Monday, July 31, 2006

Five Reasons 'Snakes on a Plane' Will Bomb


Unless you've been living under a rock, you may have heard that there's quite a buzz out there regarding the 'so bad it's good' movie, Snakes on a Plane, or SoaP for short. Entertainment Weekly, after weeks of spreading adoration for this underground hit (making even their mentions of Arrested Development look like a footnote), features Samuel L. Jackson and his crawly friends on the cover this week.

Everything points to an amazing success and boffo box office, right? Wrong.

To be fair, Entertainment Weekly does touch on some of these points, but let's spend a few more minutes looking at why rising expectations for this summer's underdog will ultimately make this movie fail.

5. Firefly
You remember the Brown Coats? Last year, Universal's supposed underground hit, Serenity, with it's loyal fan base of 'coats' was to become the underdog-that-could. Result: Slow box office, and Joss Whedon put his hands in the air and walked away.

4. Samuel L. Jackson Doesn't Open Movies
Sam Jackson does what, 20 movies a year? Remember, 'The Man'? Neither do I. Remember how memorable Jackson was killed off in the final Star Wars installment? Neither do I.

3. August Instead of October
August is where bad movies go to die, and, in this case, intentionally bad movies go to die. The summer box office hangover is hard to shake. Maybe they should have waited for more kids to be back in college.

2. The Movie Looks Dumb
I know, I know, that's the whole point. But how many times have you been lured into the movie theatre with the promise that the stupid, the absurd, the incredible, the emotional would really live up to your expectations, only to come out flat and overly-long? Too often. Just because it's bad, doesn't mean it's entertaining.

1. Peak Time
Nothing to do with the actual movie itself, but we've all been talking about this movie for it seems forever. Let's face it, the movie 'buzz' peaked way to early and the youngns who should be in the seats day one have already moved onto the next thing. Britney's practically had another kid already. Teenagers are fickle, they know when they are being marketed too - that Entertainment Weekly cover can't help you know.

If you look at myspace as an extension of the viral approach here, ONLY 545 users are friends of the MySpace Snakes on a Plane page. Maybe it's not the real thing, but shouldn't it be more popular, regardless?

The good news here is that if the movie was developed on the cheap, New Line Cinema should be able to recoup most of their costs here, maybe even turn a profit after DVD and pay-per-view receipts are totalled in. Of course, that depends on whether they've spent themselves into the poor house trying to make this viral thing Big.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Five Reasons Why Spiderman is Cooler Than Superman

I recently saw the new Superman Returns movie directed by Brian Singer and starring Brandon Routh as the man of steel. Though I liked the movie, I didn't love it, and I started thinking about what was, well, missing. Soon thereafter, I spied one of my favorite movies of all time, Spiderman 2.

Got me thinking, based on movies only, why is Spiderman so much cooler on the big screen then Superman? Herein are 5 of my top reasons. Discuss, rinse, repeat:

5. Spiderman has a crummy day job
Peter Parker keeps having to pay the rent, help Aunt May, and just generally get by in this world. He sometimes breaks his glasses, his shoelaces are untied, he's short on money. He can't keep a job.

Clark Kent will always have that reporter job. He might real busy, but he doesn't really need the money. Daddy got him a nice place up North.

Winner:

4. Spiderman's girlfriend(s) are more important to the story line
You may disagree that, in fact, Lois Lane is more important here because she's all Clark's got, but I think Mary Jane and the on-again off-again romance brings real feeling and heart to the Spiderman movies. And it'll only get more interesting in part 3.

Superman did get in bed with Lois in Superman 2, but she doesn't remember any of it, so no points here. It's like the relationship in college you had with you girlfriend who was a girl and your friend, but it never really went anywhere. You were both chickens.

Winner:

3. Superman Can Fly
Superman can fly, he can fly fast and he can stop an airplane from crashing into Yankee Stadium. I thought the action sequences were fine and the flying was fine, but was it REALLY that much of an improvement from the older movies 20 years ago?

Spiderman swings through the air with the greatest of ease, but it takes real skill to sling those webs against buildings, climb up the side of buildings and more.

Winner:

2. Character Traits
I just wish Clark Kent would stop acting like such a clumsy dork. Peter Parker, he's something of a misfit naturally.

Winner:

1. Bully vs. Bullies
Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Venom, Sand-dude. Spiderman's busy wherever he looks. Superman, well, it always come down to one guy: Lex Luthor. No super human powers himself, but, he's just really evil and really smart. Superman II works so well because he has real enemies from his world. More of this, PLEASE!

Winner:

So, there you go, my completely non-objective take on why Spiderman movies are so much better than Superman movies. If you would have told me 5 years ago that a Spiderman movie would open bigger than Superman, I would have laughed. Just goes to show you what a little heart and humanity can do for a superhero.

Extra Credit: Peter Parker had to pull a Project Runway and design his own costume - the concepts, the sewing, all fabulous.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Five Reasons the Atlanta Braves Will Make the Playoffs, Won't Win the Division, and Why That's All Good in the End

Let's face it folks, this is the year that the Atlanta Braves record run of 14 straight division titles comes to an end. And that's OK, in fact it may be REALLY OK:

5. Pennant Races Are Good
The Pennant Race to win the wild, wild card this year will keep the Braves competing all the way until the end. With so many teams within just a few games of each other, only the strong survive.

4. There's Nothing Wrong with Being the Wild Card Team
Florida, Boston, and many other recent World Series champions have won after sneaking into the last wild card spot. The Wild Card team tends to be the hottest team with the most momentum. The Braves should use that to their advantage here if they can pull ahead of others in the Wild Card spot.

3. Pitching
Yeah, easy one here, the pitching is better with Bob Wickman in the bullpen, Ken Ray as the set-up guy and Chris Reitsma NOT pitching, but the reality is that if they can only get a little bit better pitching, they'll be fine here.

If you look at past performances in the playoffs, yes, the pitching has always been strong but it's the hitting and offensive production that has disappeared. This year feels different - with Jeff Francouer, Adam LaRoche and Brian McCann just one year older, the offensive wealth is spread around much more evenly and should prove to be an advantage come playoff time. McCann and LaRoche still remain the best kept secrets in the N.L. behind Francouer's flashier good looks and power strokes.

Note to Bobby Cox: Trade Giles and start Wilson Betimet at 2nd base. Then let him lead off. Please?

2. Mets in the Pressure Cooker
Seen how the press has treated A-ROD lately? Go ahead Mets, win the division. I don't care how much you win the division by and how good your hitting is, your starting pitching is suspect and Billy Wagner has yet to earn his full paycheck.

1. Underdog is Here
The Atlanta Braves as the underdog. We haven't heard that since that first 'worst to first' playoff run way back when. Redefine the team as the underdogs, the comeback kids.

I for one can't wait, go Braves!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Five Oddities From Wal-Mart's 'The Hub'

Wal-Mart recently launched a kid-friendly myspace-looking clone called 'The Hub: School Your Way' in the middle of summer. Five observations and oddities about the initial launch:

5. How can I get a video like that?
Those commercials, I mean videos, aren't real user-submitted videos. That skateboarder did say 'arm pit hair' (hee hee).

4. Panderama
It's a social networking site, it's a community, no wait, it's a fashion show! Accessorize to your hearts galore you little teen consumers. Each homepage comes with an accessory, a shirt and pants. Yeah, i can dress myself now!

3. Kickin Videos
MTV is shaking in their boots. Watch out iTunes

2. Hubsters
Hubsters, or 'users' have boring homepages, crummy customization. No click to enlarge images, no external linking, bad color schemes, no blogging and much more!

1. This site brought to you by Exxon Mobil
This one weirded me out, I'm sure there's a perfectly reasonable explanation: all images are hosted at exxonmobil.download.akamai.com. Paranoid meter now officially ON.

And remember kids, have fun.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Five Most Embarrassing Music Purchases

Everyone's done it - opened up their music CD case and realized they, at some point, had some really questionable choices in music. Catchy pop song? Upcoming artist? Edgy new rapper? I present 5 really bad music purchases made during my lifetime. Believe me, there are more than 5 here.

5. KISS, Hot in the Shade
The unforgiving hair pop metal years of 80s KISS. Saw the concert tour too.

4. Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones, the soundtrack
The power of trying to believe something is good can be more powerful than the quality of the actual product. Case in point, the Lucas brainwash has finally started to wear off.

3. Warrant, Cherry Pie
Cranked it loud in college, no wonder girls didn't visit by the ole' dorm room

2. Stryper, In God We Trust
Yes, Stryper, that Christian Metal band from the 80s that resurrected not only religion for the metal set but also resurrected crappy music in general. On a Florida vacation, I listened to this cassette tape over and over again because of the perfect metal qualities (load guitars, power ballads and those kickin bumblebee outfits).

1. Melissa Manchester, You Should Hear How She Talks About Him
My first record purchase on 45 vinyl and oh so painful to recall as something I purchased by choice.

Honorable Mention: My wife told me she purchased the soundtrack to Cool as Ice, by Vanilla Ice - but only AFTER seeing the movie in theatres with her girlfriends. Maybe she should write her own list.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Five Popular TV Shows I Just Don't Get

I'm by no means the TV authority on what's good, what's bad, or what's popular, but after reviewing some of TV's top-rated programs, I realized there's a lot on TV that's REALLY popular that I just don't get.

5. Mythbusters (Discovery Channel)
Geeky engineer-looking guys discussing geeky engineering things in an uninteresting way. Is it any wonder they added a hot female to the mix recently?

4. Real World (MTV)
Now, this one's really sad, as I grew up watching every single episode of those earliest 8-or-so seasons. You know, Pedro and Puck in San Francisco and the like. It's been transformed into some sort of icky O.C.-meets-big-brother hookup show. Don't forget the endless spinoffs too. Boy am I old.

3. Deal or No Deal (NBC)
I don't get it.

2. Law and Order (NBC)
It's always on. Maybe that's the problem. It's always on.

1. CSI: Anything (CBS)
About the closest I've ever gotten to this one is when I was walking on South Beach a few years ago and saw a stark white David Caruso digging for shells in the ocean sands. You know, Horatio?

What's my problem people? Give me a Frontline documentary, Entourage, Sopranos, the Office, or a baseball game and I'm happy.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Five Great Offbeat American Landmarks

Having travelled across a great deal of the United States by car, and always have needed any excuse to get out of the car, here our my five great offbeat American landmarks. If they aren't on the list, I hadn't yet been by for a visit:

5. Gatorland
Outside of the DisneyWorld tourist mecca, this just screams cheese. OK, so I never actually visited it, but I really wanted to.

4. The Corn Palace
Located in Mitchell, South Dakota, there's really nothing better than going out of your way to visit a palace made out of corn. They didn't have that Internet thing when I was growing up, but I can relive my childhood by checking in with their webcam.

3. Wall Drug
Who hasn't been curious about Wall Drug after seeing the umpteenth bumper sticker and road sign. Our family went out of our way for the pitstop, but you couldn't help feel at least a wee disapointed (my brother did come away with a nifty Daniel Boone looking coon-skin hat for our sweltering August travel).

2. South of the Border
Drive by this South Carolina roadmark, just don't stop. After being barraged by some of the worst road signs in America (aka Have you ever sausage a place?) your level of excitement quickly falls after realizing that the endless gift shops, roller coasters, mini golf and fireworks stores look, well, empty.

1. The Oasis Restaurant
Located in my hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin, this roadside stop will be no more soon when developers bulldoze the place... but they are keeping the famous Cow? What makes this so special? I worked at the Oasis Restaurant as a line cook during high school summers, played for the softball team and such. And I could always say I worked somewhere with a big cow in the parking lot - and that made it into RoadSide America. Oh yeah, and their ugly signs were voted one of the worst by Life Magazine years ago too. Memories...

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Today's List: The Five Best Movie Sequels

OK, So right off the bat and in celebration of today's likely new box office record holder for an opening weekend (Pirates of the Caribbean 2, for those of you stranded on a desert island), the top 5 best sequels of all time.

5. Aliens
James Cameron 80s sequel packs an unexpected power punch after a slower-paced, horror-themed original debuted.

4. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
OK, I'm putting this here just because I love all the LOTR movies, though this one is the most differently paced and difficult to watch in repeated viewings (book is the hardest to get through too).

3. Empire Strikes Back
Sheer joy as an 11-year old seeing it for the first time. I still remember the long lines to get in. Negative points for having 4 chances since Empire to strike back.

2. Superman 2
One word: Zod

1. Spiderman 2
I can't explain it, but this movie just rocks - so unexpectedly great. Well-acted, wonderfully-paced and with real heart. Do I get excited about Spiderman 3 or frightened it'll never meet my high expectations.

Just missing today's cutoff is Smokey and the Bandit 2, Matrix Reloaded, Bad News Bears 2, any of the remaining Planet of the Apes, Revenge of the Nerds, Freddie, Jason, Michael Myers, odd numbered Star Trek movies, that Richard Pryor superman movie, that fourth Superman movie, any of the Star Wars Prequels, Batman 2-4 (oh it pains me, for I do love the caped crusader so), Terms of Endearment sequel, Godfather 2 and 3 (huh?) and of course Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Discuss...