Aisle of the Damned Episode V: Nick Cage’s Acting vs Bryan’s Brain

Welcome back! In our fantastic fifth episode Kent reviews some netflix movies: Moneyball, Yo-Yo Girl Cop, and Invasion of the Astro-Monster. Bryan and Kent then run down the Razzie nominees for 2011. We play top 5 with our “Top 5 Spielberg Movies NOT Directed by Steven Spielberg. Finally Bryan reviews Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.

Music: The Aquabats – Stuck In A Movie, Mi6 – Jabberjaw

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Kent’s Damned Movie Reviews: 21 Jump Street

A dad's worst nightmare.

Damn it.

I really didn’t want to like this movie. As much as a critic is supposed to come to the table without bias and judge everything on it’s own merit, I am, as every other member of the human race, a supremely biased animal and the fact is I can’t stand Jonah Hill and, as I think I said in my review of Haywire (like I’m going to take the time to accurately quote myself), Channing Tatum has proven in the past to be “a pine two by four with a haircut.”

And while I still am not a Jonah Hill convert (he remains the weakest part of every movie I’ve seen him in), it turns out that all Channing Tatum needed was a comedic role in which he could loose his freak flag and run wild, like a ‘roided-up bull raging in a Home Depot-sized china shop. I may stand by my previous assessment of his dramatic chops, but he is definitely the highlight of the film; a dumbass that skated by on his looks, riddled with insecurity and panicking upon finding that his natural environment doesn’t exist anymore. The biggest laugh of the movie is his, an instant classic scene that takes place while he is tripping the narcotic fantastic. If he is not quoted regularly from this movie by the current generation of 14-30 year-olds almost immediately, I will be gob-smacked.

Now, I loved Stephen J. Cannell as much as the next guy, assuming the next guy grew up in the 80s and watched the hell out of The A-Team, but 21 Jump Street was a pretty goofy idea for a TV show to begin with. The 20-something actors that usually play teenagers on TV playing 20-something cops infiltrating high schools of 20-something looking actors playing high schoolers. So, like a lot of the better TV show adaptations, The film version of 21 Jump Street simply embraces it’s surreal premise to the hilt while simultaneously mocking it relentlessly. Jokes about recycling old crap from years ago abound. Tatum and Hill don’t look at all like high schoolers and this is pointed out on several occasions by nearly all parties involved. It also takes the rather smart idea of making a good chunk of the story about the wish-fulfillment of a high school do-over. Who hasn’t thought about how much better high school would be if you could go back with the knowledge and experience that has followed? So when the officers make the leap, they think they know what to expect, not realizing just how different the high school experience is than just ten years ago. Early on, they try to identify the students by clique and end up utterly bewildered by the increased number of niche cultures now exploding in the student body. Retro-fueled swing kids, hipsters, girls that look like they’re doing half-assed anime cosplay… “I don’t know what the f*** that is.”

Tatum, a former jock that now finds himself on the outs when he tries doing the same stuff that made him cool just seven years ago, has a theory about what happened. “F*** you, Glee.” Right there with you, boss.

And when a scene shows a girl playing a record, yet confused about getting an actual call on her phone instead of getting a text, their confusion seems justified. It’s just the little tweak that the premise needed to make it work.

Add in some inventively comic action scenes that effectively build on themselves in both tension and comedy and a lot of extremely funny secondary characters played by the dependable Ellie Kemper, Ron Riggle and Chris Parnell, and it becomes something I didn’t expect going in; a consistently funny comedy with an abundance of cleverness and crude excess.

It clearly earns it’s R rating with graphic swearing used like punctuation and a bewildering array of sexual references and violence. It seems determined to marry Apatow-isms to a Beverly Hills cop-type formula and for the most part succeeds, seeming to increase it’s laughs the more over-the-top the juxtaposition.

Most importantly, it’s just plain funny.

Damn it.

(Three and a half out out of five stars)

Aisle of the Damned Bonus Episode Z: Z-Pocalypse

A very special episode where Bryan is joined by the gang from GreenBrier Games, the makers of the forthcoming Z-Pocalypse board game. We talk all things zombie. Movies, books, comics, video games, and zombie survival plans. They then take us behind the scenes of the making of their board game, their kickstarter campaign and how even YOU can be in the game!

Kickstarter: Z-Pocalypse

Website: http://www.greenbriergames.com/zPocalypse/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/zpocalypse?ref=ts

Twitter: @GreenBrierGames

 

Aisle of the Damned Flashback: Bryan and Kent’s Talk NBC’s Community

With the return of Community at 8pm on NBC this Thursday night, we felt it would be a good time to revisit one of our earlier podcasts together before Aisle of the Damned. Kent and I discuss the greatness that is Community. We talk best episodes, favorite moments, characters and everything in between. On my former podcast Graphically Speaking (now defunct) it was one of the most listened to episodes. So check it out! And watch Community Thursday night!

 

Kent’s Damned Movie Reviews: John Carter

Battle for the Planet of the Apes

Pretty much every science fiction/fantasy story out there owes a debt to John Carter of Mars. While the book “Princess of Mars” may not be a masterpiece, everything from the Golden Age version of Superman to Star Wars has “borrowed” from the Edgar Rice Burroughs stories that introduced concepts to genre that have become so standard they seem like they’ve always been there. Now that the actual story has been adapted, how does it fair?

The answer is, “Pretty well.”

Like the book that it’s based on, the film is not a masterpiece. Especially against the instant classics in Andrew Stanton’s canon, Finding Nemo and Wall-E. Unfortunately, he hasn’t made the jump to live action in quite as great a fashion as his Pixar-mate Brad Bird with Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. But while it may not reach dizzying heights, the fact is John Carter is a movie that is enjoyable from it’s opening, presenting a red tinted Magic Kingdom, to it’s ending that, frankly, makes more sense than the end of the first book and was a perfectly fine change to make.

(While much has been made of the films adhering to the books, for better or worse, I have not read past the first so I can only say that there were definitely some major changes made. Some to make the film less episodic than the book, which had been published in chapters nearly a hundred years ago, some to, apparently, bring forward elements from the later volumes and some, I would assume, for budgetary reasons. The red martians of the books are “human,” yes, but they are actually supposed to be red and lay eggs. In the movie, they are humans with lots of red body art.)

Perhaps it’s because Stanton is an animation director that most of the best performances in the film are actually given by CGI-rendered green martians. Willem Dafoe is the standout as their Jeddak (leader), Tars Tarkis. The humans fare less well in being able to manage the jumbled mishmash of terms like Thark and Barsoom. Yep, another one of the things Burroughs helped popularize; doling out tons of “exotic” terms and names in his creations. Especially for Carter (and the lesser known Carson of Venus series.) For the most part the filmmakers are nice enough to assume the audience is intelligent and can figure out what these terms mean when presented in context. With few exceptions, they are correct. One would imagine kids will be capable of soaking up the new vocabulary better than adults, the way they did back in the late 70s when they found out about Jedis and Hutts.

Like Star Wars, John Carter is perhaps better thought of as fantasy through a science fiction lens. Despite the odd technology and the otherworldly setting, it would seem like the characters would be just as at home plowing through the pages of a sword and sorcery novel. And it is that pulp sensibility that truly helped me to enjoy John Carter. That sense of science-be-damned adventure and the kitchen sink attitude that makes genre-mashing so fun, yet so hard to get just right. There are cowboys and Indians AND aliens in John Carter. There are sword fights, flying ships, ray guns and romance. There’s a guy hopping around like Superman in the first issue of Action Comics. (Although it takes him a couple of bounds to leap tall buildings.) It’s a lot of balls to juggle in the air.

In many ways, it frustratingly feels like there were two great films in John Carter. A shorter one that streamlined the story and held out on some of the elements not in the first novel or a longer one that expanded on them to give them room to breathe a bit more in Peter Jackson fashion and let us truly become immersed in the alternative history of our neighboring planet. As it is, we get a pretty darn good film.

(Three out of five stars)

Aisle of the Damned Episode IV: Bryan’s Tangent vs. Sanford and Son

Welcome back! In our amazing fourth episode Bryan and Kent delve into their DVD/Blu-Ray reviews: Looney Tunes Platinum Collection 2, The Pink Panther, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Godzilla vs. King Gidora, Take Me Home Tonight, Troll Hunter, and Fanboys. Then they discuss the Iron Sky trailer. Bryan then goes on a random rambling tangent about movie budgets and looking them up on wikipedia while Kent tries to keep sane. We then review theatrical flcks: Woman In Black, Chronicle, and The Artist. Finally we make fun of the Oscars and their nominations. Also stick around for the end for Kent’s special tribute to Sanford and Son.

Music: The Aquabats – Stuck In A Movie, Perfect Thyroid – Sanford and Son

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Aisle of the Damned Episode III – Revenge of the Shit

Welcome back! In our third episode Bryan and Kent start off with our belated thoughts on the major Super Bowl movie trailers: Avengers, G.I. Joe 2, John Carter, and Battleship. Then we delve into our DVD/Blu-Ray reviews of Evil Dead 2, Godzilla Raids Again, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Resident Evil: Afterlife. Then finally our theatrical reviews of Warhorse, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Haywire.

Music: The Aquabats – Stuck In A Movie, Man Or Astro Man?  – King of the Monsters

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