May 31, 2006

Media Links Roundup: Rotten Edition

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at May 31, 2006 1:56 PM

I skipped the open thread this week, but you can consider this a general media thread. Some links, none of which are complimentary of the subject material:

  • Stupid list #1: Bravo's list of 100 Funniest Movies, with commentary by Ed Brayton. I actually disagree with about 75% of Brayton's particular remarks, but we agree on the essential lameness of this list.
  • Stupid list #2: National Review's list of 50 Conservative Rock Songs, with commentary by Amanda Marcotte (who is normally at Pandagon, but is guest blogging at Michael Bérubé's blog).
  • A.O. Scott reviews The Da Vinci Code in the NY Times, stopping along the way to admire the awfulness of Dan Brown's writing, and wisely noting that "movies of that ilk rarely deal with issues like the divinity of Jesus or the search for the Holy Grail. In the cinema such matters are best left to Monty Python." (Hat tip to JSpur.)
  • Possibly funnier, certainly snobbier: Anthony Lane's review in The New Yorker.
  • More on Dan Brown's awful writing, at By Neddie Jingo.
  • Language Log raised many of the same issues a while back, but in a more pedantic way.
  • PZ Myers reviews X3, narrowly avoids head explosion.

I haven't seen The Da Vinci Code or X3; I may end up seeing the latter.

Tags: Books, Culture, Lists, Movies, Music
Comments

"Things blowed up good though", yeah, that says it right there. I enjoyed X3, but the linked article is pretty accurate.

One worthwhile point of note is that an internet meme has garnered itself a tributary line in the movie. Just google-video for "juggernaut", and watch the 9:08 clip entitled "juggernaut bitch". I saw it years ago, but only caught the first minute or so. (You may or may not be able to sit through all nine minutes, but it is worth a good chuckle.) Do that before seeing the movie, and you'll be laughing your ass of near the end.

Posted by: Lemming | May 31, 2006 3:30 PM

Hilarious Da Vinci Code reviews. I'd heard Brown's writing was awful but hadn't realized exactly how awful before reading that Neddie Jingo blog entry...

Posted by: Jolene | May 31, 2006 4:42 PM

I am now downloading all of X-Men: The Animated Series. I'm the Juggernaut, bitch!

Posted by: Josh | May 31, 2006 5:10 PM

This could have gone in my original post, but I hadn't seen it yet: The Guardian's review of the latest Primal Scream album is the most sarcastic four-star review I've ever read.

Jolene: Yeah, I only read The Da Vinci Code but apparently his other books are equally bad in that regard. In fact, apparently his other books all open with the same lame sentence.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | May 31, 2006 6:02 PM

You should see X3. It's a very entertaining movie.

I'm curious to see the Da Vinci Code, although I can't say that I have high expectations or anything. With other, more interesting, things coming out and work on which I need to catch up after recent fiascos, it may well fall by the wayside.

Now I need to go google 'juggernaut'...

Posted by: Mason | May 31, 2006 11:07 PM

Ah...forgot to mention: I looked at the list of 100 'funniest' movies. Without spending too much time dissecting it, let me at least mention that the list does include some movies that I'd put there. Also, I'm a bit disturbed by how high Pee Wee's Big Adventure placed.

Posted by: Mason | May 31, 2006 11:09 PM

I have not read Da Vinci Code (having heard how poorly written it is) nor do I plan to see the movie, but I loved Anthony Lane's review. It seems to me, it was worth Dan Brown writing such a lousy book just so that Anthony Lane could write this delectable review.

Posted by: lidarose | June 1, 2006 5:36 PM

Poor writing or not all the dan brown books were enjoyable quick reads. Perfect airplane material

Posted by: shellock | June 2, 2006 7:27 AM

Just read PZ Myers' X3 review. Most everyone I ask has a different opinion of the movie, but one thing I can say for certain is that this guy takes things waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too seriously. I mean, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too seriously. If bad science offends him so much, maybe he really should stay away from the movies altogether. Certainly comic book movies that have roots back to the crazy 60's and 70's where anything could be an explanation for a superpower. Granted, a lot of the writing was corny and production was incredibly rushed by a hack director, in my opinion. But if a movie like this sends you into the writing equivalent of a purple-faced apopleptic fit, maybe one should consider breathing for about 10 seconds and just staying away from movies altogether.

Posted by: Josh | June 2, 2006 12:36 PM

Josh: Huh? He didn't really get worked up about the bad science; in fact, he said he almost did but then decided "It's all BS. You gotta go with the flow." What was annoying him was the bad writing and directing.

Anyway, having read Pharyngula for a while I don't think Myers is the type to take movies too seriously; rather, his blogging style is often fairly strident and passionate and this post was in that spirit.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | June 2, 2006 1:31 PM

AG: Read into the subtext. Despite the fact that he says in the end "you gotta go with the flow", he definitely comes off to me as a guy who's really pissy about this movie. Plus, the simple act of saying, "you gotta go with the flow", then following up with an emboldened D grade is just ridiculously self-indulgent. Simply the fact that he "boggled and was ready to shake [his] fist at the screen and embarrass [his] kids" is a giveaway that needs to settle down and perhaps take some lithium. Also, use of all-caps to emphasize a point is generally a giveaway of someone who's getting emotionally over-invested in griping. In your average 750 word review, there's plenty of room to take apart a lot that's wrong with X3, but instead he chooses to focus on basically three choice moments and talk about how they totally ruined the movie for him. I'm not saying he's wrong about any particular point. I just think he needs to check at the door his inner feelings of great injustice done to him by sitting through a movie before he writes his next review.

Although, FYI, I do think he's particularly wrong about the first half of the review, where he wastes quite a bit of time nitpicking apart one scene in the movie. But to his credit, he may not be a comic book fan. I gather since a large degree of the review is based on what would work in the real world rather than keeping true to X-Men (of which there is plenty to gripe about on that side as well), that he is not a comic reader.

And therein lies the challenge of all live-action comic books: trying to make something that couldn't possibly work in the real world palatable to people who aren't familiar with the medium while still keeping the same amount of camp that comic book fans know and love. It should be a given that there's wacky out-of-this-universe scientific theories floating around in this kind of movie.

He is, you know, watching a movie whose feature character is a guy who is over 100 years old, looks 30, and has special "adamantium" metal wrapped around his skeleton, which is unbreakable and yet obviously feather-light. Oh, and he also has retractable claws that are not only unbreakable and razor-sharp, but form-fitting and never slit his veins when he bends his wrist or flexes his forearms too hard. Maybe PZ Myers would like to spend his next review writing about how unbelievable that is, instead of talking about major problems the movie has with character development, and the rushed production of the movie showing overall in the final product. He mentions these two topics oh-so-briefly, but it's more fun to him to point out how he's smarter than Magneto, and if he were a villain in charge of a mutant terrorist cell he'd be way more efficient. Oh, and let's not forget that Myers can outwit the background stories to what makes people mutants. Let's face it, it's a rather masturbatory review, all in all, and I'd hate to think about the lecture his kids faced on the drive home when their only crime was enjoying some pointless action.

Posted by: Josh | June 2, 2006 2:28 PM

Come on, you've never had that conversation after a bad movie where you say what you'd have done differently as the villain? Never laughed at the Evil Overlord List? I thought the review was funny, but then, I haven't seen the movie so maybe I should STFU.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | June 2, 2006 3:29 PM

I liked the Pharyngula review, too. But then again I'm also a scientist who has never read a comic book, gets irritated by bad science in popular culture (and thus I rarely see movies), and finds gratuitous character stupidity a la the Evil Overlord list rather annoying (unless it's parody, as in Austin Powers movies for example). So I guess that figures. :-)

Haven't seen X3 (or Da Vinci), don't plan to see either.

Posted by: Justin | June 2, 2006 4:15 PM

Justin: Bad science in pop culture is one thing, but if you go to an X-Men movie and still get pissed off by the bad science in it, it's your own damn fault. I imagine that Myers just enjoys bitching about bad science even though, for all his learnedness, he should know full well what he's in for when he goes to see a comic book movie. Especially one about, say, mutants. If he didn't see it coming, or if he did see it coming and decided to get annoyed with all the bad science regardless, though he may be an academic he's still an idiot for it all. It's possible, though, that he went to the movie just for his kids, in which case he has no place reviewing it. I hated The Polar Express, but I'm not a kid so what does my opinion count?

AG: I've had that conversation before, but I generally don't get as pissy about it as Myers does. I don't get an "all in good fun" kind of feeling from this guy, I get a "I'm better than this movie and anyone who enjoyed it" kind of feeling. I don't want to get into severe nerd-dom by listing off the amount of reasons that the particular maneuver he picked apart was right up Magneto's alley when it comes to him being a bit of a drama queen, suffice to say in the end he was wrong and wasted half of what could have been a well-thought out review bitching about it.

I'd find the review funnier if it didn't keep trying so hard to go for cheap laughs, like he was trying to give it an X-Entertainment-esque review but without any style or knowledge of the source material. X-E, on the other hand, would do a brilliantly funny trashing of the movie. This guy's just out of his league when it comes to entertaining reviews for craptastic movies, and there's more banality and chip-on-his-shoulder about it than actual entertainment or thought-provoking critique.

Posted by: Josh | June 2, 2006 4:43 PM

I do agree wholeheartedly with his impression that the Phoenix storyline was too much like season 6 of Buffy. The way they played Phoenix was directly ripped off in costume, makeup, and manners, from Dark Willow, and there wasn't very much Dark Phoenix in the mix. I'll just explain that to Famke Janssen when I marry her one day.

Posted by: Josh | June 2, 2006 4:48 PM

I don't read comic books (I've never particularly enjoyed the medium), but I tend to like well-done movie versions of comic book stuff.

I had fun with X3, and I can handle interesting uses of physics. I didn't see the movie for its realism. The movie didn't take itself too seriously (at least IMO), so it's fine by me.

One has to have some idea of what to expect and I agree that if one is going to pick science apart in this kind of scenario, then maybe just spare yourself the pain and don't go.

I didn't read the review in question, so I'm only commenting on the commenting. :)

Posted by: Mason | June 2, 2006 9:02 PM

I'm the juggernaut, bitch!

Posted by: Lemming | June 2, 2006 11:34 PM

This week's lesson: Techers talk in references.

I am constantly amused by the reactions of (not-previously-exposed) non-Techers when in the presence of a critical mass of Techers for the first time. In small groups, I'd say 3 Techers is what does it. At the very least, 3 Techers out of 4 total people definitely works. (I'm thinking of the whole bit at the 2004 March Meeting---with Poisson-distributed fish on my plate, etc.)

Posted by: Mason | June 3, 2006 12:29 AM

Josh: Was there a mutant whose power was to make people sing and dance as if they were in a musical?

WOLVERINE: I've got a theory, that's it's a mutant,
A dancing mutant... no something isn't right there.

ROGUE: I've got a theory, Xavier's dreamin'
And we're all stuck inside his wacky Broadway nightmare.

CYCLOPS: I've got a theory we should work this out.

X-MEN: It's getting eerie, what's this cheery singing all about?

I had to break the rhyme scheme, what rhymes with "mutant" anyway?

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | June 3, 2006 2:09 PM

AG - You have too much free time on your hands. Luckily, you use your free time for sheer brilliance.

Rhyming with Mutant:
Loo Vent
Jew Tent
Clue Scent
Too Gent

I owe you a coke if you can fit "Jew Tent" into the lyrics.

Oh, and To answer your question.

Posted by: Josh | June 3, 2006 2:31 PM
Post a comment