Friday, April 30, 2010

Kick-Ass [2010]

I saw the red band trailer for Kick Ass last fall – and my immediate reaction was “this looks like it’s going to be great!” – then the eventual hype machine started on it – and the fact it was being marketed for the mass markets – I began to worry that it wasn’t going to be as kick ass as advertised.

Dave Lizewski, a teenage boy, decides to take his obsession with comic books to a new level and take matters into his own hands when it comes to the local thugs. He becomes Kick Ass! Only one problem: he doesn’t have any super powers or training – just motivation and heart.

There’s a lot that goes on – because it’s essentially an origin story. So, where I usually want to keep my description of the film short – I have to note that he’s not the only person in town who decides to take matter into their own hands. There’s an ex-cop and his daughter who become Big Daddy and Hit Girl – they have the training and the armaments to make a real go at being superheroes. Then you have the mobster whose son is desperate to take over the family business – and he becomes Red Mist.

I don’t think any of this is a spoiler or anything – but it’s important for me to note per how my review is going to go.

What I think is missing from this film is Kick Ass – I never really got the feeling that Dave was into his alter ego as much as others were. He only gets into a couple of solo altercations as Kick Ass – and though we may be looking at a studio saying “we can’t just dress up a kid and show him fighting crime – we might get sued” – I for one just didn’t feel like the movie was about him – the titular character.

I also don’t like reviewing a movie for what’s not in it – unless it’s a major issue – so let me review what’s in the film. The film is fun. A whole mess of fun – and in my book it’s mostly for Hit Girl. Hit Girl steals the show! She’s got the best lines and the best action scenes. The movie felt like it was more about her than it was about Kick Ass.

I really liked the plot – Kick Ass becomes a web sensation – mobster gets into a situation and blames the new web sensation everyone’s talking about. It makes sense – and I appreciate that. Plots in superhero films can often get convoluted and annoying – and are usually razor thin – this holds water.

The film is at times pretty violent – though it certainly could’ve been more so – considering all the talk. Then again it’s for the mass market – so if it was more violent – and pleased my palate – it probably would’ve been TOO violent. Yes, there’s also a young girl saying naughty words – get the parents union to bitch because they refuse to raise their children to know better.

The humor was pretty good – nice and dark and a bit slapstick (in a violent way) – I could’ve done without the Nic Cage impersonation of Adam West – it felt a bit too broad.

I felt the acting was strong from pretty much all fronts – and would even advocate a best supporting actress nod for Chole Grace Moretz – as Hit Girl. Honestly, I don’t see the appeal of Christopher Mintz-Plasse – but he didn’t detract from the film any more than I felt he added – so it’s a draw.

I felt the story dragged a bit – but it was shot well – without a shit load of shaky cam – and I liked that. Overall it felt a bit disjointed – and I could’ve done without the weak voiceovers at times. I felt maybe there was a bit too much style being forced into it – but I guess it didn’t overpower – so I’ll forgive.

I’m giving Kick Ass a 4 out of 5 – I think Hit Girl’s final battle really clinched the fact it wasn’t going to get lower – but I don’t think it reached for better – though it had potential I may sound a bit overly critical - but I liked it - I truly truly did - and I hope for a sequel (hoping the trend of awesome superhero sequels holds true).

[directed by Matthew Vaughn]

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Joseph W. Sarno [1921-2010]

In one of my first reviews on my movie blog - I wasn't very kind to Joseph Sarno - and was corrected in the comments section that The Devil's Plaything [1973] (the movie I was reviewing) was one of his only foray's outside of the sexploitation genre.

Later, I ended up watching Swedish Wildcats [1972] which featured one of my favorite exploitation actresses - Christina Lindberg - and found it much more to my liking - though it was truly bizarre. The charismatic Diana Dors (pictured) as the head mistress/ring leader of a sex auction house where the women are painted like animals - the film then branches out to be a bit more of an intimate look into the women's lives. It was interesting, surprising - and kept me quite entertained.

I'm glad that he's been vindicated in my eyes - unfortunately instead of my next mention of Joe Sarno is me correcting myself - I mention his passing.

Rest in peace, sir.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

5 Reasons Why the Rebellion Screwed the Galaxy!!

As movie fans we have it built into our brains that we need to root for the good guys at all costs. That’s great – I don’t really mind that at all – but sometimes you have to wonder – “Am I really rooting for the right side?”

To have some fun with this idea – I decided to take one of the most classic “no brainer – root for the good guys” films and see if I can find 5 reasons why the Rebellion fucked the Galaxy!

5. The Empire didn't just step up and say "the galaxy is ours now" - they had supporters somewhere - or they'd constantly have to be putting down various uprisings - not just the Rebellion. So, the Rebels just made a whole shit load of planets raise militias in support of what they feel is the "true government". Sounds like the galaxy just got a lot more hostile.

4. The Rebellion is extremely underfunded. Look at the ships in Episodes 1-3 – those are some fine pieces of spacecraftery. Then look at the ships the Rebellion threw at the Empire in the next three chapters – in comparison they look like they are held together with spit and gum! Can we expect the Rebellion to REALLY be able to run a Galaxy if they can’t afford old nicer technology? Best example is the clunky B-Wing or the Y-Wing fighters.

3. The Empire did NOT accept failure from the people put in their leadership positions. Vader executed several commanders for failing to capture the good guys even though Vader knows the "Force is with them". The Alliance's leadership was dumb enough to keep the same overthrown by the Imperials power structure in place into the Rebellion - even though they were duped from the inside. Sounds like they are ripe to be taken down again.

2. The Empire had clones for their army and police force (the Stormtroopers) - so now what the Alliance will have to have a draft and send real people to their deaths? Sounds like a bad idea to me and another great way for everyone to rebel against the Rebellion.

1. These people - the Alliance - the Rebels - are the reminants of the government that put Jar Jar Binks in charge of something! Didn't they make him a Senator or something? He didn’t do anything – but he was promoted to doing something of actual importance within the government! So, does that mean Wicket the Ewok will get a spot on the Jedi council? Is he automatically promoted to making decisions for the galaxy just because he was there? Does that mean we were rooting for the wrong side all along? Ack!!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Killer [1989]

If you think you know the best action films of the late 80’s early 90’s – you’ll want to make sure you know John Woo’s The Killer before you start bragging. I’m not saying I’m an expert – but The Killer is essential for action film lovers.

A hired gun – known only to some as Jeffery (played by Chow Yun-Fat) – takes out his targets at a nightclub in what was supposed to be his final job – but in the process accidently blinds the singer. Jeffery lives by a code and feels guilty for his action – and decides to become close to her – and take one more contract to pay for her surgery – unfortunately any time you say you want to retire in an action film...

This film was over the top nuts with action. Jeffery is a suave and sentimental anti-hero – Chow Yun-Fat plays the role very well. I haven’t seen a ton of John Woo films – but this certainly seems to be his masterpiece. The choreography of the action scenes was at times dizzying – but the frequency and the gonzo of them was outstanding fun. There was a few times I shook my head in disbelief of how over-the-top this film was.

I don’t really have much more to say – it’s not an incredibly deep plot – your standard anti-hero/good guy/evil guys set-up – where the anti-hero and the good guy have a bit of a bro-mance – and they team up to beat the evil guys – you’re standard early 90’s action kind of thing. I’m giving it a strong 4 out of 5 – and would recommend this to anyone looking for a fun action film.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Rant: Avatar

Now that Avatar is out on DVD – the slow beating of the drum is going again regarding how it’s a “rip-off” of Ferngully, Pocahontas, Dances with Wolves... Blah blah blah...

Here’s a movie plot for you: A mad man holds a ‘something’ hostage playing a cat & mouse game with the hero. What film am I talking about? The Dark Knight? Dirty Harry? Fight Club? Die Hard?

Here’s another: The last hope for the world is found – one group wants to use it for good – another for evil. What movie am I talking about? The Lord of the Rings? The Dark Crystal? Children of Men? Fifth Element?

How about this one: So-n-so must reform their ways before it’s too late. Is that – Christmas Carol? American History X? It’s A Wonderful Life? He Got Game? Gran Tornino? Citizen Kane?

So-n-so’s reality is not what they thought it was: Wizard of Oz? The Matrix? Fight Club? The Sixth Sense? Alice in Wonderland?

All these movies I listed are considered pretty good right? Nobody’s bitching about these movies – are they?

Repeat after me: Originality is overrated.

Why do you think everything is being remade? It’s because instead of retreading a plot and calling it something else – you get the name recognition and peak the interest of people by throwing a known name onto it.

What was the last 100% original film you’ve ever seen? You can probably draw lines from any film to another. There’s several basic stories/myths that TONS of films follow. The real challenge in filmmaking is taking that basic plot and making it your own. Did James Cameron do this with Avatar? Yes. Can we please drop it?

No, because it’s the King Kong on the block – and people want to throw stones and find reasons to say they don't like it - even though they love Quentin Tarantino's originality. I don't care if you don't like it - you don't have to watch it - just don't think you're telling me something new when you insist that it's not "original" - because that my fitness friend is NOT ORIGINAL!

(Gorgeous Blu-Ray by the way for those of you who are interested in the technology...)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Blah Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans [2009]

A bunch of unlikable characters do a bunch of unlikable things - and I could care less.

I had high hopes - didn't come in thinking it was going to suck or anything - just wanted to see a good movie - but I can't say I thought it was all that good. I'm sure that for some people it's worth the hype - and that's great for them - and I won't ever try and take that away from them - but it just didn't click with me.

I couldn't tell if Nic Cage was going for an accent at times because his voice got really nasal at times - and at others times he sounded like Nic Cage. Eva Mendes was kind of okay - her argument in the one scene seemed like she was blatantly "acting" - not arguing which I thought was a shame. The plot was so-so - he kept getting over his head - and you thought "this'll be fun watching him get out of this" - then it unfolded and I thought "well, that wasn't as fun as it led me up to hoping". The drugs stuff was too Looney Tunes for me - I liked the trippy Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas - but this just came off as annoying - plus the characters didn't have the charisma to pull this off. I'm giving it a 2 out of 5.

[directed by Werner Herzog]

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Respect My Authority!!!

Funny, I don't remember Canada getting their collective panties in a bunch over the ribbing they got in the movie. Seems as though every other "group" gets a little miffed these days when it comes to Matt and Trey's "treatment".

Actually, I find it interesting that South Park has stayed relevant for this long - usually after a TV show puts out a movie it's curtains - but South Park has stayed strong.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Fisher King [1991]

The Fisher King [1991, directed by Terry Gilliam]

A self-centered radio shock jock Jack Lucas (played by Jeff Bridges) provokes one of his listeners – who takes the provocation as a call to violence – instead of just “shocking”. Three-years later the shock jock is still in a drunken stupor looking for redemption – when he comes across a homeless man Perry (played by Robin Williams) – who was a victim of the violent act he provoked. Jack thinks if he can help Perry – he karma will be right again.

It’s still one of my favorite Terry Gilliam films – yet in my most recent viewing I started to see some of the drags in the story – and it’s starting to feel more dated. I think the way Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges play off each other is spot on. Robin’s energy works well for a character that’s both whimsical and crazy – and as I look over my DVD shelf I’m not surprised that this might be the only Williams film found on it. I really liked how this film touches on several of the Gilliam themes from his previous works (to that point) – with the holy grail (Monty Python and the Holy Grail), the dark rider (Jabberwocky), the little person walking past the train station (Time Bandits), cross dressing (Monty Python’s Flying Circus) – and even a mental hospital which he’d feature later in 12 Monkeys.

The train station scene (which is a famous New York landmark and it’s name escapes me) is still one of the best scenes ever. So, I’ll still give it a 5 out of 5 – but it’s falling down a few notches on my favorite film list – as it’s not holding up on multiple viewings.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day

Went over to Rotten Tomatoes and typed in "Earth Day" to get a fun idea for a post for today - and I got some Halloween rip-off movie called Earth Day. Well, even I didn't find that funny or interesting enough to post. So, the next title down was The Day the Earth Stood Still - a fine science fiction film from the 50's - of course the remake was listed ahead of it - which I still dare not ever see. So, here's my lame Earth Day post... I'm off to recycle some of my electronics.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Top Vacation Hot Spots to Avoid

With the vacation and travel season just around the corner - I thought it'd be wise to point out some of the best vacation hot spots TO AVOID! This is a tricky list to consider because you are tempted to put down the worst places in movies - such as Hell - but unfortunately Hell isn't really a place anyone would like to visit (unless you are really into death-metal). So, I'm sticking with places that are considered - in their respective movies - places someone would want to visit on a vacation.

Honorary mention - Jurassic Park [1993, Jurassic Park] – The theme park doesn’t rank on the list simply because it never opened to the public.
Main draw – dinosaurs.
Main drawback – you’ll probably be eaten by them dinosaurs.

5. Overlook Hotel [1980, The Shining]
Main draw – beautiful hotel in secluded mountains of Colorado.
Main drawback – it’s haunted.

4. Delaware [1992, Wayne’s World]
Main draw – there’s a screen door factory.
Main drawback – there’s a screen door factory.

3. Delos Corporation Theme Parks [1973, Westworld / 1976, Futureworld]
Main draw – you get to act out your fantasies with realistic cyborgs.
Main drawback – the cyborgs will probably come to life and kill you.

2. Nilbog [1990, Troll 2]
Main draw – the country life – you get to live like your ancestors.
Main drawbacks – no grocery stores & you’ll probably be turned into a plant of some sorts and eaten by goblins.

1. Camp Crystal Lake [1980, Friday the 13th]
Main draws – gorgeous camping.
Main drawbacks – over the years hundreds of people have visited – most of them have been killed. So, there's a good chance you'll be murdered by the masked killer.

Did I miss a not so happening hot spot that you should avoid? Let me know!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

She Killed In Ecstasy [1970]

Upon my second viewing of She Killed in Ecstasy – I realized that my initial problems with the film aren’t as big of an issue – and the real enjoyment of the wild side of this film really comes out.

Dr. Johnson’s experiments to help the human race by genetically splicing fetuses with animal genes isn’t going well with the Doctor’s council and he’s banned and branded a criminal. Dr. Johnson goes into a deep psychological despair – and dies. Mrs. Johnson (played by Soledad Miranda) decides to take revenge on the council and seduce and kill each member.

What strikes me this viewing is how telling the opening monologue is as a reflection of Soledad’s life. I couldn’t help but think when she said ‘our time together was short’ and the conclusion – that it’s one of those eerie things an actor or actress says or does in their final performance just before their own death.

I thought Soledad’s performance was fantastic and intense – and so incredibly sexy. If she survived to do more films after this – I wouldn’t have been surprised if she got pulled away from Franco to do more mainstream productions based on the strength of this performance.

Franco is on his game with direction – keeping it equally psychedelic and playful. I always enjoy his single shots – his lack of fear of the zoom or the use of focus (or lack there of). It’s one of those great things that you are told you are not to do – but because Franco does it – he owns it as part of his style.

I still find the same flaws in the story – about how the doctors discover the note beside Mrs. Johnson’s first victim – and they don’t report it to the police – or even take heed and not be seduced by any strange woman. Without skipping a beat – Franco takes us from the scene where he’s explaining his theory (he plays a doctor on the council) – we see Soledad seducing the female doctor who was just listening to warning. I'm also not as impressed with the usage of the dynamite soundtrack - the theme just seems out of place with the strong horns during some of the scenes that feel like they need just a hint of music instead of the full blunt force.

You've also take into account this is legendary Jesus Franco who at this point had already made this exact film a couple times previously - but in She Killed in Ecstasy he's tweaking it a little. Unfortunately, he's lacking a serious budget in this version - and there's several elements that suffer - most notably Mrs. Johnson's final act. Given the history of Soledad though - I think a bumpy car ride instead of a massive crash is like good old Uncle Jess patting us on the head and telling us "she didn't suffer". (Yeah, I'm being pathetically poetic here - but whatever)

The pacing can feel off if you are not familiar with Franco’s style – he likes to have a lot more of the mental conflict be actually internal as opposed to being vocalized even if no one is there. Lingering shots of Dr. Johnson “suffering” and of Mrs. Johnson longing – can feel a bit out of place – but aren’t really.

I’m still going to give the film a 4 out of 5 though I enjoyed it more this time around – but not enough to call it “perfect” and give it the last bump. It’s certainly essential to my movie collection – and the Image “remastered” release is vibrant and beautiful upconverted on my Blu-Ray player – some of the close-ups – you feel like you could pause it and count the pores on Soledad’s face.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Rant: Troll 2

I needed this past week to recharge my creative juices – and for all of those who like to frequent this: the most popular movie blog on the internet – I appreciate you allowing me the time.

There was one other major reason why I needed to take a week off – and that reason was – Troll 2.

Please understand – this is difficult for me to write – as this film really hurt me. It’s like no other film I had ever seen before. Think that I’m exaggerating all you want – that’s fine – but it certainly feels real.

Normally, when people talk about bad movies they talk about box office failures, films that have overly ambitious people working with small budgets or just movies that make very little sense. Troll 2 was all these things – and quite a bit more. It left me thinking; “Was anybody really trying? And if they were – how scary is that?”

The vulgarity that this film was made in the first place makes it one of the most terrifying films ever – and I’m not speaking of the film – I’m just speaking about the fact that it was made at all.

Sure, Plan 9 From Outer Space was “bad” – but Ed Wood Jr. was really trying. He had ambition – and some studio resources – and he put his all into the film – and over all it was entertaining – so how “bad” could it be? Manos: The Hands of Fate was made with ambition but no budget by a fertilizer salesman in Texas – so there’s an excuse as to why the film was so bad. Troll 2 felt like a combination of the two – but without the ambition – or at least I think.

If there was ambition behind it – how do you explain what the secret weapon was? I have not been the same person since I found out what the secret weapon was. I’m pretty sure that once it was revealed – my soul split in two. Half was laughing – and half was so violent and destructive that it may have caused someone somewhere harm. My body is a shell of what it once was – and I’m speechless.

I worried ever since I saw Troll 2 that I was not going to be able to conjure up the will the not only write about movies – but to watch another movie. I’ve seen Monster A Go-Go, Manos, Red Zone Cuba, Transformers, Battlefield Earth, Freddy Got Fingered, Night at the Roxbury, Waterworld and countless other horrid films but not one of them has ever made me not want to watch a movie to wash-out my mind of the residue of it’s badness.

Troll 2 really hurt – and I don’t even want to go into why it was such a bad movie and “review” it – because so much of it is sitting there in the front of my mind hurting me. It’s simultaneously better and worse than it’s predecessor – which has flaws that are understandable and quantifiable – and a perfect example of a film that had better ideas than execution.

Don’t get me wrong – I thought the entire thing was funny as hell with how bad it was – the overacting – the plot – the special effects – the corn porn – the costumes– and the dialogue was something to behold! I think that’s what made it hurt even more! It’s like you are laughing while someone is torturing you.

I’m not going to rate it – I’m just writing this to reverse the curse and hopefully my old witty movie loving self will come back. But if I never return to being as entertaining as I once was (assuming I ever was) – it’s because I found the movie that broke me.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Not Feeling Special

I like collecting movies. I love going out to the video store’s holiday sales and pick up several for cheap (since I worked at the big chain – I know that’s when they have the good sales). Lately, I’ve been big on preordering via Amazon – I get it the day it comes out and usually at the market price.

I’ve always been weary when a new film comes out that looks as though will have an “extended edition” that will come out later – or a film is released with just bare bones and no special features.

So, when I heard that Avatar is coming out with just a bare bones edition – I thought – “no dice I’ll wait”. To me it’s a good enough film to have around for when I need some popcorn entertainment – and a special edition is coming later in the year – which includes all the wonderful bonus features and 40 minutes of additional movie put back in. THEN after that there will be a 3D version coming in 2011.

Then I really started thinking about it.

How often do I partake in the special features? I’ve got some disc 2’s that have never left the case – but I insisted on having them.

Did I enjoy the film that much that I may want to watch the extended edition with the added 40-minutes? It’s a long enough movie as it is!

Home 3D? I only tried it once – and it gave me a headache. PLUS, my TV is NOT big enough to REALLY enjoy all that was offered in the theater – which was an awesome experience.

Maybe I should just go with the regular edition and be happy with that? Or is this how they get you to spend more money?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Soledad Miranda

Why did you want to borrow those coasters, Soledad?

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Expendables [2010]

This little exercise has taught me that I'm not that "excited" about a lot of films coming out this summer - so I guess I need to repost this trailer.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World [2010]

This week - I'm going to be lazy - and just post trailers for the films I'm most "excited" to see this summer.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Island of the Honest Man (Desert Island DVD Picks)

To celebrate my 101st movie blog post – I thought we could all sit around and share your 101 favorite memories of your favorite reviews & rants. Yep... There was that one time I said something funny – oh those were the days.

How about I steal – and do a Desert Island DVD list – just like my buddy Hatts did?

What I like to do with these kind of lists is – not JUST take from my list of favorite films – because that’s no fun and it provides me with opportunities to make it different every time - and throw in some variety.

Hatts did 8 – so here’s my 8.

8. Man on Fire [2004, directed by Tony Scott]
I really like revenge films – and I don’t think I can leave for the island without a really great action packed revenge film. With Denzel Washington - one of my favorite actors leading the charge – and some memorable scenes of violence – this is my favorite remake.

7. The Lives of Others [2007, directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck]
I’m doing this list in reverse – and decided I really need a griping drama – one that’s just a ballet of great scene after great scene. It’s a thinking man’s thriller without the action.

6. Sex & Fury [1973, directed by Norifumi Suzuki – Panik House edition]
It’s got Reiko Ike and Christina Lindberg – which is enough for me! It also features one of the single greatest most beautifully shot action sequences that I have ever seen in Ocho’s nude sword fight.

5. Army of Darkness [1992, directed by Sam Raimi – Boomstick Edition]
It’s a fun action, horror, slapstick comedy – that delivers. I might be more tempted to take Evil Dead 2 – but all the best lines and Bruce Campbell at his finest in badassery kind of trumps out.

4. Rushmore [1998, directed by Wes Anderson – Criterion Collection]
It’s funny without the knee-slapping jokes – and endearing testament to being your self – plus it’s got the best soundtrack & Bill Murray!

3. Seven Samurai [1954, directed by Akira Kurosawa – Criterion Collection]
It’s an epic by all accounts. It’s an action drama – that just happens to be one of the single most complete and beautifully made films I have ever seen.

2. Little Miss Sunshine [2006, directed by Jonathan Dayton & Valarie Faris]
This is my all time favorite comedy – it’s a mix of bitter – but mostly sweet – and it never fails to make me feel great. No matter how messed up you are – it’s always best to be yourself.

1. Unforgiven [1992, directed by Clint Eastwood – the 10th Anniversary Edition]
This is my favorite film of all time – so it’s a no brainer grab for my trip. It’s a deep and interesting testament to the anti-hero of the Western – it’s dark – I would even argue that it’s supernatural.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Troll [1986]

It took me less than 15 minutes to absolutely hate everything about this movie except Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the fact that my life-long dream of seeing Sonny Bono turn into a pickle finally came true and the father and son are named Harry Potter (making this officially the worst of the Harry Potter films).

A troll takes over the body of a girl – then tries to take over an apartment building – then the world!!! But not if Harry Potter can’t cast his own spell and stop him!

Of course I watched this film so I wouldn’t be left in the dark when I watched what’s supposed to be the amazing Troll 2 – well my time would’ve better spent being blindfolded and kicked repeatedly in the shin. Plus, now there’s all this undue expectation placed on Troll 2 to make up for the hurt this film caused me.

Were they trying to make a kids film or a horror film? It’s PG-13 – pick a side of the road why don’t you? There was singing slimey puppets at one point – and a “good witch” who lived up stairs with her magic mushroom... Seriously, a magic mushroom?

Did the director say “as long as we can get the troll outfit looking great people will show up in droves to see this film!!”? That’s the problem with this film – it would be camp but it’s obvious that someone spent a shit load of money on that costume and it turned out really nice – and well... “Sorry, boss we ran out of money – we’ll have to wing it from here.” – “Fuck! I didn’t even hire a screenwriter yet!”

I was hoping everyone got eaten – but I must have been hungry and read the back of the box wrong – because it did not in fact say anything about anybody being eaten.

They are seriously going to remake this with Ali Lohan? Seriously? Was there a sale on vodka and they couldn't get Lindsay? Seriously? And you are going to keep the very same director and the Harry Potter names? Seriously? ... ... ... What is wrong with you people?

Well, other than the 3 things I did like – this was an piece of shit film – they should’ve had more Snape and less Professor Flitwick – and more spells and sorcery – isn’t that what Harry Potter is all about? Fuck... this film has got me bummed out – I can’t even find a good way of inserting a good Harry Potter joke.

I guess I should lighten up and enjoy Troll for what camp & cheese it does have - but I can't - everything about this film grates at me - and I truly hate this film - especially the style of acting - that 80's sitcom acting in movies pisses me off. Don't get me started about the kid actors! Crap on a shingle - they were obnoxious! This is the kind of film that Paris Hilton could "act" in and come away looking like she's got chops!

The plot is so repetitive that it makes feel like you're trapped in your own little zoetrope from hell! Kids act annoying - parents shrug their shoulders - troll emerges and takes over someone's apartment - big brother looks at little sister suspiciously - kids act annoying - parents shrug their shoulders - troll emerges and takes over someone's apartment - big brother looks at little sister suspiciously - repeat a couple more times - throw in a dash of "good witch" and you've seen it. Now, I plead with you - save your time - take a nap!

Even after all that - this dismal piece of the cinematic sewage gets 1 out of 5 – and though I would like to make it my first 0 out of 5 (a score I don't believe in) – I would prefer to hand that distinction out to a film that doesn’t grant me the wish of seeing Sonny Bono turned into a pickle.

[directed by John Carl Buechler]

Happy 100 entries - yay!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thirst [2009]

Though I love movies and horror films – I’ve realized lately that I don’t really like vampire films. I only really count 2 as favorites – and another on the fringe. So, I’ve put off watching Thirst for a while now – out of fear of watching a movie that I’m really going to dislike.

Father Sang-Hyun is feeling a bit unfulfilled giving last rites to dying patients – he decides to volunteer to help with an experiment to find a cure to a mysterious disease. The experiment is a failure – and he dies – and suddenly is alive again – back as a vampire.

What I liked about this film is that it doesn’t romanticize vampirism – even though the people who learn of Hyun’s affliction believe it’s the answer for their ills. It’s no gift to Hyun to live in this way – it’s a curse.

Putting a man of the cloth is the role of becoming a vampire is also extremely interesting. Hyun has such a heavy Catholic guilt that causes his reactions to some of his own actions far more realistic. The vampirism stirs up a beast within him – that’s not only thirsty for blood – but also sins of the flesh. You also run into some of the breakdowns in the typical vampire clich├ęs – like the crucifix and fangs ignored – making it not a fear of the unconverted foreigner – but a disease that can affect any.

The film also plays on the dangers of “good” – and because Hyun is a pious man – he’s used to doing the “right” thing – but given his new found corruption – it poses some very difficult problems for the newly fallen from the Lord’s graces.

The film is sexy and perverse – graphic and realistic – all of which that helped draw me into the film more. The effects of some of the vampire’s new talents – are well integrated into the film and don’t dominate the scene.

Chan-wook Park knows how to set-up a premise, knows how to tell a story – and is a fantastic director. My only problem is with pacing – the film feels like it drags a bit toward the end – and it just gets a little less interesting. That’s not to say I didn’t like the end of the film – which I did – I thought it ended in a bitter laugh that was quite fulfilling. That’s the other thing – he knows how to work in humor as a part of the story – and the dark humor in Thirst really works well.

So, I’ll be adding this film to my list of vampire films that I really like – giving it a 4 out of 5 – this one is even worth recommending to disenfranchised horror film fans.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Gentlemen Broncos [2009]

If I can teach anyone anything about movies this week it’s – “concepts are not movies”!!!!

Benjamin is an aspiring sci-fi writer – who’s already wrote several novellas and dreams of one day being able to help support his mother. He goes off to a writing camp – where he meets his hero - the writer Chevalier – who’s actually struggling to come up with any relevancy these days. When Chevalier reads Benjamin’s story – he decides to plagiarize it – and it becomes a hit.

Sounds like a pretty interesting concept doesn’t it? Well, there’s only one problem; there’s a PLOT and CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT that goes along with it!!! Oh no!!! Somebody ruined a “concept” and actually made it a story! Somebody better call up Will Ferrell and tell him to put on a funny outfit and start screaming at people!

That’s right – Benjamin has a driving force behind him. He wants to do better for his mother – he wants to pay tribute to his father with his writing – he wants to be an author and be taken seriously – all of which are realistic, well defined and attainable within the premise of the film. Ben is a realistic character in how he acts and reacts to the strange set of characters this movie is based around. Actor Michael Angarano brings a very solid believable base to the character and he is excellent in the role.

Everyone else in the film is wacky as bugnuts – which works because we have a solid believable likable character in the middle of it all to follow – and it’s his story so we are not dividing our time on weak subplots. Jemaine Clement plays Chevalier with a funny voice – but that’s fine it’s either that or talk with his New Zealand accent – which would sound a bit funny anyway. Sam Rockwell as Bronco/Brutus (the character in Ben and then Chevalier’s story) plays it over the top – which is fine because he’s meant to be a fictional character in a crazy sci-fi world.

All the other strange characters – that only Jared Hess (creator of Napoleon Dynamite) would dream up – are odd, nerdy, over-the-top characters – but they work because they are icing on a well-developed cake plot.

The movie goes back and forth from Ben’s real life – to Ben’s sci-fi story – to Chevalier’s version of the story – and it’s done with ease. It doesn’t feel forced – it feels there to help illustrate that Ben wants to be taken seriously – and also helps highlight the subplot where Ben sells the rights to a friend so they can make the movie version – making it 3 different takes of the sci-fi novella in this film.

The special effects are top notch – you get the feeling that Wes Anderson is kicking himself for not thinking up this film first. They are whimsical and entertaining – yet cheap and cheesy.

I see that I’m getting off on a praise tangent – well – I’m not going to proclaim this to be an amazing film. It’s fun – and compared to the two “concept” films I saw before it –this is amazing. It does get to be a little too much to bear at times – especially since they throw in a few poop jokes and a barf joke (which could’ve really stayed out of it).

Overall it’s an enjoyable film – one worthy of your attention if you liked Napoleon Dynamite – and I’ll walk away giving it a 4 out of 5.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I Sell the Dead [2008]

Repeat after me my fitness friends – “concepts are not movies”.

This film is about...

Okay maybe it’s not that obvious – young Arthur Blake is apprenticing to become a grave robber with Willy. They soon discover – over the MANY years they spent doing this - that selling corpses to doctors (looking to advance the cause of medicine) isn’t providing them with enough money to purchase all the ale they want – so they decide to start selling the undead.

My problems with this film start in the very beginning. Ron Perlman – who may be a fine actor in some people’s eyes – can’t pick an accent. He starts muttering everything from English, to Scottish, to Australian, to Irish accents – when he should’ve just stuck with an American accent – because it certainly would NOT have detracted from the quality of this film.

Then my other general beefs with this film start flowing like water. Ron’s priest character whose taking down Arthur’s last words – writes so slowly and unbelievably – they should’ve stopped showing him scrawl because it made no sense and became a distraction. Then the clever dialogue exchanges between any number or characters made me think of Quinten Tarantino – and how he waxes on about nothing out loud in his scripts. The only problem is – Tarantino eventually gets to a point – where in this script – they talked because it sounded cool.

Here’s an actual bit of dialogue that almost made me shut off the film.

“You want to dig narrow. You don’t want to dig too wide neither.”

Clever way of saying the exact same thing – and filling a script with what must be clever dialogue.

The movie will pause time to time and turn into a comic book illustration – I’m not sure as to why – but I really wish it didn’t. They are adding fake style to go along with their “clever” dialogue.

Riddle me this Batman - why would anyone stay in this business of grave robbing if it doesn't pay? Why not just become cobblers, bartenders, stable boys, soldiers, beggars - whatever? How they are graver robbing and never getting dirty? Who's paying for the undead after the doctor they are working for is killed by the first one they discover? Who buried the alien? Why can't you stick with a plot for the entire film? Why did I get the feeling Buffy, Angel and Doctor Who all passed on this weak ass script? Why did this feel like one of those old 70's failed TV shows that get edited together with a couple of extra scenes added to make it into a movie????

They wanted to make a Sam Raimi film inspired by Quinten Tarantino – but the problem is they didn’t get past the clever concept of it all. “What if grave robbers stole the undead?” – well you might get a muddled up piece of garbage like this – or you might want to decide what the characters are all about – what their motivations are – then come up with a simple plot – THEN threw your nifty little concept onto that – then it might work.

I’m giving this one a 2 out of 5 – because I didn’t watch the final half-hour (that’s a pity point) – because I was playing The Sims 3: World Adventures.

[directed by Glenn McQuaid]

Monday, April 5, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine [2010]

I had a very specific plan to watch this film – and though the plan worked out just the way I wanted it – the movie still disappointed.

The film is about...

From the look and sound of the previews of this film – you have to ask yourself if this is going to be a lowest common denominator comedy – where the cheapest of the cheap jokes come out – or is it going to surprise much like The Hangover did with its “smart” dumb humor. Well, it started to become pretty apparent from the beginning of the film – once we were introduced to the Lou character – that we should abandon all hope – ye who enter here – because here comes the clown hammer.

I grew up in the 80’s – and lived through every day of them – but not as much as some people apparently. I’ll never understand why people are so hung up on remembering that decade. Sure, pop culture cheese was oozing through the streets – but isn’t it time we got over it as a culture? It wouldn’t be the 80’s if we weren’t mentioning Michael Jackson, Ronald Reagan, MTV, cocaine, hair metal bands, leggings and neon – all but one of those things are dead and it’s losing to meth – so can we please move on?

I think we should invade North Korea - and once we take it over - everyone who wants to live in the 1980's can live there. We don't have much contact with that country anyway - and considering how Kim Jong Il is such a big pop-culture nut - he might turn over the keys to the country and make the 8o's-topia. Everyone can enjoy their Motley Crue and Ally Sheedy there and leave us out of it!

John Cusack does the typical John Cusack performance – in the typical John Cusack role – which reminds me why I’m not super impressed with John Cusack. Never heard of Rob Corddry – and I realize it’s because I don’t like Will Ferrell or his low brow – I’m-shouting-because-that’s-what-makes-it-funny films – now that I’ve been exposed to him – I know to avoid him.

I like Craig Robinson and Chevy Chase – and I’m glad I get to see them in intelligent and FUNNY comedies every week – just wish I didn’t see them in this film - even though they were the best part. I didn’t get the feeling they were scooping from the bottom of the barrel all the time to get their laughs - though Robinson reached. Clark Duke as Jacob was also pretty good - and Crispin Glover kind of stole the show from all of them.

One thing that constantly bums me out about films these days - is the continual usage of concepts to sell films. Concepts aren't movies - they aren't stories - they aren't plot - they aren't character development - they are concepts - they are like the butter on your toast. If you cannot come up with a story, characters or whatever - it doesn't matter if you come up with the greatest concept in the world - it's not going to work. If you want to eat straight butter - go for it - you'll get fat and sick.

Fart jokes, poop jokes, barf jokes, boob jokes, blow job jokes, male nudity jokes, penis jokes, butt jokes, singing as a joke, set-up/punchline jokes... Yep, you get them all right here in this cleverly packaged piece of cinematic blah.

Don’t get me wrong – I laughed my ass off – but that was only because my plan worked - nothing chemically induced just a little self awareness. After it was all done though I had an icky feeling and ended up I feeling cheap and used. I can’t give this film anything more than a 3 out of 5 - and that's a hesitant rounded up 3 – and if I ever watched it again – it’ll get worse.

[directed by Steve Pink]

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Brick & Mortar Stores Become Even More Useless

So, that was a big mission failure on my Saturday goal of finding the Troll/Troll 2 double feature DVD in order to enjoy the corniness of Troll 2. The alarming thing I’ve found though while I was searching was how so many of the usual suspects for finding DVD’s have slashed their DVD collections down to almost nothing.

Borders – was down to half of their previous stock. Best Buy – down to maybe a third of their previous stock (they didn’t even have genre sections). Even Blockbuster had just a couple rows of new movies for sale.

Wal-Mart – where I knew I saw this double feature in the cheap-bin - still had a ton of DVD’s – but their collection is more of the same new films. If I ever wanted to pick up a $5 copy of Old School – I know where to go.

The one place that I know always had it – was Circuit City – but they mismanaged themselves out of business. I remember seeing it there all the time – and I would laugh because I never thought I would actually want a copy. I can't believe I'm missing the day of the overpriced Sunset Video, Tower Records and other JUST CD/DVD stores.

I got the “we can order it” comment from anyone who’d ask if I was finding what I was looking for – but I can order it myself. It’s called Amazon – they are the bomb. Despite my love for Amazon – it doesn’t do me much good to order it – if I want to watch it now.

I won’t blame Blu-Ray – as it’s still growing in popularity – and the store’s collection of those still pale in comparison to the now meager collections of DVD. I will one day blame Blu-Ray for the crappy transfers on films that really don’t need the “treatment” – like Troll 2.

So, my fellow reader(s) – have you been noticing the “encouragement” from the actual brick-and-mortar stores to use the internets for all your movie purchasing needs?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Best Worst Movie [2008]

You know, this is one of the reasons I love movies.

A REALLY bad book is a book you stop reading.
A REALLY bad song is a song you don't want to hear again.
A REALLY bad movie is a movie you can watch again and again - and it can bring you hours of entertainment.

Today, I wake up with the goal of finding my very own copy of the film this documentary is based on - and laughing along with everyone else.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder [2009]

The Wong’s are planning a giant put-put golf course that threatens to take out 12% of the Milky Way as well as a very special planet that could be the key to all life in the Universe – and it’s up to Fry, Leela and Bender to stop them.

They said when the plan was put forth to bring back Futurama in straight to DVD movie form – that they would put out the strongest story first just in case they get shut down again. So, does that mean in this their final straight to DVD movie – that this is the weakest story? Yes. Yes, it does.

First off – it’s apparent where the episode break is – as the first third of the “film” has very little to do with the last two-thirds. It’s like an episode tacked on to draw out the “film” so it can be “feature length”. Plus, the whole cast doesn’t all spend enough time together – doing their usual hijinx – which is disappointing if Comedy Central didn’t pick up the show again and we weren’t getting new episodes shortly.

The plot revolves too much around Leela’s Femi-environmentalist group – and Fry’s secret society – which keeps their story from wrapping up in a nice tidy bow. Bender got his own mini-story in the beginning with seducing the Don-bots dame – which didn’t he do before in an actual episode or something? Then Bender teamed up with Brannigan – to double-cross his best friends then turn the tables on his own double-cross (a classic Bender move – but not unexpected – hence I spoil that surprise here w/o fear). Farnsworth is left with the b-crew – of Amy, Hermes, Zoidberg and Scruffy (you know - the janitor) – but those characters are like flavoring for the other three to play with – so nothing interesting happens there.

It’s got a good positive eco-message – that wouldn’t be so overbearing if the crew was together – but with each character having their own thing going – it felt completely overbearing and boring (where’s Al Gore’s cameo – wasn’t he in all the other 3 Futurama “movies”?).

There was a few good laughs – but nothing that’s as memorable for me to stand up and tell you “good news everybody” – but since that’s usually followed by bad news – maybe I should be saying it loud and clear?

I guess – I’m not really all that mad – and the annoyance of the “movie” dissipates with the knowledge that this weak-ass piece of space junk isn’t the last we see of the Planet Express crew. They left the door open nicely – though Fry shouldn’t have told Leela that he loved her in the final seconds – because now it feels like they tried to wrap it up last second with the piece of crap story – instead of still crossing their fingers that they had a deal in the works.

My first viewing I was equally perplexed by this “movie” – but I gave it a 4 out of 5 – this my second viewing – I’m going to stick with that rating – and hope that it becomes one of those episodes that I need to watch several times to really appreciate. (Though it’s more along the lines of a 3 if I was rating it like I rate everything else)

[directed by Peter Avanzino]