Monday, April 29, 2013

Dazz's Nerdfest Handbook 2013: A Summer Movie Mega-Guide--Part II

Woah woah woah—where’s part one of the Nerdfest Handbook?! Right here, sheesh.

World War Z: Brad Pitt deals with a bunch of people falling all over themselves just to touch him—just like his everyday life.
   If you were wondering where you were going to find your obligatory jump-to-the-helicoptor-and-grab-it-by-the-edge-because-god-forbid-it-wait-two-more-seconds scene, this movie looks like it has about five of those, so it should fill your quota for the whole summer. It also has Brad Pitt fighting massive waves of zombies while taking care of his massive waves of hair. Seems pretty straight-forward, really.
   Nerd-o-meter: 7/10
   Release: June 21

Despicable Me 2—Because this.
   Definitely feels like the writers know why people liked the first one—because of those strung-out yellow guys! They were awesome! Now, they are all over the sequel, and it might actually be worth seeing. At the very least, if you take a girl to this one, she will be happy. Girls like the little yellow guys. I promise.
   Nerd-o-meter: 5/10 (technically, it is still about supervillains)
   Release: July 3

The Lone Ranger—Oh wow, Johnny Depp covered in paint and doing that weird “Am I drunk or am I high right now?” schtick again.
   Have you noticed that Depp has been headlining this movie when he is not even the main character? Armie Hammer is the Lone Ranger, and Depp is his sidekick Tonto, yet, Depp appears to be taking the lead in the trailers, posters, and the billing order. The style of this one looks slick, but they seem to be straying far, far away from the original series (which might be good, because it was . . . well, racist) in terms of the dynamics between the Ranger and Tonto. Armie is being shafted though.
   Nerd-o-meter: 6/10
   Release: July 3

Grown-ups 2: You guys pumped or what?!
   Just kidding. No one cares.
   Nerd-o-meter: irrelevant
   Release: HA.

Pacific Rim: Not going to lie, when I saw the trailer I was really pumped because I thought it was going to be a new Godzilla movie . . . use that knowledge how you will.
   Giant robot-mechs vs. giant aliens/monsters/the Loch Ness monster/Godzilla—that is basically what you have here, with a little bit of Idris Elba for the diversity factor and some Charlie Day for comic relief. Remember when Battleship released, and people thought, “Wow that looks terrible, they had to use Rihanna? How low can one stoop?” This is essentially the same thing, only they ran out of aliens to use and robots to use so the writers thought, “Screw it, if we just make everything bigger, they cannot ding us for that, right?” I would rather listen to Rihanna than see this movie, and I hate Rihanna. I do not even think she is hot anymore (fell off the Power Rankings long ago). A Godzilla movie would have been better, and the title of this one sucks too! Pacific Rim?! I feel like I am turning on the Discovery Channel—ridiculous.
   Nerd-o-meter: 8/10
   Release: July 12

Only God Forgives: Guys, watch this. Or this. This is another option.
  I know, that was all the same link. Just wanted to make sure no one was throwing me the finger and ignoring my hyperlinks here. I work hard on those. Anyway, that is aside the point, the point here is: how freaking awesome was that?! Ryan Gosling being a BAMF, some guy being stabbed with chopsticks, a one-on-one martial arts fight scene, tuxedos, katanas, and that music. Wow.
   Some background: the director here is the same guy who did 2011’s Drive (my number-five movie of all time, and yeah I have rankings that I may or may not update weekly, shut up), and this seems to be in that vein of slick-throwback meets super-violence. Do I think it is the same? No. I think Gosling is going to be worked more, and I see a lot more expansion in terms of characterization (the driver, after all, was really more of a symbol than a fleshed-out character). This could be the cult hit of the year, and if you go to theaters looking for something different than the usual popcorn-action, than this is your flick. This is Dazz’s top pick this summer. Sign me up.
   Nerd-o-meter: 3/10 (by no means is it nerdy, just not for everyone)
   Release: July 19

The Wolverine: Basically a filler-flick to carry us until this hunk of awesome hits theaters.
   The first Wolverine movie sucked. It would have been fine, but then they took one of the best superheroes ever (Deadpool), ruined his backstory, took away his ability to talk (one of the highlights of the Deadpool comics was his constant chatter with the reader), and then *spoiler* just up and killed him off. I wanted more Ryan Reynolds cutting bullets in half, but no—Hugh Jackman wanted the franchise for himself. If you have seen the trailer for this one, then you know zero additional knowledge. It told you nothing. I can be excited over Wolverine, but so far this marketing has been crap. Cross your fingers, folks.
   Nerd-o-meter: 9/10
   Release: July 26

300: Rise of an Empire: You know when you start writing, and at first you are really going strong, and then you just sort of hit that wall? Just hit it. Man oh man, this is a long one. Two-parters are ill-advised, friends.
   The first one was badass with a lot of badass people doing a lot of badass things and occasionally there would be this touch of random nudity like, “Oh, hey, I do not think we have done enough to earn us an R-rating yet, so here is a nipple” or something.
   I cannot do this right now. That high I had from Only God Forgives has worn off considerably. Let me take five.
   Nerd-o-meter: 7/10 (it’s a lot of fighting and babe-ness, what more do you want, dude?)
   Release: August 2

Elysium: Guys! Matt Damon is bald! Look!
   Ok, so recover from that for a second, but check it out. Earth sucks and is now essentially a slum for the world’s poor and disadvantaged, and above is some space-station where all of the rich live. They have everything up there from total peace to a cure for cancer. Basically Matt Damon is going to shoot some stuff and reunite Earth and bring to the poor what is now only reserved for the rich. It is by the guy who did District 9, and oh man it looks sick. It is totally one of those more intelligent sci-fi flicks, but it looks pretty dope-on-a-rope (is that a thing? Nope, not even a little bit).
   Nerd-o-meter: 9/10 (once you see the trailer you have a better sense of what we are dealing with here, but man it looks awesome!)
   Release: August 9

Kick-ass 2: It has a villain called the Mother F***er—just a prelude to this bit.
   The first Kick-ass was pretty solid. It was really stylized and gloriously irreverent and Nicholas Cage *spoiler alert* was lit on fire—a lot was going for it. This one is a direct sequel, complete with Jim Carrey as Captain Stars and Stripes. Personally, this one is about Chloe Grace Moretz—back as Hit Girl—and how she will probably keep being responsible for the most brutal kills of the movie. This one seems bound to follow the first one as a cult hit, and seeing as how at this point your only way into this franchise is through the comic books, the original movie, or the entire Nic Cage anthology, it is going to be an absolute nerd-fest.
   Nerd-o-meter: 9/10
   Release: August 16

The World’s End: The apocalypse but British.
   Remember how awesome Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz were? The correct answer was that, oh yeah, those were really darn awesome. Or, if you want to quote the latter, they were “F***ing off the chain!” The World’s End is the final flick in the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy written by lead actors Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, and man, if the first two are any indication, it is going to be a rousing good time. About a group of friends who attempt to do a pub crawl during the apocalypse—sounds like something blog-worthy. Check and mate.
   Nerd-o-meter: 5/10 (obscure, but awesome—see the other ones if you have a chance)
   Release: August 23

   Wow, what a time since Summer of Nerd back in 2011—look at that lineup! This is one of the nerdiest summers ever, and darn it if the movie-lover in me is not on pins and needles in anticipation. Great books-to-movies, comics-to-movies, franchise-enders and franchise-starters. This is going to be one to remember, so have that inner nerd of yours hitch up their pants, slap on the sunscreen, and push up their glasses—they are going to want to head on out to see these.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Dazz's Nerdfest Handbook 2013: The Complete Summer Movie Guide for the Dork in Everyone

   If you go way back with this blog, you might remember that the first post I ever wrote was in honor of what I called ‘Summer of Nerd 2011’. It looked at the headlining movies of the summer in all of their superhero-making and robot-fighting and over-the-top-explosion-fest greatness. Each movie had a quick blurb and a ranking on the Nerd-o-meter (patent pending). It is an According to Dazz classic, if I say so myself, and for this summer, which probably features the most nerd-gasmic lineup of flicks in recent memory, I decided to pull a throwback move and dip into the greatest hits collection. So I present to you the shiny new edition of Dazz’s Nerdfest Handbook 2013 (In two parts, but that sounds bad and I did not want to put it in the title because I thought people would whine about it, ok?).
   Make sure your glasses are taped on tight and your pens are ready to take notes—this is going to be a good one, friends.

Ironman 3: I know Northwestern has another month and a half of classes when it comes out, but can I just have a dream, here? Sheesh.
   Weird thing I noticed—Ironman 3 is a parallel to Robert Downey Jr.’s career path. Ironman starts out strong with all the fame and glory and drugs and heroism and women-folk, then he goes a little too hard, gets a little too coke-y . . . sorry, that’s cocky, loses everything, and goes on a path of redemption to reclaim everything he loves. Bam. Send that to, fools. This will be another fun ride though, and with luck, the more serious tone will give Downey some chances to use his acting chops. What a way to start the summer.
   Nerd-o-meter: 8/10
   Release: May 3

The Great Gatsby: Inspiring a new generation of read—oh come on, who are we kidding?
   When I heard of this coming out last year, my first thought was that Leo should be Gatsby—and oh man, did they ever deliver. What you have to understand though, is that the rest of the cast is highly underrated. Carey Mulligan has always been high on my Celebrity Crush Power Rankings (yeah, in caps, and this is still going to be an article sometime soon, I just have to figure out how to not sound like a freaking pervert when I write it . . . not that I have tried and failed, in that respect . . . this parenthetical needs to end), and Tobey Maguire is a solid Nick. After all, he is not the hero, he is just there to tell you what is going on, and I do not want anything else out of my Tobey Maguire. This one has serious potential—it might finally be the Gatsby movie we are looking for.
   Nerd-o-meter: 6/10 (unless you are into the whole book thing—then it is bumped up to a seven)
   Release: May 10

Star Trek Into Darkness: Wait—is that like ‘Star Trek [pause], Into Darkness?’, or like a Star Trek straight-up into the darkness?
   I did not see the first one. There, ok? I said it. The posters look pretty badass though, and my good pal J.J. Abrams (I would have used Jay Jay, but he asked that I keep things professional on the blog—cool with me) has rarely steered us wrong. The Trekies should be excited though—the first one had great reception, and this one looks even more epic and explosion-y than the first reboot (and yeah, I am in a small phase where I add ‘y’ to things to make my own adjectives—sue me).
   Nerd-o-meter: 9/10
   Release: May 15

Fast and the Furious 6: You can tell they ran out of different ways to say ‘Fast and Furious’ so they just pulled a DGAF Friday and slapped the number up there.
   First two were pretty good, Tokyo drift was okay but it had the quarterback from the Friday Night Lights movie in it so thirteen-year-old Tyler was excited, the fourth one was crappy and I hear Fast Five was alright but I did not care enough to see it. Basically, when you run out of crazy vehicles to use and you start throwing around tanks, you should realize you have hit a wall in the writing department and it might be time to hang up a franchise, no matter how much money it makes or how many professional wrestlers you can wedge into the cast. Sorry Vinny Diesel, but if you ask Dazz, it is time to move on. You peaked early with this one.
   Nerd-o-meter: 5/10 (just because some people might just be there to see if the Rock is going to throw in a “People’s Elbow” in there, because at the sixth movie you can really expect anything, right?)
   Release: May 24

The Hangover: Part III: Goddammit they made me use a double-colon. Gah look at how bad that looks. I am so embarrassed.
   The first movie was some quality comedy—it had the right mix of shock humor and quotable lines and one memorable character. The second movie was the same movie as the first one, but without any of the quotable lines (BAM—pop quiz: quote a line from Hangover: Part II, you cannot do it, can you? See, told you) and an absolute butchering of Zachy G’s character—he went from loveably aloof to straight-up idiotic, and now we have to deal with a whole ‘nother movie of his “Wait—so I should drive the expensive speedboat onto land without stopping? Seems like something an overused cash-out character would do” shenanigans. No thank you. At least it has SeƱor Chang in it.
   Nerd-o-meter: 4/10 (I couldn’t even make a grammatically-correct heading—could this be any lamer?)
   Release: May 24

After Earth: Pursuit of Happyness 2—now they really are homeless . . . was that bad taste? That was bad taste.
   How do you tell a M. Night Shyamalan flick? Plot twist! How do you tell a super-crazy ultra-meta Shyamalan movie? There is a plot twist in the trailer. Now, I love me some Will and Jaylen Smith, but man if their combined talent is wasted on some oh-by-the-way-this-village-is-in-modern-day-and-there-has-inexplicably-been-no-planes-or-helicoptors-flying-overhead-for-the-last-20-years-esque-piece-of-garbage movie . . . I will be a little upset. Man, can you believe that The Sixth Sense came out fourteen years ago? Yeesh! And by the way, is there any confirmation that his middle name is actually Night? Is that a joke? Sorry, I am venting. Let me breathe. Ok, done.
   Nerd-o-meter: 7/10 (it is a sci-fi after all, but it has more points if you are into stupid half-assed endings—sorry, I said I was done. For real now)
   Release: June 7

This is the End: Ok, everyone be cool, but we have our first Emma Watson sighting. Let’s appreciate her for a second . . . wow. Currently at the top of the Celebrity Crush Power Rankings.
   Indeed, Miss Watson does indeed have a cameo in this comedy, along with pretty much every other actor you can think of—check out the trailer, pretty awesome, right? The one thing that worries me about this is that aside from all the guests, the main crowd of this one is pretty much the run-of-the-mill white comedy cast, except oh wait, we need a black guy? Let’s call Craig Robinson. Good to see James Franco in his natural habitat though—blazing it up, I mean.
   Nerd-o-meter: 8/10 (guys, Emma Watson)
   Release: June 12

Man of Steel: It makes every nerd a man of steel, if you know what I mean . . . yeah, someone’s going to send me a letter.
   I am calling it right now. This is 2013’s Inception, Dark Knight, what have you. All the pieces are in place. We have great writing, great casting, great action-oriented directing, Chris Nolan onboard too . . . this might be the Superman of our dreams, friends. Sure, the Supes is pitted against General Zod and not Lex, but who cares? If the trailer is any indication, we are going to have some absolutely exceptional dynamics with Superman’s foreignness to Earth, and Zod is the perfect villain to play off of that. We might even have out first really great look at Jor-El (It’s Russell Crowe!) and the fall of Krypton. This is Clark Kent like we have never seen him before, and man, I am pumped. Look at this. If it ends up flopping, at least it wins trailer of the whole freaking year, right? So dope. Gah. 
   Nerd-o-meter: 10/10 (seriously, look at all the references up there!)
   Release: June 14

The Bling Ring: Well I know why I’m going, thank you very much.
   Emma Watson as a lead actress for a solid . . . let’s look at the runtime here . . . 95 minutes. Do you even need anything else for me to sell you on this one? Ok, fine, jerk—she plays a badass chick who leads a band of other badass chicks in a plot to rob the homes of celebrities. I will not even hyperlink to this one, you know why? Because I know you are googling it right now, fool.
   Nerd-o-meter: 5/10
   Release: June 14

Monsters University: Yeah I put it on here. Come at me.
   I will admit, I was really worried initially. I wished (like I still do with Finding Nemo) that they had just let it alone, but after all the promotions and the trailer and the yearbook photos, I am starting to be sold. It also has one of my dark-horse Celebrity Crushes in Aubrey Plaza, and someone who also shares my tendency to break into a high-pitched voice when he gets excited in Charlie Day (Wow, that is an overshare—did I mention it is 1:00 am right now? This is my Friday night now. Hello ladies . . . ?). It might not be a splooge of nerd-ness, but you know you will at least consider going, and I will too. It is either going to be a home run or a strikeout, and with Disney-Pixar back at it, I am confident in leaning on the former. Cannot wait for Mike and Sully to be back, friends.
   Nerd-o-meter: 6/10
   Nostalgia-o-meter: 10/10
   Release: June 21

What’s that you say?! There are more movies?! Never fear—we know! Part II is coming soon, check back in a few days!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Our Deepest Fear--Why We're Struggling with Boston

   I don’t want to be a part of history anymore.
   That is what most of thought when we were kids, right? We wanted to be a part of history. We wanted to be there. We wanted to look back and feel like we were involved, that we made a difference, that we had a say.
   My memories about 9/11 are there, but they are faded and aged by time. My recollections of Hurricane Katrina bring back thoughts of a distant disaster—a picture of a water-soaked world far away from the deserts of Arizona. The journalist inside me, for the latter part of my life, wanted to taste history. No longer.
   Details are still coming in about the bombings in Boston. The numbers might be comparatively small, but they are still growing. The injuries keep coming in. The crisis grows. Incidents seem to be creeping beyond the boundaries of the marathon—not much is certain. What also is not certain is how we will feel about this day in months and years down the road. Unfortunately for all of us, we know how we feel right now.
   I was sitting in class when my phone buzzed. It was ESPN—something about explosions at the marathon. My first thought was that there had been an accident. Uh oh. I went to their website, but their meager story showed that they knew little about what had happened. Maybe someone else knew. I texted a good friend of mine and searched around. The New York Times had little to add, and MSN was not much better.
   I looked to Facebook—someone could have found something I missed. My buddy texts me back, he found footage from the marathon’s own feed of the finish line. As I was about to search again, I saw the first sign of trouble. Someone had posted on Facebook that two bombs had been detonated at the marathon. I double-checked the reports and there was nothing about an IED or a bomb or anything. She had assumed from the term “explosions.”
   Within 30 minutes, the Associated Press quoted a woman who described the experience with, It just blew. Just a big bomb, a loud boom.”
   Within the hour, MSNBC brought on a terrorism analyst.
   Within 90 minutes, CNN name-dropped Al Qaeda.
   Within two hours, the New York Post detailed that a Saudi man had been detained, and then almost immediately deleted the report.
   When I was in Boy Scouts, the first thing they always told us to do in an emergency was, of course, not to panic. America’s news outlets, voices of reason, candidness, and level-headed reporting, all panicked. What are viewers at home supposed to do when a journalist, figures who we are supposed to trust and rely on for information, are spewing blind accusations of conspiracies and calculations and revived terrorist cells? It is irresponsible. It is desperate. It is sad, really.
   Look where we are. Our safest places no longer feel safe. Our homes, our schools, our movie theaters—all have become reminders of despicable violence and indescribable pain. Now, the finish line of a marathon, a place of victory and triumph, hard work and perseverance, renewed hope and strengthened courage, is just another potential killing ground. This is the United States—the country where your ancestors and my ancestors came for a better life. No one expected this culture of fear and panic. No one asked for this. That is what we have though.
   It is not your fault, and it is not CNN or MSNBC’s fault either. We are a product of a world where technology, laws, and other developments have brought threats into our lives that we simply did not think were possible before. America has adapted to the times, and as a result we have responses like we did today—wild theories that this is them or this is that. The unknown is now our deepest fear. We have more to fear now than fear itself.
   Events like today make us feel vulnerable. When the people we rely on cannot help us, it can feel like all we are doing is sitting here and waiting for more horrible things to happen. It sucks.
   We learned today an unfortunate truth: we still scare easily. This was a horrible thing, to be certain, but that is no excuse to finger-point and scare people even further. Fortunately, as we are so fond of saying these days, we have the capacity to change.
   We hit a wall today late in the race, and now we need to find our second wind. We can turn this into a lesson of what modern times have done to the American psyche. The world is a different kind of dangerous now, but we can adapt. We can pray that there will be no next time, but in case there is, we can handle it with calm heads, fast feet, and steady hands.
   America has been hit harder than this. This country was born from battles, and right now, this is just the next one. We can choose to be haunted by this, or we can choose to pick ourselves up and look at that finish line. It is still there. Maybe it is farther than a lot of us thought, but it is still there all the same.
   This place is different, but it is still worth fighting for. We have put a lot of heart into this—sweat has been spent, blood has shed, and tears have flowed. Now, let’s finish this. Let’s finish the race.