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Monthly Archives: October 2010

DC’s animated movie series releases another impressive entry in Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. The movie delivers on a number of points I thought were missing in previous Justice League movies of late, namely the voice cast. In particular I was pleased to hear the return of the eponymous duo’s best incarnations: Kevin Conroy as Batman and Tim Daly as Superman. These two perfected their roles in Batman/Superman: The Animated Series individually, during the “Diniverse” era. The replacement of Conroy in particular constantly baffles me. Even the decidedly not-so-good Batman: Gotham Knights got that much right. Others include Michael Ironside as Darkseid, reprising the role, and a favorite of mine, Ed Asner’s spot on Granny Goodness. I could never get tired of hearing him voice her.

The plot also introduces a number of my old favorites. My never ending crush on the Giffen era Justice League loves to see characters like Mr. Miracle and Big Barda brought back into the fold (see also Batman: the Brave and the Bold for your Ted Kord Blue Beetle and Booster Gold fixes). The fantastically campy Fighting Female Furies turn up as the main plot device for the film, as Darkseid looks for a replacement to captain them after Granny’s most hopeful student proves not up to the task.

Where he turns for that is a reinvented, once again, Supergirl. Her crash to Earth, her misunderstood reception (a comic book classic trope) and her subsequent shipping off for training are all handled quite admirably. I enjoyed the film up to this point, when it introduced its sole sticking point for me: Doomsday. And not just Doomsday but dozens of Doomsdays, all some kind of clone. One of them beat Superman into a coma; now Batman can take out its clones with whatever is in his utility belt? I think this devalues the threat just a smidge. The only reason that it didn’t affect the film that much for me is that I think Doomsday is the hallmark of just how bad 1990s comics were in terms of desperate attention grabs, the Death of Superman sparking a host of “controversial” and increasingly ridiculous stories involving the fall of the DC heroes. Aquaman got his hand eaten by piranha for God’s sakes. It was a bad time to be a fan, so you can clog a toilet with Doomsdays for all I care.

90s rant aside, this leads to one of the greatest “haunted house” rides DC has to offer: a trip to Apokolips. This is portrayed as the most frightening, hopeless place in the universe and this films pulls it off quite well. This leads to another of the films best moments, too, when Batman and Darkseid face off in a test of who is simply the biggest bastard. *Spoiler Alert* This time it’s Batman. From here, though the movie should have ended, there is one plot extension that has a decent twist and salvages the double ending from derailing the movie. All in, the film was a very enjoyable entry into DC’s animated collection. The characters are all handled logically, the film keeps a sense of fun in its quick pace and it has a lot of callbacks for longtime fans. Now if only Netflix carried those shorts in their versions… 3 ½ stars

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The second podcast, and conclusion of the thrilling “She,” is now online. Give it a listen, please, O ye lovers of schlock.

 

http://schlocktreatment.com/2010/10/episode-1-pt-2-she/

It was brought to my attention tonight that I really never promoted the new project, podcast Schlock Treatment, on this blog. Myself, Marc “Dimly Aware” McDonald and Kirk “Needs No Blog but follow his band Plowing Mud Forever” Howle will weekly (with any luck) speak our piece on a particularly juicy bit of rubbish cinema. Our first episode, the inexplicable-from-any-stance “She,” will be broken up into two parts because the movie is that insane. Please forgive our poor audio (learning stages), our crass humor and try to enjoy “She,” Part One. Part Two to follow next week.

http://schlocktreatment.com/2010/10/episode-1-pt-1-she/

Fanboys is a movie with one idea and only one. Everything past this is built on a foundation of thoughtless cliché. It may be the single least ambitious film I have ever watched. It aspires to get by on fandom and offers little else. It gets its details right but that’s it; almost no original thought goes into the movie.

As I understand it, either the original script or another cut of the film deals with the strained/lost friendship of the four main characters, as well as dealing with the development of cancer in one of them more deeply. This cut only pays lip service, though, and the tinkering and adding a second director shows all too clearly.

Eric, the only one of his group of friends to move on from their slavish devotion to sci-fi, fantasy and comic books, comes back to the group once Linus develops cancer. I really wish there was more to say than that because afterward the movie falls into wacky hijinks revolving around breaking into the Skywalker ranch to watch Phantom Menace before its theatrical release, (God help the boy who’s last wish was to see that) and starting fights with Star Trek fans in the movie’s lamest bits. Seth Rogen’s “nerd makeup” was just embarrassing to see. I have yet to see the appeal in Dan Fogler’s act and Jay Baruchel can do much, much better than this. He really needs more material the caliber of Undeclared. Kristen Bell doesn’t get enough of a role to really count for much. She’s sort of the designated girl and love interest where one wasn’t really needed.

Back to the details, they either carry or sink this kind of film; they carry this one. Some good sight gags are the R2D2 on top of Fogler’s van and his custom mural on its side. The Star Trek bits fall flat for me, though the inevitable cameo was nice. Other cameos were more hamfisted, though, such as Billy Dee Williams and Carrie Fisher. Once in particular, Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes, only serves to remind that all of this was actually much funnier when it was done in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. They’re pretty much the same movie. It hits all of the clichéd road trip bits, including a shamanic drug trip. At least that part was kind of fun, but it really didn’t feel like it belonged, just that it was on the checklist. Too much of the movie feels this way, with nothing genuine driving the characters, the scenes or even their resolution. 2 stars, nothing worthy of note good or bad.

Although a few years late to the party, Canadian Harry Potter cash-in The Mystical Adventures of Billy Owens tries its damndest to get all the parts in place. It has a boy who with no clue he is actually a wizard, his friends, the girl who knows seemingly everything and the clumsy, lesser-than-Billy boy, and even a benevolent Dumbledore stand-in, as portrayed by wrestler Roddy Piper. Piper is the only real reason I bothered with this movie, as it looks like kiddy treacle, and in fact is, but if you cast the Hot Rod as a kindly old wizard I’ll have to give it a look on principle.

And, indeed, Piper is really the only enjoyable aspect of Billy Owens. No one in the film can act outside of him, though Piper appears to be trying to take the acting burden of the whole cast upon himself. His intensely hammy overacting, while possibly stoned out of his mind, against the wooden reading-their-lines performances of the rest of the cast is as jarring as it is amusing. His flailing about, trying to save his every scene from sinking, is pretty funny. He also grows a spotty, graying goatee in lieu of Dumbledore’s traditional immense white whiskers, and the movie outfits him with the goofiest hat in the community theater’s wardrobe but none of that makes “Rowdy Roddy” any more wizardly.

Outside of this you get a plot about another ancient wizard, who happens to be a teacher at Billy’s school, trying to resurrect a dragon in the town’s namesake river. This process pollutes the river, threatening to also destroy the town. The know-it-all girl relates this somehow to global warming in the worst move a schlock movie can make: adding a message. It comes up more than once, in a vain attempt to add depth to the fluff for reasons I cannot fathom. I personally hate this kind of faux important posturing. It ruins what could otherwise be entertaining rubbish and insults those who sit through it. Oh, and almost everyone in Billy’s life are secretly wizards, though they all rely on him as the “chosen one.”

I’ll try to give the movie a little praise- I found its obsession with the number 11 mildly charming. Billy turns 11 on November the 11th, part of being the mystically selected hero of the film. Other than this, I can’t say much for it. The credits bear the hallmark of ultra-low budget filmmaking, in that the star, the man playing his father and many, many special thanks all bear the same surname. Given that most of the movie takes place in Billy’s home, the elementary school or just running around aimlessly in the snow, I’m guessing they were its chief financiers as well. And that Roddy Piper owed them a favor or something, which is a nice ace to have up your sleeve. Especially when Wrestle Mania rolls around. 1 star, though it’s likely more fun if you are 11 yourself.

It’s been almost three weeks since I’ve updated but I haven’t abandoned this site or watching and yammering on about movies, TV and general nonsense. I have been busy, though, with side projects and not wanting to give away everything up front. Firstly, the book is coming along at a great pace, so that’s been first among my attentions. I plan to be done by the end of October so I can begin the next book in time for National Novel Writing Month. Yes, two books in 2010 is my hope. Secondly, I’ve been scouring Netflix for an upcoming project: Schlock Treatment  (http://schlocktreatment.com/ )! I am working on this with Marc McDonald (http://dimlyaware.com/) and Kirk Howle (http://theabomination.net/). Our first podcast has been recorded and will come out in just a couple more weeks. The learning process on the audio was unkind to us in the initial recording and needs some work, but we feel like it will be really fun to listen to. If you’re reading this and want to follow along when we release it, the movie is She, starring Sandhal Bergman and is available on Netflix. In the meantime I’ll be back with a couple of reviews shortly that fell short of my schlock search but need to be talked about just the same.