Posts Tagged ‘Paul’

Movie Time: Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant

October 27, 2009

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Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant
Directed by Paul Weitz
Starring John C. Reilly, Josh Hutcherson, Chris Massoglia

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Darren and Steve are best friends. They are also opposites in almost every way. Darren is the good kid, works hard in school, makes good grades, etc. Steve is the teenage punk from a troubled home that is apt to get into trouble. After finding a flyer for a traveling circus of freaks, the two decide to attend… and both of their lives are transformed.

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During the show, Steve recognizes the magician to be a vampire from one of the many books he has on the subject. Darren, on the other hand, is far more interested in the unique spider that works with the magician/vampire.

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When the show is broken up by local citizens and police, Darren and Steve are separated. Darren finds himself outside the dressing room of the magician/vampire, and decides he wants to see the spider again. Inside he finds the spider, but hears someone coming down the hall and grabs the spider and sneaks into the closet.

The magician/vampire and a friend step into the room and shortly thereafter… and so does Steve. Steve confronts the magician/vampire, and tells him he wants to be made a vampire, that he has nothing else to live for. The vampire sends him away.

When he gets the chance, Darren makes a run for it, and goes home, with the spider.

The next day, Darren takes the spider with him to school and meets up with Steve. The spider, accidentally freed from its cage, bites Steve, leaving him near death.

Darren makes his way back to the theater where they saw the show, hoping that the vampire can help Steve. The vampire makes a deal to help Steve, in exchange for Darren becoming his assistant… and a half-vampire.

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Thus begins Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant. This movie is an obvious foundation for other films planned for a series based on the Cirque Du Freak books, which is both good and bad. Good, in that it is trying to establish a world and we are introduced to a lot of characters so that we get a feel for that world. Bad, in that many of those characters are given little time to truly establish themselves.

But, if the film does spawn the sequels, that will be forgiven, perhaps even lauded as we don’t have to deal with the problems of introducing so many characters with each subsequent installment.

The real basis of the story, though, is the rivalry between two sets of bloodsuckers – the Vampires and the Vampanese. Vampires, in this setting, are the “good” guys – they still drink blood, but they only sedate their victims, they don’t kill them. The Vampanese, on the other hand, are violent and bloodthirsty, and power hungry. There has been a long tentative peace treaty between the two groups, but it is now threatened.

I’ll admit that I knew nothing about this film going in. I had seen one commercial for it, and decided to see it just because of the planned theme for this week. And, though the film had a lot of faults, I was pleasantly surprised overall.

This isn’t really a vampire film, though. There are “sorta” vampires in it, but it is almost… vampires sifted through Tim Burton’s brain and then highlighted with Harry Potter-ness… if that makes any sense. The film is more of a quirky fantasy than anything in the realm of horror. Because of that, a lot of people will be immediately turned off of the film. Me? I’m rather proud of myself. When I realized what this film was going for, I thought, “Oh, okay. Well, I’m not exactly the target audience, but let’s see what happens.”

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And, sure enough, I’m not the audience for this film. I can’t imagine rushing out to get the DVD for it when it comes out, or even going out of my way to see it again… but I did find it enjoyable.

Yeah, I could talk about the shortcomings of the film all day. I could tell you that Chris Massoglia, who plays Darren, is essentially a clone of Ashton Kutcher and that his performance seemed disengaged. I could complain that the other freaks of the Cirque didn’t get anywhere near enough screen time, and that the large number of name actors were generally wasted in the film.

But, you know what? That is a bunch of nitpicky kinda stuff that, while accurate, didn’t really stop me from enjoying this movie. The effects for the movie were pretty cool, even if some were a little too obviously computer animated. The makeup on this film was stellar, though, top notch stuff that really made this world come alive.

And, though they had limited screen time, the cast of freaks were really good. Jane Krakowski as Corma Limbs was bizarrely perky.

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Orlando Jones as Alexander Ribs was… well, Orlando Jones. (Orlando Jones seems to be himself in most things.) Ken Watanabe had an amazing presence as Mr. Tall, and Patrick Fugit was so fantastic as the Snake Boy that I’d like to see an entire movie based on that character.

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And, there is Salma Hayak… being all Salma Hayak and hot and all.

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The most amazing performance for me, though, had to be John C. Reilly as Crespley, the vampire. The role is so completely against type for him, but he manages to completely own it.

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His turn as the weary, cynical vampire is enough for me to recommend this movie to anyone I know. He delivers some of the best lines in the film that range from dark, wry humor, to an almost sad melancholy, and delivers them well.

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Honestly, other than when he appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and tore into Kevin Costner about when they both were doing For Love of the Game, this is my favorite thing John C. Reilly has ever done!

(And, by the way, if anyone knows where to find a clip of that, I’d be forever grateful to have it!)

For me, this movie was an unexpected treat. It won’t appeal to everyone, as it is definitely aimed toward mid-teens, but it wasn’t bad. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that I wouldn’t mind seeing this film get some sequels, if only to expand on this world and to see the actors in supporting roles get a chance to shine.

I’m giving Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant three out of five Running Steves.

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If nothing, this film has made me want to seek out the series of books on which it was based.

Preview Review – Cable #16

September 25, 2009

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That’s right kiddies! It is BACK!

Welcome to the Preview Review, wherein I find the unlettered preview pages offered online for a comic (that I really have no intention of buying), and write a review of the issue based entirely on my perceptions of what is going on.

And, what do I have in store for today? Why, nothing less than the majestic wonder that is Cable #16!

(Ooh… ahh…)

Yes, my friends, gather ’round, and let’s take a look at this masterpiece provided to us by writer Duane Swierczynski and artist Paul Gulacy. First up, the cover by Dave Wilkins!

Cable #16

Let’s see… looks like we have a little kid, most likely a girl is my guess… mostly because she seems to have that look of the “big eyed girls” that was prominent in outsider art of the 1960’s.

That’s right, scoffers! I have an art degree and I’m not afraid to use it! Sure, I could have gone for the lazy reference to anime/manga for the size of the eyes, but no! I went all historical! Ha!

Where was I? Oh, yeah, the cover. Anyway, the little girl is standing there, wearing a pair of boots that, based on the size, must come from Guy Gardner’s closet of the late 80’s/early 90’s!

Really? I’m the only one that gets the reference? Fine, here, take a look:

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See?

Anyway, the little girl appears to be standing in front of Cable, drawn from Picasso’s Blue Period.

Ka-Zow! I did it again! Another zinger courtesy of my art degree! Ha ha ha! It makes it all worth it – the years of study, the student loans I’m still paying back, the virtual uselessness of the degree in an actual workforce…

(On a blog, no one can see you cry…)

Alright, so, the kid is in front of Cable (I know its Cable, because, a.) the massive gun, b.) the large number of pouches, and c.) I lived through the 1990’s.). Cable is… I’m going to say that Cable is encased in a giant block of ice.

And, given how he’s standing, the cold front must have moved in fast. Maybe one of those “superstorms” we saw Jake Gyllenhaal running from in The Day After Tomorrow. Which means that Cable, despite being a superhero, can’t outrun Jake Gyllenhaal.

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(Wow… he’s got some crazy eyes, huh?)

I’m not sure what purpose that knowledge will ever serve, but now you know, and knowing is half the battle. GI JOE!

Given the cover, I can only assume that this comic deals with the kid trying to free Cable from the block of ice… a plot that makes me flashback to the film atrocity known as Batman and Robin, and thus makes going any farther a less than inviting thought.

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And, yet, I must! On to the first page!

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First panel! Ah… well. Hmm. It seems that the guy with the metal arm… Colossus? No, he has black hair. Oh, wait, white hair! That must be Cable! I see pouches and a gun!

Okay, so Cable is… assaulting a little person in the ruins of a building? That doesn’t seem right. What happened to the little girl from the cover?

What? No, that can’t be the little girl from the cover. That is *clearly* a woman’s head on that wee body, not a little girl. Although, she does appear to be wearing the same outfit at the girl from the cover.

So… confused… already… move… to… next… panel…

Alright, see, I told you! That is NOT a little girl. Maybe it is the little girl’s mother, and they have matching outfits. Oh, and she is ticked because Cable is getting fresh.

But, man, take a look at that head of hair on Cable. That is some nice, thick, well-maintained hair. Even in the midst of a building in ruins and fighting with a little person, Cable remembers the importance of looking good for the odd camera angle.

Next Panel!

Look! Cable and the little person are posing for a boxing match promotional poster! And starting to glow blue? Hmm…

After the poster shoot, it looks like the little person has fought off the advances of Cable with a mighty kick that looks to have crushed his sternum. And, again with the blue glow… why does that look so familiar?

Last panel of the page an — wait a second! I understand it now! I know where I’ve seen that blue glow! Quantum Leap! The little person appears to be leaping! Leaping from life to life! Striving to put right what once went wrong! And hoping each time that the next leap… will be the leap home!

Wow, I didn’t know that this was happening in Cable comics! I LOVED the tv show Quantum Leap! If I had known that it was picked up in the Cable comic, I’d have been there from the start!

Woo hoo! I’m suddenly much more interested in this comic! I wonder where the little person will leap next? Maybe into a police officer in the early 80’s, or a high school freshman of the 1970’s, or maybe a grandmother in the 1990’s…

Let’s turn the page and find out!
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Ha ha! Too bad, Cable! The little person Leaper is getting away! No more of a chance for you to try to work your charms on her!

And the next four progressive panels, we see the continued leap. Strange, I never really noticed Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap having such a look of distress on his face when leaping. Still, by that third panel, I can almost hear the Quantum Leap theme song, “Do do, doodoo, do do, doodoo…”

And the leap seems to be almost over, wonder where we will end up! Next!

Hey… wait a second. Why are we back with Cable?!? We were going to leap, following the adventures of the little person bouncing around in time! She got to leap away, and we get stuck with what? A Cable comic? C’mon… how is THAT fair?

Those last two panels on this page are fitting. Yeah, Cable, we are with you. We thought we were going to get a great Quantum Leap story, too… but now… just the sad, pathetic knowledge that the leaping little person is gone, and we are stuck here… alone… with you.

Turn the page. It has to get better, right?

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Huzzah wha-? Did I miss where the ground went out from beneath Cable? No, I didn’t. Okay, then we are climbing to… the next panel…

Ah, here we go. Cable was climbing to get to the rooftop of some building… because as a moody character, he’s required to look over the vast decay of the environment and brood? Sure, why not?

You know… that’s a lot of debris on that rooftop. Its like someone actually had to carry it up to the rooftop. I don’t know why they would do that, but that’s what it looks like. And, right there, in the center… is that a tire rim? Why in the world would someone carry a rim up there?

On to the next pan – Augh! Oh, wow… I was not expecting a close-up of Cable’s giant, sweating dinosaur head. Gee willickers, a little warning next time. Let’s just move on… that milky-white eye is creeping me out.

Now it appears as if there is a dust storm on the rooftop. And the silhouette of two large bones. Maybe there is more in the last panel…

Hmm… seems the bones weren’t bones, but hydraulics. Wait, I get it! Rims, hydraulics… this rooftop was the domain of nomadic Lowriders!

You know, coincidentally, all my friends love a lowrider.  They really, really do.

Okay, let’s turn the page.

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Alright, now, here we have Cable saluting in front of a wall of junk. He probably thinks it is fitting, since a lot of that junk looks like it could have once been some of the massive guns he carries. Ooh, and his hand is glowing! Maybe he’ll finally get to leap and find that little person!

Oh, and look! A little inset of sand castles. Lovely. Not really sure why it is there, but lovely nonetheless.

Just under that, Cable poses, showing off his gun, pouches, and firm buttocks. His hand is still starting the Quantum Leap. Must be a delayed reaction.

Sliding over to the next panel, another close-up of Cable and his milky-white eye. Sheesh, that’s creepy. But, it seems he’s finally noticed the leap is starting! Almost time to travel through time!

At the bottom of the page, we have… Cable rending his clothes? Huh? Hold on, I know what is going on. The blue glow of the leap is spreading, and Cable thinks he has to strip naked to travel in time like in those Terminator films. Someone should explain to him that Leaping doesn’t really work like that.

Alright, how about that last page? I can’t wait to see Cable assume the identity of a diner waitress at a truckstop in 1978!

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Oh, guess I was wrong. Seems that Cable leapt into a black guy in… well, it looks about the same sort of place that Cable was already in. Oh, and what irony! This guy also has a metal arm, but it is on the opposite side that Cable’s normally is.

And, a little inset of debris. Wonder why they focused on tha —

Holy smokes, Cable’s using the debris to tear into that metal arm! Cable! Stop! I know, this wasn’t the most excited leap in time, but trying to force another leap just isn’t the answer!

In the next inset panel, Cable, frustrated, seems to be ripping the metal arm off. That seems extreme.

And, finally, we are presented Cable, in profile, grimly accepting that leaping can’t be forced. There are things that have to be put right before you can leap… a lesson we all learned in the Quantum Leap episode entitled “Double Identity.”

And, if I’m lyin’, I’m dyin’.

(To the other three people on the planet that get that reference, thank you.)

Well, that was quite a little adventure. Sadly, there was NOTHING in this about Cable being encased in ice, which was disappointing. Plus, there at the end, they completely messed up the Quantum Leap stuff, because in that show, Sam only *appeared* to be the person he leapt into. He was actually still himself. So, Cable tearing into that arm with the debris? Yeah, that would have been him tearing into his actual flesh arm. And, that is kinda sick. I can only give this 218 stars out of 18,716 stars. I really think I’d have gone higher if we’d followed the leap of the little person that was escaping Cable.

That’ll do it for now. See you all at the next Preview Review.

*EG, enveloped by a blue light, leaps away!*