XIPHOS AND THE MOST VAUNTED OF ALL MINI REVIEWS #6
I had a couple of days “off” on the 24th and 25th so I decided to watch a few movies. All of these have been covered here before and have been out for awhile but I figured what the hell, why not beat a dead horse some more. These three flicks, X-Men: First Class, Bad Teacher and Conan were all summer releases and even taking that factor into account none of them are all that good. It’s sad how lame movies have become especially summer ones. When I was a kid, we got summer movies like Raiders, Star Wars, Empire, Jaws, Breaking Away and dozens of other big and small movies that were well made and more importantly, fun to watch. Now we get these three dogs or crap like Transformers and dozens of others none of which are all that good or very interesting. Anyway, here are some reviews for your perusal during the slow week between Christmas and New Years.
X-Men: First Class: This wasn’t so much a movie but a string of vignettes loosely stitched together about the founding of the X-Men. James McAvoy plays the younger, hipper, hair sporting, ambulatory version of the spiritual and moral leader of the Children of the Atom, Professor Charles Xavier, the “most powerful telepath” on Earth unless that telepath is named Betty Draper. Michael Fassbender played Erik Lensherr a.k.a “Magneto”, a concentration camp survivor and master of magnetism. These two characters are the yin/yang of the movie. Xavier is the privileged rich American who is cool, calm and collected (with an English accent hiding the Scottish one, none of them making any sense for the character) and Lensherr who is a giant ball of hate and vengeance. After taking a shvitz together and catting about, Xavier and Lensherr become besties in like two minutes. Along the way the two dandies round up the first class of X-Men but not really since they only do one mission together and didn’t attend the Charles Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters. Most of these kids (except for the token black guy adult who of course gets snuffed first) are Red Shirts and we don’t’ know much about them except for Raven Darkholm, a.k.a. Mystique, who grew up with Xavier and is supposed to be the same age but looks a decade and a half younger and the shy genius Hank McCoy, a.k.a Beast. I will note though that compared to the bad guys of the Hellfire Club, the Red Shirt X-Men are like fully realized characters from a Tolstoy novel.
Underwear sporting infiltration specialist Rose Byrne recruits the two “good friends” and their teen gaggle to work for the CIA to stop some stupid plan that made zero sense by Six Degrees of Separation himself Kevin Bacon, the big Kahuna of the Hellfire Club. Diamond Betty Draper and two schmucks, who we know less than nothing about, are along for the ride on the bad guy side.
Look this isn’t a good movie. It has some good parts like the 60’s vibe they gave it but the movie was simultaneously over/under stuffed, the writing sucked, the SPX were horrible, the bad guy’s motives were mind bogglingly stupid. The acting, except for Mystique, Fassbender and sometimes the Haggis eater, was good but the rest either mailed it in or were slats of wood. The biggest problem with the movie though is director Matthew Vaughn. I don’t know why the nerd herd has decided to bust a collective nut over this load since he has the visual eye of a sitcom director. He made one of the worst movies it was my displeasure to watch, Layer Cake, which was a shitty pastiche of a Guy Ritchie English gangster movie. He made Kick Ass which sucked at all times The Hair Piece and The Kid weren’t on screen. With X-Men, Vaughn did more of the same. He made a visually boring movie that was filled with nothing at all and is a pimple on the butt of even a half-ass summer flick or Singer’s X-Men which is the same thing. I really don’t get why people liked this movie, it was mostly a disagreeable exercise of some small style and no real substance.
Bad Teacher: Out of all the movies I watched this was probably the one I got the most entertainment from even though it was slight at best. Cameron Diaz plays fast and badly aging middle school teacher Elizabeth Halsey, a hard drinking pot smoking Oxy taking gold diggerwho doesn’t give a shit about her job. She just got dropped by her latest meal ticket and is looking for another rich guy to pay her bills. Into her life prances substitute teacher and heir to a wrist watch fortune Scott Delacorte played by Justin Timberlake. Delacorte is coming off a bad break up and is a very weird dude so it isn’t a surprise that he fell for the super upbeat and dedicated teacher across the hall from Elizabeth the incredibly annoying Amy Squirrel played by Lucy Punch. Rounding out the leads is gym teacher Russell Gettis played by Jason Segel (who thank Buddha kept his wedding tackle off camera) who’s constantly sniffing around Elizabeth and getting harshly shut down by her mostly for being poor and for being a goony looking motherfucker. The sitcom resolution of the ending really hamstrung this movie, it shouldn’t have ended on an up note with Elizabeth getting the right guy and gaining personal insight/growth plus the bad guy getting her comeuppance.
For me the movie had a couple of chuckles and one laugh out loud moment in it. It also featured one set of spectacular man made feed bags that Diaz spent like five minutes feeling up. If you’ve seen the trailer you’ve seen about 90% of the gags in this flick so if you rent it, get the unrated version which has a couple more jugs in it than the theatrical version. Final call, Bad Teacher is minimally acceptable if you have limited choices.
Conan: Maybe Jarv and Jonah saw a different version of this movie than I did since they gushed over it so hard but the one I saw wasn’t very good and failed as both a Conan movie or as a random barbarian tearing shit up type of movie. Jesus Christ, why is it so hard to adapt something as simple as Conan? Oh I know! I Know! Mr. Kotter!! Mr. Kotter!! It’s because the writers are all a bunch of sissy mamma’s boys that have been in therapy all their lives because of daddy issues. WAH!! Daddy didn’t tell me he loved me enough so I’m going to write every movie with Daddy issues like a punk ass bitch. GET THE FUCK OVER YOURSELVES YOU FUCKING BABIES. Nut up and shut up and and try to find any vestige of manhood inside yourselves and write a CONAN movie like you have descended testicles. As awful as Milius’ version was in adapting Conan, at least he’s got man parts. Then again, Milius isn’t a coked up hipster douchetard with daddy issues and a complete lack of balls. Also you dumb fucks CIMMERIANS DON’T GET WIPED OUT IN CIMMERIA BY HORSE RAIDERS SO YOU CAN EXPLORE YOUR DADDY ISSUES. Read the god damned stories you fucking halfwits. Cimmerians put such a hurt on the most powerful western nation of Hyboria that they RAN AWAY from the Cimmeria. Inside Cimmeria they don’t get destroyed by a squadron of light horse. Jesus Christ you incompetent and most likely illiterate hacks, R.E Howard already wrote the god damned screenplay FOR you, you pussies, you just need to adapt it like you aren’t sporting vaginas and writing an episode of Conan and the City you worthless pussy sock puppets.
Anyway here is the gist of Conan. Some time in the past, some sorcerer of Acheron with the help of a magical mask tried to take over the world. He failed and the mask got broken up and the pieces scattered among barbarian tribes of the world including Conan’s. Which made me wonder why? Why not reduce the mask to dust and not have to worry about somebody trying to reassemble it and use its power. Why would you think the Barbarians would even remember to keep it safe after thousands of years? The mask was a stupid plot device to get Kylar Zim, played by Stephen Lang to wipe out Conan’s village, kill everybody in it including Conan’s Old Man played by a horribly miscast Ron Perlman. The slaughter and the stealing of the mask piece are what make Conan swear vengeance on, at the time, unknown raiders. Once again though I have to ask the writers if you portrayed the raiders as take no prisoners psycho killers, why did they leave Conan alive and unhurt? That was a mighty convenient thing to happen.
Flash forward like 15-20 years and we meet adult Conan played somewhat ably by Jason Momoa. And here in the most frustrating part of 2011 Conan the Barbarian. Momoa made a good Conan and unlike the Milius travesty, they got a lot of what made Conan popular right. He might be a barbarian but he’s cagey and sly and is usually the smartest guy in the room. He is also a force of nature, strong as hell and wonderfully violent and the movie more or less got all that right. It is too bad they chose to give Conan such piss poor motivation (though Zim’s was by far worse) and a made a boring movie. Anyway, enough editorializing back to the story. Conan had been making his living as a thief and pirate and mercenary, always trying to find the shadowy Zim to get his revenge. Eventually he trips over one of Zim’s minions and begins to kill his way up the food chain towards the big man himself. Along the way we learn that Zim doesn’t just want the mask for world domination but to bring back his dead sorceress wife. That’s right boys and girls, Zim’s doing all this for a chick and to give his semi incestuous daughter her Mommy back. Apparently the writers don’t just have Daddy issues they also studied at the The Beard school of horrible family motivation and graduated summa cum laude.
Anyway hot “pure blood” Rachel Nichols gets thrown into the mix and Conan nails her. There are some sword fights which were staged, I guess, efficiently. Momoa scowls a lot and grunts well. There was a decent amount of carnage and lot of juggs flopping free in the breeze but most of movie was just so blah. There wasn’t any sense of adventure or high stakes or much of anything really. The SPX sucked and most of the acting was blasé. In short, the movie wasn’t that good and like I said above, failed miserably as both a sword and sandals movie and a Conan flick. I was quite disappointed by Conan.
Oh yes, one more thing, will fight coordinators please for the love of all that is holy stop using straight western blades that are designed to be used as a hacking and stabbing weapon, like say a broad sword that Conan sports for instance, in the manner of a Japanese Katana which is primarily a slashing blade? I know, I know, it looks cool but broadswords don’t work like that. They are for crushing armor and stabbing vulnerable areas. I have to figure they went with the eastern style because Momoa isn’t that bright. He learned how to whirl a Katana style blade on Stargate Atlantis and couldn’t learn a new way of swordsmanship. Momoa used the same moves from Stargate Atlantis in Conan.