Friday, 30 October 2009

Friday the 13th (2009)

Is it really a surprise to discover that this movie blows donkeys? Probably not. But I watched it anyway, to save you some time which, come the end of your days, you will thank me for.

A few years ago, I was editing a DVD magazine, and my dep ed was a few years younger than me. The original Friday the 13th came in for review, and I asked if he'd seen it, and was surprised when he said no. I asked him to take it home and give it a try, and he did.

The next day, he came into the office and said he now disliked Scream instensely, as he could now see the virtues of good horror, and Scream had... Ruined the magic, I guess. Like the magician that explains his trick from start to finish to kill the illusion. He was impressed with the set-ups, the editing (which is positively spanking), everything about it. Let's face it, the first Friday the 13th is just a good movie.

Hell, even some of the later incarnations were fun. Remember Friday the 13th Part II, where Jason was actually flawed and made mistakes, and wasn't some stupid-arsed killing machine? That was a fun movie too. Part 3 in 3D, then let's skip a few... Oooh, Jason Takes Manhattan is absolutely fucking hilarious, and of course Jason X is pretty damn good fun too, if a bit too self-effacing to work as a genuine horror movie.

But this piece of shit? I can't even remember how it ended, two days later. I can't remember the story, I can't even remember what Jason looks like in it. I really can't think of why it even got made, because it's complete and utter bumholes from start to finish.

Hang on, let me think. Some kids go out to Camp Crystal Lake, and they get killed. That's the first five minutes. Then they're dead.

Some other kids go out to CCL, and they get offed one by one too. One of them meets a bloke who's looking for his missing sister, who was in the first lot that got killed. Oh, did I mention that for no good reason, she is still alive in Jason's fucking huge underground lair? She is.

Erm... They find her, someone escapes, Jason gets a bit beaten up and stuff, and then the credits came and I was much happier because the nightmare had ended.

Even the effects were shitty in this. I mean, a friend texted me the next day and said "What was the Jason make-up like?" I had to tell him I couldn't remember. The last movie I saw that was this forgettable was Sister Act; two days later, I cannot remember a single detail from this movie. I wish I could tell you more, but a big part of me is glad I can't.

Just fucking avoid it.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Eagle Eye

I'm a fan of Shia La Beouf. I think that's how you spell it. I gather in America he's well known for some sitcom or other, but the first time I saw him in a movie it was the wonderful Holes. Since then, he can do almost no wrong.

Then I saw Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Ripped-Off Moviegoers. My mind started to change, but then I thought, no. If I were him, at his age, and I had the chance to be in an Indy film, I'd have done it too. Even if I might have ended up as the next Short Round.

Even my wife and stepdaughter like Shia. Last night, when debating what to watch on DVD, my wife said, 'I want to watch the one with the boy in!' That means Shia, Fact Fans.

So we watched Eagle Eye, which I had borrowed from my parents. That should have been the first alarm bell.

The movie is about a really clever dropout kind of person (Shia) – we know he's a clever drop-out because he has a conversation with his dad (the criminally under-used William Sadler) about dropping out of Stanford or somewhere. He's got a dead-end job in a copy shop (how do people who work in copy shops like these films? I wouldn't be that pleased if I'd seen this or, say, Never Been Kissed. Just saying).

One day, the day his identical twin brother is buried, he finds $700,000 in his bank account and a huge delivery of controlled materials in his apartment, like the kind of stuff you can make bombs with. His cell phone rings and a female voice (which sounded suspiciously like Julia Roberts) tells him the FBI are going to be there in 30 seconds and he needs to get out.

So far, so good. There's another character who is threatened with the loss of her child if she doesn't comply with what the mysterious caller wants, and they are thrown together for some reason or other that becomes clear later.

I was fine with most of this. I knew very early on that this was going to be a piece of shit because it looked a lot like another piece of shit, right down to the photography and dialogue – Tony Scott's cock-awful Enemy Of The State. But I hung in there, right up until the mysterious voice on the phone is telling Shia that if he doesn't get the man back who's come to collect him and woman-person in a van, that the man is going to die. Now, they're out in the middle of fucking nowhere, but for a load of really big electricity pylons which are right above them. How on earth is this man going to die? Hmmmm.

Death by fucking pylon.

After that, I was lost, and it's only maybe 30 minutes in to the movie. It really is downhill from there, and there's some ropy CG effects early on to boot (the train that whips past Shia as he's on the train line doesn't even ruffle his jacket, for fuck's sake. How lazy).

It turns out, the government – oh, SPOILERS, you hear me? If I haven't put you off yet, SPOILERS AHEAD! – has got this big old supercomputer that wants to kill the government for some stupid fucking reason, and Shia's dead twin brother put some sort of lock on it, so it needs Shia's face to unlock some shit or other, and it needs the woman to shoot him in the face once he's done it.

This film was so, so shit. I can't believe I stayed up late for it, especially when we could have watched more episodes of Friday Night Lights. Gah.

Friday, 4 September 2009

88 Minutes

You know that when a film's release date is pushed back by two years (two fucking years!), that it's gonna be bad.

I just didn't expect 88 Minutes to be as mind-numbingly horrific as it turned out to be.  The studio was right.  Well, kinda right.  They should have burned all the prints of this awful mess.  Just nullified it's very existence. 

The plot was silly.  The direction was amateurish and campy.  The premise that young women all over the Pacific Northwest are dying to sleep with Al Pacino when his is looking like a decripit ventriloquist dummy is just outright laughable.  And the performances...well, the performances are mythically bad.  Starting with Pacino and infecting everyone one around him.

And the super-secret plot twist?  Yeah, we saw that coming from around the block, assholes!  We just didn't know about the killer's motivation.  But when we finally find that out, it's "whack yourself in the head" time.  Really?  THAT'S why the killer did this? 

Holy shit, this is a bad film.  From beginning to end.  I'd trade those 88 minutes for a rectal exam any day.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Quantum of Solace

For as much as I loved Casino Royale, I never expected to type these worlds here:

But Quantum of Solace sucked!

I mean, I get it.  I get what the filmmakers were trying to do here.  It was supposed to be a filler film.  A direct sequel that wrapped up some of the loose ends from the previous film.  Something to clear the dust for the next film.  But it had no heart.  No soul.  No wit.  All things that were plentiful in the first film.

And the standard contrived plot of the standard Bond film was even more contrived in this one.  At times I barely knew what was going on.  Why did he wind up in that hotel room where he killed that guy?  Boy, it sure was lucky that he thought to ask the desk clerk for any messages so he could get that briefcase.  And wow...look at that?  He did it just at the exact moment that the dead dude's contact was gonna pick him up outside the hotel.  That all worked out well.

It seemed like the entire film was an excuse to film a chase/fight scene every 15 minutes or so.  Just a whole lot of nothing going on in between donnybrooks.  Sure there was something about a secret organization that tried to kill M.  That pissed Bond off.  And it was all maybe kinda somehow connected to Vesper's death?  I guess.  I really don't know. 

Worse.  I just didn't care.

Stupid fucking title too!

Friday, 15 May 2009

Surfer, Dude

I'll get to Wargames 2 later in the weekend. I had a big meal tonight and I didn't think I could stomach it. Strangely enough I did have the energy to watch Surfer, Dude. I can't even fathom why though.

Here it is in a nutshell:

Topless women.
More surfing.

Oh, and Matthew McConaughy plays a musical instrument while nekkid somwhere in there. But it's a didgeridoo, not a pair of bongos. Guess he didn't want to be typecast.

It sucks so much that it harshed my mellow. And I didn't even know I had a mellow. But it most certainly was harshed.

I think it does have possibilities as a drinking game of epic proportions though.

  • Drink every time you can see the ocean.
  • Drink every time you see McConaughy's bare chest.
  • Drink every time someone says "brah" or "bro" or "brother".
  • Drink every time McConaughy looks confused.
  • Drink every time someone smokes some weed.
  • Drink heavily every time you consider watching this piece of shit.
I honestly can't even begin to tell you what this film is about. It was as indecipherable as sanskrit to a normal human being. I'm not calling myself normal, you see. But I have known a few normal folks. And I just know they would have as tough a time as I did comprehending what was going on. Something about a reality surfing show, a video game, an ex-surfer turned into an asshole businessman, some kind of weed/surfing fast and Woody Harrelson's lawn mowing business. I think McConaughy falls in love somewhere in there as well. I don't really know.

See, I just typed that and it makes no sense.

Stay away from this one. Unless you are high. Or surfing. Or surfing while high. Or dead from the neck up.

That might work.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

You make the call

It's been a while since I've seen a bad film. I've even watched a couple that I thought were going to be bad, but wound up being pretty good.

So I put it in your hands, dear readers. I have a selection of potentially bad films ready to go on my Netflix Instant queue for this weekend. Which one should I watch?

  • 88 Minutes - 88 Minutes of overacting by Al Pacino. Almost seems unfair to list any other films after that endorsement.
  • Traitor - I dig me some Don Cheadle, but I've read some pretty bad reviews about this one. Meaning the film was bad, not the review itself. One of these days I will learn to write, um, better.
  • Wargames 2: The Dead Code - Just kidding. I'm not watching Wargames 2. Ever! I don't care if you kids actually vote for it. I'm just amazed that someone made a sequel.
  • Surfer, Dude - Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson play surfers. Um, dude. Doesn't seem like much of a stretch to me.
  • Domino - The commercials for this one looked so annoying when it came out a couple of years ago. I can only imagine the film as equally annoying. But longer.
So there you have it. Vote in the comments section and I will watch whichever selection has the most votes by the time I get around to it (probably Friday around 11PM).

My fate is in your hands. Choose wisely.

UPDATE - OK, the masses (4 or 5 of you) have spoken. I'll watch Wargames 2. But first I'm gonna watch Surfer, Dude. Just because.

Sunday, 26 April 2009


Generally, this is exactly the type of film that I want to see when I am home sick or I can't sleep for some reason. Dumb, silly action flick that allows me to check my intelligence at the door.

But this one was soooo over-the-top that it came round again and wound up on the bottom. Huh? Yeah, I don't know what that means either.

A fraternity of assassins formed by a group of weavers over a thousand years ago receive orders from a mysterious loom and follow out those orders with semi-magical abilities that include super-strength, super-speed and the ability to curve bullets from a gun around corners.

OK. It's a comic-book. A bad comic-book, but basically it's a comic-book. I get it. Highly stylized, deep in it's own mythology and ridiculous as all hell. It's escapist fantasy on par with The Matrix or Harry Potter or any other film where the main protagonist escapes his mundane, boring existence to live the exciting life of a super-hero.


I mean it was seriously boring. They couldn't jam enough ridiculous action into this one to hold my attention. I stopped watching it halfway thru to take a nap and when I woke up to watch the rest of it, I had kinda forgotten what had happened previously in the film. The cold medicine I am taking might have had something to do with that. I dunno.

All I can say is that I Wanted to like this film. I Wanted it to be as funny and as good as Nightwatch or Daywatch (same director). I Wanted to like James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie in their respective roles. I Wanted something to take my mind off my freakin' cold.

After it was over, all I really Wanted was an hour and forty minutes back.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Poolhall Junkies

One of my strange movie fetishes (non-masturbatory) is with The Con. Anything to do with con-men. Loved The Sting, and Diggstown is a movie that I can watch over and over again. Just great.

So I bumped Poolhall Junkies into the top spot of my Netflix queue the other day and I watched it last night. I don't have a lot of tremendously negative things to say about it. It was extremely derivative of The Hustler and The Color of Money, but it would have to be given the subject matter. Of course. But it was even more derivative of Rounders, if you ask me.

Had all the same plot elements. The lawyer girlfriend who doesn't want him hustling and leaves him over it. The protagonist helping out one of his friends in trouble with a bad guy. The showdown at the end with his nemesis complete with smarmy "gotcha" dialogue. Now, I loved Rounders. Loved it. But if I wanted to see it again I would just see it again. Capisci?

So this one doesn't get a recommendation. I kinda liked it, but I can tell you that it wasn't good. It was what it was. The only reason I'm mentioning it here is because of one scene that cracked me up.

The main character had hair that can only be described as Christopher Walken hair. You've seen Christopher Walken, right? Well he had hair like that. Here is a picture of the great Walken:

That's the hair the main guy had. Anyway, I must not have been paying attention to the credits because Christopher Walken was actually in this movie. Seriously. And the first time he meets the guy, they have the following conversation:

Walken - "You know, I saw you when you first walked in. Nice hair!"
Other dude - "Thanks" (they both stroke their manes)
Walken - "Maybe we're related or something."

That right there? That alone made this film worth watching for me. My advice for you? Skip it. I already told you the best reason to watch it. Just go re-watch Rounders, okay?

Friday, 17 April 2009

You Don't Mess With the Zohan

You know, I should have known better.

Every single commercial I saw for this film last year made me chuckle a little bit. I think I knew deep down inside that it was gonna suck big time, but I still wanted to see it. Adam Sandler as an Israeli super-here smacking around rude New Yorkers with his feet? Even thinking about it makes me smile.

What I should have remembered is that Adam Sandler hasn't been funny since, well...wait a minute. Has Adam Sandler ever been funny? I really can't recall. Remote Control on MTV was a little funny. Does that count?

Whenever an American comedian dons an silly accent for a role as a quirky foreigner, the film rapidly descends into a one-trick pony joke. See Robin Williams in Moscow on the Hudson or Eddie Murphy in Coming to America. Except those were, ya know, good. Imagine those two films and then imagine never laughing again. Ever. THAT is what this film is like.

Even John Turtorro can't save it. And John Turturro can save your soul. If only you would let him.

Don't mess with the Zohan. Don't even consider it.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

I have to be honest here.

I had a lot of opportunities NOT to watch this film over the weekend. I could have watched something on my DVR recorded list. I could have watched something on my Netflix queue on our Roku player. I could have watched late night television infomercials. I could have read a book or a magazine. I could have surfed the Internets. I could have played with the cats. I could have played with Gia. I could have cut my toenails. I could have banged my head against the wall in a repeated manner until any thought of watching this film escaped my consciousness.

But I did none of those things. And I did it all for you, my dear readers and only friends.

Where to begin? How about with the obvious elephant in the room, Keanu Reeves. I have to admit that the idea of Keanu (Hawaiian for "He Who Cannot Emote") playing an emotionless alien life form is semi-amusing. Kind of like asking William Shatner to play a narcissist or Lindsay Lohan to play a slutty train wreck. Just so obvious that you would think a casting director wouldn't even consider it. But, according to IMDB, Keanu was the director's first and only choice to play Klaatu. And he didn't disappoint. Well, I mean of course he disappointed. The whole film did. But if want a guy to look like Keanu Reeves and sound like Keanu Reeves, then Keanu Reeves is definitely your go-to guy.

Jennifer Connelly continued to underwhelm as a microbiologist with a son (I think, I really don't care) played by Will Smiff's kid, Jaden. That kid annoyed the crap out of me in this film. I think I might actually hate him. Does that make me a bad person? Oh, and Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm and John Cleese rounded out the cast that was clearly sleepwalking through the production of this film in anticipation of a fat paycheck at the end of the shoot. Job well done!

If you hate spoilers then go away quickly, because I am going to spoil the mother-fucker out of this bad boy right now.

The human race survives.

I know. I was disappointed as well.

Ah...nevermind. You have all have some form of rudimentary intellect. You can figure out all on your own why you shouldn't watch this film. But I admit that I did love how this film ended. Well, not HOW it ended. Just that it actually ended. You know. The credits rolled and I was suddenly aware that the film was over.

That was awesome.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Contributors wanted - read on...

This isn't for the 'grenade, folks - it's for a UK-based web site reviewing movies. So if you think you've got the chops to push the envelope to the redline maxx, as Jerry Bruckheimer would have the rest of the world believe the US talks, drop Tim an email. His details, and the site's details, are below. He's a great guy, I used to work with him and this is something he's starting up all on his lonesome, after the DVD magazine we used to work on folded recently.
With a bit of luck and hard work from Tim, US contributors might get in to screenings etc which would be very useful for a UK-based web site, as the UK gets films kind of late sometimes... But Tim has a great reputation with UK-based distributors etc, and has edited a European DVD review magazine for the last five years or so. he knows what he's doing, and this is more than a flight of fancy or a hobby – it might just go somewhere.

Here's the spiel...

New Movie Website Looking For Reviewers  
Sent at: 9th Apr, 14:23

Launching in May, the new cinema, DVD and Blu-ray website,
Movie Muser, is looking for freelancers to create content
for the site, mainly providing reviews of cinema and
home entertainment, although if you have ideas for
other content, such as features, please get in touch.

This work will be unpaid, however those commissioned
will get access to early screenings of new films, as
well as preview copies of upcoming DVD and Blu-ray
releases. Plus your work will be featured on what is
sure to become a very popular website.

Anyone interested should forward their CV and
examples of their work (preferably film related,
although this isn't essential) to Tim Isaac

Many thanks and I do look forward to hearing from you.



Deadline: 30th Apr, 18:00

Contact Name: Tim Isaac

Title: Editor

Publication: Muser Media


Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Never Back Down

The first rule of High School Fight Club is never talk about High School Fight Club.

The second rule of of High School Fight Club is....ah fuck it. Let's talk about High School Fight Club.

I was given a recommendation for this film by a dude I know who smells like a wet dog. He knows that I like "bad" films. Like we all know Road House is a shitty film, but it's an awesome way to spend an hour and a half. Same thing with cinematic pieces of crap like Best of the Best. It won't win any awards...well, maybe a Razzie. But it'll sure be a fun ride. I was told that this film was in that vein.

It's about a hot-headed kid who moves to that tough town called Orlando (seriously?) and winds up embroiled in an underground fight club with just about the douchiest kid you ever did see. It was like a sequel to Troy with a young Eric Bana fighting a young Brad Pitt. But, ya know...without even the lame charisma that those two stars brought to the screen in that flop-o-rama.

Seems that boring Eric Bana lookalike guy has a bit of a temper. He is like Marty McFly in the sequels to Back to the Future. Except instead of going nuts when someone calls him yellow (really?), his trigger is any knock against his drunk and dead father. I understand that last item was a bit vague. I guess he was drunk before he was dead, but you get the picture.

And he's got a crush against the crushiest girl in school. She looks way hotter than Brooke Hogan. I only mention Brooke Hogan because I think the Hogans are from Orlando. Or somewhere in Florida. I really don't know. Florida, besides the Keys, is a mystery to me. It looks like it is warm down there, but so is Hell. And I don't want to go to Hell. Well, not yet.

So this Brad Pitt dude kicks his ass in a backyard brawl. And young Eric Bana wants to pay him back in spades, so he starts taking lessons with a Mixed Martial Arts teacher. And he looks surprisingly like Djimon Hounsou. Hey is Djimon Hounsou! Guess he needed some money to buy Kimora Lee some new makeup. We are all whores, aren't we Djimon?

The rest of the film plays out like the classic kung fu flicks of yore. Which is why it is awesome, with a capital A! Douchey good guy gets his ass kicked by douchey bad guy then he picks up a spunky (and douchey) sidekick and trains with a martial arts GOD so that he can return the ass kicking to the douchey guy. It all has to lead up to that. But he has to learn a lesson in there somewhere, right?

Well, not from what I could see. Apparently if you train for a few weeks with an annoying ginger kid and roll around the floor with Djimon Hounsou for a while then you can beat the douchiest kid in school in a backyard brawl. There is even one silly scene when the race like Rocky and Apollo from Rocky III. That surely helped.

So do I recommend this film? Not really. I don't know. Was Karate Kid worth it? Was any of it's imitators? I mean, I enjoyed it. Much like I enjoy softcore porn or low-proof beer. It will get you where you are going, but it's gonna take you a long time getting there. Unless you are generally into that kinda thing. Which I am. Mostly*.

*Not the low-proof beer. That shit is a waste of time.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Seven Pounds... of Boring

This weekend, I watched Seven Pounds.

I thought I’d start with an impromptu review of the movie in real time.

Ready? Here we go:

They just started the movie by telling me what happens at the end. Hate that.

OK. Will Smith. Dripping wet. Shirt. Is. Off. This film has promise.

Annd he put his shirt back on. Crushing disappointment ensues.

Is that Woody Harrelson? I don’t remember him having bad teeth.

Hey! That’s the cute thug guy from Barbershop. I hope they show more of him.

WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? I'm officially interested in this movie.

The first and only time Will Smith smiles in this movie.

A jellyfish? WTF?

Quote, “You’re a good man even when you don’t know people are watching you.”

Dying or not, I would never call a guy first. Just saying.

OK. Now I know what he’s up to. But, why, man, why?!!

So bored. Where is that hottie from Barbershop?

Could have done without the last 30 minutes of this movie. I'm officially uninterested.

I will never, ever text message while driving. Ever. Ever. Again.

Too hormonal ... Oh my God, he hugged her. [Indistinct pregnant woman blubber].

TWO HOURS?! Bastards. I feel violated.


I know, right? It was like being there. Now, get your feet off of my coffee table.

By the way, did I mention that I’m a member of a small group of women known as the Society of Women Who Are Completely Annoyed By Sappy Love Story Movies (you may know us as SWWACABSLSM)?

While we’re not known for our talent for coming up with short names for societies, we are global.

Seven Pounds is about the internal struggle of a man attempting to fulfill a self imposed need for redemption. The tension, then, rests not on events that are happening in the film, but upon the emotional tension created within the film’s main character.

In other words, this movie could not have been any slower unless it had been a two hour shot of a Will Smith drinking a cup of decaf coffee at Starbucks.

Even the brilliant, talented and exceedingly hot Will Smith could not erase the feeling that the studio that made this movie has unfairly sucked two precious hours out of my life that I will never get back.

The Seven Pounds DVD has a ton of special features, including a director’s commentary, “Seven Views on Seven Pounds” (where everyone but the caterers discuss the making of the movie), “Creating the Perfect Ensemble” (narrated by the casting director) and some deleted scenes.

I didn’t bother to watch any of these because, frankly, I found the movie boring and slightly irritating.

And the last thing I want to do is watch a feature on the making of boring and slightly irritating.

And, finally, out of respect for those who hate spoilers, I'll be brief and cryptic.

With respect to the overall plot, I'm not a big fan of guilt or self flagellation. No matter how awful the consequences of your actions might be, a simple and sincere "sorry" on the part of the main character might have sufficed. There's no reason to go overboard.

:: Now waiting for Will Smith's apology... or, at the very least, a showing of guilt ::

So, I won't hold my breath.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

10,000 B.C.

Hi guys! It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here. Have you all missed me?

Of course you have.

Why haven’t I posted? Well, the main reason is simply that I haven’t seen too many awful movies lately. Really. I was just on a really good run there for a bit. I even watched some movies that OTHER people said sucked eggs, and I ended up thinking they were ok. Maybe not masterpieces, but not “Grenade”-able either.

And then last night I watched 10,000 B.C.

Holy mother of all things Good! How can a major movie studio make a movie this bad?

I honestly don’t even know where to begin.

I CAN tell you that if you were hoping to learn ANY kind of history from this movie, you can just stop hoping right now. This movie is SO historically inaccurate that it’s laughable.

Where to start?

10,000 B.C. tells the story of a supposed prehistoric tribe, living in what looks to be the Ice Age. The earth must have evolved pretty damn fast for the ice age to have been only 12,000 years ago! And we’ve also apparently gotten a HELL of a lot uglier since our caveman days….. every single person in this tribe has perfect Bob-Marley dreadlocks and super-model good looks and physiques. It must be our diet.

Anyway, while the tribe is out hunting Wooly Mammoths (really), they get attacked by dinosaur birds (fucking really), while another tribe attacks them and enslaves most of their people.

So, the few free cavemen left band together to free their people. During their trek, they encounter a Sabertooth Tiger (really), cross a desert (really), where they find the people who attacked them are Egyptians building a pyramid (can I just stop with the “really”s now?). The Egyptians have sailboats, maps, astronomy tools, winches for building, and more wooly mammoths. That’s right… mammoths….in the desert.

It seemed like this movie was written by a 10 year old, who wanted to just throw everything he thought would look cool, into one movie. At any moment I was expecting to see a Sherman Tank roll by, or Will Smith in a black suit shooting down a spaceship. At that point, why the Hell not?

There’s nothing more I can say about this hot mess of a film.

Don’t make the same mistake I did and waste 2 hours of your life on it.

Saturday, 28 March 2009


Ever gone to a high end restaurant, had a lovely meal and decide to order the $25 cheesecake?

OK, good, so we’re all on the same page about this.

The $25 cheesecake gets to your table, you take a bite and, suddenly, you realize that you’ve been had. Because the $25 cheesecake? Tastes like frozen Sara Lee nastiness.

You keep eating, hoping, praying that somewhere, somehow, you’re going to hit that $25 bite.

No way, though. It’s over. The cheesecake sucked.

You’re thinking, I cannot believe I spent this much on something so unbelievably average, so incredibly uneventful.

And this describes my feelings about the Stephanie Meyer Twilight series.

I know I’m possibly subjecting myself to the rage of thousands of Cullen worshiping teenagers, and I’ll fully be expecting their version of a fatwa anytime now.

Like, totally, you’re, like, going to die. And, like, it’s going to be, like, by stoning. In. The. Gap.

Before I die, stoned and in the Gap, I’d like to say I did read all of the books. Like the metaphorical cheesecake, I took every bite, hoping and praying that it would get better.

Four million pages later, I sat there mired (or is it meyered? heh) in disappointment.

OK, so, fast forward to last weekend, when I finally watched Twilight on DVD. Why DVD and not the theater? After letting that series suck up to twenty hours out of my life (that’s four months in “I don’t have kids” years), there was no way I was hiring a sitter so I could see it.

This movie marked the first time in my life that I found the movie to be far, far better than the book.

Like the book, teenager Bella Swans finds herself awkwardly trying to navigate high school and connect with a generally estranged father with whose home she’s just moved in to at the po’dunk town of Forks. It rains about 355 days of the year in the Forks, there’s very little sunshine, and the nearest mall is about an hour away.

Already a teenage horror story.

Lucky for Bella, high school isn’t going to be a total drag because the guy who sits next to her in Biology is not only mysterious and handsome, but is also a vampire.

Like, oh my God, that is so hot.

The movie is visually beautiful, with lots of (wait for it, this is going to be where I get technical) blueish hues tinting up the screen. Everything is dark, melancholy and sad, as it should be when a brooding vampire is involved with a morose teenager.

The chemistry between Robert Pattison and Kristen Stewart plays nicely and accurately reflects that fine balance between the awkwardness and intensity of adolescent romance. And, really, this relationship and its tension is the heart of what drives the movie forward. (Read "chick flick").

Of course, the description of Pattison’s character, Edward Cullen, in the novel suggests that he possesses a beauty that is stunningly surreal. While I would have drooled over Robert Pattison every single day of my teenage existence, he’s a far cry from surreal or even beautiful.

Aside from this minor casting issue, the movie was well acted, well cast and each character more than adequately reflected the pictures of them I had formed in my mind while being subjected to, er, uh, reading the novel.

So, the movie? I would watch it again, but, mostly, because I love vampires.

Especially the kind that brood about women they can never, ever actually have.

And, now, off to the Gap for my stoning.

** The author of this post wishes to acknowledge that her analysis of any male vampire is irrevocably skewed by her deep and eternal love for Angel of the Joss Whedon series. Because I love him. Forever. And Edward Cullen? Is. No. Angel.

*** So, I know in nerd world, I'm supposed to talk about all the "features" on the DVD, but I didn't watch the DVD with the purposes of reviewing it. So, just deal. Next time, my nerdy friends, next time.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Prom Night (2008)

No shock here, eh?

There are remakes that I can understand and then there are remakes that I cannot wrap my itty-bitty primordial brain around. This remake of Prom Night (1980) falls in the latter category. Falls into it? Hell, it belly-flops into it. Never the high-water mark of early 80's slasher flicks, the original at least had Jamie Lee Curtis running around and screaming. Check that. At MOST it had Jamie Lee Curtis running around and screaming.

So instead of a remake of a classic in the genre like Black Christmas, Halloween, When a Stranger Calls or Friday the 13th, we are now blessed with remakes of second and third tier slasher outings. Thanks Hollywood. It's not like any of those previous remakes improved upon the original.

Hey, wait. Maybe the remake geeks are onto something. Instead of remaking a classic and failing miserably, maybe they can truly improve on one of these lesser features with a new cast and a fresh look.

Nah! Nice thought, though.

The only improvement I noticed was the music. And the hip-hop/shitty pop in the new version is barely better than the crappy disco-era shit from the original. Barely. Certainly not enough to warrant anyone's precious movie watching time. I mean, I watched it. But that's only because I really, really, really love you guys and I would hate to see any of you actually watch this turd without warning you about it first.

Here's a brief summary of the film. Cute blond girl with weirdly attractive scar on her forehead comes home to find her family is being attacked by a madman. Turns out she is relaying a dream to a therapist. A dream rooted in reality as she was the witness to a heinous crime three years earlier and helped put away said madman.

Now the bad man has escaped and he has shaved and he is looking for revenge on cute scar girl. On her prom night of all days. Proms have sure changed since my time. The party is in a fancy hotel and all the kids have rooms or suites or penthouses to stay in for the night. That's basically a free banging pass that these kids parents are giving them. I think I hate these pretty, young, rich people. I think I would like to cut them up with a shiny knife.

I instantly regret that last line. Must have gotten caught up in the moment. I am watching a slasher film after all. Let's slow dance it down a notch, shall we?

One by one, cute scar girl's bubble-headed friends and some unlucky hotel staff (should have taken the night off) are picked off by the least scary looking killer I have seen in a tremendously long time. Check this guy out. Oh sure, he looks like a Grade A douche, but a maniac slasher? C'mon. More likely to hit on your boyfriend at the gym if you ask me. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I'm just sayin'.

Bottom line: Not scary. Not well-made. Not campy. I like my slasher flicks to have at least one of those characteristics. This one fails on all counts.

Except for the scar. I really thought that scar was kinda cute.

Sunday, 15 March 2009


It's been a while since I've turned a movie off after just a few minutes.

I did it yesterday, with Zatoichi. I was so, so disappointed. Why? Well, the reason is simple. The 'special' effects.

I was so looking forward to this. I even explained to the wife why Takeshi Kitano is so fucking cool. I explained the premise of the movie, and why it would rock when made by him.

Then, not 30 seconds in, we have the first deaths, and some of the shittest CG effects I have ever seen. Blood spurting and not actually landing on anyone nearby, even when it apparently spurts in their faces. It just looks cheap, and as I haven't watched or absorbed any of the rest of the movie, I don't know if Kitano might have been making some stylistic point with this. It just looked too shit for words, so the movie remains unqatched and, for me, unwatchable.

Poor effects in themselves are not a problem – I love trashy horror, for example, and bad effects there are forgivable if they have ambition and imagination fuelling them. But there was no excuse for this, it's not a cheap production, and we're talking about relatively basic effects even if they were produced physically rather than with computers. Just a bad, bad idea.

* According to Wikipedia, this 'stylising' was intentional. Well, it was fucking shit, Mr Kitano. Don't do it again or I'll have to go Zatoichi on your ass.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Black Christmas (2006)

Conducted an interesting experiment tonight. Well, interesting if you are a freaky-deak for slasher films like I am. I watched the original Black Christmas from 1974 for the first time, and I watched the remake immediately afterwards. For purely scientific reasons, of course.

The original film is often lauded as a classic by fans of the genre. A pre-cursor to films like Halloween and Friday the 13th. And I can't believe it took me this long to finally sit down and watch it. Hell, we even had it for about 3 weeks siting by the television. Just waiting for us to watch it. Maybe it, the DVD, even watched us like the eyeball of a maniac peering at us through the crack between the door and the door frame. Wait, what?

Anyway, I really enjoyed the original film. It was fun seeing John Saxon, Andrea Martin, Olivia Hussey and Margot Kidder doing it like it was a crazy episode of Love American Style. Man, I used to love that show. If you haven't seen it yet, well...I won't spoil it for you. But it was pretty unique for a slasher flick, even by today's standards. And, like I said before, it was highly influential for pretty much every slasher film made after it.

The remake, however, sucked huge smelly gorilla balls!

Not that it was the necessarily the fault of the film-makers. Okay, it was mostly their fault. What I meant to say was that the mere act of remaking a seminal film in a given genre is that, almost by default, the film has to bring something new to the table. Gus Van Sant did a shot-by-shot remake of Psycho and while it was technically decent, it bored us to tears. So that ain't gonna work here. And you have to stay true enough to the source material or you might as well make a totally new movie with an original plot. Yeah, right!

So what does the earnest film-maker decide to do? Generally speaking, for the slasher genre at least, they decide to give the audience a more detailed back story so that we know why the killer is fond of sticking sharp objects into random or not-so-random sorority girls/babysitters.

And that is a bad idea.

What made the original Black Christmas so effective was what we didn't know about the killer. We don't know his/her motivation. We don't know what childhood events shaped their psyche. We are given snippets of information that really don't make any sense, and we really couldn't be expected to piece it all together. There is a big bad man with a knife or a machete or an ice-pick and he wants to do things with it. We don't know why, and that makes it scary. Simple, right?

But the makers of this remake went for the back-story route and they told us everything about the killer. EVERYTHING! Hey, he was born yellow. Huh? Hey, his mom locked him in the attic when he was 5. Yeah. Oh, and she banged him when he was 12. Wait, what? And he had a sister/daughter from that humpty dance. Sure, why not. And blah, blah, blah fucking blah. Who cares? You were scarier when you were just a pair of hands and a voice on the other end of the phone line. Rob Zombie made the same freakin' mistake when he remade Halloween. I'm sorry...when he re-imagined Halloween. Whatever.

Another thing that infuriated me? They took one, semi-inventive death scene from the original movie and made it into the killer's modus operandi for the remake. Plastic bag over the head followed by stabby stabby in the head with something pointy. Yawn!

So if you are in the mood for a fun and/or scary slasher flick I would recommend that you stay far away from this hunk o' junk. But check out the original, if you haven't already. That one was loads of scary fun.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

My God, Kevin Smith is a hack.

Don't get me wrong. I've been a big fan of the guy in the past. Some of his films are classics. But, unfortunately, it's been a while. I could go on about my love/hate relationship with Kevin Smith, but I would just be re-hashing what I wrote about it on my other blog. Go here to read it, if you are interested. I know you are.

Anywho...this one could have been decent. He basically watched every Judd Apatow film from the past few years and hired those actors. Nice start. The plot about a couple of friends who decide to make a low-budget porno with some folks in the neighborhood guaranteed an ample supply of dick and fart jokes. A Kevin Smith staple.

So what went wrong?

Just about everything went wrong.

It just wasn't funny enough. And the stuff that was sorta funny was telegraphed from a mile away. Brandon Routh's character was gay? Who saw that coming? Jeff Anderson getting shit on? Wow...that really took me for a loop. I mean the actress said she was constipated and how that was good for anal sex because it relaxes her. And then Anderson sets himself up directly under the couple while they are doing the chocolate deed. Even warns them to watch it when they pull out. But I just had no idea that Kevin Smith was gonna go there! Genius! And please, please, please show us Jason Mewes dick. Please Kevin?

That being said, I still laughed a few times during the first half of the film. Mostly at/with Craig Robinson who is the absolute shit in everything he does. But the second half of the film felt like waiting for the paint to dry. It. Was. Awful. As much as I loved most of Chasing Amy, I just don't think that Kevin Smith has it in him to write a decent romance.


Don't waste your time on this lame-ass waste of talent.

Go rent The Moguls instead. Basically the same without the "it's been done a million times before" romance between the two leads in this one. And pray that Kevin Smith either starts making movies like he used to or that he retires. I think I would be fine with either outcome.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Southland Tales

I think I found it. The worst film ever made.

That might be a bit harsh. I'm sure there is some Grade D porn out there that is probably worse. And yet those films might fill the need of sorts for some desperate soul who really needs it. And I've got a soft spot in my heart for bad porn just as I have a soft spot in my heart for bad mainstream films. Everyone has their fetishes, ya know.

But this shit was awful, yo!

Now, I've never seen Donnie Darko. I've heard wonderful things about it and it is highly recommended by a few friends of mine whose opinions I trust. It's on my Netflix queue. And this piece of shit was the followup by writer and director Richard Kelly. So one would think that it would have some redeeming qualities. One would think, but one would be sadly mistaken.

And before any fans of it out there start with me, I get it. I get it. Really, I get it. I FUCKING GET IT!!!

I get the "statement" he is making about the media, the far right, the government machine and everything else he references and their roles in the eventual breakdown of our society. I get it. Religion, the environment, the trauma of war...I FUCKING GET IT!!! The film spends 2 and 1/2 hours beating us over the head with it. Only a freakin' moron wouldn't get it. But is so un-interesting and bland that it compares badly with watching paint dry.

Lemme throw some random plot points and characters out at ya. The Rock plays an action movie hero who disappears and then reappears with amnesia. But he actually is a time traveler and his own future self. Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy!!!) plays an ex-porn star who is working with the neo-Marxist underground a bit unwittingly and planning her new reality series. Sean William Scott is a neo-Marxist posing as his twin brother, a cop. Or is he? Remember...there is time travel and inter-dimensional stuff going on. Justin Timberlake is a damaged Iraqi war vet who acts as narrator and chronicler of the whole mess. He makes no sense at all. Meanwhile Miranda Richardson is the behind-the-scenes focus of the whole film as the head of the fascist government agency that the neo-Marxists are targeting.

That last paragraph was the most boring and exhausting thing that I've ever written. Holy crap!

And I didn't even mention the most creepy role that Wallace Shawn has ever played or the bad cop that John Lovitz played or the paraplegic war vet with a ZZ Top beard that Kevin Smith played. All of these were done with tongue firmly placed in cheek. I hope. Dear God, I hope.

But it was all so freakin' boring and useless. Littered with silly pop culture references and bad special effects and goofy media hyperbole.

Ugh! I hated this fucking movie.

Stay away. Stay far away. You will thank me for this. I promise.


This is the only 3 minutes of the movie that I liked. Justin Timberlake lip syncing to The Killers in a weird Lebowski-esque dream/fantasy sequence. The song kinda got stuck in my head.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

The Strangers

I don't know how they did it.

They, the powers that be, somehow made a horror movie that was incredibly short and yet incredibly slow at the same time. It literally crawled along the floor and limped up to the oh-so stupid ending. Quite a feat, if you ask me.

I liked the idea behind it. A couple of young lover spending a night in an isolated country home. Masked strangers torment them for unknown reasons. Yeah...that sounds pretty good. Except it wasn't.

It reminded me of two different and much better films. The first, for obvious reasons if you have seen it, is a French film calls Ils (Them, in English). That one was about, you guessed it, a young couple spending a night in an isolated country home who are tormented by mysterious strangers. That one had a decent twist at the end though. This one didn't. It just laid there, floundering instead. The second was John Carpenter's original Assault on Precinct 13. And only because of the unknown surrounding the assailants. To be honest, I haven't seen Assault on Precinct 13 in a long time so I don't remember if Carpenter actually showed why they were attacking the Precinct. I like to remember that there was no reason. It was the unknown that made it powerful.

The unknown in this film was just plain boring.

And the entire film was shot with hand-held cameras. So even calm scenes of the two protagonists sitting at a table are shaky as hell. What the fuck? There is no reason for that.

I will say one thing. Liv Tyler can freakin' scream! I'm not a huge fan of her acting but the woman has some pipes. That doesn't mean you should go out and rent it. No, no, no, no, no.

Rent Empire Records instead. She screams nicely in that one too.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009


Dear God, what hath John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson wrought?

The formerly reliable Cusack plays a paranormal travel writer who specializes in debunking ghostly occurrences at hotels, motels and creepy country inns. He used to be a "real writer", but he has become kinda stuck in this rut of being a professional ghost hunter. He's also a cynical bastard, you betcha. Until he encounters real terror in room 1408 at the legendary Dolphin Hotel in New York City. Those numbers add up to 13, by the way. Isn't that clever?

Excuse me while I yawn.


Sorry about that. Couldn't help myself. Besides, that yawn is probably as good of a review as you are gonna find for this, um, er...yawner. See what I did there?

You know there was a time and a place when I would watch pretty much any piece of crap that John Cusack or Sam Jackson produced. I probably would even watch them produce an actual piece of crap, but we aren't talking about my bathroom fetishes here. No, we are talking about bad cinema. And this, my friends, is truly bad cinema.

I still had high hopes, though. I love these two actors and I love ghost stories. I even kinda love Stephen King who wrote the story that the movie is based upon. Or at least I used to. Back in the day. And he had done "bad hotels" before, and done it well. Like I said, I had high hopes.

So what went wrong? Was it the faux yellow and red hued atmosphere? Was it the kitschy inclusion of every ghostly trick in the book? Radios turning on by themselves, candies appearing on the pillows, toilet paper re-folding itself, pictures dislodging themselves from the wall, a sudden bout of deafness followed by painful encounters with a window pane and some scalding hot water. It all feels like it has been done before. Better, I might add.

Nah. You know what I really think it was? It was John Cusack.

I just don't think he was the right guy for this role. I kept imagining someone who I believed was more cynical, more beat down by life in the role. Clive Owen in the beginning of Children of Men, maybe. He also become too manic too quickly, I thought. And then he started accepting it. And then manic again. There was no slow dissolve into madness like there was with "The Shining". He just sank right into it. That might be the fault of the screenwriter and the director more than the star, but Cusack certainly bought into it.

And I couldn't help but feel that it would have been better if it downplayed the SFX and maybe was in black in white. Or in French. I dunno, but it could have used something.

Another thing. It wasn't scary. Or at least it didn't scare me. Lord knows I wanted it to. I love a good scary flick. All cheap special effects with no payoff. Why did some of the ghosts look like bad movie projections on the wall? Was that supposed to be scary? Was the excessive heat or the chilling cold? Any of it?

Turns out he was more haunted by his own personal ghosts than the not-so-scary ones in Room 1408.

Or was he?, er Aaaaarrrrgggghhhhh-owwwaaaahhhhhhrooohhhwrrr!!!

Sorry. Yawned again.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Vantage Point

I seem to be watching a lot of movies lately that beg/borrow/steal from Akira Kurasawa. This time it was Vantage Point that gets the Rashomon treatment. Badly.

It's actually not a awful movie. Some A-list or former A-list actors are littered through the film. Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Sigourney Weaver (in an extraordinarily useless role...must have needed a new bathroom in her house or something), Forest Whitaker, William Hurt, etc... All big shots trying to make it work in this ensemble piece. Yet the only character I seemed to care about was Whitaker's eyewitness to the tragic events portrayed in the film.

You know what I hate? I hate when I can spot the actor playing the bad guy right away and it turns out that I am right. Took me all of 3 minutes to figure this movie out. That is either a new personal record for me or it is damned close. The obvious choice had me doubting myself all through the picture until...duh! There it is! Holy fuck is that awful!

Like I said, the Forest Whitaker sub-plot was interesting to watch, but the rest of it? Feh. Watch the first five minutes and see if you can guess who the bad guy is. Then watch the last five minutes of it to see if you are right. I bet you will be. And I saved you an hour and half of viewing.

You are most welcome!

Sunday, 4 January 2009


I had high hopes for this one for a number of reasons. First off, it was written and directed by Neil Marshall. The man responsible for Dog Soldiers and The Descent, two terrific films. Secondly, it is Marshall's homage to films like Escape From New York and the Mad Max trilogy. Films I love! Genres I love!

But this one disappointed.

It started off great. A killer plague wipes out most of the residents of Scotland forcing the U.K. to totally isolate the region by wall to the South and by a sea blockade of mines around the rest of the nation. After close to 30 years it is discovered that the plague still exists and that there are survivors living in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

A girl who escaped (sans one eye) from Scotland before it was sealed off is now a grown up special forces hottie. She is chosen to lead a team into Scotland to finds some survivors to halt the spread of the plague in London. Since there are survivors there must be a cure, right?

First she encounters a group living a very Mad Max-ish existence in Glasgow. Why is it that as soon as a bunch of people die in a Nuclear War or a monstrous plague, the survivors begin piercing things and shaving their heads into Mohawks? Anyway, these guys are bad. And they are cannibals. Which makes no sense since there appears to be plenty of cows running around the countryside. But I've never tried human flesh, so I could be talking out of my ass.

The team later encounters a second group of survivors led by Malcolm MacDowell, and this is where the film lost me. This group of survivors, in under 30 years, have reverted to living in the Middle Ages. Castles, swords, armor, horses and bad personal hygiene. You get the picture.

Not sure where Marshall was going with this particular homage. I get the Mad Max references and the Escape From New York references, but this one escapes me. Knightriders by George Romero, maybe? I dunno.

I do know that I was thoroughly enjoying the film until it went there. REALLY enjoying it. But as soon as that happened I was really let down. And even though it went back to the Mad Max theme fairly quickly, it was too late. For me.

I get that it was supposed to be just a little bit o' brain candy for those that love these kind of films. And lord knows, I'm one of them. But the Medieval shit just was a bit too much for me. Shame.