And You Thought It Was Safe(?)


Django Unchained (2012)

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The Avengers (2012)

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

It’s been a long, strange trip, reviewing all these Captain America films. So, with a heavy heart, I laid my seven bucks down and sat through the sixth one I’ve seen this year: Captain America: The First Avenger. How was it? Ask the hideous talking head below what he thought.



Unbreakable (2000)
The word of the day is "Parallelism."

The word of the day is “Parallelism.”

had a lot on its shoulders, as evidenced by the ubiquitous banner headline every trailer, poster and DVD box still sport. “From the Visionary Director of The Sixth Sense,” it said, before adding “M. Night Shyamalan” almost as an afterthought, since no one really knew how to pronounce his name correctly in the Year 2000.

Fewer still knew that Sixth Sense was Shyamalan’s third film, the penultimate flick in his autobiographical period. All artists go through one, especially since its propagandists managed to make the dictum, “Write what you know,” synonymous with common sense. They forgot to add the necessary corollary: “The more you learn, the more you’ll be able to write about.”

Night’s first film, Praying With Anger, was about coming to terms with his heritage as an Indian kid raised in Philadelphia, watching baseball and eating hotdogs. Wake the Dead was about growing up Catholic, and going to school with the penguins in true Blues Brother’s style (though not nearly as awesome). The Sixth Sense was about Night’s childhood as a great big scaredy-pants wimp, afraid of Stephen King’s old bogey, The Thing Behind The Closed Door. Shyamalan just painted the doorknob red. Continue reading



The Spirit (2008)
See? Isn't it pretty?

See? Isn’t it pretty? Doesn’t that distract from how empty it all is?

You know what’s really hard? Trying to tell when Frank Miller’s kidding. Does he take us all for suckers? Is his latter-day career just an extended practical joke? Or – like all good artists stewing in their own pretensions – does he take himself and his work 100%, no-holds-barred seriously? Honestly, Frank…why so serious?

The Spirit is one of those movies that got lost in the shadow of that other superhero flick from the summer of 2008. And that’s really too bad. Sooner or later, someone’s going to “rediscover” it and label it a cult classic. We’ve got to be prepared for that, and prepare to fight against it, because this movie is everything hateful and wrong about modern superhero stories. Continue reading



Iron Man 2 (2010)
Rhode Island Red

Tony, sporting the Rhode Island Red

Given that Iron Man 2‘s already a Designated Hit of the Year, nothing I can say will make the least bit of impact on the film’s bottom line. I find that rather freeing, because I don’t have to pretend the film is some amazing stand-out example of its genre. It’s not bad, but it’s still a fuzzy-headed rehash of tropes that should be familiar to anyone who’s watched a superhero sequel. The Villain Hypertrophy, the mawkish sentiment, the origin of A Sidekick, the Hero striving against his Fate, trying to shore up his Legacy against Death’s inevitable encroachment while simultaneously learning how to play well with others – it’s all here. And it’s all so mind-numbingly safe I had to slap myself with a Netflix envelope just to recall why I was here. Continue reading



Iron Man (2008)

In another unexpectedly pleasant surprise, Iron Man turned out to be perhaps the strongest of this passing summer’s superhero movies. I say “perhaps” because, while it lacks The Dark Knight‘s length and The Incredible Hulk‘s emotional sequel-baggage, Iron Man never rises to anything other than the low-tide line of my expectations. Movies are like that these days. I’m spoiled. We’ve all become spoiled by the expectation of eye-gouging special effects. I’ve believed a man could fly all my life; seeing it no longer impresses me. Much.

This movie impressed me…but not with its showy, summer-movie action scenes. No. Instead, Iron Man outflanked me, scaling the battlements of my cold, critic’s heart by reminding me why I used to drag my ass out of bed a six a.m. on a Sunday morning to watch the Iron Man cartoon that played on the Fox affiliate of my youth. Why, in other words, I liked Iron Man in the first place. {More}