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99 Problems but the Super Bowl ad for GI JOE RETALIATION ain’t one

tn_gijoe2BruceOkay, I apologize for posting about a TV commercial for a sequel to a(n enjoyably) shitty movie based on a toy. But I saw this new commercial for GI JOE: RETALIATION and I had to watch it a bunch of times in a row. I really think STEP UP 2-3’s Jon M. Chu is gonna pan out as a director of silly action movies, and that gives me some hope for the future of action filmatism.

First of all, here’s the commercial:

Okay, admittedly it’s corny that it’s based around a Jay-Z lyric (although it does kinda make it seem like The Rock is playing himself). But I’m sort of mesmerized by this footage. It takes the, uh, strengths (if you want to call them that) of the first movie (ninjas, a dude who wears an all black rubber costume, flipping, explosions, gimmicky vehicles, constant ridiculousness) and adds something new: taste. Stephen Sommers made such an ugly, cheesy-looking movie, already seeming dated when they started advertising it. But these shots look nice:

Nicely designed and composed, striking to look at. I believe that’s RZA on the left, by the way. Same character he played in GHOST DOG, in my opinion.

What I love about this is that despite being 30 seconds, quickly edited and full of action it’s clear what’s going on in every single shot. The camera isn’t static but it always frames everything nicely:



It’s always clear who is in the shot (or at least what color of ninja), where they’re standing (or flying or swinging) and which direction they’re moving, even in edited-down-for-the-Super-Bowl form. Obviously we can compare this to the other filmatic adaptations of the works of Hasbro and see a hell of a difference. I saw that trailer for TRANSFORMERS IN DARK MOON like ten times in theaters, there were still parts of it that I didn’t know what I was looking at. They just dump a big barrel of wiggly shiny crap on the screen and if the sound is loud enough your brain figures it must be amazing. This is the opposite. This is clean. I like it.

I figured since Chu had so much experience shooting elaborate dance sequences he could apply those skills to other forms of movement. I saw an interview where he said he didn’t think dance scenes and action scenes were really the same skill, but if so I guess he must be good at both.

Looks like this one has a little bit of dancing:


…but probly more punching:


I remember the trailer for the first GI JOE picture really showcased the scene where the GI Josephs wear power suits and it’s computer animation of them flipping around and crashing through a subway and stuff. I got a good laugh out of Sommers’s trademark use of really outdated looking digital effects in a big expensive movie, but it’s nice to see that Chu is going the opposite route and trying to do a good job. When I saw that teaser trailer I kind of thought this was a real stunt:

Like maybe a nice digital background but real guys on wires or something. But watching it again I figure the movements and poses are just too cartoon perfect, it’s gotta be fake. But I’m not actually sure ’cause it really looks like live action to me. I dig it.

My preferred form of action movie would probly not be this silly, but it takes all kinds. This looks like a hell of alot of fun. I think style is gonna do inappropriate things to substance in this movie. If not, it will still be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis, the RZA, Ray Stevenson, Walton Goggins, Byung-Hun Lee, Arnold Vosloo, Ray Park, and probly some surprise guest star under the mask of Cobra Commander. Jay-Z, probly. That would tie in with conspiracy theories about Jay-Z and the Illuminati or whatever. And it would be such shock ending ’cause the guy The Rock quotes to pump up the troops was behind the attack all along. He’d be real upset, but, you know. You can’t knock the hustle.

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115 Responses to “99 Problems but the Super Bowl ad for GI JOE RETALIATION ain’t one”

  1. Where’s my Sgt. Slaughter cameo?!?

    Vern, I’ll give you credit: Your argument has gotten me intrigued by a goddamn GI JOE sequel. Good job chap.

  2. “That would tie in with conspiracy theories about Jay-Z and the Illuminati or whatever.”

    ha, so you’re aware of the conspiracy theories surrounding musicians these days too huh? have you heard the one about Lady Gaga literally being a mind controlled puppet of the Illuminati?

    what the fuck is wrong with people these days? there’s so much paranoia going around…

    anyway so yeah I might give this Joe a chance, although I can’t say I want to watch the first one beforehand

  3. I hated the other HASBRO movies and didn’t watch the first one in this series but I’ll be damned if that does NOT look close to the G.I. JOE movie I dreamed of as a kid when I used to read the marvel comics.

    Realistic weapons? check.

    A small solid collective of the group featuring some of it’s prime badasses like Gen. Colton and Roadblock? check.

    Insanely fun looking action sequences? check.

    Mr. Chu most definitely had my money with the trailer and Vern’s breakdown just solidified that shit times 10. Well played sir.

  4. The Illuminati conspiracies slay me. So you mean to tell me the “elite” that run this country and are by proxy (mainly white) would allow a black guy who grew up in brooklyn into their elite ranks?

    Look man I don’t doubt that entertainment artists may be puppets for some crazy agenda. Anything is possible and I’m sure there is a S.P.E.C.T.R.E. like organization led by a Hank Scorpio type mocking and controlling us all behind the scenes. But to say that they will be allowed into the ranks of the elite especially when they’re minorities just makes me laugh too fucking hard to ever take any of it serious. I mean as a minority member myself who even in the 21st century has still dealt with prejudices in my life from white folks I just can’t fathom such a scenario.

  5. No matter how rich Jay-Z or Kanye West may be; they’re still “N” words that came from poor families and not “socially” equal to a lot of those very old school thinking “blue blooded” white folks that would be the heads of such an establishment if it’s something that goes all the way back to the monarchy as people claim.

  6. BTW, what’s up with all those companies suddenly releasign their Super Bowl spots BEFORE the Super Bowl?

  7. Yes Broddie, but you’re forgetting one thing; they’re “N-words” in Paris.

  8. You guys are being ridiculous, everyone knows the illuminati are reptile aliens and as such are above issues of race.

  9. COBRAS are reptiles, Mode.

    Yeah, I’m kinda looking forward to this one. I have a friend who scoffs at my anticipation for this and my appreciation of FAST FIVE…and he likes the RESIDENT EVIL movies.

  10. Looks a hell of a lot better than the first movie at least! I As a fan of the 80s cartoons that movie just annoyed me for a lot of reasons. Snake Eyes was cool but Stephen Sommer just to give him lips on his mask! I agree with Vern that this sequel has more “taste” than the previous one, which gives me hope. I know that fight on the face of a mountain obviously has to be fake but damn if it isn’t real looking!

  11. CJ – that questions begs my question: Do you watch the Super Bowl?

    Also that AVENGERS Super Bowl spot was…very bland. Over $3 million for that spot, and that’s what you deliver? Damn people.

    As for the Super Bowl ads leaked early, my favorites so far has to be the Audi vampires ad (I’m betting Five Vern Bucks that it’ll win the Ad Game that night) and the Ferris Bueller 2 ad for Honda.*

    Off-topic, but I must my 2 cents on a recent proposal given the trial balloon treatment. Super Bowl game at London is a bad idea.

    *=That ad amused me, and scored millions of hits on YouTube already. But really, is hiring Matthew Broderick the wisest spokesman choice for your shitty import cars? I mean this was the same Broderick who committed vehicular manslaughter in the late 80s. What next, John Landis endorsing helicopters?

  12. The Rock is really on a roll.. get it!?

    /shows self out

    Seriously though, the dude is bringing the heat right now. Assuming this doesn’t suck, plus Fast 5/6, makes me wonder if he is today’s preeminent Badass.

  13. Really? I’m not trying to disrespect your opinion, Mr. Vila, because I love the Rock, too, even sticking by him through his damn-near a decade of appearing in nothing but kiddie crap, but are things so shitty right now that a guy gets to be the King of Badassylvania by doing an admittedly awesome but nonetheless supporting role in one good action movie and then starring in an admittedly awesome-looking but nonetheless PG-13 toy commercial? I mean, he’s still doing shit like BITCH MOUNTAIN and JOURNEY 2 THE ONE MOVIE EVEN BRANDON FRASER WOULDN’T DO, so it’s not like we’ve really won him back to our side. I still think he’s got the most potential of any action-oriented actor working today but I’m gonna wait for him to make one (1) watchable R-rated badass film for grown-ass men before I started dusting off the crown.

  14. RRA: I would, if it wouldn’t be at Midnight in my timezone. But still: Why are they releasing all spots suddenly days BEFORE the game and not after it, like in the previous years?

  15. We’re ready to re-enter THE CHU ZONE.

    I’m infinitely happy about the future of dance filmatism and action filmatism.

    Coulda gone without Bruce’s “high cholesterol” joke, though.

  16. CJ – why? Hype. Yes get people hyped up by seeing the ad, so on sunday….they can see the ad again.


    Speaking of making no sense, the Madonna halftime show was one that I was about as enthusiastic as the Republicans are for Romney personally, or anyone else is for a wet fart. Now news came out that Lady GaGa’s mother is also playing with LMFAO and Cee Lo Green. Whoopee. (fucking LMFAO? Didn’t those promoters learn from the Black Eyed Peas trainwreck last year?)

    Just because I love petty pathetic diva bitchyness, I would be absolutely amused to near death if Madge prove the rumors true and does “Express Yourself.” Yes be the Diva Newt!

  17. I don’t see any sense in that. The companies spend an assload of money to get their spot placed n the middle of the Super Bowl and then dump it on the internet early, so that nobody gives a shit anymore, when it’s on TV.

  18. This Super Bowl discussion is helping me develop a theory for something that has plagued me my entire life: why I simply don’t like sports. It’s not just that I find watching games pretty boring and don’t really give a damn which squad of millionaires moves a ball farthest in one particular direction. It’s also that sports are so intrinsically connected with advertising and merchandising, two things that just really fucking suck about modern life. You look at the average sports fan (present company excluded, of course) and you see a perfect consumer: seated in front of the TV at a prescribed time so that networks can set their commercial rates high, emblazoned head to toe with logos as they engage in a lifelong emotional and financial bond to a faceless conglomerate, and actually EXCITED about the new ways in which corporations will attempt to trick them into spending money this year. I know my particular passion (movies) isn’t much better, what with product placement and what used to be called “drama” now reduced to being “properties,” but being a sports fan involves endorsing the monolithic money machine that our culture has become to a degree that I’m just not comfortable with.

  19. I have to feel a bit for Channing Tatum. Here’s a guy who was looking at GI Joe as being his Die Hard, but the moment they spin up a sequel with the Rock, he’s reduced to being a secondary character in his own franchise – at least if the trailer is to be believed.

    That said – it’s probably fair punishment for “Dear John”.

  20. “I don’t see any sense in that. The companies spend an assload of money to get their spot placed n the middle of the Super Bowl and then dump it on the internet early, so that nobody gives a shit anymore, when it’s on TV.”
    Well not everyone actually watches the Superbowl, so the online leaks (and the Avengers one is only a brief glimpse of the ad, not the full thing), are probably done to catch the attention of the people who specifically get their exposure to that sort of thing, while the actual ad is for the more “joe average” sportsfan. I’m not going to boil it down to “one approach for nerds, another for everyone else”, but kinda…

  21. Monsieur Maj,

    No disrespect taken, you make very valid points. It’s just that when I go down the list of currently active Badasses, the cupboard is rather bare. Matt Damon doesn’t really do it for me, Liam Neeson is cool but kinda old and shaky-camy (as is Damon), Vincent Diesel just isn’t in much these days, and all the greats of the past generation are wrinkled up and doing what I assume to be terrible Expendables sequels. Ray Stevenson has potential, but he hasn’t really broken into the mainstream as a leading Badass quite yet, aside from the insane Punisher: Warzone.

    The Rock seems to represent that pure BADASS ideal we’ve been missing for so long. In the tradition of Arnold/Stallone/Dolph he is fantastically huge and muscular, he’s got the charisma, he’s got an awesome gravelly voice, he’s got all that shit. And yeah, Journey 2 looks like a horrendous piece of trash, but I don’t even care. Whatever he does with his time is his business, and if he wants to make awful 3D kiddy adventure flicks, good for him. As long as he’s got some asskicking left in the tank for the movies WE want, I couldn’t care less. I mean Micheal Jackson was an all-time great entertainer, but he raped little boys asses. Fucked up, right? For sure, but it doesn’t make his music any less awesome. Same thing goes for Mr. Rock. And honestly, I’d rather he be making Journey 2 than raping kids.

    With regards to the Super Bowl and sports fans, while I see what you mean, I gotta disagree. Well, maybe it isn’t so much disagreeing as it is, again, not caring. If we’re going to go through life avoiding everything that “involves endorsing the monolithic money machine that our culture has become”, we better all turn in our Movie-Geek cards, stop listening to music and watching TV and using the internet. It’s like when artificial sweeteners. People say “Oh you shouldn’t use them, they give you cancer!” EVERYTHING gives you fucking cancer. You’re best off just enjoying things for what they are in the moment. Sure, the Super Bowl is the biggest commercial fiesta of the year, but who cares? We’re gonna get exposed to all that shit anyway, might as well enjoy the ride.

    I know it isn’t cool to admit defeat and just subjugate myself to the Man, but screw it. I mean where am I as I type this? Sitting in a fucking cubicle, working for said Man. I’m stuck right in the middle of the machine.

    Maybe The Rock will come smash it and set me free, but till then I’m gonna have as much fun as I can.

  22. Bob: No, I get that. I watch some of the crassest, most commercial movies ever made, so I can’t really throw stones. So if you really have an appreciation of athletics, I imagine you can tune out the fact that every single person involved is a shill for one product or another and just revel in your love of the game. Me, I don’t particularly give a shit about who wins or loses, so any casual enjoyment I met get from watching amazing physical specimens perform incredible acts (something that I am a huge fan of in cinematic form) is pretty much negated by my awareness of the fact that all of this exists just to get me to buy some shitty beer.

  23. Mr. M,

    I always end up watching the super bowl every year, even though I don’t give a shit, because my wife or my dad or one of my friends or somebody always ropes me into it (ditto the Oscars). And the thing that really pisses me off is that every year someone always says “Well, if you don’t care about sports, then just watch it for the commercials.” And then a bunch of people agree that the commercials are their favorite part.

    What. The. FUCK?! The fact that people are actually excited to be advertised to blows my mind and break my heart a little.

    I’m hardly an anti-consumerist; hell, I’m all caught up in that shit. Like most other Americans, I buy products from evil corporations all the time. I buy things because TV tells me to. I just bought myself a 3D TV for Christmas, even though I don’t care about Christmas, because I love excuses to waste my hard earned money on stupid flashy bullshit.

    But idea of willingly subjecting myself to advertising solely for the sake of advertising strikes me as nuts. Not even that, people are actually excited about being advertised to. We live in an era with unprecedented access to nearly limitless free entertainment, and yet every year, millions of Americans choose to watch a bunch of commercials FOR FUN.

    I take moral stands on almost nothing in my life, but this is one issue where I draw a line.

  24. I don’t think Channing Tatum dislikes to be killed off in the sequel, as his voice his opinion that he hated the film.

  25. That’s the key, tuning it all out.

    To lay all the cards on the table though, I am one of those shills. I’ve worked in advertising and marketing for various big, terrible companies for my entire professional life. It sucks, really it does. But at the same time, it makes all the bullshit more tolerable, because I’ve actually got a legitimate interest in all the ads and sneaky fucked up ways we’re being sold to all the time.

    To get back to GI Joe for a moment, the cast is looking like a real nice collection of punchers, kickers and assorted weirdos. The ensemble of badasses thing really seems to be catching on, and it makes me happy.

    What, I wonder, would be the IDEAL squad, The Dream Team, be?

    Rock and Vin gotta be in there. Throw in Stevenson and Adkins for some of that British flare, and probably Statham while you’re at it. Does Whalberg get an invite? What about Tom Hardy? Sam Worthington has to stay at home, he can’t come.

    I must be forgetting some good ones, cause that list is hurtin’.

  26. Michael Jai White, obviously, and Donnie Fuckin’ Yen. His kung fu is better than it’s ever been, he’s a legitimately good actor, and unlike his inexplicably more Hollywood-friendly peers, he can actually speak English.

  27. Comparing Tatum’s performance in GI JOE to his in FIGHTING or HAYWIRE I get the feeling he didn’t necessarily have a strong attachment to the material. I’m sure he’s happy to collect another check and then go star in a movie about his life directed by Steven Soderbergh.

    And Majestyk, I agree with your assessment of The Rock, but FASTER is a watchable one he made for adults. It is “Rated R for strong violence, some drug use and language.” I think Statham might be the defacto king of Baddassylvania but he’s not running things too well and there could be a coup at any time.

  28. I gotta respectfully disagree on FASTER, Vern. It started strong with some nicely offbeat elements but it so totally pissed itself down its own leg by the end that I don’t consider it watchable, or at least not re-watchable. I’ll give him credit for trying to do the grown-up thing but I don’t think it really worked.

  29. Stu: But why are they releasing the spots BEFORE the Super Bowl? I think this is even the first time that so many companies do this. Usually it always went Super Bowl —> Spots premiere —> One day later they get viral on the internet.
    And that’s a logic that I can get behind.

  30. Ideally, [pro] sports is for the kids. It gives them aspirations via the entertaining display of a nearly perfected model of rewards based on competition, teamwork, and individual excellence. And doing sports strengthens their muscles & lungs. And helps them get attractive sexual partners, which in turn makes them more relaxed, functional people, which makes society better & safer & saner.

    I’m hooked on a lot of sports because I love the spectacle of awesome athleticism. Nothing original there. If the athletes involved are good, I’ll watch local amateur boxing with almost the same level of interest with which I watch a heavyweight $30 million purse pay per view title fight. My addiction does occasionally lead me to watch 15 minutes of figure skating because I’m so impressed with the balance & danger of all those twists they do, so maybe I have a problem. However, I also like watching them fall on their ass, so maybe I’m totally normal after all. Same reason I’ll watch extreme snowmobiling or motocross jumping or whatever. Same reason I watch Tony Jaa, etc..

    My favorite NBA player right now is Tyreke Evans, and I have no clue if he has any endorsements or if he stars in any commercials. He flies high, he’s a triple-double threat, and he always looks like he doesn’t give a fuck. My longtime favorite player is Gerald Wallace, who also lacks national recognition, but I heard him once say in a brief pre-game interview that he drinks a big glass of white cranberry juice in the hours before tip off. I was already a big cranberry juice drinker, but his pitch helped me feel even better about buying more of it.

    My favorite NFL defensive player is Vince Wilfork, whose physique couldn’t be more different than my own and whose voice & face I probably wouldn’t recognize if I encountered it on the sidewalk. My favorite NFL offensive player was DeSean Jackson and is now Aaron Hernandez, for the reason that I saw these guys play in college, observed their potential, predicted that they would be great in the NFL, and was proven correct. When Aaron Hernandez was drafted in the 4th round, I knew the Patriots had themselves a great bargain there, that he could be a great combo tight end, and it pleases me that I also would have been wise enough to draft him, though at a higher pick. Same thought process that went into my recognition & love of STEP UP 3D (the scouting process) and the ensuing Jon M. Chu filmatism fandom (GI JOE sequel hopefully begins the sustained professional excellence period). I have no idea what products or advertisements are affiliated with Aaron Hernandez.

    I’ve become an expert sports fan, though I don’t subscribe to any sports magazines or newsletters or blogs. I don’t read analysis except for some baseball trade breakdowns. I don’t even read the sports section or watch much SportsCenter.

    But I can tell you why a team scored in transition the other way within 3 seconds of a missed basket, and why that rarely happens against well coached teams, especially not at the college or high school level. I can tell you when a linebacker audibles to QB spy, and whether the weakside defensive end will respond either by dropping back in a zone or by focusing on edge containment. I can tell you the best pitch count to give the greenlight to a hit & run, depending on the baserunner/pitcher/batter/catcher at that moment.

    It’s fun & highly rewarding, for me, to watch sports at this level of awareness of nuance. Plus, huge muscleheads hitting each other at full speed.

    Fuck soccer. (Ok, not really. I enjoy pro & World Cup soccer, but I don’t have the time to get into it. Zidane’s epic headbutt was one of the giddiest moments of my sports spectator life, though.)

    Yes, it enrages me when the best basketball player in the world does a fucking McDonalds drive-thru commercial, pushing milkshakes & french fries to kids. Yes, it’s disgusting that light beer commercials & logos saturate every sportscast. But the good outweighs the bad, especially if you dvr the game and wait until 25 minutes after it starts to hit play, then fast forward through the commercials.

  31. Incidentally, I just watched First Lady (for our Brit friends here, this title is sort of like the American equivalent of “Queen,” except totally different and it actually means something) Michelle Obama do a bunch of perfect push-ups on a clip of the Ellen show on MSNBC.

    Almost 50 years old, and she’s got more impressive upper body musculature than me. This inspires me. It ought to inspire some kids, too.

  32. I wouldn’t feel TOO bad for Tatum. Dudes going back to back Soderbergh’s.

    Also, am I alone in hoping that Jon Chu does a Step Up 4? Maybe going with the recent craze of reuniting the OG characters? Man I love those movies, and while the dancing is arguably better in 2-3 then in the first, Channing Tatum brings above and beyond the most likable, interesting, and relatable character (see also; FINE) in all three movies. Love to see him back in a 4th helmed by JC.

  33. I wouldn’t feel TOO bad for Tatum. Dudes going back to back Soderbergh’s.

    Also, am I alone in hoping that Jon Chu does a Step Up 4? Maybe going with the recent craze of reuniting the OG characters? Man I love those movies, and while the dancing is arguably better in 2-3 then in the first, Channing Tatum brings above and beyond the most likable, interesting, and relatable character (see also; FINE) in all three movies. Love to see him back in a 4th helmed by JC.

  34. Shit Mouth hearing that makes me want to just hit the floor and start doing some push ups of my own. If Mrs. O can do it; so can you. That should be like a national pro-exercise slogan right there.

  35. I’m more interested in seeing if Jon M. Chu could become the next Justin Lin like I think he’s capable of then to see him revisit the STEP UP series personally.

  36. Isn’t Justin Lin doing a bang up job of being Justin Lin right now? Why do we need two?

  37. Insurance. Justin Lin’s a valuable natural resource. We can always use more.

  38. Would I be wrong if I say Justin Lin is what Michael Bay’s alternate dimension “good” twin might’ve/should’ve been?

    “It’s also that sports are so intrinsically connected with advertising and merchandising, two things that just really fucking suck about modern life.”

    Mr. Majestyk – OMG. I can’t believe I’m going have to push the button, but you forced my hand.


    We’re capitalists, willing or subconciously submissive, and every moment we’re either getting raped or raping something, even you’re not realizing it.

    All that heavy stuff off the mind, I think the Patriots will win sunday.

  39. As a tyke who had plastic bins filled to the brim with G.I. Joe stuff I must say just the fact that Cobra Commander actually looks like Cobra Commander makes me happy. I hope this is quite enjoyable so we can have a part 3 with Dreadnoks. Dreadnoks rule.

    With this, GHOST RIDER, and THE AVENGERS looking so promising maybe 2012 will be the year of great sequels to mediocre movies. Hopefully this is an actual trend because it certainly bodes well for EXPENDABLES 2.

  40. CJ- Not all the stuff that’s been released has been the full spots, have they? Like I said, the Avenger’s one is just a tease of it, so nerds who don’t watch the Super Bowl usually will probably be tuning in for commercials.

    Mouth- Incidentally, I just watched First Lady (for our Brit friends here, this title is sort of like the American equivalent of “Queen,” except totally different and it actually means something)
    As little of a fuck as I give about the royal family, I will point out that bills in the UK can only be signed into law by the monarch, so she does actually mean something. Michelle Obama seems a super lady and all, but officially, she’s a glorified Goodwill Ambassador, and that’s something Ginger Spice accomplished.

    Who Dares Wins, Motherfucker.

  41. Oh and The Rock really needs to be doing more R-rated stuff. He’s been popping back up on WWE programming for the past year in promoting his upcoming Wrestlemania match with John Cena, and he’s not been making a huge effort to keep within the PG-rating WWE tries to maintain now. When asked about his interactions with Cena by one of the media he said “I’m gonna fuck him him up”, he’s recorded video log promos where he talks about Cena radiating bullshit and has cut live promos where he’s talked about turning things(“Sumbitch”) sideways and sticking them straight up an object of hate’s “candy ass”. This guy WANTS to be R-rated.

  42. My American ears reject all attempts to teach me stuff about how foreign governments & treasuries work. I’ll kindly continue to know all I need to know about the Queen based on cartoon depictions & accidentally glanced headlines at the BBC & Guardian websights.

    I enjoy Super Bowl ads to some extent. They try really hard to be funny or awesome. They’re high budget productions. They inevitably become a significant piece of the cultural moment. One time, a Super Bowl ad got me to be excited for a kewl-looking M. Night Shymalan movie for a few months.

    I overcome this cognitive dissonance & hatred towards advertising for 4 hours, one Sunday a year.

  43. jsixfingers – I meant more in the sense of being another promising up and coming asian director who gained his chops in another genre before bringing his interesting filmastic sensibilities to our beloved action genre and not looking back. We need more guys like that to save us from the post-action funk we’ve been in for over a decade now.

    RRA – I think you’re onto something there. He’s like Bay without the racism; camera operating arthritis and horrible case of ADD.

  44. Mouth-“My American ears reject all attempts to teach me stuff about how foreign governments & treasuries work.”
    Also apparently how physiology works if you think you read with your ears.

  45. marlow – I’m not too sure about THE AVENGERS. I’m still skeptical on that one and I grew up completely enamored with BUFFY and it’s spin-off series. I just don’t think Whedon has the sense of scale & absolute flawlessness that a movie of that epic potential deserves. I think it will be another watchable but otherwise forgettable romp like the rest of the Marvel produced movies outside of the original IRON MAN. I hope I’m proven wrong though; but nothing I’ve seen including the TV spot that’s about to air during the big game have shown me otherwise.

    GR2 and this joint here look really really legit though. I hope EX2 pulls through too but I sincerely doubt it. Since my expectations for that one have completely disappeared within the last month though I really hope I end up somewhat surprised with some of it.

  46. They’re already doing a Step Up 4 without Chu, but the director worked on Chu’s LEGION OF EXTRAORDINARY DANCERS so I think he’s like his protegee or something.

  47. Vern – Well for the sake of you STEP UP afficionados I hope he’s the John Woo to the Shaw Bros. type of protege.

  48. I keep wondering if Freddie Wong’s going to break out into movies one day. I imagine a lot of you round here would be somewhat dismissive of him since a lot of his work is infused with nerd shit, but the guy has a knack for both humour and action, and he clearly loves the genre:


  49. As opposed to being another hack that should’ve stayed in cinematography or assistant director.

  50. Stu – Damn that was actually pretty intense lmao. Poor Hiro from HEROES look alike.

  51. I’m keeping my expectations in check for AVENGERS. Not that I don’t expect to enjoy it a lot, but I do keep in mind that it’s not like a Superhero Team movie hasn’t been done well before, but the Avengers’ specific goal is to have a Good Superhero Team movie that ALSO successfully manages to balance what is essentially 4 lead characters (5 if you count Nick Fury), multiple villains and also sufficiently use a couple of supporting players well with Renner and Johannson. Not that Whedon isn’t probably the best guy for the job, having pretty much based a lot of his career on ensembles and the fantastic, but it’s still a bit of a tall order.

  52. I have no doubt that he’ll come through with the dialogue and character interactions. That’s his bread and butter. I’m more worried about the action because that’s not really his sweet spot especially on this scale. He did decently with SERENITY though so maybe just maybe.

    God knows I could use some great on screen Hulk smashing after being let down by the mediocre action from that last one directed by Louie The Terrier. Say what you want about Ang Lee’s movies but the Hulk Vs. Army in the desert sequence is still one of the most fantastically staged and executed action scenes in any superhero movie.

  53. I’m also looking forward to CABIN IN THE WOODS from him, and I’m not a huge horror guy.

  54. I like horror well enough though I haven’t brought myself to go to the cinema to see one since THE DEVIL’S REJECTS. But I’m definitely there for CABIN. Knowing Joss there has to be some crazy twists to the “cabin horror movie” tropes all over that muthafucka.

  55. Just finished the last season of Buffy (again) with the roommates in preparation for Avengers (also because Buffy is fuckin’ awesome). Agree that expectations should be reigned in until the actual product hits theaters but damn if it isn’t going to be a tricky project to pull off. So much confidence in Whedon’s ability to handle large groups of characters and successfully lend the needed gravitas to each interaction and arc. He’s not perfect but the kind of thing the Avengers should be is exactly what it seems like he’s been waiting his whole career to be given the money to do. It’d be great if he pulled it off. I mean nobody WANTS it to suck right.

  56. jsixfingers – “I mean nobody WANTS it to suck right.”

    Ya damn right; I mean TBH I’ve always been more of a DC fan though I liked Marvel comics well enough (especially the fringe characters like Doctor Strange, Daredevil and Ghost Rider). But this movie NEEDS to be great. If only so that it could set a good precedent for the eventual Justice League and makes WB really believe in not half stepping it with that one like they did when they canned George Miller’s awesome (IMO) sounding take on it cause these internet bitch boys pulled their card.

  57. So…Noam Chomsky has a really good essay on Football and fascism. Ya’ll should google that shit.

    A: Football/Hockey/MMA makes violence into something glorious.
    B: It reinforces jingoism. You love your team because they are from your city. Do not question allegiance.
    C: Hate the “Other” even if they are exactly the same as you, but wearing a different jersey.
    D: Bow to the whole. Chanting as one.

    He says it a lot better, however.

    I dislike sports because they’re boring to watch and the fanaticism creeps me out.

  58. Broddie – I understand what you mean about Whedon handling a huge scale, but in all fairness he’s always been a big-idea guy who was limited by a TV budget (think how much better Adam and the Initiative, or all of season 7 would have been if there was more money to better realize those concepts). Hell, the big stumbling point of the recent Buffy comics is that everything got too epic and outsized compared to the world we got used to seeing on tv. Joss has yet to let me down since 1997 so I feel fairly confident in being excited for a summer movie for the first time in 3 years. Actually, it just occurred to me that the three movies I’m looking forward to the most are all from Team Joss (Much Ado About Nothing is actually # 1. You can’t beat Fred and Wesley as Beatrice and Benedict)

    It’s also my hope that The Avengers marketing team is going The Dark Night/Rises route of showing as little as possible in the trailers because as most people are already sold on the pedigree. They don’t have to sell the best parts of the movie to get a huge opening weekend so why ruin it? They can’t all be The Grey… can they?

  59. *Benedick. Shit.

    Glad I went to college for that.

  60. “It’s also my hope that The Avengers marketing team is going The Dark Night/Rises route of showing as little as possible in the trailers because as most people are already sold on the pedigree.”
    Well they are trying keep who the other villains in the movie are under wraps. Kevin Feige even outright debunked the apparent aliens as being The Skrulls. Plus they’ve always tried to keep some things a surprise with the lead up movies(Fury in Iron Man, Iron Man in Incredible Hulk, Thor’s hammer in Iron Man 2, Hawkeye in Thor), so maybe they’ll keep that up for Avengers.

  61. Tawdry – And I think he’s right, but because I’m the local asshole: remember when he said Obama would never get elected President?

    Broddie – There’s another philosophical difference between Bay and Lin: Bay loves by rape, just beating the audience into fucking submission with his ADD-fueled filmmaking. Even if you’re a “fan” of his crap, for some reason I get the impression he hates you too.

    Now Lin, let’s admit something: technically, FAST & FURIOUS is just as stupid, logic-lapsing, physics-denying as say TRANSFORMERS 3. Lin also appeals to the lowest common demographic (exploding toilets, anybody?). Yet the way he executes, it’s actually fun. Stupid, but fun.

    Yet there’s a flow (or attempt at least) of making love, not rape. By making love, Lin tries to use just barely enough plot (and nothing gratuitously pointless like a John Malkovich appearance) to excuse the setpieces, then he pulls the trigger. All cut together of course with jokes and decent “character” moments. (reminds me of a Clint Eastwood production in that regard.)

    And when he has cars dragging a steel vault all over town like the world’s biggest brick, or the previous FAST picture where he does a TEMPLE OF DOOM-esque sequence in the caves with a parallel car chase….I’m certain Lin is daring the audience to laugh.

    I mean one level, you can take those scenes at face value, or accept them too with a sly silly smirk on your face.

    With Bay, the only look on your face is what you get when you’re in the crowded elevator and just realized somebody farted.

  62. Stu – only thing I know that hasn’t been featured in the trailers yet is that a certain arrogant Anti-Communist villain will be in it apparently. Which is pretty obvious considering how his ending was booked in his last movie.

    ~Of course he was a Nazi, but hey Nazis were Anti-Communist too! They just were also Anti-Everybody Else.

  63. Chomsky’s points about sports, fascism, & submission are easily refuted and/or countered. (For example, all American children’s sports contests and most collegiate sports events end with the kids high-fiving & saying “good game.”) (For another example, American organized sports are explicitly apolitical and extremely popular in arguably the most free nation in the world, thus their supposed fascistic bent is a self-defeating, non-existent concept once the audience exits the stadium. And there’s no serious movement to recruit or mentally readjust sports haters to fall in line with sports fans, unless you’re my girlfriend on Sunday afternoons at the sports bar.) It’s a poor argument that betrays a willfully limited view of a topic on which he’s ill-equipped to bloviate.

    Chomsky’s style often reminds me of the worst of George Will, who likes to posit a hypothetical , assumed truth in the second paragraph, then magically sneakily uses it as an accepted, established truth by the 6th paragraph. Despicable stuff.

    My favorite NBA team to watch this season is Minnesota (a state to which I’ve never been nor have any ties) because the Timberwolves have a dazzling rookie point guard from Spain named Ricky Rubio, a power forward double-double machine from UCLA who now shoots 3s, a Serbian combo center looking for redemption after becoming world-notorious for being overdrafted at #2 overall several years ago, a perpetually overachieving Puerto Rican bowling ball named José Juan “J.J.” Barea, and 3 great swing athletes in Wesley Johnson, Michael Beasley, and Derrick Williams.

    My current favorite individual basketball player plays for Sacramento, and my favorite football players played college ball in California & Florida. I drove through Sacramento once 10 years ago, so maybe that explains my bias.

    I have an allegiance to great athletes who impress me, not to a jersey design or city. And I don’t chant. Chomsky’s arguments could easily extend to fans of musicians, who hum in unison during concerts and become irrationally angry during a media-hyped “beef” or due to poor record sales. Or we could note the bizarre outrage & widely expressed sense of withdrawal, similar to that of a drug addict going cold turkey, when a well-liked television series is canceled. It’s just as absurd as equating sports fans with fascists.

    My local team, the Bobcats, sucks this year because Michael Jordan traded all of our (yes, *our* — there’s my brainwashed tribalism) best players for garbage. I like it when the Carolina Panthers do well, but I’ll just as soon watch a random KC-Oakland regular season game, pulling for neither side, and enjoy it almost as much as a Panthers game.

    Also, the multiculturalism of sports rosters is a wonderful antidote & vaccination against racism. It’s good for the kids.

    Here are some quick b-ball highlights that, to me, rival the best of Jackie Chan:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xps791bZa1k (from just a few days ago)

    And of course, here’s the most poetic and most violent basketballer of our generation, and presumably one of Vern’s favorites:

    How anyone can not enjoy watching Shawn Kemp dunk on people (and celebrate it on the spot) is beyond me.

  64. Mouth – that Kemp video list is bullshit. #1 should’ve been Kemp’s dunk over Gatling. I mean even Gatling was stunned, and was forced to give props and admit he got powned. That’s respect.

  65. I’m probably gonna pass on the super bowl this year

    I mean since all the ads are on the internet anyway, what’s the point if you don’t care about football?

    I’ll be too busy playing Skyrim

  66. oh I forgot to mention that the only reason I watched it last year was because of the Super 8 trailer

  67. So nobody here gives a shit about football?

    Spoiled! That’s what this group is. I remember growing up, the games were terrible, boring blowouts. Last decades, the games mostly have been pretty good, entertaining.

    I mean the Giants upsetting the “perfect” Patriots? You can’t write that script, because everybody would hate it for being so corny.

  68. I should clarify. I gotta be specific when it comes to something as important as the STEP UP saga. STEP UP 4 is directed by Scott Speer, a music video director who also did several episodes of Chu’s LXD webisode thing. While looking up his name I discovered that there’s a short teaser online which looks promisingly ridiculous. There’s a part where they’re dancing on the hoods of bouncing lowriders.

    They change the setting to Miami and have all new characters, so we can hope it’ll be the TOKYO DRIFT of the series.

    Oh shit, now I’m asking for *three* Justin Lins.

    Anyway, Chu is also executive producing, hopefully that means he will give them some advice. From the trailer it looks like he might’ve. And I’m not missing this one in 3D.


  69. Very excited about what appears to be a dance sequence set inside a gallery/museum/art installation, with fully painted humans somehow moving in concert with the exhibits or they *are* the artworks or perhaps they’re distracting security so that a heist can occur in the background or ???

    The visual inventiveness & ridiculousness of STEP UP 4 is indeed promising. I’ll be disappointed if there’s not at least 2 Madd Chadd sequences, though. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7knh7gy6CM

  70. Oh man that looks all kinds of awesome!! Thank you Vern for enjoying the Step Up movies as much as you do. Also not planning on missing this one in 3D. After catching the 3rd one on blu I was kicking myself in the ass for not making it to theaters to see all that crazy shit floating around. Especially in the final number with the LED suits, that was intense just to my regular old eyeballs, throw in some depth and whoa (I imagine).

    This just jumped way up my ‘most anticipated’ list.

  71. Step Up 3D = best 3D ever.

  72. Hey for all you 3D Dance movie fans, check out oscar nominated PINA 3D


    but it might differ from Step Up quite a lot ;)

  73. I admit the trailer looks pretty good, but am I the only one who thinks the killing off of all the Joe’s leaves a bad taste in my mouth? Sure the first movie wasn’t a masterpiece (or particularly that good) but I still think any sequel should at least try to respect the groundwork laid by the last one, instead of Alien3-ing the entire freaking cast!

    I can’t think of any other kid’s movie with the balls to do that and i think it’d be pretty challenging to have a typical summer-movie happy ending knowing that Wayons, Nichols, Quaid, and I guess Brendan Fraser’s cameo character died too. And if the rumors are true of Tatum dying early, I’d say this practically qualifies as a reboot.

  74. Yeah, I agree. It’s one thing to let the characters not appear anymore and let the audience imagine that they are busy with other things, but man, just killing all these guys, who we spent 2 hrs with in part 1, is really pretty annoying.
    But hey, at least they replace them with Johnson and Willis. If they would kill them in the beginning of the sequel and replace them with Marlon Wayans and Channing Tatum, I would be VERY pissed.
    And who knows? Maybe the test audience thinks the same and the movie ends with the reveal that they didn’t die, but instead were hiding in a panic room and planning their defeat of Cobra, not knowing what was already going on in the outside world.

  75. I’m wondering that, too.

    From the first trailer they say something like, all the Joes are dead but there’s none specifically named or shown.

    Wouldn’t be at all surprised if one or two from the first film popped up in cameos or were referenced to as alive or MIA.

    No sense in burning bridges unnecessarily – maybe there’ll be a return for some of the part 1 Joes in part 3.

  76. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 3rd, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Ok, few things.

    1) I disagree with Vern. I think silly action movies can be the best kinds of action movies. A LOT of Jackie Chan’s best work falls into this category – it’s clearly comedic, the acting can be over-the-top, the dialogue corny; but the fights and stunt-work can be fantastic. In fact, I tend to think of films like this one as having been created in the same spirit (albeit not always of the same quality) as some of Jackie Chan’s more comedic works.

    2) I think, though, that if you’re going for it, you HAVE to go for it. Some of Chan’s lines, delivered perfectly straight, have me in stitches. I’ve always slightly resented the film for missing the opportunity to have Chris Eccleston say: “We’re going to eat the Eiffel Tower”. BEST LINE EVER, and they never even used it. What the fuck?

    3) Oh, and Wayans dies at the beginning of “Retaliation”? I’m sold! I’d go more into how horrific this character is in “GI: Joe, Rise of Cobra” but, as much as he’s a horrible black stereotype who practically speaks in jive, doesn’t read, and makes awkwardly-timed sexual advances to every white girl in the film – I was actually impressed, in a bizarre way, that he didn’t end up getting killed just before the third act. (Although I would probably have preferred it if he had been.) Major step forward for race equality in film there, I think.

    And I gotta echo my fellow commentators, above: replacing Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans with Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis? How can ANYBODY have a problem with this?

  77. Speaking of silly, according to a GI Joe wiki, Rock’s character in the original toy line/cartoon/comic/whatever wanted to be a Gourmet Chef, and “was setting to go to France’s Escoffier School by working as a bouncer until a recruiter convinced him the Army can train him just as well. He was appalled by the menu and preparation techniques in the Army kitchen that he requested a transfer. And that is how Roadblock got into infantry.”
    Also, the Jay Z quote may be a reference to how Roadblock would rhyme all the time in the cartoons. Also I sure how Snake Eyes cleared all the electrical wires out of the way when he launched that bike/missile thing:

  78. Now we can all smell what the Ro[adbl]ck is cooking.

  79. I left out an “o”, thus ruining an already unfunny and grammatically complicated joke. Way to go, Majestyk.

  80. Yeah Paul I had heard that Marlon was quite the Tom in Sommers’ movie from folks who saw it. So I think it is encouraging that they took a borderline racoon and replaced him with an authoritative and respectable black man this time around. Also I wouldn’t be too concerned about the movie lacking any of that Jackie Chan style wit in favor of more tongue in cheek winking at the audience type of deliveries. Bruce as we all know is the KING of deadpan when it comes to action movie sarcasm and I doubt they won’t capitalize on one of his greatest strengths in this one.

  81. Though before it’s mentioned cause I know it’s coming; I will concede and say that the cholesterol line is definitely not a good example of them doing that. But I’ll forgive that till I see the actual movie at least.

  82. Don’t worry Majestyk it’s all in the effort. If it’s any consolation I’d have given that post a point had we had some type of point system over here. Which I’m actually kinda thankful that we don’t since every other board has one so it helps this one keep it’s authentic individuality intact by not being another clone :)

  83. Majestyk- You could have went with “What the ‘Block is cookin'”

  84. I’ll actually defend Marlon Wayans in the first one – he was an odd casting choice to say the least but he was way better than expected and nowhere near as Jar Jar Binks-y as I had heard or feared. Sure he was goofy but he was the comic relief and they made it clear in the movie he was actually a competent soldier/pilot. He’s the one who saves America at the end after all.

    Paul – I liked that Nichols was his love interest and the subject of race never came up, even though I guess it made some people uncomfortable; plus I don’t recall him hitting on any other white women in the movie (maybe he did, again it was kinda forgettable). I also don’t remember them making a point out of him not reading, but I don’t recall Channing Tatum reading much in the first one either. You sure you don’t have him confused with Mudflapp and Skiddz?

  85. Mouth, you’re usually someone I agree with but your response to Chomsky amounts to little more than, “I don’t have this fascist loyalty to a sports team so he must be wrong!”

    As someone who has read a lot of Chomsky, however, I’m looking forward to GI Rock Joe 2.

  86. The “Destro’s scottish, so naturally he programs his voice commands to only respond to gaelic” thing is pretty dumb though.

  87. Fwiw, Casey, I studied the best of Chomsky’s work in my Honors Linguistics class in college. He’s a superb scientist, a great incidental socio-anthropologist, and a pioneer in multiple fields of study.

    This thread spurred me to read & reread a lot of Chomsky just now, which has made for a great Friday night, obviously. I’ve confirmed that I treasure his existence and his voice, but much of his political musings leaves something to be desired. He often recalls or alludes to some nonexistent Platonic ur-ideal of various socially accepted facts & terminologies that he finds faulty in their current practical form, like when he states that capitalism has never existed in practice or when he makes some pedantic point in order to tear down any assumptions or points of conventional wisdom (concepts which he professes to loathe unconditionally, a loathing which is good for theoretical work and most journalism, but not productive when trying to reach a practical-minded audience).

    He likes to preface many of his essays & interview answers with nitpicky semantic arguments, a behavior which has the unfortunate side effect of making him appear willfully out of touch with his fellow man. This actually doesn’t bother me. In fact, some of my favorite philosophers & writers do the same thing, but I think it reveals Chomsky’s tendency to argue from the perspective that everything is broken, or problematic, or removed from an ideal that only his version of reality would maintain if only his peers weren’t all failures & ignoramuses & pawns.

    Chomsky dabbles in contentious minutiae, then converts his micro-arguments into a diagnosis of some problem that plagues a huge portion of humanity. His writing sometimes appears to be angry old fogeyism disguised as intellectualism. Sometimes that’s a good thing, and I often agree with his points, but his vehement insistence on his weakest arguments unfortunately brings down the heft of his entire [recent] oeuvre, linguistics innovations excepted.

  88. But I could be wrong, and someday his political rants will facilitate different revelations & reactions from me. I’m still not convinced about his statements on football and such. He calls sports an “example of the indoctrination system” and “training for subordination to power.” Someone could [and has] easily apply similar arguments in an evisceration of

    -religious faith (promotes anti-intellectualism, submission, revering false idols, blindly giving money to a huge scam for no personal reward),

    -political junkieism (millions of Americans in their la-z-boys watching cable news daily, reading biased blogs, arguing with their monitors about “the other side,” taking pleasure in the failures of “the other side,” failing to recognize opponents as fellow Americans with common interests, blindly devoted to the righteousness of their side’s agenda, even using football metaphors to cheer against the opposition),

    -education institutions (classroom model resembling a fascist dictatorship, as a teacher commands a group of naïve students, potentially brainwashing them, forcing them to compete for A’s, eliminating the weak with F’s),

    -any potentially competitive forum (actively supporting Vern while irrationally disparaging Roger Ebert or whoever as the opposition, leaving mean comments on a blog with whose publisher you disagree, buying this product because the other product’s makers offend you because of what you saw in an advertisement, etc.)

    It’s too easy to argue that this stuff isn’t much different, psychologically or socially, or any less despicable than the act of cheering for one sports team over another, and someone could dress up those arguments in the trappings of detached sociological observation & intellectualism (as we do with movie discussions on the internet everyday). All these things display as much in the way of fascism, submission, irrational group cohesion, and subhuman behavior as the NFL, as far as I can tell, minus the literal physical tackling (which does happen in Italian & Korean politics, I understand).

    The difference is that sports contests are supposedly inherently meaningless in the grander scheme of things, or even in minor daily interactions too, while elections and education and going to church are all of course Important Things with real consequences for the world. But I maintain my argument that pro sports help little kids become better people, help eliminate racism, and make people happy. Is there no credit to be given for the indoctrination of physical fitness & racial harmony?

    Chomsky seems to think sports can only be a diverting of intellectual resources & analytic skill among smart-ish people who ideally should be focused only on Important Things. He won’t admit that sports fandom can be one of the practices, or vices if he prefers, of a well-rounded person’s mental well-being, a form of honing that analytic skill he recognizes in statistics gurus. He has yet to admit that sports fandom is to life as reading poetry is to understanding psychology, as knowing how to play chess is to preparation for understanding geopolitical affairs, as sports coaching maneuvers are to Game Theory.

    Fandom’s benefits are numerous. Sports fans’ happiness might not be fully genuine or meaningful, especially if it’s based wholly on sports, but it’s not achieved in a subversive or evil or creepy manner as some non-sports fans seem to claim.

  89. From the Rock to Chomsky. Love this websight.

  90. while we are talking dancing and action filmatism, somebody has to get this bloke in a movie pronto:


    yes, it’s real. dubstep is the parkour of our dancing, or something. plus: 31 million hits in 5 months and the number one youtube video ever in dozens of countries, like the entire middle east?

    so one talented dude with a camera on a tripod mints cultural gold one lazy september 2011 afternoon, in random nowhere, suburban atlanta

    i love the internet age

  91. #1 – Most Subscribed (All Time) – Tunisia
    #2 – Most Subscribed (This Month) – Tunisia
    #2 – Most Subscribed (This Week) – Tunisia
    #1 – Most Viewed (All Time) – Tunisia
    #15 – Most Viewed (This Month) – Tunisia

    all some 30 yo dubstep dude in suburban atlanta. who just joined youtube on sept 30 2011

    maybe he has more influence in tunis than the the us state department

    i love the internet age

  92. G’Day! Outlawvern,
    This question may be a little off-topic, lets think about it for a moment. his coaching career mirrors that of the cheat bill belicheck. he coached in cleveland for 5 yrs and lead the browns to the playoffs once. he goes to the patriots and leads them to 3 super bowl wins. he is considered a genius by many until his cheating problem. people conveniently forget this and his coaching stop for the browns. he’s considered a hall of fame coach. george seifert lead the niners to 2 super bowl victories in his 10 yrs. i know people will say ” bill walsh built the house” but he maintained its structure kept it looking good. plus he gt steve young his elusive ring w/out joe montana. then he had 3 forgetable yrs coaching the carolina panthers. i’m just saying his name needs to be mentioned.
    Kindest Regards

  93. The Rock apparently has “friends in high places” that let know about Osama’s death before anyone else:
    Clearly, his acting career is just a elaborate cover for him being a special operative. GI JOE: RETALIATION isn’t a movie, it’s a documentary.

  94. The Rock is secretly part of the Illuminati

  95. This made me think of a topic I wanted to share here. I get where Vern is coming from on badass action vs. ridiculous action. God knows I love some badass cinema. But my true love and raison d’etre in film is completely ridiculous action. I want a movie to show things that absolutely could not happen in any fashion in real life, but make it look real.

    So I love SHOOT ‘EM UP, I love LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, I love the later FAST AND FURIOUS chases. Make it fucking crazy. Jackie Chan is my dream come true because he does it. Nobody really fights with a ladder. He throws that in there because it’s awesome, despite being relatively ineffective. I always say AWESOME is the number one quality a movie needs to have. It doesn’t have to make sense if it is awesome. I know I appreciate the Hong Kong style because they also don’t care about making sense, or tonal consistency but that’s another topic.

    Now awesome can be awesome dramatic exploration or awesome comedy or awesome romance (THE NOTEBOOK is brutally awesome.) But in terms of spectacle, I’d rather see Vin Diesel drift under a flaming tanker than Jason Bourne carefully, accurately take down an assassin. I’ll enjoy the latter, but it’s not my first love.

    It bothers me that so much of Hollywood relies on “making sense.” It really stifles creativity. It’s nonsense too. The idea that Jason Bourne can jump through windows and fight opponents because he’s trained doesn’t make sense either. You still die when you jump through a window. Somehow that’s not past our threshold though.

    I’m most conflicted over THE MATRIX. THE MATRIX is specifically saying, “Okay, we’ll give you awesome unrealistic action, but only if it’s sci-fi. You’re not allowed to do this in the ‘real world’ but it’s okay in this matrix.” And you saw when other movies used the wirework, people complained that they can’t defy physics in the real world.

    This has escalated to the point of shaky cam that most audiences accept as making the action real. If the camera’s steady, no one can survive that but if it shakes, we’re watching real documentary style action, man, it’s real. Anyone see SAFE HOUSE this weekend? :(

    I don’t want to see any less gritty badass cinema. I guess I’m more frustrated with all the explanations added to stories to justify them. Like the 90 minutes of exposition in TRANSFORMERS 3. Dude, it’s already about robots from space. Just go with it.

    Is there a legitimate discussion to be had here? Appreciating over the top action versus serious gritty action? The good news is we can have both. I’m just feeling a lack of love for the former. Maybe it’s because I just saw SAFE HOUSE. :(

    But damn, G.I. JOE 2 looks awesome. So are Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans just killed off for The Rock and Bruce?

  96. Interesting stuff Fred.

    I think there’s been a huge trend towards procedural, “realistic” action recently, which you are alluding to. For example when a car falls off a cliff in Drive, it notably DOES NOT immolate into a giant fireball. Or consider how literal and didactic they are with hiding the bag, faking out Chigurh in the motel, etc, in No Country For Old Men.

    But this stuff isn’t REALLY more realistic or less escapist than a Matrix or Crouching Tiger. I mean when the car falls, that’s not really [actor’s name deleted] in it, it’s a stunt double. Maybe [actor’s name] had already cashed his check and was filming an entirely other movie while you are watching his body not burn in a scientifically unrealistic explosion. You never know because the business of the movie is to totally immerse you in its own reality as opposed to yours. It could be CG, it could be a walks out of an interior shot and the exterior shot is of a different building in a different place, but you are made to think it is the same place. You can watch something like an entire lifetime over the course of two hours, or the Earth’s creation in five minutes.

    To say that a particular approach that has emerged as productive and exciting in action cinema (this gritty/realistic thing as you put it) is somehow less awesome than more ridiculous action strikes me as reductive, and not being true to your own point that awesomeness can take many forms.

    Put another way, the scale of ridiculous/realistic between one movie and another is probably quite trivial compared to the difference between, say, a movie and real life. Furthermore, where there IS a difference, it’s probably based less on how “plausible” the film’s events may or may not be, and more on if that movie is able to access some primal artistic “truth”.

  97. Also:

    Also there is the matter of context. In a Transformers movie, EVERYTHING is so cartoony and over the top that it all seems really dull and boring. But Children of Men begins with stretches of believable shit that draws you into a certain level of reality. Then when they have to flee the farm by the light of dawn, you are so immersed in the authenticity of the movie’s respect for its own physics that it’s the most desperate, white-knuckled shit you’ve seen (in action cinema, up to 2006, ever, agreed?). But if that sequence showed up in a Jackie Chan movie you would say “are you fucking kidding me, nothing just happened for like six minutes?”

    Or another movie that I really like, Kung Fu Hustle, starts in some semi-realistic territory and then continually mindfucks your expectations of the physical laws of the universe it inhabits. This gives the ridiculousness a helluva lot more impact in my opinion. (Unfortunately I think this one blew its wad early with the guitar duel, and can’t maintain the moment-to-moment sense of discovery in the third act).

    So again I think you put it in terms that are a bit too black and white. But you know, after I saw The Devil’s Rejects and Attack the Block last night, I’m TOTALLY in the mood for that ubermovie shit and can feel ya nonethelesss. I wish I could watch Enter the Void for the first time, and that it would be really entertaining the whole way through..

  98. Thank you, Renfield. You articulated it better than me. All movies are an illusion, even “realistic” ones. That’s why it bothers me that some illusions are discounted.

    I love DRIVE and NO COUNTRY. I don’t want any fewer of those. I just want to live in a world where SHOOT ‘EM UP is accepted as well and artists can be creative if they want to do something wild. To get broader, something probably happened between the ’80s and ’00s to make people reject the wild ridiculous actioners.

    Especially since by nature, Action is a genre where people are going to survive ridiculous violence, there should be some flexibility. I love the genre and I want to see it explored creatively. I hope GI JOE 2 is even half as awesome as STEP UP 3D. That was a movie that put pure creativity above all else and I love to see that in movies.

  99. I got you, there’s this whole contingent that needs to know why they can fly in Crouching Tiger, why women are infertile in Children of Men, etc. You went to this movie to be immersed in the movie’s reality, why is there this urge to reject it?

    I read this REALLY insane user review on Netflix of Kill the Irishman. You won’t believe this shit:

    “Let me start by saying that in general, I hate movies. Hollywood puts out so much crap. And I continue to torture myself by getting all hyped up about a movie and being totally let down by a piece of crap when it finally hits the theater (Battle: Los Angeles, True Grit(2011), Transformers, etc.). So imagine my surprise when this movie delivered exactly what it promised in the trailer! Great (although typical) cast, typical 70’s story line, it was 1970’s tacky perfection. I loved every minute of it. As for the effects, well yes, there were lots of car bombs – this is based on reality, and there really were that many car bombs that year. I didn’t notice any green screen, and of course there will be CGI when blowing up an actor. I’ve seen people criticize the dialog, saying how corny and unrealistic it is, but many lines spoken by the main character came almost verbatim from newsreels from the time period. It seems cliche now because the story is based on the origin of the cliche. Just allow yourself to float back to 1971 and forget modern times, and everything will be ok. If you’re a fan of flicks like Boondock Saints and Snatch, then you’ll probably love Kill the Irishman.”

    I just don’t get it. Starts it off by saying HE HATES MOVIES as if it’s to reassure the reader: don’t worry dude, I know how you feel! Erm then there’s the weird unholy trinity of Battle Los Angeles, Transformers, and….True Grit???

    THEN there’s this weird defensive “don’t worry, the number of car bombs is the exact number of car bombs that occurred in real life. You can breathe a sigh of relief because I know a fictional number of car bombs is exactly what we all HATE about movies.”

    AND THEN HE plugs the Boondock Fucking Saints as one of two facets of how movies can succeed.

  100. Fred – as an anime fan, I agree completely

    anime doesn’t even TRY to be realistic, even something semi-grounded like Cowboy Bebop still has crazy sci fi stuff going on all the time, but that’s a big part of what I love about anime, the feeling that ANYTHING can happen at any time

    my favorite anime franchise of all time, Read or Die, has plot elements that are completely preposterous and not even explained very well, if at all, I can imagine it actually pissing off a lot of people for those reasons

    but that’s part of what I love about it, you’re thrown into this world that for the most part resembles our world except for all these strange things going on, but to the characters it’s normal, so they never feel the need to explain shit “to the audience” like so many things in America feel the need to do, you’re the guest in this world, so it’s all gonna seem weird to you

  101. Yes, Renfield, it’s the explanation and that’s where “plots” like Transformers get out of hand.

    My favorite movie of 2011 RUBBER says it best: no reason. And it’s hilarious because he goes from saying E.T. gets left on earth for no reason (it’s true because it just needs to happen for the movie) to saying THE PIANIST lived alone and starved for no reason (ignoring the whole true story of it, but also sort of making an equally relevant movie point.)

    But more than either/or (as you suggested, I don’t want to be black and white), I’d just like to come up with a language for the discourse. And CROUCHING TIGER is an interesting example, because you CAN sell that to Americans as long as it’s Ang Lee and artistic fantasy metaphor. But don’t let Jet Li fly around. He needs to be on the street with DMX fighting for real.

    Perhaps better references than SHOOT ‘EM UP would be HUDSON HAWK, LAST ACTION HERO and TRUE LIES. Of those three, only one was a hit and it was sort of sly how James Cameron delivered a comedy in the guise of his usual blow ’em up (maybe it’s equally problematic due to the mixed reaction that followed.) Anyway, I think this community appreciates the madness of HAWK and may appreciate parts of LAH warts and all.

    Although that Netflix review sort of shows it takes all kinds. They’re not just making movies for fans (as the struggle of SCOTT PILGRIM and such shows). They have to please the haters and all the folks in between. So that probably leads to the majority of “realistic” movies because they don’t want to stray too far into fringe fan territory. I can buy that. So I’ll try to take this to the level of Vern’s board of die hard badass cinema lovers. Can WE as a group find room for the G.I. JOEs, the SCOTT PILGRIMs, SHOOT EM UPs and the DRIVEs, NO COUNTRYs and PARKERs?

  102. Griff, your post showed up after I was typing mine. Interesting subject to bring up. I can appreciate that aesthetic of anime. I have a hard time with anime for other reasons I don’t entirely understand. I just know I can sort of like PONYO or SPIRITED AWAY but not PORCO ROSSO, CAGLIOSTRO and definitely not AKIRA, GHOST IN THE SHELL or those tentacle schoolgirl ones.

    I kinda wish I did like anime because there’s so much of it I can enjoy, but it’s definitely not the fantasy/reality issue of it.

  103. Fred – have you at least tried Cowboy Bebop? I can’t imagine someone not being able to enjoy that one, that’s the one anime that even many haters of anime enjoy

  104. “tentacle girl” ones? Surely you don’t mean the brilliant, devastating ELFEN LIED?

    Griff knows his shit with the anime, given shoutouts for Read or Die, Paranormal Agent, Fooly Cooly etc. This is the upper-tier stuff as far as I’m concerned. If I had never seen any anime, the Read or Die OVA would have hooked me for life. What did you think of Death Note? I thought it sort of disappeared up it’s own butt after a while, but still a unique and amazing work?

    And Master Watanabe… I hear he had trouble funding both of his series to completion in the native land. What’s up with that shit?

  105. “Paranormal Agent” *cough* *cough* it’s Paranoia Agent…

    and wow, finally someone else here has seen Read or Die *high fives* have you ever seen the follow up R.O.D The TV? you simply MUST if you liked the OVA

    and yeah Death Note kind of lost the plot for me too, I don’t even remember a whole lot about it about it after you know who dies (of course granted it’s been about 4 years since I’ve seen it), it’ll be interesting and really bizarre if Shane Black gets to make his movie of it

  106. Exactly, he dies, show never recovers. Some of the earlier plot twists though, that stuff is like Christopher Nolan cubed.

    I say Paranormal Agent because I have had Paranormal Activity on the mind recently? I dunno.

  107. Griff, I did not see Cowboy Bebop. I will definitely make that my last chance make or break anime viewing. Actually just hearing about Read or Die sounds pretty awesome too.

    Renfield, I was referring to hentai or any anime of schoolgirls getting raped by tentacles. Somehow I’ve come across so much of it I imagine it’s more than a niche in the anime world.

  108. Personally I do not really care for anime, but NINJA SCROLL was pretty cool..

  109. PARANOIA AGENT; great stuff. Also PAPRIKA. Shame about yer man Satoshi Kon dying so young.

  110. absolutely, his death was a tragedy

  111. I don’t buy anime at all often, despite liking a number of films and series over the years, because it’s rather expensive over here due to the lack of demand, and compounding the “value for money” aspect is the tendency for anime series to feel very padded at times. Like EVANGELION was a show about giant mechs fighting monsters, but it just seemed like HALF of that show was dedicated to the fucking main character sitting having nonsensical daydreams brought on by his daddy issues and general angst(and I don’t just mean the last two episodes. There were interludes earlier in the season where he’s sitting on a train and just having an angsty inner monologue). Anime can take a story that could be told in 10 minutes and stretch it out to 30 with overlong dramatic pauses, excessive focus on imagery/establishing the setting, and two characters pussyfooting around their feelings for each other with melodramatic conversations. So I like stuff like OUTLAW STAR, GUNSMITH CATS and COWBOY BEBOP for actually having plots that develop. What’re the recent anime shows that are well paced and story driven, rather than plodding and “emotion”-driven?

  112. I recommend WWE Raw and Smackdown. Chikara is good, too, if you can ever get to a live show.

    Also, Ring Ka King.

  113. An anime many might enjoy is Gankutsuou, easily my favorite adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo. Despite taking serious liberties with the story, it manages to be more faithful than the movies, simply by virtue of having 26 half hour episodes in which to tell it. Crazy and unique animation as well. Possibly crippling flaws towards the end of the series, but worth my while nonetheless. Might scratch that story-driven itch.

    Also you should just torrent this stuff. Get stuff that is fan-subbed, I believe it is legal for you to download it? At least the downloads claim they are, saying “If you paid for this you were ripped off!”

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