The Grouch on the Couch Rants: Holmes and Watson

BY THE GROUCH ON THE COUCH

I hate this movie too much to give it a stinger.

SUMMARY

Sherlock Holmes (Will “What the hell happened” Ferrell) and John Watson (John C. “Seriously, you guys are usually funny” Reilly) try to protect the queen from being murdered by James Moriarity (Ralph “God, I hope you got this in cash up front” Fiennes). Everything else that would potentially be plot is irrelevant crap.

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Shame on you.

END SUMMARY

Because of the bad reviews, I waited until I didn’t have to pay for this movie. I should have seen it in theaters so I would have actual damages for my impending tort claim against this film. This took up like 90 minutes of my life. 90 minutes I could have spent doing anything else. I could have watched Plan 9 From Outer Space, because at least that’s the FUN kind of bad. This film somehow was never even close to amusing.

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Oh wow, a selfie joke. This is groundbreaking.

I have never seen a movie this aggressively unfunny. Even the parts of this movie that seem like they SHOULD be funny, particularly given the relatively high-level comedians who are found in the cast, somehow become irritating and flat. Part of it is that the film never feels like it’s surprising the audience. The more obvious the joke, the more likely it’s going to be what’s said next, so why do we even need them to say it? There’s an episode of South Park where Stan starts to see that everything around him is actually crap, envisioning bad films as filled with talking and dancing turds. This film was taken from that episode, then given brain damage from a series of sledgehammer blows to the head, then set on fire by crackheads. This movie makes me almost want to apologize to Uwe Boll for the things I’ve said about him. Almost.

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The marketing is them doing this. THIS WAS WHAT WAS SUPPOSED TO GET PEOPLE TO SEE THIS FILM.

It’s tough to really nail down everything that doesn’t work here, but if I had to say why I particularly hate it, it’s that nobody in the film appears to be trying. Ferrell and Reilly don’t appear to be invested in any part of this, going through the motions almost robotically without any of their added flair. In 2015, Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig appeared in a movie for Lifetime called A Deadly Adoption in which they both play actual Lifetime characters with complete sincerity, the “joke” being that Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig both played straight characters in a Lifetime film. A lot of critics agreed that wasn’t really funny. I actually thought it was kind of amusing, because at least it was original to spend all the time and effort to create a comedy set-up and then play it straight. I would respect this movie it was going for something like that. It wouldn’t be fun, sure, but it would at least have shown that they were trying.

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Give this a shot if you’re drunk.

What’s extremely weird about the movie is that it can never decide what any of the characters are. It’s like they had 3 different drafts of the movie which each had completely different interpretations of Holmes and Watson and they decided to use all of them. Holmes is portrayed simultaneously as a legitimate genius, a complete idiot, and also an insane person. This isn’t like in Without a Clue or They Might Be Giants where the character is supposed to be completely separate from the actual fictional Sherlock Holmes, thus explaining why they’re not actually good detectives. This movie features Sherlock being honored as one of the most superior minds in the world, something that just doesn’t sync with watching him constantly fumbling around doing slapstick. Watson, who at least can be characterized as a bumbling sidekick, is therefore forced to drop down in intelligence to the point of being a complete fool, despite still ALSO being a recognized figure for his work with Holmes. I think this is why this particular strain of comedic take on Holmes doesn’t quite work. You can’t have both of them be simultaneously competent and incompetent. That’s not to say that films haven’t pulled that off, in fact The Private Eyes with Tim Conway and Don Knotts does it with a pair of detectives, but it only works there because the entire world of the movie is absurd. This film can never decide how serious it is supposed to be and that makes for a lousy comedy.

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They made this movie better 40 years ago.

The supporting characters suffer from similar problems, such as Holmes’s and Watson’s love interests Dr. Hart and the Feral Millie (Rebecca Hall and Lauren Lapkus), who are completely absurd except when they aren’t. Similar things happen with the villain *SPOILERS BUT F*CK THIS MOVIE*, Mrs. Hudson (Kelly Macdonald), who is revealed to be the mastermind of a brilliant scheme that is also pointlessly complicated and dumb. Seriously, these are all good people, and none of them could get a chuckle out of me. 

I will say that one thing did make me laugh: There’s a scene on the Titanic with Billy Zane, and that’s a fun cameo. That’s about it.

Avoid this movie like the plague. I cannot believe the same person that wrote Idiocracy and Tropic Thunder wrote this. Someone should genuinely check on Etan Cohen to make sure he’s okay. I know all of these people will do better in the future, but this… this was rough. That’s about all I can say.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

C is for Cannibalism and Captain America PART 2: Civil War – The one with Spider-Man, not Slavery

Read Part 1 Here.

Cinema

Before we start: I am only going by the Marvel Cinematic Universe Captain America and Iron Man so that you don’t have to read 70 years of comics to understand this article and I don’t have to deal with all the people pulling counter-examples from stupid crap writers have done to the characters, like building an extrajudicial prison which basically trapped people in a perpetual nightmare (Iron Man) or accidentally taking a ton of meth  and pretending to be a chicken (Captain America). I’m mostly going to be focused on the film Captain America: Civil War, but, I’m also going to have to address the Endgame in the room, meaning spoilers for the MCU through that. If you haven’t seen any of them, you’re okay, I’m gonna summarize the important parts.

Sometimes the movie poster says it all. (Insert poster image underneath. Remember to delete this reminder before posting. Remember this commentary is not funny no matter how meta.)

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Two heroes standing in conflict over their deeply-held ideals. A shield for protecting the innocent against a weapon for punishing the guilty. Two hours of fighting and the audience is left with both sides still believing that they’re doing the right thing. Both sides have points that support their opinions and both sides have disadvantages that they know they have to address. Ultimately, they never really determine what the right answer is, as the coming of Thanos renders the whole thing moot and bigger fish had to be fried. So, why did everyone pick the side they did? Well, let’s take a look through the lens and see what the movies tell us up to this point.

Concession

Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), the invincible Iron Man, spent three solo movies and one Avengers film proving that he is the absolute last person who should have the ability to act as an international agent of justice. In all three of his movies and Age of Ultron, he either A) creates the villain, B) gives the villain the technology they need to be effective, or C) there is no third option because he’s literally that bad at his job. And that’s completely in line with his character. Tony doesn’t have strong moral principles to shape his actions. Instead, he views everything in terms of solvable problems because, above all things, he’s an engineer. That works fine almost every time, particularly when you’re a super-genius but, like Oppenheimer and Nobel before him, sometimes he doesn’t really consider the possible consequences of his actions. So, after he almost lost the love of his life to a villain he’d empowered and his creation Ultron almost destroyed Earth, Tony was finally ready to accept that, maybe, he needed someone else to watch over his decisions.

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He literally gave a sociopath superpowers while drunk.

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans and his muscles) learned the opposite lesson. In the first Captain America movie, he learned that the US was planning on abandoning probable POWs behind enemy lines (which is a thing that happens in war) so he risks his life to rescue them, believing that his way is right above the Army’s. In The Avengers, a shadowy group almost nukes Manhattan as a solution to an alien invasion that the group was, at that point, dealing with pretty successfully. In Winter Soldier, Cap learns that HYDRA, the secret Nazi cabal that he thought he beat in WWII, has actually infiltrated the American secret agency S.H.I.E.L.D. and all but taken them over. So, the one organization that he trusted to safeguard America and tell him where to go and who to fight was run by the last people who should have been doing that. So, Steve learned a valuable lesson about not giving too much of your own power up to groups.

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Yeah, when you realize you’re accidentally helping Nazis, it changes things.

They’d managed to deal with these differences up until the point where Captain America and his… mini-Avengers? I’m going with mini-Avengers… mini-Avengers went into a sovereign nation and accidentally blew up a building containing a number of humanitarian workers from another country. Was it all their fault? Oh, hell no. Did it save lives? Almost certainly. Was it the right thing to do? Well, that’s what the rest of the movie is about.

Clash

If you think what Cap did was absolutely correct, let’s flip the scenario around. Let’s suppose a paramilitary group from Lagos (country picked at random) comes into the United States, armed, and uses military force to stop a robbery but incurs collateral casualties. Was that okay? Well, if not, why not? Oh, right, because every country on Earth has a sovereign right over anything that happens within their borders. That’s literally what they’re there for. However, the Avengers (and S.H.I.E.L.D.) pretty much ignore that all the time because it’s inconvenient for the films…  and it would be inconvenient for them to deal with customs.

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People have suggested wars over DRONES being shot down.

The movie Civil War has General Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt) outline that, even between films, going into other countries without permission is exactly what the Avengers do and basically no one on Earth has any control over them. So, the United Nations proposes the Sokovia Accords, an international agreement which would create a branch of the UN to oversee the Avengers. Tony agrees with the Accords, because he believes that the Avengers need to be accountable and have oversight. Steve doesn’t agree with them because he believes that A) they would limit the effectiveness of the team, B) the people above them would also have agendas which would shape how the team is used, and C) that would put his personal actions at the disposal of others. So, we have a huge fight over this which blows up an airport and drags a teenager in as a soldier, with all of this supposedly orchestrated by a pissed-off soldier who lost his family to the Avengers’ actions in Age of Ultron.

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Admittedly, an awesome fight scene, but extremely forced.

Now, consider this for a second: what if all of this was completely f*cking stupid because they both know the other is also right and that there are practical solutions that would address both of their problems? Oh, right, that would have been a boring movie. It would also have been accurate, because the idea of a vigilante group with no accountability acting internationally and leaving huge amounts of collateral damage is not a thing we should debate. It’s fundamentally against the entire concept of national sovereignty, almost every international agreement in history, and, oh yeah, almost every anti-terrorist resolution. How do you think America would feel if a group of Chinese superheroes showed up and blew up a city block in the name of “stopping crime?” Or just one flew in wearing a suit of armor and just killed a bunch of citizens he deemed to be “terrorists.” Hell, how about just trying to bring the firepower equivalent of a small army into another country? Smaller things have started wars, not conversations. (Full credit to the Russo brothers, however, for having both main characters be in emotionally vulnerable states so that the ensuing plot is more justifiable.)

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Oh, and he flies into another country to murder people with a TANK-BUSTING MISSILE.

Imagine if everyone thought that it was okay for them to beat the hell out of cops for trying to arrest a suspected terrorist just because they believe their friend is innocent or that it was okay to steal a multi-billion-dollar fighter jet. Because that’s what Cap does in the film. Captain America is absolutely in the wrong not just for doing these things, but even for his assertion that it’s okay for him to do them… except for the part where he’s Captain America. Steve Rogers is a moral juggernaut. He will ALWAYS make the right decision, morally, when he is presented with it. He is accountable to himself, something that is a much higher standard than any law or nation. So, when he decides he has to intervene in a situation, it’s basically a certainty that it is a situation in which he is right to intervene. If everyone held themselves to his standards of personal responsibility and morality, laws would be unnecessary, because people would be answerable to a higher authority. The Doctor from Doctor Who said it in the catchiest way possible “Good men don’t need rules.”

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If you’re not one of these Misters Rogers, you probably need some form of rules to guide you.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world filled with Captain America-level saints. In fact, I’d say that people of his level of personal accountability are like a virgin prostitute. Hypothetically, one exists, but I’d be very surprised if you can find one and if you think you are one, you’ve more likely misunderstood at least one fundamental concept. So, because of that, we have to put rules and systems of enforcement in place to hold people accountable for actions which cannot be allowed in a social setting. These range from things like “you can’t take stuff that isn’t yours” to things like “necessity cannot be a defense for murder.” If you don’t agree with these rules, there are ways to change them within the system, but that doesn’t give you the right to ignore them.

However, sometimes situations aren’t going to fit into the mold that the creators of these rules conceived of, and they’re going to become a hindrance. For example, “don’t kill anyone” becomes a problem when someone else is going to kill your family and you don’t reasonably have the ability to non-lethally prevent them. Sometimes, we craft exceptions directly into the laws (more on that later this week), but sometimes we haven’t thought of those exceptions yet or even putting an exception in fundamentally conflicts with a bigger principle. On those occasions, people are faced with a choice: Break the rule to serve a higher good or follow the rule and allow the bad to happen.

Conscience

If the Sokovia Accords had been implemented, this would have been the choice Captain America is saying he’d have to make constantly: To hope the UN would allow him to intervene in situations or to ignore the UN and do it anyway and deal with the legal consequences. If only there were some kind of thing that the UN could put into the system which would allow them to deem certain actions worthy of foregoing punishment based on the context in when they were taken. If only some handsome bastard had put that thing in the title to a series whereby he relates it through pop-culture.

'Avengers: Infinity War' film premiere, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 23 Apr 2018
No, not that handsome bastard, though he’ll come up later.

 

While the real UN doesn’t have any actual ability to pardon people (due to the nature of the organization), they also don’t do anything that’s like the Sokovia Accords (though, they could). Additionally, there is nothing preventing a commission or group being able to encourage or force clemency (which, while a little different, is the typical term for a pardon around the globe) within a nation as part of their signature on the Sokovia Accords. Countries routinely give up some of their sovereign authority in exchange for a benefit from the UN. We literally have clemency laws in place in almost every country on Earth already, because we know this is what can happen. So, countries might be giving up a little bit of their ability to enforce their own laws, but, in exchange, they get the benefits of having the Avengers be able to respond to threats. Seems like a reasonable trade in a world of alien gods and killer robots. So, Captain America could, if he disagreed with the UN, still act, with the understanding that, if they agree that it was justified afterwards, he would be able to avoid being punished and NOT have to be a fugitive.

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Admittedly, the UN doesn’t have a great track record on most peacekeeping matters.

Even simpler, you could just make conditions in which the Avengers could respond and the permission could be decided retroactively after the intervention, without any form of punishment if the action is in good faith. Hell, under certain circumstances, you can ask for a warrant up to 24 hours after you should need it, and that’s NOT dealing with supervillains. And yet, nobody in the movie points out this would be an easy way to both hold the Avengers accountable and also allow Captain America to act when he feels it’s appropriate. This wouldn’t even require extra clemency decisions, though that could also be incorporated into the system.

But all of this is in the world of fantasy, where the point becomes moot when Angry Grimace steals the rocks of plot convenience. When would you ever need to address concepts like this in the real world? Has anything ever actually been brought up like this? Does anyone have a guess about what the next entry is about? 

Don’t eat anybody, I’ll see you in two weeks.

If you want to check out some more by the Grouch on the Couch, check out his page. If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

C is for Captain America and Cannibalism: On the Pardon

PART 1: Tastes like Chicken

Crunch

Tell me if you know this story: Four guys are trapped on a boat for days. When they’re finally rescued, there are no longer four guys on the boat. Turns out, when you get hungry and thirsty enough, certain things stop being “unconscionable” and certain people stop being “inedible.” In this case, it was a cabin boy by the name of Richard Parker.

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Looney Tunes made us forget how horrifying this would really be.

What’s crazy about this story is that you could have heard it from the Edgar Allan Poe novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket or from the real-life incident following the crash of the English yacht Mignonette. In both cases, the ship sank and the survivors ate Richard Parker. You might think Poe was ripping from the headlines, but Poe published his book more than 40 years before the real-life incident in 1883. Add in Life of Pi and I’m pretty sure having a Richard Parker on any kind of watercraft means you’re screwed.

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Sadly, the real tale didn’t inspire a book by Jules Verne.

In the version that’s filed under non-fiction, there were originally four men on the boat: Captain Dudley, Seamen Stephens and Brooks, and the 17-year-old Parker. According to the survivors’ accounts, the vessel was taken down by a wave that didn’t seem strong enough to do any damage, let alone take half of the bulwark off. Since “going down with the ship” seemed like a bad idea, they lowered the lifeboat and, grabbing a few navigational supplies and two tins of turnips, were now stranded about 1600 miles from shore. After roughly fifteen days without fresh water, and only a small turtle’s worth of meat, Parker tried drinking seawater and became sick. Three days later, he became nearly comatose. Feeling like they were out of options, Dudley decided it was time to have “the talk.”

P1 - 3News

Brooks flat-out refused, but Stephens was open to it. After Brooks went to sleep, Dudley approached Stephens directly about eating Parker. By his own testimony, the main thing he said to sway Stephens was that he and Stephens had wives and families, but Parker was an orphan. He also pointed out that if Parker died naturally, they couldn’t drink his blood for hydration. Since they had so many people relying on them and the comatose kid had no one, the traditional maritime rule about “drawing lots” seemed stupid. The next day, Dudley stabbed Parker in the neck with a pen knife, bleeding him to death. The three proceeded to eat him, with Brooks admitting he wouldn’t pass up survival even if he didn’t approve of killing someone. The next day, they finally caught some rainwater, allowing them to regain their strength before being rescued three days later.

Courts

Naturally, there was a bit of a conflict over their actions, legally speaking. On the one hand, it wasn’t exactly unheard of for this to happen when people were floating on the ocean for weeks at a time. Even after charges were brought against Dudley and Stephens, Dudley was confident that they were going to be dropped, because there was precedent saying that necessity could be a defense to murder in cases like this. On the other hand, they almost certainly would still have survived if they hadn’t killed Parker. They also didn’t follow the Maritime “rule” about drawing lots, meaning that Dudley and Stephens had directly conspired to kill a man, rather than just having a person be “sacrificed.”

The charges didn’t end up dropping.

Instead, they went on trial and, as expected, argued that, at the time they did it, they had to kill Parker or die themselves, making them not guilty by necessity. What wasn’t expected was that the Court responded with “nah, f*ck that.” The Court instead pointed out that people will always argue that they felt they had to commit the crime, but that, if the Court said that was an excuse, then they were making a fundamentally wrong thing legally right. The State should never establish a law saying that it’s okay to kill someone who isn’t a dire threat.  

It must not be supposed that in refusing to admit temptation to be an excuse for crime it is forgotten how terrible the temptation was; how awful the suffering; how hard in such trials to keep the judgment straight and the conduct pure. We are often compelled to set up standards we cannot reach ourselves, and to lay down rules which we could not ourselves satisfy. But a man has no right to declare temptation to be an excuse, though he might himself have yielded to it, nor allow compassion for the criminal to change or weaken in any manner the legal definition of the crime.

So, the Court found them guilty and sentenced them to death. However, there’s a line in the ruling that would probably be overlooked except for what happened next:

…if in any case the law appears to be too severe on individuals, to leave it to the Sovereign to exercise that prerogative of mercy which the Constitution has intrusted [sic] to the hands fittest to dispense it.

Yeah, that’s the Court saying “here’s the principle we’re enforcing, but sometimes people are gonna get screwed by it, and we have a way to fix that.” So, a few days later, the men had their sentences commuted by Queen Victoria through her Home Secretary William Harcourt to a mere six months in jail. This was actually considered pretty harsh by Dudley and Stephens, but, again, they ate a guy.

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At the risk of losing readers, this publication is strongly anti-cannibal.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why we have clemency (forgiveness of punishment) and the pardon (absolution of guilt). Because sometimes you have to put a rule in place that upholds a really important principle like “you can’t just say I really wanted to murder that guy” or “you can’t just whip out your dick to strangers (more on that this week),” but sometimes these rules can, justifiably, be broken. In those cases, we need a mechanism in place so that someone can look at the case and go “yes, you broke the law, but you probably shouldn’t be punished.”

So, stick with me through this series while I go into the workings of the pardon, when it should be used, who it should be used on, how we’ve managed to f*ck it up, and why Captain America and Iron Man fought the most pointless ideological war that ever had to be undone for a sequel.  

Don’t eat anybody, I’ll see you in two weeks.

If you want to check out some more by the Grouch on the Couch, check out his page. If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Grouch on the Couch Rants: Hellboy (2019) – The Devil Made ‘Em Screw It

The Hellboy remake can go straight to Boy. I tried harder writing that joke than the people who wrote this movie. 

SUMMARY

Hellboy (David Harbour) is a demon hunter who also is a demon or a half-demon or something like that. Whatever, he’s big, he’s red, and his right arm looks like it was pulled off of a different action figure and glued on. He works for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, an organization that fights all the stuff that you traditionally find in those creepy German fairy tales preying on children: Ogres, giants, witches, Ted Nugent, etc. The BPRD is led by Hellboy’s adoptive father Trevor Bruttenholm (Ian “C*cksucker” McShane), who found Hellboy after he was summoned by Nazis and Grigori Rasputin (Markos Routhwaite) back in 1945 and elected not to kill him despite the fact that Hellboy was summoned to bring about Ragnarok. 

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The right hand of doom.

After killing a Mexican Vampire (Mario de la Rosa) who tells him the end is coming, Hellboy is sent to hunt giants with the Osiris Club, a bunch of rich English guys who have been doing this since knights were en vogue. They quickly stab Hellboy in the back and try to kill him to prevent the apocalypse and he falls into a river.

At the same time, a boar-man named Gruagach (Stephen Graham/Douglas Tait) beseeches the Baba Yaga (Troy James/Emma Tate), the Russian Witch, for a way to get revenge on Hellboy. We’re later told that this is because Hellboy stopped him from being able to switch places with a baby and be raised human. Baba Yaga tells him to find the pieces of the witch Nimue (Milla Jovovich) and put them together, which apparently isn’t hard because there are only like 7 pieces, instead of the hundreds that you’d think a body would end up in over 1500 f*cking years. Seriously, why do all these damned “separated body parts” stories keep the number so small rather than just having the caretakers go “oh hey, another year passed, let’s cut another piece off and throw it into a new mine shaft?” This is why Voldemort’s an idiot.

Hellboy - 2Nimue.jpg
Also, she lost to people 1500 years ago, why would she do better now?

Whatever. Hellboy gets out of the river, because of f*cking course he does, only to find out that apparently there actually were giants that easily killed the giant hunters. Hellboy kills them in what is admittedly a pretty cool fight scene, but then the movie has to keep going by having him pass out as a young woman named Alice (Sasha Lane) arrives. She saves Hellboy, revealing that she’s a medium and also the baby Hellboy saved from Gruagach. The BPRD shows up to tell Hellboy that the last piece of Nimue is in the custody of the Osiris Club, who have now been massacred. It’s also revealed that Nimue wants Hellboy to kickstart the end of days, because that’s what they always want him to do in these movies. He’s joined by a werejaguar named Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim), who has secret orders from M11, the British BPRD, to kill Hellboy if he needs to. 

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I recommend just watching this scene, or a better film.

Hellboy gets transported to Baba Yaga’s house, who hates Hellboy for taking her eye, offers to tell Hellboy Nimue’s location in exchange for one of his eyes. Hellboy cheats her, resulting in her cursing him, because we need an emotional thing later. The heroes head to the location and kill a bunch of witches, but Nimue’s back because movie’s gotta movie. She poisons Alice, but Hellboy goes and wakes up Merlin to cure her, who also offers Hellboy the way to Excalibur, because apparently he’s descended from King Arthur through his mother. Hellboy passes, however, despite it being the weapon that cut Nimue apart in the first place. Also, almost no version of the Arthurian myth has Arthur leave a surviving royal lineage, and the ones that do mostly say that the Pendragon line only produces male heirs, so I’m calling bullshit on this “descended from Arthur through his mother” crap. 

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Yeah… this isn’t as awesome as you’d think it would have to be.

Merlin the Plot Device dies and so do most of the supporting characters. The key characters fight Nimue in a church, like one does. Hellboy kills Gruagach and falls into a pit containing Excalibur, rendering Hellboy’s earlier decision pointless. He refuses to pull it out until Nimue kills Bruttenholm, completing Baba Yaga’s curse. Hellboy pulls the sword, which starts the apocalypse for some reason, until he kills Nimue, because cliche hero’s gotta cliche hero. Later, they find Abe Sapien, which is too little too late for this film.

END SUMMARY

Thank goodness the third season of Stranger Things came out, because I would hate for a movie like this to hurt David Harbour’s career. Actually, his portrayal of Hellboy was one of the only good things in the film. He conveys a lot more complex emotions than the dialogue allows, he looks great as Hellboy, he’s completely distinct from the version of Hellboy in the other films without feeling like a betrayal of the character, and also he feels like he’s actually giving the film effort. I love Ian McShane in general, but from his narration at the beginning of the movie, I thought he was phoning it in. Given the quality of dialogue he was reading I can’t quite blame him, but still, at least Harbour tried to make lemonade out of the pile of lemon-scented dung that they gave him to work with. Daniel Dae Kim, an actor I normally like, also seemed checked out, like he was upset that he was the second choice for the role after Ed Skrein backed out over the whitewashing of the character.  I didn’t see American Honey, so I have no idea if this was above or below average for Sasha Lane. Milla Jovovich… well, she was Leeloo, she gets a pass from me. What kind of pass? If you can’t answer that, punch yourself in the head and go watch The Fifth Element.

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The acting really isn’t the problem, compared to the story and the dialogue. The story feels like it was cobbled together from a bunch of different scripts precisely because it WAS exactly that. This movie adapts like three or four different plotlines from the Hellboy comics and that’s kind of a mistake out of the gate. Not only are those all fairly long plots to work in, they’re also from comics that occurred pretty far into Hellboy’s run, where the series didn’t have to worry about establishing characters or trying to quickly convey how they’d previously interacted. Even more, the film had to convey how the world you’re building is different than the only previous one we’d seen in the medium, and it’s quite a bit different from both the previous movie and the comic. A big difference is the presence of Hellboy on Earth. In the Guillermo del Toro films, Hellboy is a well-kept secret. In the comics, he’s the world’s most famous supernatural investigator. Here, he’s sort of in-between, not in hiding but also not publicly super recognized. So, basically, this film had to distinguish itself, establish a world, convey a complicated story, explain the history of the characters, and also kick-ass at the same time. That can be pulled off (like Into the Spider-Verse did), but it requires a great script and some efficient storytelling. This was not that script.

Hellboy - 6Lobster
Even putting Thomas Haden Church as Lobster Johnson didn’t help.

It’s difficult for me to pick exactly when I realized I was probably going to hate this film, but since it was during the flashback that opens the movie, I’d say it was about 25 seconds in when Ian McShane is throwing in some random “f*cks” to remind people what the rating is. However, I can absolutely say when I realized that I definitely was going to hate the film, and that’s when Hellboy delivered the line “if my face could talk it would disagree with you.” That line is so terrible and delivered with such unearned confidence in its quality that I just about vomited. Everything after that wasn’t much of an improvement, but my standards had hit “The Room without ironic pleasure” at that point, so I couldn’t care.

Hellboy - 7Room
Did Tommy Wiseau write this film? No, because I’d have enjoyed that.

I also pretty much gave up hope of any redemption in how the plot was going to play out when the knights stab Hellboy in the back and ask him “we’ve been doing this for a thousand years, you didn’t really think we’d need your help, did you?” This is stupid on several levels. First, why didn’t Hellboy ask himself that, particularly given that they explain the history of the hunt before setting off? Second, it turns out that the giants are real and they quickly massacre the knights, so they DID need his help and they could have killed him after he helped them kill the giants. Third, their plan was to blame the giants for his disappearance so that Bruttenholm wouldn’t notice, but Hellboy kills all of them single-handedly while heavily wounded, so it seems like it would have been suspicious anyway. I’d say that hey might not know that he’s that strong, but they’ve been studying him for 60 years. Fourth, why even take him on a real hunt if you’re just going to kill him? You’re doing it to prevent the apocalypse, couldn’t you have thought of a ruse that would be more likely to kill him? Fifth, you decapitate giants, but you think you can drown a freaking demon? Lastly, this entire act pretty much ends up doing nothing, as it has almost no impact on the rest of the story, meaning it was pointless. 

AND THAT’S MOST OF THE MOVIE. Something kind of easily preventable happens, Hellboy kind of deals with it, but then his decisions are rendered pointless by circumstances so that they can get to the next plot point. 

This movie sucks. David Harbour is pretty good and some of the fights look neat, but everything else is poorly executed. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Rick and Mondays – Until Season 4

So, as many of you are probably aware, Season 4 of Rick and Morty isn’t coming out until November. In the interim, Rick and Mondays will be replaced by another entry in the Grouch on the Couch’s ABCs entitled –

C is for Captain America and Cannibalism – On the Pardon

If you’re wondering what happened to the entry for B, when asked about it, the Grouch pulled a .45 and mentioned that if I asked again, the B would stand for Bullet. Based on the advice of a doctor, I believe that getting shot is not conducive to a successful blog, so I let him skip to C. However, as a compromise, I did also convince him to watch the Hellboy reboot and review it, so expect that tomorrow. Unrelated – if anyone could warn the producers of that film that if a fat, angry man wearing red and black wants to “speak” with them, they should probably call security. Thanks.

Grouch’s Netflix Review – The Silence: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love A Quiet Place

Netflix released this movie and, appropriately, seemed to mostly keep quiet about it, because it is like getting stung by tiny, irritating things.

SUMMARY

Some scientists find a bunch of small winged creatures, referred to as “vesps” (Latin for Wasps) because the writers quit thinking after the first Google result for “Small flying things.” The creatures are attracted to sound, ravenous, and proportionally pretty strong.

TheSilence - 1Vesp
Editors note: In Florida, the mosquitoes remain a bigger threat. 

Ally (Kiernan Shipka) is a late-in-life deaf girl (having lost her hearing in a car accident) who never acts like she’s deaf. At all. Because of that, it will be brought up repeatedly to remind the audience that, yes, this character cannot hear. She lives with her parents, Hugh and Kelly (Stanley “Yes, I agreed to this” Tucci and Miranda “Whoa, I agreed to this?” Otto), her grandmother (Kate Trotter), her brother Jude (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf), and a dog who, because story demands it, barks at everything.

TheSilence - 2Cast
Patient Zero and then this, eh Stanley? YOU HAVE 3 EMMYS.

They are all in the city as the Vesps start to go through the US, killing anything that makes noise. The government tells everyone to stay indoors and quiet, but Ally says they should head for the countryside, which is quieter. Glenn (John Corbett), Hugh’s best friend who is randomly there, joins them. However, shortly after finding a massive traffic jam composed of all the other people who got the same idea, Glenn goes off-roading and crashes, attracting vesps. Glenn sacrifices himself to save the family who is being attacked because the dog won’t stop barking. They sacrifice the dog and make it to a house in the countryside. The owner conveniently dies because they didn’t hear the news. The family sneaks in through a storm drain, but Kelly gets bitten by vesps. Hugh kills them by turning on a woodchipper and leading them to fly into it, proving conclusively how dumb this movie is.

TheSilence - 3WoodChipper.png
41. This kills 41 of them as far as I can tell. WHY AREN’T YOU JUST RUNNING IT ALL THE TIME?

Ally contacts her new boyfriend, Rob (Dempsey Bryk), a guy who knows ASL, who reveals that his parents are dead. He also reveals that cults have started to spring up that involve cutting their own tongues out. I remind you that this is only a few days into the attacks. Kelly’s leg gets infected, so they have to rip-off The Day After Tomorrow and go on an antibiotic run. It’s revealed that Vesps lay eggs in corpses, something that sure seems inconvenient for a species that apparently didn’t have contact with anything else for at least hundreds of years. It’s also revealed that they’re weak to cold.

TheSilence - 4Music.png
Thank God you told me. I was thinking “Jubilant.”

A reverend (Billy MacLellan) and his cult who Ally had refused to join earlier show up at the house, interested in impregnating Ally, because bad guy is bad. Hugh shows them a gun, something that, when fired, would probably result in everyone’s death by Vesps, which leads the cult to leave. Rob reveals there’s a “refuge” to the North. The cult sends over a little girl strapped with phones in what is one of the only legitimately clever moments in the film, activating them to summon the Vesps. The cultists run in and abduct Ally, but Lynn kills several of them by tackling them and shouting to attract the Vesps, sacrificing herself, after which the family manages to kill almost all of the other cultists. They make their way north to the refuge where Ally finds Rob and they go Vesp hunting with bows and arrows, where Ally wonders if humans will get used to silence before the Vesps get used to cold.

TheSilence - 5CorpseBabies.png
This reproduction makes no sense. At all. 

END SUMMARY

A Quiet Place is a great movie. It’s one of the few films where sound really does have a massive effect both on the story and the audience. The sense of terror that occurs throughout the movie is basically its own tinnitus ringing. At the same time, we are watching a family go through an internal upheaval from the loss of a child that they are dealing with just as much as the external upheaval. It gives us a way to connect emotionally with the characters that makes everything they’re going through feel just real enough to make us want to suspend disbelief to the rest of the story, and some disbelief definitely has to be suspended. The monsters in A Quiet Place are terrifying not only because they’re fast, but because they are unstoppable. Despite that, at the end of the film, in order to give the characters an arc and some hope, they are revealed to have a weakness. Realistically, this opens up a lot of holes in the idea that they destroyed humanity’s resistance so easily, because that means that no one thought to use sound against the monsters who can only use sound to navigate. I mean, we have ultrasonic weapons already, so apparently every military and police force on the Earth is pretty dumb in that world. But, the movie is so good that you don’t think about stuff like that until you’ve left the theater and ruminated. A lot of movies have similar issues in retrospect, but if you aren’t noticing the flaws until you’re at home, the film’s experience was still effective, so that’s still a quality film.

This film drives home its flaws at almost every chance.

TheSilence - 6Arrows.png
The Narration is one of the biggest flaws, especially over this scene.

First, Kiernan Shipka. I know that the Joker loves her in the new Sabrina series (MJH forever!) and I loved her in Mad Men, but dear God do I never, ever, ever, at any f*cking point believe she’s a deaf person. At several points she seems to react to things that are happening behind her. I understand she’s not totally deaf, but even when stuff doesn’t seem loud enough to get to her, she still jumps and turns, unless the plot demands she doesn’t. Also, if she’s reacting to people reacting to the other thing, then she should be a half-second behind everyone else. Second, the monsters in this movie are crap. They’re tiny flying dinosaurs, something that SHOULD be cool, but there are so many massive flaws with them that the movie points out. Yes, there are a lot of them and they breed somewhat quickly, but they’re vulnerable to basically everything and they can’t get through most structures. You can kill them with a bow and arrow or block them with a suit of armor, let alone a tank, and you can force them to blindly fly into anything loud. If you just threw a ton of firecrackers onto a bonfire, they’d burn themselves to death trying to eat the fireworks. I can understand why it might take a few days to get things under control, but it just doesn’t seem like it’s really an “apocalypse” level threat.

TheSilence - 3WoodChipper
Forty. One. In like 15 seconds. 

Third, the cult subplot is just so damned nonsensical. We find out that these cults are popping up everywhere only a few days, maybe a few weeks, after the vesps appear. To give you an idea of where society is at that point, we still have the internet. It gets even worse when you consider that these people just cut their tongues out, but they still make noise. I mean, cool, you stopped yourself from being articulate, but the monsters still want to eat you. Hell, the Reverend growls at people.

TheSilence - 8Reverend.png
It’s SO HARD to find him threatening. Or even interesting.

This movie might have been in production before A Quiet Place came out, so maybe they didn’t start out with the goal of making a mediocre knock-off, but that’s damn well what happened. It’s not compelling enough to distract me from the logical flaws, and it’s not visually or aurally interesting. I mean, Stanley Tucci couldn’t make me like this film. What else is there to say?

TheSilence - 7Signs.png
Also, who SPRAY PAINTS their message of nihilism about a sound-based plague?

JOKER’S REBUTTAL

I didn’t really care for the movie either, but a few points. One, Stanley Tucci is always amazing. Two, Kiernan Shipka actually learned ASL to do the movie and that’s dedication. Three, adding an element of societal collapse driving people crazy does at least flesh out the world a little bit.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Aquaman – A Review in Rime

By The Grouch on the Couch

Well, the Grouch and I saw the film. While I was going to write a review, he felt particularly inspired and decided to go ahead and do the entire thing in a parody of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

My rebuttal shall be in the form of short limericks. I don’t promise that they’ll work.

 

There was an aquatic superhero

Long mocked for powers and logo.

Producers they decided,

To make him badass through Khal Drogo.

aquaman - 1arthur
Which… yeah, kinda works.

 

But fortune favors not the brave but wise,

And wisdom doth DC lack

For though his hot body might carry a film

This dialogue breaks his back.

 

I start with a story summary

As clear as a winter morning.

And so you assholes don’t complain,

HERE’S YOUR SPOILER WARNING.

aquaman - 2warning

Aquaman, or Arthur Curry,

was born from the strange love

Between a queen from Atlantis below,

And a lighthouse keeper from the world above.

aquaman - 3kidman
Batman Forever was the better superhero film for her. Think about that.

But happiness is forbidden,

When you tell a hero’s genesis,

So soon she was forced to return,

And bear Prince Orm, Arthur’s Nemesis

aquaman - 4orm
They have very different opinions on facial hair.

Following the Justice League’s

Victory in their movie,

Aquaman’s a public hero

That makes the fangirls, and guys, woozy.

 

The opening action sequence

Is actually quite glorious

A bulletproof man fighting normal people

And emerging, smiling and victorious.

aquaman - 5mana
The normal men who try to fight a demigod.

Arthur saves a submarine, the target which

Sea pirates would acquire.

He meets the leader, called Black Manta,

And earns his eternal ire.

 

When Arthur returns to the surface,

He finds Mera, Atlantean Queen

Who tells him his half-brother

Has grown up to be quite mean.

aquaman - 6amberheard

Orm wishes to destroy the surface,

Because the movie needs a plot,

And he needs the support of other sea-kings,

For reasons I forgot.

 

Arthur tries to beat him in a fight

Using their aquatic power

But Orm is slightly stronger

Cuz it’s only been an hour

aquaman - dolph
Dolph Lundgren is one of the other kings. As it should be.

So Mera stops Orm’s fratricide

And says Arthur needs to Quest

For the First Trident of Atlantis

While each ogles the other’s chest.

 

What follows is a fetch quest

That takes a f*cking hour,

And of course the twist is “talks to fish”

Ends up being the greatest power.

Aquaman - 7Atlan.jpg
He basically gets to summon Cthulhu.

He goes through the Sahara,

Defeats Manta in Sicily

Swims below the Marianas Trench

And into an underground sea.

 

Arthur finds the trident

And kicks his brother’s ass

While wearing the green and gold outfit

Cuz royalty means class

aquaman - 8outfit

Here the film is ended,

But now let’s talk about

What things the editor should have left in

And what should have been cut out

 

The acting is pretty solid,

The cast all pretty, too,

From Jason Momoa to Amber Heard

And Patrick Wilson’s Orm, all woo

 

The effects are indeed special,

And, no, that’s not sarcasm

The glowing effects that define the sea,

From building to sargassum

 

The film creates an immersive world

And yes, that is a pun,

But the camera effects that seem like waves

Did make some scenes more fun

 

The direction isn’t terrible,

With some scenes even stirring

The cinematography was oft on point

While fight scenes were occurring.

 

But alas the dialogue is bad

Too bad for me to mention.

It repeated so often and was so dull

It was hard to pay attention.

 

You’d think that’s not enough

To drag a movie down

But really the lines were so damned bad I hoped

That everyone would drown.

 

The plot is so generic

That I swear they say “fetch quest.”

And these two awful elements

Wildly overshadow the rest.

 

So while there were some great scenes

Within this aquamovie

I could not recommend a watch

Even for Mamoa’s booty.

 

I hated this film, not just because

It had so much potential

But also because I fear the profit

Might make it influential.

 

And thus DC has let me down

For five out of six times

So here I end this film review

Cuz I’m now out of rhymes

 

JOKER’S RHYME-BUTTAL

I wish there was a scene in Nantucket
So it’d be easier to tell this film s*ck it.
The plot was mundane
The dialogue insane
And I wish I’d just left and said “f*ck it”

If you say that this doesn’t rebut
Well, I’d try but it’s open and shut
This movie was lousy
I spent half the time drowsy
And wishing someone had yelled “cut”

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

 

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: A Criticism of Criticisms

by: The Grouch on the Couch

If you want a real review of the series, it’s here.

I’m gonna talk about some of the complaints that have been levied at this show (to the point that people have been harassing the crew) and say which ones are stupid and which ones actually have merit.

First, people have been complaining that the new She-Ra doesn’t look feminine enough. As to that, I just say: The 8-foot-tall superhuman woman does not necessarily need to be Wonder Woman’s level of curvaceous. Hate to break your mind, but not all women are super-buxom. It’s just that in fiction, they almost always are, since gravity-defying and somehow non-cumbersome big boobs are literally called the “most common super power.”

She-RaG - 1Comparison
HOW DID HER ORIGINAL TOP EVEN STAY ON????

However, as to the point that Adora’s outfit as She-Ra isn’t actually any more armored or battle-ready than the original She-Ra outfit, yeah, that’s true. I mean, since she’s nigh-invulnerable, armor might not make much of a difference, but that is technically true and the show could have actually given her a practical outfit if they were already going out of their way to subvert stereotypes.

Second, every comment involving “SJW” needs to be burned. Look, I’m not someone who’s super into shows that focus every episode on the characters learning a new lesson about tolerance, but that’s not what happens in this show. In fact, differences in appearance, culture, or sexuality mostly just get the response of “okay, now let’s do real stuff” if they’re commented on at all. Since this is a planet where people can be part-cat, part-scorpion, part-angel, or have magical sentient hair, it actually makes sense that being black or Inuit doesn’t particularly come off as “unusual.” The show isn’t trying to jam a message about tolerance down your throat, it just HAS characters who happen to be callipygian or LGTBQ+ or non-caucasian. Thinking that the mere existence of non-white, non-idealized, non-traditional characters automatically makes it SJW propaganda is just denying the fact that those people EXIST IN THE REAL WORLD. So, f*ck you.

She-RaG - 3NewCast.jpg
Also, they’re still mostly Caucasian, because TV show.

Also, complaining that they changed the race/gender/sexuality/appearance of a character is just not recognizing that the original show’s world was almost entirely white and was entirely hetero, because that was the only market that the creators believed mattered. Hell, the main character is still a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, white girl. The only human character on the original who wasn’t caucasian was Netossa, so… congrats, there was a token minority in the original show, and maybe that’s something that needs to change. The show’s not spending forty minutes on “the plight of black people” or “the history of gay discrimination,” which sometimes CAN be seemingly self-congratulatory social-awareness, it’s just got characters who happen to be minorities. What does it say about you that you’re willing to accept a woman with tentacles coming out of her back but not a black guy?

She-RaG - 2Diversity.gif
The Diversity was based solely around Hair Color.

Third, a reboot/remake is not de-facto bad. You know what’s a reboot? The 1939 Wizard of Oz, the Charlton Heston Ben-Hur, Casino Royale, and The Dark Knight. And this attitude of automatically assuming they’re ruining your childhood is getting annoying. Do you remember how many people thought that Heath Ledger couldn’t play the Joker, or James Bond couldn’t be Blond, or that we didn’t need another Mad Max movie? If you can use the reboot to show the audience something they haven’t seen before, then the reboot has a purpose. In this case, the show is very different from the original, while still paying tribute to it. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it, but it’s not because it’s a reboot.

She-RaG - 4TTG.jpg
Hell, this PoS apparently produced a decent movie. Still not watching it, though.

Look, I’m not saying this show is perfect. Hell, I didn’t think it was more than slightly above average, and it has the benefit of following other kids’ shows that have been bold enough to have more-developed characters and diverse casts like Steven Universe. The plots aren’t great, a lot of the episodes feel formulaic, and some of the dialogue makes me want to stab my ears with the Sword of Omens (Yes, I know that’s Thundercats). But, some of the shots being leveled at it are completely inane, and that forces me into the position of defending something I don’t care that much about. So, f*cking stop it, so I can move on to better shows… like Ducktales.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Grouch on the Couch Review: Halloween (2018) – Decent Movie, Lousy Horror Film

So, a ton of people have been lauding this film. Maybe that was the problem. Maybe my expectations were too high. I was hoping to really see a solid follow-up to the original Halloween, a film that remains one of the scariest things I have ever watched. That’s not what I got. Look, I sat through the three “return of Michael Myers” Halloween films and Halloween H20. I watched Busta Rhymes kung-fu kick one of the greatest horror villains in film in Halloween Resurrection. I watched the good and the bad of the Rob Zombie remakes. I have paid my damn dues, I deserve another well-made Halloween film.

Halloween11 - 1PaulRudd.jpg
Paul Rudd wishes I didn’t know his dark secret, but I do. (Halloween 6)

I don’t want to hold back on this one, so *SPOILERS* on this review, because I’ve got some venting to do.

PLOT AND STUFF

This movie takes place 40 years to the day after the main events of the first Halloween movie. All of the sequels are ignored, including Halloween II, which means that Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is not, in fact, the sister of Michael Myers (Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney), something that I definitely consider a good call.

Halloween11 - 2BustaRhymes
Also no Busta Rhymes kung-fu kicking. So, that’s a good call.

A pair of journalists (Rhian Rees and Jefferson Hall) who have a podcast go to interview Michael Myers at the asylum that he has occupied since 1978. They bring his mask as an offer to get him to speak, but Michael doesn’t acknowledge their presence. Shortly after, while being transferred, Michael’s bus crashes, freeing him. His doctor, Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer), survives the crash, but is shot by a boy who comes upon the scene. Michael coincidentally finds the podcasters, kills a mechanic for his signature jumpsuit, then murders them both to reclaim his mask. He then drives back to Haddonfield, Illinois.

Halloween11 - 3Michael
Michael is canonically 61 years old in this movie, but arthritis doesn’t effect pure evil.

Over the last 40 years Laurie Strode has pretty much been suffering constant PTSD about the night that she was attacked. She has a daughter, Karen (Judy “Wait, Judy Greer?” Greer), who thinks she’s insane after raising her to be able to fight Michael, and a granddaughter, Allyson (Andi “No, wait, go back, Judy Greer is the daughter?” Matichak), who Laurie secretly speaks to. However, when she finds that he has escaped, she’s almost excited at the prospect of being able to kill him.

Halloween11 - 4Laurie.jpg
She certainly looks completely sane.

Michael goes on a killing spree that alternates between awesome and almost comically cliché before Dr. Sartain, who has gone insane with his desire to see his prized subject reunited with Laurie. They reach Laurie’s house before Michael kills Sartain, resulting in Michael approaching the house to kill Laurie, Karen, Allyson, and Karen’s husband Ray (Toby “Judy Greer was a weird casting choice” Huss). Ultimately, Karen, Laurie, and Allyson manage to trap Michael in the basement and set the entire house ablaze. However, the last shot of the basement shows it to be empty, implying that Michael escaped.

END PLOT AND STUFF

The original Halloween wasn’t the first of the slasher genre or even the holiday-themed slasher genre (Black Christmas and Silent Night, Bloody Night were earlier), but Halloween took everything that had previously been done in the genre and tweaked it a bit. Michael Myers didn’t wait for people to show up to his hunting grounds like Norman Bates or Leatherface, he came to them. He didn’t have a disturbing backstory or a love of taunting young women like the killers in the Christmas-themed slasher films, he just simply was evil. He wasn’t punishing the wicked or impure (although people have said he was, both of his creators have denied this), he just liked killing. He wasn’t supernaturally enhanced like Jason Vorhees or Freddy Krueger, he was just a normal human (in the first movie, he is briefly unmasked and is just an average person).

AND THAT’S WHY HE’S SO FRIGHTENING.

Halloween11 - 5MichaelHiding.jpg
Here he is, waiting for you on a sidewalk in the middle of the f*cking day.

He’s literally just a crazy guy who comes into your house and murders you. He doesn’t have anything against you, there’s nothing you did to cause it, and it’s a completely random death. This movie tried to maintain that aspect and, in fairness, it mostly succeeded on that front. They make a point to comment on the fact that, in the original movie, Michael Myers only killed five people, something that we now see happen in real life on a regular basis by a crazy asshole with a gun. In other words, we’ve now allowed almost any random crazy person to be Michael Myers. However, in response to pointing that out, they make sure to drive home that Michael is, in fact, his own special brand of evil, because he’s not going to stop. Mass shooters almost inevitably die in the process; Michael won’t.

However, while they do a good job with that, the actual horror environment of the film is, for lack of a better word, crap. Part of that is that much of the movie is a tribute to the original film, including a lot of scenes that are either straight replications of older scenes (so we know how they’re going to go) or they’re subversions of the older scenes (so we know how they’re going to be subverted). Normally, alternating between these would work to keep the audience on their toes, but this movie makes a mistake that, honestly, they should have avoided just by watching the original Halloween: They take too long on scenes.

Halloween11 - 6MichaelCloset.jpg
I was in the bathroom for this one, but even the trailer is too damn slow on it.

Michael Myers is at his best when the set-up is long, but it’s in the background. Some of the best parts of the 1978 version are seeing Michael lurking, unfocused, in the background of shots, something that Rob Zombie did wonderfully when he released his remake. This movie made him too focal, which, unfortunately, doesn’t make him scarier unless it’s done perfectly. Many of the set-ups were so elaborate that they felt more like a joke and a punchline than a murder. I genuinely was laughing at some of the kills.

That’s another problem: This movie has too many examples of the modern horror post-Scream semi-satirical scenes, without really adapting Michael to it. Scream was a reaction to the decline of the slasher genre, where people were bored of characters who were genre-blind or fit neatly into weird archetypes, so Wes Craven infused humor and self-awareness into horror. Now, even people who knew the rules of slasher films were going to be victims, making the audience feel vulnerable again. But, over time, directors upped the comedy, so it’s now commonplace to have humorous interludes in horror films. This film was partially written by comedian Danny McBride, so the funny scenes are really funny, to the point that it undercuts all the tension that is usually inherent with Michael Myers’ presence.

Halloween11 - 7PumpkinSkull
And the trailers spoiled 2 of the best kills in the movie at the same time.

There are still a few saving graces for the film. First, Jamie Lee Curtis nails playing a crazed, obsessed Laurie Strode. She’s like Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2, except that she’s been waiting 30 years longer and time has started to really take its toll. Her dedication to training for this movie is admirable, although she does kind of embody Mike Tyson’s line “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Second, the kills are pretty great throughout the movie, some of them being among my favorite in the franchise. Third, while I don’t exactly like Judy Greer in most of the film (the character, not her), she also possibly has the best scene in the movie and one of the most “F*CK YES” moments in the Halloween franchise.

Halloween11 - 8Antman.png
Oh my god. They’ve both survived Michael Myers. That’s why they were married in Ant-Man!

Actually, there is something in the movie that I think isn’t really called out, but that I think make it slightly more interesting: Everyone assumes Laurie Strode is important to Michael. Sure, he stalks her, among other people, in the original, but in this one everyone assumes that he is breaking out to hunt her down. However, if you watch the movie, he really doesn’t give any indication that he cares about her at all this time. He doesn’t look for her, doesn’t go back to the house from the original films, and doesn’t stalk her family until her granddaughter hears one of Michael’s victims screaming, apparently by random chance. Even after seeing Laurie (and getting shot by her), Michael doesn’t make any attempt to follow her. In short:

SHE’S NOT IMPORTANT.

Unlike what’s implied in all the sequels prior to now, this means that she was just a random victim in the original. So, she’s spent her entire life training for the day he would hunt her down, but, really, the only reason they meet is A) she actually hunts HIM down and B) other characters bring them together. It’s kind of devastating, therefore, to think that Laurie Strode has spent her whole life recalling one terrible night and never being able to get over it due to the trauma, while the guy who did it apparently doesn’t think about her at all. I’m sure there is never any comparable situation to this.

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Overall, this movie didn’t scare me much. Other people might be scared by it, but I thought that they removed a lot of the dread that makes the genre work. However, the thing is that I did enjoy this as kind of a study of Laurie Strode and Michael Myers. Michael represents evil, trauma, destruction, mass murder, what have you. You don’t necessarily deserve him, but he shows up anyway and your life is either ended or wrecked. Laurie is someone who has dealt with that kind of trauma and evil, has been scarred by it horribly to the point of being a force of violence herself, and has tried to impute some meaning into the meaningless. She even does some shot-for-shot sequences where she copies Michael’s mannerisms and movements. She’s a great representation of the Nietzsche quote:

Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

Like I said, I may not have been scared by it, which makes it kind of crap as a horror film, but as a character study, it does a great job. I recommend seeing it, but maybe wait until video.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

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