I'm confused by this webternet ad.

So I'm clicking over the old Internet Movie DataBase, as is my wont, and this ad turns up on the side of the screen:

The basic idea is that the relative health of your credit score is indicated by the type and mood of dinosaur in the box.


Criminal Minds 105: Broken Mirror

Synopsis – Trish and her boyfriend leave a party and on the road home they come across a SUV blocking both lanes. Despite the fact that we’ll later learn Trish is the daughter of a prominent US Attorney, who for her entire childhood has had a protective detail, and should know that she’s always in danger of being kidnapped to leverage her father financially or politically, she doesn’t find this immediately suspicious and demand that they drive away. This leads to the boyfriend being murdered and Trish being kidnapped.

Due to the existence of the aforementioned important father, the team is called in immediately to work up a profile of the kidnapper, who’s given them less than a day to come up with the money for her ransom. It turns out that Trish has an mirror twin sister (that means they’re mirror images – one has the heart pointed right instead of left – oddly, she doesn’t wear a medic-alert bracelet with this information, even thought that would be unbelievably useful toe EMTs and doctors were she ever to get into an accident) named Cheryll who can sense her sister’s anxiety, no matter how far away she is. Using this gift, she insists that her sister is alive. Elle, helping absolutely nothing, points out that Cheryll is a physics major. Cheryll responds in the episode’s stupidest line of dialogue:

“If you’re asking why a science major would believe in something non-scientific, I don’t. I just know what I feel. My feeling is that my sister is still alive.”


It's a very WishMaster Christmas!

You can download the Avod's Christmas special right here! (Or listen to it off the webternet by clicking on the avod link to the right)

We're doing something a little different this time around: Including show notes - more specifically, show notes that reveal which of the hosts, DiveMistress or Count Vardulon, was right concerning the things they argued about.


It's a Golden Age Christmas Eve!

Now that the stockings are hung on the bookcase with care, I got to wondering about just what might be the most appropriate post for this time of year.

After a long period of consideration, I decided the only logical action was to review a Captain Marvel comic in which a Civilized Tiger (representing Negroes) is harassed by the inhabitants (representing white male oppression) of the nice suburban neighborhood he moves into.

The Story, titled "Captain Marvel and Mr. Tawny's New Home", appeared in Captain Marvel Adventures #90, with a publication date of November, 1948.

After that adorable opening panel that establishes the premise, the story proper begins with Billy Batson discovering that his good friend, Mister Tawny, the civilized Tiger, has been thrown out of his boarding house.


HOW TO RUIN YOUR OWN MOVIE: The Strangers Edition

It may come as no surprise to longtime readers of the site (Hi, Phillipa!) that there's nothing that irritates me more than modern fiction's attempts to kneecap any ability it might have to create tension or anxiousness or yes, even fear, in their audience by flat-out telling that audience exactly how the film is going to end in the opening minutes. As I mentioned in my Swamp Thing Natsukashi Podcast, the one thing that horror films have going for them is that they're the only genre whose endings, even in big studio pictures, can't be easily predicted. In a horror movie, you don't know the good guy's going to win, you don't know the bad guy's going to lose, really, you don't know that they're not going to kill the dog and the kid and end the film in the most upsettingly abrupt manner possible.

This is how audience are kept on edge - if they don't know what's going to happen next, they become invested in the story. If they think the fate of each character is up in the air, they invest more emotion in those characters' struggles. In no other theatre will you find as rapt or attentive an audience as in one playing a good horror movie.

So why on earth would a movie, especially a horror movie, ever give away its most powerful weapon, the uncertainty of its resolution? If you're going to tell me how your story ends, why should I bother watching it? This is why Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning was one of the biggest disasters in recent memory - how on earth am I supposed to care about characters that have to die for the events of the first film to have even occurred?


The World-Running Sequence From Jumper: A Pictorial Study in Continuity Errors

Late in the film Jumper the two titular supervillians, David and Jamie Bell, have a chase around the world while fighting over a remote control bomb detonator that Jamie wants to use to blow up a group of Samuel L. Jackson's henchmen, along with SamJac himself. David is opposed to this idea, because doing so would entail also blowing up his girlfriend, Millie.

As I watched the sequence, something occurred to me: the Jumpers are only able to move through space, not time, so the different locations they went to in this chase scene, which occurs in real time over the course of three minutes, should be either night or day depending on where they sit on the world's surface. At first glance, it seemed like they didn't, but I decided to check a little more carefully, doing my best to identify the locations and times in which each scene was taking place. We'll start in the setup for the chase, because that can establish the baseline time all this is happing around.
Here they are driving around at night in Tokyo. We don’t know exactly what time it is, but for the record, the time zone is GMT +9.
Apparently they drove around all night in their stolen car, because here they are driving up to the Tokyo Airport the next morning. We know it’s still Tokyo, because if you look closely, you can see that the cars crossing the bridge are driving on the left. Also, the big red building on the right of the image is the Tokyo Tower. Also, there’s a bit of a goof here – the colour of light seemed a little more afternoon-y to me than morning, so I did a little research.


Friday the 13th... The Comic! (Part 6 of 6)

Issue 6

I’ve seen some strange openings in this series so far, but this issue takes the cake by such a wide degree that, unless we’re very lucky, we may never see cake on this planet again. What’s that opening? Why, the origin of Jason, of course!

Excuse me? You think you know Jason’s origin? Something about almost drowning in a lake until he got brain damage, then seeing his mother brutally killed, and taking misguided vengeance into his own hands until getting killed by Corey Feldman. A quick lightning bolt to the chest some seven years later and he was back as an unkillable zombie.

No, silly goose, I’m talking about the secret origin of Jason Voorhees. You know, the one with the Indians.

Yeah, I hadn’t heard about it either.


Criminal Minds 104: Plain Sight

Synopsis – On a sunny afternoon in San Diego, California, a woman is brutally raped and murdered in her home. In a distrubing twist, her eyes are glued open so that her dead eyes will be left looking out the window. Even stranger, all of her dishes, silverware, and appliances have been taken out of their drawers and placed on the floor in a pile. In an insulting writer’s contrivance, apparently the press has dubbed this serial rapist/murderer ‘The Tommy Killer’, because, what with the eye gluing, he wants his victims to ‘see him and feel him’. Classy.

On the trip to San Diego, they identify a quote left at the crime scene as a 17th Century ballad about a rich woman begging death not to die, and death responding that riches are no defense when your time has come. All of the crimes are taking place in the same upper-class neighborhood, but far enough apart that the killer must be driving from place to place. Yet no one reported seeing anyone suspicious in the area.

Meanwhile, an older lady is attacked in her kitchen by an attacker wearing a hoodie. It’s a copycat, though, a black man who works at the nearby grocery. Far too much of the episode is taken up by the hunt for this unrelated character.


The Avod: This One Goes Out To You!

This week on the Avod, the Divemistress and myself discuss Escape From New York, her recent decision to stop watching Fringe, and popular film of the moment, 'Jumper'.

You can download the audio file here, or listen to it over the internet by clicking on the Avod's blog over there on the right side of the screen near the top.

P.S. - In Re: The DM's assertion that the time zones make sense in the final showdown at the end of the film, I've started working up the article about it (look for it Monday), and she's totally, utterly wrong. Just completely wrong.

Really, really, wrong.

CSI Wednesday!

I know I've fallen a little behind covering CSI lately, and I'll catch up soon - well, I'm not going to write about last week's episode, which, while preposterous and stupid, wasn't at all interesting, save for the fact that it introduced (to me, anyway), the fact that Eric has an evil Cuban crime lord father who's trying to have him killed for some reason. I had to leap-frog ahead to write about this week's episode because it had both an unbelievably bad message and a moment of incredible stupidity.

First, the message: Don't snitch!

Yeah, you'd think a show about law enforcement would have a pro-snitching police, what with it being the noblest thing a person can possibly do and all. No one bothered to tell the writers of CSI: Miami, apparently.


HOW TO RUIN YOUR OWN MOVIE: Diary of the Dead Edition

You know what's great? When a movie takes the time to sit down and explain the message behind every event in the film, in real time, as those events are happening.

I'm not going to go into the unbelievably stupid things that every character does for the entire length of the movie, because I'd have to watch the film a second time to document them, and there's no way I'm going to be doing that, but why on earth would you make a film that flat out told you not just how it was going to end and who was going to survive, but also had the narrator pop in every five minutes to explain how heartbreaking and philosophically interesting she finds everything that's going on.

Saturday Night Live RapeWatch: Hugh Laurie Edition!

Once again, a relatively light episode here on the old RapeWatch.

There was one instance of rape-based humour. On the news, a joke was made about how the 'Butt Bandit', who placed ass-prints on the windows of stores, was being sent to jail, and would suffer rape at the hands of prisoners there.

There was also one instance of the control humour, Homophobia, in a sketch about a man (Fred Armisen) who is unable to keep himself from eating cookies. For some reason he elected to play the man as flamboyantly homosexual, because apparently that makes it funnier.

And of course, since the rape joke was about male prison rape, that also double-counts as a rape/homophobia joke.

Which brings the week's joke tally to:

Homophobia: 2
Rape: 1


My Tolerance/Hate Relationship With Brian Bendis

Like most people, I first encountered Brian Bendis by having someone read his comic Fortune and Glory to me over the phone. Within its pages he told the story of his attempts to get first 'Goldfish' and then 'Torso' made into a movie with such straightforward clarity and catty superiority that it was impossible not to like the man, if not exactly admire him. I rushed out and picked up 'Torso', hoping to see what all the fuss was about.

It was a decision that I regretted almost immediately. What had been pitched as 'The Tale of Elliot Ness vs. America's First Serial Killer' was, in fact, just the story of Elliot Ness sitting around wondering how one might go about finding a serial killer, but not really doing much, until the bodies started really piling up, when he burned down the shanty town where all the transient people lived (this was during the great depression), hoping to deprive the torso killer of any more victims.


Friday the 13th... The Comic! (Part 5 of 6)

Issue 5

Rather surprisingly, this issue doesn’t pick up where the last one left off, instead it opens back in the hospital, where the Sheriff is interrogating Sally while she’s strapped to her bed, doped up on ‘all kinds of meds’. He’s desperate to find out exactly what happened at Crystal Lake, and recaps the death of the three victims we know about, dropping quite a bombshell in the process. It seems that the stoners’ bodies were covered in tiny bite marks, matching the jaw radius of different ages and genders of children.

He mentions this in passing, although it seems to be a pretty important point. After all, we know that the stoners died just a couple of days earlier – where on earth could those bites have come from? We readers know that this fact establishes the ghost children as actual, factual monsters – as if their attempt to drown Sally hadn’t done that already – but to him, this has got to be something of a crazy twist! Back in the first issue, he announced he was skeptical about the whole ‘Death Curse’ thing, but there’s no way he can justify skepticism any more, is there?

Criminal Minds 103: Won't Get Fooled Again

Synopsis – On a sunny florida morning, a man is blown up by a package in plain brown wrapping. Miraculously, he isn’t killed, just horrificially injured. Another similar bombs have gone off in the area so the team is called in to deal with the terrifying prospect of a serial bomber working the sunshine state. Making matters worse, when a third bomb goes off in the background of a live news broadcast, the team has to deal with the possibility of a public panic over the possibility of a terrorist attack.

On the plane to Florida, Greg outlines the case – three people were bombed: An old lady, the guy from the opening, and the woman who lived across the street. I say ‘lived’ because the guy from the beginning was the only survivor. Doing the smart thing, the team has already checked out connections between the victims. It turns out the guy was a partner in a failed real-estate scheme in which the old lady had invested. The woman across the street had no connection.


The Avod: Blood and Sex Nightmare!

Tonight on the Avod, the Divemistress and myself review the film whose box art is pictured above. So yeah, this one might not be for all audiences.

Just to keep things lively though, we also discuss our ongoing attempts to become fans of Fringe (here's a spoiler - it's not going that well), but then things get gruesome again, as we move on to discussing Rue Morgue's list of the 50 goriest films of all time.

You may enjoy the Avod by right-clicking here and choosing to save the downlad, then listening to it at your own convenience. Perhaps when jogging!


Saturday Night Live RapeWatch: John Malcovitch Edition!

Great news tonight!

Absolutely no rape jokes tonight! Even better, there weren't any instances of our control jokes (homophobia) either!

Perhaps not coincidentally, it was a painfully unfunny episode, with only a single bright spot: John Malcovitch starring in a sketch about him mounting a production of Dangerous Liasons set in a hot tub entitled 'J'Acuzzi!' It was exactly as great as the premise suggests, and I'm sure the internet will be able to confirm that for you in a few hours.

Oddly, the funniest line of the night wasn't part of a sketch - there's nothing more hilariously discordant than hearing John Malcovitch say "Once again, T.I., featuring Swizzbeats."

You're the king, Malcovitch.


Friday the 13th... The Comic! (Part 4 of 6)

Issue 4

The issue kicks off another great image, which not only serves to set a great mood, but also remind me just how big proper oars are. My only real boating experience is with canoes and their rather modest paddles. Those rowing deals are something else, huh?

The actual story of the issue resumes just where it left off, with Sally, Girlfriend and Jock (the secret gay!) gathered in the main cabin while Jason looms ominously outside. Unfortunately, the outdoors aren’t well lit, and the lightning has dies down, so no one else is able to see Jason. This leads Girlfriend to announce that she thinks it’s safe to go and gather Rico and Alisha, then all drive into town together. Not some much to get away from the murderer as to escape the awkwardness of her secretly gay boyfriend.


Criminal Minds 102: Compulsion

The episode opens with a quick resolve of the ‘Footpath Killer’ storyline from the previous week. After being identified by Mandy Patinkin, the Killer forces the profiler at gunpoint into the back of the gas station where he works. Things are looking bad for Mandy until he’s able to talk the killer down by explaining that he understands why the killer does the things he does. What’s the kicker? He offers to tell the killer something no one has ever been able to tell him: Why he stutters.

The episode then cuts to the present, where Mandy is talking to other agents about catching the killer, so that the writers can make Mandy seem like a miracle worker for managing to sense the murderer’s identity. We’re treated to a pretentious quote to help drive the point home:

The Scene: An FBI Office
The Players: Mandy Patinkin, a Slow Agent

Mandy Patinkin: There are certain clues at a crime scene which, by their very nature, do not lend themselves to being collected or examined. How does one collect love, rage, hatred, fear? These are things we’re trained look for.

Slow Agent: So anyone else woulda just seen a guy who stutters, but you saw the footpath killer.

I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 60

Day 60: Indiana Jones and the Hole-y Plot (Part 2)

In the last entry, I questioned the Commies' decision to bring Harrison Ford along to find a box that a simple manifest could have more efficiently led them to. Today I'm going to go one degree further, and ask an even bigger question: Why on earth did the Commies think they needed the alien corpse in the first place?


Friday the 13th... The Comic! (Part 3 of 6)

Issue 3

This issue opens with Mike and and the other counselors discovering that the stoners have disappeared. Everyone agrees they must have left early in the morning, since no one saw them go, and it wouldn’t make sense for them to have wandered off in the middle of the night. Of course, it also doesn’t make sense for two loser stoners who were ditching out on paying work to have made their beds before sneaking off:


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 59

Day 59: Indiana Jones and the Hole-y Plot (Part 1)

It's time for a special week here at the Castle, as I'll be nitpicking even more intensely and obsessively than I normally do. What subject could possibly deserve this kind of cruel hypercriticism? Why, the plot holes, of course! The many, many plot holes.

We'll start with one of the bigger ones, since it's actually the plot hole that kicks off the film. Namely: Why did the Commies kidnap Indiana Jones and bring him to Area 51?


Friday the 13th... The Comic! (Part 2 of 6)

Issue 2

The second issue opens with a dream sequence, as Sally, currently unconscious because of her near-drowning experience, hallucinates that Jason is attacking her. The most interesting thing about this scene is that the Jason that attacks her is clearly the ‘real’ Jason, as defined by the world of the comic.

I’ll explain – up until this point, we’ve had no reason to believe that Sally has any particular familiarity with the details of the Jason legend, nor is there any suggestion that anyone has managed to get photographic evidence of his appearance. Yet, when Jason appears in Sally’s nightmare, it’s the Jason who will actually be chasing her through the woods in two weeks, right down to the machete.


Sunday Afternoon Avod!

Welcome to another episode of the Avod, the Internet's sole audio-only Vodcast!

This time around, we go in-depth in our discussion of DiveMistress' John Carpenter project, while I discuss some of the myriad problems that Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles offers to anyone foolish enough to view it.

Enjoy! By right-clicking the word Enjoy back there and then saving the file and listening to it!

In Re: Quantum of Solace

Watching an extended scene in which a fighter plane riddled an old cargo jobber with bullets I noticed something - at no point during the entire sequence did I have the slightest idea where the three aircraft involved in the dogfight were in relation to each other, or the landscape. Why? Because the entire action scene was shot and edited with utter disregard for the eventual viewer of the film. It's not alone, either - there are five other sequences, really every action scene in the film, that prove just as impenetrable to the audience.

Saturday Night Live RapeWatch!

As an avid watcher of Saturday Night Live, I've noticed an odd trend lately. That trend? Using rape as the punchline to jokes. It's too soon to be making any judgments about what all this means, so for the time being I'm just going to be keeping track of every instance, along with a popular, long-running objectionable punchline: Homophobia.

Tonight's episode featured Paul Rudd, with musical guest Beyonce (maybe it's possible to add accents to letters in this thing - I don't care enough to find out).


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 58

Day 58: Indiana Jones and the Reason They Invented Seatbelts

Many people point to the atomic fridge as a dealbreaker in the film, and have no doubt, it is a remarkably retarded turn of events, but it's not the point at which the film completely lost touch with the relatably realistic action of the previous films. How could it be, when the filmmakers had already thrown out all pretense of obeying the laws of physics in a prior scene?

Just a few minutes earlier, Indiana Jones is racing around the Ark warehouse, being chased by commies. Racing down a row of crates in an army truck, going somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty miles an hour, he sees Cate Blanchett's car racing towards him at a similar speed. Fully aware that an impact at this speed would lead to a disastrous result, Harrison Ford climbs out onto the hood of the truck and uses his whip to swing out of danger (one of three whip uses in the film!). Naturally, the three vehicles (Indy's truck, the jeep following, and Blanchett's car) all slam into each other at once.

And then everyone's fine. Despite the complete lack of seatbelts, no one is ejected from their suddenly-stopped vehicle. Neither are any spines snapped or heads dashed open. No, everyone is able to crawl out of the wreck fundamentally undamaged.


Friday the 13th... The Comic! (Part 1 of 6)

Friday the 13th holds a special place in my heart. In addition to my qualifications as a pop culture critic in this, the last great unregulated expanse we call the Internet, I am both a board-certified Jasonologist and a world-reknowned Jasonosopher. I believe this renders me better able than most to offer commentary and criticism on DC's recent attempt to launch a line of Friday the 13th comic books. This article will exhaustively cover the first storyline of that new series, which was untitled, and spanned a trade-paperback-friendly six issues. It's going to be essentially one long spoiler as I address plot details, holes, and various problems contained within the comic. In order illustrate my points I'll be using some images from the comics and films—because the films were all rated R, and the comics are published by DC's 'edgy' subsidiary Wildstorm, it's quite possible this article will not be safe for work. It depends where you work, I guess. If you're in the art department at Hustler, then it's probably cool. If you're answering phones at a rectory, maybe not so much. Please, just use your best judgment, or, if you need to be absolutely sure, anonymously send a link to this article to your HR rep and get their opinion. Actually, you know what? Do that anyway, I could use the hits.


CSI Thursday: 100th post edition!

Monday was a return to the glorious judgmental and moralist storytelling we've come to love from CSI, as Horatio finds himself embroiled in a murder involving a ring of amateur hooker housewives! Well, not actually a ring, more like a a succession of random housewife hookers who all wind up getting drugged and robbed by a pool boy hired by Xena to scare them into not being amateur hookers any more.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The episode begins when a vacationing couple from Kansas phone in a noise complaint about the next room. When the concierge arrives to check on the noise, he discovers a disturbing scene: A woman has been drugged into unconsciousness and her bedmate, who is handcuffed to the headboard, has been stabbed to death.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 57

Day 57: Indiana Jones and the Magical Waterspout

In adventure films, it's not uncommon to see the hero wind up in some kind of an evil fortress or ancient temple. If that happens, you can expect, to a 90% degree of certainty that at the end of said hero's association with said locale, the locale will wind up self-destructing. Usually due in no small part to the actions of the hero.

Examples of this can be found in each of the previous Indiana Jones films. Harrison Ford causes the Hovitos' sacred cave to collapse by triggering a trap, then Mola Ram dropped a ridiculously, comically, insanely large canister of water next to a train tunnel, flooding it to an absurd extents. Even in Last Crusade, when Elsa attempts to take the Grail out of the temple, the whole place shakes a little.


Criminal Minds 101: Extreme Agressor

As I announced on the recent Avod, I'm beginning a project wherein I watch every episode of Criminal Minds, the most profiler-y show on television, and judge just how much profiling is actually used to solve the crimes (I'm guessing just serial killings, but who knows?) depicted.

To examine each episode, I'll be recapping the plot, and then asking three simple questions:

1 - Was profiling in any way helpful in solving the crime?
2 - If so, was the profiling plausible, or was it more magical and out of left field in the way it helped?
3 - Could the crime have been solved just as easily using conventional police methods given the known facts of the case?

With no further ado, I present to you a critical examination of Criminal Minds episode 101: "Extreme Agressor"

Early Friday Morning Avod!

On today's Avod, the Divemistress and myself discuss Midnight Meat Train, our new ongoing projects, and many, many, many tangents!

Enjoy! By clicking here! And downloading it to a folder! Then using a mediaplayer or portable audio device to listen to it! Yeah!


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 56

Day 56: Indiana Jones and the Scary Reds

In yesterday's entry, I mentioned the way the film utterly wasted the impact of Anti-Communist paranoia on Indiana Jones' adventures. Today I'm going to address something even bigger - the film's complete failure to have anything to say about the entire issue of the 50s communist witch hunt. Right at the outset, it seems like a deep vein of relevant messages are about to be mined. Then no such thing proceeds to happen.

In fact, other than Indiana Jones being run out of his job for his shady connections, there's nary a comment to be found on the subject of one of the darkest social periods of America's 20th century. Heck, one action sequence even runs through an anti-communist rally without even a sideways glanced at the kind of fervor that held America's better angels hostage.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 55

Day 55: Indiana Jones and the Failure to Raise the Stakes

When it comes to The Crystal Valley's failures, and mistakes, it seems like they're split almost evenly between things that they did incredibly poorly, and things that they just entirely neglected to do. Today's entry falls squarely into that second category.

After escaping from the atomic explosion using his ability to be terribly written, Harrison Ford finds himself in an even worse predicament - he's suspected of being in collusion with the Russians by the US Government!


What's going on with Knight Rider?

I don't watch the new Knight Rider television show. Maybe I should, given my love of awfulness, but I don't.

This week might well be an exception, though. Out of the corner of my eye I happened to catch a few seconds of an ad. It's possible I was misinterpreting the whole situation, but in that fractional glimpse it looked like Willard was crouched over someone in the high-tech control centre, making a grave pronouncement while a cheerleader looked on from the background.

That's such an odd tableau that I find myself compelled to tune in and find out just what the heck was going on.

Stay tuned for a report on the matter.

I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 54

Day 54: Indiana Jones and the One Tin Soldier

I'm sure everyone reading this is familiar with the term 'MacGuffin', but just in case, I'm going to offer a quick lesson. Everyone in the know, feel free to skip the next paragraph.

Initially used by Alfred Hitchcock, the 'MacGuffin' is the thing in a film that people want, but that has no real importance to the plot, beyond getting it moving. The quintessential MacGuffin is the money in Psycho. Stealing it sends Janet Leigh on the road to her doom, and chasing after her (and the money) gets Arboghast killed and finally leads to Norman Bates being captured. The money itself plays no role in the film beyond a motivator to bring characters into conflict with one another. In the years since its introduction, the definition of 'MacGuffin' has been stretched to include any object of desire in a film, whether it is practically used in the plot or not. Strict MacGuffins, like the tape in Escape from New York and the briefcase in Ronin now share the term with broader MacGuffins like the disc in Escape From LA, or the valuable shotgun in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

The Indiana Jones franchise has always featured the second variety of MacGuffin, as the objects in question, be they stones, grails, or arki, always play a key, practical role in the film's climax. Likewise, this film's MacGuffin, the Crystal Skull, is a valuable tool for the vast majority of the movie's running time. It cows natives, repels ants, and even raises an alien from the dead. The briefcase from Pulp Fiction, this is certainly not.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 53

Day 53: Indiana Jones and the (far too) Lucky Escape (Part 3)

Today's entry covers yet another example of Indiana Jones' unbelievably convenient luck when it comes to finding his way to safety in even the direst of circumstances. This particular example comes from a sequence that I haven't mentioned as of yet in this series, the motorcycle chase around and through Barnett College, where Harrison Ford teaches when he's not off battling natives and punching Nazis.

I'll cover the details of the chase another day, for now I'll just recap the situation - Harrison Ford is hanging onto the back of Shia Laboeuf's bike as they ride through city streets and college gardens. The chase ends as Shia tricks the commies into ramming into the statue of Denholm Elliot, beheading it and sending the copper dome into one of the Commies' laps. Then the chase ends, and the scene cuts to Harrison Ford's house, as he and Shia go to look a few things up in books (the cornerstone of action filmmaking: always cut directly from a chase scene to a research scene!)


Avod Episode 2: Halloween Special!

That's right folks, just in time for Halloween, the Divemistress and I have teamed up to produce a Halloween-themed Avod, covering everything you need to know to have a spooktacular holiday weekend (as long as it involves watching horror movies, or possibly listening to people talking about them)!

Happy Halloween!
(right click on the previous statement and 'save link as' to enjoy the Avod)

P.S. - In case you're wondering why the Halloween poster wasn't altered at all, it's because you don't mess with perfection.

I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 52

Day 52: Indiana Jones and the Useless Whip

Indiana Jones isn't a gimmick character, nor does he only have one note. That is to say, he's not a whip-themed character, and I would never suggest that the films go out of their way to find things for him to whip, because doing so would likely only lead to awkwardness.

That being said, I think it's fair to say that everyone who pays to see an Indiana Jones movie expects to see him using the whip a few times. It doesn't have to be throughout the film, and it doesn't have to be constant, but nonetheless, it's something we expect him to get around to doing at some point. Like James Bond and his Martinis, the audience wants to see Indy cleverly swinging or grabbing things with a whip at opportune moments.


Jon Hamm is the new Alec Baldwin

Not in the acting or celebrity sense - in the Saturday Night Live hosting sense.

Like everyone else, I love Alec Baldwin's performances as SNL's default host, but at some point he's bound to get tired of the job, and once that happens, they're going to need someone to act as a go-to guy for hosting duties, and they won't find anyone better for the job than Jon Hamm.


Thursday Night Avod!

Then it must be the Avod!

That's right, today marks the debut of the webternet's first audio-only vodcast!

A semi-regular feature here at the Castle, the Avod features the divemistress and myself disagreeing about the hot issues in modern genre fiction. Or at least the genre fiction of late August, because that's when the first episode was recorded. And one of the topics is a movie well over a year old that I just didn't get around to watching for quite a while.

But other than that, cutting edge.

So please, enjoy the Avod, which can be downloaded here!

Next time the issues we discuss will be ever so slightly more current: look forward to a discussion of Knight Rider! Maybe even the new one!


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 51

Day 51: Indiana Jones and the Useless Motorcycle

When one looks at all of the terrible payoffs that Indiana Jones and Crystal Kingdom offered, it's easy to miss the big setup that lacked a payoff of any kind. Of course, I speak of Shia Laboeuf's motorcycle.

The character Mutt Williams is introduced riding his motorcycle. This is because the entire visual of the character, no, the entire conception of the character, really only makes sense when associated with motorcycles. Take him away from them, and he starts to look a little silly. Just look at Fonzie. Riding into Arnold's? Great. Strapping on waterskis? Cliche-definingly awful.


CSI Tuesday!

So after last week, when the opening line was so drab that I didn't bother writing about it, CSI: Miami storms back with a vengeance, with Caruso punning his way into television history with one of the most inappropriate things to say at a crime scene ever!

The Scene: Some teen girls have traveled to the near future, where clothing stores have clear panels on the dressing room doors so that people can ogle you while you change, and the mirrors have been replaced by million-dollar wall-sized touchscreen technology that can show you what you'd look like in any outfit, in any location!

When one of the teen girls is killed after that selfsame touchscreen explodes, Horatio is called to the scene, along with the new medical examiner, whose name I haven't learned, and who hasn't made the opening credits, but whose habit of not gently fondling the hair of dead people has already endeared her to me more than Catherine from NewsRadio, who she's replacing.

Generic ME: Horatio, why target a fashion boutique? It seems too random.

Horatio Caine: On the contrary, this was by design.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 50

Day 50: Indiana Jones and the Freudian Interpretation

Today's problem isn't a very large one, but it is indicative of the kind of tone that the film was going for. My real problem is with that overall tone, and therefore these little details really irk me, since each once contributes in its own awful way to to the disastrous overall picture that is Indiana Jones and the Pyramid of the Plastic Head.

This particular scene occurs when Cate Blanchett arrives inside the Area 51 warehouse. Now, for the entire film up until this point Cate Blanchett has had a sword clipped to her belt. The average viewer might find this decision puzzling. After all, why on earth would someone would wear a sword in the middle of the desert during a secret military operation? It's not like she's in America to fight dragons, pirates, or Zorros. Any of those might have improved the film, but sadly, it wasn't to be. Add to this the fact that she spends a good portion of the scene climbing into and out of vehicles, and the sword becomes a ridiculous choice.


You Failed to Make A Movie: Alive or Dead

I don't know why I was expecting anything else. There's a reason slasher films go direct-to-video, after all, but this one was just unreasonably bad.

I'm not going to full describe the film as I usually do, because it's late and I'm tired, so I'm just going to use the magic of point form to lay out my problems with it:

It turns out Andy Kaufman is defintiely dead.

II know this, because last night, Saturday Night Live killed him.

Here's the story, in short form: Recently, Andy Samberg did an uncanny impression of Mark Wahlberg in a sketch titled "Mark Wahlberg talks to animals". Here's a clip of it, along with Mark Wahlberg's flattered response:


So now I have to have contempt for Garth Ennis as well.

I recently read the first issue of Garth Ennis' "Crossed", a new entry in the zombpocalypse genre, in which people desperately band together to flee from the ravening crowd. You may ask "Hey, Count, what separates this particular zombpocalypse comic from all the other ones out there in the market?" Well, in addition to being much worse written, its zombies aren't technically dead yet (like 28 Days Later - also terrible, By The Way), and unlike normal zombies, they absolutely love to rape! Yeah, they can't get enough of that rape. If you forced them to choose between raping and eating flesh, they wouldn't be able to, so instead they'd hit you with a hammer and then do both to you while you were unconscious.

I'm not shocked to see this show up in Garth Ennis' zombie comic, after all, his latest series "The Boys" deals primarily with super-powered rapists and the 'fellas' that work for the CIA and try to put them in their place. Sure, I found the rape scene objectionable, but it was just the unpleasnt cherry atop the worthless pie that is the rest of the comic.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 49

Day 49: Indiana Jones and the Lack of Scope

The film Raiders of the Lost Ark contains two images that I feel people associate with it more than any other. I'm not talking about action scenes, or fun exploding heads, or even glamour shots of Harrison Ford posing for promotional purposes. I'm speaking specifically about single frames that everyone takes away from the movie and identify with it more than any other image. The first, and it's no coincidence that this is the frame that you see more often than on any other when people want to show something from Raiders of the Lost Ark, is Indiana Jones crouched in front of the gold idol preparing to switch it for a bag of sand.

The second image is the one that closes the film: is a matte painting of the storage facility (which Crystal Skull identifies as "Area 51") where the Ark of the covenant is being housed. It's a captivating image that slyly suggests the futility of all Indy's death defying feats while at the same time leaving the audience with the slightly unsettling question of what other items of occult significance the government has stacked up in the facility.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 48

Day 48: Indiana Jones and the Midnight Rocket Train

Today we go back to the beginning of the film and look at a sequence that is among the worst edited in recent memory. And by worst, I don't mean that it contains myriad continuity errors or is over cut to the point of incoherence like a Paul Greengrass Bourne movie, no I'm talking about bizarre editing creating huge lapses in time.

As the film opens it's noon or fairly close to it. We can determine this because the groundhog that pops its head up during the opening has almost no visible shadow. To give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt we're going to assume that it's after noon here, somewhere in the vicinity of one o'clock. The main reason I'm giving this benefit of the doubt is that I don't have the necessary information I would need to nitpick any further, such as in which direction the driveway to Area 51 runs. Somehow I doubt googlemaps would be much help on this one.


Count Vardulon's Picto-Quiz: AVP2!

There's more than a few things wrong with Aliens Versus Predator 2: Requiem, but today isn't about nitpicking myriad flaws. No, that's what every other day is for. Today, on the other hand, is all about reader participation.

In that spirit, I'd like to present the first-ever Castle Vardulon picto-quiz! Below you'll find a series of actual images reduced form actual screenshots captured from an actual DVD of the actual film AVP2:R. So what's the quiz? I have selected thirty-five moments from the film. A number of them have been flipped upside-down. Can you identify which ones they are? I've included descriptions of events transpiring in the pictures to help you out.

I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 47

Day 47: Indiana Jones and the Deja Kung Fu

As I've mentioned in a previous entry, the Zombie Monkey Kung Fu Indians weren't a great idea. That being said, I'm sure they would have been more bearable had they not been so bafflingly repetitive. There's a simple rule to go by if you're going to put something odd, or stupid, or cheap in a movie: If it absolutely has to be there, get it onscreen, get it out of the way quickly, and then move on. And whatever you do, if it was ridiculous the first time, don't bring it back. Heck, even things that were absolutely wonderful the first time in a film can find themselves giving off a stink of increativity the second time around.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 46

Day 46: Indiana Jones and the Shamed Name

Today's entry is a pretty obvious problem that I'm sure nearly everyone who saw the film in the theatre noticed. Beyond its obviousness, though, it's deceptively important, and I feel the mistake being made says much more about the filmmakers attitude towards the character than they intended it to. What I talking about? The film's steadfast refusal to refer to its main character by the name "Indiana Jones".

This one was so unexpected and completely out of left field that I almost thought I was hearing things. Or rather not hearing things. Somehow every time a character goes to talk to Indiana Jones they referred to him up by his proper birth name: "Henry Jones Jr". His friends call him that. His enemies call him that. Letters address him as that. Even the government calls him that. Why? That's not his name.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 45

Day 45: Indiana Jones and the Absence of a Good Henchman

When talking about the Indiana Jones franchise the villains tend to get a lot of attention and rightfully so. The first film's 1-2 punch of Belloq and Toht makes for one of the greatest villain combinations of all time, and while Mola Ram doesn't get a lot of screen time in Temple of Doom, it doesn't stop him from being memorably menacing. By comparison, the lack of any quality or even noteworthy villains in Last Crusade is yet another strike that film has against it. As wonderful as those central villains are, though, in praising them we can wind up overlooking the smaller characters that made the film's action sequences so compelling: the henchmen.

Specifically I'm speaking of the three henchmen played by one actor across two films. The actor/stuntman's name is Pat Roach, and he was former British wrestler who cut an imposing figure and could sell a punch like nobody's business. In Raiders of the Lost Ark he portrayed both the giant sherpa who wrestles with Indiana Jones in Marion's bar and the Nazi mechanic who has an unfortunate run in with the flying wing's propeller. He returned for Temple of Doom to don offensive brownface once more as the giant thugee guard who forces Indiana Jones to drink blood and enter the thugee black sleep.


On the Subject of Durham County...

Having been inundated with ads for Durham County for two weeks straight about eight months ago, the delayed-reaction suggestibility part of my brain finally clicked off and I wound up renting it last weekend. I watched the six episodes back to back, and was more than a little puzzled by what I'd seen.

For the most part it's a standard enough story of a guy who loves to murder (Justin Louis), and the incredibly contrived series of interrelated coincidences that conspire to cover up for his crimes. Peep this:

I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 44

Day 44: Indiana Jones and the Idiotic Archaeologist Part Five

I'm wrapping up this week with a relatively short article because today's subject really kind of speaks for itself. In fact, while speaking for itself it goes to the trouble of telling the audience in the clearest possible terms exactly what the filmmakers think of Indiana Jones' intellectual capacity. Once again I treat you to some dialogue from the film:

Scene: Indiana Jones has just arrived inside the temple of the crystal skull's treasure room. Before him he finds a huge repository of items from our world's ancient cultures in showroom condition, suggesting that the aliens had traveled the world throughout history collecting items of artistic and cultural value, then stored them inside the temple, safe from any degradation or wear.

Harrison Ford: My God... they were archaeologists!

Again I'm going to have to point out exactly what the filmmakers are trying to get across with this line. They want you, the audience, to think that Indiana Jones is so stupid that he doesn't even know what his own job is.

Archaeology is defined as exploring the lives of people throughout history by examining what traces remain of those lives. Indiana Jones has spent his entire life both doing this and teaching would-be archaeologists about the rewards and difficulties of attempting to understand the people and cultures that existed before us. That is in no way what the aliens were doing.

The film explicitly shows us the aliens have been here for an incredibly long amount of time. In that time they clearly explored the globe studying the cultures of man and collecting notably representative items. How exactly does that differ from what Indiana Jones does? Well, for one thing, the aliens weren't doing it hundreds of years after these societies ceased to exist. They were picking up the artifacts while the cultures were still producing them. This makes the aliens not archaeologists at all, but rather anthropologists. Although even the term 'anthropologist' suggests a scientific interest in studying the races of man that the aliens in no way demonstrate. Really the best term we can use to describe them is simply 'collector'.

That's how stupid this film's incarnation of Indiana Jones is. He can't understand the difference between someone like him who spent his entire life trying to gain a better understanding of the peoples of history, and the person who travels around the world picking up souvenirs to remind him of his trips.

Looking back on this week's articles I realized something. All this time I've been writing about my hatred for Indiana Jones assumed that the fire in my heart and bile in my gut was somehow unique, and that perhaps I hated Indiana Jones more than anyone else in the world. Observing how little respect the filmmakers had to one of the great fictional creations of the past thirty years I find myself realizing that when it comes to hating Indiana Jones, compared to the filmmakers I'm strictly an amateur.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 43

Day 43 Indiana Jones and the Idiotic Archaeologist Part Four

Interestingly, the film seems to tacitly acknowledge the growing idiocy of the Indiana Jones character, in that he never actually has to figure anything out. He's supposed to be a brilliant archaeologist and beloved professor who uses his mind to first to solve the puzzles and uncover historical mysteries, and his gun second, when when threatened by fascists and communists - although he's very nervous about shooting communists for some reason. What's startling about this film is that it never asks Indiana Jones to figure anything out. He's just a character who gets told where to go and what to do, first by communists, then by Shia Laboeuf, then by a crystal skull.


CSI Wednesday!

The Scene: A psychiatrist's home office. The psychiatrist's daughter has been stabbed to death, and now the psychiatrist is refusing to suggest which one of her patients might have done it, despite the fact that, the night before, one of her patients had talked extensively about sneaking into her house and murdering her in exactly the way the daughter died, and then proceeded to threaten the doctor with a gun.

Psychiatrist: I took an oath.
Horatio Caine: So did I.

Sadly, this all happened indoors, so there was no need to put on or take off sunglasses. Sigh.

I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 42

Day 42 Indiana Jones and the Idiotic Archaeologist Part Three

Today the idiocy moves out of the jungle and into a malt shoppe, in an earlier scene as Mutt Williams tries to explain to Indiana Jones just why his help was needed to save the day. In trying to ascertain just how he knew Shia Laboeuf's mother, Harrison discovers that her name was "Mary". He then opines that he's 'known' such an incredibly large number of women that just the name Mary isn't in the least bit helpful.

This raises the question of exactly why Indiana Jones would have said that at all. In addition to making it seem like he's bragging about all of the tail he's scored over the years, it's an incredibly dickish thing to say in front of the woman's son. It essentially implies that Indiana Jones is a man of such loose morals and low character that his mother would have had to been a huge tramp to spend any time at all with him back in the day.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 41

Day 41: Indiana Jones and the Idiotic Archaeologist Part Two

When addressing yesterday's problems I left out the most egregious and offensive aspect of the entire scene. That's right, there's something more egregious than the way Indiana Jones, a professor of archaeology, demonstrating a total disdain for all practices of archaeology or, in fact, human decency. No, the absolute stupidest, most offensive thing about the scene is the dialogue.

The scene: Indiana Jones is preparing to open up a mummy for absolutely no reason. He turns to Shia Laboeuf.

Harrison Ford: Do you have a knife?


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 40

Day 40: Indiana Jones and the Idiotic Archaeologist

Throughout these entries concerning Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Plastic Skull, you may have noticed certain themes beginning to crop again and again. Some of these are the normal kinds of things you'd seen in any bad film, such as incompetence at basic filmmaking skills, or contempt for the audience. The most stunning thing I've come across while recapping the film is that the filmmakers seem to be bound and determined to make Indiana Jones look like as much of an idiot as possible.

I can't begin to imagine the motives behind these choices, they could run anywhere from the filmmakers genuinely thinking that their audience were idiots, all the way to assuming that if they made Indiana Jones look terrible it would make new (hopefully franchise) character Mutt Williams look better without actually having to make him interesting or likable. It's even slightly possible that they had some kind of crazed grudge against the character. Whatever the motive that lay behind their actions, it's undeniable that through those actions they took a mallet to a character beloved by millions and turned him into a moron who likely should not be allowed outdoors without supervision.

CSI Monday!

The scene: A party was 'crashed' by a man on fire! Then his barbecued corpse is examined by a sexy lady who, surprise, surprise, is the new medical examiner. After determining that he was doused in something an set on fire, the ME points out that as a living human body burns, the muscles curl up, locking him in the pugilist's pose.

SEXY M.E. WHO ISN"T WEARING A HAIRNET: From the latin 'pugil-' which means "Fights with fists."

(Horatio Caine puts on his sunglasses)

HORATIO CAINE: A fight... To the death.


Batman's Not-Very-Secret Identity

Batman's been around for a few decades now so, despite the fact that he was semi-rebooted back in the 80s, he's got a long enough history that more than a few people have either figured out, or just been told his secret identity. If 2003's "Batman: Family (issue 7)" can be believed, he's just getting lazy.

The setup: After WayneCo CEO Lucius Fox suffers a stroke, Bruce Wayne is convinced to put a mysterious old woman in charge of his multi-billion dollar empire, based solely on the fact that she used to be an acquaintance of Bruce's mother. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that she's the head of a 'family' of criminals out to steal all of his money. In the following scene, Batman has locked one of the 'family' members in a glass cage which, while escape-proof, is by no means soundproof:


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 39

Day 39: Indiana Jones and the Pathetic Trap

Trap rooms don't make the most sense, do they? As conceits go in adventure films, they're among the bigger ones. In an earlier post, I mentioned the invisible bridge from Last Crusade as being especially egregious, but the truth is every film in the series suffers from the problem to a certain extent. Questions about what exactly was powering the crushing ceiling from Temple of Doom, or the Behead-O-Tron from Last Crusade don't go away easily, and it takes a little mystery out of Raiders once you start to imagine the Hovitos creeping into the secret temple, crawling behind walls, and turning elaborate crank systems to reset the spears that skewered Forrestal. And though I've committed the entire film Raiders of the Lost Ark to memory, even I don't have the slightest idea what all those snakes were eating.

This is another one of those areas where the audience is asked to suspend a lot of their disbelief, and as a rule, they're more than happy to, so long as the traps involved are interesting, and put the main characters in a some great degree of threat. Which, naturally, brings us to the single trap room featured in the search for the Crystal Skull. Although, in point of fact, it barely qualifies as a trap room, because it lacks such basic elements as cleverness, originality, or danger of any kind.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 38

Day 38: Indiana Jones and the Blase Secondary Protagonist

So Indy shouldn't have been able to find the graveyard, the appearance of the natives was kind of silly, and showing the entire fight scene from Indiana Jones' sidekick's perspective was an incredibly stupid move, but the most offense thing about the whole fight scene is Shia Laboeuf's reaction to it. Or really lack of reaction to it, I should say.

While the audience is well aware that fighting karate monkey death Indians is a fairly run-of-the-mill afternoon for for Indy, the entire experience pretty much has to be the most interesting thing that has ever happened to Shia Laboeuf, as well as the closest he's ever come to dying. Now, I'm sure he had a few close calls down at the garage, you know, what with cars falling off lifts and such. And there's every chance a few of those of malt shop dust-ups have gone pretty rowdy, but there's a pretty big difference between getting into that kind of trouble and having prehistoric kung fu style monsters shooting poison darts at you in a South American graveyard.


I Should Really Stop Watching Terminator

If it's just going to make me angry. This week, we discovered that Cameron was based on a real person. This isn't a surprise, per se - obviously the Terminators would have better luck pretending to be actual people they killed rather than just random faces.

My problem wasn't with that conceit, but rather that the evil Cameron (as seen murdering the real person she was based on) was making wacky quips to corpses even before she was switched into read/write mode. What possible purpose could quipping to corpses serve a computer?

I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 37

Day 37: Indiana Jones and the Off-Camera Action

As if the very existence of the kung fu monkey man zombie natives wasn't bad enough, the way the film chooses to deal with them is even worse. When you've got an idea this bad, finding a way to make it worse seems like an amazing feat - but one should never underestimate these filmmakers, and their dedication to awfulness. So how do they do it? Instead of just having a fight between Indiana Jones, Shia Laboeuf and a number of the monkey men, they move the fight off-camera so that the audience doesn't get to see it.

That's right, you're not reading things, in this movie a fight happens that the filmmakers didn't think was important enough to let the audience see. This isn't used as an off-camera joke either, like Marion knocking out the Arab with a frying pan, then having the body flop out of the doorway into frame. This is an entire action scene that no one seems to think it's a good idea to bother getting on film. For more than a minute Indiana Jones chases natives through the graveyard, running through caves, popping up in unexpected places, doing interesting visual things. Instead of showing them to us, the camera decides to stay with Shia Laboeuf, who stands still with a confused look on his face as if he's having trouble comprehending what's going on around him.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 36

Day 36: Indiana Jones and the Inexplicable Attackers

Today's entry concerns a sequence in the film that I found puzzling at the time, and which has only gotten more and more confusing in retrospect. It's a sequence which has no real precedent in the Indiana Jones series, or any decent film for that matter. I'm speaking of the sequence that have occurs right after Indiana Jones in Shia laboeuf arrive at the graveyard, as they're attacked by natives who've made themselves up to look like skeletons from the graveyard.

The question I had at the time which has only grown more relevant in retrospect is: who exactly are these natives? While I'm surprisingly willing to believe that at one time the natives who worship the crystal skull aliens at one time had a large enough kingdom that this graveyard could logically be part of it, the film gives us no reason to believe their numbers are anywhere near large enough to maintain that kind of a presence today. The graveyard is presumably near near the decent-sized city where John Hurt was recently institutionalized. I say presumably because, as mentioned previously, the audience was given no real idea where this graveyard might be or how Indiana Jones found it.


What's Wrong With Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles?

Is it the title? Possibly. My associate Mer-Man tells me he hates the show because every time he's flipping through the channels on his digital cable and sees the word 'Terminator' his hopes are raised for a second that the amazing film Terminator is on, or even the fractionally less amazing film Terminator 2: Judgement Day, and then he has to deal with the crushing realization, as he turns the channel, that he won't have the opportunity to watch either of those films.

Personally, I blame the show's utter lack of quality on a fundamental failure to understand what makes Terminator interesting. This is a show that had John Connor, after being flung into the future in an attempt to race the clock and stop Skynet from even going online, then be enrolled in High School. Really? That's the best possible use of his time? History class? Sure, he's sixteen, but in the second episode they went and bought fake IDs - they couldn't have made his ID say he was 18?

That's not the biggest problem, though. No, the biggest problem is how talky every single one of the terminators are. With Summer Glau's terminator (ear-gougingly named "Cameron") it almost makes sense, as I'm sure she was set to read/write mode in the future.

Turns Out I Was Wrong

About Wire in the Blood. The episode I was watching actually was the season ender. The entire Michael thing is wrapped up in the last ten minutes of the episode, in yet another act of stupidity on the part of Tony and the cops.

As Kevin's driving Tony home from a funeral, suddenly the low fuel light comes on. Despite Kevin's protestations that he filled the tank up the day before, neither of them finds the whole thing suspicious, allowing Michael to abduct Tony at the gas station.

I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 35

Day 35: Indiana Jones and the Unmotivated Natives

When we last left Dr. Jones and his motorcylce-loving sidekick Shia Leboeuf, they had just arrived at a ancient Conquistador burial ground they'd found through the magic of bad writing. It's Dr. Jones' theory that his old friend Harold "Ox" Oxley, as assayed by John Hurt, found the mysterious crystal skull here and then, based on the symbol return etched into his cell wall, brought it back when he was done with it.


What's Going On, Tony Hill?

I watch Wire in the Blood for one reason, and one reason only. The main character, Doctor Tony Hill (Robson Green) is the most interesting profiler in fiction since Cracker, and his theories about crimes are always thoroughly entertaining. The most notable thing about his character is that he, unlike every other profiler in the history of fiction, has absolutely no major mental problems or tragic backstory motivating him. No, Tony Hill solves crimes because he believes that his skills can be used to assist in catching murderers. Is any more reason necessary?


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 34

Day 34: Indiana Jones and the Uninformative Map

I believe that audiences, mindful of the restrictions put on filmmakers' time and resources, as well as the fact that a summer blockbuster can only be somewhere in the neighborhood of two and a quarter hours long at most, will accept a little bit of dramatic shorthand. This is especially true when characters travel from one place to another. We don't really ask, so long as restrictions placed on their travel are not a vital part of the plot, just how they manage to get from one place to the next in a certain amount of time. This is why in Raiders of the lost Ark when Indiana Jones announces that they have to go to Cairo and in the next scene they've gone from Nepal to Egypt, we don't bother questioning it even though we didn't see scenes of them purchasing tickets, flying to Cairo, or dodging Nazis at the airport.

A little more questionable is a similar scene from Indiana Jones and the last Crusade, in which Indiana Jones and his father Sean Connery take an emergency biplane out of a zeppelin and land somewhere between Germany and Turkey. The next time we see them they're deep within the Middle East, overlooking the German convoy that had at least a two-day head start on them. How'd they get there? Excellent question.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 33

Day 33: Indiana Jones and the Redundant Revelation

Today's entry is a bit of a stunner. I say this because while many of these entries have focused on the film's ineptitude in a variety of disciplines, today's entry is the first one that suggests the filmmakers had a fundamental lack of familiarity with the nature of storytelling, and how to structure an interesting tale.

I'm speaking of the film's decision to not just telegraph but outright reveal one of its bigger surprises at two separate points in the movie before it's really relevant. That surprise? That the crystal skull in question, the Central MacGuffin around which the film is built is not merely some piece of South American art, but rather the actual skull of an actual alien.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 32

Day 32: Indiana Jones and the Not-So-Hidden Valley

I've spent a few days now chronicling Harrison Ford's trip to the Valley of the Crystal Skull, but I haven't mentioned the single most ridiculous thing about it: just how amazingly easy the valley should have been to find. Really, it's barely hidden at all.

The film makes a great deal of hay about how incredibly hidden the mysterious temple of the skull is, and how people have been searching for it for hundreds of years with only the slightest amount of success. That, however, was before the advent of aeroplanes. It seems that the valley, while surrounded on all sides by thick jungles and raging rivers, is completely visible from the air. There's no overhanging canopy, or optical illusions created by waterfalls, or even thick foliage within the valley that might obscure it from the sky. No, all the valley contains is a square mile of surprisingly well-groomed grass, and a gigantic pyramid.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 31

Day 31: Indiana Jones and the Russian Stand-Off

The Mexican standoff is a relatively common device in film. It's a situation where two characters or groups are on completely equal footing and are therefore unable to act, because they're afraid that they won't have a good chance of a positive result. The most common occurrence of the situation involves people pointing guns at one either at close range. Either one could pull the trigger, but since they can't be guaranteed that their opponent won't get off a shot before dying, they know that they only have a 50-50 chance of coming out of the situation alive. Not great odds to risk a life on.

The most common way of resolving the situation -- so common in fact it has become something of a cliché -- is having a third character appear behind a character in the standoff putting a gun to one of the characters' backs, changing the odds drastically. What's interesting here is that the odds have not changed completely. Since the character with a gun to their back is still completely able to shoot the person they're aiming at, they're just at a much greater disadvantage. Now the person with the gun to their back has a 100 percent chance of dying, which forces them to choose between surrendering, and mutually assured destruction.


Welcome Back, CSI-

So I've spent all summer waiting to find out just who shot Horatio Caine, and just where he was shot (i.e. whether it was fatal or not). Whoever it was, the season ender wrapped up with a fairly broad hint that the Unpleasantly Smug member of the CSI crew was somehow involved in the killing. Personally, I'm hoping it was Kim Coates, since I'm a fan of that actor, and it's good to see him getting work.

The biggest question, though, is whether there's going to be an ironic quip and 'throw-to-the-credits', since Horatio's not around to do it. Will they avoid the ironic quip entirely? Will everyone take off their sunglasses at once, and observe a moment of silent respect for he whose sunglasses shall be taken off no more? Only time will tell, if by time you mean one minute, because that's when the new episode starts.

I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 30

Day 30: Indiana Jones and the Pointless Betrayal

You may have noticed during my recount of the film's dire jungle chase sequence that I rarely describe the actions of Ray Winstone, Indy's treacherous sidekick, who was along for the ride. Then again, you may not have noticed, given what an entirely superfluous and irrelevant character his is. Well, I'll fix that oversight and fill you in now, because it's time to cover yet another one of Ray's totally irrelevant attempts to betray Indy.

During the chase Harrison Ford leaps into the same Ray is in and takes the opportunity to beat him senseless, what with the betrayal and everything. Between punches Mac manages to convince Indy that he isn't actually working for the Russians but is rather a double agent working for the CIA. Of course, Harrison Ford would have to be an idiot to believe this, so it should come as no surprise to anyone, given how the character's been portrayed for the rest of the film, that he accepts Mac's story right away. Indy allows Ray to tag along with them as they drive off a cliff and then ride their tiny metal boat down three successive waterfalls, the last leg of the trip before reaching the valley of the Crystal skull.


The Jury's Still Out on Fringe

So "Fringe" is the new forensic procedural show on television, but instead of being about pathology, evidence gathering, bone analysis, or glowering*, it's about Mad Science. As a fan of Mad Science, obviously I tuned in.

On the good side, it's considerably longer than most television shows - with commercials eating into program time more and more each year, there's few shows that cross the 45-minute mark these days. A few episodes of Smallville last year clocked in under 40. So it's nice to see Fringe doing a 80 minute pilot, and the second episode was 49 and change. It really feels like I'm getting a lot of content for my viewing investment.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 29

Day 29: Indiana Jones and the (Far-Too) Lucky Escape (Part 2)

And now for the final entry in my series of articles about Indiana Jones and the Endless Jungle Chase. Today I'm going to cover the last section of the chase, Harrisn Ford & Co.'s miraculous escape from the Communists who, when we last left them, had cornered our heroes at the edge of a cliff.

Well, that's not entirely accurate. If you'll recall yesterday's article, although by all rights the Commies should have had Harrison Ford and Family trapped, instead they made the questionable decision to put away their guns and start climbing down the cliff before Indiana Jones had gotten anywhere near it. As a result, when Karen Allen drives up in her amphibious jeep and encourages Harrison Ford to hop in so they can make a quick getaway, eight assault rifles don't open up at all at once and cut them all to tiny pieces.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 28

Day 28: Indiana Jones and the Non-Sense of Location

Ah, it seems we're drawing close to the end of my series of articles about Indiana Jones and the Interminable Jungle Chase. If you're wondering just how long and tedious that chase scene actually was, imagine this: If one were to read all of my articles about the chase scene aloud, it would take two minutes less than actually watching that selfsame sequence.

Today my plan is to discuss a place where the film's direction and editing completely parts ways with every rule of decent filmmaking there is, creating an action scene that makes no sense while seeming to take place nowhere.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 27

Day 27: Indiana Jones and the King of the Monkeys

In yesterday's post I mentioned in passing another incredibly stupid aspect of the jungle chase. When Shia Laboeuf elects to, ridiculously, go vine swinging through the jungle after the jeeps, a platoon of monkeys go right along with him. They race through the vines and leap out onto the cliffside, even going so far as to beat a Commie up, causing his jeep to go flying off the edge of the cliff.

Like Laboeuf's Tarzan-esque swinging ability that lies at the heart of this sequence, the monkeys themselves are such a ridiculous and unnecessary addition that I can't understand how it ever seemed like a good idea to include them.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 26

Day 26: Indiana Jones and the Unforeshadowable Ability

Last time out, I covered the film's a laughable attempts to foreshadow Shia Laboeuf's swordfighting abilities. While I've established that it can be difficult to foreshadow things without telegraphing them awkwardly. At the same time, it's important to note that every now and then foreshadowing is completely impossible. This is a problem that laughs in the face of even the greatest writer.

Just as the Jeep chase begins to wind down (about five minutes after it wore out its welcome with the audience) Shia Laboeuf finds himself snatched from his place atop the Jeep by a low hanging vine, then pulled into the jungle canopy above. There he finds an army of monkeys that stare curiously at him, then swing off into the jungle. Wasting no time such basic things as shock or confusion, Laboeuf follows their example and goes swinging through a series of vines in pursuit of the jeep convoy.


Back from vacation!

That's right, my long vacation is over, and I've returned with the television season, to continue chronicling my disapproval of Indiana Jones, CSI Miami, and a few other regular shows, as well as anything else that catches my fancy. Or really, anti-fancy, since it's going to be mostly complaints.

First up, though, to mention a film I saw during hiatus, and the amazing theme I've discovered in Gwyneth Paltrow's films. The movie was something called 'The Good Night', which, by and large, was a completely by-the-numbers mid-life crisis thing, where a guy realizes that his life hasn't turned out the way he hoped it would, so he gets into something weird to recapture some happiness. In this case, the guy was Martin Freeman, who, despite being the star of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is still best known for playing Tim on The Office. The weird thing he gets into is lucid dreaming, wherein the participant controls their own dreams while asleep, allowing them to live out fantasies.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 25

Day 25: Indiana Jones and the Awkwardly Foreshadowed Ability

Foreshadowing is always tricky business. The fact is, especially in an action-adventure film, characters are going to have to perform some amazing feats, and if these abilities materialize suddenly without any explanation, you risk losing believability with the audience.

So it's important to establish that characters can perform certain actions so it won't seem awkward later on, but it's equally important to make sure that foreshadowing is as seamless as possible. At its best, foreshadowing is demonstrated through actions, with characters performing a task on a small scale at the beginning of the story, then on a large, impressive scale right at the end. If that's not possible, the next best kind of foreshadowing is to fit it seamlessly into dialogue. Find a way to have characters discussing a related topic drop character information into the conversation. It's a little worse than the first way, but if done correctly, it can be worked into the film without being too noticeable.


How to Ruin Your Own Movie: The X-Files: I Want to Believe Edition

Yes, I'm a fan of the X-Files. Right from the start I never missed an episode, even as I winced each time they offered their cute twist on some popular horror or sci-fi film. I laughed along with everyone else whenever Darren Morgan wrote an episode, I covered my eyes along with everyone else during the one about the inbred hillbillies who loved bludgeoning people to death, and, like everyone else, I felt pity for Stephen King when he turned in perhaps the worst script of his career, "Chinga". And that's in a career marked prominently by the utter awfulness of his original screen- and teleplays.

That being said, I was never a big fan of the show's 'mythology'. By the time the movie came around it was pretty clear they had no idea where they were going and that everything was being made up as they went along, and I noticed just how much, on average, the 'monster of the week' episodes were superior to the ongoing alien mystery episodes.

So when I heard the X-Files movie was going to be an entertaining one-off thriller, I was excited.


Here's an article from industry news section of the IMDB:

29 July 2008 10:16 AM, PDT

The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan has told reporters in Tokyo that he has no idea why his Batman movie is breaking box-office records. "I would not be able to point to exactly what it is," he said. "If I knew that all my films would have been successful." Final weekend figures confirmed Monday that the movie has broken yet another record -- best second-week performance of any film. The movie earned $75.2 million, which brought its 10-day total to more than $300 million, according to box-office trackers Media by Numbers. (The results somewhat diminished the achievement of Sony's Hancock, starring Will Smith, which crossed the $200-million mark after four weeks.) The film is now taking aim at Titanic's record of $600.8 million in ticket sales -- by far the top money maker of all time.

I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 24

Day 24: Indiana Jones and the Extremely Personal Injury

So Shia LaBoeuf is standing on the back of a jeep, swordfighting with Cate Blanchett, who’s standing on the back of another jeep that’s driving unusually close by. During this swordfight, something unusual happens. Shia’s balance slips and he winds up with a foot on either jeep.

And then things get profoundly stupid. This is partly because, since the Jeeps aren’t on tracks, like, for example, mine carts, and they can freely swerve back and forth across the surprisingly well-cleared jungle. This raises the immediate question of why he ends up stuck between the jeeps at all. The second he wound up even a little stuck, wouldn’t the good jeep swerve towards the bad one, to let him get back on it? Or the bad jeep swerve away, to cause him to fall to the jungle floor? But they do neither. No, they just drive in straight lines, both because it’s easier to work the greenscreened background if the prop jeeps don’t move much, and because they wanted to get to the profoundly stupid thing that happened next.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 23

Day 23: Indiana Jones and the Poorly-Composited Image

Ah, the green screen, filmmaking's ultimate cheat.

In the early days of special effects, all they had was rear-projection. Put the actors in front of a screen and have a projector showing footage of a fantastical location behind them. It never looked especially good, and was generally just used to show the background in scenes where characters are in a moving vehicle, as it was cheaper than driving around for hours outdoors with a camera strapped to the car, praying that it didn't start raining.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 22

Day 22: Indiana Jones and the Contrabulous Fabtraption

I've talked about suspension of disbelief before, and just what we, the audience, are prepared to accept from our films. It's all about tone and premise. In a film about a fantasy world like Lord of the Rings, we accept wizards because they fit the premise. In a steampunk film like Wild Wild West, we accept the presence of giant robot spiders. Well, I do, since apparently no one else actually saw the film Wild Wild West.

No, this isn't about aliens, and whether or not they belong in an Indiana Jones film, that's going to be saved for another day. Yes, aliens show up in this movie, but that doesn't mean anything goes. In fact, having aliens appear is only shocking if the rest of the film is set in the 'real' world.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 21

Day 21: Indiana Jones and the Paved Jungle

I think it's fair to say that the Truck Chase from Raiders of the Lost Ark ranks fairly high among the all-time great film action sequences. It's so wonderful that, among Last Crusade's other Requel-y tendencies, attempts to copy it shamelessly, replacing the truck from Raiders with a Tank in an attempt to 'up the ante'. The attempt failed, but it was still a thrilling sequence.

So when Indiana Jones and family found themselves tied up in the back of another covered Army truck, I was interested to see what kind of spin they were going to put on the sequence this time around.


While I'm on the subject of Batman-

After my initial negative feelings towards the film yesterday, today I kept wondering if I was being too hard on it, and having second thoughts about my 'review' of Heath Ledger's performance.

Then I had a sudden realization - what I was doing was what all those die-hard Star Wars fans had done right after Revenge of the Sith - I was talking myself into liking the film more than I did. I was rewriting my memories so that the Joker had been incredible, rather than awful. Ledger was quickly fading away (not a surprise, given how much he underplayed it), and being replaced with an imagined version of a better performance by another actor. Adrien Brody or Guy Pearce or perhaps even Johnny Depp. Someone who could have brought the Joker's madness to life the way it deserved to be, rather than the mumbly mess we got. Seriously, I can now close my eyes and picture a great scene between the Joker and Kieth Szarbajaka (I hope that's how it's spelled), rather than a bad one - and it's entirely the bad 'homeless child molester' Joker portrayal that ruined the moment.

Oh, and one other Batman-related thing

After watching Batman vs. Dracula, the animated film, I came up with a simple math equation that allows people to determine whether or not they had made a good Batman film. It's not a universal rule, obviously, and you could misuse it, but I think there's some truth to it, and it should have been applied to The Dark Knight.


(# batarangs in the film)x(# of explosions in the film)x(# of recognizable bat-villains in the film)x(# of references to the film Jerry Maguire). If the resulting number is anything but 0, you haven't made a good Batman movie.

I haven't crunched the numbers yet, but The Dark Knight's number, sadly, is not 0.

I Love Batman (The Joker, not so much)

I know I generally talk about Indiana Jones, and I'll get back to that soon, but I wanted to pause and react to The Dark Knight, which I've just returned from seeing.

My review: Loved it, with one major reservation.

That reservation? I can't believe how terrible Heath Ledger's Joker was. Just absolutely so wrong for the movie that every time he showed up on screen it took me right out of the experience.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 20

Day 20: Indiana Jones and the Underestimated Audience

The filmmakers responsible for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull have contempt for their audience.

I know that's kind of been the overall theme of these posts, since no one could offer such a shoddy half-baked product to an audience without feeling some measure of contempt for them. There's vastly different levels of that contempt though, from the minor disinterest in getting period details correct, to total regard for maintaining any sort of realism in re: Atomic Fridges. I understand why they put so little work into the film, though. After all, how could the filmmakers possible show any respect for their audience when they so clearly believe them to be morons?

I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 19

Day 19: Indiana Jones and the Superfluous Sidekick (Part 2)

I'm a fan of John Hurt. Obviously as a lover of sci-fi, the actor who played Kane will always hold a special place in my heart. Beyond that single, iconic performance, however, is an entire lifetime of wonderful roles. He was the Elephant Man, The Storyteller, Giles De'Ath, he had memorable cameos in two of the best Westerns of the past fifteen years, Dead Man and The Proposition, and who could forget his career-defining performance as Kane in Spaceballs?

This film is beneath him.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 18

Day 18: Indiana Jones and the Incredibly Cheap Prop

There's a common failure, when creating props, to consider the realistic properties of the things being recreated in prop form. People carry rubber guns that weigh a fraction of what a real gun does, they can't even be bothered to fill a fake coffee cup with water to keep actors from waving their arms around unrealistically. It's yet another example of filmmakers just not paying enough attention to the movies that they're making, and it goes a long way to destroying the illusion of reality that a film attempts to create.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 17

Day 17: Indiana Jones and the Maybe Magnetic Skull

As if Cate's spotty psychic powers weren't bad enough, there's another intermittently present supernatural power in the film, the Crystal Skull's SuperMagnetism.

The audience is first introduced to the Crystal Skull's amazing power right at the beginning of the film when, faced with the prospect of searching through the entire gigantic warehouse for the alien corpse from the Roswell crash, Indy remembers that the 'item' is incredibly magnetic. So magnetic, in fact, that he's able to toss gunpowder into the air, where the trace metals pull it in the direction of the corpse. When he gets close enough, Indy switches to ball bearings, which he throws into a row of crates, assured that the magnetic corpse will pull them in, revealing in which crate the body is contained.

I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 16

Day 16: Indiana Jones and the Possible Psychic

The anonymous poster from yesterday brought up an interesting point about the film's various failures in re: The Villain. It's not just the introduction they botched, it's the entire character. Specifically, the special ability her entire character is based around. For the entire film, I kept wondering 'Wait, is she supposed to be actually psychic, or isn't she?' After the initial failure, I assumed that her supposed 'abilities' were going to be played for laughs, as she went on to not read other people's minds at key moments.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 15

Day 15: Indiana Jones and the Botched Villain Introduction

A villain's introduction is incredibly important. By definition it's the first time the audience meets them, and the impression created will stay with the audience for the rest of the film, and, if it's good enough, far beyond. Who can forget the first time they saw Darth Vader? The clean white hallways suddenly poisoned by the addition of Vader, darkening the world around him as he strides through it.

By the way, and this is wholly unrelated, watch the first Star Wars movie again - Darth is clearly a name, not a title. No matter how hard he tries, George Lucas can't write his way around that one.


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 14

Day 14: Indiana Jones and the Happy Days

One of the things I've always loved about the Indiana Jones films is that they never get too wrapped up in their setting. Other than the presence of Nazis as the villains, there's nothing in the film Raiders of the Lost Ark that establishes it as being set in any particular time. The cars are old, and the planes are old, but there's no other nods to the fact that the films are taking place in the past. Although the way the characters speak may actually be anachronistic, it doesn't have the appearance of an error. Everyone speaks in such a clear, unaffected manner that the audience accepts it as universal communication. These are the kinds of things that people have always said to one another, and the removal of both current and historic colloquialisms give the impression of 'translated' dialogue. Perhaps this isn't the exact way those characters would have talked had they existed at that time, but we assume that their speech has been translated for our benefit, the way people don't speak Ancient Welsh in movies about King Arthur.