Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Cowboys & Aliens Was… Alright

*Warning! Extraordinarily minor spoilers ahead! Read at your own risk!*

I had a good feeling coming into Cowboys & Aliens.

As detailed in some of my previous posts, I found both the premise and the surprisingly straight-laced advertising campaign of the film to be provocative to my tastes.

I like cowboy movies.

I like alien movies.

A movie that slams both of genres together, while maintaining some semblance of seriousness should be the stuff of dreams, right?

Well, as it turns out, Cowboys & Aliens didn’t really live up to the sum of it’s (considerable) parts.

Despite a terrific cast, a solid premise, and one of the goofiest titles to a summer blockbuster this side of Snakes on a Plane, Cowboys & Aliens failed to be little more than “alright” in my eyes.

I won’t go into any details of the plot, but I will say this:

It’s predictable to the point in which a major character arc was spoiled for me IN THE TRAILERS, and there are more than a few moments towards the end that had me and my friend referencing Independence Day.

We also had a mutual flashback to Total Recall at one point, but that may have just been the 2 of us being weird… And dorky.

"Quaid... Quaid... Start the reactor... FREE MARS..."

The first half is decent enough, with a slow burn sort of pacing that would lead you to believe the second half is going to have some sort of pay-off; only for the climax to come lurching into the view and offer absolutely zero sense of satisfaction to the audience.

Put it this way, if you’re looking for good action, or even aliens doing cool shit with cool toys; Cowboys & Aliens is not the movie for you.

Truth be told, that was probably one of my biggest issues with the movie:

The damn aliens turned out to be one trick ponies!

When you think aliens of the technologically advanced variety, inevitably one’s mind pictures them using said technology to their advantage.

While it made me happy to see that the aliens featured in the movie weren’t complete feebs like some of the “green men” of old, I gotta’ say, and this is only a minor spoiler, after watching an alien do his spear/chokeslam combo to a horse for the 50th time inside of 20 minutes, I started to get kind of bored.

Remember, this is coming from someone who would tell you the best part of Inception was when Joseph Gordon-Levitt choked a dude out while hanging upside down.

ECW! ECW! ECW!

Don’t get me wrong, I likes me some chokeslamming aliens as much as the next guy, but when that’s all they ever fucking do; well, it gets old.

There’s a reason a chokeslam is a finisher, and that’s because it has a lot more impact when it’s used to finish people as opposed to all the fucking time.

Long story short, if you saw a trailer for Cowboys & Aliens, congratulations; you’ve seen every fuckin’ trick the aliens have up their sleeves with the exception of spears and chokeslams.

That being said, it needs to be said that the acting of the movie were actually pretty good.

Then again, with a cast that consists of the likes of Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell, Clancy Brown, Olivia Wilde, Toad Face, and ADAM FUCKING BEACH; it’s kind of hard to fuck up in the acting department.

Craig didn’t really bring anything to the table in terms of emotional weight or investment, but I gotta’ say; the man has the perfect silhouette for a Western.

Even if all he did was stand in this movie, he still would've done better than half the cast.

Seriously man, I don’t know if he went to mime school or anything, but the way Daniel Craig hold’s his arms, the way he plants his feet just the right distance apart; he really just looks like a savage-ass cowboy hero.

Given the limitations of the script, it’s hard to say whether Craig could’ve done better in the role or not, but in all honesty; I think he did just fine looking the part if nothing else.

Moving on, Harrison Ford growled and scowled his way through the movie as kind of curmudgeonly old, post-war Indiana Jones.

He’s quite hammy throughout the film, though never pandering; but in his quieter moments, particularly with Toad Face and ADAM FUCKING BEACH, he manages to steal the show from time to time.

Outside of these 2, the rest of the cast was a little subdued, to the point of being kind of a let down.

Clancy Brown was more Mr. Krabs than The Kurgan, Olivia Wilde may as well have been window dressing, Toad Face was even uglier than he was in The Last Airbender, Sam Rockwell had a funny ad-lib here and there, but was unfortunately cast as a sniveling loser.

Despite this, ADAM FUCKING BEACH managed to have a few good moments, though many of them were squandered by him being cast (as tends to happen when you’re one of like 3 Natives in Hollywood) as the stereotypical “Spiritually Strong and Morally Pure Native Dude.”

ADAM. FUCKING. BEACH.

A cowboy movie with stereotypes?

Surely you jest…

That being said, Cowboys & Aliens was far from a let down, but nowhere near as good as I would’ve hoped.

In general, the movie felt like it was rolling down a hill in neutral.

While I tend to like Jon Favreau as a director, the Iron Man movies and now Cowboys & Aliens have me convinced that the man needs to work on his pacing when it comes to making popcorn movies.

The action scenes were plainly choreographed and devoid of drama, largely amounting to scattered shots of cowboys shooting AT POINT BLANK RANGE, and aliens tackling them shortly thereafter.

By the way, make sure to pay attention to the number of cowboys featured in the finale, as personally; I found that I saw more cowboys die than they actually started out with.

Anyway, the movie was “alright,” but nowhere near The Valley of Gwangi in terms of cowboy vs. the monster of the week novelty.

Captain America totally kicked this movies’ ass…

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Optimus Prime Is An Asshole

ASSHOLE.

*Caution! This article contains spoilers for ALL of the live-action Transformers films!*

Before you lose your shit and start calling blasphemy at the title of this post, please take heed and understand the face that the above phrase is only in reference to the live-action Michael Bay version of the character.

I grew up watching the original Transformers.

Optimus Prime was, and is; one of my biggest heroes.

That being said, after (finally) watching Transformers: Dark of the Moon, I can honestly say, with an absolute degree of certainty; that Michael Bay’s take on the character barely qualifies as a “in name only” representation of the original Optimus Prime.

Much like the Roland Emmerich take on Godzilla, commonly known as GINO or "Godzilla In Name Only."

Watching Optimus Prime evolve, or should I say, degenerate; from film to film has been a horrific and sickening process.

The original character of Optimus Prime was that of a regal and clean-cut goody goody.

He was noble to the point of being kind of a tool, he rarely was at the forefront of combat, deferring most of the dirty work to his Autobot cohorts, and in every case, regardless of how practical it may be; he did whatever he could to stand for peace and altruism.

He was an admirable role model for impressionable young children, and one that, in a perfect world, would still hold up to this day.

The first live-action Transformers movie, a mediocre film overall, but easily the best of the trilogy; took many liberties with it’s interpretations of many of the Gen 1 characters, however when it came to Optimus Prime, it mostly got it “right.”

In Transformers 1, Prime was every bit as regal as his old self, with the sole exception of a few uncharacteristically goofy moments.

One of his finer moments in the film came at the very end, when Prime attempted to sacrifice himself and the All-Spark.

Sam, being the mental giant that he is, instead decided to kill Megatron with it.

He never once suggested using it to destroy Megatron, nor did he ever seem at any point prepared to outright kill his lifelong rival.

While his character was never developed to the point in which anyone could really care about him, it was nonetheless very appropriate to have Prime mourn the death of Jazz at the film’s conclusion.

Really Prime’s only really odd moment was during his battle with Bonecrusher, wherein he basically decapitated the severely outmatched Decepticon without giving it a second thought.

While somewhat shocking, dealing with his opponent at the time, quickly and efficiently; was cause enough justify Prime’s course of action.

Even so, while it was cool to see Prime cut loose and kick-ass, it’s hard for me to associate the phrase “stone cold killer” with him.

Which brings us to the train wreck that is Revenge of the Fallen.

Pictured: One of the innumerable problems that made up the blasphemous pile of poo that was Revenge of the Fallen.

Probably the worst in the trilogy, Revenge of the Fallen’s version of Optimus Prime was worse than the first film, but in my opinion; not quite as bad as the 3rd one.

Not all too different from his Transformers 1 counterpart in speech and mannerisms, the one really noticeable change in his character came in the form of a gung ho, “kill them until they die from it” attitude.

I’m guessing it makes me sound like a pussy to say so, but I was downright shocked to see Optimus blow Demolishor’s head off at the beginning of the movie.

It's all in good fun until someone gets hurt...

While far from the dumbest or most offensive sequence in the movie, seeing a childhood hero think nothing of executing a defenseless opponent just seemed really fuckin’ wrong to me.

Similarly, it came as a shock to me that Prime would brutalize and utterly obliterate The Fallen at the film’s conclusion.

The world was no longer in danger, and in his “Super Saiyan Prime” form, The Fallen seemed to be no match for him; so in my mind it seemed kind of odd for Prime to go the extra mile to butcher and obliterate his opponent.

Sadly, that last part is a direct quote.

I’m not at all opposed to killing in Transformers movies, however I do take offense to unjustified killing via the hands of Optimus Prime.

Killing Blackout during the 3-on-1 battle in the forest (arguably the best scene in any of the movies) came as a result of necessity I.E. defending himself and more importantly, Sam.

Decapitating a defenseless, and largely incapacitated opponent, was hard to justify outside of appealing to a bloodthirsty audience.

There was a phrase that Prime tossed around in virtually every episode of the old TV show, namely that of “Easy, Ironhide.”

This phrase was meant to separate Prime from his more bloodthirsty counterpart.

The phrase was used in Transformers 1, but somewhere down the line they decided to ditch it and the philosophical implications it brought to the table.

That being said, while Prime was obviously trending towards a more bad-ass persona in Revenge of the Fallen, in my eyes they took this much too far in Dark of the Moon.

"Peeeeaaace..... No Peace..."

Prime’s role in Dark of the Moon was somewhat diminished in comparison to the previous films in the series, however his behavior in the 3rd film was borderline offensive.

First off, and this applies to all of the Autobots; I found the idea of the Transformers rallying behind the U.S. military to combat terrorism to be more than a little insulting.

Throughout every film, Optimus Prime has declared himself to be an ally of humanity, making it completely absurd that he and the other Autobots would seemingly align themselves exclusively with the U.S., a single nation among hundreds of others.

I know these movies have obligations to portray the U.S. military in a certain way, largely due to multi-million dollar contracts with the armed forces; but attempting to trick kids into believing they’ll get to hang out with autonomous transforming robots when they sign-up is more than a little offensive.

Oh well, at least it’s not as dumb, or as blatant as Taiwan’s military ad campaign:

Moving on, it’s hard to deny that Prime’s gung ho/take no prisoners attitude from Revenge of the Fallen was turned up to 11 for Dark of the Moon.

Gen 1 and first film alum, Ironhide, as well as a handful of other Autobots are killed in the film, however at no point does Optimus Prime take a moment to reflect on their passing.

The death of any Autobot is always going to be a big deal, but for IRONHIDE, one of the most well known and beloved characters in the franchise to pass on without acknowledgment; is pretty fuckin’ lame.

What’s also pretty fuckin’ lame is hearing Optimus Prime arrive at the battlefield and declare bullshit G.I. Joe phrases like:

That’s a direct quote by the way.

I don’t care how many civilians the Decepticons kill, to hear the venerable leader of the Autobots order a fuckin’ genocide on the opposition is just plain fuckin’ wrong.

To make matters worse, Prime once again can’t seem to stop himself from killing everything in sight.

Countless (generic) Decepticons meet their fate at the hands of Prime in Dark of the Moon, however the really offensive deaths come at the film’s conclusion.

At the end of the film, Prime is severely wounded and faced with 2 opponents, Sentinel Prime and Megatron.

At one point Megatron proceeds to offer Prime a truce, whereupon Prime interrupts him and proceeds to tear his fuckin’ head off.

Following this, a mortally wounded Sentinel Prime crawls about on the ground and begs for his life, whereupon Prime interrupts him and proceeds blow his fuckin’ head off.

 

Apparently, negotiation is not one of the Autobot’s strong suits.

I don’t know about you, but shit like this grinds my motherfuckin’ gears.

It’s like the equivalent of a grossly unwarranted and unexpected heel-turn of a beloved face in wrestling.

The only difference is, in wrestling shit like that usually ends up paying off in the long run.

Corporate Rock, while hard to swallow in the first few months, was one of his better moments.

G.I. Kill-Master Prime, as well as any of the live-action Transformers films, will likely continue to be shitty as ever 10 years from now.

Anyway, I won’t be writing a review for Dark of the Moon, (it sucked) but I felt I needed to pound out this article, because I genuinely felt that this interpretation of the character was entirely “wrong.”

Oh well, I guess this is the kind of shit you have to expect from movies when the military is heavily invested in their making, the countries’ been at war for over a decade, and kids have been living off Call of Duty games and their imitators for the past 8 years.

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“Today, We Celebrate, Our Independence Day!”


Happy Fourth of July Everyone!

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The Top 10 Manliest Man Moments: Runner-Ups

As with virtually any list I’ve put together for this blog, there were more than a few entries I regret not having found a place for.

I suppose I could’ve changed the list from a “Top 10” to a “Top 15,” however I think we can all agree that Top 15 just doesn’t have the same ring to it; hence my reasoning for cutting things down to 10.

Anyway, finishing the Top 10 Manliest Man Moments last night really whooped my ass something fierce, so in the interest of sparing my brain cells; I’m gonna’ try to keep this short.

That being said, without further ado I give you the Top 5 Runner-Up Man Moments:

#5. Tremors – The Wrong Goddamn Rec Room…

Few would deny that Tremors was an awesome movie.

While the franchise that would follow in it’s wake would ultimately be hit and miss at best, the original Tremors succeeded largely on the shoulders of it’s colorful cast of characters; not the least of which being Burt Gummer and his wife.

While Burt’s survivalist shtick never really made him out to be as MANLY a MANLY-MAN as some of the other characters on this list, his vast arsenal of weapons; and the child-like glee he exhibits at the thought of getting a chance to use them, are qualities that made him perhaps the MANLIEST MAN in the Tremors series.

In short, watching Burt and the missus put several hundred rounds into an extraordinarily ballsy Graboid as it tears it’s way into their underground bunker was a thrill that brought me great joy in my youth.

#4. The Killer – Mickey Mouse and Dumbo Have… A “Moment.”

Um..... Manly(?)

The Killer is John Woo’s best film, bar none.

The gunplay, while not as over-the-top and explosive as Hard-Boiled; is staged with a beauty and grace that few films can rival, not to mention the story and writing are probably the best Woo has ever had to work with.

While the action component of The Killer is ultimately what made it come to mind while compiling this MANLY list, in truth; the moment in the film that puts it among the runner-ups involves no violence whatsoever.

There’s a moment at the end of the film, during the church shootout; when Chow Yun Fat and Danny Lee have a truly bizarre, and mildly homoerotic “moment” as they exit the church.

Basically, some over-the-top and totally out of place MAN music starts blaring as our heroes strut through the doors in slow motion.

If that wasn’t MANLY enough, we then cut to close-ups of the 2 MEN cracking goofy-ass smiles, at which point we are treated to back-to-back awkward freeze frames of the 2 men.

It’s a weird sequence, and is indeed very much out of place given the circumstances; but in some mysterious way it just seems utterly MANLY to me…

#3. Independence Day – Russell Puts A Plane Up The Alien’s Assholes

This one’s a no-brainer.

Randy Quaid saved the world from the aliens by giving his life.

I would’ve put this one on the Top 10 proper, but the Whitmore Speech just seemed so much bigger to me.

In the interest of restricting myself to a “one moment per movie” rule, I felt it was wise to put Russell in with the runner-ups.

#2. Bloodsport – Frank Dux Makes Chong Li Smell His Feet

The only reason this one didn’t make the list is because Rocky IV basically did the same thing, only better.

In short:

I like Stallone better Van-Damme.

Apollo died, whereas Ogre only got a concussion.

The actual fight in Rocky IV was both choreographed and shot better.

Rocky Balboa fought for AMERIKUH and ENDED COMMUNISM, while Frank Dux won “honor” and a toy sword.

In my book, the finale of Rocky IV is definitely the MANLIER moment, though I love both films with about the same passion

#1. Yojimbo – 5 Seconds of Mayhem

(Note: The clip above isn’t the actual moment in question, rather it’s simply a compilation of awesome Mifune moments.)
As mentioned elsewhere on this list, Toshiro Mifune is pretty much the most awesome human being.

The man was pretty much a modern day samurai, not to mention the living embodiment of the MANLY ideal of Japanese MAN-DOM.

That being said, of all the awesome moments he had in his illustrious film career; I can think of no MANLIER a sequence than when he cut down virtually every major villain in Yojimbo in the space of a few seconds.

Utterly devoid of flash, and about as no-nonsense as you can get, this sequence stands as a testament to the SAVAGERY of advanced iaido techniques, and the paragon of pimp that is Toshiro Mifune.

Anyway, that’s all for the Azn Badger’s list of the Manliest Man Moments in movies.

Check back tomorrow for something not related to MANLINESS!

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The Top 10 Manliest Man Moments #3: The Whitmore Speech

Independence Day is an awesome fucking movie.

I remember being carted off to the theater to see it on opening day, despite not even knowing it’s title.

You see, acronyms were kind of big back in the mid-90’s, and as such; Independence Day was marketed as “ID4,” so as to be enigmatic and therefore “cool.”

To this day I really don’t get how the whole “ID4” thing worked out, but by golly; IT FUCKING WORKED.

Sure, the plot’s kind of corny and there’s definitely 1 too many coincidences in how all ensemble cast all relate to one another; but even so, it’s hard to dispute the fact that Independence Day is an exceptional popcorn movie.

The CG effects are kind of lacking by today’s standards, but for my money the explosions and miniature effects still hold water; as does the decent script that utterly blows the ever-loving fuck out of anything Michael Bay’s done in the past… Well, ever.

Pictured: The closest Michael Bay's ever gotten to doing it right. A little Sean goes a long way...

A product of the monument smashing duo of Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, Independence Day is hardly the MANLIEST of MAN movies, however it certainly has it’s fair share of outstanding MANLY moments.

First off, there was about 2 hours of Jeff Goldblum being neurotic and vaguely Ian Malcolm-like:

They could make a movie about Ian Malcolm taking out the garbage for 2 hours and I'd still fucking watch it.

Then there was that one time Will Smith deployed the “universal greeting” to an alien’s face:

And I guess there was also that one time when THE ENTIRE FUCKING PLANET WORKED TOGETHER TO WAGE THE LARGEST AERIAL BATTLE IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND:

*Spoiler*: We won.

Oh yeah, and I suppose Randy Quaid killing himself to save the planet was pretty MANLY too, though not nearly as much as THE LARGEST AERIAL BATTLE IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND.

Anyway, despite all the flash and special effects of Independence Day, in truth the MANLIEST; and easily most inspired moment in the entire movie, came in the form of a simple speech.

A speech delivered by the pimp-ass fighter pilot/PRESIDENT OF THE FUCKING WORLD, Thomas J. Whitmore:

LONESTAR!!!!!!

Bill Pullman’s Tom Whitmore is in many way the Hot Rod of the AMERIKUHN presidency.

Like Hot Rod, he’s young, driven, and more than a little arrogant, resulting in his reception with the general public being somewhat divided.

Despite this, when it all comes down to the wire and shit gets real, his MANLY worth shines through and everyone rallies behind him.

Hot Rod had his moment in the sun as he assumed the title of Rodimus Prime, opened the Matrix of Leadership and took out Unicron… and then later became a total douche by catching a case of the “hate plague” and forcing Optimus Prime to pwn his ass.

What?

You mean you don’t remember that?

*ANYWAY* Whitmore’s moment ultimately came as he rallied THE ENTIRE FUCKING PLANET to face the aliens head on, securing his place in the annals of MAN-HISTORY by selflessly riding into battle alongside the troops.

On a side note, President Whitmore’s finest moment during the final battle in Independence Day, came when he used his MANLY PRESIDENTIAL POWERS to magically summon an extra missile during the final battle.

I can’t find any pics to back it up, but next time you watch the movie; pay attention to how many missiles President Whitmore fires during the dog fighting.

Truly, it was a feat only a MANLY FUCKING PRESIDENT could achieve.

Which brings us to Tom Whitmore’s greatest achievement of all, and our 3rd MANLIEST MAN moment in all of movies.

Today, we celebrate, The Whitmore Speech:

Special thanks need to be given to David Arnold for a composing the background music of this speech.

Seriously, if ever there was an example of music being used to enhance the power of a scene, this would have to be it.

I think the turning point in the speech, where it goes from being calming and uplifting in spirit, to a fuckin’ MANLY-ASS call to arms; is where it really grabs you by the balls and makes you realize just how awesome it is.

There’s just something about the way Bill Pullman growls that one line, “We will not go quietly into the night!” that makes this speech so fuckin’ awesome to me.

Anyway, thanks for reading, check back tomorrow for MANLY moment #2!

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Summon Russell Casse!

I guess this marks the second instance that a legendary fighter pilot has been granted the honor of being given their very own Magic card on this blog.

Well, that is if you consider Jek Porkins to be “legendary.”

I suppose he’s legendarily obese and full of FAIL, but other than that…

Okay fine, today marks the first occasion that a legendary fighter pilot has been granted the honor of being given their very own Magic card on this blog; said pilot of course being Russell Casse.

To the sad individuals that are totally in the dark as to who Russell Casse is, I present to you the following clip:

That’s right, Russell was the drunk and loserly Vietnam vet who courageously saved the fate of the planet (well, Area 51 anyway) at the conclusion of Independence Day.

Claiming to have been previously abducted by the alien invaders, Russell launched his selfless kamikaze attack with the intent of paying them back, not just for blowing up every major city in the world; but for the horrible experiments they performed on him during the time he was in their custody.

Curiously enough, while Russell abduction claims were never confirmed to be true during the running time of the film, I think I remember reading a promotional comic book for Independence Day that actually elaborated on his past dealings with the aliens, revealing that he had in fact been telling the truth despite his perpetually oafish and drunken demeanor.

This could be crazy talk on my part, or worse yet; the result of bad rumors passed around the schoolyard while the movie was still playing in theaters, but I’m about 80% sure I’m not bullshitting you.

Anyway, consider the above card a tribute to Randy Quaid’s awesome and wholly memorable performance in Independence Day.

For what it’s worth, know that I belong to that “special” group of people that actually like Independence Day, not just as a novelty; but as a genuinely fun movie.

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