Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review: STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (2015)

Exactly 1/2 of F. Gary Gray's STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON is thrilling, top-tier musical/biopic entertainment. It crackles with near-literal electricity from the first scenes of Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) dodging likely-impending death in a drug deal gone bad only "thanks" to the arrival of an even more fearsome LAPD right up through the formation, creation and pop-explosion of N.W.A and climaxes with a blowout setpiece where a live performance of "Fuck tha Police" in Detroit (which local cops had warned them not to perform) erupts into a riot that ends with N.W.A arrested yet symbolically victorious.

It's some of the coolest, most assured "mythic history" filmmaking of the year, alive with righteous anger, the thrill of creative inspiration and authentic-feeling early-90s Los Angeles milieu... and then that rapturous Detroit sequence concludes and the whole production slips back down to just "decent" territory - clearly unable to find a natural ending other than speeding through an at once over-sanitized and over-cranked highlight reel - focused mainly on contract disputes and paperwork, no less - to reach Eazy's AIDS death in 1995.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Really That Good: NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION

Monday, August 17, 2015

IN BOB WE TRUST: "Fantastic Four Sucks ...Now What?"

The first episode of our now-official full-series pickup through 2016 with ScrewAttack!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Six Months Later, I Am Alive

So. Today is exactly six months to the day that I was abruptly, without forewarning (rudely and rather unprofessionally, actually, now that I reflect on it) informed that my near-decade (8 years!) of tenure at The Escapist was at an end - just like that.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Incomplete Thoughts on STONEWALL

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One has to imagine that Roland Emmerich is genuinely surprised to be catching "friendly fire" over his gay rights historical drama STONEWALL. Sure, controversy was probably something he considered innevitable - even welcome, given the film's clear "Hey, awards season: Look at me!!!" Fall release and low-key hype machine - but surely the long-time "out" gay filmmaker and activist didn't expect to find himself under fire from elements within the LGBTQ community itself. To the degree that Emmerich self-identifies with the heroes of films, it's not hard to imagine that he feels a bit like an alternate-universe version of Bill Pullman's President Whitmore from INDEPENDENCE DAY: One who, upon delivering The Greatest Battle Speech Ever, found himself facing not applause but a chorus of indifference and even outrage: "Stuff your battle-plan, man!" "Who says we WANT to fight the aliens!?" "Since when are YOU in charge!?"

Now, as a straight white guy, I have just about the least authority imaginable about what anyone else should be upset about. But, since I am a film writer who recently released an entire video that (partly) deals with Emmerich as a political filmmaker and will almost certainly end up reviewing/covering STONEWALL a month or so from now, I think it's at least worth putting some (pre-viewing) thoughts on the matter down while we're all still considering what's to be made of this one.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Monday, August 03, 2015

Life Goals

What's this? Oh, nothing - just a write-up about/interview-with yours truly in THE NEW YORKER - only one of the most respected publications... pretty much ever, really.

Do I feel good about this? You bet your ass I do. But I feel even better about THIS passage making it into print:

"Donald Trump, for instance, gives ranters a bad name. "Fuck that guy,” Chipman said."

My work here is done.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Review: VACATION (2015)

This review made possible in part by The MovieBob Patreon.


Despite the knowing self-mockery already displayed in the trailers, I feel like a certain amount of the new VACATION's success is going to depend on how audiences (in the U.S. at least) feel about its relationship to the VACATION franchise - not in terms of "continuity," but in terms of a vague sense of tonal-rightness: Of the now five "canonical" films in the series, on the first and third are in regular rotation, but they cast a long shadow over 80s and 90s comedy. People who've never even seen a VACATION movie feel they "know" what one is and/or should be, and I wonder if the "danger" for this continuation is that it's aiming squarely for the darker, more mean-spirited original... which I've long suspected has been deposed as the defining entry in the series by the more sentimentally-michevious CHRISTMAS VACATION.

The question of whether or not this new VACATION is any good or not, apart from whether audiences will actually embrace it, is a more complicated matter...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Review: TERMINATOR GENISYS

Because YOU demanded it!



P.S. "The MovieBob Patreon" - maybe you've heard of it?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Michael Bay's BENGHAZI Movie. Yes, For Real.

This piece made possible in part by The MovieBob Patreon


For my international readers: American politics is still currently consumed by conspiracy theories surrounding the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya in 2012. The event (which resulted in the deaths of multiple CIA operatives and at least two longtime American diplomats) is universally regarded as a tragedy, but differences in accounts of the day re: why relief was not deployed earlier and on whose authority have lead to widespread speculation and theories, most settling on a displacement of blame ("Someone important fucked up and their incompetence is being covered up"); but for a particular brand of unhinged paranoiac (read: The Republican voting-base) it's another insidious betrayal by President Evil - aka Barack Obama.

So goes some of the more popular lunacy: Obama and Hillary Clinton, in order to placate their respective Black Panther and Feminazi foot-soldiers (who are, for some reason, aligned with Islamic Fundamentalism in this scenario) "allowed" the Americans stationed there to die as some sort of sacrifice to either Al Qaeda, Gaia, or both. Or neither. Maybe they're just so evil it doesn't matter. Anyway, for obvious reasons it's not an issue that Democrats or "mainstream" Republicans are particularly hot to discuss (bringing it up during the last election led to one of Mitt Romney's most embarassing public gaffes), so the only time you really hear about it is when some hot-air escapes the right-wing talk radio echo-chamber.

In any case, you can see why this is fodder for a movie Hollywood would be desperate to make but almost no one would want to lend their name to: It's a more topical BLACK HAWK DOWN, with the potential to draw major box-office on curiosity alone... but it's also almost-certain to become co-opted by GOP/Tea-Party types and wind up bearing some super-ugly stigma. You'd basically need a major director who lives and breathes action, has a comfortable relationship with the "security community," desperately wants attention (and awards) as a Serious Filmmaker but also doesn't give a fuck about a bad media image.

Commissioner... get to the roof and light The BAY Signal...

PIXELS (2015) Review: TEXT-VERSION:

Because you demanded it, here (after the jump) a text version of my now-famous PIXELS review. And hey, while you're here, maybe consider visiting The MovieBob Patreon?


Monday, July 27, 2015

IN BOB WE TRUST: "Does Batman Need a New Origin?"

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Pitch Me, Mr. B: MARVEL'S X-MEN

This piece made possible in part by The MovieBob Patreon. Please consider becoming a Patron.


In case you missed the earlier installments of this: Here's what's up, here's the first one and here's the second.

So... yeah, hypothetical "scriptment" pitches for hypothetical movie adaptations. Thought exercise and all that.

This one will be a touch on the different side, less of a blow-by-blow and more of an outline; since in this instance the "challenge" isn't to figure out how to turn the X-MEN franchise into a movie (that's been done) but to work out how a "reboot" of the series might be made to fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe if and when the rights to the characters were to fall back under Marvel/Disney's control.

Principal aims: Work out the "purpose" of Mutants in an MCU which, within a few years, will likely have already burned through the "disenfranchised minority metaphor" business using THE INHUMANS. Renew focus on the sexual/relationship politics-dominated "soap opera" interplay that characterized the Claremont/Cockrum/Byrne era wherein these characters became popular.

See what I came up with after the jump:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Time To Light The Lights.

This is the "pilot pitch" for the upcoming ABC prime-time revival of THE MUPPET SHOW. It represents probably the best use anyone has made of these characters since at least MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND (and I liked the first of the two recent movies, so don't start any shit.)

I love The Muppets like few other things, and this feels like it could be something really spectacular. The movies have always been fine - at least three of them are great - but these characters belong on TV in this exact type of farce. So excited.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Did I Just See What I Think I Saw in ANT-MAN? (UPDATED!)

So. Just saw ANT-MAN for a second time, just because. Hold's up - this one really works. Not GUARDIANS-level transcendent, but really good.

Anyway! Long story short: By now you've heard that there's quite a bit of Universe-building business sprinkled throughout this one - multiple cameos, two post-credits beats and a no-name name-drop. But on my second viewing, I'm reasonably certain I caught a glimpse of something that's either a sly inside-reference, the most well-hidden Easter Egg since Cap's prototype shield on the workbench in IRON MAN (the first one) ...or I'm seeing things.

Obviously, to say/show more would be a MASSIVE SPOILER even if I'm wrong, given the sequence it occurs in. So I'll put the rest of this after the jump:

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015

Suicide Is Painless

If there's ONE reason to be excited about comic-book continuity being a "movie thing" now, outside of just "because it can be," it's that the medium is rife with great material that really only works when it has a Universe backing it up. Among the best examples of that: "Suicide Squad," a long-lived DC cult-fave whose knockout premise (an Government program that offers conditional pardons to incarcerated supervillains if they agree to use their special powers/skills for off-the-books, high-risk covert dirty-work assignments) just wouldn't be as much of a knockout if we didn't "know" these people were the assembled nemeses of a whole planet full of Batmans, Supermans, Flashes, etc.

With that in mind, just the knowledge that there is now going to be a cohesive (for good or ill) DC Movie Universe makes this already fairly kick-ass (despite being obviously comprised of very early, obviously-unfinished footage) SUICIDE SQUAD trailer feel like it's got real weight to it. Plus, David Ayer is a fascinating choice for directing this sort of material, and even Will Smith looks like he showed up to play:


Sunday, July 12, 2015

RIP Saturo Iwata - 1959-2015

Tragic news. Saturo Iwata, the colorful CEO and "public face" of Nintendo since 2002, has died of an ongoing health issue at the age of 55.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

I Want To Believe

Just because I'm anticipating being called a spoilsport or overly-negative because reasons, I feel like briefly mentioning that THIS feels like genuine gods-honest hope to me:



I still have no real "faith" in JJ Abrams. I think he's an average technician (at best) with deeply limited vision and terrible creative instincts. But he clearly has passion for this, and so does everyone else involved so far - even Ford. Sometimes that can override a lot. OR I'm just a sucker for puppets and model-work and monster-costumes and I've missed BTS reels that are something other than mocap suits and greenscreens SO. MUCH...

This might work. This might actually work.

BATMAN V SUPERMAN Comic-Con Trailer Now Online

This piece supported in part thanks to The MovieBob Patreon. Please consider becoming a Patron today.


2:28 -  Oh, snap! So that's what happened to Batman's parents! Whew. Man, I was worried they were never going to tell us!


Thursday, July 09, 2015

Is GOOSEBUMPS Still A Thing? This Movie Hopes So.

In case you forgot they were making this, here's the trailer for the GOOSEBUMPS movie - which for whatever reason seems to be not making any kind of big deal that Jack Black is supposed to be playing the "actual" R.L. Stine:


Monday, July 06, 2015

Japan Accepts U.S. Challenge In Giant Robot Combat. No, Really.

This is for real: Japanese robotics engineers Suidobashi built a fuctioning, weaponized, human-piloted mecha called The Kuratas. An American firm, Megabots, built one of their own - a two-pilot (because of course) beast with similar capabilities... and then challenged their Japanese counterparts to a fight. Between the robots:



...a challenge which Suidobashi has now accepted, because "Giant robots are Japanese culture" - though they appear to stipulate that they first want both robots to outfit for melee combat, as opposed to their current functions.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Really That Good: INDEPENDENCE DAY

This series brought to you in part by contributors to The MovieBob Patreon




It's one of the biggest blockbusters of all time and a cross-generational classic for action fans, yet on its initial release it was treated by many as a punchline about "dumbed-down" Hollywood moviemaking. 20 years later, is there something smarter and more profound hiding behind the big explosions and bombastic speeches of ID4? Really That Good aims to find out...

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Steef Chowbes

Yeah, I'll say it - this could be the best film of the year, and whether or not I'll be able to engage is going to be contingent on the degree I can ignore Fassbender's bizarro-world accent (it doesn't even sound like Fassbender's usual voice) as Steef Chowbes STEVE JOBS.