Friday, April 29, 2011

Jet Li VS Tony Jaa

This weeks question is fairly simple, it is the age old playground question, who wins in a fight. I will probably do a couple of these, but to start off I thought we would put two of the best movie martial arts artists, (say that five time fast*) working today against each other and you guys can decided who would win.
These are not the guys I am thinking of!
First up, the reining king of kicking buttery, (not sure if buttery is actually a real word, but I am using it anyway, cause there is no one here to stop me, Mwaahahaha), the one, the only, Jet Li.
I am not actually fighting right now, my leather coat
is too tight and this is as low as I can get my hands
Now if you don't know who Jet Li is you probably have not watched an action movie in the last 10 to 15 years, (if that is the case I want to know what you have been up to, I mean, were you in prison, or abducted by aliens, or possibly hanging with Kal El at his fortress of solitude**, let me know) so let's just say that he is a little Chinese ball of fury that pretty much destroys everything in his path. If you have watched any of his movies then you know what a bad man he can be, but in case you haven't, here are highlights to drive the point home.

So, going up against Jet Li is a man with possibly the most lethal knees and elbows in the world today, or at least in the movie world that is, Tony Jaa.
Put your left elbow in, Put your left elbow out,
Put your left elbow in and hurt people all about!

 Tony Jaa is similar to Li in a few respects, in that he is not a big man, and he is incredibly quick and agile, but where they differ greatly is in their fighting style. You see, Jet Li was born in China, and thus a lot of his fighting style is taken from traditional Chinese martial arts, but Tony Jaa is from Thailand, and the Thai style of fighting is called Muay Thai which is a form of kick boxing the uses elbows and knees more then any other fighting style, and man can Tony Jaa do some amazing things with said knees and elbows. Let's go to the video tape so you can see what I mean.
Ok, so there they are, Jet Li and Tony Jaa, so the question is, if these two were to meet in a fight, like on some fictional island, where some evil mastermind pitted them against each other, with the purpose of making the winner fight his super robotic monkey/kitten organic hybrid, (is that just crazy or what, having the winner fight a super robotic monkey/kitten hybrid is one thing, but making it organic super robotic monkey/kitten hybrid is just evil) if that is the case, who would you pick. That's it, leave your answer, and the first person to respond will get their named mentioned in my next post, if that is not encouragement to answer then I don't know what is***.

*I am referring to saying "movie martial arts artists" five times fast, and not the word "that" smartypants, so there.
**If you answered the third one then you have officially made it on my list as one of the coolest people in the world, joining the ranks of my friends Jade Lassalle and Adam Hemming, congratulations.
***In truth I am thinking cash might get a faster response, but I am not at liberty to give away any money right now, well, that is at least until the alien mafia nazis frees up my funds, and who knows when that is gonna happen.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Animation Onslaught: 12 Movies You Might Have Missed

A couple of weeks ago I asked the members of my blogs Facebook group for any thoughts on how I'm doing so far. I asked what they liked, disliked, and what they would like to see. Now due to the overwhelming response I couldn't actually respond to everybody, (well, actually, I only had two people comment, so I could have responded, but I am kinda lazy and it has been a busy week with Easter and all) but here are my top two requests. The first was my friend "Bear"* who wanted more movie suggestions, and the second was my friend "Conal"** who wanted me to do a thing on animated movies, sort of like the top 20 list I did for best movies of all time, (taking advantage of this synergistic self promotion opportunity, here are the links to that list 20-17 16-13 12-9 8-5 and 4-1  ). So, I kinda decided to combine both of them in a way, I thought I would give some suggestions for some cool animated movies that Disney and Pixar had nothing to do with***, and that maybe not everyone has heard about and then you can decide for yourselves if you want to see any of them. I have divided them up into four categories, to make it easier on my brain, (and lets be honest, anytime I can help my brain out in any way I am all for it). So, buckle up buttercup****, cause its going to be an animated ride.

Kids Animated Movies

Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron
Spirit is a movie that on the surface may seem like tons of other movies. It has an animal as the main protagonist, and is about the struggle for freedom. Where Spirit differs though is that it is actually set in proper historical context with the "civilizing"***** of the american west, (most animated movies don't even try to do this, and usually those that do fail to really get it right, only succeeding on a moderate level, American Tale, I am looking at you here, especially with your sequel) and for once the film makers decided to not make the animals speak in funny voices, always going for
 cheap laughs. Spirit, does not talk throughout the movie, why would he, Horses don't actually talk, (well, unless they are called Ed and work on a TV show, but that is neither here nor there) but viewers do get to hear what he is thinking, with MATT DAMON****** providing the voice for his inner monolog no less, and it makes for a nice change. The other thing Spirit does is really get across the feeling of movement and freedom that a pack of wild horses would have had, running where they chose to and not relying on man for anything. These things make Spirit an animated movie like no other, and because the mouse company didn't make it, you might have missed it, so do yourself a favor and check it out.

Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest

When Avatar came out in 2009, some people raved to me about how original it was, and when that happened I always had the same two response, the first was "You obviously have never seen Fern Gully" and the second was, "Wow, James Cameron is so creative, he took animals that we have and placed extra appendages on them, and then made them different colors, the man is clearly a genius".
Told ya so!
 So, with that, here is some info to help you understand. Fern Gully came out in the 90's and like most non Disney movies, it did ok, but never achieved huge success, which is a pity, cause it is actually a decent movie. Like I said, Avatar is basically Fern Gully, on steroids, with guns, and mechs, and swearing, but when you look at its core story, Fern Gully sits there, smiling and waving at James Cameron, laughing at him for thinking he is original, (even the internet knows Avatar is a rip off of Fern Gully, when I typed Fern Gully poster into Google, some of the posters that came up on the first page were Avatar posters). So, if you liked Avatar, give Fern Gully a chance, it even has a good performance from Robin Williams as a disturbed bat that escaped from a lab that was performing medical experiments on him, and how can you not like that.

Quest For Camelot
This movie has got pretty much everything you could want in a Sword and Sorcery kids movie, lets run down the list. Mean evil villain, check. Brave girl savior, check. A blind kick but warrior, check. A two headed singing dragon, double check, (ha ha, see what I did there, I said check for all the other ones, but when it came to the two headed dragon I said "Double Check", cause it has two heads, so, I said check twice because it has double the heads. You know, two heads, double check. Well, it seemed funny to me anyway, stop judging me). Yep, this movie has it all, it even has a love story thrown in there for good measure, so check it out, I am sure you will be doubly happy you did, (ha ha, the double thing again, I referenced my self in my own post, aren't I smart, and funny, oh, and don't forget good looking. Ok, I'll stop now).

Science Fiction & Fantasy Animated Movies

Titan A.E.
So, whats that you say? There haven't been a whole lot of good animated space movies, (Treasure Planet, I am looking at you here). Well, you are right, but there is at least one good one, and that movie is Titan A.E. (here is a writing question for you all, how the heck do you put a period after a period, I was going to stop this sentence after Titan A.E., but it just looks weird with a period and another period right afterwards, maybe it is just me, I am kinda new to the whole writing thing and all). So Titan A.E. is the story of
Drew Berrymore even looks good animated, and asian?
 earth being destroyed cause aliens were starting to think we humans were too awesome, they were green with envy, (well, actually they were blue, and made of pure energy, but saying they were blue with envy just makes it sound like they were having a down day) so they blew up our planet, (wow, I never noticed that before, they are blue, and the blew up our planet, maybe they were just depressed after all). Now a bunch of people escaped and one of which is a guy named Cale, (voiced by MATT DAMON******) whose dad was the maker of a famous ship called the Titan, which the aliens want and so do the humans cause it can do some awesome planet making stuff. So from there you have adventure, gun battles, cool aliens, and a pretty cool ice field get away scene all set to rock music. How awesome is that, well, its pretty awesome, and thats all I have to say about that.

Howl's Moving Castle
So Howl's Moving Castle is the only real anime movie on this list, (that is mainly cause if I was going to talk about cool non Disney animated movies and not limit the anime stuff, I would be here all week, cause let me put it this way, the Japanese know how to make some pretty freaking awesome cartoons) but I am kinda putting it up there for all of its brethren, cause if you like this, then you will probably like the others too. So, Howl's Moving Castle is a story about a wizard and a girl, both trying to do the right thing while fighting against a lot of people doing the opposite. It is set in present day yet has a lot of magical aspects to the characters and the plot, and of course, the moving castle. Now, before anyone
 jumps down my throat about this being a Disney movie, lets get one thing straight, it is not a Disney movie, (now Disney did release it on DVD to a North American market, but they were not responsible for making it, they just recognized a good product and decided to buy the rights to slap their name on it. So although you will see Disney's name at the top of the DVD, it is not a Disney movie.) Now a word of warning, if you have never seen an anime movie, they are not like straight forward American style cartoons, they use a lot of symbolism and myth based storytelling, and the visuals are usually pretty incredible, but also different than anything you might have seen before. But, assuming you are game, if you watch this or any other Miyazaki film, (Miyazaki if you don't know is one of the greatest directors in the world, animated or otherwise) you are in for a treat.

The Amazing Screw On Head
From the creator of Hellboy, The Amazing Screw On Head is a film like no other. It is funny, quirky, weird and interesting, all at the same time. It has an incredibly original premise, awesome voice work, and a style that is literally all its own. In fact, the only bad thing about it is that it is only half an hour long, but in that half an hour it is pretty much great, plus it has Abraham Lincoln, how cool is that.

Superhero Animated Movies

Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman is one of the big three DC comics characters, and although they have yet to be able to make a live action movie, they did do an incredible animated one, so that is ok with me. So this movie tells the origin story of how Wonder Woman came to be. It has incredible action, nice animation and voice work from the my favorite actor, Nathan "I Am Super Cool And Funny And Was The Captain Of Serenity" Fillion who is just great as Steve Trevor. All in all I think this should be a great template for a live action movie, but if that never happens I can live with what has been made here, and more then anything else ever put on film, this shows what a "bad" woman Wonder Woman really is.

Green Lantern: First Flight
Who's super hyped for the live action Green Lantern movie coming out with Ryan "I Am Too Cool To Be Mad At Just Cause I Am Super Good Looking" Reynolds. I am, well, hold on to your animated socks, cause there is an awesome animated movie already out that should fuel your drive to see the new one even more. Green Lantern: First Flight is basically the story of how Hal Jordan comes to get the ring and what happens to him after being the first human to ever be chosen. It looks great, has nice voice work and basically rocks in every way. So, do you want an animated preview of this summers green blockbuster, check this out, you won't be disappointed.

Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme
I will be truthful, I am totally a DC guy at heart, (for those of you who have no clue what I just said, there are two main comic book companies, DC and Marvel, and although people might read comics from both, they always end up picking a side as to which is better, and although I like Marvel comics, I fall firmly on the DC side of the great divide) and DC has been kicking Marvels butt big time in the animated movie department for a long time, but the one glimmer of hope that has come out of Marvel in the last couple of years has been the Doctor Strange animated movie. This movie has a well told story, solid voice work and decent action. So, although it is not as good as any of the DC animated movies, it is a good movie and is definitely worth a watch.

Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm
This was DC's first entrance into the animated movie scene with a movie that actually was released in theaters and it changed the landscape for animated superhero movies. Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm is a big, majestically scored, (I am referring to the music used incase anyone thought I was talking about Batman playing hockey or something) and incredibly dark. At the time people couldn't believe at how heavy in tone it was, but that was a conscious decision made to move super heroes from being just stupid kids things into a new audience, adults. This is a movie made by adults for adults and teens, and it started a trend, even though it took a while to catch on, and is a must see for any Batman and/or animation fan.

Mature Animated Movies

Resident Evil: Degradation
Ok, I will start by saying, that if you have never seen anything Resident Evil, then this movie is not the place to start, but, if you have played Resident Evil 4 as much as I have, then you will want to see this movie. Degradation is a great looking movie that kinda makes sense and kinda doesn't but that is ok, because the action and animation totally make up for any plot problems that anyone could have. I will also say, this movie is not for the squeamish, so word to my friend "Snowflake"*******, you probably shouldn't watch this, cause you may make it through the movie, but if we start discussing all the gory details you will probably pass out. All that said, Resident Evil: Degradation is a movie that does what it set out to do, if you love the franchise, you will love this, pass on it if you don't, it's that simple.

Turok: Son Of Stone
Last on my list is Turok: Son Of Stone, which is a movie that is based on a comic that I remember seeing as a kid. Turok is a normal guy, who loves his momma, and Jesus too, (wait a minute, that's lyrics to a Tom Petty song, sorry about that, but come to think of it, Turok does do some free falling in the middle of the movie, so I guess it all ties together). Anyway, Turok belongs to a tribe of Indians that gets raided by a rival tribe, and while chasing the attackers stumbles into a forgotten world where there be dinosaurs. From there he spends the rest of the movie surviving, meeting the locals and going against the rival tribe leader that has enslaved some ape guys who think he is cool. Now again, this movie is not for everybody. It is bloody, very bloody, (not Kill Bill Anime style bloody, but bloody just the same) and has a fair amount of violence, but it is a well told story and stands alone for its plot and tone in non anime movies, so if that sounds like your cup of blood, I mean tea, then check it out.

Well that is it, if you check any of these out let me know what you think, and if I missed anything that you think is awesome and kinda flys under the radar, let me know, if I get enough I will do a follow up post and give you some cool Jesus Was A Browncoat So I Aim To Misbehave credit, which you can use at our web store******** to buy brown t-shirts with Jesus giving a thumbs up on them. Until next time, stay animated in life and in life, yeah, I said it twice, thats just the way I roll.

*Bear's real name is actually Josh, but I changed it cause I already knew a Josh, plus he is pretty awesome, and is kinda like a big teddy bear, so it all makes sense to me.
**Conal is a super amazing Screamo friend of mine that for some reason is very emotionally attached to my beard, pity I shaved it yesterday.
***I have nothing against Disney or Pixar, its just everybody knows their movies, so me telling you to watch them is kinda pointless.
****This is what I say to my kids when I pick them up from school at the kiss and ride, so I thought it might fit here to, not that you are my kids or anything like that, anyway, moving on.
*****Yeah, right, the white men were the real savages, and I am a white guy, so I can say that and not feel a bit bad about it.
*******Snowflakes real name is actually Jon, but how awesome is his nickname, and this time I had nothing to do with it, he already had it before I met him.
********A Web store for my blog doesn't not exist, but how cool would it be if it did.

Just kidding Conal, the beard is safe.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Zombies Or Terminators

Alright, so far I have been doing this blog for about 4 months now, and I have be honest, I am loving it. Who knew I could actually write, (well, then again, maybe I can't and the internet world is just humoring me) and I have been happy to see some people actually reading my musings, but the one thing I haven't been getting is a whole lot of comments and feed back. So, in order to satisfy my fragile ego and in hopes of actually hearing from some of you I am starting a weekly question segment for you guys, (and by guys I am also meaning any female, girl, woman, chick or any other word for the opposite gender from me that I have not used here, my two daughters told me I was allowed to use "guys" when referring to girls as long as there is more then one person you are referring to, and they are 8 and 6, so they must know what they are talking about) to answer. So, first up, I heard this mentioned on a local Toronto radio station, (shout out to 102.1 The Edge) and it actually was something I had been contemplating for a while anyway, so here is my first question for my Question Of The Week*

Which would you rather have to be stuck in a world were Zombies have taken over, or a world where the Machines take over. So, since I am a movie guy, of course I am going to give you some film examples so you can make an educated decision. So, first up.

Even Zombies want to eat healthy!
Ok, now there has been a ton of zombie movies in the last 20 years, but in the last 5 years that trend has sped up and they have become one of the main villains in much of the horror movies produced lately. So, when somebody says zombies, it is now actually hard for you to really know what they fully mean. Now yeah, everyone understands that it means people who are no longer living in any traditional sense, and that they wish to eat you, but other then that it leaves a lot open to your imagination. So things like, can zombies run, or walk, or just kinda drag their feet around slowly looking confused. Can they reason and problem solve or communicate with each other, and then there is the whole thing in what it takes to kill them. So, I am saying the word zombie to you, and I thought I would give you a frame of reference, and for my purposes, so I am giving you the movie brilliance that is, Shaun Of The Dead.
Ok, so yeah, Shaun Of The Dead is a comedy, or possibly a Zomedy, but it is also a real zombie movie and I think it best fits the bill for what I am thinking. Now, although it is more scary if Zombies can run, I just don't buy a running zombie, and that is the main reason Zombieland was not chosen. So, Zombies can't run, but they can walk at an ok speed, are not afraid of anything, including fire and yes, they want to eat you, your brains and your loved ones (and their brains too). Having no fear and no sense of pain, they will just keep coming, unless you destroy their brain, any way you can, (Shaun actually uses a cricket mallet for half of the film, but really any blunt object would work well, for some great examples on weapons of choice for defending yourself from Zombies I suggest you read The Zombie Survival Guide, by Max Brooks, it just may save your life!) Ok, so that is Zombies covered, on to the

Hey, did you see where I parked my car?

So as I write this, yesterday was the actual official date that Skynet from the Terminator movie was to go online. If you have no clue what I am talking about let me fill you in, (if you do know, just go get a snack, and then when you answer this post make sure to let me know what you ate) Skynet is a "fictional" military computer system that is developed to watch over all the tech stuff for the various branches of the American armed forces. Here is the problem, Skynet becomes alive, and after doing some quick artificial intelligence computing comes to the conclusion that humans are stupid and will probably try and kill it, and so it hits first and nukes half the planet. After that it makes a whole bunch of robots called Terminators to round up the rest of the stupid humans and that is when us stupid humans fight back and start whooping some machine butt.
So, killing machines everywhere, mankind dwindling, and then we get to fight back and scare the machines so much that they freakin invented time travel because they were losing. Unlike zombies, terminators are semi smart, fast, work together and will never stop to eat, and they are a heck of a lot harder to kill then zombies. If you whack a zombie in the head with a cricket mallet it will stop bugging you, (and by bugging you I mean trying to eat you) hit a terminator in the head with a cricket mallet and the mallet breaks and you die. See the difference. Now, terminators can be killed, it takes guns and bullets, (lots of bullets, and the bigger the gun the better pretty much) or dropping heavy things on them or throwing them in to lava, but it is possible. Now unlike zombies, when a terminator kills you, he just kills you, no eating of your brain for him.

So, now you know the differences, think it over for half a second, and then choose. If one of these things was going to happen, and you were going to have to live in that world, which would you pick. Please** place your answer in the comment section, tell me your name, what country you are from, and which one you would pick and why. I will answer once some of you guys go first. That's all for now, happy picking, and remember, the fate of the entire world rests in your hands pick wisely, cause a wise man once said, "With great power, comes great power, and that is a pretty cool thing"***. So stay safe, from zombies and machines alike, and I will blog at you later.

*I am not sure if I am actually going to call it this for the long run but I am going to just use it now cause I can't think of anything cooler, feel free to make suggestions, but that would mean you are going to have to comment, and I know how much you all hate doing that.
**Pleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplease leave your answer, did I mention please?
***Tricked you, you thought I was going all Uncle Ben from Spiderman on you, didn't you, ha, nope.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Beyond Film: Movies That Are More Than Movies

With as many movies as I watch and then write reviews for, occasionally I find movies that you just can't easily give ratings to, mainly because of their subject matter and cultural impact. What I am talking about are movies that are more then movies, movies that it just seems silly to compare with other movies. So it is with this thought that I now give you 4 films that I think have surpassed the medium they were made in and have become something more.

When I started to think about doing this post, a few movies jumped to mind immediately, but for some reason my movie blogging brian thought that two was too little for a post, (get it, two and too, sometimes my genius scares me) so I started to rack my brian for some more (I actually was so stumped that I asked my wife and my best friend if they could think of any movies that fit the bill, but they couldn't think of any either then the ones I had already come up with, so they weren't much help) and then after finally figuring out one more, that still left one spot to fill, and that is when I found it, when I rewatched the movie Philadelphia.
Philadelphia is a movie about justice, rights, humane treatment, tolerance, bigotry, and over coming fears. I came to the conclusion that Philadelphia is a movie that is more than a movie when I sat down to try and write a review about it. I started to think about its subject matter, dealing with homosexually, aids and prejudice, and then I thought about what other movies I could possibly compare it to, and I came up empty. I couldn't think of any other film that looks at what Philadelphia does and had as much impact and carries as much weight as it did and still does today. Now regardless of whatever you, I, or anybody else believes about homosexuality, whether it is viewed as a sin, or you think it is right or wrong, or that it is genetic or is a personal individual choice, none of that gives anyone the right to treat people badly, especially the way Tom Hanks character is treated. Philadelphia looks at issues and asks questions that no
 other film does. It makes you think about the nature of man and leaves the viewer with an ending that raises more question then it gives answers to, and it is because of this that it is more then just a movie, and definitely more then just a movie about a gay man who was treated unfairly. Philadelphia asks us to dig much deeper then simple entertainment and it does it with Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington giving incredible performances, and that just makes it all that much more better.

The Godfather
A couple of weeks ago I was talking to the co-leader of the guys small group that we lead at church, (big shout out to the guys, you may not know this but it was you guys who inspired me to actually start this whole blog thing, so if you like it a big BOOYA goes out to you, if you don't you are not reading this anyway, so BLBB) and he mentioned that The Godfather was the best movie of all time, (if you have been reading my blog then you will already know that The Godfather didn't even make make my top 20 movies of all time, no matter grabbing the number 1 spot) and when I told him he was wrong he told me I was wrong and we proceeded to fight,
where I totally wiped the floor with him and made him cry and recant his Godfather proclamation, (at least, that is how it went in my head, if I am being factual and placing this in reality I think we just agreed to disagree and moved on with leading the small group, but who knows, I could be wrong). Anyway, one of the reasons that The Godfather didn't make my list is that I didn't rate it as a five star movie, but that was mainly due to its length, violence and nudity, but that doesn't mean that I don't appreciate it for being the incredible film it is. Its just, I view The Godfather as being more than just a movie, and that is mainly due to the impact it has had on culture.
The Godfather is a movie like no other, sure there have been other mob movies, or crime movies, but for some reason The Godfather has become something more then just a movie about an Italian crime family, it has entered the minds of entire generations, (notice I put an s on the end of that word. The Godfather has not
 just impacted the generation it was made for, but also pretty much every generation since, even some teens are already embracing it, heck it was even turned into a videogame) and then has been reflected back in their general consciousness. With that you can see its influence in countless movies, novels, songs and even paintings, (I might be wrong about the paintings, but who knows, someone probably paints Godfather paintings, of Vito, or maybe horse heads, or maybe even a guy sleeping with the fishes. What! It could happen). Yep, The Godfather is all over the place in media, from romantic comedies like, "You've Got Mail", to kids movies where they love using the line, "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse!". Its influence is pretty much everywhere, and it is for that reason that comparing it to other movies, especially ones in the same genre just doesn't work. So although I don't think it is the best movie of all time, I do think it is something more then just a movie, and that might help some people understand why it wasn't on my list, so please, would you stop putting hamster* heads in my bed, I get the message already.

Schindler's List
There have been a few films about the Jewish holocaust, but not more impacting then Schindler's List. I watched this again a little while ago, and as the title of this posts states, it is a movie that is more then a movie. As I wrote my review on flickster I had a great deal of trouble in saying why it was a 5 star movie. Now I fully think it is, but when I looked at it, with the cinematography, score, lighting, direction, acting, actors, pace, and all the other countles things I think about when judging a film, well, they all just kinda fell away.
I just couldn't get past how important and moving Schindler's List was. The plight of the jews during the second world war is something that is breathtakingly terrible. What they endured as a people was unbelievably cruel and never before was there such a movie that looked at this in such stark reality as Schindler's List. Speilberg created something that was revolting while at the same time uplifting, disgusting while beautiful and although it is not a movie that is fun to watch, it is an incredibly rewarding experience to do so. That is why it is more then just a movie. Most movies
 transport the viewer somewhere, quite often for entertainment and relaxation purposes, but that is not what Schindler's List is meant for. It is a hard, brutal look at mans inhumanity to man, that doesn't pull any punches and doesn't over exaggerate what happened. It is more then a movie, it is a visual history with every aspect of the film making experience excellently covered. So, to try and really treat it like any other movie would be dumb, and that is why I include it on this list.

The Passion Of The Christ
Last on my list, (or more correctly, first on my list, cause when I started to put together this post, The Passion Of The Christ was the first movie that went on it) is the most brutal and sincere telling of the crucifixion of Jesus to ever be put on film. When Mel Gibson, (I know he has gone nuts as of late, but that doesn't change what he did in making this film) wanted to make an ultra realistic movie version of the execution of Christ, no one thought it would fly. Every studio that Mel went to said no, that it was not a movie that was necessary and that it would make no money. So he decided to make it himself, with his own money, and man oh man did the studios regret their decision. It cost Gibson 30 million dollars when it was all said and done to make The Passion Of The Christ, which made $370,782,930 in north america alone, you read that right, over THREE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY MILLION, and guess who got all that money, Mel Gibson.
Now, why did The Passion Of The Christ make so much money? Well, it did something that no other film had done before, show what Jesus actually went through. There have been plenty of Jesus movies over the years, some have been good, some terrible, but they all have one thing in common, they played down the brutal reality of what being whipped and crucified looked like. Many of the movies had Jesus on a cross in a white robe, no blood anywhere to be seen, this is where The Passion Of The Christ is different. If you read the bible, the 4 gospels talk about Jesus being crucified, but they never go into great detail, do you ever
wonder why? Well, my theory is that crucifixion was something that the early readers of the bible would have understood. There was no need to give details about something that people already had a clear vision of taking place, same with a Roman whipping. The people of the day knew what that entailed, so when they say Jesus was whipped and then carried his cross and was crucified, they got it. We on the other hand, don't, and for the first time on film, people got to see a sample of what Jesus went through. I for one will admit, The Passion Of The Christ is an incredibly hard movie to watch at times, it is brutal and unflinching in its portrayal of the events leading up to Jesus being crucified, and many times through out watching it I was brought to tears by what I was seeing. Now, Mel Gibson made a very good looking film, (that has been another problem with Christian movies of the past, the production value, acting, directing, pretty much anything you can think of all sucked) that easily rates being 5 stars for me, but again, how the heck do I compare it with anything else on film. The answer is you can't. The Passion Of The Christ is the epitome of a movie that is way more then just a movie, it is a love story of God to man, that just happens to use the medium of movies to do it, and that is the problem when talking about it as a normal movie.

So there you have it, 4 movies that I feel are way more then just movies. They have each done something that no other film has done, looking at issues, and impacting culture in ways that will shape their viewers and open up channels of communication about incredibly important issues for years to come. They are more then just entertainment, or art, they are movies, but so much more then just movies, and that is all I really got to say about that. So until next time, keep your eyes open internet masses, cause you might just see something awesome**, who knows, it could happen.
*We don't own any horses, so putting a horse head in my bed would just seem out of place, plus where the heck would you get one, its not like horses are just lying around, with detachable heads. Now what we do have is hamsters, lots of them, we started with two "boys" which seemed to fight a lot, but after a while we found that the one boy gave birth to eight babies, so I guess the pet store sucks at figuring out gender, so we have hamsters a plenty to take the heads of and place them in bed with me, although it just doesn't seem to have the same effect, but I guess you work with what you got.
**Keeping your eyes open also helps you not bump into things and/or walk off cliffs, so it is kinda good all around advice if you ask me.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Don't Drink The Koolaid: Gratiuitus And Pointless Use Of 3D Rant

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, movies became successful due to the merit of their acting, directing, storytelling, plot and originality. It basically went something like this, a movie was released and if it was good, after a short time word of mouth from people seeing it would spread, thus gaining the movie an audience. That was until a little thing called special effects changed movies entirely. Now, I really have nothing against special effects, especially when they enhance the storytelling of a movie, like Star Wars Episodes 4 to 6, or The Matrix, but more often then not, movie makers rely on things like CGI (that's Computer Generated Images for those of you who don't know, but if you don't know you're probably not reading this, because you don't own a
Old School 3D Glasses
 computer). Now before CGI came around, there was a fad in the 70's called 3D, where movie goers were made to wear lame cardboard glasses and watch movies that they probably would not have watched or payed money to watch before. Fast forward to a couple years ago, and all of a sudden, I started seeing adds for movies in 3D again. The first one I really remember seeing was My Bloody Valentine, which again hearkens back to the 70's.
Ohhh, wow, a lame horror movie, but wait, is that a 3D Pick axe, now I have to see it
Making a lame horror movie be profitable can sometimes be hard, but the fact that it was in 3D, made it seem like a movie that you should go and see. Its funny, cause most of the teens and early twenties of today have no memory of 70's 3D, so they actually think they are seeing something new, and guess what, they are drinking the movie industry's koolaid, cause they are buying it like crazy, (ahh, koolaid, what great memories I have of that giant pitcher of juice, crashing through the wall to save kids from their terrible thirst, hey, I wonder what the koolaid guy would look like in 3D).
Watch out for those flying 3D Bricks, Oh Yeah!!!!
Ok, so like special effects, I don't hate 3D, but it seems to me in the last two years it has become a terrible fad again. You see, I think 3D can be a really cool effect to enhance the movie going experience, but the problem I have is that it is now actually changing the way that movies are made. What I mean is that, once upon a time, like special effects, movie makers dreamed up the story, and how they wanted to tell it, and then either worked with the special effects of the time to do it, or created their own special effects to make it happen, (George Lucas was a pioneer in this with the original Star Wars movie, Episode IV: A New Hope, he saw what he wanted in his head, and since there were no special effects to make it happen, him and his buddies invented a bunch of stuff, a lot of which is still used today). But now, movies are being made the opposite way, in that the directors are looking at the technology and making actual story and plot choices to fit the tech. (sadly, George Lucas is also guilty of this, unlike the original Star Wars movies, when he made the 3 prequel abominations, he sat down with a bunch of people and looked at the tech aspect and then tapered his story towards what it could do, to show off the CGI and how smart their computer nerds were, boooooo) The first movie I actually saw in the current version of 3D was Avatar, and after seeing it in 3D and also normally, I can say that they did a good job, and it worked, but I think it worked because it is a big action movie that has lots of stuff that suited the 3D experience, but it would have been fine even if they had not put it in 3D. On the other hand, you have a movie like Monsters VS Aliens, (now before anyone starts harking on me, let me say I love Monsters VS Aliens, it is an awesome movie, and that is kinda my point in this) which used a shot like this,
Wow, I am so glad that the script called for a paddle ball scene

So, what is the big deal right, the guy was playing paddle ball, who doesn't love paddle ball, (well, actually, my oldest daughter doesn't, she has had about 8 paddle balls and every time she tries her best to hit that little red ball and after a minute the string breaks and she throws in on the ground in understandable frustration) but think about it, why was he playing paddle ball? Here is your answer, he was playing paddle ball because someone figured out that it would make a cool 3D effect to have the ball come out towards the viewer in 3 dimensions. And that is a problem to me, cause right there you have a technique dictating what was show on screen. I would be willing to bet a million dollars* that if you looked at the original script for Monsters VS Aliens that the whole paddle ball gag was not in there, but only added because they decided to put the movie in 3D. So I don't think 3D is bad in and of itself, but just like in the 70's, more and more movies that really do not have any business being in 3D are, in hopes of cashing in, are grabbing at the proverbial 3 Dimensional straw. Here are just a few movies that were not confident enough to be viewed on their actual merit and are guilty of this offense.

Really, No, REALLY!

Smarter then your average 3D?   
This shouldn't even be a movie, no matter 3D
A sad attempt to breath life into a lame dying franchise
And lastly, here is a you tube video that kinda drives my point home at how overused and pathetic this whole thing really is.
So yeah, I hate gratuitous and needless uses of 3D effects, it insults our intelligence and is the worst type of film making. I am not saying that movies that use 3D when they shouldn't are bad movies(well, except for the four I used as examples, they all suck in ways that are too graphic for me to actually talk about here) but they should have had the courage to put their storytelling out there without jumping on a bandwagon, 3 Dimensional or otherwise. To finish I just thought I would mention that out of the 10 movies nominated for best picture of the year for the 2010 Oscars, only
These glasses were actually modeled
after my friend Jade's glasses
 one of them made any use of 3D, and that was Toy Story 3. I think that says something, good movies don't need gimmicks, sure, they had special effects, (Inception was actually mind blowing in that department, but it was done the right way, the story drove the effects, not the effects driving the story, plus I love the fact that Christopher Nolan will not even consider using 3D for making the next Batman movie, kudos to him) but they were all story driven, and effects are just another tool in the film makers toolbox, like lighting or music. Well that is it, I hope my 2 dimensional rant didn't bore you too much, have a good day, whatever dimension you may be in, and I'll rant at you later.

*Bet will not be honored.