Monday, March 22, 2010

Comparison to the Book: The Lightning Thief

Better than the movie.

Rick Riordan's 2005 book, The Lightning Thief, is at times uneven, fun, hip, and a ripoff of Harry Potter. What irks me the most, when compared to the movie, is that the movie version of The Lightning Thief absolutely skips the best parts and changes the film to little more than a road trip movie. Now, if you remember, I enjoyed the movie, declaring it a triumph of the human spirit. That's paraphrased from the direct quote: "easy-to-digest." Anyway.

So we miss out on the entire introduction of Kronos, the "true" villain that never gets introduced AT ALL in the movie. Uh. What? Christopher Columbus, the director of the film, and company boiled down the plot to... a kid that's pissed off at daddy? Really? And then we miss out on the entire introduction of Ares in the movie. What? These are major issues in the book.

It seems that while Columbus arguably paid too close attention to making the Harry Potter films (Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets)accurate to the source material, he didn't feel as inclined with The Lightning Thief. And that's a pity because the book is, at times, a real joy to read. The pacing is incredibly fast, the characters are fun, and the portrayal of the Greek mythological characters fantastic. It really boggles my mind as to why they cut out so much from the book. In fact, they added things to the movie that, really, didn't need to be there, such as a fight with a hydra (which happens in the second book), and Persephone and Hades are completely changed. While I loved the latter two's portrayal in the movie, it just kind of worries me that they film makers are building a series of movies on a series of books, and changing so much right from the start.

If you have any inclination to read the book, I suggest you do so--after watching the movie. Otherwise, you might get your hopes up and be disappointed. As it is, I can't help but wonder what if.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Edge of Darkness keeps you on the edge of your seat--to leave.

What Women Want.

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

Caught Edge of Darkness a couple weeks ago with Hombre Lobo. Thanks to a car accident and the subsequent rubbernecking on the highway, I missed the first fifteen minutes or so. I don’t think those vital minutes would have saved this movie, but maybe I’m wrong.

Anyway, Mel Gibson is Thomas Craven, a Boston police detective whose daughter, Emma, is killed in a drive-by shooting at Craven’s house. The initial suspicion is that someone was targeting Thomas, and his daughter was collateral damage. As the movie unfolds, we learn that Emma as working for Northmoor, a company who makes weapons for the government, so it becomes clear that Emma was the target all along because she found out too much.

Not interested in that plot? Yeah, neither was I. Gibson’s career really seems to have fallen off the map with this forgettable piece of crap. I really don’t know what else to say about it. The fact that the film is titled Edge of Darkness implies that there are themes of, well, darkness, right? That perhaps there's a conflict or confrontation of humanity and its dark side? Nope. The themes come across as merely silly political intrigue and Gibson just doesn't seem to want to show his darker inner workings that we all know exist. I mean give the guy a shot of whiskey and start talking Judaism or something. Cuz Gibson hasn't had a particularly clear "good guy" image for years now. And don't get me wrong--while I'm not clamoring for antisemitism, I am looking for the darkness that the film is supposed to express.

The twists and turns are awfully simple, and the head of Northmoor, Jack Bennett (Danny Huston) is remarkably blasé (though he has a great name). He shifts from sleazy to cowardly to maniacally stupid with ease. The only shining point is “consultant/hitman/cleaner” Jedburgh, played by Ray Winstone (of the Departed and Sexy Beast fame. He’s by turns sympathetic, brutal, cold hearted, and pretty nice. He does a remarkable job with understating a character whose very nature is anything but.

Other than that, burn this piece of crap.

Cost Breakdown:

11.25 on a ticket
5.00 on gas

16.25. Just shoot me now. Till next time, Pork Chop Express is signing off!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

2007's Dead Silence? Dead Stupid.

I'd hit it.

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

Rewound to a few years and caught the 2007 film, Dead Silence after rave reviews from several friends. Now, I’m a horror fan. I enjoy getting scared. I enjoy creepy. I like the jumps, the goosebumps, whatever. And best of all, it doesn’t take much to scare me. Maybe Dead Silence is one of those films you’ve gotta watch with others, or in the theater. I don’t know. All’s I know is that this is one bad film. And I don’t mean Michael Jackson in the 80s bad, I mean Michael Jackson in a daycare bad.

I’ll keep this short since the film’s been out for several years. In short: what the fuck? Dead Silence is an amalgam of stupid plot holes, silly goings-on, and just head-scratching developments. Ever watch a film and the people around you are screaming at the screen, wondering why the fuck the protagonist is doing certain things? Yeah that was me when I watched Dead Silence. I don’t suppose this should be a surprise, considering the film comes from the minds of the idiots that brought you the Saw franchise, another unbelievable, plot hole-ridden waste of film.

The story’s simple, the twist even stupider. Jamie receives a ventriloquist doll in the mail, his wife is brutally killed, and the investigation focuses on Jamie (naturally). Okay, I’m on board. He searches the box in which the doll arrived, finds out that it came from his hometown. Then, inexplicably, he thinks his estranged father has some information for him. He doesn’t. Well, with the help of Henry, the local undertaker, Jamie discovers that the spirit of Mary Shaw has cursed his family and is hunting each member and their spouses down and killing them, ripping out their tongues in the process. And the only way to not die is to not scream when she’s about to not kill you.

As the story progressed, I found myself wondering when the fuck it would just end. The twist ending was simple and pretty much any idiot can figure it out if they think about it for a second. Why would the film introduce such useless characters as Jamie’s father and the new, young step-mother if they weren’t going to play a larger role by the end? Duh.

Visually, Mary Shaw is a scary looking babe. (See photo above). I don’t think I’d be too pleased to have my tongue ripped out by her. But is she iconic? No. The filmmakers make stupid films that actually seem to talk down to their audience. They don’t seem to make any sense. For instance, the theater where Mary Shaw lived in life is now flooded and surrounded by a moat and abandoned. Cool. But who the fuck thought to put rowboats in there? And to leave them there? And once inside, it seems like nobody’s been there to vandalize, screw around, live, squat, or whatever. Yeah, right. A potentially haunted, creepy-ass building, and nobody’s been in there, even though it’s easily accessed with conveniently-placed rowboats. And it’s apparently so remote that none of Mary Shaw’s things have been touched since her death decades ago.

Cue eye rolls. Skip film. That is all. Till next time, Pork Chop Express is signing off.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chris Evans is... CAPTAIN AMERICA? (if he wants to be)

Someone who perhaps exemplifies America better than Chris Evans.

Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Chris Evans has been offered the role of Captain America.

HR writes:

Sources tell us the actor, who once donned superhero garb in two "Fantastic Four" movies, has been offered the role of Captain America.

Marvel has not confirmed the development and CAA, which reps the actor, declined to comment.

While I really like Chris Evans, I'm not sure I agree with this possible casting choice. One, he has an air of youthfulness that really doesn't strike me as being mature enough for such a role. Two, he was already in the train wreck that was Fantastic Four. True, he was the best part--but still. There has to be someone else out there with a more mature screen presence.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Brooklyn's Finest? Not Hardly.

Who DIDN'T think this was well deserved?

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

I caught Brooklyn’s Finest last weekend in what turned out to be a huge waste of time. Antoine Fuqua, the director of the highly overrated Denzel-a-thon piece of crap, Training Day, has come back with what is supposed to be the spiritual sequel to the aforementioned film. Now, forgive me all you Denzel lovers and Training Day fanatics, but that movie was boring as hell, and this one isn’t any better.

Fuqua takes a page from the Mexican film Amores Perros and tells multiple stories that (ahem) converge at one violent point. And it’s terrible to watch. Just awful. I’d rather watch my lungs blacken from smoking in fast forward. We have Sal (Ethan Hawke), who is a crooked cop with a heart of gold who only steals from drug dealers because he needs a down payment for a house because his residence now is so mold-infested that his wife’s and their unborn twins’ health is at risk. He’s desperate, he’s overwritten, he’s overacted, and he’s a snooze. Hawke, that black hole of talent that I watched in Daybreakers really needs to stop acting. He’s better when he’s understated, but everything and he does is just so brooding and martyred that I really need to start boycotting the fucker.

Don Cheadle’s turn as undercover cop Tango, a top lieutenant for Casanova (Wesley Snipes), a man who saved Tango’s life while locked up, is slightly more interesting, as should be expected by a Cheadle performance. He found himself torn between earning a desk job and a promotion to protecting Casanova. Who I really liked, to my surprise, was Snipes. I found myself rooting for him. He displayed a wide range of emotions and was more than relatable to the audience. Maybe tax evasion did him good.

Then there’s Eddie Dugan (Richard Gere). Eddie’s awesome. You know him. Everyone and their mother know him. He’s the fuckup that doesn’t care, and is just grinding his way through the day. He’s on the verge of retirement and hasn’t done dick to help his life or help the people. He just doesn’t care. He’s an alcoholic with suicidal ideations and frankly, I didn’t want to see him change. While he may be better built for a minor character, Brooklyn’s Finest has him taking a major role and really shines as the emotional character arc. A whole movie about him would have been more interesting.

So they all converge in some violent point and blah blah blah. Eddie makes his epiphany a little too quickly, Sal doesn’t really change at all, and Tango’s development is obvious. Overall the film drags on and on and I couldn’t wait to get the hell outta there.

Cost Breakdown:

22.00 on tickets for me and my cousin

4.00 on gas

26.00? Fuck no. Get the hell outta here with this forgettable crap. Till next time, Pork Chop Express is signing off.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Jack Burton Takes Off His Own Head After Watching ALICE IN WONDERLAND

What I should'a watched instead.

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

I’ve never seen any, and I mean any iteration of Alice in Wonderland. I don’t know how I’ve gotten so far without having somewhere, somehow stumbled upon a viewing. But it’s true. I have no idea what this is supposed to be about, other than little details of a woman screaming, “Off with her head!” or a rabbit that’s late for an appointment, or the Mad Hatter, who, to be honest, I know because he’s also a character in the Batman universe.

Also, along the lines of “never having seen,” I’ve never seen Tim Burton direct a very focused or cogent story. He usually seems to be more concerned with visuals than he does with plot and story. While films are undoubtedly a visual medium, when broken down, they’re simply stories. And Burton hasn’t ever impressed me with his storytelling abilities. He focuses so much on concepts and images that the overarching story gets lost in the shuffle. It’s as if he stares too closely at a detail and never steps back to see if the entire picture is shaping up correctly. The odds and ends look nice, but nothing connects.

Well, I will say that this has changed, for the most part, in his latest film, Alice in Wonderland. It’s a focused story that connects all its scenes and progresses as it should. Structurally, it’s fine. But what in the hell is this mishmash of bullshit? Hombre Lobo said it best when he described the visuals as Burton simply (and I’m paraphrasing here) throwing colors at the screen for the sake of making it colorful. And he’s right. Burton’s “visuals” have become formulaic. In a world that includes beautiful visuals and strong stories (Guillermo del Torro, come the fuck on down, bro), Burton has become passé. He’s not daring, nor is he particularly interesting. He doesn’t push the boundaries or is creative any longer. He’s stagnated.

So who was once a colorful, creative director, has become run-of-the-mill in the face of stronger storytelling. How strange. Anyway, so back to my point of never having seen any of the Alicesbefore. While I was watching this film, I got the distinct impression that this was some kind of sequel. It wasn’t until much later that I read that this film is supposedly a “continuation” (I can’t remember where I got that description) of the franchise, though not necessarily a sequel. Apparently there are scenes in this film that have absolutely no connection with the stories by Lewis Carroll. I have a sneaking suspicion that those of us who have seen Alice in Wonderland will probably enjoy it more than me, as Burton revisits the magical world of Underland and builds on the foundation of the stories. The movie seemed to branch out and rely on the viewers’ having seen the movie beforehand.

As for the characters, I loved Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. They light up the screen with their ineptitude and demeanor. Cheshire Cat, played by Stephen Fry, is delightfully witty and a nice break from the oddly uninteresting Johnny Depp as Mad Hatter. Depp, it seems, has taken to overacting and overplaying every one of his roles in a vain attempt to recapture his Captain Jack Sparrow magic. In fact, I couldn’t even decipher half of the things he was saying, his accents became so jumbled. Alan Rickman is always a joy, even when he is underused as he has become in the Harry Potter-verse and here as the caterpillar-cum-oracle, Absolem.

So my biggest gripe of the film is the development of Alice (Mia Wasikowska). She goes from a head-in-the-clouds Victorian bachelorette dodging the advances of a respectable Lord, to a badass with a sword and shield a little too easily. There’s no gradual shift in character, no epiphany, nothing. She just becomes, and it’s unearned and uninteresting. Alice has no chemistry with Depp’s Mad Hatter, and as such it’s kind of eye-rolling to see her go through the motions of wanting to rescue him in the middle act. I suspect Wasikowska has enough charisma and presence to carry a film, but here, her performance is almost forgetful.

Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen was more annoying than menacing or iconic. And—this is perhaps the strangest bit—Crispin Glover as the Red Queen’s general is horrible. Horrible. How in the hell can this be? He’s CRISPIN FUCKING GLOVER. He’s Marty McFly’s old man. He commanded an army of rats. My god, how the fuck do you turn Crispin Glover’s turn as a creepy general of an army of playing cards into such a blasé character?

Oh, and don’t bother with the 3-D. It’s definitely not worth it. In a post-Avatar world, it just seems trivial.

Cost Breakdown:

15.00 on a ticket
4.00 on gas

19.00 on a boring midnight show. With wasteful spending like this, how are we still in a recession? Until next time, Pork Chop Express is signing off.

Monday, March 8, 2010

This almost makes up for Titanic!

Take that, James Cameron!

You should've taken another 10 years and maybe found some of that talent you've lost!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Predictions for the Oscars?

Honestly I don't think I've even seen most of these films...

But for Best Picture: ANYTHING but Avatar!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

It Must Be Said

Hombre Lobo and I agree: this year has been such a let down in terms of film quality. How on earth can we keep our morale up in the face of the roughly $1500+ we have committed to this year's crop of films?

We did 100+ films in what, 2006? 2005? I can't remember unfortunately... But we didn't seem to have as shitty a time then as we are now. We are sorely behind and none of the movies we've seen, save a couple, were worth their weight in ticket stubs. Maybe it's harder because we are keeping better track with reviews on this here blog... I don't know but something needs to change, fast!

I have three more reviews to write, and none of them are what you'd call "glowing."

ah, well... Onward and upward, I suppose. Here's to waiting for the summer blockbuster season.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I feel like crying, I'm so happy.

Head over to Winter is Coming to see a cool promo image from the opening scene of the pilot episode!

Congrats, Mr. George R.R. Martin... well deserved!