Robin Hood

Robin charging into battle against the French.

I — I don’t know where to start. It’s all so strange.

I’m best at the Tudor time period, but I’ve also read a lot about Eleanor of Aquitaine and her sons because — let’s face it — Eleanor was the coolest European noblewoman ever. She told the King of France to take a hike, and he did. Eileen Atkins makes a pretty good Eleanor, don’t get me wrong. The acting’s good all around. But the history. Oh, the history.

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Iron Man 2

Iron Man gleaming in the sun, repulsor ray at the ready.

The thing about sequels (usually) is that they get more expensive and more outrageous. If you destroy ten cars in the first movie, you have to wreck thirty in the next, and if you make it to four or five, you’re destroying two-thirds of the annual output of Detroit. And the ways in which the cars are wrecked get exponentially weirder. A pile-up on the freeway isn’t enough anymore. A few sequels down the road (so to speak), filmmakers apparently feel required to throw them at airborne helicopters or have them melted down by an erupting volcano or something.

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Nightmare on Elm Street

Jackie Earle Haley as the new and not really improved Freddy Krueger.

I never saw the original Nightmare on Elm Street. I know, what kind of movie critic does that make me, right? It’s considered something of a classic of the genre, and here’s me, not watching it. It isn’t because I thought it was bad, though; it’s because I’m such a complete coward about scary movies. But I gathered up my courage, thought of you, my 49 loyal fans, and headed out to the theatre, fully prepared to have to cover my eyes for at least 30 of the film’s 95 minutes.

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The Losers

The Losers, as envisioned in the comic book and the movie.

You know, movies based on comic books are hard to review, too. I like comic books, graphic novels, all that kind of stuff, so I suspect I probably tend to like movies based on them a little more than the average non-comic-reader. I think it makes me second-guess myself when I’m trying to rate them. As usual, I tried my best to avoid reading other people’s ratings, but sometimes things sneak past me and I catch a phrase like “very mixed reviews” that leaves me wondering if I’m being too generous.

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The Wisconsin Film Festival, 2010, Part II: Return of the Killer Festival

Juan and Malamadre bond, in a scary sort of way.

This one’s based on a book, too, only just one book this time: Celda 211, by Francisco PĂ©rez Gandul. It’s set in Spain, mostly in and around what looks to be a very large, very high-security prison, so right there I knew it was going to be just as bad as Red Riding, if not worse. And it was kind of worse, at least on average, since this time they only had about two hours to work with.

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Red Riding

1974's reporter, Eddie; 1980's detective, Peter; and 1983's lawyer, John

Every year, I go to the Wisconsin Film Festival in Madison, and wallow in the excitement of having literally hundreds of movies available to watch that I might never have seen otherwise. This was the twelfth year, and it’s huge now compared to what it was like the first time I went, way back in the third year, I think it was. Then, it was actually humanly possible to watch all the films over the two and half days of the festival. Most of them were shown at least two or three times.
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Clash of the Titans

The Kraken shows off allll his huge, sharp, pointy teeth.

I mentioned once before that in many movies, the best way to tell the heroes from the villains is to look at their offices. Impossibly neat and tidy office = villain. Terribly messy and disorganized office = hero. Well, no one has any offices here, but this time you can tell a lot by the tails. Anything with a tail (prehensile, not one that just hangs there) is trying to kill people.
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Repo Men

Jude Law pointing a gun and looking screaming mad.

Of course it’s easy to talk about the good movies. You leave the theatre still thinking about the film, reminding yourself to let Steve know how good it was, because he’ll love it, maybe even wondering when you’ll be able to buy a copy to watch at home. And it’s easy to talk about the bad movies, too. You want to find someone to vent to about the two hours you just completely wasted, not to mention the cost of the tickets and snacks. Maybe you also want to warn people away.
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Green Zone

Matt Damon as Roy Miller, trying to unravel the puzzle.

It’s 2003. Do you know where your weapons of mass destruction are?

I suppose that was a common joke back then, but luckily or not, I can’t really remember back that far. Truthfully, in spite of the awesomeness that is Matt Damon, I was a little unsure about this film because I’m so terrible at keeping track of politics and current events, which is basically the entirety of the movie. It’s okay, though; as I suspected, they spell everything out quite clearly for the politically challenged like me, so you have a good plot and the awesomeness that is Matt Damon. What more could you want?
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The Comic Book that Ate Hollywood

Kaboom! Pow! Kablooey! The art of the visual sound effect.

Well, took over Hollywood would be more accurate, but not as dramatic. The fact is, from Superman to Batman, Spider-Man to Iron Man, the movies have always had a place for heroes (at least as long as they have ‘man’ in their names somewhere, apparently). Okay, there’s also the Fantastic Four, but face it — they have probably the worst track record ever for comic book heroes making the transition to the silver screen. If you count characters like Zorro and ruthless anti-heroes like V of V for Vendetta, that makes for a lot of super-hero flicks.
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