Geekdogs of London

One could be forgiven for thinking that the journalists in this photo, assembled for the London junket of Edgar Wright‘s The World’s End, were “in the tank” for Wright and the film going in, no matter how good it may have turned out to be. “The World’s End has been getting very good reviews from the UK press,” Faraci writes, “so I’m excited. Of course no matter how good it is, some asshole will show up in the comments and complain that this trip has colored my review of it.” I’m not complaining. I’m just saying “consider the Wright oeuvre and then look at these guys…you’re telling me they’re impartial?”

(l. to. r) Hitfix’s Drew McWeeny, Todd Brown of Twitch, Edgar Wright of A Fistful of Fingers, Harry Knowles of Ain’t It Cool News, Jordan Hoffman of Screencrush, Devin Faraci of Badass Digest, Germain Lussier of Slashfilm, Alex Billington of First Showing, Eric Vespe of Ain’t It Cool News, Silas Lesnick of Coming Soon and Steve “Frosty” Weintraub of Collider.
  • Jason T.

    Impartial? Who cares? Are you impartial, Wells? The idea that critics go into a movie with their heads blank has always been laughable. We ALL have our prejudices, our tastes and anyone who says different is full of it.

    • Eloi Wrath

      True, but this year definitely seems to have had crystallized battle-lines drawn up by the geek bloggers, with Guillermo del Toro, Edgar Wright and Marvel as the “good guys,” and Christopher Nolan, Zack Snyder, J.J. Abrams as the “bad guys”. There’s been a very obvious team sports mentality evident in these geek bloggers’ reviews, as if they have to take down their foes so that their beloved heroes can “win”.

      • AMAZING how cleanly that breaks down between “good movies” and “ponderous, bloated bullshit.” 😉

        And before anyone starts – NO ONE has been a bigger defender of Zack Snyder than me: But after “Man of Steel” it really does feel like A.) there’s still a ceiling on his abilities and B.) he and Nolan are HORRIBLE influences on one another.

        • Eloi Wrath

          But it also suggests a lack of absolute confidence in the “good guys” if so many articles written to praise the likes of Pacific Rim fall back on bashing Man of Steel or whatever. It’s never just “Pacific Rim is a great film,” but always “Pacific Rim is way better than Man of Steel which suckkkkkkked and Nolan is a hack!!!” etc.

          And regarding Nolan and MoS; I think it’s pretty clear now that he didn’t really have much to do with it at all. Generated a few story ideas, slapped his name on it to generate some buzz, and then let Goyer and Snyder get on with it. The way Goyer told the story about the ending choice suggests Nolan didn’t really give a fuck one way or the other, and even WB haven’t been mentioning him in their “thank-you” press releases and talk of upcoming DC films. He’s also insisted his Batman trilogy stands alone, and has had the WB brass say the same. So I don’t think he and Snyder really had all that much to do with each other.

          • Alan Burnett

            This is high school-style stuff, which COMPLETELY MAKES SENSE. These guys were nothing in high school, so they try to recreate that landscape in the blogosphere. The problem is that they are all ADULTS and it is fucking embarrassing to see these guys throw shit fits when they see a film that doesn’t exactly fit into their “awesome, geek heaven, child-like” mindsets.

            • Eloi Wrath

              Yeah, the longing for child-friendly entertainment is definitely a theme that has emerged this summer also. These guys are all late-30s, early-40s, but they’re gravitating towards the more kiddie-oriented stuff and bashing anything that has ambitions beyond that.

              That’s not to say every blockbuster has to be gritty and dark, but it’s weird to hear them all clamoring for stuff that is aimed at 9-year old boys.

          • The Nolan backlash has less to do with “Man of Steel” specifically than it does with his influence post-TDK. The “geek set” still considers him one of the good-guys (they’ll be ALL ABOUT “Interstellar”); but he’s become the poster child for adaptations that wind up sucking largely because they’re trying to run away from the source and toward some kind of faux-maturity (see: Ryan Reynolds moping around his apartment for like 70% of Green Lantern.)

            Frankly, I can think of A LOT worse causes for thirtysomething film bloggers to rally behind than the industry NOT continually trying to turn projects that are supposed to be amusing fantasies for kids into gritty wank-offs for self-hating “adults.”

            • Browncoat

              The stasis that those properties always find themselves is frustrating. I appreciate that Nolan managed to bring the character to a full arc instead of perpetuating the fantasy where a 50 year old man is lunging off rooftops and manhandling roided out mercenaries.

              There’s nothing wrong with Marvel, but if you want mindless fantasy, where is the criticism for Iron Man 3’s “take” on the war on terror and the villainisation of injured war vets?

            • Raising_Kaned

              It’s quite hilarious that Nolan has become the “poster child for adaptations that wind up sucking” when he was responsible for one of the more prolific, enduring trilogies in cinematic history — all based on some asshole in a cape.

              Was the third as good as the other two? Nope. But how many can you honestly name that have been? Star Wars? Nope. Indiana Jones? No. Back to the Future 3? Puh-lease. Godfather 3? Get out.

              So he basically “failed” at doing what only Leone and Pixar (who else?) had done before him? Am I the only one on movie blogs not in an utter state of panic or depression over this, a full year later?

              Seems like it.

              • Eloi Wrath

                Yes. And I’d even argue that TDKR is better overall than Batman Begins, which has a wonderful first half and then goes down a bit in the second part.

                I stump for Nolan on HE regularly, but I just find is bizarre that a guy who delivers consistently excellent films is so reviled by the online community. I’m not a comic guy at all, so I didn’t care about the liberties he took with the source material because I felt it all led to a rich and intellectually stimulating version of a pop culture icon that in the wrong hands can turn out to be an absolute disaster (see: Schumacher’s films, which angry nerds seem to have already forgotten).

                People talk about “Nolan fanboys” which seems as absurd to me as saying that Spielberg, Scorsese, Kubrick, Tarantino, etc. have “fanboys”. The reason these filmmakers, and Nolan, have such devoted fans is because they make fucking excellent films.

                For me, Nolan’s Batman trilogy gave me a far more fully realized and satisfying story for this character than I’ve ever had before. I don’t care about Batman after this; I feel like Nolan gave me the definitive version, and I don’t care one bit if it betrayed the comic book portrayal. As far as I’m concerned, the Bruce Wayne from Batman Begins had a complete arc that culminated in TDKR and we got to experience best-ever takes on Batman’s classic and modern villains (Joker and Bane; both of whom have never been done better).

                It seems odd to have to defend these incredible films on the internet. Baffling.

                • Raising_Kaned

                  And, also, we basically got Inception as a freebie DIRECTLY out of his involvement with the Batman films — that movie would have never happened without the success of TDK because Nolan didn’t want to compromise on its budget (we got Prestige, too, although I think that would have eventually happened regardless).

                  So he probably blew a little bit of his directing load making it, and maybe TDKR suffered a little bit in comparison. But I’m more than okay with that.

                  If there’s one guy playing the big-budget Hollywood “game” right in 2013, I really do think it is Nolan.

                  • Eloi Wrath

                    YES! The old Hollywood ideal was “one for them, one for me,” and Nolan is living embodiment of using this to his advantage. The Prestige and Inception are absolute cast-iron classic, stone-cold masterpieces that he did in between his Batman obligations. And now he gets to make Interstellar which sounds like another top quality film.

                    My hope is that Elysium and Gravity both do well; these are both original properties with visionary directors (apparently) modestly-budgeted, so fingers crossed for those.

                    • Raising_Kaned

                      I don’t know if you can call realistically it a “sleeper” at this point (although $90 is fairly sensible in this day and age — that’s sort of in my Django sweet spot), but I do think Elysium ends up being the surprise word-of-mouth mainstream hit for this summer. Just looks really compelling…and different with an exciting new filmmaker at the helm.

                      If I could invest stock in movies, I’d be binging on it right now.

                • radewart

                  “reviled by the online community”
                  That’s a little strong. Is there a vocal minority that likes bashing Nolan? Yes, but most film fans online and just casual filmgoers really like his stuff. TDKR still had a real good rotten tomatoes score, metacritic score, and imdb rating. It just the more success, you’ve had, the more detractors you’re going to have waiting to attack.

        • Jeffmcm

          Considering that almost all of Snyder’s movies have been ponderous bloated bullshit, I don’t know why I should pay attention here.

        • Raising_Kaned

          But could anyone have directed a better version of Watchmen — or even 300, for that matter? I’m being 100% honest here.

          I don’t think the movies are “stone-cold masterpieces” or anything (although the former comes awfully close, IMHO), but if there’s a ceiling on his best work thus far, I would argue that it has always been imposed by the source material, not his particular brand of filmmaking.

      • NephewOfAnarchy

        Those two lists perfectly sum up the bizarre nature of geekdom. JJ, Nolan, and Snyder were ALL Geek Gods, then they did one film that dared to stray away from exactly what the fanboys wanted to lap up, and they were cast out into the wilderness. They Can’t Miss Once (TM Heat), or they’re dead. How long before Del Toro and Wright are Not Cool?

        • Eloi Wrath

          It’s as if the geeks need to know that the filmmakers are “one of them”. Nolan’s made no attempt to pretend to like comic books. Abrams was happy to admit he was never a Star Trek fan before taking it on. Snyder’s just a gun for hire.

          All of them felt comfortable mixing things up in their adaptations of beloved geek properties, and all of them have been hit by a backlash.

          • Yet love them or hate them, at least their films haven’t been semi-bland like most of the Marvel films are.

        • Raising_Kaned

          I also don’t really understand how GdT always get lumped in with the Marvel guys…okay, that’s a lie — I do sorta get it because he’s pro-comic book and pretty outspoken about his love for all things fantasy. But — in fairness to him — he IS doing his fair share of smaller, artistically-minded, non-established property work like Pan’s. And for that matter, so is Whedon.

          Snyder’s one of the ultimate “it’s just going to depend on how good the source material is” example — he’s done about an equal amount of dogs and gems. He’s sort of the modern equivalent of Ridley Scott (I know some 45 year-old is going to log-in and blanch at that, but look at the work — it’s been INCREDIBLY uneven).

      • radewart

        That’s not fair, most of those guys really like Man of Steel, even Devin gave it an overall positive review, and he has been very critical of Nolan’s Batman films. I’d say it’s the none geek guys like Wells, Fine, and Poland who hated MOS.

        • Eloi Wrath

          Devin gave a grudgingly okay review to Man of Steel, but has since been relentlessly trashing it. Just as he spent the best part of 2012 bashing TDKR. He gave Inception a great review, as far as I recall, but seems to despise Nolan intruding on “his” turf, aka geek properties.

          But yeah, as I’ve already mentioned in this thread, I don’t even think Nolan gave a fuck about MoS.

    • Keith Emroll

      Agreed. Just take a look at the vast majority of pieces Jeff writes about Steven Spielberg.

      • Eloi Wrath

        Yeah. And remember Wells was flown out to London for Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox.

    • abbey normal

      Sorry, calling bullshit on this. There is a big difference between one’s opinion having a certain slant or color based on individual life experiences or political beliefs, etc, and allowing an outside party to introduce bias via an assumed quid pro quo. Scenario A is still an actual personal opinion, even if it’s not “impartial” in the manner you’re describing. But that has far more meaning and substance than scenario B, which entails an “opinion”…quote marks earned because it derives at least partly due to the influence of a moneyed third party.

  • Awardsdaily

    I wish I was a nerd blogger. They get to have all the fun. I guess you have to be male, over 30 (except Alex), and from the looks of it, white.

    • Raising_Kaned

      Well — two outta three ain’t bad, sistah…;)

  • peaches33325

    is that Pizza the Hut in the wheelchair?

    • Marcus

      Not, it’s the same orange orangutan who appeared in the World War Z prescreening. Poor Brad Pitt.

  • MisterQuigley


  • Mark G.

    Jason T, you nailed it exactly.

  • Tavin Pumarejo

    Is the 3rd one from right-to-left the Conspiracy-A-Go-Go guy in ‘Slacker’?

  • dowhatyoudoyou

    So honestly… what’s the arrangement these days between studios and movie bloggers?

    Get the impression it’s “We fly you out here… if you like the movie fine, by all means let the world know… if you don’t like it, that’s fine too, just hold off ragging it until the release day. If you play nice, we invite you back for more down the road.”

    That way, the bloggers can keep their ethics (which now equates to giving an honest opinion) and studios can control the buzz.

    Or am I wrong?

    • Awardsdaily

      You got it pretty much right. If you burn them, you stop getting invites.

      • Awardsdaily

        Remember, “fanboys” or self-made bloggers are advocates. They don’t come at their work, necessarily, from a journalist’s or a critic’s perspective. They would gladly hype or advocate for free so getting perks is just frosting on the cake.

        • Browncoat

          You don’t exactly possess journalistic cred either, I’m not defending those critics listed above, but you “come at” movies you haven’t even seen with hatchet in hand (Blue is the Warmest Color).

          • Awardsdaily

            I never said I did. I include myself in the bloggers category. Never have I called myself a critic or a journalist.

            • Browncoat

              I appreciate that you admit that.

              • Awardsdaily

                I never pretended otherwise in the 15 years I’ve been blogging.

    • Drew Morton

      I’m just gonna put this here…

      Ebert’s code of ethics for critics…

  • Eloi Wrath

    The thing that always confuses me about these bloggers’ love for Edgar Wright is that (Scott Pilgrim aside) his films and Spaced are SO very British that I imagine dozens of jokes go flying over their heads completely. While they’re very cinematic and they reference a lot of universal stuff (zombie movies, action movies, etc.) there are so many jokes that would be impossible for foreigners to get unless you were pausing it as you go along and looking at Wikipedia to understand the references.

    That’s why I’ve always found the US-based geek bloggers’ enthusiasm a bit phony. I can’t imagine Harry Knowles or Devin Faraci or whoever sitting there chortling along as Wright and Pegg throw in Grange Hill and Roobarb & Custard references.

    • NephewOfAnarchy

      Yeah I have noticed this…a lot of UK fans like the films for COMPLETELY different reasons than the US geek circuit, and they quote completely different shit. Even the use of the Soup Dragons’ “I’m Free” in the trailer will mean nothing in the US, but it has a specific cultural resonance for a generation in Britain.

      Anyway, I know this question is basically pointless, and setting myself up for a “You don’t get it” response, and I’m not in the Cult and all that, but what the fuck is the big deal about these films? I mean, I watched them (on tv), I laughed a bit, but I don’t remember dick about any of them, other than maybe GOD DALTON hamming it up.

      • joeybot

        Shaun of the Dead has a ridiculously tight script. It’s like Back to the Future where it lays out crumbs and then eventually brings them all back. You could use that script as a teaching tool.

        • Eloi Wrath

          Just saw this comment after I replied to yours, and completely agree – the tightness of that script is second-to-none. Flawless.

    • joeybot

      I don’t think that matters at all. I’m an American and I love their movies, and if there are jokes I’m not getting it doesn’t matter because most of them I do. They’re funny movies in general.

      Now, geeks are usually going to like a British movie more than an American one because they tend to be more arch or cerebral or even jsut the fact that they’re not as well known, all catnip to a nerd who has to always prove themself to be smart.

      • Eloi Wrath

        In fairness, their movies are much more universal than Spaced was, which I doubt they ever even imagined would be seen by Americans at all. But there’s still enough that makes me wonder how much American audiences are usually getting out of it. Given that most Americans I speak to can’t even understand British accents (which seems absurd, but hey) the little references to niche stuff must be like hieroglyphics to them.

        They’re great movies, though. Wright and Pegg have structure down to a fine art. Some of the most tightly plotted and scripted movies you’ll see. Scott Pilgrim was a shame, but I blame the source material. But Shaun and Hot Fuzz could be taught in film school, they’re that well constructed.

        • Drew Morton

          I teach Scott Pilgrim in film school…

    • Raising_Kaned

      You’ve mentioned this before on here, and — for whatever reason (probably porn) — I never really bothered giving this a second thought. But you’re right about bloggers having an affinity for this type of humor way more than the average American (or the average Brit, for that matter…).

      I’m not really THAT interested in psychoanalyzing bloggers as a target demographic (I mean, fuck, just LOOK at them) — but if I were — I think I could spill a lot of ink delving into how there’s a certain type of humor (i.e. the really self-deprecating type) that Brits tend to excel at that seems to speak collectively to this group. It probably has a lot to do with a fear (whether overt or latent) of lacking the prototypical “American” masculinity. Putting yourself down (before others can) is a very emotionally-guarded, beta-male type of thing to do.

      And it’s just not the guys, either — a lot of media-savvy chicks in this country seem to dig Doctor Who (and I mean really dig it).

      The bizarre thing is it’s almost always the “twee” type of stuff that really seems to get to these guys — it’s rarely the more confrontational Guy Ritchie (he obviously sucks now, but I mean back in the day) or early Danny Boyle stuff. I rewatched Shallow Grave a few months ago and I was a little shocked — in a good way! — by how downright MEAN most of it was (I’m now almost completely convinced that it is the single best movie in his filmography).

      The irony is U.K. humor has such a rich cinematic tradition of being incredibly dark and macabre — just look at Hitchcock! (some of which is self-deprecating, yes, but in pretty aggressive ways) — but honestly a lot of the material these guys are falling over with laughter over is actually fairly run-of-the-mill.

      • Eloi Wrath

        Yeah, I guess Pegg/Wright/Frost are certainly on the “nicer” end of British comics. They seem like thoroughly decent chaps and are very accommodating to US audiences. Probably lovely blokes to hang out with. Gervais and Coogan have a much nastier streak. Gervais obviously struck gold with The Office, but Coogan’s yet to break out Stateside after decades of trying. He’s a God back home but never cracked America.

        The latest British comedy I would fully recommend is The Inbetweeners. If you’ve got Netflix I think it’s all on there to stream. It’s a teen sex comedy basically, but absolutely hilarious and no punches pulled. Give it a go and see what you think.

        • Raising_Kaned

          Sounds good. It’s true about Gervais (Izzard, too, who I really dig), and I’d be surprised if they tagged him as the next Oscar host — esp. after the uproar MacFarlane seemed to cause by not doing anything particularly offensive.

          Then again, the Academy never seems to have any real clue about the actual people they hire for this gig (Letterman, Rock, etc.), which is sort of baffling — don’t they ever look at tape? Seems like every four years they try someone new, then they immediately retreat back to the boring safety of Crystal/Martin/Goldberg.

          • Eloi Wrath

            I’d be amazed if Gervais was ever considered for the Oscars, and even if they did confirm him, I’m sure the resulting backlash from big-time Hollywood players would result in a change of mind. I just can’t see Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood and Ron Howard and the usual Academy faves being happy with him, and he’d absolutely make it his mission to ruin the night for everyone.

            I expect Jimmy Kimmel will be asked soon, and I think he’d be a decent host. Millennial appeal and old-Hollywood connections. And ABC’s own.

            • Raising_Kaned

              Yeah — he’s a fine compromise, really. Makes sense.

              • Eloi Wrath

                Yeah. I can see him doing a long stint. I read some story today about the Academy removing songs and score from the ceremony, so it seems like they’re downsizing the bloat. Get a solid guy like Kimmel who stars are happy to do skits with (shit, he got Affleck to say he was fucking him) and he’ll be golden.

    • Raising_Kaned

      All of which is not to say Shaun or Fuzz are run-of-the-mill — I like both of them (Pilgrim…notsomuch). I think SotD in particular is a pretty well-constructed screenplay insofar as it goes.

      I just don’t think think they’re really all THAT funny, that’s all. My sense of humor is pretty brutal, though.

  • Brian Bouton

    Most AICN readers consider Knowles reviews to be godawful, treacly bullshit and no indicator of a movie’s quality.

    • Eloi Wrath

      The last review of his I read was his hilarious TKDR takedown, which was just an epic whinge about Nolan’s depiction of Bruce Wayne differing from the preconceived notion that Knowles carried around in his head, and how this therefore rendered the entire film invalid. It was staggering in its idiocy.

      • Brian Bouton

        The guy writes with all the aplomb of a high school freshman and LOVES everything no matter how bad it is. I’m surprised he turned a corner on TDKR and it must have been the influence of his remarkably poisonous community.

        • Alan Burnett

          Nah, it was because he fell asleep during ‘Inception’ because the idiot went to a screening just after getting on a plane and he needs to maintain the ‘Nolan doesn’t get geek shit’ mantra from that review. Again, he fell asleep. And he reviewed the film WELL AFTER RELEASE so he could have easily seen it again.

  • NephewOfAnarchy

    Is this the first time that Harry Knowles has been the most dignified person in a photograph?

  • MovieSquad

    Nothing like giving Pacific Rim a pass due to personal invites to GDT’s house?

    Also, Harry Knowles in London must be quite a site to the locals.

    • Raising_Kaned

      Mate, how c’n ya possibly eat dat many fish n’ chips to grow up yea big?


  • Ray Quick

    Give Drew and Alex a 3-minute head start then send in the drones.

    • Perfect Tommy

      Um…why do they get the 3 minute head start?

      • Raising_Kaned

        Drew probably deserves something for being the only legible regular contributor to AICN for about 12 years — but 3 minutes seems generous…like, 2 1/2 minutes too generous.

        • Eloi Wrath

          3 minutes in geek running time is about 100 metres, so it’s not all that big of a head-start.

          • Raising_Kaned

            Yeah, but I have a feeling he smuggled his son Toshiro’s “Watto” scooter in under his baggy shirt.

  • Raising_Kaned

    And in this corner: coming in at a combined 2,750 lbs (thanks, Harry) and a total of non-rapey sexual encounters with women at a grand total of three (no, your cousins don’t count, Devin…) — it’s this motley crew of dorks that will never fail to queue up on-command to watch dudes in capes and cowls, regardless of the quality.

    • NephewOfAnarchy

      I wonder if they all share the same goatee trimmer?

      Ha actually I just noticed Blazer Guy in there. He seems faintly embarrassed to be doing whatever it is they’re doing.

      • Raising_Kaned

        Half of them actually seem to be doing some very half-hearted hipster variation on the Charlie’s Angels pose, which — if Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu got to it over 10 years ago — it’s probably WAAAAY past its expiration date — even as “retro irony” or whatever the fuck you wanna call it. Although, to be fair, maybe it was part of an in-joke from Wright’s FoF (which I’ve never seen, and was released in ’94).

        Harry looks like he’s having a stroke (or, as they like to call it in AICN terms, “prepping” one of his reviews).

        To be a little fair, I wouldn’t really stand out in that group, either. And probably use the same goddamn goatee trimmer, as well (good one, btw…).

  • Eloi Wrath

    Didn’t all these guys gang up on Alex Billington a few years ago and try to have him banned from all screenings, etc? I seem to remember McWee and Faraci being the ringleaders. And now he has to go on London sightseeing junkets with them? Poor bastard.

    • Drew Morton

      The way I heard it, Billington wasn’t invited to a secret screening of SCOTT PILGRIM and threatened Universal’s PR by telling them he’d blow the lid off of the time/location if they didn’t invite him.

      Not sure if it’s true or not. Just heard it around Comic-Con that year.

      • Drew Morton
      • Raising_Kaned

        In retrospect, they probably should have let him “blow the lid off.”

        Instead, it stayed firmly attached to the jar.

        • Drew Morton

          It was pretty huge at SDCC, actually. But it is problematic when you show a movie around the clock – for free – to your main demo. 😉

          • Raising_Kaned

            Yeah, true.

      • BlackCrime23

        That’s definitely true. He’s back in their… not good graces, but they tolerate him and blacklist him no longer.

  • frickyeah1990s

    What exactly does placating a bunch of nerd film bloggers even accomplish? it didnt save Scott Pilgrim. Drew McWeeny even wrote this absurd plea on his blog to the Twilight fanbase to turn out for Pilgrim when Pilgrim was tanking.

  • kwisatzhaderach

    If an alien spaceship passed overhead, and this photo was their first encounter with human life, they’d have no hesitation in annihilating the planet.

  • Guys, quit growing goatees. Beards or clean shaven. Goatees make guys look creepy.

  • Luke Lyt Thompson

    I gotta respect Edgar Wright for actually responding to a drunken Lex tweet calling him a bad-toothed motherfucker and demanding a hooker. Wright said one was on her way but needed the address.