Toy Story 3 is actually about the Holocaust.

One thing you can always count on every summer is knowing which movie is a lock for that “Best Animated Feature” category for the Academy Awards. As if it’s any real surprise, it’s usually a Pixar movie. I know, right?

Anyway, despite being a fun family film that is making tons of money and receiving a slew of critical acclaim, Toy Story 3 is already being studied for deeper meanings.  One interesting theory popping up around the ol’ internet is that it’s really an allegory for the Holocaust. I guess it makes sense. The toys believe they can find solitude in the attic, ala Anne Frank, the Sunnyside Daycare center is almost as terrifying as Auschwitz, and the big climax involves the toys in danger of being burned in a giant furnace.

Personally, I liked the part where Mr. Potato head was a pita. Hahaha!

For more information on this theory, check out this article, or consult your local Google.

STAR WARS, A review by Armond White

STAR WARS
Reviewed by Armond White
May 24th, 1977

George Lucas’ STAR WARS is essentially a B-picture amped up with state-of-the-art special effects, disguising itself as a big blockbuster, in an attempt to trump the success of the popular killer fish movie, JAWS. Audiences will no doubt revel in its escapism, though what Lucas has really done here is sell us trash painted gold.

The plot borrows elements from just about everything under the sun: 1950’s science fiction serials, Samurai films, and even The Wizard Of Oz. The story follows two robots, very obviously meant to represent black slaves. They are loyal, obedient, they cater to every whim of the white man, and only prove useful up to a certain point. The film is much more interested in the white men, a young boy named Luke and an older “Jedi” named Ben Kenobi, who retrieve important information from the slave robots- information crucial to protect the entire galaxy. What this information is to be exact, I’m not sure, it’s more a macguffin and an excuse to embark on Luke’s wondrous adventure through the galaxy, where we meet even more white characters (including the beautiful white princess), while vile, disfigured alien beings (the black man) are settled into the background. More decoration than importance to the preposterous plot.

It troubles me greatly that even with all the progress the black community has made with civil rights, Hollywood is still reluctant to cast a perfectly capable African American actor in the lead role of its big event pictures. What if instead of the rosy-cheeked all-American white boy playing Luke, they cast Fred Williamson or Billy Dee Williams? They’ve made names for themselves, and they could draw their audiences. Though maybe the wrong audience. God forbid suburban Drive-ins would start to look a little darker. No, an actor such as Fred Williamson would display too much confidence and self-awareness in the role. Having a young, white boy as the lead feeds audiences of white America exactly what they want to consume: a plucky, ignorant character, with a good heart, but apparently no soul. America is in trouble.

It offends me personally that the only actor of color included in the film is James Earl Jones, who does not actually appear on-screen, but rather as the voice of the villain, Dark Vader. Dark Vader is dressed head to toe in black, has a bad temper, and kills/assaults other characters at the drop of a hat. Naturally, it would only be deemed appropriate to have a black man voice this character. This character alone has pushed the black movement back decades.

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Its heart is not in the right place. It may win over young ones with its dazzling adventure scenes and loud noises, but be warned: when you approach that ticket booth, you’re not just handing over hard-earned cash, you’re exchanging your soul. Underneath its despicable racism and its shoe-string of a plot, STAR WARS also prides itself in its godlessness. No character believes in God, instead worships “the force”, energy that surrounds every living being and gives them power. Give me a break. Time magazine has stated that God is dead. With STAR WARS, I’ve seen the future, and it only gets worse.

The special effects may interest children and white men with low I.Q.s, but at the end of the day, it is a very disposable piece of distraction. The movie will make its money and be done with, making room for the next trend in shallow entertainment. I award the film 0 stars, it is an appalling mess that is easy on the eyes. I hated it. I was offended by it. God help anyone in line to see it this weekend. Instead, may I recommend John Boorman’s brilliant EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC, a sequel every bit as good as the original. It is compelling, provocative, and allows James Earl Jones to actually show his face! It will be the more talked about and higher regarded film of the summer.

0 out of ****

©1977 The New York Press

If you’d like to learn more about Armond White, please consult your local Library or pay a visit to Rotten Tomatoes.

NOTE: This is not an actual review written by Armond White, just a mere tribute to his excellent logic and writing craft.

Why can’t Hollywood make good action movies?

The A Team is being released this week and from what I’ve read about it so far, it looks like the action scenes are incomprehensible, CGI-laden, and feature that blasted shaky-cam. How depressing. Not because I had particularly high hopes for The A Team, but because you could apply those observations to very nearly every single action movie that comes out. Maybe they’re hiring poor choices of directors. Surely Joe Carnahan is not an ideal director for anything, really. This guy was once a promising director and has turned out to be just as big of a hack as Uwe Boll. His debut film Narc was a brilliant throwback to gritty ’70’s cop movies, but it turns out this guy can only throwback, not move forward, and can only derive his shit from other shit. Despite endlessly defending himself about certain accusations, his next film, Smokin’ Aces, was very obviously a Tarantino-wannabe and even though I know it has its admirers, I thought it was an irredeemable piece of crap. So it’s only appropriate that Carnahan’s next project would be a big-screen adaptation of a cheesy 1980’s TV show.

So I guess you could blame the directors. Argue that they’re all hacks and only care about money, blah, blah, blah. There’s some truth to that, no doubt, but good, talented directors are out there, and I’m sure they’re just as capable of making shitty movies as anyone else. Take John Woo, for example. Probably best known for his action masterpiece, The Killer, he also made a smooth transition to American action with films like Broken Arrow and the spectacularly awesome Face/off. Then the 1990’s ended and it was as if someone threw a switch and his movies started to suck. Mission Impossible II, WindTalkers, Paycheck? Is there something in the water???

Maybe it’s CGI. Yeah, that makes sense. The Matrix blew everybody away with its amazing and innovative effects in 1999 and everybody wanted a piece of that. So action films are definitely too reliant on CGI. I’d rather have a perfectionist director willing to risk the lives of some crewmembers than a caffiene-fueled, spray-tanned spaz rushing productions and yelling, “We’ll fix that in post!” But the thing is, the first Matrix really blended CGI well with actual live-action stunts. CGI and live-action can be friends. CGI can be a powerful tool, not a crutch.

I suppose that’s what really bugs me. What happened to outrageous stunts, cool fight scenes, and real car chases? (I’d like to exlude Jason Bourne from the argument, thank you Jason Bourne) With all the CGI and shaky cam, and fast cuts, I never believe that what’s taking place on screen is actually real. When you see a cool stunt like a motorcycle crash or a daring leap-and know they are stunts- you at least know that there is a trained professional doing it, and you can suspend your disbelief that it may not be the lead actor doing it because you know it’s at least real, and it’s very thrilling. I see snippets of a tank thrown out of a plane with a parachute or something like that in the A Team commercials, and I know I’m looking at computer-generated pixels, most likely developed by a geek behind a computer desk.

CGI is only the tip of the iceberg, though. How about more compelling characters? John Mclane of Die Hard may be a fucking badass, but we all know that the core of the movie was him trying to save and reconcile with his wife. That drove the entire thing as far as I’m concerned, and without the wife, it’s just a badass doing badass things for no real reason other than the fact the he’s a badass. Mclane was a vulnerable character, emotionally, and physically (stepping on the glass! ouch!), and that was truly endearing. How many action movies today would take a 5-minute breather scene where our hero expresses how much he loves his wife and how sorry he is for being a dick the entire marriage? Little touches like that count for a lot. And it’s not like I’m being nostalgic or anything, it’s not like Die Hard has such a quintessentially 80’s style that it could never be done today. Why, why I ask you, is it so hard for action movies to have actually interesting characters these days?

Speaking of nostalgia, we got a big movie coming up this summer: The Expendables. Now, I hate to say it, but this film is bound to disappoint, even if it is really good, too. Why? Because many people are banking on the hope that this will single-handedly save the entire action genre. I’ll admit it, I’m one of these people. But just because it’s a film starring all the great action stars doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a great action movie. I hope I’m wrong, but just look at it this way: once again it has the same problem as Joe Carnahan. It’s a throwback. We shouldn’t be looking back on the old glory days, we should be looking forward to new and exciting possibilities with action flicks. We need less throwbacks, tributes, rip-offs, TV show adaptations, and more original works.

How strange is it that the most stunningly original action picture of recent years has been Crank, an action romp so fucking over-the-top it works just as well as a parody of itself as it works as a fun, mindless action movie. I’m not saying we need more movies like Crank, but it’s a step in the right direction. There are many super heroes that are successful in what they set out to do: X-Men, Iron Man, The Dark Knight, but I’m wondering if you can completely classify them as action- seeing as there are so many super hero movies these days it’s practically its own genre. And we got Jason Bourne. Yeah, the Bourne movies. Who would have thought one of the best action series of recent years would star the guy from Good Will Hunting? So you do have sift through some serious shit to get to the good stuff.

What we really need is an action movie renaissance. We need more experimental stuff like Crank, more character drive behind the action like with The Dark Knight, and more physical stunts instead of CGI like with the Bourne films. We need more good action movies, Hollywood!

Movie Review: Splice (2010)

Splice is one of the few big movies out this summer that isn’t a sequel, spin-off, remake, re-imagining, or anything like that. However, I’d hardly say it’s original. We all know that the whole “scientist screwing with the laws of nature” concept has been done to death- going back as early as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Fortunately, the movie is well aware of this, and offers some fresh ideas. I was quite pleased at how quickly it breezes through the obligatory “They’re shutting our research down, let’s work on our project in secret” bullshit and goes straight to the creating of abominations of God. It goes through a very interesting process. Splice aims to fascinate rather than repulse, so don’t expect to be too grossed out. This is the kind of movie that Alien design creator H.R. Giger would be proud of. It’s the absurd, psycho-sexual theatre of oddities that something like Alien: Resurrection could only dream of being like (note the possible tip of the hat: the incubation machine is named the “BETI” and sports a similar pin-up to the ship in A:R ).

The strength of the movie, I feel, is in its creature effects. If you don’t have a convincing creature, you don’t have a movie, and I thought they pulled off this creature, “Dren,” very well. Not only did it blend CGI and makeup effects seamlessly, but the performance by Delphine Chanéac should be given a lot of credit for adding dimension to the creature. I didn’t see a special effect: I saw living being that thought and felt, and even schemed. I should hail the performances of Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley as well, they added some credibility to the project and their characters are reasonably developed and well-rounded.

It delves a little deeper than the average creature feature. When the characters inevitably express their regret with toying with mother nature, I truly believed it this time around, but it’s certainly not limited to a preachy “Thou Shalt Not Disrupt The Natural Order”-type message. What the message is, I can’t really say for sure. If anything, it’s almost a twisted Adam and Eve kind of story, where the Godless characters abandon all that is good simply because- I suppose- they can’t get off on normal procreation anymore. They suffer the consequences.

The bad news is that while it does take a few steps above the norm (there are some truly bizarre moments that I can’t even begin to describe), it suffers from going by-the-numbers at times, particularly by the end. So it doesn’t exactly reach the heights it wants to, and at the same time, it doesn’t serve up nearly enough thrills for people looking for a mainstream scarefest, so I’m wondering if there’s even really an audience for this movie. Without giving anything away, I’ll tell you that one of the last lines in the film is the classic, fate-tempting question, “What’s the worst that could happen?” The answer: Splice 2, straight to video.