Love crappy movies but are too ashamed to admit it? Are you a big Rob Schneider fan but you're tired of being burned? Not sure if you want to waste your money on the same old movie? That's why you have Joe.
Joe Loves Crappy Movies is by Joseph Dunn. Joe willingly goes to see the very worst that Hollywood has to offer. Whenever a crappy movie comes out Joe will be there to see it, make fun of it, and actually review it. Nothing is safe, and nothing is sacred. From the big budget action disasters to the low brow fart based comedies, to anything starring Martin Lawrence? Joe will tear it apart.
With each entry you'll get not only a comic poking fun at the movie, but also a detailed review. Joe's not educated in film or cinematography or acting, he's just a guy that draws comics and likes movies. So if you're looking for the everyman perspective and a little joke in comic form... you're in the right place.
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Bruce McGill Edgar Ramirez, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ayelet Zurer, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt, Eduardo Noriega
Directed by: Pete Travis
The Official Site of Vantage Point
Discuss Vantage Point on the boards!
It feels like eons that I’ve been waiting for Vantage Point to be released. Since the trailers began running sometime at the beginning of last summer I fell hook line and sinker for the their sleek presentation of a terrible terrorist attack of a political event, told form the perspective of 6 different people. I’m a blockbuster sucker for a good explosion or even the hammy performance of one man leaning over his injured buddy screaming for a medic, but it was truly Vantage Point’s method of storytelling that had my ticket-buying fingers itching to get to work.
Vantage Point's captures the same moment in time as told from many different perspectives. So in the tale of this bombing of a Presidential speech we get to see the same 20 minute period as viewed by a news crew, a secret service agent, the terrorist mastermind, a local cop, an innocent bystander with a video camera and the President himself. This is a classic form of storytelling that's been begging to be used more. The problem is that few people can really do it right. Vantage Point's is not one of them.
In comparison to Rashômon, the Japanese classic that set the standard or even Hoodwinked, the visually stunted but well told children's cartoon, Vantage Point's fells amateurish. It's like the overproduced GEN-X version of what this kind of story is supposed to be and ends up being nothing but a well cast, choppy, film school offering of one of the most interesting forms of storytelling in cinema.
This movie is all about the editing. That's the real story here and as a big project, Vantage Point is an editor’s wet dream. The way the stories intermingle and the way each has to embrace the feel and focus of one singular character is a challenge any professional would drool over.
Whether the editors of the project were passionate or not about taking on the challenge they put their worst foot forward with presentation. Things start off harmlessly enough in the first run through of the scenario, seen as we would see it normally - from the perspective of a worldwide news organization. More specifically from within the directing bay of the crew, lead by Sigourney Weaver sent to cover the Presidential appearance.
That goes fine and it lays out the primary points of the story efficiently and quickly. The second perspective however is a disastrous piece of hack cutting that took some time to recover from. It's from the perspective of Denis Quaid's character, a secret service agent with some celebrity after taking a built for the big man a year earlier. His shakes and jitters are the first signs that he's not quite sure if he's ready to be back in the saddle. These shakes and jitters are represented in the editing. Literally.
Distressed transitions and grainy flashbacks make this segment unbearable. It's like being in the head of a Vietnam vet who always secretly dreamed of being P. Diddy. This was easily the least successful of the perspectives despite the fact that it features Quaid, a likeable and powerful presence on screen. Things eventually get better but it took a good long while to recover from the hackneyed shakes. Hell, even the bouncy, bumping, hand held video camera segment was easier to stomach. Perhaps because it featured Forest Whitaker fresh of his Oscar winning performance in The Last King of Scotland.
Weird transitions become a theme though. Most notably between the each persons perspective. When one person's story ends and it's time to rewind back, the film actually rewinds. Literally. It does so quickly, stalling only long enough to show you some key moments of the past story. One could argue that this method is a great use of recapping the audience or forcing them to look at certain things they should have looked at twice. I find it gimmicky and intrusive.
Audiences are more sophisticated than that. We don't need a slap in the face to remind us of how the game is played. The period of time is so short and the stories overlap so much that a minimum is required to make a recognition that a jump back has been made. A time stamp or even just a common audio burst is all we really need.
Beyond that the movie is heavy on recycling. Identical pieces of footage are used in multiple perspectives, which just doesn't make any sense to me. The definition of a different perspective is a second, third, fourth, fifth and so on angle of any situation. It's great that people are seeing the same things, but they couldn't possibly have been seeing them the same way. Why not just set up more than one camera to cover it properly? It's this technique that truly haunted me during the film and wouldn't let me forget and forgive that lousy second perspective.
The music video quality cuts, for the most part are limited to Quaid's segment and every wrong move made in that sequence eventually begins to fade after a competent second half and incredible car chase in the movies final act. That's pieced together brilliantly and is definitely the high point of the film from the editing bays perspective.
In the final segments when the story starts to reveal itself, as predictable as some of it is, it’s actually kind of fun. I wouldn’t call it “mind blowing” or even clever, and I definitely wouldn't call it a good use of the method of storytelling, but it’s definitely an exciting night at the movies. In part because as things start to be revealed the action gets amp’ed up. Besides that intense car chase we see a couple bombs go off and an extended sequence of a proper hitman at work. Covertly and competently kicking all kinds of ass.
Now is that enough to save this movie? Frankly, no, because as a whole Vantage Point it's obvious, lazy and disappointing. A sad representation of how well this style of storytelling can really work. It’s not even a representation of how really good action can work. The truth is though that you probably won't be bored by it. While it doesn't quite reach the gold standard of what it could be Vantage Point fights diligently and successfully to be exciting and entertaining.
Rating: 5.5 out of 10 - Vantage Point did quite well this weekend with 24 million dollars. Not bad for a politically themed thriller considering that similarly themed movies like Rendition and Lions for Lamb, even with bigger names on the marquee, were barely able to scratch that kind of return in their whole run let alone opening weekend. (Lambs grossed 35 million and Rendition grossed just under 10 million domestically in their full runs)
Is this a sign that this classic form of storytelling will be butchered on a franchise level?!
You know what? I kind of think that Vantage Point will make its way into my collection at some point, for a couple of reasons. First, I have a huge DVD problem. I’m a sucker for a bargain and I often find myself wandering around Blockbuster on my lunch break convincing myself that the 4 for $20 deal is a good enough reason to own NEXT.
Second, deep down inside I know that the sloppy editing, the barely there plot, all of it will play a lot better a second time through. I hate to call it a problem with expectation but honestly, knowing that it’s not going to be as awesome as it could be or as I want it to be will actually make the experience more enjoyable. And Vantage Point's is a fine candidate for that… as long as it’s less than 9 bucks.
Why not check out all three of the fantastic web comics that I lifted characters from today to help fill out the strip!
If you missed it last night, we did a quick post Oscar recap on the Triple Feature. We wanted to get our live reactions about the winners and the losers. It's a quick 30 minute show where we expand on the lack of surprises, 80 years of Oscar, and how my wife sucks at snowball fights. Unless Tom cut that part off. See, you should totally be listening live!
We’ll be doing a second show tonight, as we do every Monday night where we’ll be spending some time on the weekends big releases Vantage Point and Be Kind Rewind. I’m hoping as well to spend a little bit of time talking about the situation with Wolverine Origins. What the hell is going on with that movie? They seem to be adding a new big name costar every 40 minutes. Not just recognizable celebrities like Ryan Reynolds, Will I Am from the Black Eye Peas and Dominic Monaghan from LOST, but also recognizable characters like Gambit, Deadpool and Beak. It’s getting cameo crowded. FAST.
We’ve been discussing it on the boards and I’m afraid that it’ll be too busy. Cameo’s are great, and the way Marvel Comics (the company that owns all these characters) has set themselves up in the movie industry, they’re free to mix and mingle different properties in different films. Rumors of characters like Nick Fury (played by Sam Jackson) and Tony Stark (AKA Iron Man played by Robert Downey Jr.) appearing in both the Iron Man film as well as Edward Norton’s The Incredible Hulk relaunch next year are encouraging, but only because they’re keeping it simple. Wolverine seems to be including some of these folks in hopes of setting up a spin-off off of a spin-off. I’m not opposed to that, because honestly… I love me some comic book movies, but they have to keep form being obvious about it. Keep it natural, don’t ruin the movie you’re working on.
Disagree with me? Tune in tonight and let me know why. That’s all for now but I’ll be back later this week with a few more comics, hopefully one focusing on the big awards season! Thanks for reading, guys!
Live Journal/Myspace/Rotten Tomatoes/Buzz Comix/Top Web Comics/Comics on the Ipod/The Webcomics List/Online Comics/Wikipedia/Comixpedia/JLCM Map!
Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - The Introduction
Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.
First Appearance - Fever Pitch
Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior
Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.
First Appearance - V for Vendetta
Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison
Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.
First Appearance - 300
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe
Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.
First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet
Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.
First Appearance - Four Brothers
Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.
First Appearance - Ultraviolet
Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.
First Appearance - The Producers
Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!
Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?
First Appearance - Saw IV
Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V