The Muppets (PG)

I said in my quickie for The Muppet Movie that as much as I like the Muppets, they're still a bit before my time, so getting modernized a bit hit a real sweet spot with me. There's still plenty for long time fans, including numerous callbacks to their previous films (though since I've only seen the first, those were the only jokes I got), and of course classic Muppet insanity as the movie breaks the fourth wall, grinds it into fine powder, mixes it with pitch, and then burns it.

Now, there was one very petty thing that bothered me, and I'll admit this is stupid right now - did nobody stop to think why Gary and Walter were so different? That Gary was human while Walter was a freaking puppet? Are Muppets like felt X-Men, in that they're randomly born from real humans, frogs, pigs, etc., or did their mother bang a sock puppet and the rest of the family just sort of accepted this?

And poor Jack Black. As if how the Muppets kidnapped him and forced him into the show wasn't mean enough, according to this he was afraid to take his kids to see this because of what a dick he was in the film. But at the same time, couldn't the Muppets have just asked him? He was buddies with Animal, anyway. And if Courtney Love thinks the Swedish Chef mumbling the tune to "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is rape I have to wonder what she thinks of Weird Al's "Smells Like Nirvana"


Ultimate Avengers: The Movie (PG-13)

I really hope the new, live-action Avenger's movie is better than this. Granted, this may have suffered a bit from having to work in the characters' backgrounds and how they came together as the Avengers, but the 20 minutes left over still seems too much for the story they've got here. Some aliens invade earth, and the Avengers fail to stop them once, succeed the second time, only to have Hulk go apeshit at the end. And the Hulk battle was just stupid; nobody realized wailing on the Hulk was only pissing him off even more was just making him worse? And I don't care how strong Hulk is, he is not going to lift Mjolnir if Mjolnir doesn't want him to lift it.


Brother Bear (G)

Well, I liked it more than Princess and the Frog, and I'm not just saying that because they're the two most modern Disney movies I've seen. They're also both about a character getting turned into an animal, and going on a hike to get changed back. I certainly appreciate the coexisting with other life theme more than accomplishing your dreams by marrying a rich guy, I liked the music better, the moose characters were funnier than the redneck firefly, and if anything it's a damned pretty movie. But still, the big reveal is pretty predictable and the story just didn't feel like it needed 90 minutes to be told. This seems to be a common complaint I have with a lot of animated movies recently, that they feel like somebody took the plot of a 30-minute cartoon and padded it out to a feature-length film with song and dance. And the older brother saying he didn't blame the bear for what happened to the oldest brother, then chasing the main character halfway across the world just seemed a bit odd.


Bram Stoker's Dracula (R)

This is certainly worth checking out if you're a gamer and particularly if you're a fan of Castlevania. Even if you're not that interested in it for that angle, it still holds up as a tale of a monster who's probably more human than the "hero" (I'll get to that in a second) and his trip towards redemption. And holy shit at some of the visuals, made even more mindblowing by the fact this film contains zero CGI.

The film's weakest link? Keanu fucking Reeves. If you know anything about him, you can guess what the specific complaint is. I didn't mind him so much in Bill & Ted, but as I said in my quickie he was a goofy stoner and his acting limited acting skills were sufficient there. Here his performance is noticably stilted and wooden. Several times I was really getting engrossed with the vampire hunting or Dracula learning how to love again, only to be thrown right out the movie turns it attention back to Reeves. No fucking wonder his fiance eventually fell for Dracula.


Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law (PS2, T)

If you go into this expecting Phoenix Wright with Harvey Birdman characters, you're going to be very disappointed. It's more like five vaguely interactive episodes of the show, and if you go in understanding that it's actually not bad. In fact, I laughed harder at this game than anything in the show, though I honestly can't recommend this to somebody who isn't already familiar with the series, as there's a lot of in-jokes. And yes, there are cameos from Street Fighter characters, but finding them is a matter of luck.


Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of Black Panther (PG-13)

It's better than the first movie, mainly because they can focus on the story instead of spending most of the movie getting the group together, and it doesn't have anything as nerdraginly retarded as Hulk lifting Mjolnir, but it's still not that good. It's so wholly unremarkable that I can barely even find anything to say about it, so let's move on.


Monty Python and the Holy Grail (PG)

I had the same problem with this as I did with The Shining, only instead of it being spoiled by parodies on every television sitcom ever, this has been spoiled by people on the Internet endlessly quoting the jokes while failing to realize what made them funny to begin with. So I guess it's something like the Portal of movies. But like Portal, at least people stuck to endlessly quoting the stupidest stuff - weighing more than a duck, knights who say "Ni", killer rabbit - leaving the best jokes fresh and untainted, like the shrubbery, the bridgekeeper failing to answer a question, and how the cave monster is beaten, and that last one was solid gold. It's the Portal of movies in terms of its fanbase, but it's the Earthworm Jim of movies in terms of terms of the movie itself.


Saturday Night Live 25th Anniversary (DVD)

Yeah, this probably would have meant more to me if I were actually a fan of SNL. There was no memory lane for me to walk down with this DVD, and it doesn't really stand up as much else. Many of the funnier Phil Hartman skits in this were already available on his Best of DVD, and something tells me the same is true for the other cast members' skits.


Captain America: The First Avenger (PG-13)

I think I liked the original Iron Man a bit better, but this is still one of the better superhero films out there, something that doesn't exactly win it any awards. At least the characters are more believable than Thor, and Tommy Lee Jones takes to a superhero film a hell of a lot better than Anthony Hopkins did. I suppose Captain America's idealic sense of patriotism and self-sacrifice come across as a bit trite, but he doesn't irritate me nearly as bad as, say, Superman. At least he's got enough personality flaws and isn't so sickeningly overpowered as to be the completely boring superhero Supes is. As for the film itself, Steve has a nice character arc from weakling, to thinking he's doing good by being a government tool, to actually doing some good by doing what the serum was for and getting out into the battlefield and kicking ass. It's campy superhero fun that's sure to please the fans.

That said, I had a hell of a time buying that scene where Captain America is filming a propaganda film and has his lines taped to the back of his shield. I'm not a Marvel zombie, but I'm familiar enough with the mythos to recognize Dum Dum Dugan, and know that the super soldier serum beefed up Steve's intelligence as well as his physique, and yet he couldn't he memorize two sentences? Then I thought, okay, maybe in this movie's canon, it didn't boost his intelligence. But later in the movie, he replicates a map after only glancing at it while the building around him was falling apart. So, what the hell was with the cue cards?


Rio (G)

It's a lot nicer to look at than Madagascar and especially Shark Tale, but otherwise, damn, I'm having a hard time even remembering much of this movie. I remember the base plot of trying to get the last two blue macaws on earth to make one more generation of their doomed species, and I vaguely remember there being no elaboration on the villain bird's downfall from stardom - he's a pretty bird one day, and an ugly criminal the next is about all the information you get. But man, it seems like song and dance numbers outweigh actual plot movement, which slows to a crawl at the middle when Blu and Jewel are trying to find somebody to unchain them while Blu tries to fly. At least the bulldog was kind of amusing, especially when he comes out in a Carmen Miranda getup ready to go to Mardi Gras, only to find everyone else already left.


Star Trek: The Next Generation Jean-Luc Picard Collection (DVD)

This is a sort of "Best of Picard" set and for the most part it delivers on that premise. They give you a good mix of genres, drama in Tapestry, sappiness with Family, and silliness with Long Goodbye. And while I imagine the series followed a story from episode to episode, these episodes do a good job of standing on their own. Mostly. I would have liked for them to squeeze in an episode where he was part of the Borg, as that comes up in two of the other episodes and was a bit confusing when they started talking about it in the first one. But maybe those episodes were too depressing, or he wasn't enough of a player in them to be considered "Picard" episodes.

Now, the not-so successful. I was actually more interested in Worf's story in Family, and The Drumhead is a dud. Darmok is a bit of a tossup. It's an interesting premise, with Picard in an Another World scenario where he's teamed up with an alien he can't understand, but hearing the aliens say the same phrases over and over and over got kind of tiring.


The Hangover (R)

So a bunch of guys take their buddy on a bachelor party to Las Vegas, get drugged up, and wake up to find all hell has broken loose and they don't remember a thing; the bachelor is gone, somebody's missing a tooth, and there's a naked Asian guy in the trunk of the car. Then it's mystery solving time in wacky side-quest after wacky side-quest, gathering clues as to what happened that night and whereabouts of their missing friend. You can either try to solve the mystery yourself, or take it easy and and watch the guys get punched out by Mike Tyson or try to drive an unconscious tiger through Las Vegas in the back seat. But the best part comes at the end, when after spending most of the film freaking out about what his bitchy fiancee is going to think, Ed Helms gets to open a can of verbal whoopass.


The Adventures of Milo and Otis (G)

It's cute overload and has a message about friendship and sticking to your convictions and whatnot, but man, is it just the way I look at children's movies different as an adult that makes me question the kid-friendliness of this? Some of the scenes disturbed even me, namely when the cat is getting attacked by seagulls and eventually falls off a cliff, into the sea. Maybe it was just the behind-the-scenes factor that creeped me out on that. I mean, sure, Milo climbed up there to get some eggs and knew jumping was the only way to get away from the angry birds, but what about the cat playing Milo, getting shoved into a swarm of seagulls and then thrown off a cliff? And even though you only see the detailed bits for a few seconds, I imagine the puppy and kitten births ended several childhoods.

Speaking of, I'm trying to figure out how long the adventure was supposed to last. I know the movie itself took four years to make, I mean the story within the movie. It seems like Milo and Otis started their adventure a few months old, and the movie lasted half a year. But then they're finding girlfriends and knocking them up when they're both only about a year old, which if my understanding of cat and dog years is accurate, means they were a couple of teenagers when they started making babies.


Family Guy: Volume Five (TV DVD)

Remember what I said back in January in the Blue Harvest quickie, about American Dad making me a little more charitable towards Family Guy? Yeah, this set kind of vaporized that. At this point they're not even trying. The episodes are less stories, and more the show seeing what it can get away with, though I imagine all the "Fuck"s and Peter's penis were censored from the aired versions. And you still have the constant barrage of irrelevent references and scene shifts to elict giggles from fanboys, and the show beating you over the head with any semblence of a joke that might have actually been entertaining.

The worst part is there's obviously somebody over at Team Family Guy who understands subtlety, and kudos to that guy for the gag about Peter taking Cleveland to the stand up comedy act with "the guy who played Kramer" and "That word doesn't have an H in it!" But the poor guy gets swept away by the torrent of garbage everyone else is filling the show with.

And in case you're wondering or have only seen the televised version, I am totally not making the thing about Peter's dong up. Peter makes a reference to Britney Spears showing her lady parts on camera in the limo, and boom, two Peters. I really had to wonder what the guy who actually drew it felt about it.


Idiocracy (R)

I have some conflicting thoughts on this. On one hand I'm a cynic so a movie about what media-lemming morons the general populace can be tickled me, and the movie was pretty hilarious anyway. But I still think the degree of what's going on, that big corporations are going to completely take over America and everyone's brains will turn to mush as they turn to Britney Spears for their role model is a bit of a stretch. I'm also not sure how I feel about the implication that you're only smart if the people around you are idiots, but maybe I'm reading too much into that. And yeah, the humor can get pretty crude, to the point I sometimes wondered why the movie wasn't NC-17, but it's nothing that will shock anybody familiar with Mike Judge.


Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXIII (TV DVD)

The highlight of this set is Last of the Wild Horses, the famous "Mirror, Mirror" parody where the first part of the movie has Dr. Forrester and Frank in the theater instead of Mike and the bots. Granted, there's something lacking about the two, namely Frank seeing as how Forrester and Crow are played by the same guy and he's had more experience riffing, but it was an interesting experiment. Wild Horses is also the best episode of the set. King Dinosaur and Code Name: Diamond Head are decent, but Castle of Fu Manchu was kinda dull. The Shout Factory sets have been really hit or miss with me, and I don't know if it's because Rhino used up the best episodes already, Shout Factory just sucks, or MST3K has lost a bit of its wow factor with me. I still enjoy the show, but it's just not blowing me away the way it did with Volume 4.