Posts Tagged ‘Funny’

Journey to the West 2 (2017)

April 11, 2018

In 2015, I watched a little known (in this country) called Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons. The movie is an adaptation of the book version originally published in the 16th century in China. The story follows a Buddhist monk who is journeying to retrieve Buddhist sutras (religious writings). On the way, he tussles with several demons. In the movie, it follows a Buddhist monk who also must contend with various monsters and demons. Many of China’s most enduring mythological characters are present in the story but especially the legendary Monkey King. The movie was absolutely wild and crazy but it was also touching in various ways. It had adventure, comedy, pathos, and so much weirdness. Although, I am not sure if the weirdness sprang from me being a westerner although I am not completely unfamiliar with Asian pop culture. The movie ended with the young monk with three new allies, walking off toward new adventures together. I had heard there was a sequel but I just have not gotten around to watching it.

As a point of order here, I should probably quickly explain what the word ‘demons’ means in Chinese culture as compared to how people in my culture talk about demons. In the West, we think of demons as related to Satan/Lucifer. Lucifer and his kin were fallen angels and dwell in Hell where they torture those who have sinned against God. While there is a whole Christian mythology that tells of the origins of demons, that is usually ignored in favor of fearmongering about Hell to keep people in line. So, this mythology is centered on Hell and the theme of punishing sins. In China, demons are known as Yaoguai and are kind of different from how we view demons. From what I understand, yaoguai are either ascended animal spirits or fallen celestial beings (which admittedly is similar to Lucifer). These creatures come in all sorts of shapes and sizes but the main goal of most yaoguai is to achieve immortality and thus become a deity. They also seem to like consuming people for various reasons. For example, a pig demon who starts consuming people because humans consume pigs all the time. The fastest ticket to immortality for a demon is to consume the flesh of a holy man. So, holy men really must be on their guard when it comes to demons.

This movie picks up almost right where it left off, with Tang and his three demon assistants traveling towards India for the sutras that are Tang’s goal. (A quick note, they changed the character’s name to Tang to match the book instead of the actual historical figure). He is played here by Kris Wu and he does a great job approaching is the role similarly to the previous actor. Even though he has officially achieved monk status, he is still the same goof that he was but he also still has that huge heart that helped him win the day previously. As one would expect, he has trouble dealing with the demons he had previously defeated. The Monkey King is played by Kenny Ling and he is a hot-tempered demon who fears his master’s power but ultimately wants to do good. He is such a jerk but it is done in such an endearing and comic way that I could not help but like him. The Pig and the Fish are their companions and they are both loveably pathetic.

This one is a little bit more action/comedy instead of an action/comedy/romance like the first film. Also, the main characters are much more powerful this time around which is to be expected. All of this means that the action setpieces and fights are way more involved but not much crazier. Both films have crazy fun action. The CGI, practical effects and makeup do a great job at bringing this otherworldly adventure to life. The creature designs of the principles and the various enemies are really inventive. They lead to a lot of unexpected moments where I thought I knew how things worked and then things abruptly changed. Some of it is very natural-looking and some of it is reminiscent of live-action Looney Tunes. The latter is par for the course when Stephen Chow is involved in a production. The costumes and set design are all very pretty and feel very much like what mythical and ancient China should feel like. The stunts and fights are a lot of fun with plenty of fluid motion that reminds me of combat in anime.

Overall, I loved this sequel a lot more than I expected to. I was initially disappointed that Stephen Chow was not directing and was only producing but Tsui Hark did a great job in his place. Also, the movie is still written by Chow. The movie is very funny and exciting. I would best describe it as a combination of Mel Brooks, Jackie Chan, and FLCL. Things just happen in the fights because the filmmakers thought they would be cool and if they do not make sense then who cares? In between these awesome fights are comedy set pieces with ridiculous characters. The movie is basically a series of stories bound together by the ongoing arc of the journey and the conflict between Tang and Monkey. Amongst all of the ridiculous fun, there is real emotion and we get to know the characters even more. I definitely recommend this and the first film.

Goosebumps (2015)

October 3, 2016

I remember reading Goosebumps when I was little. It was during a time before I started to read Stephen King books and just about the time I was starting to develop my own tastes. I found out two things by reading Goosebumps, Fear Street and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. First, the horror genre shakes me to my core. My vivid imagination makes all of the horrible ideas easily come to life. Second, I really like the creepy stuff. I love the creepy imagery and, although my heart fills with dread, I really enjoy it. Goosebumps was a series that was good for the horror newbie. Each book follows a different short horror story and the whole series covers a lot of different genres and subgenres of horror. Of course, the ones that frightened me the most were the ones that involved body horror like The Haunted Mask. I have stated repeatedly that the stuff that scares me the most is the loss of self either physically or mentally. The books were a great pathway into both real horror and some of the goofy horror that I particularly enjoy.

In the nineties, there was a rash of horror anthology shows marketed to kids. We got great shows like Are You Afraid of the Dark and, of course, live-action adaptations of the Goosebumps book series. I had already started watching The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and The Night Gallery but these shows appealed to me as a younger viewer. The protagonists were all people closer to my age and it was easier to empathize with a teen than it was Captian Kirk frightened in a plane. Goosebumps, the show, was actually well-acted and definitely well-written. The show was actually pretty dark, just like the books. Sure, as I got older, it was not as scary as the books I had read at a younger age but the stories scratched that spooky itch that I was starting to get. This was an age where I fully believed in the supernatural and even the silliest horror story was pretty scary in my mind. Goosebumps is very much part of my nostalgia and it is definitely part of my early horror roots. So let’s revisit those days with the movie that came out last year.

When I heard there was going to be a Goosebumps movie, my response was that there should have been a movie adaptation ages ago. The book series was actually supposed to be adapted by Tim Burton at one point and George Romero before that. I would kind of like to see the alternate universes that created those films but alas, that technology is not available yet. Instead, we finally get a movie 23 years after the first book was published but even the author, RL Stine, spoke about the difficulty of creating a definitive movie of an anthology series. They could have gone the route of Twilight Zone: The Movie and done a few stories but instead, they created a story that would allow various books’ villains to crossover. This seems to be the best solution if you are going to create a movie. The movie is pretty well-written as it manages to merge a lot of RL Stine’s works into one movie but it is not really a horror movie. That’s ok because making this a horror movie would have been difficult. Instead, they made it into an adventure/fantasy film very much like Jumanji. The dialogue is pretty tight and there is a lot of offbeat comedy mixed in with the thrills and chills the main characters go through.

The big star of the movie is, of course, Jack Black who plays author RL Stine in a story where all of his monstrous characters are released from the books. I have been a fan of Jack Black for a long time, ever since I first saw the music video for Tenacious D’s Tribute. Jack Black has great comic timing and will go at things full force even in the crappiest of movies like Neverending Story 3. In this movie, Jack Black does a pretty funny impression of Orson Welles and he actually got a lot of laughs out of me. He also played the main villain and it definitely felt like he had a lot of fun doing so. The other actors I recognized were Ken Marino and Amy Ryan who didn’t have much impact on the story. The story follows three teenagers and the actors that played them were actually really good. I feel like child acting is getting better as the years go by and this movie definitely shows it. I had never heard of Dylan Minette but he was a solid protagonist with some good comic timing. Then there was Odette Rush who was a strong female protagonist with a really interesting secret. Finally, we got Ryan Lee as the comic relief and I expected him to be annoying but the was actually pretty enjoyable.

Overall, the movie was actually a lot more fun than I had been lead to believe. The movie was a great romp through nostalgia and spookiness that actually provided a lot of laughs. Am I angry that a horror anthology series was turned into an adventure/fantasy/comedy movie? No, I’m not because it ended up being a good movie. I can always tell how much I like a movie by how invested I am in it and how many times I check the time. By the end, I cared about what was going to happen and I had barely checked the time at all. Check this movie out if you are looking for a little family-friendly Halloween-y fun.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: The Final Deletion

August 6, 2016

WILPW

So, I kind of want to talk about this when it actually happened but I hesitated. I wanted to think about it before I actually posted something because doing otherwise leads to horrible posts. I have ragged on Total Nonstop Action’s Wrestling product a lot in this blog. I have especially been hard on it lately because the product got really, really terrible. People might talk about how the WWE gets bad sometimes but it has never quite reached the level of WCW’s darkest days or the depths TNA goes to. Whatever I say in this post, know that I stand by that. I have watched some TNA lately and while there are a few bright spots, it is still mostly bad. It is falling apart despite the talent’s best efforts because the team behind them is crap and has pretty much always been crap.

So, let us hit up a quick history because none of this makes sense unless you know the history of the Hardy brothers. Actually, none of this makes sense no matter what so do not worry if you get lost. The two men behind this angle have a history of heavy drug use.

Matt and Jeff Hardy are brothers in real life who come from the wrong Carolina and decided to get into the world of sports entertainment. They eventually started their own company called OMEGA which got them noticed by what was then the World Wrestling Federation. They debuted in a feud against Edge and Christian, another hot young tag team. The Hardys started out by pretending to be vampires just after Edge and Christian had been mysteriously cured of their own vampirism but that angle was mercifully short-lived. Being the “new” anything is usually a death knell to your career and the New Brood would probably have been the same deal. Instead, the two teams went on to have a series of tag team bouts which included the first ever tag team ladder match (don’t get anal about the research there).

Matt and Jeff were innovators of the sport and while they were not the greatest on the mic, they had a lot of physical charisma. Kind of like Roman Reigns. They eventually split and started to have a lot of singles success. Hell, Jeff pretty much started his singles career by taking on the Undertaker in a barn burner of a hardcore match. Matt alternated between being a die hard babyface and an arrogant heel. The Mattitude era was actually pretty fun and it helped provide their friend Shannon Moore with a job. The problem was that both brothers had a lot of issues. Whether it was success or they would have succumbed anyway, both brothers fell into heavy drama and drug problems. Jeff especially had a lot of drug issues and was eventually shown the door from the WWE and Matt followed not long after.

TNA is adept at picking up from WWE’s discard pile so both of them ended up in TNA. Both of them actually gained new life and fame in TNA but also fell to their demons over and over again because TNA does not really care. I watched them only in bits and pieces from then on because I mostly stopped watching TNA in disgust after Jeff Hardy showed up drunk and high to a pay per view match and it still went on anyway.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. Jeff and Matt have been doing a sibling rivalry angle (again) and this time the story is that Matt has been broken by the whole thing. Instead of “The Man Who Cannot Die”, Matt Hardy has become “Broken” Matt Hardy. This means that he acts really weird and speaks in twenty different accents in each promo he does. It is kind of funny in a stoner humor kind of way but it gets old really fast for me. If I wanted to watch somebody speak in funny voices and not entertain me, I would watch Adam Sandler movies. So they have a series of matches and then comes the event in question. They are going to have the Final Deletion where it will finally be decided which Hardy will stay and who will go.

No recap will do this video justice but a quick one will wet your whistle. The video begins with a few short vignettes that make increasingly less sense. We see Matt with his son and his wife Reby Sky who has wrestled locally here in Maryland quite a lot. We see Jeff at home playing guitar and mowing his lawn. We see Matt set up a ring in his backyard and send a fleet of drones against Jeff, inviting him to the battle. The two show up at the ring along with a truly confused referee who I don’t think was acting. They then start to have a truly bad pre-taped match sort of shot with Hollywood film angles. After a lot of shenanigans and weirdness, Matt finally pins Jeff and Jeff Hardy is declared “deleted”.

I have a couple of notes here. Actually, this is kind of the whole reason I wrote this whole post. I laughed pretty much continuously while watching this whole feature. Whether all of it was intentional or not, the Broken Matt thing is actually a lot funnier away from the TNA arena in a setting where it makes a smidgen more sense. Jeff’s part negligible and he botched most of the maneuvers he attempted including a horrible ladder spot. The thing really works as a funny internet sketch because both guys are either stoned out of their minds or really threw everything they had into this or both. I have heard some comparisons between the first parts of this and the well=produced but bonkers backstage segments of Lucha Underground. I can see where they are coming from but Lucha is so much more polished and planned. I mean they wrestle for twenty minutes at night and at the end you can see the sun coming up.

What I am concerned most with is precedent. As I am studying the law, it is something very much on my mind. In the world of sports entertainment, precedent is important. The first time you do something, that opens the door for somebody else to do it down the line. I mean, look at the very tag team ladder matches that Matt and Jeff helped create. Specialty ladder matches are all over the place now and the Money in the Bank match is one of the highlights of every year in the WWE. My problem is that the match was pre-taped and heavily edited. I fear that there is some executive out there who decides that this is how all the matches should be done. They look at the media attention this got and they decide that sports entertainment should become even more fake. I don’t know if I am ready for that. While it would save on injuries, it would also cut down on the athleticism and spontaneity of what matches are now. I hope this is a one and done thing.

He. Is. Beowulf!

November 27, 2008

I watched Beowulf tonight as I was working. Man I laughed and laughed… which is not what the people who made this movie intended.  I don’t know quite how to explain what was wrong with this movie.  For one the CGI was terrible. Why go to the trouble of overlaying computer graphics on that level over stuff you already filmed? If you want to make such a grim and graphic story compelling, don’t make the characters look like plastic.  I expect this from video games.  It felt like a video game.  The acting struck me as unintentionally hilarious as well.

To more accurately portray my feelings on the movie in real time, here is what I typed into IRC (delusioned and Charlie make cameos)

(9:30:21 PM) KingMengi: Not much better hopes for Beowulf but… at least it’s mockable
(9:31:33 PM) KingMengi: It’s like one big video game cutscene….
(10:04:55 PM) KingMengi: This movie? Rediculous
(10:06:18 PM) KingMengi: Thank God for artfully placed leg…
(10:11:25 PM) KingMengi: lol… zomg this is cracking me up
(10:13:32 PM) KingMengi: I. AM. BEOWULF!
(10:23:04 PM) deadduck: beowulf is … meh
(10:23:37 PM) KingMengi: Yeah but there are parts that are just hilarious unintentionally
(10:25:04 PM) KingMengi: It could also be sleep deprivation
(10:30:07 PM) KingMengi: Boobies! :D
(10:40:42 PM) deadduck: heh
(10:41:08 PM) deadduck: i think it would have been better had it not been CG
(10:41:17 PM) KingMengi: Yeah
(10:41:26 PM) KingMengi: It looks like a video game
(10:41:43 PM) KingMengi: I feel like I should have a controller in my hand waiting for the cutscene to end
(11:06:12 PM) KingMengi: Dragon scene. Straight out of Shadow of Collossus
(11:12:09 PM) KingMengi: Ok nevermind. The dragon scene is kind of awesome.
(11:16:52 PM) KingMengi: He. Was. Beowulf!
(11:17:26 PM) KingMengi: I guess it was my turn to do running commentary on a bad movie tonight
(11:19:13 PM) KingMengi: Jolie ain’t that hot, folks… stupid Danes
(11:19:21 PM) Swashtech: lol.
(11:20:06 PM) KingMengi: Wow that was comical in all the wrong places


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