Monthly Archives: June 2011

"The iTunes Store Could Not Process Your Request"

Like a lot of people, I prefer exercising with music.  Unlike… well virtually everyone who isn’t a complete douche nozzle, I like to throw in a selection from a movie soundtrack. Here are some worthy of gracing your Zune’s playlists. Please Note: None of these are from any Star Wars movie. For that alone, I deserve your attention:

“Molossus” – Batman Begins

Oh come on. Don’t act like you’re surprised by this one. Besides, it’s not who I am underneath, but how many crunches I do that defines me. I’ll even go out on a limb and say this is a much cooler theme than Danny Elfman’s. Why? Consider what would make better entrance music for a major league reliever. No brainer. I can almost hear the announcer now:

Ladies and gentlemen, posting a 6.27 ERA with 0 wins and 3 
saves through 32 opportunities this season… Joe Nathan!
Only kidding about the pitching of course. I’ve got more of a badminton frame anyway. A girl can still dream though, right?

“Like a Dog Chasing Cars” – The Dark Knight

From here on out, you can read “no Star Wars” as “a whole lotta comic book crap.” In all seriousness though, this track is the tits, an esteemed level of greatness that rests somewhere between “the shit” and “the bomb.” As proof, here’s a breakdown of what’s going through my head whenever this plays:

0:00  Why the fuck would anyone wake up this early to sweat all over a treadmill?  
0:25  Seriously what was I thinking? 9 A.M. on a Sunday? 
0:34  The early bird doesn’t get the worm.  He gets the hangover and a sweaty crotch.
0:58  I think that girl on the elliptical just winked at me.
1:02  Nope.  Definitely wasn’t a wink.  
1:04  Great.  Now she’s staring at you.
1:05  Quick, do something to make it less awkward.
1:07  Shouldn’t have waved at her.  Should not have waved.
1:37  Screw it.  I’m going home to play Wii Fit.  We’ll call it a wash.
1:53  Hold on… I’m not sure where this is going… but I like it.
2:11  Awww yeah.  
2:18  I’m totally making this half-mile my bitch.
2:27  Drums!  
2:31  Lots of drums! 
2:37  And strings?!
2:44  Woah. Feeling a bit dizzy.  Too bad I’m owning this run too much to give a crap!
2:50  I’m going fast!
2:51  Jesus H. it is hot in here.
2:52  Real fast!
2:53  Forget this pounding headache.  It’s like my feet arent even touching the treadmill… 

2:55 Am I levitating?
2:57  Oh my God. Oh my God. OH MY GOD

3:00  I’M DOING IT! HA HAAA!  AFTER ALL THE YEARS OF TORMENT, I’M FUCKING FLYING! I TOLD YOU MOTHER FU-


I usually pass out before the last third of the song, but you get the gist of it. And just because I haven’t  fully sucked off Christopher Nolan to climax yet, I’ll throw this in, if only because it totally blows my mind:

Mr. Zimmer, you complete me.

“Space Jam” – Space Jam 

I’m almost positive this was on our gym teacher’s Jock Jams CD. What a nostalgia trip. I remember dunking on so many kids to this back in junior high. And by “dunking on kids” I mean singing it to myself during band rehearsal.

“Lose Yourself” – 8 Mile

 
Didn’t see this one coming did ya? I’m a lot more sensitive than you might think. That’s why I listen to Eminem. So if Waka Flocka’s too high brow for you, this is a solid pump-up track. And let’s face it: an Eminem video is likely the only time white people can pull off the wife beater anyway.

“Rinzler” – Tron: Legacy

Speaking of great pump-up tunes, this one’s right up there, because the only thing cooler than a white rapper is a French electronica Disney soundtrack. I don’t remember where I was going with this.

One thing I am certain of is that Daft Punk definitely read a few pages from Hans Zimmer’s Film Soundtracks for Dummies. See Chapter 2: “So You’re Stuck With Epic Drums and An Overproduced Beat?”

“Derezzed” – Tron: Legacy

Ah, “Tron: Legacy.” A movie so nice, I… mention it on multiple occasions. So maybe the story didn’t hold up to the awesome visuals. On the plus side, your decision to pass on going to True Grit with your mom so you could pack the bong, load up the Hyundai and catch this sucker in 3D wasn’t completely wasted because the music was pretty dope, bro. In fact we can probably go ahead and throw this one alongside American Graffiti, Forrest Gump, and The Land Before Time XVI: The Big Shit on the list of soundtracks that exceed their cinematic counterparts

I’m not even sure what “the Grid” is, but if I keep pedaling at this pace I’m gonna throw up all over it.

“Requiem for a Tower” – Requiem for a Dream

This technically isn’t from “Requiem for a Dream,” but I’m almost positive you all stopped reading after I started talking about Batman. Either way, if you and your shakeweight aren’t feeling this, it doubles as a great song to shoot up to:

Twice the value at only half the arms!

I guess “Lux Aeterna,” Clint Mansell’s original composition, was beefed up, remixed into this and thrown behind a “Two Towers” trailer, hence the name. So if you really think about it, I’m doubly correct. Bite me!

Symphony No. 3 “Passacaglia” – Shutter Island

Chuck: “All I know is it’s a fitness center.”
Teddy: “… for the criminally insane.”
“Shipping Up to Boston” – The Departed

I know this wasn’t written for the movie, but don’t pretend like you even knew who these guys were before 2006. This also gives me an excuse to reference the single greatest line ever uttered by a Baldwin:

The best part about this song is that if you ever lose your ID at the rec center, you’ll sound great yelling to the desk worker “I just want my fackin’ identity back!”

“Immigrant Song” – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Mr. Fincher’s English language interpretation of the book isn’t out yet, and neither is this song, but I can still guarantee that this will be played repeatedly on future me’s iPod.  It already is actually, and since patience is easily the douchiest of all virtues, what better time to try out video2mp3 than now? 

Piracy may be illegal, but I’ll chalk up any lawsuits as future me’s problems (UPDATE: I did end up putting this full version on my iPod. Federal evasion remains successful)

Honorable mention: “Game of Thrones” Theme Song

I don’t care if it’s a TV show. It’s still great drama, dammit!

In fact, between finishing Stieg Larsson and A Clash of Kings, I’ve got some light heavy reading to do. Oh what? You don’t read? What are you, one of those fitness freaks or somethin? Huh? Go fack ya self!

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Saxaboom Sunday: "Sunday Morning"

Get your Sunday morning started off right with this cover of… Sunday Morning.

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Lock My Feelings in the Disney Vault and Throw Away the Key

I can remember watching this as a kid and failing to hold back tears.  You can’t blame my six-year old self.  I tried my darndest to stay strong in front of all the kindergarten hotties, and though it shames me to admit I wasn’t exactly Plymouth Rock when it came to sappy movies, partial blame goes to the sailor outfits my mother would slap on me before school.  That being said, I can also remember rewatching this yesterday, when the exact same thing happened.  The holding back tears thing.  Not the sailor costume.  Stop smiling.

In hindsight, I should’ve written this back in May because there are a handful of movies I could use the “allergies” excuse on.  This is mostly speculation, but I’m guessing that “The Fox and the Hound” tends to gather more dust in the Disney vault than other films.  Consider how small the supporting cast is: a pair of humans, an old hunting dog, an owl, a caterpillar, a finch, and a mentally retarded woodpecker.  The story concerns only.. well, a fox and a hound.  It’s also worth mentioning that there are virtually no dance numbers in this, and the songs aren’t particularly catchy either.  Now that’s not to say the music isn’t good:

Pretty darn cute, right?  To make things worse, they’ve totally lobbed a pitch over the plate.  This relationship is destined to end just like Romeo and Juliet.  Todd and Copper are natural enemies, like the snake and the mongoose or Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly.  At first, the pair resists their natural inclinations and pledge to stay friends “forever,” a theme that’s explored throughout this story, and one that Big Mama puts into proper perspective:

“Forever is a long, long time, and time has a way of changing things.”  
I couldn’t resist.  Big Mama is actually the rotund, wise owl who’s always eager to dole out sage-yet-sassy advice.  Just think of her as a kind of Queen Latifah in fowl form.  Now it’s never said exactly where this story takes place, but it remains a generic rural setting nonetheless.  Even better, it’s nice to see a Disney film that pays homage to the American south… you know, without being horribly racist: 

 
Like a great deal of Disney flicks, “The Fox and The Hound” begins with some tragedy when Tod’s mother is (presumably) shot and killed.  The newly-orphaned fox is then taken in by Widow Tweed.  Widow Tweed then raises Tod as if he were Widow Tweed’s own son.  Sorry, I think I just like typing Widow Tweed.  Copper, a bloodhound pup, begins life on Amos Slade’s ranch for the sole purpose of tracking down varmints — varmints like Tod.  Varmints and Widow Tweed, what fun!  The film’s defining moment arrives when the two first meet:

“I’m a hound dowg!”  Even Joffrey Baratheon couldn’t double cross a face like that.  Be sure to take in how adorable this is now, because Walt Disney’s about to pull the rug out from under you poor bastards.

Walter E. Disney: Beloved filmmaker, animator, and harbinger of despair

We get to enjoy some tenuous, mischief-filled adventures between the two before Copper leaves on a winter hunting trip as an initiation of sorts  He’s a hound dowg, and that’s what hound dowgs do; they track varmints.  When the pair are reunited the following spring, things have changed and they both realize that their friendship can no longer be.  To make matters worse, Widow Tweed grows weary of Slade’s threats toward Tod and does what any caring soul would do: she abandons him in a game preserve to fend for himself:

Tod finds himself alone yet again.  Life’s tough when you’re a fox voiced by Mickey Rooney.  Oh what’s that?  There’s something in your eye?  Now who looks ridiculous, you or the guy with the sailor outfit? 

Things only get worse when the friends-turned-enemies meet for the last time.  Copper tracks down both Tod and his companion Vixey in the game preserve — you know, the same one Widow Tweed left Tod in to begin with.  Here, the film continues its pattern of making life fucking miserable with a completely random bear attack.  Copper is eventually saved by Tod, who is badly injured in the fight.  When Slade tries finishing off the foxes, Copper stands in front of his former friend, saving him.  It’s an honest and touching moment, but it doesn’t last.  Copper and Slade limp back to their farm, leaving Tod and Vixey to remain in the game preserve.  Credits roll. 

That’s it?  No, dammit.  I want my tearful duet reunion!  Forget this uneasy truce.  I don’t want none of this “fond memories to look back on” bullshit.  I suppose it’s not all bad.  Copper’s the numero uno hound dowg, and Tod’s now getting semi-consistent action, and that’s really what life’s all about isn’t it?  You make friends, grow up, lose those friends, move away, get married, have kids, get into standoffs with giant super-Grizzlies.  Having 22 years of life experience, I’m qualified to make sweeping generalizations about these things.

I’m still not satisfied, though.  Maybe a broader analysis is needed to get to the bottom of this.  Let’s start by cataloguing every Disney animated film ever made:

  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
  • Pinnochio (1940)
  • Dumbo (1941)
  • Bambi (1942)
  • Make Mine Music (1946)
  • The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
  • Cinderella (1950)
  • Alice in Wonderland (1951)
  • Peter Pan (1953)
  • Lady and the Tramp (1955)
  • Sleeping Beauty (1959)
  • 101 Dalmatians (1961)
  • The Sword in the Stone (1963)
  • The Jungle Book (1967)
  • The Aristocats (1970)
  • Robin Hood (1973)
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
  • The Rescuers (1977)
  • The Fox and The Hound (1981)
  • The Black Cauldron (1985)
  • The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
  • The Brave Little Toaster (1987)
  • Oliver & Company (1988)
  • The Little Mermaid (1989)
  • DuckTales the Movie (1990)
  • The Rescuers Down Under (1990)
  • Beauty and the Beast (1991)
  • Aladdin (1992)
  • The Lion King (1994)
  • A Goofy Movie (1995)
  • Pocahontas (1995)
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) 
  • Hercules (1997)
  • Mulan (1998)
  • Tarzan (1999)
  • Dinosaur (2000)
  • The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
  • Lilo & Stitch (2002)
  • Treasure Planet (2003)
  • Brother Bear (2003)
  • Home on the Range (2004)
  • Chicken Little (2005)
  • Meet the Robinsons (2007)
  • Bolt (2008)
  • The Princess and The Frog (2009)
  • Tangled (2010)

Phew.  I should probably wrap this up, huh?   It’s a pretty overwhelming list, especially when you consider that it only includes Disney’s animated feature films.  That means no PIXAR, no live-action hybrids, and no direct-to-video sequels.  To the fans of “Beauty and the Beast: Belle’s Magical World,” I regret nothing.  Now what if we refined that list a little?  Here’s the same one, now only featuring Disney films that are uncharacteristically dark and depressing:

  • Alice in Wonderland (1951)
  • Sleeping Beauty (1959)
  • The Fox and The Hound (1981)
  • The Black Cauldron (1985)
  • The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
  • Lilo & Stitch (2002)
  • Brother Bear (2003)
  • Meet the Robinsons (2007)

Whoops.  I only meant to include films that remain artistic and entertaining in spite of their depressing qualities.  So one more time:

  • Alice in Wonderland (1951)
  • Sleeping Beauty (1959)
  • The Fox and The Hound (1981)
  • The Black Cauldron (1985)
  • The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

Much better.  So after all that list-making, we’re left with 5 films out of a total 47 that embrace the darker aspects of their stories.  Three of them are from the 1980s alone.  If you consider that same decade also saw the release of “An American Tail,” “The Land Before Time,” and “All Dogs Go to Heaven,” it was a pretty dark ten years for aficionados of anthropomorphic animals.  

Now let’s take our newly-shortened list and compare it with Disney’s Highest Domestic Box Office Grosses from that very first list:
  1. The Lion King ($328,000,000)
  2. Aladdin ($217,000,000)
  3. Snow White ($184,000,000)
  4. Beauty and the Beast ($171,000,000)
  5. Tarzan ($171,000,000) 
  6. 101 Dalmatians ($153,000,000)
  7. Lilo & Stitch ($145,000,000)
  8. The Jungle Book ($141,000,000)
  9. Pocahontas ($141,000,000)
  10. Dinosaur ($137,000,000)
Tarzan?  Really, America?  Now this doesn’t factor in inflation or other economic concepts you should probably be reading about instead of a blog post about children’s movies, but that isn’t really the point.  Not a single one of those soul-crushing Disney films cracked the top ten.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any sales figures for Disney’s home video market, but that’s probably because only douche bags call it a “home video market.”  Based solely off these numbers though, the easiest conclusion would suggest that kids don’t like sad.  And that’s probably part of it.  Five of those top films were made in the 90s during Disney’s “Renaissance” period, and catchy tunes like “The Circle of Life,” and “Colors of the Wind” certainly didn’t hurt the chances of kids dragging their parents to the theater a second time.  “Snow White” was also quite a big deal in 1937 as it was the first animated feature length film in color and was instrumental in legitimizing Mr. Disney’s film career.  It was pretty damn revolutionary for its time.  To put it into perspective, just imagine “Avatar,” except actually deserving of its praise.

As a final note, I have to admit I enjoyed “The Fox and The Hound” more than bigger cash cows like “Lilo & Stitch”or “Dinosaur,” even as an adult.  Perhaps that’s because the film’s darker tones are more reminiscent of PIXAR’s impeccable track record, where John Lasseter could pinch a loaf on celluloid and the damn thing would still get a standing ovation at the Oscars.  “Up” and “Toy Story 3” (which enjoys the rare honor of being the third and best film in a trilogy) draw heavily on time, aging, and loss, and “The Fox and The Hound” represents more of that mature storytelling tradition.  I won’t say I cried, but my reaction was definitely akin to Sidney Fife in “I Love You Man:”

“Your best night in 5 years is watching ‘Chocolate’ with Johnny Depp?  You should be ashamed of yourself.”  First a love letter to Ryan Reynolds and now this?  I really need to write something that doesn’t question my masculinity.  Stay tuned next week for the debut of my new series, “Bazookas, Beheadings, and Boobs.”

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“Green Lantern or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Ryan Reynolds‘ Abs"

When you divide your spare time between Twitter and A.V. Club features, you’re bound to have your thumb on the critical “pulse” to a certain degree, and with all the negative buzz over “Green Lantern,” I’d like to clarify some of the more slanderous comments being made.  Blake Lively makes a fantastic transition from blond to brunette. Really, only a handful of those reviews were bad, so unless you’re willing to listen to hacks like Peter Travers, Roger Ebert, Owen Gleibermann, Scott Tobias, Colin Covert, Claudia Puig, or Richard Corliss, pay no attention. We can’t let a few rotten assholes spoil the bunch.  I think that’s how that saying goes.


“Green Lantern” might seem like a strange choice for a superhero film, and there’s a simple explanation for that; he isn’t part of what is commonly referred to as DC Comics’ “Big Three,” Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman:



Pictured: The Greatest Superheroes plus Superman and Wonder Woman

DC’s contributions to pop culture have more or less been limited to these three, but if you’ve ever watched an episode of Bruce Timm’s “Justice League” cartoon, you’ll know that the DC Universe has its own unique blend of characters that rivals even the more universal Marvel product. Heck, if you’ve ever been forced to watch cartoons while babysitting, Cartoon Network’s “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” does a superb job of teaming Bats with a random guest from DC’s rogues gallery. That’s the only reason I know about the show. Because of the kids.

But if a dude with a magic alien ring doesnt sound appealing, never fear. “Green Lantern” still provides two hours of solid eye candy for the average male moviegoer:

(Essentially what I look like with my shirt off)

Okay, the very first result for “Ryan Reynolds” on Google Images showcases his washboard abs.  Ridiculous. Slash Film predicted “Green Lantern” to make only $60 million its opening weekend which translates to $10 million per ab. As a fair warning, most of this paragraph is just a few run-on sentences drooling over Ryan Reynolds, so you might wanna scroll down if you’re not comfortable with your sexuality. I honestly can’t fault the ladies on this one.  The man’s hilarious, charming, and a total stud muffin. I’m as straight as an arrow, but even I wouldn’t mind putting a ring on it… I mean… a non-alien one of course. Where was I?

Ah, yes.  Abs.  The only thing “Green Lantern” has more of than sizzling six pack abs is exposition. A whole lotta galactic exposition. And that’s a problem. Note: See “Thor” for the solution and some-

 *Sigh* I need to go rethink some things

“Green Lantern” as a story isn’t the greatest, and there’s too much required background knowledge, so as a whole, it’s more bad than good.  At the same time though, I can’t fault Warner Bros. for this, at least not before putting “Green Lantern” into the proper perspective.

Rewind the clocks back to the summer of 2000, when Fox released “X-Men” and made a shit load of money.  Two years later, Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” followed suit and turned Hollywood’s interests toward the lucrative and relatively untapped comic book industry.   Having already adapted two of Marvel’s most popular franchises, the logical next step was a “Daredevil” movie in 2003.  Yes, I said Daredevil.  What?  Don’t look at me like that.





He’s gritty and edgy! Bullseye is cool! He kills people with home office supplies! Fortunately “X2” came out that year and made everyone forget about Jennifer Garner’s man arms. But I digress.  Flagship Marvel properties like Spider-Man and the X-Men franchise were making bank at the turn of the last decade, so studios wisely greenlit as many characters as they could. The crap-tastic “Daredevil” is what happens when a project is given to the wrong people. To be clear, I’m one of the few left on this Earth who can actually tolerate Ben Affleck. I’ve certainly questioned some of his acting choices, but the man is both a talented actor and director. That being said, “Daredevil” was a misguided trainwreck, albeit with an awesome soundtrack. The kid at the back of the middle school bus blasting Evanescence on his CD player?  This guy, mo’ friggers.

2003 also saw the release of Ang Lee’s “Hulk” which still baffles me to this day.  I’ve seen this film at least eight times, convincing myself that there’s something I’ve been missing with each previous viewing (Other notables include “A.I.,” Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” remake, “Semi-Pro,” and “Quantum of Solace”). Alas, the same dude who directed “Crouching Tiger” could only muster enough creative energy to have Bruce Banner fight… tanks.


 Neat!

It isn’t just the color scheme that “Green Lantern” shares with “Hulk,” though.  Shoddy CGI and a weak origin story both rear their hideous, cliched heads.  Did I mention that the villains suck ass?  Nick Nolte?  As a… guy who absorbs energy and turns into a… cloud.


“Green Lantern” completely botched bringing Parallax to life, too. The damn thing ain’t a cloud.

Who the fuck is writing this stuff? The same assholes who changed Galactus into Cumulonimbus?

 Neat!

Unlike the “Fantastic Four” though, there are big plans for the “Green Lantern” franchise, as evidenced by the numerous Easter eggs us virgins were given to chuckle at. Carol Ferris’ call sign, “Sapphire,” is actually a reference to the Star Sapphire, an intergalactic mantle like the Lanterns, which she later takes on in the comics. The “Green Lantern” franchise needs to stay afloat long enough for that to happen and here are two reasons why:

DC’s rough approximation of the average female form

With a new Superman flick already in the works and an attempted Wonder Woman TV series, it’s clear DC is trying its best to expand its own properties to other media, but if Warner Bros. wants to mimic the so-far-so-good progress “The Avengers” movie has been making, this is only the beginning. The Justice League has several more, ahem, colorful members to bring to life:

Imagine the meeting where Warner Bros. executives discuss making a “Hawkman” movie:



Alright, so “The Flash” is going to be a tough sell, but after that it’s all downhill, right Bob?

Basically. I mean, we’ve also got this curator who’s actually the spirit of a reincarnated Egyptian prince. He discovers a metal that negates the effects of gravity, giving him the power to fly. He fights crime in a giant metal hawk helmet and uses ancient museum artifacts as his weapons.  But after that, totally downhill.


Capes and tights aren’t cool. As easy as it is for me to poke fun at Colin Farrell as Bullseye, Fox had a point in retooling its comic book properties. Ever wonder how those X-Men movies would play out if Hugh Jackman looked like this?



That yellow spandex doesn’t translate well to film.  Some characters simply can’t transition between media. When that happens, Hollywood tries to compromise. Sometimes you get this:

“Fuck yellow.”

Other times, this:

That second one is real by the way. It’s from Tim Burton’s aborted Superman reboot starring our generation’s most versatile thespian, Nicolas Cage.  



“Green Lantern” is certainly deserving of its criticisms.  Martin Campbell (of “Casino Royale” fame) sells himself short, somehow Ryan Reynolds isn’t that funny, and Blake Lively just kind of sucks. As a character though, Hal Jordan is so much more than one failed summer blockbuster, and there are comic storylines that will always be better than anything a cinematic adaptation can create. The reason projects like “Super-Cage” get attempted in the first place is because studios try and resist the natural qualities of comic books. Sometimes you just can’t do it. Whether or not “Green Lantern” is proof, only time will tell.  Maybe we’ll see a few sequels. Maybe the whole thing will get rebooted with Edward Norton.  Maybe it will get rebooted again, but with Mark Ruffalo. And maybe, just maybe, this is a sign that we should all take a break from comic book movies for a while. 

Maybe I’ve said too much.

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Saxaboom Sunday: "The Weight"

I figured that since my last two posts were about films, it only makes sense to post my sax cover of “The Weight” by The Band.

Wait, what?

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The Over/Under: "Red Dragon" (2002)

Until WUD Film agrees to promote my essay collection on the intricacies of “Anus Magillicutty,” I’m going to post my Over/Under pieces here. 



I’ll save you the suspense and give away the scariest part of “Red Dragon” now:

Could you spot the gaping plot hole? It happens to have a ferret stapled to the back of its head.

I realize I’m opening with a lecture on hair, but come on.  A bald man with a ponytail?  Hannibal is an intellectual, an expert on fine cuisine and an opera buff, yet he somehow lacks the cultural tact to sport a proper hair style? Thankfully we already know Lecter’s insane, otherwise there goes your plot twist. Oh, and the asylum chops that thing off after the first five minutes.

Maybe I’m being nitpicky, but I can’t stand the idea that Hannibal is supposed to be young in this film when he looks twenty years older. With Hopkins being the only one to play the part, it’s tough to get around this, even if the creepy CGI technology of today can give those same twenty years back to The Dude:

“Mind if I do a J?”

But what’s so horrible about casting a younger actor instead?  How could that go wrong?

Now that I’m thinking about it, I’ll stick with old Anthony Hopkins.  I’d like to think history has taught us a lesson about how awkward a recast can make a movie.  Some dishonorable mentions include:

  • Don Cheadle over Terrance Howard in “Iron Man 2”
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal over Joey from Dawson’s Crack in “The Dark Knight”
  • Clooney over Kilmer over Keaton as Batman (I swear I watch more than superhero movies)
  • How about Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan in “The Sum of All Fears?”  Before that it was Harrison Ford in “Clear and Present Danger” and “Patriot Games.”  Before that, it was Alec Baldwin in “The Hunt for Red October.”
  • Let’s not forget the egregious slap in Daniel Stern’s face with French Stewart as Marv Merchants in “Home Alone 4” 
  • Those sick bastards… You probably already know of a recast in this franchise, with Julianne Moore taking the role of Clarice Starling in the utterly underwhelming “Hannibal.” More on that later. 
  • 
Richard Harris as Dumbledore also comes to mind, but that’s unfair because he passed away.  Besides, Michael Gambon was much better, but that’s because he didn’t look like he needed his wand to support his own body weight. 
  • The real cinematic gold happens when the director tries to embrace the awkwardness.  Take the sci-fi/philosophical clusterfuck, “The Matrix Revolutions,” where Mary Alice stepped in after Gloria Foster’s death.  

Remember when Keanu strolls into the Oracle’s kitchen and just kinda wigs out?  I’m not sure anyone knows/cares what exactly happened there, but Ted — I mean Neo looked more confused than I was.
    What do you mean, Neo? These women are the exact same person.  Now here, take a cookie.

  •  On a different day I would have mentioned Ashton Kutcher replacing Charlie Sheen on “Two and a Half Men,” but that would concern neither film nor television.  On a side note, I’ve enjoyed two straight months of avoiding Mr. Sheen’s Twitter account.  I’m not jealous of the guy.  It’s just more entertaining killing an eight-ball by myself and talking directly into the bathroom mirror.

What’s so brilliant about Hannibal Lecter as a character — and this is as far as I’ll get toward making any relevant observation here — is that we don’t want him to be crazy, especially when he’s always contrasted with a rotating “monster of the week.” First we got Buffalo Bill, a classic villain in his own right.  And then Ridley Scott gave us… well this…



The actor behind that aborted fetus is none other than Gary Oldman, but you can’t really tell.  Mason Verger, a pedophile and Lecter’s only surviving victim, is one of the reasons why “Hannibal” kinda sucks.  Buffalo Bill has quirks and memorable lines and a bizarre personality.  This guy can barely enunciate and has skin that looks like the fat you cut off your steak.  Ridley Scott felt it was better to up the shock value instead of simply telling a story.  Eating Ray Liotta’s brains was bad enough.   Did we really need to see him feed them to a kid?

Brain eating aside, he’s smart, cultured, and above all else, rather charming.   In 2003, AFI ranked Dr. Lecter as the #1 villain of all time, but I’m not so sure we can call him one.  He proves to be useful in several federal investigations, even when he knows he’s being played.  There’s definitely some good in him, and he spares Clarice’s life on more than one occasion.  So how can a man this brilliant be completely insane?  Maybe I’m just comparing him to Ralph Fiennes here, who might actually beat him at the crazy game.  Fiennes plays Francis Dolarhyde, a delusional recluse who believes he’s the incarnation of a dragon from a William Blake painting:

And he’s pretty damn convincing.  If you think that sounds crazy, apparently Nicolas Cage was in talks for the role at one point.  Oh, and Michael Bay almost directed.  Proverbial bullet, consider yourself dodged.

When you realize that it was released only a year after the underwhelming “Hannibal,” “Red Dragon” seems to have been forgotten.  It’s especially tough when every subsequent Lecter film gets compared to “The Silence of the Lambs” (rightfully so).  Here, Brett Ratner gets it right and lets his actors do their thing.  He doesn’t sign off on terrible pop culture references (X-Men: The Last Stand), and he’s already drawing from solid source material (Thomas Harris’ 1981 novel of the same name).  This might be why “Red Dragon” builds to a logical climax rather than a sword fight on top of the Eiffel fucking Tower.  Sure, wrinkly Hopkins feels out of place, and Harvey Keitel may be really awkward as a federal agent, but this holds up as one of Ratner’s better films. And that’s saying something.  I think.

On second thought, maybe I was a little harsh. Bald men of the world, you rock those long locks of denial.

Rock them hard.

Verdict: OVERLOOKED

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