Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

A Nightmare On Elm Street Death Reel

Should’ve figured Freddy’s death reel would end up almost 3 minutes shorter than Jason’s.

I suppose it doesn’t help that the Nightmare on Elm Street series has 3 fewer movies (including the reboots) than Friday the 13th.

Oh well, that doesn’t stop me from liking the Nightmare movies more overall.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s tons of fun watching a hockey mask-ed juggernaut tear his way through non-descript teenage delinquents, but I’ve always found the Nightmare movies’ special effects and more thoughtful structure to be more in line with my slasher movie sensibilities.

As is the case with virtually anything, quality counts more than quantity.

Filed under: Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday The 13th Death Reel

If I remember correctly, the old formula for the pacing of the Friday 13th films was that every 10 minutes:

1.  Someone had to die.

or

2.  Someone had to flash their boobs… and then die.

I’m not sure how much truth there is to this, as I’ve never sat down and actually timed it, but I’m inclined to believe it’s at least somewhat true.

Especially in the case of Jason X.

If anything, Jason X could be viewed as the overachiever of the series, as I seem to recall a few sequences in there where multiple character were killed off over the course of only a few minutes.

Filed under: Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

The Thing Prequel Looks… Meh.

John Carpenter’s The Thing is a very special kind of horror film.

It horrifies as much as it chills, it awes as much as it intrigues; in short, it is one of the finer examples of a sci-fi horror film that is not only good by the standards of it’s genre, but by the standards of filmmaking in general.

Easily my favorite of John Carpenter’s “Apocalypse Trilogy,” The Thing is one of those movies I don’t see myself ever getting tired of watching.

The makeup and prosthetic effects by Rob Bottin alone, are worth the price of admission.

On a side note, it’s easy to forget that the movie was also a remake of Howard Hawk’s The Thing From Another World, which in turn was an adaptation of the John W. Campbell novella, Who Goes There?

I’d like to claim that I knew who John W. Campbell was before writing this article, but I’m just gonna’ call bullshit on myself right now and give thanks to Wikipedia.

Anyway, despite all this, The Thing bears little very little resemblance to it’s preceding film counterpart, which in many ways serves as it’s greatest strength.

Even today, The Thing stands as a very unique film, with a one of a kind antagonist, a memorable cast of characters, and one of the most oppressive and claustrophobic settings in all of horror cinema.

Which brings us to the 2011 prequel of The Thing that is set to debut this October.

I’m not gonna’ lie, even the title of this movie pisses me off.

Given that it’s a prequel, that means that if one were to watch the 2 films in sequence, the 2011 movie and the 1982 John Carpenter film; one would effectively be forced to watch 2 films with the same name back to back.

That’s just fucked up.

I mean, when you remake a movie and recycle the title, such as was the case with Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street; that alone is pretty confusing, but when you make a prequel that shares a title with it’s sequel; that’s just fuckin’ stupid.

You know that annoying bullshit that comes up whenever you mention Friday the 13th and some jerk-faced asshole has to chime in and ask:

“Which one?  The remake or the original?”

Guess what?

That’s shit’s gonna’ be 20 times worse when you’re talking to the same jerk-faced asshole about The Thing!

“The prequel?  Or the sequel?  The 2011 one?  Or the 1982 version?”

And you know some motherfucker is gonna’ have the gall to throw The Thing From Another World into the mix, just to obfuscate things and piss you off.

THE SHIT.  NEVER.  ENDS.

Gettin’ really tired of Hollywood doing stupid shit like this to cover their losses and get them dollars…

*ANYWAY* THE 2011 PREQUEL OF JOHN CARPENTER’S THE THING apparently takes place at the Norwegian camp that originally discovered the alien menace of the title, however the trailer for this prequel feels much more like a remake.

TRAILER HERE

For fuck’s sake, the marketing crew even went so far as to reuse John Carpenter’s droning synthesizer music for the fuckin’ trailer.

Sure, the characters are different, as is much of the setup; but it bothers me that many of the key scenes of the 1982 film are apparently recycled and much of the set bears more than a passing resemblance to what’s come before it.

Sadly, I think that’s just what one has to expect when making a Thing prequel, which if you ask me; was never a good idea in the first place.

Given what we knew of the Norwegian camp from the first film, there’s just too many restrictions that have already been set in stone before the first reel has even run.

We already know the movie takes place in the artic.

We know nobody makes it out alive except for a couple of dudes that hop in a chopper and die a few minutes into the next movie.

We already know the nature of the title monster, which automatically kills about 90% of the drama and cleverness that the John Carpenter film brought to the table.

And to top it all off, we already know that the movie is going to end with a Husky running off into the sunset.

Oddly enough, despite all this I think the one objection this prequel that I really feel the need to throw out there, has to do with the inclusion of Mary Elizabeth Winstead as what I assume is the protagonist.

I don’t mean to sound chauvinistic or anything, but in my opinion The Thing’s all male cast actually served to lend it a great deal of dramatic weight.

When the paranoia settled in, and Wilford Brimley started ragin’ the diabeetus and breakin’ shit; there was a point in The Thing where you really believed, not only that anyone could be a Thing, but also that this was a bunch of guys that really were this close to gutting one another to survive.

In inserting a female character into the mix, you change the entire dynamic, and indeed the entire atmosphere of the film, largely because of horror movie traditions like the “Final Girl.”

It’s probably just me, but I don’t see something like The Thing benefiting from high-pitched screams, guys getting predictably killed off in savage ways due to their misogynistic practices, and dudes making it to the end on account of their romantic associations with the protagonist.

I realize the above statements were insensitive.

Fuck you, get your own damn blog.

Filed under: Movies, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Motion Capture Is Cool…

I was watching my newly purchased Blu-Ray of Avatar tonight, when it suddenly hit me that I forgot to write my blog.

Nah, just kidding, I never forget…

While I’m on the subject of movies though, I figure now would be a good time for me to talk about my feelings on motion capture technology; something that Avatar couldn’t have been made without.

I’ve always been fascinated by the artistry of the human body in motion.

I’m a firm believer in the concept that much of how we communicate our image and demeanor to the the people around us, stems from our body language.

That being said, whether it be in stage acting, professional wrestling, dance, mime, sports, or fighting; a person’s character, both fictionalized or genuine; shines through in the manner in which the move their body.

For me, a person that doesn’t converse with new people often, or well for that matter; being able to understand gesticulations and body language goes a long way towards getting to know people.

Though I can’t pin down the first time I saw it in action, motion capture technology is an amazing tool that I’ve grown to love very much.

The basic concept of it alone is utterly intriguing to the point in which I found myself wanting to be involved with it at some point.

Seriously, if you know anyone with an “in” to the motion capture industry, let me know!

For those who are unaware, motion capture is a technology that uses a specialized camera and computerized tracking system to map out and record the movements of a subject’s form.

Using the data recorded through this process, said movements can then be transposed onto the anatomy of a digital character.

In the context of movie or videogame production, doing so allows CGI animators to save (some) time by using actual human actors to map out a performance for digital characters, which can then be finessed or tweaked further by the animators.

In many ways, it’s the heir apparent to the classic animation technique of rotoscoping.

In many ways, the largest benefit of motion capture technology, is that it grants directors and animators an incredible degree of control over their projects.

If George Lucas is any indication, control is something that is very important to filmmakers.

They say some of the best moments in film history have been the results of happy coincidences, or even mistakes.

While that may be true, CGI stands as a counter to that, as a tool that allows filmmakers a degree of control that makes the word “mistake” seem almost obsolete.

CGI allows directors to create and animate just about any imagery that pops into their head, but motion capture technology allows them the ability to continue to work with actors, while taking advantage of the technology to precisely extract the desired performance from said actors.

While I don’t see live-action movies going away at any point in human existence, the inherent possibilities of producing digital motion captured films are downright incredible.

Think of it this way:

When producing CGI films with motion captured performances, one gains the freedom to set their film anywhere they want, populated by whatever they want.

They also retain the ability to cast big-name actors that put asses in the seats, not to mention gain the capacity to modify the actor’s appearance to their liking.

Not only that, motion capture also allows for stunt actors to be inserted into scenes without having to be shot at distance or from behind, as the whole process would be seamless.

Come to think of it, the whole concept of “stunts” as a whole could potentially be removed when making a motion captured film.

After all, the whole thing is performed in a sound stage, not to mention the actor can be “removed” from scenes whenever necessary, thereby allowing the animators to take over for the dangerous or “un-performable” sequences.

Still, the idea of being able to slip Donnie Yen’s motion capture performance into Tom Cruise’s digitally de-aged body is something that I’m sure a lot of people would pay to see.

To me though, the most interesting aspect of motion capture in film, is it’s effect on the acting process.

Acting in a green room, surrounded by artifice, actors have to dig deep and use their imagination to summon strong performances.

In short, more stress is put on the actor to use their body to convincingly occupy the digital landscape their character inhabits.

From the audience’s perspective, I find it changes how we view these performances as well.

While I myself am normally attuned to the physical aspects of an actors performance, when I watch motion captured performances, I find myself drawn to dig a little deeper.

I can’t tell you how much fun it is to see a digital character walk around in a movie, only to find the tiniest little inkling of evidence of the fact that you are in fact seeing a familiar actor, give a performance in an unfamiliar shell.

In many ways it reminds me of my lifelong love of Godzilla, or any sort of “suit acting” for that matter.

When Haruo Nakajima stomped around in a Godzilla suit, you could instantly tell it was him by the “largeness” and sheer character of his movements.

When Kane Hodder killed bitches as Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th movies, we could always tell it was him by how savagely he went about killin’ bitches.

When Peter Weller was switched out in favor of Robert John Burke (the fattie from Thinner) in Robocop 3, we were all up in arms; not just because that movie sucked, but because Burke’s physical performance simply wasn’t Robocop.

While motion captured performances will never beat good ‘ole “man-in-suit” acting, the concept is similar enough that is brings me great joy to watch.

I look forward to seeing the day when Donnie Yen steps into the motion capture studio and shows us what motion capture pictures have been missing out on.

Seriously, why the fuck hasn’t anyone made a martial arts movie in mo-cap yet, huh?

That’s right Robert Zemeckis and James Cameron, I’m lookin’ at you two…

Filed under: Boxing, Kung Fu, Movies, Tokusatsu, Wrestling, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Top 10 Best Overkills in Movies, #7: Universal Soldier

*Note: I am aware that they may be better overkills out there, but c’mon; this is Van Damme vs. Ivan Drago we’re talking about…*

Universal Soldier is not a good movie.

Hell, it’s not even a good Van Damme movie.

Despite this, I doubt any of us will forget the supermarket sequence,

"I kick ass, I kiss ass, and I'm busting heads!"

or watching Van Damme kick the shit out of truckers for absolutely no reason.

"Goddamnt, I'm just trying to eat this tray of popcorn!"

Anyway, this list isn’t about hero worship; it’s about overkill, so let’s get to it.

CLICK HERE FOR CLIP

The overkill in question occurs during the final battle of the film between the 2 crazy, roided-out Universal Soldiers of the title.

Well, maybe Van Damme isn’t, but Dolph is ‘roided out at this point anyway…

Everyone knows the 'roids grant the user He-Man hair...

Being as this is a Van Damme film, the first half of the fight belongs to the villain.

For several minutes straight, Dolph kicks the ever-loving shit out of Van Damme, making the stunt crew and wire team work for their money in the process.

Unfortunately, just as victory seems certain for the uber-Swede, he makes the BIG FUCKING MISTAKE of diverting his attention to Van Damme’s lady friend in the background.

By “diverting his attention,” of course, I mean “chucking a grenade up her ass.”

There are only 3 things in this world you don’t do when Van Damme’s in town.

First, you never throw white powder in his eyes.

That’ll get you kicked in the head, REPEATEDLY.

Second, you never, never, travel through time without the proper authority.

That’ll get your ass Ron Silver-ed.

Yes, that used to be Ron Silver before he touched himself...

And third, you never, ever, EVERRRR, ogle/threaten/rape/blow-up the woman that Van Damme is into, but isn’t actually in a legit relationship with on account of them not fucking, or not having known each other long enough for their feelings to amount to them wanting to fuck.

Seriously Dolph, you were home free until you chucked that grenade up that pretty ladies’ ass…

Jeez, Dolph. I know it was cool n'all, but get over it...

Not only that, but you know that fire your grenade just caused?

Well, it serves to give Van Damme ample opportunity to stand up heroically in front of it, thereby solidifying this part of the fight as his “comeback moment.”

Oh now you've gone and done it...

Needless to say, Van Damme gets back in the fight, managing to land his first noteworthy blows.

I like how 'roids somehow make kicks to the face hurt less.

Despite Van Damme’s angst/kicking power, there’s still the matter of Dolph’s ‘roid enhanced powers…

Due to the vast disparity in strength levels at this juncture, Van Damme still finds himself on the receiving end of a lot of downright silly Full Metal Jacket-esque taunts, in between eating a lot of Swedish knuckle-sandwiches, of course.

In fact, Dolph puts even his ass through a wall at one point.

Goddamn! Somebody ate their spinach...

No matter, Van Damme is in “comeback mode” at this point, thereby making any attacks only serve to enhance, rather than deplete his Belgian man-strength.

At some point, Van Damme manages to snatch an extra syringe of ‘roids off of Dolph’s tactical vest.

Van Damme: Teaching the kids that juicing's the only way to win...

Now, these ‘roids have to be just about the fastest acting chemical substance found on this Earth, as after no more than 5 seconds, Van Damme’s strength level seems to shoot right past ‘ole Dolph.

"Man, you're like half my size! What the fuck kinda' shit you shootin'!?"

With that, Dolph’s days of landing noteworthy blows, or even trying to defend himself come to an end, as things may as well have just shifted from the traditional martial arts movie “comeback mode,” to “Van Damme kicks people in the face mode.”

I'm beginning to see a theme here...

Needless to say, Dolph gets shown all 4 corners of the, uh, barn; and then some.

It all comes to a head when Van Damme gets a hold of Dolph and decides to throw technique and variation out the window in favor of throwing the same punch about 50 billion times.

IN THE FACE x50,000,000,000!!!

Seriously, virtually every drop of blood, and every bruise inflicted on the giga-Swede in this fight were the product of said punches, and seemingly nothing else.

Anyway, the Van Damminator gets his first bit of revenge by putting Dolph through a wall, thusly bringing the fight back outside into the rain.

This leads to a rather bizarre, and very childish bit of banter between the 2:

Well, that was productive.

Anyway, mass face-kicking ensues, resulting in Dolph falling backwards onto a harvester, and the true beginning to our #7 best overkill.

Here are the results of said fall:

Well now, we're regretting that little grenade toss earlier, right?

Wow, that’s a lot of holes!

As one would expect, Dolph doesn’t get up from that one.

Well, not in the traditional sense anyway.

Much like a Michael Myers/Jason Voorhees-style slasher, Dolph tries to trick Van Damme by playing dead, although it’s equally possible he simply passed out for a short time after, well, you saw.

I'm dead, soldier...

Anyway, with his un-impaled hand, Dolph grabs hold of the back of Van Damme’s head, and in one final attempt to finally make our hero a “dead soldier,” tries to pull Van Damme’s face into the harvester blade protruding from his own chest.

Bro'mance at it's most intimate...

If that’s not savage, I don’t know what is.

Unfortunately, Van Damme still has some of that ‘roid sauce in his blood, thusly allowing him to deftly snap the big Swede’s forearm out of place.

I know I said it before, but your arm really isn't supposed to bend that way.

Being as Dolph is still impaled and stuck to the harvester blades, and now has no operational limbs, I’d say his threat level just dropped to zero.

Even so, Van Damme doesn’t like loose ends, so being as this is a 90’s action flick, he runs on over to the power switch for the harvester, and unflinchingly turns that sucker on!

While we aren’t treated to the gloriously gory details of the Swedish slice-o-matic extravaganza,, we do bear witness to a tasty little tidbit of the carnage in the form of a shot of the harvester’s expulsion duct blowing bits and chunks of Dolph out into the night sky.

Rest assured, the next harvest on this particular farm will grow inordinately large and blond from the trickle-down effect of laying Dolph’s liquified form onto the fields…

Oh yeah, and it turns out the chick didn’t get blown up.

Fuckin’ figures…

BUTT.

Filed under: Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thoughts on Splice

*SPOILER ALERT* SOME PLOT DETAILS MAY BE REVEALED! *SPOILER ALERT*

Vincenzo Natali’s Splice opens with the birth of a colossal penis.

No, that’s not my twisted way of referring to Adrien Brody’s nose, but rather the honest to God truth.

The movie begins with a clever first-person shot from the fish-eyed perspective of the penis in question, where we are then, literally; carried off to an examination room in the laboratory where said penis is introduced to…

Another giant penis.

"Ma'am, I must advise, I honestly don't think you can handle that much banana..."

Did I mention that the giant penises have “vaginas” for tongues?

Well, they do, and they aren’t shy about whipping ’em out for all to see either.

Kind of like these guys.

Splice is an odd movie.

It wasn’t really a horror movie in the proper sense, (very little shocks, scares, or tension) and it wasn’t really all that good or bad.

It was just plain weird.

To be truthful, I did see the movie in an empty theater, with a friend who at times was more concerned with telling me which anime the movie reminded him of, so that may have skewed my impression of the movie, (no audience reactions and what not) but for this article, I’m gonna’ stick to my guns.

Splice is a movie about a stupid, crazy bitch, her equally stupid boyfriend, (who she just happens to have by the BALLS) and of course, their animal-human hybrid that wants to fuck both of them.

Sorry, just spoiled the movie for you.

My thoughts aside, Splice is actually a rather straightforward film about a parenthood and control, both things that our STUPID protagonists fail to earn the right to wield over, well, anything really.

On a side note, do you know how you can tell Splice is a Canadian, or at least not-American film?

Because the lead characters are named fucking Elsa and Clive, that’s how.

Pictured: Elsa and Clive.

If I may diverge for a moment, I just need to vent my frustrations with the main characters.

Both Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley performed their roles ably within the confines of the script, however whoever was in charge of the wardrobe and some of the set design, was trying just a little bit too hard.

According to the world of Splice, genetic engineers are the hippest people in the world.

They wear designer hipster gear, listen to techno and jazz, have fabulous apartments, sleep on futon’s with giant manga prints hung over them, eat Japanese candy every day, and oh yeah, they drive an ironic and unpretentious beater car.

"Quickly! To The Hipster-Mobile!"

In essence, our protagonists come across as Manhattanites or some shit, while living in a snowy podunk town with seemingly only one skyscraper downtown.

No wait, I’m not done venting just yet!

Elsa is a stupid fucking bitch.

I didn’t like her from the film’s opening moments, and you can bet I straight-up hated her ass by the final reel.

It is hinted at that she had an abusive, negligent mother, and that may be why she is so fucked up, both as a person and as a pseudo-parent, but even so, she was very hard to deal with throughout.

Clive on the other hand, was not so bad.

That doesn’t mean he wasn’t stupid.

Or whipped to shit.

Now just replace the Azn girl for a stupid bitch, and there you have it: Splice!

That being said, I won’t question Clive’s questionable logic at times during the movie, seeing as the stupid/whipped combo actually explains that away pretty conveniently for me.

You see, early in the film, Clive is just whipped, but not stupid.

Elsa does things against his better judgement I.E. illegally creating Dren, the human-animal hybrid, and he does nothing to stop her.

About halfway in though, after Dren’s already grown up, Clive starts to get dumb.

REEAAAAAAAALLLLLY DUMB.

Going into the movie, I assumed Dren was going to rape Clive.

Turns out, I was off by a bit, as he fucks her consensually, and then later, Dren rapes Elsa.

That’s right, there are sex scenes with Dren, and yes, they are weird.

Weird may not be the right word though, ’cause I found myself laughing at a lot of scenes in Splice that I think I really wasn’t supposed to.

For instance, there is one real gory scene in the movie, and all throughout it, I found myself laughing out loud at how over-the-top it was.

The difference is, you're SUPPOSED to laugh at this.

Then during the scene where Dren and Clive share a dance, I shook my head and snorted in dismissal.

And the scene where Clive fucked Dren?  You better believe I was saying “what the fuck?”

Splice is a movie that asks you to, above all, watch what happens.

It doesn’t so much tell a story, or deliver a message, as it does drop scenes in your lap and simply ask you to watch.

It’s like watching a documentary about a dysfunctional couple raising a down’s syndrome kid.

Pictured: A great fuckin' movie.

The character of Dren is the centerpiece of the film, and rightfully so.

She is presented to us, first as a horseshoe crab shaped whatsit.

Pictured: One of the coolest animals in all of existence.

Then it is later revealed to us that this form was just a cocoon, housing a hairless rabbit/chicken looking thing that likes Japanese candy and has a nasty poison stinger for a tail.

A month later, Dren takes on the appearance of a big-headed, chicken-legged, bald kid with her eyes on the side of her head like a deer.

Elsa begins dressing her like a human at this point, and Dren demonstrates clear signs of intelligence by spelling words that she hasn’t been taught.

Despite this, she never really speaks, with most of her vocalizations sounding like a cross between a squirrel and a monkey.

One thing about Dren’s intelligence that I found interesting to note, was the fact that the filmmakers wisely made the decision to make her smart, without being overwhelmingly so.

In many of these “science run amok” films, often times the title villain or creature displays levels of intelligence that seem overly convenient, or forced I.E. Species and The Lawnmower Man.

Splice never attempts to do this with Dren, instead the makers seemed to be content having their creature be a quick learner, and very smart, but never really approaching the level of a grown human.

To that end, the film succeeds in making Dren a fairly sympathetic character in that she is at the mercy of her dim-witted and psychotic “parents.”

Dren’s “adult stage” looks like Sinead O’Connor with a tail, and chicken legs.

Sinead O'Connor circa 1990

Her eyes adopt a more binocular style alignment, definitely making her seem more human.

The actress that played her, Delphine Chaneac deserves some praise, as her nearly entirely physical performance as the oddly shaped Dren is utterly believable, and very interesting to watch.

Her movements have an animalistic quality to them that is sharp, alert, and seemingly purposeful in a sense that is altogether foreign to the average human.

Have you ever stared at a dog or a gorilla and tried to figure out what was going on in their head?

Well, that same sense of, “what the fuck are they looking at?” is evident in Dren, and it went a long way towards helping me to forget that she was indeed a special effects construct.

I will say this though, when the full extent of Dren’s transformation is finally revealed, my friend called it about a minute beforehand, to which I responded “you better not be right, man.”

Seriously, I was really hoping they didn’t take the “splicing” part of the storyline as far as they did, but oh well.

Splice is a movie with a lot of little mysteries floating around in it, but due to excessive telegraphing and leaving of breadcrumbs, most of them are revealed to the audience somewhat prematurely.

In that sense, there aren’t really that many surprises in the movie, but the movie gives you enough incentive to keep watching anyway.

Mmmm.... Incentive....

Protip: Don’t see Splice with someone that calls out what everyone thinks is going to happen.  Chances are they’ll spoil every surprise for you.

At one point I even said aloud:

“Aw man, they can’t kill him, that’s such a cliche.  Besides, he didn’t do anything wrong, other than be a douche.”

Sure enough, Mr. Douche was dead about a minute later.

Like seemingly every movie I talk about on this blog, Splice was not a bad movie, it was just weird, flat, and filled with dumb characters doing even dumber things.

Oh yeah, and weird sex, lots and lots of weird sex…

Sorry if you thought this was gonna’ be a review, my mind was just a little bit too jumbled for me to properly compose one.

Filed under: Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Donate