Death of the Critic

Superpowers and Storytelling

Written by: Tom Blaich

avengers_2


We love our superpowered heroes. Flight, strength, laser beams and more in the hands of people just like us. And the more powerful that they can be, the better. But as our heroes cross the limits of humanity, it adds more and more complications to how the story fits together, and how we, as an audience, can relate. When you start looking at superpowers, the very laws that govern our reality start to break down, and writers have to deal with the way in which this affects the plot. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there are multiple characters capable of warping all of reality to their whim, unkillable monsters, stones that embody pure power, literal gods, and extradimensional entities that rule over time itself. Yet so many of these reality breaking characters play by the rules of our normal universe.

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Why Did I Watch That? - The Three Musketeers

Written by: Tom Blaich

three_musketeers_poster


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me. I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

Paul W.S. Anderson movies all kind of look the same at a certain point, no matter the subject matter. Lots of gratuitous slow-mo, lots of unnecessary and poorly implemented CGI, and lots of Mila Jovovich being unnecessarily sexy when it is completely uncalled for, and more than a little badass. So giving him
The Three Musketeers p[property to play with, an iconic story of the heroes of France, is more than a little disappointing to see. What’s more, giving the role of D’Artagnan to the baby-faced Logan Lerman is questionable.

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Product Placement: Realism vs. Marketing

Written by: Tom Blaich

subway-hawaii-five-o.0


It is a familiar experience for anyone who has watched a movie or binged a TV show: the main character will be talking, walking down a busy street and in the background, we will see storefronts plastered with ads for the same few companies, Coke or Taco Bell or some other massive corporation. Often, these ads don’t even stick out, fading to the background much like they do in our everyday life (which might itself serve as some accidental commentary about the massive marketing pushes we are subjected to).

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Anatomy of a Scene - Jarhead

Written by: Tom Blaich

Jarhead_Swofford


This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.

Without me, my rifle is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless.

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Why Did I Watch That? – DOOM

Written by: Tom Blaich

Doom-Gallery-10


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me.
I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

DOOM is not a good movie by any means, and I’m not here to argue that fact. What I am here to argue is that you should definitely sit down and watch it, if only for one scene in the near two-hour long feature. Where we hop into the brain of Karl Urban for a first-person shooter-esque sequence that has us gunning down demons and tearing through the demented bowls of the Mars facility. It may look a little less than great, especially more than ten years after its release, but that doesn’t make it any less goddamn cool.

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Why Did I Watch That - Punisher: War Zone

Written by: Tom Blaich

Punisher_Poster


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me.
I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

Capturing the feel of a comic book accurately is really the goal of every comic book movie. The first
Punisher didn’t really do a good job at this, but they ended up making what is (in my opinion) a decent action movie. With Warzone, they did a much better job at capturing the dark, violent lunacy of the comic books, but it turns out that it looks really damn weird when translated to action on screen instead of stylized on the pages of a comic book.

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Anatomy of a Scene - It Follows

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Something is following you. Hunting you. Heading in a straight line for you at every single moment of your life, awake or asleep. It can take the form of anyone, whether that be a stranger or someone you love. It wants to kill you, but it also wants to hurt you in the process, and this haunting presence is always lurking at the back of our minds, behind every corner or walking extra.

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Why Did I Watch That? - Roger Corman's Death Race 2050

Written by: Tom Blaich

DR2050_PosterArt


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me. I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

Camp is a very interesting thing. It’s not something that you can actively seek out when making a movie. It has to come naturally, falling into your lap sometime during the process, with a certain level of self-awareness about what is being created. Unfortunately, too many movies try way too hard to be campy, and it normally leads to disastrous results and terrible movies.
Death Race 2000 managed to become a cult classic based partly around its camp, but also with a good deal of biting commentary and satire. But with the 2017 follow-up, the creators tried way too hard to capture lightning in a bottle a second time around. Instead of a cult classic, they just had a broken bottle, and a bad movie.

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Why Did I Watch That? - Death Race: Inferno

Written by: Tom Blaich

Death_Race_3_Cover


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me.
I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

When I watched
Death Race 2, I said it would be a better movie if it was worse. This is that movie.

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Anatomy of a Scene - The Matrix

Written by: Tom Blaich

Matrix_Lobby


It is harder than you might think to make a great action scene. But it isn’t that hard to make a good one. Just get an engaging actor, give them a big gun, and a crowd full of goons to let loose upon. A scene like this is entirely serviceable, but many directors try to make it more complex by incorporating too many characters, with too confusing of action, and all of a sudden, you don’t know what is going on anymore. What was once a good action scene has become terrible. A good scene needs to remain clear, no matter what. You should be able to identify the positions of characters and how they are moving through the world, without unnecessary establishing shots bogging it down, all while remaining compelling and heart pumping.

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Why Did I Watch That? – Death Race 2

Written by: Tom Blaich

Death Race 2


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me.
I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

I’ve written before about the folly of trying to reboot franchises that Jason Statham has starred in, and Death Race is no exception, being one of the rare double reboots. In our continuing saga to see how far off the rails one franchise can get, we look this week at Death Race 2. This time around, Luke Goss assumes the role of Frankenstein as the producers continue to try to find ways to make this lineage more complicated. After he kills a police officer during a robbery, he goes to prison, where he competes in the “Death Match”, which isn’t a race, as fighters duke it out in an arena.

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Why Did I Watch That? – Death Race

Written by: Tom Blaich

Death_Race


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me. I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

Jason Statham is one of those actors whose judgement that you have to questions sometimes. His taste in movies tends to run towards whatever allows him to look the coolest while also punching and kicking as many people as possible during the limited runtime of the film. Which is sort of surprising given his roles like that in
Snatch, which was excellent. Many of his more contemporary films, however, are not so great.

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Anatomy of a Scene - Dredd

Written by: Tom Blaich

Dredd


Violence can be abrupt, and horrible, and graphic, but at the same time, it can be oddly beautiful. 2012’s
Dredd adds its own take on the action genre through its highly-stylized depiction of violence that is at once horrific yet also strangely beautiful. The titular Dredd is taking along a new recruit onto a mission for her to prove herself before she is otherwise forced out of the judge’s academy. She is our surrogate throughout the film, the naïve lens through which we can start to interpret the horrors that we see.

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Why Did I Watch That? - Monster Brawl

Written by: Tom Blaich

Monster_Brawl_Panel


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me. I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

Sometimes you find a rare movie that transcends quality and becomes something fundamentally different. There is no question that
Monster Brawl is objectively a shitty movie, but it is unquestionably a magical experience, a bunch of movie monsters wrestling as commentators throw jokes back and forth, riffing over everything. It has comically bad acting, terrible effects, and a miserable script, but there is something here that makes it so much damned fun to watch.

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Situational Invincibility and How it is Ruining Action Movies

Written by: Tom Blaich

John_Wick


We like our action movies to be big, to be brash, to be full of gunfights and cool explosions and scores of dead bodies littering the streets in the wake of our stalwart hero. But this same desire often raises a problem: our hero can’t die, or even barely be hurt at all, so all elements of tension, all suspension of disbelief go out of the window.We never wonder if our hero will rescue their friend or kill the bad guy, because you can be damned sure they will, with only an annoying flesh wound and a few smartass quips to speak to the “struggle” that they went through on the way.

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Why Did I Watch That? - The Last Survivors

Written by: Tom Blaich

The_Last_Survivors


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me. I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

Sometimes movies are forgettable, mediocre even, and that is one of the worst things that I can say about a movie. When it fails to excel at anything or stand out in any way. The Last Survivors is such a movie, another in a long line of post-apocalyptic “action” films that have nothing to do or say to stand out. A group of settlers is trapped in a contemporary dust bowl, trying to survive against the land grabbing rich, and the overall lack of water.

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Anatomy of a Scene - Alien

Written by: Tom Blaich

Alien_Ripley


Alien has changed so much as a franchise since it was first made. It went from science fiction horror to action to crossover monster battles. But it all started with this, a few people trapped on a ship with their worst nightmare. When we talk about horror, we speak a lot to tension, that feeling of building unease that makes us worry about what is coming next. More importantly, it makes us almost beg for it to happen. Alien begins with almost an hour of it, moodily piling on the tension before taking it away all at once.

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Why Did I Watch That? - Leo the Lion

Written by: Tom Blaich

Leo_the_Lion


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me. I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

It is hard to call a children’s movie bad in the same way that I do with a lot of the films that I watch or this series. I hold children’s movies to a different standards. I don’t expect depth of plot or complex characters or action. But no matter what, I don’t expect a movie like this. Leo the Lion confused me, left me scratching my head at many of the decisions that were made.

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Logan - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

logan


Logan
is a much different “superhero” movie than any we’ve seen before. In fact, it is hard to even call it a superhero movie. It is a movie about old, tired men trapped in a world in which they no longer belong. It is a movie about Logan, not about the Wolverine. It gained a lot from the R-rating, building a bleak world that Logan is trapped in. He’s wracked with pain, scarred and broken from hundreds of years of fighting and killing. He’s taking care of Charles Xavier as they live on the run, the world around them now devoid of mutants.

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Why Did I Watch That? - Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

Written by: Tom Blaich

lara-croft-tomb-raider---the-cradle-of-life-5223cb81c3742


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me. I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

Video game movies are almost universally terrible. They’ve attempted different franchises and actors in pursuit of finally making a good video game movie. And it just isn’t working. In the midst of this, somehow, a sequel to Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, a movie about finding a magical triangle that can control time that was almost universally critically panned, was greenlit. A franchise built almost entirely upon leering shots of Angelina Jolie being sexy.

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Logan and the R-Rated Superhero

Written by: Tom Blaich

Logan_Header


Deadpool
came out almost a year ago and somehow managed to be a huge commercial success. With Logan coming out today, many have predicted that this success will be repeated. But what does this mean for the comic book superhero? Comics can be dark, frequently being much more explicit than their on screen counterparts. Glossy pages splashed with blood and gore, provocatively dressed heroines, and sinister plots spanning decades. Movies aren’t afraid of violence, but blood and sex make them squeamish.

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Anatomy of a Scene - Chef

Written by: Tom Blaich

chef_header


Sensuality is a difficult thing to portray. Making a man like Jon Favreau sexy is only adds onto the challenge. He falls well outside the lines of “conventional” good looks, especially those of Hollywood’s masculine ideals. But the scene where he cooks for Scarlett Johansson in his apartment is as sexy as any we’ve seen. It combines light and playful shots with loving attention to detail to bring you a veritable feast for the senses: aural, visual, and more, as you can almost smell and taste the pasta that he makes for her. It is a scene about simplicity in many ways, in the midst of a turning point for his character, foreshadowing the rest of the film, and perfectly encapsulating his passion as a chef.

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Why Did I Watch That? - Wolf Warriors

Written by: Tom Blaich

Wolf_Warriors


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me. I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

One of the joys of this job is that I get to broaden my horizons. I’ve always loved action movies, from the amazing to the… well, markedly less so, and in the past year, I’ve gotten the chance to explore action cinema from all across the world.
Wolf Warriors is far from the best action movie I have ever seen, but it is remarkably competent for what it is, with a few cool visuals and laughs thrown in to complement the experience. It has got a few faces you’ll recognize, including the ever present, C-movie “star” Scott Adkins, who does a fairly good job at playing the bad guy instead of a generic, hunky hero.

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Why Did I Watch That? - Navy SEALs: The Battle for New Orleans

Written by: Tom Blaich

Navy_Seals_Cover


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me.
I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

I don’t know what exactly about zombies caught the attention of the world, but for the last few years, the shambling undead have filled our screens, becoming the lowest common denominator of antagonists. More than anyone else, the makers of bad movies love zombies. The makeup is cheap, there is plenty of action, and little moral dilemma in mowing down giant crowds of them in bright red splashes of blood and gore. To most of these zombie films, the more violence they can cram into the runtime, the better, and
Navy SEALs: The Battle for New Orleans is no exception. And for a movie titled as such, the action feels much smaller scale than the filmmakers would like us to believe.

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John Wick: Chapter 2 - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

Teaser Poster


It is damn hard to do action well. Harder yet is to do it twice in a row.
John Wick crashed into the action scene and made an indelible mark with stylish and well-choreographed action, a highly stylized aesthetic, and an interesting world to back it all up. It took the old writer’s adage of “show, don’t tell” to heart in a way that few films do, and with it created a compelling story that dragged you in and made you want to learn more. Chapter 2 had the incredibly difficult task of following this up well. John flirts with the underworld in the first, and as he walked away with his new friend at the end, we were left to wonder if he was truly back, or if he was going to try to pick up the pieces of his shattered life.

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Anatomy of a Scene - Heat

Written by: Tom Blaich

Heat


Characterization through action is what defines film. “Show, don’t tell” is the mantra repeated to writers across the world, yet it is rare that we actually see it done well.
Heat takes this to heart, and the first time that we see our cast of ne’er-do-wells assembled together on screen, we instantly get a sense for who they are, the relationships they have with each other, and the direction the film is headed in. They do this with a combination of action and horror to create a sense of dark foreboding around the group of men.

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Get Out - Review

Written By: CJ Streetman

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Jordan Peele’s directorial debut shows incredible promise from someone that we all knew was a tremendous talent.
Get Out is a thrilling and unnerving horror movie where the horror monster is just white people.

Get Out
is the story of Chris going to spend the weekend at the family of his white girlfriend’s house. The weekend turns out to be the weekend of a massively Caucasian get together that the family throws every year.

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Why Did I Watch That? - Stolen

Written by: Tom Blaich

Stolen_Case


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me.
I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

Nicolas Cage is a boon to bad movie fans. Once a serious, award-winning actor, he has come a long way to the point he is at now. But in some ways I have to admit that I admire the man, because no matter how awful the movie he was in, or how critically panned his performances are, he keeps on making movies. While I could be cynical and say that it is all about the money for him, I think that it is something more. He really does love making movies, and it shows in the absurd joy and energy that he brings into every role he plays.

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Gun Porn - Our Fascination with the Firearm

Written by: Tom Blaich

Guns_Lots_of_Guns


We love guns. Big and small. As long as it goes bang, we want to be able to sit and watch. Guns are ingrained in the American culture and they fill our media to the brim. It is hard to play a game or go to the movie theater without seeing a few of them. It has gotten to the point where the depiction of guns in movie and games crosses the boundary into the real world. You can see it in gunstores across the country, where teenagers stare at racks of rifles and pistols, lusting after the high-tech weaponry like a dog with a bone.

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Why Did I Watch That? - Ninja Apocalypse

Written by: Tom Blaich

Ninja-Apocalypse


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me.
I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

There are different kinds of bad movies. Incompetent student films, big budget pictures that miss their mark, the “purposefully” bad indie movies, or mainstay of schlock cinema: the bad action movie.
Ninja Apocalypse is just the latest in a long line of ninja movies that you probably shouldn’t even consider watching. As a rule, if a movie has the word ninja in its title, it is going to be pretty bad.

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Anatomy of a Scene - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Written by: Tom Blaich

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When a movie tells you how it is going to end, you know as a member of the audience that the ending matters less than the journey to get there. And over the years it has become almost a trope, where a movie opens with the main character in a very bad situation, before flashing back to find out how they got there, then promptly letting them escape. But then there are movies like this one, where they don’t engage in the trope. Jesse James dies in this movie. We know it from the second we look at the cover or walk into the theater. He is going to die, and we are going to have to watch.

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Why Did I Watch That? - The Accountant

Written by: Tom Blaich

the-accountant-correct


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me. I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

I wanted to step away from the norm here to talk a little bit about a movie that I watched this weekend.
The Accountant isn’t necessarily a bad movie, it is just a confused one, trying to make an autistic John Wick into a cartel accountant. In a lot of ways, the story doesn’t make sense, but the action is fairly well one, and I’m always a fan of Ben Affleck. I just had a hard time with a lot of this movie. It is funny, but it is rarely trying to be so.

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A Series of Unfortunate Events - Review - Season One

Written by: Carmen Schwierking

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When the Netflix television show adaptation of
A Series of Unfortunate Events was announced, I was hesitant. Like many other fans I remembered the trainwreck that the movie adaptation became and I went into the show with trepidation. I’m so happy to say that the TV show has surpassed all of my expectations.

A Series of Unfortunate Events is a book series that follows the story of the Baudelaire children, three siblings that become orphans after a fire destroys their home and kills their parents. The novels follow their journey while they are passed between guardians and bleak circumstances. The Baudelaires have been left an enormous inheritance and because they are children, many villainous adults try to snatch the money with easy schemes. But the children are described as “unlikely, but clever,” and they find out there’s more than what is easily seen.

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Rogue One - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

rogue-one-gallery05_57762399


Rogue One
is a very different Star Wars movie than we have ever seen before. It lives in a grittier, dirtier, more disheveled world that neither the original nor prequel trilogies got near. It is one of the best Star Wars movies and it takes the franchise to a place far from it’s almost cartoonish roots. But at the same time, it doesn’t do much. By virtue of its place within the franchise, it can’t change anything, and at some points, it felt like it was here purely as a way to tie up loose ends that fans have been desperately asking after for years.

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Why Did I Watch That? - 2012

Written by: Tom Blaich

2012


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me. I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

There aren’t lot of disaster movies made every year. And that might be because, regardless of year. there aren’t really that many good ones. They are big, expensive, and prone to complete critical evisceration. However, that didn’t stop
2012 from being made. Although if it had, we would all probably be better off. It stars former heartthrob John Cusack as novelist turned chauffeur as he desperately tries to survive the oft-predicted apocalypse of 2012 while simultaneously saving his family from an improbable amount of falling objects.

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Anatomy of a Scene - No Country for Old Men

Written by: Tom Blaich

No_Country_for_Old_Men


It is rare to see a truly evil character. Films are full of villains, but the truly evil ones are few and far between. Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh is one of the rare few that is simply Evil. It isn’t only what he does that makes him evil, but how he does it. His introduction has him being calmly led to a police car and driven to a station, where we watch as he slowly escapes his bonds before wrapping the chain of his handcuffs around the deputy’s throat. There is a look of exhilaration, of excitement on his face as blood begins to spurt from the deputy’s neck, and his boots squeak across the floor. Nothing is said, and the only thing you hear are gasps of exertion and the sound of a man struggling vainly to try to save his life.

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Why Did I Watch That? - Big Money Rustlas

Written by: Tom Blaich

insane-clown-posse-big-money-rustlas


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me.
I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

Somehow this is going to go down as the first movie I watched in 2017. And in the realm of bad movies, ICP somehow managed to make one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, yet I can’t quite think of another movie that. Revels in it so much. Like a bunch of tweaks tried to make
Blazing Saddles, the product is as messy as you would expect, but they clearly had fun making it, so it manages to be fun to watch. I don’t know who most of the people in this movie are (Sadly my juggalo knowledge is just not quite up to snuff), but there is a small amount of chemistry between the cast that you don’t normally see in a movie like this that makes everything just click.

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Why Did I Watch That? - 4 Got 10

Written by: Tom Blaich

4_Got_10_DVD_Cover


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me.
I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

Dolph Lundgren is a special guy. His performances as a large, vaguely foreign, man-shaped meat monster have shaped the face of terrible action cinema since he burst onto the scene with 1985’s A View to a Kill. Over the next 31 years, he has appeared in over 80 films, in roles large and small. We hated him as the robotic Ivan Drago in Rocky 4, loved him in 1989’s The Punisher. And in 4 Got 10, well, he exists.

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Anatomy of a Scene - Foxcatcher

Written by: Tom Blaich

Foxcatcher


The end of a character’s life is so important. We’ve watched hundreds of heroes die over the years, brought down in the line of duty in a noble sacrifice to save others, gasping out a final message before they finally succumb to mortal wounds. Death in movies is often very clean, very romantic almost in its depiction. But occasionally reality creeps in and death becomes something ugly. In
Foxcatcher, we watch the descent of two men into shadows of their former selves. Promising Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz who will do anything to win, and enigmatic millionaire John DuPont, a man who has everything he could need, but nothing that he wants.

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Why Did I Watch That? - Nine Lives

Written by: Tom Blaich

Nine_Lives_Cover


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me.
I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

There are some movies that I can’t bring myself to hate, no matter how bad they actually are. Nine Lives is one of these movies that inhabits a special place in the pantheon of awful cinema. My editor would probably disagree, especially after I made him watch this movie with me. Nine Lives is awful in a transcendental way, a true piece of terrible art that would be hard to match, even if you were trying to make the worst “film” possible. It is not often that a movie does everything wrong, and in a way that is so entertaining.

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Spectral - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

Spectral


All things considered, this probably should have been a really bad movie. It is ostensibly about a group of special forces soldiers fighting against a bunch of ghosts, and that sounds about as B-movie as you can get. But somehow it all managed to come together in a way that really surprised me. They tried to make a hard sci-fi, modern military film, and for the most part, they succeeded.

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Why Did I Watch That? - XXX: State of the Union

Written by: Tom Blaich

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I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me. I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

I don't know whose idea it was to try to make Ice Cube into an action star. I guess in some worlds it kind of makes sense. Former gangsta rapper with a penchant for spitting tough lyrics. Seems like giving him a gun and cool lines should work perfectly. While he does have an authentic swagger that’s hard to replicate, he’s just kind of goofy. It's hard for me to take him too seriously as he bounces back and forth between making badass quips and trying to have sex with anything with a pulse and/or DDD breasts.

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The Hero's Journey

Written by: Tom Blaich

We try to give our audience as strong of a background in the themes and ideas that we talk about in our essays. As we look at media of all types, we can see so many common themes that run through our canon, our comprehensive body of work. The more media that you start to consume, the more common threads that you will begin to notice. Perhaps the most common is that of the "Hero's Journey". In essence, the Hero's Journey is a quest that a main character goes through to undergo some kind of personal growth. Harboring deep ties to Arthurian legend, you can see the same set of plot points and character archetypes instilled in so many of the stories that we tell.


You have your main character. Maybe they are a noble knight, or a chosen warrior, or some kid who doesn't quite know their place in the world. They have a specific goal: conquering a dungeon, defeating a dragon, or just talking to a pretty girl in gym class. All along the way they are faced with challenges that stimulate the growth of the character not only in strength of body, but also of character. It is the classic coming of age tale that is told in so many ways by so many different people. Read More…
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Why Did I Watch That? - Welcome to the Jungle

Written by: Tom Blaich

Welcome_to_the_Jungle_Box_Art


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me. I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.
Comedies can ride a fine line between good and bad. You can give the same script to two different groups and get one project that is hilarious, and one that is actively unfunny. Sometimes jokes just work. Maybe it is the charisma of the cast, or the strength of the director, or even the writing. Some movies can be hilarious, but sometimes they aren't. Sometimes jokes just keep falling flat. Welcome to the Jungle sits in a weird place for me because there are a few funny moments, but a lot of the jokes simply don't do anything, miring the movie down in an unfunny pile of poo. It is a cinematic train wreck, and somehow I couldn’t stop watching.

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Anatomy of a Character - Pulp Fiction

Written by: Tom Blaich

Pulp_Fiction_Jules


Repetition is a powerful thing, and showing cycles can lead to powerful implications.


Pulp Fiction is one of my favorite movies of all time. There is something about the characters and dialogue that clicks together and works in a way that many films strive to achieve.it is a set of very strange people all caught up in some of the most eventful and important days of their lives. And in the center of this maelstrom, we have Jules, the fast-talking, bible-quoting, gun-toting hitman with a soft spot for cheeseburgers. In many ways, the entire movie revolves around the character arc of Jules and how he changes throughout the film.

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Why Did I Watch That? - Iceman

Written by: Tom Blaich

Iceman_Cover_Art


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me. I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

Sometimes it is really easy to tell a bad movie from a good one. There are certain hints that give them away, like certain actors, cover art, or even the little one sentence descriptions that are attached to them everywhere you see them. Iceman is one of the rare movies where everything about it looks terrible at first glance. And guess what?

It is terrible.

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Fetish on Film

Written by: Tom Blaich

I've written about sex for this site before, but today I want to talk about another oft-overlooked part about sex on screen: kink. It is an aspect of sex that most people try to ignore because it doesn't fit in their neat little box of what sex is and what it should be. A dirty deed that isn't to be talked about, done only between a man and his wife in their bedroom at night. If you want to show a character as really wild, you'll have them break one of these conventions in their sex. Maybe they'll have sex out of wedlock, or do it in a different room of the house.

When we see "abnormal" sex, sex that strays from these rigid moral guidelines, it is usually done to show us how "weird" a character is, how "non-normal" and different from the main character they are. Bad people are linked to kinky sex all too often in film, as if a predilection for whips and leather makes a person evil instead of simply kinky.
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The Christ Figure

Written by: Tom Blaich

When discussing criticism, there are a few things that deserve your attention. Usually drawn from our broad cultural touchstones they are themes that we can all easily recognize and understand, even if we aren’t conscious that we are doing it. Shakespearean tales and biblical stories have seeped into many facets of our literature and they aren’t far away in most of our media.

Especially the Christ figure. If we want our hero to be good, just, kind, and honest, then who better to compare them to than the man himself, Jesus Christ. It seems like you can’t watch a movie without tripping over someone who is supposed to remind us of Jesus. From the obvious, like Neo and Superman, to the more subtle, like Optimus Prime, Harry Potter, and Aragorn. But what makes a figure Christ-like? And why do writers choose to do it so often? Read More…
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Anatomy of a Scene - Sicario

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Sicario
might be my favorite film of last year. Excellent cinematography, soundtrack, and story drove the film, backed up by some of the best acting I have seen in a while. Emily Bunt was fantastic as the driven Kate Macy and Josh Brolin was infuriatingly calm as the anonymous CIA agent Matt. But the star of the show for me was Benecio del Toro’s performance as Alejandro, who dominated the screen whenever he entered the frame. Dark, mysterious, aggressive, and caring, he presented an interesting and conflicted character that stayed just mysterious enough for you to want to know more about him.

At the climax of the film we found Alejandro sitting across from the cartel boss, Alarcón, who they have been hunting for the entire movie. Alejandro has snuck into Mexico through a drug tunnel that he assaulted alongside a team of Delta operators, Matt, Kate, and Reggie. He captures a lower level meter of the organization and uses him to sneak into Alarcón’s house, leaving a trail of dead bodies in his wake as he takes a seat at the family’s dinner table.

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Death Doesn't Matter Anymore

Written by: Tom Blaich

Movies have raised the stakes. We have started to aim bigger and bigger. No longer are our heroes in any danger, or a simple building, plane, or even airport. Now cities are cast aside as fodder as the entire world is targeted, or even more. Each blockbuster feels like it needs to one-up their predecessor. It has created an ever increasing arms race of destruction, a spiral with no end in sight, and in doing so, it has made death and disaster cease to matter.
X-Men: Apocalypse, Suicide Squad, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and so many more.

We watch as our villains wipe out entire cities with a wave of their evil hands to prove how powerful and merciless they are. When they do, we are supposed to empathize with the victims and fear for the lives of our heroes. Instead we find ourselves feeling bored and eating for the writers to brush these events under the rug by the conclusion of the film with no one, except for the big bad, any worse for wear. Except for all of the dead civilians but hey, who cares about them.
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Showing Sex

Written by: Tom Blaich

It is really hard to write a “good” sex scene. It’s even harder to show one on screen. It is so easy to slip into the realm of heady, erotic fantasy as two lovers caress each other’s heaving bosom’s and dripping sexes. Bad sex scenes make you almost uncomfortable. I did not sign up for
50 Shades of Grey in my fiction. Moreover it feels like a teenager’s perception of what sex is like between two people: romantic, well lit, clean, and perfect. When, for the most part, sex is just sexy. Funny and awkward and so many other things. Actual sex is so far removed from what you will see in your average movie to the point where I almost wish it wasn’t included.

Rarely do I watch or read a sex scene and come away thinking, “Yeah, they got that entirely right.” It is almost never an actually significant part of the plot or character development, and they feel like they were included simply to titillate the audience. It has become a cop out to show how attracted two people are to each other to have them have sex, as opposed to actually showing a complex relationship through good acting and writing.
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The Makings of a Good Horror Movie Kill

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Ever since the advent of the slasher genre, horror movies have tried to become more and more inventive with the way they splatter their gallons of blood across the screen. We can only watch so many unstoppable murderers slash horny teens with machetes before we get bored. We want our mythical killers to be as ingenious as they are deadly. Our desire for the dastardly machinations of vengeful beasts is the whole reason that franchises like
Saw or Final Destination can not only continue to exist, but thrive. To see the wild and wacky ways that writers can invent to kill teenagers who stumbled into the wrong haunted graveyard.

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Why Did I Watch That? - 009-1: The End of the Beginning

Written by: Tom Blaich


009-1_Cover


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me.
I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

I honestly don’t know what to think about this movie. After the disappointing disaster of
Jarhead 3: The Siege, I needed a certain level of schlock to help clear my palate and reset myself towards something else. So I dug this movie out of my Netflix list, having added it for an occasion just like this. And I don’t know exactly what I got. I can’t tell if it is supposed to be an action film or softcore pornography. It isn’t too good at either, and it seems like it is trying.

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Why Did I Watch That? - Jarhead 3: The Siege

Written by: Tom Blaich

Jarhead-3-The-Siege-2016


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me.
I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

It might come as a surprise to some people that there is not only a sequel to
Jarhead, but also two of them. The 2005 film about a group of marines that desperately wish they could see action but instead are greeted with the banalities of life in a war zone, whose entire point was that maybe you don’t want to see action as much as you think. Maybe you don’t want to kill people. So of course they decide to make a direct to DVD set of sequels that are dumb, pointless action movies all about killing as many terrorists as possible. You have to love franchises.

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Nostalgia

Written by: Tom Blaich

Memory is a powerful thing. Especially precious memories. Every one of us has a certain set of things that remain precious to us over the years. We remember fondly the time that we first experience them, and we always look back to them. Be it a particular book, movie, album, song, or game, nostalgia is a powerful force that shapes our opinions and our tastes.

That being said, it has no place in criticism.
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The Man from U.N.C.L.E - A Belated Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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It makes a lot of sense to put Guy Ritchie in charge of a spy movie. He has always loved his surprise twists, clever dialogue, and witty banter. Instead of taking the helm of James Bond, he gets to reimagine the old television series of the same name. Henry Cavill plays the charismatic and cold American spy Napoleon Solo, across from the brooding and emotion Russian Illya Kuryakin, played by Armie Hammer. They are brought together through shared conflict and the presence of the East German woman Gaby, portrayed by Alicia Vikander, who they need to help find her father.

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Why Did I Watch That? - The Transporter: Refueled

Written by: Tom Blaich

Transporter_Refueled_Header


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me. I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

The terrible movie was
The Transporter: Refueled, the fourth movie in the “beloved” Transporter franchise, and a quasi-reboot of the story. I say quasi because I have no damn idea if they are retconning the ridiculousness of the three Statham, movies, or if this is just one of Frank Martin’s past adventures that he had somehow forgotten about. Now it probably does not come as a shock to anyone that this is not a very good movie. The series has been in decline since they made the first.

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Captain America: Civil War - A Belated Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

Whose_Side_Are_You_On


I really wish that I had seen this movie in theaters. It took me a few months, but I finally managed to watch it now that it is out on DVD, having dodged spoilers since May, and some of the magic was lost for me. The climactic fight between the two sides felt strangely small and restrained, hidden behind the idea of superhero friends fighting each other. Carried by the threat of the villain, the MCU take on Baron Zemo. I feel like they missed their chance to expand upon some of the main heroes and their motivations. Why does Captain America so fervently believe that he is right? Iron Man’s motivations felt shallow and unfulfilling.

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Schlock - A Torrid Love Affair

Written by: Tom Blaich

For some reason, we love bad movies. Unlike any other form of media that we have, there is a fascination with truly awful movies. With the Sharknado’s and Troll 2’s of the world. To the point where there is an entire portion of the film industry focused on creating this D-level schlock. We don’t see this attitude in music or games. Terrible products are shunned in most industries but for some reason flourish in film. You can see a resemblance to the old, pulp paperbacks peddling in sleazy romance and smoky detective tales. Read More…
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Commando: The Best Action Movie of All Time

Written by: Tom Blaich

Commandoposter


Gather around and let me tell you a tale of the greatest action movie ever made. Our determined and glistening hero, rippling with absurd muscles and bristling with enough armaments to destroy a small country, finds himself waging a war against a South American despot, all in order to save his lovely and innocent daughter. It’s a tale that will live on through the ages. I’m of course talking about
Commando, the 1985 Arnold Schwarzenegger film, also starring Alyssa Milano, Rae Dawn Chong, and Vernon Wells.

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The Surprisingly Progressive Gender Politics of Some Like it Hot

Written by: Tom Blaich

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It is not always an uplifting experience to look back to the past and how we treated people differently. Unfortunately there is a history of treating marginalized groups poorly in the United States. Basically if you weren’t a straight white male, you got the short end of the stick in many cases. And this is very evident in looking at films. Film is, in essence, a snapshot of the time in which it was created. Looking back you can see the proliferation of ideas throughout American culture simply by looking at actors on screen or the actions they take and the statements that they make.

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Suicide Squad - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich


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It is no secret that
Suicide Squad's production was plagued with problems from the beginning. From stories of reshoots, reedits, and test audiences changing the tone of the film, we don't know what the movie was originally going to look like. What we do know is that the movie that we did get is ultimately disappointing. Bogged down by an oversized cast, poor writing, plot holes, and unkept promises, what started out as an exciting trailer ended poorly and leaves a rotten taste in your mouth.

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Star Trek: Beyond - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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The first two films in the new JJ Abrams Star Trek franchise weren't exactly fan favorites. They focused their attentions on a broader audience, opting for glitz and glamour over what made the old shows and movies so great to fans. And I will fully admit that I am not exactly a long time Trek fan. I grew up watching the movies and a few episodes of the shows with my dad, but I never really found myself becoming to attached to the franchise. It was with him that I found myself sitting in an IMAX theater a few days ago to see this movie. We wanted to go big, to enjoy a fun movie, and we expected to receive more of the same old JJ Abrams formula. A decent plot, lots of spectacle, and a relatively pleasing popcorn muncher of a film.

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Compulsory Heterosexuality in Film

Written by: Tom Blaich

When we look back at film, it is amazing to see how far we have come, but at the same time how far we have to go in the portrayal of characters on screen. Even now, epithets like “fag” are used as the butt of many jokes. Look, for example, at the 2007 film Superbad. In it, character Seth refers to another character as “Fagle” multiple times, and its intended to make the audience laugh. But what it does is it shows us the way in which heterosexuality has been accepted entirely as the norm, and that anything that exists outside of it is laughable in some way. If a character is not a heterosexual, or actively seen as a heterosexual, then they are weird, and need to be made fun of or fixed in some way. Read More…
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Movies and Games

Written by: Tom Blaich

Like many of my peer in the critical space, my interests follow a certain path of pop culture and pop media. I love everything from books, to music, to movies, to games, and more. And fortunately for myself, I was born at what is perhaps the most perfect time in the world to enjoy these mediums, as a huge growth of creativity is taking place, a veritable Cambrian explosion of creativity and tech for me to play with. Unfortunately, the one are in which this innovation is lacking is with movie tie-in games, a genre oft overlooked by fans, and for very good reason. Read More…
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Movies and Criticism

Written by: Tom Blaich

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I love movies. I always have. There is something inherently magical about the experience of watching a piece of film, old or new, and experiencing a story in front of you. For the longest time I have been fascinated by films. So I’ve consumed them. Studied them. Attacked them with a voracious appetite. I wanted to know more than I already did. They became a part of my life, something that became a part of traditions within my family. Something that I could turn to for comfort. There is something magical about re-watching a film, and remembering the first time that you watched it. What your experience was.

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On The Act of Killing

Written by: Tom Blaich

The-Act-Of-Killing


Death is one of the most significant events in our lives. It’s one of our only assurances. It is going to happen at some point. Whether you like it or not. Death will visit us, touching someone, somewhere, somehow. It’s an event that forever changes those who it touches. It has an impact that cannot be understated.

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Lighten Up

Written by: Tom Blaich

Sometimes we are sad. Something happens. Big or small. And it just hits you. You yearn for the familiar comforts of home. A warm hug. A bowl of soup. Something familiar or happy.

Movies have always been an outlet of mine. Something that I can use to decompress. To enjoy myself. To occupy a space that needs to be filled. There is something comforting about having that presence of someone else there. Over the years I can think of dozens of films that have kept me company, and I fondly remember them.
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