Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

I have to assume the subtitle to the new Mad Max film -- the first in thirty years! -- has to be a knock at those Fast and the Furious movies, as if director George Miller is saying, "You think you know what fury is? Well, you don't know shit." In fact, Miller might not just be sending a message to the Fast and the Furious franchise, but to Hollywood in general. "You think you know what action film making is? Well, you don't know shit." Mad Max: Fury Road is the real deal. It's totally fucking bad ass.

You know that moment in the theater where you suddenly remember you're sitting in a theater, surrounded by people, looking up a at screen? You got so totally invested in the story and the world presented that, for a brief moment, you became more a part of that world than your own. When was the last time you felt that? I can't remember, but this film brought it back. It was epic in the true sense of the term, with larger than life characters, a gorgeous, fully realized world, and a story you actually cared about and felt some investment for. Oh, and it was also full of balls to the wall action, with what looked like real vehicles and actual stunt men. I'm all for CG because it makes films look cool and ensures safer conditions for stunt men... but nothing matches the thrill of watching real people jump on top of real moving cars.

About the story I'll say very little, because there wasn't much to say. Basically it's one long chase sequence, with good guys trying to avoid being killed by bad guys. How it ties in with the earlier Mad Max films I can't say, because the only one I ever saw was Beyond Thunderdome when it came out 30 years ago. I remember liking it, but being very confused. I've heard that Fury Road has injokes and references to the earlier films, but it felt very self-contained and satisfying as a one-off film, but I sure hope George Miller makes more, because the world of film needs it.

Anyway... just go see it.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

My David Letterman Tribute

I don't have a David Letterman tribute.

That is to say, I don't really feel qualified to write one, nor did I really feel moved to... until I started to think about it and I suddenly remembered how I used to stay up late when I was a kid to watch his show. This was back when he was on NBC, right after a man named Johnny Carson. That was back when late night actually meant something, when you actually had to stay up late to be a part of it just in case something special happened... and when Dave was in his prime, well, that something special was usually just Dave being Dave... because back then Dave was funnier than just about anybody.

Here's the part where I admit I've never seen an episode of Dave's show on CBS. Of course, that can't be true and I'm sure I must have seen it a few times over the past couple decades, but if I did, I sure can't remember when or what happened. I'm not sure if I changed, Dave changed, or if it was just that the world changed. These days, late night means whenever you catch a clip on Youtube. You don't need to stay up late in case something special happens, because anything memorable will be up online the next morning. It also doesn't help that talk shows now always seem to have on people from reality shows or the latest Twilight movie. Engaging in forced conversation with lame actors is what Leno excels at, but Dave is at his best when he's having an actual conversation with somebody like Harvey Pekar or Warren Zevon or a coked up Crispin Glover.

So I guess my tribute isn't much of a tribute at all, since it could have been published whenever he left NBC, because that's when I left too. But, really, I just wanted an excuse to post that picture.

Thanos Vs. Hulk

I finally got around to finishing Thanos Vs Hulk, a four issue limited series that should probably have been called Annihilus Vs Hulk. Thanos didn't appear at all in issue three, and only for one panel in issue four, and I'm not making that up. All I can figure is that Starlin used the title as a macguffin to trick the readers from being able to predict where the story is going, but it was probably more that Thanos is kind of getting some name recognition with mainstream audiences so having his name in the title helped sales, and probably even helped the justify its very existence in the first place. But... yeah. Not much Thanos to see here.

But that's ok because it's written and drawn by Jim Starlin, who could produce a four issue series about Thanos and the Hulk reading the phone book and I'd buy it and love it. Well... I'd buy it, but maybe I wouldn't love it, since I didn't really love this, but I did enjoy it and recommend it to hardcore Starlin fans, but probably not to causal comic readers, although it does have some great art and a lot of action. It's pretty light on story and plot however. So... come to think of it... maybe I'd recommend it for casual comic readers and not for hardcore Starlin fans. Although Pip the Troll does have a major supporting role, so that's fun.

I also like how Starlin always seems to be writing within his own continuity, set aside form the rest of the Marvel Universe. Haven't read a Marvel comic in over a decade? That's fine, because I don't think Starlin has either. Part of the plot involves Pip asking a favor of Thanos, because they were both in the Infinity Watch together. Who else remembers the Infinity Watch?

So, long story short, it's a fun series, although I'm not sure why it was four issues long since really nothing much happens, and there sure as hell wasn't enough Thanos. Remember in the Infinity Gauntlet when all of Earth's heroes attacked Thanos and he and the Hulk fought for two pages? There was more action in those two pages than in this entire series.... but check it out if you haven't already, if only so Jim Starlin can keep making comics.

Monday, May 11, 2015


It's been a long time since I've written a movie review for this blog, but then again, it's been a long time since I've seen an actual movie. Sure, I saw the latest Fast and the Furious, the new second Avengers, and I'll probably see Jurassic Park, but Foxcatcher was the first time all year I've actually sat down on my couch and watched something that I actually expected to not be dumb. And it wasn't. In fact, it was pretty brilliant.

I heard of this movie when it came out, or maybe when it was nominated for a bunch of Oscars, but I didn't pay much attention because I don't really see movies that much any more and I haven't watched the Oscars in probably fifteen years, but I recently heard about it again because it was mentioned on the episode of Rick Flair's podcast where he interviewed fellow professional wrestler Kurt Angle... and that's just about the nerdiest confession I've ever made. Anyway, Flair asked Angle about the film, because I guess it was a true-crime film about the US Olympic Wrestling team back when Angle was in training for the 1995 Summer Olympics. Angle, of course, went on to win the Gold and much fame and fortune as a champion in the WWE. Anyway, Angle spoke highly of this film, of its accuracy, and the power of its story.

And that's all I knew about it when I was at the Redbox intending to rent something else, but ended up with this one instead. I'm not going to say much more about the plot than that, because I think this is the kind of film where the less you know going in, the more you'll enjoy yourself when it's over. Although "enjoy" probably isn't the right word, since this is among the most depressing films I've ever seen, told with such an awkward coldness that you start to feel claustrophobic as the story unfolds. The easiest way to describe this film's mood is to imagine Fargo if it didn't have any jokes, and it was just about a bunch of awful people. And if I've being at all unclear, that's a compliment. Watch this one on a rainy day when you don't intend to have much interaction with other human beings.

Some of those Oscar nominations I mentioned went to two of the leads, Steve Carell and Mark Rufallo, but none to Channing Tatum who was the real star of the film. Who knew Channing Tatum wasn't just a good actor, but an exemplary one? I only ever saw him in that movie where he had to save the White House from terrorists. I guess that wasn't exactly the best vehicle for this talents, but he's certainly great here, and every bit as deserving as acclaim and accolades as his co-stars. But if you really want to see an engrossing acting performance, Steve Carell was pretty phenomenal.

If I have any complaint about this film, it's that the resolution of the story itself isn't exactly satisfying... but then, after watching I looked up the actual events, and they were never truly resolved so there you go. If you already know the story of John Du Pont and Foxcather, just don't go into this film hoping for answers, so much as a retelling of the events from one character's point of view.

And that's all I have to say about Foxcatcher. Don't see it because I recommended it, but because Kurt Angle and Rick Flair did too. Whoooo!

Avengers: Age of Ultron Review