Biopics are imperfect. They are all fiction of a sort out of necessity. They have to invent conversations and sometimes even characters and events to make a person’s life cinematic. The best of them capture the spirit of the person and inspire you to learn more about them. Amelia Earhart is unquestionably one of the most fascinating figures of the 20th century. However, after watching her biopic, I have to conclude that either this film is a massive load of boring nonsense, or there was nothing interesting about Earhart whatsoever.

Hillary Swank, though not a favorite mine, is a talented actress and seems perfect for the role, but is given nothing to do. The entire movie is Amelia at celebrations stating how women can do anything men can do intermixed with shots of planes flying majestically while Swank reads flight poetry. That’s 70% of the movie. No effort to explore Earhart’s motivations, personality, or spirit are made. What made this woman tick? Why was she so driven to do what no woman ever had before? That’s interesting. Turning her into some kind of feminist PR machine is not interesting. This biopic has an additional problem which is-there’s no end. No one will ever know what happened to Amelia Earhart. Too much time has passed. So if you’re going to succeed at making a biopic of someone whose end is uncertain, you have to go into that final flight already in love with them, or at least so invested in their success that when she disappears it should hit you like a hammer blow. The movie completely fails to do that and fails the aviatrix it aims to honor. Not worth even a rental.


Movie Review: Nine (2009) “How Do You Waste Daniel Day-Lewis?”

Penelope Cruz in Nine

I’m not a big fan of musicals. Oddly enough, though, when you marry a big fan of musicals, you end up watching a tremendous lot of them regardless of your pre-marriage inclinations towards the genre. I can recognize a good one. Chicago-for instance-is a film I really don’t like tremendously, but I can tell you it’s a really well done musical. I use the example of Chicago, because Rob Marshall, the director of that film, made Nine. Nine is, not to mince words, not a good musical. Continue reading Movie Review: Nine (2009) “How Do You Waste Daniel Day-Lewis?”


I wonder how many idiot parents took their kids to this movie thinking it was some kind of normal super hero film. I won’t even get into the fact that it’s rated R and it’s called KICK ASS, for the love of Pete, but I had five-year-olds all over my theatre. This, for those of you have not read the miniseries by Mark Millar (who also wrote Wanted), is not a normal super hero movie. It…ok, I’m trying to think of another way to put this, but really the only way to accurately describe it (and I’m stealing this from a friend) is Kick Ass is some f@@$ed up shit. Pardon the language, but it’s completely true and we’ll just go ahead and invent the acronym FUS for future use.

The basic premise is what would happen if a normal teenager put on a costume and tried to fight crime? The answer, of course, is that he would get the holy hell beat out of him. My problem with the story, and my biggest problem with the movie, is that Millar (as is typical for him) can’t stick to this premise and the movie can’t decide what it wants to be. Is it a super hero film, action film, comedic parody, satire, or all of these at once? The original premise, which is a lot of fun and a good idea, is totally lost by the time the movie’s over. The overall story is faithful to the comic, but with a lot of little changes that I think actually improve the story.

The movie is completely stolen by Hit Girl and Big Daddy, who are vigilantes that gravitate towards Kick Ass once he goes public with his fight on crime. Hit Girl is an 11-year-old sociopath. Are you prepared to see a cute little girl cut up an entire room full of mobsters? How about watching her father shoot her in the chest while she’s wearing kevlar to make her tougher? Oh, how about watching her get in a fist fight with a mobster who repeatedly punches this 11 year old in the face? If these things may bother you, then I have to refer you to my above FUS summary. These aren’t even some of the weirdest things and they are NOTHING compared to some of the stuff in the comic. I apparently have no problem with all of this because when Hit Girl was onscreen, I loved the film. I love Nic Cage’s Big Daddy and how he adopted this horrible Shatneresque voice for when he was in costume. They completely overshadow the rest of the movie. I wanted more of them.

What I liked: the action scenes were outstanding, there were some truly funny moments, and have I mentioned how awesome Hit Girl is? What I didn’t: pointless crudity (yeah even in a movie like this), the meandering tone of the film, pop culture references that will date it, and some annoying song choices to underscore action scenes. Know what you’re walking into with it, and you’ll have some fun. Most people who do seem to like it even more than I do, but don’t fool yourselves….this is some FUS.

Renaissance News Vol. 2 Issue 11

Greetings faithful Renaissance Men and Women and welcome to another issue of concise news of the arcane. Thanks so much for all the hits on the site and the kind comments. Keep them up! It’s great to hear from people. Happy Cinco de Mayo to you in whatever state of inebriation you are currently ensconced! And now…your bits of tid…

  • The next Call of Duty title is officially titled Call of Duty: Black Ops and will be released November 9th.
  • If you enjoyed using the force to hurl Jawas hundreds of yards (and that’s what we all played Star Wars: The Force Unleashed to do), the sequel The Force Unleashed II will hit consoles October 26th.
  • Apple has sold 1 million iPads in under a month. For those of you tracking the “Dave Still Does not Have an iPad” fund, I received another sarcastic nickel from my sister-in-law, bringing our grand total to a heavily sarcastic dime. $499.89 to go! The dream is ALIVE!
  • If you enjoyed Kick-Ass and thought “hey that director would make a great X-Men movie” then you are in luck! Matthew Vaughn will direct X-Men: First Class and the film has a tentative release date of June 3, 2011.
  • Hugo Weaving has been confirmed as the Red Skull in Captain America, but then you knew that, didn’t you? We here at the RN scooped the Marvel announcement by several weeks! Woo HOO! Also expect to see Tony Stark’s father, Howard Stark, appear in the film. Stark Sr. will be played in both Iron Man 2 and Capt. America by John Slattery of Mad Men fame.
  • Batman 3 has an official release date of July 30, 2012, which you might already knew if you were following the Twitter feed! @sleeplessdave, people!
  • Patrick Dempsey (Grey’s Anatomy) has joined the cast of Transformers 3: Transforming Dave’s Childhood Memories Into Scatological Racism.
  • It looks like Die Hard 5 (yes I have I title: Die Hard: Just Die Already) is a go with a scriptwriter hired and John McClane is expected to return.
  • Look for another secret JJ Abrams trailer with Iron Man 2 this weekend. The last time we had one of these, we got Cloverfield, so it’s speculated that this may be a Cloverfield sequel or a new project altogether (the rumored title is Super 8). Like you needed another reason to go to Iron Man 2. By the way, don’t move until the credits are over. You’re in for another surprise.
  • The Spierig Brothers (Daybreakers) have been tapped to direct the sequel to The Dark Crystal, entitled The Power of the Dark Crystal.
  • Stephen Spielberg’s next directorial effort will be an adaptation of the World War I novel War Horse.
  • Hey a franchise that’s actually done! No more Rambo according to Sylvester Stallone, who wants to focus on directing. Now watch them announce Young Rambo before I finish typing this.
  • Yea, Transformers and GI Joe news. The childhood dreams continue to fade….Ok, GI Joe 2 is looking to target Summer 2012 with another abomination.
  • Ron Howard will bring Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series to the screen in a series of films.
  • The only possible reason that you would rent the Clash of the Titans blu ray is that your first sneak peek of Green Lantern will be on the disc. Wait until someone leaks it online, people. Save yourselves two hours.
  • Alice in Wonderland has moved into 10th place on the all-time box office worldwide grosser with $928 million moving past Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The film is the most financially successful of Tim Burton’s career.
  • Mark Millar announced that Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Walls (how is that not sillier than my made up title) will be made and is looking at 2012 for a release. Millar envisions a trio of movies so you may already start trying to come up with a sillier title for the third film.
  • FX has renewed the best new show of the year, Justified, for a second season.
  • It looks like neither Zoolander or Anchorman will be getting sequels due to budget issues.
  • The official word from the coroner’s office is that former child star, Corey Haim, died of complications from pneumonia that had nothing to do with the drugs found in his system.
  • Star of stage and screen, Lynn Redgrave, has passed away after an eight year battle with cancer. She was 67.
  • Steve Carrell has announced that the next season of The Office will be his last (and likely the last for the show).
  • May 23rd’s Lost series finale will be 2.5 hours long.
  • DVD Release Dates:
    Batman: Under the Red Hood (DC Animated Movie), July 27th
    Brooklyn’s Finest, July 6th
    Green Zone, June 29th
    Scrubs: The Complete Ninth and Final Season, September 28th
  • Box Office
    1. Nightmare on Elm Street, $32.9 million
    2. How to Train Your Dragon, $10.6 million
    3. Date Night, $7.6 million
    4. The Back-Up Plan, $7.3 million
    5. Furry Vengeance, $6.6 million
  • Rolling Stone Top 5 Album Chart
    1. “The Adventures of Bobby Ray” by B.0.B.
    2. “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum
    3. “Fever” by Bullet for My Valentine
    4. “My World’s 2.0” by Justin Bieber (can we all just get over him…please?)
    5. “Iron Man 2 Soundtrack” by AC/DC
  • Best Selling Video Games
    1. Pokemon Heart Gold, DS
    2. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction, XBOX 360
    3. Wii Sports, Wii
    4. Monster Hunter Tri, Wii
    5. Wii Fit Plus, Wii
  • New York Times Hardcover Bestsellers
    1. Deliver Ourselves from Evil by David Baldacci
    2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
    3. The Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander McCall Smith
    4. This Body of Death by Elizabeth George
    5. Lucid Intervals by Stuart Woods

Clash of the Titans

I think, in the future, my rule of thumb will be to avoid seeing all movies containing krakens. After all, the kraken was the reason I dragged my wife to see this. The two seconds of the kraken roaring in the trailer looked spectacular and I thought it would be stupid, but-hey-we’d have some awesome f/x with great creatures and maybe it’d be fun. It was not fun. The f/x budget was blown on the kraken, who is onscreen for all of 15-20 seconds, and the rest of the creatures were bad (the medusa in particular). Sam Worthington continues to be cardboard in huge movies. I don’t know why he keeps getting huge roles when I have yet to see an ounce of acting talent from him, but now he has this and Avatar as franchises so we’re stuck with him. The story is a mishmash of a number of myths and the stitching together of them all makes no sense. You eventually give up trying to follow what’s going on and just zone out. Seventeen years ago Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson were in Schindler’s List. I know they were. I’ve seen it. I own it on DVD. Why are they now together doing some of the hammiest overacting (Fiennes in particular is showing how subtle his Voldemort is by comparison) of the year? Nothing really to hold on to here. There are films more overtly awful, but there’s nothing about this one to recommend itself.
2.25/10 (all 2.25 points are for the quality of the 20 kraken seconds)

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