December 12, 2012
Whatever happened to the Big Blue Boyscout? Watching the new Man of Steel trailer

Justin: OK, so first off. I need to start with a confession. I have a hard time not associating John Williams with Superman. And it probably says something about my age, but the the theme for the original Superman is what instantly starts playing in my head whenever I think of Superman.

Dennis: I hear you. This murmuring, ominous thrumming thing does not scream Superman to me.

Justin: I’M SCARED AS SHIT MAN. I guess it’s better than the BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAHM Inception sound that has colonized the mind of all movie composers. But this trailer is heavy, heavy on mood.

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July 9, 2012
Django Unchained, or, Why does Quentin Tarantino give us funny feelings?

Justin: What has Quentin Tarantino collectively done to our brains that makes it damn near impossible to not like what he does, at least on some level. Because there’s a lot to like about Django Unchained from this trailer, but there’s also a lot going on that just feels, well, it gives me a slight case of the Wiggins.

Dennis: I think I’m onto your mind grapes there. The thing that makes Quentin Quentin is the fact that he’s the movie geek of all movie geeks, mining the darkest, most obscure corners of movieland for ideas and then reinventing them with a virtuosic gift for dialogue and fiendishly clever plot-twistery. Whether it’s the heist film (Reservoir Dogs), blaxploitation (Jackie Brown), or pulp fiction or grindhouse (well, Pulp Fiction and Grindhouse), QT’s cinematic alchemy creates some peerlessly exhilarating movies. Some of the best I’ve ever seen, in fact. But in his last film, Inglorious Basterds, I found myself getting a little…something. (Sorry if all this technical jargon is too inside.) An arse-kicking exercise in Nazi-scalpin’ wish fulfillment, Basterds, packed as it is with the requisite virtuoso setpieces (the ones in the farmhouse and the basement bar are as good as anything he’s ever done), has a certain queasy…something underlying everything. You know what I’m getting at?

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April 1, 2012
Plot Device Power Rankings: Teen Beat (Literally) Edition

Dear, sweet, bow-happy Katniss, that girl can’t help but go a-murderin’ every other film that comes in her line of sight. It would be a bloodbath if not for the PG-13 rating, thank the gods.

This week’s Plot Device Power Rankings have indeed been bested by the Tween Juggernaut (actually, I’d watch a movie called “Tween Juggernaut”), but it’s also got plenty of new entrants just salivating to take it down. Like a documentary on bullying! How appropriate. And let’s not forget Greek Mythology, which if I understand it correctly boils down to Liam Neeson is punching things again. Man that guy likes punching.  


1.) The odds, and the bank, continue to be in Katniss’ favor, or Running Man: The Teen Years! (Last week: 1)

2.) Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson romp through Greek mythology in THREE DIMENSIONS. (Last week: XXVLI)

3.) A hooker with a heart of gold bests a fair tale princess. I’m just assuming that’s the only reason the world wanted a decidedly quirky Snow White remake (opposed to, you know, the other Snow White remake…) (Last week: N/A)

4.) Hollywood once again provides the answer to the question the public continues to forget: Channing Tatum? Him? (Last week: 2)

5.) Twixt and Twain the beast did romp, hither and yon, in 3D it stomped, it’s fiery orange ‘stache a message betrayed, ” GREAT SEUSS! WHAT CASH WE’VE MADE THIS DAY!” (Last week: 3)

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March 3, 2012
Plot Device Power Rankings: These kids and their damn movies

Look, we get that films are a family thing, a cultural pastime you should enjoy with the little ones in your life. If reading early can encourage a life of literacy, then watching movies early should make them better film watchers. Right? RIGHT? Aw damn who are we kidding. Hollywood produces a crap-tonage of movies for kids, either explicitly or implicitly, whether from the Dr. Seuss catalog, or just pulling a tried and true plot device out of the bin. Damn kids.


1) These kids have no idea who Theodore Geisel is, but at least they don’t have to watch Mike Myers in a horrifying cat costume and burning man hat (Last week: N/A since 2008 and Horton Hears a Who)

2) These kids are going to learn about life, love, and growing up by throwing an impossible raging party that SWAT should probably shut down.  AND they have no respect for Matthew Broderick and his monkey. Fucking kids. (Last week: Holds a ceremonial “Teen Party Comedy” ranking at 25)

3) Kids love soldiers. And their country. And are woefully vulnerable to quasi-real military adventures  (Last week: 4)

4) Tyler Perry helps kids cross the street. I’m assuming that’s what happens.  (Last week: 5. How does he DO THIS?)

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February 28, 2012
Today in awesome posters, or, “HEY GUYS, after we’re done leveling Manhattan in the name of saving humanity, who wants to go to Sizzler?”
Love that Tony Stark.
- “New Avengers poster brings superhero-level destruction to New York City” [IFC] 

Today in awesome posters, or, “HEY GUYS, after we’re done leveling Manhattan in the name of saving humanity, who wants to go to Sizzler?”

Love that Tony Stark.

- “New Avengers poster brings superhero-level destruction to New York City” [IFC] 

February 17, 2012
Plot Device Power Rankings: “The Spirit of Vengeance has bills to pay” edition

We are in the deep, harsh, soul sucking depths of the movie season, that time where the cutting cold of the weather outside still isn’t enough to make you walk into a movie theater. Still, the Hollywood’s not shutting down and Nick Cage has a shit ton of bills to pay. Seriously, that guy must own thousands in hair plug payments. Also, Reese Witherspoon is back. Consider that your fair warning.


1.) Marvel, and Nick Cage, are back for more cash. Flaming, ridiculous and utterly forgettable barrels of cash. (And for some reason Idris Elba is involved.) (Last week: N/A since 2007)

2.) Love and amnesia happens! And sometimes it doesn’t involve coconuts or wacky witchcraft. Sadly, it does involve ham-faced actors. (Last week: 2…or was it 1? WHO ARE YOU?)

3.) Captain Kirk and Eames romance each other through gun play and explosions. Oh wait, it’s not a gay spy love story? Reese Witherspoon is involved? (Last week: Just, really, Reese? I mean, HER?)

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February 11, 2012
Spider-Man is back and he brought President Bartlet with him? Should we be worried?

Ever so often there’s just not enough time to compose a thoughtful, reasoned, argument or, as is our case, start hammering away on a keyboard. In those desperate moments, Dennis and Justin have to chat it out, like bros. 

In today’s NSA wiretap transcript, we talk about the new trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man that debuted this week. It’s only been a few years since the web-slinger was seen on the screen, but now he’s back with a new batch of handsome (and pretty) faces, including Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Martin Sheen, and Rhys Ifans among others. All of that sounds nice, but is it any good? And is the world really ready (or in need of) another Spider-Man movie?

Justin: OK, first off, GWEN STACY!

Dennis: Garfield - suitably-gangly and unimposing. Stacy/Stone. Hot. Can we just say that?

Justin: I mean, I want to root for Gwen Stacy and I adore Emma Stone. But man…my nerd knowledge just makes me sad for the future.

Dennis: Is Spidey’s costume made of old ABA basketballs? 

Justin: With a fresh coat of paint from Sherman Williams! That thing is shiny!

Dennis: Dennis Leary saying the word ‘Unitard’ just sounds meaner than it should.

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February 6, 2012


Or, you know, The Avengers, or something. 

February 3, 2012
Plot Device Power Rankings: Not Harry Potter, Totally Unrelated, Completely Grownup Supernatural Thriller Edition

                                The 2012 box office continues to plod along, splashing in puddles while its studio parents, with mounting irritation, try to hurry it along because it’s getting late and jacuzzi payments are coming due.  Belabored metaphors aside, ain’t no one goin’ to the movies these days.  Could it be that this year’s movies, relying as they have on certain hackneyed plot devices, are uniformly disappointing?  Naaaah- can’t be that. I blame the critics. 

So, in this week’s utterly critic-proof crop plot devices, we’ve got a child star dressing up in gran’pa’s suit, low budget superheroes, aquatic mammalian feelgoodery, and more!

PLOT DEVICE POWER RANKINGS for WEEK 5 of the 2012 Movie Season!

1. Mega-popular boy wizard fights new supernatural evil in period big boy clothes (for 1/20th the box office take)  (Last week: 25 [10 on Broadway])

2. What, you think Liam Neeson won’t punch a wolf in the face?  ‘Cause he totally will. (Last week: 1)

3. How do you combat superhero-movie bloat?  Shoot it on your cell phone!  (Last week: a shaky 34)

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February 1, 2012
The lady and the anti-tank gun: Why aren’t there action roles for older actresses?

Movie Poster - The Bonnie Parker Story 1958Something remarkable happened at the box office recently when two, yes, TWO action movies fronted by women debuted. And one of them claimed the top spot. Yes, the Plot Device Power Rankings proved its supremacy, and legitimacy, once again, but that’s not the point here. What’s interesting is that we’ve got a ‘splodey, derivative, ludicrous and loud action flick winning the box office that doesn’t have a dude running the point.  

That won’t last long. Why? Because here come the dudes, again. Or, maybe we should say, out of respect, the older gentlemen. These aren’t your Will Smiths, Vin Diesels or even Shia LeBeoufs. No, these are actors who can clearly remember the Reagan and Carter administrations. Within a two week span a pair of Hollywood’s, uh, mature, statesmen will be bare-knuckling their way into theaters, with Liam Neeson leading the way with The Grey, followed by Denzel Washington in Safe House

Let’s just get it out of the way now and say both of these movies give off the air of uninspiring energy drinks. Sure, they’re filled with blinding amounts of caffeine, enticing food dyes and the promise of brief, enjoyable highs. But they’re ultimately empty. Unless, of course, you pop a big, even aging, name on it.

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