Wallpaper of the Week: Wolverine vs. Hulk

October 8, 2009

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FROM JASON’S DESKTOP — Well, that was a nice break.

I didn’t mean to take off the entire month of September. Sorry ’bout that. It’s not my fault — the siren lure of Netflix  is entirely to blame. I joined up in late July and, well, you’ve seen the posts slip.

There was also a slight obsession with Team Fortress 2. Expect another absence in November when Left 4 Dead 2 drops.

Netflix, though, has allowed me to catch up on a backlog of movies that I had wanted to see. Because I have been working nights, getting to the video rental store wasn’t an option. With streaming movies and delivery to my mailbox, that’s no longer a problem.

A few weeks ago, the mail brought me Hulk Vs., a double-feature released in January by Marvel. One flick shows Wolverine taking on Hulk while his old Department K enemies interfere. The other story on the disc has Loki possessing the Hulk in a plot to overthrow Asgard during the Odinsleep.

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The animation of neither is stellar; however, the action is something of a fanboy wet dream. The Wolverine tale is a throwback to the characters’ first run-in back in 1974 and features Lady Deathstrike, Deadpool (whose dialog was spot-on), Sabretooth, and Omega Red. Thor’s story is full of rainbows (oh, I hate the Asgard designs), and features the Enchantress, Sif, and even a trip to the underworld to visit Hela.

I was surprised to see a 7.1 rating for Hulk Vs. on IMDB. Personally, it was a guilty pleasure — a callback to my infantile love for the old Hulk television show. I would have rated the double-feature at about five out of 10. Maybe the Marvel fanboys have skewed the data. But I’d say that if you enjoyed some other direct-to-video comic adapatations (Ultimate Avengers, The Invincible Iron Man, Dr. Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme), then you’ll probably get a kick out of this one, too.

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Now, it took me a while to find some decent Hulk vs. Wolverine wallpapers, so enjoy these ones, aight? As always, click the thumbnail to enbiggen.

Part of the problem getting higher-quality desktops involved the demise of a certain chan aggregator — you might remember I was a fan — called 4scrape (RIP). Since it went belly-up, some brilliant netizens have delved into the source code and compiled their own 4scrape clones. The one I’ve latched onto is 4walled, which does the job pretty well despite some load time and formatting issues.

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No exaggeration — Transmorphers is movie diarrhea

August 5, 2009

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FROM JASON’S ETERNAL DISMAY — I have seen the face of evil, and it is Transmorphers.

God damn you to hell, Netflix. I finally decide to sign up, and this is what you give me? Sure, I asked for it. Sure, I sat and watched it. Sure, I’m a sucker for a terrible movie. But even my ironic and self-flagellating love of horrible C-list films didn’t prepare me for this.

Let’s start with metrics. Netflix users give Transmorphers a 1.9 stars out of five. More discriminating users of IMDB give it a 1.9 out of 10 — making the 2007 film from The Asylum the single worst-rated movie I have ever indulged in, worse even than Going Overboard starring Adam Sandler, heretofore believed to be the single most despicable film in circulation.

The Asylum, of course, is the direct-to-video “mockbuster” filmhouse behind other such gems as The Terminators, Street Racer, Universal Soldiers, Snakes on a Train, and The Da Vinci Treasure. They even drew very direct legal ire from Fox not too long ago for… wait for it… a release called The Day the Earth Stopped.

From the jacket: A race of alien robots has conquered the Earth and forced humanity underground. After three hundred years of domination, a small group of humans develop a plan to defeat the mechanical invaders in the ultimate battle between man and machine.

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Not only does Transmorphers (originally titled Robot Wars) prey on its obvious titular counterpart (it was released a week prior to Michael Bay’s Transformers), but it also cannibalizes conventions from The Matrix and The Terminator. There are lots of sunglasses at night. There’s a hidden city full of human resistance fighters (that might as well be Zion). There’s lots of faux leather. The robots have plunged Earth into eternal darkness. There’s EMP. There are machines that think they are human. There are armies of bipedal robuts and what amounts to Skynet controlling them all.

Thank god there’s no time travel.

There’s also an awkward lesbian subplot, an implied sex-bot, effects that look like Ray Harryhausen crammed them onto a mid-90s CD-ROM game, long and preachy expository scenes filled with the worst kind of dialog, even lousier delivery, and what I can honestly say is the most “amazing” green screen speeder bike chase ever captured on film.

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I’m trying not to embellish here. There’s very little praise I can conjure though for a film where the same person shouts that the attacking robots have “breached all perimeters” not once, not twice, but three times — about 15 minutes apart each time. You can only breach all perimeters once. After that, they’re all breached.

In short, Transmorphers has all the style and substance of Cleopatra 2525, all the originality of a knock-knock joke, and all the sophistication of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. And it seems to be made completely in earnest.

I guess writer/director Leigh Scott understands at least that this isn’t Lawrence of Arabia. On his blog, he wrote:

The idea of trying to make a futuristic period piece with giant robots with the budget of the average AFI short film was a challenge that I couldn’t resist. While most people in Hollywood marvel at their own excess, I have often been obsessed with the exact opposite; doing the impossible for absolutely no money. Was it a disaster? Sure. Was it fun? Absolutely.

Later on the same blog:

Look, genre movies are a mathematical equation. 50% visuals. 50% sound. So, there was a sync issue on Transmorphers…there goes 50%. Then we couldn’t afford a dolly so take away 10% of the visuals. Dock it 10% because we didn’t discover the awesome set that is featured in the first ten minutes until months after principal photography. Then take away 20% because the film is called Transmorphers and the robots are lame and don’t really Transmorph that much. So, you have 10% of a movie there.

There are some films that are so bad you groan, and it’s fun. This one, though, transcends that feeling. It’s the kind of movie you inflict on unsuspecting friends as revenge for dating your little sister. It’s the kind of movie you pop in to clear the room when unwanted guests are camping out at your house. It’s the kind of movie that you use to pry information out of terrorists in a ticking time-bomb scenario. It’s the kind of movie you use to punish small children for wetting the bed.

Don’t watch it. I already watched it for you, and the scars aren’t likely to heal anytime soon. To my dear friend Richard Smith, I’d be willing to pit Transmorphers against APEX any day.


Død Snø: Shawn of the Dead meets the Third Reich?

April 18, 2009

dodsno01FROM JASON’S DVD PLAYER — I now know two words in Norwegian. Død means “dead,” while Snø translates easily enough to “snow.”

I doubt I’ll ever have use for the phrase, except when I go hunting at Blockbuster this summer for the Norwegian-indie-Nazi-zombie-horror-comedy flick Død Snø, set for release June 12 in the States.

Seemingly taking queues from Shawn of the Dead’s simultaneous genre-revitalizing and self-mocking humor, the Scandinavian undead epic pits reanimated fascists against vacationing teens who stumble on a cache of stolen Nazi gold.

The pillaged treasure was hidden during the Reich’s occupation of Norway during World War II, and a Pirates of the Caribbean-esque cursed horde rises to claim it back when the protagonists find it in a desolate mountain cabin.

Seriously, this is a geek orgasm. I can’t wait to see it.

I’m not normally a fan of zombies flicks, though several works in recent years have worked to change that (the aforementioned Simon Pegg film and Left 4 Dead among them). I’ve never been a fan of gore for gore’s sake; but if a work can be more about creativity and subtle fun-poking at genre cliches instead of blood and intestines, then I’m all in.

I also don’t really give a hoot about another Romero allegorical commentary about American consumerism.

Dead Snow sounds like it’s going to be more horror than comedy, but with consistent piss-taking — I’m just not sure whether they buzz around the movie is due to intentional or unintentional humor. Norwegians are smart. They can’t possibly think they can get away with stock baddies like Nazis rising from the icy grave, for shit’s sake.

One thing is sure: I like Scandinavians. They seem so laid back. I’ve never heard of anyone being prejudiced against them. The northern ladies are hot (I’d like to bjork de bjork de bjork them like the Swedish Chef). And somehow they seem to be at once at the leading edge of fashion while still wearing Thor hair and knit sweaters.

The film was released in Norway on my birthday in January, and was shown at Sundance before IFC purchased North American distribution rights. IFC is the same indie party behind Y Tu Mamá También, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Fahrenheit 9/11, and the controversial Transamerica.

Unfortunately, kids, you won’t be able to slap Dead Snow on your Netflix queue this summer because IFC has an exclusive distribution deal with Blockbuster — though I give even odds that Blockbuster will be belly-up in the next year.

Regardless, Død Snø is already getting decent ratings from folks in-the-know, scoring 7.0 on IMDB. That’s better than Innerspace, The ‘Burbs, Young Guns, Heavy Metal, Hot Shots!, Ghostbusters 2, or Talladega Nights.

There are some weird demographic splits in the mix, too. Usually, zombie and other horror flicks are the demesne of the male geeks, but tracking for Dead Snow is actually better among females. What’s more, it’s getting an average IMDB rating of 9.5 from women 45 and older, while men in the same age group only give it an average 6.2.

And that’s got me wondering.

I’ve only got one beef so far with the movie: the tagline. It’s “Ein! Zwei! Die!” That’s fine, I suppose, but if you’re a Nazi German, then you think they’re saying, “One! Two! The!”

Oh, and by the way, I know that pesky Ø symbol has been nagging at you the entire time you’ve been reading this. Here’s the wiki entry so you can stop obsessing.