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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cody's Film Review: Prometheus

Throughout his entire career Ridley Scott has been criticized as a director who cares for vision over characters and plot. I have always thought of him as a more talented Brian De Palma, the king of all style and no substance. The main difference between these two directors is Scott has a unique vision that when rendered becomes ground breaking and changes the face of cinema. De Palma looks more to the past and takes from the old masters of classic film. Ridley Scott has made about 30 films and only 4 are good and 2 are great, and like Prometheus, were science fiction films. It's a rare thing when a visionary director and a good script come together and a great film is made. I thought Ridley Scott's career like many past visionary directors (Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam) suffered with the advent of computer technology. These directors need to be reeled in and instead of finding a creative way to put their visions on screen they just put whatever their hearts desired with shitty CGI. For the first time in 15 years Scott shot a visually stunning and flawless film, it's just too bad the script got in the way of making his 3rd great film. First off it's on par with Alien and Blade Runner visually, but not as ground breaking set and design wise. I saw this film in IMAX 3-D and although the 3-D wasn't necessary, the IMAX experience encompassed me. This is what every CGI film should look like, there is nothing half-assed about it, and the whole point of using computers is not to see the computers! I still can't wrap my head around why this film and The Dark Knight cost 130-140 million to make and Indiana Jones and Crystal Crap and Spidercrap 3 cost 190-250 million to make.Unlike Alien and Blade Runner there are holes in the story with plot lines that go nowhere and misuse of characters. *Spoilers* I can deal with a few holes, but after The Mystery man at the beginning, the cave drawings, David's knowledge of how to make the queen (he may have been experimenting, but he knew what to do and what to look for) , everything with the Engineers, over the top reveals, stupid scientist doing un-scientific things, and leaving the film open for a sequel, it begins to add up. The cast is great with the exception of Logan Marshall Green as Dr. Holloway who seems more like an extreme sports rock climber than an scientist. Fassbender is amazing and is really the centerpiece of this film, but his motivation is never clear. David's motivation is of course tied into Guy Pearce's motivation as well, and Pearce is just wasted in this film and it's never clear exactly what he wants or expects to happen.There must be 45 minutes of deleted scenes that all involve Pearce, because the TED Talk 2023 ( ) is far superior than anything he does in the film. One thing that I loved was Ridley Scott's homage to Lawrence Of Arabia and 2001: A Space Odyssey, two of my all-time favorite films. David is pretty much the android form of HAL and Old man Pearce looks exactly like old man Dave Bowman, but the one that blew me away was David's obsession with Peter O'Toole's Lawrence. I love Lawrence of Arabia and I wanted to watch the whole thing in IMAX 3-D. Overall  I recommend this film just for the visuals alone, it's just about flawless and see it in IMAX if you can. My problems with the plot and characters is sometimes petty, but I want every movie I see to be great. If it falls short in one department and is great in another, then I see that as a missed opportunity. 3 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cody's Film Review: The Avengers

I grew up reading comic books and have always had a love / hate relationship with their film counterparts. I deem a comic book film a success if it gives me the same feeling and excitement that the book does. I don't care if the filmmaker veers away from the original book content as long as it is a creative alternative. I understand it's impossible to adapt a 400 issue series with forty plus years of history into a two hour film, but that doesn't excuse the existence of Ben Affleck's Daredevil. I wasn't super excited about this film, mainly because the films leading up to The Avengers were dull. The Bana Hulk was too psychological and boring, and even though I enjoyed the Norton Hulk more I still don't have the desire to watch it multiple times. Captain America was forgettable and the second Iron Man was just terrible. I never saw Thor, and the only film I really enjoyed was the first Iron Man. Iron Man worked for me because it gave me that feeling a good comic book has, great characters, dialogue, and captivating story. Everybody hates comic books full of action and splash pages, sure we want to see great art, but the story and characters are what keeps a reader buying the book. The worse part of Iron Man is the final battle scene, there is nothing you haven't seen before and it's a dim ending to an exciting origin story. The first two X-Men and Spiderman films are the only other Marvel Comic productions that have captured this feeling I got when I saw Iron Man, and now I add The Avengers to this list. I was worried about how good an Avengers film would be because the only time I've seen a team film done right was the first two X-men films and at times X-men 1st Class, but they both had competent directors. The Avengers is good for two reasons Joss Whedon and The Hulk. Whedon has proven himself a talented film director/screenwriter with Firefly and Serenity and comic book writer with his Astonishing X-men series and he is what makes this boat float. He conveys the comic book feel along with intensive action and most important interlaces the two correctly. The Avengers has a nice mix of action, then lets you breath with scenes of character and story development, and then hits you with more action. A majority of superhero films spend too much time on one or the other, and because of this approach they become forgettable. The other bright spot of this film was Whedon knew how to utilize the Hulk. The Hulk, like the Punisher, is only great in spurts, and is a better secondary character than a main one. A whole series, or film, becomes repetitive and there is only so much you can do with the character. The reason the Hulk makes this film for me is because he is the only loose cannon. You know what your getting from Iron Man, Cap, Thor and the rest, the Hulk is the only wild card. Not only does the Hulk deliver, but so does Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner. Ruffalo takes out the self loathing Bana/Norton Banner and brings back the intelligent and at times comic Bill Bixby Banner. The chemistry between the two best characters of the film Ruffalo and Downey Jr. is fantastic, I have to believe it's still left over from Zodiac, and I would watch a movie of them two just working in a lab. Tom Hiddleston, Chris Evens and Chris Hemsworth are the only other stand outs in the cast. I thought Renner, Jackson, and Scarlett do a fine job, but really don't bring much to the table.  SPOILER The main problem I had with the film was the event that brings them all together was rather weak. The death of Agent Coulson would be hardly the reason a bunch of superheroes would unite against evil. I liked the guy and all, but it was really drawn out and I doubt anyone besides Iron Man knew who the hell he was. I thought the SFX were fantastic, the mix of CGI and real objects and backgrounds is the proper use of computer technology. The improper use of CGI, and stories aimed at 12 year olds, has been my main deterrent with Hollywood Blockbusters in recent years. I am not impressed with stunts and action scenes that are 90% done in a computer. Hat's off to Joss Whedon for knowing how to put together a superhero team Iron Man's your leader, Cap is your field commander, Hulk and Thor are your muscle and the rest is window dressing that's the comic book way. 4 out of 5 Stars

Monday, March 5, 2012

R.I.P. Ralph McQuarrie

This past weekend a huge influence of my childhood passed, artist Ralph McQuarrie. As a kid I collected everything Star Wars and one of the cheapest and most endearing was the Star Wars Trading Cards. I loved these because you could reenact the films and see your favorite scenes over and over.  This was before home video, so these cards and picture books were the only thing that filled my hunger between re-releases or new films. In 1980 Topps released 20 plus Ralph McQuarrie concept art cards and these I cherished the most of my card collection. These cards were hard to find and I would just stare for hours at the re imagining of familiar scenes and characters. McQuarrie also helped with concept art for Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Close Encounters, E.T., and won an Oscar in 1986 for Visual Effects for the film Cocoon. He was 82 years old. Below are some of my favorite paintings by him.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cody's 2011 Oscar Predictions

This is my 4th annual Oscar Predictions, and it was another snoozer of a year. I had a hard time coming up with a top 10, but like last year I predict what I think will win not what I want to win.

Beat Picture- The Artist. I think the Weinstein Machine is in full effect on this one, and mixed with the Hollywood nostalgia, I think this is a shoe in. I haven't seen Midnight In Paris or War Horse, and have no interest in The Help & Extremely Corny. I also realized that now that the Academy went to 5+ films for Best Picture format, a Sandra Bullock film has been nominated in consecutive years. I liked The Artist and the only other nominations I liked more were Moneyball and Tree of Life. Ignored: I can name 10 films I liked better than Hugo but the top two films ignored are A Separation and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Best Actor- Jean Dujardin. This was hard to pick and I think he does a phenomenal job in The Artist. I think Clooney and Pitt cancel each other out and Dujardin's performance will come off as more of a challenge to the voters. I wouldn't be shocked if the dark horse Gary Oldman walked away with it. Ignored: Michael Fassbender for Shame. I still don't understand why he was left out. Brad Pitt for Tree of Life.

Best Actress- Meryl Streep. Why not, but hefty competition with a woman playing a man, a famous starlet, and a maid in the 60's. I really hope Rooney Mara wins. Ignored: Michelle Williams for Meeks Cutoff, she plays a better frontier wife than Marilyn Monroe.

Supporting Actor- Christopher Plummer. They have been trying to give this guy an Oscar for 10 years now, and without any stiff competition, he grandfathers this one. This is usually the strongest category, but weak this year because of all the omissions. I did like Kenneth Branagh in My Week With Marilyn Ignored: Albert Brooks for Drive (The best part of the film) John Lithgow for Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Hunter McCracken for Tree of Life and Alan Rickman for Harry Potter.

Supporting Actress- Octavia Spencer. This movie has to win something I guess. Ignored: Carey Mulligan for Shame.

Directing- Michel Hazanavicius. Hard category this year and I think they give it to the new guy. I really wish Malick would win this, but the Academy likes to give awards to people who show up, this goes for Woody too. Remember I haven't seen Midnight In Paris, so besides Tree of Life, the Artist is the best film nominated. Ignored: I think Hugo is Marty's worst film since New York, New York and all of the attention this film is getting is baffling to me. Bennet Miller for Moneyball and Tomas Alfredson for Tinker Tailor not getting nod is a crime.

Original Screenplay- Michel Hazanavicius. I am worried that he wins for this they may not give him the Best Director award. I really hope Asghar Farhadi wins for A Separation. It is one of the best screenplay's I have seen in years, and I will jump for joy if he wins. Ignored: Terry for Tree of Life.

Adapted Screenplay- Alexander Payne. This is a shame because I liked the film, but thought it is Paynes worst film, he needs Jim Taylor back. I am pulling for Moneyball and Tinker Tailor, but Sorkin won his last year. Ignored: Dragon Tattoo, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Harry Potter, Carnage

Cinematography- The Artist. It's Black and White!, but that hasn't made much of a difference recently. Tattoo and Hugo looked great, but I'm really pulling for Tree of Life. Ignored: The Way Back, Meeks, Drive,Tinker Tailor.

Editing- The Artist. I think it will win best picture, so I automatically choose it for editing. Ignored: Tinker, Apes,Harry Potter, Tree of Life and most of all A Separation.

Foreign Film- A Separation. This was one of the best films of the year and if it doesn't win, then I will hurt people. Great acting all around and the Screenplay is so convoluted that it has a thriller aspect to it. A Must see!!!!

Best Animated- Rango. I haven't seen any of these and now that I'm a father this may be the last year this happens.

Documentary Feature- Paradise Lost 3. This is a personal pick(which I try and stay away from) but this trilogy helped free three innocent men and I hope the Academy takes that into consideration. Ignored: Bill Cunningham New York.

Doc. Short- The Barber of Birmingham. It's about Civil Rights

Animated Short- The Fantastic Flying Books. Clever title.

Live Action Short- Tuba Atlantic. It's about death.

Art Direction, Costume Design, and Make-Up- The Artist, Jane Eyre, and Albert Nobbs. 1920's Hollywood, Period Piece, women looking like men.

Sound Editing, Mixing and Visual Effects- Hugo and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Only wins for Hugo and Apes looked pretty good.

Best Song and Score- Muppets and The Artist. Muppets win because they aren't exactly a Mop or a Puppet. The Artist would be a guaranteed win if they didn't sample the great Bernard Herrmann's Vertigo soundtrack, but not sure if the Academy cares,but it really pissed me off that they did it. John Williams probably cancels himself out with two nominations.

That's it! The above picture is from an exhibit celebrating the Great Stanley Kubrick in Paris I went to last year. Let's hope Terrance Malick can have one too this year.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Podcast #30: The Best of 2011

A year that saw one of the most visionary films of the century will also stand as one of the weakest years in film in our recent history.  However the end of 2011 managed to produce a few gems that we will discuss tonight.  Please join us.
click the player below to listen or visit  


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Friday, February 10, 2012

Podcast #29: The Phantom Menace

Remember how excited you were when "The Phantom Menace" came out?  How long did it take you to detest it as much as you do today?  Cody and I reflect on one of the biggest movie events in our lifetime and the subsequent disappointment that set in the following years.

here is the article that sparked the conversation

here is Red Letter Media's full Phantom Menace Review

click the player below to listen or visit 


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