Extra Butter — Prometheus & Safety Not Guaranteed
LOS ANGELES — Yes, “Prometheus” is a futuristic sci-fi film about a group of scientists who search for life’s creators on a far-away planet with the help of an android. They encounter much more than they bargained for in their quest for answers, fight some aliens and save earth. However, I almost feel as if this was a piece of art questioning whether or not we should be looking in the first place.
Look, we know why anyone does anything; because they can, and in this world, the owner and crew of the Prometheus can. But it doesn’t always make it the appropriate line of thinking. I could go take a bath in the pond at The Grove, have someone film it and end up a YouTube hit but it wouldn’t be worth it (maybe). It’s sometimes better to let sleeping dogs lie, or shower at the gym. Doc Brown built a time machine out of a DeLorean but even that screwed just about everything up.
I’ll admit, the idea of having an android to help me get through life is pretty sweet. Yes, it would help make my life easier, I’d win a boatload of cash on Jepoardy or yet-to-be-invented game show, but would I actually learn anything on my own, or improve as a man? Probably not. I could just take him to parties, or get stinking rich because I’d be the only with a life-like robot.
All things being even, I’d probably do it, but it doesn’t mean I should. Like looking for the creators of man.
OK, back to my original lede for this review.
Since winning the Academy Award for her role in “Monster” in 2003, Charlize Theron hasn’t done anything truly memorable – aside from throwing around a drunk Will Smith in “Hancock” (2008) – until last year’s “Young Adult,” a very well done film in which she plays a successful writer who goes back to her hometown to win back her high school sweetheart. However, Theron is a huge movie star, and thusly, very recognizable. So when I saw her in the trailer for Ridley Scott’s latest sci-fi blockbuster “Prometheus” I was not only confused but figured her inclusion would be quite distracting from what surely was a very deep and interesting film by a very successful and thought-provoking film maker.
I was slightly wrong. Only slightly because after learning she passed on playing the lead, Elizabeth Shaw, because of a scheduling conflict, she later accepted a lesser role as Meredith Vickers, the Prometheus’ guardian, when the film fit her calendar. Theron in this lesser role is much better than as the lead and therefore not AS distracting as it could’ve been. So it’s a win by default. Michael Fassbender (“X-Men: Origins”), not nearly as big a star though getting there, was perfect is his role as the droid David, who assists the crew of the Prometheus in their hunt for the so-called Engineers, the makers of life, on a far away planet.
“Prometheus” was originally dubbed as an “Alien” prequel but it’s hardly that; completely separate story line, and there’s only a hint at anything Alien at all, so don’t feel like you need to have seen those films to know what’s going on here, as you don’t. Scott’s special effects on this new planet, a planet which takes two years to get to, are incredible, and I enjoyed the acting, especially by the two knuckleheads, Fifield (Sean Harris) and Millburn (Rafe Spall). Initially, I wasn’t that excited about “Prometheus,” but it’s well worth the 124-minute run time. Just don’t spend the entire duration thinking about if the ship is bigger than Spaceball 1. It’s not. And doesn’t have a cool bumper sticker either.
Oh, and Noomi Rapace is awesome as Shaw. But the film, in my opinion, is all about the performance of Fassebender, who in 7 months, should get some award noms.
Brockman Stamp of Approval: 3.5/5 Stomach Staples.
SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED
Working on a talk show has some cool perks. OK, really just one: you get to meet celebrities (there are a few jokes here, but I’ll refrain some saying them because, well, we’d like more to come on the show). Usually, these aesthetically-blessed individuals are plugging their latest project, which they’ve been trained to tell everyone who’ll ask and listen that it’s the greatest thing since “Citizen Kane.” Admittedly, as these trained memorizers have described their films, I’ve gotten sucked in to thinking they’re right and that I should fork over the cash to go see what their hocking.
Now, when they leave, I exit the vortex of their propaganda and realize what they’re peddling is piece of crap and save my money for more important things like Subway footlongs and dental floss. However, when recent guest Jake Johnson (“New Girl” & “Get Him To The Greek”) stopped by to talk Chicago Bears and his new indie film “Safety Not Guaranteed” I was intrigued more than normal.
A few days later, I checked out the trailer online and decided it’d be work my time. About a group of writers for Seattle magazine who set off on a journey to find out about this kook who put a classified ad for a trip back in time, ‘Guaranteed,’ which also stars Mark Duplass of “The League” and Aubrey Plaza of “The Office,” is a story of hope, belief and letting go of what’s comfortable and easy for something that could be so much more.
A film that entertains you and makes you think. I’m in.
Johnson plays the dick-ish writer who takes the story with the agenda of meeting up with an old flame in the area; Plaza is the inquisitive, boring intern who draws the assignment of getting close to Duplass, only to eventually grow to like him and buy into his plan to actually travel back in time; and there’s an Indian intern whom they both make fun of. It’s an amusing dynamic and a fun 90 minutes.
I was legit surprised by the ending, too. You’ll enjoy it.
Brockman Stamp of Approval: 3.75/5 Cans of Soup
Extra Butter — What I’ve Seen Lately
LOS ANGELES — In my former life, I wrote film reviews for the Journal Tribune. The column there was titled “Extra Butter” because, well, I liked a lot of butter on my popcorn (#FatKidProblems) , so it seemed like a logical fit. The idea spawned one day by merely asking the managing editor if we run any kind of reviews, and when he said “no,” asking if I could do them (sometimes all you have to do is ask, kids). The first film I reviewed was “Casino Royale and I later won a Maine Press Association Critic’s Award for my review of Nicolas Cage’s masterpiece “Ghost Rider.”
Since moving to L.A., my well has run dry. I haven’t written one of these columns in nearly three years; that’s my bad. Every so often I feel like I should get back to it; clearly “The Town” would’ve been a nice return and I did write something about “Social Network” when it came out, but not in this vain, and since I still see a lot of movies, I’m going to make the effort because I always had fun with this column. Of all the ones I’ve written since I started really writing in 2004 – Local Celebrity, Game Point, Extra Butter, BrockAngeles and now this site – the film reviews are the ones I wish I had kept up, but fret not.
We’re back! Enjoy, leave me your thoughts and keep truckin’.
From Something To Nothing: The Art of RapThe first time I heard “Regulators” was as I was driving along the main drag in Ocean City, Md. with my family in the summer of 1994. I couldn’t get the beat out of my head all day. Later that night, my uncle asked what I was humming – Doo, doo, doo, doo-do-do-dooo – and I didn’t know what it was, it was just catchy as hell but my interest never went further.
In high school, the East Coast-West Coast war was at its height and a lot of my friends were big Tupac fans. I could never get into it. Leading up to my freshman year at Syracuse I worked at the beach as a grill cook and we listened to nothing but classic rock, so it really wasn’t until I got to college, living with a diverse group of guys, that my musical tastes grew. I became a quick fan of the beats of the day and the old school jams. Sure, I’m as white as a loaf of Wonder Bread but I can appreciate the skill it takes these greats of putting together rhymes. Now, it’s rare a song comes on KDAY that I don’t know.
So, when Ice-T came into the NFL Network studios recently to appear on the Rich Eisen Podcast and started talking about his documentary, “The Art of Rap,” I was immediately interested. The documentary was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival, bought the first day, and hit theaters this past weekend. A meteoric path for a film of this nature. I went on its opening night and left not disappointed. Ice-T is not only the executive producer and director of the film but the interviewer of his subjects. He goes to New York (Melly Mel, Grandmaster Caz, Detroit (Eminem) and Los Angeles (Dr. Dre, Xzibit, Snoop Dogg) to talk to some of hip hop’s legends to find out their thought process and how they wrote their rhymes coming up. Ice-T wanted to get inside the minds of these artists, search for their inspiration, look beyond the cars, girls and jewels.
And he succeeded. It was remarkable to hear their tales, see them put pen to paper and create a story from either nothing or life experiences. Grandmaster Caz wrote a rhyme on the spot. Dr. Dre tried to take the audience inside the mind of a producer and offered some insight on working with Tupac. Eminem talked about being white MC in this game and his struggle. After a while the stories about the process got repetitive, though the highlite was each rapper performing a freestyle or reciting a few bars of another legend’s work.
The film did seem every bit of its 107 minutes and probably would’ve benefited from losing a few of the interviews, as well as some of the on-site, scenic transitions, which didn’t really add much. Though I was left wanting a tour or perhaps an entire “Cribs” episode dedicated to Dr. Dre’s ridiculous Hollywood Hills mansion. Jesus, the rap game has been good to him. KRS1’s story about his first battle is epic, too.
The biggest shock, besides the length of Melly Mel’s dreds, was that my girlfriend really liked it. I figured I was going to have to see it solo, but when I explained to her the premise, she was on board and even laughed a few times. An artist herself, she was really interested in the rappers comments on the process and mindset while preparing and performing. She was encapsulated with Mos Def’s segment.
Bottom line: This is a must-see.
Brockman Stamp of Approval: 4.25 out of 5 Mics.
That’s My Boy
Sixteen-year-old me would probably punch 31-year-old me in the face for saying this, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen an Adam Sandler movie in the theater; “Just Go With It” was getting some run on HBO a while back and I caught the last 3/4ths of it, but I think the last one I paid to see was his revamped version of “The Longest Yard.” It wasn’t great and neither is his latest college try, “That’s My Boy,” which co-stars Andy Samberg and Leighton Meester.
Sandler plays as Donny Berger, who was a child pseudo celebrity for having sex with his teacher and fathering a son (Sandberg) at a very young age. As an adult, he’s a drunken, broke mess, and after his lawyer (played by Jets coach Rex Ryan) tells him he needs to come up with $43,000 to avoid prison, Berger turns to his son, now a successful banker. Though he doesn’t come out and ask for the money, he has a plan involving a hornswaggler of a talk show host (Dan Patrick) and an awkward reunion with his mom (Susan Sarandon) to come up with the cash. Along the way, he realizes he misses and loves his son and tries to do right by him by exposing his two-timing fiance. Of course, everything turns out well in the end but not without some absurdities in the middle.
Bleh. Sandler plays Berger as an ’80s hot mess who constantly has a Budweiser in his hand, is best friends with Vanilla Ice and thinks all the flash-in-the-pan ’90s catch phrases are still hilarious (they’re not). The film is set in Massachusetts, so his over-the-top New England accent is amusing to start and annoying by the end. Unfortunately, you can’t get away from it. I was laughing a lot of the time, however, I think it was more of laughing at the whole thing, not with it. The bachelor party stuff was kinda funny, though. Who knows.
All Sandler film reviews are essentially the same at this point, which is means I’m getting older and he just keeps making the same movie; yet we all keep paying for them, so who’s the dummy? People wonder why he routinely makes “bad” movies these days. The answer is simple: we’ve given him the blank check to do so. It’s our fault. And it’s going to continue.
Brockman Stamp of Eh: 1.5/5 Brews.
Men In Black III
It’s possible I’m at the tail end of my 20-year mancrush on Will Smith. I’m not as geeked as I used to be about his newest ventures or are a fan of him force feeding his kids down our entertainment-enjoying throats, but neither stopped me from enjoying the hell out of the latest installment of the “Men In Black” franchise.
Nobody does $100M movies like Smith, who returns after a 4-year big screen hiatus, and I’d expect this one will join his list of big money makers. It follows the formula of the previous MIB films; Agents J and K (Tommy Lee Jones) get into trouble and have to save the world with their badass weaponry. Only this trip around, J has to go back in time to save a young K (Josh Brolin) from an intergalactic warlord whom he put in prison 30-some-odd years earlier and who wants to kill him.
It has a “Back To The Future II” feel to it, where the future is one way, then the villain goes back in time and changes it, and then they have to go back in time to change the changes made by the villain. Only here there’s aliens and suits and Agent K is likable and it’s set in New York.
I don’t know if there’s going to be another Men In Black movie – I’m sure it’ll depend on box office numbers this time around – but if there’s not, this film was a good way to wrap up the series. We get some insight to J’s past, why he is who he is, and same with K, who as a young agent is lively, jovial and fun-loving but couldn’t be more opposite as an adult. As always, the special effects are really neat and the aliens and weapons keep getting cooler. You’ll really have fun with this one.
Brockman Stamp of Approval: 3.5/5 Ray Bans.
I plan to write an entire column on Johnny Depp’s appeal to women in the nearer future – honestly, I don’t get it – but for the time being I’ll stick to his newest vampire flick. Also, what is with every movie these days being about a) vampires; b) bows and arrows or c) zombies? ANYway, “Dark Shadows” is not good, but I saw it recently because the girlfriend is among the millions obsessed with the aforementioned Mr. Depp and for some reason she wanted to see this. I’ll admit the first time I saw the trailer, it looked amusing, but every time after my interest in it lowered exponentially. Actually, this flick made the second JD project we’ve seen together; our first date was “The Rum Diary,” which I liked and just recently found out she did not. So we’re even.
If you’re expecting something like “True Blood” or “Twilight,” you’ll be disappointed. There are some murders but no nudity and I think it’s supposed to be funny, but it’s not. “Dark Shadows,” which also stars Michelle Pfeiffer, is about the Collins family, who owns the town and the fishing industry, only to lose it to another company who just happens to be run by the woman (Eva Green) who puts Johnny Depp’s character in the ground for 200 years. I think she’s a vampire, too, or she’s in love with Depp. Something like that.
The Collins family lives in a Wayne Manor-esque estate and each member has something strangely wrong with them. The girl from “Kick Ass” might be a werewolf, the doctor is a drunk, the dad is a deadbeat and on and on. The family is on the verge of bankruptcy and being run from the town, only Depp, the original Collins, can save them.
What’s worse, is that they’ll probably be a sequel because the family shrink (Helena Bonham-Carter) who’s thrown to the bottom of the ocean is still alive. Dum-dum-dum! Spare me.
Brockman Stamp of Eh: 1.5/5 Fangs.
The Crossover — Episode XIV
LOS ANGELES — In news first broke here, it’s NFL Draft week, Major League Baseball has begun, the NBA Playoffs are starting and there are movies out people want to see. With those facts floating in the stratosphere, I had to dial up Evan Bretzman and get his thoughts for another fantastic episode of The Crossover (click here to listen).
Throughout the course of the show, we break down what we think could happen in this weekend’s NFL Draft (hint: he likes Robert Griffin III over Andrew Luck); we wonder what is going on with the Red Sox a mere three weeks into the MLB season (hint: I do a flip-flop on my preseason prediction); we question if this is the year LeBron James finally wins an NBA title (hint: one of us thinks so, the other does not); and breakdown the similarities between “Taken” and the new film “Lockout” (no hint, just listen).
Among the other topics broached: Twitter handling big scandal moments, a Minneapolis “celebrity” sighting, birthday boat parties, Flo Rida and much, much more. You seriously don’t wanna miss this episode.
As always, check me out on Twitter (@chris_brockman), explore the site and thanks for listening and spread the word!
LOS ANGELES — It’s 2012, or so the calendar tells me, and we’re still here; take that, Mayans – and with that I decided it was time to enter the modern realm and get myself a world wide web home of my own. Hence, here I am and (hopefully) here you are. My new digital domicile.
I’ve had a few different sites in the past (MySpace, PodBean and Tumblr to name a few) but now this is going to be the only location for my original content. From sports columns and takes, pop culture observations and rants, podcasts, film reviews, videos, pictures, interviews with buddies and whatever else I can create, you can find here.
Additionally, I’m toying with the idea of re-posting some of my favorite past works to give you all taste of my style and what you might be able to expect here, so stand by and I’ll be sure to let you all know when those go up.
In the meantime, please, check back often. Tell your friends. Tweet about it. Facebook it. Whatever. Hit me up and get involved.
And, above all else, let’s have some fun.