Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Cry-Baby (1990) - Review

John Waters is one weird dude.  He’s infamous for the pretty heinous film, Pink Flamingos, which if you don’t know, does involve a transvestite eating real dog crap for several minutes.  Like, the actor actually ate feces that came out of a dog.  But then he’s also known for more family-friendly fare like Hairspray as well as genuinely funny spoofs like Serial Mom and today’s affair: Cry-Baby.

Cry-Baby is basically Grease if Grease knew that it was totally ridiculous.  It makes fun of 50s culture, something that a lot of movies do, and in some cases (like Pleasantville) do better.  But this is one of the earlier movies that I’ve seen that does this.  Whereas Pleasantville has very distinct and frankly poignant messages about racism and sexism, Cry-Baby chooses to go the traditional John Waters route of over-the-top comedy, and here it works really well.

And a single manly tear rolled d-- what?  Oh God!
Essentially the plot is that a “good” girl falls in love with Cry-Baby, the bad boy greaser played by Johnny Depp.  Cry-Baby gets sent to juvie and then must win her back!  The story itself is standard, but the way it’s executed is pretty clever – everyone in this universe is totally aware of how ridiculous the movie is and are playing it to the rafters.  Everyone, that is, except for Johnny Depp, who gives such a hilariously straight performance that it’s easy to see why he was such a mega star for such a long time.

Depp’s performance combined with the ‘wink, wink, nudge, nudge’ writing makes for an entertaining, if mindless watch.

Also, there’s a character nicknamed “Hatchet-Face” in the movie, and that’s just great.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Lone Ranger (2013) - Review

Ugh, this is the worst kind of movie.

Disney’s take on the old show (that I have never seen and have no desire to ever see – I have no fondness for TV Land, most old shows actively get on my nerves) isn’t a terrible movie, technically.  Depp and Hammer are fine, the villain is very dark and kind of daring for a kids’ movie, and there’s nothing outright horrible about this film.

But oh my sweet hot damns is it boring.  You know what, I take it back.  There is something technically very awful about this movie, and that’s the pacing.  Three people worked on the script, which is not a good sign, and two of them worked on the Pirates of the Caribbean films.  Ah, so that explains the incredibly bloated and meandering run-time.

Most of this film is spent with Tonto, because make no mistake, Johnny Depp is the star of this film.  The bookends involve him and most of the gags center around how wacky he can be; The Lone Ranger himself is just a reluctant “hero” along for the ride.  But come on, Johnny, you’ve got too many wacky characters.  Some of them work, like Cap’n Jack.  Most of them don’t.  This one doesn’t.  The film simply isn’t funny or charming or in any way interesting.

This is funny because he's staring down a horse.
By the time things actually DO start to happen, around two hours in, it’s already too late.  Yes, the last action sequence on the train is pretty fun and rousing, but you could cut literally half of this movie and not even realize it was missing.  That is not a mark of good filmmaking.  I’m all for world-building, just make it interesting.  And, you know, actually build your world, instead of just showing Depp doing a corny accent.

I blame the aforementioned Pirate sequels for trending the ‘overly long kids’ blockbuster that aren’t actually any fun’ thing and running it straight into the ground.  And The Lone Ranger is just another nail in the coffin.  At least it bombed, so there won’t be a sequel – kind of sad when that’s the silver lining in the situation.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Graduation Day Part 1 - S03E21 Review


Finally, the two-part finale of the third season has arrived and high school is drawing to a close.  There comes a time where every teen show must do this, but at least they don’t linger on high school too long like more inferior shows like Smallville (yep, I totally believe that Tom Welling is a fourteen year old freshman that just happens to be six foot three and have a twelve pack).  Buffy is determined to exit high school with a bang!

We start off with everybody getting a bit of graduation fever.  Xander and Cordy go from talking about graduation outfit color and casually seguing to dying horribly, Willow and Harmony have a bonding moment, and then Buffy calls her out on it, noticing that everyone is getting nostalgia except for her.  Don’t worry, Buffster, I didn’t have any nostalgia when I graduated either.  I was just ready to not have to wake up at 6AM every morning.  I totally agree that graduation is a fairly pointless ceremony and would rather just have my diploma and not have to endure the several hour borefest please.

Anyway, Xander drops by to announce that the Mayor is the graduation’s commencement speaker, so Buffy gots to go so she can kill him.  Cut to a really brutal and unpleasant scene of Faith murdering a college professor on the Mayor’s orders.  I forgot how uncomfortable that was.  The next day, Faith comes out in a sundress that the Mayor picked out for her for the big day.  She actually looks adorable.  The Mayor gives a speech about how proud he is of her, and scenes like these are the best part of the villains from this season.  There’s no way they were going to top Angelus, but this father/daughter dynamic is interesting enough to carry it, even though the Mayor himself isn’t a very interesting bad guy.  The only problem with that is that Faith is kind of too evil for me to care about her right now, so much of the backstory is kind of just “Alright... well she’s still a bitch, so I don’t really care”.

In class, Anya asks Xander out on a proper date, and aren’t these two adorable, folks?  Xander lets slip that the ascension is coming and it turns out that Anya has actually seen one.  She talks about how pure demons are something altogether different than any they’ve seen before.  Oh, so they’re Great Old Ones.  Also Giles and Wesley fence.  Buffy talks to Giles about not wanting to kill Faith because she doesn’t kill people.  This will come back in a certain episode in Season 5 where she kills several humans (and the show doesn’t even mention it – it’s weird).

Then the Mayor just shows up in the library to taunt everybody, especially Buffy.  Giles will have none of this, so he stabs him with a fencing sword.  This doesn’t kill him of course, but it’s pretty badass.  Anya then bails (and asks Xander to run away with her but he has a sense of honor, so he declines) because she’s not a fully-developed character yet, but don’t worry budding Anya fans, she shall return!  At Buffy’s, she packs her mom a bag and tells her to bail too.  She resists but eventually Buffy guilts her into it.  Seriously, she should just listen to Buffy at this point.

Willow and Oz get down to biz-nuss and have sex finally.  And that’s all three of the main kids down!  Finally got there, Will, good on you!  At the professor’s crime scene, Buffy is looking for something that would link him to the Mayor, and Angel stumbles in and trips a bit.  I’m not describing it very well, but it’s a really subtly funny scene.  Usually Angel is so sneaky, it’s just really nice to see that he can be clumsy sometimes too.  His excuse is pretty great too.

“I think they were mopping in the halls.”

They get some evidence to take back to Giles, but get into a bit of an argument on the street.  Then, out of nowhere, Angel gets shot in the shoulder with a poison arrow by... who else?  Xander!  Nah, it’s Faith.  They take him back to the library, where they learn that the professor was excavating a large carcass which turned out to be the same kind of demon the Mayor is going to becoming, meaning he can be killed in his demon form.  Which begs the question... why become a demon?  That sounds awful.  Just be an immortal and invulnerable human.  I don’t get the motivation to become a giant snake creature.  Then Angel collapses and it’s sweet to see how Buffy, Giles, and Wesley rally to help him out.

Wesley is unsuccessful in convincing the Council to help, so Buffy basically fires Wesley and quits the Council for good.  See you on Angel, Wesley!  Buffy learns that the only cure for the poison is... slayer blood!  DUN DUN DUN!  Buffy quickly decides that she’ll just kill Faith.  Good!  I don’t like the whole moral quandary of “Oh she’s a human, however could I kill her?  I don’t kill people!!!”  If she’s a bad person, and you have the power to kill her... then do it.  It’s not really different than killing a demon or vampire.  That’s also a big part of Batman’s persona recently.  Kill the villain.  It gives the audience satisfaction!

Buffy gets Faith’s apartment address, puts on her leather fightin’ outfit.  God, Faith says “wicked” a lot and it’s wicked annoying.  Now comes the Buffy vs. Faith showdown that the season has been building up to for like eighteen episodes.  It’s one of the shows better fight scenes, although like most fight scenes, it’s easy to spot the stunt doubles.  They crash through a window and out onto the balcony of the building.  Eventually Buffy guts Faith with her own knife but she falls off the building onto a moving truck so that she can’t save Angel.

And that’s Part 1!  While I feel like the build-up in this episode is pretty great, I’m not quite as fond of the actual payoff.  It’s certainly not bad, but I see this two-parter listed as some of the best episodes of the series and I don’t agree with that.  It’s great, but not top ten material.