Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Resident Evil: Extinction

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

The Fountain

My God, I don't even know where to begin to trash this film. And this is the second film in a row that I've trashed that was fairly well reviewed. At least by the panderers on IMDB. Fuck them!

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?

The plot, such as it is, revolves around a doctor trying to cure his wife's cancer and save her life. But it's not that simple, because we also have the story of a Spanish conquistador trying to save the life of his queen. Oh, and a space traveler in the future heading to a dying star in an eco-bubble with the Tree of Life who is trying to come to terms with joining his dead wife in eternity. And all three stories have the same two main protagonists, played by Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz.

The story bops back and forth over the thousand years that span the three tales. Back and forth. For an eternity. At least it seemed that way.

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.

Wow. I think I just bored myself by typing all that.

That's mainly what the film was. An exercise in boredom. An exercise in boredom filmed inside a trippy, psychedelic petri dish.

I don't know how many times they showed the same scene of the doctor's wife asking him to come out and play in the first snow fall of the year. Each time it led someplace else, but damn did it become boring after the first 3 times. I'm finally agreeing with Slyde on this one. Time travel movies suck!

And I'm still not sold on the ending. All I know is that I was glad when the credits started.

One thing that made me happy was that Aronofsky dropped out of directing Watchmen, a movie that I am really excited about. I can't even begin to imagine where he would have taken us on that journey. At least Zack Snyder has shown an affinity for translating graphic novels to the big screen. I've only seen one Aronofsky film. This one. And it was an un-watchable piece of drek.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

3:10 to Yuma

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

Josie and the Pussycats

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.

Mee-Shee: The Water Giant

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

Ghost Rider

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!