“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

VERN’S 2009 SUMMER MOVIE EXPLODETACULAR

tn_summer09A Preview and a Pep Talk

With WOLVERINE: X-MENS in theaters and STAR TREK: NOT THE MOTION PICTURE BUT JUST STAR TREK hitting tomorrow, the ribbon on the 2009 summer movie season has officially been cut. Doesn’t matter that it’s early May and greyer than your grandma’s hair outside my window – I’ve seen with my own eyes they got Wolverines and Terminators on the Slurpee cups, and that means it’s summer. Come to think of it, the summer movie season keeps getting earlier in the year, just like Christmas decorations. Anyway, since I got a blog now and I can just blog about anything I want to blog about here on my blog, I might as well get back to the standard movie nerd shit I used to do in the old days. So here’s my SUMMER MOVIE PREVIEW plus a little venting at the end. By the way, blog is short for weblog, that is why you say blog, it just sounds so good to say it instead of weblog.

You guys know I love the old low budget action movies, I love horror movies, I like weird movies about Michael Jackson impersonators who talk to faces painted on eggs, but I also love big commercial studio movies. So this is a favorite time of the year for me. I’m not gonna talk about everything, just the one’s I’ll probaly see. Feel free to comment about which ones you’re excited for.

I’m gonna see STAR TREK tomorrow night and hopefully LIMITS OF CONTROL on Saturday. STAR TREK looks like alot of fun and I got zero attachment to any previous STAR TREK (my favorite Star Trek movie is TREKKIES), so I got no baggage on that one. It’s kind of hilarious to me to see commercials for this one and it actually shows several different scenes that look really exciting, and not a single shot of dudes losing their balance on the deck of the Enterprise. Notice how they made it look like STAR TREK and not seem nerdy? How the fuck did they do that? Magic.

slurpeeLIMITS OF CONTROL has a higher bar to jump over though. That’s Jim Jarmusch’s new one and since it’s about a hitman (and stars Isaac De Bankole) I can’t help but have visions of Ghost Dogs dancing in my head. Even worse, a reader named Mark P. tipped me off to an article where Jarmusch mentioned POINT BLANK and Richard Stark’s Parker books as two of the major influences on the movie. So obviously that got me.

You know what? Fuck it. I’m calling this as the summer of LIMITS OF CONTROL. I don’t know if they got pajamas and dolls and shit but this is gonna be a phenomenon, this will be the surprise hit of the year. Of the decade maybe. Most likely. Almost definitely.

May 21st

terminatorActually, looking over the release dates kind of bummed me out because I realized the most exciting stuff is coming out this month and then it’s mostly just comedies left after that. As far as the traditional Summer Popcorn Movie business I got the highest hopes for TERMINATOR SALVATION. I know, I know. It’s got alot to live up to (TERMINATOR and T2 are two of the all time greats in this category) and it’s fucking PG-13. But man, that latest trailer, the one with the cheesy rock song, it really gets me going. I have no idea if McG is up to the task, and he does sound like a dumbass in some of those interviews talking about what the next one would be about. On the other hand I actually really like his CHARLIE’S ANGELS movies and think he’s unfairly criticized by people who don’t get those movies or are prejudiced towards people with funny names. Christian Bale as John Connor is great casting, Sam Worthington looks like he might steal the movie and I just like the general atmosphere shown in the trailers, kind of a realistic look like CHILDREN OF MEN but in the midst of a huge war between man and machine. Also I think the fact that it’s not another one about a robot hunting somebody in modern L.A. makes it easier to separate in my mind from Cameron’s classics, it almost seems like a new series in the same world.

But I still think the trailer shoulda said “a film by” on metal and then a big machine dramatically pounds an ‘M’ a ‘c’ and a ‘G’ into the metal. That’s what I would do if I was McG. Also I got a question, if PG-13 TERMINATOR gets a Slurpee why didn’t PG-13 DIE HARD? It’s not fair. Let’s have some balance here, Slurpee committee.

May 29th

I guess I might see THE BROTHERS BLOOM. I did think BRICK was well directed and figured I would keep an eye on this director even though I couldn’t get past the whole teen noir gimmick in that one. This looks a little too cute and Wes Andersony, but we’ll see. The must see this week is DRAG ME TO HELL. It’s exciting that Sam Raimi is going back to horror, but it wasn’t until seeing the trailer that it really hit me – this is a fuckin Sam Raimi movie! Remember when it was EVIL DEAD and DARKMAN and even THE QUICK AND THE DEAD… and that was a Sam Raimi movie? A SIMPLE PLAN, as great as it was, seemed to mark the end of that era. And there was THE GIFT. I enjoyed the SPIDER-MAN movies but working with those budgets and the corporation’s prized intellectual property he’s not really the same guy, he doesn’t have as much energy, invention and visual experimentation. When I saw the DRAG ME TO HELL trailer it was like Bobby Ewing coming out of the shower on DALLAS after he’d been dead for a season. Holy shit – he’s back! I never thought I’d see him again.

June 5th

Don’t know if they’ll be all that great but I’ll have to see LAND OF THE LOST and THE HANGOVER. The first one is from the dude who directed CASPER, but who knows? Danny McBride is in it and to me he’s the funniest dude in movies right now. I understand THE FOOT FIST WAY isn’t for everybody, but it cracks me up and his HBO show EAST BOUND AND DOWN is even better. THE HANGOVER I don’t know much about but the trailer made me laugh. Features Mike Tyson.

June 9th

Just another comedy, but THE YEAR ONE looks funny too. Cave man movie with Michael Cera, Jack Black and everybody. Judd Apatow doing a Monty Python movie I guess. One of the first caveman movies without Ron Perlman in it.

June 26th

I don’t know if I’ll make it to THE HURT LOCKER, but it’s good to see Kathryn Bigelow directing again. I think it’s an Iraq War related movie, supposedly real intense.
July 1st

This might end up being one of the highlights of the summer, Johnny Depp vs. Christian Bale in Michael Mann’s John Dillinger movie PUBLIC ENEMIES. I don’t care if nobody else liked it – MIAMI VICE worked for me as an arty version of a studio movie. The guy has undeniable talent and I like him best when he’s working in “fun” mode, even if he doesn’t know it. By the way this is a true story, that’s what it said on the trailer, who would’ve ever known.
July 10th

soulpowerI’m trying not to know anything about it, but I gotta see BRUNO because BORAT is honestly the hardest I’ve ever laughed at a movie before. But what about this documentary called SOUL POWER, you guys know about this one? I just found out about it while looking up release dates. Turns out they had tons more footage of the music festival in Zaire when they shot WHEN WE WERE KINGS. So this is a documentary about the festival itself, featuring James Brown and Bill Withers. And of course Ali shows up in this one too. I kind of doubt this will play in Seattle on this date but it’s the release date I read. Whenever it is I can’t wait.

July 31st

Judd Apatow’s FUNNY PEOPLE looks real good, using his usual guys and apparently going a little more serious. Apatow started as a comedian but says he wasn’t very good, and became a joke writer for Adam Sandler, so it’s cool that they would do this movie about stand-up together. One part I’m excited for is Eric Bana plays Leslie Mann’s husband. I was hoping he’d play a comedian too since he actually was a comedian in Australia before he did CHOPPER. But even if he’s the straight man it will be good to see him playing Australian again, and it’s nice that they gave him a role after talking about him in KNOCKED UP (remember, they said Eric Bana in MUNICH is the reason for any Jewish men getting laid).
August 7th

GI JOE AND THE RISE OF THE COBRAS. This is another adaptation from one the great American storytellers of the 1980s, Hasbro. You may also know some of his other work such as TRANSFORMERS and PLAY-DOH. I felt bad for the kids who grew up on this one and still hold it close to their heart, because they were in the talkbacks going on and on about the proper way to do it and I kept trying to tell them “hey fellas, it’s Stephen Sommers. They just hired Stephen Sommers. You need to let it go. There is no chance.” But they couldn’t give up.

I razzed those guys a little about the source material but they insisted it was not the cartoon toy commercial they are attached to but a comic book series also used to advertise the toy but they were really fond of the thing. And actually the nerds convinced me that this could’ve been made into a legitimately cool action movie if it was made by a good director. GI JOE it turns out is a special forces team of dudes with colorful code names, gimmicks and specialties fighting against some evil snake themed terrorists or something. Also apparently there are ninjas and wrestlers involved. It’s like the perfect ’80s action movie. So it’s true, that is the kind of movie I could get behind if they had made that.

Instead they made a Stephen Sommers movie, but I gotta admit it looks so silly I want to see it. It could be as painful as TRANSFORMERS but I will give it a shot. I look forward to this one in the same way I did THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR last summer. Of course, I ended up feeling too guilty to watch that when there were actual good movies in theaters so I didn’t see it until DVD and then only got some light chuckles out of it. Can you top that, GI JOE? I challenge you to top “light chuckles on DVD.”

August 14th

A couple maybes this week. DISTRICT 9 is some weird ALIEN NATION type deal produced by Peter Jackson, directed by the guy he chose to direct the HALO movie that never happened, based on a short film he did that was kind of cool. The effects look amazing but I hope it’s not all done in a mockumentary fashion with interviews and shit. I’m tired of that gimmick.

A PERFECT GETAWAY is some thriller from David “Chronicler of Riddick” Twohy. Like I said, maybe.
August 21st

is obviously a big day, a day we’ve been waiting for a long time, one of those movies that has been talked about forever but finally came together this year and it’s hard to believe it’s really upon us. I am talking of course about GOOSE ON THE LOOSE! starring Chevy Chase. But also Tarantino’s INGLORREOUS BASTTIRDZ comes out the same day if GOOSE ON THE LOOSE! is sold out.

It can be kind of a pain to discuss Tarantino on the internet. There was a time many years ago when people were too worshipful of the guy. He started to be overexposed, and there was a backlash. Somehow that backlash continues to this day, even though he has more than lived up to his promise. I can understand that it’s not a style some people will like, but I think every movie he’s directed is a keeper, and the KILL BILL movies might be my favorite of the 2000s so far.

Do me a favor, don’t pull out that “he rips off movies” shit again. We went over that bullshit when some of you weren’t old enough to drive yet. It’s been settled. There is no movie fan in the world who watches a Tarantino movie and doesn’t know he’s often paying tribute to movies that he loves. No shit, Matlock. I don’t know what’s supposed to be so shocking or offensive about that. In fact Tarantino has done more to promote those movies than anybody. Just imagine how many people have watched samurai movies, Jack Hill movies, William Witney movies, men-on-a-mission movies, Pam Grier movies, Gordon Liu movies, Sonny Chiba movies, VANISHING POINT, CITY ON FIRE, or all those other things, just because Tarantino talked them up in interviews or referenced them in his movies. I don’t know why that is upsetting to people, unless it’s some movie nerd dick measuring contest, you gotta show off that you know what he knows about in order to prove that he doesn’t know more about movies than you know about movies. Or something.

I say let it go, fellas. I love KILL BILL because it reminds me of the best of a bunch of different types of movies I love: martial arts movies, spaghetti westerns, revenge thrillers, samurai movies. It synthesizes all the most potent ingredients of those genres and turns them into something entirely different, that for me anyway feels completely unique, and it makes me laugh more and moves me more than most of the movies that inspired it. And has some of the all time best martial arts scenes. Sorry, you don’t have to like him but saying he’s terrible or a hack, you got no credibility in my book.

So I look forward to his Nazi-killing movie. I believe there is a 90% chance this will be best of the summer.

August 28th

One time I loaned twenty bucks to this guy in the bus tunnel who claimed he needed it to get his car out of impound and he would come bring it to me at work later that day. I knew he was probaly lying but I was very disillusioned with the world at the time and in a weird mood. I thought why can’t you trust a stranger? and decided to do it as a test, to measure the soul of mankind. If the guy really paid me back then it would restore my faith in humanity. It would prove that it is possible to just be a nice guy and take somebody’s word for something, help out somebody you don’t know, and not be taken advantage of. Just like it should be.

So I lost my twenty bucks and I learned my lesson. Or you would think. But I still went into the HALLOWEEN remake hoping for the best. I kind of liked Rob Zombie’s first movie and really liked his second movie and I figured they were gonna remake HALLOWEEN no matter what so I was lucky they at least got a director I liked. Well, that open-mindedness wasn’t enough. I don’t hate it as much as the next guy because there are parts of it I like and I feel like Zombie was at least reaching for something more ambitious than most horror remakes. But it clearly doesn’t work.

Now Zombie’s doing H2: JUDGMENT DAY and here I am again. I find myself thinking “Well, now it’s not a remake, it’s just a sequel, he won’t have to rehash anything and it won’t have to be compared as much to the original, it just has to hold up to the sequels, which are mostly bad anyway.” I should be worried about some of the things Zombie has said about how it’s nothing like HALLOWEEN. And when I heard that Tyler Mane doesn’t wear a mask for most of the movie and then they released a picture of him wearing a Hot Topic homeless person outfit posed in front of a god damn Alice Cooper poster (!?) I really should’ve treated this as a Platinum Dunes joint. But then for some reason the trailer surprised me and I kind of got interested again.

So here’s your twenty bucks, Rob Zombie. Your car better really be impounded or I’m gonna be sad.

By the way, there’s also a 3-D FINAL DESTINATION sequel on that day, I’ll probaly watch that too.

limited release: THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE, WORLD’S GREATEST DAD

I didn’t put these under dates because most of us don’t live in New York or L.A., so God only knows when they will make it to our parts of the woods. THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE is the new collaboration between Academy Award winner for best director Steven Soderbergh and AVN Award winner for best 3-way sex scene Sasha Grey. I think this is sort of his follow-up to BUBBLE, the improvisational movie starring non-actors. But instead of getting the manager of a KFC to play a doll factory worker he’s got a porn star playing a high priced escort. Probaly not gonna be as good as THE LIMEY but I’ll still watch just about anything by this guy.

There’s another one you might not have heard of, but it was filmed here in Seattle so I read about it. It stars Robin Williams (bad sign) but is directed by Bobcat Goldthwait (good sign, in my opinion). As I understand it, this is the premise: Williams plays a failed writer who works as a poetry professor. One day his asshole son (the kid from SPY KIDS) dies in an auto-erotic asphyxiation accident. In order to save embarrassment Williams forges a suicide note. But the note somehow becomes a media sensation, which gets his failed-writer desperation going. So then he takes advantage of that media interest and forges an entire diary. That is why the movie is called WORLD’S GREATEST DAD. Of course, DEAD POET’S SOCIETY 2 would be another good title if they are thinking about changing it.
Kind of a light summer I guess, so that’s it for the preview. Now for the pep talk. I want to say a few things about summer movies.

A couple years ago they had that “TRANSFORMERS” movie. The reviews online were almost unanimously positive, except for Harry’s which I thought was being too easy on it. So I wrote one of my harsher reviews, the one that seemed to piss off the most talkbackers although it also got me a ton of emails saying “thank you, I thought I was the only one.”

I didn’t like the movie for many reasons we don’t need to rehash here. But the reason I took it so personally was because of that argument I kept hearing, “It’s not supposed to be Shakespeare.” I made fun of that cliche in the review and gave a long list of specific summer popcorn blockbuster type movies that I felt it was fair to hope a new summer popcorn blockbuster type movie might at least try to be half as good as. Still, the talkback was loaded with that same type of bullshit: Well, it’s not supposed to win Oscars. You went in expecting Schindler’s List 2. It’s based on a toy, what do you expect? It’s made for kids, you can’t hold it up to the standards of a real movie for adults, although I am an adult and am mad that you didn’t like it.

The basic idea I guess is that criticizing a movie like this means you are an elitist snob. A regular joe will automatically like any jumble of images put in front of them no matter what, because what kind of an asshole would expect anything more than there being a movie projected onto the screen with loud noises coming out of the speakers? That’s all we Joe Six Packs need, right? BOOOM!!!! This offends me because big studio action movies, sci-fi and robot battles and shit are my type of movie. In fact I am so not-elitist that I gotta admit I am way more into the TERMINATOR movies than I am into Shakespeare. And Terminator movies are not supposed to be Shakespeare either, but even the weak part 3 entertained me more and insulted/confused me less than TRANSFORMERS.

I got in alot of talkback debates about this topic and I was outnumbered. I started to wonder, if so many people thought this argument made sense, does that mean nobody even cares if summer movies are good anymore? If people can enjoy TRANSFORMERS just as much as T2 then is it any wonder they make movies like ALIEN VS. PREDATOR now? I mean, it made more money than ALIENS or PREDATOR did. And I think it came out in the summer so you’d have to be an asshole to say it was bad. Had we gotten past the days when people hoped for greatness in a summer movie? Was everybody okay with just having VAN HELSING?

jawsI became so obsessed with these questions I started to plan out a book about the topic. It seemed to all go back to JAWS, because that was the movie that turned summer into the season for big commercial movies, and because Spielberg had executive produced TRANSFORMERS. How the fuck did we go from the pitch-perfect filmatism of JAWS, a masterpiece to this day, to the jumbled mess of bad comedy and indecipherable visual information of TRANSFORMERS? The prototypical summer movie is all about characters and story. The special effects didn’t work properly so they kept the monster offscreen most of the time, and it was all the better. Now 30 years later people believe that a movie should ONLY have fancy special effects and all other elements cannot be held to any standard of quality.

So I wanted to go back to the summer of ’76 and watch all the highest grossing movies of each summer, in chronological order, writing about them and trying to figure out if the quality of these movies has gotten worse over the years, or if it’s always been up and down.

But then the summer of 2008 came along and saved me the effort. How can I worry that nobody cares when a movie as great as DARK KNIGHT not only exists, but is a smash hit? It’s a sequel, it’s based on a comic book, but it was good enough it should’ve been nominated for best picture. And that didn’t go unappreciated – it literally made more money than STAR WARS. That summer also brought us IRON MAN, a more light-hearted movie that was great fun without being stupid and appealed to almost everybody. And there were plenty of other good movies but those ones in particular showed that people could still make good popcorn movies and that they would be rewarded for it. So I made peace with this issue. I thought.

transmorphers2But now TRANSFORMERS 2 is on the way, and people who liked the first one can be excited about it, looks like it has more robot action in it maybe, and Megan Fox always sticking her ass in the air. Doesn’t matter what I think. BUT JESUS why did I make the mistake of reading a talkback about the trailer? That is what I am here to vent about. I’m assuming they’re real people and not the mythical “plants,” but there are like ten or fifteen dudes on there trotting out the same moronic arguments. “What do you expect, it’s based on a toy” (so why do you want to see it then?) “What you people don’t understand is it’s made for young kids, not for nerds in your 30s, that is why I as an adult love it unreservedly and say so on the internet, fuck you.” “It’s not supposed to be Hamlet” (yes, they used that one).

By all means guys, enjoy this movie. I didn’t even post in the talkback and one guy still bitterly complained about what I was supposedly gonna say about him for liking the movie. I don’t give a shit man, cool it. I watch all kinds of silly shit too. What I do have a problem with is people degrading the type of movies I like by claiming that it is not possible for them to be good and that you have to be a snob or a pipe dreamer to expect them to live up to basic standards of storytelling and taste. Okay, so I have learned to accept that there are a whole group of movie fans out there who forgot the existence of STAR WARS, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, ALIENS, JAWS, TERMINATOR 2, ROBOCOP, etc. etc. What I was not prepared for is that they forgot about LAST GOD DAMN SUMMER. It is less than 12 months ago. You guys seriously never heard about IRON MAN? You’re really gonna tell me you can’t make a good, fun, non-pretentious genre movie that’s not stupid and has good action scenes?

IT IS TOTALLY FINE FOR YOU TO LIKE THIS MOVIE. You don’t have to be defensive about it or prove anything to me. And you’re in the majority anyway. (like Bush voters once were. Just kidding.) I just wish that people who liked this movie would stand up for it on its own merits instead of what it is not supposed to be and accusing everybody else of being “haters” or whatever. If you honestly like the movie there must be something better to say about it.

And by the way, about trotting out that “well what do you know, you wrote a whole book about Steven Seagal” jab. Yeah – exactly! I wrote a whole book explaining what I thought was interesting about a body of work that has been looked down on and made fun of for decades. If you haven’t read it, there are no chapters about “people gotta understand, FIRE DOWN BELOW is not meant to be compared to the works of Jean Renoir.”

I’m not asking you to agree with me on TRANSFORMERS, or to care what I think about it. I’m just asking you not to degrade movies and movie watchers by saying that they’re not supposed to be good. I’m asking you to not tell me that I’m a snob if I think movies can be JAWS and not just JAWS 4. And I’m asking you to believe in yourself. Obviously you like this movie or you wouldn’t be so bitter about it. So surely you can stop laying down arbitrary rules about the limitations of its genre and just sing its god damn praises. Please?

Okay, that feels better. Still think Verhoeven should’ve done the sequel though.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 7th, 2009 at 12:14 pm and is filed under Vern Tells It Like It Is. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

72 Responses to “VERN’S 2009 SUMMER MOVIE EXPLODETACULAR”

  1. agreeable force

    May 7th, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    You’re absolutely right, prettty much all the time.

    And I still think you should do the summer movie book.

  2. Testify, Vern!

    Speaking to your last point, the best bit of evidence here is that people rise to the defense of TRANSFORMERS in a way that nobody, to my recollection, did for BATMAN AND ROBIN or DAREDEVIL. Why? Because those latter films could be compared to a body of work that was both beloved and had depth. So anyone who said “Of course it couldn’t be better than it is”, well, there were a lot of people who immediately called bullshit. TRANSFORMERS didn’t have that going for it: the only thing backing it up was a toy line and a pretty-thin cartoon show. So all the people who grew up loving the cartoon interpreted criticism of the film as an attack on their childhoods. If they had had a relationship to anything with more heft to it, they’d see that the film itself was the attack, not the criticism. (See: PHANTOM MENACE.)

    People tell me the Marvel comic of GI JOE had depth, and I guess people have been telling you the same thing. I suspect this means that GI JOE THE MOVIE won’t get the same love that TRANSFORMERS did.

  3. More weblogues! How about you Tell Us Like It Is too? Love those articles.

    It is Terminator and Dillinger for me this summer.

    Also, I think it is unfair to label the NIN song from the Terminator trailer “Cheesy” – I understand you have specific tastes – but its not like it’s Nickleback or some shit. I think, if they are going to deviate from the awesome metallic Terminator score, then Reznor’s low-fi industrial distorted guitar bashing suits pretty well. What were you expecting? Mozart!?!?

    Oh and thanks for getting me extra excited about Limits of Control. I would see it anyway because it’s JJ – but I had no idea what it was about – can’t wait now.

  4. They aren’t playing Limits in my town, those miserable fucks. The looong wait for dvd begins. I’m really frothing at the mouth to see it.

  5. Okay I didn’t know that was The Nine Inch Nails. It is definitely not the worst song used in a trailer but it just seems kind of funny to make a Terminator trailer that plays like a rock video. Still, it works. The building music and images is very effective.

  6. You are a class act Vern. Will you be reviewing Star Trek? I think I am kind of in the same boat as you on that one – really not that into the whole Trekker thing but I like the Old TV show and some of the movies.

  7. excellent! i’m kind of sad i’m finished reading this entry (probably will again later).
    goddamn I want another Jaws, Robocop, Iron Man, etc.
    and i definitely want that summer movie book. just finished Seagalogy and i’m aching for more. DO IT!

    and guy above me, who cares if he made a little joke about Nails? not the point. haha.

  8. i mean, guy who is now 2 entries above me. haha.
    internets moves too damn quick.

  9. Sometimes Tarantino annoys people I guess, but the guy knows how to make a movie. Kill Bill Vol.1 was the most fun I’ve had in a theater. Manns’ new one should be good and MAIMI VICE was a fine movie. Great column Vern. It was really nice to come home from a shitty day at work to find an old-school epic Vern article.

  10. Vern,

    I saw both Soul Power and The Girlfriend Experience at the Tribeca Film Festival, and both are well worth seeing.

    I am really interested in seeing what happens with Soul Power on DVD, because the director was going on and on about all the great footage that didn’t make it into the feature. Like Sister Sledge, and a lot more African acts.

  11. The problem I had with Vern’s Transformer review was, I found it so entertaining I found myself having to check out the movie, a bad bad mistake.

    I remember talking about the film shortly after seeing it (the year of release), I mentioned to one guy how much I disliked it, he pulled the nostalgia card on me, but had to drop that angle when I pointed out he was only 19!

    Looking forward to Limits of Control and Public Enemies big time, definitely be there for Tarantino’s new one and will no doubt check out some of the comedies on DVD. The style of the posters for Limits of Control had me straight away.

    Would certainly like to see the book done Vern.

  12. Hi, Vern.

    I just write to tell you not to miss The hurt locker. It’s basically a ton of suspense secuences put together but man, are they well directed and intense. A must see, imho. Easy to forget as a whole, but some secuences will remain in your head for months. A movie made with sweat instead of film. The audience i saw this with aven shouted at the screen at times.

  13. Jacks Lack of Motivation

    May 7th, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    I’ve been wary of the new Terminator (as low as T3 stooped it still had the perfect ending) but I’m gradually coming round to the idea of a Christian Bale post-apocalypse war movie, like Reign of Fire with a budget maybe. That I could pay to see. McG does seem like a dick though.

    Besides the new Raimi, Star Trek and Basterds, about the only movie I’ve been really anticipating this Summer is the live-action Blood: the Last Vampire adaptation. The original anime was great but only forty-five minutes long, also the phrasing wasn’t clear but I think I read that Ronny Yu was involved with adapting the screenplay in some capacity, which is promising.

    As to those Basterds, I can’t get my head around the Tarantino hate on the internet, particularly the outrageous level of bile that Death Proof seems to attract. Did people not see the same amazing car chase movie I did? And yet Transformers gets all this rabid support (I’ve never emailed a reviewer but it seems this blog set-up is empowering so I’ll belatedly say thanks here; that review was outstanding).

  14. Totally agree regarding Tarantino. I sometimes feel like the only time I pipe up over there on the AICN talkbacks is to defend the guy, and it’s nothing short of crazy that I feel the need to do that. It’s funny how the more popular with the mainstream some directors get, the more the nerds want to hate them. I swear to god, you even get guys over there calling James fucking Cameron a hack. Fucking poseurs. Also, I agree that Kill Bill might well be the greatest movie of the 00’s, may even be my favorite movie of all time.

  15. Vern, just curious – what was your favorite summer movie season? I’ll always fondly remember Summer ’96 as the year I could finally get into an R-rated movie (The Rock – ugh), and Twister/Mission Impossible as among the first “whoa, aren’t they starting Summer early??” movies. But Summer ’97, with the combo of Con-Air, Fifth Element, and Good Burger holds a special place in my heart.

  16. Well put, Vern. I’ve never understood that whole “elitist” tag, just because someone likes things that are good and dislikes things that are not good. Damn straight Sarah Palin would have been in there yellin at ya in the talkback fer not understandin real Americans don’t like big words or arugula. Sometimes I’m afraid our future will look like that spaceship in “WALL-E”.
    Oh yeah, and bring on “Public Enemies”!

  17. I really like DEATHPROOF. Not all of the dialogue is steller, but once Zoe Bell gets on that car you don’t care. And I like DEVILS REGECTS too much to give up on Zombie yet. I’m worried though because parts of the trailer for H2 look like a parody of what a Rob Zombie sequel to HALLOWEEN could possibly be like. I think he changed his mind about not using the mask much though.

  18. I agree , the movie responsible for opening my eyes is Aliens vs Predator. I love the originals ( when I think of SF movies , this are the first in line , not Star Wars or other space operas) , so , when they announced AvP , I imagined a battle between the two aliens , but , get this , I hoped for a team up of the badasses from the previous movies.Can you imagine , somehow , having Ventura and Paxton and all the others in the same movie , fighting two icons of SF cinema? GOOD characters , that’s the point . Can you imagine Aliens without Hudson? Yes , but not as good.And this is only the first detail , think about atmosphere , dialogue , little touches like the shaving scene in Predator or the knife scene in Aliens. In one sentence : passion for yuor work.Characters and passion made me forget the single special effect in those movies. AVP : no characters.AVP-R? Teen romance? Like every other romantic comedy out there? In a fucking Aliens movie? Fucking insulting.Worse , fucking corporate-bullshit insulting.I can just picture an executive producer suggesting : ” We need more teen angles , like loosing the car keys before a date or something”.
    John McTiernan directed a classic , and originally it was only a plastic puppet movie ( he rejected the first Predator costume) , but he said ” Fuck this , I’m going to try my best to make the fucking Othello of plastic puppets movies” and the rest is history.And , guys be prepared, in 2010…The Thing : Remade!

    Now my most anticipated movies of the summer , in no particular order: the new Terminator , PUBLIC ENEMIES ( I just hope for a “Heat” style shootout in the streets movie ) G I Joe ( I’m not a fan of the comics or cartoons , but a white ninja against a black one ? It’s too much like Kosugi vs Nero to not be interested , and I just hope the ninja scenes are good …… I also hope the white one is played by an Italian with moustaches…) and Inglorious Basterds.

  19. I think your twenty “Halloween 2” bucks is going to a lost cause, dude.

  20. Hi Vern

    Please write that book.

    No, seriously. Please write that book.

    I think the most crucial thing that sucked about Transformers is that it had no action.
    I mean, apparently those big transforming dudes that piss on people started fighting and had some seriously epic confrontation by the end, but the most action I saw came from Midnight Cowboy blasting at test tubes with a shotgun.

    Other than that I recall a lot of mechanical arms and legs being seen falling over and occasionally knocking into buildings, but that isn’t action, that’s the world’s most expensive wacky home video, only without the competent camera work.

    Actually there was that ONE sequence with the jet transformer racing and stomping on all those other jets that was genuinely exciting, well-shot, and badass, but that only last about 20 seconds and then the jet guy disappears into space for the rest of the film, so that doesn’t make this an action movie, much less a good one, in my opinion, so you are not alone. I think that was all one sentance. Jesus.

    P.S. Please write that book. Please!

  21. Vern, as I recall, your Transformers review made me do some serious soul-searching, because although I agree with every single one of your points, I still really enjoy that stupid movie. In the theater, it just kind of blew me away with sound and fury and holy-shit-did-that-robot-just-pee-on-John-Turturro, and it didn’t really bother me that I never knew what the fuck was going on. It was the biggest, loudest camp classic ever. I’m pretty sure I was laughing at the movie, not with it, but a laugh’s a laugh, so I’ll take what I can get. You’ll never hear me arguing that it’s a good movie in any way (although after five viewings I think I have a pretty good handle on which robot is which and who’s fighting who and whatnot–it does make a lot more visual sense on the small screen) but I won’t lie to you: That movie entertains the shit out of me in a very Renny Harlin kind of way. Granted, it would have been way awesomer if Renny had actually directed it, but there’s just something about the insane, wrong-headed cockiness of Bay’s movies that I enjoy. I have wrestled with my inner demons and decided that this doesn’t make me a bad movie fan. I would still like somebody to do a Casino Royale “Let’s take it seriously this time” reboot on the franchise at some point, but for now, I’ll take these epically retarded movies for what they’re worth.

  22. Great Unwashed

    May 7th, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    I also agree with the rant and stuff.

    As for the Tarantino thing, I think part of it is also that he’s maybe the only director some people are going to notice that use of homage from – I suspect they’re not gonna spot a Stranger On A Train lift in Woman On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown, for instance.

  23. What I think is bullshit about the Tarantino backlash is that the only reason these nerds know what movies he’s homaging/ripping off is because he freely admits to it. Like fucking optimus_skywalker29 had ever heard of Twisted Nerve before Tarantino used the theme song.

    That said, he’s not allowed to have characters explicitly discuss 70s movies anymore. It makes it way too easy for the nerds to pick him apart and way too hard for reasonable people like us to defend him.

  24. Thank you Vern.

    Let me say this once and for all – you are not alone. ‘Transformers’ was the single worst experience I’ve EVER had in a movie theatre, and the point in my life where I realized I had to more carefully sift what movies I see, because life is too damn short for Michael Bay. You’re spot on about the legacy of the well-made, intelligent, character-driven blockbuster, and how the ‘it’s not supposed to be GOOD’ argument is the poison in Hollywood’s cup, as well as a dumb-ass ignorant way to argue for liking something.

    so yeah. thanks for voicing it all so well.

  25. I didn’t even know about that Jim Jarmusch movie… Ghost Dog is one of the all-time greats. I just hope RZA has a cameo. And he mentions Bill Murway.

    Great article Vern. I watched Star Trek this morning (movie theatre manager) and it is amazing. I look forward to your review. Always love your POV, even when we don’t agree.

  26. Public Enemies and Basterds will be good no question, but man, what a come down from the week after week awesomeness that was last summer. Other then Mummy 3 was there really any movie that fell into the ‘accept-it-will-be-terrible-and-it-doesn’t-seem-so-bad’ category? Ah well, at least Marvel will be cranking out the hits for a couple years to come, we have that to look forward to at least. Vern, no ‘Up’ review? People who have seen previews are saying it could top Wall-e, doesnt that merit a blog? (BTW, can’t believe I just used the word blog in relation to something involving Vern).

  27. you’re not psyched on MOON, Vern? Sam Rockwell was in a little McGovie called C’s A’s, after all…

  28. Good Summer movie preview. My heart sank when there was no mention of Transformers… and then at the end there’s a whole bunch about tranformers. Well done.

    I would like to request an S. Darko review.

  29. Great piece through and through, but I particularly loved the part about Tarantino. I can’t tell you how tired I am of that ridiculous backlash!

  30. i’m so glad you like the Charlies Angels movies, vern! they’re just good time. and i didn’t think there was a lot of jiggling. maybe some shimmying. possibly some mashed potato but jiggling is overly-exaggerated. i still probably wouldn’t have picked mcg to direct the new terminator, but after watching this trailer i was flabbergasted. don’t want to get my hopes too high, but it certainly looks like it has the potential for being amazing.

    i’ll even take something on the level of t3, as long as they do something at least equally awesome as arnold dangling off the back of a crane and smashing through buildings.

  31. You know, I liked Transformers when it first came out. I liked the action and stuff. The only thing I really felt vern was unfair about it in regards to his original review was that the action seemed easier to comprehend to me than he was letting on.

    revisiting it, it really doesn’t hold up. I can’t stand the paper thin plot and all the really lame and boarder line racist humor, so Vern was ultimately pretty on target. sigh. At this point, I’m still probably going to see the sequel, really for nostalgia’s sake. (see, cause there was the really nerd famous character in the old show who was a super giant transformer formed of 6 separate construction themed transformers. and it’s going to be in the sequel, so I gotta see that.)

    Actually, most of my love for the transformers does come with playing with the old toys. I had something of an idol hands problem, such that any object I was holding I would slowly and systematically destroy without really realizing what I was doing, until I realized the papers in my hands that had been whole minutes ago were now in shreds. but see, if I was holding and transformer, I would just keep changing him back and forth between his two modes without destroying it. so yeah.

    I’ll shut up now. Hope you do go ahead with that Star Trek review! That franchise is near and dear to my heart! I’m even named after a star trek character! (see how my name is Scott? true story, my parents are/were both old school star trek fans back in the 70s when they found each other, and named me after Scotty. so, yeah.)

  32. caruso_stalker217

    May 7th, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    The only Tarantino movie I hate is DEATH PROOF. But the man made three great fucking movies in the nineties and also KILL BILL which overall bugs me for reasons I don’t quite understand while also having a lot of great shit in there. VOL 1. really annoys me now for some reason, but the “House of Blue Leaves” section is fucking awesome. And Michael Madsen owns VOL. 2. Almost makes me wish the movie was about him instead of Uma.

  33. I guess I can be classified as a Transformers defender, and I think what caught me off guard when reading Vern’s original Transformer’s agree was how vehement his hatred was for it. I agree with pretty much everything he said in his review concerning the specific details of the movie and would never accuse him of expecting Shakespeare, but somehow for me it added up to a good time in the theater. It’s not a movie I’ve revisited, but I don’t think it’s as bad as the Van Helsings or Batman and Robins Vern’s chosen to compare it to.
    Quick question though Vern, where do you stand on Shia LaBeouf so far?

  34. I hated Transformers. I’ll still see the second because I am incapable of learning.

  35. And yes… I know I am part of the problem. What do you want from me? I’m kind of an asshole.

  36. caruso_stalker217

    May 7th, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    Woah, now. TRANSFORMERS is not better than BATMAN & ROBIN. B&R is fucking great.

  37. I’d like to get in the Transformers corner for a second. Not Bay’s abortion, but the “kid’s toy”.

    I realize that it’s origina intention was to sell toys. I get that. But there is a wealth of potential to make an awesome Transformers movie.

    Take the original cartoon movie for instance. What other franchise movie do you know is going to kill off the main characters in the first twenty minutes? That shit takes some balls. Imagine for a second that you go to watch an X-Men movie and the first thing they do is kill off Wolverine, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Professor X, etc. NO ONE WOULD DO THAT!

    Granted after Galvatron killed Starscream the movie kinda blew, and the reason for them doing that was to bring in a new line of toys, but when I saw that it affected me because I cared about the characters. Does it matter how the characters were created? If you look at most comic books, their inception was completely superficial. Batman was just a cool character to draw, but over the years DC had some great writers to take that bat lookng guy and instilled a soul into him therefore making his character greater than what he was originally intended to be.

    The Transformers have that same potential. They have great characters that may be lame to some, but with some talented writers that have a level of respect of the source material, I believe can produce something special.

    I’ll bring up Star Wars, Star Trek, RoboCop, Terminator, Predator, Alien, Ninja Turtles, Halloween, Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre etc. All of those I believe we can agree have great characters and potential stories, yet they have a chapter of two that have let us down in the past. The reason wasn’t because of how they came to be created but rather how the creative teams behind the characters approached them.

    Star Wars wasn’t great because it WASN’T based off a toy, it was great because the people that were involved in the creative process actually gave a shit. When they didn’t give a shit we got Clone Wars.

    Don’t know if I’m making sense, but my point is that Transformers has a solid foundation to be something great if only the creative team behind it is inspired, which currently it is most definately not.

    P.S. I agree that the Tarantino hate is unwarranted. The guy shits masterpieces for breakfast. Add me to the (unfortunate) shortlist that thinks Death Proof is a great movie.

  38. Thanks for all the comments everybody, didn’t expect this much of a response. Lots of good points made, and I appreciate them all.

    It just occurred to me to check who did the music for LIMITS OF CONTROL, it’s not on IMDB though. I’m sure it’s not RZA.

    some miscellaneous answers to questions and what not:

    TELF: Yes, I’ll be reviewing STAR TREK. Not sure if I will get it up right away or not, and I haven’t figured out how to fit LIMITS OF CONTROL into my weekend either, but I’ll get them up as soon as I can.

    UTHRED: Thanks, that sounds great. You sold me on THE HURT LOCKER.

    JACK’S LACK: I’m curious about that BLOOD thing too. The only thing is Ronny Yu developed it for years as his next movie, so when he ended up not directing it I had less interest. But you’re right, he is a writer and I think producer on it.

    NEAL 2: Hmmm, I can’t think of a favorite movie summer. That’s a good question. This is also the first time I’ve ever seen GOOD BURGER mentioned in a discussion of classic summer movies. I remember it being kind of funny though. I also have an attachment to FIFTH ELEMENT which I re-watched recently and it’s kind of bad but still amuses me. “SUPER GREEN!”

    KODY: I think so too.

    O GONCHO: That’s the one thing I expect might be improved in the new Transformables, it looks like somebody convinced Michael Bay to add (gaudy) colors on the different robots and sometimes shoot from far away. I still can’t tell which is which though because it wasn’t until I saw the trailer I bunch of times that I figured out the Optimus Prime guy is (I think) getting killed when Shia yells “OPTIMUSSSSS!!!!”

    MR. MAJESTYK: I think that’s completely legit, I totally understand enjoying the movie on that level. That is how I hope to enjoy GI JOE. Also by the way I enjoy your watermelons.

    BRENDAN: I don’t know, I feel like the Pixar dudes haven’t really proven themselves yet. I’ll wait for DVD.

    Just kidding, you’re right, I didn’t want to list a cartoon on there but I will definitely be seeing that.

    PSYCHIC HITS: I’ve heard of MOON but didn’t know enough about it to include it on the list. I’ll keep my eye out.

    RUSTY JAMES: I’m hoping I can get an S. DARKO screener. I can’t decide if it’s good or bad that Richard Kelly isn’t involved.

    BETTY: Yeah, T3 is no masterpiece but man does it have some cool action scenes. I also loved the robot fist fight in the restroom.

    SCOTT: There may have been some hyperbole involved but I seriously couldn’t tell what the hell was going on in that movie. I really hate how complicated the machinery is on the robots. They got posters of the individual characters for the new one and even in still photos I have to sort of squint to figure out what they’re supposed to be. For example there was a picture of some “twins” and I believe they have their arms crossed like Run-DMC but it also looks like they have no arms. Also there’s a poster that I thought was a one-armed robot Predator with a giant dick, but it turns out it’s Megatron shaking his fist.

    DANNY: I guess I’m mixed on Shia. I really liked him in KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL, which surprised me. I don’t blame him for TRANSFORMERS and haven’t seen most of the other ones he’s in. And of course I admire his work in CHARLIE’S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE. (Just kidding, I barely remember him in that.) He is charismatic, not sure if he can ever play a different type of character, but that’s okay. He also seems like kind of a douche in some interviews, but he’s young and has growing up to do so that’s not a big deal.

    thanks everybody

  39. I have to second THE HURT LOCKER. Saw it via the italian Blu-ray and it’s really intense, I literally bit my nails off in some scenes. It might be a little “episodic” for lack of a better term, but other than that, I don’t think it could have been much better. A great comeback for Bigelow and I hope we don’t have to wait as long for her next picture.

  40. I like Charlie´s Angels. I don´t know why.

  41. I have read several places that the music in Limits of Control is going to be (at least partially) by Earth, Boris, and Sunn 0))). All three bands are legendary drone/doom metal bands who play loud, long, slow, HEAVY music (but Earth is especially legendary and are a direct inspiration on the the other two. also they hail from Seattle.) I’m not sure exactly how their music will be used because any given song by any one of these guys could easily last the entire running time of the movie. But Jarmusch certainly knows how to make excellent use of music. The grim, icy, epic weight of the music ought to make an interesting contrast to the warm sun-bleached photography exhibited in the trailer. Or maybe he’s just going to use the pretty sounding parts.

    P.S.
    I just got home from a screening of Star Trek. That movie is GOOD AS FUCK! (i.e. very good)

  42. As somebody who has payed to see Halloween in the theater, hated it, and then watched it again on DVD with the audio commentary and hated it even more, I’m going to pay to see the sequal.

    You know what has convinced me that this is going to be the worst thing of the year? Rob Zombie’s stupid attempt to get his fucking wife in his movie even though she killed herself. So they’ve now managed to remake Friday the 13th part II. Congrats Rob Zombie you fucker.

  43. “This is another adaptation from one the great American storytellers of the 1980s, Hasbro.”

    Fucking good observation, dude. I love you in the way that a man can love a man and not involve his penis. Kudos.

  44. “Also there’s a poster that I thought was a one-armed robot Predator with a giant dick, but it turns out it’s Megatron shaking his fist.”. hahahah.
    that made my day. best laugh since the upside down poster from last year.

    and thanks Swenson for the heads up about the music in Limits Of Control. another reason for me to check it out. Love me some Boris and Earth.

  45. Simon Ballister

    May 8th, 2009 at 7:43 am

    LAWRENCE: Hey man, the audio commentary kick dick?

  46. Yo, Vern. Really liked your summer review and you hit it sooo on the head with that ending rant. Just thinking about that John-Turturro-in-his-funny-underwear-scene from Transformers makes me cringe.

  47. Completely agree Vern, nothing gets my blood boiling more than someone who defends Tranformers with “what did you expect, shakespeare?” Arrghhh. I ended up arguing with a few people in the Traformers 2 trailer thread on AICN and people just seem to point blank ignore the fact all my criticisms have nothing to do with elitisism or expecting ‘Citizen Prime’. Transformers just didn’t work as an entertaining action film, that’s all I wanted, and it failed at that.

    I can’t comprehend people who say “well yeah the characters were shit, and the story was crap, and there were too many sub plots and I guess there wasn’t that much action but….what did you expect, they’re toys, it was awzum lol!”

    I mean, all film ideas are stupid if you reduce them enough. A film about a dude running around dressed as a bat is stupid. A film about a midget throwing an invisible ring into a volcano is stupid. etc. It just takes the right person to take it seriously (and a load of people couldn’t differentiate between taking the concept seriously, and making a ‘serious’ film) to make a good film.

    Did you ever see/review ‘Speed Racer’ Vern? It’s just that film got trashed for the exact same faults that Transformers had, but people were happy to ignore/dismiss them in Transformers.

    It was “too long” for a kids film, the action was confusing, the jokes were too childish, plot was all over the place etc etc. The only thing is that for some reason, about a third into the film it just clicked for me, and I loved it, despite it having considerable problems and a really fucking annoying child comic relief character. But the humour is no more childish than robots pissing on john torturro. I’d be curious to know what you think as I just can’t understand how people can trash SR but love Tranformers.

  48. That one shot in the trailer of Opticlemoose being knocked towards the screen from far, far away and hitting a fallen tree or whatever has me thinking that maybe you’re right about the action being a little better, Vern, but if they fuck us over again then that’s it, okay man? I’ll be fucking done… or not, but I definitely won’t be happy. That’s for sure.

  49. Vern says:
    “seems kind of funny to make a Terminator trailer that plays like a rock video” …. what about a Rock Video that plays like a Terminator movie? …. You could be miiiiiEEEEine, but you’re way out of liiiiiEEEEine.

    Good article man. That Transformers thing though …. some people just want to be entertained with the flashing lights and the beeps and booms. They are incapable of thinking beyond that. Don’t go to the bad place …makes head hurt. Its fine for them to enjoy it but don’t expect them to think to far beyond the sublime hilarity of a jive talking robot doing tricks with it own oily piss. Most of these people couldn’t give you a valid reason to get out of bed in the morning.

    Cheers

  50. LAWRENCE: Yeah, I was scratching my head when I read that the kid who played Michael in the first one had to be replaced because he was taller than Sheri Moon Zombie. Because first you think wait a minute, why is the kid who played Michael in the first one in this one? And then wait a minute, why is Michael’s mom in this one? And then wait a minute, if they’re in this why is Michael’s mom more important than Michael?

    Maybe he should’ve replaced his wife with whatsername from POLICE ACADEMY like he did to Karen Black in THE DEVIL’S REJECTS. Because I thought she was actually better than Karen Black.

  51. Also I forgot to mention that “Weird Al” Yankovic is apparently in HALLOWEEN 2. Maybe I should just add a picture of him next to that paragraph.

  52. Right on Vern, totally agree with you about Summer Movies. They should be the films that you look forward to the most, the films that have the best balance of style, substance and spectacle. I love great special effects as much as the next nerd, but I like badassery even more!

  53. there are all kinds of things lookin wrong about new Halloween, but it might be such a shitstorm of crazy ideas that it’ll stay interesting for the duration. i wish Rob would get on with T Rex though, seems much better territory for him.

    and i heard Weird Al is in it too, along with a couple other bizarre cameos. looks like we’ll have Udo Kier (sp?) syndrome again this time around.

  54. Hi Vern,

    Great write-up. Over here in the UK I’m not aware of a date for the Jarmusch yet, but if it’s Stark-influenced, you know I’m there. Speaking of which, despite the lamented passing of Mr.Westlake, University of Chicago Press seem to be continuing with the reprints of the Parker novels. They did the first three last year, and the next three are now listed on their website. I hope they honour their commitment to him and continue through the rest of the series.

    We in the UK are getting fairly soon the international cut of John Woo’s Chinese period epic Red Cliff, which has some seriously badass moments in it. Given the new cut is a 2-and-a-half hour compression of two films the same length EACH, my expectation that it would be a summer highlight for myself is somewhat tempered. Also, French period crime flick Mesrine, another two-parter, has it’s first part coming out here towards the end of summer, so that goes straight on to my list – Vincent Cassel being badass in 70s style just has to be a summer must-see for myself.

    Anyway, PLEASE do the book on the origins of the blockbuster season, I’m sure Titan will say YES immediately! If not, I’ll drop by their offices and impress upon them the NEED to publish all your future works. :-)

  55. Vern! You need (or should I say I need you?) to write that summer movie book, or at least publish an article in an academic journal on the subject. I have to say, this summer is looking a bit weak. Terminator, Up, Public Enemies, and Inglourious Basterds are the only movies that are piquing my interest. Hopefully next summer will be better with the best toy-based-movie ever: MagnaDoodle.

  56. Also, I now refer to movies I don’t hate originally but find unwatchable on repeat viewing as the “Transformers Phenomenon.”

  57. Hey man just chiming in here to say you should definitely write that book.

    I really liked how you made each chapter in Seagalogy the perfect length for a satisfying poop, thanks for considering us toilet readers.

    Now I think about it though, didn’t you mention you were planning a novel?

    Whatever you do man, don’t forget us poopers

  58. Vern and Swenson, thanks for the info about THE LIMITS OF CONTROL. This just became my most anticipated summer movie after BASTERDS. Jim Jarmusch + Boris + Richard Stark influences = as good as GHOST DOG? Unfortunately, I’m going to have to wait a week to find out if my math is correct there.

    One question, Vern. In your review of TRANSFORMERS you said it would make a good double bill with ROADHOUSE somewhere down the line for ironic enjoyment by college students. I definitely agree with that, but isn’t that a mark in TRANSFORMERS’s favor? I personally would want to see any film that could appear on a double bill with ROADHOUSE. And I know you like ROADHOUSE a lot too. Not that I think TRANSFORMERS is as good as that one, but they both have the kind of ridiculousness I always like to see in movies. Is it just Michael Bay’s filmmaking style that makes you dislike it so much or is it just too stupid and soulless to enjoy like you enjoy ROADHOUSE?

    And I assume you are already aware of it, but another film to look forward to this year (not sure if it’s out this summer though): Isaac Florentine’s NINJA – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNCTa4CwQn4

    Oh, and you can also put me down for one copy of the summer blockbuster book. That’s like four people already committed. Which comes out to like 40 dollars right there. American dollars. How could you not want to put hundreds of hours of work into this thing?

  59. Forget about people forgetting about THE DARK KNIGHT and IRON MAN–I want to know how we went from HAMLET and MACBETH packing people in to TRANSFORMERS 2.

  60. ^ Yeah, you’re right. We should never forget how good we have it. We should all consider ourselves very fortunate to be alive after robots were invented. The best Elizabethan audiences could hope for was ghosts telling dudes to murder people. Nowadays we get two movies this summer alone with giant robots destroying all manner of things. Four, if you count THE TERMINATORS and TRANSMORPHERS: FALL OF MAN. I can’t help but feel bad for all those Elizabethan people who never got to see themselves some robot wars. It’s a shame, too, because I bet Shakespeare would have written one hell of a giant robot play. (And if you don’t think the greatest literary figure in history would have turned his quill to a giant transforming robot play then I think you are just being willfully naive.)

  61. wooooooords. lettttttters.

    District 9. Thats my summer ‘look forward to reaaaaal bad’ movie this year.

    That first trailer just fucking shook me.

  62. Wow , I didn’t know the trailer for NINJA was out! Thank you Jake!That was fantastic ! I hope this movie gets AT LEAST a limited release.It seems to me that there is a ninja , in the trailer , using advanced weapons and armor , like in the classic American Ninja 1!!!! I hope there’s the old “technology vs tradition” final showdown!

    This movie is at the very top of my list , but I think it will be relased in the same month as “Ninja Assassin” , to take advantage of the hype.

    Man , 2009 IS the year of the Ninja Renaissance!

  63. I really hope Ninja and Ninja Assassin do well so we can get more ninja movies.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat myself here… Dudikoff vs. Kosugi directed by Sam Firstenberg. Make it happen hollywood.

  64. keepcoolbutcare

    May 9th, 2009 at 2:06 am

    great writing as usual, Vern.

    I believe “Black Dynamite” is set to be released in early September, which unless someone’s mucked about with the calendar still makes it a summer film, technically.

    Anyone know the status of a stateside release of “The Good, The Bad, The Weird”?

  65. It seems like the whole idea that summer movies are SUPPOSED to be idiotic really kicked into gear in the mid-90’s when “Speed” and “Independence Day” came out…I remember that being time when I first stared hearing things like, “Yeah, of course it’s vapid. But, what do you expect? It’s a summer movie!”

    I think people who say things like that are, in reality, saying one of three things:

    1. “I’m a cynical jackass.”

    2. “Quit being so difficult and get with the program and start mindlessly consuming like the rest of us!”

    3. “I like this movie but I really can’t articulate why and the fact that you don’t like it annoys me.”

    Number three is the only option that I have any sympathy for; if you like something you really shouldn’t have to explain why you like it (unless you’re actually a critic).

  66. Vern, I would buy your book in a geekasmic heartbeat.

    What chaps my hide about TRANSFORMERS is this: as true lovers of “popcorn movies,” deep down, we crave respect for what we adore. And just as we get a build up of pop movies that transcend the title, along comes something paint-by-numbers like TRANSFORMERS, proving all the naysayers correct in their assumptions of what a crappy summer movie really is. It gives the “others” ammunition for criticizing our tastes. And when a talkbacker says, “This isn’t supposed to be Shakespeare”… Gah. Even Shakespeare used tried and true chestnuts as a foundation for stories, but he added gracenotes that *made* him Shakespeare. That’s the difference between THE TERMINATOR and TRANSFORMERS–one bothered with the gracenotes, the other was absolutely graceless.

  67. dunno what all the ranting about transformers is. good movie. what do you expect
    vern, it’s based on a toy. it’s not gonna be hamlet.

  68. Man, Fuck Transformers! (pretty good right? Took me a while, but was worth it).

  69. You know what, I still like Transformers, and I like it as a movie, not as a MST3000 kind of a thing. On the rewatch, most of the joeks are pretty lame, but none that really bugged me to much.I don’t know, I never really had Vern’s problems with the action or designs, those things seemed fine to me. I felt like Bay’s approach of complete mayhem to his action actually fit the brawling giant robots pretty well, and I thought he did a good job of backing up and letting some images just hang there, usually when they involved fire. I personally felt like there was an actual sense of awe towards these special effects, usually coming from Shia and Megan, and that’s rare in summer movies these days, where big visuals just sort of frantically race by without any rythm or pace. I got the sense watching Transformers that there was a confidence in these creatures, and it payed off.
    And hey, I do get where you other guys are coming from. For me, that filmmaker who embodies everything that drives me crazy about big studio movies that get made these days isn’t Bay, but Sommers. Van Helsing is what I think of when I read Vern’s articles about the Mummy 3, or other things of that type. Van Helsing is an absolutely unmitigated disaster, but whenever it’s on TV, I’ll flip over to watch it, there’s something about its mongoloid approach to story, character, design, history, action, and the behavior of human beings that is fascinating to me. There’s also the basic level of masochism that comes from watching everyone except for Hugh Jackman vanish into the blackhole that is overemoting and bad accents.

  70. Man, you’re making me want to see VAN HELSING. I stopped watching Stephen Sommers movies after the first MUMMY, but that one sounds pretty funny. Actually, I’m probaly gonna watch GI JOE because it looks hilarious in a Rob Cohen kind of way, and because it has ninjas.

  71. I would actually recommend Van Helsing as a funny bad movie. The only point against it is that Hugh Jackman is clearly trying really hard to make the movie work, so I kind of ended up feeling bad for him, because he is pretty good, but the rest of it is just such utter shit it’s hilarious. So yeah, Vern, I would say Van Helsing marks the turning point for Sommers becoming a filmmaker just incompetent enough to be amusing, which makes me think that G.I. Joe will indeed fall into that category. VH is probably worth the rental, in my humble opinion it will probably generate ‘a couple chuckles.’

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