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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: February 2012


Feb 29: Crazy, Stupid, Love

"A middle-aged husband's life changes dramatically when his wife asks him for a divorce. He seeks to rediscover his manhood with the help of a new-found friend Jacob, learning to pick up girls at bars."

   Steve Carell will win an Oscar one day, you can quote me on that right now, right here. His filmography has become stronger and stronger as time goes on, and Crazy, Stupid, Love is another exceptional entry. His likeability, his honesty, and his earnestness adds so much to the movies he's in, and when the perfect part comes along (I thought it was Little Miss Sunshine), Carell will be swimming in a kiddie pool of awards. And, you really can't help but be happy for him. In Crazy, Stupid, Love, he shines, as does the entire cast, and it's because of this ensemble that the movie works wondrously. It is a romantic comedy and, of course, can't go without a couple of cliches, but most of the time it makes fun of itself in that fact.

It's a "chick flick" without Katherine Heigel, thus 100% bi*ch free. 

   Crazy, Stupid, Love is a fresh, original, and smart movie. The dialogue is hilarious and very sincere, and there are just the right amount of story-lines going on (f**k you New Year's Eve) that not only keep your interest, but come together gloriously at the end. The film has a handful of genuinely funny moments, as well as a couple of pull-at-your-heart-strings scenes that leave you a little "blubbered". It's an excellent combination of sappy, happy, and not-too crappy. Everything that happens is believable, and it never crosses into the "Come on! Really?" area that most romantic comedies find themselves inside. 

Thankfully, no "empowered" successful female editors, lawyers, reporters, bakers, or designers "too busy" for love

   Overall, Crazy, Stupid, Love is a nice little movie that is not just for women. There are a fair share of laughs and the performances by Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, and Emma Stone clearly show that they are perfect for their roles. Carrell's kid, played by Jonah Bobo, gives quite the performance for someone his age. Unlike most comedies that fizzle out towards their conclusions, Crazy, Stupid, Love starts off a little slow, but it's finale is worth the wait. The film knows you're not some stupid drone and in its smart, witty dialogue and characters, it's so much more relatable than most of the shit polluting the theaters around the world. 

The Good:
it's a film that knows its audience, and awards us with a great cast, dialogue, soundtrack, and plot
The Bad:
although slightly disguised, it's still a movie about rich, beautiful people and their problems 
The Ugly:
my realization that I will never look "photoshopped" like Ryan Gosling

Overall: 7.9/10

Best Quote:
Jacob: "The war between the sexes is over. We won the second women started doing pole dancing for exercise."

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Feb 28: Justice League: Doom

"Vandal Savage steals confidential files Batman has compiled on the members of the Justice League, and learns all their weaknesses."

  If you ask anyone that knows me, you'll find out that I am a Batman fanatic. And, of course, the Justice League involves Batman. I buy all of the DC Comics animated movies each "season" and anticipate the next one immediately after. It's no hiding that I am a huge nerd and Batman, and The Justice League, are the strongest motivations of said nerd-dom. With all of that said, Justice League: Doom succeeds in that it has fleeting moments of awesome and, as an animated "action" film, the sequences are done very well. However, there really isn't a lot of story going on and it's almost all one on one battles strung together in an insanely loose plot. But, hey, it's all pretty damn cool.

Helllllllllll yeeaaahhhhhhh

   The best part of Justice League: Doom is the fact that most of the voice actors who have played each character for years return for another addition to the DC universe. Kevin Conroy continues to personify Batman so perfectly (the day he retires will be a sad day indeed). The film has an enormous cast of both heroes and villains, and its nice to see a handful of underused characters getting some screen time. Metallo, Cheetah, Star Sapphire, Bane, Mirror Master, and Vandal Savage make up The League of Doom, while Cyborg joins the mainstay Justice Leaguers. 

West, Keaton, Kilmer, Clooney and Bale got nothing on Mr. Conroy. 

   Overall, Justice League: Doom is a nice little addition to the animated world of superheroes and, although lacking a solid story, it has a very interesting concept. Seeing what would happen to each member of the Justice League when their weaknesses are exposed proves to be an original idea, but I just wish the execution was a little stronger. The action sequences are entertaining and seeing each hero showing off their powers is always awesome. At only 77 minutes, Justice League: Doom does leave you wanting more and makes you miss the glory days of Batman: The Animated Series and the Justice League cartoons. 

Overall: 7.0/10

The Good:
seeing the always awesome Justice League back together for another animated adventure
The Bad:
a messy, incomplete story
The Ugly:
realizing there will be no more episodes of a Batman TV show featuring Kevin Conroy

Best Quote:
  1. Superman: "With all that talk about unchecked power, you are so arrogant that you didn't bother to come up with a plan to stop yourself?"
  2. Batman:  "I do have a plan! It's called the Justice League."

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Feb 27: Hatchet

"When a group of tourists on a New Orleans haunted swamp tour find themselves stranded in the wilderness, their evening of fun and spooks turns into a horrific nightmare."

   Hatchet is a very hit and miss movie. The dialogue and the characters are disgustingly bad, but the special effects are amazing. The only question is, do decapitations and bodies being ripped apart make up for a completely unlikable cast of awfully written characters whose deaths you eagerly anticipate? The answer is... kind of? Obviously a movie like this needs some sort of plot to string together the awesome gore, but Hatchet's is so weak you really can't help or hold it against it. The film has a "token" black guy, a stereotypical Asian, a middle-age religious couple, two bimbos who have more breasts than brains, a "nerd", and the empty shell of a girl we're supposed to cheer for. You can assume the filmmakers were going for some sort of spoof factor, but it is just all so terribly bad. The blonde bimbo is probably one of the stupidest people I have seen in a film.

She makes Paris Hilton look like Stephen Hawking. 

   Hatchet is frustrating but actually enjoyable. As the gang is chased through the Lousiana bayou by some steroid pumping deformed redneck (named Victor Crowley), they actually choose to fight back instead of simply running away until they're all dead. Of course, the characters are not the smartest bunch of people to exactly know how to kill a giant man-baby murderer so, you can assume how it all plays out. The creature's back story is unique and interesting, and the myth Hatchet tries to set up has the smallest weight behind it and at least adds Victor Crowley to the footnotes of horror history. 

Part Sloth from The Goonies, part Uruk-Hai, part Mickey Rourke

   Overall, Hatchet is enjoyable...if you can look past the piss poor dialogue and acting. Each death is unique and original with marvelous, yet hilarious, special effects. If anything, Hatchet is worth a viewing for the gore itself and, at 84 minutes in length, it's not like it's going to take a chunk out of your day. If you enjoy campy horror with awesome violence, Hatchet's for you. As for an actually legitimate well-made movie, Hatchet fails as a whole, but I'd still recommend giving it a shot. 

The Good:
amazing special effects
The Bad:
dialogue, acting, and pretty much every other aspect of the movie
The Ugly:
Victor Crowley- just look at him 

Overall: 6.0/10

Best Quote:
Sadly, nothing worth mentioning. 

P.S. The film does feature The Candyman (Tony Todd) and Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). So, it could be somewhat their seal of approval? 

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My Oscar Picks

Here's my quick picks for tonight's Academy awards. Although I don't agree on a handful of the nominations (The Descendants is so overrated), I look forward to these awards every year. They're kind of like my own little Super Bowl, but I am slowly losing faith in the nominations and the show itself. Let's hope the return of Billy Crystal can kick some much needed enthusiasm and entertainment in to the awards. Below I have included my actual picks and then my choices for what I'd actually like to see win. 

Best Motion Picture of the Year:
The Artist CORRECT
The Descendants
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close 
The Help 
Midnight in Paris 
The Tree of Life 
War Horse 

My Oscar Pick: The Artist- Damn. I wish the Best Picture category wouldn't be so predictable every year. And, why is Extremely Loud and Incredible Close even nominated... ugh.
My Personal Pick: Midnight in Parismy favorite movie of 2011

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role:
Demián Bichir for A Better Life 
George Clooney for The Descendants
Jean Dujardin for The Artist CORRECT
Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt for Moneyball

My Oscar Pick: Jean Dujardinbecause The Artist is going to win nearly everything
My Personal Pick: Brad Pitt- just give him an Oscar already... it's about time

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role:
Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs 
Viola Davis for The Help 
Rooney Mara for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 
Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady 
Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn

My Oscar Pick: Viola Davis
My Personal Pick: Viola Davisas said in my review of The Help, she earned it and deserves it

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role:
Kenneth Branagh for My Week with Marilyn 
Jonah Hill for Moneyball 
Nick Nolte for Warrior 
Christopher Plummer for Beginners CORRECT
Max von Sydow for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

My Oscar Pick: Christopher Plummer- and he does deserve it but...
My Personal Pick: This one's insanely close, but I have to pick Nick Nolte for Warrior, a completely overlooked movie this awards season. 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role:
Bérénice Bejo for The Artist 
Jessica Chastain for The Help 
Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids 
Janet McTeer for Albert Nobbs 
Octavia Spencer for The Help CORRECT

My Oscar Pick: Octavia Spencer, hands down 
My Personal Pick: Just like Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer deserves it

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
The Artist
Margin Call
Midnight in Paris CORRECT
A Separation

My Oscar Pick: Midnight in Paris
My Personal Pick: Midnight in Paris- the only award my favorite movie will walk away with...sigh

Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay
The Descendants CORRECT
The Ides of March
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

My Oscar Pick: The Descendants, and I completely disagree
My Personal Pick: Moneyball- incredible dialogue and an engaging story out of a seemingly uninteresting idea

Best Directing:
Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris 
Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist CORRECT
Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life 
Alexander Payne for The Descendants 
Martin Scorsese for Hugo

My Oscar Pick: Michel Hazanavicius
My Personal Pick: Martin Scorcese- Hugo was incredible, and he tried something completely new and it worked wondrously 

Best Animated Feature:
A Cat in Paris 
Chico & Rita 
Kung Fu Panda 2 
Puss in Boots 

My Oscar Pick: Rango 
My Personal Pick: Rango- although I didn't enjoy the story, the animation alone is worth the award

Best Foreign Language Film:
In Darkness 
Monsieur Lazhar 
A Separation CORRECT

My Oscar PickA Separation
My Personal Pick: N/A as I haven't see any of them

As for the Rest:
Documentary: Pina ACTUAL: Undefeated
Cinematography: The Tree of Life ACTUAL: Hugo
Editing: The Artist ACTUAL: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Art Direction: The Artist ACTUAL: Hugo
Costume Design: The Artist CORRECT
Makeup: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part II ACTUAL: The Iron Lady
Original Score: The Artist CORRECT
Original Song: The Muppets CORRECT
Sound Mixing: Transformers: Dark of the Moon ACTUAL: Hugo
Sound Editing: Transformers: Dark of the Moon ACTUAL: Hugo
Visual Effects: Rise of the Planet of the Apes ACTUAL: Hugo
Documentary, short: The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom ACTUAL: Saving Face
Short Film, animated: La Luna ACTUAL:  The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Short Film, live action: Time Freak ACTUAL: The Shore

OVERALL: 12/24- 50%... shit...


Feb 26: Super

"After his wife falls under the influence of a drug dealer, an everyday guy transforms himself into Crimson Bolt, a superhero with the best intentions, though he lacks for heroic skills."

  A guy named Frank (Rain Wilson) has an absolutely f**ked up dream about God himself reaching down and touching him, calling him to become a homemade superhero and fight crime in his little down. He soon gains a sidekick in the psychopathic Libby (Ellen Page) and the two roam the streets and practically kill the criminals they run into. The entire adventure is crazy and oh so violent, as two completely delusional people think they have what it takes to be heroes. Super is as though Napoleon Dynamite and Kick-Ass had a born-to-be institutionalized and rather aggressive love child. 

Vote for Pedro- or get torn to shreds by a gattling gun attached to a jet-pack

   Rain Wilson is perfect in the role, given the material. He plays unhinged and psychotic very well and his downward spiral into his madness and obsession is interesting to watch. Super has an interesting story, but its execution is messy and just a little too f**ked up. We are actually watching a completely delusional man run around beating people to death with a wrench and it's more disturbing than anything else. Any heartfelt emotion we should feel for Frank goes out the window immediately and you hope it'll all end with his demise or incarceration. He's not a character you can root for and neither is his maniac sidekick. Super is simply a slideshow of the weird and the violent, but not in a good way. 

It all actually becomes a little too hard to watch. 

  Overall, Super could have been something great but falls completely apart along the way. With very unlikable characters and a completely delusional lead, the only emotion the film elicits is uncomfortable frustration. The violence is over-the-top, but instead of a fun, wow factor a la Kill Bill or Kick-Ass, it's just disturbing. The acting, I suppose, is good, but the script given to Wilson and the rest just gives the characters no depth. I will admit I chuckled at a few moments throughout Super and parts are enjoyable, but I couldn't confidently recommend it as a good movie. 

The Good:
Rain Wilson fitting the part, even though his character's a tool
The Bad:
messy plot, that's rather depressing, and a story so detached from emotion you keep checking how much time is left before it's over
The Ugly:
violence that instead of being "glorified" and fun, is just too sadistic to take lightly

Overall: 5.1/10

Best Quote:
Libby: "Whoa, what are those?" 
Frank D'Arbo: "I'm not sure if I'm doing it right. If I am... bombs." 

Watch These Instead:
Kick-Ass, because it does what the title states
Defendor, Woody Harrelson attempting to be his own kind of hero
And, of course, anything Batman, except Batman & Robin... we don't talk about that one

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Feb 25: Tron: Legacy

"The son of a virtual world designer goes looking for his father and ends up inside the digital world that his father designed. He meets his father's creation turned bad and a unique ally who was born inside the digital domain of The Grid."

   Tron: Legacy is an interesting movie. Visually, it's phenomenal, but when it comes to the story, it's a pretty big mess. One of it's biggest faults is its attempt to almost completely erase the history created with the first Tron film. Because of this, everything needs to be explained and it's here where it loses track. Too much focus is on retelling and re-explaining that the story falls apart and we really only gain a little more insight into the world of Tron, and even then it's confusing. Tron: Legacy is almost a remake in disguise, similar to how Apple releases "new" versions of their iPods and iPads. It's all the same shit, just prettier. 

Oh, and it's all so f**king expensive. 

   The best part of Tron: Legacy is the special effects. The entire world of Tron is rebuilt, and fully on display. The visuals are amazing, and you almost want to visit Tron yourself. You'll want to put on your own power suit and hop on a light cycle (I want one so bad). The action sequences are filmed very well, but the interruptions of actual dialogue and story kind of ruin it. The acting isn't awful, it's just mediocre. Jeff Bridges is amazing, as always, but this time around he's not just human. A creepy-as-hell digital "young" Bridges plays a role in the film and let's just say that the CGI is done poorly, but it's almost as though they intentionally wanted to make you squirm in your seat at how awful it is. 

Think he's creepy now, you should see how he looks when he screams. You'll laugh and then cry as he eats your soul. 

   Overall, Tron: Legacy is highly enjoyable but proves to be nothing memorable. You'll fall in love with the extremely well done special effects but that's simply not enough. It's kind of like talking to a hot girl for ninety minutes only to realize she's just a shell of attractiveness with nothing good on the inside. But, hey, some people like that. Tron: Legacy is fun and could have been great. Maybe with it's inevitable sequel, when it's not so reliant on retelling the same things, a Tron film will really be something extraordinary. 

The Good:
special effects and light cycle battles/races
The Bad:
a story that's just a little too complicated
The Ugly:
a cheap, laughably creepy, video game doppelganger of The Dude himself

Overall: 6.8/10

Best Quote:
Kevin Flynn: Your old man's about to knock on the sky and listen to the sound.

P.S Daft Punk provides a pretty badass score

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Feb 24: Rampage

"A man with a thirst for revenge builds a full body armor from Kevlar and goes on a killing spree."

   Uwe Boll is possibly one of the worst directors in the history of cinema. The fact that he even has the funding to make films is absolutely baffling, as he has continued to produce shit after shit. From House of the Dead, to Alone in the Dark, to Bloodrayne and Postal, Uwe Boll has disgraced the world of film with some of the worst images and dialogue of all time. Simply put, I hate the man and was very hesitant on watching another one of his films, per request of course. Rampage is one of Boll's original films, and not one of his "gems" based off of a video game. And, I am sad to say, it was slightly enjoyable. Those words were insanely hard to type and I best continue writing before I change my mind. 

F**k you. You're still a piece of shit. 

   Rampage follows a guy, played by Brendan Fletcher, who just kind of loses it and decides that the best way to vent his frustration is to go around his small little town and murder everyone he sees. He builds a suit of armor (everything bought online of course) and wanders the streets like some poor man's Iron Man mixed with a bit of S.W.A.T. Fletcher is actually one of the best parts of the film and, even though the dialogue he's given is pretty weak, he pulls off a convincing performance. He's carnal and seemingly slow but, come the ending, he's actually pretty smart. There is; however, no motivation to his killing and absolutely no story to explain his actions. There is no point to it all, but it still holds your attention (and I hate myself for admitting that). 

It's like Grand Theft Auto but, without the seemingly infinite amount of hookers. 

   Rampage is not a great film. The subject matter is creepy and the fact that there is no reasoning behind it makes it all the more disturbing. But then you realize there is no point to the film except to glorify violence a little bit more. It's baffling why parts of it actually work, but it does. The camerawork is awful and it's almost like Boll was drunk, stumbling all over the place, filming in between hiccups and vomiting. I don't recommend the film, nor do I say avoid it, but be warned it's just a f**ked up ride down Violence Road into a quiet little town called.... ah, screw it. Skip the film, Uwe Boll, go f**k yourself. 

The Good:
Brendan Fletcher and a rather amusing scene in a bingo hall
The Bad:
Actually watching something produced, directed, and written by Uwe Boll
The Ugly:
seeThe Bad

Overall: 5.2/10

Best Quote:
Bill: "Let's just clean the world... so that maybe some of us can sustain a little life! So, that's maybe what I'll do... in the future. I'll help you out. I'll help you out... and I will cleanse... make more room for you. I will exhibit my own brand of population control... for you. That's it."

P.S Do yourself a favor and go watch The Boondock Saints or Falling Down. Each film is a million times better than Rampage. 

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Feb 23: The Descendants

"A land baron tries to re-connect with his two daughters after his wife suffers a boating accident."

   The Descendants is one of the most talked about movies of the Oscar season. Critics are calling it one of the best films of last year and deserving of all the attention and the awards. I disagree on a lot of that. The film's only saving factors, in my opinion, are the tremendously good performances of George Clooney and Shailene Woodley, and the directing by Alexander Payne. Otherwise, it's honestly quite forgettable. The script is weak and the characters really go nowhere (just like the story). Sure, you can say that Clooney and his kids learn something over the course of a tragic week, but it's not on display for us to see and enjoy. Clooney's character is underdeveloped and how seemingly smart and insightful he is makes the fact that he doesn't know what's going on with his wife and kids all the more unbelievable. He has moments of stupidity and confusion that just doesn't match up well with the rest of his actions. But, even in the chaos that is his character, Clooney shines in his acting. He really is good in everything he does and continues to get better with age.

When he's 75, he will win everything. Even the Olympics. And the Super Bowl. 

   I've always judged movies that have more than one screenwriter as the stories don't quite mesh as well as the stories written by a single person. The Descendants is a clear example of this because three minds were involved in the writing of the script. It's almost as though they just simply took turns, with little cohesion on the story and just kind of chugged it along until they had enough material for a two hour film. It's not awful, by all means, it's just messy and really not emotional enough to warrant sympathy. I mean, the story is about a man coping with life after his wife enters a coma, and the emotions we should feel are just not earned. It's almost as though the film is an interruption of their lives, and we are simply an audience viewing in. 

Oh, and it's pretty. 

   Overall, The Descendants is just okay. If Clooney was missing, the film would be nothing but a nice little trip to Hawaii. I was hoping for so much concerning this film, as I had heard only great things but was sadly disappointed. So many better films this past year deserve the recognition (Warrior, Drive, Win, Win). Clooney is exceptional but his performance alone can't make The Descendants a terrific film. It's good, just not "WOW" and, although I recommend it, I would be hesitant when watching to avoid the disappointment I feel. 

The Good:
George Clooney
The Bad:
a messy script that should be so much better than it is
The Ugly:
the promise The Descendants would be so much more than it was

Overall: 6.9/10

Best Quote:
Matt King: I don't want my daughters growing up entitled and spoiled. And I agree with my father - you give your children enough money to do something but not enough to do nothing. 

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Feb 22: The Crow

"A man brutally murdered comes back to life as an undead avenger of his and his fiancée's murder."

  Revenge films are always great. Seeing how much one man or woman would do in order to get back at the ones who hurt a loved one is always entertaining and exciting. The Crow is no different, and it brings that dish best served cold with style, melancholy, and the life of one individual. Brandon Lee, the star of the film, actually died in a stunt accident during the making of The Crow, and knowing that fact makes the entire movie all the more creepy. It's sad we lost Lee so early in his career because The Crow shows that he could have been something great and, unfortunately, we will never know if he could have been a star like his father, Bruce Lee. 

Hell, he could have played the Joker and it would have changed the game well before the amazing Heath Ledger

  As for the story, The Crow's is simple with a touch of the paranormal. After being dead and buried for a year, a crow brings Eric Craven (Lee) back to life to exact revenge on those who murdered him and his fiance. There is no explanation as to why it happens, it's just as though he won a afterlife lottery where, instead of millions of dollars, he gets super powers and a makeup kit. But, the why doesn't really matter as seeing him use his newly found powers to track down and kill everyone involved with his own murder is just so damn cool. The film doesn't worry about having a great story or a lot of depth (there isn't a lot), but the execution of the revenge and the ensuing action is more than entertaining enough. 

"I guess the $896,487 is okay, but I would have preferred heat vision and telepathy."

   Overall, The Crow is a pretty damn good film that may have not aged the greatest, but still stands on its own with its unique style and vision. Alex Proyas, the director, captures the dark setting perfectly and some of his camerawork is exceptional, including scenes filmed through the view of the first person. The script is strong and the dialogue is smart, pulling directly from the comic book that the film is based. The soundtrack is moody and fits the theme well and the small, but constant, reminder of the tragic loss of Brandon Lee makes the film all the more eerie and intriguing. 

The Good:
great acting by Brandon Lee in a terrifically dark and moody film
The Bad:
some scenes show the film's age and it doesn't necessarily take away anything from it, but can prove a little distracting
The Ugly:
losing Brandon Lee when he was just showing signs of being something more than just a martial artist

Overall: 7.6/10

Best Quote:
Top Dollar: "Ya know, my daddy used to say every man's got a devil. And you can't rest 'til you find him."

P.S If you're a fan of The Crow, check out another Alex Proyas' film, Dark City- completely underrated and overlooked. 

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