Archive for: December, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon

How to Train Your Dragon is about a bunch of vikings who kill dragons. And by vikings, I mean they have pointy hats and viking ships but talk in the contemporary vernacular of our modern age. Also, they don’t lay siege to France with hellfire and steel. Or was it France that the vikings came out of when it was called Gaul? I bet that was a fearsome time to be taking a trip to France. You show up in your time machine looking for baguettes and next thing you know you’re wearing fur boots and wielding a broadsword while a lady in a bikini wraps her slender arms around your legs and to hell with the baguettes, time-travel viking, please!

A weak little viking kid can’t fight or swing a sword but he injures a dragon and then he and the dragon make friends and he makes a custom saddle for it. Next thing you know, he’s flying around with his own pet dragon. But the rest of the vikings don’t like dragons, so it’s a secret dragon. That would be like if I got a pug and nobody in Atlanta liked pugs so it had to be a secret pug and I kept it in my purse and fed it treats. Also, I guess in this world I have a fabulous purse that I keep pugs in. And glamorous lipstick. I’m beautiful!

You know, come to think of it, maybe Gaul was just regular barbarians and vikings came from Greenland. This movie did nothing to improve my knowledge of world history. I like the idea of a sooty, fiery and barbaric Gaul. People waving swords and cooking boars over fires and living in tents and wearing skulls. Just like prom of my senior year.

How to Train Your Dragon is about hiding dragons, learning to accept dragons and teaming up with dragons to kill even bigger dragons. It’s the Do the Right Thing of dragon movies.  I bet if King Arthur saw this movie he’d feel really embarrassed about wearing his dragon scale armor to the theater. It was a gift from Merlin! Then some mean dragons would start a fight with him in the parking lot and ride off in their 1998 Honda Accord with a spoiler, neon undercar light kit and 24 inch rims. Later that night, King Arthur and Merlin would try to holler at some girls in the drive-thru at Krystal’s. What’s up girl, want to try to pull the sword from the stone?

Apparently Craig Ferguson and David Tennant contributed voice work to How to Train Your Dragon. David Tennant of course having played Doctor Who and Craig Ferguson being a huge Doctor Who fan, they should have put on an impromptu Doctor Who radio play, what with the microphones and recording equipment sitting around. That is something I guess I might listen to if it was a podcast or something. Speaking of podcasts, please go and subscribe to the podcast I host with my friend Sam every week, because I’m done with this review and our voices on the podcast are like a thousand beautiful angels setting off a thousand Sonic Screwdrivers at the same time. Which sounds nice, I guess? Also, How to Train Your Dragon was really good, and apparently is in 3D, if the movie posters are to be believed. I watched it in two dimensions off a DVD like a chump with no depth perception.

Scrooged

If there was a kid in the year 1988 more excited than me about Scrooged, I’d like to meet the little son of a bitch. To shake his hand and wish him a merry Christmas, of course. I was so excited about my hero Bill Murray being in a movie about ghosts again, I bought the cassingle of Al Green and Annie Lennox’s version of the song “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”. Blast that on your oversized stereo in the common area at break and you’re the coolest kid in school. Rude Dog ain’t got nothing on me. Mostly because Rude Dog is dead in the ground, rest in peace pastel colored cartoon dog, your insolence will be missed.

So, Bill Murray and ghosts. A can’t miss equation, as far as I was (and am) concerned. In fact, if you put Bill Murray with any creature from the song Monster Mash- wolfman, Frankenstein, ghost, drag queen, you’ll have a movie classic for AMC to run when it isn’t slam dunking Breaking Bad or Mad Men. Not to mention there were going to be lessons about Christmas. I was so into Christmas that when a couple of hillbillies set up a bunch of lights and animatronic Santas one town over and dubbed it the Tour of Lights, I treated it with all the dignity of a visit to the United Nations. I was fully expecting at the end to be knighted with a sword wrapped in colored lights. I dub thee…Sir Navidad.

As far as I’m concerned, Charles Dickens should be stamping his feet up in British orphan heaven that he wasn’t born in the 60’s so he could have written A Christmas Carol for Bill Murray instead of a bunch of actors in 1843 in their pantaloons and waxy candles or whatever. Even Scrooge McDuck would take second place to Bill Murray’s Scrooge in the one hundredth annual Scrooge-Off. Contests include asking little urchins what day it is, counting gold coins instead of love and God blessing us every one.

Also, Indiana Jones’s girlfriend from Raiders of the Lost Ark is all freckly and loveable in this thing. Plus the Solid Gold Dancers and Robert Goulet. I actually cried a little bit at the end. Not because of the Solid Gold Dancers. I never cry at aerobic elaborate dancing. I mean, never say never, but I held it together watching Jennifer Lopez as a Fly Girl on In Living Color, so the bar is set pretty high.

Yes. Christmas. This movie is super Christmasy and funny and sentimental and has a wide beautiful heart like a hippo. Hippos have wide hearts to match the rest of their bodies, right? If you don’t like Scrooged, you have a heart of stone, like a statue of a hippo. Happy Holidays, everybody!

How It’s Going So Far In Fallout: New Vegas

This game is half wasteland apocalypse and half Frank Sinatra’s Las Vegas, so there’s a lot of dust and neon signs. And ruined stuff. And rubble. The last time I saw this much rubble was on Fred Flintstone’s Facebook page. Boarded up houses, empty bottles everywhere. In fact, I’ve never seen so many empty bottles in my life. You’d think after the apocalypse there’d be less intact glass bottles lying around.

Everybody I meet is dirty, except for the people in stylish Vegas suits, which are also dirty. I’m assuming everyone in the game is snaggletoothed, but video games rarely let you look in people’s mouths. Which is a shame, really. I can’t wait for the next generation of consoles to come out so I can really get in there and see the fillings on the teeth of the Super Mario Brothers in HD.

Everybody has a life-threatening errand for me to do seconds after meeting me. “Hey there stranger, could you go pick up a golden bottle cap for me? It’s hidden underneath some giant radioactive scorpions. You’ll literally spend forty minutes checking your map, wandering around and then dying of scorpion stings trying to find it.”

“Salutations, pal- I know I just made your acquaintance, but would you mind taking care of my personal business for me with a bunch of minor tasks? I’d do it myself, but I have to stay inside this building for the rest of my life for some reason.”

Also, my guns don’t seem to work very well against anything. I switched to punching people’s heads off with a pair of spiked brass knuckles. If someone has a laser gun, I just walk toward them letting the lasers hit me, then I punch-decapitate them. Sometimes they get me first and I evaporate and check Twitter on my phone. You’d think a man who’d walk into lasers just to punch you hard enough to separate your head from your neck would be harder to kill, but I die all the time.

Actually, I’m a woman. I got a girlish side bob haircut so I look like a waitress from the 1940’s, but grimier. More eggs, President Roosevelt? I guess she’s a waitress in the White House. Also, I have a tendency to take the hats off of everyone I kill. And a tendency to kill everyone in a hat. So I got a lot of hats. I thought my lady character would look sexy in a fedora, but you have to be sexy before you wear a hat and then the hat makes you sexier, I’ve learned. You can’t transform an ugly duckling into a swan with a fedora. Wish I could tell that to myself in high school before I posed for the yearbook photo.

So I’m running around in different stylish hats, punching heads off of passerby and taking their hats like a game of fedora whack-a-mole. Then an Elvis impersonator gives me his cyborg dog. My driving instructor in high school was a professional Elvis impersonator. He had a silky, velveteen Elvis voice. If you closed your eyes, it was like being taught to drive by the King himself. But then you had to open your eyes real quick because you were driving a car.

Anyway, I’m finally starting to learn how to manipulate the game’s menus enough to not die a hot dusty death every time I walk out of a sexbot brothel or a casino. This whole game feels like a spiritual successor to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, with all the surreal landscapes and weird sketchy people and Vegas-ness. If I had to do it all over again, I would have made my character look like Hunter S. Thompson.

The Bill Murray Where The Buffalo Roam Hunter S. Thompson, though.  Sorry, Johnny Depp. If they ever make a Benny & Joon game, you’ll be my first pick, I promise. Press X to make a bread roll look like dancing feet! Now press Y to make “Charlie Chaplin eyes” at Mary Stuart Masterson! Now push left on the D-pad to accept a Golden Globe. DO A BARREL ROLL!

Minority Report

It’s the year 2054, iPhones are probably great, and a businessman is about to kill his wife for cheating on him. His wife is pretty bad at cheating, though. Her lover or baby daddy or whatever just lurks across the street in the park like a weirdo staring at the house. Hey Casanova, this isn’t the line at Zaxby’s and that house isn’t the fryer where chicken comes out. Maybe play it cool for a second.

Too bad for the lil’ future murderer— Tom Cruise is a pre-crime cop and has three psychics sleeping in a jacuzzi, so they already know what he’s planning to do. Tom Cruise is like HEY DON’T DO THAT and arrests the guy for even thinking about killing his bumbling wife and her doofus lover.

The psychics are called “precogs”. The precogs are named after mystery writers Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Dashiell Hammett. I guess Jessica Fletcher from Murder, She Wrote didn’t make the cut. That lady solved like a million murders and she was old as hell. They should have made an artificial intelligence of Jessica Fletcher and let her solve all the crime. Murder, she computed. You’ve just been arrested by FLETCHERBOT.

When the precogs see a murder about to happen, a fancy wooden ball rolls down a set of glass tubes, the name of the victim is engraved on the wooden ball, then the ball is painted. The murderer’s name also gets a ball. I guess their first two ideas to squash the victim’s name into a penny and have a custom Hummel figurine created in the murderer’s likeness didn’t work out.

When a murderer’s ball comes down with Tom Cruise’s name on it, he’s like, “No way am I going to murder somebody in the future, I don’t care what an elegant painted wooden ball says!” I know, right? If I had a nickel for every time a handcrafted sphere made of the finest oak falsely accused me of homicide, I’d be able to buy my own FLETCHERBOT.

Tom Cruise goes on the run and has to break out of a car that drives itself on a weird sideways highway full of other robot cars that drive themselves. He kicks his way out of the Death Cab for Cruise-y and kidnaps Agatha. They go to the scene of the crime where he is supposed to kill some guy name Leo Crow. Not that he needs a backstory, but I wonder if Leo Crow is Sheryl Crow’s great-great grandson.

Crow wants Tom Cruise to kill him so his family gets money. So he tries to be Tom Cruise’s “Favorite Mistake”. Cruise doesn’t want to shoot him or bring him “Anything But Down”, but he thinks “A Change Would Do You Good”. He’s barely “Strong Enough” not to pull the trigger because he thinks Crow killed his son and in his mind, “All I Wanna Do” is murder him for revenge. Then I ran out of Sheryl Crow song titles.

Minority Report is based on a Philip K. Dick short story. As I understand it, someone once made a Philip K. Dick robotic head that got stolen. Also, according to the movie Waking Life, Philip K. Dick wrote another story that sort of weirdly came true and freaked him out. When I think of Philip K. Dick, I think of parallel dimensions, cigarette smoke and my high school theater teacher who wore impossibly short Daisy Dukes and looked like Philip K. Dick.

Just like with Blade Runner or Total Recall or The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, if you’re watching a movie based on a Philip K. Dick story you’re probably going to get an excellent science fiction experience. However, if you’re watching a theater director who looks like Philip K. Dick, you’re just going to see way too much pale middle-aged man leg.

Oh, also- there are really incredible touch-screen computers in the movie. But for some reason, instead of wireless data transfer or a Dropbox account, they move all pictures and data between computers on little glass panels that display whatever it is that’s on the disc. Hope you weren’t trying to move your porn collection.

Between the carved wood and the glass paned USB drives, it’s like someone saw a antique Italian chest of drawers and decided to make all the world’s computers like it. Or maybe steampunk finally took over. I thought I saw Tom Cruise wearing a little top hat with unnecessary gears glued to it.

Good night, everybody! Minority report!

Field of Dreams

Kevin Costner is a farmer who likes baseball and used to be a hippie. He even says so in the beginning of the movie. “I used to be a hippie, baseball is great and I’m a farmer.” Well, I’m paraphrasing. Anyway, this whole movie is about loving baseball and being an ex-hippie. If a character isn’t talking about how awesome baseball is, then they’re talking about the sixties. Or they’re dead. Well, dead and playing baseball. There’s all kinds of ghost baseball happening in this movie. Until Pac-man comes out and eats all the ghosts. Waka waka waka. Wait, is that Pac-man or Fozzy Bear?

I used to have a subscription to Muppet Magazine when I was a kid. And Masters of the Universe magazine. What a serious little man I was, with my little kid magazine subscriptions. I do like that the demand for Muppet related periodicals was high enough to support a magazine staff. I wonder if the editor-in-chief of Muppet Magazine got stressed about layouts and stuff. Cigarette burning in an ashtray shaped like Big Bird, photo proofs of the upcoming Miss Piggy centerfold scattered over his desk marked up in red ink. “I needed that Kermit think piece yesterday afternoon and where the hell is my Rowlf the Dog interview with Michael J. Fox?!”

Kevin Costner hears a voice in his head while he’s out doing farm stuff in the corn. The voice says, “Corn is great. You love corn, right? Cooooooooorn!” Then a dude in a corn suit starts breakdancing and popping and locking right in front of Kevin Costner and popcorn starts flying off his body. “You know you like this,” says the man in the corn suit, maintaining eye contact with Kevin Costner. Kevin Costner looks down at his shoes, which are now covered in kernels of corn. In the distance, a crow caws and beatboxes.

Actually, the voice says, “If you build it, he will come.” So Kevin Costner says to his wife, “we gotta get rid of all this stupid money-making corn, it’s time to build a baseball field because of the voice in my head.” And she goes, “Sure, buddy- but only because of the sixties. And baseball.”

Wouldn’t you know it, that baseball field is like a damn dead-baseball-player magnet. If you were the Ghostbusters and you were trying to trap a bunch of dead-baseball-player ghosts, I’d say try building a field of dreams in some good old fashioned American corn. You can’t throw a baseball in a field of dreams without hitting a baseball ghost and the rest of the baseball ghosts’ equipment. Also, for a field of dreams, there is very little sleeping and dreaming going on. It’s more like a field of corpse sports.

But that corn voice is just getting started. “Hey, why don’t you go get James Earl Jones out of his house to come check out this baseball field you built? He wrote some nice stuff about baseball one time.” Oh, right- and Kevin Costner’s wife calls a lady a Nazi cow because she wants to ban James Earl Jones’s books that he wrote in the sixties. The sixties! She was right to call that woman a Nazi cow, though. Banning books is a shitty thing to do and I’m glad this movie took five minutes to really take it down a peg or two. Go to hell, book burners!

So Kevin Costner goes and gets James Earl Jones and they eat hot dogs and drink beer and the voice says put down that damn hot dog and go pick up this old man named Doc Graham. But Graham is dead. So Kevin Costner goes back in time to talk to him. That’s right. This miraculous miracle parade of a movie has so many miracles in it that time travel is the least noteworthy thing going on it, right below corn. I don’t even think Kevin Costner stops to tell his wife, “Hey honey- I know we have a bunch of dead baseball players in our front yard, but last night I broke the laws of space-time to chit-chat about baseball with a kindly old man.”

Somehow they pick up the younger version of Doc Graham hitchhiking on the way back to the farm and he doesn’t know he’s in the future or not alive or an angel or whatever. Everybody gets back to the baseball field and holy crap I forgot to mention the whole main plot of the movie with Shoeless Joe Jackson, who stares at everyone with his piercing Ray Liotta eyes. I guess Shoeless Joe doesn’t do much other than play ball. But he’s like, really intense about it. There’s angel horns and trumpets on the soundtrack every time he kicks some dust off his cleats.

So James Earl Jones says people will come to see the space-time-vortex-Stargate to heaven that Kevin Costner has on his land, and that they’ll pay twenty bucks for the privilege!  If I had a portal to the land of the dead at my house, I wouldn’t want a bunch of people showing up to tromp around in my house, gawking at everything and peeing in the sink. You know what kind of people would show up if they heard you were charging admission to see angels, right? The kind of people who’d be okay with treating an audience with the divine like a trip to Six Flags.

I’d like to conclude by saying that while I enjoyed it, Field of Dreams is one of the craziest movies I’ve seen in a long time. Nothing was explained, nothing made sense, time and space were distorted and the sport of baseball was congratulated for existing at all. Kind of like eating mushrooms at Turner Field.

The End!