6.28.2013

Die Hard: Presidential Edition

What's out this weekend? Well, the summer blockbuster du jour is the Channing Tatum/Jamie Foxx popcorn spectacle White House Down....or there's the buddy cop pairing of Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock in The Heat. I'll wait for the latter on DVD, but if you're curious about what the former might entail, picture the exact plot of the first Die Hard, and set it in the White House. Next swap out the always reliable Bruce Willis for...well uh....whatever your opinion is of Channing Tatum (mine? lovable mimbo.) And finally, picture said film being directed by Roland Emmerich, a man whose goal seems to be to outdo the level of destruction in each and every film he makes. I guess he got tired of trying to make the world end so many times that he decided it would be fun instead to see some political chaos of a destructing government instead. The result? Endless explosions and absolute absurdity that makes the film extremely, albeit guiltily (and perhaps in some cases unintentionally,) entertaining. This is the type of movie that Dollar Movies were made for!

John Kale (even his name echoes John McClane...) REALLY wants to be a member of the secret service for the President. After all, that's the only way to get his ten-year-old daughter who he keeps missing talent recitals for to love and respect him. Because protecting the speaker of the House is CLEARLY not a cool or respected job. Oh and Channing Tatum has a TEN YEAR OLD?? That baby-faced man we're supposed to believe already has a history? I guess he got his hippie girlfriend pregnant when he was 18...(actually the movie lists him as 33...which is his actual age, but still!) So in an effort to lessen the anger of his daughter in missing the recital, he decides to take her along to the job interview at the white house (because who doesn't bring their kids to job interviews?), and then on a nice little tour of said house. Cue the plot of Die Hard with a disgruntled Head of the Secret Service played by James Woods taking on the Hans Gruber role (and who can do that justice but Alan Rickman?) Channing, your "everyday" guy, happens to be in the right place at the right time as terrorists take over the White House and attempt to take the President, Jamie Foxx hostage. Just swap out estranged wife being taken hostage for estranged daughter and we're good to go. At least she has the plucky White House tour guide to keep her company as opposed to the smarmy businessman that always hits on Holly Genaro.

The main difference? Well, obviously the political factor in a post 9/11 world makes the film a bit more interesting (and even unsettling) than it should be. The setting change is definitely the biggest thing in its favor and keeps it from being a blatant ripoff (haha who am I kidding? It still is.) But, what I'm saying is that it was an interesting scenario to watch. The other thing the film does to try and make its mark? Explosions. And lots of them. The only way to comprehend what I mean by that is to post a list my pal Amelia generously made for me, listing (in a creative fashion) the many explosions in the film. CAUTION SPOILERS AHEAD. And I'm not gonna white these ones out because...well the film is predictable enough as it is and you might as well read them for a laugh anyway. Or not. Your choice.

THE LIST OF EXPLOSIONS IN WHITE HOUSE DOWN


The Iconic building explosion (Capitol Building)

The wear your grenades as a necklace technique

The classic car flip and burn

Machine gun meets poorly positioned flammable material storage area

The "Oops my own bomb killed me!"


The "I told you they had missiles"

The "No really did you not see those missiles?"

The Sunset Ruiner AKA bright flame against blue sky AKA when they bombed that plane mid-air

The Kick it Back (when that guy rolls the grenade back at him under the piano)

Tank vs infrastructure

Moving Rocket meets unmovable wall



Honorable Mention for other explosion-esque moments:

The fire that wished it was an explosion

Car vs national treasure

Giant machine guns vs cars

When planes fall

Thanks, Amelia! Do you see how preposterous this is??? But I can't deny it's a perfect popcorn flick (chock full of unintentional laughs)....for the dollar theater. It does run a little long, but it IS pretty entertaining. EMILY RATING: EDIT: At the urging of Kent....I probably would drop it down to a 5.5, but in all conscience can't drop it lower because it was too dang entertaining.

6.25.2013

Come on kid!

Well after World War Z, I thought it'd only be fitting that I make a Top Ten list of the most annoying kids in film (well...actually 9 from film and one from television that was almost more annoying than anyone on the list...so I HAD to include him.) Now let's get something straight right away. This trope of the annoying kid is very different than the CREEPY kid I wrote about HERE. No, these kids aren't trying constantly to kill you...just your soul. Most of the time, they're getting into danger or just being really bratty in general and you are the one that really wants to kill THEM! The annoying kid usually appears in action adventure films as a source of dramatic tension designed to make the audience fret when they're in danger. Unfortunately, we all just kinda hope that they're done away with so we don't have to hear them whine anymore! What can I say? I just have no love for these kids on the list....and it makes me wish I could do what Bette Midler does to a young Seth Green in the movie Big Business and teach these young'uns to behave! OR do this...


10. GINNY WEASLEY - HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS. In doing my research for this list and looking at other people's lists, I found a great deal of them to include a young Ronald Weasley on that list. Sure he's not my favorite character in the Potter universe, but not bad enough to make the list for me. But that doesn't mean another Weasley isn't! If you're familiar with my feelings about a certain younger sister you won't be surprised to find her here. Ginny is annoying all throughout the series, but here this dum dum singlehandedly unleashes Voldy and almost gets herself killed. Too bad. Maybe Harry would have ended up with a better love interest had he not gotten there in time.

It looked better on the cat.

9. TIM & LEX - JURASSIC PARK. Okay, to be honest, Tim doesn't bother me too much. In fact as a little girl I may or may not have secretly had the hots for him. Haha! But really how hard is it for him to climb a fence!? Or why the heck didn't he just try and climb through the holes of said fence? He was certainly small enough! But I can cut him some slack. However I cannot say the same for his biggest  moment of "WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING???" when he's just sitting there looking over Lex's shoulder at her hacking skills instead of handing Dr. Grant the gun! Dr. Sattler couldn't reach it, they were both trying to hold the door closed come on! Stop sitting there and hand them the gun. Lex is far worse though how she always draws attention to herself by you know....shining a flashlight right into a T-Rex's face, and then screaming every chance she gets. Sure I haven't been in her situation before.....maybe I would scream too. But for now I will condemn her and say she's stupid.



8. CHARLIE BUCKET - WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. He stole fizzy lifting drink!!! HE LOSES! Good day! I kinda wish the movie had ended there and Charlie just stood there with his overbite mouth hanging wide open and shaking his head like he couldn't believe it. Hey, kid don't look so surprised and stop acting so entitled. You and your crazy Grandpa deliberately broke the rules so stop pretending you're so innocent. The one thing that kooky remake improved on was Charlie...and honestly it wasn't too hard to do. I'm not sure you can get more blah than this kid.

The End.


7. DANI DENNISON - HOCUS POCUS. Dani is the epitome of a brat. That said, I can't say I didn't take a few pages from her book when I saw this movie as a child....but only a couple! (Mostly tattling on my brother and trying to get my way...) But Dani? She's the worst. She whines, she screams, she guilts, she insults, she disobeys instructions (stay in the circle of salt you dumb girl!) and she finds herself very much in danger all too frequently which causes others to have to risk their lives for her. Just not a very pleasant kid that no one would have missed had the witches stolen her soul. We'll leave it at that.

Utterly charming.


6. KELLY CURTIS - THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK. This girl is even more of a punk than Tim & Lex because she thinks she's SO cool. Well, I got a newsflash for you, Walter Cronkite, she isn't. Yeah, she's more of a teen than a kid....but I still felt she deserved a place on the list. Why? The pole vault trick she performed to kick a raptor in the face has to be the most ludicrous and disgraceful thing in the history of the Jurassic Park franchise (with the talking raptor dream in J III as a close runner up.) Ian Malcolm, how on earth could you have a daughter so lame??



5. ANAKIN SKYWALKER - STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE. Yes, this comes from a prequel apologist, but there's really no defending Jake Lloyd's performance here. Sure it's become hilariously and unintentionally quotable...but yeah it's still pretty awful. Ewan McGregor's Obi-wan summed it up pretty accurately when he said "Why do I sense we've picked up another pathetic life form?" It's not that he's bratty, or even THAT annoying (okay well that's debatable...) he's just kinda silly and not very convincing.....and it sounds like he's reading his lines off a cue card. Not how anyone pictured a young Darth Vader to be. I really could go on and on....but I don't wanna be a hater.

You tell her son.

4. WALT - LOST. This kid couldn't BE more annoying. Really I'm convinced he couldn't. Which is why I couldn't be happier that [SPOILER highlight to read] he was written off the show after one season. [/SPOILER] All the kid does is defy his Dad and scream at him. Never trust pariah children. When you're not looking they might try and destroy any chance you have of getting off a stranded island and just generally really try your patience. Probably every single person on that island hated him, and at least Sawyer had the guts to say he wanted to smack some sense into him. I don't recall exactly what happened to him when it is all said and done...I just hoped he suffered. Hey, he's fictional! Stop judging me.

Only one person on this island cares about Walt...

3. JOSEPH DUNN - UNBREAKABLE. Remember that dumb face I mentioned that Charlie Bucket likes to pull? Spencer Treat Clark in Unbreakable must have come up with his own homage to that and pulls out that mug any chance he gets. But even worse, he adds tears in his eyes to said look...and like in the picture below somehow manages to look high too? But that look alone isn't enough to put him above all the others on the list so far. Pulling a gun on his Dad (in order to test his "powers") and almost ruining a fantastic film is what gets him so high onto the list. He's just out of control.

Friends don't shoot friends!

2. RACHEL FERRIER - WAR OF THE WORLDS.
Imagine every kid on this list and imagine them screaming during their entire screen time of their respective films. That is pretty much what Dakota Fanning's impact is in her role in War of the Worlds. ALL this girl does is scream and be useless. I don't even have the energy to describe how much I hate her in this movie. Her older brother isn't much better either though. THIS article perfectly describes it, as well as their thoughts on Tim & Lex as well. I must echo this writer in wondering if Steven Spielberg REALLY hates kids, because my goodness all the ones in his films are pretty dang obnoxious.



And the number one spot goes to....


1. SAMMY PARKER - ONE FINE DAY. One Fine Day is a sweet 90's romantic comedy featuring the brilliant pairing of Michelle Pfieffer and George Clooney. It is an enjoyable, charming little flick.....all except for the inclusion of THE brattiest, most annoying kid to ever grace the silver screen. All this kid does is get into trouble all. day. long. From breaking important things, spilling people's coffee, getting marbles stuck up his nose...The sky is the limit with this kid. And let's be honest, he has zero cute factor to make up for his behavior. It's no wonder Sammy's dad never wants to spend time with him. There I said it.

And we all hate you.

Well that's the list! Was I too harsh? Or did I let some other snot nosed brat off the hook? Let me know in the comments below!

EDIT: I just realized I left off Briony Tallis in Atonement. Putting a man she knew was innocent in prison because she was jealous would probably put her in the top 5 of this list, knocking Ginny Weasley off. My apologies for my carelessness!

6.21.2013

A Monster Good Time

So I've already given you my thoughts about one of today's wide releases HERE, now it's time for the other. I've been a fan of Pixar for a very long time now. For proof of that fact visit my post HERE. Almost twelve years ago (seriously I can't even believe it's been that long...) Pixar's fourth film, Monsters Inc was released, and I absolutely adored it. Everything about it was perfect. The world they created was fun and adorable. The attention to detail was fantastic and the characters were endearing. It is possible that Inc. was the film that really made me love Pixar and realize how consistent it was. A few years ago though it seemed that Pixar might not have that same stamina or originality they once had when it was announced they'd finally be resorting to gasp...SEQUELS (or, in this case, a prequel.) Sure one of their first few films WAS a sequel, but it was actually a well done one. Having more sequels forced couldn't be good though right? Luckily they defied the odds and Toy Story 3 was a success and a very strong film in its own right. And then came Cars 2. Okay okay, I didn't"t actually see it but from what I've heard it was awful. So basically, I was pretty terrified at the prospect of Monsters Inc's legacy being tainted.

Happily I can say the legacy has not been tainted! Monsters University is an adorable, chuckle-filled film, that though doesn't quite live up to the big shoes of the original (which is NOT a fair comparison since that film has Boo in it), the film is nevertheless a very delightful and worthy installment in this new little franchise. I'll be honest, the film's plot isn't quite as clever as its predecessor... and in fact actually shared quite a few similarities with The Internship (it has almost the same plot structure completely! [ie SPOILER highlight to read] a group of leftover misfits join together to prove their worth and win challenges that will allow them a special spot in their respective programs. [/end spoiler] But the reason that works here as opposed to The Internship, is the setting is far more interesting and creative....and the characters are actually lovable. Plus similar to Inc, the attention to detail in this world is unbelievable. This layeredness is what sets it apart from the types of films it competes with. In almost every second, if you're looking you can spot an incredibly clever little joke whether it's in the forefront or the background. Basically as usual, children and adults of all ages can enjoy.

When it comes down to it, the setting and the characters are what make all the difference in the long run and allow for more creativity than films with similar plots. And getting a further glimpse into this world I adored in Inc. was priceless. Also I must say the new voice cast additions were all top notch (though it wasn't in there long, I could recognize the always reliable John Krasinski's voice anywhere!) and everyone seemed to be having a ball. In short, I find this movie to be absolutely adorable (but hey I may be pretty biased.) The magic is still there and this world of monsters, thankfully remains to be full of fresh ideas for Pixar. Oh and make sure you stay after the credits for a special surprise! EMILY RATING: 8.5/10

6.19.2013

Z is for Zombie

Have you ever seen a zombie movie before? If so, then you've probably already seen World War Z. But even though you've probably seen this movie ten times before, something tells me that won't be a problem for the audiences of today because they'll get precisely what they expect....and little else. That's not to say there aren't some decent thrills or real moments of tension, there absolutely are...however, there's pretty much little to no  originality to be found here. Mankind contracts a mysterious disease, mankind turns into zombies, zombies attack. Repeat. But what sets this apart from all the other times this has been done before? Not a ton. I won't lie though, I can't say I wasn't entertained by the majority of the film even if the characters were completely two dimensional. I do believe World War Z is fun, just ultimately forgettable.

One thing the film has going for it, unlike last week's blockbuster Man of Steel is that I felt like the trailer didn't over spoil really nice moments. Then again, maybe I just didn't obsessively watch the trailer for this movie like I did for MOS. It was just kind of a nice surprise to have the film structured differently than I was expecting...yet that surprise kind of relegated characters that appeared to have a bigger role in the advertising, sidelined in the actual film....which makes it kinda feel like their purpose was pretty much pointless. [SPOILERS highlight to read] The wife is given nothing to do, but stay on a Navy ship until Brad returns, but THANKFULLY that means her two stupid kids were also relegated to be there as well. Had they been in the movie as much as they were in the first half hour I probably would have lost it... they're up there with some of the most annoying movie kids I can think of. [/end SPOILER]

To be honest though, it was hard to really relate or root for any character in this film. The action starts almost right from the get go and we have no time to establish who these characters are and why we care if they live or die. Unless a screenwriter plans for some really nice moments along the way that help us get to know a character after calamity strikes (like for example in The Impossible, a film with a brief setup as well) it's really hard to care about someone in such an expendable movie when we have no idea who they are.

The lack of setup didn't just hurt the characters though, it hurt some of the plausibility of the things that you as an audience are kind of forced to go along with. Early on you don't see any time for adjusting to this new crisis. People pretty much act immediately like they do in all other zombie films....and in fact maybe even worse! For this film to be based on realism as it seemed to be the intent with the initial focus on one everyday family (and also since it seems like the inspiration for the whole thing was the Miami attack!)....it'd be nice to have a more gradual transition into mass hysteria. Once things get going this can mostly be forgiven, but it definitely doesn't make the film as strong as it could be. When it comes down to it, you've seen this movie before and you've seen it done better (my vote is for Zombieland since it boasts action AND characters with depth.) That said, it's a fun enough flick as long as you don't take it too seriously. Just know that you'll have forgotten it in a week or so. EMILY RATING: 7/10.

6.17.2013

Dad Dad Daddy-o

Happy Belated Father's Day to all you Dads out there! As with mother's day, I've presented a list of memorable movie and t.v. dads. If the list isn't enough and you're still feeling like you have daddy issues here's some films I suggest: The Shining, Pretty in Pink (if your dad is perfect and YOU'RE the one that's an ungrateful brat...), Field of Dreams and Big Fish to name a few. Now let's get to the list!

DARTH VADER - Uh...spoiler alert. But here's the greatest cinematic father there is. Well....actually he's a pretty terrible dad....possibly the worst. Always trying to either kill you or turn you evil and all. Oh and accidentally killing your mom in a domestic dispute is always kind of a touchy subject. So probably not the best patriarchal example to strive to be like. But the important thing to remember is that there's still good in him deep deep down (and that's all that matters even if you're responsible for countless people's deaths.)

HOMER SIMPSON - 

Here is where I'd post my Simpsons video I edited for HumorUs that appeared on Buzzfeed of all of Homer's hilariously terrible advice....but unfortunately it got taken down. It summed up the greatness of the character of Homer in the first 10 seasons of the show. Everything the man said was preposterous but at the same time really clever in its stupidity haha. Sure he'd rather drink a beer than win father of the year, but he's happy just the way he is.




MARLIN THE CLOWNFISH - 

While he may be a little overprotective, you can't really blame the guy when he lost all of his other baby fishes AND his wife to a rude sea monster or eel or whatever that was. As a result of that traumatic experience, he's absolutely devoted to his son and will swim across the entire ocean to find him. That's nothing to sneeze at!



TED MOSBY - What a dedicated dad to spend ten years telling his kids a story about all the conquests he had before he met their mom. Haha! Okay some of the details he may or may not tell his kids probably should be up for debate, but he's a good guy who has always wanted to be a dad and clearly loves his kids before he even has them...so I'm sure when he finally does he'll be a great dad. Besides he makes his children watch Star Wars at a young age so he MUST be good. And for every questionable thing he says, he always has a nugget of valuable advice to even it out.


ATTICUS FINCH - 

Not only is Atticus a pretty amazing individual all the way around, but he's a good dad to his kids too. He loves them and wants them to understand the real truths regarding life and humanity. He teaches by example the way to treat others, and for these kids the value of that lesson is immeasurable.



MIKE BRADY - If you want a father with all the answers all the time, look no further than the father of the Brady clan. Yeah, I know I used Carol in the last list, but Mike Brady's know-it-all-ness had to make an appearance in this list. He pretty much perfected the Dad guilt trip lecture speech!

DANNY TANNER - Raising 3 girls on your own is tough to do! That's why you ask your brother-in-law and weird friend to move in to help lighten your load. If you have a dad per/child you can't go wrong right?? Well, don't underestimate how crazy those Tanner girls can be!





CLARK GRISWOLD - Let's celebrate the Dad who always has unrealistic expectations of his kids and the vacations he plans for them. He always fantasizes about cheating on his beautiful perfect wife all the time but cut him some slack! He's the perfect American dad!

MICHAEL BLUTH - We'll just completely ignore everything that happened in the fourth season and just talk about the good dad he was in seasons 1-3. Sure he was secretly kinda manipulative...but he's always just looking out for his son's best interests. Who can blame him for wanting to save him from a girl like Ann (her?) He wasn't perfect (like having a hard time listening to his son when he'd talk about loving his cousin for example,) but he almost always tried to put his son's needs before his own.



JOR-EL - If for some reason you foresee that you won't be able to be in your son's life (on another planet,) make sure you leaving a floating A.I. hologram of yourself to be able to guide him and teach him about his heritage. That's the considerate thing to do, after all, just don't take the time to make one of your wife or anything.

Honorable Mentions: Frank Costanza, George McFly, Mufasa, George Sr. Bluth and Professor Henry Jones

And that's a wrap! I hope everyone had a great father's day yesterday. Hooray for Dad's! Hip Hip Hooray. The end. And be sure to check out HumorUs' youtube video page for other funny dad's!

6.14.2013

The Man of Metropolis Stole My Heart

Once upon a time there was a superhero who stole my heart. Ten years ago to be precise, a young Emily laid eyes on one Tom Welling from a CW teen drama (or so I thought, but still happened to be...sort of) called Smallville.  I then immersed myself in all things, Superman, as I realized the true premise of the show and very quickly I found a love for the character in nearly every incarnation. Christopher Reeve, of course, was classic, but I really enjoyed how much TV shows were able to delve into the character and his relationships with those around him (sometimes for better or for worse...) As such, I've grown to have many feelings on how Superman should be handled...and not just the man, but his whole universe as well. So how did Man of Steel fare against such hopes? Mostly quite well, though a few things I'm not sure hit the mark for me.

Let's start off with what I loved. I really enjoyed how fresh this take felt compared to Superman Returns in 2006 which was more of an homage to things that had been done before (by Richard Donner namely) than an actual film. Focusing on Zod was a great choice for Man of Steel because it allowed for some pretty spectacular action sequences. Why? Well for once Superman is finally up against someone that can actually rival him. Lex is a great villain and all and I'd love to see a different take on him in the future, but he doesn't give you the same physical presence. The action sequences were really incredible if a bit long...though it's hard to complain about. Truly much of the film is something to behold...and something that felt like new territory to me. It was a nice change to focus so much on his Kryptonian side while neglecting his reporter side which was completely absent though nicely set up for next time (please let there be a next time...) It was also an interesting change of pace [SPOILER highlight to read] to have Lois know from the get go that Clark = Superman. [/SPOILER.] Um also I really REALLY enjoyed (looking at) Henry Cavill. He is just an absolutely beautiful man...oh and he makes a good Clark and Superman too. But it was too distracting during his opening scenes when he was shirtless....I couldn't even concentrate. Sorry, I had to say it! Now I'll stop. But really, I felt he did the character justice even if the script kinda just grazed the surface. If I have a problem with anything it's that I could do with a little less action in exchange for some quiet character moments (which, unfortunately, were almost all shown during trailers.) I thought both sets of parents were finely cast and everyone added a lot to their roles.

But the fan girl in me had a few problems with some other stuff. I enjoy Amy Adams...but I'm not sure I'm sold on her Lois. OR her chemistry with Cavill and come ON lady how hard would that be to drum up?!?!? And at the VERY LEAST couldn't she have bothered to dye her hair brown??? I'm sorry, but Lois is no ginger. Gingers have MJ, we get Lois. The character of Lois and her relationship with Clark/Superman is one of my favorite things about this story, and I wish they would have developed something better between these two than the average run of the mill action movie romance. Like...I almost feel like Shia LeBeouf and Megan Fox had more development in Transformers than Clark and Lois here! I feel like they are one of these power couples in all of pop culture...and while they had some nice moments there was just something missing.

I'm sorry Lois, I prefer brunettes.


The pacing of the film was kinda hit and miss with me. I loved the Smallville flashbacks and learning about how Clark discovers and masters his powers (I do feel like this was a great way of doing the origin story,) but midway and towards the end of the film, though thoroughly entertained I could feel myself getting a headache and thinking some of the sequences went on a bit long. And one more thing. What's with this female type character of Jimmy Olsen? Jenny Olsen? We're supposed to care about her?? Nah. Get rid of her now  and give us some Jimmy! But as a whole I think this is a worthy entry in the Superman universe and while I feel they only scratched the surface with some of the characters, once again I don't think it deserves the low rating it is currently at on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics are all sourpusses this summer I guess! Right now, I'd say I liked it on par with Gatsby and would give it a solid 8/10 though there is plenty of room for improvement in rewatches. 

6.07.2013

Lazy Writing 101

I went to a screening of The Internship a few weeks back. The film is out today, so I figured I should probably give you a review right? The trouble is, I'm not sure how to arrange my thoughts on this film into a coherently written review. But I suppose that makes a lot of sense since this film is really all over the place; pretty much the definition of a mixed bag. So, I can already tell this "review" is gonna be a mini one! This film wasn't truly awful though it had many moments that were. But it also had moments of genuine humor (I pretty much lost it at any and every Flashdance reference, also the food handouts, bad dates and seeing a real life game of quidditch were pretty amusing too.)

Those clever moments, however, were many times undone by the pull out your hair moments of awkward horror that went on and on and on. Really, there were a few moments in this film that were downright painful, while others were just perplexing (we're really gonna spend that big chunk of a film at a strip club...? uh okay.) But mostly the whole thing was just so predictable, which I mean is fine because the film doesn't really aim too high...but some of it's structuring and what happens next could be spotted a mile away, and that gets tiring. I guess since Facebook got their movie, Google felt like they should pay someone to make one for them (and oddly enough features one of the guys from The Social Network!) One that doesn't have the sophistication or social commentary as the previous film....merely a film that would get people to think "wow it'd be SOOOOOO cool to work for google!" The Internship gets a passing grade from me...and by that I mean you should pass on it. But if you're wondering if you want an internship at google and scattered moments of hilarity (coupled with too many moments of forced unfunny humor) are your cup of tea then by all means see it! EMILY RATING: 5/10.

6.05.2013

Critically Critical

So far this summer and its cinematic offerings have been a very randomly critically received bunch. That too includes the majority of critics thoughts (that echoed my own) on the Arrested Development revival. What'd I think about THAT? Well let's just say I wish I could take a forget-me-now for 85% of the season (like I unfortunately and ironically predicted.) IndieWire summed it up completely and succinctly to my thoughts HERE and Kent at Showtime Showdown was right on as well. You can read his post on the season HERE. I binge watched the whole thing in a day and am now on a second rewatch with my pals. I may write a review for it after the fact, but if not those two articles summed up my thoughts pretty well (so I probably won't haha!) What a role reversal for the critical darling Arrested. Back on its initial release the critics were the ones shouting its brilliance to the rooftops. This time? They like many fans I know expected too much (but really, with the quality of the first 3 seasons how couldn't we??) and were let down. For a creator used to hearing only praise regarding this one certain creation...hearing the opposite was too jarring. Quickly after the release, Mitch Hurwitz tweeted something to the effect that critics were, to paraphrase, resisting change. This reaction to the critics, as well as seeing them recently being pretty harsh on a couple of films that didn't deserve it led me to ponder the role of critics in pop culture, as well as their influence in our own lives. That and I STILL need to do a tribute to Roger Ebert...so I figured I'd try to tackle both. My apologies this post comes a few months late in regards to the Ebert portion.

   Trust me. They're not reading good reviews on that phone!


Going back to Arrested, it seems awfully tacky to attack these people that once rallied for your show. If it weren't for them telling what people they did to watch and writing their constant praise the show might not have survived for as long as it did or gain any cult following at all! To be fair, Mitch sent out another tweet clarifying his stance, but the idea of him refusing criticism bothered me. Mostly because it was all pretty constructive... and it was coming from people who did LOVE the show...they just wanted and expected the best from it. They understood what made the first three seasons brilliant and saw what was lacking from this one. No one should be above criticism, and when you think you are usually your product suffers A LOT. The new season of AD and Hurwitz actually reminded me a lot of George Lucas and the prequels (and this comes from someone who likes the prequels just fine, though yes I can admit their flaws and inferiority.) In every interview, I read of the cast they all just had blind trust in Hurwitz and called him a genius in every step. When you're surrounded by people worshiping you, it is hard to step back and see the full picture...but you've really got to get an outsider opinion otherwise you're not seeing anything how it truly is. Another person whose story this echoes? The man I wrote my last blog post on, M. Night Shyamalan.

Shyamalan followed a nearly identical path, and like Hurwitz did NOT like receiving any sort of negative criticism. So in his first true dud, Lady in the Water, he thought it'd be fun to show critics he didn't care about their opinion whatsoever with the inclusion of a critic character who [SPOILER ALERT- highlight to read] dies a gruesome death. [/SPOILER ALERT] And, to be honest, I don't think critics ever forgave him for that. Yes, his next two films following were completely worthy of all the things said about them. But After Earth? The critics TORE that apart with comparisons to BATTLEFIELD EARTH of all things. Whoa whoa whoa, guys. Vendetta much? The film is perfectly watchable. No, it's not GREAT. But it's not bad! The Worst film ever made? Come on. The reviews would have you believe it's Nicolas Cage quality and I can assure you that is NOT the case. And the level of hate some of them had towards Gatsby? I don't get it. Which brings me to the point that critics aren't always to be trusted. Like anyone else, they're human and they certainly have their fair share of prejudices even if they're supposed to be unbiased...most of the time they're not.

Another critic character in film actually describes the profession the very best. Anton Ego, the snooty food critic of Ratatouille says
 "In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations, the new needs friends."
Critics, like the things they/we review are a mixed bag. They can serve a great purpose in telling people about the new (as with the original Arrested Development,) or they can give some constructive criticism in things that could and should be better of the "okay" (new AD..) And then of course they can go a little crazy with their power and destroy things that don't really deserve to be destroyed, or the stuff that does deserve it haha. I believe critics serve an important purpose in the media world, and, for the most part, their opinions are well informed and deserving to heard. But other times? We should take them with a grain of salt.

Though no critic is perfect, it must be said the influence Roger Ebert had on the profession and film in general. He was a critic that often defended the new and treated the medium as an art form. His opinion greatly shaped many people's lives whether it was to become a filmmaker or just to see films in a different light than we might have before. Did he rip stuff apart? Haha, all the time! In fact, HERE is a pretty entertaining article with some of his best slams, which includes two films I think he was a wee bit hard on (can you guess which two?) Perhaps one of the reasons he was so hard on some things though is that he really expected a standard of excellence from all of the things he took in. He said once  “Entertainment is about the way things should be. Art is about the way they are." Searching for art in an entertainment obsessed world is almost a nearly impossible thing to do these days, which is why critics can serve such a valuable role in helping to decipher what is what, and which are worth your time. Roger Ebert was one of the best in this regard. His keen intellect was able to see and critique films in the best possible way, and his opinions are already missed. Well, that's about all for now, but for more Ebert goodness, BuzzFeed had some good articles HERE and HERE.