Archive for June, 2009

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A bit of introspection…

June 23, 2009

Hugh Laurie re-taught me a lesson I’d almost forgotten: that although I am smitten by a good-looking man, it is a brilliant one who really ravages my hormones.

Thank you, sir.  We need more men like you.

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DoNotWant: Monsters vs. Aliens.

June 18, 2009

Ah, Dreamworks, how ye have fallen.

I remember, way back in the day, when you used to be a respectable movie-making company.  Back in the days before you discovered CGI, remember?  Back when you were still making films like The Prince of Egypt and The Road to El Dorado.

Those movies… they were classics.  Funny (El Dorado), inspiring (Egypt), mostly-timeless incredible pieces of cinematography (both).  No, they weren’t the most “hip” things ever.  And they certainly weren’t up to Disney’s level, but not for want of quality.  You guys made some fine movies.

Then came Shrek.

The great thing about Shrek was that it was different.  It took a classic fantasy world, turned it on its head, then blended it with the modern world to create a unique, entertaining and seamlessly brilliant piece of work.  It was an instant hit, and with good reason – it was complete genius.  No movie could ever have been its equal.

Especially not the shameless rip-offs you guys have been producing ever since.

Yeah, I’m not blind to what you’ve been doing.  In your greed for cash, you’ve decided that the only solution is to reproduce everything that you thought we loved about Shrek, then wrap it in a new package and cram it down our throats.  Shark Tale? Shrek underwater.  Madagascar? Shrek on a deserted island.  Shrek 2 & 3? I think they speak for themselves.

The latest piece of crap you throw at us is Monsters vs. Aliens, a.k.a. Shrek with a Female Lead. And you’ve fallen into the exact same pitfalls.  Good story?  Check.  Star-studded cast?  Check.  Decent acting?  Strong script?  Houston, we have a problem…

Monsters vs. Aliens could have been so much better than it was.  It starts out with a good premise.  It carries it with an awesome cast.  But that is as far as it gets.  The script – which would have made a great first draft – is shaky and weak, and soon collapses under the weight of its own pop-culture references.  The characters, with the exception of Susan, feel flat and unrealistic.  Dr. Cockroach is supposedly a human scientist who mutated himself in an accident many years ago – except that he acts like he’s been a roach-man his entire life, and that life seems to have started maybe two weeks ago (during which time he learned modern dance moves and the expression “OMG”).  Link is even worse, with no obvious motivation even to live – he gets a passing reference to a fitness obsession, but this is treated like a throwaway gag.  At least Bob and Insectosaur, being inherently mindless characters, have a good reason – but none of the characters manage to feel like anything more than wall decoration.

And then there’s the acting.  Oooohhhhh, the acting. As I said before, the movie has a decent story – the tale of a young woman whose (personal) world is effectively destroyed on her wedding day, and who must learn to cope.  Unfortunately, she also lives in an alternate reality where all humans are obnoxious, overacting Pixar ripoffs – a common flaw in Dreamworks’ CGI films.  The characters speak as though they’re under a time limit – presumably because every character feels the need to supply a witty line in EVERY scene – and Susan’s voice is almost unbearably shrill.  The film, whose success seems to ride largely on its incredible cast, manages to distort every actor into a mangled, barely-recognizable caricature of themselves – to say nothing of the visual designs.

I know you guys can do better than this.  You did Sinbad – a silly but largely entertaining piece of work – and you did Kung Fu Panda, for goodness’ sake.  Admittedly, the latter falls into many of the same pitfalls as MvA, but you pulled it off.  Probably because it was set in a fantasy world where realism would have required the characters to speak Chinese.

Here, you were dealing with our world, our time period, and our people.  And, in your overzealous efforts to make the film accessable to the Blu-Ray generation, you blew it.  You took an incredible story and turned it into a shallow, largely pointless waste of an hour and a half.

Congratulations.

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iApprove: “Judgment Day”.

June 13, 2009

Now lest you think I’m going to start yammering about some upcoming Armageddon or a fearmongering apocalyptic Christian film, let me clarify.

During the 1950’s, racism was still going strong.  Black people were considered, for reasons we now know to be completely bunk, to be inferior to white people; this was taken as an acceptable cultural and biological assumption.  Suggestions to the contrary were few, far between, and desperately needed.

Enter the comic industry, producing – among other comics with similar messages – Judgment Day.

The premise of the comic is as follows: On an alien planet ruled by robots, a human has just arrived.  His job is to tour the planet, check out its technology and social norms, and determine whether the robots’ society has advanced enough to join the United Federation of Planets Galactic Republic.

Initially, he is impressed – they have made great technological strides, and have very spiffy systems in place to allow new robots to be constructed and taught in a hurry.  They do appear to be ready.

But then the astronaut discovers something off: the robots are practicing segregation.  While the orange robots live in privilege in a clean and pleasant city, the blue robots are shuffled off, made to scrape out a meager living in a dingy, unpleasant area.

The astronaut is disenheartened by this discovery, and informs his orange-robot tour guide that until they abolish this practice, they will not be allowed to join the Galactic Republic.  He offers some advice to his guide on how he could begin to change things, then blasts away in his spaceship.

Safely in his ship, blasting back to Earth, the man finally removes his helmet.  It is revealed that he is black.

Almost as soon as it was written, the story began to make a stir.  The Comics Code Authority kicked things off, telling the writer that the hero could not be black – effectively proving that it needed to be published.  And published it was, in its original form, where it received a tremendously positive response from its readers.

“Congratulations to… the artist, and… the author, for the best story ever written by E.C.  We have never read a story in a comic with so much meaning and moral…”

“…The horribly accurate picture of the human race is drawn with bold, unmistakable strokes.”

“…Never have I seen the “race problem” handled so perfectly.”

You can read the comic – and the rave reviews, printed on a final page – at http://asylums.insanejournal.com/scans_daily/54803.html

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Expelled: No Vegetables Allowed

June 8, 2009

This is terrible… Vegan School 101 has uncovered the horrible, Nazi-like truth about the United States Department of Agriculture.

The USDA recently published an exhaustive list of the people they do not discriminate against.  Unfortunately, they failed to include vegans in that list.

This brings up the obvious question, which the site is not afraid to ask:

Does the USDA employ any vegans? Perhaps … if they keep their veganism under-wraps and don’t make any waves. I wonder how much chance this vegan has at landing a job at the USDA?

“Make any waves”?  If by “making waves” you mean “bitch about meat production while at work”, then no, they wouldn’t hire you.  Your job is a place to get work done, not to tout your dietary beliefs.

Frank Language continues the silliness:

I think “don’t ask, don’t tell” is a good policy when looking for a job; most people feel threatened when you tell them you’re a vegan, don’t you notice?

Apparently this guy is delusional enough to confuse my annoyance with intimidation.  That said,  he’s right: “don’t ask, don’t tell” is a good policy when looking for a job.  When people look to hire someone, they’re not looking for information about your personal beliefs.  They only want to know whether you are qualified for the job.