And You Thought It Was Safe(?)


Super (2010)
Judges say: meh, it's not that bad. 6.5 for effort.

Judges say: meh, it’s not that bad. 6.5 for effort.

Now we come to Super, written and directed by James Gunn. A “dark comedy” apparently full of stunning, satirical insight. Or so you’d think if you believe what you read. I believe in using past experience as a guide. Some people might consider that an inexcusable bias…but some people need to check the tree in their own eye before they start bitching about the splinters in mine. And experience told me to stay the hell away from James Gunn after 2004’s Dawn of the Dead remake, which he wrote. No, I haven’t forgotten. Yes, I’m still holding that against him. Is that fair…? Probably not. But it’s not about what’s fair: it’s about what I want.

I wanted a cast of characters I could give a crap about, but Dawn of the Dead‘s bunch felt more like the subjects of someone’s half-assed social experiment. We were so far removed from them the script had to work overtime to characterize them through clunky, expository dialogue (the laziest kind of characterization around…apart from voice-over narration). So I went into Super with serious trepidations. I don’t watch The Office, so Rainn Wilson held no appeal for me. And sure, Ellen Page was in Inception…but before that, she played Shadowcat in X-Men: The Last Stand. Liv Tyler is…Liv Tyler. And Kevin Bacon is in serious danger of being typecast as The Villain.

Still, the things that annoyed me about Super have proved to be crowd-pleasing. So I once again get to be the asshole in the room who made the mistake of reading comic books back in the 1990s, when Super‘s pet issues were common storytelling currency and everybody took a whack at them (with a pipe wrench) sooner or later. I’ve seen this movie called “perhaps the definitive take on self-reflexive superheroes,” once again revealing film critic’s monumental ignorance of pretty much everything that doesn’t involve a current celebrity. Continue reading

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Armageddon (1998)

Michael Bay has survived every epithet in the Movie Critic’s Mean Word Handbook. We’ve called him a “hack” and a “bullshit artist.” We’ve called him “the Devil,” “the Antichrist,” and even honored him with the title “American Uwe Boll.” All of these characterizations are false, missing the quintessence of Bay. In their rush to (rightly) condemn the man’s aesthetic failings, critics have miss the essential and obvious point: Like a great many evil things, Bay is first and foremost a creature of the late 1990s, an artistic distillation of that time, with all the glory and the horror that implies. Continue reading



The Incredible Hulk (2008)

I’ll say this: it was better than I expected…if only because my expectations were so low. This sequel was long in coming, and all its flaws flow from the fact that no one (apart from me, it seems) enjoyed its predecessor.

Well, I hope you’re all happy. This movie is, in almost every way, a repudiation of Ang Lee’s Hulk, a one-eighty degree turn that falls all over itself to push all our Pavlovian buttons and make us squeal. Like a pile of red meat delivered to your door, it looks good but it’ll plug you up like a clogged septic tank, stuffing you with meaningless noise, flashing lights and disjointed images…much like the way Dr. Bruce Banner describes his experience as the Hulk: “It’s like someone poured ten gallons of acid into my brain.” I don’t know who Bruce is getting it from. Around these parts, you can get the same effect with a fraction of that dosage. Costs about as much as a movie ticket anyway (less if your date wants popcorn–mine, fortunately, did not) and you can enjoy it in the privacy of your own home, away from other people’s children, comments, loud laughter, and ill-timed cellphone usage. {More}