Author: Martina Fetzer

Netflix Hidden Gem #19: Tombstone

Tombstone Director: George Pan Cosmatos Genre: Western, Action Buena Vista Pictures I love a good western. The lawlessness, the duels, the barfights, the uninhibited drinking, smoking, and gambling, the old timey piano music. Westerns are everything our claustrophobic modern lives are not, thus providing a fabulous sense of escapism. There’s one problem, though. A lot of westerns are badly dated in their style, dialogue, and/or overtly racist and sexist content. As a result, I am always thrilled to have something a little more modern to watch. Note the qualification of “a little more modern.” Say hello to Tombstone. Released in...

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Crappymoviesaurus Vs. Megastandards: In Defense of Bad Movies

I should be ashamed. When I first found out about Sharknado, last year’s SyFy channel smash hit, my first thought wasn’t “Oh God, why?” or even an internal groan. It was that there must be a way to turn the sequel into a versus movie in the vein of Megashark vs. Giant Octopus or Mega Python vs. Gateroid. Then it hit me: Sharknado vs. Gatorcane. It would, of course, be about a hurricane that picked up genetically altered alligators as it passed over Florida and could only be stopped by a lab-formed sharknado. After I spent a few hours...

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A Million Ways to Die in the West

Overview: Seth MacFarlane moves from behind the camera to in front of it in this western parody. Universal Pictures; 2014; Rated R; 116 minutes. The Good: As someone who cannot stand Family Guy, I was pleasantly surprised by 2012’s Ted. I was once again surprised by A Million Ways to Die in the West as there are a lot of truly funny jokes in the movie. In particular, the gags related to the title are wonderful. There is a musical number that is a complete earworm (led by Neil Patrick Harris, of course), an amusing drug trip, and some...

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X-Men: Days of Future Past

Overview: Mutants in a dystopic future try to correct their past as Bryan Singer returns to the franchise he created and merges discordant continuities into something beautiful. 20th Century Fox; 2014; Rated PG-13; 131 minutes. The Good: It’s my pleasure to say that the series slump that occurred with X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine has all but faded from memory. Days of Future Past continues the streak of quality that First Class and The Wolverine initiated. It maintains the focus on character relationships that made those films good and adds action scenes that are actually interesting....

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Recasting Gone Right and Wrong

It happens all the time. Actors fight with their directors and quit or get fired. Budget constraints mean a high dollar star won’t be returning to a role. Family crises cause actors to drop out just before filming. Actors die mid-series. Sometimes it’s been decades and a movie is getting a reboot. Recasting is generally loathed by moviegoers, and there’s a good reason for that. Robin Curtis as Saavik in Star Trek III and IV lacked the charm and wit that made Kirstie Alley’s version of the character a success. The ever-changing ages and appearances of Audrey and Russ...

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The Most and Least Faithful Comic Book Adaptations

When it comes to film adaptations, faithfulness to source material is a tricky subject. On one hand, a movie has to resemble its source material or the core audience will be driven away. On the other, many things that work on paper don’t go over well on the big screen. It’s even trickier with comic book adaptations because many of the characters have been appearing in new stories for twenty, fifty, or seventy-five years straight. They’ve gone through innumerable transformations. There is no single book, for example, that defines Captain America. With that in mind, what I consider to...

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Spider-Man vs. Spider-Man: Who Does Whatever a Spider Can?

I’ve read a lot of comics, but I’ll be the first to admit that Spider-Man is not my area of expertise. That’s not due to a lack of interest; it’s just that a lot of Spider-Man comics are just plain terrible (clones, anyone?). The one thing that’s consistently not terrible, though, is the character himself. Peter Parker is one of the purest, most likeable characters in comics, and now that Andrew Garfield has had more than one crack at it, I think it’s time to compare his performance with Tobey Maguire’s to determine who makes the better Spidey. For...

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The Spirit

Overview: Frank Miller takes everything interesting about The Spirit and throws it in the trash, then spends an hour fantasizing about Eva Mendes. Lionsgate Films; 2008; Rated PG-13; 103 minutes. The Good: It’s a good thing Hollywood waited until Will Eisner was dead to produce this movie. The biggest positive note that I can offer is that he’ll never know what writer/director Frank Miller did to his most famous creation. I could also note that the style is visually striking, but being derivative of 300 and Sin City isn’t enough to save this abomination. The Bad: Where to begin? Will Eisner’s The Spirit is a comic that thrives on pathos; the characters’ struggles seem very real and the stories have a lot of heart. The film adaption, however, thrives on breasts: lots of breasts attached to mannequins posing as real characters. When these top heavy mannequins speak, they speak in soundbites.  They strike poses for the trailer and say, “Shut up and bleed!” and “Tell me, do I look like a good girl?” As if the hollow female characters weren’t enough, our only insight into The Spirit himself comes in the form of voice-overs and the only thing we learn is that Denny Colt likes his city.  I mean he really likes his city.  He  loves his city.  I’m pretty certain he wants to make love to his city. But...

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Sixteen Candles

Overview: Sam Baker experiences her worst day ever when her family forgets about her sixteenth birthday. Universal Pictures; 1984; Rated PG; 93 minutes. The Good: The thing that most separates Sixteen Candles from other coming-of-age teen angst films is the script. It’s hard to get teenagers right, and there’s a reason John Hughes was a master of doing just that. The dialogue never loses its punch, but it also avoids becoming so cutesy and clever that it’s unrealistic. The casting makes it even better. Molly Ringwald is obviously believable as the everygirl lead character (it’s what she became famous...

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X-Men: The Last Stand

Overview: Failing both on its own and as an adaptation, Brett Ratner’s entry into the X-Men franchise seems to go out of its way to be as terrible as possible. 20th Century Fox; 2006; Rated PG-13; 104 minutes. The Good: Finding something good to say about this movie requires a bit of a stretch, but if there are any bright spots, they lie in the performances of Kelsey Grammar as Beast and Famke Janssen as Jean Grey. There are seemingly dozens of new characters introduced in this film (more if you count each iteration of Jamie Madrox, the Multiple...

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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Overview: A high school senior plays hooky, and it’s more entertaining than it has any right to be. Paramount Pictures; 1986; PG-13; 102 minutes. The Good: John Hughes’s fourth outing as a director results in what might be his finest work. The premise is simple: Ferris convinces his uptight best friend Cameron to play hooky with him. Ferris’s girlfriend Sloane rounds out the group of truants, and they go on an adventure in Chicago. Their idea of a good time? Eating a nice meal, going to a parade, and watching a baseball game. That’s it. The result is completely...

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X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Overview: Because the first two X-Men movies didn’t show enough of Wolverine’s origin story, the character finally gets his own spin-off.  20th Century Fox; 2009; Rated PG-13; 107 minutes. The Good: This movie, unlike its immediate predecessor, at least tries to have character development. Does it succeed? Not really. The opening scene and credits are do a good job building up both the relationship between Wolverine and his brother Sabretooth and their inevitable falling out. Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber have good chemistry, and they make the first portion of the movie fairly enjoyable. The Bad: That first, good...

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