELLING everyone he was a patsy is inevitably going to be a problem.  The things that are asked of Cage seem like nefarious acts that any one of Guy Pearce's vigilante mokes could have pulled off without a peep.

But Cage remains fun to watch and January Jones (as the wife) is easy on the eyes and so I give this a marginal "catch it on streaming Netflix" thumbs sideways.