Friday, May 30, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Showgirls (Part 2)

Click here for Part One!

But this is still Showgirls, so we have to take things too far as he starts berating Nomi because her nipples don't stick out far enough and this is the part where I point out Eszterhas was paid ALMOST FOUR MILLION DOLLARS to write this movie. And this was back in the early 90s when Hollywood budgets weren't the insanity-laced trainwrecks they are today.

Nomi finally has enough of Tony's asshole-dom, so she STORMS OFF back into the dressing room where she runs into Cristal, who was watching the entire audition. Nomi tells Cristal that she hates her, to which Cristal responds “I know”. Not quite Han and Leia, is it?  Nomi leaves the hotel, where she just happens to bump into Plummer who is now working there as a bellhop. Good God, this guy is like Lois Lane in Man Of Steel, able to appear wherever the plot needs me for lazy convenience in a single bound.  Nomi tells him she just auditioned to be a showgirl, and he unintentionally sums up how totally moronic the entire plot for this movie really is:

“You don't want to be in this kind of show. What you're doing, at least it's honest. They want tits and ass, you give them tits and ass. Here, they pretend they want something else, and you still show them tits and ass.”

Really, how am I supposed to follow that?

A Ghoul Versus Showgirls (Part 1)

Follow one woman's EPIC QUEST to go from being a full nude dancer to a topless dancer!”

We've got a tough one today, perhaps one of the hardest movies ever to pin down. Showgirls is a rather notorious film, for years it was hailed as one of the worst movies ever made but at the same time has steadily grown a massive cult following that celebrate it as THE “So Bad It's Good” movie. And I'm not kidding when I say MASSIVE, it has gone on to become one of MGM's best selling home video release of all time.  Which means it gets to rub shoulders with Gone With The Wind, Apocalypse Now, Ben-Hur, and... oh geez, Willow?! Okay, so that achievement isn't THAT impressive.

On paper, this film had everything going for it. It was to be directed by Paul Verhoeven, who was MOLTEN HOT at the time as his last three movies had been the smash hits Robocop, Total Recall, and Basic Instinct, the films having grossed over $600 million dollars domestically. Which, when adjusted for inflation, is probably like a kazillion dollars, give or take a jillion.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Stephenie Meyer's The Host (Part 2)

Click here for Part One!

Back in the caverns Jared and Kyle arrive, and Jared is back to wanting to kill Wanda again. Make up your mind dude! Jamie stops him, revealing the truth about Melanie. Jared doesn't believe this and storms off. Wanda apologizes to Jeb for all the trouble she's caused, offering to go back to her cell. Ian says she can stay with him instead, because either he's gallant like that or because the only other woman we've really seen in the resistance just happens to be old Aunt Maggie.

Ian sets up Wanda in his cave, telling her he trusts her and believes her. Melanie thinks he likes her too much, Wanda asking what that means. Melanie replies “If I've got anything to do with it, you'll never find out” in this weird Texan accent she hasn't had the entire movie! RHHARGHHHHH!  Jared wakes up from a dream about having sex with Melanie, as he suddenly realizes the only other sexually compatible woman for him in the movie is Maggie.

A Ghoul Versus Stephenie Meyer's The Host (Part 1)

"The first foray into the twisted world of Stephenie Meyer..."

Stephenie Meyer! Is there a more polarizing name in the world of fiction today? Love her or hate her, you can't deny she's changed the entire landscape of pop culture entertainment as we know it. Whether that's a good thing or a terrible thing is a completely different story, but we're not here to talk about that today.

What we are here to discuss is the Host, Meyer's first stab at the sci-fi genre. Published a few months before the final book of her Twilight saga, it was a fair success but never matched the popularity of her more well known works. Naturally Hollywood snapped up the rights to the book, as the first Twilight film had grossed nearly 400 million dollars and EVERYONE could see that Meyer was the next cinematic goldmine.

Production problems pushed the film's release all the way back to 2013, at which time Meyer Mania (TM) had long since died down so the film likely lost out on millions and millions of dollars it could have made had it come out a couple of years earlier. Hollywood never has quite mastered striking when the proverbial iron is hot, has it?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Vampire Academy (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

Rose leaves, bumping into Christian on the way out. He was coming to make sure Lissa is okay, but Rose tells him to stay away from her. He tells her Lissa likes him, and Rose replies with this line:

“Lissa used to like Hot Topic too, and then she turned twelve”.

Ahhh, there it is. This line made me curious enough about the books, so I actually downloaded the first book to see how loyal the movie was being to it. The book has ZERO references to Twilight or Hot Topic, which leads me to believe Daniel Waters wrote this entire movie as a middle finger to the entire genre. I mean the guy is in his fifties now, this entire supernatural teen genre has to be such nonsense to him. I could be totally wrong, after all this is the guy who wrote Hudson Hawk so I could be giving him WAY too much credit, but there is definitely a tone to this movie that makes me feel I'm right. Also, making fun of Hot Topic customers is MY gig Vampire Academy, OKAY?

Christian says he was only being concerned, Rose saying there's a fine line between concerned and stalker. Jesus Christ, what did he DO? It was clearly established Christian was going to the church long before Lissa was, if anything she's stalking HIM. Rose tells Christian to go away because it's what Lissa wants. Nice, 37 minutes into the movie and I DESPISE our “heroine” now. Well done movie!

He started off a little rough, but Christian has been a nice guy who has been helping Lissa through the bad time she's had since returning to the academy, as well as defending the honour of her AND Rose. Rose just comes off as a complete bitchy sociopath here.  The next morning Rose FINALLY reads the telegram Olga gave her after a couple of scenes teasing her opening it. Yeah, it's only been a few days why not? She meets Dimitri outside for more training and some monotonous line reading on his part, during which we learn Rose's mother is one of the most badass guardians in the world. Dimitri asks what the telegram said, and this ought to be good after all that build up!

“Glad you're alive. What you did was inexcusable. Mom.” Oh. Huh.

They talk for what seems to be forever, the only worthwhile information that Rose knows nothing of her Moroi father. Rose goes back inside the school, where she runs into Mia. Rose tells her the world beware doesn't have an “h” in it, Mia furrowing her brow at her like “WTF are you talking about?” Rose makes a note of this as she meets up with Natalie, who tells her Mia and Aaron are going on a field trip to a hemoglobin factory later that day.

WHAT?! The vampires take field trips? Does this actually mean the human world knows about their existence? Or do they just pretend they're a normal school? If so, how do they deal with state inspection drills? Also, what the hell is a hemoglobin factory? Is that a human thing or a Moroi thing? I googled it to no avail, so it must be a Moroi thing. Also, I am completely bored to tears by this movie so am trying to grab onto anything to stay interested.

Oh, we're only forty minutes in? Hmm. Natalie wants to raid Mia's room while she's at... the hemoglobin factory. A factory. To produce hemoglobin. Which is a substance in blood that carries oxygen throughout the body. Why would the Moroi even need to mass produce hemoglobin when they have a never ending supply of humans willing to volunteer their blood?

Lissa-Vision time! Rose watches as Lissa uses compulsion on all the Popular Kids to make them hang out with her. What a fine use of her powers. I'd ask why she's against using powers against the strigoi who want to brutally kill her when she has no problem using them against her fellow classmates, but I just really want to survive this review.

Christian walks by and Lissa tries to talk to him, but she tells her she doesn't have to pretend anymore and keeps walking. Nice one Rose, you're a champ. Back at Lissa's, the three women go through Mia's laptop while Natalie was easily able to steal. Lissa doesn't care about any of this, getting dressed up for a night out with the Popular Kids. Natalie sighs, wishing Lissa would compulse Ray into taking her virginity. They are taking this cliché WAY too far, Ray is a complete monster and no matter how good looking he is there's no way the kind hearted Natalie would still be into him.

Rose finds pictures of Lissa's brother Andre and Mia, who were secretly dating. Rose tells Natalie how Andre was a player who went through women like crazy, not caring about any of them. From these pictures, she concludes Mia fell in love with Andre and felt very betrayed that he didn't love her back. Since Rose is just making up bullshit, Natalie joins in by saying Mia now hates the entire Dragomir line.

We go to a montage of Lissa taking away all of Mia's friends as Rose narrates this is turning Lissa into someone she's not. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the reboot of Mean Girls! Lissa is Cady and Mia is Regina, and Lissa is using compulsion to turn the Plastics against Mia instead of lies and nutrition bars.

We fast forward ahead some as Rose is now starting to kick ass in training. After one session, Mason tells her how he saw Jesse and Ray with bandages over their wrists while they were getting dressed in the locker room. As they ponder what this could mean, they see Mia walking by with her wrists covered up too. They follow her as she meets with Olga in a secretive looking fashion.  This motivates Rose to break into Olga's office, and you want a perfect example of how the scenes in this movie end? Here you go:

Rose: There's a file in there that could be the key to my past, my present, and my future.
Mason: That's it? Sounds cool.

End scene.

Or how about the next scene? Rose and Dimitri are training AGAIN, and Dimitri ends up lying on top of her. Rose makes a sexually suggestive comment and he pulls her to her feet.

End scene. Hell she barely even gets on her feet before it cuts away.

Now Rose is breaking into Olga's office, although I wouldn't say breaking as much as she just walks in and takes Karp's file. Now Rose is back in her room, finding a DVD in Karp's file and watching it on her computer. The video is of Karp rambling about her powers, but before it gets interesting a screen says the rest of footage is on another disc the file doesn't contain.

Now Rose is in church, sitting by Christian. He tells him about what she did, asking for his help with Lissa but he's rightfully pissed at her and leaves. Now Rose is at a school wide party, but gets sick of Lissa's attitude and leaves. Lissa follows her, Rose trying to tell her about Christian but Lissa doesn't care. Natalie pops up, saying something is following her. We hear a howling, Rose saying it's a psi-hound and tells everyone to run. Natalie asks what a psi-hound is, but no one feels like answering.

They run to the courtyard, where Lissa sees her backpack lying in the center of the area. Rose notices small cameras are mounted everywhere, but before she can investigate them Lissa grabs her backpack and opens it. She finds her cat dead inside, trying to resurrect it but the strain makes her pass out. A series of slashes suddenly appear on her arm. Animals being hurt, threats written on walls... does this remind you of anything? Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets much?

This prompts another Karp flashback as we learn Karp used compulsion to make Rose and Lissa flee the academy because of a great danger inside the school. You know, this movie is juggling a LOT of subplots right now. What are the odds it's able to reconcile all of them?  We get our millionth cut of the last ten minutes as Rose is telling Olga and the school board about what Karp said. Dimitri tells Olga it's time they tell Rose about Karp, to which Olga agrees with because the only thing consistent about her character is being inconsistent. Remember seven million hours ago when she tried to molest Rose? WTF was THAT?

A couple of months after Rose and Lissa left, Karp suffered a complete mental breakdown. She became a strigoi to make the pain away, because strigoi don't feel pain or suffering or anything. Karp killed her doctor and escaped the academy, and hasn't been seen since.

Rose heads to the church to research stuff where she runs into Christian, who agrees to help her. They learn St. Vladimir had a rare magical ability called “spirit”, which sounds like what Lissa has. This is pretty much their exact words, they don't tell us what it actually is. Rose wonders what the “bad guys” want from Lissa, Christian suggesting Tatiana, Olga, and Mia could all be working together to drive her crazy. Characters just LOVE to make up shit in this movie, don't they? It's an okay theory I suppose, but Rose immediately takes it as fact.

Rose brings up the cuts on Lissa's skin, which horrifies Christian. Rose then delivers the absolute lowest point of the movie, and CEMENTS her status as THE most vile character in supernatural teen history:

Christian, she really could have used your support these past few weeks.”

Bella Swan, turn in your crown to Rose Hathaway immediately.  Instead of responding with “Hey, I would have been happy to be there if YOU HADN'T SABOTAGED US YOU STUPID FUCKING BITCH!”, Christian says it's LISSA'S fault they haven't been together. OH MY GOD this fucking movie... this HAS to be a stealth parody of how stupid characters act in the genre, I will accept no other answer at this point.

Rose says it is never the girl's fault, even when it is the girl's fault. So she's AGREEING with Christian now?! It is ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PERCENT your fault Rose! She escapes this entire episode blame free? Utterly amazing. Christian jokes is she wasn't so psychotic, she'd be fun to hang out with.

We see them leave the library a bit later, hugging and all laughs now. As Christian walks away Lissa pops out and angrily confronts him, demanding to know what he was doing with Rose. He replies they were just reading, telling her what they learned about spirit magic. He says they want to help her, but Lissa says she doesn't need any help and begins to rant. He cuts her off by kissing her, but she pushes him off, tells him she hates him, and runs away. Wow.

Rose, who watched this whole scene on Lissa-Vision, runs after her trying to explain. As they power walk, a hole opens up in the ground that Rose steps into and breaks her ankle in what is a VERY vicious looking break that actually made me cringe. I have to give that one to the movie, but that is nowhere near enough to redeem it after what we just saw.

Rose wakes up in the hospital, where she learns Lissa healed her leg. The princess tells her she's “back to normal now”, getting the Mean Girls out of her system when she saw Rose's ankle break. Oh... kay? Olga arrives to tell them advisers from Romania are now on the way to deal with all this bullshit and the two women are to be sequestered, so they're going to miss the big dance tonight.

Geez, this movie shifts gears more than a drag race. Victor shows up and announces they ARE going to go. Lissa tells him they haven't a thing to wear, but he replies he's “engineered a shopping expedition”. The movie misses a MAJOR opportunity here for him to pull out a handful of credits cards accompanied by a “CHA-CHING!” sound effect, which is the only thing that could have saved this film. I swear to the high heavens, if we get a “trying on dresses to a pop song while the girls shake their heads until they finally give a thumbs up on the perfect one” montage, I am ending this fucking review.

They head to the mall, taking a back entrance guarded by a guardian. For some reason he gives Rose a UV light that'll help her blind strigoi, which really makes me look forward to a mall brawl. That's something you don't see much in movies anymore.

As they pick out clothes, Rose's eyes fall on a beautiful necklace that is way too expensive for her. They pick out their dresses and return to Lissa's to get glammed up, cheating us out of a mall brawl. Why did the guy give Rose a weapon then? They notice Lissa's laptop now has a screen saver on it that says tonight will be here last dance. Wow, these are the LAMEST threats I've ever seen since a video game called Alone in the Dark: Inferno, which featured a villain who sent you threatening text messages. Congratulations Alone in the Dark, you're as scary as my ex-girlfriend!

Natalie gives Rose a gift from her father, which turns out to be the necklace she was looking at at the mall. Boy, that Victor sure is a nice guy! The three head to the dance, where they enter in a slow motion shot.

Lissa starts dancing with Christian, who apologizes for kissing her. She responds by kissing him. Mason shows up with Jesse and Ray, making them apologize to rose. Ray says Mia let them have sex with her if they played all the pranks on Lissa. Like, at the same time?! Sure enough, the answer is yes as we get a flashback of them, post-sex, writing on Lissa's walls with their cut open wrists. Natalie, you get an AIDS test STAT!

That is so fucked up that I LOVE it. This is exactly what the whole movie should have been like tone-wise, just bizarre imagery that makes your stomach turn. This is almost enough to make up for the Rose/Christian scene earlier, although it does make the Rose/Mia confrontation earlier a bit confusing now as the movie really made it seem like Mia had no idea what Rose was talking about. I mean, I guess Mia is that good at deception since she's just a one-note bitch, but I don't know... seemed like otherwise.

Ray says they didn't do the fox or the cat though. Rose makes him go dance with Natalie, which just further proves she's a horrible, horrible person. Sabotaging Lissa and Christian and then blaming it all on him, and now trying to hook her friend up with a walking STD-bag. Lovely.  Rose and Mia get in a fight, Rose punching her out. The guardians take Rose away and lock her in a room, Rose tuning into Lissa-Vision to see what her best friend is up to. She's in the church making out with Christian, but strangers knock him out and kidnap Lissa.

Olga shows up with a syringe, not listening as Rose tries to tell her about Lissa. Rose turns the tables on the headmistress and injects her in the ass, Olga making a lame joke before she passes out. Damn, Olga has the worst luck with syringes in my reviews!

Rose sprints to Dimitri's room, telling him about Lissa. However, midway through she's like “fuck it!” and starts kissing him. What the-?! He responds back as they start undressing each other, and the camera immediately explains what's going on by constantly cutting to Rose's necklace. So yeah, Victor's the bad guy and did something to the necklace. Dimitri realizes this and tears it off, both guardians coming out of their little sex trance. Rose immediately returns to “we need to save Lissa!”

They check with the guardian watching the front gate, but she says no one has left the ground. The three get in Dimitri's SUV to drive... somewhere? Where are they going? Why wouldn't they go search where Lissa was taken first for clues? Rose sees Christian is hiding in the backseat, but doesn't tell the other guardians. I love when a movie starts throwing any logic out the window so we can have our Big Dumb Ending. How in the world would Christian know to hide in Dimitri's SUV? A scene of him waking up and trying to find Rose would have been helpful, but I guess the movie figured it was much more important having our leads stripping.

Rose NOW uses Lissa-Vision to find Lissa, and hey look, she's tied to a chair in front of Victor. What a shock. He refuses to make eye contact with her as that's the only way to avoid compulsion. I bet you've already guessed his entire plan because at this point the film is just on autopilot.

He was behind the dead animals, as they were a way to test Lissa's healing abilities. Which makes no sense as she wasn't able to heal either, so wouldn't that mean her powers weren't strong enough to heal his disease? He makes more sense when he reveals he used his earth magic to break Rose's ankle to see if Rose could heal that, although I fail to see how healing a bone would mean she could heal whatever the hell Sandovsky's Syndrome is.

Lissa says Rose will find her thanks to their bond, but he says his enchanted necklace will keep her a bit preoccupied.  She asks why didn't he just ask her to heal him, which is a great question. He answers because it'll take multiple sessions to fully heal him, which will ultimately kill her. He says the Moroi need a strong leader, which he can't be because of his disease. Lissa won't help him, so he brings in an air magic Moroi to torture her. The Moroi is blind, so he'll be immune to her compulsion.

Ooh, magic torture! This should be interesting! I wonder how he's going to do it? Violently suck the breath in and out of her body? Blast her eyes with small torrents of air? Use the wind to slowly pull out her finger nails? Oh, lightly blowing on her face? Y-yeah... I guess that works too...

The fuck?  This is supposed to be dramatic and tension filled and it's a guy freaking BLOWING ON HER FACE!  This causes Lissa so much pain she relents and heals Victor, passing out in the process. I really wish I could have seen this in theaters now, there is NO WAY the audience didn't burst into laughter during this scene.  The SUV arrives outside Victor's house, Dimitri and the female guardian going inside to beat everyone up. Rose, who he stupidly believed would stay in the car, takes Christian and sneaks inside to find Lissa.

The princess is doing just fine on her own though, as she uses compulsion to escape the house because for some reason no one thought it'd be a good idea to blindfold her. Hmm. When they kidnapped her they blindfolded her, but no... let's just leave her alone in a room with a single guard and hope she plays fair.  Outside, Lissa runs into two psi-hounds which are giant menacing dogs with evil eyes. Victor watches this from a video feed, telling his sidekick they won't attack her unless he says so. Lissa runs, but her way is blocked by a helicopter that lands in front of her. Sure, why not?

Rose arrives and beats up the pilot, but then Victor arrives and shoots Christian in the stomach. Before he can shoot Rose, Dimitri jumps him and handcuffs him. Victor sics the psi-hounds on Lissa in retaliation, but Christian uses his powers to engulf them in flames which causes them to run away. Lissa tells Rose she needs to save Christian but her powers are spent from healing Victor, so Rose offers her neck. Lissa chows down and saves her boyfriend, everyone passing out. I've never seen an action climax so boring it put all the heroes to sleep, but here we are.

Later, Olga meets with Rose in her office. She says Victor will be transferred to the “royal court prison” for trial while the Dashkov family is coming to pick up Natalie. She gives Rose another telegram from her mother and hot damn that got there in a hurry! It's been maybe a couple hours tops since the “battle” with Victor, so somehow Rose's mom heard about all this, sent a telegram that must have arrived with Moroi magic because- ah, nevermind. What's it say? I'm sure something REALLY epic and important since it defied the laws of time and space to arrive at the academy.

Proud. Mom.”. Oh.

Rose talks to Dimitri in the hallway afterward about what happened to them, but he says it was just the necklace and he has no feelings in her. She is all smiles as she says she doesn't believe him. Olga walks up to them, saying Victor wants to speak to Rose about being shadow-kissed. I can't put into words how awful she delivers that sentence. Dimitri says no way, but Rose tells him he's not the boss of her and she's suddenly very angry at him. Character consistency, this movie has none.

Rose goes into the holding cells to see him, and immediately starts talking about Dimitri liking her because that's THE most important thing going on here. Victor makes fun of her for this, and I'm pretty sure Victor is just Daniel Waters's author avatar at this point, mocking how all these teen girls put their relationships over everything else. But Victor goes on to console her that the charm couldn't have worked if Dimitri didn't have feelings for her in the first place.

She THEN asks about shadow-kissed, Victor telling her there's no way Rose could have survived the car accident. We see a flashback of Lissa crawling over to heal Rose as Victor narrates this is what awakened her powers, as she used them to heal Rose and create their bond.

As Victor talks, we can see the prison guards behind Rose being attacked. Victor tells Rose she's been kissed by the shadows, as she crossed over to the other side before being brought back to life by Lissa. Rose finally notices the last guard dying, as we see Natalie is the killer. She is now a strigoi, revealed to have been working with her father the entire time. She killed the fox and the cat, and killed Ray after the dance to become a strigoi. This leads to this CHARMING exchange:

Natalie: Killing him was a lot more fun than losing my virginity to him would've been.
Rose: And with a lot more blood.

God. You stay classy Vampire Academy! Rose and Natalie fight as Victor escapes. Rose uses the UV light she got earlier to blind her, but finds she doesn't have the willpower to kill her former friend. Victor is about to leave via elevator when Dimitri emerges from it, knocking him out. Geez Victor is a worthless villain. Dimitri then attacks Natalie, Rose holding her captive while he stakes her to kill her.

The next night Rose meets with Lissa and Christian, where Rose FINALLY gets her best friend to high five her. WOW, WHAT AN EPIC CHARACTER ARC! This was so worth sitting through the movie for!

Tatiana holds another assembly to say how worthless Lissa is, but the princess cuts her off. She declares spirit as her magic, as well as the fact she's dating Christian. I'm shocked she didn't announce she was dating him before her declaration. She then goes on to give what I'm almost positive is the exact same speech Tina Fey gave at the end of Mean Girls about how everyone in the school needs to be nice to each other. Everyone bursts into applause, but sadly it doesn't start off with a single person clapping and then everyone joining in. Come on, Vampire Academy! Are you even trying?!

Later Rose catches up to Dimitri, who is training outside again. This movie is too hard to make a drinking game for because there's like a million things to choose from, but if you did a shot every time there was a training scene you'd be in the hospital by now getting your stomach pumped.

Rose asks why he lied about his feelings for her, and he answers because if he fell in love with Rose he wouldn't be able to do his job because he'd worry about protecting Rose instead of his Moroi. This makes Rose tear up, saying his reasons for not loving her just make her love him more. So she LOVES him now, eh? Based off what, exactly? He barely talked to her during their training sessions and when he did it was just to berate her about this or that.

Rose asks him to kiss her one last time, which he says is a bad idea. She begs him, so he goes in to kiss her and she finally slams him to the ground. I was almost going to give her a point for this clever ruse, but then she ruins it with a HORRIBLY DATED Gladiator reference.

Are you not entertained?!”
No Vampire Academy, NO I AM NOT.

The filmmakers wisely knew NO ONE IN EXISTENCE would sit through the credits, so they put the stinger after this scene. The camera pans way out to a cave full of Ms. Karp and a legion of strigoi, the former teacher hissing “soon”. Sadly the movie doesn't end with her jumping out at the camera like it should of, instead it just ends on a shot of the hundreds of strigoi looking bored.

Cue the credits, set to a cover of “Bela Lugosi's Deadby Chvrches. Well, the movie did have one of the better soundtracks I've heard in awhile at least.

This was a bit of a mess, wasn't it? And by that I mean the single worst movie of 2014 so far. The biggest problem it had absolutely no idea what kind of movie it wanted to be. It started off as an on-the-run movie, then turned into a straight up high school popularity drama, then shifted to the world's lamest mystery that wouldn't have been worthy of a Scooby-Doo episode, before it finally decided it should be a villain with a master plan movie.

Ironically, the villain was straight out of a Scooby-Doo episode with all the key plot points: lots of red herrings pointing to the openly mean and/or shady person, the villain hiding out in plain sight by helping our heroes, and his plan was ultimately foiled by a bunch of meddling teenagers.

While it was painfully obvious that Victor was going to be the villain almost immediately thanks to him being super nice as well as Gabriel Byrne, I will freely admit the twist of Natalie being in cahoots with him did surprise me. It's obvious it retrospect because they go out of their way to say how she worships her father and will do anything for him, but it was a good reveal at the time. I also like how they killed her off rather than finding a way for her to stick around to be a recurring villain.

What else was good? Lucy Fry, who played Lissa, was pretty good. She definitely had some cringe worthy acting moments like when she made herself the leader of the Plastics, but overall she was likeable and I actually cared about her which is certainly a rarity in these kind of movies.

What was bad then? EVERYTHING ELSE. Take your pick: the acting, the story, the special effects, the pacing, the editing... yeah, this is the pure definition of NO ONE working on this giving a fuck. They had a contract and they were going to fulfill it, dammit. I'm guessing Mark Waters just turned on his camera and filmed while he googled if Hollywood is making a live action Teen Titans movie while Daniel Waters took the Mean Girls script and did Control + F to replace “Plastics” with “Moroi”.

I want to single out Joely Richardson for her SPECTACULARLY bad acting here, as it takes a nearly immeasurable amount of not giving a fuck to outdo Olga Kurylenko in a movie. Richardson is so good too, it's just heartbreaking.

As I mentioned before, this movie had a budget of thirty million dollars and it barely made half that back. It came out in theaters on February 7, 2014 and hit home video May 20, 2014. This is what we call A BOMB. This won't deter Hollywood though, the recently released Divergent was a massive hit and the third Hunger Games movie due out later this year is poised to shatter box office records, so get ready to see tons more of these poorly done young adult movies.

Yet another movie I can't recommend because it's too bad to be that special type of entertaining, and I'm sure if you're a fan of the books this is just going to piss you off because it butchered them. Speaking of that, let's see how this movie scored on my Twilight Meter, as previously seen on my Mortal Instruments: City of Bones review.
Step One. Start off with a completely bland boring uninteresting dark haired young woman who starts off as nothing special. She has to be a loner who only has one interest/hobby in her life.

Well, Rose certainly did have a personality when compared to the monotone heroines we usually get stuck with. Granted it was a terribly annoying one that had you screaming “Shut up shut up shut up!” every time she opened her mouth to crack a “funny” one liner, but at least it was something. No points awarded for a score of 0/7.

Step Two. She will have a single male best friend that she only thinks of “as a friend or like a brother”. He, of course, pines for her daily to love him like he secretly loves her.

Why hello there Mason! How's the Friend Zone treatin' ya? +1 point for a score of 1/7.

Step Three. Have her suddenly become the most important person in the world through a combination of the supernatural, a hidden talent she didn't know she had, or an indomitable will.

Rose wasn't the most important person in the world, hell she wasn't even the most important person in the story. This was a nice change of pace where the heroine wasn't out to save the world, but instead was trying to save her best friend. No points awarded for a score of 1/7.

Step Four. Make sure she only has one parent, usually a mother but that's flexible. The other parent is gone either through divorce, death, or mysteriously vanishing when she was young.

Whoops, hit this one dead on. Rose only has a mother, and her father is mysteriously absent. +1 point for a score of 2/7.

Step Five. Throw her into a Love Triangle with two men, one of whom is the aforementioned best friend she's known her entire life and the other an enigmatic stranger she instantly prefers. Bonus if the stranger is introduced saving her life.

They teased a love triangle for a minute, but Rose stomped on it multiple times by not having a single feeling for Mason. I really admire their restraint here, because they had all the elements in place including Dimitri saving Rose's life. No points awarded for a score of 2/7.

Step Six. Add a villain. The villain isn't important at all so we don't need any kind of development for him. In fact, the more faceless and generic he is the better because that's just taking time away from the Love Triangle.

The villain was definitely borderline non-existent in this one. We weren't even sure there WAS a villain until about 3/4ths in the movie. +1 point for a score of 3/7.

Step Seven. Make sure whatever world changing events going on in the story are minimized so they can take a backseat to the Love Triangle.

While there weren't world changing events or a Love Triangle going on in the story, the events that were going on WERE thrown on the back burner so the story could focus on Rose and Dimitri. For crying out loud, Dimitri liking her is the very first thing Rose brought up when talking to our master villain. +1 point for a final score of 4/7.

0: Congratulations! Your fictional world is so original and creative it's almost guaranteed it'll get ignored by mainstream audiences!

1 – 2: A very nice breath of fresh air, it was great to see a unique spin on well worn material.

3 – 4: I feel like I've seen this a million times already, and will see it a million more.

5 – 6: Seriously, why even bother making this when you should have just been working on new features for Twilight: The Tenth Anniversary Blu-Ray?

7: You should be expecting a call from Stephenie Meyer's lawyers ANY minute now.

A Ghoul Versus Vampire Academy (Part 1)

You ever wonder what Mean Girls would have been like if Lindsay Lohan had been a vampire? Yeah, me neither...”

This is going to be a strange one. Vampire Academy is based on a series of books written by Richelle Mead, another saga of supernatural teenagers and all their lovely drama. I've never read the books so I honestly can't say what their quality is, but each new book usually tops the best seller list so there has to be something there of interest.

What's odd is the creative team behind this one, the Waters Brothers Mark and Daniel. Mark directed it, which is a good pick as his resume has a healthy history of mixing teens and the supernatural. Mean Girls, Freaky Friday, Just Like Heaven, and the Spiderwick Chronicles... I'd say the man knows his stuff when it comes to the Young Adult demographic.

Daniel on the other hand... whoa. I'm not sure you could find a writer with a more erratic career than he has. He wrote the excellent Heathers, one of the most fun movies ever in Demolition Man, the BIZARRE Batman Returns, the Godawful Adventures of Ford Fairlane, and then The Room of the 1990s in Hudson Hawk.

Some varying styles to say the least. This either is going to be a very witty and clever film or just a jaw droppingly terrible one. Sink your fangs into your favourite Dhampir and let's watch A Ghoul Versus Vampire Academy!

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (Part 3)

Click here for Part 2!

Qui-Gon reveals to Anakin he is no longer a slave and that he's going to take him to become a Jedi. Anakin is super excited, going to his room to pack but not before letting out another “yipee!”.  However, halfway to his room he stops as it finally dawns on his his mother isn't free. Qui-Gon says that he tried to free Shmi too but to no avail. Yeah, you REALLY broke your back there trying Qui-Gon.  What a joke.

Shmi gives Anakin a half hearted talk about his future being elsewhere, blah blah blah whatever. Anakin goes to pack his bags, telling C-3PO farewell. This scene is weird because half of it is a point-of-view shot from C-3PO, which is REALLY out of place in a Star Wars movie.  Anakin promises his mother he'll come back and free her... in about ten years.

A Ghoul Versus Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

The Jedi EASILY take out the robots and free the pilots. They board the queen's AWESOME looking silver ship and take off to face the barricade. I never liked this part either, because what exactly was Qui-Gon's thought process here? “Oh yeah, we'll just fly through the blockade no sweat!”

There is absolutely no prep work on his part beforehand. No plotting out a course, no exploiting the blockade for any weaknesses, no trying to hijack a Federation ship so they could sneak by, nothing. And no one even argues against doing this, everyone just goes alon with it! They just take this gigantic easy to spot ship and fly out into space. There's not even any kind of bullshit “the Force will guide us to safety!” line thrown in. What in the world make him think they'd be able to clear the blockade, other than the fact they're the lead characters of the movie?

Obi-Wan drops Jar Jar off in a room full of astromech droids, telling him to stay there and do nothing. Sadly, he doesn't spend the rest of the movie here. One of the droids is R2-D2, which got a huge burst of applause in the theater.

The blockade opens fire, but fortunately the ship has force fields. Things quickly go south though as the shield generator gets hit... despite the shields being up? How could the ship get hit if the- yeah, nevermind. If I start questioning technical details of this movie this review's going to be longer than Atlas Shrugged. This causes the droids to be deployed to repair it, R2 taking the time to “accidentally” bump into Jar Jar because he's awesome like that.

Jar Jar says “How wude!”, which is the second time he's said this so I guess it's supposed to be his catchphrase now. It's so painfully obvious Lucas thought Jar Jar was going to become the biggest thing in the history of EVER, and that “how wude!” was going to replace “don't go there, girlfriend!” or “talk to the hand” as the new catchphrase of the world. Funny how that all worked out. By late 1999, any American landfill was an estimated 50% Jar Jar Binks merchandise.

The blockade blasts the droids off one by one in what is a really nice shot. This is one of the more “Star Wars” feeling scenes in the entire movie. Panaka yells if they can't get the generator fixed they're done for. This was kind of a stupid plan Qui-Gon.

Taking a page out of Obi-Wan's book, R2 repairs the entire shield generator by moving one wire. I'll buy this one though, R2 is BY FAR the smartest character in this movie and arguably the entire six movie saga. Yoda takes a major hit thanks to these prequels. With shield generator now operational, the ship easily flies past the blockade and into deep space. Well gee, that wasn't very deadly was it? If a non-military craft was able to pass the blockade with zero issues, WHY THE HELL IS THIS MOVIE EVEN HAPPENING?! A TIE Fighter, the Ford Pinto of the Star Wars universe, could have flown through this damn thing!

Ship's pilot Ric Ollie tells everyone the ship's hyperdrive was damaged during the escape and won't have enough power to get them to Coruscant. Obi-Wan studies a star map and recommends they land on the nearby planet Tatooine for repairs. Panaka is against this because it's controlled by the gangster Hutts, but Qui-Gon says it's no less dangerous than landing on a world controlled by the Federation. What, they control entire PLANETS now?  ...okay.

Gunray calls Sidious to tell him Queen Monotone has escaped. Sidious summons his apprentice Darth “Motherfucking” Maul to track her down. After the call ends, Gunray confides to Rune this is getting out of hand. Rune agrees, saying they shouldn't have made this bargain.

Aaaaaaaaand there we have it. One of the biggest issues this entire movie has, which one could make the case is the biggest . WHAT WAS THE FEDERATION'S DEAL WITH SIDIOUS? I think it's safe to assume that when Sidious takes over the Republic he'll give them all kinds of money and bitchin' tax breaks, but we're never told. It's almost like Lucas wants US to write the movie ourselves in our heads rather than him having to deal with minor story details like villain motivation.

Most memorable villains in movie history have always had a clear goal they're working towards, and like it or not, the Federation ARE the villains of this movie. They are risking EVERYTHING for this scheme of theirs, and we're never told why. It would have been a great idea to include this stuff, including how they came to meet Sidious and starting working for him. I always wondered if he was maybe controlling them with a Sith mind control trick, if such a thing even exists?

On Monotone's ship, Panaka takes R2 to MEET THE QUEEN so she can congratulate him for saving their lives. This is so over the top silly and ridiculous, I don't even know what to say to this. This is fan service taken to levels of insanity, the only thing missing here is Amidala saying “Thank you so much-”, and then looking directly at the camera and dramatically finishing with “-R2-D2!”. Personally, I would have had her wink as well.

The Queen orders Padme to go clean R2, as he's somehow gotten quite filthy from when we saw him atop the ship. Is there dirt in space? Now remember, Sabe is the queen right now so she just ordered HER BOSS to go do janitorial work. Isn't that the greatest power trip in the world, or what? Go scrub this droid clean and then get me a sandwich!

We catch up with Padme cleaning R2, where she meets Jar Jar. The gungan starts babbling on about his day, Padme just kind of awkwardly smiling up at him with this frozen smile on her face.  It's a really hilarious scene, as you KNOW she's just wishing he'd shut the fuck up.

They land on Tatooine, Obi-Wan telling Qui-Gon they'll need an entirely new hyperdrive generator. Qui-Gon sighs, as this is one more thing to add of his list of neverending shit to do. Hey, how come he hasn't called Valorum yet? You can't tell me a ship as big as Amidala's can't do interstellar communication. Did Lucas forget all about that particular plot point? Why yes, yes he did. Calling Valorum is NEVER brought up again.

Qui-Gon tells Obi-Wan to be wary, as he senses a disturbance in the Force. He then leaves, telling Obi-Wan not to the let the Naboo send any transmissions. Oh, so the ship can call people! I assume he says this so they can't somehow be traced by the Federation, which ALMOST makes sense but earlier he said Tatooine is way out of their reach. How extensively can the Federation monitor communications? More or less than twelve parsecs? Lucas could have easily thrown a line in here that their radio was knocked out along with the hyperdrive, but I guess he thought it was pretty to just ignore it altogether.

Qui-Gon, R2, and Jar Jar- what?! What would you bring Jar Jar with you? They want to keep a low profile, so let's bring a walking circus along with us. Nooooope, no way that'll possibly backfire! Panaka stops them, saying the queen orders Padme to go with them. Qui-Gon begrudgingly agrees to take her, but is quick to add it's “not a good idea”.  But taking Jar Jar, now that's a GREAT idea! Qui-Gon just might be the worst idea haver since someone thought Friday The 13th: Jason Takes Manhattan was a good idea to throw money at.

They walk to the world famous Mos Eisley spaceport, Qui-Gon telling Padme how it's mostly a bunch of moisture farmers, outcasts, and people who don't want to be found. This is also home to the infamous Jar Jar steps in shit scene, which pretty much sums up Jar Jar as a whole. I can just picture gut laughing with tears in his eyes as he wrote this part. “They're going to LOVE this!”

As they enter Mos Eisley, Qui-Gon tells Padme about how the area is mostly a bunch of moisture farmers, outcasts, and people who don't want to be found. This is also the infamous jar jar steps in shit scene. You really can tell Lucas thought Jar Jar was the funniest thing EVER, I can literally picture him gut laughing as he wrote scenes like this.

They look around, Qui-Gon saying they'll start with one of the smaller part dealers. They enter a shop owned by an alien named Watto, whom people say talked like a Middle Eastern stereotype but I've always felt that comparison was tenuous at best. Watto tells them he has lots of parts for their ship, calling out for his slave Anakin to watch the counter while he helps Qui-Gon.

Watto, who travels by hovering, flies up some stairs and through a hallway. Qui-Gon and R2 start following, but the camera cuts away before we see how in the hell R2 got up the steps! Yes, this bothered me a lot! I'm one of those people that can't concentrate on what's happening in a movie if a character doesn't close the door to a room they enter, it's all I can think about.

When I first saw this movie, I thought Anakin was worse than Jar Jar and that he did the most damage to the movie. I blamed the actor Jake Lloyd for not being able to act. Many years later I saw the famous interview he did where he talked about how miserable parts of his life were thanks to asshole fans like myself that constantly made fun of him.

And just like that, it dawned on me. It was ALL Lucas's fault for horrible direction, because EVERY actor was terrible in this movie. Samuel L. Jackson, Natalie Portman, Liam Neeson, and Ewan McGregor are all some of the greatest actors alive, but you would never guess that from this movie. Everyone is a monotone coma patient with absolutely no emotion or range. This is all thanks to their director, who could care less about what they're saying and how they're saying it as long as it can carry the movie to the next CGIfest.

Lloyd was pretty damn good in the movie Jingle All The Way, definitely way better than your average young child actor. He did the best he could with what he was given in this movie, so every slam against Anakin from here on out is against how the character was written and how he was portrayed, not the actor himself.

This leaves Anakin and Padme, Anakin dropping the epic “are you an angel line?” on her. Gotta hand it to the kid, at nine years old he knew what was up. They talk a bit, Padme learning Anakin and his mother Shmi are slaves owned by Watto. I never got this, why in a world full of droids that can do literally everything would you need slaves? Just weird.  Once again, the shooting script's version of this scene was superior:

Anakin sits on the counter, pretending to clean a part, staring at Padme. She is the most beautiful creature he has ever seen in his life. Padme is a little embarrassed by his stare, but she musters up an amused smile. Finally, he gets the courage to speak.

Anakin : Are you an angel?
Padme : What?
Anakin : An angel. I've heard the deep space pilots talk about them. They live on the Moons of Iego I think. They are the most beautiful creatures in the universe. They are good and kind, and so pretty they make even the most hardened spice pirate cry.

Padme looks at him, not knowing what to say.

Padme : I've never heard of angels.
Anakin : You must be one...maybe you just don't know it.
Padme : You're a funny little boy. How do you know so much?
Anakin : Since I was very little, three, I think. My Mom and I were sold to Gardulla the Hutt, but she lost us, betting on the Podraces, to Watto, who's a lot better master than Gardulla, I think.
Padme : You're...a slave?

Anakin looks at Padme defiantly.

Anakin : I am a person! My name is Anakin.
Padme : I'm sorry. I don't fully understand. (looking around) This is a strange world to me.

Anakin studies her intently.

Anakin : You are a strange girl to me.

See? Those little touches do more for Anakin than damn near any other line he had in this movie. All of the subtlety of him trying to get the courage to talk to her or his cut lines instantly make his character more interesting and insightful. But nope, gotta scratch those for more Jar Jar WACKY HIJINX!

In the back, Watto tells Qui-Gon he's the ONLY person in the entire city with a hyperdrive generator but it's going to cost him. Qui-Gon says he has 20,000 Republic dataries, but Watto says those are no good out here. Qui-Gon breaks out the mind trick again, but it doesn't work. Honestly at this point, why didn't he just do that in the first place? I know he's trying to be honourable and do the right thing, but isn't trying to get back to Valorum to prevent the deaths of endless innocent Naboo a little more important?

This is another huge problem with the story, and feel free to make a drinking game out of every time I say THAT. There is absolutely no sense or urgency with what should be a huge ticking clock storyline. “ZOMG the Naboo are going to get slaughtered, we have to get them help immediately! ...or not, let's just pal around Tatooine at a leisurely pace for the next week or so.” That was something original trilogy Lucas, or more likely his editors, did to perfection: you were on the edge of your seat whenever there was a race against time.

Watto notices Qui-Gon waving his hand, saying “What you think you're some kinda Jedi, waving your hand around like that? I'm a Toydarian. Mind tricks don't work on me. Only money. No money, no parts! No deal! And no one else has a T-14 hyperdrive, I promise you that.”  Oh, so they did explain the hand wave thing for newcomers. Okay, well gotta give a point to Lucas for that one.

Qui-Gon tells everyone they're leaving, Padme telling Anakin she's glad to have met him and he replies the same. This kid's got some moves, although (say it with me) the shooting script did it better.

Padme gives Anakin a loving look.
Padme : I'm glad I met you,....ah...
Anakin : ...Anakin.
Padme : Anakin.
Anakin : Anakin Skywalker.
Padme : Padme Naberrie.

Padme turns, and Anakin looks sad as he watches her leave.

Anakin : I'm glad I met you too.

Watto complains to Anakin about the outlanders and then tells him he can go home. Anakin responds with a “Yipee!”, which is unfortunately his apparent catchphrase in this movie. Again, I attribute this to Lucas being stuck in an era long gone and he genuinely thinks kids talk like this.

Qui-Gon calls Obi-Wan to see if there's anything on the ship they can use to barter for the part, but that's a no go. I'm going to assume Qui-Gon checked all the other part dealers in town just to make sure Watto wasn't lying, although we never see any of this. Watto just doesn't seem that trustworthy, you know?  Is this exciting enough for you? Did you know Obi-Wan was actually having an adventure during this nonsense? In 2001, LucasArts released a video game called Star Wars: Obi-Wan that showed us Obi-Wan's side of events in this movie since he bafflingly wasn't in a lot of it.

While Qui-Gon was off wasting our time, Obi-Wan got to go rescue Sabe who kidnapped by Tusken Raiders. Boy, I SO would rather be watching that instead. Hell, I'd rather be PLAYING the damn thing instead, and that game was WRETCHED.

They walk along, Jar Jar engaging in some more WACKY HIJINX that run him afoul of an asshole named Sebulba. It's a really bad movie that make you root for the stereotypical bully. Anakin happens to wander along, saving Jar Jar from getting his face smashed in. Way to flush all that goodwill from flirting with Natalie Portman down the toilet there, Anakin. Qui-Gon thanks Anakin for the help and his group walks on.  We go back to the ship, where a sandstorm is starting to form. Panaka gets a call from Naboo. Gripping!

Back in Mos Eisley, we cut to Qui-Gon looking around confused.  Very appropriate.  Wait, they're with Anakin now and he's buying food? Um, what happened to the whole “we've got to get the ship fixed” thing? Even Padme, whose only goal in life is to protect her people, is just standing around watching the kid shop. It is amazing how little this movie cares about anything. The vendor tells Anakin the sandstorm is coming and that he'd better get home quickly. She calls him “Annie”, which is his nickname in these movies and quite easily the WORST nickname ever. When he's a kid it's not so bad, but by the time Episode III rolls around it kills a lot of the drama dead when people are calling him that.

Anakin invites Qui-Gon and company to come stay with him since they won't be able to make it to their ship before the storm hits. I really like this as it shows Anakin is a nice and kind person, which he should be. AND ALWAYS SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE WHOLE DAMN TRILOGY.  Originally this scene had Anakin being even kinder to his new friends, especially Padme:

Anakin: I'll take four pallies today. (to Padme) You'll like these...

Anakin reaches in his pocket and comes up with three coins. He drops one.

Anakin: Whoops, I thought I had more...Make that three, I'm not hungry.

Anakin takes them home where they meet his mother Shmi Skywalker, who is INCREDIBLY fine with him bringing home a ragged and bearded creepy old man, a thirteen year old girl, a frog alien and a tin can droid. Just like any mother would be.

This scene is bizarre though. Right after Qui-Gon introduces himself he says something else but it's muted out, although you can see his mouth still moving. Then, after Anakin takes Padme to see his room, Qui-Gon reaches into his poncho to give Shmi something but the scene changes before we can see what the hell he's doing. Shooting script, a little help here?

Shmi : Oh, my!! Annie, what's this?
Anakin : These are my friends, Mom. This is Padme, and...gee, I don't know any of your names.
Qui-Gon : I'm Qui-Gon Jinn and this is Jar Jar Binks.
Padme : ...and our droid, R2-D2.
Anakin : I'm building a droid. You wanna see?
Shmi : Anakin! Why are they here?
Anakin : A sandstorm, Mom. Listen.

The wind HOWLS outside.

Qui-Gon : Your son was kind enough to offer us shelter.
Anakin : Come on! Let me show you Threepio!

Anakin leads Padme into the other room. R2 follows, beeping all the way. Qui-Gon takes five small capsules from his utility belt and hands them to Shmi.

Qui-Gon : I have enough food for a meal.
Shmi : Oh, thank you. Thank you so much. I'm sorry if I was abrupt. I'll never get used to Anakin's surprises.
Qui-Gon : He's a very special boy.

Shmi looks at him as if he's discovered a secret.

Shmi : Yes, I know.

Well gosh, that solves something that's been bugging me forever. Why in the hell did they hack this scene up so badly? If they weren't going to use those lines they really should have done a reshoot, but since this wasn't CGI action I'm sure Lucas didn't give a single iota of a damn.

But this had everything the movie needed: Shmi was actually concerned about Anakin bringing home strangers, Anakin liking for Padme kept growing, and why Qui-Gon was reaching into his poncho. We even had more of Padme's obsession with R2 as she took the time to introduce him. If you can't tell, I'm really a fan of the Anakin/Padme stuff. In the movie Anakin barely acknowledges Padme outside of a couple of scenes, in the script it's a subtle but continuous build that enforces this boy is very smitten with her. Kind of important stuff for what's to come.

Anakin shows Padme the droid he's building and BLOODY HELL it's C-3PO. Darth Vader BUILT C-3PO?! Of every connection the prequels have to the originals, this is by far the weirdest. I know Lucas had to shoehorn in every character from the originals he possibly could, but THIS is how we get C-3PO? I wonder in the originals if Vader ever shares a scene with his droid? I haven't seen them in nearly a decade, guess I'll find out when I eventually review them.

Anakin says C-3PO is a protocol droid he built to help his mother. WHAT exactly? Protocol droids are programmed for interpretation and etiquette, which really makes me wonder what the hell the slave Shmi does. Or why Watto even needs slaves when a droid could just as easily do what Anakin does at the shop.

Back on the queen's ship, they watch the message from Naboo. It's Bibble telling them the death toll is catastrophic and he needs them to call him. Obi-Wan sees through this, telling them it's a trick and not to respond. He calls Qui-Gon to update him, Qui-Gon agreeing that it's bait to try to establish a connection trace to where they are.

Okay, excellent! Finally some stuff is making sense in this movie! The next scene is on Coruscant, where Sidious and Maul are talking on a balcony. Maul tells him that if the trace is correct the queen is on Tatooine. ...insert record scratch sound effect here.

Wow, the movie is INCAPABLE of going two minutes without contradicting itself.  It's almost an art form!  At the Skywalker residence, everyone is eating dinner. Shmi tells her visitors all slaves have a device hidden in their bodies that will detonate if they try to escape. This causes Jar Jar to drop his “How wude!” catchphrase. Yep, keep hammering it down our throats Lucas. It's BOUND to catch on sooner or later, right?

Anakin tells everyone that he's a pod racer, which Qui-Gon says is very dangerous. Anakin says he's the only human that can do it, Qui-Gon remarking he must have Jedi reflexes to do that. This is also the part I mentioned much earlier about where the movie officially began to lose me as we get the bit where Qui-Gon grabs Jar Jar's tongue to stop him using it to grab an apple. 41 minutes in is all it took to wash away the excitement of YEARS of anticipation and the adrenaline rush I got from when the movie began. Not bad!

Anakin reveals he knows Qui-Gon is a Jedi because he saw his “laser sword” earlier. Qui-Gon suggests maybe he killed a Jedi and took it from him, which is a pretty fucked up thing to say to a kid right in front of his mother. At this point Shmi should have kicked this weirdo out.

Anakin doubts this as no one can kill a Jedi, Qui-Gon sadly wishing that were so because he read the script and knows what's coming. Anakin says he had a dream he was a Jedi and freed all the slaves on the planet. He asks Qui-Gon if he's here to free them, and Qui-Gon replies no. He says this WAY too casually and is borderline smiling, the horrible directing of the movie REALLY shines here. This should be a very sad scene with Qui-Gon mournful he can't help the slaves out because he's in a hurry to save the Naboo, but nah let's just have him kick back in his chair eating.

Qui-Gon tells Anakin about their mission, Anakin saying he can fix their ship for him. Qui-Gon believes he can, but they still need the parts to repair it. This leads to Anakin hatching a scheme where he'll race his pod in the big race (that just happens to be tomorrow!) to win money to buy the parts. His mother is against this like a real mother would be, as pod racing is very dangerous indeed, but he's quickly able to talk her into it.

You know, HERE'S what I really don't get about all of this. There's a massive urgency to get to Coruscant, so why doesn't Qui-Gon just hand wave some non-Toydarian and take THEIR ship? This would give them perfect cover as the Federation is searching for the queen's ship, not some completely different ship. Qui-Gon had no issues stealing a ship from Boss Nass earlier, why is he getting involved in this extremely risky and likely not going to work scheme?

I know, I know, because then we wouldn't have a movie and we would have missed out on the pod race scene. But that's one of this movie's biggest problems, EVERY major scene is loaded with poor logic that makes you question everything. A good movie doesn't make you say “Why didn't he just...” every five minutes. Here it's even worse because it's already been established Qui-Gon will use his mind trick at the drop of a hat.

The next day as they head to Watto's, Padme rightfully calls out Qui-Gon on what I was just talking about: trusting their entire fate to a boy they barely know and the queen would not approve. He's all “what the queen doesn't know won't hurt her”, and Padme sullenly says “well, I don't approve”.

Anakin tells Watto that Qui-Gon wants to sponsor him for the race, the two making a slightly confusing bet that I had to rewatch a couple of times to sort out cause they talk through this very fast. Watto will front the entry fee for Anakin, and:

1.  If Anakin wins, Watto gets to keep all the prize money minus the cost of parts for Qui-Gon to fix the queen's ship.
2.  If Anakin loses, Watto gets to have the queen's ship

Later, Qui-Gon and Shmi talk about Anakin. She reveals he has no father and she just magically became pregnant and YE GODS could you hear the groans at this scene in the theater I was at. Anakin was an Immaculate Conception, yeah that's a GREAT idea. Lucas tries to justify this later in the movie, but there's no saving how utterly, completely, absolutely, mind numbingly STUPID this is. And the funniest/saddest part? Lucas is going to top this in a few minutes.

Anakin works on his pod with help from Jar Jar and the droids. This scene is only notable for more Jar Jar WACKY HIJINX that are so over the top, even C-3PO himself remarks Jar Jar is a bit too much.  That night, Qui-Gon takes a blood sample from Anakin, sending it to Obi-Wan for a “midi-chlorian count”. Ah there we go, there it is!

Obi-Wan tells him the reading is off the chart, over 20,00. Even Yoda doesn't have a count that high! I've been wondering, what are midi-chlorians? We're going to have to wait a bit to find out because thank God, Darth Maul just arrived on Tatooine to try to save the movie. He lands in the desert accompanied by his ultra bad ass theme music, deploying hovering spy droids to Mos Eisley.

At the race, Qui-Gon and Watto talk. Watto believes Sebulba will win and he took the bet just for the queen's ship, as he's bet all his money on Sebulba. Qui-Gon bets him Anakin WILL win, putting his body up against the boy and his mother. Watto says no pod is worth two slaves, so Qui-Gon offers for just Anakin. Watto rolls a chance cube to decide, Qui-Gon using the force to make it choose Anakin.

And now onto the Pod Race, kicked off by the grand marshal Jabba The Hutt. The pod race is perfect, and fully justifies anyone sitting through this movie to watch it. It's massively exciting, has great tension even though you know who's going to win (the mark of any good scene), and STILL has better CGI effects than pretty every movie that's come out since 1999.

Something else no one ever seems to talk about, it has AWESOME sound effects that make it seem all the more real. There's even a cool part where the assholes of Tatooine, the Tusken Raiders, take shots at the pods as they drive by because that is so something they'd do. I really feel Lucas poured his heart and soul into this pat of the movie at the neglect of EVERYTHING else, because this is as Star Wars as you get. It even introduces us to one of my favourite cameo characters, Aurra Sing. She really needed to be in the other movies akin to Boba Fett.

Sadly the entire movie can't be the pod race, so it comes to an end with Anakin emerging victorious. Watto says Qui-Gon swindled him and that he's lost everything, refusing to hand Anakin over. Qui-Gon threatens to turn the situation over to the Hutts, Watto backing down. One of Maul's droids is seen in the background watching this.

Qui-Gon brings the ship parts to Obi-Wan, saying he has to go back to Mos Eisley for unfinished business. Obi-Wan quips “why do I sense we've picked up another pathetic life form?”, a smirk on his face. Oh Obi-Wan, how I wish you were in this movie more.

There's a deleted scene that was supposed to go here where back in Mos Eisley Anakin is fighting an alien called a Rodian with a group of kids watching. Qui-Gon walks up to them, asking what this is all about. Anakin says it's because the alien said he cheated, which he didn't. Qui-Gon tells him since he knows the truth he'll just have to tolerate the alien's opinion and that fighting won't change anything. They walk away, one of the other children saying “Be careful who you mess with, Greedo. You'll come to regret it.”

I would have kept this scene in for two reasons: we see Anakin getting pretty brutal with his punches which would hint at an inner darkness inside him and that he's quick to anger, which is excellent foreshadowing for his future. Also I actually liked Greedo being in here, but I guess they decided it was enough that Vader already knew C-3PO from his past and didn't need any more connections.

At the Skywalkers, Anakin shows his mother all the money they got from selling his pod. Now wait a minute, why the hell didn't Qui-Gon take this money to Watto to buy Shmi?! Watto's broke ass now, he'd probably sell her for a song and a dance. Especially since Anakin and Shmi's reaction makes it seem like it's a ton of money.