Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)


The object of our televised affections.

Twin Peaks was a American TV show I never watched because it aired on ABC. Let me explain.

In the early-90s, even in the days before Disney bought them out and began sanitizing everything for the protection of Uncle Walt’s cryogentically frozen head, ABC was the TV network for losers. The rest of us watched NBC or CBS because that’s where all the good shows lived. ABC’s only claim to fame at the time were re-runs of the original Star Trek which aired at 10 o’clock on Sunday morning, allowing me to call these broadcasts “Church.” If we wanted to be around our parents we watched Cheers and if we wanted to send them fleeing from the room we watched Fox. Why on earth would we bother channel surfing over to ABC? Continue reading Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

Mystery Men (1999)

Hold him back! If he escapes, he'll just keep making Zoolander movies.
Hold him back! If he escapes, he'll just make Zoolander.

Comedy is hard. Knowing this, Hollywood has a bad habit of stocking its comedies with professional comedians. Who better, so the thinking goes, to help bring in the funny? But comedians are not necessarily actors. As such, they fall into an unfortunate habit of playing themselves. That’s the paradox of most comedies, and its a paradox Mystery Men cannot avoid. Its greatest strengths are also the very things that destroy its universe. Its great cast flits about like lost children, playing the Greek Chorus of their own damn story. Based on one of the great indie comics of the 90s, it extracted a perfectly good premise from a source it had no earthly idea how to properly handle. Having gained a cult following in the days since it spectacularly bombed at the box office only means it’s attracted my not-so-tender attentions. If I were Godzilla, cult superhero movies would by my nuclear power stations. So let’s strap on the latex monster costumes and get to stomping this Tokyo, shall we? Continue reading Mystery Men (1999)

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

The Eyes have it!
The Eyes have it!

In my Part V review I called that film

the point where the series stopped taking itself so dang seriously, signing its own aesthetic death certificate.

I stand by that, as I stand by every other half-coherent statement I’ve ever made, sensible or otherwise. But I’d be remiss not to confess that the very thing I criticized about Part V lies at the root of my appreciation for Part VI. I’d always liked Jason Lives, but now I fucking love it. If it were a woman, I’d shower its path with rose petals and cake. We’d go back to my place and I’d make Jason Lives fried potatoes and onions for breakfast the next morning. I see a healthy and long-lasting relationship in our future…just as long as we avoid her eleven electrical socket-licking siblings. Continue reading Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

The Phantom (1996)

What is it with the "fist-on-hips" thing?
What is it with the "fist-on-hips" thing? I mean, really...

A lot of people have trouble taking superheroes seriously, what with the tight suits and the underwear on the outside of their pants. But I challenge anyone to walk down a dark alleyway at night, hastily turn around, and not soil yourself in fear when you find the goddamn Batman standing there, right behind you. Sure, your rational mind would soon take over and you might remind the costumed fool that “Halloween ain’t ’til manyana”…giving him the perfect opportunity to perform some amateur dental surgery on you with his boots.

Unfortunately, Batman was far from the first costumed hero of the 1930s. Created for the daily newspaper strips of 1936, The Phantom represents one of the last costumed mystery-men to make the scene before Superman came along and changed everything. Four months separated the two hero’s debuts in their respective magazines. Can you guess which one won more culture cache? Here’s the hint: the only man in a purple suit who’s going to frighten me is the Joker. And even I have trouble taking the Phantom seriously. Continue reading The Phantom (1996)

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)

Really, would you two just fuck and get it over with?
Really, would you two just fuck and get it over with?

First, a refresher.

Twilight taught us all young men are monsters whose rampant sexual urges will, without exception, KILL YOU. Their desire to do so is what’s known as “love.” Keep them at arm’s length and you’ll gain a loyal attack dog sure to lay waste your enemies and cause their women to lament. Sure, your new pet monster might stalk you and creep into your room at night…or whenever you’re not at home…or just whenever the hell he feels like it…but so long as his family accepts you and your family hates him, everything will work out in the end.

New Moon reinforced these lessons while simultaneously teaching us that all teenage girls are evil, scheming, serial-users, much closer to classical vampire archetypes than the Family Cullen. Girls’ll suck you emotionally dry while you sit there, fruitlessly hoping that, one day, they’ll suck you physically dry as well. Even doing that thing they do where they catch your bottom lip in their teeth and pull back until all those little tendons holding your lip to your jaw start to hurt so goodeven that would be better than nothing. Because “nothing” is about all you’re gonna get. After all, you’re a monster, right? Why in God’s name would they touch you, you muscley slab of man-beef? Besides, it’s not like they don’t already have an abusive boyfriend. And once he snaps his fingers expect them to go running back faster than a zombie with the Rage virus…no matter how badly he’s treated them in the recent past. Continue reading The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)

Dick Tracy (1990)

Bang Bang! You're dead, punk.
Bang Bang! You're dead, punk.

Most people have no idea how their movies are made, lacking even the faintest clue as how much of a Hell on Earth the process can become…especially once money’s involved. Throw in a well-known “property” (Hollywood-ese for an “idea”), a multibillion dollar movie studio, and a legend-in-his-own-time actor/director known for ball-busting levels of perfectionism and the irresistible compulsion to sexually harass anything that walks by him with breasts…and welcome to the Ninth Circle of Development Hell. Pull up a pot of boiling pitch and stay yourself awhile.

It took a little-known Tim Burton film called Batman to break the logjam between Disney, who put up the money (and own the film through their subsidiary, Touchstone Pictures), Tribune Media, who owned the idea, and legend-in-his-own-mind Warren Beatty, who secured the chance to direct himself in the lead role as every self-styled tough guy’s ultimate author-insertion fantasy persona, a man appropriately named Dick. Continue reading Dick Tracy (1990)

Jonah Hex (2010)

Nice try.
Eh. B minus for effort.

Want to know how to make a bad movie? Take a character who’s basically every cliche in his genre rolled into one portable unit, plug him into a script picked over by the proverbial thousand monkeys, and give the whole project to a director who’s spent the last ten years slaving away on the Pixar plantation.

Sometimes you can just see the train coming. As if that weren’t enough, the whole package comes to us from one of my ancient enemies: Akiva Goldsman, the man who made a mess called I Am Legend…and even bigger mess called Batman and Robin…and whose production company, Weed Road Pictures, put up the money for this mess. So Jonah Hex has finally limped its way onto video, branded one of the Worst Films of Summer 2010 by the little subconscious voice that makes all my snap judgments. Was it correct? Is this the new Wild Wild West? Continue reading Jonah Hex (2010)

Steel (1997)

"Sir! Shaq reporting for duty, sir!"
"Sir! Shaq reporting for duty, sir!"

In 1993, the death of Superman caused an entire generation who’d grown weary of the character’s cinematic incarnations to perk up and start paying attention to comics. It’s the sad fact of our sad age that cynical marketing ploys (like killing off your flagship character just so you can bring him back to life) work more often than they fail. It certainly got me on board, and by the time Superman’s reappearence was all-but-upon-us I was loyally begging my parents for all four (at the time) of DC Comics’ Superman titles.

In an even more cynical ploy to hook we ignorant readers, the creatives behind Superman’s books trotted out four super powered pretenders to the throne, each of whom attempted to carry on the Man of Steel’s Never Ending Battle in their own, inept way. Steel was my favorite of the bunch because, unlike those three other sad sacks, he never pretended to be Back from the Great Beyond. We first met him as an anonymous construction worker whom Superman saved from a thirty-story fall. By way of a thank you, Big Blue instructed him to “live a life worth saving.” The rest is confusing comic book history. Continue reading Steel (1997)

Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)

"I think I'll just stand here until you drop dead. Ya'all okay with that?"
"I think I'll just stand here until you drop dead. Ya'all okay with that?"

A New Beginning is bad…but there’s more to it than that. Yes, it’s The One Without Jason, but it’s also the one without standards, any regard for pace, storytelling, or even its own audience expectations. It’s the one that threw the series over a bridge. The point where casts and crews stopped even pretending to care about quality and settled for last place in the Generic Slasher Movie Olympics.

It’s the kind of film you don’t review so much as describe, like the scene of a horrible industrial accident. It could be a nuclear meltdown, or a poison gas leak on a day when the wind blew the wrong way, annihilating a major American movie franchise. It’s the point where the series stopped taking itself so dang seriously, signing its own aesthetic death certificate. It’s a film that circles back around the loop in the my critical scale and becomes so unforgivably awful…it’s actually rather fun. At times. Continue reading Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)