Arrow: Fighting Crime the Bill Gates Way

Published on December 12th, 2013 in: Current Faves, Science and Technology, TV |

By LabSplice


A few weeks ago, in search of a television show I could marathon that didn’t require too much brainpower, I decided to give Arrow a chance. The CW show is the sexy retelling of The Green Arrow, a character from the DC comic universe who fights crime with only his wits, a bow and arrow, and a multibillion dollar corporation that was bequeathed to him by his late father. It looked like a soap opera with action sequences. It looked dumb as hell.

It looked perfect.


Instantly The Worst: Ulli Lommel’s Black Dahlia

Published on September 23rd, 2013 in: Horror, Movie Reviews, Movies, Reviews |

By LabSplice


One of the inevitable outcomes of Video on Demand services is that they tend to monopolize our conversations about film. Many people—and I do not exclude myself from this—would rather seek out a new title on Netflix Instant or Amazon Prime than spend the extra money to rent something not available through those channels. This creates something of a cinematic echo chamber, where a smaller selection of titles is given preferential treatment. We want to share experiences and recommend films to others so we focus on a platform that we know many people have in common.

Still, even accounting for the smaller sample size, there are still many interesting conversations to be had about the catalogue of Netflix films. Thousands of films across all genres and nationalities currently vie for our attention, waiting in the cloud for us to press a single button and bring them down to our devices. There are films that can educate, films that can move, and even titles by some of the greatest and most talented filmmakers of each generation. And thanks to the data algorithms and crowdsourcing efforts of Netflix, each title is provided with a handy numerical score to give us a quick snapshot of its quality.

And one of them has to be ranked last.


From M. Night To Elysium (And Maybe Back Again)

Published on August 22nd, 2013 in: Movies |

By LabSplice

Everyone needs help. Even Sharlto Copley in a mecha-suit.

At the turn of the century, Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas were working on a long-awaited sequel to the Indiana Jones trilogy and in search of a writer. One of the names on their list was M. Night Shyamalan, the celebrated writer-director of The Sixth Sense and an emerging talent who was already receiving praise as the next Spielberg in Hollywood. Fans were excited at the chance to see Shyamalan bring his vision to the Indiana Jones universe; unfortunately, due to conflicts with his production schedule, Shyamalan was forced to turn down the opportunity, and the script was passed along. Since then, Shyamalan has worked solely on his own projects, working double duty on all of his films as both writer and director.

A few months ago, news broke that Elysium director Neill Blomkamp had turned down the opportunity to direct a new Star Wars film. Fans of the franchise were understandably upset; the original Star Wars films depict a universe full of secondhand spaceships and repurposed technology, an obvious influence on Blomkamp’s production design in both District 9 and Elysium. Blomkamp, recently named as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine, was an emerging talent and a good aesthetic fit for the Star Wars universe. Still, Blomkamp turned the opportunity down, citing his desire to direct his own material as his motivating factor, and people were quick to praise the director for developing original science fiction stories.

It seems like the perfect anecdote for a summer dominated by comic book adaptations and sequels: talented director reaches the heights of fame and is offered a chance to participate in a blockbuster movie franchise, only to turn it down in favor of original material. Unfortunately, we all know the path Shyamalan would take with his original creations. His films, so promising to begin with, have been let down by the absurd liberties he takes as a writer—and Blomkamp appears poised to make these same mistakes all over again.


Movie Review: G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Published on April 1st, 2013 in: Comics, Movie Reviews, Movies, Reviews |

By LabSplice


In G.I. Joe: Retaliation, the Joes are no more. The entire squad and their leader were wiped out in a double-cross by Zartan, the Cobra lieutenant who has impersonated the president of the United States and is working from within the government to free Cobra Commander. The remaining Joes, led by Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), are forced to take on a government that no longer trusts them and rescue the entire world from the brink of nuclear war.

You almost have to feel sorry for way the cards were stacked against G.I. Joe: Retaliation. The first film in the series, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, limped out of theaters as a critical failure, and many fans would have preferred to see the franchise die an ignominious death without any additional entries. Furthermore, Retaliation suffered from several delays in its production schedule, delays that allegedly arose regarding complications in the use of Channing Tatum’s character, Duke. This meant that the only actors who would reprise their roles in the second film would be Jonathan Pryce as the president of the United States, Byung-hun Lee as Storm Shadow, and the silent and faceless presence of Ray Park as Snake Eyes. Throw in a few quick scenes with Arnold Vosloo as Zartan and you had perhaps the most underwhelming core of franchise talent in summer blockbuster history.


Movie Review: The Call

Published on March 18th, 2013 in: Movie Reviews, Movies, Reviews |

By LabSplice


You would certainly be forgiven if you did not pay much attention to the release of The Call this weekend. The marketing material for the film seemed determined to highlight two actresses trending in the wrong direction: Halle Berry, who has seen her career lose momentum after her turn in the disastrous Catwoman movie, and Abigail Breslin, who is entering the awkward high school years that seem to break so many talented child actors. Like many movies within the thriller genre, the release of this film was preceded by stale casting and mediocre trailers. When the most noteworthy aspect of your film’s marketing campaign is the nuisance of Halle Berry’s introduction to the trailer, most moviegoers don’t feel they are missing out on the next big thing.


Assemblog: September 28, 2012

Published on September 28th, 2012 in: Assemblog, Culture Shock, Film Festivals, Horror, Less Lee Moore, Movies, Trailers, Underground/Cult |

bird with the crystal plumage
The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, 1970

New on Popshifter this week: I strongly recommend Richard Crouse’s new book Raising Hell: Ken Russell and the Unmaking of The Devils; a concerned citizen lays down some rules on proper Facebook etiquette; Julie can’t find a song to dislike on Gemma Ray’s Island Fire; Emily deems The Very Best Of Vince Guaraldi and The Very Best Of The Bill Evans Trio as “essential” and praises Timi Yuro’s The Complete Liberty Singles as a “wonderful collection”; Paul explains why only hipsters hate hipsters; and Jemiah has good news for people who don’t know the difference between “grisly” and “grizzly” in her review of The Wrong Word Dictionary.