Monday Morning Critic – 1.18

On tap this week:
— The scale of surprise
— Let’s go space-trekking
And slightly much more!

So there were two relatively big shocking stories this week: Mark McGwire admits to steroid use and Spider-Man is going to be rebooted with people replacing Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire. While the former really wasn’t a surprise, and the latter seemed likely after the tumultuous happenings that have come with the franchise since it was deemed cinema-worthy, the outrage and “shock” of it all is kind of disappointing from sports and movie media alike. And since I wanted to write on both topics this week, I’ll combine them into one glorious rant.

The thing that keeps bothering is that I’m supposed to be surprised by one, or both, of these stories. If you’ve been paying attention at any point since 1995, and can actually remember, the former shouldn’t even be an issue at this point. The latter is shocking, especially considering how successful the Raimi-helmed Spider-Man trilogy has been, but considering its history it really isn’t. With all of this going on, as well as the “shocking” fall from grace of Tiger Woods, I think we need a scale to judge how shocking something really is. Surprises in film, sports and the rest of human life really need to have a context instead of being big and bombastic all the time. It’s the one thing that bothers me about the news; genuine shocks are treated in the same way that things that are seemingly common knowledge are treated. Thus the lack of a true context is not provided; if everything is the biggest thing even happening right now, then nothing is interesting. It’s all just talking heads and loud noises. And, luckily for you (all 20 or so of the regular readers of this column who aren’t related to me or a member of the Inside Pulse staff), I’ve decided to craft a scale so we can classify things by how shocked they really are.

Call it Kubryk’s Scale of Pop Culture and Sports Shock. It goes 1-10, smallest shock to the biggest.

1. No shock at all

This is common, public knowledge that is just being acknowledged as the truth as opposed to any sort of true, unknown revelation. This level of shock is a shock for that one guy who is the true believer and didn’t want to acknowledge what was clearly obvious, but everyone else knows it’s true. Really it ought to be called the “Liberace Memorial Category” because his sexuality was not even in dispute. When it came out he was a homosexual it wasn’t people en masse going “Really?” like they did with the guy from the boy band. It was more like “And?”

McGwire’s steroid use comes here, too. The guy went from being a big human being to a massive human being, was always hurt and did have the whole “Andro” controversy. So it’s not like we were supposed to be surprised, but come on. It should’ve been an “oh well” moment.

2. A little bit surprised, but not really

Ok, this is being surprised slightly but it was foreshadowed so much that you see it coming a mile away. Like any Japanese horror flick, for example, nine out of ten times has a twist that is supposed to be all surprising but really isn’t. Japanese horror film makers, when utilizing the twist endings, usually just ape ‘70s and ‘80s American horror films like Prom Night and Sorority Row.

3. Slight surprise if you haven’t done your homework

Spider-Man falls into this category because every single movie has been a production nightmare, and the franchise took forever to get off the ground to begin with. If you hadn’t been paying attention, or are not a hardcore film fan, you’d probably go “oh wow, new Spider-man” when the news broke. But if you’ve been paying attention, no surprise.

4. Surprise for the sake of surprise

Any M. Night Shamylan movie ending falls here, which is a twist just to shake things up (no matter if it makes sense to the story or not).

5. Necessary, but still unexpected

A shock can be necessary for anything, from pop culture to film, but sometimes it does come out of nowhere.

6. Surprises everyone but those truly in the know

Unless you’re really in the know in certain things, it’s really a surprise when something unexpected comes out. It was like when McCain nominated Sarah Palin for his vice president; if you were in the know, a political insider, you saw it coming. If you were a schlub like the rest of us it was “Holy crap, who is she?” followed by “Nice ass.”

Same with Clint Eastwood not being nominated in any aspect for Gran Torino; it was perhaps the biggest shock of last year’s award season that Gran Torino was shutout to anyone but the people in the Academy.

7. The “they just went there, didn’t they” shock

This is the level of shock that you can’t believe it’s happening, like Kanye West ranting about how George W Bush hated black people during the Katrina telethon. One of those jaw-dropping moments that you’ll remember and that will get made fun of, but won’t be a “where were you when” king of moments.

Like when Chapelle’s Show was on, it was a massive shock when he spoofed R. Kelly with a video about pissing on someone’s face or something.

8. Never thought it could happen but it just did

This is one of those where you think “yeah, it’s possible” and then kind of laugh because there’s no way in hell it’ll happen. And then it happens. It was like watching the Giants defeat the Cheatriots in the Super Bowl during the undefeated season. Going in you thought “yeah, it’s possible” and noticed that the Giants played them tough in Week 17. HOWEVER, you look at everything else and go “no chance” and pencil in Tom Brady to hoist another Lombardi Trophy. And then a backup receiver who made his last catch of his career in that game, off his helmet no less, makes the play of a lifetime. And then the clock goes to zero and Eli Manning is now a Super Bowl winning quarterback. And you’re shocked.

It’s like Sean Penn becoming the preeminent actor of his generation. Go back 20 years you go “yeah he’s talented, but dude’s married to Madonna” and kind of dismiss him. Fast forward and he’s two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn.

9. The Joe Namath Memorial Category

Unexpected result, unexpected time. Like Joe Namath trying to make out with Susie Kolber, hence the title.

10. “Beyonce’s got a dick” shocked

The highest level of shock possible, only achieved if “hottest woman alive” Beyonce Knowles reveals on national television that she has a massive penis, pulls it out and shows everyone and then proceeds to beat Katie Couric to death with it.

Nothing would top that, but then again thoughts like these kept me out of the good colleges.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge


This Week’s DVD – Star Trek

Based off the hit television show(s) and films of the same name, Star Trek has a simple premise. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine in a role made famous by William Shatner) heads up the Starship Enterprise on a simple mission: explore the galaxy. But when the timeline is interfered with by a pissed off Romulan (Eric Bana), and events are radically changed, we’re left with a younger crew that has yet to establish themselves.

Star Trek gave me mixed emotions both times I saw it this summer. On the one hand, I really enjoyed the adventure aspect of it. The film is a reboot of the franchise in much more an action franchise then a sci-fi franchise as had been established in several different television shows and films. So a third viewing, this time on DVD, gave me perhaps the most solid opinion.

It’s a great opening gambit to a new franchise and wasn’t set up as the first act of a trilogy, which is a nice refresher. If no other films in the franchise are made, and that’s highly unlikely, the film can stand alone as a great addition to the canon that is the Trek

Strong recommendation.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Extraordinary Measures – Brendan Frasier has a kid who is dying. Harrison Ford can cure him, but needs money.

Skip it – Apparently after raping the memory of Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford is now opting to try something else. Give him a fedora, a good script, his whip and some Nazis to beat up and we’re back to gold.

The Tooth Fairy – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a hockey player who becomes the Tooth Fairy. Yeah, you read that right.

Kill yourself instead – No explanation needed.

Legion – Apparently GOD IS PISSED and is sending Angels to wipe out humanity. It’s up to Paul Bettany and an oddball crew to protect the woman carrying the new Messiah.

See it – On the “out there” scale this film is near the edge, which means it’ll be a disaster of epic proportions or awesome incarnate. Either way, a fun watch.

Do you have questions about movies, life, love, or Branigan’s Law? Shoot me an e-mail at and you could be featured in the next “Monday Morning Critic.” Include your name and hometown to improve your odds.

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