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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.

The Covenant

Released: 09/08/06

Viewed: 1:10 pm 09/08/06

Starring: Steve Strait, Sebastian Stan, Laura Ramsey, Taylor Kitsch, Toby Hemingway, Jessica Lucas

Directed by: Renny Harlin

Sony Pictures Official Site of the Movie

About the Comic: So for the record, a gay wizard can make you hotter but only a gay genie can make two girls want to make out with each other. Or maybe Angelina Jolie.

The Review

I joked in the comic about the kind of appeal a movie like The Covenant has, but I think there’s some real truth to it. A lot of people have a side of them that really enjoys this kind of supernatural, witchcraft, secret society, historical legacy, power passed through the generations kind of set-up. Combine that with some sharp effects, and a hot young cast picked right out of the latest Abercrombie and Fitch catalog, and you’ve got a movie that will draw out a wide range of viewers. From the most socially awkward outcast that secretly wishes they had powers of their own to the most perverted old guy that wishes this movie was rated R so he could see a boob, this movie has something for everybody.

In the Ipswitch colony of Massachusetts, four young men with supernatural powers passed to them through their bloodlines, are popular, good looking, and on the verge of greatness. The eldest of the group, Caleb (Steve Strait), is about to ascend to the next level of power. This next level grants him power limited only by his imagination and how much his body can take, because the more you use the power, the faster your body deteriorates. It creates an interesting dilemma of restraint and necessity. You can do anything you want, but there is always a price to pay.

These boys are the decedents of four of the five founding families of Ipswitch. When the four meet the missing fifth descendent whose powers seem to be greater than all of theirs combined, suddenly their lives, and the lives of everyone they love, are instantly thrust into danger.

It’s a fantastic set-up of a story with a real mystical imagination that’s routed in its own history and mythology. What’s more, the story isn’t just wizards pounding away at each other with endless power and no consequences, there’s a constant threat in the air not just from the obvious enemy but from the characters themselves. Every time one of them uses their powers I found myself wondering if it was worth it. Fixing the broken windshield of your car was pretty cool, but was it really worth the life it took away from you? Actually those things can get pretty expensive and his car didn’t look cheap to begin with so it’s really a toss up.

While I really enjoyed where they were going with things I feel like there was a lot of territory left unexplored. They talk a lot about the overuse of power, but everyone is constantly using them anyway. There’s the looming threat of the ultimate cost but no one seems to be taking it seriously. They even go as far as to give us a peek at one of the ancestors that abused the power and aged to quickly (He’s a withered and wrinkled old beast with his own caretaker but for some reason he’s got really long yellow nails and black teeth. His caretaker can keep his decaying shell alive but he can’t put a toothbrush in his mouth twice a day), but the big picture seems lost on the characters. Perhaps that speaks more to the seductive nature of the power.

They also never really explore the limits of the powers. They use it for little tricks like starting cars and blowing girls skirts up, but the major battles consist of them shooting balls of air (or “force”) at each other. It looked cool but like the constant thought that they would die if they used their power, I had a nagging itch that there was a lot more they could be doing.

Even though I was looking for more material on the magic end of things, the film balances out quite well with a sweet love story. Newly transferred student Sarah, played with class and sass by Laura Ramsey, catches Caleb’s eye. Little does she know that the closer she gets to him the closer she gets to danger! Ok that sounds a little dramatic but it actually works. I wanted more magic but had this love story not been there I think the larger story would have suffered. It gives the heroes something to fight for.

Story wise, my one complaint is how the fifth descendent is handled. It’s pretty obvious off the bat who this mysterious character is. It seemed like a great opportunity to toss out a few red herrings and really get the audience guessing. I suppose with the already enormous cast a few extra players with their own side stories would have really muddled up the pacing. In a less complicated story it would have been a nice way to go. The truth is though, anyone who saw the trailer knew exactly who the fifth descendent was anyway, so it doesn’t even matter.

I think in the end that’s the ultimate let down of the movie. They gave away too much going in. All the most significant moments of horror and action are revealed in the promotional material for the movie. This is probably something that shouldn’t be addressed in the review but to me, to the average moviegoer, trailers and TV commercials are part of the experience. And when they tease you with the best of the best moments, it definitely takes something away.

The perfect example of this is the car crash. Caleb slams into a truck and then uses his power to disassemble the car, float it past the truck, and then reassemble coming to a screeching stop in the road. An awesome effect that really blew my mind the first time I saw it. Since that first time I’ve seen the effect at least 20 times as it seems to be the linchpin of the promotion for this movie, and I can understand why it is. It’s a new idea that really impresses. I know for a fact that some people are seeing the movie based on that effect alone. So it works. It’s impressing people and filling the seats. The problem is, I’ve seen it so many times that when I finally saw it in the context of the movie it lost all it’s unique appeal. Not only that but I’ve seen it so many times that I’ve dissected the effect down to the point where I don’t even like it that much any more.

The car hits the truck and explodes. As the car disassembles you can see the explosion so there was definite contact. The pieces of the car should be dented and distorted (think – The tractor trailer head on collision in The Matrix Reloaded) but they’re practically perfect, factory issue car parts floating in mid air. Perfectly cut, perfectly polished and borderline fake in the situation. But the state of the car is one thing, what really gets to me is… what happen to Caleb? Shouldn’t he be floating in mid air with the rest of whatever was in the car? Wouldn’t that have not only made more sense, but also been insanely cool looking? I guess what I’ve just described is significantly more expensive than they were willing or able to go, but it would have brought some real qulity to the scene and made it the type of effect that becomes ledgendary. Or at least the typ of effect I’d gladly watch 20 times.

I didn’t really mean to tear it apart like that. The effects still work and will wow a lot of viewers that haven’t been over exposed to them. But if you spend as much time in the theater as I do, you probably got over the big car explosion about 2 weeks ago.

There’s not much to complain about acting wise. The kids are universally better at being good looking than they are at acting, but only one of the bunch stuck out negatively. Sebastian Stan who plays the new kid in town with a dark secret starts off the movie very cool and casual. He basically hangs around and makes facial gestures as the others set-up their end of the story around him. Once he’s given some lines to say he reads them like a graduate of the Jon Lovitz school of overacting. It’s the only part of the movie that took me out of the moment and made me wince. But to be honest I’m not sure even the most talent actor could have pulled off a line like “Little Miss Muffet has gone away.”

But it’s not really about the acting as much as it is about them being pretty, and just in case you forgot how good looking they are there are plenty of dreamy eyed close-ups and awkwardly placed scenes to remind you. The boys are all on the swim team if for no other reason then to show us that they all did their sit-ups that morning. The girls hang out in their underwear and talk about boys before bed. That second one was totally awesome, but it felt like aggressive pandering. The girls were all done up. Who goes to bed wearing eyeliner?

I loved the set up and where they took things but The Covenant totally lends itself to a continued story. There are so many avenues worthy of exploration. That said, I do hope the film does well because I’d like to see a sequel or even a trilogy. There’s a lot of room to build. With our luck the film will do well, but not well enough to justify another theatrical release. We’ll get a couple of direct to video low budget disasters, maybe even an hour long drama on the CW! Well, not if Supernatural tanks. If they do make it into a TV show though, I say call it what the boys in the movie were nicknamed. The Sons of Ipswitch. It just sounds better.

Rating: 6 out of 10

The Covenant is a great popcorn flick, but I find myself wanting more. It’s the first part of a great trilogy. On it’s own it’s a nice night out, but as part of a larger story it could be something really special.

DVD Worthy?:

Not for me but I would say it’s border line. Had I not seen every cool part in the trailers before hand, the actual experience of the movie might have wowed me into thinking it was worth buying.

Trailer Hitch: The Reaping

The Reaping stars Hilary Swank in her first movie in a while that has no chance of earning her an Oscar but still looks kind of interesting. Swank plays a woman who encounters a return of the 10 biblical plagues and tries to justify them with scientific explanation. The big twist? Well some creepy little girl that may or may not be the devil or have something to do with the devil pops up.

I can’t in good faith support another creepy child movie but the larger story of the Reaping has some appeal and the special effects scenes with the locusts look really sharp. I’m hoping for a mature horror movie and not… say… something like The Wicker Man.

Non Movie Related Stuff.

There was a little drama this week in webcomics land and for once I was partially involved! I got flooded with e-mails on Thursday pointing out Chris G’s guest strip over at PVP. It resembled a similar joke to what I had done for the Snakes on a Plane strip from last month. I was a little shocked at first but the second I followed the PVP link to Chris’ site I instantly recognized his G-Man character and knew that this was in no way a case of plagiarism as some had suspected. Chris G is big time and I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts he’s never heard of JLCM before.

I decided to chalk it up to “great minds thinking alike”. Then Chris posted this news link and I found out about Than Soumas’ strip that was very similar and done some 5 months ago! It was a little embarrassing to say the least. For the record I had not heard of or seen Than’s strip, but over the past couple of days I’ve really been enjoying his stuff.

I guess we’ll chalk that up to “great minds thinking alike” and “there are no new ideas”. Anyway, my best to both Chris and Than who both did the joke better than me. I wish I had thought of using Snake Eyes.

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