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Amelia’s Boy Assistant Saw An Astro Vampire

This week’s releases raise several questions about modern Hollywood decision-making.  And these questions, if they can be answered, might lead to unsatisfying realizations. For example: Does putting the word “vampire” in the title of a tween movie guarantee success?  Why name a movie about history’s most famous female aviator ‘Amelia’ rather than ‘Airheart’?  Does an updated animated character from 1950’s Japan count as nostalgic for American audiences?  And why the hell are people still making Saw movies?

Why are you asking me?  I'm the decider not the questioner?

Why are you asking me? I'm the decider not the questioner?

Keeping with the theme of questioning, this roundup is all about not knowing and the joys that come from worrying about the Q rather than the A.  Our first movie is not named Airheart because it would be spelled Earhart, which sounds like a physical deformity.  So perhaps the namers of Amelia (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic) knew what they were doing after all.


“To say that Amelia never gets off the ground would be an understatement; it barely makes it out of the hangar.” Justin Chang Variety

So this bio pic is taxiing down the runway?  Or is it still fueling?  The metaphor got lost somewhere between the high ceiling garage and the tarmac.

“Top-flight portrayal of the aviator by Hilary Swank is an instant bio classic.” Ray Bennett Hollywood Reporter

The term ‘instant classic’ gives pause because it sounds like movie hype that applauds a January release as the best of the year or announcing a promising high school athlete as future hall-of-famer.  So, Does Hilary Swank deserve a premature lifetime achievement award?

“Amelia earns a pass, corny as it sometimes is. The lady earned her wings, and Swank, especially, more than does right by both the woman and the legend.” Roger Moore Orlando Sentinel

“With any luck this biopic of Amelia Earhart will also vanish without a trace. Hilary Swank is sorely miscast as the legendary aviator.” Chicago Reader J.R. Jones

Sorely miscast actress does right by a legend, but then vanishes without a trace.  Or miscast actress vanishes while doing a legend and earns her wings.

“Considering its focus on a pioneering, rule-breaking icon, the film’s utter lack of personality isn’t just a failure. It’s close to an insult.”  The Onion (A.V. Club) Sam Adams

So, Amelia is a top-flight biography that never gets off the ground despite earning Swank her wings and insulting the audience?  Let’s avoid more aviation-themed comments and take-off with Astro Boy (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

Astro Boy movie poster

“Corny but goodhearted, the film tries hard not to annoy parents, with animation more fizzy than frantic and nerdy references.” LA Weekly Aaron Hillis

Wow, our first two movies were described as ‘corny’ and we haven’t yet discussed the tween Twilight comedy or the torturefest franchise that you now need two hands to count.  I fear for the future.

“Like a pig-iron fisted metaphor, Astro Boy the film resembles the robot, in that it is cobbled together out of parts we recognise. And as much as they don’t sound like they could all work in one film, they don’t.” Giles Hardie smh.com.au

I don’t recognise your spelling or your syntax.

“An exciting action-packed story with a host of fantastic voice actors, this is a contender for best animated movie of the year.” Annette Basile FILMINK (Australia)

So Astro Boy is either a poorly constructed robot or the best-animated movie of the year? Perhaps we need some non-Australian voices in the mix.

“What’s ultimately more impressive than the vigorous madcap action and innocuous humor, however, is Bowers’s willingness to address adult themes–alienation, regret, class tensions–with a directness that shows a surprising respect for his target young-adult audience.” Time Out New York Nick Schager

Does that mean the director treats Astro Boy’s like Astro Men?

“By nudging the picture into primary colors, Astro Boy loses a shot at an intriguing personality. A little sustained darkness never hurt anyone.” Brian Orndorf Sci-Fi Movie Page

Let me get this straight, the use of primary colors makes Astro dull and darkness is harmless?  Such an anti-color/pro-noir comment makes a fine segue into Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).


“Directed by Paul Weitz (American Pie), the movie suffers from the same tonal schizophrenia of that other recent goth wannabe, “Jennifer’s Body”: Is it meant to be scary or funny? Oops, it’s neither.” Village Voice Aaron Hillis

Perhaps it wanted to be as scary as American Pie and as funny as schizophrenia, in which case: Horray!

“When [director] Weitz and writer Brian Helgeland try to drape a plot over the colorful characters, the movie goes fuzzy.” Joe Williams St. Louis Post-Dispatch

If only fuzzy-vision meant that you could pet the screen.

“The Vampire’s Assistant is too busy making impossible claims about just how spectacular its sequels will be to serve up a self-contained story with a satisfying finale.” Variety Peter Debruge

Apparently, the movie should also be seen in sequel-vision.

“The vampire trend continues, but the only authentic bloodsuckers in Cirque du Freak are its producers and studio execs.” Aaron Hillis Village Voice

Speaking of authentic bloodsucking, our final film continues the franchise tradition of sucking the blood from a shriveled cash cow: Saw VI (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).  Since, Saw movies fill a ridiculous death contraption niche, but the only things that change between installments are the victims, instead of exploring the merits and demerits of the current installment, let’s do a brief retrospective on the series as a whole.

Saw (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

Saw Rule #1: No clapping

Saw Rule #1: No clapping

“Boasts an undeniably original premise and clever plot machinations that lift it several notches above the usual slasher film level.” The Hollywood Reporter Frank Scheck

Saw II (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

Saw Rule #2: No pointing, snapping, or flipping the bird.

Saw Rule #2: No pointing, snapping, or flipping the bird.

“It’s fully apparent that this sequel is more trick than treat and doesn’t really compare to its fine predecessor – though it still manages to be eye-opening (and sometimes positively nauseating) in itself.” The New York Times Laura Kern

Saw III (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

Saw Rule #3: No eating, biting, or making of charm bracelets out of teeth

Saw Rule #3: No eating, biting, or making of charm bracelets out of teeth

“Just like its increasingly wan antihero, this blood-soaked series is on its last legs.” New York Daily News Elizabeth Weitzman

Saw IV (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

Hey look, the human head does weight 8 pounds.  Good call kid from Jerry McQuire.

Hey look, the human head does weigh 8 pounds. Good call kid from Jerry McQuire.

“It’s a depressing experience to view something like Saw IV. It’s not just the soullessness that’s dispiriting, but the lack of invention. When a movie does little more than repeat what its predecessors accomplished with grotesque effectiveness, it’s past time to tip this corpse into its grave and bury it.” ReelViews James Berardinelli

Saw V (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

It looks like Jigsaw recovered from his decapitation surprisingly well

It looks like Jigsaw recovered from his decapitation surprisingly well

“A particularly dull and discombobulated affair, shot and acted with all the flair of a basic-cable procedural. Patterson and Mandylor are so wooden that their cat-and-mouse game has all the excitement of watching dust bunnies swirl in an air current.” Los Angeles Times Sam Adams

Saw VI (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

The sad legacy of this series is that each one comes out for Halloween, so instead of the Great Pumpkin, kids grow up with this

The sad legacy of this series is that each one comes out for Halloween, so instead of the Great Pumpkin, kids grow up with this

“The never-ending Saw horror franchise continues. Sigh. Fans and non-fans will get exactly what they expect, and not much more.” Zach Gibson Empire Magazine Australasia

PDJ hopes he’s seen the last of Saw

PDJ hopes he’s seen the last of Saw

5 Responses

  1. My favorite of the quotes, Saw III: “this blood-soaked series is on its last legs”

  2. Yeah, people have been hoping that this series will end since the beginning. However, I’d be willing to bet that Saw X comes out sometime before I die.

  3. So a historical movie that ends with an unknowable event, a movie based on a Japanese cultural phenomenon that Americans NEVER fell in love with, a blatent band-wagon film, and a movie that might as well be renamed “Annual Stupid People Tax”.

    Yay hollywood.

  4. Amelia reviews are disappointing. I always liked her.


  5. I’ll tell you what’s scary – unchecked nuclear proliferation.

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