Movie Review: Professor Marston and the Great Unicorn Hunt

Greetings, new readers! Because this review is about a movie featuring polyamory, it’s attracted a lot of attention from folks who don’t usually read my blog.

I write a number of movie reviews in this style; the snark you see here isn’t reserved for this movie. You can see other examples here and here, or just click the Movie Reviews tag.

I am polyamorous. I am kinky. I have seen at least one Wonder Woman movie. Ergo, I am precisely the target demographic for the movie Fifty Shades of Professor Marston and the Great Wonder Unicorn Hunt Women, the movie that is taking Hollywood by storm as it zooms from first-run theaters to the dollar cinema faster than Starship Troopers 3.

I blinked, and so nearly missed the film in its theatrical release, but never fear! Vancouver has one of those theaters that sells beer and cut-rate tickets, with those chairs that make you sit with your knees in your nose and the floors that are always suspiciously sticky, so I was able to plunk down a few hard-earned Canadian dollars and experience the wonder for myself.

At least I think that’s what that feeling was. It might have been my kidney infection.

The movie goes something like this:

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Why are people burning my comic books?

OUTRAGEOUSLY STRAIGHTLACED WOMAN: It’s the 1940s. That’s what we do. Now, we want to ask you a bunch of leading and excessively moralistic questions about your comic book.

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Very well, let me begin with a flashback.

He BEGINS with a FLASHBACK

PROFESSOR MARSTON: My new undergrad psychology student is hot.

ELIZABETH MARSTON: I’ve got bad news and good news. The bad news is this is the 1930s, which means Harvard won’t give me a Ph.D. because I’m a woman. The good news is that this is the 1930s, which means there’s no such thing as an ethics review board, so if you want to sexually groom and then experiment on your undergrad student in really creepy ways that totally objectify her and violate her consent, that’s okay. Also, I have no concept of sexual jealousy.

The polyamorous people in the audience CHEER

ELIZABETH MARSTON: I also have no concept of consent.

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Awesome! This will be fun. What is your name, hot undergrad student?

UNICORN: You may call me Unicorn. My mother and aunt are the best-known feminists of this decade. I was raised in a convent, so I am sexually naive and trusting. Plus, I just starred in Fifty Shades Darker, so I have a totally fucked perception of how consent is supposed to work. Also, it kinda makes me this film’s version of the Born Sexy Yesterday trope.

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Excellent! Let’s begin, shall we?


WARNING: HERE BE SPOILERS, AND POSSIBLY TRIGGERS AS WELL.
PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Unicorn, I see my husband has made you his new TA. That stands for…well, we’ll say it stands for “teaching assistant.” Not that other thing, because that would be objectifying, and shame on you for thinking it. Don’t fuck my husband. Also, he likes his coffee black.

UNICORN: Wait, what?

PROFESSOR MARSTON: I am going to groom Unicorn so that she becomes my sexual plaything.

The audience LAUGHS

PROFESSOR MARSTON: No, seriously, I’m going to groom her, exactly the way sexual predators do. In fact, I’m even going to talk to my wife about grooming her, and outline on a blackboard my theories of dominance and submission in a dramatic closeup, just to drive the point home.

The audience LAUGHS

HUMBERT HUMBERT: I approve.

LOLITA: Shut the fuck up, you’re an unreliable narrator.

HUMBERT HUMBERT: This is an unreliable movie!

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Hey Unicorn, you’re in a sorority, right?

UNICORN: Yes.

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Sneak me and my wife into the sorority building when you do those hazing things that you do with the pledges.

UNICORN: Dude! No! That’s creepy and fucked up! What is wrong with you?

PROFESSOR MARSTON: If you are going to be dedicated to the cause of science, you need to be willing to do whatever I say.

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Clever.

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Thank you! I got it from a cult leader.

UNICORN: Okay.

UNICORN sneaks PROFESSOR MARSTON and ELIZABETH MARSTON into the SORORITY HOUSE. They have a creepy, fucked up scene where UNICORN is forced to HUMILIATE and SPANK a SORORITY PLEDGE without her CONSENT. PROFESSOR MARSTON gets really INTO IT because non-consent is his THING, and starts jilling off ELIZABETH MARSTON while they watch a woman being NONCONSENSUALLY DEGRADED. There is a brief INTERMISSION so the audience can take a SHOWER

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Whew! That was totally hot. For a followup, let’s non-consensually humiliate Unicorn by asking her really personal and invasive questions, and gaslighting her whenever she tries to assert any boundaries.

ELIZABETH MARSTON: You want to fuck my husband.

Unicorn: I do not want to fuck your husband.

PROFESSOR MARSTON: You want to fuck me.

UNICORN: I do not want to fuck you.

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Observe, she is exhibiting physiological changes associated with lying! We should use this information to build a lie detector machine which we will use in some really creepy, fucked-up, cringe-inducing scenes later in this film.

UNICORN: This…is kinda gaslighty.

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Nonsense. That term won’t even exist for decades yet.

HUMBERT HUMBERT: I like this movie already.

UNICORN: You guys do know I’m engaged, right?

PROFESSOR MARSTON: It won’t last.

UNICORN: How do you know?

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Your fiancé doesn’t get top billing in the movie credits. Plus his character bio on IMDb is blank.

EXPENDABLE FIANCÉ: Wait, what? I’m the only person in this entire movie who even raises the slightest hint of concern that some fucked-up shit is happening! I—

ELIZABETH MARSTON: I’m sorry, did you say something?

UNICORN: I want to go to grad school and become a journalist.

ELIZABETH MARSTON: A journalist! It’s so cute when you have ambitions. I’ll write a letter of recommendation for you! And then subtly fuck with your head to make you more dependent on my husband and me. In fact, let’s wire my husband up to a prototype lie-detector in a creepy, fucked-up, cringe-inducing scene where he fucks with your head by revealing his feelings for you!

They wire PROFESSOR MARSTON to a prototype LIE DETECTOR in a creepy, fucked-up, cringe-inducing SCENE

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Do you love me?

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Yes.

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Do you love Unicorn?

PROFESSOR MARSTON: No.

LIE DETECTOR: Beep bleep scribble scribble doo.

UNICORN: I’m feeling a little uncomfortable here, with both our personal and professional boundaries. At least, that’s what I would say if I had a healthy sense of boundaries, which I don’t, because I’m 22 years old and completely naive and I’m being groomed by sexual predators.

They wire UNICORN to a prototype LIE DETECTOR in a creepy, fucked-up, cringe-inducing SCENE

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Do you love me?

UNICORN: No.

LIE DETECTOR: Beep bleep scribble scribble doo.

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Do you love my wife?

UNICORN: No.

LIE DETECTOR: Beep bleep scribble scribble doopy-doopy doo.

The audience LAUGHS, because her LIPS are saying NO but her BODY is saying YES, amirite?

UNICORN: Okay, this has really gone to a twisted place, and I’m not comfortable with the casual lack of any sort of boundaries here. At least, that’s what I would say if I had a healthy sense of boundaries, which I don’t, because remember? Naive and being taken advantage of by a couple of people twice my age who also just so happen to have the keys to my entire fucking academic future in their hands, in a society that doesn’t even consider women to be fully human, much less worthy of being listened to when their boundaries or consent are violated. Instead, I’m going to rush out dramatically so that Elizabeth can chase me and then some fucked-up shit can happen.

UNICORN rushes out of the ROOM, pursued by ELIZABETH. UNICORN is feeling VULNERABLE AND EXPOSED, so naturally they KISS

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Bom-chicka-wow-wow!

They have the most CRINGE-INDUCING NOT-REALLY-CONSENSUAL SEX SCENE since that one scene in the first BLADERUNNER

RACHEL: Hey, now! I am an artificially-constructed, synthetic organism specifically designed and built to be a slave. Don’t be bringing me into this! Even I think what’s going on here is fucked up.

ELIZABETH MARSTON and PROFESSOR MARSTON and UNICORN all walk through CAMPUS making LOVEY-DOVEY EYES at each other

EXPENDABLE FIANCÉ: Everyone knows what you’re doing. I’m breaking up with you.

The audience LAUGHS

EXPENDABLE FIANCÉ: Wait, what? How is that funny? I’m, like, the only person in this goddamn movie who even raises the slightest hint that my fiancée being sexually groomed by two people in a position of authority over her might in any slight way be kinda not okay, and—

ELIZABETH MARSTON: I’m so happy. We’re so happy. We’re all so happy together.

THE MARSTON FAMILY: Wait, what? Like, none of this happened. For starters, Professor Marston threatened to leave his wife if she didn’t let Unicorn move in with them. And another thing—

ANGELA ROBINSON: Did I ask you? I don’t recall asking you. I’m the director and this is my movie. If I say it happened, it happened.

THE MARSTON FAMILY: But—

ANGELA ROBINSON: Security!

PROFESSOR MARSTON: We just got fired.

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Okay, we’re done. Unicorn, get out.

UNICORN: Wait, what?

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Haven’t you seen the official polyamory couple looking for a third flowchart? It’s the rule. As soon as the unicorn becomes the slightest bit inconvenient, the couple re-assert their primacy and kick her out. You knew when you signed up!

UNICORN: No, I actually didn’t know when I signed up, because the two of you have the most shit communication skills I’ve ever seen outside a Hollywood romantic comedy. I mean, seriously, poly folks keep going on about how important communication is, and you two are, like, the most shit of shit people ever to shit a shit when it comes to communication. What the fuck is wrong with you?

ELIZABETH MARSTON: I’m sorry, did you say something?

UNICORN: Also, I’m pregnant.

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Oh, that’s so wonderful! Do you hear that, my darling husband? We’re going to be parents! All three of us can live together!

UNICORN: Really? You mean it?

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Of course! You can be our live-in nanny and housemaid and take care of your kids and our kids, and—

UNICORN: Wait, what?

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Don’t interrupt, dear, I’m not finished. Take care of your kids and our kids, and also cook and clean house for us!

UNICORN:

ELIZABETH MARSTON: You’re the unicorn. It’s what unicorns do. Didn’t you read the flowchart?

They MOVE IN TOGETHER and have MORE KIDS. UNICORN takes care of the KIDS and also COOKS and CLEANS and STUFF

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Ah, look, a lingerie shop! I think I will go inside.

PROFESSOR MARSTON goes inside the LINGERIE SHOP

CREEPY DUDE: Do you like high heels?

PROFESSOR MARSTON: They’re okay, I guess.

CREEPY DUDE: Are you a police officer or a postal inspector or Sonny Crockett?

SONNY CROCKETT: Hey now, leave me out of this shit-show. I spend my time undercover busting human traffickers and child pornographers and stuff. I want nothing to do with you lot.

RACHEL: You want to go get a drink?

SONNY CROCKETT: Replicant lady, I will follow you into a wood chipper if it gets me away from these people.

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Um, no?

CREEPY DUDE: Do you, like, like like high heels, like, in that way you like something when, you know, you really like it?

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Umm…dude, you’re kind of creepy and you’re making me kind of uncomfortable. At least that’s what I’d say if I had any kind of boundaries at all. But given that this movie is what it is…sure! Let’s say I do. What’ve you got for me?

CREEPY DUDE: Let me open this secret door, see, and…

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Wife! Unicorn! Check it out! I’ve just discovered BDSM porn!

ELIZABETH MARSTON: BDSM porn? What’s that?

UNICORN: Don’t you guys ever look at the Internet?

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Let’s go visit the creepy dude and stage the least realistic scene ever filmed in any movie, and I include Hot Tub Time Machine in that list!

THE ENTIRE CAST OF HOT TUB TIME MACHINE: No. No. Oh, hell no. Do not drag us into this. Hey Sonny, replicant lady, you got any room in that wood chipper?

PROFESSOR MARSTON and ELIZABETH MARSTON and UNICORN go back to the LINGERIE SHOP. The CREEPY DUDE ties up a RANDOM WOMAN

PROFESSOR MARSTON: I want to tie up Unicorn.

UNICORN: Okay.

ELIZABETH MARSTON: I am going to make a big show of being offended at the idea of bondage and stomp out.

PROFESSOR MARSTON: I will follow you out, leaving Unicorn alone with Creepy Dude.

UNICORN: I have just had my two lovers stomp out of the room arguing, leaving me alone with a creepy dude. I will now do the most unrealistic thing ever in any Hollywood movie ever filmed, and I include Hot Tub Time Machine in that list, by going through the creepy dude’s wardrobe dressing up in costumes while I’m here alone with a creepy dude in an unfamiliar place while my lovers are arguing, because that’s totally how Hollywood believes people get into BDSM.

They have the most unrealistic scene in any HOLLYWOOD MOVIE, including HOT TUB TIME MACHINE. Every person in the AUDIENCE who is even passingly familiar with kink GROANS. The ENTIRE CAST of HOT TUB TIME MACHINE walks into a WOOD CHIPPER

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Unicorn, do you want me to tie you up?

UNICORN: Oh, sure, NOW you ask for my consent. Sure, why not?

ELIZABETH MARSTON: I will now tie you up.

UNICORN: Wait, what? Just five minutes ago you were having a dramatic meltdown about how awful bondage is. Nobody, and I mean nobody, spins around that fast. Isn’t this, like, the second most unrealistic scene ever shot in any Hollywood movie?

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Yeah, and?

ELIZABETH MARSTON ties up UNICORN in the SECOND MOST UNREALISTIC SCENE ever shot in any HOLLYWOOD MOVIE

THE MARSTON FAMILY: Literally nothing like this ever happened.

ANGELA ROBINSON: Security!

PROFESSOR MARSTON: I am going to make a new comic book. It will be filled with bondage.

PROFESSOR MARSTON makes a new COMIC BOOK. It is filled with BONDAGE

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Let’s have a kinky bondage threesome.

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Okay!

UNICORN: Okay!

They have a KINKY BONDAGE THREESOME. The neighbor next door WALKS IN ON THEM

NEIGHBORS: We think you guys are perverts. We will shun you now. Shun the perverts! Shun!

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Unicorn, this is all your fault. We must protect our family by kicking you out of the house.

UNICORN: Wait, what? How does that make any sense? The cat is already out of the bag! The horses have bolted, the barn has burned down, and the farm has been bought, paved over, and turned into a McDonald’s parking lot! How on earth does kicking me out now solve anything? And also, why is this my fault?

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Read the flowchart. If the couple encounters any problem, they re-assert their primary relationship and blame the unicorn. It’s all right there. Oh, and we will make you bring our kids over here on weekends, because Professor Marston is the father, but you will not be allowed to see our kids, even though you raised them. Besides, my husband and I are, like, productive members of society, but I don’t even know who you are.

UNICORN: I’m the bright young student who was engaged to be married and was going to become a journalist until two people twice my age decided to groom me and then gaslight me into being your live-in sex toy slash maid slash nanny.

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Whatever.

UNICORN: You’re a terrible human being, you know that?

ELIZABETH MARSTON: You knew the rules when you signed on.

UNICORN: No, actually, I didn’t.

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Aaaaaaaand that’s the flashback. Now I will do some dramatic exposition in front of you, Outrageously Straightlaced Woman, featuring some of the most terrible dialog ever to be seen outside one of the Star Wars prequels.

ANAKIN SKYWALKER: Nooooooooooooooooooo! Do not want!

PROFESSOR MARSTON does some UNNECESSARY GRANDSTANDING featuring TERRIBLE DIALOG, and then COLLAPSES DRAMATICALLY. ANAKIN SKYWALKER follows the cast of HOT TUB TIME MACHINE into the WOOD CHIPPER. The dialog WEDGES

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Hey Unicorn, Professor Marston is in the hospital.

PROFESSOR MARSTON: I’m dying of cancer. Tell her! Tell her the thing!

ELIZABETH MARSTON: You tell her.

PROFESSOR MARSTON: No, you tell her!

ELIZABETH MARSTON: You tell her!

PROFESSOR MARSTON: No, you tell her!

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Will you forgive me for being, like, the worst human being ever, completely disregarding your feelings, treating you like you’re totally expendable, and generally being just about as shitty as one person can be to another person without involving the use of a meat cleaver?

UNICORN: No.

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Hang on a minute! No? You’re not supposed to say no!

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Let’s use emotional manipulation on her.

The audience LAUGHS

PROFESSOR MARSTON: No, seriously, I’m going to emotionally manipulate her. In fact, I’m going to do some completely unnecessary exposition right now describing exactly how I’m emotionally manipulating her.

UNICORN: Are you for real?

PROFESSOR MARSTON: I know! Try a non-apology apology, only without saying you’re sorry!

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Okay.

ELIZABETH MARSTON gives the least convincing NON-APOLOGY APOLOGY since KEVIN SPACEY’S TWEETS. She never once says she’s SORRY

UNICORN: All is forgiven.

ELIZABETH MARSTON: Great! So you’ll move back in, cook and clean, take care of the kids, and be a live-in maid, then?

UNICORN: Sure, if you buy me a new stove.

PROFESSOR MARSTON: Deal.

PROFESSOR MARSTON DIES. The movie EN—

EXPOSITION TEXT: And they lived happily ever after.

THE MARSTON FAMILY: Wait, what? This is not even close to how it happened. In fact, you didn’t even get Elizabeth Marston’s job right. You said she was a secretary. She was actually an editor for Encyclopedia Britannica. Do you even read Wikipedia?

ANGELA ROBINSON: Security!

THE MARSTON FAMILY: Oh, never mind. We’ll just follow Anakin into that wood chipper. Anything to get away from this travesty.

The movie ENDS

Movie review: The Great Wall

We didn’t plan to see The Great Wall. We actually intended to see Get Out, but owing to an unfortunate accident with a parallax time distortion unit and a group of Brazilian terrorists, we ended up in the theater a week early. The only movie that had not yet started playing was The Great Wall, starring a bunch of CG space aliens, Willem Dafoe as John Hurt doing an impression of Keanu Reeves, Matt Damon as Matt Damon, and Tian Jing as an archer-specialized player character from Skyrim.


Seriously, tell me this isn’t glass armor from Skyrim.

So, with some trepidation, we ventured into the theater, expectations and parallax time distortion unit appropriately recalibrated.

The movie goes something like this:

MATT DAMON: The Chinese have the secret of black powder. We do not. Let us venture to China and steal black powder from the Chinese.
MATT DAMON’S SIDEKICK: Wait, what? If they have black powder and we don’t, doesn’t that mean they have better weapons than we do, thus making stealing from their military kind of a bad idea?
MATT DAMON: That’s why we brought expendable extras with us. Plus, I have a magnet.
MATT DAMON’S SIDEKICK: Why do you have a magnet?
MATT DAMON: Because unlike you, I read the script.
EXPENDABLE EXTRAS: Hang on, back up a second. What was that part about expendable–

CG SPACE ALIENS come out of NOWHERE and kill the EXPENDABLE EXTRAS.

MATT DAMON: Matt Damon!

MATT DAMON and MATT DAMON’S SIDEKICK kill a CG SPACE ALIEN and chop off its ARM

MATT DAMON: Let’s take that arm with us.
MATT DAMON’S SIDEKICK: Wait, what? Why?
MATT DAMON: Because it’s a CG space alien’s arm, of course!


Arr! Spoilers be down below!

MATT DAMON’S SIDEKICK: Hey Matt Damon, we’re being chased by mounted nomadic warriors! We should run away!

They RUN AWAY and discover a GIANT WALL with a whole bunch of ANGRY CHINESE ARCHERS atop it

MATT DAMON’S SIDEKICK: I think we should surrender.
MATT DAMON: I have a better idea. We should surrender.
MATT DAMON’S SIDEKICK: Ah. this is going to be one of those movies, isn’t it?
MATT DAMON: Yes. Yes, it is.

They are taken before the HIGH COMMANDER and INTERROGATED. WILLEM DAFOE quietly LURKS in the BACKGROUND.

MATT DAMON: Look! We have a space alien arm!
HIGH COMMANDER: Your space alien arm impresses us, Matt Damon. I will put you in a prison cell.
RANDOM SOLDIER DUDE: I can’t find the key to the cell.
HIGH COMMANDER’S UNDERLING: Put the prisoners on top of the wall instead, because that totally makes sense.

SPACE ALIENS attack the WALL. ARCHERS FROM SKYRIM jump off the WALL on BUNGEE CORDS to SHOOT and STAB the SPACE ALIENS because that makes TOTAL SENSE and it is TOTALLY how you defend a WALL from attackers who have NO PROJECTILE WEAPONS. WILLEM DAFOE quietly MUNCHES SCENERY in the BACKGROUND.

MATT DAMON: Space aliens are attacking the wall! Matt Damon’s sidekick, grab a red cloak and go all bullfighter on them while I shoot them with trick shots using my bow!
LEGOLAS: Eh, I’ve seen better.
ALIEN QUEEN: Oh shit, there are white people up on top of the wall! Retreat! Retreat!

They have a VICTORY CELEBRATION. The CHINESE MILITARY taunts MATT DAMON for his BOW.

MATT DAMON: Watch as I do some complicated trick shots with my bow.

MATT DAMON does some COMPLICATED TRICK SHOTS with his BOW and manages not to PUT HIS EYE OUT or ANYTHING.

HIGH COMMANDER: Your complicated trick shot with a bow impresses us, Matt Damon.
LEGOLAS: Eh, I’ve seen better.
PLAYER CHARACTER FROM SKYRIM: Matt Damon, you should put on a bungee cord and jump off the wall.
MATT DAMON: Why?
PLAYER CHARACTER FROM SKYRIM: To show that you trust us.
MATT DAMON: Well, first of all, I don’t trust you. Second of all, this is the most inane strategy I’ve ever heard of for defending a fortification.
PLAYER CHARACTER FROM SKYRIM: What’s wrong with it?
MATT DAMON:
MATT DAMON: So you have a wall…
PLAYER CHARACTER FROM SKYRIM: Right.
MATT DAMON: And you have blades on the wall and trebuchet and archers and all kinds of stuff.
PLAYER CHARACTER FROM SKYRIM: Uh-huh.
MATT DAMON: So you just stand up on the wall and shoot the space aliens. And drop things on them. Like rocks. Or hell, I don’t know, like bombs, since you have explosives and stuff.
PLAYER CHARACTER FROM SKYRIM: But they climb the wall!
MATT DAMON: So build an overhang at the top! With doors in the floor that you can shoot and drop bombs through and stuff!
PLAYER CHARACTER FROM SKYRIM:
PLAYER CHARACTER FROM SKYRIM: Nope, not getting it.
MATT DAMON: You guys suck at walls. The whole point of a fortification is to deny your opponents access to a piece of land without needing to engage them in hand to hand combat. When you really think about it…

The dialog WEDGES

PLAYER CHARACTER FROM SKYRIM: This dialog sucks. I’m outta here.
WILLEM DAFOE: You came here to steal black powder?
MATT DAMON: Yes, we did.
WILLEM DAFOE: I, too, came here to steal black powder. I have devised a cunning plan. I have hidden supplies and weapons all along the road and I have made preparations to steal the black powder from the armory. When the space aliens attack, we can be on our way.
MATT DAMON’S SIDEKICK: If you’ve done all this preparation, why didn’t you steal the black powder and run away like, ten years ago?
WILLEM DAFOE: Because I’ve been waiting for Matt Damon.
MATT DAMON: Ah, right, of course.

HIGH COMMANDER: You have a magnet. That is how you killed the space alien at the beginning of this movie.
MATT DAMON: How do you know?
HIGH COMMANDER: The legends speak of a time when the Emperor was cruel and wicked, so the space aliens came to punish him. Now, every sixty years, the space aliens come out of hiding in the mountains and roam the earth for food.
MATT DAMON: Wait, what? A large number of organized, highly aggressive, large predators only come out once every sixty years? How does that ecosystem make any sense at all?
HIGH COMMANDER: It worked for Pitch Black, didn’t it?
VIN DIESEL: Hey, leave me out of this. My movie rocked.

A SPACE ALIEN starts rampaging on the WALL in the middle of the NIGHT

HIGH COMMANDER: Quickly! We must kill the space alien!

A SECOND SPACE ALIEN comes up BEHIND THEM and ATTACKS

HIGH COMMANDER: Clever girl.

The HIGH COMMANDER DIES

PLAYER CHARACTER FROM SKYRIM: Now I am in charge!
MATT DAMON: Great. We should capture a space alien.
PLAYER CHARACTER FROM SKYRIM: Did you not just hear me? I said I am in charge!
MATT DAMON: Yeah, yeah, whatever. Okay, so what we’ll do is we’ll make some alien tranquilizer–
PLAYER CHARACTER FROM SKYRIM: I am in charge. Also, how on earth would we know anything about alien physiology or biochemistry? What makes you think a tranquilizer–
MATT DAMON: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Then we’ll put the alien tranquilizer on harpoons, see. And we stab the harpoons into the aliens and use the magnet to keep them from fighting back! And then we put them in a cage!
PLAYER CHARACTER FROM SKYRIM: We have never before thought of using harpoons, capturing aliens, or using magnets. Fortunately, we happen to have a whole bunch of harpoons and alien tranquilizer just lying around, even though this idea is completely new to us and we’ve never even considered it before. And look, there’s an alien-sized cage just lying here! Also, even though we learned that magnets incapacitate aliens hundreds of years ago, we have never considered using magnets in any of our fortifications or defenses because of reasons. It’s a good thing you came by to save us, Matt Damon! Also, I’m being so sincere right now. No, really, I am. Sarcasm is not known to my people.

A FOG rolls in. The aliens ATTACK. MATT DAMON jumps off the WALL on a BUNGEE CORD to fight tranquilized aliens HAND TO HAND instead of just waiting for the TRANQUILIZER to work

MATT DAMON: I have captured a space alien!

The PLAYER CHARACTER FROM SKYRIM opens a DOOR in the bottom of the WALL and they come out and get the CAPTURED SPACE ALIEN

MATT DAMON: Wait, what? You have a door at the bottom of the wall? Then how come I jumped off the top of the wall on a bungee cord like a dumbass?
PLAYER CHARACTER FROM SKYRIM: You didn’t ask. I do not think you came here to save us. I think you came hear to steal our black powder.
MATT DAMON:
PLAYER CHARACTER FROM SKYRIM: I can’t tell who’s worse, us or the space aliens. At least you don’t see them screwing each other for a percentage of the profit.
RIPLEY: That’s my line.
BURKE: Go for the black powder! Do it! Do it!

MATT DAMON’S SIDEKICK: The next time the aliens come, you and I and Willem Dafoe should steal the black powder and run away.
MATT DAMON: That’s a terrible idea.
BURKE: No, that’s an awesome idea!
MATT DAMON: I am the hero of this movie. Stealing and running away isn’t very heroic.
MATT DAMON’S SIDEKICK: You’re a loser snowflake cuck.

The SOLDIERS find a TUNNEL that has been dug through the WALL

PLAYER CHARACTER FROM SKYRIM: The space aliens have dug a tunnel through the wall! Now they will destroy the world, just like the creatures in Pitch Black, which was a much better movie!
MATT DAMON: You guys really don’t understand static defenses, do you?

MATT DAMON’S SIDEKICK: Willem Dafoe and I have blown the door off the armory and stolen the black powder. Come with us!
MATT DAMON: No.
WILLEM DAFOE: Wait, what? Why?
MATT DAMON: Because unlike you, I have read the script.
MATT DAMON’S SIDEKICK: You’re a loser snowflake cuck. I am going to write SUCH an angry tweet about you.

MATT DAMON’S SIDEKICK knocks out MATT DAMON and writes SUCH AN ANGRY TWEET. WILLEM DAFOE and MATT DAMON’S SIDEKICK ride off with the BLACK POWDER

PLAYER CHARACTER FROM SKYRIM: Matt Damon, your friends have stolen the black powder and run away.I will put you in a cell, since we have finally found the key. Also, we will now get onto hot air balloons which have failed all of our tests and fly to the capital, where we have shipped the captured space alien in a cage. Let us be off.

They get into HOT AIR BALLOONS that have FAILED ALL THE TESTS. The NON-PLAYER CHARACTERS all PLUMMET TO THEIR HORRIBLE DEATHS. The BALLOONS bearing MAJOR CHARACTERS all WORK JUST FINE.

WILLEM DAFOE: Go walk up that hill and see where we are. I promise not to steal your horse and all your supplies and ride off into the desert, leaving you stranded.
MATT DMON’S SIDEKICK: Okay.

WILLEM DAFOE steals the HORSE and ALL THE SUPPLIES and rides off into the DESERT, leaving MATT DAMON’S SIDEKICK STRANDED

MATT DAMON’S SIDEKICK: You promised!
WILLEM DAFOE: Ha! I had my fingers crossed!

WILLEM DAFOE is captured by RAIDERS and tied up next to the BONFIRE. The RAIDERS start PLAYING with the BLACK POWDER next to the BONFIRE

WILLEM DAFOE: Oh sh–

WILLEM DAFOE, the RAIDERS, and EVERYONE WITHIN A MILE are blown SKY-HIGH by the BLACK POWDER

MATT DAMON: I will get on a balloon and ride it to the capital city and kill the queen space alien.
CHINESE NERD: Aren’t you afraid the balloon will blow up and send you plummeting to your gruesome death?
MATT DAMON: I am not a non-player character.
CHINESE NERD: I’m riding with you.

They FLY to the CAPITAL CITY. The SPACE ALIENS are RAMPAGING

CHINESE NERD: We can cover the captured space alien with bombs and let it go! When it goes to the queen it will blow her up!
MATT DAMON: See, that’s what I’m talking about. This is why nerds rule the world.

They cover the CAPTURED SPACE ALIEN with BOMBS and let it GO. It heads straight to the QUEEN

CHINESE NERD: Okay, now shoot it with a flaming arrow to set off the bombs!
MATT DAMON:
MATT DAMON: What the…
MATT DAMON: Are you fucking serious?
MATT DAMON: You couldn’t have put a timer on them?
CHINESE NERD: Do what where?
MATT DAMON: A timer! Like a slow-burning charge…
CHINESE NERD:
MATT DAMON: …a glass envelope with a starter charge in it that ignites when the queen bites down, a chemical delay fuse…
CHINESE NERD:
MATT DAMON: Anything? Anything?
CHINESE NERD: Nope, not getting it.

MATT DAMON SIGHS

MATT DAMON: Okay, I will go up this tower and make a daring trick arrow shot that will save the world.

MATT DAMON makes a DARING TRICK ARROW SHOT that MISSES. The world is not SAVED

LEGOLAS: Loser!
PLAYER CHARACTER FROM SKYRIM: Okay, I will go up this tower and make a daring trick arrow shot that will save the world.

The PLAYER CHARACTER FROM SKYRIM makes a DARING TRICK ARROW SHOT that BLOWS UP THE QUEEN. The world is SAVED

LEGOLAS: Eh, I’ve seen better.
PLAYER CHARACTER FROM SKYRIM: Matt Damon, we have captured your sidekick wandering alone in the desert without a horse or supplies. You can take him with you or you can take black powder with you. Your choice.
MATT DAMON: I choose Matt Damon’s Sidekick.
MATT DAMON’S SIDEKICK: It’s like I don’t even know you any more!
PADME: That’s my line! It’s pretty awful, though. You can have it if you want.

PADME dies of CONSUMPTION
The movie ENDS

Movie Review: Live and Let Spectre Die Hard with a Vengeance

The life of a sociopathic British secret agent isn’t what it used to be. Time was when you could expect that evil supervillains bent on making doomsday weapons from their space lab in space could be counted on to invite you in for dinner, explain the entirety of their sinister plan to you, and then concoct some ridiculously over-the-top way to kill you while they conveniently absented themselves from the room to deal with pressing matters elsewhere.

Alas, times change, and even the most dense of today’s modern supervillain has become wise to the various flaws in this otherwise cunning course of action. Previous James Bonds have had the luxury of knowing that the supervillains they faced, while no doubt quite super and unparalleled in their villainy, were perhaps a few bricks short of a deck in the “dealing with British secret agents” department.

And so a new James Bond was needed. A tougher James Bond. A more resourceful James Bond. A James Bond with a steely gaze.

And that James Bond is back for another romp through the gardens of man’s inhumanity to man in the delightful little movie Spectre, featuring car chases, explosions, sinister villains, fluffy Persian cats, acting, plot, and dialogue.

The movie goes something like this:

RANDOM HOT WOMAN: Oh, James, ravish me! Ravish me now!
DANIEL CRAIG: Hm.

DANIEL CRAIG takes off his SKELETAL COSTUME and goes out the WINDOW onto the ROOF OF THE BUILDING in pursuit of a MAN IN A DIFFERENT SKELETAL COSTUME that is NOT THE SAME as DANIEL CRAIG’S SKELETAL COSTUME

MAN IN THE DIFFERENT SKELETAL COSTUME: Let us blow up the stadium and then go see the Pale King, because we are villains in a James Bond movie and so we can not assume that our co-conspirators know what we’re conspiring about and we need lots of exposition to establish that we’re the bad guys.
RANDOM BODYGUARD: There is a man listening to us from the top of the roof outside our window. I think he may be James Bond.
MAN IN THE DIFFERENT SKELETAL COSTUME: Well, shoot at him, then! Isn’t that what I pay you for?

A bunch of people shoot at DANIEL CRAIG

DANIEL CRAIG: Hm.

DANIEL CRAIG shoots the BOMB they wanted to use to BLOW UP THE STADIUM. The entire building CRACKS and then FALLS OVER onto DANIEL CRAIG, who fixes the crumbling building with a STEELY GAZE

DANIEL CRAIG: Hm.

DANIEL CRAIG slides through the CRUMBLING WRECKAGE and lands on a CHAIR, then pursues the MAN IN A DIFFERENT SKELETAL COSTUME through the streets of MEXICO CITY

MAN IN THE DIFFERENT SKELETAL COSTUME: James Bond is chasing me! Meet me in the square!

A HELICOPTER lands in the SQUARE and picks up the MAN IN THE DIFFERENT SKELETAL COSTUME. DANIEL CRAIG fixes the HELICOPTER with a STEELY GAZE and then HOPS ABOARD. They have a WILD FIGHT. The helicopter goes UPSIDE DOWN

DANIEL CRAIG: Hm.

DANIEL CRAIG steals a RING, throws everyone else OUT of the HELICOPTER to their GRUESOME DEATHS, and then FLIES AWAY into the SUNSET

The rest is down here! Beware, here be spoilers.

Movie Review: Inside Out

I will admit to some small measure of skepticism when I first learned of Inside Out, the new animated movie from Pixar. The premise of the movie is we all have emotions living inside us, you see, that look kind of like us except Fear (which resembles a purple Al Pacino, only skinnier), and Anger, which I don’t know what the hell it looks like, but it’s red.

But it’s Pixar, and Pixar is usually a pretty safe bet. They gave us Up, Toy Story, The Shining, Finding Nemo, and Brave, so I figured I’d give the movie a shot.


Al Pacino in Pixar’s hit movie The Shining

The movie begins with the birth of the main character Ripley Riley, who is dragged non-consensually into the world nine months after the end of last year’s surprise Pixar hit, Carnal Encounters of the Barest Kind. Upon the abrupt cessation of her non-existence, Ripley Riley begins to feel her first emotions, hilariously voiced by Al Pacino, gruff Al Pacino, Sigourney Weaver, unhappy Sigourney Weaver, and smug Sigourney Weaver.

Ripley Riley grows up in an idyllic Minnesota town, where she faces the normal challenges any young woman encounters on the path to maturity: she learns to play hockey, builds relationships with her parents and friends, goes to school, and drives a loader (in one particularly poignant scene, she gets a Class Two rating after her flight license is revoked).

The rest of the movie goes something like this:

Avast, ye landlubbers, there be spoilers below!

Movie Review: Snowpiercer

Last week, zaiah and I decided to spend an evening sitting in a dark room with a bunch of strangers staring passively at a flickering screen. We were in the mood for B science fiction, so we decided to go watch a low-budget sci-fi allegory about classism and economic repression whose characters are faced with losing body parts and whose plot heavily involves ice.

No, I don’t mean Ice Pirates. I mean the one that’s set on a train. I mean this one:

I must admit, it’s a worthy heir to the Ice Pirates crown. Without question, Snowpiercer is the best low-budget sci-fi allegory about classism and economic repression whose characters are faced with losing body parts and whose plot heavily involves ice that’s ever been set on a train.

The movie goes something like this:

Well-intentioned but incompetent scientists: Global warming is a thing. To fight global warming, we will spread a magic chemical in the air that will reduce global temperatures because magic, and also chemtrails. We will not model the results first, nor pay attention to the effects, because in this world modeling and verification are not things.

The WELL-INTENTIONED BUT INCOMPETENT SCIENTISTS spread MAGIC CHEMICALS in the AIR because MAGIC and also CHEMTRAILS. Global temperatures PLUMMET OVERNIGHT because THERMAL INERTIA ALSO ISN’T A THING.

Well-intentioned but incompetent scientists: Wow, we didn’t see that coming! The entire earth is now a frozen snowball and all life is extinct. Oops, our bad.

Jamie Bell: It sure does suck being one of the last human beings alive and being stuck in the back of this train. We should rebel and go to the front of the train. Chris Evans, you should lead us!
Chris Evans: Waitaminnit. If the world suddenly started freezing, why are the only survivors on a train? Why wouldn’t people make domed cities? Or dig shelters underground? For that matter, how come this train is even moving? Where does it get its fuel from?
Jamie Bell: It has a perpetual motion engine, of course! Duh.
Chris Evans: Oh, boy. It’s going to be one of those movies. And I thought my role in Captain America: The Winter Soldier was implausible. Man, I have got to talk to my agent about these winter-themed movies I keep getting cast in.

Click here for more (here be spoilers galore!):

Movie Review: Captain America: The Winter Wonderland

I know, as I have mentioned before, approximately fuckall about the Marvel comic universe. I have heard of Captain America, but I’ve never read any of the comic books nor seen the first movie. So when the Internetverse was all abuzz for this new movie, filmed on a budget $95,000,000 higher than the cost of India’s Mars probe currently winging its cold and lonely way to the Red Planet, I was quite possibly the only citizen of the United States not consumed by the fires of anticipation. What wonders would the movie bring? How would it advance the franchise? Beats me. I don’t even know who Captain America is.

I am talking, of course, about the second (but for me, the first) installment of the Marvel cash juggernaut:

As the movie begins, we see Sonic the Hedgehog Captain America out on his regular morning jog, where he’s trotting around Washington’s tourist attractions at an average speed of approximately 40 miles an hour without even sweating, because sweating is gross and Captain America doesn’t do gross things. He zips past the Comic Relief, then zips past the Comic Relief again, then zips past the Comic Relief yet again–you know, just to make the point. The engage in dialog, of the sort that tells you we will be seeing more of the Comic Relief later in the movie. The plot wedges here for a few moments when suddenly, Sonic America Captain Hedgehog is notified that a Situation has developed and he should Prepare For Extraction. Quite why he’s out jogging when it’s clear he is in far better than great shape and has superhuman abilities is never adequately explored, given that we as the audience are left with the distinct impression that failure to get enough exercise is not really on the good captain’s surrealistically short list of character flaws.

The rest of the movie goes something like this…

Clicky here! But beware, here be spoilers.

Movie Review: Pacific Rim

Having made his directorial mark with dark, thoughtful movies like Pan’s Labyrinth and sprawling, epic movies like The Hobbit, Guillermo del Toro has turned his sights onto exploring new territory. And with Pacific Rim, his ambition is plain: he seeks nothing less than to make The Silliest Movie Ever Filmed.

Pacific Rim starts with a simple premise: Giant robots fighting aliens. To that premise, it adds: Giant Robots! Fighting Aliens! And also, More Giant Robots! Fighting More Aliens! Plus, it’s chock-full of scenes of giant robots. Fighting aliens.

In this movie, we see a mysterious underwater crevasse, glowing a hellish red and surrounded by special effects, unleash a gigantic alien. And I don’t mean T. Rex gigantic, oh, no. Or even King Kong gigantic. This is a gigantic alien. The size of the bigness of it would make Godzilla say “wow, that’s a gigantic alien!”

The gigantic alien wades ashore and stomps around San Francisco for a while. It smashes the Golden Gate Bridge, sending cars flying everywhere. It stomps along down Folsom Street, sending more cars flying. The army is mobilized. Tanks get stepped on. F-35 Lightning fighters shoot at it with machine guns, which is odd considering their more typical armament includes Brimstone armor-piercing antitank missiles, which one might think (were one of a clear frame of mind and not screaming “OMG it’s a gigantic alien!”) would be a more effective weapon against gigantic aliens. More cars go flying. The monster is defeated. Another monster appears. More fighter aircraft shoot at it with ineffective weapons–a common theme in this movie, as we shall see–and eventually, a plan is made to fight the monsters using gigantic hundred-foot-tall robots shaped like people, because the basic human body plan is so effective at underwater hand-to-hand combat. Pilots are placed in the giant robots and move them around by thrashing and stomping, because it takes about 750 milliseconds for a person to move a limb, and it was felt that simply controlling the giant robots by thought alone rather than by motion might make the giant robots too fast and too responsive, depriving the alien monsters of a fair chance. Having one pilot per robot overloaded the pilot’s brain because of plot, so the solution was to put two pilots into each robot, thereby adding to the response time and generally making the giant robots that much less efficient.

And that’s before the opening credits roll.

The rest of the movie goes something like this:

Clicky here for more (Warning! Spoilers!)

Movie Review: Elysium

I watched District 9. I liked District 9. When I heard that the guy who made District 9 was doing another movie, this time about the enormous class divide in modern American society, and that it had a space station and explosions and stuff on it, I was as excited as a hyperactive kid on a cotton candy sugar high.

Perhaps not Prometheus levels of excited, but excited nonetheless.

And, unlike Prometheus, Elysium didn’t disappoint. It was exactly what I expected it to be after seeing District 9: gorgeous, brutal, sprawling, epic, and nasty. Very, very nasty.

The richest of the rich, the top wealthiest of society, have abandoned Earth altogether in favor of a lovely space station called Elysium, where affordable housing starts at just $250,000,000. The people stuck on Earth, the poorest 99% of society, are mired in sprawling poverty.

The movie goes something like this:

YOUNG CHILD MATT DAMON: This world sucks.
ORPHANAGE NUN: Suffering is good. Jesus loves suffering. If you were not meant to suffer, you would have been born rich. Jesus loves the rich.
YOUNG CHILD LOVE INTEREST: This world sucks.
YOUNG CHILD MATT DAMON: One day I will take us up to the space station where the super-rich live and everything is awesome.
YOUNG CHILD LOVE INTEREST: Cool. I will draw on you with a pen now.

Clicky here for more! Spoilers beneath the cut…

Movie Review: Star Trek Into Plot Holes

J J Abrams, the visionary director who brought you such cinematic masterpieces as Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Star Trek: A New Hope Reboot, returns to his director’s seat for Star Trek: Into Plot Holes.

The movie goes something like this:

CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK and BONES are RUNNING ACROSS A FIELD OF WEIRD RED TREES being CHASED BY PRIMITIVE ALIENS

BONES: Why are these aliens chasing us?
CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK: Because I stole their sacred scroll.
BONES: Why did you steal their sacred scroll?
CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK: To distract them from looking up at the shuttle we are sending into the volcano.
BONES: Oh, right.
BONES: Wait, what? If they were in the temple when you stole the scroll, which we know because they all came swarming out of it, they wouldn’t have been able to see the shuttle we’re sending into the volcano. So you got them all outside to chase us, where they would be more likely to see it.
CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK:
CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK: Jump off this cliff now.
BONES: Okay.

Clicky here to see more! Caution: Spoilers and bad plot choices beneath.

Movie Review: The Sun Also Rises on the Dark Knight (with Catwoman)

Okay, so I will admit it: I dithered on seeing The Dark Knight Rises.

Don’t get me wrong; I like comic book movies as much as the next guy, which is to say I dislke comic book movies less than half as much as they deserve. But there’s really only so many times one can spend three hours locked in a dark room with Christian “Mincing Momma’s Boy” Bale prancing around trying to be an action hero like Bruce Willis, only gloomier, before hitting one’s self in the forehead over and over with a hammer starts to sound like more fun.

But it came to pass that the movie ended up at the second-run theater. We’re in the middle of rearranging the house, and I couldn’t find my hammer, so we decided to go.

The movie was…um, what’s the word I’m looking for? Oh, right. Predictable. Two and three-quarters hours, and not one surprising thing happened. It all goes something like this:

The CIA puts a RUSSIAN SCIENTIST and some FREAKY-LOOKING PEOPLE on an AIRPLANE
CIA DUDE: Wait, what? I thought we were just supposed to have one guy.
EXTRA: These are some terrorists who were trying to kidnap him. One of them wears a freaky mask. What could go wrong?
CIA DUDE: What are you going to do now?
BAIN CAPITAL: Mrrrr mrr mr mph mrr mpph mpph mr.
CIA DUDE: What?
BAIN CAPITAL: Sorry. First, I’m going to kidnap the Russian scientist. Then I’m going to crash this airplane and kill everyone aboard. Then I’m going to outsource your jobs to China.
BAIN CAPITAL kidnaps the RUSSIAN SCIENTIST and crashes the AIRPLANE and outsources JOBS to CHINA

Cut for spoilers… To read more, clicky here!