JusWondering… Are Orci And Kurtzman Running A Pyramid Scheme?

Devastatoring

Great Pyramid? How about Mediocre instead...

There’s been plenty of chatter on the TripleDoubleU regarding the new Travesty Transformers movie.  I’ve not only made a slight mention here on this site, but I’ve voiced my opinion on Topless Robot’s threads as well.  The big debacle over the films many weaknesses boils down to this question:

Who’s fault is it?

As I’ve detailed above, depending upon the director, crap can transform into dysentary (see: pic above) or crap can screen flair (see: Star Trek).  In Hollywood, screenwriters have little to do with the final film, if anything with the process at all.  Haven’t you ever heard the blonde joke about the wannabe starlet sleeping with the writer?  Steve Martin even made light of this fact in his underrated Bowfinger.

Go-to-writers-du-jour Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are a lot like this candy-dispensing product:

Have a cow... pie, man!
Have a cow… pie, man!

Together, they’ve written the following films:

  • The Island
  • The Legend of Zorro
  • Mission: Impossible III
  • Transformers
  • Star Trek
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

And like that candy dispenser, each one is a jellybean that in retrospect reminds us of bovine dung.

Here’s the breakdown of each attempt at writing:

The Island was a rip-off of three 70’s sci-fi films (Logan’s Run, Parts: The Clonus Horror, and THX-1138), and it was directed by Michael Bay.  It was partly filmed in Detroit, and you can see a painted portrait of Steve Yzerman in the background at one point (plus Scarlett Johanssonthroughout), so to not be a complete hater – this flick is tolerable.  But only for those reasons.  Seriously, catch the older (schlocky) trio of sci-fi “classics” then watch The IslandBay and the Boys borrowed quickly and liberally.

Does anybody remember the Zorro sequel?  *crickets*crickets*

Mission: Impossible IIIwas competent (I still like the first one best).  Although he was kind of douchey when he directed the episode of Jimmy Kimmel he was on, JJ Abrams handled this film well enough.  I still believe the sequence where Tom Cruise chased the “Rabbit’s Foot” through the streets of Shanghai could have been longer, and Philip Seymour Hoffman could have been given more scenes to chew on (plus more Maggie Q).  Mission: Decently Distracted.

Transformers was the second re-teaming of the screenwriters and Bay.  It’s been said that producer Steven Spielberg placed emphasis on the fact that the film was ultimately about a boy and his alien (car).  And after five hours of CGI robot action, the first hour of the first film is still best.  Although, I do like seeing the Detroit landmarks in the final battle, so this film was also okay in my book, despite the lack of common sense and clearly defined action scenes.  Moral of the story: if Bay films in the Motor City, my criticism dwindles.  Moral of another story: Spielberg’s kind of losing his touch, eh?

Star Trek, also directed by JJ, was solid, but not perfect.  The origin story introduced some neat twists and surprises, but Kirk with puffy hands?!  Scotty going through water pipes?!  A tad amateurish (and the fault of the writers, I’d suspect).

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the Third Turd of Bay and the Boys, was rushed to production.  They didn’t get anytime for a rewrite, and it sadly shows.  Sure, Bay might have made a lot of poor decisions (robot crying, robot humping, robot minstrels, robot balls), but the script’s plot made little sense.  (Why would the Prime’s have to sacrifice to hide the Matrix of Leadership instead of killing the Fallen?  Why would they hide it on Earth?  See the Topless Robot link above.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: if JJ Abrams made Transformers, imagine how “cool” it would be.  Then imagine if Michael Bay made Star Trek…  (It’s like that ending speech in A Time to Kill…)

Perhaps Orci and Kurtzman aren’t the worst screenwriters on the planet, but they need to branch out a bit more to tell for sure. 

(FINAL NOTE: JJ worked on the script for Bay’s Armageddon.  It was a fun ride that went on too long and pulled way too hard at the heart strings.  Srsly, how many things could possibly go wrong in trying to get off a space rock?  Apparently, everything.  More importantly: how was Armageddon a film in the Criterion Collection?!)

InASense, Lost… Commercials For Quote-Unquote Religions

I remember being a lad of about 29 years old, and I finally gathered the nerve to ask my mom, “Where do babies come from?”

I often think back to my childhood, and remember Saturday mornings as a kid.  Rolling out of bed from underneath my taped together Garbage Pail Kid posters.  Grabbing a box of Cocoa Krispies and the biggest bowl I could handle.  Turning on the TV without a remote control because we had none.  Zoning out to crappy yet awesome cartoons and the commercials that sold me on Transformers and Star Wars and Centurions and M.A.S.K. with little to no effort.  Then there would come along one of these ads:

Granted, it’s not one of the most heartwarming, but very often, they’d catch me by surprise and effect me on a personal level.  Gee, maybe I should help my neighbor shovel the snow instead of throwing snowballs at them from my fort, I might consider.  What I didn’t realize at the time was that it was a COMMERCIAL FOR A RELIGION!  If I wasn’t born and raised Roaming Recovering Roman Catholic, seeing Jesus H. Christ’s name up there might have been a red alert, but I was, so it didn’t.  (Also, I wasn’t raised in a way that told me we were the only ones that were right, so at least I had that going for me.)

So now this little vid is making it’s way around the web.  I recieved it via a link in an email from frequent idea spurner Dave, and I watched it in similar wonder to the old LSD, er, I mean LDS commercials.  It was beautiful, and in fact made me happy to be alive.  Damn YouTube and their header captions:

I guess what I’m saying is it’s much more effective than this old thang:

In other words, how can so many inches of Tom Cruise can be wrong?  (My guess: 60 of his 67…)

Drunken Recollection… More Or Less Than Jake

Let me begin with this: last night I saw Less Than Jake in concert at St. Andrew’s Hall in Detroit, and I.  Had.  A.  Blast.

It was quite possibly one of the best concerts I’ve been to in a long time, and I’m pretty sure it can be attributed to going with my brother, Scott, and my cousin, Steve, the fact that I’ve been a fan of LTJ since their Losing Streak album came out in 1996, and lots and lots of draft beer.

I swore to try to remember as much of the highlights as possible.  So here I go:

  • We started at the casino.  Scott and Steve had been drinking prior to, and I was playing catch-up (I think Steve was playing mustard).  Scott was recounting how at one concert he was hit in the head with a full water bottle and got knocked out for a bit.  This will play out later.
  • Having only one phone between us, we decided we should make our way to the show so as not to miss LTJ.  We got there in time to see the Flatliners (not the Julia Roberts/Kiefer Sutherland pic).  We were glad not to miss any of the main act, but we wished we could have gambled more.  Especially once I realized they had Star Wars penny slots.  May the force be with the 30-line spin!
  • We laughed at a woman wearing Mom Jeans and her man that looked like Tom Cruise circa The Firm.  Steve would end up befriending them and giving them high fives later, but still…
  • I thought of a pickup line.  Then I thought it might work as a pickup line to ask if the pickup line would work as a pickup line.  I was going to ask one girl but her man came back.  So I turned to another girl who was way too crossed-eyed to be so snotty in my opinion, and I said, “I heard your brother’s the drummer in the band.”  Her response, “If my brother was in the band, I’d be backstage, duh.  But nice try on the pickup line.”  Steve returned from the restroom or a beer run, and he heard the ending.  He thought I asked about the line, but I informed him that I just used it as is.
  • A gaggle of older dudes (my age) started moshing at the back during the second opening act, which was the more more accessible band called the Expendables.  One dude bumped me more than once which caused me to spill beer on Scott’s phone.  I turned to face them and the dude’s friend apologized.  What I said to appease him, I want to put on t-shirts:

Like this but better... not much better, though.
Like this, but better… not much better, though.
  • Also, the dude that made me spill my beer wanted to get punched in the face… he told me so.  I said I would, but he had to punch me too, kinda like a Rocky/Apollo Creed freeze frame kind of thing.  His friend told us to wait until after the concert.  I agreed.
  • Once LTJ started, the mosh pit was incredible.  Being one of the taller guys, I’m usually asked to lift people to body surf, but not as many people were willing to for some reason.  At the end of the regular show, I decided to go.  The bouncer that flipped me over told me I was too big to be doing this.  I agreed.
  • When the encore was in full swing, some of the kids that helped me up before wanted me to do it again.  I told them I was yelled at last time, which only spurned them on more.  So I went up again, and the bouncer repeated the fact that I was too big to be doing this.  If I did it again, I was going to get kicked out.  I didn’t go back by those other kids again.
  • It was about this time that Steve was high-fiving Tom Cruise and Mom Jeans.  Scott had been hit in the head, but by something other than a water bottle.  This little kid appeared out of nowhere as the main floor cleared, and he was picking up who-knows-what off the floor.  I saw the friends of the dude I was supposed to punch, but they lost him.  They informed me that if I saw him, I should swing for his right eye, because his left eye was already bruised.  I agreed.
  • Scott was going to sleep in the car while Steve and I would gamble more.  We parted ways at the garage.  As we were wandering around in the casino, we ran into Scott.  He couldn’t find the car.  It was amazing to stumble across each other because only Scott had a phone.  Lucky!
  • I lost ten bucks in the Star Wars penny slots.  I would have only lost five, but a woman asked me to watch her spot so she could run to the restroom.  I only had thirty cents left, so I threw in another five.  More or Less Than Jake, it was a good night.

In My Brain While Sleeping… Housecleaning Pucks And Hamburger Docs

I had to verify what my subconscious created in this doozy of a dream, because in another one, my subconscious got it completely all wrong.  It works in the second dream because it makes it kinda funny.  But the fact that I knew a certain fact in the first one so matter-of-, um, -factly kinda impresses me (humility is soooo overrated).

DREAM SCENARIO ONE

I was playing hockey.  It wasn’t a professional game, but professionals were there.  (This entire dream happened out of guilt for skipping pick-up hockey last night.  In my defense, two friends were not going… I just hope they had enough people… curse you guilt!)  Anyhattrick, one of the pros approached me at the end and said, “I heard your house could use a good spring cleaning.”  I told him, “Yeah, it could,” and then wondered who he’d been talking to.  That’s when he dropped this deal, “I’d do it.  For five bucks.”  How could I resist?  So I handed him five bucks and made arrangements, not even thinking he could be scamming me for five bucks.  And he showed up!  To clean!  The player in question:

"Pretend the puck is dust, and the stick is a broom... that's how I'm gonna sweep, eh."

"Pretend the puck is dust, and the stick is a broom... that's how I'm gonna sweep, eh."

Martin Brodeur, goalkeeper for the New Jersey Devils.  I didn’t know I knew him, or his position, or that he was Canadian, yet my subconscious did (I’m not 100% on whether I knew he was a Devil, but I want to say he was wearing their color scheme).  In double-checking my brain, some tidbits I learned about him:

  • He’s played for the New Jersey Devils his entire NHL career. (I like franchise guys, and the NHL is full of them.)
  • He’s three shutouts short of breaking Detroit Red Wing Terry Sawchuck’s record of 103 games. (FYI – Sawchuck’s mask was the basis for Jason’s mask in Friday the 13th.)
  • He holds the second place record (behind Patrick Roy) for the most wins, which he’ll inevitably pass provided he stays healthy.
  • He holds the record for the most wins in a regular season (48, in 2006-7).
  • He’s the only NHL goalie to score a game winning goal.

There are many more.  And I might have to add that I could be a fan now.  What?  Don’t look at me like that.  I’m not saying I like him better than my beloved Red Wings… well, maybe Chris Osgood if he doesn’t start picking up.

DREAM SCENARIO TWO

I was eating at a McDonald’s (like I often do?) when a commotion started at the register.  The friends with me initially ignored it, but when the buzz of excitement started spreading, people were rushing to the front counter.  I overheard a girl say, “The stars of Top Gun are here doing a promotion!”  So the group I was with got mixed up in the glee and followed.  I distinctly remember not even thinking Tom Cruise would be there.  I knew it would be Iceman (Val Kilmer) and Goose (Anthony Edwards).  Turned out the rumors were wrong.  Instead of getting this duo:

I could have cropped out the beer, but I enjoyed the beer being there. Existentialism for today.

I could have cropped out the beer, but I enjoyed the beer being there. Existentialism for today.

I got this duo:

Dr. Ross and Dr. Green inda house! (But not on "House.")

Dr. Ross and Dr. Green inda house! (But not on "House.")

 Except they looked like this:

Uh... yeah...

Uh... yeah...

 Of course, everyone was excited to see George Clooney, and under normal circumstances I would have been, too.  But Anthony Edwards?  How often is he out in public?  This was my chance to pitch a script in which he would have the starring role.  The script entitled “Continuum” was based on a dream I once had that featured Anthony Edwards (how meta).  I told it to him while Clooney took orders from dining room patrons, but I figured he was listening to our conversation and would possibly produce/direct the film.  The only catch – the script wasn’t written.  Edwards would be in town for two more days, so I’d have to write it in that time.  That’s when Clooney chimed in, “It could be the greatest script of all time… or the crappiest.”  (I knew he was eavesdropping!)

And that was that.  To sum up: Martin Brodeur cleaned my house for five bucks, and I had two days to write a script for Anthony Edwards to star in.  I have no idea what any of that means.

My Bloody Valentine’s Day Weekend (A Friday The 13th Review)

I’ve finally seen the new Friday the 13th movie, and though my hopes weren’t set that high (well, they were set at least hurdle length off the ground), it sort of disappointed.

The opening sequence showed promise.  It even included a dude singing this song while listening to his iPod.  It showed some of the mechanics of Jason Voorhees tactics, but from there, not much else surprised.  I wasn’t looking for them to reinvent the wheel… just tweak it a bit.

I love the original Dawn of the Dead, but the new one enhances its story.  The same goes for The Hills Have Eyes.  This one falls in with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake – they both could have been worse, but they could have been better.  (Haven’t seen either Halloween or My Bloody Valentine, so no comment.)

I thought Jason was too powerful and menacing without showing any origin for his alleged supernatural abilities.  In the earliest films (2-4), he was vulnerable and clumsy, and in effect made him scarier.  He could be defeated, but no one was doing it.  Starting with Part 6, he was brought back to life and became zombie-like, and that worked for most of the remaining films.  The best in the series is still Freddy Vs. Jason, because it follows all the rules of both series, with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

SPOILERS: What’s with the Tom Cruise lookalike’s unwarranted hostility in the film?  Also, when did Jason ever keep somebody locked up and alive (a problem slightly hinted at in Part 4)?  And how do you show a bug zapper twice and not use it to dispense anybody!  (At least I called the wood chipper…)

Hail, hail, the gangs all GAHHHHHH!

Hail, hail, the gangs all GAHHHHHH!

(via this dude’s site)

So Long, And Don’t Let The Automatic Door Hit You On The Way Out!

Asta La Windows Vista, Baby!

Asta La Windows Vista, Baby!

The hell hole that stole my soul will finally be no more.  Circuit Shitty is set to close it’s remaining 567 stores by the end of March, and it’s website will shut down today.

Why do I have such disdain for the retail store?  Let me count the ways:

  1. I took the job to avenge my sister – I should have known better.  I had recently moved back from L.A. where I worked at a Best Buy.  There, they had taught me that “Circuit City” was the enemy and “working for commission” was evil.  As the DVD market was beginning to grow, I remember us laughing about the ridiculous plan CC had in motion to develop DIVX (more on this in a moment).  My sister, Tammie, had opened store #3604 back home, and she had been complaining about a manager that kept hitting on her/harrassing her.  She refused to take action so I got a job there to make sure it stopped.  It did.  That manager ended up helping me make a lot of money, so he ended up being an all right guy.  Cursed Southern salesmanship!  (NOTE: To be read as “curs-ed”… not “curst”… thanks.)
  2. It elevated my lifestyle.  When I started there in August of ’98, working in the SOHO department (Small Office Home Office), I made something like $700 my first full-commission week.  The next week, I made $1oo more, and the next – $200.  I had worked at a medical center prior to BB, and at BB, I was the Media Department’s Senior (which is a splash above regular).  This money influx was amazing.  There were days I could make my week’s pay that day.  I spent more than I saved.  And it took me a long time to break that habit, as well as another.
  3. It turned me to drinking excessively, amongst other things.  You see it in every movie: Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey, Giovanni Ribisi… they start making money and things *snap* start *snap* happening.  I had so much money I didn’t know what to do.  Couple this with the fact I worked at a nightclub Friday and Saturday nights… well, I didn’t do completely stupid things.  I just drank more than I even do now and partook in inhaling and occasionally ingesting certain types of vegetation…
  4. I had to make the sale.  No.  Matter.  What.  I never outrightly lied.  I may have slightly bent or tip-toed to the edge of what our service plans covered, but as long as I worked there, anyone that came in with a problem was taken care of by me.  Too bad I was only there for a year-and-a-half (too long).
  5. The DIVX Dupe.  For those of you only familiar with the media format, there used to be format with the same name.  The idea was you’d buy a disc for $4.50 and once you played it in your machine, you had access to it for 48 hours, after which you had the option to pay $15 more to permanently unlock it, or could “rent” it again for $3.  It put a DVD player in my house, but it was a dumb idea.  And I was forced to sell this product to every customer.  And since it was in the TV Department, all out wars broke out between SOHO and TV (because of the spiffs).  When it finally folded as a format, all the discs went on sale for a buck or two.  I bought pretty much every one.  They exist in a box in my basement and predicted my eventual DVD purchasing habit (I currently own over 1200).
  6. The CompuServe Rebate Ripoff.  For the first Christmas I worked, people had to save up to buy a home pc.  The cheapest complete system (14″ monitor, tower, printer, and of course – service plan) cost $1585.55 out the door, with something like $50-$100 in rebates.  I killed at selling this package, and it probably made me eighty-some bucks a pop.  The following August I spent backpacking in Europe and upon returning, the well had dried up.  The cheap machine boom was upon us (as was the looming Y2K fiasco), and at the center of the shitstorm laid the CompuServe rebate.  Anyone would get a $400 dollar rebate for signing a 3-year agreement to join the dial-up service at $21.95 per month, so everyone and their kitchen sink were coming in for the “FREE” pc.  Hardly any commission on that, and try to sell service plans I did – to no avail.  Where I had been swimming in cash at the end of ’98, I dove into an empty pool at the end of ’99.  I wouldn’t last many months more because in addition to making peanuts for pay (I was back down to $400 per week – the horror!), the quality of products we sold had also diminished.  This lead me to take a second job overnight at Target which brought me a great group of friends I still associate with to this day, so maybe Circuit City wasn’t that bad after all.

(I feel cleansed like this was some type of confession.  BB CCing you in hell!)

Another one buyts the dust...
Another one BUYts the dust…

Oh, They Only Pick On You Because They’re Jealous – The Tom Cruise Story

Poor Tom Cruise… I think I’m growing a soft spot for the little guy.  Of late, he’s making the talk show circuit to promote his new movie, “Valkyrie,” and every time I’ve caught his interview, something inside me dies.

It’s pitiful, really, how much pandering he seems to have to go through to get back into the public’s good graces.  Back in the day, when he kept his life private – Mega Movie Star.  Since “meeting” Katie Holmes and doing that crazy interview on Oprah – not so much.

(Although I must say this: when I’m 44, if I hook up with a woman 16 years younger than me, I can’t promise I’m not jumping on some couches, too.  Hopefully, she’s hotter than Holmes.)

Watch his appearance on Letterman last night and tell me if it doesn’t feel like the sap just wants to be liked? 

He’s trying too hard, and it reeks of bad parental advice.  Imagine:

Mommy, they’re being mean to me at school.  I don’t think nobody likes me.

To which Mommy (a.k.a. Daddy Hubbard or Uncle Miscavige) replies:

They’re jealous, my boy.  You can’t let them get to you.  Just get back out there and be the best you you can be.  If they pick on you – ignore them.  Better yet… laugh with them.

A lot of good it did me, Mom.  All I have to show for being the best me I can be is an ass-kicking that left me with a head scar and a detached testicle.  Thanks for a lifetime of explaning why my nutsack hangs to my knees, and that no, I did not steal your _____!