Unofficial Trilogy… Weird Reincarnations Edition

Nicole Kidman is the only one getting the look right. Or is she?

Nicole Kidman is the only one getting the look right. Or is she?

No one will ever argue that Hollywood is full of weirdos.  No one would ever argue that it’s chock full of weird ideas, either.  But pseudo-sentimental malarkey in the guise of an ancient religious philosophy?  That’s another story (or three), and it makes up this Unofficial Trilogy.

This is the classic story of Dad dies, Dad comes back as a dog, Dead Dad Dog escapes a dog pound then lives with a homeless woman then flees a testing lab then finds his old family then comes to terms with being a dog then lives the rest of his life on the road on his own.  Really.

Does that snowman in the above picture look like Michael Keaton?  Of course not!  Because George Clooney was originally slated to star in this clunker.  Wannabe rock star dad Keaton misses his son’s hockey game to chase his dream,  and full of guilt, he tries to return home to take his family to their cabin.  In a shocking! twist of fate, he dies trying to make it back.  Blah-blah-blah he returns a year later as a snowman!  The harmonica was magical!  His son’s bully becomes his son’s best friend because neither of them had dads!  Keaton’s character’s band’s name (that’s a lot of s‘s) was “The Jack Frost Band.”  Really.

At least this film set out to be creepy and awkward.  And its ending is ambiguous.  It’s definitely the most intriguing of the three in this Unofficial Trilogy.  That is if you’re into the Dead Husband is Now a Ten Year-Old Child So You Take a Bath Together genre of filmmaking.  Really.

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Unofficial Trilogy… Filmic Comic Book Bookends Edition

(OPENING SIDENOTE: I like the title of this post.)

Today’s Unofficial Trilogy is about the nails in the coffin of comic book film series (or as in one case, a stake in the heart). Spider-Man 3 was saved by a summer reboot, otherwise this would have been an Unofficial Quadrilogy.

Oh, so dark these heroes..

Oh, so dark these heroes… except maybe the last one.

This movie was, um, weird.  It barely featured Wesley Snipes as Blade (was he out of the country evading taxes when this was made?), and the scene where John Michael Higgins interrogates him is laughable.  Gay subtext in a James Bond superhero/vampire  film?  Well I never!

Two words: Brett Ratner (wow, I haven’t bashed on him in a long while).  Two more words: cobbled mess.  Four more words: I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!  Two last words on The Last Stand: whiny Wolverine.

I was really upset with the lack of purpose this one seemed to have.  And critic Chris Gore made a good point about it by stating something like this (I’m poorly paraphrasing):

His parents’ death made Bruce Wayne become Batman, but Rachel Dawes death made him not be Batman?

But then I read this article, and something happened… my opinion kinda sorta changed.  I won’t go into too much detail, but the author basically regards the third film as a contradiction to the second film, and that in turn made me realize TDKR was the answer to the TDK problem that nobody asked.  What I always enjoyed about the first film’s ending was that it agreed with my theory:

If someone figures out how to be a superhero/villain, then someone will figure out how become its opposite.

The Dark Knight answered that question perfectly.  But what question did TDK ask?

Is a lie okay if it’s for the greater good?

TDK was all about bending means to certain ends.  TDKR was about the inevitable collapse of those well-intended lies.  Too bad it just felt shoddy and shitty.

(FYI: The above Batman poster was made by this guy.)

Unofficial Trilogy… That Future Looks A Lot Like Our Present Edition

Call me a sucker for good sci-fi.  Good thing I’m not that big a sucker, though, because good sci-fi is rare.  Rarer still is sci-fi that takes place in the future, yet looks like our present (or near present).  Here’s a nice slideshow of the films in this Unofficial Trilogy:

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This already feels like I’m entering film school snob territory.  This is a French sci-fi noir film starring an ex-patriot American as a secret agent that carries around an Instamatic camera.  Yeah.  The thing like the app.  Back when it was brand new and seemed futuristic.  Anykodak, I remember this film being really cool… so cool it was even referenced in an episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.

I can tell I’ve lost you, so I won’t bring up that Alphaville’s Forever Young was my graduating class song, and I was pissed about that because I never heard of the group or the song, and then when I saw this film in college, it reminded me of how much I hated that song, and then The O.C. re-popularized it with a remake, and the rage returned, and…

When I first viewed this film, I had no expectations.  So my expectations weren’t blown away – my mind was.  I still maintain that this is the Citizen Kane of our time… an under-appreciated classic in every sense that will one day get its due.  It’s a film directed by a Mexican based on a book by a Brit about America now.  At least that’s what I thought when I watched it years ago.  Considering it’s about a world where no one can have children anymore, and Clive Owen has to protect a pregnant woman while wearing flip-flops, I don’t know why I thought that.  I really need to watch this film again.

Ever see Parts: The Clonus Horror The Island?  Well, this isn’t that movie.  But it’s similar, at least in its premise if not its time period.  The idea is simple – there’s a clone race of people who exist solely to provide organs for their original.  Where the similarities end is in the bittersweet acceptance of those fates.  Since The Island was directed by Michael Bay and Never Let Me Go is a British film, guess which one is about the clones fighting for their right to be free individuals and which one is a simple love story between people resigned to dying young?

(SIDENOTE: I just realized this are all technically foreign flicks.  Go figure.)

Unofficial Trilogy… Crappy Comic Book Movies That Were More Satisfying Than The Dark Knight Rises

These are not the brightest, but they are far from the worst.  To go even further, I enjoyed these three crappy comic book movies more than I enjoyed The Dark Knight (*yawn*Returns Rises.  See what you think about my Unofficial Trilogy:

Maybe I should have picked all DC/Vertigo adaptations… Would anyone have noticed?

CONSTANTINE (2005)

Based on the main character from Hellblazer, and released a year after Hellboy, this film at least benefited from a variety of baddies and demons.  All Hellboy faced was a multitude of Sammael’s (the devil squid-dog creature), but I digress.  Constantine was fun because the story was about heaven versus hell, Satan was played to hammy oddness by Peter Stormare, Shia LeBeouf dies (spoiler!), and it followed logic and a plot.  It was crappy because John Constantine was played by Keanu ReevesGavin Rossdale of Bush was in it, and Shia LeBeouf came back as an angel (double spoiler!). The rise of John Constantine felt much more natural than Bruce Wayne’s.

FANTASTIC FOUR (2005)

This was a breezy adaptation of a very old comic book.  To begin, Doctor Doom was nowhere near menacing and maniacal enough.  But they got the relationship stuff right, especially when it came to the pranks between The Thing and Johnny Storm.  Even the shout outs to Yancy Street and the inclusion of Alicia Masters were surprising.  But still… it was cheesy.  But I guess Fantastic Four should be cheesy.  TDKR shouldn’t, but you wouldn’t have known by the ending (which was the only thing I liked incidentally).

GREEN LANTERN (2011)

Greg Berlanti, one of the writers of this film, knows nothing about superheroes.  His TV shows, No Ordinary Family and Eli Stone (he had powers, sort of), were flimsy attempts at showing the extraordinary in the ordinary, and this film was no different.  So why did I like it better than TDKR?  Even though it had purple aliens and power lamps and magic rings and a killer cloud and Blake Lively’s cleavage, it still made more sense than all the loose story threads in The Dark Knight Rises.  Perhaps if The Dark Knight wasn’t so damn good…

Unofficial Trilogy… Wacky Films Of The 80’s Edition

The definition of a wacky film (according to me):

A movie that takes place in the real world, except it’s wacky.

These three fit that bill and ted:

We need more adjectives!

I’ve already brought this movie up quite recently, but I can’t get it out of my head (much like the Red Lectroid in Dr. Lizardo’s head!)… To break it down, Buckeroo Banzai is “a modern-day renaissance man, top neurosurgeon, particle physicist, race car driver, rock star and comic book hero” that starts a dimensional war when he successfully passes through a mountain.  I really can’t tell you more than that.  Well, I can also tell you that the ending credits scene is fantastic.  But that’s truly enough!

Just as with Buckeroo Banzai above, this experiment in genre mixing was a flop.  Director John Carpenter always wanted to film a martial arts flick, and this story about a trucker entering the mystical Chinatown underworld to rescue a kidnapped girl was it.  Is it fantastic?  Debatable.  Is it wacky?  A little China bit.

This might not seem to wacky at first glance, since it’s mostly a time-travel comedy.  But when you get down to the nuts and bolts of it, protagonists Bill and Ted are supposed to write a song that will save the world, only if (!) they can pass their history class.  Enter time machine phone booth (calling Dr. Who) and the rest is, as they say, history.

A third film is supposedly in the works in which Bill and Ted must deal with the fact that even after the last twenty years, they still haven’t written that song!

Unofficial Trilogy… 80’s Movies That Will (Hopefully) Never Get Remade Edition

There was a time when it took some serious chops for a movie to get made.  Studios held all the cards, so they chose on what to gamble.  Here are some cringe-worthy gambles from the 80’s that I’d be shocked to see get remade these days:

These came out of Hollywood when P.C. just meant Pacific Coast…

For those of you unaware of the premise: a rich white guy rents an adult black man to be his son’s friend for a week.  I loved it as a kid, but in hind sight, how did it ever get made?  Who ever tricked Richard Pryor, Jackie Gleason, and director Richard Donner to get involved should get some kind of metal.  But then again, it was the 80’s.  Cocaine was probably somehow involved.

White Actor! C. Thomas Howell plays a student that takes tanning pills to get dark enough skin to appear black.  Your first instinct might be to ask “Huh?” but here’s the answer to why: so he can get a scholarship to Harvard specifically intended for African-American students.  Now you can ask the “Huh?”

This is the tamest of the three, but it’s seemingly the least credible.  How could Jonathan Silverman and Andrew McCarthy lug such a flexible deceased Bernie around all weekend without rigor mortis setting in?

Unofficial Trilogy… Movies You Will Likely Never See

Ahh, the 80's (and early 90's)...

You may already be in luck.  One of these is currently available for viewing on Netflix.  Remember… if you don’t have Netflix, you got Netdix™.  That’s their new slogan.

Anyhulu, on with this Unofficial Trilogy of Movies You Will Likely Never See.

In the 80’s, I  was a Touchstone Pictures junkie.  (They were Disney’s adult-fare division).  Anything they released, I would eventually see on DVD VHS.  Most were enjoyable, some were forgettable, and films like this one are long-lost.  (Click the Touchstone link to see an impressive list of hits.)

Tough Guys is basically about two old (tough) guys that finally get released from prison and “will they or won’t they?” integrate into the modern world.  Imagine if Brooks Hatlen, the old librarian with the bird in Shawshank Redemption, did the opposite of what he did… that’s this movie.

This film is where John Travolta found his beard true love, the exquisite Kelly Preston.  Upon seeing this film again on Netflix (damn there goes the secret), my old-school crush on one of the most beautiful women to ever exist was reignited.

Essentially, the USSR has built a dummy American town that’s styled like the 1950’s.  So they bring in Travolta and Arye Gross (remember him on Ellen?) to build a nightclub and unknowingly teach the spies how to live in the (then) present.  It’s dumb, but it’s fun.

Hollywood Pictures was another off-shoot from Disney, but it was nowhere near as successful as Touchstone.  Nonetheless, I still sought their films out, and this was their third release (Arachnophobia was their first).

This picture was made after Patrick Dempsey learned you could in fact buy love (that was the lesson, right?), but long before he was McDreamy, Dreamy King, or even Dreamy Castle.  And again, here we have my dear, sweet Kelly Preston co-starring.  In a word, this movie is about what the title is.  Not as in a marathon, but as in for your life.