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Archive for the ‘Caesar Martini’ Category

Point-Counterpoint: Halloween II

Posted by film On September - 10 - 2009

Halloween2PosterHalloween II
Directed by Rob Zombie
Dimension Films, 2009

By Sean Kelly and Caesar Martini

[I must preface this by noting that this is not a true point-counterpoint article. Each reviewer wrote his piece oblivious to the work being done by the other. It just lines up sometimes that two reviewers happen to find themselves on opposite sides of the coin on a given picture and it's worth contrasting their opinions directly. Enjoy! - Ed.]

Going In

Sean:
A few years ago I finally saw John Carpenter’s original Halloween and ever since then I’ve made it a tradition to watch it on Halloween night. Michael Myers became a horror icon a couple years before anybody had heard anything about Freddy or Jason — donning his white mask, with its blank expression, he was able to make even the simplest act of crossing the street terrifying.

When Rob Zombie came on board two years ago to “reimagine” the film, I must admit that I was intrigued, to say the least. When I saw the film, I was sort of digging the new expanded back-story Rob Zombie created for Michael Myers. However, when it came to the actual remake portion of the film, it became Read the rest of this entry »

How District 9 Saved Our Caesar

Posted by film On September - 7 - 2009

district_9_movie_stillDistrict 9
Directed by Neill Blomkamp
Key Creatives / Sony Pictures, 2009

By Caesar Martini

All right. All right, all right, all right. I used to send out movie reviews like it was my job (although the lack of compensation I received for doing this proved that it definitely wasn’t). Perhaps it was the love I had of the sound of my own voice, or my desire to crush everyone in my path under the weight of my magnificent and flawless opinion, but whatever “IT” was that compelled me to pump out movie reviews like Kate Gosselin pumps out children shrivelled up and died inside me some time ago (which would explain the smell). To my surprise, some people actually missed my reviews, which is odd considering that they rarely said anything about them whilst I was putting them out, the tossers. But I digress.

So here I find myself hacking at my keyboard once again, trying to verbalize a frothy-mouthed opinion on the most recent moving picture-show that has flickered across my dull, soulless eyes. What could have prompted me to take up a thankless past-time that I had previously shunned, you ask? Why, District 9, I answer, perhaps the bestest and awesomest movie I have seen this year (possibly until Zombieland comes out). I’ll warn my readers now (all six of you): if you’re uncomfortable with the mental image of a grown man trying his best to fellate a movie, you might want to skip to the end.

District 9 is a film written and directed by South African born Neill Blomkamp, who you have not heard of and indeed shouldn’t have, because he’s literally done nothing else except some special effects on Smallville and other piddly crap. You may have heard Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Movie MegaCalendar: August

Posted by film On July - 29 - 2009

cold_souls01By Rachel West, Caesar Martini, Sean Kelly, and Leo K. Moncel

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the final edition of the Summer Movie MegaCalendar. As Sean said, “It’s a doozy”, and as Rachel said, “I think I’ll use August to get caught up on films I missed in July.” Well, however you pre-assess the final blast of Summer 2009, from the small — Paper Heart, Julie & Julia, to the medium — Cold Souls, Ponyo, The Time Traveller’s Wife, to the large — District 9, G.I. Joe, to that whopper Inglourious Basterds, let’s hope you find something that fits you just right.
Each piece here was written seperately, mine included, and it’s a testament to our shared psychic link that they often read as a dialogue. Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Movie MegaCalendar: July Part 2

Posted by film On June - 26 - 2009

By Caesar Martini, Leo K. Moncel, and Shane McNeil

But wait, there’s more! The other half of the MegaCalendar crew is here to set your monitor ablaze with our clever views! Joining us: Shane McNeil, freshly thawed from Iceland; I, Leo Moncel, live from the Good Korea; and Caesar Martini, recovering after a catastrophic PC meltdown. But let’s throw our own stories aside and look to tales of gangsters, magic, love and heartbreak, terminal illness and balls on Eminem’s face, with July’s exciting slate of blockbusters! Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Movie MegaCalendar: June – Part Two

Posted by film On May - 26 - 2009

By Caesar Martini and Brian Last

Remember I told you that we’d be seeing a smaller crew for now? Well here we have it — prolific newcomer Brian Last and the irascible Caesar Martini have returned to weigh in with their takes on June’s big releases. The guys have more optimism for Pelham but uncertainty and conflict remain the only staples in pre-assessing Year One. Read on, enjoy, and throw your voices into the mix!

JUNE 5th

The Hangover

But how will THEY get HERE?

But how will THEY get HERE?

Caesar:

I love the premise of this movie — three buddies (Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, and Bradley Cooper) wake up from a bachelor party bender in Vegas with no memory of the previous night, and no groom. The trio try to piece together what happened and find their missing man in time for his wedding. I think everyone can relate to this plot — after all, who amongst us hasn’t woken up with Mike Tyson in their living room singing “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins? That guy’s a menace. Collins, I mean, not Tyson.

Brian:

Todd Phillips, who has brought us such classics as Old School, Starsky and Hutch, and Road Trip, is back with another comedy. His last film, School for Scoundrels, did not do so well, perhaps because he moved away from his Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, and Ben Stiller bubble, something Judd Apatow may want to think about when people start to get tired of Seth Rogen. Phillips has a new crew of funny, talented guys to work with and I think the audience will enjoy them. The trailer had me laughing and I doubt very much the funniest bits were in the trailer. I believe that there is a whole lot more hilarity in store for this film.

JUNE 12th

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

The thrilling 123rd installment in the epic Taking of Pelham series.

The thrilling 123rd installment in the epic Taking of Pelham series.

Caesar:

John Travolta, in badass mode, takes a subway train hostage and starts using subway traffic conductor Denzel Washington as a relay station for his demands.

There are a lot of Travolta-haters out there, and to be honest I can’t blame them. He’s Scientology’s #2 celebrity and is in as many terrible movies as he is good ones. Plus he can fly his own private jet, so there’s always the worry of a Travolta-From-Above sneak attack. But Denzel hasn’t done anything wrong in what seems like forever, and when he teams up with director Tony Scott usually something pretty good happens. And I do like me a good heist movie.

Brian:

Denzel plays Walter Garber, an ordinary dispatcher for the New York city transit system. When Ryder (Travolta) hijacks a train, things escalate into an intense face off as Garber has to be extraordinary and rise to the call to end this ordeal.

Director Tony Scott is back with another crime caper that will take the audience on an adventure that will thrill and entertain them. He’s armed with an all-star cast that also includes Luis Guzman, Jon Turturro, and James Gandolfini — perfect choices to work within Scott’s always sharp, mile-a-minute style of directing. It will be interesting to see how he tackles remaking a highly praised film. I predict a solid film that is smart and intriguing with Tony Scott‘s signature all over it.

JUNE 19th

Year One

Like VeggieTales for the teen/20's set.

Like VeggieTales for the teen/20's set.

Caesar:

This movie stars Michael Cera and Jack Black (playing pretty much the only characters either of them ever play) having wacky adventures in the distant past. I can’t remember exactly which year. Anyway, this is going to be one of those silly movies that guest stars a whack of people I love to see in silly movies (Paul Rudd, David Cross, and Hank Azaria for starters). I think I will laugh heartily and not be in any danger of learning even the smallest little thing. Hooray!

Plus it’s directed by Egon from Ghostbusters.

Brian:

After two slacker gatherers are kicked out of their village they go on an adventure through the ancient world where they encounter many crazy things. I am not anticipating much from this movie. Even though it has the comedic master Harold Ramis at the helm, you will get the same old jokes that have been done in the past. The only difference is that it is set in the past, so the jokes will be all about that time period, nothing groundbreaking — we’ve all seen The Flintstones, right? Jack Black’s over-the-top goofiness with some elongated words to build to some potential singing, and Cera’s awkward naivety will make for some passable reused entertainment. Even with all of the cameos in this film, it will not be saved.

JUNE 26th

40% more KA-PLOW!

40% more KA-PLOW!

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Caesar:

HOLY CRAP. Have you guys seen this preview?? Look at it. Look at it. Michael Bay catches a lot of flack for his directing, and sure, a lot of it is well deserved, but anyone who didn’t enjoy the first Transformers just has a black, black heart, or maybe they just didn’t understand that the movie was about giant awesome transforming robots doing awesome things. I mean, I had complaints about the first movie, but I couldn’t voice them over the gleeful giggling I was suffering from after watching said awesome robots do said awesome things. It’s just a fun, fun movie.

In this sequel, it looks like Devastator comes to Earth (the Voltron-esque construction-vehicle super-Transformer that breaks up into six regular sized Transformers), resurrects Megatron, and a lot more robot fights happen… which is basically all I’m asking for. Tee hee! To borrow from Borat, VERY EXCITE!

Summer Movie MegaCalendar: May

Posted by film On April - 24 - 2009

By: Sean Kelly, Caesar Martini, Brian Last and Rachel West

Summer may be months away, but in Hollywood it’s already hot, hot, hot! Join some of our regulars for some educated speculation as they weigh in on May’s big titles: Wolverine, Star Trek, Terminator, Angels and Demons, the return of Raimi, and more! What’s worth your while and what’s a waste? Enjoy the epicocity and start planning your May.

MAY 1st

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Man-crush you to death!

Man-crush you to death!

Sean:

First, I have to say it is a shame that some idiot leaked an unfinished cut of this film to the net since it already has the challenge of revitalizing the X-Men series after the poor reception of the third film (which was actually an OK film). That said, all the footage I have seen seems to prove that this solo-adventure isn’t just the cheap cash-in that it initially seemed to be (though, as for that planned Magneto film…).

Caesar:

As a comic book fan/geek/collector, and closeted Hugh Jackman man-crush victim, I’m pretty much obligated to see this film. It doesn’t help that the trailer is hella awesome. I do have a few worries about it, namely that it seems to have every mutant ever created in it (Wolverine, Gambit, Sabretooth, White Queen, Cyclops, Blob, Maverick, and John Wraith, to name a few). Also, Sabretooth is played by Liev Schrieber, who is a fine actor but will not necessarily be fine at being a seven-foot-tall mutant, feral killing machine. Perhaps most worrisome is the fact that Will.I.Am is acting in this movie. I swear to God, if I hear anything resembling the word “Fergalicious,” I’m going to walk out, go home, and poop on my Black Eyed Peas records.

Brian:

This fourth instalment of the X-Men Franchise tackles the complicated back story of Logan, A.K.A. James Howlett, A.K.A Wolverine – no easy task. The story also covers the Weapon X Project, and a slew of other characters that are being introduced in this origin story (Sabertooth, Deadpool, Cyclops, and Gambit). Too much on the plate?

Upon first viewing of the trailer, it looks like an interesting film with good action, and it looks like the director has a good handle on the character and the story. The X- Men franchise may just redeem itself for the sub par X3.

MAY 8th

Star Trek

C'mon, they're like, 17!

C'mon, they're like, 17!

Sean:
I’ve been a “Trekkie” since childhood, so it’s a no-brainer. In an interesting bit of trivia, this will be the first Trek film to receive a summer release since Star Trek V: The Final Frontier twenty years ago. Trailers have proven to me that Trek is in very capable hands. Who knows, maybe this film will spark a reverse of the Star Trek series’ “even/odd” rule (especially considering the lukewarm reception Star Trek: Nemesis received).

Caesar:

A reimagining of the classic sci-fi series with an all-new, young and sexy cast. Star Trek is decent, but I was never a full-blown fan. I rarely watched The Next Generation (though I did think Deep Space Nine was a fantastic series and that it was horribly underrated). I have seen almost every movie in the theater, because, shit, it’s got spaceships and lasers. How am I not gonna go see that? The real reason I’m psyched for this flick, though, is the trailers. Other movie companies should take note, THIS is how you put together an awesome trailer.

As long as Kirk punches out every man he has a problem with and has sex with at least three babes (one of them alien), and Spock uses the word “illogical” before nerve pinching the shit out of someone, I don’t see how this could fail.

Leo:

I’m deeply concerned here. I don’t consider myself a true Trekkie because I only enjoyed The Next Generation. And you know what the best episodes of TNG didn’t have? Laser fights, running around, and sex! TNG was about diplomacy. It was about testing our principles when we encounter cultures and customs that challenge our own. It was about negotiation and the triumph of tolerance.

I love me the Lost as much as the next man, but this movie here looks like a violent popcorn muncher, and much less than Star Trek could be. (Oh yeah, I’m totally still seeing it!)

MAY 15th:

Angels and Demons

Hanks minus mullet stands a chance!

Hanks minus mullet stands a chance!

Sean:

The general consensus among people that read Dan Brown novels is that Angels and Demons was the better read, even though The Da Vinci Code was the popular one. I believe this is a less controversial story than the last one (though the crew was banned from filming in pretty much every religious location). Also,  Tom Hanks has a more conventional haircut in this one.

Brian:

Dr. Robert Langdon is called back into duty to investigate a murder victim branded with a suspicious mark. It turns out to be the mark of an ancient secret society known as the Illuminati. Langdon discovers a plot to kill four cardinals from the Roman Catholic church.

As for Angels and Demons I can say with confidence it will be a commercial success. It will attract a wide array of audiences, and whether they hated it or loved it, they will leave how they left The Da Vinci Code – in discussion. The Da Vinci Code left people talking about religion, and this will leave people talking about secret societies. It’s a topic of unlimited interest, and I think Ron Howard will top The Da Vinci Code here.

Rachel:

I bought into the Da Vinci Code hype, and when the movie didn’t deliver, I was disappointed that an action-packed book couldn’t translate well onto the big screen. Maybe it was the miscast Tom Hanks and his inappropriate mullet or Ron Howard’s lacklustre direction. This time, I’m hoping that Hanks’ and Howard’s sophomore efforts do justice to the (arguably) better prequel, Angels & Demons. Gone are the mullet and the irritating Audrey Tatou. Instead, we have the powerhouse supporting team of Ewan McGregor and Stellan Skarsgard, who should breathe life into their characters and provide for some exciting on-screen chemistry. Sure to be a box office monster amid a blockbuster-filled May.

The Brothers Bloom
(Limited Release)

Blooms doomed?

Blooms doomed?

Sean:

It seems that forces beyond my control have been preventing me from seeing Rian Johnson’s follow-up to Brick ever since I tried to get a ticket for it at the Toronto Film Festival and it was sold out. The release date for this film has flopped around like a fish out of water, and I really hope I finally get the chance to see what looks like a fun caper film.

Rachel:

I caught this one at TIFF, and while the casting is bang-on and the story is original and entertaining, the movie lacks any punch to raise it above the position of an okay indie dramedy that you’ll probably forget about in a few months. The film suffers from a poor marketing campaign and a horrendous trailer that’s more likely to drive people away from the theatre than to it. The Brothers Bloom has counter-programming on its side as it competes at the box office with testosterone-filled action films, but this one’s really only worth a look at on DVD.

Rachel:

Management

Jennifer Aniston irritates me. Okay, I have a long-standing and unnatural hatred for her that’s probably only marginally deserved. Her acting choices certainly aren’t doing much to win me over from Team Jolie in recent years. Based on the trailer, Aniston appears stiff and wooden next to Steve Zahn, who has had moments of real comic inspiration over the years, while Woody Harrelson peppers the film with an off-beat, “weird boyfriend” type of role. All those involved seem uncomfortably old for their roles, much like the recycled plot and lame jokes.

MAY 22nd

Terminator: Salvation

Is it time for Bale to do more than wham bam parts?

Is it time for Bale to do more than wham bam parts?

Sean:

I still have yet to see the Terminator films (something that prevented me from seeing Terminator 3 a few years ago). However, this fourth film doesn’t look as reliant on the past history, since it now takes place during the war that the original films were all about preventing. Right now, this film is in the “maybe” department, but it does look exciting. Now, about that PG-13 rating the film is supposed to have…

Caesar:

Another film with a great trailer. I don’t see how anyone with a soul can watch giant Terminator robots kick the hell out of things and not want to see this film. Plus it’s got Christian Bale, who hasn’t turned in a bad performance yet, and Bryce Dallas Howard, who I may or may not be in love with (I am). Not to mention, with all the advancements we’re making with artificial intelligence and robotics these days, the threat of the robot apocalypse is looming ever closer, making Terminator: Salvation a relevant cautionary tale. You laugh, but we’ll see who’s laughing when the metal horde comes to process your brain-meat for lubricants.

Brian:

Hey Wolverine, here’s another fourth instalment of a flagging franchise. In T4: Salvation Christian Bale plays John Connor in the future (2018 to be exact). Surprise, he’s still the one who is destined to lead the Human resistance against Skynet.

While we have everything we should for a good popcorn flick – action, guns and director McG - nothing in the trailer really blew me away or made me want to see it. The franchise is getting steadily further from James Cameron’s vision. There’s been Judgement Day, Rise of the Machines, and now Salvation - between these films we should either be saved or all killed, but they should stop dragging it out. Have we learned nothing from Rocky V, Die Hard 4, and Indy 4?

MAY 29th

Drag Me to Hell

"Can we make the next Spidey also about a witch?"

"Can we make the next Spidey also about a witch?"

Sean:

Sam Raimi returns to horror! After spending most of the decade with the Spider-Man films, Sam Raimi decides to return to his roots before starting production on Spider-Man 4. While it is probably unlikely that the film will reach the cult status of The Evil Dead, it is at least nice that someone is making an original horror film in a world full of remakes (some of which Raimi produced).

Rachel:

Does it look good? No, not really, in your traditional definition of quality. But it is almost guaranteed to be skin-crawlingly frightening and bloody as director Sam Raimi leaves Spiderman behind to return to his roots as a horror auteur. Demons, curses, and, uh, Justin Long, come together in what seems to be your average young-girl-is-haunted-by-demonic-spirits movie. Certain to deliver chills and thrills, Drag Me to Hell (unfortunately only PG-13-rated scary) will be a devilishly good time.

Up

Caesar:

Well, this is simple. It’s a Pixar movie. Can anyone name a Pixar movie that hasn’t been great? If you can, please meet me in the alley out back for your complementary groin-punching. Even my least favourite Pixar flicks (e.g. Cars) are on par, if not completely superior, to other CGI movies. Plus, hello, it’s in 3D! And 3D is AWESOME. This new generation of 3D films (Bolt, Coraline, The Jonas Brothers, Monsters v.s. Aliens) has been astounding and ridiculously fun to watch.

Top Ten Lamest Supervillains

Posted by Comics On September - 30 - 2008

By Caesar Martini

Please note that when compiling this list I tried to stick to villains that have (somehow) made multiple appearances as recurring characters.  If you travel far enough back in comic book history, back when writers would apparently drop acid and swallow horse tranquilizers and throw any idea to the wall to see if it stuck, you’ll find even more absurd villainy than I’ve listed here.  People with names like Hypno-Hustler (hypnotized his victims with his funky jams and stole their wallets), The Tumbler (he’s a…professional tumbler), and GAARD (an outer-space hockey goalie).

I’m the best there is at what I do…and what I do…is look like a douchebag.

I’m the best there is at what I do…and what I do…is look like a douchebag.

In contrast, the villains I’ve listed here have appeared repeatedly in comics, indicating that they must have been popular somehow.  These ridiculous creations have actually stood the test of time.  Keep that in mind.

10. The Owl — Leland Owlsley was a successful Wall Street financier who went to jail for IRS fraud.  After taking a serum that gave him some kind of odd “gliding” power, he became one of Daredevil’s enemies.  Basically The Owl’s superpower (aside from gliding unassisted, which is one of the least explicable powers ever) is that he looks like an owl and clearly has a Wolverine fetish.  His criminal career highlights consist solely of being used as Daredevil’s punching bag.

9. Hammerhead — A longtime Spider-man villain, Hammerhead is a gangster with an Al Capone fixation and a horribly obvious metal plate in his head.  He basically goes around headbutting people and running through doors head first.  Yup, that’s it.  How can such a mad evildoer be stopped?  I dunno…shoot him, maybe?

8. The Penguin — Somewhat recently The Penguin, aka Oswald Cobblepot, has reinvented himself as a behind-the-scenes crime boss who runs a nightclub as a front for more illicit activities.  That’s just fine by me, because that seems like the only type of criminal activity a short fat guy with a birth defect could feasibly pull off.  But long ago, he used to thwart Batman on a regular basis with bird-themed crimes and advanced umbrella technology.  Like his umbrella-copter, bullet-proof umbrella, acid-shooting umbrella, flamethrower-umbrella, and so on.  Hey Penguin, know what might work better than any of that?  A regular old machine gun.  Who says a tool of death needs to keep you dry in the rain?  Try it out sometime, see if you like it.

7. Paste Pot Pete — A Fantastic Four villain from back in the day, PPP (also called The Trapster, which is a little less silly) was part of a team called The Frightful Four…sort of an anti-Fantastic Four.  PPP used a glue gun to make all encounters with him a…sticky one.  GET IT??  The most horrible/wonderful thing about PPP is that he looks like a madman wandering around in a purple suit and shooting buckets of semen at everyone.

Awwwwkward.

Awwwwkward.

6. Monsieur Mallah and The Brain — I can’t decide if these guys should be on the lamest supervillains of all time list, or the coolest.  I mean, it’s a talking, beret-wearing, French gorilla with a machine gun and a brain in a jar.  But also, it’s a talking, beret-wearing, French gorilla with a machine gun and a brain in a jar. I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of genius.  Oh and also, the brain and the monkey are in love.  Scientist Niles Caulder raised the IQ of a gorilla to 178 and named him Monsieur Mallah.  Soon after his body was destroyed in a lab explosion, but Mallah managed to save Caulder’s brain and connect it to a mechanical tube that allowed him to speak.  These two were adversaries of The Doom Patrol and the Teen Titans.

5. Stilt Man — As you might guess, Stilt Man’s “superpower” was walking on giant mechanical stilts.  He could extend and retract these stilts and kick holes in walls, and his suit was impervious to gunfire.  Regardless, he’s on a pair of giant stilts.  Just push him over.  I believe both Daredevil and Spider-man defeated him in this manner.

4. Captain Boomerang — The original Captain Boomerang was a Flash villain.  He wasn’t a captain, but he did throw boomerangs.  And he’s Australian, of course.  He had a variety of trick ‘rangs: some exploded, some were sharp, and so on.  He also had a flying ship that was shaped like a boomerang, and defying every known concept of aeronautical dynamics, flew like one too, end over end.  That’s all well and lame, but even worse, the Captain was a total loser and all around dick.  He was a coward and a racist and often had to be “tricked” into fighting.  I would be too, if all I had to defend myself were boomerangs and Aussie racial slurs.

“Beware.  I will eat holes in your sweaters over a long period of time.”

“Beware. I will eat holes in your sweaters over a long period of time.”

3. Killer Moth — A prisoner who, upon his release, attempts to set himself up as “the Anti-Batman” and somehow thinks that robbing banks while dressed in an eye-stabbingly garish moth outfit is a means to that end.  In a stunning display of originality, he even obtains a “Mothmobile” (convertible sports car), a “Mothcave,” and a “Moth-Lantern” (moth version of the Batsignal).  His “superpowers” were a pair of artificial wings that allowed him to fly and a gun that shot sticky threads (and also, grenades, which seems weirdly off-themed to me).  Lots of characters are created in an attempt to mimic Batman, but I’m pretty sure this is the lamest attempt ever.

2. The Trickster — An old Flash rogue.  I could basically make my entire list out of absurd Flash villains; so many of them are just terrible.  The Trickster, aka James Jesse, was an acrobat who was fascinated by the life of — you guessed it, outlaw Jesse James.  He felt a certain kinship with the cowboy (even though The Trickster’s real name was actually Giovanni Giuseppe and he was born in Napoli).  In his desire to be like Jesse James, James Jesse somehow thought it would be a good idea to dress up like a colour-blind circus clown and pull pranks on people.  Picture The Joker minus anything that made him smart, dangerous, or menacing.  The Trickster’s bag of tricks (ha!) included shoes that let him walk on air, and far less impressive tools such as exploding rubber chickens and itching powder.  Scary stuff.  And with these tools he somehow repeatedly fought off the Flash, a super-speed hero who can run around the world in about half a second.  Amazing.

In this day and age, if you see someone approaching you in this manner, you expect him to have a different agenda than just stealing paintings.

In this day and age, if you see someone approaching you in this manner, you expect him to have a different agenda than just stealing paintings.

1. The Rainbow Raider — Winner of the lamest villain ever award.  So lame, in fact, that when Flash writer Geoff Johns was ramping up all the kooky and pathetic Flash villains from yesteryear into somewhat credible threats, he took one look at Rainbow Raider and opted to kill him instead.  With a painting to the chest.

The Rainbow Raider used a visor that his dad had invented to shoot rainbows and slide around on them.  In addition to being able to “ride the rainbow,” he could also choose particular rainbow colours to emit from his visor, and whatever colour it was that hit you, you would be overcome with the emotion that is associated with that colour.  So if you were blasted with a blue ray, you’d suddenly be really sad.  If you were hit by green, envious.  I have no idea what happened if you got hit by the orange beam.  What’s orange, hungry or something?

You’re right to think this is probably the gayest gimmick ever, but the idiocy of The Rainbow Raider goes even deeper than you think.  It’s like an orgy of cheesiness.  First of all, his real name is Roy G. Bivolo, as in, “Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet with a meaningless O L O on the end.”  Secondly, the tragedy of his character was that Roy was a talented painter in his civilian life…BUT WAS COLOUR BLIND!!  Oh, the humanity.

Never able to put together a colour scheme that made sense in his paintings, and evidently never asking anyone to help him or just doing paintings in black and white, he became frustrated and bitter.  When his father gave him a set of special goggles meant to cure his colour blindness but which shot gay rainbows instead, Roy turned to a life of crime.  He stole paintings because if he couldn’t enjoy them, with his horrible disability, no one could.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Roy G. Bivolo is merely a fictional character, but he is an inspiration.  There are millions of people with colour blindness.  Not a one of them has been able to take their barely inconvenient handicap and turn it into a life-changing motivation to embark on a series of colour-based art crimes.

Kudos to you, Rainbow Raider.

Fuck Mask of the Phantasm, this is the real lost treasure.

Fuck Mask of the Phantasm, this is the real lost treasure.

By James O’Connor, Caesar Martini, and Leo K. Moncel

Snidely commented on by Doug Nayler

Here at MONDO there’s a reality that we all try to ignore. It may surprise the reader to learn, but there are deep-set truths about this webzine that we try very hard to disguise from you. We use elaborate verbiage, complex run-on sentences, and ironic commentary (just count the number of snide comments in ellipses on this site) all the time to keep you off the scent, but the truth is that MONDO is basically an 11-year-old. We may have traded in Spiceworld for the Sun 0))) and Boris In the Fishtank collaboration, or Pee Wee’s Playhouse sober for Pee Wee’s Playhouse on mushrooms, but really, we’re all just little kids wanting to play with our action figures. And I, for one, am sick of the sham. And I present to you what I’ve decided to do about it.

It really wasn’t that hard. All I had to do was ask our noble comics and film staff one simple question: “With the most realistically plausible Batman villains now exhausted between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, who do you want to see if there’s a third one?” And I’ll be damned if everyone didn’t expose themselves for me. So desperate was the response that I even have to split it into two parts, a MONDOfilm first. So, with no further ado I present you with MONDO getting dangerously close to a fan-fic site.

The Case for Tony Zucco

So, let me preface this by saying that part of what makes Nolan’s approach to these movies great is the fact that he treats the characters like actual people, with real, believable motivations. And as a result, I think he could probably bring any villain we could think of to the screen pretty easily.

That said, who would I like to see in the next movie? Tony Zucco. Which is really a way of saying I’d like to see Robin, but hear me out. One of the best parts of The Dark Knight, to me, was Scarecrow’s cameo. It showed how Gotham’s status quo was changing, with the freaks slowly taking over the underworld.

So, in the next flick, the mob’s even worse off than it was in Dark Knight. And as a result of their desperation, they’re hitting places they normally wouldn’t. Enter Tony Zucco, an up-and-comer desperate for cash and cred. It’s almost impossible for a regular mobster to survive in Gotham at this point, so he has to hit something small-time at first. Something no one’s going to notice. And hey, the circus just came into town.

One of the main pluses to this approach is that, with the freaks taking over, there’s no real limit on the villains you could drop into it. You could have a cameo from the Riddler leading a new gang, or Firefly running an arson racket, stuff like that. Not only would this approach please fans, it would move the franchise in an organic, logical direction. Plus, by centering the story on a regular mobster, you keep it grounded in reality.

-James O’Connor

The Case for Bane

The end of The Dark Knight sees Batman’s relationship with the Gotham Police Department more strained than ever, so there’s always the idea of Batman vs the GCPD. But that’s not a very specific threat for Batman to tackle. And with the death of Heath Ledger and the brilliance of his performance, it’s doubtful that they would use the Joker again in the third one, regardless of what happened to his character at the end of The Dark Knight. The idea of using Two Face again is the biggest question mark.

Director Christopher Nolan definitely prefers more realistic Bat-villains in his pictures, so that rules out characters like Clayface or Mr Freeze. Catwoman and Poison Ivy are good characters, but don’t exude a real quality of menace that Nolan seems to like. The Mad Hatter and Victor Szasz are too obscure. The Riddler would be decent, except he shares a few similarities with the Joker but lacks the psychotic terror; so there’s a danger of him being perceived as a Joker-lite.

I think the best choice for the next Batman villain is clearly Bane. Here’s an adversary that can challenge Batman mentally and physically; someone who can outplan him and someone who can definitely out-muscle him. It’s true his strength is mainly fueled by a chemical called “venom” that makes him superhumanly powerful, but that can be dialed down a little, and an exotic steroid cocktail is not so far out of the realm of possibility as to seem out of place in Christopher Nolan’s Bat-universe. [Note: Certainly not any more than Verizon-sponsored sonar... –ed.] Bane is the man who, in the comic books, used strategy to break Batman down mentally and emotionally, and then finally broke him in a very literal, physical sense by snapping his spine. I think this is clearly a character who can pull his own weight and can be an awesome presence on the silver screen.

-Caesar Martini

The Case for the Riddler

The Dark Knight has shown us just how crucial casting is. While role-related burnout has cost Bale his basic human decency and Ledger his life, the general consensus is that it was worth it for those performances. So, it is with great trepidation that I recommend that Sam Rockwell sacrifice his well being, accept the Batman curse, and play The Riddler.

If you don’t know Sam Rockwell, please have a look at Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, one of the most criminally underappreciated movies ever. Rockwell’s dark charisma and showy presence make him a clear choice for a villain. However, it’s the layers in his work that make him worthy of being a Nolan-series Batman villain. Rockwell has the ability to be slippery and nasty, yet simultaneously exude an unsettling wounded quality that’s even evident in this trailer for Choke. Now, if you question whether he’s got the gravitas for a more serious role like this, I direct you back the scene in Confessions where he meets with Hans Keeler (Batman Begins alumnus Rutger Hauer) to talk about their old work.

So, now I’ve argued for Rockwell, why the Riddler? I think Batman is most interesting when challenged by mindfucks. The insinuation with Bruce Wayne/Batman is always that he hasn’t got it all together upstairs, so the more his antagonists can attack him not just physically but psychologically, the more interesting. We need to see Batman pushed to the brink of really losing it.

What would Riddler do? It goes without saying we’re ditching the spandex and donning something a little simpler. Riddler in the new series could be less of a constructor of elaborate puzzles and riddles and more of a liar, a conman, a fraud. I think he could have a public life where he’s worked his way up to Bruce Wayne’s social echelon through charm and deception. Learning Bruce Wayne’s secret (liars always spot their own) would infuriate him as he’d found a man who had contrived the greatest lie imaginable. As we’re going to have Batman as an outcast and fugitive in the next movie, I’d like to see a villain who specializes at villainizing Batman. The Riddler could frame Batman, disgrace Wayne, and run them both through the wringer — all because he couldn’t stand that Wayne was a bigger liar than he was.

-Leo K. Moncel

Well, that’s enough post-Dark Knight Support Group exercises for one update, so tune in Monday and see if anyone actually thinks that they can take a stab at making Mr. Freeze believable. Hey, The Animated Series didn’t do too bad a job if I remember correctly…

Kung Fu Panda Reviewed

Posted by film On June - 24 - 2008

Kung Fu Panda
Directed by Mark Osborne, John Stevenson
Dreamworks Pictures 2008

By Caesar Martini

When I first heard about this movie, I was totally jacked about it. I mean, a CGI kung fu fighting panda? With other kung fu critters that fight according to their respective animal styles? Sign me up! Then I started seeing previews and it all seemed underwhelming. I worried about the over-the-top wackiness of Jack Black, the lack of story, and the lack of awesome kung fu moves that the trailers kept showing me.

Man, I was SOOOOOOO wrong! KFP is a bastion of awesomeness from start to finish! The movie opens with a comical and heavily stylized 2D animated scene, so effective that if the whole movie were animated in this style, I would have been happy. In fact, if someone at Dreamworks is reading this, do me a solid and make a whole movie in that wicked 2D style. And if you could have it hand-delivered to my house by a brigade of supermodel strippers, that would be swell, thanks.

After that opening scene, the standard CGI animation takes over and the movie begins. It’s the story of Po (Black), a tubby panda who works in his dad’s noodle shop, but who is obsessed with kung fu. Unfortunately he knows about as much kung fu as my grandma. His heroes are the Fearless Five [Ed. Note: Not to be confused with hip hop legends the Furious Five], a group of kung fu fighters who live in a mountain temple overlooking Po’s village. One of the Five is to be selected as the Dragon Warrior, which I understand is an ultimate badass kung fu mofo of some sort. When Po goes to watch the ceremony, he is somehow selected as the Dragon Warrior, much to the annoyance of everybody.

Po strives to learn kung fu from his new teacher, Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), but he is clumsy and hopeless and running out of time. One of Shifu’s old students has escaped prison and is on his way to claim the Dragon Warrior title for himself by force.

Everything in KFP gels amazingly well. Jack Black’s voice is blended perfectly with Po’s mannerisms and expressions. I can’t recall the last time I saw a 3D animated movie where the voice went along so well with the visuals of the character. It was really amazing. And Po is so geeky and eager it’s impossible not to like him. In fact, all the characters matched up very well with the stars who voiced them; it was solid vocal casting all around.

And the directing is really fun. The animation is impressive and the kung fu scenes are enjoyable to watch. I really enjoyed the slow-motion moments that were occasionally inserted into the action scenes. It provided an extra source of coolness (and humour) in an already pretty damn cool movie.

My only complaint is that the Fearless Five don’t really have enough screen time. Why pay all these famous actors to supply voices for characters that are criminally underused? Seth Rogen (Mantis) has like, three lines in the whole movie, and Jackie Chan (Monkey) has maybe two. There definitely needed to be some more fighting and dialogue from the Fearless Five.

Otherwise, fantastic movie. It’s entertaining and doesn’t derive its jokes from an onslaught of pop-culture references, like so many other CGI efforts. KFP is the best CGI movie I’ve seen in at least a year.

“I love KUNG FUUUUUUUUUUU!!!”

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
Directed by John Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg
New Line Cinemas 2008

By Caesar Martini

Oh, Harold and Kumar, you wacky stoner scoundrels.  Your foray to White Castle led you on a cheetah-filled, weed-fueled, hang-gliding rampage of self-discovery.  What shenanigans will you get into on your journey to Amsterdam?  Oh, thrown into Gitmo.  Of course.

At the end of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle our two heroes, stoned and full of sliders, decide on a not-at-all-creepy trip to Amsterdam to visit this girl that Harold kissed on an elevator. However, on the flight there, they are mistaken for terrorists and thrown into Guantanamo Bay, the infamous prison for enemies of the United States. Through a stroke of luck, H & K escape within about fifteen minutes and are on the run as fugitives with an extremely prejudiced and moronic government agent (Rob Corddry) hot on their tails. Oh, and there’s something about Kumar’s ex-girlfriend in there. She smokes pot too!

If you liked the first H&K, I see no real reason you shouldn’t enjoy this one. Just imagine the first one without the cheetah and add a ridiculous amount of full-frontal female nudity (seriously, ridiculous), and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what the sequel is all about. I mean, Jesus. You don’t see that much vag in a strip club [Editor's note: Caesar goes to the wrong strip clubs]. It’s silly, over-the-top, and stupid, but all in a good way.

Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay isn’t quite as amusing as the first one, but it’s definitely funny and worthwhile. And yes, Neil Patrick Harris returns and he is AWESOME, even though his part is almost as brief as it was in the first one. I kind of want to be Neil Patrick Harris. Well, the Harold & Kumar version of him. Not the real life version who has to act with Britney Spears.

Speed Racer

Posted by film On June - 6 - 2008

Also a subliminal advertisement for stimulant narcotics.

Directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski
Warner Bros., 2007

By Caesar Martini

I know, most of you are thinking, “What Racer? Speed who?” For the unfamiliar, Speed Racer was a Japanese cartoon imported to North America during the sixties. It was widespread and somewhat groundbreaking in comparison to other cartoons being shown in North America, but its popularity hasn’t really lasted over the proceeding four decades. As far as I can gather (I’ve never seen it), the cartoon was about a very literally-named character, Speed Racer (as in first name Speed, last name Racer), who raced in futuristic races with his famous car, the Mach-5. He also had a little brother and a chimp who would always stow away in the trunk and help him win races — God knows how.

It’s said that one of the earliest examples of bullet-time appeared in an episode of Speed Racer; this might be why the bullet-time-happy Wachowski Brothers (Bound, The Matrix trilogy) decided to adapt this cartoon into a live action movie.

Say what you will about their choice of material (“Speed Racer? Really??” were my first words on the matter), the Wachowskis are amazing visual directors. Watching this film is like looking through a kaleidoscope on LSD. Everything is super-colourful: the reds are super-red, the purples are super-purple, and so on. It looks so vibrant and rich that you suspect the paint they used for the sets was made from Walt Disney’s blood. And the racing action is awesome; jumps and turns and spins and hyper-fast speeds. For Nintendo veterans, it’s like watching an F-Zero race in real life.

So it’s nice to look at. What about the rest? Well, the plot of the movie is fairly simple: Speed uses his awesome car and mad racing skills to somehow fight against evil and corrupt corporations. This movie looks like it’s for kids – and it is – but there are some grown-up concepts in there, such as corporate influence in sports, and family strife. Because of the kiddy slant to the movie, I never really got caught up in it, but had fun watching just the same.

The Wachowskis have made a unique movie here. They used some crazy directing tricks and a gorgeous colour palette to translate and represent a cartoon into a real life movie, and they did a fantastic job of it. It really is like you’re watching a cartoon or a video game. In this way, the movie is a great success, and anyone who watches movies for visual presentation should treat themselves to this.

Sadly, it’s struggling at the box office — I think adults see the ads and think it’s solely for kids, and kids see ads for this movie and go, “What the hell is a Speed Racer?” In a way, I think it’s almost too literal a translation. Speed Racer is a niche property, and the Wachowskis didn’t really expand it or update it very much for a wider audience. But the twenty-five or so Speed Racer cartoon fans out there should be on cloud nine.

I am Iron Man’s review

Posted by film On June - 3 - 2008

Iron Man
Directed by Jon Favreau
Marvel Studios 2008

By Caesar Martini

Iron Man is the first Marvel superhero movie to have actually been put out by Marvel Studios; previous efforts have always run through a bigger studio (e.g., Sony had Spider-Man, Fox had X-Men). When a bunch of three-piece suited studio executives who have never read a comic book produce a superhero movie, they destroy the material and create a horrid afterbirth of a film that makes you want to beat them to death with a pillowcase full of kittens (I’m talking to YOU, makers of Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Elektra, Batman 3 and 4, etc., etc.) This was a big test for Marvel Studios. A lot hinged on this film. They not only hit a home run, but they knocked the ball out of the park, over the street, and into the living room of your grandmother, who was subsequently hospitalized for an awesomeness overdose. This is probably one of the three best comic-bookmovie adaptations ever.

Iron Man is the story of billionaire inventor Tony Stark, who is captured and held hostage by terrorists. Wounded, he constructs a device to protect his heart from the shrapnel in his chest. He also constructs a suit of armor that he uses to escape captivity. Once free, he returns home, refines his suit, and becomes an iron-clad superhero.

The team behind the movie really knew the material; they streamlined and even improved it for presentation on the big screen. Small changes have resulted in a film that makes more sense than the comic book. Iron Man hasn’t exactly been a household name like Spider-Man and Batman. However, by taking core elements of the character and the comic and combining them with blockbuster sensibility, the team created a brilliant, sexy merging. The story and pacing are good, the special effects are great, and the dialogue is fantastic: it’s all friggin’ awesome.

A large part of the credit goes to Jon Favreau. This is his first time directing a big action movie, and he didn’t succumb to the typical “action-scenes-look-better-if-you-shake-the-camera-around-like-you’re-having-a-seizure” mentality; thank god for action scenes where I can actually tell what’s going on. Many elements of the film call on the character’s comic-book history. Examples include Tony Stark’s womanizing and extravagance, and the foreshadowing of his alcoholism, little touches that go a long way.

The rest of the credit should go to Robert Downey Jr., who was phenomenal as Tony Stark. In fact, his portrayal of Tony Stark in the film is better than the comic-book character as originally written. He’s charming, witty, likable, brilliant, and driven, but also terribly flawed. I know some critics are saying, “Ooh, Downey Jr. playing a rich alcoholic womanizing playboy, what a stretch.” Regardless, he’s amazing. Besides, I think Downey liked the nose candy more than the booze.

The chemistry between actors is undeniable, and it gives the entire picture a very authentic feel. Watching someone fly through the air in an iron suit of death and blast the crap out of things is awesome in itself, but this film would be less rewarding without the real and entertaining human interactions that support the action. I enjoyed watching scenes with Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow almost as much as I enjoyed watching Iron Man play mid-air cat-and-mouse with two fighter jets.

Comic-book superhero movies don’t get much better than this.

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