Monday, March 30, 2009

THE ALL-INTERNET TAKEDOWN

Normally, I would drop a movie review into this spot for today. The fact is that I am constantly watching movies and I could conjure a review right now...but I am not feeling it. The Internet is slow this week, and upcoming cinema is even slower. So I figured it is time for an update as to how we are doing in our all-Internet takedown.

It has been a violent, forced birth in some ways. Initially, the Mediasaurs were supposed to be forum mongers. All of the strength was to be harnessed in the forums. However, we had no idea what it takes to build a forum community from scratch. Other successful forums have an "into." People are all there because of a rather narrow collective interest, such as a specific video game or car. The pop culture knowledge that we hive in the forums is deep, but it is also broad. There isn't a singular "Mediasaur product" we are selling. There is no singular focus for people to latch onto easily.

But within all of this diversity, we are meeting all sorts of cool people. Some of them we have known for some time, like Jakob at NERD HURDLES (more on that guy in a bit), and others we are getting to know like Herb West over at MYMAVRA. Then of course, there is my separated siamese twin brother Casson over at the MAKE STUDIO. From across the Atlantic there is CAPTAIN D who has more energy in regards to the Internet takedown than any person I have ever dealt with.

The Internet connections abound, and at times, they force my hand. An example of this would be my resistance to the notion of TWITTER and having to get into the mix because of an impostor trying to bite my game. Calling himself Mediasaurus Rex, this guy had amassed 800 followers on Twitter. You can look him up in Google (he is under my LINKEDIN, BTW). But the bottom line was that from what I could glean by lurking, this individual was an asshat, and I did not want people mistaking him for me. So I had to get in there. Apparently Twitter felt the same and suspended his account. I don't know if he will be back, but if he is, I am sure I will have a follow up to this very article. *edit* He is back.

Most key of all points lately has been the fact that the Mediasaurs need a podcast. Jakob at NERD HURDLES has made that clear to me on more than one occasion. Initially, I was so besieged with the day to day Mediasaur forum postings and Digg trolling that I didn't take him too seriously. But now I have ideas. Furthermore, I have a radio background, so I know the vocal timing drill. I have to hurry up and read my boosted PODCASTING FOR DUMMIES and get on with it. But those HARD CASE CRIME NOVELS are so good. Oh and BTW, I have one of the most interesting authors of that series, Christa Faust , as a friend on the Mediasaurs MYSPACE.

I am still trying to wrap my brain around this whole podcast concept though. And as I flex my sore grey matter in the direction of releasing the Mediasaurus Rex voice via poscast, I have only one spot that I truly respect as ground zero for the style I am going to bite--NERD HURDLES. I really have to hand it to my old friend Jakob for taking all forms of new media and bending them to his will. He has done that again with the podcast. Jakob is a groundbreaking individual. In the early-nineties, I remember that he was making art projects with broken CDs on canvas. He was too progressive. At that time I didn't even have a CD player.

To see first hand what I am talking about, you should check his site and listen to his "From Twilight to Twitter, your letters" podcast. Jakob has fused his humor, his nerd-fact knowledge and the art of podcasting into one very interesting, hilarious meal that drips with dry wit, finger-pointing and navel-gazing. So what is the point of all of this name-dropping and fact-showing? I really feel like we are building something here. There was an incredible amount of force exerted to get this thing moving with a specific vision in mind, but now it seems to be humming along in its own unexpected way. We still troll so you don't have to, but we have also become a cyber-popculture hub for propagating and discussing a wide array of subjects and interests.

And I know that there are many more voices out there that need to be heard in regards to pop-culture, the Internet and personal experience. If you have such a voice, I encourage you not to hesitate but to hit us up here. We will do our best to fit you into our universe.

Bottom line, Mediasaurs.com is a work in progress. And I am beginning to think that it always should and will be.

More of my musings can be found HERE. Furthermore, you can contact me at admin@mediasaurs.com

Friday, March 27, 2009

BABYSITTER WANTED - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW


BABYSITTER WANTED

Classic horror films seem to be a thing of the past. There was a time when a horror movie meant nerve-wracking suspense and a dose of the preternatural. What has happened over time is a palette swap of the transcendent for violence and gore.

When I first saw the trailer for BABYSITTER WANTED, I thought I saw a glimmer of the old-school. I thought I saw a lot of suspense and possibly some sort of spiritual/metaphysical trip. I was excited about the concept. I thought I had found an independent, minimal budget film that would deliver good, classic entertainment. Despite its old-school tease, this film turns out to be just another round of the torture-porn that is all too prevalent.

It is too bad that today's R-Rated horror films sacrifice opportunities for plot and character development in favor of over the top gore. It is beginning to seem that the PG-13 horror films of today deliver a much more cerebral experience than their R-Rated counterparts. Apparently, the R-Rated crowd needs blood, and lots of it.

BABYSITTER WANTED feels like it wants to bring the supernatural, but it clogs up in its own presentation of gore, splatter and torture.

The story is pretty simple, and I am going to spoil a part of it for you because this is a film that hasn't really earned my respect. Sarah Thompson plays Angie, a hardcore Catholic kid who moves to a different town to go to community college. Loose ends abound as she moves in with her sleazy, dope-addled roommate. To top it off, Angie feels that someone is stalking her. The camera-work is heavy-handed, and yes indeed, Angie is being followed by some scarred up man who likes to prank call people and break into houses.

The mystery of the plot is held from the viewer as long as possible, and when it is revealed, the real horror potential is so great that failure doesn't seem possible. But there is a critical failure, and it is coupled with some extremely bad line delivery and shoddy effects.

Angie takes a job babysitting at a farmhouse outside of the city limits. The boy in need of a sitter seems a little odd, and the parents seem a little too nice. Angie is going through the babysitter motions, and then the crank calls begin. As she gets more and more creeped out, Sam, the kid who she is babysitting gets weirder and weirder. When the scarfaced, bald-headed guy breaks into the house and is dispatched in such a way that his priest collar is revealed, the DAMIEN OMEN/ ROSEMARY'S BABY aspect of the film becomes apparent.

It is unfortunate that compared to that in BABYSITTER WANTED, the cornball revelation of demon spawn at the beginning of HELLBOY takes on CITIZEN KANE proportions. It is also unfortunate that Angie has a running dialogue with herself in order to keep the viewer up to speed with what is happening and makes every inept move a person can make in a horror film.

The biggest sin here is that Angie isn't fully realized as a character. In the beginning, Angie moves a bong off of her roommate's coffee table so she can light a votive candle and say a Hail Mary or two. But by the end of the movie, she is dropping f-bombs and acting out levels of vengeance that would make a hardened sinner shudder. What's missing is that Angie never truly has her Catholic moment of revelation in regards to the satanic nature of her situation. It could be argued that she doesn't have the time to because she is too busy witnessing the chopping of human flesh and sidestepping her own slaughter, but it is a missed opportunity.

The end of the film is wide open for a sequel, and the ambiguity that is presented is unforgivable. BABYSITTER WANTED is a gruesome little splatterific film. A solid rewrite with a focus on the religious collapse that is presented could have saved this from becoming the mean-spirited waste of time that it is.

More of my musings can be found HERE. Furthermore, you can contact me at mailto:admin@mediasaurs.comcom

Sunday, March 22, 2009

KILLSHOT - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW



THE WRESTLER has been hailed as the "return of Mickey Rourke." The catchphrase is inaccurate though. Mickey Rourke has been churning out movies like KILLSHOT all along. He has maintained his heavy party schedule while still cranking out crime-thrillers like this for years. KILLSHOT is old-school Mickey Rourke, doing what he was put on this planet to do: menace, shoot things, and operate with a set of rules that do not apply to the rest of humanity. Furthermore, he is fascinating to watch. His granite face is constantly encased in a metaphysical grimace of lifelong regret. Rourke does "life lived long, hard, and not by your rules" well.


Killshot's director is some guy named John Madden. He isn't the football guy; he is the guy responsible for CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN. This is a man who is used to handling lame projects. And in the scheme of things, KILLSHOT is sure to be classified "lame" in the end. But for John Madden, KILLSHOT is a step up.


The film starts with a narration from Rourke about how to step into a situation, assassinate the target, and leave no loose ends. This method of plot delivery is lifted straight from Statham's TRANSPORTER series. There is a code that needs to be followed, and this code gets jacked...hard. Rourke speaks to the viewer in voice-over as a botched job that he was on plays out on the screen. In this botched job, Rourke's character Blackbird shoots his own brother in slow motion. We are left to assume that this happened a little while ago because the next time we see Blackbird, his ponytail is a little bit longer.


Rourke attempts to portray Blackbird as a complex character, but it doesn't always work. Rourke does rugged and stoic well, but he can't adopt an accent to save a film.Speaking a broken English that sounds much more french-Canadian than American Indian, Rourke at times mumbles with an accent, and at times does not. Blackbird takes a call for his cliche just-one-last-job-and-I'm-out-of-the-game hit, and from this point the plot takes shape.


This movie is a Rourke showcase. However, Diane Lane, Thomas Jane, Rosario Dawson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are all in the mix doing their parts as well. Thomas Jane's Wayne and Diane Lane's Carmen are going through one of the cleanest, most efficient divorces ever. Joseph Gordon-Levitt's runt-braggart Richie Nix forces his way into Blackbird's life thereby cementing a crime partnership.


The crime partnership of Blackbird and Nix is impossible. It makes no sense whatsoever. Nix is obviously imbalanced; Blackbird is a cold professional. There is mention of a similarity between Nix and the brother that Blackbird gunned down, but that really isn't enough to get the plot close to believable.


One of Blackbird's TRANSPORTER codes is that no one can see his face. But Nix is the wildcard, and through a series of stupid mishaps, Carmen sees Blackbird's face. Thus begins the second act. Blackbird and Nix are looking for Wayne and Carmen, the FBI is involved, and so are Blackbird's crimelord employers. There is an impossible DNA swap and a showdown. Carmen spends about 15 minutes of screentime in her underwear. It is really unfortunate that Diane Lane has been consigned to aging sexpot status.


I don't need to say anything other than happy ending here. Somehow, we are supposed to forgive the crypto-racist undercarriage of this film and accept it as something wholesome. I say this because the plot finishes in standard Hollywood fashion. Ugliness is never truly explored, just desserts are rewarded, and Rourke does what we know he will do.


Despite the weeping flaws in this film, Mickey Rourke does BADASS like no other. If he never gets an Academy Award, he can do stuff like this for the rest of his life and still be a fascinating character to behold.


More of my musings can be found HERE. Furthermore, you can contact me at mailto:admin@mediasaurs.com

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

SCARFACE>THE WATCHMEN - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW


"You need people like me so you can point your f*cking fingers and say there's the badguy." -Tony Montana/ SCARFACE


The above is a theme that also runs through THE DARK KNIGHT, and it is present front and center in THE WATCHMEN. The difference between SCARFACE and these two newer superhero films is that there are no real lies and deceit in Tony's presentation of self. Everyone knows Tony is a sociopathic drug-dealer, and they feel better about themselves by seeing him self-immolate. The societal implications of the new scapegoats presented in both THE DARK KNIGHT and THE WATCHMEN are offensive and nerve-wrackingly true. The argument has been made in both of these films that the plebeian masses need something to believe in, and a few elites must manufacture a lie to sate them. In the case of Batman, The Dark Knight is made into the sacrificial lamb and takes the sins of Harvey Dent upon him. It is presented that the public can't handle the knowledge that their hero (Mr. Dent) has actually become a murderous lunatic rolling in tandem with the Joker. The public is fed the lie, and the movie ends on a grim yet hopeful note.


There is a similar outcome in the third act of THE WATCHMEN which in ways echoes events in recent American history.


THE WATCHMEN is beautiful to behold. Just about every frame of film has some form of CGI going on. The plot is solid and ripped from the comic series as well as it could be ripped.


The opening scene is the brutal beating and death of a character called The Comedian. As the movie continues, you learn he deserves every crunch to the face. The murder of the Comedian is what jolts the plot machinery forward. Who killed The Comedian and why? The rest of the film plays out like any number of mysteries and ends with someone close to the center as the main culprit. This isn't a spoiler; this is a common genre pattern, and it is so obvious you could see it coming if you were standing on Mars.


The credits then begin, and in a FORREST GUMP fashion, history is re-written to show us how the superheroes figure in history and how they are made obsolete. In some ways THE INCREDIBLES does this better. However, THE INCREDIBLES is about "real" superheroes. THE WATCHMEN are a bunch of human crime-fighters with the exception of Dr. Manhattan. Dr. Manhattan is a scientist who has suffered a science mishap on par with Bruce Banner in the INCREDIBLE HULK. Dr. Manhattan has become a god among men, and his powers are being used by the government to keep world peace. Manhattan spends most of his time without pants on. So prepare to focus on his light blue, glowing penis because it gets a lot of screentime, and it is fascinating. The only character in this film that is truly interesting is the troubled Rorschach who wears a morphing ink-blotch mask and is hot on the trail to solve the mystery of the death of the Comedian.


Through the differing perspectives of the six main characters (the Watchmen) the film asks us to look at our species and wonder what is really wrong with humanity. The violence is over the top, the sex scenes are explicit, and the women tend to dress like CG effects are keeping them in their clothing. This is a complete comic book movie. In addition to all of these over-the-top comic book elements, THE WATCHMEN makes a crippled attempt at allegory. The story being told was more honest when it was delivered by Tony Montana.


More of my musings can be found HERE. Furthermore, you contact me at mailto:admin@mediasaurs.com

Sunday, March 8, 2009

THE PUNISHER'S THIRD STRIKE - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW

*Note: Sometimes a movie poster or pic gets my attention. The above pic is just that. It is the official wallpaper of the laptop, Blackberry and PSP at the moment.*

I swear I have been waiting for them to get the PUNISHER right since the 80s. I remember watching ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT and seeing a preview clip of Dolph Lundgren spraying bullets from some overpowered rifle and thinking that it had been nailed. Years later, I was in a friend's seedy apartment in Canada watching the Lundgren PUNISHER and pondering the ridiculously overwrought "f-you soliloquy" that Louis Gossett Jr. delivers to Lundgren's Frank Castle. The Ludgren PUNISHER sucked. But as I do with many other films, I chalked it up to experience and let it go. I haven't gone back to it since.



Several years ago, there was a PUNISHER reboot. That time around, it starred some nobody named Thomas Jane and John Travolta. I have to be blunt at this point and say that even though Quentin Tarantino shot a needleful of adrenaline into the heart of Travolta's career, Travolta still sucks. Sure, the curse has been lifted, and he is no longer limited to doing talking baby movies, but still, everything he does has a cornball aspect to it. I am hoping that he delivers for THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3, but the truth of the matter is that a Travolta billing in any film is a buzzkill. Digression aside, the Thomas Jane PUNISHER sucked. Travolta wasn't completely to blame for it, but he sure wasn't innocent. There was a scene in that version of the film that showed the balls-out determination of the comic book character also known as Frank Castle. In that particular scene, he goes up against a huge eastern bloc brute, and everything in Castle's apartment gets destroyed. Castle's gun barrel even gets bent in that scene. But I am speaking about a minute of worthwhile footage. And it does not redeem the rest of the film which amounts to more than an hour of nose-hair curling fecal matter.



Enter 2008, the year of pre-production rumors for PUNISHER: WAR ZONE. Ex-stunt woman Lexi Alexander delivered the third swing at bat for the PUNISHER in December. It was hard to muster up any hope for this thing, but I couldn't help it. I posted in the Mediasaurs forums like a maniac everytime something new about the film surfaced. I did come at the project with more curiosity than hope, and that is probably what saved me. I have to say that Ray Stevenson becomes the Punisher. He is as grim and torn as the Frank Castle that I remember from my comic-book drenched childhood. The weaponry in this film is fantastic. The gunfire is beautiful. Castle is vulnerable and takes many rounds to his body armor throughout. Is it good? It beats the hell out of the previous two. But beating the hell out of the previous two is akin to shooting a large, retarded, one-eyed fish in a barrel. PUNISHER: WAR ZONE is a fun kick in the pants, but it isn't a fantastic movie. Dominic West (the WIRE'S McNulty) plays Jigsaw, the antagonist. I love West's work, but he seemed unsure of his footing as this character. All levels of probability in this film are GONE. The murder rate is over the top, and all levels of depravity are present, including cannibalism. Ray Stevenson paves his way with bullets, and there are some cynical twists of fate, particularly towards the end. I swear to you that when he winds up his Punisher war machine, you will be amazed. This Punisher is an ass-kicking machine who clears the room with gunfire, reloads and then executes the survivors. His murder isn't completely heartless though, when he accidentally takes out an undercover Federal agent, Castle goes into a funk. This is a man who has had his family destroyed before his eyes and becomes the physical incarnation of retribution. It is a vision. It is a beautiful sight to behold. Unfortunately, it is compromised. The compromise is that we have seen the bulk of this before. If this is what had been delivered in the 80s, we would have been onto something. It is unfortunate that it has taken 20 years to get a Punisher film almost correct. Unfortunately, vendetta films of this caliber have been cycled through like the spent chambers of a six-shooter. It is also unfortunate that I am willing to accept this sub-par film because they have failed so offensively in the past. PUNISHER: WAR ZONE is not the mediocrity of the past, but it is not a great film either. For this Frank Castle fan it is simply too little too late.



More of my musings can be found HERE. Furthermore, you contact me at mailto:admin@mediasaurs.com

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

MOAR TERMINATOR SALVATION



As it gets closer, I am getting more and more intrigued by this film. The last trailer that hit the web just about had me sold.

Look at this thing and tell me you aren't feeling just slightly amped:
http://movies.yahoo.com/feature/terminator-salvation.html?showVideo=1

And for the record...as far as I can tell, we have the most comprehensive, picture heavy TERMINATOR SALVATION forum on the planet.

It is worth your time to click in and scroll through the goodies we have come up with.

http://mediasaurs.com/FORUM/FORUM/FORUM2/viewtopic.php?p=4419#4419

-Mediasaurus Rex

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

THE (Watchmen) HYPE MACHINE

This is the kind of email I have been receiving of late:OMG TEH WATCHMEN R TEH RULEZ!!!11!!!1!!!11I have had more than one person ask me why I am not doing an all out WATCHMEN blitz on the Mediasaurs site. My answer is usually nebulous, because I am not completely sure why, but I know that it has a lot to do with the hype machine.

For as long as I have been going to movies, there has been the hype machine. It takes different forms, but the sinew is the same. It is a fueled by a lot of money, and it wants to get you into the theater on opening night.

I first realized that the hype machine was flawed was when I was a kid and STAR TREK the motion picture came out. McDonalds was serving STAR TREK HAPPY MEALS and Klingons were speaking their native tongue in the fast food commercials for the place. The movie dropped, a lot of people saw it, and a lot of merchandise was sold. In the end though, the movie sucked.

Over the years it has happened to me again and again. INDEPENDENCE DAY is another example of a hype machine misfire. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT is also guilty. SNAKE EYES by Brian DePalma, John Carpenter's VAMPIRES and GHOSTS OF MARS. ANACONDA is another painful memory. The last time I really let the hype machine get to me was X-MEN 3. The hype machine is maintained by word of mouth and a lot of advertising dollars. Sites like the MEDIASAURS zero in on such things and discuss them ad naseum in their forums. Then the movie-going public is worked into a complete lather by all of the crackling on the Internet and everywhere else they go by the collective positive voices of the fanboys.

And here comes THE WATCHMEN. This is fanboy crack. You can't spend 10 minutes online without hearing about it. It is a Zach Snyder film, and it is based on a pretty solid comic book series. All of the heavies who have already seen it are weighing in saying that this very film is the second coming of Christ. I have been burned before, and I am sitting back on this one. Sometimes I sit back and I am pleasantly surprised. I did that with SPEED RACER, and wow, what a pleasant surprise it was. I am waiting on this WATCHMAN thing until after the fact. I am suffering from PTSD. All of this negative reinforcement has made it so that I can't get into the hype machine.

I have been burned too many times. So many times in fact, that I am not up to the slightest iota of pain on the subject. I stick out my neck slightly from time to time, as I did with THE WRESTLER, but overall, I turtle.

There is another side to it all though. Give me a SNAKES ON A PLANE or a DEATHRACE and I will be front and center. Why? Because those are films that are marketed as crap, and when they work, it is like finding an extra present under the Christmas tree. There is no question that these (and most horror films for that matter) are going to be campy. I go into these films expecting that they aren't taking themselves seriously.

So I am holding my breath on this WATCHMEN thing. I don't necessarily presume it will fail, but I don't want to invest a lot of hope and get burned even a little bit. If it turns out to be fantastic, I will be just as loud praising it as the next guy.

More of my musings can be found HERE. Furthermore, you contact me at admin@mediasaurs.com