I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

12 Rounds

tn_12roundsI think I owe each and every one of you an apology, because I’ve been neglecting my duty by not seeing 12 ROUNDS until now. The thing has been out on video for a month or two – how are ordinary citizens gonna know whether to watch a Renny Harlin/WWE Films tag team event if I don’t test it out first? Honestly I planned to see it in the theater, but the PG-13 kept me away. Let that be a lesson to you, Fox Atomic. Next time go for a hard-R, maybe you won’t go out of business.

From the director of DIE HARD 2 and the plot of DIE HARD 3 comes this generic but enjoyable festival of property destruction. Wrestler turned wrestler who is in movies John Cena plays Danny, a New Orleans police detective who one year ago arrested a terrorist or arms dealer or something named Miles (Aiden Gillan from THE WIRE – that’s where all the cheesy villains come from now). Miles’s girlfriend randomly got run over at the scene and he blames Danny so he’s after him With a Vengeance. (I’m not sure if he’s already gotten revenge on the guy who drove the car.)

mp_12roundsSo Miles kidnaps Danny’s wife and forces him to “play a game” which is villain slang for running around town following clues and defusing bombs and almost dying but not quite.

For a while I was thinking this could be called THE COMMANDEERER, because Danny makes full use of the movie cop’s sacred right to commandeer vehicles. He takes somebody’s Trans-Am, a fire truck, climbs onto a moving street car. But come to think of it he’s on a bus and near a boat without commandeering either so he didn’t really earn the title. Also his wife flies a helicopter at the end but he doesn’t.

You could argue that it’s selfish for him to go along with the terrorist’s “game,” because his friend, his plumber and a random security guard get killed in the process. But the guy really loves his wife. He also understands that human life is more precious than material wealth, so he ends up doing millions and millions of dollars of damage while trying to save her. Driving the firetruck he plows through car after car, a row of parked motorcycles, a popcorn stand, etc. He crushes an FBI car, breaks many windows, blows up a power station and a helicopter. I mean, I’m glad he saved his wife (SPOILER) but now if they make a part 2 it’s gonna be about nothing but lawsuits.

Cena is blandly likable, not really charismatic. He looks kind of silly pretending to be a regular guy with muscles that big, but so does Schwarzenegger so I guess there’s a precedent for that. He’s not the type of presence or personality that would make me want to see a movie (like The Rock is), but he doesn’t ruin anything. I liked him much better than in THE MARINE, but it’s also a much more interesting movie, so that helps. I noticed that on the extras he seems like a pretty funny, smart guy, so maybe if he does more movies he’ll get better.

By the way, if anybody ever wants to do a biopic of Brian Bosworth, I got a casting idea. Also, if they ever want to do a Bourne movie where he starts using steroids I have an idea for that also. Drop me a line, outlawvern at hotmail dot com.

The movie is definitely lacking in the patented moronogenius we associate with Renny Harlin pictures such as DEEP BLUE SEA and MINDHUNTERS. I mean it’s silly but it’s a more normal action movie type of silly than what you hope for from this crazy Finn. But when I heard the beginning of his commentary I realized he’s still in his own world somewhere. He talks about how he shot it handheld, almost like a documentary, and told the camera people even if they messed up it was okay because it would be more real, and that this was his idea for how to make it a unique new type of action movie. He calls it a “commando movie” (I think he means guerilla) and I’m convinced he really hasn’t noticed that everybody does this fucking “realistic” style now and that it leaves fans of movies like his old ones (or COMMANDO) out in the cold.

The commando filmmaking style ruins what could’ve been a great climactic fight – it’s a knockdown drag-out inside a med evac helicopter, with a scalpel and defibrillators used as weapons. And the look of the movie is much crappier than Harlin movies usually are – maybe he wasn’t used to shooting in New Orleans. But for the most part he can’t escape knowing how to put an action scene together, so it’s usually comprehensible and exciting. Danny does Action Jackson style man vs. machine chases, and a car vs. boat chase. He jumps away from gunshots and explosions. He slides down a rope on the side of a building. He doesn’t wrestle anybody though.

I enjoy that everybody just has first names. In the beginning one antagonistic FBI agent gets mad at another for calling Danny by his first name: “‘Danny’? What, is he your best friend now?” But then he keeps calling an evil terrorist who decapitated his own brother “Miles.”

I would’ve liked more strange touches like that, but I think the script (by somebody named Daniel Kunka) at least does a good job of keeping things moving and not boring. It doesn’t get too repetitive and also not bogged down in shit you don’t care about. It even has kind of a clever twist. Well, the same clever twist as its mentor DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE, but still. It all fits together pretty good and in an enjoyably ridiculous way.

You really gotta wonder how these supergeniuses work it all out. He only had a year to plan, and he was behind bars for all but a week of it. He had to set up alot of shit with minimal help, and he knows he did a good job because he seems very confident and in control even though he has no way of monitoring how it’s all working out. I don’t know if he’s quite as detail oriented as Jigsaw in SAW, but he’s up there.

I mean, when you’re setting up the traps for round 12 you gotta be wondering if you’re wasting your time. Is the dude really gonna get through the other 11 alive? Are you? In fact, you want to make sure he gets through most of them because if he dies right away you’re just gonna feel unfulfilled. It’s alot of work and dedication to plan and execute something like that, I guess you sort of have to admire it. Good job, bad guy.

By the way, the rating is not really an issue. I watched the “extreme unrated cut,” but I doubt it’s noticeably different from the other one. It’s not really that type of movie – it’s all about houses exploding and cars rolling and things getting smashed, not about bullet hits and blood splatters. And it’s got enough smashing to keep you interested. It’s just fine.

12 ROUNDS is not a must-see by any means, and it’s not as weird as SEE NO EVIL, so I guess it’s only the second best movie released under the prestigious WWE Films banner. The Intercontinental Champion as opposed to the World Heavyweight. But I liked it. If you’re the type of person who kinds of wants to see it I’m giving you the go ahead here.

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 Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 at 1:40 am and is filed under Action, Reviews. 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.

79 Responses to “12 Rounds”

  1. “Commando Style”. That’s funny. But you gotta admit that there is one positive thing about it. It’s now much easier for amateurs to make a cinematic action movie! Don’t have the budget for stunts or fight choreography? Shake your camera until nobody can see anymore what you are doing!
    Damn, I hate this shit so much.

  2. Vern, have you reviewed the great Deep Blue Sea yet? It always seems to be on Showcase Action up here in Canada and I’ll tell ya, I’m loving it more with every viewing.

    Maybe I should look through the archives first.

  3. I’ve long held that John Cena looks like Matt Damon if he drank the green slime from Tennage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze. (SPOILER: The secret is it makes you big and muscley.)

    When comparing 12 Rounds to The Marine, I noticed a weird parallel. Both movies have plots that fail to illustrate their central theme. In The Marine, Cena played an ex-soldier who had to adjust to civilian life, but instead, they gave him and adventure right off the bat so he doesn’t have to. They make it look like his wife would need to get kidnapped every couple of weeks or so to keep this dude from going stir crazy. Buddy, get a hobby. In 12 Rounds, his wife doesn’t trust him with household shit like fixing the sink or taking out the trash because he’s too focused on beating up criminals, but then at the end he thinks he’s earned her trust by saving her from terrorists. Dude, you’re missing the point entirely. She always trusted you to rescue her from exploding helicopters, but she still can’t trust you around the house, especially since you let it get blown up. The end of the movie should have been she’s tied to a bomb that will go off if he doesn’t remember to pay the electric bill.

    Other than that, even though it isn’t the Deep Blue Sea-caliber classic I was hoping for, I like this movie. It’s what we used to call “fun” back before that concept was outlawed back in Ought Four.

  4. I wonder how long it will take till any stupid kids catch ‘Die Hard With A Vengeance’ on TV and think it’s totally ripping off this movie here.

  5. They’ll be able to tell which is the older film. The cheesy matte lines around McClane in the dump truck scene will make them think With A Vengeance was made in the 19th Century, possibly by Thomas Edison on a wax cylinder.

  6. “The end of the movie should have been she’s tied to a bomb that will go off if he doesn’t remember to pay the electric bill”

    I would watch that movie.

    Also, I haven’t seen this one, but I saw the last Renny Harlin movie (I think), ‘The Cleaner’, hoping for some craziness, especially with Samuel L Jackson along for the ride, and then was a bit disappointed when it turned out to be a normal movie for normal people.

  7. Mr M – I remember in my original THE MARINE review back in 2006 or 07 or whenever that awful movie came out, I noted how the filmmakers were wrong to frame Cena as Schwarzenegger, when he’s got a more sympathetic face much like Matt Damon.

    12 ROUNDS is a much better movie than MARINE, and yes forgettable but watchable none the less. Can’t say that about msot of Harlin’s last few films.

    Yet I probably would have given a “worth watching” rating for 12 ROUNDS, if they had gone through with one scene.

    *SPOILER* I thought Cena owning a Pug….a pug!…as badass juxaposition. The house is blown up, its incenuated that the Pug exploded as well. Then a quick shot is shown that the fucking dog survived. If you ask me, for a moment I was rather liking that we have a movie here where we got an exploding pug. Oh fucking well.

    Funny, as a wrestling fan, I used to despise Cena greatly. Like the other smarks, I derided him as John “Five Moves” Cena and how he shouldn’t main event PPVs, because its past the bedtime for his fans. I also bid (but didn’t win) on that infamous “If Cena Wins, We Riot” fan sign at that PPV where he was booked against Rob Van Damm.

    Now I’m convinced of his natural physical charisma, and a decent wrestler. If he has a fault, its that WWE has him booked as a unstoppable Hulk Hogan bulldozer…and its quite rather boring. Certainly doesn’t help his program has had the same main event basically since 2007. Unlike that other Smackdown, where amazingly between a junkie and a straight edge guy, the straight guy is the VILLAIN. Now that’s great.

  8. …and Die Hard 3 With a Vengence stole it’s plot from the part of Dirty Harry where Eastwood has to run all over town for Scorpio.

    For those you who keep track of my comments, you may assume I was ready for this one due to the fact that it’s a stupid action movie filmed in my home of New Orleans. For some reason down here we have this love of seeing our city on the silver screen. I can’t explain it either. Sure it’s not as awesome as it used to be because of the tax-cuts we give, but it’s still cool, well we think so nobody asked you.

    -only reason I went to see Monster’s Ball actually was because it was filmed in the city/town I grew up in, LaPlace. So I’m a sucker to going to see movies filmed down here.

    The last time we had a stupid action movie down was for the John Woo-directed film Hard Target. I’m in the minority of actually liking it and I’m the only person in the world apparently who thinks it’s Woo’s only good American film.

    So could 12 Rounds be stupid awesome fun seeing New Orleans blow up? Not really. It’s generic as generic can be and never once even threatens to become exciting or fun.

    Not really much else to say about it, a completely forgettable movie. Maybe it’s because after all the years of cinema last year we finally got a legitimately good movie filmed here with the Fincher-directed The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Forest Gump II (well that’s debatable because there are just as many who say it’s cheesy/sappy Oscar-bait). So maybe post that one we no longer have to kid ourselves that the remake of the Blob or Hard Target are anygood (lies Hard Targe is great!) not to mention the new Herzog movie is filmed down here as well.

    Other than the New Orleans setting the one other fun thing for my friend and I, was his uncle’s house being in the movie (Cena actually runs inside of it). That was kind of fun for us to see. Can you tell I’m grasping at straws here?

  9. Smark is the smallest atomic particle. You know, like a quark but… smaller.

  10. Hard Target is a very solid film, nothing to be ashamed about. While I’m still a big fan of face/off and kind of like broken arrow, hard target it definitley better in a way because it’s just a more simple and focused story, and it feels a lot less ridiculous than Woo’s other stuff, so you don’t have guys shooting eachother for an hour straight and neither getting hit. I mean as good as woo’s direction is in his chinese movies, they always put me off a bit because the storylines are so goofy and over the top (like how in hard-boiled for some reason an entire army of goons materializes at that hospital, which somehow has a secret vault nobody ever noticed). I always wished he could blend the craziness of the chinese action with the simplicity and relative realism of his hollywood movies.

  11. I concur that Hard Target is Woo’s best American film. Face/Off is great but just a bit too bloated, and it features a shameful dearth of mullets.

  12. Okay, I got a question for those who have seen the movie. He’s concerned about somebody being in his house when it blows up. I assumed it was the plumber, but the comment about the pug makes me wonder if he was yelling the name of his pug. I don’t remember the pug getting out, though.

    So was it the pug or the plumber he was concerned about? And if it was the pug then I’m wondering about the plumber too because I thought it was hilarious that this plumber was scolding Cena about his love life until the other part made me think oh, that was just his friend coming over to help out with the sink.

  13. I don’t know, but I thought it was funny that he was on a first-name basis with his plumber. Then you brought up the fact that they’re just living in a Casual Friday kind of world, so I guess it all checks out.

  14. I found this movie boring. The action is rarely dynamic and the trolley scene belongs in the dull hall of fame. The fact that one of the extras sleeps through the entire sequence says volumes.

  15. smark= smart mark, wrestling slang.

    mark: a dude who believes the wrestlers really beat each other up and the Undertaker is invincible.

    smart mark: a dude who knows it is all fake and enjoys the whole “wresslin'” package(behind the scenes stuff, books and other stuff), for what it is.

    Entertainment.

  16. Speaking of The Wire, man The Wire was fucking good. Why the fuck we don’t already have a prequel trilogy of movies chronicling the misadventures of honourable loose cannon\homosexual stickup man Omar I will never fucking know. Also, that guy who played Bunk should have been Shaft. I’ve never actually seen Shaft but the theme tune alone convinced me he would have been perfect.

  17. Because The Wire didn’t do particularly well ratings wise, and because the last two seasons are soul crushingly depressing examinations of the failures of every system that America utilizes to keep going. I maintain to this day that the Wire is the best television show ever, but it’s also one I’ve avoided rewatching. It just hurts so fucking much to watch it go the places it goes, watching those charcaters being destroyed so completely as some of them are is just to much to watch again. Especially what they do to a certain gay vigilante.

  18. ***Heavy The Wire related spoilers***

    I thought the way Omar died was fucking perfect. The Game got him, it didn’t matter who pulled the trigger. The kid kills Omar and will eventually become him, the cycle of violence repeating. Some deep shit. I’d have to agree with you and say that The Wire is indeed the greatest TV show ever made, one of the few TV shows that can genuinely be considered a work of art.

  19. Also, the part in season one where Stringer sends Bodie to kill his buddy made me cry like a little girl, I don’t mind admitting it. Hell of a thing…it was…

  20. I’m not saying I disagree with the killing off, or even the method. Like you said, they executed it perfectly. But like much of the second half of the fourth season and pretty much every episode of the fifth, it just crushes me to watch, or even think about. I loved those characters so to see pretty much each and every one of them being chewed up and spit out over and over again by the system and their own attempts to do the right thing…it’s a lot to take. Especially because I watched the series over the course of a small period of time via DVD’s. It was like watching the greatest, most complex movie ever, and then for it to go out on the darkest, most cynical note was enough to ruin my mood for a week and even after I snapped out fo that funk, it hung over me. The Wire is Great American Art, and if you believe in film and television as art forms you must watch it, to see a medium used perfectly.

  21. 12 rounds looks like it could be fun.

  22. 12 rounds looks like it could be fun

  23. Careful with those Wire spoilers!

    I mostly lurk here, just cause I don’t know half as much about obscure action movies as you guys do (though I really like reading about it), but I had to pop up now because my dying Make-A-Wish* is that Vern watches and reviews as much of the Wire as he can. Those who have seen it, back me up on this, because I think that Vern’s Code of Excellence and devotion to Badass cinema would be well served by watching the Wire, even if only just for the Omar bits. Hell, Vern, I’d get you a copy of all 5 seasons, if you’d be interested. I don’t think there is much in all of popular culture that is as succinctly badass as that season 3 intro where Brother Mouzzone confronts Omar in the alley. FWIW, I’d love to hear your insights on that show, Vern.

    *I’m not actually dying, well, at least not faster than anyone else. But I’d still take a Wire review over a trip to Disneyland.

  24. It seems like TV in general is kind of ignored here, except for the Blade series, and that Boondocks article. Not a knock, mind you, just an observation.

  25. Jacks Lack of Motivation

    August 19th, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Third for Hard Target as the acceptable American John Woo movie. It has an awesome bad guy demise for Lance Henriksen and the exploding funhouse ending is the right kind of Woo madness. Face/Off feels kinda like hard work to me, he was hitting the doves too hard by that point I feel.

    Empire were talking 12 Rounds up a bit a few months back and I was quite interested, but I forgot all about it since, probably due to belatedly jumping on the Jaa train. I might check it out though, I’ve been neglecting car chases and explosions lately.

  26. Everyday I pray that Universal releases a director’s cut of Hard Target. Ever notice in the theatrical version Wilford Brimley gets shot in one leg and the wound moves to the other leg? I love that workprint because it uses the score for Aliens as the temp music but I’d really enjoy seeing it with cooler sound effects and a clear picture.

  27. I’m with you ebonic, if I could request a review of my choice, it would definitely be The Wire. In fact I almost sent Vern an email a while back doing just that. The fucking thing seems tailor made for his enjoyment and I’m pretty sure the show contains multiple interpretations of Vern’s Badass Theorys. Having said all that, I can’t imagine Vern ain’t already seen it so it seems like if he was gonna review it, he’d have done it before now.

  28. Mode, I did send Vern that email a while back, and he said that he had heard all the recommendations but hadn’t gotten around to watching it (and was getting tired of people insisting he had to… so, uh, sorry to go all broken record here, Vern.) Sometimes I feel a bit like a Jehovah’s Witness asking people if they’re “saved” when I start preaching the Wire gospel to the uninitiated, but I enjoyed it SO much that I really feel like everyone should be legally required to watch it before they are allowed to vote, own property, have children, etc.

    I still see cast members from the Wire in other stuff (mainly Law & Order… they must have an exchange program or something) and think, “It’s good to see that Maury Levy is getting work, even if it is as the voice of an imaginary beaver in a sleeping pill commercial.” So of course I saw the ads for 12 Rounds and thought, “Man, Carcetti must have pulled a Marion Barry.” They’ll always be their Wire roles now. Even ubiquitous HBO regular Telly the Virgin Surgeon is now better known as “You ain’t even beige” Johnny.

  29. Why do you request a review for something you already know is great?

  30. I appreciated how SEE NO EVIL was so unashamedly tasteless and puerile and THE MARINE at least had that ridiculous opening scene in Iraq, but since then WWE Films have been pretty generic. I don’t really like wrestling (I have never heard of the guys in these films), but I love seeing that kind of larger-than-life aesthetic in action films. Whenever the hero appears on screen I want there to be explosions and fireworks and strobe lights and rockin’ guitars.

    Have you seen BEHIND ENEMY LINES 3: COLOMBIA? It was pretty generic but it had that NAVY SEALS feel to it where they’re more like a bunch of frat boys. OOH-RAH, bro! Also, am I the only one who thinks John Cena looks really weird? He’s got this tiny, boyish, crew-cut head on top of this humongous body. When I see posters of him in stores posing in his little shorts it makes me laugh.

    Also re: THE WIRE, yeah it’s pretty much the best TV show ever made, so I really don’t think there is any point for Vern to review it. What I like about this site is that Vern manages to find the good in things are usually dismissed as junk, as well as bring films to my attention that I might never have heard of otherwise.

  31. Lawrence – Honestly, I dont think we need a Director’s Cut of HARD TARGET.

    As it is, its a nicely, wound tight actioneer…and only 90 minutes long. 20 extra minutes of I believe “drama”/”character” scenes. Do we really need that shit?

  32. I guess it’s not that I want Vern to review the Wire as much as I’d just like to read his insights and reactions to it. Which is pretty much what a review is, so I guess I do in fact want him to review something I already know is great. I dunno, people write in wanting TF2 reviews… and Vern occasionally offers up writing/opinion that isn’t specifically movie review.

    Basically I just think he’d like it. And I’d like to read what he thinks. But I’d also like a blowjob from Christy Turlington. I won’t be crushed if neither actually materializes.

  33. Lawrence – With Vern’s reviews, it’s the journey, not the destination.

    I agree that Vern shouldn’t review The Wire. The review would be awesome, not doubt, but it would also be like 10,000 words long and would probably crash the site. Plus, you can discuss the finer points of the series forever (God knows I’m tempted right now), and Vern already has a long enough dance card.

  34. I think Vern should do what he wants.

    I mean who else could make a review of friggin SOLDIER a must-read?

  35. I saw this in theaters actually. Thought it was pretty fun, but that’s about it.

    I did notice a strange touch though: Cena’s character wakes up to an alarm clock that goes off at 4:58 (I think, it’s been a while) and that made me chuckle. Anyone else see this? Was there a specific reason that I’m missing or was it as weird as I think? 4:58, not 5:00, but 4:58.

  36. THE WIRE – I have no doubt I’m gonna love it, I just never feel like I have enough time set aside to get into it. I don’t want to watch some of it and then abandon it for months. I know, I should watch it.

    I don’t know if I will want to write about it though because it’s one thing to do a movie, I don’t know if I want to be doing episode guides. Or if doing a whole season as one review makes sense or not – I guess after I watch it I’ll know.

    HARD TARGET – RRA, they’re talking about the director’s cut because there’s a bootleg of the workprint out there and it’s more like a John Woo movie. The theatrical one got taken away from him and cut pretty drastically. It is pretty stupid that they haven’t cleaned it up and put it on DVD.

  37. What do you mean “more like a John Woo movie”?

  38. I mean more like THE KILLER, HARD BOILED and BULLET IN THE HEAD – movies that John Woo made when he was John Woo, before he used to be John Woo.

    Maybe somebody who’s seen it more recently than me can give specific examples, but I remember it having way more gun violence and more melodrama about Lance Henriksen’s character (including him playing piano while watching home movies of big game hunts).

    It still doesn’t approach his Hong Kong stuff but I did like it better than the version they released.

    From wikipedia:

    “During this editing period, Van Damme went with his own editor to make his own edit of the film. Van Damme’s version excises whole characters to insert more scenes and close-ups of his character Chance. When asked about this edit, Van Damme replied that ‘People pay their money to see me, not to see Lance Henriksen’. The MPAA accepted the film after Woo had made 20 cuts to the film. Scenes cut include the opening chase sequence and the Mardi Gras warehouse sequence. A non-action scene that is cut from the film is a love scene between Chance and Natasha.”

  39. Interesting. I dont think we need that love scene (who cares?) but I’m all for more cool Lance scenes.

    Alright, I’m sold.

  40. Geez, Jean Claude was a bit of a jerk back then eh

  41. Hey Vern, don’t worry about not having enough time to watch The Wire – you’ll make time for it. I borrowed the box sets off a buddy and basically fell off the face of the earth for 2 weeks. Slept, worked, ate and watched The Wire, that was my life. I seriously had people calling me up asking where the fuck I had gotten too. Three or four episodes is all it takes before you’re hooked, right around the time you watch an extended crime scene investigation in which no one says anything except “motherfucker” 20 or 30 times you know you’re seeing something special.

    I’ll stop now. It’s just a really hard show to get people to watch because it seems on the surface to be just another cop drama, which it really isn’t. It’s scope is so wide it’s verging on fucking existential.

  42. Jareth Cutestory

    August 20th, 2009 at 7:31 am

    Brendan – There are all sorts of joyful touches in The Wire to ensure an
    enjoyable second viewing, particularly in the dialogue. I find that re-watching
    The Sopranos is more grim.

    And there’s all sorts of glimpses of hope: Carver and Bubbles get very redemptive
    story arcs, and, despite his humiliation, Bunny’s arc is largely positive.

    Vern – As long as you can commit to ten or twelve episodes within a relatively
    short period of time, you’ll be fine. The show is complex, but very accessible.
    Each season is self-contained, but plot threads from each season pop up
    culmatively as the seasons progress.

    Someone upthread mentioned that he’d like to see an Omar prequel.
    I’d rather see the effort put into creating another series about another city that
    is as complex and intelligent as The Wire. Weren’t the show’s creators doing
    something about New Orleans?

  43. Your right, I’m not denying that there are glimpses of hope. But Simon makes no bones about torturing those characters, characters I love and while there are some episodes I have gone back and watched, they are almost all episodes in the first three seasons. The fourth and fifth are just to much. ESPECIALLY because of some of the stuff they do to Bubbles. There was an episode in I believe the fourth season where he does something to himself that made me shut off my TV and leave my dorm and avoid going back in, because the only thing I could think to watch was The Wire and I couldn’t bring myself to see whether they were actually going to let Bubbles’ story end that way.

  44. They did Generation Kill which is apparently also a monumental achievement in telvision (though I haven’t watched it), and then a couple of months ago Simon said that he and his team were starting to put togeher a show (not sure if it’s supposed to be a mini or ongoing) about post-Katrina New Orleans, and that HBO was giving them all the resources and time to make it. So it might be awhile, but yeah, that’s in the pipeline.

  45. Fair point about the trials Simon puts his characters through, especially in
    season four with the school kids. I swear there were times when I could almost
    smell those little rugrats, they were so carefully written and so brilliantly acted.
    The genius is that none of their trials feel contrived – this shit happens in real life.

    The end of season four made it very clear
    that we weren’t watching characters so much as we were watching roles that
    would eventually be inhabited by other characters: there’d be another Omar,
    another Bubbles, another Bunny, and they’d probably be worse off. Bleak stuff.

    Come to think of it, my second time through I couldn’t watch Bodie’s last
    episode. There should be a fuckin’ support group for Wire survivors.

  46. Now that I think about it, there actually is an Omar prequel – on the season five
    dvd there’s a short film that shows a young Omar and his brothers
    planning and executing the robbery of a man at a bus stop. It was a sort of
    teaser that ran prior to season five and was set in the 1980s.

    As for the need for an Omar prequel, without spoiling anything, just follow the
    character arc of Michael Lee through seasons four and five: that’s Omar’s origin
    story right there.

    Trivia: Omar is apparently Obama’s favorite Wire character. Take that, red states.

  47. Wow Avatar trailer is out and the aintitcool talkbalkers are being their usual douchebag selves. I swear, every classic movie from the last 50 years, if it was to come out today, the talkbackers would be bitching about it. I’m watching this trailer and marvelling at the insane amount of work that must have gone into creating EVERYTHING from scratch on a computer, and people are screaming out that it looks like total shit. I mean christ, if you ever are feeling cheery or happy, just go to AICN and you’ll be depressed and want to kill yourself in no time.

  48. Part of that is undeniably Cameron’s fault. He’s been saying for years and years that this movie is going to completely change the way movies are made, and is going to revolutionize special effects. So then the trailer comes out and it’s…pretty cool. Pretty cool designs (although a little to powerloader-y) for the machines, pretty cool world and creatures, pretty cool sense of scale. And the CGI is…good. Very good, even great CGI. That looks like CGI being incorporated with live action, kind of, kind of like every other sci-fi/fantasy movie of the last ten or more years. I think Avatar looks like a good movie and I’m glad to see the master behind some of my favorite movies (not The Titanic) back telling badass narratives. But he’s created a level of hype that no movie could probably satisfy, so I think this sort of knee-jerk “The fuck!?” reaction is to be expected.

  49. There’s a great interview with David Simon about The Wire done by Nick Hornsby for the Believer, where Simon lays out his original ideas for creating the show and what went into the creation of it.

    http://www.believermag.com/issues/200708/?read=interview_simon

    And if you guys think the Wire is bleak and depressing, you should watch the Corner, Burns’ and Simon’s first HBO project adapted from their book of the same name, which followed a year in the life of the residents of a West Balitmore drug corner. Absolutely crushing, but a great mini (and book). The Wire is sort of a cross between the Corner and their first book, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, which was a look inside the Baltimore Homicide department. There are lots of actors in the Corner who would later be cast again in the Wire, though there was apparently a rule that if you played a cop in the Corner, you had to be a user/dealer in the Wire, and vice versa.

    Also, Vern, it might be a good time to check out Simon’s HBO work (The Corner, The Wire, Gen Kill) because apparently his next project after/alongside Treme (that New Orleans/Post-Katrina HBO series in production) is a miniseries adaptation of that Lincoln assassination book you liked, MANHUNT. Simon is apparently a big history/Civil War buff, and like his other work, I expect it will be fantastic.

    http://www.zap2it.com/tv/news/zap-davidsimontomfontanamanhunt,0,6147192.story

  50. I think it’s the kind of thing where someone who knows all about special effects would be able to say, “Wow, nobody’s ever done anything like that before,” but to the untrained eye, it looks virtually indistinguishable from everything else.

  51. Well yeah, there’s that. But look at something like District 9, where the quality of the effects and the way they’re utilized was something that audiences and fanboys alike were allowed to discover. Blomkamp wasn’t giving interviews about how he’s going to revolutionize cinema, he was just a guy telling a story with the tools he had and doing a fucking amazing job. So people are able to be genuinely surprised by the things they saw in that movie and be carried away by it. Cameron has talked up every single aspect of what is he’s doing and made it abundantly clear that to him this the film that’s going to birth a new age of cinema. And NOTHING of what’s been shown has qualified. It looks like a good movie. That’s it.

  52. Obama said that? That kicks ass. Makes sense too, when you think about it Omar is the only character in the entire show that follows his own moral code throughout and never compromises himself in some way. Even though that dogged adherence to his rules ultimately serves to make him predictable – once you understand Omar’s code you know how he’s gonna react to any given situation. His greatest strength was also his biggest weakness and it just goes to show that sometimes ethics are a liability – one which people in bad situations often can’t afford.

  53. That post should have been @ Jareth. Sorry for the inconvinience.

  54. Omar is Obama’s favorite WIRE character? Cool, but how in the fuck did that topic come up?

  55. Are you kidding? It’s virtually impossible to have a conversation on any topic these days without somebody bringing up The Wire.

  56. Jareth Cutestory

    August 20th, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    It was actually the actor, Michael Kostroff (Avon’s slimey lawyer on the show),
    who was volunteering from the Obama campaign,
    who told the Las Vegas Sun that Omar was his favorite character.

    When asked for clarification about Omar, Obama said: ““That’s not an endorsement.
    He’s not my favorite person, but he’s a fascinating character.”

    I guess it would have been too much to expect Obama to have replied: “True dat.”

  57. Talkbacks are shit at the moment. It seems like all the guys that made those things worth reading have slowly disappeared, now all that’s left are trolls and DICKBLOOD wannabe’s. Herc banning guy’s that have been around for years for calling Big Brother shit doesn’t help either. Apparently QT and Cameron are fair game but criticizing reality game shows gets you banned. WTF, man. Thank god we’ve got this place.

  58. Sorry for being totally out of sync with the conversation btw. I need some sleep.

  59. Not to sidetrack things even more, but I think the comparison’s to district 9 are also really unfair. As impressive and realistic as the visuals in that are for 30 million (and they are pretty much photorealistic), this is achieved because the environment is gritty and earth-based, the creatures are also a gritty/brownish color, and the camera is constantly shaking or close-up, which helps obscure any inconsistencies. Avatar is almost an entirely different genre, this is full of big scale, steady-cam shots where everything including the environment is cg generated and everything is extremely colorful (in unusual colors too). The thing is, I think to the untrained eye, people think it looks kinda fake purely because of the abstractness of the environment and creatures, not because of the effects work itself, because if you pause the trailer and just look closely at the image everything really does seem to have the right lighting, and there’s so much incredibly subtle effects work going on to help with the illusion. I guess it just bugs me, because to me, these artists are really taking another step forwards, but people instinctively attack it for all the wrong reasons instead of appreciating what’s being attempted. And the hype was almost entirely the fault of the fanboys themselves. Cameron didn’t brag about it that much, and even seemed to be trying to down-play these ridiculous expectations a bit earlier in the year.

  60. So you’re saying that Cameron didn’t actually promise to fuck my eyeballs?

  61. I think that was one of Harry Knowles fuck buddies that said the eyeballs comment.

  62. This is a pretty laid back place for conversation.
    I hope we can keep it that way.
    And I hope that Vern gets some ads on his page and makes some money. He deserves it.

  63. Let’s make a pact: If one of us starts turning into the resident asshole, the rest of us politely let him know so that he will see the error of his ways and chill the fuck out for the good of the sight.

    I’m betting it’s either me or RRA.

  64. travis-dane

    I’m with you on the ads, it’d be better for all of us if Vern made enough cash from this to devote himself to it full time. Also it just seems somehow wrong that nobody is making money from so much awesome material. I know that ain’t why Vern is doing it but we’re living in a world full of dipshits making vast amounts of money for doing basically fuck all, I’d feel a lot better about that if people like Vern could make at least enough to live on for doing something that actually contributes to society.

  65. Bullet3 – I agree with that. I paused it when the alien girl does her attack towards camera and it just looked incredible in HD. Beyond that the glimpses of action we get are just extraordinary. I’m really excited about it now.

    All the character animation/perf capture looks much better than Gollum did – and we all loved Gollum (even in full close up)- so it’s weird for people to turn their noses up at this when it is clearly more advanced. I think we are getting pretty spoiled if “anything short of perfection” is now considered crappy cgi.

    Also, Cameron hasn’t exactly been on Letterman, or taken out full page ads declaring the movie’s awesomeness. He was interviewed a few times and said the way 3-D and perf-capture are utilized in the film is groundbreaking – which is almost certainly true. Performance capture (ala Gollum and King Kong) is the technology that made the whole project seem possible to Cameron – not a quantum leap in convincing CGI character animation.

    Regardless, this is Cameron’s idea of a movie suitable for kids – so I can forgive him some of the cartoony elements. I like cartoons.

  66. You know, this is a shocking concept, but I care LESS about the supposed FX or CGI or 3-D advances of AVATAR, and more two reasons:

    (1) Cameron’s first movie in 12 years.
    (2) His first sci-fi* in 18 years. Usually makes good sci-fi (understatement)

    I mean would anyone still give a shit about TERMINATOR 2 is the very good story (and great action thrills) weren’t there? I doubt it.

    *=Not counting STRANGE DAYS and SOLARIS, which he produced

  67. RRA – you just hit the nail on the head there broheim.

  68. Yeah, I’m basically just like “James Cameron is making a movie.” Done.

  69. Off topic: I know poor Vern is burdened with the requests, but with Cameron’s AVATAR out in December and well Bigelow so far the front-runner to not just win the Oscar for HURT LOCKER, but the first woman to win the prize….

    Why not their STRANGE DAYS? At the very least, he would dig how the movie centered around a rapper murdered by the cops…a year or so before the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac murders, both which some believe were perpetrated by the police.

    That’s right, the director of PIRANAH 2 foresaw two rap assassinations. Truely the King of the World. Or the next?

  70. Yeah, I’ve been thinking I should watch STRANGE DAYS. Also I made a promise to do THE ABYSS and TITANIC at some point.

    Funny you guys mentioned it, I’ve been looking into selling out and getting ads so I can support myself enough to put more time into this. But based on the research I’ve done it seems like I really need to increase my readership several times over before that’s a possibility. I’m gonna keep trying though. Thanks for the words of support on that.

  71. As a first time poster, but long time admirer of this site (sight?) I’d just like to tell Vern that watching the Wire (in the UK) demonstrated, for me, that much of cinema these days may as well be dead and TV is where it’s at and that Boadie Broadus is the single greatest character put on a screen of any kind.

    Indeed.

    Plus, Avatar looks awesome. What, 10 foot blue guys don’t look real? never saw a real one, so I’m guess that’s kind of what they would look like.

  72. Jareth Cutestory

    August 22nd, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Limey – You probably know this from the supplemental material included with The Wire’s dvds,
    but the show’s creators felt that the Bodie character best represented the city of Baltimore as
    they see it. J. D. Williams was phenomenal in that role.

  73. I love Strange Days – I think it’s Cameron’s best as a writer – and all the POV stuff was amazing in the cinema.

    So I guess we should all do our best to promote the site so Vern can get some sweet ad gravy. Has anybody set up a facebook fanpage yet? Don’t make me do it guys, I’m sleepy.

  74. Telf – I might if we can keep the WIRE geekbating to the Potpouri thread. That would be cool.

  75. Watched it a few days ago (Note that even the “Extreme Cut” is rated “12” over here) and I didn’t like it. I gotta give it props for being a non-stop action movie, but unfortunately the action is pretty boring.

  76. It is disposable.

    Watchable, but disposable.

  77. Finally planning to watch 12 ROUNDS at some point this morning, but before I do so and absorb this review & possibly add very important 12 ROUNDS-related thoughts, I thought I’d share something I just came across on the IMDB:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1043726/

    Renny Harlin directing HERCULES 3D, co-starring Scott Adkins as “King Amphitryon.”

    Renny also directed a new film that stars one of my favorite physical specimens, Gemma Atkinson, and includes a character named “Sergeant Smirnov.”

    And, because I’m a bad Harlinoholic, I’ve yet to see Renny’s 5 DAYS OF WAR, which also has a bizarre cast, including summer 2013 MVP Antje Traue.

    I have a lot of catching up to do on my Renny, plus prepping for Roel Reiné’s 12 ROUNDS: RELOADED. That’s right; Roel Reiné directed *another* [better?] sequel to a John Cena movie starring *another* wrassler. Exciting times we live in.

  78. If you’re gonna set your action film’s climax on a hospital’s medevac helicopter, then you have to have a fight involving a smashed first aid kit, a scalpel, and a defibrillator. Renny Harlin know this, thank christ, so he checks all those boxes.

    Only quibble is that the movie should have had John Cena lose his shirt while hanging onto the helicopter before being zapped by the defibrillator. So says my girlfriend, anyway. Ok, ok, she doesn’t exist; I formed that thought by myself. But seriously, how do you cast this impressive glob of muscles, a guy who’s been described by some internet asshole as “Joe All-America, only lumpier. . . like a bowl of Wheaties with human growth hormone sprinkled on top,” and *not* exploit his bare sinew at some point? It’s the reverse-gender equivalent of doing a photoshoot of Kate Upton in a baggy sweatshirt & Amish skirt.

    New Orleans also stars in 12 ROUNDS. If you’re gonna set your action film in Big Easy, you gotta have a street car (or “trolley”) lose control and collide with stuff. Renny Harlin knows this. Maybe some of the bad guy’s riddles could have involved a gumbo recipe or could have led to a fight in which one guy throws a live crawfish at another guy’s face or required Detective Danny to translate some creole pidgin. Very much looking forward to the sequel.

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