Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

The Hapa Bro-Cast 02/24/2015


So….. My brother and I randomly sat down to try our hand at a podcast!
Sadly, I think I derailed some of the finer points he was trying to make, but oh well, it was fun to make.
Here’s hoping we do it again sometime!

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Just In Case You’re Wondering Where Toshiro Mifune Rests On The Totem Pole Of Badassery.

The clip above comes from the strange, but logical Spaghetti Western and chanbara combination flick, Red Sun.

Directed by Terence Young of England, shot in Spain, and starring a cast made up of stars from the U.S., Japan, and every corner of Europe, Red Sun stands as one of the single most culturally diverse films of it’s time.

I don’t think I have to tell you, it was a product of the bizarre cultural climate of the era known as “The 70’s.”

I have no fucking clue why Sonny Chiba is wearing a velcro suit. Don't bother asking, it was the 70's.

That being said, while the film is hardly one of the best of Charles Bronson or Toshiro Mifune’s career, any movie that feature such legends of MANLY badassery deserves a watch or 2.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for The Challenge, AKA that one movie with a badass Scott Glenn at the height of his powers, and Mifune wearing a ridiculous fucking wig:

Yup, that's exactly the kind of face I'd make if I had a shitty ass wig glued to my head.

In any case, it’s worth noting that the clip above has obviously been edited, in my opinion for the better.

Sadly, Mifune did not in fact toss Charles Bronson around for 2-3 minutes in the actual film, rather he only did so for about 20-30 seconds.

As much as I like Bronson, I think I prefer the “extended” version…

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The Ending Of Poltergeist 2: Out Of Context

Do you remember Poltergeist 2?

I do, but mostly just because it’s the only movie I know that has a listing in it’s credits for a role known as the “Vomit Creature.”

Pictured: Craig T. Nelson's son. The one he doesn't talk about....

That scene, and that scene alone, puts Poltergeist 2 on my “good” list.

Well, for the most part anyway…

I’ve heard it doesn’t have the best reputation among fans of the original, but in my eyes I view it as a (mostly) worthy successor.

At least until the bizarre and painfully rushed climax sequence you see above.

While I’m not exactly what you’d call a fan of the series, the excellent photo chemical effects and puppetry of the Poltergeist movies has always made me regard them as extremely “watchable.”

In many ways, the Poltergeist movies could be classified as horror films, however I’ve always thought of them as little more than particularly intense eye candy films.

Honestly, the plots and characterization in all 3 of them is mostly inconsequential, not to mention copied and pasted from film to film, so at the end of the day it’s the atmosphere and the constant stream of visual gags that make up the majority of the experience.

For people such as myself that are more fascinated by horrific makeup effects and special effects sequences than, well, horrified by them; the Poltergeist movies are almost entirely devoid of scares, but packed to the brim with awesome sights and sounds.

A not so awesome sight: Tom Skerrit and Nancy Allen's crappy 80's hair.

This fact is no more evident in the Poltergeist movies than in the 2nd film, as the plot is probably the weakest in the series overall, not to mention during it’s conclusion, the storytelling takes a MAJOR turn for the ludicrous.

We’re talkin’ magical grandma ludicrous.

At the very end, all subtlety, tact, and reason are thrown out the window and into oncoming traffic in favor special effects of a goofy ass H.R. Giger manufactured special effects spectacle.

No foolin’, that creepy looking ghost with faces on it (that looks more than a little like a log of shit) really was designed by H.R. Giger.

From what I remember seeing in a documentary about the Poltergeist films, and how they have a habit of killing the people who work on them, this visually impressive, but borderline silly climax sequence was likely thrown together due to the fact that the actor who played the villain, Julian Beck; actually passed away before completing his role.

As a result, some of his lines were dubbed, and I’m guessing the monster puppet version of the character was inserted into to the climax scene to fill in for him.

While it’s not really visible in the puppet’s earlier scenes, f you look close, there’s at least one shot of a face on the creature’s torso that is clearly modeled after Beck.

Despite the fact that the goofiness of the ending sequence may have come as a result of an actor’s death or a troubled production, the fact remains that it’s horrendously rushed, sloppily anticlimactic, and embarrassingly melodramatic, in that order.

Seriously man, you could probably count on one hand the number of minutes that pass between the time when the family enters and exits the cave.

That being said, as I ruminated on it, it occurred to me that, not only is the ending of Poltergeist 2 fucking absurd, what with Craig T. Nelson’s random shining spear of Holy justice, as well as “deus ex machina grandma” saving the day, it’s also downright impossible to understand without the proper context.

If anyone here is seeing this clip for the first time, please, write a comment to let the rest of us know what you thought of it.

On that note, I’ll leave you all with a clip of the legendary “Vomit Creature” scene as performed by some guy (that was probably a little person) named Noble Craig:

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And Now, Jim Kelly Kickin’ Some Honky Cop Ass.

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Large Marge Is Scary Lookin’.

Pee Wee’s Big Adventure:

A fun-ass movie, with a kick-ass soundtrack, filled with bizarre, and borderline terrifying characters.

While Large Marge’s stop-motion animated visage was kind of scary to me back in the day, by far the weirdest/creepiest character I can recall is Francis Buxton, the fat/rich-ass man child:

Hide your kids, and hide your wife....

I remember seeing the same actor play pretty much the same character (though dialed down a notch or 2…) in Leprechaun, and I was weirded out by him then too.

Something about his pale complexion and red lips, combined with his doughy and highly malleable facial expressions just makes me…. uncomfortable.

Seriously, I like Tim Burton, I like him a lot, but I’ll never forgive him for having Francis do a scene with his shirt off… In a pool:

Pee Wee Herman: Anti-Fat Body Activist

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And Now, John Candy Making A Mockery Of My People In The Name Of Comedy.

I don’t think I have to tell you that Who’s Harry Crumb was far from John Candy’s best films.

I still like it, but I could totally see it being not everyone’s cup of tea.

Following in the footsteps of Eddie Murphy’s make-up FX infused “multiple character performance” in Coming To America, Harry Crumb’s character incarnations and jokes were largely inconsistent, with a plot that was a little more involved than was necessary.

Oh yeah, and did I mention John Candy’s hair was fuckin’ ridiculous?

It's like they stapled Conan O'Brien's scalp to John Candy's skull...

Without John Candy’s natural charisma, and excellent bit role performances from Jeffrey Jones, that one lady that played Irma in Ghostbusters, and Deebo, (Tommy Lister) the movie most certainly wouldn’t have worked.

That being said, the clip above, as well as the one below, demonstrate Candy’s character of Harry Crumb demonstrating his proficiency in the martial art of “Akido.”

As any Steven Seagal fan should already know, the correct spelling and pronunciation is “Aikido,” and no, it’s not a fighting style that involves backflips or shoe flinging ala Random Task.

Oh well, Hollywood’s proven time and again that racially insensitive/oafish white people are both hilarious and bankable in the eyes of the average movie-goer, and if any movie is guilty of both of these things, it’s Harry Crumb.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, I’m not being critical of the movie, or it’s politics, I’m just an Azn guy that really misses John Candy.

To this day though, I can’t quite decipher all of the subtleties/sense involved in his performance as Deszu…:

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Thoughts On The Dark Knight Rises Trailer

It’s funny, when it comes to movies, I’m actually not that hard to impress.

While I consider myself well-versed in the world of film, at the end of the day all it really takes to peak my interest, is:

A): A decent cast.

B): A decent concept.

and C): The promise of people punching one another at some point in the movie.

In some cases that last one, if represented well enough, is the only excuse I need to see a movie, regardless of how dumb or crappy it is.

I rented the shit-fest that was Unknown purely in the hopes of seeing a handful of Liam Neeson related beat downs.

I saw Fast Five solely for the purpose of seeing Vin Diesel and The Rock (not Dwayne) bro-out and put each other through particle board walls.

Pictured: Either The Rock is about to get suplexed, or Vin Diesel's in the process of getting Speared. I honestly can't tell...

And when it comes to The Dark Knight Rises, as utterly incalculable as the build-up has, and will continue to be for the next 6 months or so, at the end of the day I will see it because it, unlike any other movie in film history; will deliver the long anticipated spectacle of Batman and Bane duking it out on the big screen.

That these 2 titans of comics are to be portrayed by capable actors such as Christian Bale and Tom Hardy respectively, is merely the icing on the cake.

I find this funny. Does that make me less of a man?

Christopher Nolan’s track record when it comes to cinematography and fight choreography suggests that the ensuing bout will be clumsy and edited through a meat grinder, but even so, I’ve been waiting to see this fight brought to life on the silver screen since I was 6 years old; and crappy or not, I will not be denied.

That being said, Batman and Bane grudge match aside, what did I think of the new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises?

Well, to answer your question, I felt it was quite good by most standards, but much too enigmatic and fractured in it’s presentation to pack the same visceral punch that the later trailers for The Dark Knight did.

Here’s a refresher in case you need it:

I’d prefer not to compare the 2, as it’s obvious the people cutting the trailers for these movies came at it from very different tonal and thematic standpoints; but I feel it needs to be said that, to me, The Dark Knight really did have some of the best trailers of all time.

Everything, from the shot selection, to the music cues, to the overall pacing of the trailers for The Dark Knight was absolutely spot on.

What’s more, thanks to the dialogue-heavy nature of the trailers, as well as his untimely death, an absurd amount of buzz was generated for Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker, (*Sigh* “Why So Serious?”) not to mention the overall plot of the film was made crystal clear.

Though it sounds silly in this cynical age of ours, in many ways I feel the catchphrases and buzzwords of The Dark Knight actually served to make it’s advertising campaign both effective and memorable on the whole.

The trailer for The Dark Knight Rises has a lot of neat shots in it, promising quite a few interesting set piece moments, however, perhaps due to the lack of dialogue, many of these shots are difficult to interpret from a purely visual standpoint.

Early on we see the reflection of a man with a cane approaching a shiny dinner platter while Alfred drones on about the Wayne dynasty:

Pictured: I have no fucking clue. Maybe a Ra's Al Ghul flashback?

At some point we see someone stumble onto the set of Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet:

Pictures: Ballrooms + Flower Petals = Hamelt. It's science.

Later, we see a bearded Bruce Wayne wandering around what appears to be the prison equivalent to Discovery Zone:

I know it's probably supposed to be a prison, but honestly, I kind of wanna' play on it...

There’s that French lady from Inception n’shit.

A FOOTBALL FIELD was just DESTROYED! WHY ARE YOU SMILING!?

There’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Pictured: Joseph Gordon "Still Not Sure Where To Put The Hyphen" Levitt.

There’s A SHIT TON of rappeling.

The Dark Knight Rises: A Story of Men On Ropes.

And then we have Anne Hathaway as a mean lady that may or may not be Catwoman.

Seriously, if you take into account the fact that maybe, just maybe, the people viewing this trailer haven’t been blogging about every step of the script writing process, or staring at leaked production photos for the past several months, (oddly enough, not me!) then this trailer basically offers no hint as to her role being that of Selina Kyle.

Oh wait excuse me, she’s wearing a mask at a masquerade ball that, if you look really hard, has cat ears:

Direct quote: "WHOOOOOOOO!!!!!!"

Sarcasm deployed, mystery solved.

Much like Aaron Eckhart’s Two-Face, unless you’ve been following the production or are familiar with the Batman universe, chances are you’d never know Anne Hathaway was supposed to be Catwoman in this trailer.

Indeed, I’m curious to know what this trailer meant to people who aren’t familiar with Batman outside of the movies.

In many ways, when I watch this trailer, I feel my perception is skewed by the fact that I already have an attachment to and understanding of many of the characters based on their comic book equivalent.

When I think “Bane,” I already have an image in mind of what I expect from him.

When I hear Tom Hardy speaking through his mask I say to myself:

"I can see how people could find that hard to understand, but goddamnit that sounds like Bane!"

When I see scenes from the trailer like the prison break, I think to myself:

"Nice. That looks straight out of Knightfall!"

To the average Batman virgin however, I’d imagine imagery such as this would be provocative, but purely in a “oh, so that’s gonna’ happen at some point” kind of way.

Hell, I’m willing to bet the average Bat Virgin doesn’t have the slightest clue as to who or what Bane even is.

What I think I’m trying to say, is that the style of editing and presentation of this trailer is enticing, as anything with a budget and pretty pictures can manage to be, but at the same time I feel frustrated by the numerous vagaries it throws in my lap.

As you can probably tell, I’m not a fan of the J.J. Abrams-style marketing.

It’s not that I prefer my trailers to spell their plots and structure out to me, I simply value coherence and context over sound cues and pretty pictures.

Much like all of Christopher Nolan’s blockbusters, The Dark Knight Rises appears to be an audio-visual powerhouse, though in some ways it appears a little less so at this point.

The set pieces looks suitably big, but the color palette appears more gray-ish and natural than The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, and curiously enough, despite it being an almost comical trademark of his, there’s not a single (gorgeous) overhead shot of a cityscape.

Instead he decided to pull a 180 and do an INVERTED overhead shot for the poster!

That last part troubles me, as I’m a big fan of Nolan’s wide open establishing shots, particularly in outdoor scenes, and though it may just be the editor’s doing; there are none to be found in this trailer.

Perhaps the strangest thing though, at least to me, is the fact that they re-used the mood building drone AKA The Joker’s theme from The Dark Knight in this trailer.

I always thought of that particular piece of music as “belonging” to The Joker, which made it somewhat puzzling to hear played over a trailer for a film that, almost certainly; won’t feature him.

Despite everything I’ve said about this trailer, both good and bad, at the end of the day it’s a very good piece of advertising for a sequel that, unfortunately, benefitted from some of the best advertising and pre-release buzz in recent memory.

Not only that, it’s only the first trailer, for a huge movie that isn’t dropping until late in the summer.

As good as the advertising for The Dark Knight was from the get go, the 2nd trailers for it, Iron Man, and Inception were all MONUMENTALLY better than the first, which leads me to believe the same will likely be the case with The Dark Knight Rises.

In addition to this, one also has to consider the fact that virtually all of Christopher Nolan’s blockbusters up to this point, while heavily advertised, also did well to avoid showing a great deal of the major story beats and action set pieces.

I mean hell, neither the teaser nor the trailer saw any mention of Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox, nor any of stuff from the prologue sequence that made the rounds through theaters last week.

I don’t know about you, but up until it’s release I really thought the “truck flip” from The Dark Knight trailer was going to be the climax of the movie.

Instead, the entire skyscraper based finale of the movie ended up playing that role, while never once being hinted at in the trailers.

I guess what I’m trying to say, is that though I may seem overly critical, in truth I’m just a fanboy hoping for the best.

In the meantime though, as weird as it seems, I think I actually liked the almost universally panned teaser for The Dark Knight Rises somewhat better than the trailer.

True, most of the footage was borrowed from Batman Begins.

True, Commissioner Gordon’s dialogue was hard to understand.

True, virtually nothing Commissioner Gordon had to say was even worth hearing in the first place.

BUT, at the very end of the teaser, there is a single, barely 2 second shot that made it all worth it:

Pictured: All I needed to see.

Batman in the rain, taking a deep breath, while Bane slowly approaches from the foreground.

The whole thing was crap up until then, but that last shot instantly sold me.

The trailer, while bigger and much more coherent, didn’t have this shot or even a suitable equivalent.

True, it featured a few shots of Batman and Bane throwing down in the snow, however I felt the subtlety and dramatic implication of the teaser shot did more to appease the fanboy in me than the entirety of the full trailer.

That’s just me though.

Do I ever need a reason to post this? Didn't think so...

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There’s Never Room For Pie…

So… Remember that whole “fuck you, I went to Portland” post from awhile back?

I might not have explicitly made mention of it, but I spent my time down there helping out Sean Parker and Austin Hillebrecht on a Thanksgiving video for Hapstance Films.

The finished product is that which you see at the top of this post.

Helping out on this short was buckets of fun, at least for me.

I’ve never been in a room with nearly 30 actors before, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little intimidated by the whole experience.

It was a helluva’ fun getting to see people take on their characters wholeheartedly, staying in character between takes.

At the same time, it was a little unsettling being cast as the universally hated character of “Broccoli,” as on occasion it was difficult to discern between the real and faux expressions of revulsion everyone was throwing my way.

Even so, I had a shit ton of fun and I met a lot of really nice and interesting people, many of which I’d like to keep in touch with.

I think one of the better experiences I had at the filming, was getting to sit down and chat with Austin Hillebrecht and Dennis Fitzpatrick.

It’s kind of silly, given the super-indie nature of the film, but having previously watched and reviewed the 2 of these actors performances in Coup De Cinema made meeting them in person kind of surreal.

I think shooting the shit with them and chatting about horror movies was probably the perfect way to end the evening after all the “organized chaos” that preceded it.

Anyway, awhile back I thought to myself about the prospect of maybe moving down to Portland semi-permanently.

Though I honestly wasn’t particularly happy with my performance in the video, (everyone else did great) I had so much fun that I know in my heart that it’s something I’d like to keep doing.

That being said, though I thought I’d given up on the idea, working on this latest Hapstance short got me thinking about Portland again.

Time will tell where the next curve in the road takes the Azn Badger…

 

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*Ahem!* It’s Water Time.

The clip above is a short video that a friend of mine put together to launch his new website/film troupe, Hapstance Films.

In case you’re wondering, said friend happens to be Sean Parker, who along with Austin Hillebrecht, was responsible for directing/writing/shooting/everything in between the movie Coup De Cinema.

My review for Coup can be found here.

Anyway, I’m bored, tired, and have a stack of movies I’ve been trying to watch for weeks now, so tonight I figured I’d be a whore and give a friend some free publicity.

That being said, given the talent exhibited by everyone behind it, I think it’s more than likely Hapstance Films will go on to have a long and productive life cycle.

Hopefully they’ll crank out lots of good shit sooner rather than later though.

‘Cause otherwise I’ll have to, y’know, write full-length articles n’shit…

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The Avengers Trailer Looks Like They Need To Fix It In Post.

It’s funny, as the release date for The Avengers slowly draws nearer, I’m starting to realize more and more the fact that there’s very little chance of it being shitty.

I have a great deal of love for Marvel comics, so just getting a chance to see the characters of that universe being brought to life in 200 million dollar budgeted films is enough to make me happy.

It doesn’t matter so much if the acting is great, or the plot deeply layered, as long I get to see the spirit and energy of the characters brought to life, there’s very little chance I’ll walk away from an Avengers movie wanting my money back.

Then again, I would’ve said the same about Transformers, that is, until Michael Bay dumped ass all over my childhood and raped my wallet…

TWICE.

"I swear I will not kill anyone... But I WILL shit on all of your childhood heroes."

That being said, while it’s a bit difficult to determine exactly what the plot of the movie is based on the trailer, (as should be the case, given that it’s only the first theatrical trailer) in many ways I applaud the marketing folks over at Marvel/Disney for cramming in screen time for virtually all of the heavy hitters that have been confirmed to be appearing in the film.

Tom Hiddleston’s Loki appears to be the central villain of the film, though based on the uncertain events at the conclusion of Captain America, in my mind it’s entirely possible that Red Skull could have a hand in things as well.

My bet is, he does.

Given the Hulk’s unstable nature, as well as the plot of the first Avengers comic, I’m guessing he’s going to end up being manipulated by Loki at some point; resulting in a heel/face turn at some point in the film.

I don't think I'm alone in saying I'd like to see a bit of THIS somewhere in there though.

Speaking of the Hulk, his reveal at the end of the trailer was well utilized, as he’s the one confirmed Avenger we really haven’t seen up to this point.

Despite no shortage of explosions and FX shots though, I can’t help but feel that this first trailer was cut from footage of a yet unfinished product.

At least I hope that’s the case.

There are numerous shots that feel very “static,” lacking in energy and purpose to a degree that they feel almost amateurish.

Seriously man, count how many shots there are of single characters, standing in boring and vacant locations.

"DURRR!!! I'M THE BLACK WIDOW AND I JUST FARTED A BUS EXPLOSION! DURRR!!!"

Chances are you’ll run out of fingers and toes on that one.

At the same time, many of the FX shots, particularly some of the exploding cars, look to me as if they are meant to be templates for CGI compositing.

It’s rare to see explosions in Hollywood films these days where the detonation source and materials seem plainly visible, and as such; I wouldn’t be surprised if the aforementioned exploding car shots are awaiting some sort of energy beam effects to cover all that up.

It’s funny, as I write this nitpicky article, I can’t help but be reminded of the early trailers for Iron Man.

I remember seeing the early TV spots for Iron Man, and being largely unimpressed.

I don’t know if you recall, but the pacing of these commercials was very weak, and some of the effects shots were not quite finished, resulting in advertisements that didn’t at all reflect the awesomeness of the final product.

Compare this early TV spot:

To the later released full trailer here:

Not only is the composition better, the special effects, particularly in the “tank shot” sequence, are rendered with more detail and smoother animation.

When you’re dealing with effects heavy films like this, it’s entirely possible that the computer effects crew will end up working on the project up until the release date.

While I could be wrong, I’m really hoping this is the case with The Avengers, as while it looks totally acceptable at this point, it doesn’t look at all exceptional.

What else can I say about this?:

Captain America’s costume looks a little bit too stretchy and “pajama-y” for me to give it a thumbs up.

Am I wrong in thinking it looks kind of like the live-action Kick-Ass costume?

Hank Pym should get a nod or a cameo, as I’d love to see The Vision or Ultron show up in a movie someday.

Kudos to the marketing department for excluding any and all shots of the Avengers working together or “assembling,” as that’s one of those oh-so-important fanboy moments that’s probably best left for the theaters.

Here’s hoping Agent Coulson gets an action beat somewhere in there, ’cause he’s been consistently fun over the years.

I’ve got my fingers crossed that the always solid Jeremy Renner won’t suck as Hawkeye… ‘Cause let’s face it: he’s Hawkeye.

"Who? Me?"

For once I’m actually hoping Joss Whedon decides to “George Lucas” his movie with distracting lights and colors in every shot.

Seriously man, this is the fuckin’ Avengers movie.

It’s only gonna’ premiere once, and you’ve been hyping it for like 4-5 years now.

Go balls out, or don’t waste my motherfuckin’ time.

No Avengers film, or any film for that matter, should have boring-ass shots of The Black Widow standing ever so casually in front of pitiful exploding buses, or for that matter; Nick Fury firing rocket launchers while standing in front of my dad’s garage.

BOH-RRRRRIIIIING.

Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got to say on this one, hopefully it turns out fun for everyone, ’cause at this point if any one film this coming year could hope make good on that promise, it’d have to be The Avengers.

If it does in fact start to suck when I’m in the theater though, I know exactly the phrase that’s going to come to mind:

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