This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

I Saw a Bad Movie for Your Amusement

Elektra: The Girl with the Knives

(A small review in 21 parts by Michael D. Pape)

i) I remember Elektra from those Daredevil comics when I was a kid. Like most children my age, I didn’t read Daredevil, but he was in a lot of cool Spider-Man crossovers, so I was aware of his existence. Anyway, the puzzling thing about this whole Elektra movie is that it’s about an ancillary pseudo-villain from a comic book that nobody read. I’m trying to think of an equivalent character to show how strange it is, and I don’t know…it’s like giving a movie to the Super Skrull or something. Anyway, The whole point of Elektra is the red costume and the cool knives. If they aren’t in this movie, I’m turning it off.

ii) It’s always good when your DVD comes with a commercial that claims that downloading movies is the same thing as stealing them. They can make their point (that downloading is illegal and hurts the artists) without lying. Sheesh. This one tried to equivocate stealing cars and downloading movies. I wonder which crime costs the law-abiding US economy more? Hmm…thousands of dollars vs. nothing…it’s a tough choice. Plus, movie companies will gladly steal our precious time with 10 minutes of movie trailers, even on DVDs now. Which is more like stealing a car – stealing data or stealing time? I’ll let you, dear reader, decide that one.

iii) I wonder if they realize they’re using Greek “sigmas” for “E’s”? Is this a bad sign? Is this a movie for stupid people? Was I not supposed to notice this?

iv) Within the first 5 minutes we have both the knives and the costume (sort of. At least it’s red). I’m kinda surprised, to be honest. A problem I’m having is separating this mythology from that of Jen Garner’s other entertainment vehicle, Alias. Right now it just looks like Sydney Bristow’s dressed in one of her costumes and going after some rich guy. Wouldn’t be the first time. They should have tried to make Elektra look more Asian.

v) For a better movie about an unstoppable female assassin in a secret society that does her wrong, see Kill Bill. This is that movie, made by someone without Tarrantino’s sense of style. This is a bizarre, dull, and bleak movie so far.

vi) Who’da thought Elektra had OCD? That’s some serious filmmaking right there. Probably caused by being named after a complex, and an icky one at that. This whole first part is designed to humanize our assassin title character and make us feel sorry for her. Right now a man (her dad?) is making a young Elektra tread water with only her feet. I’m sure she’ll overcome all this OCD and water and loneliness and having a bad name by the end of the movie.

vii) We just learned that Elektra has insomnia, and even takes medication for it. Now she’s doing an exercise montage right out of Rocky, only she’s not going to box some evil guy, she’s going to kill some guy for money. See the problem? Super Skrull would totally have been better. At least he can change shapes.

viii) So, this hasn’t been made clear yet, but I can see now that Elektra will be hired to kill this Nice Guy (whom she just met) and his “just like Elektra” daughter, and this will lead Elektra to a moral dilemma, and then a bunch of dudes will come after her, and she will win. Do I even need to see the rest of this movie?

ix) Five minutes later, my scenario is coming true. Maybe this watching bad movies idea wasn’t such a good one. First up on the assassin death carousel is Roof Crawler, who dies in a poof of light and smoke. Wonderful. This is just like a video game. DartThrower Smith is attacking them now, and he’s soon to be dead.

x) The forces amass against Elektra, and their names are: Eagle Shoulder, Aids-breath, Coin Balancer, and Big Black Guy. Oh, and their leader, who sucks. Sucky Leader. They’re all dead, but the film introduces them in a cool slow-walking montage anyway. At least we’ll get to see some fun CGI fighting. I hope.

xi) It’s like 15 minutes later, and still no CGI fighting. And not to be a Complainy Janey, but we’ve seen about 5 seconds of knives and 0 seconds of costume since the first five minutes of the film. Maybe they ran out of money.

xii) I love it when movies try to convince us that the bad guys aren’t all going to die. Like these jokers can really beat Elektra. Oh, Sucky Leader can read minds, and Big Black Guy can’t be hurt by bullets. Ooo. I’m scared.

xiii) You should really rent this movie and be following along at home for this. Especially since the movie is so old and even if you did see it, you probably don’t remember it. But I wouldn’t ask you to do that. I would never ask you to do that. It would be like asking you to relive my prison term, or something.

xiv) Big Black Guy clearly disobeys orders by going after the two targets before killing Elektra. As a result, the coolest person in the entire film is now dead. I’m speaking of Big Black Guy, of course.

xv) Coin Balancer turns out to be just pretty good at karate, and Eagle Shoulder turns out to be basically the Wolfman with a jet pack. Also, the two helpless people, Nice Guy and Daughter? They have powers, and kill said Balancer and Wolfman. Told you they were all dead. For those keeping score, that leaves Aids-breath and Sucky Leader. Hope this ends soon.

xvi) Aids-breath kisses Elektra and “kills” her, then ninjas start rappelling out of trees in a scene right out of You Only Live Twice, then the movie commits suicide on its own narrative. 20 bucks says Elektra will live. Oh, that reminds me…there’s this guy named “Stick” that’s like Elektra’s sensei, and he brings people back to life. Unfortunately, that also means the movie will continue.

xvii) Sucky Leader and Elektra agree to fight “where it all began” for the soul of the daughter, more or less. No word on how Aids-breath likes being cut out of the action. Of course, if all she can do is kill Elektra, Stick will just bring her back to life. Looks like she’s been made redundant.

xviii) Sucky Leader turns out to be some sort of Demon Ninja. Of course the daughter follows Elektra to where the two are fighting, and of course she comes in and saves Elektra from being killed. At least we got to see the costume again. It’s pretty stupid in real life.

xix) I guess Wolfman and Eagle Shoulder were two different people, because he’s still alive and all snakey right now. And for some reason Elektra and daughter decide to go into the hedge maze from The Shining. So, the place “where it all began” is the Overlook? I’ll spare you any “Snakes in a Maze” jokes. Anyway, Eagle Shoulder dies because he can’t fight back when he’s all snakey.

xx) Aids-breath just gave the daughter aids with her aids-breath. When will this movie end? Elektra and Sucky Leader fight some more, this time by a well in the center of the hedge-maze. Looks like the bad guys are going to win this one, everybody. The suspense is killing me. Whoops…just when you thought Elektra was defeated, she somehow managed to sucker-stab Sucky Leader and throw him down the well. Then she turned and computed some vectors and threw her cool knife through like 20 hedges and into Aids-breath’s head. Then she herself brings the daughter back to life. Man, they really must have run out of money to have a rat-a-tat ending like that. Anyway, now the daughter gets to learn karate at her own pace. How nice that all those people had to die to get that accomplished.

xxi) They should make a prequel starring Big Black Guy, who was by far the most interesting person in the film. The tagline could be “He Stuck it to the Man before he Stuck it to the Hand.” He could be a misunderstood bruiser in the mold of the Hulk. Like that idea, Hollywood? Call me.

Friday, September 01, 2006

USA Men's Basketball Fails Again!

If you remember, two years ago I wrote this about the 2004 men's olympic basketball team. It was a scathing piece, maybe a diatribe even, and I fully expected USA Basketball to listen to me, make changes, and never lose a game again. Boy, was I wrong.

What I failed to note in my previous column was the USA's total and complete inability to play the pick-and-roll on either side of the ball. The headline may read "USA loses because they can't shoot three-pointers," but that's wrong. The real reason they lost is that little Greek guy, who kept driving the lane for easy layups or dishing out to some lame white guys for easy threes. That's besides the pick-and-roll of course, which was killing the US all game. Maybe those guys should learn fundamentals in dunking school. Hey, isn't that why they hire Coach K from Duke? He's the fundamental king! As always, Duke proves to be good for nothing.

Will the US ever learn to play defense? Will they ever learn to shoot? Will they ever play with urgency? Will the NBA ever come back to being real basketball?


Thursday, August 31, 2006

Quick Hits for Today's Youth

Since you little ruffians are still up, and you've just stumbled into this blog, I'll give you some free advice. I know, I know -- your kind never takes advice, you just "play by your own rules." If you took advice, you'd be in bed by now. I know your crappy kind. Anyway, because I like hearing the dull clack of the keys on my laptop, I will give you some rules anyway:

1) If you see a guy on the MTV Movie Awards who lost a presidential election nearly six years ago, and who's dressed in all black, then change the channel and wash your TV to get the residue off. He's the devil.

2) Residue is a cool word. Use it often.

3) Most of your friends are just using you. They do so for a number of different reasons. Possibly, though, you have one or two real friends. How do you spot them? Well, it's never who you expect it to be, but a good rule of thumb is this: If he/she is a drug mule, then he/she is not a friend, fool! But if it's murky and brown, you're in cider town! (I gotta work on this one)

4) The Dixie Chicks are repellent. Learn why, and you'll be smarter.

5) The world is convinced you're stupid and don't notice that phrases like "exclusive" and "free" are filled with all sorts of other double meanings that our forefathers never intended. This is a harbinger of a 1984-style fascist state if I ever saw one, so make sure you always own a lot of gray jumpsuits and can stare for hours at nothing in particular.

6) That thing you want? It's bad for you. Too much of it can kill you, and probably will at this rate.

7) By the time you reach 22, all the good jobs will be either shipped to another country or filled by a geriatric person who because of advancements in modern medicine will never die. Welcome to America, little one. Hope you speak Portugese, 'cuz they're comin' next.

8) If you must use a credit card, make sure it's somebody else's. Identity theft is a crime, but it's a crime no law enforcement cares about because it doesn't have to do with protecting corporate interests or making money for municipalities.

9) John Mark Carr? That's you in 20 years if you don't unbutton that top button right now.

10) Girls will slap your glasses clean off if you're ugly and make passes at them. If you're not ugly, make all the passes you want and don't even bother getting contacts.

11) There are two kinds of people in this world -- those who will get you the best deal they possibly can, and those who will get you to spend the most money they possibly can. I'll give you two guesses as to which one Papa John is.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

CW: 1+1=(3/4)

It was destiny, this merger of the two minor-league networks. The only question is, what took them so long? In combining, they could get rid of all their crappy shows and keep only the good ones, right? Right? Why is everybody laughing?

I don't know enough about the WB or UPN to know which shows were made redundant, but I do know the shows that made it. In Gilmore Girls, Smallville, and Veronica Mars they have the trinity of shows that people swear to me are good, but that I won't (or can't) watch. Especially that stinky Smallville. In 7th Heaven, they have a show I could have sworn was ending last year. I thought the national nightmare was over, but it looks like maybe not. Sometimes they come back.

Because the schedule is so crowded, there's only a couple of new shows here. That's probably good...let the network get on its feet before introducing an all-new schedule of shows that will be cancelled in two weeks.

Shows I can't believe are still on:

One Tree Hill -- It's a punchline at this point, right? It's boring, it's got a horrible title, it gets bad ratings, but every year it's back on the schedule. Who watches this show?

Everwood -- Oh, wait...this show was actually cancelled. I guess I can believe it's still not on. But why didn't they also cancel the other "forest" drama, One Tree Hill? I could never keep those two shows straight. Is Everwood the one with the earnest-looking bearded guy?

New Shows:

Runaway -- Donnie "The New Kid" Wahlberg stars as a man wrongly convicted of murder who runs away with his family to Iowa in what can only be described as a "self-made reverse Witness Protection Program." They need to keep their stories straight, but will their kids spill the beans? Will Donnie be able to find the real killer before John Law finds him? Sadly, nobody cares.

The Game -- Ok, somebody's playing a joke at the Yahoo!!! web site for this show. They list "Brittany Daniel" as playing "Kelly," but it's clearly somebody else. If Ms. Daniel was on the show, that would mean that 1/2 of two different sets of mildly famous TV twins would be on it. That's gotta be a joke. Anyway, Tia Mowry of the Disney yukfest Sister, Sister stars as the wife of an NFL football player. Uh-huh. So her husband's going to repeatedly cheat on her, and that's comedy gold, apparently. Wait a second -- the CW website has Ms. Daniel listed, too. What gives? Is this show a joke or not? Sadly, nobody cares.

FOX: Nevermind the Blood on Our Hands

FOX will forever be known for two things: The Simpsons, and being the network that killed the most influential program of the early 21st century, Arrested Development. The FOX schedule sure looks empty this year without it. It doesn't matter, though -- they'll just end up running 200 encore presentations of the failed bit known as Prison Break a few weeks in after all their new shows fail to get audiences.

In other words, it's a good thing they have American Idol, The Simpsons, and House right now, because if they didn't, you'd be looking at the third member of the "CW" network. Actually, with those three shows alone they're probably doing better than ABC.

Shows I can't believe are still on:

The War at Home -- Man, this is the worst show on TV! Michael Rappaport's voice makes everybody's ears bleed. What's the deal, America? I can't accept the fact that they cancelled Arrested but kept this bloody banshee of a show. Aach, it pains me.

American Dad -- Does the world really need two Family Guys? Really? Sure, Family Guy is funny and all, and the story of its resurrection really is amazing, but it makes no sense to dilute its effect with a show that is its clone.

Nanny 911 -- I guess it's cheap to produce.

New Shows:

Vanished -- Gets the award for "Most Intriguing Concept" of the new season: A senator's wife vanishes from a charity function, and slowly the characters (and the audience) try to find her and learn that she was way more than she appeared on the surface. Yes, it's an easier-to-digest version of Twin Peaks. No, I don't think we'll see any dancing midgets. You can watch the whole pilot episode right now at that Yahoo!!!! Fall TV Preview, and you'll see what I mean. Seems like a lot of ham-handed attempts to get us to think this senator's wife is a saint who's full of secrets. Who knows? Maybe that gum you like is coming back in sty-eel.

Till Death -- Brad Garrett and that brown-haired girl from Ellen are a jaded "older" couple who live next to a young newlywed couple. The olds teach the youngs to embrace a jaded hate-based marriage, and the youngs teach the olds a thing or two about love. Aww. Yeah, it's Everybody Loves Raymond, only with no family crap and presumably less yelling. In other words, with no point. And how did Brad Garrett end up on FOX?

Justice -- Four high-powered defense attorneys (led by the guy who played Jack Bristow) use all their lawyerly powers to get defendents off the hook, regardless of their guilt or innocence. Isn't that super? The best part is at the end of each episode a flashback will tell us (the audience) whether the defendant was guilty or innocent. That's a weird idea, but I am interested. I hope we get to see a lot of episodes where the guy did it, the lawyers get a "not guilty" verdict, and the devil starts furnishing the rooms of the lawyers in hell for their evil work. I realize my expectations might not be realistic.

Standoff -- For me, it's impossible to see Ron Livingston as anybody other than Peter Gibbons. Therefore, this is a show about Peter taking a job as a hostage negotiator and sleeping with his partner. I don't know what happened to Joanna. Anyway, to stay working together they have to tell their superior, Anna Espinosa, that they're cutting off the relationship. Then they go into tense situations and do the dance of, "do they or don't they care about each other?" I don't know why, but I get the feeling there doth protest about this relationship too much. See? Now you know what's going to happen, so you don't even have to watch it.

Happy Hour -- A standard laugh-track sitcom from the "executive producers" of That 70's Show. I wonder, have they executively produced anything since then? Let's take a look. Nope, nothing. Why do they have to mention this? Does the executive producer do anything besides meddle anyway? "From the empty suits who brought you That 70's Show comes a show that actually looks like it might be funny. We have no idea how this happened, but we're pretty happy about it."