Monthly Archives: September 2017
Even though I haven’t read any of the books, I decided to give Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie a spin, and I’m glad that I did. It was funny, well animated, well voiced and a good, silly little movie.
Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch voice George and Harold, two young friends who like to hang out together and draw and write their own comic books. They have also been a thorn in the side of their principal Mr. Krupp (voiced by Ed Helms) for years, constantly pulling pranks and upsetting the order he demands in his school. One day, when they’re caught and Krupp has absolute proof of their guilt, threatening to place them in separate classrooms, thus destroying their friendship the pair have to act fast. With a cereal box prize hypno-ring, they hypnotize their principal into thinking he is the greatest superhero ever: Captain Underpants (a hero of the boys’ own creation). Of course this new hero has no powers, he’s just a bald, overweight middle-aged man stripped down to his tighty-whities…and wearing his office curtain as a cape. Tra-la-laaa! Through a fluke of circumstance, mean Mr. Krupp fired a teacher and Captain Underpants’ secret identity or Mr. Krupp hires a crazed evil scientist (that wants to eradicate laughter worldwide) to replace him. It’s up to Captain Underpants and his sidekicks George and Harold to save the day from Professor Poopypants (Nick Kroll).
Okay, the humour was pretty juvenile, but so is the target audience. There were a lot of good laughs, and a lot of potty humour laughs, but there was also a lot of intelligent humour hidden amongst the other jokes too, making Captain Underpants a lot of fun. Kevin Hart really has a great voice for animation, and the rest of the casting was equally impressive. Given the title, I assume they’re setting up for more films in the series which wouldn’t be a bad thing, and the way the film ended certainly invites a sequel. The whole creation of Krupp/Captain Underpants is pretty clever, (and the movie addresses this) for Mr. Krupp to become Captain Underpants under hypnosis, he must know who Captain Underpants is, so that means he’s read the comic books the boys had written. There are billion dollar super hero franchise films that don’t catch little plot points like that.
I have no idea how faithful to the books the film was, but from what I gathered it was a combination of aspects from several stories, still I think that Captain Underpants fans would be happy with the film.
Bottom Line: They’re kids books, but I’ll probably read the first one….
At the height of the Cold War the Soviet Union developed a top secret program to give them an edge in what they thought would be the future of war; they were tasked with creating superhumans in Project Patriot. A scientist involved in the project goes rogue and creates a clone army and tries to take over the world, so it’s up to these superhuman operatives to come together and stop him; they are the Guardians.
The bonus features on the DVD told a lot about this movie. First, comic books (and comic book superheroes) aren’t big in Russia, so this movie was not trying to compete with the Marvels or the DCs of the world, and they weren’t trying to compete with a $300 million movie, they were just trying to make the best movie they could with the budget they had. As a superhero movie, it was definitely a B, maybe even a C, but justified by those previous statements, they get an A for effort. The special effects were quite good, there was a lot of CGI in the film for obvious reasons. The characters were not fleshed out very well, but the powers they gave them and way they used them were quite interesting. You had Arsus (Anton Pampushnyy), the were-bear with a mini-gun; Khan (Sanjar Madi) with razor sharp sickles, and he was either really fast or could teleport, it was a bit confusing at times… Kseniya (Alina Lanina) has no memory of how she got her powers of invisibility; and Ler (Sebastien Sisak Grigoryan) who seems to be the elder statesman and leader of the team can control rocks. The whole project is overseen by Mayor Elena Larina (Valeriya Shkirando). Quite a few of the command staff of Project Patriot seemed to be sexy Russian women….not necessarily a bad thing.
Arsus looked really cool, and would evolve into different degrees of were-bear-ness…. The mini-gun was a fun touch. I really liked how they used Ler’s powers over rocks (I suppose that would be geokinesis). At first he just threw them at people and levitated them, but then he started to attract them to his body, making rock armour, giant rock fists like the Thing from the Fantastic Four. Loved it, that was super original! Things like that made up for a few of the flubs they made on the script. At one point the team is walking across a bridge structure and are being shot at by snipers, why not have your girl turn the team invisible before walking out in the open like that? They already explained that was in Kseniya’s power-set… I think this is where the lack of exposure to these types of stories hurt their film.
I could see this becoming a minor cult classic because it’s quirky, fun, decently made, and they tried. I can’t stand it when someone tries to force their film into cult-classic status by purposely making a bad movie. A great number of cult classics may be bad, but they truly intended to make a good movie. Guardians was a good movie and a fun watch; not the best, but it wasn’t trying to match up to the best.
Bottom Line: It may not have been a big time super hero movie, but it did adopt the tradition of an after the credits scene. I’d certainly watch a sequel if they made one.
Oh how I’ve missed this team! The Halifax Highlanders are back on the ice, and I can’t believe it has been five years since Goon! The whole gang was back, with a few new faces as a labour dispute in the big leagues has sent a lot of talent to the Eastern Maritime Hockey League. Doug “The Thug” Glatt (Seann William Scott) has been made captain of the team, but the team isn’t doing that well. When they play the first place team from Reading, Doug gets his clock cleaned by an up and coming star who delivers a beating unlike any Doug has ever suffered. With an injured shoulder, Doug retires from the game he grew to love and the team he loved. Though the injury is unfortunate, it may not be all bad though, as Doug and Eva (Alison Pill) are now married and expecting a baby. Of course, even without Doug, the team must go on, and team owner Hyrum Cain (Callum Keith Rennie) makes some trades and acquires his son and star player from the Reading Wolfdogs, Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell), who also happens to be the one who made Glatt retire. Cain is talented but reckless and dangerous, both on and off the ice. With he hears how the Highlanders’ locker room is falling apart, Doug looks up his old friend/nemesis Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber) to teach him how to fight left handed so he can get back in the game…. of course he does all this without telling his wife, so you can guess how that will play out… Cain is eventually traded back to his old team and a collision course with Doug and the Highlanders with the final playoff spot on the line.
Jay Baruchel co-wrote both this film and the original Goon, but he makes his directorial debut with Goon 2: Last of the Enforcers, which turned out to be another really good hockey movie. It’s clear he’s a fan, and wants to do right by the game and the fans. My only complaint about the first film was Baruchel’s Pat Houlihan character. I thought he was over the top and needlessly crude. This time around he’s still crude and over the top, but he was actually funnier, also there’s far less of him on screen, likely because Baruchel had to dedicate his time to the directing. Sadly though there was a character that seemed to fill the role in Pat Houlihan’s stead, and that was Elisha Cuthbert as Mary, a character thrust into the film for seemingly no reason except to be the crude friend (this time being a friend of Eva’s). Her casting may have been a favour from Baruchel, they did work together on Popular Mechanics For Kids in 1997 and she is married to Dion Phaneuf (former Toronto Maple Leafs captain? Currently playing defence for the Ottawa Senators…. a hockey player). In fact, I’d have to say that I really didn’t enjoy the cameos that were scattered throughout the film. T.J. Miller seemed thrust into an improv role as a sports reporter which kind of gave us some exposition into what was going on with the team, but seemed to be trying to hard to be funny. Jason Jones felt much the same as Doug’s boss at the insurance company he works at before getting back into the game. I did like James Duthie and Tessa Bonhomme in their roles, which they fit perfectly. Duthie plays the lead sportscaster opposite Miller and Bonhomme plays a sports reporter. In real life, Duthie is a sportscaster and host of a variety of hockey shows on TSN, Bonhomme is a Canadian Olympic gold medal winning hockey player and is also a sportscaster for TSN.
Once again I was very impressed by Seann William Scott, I loved the heart he brought to the character and the film overall. Goon 2 to me was a “returning hero” story, as Doug is first broken and then has to rediscover himself, rebuild himself and come back to save the day. I’m a sucker for those stories (as bad as Highlander 2: The Quickening is, I still love the bit at the beginning where weak old man Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) gets his powers back). I was very happy to see Marc-André Grondin back as Xavier LaFlamme too, I hadn’t heard that he was in the film. Kim Coates was just as phenomenal as he was in the first film as Coach Ronnie Hortense and of course Liev Schreiber is always a nice addition to any cast.
For a first time director, Baruchel did a very good job, obviously he’s intimate with the script and the characters, but I really liked some of his camera work. He had an excellent eye for the on ice shots, and seeing how they did some of them in the bonus features of the Blu Ray was really cool. One camera rig was setup on a base, with hockey pucks attached to each corner and pushed along the ice with a snow shovel-like handle. I love that kind of innovation! More than just a simple hockey movie, more than just a sequel, Goon 2 is another great comedy with light drama and a lot of heart. It also takes a very real look at the game, and the role of the “goon” in the current day. Is there still a place for them, or do they end up forgotten and suffering from post-concussion symptoms? Will they become a circus act, fighting for the enjoyment of “fans” in an event like the film’s “Bruised and Battered” competition? I don’t know, but I did enjoy how Doug Glatt approached the role and his own future in the game. The scene where Doug sets his stick against the wall in the hallway was beautiful, and reminded me of the scene in the first film where he wipes off the team logo on the floor of the locker room. Those are the scenes that made me love these films.
Bottom Line: After watching Goon 2, I played several games of PS3 hockey. When does the season start again?
Also, I love that they had an “after the credits” scene.