5 Movie Villains Who Stupidly Sabotaged Their Own Schemes…

From the delightful Cracked.com comes this list which explores the above, five films in which the villains, at some point in the film, did something that “stupidly” sabotaged their own goals:


The main reason I’m providing a link to this article is because of the very first item mentioned, a bit of silliness/nonsensical storytelling found in The Dark Knight Rises, the last of director Christopher Nolan’s Batman movie trilogy.

Now I know there are many who feel The Dark Knight Rises was the weakest of Nolan’s Batman films and there has been plenty of abuse heaped upon the film.  However, I’m not one of those who “hated” it.  In fact, I felt the film was on par with the other two: It was ambitious, at times wildly entertaining, yet at other times showed some glaring flaws.

I’ve mentioned many times before, for example, that the fate of Ra’s Al Ghul in Batman Begins, where Batman simply allows the villain to die in the train crash, was wildly out of character for our hero.  It was made even worse, in my opinion, with Batman’s silly reasoning for why he allowed Al Ghul to die.  “I’m not killing you, I’m just not going to save you”.

Yeah, right.

Still, I could accept the flaws because the film makers were clearly trying their best to create something that rose above it being “just” a superhero film.

So, having said all that, that first item listed in the cracked article is one of those things that did indeed irk me about The Dark Knight Rises.

To wit, Miranda (who we will soon find out is actually villain Ra’s Al Ghul’s daughter Talia Al Ghul and is secretly behind all the evil events in the film), encounters Batman/Bruce Wayne after he’s escaped the Lazarus Pit and returned to Gotham to save it from Bane and (what we assume are) his League of Assassins.

Again, not one of the heroes knows that Miranda is in reality Talia Al Gul.  Batman/Bruce Wayne comes to her and she knows he’s back in Gotham!  Instead of arranging a meeting with him somewhere she can have an army of assassins take him out, she continues to go along with her deception until almost the very last moment.

When the deception was revealed, I believe I actually groaned.  There had been rumors/speculation for months before the film’s release that “Miranda” was in actuality Talia, so when the movie revelation was made, it didn’t come as a complete surprise.  But in an otherwise pretty good film (IMHO!), this bit really struck me as a major story fail, in more ways than one.

Yes, as mentioned in the Cracked article, Miranda/Talia kept her deception with Batman/Bruce Wayne even though it no longer mattered and she could have easily taken him out when he revealed he was back in Gotham.

But even more frustrating, at least to me: Batman is supposed to be the world’s greatest detective, right?  Yet until the moment Miranda/Talia plunged a knife into Batman’s side, which effectively ended her charade, our hero didn’t have the slightest idea she might be behind everything.

To me, that was the film’s Ra’s-dies-in-the-train moment.

World’s Oldest Murder…

How long ago was this murder committed?  Try 430,000 years ago!


You should really check out the link above, but if you don’t want to, a somewhat brief summary:  The skull was found in a cave system in Spain that had another 28 set of bones within it.  When the skull pieces were put together, the forensic team realized it showed signs of two blunt force trauma wounds, either of which was sufficient to kill the subject.  Both wounds, by the way, were created with the same weapon.

The motive for the killing, of course, will likely never be discovered, but it is fascinating to learn that humans, even all the way back then, were very much capable of committing homicide.


Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994) a (very) belated review

Question: When do you know your personal movie collection is spiraling out of control?

Answer: When you find films you purchased years before and didn’t remember having them.

A little while back I wrote a review of Phantasm II and noted the following regarding the original Phantasm and its sequels:

Over … time I became aware that sequels were made to that original film.  However, I missed pretty much all of them, only realizing there were sequels when the (I believe) third film was shown on TV one night.  I found the sanitized version I saw Ok enough, but I was confused by the various characters and situations.  It felt like I needed to brush up on the original and its sequel to understand what was happening now. 

(the entire Phantasm II review can be found here)

So the other day I’m going through my DVD/BluRay collection and its so damn large that its two rows deep, with the DVDs in the second row covered by those in the first.  I move around a few DVDs and, viola, am shocked to find that I have a copy of the Anchor Bay release of Phantasm III!  I grab it and realize that when I wrote the above paragraph regarding Phantasm and its sequels I had conflated two memories into one: I did indeed see a sanitized TV showing of Phantasm III at some point but obviously I had also purchased this DVD and must have seen it too… only I forgot most of what I saw.

This is not a terribly good sign, I’m afraid.

Still, after seeing Phantasm II so recently and having a more solid idea of where we were, story-wise, with the whole Phantasm universe, I eagerly popped my copy of Phantasm III into the DVD player and gave it a whirl.  Would the fact that I had more of a backstory of what was going on make the difference?  Would I react more positively to the film?

As it turned out, the answer is a definite “yes”.

Phantasm III compresses the entire second film into its first few minutes to give new viewers a sense of what happened before.  But because what happened before was so out there, newbies might find the recap -as I originally did- more confusing than illuminating.

In one particular way, this film’s opening reminded me of Alien 3 in that it brutally eliminated one of the main characters featured in the second Phantasm movie in the opening minutes.  Without getting into too many spoilers, the actor who played that particular role chose not to return to the third film and was therefore disposed of right away, a curious thing given how “important” the character was supposed to be to the Phantasm story…well, at least in Phantasm II.

The other big difference is that the original actor playing Mike returns to that role (Phantasm II was the only big studio release of the Phantasm series and the studios forced writer/director Don Coscarelli to feature a more prominent actor in that role).

For better or worse and depending on your views, this movie is very much in the vein of Phantasm II.  In fact, at times I felt I was watching a in-tone/spirit remake of Phantasm II with Phantasm III rather than an entirely “new” film.

As I said before, depending on your views this will be a positive or not.  For me, it proved to be a positive.  Having a better understanding of the characters and situations thanks to having seen Phantasm II, I found Phantasm III a far more coherent affair than I remembered.  The same mix of humor and suspense can be found within this film though clearly the budget was much lower this time around versus for the second studio paid film.

In sum, if you’re in the mood for an oddball horror film that features some genuinely creepy scenery along with some sly humor, you should check out Phantasm III…but I recommend doing so only after seeing Phantasm II.

Artistry vs. hackery…

The art world is a most curious place.  It hit the news a couple of days ago that “artist” (I put his name in quotes for a very good reason) Richard Prince had created quite the controversy.  Why?  Because he was selling -for quite a good bit of money- instagram photos he appropriated (ie took) from that service.  What exactly did he do with the appropriated items?  He simply blew them up in size without altering the images in any way and then put some new text messages on the bottom of said photos.

That was the extent of his “artistry”.

Read all about it here:


While one of the “artistic” pieces sold for as much as $90,000, I suspect this attempt to cash in on others’ works will stall now that the artist has been exposed for what he is.

However, Mr. Price is not a unique figure when it comes to “appropriating” others’ artistic works to make money for themselves.

Ask some prominent comic book artists/fans about the revered Roy Lichtenstein and you’ll find some pretty strong opinions regarding “his” most famous works.  Check out this article, for instance, which gives very clear examples of how Mr. Lichtenstein ripped off various comic book panels to “make” his art:


Perhaps Mr. Lichtenstein’s most famous work of “art” is this one, called “Whaam!”:

The image was ripped off almost whole by Lichtenstein from this panel from DC Comic’s Men at War #89, originally drawn by Russ Heath:

And this is only one of many such works of “art” that Mr. Lichtenstein made off the works of others and which earned him millions while the original creators got nothing.

So Mr. Price isn’t the first to rip off the art of others in an attempt to make themselves money.  Perhaps the most eloquent response to these types of things was created by Mr. Russ Heath himself with regard to Mr. Lichtenstein and his “Whaam” painting…

Bottle of Wine by Russ Heath

Movie Malaise…

So this happened over the Memorial Day Weekend:

Wall Street Journal: Holiday Box Office Lowest Since 2001

(For those interested, a list of the summer movies from 2001)

Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20 and, given that reality, the results don’t entirely surprise me, even if at least one of them I predicted beforehand.

Let’s start with that particular prediction, regarding THE big Memorial Day release, Tomorrowland.  Directed by Brad Bird, when word first came that this would be the next movie he did after Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol, and was a movie he chose to do instead of the new Star Wars film, people like me were naturally curious.

But as I pointed out in a blog posting from May 22, the very day of the film’s formal release (you can read the entry here), I sensed audiences might have a tepid at best reaction to Tomorrowland, at least based on the odd, uninformative trailers being released to allegedly hype the movie up.

As I said in that entry, I got the feeling well before the film’s release that its plot might be a mess, and based on critical reaction, that turned out to be the case.

So if Tomorrowland was looking shaky upon arrival, then what of the other films out there?  As I mentioned in that same entry, it felt like the studios gave up on the Poltergeist remake.  I hardly saw any advertisements for it and, while it made some money, it doesn’t surprise me the film didn’t storm out of the gates.

Which leaves us with the “older” films.  Furious 7, while still in the top ten, is looking long in the tooth by this time.  Those who wanted to see it have pretty much seen it.  Still somewhat strong is Avengers: Age of Ultron, though I suspect that movie is falling into the same category.

The two big films of the previous week, Pitch Perfect 2 and Mad Max Fury Road, still did well.

Pitch Perfect 2 was so outside my wheelhouse that I can’t even begin to offer theories on why it did as well as it did.  Perhaps it was counterprogramming, giving audiences a welcome opposite of the typical big budget blockbusters.  Perhaps in part it was due to good will from the first film (which I don’t know all that much about either).  Regardless, the studios backing this movie have got to be smiling.

Which brings us to Mad Max Fury Road.  While the film is a critical darling and the internet is filled with gushing posts from people who absolutely love the film, it was beaten, financially, in these two weeks by Pitch Perfect 2.  That’s not to say the film is a financial failure.  Not at all.  However, one wonders, how did a comedy/musical wind up beating what looked, coming into the week before, to be a massive hit?

And here’s where my awesome powers of hindsight come into play…I suspect the thing that might have turned off some people from giving the movie a try was the fact that it looked a little too weird.

There’s a place for weird cinema but with the large summer audiences, one has to be careful to not go too far and potentially alienate these same audiences.  My wife was reluctant to see the film because the commercials made it look too “out there” for her.  Yet once I got her to the theater (no force involved! 😉 ), she came out with the opinion the film was far better than she thought it would be.  How many more people are there out there like her, people who might ultimately like the film yet are reluctant to go see it -indeed, might not go see it!- because of that feeling?

My own opinion of Fury Road remains the same.  I liked it but am not one of those people who absolutely loved it.  As good as the movie was it didn’t totally blow me away like The Road Warrior did back in the day.

I suspect in the long run the film will more than make its money back and, hopefully, will even see a sequel.

Interestingly enough, I suspect Mad Max Fury Road might have done better had it be released this past week rather than the week before and against Pitch Perfect 2.  I strongly believe the desire for people to see Tomorrowland was weaker than many thought.

As for the rest of summer…we’ll just have to wait and see.  And when all is said and done, maybe I’ll offer another sterling 20/20 hindsight opinion! 😉

This is your brain on politics…

If the results weren’t so damn scary (the man could have died!), you’d laugh at the following article concerning one Holly Nicole Solomon, an Arizonian who got so furious with her husband for not voting for Romney (he apparently didn’t vote at all) that she ran him down with her car:


I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: the political climate these days is so damn rancid.  The “product” from Fox News and the radio conservatives (among them Rush Limbaugh) are heavily to blame for this.  Mrs. Solomon, by the way, was pregnant at the time and felt that another Obama presidential term would somehow devastate her life.

Ironically enough, Romney won the Arizona vote and therefore the electoral votes for that state so her husband’s non-vote didn’t really matter.

Hopefully, we’ve already reached the crest of this particular wave and things will normalize…at least as “normal” as they can be in the wonderful world of politics!

Thoughts on Tomorrowland…

We’re quickly reaching deep into the summer movie season.  Already released are perhaps the biggest of the big summer films, Furious 7, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, and Mad Max Fury Road.  (I don’t mention the hit Pitch Perfect 2 only because it wasn’t on my radar at all, but credit where it is due, the film has proven to be a huge hit)

Looking over the remaining 2015 summer releases, only a precious few are left that intrigue me.  One is Jurassic World, though to be honest most of the trailers released to date have lowered my interest…that could be just me.  There’s Terminator: Genisys.  Despite the groan inducing title and not all that impressive, at least at first, trailers, I’m intrigued enough to give it a shot.  There’s Spy.  I know many don’t like Melissa McCarthy but I’m not one of them.  I think the various trailers to this film have proven themselves progressively funnier and funnier.  Trainwreck also looks to be a humorous female-centric comedy.  Finally, there’s Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, which has a pretty good trailer and looks to be another solid entry into the series.

I went to this page to check out the other 2015 summer releases and, while there are several other “big name” films, including Ant-Man, Vacation, Magic Mike XXL, Fantastic Four, etc., all these films, thus far, haven’t piqued my interest all that much.

There is at least one film I’m on the bubble with: The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which featured a good trailer but of which I’ve heard precious little of since.

Then there’s Tomorrowland (you knew I’d get there eventually, right?!).

When I first heard of this Brad Bird (The Iron GiantThe Incredibles, Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol) directed film, I was most curious.  But as time passed and all we got were snippets of the movie’s story line but more information regarding who stars in the film (George Clooney) and that the film somehow featured the Disneyland/World Tomorrowland ride, I grew worried.

Disney has had both success (Pirates of the Caribbean) and failure (Haunted House) with their “rides being turned into movies” concept and given Brad Bird’s involvement, I was hoping this film might prove the former rather than the later.

But the seeming reticence to release actual story information made me wonder if the movie’s plot was a little too dense and not so easy for the studios/ad wo/men to describe.  Then came the actual trailers and, frankly, they presented a bunch of intriguing images but continued to not give us much sense of what the movie’s actual story was.

The movie is being released today and, at this writing, is scoring a dead mediocre 51% approval on Rotten Tomatoes for critics and a higher 78% approval among audiences.

Many of the critical comments confirm what I feared: The plot of Tomorrowland is something of a mess, though even those whose opinions about it were ultimately negative did admire the effects and at least the opening sequences.

The only reason I’m writing this is because I’m curious to see how the film performs over the weekend.  It is THE big Memorial Day Weekend release (yeah, I know the Poltergeist remake is also being released, but it feels like the studios have totally given up on it already) yet there seems to be very little passion for this film.  Have others sensed what I have?  Have the commercials/trailers failed to get people excited to see the film?  Will I be proven completely wrong and will the film wind up being a huge hit?

I’ll be curious to see the numbers come Monday.  I suspect, however, the film will not prove to be all that much of a success.

We’ll see.

Rocket Man…

Every generation has its share of fascinating people.  Be they artists, politicians, inventors, or businessmen, they emerge and, sometimes, transform the world around them.

If you were to ask me who is the most fascinating such person around today, I’d have to go with Elon Musk.  Using a fortune built on the internet (he was behind the creation of Paypal), Mr. Musk has devoted himself to three fascinating areas: Space travel, sustainable energy, and electric cars (The last two are somewhat interrelated).  Its no wonder he was partly the basis for Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark/Iron Man.

If you want to learn a little more about him, there is a fascinating article/review of Mr. Musk’s biography by Will Oremus on Slate magazine and it offers some choice bits about the man.  I was particularly amused by the author noting some have compared Mr. Musk to Apple’s Steve Jobs and his (perhaps) sarcastic answer to that comparison.  The fact is that Mr. Musk is involved in technology on a level much higher than just about anything (at least so far) that Apple has done…and believe it or not I don’t say this to denigrate Apple!

Like him or not, Mr. Musk is dabbling into technology that has the potential to change for the better (one hopes!) humanity while Apple’s focus is on building wonderful gadgets that people like to use to communicate and entertain each other.

If you’re interested in reading more about Mr. Musk, check out the link below:

What Fuels The Rocket Man?

Real life CSI

The case involved is one of incredible, horrifying brutality:  A D.C. family of four were brutally tortured, murdered, and then their house was set on fire to cover the evidence.

Worse yet, during the ordeal the attackers apparently ordered Dominos Pizza.

Turns out, doing so fingered at least one of them in the crime, as their DNA was found and matched from a discarded piece of pizza crust:


The heinous nature of the crime is difficult to comprehend, but one can at least find some encouragement that at least one of the people behind this crime has been identified.  I suspect it won’t be long before he’s captured -alive, hopefully- so that he can identify the others in this vicious crime.