Month: July 2008
Robot Chicken is the completely irreverent and irrelovent television show on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. It usues a stop-motion animation to create some of the wackiest “skits”. Created by Seth Green and Matthew Cenreich, the show also has a weird twist: they use toys! Last year, George Lucas allowed the mad geniuses of Chicken to create a special half-hour Star Wars episode for the 30th annivarsary of the franchise. And all hail the DVD release! The crude jokes don’t last long, sometimes unlike the other episodes, but make sure the kiddies don’t watch it. From a Yo’ Mama fight between father and son to a show that is The Empire Strikes Back on ice, the guys create some of the funniest jokes about the space opera ever. The special features are pretty good, including an audio commentary of-sorts, trailers, a doc on the production design, alternate audio, a making of doc, and a photo gallery.
One of my favorite summer films so far is Get Smart. It’s funny, action packed, and all together great. With great acting from Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson, and Alan Alda, it’s probably the funniest film this summer that not only you, but your kids can also enjoy. In a couple scenes, Masi Oka (Heroes) and Nate Torrence make appearances as the geeks behind the cool gadgets worthy of the 007 films. They play Bruce and Lloyd, respectively. Bruce and Lloyd are working on an invisibility cloak. The cloak, of course, gets stolen. It is stolen by a voluptuous Maraguayan (well, I guess creativity is a plus) “agent”. She needs to rescue her father!!! Apparently, El Presidente captured him fifteen years ago and won’t let him go until he gets the cloak. Meanwhile, the nerds are trying to get dates and beat the CIA to the cloak. A bad excuse for a comedy spin off. The jokes mostly fall flat and the story is extremely predictable. Nate Torrence and Masi Oka manage to be moderately funny. The bland DVD features include a Behind the Scenes Doc on the Gadgets and on the Hair Removing Gadget and “Bruce and Lloyd’s Confessionals”.
This week, I am introducing a new kind of post called “Take One”. Today, I am discussing audio commentaries that are featured on DVDs. Some audio commentaries I like; the ones that are made by intelligent sounding filmmakers and actors. Like the one provided on Across the Universe, which had director Julie Taymore and music producer Elliot Goldenthal discussing the film. Both were articulate and enjoyable to hear. Then there are commentaries that have fun people offering tidbits, like the cast of The Office on the Season 2 and 3 DVDs. However, I have heard some bad commentaries before; Susan Stroman offered a dull commentary for the film adaptation of the 2001 musical The Producers. Not only is her voice unpleasant to hear, it also sounds like she is reading from a paper in a dull monotone. Please leave your opinons on audio commentaries in the comment box.
Personally, I don’t care for comic book films. I didn’t rush to the theater to see Spider-Man, Iron Man, Superman, or any other Man. I did see them, but I didn’t hype them anymore then they already had. I think films in that genre tend to be too formulaic. But I think this film kind of breaks a barrier between the genres of comic book and action/drama. But I have other thoughts for the newest Batman film, The Dark Knight. (As much of a hubbub that Heath Ledger’s performance is getting, I refuse to sing praises just about him. He wasn’t exactly the best actor in the world. Or even in the last ten years.) The Dark Knight picks up at a bank, where robbers wearing clown masks rob a bank that holds money that has been laundered by the mob. As they get the job done, they start to whisper rumors about the man who hired them, some “clown” named the Joker. As time goes by, each of the robbers kill one another on their orders. One of these masked fiends is the Joker. With a maniacal laugh, Heath Ledger, who was nominated for a “ground breaking” role in Brokeback Mountain, brings shivers down to my spine. When he utters “Why so serious?”, I believe that that scene may become a classic scene of suspense and of horror. His Joker doesn’t really have a back story, per se, but he does, however, tell different tales to different people about how he got his grin like scars. Ledger’s Joker makes Jack Nicholson look like merely a sweet father. Christian Bale returns as Batman, a job that, judging by this film, bodes well for him. Although his Bruce Wayne is smart and intelligent looking and reasonably realistic, his voice for Batman is amazingly annoying. He sounds like he was being throttled and kept talking anyways. The hand-to-hand fighting is very exciting. But the film has too many plots (Joker will blow up hospital if he doesn’t get what he wants. Joker will blow up ships if the ships don’t blow each other up. Two Face will kill people because he’s mad at them fr not saving his fiancee. Joker blows up police station. Joker blows up several other things.) The film has enough plots to fill a seven episode mini-series. Aaron Eckhart and Maggie Gyllenhaal join the cast as Harvey Dent/Two Face and Rachel Dawes, respectively. Harvey is the new D.A. for Gotham City, a very driven character who is very much in love with attorney Rachel, Batman’s ex-flame. Both are pretty well suited for the job. When Rachel dies in one of the Joker’s terrible tricks, Harvey goes on a rampage, to put it frankly. The film does have its merits: it deals with whether vigilante justice morals. The make up for the Joker and Two Face is excellent. Really creepy images of the Joker have been on the Internetand in magazines and to see it on a huge screen can bring out some of your greatest fears. Two Face, a character we haven’t really heard of because of the speculation concerning the Joker, has a face that is charred and fleshy, as if the right side of his face was the main course at a Fourth of July BBQ. Another part that I like is the character of Harvey Dent/Two Face. It deals with choices. You see that Dent has to flip a coin to decide if he is going to do harm, which I think is very meaningful (though it was in the original comics). The movie does have a few funny one liners, primarily made by the Joker. The inventor of all of Batman’s cool gadgets is played by Morgan Freeman. The relationship between the two is very reminiscent of the relationship between Sean Connery’s James Bond and Desmond Llewelynd’s Q. The movie is overlong, about two and a half hours. The film is pretty good, but long.
A billionaire and a mechanic become roommates when both become cancer stricken. During the time spent together in the room, the two become warm friends. The billionaire is played by Jack Nicholson; the mechanic is played by Morgan Freeman. When Carter (Freeman) makes a theoretical “bucket list” (list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket”), Edward gets his hands on it and decides to make it a reality. Oh, the places they go, from China to Egypt, from Tokyo to Africa, and experience new things. From being complete strangers who share merely a room together, they become the best of friends. Jack is great as always. Morgan Freeman narrates the story with the same great voice that narrated March of the Penguins. The ending of the film is very surprising, but I won’t spoil it. A very sweet, maybe even bittersweet film. The film showcases the struggles of people with cancer, sometimes in a graphic way (surgery scene for both Freeman and Nicholson), but also in subtle ways (Freeman’s family worries about his health). Very good, but don’t be surprised if you have to grab a few Kleenex.