7/25/08

X-Files: I Want to Believe... I really do


Why It's a Geek Movie
For years, the exploits of Moulder and Scully have been the fevered dreams of geeks across America. The hit TV show pit logic against the paranormal in a way that Spock and Kirk never dreamed. In X-Files, the imagination is captured and the intellect is engaged in a way that only a geek can truly appreciate.

What's it About?
Moulder and Scully have long since left the FBI, but after a psychic priest aids in the case of a missing FBI agent, the agent who takes the case believes that the duo is the only one with the experience to bring the case to a close.

How to Appreciate It
This most recent X-Files incarnation is an in-depth character study of Foxx and Dana and how they cope with life after the X-Files. It's unfair to expect that anyone who doesn't know these characters will immediately be interested in what's going on, but there is much to be appreciated about the movie in itself. If you're going into this movie expecting to see aliens and weird spectacles, you will be disappointed. This isn't fast-paced, in-your-face, scrawling sci-fi epic. This is an intelligent, nuanced drama about two people getting over the difficulties of the past and learning never to give up.

Is it Worth It?
In I Want to Believe, Moulder and Scully get back to their TV drama roots. It almost makes me wonder if this would have been better suited as a Sci-Fi Channel week-long miniseries. This particular story is more about Foxx and Dana than it is about paranormal activity. In fact, the only thing paranormal going on is the psychic abilities of the priest. This isn't nessisarily a bad thing. As I mentioned, it's an intelligent and nuanced character study. There is always something to be said for a story that digs more deeply into a person's character. It's a challenge for the actors and it's a exciting discovery for the watcher. I'm just not sure it's big-screen material this time around. People will be coming to see an X-Files title expecting aliens and ghosts and monsters and special effects along the lines of Star Wars or at least Close Encounters. They just won't get it. I really liked the movie, and I Want to Believe it will do well, but general audiences will probably want to wait for the DVD.

7/17/08

The Dark Knight: Movie = Hype

Why It's a Geek Movie
I think that's pretty clear by now.

What's it About?
It's about Batman...

How to Appreciate It
Watch it.

Is it Worth It?
Some critics are comparing The Dark Knight to award-winning crime dramas such as Good Fellas, Heat and The Untouchables. They're right. Some critics are calling for Heath Ledger to win a post-mortem Oscar for his performance as the Joker. They're right. Some critics say this is the best movie over all this year. They're right. There's really not much I can add to the hype. All I can tell you is to go watch it.

::disappears mysteriously::

7/11/08

Hellboy 2: WoW in Reverse

Why It's a Geek Movie
So about halfway through the movie I'm sitting there enjoying the demon, Hellboy, with a baby in his tail, shoot at an Elemental which was unleashed by an Elf prince when I realize... I'm watching the exact opposite of Warcraft! Here is a demon as the good guy and an Elf as the bad guy. A creature that most closely resembles a Naga and a fire mage team up with a blood-red demon to fight against an evil elf who rules over a kingdom of goblins, orcs, dwarves and all manner of mystical creatures... Next round, Redhorse Comics verses Blizzard Entertainment: FIGHT!

Also it's based on a comic book... I think we've been over this.

What's it About?
As I hinted above, the elf prince is trying to destroy the human race because he believes they have broken the treaty they signed ages ago that allowed the two worlds to live in peace, the humans in the cities and the mystical creatures in the forests. The forests are thinning, you see, and cities are growing more widespread. If the humans aren't stopped, the mystical creatures will have nowhere left to live. To do this, he seeks to unleash the Golden Army and only Hellboy and the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense can stop him.

How to Appreciate It
Hellboy is a fun flight of fancy, but I'm gonna have to concede that it's not for everyone. If you want to enjoy this movie you have to be the type of person who isn't afraid to dig into a Tolkien novel and bring these characters to the 21st century just for the heck of it. Oh, and, while you're at it, reverse everyone's role so that the evil is good and the good is evil. Just for the heck of it. In other words, you have to have a very... very active imagination.

Is it Worth It?
I mentioned in my defense for Hancock that its only real issue was that it was billed a comedy when it really wasn't as funny as we thought it should be. Well, here's an example of a movie that's not billed as a comedy that's freakin hilarious. Moral of the story: when in doubt, DON'T call your movie a comedy. Domestic dispute is not something we think about happening in a monster's life, but, evidently, demons are not immune!

I'm going to have to recommend this movie to anyone who wants a fun romp through a twisted, imaginative world. If you look closely there are details that will intrigue you, but if you just want to lay back and watch, there is an experience that will entertain you. Go ahead and check out Hellboy - it's worth the admission.

7/10/08

Max Payne International Trailer

Check out the movie trailer for the big screen video game adaptation of Max Payne, based on the legendary, hard-hitting interactive video game - starring Mark Wahlberg, Chris O'Donnell, Beau Bridges, Ludacris, Mila Kunis, Donal Logue, and Amaury Nolasco.

Although I've never played the game Max Payne, I believe this movie will be Happening much better than the last Mark Wahlberg movie. Especially with General Landry and Meg Griffin in it.

And I believe being a video-game based movie would classify it as a geek movie. So, hurray! I get to review it!

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7/2/08

What's With the Hate for Hancock?

So, evidently there are a lot of negative reviews about Hancock. I've read a couple and I understand their arguments, but I have to wonder if they ever actually thought about the plot before they went ranting. I'm going to try and untangle the web that these critics are weaving, but in the process I'm going to have to let loose a boat-load of spoilers, so if you haven't seen it, don't read past this paragraph. Suffice it to say that if you really think about what's going on, you will enjoy the movie.

Much of the criticism comes from wondering why such a fail-hero would would even try to help out at all. Alright, that's fair, I guess, if you look at it superficially. But I think it's a problem that can be solved by a single solution. A solution that also solves a second problem: why is he a fail-hero in the first place? Let me see if I can work through this with you...

John Hancock has lived for thousands of years with his wife, Mary. The two of them are part of a race of beings that are the origin of god mythology. When certain pairs of them get together, their powers are reduced, but still present. It's never explicitly stated that they are able to age when they're together (since they don't age when they're apart), but for the sake of this argument, I'd like to present that they still retain their eternal life so long as they don't get shot or hacked up or blown apart. So for part of their several-thousand-year life they had the powers of a god while for the rest of the time they were mere mortals who could live an awfully long time.

Let's say that for the first thousand years they played god with the rest of their race. But then after a while this race began to die off. When they figured out why, they decided to lay low. Hancock and Mary eventually fall deeply in love with each other. They get married and live quiet lives as long-living mortals for the next few thousand years. Hancock is happy, Mary is happy, they run into bumps along the way, but they generally live a comfortable life... for thousands of years.

Then suddenly it's the 1930's and they decide to go see a movie. On the way there they are attacked by muggers, Hancock is hit in the head and amnesia ensues. In the hospital, Mary decides that it's best for the both of them if they just stay apart. She moves on with her life and marries Ray... But Hancock, for the first time in THOUSANDS of years, is alone without a clue for who he is or what he is. Somewhere deep inside, Hancock is missing the one thing in his life that has kept his eternal existence stable and secure.

It doesn't take long for people to realize he has super-powers, so he decides he's a superhero. He thinks maybe this is his destiny and maybe this is what will make him happy. It fails. But he knows nothing else. So he continues. Meanwhile, the fact that he just doesn't care one iota about his own life (because he's missing something that he had for thousands of years) leads him to be sloppy in his crime-fighting, causing collateral damage of which a hurricane would be proud. Still, he's a natural-born protector, so he keeps on protecting.

Perhaps this carelessness causes Hancock to be sporadic in his rescue attempts. We open the movie with a child having to wake Hancock out of a deep sleep in order to stop some bad-guys. This leads me to think that maybe a lot of the crimes are just missed. Either because he's sleeping, nursing a hangover or just doesn't give a frak. Maybe this is why criminals believe they have a chance at getting away, and maybe this is why they believe they can challenge the superhero when he comes around. After all, it doesn't appear that he ever has the chutzba to actually kill anyone, so why not push the envelope a little and bluff their way out? The worst bodily harm he ever intentionally does to a person in the movie is cut their hand off. Of course, that's debatable... what he did to those two prisoners should never be attempted by anyone... ever...

So, Hancock has these superpowers and everyone knows about it. But they also know he's a jerk. I wouldn't be surprised if some people called him up once or twice and asked him to help out a little. He knows he's most people's only hope, so, true to his word, when people turn against him, he doesn't care what people think. I like to think that maybe sometimes he keeps up the superhero act out of spite. But why is he such a jerk? Why does he fail so badly at being a superhero? Because he's scarred and jaded by the decision of his only true love to leave him alone after thousands of happily married years. He may not remember who she is, but deep inside he knows something is missing. And it pisses him off that he can't figure out what.

A couple of mild arguments against the movie include that it doesn't know what kind of movie it is and that it's not really all that funny. Well, the movie has a lot to cover in order for us to get an idea of who Hancock is and who Ray is, but especially of the relationship between Hancock and Mary and what they decide to reveal to us about their past. I think the crossing between so many different "movies" reveals a depth of story-telling that is sadly lacking in much of modern media. It shows the characters are more than just images on a screen - they have more dimension than a lot of real people I know.

Really, the only argument that comes close to being valid is that it's not very funny. Don't get me wrong, though, there are some humorous parts. To be fair, however, there are humorous parts in Iron Man, which is not billed as a comedy. And I think that's the problem. The producers decided to call it a comedy when really it's more of an action/adventure. If they would have just called it that, then people would go to see it for the action and be pleasantly surprised by the light humor.

So there's my two cents worth... or... twenty dollars worth. Take it or leave it. I enjoyed Hancock and I think that most of America will like it, too. Maybe it won't win any awards, but when it comes down to it, it's all about entertainment value, and I think Hancock has a lot of it.

7/1/08

Hancock: Think Outside the Comic Book


Why It's a Geek Movie
Superheroes... plain and simple. He may not have been born in a comic book, but the idea itself was. Only a geek has the capacity to imagine the abilities, flaws and awesomeness of a superhero.

What's it About?
Hancock is a superhero living in L.A. He lives out of a trailer, has a problem with alcohol, doesn't remember anything past 80 years ago (oh, yeah, he doesn't age) and rescues people more out of obligation than of charity. As a result, his heroic efforts are often disastrous, leading the city to hate him and call for his incarceration. In the mix is thrown publicist, Ray Embrey, who helps Hancock clean up his public image as a favor in return for saving him from a train, and Ray's wife, who seems to have conflicting feelings regarding the superhero.

How to Appreciate It
...I'm trying to think of someone saying "This movie was the stupidest movie ever" and following that up with a good reason. With this movie we have successfully created a completely new and original superhero free from the bonds of established canon, but still holding to the expectations of superhero convention... while at the same time completely demolishing them. If you really wanted to hate this movie you could follow the tired argument that superheroes can never exist and could never be real, thus making stories about them stupid... but, really, when was the last time we saw a good movie that could actually happen?

Is it Worth It?
Hancock gives you a completely new and original story about an unconventional superhero. Not only is the story deep and compelling, but the effects are untraceable, the cinematics are beautiful and the acting is both fitting and convincing. My personal vow to not give anything away forbids me from revealing too much about the plot, but I can tell you that the details of Hancock's past are what kept me glued to the dialog. I had to know what was going on, and when it was revealed, it not only satisfied, but left me hungry for more! Needless to say, Hancock is wide open for a sequel.

Yes, it's worth it. Even if it doesn't end up on your favorites list, you will still be entertained. Five completely arbitrary stars!