Kick Ass

Judd: What happens when an everyday nerd decides that the world needs a superhero? He dons a wetsuit, goes out and gets his ass handed to him by petty criminals. That’s what happens. What happens if there are others out there like him that have actually trained and are inspired by his “heroic” deeds? That’s the question Kick Ass attempts to answer.

Swanner: I went in thinking this was going to be a comedy. I guess I glazed over during the trailer. I really like the premise of the film but I was left nonplussed by the violence. It was like really bloody “OMG” am I watching the right movie? Getting past that it was nice seeing a group of newer actors getting an opportunity with a major film. Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse (better known as McLovin from Superbad) and Chloe Moretz (500 Days of Summer) make up the new superheroes. Oh, Nicolas Cage plays Chloe’s father who wants to be Batman really bad.

Judd: I knew it was going to be violent and was looking forward to it, but there are some moments that are pretty intense. However, I was expecting the writing to be a bit sharper. While I won’t say that it was bland, it wasn’t as funny as the screenwriters thought it to be which for me made it hard to empathize with characters. If you’re going to be a nerd, at least be a witty nerd, otherwise I don’t care if you get your ass whooped. Hell, you deserve it.

Swanner: I had figured it would be violent but not so graphic. Especially in a comical superhero take-off. Maybe that’s how it is in the graphic novel. I remember you mentioned that Kick-Ass and The Losers were both missing what the other one had and I agree. The Losers could have been much more graphic and it was missing the campy stuff; where this film had the campy and could have toned down the graphic. Maybe it was the fact that a 12 year old brutally kills so many people in the film or maybe I’m just a woozy?

Judd: Holy shit, Fatman! Could you sound more like an old lady? “Oh dearie, it’s so violent. My Archie comics never had such filth, for Pete’s sake heavens to Betsy!” But yes, I believe that The Losers had the strong script, but the crappy direction killed it. Kick Ass had all the action a person could want, but the script was lacking. Combine the two and you get Kill Bill Vol. 1. And I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I heard that Archie finally got a handy from Veronica. She even used a little spit.

Swanner: Why are you so mean and dirty? You are right about both the movie just missing it’s mark. It does seem like everyone is trying to channel Tarantino but it’s not happening. I did think the cast was there for this but the failing came from behind the camera. When Nick Cage is decent but something still isn’t working someone has failed somewhere. I enjoyed the movie but it’s almost more of a rental title than a theatrical.

Judd: Why am I so mean and dirty? Why are you so fat and girly? It’s just the way of the world.


Judd: ½

The Losers

Swanner: A secret Black Ops team is betrayed and then left for dead in the Bolivian jungle but these soldiers have only revenge on their minds as they hunt down the man who betrayed them. The Losers is a fast paced action film with a fine cast of up and comers and enough bullets to keep anyone happy.

Judd: There may have been enough bullets, but I wasn’t happy. This is another comic book adaptation – I guess Hollywood figured that it’s more successful than adapting old TV shows – starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Watchmen), Zoe Saldana (Star Trek), Chris Evans (Fantastic 4) and directed by Sylvain White (I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer; Stomp the Yard). While the actors were fine, Oscar Jaenada is extra fine, the direction was weak and the action was sterile.

Swanner: When you put it that way I’d rather see this than an awful adaptation of some Stephen J. Cannell Production but I still think with a more experienced director we would have had a better movie. We had talked about the script being more campy and I thinking that would have really saved the movie. When I say campy I’m talking like the Die Hard films. They didn’t lose any of the testosterone by being clever…and I think clever would have worked here. The actors are all very capable of comedy and a bit more would have gone a long way.

Judd: If the director would have committed to making the whole movie over the top, it would have been a much better film. The fact that the tone was inconsistent and it was rated PG-13, killed what could have been something along the lines of Tropic Thunder, Sin City, or as you mentioned, the latter Die Hard films. Clever would have definitely worked here and what could have been clever in The Losers only comes off as cheesy.

Swanner: We did forget to mention that the film does have some really good bad guys headed by Jason Patric. As good a Patric is in the film I was a bit thrown because he looks so much older then he did in The Lost Boys. Granted it has been 23 years and he is now 44 now but I was shocked. That aside, he seem to get that the film should have been played more campy. Patric and his henchmen were very funny and worked better than our heroes most of the time. I did like the movie on just sheer entertainment and if our readers are in to high action PG-13 films then this could be a entertaining diversion this weekend.

Swanner: 1/2

Judd 1/2

Clash Of The Titans

Swanner: The mortal son of the god Zeus embarks on a perilous journey to stop the underworld and its minions from spreading their evil to Earth as well as the heavens. This is the plot line for the remake of Clash of the Titans. Sam Worthington (Avatar) plays Zeus’s mortal son Perseus who leads a band of soldiers that journey to the gates of hell to retrieve the head of Medusa. This a remake of 1981 film which is based on the Greek mythology.

Judd: It was more like a “bland of soldiers”. Clash of the Titans is going to do extremely well; the previews are gorgeous and even I was fooled into believing the movie might amount to something. For as simple the plot is, it’s still a bit convoluted and the action sequences aren’t that exciting. And don’t even get me started on the 3D.

Swanner: I remember seeing the first one when it came out and thinking that the old Harryhausen effects were a bit dated even for that time and that the technology of the day should have produced better special effects. This new film has definitely taken the best of today’s effects and given the movie the wow factor. Past all the CGI stuff you still have a kind of goofy, over blown testosterone, chest bumping man fest. Which isn’t always a bad thing

Judd: As far as the special effects go, I have to disagree. I don’t think they were all that great and certainly not up to the new standard. I don’t know if it’s because we sat so close or if it was this particular movie, but there was definite jaggies and pixilation of the image due to the 3D. Quite honestly, I thought the movie looked like crap. I know the movie wasn’t filmed in 3D, and maybe that has something to do with it, but Clash is not nearly has good looking as the other 3D movies that we’ve seen.

Swanner: The 3D was the problem here. Not originally shot in 3D but it was added because of the success of all the other 3D movies. Sometimes the actors heads were oddly shaped and the shaky camera work mixed with the fake 3D made the action sequences very blurry. I’d say this is a movie you might want to see in 2D instead of 3D. The films pacing was sometimes a bit slow but I thought the cast did a good job especially Pete Postlethwaite as Perseus adopted father and Ralph Fiennes as Hades. You’re right, the film will make a lot of money because the audience it was made for will really enjoy it but I think the older kids, the ones who remember the 81 version, will be disappointed.



How to Train your Dragon

Swanner: Last night I had the pleasure of seeing How to Train your Dragon. This is the latest animated entry from DreamWorks. The story is about a Viking named Hiccup. Actually, he’s a pretty poor Viking; he’s kind of wimpy but has a lot of heart. His father is the head of the village and he’s not happy having a son who can’t battle dragons. (It’s a real big deal in this village.) The film is based on a series of books by Cressida Cowell and it’s directed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders who’s last venture was Lilo and Stitch.

Judd: Tom was the only critic at the theatre, and he had a whole row taped off for himself and himself alone. He said he looked extra fat because I wasn’t there as camouflage. I texted him and asked if he was sweaty – he was. So there Tom was, the only critic sitting in a row all to himself with moob stains forming … I’m setting the mood.

Swanner: I also had people asking me if the row was being saved for someone. Translated that meant, “Is that whole row for you, Fatty?” As you can imagine I was hoping for the film to start and fast. Once the movie started and I had my 3D glasses in place, I must admit that I was a bit confused by the beginning with what I perceived to be sound problems at the theatre. The dialog was overpowered by the score and special effects. Once the first battle sequence was over the sound problems disappeared and the story unfolded nicely. Our hero Hiccup thinks during that first battle he fired a net at the Night Fury (a scary almost invisible dragon) and now he’s out to find this dragon and prove the village he can be a real dragon slayer.

Judd: The people sitting in the full row behind Tom kept glaring at him throughout the movie. One lady had to leave her husband behind because she was told there weren’t enough seats, yet this fat SOB got a whole row to himself. To make matters worse, about 40 minutes into the film Tom has to start fumbling through his purse to find his inhaler. A fat guy and his wheezer, how appropriate. I know this because he does the same thing during every movie.

Swanner: Shut up you!!! Those are trade secrets. The theatres are filthy and it stirs up my asthma when the air conditioning kicks in. Anyway, our hero, Hiccup, finds the Night Fury dragon and befriends him. As they get to know each other he learns how to control the dragon and ultimately becomes the Dragon Whisper (for lack of a better name). I was blown away by the depth of emotion the movie stirred. Sure I cry during Hallmark commercials but this really had the Pixar edge to it. That edge takes the story and the emotions to a much higher level then we’re use to getting in non-Pixar animated films.

Judd: Before the last scene fades completely to black, Tom throws himself out of his seat and barrels towards the door. Depending on the theatre it may be a downhill dash with Tom struggling to keep gravity in check, pushing old women and children out of his way. It’s amazing just how agile he is with his hands in the air, elbows at his side and his stumpy little legs struggling to keep up with the increasing momentum.

Swanner: You are hateful. Correct, but hateful. The lead voices in the film are from Jay Baruchel (She’s out of My League) and Gerard Butler (The Bounty Hunter) but all the voice work is good. The script and direction are right on the mark but the flying sequences are Avatar spectacular and the 3D is terrific. How to Train your Dragon is going on my top ten right now and I expect it to stay there. It should really touch audiences and kids are going to love it.


Repo Men

Swanner: Set in a future where artificial organs can be purchased on credit, Repo Men are the guys who come calling when you don’t pay your bill. Jude Law and Forest Whitaker star as two of the best Repo Men until Jude Law needs a new heart, and once he has it, can’t take anyone else’s. This is a very gory film and a very black comedy.

Judd: For the three people reading this that are screaming “RIPOFF! This plot is stolen from Repo! The Genetic Opera!” there are arguments all over the interwebs claiming which story came first. Regardless, the two stories are very different. I wanted to really like Repo Men, but it’s biggest problem is it’s uneven tone. It has it’s moments where it is a very funny black comedy. It also has some very serious and maudlin moments, and it seems that just when I started to crack a smile, that’s when the movie made it’s shift and ruined the groove.

Swanner: I totally agree with you. The film starts out very funny with them herding up body parts…it’s very lighthearted and then Law’s marriage is failing. Now it’s heavy. This is repeated all during the film until it finally levels off once Law gets involved with Alice Braga and here comes the very unnecessary boring needy love storyline that completely derails the film. It’s just another case of tossing in the female to end the buddy storyline and completely bore me to tears

Judd: Much like most Bestest Buddy relationships, it’s all ruined when a skirt gets involved. I’d like to know when this happened – when movie producers started thinking that a dame would improve a buddy movie. Anyway, what really gets the movie off its tracks is how wide it swings from heavy to campy. The gore is really over the top, but in an almost tongue in cheek kind of way and there are some great lines and sight gags, but when the movie decides to go heavy, it damn near becomes a Lifetime movie. It’s jolting and not in a good way.

Swanner: It was Lifetime meets Fangoria. It was way too gory for me. The ending did get a bit over the top with the cringe factor but for the folks that like that stuff, there is plenty of it. I did like the acting but when the storyline changed so did my interest. I really enjoyed the beginning and disliked the middle and the ending kind of brought it back for me. I think when you have newer writers working with a newer director you’re not going to get solid filmmaking. Especially not with this genre.

Judd: That’s a shame because the movie had huge potential, and there are glimpses of it here and there throughout the movie, but overall it fails. The female is a pointless character; the failed marriage is a pointless plotline. Had there been more comedy and less tragedy, Repo Men could have had some serious cult credibility, but they blew it.



Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Swanner: If you can remember what it was like to be 12. All your friends are getting taller, voices are changing and of course you start middle school … junior high. All your elementary school popularity goes out the window and you are once again a nobody. That’s what Diary of a Wimpy Kid is all about. This is based on the book by Jeff Kinney who has some how looked into my tortured soul and written it all down for people to laugh at.

Judd: I’m not a big fan of coming of age movies, because like romcoms, they all rely on the same jokes/stories and everyone involved usually phones it in. Diary is different because it has heart. I enjoyed Diary, and though some of the characters are clichéd, the movie overcomes because all the characters are portrayed as people not caricatures.

Swanner: I really liked the characters in the film. I either knew or hated all of them. The screenplay is really funny and that mixed with the direction they have made a movie kids and adults can like equally. It’s a quality that Disney and Pixar usually get but not many of the other studios. I’m picturing you were the mean girl with the pig tails … the brother in the movie was my brother and I’m so emotionally scared I might need to go back to therapy.

Judd: I really liked how over the course of the movie our antagonist is the asshole. Usually, the lead is always the kid that gets picked on and overcomes whatever it is that’s holding him back. In Diary, the lead isn’t a bully, but he’s not as nice as he thinks he is and gets progressively worse until he realizes the error of his ways. It’s not a new plotline by any means, but I think it’s fairly unique to this genre of film.

Swanner: You’re right. I wasn’t sure what made this different from most films in the genre. It’s the self realization that he’s made some really bad choices. It really comes clear when he finally takes on his brother. He looks at it like he’s broken the chains of his youth, when in reality he’s becoming someone he wouldn’t like to have as a friend. By the end all is well and it ends the way it should, but that’s a twist I didn’t see coming. I remember having that realization myself…I should act on it but I like hanging out with you.

Judd: I was going to say when you compared me to the girl with pigtails that I think I’m more like the lead character, but I didn’t want to sound egotistical. The only difference between him and me, is that he learned that it’s not nice to be a dick whereas I’ve learned that it can be a lot of fun.

Swanner: I still can’t believe you didn’t make fun of me and the goofy fat kid. Maybe you do have some nice in you after all.