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Posts Tagged ‘Will Smith’

Aladdin (2019)

Wednesday, September 11th, 2019

ALADDIN. The 1992 Disney animated classic about a “street rat” who’s a “diamond in the rough” and gets three wishes from a hyperactive genie and uses the opportunity to try to marry the princess he just met. See, they come from opposite worlds, but if you think about it, having to sneak out of your gigantic palace in disguise to go to the market while your dad tries to make you marry a prince you don’t know for political reasons is very much the same experience as being an orphan who knows how to make crushing poverty fun with petty theft and parkour. So I don’t see why there would be any awkwardness there. They’ll do great!

Now we have a live action version, and legitimate reason to be skeptical. I’m very proud of my review of SAVING MR. BANKS from just six years ago, which I turned into sort of a manifesto against kneejerk cynicism toward Disney and happy endings and what not. But these days the corporation probly gets less pushback than it honestly deserves – they buttered us up with Star Wars and Marvel movies and then created a disastrous monopoly by purchasing Fox. There are many small, terrible things I could complain about, but it’s in the big picture that it seems to me they’re really doing the opposite of what their founder was beloved for. It seems less about telling great stories and more about trying to own the most popular “properties.” Not only have they entirely abandoned the classic hand drawn animation that was once their entire business, but they’re recycling their own animated stories in live action and/or realistic computer animation that’s sometimes well done but generally lacks the heart and soul of the drawings Walt helped breathe life into.

That fucking sucks. On the other hand, I can recognize that most of these movies are pretty enjoyable on their own merits. So I try to be fair. (read the rest of this shit…)

Wild Wild West

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017
a survey of summer movies that just didn’t catch on

Big Willie Weekend, 1999

Two summers after their hit film MEN IN BLACK, director Barry Sonnenfeld (d.p. of BLOOD SIMPLE) and star Will Smith (SUICIDE SQUAD) tried to bring a similar comedy/special-effects/adventure mix to the old west. It’s like a western in that there are cowboy hats, guns, railroads and occasional horses, but also not really because it’s about two top agents for the president going undercover and then having a big battle against a giant mechanical spider that’s on a rampage and headed for the White House. Not a type of story I’ve seen done with John Wayne or Clint or anybody.

The basis is The Wild Wild West, a western-meets-spies TV show that lasted four seasons, ending thirty years prior to the movie. It was actually cancelled not due to a lack of popularity, but controversy over violence on television, and did have two followup TV movies. But the last of those was in 1980, and nineteen years later it was at best a cult show, and not yet available on DVD. So this is another expensive blockbuster based on characters that most of its intended youthful audience had never seen, or in this case even heard of.

But they didn’t have to know it was based on anything. Waning interest in westerns may have been a bigger problem, but that could’ve been overcome by the popularity of Smith, or the fun gimmick of the gadgets and steampunk type robotics, or the energetic style and cartoonish humor of the director of the ADDAMS FAMILY movies.

But that didn’t happen. (read the rest of this shit…)

Suicide Squad

Monday, August 8th, 2016

tn_suicidesquadFor many years, Warner Brothers had pretty good luck making Batman and Superman movies. With SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE they pretty much invented the comic book movie. With BATMAN they reinvigorated it. Sure, there were those Joel Schumacher movies that put the whole venture in peril, but then they took the genre to the next level when they let Christopher Nolan start over and do his very successful and influential trilogy. They’ve had more hits than misses, I think.

But now the rival Marvel Comics company has their whole interconnected movie universe thing, and everybody’s gonna be jealous of their neighbor’s sports car, I guess, so WB is trying to do one of those for DC Comics. So far this has caused excitement followed by disappointment.

But the upside is that because they’re desperate to show off all these characters they own they went for the cool idea of SUICIDE SQUAD, a comic where a bunch of the villains from other comics are taken out of prison and forced on dangerous missions for the government, DIRTY DOZEN or Snake Plissken style. Popular bad guy characters are able to be enjoyed as anti-heroes, and get some amount of redemption for that time when they tried to rob a bank but the Flash caught them or whatever. The movie version is written and directed by David Ayer. That’s the guy who used to be known for writing TRAINING DAY, but more recently he’s come into his own as a writer/director with END OF WATCH, SABOTAGE and FURY. He can also brag that he has a writing credit on THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS. (read the rest of this shit…)

Independence Day

Thursday, July 7th, 2016
President Whitmore (right) confers with the Chief of Staff's ex-husband's dad
President Whitmore (right) confers with the Chief of Staff’s ex-husband’s dad

summer2016originsWhen Roland Emmerich’s INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE landed (get it, like a space ship [although I guess technically these ones never land, so forget it, I retract that pun]) in theaters 20 years after the first one was a smash hit in the summer of ’96, people were asking if the first one held up. Trick question! It was never good. If there’s any way it’s a classic it’s as a classic example of a summer blockbuster that’s a huge hit, but unworthy to join RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, TERMINATOR 2, etc. in the pantheon.

Let me put it this way: It’s a movie made by people who thought five syllables was too unwieldy for a title, but two was too small, and therefore it should be referred to by the half-sensical abbreviation “ID4.” That’s not normal people thinking. That’s pure Emmerich. And I think it’s fair to say that only Emmerich (with his then writing/producing partner Dean Devlin, an actor from MOON 44) could’ve, or at least would’ve, made this movie. (read the rest of this shit…)

Analysis: “A Nightmare On My Street” vs. “Are You Ready For Freddy”

Friday, October 31st, 2014

tn_freddysongsspecialpresentationOh shit you guys, did you notice it’s Halloween already? I feel like the season is just getting started, though. Next week I’m gonna have more horror reviews for you, plus other stuff.

But today instead of another review I thought I should do something different, a Halloween special if you will. Something great and beautiful and timeless that really captures the traditions and atmosphere and feelings of the holiday, like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, the world’s only animated tribute to sincerity. Good cartoon in my opinion. I should totally do something like that if I’m up to it. Or maybe I could write about the Freddy Krueger rapping, that might be something more appropriate to my level of expertise. I guess I’ll do the second one.

In the late 1980s, a period when horror sequels were a major part of pop culture, there were two songs by popular rap acts that were inspired by the A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET saga. Let’s take a look at them both.
(read the rest of this shit…)

After Earth

Friday, October 18th, 2013

tn_afterearthor JUST THE TWO OF US: THE MOVIE

When I kept seeing the trailer last summer, AFTER EARTH didn’t look so hot to me. It’s hard to have hopes for an M. Night Shyamalan joint these days, and also it got absolutely terrible reviews. I mean, it has an 11% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes – that’s lower than ALEX CROSS, R.I.P.D., THE SMURFS 2 or the joyfully pre-hated Paul Schrader/Lindsay Lohan collaboration THE CANYONS. But you know me, I watched it anyway and I’m not unhappy to tell you that it’s not bad.

Jaden “KARATE” KID Smith stars as Kitai, a talented young cadet in some futuristic military outfit, trying to make ranger, but he fails because he’s Too Reckless In the Field. There’s alot of pressure on him because his dad (played by real life dad Will Smith) is the Big Willy of the future, the warrior who saved the human race from giant alien bugs called ursas. This happened after humans polluted earth so bad they had to colonize a place called Nova Prime, then some other aliens invaded using the ursas as attack dogs. Ursas are blind but they can smell pheremones, and dad can chop them up completely unsmelled because he has no fear. This technique, Kitai explains in narration, is called “ghosting.” The only thing we have to not ghost is not ghosting itself.

So his dad is awesome, but I’m not gonna say what his name is because then you’ll never believe me that this is a decent movie. Okay, his name is Cypher Raige. But seriously guys. (read the rest of this shit…)

Summer Movie Flashback: I, Robot

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

tn_irobot

2004
2004

I, ROBOT is a movie that I had low expectations for when I saw it that summer, and it exceeded them, so it seemed pretty good. Re-watching it now it’s still pretty good but maybe a little less pretty good now that I expected it to be pretty good.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s a mystery story in a sci-fi world of 2035 where helpful robots are a common household appliance. Will Smith plays Detective Del Spooner (Spanish for “Detective of the Spooner”), an arrogant, trenchcoat-wearing Chicago cop who is horribly racist against robots and always trying to accuse them of crimes, even though they’re programmed to always protect humans and have never in history committed a crime. His boss (Chi McBride) is constantly embarrassed by this fucking idiot working for him but must have an old friendship with him and feels sorry for him enough not to fire his ass like would probly happen to anybody else fucking up as bad and often as this fuckin guy does and always acting like a total crazy person in front of numerous witnesses both at work and in public. (read the rest of this shit…)

Seven Pounds

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Seven strangers. One man connects them. Or some stupid bullshit like that, is what the commercials said. They had a hard time explaining what the hell this movie was supposed to be about, and didn’t make me curious to find out. That is, until somebody gave away the ending.

I’m gonna go ahead and make you have to highlight this one, because it’s at the end of the movie, it’s a pretty huge spoiler. (read the rest of this shit…)

I Am Legend

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Man, I’m a sucker for these QUIET EARTH type stories. You can’t help but think about what you would do in a situation like that, alone or with a couple other people, living in an abandoned city, everybody else either dead or disappeared. All of society’s leftover resources would be there for the plucking. Where would you take up residence? What would you drive? Would the rides at Disneyland still work? What sort of games would you play to amuse yourself? Backhoe Rampage? Skyscraper Free Throw? Condo Shitting? How would you deal with your loneliness? And would you bother to wear pants?

If there’s monsters involved, like in DAWN OF THE DEAD or any of the three movies based on Richard Matheson’s book I Am Legend, then it becomes more of a survivalist challenge, you start thinking about strategies. How to fortify your home, how to transport yourself around safely to scavenge, etc. In this case it’s vampires he’s dealing with so he can pretty much wander around and do what he wants during daylight (vampires have a sunlight related disability), but at nightfall it’s on. (read the rest of this shit…)

Vern’s Peace Initiative

Sunday, August 13th, 2006

As if the whole world wasn’t going to shit already, now we got this war going on between Israel and Hezbollah in Syria. Or according to some people, between the US via Israel and Iran via Syria via Hezbollah in Lebanon or I don’t know. Whatever the fuck is going on over there, it’s not good. People are dying every day and it seems like this could be just the humble beginnings of this latest phase of the world’s biggest mess.

In the old days, like, say, seven years ago, what we would do is the President would make some phone calls, send some diplomats, try to figure out how to get those assholes over there to chill the fuck out. “Come on guys, it’s not worth it.” Like when your buddy’s had a few too many drinks and starts getting in a guy’s face in an argument over a girl or a shoe or a slice of pizza or something. You gotta give your buddy some perspective before things get ugly. (read the rest of this shit…)