You've heard the stories.
A movie so bad that it almost makes you cry. A movie so bad that it defies all logical reasoning. A movie so bad that you almost can't believe your senses. A movie so bad that you wonder if you actually died and went to Hell and Satan himself made you watch while his minions skinned you alive.
This is that movie.
Lindsay Lohan, channeling Elizabeth Berkeley from Showgirls, plays a young woman who dreams of herself or someone who looks exactly like her who is being tortured at the hands of a madman. But everything that happens to her double also happens to her. Including the radical removal of her right hand and her right leg below the knee. It's okay though. She gets some really badass bionic prosthetics to make up for the loss. Seriously.
She winds up in the hospital where her parents come to claim her. But she has never seen them before. They think she is their suburban perfect teen aged daughter. An aspiring writer. She thinks she's the stripper daughter of a heroin addict who died years ago. Oh, sweet agony...which one is right?
So is she crazy? Is she making it all up? Has her traumatic torture forced her to create an alter-ego to deal with the pain? Or does she have a stigmatic twin? A twin sister who experiences all the same pain and feelings that she does, and vice versa. The mind boggles.
While the mind is, um, boggling, the film is degenerating into an absolute fucking mess. The editing, the soundtrack, the unintentionally hilarious tension. I particularly liked how stripper Lindsay takes writer Lindsay's boyfriend up to her room right in front of her "mother" for a bout of kinky double amputee sex. Just to prove she's not who he thinks she is. Huh?
Oh, and they used the clever "try to borrow a condom from the FBI" ploy to sneak her out of the house. That one never gets old.
The only way I made it through this pile of crap was utter laziness and a bout of stomach flu/head cold. Maybe I was having fever related delusions. That would be a rational explanation.
I mean, they couldn't have made a movie this freaking bad. Or could they have? Hmm.
Friday, 12 December 2008
You've heard the stories.
Thursday, 4 December 2008
Hard to include a film in this blog that features two of my favorite current actors. Christian Bale and Freddy Rodriguez. But I gotta do it. This film was truly disappointing.
OK, picture this. Bale and Rodriguez are native Los Angelenos. You can buy that for Rodriguez even though he is of Puerto Rican descent and from Chicago. Bale, even though he is a great actor, is a bit harder to buy. Whenever he slips into the old "homey" and "esse" crap...nah, I don't get it. I mean, I guess that's how the white boys from the 'hood in LA talk. I wouldn't know. It just sounded weird to me.
Bale is veteran of the war in Afghanistan. He's been a part of some fucked up shit over there, and it seems he was a part of some fucked up shit over here even before he went. Everyone they run into during the film refers to him as the craziest mother-fucker that ever went down. He is trying to become a cop with the LAPD, but they are stringing him along because of his psych profile. The exact reason that the LAPD don't want him is the reason that the Feds (Homeland Security) do want him. Because he follows orders and doesn't care about the body count.
But before he can start his new job, he hangs out on the streets of LA with his buddy Rodriguez who is looking for work. They drink all day, riding around in Bale's faux police cruiser. They even roll some drug dealers and some hardened criminals while they are at it. As if there were no repercussions to worry about at all. Of course, they wind up being terribly wrong about that.
Good acting, even if Bale may have been miscast, decent storyline, hard as nails life on the streets of LA. So what went wrong with this flick?
I dunno, but something did. The characters weren't very likable. Bale was a psycho and a bully. Rodriguez was a little crazy himself, and he was weak-willed to the point of following Bale into just about any nutso situation. But I've watched plenty of films where I haven't liked the main characters and I have still enjoyed them. So it wasn't that.
The writer and director is the same guy that did Training Day, and this film had a lot of that same atmosphere. Just not as well done. Maybe because Ethan Hawke's character in that film was actually someone you could root for. Maybe.
Maybe it was just the sheer hopelessness of the situations that these characters kept getting themselves into. Maybe it was just LA. I've never been, and I've never really had an urge to go. It just seems so grimy and violent as it is portrayed on film. And I grew up a stone's throw from NYC, so I know a little about grimy and violent. I definitely do have an East Coast bias. I tend to prefer films that take place in NYC or Boston or even Chicago. Once you get past the Mississippi River, all bets are off.
But I watched this film and I kept waiting for it to deliver. I kept waiting for something that would make me go "Wow". But it never did. It wasn't an awful film. It was merely average. And sometimes a mediocre film that could have been great is worse than a bad film that never aspired to be anything other than what it is. At least you can have a good time making fun of those bad films.
This one just disappointed. And that's a shame given the pedigree of the participants.
Sunday, 9 November 2008
Well, you see...
..there was, um.
Well...the refrigerator. Yeah...um, and then the, um...
...my God! WTF with this Mutt kid?
Um, and the...
...Holy crap! What happened to Karen Allen?
Um, well...it looks...wait, what is that?
Monkeys and aliens and a wedding!!!!
What the fuck!
(PS - Honestly, I kinda didn't mind this one as much as most. It sucked, but it was better than the average episode of Heroes. But when they encountered the giant ants or Siafu in South America...well, the geek in me knew better. These ants are only found in Africa. Even the name Indy used, Siafu, was given by the Maasai. This is just plain unforgivable. - Earl)
Monday, 3 November 2008
After watching this, I honestly didn't expect to find myself on here blogging about it. I enjoyed it, y'see. It's simple, short, very direct and quite amusing. Its stars are sufficiently no-faced (Luke 'Everyman' Wilson and Kate Beckinsale) that it doesn't matter who they are; I suspect I would have loved this if it had had two no-names in it, but that's by the by - it doesn't, so let's look at what it is.
Oh, spoilers ahead.
A couple's car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. They end up at a nearby motel, where strange things start happening; banging on the door adjoining the next room, on the front door, some other weirdness. They complain to the manager, he says he's sort it, blokey goes back to their room and puts a videotape on, is shocked to see it's a rather crude film of people getting the shit kicked out of them and killed, then realises the films were all shot in the very room he's sitting in.
Then he starts to get worried. Fair enough.
What follows is the ideal introduction to the horror thriller for pre-teens – pretty Hollywood faces in a film short enough for any attention span (80 minutes including credits!), no major on-screen violence at all, and everyone good survives (except the panicky policeman, who you knew would die as soon as he appeared). It's reasonably imaginative, has a few jumps in it that are telegraphed from far away, and there's very, very little on-screen blood. It has a small cast too, which makes movies like this much more effective.
So why is it on here? Because Luke Wilson's character fucking lives, that's why. He's stabbed in the stomach, I'd say right around the liver; that's fatal pretty quickly without major surgery and hospitalisation. But no. It's very dark when he's stabbed, and yet Beckinsale, when she comes out of her hiding place after a good kip and kills all the bad men, finds him weak but alive right where he collapsed and crawled to after being stabbed.
The movie lost me right there. Stabbings are more often fatal than gunshot wounds; one in the stomach with a reasonable-sized knife, left for a few hours on the ground… Deader than shit, Luke. I suspect there's a version of this script out there where he dies, when the budget was probably $15million lower, but that's long gone. I bought into this movie, and it sold me out, and for that, dear friends, it's a MOVIEGRENADE!
Oh, kudos to Frank Whaley though - he did just fine with a very limited and concise script. Yay Frank!
Sunday, 5 October 2008
I like zombie movies.
Big fan. Especially the great George Romero zombie movies, Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. I'll leave out the original Day of the Dead (1985) and Land of the Dead because, well...they weren't very good you see.
I even liked the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead. They made some changes to the formula, especially in how the zombies moved. In the past, all zombies in films were slow, lumbering creations. But they never stopped. That's what made them scary. Dawn of the Dead changed that by making the zombies fast. Now some will argue that 28 Days Later was the innovator here, but I'm gonna get to that film in a moment. So even though they made the zombies faster, they still made them scary. That's all that matters really.
You know, now would probably be a good time to re-visit the Zombie Rules. These are my rules for what makes a good zombie flick:
- Zombies are the Undead. They are animated corpses who hunger for human flesh. What animates them? Pure evil? A virus? Electro-magnetic impulses? Who knows. But that is what a zombie is. The living dead. 28 Days Later, while a fantastic film at times, is NOT a zombie film. Those people are still alive. The virus makes them crazy and blood-thirsty, but it doesn't kill them. Eventually they die of starvation when they don't get enough to eat, but that's it. They aren't zombies.
- To kill a zombie you have to destroy their brain. Whatever it is that is animating these corpses is controlled in the brain somehow. You can chop off their arms, shoot them in the chest, or piss in their face. That's ain't gonna stop them. The only thing that is gonna stop them is a well placed bullet, arrow, crowbar or knitting needle to the brain. That's it! If they can be killed (?!?) any other way, then they ain't zombies.
- A zombie can be slow and lumbering or it can be just as fast as the body of it's previous owner. I really don't care. Just as long as they are scary and they crave human flesh. What a zombie CANNOT have is super-human strength or speed. Why would a zombie be super-strong? I've seen some zombie films in which the zombies can easily rip the head off of a human. Do you know how hard it is to rip somebody's head off? I've had some experience with this and it ain't easy. If your zombie is super-strong or super-fast, then it probably ain't a zombie.
There are others, but those are the main rules. I watched the remake, and I hesitate to call it a remake, of Day of the Dead over the weekend and it clearly broke rule #3 and came real close to breaking rule #1. I can't be sure because the film was so poorly made that it was hard to determine if the people died prior to becoming zombies. They certainly were infected with the virus while they were still alive and that is a first as far as I know in a zombie flick. And I didn't like it. No sir, not one bit.
But the film broke the shit out of rule #3. The zombies were incredibly fast and strong. One zombie was even able to crawl along the walls and the ceiling for a while. I didn't realize that gravity could be nullified with a small dose of zombie virus.
What does this all have to do with this movie? Not a lot, to be truthful. The film only barely honored the original film. There was a military conspiracy, an underground bunker and a "friendly" zombie, but that's about it. Well there was also the bad acting, bad editing and bad direction that was common to both films. That's something, I guess.
And you know, even with the bad acting and the breaking of the Zombie Rules, I could have had a lot of fun with this film. But it was just so lifeless (get it?) and non-scary that instead it was just an incredible waste of time. They could have easily made this film either fun or scary, but they just didn't bring it.
Stay away from this piece of junk. It rots. Get it?
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
A friend who smells like a wet dog recommended this one to us the other day. He didn't recommend it as in "It's so awesome, you are going to love it!" No. As in "It's so awful, you are going to love it!"
I love those kind of recommendations.
Kevin Bacon plays a father with the perfect family. Beautiful wife, great job and two sons that would make any man proud. We, the viewers, are made aware of his perfect life right from the opening credits. A montage that would make Sylvester Stallone proud highlights the ups and ups of what a great life this dude has. Oh, and if you didn't catch that then there is the first scene of the movie at his office. He's a risk manager for an insurance firm and he is reassured to read that non-smoking married men with two kids get to live the longest. He actually reads that out loud to an associate of his and then gives us an aw-shucks tip of the head to confirm that he, indeed, is that guy.
Too bad its all gonna go to Hell when his eldest son, after scoring the winning goal in a high-school hockey game (natch), is killed in an initiation ritual by the big screen's first multi-racial gang since The Warriors. White, black, Latino. This gang will accept anyone. As long as they kill a random somebody to prove they are a man. Seriously, this gang's theme song must be "It's a Small World After All". Gotta love a street gang with Utopian ideals.
Cue the bad music, sibling rivalry (did Daddy love Brendan more than Luke? The answer is "yes", by the way) and the multi-layered revenge motifs. Daddy is out to bag the baddie that killed his darling boy and the gang bangers are out to get him once he caps the kid who got his son. Vicious circle, if you ask me.
This leads to some awesome hilarity. Like the gangs ill-fated first attempt on his life. A shootout. In broad daylight. In the middle of a busy city neighborhood. My favorite part of that sequence was Kevin Bacon running through a parking garage, throwing himself on car after car to set off their alarms. In an attempt to confuse his pursuers, you see. OK...written out like that it doesn't seem very funny. But trust me, if you saw his face while he was doing it you would be laughing too. And it only gets sillier from there.
Oooh. Oooh. You know what I love in a movie? I love when they use the title of the film somewhere in the film itself. You know, like Paul Newman saying "Somebody up there likes me!" at the end of Somebody Up There Likes Me. This one has the leader of the U.N. gang tell Kevin Bacon that he has given the rest of his family a death sentence, man! Chilling, right?
Now, I normally don't give away spoilers in these reviews. But I'm gonna go against my rule this one time only to talk about the most awesome scene ever included in a revenge film. The head detective assigned to his case, after finding out that he killed the first gang banger who killed his son, visits him in the hospital where he is recovering from gunshot wounds. Oh, and dealing with the death of his wife and his second son (who is actually still alive, but he doesn't know that) at the hands of the U.N. gang.
And she's pissed at him! Really! She tells him that it ends here, right now. No more. That he has been given a second chance and he should move on. She tells him that no one wins these wars, that she will haul his ass into jail if he even thinks about continuing with his vendetta. But the point is that she is super fucking pissed at him. The guy just lost his entire fucking family (he thinks), and she is pissed at him! Yeah, I get that vigilantes are bad, but feel a little sorry for the guy. C'mon!
Anyway, you pretty much get what you expect with this piece of trash. Bad acting, bad action sequences, bad music (I mentioned that already, right?) and bad character development. What does it add up to?
An hour and fifty minutes of pure heaven, my friends. That's what it adds up to.
PS - and I didn't even mention an awesomely awful cameo from John Goodman as an underworld type crime figure...with a twist. Oops I just did.
Thursday, 28 August 2008
Some years, I guess there aren't enough good movies around to fill all the Oscar categories. Why else would this rake up five nominations?
I, like Earl (and please, that comma is essential), have only been watching good movies of late. And some average. But no shite.
Until Sunday, when I watched Munich. Okay, it's not possible to dismiss a movie with such high production values as being out and out shite, but it is, for the bulk of its audience, a failure, I would say.
Munich follows the story – not a factual one, as such, but that's too complicated for a simple man like me to get into – of what happened after the Israeli athletes were butchered at the Olympics in 1972. Israel's famous secret service (that's not the oxymoron it seems…), Mossad, decides to do something about it and pursue those it apparently knows were responsible. Fighting fire with fire, you might say.
Eric Bana, he of the single expression (with the exception of Chopper, of course, in which he was wonderful and articulate), plays the lead, and there's a good supporting cast which includes Daniel Craig and Geoffrey Rush.
It's a lovely looking film (except, as with all period movies, all the cars are absolutely immaculate, which is kind of annoying), the acting – Bana aside – is pretty good, and the story follows an event that's always fascinated me.
So what's the problem? Well, it's not thrilling enough to be a thriller. It's not engaging enough to be an effective drama. So what the hell is it? The simple answer is, about 40 minutes too long. With a more brutal editor, you could comfortably hack at least 40 minutes from this movie which adds nothing to it; in fact, I would suggest that those 40 minutes are there to make this a 'worthy' movie, with 'depth' and 'characterisation'.
But I don't buy that. Not one bit. It's flabby; some great performances in there, sure, but flabby and there's at least one character too many involved. It's indulgent – of Spielberg.
I think it's about time someone admitted this... Spielberg's lost it. Whatever he had, it's gone. Indy 4? Munich? I rank them about the same, though Munich is 'worthy' and Indy is popcorn entertainment – they both failed equally to do the basics, and so they're both Grenades. War of the Worlds, The Terminal… It's not a great list, is it?
Which reminds me, I haven't done Indy 4 on here yet... And when is Eric Bana going to add the 'l' to his surname? No, smartarse, not Eric Blana. You know what I'm saying.
Monday, 25 August 2008
Long time, no see. And really for no other reason that I've gone through an extended period in which I have only seen good movies. Not a true turkey amongst them. Oh sure some have been so-so (The Brave One), some have been mildly disappointing (The Heartbreak Kid), but none have been truly terrible.
Then I saw The Condemned over the weekend. Oh, how things change. And yet I was still hesitant to post a review here on the Grenade trashing it. Why? Lemme 'splain.
There are definitely two different Earls battling it out for supremacy in my brain. The first one likes good movies. Great direction, beautiful cinematography, inspired acting and well-written scripts. That Earl, let's call him Alpha Earl, is a fan of Kurasawa and Kubrick and the Coen Brothers and Malick and, well...the list goes on.
But there is this second Earl, let's call him Omega Earl. He is a fan of B-movies and zombie flicks and the A-Team. All Omega Earl needs is some popcorn, a shoot 'em up and a really loud television set and he is okey-dokey. Omega Earl loves his porn as well, in case anyone was wondering. Too much information? Crap!
So while Alpha Earl can clearly see what a horrible film The Condemned is, Omega Earl is happier than a pig in shit to waste 90 minutes of his life glued to the tube feasting on its glory! Bunch of guys beating the crap out of each other - check! Bad acting from the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) - check! Even worse acting from the non-wrestlers in the film - check! Wildly derivative script - Hells yeah!!! I'm pretty sure I've seen this same film about a half a dozen times now, and I'm pretty sure Alpha and Omega Earl duked it out over each version.
Omega Earl usually wins.
So if you aren't into mindless violence and cringe-worthy dialogue, give this bad boy a pass. But if you want to feed your Omega twin...
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
Who wouldn't want the ability to teleport yourself anywhere in the world? Especially this summer as gas prices are moving up and up and up past the $4 a gallon mark. And if you knew what you were doing, you could take a friend along with you for the ride. That's like an HOV lane for the teleporting crowd. Awesome!
But the downside of it is that there are these pesky Paladins around to spoil your fun. And it seems like the only reason they are doing it IS to ruin your fun. Oh, they will try to evoke religion. Only God should be able to be everywhere at once. Blah blah blah. Go cry me a fucking river, Paladin! You are just jealous of the fact that I can go tanning on the top of the Sphinx and you can't. And by the way, your argument doesn't even make sense. Even by the loosest interpretation of your statement I can't be everywhere at once. I can only be in one place at any one given time. But that's besides the point.
What is the point? Oh yeah...this movie sucks!
The long-anticipated reunion of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader and Mace Windu. Right. Samuel L. Jackson is one of my favorite actors when he picks the right role. He's just laughable when he chooses shit like this. And Hayden Christensen keeps on keeping on with the dull, lifeless acting. And why wasn't his character fat? He never walked anywhere. He would even teleport from one spot on the couch to another just to get closer to the remote control. He should have been HUGE! The film would have been much better if his character were played by Hurley from Lost.
Did this film do well at the box office? I hope not. Because if it did then there would have to be an inevitable sequel. Especially with the way that they ended it. But they, and I mean the Jumpers, definitely missed an opportunity here.
If the real problem that the Paladins have with the Jumpers is that they will all eventually use their powers for evil, that they will all eventually turn bad, why not submit yourself to strict regulation? I would offer my services in the form of quick and easy transportation for powerful executives.
You and your wife/girlfriend wanna skip away to Fiji for a quick weekend? Why spend 12 hours each way on a plane? I'll transport you instantly for the cost-effective sum of $1,000. And the Paladins could be my travel agents. Ensuring that I am only using my powers for good, or at least as an alternative for private jets. And hey...it would be good for the environment. Win win.
And no one would really care if you transported yourself into the dressing room of a Victoria Secrets fashion show every once in a while. Would they?
Friday, 13 June 2008
This one is a semi-old offering from Steven Soderbergh. After Sex, Lies, etc... but before Out of Sight. Okay?
It's also a remake of the classic film noir Criss Cross that starred Burt Lancaster and Yvonne De Carlo. I only mentioned that because I love to bring up Lily Munster any chance that I get.
Isn't Soderbergh supposed to be some kind of talented writer/director amalgam thingie? I mean, I hear his name bandied about as an auteur, but as this is the guy that did three, count 'em, three Oceans's WhateverNumberHeIsUpToNo films. Oh, and this piece of crap.
The only reason I watched it is because I always enjoy William Fichtner's work. Even in bad movies. Did I mention this was one of them? But did you see him in The Amateurs? He was funny as hell in that one. This one? Eh...standard bad guy psychopath.
It's the classic story of a bad boy who's left town, only to return as a man who has mended his ways, only to run into his ex-girlfriend, only to return to his bad boy ways. Blah blah blah blah fucking blah. It looked like Soderbergh had watched a few too many John Frankenheimer films before making this one. Lots of long takes, focused cuts of characters in the background and foreground at the same time...it just felt like a Frankenheimer film. Just a bad one.
The ending is a classic noir depressing ending where no one is to be trusted. Not even the seeminly unimportant characters that you've already forgotten about.
Trust the man on this one. You would be better off napping than watching Underneath.
Wednesday, 28 May 2008
First off, I have to say I really enjoyed this movie. It unfolded really nicely, it was engrossing and everyone in it was excellent.
So why's it on the old' GRENADE!!, I hear you ask?
Because of the fucking DVD sleeve, that's why. According to the sleeve – 20th Century Fox be damned for being so fucking lazy – it's a "heart-pounding, action-packed thriller that cuts a vicious path to the darkest heart of New York City."
If you've seen the movie, you will know that is one of the worst descriptions you could possibly apply to this movie. I would even be cautious describing it as a thriller; it's more of a drama, in my opinion. Heart pounding? Well, I didn't die because my heart stopped during the movie, so I guess that's partly correct. Heart beating would have been better. And action packed... Just plain 'no'. When I pointed this out to my lovely wife, she said "They must have used the bit where the car explodes about eight times during the trailer then".
It's just plain not.
So 20th Century Fox, and specifically whoever passed that copy for this DVD sleeve – stop being so fucking lazy, you bunch of tools.
Monday, 19 May 2008
Ah, Quentin, Quentin. Quenty. Where did it all go wrong?
I think I have the answer.
See, Tarantino has done some good stuff. Reservoir Dogs had great dialogue, even if the story was ripped off wholesale from City On Fire. Pulp Fiction was just 20 minutes away from being possibly the greatest movie of modern times; flabby editing (which should have served as a warning) stops it just short of being perfect.
Jackie Brown was a huge surprise; smart, simple, beautifully acted and low-key. Kill Bill was creative, absurdly so, and largely quite good fun.
I'll always think of From Dusk Till Dawn as being partly a Tarantino movie, largely because of the writing credit, and FDTD has exactly the same problem as Death Proof: indulgence. FDTD sets up perfectly with the robbery of the store, the entrance of the policeman... We understand the brothers, their roles, what they do, one is unhinged etc. So why spend another 50 minutes rehashing the same shite? We know they're bad. The references to sexual violence on their journey do nothing to expand the characters, and it's not even well written. It's just there for the sake of it, and so Tarantino can 'act' in the movie.
Something he is truly fucking crap at, btw.
Same problem in Death Proof; what could take 15 minutes in the hands of a decent editor and a non-indulgent dirtector takes 45 minutes. It's dull. Really, really dull. Meaningless conversations that go nowhere might be just like real life, but this isn't real life. It's a fucking movie. If I want real life dull conversations that go nowhere, I'll go to the fucking pub myself, thanks.
The movie is a supposed homage to 'Grindhouse'. I've spent my life watching movies, reading about them, and even spent a couple of years as editor of one of the biggest DVD magazines in Europe. I do know movies, honestly. But the term 'grindhouse' is a nonsense one. It means nothing, and until this movie and Planet Terror came out, I reckon no fucker on the planet outside Chez Tarantino was using the expression (for the record, the term is used to describe the kind of cinemas these movies played in, apparently, rather than the film. Still sounds like a load of old bollocks to me).
The usual term for that type of movie is exploitation; sometimes people refer to them as 'B-movies' (not exactly accurately), but there are other names. But Grindhouse? Right out of Tarantino's arse, in my opinion. Maybe it's an American thing, but... I have my doubts. If someone out there wants to prove me wrong, fine. Maybe it's a cultural thing.
Aaaaaaanyway, it's not a good homage. It's cutesy, it's clever, but it's not accurate. The kind of movies we're talking about usually had a lot of filler in. And the filler most certainly was not meaningless, shite-boring conversations. Q, if you want to emulate the genre you claim to love so much, where were the pointless shower scenes that take up to seven minutes, where was the pointless softcore lesbianism? That's the filler these movies used, hacked in by producers to bump the running time up, or simply to titillate the drive-in crowd.
I'm just saying.
Okay, the movie concerns Stuntman Mike, some bloke who was a stuntman. He's played by Kurt Russell. He targets some women, and plans to do... something with his car. Something bad, we reckon.
Well, he does it, then his attentions switch to some other women, and he plans to do it again. Only this time, he's picked on the wrong group of women. Oh yes.
It's simple, it gleefully wastes your time with a lot of pointless crap, and honestly, the whole thing could have been perfectly served up in a one-hour movie. Now, a one-hour movie on a double bill actually makes a lot of sense – some 'B's used to be 65, 70 minutes, so it's not unusual. But no, he had to put himself in it, he had to pad it out with some real shite, and he had to make it oh-so-distinctly a Tarantino movie.
Sadly, much as I was looking forward to it, this movie sucked. Best things about it were A) the Planet Terror trailer at the start and B) the fact that, to rid our minds of the suckiness of this, we watched the brilliant This Is England later that night, and it really was superb.
Thursday, 15 May 2008
Everyone I've mentioned this movie to says "Is that the one with Robert De Niro in?"
No, fuckbat – that's Taxi Driver.
Anyway, I put this on my LoveFilm list because I wanted my wife to enjoy it. Why? Because I thought I was adding the French original, not the flaccid US remake. Boy did I fuck up.
It's not that there's a lot wrong with it, it's more that even though it's a remake, it feels like it's been made completely by the numbers. It's no fun. It's got no heart. And while the original may not be the greatest movie ever, as a piece of escapism it's hard to beat; that and the fact that there's no CG special effects in it, too. All the driving stunts are real, unlike the US version.
Anyway, what's it all about? There's a police officer (Jimmy Fallon – never heard of him, and hopefully I won't be seeing him in anything again soon), and he's a shit driver. His driving gets him demoted, despite being the only witness to a robbery by some supposedly foxy chicks.
I say supposedly because personally, I've never found women built like Twiglets particularly attractive. But then load bearing is something I have to consider in potential partners.
Anyway, these 'hotties' are robbing banks and getting away. Then Jimmy Fallon sees them, and he's in a taxi because he's lost his license, and Queen Latifah is the cab driver. She's the fastest cab driver in New York, too. Which if it's anything like driving in London, means she hits 10mph if she's lucky.
The two of them work together – begrudgingly on Latifah's side – and rumble the robbers, saving the day and boring the tits off audiences everywhere.
Don't rent it, watch the French one instead. At least that movie's fun.
In a side note, I remember seeing the publicity shots for a Queen Latifah film, something she did with Steve Martin – Bringing Down The House, that was it. And one picture of her showed a stunning set of legs. I can say now, with some authority, that I don't think they were hers.
Wednesday, 14 May 2008
I think that I have officially become my father.
There was a time that I could watch a crappy piece o' popcorn like Transformers, and I would be perfectly content. Not so anymore. I tried watching it 3 times over the weekend, but I kept falling asleep after 20 minutes or so. Then I was finally able to make it all the way through to the ending and I couldn't tell the good robots from the bad robots. I was so confused. Like my Dad.
Is there really anyone out there who was nostalgic for the Transformers? I mean is there some kind of not-so secret enclave of uber-geeks who truly missed their daily dose of Optimus Prime and Megatron from when they were 10? I don't get it.
I hope they were happy with it. I hope they were happy with a robot that looked and acted a bit like Number 5 from Short Circuit messing with Air Force One. Maybe somewhere George Lucas was pissed off because the robots in this movie were funnier than the robots in his movie. They were supposed to be funny, right?
Oh, when the one robot simulated peeing on John Turturro....that was a gas! Cripes!
Michael Bay rolled out every trick in his dirty little bag for this movie. Every trick he already used in Armageddon and many others, I mean. I was most disgusted by the Mickey Mouse score that practically used rimshots for every one of Shia LaBeefsteak's jokes. I died a little bit inside with each sad occurrence.
Maybe I've just been in a bad mood, but this movie really sucked. Everything about it. And I had heard a whole bunch of decent reviews from some people whose opinion I usually trust. Now I think they may have been dropped on their heads a few times when they were infants. It's the only explanation I have for actually liking this movie.
That and the nostalgia for 80's Japanese anime robots wailing on each other.
Now if they had done a live-action version of Star Blazers....well, that would be a different story.
Saturday, 10 May 2008
I know this one seems kinda obvious for inclusion on the ole' grenade. The first film in the series was generally panned by the critics and the public, yet it made a bundle in the theaters. So they made a sequel and the term "franchise" has been bandied about. It was also panned by critics and the public while making another great big bundle o' cash at the box office. Sometimes moviegoers just want some expensive popcorn and soda, I guess. The Junior Mints are good too.
I sat through this one, believe it or not, two different times. The first time I watched it I missed the first 20 minutes or so. I'm familiar with the story of the Surfer from the comic-books so I was able to jump right into the action. And I'm not retarded. I started watching it again tonight to catch the parts I missed and Gia was enduring it with me. Turned out that she was enjoying it so I watched the rest of it with her.
Something funny happened.
I didn't hate it as much as the first time I watched it a few days ago. I think it was because Gia is a comic-book novice and she kept on asking all kinds of really cute questions. "So, he's made entirely of rock? Geesh!" Stuff like that. And she fell in love with The Thing. She likes the big guys, if ya know what I mean. ::wink::
I think what really made change my tune on the film is looking at it through her eyes. I'm pretty jaded when it comes to movies in general. I expect a lot. It's even worse for movies made from comic-books. I expect the world. But Gia took the film at face value for what it was. Brain candy, and a welcome diversion in some fairly difficult times frankly.
So while I wouldn't call this film "high art" or quality film-making...by any definition...it works on one level that might be appealing to somebody out there. It doesn't make you think very hard.
Sometimes that's as glowing a review as you want for a film.
Friday, 25 April 2008
The number of participants in the $10,000 buy-in Main Event went from 839 in 2003 to a whopping 8,773 in 2006. For a bunch of people I know, ESPN's coverage and Rounders had a lot to do with the added success. Too bad the WSOP hasn't been nearly as nice to Hollywood.
Lucky You has a lot of things going for it. It's directed and co-written by an award winning filmmaker in Curtis Hanson. It has an interesting cast with Eric Bana, Robert Duvall and Drew Barrymore. It has a ton of cameos by real poker professionals and a decent respect to the game.
What it doesn't have is an interesting story. The plot involves a young poker hotshot who is trying to raise capital for a buy-in to the Main Event at the 2003 WSOP. Along the way he has to deal with his daddy issues - his father is a 2-time champ at the Main Event - his own hubris and his failed attempts at a love life. All very Greek tragedy-ish, if you ask me.
It was just plain boring. And the message boards on the Internet are filled with poker players shouting their disdain at the film for it's portrayal of the game itself. I don't really care about that, since I don't know that much to begin with. I just want a movie that's exciting and fun filled with characters that I care about. Like Rounders.
Finally, is there a less engaging lead actor out there besides Eric Bana? I thought this guy was gonna be the shit after his big break-thru performance in Chopper. But it's been boring role after boring role after boring role for this guy since Hulk. He's better than a half-bottle of NyQuil for a good night's sleep. He needs to harden the fuck up!
Saturday, 19 April 2008
"Based on the video game"
That phrase is just about the most surefire way to know that a movie is gonna be crap. "Directed by Uwe Boll" is another phrase that comes to mind. Strange that the two tag lines usually accompany the same film. Not this one. Only the former applies, not the latter. That doesn't mean it's not gonna be bad...just not Uwe Boll bad. I mean there is no online petition to stop the director of this film, Xavier Gens, from ever working again. Let's give him a few more tries before we put him in Boll's category.
I generally enjoy Timothy Olyphant's work in film. Well, not really. But I do love saying his name aloud. Olyphant. Try it with me. OH-LEE-FAHNT. Fun, right? He replaced Vin Diesel as the titular hitman from the time that the film was first announced. While Olyphant usually can act circles around him, it may have upped the camp value if Vinsanity was around. Too bad. Now we are stuck with an incredibly boring turn by a guy who is usually known for his manic portrayals of borderline psychotics. Here he gets to work the slow burn...not his best feature.
The silliest aspect of the film, and the video game series I guess, is the appearance of all the hitmen who work for the mysterious multi-national organization that controls the world from behind the scenes. Black suits, red ties, bald heads with a bar code tattooed at the base of the skull. You would think that Interpol or airport security would be able to spot these guys a mile away. Or maybe they should wear hats. I spent a lot of time thinking about that while watching this drek. Maybe they should wear hats.
There are all kinds of plot problems with the film, but you probably already knew that because it is "based on the video game" so why bother. It's supposed to be an hour and a half of people getting shot and shit getting blown up. In that sense, it could be deemed successful. In every other sense it can be deemed to be a steaming pile of dog shit.
I did learn one thing from the film, though. Apparently, the best way to stop a hot Ukrainian whore from seducing you is to jab her in the carotid artery with a hypodermic needle filled with some kind of drug or another. I've had some experience with this, and its not as easy as it might seem to stop those bitches. Trust me.
Monday, 31 March 2008
A load of old cock. A confused, writhing mess that could have been at least an hour shorter. And this fucker runs at 2:41, including the credits – it's not so much to be enjoyed, as endured.
I can't even explain the plot; it's ridiculously complicated and full of so much flab I sat open-mouthed as I watched my life being wasted in a mess of computer-generated effects and meaningless dialogue.
There are hallucinations that mean and do nothing for the plot; are they supposed to add charm and wit? They don't.
Even the great Chow Yun-Fat is wasted in this, and that's not a sentence I type easily. It's 2:41 of absolute nonsense, start to finish. If I had seen this at the cinema, I would have been incredibly unhappy.
The first POTC was fun, and had a certain charm. The second was a soulless, but vaguely amusing romp. The third manages to wipe out any of the good the first two created and comes out looking just like a moneymaking exercise… Funny, that.
Johnny Depp was his usual fine self, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley brought a touch of, erm, woodenness to things. Geoffrey Rush is excellent, and I can't help but think he's the unsung hero of these movies. Such a superb actor, his Barbossa stand right out in this dross. The supporting cast are uniformly very good, working with such limited material really does make it obvious who's got talent and who has a pretty face and fuck-all else.
The cameo by Keith Richards is amusing-ish – until he sits and starts playing guitar, which is a bit… Stupid, I think is the word I'm looking for.
This movie made nearly $1bn worldwide; the series has made more like $2.5bn. With DVD sales and rentals on top of that, it's obviously been pretty profitable. It was marketed aggressively, and we got suckered in. My stepdaughter loved it, and she's probably the target market more than I – but Disney, it's me that buys the tickets. You have been warned.
A genuine waste of time.
Friday, 7 March 2008
'I am a twat for forking out four-and-a-half quid to see this fucking movie', more like.
This movie is shite.
First, let me say I went into it with a reasonably open mind. I am a huge fan of the book this is 'based' on, it's one of my favourites; I knew the movie had changed many, many things, so went into it thinking I would just look on it as a totally separate entity.
So I did, and it's still a load of shite. Warning – there are spoilers in this.
Even more annoyingly, the changes that were made contributed to its shiteness.
Okay, the book features one man, the last man on earth, who is surrounded by what are basically vampires. This was caused by a virus, and every night, his fortified home is plagued by his neighbours wanting a slice of Robert Neville pie. They call out to him, they play on his loneliness, they try to lure him out with sex. He's been alone for three years, and this drives him crazy night after night. The book was written in the 1950s, so no VCR or DVD for him; a record player is the best distraction he's got. That, killing vampires all day, and trying to find out why he is immune to the virus.
The movie still has a virus (though it bears more than a passing resemblance to 28 Days Later in its effects), and it still has creatures that want to feed on you. But they have no human qualities, which removes one of the most interesting dynamics out of the story. They're monsters, and poorly computer-generated ones at that. Oh, but one of them is cleverer than the rest, and tries to catch Neville in the movie. It makes for a reasonably interesting sequence, in which one of the strangest moves of the movie occurs; the dog dies.
In the book, he encounters the dog and spends a long time trying to win its trust. He never does, fully, and the dog disappears each night to sleep in its own hiding place. One day, the dog never returns. Neville is understandably heartbroken; this is the closest to a relationship he's come in the time since everyone died.
The movie sees the dog with Will Smith from the start, and he's had the dog since it's a pup. Yes, he's upset, but the work put into the relationship to earn the dog's trust is a wonderful part of the story.
I guess the dog relationship is not that important, but in the book it illustrated quite perfectly his loneliness. In the movie, he had had company since day one. Not so bad.
What else? Unforgivably, this movie – one of the most expensive ever made – is boring. It really is dull. In the hands of a better writer, this could have been great; with a better, more articulate actor in the lead role, it could have been really special. It's not. Smith does fine with what is a fucking awful script, but he's very limited as an actor in an action role. We know he can act – he was Ali, he had Happyness… but he was in Bad Boys and Bad Boys II, Wikky wikky Wild Wild West… and in the action roles, he's limited to put it politely. Some actors can do it, some can't – I'm thinking Matt Damon, Chow Yun Fat – but also, this is a movie with one man in it for almost its entirety. Not only do they have to carry the movie, they are the movie; so if the script is poor and the lead is hamstrung by that, how good can the movie be?
There are big fucking holes in it too. In the book, everyone except Neville is dead of one sort or other. In the movie, we learn that there is a one per cent survival rate – one per cent immunity. Two other people come and find Neville; one is a young boy, maybe eight years old. So if this has been kicking around for three years, how the fuck did a five-year-old kid survive something that's turned billions of people into flesh-eating monsters? Never explained.
With the island cut off – it's set in Noo Yoik – how did these folks reach it? Never explained.
My biggest gripe though, is the ending. The end of the book is… it's unique. It's where the name comes from. SPOILERS FOR THE BOOK AND MOVIE FOLLOW!
In the book, Neville has been killing vampires wherever he finds them, until one night, they overrun his house and capture him. Captured, he speaks with a sympathetic vamp (there's a good reason they get on – read the book!) and she slips him the means to kill himself, as the vampires plan a public execution of him.
Why? Well, he figures it out as he look out of his cell and sees thousands upon thousands of vampire-types waiting to see him come out and die. He's become something else; he's become the boogeyman, the name they say to their children-vampire things when they won't behave, Robert Nevill will come and take you in the night. Their roles have been reversed, he is the anomaly in this new world – and he paraphrases, "I am legend."
In the movie, cornered in his house, certain to die, Will Smith discovers he has cured the virus and can reverse everyone's sickness, and puts the girl and child into a safe in the wall where they can wait safely until morning and make their escape… with a vial of blood containing the cure. Then he chucks himself into the band of monsters with a hand grenade, killing himself and blowing the shit out of them.
Instead of the poignant "I am legend" ending, we have the two survivors in a car, reaching Vermont where they heard there was a colony of immune. They reach a walled area, the door opens, they're among humans again; and the voiceover says "blah blah blah, this is his legend."
I hated it. I tried and tried, but they lost me by boring the shit out of me, then really lost me with a character I couldn't care for, then really really lost me when the dog, one of the best canines I can remember seeing in a film, dies.
It's shite when your action sequences can only have one outcome; he's the last man alive, so he's got to survive or the film will only be 50 minutes long. Takes some of the suspense away, I can tell you.
Okay, maybe my mind was partially closed, but even so, I Am Legend is fucking shit.
Thursday, 6 March 2008
What if Halle Berry and Bruce Willis made a movie together and no one cared?
It happened just last year. Never heard of it? Me neither. So when I saw it on cable tonight I just had to watch it, if only as fodder for a post on the ole' Grenade. Berry plays a reporter who goes undercover at an advertising executive's business. She's trying to find out what happened to a friend of hers who was killed while she was secretly seeing the ad exec (Willis) behind his wife's back.
He's a chat room guy. Likes to fool around with women online before meeting them in real life. So she creates a screen name on IOL (get it?), and she starts flirting with him in what must be the worst online user interface ever created for film. C'mon...seriously? A plot about a man cheating on his wife through AOL chat rooms?
1994 called and wants it's movie back.
But there is this one scene where Berry meets up with Giovanni "creepy guy pretending to be friend who is not-so secretly obsessed with her" Ribisi and some other dude at Chumley's in NYC. Chumley's is/was this great bar in the West Village on Bedford Street. 86 Bedford Street, to be exact. Kinda hard to find if you don't know what you are looking for. It used to be speakeasy back in Prohibition days, and legend has it that certain cops would warn the bar owner prior to a raid, so the owner would tell his customers to "86 it" out the exit with the 86 Bedford Street address. Hence the term that is used by restaurant owners and many, many other folks when they run out of something, or if they want something crossed out. I say "is/was" when talking about the place because the chimney fell into the bar about a year ago and I'm not sure if this historic site is back up and running yet. Heading into the city the next two weekends so maybe I will check it out.
What's that? You wanted to know about the movie? Don't bother. The above paragraph on Chumley's is much more interesting. Well, not much more interesting. I was half-asleep when I typed it, so it couldn't have been that great.
Friday, 29 February 2008
We've been watching some movies online with our NetFlix account, and tonight I found a film I had never heard of called The Contract starring Morgan Freeman and John Cusack. Didn't even read up on the film to find out what it was about. Morgan Freeman and John Cusack was good enough for me. Man, oh man, was I wrong!
Cusack plays an ex-cop out on a camping weekend with his teen aged son. Freeman plays a stupid hitman who gets caught after trying to kill some one with his Jeep. I say "stupid" because that seems like a really stupid way to kill some one. Especially for a world class assassin. He semi-escapes and gets caught by the father/son duo in the middle of the Washington wilderness. Oh, and not to nit pick, but Freeman gets pulled out of a raging river in a sports coat completely dry. Production value and continuity have a lot to do with the overall quality of a film, dontcha think?
The first real obstacle they face is a several hundred foot cliff that they have to descend in the middle of what must be the worst rain storm ever to hit the great North West. It's fucking pouring! They do this without any rope, climbing equipment or any possible chance...but they do it. In the dark. Don't they know that Morgan Freeman is like 70 years old or something?
Lots of Keystone Cops action abounds and the criminals aren't much smarter, but a bond begins to form between captor, son and captive. Seems to happen that way in the movies. A plot to assassinate the President, maybe, soon develops, but its kept behind the scenes so you wonder what really is the whole point of the film. I guess that John Cusack needed to pay off a huge credit card bill or something to take this role. It's the only reason I could think of.
It's also a little funny to hear John Cusack argue with someone about the morality of being a hitman, when John Cusack played the coolest hitman ever in, most likely, the coolest hitman movie of all time in Grosse Pointe Blank. Yeah, I like to take an actor's past screen roles and apply them to everything else that they do. Cusack will always be Martin Blank and Freeman will always be that guy from The Electric Company. Thats the way it goes.
Oh, and a ridiculous love interest appears in the 3rd act of the film. Every crappy movie cliche appears now to be in play. Bad acting, bad production value, bad fucking movie. All in a real "made for TV" kinda way. Stay away from this P.O.S. if at all possible.
I'm wanna go rent a good movie from a good video store - Randall
Tuesday, 19 February 2008
I really don't have any thing tremendously bad to say about this film. I know that is a bit out of the ordinary for a post on this blog, but there was not much to really hate about this film. It just wasn't very good and you probably would be better off taking a nap than sitting through this bad boy for an hour and 45 minutes.
I like a no-nonsense, no-brain action flick just as much as the next retarded guy. This one seemed to fit the mold, and it was about Native Americans fighting Vikings. What could be more fun than that? Well, a nap could have been more fun. One with a highly erotic dream, perhaps.
Historical inaccuracies? Sure thing. No one really knows what occurred when the Vikings came to Vinland back in the day. Maybe they were fairly peaceful. Trading for lumber to bring back to Greenland or something. Maybe they were brutal killers as portrayed in the film. No one can really know. And they probably didn't dress like rabid fans of the Oakland Raiders, but they sure looked mean.
The fact is that this is an action film and action films need two things. A bad guy and a good guy. The film-makers, having decided that the Native Americans were going to be the good guys, found that it was a necessity to make the sea-faring Vikings the bad guys. Mission accomplished.
The only real problem that I had with the film is that for something in the action genre it was kinda boring. I worked real hard not to fall asleep during some of the more important sections of the film. That, my friends, ain't good. It did, however, look pretty good while bringing the boredom.
So, if you are in the mood for a good-looking, boring action film...here you go!
One additional note: I enjoy Clancy Brown in just about everything he does. Lots of respect for a character actor that always seem to rise above his material. Not in this one. His portrayal was the definition of one-dimensional and he usually does much better than that. Shame on you, Kurgan! And this from a guy whose first screen role was Viking Lofgren in Bad Boys. You would have thought he would have used that as inspirition for the role or something. Uh, I really don't know what I'm trying to say there. I think it's because this review is more boring than the movie was. Sigh. Move along, people. Move along.
Tuesday, 5 February 2008
Here we go into the way-back machine.
I've got some fond memories of my youth. Seeing Star Wars for the first time. Fishing for bluefish with my Dad. Watching the Yankees win the World Series in 1977. H.O.T.S. used to be of those fond memories. I just watched it again tonight for the first time in about a million years and I'm here to tell you that I must have been fucking nuts!
First off, let me state that this film has some very real personal connections for me.
- I'm fairly sure that one of the stars, Pamela Jean Bryant, was the first naked woman I ever saw. Not in person. That wouldn't happen for an excrutiatingly long time. No, I saw Ms. Bryant in all her naked glory in an issue of Playboy in early 1978. I know it is weird that I remember that naughty fact, but I remember it nonetheless. I was 11, and it was my brother's magazine. He kept them in his dresser drawer beneath some t-shirts or something. Yeah, like I wasn't going to find them.
- Another one of the stars, Lisa London, is probably more responsible for me being a breast man (rather than an ass or leg or armpit man) than any other woman in the world. Her topless scene in this movie sealed the deal. She is ridiculously endowed. In a good way.
- I actually met another one of the stars, Lindsay Bloom a few years ago. Besides being a former Miss USA and a regular on the Mike Hammer TV show, she was also the bitchy, stacked nemesis to the H.O.T.S. girls in this movie. She was hanging out at my favorite bar one Sunday afternoon getting soused. She was an obviously attractive older woman (I was about 35 at the time, so she was around 50 or so) and she was also obviously a little drunk and looking for some action. I, along with all the other horny guys at the bar, took my turn at chatting her up for a little while. She even gave me her business card. I forgot what she was doing with her life, but she was mostly done with acting. I recognized her, but I couldn't remember where I had seen her. She told me about her Mike Hammer gig, so I figured that must have been it. When I got home that evening, I checked out her IMDB page and saw she was in this. Not only in this, but naked in this. Fuck! I would have tried harder to get me some of that if I had known that she had contributed to the sick development of my puberty years. Double fuck!
So, as you can see, I've got a lot invested in this film. When we signed up to NetFlix last month, I thought it would be a good idea to rent it and watch it with Gia. You know, for a laugh.I'm sorry to report that I may have been seriously retarded as a young teenager. Not only was the titty action not very, er, titillating, but it didn't even approach the "so bad it's actually kinda funny and good" barrier. It couldn't even see that barrier over the horizon. Or over Lisa London's Grand Titons, for that matter. It was so bad that it actually gives bad a bad name. It's that bad!
If you need any more reasons not to watch this movie, I give you Danny Bonaduce. He was around 19 at the time of filming, and he plays a smarmy, disco-loving, open-shirt wearing DJ who is just a wee bit short of being as big of a douchbag as Danny Bonaduce is in real life.
It's really a shame, because I used to love these late 70's/early 80's sex farces with a passion. Uncomplicated stories. Beautiful naked women. Dick and fart jokes. That's a recipe for success for just about any red-blooded straight male of the species that I know. But not only was this poorly written, poorly acted and poorly conceived...it just wasn't funny. Not even for a retarded 12 year-old boy. I'm sorry. I have no excuse.
So much for the fond memories of youth. I wonder if Star Wars was really any good?
Tuesday, 29 January 2008
Trashing this film might not be as obvious as it seems. Sure, the third movie in a series based upon a video game has to suck. Doesn’t it? I guess so, but I still had high hopes for it. You see, I’m a pretty big fan of the first Resident Evil film. Milla Jovovich – yum! Zombies – excellent. Contorted plot involving an evil multi-national corporation, man-made bio-weapons and intricate underground bunkers with genetically engineered monsters – can’t get enough of that shit!
The second film was not nearly as good. And it seemed really, really short to me. Less than your standard 90 minutes, but still it had some creepy moments. And creepy moments are the reasons we watch zombie movies.
This last one, however, was truly awful in so many ways. Besides the fact that the filmmakers decided to rip-off one of the subplots right out of Day of the Dead (Romero’s worst Zombie film to date), they also decided to stray from the standard formula from the first film to make something else that made no sense whatsoever. At least to me it didn’t. Maybe they explained it better in the video game, but if they did then shame on the writers of this hunk o’ junk. No way a video game should make more sense than a film.
This one starts off some unknown period of time after the events of the second film. The virus has spread from Raccoon City to every corner of the Earth. Well, except maybe Alaska (unexplained ridiculous plot point Exhibit A). Not only has it decimated most of the human life on the planet, but it has also wreaked havoc on the rest of the animal and plant kingdoms (unexplained ridiculous plot point Exhibit B). The oceans have dried up and most of the world has become an arid wasteland of a desert (unexplained ridiculous plot point Exhibit C).
Alice in Zombieland is traveling on her own since escaping Raccoon City. She now has some kind of subconscious telekinetic abilities brought on by a mutation of the T-virus (unexplained ridiculous plot point Exhibit D). Oh yeah, and there are some cocky scientists in another Hive-like underground bunker who believe that Alice’s blood can be synthesized into a cure for the T-Virus. Or, it can at least it can be used to domesticate the zombies. Like pets, or slave labor. Not sure how they figured it out, but apparently Alice was genetically engineered with certain conditioning (unexplained ridiculous plot point Exhibit E), one of which is a resistance to the T-Virus. They lovingly refer to her as Project Alice. Sort of like Project Runway, but without the catty in-fighting.
Lot of other stuff goes on. There is a band of survivors traveling in a caravan across the Western States. Strictly fodder for the zombie machine. There is, yet another, mutation caused by overdosing on the antidote for the T-virus (unexplained ridiculous plot point Exhibit F). Alice’s psionic abilities become conscious to the point that she becomes like Jean Grey from the X-Men (unexplained ridiculous plot point Exhibit G). It’s all really just an excuse to have Alice act like the superhero and bust stuff up. Which is fine, but gimme a little something I can wrap my brain around. Anything. I’m easy.
You know, it's entirely possible that they really did explain all those silly plot points I so laboriously listed. Someplace in the second or third film. But is was all so vapid and boring that it could have slid right by me. Maybe I'm giving Paul (W.S.) Anderson too much credit. One of the things that I really loved and missed from the first movie were those “Through the Looking Glass” references that abounded. Maybe this one needed a little blue or red pill to make it digestible. I dunno.
“As your attorney, I advise you to take a hit out of the little brown bottle in my shaving kit. You won't need much, just a tiny taste.” – Dr. Gonzo. Truer words were never spoken, my friends.
Friday, 25 January 2008
I can see what Darren Aronofsky was trying to do. I think I can. Okay...maybe not. Maybe I'm not that smart. I think he was specifically trying to keep the meaning behind the movie as ambiguous as possible. Or not. I'm confused. See what I mean?
Could it be the the story from the past about the conquistador is a fictional tale, written by the doctor's wife? Is the story from the future about the pod-man merely a dream that the doctor is having as he tries to cope with the death of his wife? Or are all three tales happening at separate times over the millennium, while also occurring concurrently? Time, space, life, death, loss, acceptance. All these themes are explored. Endlessly.
Wednesday, 23 January 2008
My initial thought when Badgerdaddy contacted me to contribute to this blog was that he/we wanted to review movies that were bad and to save you, our loyal readers, from finding yourself in similar situations. Including 3:10 to Yuma with this lot is a bit unfair. It's not a terrible movie, but it disappoints terribly. At least it did for me.
I was truly looking forward to this one, even though it came and went in the theaters without me seeing it. That can be said for most films. But I love Westerns, and I'm a huge fan of Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. I think they are two of the most talented actors out there, and they rarely choose bad roles. I also enjoy the work of Ben Foster, a young but gifted actor whose range is pretty remarkable.
I finally had a chance to sit down and watch it the other night. I didn't hate it, but I can't say that I liked it very much either. And I'm not one of those movie geeks so in love with the original that they immediately dismiss the remake. The original was fine. Not a classic in my mind, but a good little movie based on a good little story by Elmore Leonard. One thing I particularly liked about the original is the performance of Glenn Ford in the outlaw role...the role played by Russel Crowe in the remake.
No, the original film and my feelings toward it had nothing to do with my reaction to the newer film. I have, however, been trying to figure out exactly why I didn't like it without very much success to be honest. Good story: check. Engaging performances: check. Men in chaps: woo-gah...check!
I just kinda bored me. I actually fell asleep sitting up during the second act of the film and that is never a good sign. I woke up after 15 minutes or so, cycled back to the spot where I fell asleep, got myself a soda and started up again. And I almost fell asleep again. Really not a good sign.
I never really started to care about the characters either. Bale plays a rancher injured in the Civil War who is struggling to keep his ranch and his family together. Crowe plays a charismatic leader of an outlaw gang whose enigmatic reasoning for most of his actions are hidden behind a sly smile. Neither character's actions were cookie-cutter Western stereotypes, but they weren't explained very well either. Both men are heroic in there own ways, so the traditional hero/villain dynamic is what the movie is trying to play with.
I'm guessing the real "villain" in the movie is supposed the Rail Road company. Big, bad industry moving in on the folks of a simpler place and time. Crowe and his gang are feeding off of payroll deliveries guarded by Pinkerton detectives, while Bale is trying to pay off loans on his land to avoid losing it to the same Rail Road company. Both men have issues with them, although its not quite clear what Crowe's issues are. And the Pinkerton detectives are portrayed as hard, calculating mercenaries. Killers just as soulless as Crowe and his gang, but they are on the "right side of the law" this time around. The businessman that owns the note on Bale's land and the men that work for him are also portrayed as callous men of violence. So its not quite clear who we are supposed to root for here. And Bale's actions seem completely out of character with his past, or at least that's the way that I saw it.
One small problem I had with the film is that it on the surface it seemed to be a throwback to the mythic-style of the Hollywood Western that was prevalent in John Ford's era. Except for the cussing and the violence. Ford would have had none of that. That's a pretty big change considering the way that Hollywood Westerns had been moving towards gritty realism in the wake of Unforgiven. And not a real welcome change, in my opinion. Iconic men like those portrayed by Crowe, Foster and Peter Fonda (as a Pinkerton detective) most likely never existed. I believe that iconic, mythic Westerns are fine, but don't we have enough of these already? It seems to me that true movie magic occurs when you de-construct those myths and explore a more realistic approach.
Ben Foster's character, in particular, really bothered me. He was a drop-dead shot who would kill a man just as easily as looking at him. Un-flinching loyalty to his boss was his strongest character trait. But what was the impetus behind his adoration? His "love" for Crowe has been discussed and dissected on the message boards quite enough. I, for one, didn't see anything besides platonic and/or paternal love, but some disagree. And he never missed. Except, um, when he was shooting at Christian Bale. Why the inconsistencies? Bad film-making or are we just supposed to suspend belief until the eventual cataclysmic showdown. I dunno, but it did bother me.
I guess I was most impressed with Crowe's enigmatic performance, but I can't really tell you why. It's hard to believe that a man who would willingly kill one of his own people, a friend, would leave witnesses to his atrocities or attempt to befriend those witnesses. He's definitely a complicated man, but without any explanations given I eventually found him to be even more distasteful than the men we are supposed to root against. Just what was it that he stoof for?
I'm sure some of you liked or even loved this movie. I can see why. But it just left me a little flat, and isn't that the worst feeling when you have been really looking forward to something?
Saturday, 19 January 2008
Let me start off by saying that I used to like Mike Judge. Or to rephrase, I used to like Mike Judge's work. Never met the man. I was a fan of Beavis and Butthead (I admit that to you with no shame in my heart), Office Space is one of my favorite movies of all time, and I have even laughed at the odd episode of King of the Hill even though I don't watch it regularly. I used to like Mike Judge.
However, I will never, EVER forgive him for the brain cells that I lost while watching Idiocracy this afternoon. He can burn in Hell for all I care!
The plot, such as it is, is about an Army private and a prostitute who volunteer to be frozen in hibernation for a year to test the process for future use. The private was selected for this test because he is exceedingly average (is that possible?) in every way and because he has no family. The prostitute was chosen so they could make prostitute jokes.
Something goes wrong and they wind up being frozen for 500 years. In that time period, the world has become an increasingly dumb and dumber place. This is illustrated by the hamburger food chain FuddRuckers gradually being renamed to ButtFuckers after it is all said and done. See what they did there? They brought the funny. I laughed. I cried. I hit my head against a wall.
This future is so dumb that this extraordinarily average private (played by the extraordinarily average Luke Wilson) is now the smartest man in the world. His fortunes rise and fall and rise again until he winds up as the President of the United States. Imagine that. A future in which our President is a marginal idiot. Hmmm.
The acting, writing, direction and mere existence of this film is an insult to anyone who knows how to spell the world "film". This may be the worst movie I have ever seen in my life. And before we get comments from Mr. Judge (because he's a fan) about how it is a satire and that he was trying to comment on the current state of our country, it's stance on environmental issues, violence in media and corporate sponsorship, I would like to say...ppppthhhhbbblllttttt!!!!!! With extra spit, please.
That being said, if you were planning on spending an evening hammering a nail through your scrotum or female parts then this could be a pleasant diversion.
Or not. Depends on your tolerance for pain.
Thursday, 17 January 2008
Hi gang! Sorry for the lack of posting from yours truly, but I have truly been blessed of late with not having to endure even ONE grenade-worthy movie!
Until last week.
That, my friends, is when Bandidas crossed my path.
I remember hearing about when this movie was going into production, and I honestly was excited about it.
While not a huge fan of Penélope Cruz, I have been completely ga-ga over Salma Hayek since the early 90’s, back before pretty much anyone knew who the hell she was, when she was on the hit HBO show Dream On.
And of course, once she landed her role in Desperado…. RAAAAWR!
Plus, I generally get all tight in the pants over Latin girls in general, so keeping this movie on my radar was a no-brainer, especially after I had heard that it was being co-written by Luc Besson. Are you kidding me? I REALLY wanted to see this movie….
Then I had heard that Bandidas was NOT to get a U.S. theatrical release, and was to go right to video. The first inklings that this movie could be grenade-able started to go off in my head.
And God were my suspicions correct.
In short, this movie sucks.
Half of the problem is that this movie just doesn’t know what type of film it wants to be. Some of the film wants this to be a female-buddy action movie. In this regard, it fails pretty miserably. The action is clichéd, boring, and unbelievable. We get to be treated to many scenes of Cruz making her horse do all matters of un-horselike things (get your mind out of the gutter!), and women who have no fighting experience becoming trained killers in the matter of a few minutes.
The only props I WILL give this movie, is near the end, during the final gun battle. They do this little slow-motion, Matrix-y style fight, which was actually quite well done. More scenes like this would have elevated this film off the “shit” chart, but alas, only 2 minutes of goodness in this 2 hour turd were all that’s to be had.
The OTHER half of the movie tries to be a screwball comedy, and here again, it fails miserably. These women are not funny. They are not famous because of their perfect timing, or impeccable delivery. They are famous because they are both pieces of hot Latin eye candy, and their attempts to be comediennes fall about as flat as Paris Hilton’s chest. I would wager that the director hired comedian Steve Zahn to the film, specifically to attempt to buoy the laugh quotient of the movie, but here again, nothing works. Zahn, who plays a bumbling 1800’s-version CSI forensic specialist (and the 2 girls’ love interest, if you can believe that), mostly just stumbles thru scenes trying to not look stupid. Mission NOT accomplished.
I’d say more about this film, but anything else will just be giving it more attention than it deserves. While looking at Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek in Can-Can outfits is fun for a minute or two, it can’t come close to making this movie watchable.
Monday, 14 January 2008
Don't forget, Grenadiers, that this blog is also about movies you might pick up in the DVD store and think are going to be shite, but in fact they are not. But you never pick them up because they have been badly marketed, or just... Well, look shit.
JATP is a classic example. This movie is fucking hilarious, from the boyband pastiche that opens the film (which features Seth Green and some other very recognisable young actors really taking the piss) to a quite brilliant turn by Tara Reid (yes, you read that right – she's excellent, wanna make something of it?), this movie works on multiple layers and works on every one.
First, the boyband; the DVD features their full 'videos', and there's a complete version of the spit-your-food-out funny 'Backdooor Lover' on there (it's also on the soundtrack album, Fact Fans!). Really, it's worth it for them.
Second, the cast is excellent: the aforementioned Reid, Rachel Leigh Cook, Rosario Dawson and the wonderful Alan Cummings. Oh, and of course… Parker Posey, who I would probably stalk if it were not for my Special Lady Wife distracting me. Pah.
The plot concerns an unscrupulous record company executive (Cummings) who is using boyband Du Jour to brainwash the masses into buying more and more consumer stuff with subliminal messages in their records that can only be heard by teens.
When Du Jour start asking questions, he disposes of them and finds the next big thing – signing Josie and her band, The Pussycats, without ever having heard their music. The girls eventually start to think something is very wrong – well, Josie (Cook) and bass player Valerie Brown (Dawson) do; Reid's drummer, Melody Valentine, has not got a clue about anything much, and should go down in history as one of the great cinematic airheads ("If I had a time machine, I'd want to go back and meet Snoopy").
What else is there? Cummings is wonderful, but then he usually is, and Posey is his even-more-nasty boss, but they both have agendas hidden from each other that come out in a bare-all ending.
It's a decent satire on modern marketing and consumerism, and it's genuinely well-made, sweet and every performance is above par. Oh, and even the music isn't bad – it is what it is, and it fits the movie perfectly. But get the DVD just for the first few minutes with Du Jour, and their video on the extras – it's worth the rental price just for that.
I think that I have mentioned this one before, either on my solo blog or in the comment section of someone else's site. Not gonna stop me from talking about it here, though. Because the title is too funny! I once knew a tranny prostitute from the Philippines named Mee-Shee, but that's a whole different blog entry.
Quick and easy plot description: It's about a NYC based oil company executive who has to back out of a trip to Disney World with his son to locate some missing equipment in a remote area of Canada. So he brings his some along with him, because if you can't go to Disney World you may as well opt for a remote area of Canada as a logical second choice. Kid is bored...blah blah blah...Dad ignores him...blah blah blah...kid discovers mythical Nessie-like creature living in lake...blah blah blah...father and son are reunited by their battle against the evil oil corporation, and...Oh God! Just kill me.
I can't even blame Canada for this one, even though it is supposed to be set there. I say "supposed to" because it was actually filmed in New Zealand. I don't know why I mention that fact, but it seems pertinent. Rena Owen was in it. She's a Kiwi. Maybe that's why. Not only did they change the location, but they changed the name of the creature from Ogopogo to Mee-Shee. More like Mee-Sheesh, if you ask me.
Listen, I've got nothing against "harmless mythical creature and annoying kid" films. I've got nothing for them either, but that's besides the point. I just find it hard to believe that there is an audience out there for this kind of crap. Judging by the box office and reviews for this one, most of you agree. Plus it was done better in 1995 in a film called Magic in the Water. And when I say "better", I mean not really better at all. But it had Mark Harmon, and Gia thinks I might be a little gay for him, so there.
Hey...looks like it's been remade again in The Water Horse. This time in Scotland and Loch Ness, but basically the same movie.
Did I ever tell you guys about the pond I used to live on and my magical carp friend named Wu-Tang who inspired a whole generation of rap music? Good times.
Friday, 4 January 2008
Man, oh man, I love me some comic-book movies. Not this one, but man, oh man.
Ghost Rider hearkens back to those semi-innocent days of the early 1970's. A time when Marvel already had a character that rode a surfboard (the 60's were fun too!) and the madcap wackiness that is The Punisher was merely a gun-toting twinkle in the eyes of Gerry Conway. Ah, good times my friends. Good times, indeed!
Ghostie, for the awkwardly inbred among you who are not in the know, was a dude that kinda sold his soul to the devil...well, Marvel's version of him anyway. He and his girl Roxanne then tricked the devil into reneging on the deal, but not before the devil bonded his soul with that of the demon Zarathos. That's gotta suck! Now Johnny Blaze, a stunt-performing daredevil, is also the Ghost Rider at night. Or whenever he is around evil. I forget. Something about sending the evil back to Hell for the devil. I dunno...it was always kinda stupid to me. But motorcycles and motorcycle gangs were pretty hip in 1972, so there you go. Add a leather-clad skeleton with a flaming skull and some fire and brimstone...BAM! Comic-book goldmine!
I loved this shit. Back in 1972. When I was 6. It was awesome!
How, oh how could Hollywood possibly ruin such a wonderful childhood memory like this one for me?
Well, they could hire Nicolas Cage to star in it.
Yeah, that about did it. Fuck!
Note - If someone out there found this to be a viable film adaptation (and it made a shitload of money worldwide), then I wanna know where my Brother Power the Geek film is! Seriously, click on that link. I love the comic-books that came and went in the late 60's. Pure genius!