Spider-Man (1977 TV Pilot)

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/iIMmg4b2egA?p=1 width=”320″ height=”270″]

Spider-Man, 1970’s style.

Today, since I didn’t get to do a new movie review, I decided to do a special old movie review and this one is a very rare find. It’s not available on DVD. However, I recently discovered it on YouTube and I figure why not review it. Here then is a review of “Spider-Man…” the 1970’s TV pilot.

Yeah, it’s almost as cheesy as the 60’s Batman TV series and the visual effects are primitive even by 70’s standards, but it sure is nostalgic. I remember seeing  this as a kid on Videodisc (if you’re as old as I am, you’ll remember videodiscs) and I thought it was really good back then.

There were obviously some liberties taken with the show. For one thing, Peter Parker (played here by Nicholas Hammond who at the time was known only as one of the Von Trapp kids in The Sound of Music) gets his super powers while in college. In the comics, he gets them while still in high school. He starts out as a photographer for the Daily Bugle before he gets bitten by the radioactive spider whereas in the comics, he works for the Bugle after becoming Spider-Man. There’s no mentioning of his Uncle Ben, whose murder gave Spidey his motivation and his “with great power comes great responsibility” philosophy. So he really has no motivation to become Spider-Man except that he was bitten by a radioactive spider and that he becomes a superhero just for the fun of it. Plus, Spidey’s too quiet. It’s like he’s more ninja than superhero in this one.

I know I’m nitpicking, but I am a die-hard Spider-Man fan. Deal with it.

But there are some things that stand out: For one, the funky “porn music” score (which almost every 70’s show seemed to have and this was no exception) and the wall-crawling effects, which seem unbelievable and impossible (even for a stuntman in the 70’s) to do. But to be fair, Spidey was a next-to-impossible superhero character to pull off back in the 70’s as opposed to now where we have CGI technology to bring him to life. And this show gets an A for effort.

The 2-hour pilot is basically an origin story. Peter gets his powers, becomes Spider-Man and fights crime. His first adversary in this one  is a self-help guru (played by Thayer David aka the boxing promoter from the first Rocky movie) who uses mind control to hypnotize select people to rob banks for him. His evil plan that Spidey has to foil is that he’s blackmailing the city in which unless the city pays him millions of dollars, he is going to hypnotize ten people to commit mass suicide.

Sure enough, the pilot episode launched the series, which lasted for two very short seasons, producing a total of 13 episodes before CBS pulled the plug, not because of ratings but because of “network politics.” CBS didn’t want to be known as the “Superhero Network.” At that time, CBS also had “Wonder Woman” and “The Incredible Hulk” on the air at that time.

But I can’t really pick on the show too much. After all, it was the 70’s. But those were the days. So if you’re nostalgic and want to see an early attempt to bring your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to TV or film, you might want to check it out.

Since it still is not available on DVD, if you want to watch it and don’t want to search for it, here it is:

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Norbit

Yeah, I did. Watching this movie!

For starters, this will actually be the first review in a while in which the movie is not based on a comic book. And as you may recall, so far in every movie I’ve reviewed I actually praised the movie. So I’m sure a lot of you may ask the question, “When are you going to review a bad movie?” Well, today.

I’m going to review a movie that’s so bad that it ought to be outlawed by the Geneva Convention and it makes Batman and Robin look like Titanic. So what is this monstrosity I’m supposed to review? Norbit!

Eddie Murphy, what the hell happened to you? You used to be so funny and your movies used to be awesome. I’m talking 48 Hrs., Beverly Hills Cop (the first 2 anyway), Trading Places, and Coming to America. All funny movies. all of them awesome. Then all of your movies started to suck. I mean, name one good movie Eddie Murphy has done in the last 20 years, besides the voice of Donkey in Shrek. Well, he did get an Oscar nomination for a supporting role in the 2006 movie Dreamgirls (which I have not seen yet.) And he seemed like the lock to win the Oscar.

So what happened?  THIS MOVIE HAPPENED! This movie cost him the Oscar. And that’s not the worst of it. The worst tragedy about this movie is THIS MOVIE MADE MONEY! This was a box office hit when it should have been DOA like the rest of Eddie’s movies in the last 10 years. This makes Nutty Professor II (another bad film where Eddie wore a fat suit) look good, even though the giant hamster turning Eddie’s boss into a soprano was a nice touch.

But anyway, I’ve said enough. So grab your popcorn tin and your vomit pails (it would be best not to confuse them) and let’s get on with it.

The movie opens with Norbit as a kid being tossed out of a car in front of an orphanage run by an Asian man (played by NONE OTHER THAN EDDIE MURPHY!) Were they trying to offend every stereotype known to man in this movie? It’s almost like Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but at least Mickey Rooney’s Asian character in that movie was funny! But to be fair, Eddie’s Asian character is the only good character in the movie. So anyway, Norbit grows up in the orphanage and there he became close with a girl named Kate, who’s a nice, cute sweet girl. So it basically starts out as a standard boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, boy loses girl (she gets adopted) story. Then some time, Norbit is saved from bullies by a girl named Rasputia (a female variation of Rasputin, one of the most evil men who ever lived) and she is a complete 180 from Kate. Instead of the nice sweet cute girl, we get an overweight, ugly, mean-spirited oversexed abomination of a human being who practically forces her way on Norbit because he’s too nice and weak-minded to know the meaning of the word no.

And if you think Rasputia was ugly as a kid… It gets worse.

Fast forward to them as adults and Norbit has grown up to become Eddie Murphy only now Norbit looks like a 40-year-old Steve Urkel with a really bad fro and a voice that’s reminiscent of his days playing the grown-up Buckwheat from The Little Rascals during his days on SNL. And Rasputia? Well, I’ll let this image speak for itself.

Would you date a chick who looked like this?

That is what Eddie Murphy looks like in a fat suit and in drag! Get used to that image, people. You will be seeing THAT for the rest of the movie!

So they unfortunately get married and Norbit is working for Rasputia’s brothers’ construction company which serves as a front for their extortionist activities where they bully practically the whole town. And speaking of the marriage, the sex scenes in this movie are painful to watch. Yes, I said it, painful. Their sex scenes are so bad that it could very well be considered torture. Sadly, this is the only time in the movie where we feel sorry for Norbit, primarily because he is a nice guy and this is a situation that nice guys find themselves in every day. And that is clearly not good.

And even worse the only one who actually finds that thing attractive is her aerobics instructor (Marlon Wayans.) Marlon, WHERE’S YOUR DIGNITY?!

However, there is a light at the end of Norbit’s tunnel. His old friend, Kate (played by Thandie Newton, the token hot chick who should be offered an apology for being in this movie) comes back into town because she wants to take over the orphanage and the two reconnect. However, she has a fiancé, played by Cuba Gooding, Jr. who is (surprise, surprise) a douchebag who is in league with Norbit’s evil brother-in-laws because they want to buy the orphanage so they can turn it into a nudie bar. So will they succeed? Will Norbit abandon his evil wife in favor of true love?

Despite the horrifying mess that this movie truly is, there are actually some good performances. In addition to Murphy’s performance as the Asian orphanage owner (only), Thandie Newton actually brings a ray of light to this film even though it doesn’t deserve it and it’s good to see the pimps (one of whom is played by Eddie Griffin) as the good guys.

However, none of these things can save this movie. There is absolutely no redeeming quality to this movie at all. And that, combined with the fact that this movie has only a 9% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I cannot ignore that. So there is nothing else to say except… this movie is the biggest and most offensive, racist, stupid, disgusting, mean-spirited, irreverent, hopeless, shameless, pig-headed, vomit-inducing worm-headed piece of crap I’ve ever seen in my life!  But above all else, THIS MOVIE SUCKS! Avoid it like the plague! If you have this movie on DVD, destroy it! Kill it before it multiplies!

So anyway, that’s how I deal with bad movies. Oh, yeah, one more thing. Earlier this year, Eddie Murphy and the director of Norbit teamed up to direct a movie called “A Thousand Words.” Anyone remember that one? Neither do I.

Karma’s a bitch, Eddie. Karma’s a bitch.

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises

Well friends, this is it. The big one. The review that everyone has been waiting for. A review of the most anticipated film of 2012. So sit back, relax, and buckle up because I am about to get this review underway. Ladies and gentlemen, here is a review of the final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s Batman saga, The Dark Knight Rises.

But before we get started, I want to offer an apology for not reviewing the previous film, The Dark Knight. I was just starting to film myself on YouTube at the time The Dark Knight came out and I meant to do a review of that film at the time, but I forgot all about it and by the time I would have gotten around to it, everyone would have said everything I was going to say about it anyway so I decided not to go through with it.

So as my way of atoning for that, I am going to review this movie. One suggestion I would make about this movie is that you better pack a lunch because this film is almost 3 hours long. You heard that right, folks. Almost 3 hours long, a rarity for a summer movie blockbuster. So let’s not waste any time, shall we?

I’m gonna start off with a recap of the last movie, so this is hardly a spoiler because it’s safe to say that everyone by this point has seen The Dark Knight. Batman is wanted by the cops for murdering District Attorney Harvey Dent, even though by that time, Dent was corrupted by the Joker and turned into Two-Face. As Two-Face, Dent kidnaps Commissioner Gordon’s family and Batman saves them, even though Dent is killed in the process. In order to ensure that Dent’s good-guy reputation is secure, Batman and Gordon hatch a plot in which Batman will take the fall for both Dent’s death and the crimes Dent committed as Two-Face.

When this movie begins, its 8 years later and Batman has pretty much disappeared and the man behind the Bat, Bruce Wayne (again played by Christian Bale) has become a crippled recluse. Meanwhile two new villains have emerged to plague Gotham: Selena Kyle (played by Anne Hathaway), a cat burglar who we all know in the comics as Catwoman even though she isn’t called Catwoman in the movie and the main villain, Bane (played by Tom Hardy.) Now here is where I have to show some praise. Despite a liberty taken here and there, this movie’s Bane is closer to the real Bane as seen in the comics as opposed to the ass-raping the character received by Joel Schumacher in Batman and Robin. This is one of Batman’s most dangerous villains and the only real villain to actually defeat Batman and he is portrayed as such here but I’m not going to give too much away. I mean, it’s hard to do a movie like this without giving away too many spoilers.

Anne Hathaway does a pretty decent job here as Catwoman (I’ll call her that even though Nolan doesn’t call her that in the movie.) She has the right amount of sex appeal, physical prowess, and vulnerability that the character should have. And we sort of do feel the conflict that Catwoman has: She doesn’t know whether she wants to be a villain or a hero, just like in the comics.

The actions of both these villains force Bruce out of self-imposed exile and puts on the Bat suit again to save Gotham. Yes, folks, Christian Bale’s Bat-voice is back too, although it’s more toned down here than it is in the previous two movies. And what ensues is probably the biggest battle of his life.

And some of the supporting actors in this movie are pretty good too. Nolan Bat-regulars Michael Caine gives off an extremely touching performance especially for having significantly less screen time than in the last movie. Morgan Freeman again shines as Lucius Fox. Gary Oldman again does a pretty decent job as Commissioner Gordon. And the newcomers do a pretty decent job as well. Note that at least five of the main actors came over from Nolan’s last film, Inception (also a good movie I saw in theaters.) In addition to Tom Hardy (Bane) and Michael Caine (Alfred), Marion Cotillard (who appeared with Bale in the film Public Enemies) does fairly well as Miranda Tate, who has been handling Wayne Enterprise activities in Bruce’s absence.  You might think she doesn’t play a major role in the story, but she does (especially towards the end of the movie.) And Joseph Gordon-Leavitt as idealistic cop John Blake does most of the hero stuff whenever Batman is off-screen. And he does share a connection to Batman (which I also will not give away.)

The visuals are absolutely incredible. Everything from Batman’s newest vehicle, the Bat (a variation of the Batwing from the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher franchise) to Bane blowing up various sections of Gotham City (including a spectacular sequence where a football field is destroyed while one player plays on oblivious to the destruction around him.) And the climactic battle between Batman and his army of cops and Bane and his army of liberated criminals will clearly take your breath away.

Also of note is that this movie was filmed in New York City during the Occupy Wall Street movement which actually gives a hint of realism to this film (something the Nolan Bat-films have done pretty well) and from what I’ve heard, actual protesters were used as extras in the film further adding to the authenticity of the film.

So now on to the story. The story is a mixture of some of the best Batman stories ever told in the comics: “Knightfall” (the Batman/Bane storyline), “No Man’s Land” (criminals controlling a cut-off Gotham City) and the landmark mini-series, “The Dark Knight Returns” (Batman returning after a prolonged absence) and the story is told really well. In fact, the pacing is so good that you forget that this film is almost 3 hours long. If a movie can do that, then that’s the sign of a good movie.

So now the moment of truth: Is The Dark Knight Rises good or is it a colossal letdown? Well, in my honest opinion, The Dark Knight Rises is really, really good. In fact, I think I liked this better than The Dark Knight. It kept me really interested and it is clearly the ultimate Batman movie. A true epic and it’s also one of those rare threequels that is actually just as good as or better than the original movies. Other examples of this include Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (even though I never seen it and as I’ve mentioned before in previous videos, I am not a Lord of the Rings fan.)

So there you go viewers. That is my take on The Dark Knight Rises. I highly recommend it to everyone and if you don’t want to see the Olympics, I suggest you go to the movies and check it out.