May 18 2011

No Podcast Wednesday Roundup


Big ol’ Pirates of the Caribbean show coming up next week.  Today, though, it’s roundup time!

He'll be playing the "half".

Ashton Kutcher is set to replace Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men, leading me to once again ask: HOW DID THIS MAN BECOME FAMOUS? Seriously. He was on a middling sitcom for a couple years and a string of terrible movies. At what point did he become an actual celebrity? At any rate, if Ashton can sub in for Charlie Sheen, I’d like to announce that through the use of makeup and CGI, I’ll be joining the cast of The Vampire Diaries as Paul Wesley’s vagina.

In happier news, the soundtrack to The Book of Mormon (the first Broadway musical by the South Park boys) is out and it’s pretty damn good. The influence of Avenue Q composer Robert Lopez is delightfully apparent. You can listen to the whole thing on NPR’s website for some reason. I highly recommend “Hasa Diga Eebowai.”

Geekologie has some awesome summer movie posters that have been put through the LEGO ringer. My favorite is this version of Captain America. The permanent smile and inability to bow one’s head really changes the tone of the thing:

"Hey guys! Avenge, okay?"

Finally, /Film’s got the teaser for the Napoleon Dynamite animated series which proudly boasts the entire original cast! That would be impressive if any of them had something better to do. Man, what happened to Jon Heder, huh? Remember that five seconds we thought he’d be famous? Then he did that Reese Witherspoon movie where everyone was a ghost or something… Yeah. Anyway, check out the third-rate, watered down King of the Hill rip-off below:

Am I the only one who can hear the difference between real voice actors and shit like this? I mean, in the original film, Heder’s great, but here it sounds like he’s in a booth mumbling his lines, which video evidence reveals to be true. It takes some skill and effort to put 100% of the performance into your voice.

Anywho, that’s the roundup. See you soon with a new podcast!

May 17 2011

Are You Having a Celebrity Meltdown?


Hey, kids.  This is a shameless plug, but it’s for something you’ll like so maybe you’ll indulge me.  Check out this interactive online thingamadoodle I made at my dayjob with some very funny coworkers of mine. I guarantee you’ll laugh at least once.*




*Not a guarantee.

May 16 2011

Awesome Book to Be Hopefully Awesome Movie


One of Logan and my favorite books is Max Barry’s Syrup, a darkish comedy about the world of advertising. It’s gotten close to becoming a movie several times in the past, but according to Barry, this time’s for real. Quoth his blog:

I’ll be honest: I never expected this to get made. In fact, I’m still skeptical. I’m that cynical. […] This was supposed to be announced tomorrow, but word leaked out early and Variety reported it, so: they’re making Syrup. It’s what kindly calls a “smaller production,” starring Shiloh Fernandez and Amber Heard. It’s based on a script I wrote, is to be directed by Aram Rappaport, and will shoot in June in New York City. This would be (will be, will be) the first of my novels to be filmed.

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this. If you haven’t read the book, now’s the time to catch up before the Hollywood version comes out. A large part of the plot involves a soda called “Fukk”, if that gets you interested. It’s been a few years since my last re-read, so I think I’ll do the same.

May 13 2011

Raise your hand if you don’t know who Superman is


Quick: describe Superman’s origin story as briefly as you can.  Where he came from and what his deal is.

Did you do it?  Great.  If your description included the words “alien”, “Krypton”, or “American way”, I can almost guarantee you got the basic gist of it correct.  If you said “I don’t know” then congratulations, you don’t exist.

I mean, am I wrong?  Is there anyone who doesn’t know the very basics? If so, here they are:

They even manage to cover the fake physics of super strength, complete with some Mark Trail style nature drawings, all in one page.  But if that’s not condensed enough for you, try this:


That’s Superman tossing off his entire origin in a thought bubble. Not much more to it than that. But if you really hate reading…

There.  They took out all the pesky sentences for you.  Four iconic panels and you’re done. Everything you need to know.  Actually, wait a sec.  I’ll do ya one better:

One panel, apparently written by a caveman (ONE AND SAME!) and you’re ready to enjoy yourself some Superman stories.

My point is this:  I challenge you to find any potential moviegoer who was unaware of the above premise, and yet the new Superman reboot, reportedly called Man of Steel, will be yet ANOTHER origin story.

I’ve mentioned the origin problem of superhero movies on the podcast before, and written about it in one of my first articles for the site, my review of The Spirit.  The issue is that these films feel the need to give you a detailed walkthrough of the hero’s early years, partially because it establishes their character motivation, and partially because the fact that Daredevil was blinded as a child, or that Plastic Man used to hate broccoli until he tried it in olive oil may be vital to the plot.  That’s all well and good, and I love a well-told origin.  The problem comes in when the origin overtakes a huge chunk of the movie, eating up precious time that could be spent on the actual story.

Now, I’m not talking about a film like Batman Begins which is really and truly ABOUT the origin.  In that case, the origin itself is the entire story.  I’m talking about movies that could have been tighter and more focused if they weren’t saddled with all that setup up front.

"I may be invulnerable to bullets. But not to sadness. You see, it all started when..."

And even if you yourself are from another planet and have somehow avoided hearing Superman’s backstory.  Guess what?  It doesn’t matter that much.  You can still enjoy a Superman movie.

You don’t need to spend thirty minutes watching Superman grow up on a farm just to establish his homespun American ideals.  Maybe instead, Superman is flying over Kansas and offers to help the locals with some superspeed harvesting, after which he reminisces for a second about his own cornfed upbringing. You don’t need to actually see Krypton explode to get across that he feels alone on Earth.  Maybe he’s invited over to Lois’s parents’ house for dinner and is reminded both of his own adopted parents and the biological ones he never knew.  Two scenes and a few lines of artful dialog. Less than ten minutes of screen time where you’re also moving other plot elements forward instead of wasting time hashing out stuff we already know.

I just realized that I don’t even know if Lois’s parents are still alive in the comics.  And I don’t really care.  It’s nice trivia when you’ve got the time for it, but it’s not that relevant to understanding and enjoying the character.

So please, Man of Steel, I know Chris Nolan and David Goyer are involved, so I don’t want to tell you what to do.  But please.  Please can you spare us another origin story?

May 11 2011

Critical End! (The Podcast) #92: Avengers in Babysitting


REVIEWED: Thor. What’s YOUR definition of goofy? PLUS: ReBoot, Power Rangers continuity, and the rules for multi-part films.

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May 9 2011

Dear, writers of How I Met Your Mother


How in the hell do you not have Ted give the lion’s head to Zoe? I thought for sure that’s where that was going. You could have had this nice thing where even though things fell apart, he left this memento for her so she could remember both the building and their relationship. Instead you blow it on a site gag with Barney.

Come on! Your show is great, but don’t make me do your jobs for you.

Sincerely, Ryan.

May 9 2011

What a wonderful time to be a nerd


I was at the movie theater this weekend and saw this…

It’s an ad for X-Men: First Class and it isn’t new.  It’s been standing there for more than a month, but its importance only struck me recently.

Blade was probably the true beginning of the modern resurgence of superhero movies, but for me, the most important was X-Men in 2000.  As a longtime comic fan, it seemed crazy to believe that Hollywood was not only capable of taking superheroes seriously (Singer’s movie was about social equality as much as guys who can shoot lasers from their eyes), but that they could manage to turn a profit in the process.  In other words, the people who scoffed at spandex and capes went to see the movie too.  The casting of Patrick Stewart, literally everyone’s first choice for Professor X, put the icing on the cake, proving that those involved were fans themselves.

After X-Men, came another Blade, Spider-Man (finally!), Daredevil, an even better X-Men, Hulk, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Hellboy, Punisher, an even better Spider-Man, Catwoman, yet another Blade, Elektra, Fantastic Four, and the most well regarded of the lot, Batman Begins.  This was all in the first five years of what was then still being called a fad, even by me.

Certainly these are not all excellent films.  I had forgotten Elektra even came out. But to a lot of fans it was important that they simply existed and be just good enough to prevent the critics from saying “Well, that’s it for superhero movies!  Trend’s over!  Pack it up, Hollywood, this cash cow is dry.”  Because then the party would end and we’d all go back to the universe we came from, where superheroes are silly.  Neither profitable nor respectable enough for  theaters.

We endured Singer’s yawnable Superman reboot, as well as the film it spawned through neglect, the bitterly disappointing third entry in the X-Men trilogy. We cringed nervously at Ghost Rider and hoped Nicolas Cage would shoulder most of the blame.  We had high hopes for the Fantastic Four sequel.  It looked better than the first one.  And it was.  Though not by much.

We pretended Spider-Man 3 was “fun”.  Then we saw Iron Man and remembered what fun actually meant. There was another Incredible Hulk for some reason, but that was okay because there was another Batman too.  A dark and moody (as well as long and preachy) tale of the Dark Knight we knew from the comics.  Re-imagined for the screen, but only by degrees.  The tone, the themes, and most importantly the characters that made Batman great were present.  And right.  And the rest of the world liked it too.

There were others, of course.  Niche ones like Watchmen and Kick-Ass.  Flat-out imitators like Sky High and Zoom.  Blatant cash grabs like My Super Ex-Girlfriend and Superhero Movie.  But the point is this: It’s been over a decade since X-Men was released.  And amazingly, we are still here.

I just paid good money to see a movie about Thor (hear my thoughts on this Wednesday’s podcast!)  Not the regular old Norse god, I mean Marvel Comics’ Thor. What’s more, Sam Jackson shows up as Nick Fury, and there’s a three-line cameo by an Academy Award Nominee playing Hawkeye.  GODDAMN HAWKEYE.  The high school version of me never thought he would see anyone play Hawkeye outside of a convention.

And more are coming, folks!  We’re going to see a Captain America movie that contains the line “A weak man knows the value of strength.”  YES.  They get the character.  There’s a Green Lantern film that not only acknowledges the cinematically expensive proposition that there are thousands of other alien Green Lanterns, but actually makes them a central part of the plot.  The guy who did Firefly is directing an Avengers movie that will actually attempt to tie together Marvel’s cross-movie continuity in the same way the comics do.  These are pipe dreams made manifest.

That ad for the new X-Men prequel (which I hope is as weighty and thoughtful as its most recent trailer makes it out to be) made me realize that for ten years I’ve been holding my breath.  Waiting for the other shoe to drop and the superhero fad to end.  I don’t think that’s going to happen.  I think, at least for now, the dream has come true.  Superhero films are just another sub-genre.  An offshoot of fantasy, sci-fi, whatever you want to call it.  There will be good movies.  There will definitely be bad ones.  But there will be movies.  For the first time, we live in a world where it’s possible for the heroes we love on the page to come to life on the screen.

If this is just one big What If… story, nobody tell me.

May 4 2011

Critical Hit! | Bonus Blather


No proper show this week, but here’s a quick fix of us blathering on about the Exorcist films, Thor, and Paul Rudd.

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May 2 2011

Wherever they need us, our destinies lead us…


No, that headline isn’t a reference to any dead terrorists. The Three Amigos ride again thanks to a photo shoot and interview session by Empire Magazine. Badass Digest has a short behind-the-scenes video of the shoot which reveals that John Landis was on hand as well. Can’t wait to read the full article!

Apr 29 2011

Schwarzenegger and Fast Five Director attached to Next Terminator


Makeup tests are underway.

We all knew it was inevitable, but it looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger will be returning to the Terminator franchise just as soon as he can get somebody to pay for it.  Apparently, Justin Lin of Fast Five fame is going to direct.

While I’m glad to see Arnold return to movies, I’m only now realizing that I don’t particularly want him returning to the Terminator.  I suspect that another Arnold Terminator would be the same old thing we’ve seen three times before, as opposed to the fairly inventive take that Terminator Salvation showed us when forced to do (mostly) without his involvement.

Sure, I’ll still see it, but I’d take another True Lies or even Predator before another Terminator, unless they find a new and interesting take on the concept.

[via /Film]

Apr 28 2011

Critical End! (The Podcast) #91: Tweetered Off


REVIEWED: The King’s Speech. It’s still relevant, okay. PLUS: Bill & Ted & Twitter & Such.

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Apr 27 2011

Late podcast even later


This has nothing to do with anything, except that I found it while searching for "late".

Sorry, folks. Our already late review of The King’s Speech will be a little bit later. But look for it tomorrow!


Apr 20 2011

Critical End! (The Podcast) #90: The voice of a sexy generation


REVIEWED: Scream 4. That’s…kind of it. We actually stay on topic the whole show!

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Apr 18 2011

Critical End! (The Podcast) #89: Matthew Lillard’s a Goddamn Maniac


REVIEWED: Scream 1, Scream 2, Scream 3. What’s our favorite scary movie? Not Scary Movie, that’s for damned sure. PLUS: Wild speculation on Scream 4.

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Apr 15 2011

Star Trek: TNG: XXX


As a casual Star Trek fan, I started watching this SFW trailer for the porn parody out of mild interest. I did not expect to actually be sucked in by the PLOT of a porn. And if you ignore the goofy facial hair and budget Klingon makeup, the production values are actually crazy high! Like, higher than some of the early episodes of the show it’s mimicking. The team was clearly full of Trekkies who put a lot of (hot, steamy) love into their work.

And you’re telling me they get naked too? I AM SO THERE.

[via Wesley Crusher himself, Wil Wheaton]