Geek Apocalypse

So I loved Chloe Moretz in Kick-Ass and the audacity of having an 11 year-old midget-sized girl murder dozens of bad guys with pistols and knives and swords, and I was also able to half-enjoy, at times, the suspended idiocy and self-referential absurdity that director Matthew Vaughn uses to explain away all the stuff that wouldn’t otherwise work and in fact would choke a horse.

Warning: Kick-Ass spoilers lie ahead. Spoilers, I mean, for those who haven’t watched the recent trailers and don’t know what the shot is and haven’t been to any comic-book action films over the last decade or so.

The problem for me is that hard-bodied, highly trained little girls like Moretz might be able to hurt or dodge or out-kick older heavier guys, but little girls are utterly incapable of whipping older, muscular, bigger-guys’ asses, and you can totally forget about these same whippersnappers wiping out several guys in one crazy-ass, stabbing, kick-boxing, balletic shoot-em-up and slice-and-dice. Even if you stretch physics like turkish taffy in an exaggerated fantasy realm, it’s completely ridiculous.

During the big finale Moretz’s Hit Girl becomes Neo in The Matrix. She wipes out 17 or 18 guys, if not more, and at one point dodges a bullet. (I think.) All comic-book action is lunacy, of course, but Kick-Ass takes things to a new extreme. It’s another exaggerated, self-mocking piece of ludicrous action pulp, only this time it takes you over the waterfalls. It’s not happening in a cyber-realm but a comic-book realm, which means that absolutely anything can happen and nothing matters. And yet in the minds of Vaughn and the geeks who are having kittens over this film, this is a cool way to go.

All they care about is the fact that Hit Girl rules. Which she does. I get that. I love Moretz in this thing. But we’ve come to a point in which the comic-book sensibility that allows her to run wild is ruining action movies. It’s been doing this for years, of course, but I was really fuming about this last night. “Where does this crap end?,” I was asking myself. “What’s next — a five-year-old action hero? How about a cat — not a cartoon cat Felix but an actual Siamese or Abyssinian or Tabby who shoots Glocks and beats the shit out of human hitmen and drug-dealers who are ten times his size and outweigh him by over 200 pounds? Why not?”

It’s gotten to the point that I’d like to arrest and incarcerate every last geek-pandering filmmaker and every last pudgy-bodied, ComicCon-attending comic-book fan and truck them all out to re-education camps in the desert and make them do calisthenics in the morning and swear off junk food and straighten their heads out about the real value of great action movies, and how their stupid allegiance to comic-book values is poisoning the well.

I’m sorry but Kick-Ass pushed me over the edge. I know I’m mostly alone on this. I understand that 94% of the mostly male, action-savoring audience is going to be more or less down with Kick-Ass and calling me clueless, etc. John Anderson, a very sharp critic and no slouch, was sitting in the front row of my screening and seemed to be half-chuckling and enjoying himself as the lights came up. I spoke after the screening to a respected critic for a well-known weekly, and even he was giving it a pass. I know it’s over. The temple walls are cracking. I realize that.

I’ve come to truly despise comic-book action flicks, and particularly the metastisizing comic-book sensibility in mainstream movies, for a reason. By this I mean the total disregard by comic-book filmmakers for setting up the rules and the reality system in which amazing things might happen within the world of a film. Just telling the audience “hey, it’s a comic thing” doesn’t cut it.

I am ready and willing to buy anything when I sit down for a movie. I will accept any bullshit premise you throw at me (even the idea of opening a small door, crawling through a mud tunnel, becoming John Malkovich for five minutes and ending up on the New Jersey Turnpike) as long as you allow me to buy it. Set it up for me…please! All I ask is that you pour the cement and bolt down the beams before making the film.

All the comic-book guys ever seem to say is “look, man…it’s cool to watch and it’s funny and has great CG…isn’t that enough?”

The current Comic-Con sensibility is primarily a product of (a) the Asian martial arts boom of the early ’90s, (b) the Quentin Tarantino hipster handbook (everything is smirky-ironic, all action is derivative and self-referential, violence is a style fetish, aping or referencing the sensibility of ’70s exploitation is a holy calling) and (c) the Robert Rodriguez B-movie, shameless-wallow sensibility in which macho action cliches are seen as eternally cool. Plus the influence of Marvel and Ang Lee‘s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the sad willingness of the faithful to cream in their pants for pretty much any super-hero of any kind.

All these influences have grown into an attitude and a sensibility that is working like cancer upon the action genre. For it’s not just comic book movies but all action flicks that are covered with this sauce.

Every year there are more and more comic-book/fantasy movies and directors and writers who are not only opposed to but actively doing their best to undermine the concept of action you can believe in. By this I mean action sequences (including physical combat/martial-arts moves) taking place in a realm that the filmmakers have carefully prepared and guided and persuaded you to accept as semi-trustable and “real” as far as it goes.

I’ll always be cool with smart metaphor actioners like The Matrix, but I’m worried that we might be moving into a world in which there will be very little allegiance or respect for the kind of violence that really hurts and bruises and is scary to face. A world in which guns fire randomly or accidentally (remember that bit in Out of Sight when the guy fell on the stairs and shot himself?). And has foot chases that involve fatigue and heavy breathing. And beatings that bear at least a slight resemblance to schoolyard or back-alley beatings that you might have observed as a kid in which guys don’t get clobbered so hard and so often that they’d be dead in reality, or at least maimed for life.

The vast majority of action films used to live by the realism creed. Now it’s pretty much the exception to the rule. Many if not most action films these days are committed to the willfully surreal if not absurd. They’re all angled towards aficionados of Asian sword-and-bullet ballet. We seem to be fast approaching a time in which the Wachowski brothers’ The Matrix, Tony Scott‘s Man on Fire, Phillip Noyce‘s Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games, Wiliam Friedkin‘s The French Connection, Kathryn Bigelow‘s The Hurt Locker, Fernando MeirellesCity of God and Alfonso Cuaron‘s masterful Children of Men will be seen as icons of a bygone age.

Comic-book action filmmakers aren’t fit to shine Cuaron’s shoes. They aren’t fit to wipe up phlegm that he spits on the sidewalk when he has a cold. All they’re fit to do is follow the system that we have in place in which the director of the next comic-book movie feels obliged and is in fact eager to top the last director of the last comic book movie, but always without setting it up — they just do it, knowing that the ComicCon and South by Southwest faithful will lap it up and yell “Yeeaahhhh!”

  • Fabio Augusto

    I think you meant “Alfonso Cuaron’s masterful Children of Men” or “Fernando Meirelles’ masterful City of God”.

  • Rich S.

    “Comic-book action filmmakers aren’t fit to shine Cuaron’s shoes. They aren’t fit to wipe up phlegm that he spits on the sidewalk when he has a cold.”

    Christopher Nolan will probably be deeply depressed when he hears this.

    By the way, I doubt Cuaron spits phlegm on the sidewalk. It’s unsanitary.

  • George Prager

    KICK-ASS (The Grown-up version)::

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPrWidRLL1w

  • Vinessa Shaw

    Thanks for that post, Prager. I love me some Lee Marvin.

    He makes my nether-mouth all tingly. Though, not as much as Steve McQueen.

  • Vinessa Shaw

    Touche, Rich! He’s got you on that one, Wells.

  • MDOC

    Jeff is taking a cranky “I don’t get it approach” to Kick Ass and comic book movies as a whole? No way, this must be an April Fools joke.

    I was expecting a column praising Kick Ass and a deep discussion of how it takes it’s place among the greats such As Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Superman 4.

  • Eloi Manning

    Christopher Nolan employs realistic action sequences within a comic book world. It can definitely be done.

  • Vinessa Shaw

    And that’s exactly why Nolan was so successful at rebooting the Batman franchise, Eloi.

    And he deserves a lot of credit for being able to walk that line.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    I’m sorry, yes…Nolan is cool. he operates within a system. Totally respectable fellow and in some ways a visionary. I can’t wait for next summer’s Leo film. But The Dark Knight was pretty flourishly and wacked-extreme in terms of the action and the violence at times.

  • Eloi Manning

    I get Wells’ point though. I’ve said it before myself on these boards: having a character like Hit Girl, who clearly isn’t bound by any of the normal laws of physics, completely undermines the central premise of ordinary people playing superhero. The whole point was that these characters are regular people with normal human vulnerabilities, and not the invincible superheroes of the comics. So why then destroy this set-up by including a 13-year old girl with Matrix-esque moves? Makes no sense.

    .

  • MrTribeca

    To paraphrase yourself, Jeff, I’m going to adjust my standards, put on my Robert Rodriguez hat and say “fuck it, I don’t care, bring on the Kick-Ass” as the lights go down.

  • larry braverman

    So if a movie has ‘true batshit insanity’ and it’s ads are plastered all over your site it’s “smart and nuts and anarchic”.

    But if it’s based on a comic book it’s “exaggerated fantasy realm” is “completely ridiculous”?

    Also: “Every action film used to live by the realism creed”

    Really? How far back are you going with this?

  • Vinessa Shaw

    Absolutely, ELOI. The movie it trying to have it both ways.

  • Vinessa Shaw

    Larry, I think he’s going back as far as…The French Connection. But I still get what he’s saying.

  • DeeZee

    Jeff: So does this mean you’re now part of Team Expendables?

    “And beatings that bear at least a slight resemblance to schoolyard or back-alley beatings that you might have observed as a kid in which guys don’t get clobbered so hard and so often that they’d be dead in reality, or at least maimed for life.”

    You might wanna check out Blue Spring.

  • LexG

    Honestly, did we all know there were THAT many people who gave a shit about COMIC BOOKS in the first place?

    Like, will this current fanboy/comic thing EVER end? I am not exaggerating for effect when I say I NEVER READ A SINGLE COMIC BOOK IN MY LIFE, EVER, except in 1983 when I had that Creepshow novelization comic, and last year when I read Watchmen to see what the fuss was about.

    In between, not only did I never read a comic, but I NEVER KNEW A SINGLE OTHER PERSON GROWING UP who was into comics. My high school had like 1000 students, and there wasn’t ONE KID who ever had a comic book, and if he did, he would’ve gotten his ass beat the fuck DOWN by the football team for being a dork. NO ONE read comic books in the 70s, 80s or 90s. It’s just like CARTOON MOVIES and how suddenly teens and adults go to see Pixar.

    At my high school, if you’d have said, “I”m going to see Ratatouille tonight,” you would’ve been called a pussy and beaten into the ground harder than anything, ever. Same thing if you’d brandished some X-MEN comic. (If it hadn’t been for heavy metal videos singing its praises, TO THIS DAY I swear NO ONE IN AMERICA HAD HEARD OF THE X-MEN until the movie came out.)

    Like, who read this shit as a kid? When it was 1985 and I was 12, NOBODY had EVER heard of X-MEN or FANTASTIC FOUR or ANYTHING except for Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man. And MAYBE Hulk.

    The rest of this shit was SO FRINGE, it is MYSTIFYING that it’s THE NUMBER ONE THING that grown adults and SO-CALLED FANBOY CRITICS want to see.

    Christ, be a MAN and go watch a cop movie or something with ADULTS. A lot of this stems from the whole STAR WARS generation of geeks just LOVING that hero narrative of “even the smallest person can be a superhero” BULLSHIT.

    Fuck that. FUCK IT. That’s bullshit for meek dorks who need to RISE UP and because God. There IS NO GOD, just you. Which is why I like Michael Bay movies, because they’re made from the point of view of bullies and assholes, not some fruity hobbit with disgusting hairy feet or Luke Douchewalker being all aw-shucks or Peter Parker being a pussy. Even when he’s forced to kind of do it with the Shia character in the Transformers, he still kinda rags on his lead character and views him like the head jock or Billy Zabka character from Karate Kid was forced to direct a movie about the kid whose lunch money he just stole.

    Like, I honestly think these AICN type dudes literally think that they somehow are a Hobbit or Skywalker or Peter Parker, instead of wanting to be some awesome black guy in shades or Tony Montana or Nino Brown shooting off guns and banging oily chicks and bumping hip-hop and doing coke.

    Plus they think Asian people can fly…. and that Asian people can actually make good movies (HAHAHAHA!)

    How did we ever let the 200 fat fringe goatee guys in America decide that the rest of us need to know about comic books and martial arts?

  • Colin

    “But The Dark Knight was pretty flourishly and wacked-extreme in terms of the action and the violence at times.” – Wells

    While it hard a lot of tension regarding violence they never showed Dent shooting anyone, or the Joker slitting the mobster’s throat. Kick-Ass features beheadings and the brutal beating of an 11 y.o. girl. Wildly different.

  • Colin

    *while it had

  • York “Budd” Durden

    Lex, I agree with you, for the most part. Fuck all these comic book movies. In fact, fuck movies in general.

  • LexG

    I’m DZ-level pleased with my unprovable theory that NO ONE IN AMERICA read a comic book from 1977 to 1990, i.e. my formative years in American public schools.

  • 62Lincoln

    Jeff, I think the other influence is VIDEO GAMES and the (probably) 2 generations that have grown up with them. I am not of those generations, but from the small amount I see in advertisements for new game releases, there seems to be a definite cross pollenization that have lead to the influences you cite.

  • televisiontears

    Lex, I was sorta with you until the weirdly racist part. As someone who openly admits to not watching foreign films or anything in b&w, how do you feel qualified to say this?

  • Vinessa Shaw

    Clearly you have not seen Unbreakble, Lex. The statistics that play on a title card in the beginning of that film are quite staggering.

    Your world view seems limited to what you’ve only seen with your own eyes. Comic book buying and collecting is HUGE industry. But I agree with you, sweetie. ENOUGH already!

  • LexG

    When did I ever say I don’t watch black and white? I don’t think I’ve ever said that.

    “Weirdly racist”? That’ll be news to my last several girlfriends. Of course, I live in Los Angeles, where they don’t HAVE Caucasian women. But I digress. It’s not “racist” to say that fanboys have this objectification of Asian culture as inherently “cool!”, which is kind of more racist than dismissing it out of hand. A bunch of basement dwellers who think Jackie Chan rocks! and Chinese guys are badass! and Asian women are delicate flowers!

    All of those are dumb-ass, annoying stereotypes that come courtesy of comic book fanboy DORKS, who wouldn’t watch an inner city black movie or listen to a rap album if you put a gun to their head, but it’s all automatically COOL if Donnie Yen is doing it.

    BOW.

  • DeeZee

    Lex: Well, no one who wasn’t a collector already.

    I had friends who were into collecting Marvel,

    and I knew some dudes who were into Spawn, but the only shit I read on a consistent basis was Alpha Flight. Though that series wouldn’t meet the geek seal of approval, and thus had a small following. The stuff which was big growing up for me was Star Wars, Transformers, He-Man, and Indiana Jones. I’m guessing the early to mid-90s cartoons of the DC and Marvel stuff were really what helped make those properties less nerdy.

    “and that Asian people can actually make good movies (HAHAHAHA!)”

    Dude, have you seen Ichi yet?

    As for Transformers, what jock would believe Megan Fox can fix a car? No, Bay’s just the equivalent of a frat boy who didn’t make the cut on the football team try-outs, because he kept drinking his dad’s secret stash.

  • Eloi Manning

    “While it hard a lot of tension regarding violence they never showed Dent shooting anyone, or the Joker slitting the mobster’s throat. “

    Yeah, a lot of the violence in The Dark Knight was implied. Even the famous scene of The Joker smashing that guy’s face into the pencil wasn’t shown in any detail.

  • CMed1

    DZ, the fact that you read Alpha Flight is very funny to me.

  • George Prager

    Best LexG post ever.

    The only kid I knew growing up that was into comics was a kid who drew them really well.

  • DeeZee

    Eloi: That’s why I’m hoping for some “unrated” version of that film.

  • dkaye

    The problem is not comic-book movies in general. Nolan, whether you like the movies or not, set up a world in his Batman movies that was plausible and obeyed basic rules of physics and physicality. Even the X-Men movies — at least the first two — lay down a premise and ground rules for a universe in which mutants have sprung from mankind. But if Kick-Ass is supposed to be everyday people like Hit Girl and Kick-Ass himself doing the fighting, with no mutations, superpowers or whatever, and they’re suddenly able to defy gravity and whatnot, then yeah, your grievance is well taken.

    If you’re gonna establish the world you’re showing as the “real” world, then keep the violence and action “real” as well. Some filmmakers are paying attention to this and some aren’t, whether the movies are comic-based or not.

  • Eloi Manning

    I like Batman. He’s great. Just a great character.

    I like the idea of Spider-Man, and I like Superman. Iron Man is okay, I suppose.

    But goddamn, I cannot be arsed with these second-tier superheroes. Even the Fantastic Four, who are supposedly some Marvel treasure, are fucking stupid. Captain America? Shit. Green Lantern? Ultra-shit. Thor? Fuck off.

  • moviesquad

    Sorry, I stopped giving Nolan’s batman a “realism” pass with all that cellphone goofery in The Dark Knight.

    Still love Nolan though. And Jeff’s love/hate thing with Hit-Girl makes little to no sense. He loves the unrealistic concept of it, but he hates it when it gets too unrealistic.

  • Conan Riquelme

    I read Superhero comics as a little kid. I read actual books, too, and would suggest that comics encourage literacy in young boys.

    I still read Superhero comics now, as a father and husband with an English Lit degree. And not as a guilty pleasure; the genre has its good material and its bad. Anything written by Grant Morrison is worth a look, for example. But comics as a medium is just as rich as any other, obviously, and its a shame that in comics, the mainstream is actually a narrow little genre of brightly costumed musclemen punching each other. I get the stigma Lex is basing his comment on and I get Jeff’s angst about the corrupting influence of the genre on action cinema.

    I don’t like Superhero movies anymore than anybody else. But a good film is a good film. Dark Knight, the Incredibles, Spider-Man 2 – all great Superhero movies.

    I think of greater concern is the influence of Video games on modern action and genre cinema. In visual style, in narrative structure – the aesthetic seen in Kick-Ass owes as much to modern video games as it does to modern comics, even if the concepts are obviously concerned with comic iconography and themes. Lots of bad action directors seem to echo video games in their films these days rather than other movies, literature or comics. Zack Snyder, Louis Letterier etc.

  • Gordn27

    I keep seeing people say the same thing about ‘Kick-Ass’ here, that it’s supposed to be “realistic” and yet the stuff they do is “unrealistic”. Now, I don’t know what ad you’ve been watching, but they’re certainly not SELLING the movie as remotely realistic. The whole thing is obviously hyper-stylized.

    Yet, you all give Nolan’s Batman a pass, and, to me, that’s a movie that is trying really really really really hard to be absolutely realistic… when suddenly the super-villain shows up, faked his own death, and describes his plans to poison Gotham’s water supply, just like every comic book villain for the last thirty years.

    Ah well. I can’t believe that Jeff is such a movie Catholic that he enjoyed the movie and it hurts him inside so much he has to write a HUGE diatribe rejecting it anyway. Life’s too short, Jeff. If you enjoyed it, you enjoyed it. That’s all ‘Kick-Ass’ is going for.

  • mitchtaylor

    Preach it, Mr. Wells! Amen! One of the reasons action movies and comedies used to be better is that GRAVITY and NEWTONIAN PHYSICS were often the antagonists of the film.

  • Ray DeRousse

    Amen to what LexG said. Amen.

  • moviesquad

    LexG, I’m a bit surprised. I grew up in the same time period as you and never read a comic book either… but, of any of the posters on this site, I’d peg you as being the most likely comic book nerd.

    Even the way you write your posts is similar to a comic book.. BAM! POW! WHACK!

  • http://moviebob.blogspot.com THE MovieBob

    Jeff, I know where you’re coming from, but…

    “Every action film used to live by the realism creed.”

    Correction: A SLIM majority of predominantly American and European action films made from the late 60s to the early 80s lived by the realism creed. For the majority of cinema history – and in the majority of world cinema – exaggeration has been the rule, not the exception.

    Go back and watch action/adventure movies in the silent and early talkies era. You think a human being can do all those things fairbanks and flynn did at the pace they did them and survive? Ever try to swing on a rope the way Weismuller did from a “vine?” Hell, ever fall off a horse (without meaning to) and then get right the hell back up like guys do every two minutes even in John Ford westerns?

    “Realism” – in action, in lighting, in sound-recording, whatever – was a fetish that American/European filmmakers went through in the 70s. When the rather small number of places you can go with it had been gone to, it ended. For most of movie history, the only “setup” anyone needed to justify the strange or impossible were the words “Feature Presentation.”

    And, again, the notion that it happened in any sort of “big” way at all is entirely a Western thing: In the national cinemas of China, Hong Kong, Japan, India, etc. extra-natural stuff always happened “because it’s a movie” with not much bigger explanation needed (unless the guys can actually FLY, but thats a whole other thing.)

  • http://moviebob.blogspot.com THE MovieBob

    Oh, and Lex… I’m inclined to call “borat” on the act now: There’s no way I’m buying that someone who claims to be so out-of-the-loop on geek culture drops Donnie Yen as a reference ;)

    But in case your serious: The period you’re talking about was when comics and such were selling better than they’d sold since pre-WWII. You didn’t see people with them because they were doing it on their own, talking among their own, buying from specialty stores, etc – a mostly-hidden subculture, but well fed enough to grow up and basically take over the media/entertainment biz, at this point.

  • George Prager

    MovieBob is like the Lunch Lady of HE.

  • mitchtaylor

    It’s funny too, of course, that the ever-despised Wanted did everything Jeff is calling for in the above (establishing its rules and living by them) the best of any recent comic book style film.

  • Gordn27

    MovieBob – are you saying that Buster Keaton isn’t realistic? Well, okay, but I’ll hear not a word against Harold Lloyd hanging from two different clock towers!

  • George Prager

    Shorter every single one of MovieBob’s comments:

    “When I was your age I was never bored.”

  • http://martiansattackingindianapolis.blogspot.com/ Josh Massey

    Born in ’76, still have never read a comic book cover-to-cover. And I was a pop culture savant in the ’80s and ’90s – and yet I couldn’t have named a single non-Wolverine X-Men character before Singer’s film.

    I’m with Lex. Didn’t know a single comic book reader growing up. And I also tried to read Watchmen before the movie, and quit halfway through. My brain just wasn’t trained for it – I’d find myself reading just the words for pages, and then realizing it, going back and looking at the pictures, and then find myself just looking at the pictures, then going back and reading the words – FUCK THAT SHIT.

  • http://derekmonster.blogspot.com/ derekmonster

    Compare Indiana Jones in the original RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK with the Indiana Jones of KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL and you get a good demonstration of Well’s point….

    Still, I don’t think it’s fair to lump any and all movies based on Comic Books into one general category. Remember, films like HISTORY OF VIOLENCE and ROAD TO PERDITION are based on comics. It’s a Graphic Medium that is attractive to filmmakers because it juxtaposes words and images to tell a story…

  • Jeffrey Wells

    “Wanted” was sickening in its excessive zeal. I hated it.

  • moviesquad

    So, Jeff, do you recommend Kick-Ass or is the over-the-topness of Hit-girl enough to make you pan the whole thing? I’m still a little confused that the one thing you loved most about the movie, Hit-girl, is also the same thing you use to tear the movie to shreds.

  • MDOC

    Comics book were a big deal in the early 90s. I was in high school and I read a ton. I never talked openly about it, but there were a few of us.

    Comics were a big deal back then Todd McFarland made enough money to spend a million dollars a few years later on a Barry Bonds baseball.

    The whole market crashed in the mid 90s and more than half of the comics stores closed.

  • CitizenKanedforChewingGum

    “My brain just wasn’t trained for it – I’d find myself reading just the words for pages, and then realizing it, going back and looking at the pictures, and then find myself just looking at the pictures, then going back and reading the words – FUCK THAT SHIT.”

    Sarah Palin: My Struggle…the autobiography that won’t be hitting bookstores this summer!

  • facls

    I think you meant “Alfonso Cuaron’s masterful Children of Men” or “Fernando Meirelles’ masterful City of God”.

  • DeeZee

    Gordon: Yes, because criminals don’t ever fake their deaths in real life.

    moviesquad: Lex is probably more like the kind of nerd who used to take movies like Porky’s and the Dalton Bond movies seriously. And I think Jeff likes Moretz, but hates Vaughn.

    Bob: He probably saw the Miramaxed Iron Monkey.

    Josh: I could finish Watchmen, but I didn’t connect with it like other readers. I think you seriously have to be familiar with and appreciative of the eras that thing includes in its story. For me, it just feels like a lazy tribute.

  • CitizenKanedforChewingGum

    “I could finish Watchmen, but I didn’t connect with it like other readers.”

    What exactly have you been able to connect with like other readers?

  • LexG

    Speaking of “geeky” things (and yes I know this is an OT stretch, but the most recent Clash thread is half a page down, and merely whining about it on Twitter wasn’t satisfying enough…)

    WHAT is that HORRIBLE (ie, awesome) “metal” theme they play in the CLASH OF THE TITANS trailer? Is that trailer music IN the movie? First couple times I saw the trailer, I thought it was amusingly cheesy, but last night (for NO reason, since it’s not even a Fox movie), CLASH “sponsored” American Idol and they ran extensive clips and plugged the premiere, and I got to hear that trailer music again. It’s been in my head ALL DAY, that canned “escalating” prog-metal dorkiness, ESPECIALLY that part where it goes DUH DUH DUH in time with the claws stomping near Worthington.

    It’s SO on the nose and Ren Faire and terrible it’s almost a work of genius, at least how they cut the trailer to it. Is that ACTUALLY the score? It’s honestly some of the most aggressively terrible music I’ve ever heard in my life, ever.

  • DeeZee

    Kane: Manga.

  • DeeZee

    Glenn: That didn’t seem to stop them in The Cat Returns…

  • DeeZee

    Looks like being John Malkovich isn’t enough when you’re dealing with Madoff’s lawyers.

  • DeeZee

    Oh, and from Digital Bits:

    Fox and MGM are officially releasing The Man with No Name Trilogy on Blu-ray Disc here in the States on 6/1 (SRP $69.99). The 3-disc set will include A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and the previously released The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Most (if not all) the extras from the previous DVD editions will likely be included. Scroll down for a look at the cover art.

  • kantcdick

    DZ LEXG SITE (Future Excavations On Demand). Boring ass take on reality.

  • http://moviebob.blogspot.com/ THE MovieBob

    George,

    Uh…. I’m reasonably certain I’m one the youngest people “here” (I’m 29)

  • Geoff

    Lex, you really had me until…..Michael Bay.

    Come on, man – I think I’m just a couple of years younger than you and I KNOW that when I was in high school, if any kid proclaimed how he was going to see the Transformers movie that weekend, he would get hazed beyond belief. You can’t separate the two – Michael Bay has now made two 2 hour plus epics based on a FREAKING TOY!

    I am definitely with you guys on the comic book thing – there are plenty of guys my age NOW who claim they have loved comic books. They talk up Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns and stuff…..but sorry, these are the same folks who claim that the only music they listened to in the ’80’s was Husker Du BULLSHIT!

    Amazing how few white people in my age group could admit they liked MJ after he died, last year – year, SURE, only black people bought his records. Right, like there were even 28 million black people in the country back in 1984 – they were the only ones who owned Thriller, while all of the white kids my age were seeking out the latest Lou Reed opus. EVERY ONE listened to his stuff and no one was reading X Men. Agreed.

  • DeeZee

    Geoff: I liked MJ up until he dangled his kid from a balcony. But at least he still has an edge on Prince, in that I can watch his videos on Youtube without them being muted.

    Anyway, not sure if this is April Fools-worthy or not, but, Captain America’s side-kick found?

    Cast update on Tatum/Pacino drama.

    Latest developments on the fourth helping of Pie.

    Does Whedon have a career, again?

    Will the Hours guy break the 9/11 movie curse?

    Hey, hey, remember the 80s? [Line stolen from SNL gag.]

    MacGruber starting to get old.

  • Quantrell Bishop

    Is Wells getting paid by the word, ala Charles Dickens? Because this rant is the same paragraph rewritten 9 different ways. It’s almost amazing.

  • LexG

    Geoff… Indeed. I’ve said before, much as I like the Transformers movies, I wish Bay were directing other things, at least on the side… They’re such enormous spectacles and have to be cranked out every two years and he works on such a giant scale, he’s basically “the Transformers director” for the better part of a decade with no time to shoot in between.

    Kind of a complaint in general from me, that now THE goal for a great new director is to land a franchise… but then they just become the superhero guy for years on end– Raimi, Singer, Bay, Nolan (though at least he slips one in between Batmans). It’d be like it Spielberg spent 1976-1985 ONLY making “Jaws” sequels.

    I loved Bay’s run of The Rock through Bad Boys II, and when he was announced as “The Transformers” guy, I didn’t really see it. What was this awesome, amped-up flashy pussyhound maniac doing directing some dorky kids’ shit? Because, yes, I was 12 in 1985 and *I* was too old for the Transformers. It’s something 6-10-year-olds watched, not junior high kids. Or so I thought…. apparently all these 40-year-old CHUD and AICN guys were watching GI Joe and He-Man and Transformers, because they’re always Joe Expert. But, like, really? You guys were 12, 13, 15 or so and STILL watching Voltron and shit?

    So basically Bay has done the best thing possible with Transformers, which is to just turn it into Bay-porn and focus on the hardware, the cars, and Megan Fox’s body. But it’s still not the most natural fit and when he’s free of this series, I hope he goes back to doing his own insanity instead of being beholden to some known property that he seems to (rightly) have a bit of contempt for.

    It’d be like telling Abel Ferrara to adapt “RoboTech” and he turns it into a NYC-set Catholic guilt fest about a priest who wants to sell crystal meth to bisexual bikers.

  • LexG

    And as an addendum to that Spielberg line above…

    How AMAZING is it that in 1978, the concept of a “sequel” to THE FIRST BLOCKBUSTER EVER and one of the top-grossing movies of all time was such a disreputable proposition that not only did Spielberg have nothing to do with JAWS 2, but Universal just brought in relatively anonymous workhorse journeyman JEANNOT SWARC?

    Can we go back to those days???

    How AWESOME would it be if after BATMAN BEGINS, TRANSFORMERS or SPIDER-MAN hit pay dirt, their respective directors go on to do some other huge-scale masterwork, and the studio brings in like these guys for the sequels:

    DARK KNIGHT directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

    SPIDER-MAN 2 directed by Andy Fickman

    TRANSFORMERS 2 directed by Les Mayfield.

  • DeeZee

    Lex: I think that idea stopped being popular when we got Die Hard 2 and Batman Returns.

  • DeeZee

    I’d actually care if you were still hot.

  • LexG

    Die Hard 2 was a huge hit and (hard to believe now, since it seems so disreputable and LOW-RENT) a critical darling. No less than Siskel and Ebert championed it as infinitely superior to the original, and Renny was profiled EVERYWHERE as the hottest new gun in town.

    I assume you meant Batman Forever, but Schumacher was a well-established director with a noted visual flair and a good reputation as a class act and consistent moneymaker who always delivered on time and budget.

    I kind of see what you’re saying, but neither was a totally anonymous choice or huge come-down in reputation or profile. But you might have a point that that’s around the last era where they would hand franchises off to new guys (Ratner and X3 being a rare recent example.)

  • LexG

    DeeZee… PAQUIN POWER. BOW.

    Eh, actually, since Deez opened the floodgates, you know how every few days I rant about twentysomething actresses who don’t even look like themselves from FIVE YEARS ago?

    Paquin is EXHIBIT A. I don’t know if she’s on the Botox, had something done, or is just aging oddly, but somewhere between S1 and S2 of True Blood she seemed to have a HEAD TRANSPLANT, looks almost nothing like she did in her prime X-Men/25th Hour/Squid era, and suddenly looks 15 years older than her real age.

    Meanwhile Cruise looks EXACTLY like he did in 1983. Anna Paquin has morphed into an entirely different being.

  • DeeZee

    Yeah, the Batman titles start to sound alike after a while. I’m guessing that’s partly why they change ‘em up with the Bond movies. As for Die Hard 2, BOM has it at $70 million with only a $240 million gross, which, by today’s standards, would be considered a minor hit, seems a little on the small side, compared to the original’s take-at least if I take into account P+A. And Schumacher was only involved in small films up until Batman Forever. And I don’t ever remember them being big hits.

  • http://martiansattackingindianapolis.blogspot.com/2010/03/impulse-buy-and-this-time-it-was.html Josh Massey

    Christ, DZ – Die Hard 2 did almost $30 million more than the original, and was the 8th biggest box office hit of 1990 (last year’s equivalent: The Blind Side, which nobody is calling “a minor hit”).

  • TATE K.

    When I was in public school no one I knew read comics. When we moved I ended up going to a private school and EVERYONE read comics. It was all anybody wanted to talk about. The first kid I made friends with also came from a public school and he didn’t read comics either. To this day I have yet to read one. Like other on here have said: “Fuck that”

  • DeeZee

    Josh: Yeah, but with P+A, it probably only did slightly better. Not to mention that it’s peanuts, compared to the third film’s take.

  • Terry McCarty

    Re LexG’s post on JAWS 2–

    If I remember correctly, John BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY Hancock was a near-choice before Jeannot Szwarc.

  • Gordn27

    You know, as funny as it is when you guess that the P&A nowadays is enough to make a movie unprofitable, it’s really ridiculous to apply today’s P&A formula to a movie from 1990. I’m sure the $70 million being cited includes P&A, because there’s no way that ‘Die Hard 2′ represents $70 million 1990 dollars on screen.

  • Gordn27

    “Yes, because criminals don’t ever fake their deaths in real life.”

    Yeah, exactly. It’s a trope of fiction. Your sarcasm suggests that you’d like to argue, but your lack of even a single example suggests that you have nothing to say on the subject and should probably just shut up.

  • DeeZee

    Gordon: “because there’s no way that ‘Die Hard 2′ represents $70 million 1990 dollars on screen.”

    Oh, and Coming to America was also not profitable enough to pay Buchwald, too.

    “Yeah, exactly. It’s a trope of fiction.”

    http://www.justicenewsflash.com/2009/08/21/indiana-man-4-years-attempting-fake-death-plane-crash_200908211952.html

  • Gordn27

    “Oh, and Coming to America was also not profitable enough to pay Buchwald, too.”

    I assume that, by bringing up something unrelated, you’re conceding that I’m correct and trying to obscure it by throwing out your half-assed understanding of the ‘Coming to America’ lawsuit. Well, don’t let the facts dissuade you, but here’s one:

    Under the terms of Buchwald’s contract, Coming to America was not profitable enough to pay him anything. That is absolutely, 100% fact. Even his own lawyers didn’t disagree. That’s why the main point of their lawsuit was that the standard contract itself was unfair and illegal — and, unfortunately, the legal settlement removed the decision that it was from the courts.

    “DZ posts a stupid link”

    So, your point is that an idiot who tried to fake his own death because he saw it in fiction and immediately gets caught proves that master criminals fake their own death all the time (and then, despite being geniuses, re-expose themselves for no reason).

    Good link. You should read it, it’s a funny story. It’s about as comprable to Batman as most things you say are comprable to reality.

  • DeeZee

    Gordon: “you’re conceding that I’m correct and trying to obscure it by throwing out your half-assed understanding of the ‘Coming to America’ lawsuit. ”

    No, my point is that if Paramount was able to tack other expenses onto its official budget and try to make it look like Coming to America was even less profitable than it looks on paper, I don’t doubt that FOX tried to go the other way, and make Die Hard 2 seem like less of a disappointment by taking out P+A from the equation. Also, there are a lot of films which look way cheaper than they should be, given their budgets: Catwoman and Lovely Bones come to mind.

    “So, your point is that an idiot who tried to fake his own death because he saw it in fiction”

    Last time I checked, you said it never happens, and yet it did there. You wanted proof, and you got it. Now fucking admit you were wrong, or stop pretending you know better than Nolan about these things, when you haven’t even gotten out of the gate with your own pet project.

  • DeeZee

    Speaking of Lovely Bones, it looks like the budget went down to $65 million since we last brought it up. But it’s still too high, considering Marky Mark is the only name talent behind it.

  • Gordn27

    “Last time I checked, you said it never happens, and yet it did there.”

    No, it didn’t. He was arrested within 48 hours. Criminals escaping by successfully faking their own death is a trope of fiction.

    “I don’t doubt that FOX tried to go the other way, and make Die Hard 2 seem like less of a disappointment by taking out P+A from the equation.”

    So your point was that, since film companies lie all the time to hide net profits from participants, Fox would probably want to go the other way and pretend the film cost less than it did so they’d have to pay out more net profits?

    Well, that’s certainly an interesting theory. I notice you’re not offering any evidence, or any reason why it would’ve cost $70 million.

    “Also, there are a lot of films which look way cheaper than they should be, given their budgets: Catwoman and Lovely Bones come to mind.”

    Yes, I’m sure all that expensive CGI drove the budget of ‘Die Hard 2′ through the roof.

    “if Paramount was able to tack other expenses onto its official budget and try to make it look like Coming to America was even less profitable than it looks on paper”

    Wow, okay, so your response to “You know nothing about this lawsuit” is to double-down on your ignorance? Another fact: the whole lawsuit had very, very little to do with tacking other expenses on and, in fact, even after those expenses had been removed, it didn’t make any difference. The actual issue came down to what is called a “rolling break-even point”, when a movie has so many gross-points given out that a studio can, on paper, prove that it will never break even. The reason is that these payments are then charged against the movie, and the studio is given the chance to recoup *that* money before any net points are paid out.

    This is all explained quite well, and at some length, in that book about the Buchwald case, ‘Fatal Subtraction’. I’d suggest you read it before you try to talk anymore about the Coming To America lawsuit, as you obviously know even less about what you’re talking about than usual.

  • Gordn27

    “it looks like the budget went down to $65 million since we last brought it up.”

    Wow. I’m completely shocked that an Internet rumor that you were willing to believe with absolutely no verification turned out to be completely untrue. This must be a first.

    I’m just going to point out that as soon as you posted that it cost $100 million, I said it was impossible.

  • Gordn27

    BTW, DZ, I like how your immediate response to thinking you can prove somebody’s wrong is “So now you have to shut up about that.” Here are three things you’ve never done:

    – Been right about anything

    – Shut up about anything

    – Admitted you were wrong about anything

  • DeeZee

    Gordon: “Fox would probably want to go the other way and pretend the film cost less than it did so they’d have to pay out more net profits?”

    It’s more like they’d be able to boost their quarter that way.

    “Yes, I’m sure all that expensive CGI drove the budget of ‘Die Hard 2′ through the roof.”

    The multiple location shoots ain’t cheap, though. Not to mention whatever Willis probably asked to return to the sequel.

    “I’m just going to point out that as soon as you posted that it cost $100 million, I said it was impossible.”

    Catwoman cost that much, and that’s just as-if not moreso-impossible.

  • Gordn27

    “It’s more like they’d be able to boost their quarter that way.”

    hmmm… so you’re saying that, in absence of any evidence to support the claim, that stock fraud is more likely than you being wrong?

    I don’t know who to believe, reality, or DZ.

    “The multiple location shoots ain’t cheap, though.”

    Which, I’m sure, is a big reason behind their decision to shoot ‘Die Hard 2′ entirely in the one location. (An airport.)

    “Catwoman cost that much”

    Now you’re just being stupid. Catwoman, the movie, didn’t *actually* cost $100 mil, anymore than Superman Returns *actually* cost $300 mil. Those budgets include the money spent on every other project in development under that name. That $100 mil represents, in part, 10 years of studio development between ‘Batman Returns’ and “Catwoman’. The ‘Superman Returns’ figure includes all of the money spent on the Tim Burton (pay-or-play)/Nick Cage (pay-or-play $20 mil alone)/Kevin Smith (got paid in advance) version.

    How is it that somebody spends so much time devoted to arguing about film and absorbs so little knowledge or understanding about anything relating to it? When you go to all those sites, compiling your annoying links, do you ever bother to read any of the stories?

  • Gordn27

    In fact, comically enough, I shit everybody not, those sort of development charges being charged to the ultimate product no matter what is actually a key part of how the lawyers were ultimately able to prove that Buchwald was entitled to *anything* for ‘Coming to America’.

  • Fortunesfool

    True Lies pushed the action movie to the limits of believability/spectacle. Everyone’s been trying to out do it since. The problem being that no one else has Cameron’s eye for staging and editing action so they just make it bigger, faster and more stupid.

  • Bob Violence

    Yet, you all give Nolan’s Batman a pass, and, to me, that’s a movie that is trying really really really really hard to be absolutely realistic… when suddenly the super-villain shows up, faked his own death, and describes his plans to poison Gotham’s water supply, just like every comic book villain for the last thirty years.

    don’t forget the “plan” involved a magical microwave that could boil water through solid metal pipes, REALISTIC PHYSICS folks

  • Markj74

    Fortunesfool is correct.

  • DeeZee

    Gordon: “that stock fraud is more likely than you being wrong?”

    Well, it was shot around the tail end of the Reagan years, so…But all kidding aside, as you yourself pointed out, Hollywood accounting does tend to hide costs and losses. Look at Bergstein’s legal problems.

    “Which, I’m sure, is a big reason behind their decision to shoot ‘Die Hard 2′ entirely in the one location. (An airport.)”

    I see a lot more than one airport listed on IMDB.

    “Catwoman, the movie, didn’t *actually* cost $100 mil, anymore than Superman Returns *actually* cost $300 mil. Those budgets include the money spent on every other project in development under that name”

    I’m sorry, but exactly what “development” went into Catwoman? And I highly doubt that any studio would spend at least $100 million on SR, just to get a half-assed script they’d discard for ten years.

  • DeeZee

    Well, I’d almost doubt it, except they also blew a ton of money on Batman and Robin, Battlefield Earth, and the AOL merger.

  • Gordn27

    “I’m sorry, but exactly what “development” went into Catwoman? ”

    It was developed over the years with at least three different stars in mind.

    “And I highly doubt that any studio would spend at least $100 million on SR, just to get a half-assed script they’d discard for ten years.”

    The point isn’t that one project; the point is, J.J. Abrams did a script, Brett Ratner had a deal; over the years, they spent a shitload of money on other ‘Superman’ projects, and ultimately added it to ‘Superman Returns’. How can you deny such a base-line fact as that?

  • Gordn27

    Cage alone got $20 million and didn’t even have to do the movie.

  • DeeZee

    “they spent a shitload of money on other ‘Superman’ projects, and ultimately added it to ‘Superman Returns’. How can you deny such a base-line fact as that?”

    ‘Cus Superman Returns actually does look like it cost at least $200 million. There’s no way WB could’ve shot it cheaper than that, and then tacked on the costs from the other unfinished Superman projects, when those costs did not previously send Warner’s stock sliding as badly as SR did when it underperformed.

  • Gordn27

    Listen, you can feel free to believe that they gave $300 million to Bryan Singer. Nobody ever said you didn’t believe stupid shit that was commonly known to be false. I mean, you’re a fucking idiot; that’s your “thing”, and it’s pretty much all you do.

    “when those costs did not previously send Warner’s stock sliding as badly as SR did when it underperformed. ”

    When it was in development, they had The Next Hot Comic Book movie. After it came out, they had That Shitty Boring Comic Book movie. That’s quite a difference, as far as assets go.

  • York “Budd” Durden

    I nominate DZ and Gordn27 as King and Queen of the prom.

  • Eloi Manning

    Of course Batman Begins isn’t realistic in the way that a Ken Loach drama is; that’s not the point. But what it does do is establish a set of rules within its universe and abide by them. Yeah, the water thing and the villain is a bit far-fetched. But it’s not like Liam Neeson suddenly transforms into a giant lizard during the climactic fight scene or anything.

  • DeeZee

    Gordon: “Listen, you can feel free to believe that they gave $300 million to Bryan Singer.”

    Hey, if they can give $210 mil to Ratner for X-3, I’m not sure why Superman Returns couldn’t cost $300 mil. As I also pointed out, look how much Warner bet on the AOL merger.

    “When it was in development, they had The Next Hot Comic Book movie. After it came out, they had That Shitty Boring Comic Book movie. That’s quite a difference, as far as assets go.”

    That’s bullshit. After Batman and Robin and Catwoman flopping, and Batman Begins underperforming, you honestly expect me to believe Warner’s brand was on fire, and that only the fact that SR bombed was what sent its stock sliding, and not the fact that it went over-budget, and then tried to make it look like SR wasn’t as expensive as the trades claimed? Yeah, right. It was clearly just cover to reduce the company’s stock devaluation, and nothing more.

  • nightheat

    I saw the trailer for Kick Ass and thought it was funny, and I’m looking forward to seeing it. That being said, I agree completely with Jeffrey. Its reaching an unbearable tipping point of ludicrousness, an era where the films we watch mean absolutely nothing but everything at the same time… a very tarantino-esque style.

    The great american disaster is to blame for this, a generation raised on the 1980’s, sheltered away from reality living comfortably in the suburbs. We don’t want reality. What really needed to happen when the markets crashed, we should have allowed every last bank to fail, but we kept the make believe going… it was our defining moment, and its gone.

  • BurmaShave

    “We don’t want reality. What really needed to happen when the markets crashed, we should have allowed every last bank to fail, but we kept the make believe going… it was our defining moment, and its gone.”

    I so want to get behind the sentiments here, but it’s total gibberish.

  • Gordn27

    “Batman Begins underperforming,”

    Uhhhh… huh?

    “you honestly expect me to believe Warner’s brand was on fire”

    It’s not as if they have the most successful franchise of the decade or anything.

  • Gordn27

    Also, your financial wizardry is amazing; you’re basically saying that the stock market expected Superman Returns to fail, the company knew this and produced it anyway, but it’s only the extra $50 million of cost that actually drove the stock down, and not the fact that the movie did bad at the box office.

    I bet the last time your mother sent you out with grocery money, you came back with “magic” beans.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Wells to Nightheat: Thank you. We park our cars, etc.

  • DeeZee

    Gordon: “Uhhhh… huh?”

    Ho-hum opening, WOM required for it to be in the black…I’ve been through this already.

    “It’s not as if they have the most successful franchise of the decade or anything.”

    They don’t. TDK’s the only big hit for them, comic-book wise.

    “you’re basically saying that the stock market expected Superman Returns to fail, the company knew this and produced it anyway,”

    It’s more like the market expected AOL Time-Warner to fail, and SR was a desperate attempt to assuage investors that the company was still on the up-and-up.

    “but it’s only the extra $50 million of cost that actually drove the stock down, and not the fact that the movie did bad at the box office.”

    There were a lot of movies which did bad at the box office during that merger. Look at Pluto Nash, for example. But SR was simply the final straw. It not only cost too much, but but it cost more than the average superhero movie at the time, making it a bigger bomb than it needed to be.

  • DeeZee

    for them for the decade, I mean

  • markj

    Fortunesfool is correct.

  • Shawn Robare

    Putting the blame for horribly rendered action in films today squarely at the feet of the comic books that inspired said films is kind of ignorant. That’s not even pointing to the fact that bad action movie physics and the nothing’s-off-the-table sensibility predates the Matrix. Look to directors like Paul Anderson (Mortal Kombat) or Russell Mulcahy (Highlander 2) for evidence that this was already an annoyance before the super hero boom of the 2000’s.

    It’s not just “comic books”, it’s how the directors interpret the action from page to screen. Take a look at the opening sequence of the Watchmen film with it’s insane level of stupid physics and unreasonable action (punching through marble etc.) and compare it to the original sequence in the comics. On the page it’s real, no super strength, just a guy getting beat to a pulp. In the film it’s brought to a ridiculously heightened fever pitch in the name of Wow and style. That’s not a problem with adapting comics to film, it’s a problem with Zack Synder adapting comics to film.

  • Eloi Manning

    “The great american disaster is to blame for this, a generation raised on the 1980’s, sheltered away from reality living comfortably in the suburbs. We don’t want reality.”

    That’s a stretch. Let’s not forget most of these superhero characters were created in the 1930s-1950s, and have endured ever since. It’s just a Hollywood trend. X-Men paved the way, Spider-Man made a shit-ton, and ever since then it’s been a fail-safe option for studios wary of risk in a recession. It’ll die out eventually.

  • Vinessa Shaw

    My god, the Gordon/DeeZee show has become so tiring.

    We all get it, Gordo. But the question is, despite what is your clear understanding of the fact that DeeZee is out of his mind, why do you continue to argue with him, ad nauseum, when it is so plain to everyone (yourself included) that his brain is clearly in need of some rewiring? It’s not like you’re going to win or change his mind in anyway. His retorts are sort out of whack it’s beyond absurdity.

    Someone will post a comment like, “the sky is blue” and DeeZee will respond “Yeah, BUT that’s because the other colors don’t have as big of a PR machine behind them”.

    Probably 95% of what he says is absolutely meaningless. LITERALLY meaningless. It’s almost as if his responses are made to posters that don’t exist–except inside his own head. M-st of them don’t make ANY sense whatsoever. So why do you continue to use these boards as of way trying to disprove his opinions and theories? It makes you look as much like a mental patient as he is. Why not just g bang your head against a wall. I am sure you will find that to b as equally effective.

    In a few short sentences, Night was able to put everything into context. Why can’t you do the same?

    And DeeZee, you couldn’t win a debate with Sarah Palin. And I know some fifth graders who could give her a run for her money.

    I truly believe that you have some sort cognitive/neurological condition, and you seriously should consider seeking help.

  • Vinessa Shaw

    Eloi, if you look at the whole of film history there is clear correlation between the types of films that are produced and the political/sociological climate of the time in which they are made.

    For example, during the Nixon era, when Americans felt betrayed and disillusioned by their government, when a deep distrust of our public officials concerned many as to what might happen to this country, there was a rise in disaster films. A whole slew of them in fact. Towering Inferno, Airport, The Poseidon Adventure, and so on.

    The next time that occurred-when there were several disaster films produced in succession-was during the Lewinsky scandal and the possible impeachment of President Clinton, IE Twister, Volcano, Dante’s Peak, etc.

    It’s a zeitgeist thing. And nightbeat is right.

  • wildphantom

    I love the Gord/DZ show – keep it up guys.

    As for Kick-Ass….

    I saw it on wednesday and largely loved the hell out of it. It brilliantly takes the comic and deconstructs the comic book film genre whilst its at it, which the comic couldn’t do. Musical cues, photography etc – there are loads of references, even DK.

    Anyway, Jeff – I see where you’re coming from. However, I don’t think Kick-Ass sets itself up as being in a remotely realistic world. It is ultra-stylized and has cookie-cutter comic book villains and hench-men. I thought it struck a pretty decent balance and I had no problem with the Hit-Girl finale. If anything that is the pay-off for all that has gone before.

    The entire piece has been building up to this awesome showdown, and Vaughn (restrained for the most part) unleashes a, pardon the pun, ‘kick ass’ set-piece that is as crowd pleasing as they come.

    This is very much a deconstruction of the comic-book movie genre, set in the world of, say, Spider-Man 1.

    Word of mouth is going to be euphoric when it opens in the states. I would say however that it is absolutely a movie for lovers of the best comic-book movies. It reminded me why I continually go to see them – when it soars its really terrific.

  • Vinessa Shaw

    As for wildphantom, anyone who resorts to use of ridiculously absurd hyperbole and empty-headed rhetoric like using the adjective, “brilliant” to describe any aspect of a movie called Kick-Ass, is not to be trusted.

    And for further evidence of this, note that he used the word “reserved” when referring to Vaughan’s direction. There is nothing reserved about it. The movie is ridiculous;y over-the-top in every possible aspect from the production design to the lighting to the characters to the direction to the plot to the story to the marketing, all the way down the line.

    The only thing reserved about this production was the craft services guy who said “thank you” in a hushed, self-effacing, and largely humble tone when a crew member complimented him on his homemade apple pie.

  • Spartan Tell

    Jeff: Absolutely agree with you. It is holy writ: “pour the cement and bolt down the beams before making the film.”

    Haven’t seen the film, but I’ve read the original comic. Writer/creator Mark Millar DOES present a very firm rationale for Hit Girl’s capabilities in the final battle: Drugs. She snorts a drug vial left her by Big Daddy called Condition Red and comments to Kick Ass that it will give the the strength of ten men. Panel art shows her pupils dilating.

    Even through Vaughn didn’t have the final issues as he was filming, Millar was consulted. If they left this bit out I expect they did so deliberately, not wanting to show Hit Girl doing drugs for character reasons, artistic reasons or even to avoid ratings issues that drug use might bring up.

    Whatever, I think Vaughn left out some of the necessary grit for the cement of his plot deliberately. Does it matter to asses in seats? Maybe not — Eloi and all that — but an educated eye sure can spot that under the glaze and sheen a story’s been left half-baked.

  • Robert Cashill

    TWISTER, DANTE’S PEAK, and VOLCANO all predated the Lewinsky scandal. And the 70s disaster flicks appealed precisely to those more conservative viewers who applauded Nixon. They’re ultimately comforting; after the rupture, the morning after.

  • Vinessa Shaw

    I understand that, Robert. And I expected to be called out for it.

    I was drawing a parallel. That’s all.

  • Robert Cashill

    The 90s wave happened because CGI came around to improve the staging of the disasters, if not the scripting, which got worse.

  • moviesquad

    Regardless of Jeff’s issues with the unrealistic bits in a movie called “Kick-Ass”… let’s summarize what this movie is: one of the best comic book movies of all time.

    There seems to be many doubters on this site, but I think those doubts will clear once the movie is released. Even Jeff seems to have liked it and used the unreality rant as a way to stick to his original opinion that this movie is just intended for fat geeks who live in their parent’s basement.

  • Travis Crabtree

    What the hell’s going on in here? I wander away for a bit and come back to the 112 post behemoth that is this thread.

    My thoughts.

    I should’ve known that at least 40% of this would be a Gordn27 / DeeZee piss-off. Hey Gordn27… if DeeZee is so lame, predictable and silly, WHY do you spend inordinate amounts of time constantly responding to him? DeeZee is DeeZee and will always be DeeZee. Let it go.

    I agree with LexG on something… the comic book thing. Imagine having never seen “The Wizard of Oz”. You have no idea what it’s about, or who Dorothy or the Tin Man, etc. are. The quotes just fly over your head. You may just be the ONLY human being on the planet to have never seen it. That’s how I often feel when it comes to comic books. Seriously, what the fuck? Apart from a few of my sister’s “Archie” comics, “Mad” magazine (of course), some ribald Euro comics released by National Lampoon and Doonesbury I never spent any time in my youth, much less now reading fucking comic books.

    I always knew that comics held an appeal to a certain segment of over-16 people (cough cough ‘dorks’ cough cough), but I never knew it was so pervasive.

    “Follow the yellow brick road”? What does that mean?

    Good to see Prager back with the epic link. I’m still wiping coffee off my computer screen from reading your Mr. O’Daniel quote, you dick. (or is it Mr. O’Doodleberg?)

    And Vinessa… HUH? I think you’re WAY over-thinking the whole disaster movie / political correlation thing.

    Universal decided to film Arthur Hailey’s (pre-Nixon) bestseller “Airport”. It became the highest grossing movie in the studio’s history. Inevitable sequels followed. Irwin Allen decided to film Paul Galico’s novel “The Poseidon Adventure”. It made a shit-load of money. That’s what spurred on the 70’s disaster movie trend.

  • nightheat

    I was thinking more along the lines of the Italian neo-realism movement or german expressionism…. there needs to be some label to apply and to contextualize the mass delusion of American society in correlation to its most popular films. it is a Zeitgeist thing, totally.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Wells to Spartan Tell: You wrote that you’ve read the original comic, and that writer/creator Mark Millar “DOES present a very firm rationale for Hit Girl’s capabilities in the final battle — drugs. She snorts a drug vial left her by Big Daddy called Condition Red and comments to Kick Ass that it will give the the strength of ten men. Panel art shows her pupils dilating.”

    That’s precisely what I mean by “setting it up.”

    If the film had included Condition Red it would still be absurd bullshit, but I would be able to half-buy it because at least the filmmakers would be acknowledging the ridiculous absurdity of a little girl whipping the tails of 17 or 18 bad guys, etc. So offering me an excuse or explanation like Condition Red would at least be an effort on their part — an admission of absurdity — and would allow me to swallow this.

    I’m an easy lay for the most part. I would accept Condition Red, stupid as it sounds. But of course, the film left this out. Because they know the Comic-Conners don’t care anyway.

  • Travis Crabtree

    (BTW, Wells, since you’re still reading the thread apparently)

    Nice job! Very well-written piece.

  • wildphantom

    Vinessa Shaw – Sorry, didn’t know my opinion on the movie would be berated. Thought I was on Hollywood Elsewhere, not aintitcool news.

    When I said Vaughn was restrained for the most part I was referring to the action sequences, which could certainly be construed as reserved until the crazy finale.

    I agree about it being over the top in terms of the way its stylised – its a comic-book movie, based on a comic, riffing comic book movies.

    I stand as someone who loved the comic, and I really liked the movie. Sue me.

    You speak like somebody who thinks its getting bad reviews – which it isn’t, far from it!!!

    For fans of comic-book movies this is one of the best we’ve had in the past five years. Simple as that.

  • wildphantom

    …..and I’ll admit there probably was a tad too much hyperbole in my post. I should have re-read it before hitting the button.

    Still didn’t appreciate that lashing though Shaw. Really uncalled for

  • Bob Violence

    Thought I was on Hollywood Elsewhere, not aintitcool news.

    lol sucker

  • Bob Violence

    oh yeah and The Matrix was always dumb as hell

  • hcat

    What Jeff doesn’t understand is, to this target audience the violence is completly plausible. There has been numerous instances of 9 year old girls taking out swarms of comic-con attendees, stealing thier lunch money, ripping their capes, and making them cry.

  • Vinessa Shaw

    I think it’s getting great reviews. And I’ve also seen and really enjoyed it.

    However–and I’m going to stick to my guns on this one–I found that by allowing a 12 year old girl to say words like cunt and fuck adds nothing to the character or plot. It is done for shock value alone. And I thinks it’s disgusting precedent, which will enevitably be copied as if it is, in any way, acceptable.

    And I don’t mean to go off on some moralizing rant here but– and I’ve said this in another post–I think it’s demeaning and exploitative. And frankly, I think both the filmmakers and her parents should be ashamed of themselves.

    It’s unnecessary. It is not needed for the story to work. It’s cynical and nasty and gross. And that is exactly why it’s in the movie. And remember, I say this as someone who enjoyed it otherwise.

  • wildphantom

    That’s cool, and I echo your sentiments with regards to the language. Not only is it exploitative, but its a cheap laugh. I’m not saying I didn’t laugh, yet it was more in shock than anything.

    I think I read an article next week where Vaughn said her mother insisted the ‘c’ word be left in as the scene played funnier?

  • Eloi Manning

    wildphantom: The mother is probably one of those canny Hollywood stage mothers, and knew that leaving the swearing in would whip up a controversy and ultimately boost awareness of her daughter’s performance. It’s definitely worked.

  • Travis Crabtree

    Sick.

    “Bruno” did a brilliant job of exposing awful stage parents for what they are.

  • Eloi Manning

    Crabtree: Exactly, that scene was brilliant.

  • Vinessa Shaw

    There’s that word “brilliant” being tossed out again like it has no actual meaning.

    Eloi, let me guess, you thin a lot of thngs are brilliant, don’t you?

    There’s nothing brilliant about using a twelve year old girl to sell your movie by having her say things simply t get more asses in the seats. That’s called underhandedness. Nothing more, nothing less.

    You must think Machiavelli is brilliant, as well. Whatever it takes to make money, right? Ends always justifies the means when it comes to greed.

  • Eloi Manning

    Vinessa: I was referring to that scene in Bruno. Which was brilliant.

  • CitizenKanedforChewingGum

    “Eloi, let me guess, you thin a lot of thngs are brilliant, don’t you?”

    Kate Moss, for example…

  • Vinessa Shaw

    Oh, damn. Sorry, Eloi. I should stop posting today. I’m am seriously cranky and PMSing.

    Honestly. Please forgive me.

    The Bruno segment with those parents really was the best part of that movie. Those parents shouldn’t have gotten a visit from child welfare.

  • Vinessa Shaw

    Ugh. That should have read “should have”. I’m done.

  • Gordn27

    It’s weird that the people who ask why I argue with DZ are two of the people here who are as stuck in their own character as DZ is; even Lex breaks through occassionally.

    Same answer I always give (but you’ve probably forgotten since I wasn’t here for a while): it’s a combination of procrastination during writing (come on here for five minutes in between scenes or chapters — or when stuff is blocked and I just want to get my fingers going) and amusement. If you don’t laugh at the uniquely ridiculous shit that DZ spouts in even just an average post, there’s something wrong with *you*, not me. I’m the straight-man. DZ is the one that should amuse you.

  • Gordn27

    The odd thing about Travis / Lex / etc.’s claim… as far as I understand, i grew up right before sales of comic books collapsed. Now, in those days, 200,000 would’ve been insane numbers, a best-selling book. But, in Lex’s day, that would’ve been a cancelled book, because sales were that much higher. I’m figuring Travis for about Lex’s age too.

    And yet they claim that nobody growing up read them, and I’m pretty sure that every person in my elementary school did, and even a few in junior high. [I'd grant you that, by high school, nobody would've brought them to school.]

    I have this feeling that you guys’ memories are skewed a bit. My point is, because comics didn’t interest *you*, you never actually noticed them when others had them.

  • Colin

    I have a hard time believing no one read Batman or Superman during the Lex, Crabtree era.

    They’re just as big of icons as Bond, Indiana Jones, etc.

  • Travis Crabtree

    Mad magazine segueing into National Lampoon. That was it for me. Oh, and Jimmy Walker’s “Dynomite!”.

  • bluefugue

    I’m not sure blaming modern movie aesthetics on videogames makes that much sense. If you play videogames you know that the camerawork tends to be very conservative to allow you to control your character and see what’s going on, so there’s not much connection with the modern quick-cutting wacky-camera-move Michael Bay aesthetic. If anything, I’d say the influence goes the other way; some games try hard to look like movies, and sometimes this negatively impacts their playability.

    As for violating the laws of physics, action movies that are divorced from reality, etc., I think there’s a pretty straight trajectory back to Asian martial-arts/wirework cinema by way of the Wachowskis, concomitant with the rise of CG as the primary tool for visual effects (note that many animated cartoons were divorced from traditional physics decades ago, simply because they had the freedom to be that way). Again, videogames seem pretty tangential to all this. But they are a convenient whipping boy, so folks will continue to bash them, I’m sure.

  • Gordn27

    bluefugue – I wouldn’t be one of those arguing video games are entirely to blame, but I do believe that there could be some connection between action in modern-action movies and the crazy fighting games [I don't really game much these days, but whatever the current equivalent of 'Street Fighter II' and 'Mortal Kombat' is]. And I think you’d probably agree there’s a pretty small aesthetic jump between the ‘Kick-Ass’ trailer and the ‘Scott Pilgrim’ trailer, which is more overtly like a big fighting game.

  • bob999

    So, as a reviewer, you hate everything that the fans of the genre love. Maybe you’re not qualified to review films of the genre, then.

    Wuxia films are my favorite genre, so is it any wonder that I love superhero films as well?

    Superhero films are not intended to be realistic, and your smug sense of superiority over ‘fat geeks’ is sadly misplaced here, and frankly kind of laughable. :)

  • macisteVSmaciste

    Jeff this is the best thing I’ve read in a long time.

    Fanboys are killing cinema.