Friday, August 27, 2010

Breasts, Blood and Ball-Biting: The Piranha 3D Review

     I've been to a few films in IMAX 3D (Avatar and the last Harry Potter come to mind). When I first heard about Piranha 3D, I figured that it wouldn't come to IMAX and I'd have to see it at the second best option, Clark's Pond. As I walked into the theater through the welcome rain, I was handed a relic from the past: the red and green 3D glasses I remember from my childhood. Safe to say I was quite confused; whenever I went to an IMAX 3D film, the glasses were always clear, like a cheap pair of plastic sunglasses. As we found our way to our seats, I was mainly concerned about the color and "pop" that you would find at an IMAX 3D theater. Luckily, I was proven wrong: once the words "Please Put on your 3D Glasses" covered the screen, Piranha 3D and the preluding movie trailers became an entertaining 3D escape that transported me into a world of laughably horrible acting, multidimensional bouncing breasts, severed penises and thousands of gallons of blood.
     I went to Cancun on spring break in college. The partying scenes in this movie were what I thought it would be like. Maybe we didn't hit the correct hotspots, but my time was spent with a life-threatening sunburn, shitty food and a lot of tits that were smothered in clothing. It's a hell of a lot different in this film. Breasts are exposed just for the hell of it, and they're even played for laughs at some points, such as the girl windsurfer who lands and skids across the water (the camera is an underwater view, so all you see are her funbags flying across the top of the screen). There's even a nude underwater lesbian sex scene that was intentionally filmed with its 3D value in mind. That's not to say there isn't something for the ladies: shirtless men are everywhere and even a penis that floats right in front of your face at one point. Don't get too excited: it's severed, bloody, and a piranha burps it up.
          3D has exploded over the past year. That tends to happen when the most successful movie in the history of cinema was filmed and intended to view in 3D. It's fairly safe to say that it's already somewhat descended in terms of monetary and technical value. A lot of films are post-converted, which means that they were not filmed in 3D, just changed during the editing process. The general consensus on this method is that it sucks. This year's Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender suffered in every way from this "post-converting". However, Piranha 3D  was filmed with 3D specifically in mind, and it shows. Many images pop out of the screen, and even that color didn't seem dull like in other 3D experiences that I have witnessed.
     A film with this intended audience needs to have tons and tons of blood and gore. It also needs original deaths that entertain (and sometimes disgust). This movie has plenty of both: bodies are dispatched in new and usually funny ways. A couple of my favorites involve the slicing of a topless woman's torso and watching it slowly fall off the lower body and a girls long hair getting caught in an outboard motor prop and watching her face and head get scalped. Blood spurts everywhere as young coeds get mangled one by one. At one point, that big motherfucker Ving Rhames rips an outboard off of a small boat and uses it as a weapon against the fish. A highlight of the film, for sure. There isn't a whole lot more to say: the acting is predictably terrible, breasts and body parts fly across and through the screen, gruesome deaths are right around every corner, and the 3D actually works pretty well most of the time. That's what I call     (B)     movie fun.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


NFL season is almost upon us, which means fantasy football is already upon us. It's tough to find time to write posts about movies I watch on Netflix when I don't watch many movies in Netflix nowadays, due to the strenuous and daily management of my four fantasy football teams. However, I will do my best to continue to write about every new film that I see in theaters, and I will also write about new and exciting things that I will be watching in the future. Ultimately, I will probably write about a Netflix Instant movie now and then if it strikes my fancy. See you in cyberspace in a little while, with an (obviously) entertaining review of Piranha 3D! Until then, make sure all of you fools are dropping Sidney Rice to the waiver wire.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World Review; or, My Penis Vs. The Constricting Zipper of My Pants While Watching

     I loved video games as a kid. Still do. I had a regular Nintendo back in the day, and on Christmas day 1991, I received an SNES for Christmas. It was, and still is, one of the most exciting Christmas gifts that I have ever gotten. From that day, I've owned many different systems and hundreds of different games (currently two PS3's, a 360 and a Wii). I just turned 26, and the love hasn't faded much over the years. Maybe that will change when there are some mini-Hutches running around, but hopefully not. Videogames are an entertaining way to connect with friends, play different things competitively from the comfort of your own leather chair, escape the sometimes frustrating real world for a while, and--above all--have some fun. Why all of this talk about videogames? Well, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is the epitome of what a film should be like when marketed toward the videogame generation. It's combination of music, sound effects, frenetic action scenes, a loud and boisterous announcer during the fight scenes, and fun factor accelerate it to the forefront of films that are directly connected to the generation that considers Master Chief a true hero.
     Disclaimer: I have not read the Scott Pilgrim comic books. I have absolutely no clue about whether or not this is a faithful adaptation to the source material. But by going by everything that I have read, it seems like it's pretty close. Scott Pilgrim (played by Michael Cera, in his best but still basically-more-of-the-same film role), is a 20-something in Toronto, Canada, and is a member of the band "Sex Bob-omb". He's dating a high-schooler, an Asian girl called Knives who wears cute schoolgirl outfits. Picture a pedophile or an anime-loving nerd's dream. However, a new girl comes into town and into Scott's dreams, so he decides to try and hit it off with her by using his normal pickup line, which deals with the history of Pac-Man. Dating this girl, Ramona Flowers, comes with a catch: to win her time and heart, he must defeat her seven evil exes. In this film, defeat doesn't just mean a fistfight or normal violence. In this surreal, one-third videogame, one-third comic book and one-third movie universe, Scott must defeat these seven beings in a fighting game (think Mortal Combat or Tekken)-style "Vs" mode, while using various natural and supernatural weapons. Enemies even explode into coins when the finishing blow is landed. It's great fun, videogame lover or not.
     Shaun of the Dead is my favorite comedy in the history of film. Bold statement, I know. But I feel like if there was a God, and I wished for the most perfect director to appear before me, Edgar Wright would be dropped at my feet. After Hot Fuzz, and now this, Wright is 3-for-3 on films that inspire wonder and awe. His style fits this source material perfectly. Remember all of the quick camera cuts and perfect comic timing of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz? (If the answer is no, then go add that shit to your Netflix queue or piss off.) It works beautifully in this film. The sound editing is also insane. If a film aspires to be videogame-esque, which this film certainly does, it has to nail the sound effects: and, boy, does this film hit the nail squarely on the head. From the opening Universal logo, with its 8-Bit pixelation and early arcade music, to the final frantic fight scene, it produces many "That's fucking awesome!" moments for anyone that appreciates videogames (or original film techniques in general). With all of this praise, it's easy to overlook a few of the film's minor problems. They don't take away from the overall enjoyment, but the movie does produce some cringe-worthy moments: particularly the singing and dancing of the first evil ex during the film's first surprising fight scene and a bit of the overly hip dialogue (nothing as puke-inducing as a film like Juno, though). It doesn't take away from the experience as a whole; I had a smile on my face 80% of the time.
     I had pretty high expectations of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, but I still didn't know what exactly to expect. I knew that Edgar Wright would (at the very least) make a film that's entertaining enough to watch.  However, he exceeded that easy-to-reach benchmark. It's funny, has great martial arts fighting scenes, and a charming-in-a-nerd-kind-of-way lead character. It's frenetic, romantic, and, above all, a fucking blast. Just like Shaun of the Dead was filled with nods and winks to the Zombie-film genre and Hot Fuzz was filled with nods and winks to buddy-cop action movies of the past, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is a tribute to videogames of the past. A past where instead of worrying about everyday headaches such as a job or paying bills, all you had to do was defeat the evil henchmen to save the beautiful princess.     (A-)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Netflix Stream This, Bitch!

The Atheism Tapes 
    There are thousands upon thousands of reasons not to believe in a God, and not many good reasons to believe. Some examples: say that every person in the world lost their memory. They still remember how to read, yet they don't remember any of their beliefs or convictions. How would one former Christian (only former because they don't remember what religion they belonged to), determine that The Bible would be the word of a one true God? Why not believe in multiple Gods, like in Homer's The Odyssey? Why not believe in a Vampire God, like I'm sure all of the tween cunt Twilight books have? The answer is this: there wouldn't be one true word of God anymore. Some religious individuals would claim that a prophet would come and show them the way. Who, Glenn Beck? I heard he's going blind (very prophet-esque). Now, I wouldn't wish blindness on anyone...actually, if anyone, it might as well be Glenn Beck, so nevermind. Back to my story: new religions would be formed from other stories of all-knowing beings and supernatural happenings. What else do we cling to from thousands of years ago? A wheel was a brilliant invention. You took shits on the ground...there was no running water or toilet paper. Women were brutally raped and tortured for various reasons and beliefs. 
     Why must smart, educated people still clasp on to these ancient religious ideas? There are a few reasons: One is hope. The belief that this time on Earth isn't all there is. I can understand why someone would want to think that there is something after this life, especially if they have hit a rough patch. But maybe they would live life more fully if they realized that there is nothing after this. (How could there be?) The hope to see their dead loved ones again some day. Unfortunately, this fantasy world isn't what actually happens. This is life, don't base any decisions on what comes next, because there's a pretty good chance it's nothingness. Make the fucking best of it.
    Let's take a look at some basic reasons to not believe. There is no reason to believe in a God.  What is the point? Theistic, usually overbearing people announce that God is the one true path to salvation. Someone who isn't tainted from childhood bible class or readings or didn't have the idea driven into their head from a young age have no reason to believe in a God. It takes no effort to not believe. It's believing that requires dodging realistic scientific findings and common sense knowledge to accept that an all-powerful being put us here. Gods and true theists are supposed to be upstanding, moral people: why, then, is organized religion the cause of so much immorality? Christ, even a serial killer that wears a labia as a hat has more morals then some of the people you read about in the Bible. Not many people would follow a murderer around and worship the ground they walk on. Yet that's what millions of people do when worshiping the so-called Christian God. Another thought: think of all of the religions and Gods throughout the entire world. There's a shitload of them. Clearly they can't all be true. Obviously, all of the people who believe in something believe that their religion is the one and only true religion. The fact remains that all religions can't be true (obviously), but they sure as hell can all be false, which they all are. Believers think that their God is a perfect being, and the wonder of the creation of the human body and life itself is absolutely positively amazing! Then why the hell does life seem not-so-perfect? People get cancer and AIDS and die slow, painful deaths. Children get molested by Catholic Priest dicks. Natural Disasters claim the lives of thousands of people all of the time. If there were a God or Gods, which there are not, why would they treat the humans they created in this horrible way? Some might argue that a Priest with a tiny dick who anally rapes an 8-year-old boy is doing that act out of Free Will. Why, then, give human beings Free Will? Free Will clearly causes many problems in this world, so why not get rid of it all together right from the start of creation? Why not make human beings be able to see at night? Why not give them more protection against diseases and viruses? Human beings are not perfect creatures, just as God does not exist. 

      If you actually read all of that (and not out of pity for my blasphemous beliefs), you will enjoy this 6 part documentary that aired on the BBC entitled The Atheism Tapes. It is 6 half hour episodes of Brit Jonathan Miller interviewing various important people in philosophy and religion, and it is extremely informative and interesting now matter what you believe in, though it helps to at least question our existence. The interviews are with English Philosopher Colin McGinn, American physicist Stephen Weinberg, American playwright Arthur Miller, English Biologist Richard Dawkins, British Theologian Denys Turner, and American Philosopher Daniel Dennett. 

"Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There's a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning."
- Bill Gates 


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Vikings on an Acid Trip: Valhalla Rising Review

     It's always a pleasant surprise to discover a new, talented and different filmmaker, one that challenges the way that you view films, whether that be through extremely graphic violence or dense, scary imagery. Nicolas Winding Refn is one of those filmmakers. He has already made some great films, such as the wonderful Bronsonwhich I have discussed in a previous post. Continuing his interest of diving head first into the dark nature of man, Refn's Valhalla Rising is an interesting, sometimes tough journey into a heart of darkness, culminating in a trip to an unknown land which offers emotional and physical horrors. Although the Blu-Ray cover would like to fool you, 300 this is not (thankfully). 
     Valhalla Rising takes place in 1000 AD and chronicles the journey of a mute Norse warrior called One-Eye who has supposedly supernatural strength and fighting technique. Along the way, a young boy named Are joins up with him after One-Eye kills everyone the boy knows. They meet up with a group of Christian Vikings looking for a crusade, and they sail to an unknown and disturbing land. The film is broken up into chapters, but they might as well be acts, because this film is more like a play than a movie. 

The Chapters:
1) Wrath
2) Silent Warrior
3) Men of God
4) The Holy Land
5) Hell
6) The Sacrifice

     As you can imagine by those chapter titles, this film is about the furthest from lighthearted and heartwarming as a film can be. It's very sparse on dialogue and very heavy on metaphoric, disturbing and beautiful imagery. Sometimes it's like watching a painting in motion. A lot of the speaking in the movie is filmed in a way that showcases the absolutely incredible vistas in the background (although it takes place in very different places, the entire film was shot in Scotland). I could linger on the thoughts of the visuals for paragraphs and paragraphs. It's a film that really benefits from watching in high definition, causing the backgrounds and graphic violence to really pop out of the screen (it's available for a limited time on Time Warner's HD Movies on Demand). The title of this review is "Vikings on an Acid Trip". I say this because the visuals and the accompanying music are always beautiful, sometimes disturbing, and usually quite surreal. One-Eye has visions that show flashes of things to come, always shown in a blood-red tint and horrific (in a good way) music. The difference between this movie and many others with similar stories and periods of time is simple: in other films you're watching something that takes place in another distant, scary time. In Valhalla Rising, you get dropped into this time, experiencing all of the horrors, atrocities and Hell that these men go through. Men's veins spurting, the rolling mountain backdrop, the mud, blood and shit-covered vikings coming to the realization of where their journey has taken them--these are the images that make each frame of the film a genuine work of art. Nicolas Winding Refn has cemented his status as a filmmaker to watch, assuming you want to watch something different than most of the over-marketed trash that gets thrown in front of our eyes every day.     (B+)