I love the first Men in Black. Really, truly, sincerely love it; to me, it’s the Ghostbusters of the ’90s. If you know me, that’s high praise. I was seven years old in 1997, so there’s always going to be some nostalgia attached to my memories of the movie, but I was surprised by how well (read: completely) it held up when I watched it again a couple years ago. I so adored the first film that when the sequel came out in 2002, there I was on opening day dressed all in black, wearing sunglasses and an MiB: Alien Attack hat I’d gotten at Universal Studios earlier that year. It’s fair to say I was excited. Even at 12, though, I felt something missing from the sequel. Like Ghostbusters II, it lacked the freshness of the original, content to rest on its laurels and half-heartedly copy what made the first so enjoyable.
That said, it’s a pleasure to see Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) still knocking E.T.s around in Men in Black III, and perhaps more so to see that their partnership has been developing off-screen over the last ten years. J is still the wisecracking hothead of the pair, and K the no-nonsense straight man. But they’ve grown complacent in their roles. When J wants his partner to actually open up for once, K can’t. Still, they’re partners, so when K disappears and no one but J can remember him, J resolves to get to the bottom of things. It turns out that there’s been a fracture in the time stream; K was killed in 1969 by a nasty piece of work called Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement). Time travel was made illegal long ago, but J doesn’t seem to have much trouble tracking down an undercover time travel service. He jumps (literally) back to the day before K was murdered; hijinks ensue.
Four years ago, two films gave the superhero genre a much-needed kick in the pants: Iron Man and The Dark Knight. They were on opposite ends of the spectrum–the former bright and funny, the latter dark and gloomy–but both felt honest, and honesty’s something the genre needed in order to mature. This summer sees the release of two films which seem destined to revitalize the genre yet again, and it’s only fitting that they are The Avengers, the end result of Marvel’s first wave; and The Dark Knight Rises, the last of Christopher Nolan’s Bat-flicks. The Dark Knight Rises is still a couple months off, but just as that one looks like it’s angling to be even darker and more despairing than its predecessors, The Avengers aims to be more colorful, rousing, and exciting than those leading up to it.
Any superhero movie that wants to be even semi-successful has to on some level examine the nature of heroism. When one doesn’t, which was a big problem in the period between Spider-Man 2 and Iron Man (give or take a Batman Begins), you wind up with something like Catwoman or Elektra or Batman & Robin. Marvel’s pre-Avengers efforts, which I’ve mostly enjoyed, have excelled at asking just why each of their heroes feels the need to suit up and take action. With The Avengers, an even bigger question is posed. Why would such disparate people, each with their own sets of skills, hang-ups, and needs, come together to form a team? Writer-director Joss Whedon, a veritable geek god, is the one tasked with providing the answer to that query, and he does so brilliantly.
On the new episode of Gobbledygeek, Paul and AJ told you about all the things you should buy this Christmas season, and now here’s a comprehensive guide! (Including a few items that weren’t even mentioned on the show.)
Note: Most links and prices are from Amazon.
READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline
Hands down one of the best science fiction books I’ve read in recent memory. It’s like my admittedly overdeveloped nostalgia gland were milked and distilled onto the page. This book is my geeky, pop-culture DNA printed in ink. ~ Paul
Are you ready to get chills?
“Why do you live?” “Because I have something to live for.”
Yeah, you got chills.
As I’ve said before, I’ve been lukewarm on the latter films in the series, but I thought Half-Blood Prince was a step in the right direction and I’m really hoping that David Yates can bring everything to a satisfying close. This trailer is certainly promising, with plenty of thrills, tears, and wonderful photography.
Man, I’m having to relive the end of Harry Potter all over again. I can’t believe it’s been nearly a decade since the first movie, and 13 years since the first book. Wow. The times, they are a-changin’…
Director: Robert Luketic
Writers: Bob DeRosa and Ted Griffin, based on a story by DeRosa
After 2004′s The Butterfly Effect, I swore off Ashton Kutcher movies. Now, of all the terrible actors in all the movies in all the world, there are many worse than Kutcher. Rob Schneider, for instance. I’ve successfully avoided Schneider’s films for three years, or eight if you discount the many bizarre cameo appearances he makes in Adam Sandler comedies. Why did I swear off Kutcher, then? He’s certainly more talented than Schneider, exuding at least a slight hint of prettyboy charm. It’s because there is no reality in which I can conceive of Kutcher doing something interesting. He just doesn’t have it in him. He’s not interesting to watch, he never has anything interesting to say, and his status as the second most-followed person on Twitter–trailing, of all people, Britney Spears–is merely indicative of the fact that even hip social media sites fall prey to old prom king-type popularity contests.
Director: Joe Carnahan
Writers: Joe Carnahan, Brian Bloom, and Skip Woods, based on the television series The A-Team created by Stephen J. Cannell and Frank Lupo
Maybe I’m simply of the wrong generation, but does anyone actually like The A-Team? The old TV series, I mean. I’ve barely seen the show outside of a few clips I looked up before writing this review, so again…I might just be missing something. But like The Brady Bunch or Gilligan’s Island–shows I did watch, and love, when I was younger–The A-Team has seemingly become one of those pop culture landmarks fondly remembered by many but genuinely enjoyed by few. And unfortunately, unlike when The Brady Bunch came to the big screen and amusingly satirized everything that people held dear about the show, The A-Team takes a far more generic, predictable path.
I’m not a shill, I swear. Well, I mean, there was that enticing offer to rename the blog GobbledyScottPilgrimVsTheWorldInTheatersAugust13, but apart from that, I’m not a shill. However, that won’t stop me from bringing you news of the brand spanking new international trailer for the film, which, bless me, you can watch right here:
It’s a lot of what we saw in the North American trailer, but there are also plenty of new little bits and pieces that show just how off the rails and goofy this movie is going to be. The conversation about the cleaning lady at the end killed me (and is it just me, or has Brandon Routh been so much more likable in everything else than he was in Superman Returns?). So, stay tuned for more Scott Pilgrim, because I can guarantee you I won’t shut the fuck up about it until the 25th Anniversary Bread Makes You Fat?! Special Mega Deluxe Edition is released in 2035 on HPFEIYB (High-Pitched Frequency Emitted Into Your Brain).
Originally published on May 8, 2010
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Justin Theroux, based on the Marvel comic book by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby
I attended a packed midnight screening of Iron Man 2, and directly beforehand, in the same auditorium, a considerably less packed screening of the original Iron Man. The first is every bit as great as it was two years ago; it is charming, rich with character, brilliantly acted and directed, and with not a wasted minute. It’s the perfect blend of comedy, drama, and action, a genuine crowdpleaser in every sense.
Originally published on May 6, 2010
Writer: Brad Meltzer
Penciler: Georges Jeanty
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #35 makes me glad that we don’t use ratings here on the Gobbledygeek website. Everywhere else I’ve written reviews, I’ve used a ratings system, be it the four-star, the five-star, or my current favorite, the trusty old letter grades. But rating this issue, or the last few issues, of Buffy would be…difficult. I have been able to enjoy them while still being incredibly frustrated and confused by the new directions the story has taken.