"To entertain, inspire, frighten, teach, and entice as many readers as possible." - Keith Helinski
Wastin' Away Press features Keith Helinski's writings, ranging from short stories online to movie reviews over the years. Also features an assortment of Keith's interests. If you like what you see, check out Wastin' Away Press's official Facebook.
It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s the newest Superman incarnation, soaring through every science fiction movie it could possibly smash through to stop the evil General Zod from ripping off Michael Bay! Gosh, I hope the ‘man of steel’ will be able to save us from enduring a headache inducing climax!
I guess the belief that ‘less is more’ doesn’t exist anymore in Hollywood. Even Nolan restrained himself with just enough action in the ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy (and it had a different approach). There were things I liked about ‘Man of Steel,’ and there were a whole lot of things I didn’t care for in the film.
In case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know anything about Superman, or this movie, I’ve got a mix-drink for you. Ready? Take the first 40 minutes of ‘Superman: The Motion Picture,’ then take the last 40 minutes of ‘Superman II,’ and mix it in a blender. May not have that kick those crazy A.D.D. 2013 movie audiences crave so much, so we are going to add the over-kill, fast-paced moments from the ‘Transformers’ movies, the loud/obnoxious money-shot scenes from the Marval movies, and sprinkles of Christopher Nolan’s infatuation with philosophy, realism, and plot-holes - VOILA!, you just made a mix-bag-drink called MAN OF STEEL!
I am going to hold off a day or two from writing my inevitable long-winded review of ‘Man of Steel,’ (and a fair warning ahead of time, it will be wordy!) In fact, I will be writing a few features for my MovieFreak eBook at some point this next week.
What I can say now, though, the third act of ‘Man of Steel’ gave me a headache. I guess the belief that ‘less is more’ doesn’t exist anymore in Hollywood. Even Nolan restrained himself with just enough action in the ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy.
There were things I liked about ‘Man of Steel’ (pretty much the parts in the film that isn’t an reenactment of what’s been done before). There were a lot of things I didn’t care for (like the third act of the film, which relies heavily on being loud/flashy/and Michael Bay-like). The positive thing I can say, the cast is solid. Even though I will always cherish Christopher Reeves, this new Supes fits the part well (both in looks and charisma). I even enjoyed the scenes with Russel Crowe as Supe’s dad (even though I did not care for the ‘Star Wars’ prequel-esque prologue that starts the film off).
The overall - I don’t hate the new Superman at all, in fact, I admire its efforts and glad to see a new generation that will take in the classic superhero. I don’t love it either, and don’t intend on buying it on Blu Ray. I actually enjoyed the underrated ‘Superman Returns’ more. It might be boring with not as much action (though I argue that it had enough action, and that whole sequence with the airplane was a lot more exciting than majority of the new film). The film had heart, and was a perfect blend of today’s technology and yesteryear’s storytelling. It also made a perfect tail end to a trilogy (Superman: The Motion Picture, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, and Superman Returns).
‘Man of Steel’ is another great example why the superhero genre, and well, the summer season nowadays, BORES ME! At least half of the film, I felt like I was watching a video game with all the phoney CGI trickery. The filming/editing made it confusing what’s going on. And everything felt forced, rather than a natural story.
I would give it a 6.5 out of 10. I at least enjoy the first half.
I saw ‘The Purge’ today in theaters. I have to give the movie credit, it’s probably one of the most original ideas I’ve seen from the horror genre (though, I wouldn’t consider it horror per-say, maybe thriller?)
However, the idea/story/and movie deserved a better director. UGH! I kept imagining the fun David Fincher would have with the material. It takes what he did with ‘Panic Room,’ and ups the ante.
Problem I had with ‘The Purge,’ the way it was shot/the way it was edited/and the way it was handled. My biggest gripe about the horror genre these days, forgetting the remake mishmash and unoriginal idea knock offs - the fast-pace ‘Saw’ and ‘Crank’ editing. It’s irritating, it’s confusing to follow, and it’s just a mess overall. When you have one character attacking the other character, there’s no need to have quick edits.
I am starting to really appreciate Quentin Tarantino’s style of film-making. I would rather see a long-sequence shot (which is actually more difficult to set up and execute), rather than spliced edits every 2.2 seconds per scene (lazy film making, in my book).
So ‘The Purge’ is a good story, hiding behind a shitty movie. The story idea does make a damn good debate about things, and foreshadows where this country could go in the next ten years.
The late great Showcase Sterling was my first employer. I think I was part of the last generation that worked at age 15 (I don’t even believe employers hire 15 year olds, anymore). I was lucky. I was even more lucky, Showcase was the ideal heaven for me. I was a movie-buff, or should I say, ‘moviefreak!’ A movie theater to a movie buff is like home. I can’t explain it. But during those days, I really felt a connection to the movie theater. I worked there from November 1999 to February 2002. I had a lot of great memories there. I tried to write a short story during that time period, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t write exactly how I felt.
Then, about a year after my Showcase days, and knowing how much I was struggling coming up with an idea to write my Showcase story, a friend of mine (we shall call her, Yoda) suggested I should read a book by Wade Bradford. I picked up the book, read it, and abandon my story idea completely.
‘Damn,’ I thought. All that I was trying to write, Bradford accomplished perfectly. Though situations/characters/even setting is different. Bradford did a top-notch job writing a story about what it is like working at a movie theater, from a first-timer’s point of view. [For the record, I turned my idea I had for a Showcase story into a horror story called ‘HELLPLEX,’ which you can find on Amazon.]
From November 2005 to May 2007, I worked at MJR Marketplace Cinema. I wasn’t introduced to the online web-comic Multiplex.com until mid-half of 2006. Someone I worked with at MJR brought it to my attention, said how much I would love it, and how I reminded them of a main character called Jason, that appears in the comic.
I checked it out, and was hooked from the start.
Gordon McAlpin created a setting that’s realistic, characters that are believable, and situations that one could relate to. I’ve had my share of crushes at the theater. I was known as Mr. Sarcastic that over-analyzes movies. What was also nice about Multiplex.com, it was timely. I was working at MJR the same time he updated his comic weekly (or sometimes, bi-weekly).
It’s nice to know he is still at it. I am guilty for not following it as religiously as I used to. But I picked up his book (finally, sorry it took three years), and it brought be back to my movie theater days. The simplicity of tearing a ticket and telling a person where the movie is (and saying TO YOUR RIGHT or TO YOUR LEFT) a 100 times). The fun moments of cleaning a sold out show in the biggest house of the theater (sometimes by yourself). All the free passes/posters/and other cool stuff you want. I even miss the employee screenings.
Multiplex: Enjoy Your Show consists a handful of the first 102 comic strips that appeared online. It also features a nice little prologue McAplin created, just for the book edition/his own little commentary for the majority of the stripes, and bonus stripes. In other words, this graphic novel is like a kick-ass DVD collection, loaded with goodies.
Since this is the first book of a hopeful series, I hope at some point in McAplin’s life, he gets the chance to publish several more books, continuing the saga of working at Multiplex 10.
In the mean time, for those that currently work/used to work/or want to know what it is like working at the movies, this a perfect-perfect glimpse into that world.
The X-Men franchise reminds me of The Terminator franchise. The first two films in both, are solid cinematic science fiction gems. T2 is considered one of the best sequels of all time (and one of the best action movies of the 90s), X2 is considered one of the best comic book movies in its day, and for me personally, is a favorite because while it showcased top-of-the-line CGI and action, there was also depth/meaning/and a point to it all (unlike Avengers/Thor/ and Captain Planet*ahem*America).
The X-Men series, like The Terminator series, fell off the wagon once its director decided to pursue other projects. While the X-series doesn’t have a complicated back story of distribution rights like the Terminator franchise, it was mishandled by a studio that doesn’t know shit about continuity.
The third X-flick up the ante in action, but lacked the heart the first two films had. Wolverine (which I will get to shortly), is certainly not the worst big-budget tent-pole movie of all time (*ahem*Battlefield Earth*ahem*), but everything about it was so sloppy, made you wonder if it was a fan-made film on Youtube (Freddy vs. Ghostbusters, anyone?!?). Blame can be placed with how the bootleg print of the film was leaked online, that didn’t excuse the piss-poor production quality with the final cut of the film.
First Class is a damn good film, but had some issues (mainly, again, continuity within the film series).
There is a lot of hype over the next X-flick, this future/past, whatever the hell it’s called. I am excited for that, but who the hell is excited for yet another Hugh Jackman Wolverine film?!? I certainly am not. The trailers hasn’t sold me. I can almost bet you the critics won’t be raving it the same way X2 or First Class got praised. It might do well, sure, for a week. Well, I guess I found out the reason why they are doing it, despite it will be a continuity fuck-up, aligned with the last three X-movies: fan boys are gullible!
I am rambling. I should be writing my \m/ story, but I am taking a break reading a review I wrote back in 2009 in regards to the sloppiest attempts Hollywood (and Fox) has made: X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
MovieFreak SPECIAL EDITION! - Kindle edition by Keith Helinski, Dennis Landmann. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading MovieFreak SPECIAL EDITION!.
Updated with two new reviews (Star Trek Into Darkness/Iron Man 3), and a preview of \m/.
While I’m in the middle of my \m/ project, I do intend on writing a few more MovieFreak related pieces this summer (including an inevitable review of ‘Man of Steel,’ and I’d like to write a ‘Walking Dead’ related piece). I also like to write pieces/features on ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower,’ Harry Potter, Redlettermedia.com, my NoDQ days, and ‘Dexter’ at some point this year.
A lot of critics compare this film (and the last Trek film) to a cover band. That’s a fair assessment. A few years ago, I saw a Genesis cover band called The Musical Box. They sounded authentic for a cover band. Even the singer had the Peter Gabriel voice. Wasn’t exact or precise. And he certainly didn’t look like Gab. But he wore the same crazy outfits Gab used to wear back in the 70s, and was just as dramatic (even recited some of the same spiels in between the songs, the same way Gab did). Sure, there is really no need for the band to exist. But considering there will never be a Genesis reunion with Gab anytime soon, and he doesn’t play Genesis songs during his solo tours, it was really cool to see the band.
That’s the cool thing about cover bands.
On the other hand, how many Elvis impersonators/The Beatles cover bands are there in the world?!? I guess remakes/reboots can be labeled ‘cover bands.’ Some honor predecessors for a new generation to experience, while loving what they do. Others duplicate the exact sound/style without feeling (insert Omen/Psycho remake here). Most (if not, all) are all about the money. Movies are a business, plain and simple. And peak seasons are between May to August, November to December. That’s when the big, loud, bold, blockbusters get released week after week. Some are solid hitters. Some are sluggers. Every film exists sorely to earn a profit. No way getting around that.
Star Trek is a very well-known brand name with a HUGE fan base. But that fan base doesn’t generate enough green backs to earn much of a profit, no matter how many conventions one goes to. That was, until 2009, when J.J. Abrams directed a Star Trek film that a good majority of people can see without feeling ashamed. It was cool, sleek, and a perfect popcorn summer movie. Some fans weren’t too happy about that. Star Trek is anything but a popcorn movie. Putting debate aside, I loved the last Trek movie, and I love the new one. Screw the haters. ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ is a fine film. It wasn’t offensive or mediocre to me. In fact, it was damn good. You see, what I find more offensive, making new films of a series, and then forcing the old films to blend with the new films (rather than the other way around, *ahem*GEORGELUCAS*AHEM!*)
Because of the timeline issue from the last movie, J.J. (and crew) can reference any Trek lore that pleases them, and it’s never going to interfere with the older films/shows because they are of two different timelines/’verse. Yes, there are subtle (and obvious) references to previous Star Trek shows/films, including the very well respected/loved ‘Wrath of Kahn.’ Critics/fans are divided right there. Funny how just days after the last movie was released back in ‘09, fan boys demanded Kahn to be in the next Trek movie. Now that a reincarnation of some sort of KAHHHHNNNNN is in fact in ‘Into Darkness,’ fan boys are bitching that it doesn’t go along with the old series, even though this is a NEW series! You can point out Kahn’s ethnicity in reboot, but what about the BIG loop hole between ‘Space Seed’/’Wrath of Khan’ and Chekov that has been debated for YEARS, or the various looks of the Klingon’s between ‘Original Series’ and movies. For those that complain, just remember that new KAHHHNNNNN won’t be Photoshopped onto old KAHHHHHHNNNN’s body for a DVD/Blu Ray release.
Yes, it would have been nice to see a more atmospheric/quiet/philosophical follow up to the ZOOM, BANG, BOOM, BLAST reboot. I think that would have been more ballsy than a, MORE OF THE SAME, sequel. That was the beauty of all the Star Trek films (including the weaker ones), it all stretched in different directions without duplicating too much of each film’s success.
On the other hand, I enjoyed ‘Into Darkness’ a lot, the same way I enjoyed The Musical Box concert a couple of years ago.
I like J.J. Abrams. He reminds me of a younger George Lucas/Steven Spielberg. He makes movies that appeal to a wider audience, and does a combination of great quiet/somber scenes with very little dialogue/sound, with just a movie score in the background - followed by lots of money shots with LOUD sound. That’s what popcorn summer movies are all about, and Lucas/Spielberg were once masters of the summer cinema.
If this film has any indication of what J.J. will do to the Star Wars ‘verse, I think the force is in good hands.
There will be lens-flair (and lots of it). There will be heavy amounts of emotion (which the Star Wars prequels lacked). Characters will be super-duper smart (and will yell all the time). There will be a simplistic revenge plot of some sort. And the action will increase by 150%, making EMPIRE STRIKES BACK look as exciting as DEEP SPACE NINE!
A new Star Wars movie isn’t necessary. But a new Star Trek movie wasn’t necessary either. Yet, J.J. Abrams turned an irrelevant brand name into sexed-up movie(s) everyone who wouldn’t be cut dead at a Trekkie convention, would watch. There are only three people that I would hire to direct the unneeded Star Wars flick. J.J. is one of them.
In any rate, there are better directors than J.J. But there are also worse directors out there. I can’t imagine what a Michael Bay or Brett Ratner ‘Star Wars’ would look like. I expect people would be clinging onto ‘Phantom Menace’ if there was a Paul W.S. Anderson STAR WARS!
By the way, I like both Wars/and/Trek, so I am not bias to one or the other! For the fans out there, just remember with both brands; without the original Star Trek series, there would be no Star Wars movies. And without the Star Wars movies, there would be no Star Trek movies! Like it or not, they go hand to hand in a galaxy, far, far away; so live long and prosper!
‘Iron Man 3’ tells the story of Tony Stark, aka, IRON MAN, who seems to be haunted by too many money shots from last year’s ‘Avengers.’ He has anxiety attacks anytime he gets stressed, which leads to a thing most comic book heroes lack, character development/depth/and intrigue. The stakes are raised when a mysterious foe plays with Stark’s emotions, vulnerability, and ultimately, mind-fucks Stark. But we are talking about Robert Downey Jr., the man that can outwit anyone. And that’s what makes Iron Man the strongest of the Avenger bunch. Fan boys can debate me on that one, but let’s be honest here - Thor is not a great, intriguing, interesting, character. He can do so much stuff, sure. But as a story/movie, he is boring. I am sorry. Same applies to the ‘Captain America’ movie. I thought the choice of time period in the film was interesting. Had a cool ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ meets ‘The Rocketeer’ feel to it. But the Captain America character bored the hell out of me throughout the film. Not even going to discuss ‘Hulk.’
When I think of comic book movies, the word overkill comes to mind. And no offense to fan boys, but Marval’s ambitious set up of movies (phase 1/2/3?) is the very definition of OVERKILL.
I didn’t think a third ‘Iron Man’ flick was needed. He served his purpose in the first film. ‘Iron Man 2’ suffered from a rushed production, but like the first film, Downey Jr. was still Downey Jr., which made the second outing tolerable to watch. The only scenes I actually enjoyed out of ‘Avengers’ were the Downey Jr. scenes. With that said, what else is there to accomplish from a third stand-alone ‘Iron Man’ flick.
Well, first off, hire a competent writer/director, that can make redundancy, intriguing. Give the Tony Stark character some quiet moments to reflect, and use Downey Jr’s acting range for once in a Marval movie. Add little details that makes this film stand on its own without being just, ‘by-the-numbers’ cliche. Even the big reveal of who the real villain of the movie, was a nice touch to the film. May piss off comic book fans, whom want their over-the-top villain. For me, I admire the efforts in this film, more so than the efforts in ‘Avengers.’ Only thing I didn’t quite like, was the grand finale. I guess if you want a film to sell nowadays, you must have this Michael Bay-esque battle sequence. Since ‘Iron Man 3’ was trailing on a much more steady path, the ending was off-putting, but forgivable considering how well-directed the film is. Even the cute narration by Downey Jr. throughout the film, leading up to him (spoiler alert) talking to Dr. Bruce Banner on a couch (I guess during Banner’s free time from being the Hulk, he does therapy sessions).
In-between the predictable formula of every other comic book/super hero adaptation, there were sprinkles of Shane Black’s signature style throughout ‘Iron Man 3.’ In fact, if this movie wasn’t Marval Comics related, one could almost mistaken it from a ‘Lethal Weapon’ sequel!
What is unique about Black’s style is he likes to analyze a character as action is thrown at them. Mid-half of ‘Iron Man 3,’ I thought of Mel Gibson in the first ‘Lethal Weapon,’ trying to overcome personal issues as he is put on the spot. There were a few other Black-signature moments. Having this film take place around Christmas time (which Black has done in both ‘Lethal Weapon’ and ‘Long Kiss Goodnight.’) And the whole climax was true Shane Black action (silly but forgivable). I am a little disappointed the Stark’s alcoholism problem wasn’t in the film, but that’s Disney’s behalf (Shane Black went on record and said he wanted to put it in the film, which goes along with a) Stark’s character, and b) goes along with Black’s style, since that was another signature of his from ‘Lethal Weapon’). I liked this film over all the other Marval films, there was a lot more to the story than just the super-hero mishmash (which is what turned me off with ‘Avengers.’
Many of the super-hero films do attempt to analyze what makes a super-hero tick, what’s inside their head, etc-etc. To me, I think the best three psychological (and philosophical) attempts thus far is the Nolan ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy, X2, and Ang Lee’s underrated ‘Hulk.’ Many fan boys loathe ‘Hulk’ for many reasons. I admire the movie for many more reasons, because it went beyond the ‘Hulk smash’ cliche, and presented a deeper film about possessing super powers, and the pros/cons of it (as well as the fine line of good/evil with that power). MOST comic book movies shows us a super hero that saves the day, struggles with the balance of normality and abnormality, but never goes beyond their limitations. That’s what irritates me with the whole genre. Okay, we are seen a nice slow-mo money-shot of our favorite hero that is in the middle of battle, they look tired, and the audience is at the edge of their seat, uncertain (but certain) that the hero will bash the hell out of the bad guy, and will in fact save the day. *yawn* How does the hero handle the after-affects of a fight? What’s inside their mind emotionally and mentally? That’s what I liked about ‘Iron Man 3.’ It was the first Marval film, since the first ‘Iron Man,’ that presented a super-hero with EMOTIONS!
Let me sum up the review by saying, simply, Shane Black should write more comic book flicks. I would enjoy them more often!
When I think of comic book movies, the word overkill comes to mind. And no offense to fan boys, but Marval’s ambitious set up of movies (phase 1/2/3?) is the very definition of OVERKILL.
However, I found myself surprised that I actually enjoyed ‘Iron Man 3,’ more so than the over hyped ‘Avengers.’ Maybe it has something to do with the writer/director of ‘Iron Man 3.’
Funny how in-between the cliche/predictable formula of every other comic book/super hero adaptation, there were sprinkles of Shane Black’s signature style throughout the film. In fact, if this movie wasn’t Marval Comics related, one could almost mistaken it from a ‘Lethal Weapon’ sequel! Shane Black should write more comic book flicks. I would enjoy them more often!