Sunday, March 18, 2012

If wolves were on the moon...

... would they stop howling?

Friday, March 16, 2012

JOHN CARTER: The Jack Sack™ Movie Review

On Mars, they have a cooler version of a Corgi.  

Deep down, I believe that things will settle in the right place given enough time.  So, I'm not the least bit worried that JOHN CARTER will find its audience because it's a diverting adventure that pours genuine imagination all over your stinking head.  We just have to wait out the haters that have taken to bashing this film.

Yes, the premise of JOHN CARTER is utterly ridiculous- that a diverse group of beings live on Mars, or Barsoom as the locals call it, fighting ancient rivalries and draining their world of life in the process. And yet, the premise is what makes this movie so charming to me- that you could look up at a dot in the night's sky and imagine all kinds of heroism and exotic derring-do.  You're not bound by what you know with this kind of film. Similar to how INGLORIOUS BASTERDS threw out your knowledge of World War II, JOHN CARTER offers the same kind of "no strings attached" storytelling. A human can walk on this Mars- he can actually walk and run rather well because of the difference in gravity. And his strength can make a human a formidable warrior in this environment.

Enter Captain John Carter, formerly of the Confederate Army.  Drifting through the Arizona territory desperately searching for gold to heal the many losses he's suffered (his wife and child dead from the war), John Carter is a man without purpose. In stumbling upon a means to travel to Mars, Carter is given the chance to become a hero for a Martian princess who seeks to stop her planet's demise at the hands of some serious villainy.  Naturally, John Carter and the princess, Dejah Thoris, hit it off.

Hi, I'm from another planet.

Carter also forms an alliance with a truly alien character-- Tars Tarkas, the leader of the Tharks.  The Tharks are everything the Gungans should have been in STAR WARS: EPISODE  I. And Tars ≠ Jar Jar.   This alien has genuine charisma.

There are no pod races in this film and this guy doesn't step in feces.

JOHN CARTER is a completely satisfying adventure. The film provides unpretentious escapism; there is no need to analyze elements of the story or setting. This isn't science fiction, we are not supposed to know how this universe functions. JOHN CARTER is a movie where you root for the good guys and hope the girl gets her man. Luckily, the actors are all charming in their roles and the action is very easy to follow, unlike a lot of contemporary CG-driven films.  

Take an afternoon off from Earth and join John Carter on Mars. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

24 Movie Not Happening Soon

According to people who report on such things for a living, "24: EPISODE I: THE MOTION PICTURE- CHAPTER ONE" will not be filmed anytime this year. The details are here.

Geez, the day after I come back to blogging about 24 and this happens? Bah! I will not be stopped!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

24 Season 1: 9PM-10PM Retro Review!

That's right, people- I'm finishing what so many excellent readers of this site started and maintained- the final three hours of Day One will be reviewed. And we will have blood!

Previously in Day One:

People are trying to kill Senator David Palmer on the day of the California Primary. Jack Bauer is a force of nature employed by the CIA's fast-food version of itself: CTU. CTU moves to stop the assassination attempt by any means semi-reasonable to a federal agency, so naturally lots of collateral damage piles up. Jack has a wife named Teri, who goes all Carrie Fisher at some point and loses her mind. Their daughter, Kim, likes bad boys and her survival instincts are so poor that you would expect she should have flushed her own head down a toilet by now.

Jack is now a prisoner of Victor Drazen (Drazen is still a prisoner of the worst Slavic accent ever attempted on film).  Drazen is about to pop Jack's pierogie before our hero plays his last card- I know where your dead son is, and no, he's not dead, Vic.  Jack lives.

And here we go...

It's 9 O'Clock, do you know where your children are?  In the back of an SUV filled with dudes wearing ski masks? Ah, your child must be Kim Bauer!

Just when you thought getting kicked in the face was kind of boring, the writers thought one more kick was worth a try. Kim, who has been the Nordberg of this season, was quietly being transported back to CTU from prison (for a crime she didn't commit!) when an SUV smashes into the cop car and Kim gets kidnapped... a-fucking-gain!  The director of this episode feels it's necessary to show Kim whine and kick via two concurrent camera angles. Is this supposed to help? Show me the angle where you cover her mouth with duct tape... ah, there ya go!

Back at the Hotel California, Senator Palmer makes three vague references to the fact that he's an African American running for President "They said the country wasn't ready, they said it couldn't be done, have you noticed how everyone else that's been president is white?!" (needle flies off the record). The political fiction for "24" has always been suspect, but this speech that Palmer gives is so grating that I almost long for Victor Drazen to talk about Count Chocula cereal for an hour.

Speaking of, the Drazens are in the back of a van watching Jack play "Mary Had A Little Lamb" on a cell phone that's probably from 1996. The Drazens say "Do it again!" Jack accidentally dials CTU and Nina answers. Nina, the glorious, loyal friend to Jack sure rubs the back of her neck a lot. She must be tense.  It's from caring too damned much.

Jack asks Nina to connect the Vampire Van to Drazen's son Alexei, who is recovering from being stabbed by a 90 lb. girl he done-did-wronged. (I just forgot how ridiculous these recaps can get- I mean how much information can a person possible cover in one sentence?) Victor makes it clear that he wants Alexei back in the family, his diminished blood supply and all. The deal: Drazen will give the Americans their beloved Jack Bauer in exchange for Alexei "The Human Sieve" Drazen.  George Mason says he'll ask his parents if that's cool.

In the time Mason takes to call Chappelle to ask if they can make this blockbuster Fantasy Spyball trade, Mrs. Palmer is on the floor of the hotel ballroom arranging for her husband's side-action with the speech writer responsible for this drivel David's spewing.  That's right, Mrs. Palmer wants David to sex up a staffer. "24" is family entertainment!

Back at CTU, Chappelle must have clicked "Reject Trade" in record time, as George is efficiently explaining to Nina that Jack is going to die with the California Drazens. Nina, the amateur Hallmark card writer that she is, goes running over to Teri who's sitting in a room doing absolutely nothing to tell Mrs. Bauer "We're doing everything we can to get Jack back, by the way we're not allowed to do anything."  Seriously, this is what was said. I think Teri was more shocked by the complete lack of tact and logic Nina displayed more than her learning that Jack is going to die.

The California Drazens (yeah, I'm sticking with this one) take Jack to the most happening Slavic social club in any basement you could find. The room is filled with Slavic people! And a table full of cheese and potato dumplings! And a "communications center" consisting of an old Dell laptop and a fax machine! Wait, genocidal war criminals fax stuff?

Nina smacks the bee hive a little harder by calling David Palmer and asking him to help push the government for trading Alexei for Jack. Yeah, right- a US Senator running for president is really going to be dumb enough to start giving the Department of Defense orders on a national security matter. Wait- this one IS that dumb. David offers to help, says to Nina some shit about things being in good hands. Nina hangs up giggling.

Back at Souldispatch's reception desk, an office mate comes by to tell Tony that Kim has been kidnapped again. Tony looks down like a waiter being told by the chef "we're all out of shrimp!" during Endless Shrimp night at Red Lobster.  "Don't send me out there with this information!" And of course, Teri walks by and asks "Where's Kim? I just knit her a new scarf! See!" Gahhhh!!!!

Meanwhile, Jack escapes from the vile clutches of the Drazens (took the California off this time for brevity- ha!) by using the hostess at the Slavic Club as a human shield. Victor shoots the hostess in the head. Jack is shocked. Um, Jack, this guy engaged in ethnic cleansing and committed numerous crimes against humanity. Yeah, he's gonna shoot the girl instead of surrendering.  Lame.  The Drazen that looks like Alton Brown calls Mason and asks if the trade is on. Mason says "The trade is on." Alton Drazen says "Ok, set your oven timer for 20 minutes." Then the dead hostess' dad shows up and he acts all shocked that the genocidal animal killed her, but then he begins to understand the depths of Victor's issues when 'ol Vic shoots him.  So, there goes that family.  But worry not, a new family is reunited when thugs show up with Kim Bauer, whose mouth is still mercifully covered with duct tape. Jack yells "Kim!" in shock. Someone covers Jack's mouth... with a punch. Jack goes to sleep.

I'm going to skip over this speechwriter/David Palmer flirting thing because it's so painfully contrived and dumb. Just know that it's happening... like Kim Kardashian, and we can choose to ignore both.

We finally reach the point where CTU trades Alexei for Jack. But wait, Jack isn't with the California Drazens anymore- they left him handcuffed to some large pipe in the Valley. Man, if Kiefer had a nickel for every time that shit happened.  But in all seriousness, Mason brings the ailing Son of Drazen to the meeting spot and gets nothing in return but a lot of sass from a very capable henchman.  The guy sizes up George as an incapable boob. They take Alexei from George, along with George's last shred of dignity.

And Jack... well, just when you thought "How can Jack get out of this one?" he gets a little help from someone in the distance who shoots the handcuffs, freeing Jack from his pipe. Jack's cell phone rings "If you want to see your daughter alive, and in furtherance of this ridiculous plot, please get in the fully gassed car we have waiting for you. Feel free to take our quarters for parking meters, just make sure you don't chew all of our gum, comrade! Ha! Ha! Ha!" Call ends. Episode Ends.

Damn, it's good to be back!

Now, someone please comment on the Social Contract of My Little Pony if you want to see those next two Retro Reviews alive. DAMMIT!

24: The Movie Poster Concept #3

Back in Sack, my friends!

This is Saul Bass-inspired without completely ripping off Saul Bass by cheating with his font. Sorry, I've been seeing a lot of hipster-minimalist movie poster stuff popping up online and I want to start smashing latté-filled skulls. Sorry, must be more Pony-like... (deep breath)... 

Thanks to Mike Ward on Twitter for his support of these posters.  Also, Cirroc has emerged from his Cave in Key West, where he spends his Winters, to share this update on the 24 Movie!

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Ralph McQuarrie- Artist (June 13, 1929 - March 3, 2012)

I don't think we have to wonder what Ralph McQuarrie saw when he closed his eyes.

Mr. McQuarrie was the person responsible for many of the designs, ships, planets and characters of the original Star Wars trilogy. He invented a language of design that has defined one of the most beloved and enduring films of all-time. It is almost incomprehensible to consider the assignment Mr. McQuarrie undertook- to create the initial storyboards that George Lucas used to sell the studios on his "space-fantasy" movie. 

From there, Lucas called on Mr. McQuarrie to provide production designs and character concepts. And I think Lucas was the luckiest man on Earth to have Mr. McQuarrie perform this work because the entire Star Wars story truly begins with the visuals created in those early days in 1975,

Mr. McQuarrie would be a legend if he just designed Darth Vader (which he did) and done nothing else.  Personally, I discovered Mr. McQuarrie's work when i was 5 years old, flipping through "The Art of Star Wars"- a book that I demanded my mother buy for me.  I would study the paintings in this book and go off to draw my own Star Wars pictures for hours and hours. I would say that Mr. McQuarrie captured my imagination in a way that defined my life. Drawing became my catharsis, my special escape from the world.  Even when I was at school, I would draw all day- epic murals of the Death Star blasting away fleeing rebel ships while Darth Vader looks on in triumph.  Yes, I can give Mr. McQuarrie some credit for my very mediocre grades in math classes over the years.

Indeed, we know what visions Mr. McQuarrie had because he shared many of them with us. And those images will always be a part of our world.  Thank you, Mr. McQuarrie.