Monday, December 28, 2009

Review: Underworld (2003)

Written in 2008.

There are some things in this world I just flat out despise, and one of them is this movie. I've referenced its magnitude of terrible-ness in other reviews and even in every day conversation, but I figured it was time I owned up to all that and reviewed it to see exactly what I thought of it now, three years after I first attempted to watch it, and fell asleep in trying to do so. I mean, surely it can't be as bad as I figured at first. People like it, right, so it can't be that terrible, can it?

Nope, I was right after all; this is every bit as bad as I thought it was, and then some. I know there's a market for this kind of sissy, black-wings-and-trench-coats, blood-drinking Gothic crapola out there, and that is why Underworld succeeded in the first place, but anyone with taste can safely avoid this. People say it isn't as bad as this review claims, but it is, and it's filled with enough atrocious acting and played out cliches that I was reaching for the barf bag at fifteen minutes in. Never in my life have I seen such a hideously monotonous film, and I've sat through more bad horror movies than I care to admit!

The first thing wrong with this is evident almost immediately: where is all the color? Why is it always nighttime and raining? I mean, sure, it's London, so it made sense for a little bit, but there is NO INSTANCE OF DAYLIGHT AT ANY POINT IN THIS MOVIE. It is ALWAYS NIGHTTIME. Why? There's no reason for it, no logical explanation. We're just supposed to sit here and accept that it's always dark in this world, which still has regular, sentient human beings in it, too. Do you think they ever wonder where the sun went? Imagine how horrible that must be for them. They should have just made the movie about that. I would watch a movie about that; imagine the possibilities. No boring vampires or half-assed werewolves at's like a paradise compared to this movie, and we're not even ten minutes in yet.

And another thing you might notice is, the acting sucks. Kate Beckinsale is pretty hot, but ye Gods, is she ever wooden in this. She is constantly wearing this blank, misty, ominous expression with her eyebrows furrowed and her lips ever so slightly pursed that just screams "I'm so dark, tormented and angsty, smell my black nail polish as I write my woes on Facebook!" She would be the worst actor here if not for the presence of Shane Brolly, who tries to be menacing and convincing, but mostly just comes off as a whiny douche, if I'm not mincing words. The other actors all give relatively terrible performances, but I think Brolly takes the cake for making me want to slap him silly every time I see him. He actually looks the part, it's just when he opens his mouth that he stops being credible as a villain. Pretty much every single line he spouts comes off as bitching, moaning and whining on a global scale. It is grossly intolerable.

There was this one scene where the writers seemed to realize this, and had Beckinsale's character clock him in the jaw after he tried to boss her around again (as he had been doing for the last hour and a half or so). I think it was the only good scene in the entire movie. Nothing else made me crack a smile, at least.

While I'm on the subject of the actors and their performances, what is up with the characters in this movie? All they do is argue, scold each other and generally talk down to one another. I can count at least four or five separate incidents in which a character dismissed another character with nothing more than a simple "Leave us." This sort of boring, one dimensional hostility is just unappealing and un-entertaining. Who wants to watch a movie where none of the characters interact in any kind of profitable way? This is so boring that I'm having a hard time even describing why. Is it that hard to write dialogue that is decent enough to tie the scenes together? God damn.

So, with that in mind, how about the plot? What is this movie about? It can be summed up in three words: Vampires Versus Werewolves. Oh, sure, throw in a plot involving some sort of magical "awakening" and an age-old war, and some romance, but it's really just about vampires versus werewolves. It's kind of cute that they seem to think the audience cares about their half-assed plot, but that is all ruined by the fact that they made a sequel to this garbage a few years later, and there is a third one of these cinematic nuclear bombs on the way down the shithole, too. My God, what have we created?! Anyway, though, the plot is thin at best and ludicrous at worst. I think the main thing wrong with it is how the writers created this whole universe behind our eyes without answering some vital questions: is this taking place in our time-line, or have there been serious alterations (i.e. is it just the same as our world, except with vampires and werewolves, or did the vampires and werewolves have some impact on its development)? Why don't we see more of the humans, and how they react to the bloody mayhem being caused all around them? The amount of background characters used here is shockingly low, and it would be much more believable and acceptable if this movie showed more civilians and every day people amidst the constant barrage of unbelievable plot holes that is the blanket of night and rain thrown over this. Where did all of this futuristic technology come from? If you're going to make such a complex and unrealistic set-up for a movie, at least have the balls to follow through with it and explain everything, you lazy assholes!

At one point, Scott Speedman's character shouts, "What the fuck is going on?"

I can only reply, "I wish I knew."

Even beyond all that, though, Underworld is just boring as Hell. It can't keep my attention for more than a few seconds at a time, even when it tries to be all action-y and fast paced, but that is all boring, slowed-down Matrix-wannabe crap anyway. A lot of this movie is just talking, and although I am not one of those morons who can't stand more than a few minutes of that in a movie, it's just terribly written. We, the audience, are supposed to sit there and try to digest these reams of dialogue as the characters spew them out, line after line of cyclical talk about some vague "war" and "awakening" and a "party," and a lot of angry, brooding talks and shouting about how "Kraven is not Viktor," and other mundane, useless things that we cannot grasp at all, but nothing that is actually interesting or engaging. Did they really think we'd gravitate to this tampon-starved political angst in the least? I really hate movies who substitute a plot for meaningless politics and the crutch of Fantasy. It is lazy and shows no effort at all on the writers' part. If you want to  put this shit in your movie, guys, at least try to make it interesting! Did you even care, writers? I kind of doubt it.

The elements of the film that are not fabricated in a dense wall of "plot" are always extremely cliche ones that have been borrowed and re-used throughout history, and it's all so lifeless, the romance especially. We've got a woman who likes a man who she isn't supposed to like, thus causing a rift between her and her tribe. Hm, that doesn't sound at all like Romeo & Juliet or Pocahontas, does it? There is a plot twist at the end that could have been lifted from Star Wars. It's like watching a bad Harry Potter fanfiction attempting to mimic Shakespeare at the same time. Seriously, it's like the worst Gothic vampire story ever written by a fourteen year old Myspace kid ever turned into a movie. No substance at all.

This movie is just ridiculous. The plot is phoned in, the acting is terrible, the characters aren't interesting, and the writing is just awful all around, and can you believe this shit took three people to pen down? It took three people to construct this melodramatic, feces-slinging Holocaust on the film industry. It took three people to write a movie that thrives on a plot so thin that it is transparent, and it took one director to tie it all together. This is basically just two hours of ass-fisting mall-goth mania, and people liked it. God, I hate this movie. The ending sets it up for its sequel, but the next time I touch any movie with the Underworld label on it will be never. If you never see this movie, it will be for the best.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Review: Santa With Muscles (1997)

I...just don't even know where to start. Santa with Muscles. That awkward title just about sums this movie up. Hulk Hogan stars in this little trainwreck of cobbled together plot devices, family movie cliches and bad acting, because haven't you always wanted to see him in a Christmas movie? It's like an early Christmas present! This movie is so bad that it actually placed on the IMDb bottom 100 list. Does it live up to that great badge of shame? Let's find out.

This movie is a undoubtedly retarded in nature, a slow-moving train on an inevitable crash course off a bottomless cliff. It starts out with a little girl writing a letter to Santa Claus about how the orphanage she lives in is about to be evicted by this strange group of scientists who are clearing out the neighborhood. The film then cuts to Hulk Hogan, playing a quote-on-quote "evil millionaire" named Blake Thorne who spends his time getting into overblown kung-fu fights with his personal staff, complaining that his picture on his products needs to be "even bigger" and...doing random Evil Kinevil stunts and shooting paintballs at police cars. Why? Because...I guess he's a millionaire and can get away with it. Oh, and the police apparently have rocket launchers, because there are so many reasons for small-town cops to be carrying rocket launchers around.

So he runs into this mall to hide where coincidentally, a bunch of kids are clamoring to see Santa, who is...missing. Some lady tells an elf played by Don Stark that he has to find the guy playing Santa, so he starts looking. Hogan dresses up as Santa in record time, as the cops were apparently so close on his tail that it wouldn't normally have been possible for them to NOT catch him before that, but I digress. They see through his disguise, chase him into a garbage chute where he gets hit by a large Santa replica falling down from above and loses his memory. This begs the question as to why he doesn't just give up and let himself be caught, as he is a millionaire and could definitely pay the bail, but again, I digress. Don Stark steals his wallet, intending to take money off of it in a truly un-funny and unmemorable running gag throughout the film, and the two become fast friends.

The rest of the movie unfolds with silly, over the top kung fu action, complete with candy-cane jitsu and all sorts of stupid shit, and quieter scenes at this orphanage where there are only three children left. One of them is played by Mila Kunakis, in a decently acted role that still amazes with the fact that she got a career after a movie titled Santa with Muscles. Hulk believes he really IS Santa Claus for most of the movie. Can you smell the hijinks yet? With Stark trying every step of the way to make sure Hulk can't find out who he is, because, you know, that would ruin his get rich quick scheme, the stench is downright suffocating. Just witness the Hulkster's acting talents, too; he sounds about as excited as a cardboard plank half the time!

But that isn't enough to make this movie really suck. Noooo, we haven't been introduced to the villains yet. It is really hard to believe what you're watching when you see these clowns; they are ridiculous. Billed as "scientists," they come out with one guy dressed as some kind of safari ranger, a woman dressed as a weird sort of leather dominatrix, and a guy with big buck teeth and a neckbeard that could pass as a Star Trek nerd. They're led by another guy played by Steve Valentine, whose fantastic acting roles as the photographer in Spider-Man 3 and the Funerary Undertaker in the new Christmas Carol movies will no doubt inspire young up-and-coming actors for decades to come. He is somehow working for another guy played by Ed Begley Jr. How does that hierarchy work again? They want to clear out the neighborhood to mine the powerful crystals underneath the orphanage - because of course, all suburban neighborhoods have powerful crystals hidden underneath them that nobody knows about except for evil, uh, scientists (???). I just have this huge hang-up that any of these people could possibly be real scientists. They're NOTHING like any scientists I ever saw! They're more like X-Men rejects, with gadgets like electric gloves and poisonous gas, or something like that. Scientists? Yeah, and I'm the reincarnation of John Lennon.

There are a lot of really bad puns and one-liners and jokes abound, including Don Stark wearing bunny pajamas at the beginning. How much do you have to pay a guy to sacrifice his dignity like that? And Hulk's Santa getup looks like something you would see in a bondage film. There's even one scene where Hulk gets thrown out of a clock-tower window or something by this automated robot that somehow grabs onto him. Good god, this movie is about as funny as colon cancer!

The end of the movie involves the kids and the workers at the orphanage getting kidnapped by the...scientists...and Hulk remembering who he is and getting his staff together to go save them. Apparently, even though he bought a whole team of guys, Hulk goes in figure that one out...and kicks the bad guys' asses all by himself. It is then revealed that he and Ed Begley Jr.'s character were not only raised in that very orphanage, but were also best friends! Who...forgot that they were raised there...and forgot that they used to be friends...somehow. A good guy and a bad guy sharing a secret past that they don't remember? It's like this movie is taking all the standard cliches and making them even dumber than usual.

So yeah, they beat the bad guys, blow shit up and steal that house the bad guys were operating in, and what did we learn? Absolutely nothing of value. This film is devoid of any kind of rational human logic. From the title alone you know it's going to suck. The plot is just stupid, the holes are gigantic and the humor is unfunny and corny beyond belief. But I have to be fair: it really isn't as bad as some people make it out to be. It's a relatively harmless film and it is kind of fun to watch, albeit mostly in spite of itself. Nobody could make a movie like this and be the least bit serious about it, so the least we can do is not get worked up over it. The main problem is the fact that it could have been a lot stupider, a lot weirder and a lot funnier. As it is, Santa with Muscles is dumb in a forgettable kind of way, being just weird enough to make you wonder what the fuck is going on, but not weird enough to make you laugh most of the time. This was almost B-movie gold, but unfortunately it turned out to be fool's gold.

Review: Halloween II (2009)

God dammit, can't you assholes just let this franchise die? I was pretty kind to the un-scary remake of the first Halloween movie, but this one is just terrible. I hate this movie so much that I can't even come up with a clever way to kick off this review, so let's just dive in and get this castration of horror cinema over with:

Apparently Laurie Strode is now a punk-rockin' chick who swears in every sentence and wears her hair in a rebellious frizz. She has a tattoo on her lower back and posters of Alice Cooper in her room. Did Rob Zombie ever watch the original films at all?

Dr. Loomis is a sassy, sharp-tongued old goat who makes large profits off of the exploitation of Michael Myers. He quotes basic, elementary Psych 101 Freud quotes in trying to explain Michael's condition and mentality, and at the end he supposedly has this change of heart and decides to, uh, act like the real Dr. Loomis. The writing in this is about as deep as a goddamn wading pool! Watching Malcolm McDowell playing this character is about as gratifying as having teeth pulled. With a fucking wrench.

The movie plods along, with a few moments of actual decent horror spliced between annoyingly asshole-ish character writing and ass-fisting dream sequences that seem to be trying to turn the movie into one of Zombie's music videos. One in particular in the middle is so bad that it will probably make you wish you had no eyes. There are a lot of bloody, gory kills in the first half of the movie, but it just isn't fun anymore. It's pointlessly over the top and bloody, and Zombie's psychotic "charm" is completely gone.

There's this weird, pointless "theme" running through the movie about a white horse being the symbol for violence and rage, or something like's pretty hollow and meaningless, and is not in any way ominous or creepy. Sheri Moon Zombie makes another appearance as Michael's mother, and it shows exactly how original and endearing Zombie is these days, as, you know, this plot device isn't in any way similar to how Jason Voorhees saw the ghost of his mother in the Friday the 13th films.

Rob Zombie was rushed in making this, and it really shows. His usual formula of white-trash swearing and gorehound-pandering is sloppy and not at all as entertaining as his previous works. That along with the terrible writing make this movie a pain in the ass all around. There are still a few moments of intrigue where I was actually wondering what was going to happen, but fuck, this is terrible. It's a recycled pile of horror cliche that offers nothing new or exciting to the formula, except a bucketload of annoyance at how bad they botched up the iconic characters. It's possible that Rob Zombie may recover from this and go on to make another decent or good movie, but the Halloween franchise's epitaph is pretty deeply carved: Some hack director will vomit out another safe, gory, uninspired trip down slasher lane that will prostitute the Michael Myers character and everyone else in the franchise out for another two-hour paycheck in his pocket. Fuck me sideways, I think we found a worst movie of the year.

Some Introduction

This is a blog which I plan to use for a multitude of purposes, the least of which will be putting forward my brand of long-winded reviews and speeches. I decided I needed some place to store it all, and what better place than this? It's positively perfect. What kinds of things will I put here? Just wait and see. You might not think you care yet, but you do.

Trust me.