It Chapter Two

 

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Bill Hader is a National Treasure. His portrayal of the grown Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier was the glue that held this film together.

Not to say that it was falling apart by any means, but the second half of the film was missing the the taut tension of the first. By the time it came time for the group to hunt Pennywise, I wanted them to just get it fucking over with already.

Overall, the casting was very, VERY good. Not only were excellent actors selected, but the actors chosen were physically and tonally similar to their young counterparts. The only one that I had a bit of disconnect with was Ben Hanscom, but that might just be because I loved John Ritter’s portrayal so much.

People LOVE to bitch about how the movies don’t measure up to the book – I’ve been guilty as well. I’m not even mad about the pluses and minuses to the story for the film adaptation, except for a single detail – Ben’s story. I loved the tiny revenges in his story and was looking forward to hearing it. I also loved the callbacks to the TV version, including my all-time favorite line, “Kiss me, fat boy.”

Speaking of details from the book, I was shocked that the film started off with the story of Adrian Mellon. Adrian’s brutal assault is more gut wrenching and hard to watch than any of Pennywise’s attacks. Wait, except for Spider-Stan – I did NOT enjoy that fucking creepfest AT ALL.

Throughout the film, one of the running gags was giving Bill Denbrough shit about not being able to write a decent ending, also a common criticism of Stephen King (I tend to agree, although it gives me a chuckle to remember how he circumvented this criticism in the Dark Tower series.) I was fully prepared for the digs to be a set-up for changing the ending here…and I wasn’t disappointed. As convoluted as the book ending was, and as ridiculous as the TV version ending was, it wasn’t hard to improve upon. I feel like the screenwriters got it right here, and gave a more philosophical and proper end to the film.

Like the first film, we also bought this one on DVD – it’s worth owning. I’m also looking forward to checking out the special features and behind-the-scenes stuff.

The Mummy (2017)

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I’ve never tried so hard to NOT watch a movie. I played games on my phone, ate cinnamon toast, took a dump…yet I still ended up watching too much of this abysmal film.

They thought they were starting a Universal Monsters extended Film Universe…but they led with the wrong monster! Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll was the only watchable part of this whole mess. If they had led with Dr. Jekyll, maybe this whole thing could’ve worked.

It wasn’t empowerment – the only reason they made the Mummy a woman was so that they could dress a model in a skimpy mummy outfit.

Oh the good old double-double cross – ugh, I’m so tired of seeing this tired old trope. Also tired of the dead comrade moving the plot along trope – see American Werewolf in London and Pet Sematery. That’s really what’s wrong with the film – it’s all cliches, nothing fresh at all. Ugh, so bad.

Carrie (2013)

Well, what’s the point of this now? The original is a classic, though not untouchable…there was a regrettable sequel in 1999 and then a mediocre TV remake on 2002. So what are they doing here?

It’s not horrible I guess. Chloë Grace Moretz was an interesting choice to play Carrie. She’s generally regarded as a good actress and I guess she is…but it seemed that most of her acting was done by flaring her nostrils. Maybe it’s her signature affectation – like Clooney’s headbobbing or the way Nicolas Cage slowly walks away from explosions.

You can’t make Julianne Moore unbeautiful. It’s just not possible. Even with no makeup and frizzy hair, playing Whackadoo Mrs. White, she’s stunning. She’s not quite as scary as Piper Laurie, but she’s pretty fucking scary. Coincidentally, Julianne Moore has history of starring in pointless remakes… Psycho anyone?

It wasn’t horrible, but this remake didn’t bring anything new to the table. Yes, it met it’s main objective, which was to be more twisted – but it wasn’t in a new way. The mother stabbed herself in the leg with a seam ripper – ooooh, she’s crazier. Carrie killed people more violently and gleefully. So? Chris was more of a bitch. Again, so what? Making a film more extreme, doesn’t necessarily make it better.

Wrath of the Titans

As a fan of Greek mythology, I found Wrath of the Titans to be even more annoying than Clash of the Titans. The writers were plagued by the same problem that annoyed me about that Hercules TV show – Demigods get 1 or 2 myths and that’s it…so how do you make multiple movies about Perseus, who really only had one story?

Hollywood’s answer to that question is to have Perseus standing in for Theseus and fighting a Minotaur. Let’s add a Chimera, just for shits and giggles. And how about having Perseus playing Odysseus and fighting a bunch of Cyclopses? (I don’t think that’s a word – is the plural of Cyclops…Cyclopi?) The one positive thing about this film is solving the Io/Andromeda problem from the first movie within the first five minutes. But that caused even more problems with the plot. Queen Andromeda is now this bad-ass warrior queen, killing a bunch of random folks. Apparently, that’s what gives Perseus a chubby, because he spends the rest of the movie making goofy eyes at her. Whatever…too little, too late.

Perseus’ actions seemed to be driven by more by a mid-life crisis, than any real desire to save the world. Several times, I expected a Danny Glover-style, “I’m too old for this shit!” He seemed vaguely interested in the welfare of his son, but even when his son’s life was in danger, he seemed to be dragging his feet. What a fucking dick.

The special effects were pretty neat, especially the M.C. Escher version of Tartarus. See, at least I had one positive thing to say about this turd.

21 Jump Street

All the little teen girls can have Zac Efron. Robert Pattison and Taylor Lautner do nothing for me either. Ryan Gosling…again, not interested. But when it comes to Channing Tatum, I do understand…there’s something about him that makes me want to rip his picture out of magazines and plaster them all over my cubicle.

It’s funny, because all I know of him before seeing him in 21 Jump Street is seeing him host SNL last season. I haven’t seen his dance movies or vacuous romantic movies. (Despite all my talk, I never did get around to seeing Magic Mike in the theater.) Channing Tatum has great comic timing…and abs.

Luckily, I wasn’t subjected to a lot of shirtless Jonah Hill. Blah, blah, blah, weight loss – he is still a goober. I might have appreciated his role more, if I had seen Superbad before 21 Jump Street, if only to have a basis of comparison. He was funny, but not nearly as funny as Channing Tatum.

Don’t get me wrong, this was a funny, funny movie. I watched it on the plane after The Avengers and I was laughing so loud that I annoyed my son and husband sitting behind me…and probably anyone else with 5 or 6 rows. (My son had his revenge during the return trip by laughing his ass off watching The Three Stooges remake while I was trying to sleep. Touche.)

Yes, there’s a Johnny Depp cameo, as well as several other original cast members. I will say no more, as the cameos are so awesome that it would spoil the movie. I will confirm that Richard Grieco does not make an appearance…because he kind of fucking sucks.

Some of you might say that the only reason that I liked this film is because someone gets their junk shot off – I’m not going to deny it, a severed penis improves ANY film – but, 21 Jump Street stands on its own merit. Even without the penile carnage, this is a film worth watching.

  

Piranha (2010)

If I had actually watched Piranha in 3D, I would have been traumatized for life.

It’s not like I’m a pussy or something…as far as movies go, I am the complete opposite of a pussy. (Wait – is the opposite of a pussy…a dick? Am I a movie dick???) Anyway,Piranha makes Saw look like Romper Room. But that’s not the traumatizing part. If you’ve seen this movie, you know EXACTLY which scene I’m talking about. If you haven’t seen it, maybe I won’t ruin it for you. Then again, maybe I will…because I AM kind of a dick.

Elisabeth Shue is the tough, single mom sheriff – such a stereotype. Ving Rhames works for her and gets to go all Dead Alive on some piranhas with a motorboat motor. (Does that phrase sound right to you? It doesn’t sound right to me, but I don’t know how else to phrase it.) Jerry O’Connell does a pretty good impression of that Girls Gone Wild douchebag. Christopher Lloyd plays a nutty old marine biologist. There were some other semi big stars…the guy from Parks & Rec, Gabby’s husband on Desperate Housewives, the cool chick from Starship Troopers…people you would immediately recognize, but have no idea what their names are. It was a much better cast than you’d expect for a cheesy horror remake.

I’m not entirely sure if this a sequel or a remake or both…does it even matter? A sequel IS coming soon – Piranha 3DD…you know, like boobies? So clever, those filmmaker types…

I can’t hold it in any longer…a piranha eats a guy’s penis…but it gives the piranha indigestion, so he burps it back at the screen…in your face – a mangled, half chewed penis…if I had seen this in 3D, I would have simultaneously cried and laughed and peed and thrown up. If this knowledge ruins the film for you in any way, I really don’t give a fuck.

 

The Karate Kid (2010)

The ‘new’ Karate Kid was so annoying that I started rooting for him to get his narrow ass kicked.

Yes, I already know I am a horrible person. I am well aware that I have tiny little rock where my soul should be…my husband actually told me so the other day. But seriously folks, how annoying was that kid? He was a whiny little bitch. He was so much of a bitch that 3/4 of the way through the film, my three year old kept asking “What’s that girl doing?” Yeah, she watched almost the whole movie thinking The Karate Kid was a girl. No matter how many times we told her that he was a boy, she was insistent, “No! That’s a girl!”

Now, I’m not going to go into a long tirade negatively comparing this remake to the original. Frankly, most of my objections would be based in nostalgia, not actual merit. The first movie was cheesy and full of stereotypes. If anything, the remake is more disturbing due to the use of younger kids. High school kids beating the shit out of each other is fairly normal, but showing the younger kids took balls. I’m wondering if that’s why the setting was shifted to China – no expectation of anti-bullying campaigns?

I do want to point out that “Wax on, wax off” is a lot catchier than “Jacket on, jacket off.”

I didn’t have a problem with Jackie Chan either. It’s not like he sold out or anything – have you seen The Tuxedo? Or The Medallion? This isn’t the worst film Chan has been in by a long shot. I do have to admit that I had trouble understanding his drunken, sad story. I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. The whole scene reminded me of Rambo’s soliloquy in First Blood…

So…I am not really sure if I liked this remake or hated it. Within the next few weeks, it’s likely that I won’t even remember having watched it or even writing this review. Ultimately, this film will be remembered as forgettable.

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Oh, Tim Burton, you’re like a tampon…when you do your job well, I love you…but when you fuck up, I hate you and I swear I’ll never trust you again….

Visually stunning as Alice in Wonderland was, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was watching twenty pounds of shit in a ten pound bag. Tim Burton can’t stop taking stories we all know and love and cramming them with so much backstory that you sit there, annoyed as hell, hardly able to enjoy the ride. I’ve complained about this beforeI’ve complained about this and not known what I was complaining aboutSometimes it doesn’t bother me at all. I just need to come to terms with the fact that the days of Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands are gone and Tim Burton is just going to keep on remaking old films and TV shows, thinking that he’s doing us a favor by adding in all the parts that he thinks were missing before. Imagine how inflamed I would be if I had even read any of Lewis Carroll’s books or even particularly liked the boring Disney version…

One more complaint…I CANNOT stand it when a film uses the “was it all a dream?” thing. Even if it is my most beloved film of all time. If I wanted that shit, I’d watch reruns of Dallas or Roseanne or Newhart.

Anne Hathaway looked like shit. Was she supposed to look like shit?

I could have done WITHOUT having to hear Avril Lavigne during the end credits. That song fucking sucks.

Okay, enough venting – I don’t have only bile and hate for Alice in Wonderland. How often do I get to see Crispin Glover and Johnny Depp in a film together? It’s been a decade and a half since Dead Man, people! Even longer since Gilbert Grape. I’ll pretty much tolerate anything with either of them in it…but BOTH at the same time? Elation!

True confessions time…I liked last year’s SyFy mini-series version (Alice) better. So, sue me – it’s heresy, blah, blah, blah….Alice’s steampunk world is what Tim Burton should have made. Either that, or gone totally Blade Runner. THAT would have gotten me excited….

The A-Team

Hollywood today is obsessed with remakes. It’s an unfortunate fact that the things I loved as a child are going to be trotted out with shiny new duds and flashy special effects, and will be effective or ineffective based entirely on when they are released and what gets thrown into the mix, and not on the qualities that made the originals popular, successful, or special. This is nothing new, Hollywood has always regenerated its signature products. There’s been three versions of A Star Is Born, and there’s another one in the pipe for 2013. John Carpenter’s The Thing was a re-imagining of the Howard Hawks version from 1952, and there’s a prequel in the works (at least its not another remake). But it seems that right now, Hollywood is delving pretty far down the well to remake as much as they possibly can. I’ve come to terms with this, with the acceptance that the quality of the remake is going to have nothing whatsoever to do with my feelings on the source. This helps me lower my expectations considerably. Not everything is going to be as good as Battlestar Galactica or Ocean’s Eleven or The Addams Family. Heck, not everything is even going to be as good as the Beverly Hillbillies movie.

I also have come to terms with the fact that, for the most part, my 10 year old view of what was great is not the same as my 38 year old view of the same thing. When I was 10 years old, I loved four things above all others…. Star Wars, G.I. Joe, The Dukes of Hazzard, and the A-team. Looking back at all of these things today, only Star Wars still holds up to that affection*. The latter two TV shows, watched today, are silly, stupid, often borderline offensive. The Dukes of Hazzard is often only redeemed by James Best and Sorrell Booke, but the A-team still is carried by the great dynamic that was there in the cast, and you can’t deny that the episodes are fun. So going into the recent remake I largely set my expectations to 1) will I like this cast and B) will I enjoy what happens on screen. To my pleasant surprise, the answer to both of those questions is “yes, very much so”. The premise of the original film is somewhat intact, though tweaked. To my knowledge, there was never an origin story on the TV show as to how the four got together, just the show opener saying the familiar “elite team framed for a crime they did not commit”. This movie seeks to put them together, show their “crime”, and put them into a modern context (i.e. Mexico drug wars, Iraq War, etc). Does any of it make a lick of sense? Heck no, but who cares. The vast majority of the movie, naturally, is devoted to elaborate, Rube-Goldbergian stunt/action sequence setups that show exactly how this team, as the Jessica Biel character states, “specializes in the ridiculous”. Bailing out of a C-130 in a parachute equipped tank and dog-fighting with Predator drones is just that, as is the huge action sequence at the end. The main thing is that the movie is fun to watch and doesn’t require too much effort from the old noggin, just like the TV show.

As far as the characters go, casting was mostly good. Liam Neeson is a much better actor really than the part demands, but he’s still great (as usual), and gets some light comedy unlike most of his last few pics. Sharlto Copley (District 9) is good as Murdoch, though he’s a bit more manic than Dwight Schultz ever was. Biel is fine but doesn’t get much to do other than smolder, glower, and look good. Major Dad (Gerald McRaney) has a small part, co-writer Brian Bloom is really good as a Blackwater style merc, and Watchmen’s Patrick Wilson continues to put in enjoyable performances, this time as a smarmy, overconfident CIA operative. Of course the film’s real focus is on Cooper and Jackson, with different results for each. Cooper is rapidly becoming a MOVIE STAR, so he’s given the best lines and the most opportunities to show off his dreamy smile and his hunky chest, and to be fair he carries it off very well. Jackson is cast in the breakout role that made Mr. T a superstar and a cultural icon, and unfortunately doesn’t quite make it. Yes it’s not fair, but you HAVE to make the comparison. He tries, but while he’s got the look, his two tones are growling and mumbling. Whatever you think of Mr. T, he had a level of charisma and real comedic timing that really did make a connection with the audience. I don’t know who should have been cast…maybe Mike Tyson has that IT that would have worked. Who knows…… anyway, other than that, you can just catch Dirk Benedict and Dwight Shultz in walk-through cameos. Mr. T was offered a bit, but he declined due to disliking the script for being too violent. Presumably George Peppard wasn’t approached as he’s been dead for 16 years.

* Some movies still hold up as timeless and I don’t feel they should ever be replicated…. Star Wars, Goonies, Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Stand By Me, Back to The Future, Cannonball Run. These movies have stood and should stand the test of time.

 

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

I didn’t have any nightmares…so disappointing. I was looking forward to waking up screaming in terror, as opposed to how I usually wake up screaming on a Sunday morning…screaming at my kids for trying to kill each other over the kitchen play set.

I’m NOT the type to get nightmares from scary movies, at least as an adult. But when I was a kid, commercials for the original Nightmare on Elm Street were my number one source of nightmares for quite a while. (Even though my dad let us watch fucked up horror movies on network TV – edited for content, but still scary as shit – my mom at least had enough sense to not let us rent the real thing until we were teenagers. In any case, I was grown before I saw the original, edited or uncut.) Freddy and Carrie kept me up for nights on end. I don’t even recall ever having a nightmare with Freddy in it, it was usually nightmares about the floors turning to goop and sinking into the floor. Or falling into the AC vents in the floor. I still shudder just thinking about nightmares I had over 25 years ago. That being said, the goopy floors ARE back for the remake, but they are not nearly as nightmare inducing.

The basic plot is the same as the original, except Freddy Krueger isn’t a child killer – he’s a child molestor. That makes him way creepier than a garden-variety murderer. The new Freddy make-up was also creepier – Jackie Earle Haley looked like a real burn victim. The original Freddy had Robert England’s very distinctive nose, so giving the new Freddy no nose was an easy was to differentiate the two. I didn’t mind those two changes, but I did mind the change to Freddy’s personality. They got rid of his sense of humor! The old Freddy would drown you in a waterbed and make a ‘wet dreams’ joke – or turn you into a cockroach. The new Freddy doesn’t have time for that shit, he just sneaks up on you and licks your ear. Scary? I guess so. Fun? Not hardly. Freddy didn’t have much of his trademark humor in the original film, but eliminating that aspect of his character entirely disappointed me. I like Freddy because he is a smart trickster, not a dumb,
shambling death machine like Jason and Michael.

I liked the new Nancy. She was vulnerable, but still tough. Trying to picture her as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo…maybe I should read the book first.

So they’ve remade all the greats. I’ve seen Chainsaw, but I have not yet seen Halloween or Friday the 13th. I’ll have to check them out soon to verify whether they’re as mediocre as I expect them to be. The problem with all these remakes – and many of the original horror movies released these days – is that they’ve amped up the gore with computer effects, but there has been less effort to improve the emotional impact of these horror films. Cabin Fever and Jeepers Creepers had a high gore factor, but still had high emotional impact…for me anyway. Then again, those films are 9-10 years old now and I’m having a hard time thinking of a more recent horror film that provides the whole package. I’m holding out hope for Human Centipede though…