Archive for December, 2008

I never can understand some people

December 18, 2008

That said, Rob Zombie? What are you doing?

Zombie making 'Halloween' sequel

What happened to Tyrannosaurus Rex?

Looking over various internet stories, everyone treated this as a real deal. The Variety article has zero mentions, while IMDB still lists it as in pre production with a late August release date. Some people I know would argue otherwise, but that Halloween remake was aight at best. And while I like to think that Rob was indeed "inspired" after recording his new album, he wasn't inspired to create something new? Count me as one of the many disappointed. If there is anything positive to glean from this development, we can keep in mind that The Devil's Rejects was a sequel, and that movie is a stone classic. However, I know this Halloween sequel will not be as good, with a start date of March for rush release by October. I just don't understand people sometimes.

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Silverchair, oh you.

December 16, 2008

While killing time, I will strangely get the urge to comb the internet for complete discographies of bands I either don't like that much, used to like back in the day, or have been told I need to hear. This has lead to time spent with The Police(good singles, ditch the rest), Fleetwood Mac(ditto), DMX and 2Pac(sorry, can't do it). In the realm of bands I used to like but then I went to college, you'll find the embarrassments called Silverchair and Bush. I should be nicer to Bush because even 14 years later Sixteen Stone houses some killer tracks, and "Glycerine", which is still a terrible song. Of course, every subsequent Bush release was a case of diminished returns and bandwagon following. Each record yielded at least a track or two that could be enjoyed, but by Golden State there were no hooks to be found and Bush broke up soon afterward. Suprisingly, Gavin Rossdale has found new success as a solo artist with that terrible dirge they ran in the trailers for that crapball Diane Lane hotel movie. Thanks a lot, The Fray. But Silverchair, jeez. I know some people who swear by this band, but holy hell, some of this shit is just embarressing. The early records sound like Nirvana for dummies while their later era work is the textbook example of overproduced. I can only imagine the number of tracks in protools. "Y'know what this song needs? About three layers of strings and orchestral arrangements around it." Diorama is not for the faint of heart.

Much of Silverchair's recorded output is instantly dated. Frogstomp sounds like a calender from 1995, with its loud soft dynamics and nonsensical lyrics of "Pure Massacre". The rhyme schemes on display are pedestrian and weak. I know the band was in its teens when this record and Freak Show were written, but dumb is dumb. Digging through the work of Silverchair can feel like such a relentless downer that any moment of wit or ingenuity can be overstated. That being said, "Abuse Me" is still a pretty good song. An attack on their critics, it is a rare moment when the band steps out of their comfort zone and delivers a song with restraint and while it closes in the usual screaming Silverchair style, took some detours to get there. For that, I tip my hat.

When Young Modern came out last year, I was surprised that Silverchair still existed anymore. I was even more surprised that lead singer Daniel Johns had decided to ape Coldplay and other Brit-rock contempories along with Fleetwood Mac and sing most of the songs in a high falsetto. Now, Silverchair don't owe me a goddamn thing, but what the fuck is this?


 

Clearly, the heroes of 90's were not meant for the aughts. Scott Weiland is shuffling around somewhere and it is just as sad to listen to. Did you guys hear Chinese Democracy? Probably not, but if you did, ugh right? As unfortunate as Diorama was, Young Modern sounds like the unfortunate case of a band without an identity, scrambling to hang on to anything so as not to be washed away. According to reports from their various shows touring for this album, the new stuff was the name of the game, with very few nods to their past work, or as I like to call it, the reason anyone showed up. Listening to YM for this piece was a pretty tough experience. Every track is a headslapper, a bad idea made true in your ears, and it was all I could do not to just switch it off right there. But I wanted to give an objective report. And the report is that if you've been ignoring Silverchair the past ten years or so, keep up the good work.  

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Aim for the head, but touch my heart.

December 11, 2008

So with zombies, so with anyone, head shots mean they're dead. If you're curious whether a character is dead in a film,  a head shot is pretty much definitive. Imagine all the hand wringing we could have avoided if (spoiler alert) Batman had just shot Harvey Dent in the head. That said, Punisher War Zone adhered closely to this head shot ideology, along with bullets, stabs and punches in all the other "right" places too.


Making a good Punisher movie has always seemed like a no-brainer to me. Extreme violence, monosyllabic leading man, and dark hilarity, used sparingly of course. Garth Ennis has given filmmakers over 100 issues of fantastic source material, much of it cinematic in its own right. 2004's The Punisher borrowed sparingly from Ennis, with nods toward characters from the "Welcome Back, Frank" arc, but not presenting them in any appealing or recognizable way beyond physical characteristics and name recognition. The film also made the giant, egregious error of choosing Florida as its setting, because nothing says darkly dressed vigilante like Miami. Rachel and I caught The Punisher recently on the late night movie, and it was just as bad as I remember with a couple of touches that irked me even more. First, the Punisher's family is massacred in what should be an especially gruesome bit of overkill but instead is largely bloodless and strangely inefficient. Also, while the death of his wife and child is given a good amount of weeping and reflection, the Punisher seems to be less distraught at the loss of the rest of his family. His mom is killed and his first reaction is to do an awesome gun toss to his dad.

"Mom's been shot…lock and load!"

Thomas Jane's Punisher is too pouty and also an alcoholic. Drinking wild turkey with abandon, I'm surprised he was sober long enough to plan any revenge at all. One of the things that Punisher War Zone gets right(as did the Dolph Lundgren film in the 80's) is that the Punisher origin is important but not IMPORTANT. We don't need to see it beyond a couple quick flashbacks and some brief exposition between characters who aren't the Punisher. Case in point, mentioned by Kevin Smith in a podcast I heard this summer, The Dark Knight has zero references to Batman's parents. Kudos and congratulations all around on getting along with telling an actual story about your character.
I find it boring whenever a well established character spends a ton of time dwelling on their origins. With great power comes great responsibility, but let's see Spider-Man fight Doctor Octopus. But I'm getting off track.

From a Punisher movie, what I want is violence, sweet, insane, Holy Shit! violence. Punisher War Zone delivers on this in the first five minutes with a brutal and hilarious massacre of a Mafia dinner. For the sake of the film, the Punisher is a touch more dramatic than he would be in the comic book, cutting the electricity and illuminating the room with a red flair before decaptating the elder Don and twisting his wife's head all the way around. That was the film letting me know that my concerns had been heard and addressed, and that if I waited just a moment, the Punisher was going to slam a chair leg into a dude's eye. And so it came to be.

McCarty read a review that described the film as "85% brutal greatness and 15% forgivable". This is fairly accurate. The subplot involving the Punisher accidently killing an undercover FBI agent was pretty blah, an attempt to humanize the unstoppable killing machine that is the Punisher. The Punisher killing innocents storyline has been mined rather recently in the comics. In the comic book Punisher War Journal, undercover and suffering from psychic brainwashing, the Punisher was forced to strangle a colleagues girlfriend. He's sad about it, doesn't tell the guy, but never considers Not Being The Punisher. Honestly, what else could he do? Go to jail, that's about it. So Punisher War Zone gives us  a few scenes where the Punisher has to exclaim to his gunsupplier that this is it, The Last Job, and he's done. Boo hoo Punisher, go kill some more old mafia people.

This kind of strained moralizing is easy to forgive, since Punisher War Zone makes good on the violence with fantastic scenes like the histerical parkour scene and the sequence in the dead FBI agent's house where the Punisher caves a guys head in with one punch. ONE PUNCH! Cynically, I could see the filmmakers shrugging off the weak aspects of the script saying "They won't mind the scenes with the kid if the Punisher throws this guy off a roof and then jumps on his neck." Filmmakers, you are correct.

Dominic West's performance as Jigsaw is amusingly hammy. Jigsaw isn't anywhere in the vicinity of great villains like Heath Ledger's Joker. West's Jigsaw pales in comparison, just a deformed narcissist with delusions of grandeur. His early scenes present him as an overconfident Mafia dickhole, and post mutiliation he's pretty much the same guy, just ugly. There's maybe two scenes regarding his mutilation, but other than that, he could be any guy who wants to kill the Punisher. His face helps him stick out in the crowd though. West does what he can with the part, and the exaggerated goomba accent helps plenty.

Ray Stevenson looks just like the Punisher. Perfect casting. He has the presence and authority I want and expect from the Punisher. Of course, this means his performance was a little one note. That note is fucking people up, and I approve.

Of course, this will probably be the last Punisher movie in awhile as it made only 4 million opening weekend, ending up in 8th place. Yowch. Who knew putting out such a violent film during the holiday season would yield such small results? Doesn't matter. Punisher War Zone is the Punisher movie I've been waiting for.

This red band trailer has some of the best pull quotes ever.

 

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