Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!

Tag Archives: Movies

ANCC: Jaws: The Revenge

Did you know sharks can roar?  Well, they can in Jaws: The Revenge! Nick, Cousin Charles, the Kiwi, and the Gorehound finish off Shark Week 2018 by talking about the final Jaws installment.  And this time, it’s personal!

To listen to the episode, click here or on the image below!

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As always, you can check us out on iTunes here.

ANCC: Jaws 2

Nick, Kiwi, and Cousin Charles continue their Shark Week journey and take a bite out of Jaws 2.  What do they think of this 1978 sequel? Also witness and the trio go on numerous tangents and bizarrely plug random products! We are at the height of professionalism here!

To listen to the episode, click here or on the image below!

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As always, you can check us out on iTunes here.

ANCC: Bridget Jones

Check out the newest edition of the All-New Culture Cast! Still a trio but this is the first episode sans Nick as he is venturing the hills of Ireland in search of hidden sources of culture. Join the Gorehound, Jenn, and Thor in an incredibly off-topic podcast but an adventure nonetheless!

To listen to the episode, click here or on the image!

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Spoiler Alert 2: The Lament Continues…

Zack and I were texting each other earlier today about how there seems to be a shift on when big blockbuster movies are being released. Lately, it seems like big pictures such as Fast and Furious 6, Star Trek Into Darkness, and the Marvel movies have been released overseas first by a few weeks before their North American premiere. This, of course, has led to an increase in spoilers appearing on the internet before those living in North America have even a chance to see the movie.

It can be a frustrating experience especially if you want to go into a movie completely blind. It also doesn’t really keep the best interests of the domestic audiences. Already today, places like Yahoo News (which, let’s face it, hasn’t been an actual news site in years) have published lengthy articles on the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man 2 due to the fact that it is already out in Europe. The film won’t be released in the States until May 2nd, but people can already easily discover what exactly goes down in the film including a surprising ending sequence.

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No less than five or so years ago, you can avoid spoilers for a movie after it opens by just avoiding its Wikipedia page. Now, it seems that you can’t go anywhere without encountering them. Now, I’m not so much talking about websites that deal with spoilers and rumors for movie such as Superhero Hype or Bleeding Cool. I’m talking about general, mainstream news outlets.

Normally, earlier international release dates do not personally bother me. The reverse has been the case for years. This seems only fair. Plus, Hollywood depends more and more on the international markets. It makes total financial sense to release it overseas first. And, with places like Yahoo News, those articles really only pop-up on your newsfeed based on your prior clicking habits. I would suspect that general movie goers who are not movie nerds probably won’t see or care about such articles.

However, even if someone isn’t movie buff and sees these articles pop-up, there is absolutely no restraint in the article. If Yahoo has a spoilery story about, for example, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the author won’t buffer the spoiler. Instead, he or she will slap it right in the article title. This is where the problem lies.

TASM 2 has had one of the most insufferable marketing campaigns in recent memory.

It won’t be out for weeks, but you can learn everything about it without even trying.

Many times, a twist or surprise in a movie makes the entire movie worthwhile. Could you imagine how much less of an impact The Sixth Sense would have been in 1999 if people knew the twist ending? This type of reporting is getting very much out of hand.

I know the argument can be made in that once a movie is released, it is fair game. But, if it hasn’t been released in all the major markets, is it? I would take the same stance when films open in the US first before going international.

The strange thing that Zack and I noticed is that people just don’t seem to care anymore. People seem to want to know the twists in a flick. I get that some people like to be spoiler hounds, but it just seems that it is more acceptable to know all the beats in a movie before you go and see it particularly with the Millennials and Generation Z. Perhaps that’s the reasons: since technology and the internet have been integral parts of their lives, the acceptance of internet spoilers comes much more naturally. Wow…I think I just blew my mind.

I know I’ve lamented on this stuff before, and I’ll likely do it again in the future. It just seems like this has become too rampant an issue for me to really enjoy the movie-going experience. With films not being released worldwide on the same day (or within the same week), this issue will undoubtedly just continue to grow.

~N

Superhero Hustle (or “The Bursting Bubble”)

It is quite the golden age for superhero films, isn’t it?  Just last week, the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy dropped.  While I have reservations about the film itself, I cannot deny the fact that it has gotten significant buzz.  Who would have thought five years ago that a D-list property such as GotG would be getting a summer blockbuster treatment?  Not me, that’s for sure.  And various reports suggest that other lower-tier comic book properties are in development in addition to more well-known characters.

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This is a tent-pole movie.

This should be a comic fan’s dream come true.  Though, as I’ve discovered every now and then, that isn’t always the case when you have people complaining about Marvel vs. DC or the different production companies who hold different rights to characters.  In the end, does it matter?  We currently live in a world where multiple properties are being released every year.  Sure, some are better than others, but to complain about how they “should” be done seems just greedy.  Fans should be thrilled by the idea that so many are coming out (save the complaining until after the movie is released).

Even more impressive about this superhero boom is to look at some of the cast these films have been getting.  Renowned celebrated actors such as Anthony Hopkins (Thor), Robert Redford (Captain America 2), Michael Douglas (Ant Man), Michael Caine (Dark Knight Trilogy), Russell Crowe (Man of Steel), and Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3) are signing up to do these pictures.  Before recently, could you have imagined any of these prestige thespians to do something like this?  True, there is a slight precedent for this in the earlier Batman series, but this new wave of superhero films is a different beast.

For that matter, look at the general A-list stars taking roles in these flicks like Ben Affleck, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams.  Remember when Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Iron Man and people thought he was slumming it?  The joke’s on those people.  Now, it is tough to see any high profile movie that doesn’t star someone who didn’t previously play a superhero.  I mean, just look at American Hustle.

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Maybe for these actors it is an easy money grab.  Who knows?  But if that is the case, it is really telling on these film’s popularity and how well they are connecting with general audiences.  Doing these movies might just be too tempting to resist for an actor.

But despite this golden age, I have to wonder: when will the bubble burst?  Like with the western before it, general audiences will eventually tire of the superhero scene.  I’m sure there will always be a Batman or Superman flick every few years, but will this boom last long enough for an Avengers 10 or obscure properties like a Vibe movie?*  I really doubt it.  So when will that be?  When will the burn out happen?  Up until a few weeks ago, I would have said 2015 with Avengers 2 and the Man of Steel sequel coming out at the same time.  However, with the latter being pushed back a year, I am not sure now.  These sorts of genres tend to have a shelf life of about 15 years, and we are nearing that end (if you figure in the beginnings with 2000’s X-Men).

In any event, I hope movie producers such as Avi Arad and Kevin Feige realize the money trail will not last forever and will notice the signs early enough to wrap up their mega franchises.  It would be a total shame for something as ambitious and successful as the Marvel Studios movies to peter out instead of going out on top.

I don’t want to come off as a hater or doomsayer.  For the most part, I like these films, but the immense amount of them do make me numb to the genre at times.  The bubble is always biggest just before it bursts.  Right now, this superhero golden age has gotten pretty big.

~N

*In fairness, who wouldn’t want to see a Vibe movie?  He has the powers of break dancing!  Get on that Warner Bros!

25 Days of Christmas!

I love Christmas!  I love everything about it!  I am not ashamed to say that I am a person of faith, but I find Christmas is so much more than just a religious holiday.  It is a time for family and friends.  A time to celebrate your relationships.  It is just a happy time, and I love the feeling this time of year.*

It is also a time for movies.  There have been hundreds of movies that are about or take place around Christmas.  I can understand why.  It really is a magical time of year where hopes and dreams come alive.  Good stories can be all about that.  Because of that, I am going to run a special feature this month:  The 25 Days of Christmas.**

Each day leading up to the main day, I am going to be looking at a different Christmas movie.  There are a lot of good Christmas movies out there.  And there are a lot of bad ones.  Mostly bad ones.  Anything is fair game.  I might even be looking at some TV Specials as well.

The first entry should be up tomorrow.  Lets see how well this goes!  I’m open to requests if you have any!

~N

* While I do love the Christmas season, it does not start until December 1st at the earliest for me.

**Hey…ABC Family did not come up with that title!  It is fair game to use it!

Summer 2012 Review Podcast

After too long of a hiatus, Zack and Nick are back with a new podcast!  This week, they look back on the movies of Summer 2012.  What did they like?  What did they hate?  And how does this summer compare to others?  Download the ‘cast and find out!

 

Click HERE or on the image to download the podcast, and as always click here to subscribe to us on iTunes!

The Addams Family

While I was channel surfing earlier today, I came across the 1991 Barry Sonnenfeld directed The Addams Family.  I haven’t seen this movie since 1991, and I found myself completely taken by the movie and ended up watching the whole thing.  Long story short, I really enjoyed it.

Don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t a great and/or groundbreaking movie.  I won’t even argue to those who claim it is awful (though, I wouldn’t go that far).  The plot is very thin and predictable, the villains are lame, and it is mostly a vehicle for a continuous round of set-ups and one-liners.  However, the movie is a lot of fun.  The macabre gags are silly and occasionally groan-worthy.  However, like the recent Three Stooges film, they are supposed to be.  This is the kind of film that you go into expecting such things.   Expecting something at some sort of “higher level” would be missing the point of this type of movie.

The thing that really sold the film to me was the performances.  They are fantastic.  Each actor playing a member of family really throws themselves into the role.  Something tells me that this group knew they were they were portraying pop-culture icons and refused to do it half-assed.  I usually find that in most film adaptations of old TV shows (which I realize is not exactly the case here), you usually have the actors sleepwalk their way to a paycheck.  That is not the case here.

I really need to put a spotlight on the late, great Raúl Juliá.  Of the entire cast, he is totally into his character.  The manic energy he injects into Gomez Addams is unparalleled.  Even the scenes where Gomez is utterly depressed (including a hilarious delivery about not wanting to “miss Gilligan”), Juliá is a complete treat to watch.  I honestly cannot imagine any other actor accomplishing what he did.

I liked this movie.  It’s weird, goofy, and a whole lot of fun.  It isn’t perfect, but it doesn’t need to be.  Sonnenfeld brought the perfect tone to a movie like this to play to a wide audience.  It worked.  This is partially the reason I want to see the upcoming Dark Shadows film as it seems to have the same sort of sensibility about it.  If that film is even half as entertaining as The Addams Family is, then I eagerly await it.

~N

I Saw ‘Everything Must Go’

I have a love/hate relationship Will Ferrell. He can be very, very funny, but his shtick of the man-child has gotten really, really old by now. This is what irritates me about him. However, Will Ferrell can also be a very good dramatic actor when he chooses to be (and I wish he chose this more often). Everything Must Go is proof of that. He steps out of his comfort zone demonstrates his range with subtly and nuance by playing an alcoholic who has hit rock bottom.

Unfortunately (and perhaps surprisingly), Ferrell’s performance is really the only positive thing I can say about the movie. Everything Must Go isn’t necessary a bad movie. It is competently made and well acted (particularly Ferrell and his child co-star Christopher C.J. Wallace). It also happens to be incredibly dull.

The characters are interesting and developed well, but they are not given anything all that interesting to do. The struggles of Ferrell’s character are set-up very well, but there really isn’t any follow-through nor credible resolution. While things resolve themselves as one would likely expect, we never see any definitive that break-through that I could buy into given what is revealed about his past attempts to turn things around.

Part of the dullness of the film is that the pacing is very slow. Honestly, the film almost feels like a mainstream film tried to appeal to the independent market or an indi-film trying to go mainstream. Either way, it doesn’t work.

Critics seemed to really favor Everything Must Go when it was released last May. I can understand that as the film has some fantastic performances. If you look beyond the performances, however, you’ll find that there really isn’t all that much there.

Why ‘Source Code’ Sucks

The other week, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet up with my good friends, Kyle (of Culture Cast fame) and Lisa Boatright. I haven’t seen them in a good while, and, among other things, we sat down to watch a movie. That movie was the 2011 Duncan Jones film Source Code.

It is a fairly enjoyable thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a man who is essentially experiencing Groundhog Day via quantum leaping in order to find a bomber on a train with each “leap” being only 8 minutes long. It has a neat sci-fi premise (even if it, ultimately, doesn’t make a lick of sense) and the movie kept me interested. It even had a voice cameo by Scott Bakula (I refuse to believe his casting was coincidental).

However, the film had one problem which utterly destroyed it for me. As such, I am going to pull a Roger Ebert and focus on this one element. Spoilers abound!

Up to the end of the movie, the audience is told that anytime Colter (Gyllenhaal) goes back, he cannot actually change the past, and the reason he’s “leaping” into the person on the train is because that person has already died. After Colter effectively defeats the bomber’s plans for the future, he wants to go back one more time just to see if he can actually save the people on the train. He is fully aware that it won’t change anything in the present, but wants to know if he can do it. Following this, his live support will be cut off and he’ll die as per his wishes (he’s basically a lump of flesh in the present).

During his final leap, he is able to stop the bomber again, deactivate the bombs, give a final call to his father, cheer up an otherwise grumpy passenger, and kiss the girl. Everything is resolved, and this scene ends in a freeze frame as time runs out and Colter’s life support is shut down. It would have given the film a bittersweet, yet ultimately happy ending.

Nope. The filmmakers couldn’t leave well enough alone. Turns out he’s been creating alternate timelines each time he leaps back. And, with no more life support, he’s cut-off from the future and his original timeline. He gets to live out the rest of his live in a new body with the love interest.

I have several problems with this tacked on ending. For starters, it goes against much of what the film had previously said. It was point blank stated (many times) that Colter couldn’t change the future. Nothing was ever mentioned of creating new timelines. This was an eleventh hour reveal, and in a high-concept film with a potentially confusing plot device such as time travel, you just can’t do that and expect an audience to go along with it. It is an incredible cheat.

Second, the love story is weak to begin with.  Not that it is written poorly, but that the love interest Christina (Michelle Monaghan) never actually forms a connection with Colter.  As we learn, Christina fell for the guy whose body Colter is in weeks before the start of the repeating 8 minutes, and, since things keep starting over, only knew “Colter” for less than 8 minutes.  Why should we be happy these two get to pursue a relationship?  She doesn’t know him and, more importantly, thinks he’s someone else.  If the movie ended with the freeze frame, Colter kissing her worked because that scene was purely about him making the most of his time left (in addition to him being attracted to her, of course). With the stuff after the freeze frame, she goes to spend the day with him giving the audience the idea that they will be together. Other than a name and occupation, Colter doesn’t know who the guy he’s pretending to be is.  Christina probably going to figure out really soon that this isn’t the same guy she fell for. In fact, she mentions almost every time they talk during the last 8 minutes that he seems different. Colter intentionally pretending to be this guy to get with an unassuming woman paints him in a very negative light. Kinda dampens the happy ending, doesn’t it?

Finally, the biggest issue I had is the fact that apparently Colter is now in this other guy’s body for life. This, of course, begs the question: what happened to the other guy?! Did Colter push him out of his own mind? Is he dead? Did Colter’s ability to live on basically kill the other guy? This casts a very long shadow of the end of the movie. Before, it seemed alright, because the other guy was going to die anyway when the train explodes. But now, it doesn’t, because Colter forged a new timeline where this guy could have gone on living. Also, what is Colter going to pretend to be this guy forever? How is that going to work? We learn he’s teacher. Is Colter just going to fake his way teaching. I suppose it is possible to pull that off. But what about things such as the guy’s family and friends? They are going to know something is terribly wrong, and Colter’s new lease on life is going to likely be one big game of manipulation.

I fully realize these things are somewhat nitpicky. However, if a viewer is spotting them while watching as they happen in the movie, then something is very, very wrong. I liked this movie up until the last five minutes. This ending completely ruined Source Code for me. It came off as trying way too hard to have a happy ending when the film already had one.

Because of this, I have created a new term:

Source Coded [v.]
An action when an otherwise perfectly good movie is destroyed by an unnecessary, terrible ending. Typically involves rejecting much of what was previously established in the film and has a feeling of overcompensation.
See: Source Code; The Illusionist

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