Sorry I didn’t have another Grindhouse comic for you guys today. But I think I ran through all of my ideas last week! Didn’t get a chance to see it and it doesn’t look like that many of you guys did, either! A disappointing fourth place take this weekend at the box office. Surprising, for one of the most heavily-hyped films of the year. No so surprising within the context of a major Christian holiday weekend. Whoops!
If you saw Grindhouse this weekend, leave your comments after the blog. I’d love to hear what you thought! Sounds like people are really responding to the ending in Tarantino’s Death Proof. Don’t spoil it – but what did you think?
I’m sure Gordon, Joe and I will talking about Grindhouse and it’s impact (or lack thereof) up and down The Triple Feature talkcast tonight at 9:00 PM CST. If you have the druthers, join us over at TalkShoe while we take your calls and answer your questions. What went wrong? What went RIGHT?! Listen in tonight at 9:00 PM CST for the answers!
Disturbia starring Shia LaBeouf comes out this weekend and I know people who are genuinely excited to see it. To them I say “Good for you?”
Look, don’t kid yourselves. This is a total rip off of Rear Window. I’m not saying Hitchcock got their first with stories about voyeurs seeing things they aren’t supposed to see. But he did it best. CERTAINLY one of the best suspense films of all time, completely bastardized by filmmakers who are going to ratchet up the gore, throw in some lame T&A and occasionally have David Morse jump out of the shadows at you. This is Rear Window without a brain.
One of the best decisions Hitchcock ever made was to handicap Jimmy Stuart’s character with a broken leg. Smarter still, he doesn’t leave his apartment to confront the murderer until he absolutely has to – and even then, it’s for something like 5 minutes.
Disturbia tries to leverage something similar by putting their teenage protagonist under house arrest. They did this in a effort to make him edgy, I guess. Too far out of bounds and the cops come to haul our little punk to the pokey. Sure. Like that’s stopped anyone. Or like cops have nothing better to do than to patrol lazy suburban confines for the errant house arrest escapee.
Everything about the trailers for this movie make me want to retch. From the blood splatter across windows and torture implements in the basement, to the too-cute punny title, to the over-earnestness of Shia LeBeouf begging to be taken seriously as a dramatic actor, this film reeks of cheap tricks and imitation.
Do yourselves a favor – instead of seeing Disturbia this weekend, rent Rear Window and see how it’s done. You can keep your MTV and your fancy iPoo-poos! I’ll take the classics!
That is all!
Watching the live-action adaptation of Transformers, one sits and wonders if Michael Bay will deliver on the franchise’s famous promise of being “more than meets the eye.” In many ways, the film delivers. But in others, it feels like it’s all been done before.
Even though it feels like you’re a third of the way through the movie before you get a chance to get a good look at one of them, the three-story robotic monstrosities known as the Transformers are a marvel of visual effects work. Hats off to Industrial Light and Magic for their innovations in kinematics that allow for the explosive unfolding and reassembling of complicated machinery into the heroes and villians we’ve grown up with.
No detail is spared in the transformations. Several close-up shots demonstrate the complex but true-to-form physics of displaced joints and appendages. You literally see the gears turning. And, of course, they sell it by adding the infamous “chh-chh-chh-chh!” noise that countless little boys made themselves when playing with the toys growing up. Good call.
Bonus points as well go to giving the role of Optimus Prime to Peter Cullen (who originated the character in the cartoons). Hearing his rich baritone deliver Optimus Prime’s lines just feels right – like an old pair of slippers (even if Cullen had to audition twice (!!!) to get the role).
As a side-note, there was some fan outrage when the role of Megatron was turned over to Hugo Weaving, but it’s a non-issue. Weaving does some interesting things with the tight-lipped Aussie snarl he perfected as Agent Smith in The Matrix Trilogy. You won’t even recognize him until he’s on screen for a good 10 or 15 minutes. No disrespect to Earl Hammond (who originated the role of Megatron in the cartoons), but his addition probably would have put the film over the top in terms of cartoonishness.
Not that Bay doesn’t do a good job of that on his own. Carrying his signature style (sweaty and grimy heroes walking in slow-motion against back-lit scenery) the action sequences deliver full-throttle excitement. There is always something awe inspiring to look at. If you would have flipped on the lights during the Optimus Prime/Bonecrusher fight over the Los Angeles freeway, I’m sure you would have seen a sea of slack-jawed amazement. Sometimes it’s almost impossible to soak it all in as Bay brings the battle in close for a robot-on-robot death match. Speed, fluidity, and explosive force are all hallmarks of his trade and there isn’t a movie better than Transformers for Bay to use his entire bag of tricks.
However, for everything that the movie does right, there are areas that come up short. Specifically, the screenplay. Five writers had their hands in this thing and it shows. Anytime a character speaks, they really shouldn’t because most of what they say are melodramatic cliches.
As far as the performances are concerned, Shia LaBeouf as the lead knows his role is to act as our witness – to allow the story of the Transformers be told through his eyes. At times his delivery comes off like a spastic Vaudeville routine. A lot of fast talking and stumbling over his words. But he holds his own.
Megan Fox as his romantic interest offers little than a sweaty midriff to look at. She looks half-asleep through most of the movie. Her background as the daughter of a grease monkey felon is inconsequential and only inserted to mask the fact that she’s only along for the ride as arm candy.
Josh Duhamel is serviceable as an Army Ranger who’s squad first encounters the Transformers in the desert of Quatar (ooo, topical!), but he’s no Timothy Olyphant. Tyrese Gibson as his war-buddy is pretty much there to taunt the evil Transformers after calling in an air strike with the summer’s newest non-catchphrase “Bring the rain!”
There’s a curious amount of military involvement in the film, which felt odd at first for a science-fiction movie about giant robots. But considering this is an alien invasion of sorts, the response is appropriate. Maybe it just feels odd since the original cartoons never really addressed the human response to Transformers being on Earth. They carried out their war in our backyards pretty much undisturbed. But if you’re applying real-world logic to the film, the government would be on this pretty quick.
Seeing all of the tanks, jets and helicopters made available to Bay by The Department of Defense, it’s easy to see why Bay has a strong following among the NASCAR set. He makes the soldiers out to be more quick-witted, heroic and ass-kicking than Rambo. I’m not saying we couldn’t use a little positive representation of our men in uniform, but I was surprised at the level of American gung-ho spirit in a movie whose source material comes from Japanese robots.
That said, there’s almost too much military action. There’s so much at the beginning, we’re not introduced to Shia’s character until almost 40 minutes in. By the third act of the movie when John Tuturro and his secret government agency that smells like a Men In Black rip-off shows up, the film veers dangerously close to plagiarizing Independence Day when it’s revealed how much the government knew and when they knew it.
If I could express any other complaint about the movie, it would have to be the amount of product placement that Bay can’t seem to divorce himself from in his films. From eBay to Burger King to each of the good-guy Transformers depicted as GMC vehicles, the stamp of marketing executives are all over this film. At one point, there is a convoy of all the vehicles that looks like a commercial I’d see while watching The Office. Lens flares, close-ups of the GMC logo, swooping overhead shots from a helicopter. I leaned over to Cami and whispered “The all-new 2008 Bumblebee with 0% financing and factory rebate!” Hell, even a Nokia phone and a Mountain Dew vending machine transform into robots! Of course, the movie itself is a gigantic commercial to sell toys. It pretty much tells you as much in the opening credits when it reads “In partnership with Hasbro.”
Ultimately, Transformers is a big, dumb Hollywood action movie that brings the fireworks for the Fourth of July holiday. It doesn’t disservice the characters I grew up with and loved as a child, but it really doesn’t bring anything new to them other than the amazing photo-realistic transformations in the effects work. If you like Bay’s other action movies, you’ll love this one. If you’re not already a fan, there’s nothing here that will convert you. Take Transformers with a grain of salt and you’ll have a rollicking good time at the movies.
Watching the Transformers two-disc special edition on DVD feels like an unfairly muted experience. A spectacle of this proportion is better served on the big screen. I reviewed the film during it’s theatrical release and found most of the problems I experienced in that initial viewing remained intact. The plot is spread too thin over too many characters. There are logic and pacing problems and there is still too much signature “Michael Bay-ness” in the film to endear itself to me.
One thing I became more forgiving of was the designs of the robots. Engulfing your entire field of vision on the big screen, the bodies of twisting, twitching metal were tough to identify. Confined to your TV, Optimus Prime and the rest of the Autobots become more manageable and recognizable.
As the movie progresses to it’s big downtown battle sequence, I found myself even more impressed with the complexity of their design and the fluidity of their movements. Once you get past the knee-jerk “But Ironhide doesn’t look like that!” reaction from your childhood, these modern updates makes more and more sense.
That aside, the two-disc edition includes an excellent set of extras on the second disc. Two hour-long documentaries broken into different chapters detail brilliantly the filming of the movie from concept to completion.
ILM comes off looking the best explaining the Transformers look and feel – how they developed the complex programming that gave every last nut and bolt a place to fold and lock into shape between vehicle and robot transformation. The detailing given to each character down to every last nick and scratch is the hallmark of this film.
The writers of the film – Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman – do a good job of explaining why some robots made it into the film and others didn’t. They also made a good case for fan favorite transforming into an “alien jet” and not a more terrestrial vehicle – more glaringly, why he doesn’t transform into his signature form, a Walther P-38 handgun.
“We decided there would be no mass-displacement in the movie. Megatron can turn into a gun in the cartoon and you don’t think twice. But we found in the movie that Megatron turning into a gun was the equivalent of Darth Vader turning into his lightsaber and having someone else swing him around.”
Although they make no explanation about the mass-displacement of the condensed Allspark, they make a good point about Megatron.
Between the writers and the animators, there is clear affinity for the characters and an understanding of their histories. But not everyone comes off so well. In their interviews, Michael Bay, Shia LaBeouf executive producer Steven Spielberg and representatives from Hasbro all look like money hungry opportunists trying to revive a 20 year-old franchise. It’s really not worth going into detail, but more often than not, you get the sense that these parties are looking down their nose at the geek culture that spawned this level of success for their film.
Despite the general unpleasantness Bay exhibits on a regular basis (yelling his direction through a megaphone is one of his more “charming” traits) you have to give credit to him as someone who knows how to deliver a visceral thrill and for insisting on doing it with practical effects. Watching the behind-the-scenes on how many of these complicated shots were achieved makes the film a much richer experience and makes the two-disc edition well worth the money.
We’re back from Henry’s surgery and the little tot is no worse for the wear. He was pretty cheesed off for about 20 minutes after the surgery. But once we got a bottle in him and brought him back home, he was busy crawling all over the place and getting into the dog’s food bowl just like always.
Regarding today’s strip, you can see the new course that’s been plotted for Jared and his particular brand of celebrity hatred. Ben Affleck has faded into the sunset. A new annoying actor has taken his place. Shia LaBeouf.
Now I know a lot of you out there might find this an unpopoular move. He was in Transformers. He’s going to be in the next Indiana Jones movie. He’s super-popular and well-liked.
I’m here to tell you that the kid is a fraud. And I think, secretly, there are some of you out there that agree. I’m planning on tapping into the vast undercurrent of LaBeouf hatred that’s out there and riding it all the way to the bank.
I don’t know what I don’t like about the kid. I’ve just never liked him. Admittedly, I didn’t know much about him as a person when he was starring in stuff like Charlies Angels: Full Throttle or Holes, but he just seemed way too cocky. He hadn’t done anything to earn the chip on his shoulder.
He seems like one of those kids that’s been pushed into show business by an over-zealous parent and they take it REALLY SERIOUSLY as a way to earn their parent’s love. As if being a professional or some kind of mini-adult will earn them more respect. Like Dakota Fanning or Haley Joel Osment, or something.
That’s fine. I appreciate an actor who is serious about their craft. But all of these actors started out as CHILD actors. And in order to perform at the level they do, you have to lobotomize a part of your childhood to do it. Let’s face it: That never turns out well.
I think what makes Shia particularly annoying is that he’s a sanctimonious hypocrite. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he derided the party-hard actors and actresses of his generation by saying that he isn’t a big partier and stays home with his friends instead of getting into trouble. Not two months later and Us Weekly reports a story about him gallivanting around Hollywood trying to pick up chicks.
Don’t get me wrong. If I was his age and making millions of dollars, I’d probably succumb to the temptation. But what I WOULDN’T do is go to the press and talk about how committed I am to acting and how stupid everyone else is for partying. Dumb, dumb, dumb Shia.
Now, this morning, The Chicago Tribune is reporting that LaBeouf was arrested in Chicago for trespassing after he refused to leave a Walgreens drug store! It doesn’t get any better than this! (Thanks to Josh Anderson for forwarding me the link).
I’ve got the whole week to make my case against Shia, but I have to admit that last news item couldn’t have come at a better time. Mark my words, kids – LaBeouf is going down!
That about does it for me this morning. I have to run to the pharmacy quick and get Henry some ear drops.
Be sure to listen to The Triple Feature talkcast tonight at 9:00 PM CST over at TalkShoe.com. We’ll be talking about American Gangster and Bee Movie. Who knows? Maybe we’ll rag on Shia a little more?
I saw Bee Movie this weekend and liked it, although I don’t know why. I don’t think it was very good, but Seinfeld was very charming and I think he carried the picture. Be sure to listen live tonight and call in. We can discuss it in real time!
Also, be sure to listen in because tonight I’ll be giving away the first half of the prize code for a giveaway of Michael Moore’s Sicko – out on DVD tomorrow. Listen to the show, get the first half of the clue and then come back to the site tommorrow for the second half of the clue. E-mail the entire clue to me with the subject line “SICKO” at email@example.com with your name and address to be entered in the random drawing! I’ll also have my review of Sicko up on the site tomorrow, so you’ll want to check that out as well.
See you tonight! 9:00 PM CST sharp!
It’s been very interesting to read the comments people have been sending me since I revealed Shia LaBeouf to be Ben Affleck’s replacement in regards to Jared’s anti-celebrity ire. A lot of you think I’ve set my targets on the wrong guy. “He’s just a kid! Give him a break! He’s a good actor – why don’t you go after someone with less talent?” they say.
But then there are an enlightened few of you who have responded and said “YES! THANK YOU! I thought I was the only one who hated that guy! Now I know I’m not alone!”
I like to think of these people as the early adopters of the anti-Shia movement I’m starting. For those of you who want me to cut the kid a break, believe me – I see where you’re coming from. On the surface, he seems to be an okay guy and not causing any problems. But I’m warning you – there’s something sinister going on! I’ll take my lumps for the time being. That’s the price you pay for staying ahead of the trend.
For those of you on board with me, here’s something to brighten your day. Shai’s mug shot from our good friends at TheSmokingGun.com
Kind of looks like he had his picture taken at the Sears Portrait Studio, doesn’t it? Gotta love that glazed over stare.
Switching gears, I hope everyone had a chance to listen to The Triple Feature broadcast on Monday. Not only because I think we had a really good show, but also because I’m doing a contest giveaway for Michael Moore’s Sicko. The first half of a clue is embedded in the show. The second half is in my reveiew of Sicko that went up on the site yesterday. So check those out, send the whole clue with your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org and be entered in the contest to win! One winner will be chosen at random.
Sicko came out on DVD yesterday. If you have a chance to view it, I strongly encourage you do. It was a great movie. I real eye-opener.
Be sure to come back to the site tomorrow as I have another review planned for you. Originally I was going to cover Ratatouille and The Pixar Short Films Collection – Volume 1 (also out on DVD yesterday), but so far I’ve only watched the Short Films Collection and was side-tracked by an advanced screening of a film I saw with friends yesterday.
It was called The Business of Being Born and it’s another documentary about the health care industry. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did, but this movie (coupled with Sicko) delivered a one-two punch that’s left me reeling. I think there is more that can be explored by paring these two reviews together this week, so look for that tomorrow. You can expect Pixar goodness next week.
That’s it for now! Have a great day!
Every time I think I’ve put a bow on an arc, I always think of different ways that I could stretch it into infinity.
Today’s comic was supposed to be the end of the Shia LaBeouf arc. But obviously the way I’ve set up the punchline in today’s comic, there has to be some kind of action taken against Shia next week, don’t you think?
I guess I’ve been hip-deep in this storyline so long, I don’t know if you guys are into it anymore? If you have a free minute, send me some feedback, won’t you?
So far this week, I think I’ve made a pretty good case against Shia – both in the comic and in the blog. I wanted to squeeze more examples into today’s comic, but there wasn’t enough room in the second panel to do that.
Regardless of the damming testimony I’ve come up with so far, I knew that photo from the set of the upcoming Indiana Jones movie was my secret weapon. First of all, that leather jacket isn’t working for me. It communicates only one thing – “Greaser.” I don’t need you screwing up my Indiana Jones movie with any shenanigans from Grease.
Second, Shia SHOULD NOT BE DRIVING THE MOTORCYCLE WITH INDIANA JONES RIDING BITCH! You want to ride a motorcycle, that’s fine. Here’s a Vespa. But if you’re hanging out with Indiana Jones – guess what? – HE’S DRIVING!
You want another reason to hate Shia? Check out this production photo from the set of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:
WHAT IS UP WITH THAT MOUSTACHE? KNOCK IT OFF!
Probably the most dispiriting aspect of this whole Shia debacle is that he appears to have become Steven Spielberg’s protege. And with Vanity Fair declaring him “the next Tom Hanks,” there are too many favorable associations floating around this kid. Did he make some kind of bargain with Lucifer? Because, if not, I think we should all strongly consider having Steven Spielberg committed to a mental institution.
That’s as much venom as I have for you today. Have a great weekend!
Apologies for the delay on today’s blog. I uploaded the comic last night and forgot about it because today I am taking the day off from my 9 to 5 so I can work on a Theater Hopper redesign. I’m really excited, but worried I won’t get everything done before Cami brings Henry home from day care once she gets off work. At least I can lay down a good foundation without a lot of distraction. Although it’s very tempting to want to play Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess all day!
I feel kind of self-conscious about today’s comic especially after Friday’s comic. You wouldn’t believe how many messages of support I got for that comic. More importantly, you wouldn’t believe the number of converts I brought over to my way of thinking after that comic! Lots of people were sending e-mails saying “I thought you were kind of off base with your hatred for Shia LaBeouf, but seeing that picture with Harrison Ford riding bitch has me convinced!” I knew that photo was my secret weapon.
At any rate, I know that social awkwardness on a plane or in a confined space isn’t really new, but I had to figure out a way to get Jared face-to-face with his new nemisis and anything else would have been too abrupt. I’m really enjoying telling this story and feel like I could go on and on with it, but I’m probably going to try and wrap it up this week. I’ve been doing it for about a month and I’m starting to miss the topical stuff. Plus, heading into the holidays, there are going to be a lot of films I want to talk about.
Speaking of movies I want to talk about, we’re going to be talking about A BUNCH of movies tonight on The Triple Feature talkcast. Specifically, we’ll be talking about No Country For Old Men, the new Coen Brothers movie out now in limited release. In support of the new film, we’ll be talking at length about the Coen Brother’s contribution to film over the last 25 years. So if you have opinions about Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski or Fargo, call in! We’d love to talk to you!
The show starts at 9:00 PM CST. Be there or be square!
See you guys then. For me, it’s back to the redesign!
Sorry today’s comic was late. Like, REALLY late. I didn’t get a chance to post it until after 11:00 PM. The reason for the delay is that Henry has come down with a wicked cold and has been running a fever. So, we’ve been watching him pretty closely. As such I don’t have much of a blog post for you today. Sorry. But, hey! Harrison Ford! That’s cool, right?
If you’re interested, be sure to check out my review of Ratatouille which came out on DVD yesterday. Or you can keep yourselves busy by downloading Monday’s broadcast of The Triple Feature. We’ve really been on fire these last few episodes. I’ve been really proud of how they’ve turned out.
I’ll have another review on the site tomorrow – The Pixar Short Films Collection, Volume 1 – so be on the lookout for that.
Thanks for your understanding. I appreciate it!
So this is it. The big finish.
I suppose some of you might be let down by the comeuppance Shia LaBeouf receives. Personally, I would have hoped that it would have been a little more Machiavellian, but sometimes a solid punch to the gut is what you need.
You can see it went a little larger with the comic today. I think it’s the first time I’ve done that. I did it to kind of punctuate the story arc by giving you a little more. Even though I can see a thousand different opportunities where to take this, I think after a month it’s best to hang it up and move on to new things.
I hope you guys enjoyed the arc. I had a lot of fun writing it. Probably the high point for me was last Friday’s strip where I broke out the production photo of Harrison Ford riding bitch on a motorcycle Shia was driving. That was the tipping point. Here I was making this case for why you should hate Shia LaBeouf and some people were like, “I don’t get it.” Show them that picture and all of a sudden they’re like, “I HATE THAT GUY!” I always knew it was my secret weapon.
I have to give thanks to those of you with StubmleUpon and Reddit accounts that gave that strip prominence on the social bookmark circuit. Your efforts brought CRAZY traffic to the site and I can’t thank you enough. If only we can have that going on all the time. How cool would that be? Of course it’s a good idea to bookmark EVERY Theater Hopper strip – but I think asking you guys to concentrate your efforts on a specific comic really paid off. So I might try that trick again at some point in the future.
Incidentally, if you’re new to the strip – welcome! I hope you add us to your bookmarks and check back often.
Not much more to tell you except I’m seeing Beowulfthis weekend and I’m really looking forward to it.
At first I was kind of “Meh” about Beowulf. I was like, “I read the poem in high school. What more do you want from me?” But then the footage for the trailers started seeping into my brain and I became really curious as to how they were going to make this motion capture stuff work.
I saw The Polar Express. It was the last time Robert Zemekis tried the motion capture trick and I didn’t like it. The children looked like dead-eyed Play-Doh zombies. Will he be able to breathe life int a much more epic story? I like that he keeps reaching for that brass ring.
Oh – real quick, I have to point your attention to a recent Joe Loves Crappy Movies comic about the parking lot thriller P2. Joe came up with a new term based on how bad the movie was to describe theater hopping and he gives us a funny shout out. Read it!
Anyway, that’s it for me! Thanks again for your support and have a great weekend!
“Why did you draw yourself like Gollum?”
That was the first question Cami asked me when I showed her the artwork for today’s strip. I noticed it myself after I inked it and I think it works! Old Tom should look like of goblin-like, don’t you think?
I’m really happy with the way this comic turned out. Pretty much once I decided that future-Tom should live in an environment reminiscent of The Jetsons, things started falling into place. Sometimes I think of a point I want to make first and then wrap a joke around it. This is me just being silly. It feels good.
Of course you know I had to throw in a Futurama reference for good measure.
As for The Bucket List? I don’t know. In real-life, I’m not all that excited about it. While I’m attracted to any movie that stars Jack Nicholson or Morgan Freeman, I’m not attracted to a film whose main conceit is “Hey! These guys are gonna die soon!” I don’t need to be reminded of that. Basically, to me, The Bucket List looks like Grumpy Old Men with a mortality twist and I don’t trust director Rob Riener to be capable enough of reigning in the schmaltz.
That’s it for now. I know I talked about getting you my Best of 2007 list today and I still want to make that a reality. I just have to delay it for the time being. I’m going to try and get it done over my lunch hour, though. So come back this afternoon!
See you then!