The Epitome of Randomness #1 – The Inception Phenomenon

A minor schedule change today, folks – since I didn’t get to go to the movies today, I will instead switch my Epitome of Randomness #1 column (scheduled for Friday) to TODAY, and my review of Salt will be posted on Friday instead. Also, in case anyone is confused with what happened to my ORIGINAL Epitome of Randomness #1, I decided to divide the two movies reviews contained in it (for Despicable Me and Inception) into separate posts, and start fresh with a new #1. Now, with all that hubbub out of the way, enjoy the first edition of The Epitome of Randomness, here on SuperfriendsUniverse.com!




MAIN TOPIC: The Inception Phenomenon


If you are the average moviegoer who keeps track of the summer movies every year, you might be inclined to agree that the 2010 Summer Movie Season has been…well…SUBPAR, to say the least. You can attribute the decline in revenue and overall interest in the movies this summer to one of the following reasons:


A.) The economy (in which case, you’d be 100% WRONG, as no one can claim “THE ECONOMY” as an excuse for hardship anymore while other entertainment venues such as sports – UFC. NFL, MLB, etc. – and concerts continue to thrive).


B.) The spike in box office prices in the advent of 3-D (while a viable case COULD be made here, it would eventually get SHOT DOWN for 3 reasons – 1.) it ties into the “THE ECONOMY” bullshit excuse, 2.) not ALL films are in 3-D (yet), and 3.) many of the films that ARE in 3-D are BREAKING BOX OFFICE RECORDS (Avatar anyone? Alice in Wonderland anyone?)


And FINALLY…


C.) The lack of ORIGINALITY among the current slate of films in theaters (“DING! DING! DING! What do we have for him, Johnny!?” Allow me to elaborate…)


So far, this summer (not even this YEAR, this SUMMER – May through August), 75% of the MAINSTREAM FILMS (independent films DON’T COUNT HERE) have either been a SEQUEL (Iron Man 2, Shrek Forever After, Sex and the City 2, Toy Story 3, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Predators, Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, Step Up 3D, and Nanny McPhee Returns), REMAKE (Robin Hood, The Karate Kid, Dinner for Schmucks, and Piranha 3-D), SPINOFF (Get Him to the Greek, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice), or a FILM BASED ON A TV SHOW, COMIC BOOK, NOVEL, OR VIDEO GAME (MacGruber, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Marmaduke, The A-Team, Jonah Hex, The Last Airbender, Ramona and Beezus, Charlie St. Cloud, Eat Pray Love, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World). The majority – over 90% – of these films (the ones that have come out, at least) – have been greeted with poor box office receipts and, in many cases, even poorer word of mouth, with audiences ALL SUMMER begging the question….


WHERE’S THE ORIGINALITY, HOLLYWOOD???


That’s why, when the film Inception was released last month, it took the world by storm. Not only was this film NOT a SEQUEL, PREQUEL, SPINOFF, REMAKE, or BASED ON A TV SHOW, BOOK, COMIC, OR VIDEO GAME, it was also NOT in 3-D, which nowadays, is apparently a BIG risk for films to take (hence why every fucking movie is coming out in 3-D now – if you’re a studio exec, all you see is, “3-D = $$$$”). And yet, what happened? Inception BLEW everyone and their mother away, baby!


Inception is being called the “saving grace” of the 2010 Summer Movie Season, and is already starting to get some serious Oscar buzz…in AUGUST. But forget the Oscars for a minute. Let’s talk about NOW…why people are so consumed with this movie and why people have literally EMBRACED it as the savior of the summer.


Like I stated before in my review for Inception, it does not treat the audience like babies; on the contrary, director Christopher Nolan automatically assumes that the contemporary movie-going audience will be able to understand and follow his carefully-crafted storyline without a problem – in other words, he gives the audience too much credit, which isn’t a bad thing at all…why? Because it’s about time that SOMEBODY in Hollywood realized that people have fucking BRAINS (well – at least most of us do) and don’t like to sit through these boring, simplistic, “RINKY DINK” (as Big D likes to say) plots and storylines every fucking time. Once in a while, people like a CHALLENGE – and that’s exactly what Christopher Nolan gives us with Inception.


And how do I know this, Hollywood? Simple – Inception was #1 at the box office for the THIRD WEEK IN A ROW – not because there are all these new people who are, all of a sudden, seeing it – the MAJORITY of people who wanted to see it HAVE SEEN IT ALREADY. But many newfound fans of the film are so INTRIGUED with the story and the plot –and want to get a BETTER understanding of it that they are seeing it twice, 3x, 4x, 5x, etc. If that doesn’t prove that audiences like an intriguing, challenging plot once in a while, then I don’t know what does…


Hopefully, the success of Inception shows Hollywood that they don’t have to dig into pop culture history and just shell out half-assed scripts based on shit we’ve already seen 10x before – they need to STOP GETTING FUCKING LAZY and start using their brains to come up with original ideas, just like THEIR PREDECESSORS DID! Then again, I HAVE always wanted to see a remake of The Godfather…or a Family Matters Movie….NOT!!!!


Lazy bastards….






I hope everyone enjoyed my first official edition of The Epitome of Randomness. Look out for my review of Salt tomorrow afternoon (8/6) – PROMISE! LOL


Until then, I’m out!

Review – Dinner for Schmucks [2010]






Basic Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: Tim Conrad (played by Paul Rudd) is an ambitious executive who, after securing a negotiation (and the potential business) of Swiss mogul Mueller (played by David Walliams), is invited by his boss to what is known within the company as the monthly “dinner for winners,” (Tim later learns that it is more accurately a “dinner for idiots”) in which each invitee must find a “unique person with a special talent” and bring them to the dinner – the most unique of the bunch is declared the “winner” and the executive who brings him/her secures bragging rights among his peers. The next afternoon, Tim meets Barry Speck (played by Steve Carell) after accidentally running him over. After getting to know Barry’s weird antics and hobbies, he invites him to the dinner the following evening. But as Tim gets to know Barry, he starts having second thoughts as to whether he should go through with the dinner at all…


The Pros: Once again, Steve Carell comes through with a performance that is not only noteworthy, but one that single-handedly SAVED this film. However, while his performance was most definitely exceptional, it was a contributing factor as to why I didn’t like the film all that much (more on that later). Slowly but surely, Steve Carell is becoming one of Hollywood’s “go-to” guys for any and every role – he currently has TWO films in the Top 5 at the box office – Schmucks and Despicable Me – films that appeal to two VERY different audiences. Anyway, back to the pros – there were a few hilarious lines in this film that I’m sure I’ll hear at least once before the end of the year (“I thought the clitoris was in her purse”). Finally, Stephanie Szostak, the chick who played Julie (Tim’s girlfriend) in the film – TOTAL BABE.


The Cons: First off, I was very disappointed that the Paul Rudd of old was nowhere to be found here. Now granted, I understand that he was trying to play a more serious character, but in my opinion, the guy simply came off as very unlikeable – even in scenes where the audience is SUPPOSED to like and sympathize with him. Secondly, the pacing of the film was WAY OFF (the aforementioned “dinner” does not take place until near the end of the film). Next, a lot (and I do mean A LOT) of the comedy came off forced and unfunny – in fact, there were LONG periods in this film where I found myself sitting on my hands NOT laughing, and asking myself, “isn’t this supposed to be a comedy?” And when I finally DID laugh, it was at Steve Carell, which is the final gripe I had about the film. Not to take away from Carell’s performance at all, since like I stated above, I think he SAVED this film, HOWEVER, I think this film sent a very mixed message as far as how we are supposed to react to these so-called “schmucks.” Throughout the entire film, we are subjected to the Barry character’s bizarre antics, to the point where the film is expecting us to laugh at him. Yet, at the end of the film (not to give anything away, but it is fairly OBVIOUS how it all ends), the audience is indirectly chastised for laughing at these “schmucks” when THE FILM HAS BEEN DOING EVERYTHING BUT MAKING US DO IT FOR THE PAST HOUR-AND-A-HALF.


Conclusion: I had high expectations going into Dinner for Schmucks, and those expectations were somewhat let down. While the film looks like your standard buddy-comedy fare from the outside, it’s actually a film that really doesn’t know whether it wants to be pro-or-anti-“schmuck” – in other words, lacking an consistent identity (much like TNA Wrestling, but that’s another issue altogether). Yet, through that mess, Steve Carell delivers YET ANOTHER terrific performance that gives life to what would otherwise have been a mundane character. Recommended for Steve Carell fans only – otherwise, WAIT FOR THE DVD.




Final Score: *** (3/5)




Look out for my review of Salt, starring Angelina Jolie, tomorrow afternoon (8/05).


Until then, I’m out!

DVD of the Day: The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)




The Man With The Golden Gun


A duel between titans… my golden gun against your Walther PPK.
One bullet against my six?
I only need one, Mr. Bond.



The Stats
The Director:  Guy Hamilton

The Cast:  Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Herve Villechaize
The Release Date: 1974
The Runtime: 125 Minutes


The Plot

James Bond investigates a notorious assassin, Francisco Scaramanga… or, the Man with the Golden Gun.

The Lowdown

Yeah, I know… another Bond movie. But I’ve been watching a lot of Bond movies recently. So, screw it, here’s another one. (Besides, we’re all men here. Who doesn’t love Bond?)


So, I’m assuming most of you have played Goldeneye for the N64. If you haven’t… well, reach into your pants and see if your testicles are still there. It only happens to be one of the best games ever. And what makes it so damn fun is the player vs player mode when you can run around military bases and shoot your buddy’s head off. Ah, such innocent fun. Well, one of the modes in the game is “Golden Gun.” In this mode you have to find the Golden Gun and when you shoot your opponent, one shot is all it takes because then the SOB is dead.


Well, they got that concept from this movie. The golden gun in question belongs to Francisco Scaramanga, an international hitman with an island full of gadgets, half-naked women and a midget. Scaramanga uses said golden gun to kill his targets, and he NEVER misses. One shot is all it takes. So, this makes him already one of the coolest f’ing Bond villains ever right? Well it gets better, because the Man with the Golden Gun is played by none other than Christopher fucking Lee. Yeah. Chew on that one.


It’s not a perfect Bond movie, by any stretch of the imagination. It is Roger Moore after all, so expect lots of goofy campy fun. But really you’re watching this movie for Christopher Lee playing the heavy. Can’t get much better than that.


Do yourself a favor and throw this in your Netflix queue. Or if you can’t be bothered, there’s a Bond marathon seemingly every few months… watch it when it comes on.

DVD of the Day: Kick-Ass (2010)


Kick-Ass


With no power, comes no responsibility.


The Stats


The Director:  Matthew Vaughn

The Cast:  Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, Clark Duke, Nicholas Cage
The Release Date: 2010
The Runtime: 117 Minutes


The Plot

Comic book nerd Dave Lizewski wonders why exactly no one ever tried to be a superhero. So he makes a costume, grabs some weapons and becomes Kick-Ass! But when he enters a world filled with gun-toting vigilantes, gangsters and foul-mouthed deadly little girl… he may have bitten off more than he can chew.

The Lowdown

Kick-Ass is the, err, well, kick-ass movie based on the comic book of the same name by Mark Millar & John Romita, Jr. Superman. Batman. Spider-Man. All great characters with great movies dedicated to them. (Granted not all of them are great, but still.) But how many of them actually kick ass? Yeah, if Batman actually existed he’d probably make me shit my pants… but there’s still some unbelievability in the character.


Enter: Dave Lizewski. Lizewski is just a kid, he orders his entire costume and weaponry off the internet and he goes out and kicks ass. Well, really… he gets his ass kicked… a lot. And this is exactly what would happen in real life. Regardless, this film takes everything we love about comics and turns it on its head and shows us: “See how ridiculous this is?” But whatever… it’s a hell of a lot of fun.


Dave’s storyline is an ultimate comic geek’s dream. He becomes a super hero, he fights the bad guy… and he gets [the ridiculously smoking hot] girl. At the end of the day, it’s a pretty simple male-fantasy fulfillment storyline. But screw it, so is James Bond. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that.


The supporting cast is awesome. You come for Kick-Ass… but you stay for Hit Girl. Hit Girl is one of the most bad ass characters to come out of movies in the last twenty years. The best part? She’s a 12 year old girl. And what a mouth on this little broad. Hi-fucking-larious.


And of course, how could we forget about Big Daddy? Big Daddy is what would happen is Batman taken to the absolute extreme. Hell, he even runs around with an underage sidekick. The best part is Nicholas Cage’s acting choices. He plays him like a fucked-up Adam West and the results are brilliant.


Kick-Ass gets released on DVD this Tuesday, August 3. Buy it. Don’t rent it. BUY IT. You’ll thank me.

Review – Inception [2010]

Before I even start on the review for Inception, I just want to say one thing – this film inspired the topic for NEXT WEEK’s Epitome of Randomness #1 – instead of taking up valuable review time talking about how STALE Hollywood has gotten and why people have literally EMBRACED Inception as the saving grace of the 2010 Summer Movie Season, I’m going to save THAT particular topic for next week. But for now, let’s talk Inception.
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Review – Despicable Me [2010]






Now I know what you’re all thinking, “SportsGuy, why the fuck are you reviewing a KIDS movie here on SuperfriendsUniverse.com, “The Epitome of Manliness”? Well, a couple of reasons – first off, because deep down, every single person on planet Earth enjoys a good, intelligent kids movie once-in-a-while (see: Toy Story 3) and if you can’t admit this then you’re just lying to yourself. Finally, it’s my column, so I’ll review whatever the fuck I want – and I’ll be getting Despicable Me out of the way first since this is probably the one you are all LEAST interested in, so I’ll try to make this as short-and-sweet as possible (but feel free to skip ahead to the Inception review if you must…you soulless bastards…kidding!).


Basic Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: The main character, Gru (voiced brilliantly by Steve Carell) is a super-villain extraordinaire who finds himself getting one-upped out of the “super-villain” business (I guess that’s what you would call it, right?) by up-and-coming super-villain Vector (voiced by Jason Segel). So in order to prove that he still has what it takes to hang with the young super-villains of tomorrow, he decides to stage his greatest heist to date – stealing the Moon! However, everything starts going wrong for him when he adopts 3 orphan girls (I will not spoil why this happens as it’s a semi-important plot detail) and they, little by little, start interfering with his super-villain ways, but (as he ponders throughout the rest of the film) it for the better or for the worst?


The Pros: Despite being billed as a kids movie, this is a film that actually, in my opinion, appeals to more than just kids. Why do I think this? Because a lot of the gags in this film would only be understood to teens/adults, as evidenced by MANY of the gags going RIGHT OVER the kids’ heads, and hearing only “mature” laughter during these moments, which I thought was interesting. Also, it’s an entertaining ENOUGH story that it shouldn’t put anyone  below the age of 80 to sleep in the theater. Finally, the performances by many of the cast, especially Steve Carrell, who like I mentioned earlier, pulled off Gru brilliantly, are not to be underestimated. For a kids movie, they (especially Carrell) seemed to put more effort in getting their character across than I have seen in other kids flicks.

The Cons: For a 95-minute running time, the movie did drag at a few points, which shouldn’t happen for a movie that short. Also, I realize that this is a kids movie, so suspension of disbelief is a necessity when viewing these types of films, but some of the stuff being thrown at me I just could not buy. Don’t get me wrong – the movie is smart when it comes to character development in relation to plot, but there were just some scenes (just s few) that I just couldn’t accept. I know that’s just me nitpicking, but that’s only because there could have been a smarter way to write that scene than what was ultimately shown on screen – and you’ll know exactly which scenes I’m talking about when you see them.

Conclusion: Despicable Me is a fun ride that not only kids, but the entire family can enjoy. While the movie drags at certain points, and it may be hard to suspend disbelief with a couple of select scenes, overall it is a smart film with brilliant voice-acting that should not be overlooked. Recommended for all ages.

Final Score: **** (4/5)

P.S. If you have an iPhone or any mobile phone that can receive the Best Buy Movie Mode app, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – sure, all it can do is translate what the minions are saying at the end of the film, but trust me – you get more out of the film that way – a sort of interactive experience to close out the film – plus, a lot of the translations are PRICELESS – and the app is FREE!


DVD of The Day: Stalag 17 (1953)




Stalag 17


There are two people in this barracks who know I didn’t do it. Me and the guy that did do it.


The Stats


The Director:  Billy Wilder

The Cast:  William Holden, Don Taylor, Otto Preminger, Robert Strauss, Harvey Lembeck
The Release Date: 1953
The Runtime: 120 Minutes


The Plot


Stuck in a Nazi prison camp, a band of American prisoners of war are constantly trying to escape.  Somehow, their escape attempts are always discovered, leading everyone to believe there’s an informer in their barracks.


The Lowdown


So far in the DVD of the Day, I’ve provided you with some pretty sweet action movies.  Well, this is not an action movie… or at least not until the last few minutes, anyway.


Let’s face facts.  We’re all men here, right?  Well, as men, it’s genetically encoded in our DNA to love movies about World War II.  And while this film isn’t about the actual fighting of the war, it’s still a pretty bad ass movie.


You’ve got a group of American prisoners, captured and being held by evil Nazi scumbags.  They’re POW’s and they’re always trying to escape.  Except after some of their boys get killed in an escape attempt, it leads the remaining soldiers to question if they’ve got an informer in their midst.  Cue:  William Holden (who some of you may remember from ass-kicking The Wild Bunch.)  Holden’s character, Sefton, is a dude that’s constantly trading prison currency (cigarettes, etc.) to become the prison equivalent of Donald Trump.  Sefton is always looking out for himself, even if it means bribing a Nazi guard or two to get his way.


Naturally, the others don’t like Sefton, and finger him as the snitch.  But is he?  The whole movie is based on Sefton’s fellow inmates trying to kick his ass, all the while Sefton is trying to find the true undercover man.


This whole film is suspenseful, and hell, it’s funny too.  I’d almost consider it a great comedy, if it wasn’t also a great prison escape movie.  If you like movies like The Shawshank Redemption and The Great Escape, you gotta watch Stalag 17.  The performances, the suspense and the comedy make it a must-see movie.

Video – AWESOME New Machete Theatrical Trailer

This is the SECOND (though technically third if you count the Grindhouse one) trailer for Robert Rodriguez’ manly ass movie – Machete, coming this September, starring Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Don Johnson, Steven Seagal and much more! I’m excited for this one and am certainly going opening night.



DVD of the Day: Live and Let Die (1973)




Live and Let Die


A man comes. He travels quickly. He has purpose. He comes over water. He travels with others. He will oppose. He brings violence and destruction.


The Stats:


The Director:  Guy Hamilton
The Cast:  Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto, Jane Seymour, Clifton James, Julius Harris
Release Date: 1973


The Plot


James Bond’s mission:  take down a powerful heroin drug lord with a complex world-wide network, psychics and voodoo at his disposal.


The Lowdown


Unlike previous DVD of the Day entry, Licence to Kill, Live and Let Die is pure and utter campy goofiness.  And you know what?  Ain’t nothing wrong with that.


Each and every Bond, from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, has given their own spin and interpretation on the character.  Roger Moore is no different.  Moore’s take on the character is someone with kind of a dark sense of humor, but ultimately all of the Moore Bond films are a little silly and a little campy.  This being the first of the 7 times he played the character, the camp isn’t quite as over-the-top, but it’s still there.


I mean, come on… the 70s was full of Blaxploitation films like Shaft and Superfly, and for some reason, someone at MGM thought it’d be a good idea to make a Bond Blaxploitation film.  The results are kind of hilarious, with the word “Honky” being tossed around like it was going out of business, a voodoo witch doctor, and James Bond running around Harlem… how could you not love this movie?


Live and Let Die marks the beginning of the Moore era.  A lighter, campier, goofier Bond.  But hey, it’s still James Bond.  You still get cool car chases, explosions, hot women and lots of bad guys getting shot.  At the end of the day, isn’t that all you really need from a Bond movie?

DVD of the Day: The Wild Bunch (1969)





The Wild Bunch

We’re not gonna get rid of anybody! We’re gonna stick together, just like it used to be! When you side with a man, you stay with him! And if you can’t do that, you’re like some animal, you’re finished! *We’re* finished! All of us!



The Stats

The Director:  Sam Peckinpah

The Cast:  William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Edmund O’Brien

Release Date:  1969



The Plot

An aging band of outlaws look for one last big score, but when one of their own gets captured by a corrupt Mexican general, they have to decide what’s more important: money or loyalty.


The Lowdown:

Don’t let the fact that this is an “old” western fool you.  This movie is fucking awesome.  You want violence?  This movie pushed the limits of what you could show in movies.  In 1969, the “R” rating was practically a brand new way of rating movies, and brother, did this film take advantage of it.


Violence.  Hookers. Gun fights. Swearing.  It’s got it all.


If you’re a fan of John Woo movies, you owe it to yourself to watch The Wild Bunch.  Woo was heavily inspired by Sam Peckinpah, and you can tell easily with this film… especially the action sequences.  Peckinpah has a way of shooting violence as if it’s a symphony.  There’s a kind of poetry to blood squirting out of a Mexican’s chest.


Yeah, it’s a western. But it ain’t your daddy’s western.  The Wild Bunch, quite frankly, are a band of degenerate outlaws.  They booze it up, whore it up and shoot it up.  When a big score goes bad, they decide on one final big score.  There’s a catch though when one of their gets captured by General Mapache over a personal vendetta.  The four gunslingers can just take their money and walk away.  But instead, loyalty trumps all.  The shot of these four bad asses marching into town to get their friend back sends chills up your spine.  You just KNOW that some serious shit is about to go down.  And boy does it ever as the Wild Bunch damn near take out half of Mexico.


Hell, this film is worth watching for the last 10 minutes alone.  The gunfight between the Wild Bunch and the Mexican army is one of the most violent and kick ass action sequences ever filmed… especially when you consider that it’s 40 years old at this point.


Watch this movie.