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Top 10 Movie Scars

Scars are a movie shorthand. Bad guys often have visible scars, gruesomely healed. Austin Powers’ Dr. Evil has a huge scar, from the corner of his right eye down to his jaw. Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street is extensively scarred. Staff Sergeant Bob Barnes in Platoon has a face meant to tell you how crazy he is, right from the start. Most but not all of the scars on this list are found on villains, but in real life scars can criss-cross the bodies of all kinds of people, even, occasionally, good ones. Scars are portraits of courage and bravery, reminders of stupid decisions, the markers of time and change. My left arm was left completely scarred after a car accident; oddly, it is NOT the arm covered in ink (okay, it’s partially covered in ink). They make me a little sad, but also a lot grateful: scars mean you’re still alive.

tumblr_inline_nt3aoaZFge1tpfg2f_500.gifThe Joker: I suppose there are probably dozens of back stories as to how The Joker got his scars, but I love how Chris Nolan approaches them in The Dark Knight. The Joker himself tells several vastly different tales involving their provenance, which reveals nothing about their true nature, but tonnes about his sanity. The way he accents the scars with makeup makes us think he’s proud of them. He wants them to be noticed. Perhaps he wants us to believe they’re self-inflicted. Perhaps they are.

Tony Montana: It’s inevitable that a character nicknamed  ‘Scarface’ will make this list. tonyTony is blase about his scar, laughing it off, attributing it to his youth but never getting specific. It’s obviously a reminder of the past he left behind, and it’s a focal point to his enemies, something that makes him look scary and intimidating, perhaps warning them that he’s capable of violence. But in true Tony spirit, he addresses his scar only thusly: “You should see the other kid; you can’t recognize him.” I bet that’s true.

20110713_scars-1-harrypotter.nocrop.w375.h670Harry Potter: Harry got his distinctive lightning-bolt scar in a failed murder attempt, when Lord Voldemort put a killing curse on him (his mother’s sacrifice saved him from death, but he would bear the mark of the attack). The scar is legendary among the magic set, and it tingles whenever the Dark Lord is near. It wasn’t just a warning system, but a link to what Voldemort was thinking and feeling – actually a small piece of his soul, yearning to escape. Which is pretty crazy.

Edward Scissorhands: Edward’s face (and not just his face) is covered with fine scars, 350191the obvious result of learning the hard way how to live with scissors for hands. They aren’t terrible to look at, and actually give him a sympathetic look, reminding us of his hardships. Since the movie skewers conformity, Edward’s scars are just another thing that set him apart.

Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson: Randy shows stripper Cassidy some of the many scars he’s accumulated over his years in the ring as ‘The Ram’ in The Wrestler. His broken body is a good indication of his mental state as well, beat down and tired. “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” Marissa Tomei quotes from the Old Testament. But his worst scar is yet to come: he undergoes bypass surgery on his heart, leaving the tell-tale scar down his chest, a constant reminder that his heart can no longer take the stress of his career. He’s forced into retirement, but can’t quite commit to it.

90f7a43a2555ef092a3825e3a5574878Marv: Sin City’s Marv puts Mickey Rourke on this list twice, ironic considering his own not-insignificant scars. In the 1990s he took up boxing, and had to have lots of reconstructive surgery as a result – two broken noses, a smashed cheekbone – but admittedly went to the wrong doctor to put things right. Finally, after massive amounts of plastic surgery, he’s starting to look good again. Regardless, in Sin City, Rourke’s face in prosthetic scars. Marv is supposed to be too “ugly” to attract the opposite sex, which is why his relationship with Nancy is so pure and good, and highly cherished by him.

Scar: In Lion King, Mustafa’s brother is marked for evil by eye-skimming scar that leaves him disfigured. The movie doesn’t tell us how he got it, but we do kn1000px-Gill-FindingNemo3Dow he’s defined by it, bearing its nickname.

Gill: Gill has terrible scarring to his face and fins after an escape attempt left him badly
wounded by dental tools. Voiced by Willem Dafoe, Finding Nemo’s Gill seems dark and brooding because of his scars, but we come to understand that they’re a symbol of his fight for freedom, and what the fish are willing to risk in order to be free.

tumblr_mlg4d5SRte1s3oe2qo1_250.gifInigo Montoya: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” A mysterious man with 6 fingers attacked Inigo’s father, and presumably Inigo’s scar is from that same fight. His greatest wish is to avenge his father’s death, and he spends much of The Princess Bride pursuing the man who left so many scars in his wake.

Darth Vader: Vader’s scars represent his turn from annoying emo brat to pure evil. As main-qimg-b22185b5f56500fa08f9e8b3a426e005-c.jpgthe ghost of Obi-Wan tells Luke: “When your father clawed his way out of that fiery pool, the change had been burned into him forever – he was Darth Vader, without a trace of Anakin Skywalker. Irredeemably dark. Scarred.” Those scars are kept underneath a menacing helmet for much of the series, but when that helmet comes off, oof: impact.






Blade Runner

Jay provides an excellent litmus test anytime I’m unable to separate nostalgia from quality.  It happened with Star Wars, it happened with Indiana Jones, and it has now happened with Blade Runner.  As I write this, it occurs to me that Jay may just hate Harrison Ford, but let’s leave that aside for now.

Yes, because Blade Runner 2049 is on the horizon, I was able to convince Jay to watch Blade Runner with me earlier this week.  Anytime I can get Jay to watch what I will call nerd-fi, a category that includes most movies I saw in the 80s and 90s, it feels like a major brunner4victory.  But only until the movie starts, because so far, about 5 minutes into each movie I proudly show to Jay, she wonders why I bothered to beg her to watch this one, asking things like, “Do you remember it being this bad?” when the flying cars first come into view.

Maddeningly, I can’t even argue against her assessments.  In 2017, Blade Runner is not a great movie.  It’s not really even a good movie.  It’s a movie with vision, it’s beautiful to look at (though the flying cars do look as horrible as Jay pointed out), it brought dystopian futures and particularly Philip K. Dick to mainstream cinema, and it has an ambiguous ending that becomes even more so with every new cut issued by Ridley Scott.  But it’s also a movie with cornball acting, disposable characters that we are barely introduced to, and a ton of sequences that are beautiful but: (a) extremely repetitive (how many times do we need to see a car fly by a Coke billboard or the offworld blimp ad);  (b) essentially silent (like Ford’s visit to a food cart/open air diner); and (c) do nothing to advance the plot (which, let’s be honest, is probably about 35 minutes worth of movie without being padded by all the beautiful shots of futuristic Los Angeles).

brunnerStill, there is something to be said about Blade Runner and something reassuring about its continued relevance.  A big reason that the movie feels thin today is because it has been so influential.  We’ve seen so many films build on what Blade Runner started, and in comparison, Blade Runner is like a wheel made out of stone.  In that way, it’s important but if choosing between the original or the best that the genre has to offer today, the modern film is going to be the better one.  But there is still room in my heart for the rickety original, the one that was ahead of its time (and ahead of ours, as Blade Runner is set in the “distant” future of 2019).

And in some distant future of our own, maybe I will find a movie that I feel nostalgic for that also stands up to Jay’s critical eye.  Your suggestions are welcome!

Bringing Movies to Life in a Whole New Way

vrAs you will have seen on Twitter (@assholemovies), I got a PlayStation Pro and Virtual Reality headset for Christmas.  Jay picked it up after I said it sounded neat but I wasn’t sure I wanted to wear a helmet to play games.  As usual, she made the right choice.  It is the greatest thing ever!  Being able to look around inside the game is amazingly immersive and I can’t get enough of it.

Currently, my gaming options include a couple of movie-themed options, namely Batman: Arkham VR and Star Wars Battlefront’s Rogue One: X-Wing VR mission.  As well, I have a few unofficial options that feel like movies you’ve already seen, like London Heist (reminiscent of every Bbatman-arkham-vrritish gangster movie) and Ocean Descent (reminiscent of every shark attack movie), both of which are included on the PlayStation VR Worlds disc.

So far, Batman: Arkham VR is the one that sucked me in the most, to the point that I punched the ceiling trying to fire my grappling hook at the Batwing.  It felt like I was right in the middle of everything, and I am amazed at how well everything links together, so that when I move, the game responds accordingly.  The motion controllers make a huge difference in that regard, as then my hand movements are displayed right in the game.  Bonus points for letting me put on Batman’s mask myself and then look in a mirror.  That was amazing, and the overall VR experience was so fun that even the inclusion of Batman’s alley origin felt fresh.xwing-vr2

There’s no shame in placing second to a game that lets you step into Batman’s shoes, and flying an X-Wing was a ton of fun.  It was especially great to be able to look left and right and see the laser cannons right there on the wings, and then to move them into attack position with the press of a button so I could take out a few cannons on a nearby Star Destroyer.

Even smoking a virtual cigar in a seedy pub was a memorable experience, especially because the game seems to know when you’re exhaling.  VR is finally here and it’s wonderful.  I’m super excited for Star Trek: Bridge Crew and can’t wait to see what other movie scenes I’ll get to experience from a first-person view in 2017 .

What movies would you like to be able to play through virtually?


Rogue One

k-2so-in-star-wars-rogue-oneRogue One is the movie the prequels should have been. It is fresh, entertaining, and necessary. Rogue One’s humour works for adults as well as five year olds (though any self-aware Star Wars fan must acknowledge that the gap there for us is not all that wide). Rogue One links to what we’ve seen before in a way that feels natural and rewards fans who are familiar with every scene of the original trilogy, and leads into the known end point of A New Hope without any trouble whatsoever.

Rogue One is also a movie that could never have been made under George Lucas’ watch. I do not even want to imagine how he would have approached this story, but tonally Rogue One is entirely different than all the movies that have come before, and better for it. This is not a classic adventure serial, it is a war movie with high stakes, and we quickly realize that the stakes are appropriately high considering the evil dictatorship that runs the galaxy is constructing a superweapon to crush its opponents once and for all.rogue-one-cast-photo-d23-1536x864-521514304075-1

At the same time, Rogue One gives us the funniest character of any Star Wars movie. Fittingly, it’s a robot. But where R2-D2 and BB-8 were funny in a sweet, childlike way, K2-SO is funny because he is an asshole. It’s fantastic and he is absolutely one of the best parts of this movie.

Felicity Jones is great as well as the leader of the motley crew trying to save the galaxy. Her team (and the movie as a whole) is refreshingly diverse. Though this welcome injection of diversity is, on a meta-level, unintentionally remiciscent of South Park’s Operation Human Shield, since the multi-ethnic team is the one on the suicide mission while the all-white crew from A New Hope is (or soon will be) galavanting around in the fastest, most indestructible ship in the galaxy.

Rogue One has some cheesy parts that took me out of the flow a bit, but Jay rightly pointed out that I should expect nothing different from a Star Wars film. The end result is a movie that orson-krennic_4c6477e2occasionally feels like an awkward mix of serious war movie and hopeful space odyssey, but only rarely did I have that feeling. It definitely did not ruin the movie for me and that Star Wars feel is an overwhelming positive overall (especially an amazing Darth Vader scene during the climax that shows us the power we always knew he had).

My only other complaint is the use of CG to add a few familiar faces to the film. I found it distracting and yet I also thought it was kind of a nice tribute to one of the great characters from A New Hope. Maybe we’re just not quite there on the FX front but we are incredibly close.

This is a worthy addition to the Star Wars universe. If you’re at all a fan you should see it, but if you’re at all a fan you probably already have! Rogue One gets a score of eight May the Force be With Yous out of ten.



Star Wars: The Force Awakens (An Extremely Non-Spoilerrific Review)

Sean’s from the 70s.  Jay is an 80s chick. Sean is kind of a nerd.  Jay, not so much.  Sean saw Star Wars: A New Hope (though he still just calls it, “Star Wars”) at least 20 times before his eighth birthday.  Jay had never seen any Star Wars movie until this past weekend.  So what did they think of Star Wars: The Force Awakens?

Sean: As a kid, I always loved Star Wars.  I’m at the younger end of the Star Wars generation since I never knew a world without it.  Too young to see the first two in theatres, I caught up by Return of the Jedi thanks to the miracle of VCRs and HBO showing Star Wars around the clock in 1983 (and I kept watching it over and over every chance I got).  Star Wars felt like it belonged to me since it was happening just as I was growing up and learning what movies were.  And because of my age I was still young enough to not be at all cynical about product placement or Ewoks by the time Return of the Jedi rolled around.  To my seven year old self, it was all positive that Return of the Jedi served firstly as a mechanism to manufacture more toys and second as a conclusion to my favourite movie series.

luke skywalker return of the jedi

My two favourites: Luke in his Jedi robe (though I kept losing the lightsaber)…

leia return of the jedi

…and Leia as a bounty hunter (though I always was looking for that goddamn helmet too)!

The only negative was that I had to convince my parents to buy all those action figures and vehicles, but fortunately I was a very spoiled kid so I got more than my share (but sadly, not the amazing Imperial Shuttle, though I’m over the disappointment, I swear).  It helped that I was willing to do pretty much anything to “earn” more toys, whether it was mowing the lawn or painting the deck or saving my proofs of purchase from other toys so I could send away for the Emperor!

The prequels were a whole other matter.  I was so disappointed to see how boring Darth Vader’s backstory was on screen, as opposed to how awesome it had been in my head, having patched it together through whatever references were offered by the original trilogy.  And I don’t think it was the 16 year gap in between, since even in university I was perfectly happy to watch the original trilogy over and over (and I wasn’t alone, my roommates and I would often spend Saturday afternoons watching all three back-to-back-to-back).   Anyway, even though I was still am mad about the prequels’ wasted potential, I watched all three, even seeing the last one in theatres.

Which leads us to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Having really enjoyed J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot, and since chronologically we could sort of forget the prequels ever happened, I have had high hopes for The Force Awakens ever since it was announced.  And Jay was nice enough to track down tickets even though she could not have been less excited to see it.

Jay: The only exposure I’ve had to Star Wars was a set of sheets I inherited from my cousin Tim, who’s a decade or more older than I am.

The infamous Star Wars sheets. I also had a flannel blanket but we buried my dead dog in it.

The infamous Star Wars sheets. I also had a flannel blanket but we buried my dead dog in it.

I guess he grew out of his single bed so I got his sheets, and spent a good deal of my youth sleeping with Harrison Ford. Plus, I exist in the world. I haven’t seen the movies, but I’ve seen plenty of stuff that references them, so I almost didn’t have to. I can never remember if C-3PO is the big gold robot or the little blue and white one, but I know it’s a robot. It’s just that the Star Wars universe never appealed to me. Science fiction will always have to work harder to convince me, and so will movies with talking animals, green aliens, and make-believe weapons.

So no, I hadn’t seen Star Wars, and I really didn’t care to. My life felt perfectly complete without it, and to be honest, I think 2015 is already way too inundated with movies that are meant for young boys but consumed by grown men (I’m looking at you, Marvel). But I could see that this movie meant something to Sean. It was a revival of his childhood, a tribute to his youthful imagination, and a chance for the franchise’s redemption after the last trilogy sullied things up. Kevin Smith said he cried when he visited the set of the Millennium Falcon because it reminded him of that feeling he’d had for it as a child. And how many times do we really get to recapture those magical feelings once we’re grown up? Not too damn many. It did nothing for me, I wasn’t even curious about it, but I resolved to be by Sean’s side when the portal to his boyhood opened up on the big screen before him.

And you know what? I didn’t hate it. I was enchanted by John Boyega’s Finn and the arc of his character. I had fun slotting together the puzzle pieces of Star Wars trivia I’ve picked up over the years (mostly from The Simpsons, I think) and seeing how they translated 30 years later. I was charmed by Harrison Ford’s rapport with the furry beast Chewbacca. And I felt the momentum of the piece really drove me forward and kept .facebook_1450656563309me interested despite the fact that I was jumping in blind for movie #7. So I was feeling pretty juiced about it, squeezed Sean’s hand during all the parts I thought he must be loving, and had plenty of follow up questions for our car ride home. But you know what? When the credits rolled and I looked over at Sean expecting to see rapture, he shrugged his shoulders. It was okay, he thought, but not great. Not even as good as Creed – not even as good as “The Avengers” he said – “Wait- there was an Avengers movie this year, right?” He couldn’t even remember if there was an Avengers movie this year, but if there was, it was better than this.

Ladies and gentlemen: Sean’s lacklustre response FUCKING BROKE MY HEART. Here I had drummed it up as this Big Fucking Deal and it’s not even going to crack his top ten this year.

Sean: I had no idea Jay was so invested in this, for my sake.   And she’s invested in everything I’m interested in, she’s amazing like that.  I liked Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  My complaints about it are minor and spoilery so I won’t get into them here, but it’s a solid movie and objectively I would rank it third out of the Star Wars movies, behind A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back (yes, ahead of Return of the Jedi as a standalone movie).  That seemed like a ringing endorsement but Jay was expecting more and after reading her thoughts above, I understand why.

let's blow this thing and go home

“You’re all clear, kid. Now let’s blow this thing and go home.” BEST. SCENE. EVER.

This should have been my thing, it should have taken me back to my childhood, it should have sucked me in and made me talk about it for days, and it didn’t.  As a gateway/jumping on point for the next generation of fans/consumers, The Force Awakens works really well.  As fan service, it ticks all the boxes and I don’t think that anyone who anticipated like I did will leave the theatre disappointed, exactly.  But you know what?   This all felt like something I’ve seen before (twice) and I’ve seen it BETTER before (twice).  I’m not trying to be a contrarian asshole (just a regular asshole) when I say that if J.J. Abrams was shooting for greatness, he missed the mark here.  Paying tribute to the feelings I had as a kid is not enough to give me those feelings all over again.  And if you pay tribute by imitating something beloved, the fact the script includes ironic acknowledgements of the imitation does not help make the imitation great.  It only tells me that the imitation was a conscious decision and you went this way rather than coming up with something new.  That’s not reassuring to me in any way and it didn’t invoke nostalgia within your movie.  It just made me wish I was watching the original trilogy and that took me completely out of what was happening on-screen in yours.

second death star explodes

Not quite as epic but still awesome, and the afterparty made it a classic (original footage of the afterparty not found and there will be no Hayden Christensen cameo here).

Maybe it wouldn’t have been enough for The Force Awakens to take a new path.  Maybe my expectations were too high.  Because again, The Force Awakens is a good movie and I enjoyed the ride, but I couldn’t truly love it when it felt so much like a remake.  To quote Jimmy Johnson for the first (and hopefully last) time in my life, “Do you want to be safe and good, or do you want to take a chance and be great?”  The Force Awakens is safe and good, but it’s not the great movie I was hoping for, and that’s why I can’t put it in my top ten for the year.

I give Star Wars: The Force Awakens a score of seven Kessel Runs out of ten.  Seeing that score is as painful for me, Jay, as it is for you.

Jay: What the fuck’s a Kessel Run?

Sean: Oh Jay, we absolutely have to watch the original trilogy.  Something tells me I still hold all those magical feelings from my youth, but the path to them is through the greatness of Episodes IV, V and VI rather than trying to recapture those feelings through something “new”.  There will always be room for new Star Wars stories, but for me I don’t think the originals will ever be topped.

Jay: I think you of all people should be a little more open-minded about sequels. You are, after all, husband #2, and you’d better hope I don’t court warm fuzzy feelings toward “the husband of my youth.”




Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I’m late to the party but the trailers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens have been so good. I cannot wait to see this movie but I will not be paying hundreds of dollars for an opening night ticket (at least, that is what I keep trying to convince myself).  Be strong, Sean!

Since watching the official full length trailers and then the slightly-different-but-really-almost-identical TV spots, I have seen a ton of speculation about who’s who and who’s related to who and I don’t know what else.  Thankfully these trailers have no answers.  I like that I have no real idea what is going on.  Too many trailers nowadays are just a shortened version of the movie, spoiling everything.  I’m glad that for The Force Awakens, Disney seems to have actively avoided spoilers to the point of everything being mysterious.  It’s good.  It’s also clearly driving fanboys insane, which only adds to my satisfaction – is that terrible of me?

I’m an original trilogy guy.  I hated the prequels.  Jay says that’s because I wasn’t six years old when they came out and she’s right.  Despite me being even farther from the age of six than I was in 1999, this trailer captures my imagination again and reminds me .  I really like the old school ships and the design of the robots (especially the little R2-D2-like orange ball).   I’m so relieved to see the blocky X-Wings and the busted-up Millennium
Falcon instead of the way-too-slick prequel ships.  I especially liked the speeder rolling by the crashed Star Destroyer.  What a great image.

And best of all, the trailer makes me want to watch the movie!  I need to find out what has happened.  I need to see why Han Solo has to explain that the old stories are all true when really, it hasn’t been THAT long, has it?  And why is Leia crying?  And who is that creepy Vader-like guy with the crazy lightsaber?  But I guess I’m old enough that I can manage to wait.  Especially with so many other movies to watch before then!