Though College Humor may be best known for its largely irreverent sketch comedy, and for a few colorful series’ like Jake and Amir or The Adventures of Kim Jong Un, a new show of theirs may be one of the smartest and funniest things produced by the site in recent memory. It’s called Adam Ruins Everything, and if the first few episodes are any sign, Adam needs to ruin a great deal more.
Hosted by comedian and long-time College Humor writer Adam Conover, Adam Ruins Everything follows him as he breaks down the myths and misconceptions behind popular customs and social norms, revealing the often absurd reasons why they were started in the first place. One-part video essay, one-part walking history lesson and reenactment, Adam Ruins Everything has tackled topics like:
-That nearly everything about engagement rings, from the customs about prices to the act of actually giving them at all is the result of a massive century-long marketing campaign by De Beers to turn a relatively common and intrinsically worthless stone of crystalized carbon into a prized commodity people are literally killing themselves over.
Freedom is always a threat to those who seek the repression and oppression of others. When terrorists and tyrants seek to silence it, it is the responsibility of those who value liberty to speak out and speak up, no matter what harm is threatened for doing so.
I mention this because yesterday, gunmen stormed into the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French-satire magazine, and shot twelve people dead. The gunmen were Islamic radicals, who carried out the attacks in retaliation for drawings made by the magazine of the Prophet Mohammed, and their victims included the four of the magazine’s cartoonists, who were targeted specifically for making the drawings.
As with any such action, how we react in the aftermath is what defines us. Since then, many have been fast to condemn this act of terrorism, and lament the deaths of the journalists killed or injured by the attack, but fewer have been as fast to stand up for the principles and for which they were murdered.
One need look no further than to see how the various news outlets have covered an action that saw three murderous radicals slay a dozen of their fellow journalists. The cartoons for which the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo were killed are shown pixilated, if they’re shown at all. The magazine and its depictions of the cartoons labeled “controversial”, “poisonous” or “offensive”. Perhaps they were, but precious few seem as swift to stick their necks out and say that it was their right to be so, regardless of if it may hurt the feelings of some Islamic militants.
Regardless of your feelings of the drawings, the only thing that matters was that in conducting this act of terrorism, the gunman hoped to kill those who dared to criticize and mock them, and frighten others from doing the same. I’ve never been one to kowtow to anybody’s sensitivities, much less those of a group of murderous extremists, so allow me to say loudly and proudly what so few other media outlets have had the integrity to say:
Does this offend you? If so, it is your right to say so, to express such feelings, just as it is their right to create it. The instant you start making threats or killing people over it though, YOU ARE THE VILLAIN HERE.
Freedom, whether or not it is the freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, are all or nothing propositions. Such freedoms are more than the foundation of western democracy, but the birthright of every human being, and whether limitations are being made out of the benign intent not to offend others, or repressed in efforts to maintain totalitarian control over people, it is made in defiance to the values of civilized society and human nature.
After the strange, mixed year that was 2014 at the cinema, like everyone else, I’m taking a look forward at the movies that are coming out this year, and it’s no small thing when I say that 2015 may be a year to remember for a long time to come based on the lineup we have.
How good does 2015 look for movies? There are a half dozen interesting movies coming out in January. JANUARY.
We’re getting new movies from Spielberg, Tarantino and Ron Howard, and long-overdue passion projects from many more. James Bond will be back to dealing with a familiar threat as the Marvel Cinematic Universe enters its most ambitious phase yet. The Hunger Games films are coming to a close, even as Terminator, Mad Max and Jurassic Park get long-awaited sequels. WE’RE GETTING A NEW STAR WARS MOVIE. There are a dozen or so franchises being launched this year whose successes and failures will effect Hollywood’s offerings for years to come.
2015 is going to be a bell weather year to watch, and there are already a great many films I can’t wait to see for myself. So without further adieu, here are the movies I’m looking forward to in 2015:
Selma – This much hyped Martin Luther King biopic focuses on his March to Birmingham, had earned a lot of awards buzz, and my attention as well.
Taken 3 – You know, normally I would be excited for another Liam Neeson action movie, much less another Taken sequel. Considering this one’s going to be PG-13 though, and having seen what that did to The Expendables 3, I’m somewhat wary.
American Sniper – Clint Eastwood’s latest film is a biopic about decorated sniper Chris Kyle looks to be his most notable effort in years, and I’m always up for a good war movie.
Blackhat – Michael Mann’s first film since 2009 is an international spy thriller – color me interested, if only to see if one of the old masters hasn’t lost his touch.
Seventh Son – It’s an epic fantasy film from the director of Mongol and starring Jeff Bridges and Kit Harrington. Plus, words cannot describe the amount of schadenfreude I’d have if this ends up topping the much maligned Jupiter Ascending at the box office.
Kingsman: The Secret Service – After having saved the X-Men franchise, Matthew Vaughn is going back to making British-tinged action-thrillers, and based on early buzz, this is a very good thing.
Chappie – Neill Blomkamp’s latest movie alone would attract my attention, but having it focus on a robot as it learns to think and feel as we do, and you’ve got my ticket money. In a year where we’ve got a number of killer robot movies, the one where the robot searches for its soul may be a standout.
Cinderella – Yes, I know it’s a live adaptation of a public domain fairy tale, and those are almost universally terrible. But it has a good trailer, is directed by Kenneth Branagh, plus, Robb Stark is playing Price Charming, or as he shall henceforth be referred to, PRINCE IN THE NORTH!
In the Heart of the Sea – This thriller from Ron Howard focuses on the sinking of the whaleship Essex and the survivor’s story of Owen Chase, and given the story inspired Moby Dick, it should make for a whale of a tale.
Furious 7 – Yes, it should be another by the books sequel to the Fast and the Furious, but this one will star Bruce Willis, Kurt Russell, Jason Statham and Tony Jaa.
Ex Machina – The directing debut of Alex Garland, who penned two of my favorite movies, 28 Days Later and Dredd, follows a computer programmer being asked to evaluate an AI program, and by the trailer alone, it looks stunning visually.
Skin Trade – Already a frontrunner for being one of the year’s most notable old school action thrillers, it follows Dolph Lundgren, Tony Jaa and Michael Jai White as they seek to destroy an international sex slave run by Ron Perlman.
Avengers: Age of Ultron – As if following one of the most successful films of all time wasn’t a tall enough order, Marvel’s latest film will have the future of its entire cinematic universe on its shoulders, but if anyone can handle that much pressure, much less a psychotic killer android, it’s the Avengers.
Mad Max: Fury Road – It’s hard to believe we’re finally getting a new sequel to Mad Max thirty years after the last one, long after director George Miller wasted his career on the Happy Feet franchise and star Mel Gibson got blacklisted for anti-Semitism, but here we are. Here’s hoping Tom Hardy doesn’t drop the ball on this one.
Tomorrowland – It’s been kept tightly under wraps, but the trailer is intriguing, and director Brad Bird has never made a bad film, and promised this could be his best movie ever. Here’s hoping that ends for him better than it did for fellow Pixar alumni’s pet project John Carter.
Jurassic World –We finally get to return to Jurassic Park, and even if the plot summary looks like it was ripped off of Carnosaur, personally, I’m good with a big-budget version of Carnosaur if it means I get to see shark-eating dinosaurs and Star Lord teaming up with raptors.
The Transporter Legacy – A reboot of the Transporter film series? That’s good. Starring some rapper instead of Jason Statham? That’s bad. Either way, for now, I’m intrigued.
Terminator Genisys – A Terminator movie that somehow managed to fit Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Eleventh Doctor and Danyraes Targaryen in a single movie, and gave us a trailer that contained more awesomeness than the entirety of Terminator: Salvation? Cue the theme song, I’m ready.
Ant-Man – It may have lost Edgar Wright, but it hasn’t lost any hype, or my interest, especially as this is supposed to be the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 3.
Pixels – On one hand, it has an interesting premise, following Earth as it attempts to counter alien invaders who thought old arcade games were declarations of war, and it stars Peter Dinklage. On the other hand it stars Adam Sandler and Kevin James.
The Fantastic Four – Almost every detail about this movie has people saying this movie will be a dud, but seeing as it’s the sophomore project of Josh Trank, director of Chronicle, it has a little bit of faith from me.
Much like the year itself, at the movies in 2014, it was both the best of times and the worst of times. It was the year that proved so many people still can’t stop giving Michael Bay their money. It was the year where both of Chris Nolan’s post superhero efforts ending up beaten at the box office by superhero movies that both outdid and outperformed his own films. It was the year the Marvel Cinematic Universe not only had two of its biggest hits, but gave us two of the year’s best and most ambitious movies. It was the year that saw the weakest summer box office in a decade, and some of the strongest awards buzz in years. It was the year that saw the Hobbit finally come there and back again, Spiderman hung by his own web, and dystopias filter onto the silver screen.
Due to some movies having a limited release – Inherent Vice, Selma and American Sniper come to mind – they may not be summarized here, though I hope to review one or two of them this month. That said, here is the list of movies from 2014 that I saw, for better or worse, and my brief thoughts on them all.
Lone Survivor – Not bad, certainly for the annual January Marky Mark star vehicle, though it could have been better. One of the biggest: why not have Marcus Luttrell play himself in the movie? It worked for Audie Murphy, and I’d much rather watch a movie starring Luttrell than hand Hollywood’s favorite hate-crime committing Bostonian another paycheck.
The Legend of Hercules – The Rock had better thank their lucky stars for this movie keeping his movie from being the worst Hercules movie this year. If Hollywood didn’t learn not to bet money on Kellan Lutz after this and The Expendables 3, I don’t know what will.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – A passable spy flick, though certainly not the franchise launcher I expect Paramount was hoping for here.
I, Frankenstein – I stand by my review saying this may be one of the best movies to sit down with friends with copious amounts of booze and pizza to watch on Netflix and have some cheesy fun with. It’s absolute schlock, but of the best type.
Non-Stop – A wonky third act aside, here’s another serviceable Liam Neeson movie. You know what to expect by this point, so come and if you need a dose of his particular set of skills before Taken 3 opens this week, it’s worth a rental.
Robocop – Just because it wasn’t the trainwreck we expected doesn’t change the fact his was a lazy cash-in remake of one of the greatest science-fiction and action films ever made. The irony that Hollywood basically did to Robocop what the original film did to Alex Murphy has not been lost on me. Seriously folks, don’t reward bad behavior, and just watch the original again.
The Lego Movie – I was one of the rare voices that expressed any optimism over what looked like a glorified toy commercial, but even a year later, I’m amazed that The Lego Movie may be one of the best movies of the year, and the best toy related films since the original Toy Story. Witty, energetic, beautiful to look at and absolutely overflowing with heart, it’s one of 2014’s biggest surprises and best movies, and I fully recommend it.
The Monuments Men – A fun war movie, but for the star-studded cast and hype, it easily outdone and deservedly outshown by Fury. Worth a rental.
3 Days to Kill – I’m not sure who I want to stop getting work more, McG or Kevin Costner. Either way, this movie stunk.
300: Rise of an Empire – People have been trying to capture the same gonzo lightning in a bottle that made 300 such a hit for years, with most failing, and few failing as hard as 300: Rise of an Empire. Take the hammy acting, unforgettable dialogue and story, hardcore action scenes and innovative cinematography of the original, rip it all out and replace it with wooden acting, an even duller script and none of the fire and fury of the original, and there hasn’t been a sequel that missed its mark quite this much since the Matrix sequels. Tonight we dine in hell indeed.
Muppets Most Wanted – Not nearly as magical as the last Muppets movie, but still good fun.
Need for Speed – One of the better video game movie adaptations, but still doesn’t escape B-movie territory.
God’s not Dead – God may not be dead, but subtlety certainly seems to be, in the worst of a number of “Christian” movies at the box office. Unless you’re one of the tent revival types, like the rest of that sorry lot, it’s too one-note and on the nose for the masses. That may be for the best, they’re all terrible.
Divergent – Remember how the Hunger Games took the world by storm because of its brilliantly conceived dystopia, very talented cast and relevant themes? Meet the first of many imitators to lack off of those, offering a shallow knock off starring the young adult actors not talented enough to make the cut for Hunger Games where being able to walk and chew gum at the same time makes you a threat to the state. Also, it’s mostly focused on teen romance as opposed to any political subtext. Hope you folks want the upcoming sequels!
Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Remember how Man of Steel tried to make Superman dark and gritty because the folks at Warner Bros felt such an idealistic hero couldn’t resonate in the modern day? Or how those same folks shoehorned half-assed political messages into Batman movies to seem deep? Watch Marvel and Captain America show them how it’s done as Steve Rogers not only retains his signature idealism and principles, but shows why such idealism and principle matters now more than ever in a political thriller that even now I’m amazed how far it went with its message against government overreach and trading freedom for security. Toss in some of the best action choreography of the year, and hints at what comes next in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Captain America: The Winter Soldier ends up one of 2014’s best movies.
Draft Day – Remember when I asked if I wanted McG or Kevin Costner to disappear faster? Let’s go ahead and make that Kevin Costner. Seriously Hollywood, stop trying to make his comeback a thing.
Sabotage – Thanks to the studio moving the release date without much fanfare, I actually missed this movie while it was in theaters, which is a shame. It’s a solid action vehicle for a solid cast led by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and makes for a pretty solid action movie. It tanked in theaters but seems to have found its footing on DVD and Netflix. If you missed it like I did, check it out.
Transcendence – For all of the Nolan fanboys still smarting over the fact people didn’t act like dogs in heat over Interstellar, take some comfort in knowing its being treated far better than Nolan’s OTHER movie this year, Transcendence. Though directed by longtime Nolan alum Wally Pfister, all of Nolan’s signatures, from many of his regular cast members to reused tropes appear, and perhaps for the first time, they utterly wrecked a movie beyond redemption. This was one of 2014’s biggest duds and for good reason, it’s one of the worst movies I’ve ever officially reviewed.
The Raid 2 – The one good thing about Transcendence I can say is that it was so bad I went to go see The Raid 2 to wipe the lingering bad taste from my mouth, and haven’t regretted it since. It’s undeniably just as inventive as its predecessor, and if The Raid missed your radar the first time around, there is no longer any excuse after this. Watch both of them at once and join the rest of the world in hailing the best addition to the international action genre since John Woo’s heyday.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – You know, the first one was bad, but it’s almost an achievement for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to not only be worse, but to be so bad it makes Spiderman 3 look like The Avengers. I said at the time it’s probably the worst tentpole comic book movie since Schumacher was making Batman movies, and apparently even Sony agrees, as the plans for a franchise have gone up in smoke after it disappointed at the box office, and they’ve been in crisis mode ever since. After this abomination, those plans deserved to be deader than Gwen Stacey.
Godzilla – It may have had a slow start, it may not have had as much Bryan Cranston as we wanted, it may not have been perfect, but when the King of the Monsters takes the screen, none of that matters. Few experiences at the theater matched being in a packed theater full of people shooting each other knowing looks every time Godzilla readied an atomic breath, or cheering with every roar, even if we had to sit through two hours of melancholy melodrama for it. Check it out on DVD and just skip all the parts with people and revel in the King of the Monster’s awesome glory – and salivate over the multiple upcoming sequels.
X-Men: Days of Future Past – A great action movie that actually managed to create a stable timeline of the convoluted X-Men franchise. Better yet, they did what anyone else with a time machine would do, and go back in time to prevent X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins Wolverine from ever happening. It was either that or kill Hitler, but I think they made the right call on this one.
Maleficent – You wouldn’t think Angelina Jolie hamming it up for two hours could carry an entire movie, but you’d be wrong. Whatever else you can say about the movie, you have to give credit where its due that she rocked this movie.
No Fault in Our Stars – How so many otherwise rational people enjoyed this movie is beyond me, considering it’s the same bottom of the barrel melodrama Nicholas Sparks movies have been cranking out for a decade plus now. The only good thing to come of it was my parody poster for it.
How to Train your Dragon 2 – Every bit as magical as the first one, and one of my favorite movies of the year. How it managed to under-perform at the box office when people paid more to see a prequel to Monsters Inc is beyond me, but in my humble view, this is probably the best animated franchise in Hollywood right now. Hopefully, the Oscars will agree.
Edge of Tomorrow – Despite being one of 2014’s most notable bombs, rest assured, the fault lies with studio idiocy botching marketing the movie, not with any flaws with the movie itself. A great premise, great action, surprisingly good performances from its cast and a well-developed since of humor made this one of the best offerings of at the summer box office this year, and one of the best movies. Only a Warner Bros marketing executive could screw that up.
The Hobbit movies have proven divisive to say the least, with opinions evenly split between those who feel they’re bloated misfires and those who think they’re fun, fantastic jaunts back into Middle Earth. While I personally have loved the first two movies, I can see where some of the criticism and complaints come from, having noticed the bloat and added subplots to the films just like anyone else has. Where I’ve differed though is I’ve figured that it will all come together or collapse with the final movie, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies.
Re-titled earlier this year from The Hobbit: There and Back Again, The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies has a tall order to live up to, not only in wrapping up all of the lingering plot threads from the Hobbit films – centered on the part of the book Bilbo spent unconscious no less – but in providing a tangible connection to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which itself is pretty much the gold standard on how to end a trilogy. The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies has more than just the fate of Middle Earth riding upon it, but the legacy of The Hobbit trilogy riding on it as well.
None of that mattered as I sat in the theater on opening night, as happy as ever, yet somewhat saddened that for good or ill, this will be the last time I get to see a new movie in Middle Earth for the first time.
So does Hollywood’s last trip to Middle Earth offer a fitting final farewell to the franchise, or has it finally overstayed its welcome? Join me my dear readers, as I go there and back again to review The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies.
You know, I really do miss the days when the police made me feel protected instead of paranoid. Of course, given recent events, I doubt I’m the only one anymore.
If you’ve been watching the news, then no doubt all of you know why. The last few weeks have seen a number of cities brought to a standstill by multiple protests – including my native Richmond – following a chain of events that has sparked conversations nationwide on topics ranging from race relations, police militarization and the terrifying scope of a justice system that many feel no longer serves justice.
Now, before proceeding further, needless to say, the following article will contain controversial topics and likely controversial opinions. Agree or disagree, please remain calm, and lets all do our best to discuss this like rational people.