Sunday, July 20, 2008

A milestone, a dissenter, and all things batty...

I'm sorry, I have been geeked this entire weekend. I have been checking in frequently with to see how the box office cume is doing, and it appears that TDK has outdone Spider-Man 3 (and rightfully so) as the all time first weekend box office champion. I'm glad that the slightly above average SM3 no longer holds that record, and to have my favorite super hero now stand as an all time giant at 155 million dollars, that's just nifty.
In light of this, however, I called one of my best buds to find that he hated the movie. While I was shocked, I checked out what he had to say, and while I don't agree with everything, his review is worth noting. You can check out and be linked from his own site:
Or go directly to his review at:
I think it's refreshing to see a dissenting voice among all the praise being heaped upon the film, and the author's prose is always a joy to read, even when I don't agree. You can also see my response to his critique 29 comments down, if you are so inclined.
Of course, as a complete unapologetic fanboy, I cannot be more elated that The Dark Knight currently sits at #1 on the all time rankings over at Godfather fans everywhere are throwing themselves out of windows as the website is hijacked by comic fans, batgeeks, and true fans of movie making. While I cannot believe that this will last, in the area of "Things that really don't matter", these are obviously good times for bat geeks everywhere.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Your expectations aren't high enough...

Review of The Dark Knight

Starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Morgan Freeman

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Four out of Four stars

Leaving the theater, my wife made a confession to me. "This Batman is the first one that I've thought is hot." Indeed, I share her sentiments. No amount of hyperbole I heap upon this movie is enough. I will not try. I will be simple, and direct, and all I need you to do is to follow my directions, very, very carefully.

Go, and, see, this, movie.

Quickly, I will share why you should in a quick Q & A session.

Q: Is Heath Ledger's performance as good as everyone is saying it is?
A: Yes, there will not be a better performance by a male lead this year. He probably won't win the Oscar, but he should. You cannot understand until you see him.

Q: Continuing in the mold of Batman Begins, are certain aspects of the Batman mythos explained in ways that are nearly real-world plausible?
A: Yes, absolutely. Have you ever asked yourself the question how a psychopath like the Joker could amass a legion of followers? The Joker's methods will make it very plain in the first 15 minutes of the film.
Q: Does TDK continue the first film's penchant for eschewing CGI effects for real world stunts?
A: Absolutely, and thank Odin for it. Batman Begins was understated, nearly to a fault. This film brings back the seemingly lost art of real world stunts, and its all the more visceral because of it. What little CGI there is is used perfectly and in no way pulls you out of the action. There is an absolutely jaw dropping truck stunt that simply must be seen to be believed.

Q: Is TDK an action movie?
A: Yes.

Q: Is TDK a dark comedy?
A: At moments.

Q: Is TDK a tragedy?
A: Yes.

Q: Is TDK a horror film?
A: Yes.
Q: Should I take the kids?
A: No. No no no no no no no. No. I have a bag full of no for you here. Nolan spares us in many ways, but don't let any toy tie-ins fool you, you should not take any children 13 or under, or any children sensitive to frightening images. This is a movie that squeezes every bit of PG-13 out of it's overwhelmingly ominous overtones.

Q: Does Heath Ledger's Joker unseat Hannibal Lecter as the greatest cinematic villain of all time?
A: I'm going to go out on a limb here, and I will probably be mocked more profoundly than if I went on and said I didn't understand why The Godfather was so great, but I am going to say yes. I wish I could tell you why without spoiling the film, but I think that coupled with the tragic loss of Ledger, something about this performance is going to resonate very deeply with the zeitgeist of cinema aficionados and casual filmgoers as well. I think the Joker represents the seemingly random chaos of a world increasingly turned upside down and inside out by terrorists that, while professing an agenda, seem content to just hurt the U.S. because they have done it for so long, and because we represent something that they hate, long after they have forgotten why. Their motives seem about as authentic as the Joker's ever changing explanation for his scars.

Q: Is The Dark Knight the best superhero movie ever?
A: Yes. In this golden age of hurculean comic book blockbusters that are (gasp!) good, The Dark Knight stands out as something more transcendent. Dark, yet sprinkled with fleeting hope. Bleak, yet somehow beautiful. The Dark Knight is not a movie. It is art, in the hands of a masterful virtuoso in Chritopher Nolan. These types of movies don't get Oscar nods because the unwashed heathens heap untold millions to see them, but if this movie does not at least get an Oscar nod, I will be greatly disappointed. And yes, I am prepared to be disappointed.

Q: Any parting wisdom for someone planning on seeing this movie?
A: What you have to know, is that for many years, Tim Burton's Batman stood as my favorite film. It's noir-ish yet semi-campy take on the Caped Crusader was my initiation into summer hype, waiting in line to see a movie, owning all the pertinent merchandise, the list could go on and on. I owned several shirts, several toys, and my sixth grade year I spent my free time thinking about how one day, I could be a vigilante. Perhaps I am more excited for this film because, for how much childish nostalgia I harbor for my first Batman experience, I cannot tell you how elated I am to feel this excitement all over again for a film that is more atuned to adult tastes, yet is as unabashedly exciting as any popcorn thriller that has come down the pipes in recent years. Please, just go, and thank me later.

Final Question: Could Batman beat up Superman?
Answer: Yes. Not even close.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hitting a bump in the road (or the night)

Review of New Moon

by Stephenie Meyer

Two of Four Stars

I am actually writing this review after having finished the third of what is slated to be four part series chronicling the adventures of Bella Swan and her vampire love muffin Edward Cullen. Sorry Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling, but this winter, the premiere of Twilight has all salvos loaded, and the holocaust that this vampire love story is going to bring to bare on your notebook reading butts is going to make what the U.S. did to Nagasaki look like a kid knocking over a cabin made of lincoln logs.

Never mind that no adolescent nowadays will have not the faintest idea what lincoln logs are.

Yes, Twilight is the next event novel. Its rise may be a slower burn, but make no mistake, its crossover appeal between both paragons of moral virture (i.e. the Mormons) and it's undeniable appeal to emos (the new goth!) is going to make it a smashing success.

"So Mr. The House of Milo, why'd you wait to review this book?"

That's an excellent question Timmy! Let's get to the heart and soul of it.

I had to see if there was anything worth getting to. You see, for normal, well adjusted (generally) thirty somethings, slogging through the first two thirds of New Moon is going to be like walking barefoot through a room of rusty thumbtacks then letting your feet soak in in a vat of hydrogen peroxide for 2 hours. Okay, okay, maybe I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. A more apt analogy would be comparing New Moon to reading a soul crushingly bad teenage emo poem. And then reading another one. Then another one. Then another one. Until finally you're sitting in your room with your hair in your eyes listening to I'm Not Okay by My Chemical Romance on repeat until your fingernails turn black...

Because you PAINTED THEM THAT WAY!!!!!

New Moon starts out promising enough, with Bella, the klutz that she is, cutting herself open at a lavish birthday party thrown on her behalf by her adopted vampire family. Blood, as you can imagine, is quite the temptation for a family of vegan vamps. This, is the way you start a story!

This episode, however, convinces Edward that he must leave Bella.

What you say? Edward leaves? For a large portion of the book? Yes, and with him, much of what makes the Twilight books so good. Because no matter what some people will tell you, these books rise and fall with the dynamics of Bella and Vampy McGee, a.k.a. Edward. Without him, this book is a punch line to a joke about an emotional skater boy who wears girl pants that no one asked.

A large part of my criticism, however, can be swiftly sidestepped by one unbeatable argument. Ready for it? I'm a guy. While I'm not entirely convinced that Twilight was written with the singular purpose to connect with girly adolescents (and I'm launching a campaign with my male friends, mind you, to make sure I'm not the only guy to have read it) there are certain aspects to the story which will undoubtedly resonate more strongly with a female audience. That's the long and short of it. For every van crushing, torso ripping bit of awesomeness, there is some estrogen fueled claptrap that is, quite honestly, difficult to swallow. I can see how Bella's lonelinenss and despair after her velvety voiced Marble God (Edward) leaves might find a place in the hearts of cheerleading team rejects, but I couldn't deal with it.

New Moon is not without it's redeeming qualities. Indeed, another interesting character (not compelling mind you, interesting) is fleshed out in Jacob Black. If you're still awake, you'll figure out in about 2 minutes what he is. After reading Twilight, you should already know what he is. Again, women will no doubt appreciate how he heals Bella's heart after stone cold lover boy takes off. I didn't understand.

Oh yeah, the last third of the book is flippin' sweet too.

So what is New Moon? A somewhat necessary dip in the series that drags out over endless chapters what could have been for one man, taken care of in a chapter and a half. If you're going to read all of the books, however, don't skip, as there are (somewhat lamentably) details here that are crucial to your understanding and enjoyment of Eclipse. I guess that is one benefit to reading the next book before reviewing this one.

By the way, my wife just woke up from a nap. She told me as I was finishing this review that she had a dream that Edward died. If that isn't a sign of this being the next event novel, then I don't know what is.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

How I helped the Celtics win a championship

You know, a couple of weeks have passed since the Boston Celtics memorably dismantled Kobe Bryant's L.A. Lakers to win the NBA Finals. Did you know, however, that I helped them. Probably not, this is the secret story that ESPN doesn't want you to know, and the major media outlets won't disseminate.

Exhibit #1

Sports Illustrated ran this cover following the Celtics win:

Note, it says, "How Danny Ainge revived a great franchise." Not KG, not Paul Pierce, not Ray Allen. Danny Ainge. That's right. P.S., he's Mormon.

Okay, exhibit #2:

This is taken from a prgram that I happened to find in a mountain of memorabilia that I have. When I was back at BYU, for two seasons I worked as an usher courtside at the Cougars home basketball games. I happened to be working when Danny Ainge had his jersey retired. Well, on top of that, he was sitting about 10 feet away from me the whole time. Now, I like Danny Ainge. Mormon hoopster, the preeminent player in BYU history (sorry Shawn Bradley), a key piece in the Celtics championship teams, a one time Phoenix Suns player and coach. How could I pass up the opportunity? Yes, I became one of those annoying autograph hounds, but I had the perfect piece of memorabilia, and opportunity. I hope it's my last time ever. I walked over to him, and humbly told him I was a big fan (ugh), and he graciously, if somewhat bemusedly, signed my program.

Let me ask you this. How many championships did Danny Ainge win as a G.M. before I got his signature, hmmmm??? Yeah, that's what I thought. None.

The House Of Milo claims part of the Celtics championship for partial albino dreamers everywhere.