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“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”
a review by Darby O’Gill

I’m going to try and do the best that I can to explain exactly what’s going on in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. It’s based on a graphic novel series by Brian Lee O’Malley, but it’s not a comic about superheroes, it’s more of a romantic/comedy heavily laced with video game pop culture. Take that and add the one of a kind vision of writer/director Edgar Wright and you got pure movie magic. Wright is best known for his mixture of comedy and action in such films as Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz, but Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is more like that of his earlier work on the BBC TV series, Spaced. And much like Spaced, Pilgrim uses a sense of everyday life, but mixes it with creative camera movement and flashy pop culture references, to give the movie a look and feel that can only be described as Edgar Wright at his best.

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is just your average twentysomething slacker, whose garage band has just managed to recruit its first female groupie, and knows that fame and fortune can’t be too far behind. But, life as Scott knows it is about to change forever, when the girl of his dreams rollerblades her way into his life. Some girls come with baggage, but Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) comes with her own League of Evil Exes, and if Scott wants to be with her, he’s going to have to defeat all seven of them. This is where the video game references kind of come into play. It’s more of a parallel really, like that of The Warriors, where the main character’s journey is laid out in the format of levels. And the fights seem to mirror the reality of musicals, but instead of breaking out into song when emotions get to their breaking point, in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World they just breakout into fights. I personally prefer the latter. It’s like Street Fighter meets When Harry Met Sally, with maybe a splash of Clerks. The other thing I really loved was Wright’s use of text in the film. It’s so well integrated into the look and feel of the movie, that it really sticks with you after words. The feeling that you have when you leave the theatre is amazing. I couldn’t tell you the last time a movie got me this fired up after seeing it. Is it going to win an Academy Award? Probably not, but the bottom line here is that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is hands down the best movie of the summer, if not the year! No, really. It could even be my favorite Edgar Wright movie to date. I’ll need to see it a few more times, and I can guarantee that I will, before knowing that for sure. But, one thing I do know for sure is that you have got to go see this movie!

Rating:


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“Jonah Hex”

a review by Darby O’Gill

Well, the race for this year’s Death Coach Award might just be over, because Jonah Hex is one horrible movie. Okay, I’m getting a little ahead of myself, but it needed to be said. It’s no secret that I’m a huge DC Comics fan, and I’m always looking forward to anything related to the DC Universe. So, when I heard Jonah Hex was making his way to the big screen, I was extremely excited! Add to that, the announcement that Josh Brolin would be playing Hex, and there was no way this movie could fail. Boy was I wrong! This thing is so bad; I’m really hoping I’m going to be able to put it in words.


For those of you who’ve never heard of Jonah Hex, and I’m sure that’s most of you, he’s not really a superhero, but more like a legend of the old west. The comics are very much a spaghetti-western, in which Hex is neither good nor bad, but just a bounty hunter that can buy you a drink one moment, than shoot you the next. I guess it all depends on his mood that day. He doesn’t have any superpowers, just a scarred face, and bad attitude. Simple… right? You would think. I guess DC Comics just found their Punisher. Don’t worry, I’ll de-nerd that statement for you. For years, Marvel Comics has been trying to get their character The Punisher to work on the big screen, which shouldn’t be too hard because it’s just a guy in a t-shirt with a bunch of guns. Never the less, three failed movies later, The Punisher still has yet to be properly portrayed in a movie. It’s a guy with guns, and a shirt with a big white skull on it. How hard can it be to make that movie right? Apparently, very. You would think the same of Jonah Hex. It’s a western. What could be so hard about making that work? The only thing that could be tricky is Hex’s disfigured face, which they amazingly got right; so I’m really at a lost here. What is it you ask that doesn’t work? How about a horse equipped with duel gatling guns? Dynamite stick firing crossbows? Having supernatural powers to talk to the dead? A glowing orb of… I don’t know, some kind of gas that doesn’t even exist, and can somehow level a city? Or maybe it’s a weapon that comes with a handy outline of the White House on the aiming scope? Good thing that’s what their aiming at. Megan Fox? Actually, she’s not as big of a problem as you might think. She’s not good, but she’s also nowhere near the biggest problem with this movie. No, the biggest problem here is… well the whole damn thing. You have to realize you’ve got a bad movie on your hands, when Wild Wild West looks like it could be an Oscar contender. Oh man, I haven’t even talked about John Malkovich’s phoned-in performance. And, why is Will Arnett in this movie? I can’t. I’m sorry, but I can’t talk about this movie anymore. Okay, the bottom-line here, is that this is the worst movie of the year. Wow, I could have just said that from the beginning. Oh, wait… I did. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to read a few hundred issues of Jonah Hex, and hope that I can someday repress these horrible images from my head.

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“Iron Man 2”
a review by Darby O’Gill

A lot of things can go wrong, and often do, when making a comic book movie sequel. But gladly none of those things seem to be happening in Iron Man 2. Most comic book movies, namely the 1990’s Batman sequels, tend to find themselves spreading their stories ridiculously thin when adding way too many new characters to a storyline, but director Jon Favreau somehow manages to avoid this pitfall. Not only does Iron Man 2 work, but it also manages to do so while maintaining it’s fast pace, and it’s very well executed sense of storyline. Even with a handful of new characters being introduced, at no point does the audience, or the storyline for that matter, feel bogged-down by a bunch of origin story telling. I think Iron Man 2 should be the text book example of how to tell complex storylines to an audience without spoon feeding them at the same time.

In Iron Man 2, Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., not only finds himself dealing with the U.S. Government wanting the ownership of the Iron Man weapon, but also the fact that the very thing saving his life, could very well be killing him at the same time. If that weren’t enough, the Avenger Initiative has also started to lose their faith in him as a proper hero, and begin to question his future role in the Initiative. Topping it all off, Stark finds himself paying for the sins of his father, and dealing with a new enemy known as Whiplash, masterfully played by Mickey Rourke.

Now I figured with the addition of so many new characters, characters we’ve already met like Pepper Potts, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, would become secondary characters; making way for the new ones. But, I’m glad to say this wasn’t the case. Pepper’s character plays just as big of a role, if not bigger, in this film as she did in the first film. Also Don Cheadle’s replacement of Terrence Howard as Lt. Col. James Rhodes was seamless. I really liked Cheadle’s choice to play Rhodey the exact same way that Howard did. It really made the role more about the character, and less about the actor playing the character, which is not something all actors would choose to do. Scarlett Johansson is well under played as the Black Widow, but in a good way. The movie doesn’t rely on her as new eye candy, but rather uses her as needed for the story, which is a refreshing change of pace for movies like this. Which brings us the show stealing performance of Sam Rockwell; I don’t know what else to say other than… Wow! He really does bring his ‘A’ game to his performance as Stark Industries’ rival competitor, Justin Hammer. You’ll see what I mean when you see it. That guy needs to work more! Last but not least, Robert Downey Jr. continues to effortlessly capture the essence of Tony Stark, a role he was clearly born to play.

Is Iron Man 2 better than Iron Man? It’s hard to say. They’re two completely different movies. In the first Iron Man, there is this nice slow story pace that helps to ground the movie, but in Iron Man 2 you hit the ground running and it just feels right. With most sequels it’s easy to say which one is better, but with this one it’s truly is a continuation of the original movie, and feels like they are one and the same. Yes, I do realize that I just contradicted myself by saying they’re completely different and yet the same movie, but it’s true. I really hope all the other franchises out there are paying attention, because this is how it’s done. I think it’s safe to say that the 2010 season of summer movies is officially upon us, and the bar has been set very high thanks to Iron Man 2.

Rating:



“Kick-Ass”
a review by Darby O’Gill

You don’t need super powers to make a difference, which is exactly what high school student Dave Lizewski finds out when he throws on a pair of tights and decides to fight crime. Well, he gets his ass kicked first, but then realizes that you don’t really need powers to be a superhero. I’m not going to be cliché, and say that Kick-Ass kicks ass, even though it totally does. I’m not even going to say that I’ll kick your ass, if you don’t go see Kick-Ass. Nope, you’re not going to find any of those cheesy play-on-words in this review. Instead, I’m just going to say, you’ve really got to see this movie.

Based on the comic book by the same name, Kick-Ass tells the story of Dave Lizewski, played by Aaron Johnson, a nerdy high school kid that wants to be a superhero. He can’t believe that no one has ever tried it before. But little does Dave know, there is already a father and daughter superhero team is his city. They’re currently in training to take down the city’s biggest crime boss. Big Daddy and Hit-Girl, played by Nicolas Cage and Chloe Moretz, might not have powers either, but they do have a weapons arsenal that could bring the crime in the city to its knees. I’m telling you, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a ten year old girl kill a room full of baddies, and Nicolas Cage do a classic Adam West impersonation. The good news is that you can see both of those wonderful things in Kick-Ass. It’s basically Spider-Man meets Superbad, with a healthy side of Steven Seagal. This movie really does do an amazing job of mixing its genres and giving the audience a ride they’ll never forget. I think the trailers I’ve seen for Kick-Ass have made it look hokier than it actually is, but having seen the movie, I can say that it’s just the way they packaged the clips. When you see the movie, which you should, it’ll have a completely different feel to it. I’m sorry, I know I said I wouldn’t do it, but it’s got to be said… Kick-Ass does in fact, kick ass! This movie is just simply a good time, and much like The Hangover and Superbad, you’re going to want to see it in the theater, because people are definitely going to be talking about this one.

Rating:


“Surrogates”
a review Darby O’Gill

In the near future people no longer leave there homes, instead they jack-in to a surrogate robot that they operate like a car. The really trippy thing is that surrogates also drive cars, so a person can operate a surrogate and a car at the same time. Did I just blow your minds? The movie is based on the 2005 comic book series The Surrogate and takes place in a world of robots, where crime is almost nonexistent, almost. When an unknown device seems to kill not only Surrogates, but also their operators, Detective Greer, played by Bruce Willis, finds himself investigating the first homicide in over a decade. Surrogates, being machines, are stronger and faster than a normal person. They can also be or look like anything. It’s the internet in everyday life. What looks like a hot twenty-eight year old girl, is really a fat fifty-four year old man. It kind of makes you wonder why there isn’t more crime. If anyone could look like anything, why wouldn’t they be robbing banks or something? I’m getting off subject, but it’s a good point. Back to the story at hand; while investigating the murders, Greer’s Surrogate gets destroyed, and Greer is forced to go out into the world without a Surrogate to continue his investigation, and uncovers a much deeper plot against the Surrogates. It’s really cool the way they deal with this part of the story. Willis’ character is just overwhelmed by his senses the first time out on his own. You really realize these people have been locked up in their houses with no real contact with the outside world, and it’s almost like quitting an addiction. At times you really can’t help but notice just how close we could be to that. Every day something else comes out that keeps us in touch with people, but without ever having to see them. It’s kind of scary. Even as I’m writing this, I’m thinking wow this sounds like a great movie, and I would like nothing more than to tell you that this is the case, but sadly it’s not. The problem with Surrogates is that they had a chance to do something new, but instead just seemed to play it safe, and go through the motions. This truly could have been the next Blade Runner, well okay, maybe not. But, it could have been something great. The ideas are there, but everything you see is something you’ve pretty much seen before. It’s a fun movie and well worth seeing, but I just wish they would have taken it to that next level. Would somebody, please give Hollywood their balls back! We’re so close to getting something good here. The one thing I really did like wasn’t in the movie. Elizabeth Banks! I’ve always enjoyed her performances in movies, but I think I’m an even bigger fan of hers now. She was an executive producer on this film, and yet she doesn’t appear in it. As a producer, she could have easily given herself a role in the movie, but she didn’t. The only time most actors produce a project is to guarantee they can be in it, but not Ms. Banks. It says a lot about her character, and I am now a bigger fan because of it.

Rating:
3 Little People


“Lost Boys: Reign of Frogs”
a review by Darby O’Gill

For some reason this is the true sequel to the classic Joel Schumacher film, The Lost Boys. But, why make it a movie when you can just release it as a four issue comic book series instead? I would have to guess that the answer to that question has something to do with the two Coreys.  Seeing how Corey Haim was such a mess during the filming of Lost Boys: The Tribe, they couldn’t use any of his footage in the film at all. So, Lost Boys: Reign of Frogs is the prequel to Lost Boys: The Tribe, but I think it’s the one that should have been filmed.

The story in Lost Boys: Reign of Frogs mostly takes place in 1990, but this is mainly due to being told through flashbacks of what became of the Frog brothers after the first movie. Edgar Frog tells a young protégé his tale at his surfboard shaping shop. Yes, even in this story we have to deal with the bullshit surfer storyline, but it’s easy to block out. Shortly after the events from the The Lost Boys, the Frog brothers become the go to vampire hunters, as more covens popup around the country. They’re even hired by the White House to deal with blood sucking politicians in Washington D.C., but upon their return home are faced with the return of David, the vampire played by Kiefer Sutherland in the first film, who is still looking for Michael and Star. The Frog’s quickly realize that if David is alive they must not have killed the head vampire after all. With this realization the boys team back up with Sam Emerson to kill Santa Carla’s head vampire once and for all. With a nice little twist, that will put the Frog brothers against one another in a future storyline. This story maybe hokey, but is so much better than that of the Lost Boys: The Tribe story, and who knows maybe this is the story we would have gotten had the Haim disaster not happened. We’ll never know.

The artwork in these books, by Joel Gomez, is really quite well done. My only problem with it is that the books where put out by DC Comic’s Wildstorm division, and authorized by Warner Bros., who owns of the original film rights; but Gomez’s drawings didn’t truly resemble the characters from the film. I would have just liked the characters to have been a little bit more familiar. Over all it was a fun read and was definitely a nice palate cleanser to the shitty film I had just sat through. If you did heed my review of Lost Boys: The Tribe, this should help ease the pain.

Rating:

2.5 Little People

“Lost Boys: The Tribe”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Hey, remember that great 80’s movie The Lost Boys? Yeah, well this ain’t it. Actually, it’s the exact opposite. No really, the exact opposite. You know how in the first movie the older brother turns into a vampire? Yeah, well in this one, it’s the younger sister. It doesn’t stop there. Remember how the original film focused on Michael’s slow transformation into a vampire, and Sam’s realization of that fact? Yeah, well in this one, you drink the head vampire’s blood one night, and you’re one of the tribe the next. I just realized, I’m getting a little ahead of myself; let’s just start over.
It’s been 21 years since we last visited Santa Carla, California, but surprisingly their vampire population is still going strong. Only now I guess they’re surfers. I don’t know. I stopped looking for the sense in these kind of movies years ago. There is still one familiar face in Santa Carla, and that would be Corey Feldman’s Edgar Frog, not that he remains untouched by the update. Instead of working at his parents’ comic book shop, Edgar is now a surfboard shaper… Of course, that makes total sense. Having been a comic book nerd that becomes a full-time vampire hunter, why wouldn’t he take up surfing as a hobby? Did anyone even try to write a decent story for this movie? As many of you may already know, Corey Haim was going to be in this movie as well, but on the account of his being a… What’s the word? Disaster? They ultimately ended up cutting his performance out completely. Really, how screwed up do you have to be, to make Corey Feldman look like he’s the one that has his shit together? (We’ll talk more about that in the special features section.) I would go more in depth with the plot, if there was one. Look, I’m all for a good sequel. A good sequel. But the thing that I don’t get, is how so many sequels always seem to get it wrong. I mean half the work is already done for you. The characters and story setups are already in place. All you have to do is come up with an original new place to take them; or in this case, new characters to inhabit an already existing world. It’s really not that hard. But once again, instead of coming up with something new, Hollywood just flips the original story and repackages it, and somehow seems to think we won’t realize what they’ve done. It’s the same movie, you idiots! If I wanted to watch The Lost Boys, I would have rented The Lost Boys! Oh wait, I guess I sort of did. Only this version seems to be a sucky bizarro version of the one I remember. Word of advice; if you do rent The Lost Boys make sure Kiefer Sutherland is in it, and not his half-brother Angus Sutherland. You’ll thank me.

Rating:

1 Little People



DVD Special Features:

  • Lost Boys: The Tribe – Action Junkies

This is just a behind the scenes look at the totally tubular extreme action, dudes! I thought this movie took place in 2008?!

  • Edgar Frog’s Guide to Coming Back Alive

This is an interview with Corey Feldman, in character as Edgar Frog, raspy voice and all. However, he doesn’t really stay in character the whole time, and it also feels like no one ever really asked him to be in character. It seems like they went into Feldman’s trailer to interview him about being in the movie, and this is what they got. I could be wrong, but this is Feldman we’re talking about.

  • Alternate Endings

Yeah, endings plural. They all pretty much have to do with Corey Haim’s inability to perform in the movie, forcing the production to work around him, which is kind of too bad. I sort of liked where they wanted to go with this story arch. But, it’s still no excuse for making a shitty sequel. The alternate endings also deal with Edgar’s brother, Alan Frog, once again being played by Jamison Newlander from the first film. Here’s where you got it wrong, once again Hollywood, this isn’t the end of the sequel! This should be the beginning of the sequel!

Uh, okay.

  • 3 Yeah Whatever Music Videos

That’s not me making fun of them. The groups name is Yeah Whatever, which is perfect, because that’s how I feel about this feature.

I was at least hoping for a commentary that talked about all the drama dealing with the two Coreys during production, but I guess this is the best they could do.

DVD Special Feature Rating:

0.5 Little People



The Official Comic Con App

That’s right, if you have an iPhone, and you’re heading to Comic Con, you’re definitely going to want to head over to the Apple App Store before leaving the house. The app crams an entire convention program’s worth of information into one easy to use app, and includes a countdown clock until the opening of the show (which isn’t going to do anything for you at this point), big news updates from the show, event listings, a list of exhibitors, and even convention center maps, complete with booth locations and points of interest. The best part… It’s FREE! I know! So, what are you waiting for?! Get the App. Get the info. And get your ass to San Diego, or Whale’s Vagina as its better known to the Germans. You know I will. I do love me some Whale’s Vagina this time of year. That’s right, your old pal Darby is heading down Friday night, and will be there all weekend long! So, look for the upcoming Saturday and Sunday coverage here on the Stash. There’s going to be more pictures and video than you can shake a stick at. Also be sure to follow my tweets live from the convention center floor. Now, I must go… It’s time to get my geek on.