Suicide Squad– 2016, David Ayer, USA


Here is a complete list of everything good in the 2016 super hero film Suicide Squad:

  1. Ike Barinholtz

That’s it!

Suicide Squad is a badly directed, cliche ridden piece of dreck that has so much going on, it’s never allowed to savor a single moment unless it’s also facilitating the hell out of some clumsy exposition. It’s an economy class super hero picture, there just isn’t enough time to get everything done that this film needs to do, so in true DC/Warner Bros style, it rushes its balls off, and because the powers-that-be are also inclined to pepper this rat turd with as much sugar as they can to try and compensate for its terrible blandness, they drench the fucker with liberal doses of pop music in an effort to trick you into thinking you’re having a good time- because who doesn’t like Bohemian Rhapsody? The end result is, in no uncertain terms, a montage. A badly made, two hour music montage, smeared with fan service, and Margot Robbie’s butt, and it fucking sucks. One really gets the impression that David Ayer might make a mean mix CD, but he really shouldn’t be directing motion pictures.

Or writing, them, while we’re on the topic- in addition to being in far too much of a hurry, this thing is badly plotted and embarrassingly derivative. The dialogue is just start to finish cringe worthy, rivaling B-movies of the 1950’s in how ham fisted and stilted it is. And even worse, because Suicide Squad is so uncomfortably compressed, basically every awkward line is 100% necessary to advance the plot. There’s no garnish, this is all load-bearing structure style dialogue, and if they cut one more line the damn pictures caves in and the plot become lost- and what a plot it is! This is pretty much just a rehashing of Escape From New York, The Dirty Dozen, and Ghostbusters, but with shitty third string DC characters nobody cares about. In summary; horrible movie, good soundtrack, fan service, Margot Robbie’s butt. What a shitshow.

And it’s just sad. How is it that DC/Warner Bros just CANNOT figure this out? They have every advantage- a hungry, desperate and unfailingly forgiving fanbase that would happily bend over backwards to enjoy one of these pictures if only they could, two full length motions pictures worth of trial and error, complete with detailed feedback from fans and critics alike to help them hammer this fucker into shape, and the invaluable work done by rival studio Marvel, which not only gave them years worth of examples on how to do this the right way (although clearly nobody at DC/Warner were taking notes), but also already did the heavy lifting in training a global audience on how to understand and accept something as radical as a shared, expansive, multi-franchise cinematic universe for comic book superheroes, and that’s actually huge. Basically, all the hard work has already been done by the competition, and DC/Warner Bros have been given a product that millions of people are ravenous for. Yet still, here we are, having this same old conversation. DC! WARNER! You can’t squeak out ONE passable 90 minute movie? These people are FAST running out of excuses. DC/Warner Bros are basically the kid in T-Ball that is just NEVER gonna hit that ball, no matter how many free swings you give him. These people are hopeless, and it’s not even fun ripping on them anymore.

One more dig before I go- WOW. Cara Delevingne is a truly HORRIBLE actress. Like, way bad. I laughed inadvertently more than once at her, and she is NEVER supposed to be funny in this film. I felt bad when it happened, but it just flew out. Who gave her this part?! How does this happen?

But you know what- since I’m such a sweetheart, I’ll admit that Captain Boomerang and Diablo actually had their moments. They weren’t as good as Ike Barinholtz, but they weren’t bad.

The Joker, though… Yeah. Everyone wants this to be some revelation because this character has such a rich lineage of big screen (and small screen) performances, but it’s just not in the cards this time around. This is, no question, the worst live action attempt at portraying the character yet. It’s uninspired and lame. Dude, psychopaths don’t tattoo “damaged” on their foreheads, Juggalos do. I’d call this pandering, except that in order to pander, you have to be dumbing down your product to meet the demand of a clientele which is less intelligent than you are. In this instance,I think it’s the other way around.

Suicide Squad is DC’s third strike. This thing fucking sucks.

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Batman versus Superman : Dawn of justice

Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice~ 2016, Zack Snyder (ugh), USA


Imagine that one day you’re browsing social media, and you come upon a photograph of some people playing joyfully in the snow. They’re smiling, laughing, having the time of their lives. They’ve even made a snowman, and you can see a kind of happiness in their faces that you remember from your childhood, but which you haven’t experienced in what seems like forever. This picture is getting mad ‘likes’, tons of shares, and everyone is commenting about how much they enjoy it. Meanwhile, the last photo you posted is a damn ghost town, initially ignored, and now forgotten, today it stands as a nagging illustration of your many failings in life, forever enshrined digitally and available worldwide. These people in the snow… Their popular photograph… This is an experience you must have for yourself. This need consumes you.

But there’s a problem; you don’t have snow. You look outside, and there’s not a single flake to be had. You NEVER really get snow, you live in Arizona, and it’s dry as a bone year ’round! I’ll tell you what you DO have, though: DOG SHIT! You have PLENTY of that! Enough to build a house!

So, you spread it all around your property, sprinkling it on your car, on the house, you make sure the ground has an even coat, and soon, it’s just like the picture! It’s a different color, it smells different, but such details are lost on you. To you, this looks great! A perfect reproduction! For the finishing touch, you even build a dog shit snowman, but you take the liberty of updating the no longer relevant snowman design that everyone else doesn’t seem to understand is broken, and after you’ve outfitted him with some wrap around shades and a trenchcoat, you have made a superior snowman that you fully believe will be embraced as the new standard in anthropomorphic snow mounds for all time. And now, the preparation is complete. You stand in your shitscape, and briefly, you feel pride… Except… Then you notice that you are alone. There are no people… No laughing children… And you don’t understand. Why?! What happened? You even went on Conan and showed everyone your sweet tribal arm tattoos, so what went wrong? You shake it off. “Hold it together,” you tell yourself, “the fans just need some time to process this…” Quickly, you upload your photo to Facebook, knowing that an avalanche of ‘likes’, comments, and shares is sure to come crashing down upon you, quickly elevating your photograph to one of the most treasured destinations on all of Facebook, and finally filling that emptiness inside that eats away at you every waking moment of every miserable day. This photo is your salvation, and you cannot wait for the people to embrace it.

But then they don’t. In fact, people don’t really seem to like your photo at all. You get a couple likes- but these are just the people who like anything you post no matter what. The rest of the world tries to ignore you, and the people who comment… Well, some of them actually seem to dislike what you’ve done. What happened?! How did your dream become a nightmare, and why can’t you have your own moment of happiness in the snow? Why? WHY!?

This emotional journey that I have taken you on is exactly the experience that Zack Snyder has experienced with the production and release of his latest (last? a guy can dream) motion picture; Batman V. Superman: Giant Hunk of Bullshit– oh, wait. Sorry. Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice. But hold up, dear readers, do not feel sympathy for Mr. Snyder, there is a corner booth reserved for him in the darkest corner of hell, and I assure you, he’s earned it. The real victims here are the fans. To them, I would like to extend my most heartfelt condolences. Honestly, I’m really sorry this happened to you.

THE PLOT~ Ugh. I want to skip this. We don’t need this. It’s bad, just take my word for it.

So, here’s the skinny: We KNEW this would suck. I knew it would suck from the moment that Snyder was named director (and therefore de-facto architect of the entire DC Comics Cinematic Universe,) but funnily enough, the WAY it chose to suck was entirely unexpected. For a comic book action film, this fucker is SO, SO, SO unforgivably slow and boring. The title of the fucking thing is “BATMAN VERSUS SUPERMAN“- there are not one, but TWO of the biggest superheroes of all time in the damn name of the movie– so why is it that if feels like four hours of slow, boring, clumsy exposition before we even get see anything remotely superhuman go down? The “fun” is kept on a tight leash throughout the entire film until the third act, which attempts to wad about nine storylines into 45 minutes of motion picture, dropping the most extreme overdose of superhero bullshit on you ever in one radically condensed portion of the movie. The structure of the film is basically this: ACT ONE: No where near enough, ACT TWO: No where near enough, ACT THREE: WAAAAY WAAAY TOO MUCH, The end. And why!? What’s the motivation here?! To catch up with Marvel, of course, but do they not see how foolish this is? This literally could have been like, eight movies, and with OTHER directors behind the camera, there could have even been some good ones in there. But instead, DC tries to match Marvel’s eight years of painstaking work to establish a well nurtured universe that fans will want to come back to time and time again with a single movie, and we end up with an overly long, horribly written, convoluted shit show. I can’t believe it, but even Man Of Steel was superior to this. Batman V. Superman is just as bad as we feared.

I feel like what must have happened here is that Snyder, knowing he is routinely criticised for being all shine and no substance, badly overcompensated, and tried to hold back on the action, mistakenly thinking that people not dressed in tights and talking was the same thing as character development. He knows he has to really bring the thunder sometime, though, so in the third act he drops the beat like crazy, and it’s so out of balance that the whole ship sinks. Batman V. Superman has a long list of problems, but I think this might actually be the single biggest flaw in the entire picture.

But what else wrong with the film? Well, ALL of the dialogue is bad. All of it. Jeremy Irons and Jesse Eisenberg especially have some lines that are just embarrassing, one that sticks out for me is even in the trailer:

Lois Lame: You’re psychotic.
Lex Luthor: It is a three syllable word for any thought too big for little minds.

That sounds like it should be printed on the front of a Wal*Mart T-shirt, and then worn by the most hopelessly socially awkward high schooler ever during an all night Deviant Art Marathon, not a piece of dialogue deemed suitable for inclusion in a major motion picture. Nobody smart would ever say that. That’s the dumbest, most embarrassing shit I’ve ever heard. Who wrote this? You did a bad job, you should feel terrible about yourselves.

Additionally, the plot is awful. There’s way too much going on here, predictably, so we end up wasting storylines which could have been their own movie, if handled by a more capable studio. It feels like the scripts for nine movies were just copy and pasted together into one overly long mess and then nobody bothered to proofread the results. We spend the first two thirds of the film trying to establish our character’s motives, and yet when things finally start to happen, nobody’s actions make any sense. Superman winds up being easier to manipulate than a senior citizen lost at the wrong bus stop, and Batman, in the act of murdering Superman, pulls a full 180 when he discovers that both of them have moms named Martha. That ends up being a major plot point. I’m serious. They go from nemesis to BFF in an instant, and learning the name of Clark Kent’s mom is what makes the difference. Imagine what’s going to happen when he meets the Hulk!

At the end of the day, millions of desperate people are going to pretend that this a good movie no matter what, and it’ll make money. It’s disheartening, but it’s true. We’re at a funny point in human history, these days we’ve become so dependent on media to dull the aches and pains of modern life that we’ve developed a kind of Stockholm Syndrome for bad artists. People want to love this so badly that they would have accepted absolutely anything. The whole film could have just been Zack Snyder in Superman tighty whities rolling around on the floor of a public restroom and humming the theme song to the 1960’s Batman TV show for three hours, and it still would have been defended to the death by legions of sad DC Comics fans who just want to have a good time at the movies. As it is, we have a film so critically reviled that it currently rests a full five percent more rotten that The Room on Rotten Tomatoes, and honestly, that’s where it belongs. Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice is a stinker I would not wish on my worst enemies.

Still a better movie than Sucker Punch.


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3 Dev Adam (3 Mighty Men) ~ 1973, T. Fikret Uçak

3-dev-adam (2)At the time of my writing this, movie goers everywhere are buzzing with excitement for Marvel’s forthcoming franchise blockbuster event: Captain America: Civil War, which will introduce a brand new Spider-Man into the Marvel cinematic universe. This is a major event for nerd culture, and one which was thought impossible only a few short years ago, since Sony still owns the rights to Spidey and, until recently, showed no intention of ever releasing him. Today, this event is being viewed as an exciting and historic first for Marvel’s admirably sucesful foray into major motion pictures, but in all actuality, it isn’t really a first at all. That’s right, Captain America and Spider-Man have shared the silver screen before, way back in 1973, and all it took to make it happen was Turkey’s legendary disregard for international copyright law. BEHOLD;  3 DEV ADAM, or, in English; 3 MIGHTY MEN, a film featuring Spider-Man, Captain America, and Santo! (Batman was busy, presumably.)


So, yeah. Turkey strikes again. I’m sure some of you are wondering who the hell Santo is; so I’ll quickly fill you in. Santo is (was?) an incredibly popular wrestler and movie star from Mexico; his career spanned decades, and included toys, comic books, movies, and countless live appearances as he bounded about on stage, wrasslin’ bros, Mexican WWE style. He really was a huge star south of the border, and, apparently a big enough deal in Turkey for them to plagiarize the fuck out of him left right and center for their shitty Cap VS Spidey debacle. Which is what we’re talking about today. Oh boy!

3-dev-adam (1)

Oh boy!

THE PLOT~ Spider-Man, here seen to be a homicidal gangster with a pot belly, has launched an international antique smuggling crime ring, because apparently Peter Parker is actually a huge dick. When we join our program already in progress, Spidey and his gang have already run amok in the United States and Mexico, and have now set up shop in Istanbul, Turkey, where every man, woman and child is a dead ringer for 1970’s Tony Iommi.

97266This is the picture on every driver’s license in Turkey, they just crop the guitar out.

High on justice and hell-bent on avenging the defrauded Antique enthusiasts of North and Central America, Captain America and Santo join forces and travel to Turkey, where they work tirelessly with local law enforcement to bring an ass kicking down upon Spider-Man’s head the likes of which I can’t even imagine. Can they succeed in their quest? Would you care either way? How can the people who made this film sleep at night? Only some of these questions have answers, and really, none of them are worth investigating.


Unsurprisingly, everything in this movie sucks wildly, and in a way that isn’t even funny. The Captain America of 3 Dev Adam is a grizzled, sun ravaged, Tony Iommi looking guy with no shield, who clumsily kicks the shit out of everyone he meets, day and night. Shockingly enough, whatever bozo they got to play Santo is actually in better physical condition than the real Santo, who was always more potato shaped, but his feathered mullet pokes out the back of his Santo mask like a rat tail, meaning that as buff as he is, he still screws up the one job he had. Spidey, of course, makes out worst of all. Not only is he the villain, he’s an especially vile and ruthless villain, and his only super power is a completely unexplained ability to clone himself. Yeah, the first time this happens there’s literally no setup for it, which leads to a seriously confusing fight scene. Ah, Turkey. Why you do this?


So, yeah. This movie happened, it’s totally horrible, and anyone attached to its production should be ashamed. 3 Dev Adam sucks in a way that only an illegal Turkish depiction of your favorite heroes really can, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it now. This IS the REAL first appearance of these two iconic Marvel characters in one single motion picture (that I know of!), but the best thing I can say about 3 Dev Adam is that you are in no way obligated to watch it, ever.


“Adios, Mafia!” (Actual quote from the movie.)


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Crimes Against Humanity: Zack Snyder

Uber douche

Ugh. ZACK SNYDER. What a piece of trash. Snyder is that guy you know who just doesn’t get it, but couldn’t be more enthusiastic. He’s just smart enough to figure out what smart people are into, but not smart enough to have a legitimate interest himself. If you asked him what he thought about The Mona Lisa, he’d probably say it was “tight.” If asked why, he might assert that her expression was “hella funny.” He might then invite you to Carl’s Jr.

Zack Snider is the guy who shows up to every party on time, but no one is happy about it. Zack Snyder produces mindless, bottom of the barrel, opiate of the masses level popcorn entertainment for people who would rather die than suffer subtitles, and what makes him especially bad is that he seems to prefer doing this to intellectual properties that could actually be really great in the right hands. Zack Snyder is a machine that ruins other people’s good ideas. He assassinates potential. He’s really, really good at that.

  • Dawn of the Dead Now, on the surface, this movie wasn’t horrible. At the time, I actually liked it… It had a good script (James Gunn). The thing is, however, that this movie is the reason zombies suck so hard now, and now that we know more about Mr. Snyder this movie seems pretty pernicious in retrospect. This was Snyder saying “You know, I like Dawn of the Dead… But obviously I can make it better.” This was the gateway drug the X-Box/Monster Truck Rally crowd needed to get them into zombies. Horror, dread, psychology, existential terror, all this wasn’t going to work for today’s youth. They needed zombies that could run fast and make monster noises. Some might try to pin the blame on Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, but that argument won’t stand. That movie may have sped zombies up, but this one dumbed them down, and this is the movie that defined what path these movies were going to take from that point forward.
  • Watchmen In an interesting way, Watchmen is actually an incredible accomplishment, because it is at the same time an incredibly faithful adaptation of the comic book and also the exact opposite of the authors intention. How can this be? The devil is in the details, it’s not what Snyder says, but how he says it that causes this phenomena. He’s like a parrot; he repeats faithfully, but always in a strange, uncomfortable monotone and with no actual grasp of what his words mean. This is a great illustration, because that’s Snyder to a T, he’s a huge fan of a lot of great things, but like a child he appreciates and is aware of only the most superficial layer of any composition. Any subtext or statement is over his head by miles, and he couldn’t care less because he’s too busy imaging it in slow motion with techno music and explosions. Just like Dawn of the Dead and The Man of Steel, Watchmen has Snyder taking an idea with some complexity to it and reducing it to it’s most simplified, shallow form, and then dumping sugary gloss all over it to jazz it up. The comic book version of Watchmen was ground breaking, and is beloved for taking old ideas and subjecting them to unheard of levels of stark realism and complexity. Mangling that into a generic, cookie cutter, super hero film complete with every age old stereotype and no intentional irony is a pretty Herculean example of missing the boat. Where great artists look for new ways to say more, Snyder is a master of finding old ways to say less, or nothing at all.
  • “Saving” Watchmen from the Terry Gilliams of the world- Though past his prime as an artist, Terry Gilliam remains an incredibly respected and admired director by film buffs the world over. This is a respect he has earned, and which Zack Snyder has not. There was a time when the studios courted Gilliam to produce a Watchmen film, but these negotiations obviously never went anywhere. In a recent interview, Zack Snyder, creator of jaw-droppingly shallow media, stated that part of why he made Watchmen was to, and I f’ing quote, “save it from the Terry Gilliams of this world.” The impact a statement that over-whelmingly out of line is impossible to measure. Snyder’s lapse in judgment regarding his own self worth is at this moment the most staggeringly incomprehensible thing in the universe. I struggle to even find an appropriate analogy. Saying that this is like Einstein’s scientific contributions being criticized by a used diaper with a sixth grade science text book is giving Snyder too much credit.
  • Sucker Punch- Sucker Punch perfectly captures the experience of watching your little brother play Playstation 2 for two hours. Solitaire, the card game, has more character development. It’s one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, and I devote most of my spare time to actively seeking out the worst movies known to man with frenzied desperation. After Sucker Punch, though, you’re just chasing the dragon. Nothing will ever be this bad again.You’d have a better time watching your own snuff film. Sucker Punch is a piece of garbage strung together by a man who lacks the attention span to achieve anything. Does Zack Snyder have children?! What happens when they ask him to make them a bowl of cereal? He get’s half way to the pantry, is distracted by a moth and runs out into the street pretending to be an airplane? How did the creation of this blisteringly vapid piece of dog shit lead to this man being in charge of the DC cinematic universe?! Only the most deranged and depraved collection of soulless money vampires could have seen this and not demanded a public suicide of Snyder in an attempt to reclaim honor. I view the creation of this movie the same way that The Terminator franchise views the creation of artificial intelligence. Time travel must be researched so that this wrong can be completely erased from Earth’ history. What if there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and they find Sucker Punch?  Did you ever think of that? That’s like your mom finding your porn collection, but on a scale where the consequences are human extinction. They’d show up with the death ships, we’d make our case, they’d say “We saw Sucker Punch.” And mankind would grow silent, knowing it had no leg to stand on. “Make it fast,” we would request, though we knew we didn’t deserve it.
  • Sucker Punch Again – If I was entered into the Witness Protection Program, and the false identity the FBI created for me had a Netflix account associated with it that had given Sucker Punch a passing grade, the shame would be so burdensome that I would just contact the Mafia and inform them of my location immediately.
  • The Man Of Steel – Clark Kent is the reason Superman is a great character. That’s the depth that people respond to, and good writers have always known that for Superman, the best stories are not the ones reliant upon Superman facing physical challenges. Those struggles are best left for other characters, for Superman, his whole shtick is that he readily and easily dominates the physical world on an almost God-like level. The path to writing a great Superman story is by exploring what it means to someone to have that level of ability and responsibility, and to be a complete outsider, when in reality all you want is to be a good person with a normal life. The speech David Caradine’s character Bill gives in Kill Bill Vol. 2 is right on the money, Superman is great because the false alter ego he adopts is not his super hero persona, but rather the shroud of normalcy he tries to cloak himself in when he steps into the role of the clumsy, bumbling Clark Kent. The Clark Kent/Superman dynamic is 100% the key ingredient in crafting a great Superman story. What’s that, Zack Snyder? You’re not even going to do the Clark Kent thing? You’re going to do it super half-assed, and have Lois Lane know from day one, because you don’t fully appreciate or understand why Superman works? Well, what are you doing instead? Explosions and buildings falling over, huh? People getting killed? Great. I thought that’s what you would say. And on that note….
  • Batman VS Superman- I’m just glad I’m a Marvel comics guy. I have to take a break and write about this another time. This idea is so bad that I need a full eight hours of sleep and two weeks preparation to adequately hate on it. I’ll come back and do this later.Okay, I’m back.

    DC and Warner Brothers want Marvel movie success, but they don’t have Marvel patience or foresight. It’s like someone noticing their neighbor having a really nice Thanksgiving Dinner and wanting to experience that for themselves, but then refusing to take the time to cook any of the food, or even remove it from it’s packaging. When the time comes they pile a huge mound of rotting garbage in front of their guests, only to become upset when nobody enjoys the evening. That’s DC and Warner Brothers right now. If you want a massive film universe, establish it. If you want a massive crossover film, establish properties that you can then crossover. Yes, it means you can’t enjoy the box office of a major cross over film as soon as next summer, but you can milk each specific character for their own film franchises,  making more money in the long term anyhow, and it’s really important to take the time to do something like this the right way, or else it’s just going to fall flat on it’s face. Instead, this new movie is going to be absolutely crammed full of poorly imagined, underdeveloped new characters like a damn clown car, which is just such a bad plan. Part of the issue is that they have no confidence in their product, because most of these guys have very little potential for solid, stand alone films in the first place. We all saw how The Green Lantern went down and most of these guys all have much worse problems, DC is just campier. For instance;

    1. The Flash…. He runs light speed, and his main villains are Captain Cold, Professor Zoom, and a talking, psychic super gorilla from space or the future or something… Sounds like The Flash is going to be a challenge.
    2. How about Wonder Woman? She’s made out of clay and lightning, and her only villain is a Cheetah girl… Called Cheetah. The DC Universe also has a character who is a Cyborg, with the super creative name of: Cyborg. Good job, DC.
    3. Aqua Man? (crickets chirping….) How are you going to film the underwater scenes?! Just make his voice sound really bubbly?

    We could write for days about why the strategy that DC and Warner Bros is using is stupid and destined for failure, but that’s a conversation for another time. What we’re talking about right now is Zack Snyder. The hurdles facing DC wouldn’t be the looming, insurmountable road blocks that they are if we had someone at the helm we could trust to do a good job and find new ways to enjoy these characters without mangling them too badly. But we don’t.

    And I don’t want to hear any “You can’t judge a movie that isn’t out yet” crap, because of course we can. If a man comes at you with a knife and clearly states his intention to stab you, do you refuse to react on the grounds that you cannot properly judge a wound until you’ve experienced it? This is that stab wound. Dodge it, run, anything. Or don’t, this movie is getting made no matter what we do. The era of good DC movies died with the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s last Batman film, so make peace with that and brace yourself for all the nerd drama that’s going to be meme-ing up your newsfeed left, right and damn center for the foreseeable future.

    This has been my presentation. I hope now you all understand that Zack Snyder sucks in a way that is vibrant, striking, and utterly devastating to the human spirit. He’s like some kind of coiling, farting viper lurking in the shadows, waiting to strike and kill something beautiful, all the while clouding the air with shameful gasses. Also, I imagine this snake to have blunt, bucked teeth, one of those propeller hats stupid people wear in cartoons, because Snyder is apparently also stupid. Everyone have a nice day.


The Fantastic Four~ 1994/never, Oley Sassone, USA

In 1994, B-Movie titan Roger Corman served as executive producer on an ultra low budget big screen adaptation of Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four. The film was so bad that it was never released. This is currently the best Fantastic Four movie ever made.

Ffmovie1994I’m serious.

There are differing accounts of why this film never saw the light of day. Some, Stan Lee among them, state that the film was made by the producers in an attempt to avoid losing the rights to the franchise, and that the studio who created it had no intention of ever releasing it. Others say that Marvel purchased the rights to the film before it’s release and buried it, for fear that such an epic direct to video dud could harm the brand and stymy future Marvel films. I guess that was probably a good call. The market is saturated with super hero movies now, even if one bombs audiences are comfortable enough with the concept that a reboot before the dust settles doesn’t confuse anyone, but back then, the idea of a Comic Book Movie was a more fragile thing. This may have caused some problems in 1994.

Even though it never saw a proper release, bootleg copies of the film are easily obtained online, or in shady tape trading circles like the one Nick Cage goes to in 8MM (This is where I got my copy), and if you manage to get your hands on this thing you’ll quickly understand why a 1994 Marvel would want to disassociate themselves with this cheeseball nightmare. Why they didn’t do the same thing with the 2005 adaptation remains a mystery.

 The movie follows the comics quite faithfully, to a fault, in fact. While The Fantastic Four remains one of American comics greatest treasures, significant liberties need to be taken to adapt it for film. For instance, a scientist taking his friends into outer space only to ruin their lives by getting them blasted with space radiation screams “criminal negligence” to the litigation rich sensibilities of today’s audience, but apparently this was all cool back in the 60’s. That’s what happens in The Fantastic Four. Reed Richards, big deal science man, takes his girlfriend, her little brother, and his pal Ben into space and then destroys their lives forever by making monsters of them all. We end up with:

  • Mr. Fantastic, who is able to stretch his body like a rubber band, but unable to ever find a practical application for such an ability (The newer movies also seemed to have a hard time making this super power seem cool. I don’t know what the damn problem is, Disney/Pixar’s The Incredibles managed to pull it off pretty well.),
  • The Thing, who looks like a Ninja Turtle, sounds like Patrick from Spongebob and hates life more than Biocop
  • Invisible Woman who I guess can probably turn invisible
  • and the Human Torch, with the power of Earth’s most punchable face. The actor who plays the Human Torch seems to be trying to portray some manner of bleach blonde Corey Haim/Joey Lawrence fushion. He nails it, and you’re going to hate him.

Also in the movie; Doctor Doom, a weird underground thief dude who is probably based on the Moleman, and set designs worthy of the Adam West Batman TV series. Holy shit this movie is campy. And bad. Really, this this isn’t the movie the franchise deserved… But it happened. let’s not be Stalinist about this, the movie exists and is real, and the fact of the matter is, it’s kinda fun. Yes, it sucks like Satan’s Maelstrom, but I think even mainstream America no longer demands that something not be stupid in order for it to be enjoyable. Quite the opposite, all of our most popular stuff is stupid as hell.  We appreciate our campy nonsense these days, and I think that, as a people, we are now ready for 1994’s The Fantastic Four. Sadly, rumor has it all original prints of the film have been destroyed, making a proper release all but impossible. A true shame, because I think that 20 years in exile is enough, The Fantastic Four doesn’t hurt anymore.


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Howard The Duck!

Howard The Duck~ 1986, Willard Huyck, USA

Howard the duck

Howard the Duck is a film about an anthropomorphic duck from another planet who is accidentally brought to Earth where he befriends a young woman and sets off on a 1980’s movie adventure. It was produced by George Lucas, based on a Marvel Comics character, and is famously remembered as an enormous flop, as well as one of the worst movies of all time. Time to drop the bomb on you; it’s not that bad!

I mean, yes, it’s bad… It’s hard to be objective about a movie with this kind of reputation and almost thirty years worth of baggage attached to it, but Howard the Duck is consistently listed as one of the worst movies of all time, and this, absolutely, is undeserved. The Michael Bay Transformers films are all worse, as are all of the Resident Evil movies. Avatar was worse! Without question each summer the studios churn out at least one action stuffed popcorn film that is worse than Howard the Duck, so for poor Howard, I think the time has come for his name to be cleared.

Howard The Duck does have problems. It’s too long, almost two hours.  It’s incredibly cheesey, and so, so 80’s, although at this point something like that is as likely to draw an audience as it is to repel one. How can we vilify Howard for being dumb and 80’s when that’s exactly why we love Big Trouble In Little China so much? Is there good 80’s stupid and bad 80’s stupid? I say no. All 80’s stupid is beautiful.

Another major failing of Howard the Duck? It’s a terrible adaptation of the source material, and is not very funny. The comic book garnered it’s cult following for it’s insight, it’s witty satire and it’s social commentary, as well as for the absurdities that talking alien ducks generate. The film has some of the absurdities down pat, but the satire has all been traded for bird puns, and not very good ones. Rolling Stone Magazine has become Rolling Egg, Raiders of the Lost Ark is Breeders of the Lost Stork… Stuff like that. I mean, Rolling Egg? Wouldn’t Crowing Stone have been better? Just off the top of my head. The humor just isn’t there like it needs to be, 90% of the jokes are some variation of “Howard is a duck, you guys!” over and over. Every now and again something legitimately funny happens, but only when the film chooses to focus more on the connection between the characters instead of harping on the obvious absurdities of the situation.

Maybe the biggest thing Howard the Duck has working against it is that it doesn’t know what it wants to be. It’s much too adult to be a children’s movie, and at the same time too childish to be for adults. The damn thing is rated PG, but is full of sexual themes and adult content, including boner jokes, and duck nudity. I’m not kidding, there is frontal female duck nudity in this movie. Duck boobs. What was going on back in 1986?!!? Then there is the much maligned romantic and sexual relationship hinted at between Howard and human Lea Thompson. I mean, I’m not being too puritanical about this, am I? It’s creepy.

The truth is that the kind of Howard the Duck movie that needed to be made in 1986 was never going to happen, it would have required subversive, anti-Hollywood sensibilities like those found in Frank Hennenlotter, Peter Jackson, or even Sam Raimi, and back then nobody was going to give that kind of director the money needed for this kind of project. Peter Jackson hadn’t even released Bad Taste yet. Hollywood wasn’t ready to gamble like that, we would have been better off had we just waited.

But we didn’t, and it’s no great tragedy. Howard The Duck is kinda fun! It’s meant to be lighthearted and goofy, and really, it is. George Lucas’ name being attached to the project may have brought on the high expectations that ultimately doomed the film to critical ire, but it also brought along with it top notch special effects and an incredible art and sound department. The cast is also mostly pretty good, with the one exception of Tim Robbins, who is way over the top. None of the reasons to hate this movie hold up, hindsight has shown us this, and in the last thirty years we have suffered through much worse with giant, brainless smiles on our dumb faces. How many Mission Impossible movies are there now?!? Do you know how much money X-Men Origins: Wolverine made? Or the Twilight franchise?!?!?!

Doesn’t Howard deserve some love, after all this time?