Quick Fix: Multi-media News

Hello fine readers, thanks for coming back for the weekly update! I was going to write on something more… controversial to say the least, but it’s just not coming to me. Maybe I’ll find the words for it next week, but for now it’s on the back-burner. Anyway, that means that we get to talk about the generally less-heavy news in pop culture instead! As most nerds will tell you, San Diego Comic-con just ended and brought with it some major entertainment news. Probably foremost amongst these is the announcement of a Superman vs. Batman movie. Clearly this is DC’s attempt to kickstart a shared universe much like Marvel studios is enjoying now. Of course, this brings with it its own problems… like how Batman could possibly win against Superman… *SPOILER* especially now that he is willing to kill for the greater good. Again, I’m not entirely sure how this is going to get worked out, but it could be potentially monumental if it can all come together.

Next on the agenda are a couple of potential movies that I’ve been following for some time which are looking for support. The first of these is Dredd 2, the proposed sequel to a movie I’ve been gushing about since it came out. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it yet, do so. It’s amazing, and deserves a sequel. The official news is that DVD and Blu-ray sales of the film have been through the roof and fan support is overwhelmingly high. This means that the likelihood of a sequel being made have skyrocketed. Back around December when I saw the box office figures for Dredd I was aghast – I was certain a sequel would never get made, with a status as a cult classic in a decade or two being the film’s best bet for success. However, it’s now looking quite likely that we’ll see a sequel, maybe 50/50. I just hope the same minds are behind it so we won’t get let down!

The other potential film I’ve been following is a Warhammer 40,000 fan film, The Lord Inquisitor. It was announced shortly after the official 40k movie, Ultramarines was released (to tepid reception) and looks like it will blow it out of the water. The movie’s being made by Erasmus Brosdau, one of the designers at Crytek (a video game studio famous for Crysis and originators of the Far Cry series). The only sad thing about The Lord Inquisitor was that it looked like we were going to be waiting a couple years for a 15 minute short… until now anyway. Brosdau is looking for financial backing to get The Lord Inquisitor turned into a full-length CGI animated movie. I first got into 40k 10 years ago and back then I thought the setting would make for an awesome movie. In fact, I can’t believe it took until 2010 before we saw an official 40k movie… unfortunately that movie, Ultramarines, was a pretty bland representation of the universe. If The Lord Inquisitor receives its backing, it should be a faithful version of what makes the 40k universe so awesome. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this goes in the future.

Finally, the biggest piece of pop culture news all week for me is this picture:

YES. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is well underway and I have little doubt that it is going to be amazing. Matt Reeves directing? YES. Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver are back writing? AWESOME. Andy Serkis is back as Caesar? HELL YES. Hell, even the supporting cast looks good with such big names as Gary Oldman and Kerri Russell. I loved Rise of the Planet of the Apes – hopefully this one will be even better!

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Hulk, Genital Mutilation and Iran, Oh My! Some Garbled Commentary

Hey, it’s been a while since I did a non-movie related post so I figured it was about time for a bit of personal commentary. I’ve actually got a few random things to comment on which occurred part-way through the retrospectives series, but I didn’t want to interrupt the series for them. Hopefully you find them interesting.

First of all, during the Final Destination retrospective, I was checking some of the sites which have apparently been driving pageviews here. I’m really popular with German Google for whatever reason. One refferant in particular seemed very strange since it was a file sharing site with no actual link to I Choose to Stand (from here on out, I pronounce IC2S the official abbreviation). However, some of the “most popular” searches on the site caught my eye: check ’em out.

So, umm… yeah. Totally random. The Internet is a dark place. A very funny, dark place.

On a related note, I’ve recently gotten a pageview EXPLOSION. Normally I average 25-50 pageviews per day, but over the last couple days I’ve been suddenly getting 125+ pageviews. I’m not entirely sure why, but I get the feeling it’s because of my Hulk review. The Hulk review has always been my most-viewed post, it has almost 800 views right now, almost double my next most-popular post (and around 100x more views than most of my posts). I think that the cause of this Hulk exposure is because of Google Images. Recently, IC2S has been anywhere from the #1 to the #3 image when searching for “Hulk Movie 2003”. Hardly an uncommon string of words, so that’s very impressive (and unexpected!):

Hmm… maybe I’ll have to do a review of The Incredible Hulk soon… It seems that movie reviews are basically all that’s giving me exposure, so a bit more focus on that area is probably a good idea. I might spam IMDb with some links to my reviews too.

And speaking of IMDb, next thing of note is a really stupid (and therefore hilarious) post I read on the message board for The RuinsCheck it out here for a good laugh. If you didn’t bother to, then I’ll summarize really quickly: in the unrated cut of The Ruins, one of the characters randomly gives her boyfriend a handjob, to which the first poster asked why she’d do that to him without any lubrication. Then the very first commenter launches into a tirade about circumcision, and it all goes downhill from there as people start quoting totally biased sources… if they even quote sources at all, that is. Most of them just said you were a horrible girlfriend if you preferred mutilated male genitals, and that if male circumcision is fine then we might as well circumcise all the women as well. The degree of ignorance and stupidity in the thread made me laugh for a good ten minutes as I read the comments.

In response to all that silliness, I have a few things to say. First, studies have pretty conclusively shown that circumcision is not bad. However, it’s not vastly superior to non-circumcision either. People throwing around a stat that it does such-and-such are ignoring the big picture, because circumcision and non-circumcision both have their benefits and drawbacks. I read a very interesting article about it, I recommend checking it out. Second, people turn it into a human rights issue. “Let the baby decide!” they’ll argue, which, of course, is just a rhetorical flourish. Prior to the message board posting, I had seen anti-circumcision propaganda thrown about on Facebook which said similar things (I have strange friends-of-friends). To this, I say that babies and children are the wards of their parents, and circumcising a baby is far preferable and easier than doing it later when they’re actually going to remember it. Furthermore, there is evidence which points to circumcision helping to reduce HIV rates, and considering that the spread of HIV actually is a human rights issue, I think they cancel each other out at the very least. Third, male circumcision is in no way comparable to female circumcision. There’s a reason why the World Health Organization has officially dubbed the practice as female genital mutilation – it’s rather perverse. Like I have said, circumcision has health benefits beyond its cultural significance, whereas female circumcision largely takes away a woman’s ability to enjoy sex. As far as I’m concerned, that’s just wrong. If someone wants to decry a practice as barbaric, they should focus on female genital mutilation first and foremost.

On a somewhat related note, I don’t exactly support abortion on a moral level (and had some difficulty keeping it out of the “let the baby choose!” argument), but at the same time, as a male I do not believe I should dictate what a woman may do with/to her body. Oddly enough, it seems to me like the majority of anti-circumcision proponents I’ve seen are female… just an observation and might not even be true of the greater population, but I just wanted to throw that out there. Wow, I didn’t expect to write 3 paragraphs on sticking knives near penises and vaginas. I hope that was more comfortable for you than it was for me.

To bring back the happy thoughts, here’s a picture of my dog. Awwwwwww.

Next, I want to advertise a movement I’ve recently joined on Facebook. Yes, the humanitarian effort I’ve aligned myself with is… a call to make a Dredd sequel. Ok, maybe it’s not that important in the grand scheme of things, but if you’ve read by review of the movie, you’ll know that I loved it. In an age where the shoddiest movie can get a sequel if it made somebody rich, a truly deserving effort shouldn’t be left out. I sincerely doubt that the Facebook group will have any effect, but I’m willing to do whatever I can to see Karl Urban and company come back for a Dredd sequel.

Finally, I was originally going to end this post with the previous paragraph, but a friend of mine on Facebook drew me to this article about a war simulation between Iran and Israel. Suffice to say, it was chilling. I really recommend reading it, it is quite frightening in its realism and intensity.

Anyway, that’s it for this post. Be sure to come back soon – I recently saw a movie that I absolutely hated (yes, more than Noobz) and am looking forward to tearing it apart with brutal glee.

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Movie Review: Dredd

When I reviewed Judge Dredd, I promised that a comparison-review would be coming in regards to its successor, 2012’s Dredd. Naturally, with the DVD/Blu-Ray now out, I am delivering on that promise. First off, a bit of background information. I personally had very little interest in the 2000AD universe before seeing the film, and based on the trailer I figured it was going to be a generic action movie. However, about a week before its release, I noticed that Dredd had a staggeringly high rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. This score would dwindle down to about ~75% around the release date, but by then I was sold – I had to see Dredd to get my fill of adrenaline-pumping action.

First off, we’ll focus on just the most important element of an action film, and that is the action itself. In this sense, Dredd delivers from the opening scenes with a blistering car chase which sets the bar for the action and extreme level of violence that is to come. The meat of the film basically revolves around a single set-piece, Die Hard style, as the characters fight their way to the top level of the Peach Tree block. Lamentably, while Dredd came up with this idea first, The Raid: Redemption was released earlier and stole a great deal of thunder for the concept. That said, it certainly is a fantastic set-up for an action film, and works to great effect here.

Dredd punctuates its action sequences with some impressive uses of super slo-mo footage. Normally I dislike slo-mo in action movies because it is either a) gratuitous, b) cliche or c) all of the above (eg, 300 or House of the Dead). Some movies manage to overcome this hurdle because they work the slo-motion sequences into the story (such as Sherlock Holmes), and Dredd is definitely an example of this. In the film, some of the characters take a drug which causes the brain see the world at about 5% its normal speed, and the results are quite striking… especially when the bloodletting begins. Bullets fly and explosions go off in super slo-mo, causing quite the visceral spectacle for the viewer. These sequences also made the 3D used by far the best in any movie I have seen to date.

The integration of spectacle and story are some of the most impressive elements of Dredd actually. The film doesn’t waste time using exposition to set up “Chekhov’s Gun“. Rather, it integrates elements in naturally. For example, foundational world-building is done very quickly at the beginning of the film, but is expanded throughout the run-time: an unobtrusive shot of the sheer, overwhelming scale of the crimes occurring across Megacity 1, Dredd informing his superiors that the bodies in a shootout need pickup to be “recycled”, little snippets about mutation, etc. The script does a great job of pulling us into an incredibly grimdark universe without doing so bluntly (unlike, say, Inception). Anderson’s psychic abilities are another example of this, which we discover ourselves rather than have listed out to us so we know what exactly it is she is capable of. Perhaps my favourite example in the entire film is how we discover that the guns used by the Judges have “special” features… I will say no more, because to ruin the surprise(s) would be an injustice to the script and destroy some truly badass moments.

In terms of characters, Dredd is much stronger than its predecessor. Judge Dredd himself, played by the always-badass Karl Urban, is very true to his character – constantly scowling, morally inflexible and devoted to the law (and no, he doesn’t take his bloody helmet off). Dredd is a force to be reckoned with, an unstoppable embodiment of the law. He is difficult to relate to, but this is part of his character – he is intentionally impenetrable, basically a sci-fi Harry Calahan. While you may not relate to him, you’ll certainly find yourself grinning with glee at the acts of mayhem he produces. I also appreciated that the costume department did not do a literal translation of the comics like they did in the previous film, because the result was pure camp. Instead, they opted for a more practical (and far cooler) costume design which suits his character and the darkness of the universe.

The counter-point to Judge Dredd is the rookie, Judge Anderson. I’ll admit it here and now: I fell in love with Olivia Thirbly’s portrayal of Anderson. Dredd’s the unstoppable badass, but Anderson is the human connection, and Thirbly did a great job of this. Unlike some sidekicks that we could name, Anderson isn’t a burden either – she can keep up with Dredd most of the time, and actually exceeds his abilities in others. Most impressively, this all happens without falling into the usual Hollywood cliches – Anderson is not a love interest (see any boy + girl pairing in an action movie), she is not a man written as a woman (eg, Sarah Connor in Terminator 2) and she is not an aggressive attempt at shoehorning in feminism (eg, The Enforcer). Instead, she is a very natural addition and feels like a real, identifiable character.

Finally, rounding out the important characters is Lena Headey’s sadistic villain, Ma-Ma. The way in which Headey chooses to play her is as a very subdued, but sinister manner. She rarely outwardly displays any signs of aggression, but there is a palpable sense that she would willingly carve up any of the thugs she surrounds herself with should it please her. It might have been interesting to see how a hammier villain would have been in this film, Ma-Ma is certainly a distinct threat to the heroes throughout their ascent to the 200th floor of Peach Trees. One of Ma-Ma’s underlings, Kay, is also given a bit more of a background than you would expect for a common thug, but Dredd, Anderson and Ma-Ma round out the important characters in the story.

While I have given nothing but overwhelming praise for Dredd thus far, I must admit it is far from the best film ever (or even of 2012). However, in a year where many of the biggest films had some major flaws (eg, Prometheus, The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit, etc), Dredd stands as one of the few in which its inner-workings are damn-near flawless. While it’s not exactly lofty or revolutionary, its individual components are greased to perfection, making Dredd a great example of why a well-polished work can be better than a intriguing failed experiment. If nothing else, Dredd harkens you back to 80s-style action films with its sheer amount of violence, badass-ery and one-liners, while marrying itself to modern conventions in the process. It’s truly a tragedy that it under-performed at the box office and will likely not see a sequel, but one can always hope.


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Movie Review: Judge Dredd (1995)

One of my favourite movies of 2012 is the criminally under-performing, modern-cult-classic, Dredd (which I will review as well when I get my Blu-Ray/DVD copy). I honestly didn’t have any interest in the 2000AD universe before I saw Dredd, but the film completely sold me on it (I’m currently eyeing some Block War minis and Dredd/Anderson omnibuses). However, after seeing it I knew I now had to see the original, oft-derided Stallone vehicle, Judge Dredd. Obviously I had heard the fan complaints (“he takes off his helmet? OMGWTF!?!”), but as an extremely casual fan of the universe I will review Judge Dredd with a bit less of a bias. Also, note that there are some spoilers in this review.

First off, despite its lack of authenticity in terms of character and tone, the Judge Dredd Megacity One strikes me as more faithful to the source material than the Dark Knight-esque, reality-grounded city that appears in Dredd. In fact, the first 5 minutes alone are dedicated to establishing the world, which was a great idea. That said, as an adaptation, the movie comes across exceptionally cheesy and tacky. I guess that’s a side-effect of the pre-Nolan era of comic book movies, but the sets and costumes all looks really plastic and are hard to take seriously in any way. The costumes are straight out of the comics, but just don’t make sense… the Judges are supposed to be fighting crime, so they choose to do so with a giant eagle on their shoulder and spandex? It may look cool in a comic, but this just doesn’t traslate well into movies at all.

Another good thing I can say is that Stallone certainly looks the part of the gruff and grizzled Dredd… sure, as soon as he opens his mouth he isn’t exactly convincing, but in terms of physicality, he’s a good fit for the role. Of course, Stallone completely overwhelms the role, supplanting Dredd as a character and replacing him with your typical Stallone action-vehicle, but we’ll get into that soon. As for the other cast members, Armand Assante as Rico was very enjoyable as the hammy villain-type and seemed to be having a blast. Diane Lane was also serviceable as Judge Hershey. Rob Shneider’s Fergee is the one that is derided most though, and rightly so. He is one of the most absolutely useless characters I have ever seen in a movie, and it boggles my mind why they ever chose to include him in the film at all. He literally does nothing, and just serves as an irritating tag-along and mouth-piece… I guess he disables a robot near the end, but it’s not like Dredd couldn’t do that himself (and in much more spectacular fashion too). Shneider alone screws his movie A LOT.

The entire plot just becomes a way to service yet another Stallone actioner, and one of the cheesy 90s ones at that. It feels a lot like Demolition Man, and while a lot of people like that movie (I’m not among them), it’s not even as fun as that movie was. The plot’s pretty typical: Dredd, the upstanding lawbringer, is arrested for murder… and then proceeds to fight this charge with a hell of a lot more murder, resisting arrest, etc. Obviously, this is completely against character and unintentionally turns him into a massive hypocrite. If there were some sort of irony to this it would make more sense, but the film doesn’t suggest that at all. In fact, it serves to glorify the justice system, rather than satirize it like the comics do. The ending, where Dredd drives down the street with his motorcycle to the cheers of the assembled crowd was just too ridiculously/senselessly patriotic to fathom… also why does the base start to blow up at the end? Maybe I wasn’t paying attention, but it seems to me that it literally just self-destructed for no reason.

In all honesty, I’m making it sound like I hated Judge Dredd, but I didn’t really. I’ve seen way worse movies than this within the same week. In fact, it wasn’t bad for the first half of the film (in part because Rob Schneider was sidelined), but it was the second half where I really started to dislike it, and where the negative points I have mentioned creeped in. There were some good lines too, such as:
Fergee: 5 years? No! No! I had no choice! They were killing each other in there!
Judge Dredd: You could have gone out the window.
Fergee: 40 floors? It would have been suicide!
Judge Dredd: Maybe, but it’s legal.
However, these funny bits are juxtaposed with some absolutely abyssmal lines, which are further brought down by horrible delivery, such as:
Judge Dredd: There is a way in. 10 years ago, 2 refugees figured it out, through the city’s incinerator, there’s a flame burst twice a minute, that means they have only 30 seconds to run through before it flames again.
Seriously, who wrote that? Don’t tell me that was actually in the script? Was Stallone even awake when he said that? In any case, guess which half of the movie those 2 bits of script were from. Shouldn’t be too hard.


Bottom-line: Judge Dredd was just a bad movie, even for a casual movie-goer. For a full-blown Judge Dredd fan, it must have been torture. As far as cheesy actioners go, you could probably do worse, but if you’re that easy to please then you probably don’t even read reviews anyway.


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