Monday, May 30, 2011

How the thought process for "On Stranger Tides" went...

OK, Colin already did a great review of this movie, but I saw it too, so I’m just going to echo most of his thoughts with this brief reimagining of how the “thought process” for this “epic masterpiece” probably went. Enjoy.

The setting is Hollywood, a land of plague, fire and death, where volcanoes erupt every 2.7 minutes and kill most innocent civilians unfortunate enough to be in the area. A DEVIL HORNED EXECUTIVE is speaking to his MINION, who grovels before his gigantic ebony throne, humbled in his presence.

DEVIL-HORNED EXECUTIVE: We’re running low on money for our Olympic-sized pools, gold-plated Chevrolets and deluxe-edition DVDs of the Rush Hour movies. What kind of torture can we mass produce on the public next?

MINION: Well, we already have a Transformers sequel in the works…about a dozen superhero movies being produced as we speak…I’m all out of ideas.

DEVIL-HORNED EXECUTIVE: Well, think of something, fool, before I have your hands fed to the leeches again!

MINION: Not the leeches!


MINION collapses into a near-catatonic state of fear. DEVIL-HORNED EXECUTIVE snaps his fingers, and he snaps out of it immediately.

MINION: What about that other series? You know, the one where the actors quit and we couldn’t get their contracts re-signed because of that damned loophole?



BOTH turn towards camera, unblinking.

DEVIL-HORNED EXECUTIVE: Alright, call Johnny Depp. Bloom and Knightley may have escaped, but fortunately Depp’s contract extends for many more years. He still owes us at least 3 more Tim Burton movies in which he will have to dress up in some kind of comical makeup. And call Geoffrey Rush. He’ll probably do it for free as long as we give him more peanuts.

MINION: Yes, master. But what of the rest of the cast? We’ll need mostly new actors, you know.

DEVIL-HORNED EXECUTIVE: We’ll need to stick as closely to the formula of the last three as possible. We don’t want to do any actual thinking with this. We must remain as piecemeal as possible! That’s the true secret to filmmaking, dear Minion – do as little work and produce as much money as you can. I think throwing in a beautiful but oppressed young woman and a virtuous and attractive yet bland male character to have a contrived and soulless romance together will be fine. That way people will be distracted from exactly how little material we have for Depp’s jokes AND we will appear to have emotional depth!

MINION: But what about the plot?!

DEVIL-HORNED EXECUTIVE: Oh, that’s not important at all. Throw in some half-assed mythos vaguely related to pirates and people will cheer and call it delightfully whimsical escapism.

DEVIL-HORNED EXECUTIVE walks over to a giant jar filled with folded pieces of paper, closes his eyes, sticks his hand in and pulls one out to read it.

DEVIL-HORNED EXECUTIVE: Make it about the Fountain of Youth. That ought to do it even though it has little to do with anything in the last three films. Don’t worry too much about writing. As long as Depp gets to wave his fingers around, mug for the camera and scream a lot it should be OK. It doesn’t even matter if the plot makes no sense at all.


DEVIL-HORNED EXECUTIVE: No, no, wait…that’s not nearly convoluted enough. People might actually end up enjoying the film that way. Add in some crap about Blackbeard – he was a pirate, so he fits in this movie. If you need an actor, go twist some thumbs until you get a seasoned veteran who will likely be greatly embarrassed afterward. Get him drunk first or something. And we need a third plot thread, so have Blackbeard have a daughter who once dated Jack Sparrow. And have that be as comically back-and-forth love-and-hate as you can get, because if there’s anything the Pirates of the Caribbean series needs, it’s “borrowing” from Judd Apatow’s idea of how people in relationships act. I’m so brilliant it hurts!

MINION: I know!

DEVIL-HORNED EXECUTIVE: WE JUST MADE A MOVIE WITHOUT HAVING TO PUT ANY REAL EFFORT INTO IT AT ALL! Our wallets are safe for another day. Now get some of the lesser people on the planning for the fifth movie. OFF WITH YOU!

MINION slinks off to do his bidding…

REVIEW: Air Force One (1997)

Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Starring: Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman

"Get off my plane!"
-President Harrison Ford the Almighty

So it’s Memorial Day. The sun is shining, the flags are raised and we’re all remembering exactly what it means to be an American. And what am I doing? Well, I figured I’d do my part by reviewing a movie like Air Force One, so imbued with that good old presidential spirit that it casts Indiana Jones himself in the role.

Yes, this is the movie with Harrison Ford as the president, and I have to say the concept intrigued me. Hell, it's what they were banking on - just look at the cover; right under Ford's name they put " the president of the United States." It’s a shame they just didn’t really do a whole lot with it. His character is rarely ever elaborated upon and mostly his only trait seems to be that he cares about his family more than he cares about domestic politics, as is evidenced by several decisions he makes in this movie. Mostly I just never really bought that he was the president. He was just acting like Harrison Ford here, and although that's always a plus...I was hoping for a little more immersion into the presidential life. We see him do a few president-like things, but never anything that really comes out and screams I AM THE PRESIDENT. And so we're mostly just left with another great Ford performance, which is nothing to sneeze at anyway. But it could have been more.

Another thing that bugs me about him is that HE’S BARELY IN THIS. For the first hour or so you barely see him at all! It mostly focuses on the businessmen and Gary Oldman and, well, pretty much everyone else but him! There’s one particularly annoying scene at about 45 minutes in where there’s something really important and gripping going on and the film keeps cutting back to Ford, in hiding, trying to figure out how a computer works. It’s meant to be funny, but mostly just comes off as trite.

As for the plot; well it’s an action flick. It’s pretty much set solidly in the Die Hard mold, and it doesn’t have any ambition to get out. The titular jet is hijacked by a bunch of terrorists led by Gary Oldman, who wants a jailed political leader released from prison to do more of the good anti-American work. There are lots of nasty things said about America by the terrorists, but it’s OK, since Ford and his band of political businessmen are pretty clearly the good guys. I have to say this is mostly pretty transparent and not really dealt with in a very interesting way. A lot of the middle part of the movie just kind of slags along with self-important talking and rather plodding action scenes in the cramped plane, usually involving someone creeping around with a gun, shooting at doors. Gary Oldman does a good job, but like in The Professional, the writing for him just isn’t very good, and although he injects some venom into the proceeding, his character gets old pretty fast. Was this just a trend for him in the 90s?

I did like the Vice President, played by Glenn Close – she had some very nice intensity to her performance. And Harrison Ford was pretty cool when he finally got some screentime in the second half of the movie, with some solid action scenes. Mostly this movie is just worth watching at all for the climax, which involves some really great build ups and some truly terrifying moments where Ford ends up dangling hundreds of feet in the air as the Air Force One goes down in smoke. That’s just awesome, and I wish the rest of the movie could have matched it. It is pleasant, though, and there's just something charming about it that prevents me from actually disliking it. So maybe that's a good sign.

P.S...this movie was directed by a German? That's some great national intermixing we've got going. A German filmmaker telling a story about Americans and Russians. That's just wonderful. I love the modern age of communication, where everyone knows what's up with everyone else. It does strike me as a little less appropriate for a Memorial Day review now, but...hey, it's still about America; shut up.

Twelve O'Clock High (1949)

Starring: Gregory Peck, Hugh Marlowe, Gary Merrill
Director: Henry King

Based on the novel of the same name by Sy Bartlett and Beirne Lay, Jr., the film (after two brief scenes in the "present day") starts out in 1942 England, where the American 918th Heavy Bombardment Group is suffering heavily losses against the Germans during World War II. It is determined by Brigadier General Fred Savage, played by Gregory Peck, that the unit's commanding officer, Colonel Keith Davenport (Gary Merrill) has become too emotionally attached to his men, making him reluctant to criticize or endanger them in anyway and thereby inadvertently hurting the 918th as a whole. Davenport is released from duty and Savage takes over in order to get the men to develop the mentality needed for war and to put in their "maximum effort". Despite intense resentment from the group at first, he wins them over as their performance begins to improve and their fatalities go down. He also receives a lot of help from the Group Adjutant, Major Harvey Stovall (Dean Jagger) and a few of the 918th's best combatants. As the war goes on, however, tragedy becomes inevitable, and even the tough and disciplined Savage starts to develop the same problems as his predecessor. To make matters worse, his psychological health begins to deteriorate as he find out for himself just what putting in your "maximum effort" really means.

I was looking for a word to describe this film, and I finally settled on an appropriate term: "honest". I say that because it does an impressive job of portraying the two unfortunate correlating aspects of war: the cold-hearted but necessary tactics that are needed to win and the horrific emotional costs that are inflicted on those who fight it. Savage does not believe that his men are like toys being carelessly tossed around in a sandbox, but he also knows that the only way that any of them are going to get out of this conflict alive is if they set aside their personal attachments and fears and focus on their importance to the unit. At the same time, the war takes its toll on Savage as more of his men are wounded or killed (he personally flies on a number of the missions and witnesses a number of their deaths first-hand). He puts up a brave front, but it becomes clear that no matter how well you plan your strategy and how determined you are to preserver, there is no denying the fact that war is, in fact, hell, and there is no way of getting around it.

Overall, it is a really solid and well-balanced story-line. It may not have as many action scenes as some other war movies (though the ones it does have use real footage from Word War II), but it excels in showing what goes on inside the minds of the fighters themselves. While this is pretty common place nowadays (it is almost required for movies about Vietnam), this is the first time I have seen this technique used for a WWII picture that was made when that conflict was still fresh in a lot of people's memories and I give the filmmakers a lot of credit for taking on such difficult subjects as mandatory sacrifices and post-traumatic stress disorder, which is not mentioned out loud but vividly shown onscreen. In addition, it has a great cast, particularly the always-enduring Peck and Jagger, who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance (I admit that I mistook him for Karl Malden for almost the whole film, though to be fair they kind of look a lot alike).

This is truly a classic war film and I recommend it.

Happy Memorial Day.

I do not own the rights to the poster above; it is being used for entertainment purposes only. Please do not sue me.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Hangover: Part II (2011)

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis
Director: Todd Phillips

Here we go again...

The Wolfpack is back, and they are once again having to retrace their steps after a not-so-unforgettable night. Phil, Stu, and Doug (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis respectively) are in Thailand to attend Stu's wedding, but things go airy when they wake up in a shady motel in Bangkok and find that the groom's future brother-in-law (Mason Lee) has gone missing. They go out to look for him, and in the process get into all sorts of shenanigans, particularly when a returning Leslie Chow (once again played by Ken Jeong) and a cigarette- smoking monkey (Chrystal) get involved.

There isn't much more I can really say about this movie. I mean, I can, but it would involve spoiling a bunch of the jokes. So I will just say that it is both entertaining and funny. It's not quite as good as the first one, but it's fairly close; not bad for a sequel. I guess my only criticism is that it's basically the same movie as the original. Obviously, the specific details are different, but the basic story-line is practically identical. But to be honest, this really didn't bother me that much. After all, it's a comedy, which tend to be less dependent on their plots and more on the jokes they provide. And the filmmakers managed to make it interesting enough so that even if you have some idea of what will happen next, you will still look forward to it.

Well, that's pretty much it. If you liked the first film, you will like this one, but I also recommend it in a general sense as well.

I don't own the rights to the poster above. It's for entertainment purposes only. Please don't sue me. But you can sue Leslie Chow; he's cool with it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

REVIEW: Survival of the Dead (2009)

You know…I am very rarely surprised. Few things manage to truly shock me. But this film…oh, this film has managed such a feat. People paid money for this? People actually sat through this movie in the theater without foaming with rage? The producers actually put their names on it? George Romero…oh, God, man; what happened? I…I just can’t…

Alright, I’ve got to collect myself. It is my duty as a film reviewer to, well, review the movie I just sat through. Even though the film in question made me physically sick, turned my bowels to ash and probably scarred my psyche for life…I must persevere. This is Survival of the Dead.

Director: George Romero
Starring: Alan Van Sprang, Kenneth Welsh

"There's nothing wrong with my children."
-The hopeless pursuit of delusions

Last year I reviewed another George Romero gemstone titled Land of the Dead. It was a terribly incompetent, stumbling, pretentious mess of a movie that pretty much made me want to throw it into the incinerator. But I guess I decided I hadn’t punished myself enough yet, because here I am reviewing another one. Hey, kids; who wants to see a great horror director from the old days putting out embarrassing and senile junk that will only serve to completely destroy his entire legacy once time only remembers these films?

Well, too bad.

The movie begins like all great zombie films do, with pretentious narration, by a guy who is clearly delusional enough to think that we want to hear what he has to say. He gives a bunch of statistics about how many people die every year - yeah, good job, you can use Wikipedia. Do you want a medal? We then cut to an island about a week after the zombie plague first started – oh, good; I was waiting for a generic flashback sequence cut-and-pasted into the movie’s pacing like every other film ever made these days. I’m glad this movie has my back.

So, yeah, apparently there’s a bunch of idiots who go around like they’re hunting witches in Salem, trying to kill off zombies. They are lead by an insane old man named Patrick O’Flynn, who keeps arguing with his daughter about the danger of what they’re doing. They approach a woman and her husband, whose kids have been zombified, but the parents don’t want to give them up. The woman says that her kids are completely normal.

Someone call child support!

Uh…no, lady. No, they’re not. If you have to keep your kids handcuffed to their beds…they’re not normal. I don’t know how I can say this any plainer.

So there’s this whole thing with this other group of gun-toting rebels, this time fighting to save the zombies. There WAS a zombie rights activist group; I was right in the Land of the Dead review after all! But seriously, this is stupid and I already went over the reasons why in the first review, so let’s just move on. There are MUCH worse things to talk about in this review! Basically what happens is that the leader of the other group makes O’Flynn leave the island for his crimes, although his daughter and most of his followers stay behind.

Then we see the narrator and his army-camoflage-suit-wearing buddies, and we can tell they’re badasses because they’re wearing those clothes. Great characterization there, movie. One of them is watching this TV show where a guy says the following joke: “Why are zombies good at giving head? BECAUSE THEY EAT ANYTHING IN FRONT OF THEM!”

Sad as it is, this show is probably more entertaining than the movie we're watching.

…this joke might seem relatively harmless at first, but just remember that it was given the thumbs-up by the same man who once delivered such witty, cutting-edge social commentary as Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. Now he’s making jokes about zombies giving head. I think this is the point where you’ll all agree with me that the film takes a plunge off a cliff. I’ll give you a moment to weep.

Done? OK. So they all come across this other group of mercenaries, and our leading John Leguizamo stand-in finds that they’ve stuck a bunch of zombie’s heads on pikes. After killing them mercifully, because he is a pious soul, the Leguizamo stand-in and his buddies all slaughter the other mercenaries…why? Well, clearly it’s because…no, wait. I got nothing. There is no reason they should have killed these guys. They do pick up an annoying kid with slicker hair than many 90s emo kids, though. I guess that’s payment, especially because all he ever does is say witty and hilarious things to lighten the mood. Which is tantamount to having a clown walking around at a concentration camp. An unfunny one, at that!

Tonight, the All-Head Choir, everybody! I think they're gonna perform "Don't Stop Believin'" next.

Oh, wait, did I mention that they’re not even called zombies in this movie? They’re called deadheads. Because apparently Romero got so drunk that he couldn’t even remember the name of the horror movie monster he himself popularized so long ago. That’s the level of incompetence we’re working with here. It’s so bad that it’s like if you had a vampire movie where they were called ‘bloodheads’ or something, or a werewolf one where you called them ‘fangheads.’ How is ‘zombie’ not a perfectly OK term?

Sigh. Then we see a fisherman saying he’s got a big one, only to pull up a zombie from the water. He shoots and kills it, pulling back his fishing rod only to catch another zombie from the completely opposite direction. This isn’t like one of those crane games, you know. The main characters eventually arrive only to find that they’ve been set up for a trap by that old guy from the witchhunting zombie-assault squad at the beginning, who has lined the road with dynamite. How did they drive up intact in the first place and not blow up? I don’t know, and neither does the movie.

"He doesn't have gills, but I'm Asian. I can eat him anyway and my digestive system still won't be any worse for it!"

What follows is pretty much a Looney Tunes cartoon. I’m not even exaggerating; it’s like a really bad Looney Tunes cartoon. Don’t you just love how they can throw a bomb at a building and have it only blow off the front of the building and lightly singe the people inside? Or how about when one character lights a stick of dynamite and hands it to a zombie’s arm through a crack in the door, then slams the door shut? You know what, forget this; I’m just going to show you Looney Tunes videos. It will be much more productive and interesting than this fifth generation decadent ripoff.

The characters all end up traveling to the island from the beginning of the movie, which is now ruled by the other guy from before, who is called Muldoon. Muldoon apparently likes killing the living and trying to preserve the zombies in case there’s ever a cure. O’Flynn expresses great anger over this, and vows revenge. Then they all sort of split up, where the lead tough chick is kidnapped quite easily, even though she should, by all accounts, be able to fight back, given that she’s part of a special squadron intended to fight off zombies. But nope; once some guy grabs her from behind, all her strength magically disappears.

Meanwhile, there’s another plot going on with O’Flynn’s daughter, who apparently is now a zombie, as they see her riding a horse around like she’s still a human. But it’s OK, because she comes and saves the Leguizamo stand-in after he faints due to being shot, or something. And it’s revealed that the zombie they saw on the horse was actually HER TWIN SISTER. OH MY GOD. CALL M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN, WE HAVE PLOT TWIST OF THE YEAR.

Yeah, I bet Preakness is just pining to get this chick on their roster.

But seriously, her twin sister? You create all that drama and almost have something interesting going by having the daughter be a zombie, and then you just ruin it by saying it was her twin sister the whole time and she’s actually OK? What kind of cheap cop-out is that? Imagine if the Coen Brothers did that in No Country for Old Men. Llewellyn supposedly gets it in the hotel room, but then it turns out it was just his twin brother the whole time, and the real Llewellyn comes out and kills Chigurh and saves the day, and it all ends up happily. Wouldn’t that just be SO MUCH BETTER than having all that pointless drama and interesting plot in the mix?

I’m sorry, this just really bugs me. When was a twin sister mentioned? There was nothing in the opening scenes about her. It just seemed like it was O’Flynn and his one daughter; no other family. So why the stupid plot twist? What purpose does it serve? I’ll tell you – none at all.

So meanwhile, in a contest for stupidest plot ever written in a horror movie, we see the kidnapped chick listening to Muldoon talk. He says that he’s just doing the Lord’s work as he tries to keep the zombies alive, but then, we saw him earlier walking around like a common dictator and calling the zombies retarded, so…I guess this is Romero’s flimsy attempt in this film to try and introduce more social commentary about such RIVETING and EXCITING topics like the hypocrisy of the Church. But it doesn’t work, because I doubt more than 3 minutes of thought between the daily paint thinner-inhaling sessions was really given to any of this.

They kidnap the entire rest of the group by holding the kidnapped chick up in chains as a bunch of zombies swarm around her, and I have to say I don’t get this plan at all. Their plan was to hold her hostage and then threaten her team with the prospect of her being eaten by zombies? Even though the good guys could easily just come in, kill the zombies, save her and then kill Muldoon and all of his followers? Yeah, not exactly very logical, movie.

Oh no! It's not like our heroes have WEAPONS or anything they could be using to save her!

So Muldoon has O’Flynn’s other daughter, the zombified one, locked in a pen, and says that if she eats something non human, she will possibly turn back into a human…? Oh yeah, if zombies eat healthy, I guess, then they’ll be cured! Why didn’t I think of that? It’s like the undead equivalent of a vegetarian bar at a buffet.   

Then one of Muldoon’s guys tries to leave him and join the other side, to which Muldoon takes it very well by SHOOTING HIM IN THE LEG. Nice going. Real devotion to the True Word of God there, you hypocrite. You know; I finally figured out why this doesn’t work as social satire. It’s because for it to be social satire, it would have had to be actually witty and actually try to establish some sort of continuity and structure to it, some sort of underlying message to the joke. This is just poorly written, amateurish slop. It’s the equivalent of having a guy stand outside wearing a sign that says I HATE THE CHURCH, and calling that highbrow satire. Heinous.

So some guy who probably should have been beaten up more as a kid lets out the zombies from their cage, apparently thinking it will help solve the problems going on and, uh, NOT get everyone killed indiscriminately. Fortunately this guy is not in charge of anything. Muldoon and O’Flynn have their final showdown where Muldoon says that all he ever wanted was to hear O’Flynn say that he was wrong about everything and that Muldoon was right. What, is this a second-grade playground?

What this movie basically amounts to in the end.

I mean Jesus, this was Muldoon’s real plan all along? He really talked about all that God crap just as a front to get back at his old enemy in an immature personal quibble? What sense does that make? How did anyone go along with this plan for a second? Were they all brainwashed or something?

People…I am tired of this review. I am SO tired of even thinking about this movie, even acknowledging that it exists. So, not to spoil anything, but about half the cast dies, including the only living daughter, Muldoon, O’Flynn and lots of others who wouldn’t be any good to the human gene pool anyway. The movie pretty much ends with a shot of the zombies eating a horse with one of the other losers voicing over it and saying that maybe Muldoon was right all along, and maybe eating something non-human WILL turn them back into humans.

Oh yeah! Let’s listen to the insane nutjob who brainwashed a whole island of people into believing that it was God’s will to keep the zombies alive just so he could settle a score with his old enemy! Truly HE knows what he’s talking about! I don’t think the zombies are the brain dead ones in this movie, people.

Really, I’m at a loss for words – I just don’t get this movie. What audience were they appealing to? It’s not funny, it’s not scary, the characters are half-formed lumps, the story is confusing…what were they trying to do with this? It doesn’t really accomplish ANYTHING except confusion and disgust, and those two things together are NOT what you want your viewers to feel after watching your movie. Unless it’s a Lars von Trier film. But I digress – this is a bad movie, people; plain and simple. There’s simply nothing about it that makes it worth watching. Not even one scene. But hey, at least…well…nope, actually I can’t think of a ‘but;’ this movie is awful crap made for gibbering retards with no taste, and that’s that.

You should be ashamed of yourself, George Romero. ASHAMED! I’m going to come and give you a piece of my mind…right after I’m done showering to wash off the uncleanness from this movie. Yergh.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Marine 2 (2009)

A Review by Christina Soto


Roel Reiné

I was planning on reviewing Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl but, decided on another movie that I found while rummaging though my movie collation: The Marine 2, Staring WWE’s own Ted Dibiase.

Yes, The WWE has decided for some reason that the first Marine (staring another wrestler named John Cena) made some money, which they had to make a sequel! Just another trend that the WWE has, besides making stupid story lines and bland wrestlers.

I find myself shaking my head at the sheer stupidity this movie will entail. Just by looking at the box cover, it looks like some kind of generic action film from the 80’s or something, which should scream undulated BADASS. But, sadly not. It looks like Ted’s about to cry here.

Oh, what are we in store for today, folks?

So, the movie opens in a third would country with a boy picking up a gun and pointing it at a little girl, who then lefts up a super soaker and the two start to have a water gun fight. SYMBOLISM! Then the camera pans to a near by roof top where two marines are waiting. Here we meet are hero: Joe Linwood and his black friend: Token.

The reason they are there on top of a roof in a third world country is to stop an arms deal with TERRORISM! Nothing really happens, and Joe has to decide to take the shot or not. So, he kills one of the Terrorist that and some how kills another terrorist when he wasn’t hit. What happens next is an action scene where grenades explode like 500 pound bombs! GRENADES DON’T WORK THAT WAY!!!

So, after the gunfight, the two then turn and try to run, but the boy from earlier gets shot. Joe then tries to save the kid, but they can’t stay or they both would be killed, so they leave the boy to die. One poor transition later we find our hero at the marine base and talking to he wife Robin, who has the role of plot device in this abomination. After talking about a resort where her boss is hosting a V.I.P party. And here is where we get to see Ted’s bland acting, but don’t worry it about it now; it just gets worse. It’s so bland, the movie starts the next transition to the next scene, where our plot device and Joe arrive on some random island.

And we get to see some more bland acting but from the other actors… nothing really happens in the next few scenes besides getting to meet plot device’s asshole boss and more nothing much… I kind blank here. Ted’s acting like a piece of wood on screen; I‘d rather watch paint dry.

Soon the two deiced to wander around the resorts almost as if this is some sort of comical for a Sandals resort. Hmm, anyway the two head off to a random shack to try and do some snorkeling where they meet the owner of the shack, who I will refer as Mr. Snorkel. plot device and Mr. Snorkel exchange a few words while Joe stands in the background trying to blend in, but failing as Mr. Snorkel asks him about him and they exchange a few words before he deice he had enough of Joe’s bad acting and ditches them in a cove, where nothing happens.

I don’t know why I’m here at all.

Next scene takes place later that night, where we see a bunch of books written by plot device’s boss . I hope this doesn’t mean anything. Soon plot device and Joe meet with her boss, who bitches about reporters and plot device chews him out and then the does some more talking. Wow; this movie is bland. The talking stops and they start to watch fireworks that seem like they’re for the WWE as a rocket zooms by and hit of a guard towers, causing:

Embarrassing, just embarrassing.

As the terrorists storm in, taking the party goers as hostage; plot device’s boss confronts one of the terrorists, and asks:

“Who are you and what do you want?”


Boy, terrorism is the best.

Joe tries but in vain to stop the terrorist only to get knocked out.
plot device, the boss, and the rest are taken hostage and dragged to some other part of the resort.

With Joe, he wakes up to find himself waking up with Mr. Snorkel who fills him in on what happened. But, fortunately for Joe, the terrorists decided to make their ransom public over the internet, because of some shit about “The West is Evil” and if they don‘t get their ransom, they‘ll start killing people.

Joe tries to act mad; failing that, decides that storming in is the best way to save his wife, but Mr. Snorkel tries to convince him otherwise. However, he fails, and the while scene is rendered ENTIRELY POINTLESS. So, he ends up on a military post where a band of mercenaries are about to head in a carry out a rescue mission.

With the terrorist, the boss tries to negotiate with the terrorists to stop killing the hostages. The leader of the terrorists agrees; he then turns to his brother and stats “All is going as planned”

Just as planned; but way more stupid than this.

We then returned to the post, where Joe is trying to help in the operation, but is told they didn’t want him or his wooden acting messing things up, But negotiator tells him he may be useful and send him along, he follows the mercenaries, almost getting himself shot.

All ready there they let him tag along, but then he ask for a gun the mercs shrugs his shoulders handing him the gun waiting to see WJR shot himself with it instead he shows off his leet skills and heads shots one of the terrorist guard, somehow earning the mercenaries respect. Now feeling more like a Call of Duty rip off, WJR and the mercenaries wad through the small pool and here a sound and find some of there man have been killed and find there is a spy among them who have led them into a TRAP!!!!

Damn, I don’t even want be here.

And yet another gun fight ensues, making this the third in the entire movie. Now we cut back to the terrorist being terrifying… that’s it. These scenes with the terrorist are pointless and drag on forever.

After another pointless scene, we see Joe talk with the mercenary leader who says the traitor was bought off and how that’s how the life of the mercenary is. He then gives him his gun. Nothing else happens here besides Joe’s bland acting.

Later he finds Mr. Snorkel, and asks for help. At first he refuses, but with Joe’s bland acting, Mr. Snorkel agrees to help. Driving to the cove then leaving him to sneak around for about ten minutes! Killing only one man! Boring!

Finally, Joe stops sneaking around and engages two of the terrorists in a gun fight before killing one of them and torturing the other for information with his bland before running off. And another gun battle ensues.

Back with the terrorists, the leader terrorist kills the one terrorist who was tortured. Sucks to be him.

Back with Joe another gun fight happen but this time, he gets hit. But, instead of going down he runs toward then and engages in Kung Fu! Ted being the winner.

Back with military post, the negotiator is sent to retrieve the hostages, but military dude say it might be A TRAP!!!

We cut back to Joe who made his way closer, to where the hostages are and started to set of fire works to lure out the terrorist (which works some how) and he sneak the hostages out.

But, the lead terrorist realizes something wrong and recaptures the hostage plus Joe. We soon find out that the negotiator was the spy all along but it really doesn’t as soon he is blown up and the rest of the hostages are led away while Joe is left to be killed by another random terrorist. Sigh, when will they learn. They can’t kill Joe or his wooden acting. So, he manages to kill the random terrorist and finds the hostages, but waiting for him was lead terrorist’s brother.

Another battle ensues, but this time it looks like Joe might not make it out, but Mr. Snorkel comes to save the day, he shots the young terrorist in the head and help get the hostages. But, plot device is not among them, she’s with lead terrorist. The Head terrorist then blows up the resort and runs off.

Joe then chases after them only to be lead to the docks and another fight scene. Then the tables are turned when the lead terrorist start chasing Joe, soon they return to the docks where the have a final fight where Joe hits lead terrorist with a harpoon and kills him.

Joe and plot device reunite in a touching moment, when the not dead terrorist who says he is not the last and soon there will be more. Joe, not liking lead terrorist ruining his moment, blows him up as the movie ends.

And that was the Marin 2 and it was bland. The acting was forgettable; the actions scene came and went. THIS MOVIE IS BORING.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

REVIEW: The Return (2006)

Director: Asif Kapadia
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Peter O'Brien

"Where you going, sunshine?"
(Repeated line)

You know, having Sarah Michelle Gellar in a horror movie takes work to pull off. Because once you put her face in there, you KNOW all I’ll be able to see is Buffy, and I can’t buy Buffy being so weak as to do nothing but run away and scream weakly like she does in a lot of this movie. I mean, at least this isn’t The Grudge. But it’s still not what I’d expect from, you know, Buffy.

However, in the interest of not letting a good actress be typecasted forever, I have decided to review this film more fairly, as it is not bad, and deserves at least a little bit of praise. People, this is The Return.

Now, first off, yes, that is a very pedestrian and unassuming title. That could be about anything. This film, though, is about a girl who works as a traveling salesperson and goes around to different places because she can’t bear to stay in one place. She ends up in her hometown, though, where weird stuff starts to happen at quite an alarming rate. She then decides to stick around, with the help of a mysterious stranger, to try and figure out what exactly is happening to her.

The story itself is pretty generic and it’s nothing we haven’t seen before, but there were some very good atmospheric moments and scares in this one. The setting of a desolate Texas town is a popular pick for a horror movie setting for a reason. Here it is used to its fullest effect, with hard, noir-ish lighting and dusty roads and empty houses giving off some seriously cool, creepy vibes that horror fans won’t want to miss.

Sarah Michelle Gellar and her co-star Peter O’Brien both tend to be a bit murky in their characterization – like the writer just wasn’t sure where to take these characters. They’re sometimes likable, but other times they’re just not all there, like they weren’t fully completed. It’s kind of distracting.

But what will keep your attention are the scares. I don’t know what it is – the stark, bare-bones directing, the atmosphere, or what – but some of the scares in this movie just hit like bricks, they’re so good. Like there’s one part where Gellar takes off this thing covering a mirror and sees the reflection of someone completely different staring back; very nice effect there. Or when she gets in the car only to look back and see a younger version of herself buried in the back like some hidden corpse, staring up at her with wide eyes. Creepy.

Again, it’s not a great movie, and the story is a bit lopsided and odd at times, maybe not fully formed, but it has a good atmosphere and some good scares. And for that it’s worth checking out, especially if you really dig these kinds of modern ghost stories.

REVIEW: Leon: The Professional (1995)

Director: Luc Besson
Starring: Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, Gary Oldman

Mathilda: Is life always this hard, or is it just when you're a kid?
Léon: Always like this.

Excellence. The Professional is a 1995 action film that has a plot that’s been done many times both before and after. But when it’s done this well, you won’t find me complaining. This is a good, timeless story, and it’s carried out with grace, power and weight.

A big part of this is due to the actors. The film’s tryst of leads – Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, Gary Oldman – all do awesome jobs and really act their hearts out. I think Portman might even be my favorite. I’ve never seen her act this well – not even in Black Swan. She plays a young girl who lives in a crappy apartment with her crappy misogynistic, seedy wart of a father and her family, half of which isn’t even really related to her. When they’re all killed because the father botched up a drug deal (including her little brother, who she does love), Portman seeks revenge and decides she wants to become an assassin.

This character is just wonderful, bringing out all the good and bad of a preteen girl (Portman was very young when she did this role). The scenes in the beginning where she interacts with her family are all very real, as they fight over the TV and shout at one another in a way so coarse and so real that I felt kind of uncomfortable watching it, just like I would if I was at a friend’s house and this kind of thing was going on. There’s one bit where she calls up the school for troubled kids that she’s enrolled in and poses as her mother, saying that she (Portman herself) is dead. That’s depressing. But I also think it really shows the kind of melodrama and over the top angst that a girl at that age usually has.

But she wouldn’t be anything in this movie without Jean Reno, who plays a quiet, reserved hitman named Leon, who lives in the same hotel that she does. When her family is killed, she begs him to take her in, and when she finds out he’s an assassin, she goads him into teaching her how to kill, too. Now, this character isn’t really that original – he’s been done before. The relationship is pretty reminiscent of Terminator 2, with Schwarzenegger and the kid, as well as many other action movies. It’s a very traditional story. But Reno really sells his character, and I found his wide-eyed innocence coupled with the stoic demeanor endearing. He really seemed like the kind of guy who was good at his job but didn’t want to be, like he was forced into it by unfortunate circumstances.

Oldman is…well, it’s Gary Oldman, you know the kind of character he plays, because it’s the same character from The Fifth Element (another Luc Besson movie) and from Book of Eli – a weird, over the top, sadistic madman. Does he just have a quota for these kinds of roles that he has to meet or else they’ll fire him? He does OK here. I found him very entertaining, but his character didn’t have much development and wasn’t one of the more interesting parts of the story. By the end, when you start seeing him more often, he sort of brings down the atmosphere and makes the whole thing more generic.

The directing is powerful and sweeping, with everything falling into place like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. There are emotional parts and action-packed parts, and they come together quite wonderfully. The movie is basically about the common bonding between two people and how they help one another. It touches on themes of friendship and humanity – there’s a running thing about how pigs are better than humans because they don’t cause any harm or violence to others. This movie isn’t going to change anyone’s life, but it does tell a good story and does it well. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, Geoffrey Rush, Kevin McNally
Director: Rob Marshall

So is this what I have been reduced to on this blog? Reviewing bad sequels to action movies? *Sigh* Let's get this over with...

Johnny Depp is back in his iconic role as Jack Sparrow in this fourth (that's right, fourth) addition to the "Pirates of the Caribbean" film series. Picking up where the last one left off, we find him on a quest to discover the Fountain of Youth. But he is not alone: he is joined on his journey, whether he likes it or not, by Barbossa and Gibbs (played once again by Geoffrey Rush and Kevin McNally respectively), as well as an old flame named Angelica (Penelope Cruz) and her father, the legendary Blackbeard, (Ian McShane).

Ok, I'll be fair; it was actually pretty decent. The biggest problems of the two previous sequels were that they had an overstuffed plot (the movies basically had a two-part story arch) and too many over-the-top, pointless action sequences. This film, on the other hand, is much more sensible, with a generally straightforward and interesting story-line and with action scenes that are dramatic but do not feel forced. It actually brings to mind the first film. The new cast helps as well; Cruz and McShane do well in their roles. Depp and the rest of the returning cast, meanwhile, have been playing their roles for so long now that they kind of had to be good.

But you don't want to hear me praise it; you want me to tear it to shreds. Very well...

From a logistical standpoint, there are a few problems with sections of the story. Blackbeard is shown to have magical powers that can bring any ship under his control. So why does he need a crew at all? Can't he just sail the ship himself? Another plot hole which is not as prominent but far stranger (no pun intended) takes place at the end: the Spanish military, which is on the same mission as Sparrow and co., reveal their intentions on what to do about the Fountain. I will not spoil the "surprise," but believe me when I say that their reasoning (or lack thereof) is really, really, really bizarre and makes no sense whatsoever on any level of sanity. There is also a subplot involving a missionary (Sam Claflin) and a mermaid (Astrid Berges-Frisbey), a half-hearted attempt replace the Will Turner-Elizabeth Swann relationship of the previous films (as if it were necessary) that contributes only a minimum amount to the plot and for the most part appears pointless. That is, unless, they decide to make a fifth movie, God forbid.

I guess my biggest overall criticism of the film would be that, despite the reboot, it still feels kind of old. As I said, it brings to mind the first film, but that's both a good and a bad thing. The bad part is that when you watch it, it feels like it's really...average. It's not that there are no new ideas being put in play and it didn't really drag at all (though one or two parts go on a little longer then they should have); it's just that there does not really seem to be any reason to care. I know it sounds like I'm being very ambiguous, but it is just difficult to put it into words. Maybe the last three films have drained the franchise of its vitality; maybe there was another reason that I didn't pick up on. Whatever it is, it's there, and it is difficult to get away from it.

In my opinion, the original "Pirates of the Caribbean" is the best and is frankly the only one that is actually worth seeing in terms of its relative entertainment value. Everything that has come afterward has mostly been time-wasters. As far as time-wasters go, however, this isn't too bad. It's a little difficult for me to recommend it outright, but it would not really harm you if you did see it. You may even genuinely enjoy the movie. Just don't set your hopes too high.

I do not own the rights to the above image; it is for entertainment purposes only. Please do not sue me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

REVIEW: Rumpelstiltskin (1995)

Director: Mike Jones
Starring: Plot Holes.

“I’ve NEVER had a baby in my car before!”
-Mr. Tye-Dye Hawaiian Jamboree Madness

Sometime in the late 80s after the slasher horror genre was already established, there were movies that had silly characters posed as serious slasher villains, although under a more sarcastic guise. Like Child’s Play and Leprechaun! But who knew that years after those movies, there would be a mid-90s ripoff called Rumpelstiltskin, taking the Leprechaun formula and…completely ripping it off, word for word, except with an even DUMBER premise than the film it’s stealing from! When will these movies learn? When will they learn that making the same thing as the original only worse, and stupider, just doesn’t pay?

Oh, right, except that the director of Leprechaun is the same guy who directed this movie. Well, at least he has an excuse for making the exact same thing over again only worse and less interesting…oh, wait. No he doesn’t! Let’s get started reviewing Rumpelstiltskin.

The movie starts off in the worst Monty Python sketch you’ve ever seen, with what looks like the Green Goblin:


…carrying a baby to this rock with a whole horde of villagers chasing him with torches and stuff. When they catch up to him, they bravely stand around him in a fearful circle, pleading for the baby’s life…wait, that isn’t brave at all. I know he looks scary and everything, but seriously, you’ve got like fifty people all around him! How can he be that hard to beat? I mean it’s not like he can tear out peoples’ eyes or anything…

Oh, well............shit.

So they call in the world’s most stereotypical witch – seriously, she’s got messy black hair, warts, black clothes and everything – who turns him into some kind of petrified green turd, and so he rests for hundreds of years under the sea.

Seriously, that thing looks like it smells something AWFUL.

We then transition to the only logical thing to transition to in a 90s movie, RAP MUSIC! Two cops are driving along in their car talking about stupid bullshit like what they would call themselves if they were famous. Charming, but it mostly just makes me want to beat them with hockey sticks. They stop at a store and the white one’s wife calls on the phone to talk to him. They talk about more boring crap like what she wants him to get at the grocery store – isn’t this just riveting? – but this is soon quickly interrupted by a random middle-of-the-day mugging, which would be a brilliant case of attacking people when they least expect it…if there weren’t COPS NOT EVEN TWO FEET AWAY.

Seriously, guy; how dumb are you? That’s like trying to cheat on a test when you’re sitting right in front of the teacher’s desk. They have a shoot out in which the director decides to make everything mooooooooove increeeeeeeediiiiiiibbbbbllllyyyyy slooooooooooowlllyyyyy…like you know those humorous over-exaggerations in cartoons where one character melodramatically shouts “No” and it’s slowed down to ¼ the speed so his voice sounds a lot deeper? That’s what they do here. Real great build up of tension, guys! Why don’t you try adding in cartoon sound effects to your next fight scene, too? I bet that’ll REALLY get us pumped up!

So the husband dies, although he does take the mugger with him as well, leaving his wife and unborn child behind. We fast forward to sometime later when the kid has already been born and the wife still grieves over him. Her friend comes over and offers to take her someplace to surprise her and cheer her up – an occult magic shop. Yeah, that’s the best place for someone mourning the loss of a loved one to go for fun! She must be related to the chick from Old Dogs who thought it was a good idea to ask a date out to a funeral grieving group. Oh the joys of human relations!

The wife makes a very odd decision to purchase the petrified turd that was once a baby-eating monster, much to the chagrin of the old wrinkled witch-lady who probably could have just hidden the thing, or stashed it away somewhere, ANYWHERE other than the FRONT OF THE STORE where ANYONE COULD PICK IT UP. What a dumbass! So she makes a wish that she could share a night with her husband, cries conveniently on the statue – must be one of those water-resilient ones – and goes to sleep, only to wake up and find that, surprise surprise!, her husband came back to life to screw her in bed again. Just like every man, all he ever needed her for was the sex apparently, because when she wakes up the next morning…

They never look as good the morning after...

That’s right, the little Leprechaun-wannabe that is Rumpelstiltskin is back in his place. He chases her around the house a little and demands the baby if she can’t guess his name. He doesn’t like being referred to as ‘son of a bitch,’ and so he says he’s going to kill the baby! But she runs him over with a car and then it’s OK again.

So she stays with her friend for a while and they all read about Rumpelstiltskin, finding out the popular legend that he was an evil creature who took your child if you couldn’t guess his name. Apparently the legend targeted the Miller’s daughter, which is CONVENIENT because that’s also the maiden name of the wife! Wow, movie; just had to have that extra little coincidence in there, didn’t you? So even though they know his name now and could stop this whole movie in seconds, they don’t do jack shit. They could stop this whole thing in a second and save everyone’s lives, but no, because I guess they just REALLY dig the suspense. Maybe they’re just…waiting for the “right” moment. Or maybe it’s like a medieval version of Voldemort, “He who shall not be named.” Or else you’ll get warts on your tongue or some shit.

"How DARE you compare?"

Either way it’s stupid. She runs out of the house with her baby and they quickly shack up with a guy who looks like a walking billboard for Hawaii. She demands a ride and gets in his car without asking, taking the baby with her, to which he replies, “Oh no, is that a baby? I’ve NEVER had a baby in my car before!” Well...first time for everything, douchebag. Some of us have NEVER had a mythological fairytale creature try to eat our newborn babies. ARE YOUR PROBLEMS REALLY SO GREAT?

So the two end up going together until Rumpelstiltskin catches up with them – get this – DRIVING AN 18-WHEELER. First of all, when the hell did he learn how to drive? Did they have a DMV in that petrified turd statue or something? Second, how would he even drive this thing to begin with? He’s about half the size of a regular human being; he’d have to use a phonebook to see over the dashboard!

So after they drive for a whopping 2 minutes, the guy runs out of gas. Yeah, guess you’re a fucking idiot for not thinking of THAT before you went on a long road trip, huh? But it’s OK. He finds a childish go-kart like something you’d find at a county fair or something, so they’re safe now.


Oh yeah, that’ll do it! That’s exactly what I think of when I think ‘heroic rescue’! There’s simply nothing else like it! Seriously, what the hell? Next you’re gonna tell me he uses candy canes and rainbows to defeat the little troll! I think what really gets to me about this scene is, well, why the hell is that weird-ass little car there in the first place? They just stopped at a gas station, not some kind of Toys ‘R’ Us emporium! Did the owners of the gas station just have a bunch of those in stock from the…random mid-90s boom of misplaced childrens’ toys? Yeah, that was a real epidemic, wasn’t it?

This whole thing is just so random that you could spend hours discussing the ramifications of it. But I’d rather just finish this review. So, yeah, he tricks the little bastard into thinking he has the baby and Rumpelstiltskin chases him down in the truck. And…alright, I’ll admit it; this movie is worth seeing just to see the following image:

That’s just priceless. It’s monumentally retarded and makes no sense, but it’s just so funny that even the rest of the movie around it can’t possibly ruin the cheesy glory of this one shining scene. This…is a pinnacle of cinema!

But, sigh, the rest of the film has to tromp back in and ruin the whole thing, like a fly in your soup. A cop comes and gets killed by Rumpelstiltskin – what an embarrassing funeral that will be. “Hey, how’d your husband die? I’m so sorry for your loss. He was a great cop.” “He was killed by a dwarf bastard child of Freddy Krueger and the Green Goblin while a guy in a little clown car watched.” “…..oh.” *Walks away* Not exactly a poetic way to be remembered.

So then the two main characters are on the run, because they had to steal the dead cop’s car to get away from the demonic little bastard. They get arrested by a whole fleet of cops, who also take the baby away from the wife. They get put in a cell while Rumpelstiltskin comes in and completely slaughters all the police officers in horrific ways. Gee, I guess you morons wish you had said his name NOW, huh? Maybe then you could have avoided this horrendous catastrophe that will likely ruin dozens of family’s lives. Rumpelstiltskin steals the baby and then the only cop he conveniently didn’t kill comes and lets the two main characters out of their jail cell, telling them they need to go stop it. I’ll ignore the part where he somehow left that guy alive, but seriously, why did he use his last breaths on Earth to let out two people who, for all they knew, were murdering psychopaths? He wouldn’t…try to call for backup or anything? This movie has more holes than Swiss cheese!

Then they get in this yellow convertible and…the old witch lady is in the back sleeping? What the hell? What, does she ALWAYS drive her car to police stations and sleep in it? Or is that not even her car at all? Did she just randomly crawl into a car and fall asleep there? If she came to rescue them or bail them out of jail or something, why the fuck did she go to sleep? ARGH! Next scene.

So she tries to tell them what to do to stop Rumpelstiltskin, but can’t remember exactly what to do. Rumpelstiltskin uses some kind of magical power, which has never been explained or shown before in the movie (call it the law of implausible powers by shitty writing – LIPSW for short), to see what they’re doing. Then he chokes the witch so she can’t tell them anything, killing her. How did he do this? Uh…LOOK, A DUCK!

Seriously, every time I get past one plot-hole, another one pops up like bad acne! How does he have all these powers? Why doesn’t he just kill the other two main characters and be done with it so he can have the baby for himself? Why am I still wasting my time with this? Why do we park in driveways and drive in parkways? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

OK, those last few…had little to do with anything else, but still! It’s just one step away from encompassing the entire fucking universe into some kind of horrible plot-hole vortex from Hell. Did anyone edit this? I know it’s supposed to be goofy and stupid, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to try! It doesn’t mean you get a free pass just to write lazy-ass crap and not put any work into it, you bunch of fucking hacks. You have to actually put work into making your scenes funny. This shit is just that – stupid bullshit. Nothing more!

But let’s just finish this review before I’m here all night. Rumpelstiltskin takes the baby into a graveyard and does some weird shit until the two leads get there. They decide to do the heroic thing and run away (seriously, what?), where the guy gets a big flaming tractor from somewhere (seriously, what?) and chases the little bastard around, setting him on fire before the wife does what she SHOULD HAVE DONE ALL ALONG and says his name, killing him for good. Seriously, WHAT?

Just look at the flaming tractor. Pay no attention to the awful, hackneyed plot.

Alright, if anyone can honestly tell me they felt good about themselves after watching this movie, I’ll eat my hat and admit defeat forever. The characters are ungodly morons, the plot is complete hack work and the whole premise is just ridiculous – Rumpelstiltskin? Really? You might as well just make a horror movie about Buggs Bunny, or Tom and Jerry at the rate you’re going. But at least this movie DID provide us with one thing worth watching:

I’m serious, man, just fast forward to about 50 minutes in, watch that scene, and then turn it off. You’ll get more bang for your buck than I did.