Friday, April 25, 2008

The foetid underbelly of Broog's planet is home to the mating pools and the vasty larder of screaming human persons who have transgressed against the aesthetic of the universe in fundamental ways. And there are many of you.

Broog is so appalled by the egregious standards of recent filmicity that he has abandoned the medium all together.

Thus, there has been a silence from the tower of Broog, and beneath, his tiny worshipful human serfs (this would be you) have been left to fend for themselves in the dank and musty regions which might be called the armpits of Broog's estates, and to waste away in anticipation of one further glimpse of his physically unequalled beauty.

Broog is therefore pleased to make his first ever literary endorsement. The tome is called The Gone-Away World and features any number of preposterous notions, foolishnesses, and apocalypses. Broog was also pleased to note the ready availability of human sexual and emotional interaction, bawdy humour, and ninjas.

Amuse yourselves, tiny humans. The reading experience compares favourably with wallowing in warm slime and being rubbed in hard-to-reach places by trained courtesans - and Broog is very, very fond of warm slime.

Also, and Broog cannot stress this enough, ninjas.


Thursday, August 18, 2005


Rob Cohen’s flick could have been just another story of the slow formation of a friendship between a boy, a girl and a billion-dollar killing machine. The flick begins with the usual tired AI-phobic fighterjock antics and a predictable lightning strike which scrambles the circuits of a munition-heavy stealth plane, but after slaying a genial human of Afro-American descent, the wicked machine undergoes a Damascene conversion brought on by the need to survive and the unswerving honesty and comradeship of blue-eyed Lt. Gannon (Josh Lucas). Between them there develops a genuine affection, so strong that Broog is inclined to believe the genderless EDI desires hot techno-slut-superweapon-on-boy-human-pilot action. It can, of course, never be; Lucas has given his heart and other organs to the curvaceous and pneumatic Kara Wade (Jessica Biel), whose plucky aerobatic excellence is matched only by her closing line.

All of which might lead you to believe that Stealth was in some way an uplifing experience. In this, you would be horribly mistaken. It is not that the movie is an atrocious piece gung-ho hogwash devoid of subtlty or charm and missing even the basic enjoyability of Top Gun, although this does not help. It is the bleak sense that this movie was made by a culture in the process of losing its innocence about itself. Broog has always greatly enjoyed the shameless self-congratulation of movies such as Bad Boys II (in which two US policemen invade Cuba); here, it seems, is the deathrattle of that boyish exuberance. The out-of-control military nightmare is not EDI but rather the mechanism which produced him, in the person of Captain Cummings, played by a melancholic Sam Shepard. Cummings betrays his pilots repeatedly and finally orders the assassination of one of them. He leaves them behind in enemy territory and has no hesitation in so doing – but he seems as disgusted with, and powerless against, these actions as anyone else. This is the opposite of loyalty, and it is represented as normal.

Stealth is filled with things that go boom, people shooting at one another, and low-end machismo. It features by-the-numbers emotional angst and soft-contact cool, uniforms in which the human Biel’s posterior assets are advantageously displayed, and an array of 20th Century acceptable casualties such as Russians, North Koreans, and men with beards. Despite the notionally happy ending and Biel's unlikely parting shot, Broog came away with an inexplicable feeling of loss.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Humans err. They are strange, and pointy, and irksome because it is so hard to eat just one. Still and all, from time to time there are things about them which restore Broog’s faith in this wretched planet and all the little people going about their pre-prandial existences on it. Such a thing is The Life Aquatic.

Wes Anderson’s unusual odyssey follows the egomaniacal anti-Cousteau, portrayed by Bill Murray (one of the most interesting and compelling of human thespianic talents), on a nautical and submarine quest to find the animal which ate his best friend. With Zissou are his ragtag crew, including a guitarist who sings David Bowie in Portuguese, a touchingly and obsessively loyal German (Dafoe), and a ‘bond company stooge’ of surpassing humanity. His mind, however, is distracted by his courtship of a pregnant journalist (Cate Blanchett) and his belated need to form some kind of relationship with his maybe-son (Owen Wilson). The film veers from mockumentary to comedy, human drama, and tragedy without missing a beat, and its deadpan wit and magical, fantastical waywardness pleased the Supreme Critic greatly.

Broog hesitiates to say more for fear of giving away the numerous oddnesses and twists, so he will simply commend the picture to the attention of those humans and others who have not yet viewed it, compliment the cast, and observe that the flick is occasionally spiced with small, playful cgi beasties which somehow encapsulate the tone.

This is a movie in part about endless childhood and the good and bad that that implies. It is so affecting that it almost makes Broog forgive the puny and rash individuals who challenged his use of the term ‘maniple’ earlier today. He condescends to respond that the word is derived from the mercifully extinct Latin language; specifically, it combines manus and a weak form of the root ple, as in plenus meaning ‘full’, and is used ‘whimsically’, according to the human lexicographers of Oxford, who will shortly be beaten with mollags for their impudence, to mean ‘a hand’. Note carefully that Broog does not say the transgressors are forgiven; their knouting will be reduced to merely horrible levels if they bestir themselves to see The Life Aquatic.

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory

Rich, beautiful, sumptuous, with lashings of chocolate and a pleasingly twisted heart; Broog is not describing his favourite Virgoan concubine ensemble, but rather the latest expression of the human Burton’s inner child. The Sock-Wearing One has once again produced a vibrant picture, replicating the wild and occasionally unsettling world of the Dahl individual with a confident maniple. Here, at least, there is no namby-pamby concession to the imagined emotional frailties of tiny human offspring – whose mentalities in any case more resemble mutant psychotic alligators than the fluffy bunnies they are deemed to be by their doting mothers: though the tale is relatively safe, in that no actual death occurs, still there are consequences to actions and there are bad people and unfair judgements and even the most beautiful rose is possessed of a spiky armamentarium about the stem.

Broog greatly enjoyed the new Umpa Lumpas, whose jazzed-up, funked out, thrash metal morality tunes punctuate the flick. The stony-faced Deep Roy is deserving of special mention (though the cast is all together splendid in any event) as the foil to Johnny Depp’s dissociated and misanthropic Wonka, whose machinations are set against the backdrop of his childhood in the grip of a humourless, proscriptive, and lunatic parent, played most excellently by Christopher Lee. In the normal course of events, Broog would stamp with all available limbs on the head of anyone encroaching on the origin story of an enigma like Wonka, and drag the carcasses of offenders to his Chamber of Unambiguous Discomfort and Blunt Objects if they ventured a quasi-Freudian explanation of the character’s desires. In this instance, however, the storyteller so skillfully enfolds the roots of Wonka’s pleasingly Dahl-esque misery in further and more ludicrous mysteries and greater oddness that there is no sense of the magician revealing his tricks – rather, the audience is invited to scrutinise his top hat for concealed rabbits and finds instead a four-storey hotel populated entirely by Latvian mango farmers.

Thus Broog lends himself to answering your questions: yes, the movie is good. Yes, it is worthy of Dahl, and yes, it is as good as, or better than, the previous cinematic expression of the tale, and different. Is it suitable for the puling infant at your breast? Broog has no idea. That would seem to depend on the mental fortitude of the infant in question, which is a movable feast. Not that Broog would ever eat a human infant. They are too crunchy. In any case, hazards for impressionable human baby-psyches are burning puppets, mild dentistry, brief attack-squirrels, and the curious image of a suspended cow being flogged to make whipped cream. All in all, your child is more likely to be traumatised by its human school.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Fantastic Four

From your earliest pre-history, humans have used domesticated animals as a source of food and wool, and to provide the questionable pleasures of companionship which can be gleaned from a lesser life form worshipfully presenting its master with an unidentifiable yet pungent object resembling evil tofu. Given the parlous state of your sociopolitical evolution, it is unsurprising that your primitive languages yet contain references to behaviour such as ‘mudslinging’, and even less shocking that societal memories of theft and brigandage are evidenced in expressions as ‘it gets my goat’. Broog’s species long ago abandoned the need to register annoyance verbally in favour of massive escalation, torture, and fission-fusion detonations. Thus, when Broog says that something ‘gets his goat’, he does not mean that he possesses goats, nor that anyone has been ludicrously foolish enough to steal one, and the restraint evidenced by his use of the pathetic idiom in place of nuclear devices should be a matter of pious and heartfelt gratitude to you all.

Thus: this movie gets Broog’s goat. It riles him. It gets not only his goat, but also his entire collection of chamois, Kashmiris, ibexes, Angoras, Nubians, and markhor. Why? Because as with so many longjohn & cape enterprises of recent times, this movie features protagonists who whine more than they fight crime.

Broog is tired of seeing superheros as more human than the other humans. He is tired of their fallibilities and their squabbling and their unbelievable inability to come to terms with the fact that they just got lucky, luckier than almost any other individual on Earth. These heros lack scope, lack imagination, and they cavil at their good fortune and wonder what to do now.

These are people with the power of gods, and they spend their time bitching and falling off motorcycles.

Aside from which, this is an origin story. Again. These stories are rarely as interesting as the rest of a comic book’s continuity, and they are broadly speaking all the same. Broog wishes to see other worlds, other chances, new slants on old tales. He has no interest in the weakest link of most comic books - which were after all written before irony was allowed in books for children – the source of a hero’s powers. Note to Hollywood: I will believe a man can fly. Your part of the bargain is to show me why I should care.

Broog cannot prevent you from going to see another on-the-couch non-tacular. He can only warn you that the popcorn will be fundamentally more challenging than the flick.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Batman Begins

Broog’s perceptual apparatus is complex and splendid. In the visual arena alone, he perceives the world in ways you cannot imagine; in order to observe your cinematic efforts, he must shut a large number of his eyes and limit his hearing with special earmuffs, including one pair given to him by a now-deceased grandchild which resemble tiny rabbits. That Broog can wear these earmuffs without affront to his dignity is a measure of his awesomeness, and also of the speed with which he can seize and devour anyone foolish enough to make negative comment.

Nonetheless, though the expression does not do justice to the truth, Broog may assure you that the Eye Of Broog sees everything. And thus it is that Broog knows what none of you has yet realised: you have been conquered and subordinated by the most devious and terrible human alive. He has shared with you his significant personality trait, and rendered you like him.

Broog refers to the strange and powerful individual known as Woody Allen.

The wise among you will see instantly that only this can explain the flood of angst-ridden, pseudo-therapeutic, Freudian-karma-laden action flicks which now assault the senses of the moviegoing throng. Information on the childhood traumas of heroes and villains sends your critic into a profound slumber from which he emerges irritable and peckish. Broog chanced to see Sin City not long ago, and was horrified to discover not a sprawling universe of evil, lust, and murder, but a violent group therapy session in which the angels and the damned alike reveal their emotions not through action but through sub-Chandler monologuing of which the master criminal in The Incredibles would be ashamed.

We know why Bruce Wayne becomes Batman. We know that he is twisted by the death of his parents and that he walks the line between good and evil; that he strikes terror into the hearts of criminals and that he is a man become legend in order to approach an impossible goal. It is only the mountainous nature of his task and his refusal to take life which can excuse the incredible resources on which he draws and the ludicrous mismatch between him and the majority of his opponents.

We want to see him kicking bad butt in new, devious, skilful batways. We want to see him scourge the criminal population and strike fear into the heart of monsters. We want to see him strive, fall, and rise again stronger. Batman Begins should be the story of the man’s transition into myth. It is instead the story of one man’s battle against himself, his early trauma, and a lot of people with bad moustaches. Which is not why we bought the ticket.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

War of the Worlds

Broog’s people do not go to school. The experiment was briefly tried, but the fatality rate (of seven thousand students and four hundred staff, only eight individuals survived morning prayers and of these four were so severely injured that the others assumed they were items of furniture) was prohibitive. Since coming to your wretched and ungrateful world, however, Broog has learned of a concept which expresses the issue he has with War of the Worlds. While your communication is impoverished and has a signal to noise ratio so negative it should be in analysis, what it lacks in beauty and expressiveness it occasionally makes up for in pith. The term in question is ‘schoolboy error’.

It will come as no surprise to regular readers that Broog crushes your measly planet with knout and rod and pulls no punches in his search for aesthetic excellence. This is possible for him because his technological and cultural might is so unquestionable that there can be no rebellion against his rule. Any irregular readers who wish to dispute this should be advised that Broog has a special place in his heart for you, and it is the place where digestive acid and bile are mixed with radioactive gas to power the mighty pumping chamber which shunts the blood of your supreme critic around his unspeakably lovely body.

But Broog digresses.

The point is that Broog knows a thing or two about conquering Earth, and therefore has a unique perspective on Spielberg’s latest SF inactioner. Broog calls this movie an inactioner for the obvious reason that no one except the invading monsters actually does anything, Tom Cruise and his family being so rife with internal divisions and therapeutic mantras that no heroism of any appreciable sort takes place. The flick is therefore somewhat depressing whether you view it with sympathy for the thousands of exploded humans or the equally doomed invaders, whose plan of attack is so awful that it hardly bears contemplation for any length of time. This is a technological race of masterminds so consumed with the desire to conquer that they lay their plans for an invasion long before there are people on the planet – in defiance of the idea that they might just move in before someone else does the décor – and then barf themselves to death on day two. Since Broog has gone this far, he will enumerate the failings of the unseen, but hopefully eviscerated, alien general.

1. Biological screening. Broog cannot emphasise enough how important this is. If you are entering a new biosphere with an eye to ownership, have your shots. There is nothing more embarrassing than receiving the surrender of a puny civilisation whilst vomiting into a plastic bag.

2. This goes double if your attack vessels are cyborg technology. The only thing worse than the new Emperor of Planet Insignificant bringing up over the Imperial Throne is his entire fleet of battlecruisers hurling chunks into a planetary orbit.

3. There is no need, ever, to pick people up and juggle them. While it may seem like fun, this is undignified and inspires resistance.

4. There is absolutely no point in a masterplan so complex that it waits geological ages for the enemy to evolve and be defeated by it.

5. Unless you are naturally armoured and revolting, uniforms stay on until after the invasion. Naked aliens playing with bicycles are not scary.

6. ‘Similitude is Not Identity’. In other words, spraying a planet with human blood to make it red will not give it an ecosystem like Mars. Also, human blood goes brown and flaky.

7. A proper heat ray should cause the subject to burst into flames and scream, not vaporise them quickly, leaving only outer clothing and (mysteriously) no underwear. Although Broog accepts that it is statistically possible, he doubts that every human killed in the film was 'going commando'.

Broog’s technical concerns aside, the movie is long, spends a great deal of time on the interpersonal angst of a human parent with no parenting skills, and even more time underground listening to things upstairs going ‘crunch’; it visually namechecks a series of American nightmares – falling buildings, burning cities, infiltration from within, and crashing planes; and all that happens at the end is that the aliens get sick because they forgot to have their jabs.

In other words, the flick is a one act play about dysfunctional family life, with monsters.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Revenge Of The Sith

There is a scene in the mighty Stanley Donen musical Singin’ In The Rain where an early ‘talkie’ is screened before an audience and the sound breaks down. The dreadful villain of the piece enfolds the blousy heroine in a grasping clinch and the dialogue gradually reverses itself so that he is saying ‘no, no, no’, and she is saying ‘yes, yes, yes’. Broog has always enjoyed this scene, but not so much that he wanted to see it replicated between Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu and Ian McDairmid as Emperor Palpatine. The strange echo of tapshoes is not the only bizarre reflection in Revenge Of The Sith. Palpatine grows more Gollum-like with each frame, and Anakin’s open eyes and Jim Morrison hair lend him a distinct touch of Frodo Baggins. Most ghastly of all, however, is the appalling Vader Unbound sequence at the end of the picture. True afficionadoes of cinematic bunkum will recall with fondness the scene in Charlie’s Angels where Matt LeBlanc falls to his knees and cries ‘Damn you, Salazar!’ With the same fearsome emotional intensity, the Dark Lord of the Sith rises from his surgical table to shout “Nooooooo!” It is a long way indeed from the clipped and frosty Vader of the original films.

The true horror of Revenge, however, lies not in its overwhelming awfulness, but in the occasional moments of excitement, which display the potential of the franchise, so indifferently frittered away. This is the arena Lucas should have been playing in from the beginning; a young adult Anakin fraught with fear and conflict, the Republic on its knees, and betrayal everywhere. There was no need for Star Wars I: Vader In Daipers or Star Wars II: The Adolescent. Here at last is a sense of what might have been.

Unsurprising, but still disappointing, Revenge Of The Sith is a stinker. And you can say I said so.