Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Review of "H6" (2005)

H6: Diario de un asesino (2005)

A Modern Spanish Adaptation of the Trials and Tribulations of Henri Landru.

Sometimes we think, due to our limited circumstances, that as a species we have evolved to a level beyond the animal. That we are somehow more developed and more advanced. How much "evolutionary difference" is there between defecating in the fields and creating a special "place", with water, where one goes to defecate? Also think about how sometimes it is of a communal nature (sometimes even doing it side-by-side, separated just a couple of feet apart from each other by incomplete walls). The most prude of us, the English, even went as so far as to disguise it with language,as if perfuming the air. They called it a water closet. George Carlin would have something funny to say about that subject right about now. I'm definitely no George Carlin, but I can press play. If you are ready to deal with the baseness of the human species, then this movie might be right for you.

The movie starts brutally in a darkened stairwell, where we witness a most violent break up. Antonio Frau, in the most extreme act of machismo, strangles his girl friend/ wife. This movie tries very hard to make you feel extremely uncomfortable with what is happening on the the screen. It would easily qualify as grind house, except that it is way too dark, stylized and imposes too much seriousness to be campy. It resembles more of a "From Hell" in the type of a demi-hero, demi-villainous character it employs. Antonio Frau (Fernando Acaso), after being released from prison years later, inherits an abandoned ex-whore house from his aunt. This becomes the scene of the fun house experience at Freddy Kruger's house. Fernando Acaso does an amazing job of creating a Jeffery Dahmer like demeanor. It is cold on the outside, yet charming somehow. Throughout, however, is this creepy feeling like you are being surgically sliced into bits (in his mind).

The storyline follows a modern piece of historically inspired fiction. Historically speaking, Henri Landru was a French serial killer that preyed mostly on widows, during World War I in Paris (10/11 of his victims were women). Henri kept a detailed log of all the women and all of the aliases he used on each. At one point a relative of one of his victims shows up looking for them. This stirs up the police, which leads to Landru and his journal (which was used as evidence to convict him). Landru eventually is guillotined a few years later. Antonio Frau actual speaks about Landru in the movie. He is considered a flawed inspiration. Henri was in it for the money, however, Antonio has another agenda as well (a Saw-like agenda). There is such a duplicity to the character of Antonio Frau. Some of the really graphic scenes had very little actual gore, but actually maintained a somber and terrifying style which helped it from falling back into grind.

The style is eerily single X snuff-like. There is some guilt in watching, yet it feeds the voyeuristic and bass tendencies in humankind to continue to not look away. It is hard to recommend this movie to anyone, considering the nature of the violence. This is why I gave it a 5/10. Depending on the type of person watching this movie, I can easily see it going either way. Much like someone once said of Kronos; You either find it interesting or strongly, wrenchingly dislike it. There is no love.

Review of "Idiocracy" (2006)

Idiocracy (2006)

Not Sure. And the Extinction of Intelligence in the Species – a satirical anthropological "what if".

After just seeing H6, I needed something to "clean my palate" of the gnawing thoughts in the back of my skull. Mike "Bolton" Judge; writer, producer and director of Bevis and Butthead and Office Space, provides a movie that is parodic at times (elements of Logan's Run, Planet of the Apes, the Last Man on Earth and the Omega Man permeates the story, while overtly sanctioning the "consumerist zombie" theory of George Romero). It is satirical and yet still funny the rest of the time. The difference is that previous views of the future of humankind are a bit more dignified than in this movie. The future was always a bright, gleaming beacon for the elevation of mankind (in some cases the humans themselves had not changed, yet technologically we were more advanced). This movie takes is the opposite way - a.k.a. the toilet. Humanity has degraded to stupidity and apathy on all possible levels. The movie functions on the level of the viewer, while at the same time functioning on all its levels as a whole. This is the multi-tiered mound of garbage. Hidden treasures are abound for those that dig deep enough and yet there's stuff at the top for the not-so-motivated.

During the year 2005, the United States military conducted a secret project ("The Human Hibernation Experiment" for short). This project consisted of hibernating a male and female for a period of one year. This was to be developed for the purpose of "freezing" our best troops so they can be freshly deployed where they would be needed. Obviously they would not use this on their best until it was tested. As the guinea pigs, they used the most average man in army, Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson) and a "private sector" female, Rita (SNL alumni Maya Rudolph). One intravenous injection of Yoo-Hoo later, while being packed into an army, green-fatigue, metal-looking coffin, they go to sleep expecting only a year to pass. In less than a year, the project is lost and forgotten, only to be accidentally discovered the same year as the Great Garbage Avalance of 2505.

This is pure Philip J. Fry brought to live action. It is the same social criticism mixed with humor, character development and identification as you found from each and every episode of Futurama. It is a fish-out of water story where the fish looks more normal then the water (by contrast). Owen Wilson isn't quite Billy West, but he does a very good job a selling the likability of an average joe like Joe. There are some nice cameos in the movie including, the Apple guy (Justin Long), David Herman (from Office Space, Mad TV, and several voices on Futurama - Mayor C. Randall Poopenmayer, Professor Ogden Wernstrom, Turanga Morris, Larry , and Dwayne), Greg Pitts (the Oooohhh !! guy from Office Space), Scarface from Geto Boys (a pimp named Upgrayedd), Thomas Haden Church, and the pimped out and presidential Terry Crews (The President of the United States - Camacho).

The movie is relatively fast paced and doesn't dwell too much on one theme. It is not an exhaustive study, if you choose to read it as such. At the same time there is enough detail to warrant a serious critique. Its ending is light hearted and positive and I think is the major detriment to the movie. The premise is at the same time ridiculously ludicrous and at the same time eerily possible. Another noteworthy instances would be the inclusion of President One tough-mother !! SHUT YOUR MOUTH !!! Its about damn time we had a black president. Sho'Nuff !! The genius of the Fat Museum is not lost on me either. OW ! My balls !! the TV show is pure genius. It makes American Idol seem like Tarkovsky, while reminiscent of the "I'd Buy That for A Dollar" TV show from Robocop.

A highly recommendable and enjoyable, multi-teared romp through one oddly, possible future. It's nuculear, ass face !! (the finger salute of the future)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Review of "Body Double" (1984)

Body Double (1984)

80's Post-Scarface Brian De Palma's take on film noir and the Hitchcockian thriller.

I continue to celebrate the year 1984, by watching yet another wonderful movie from that year. A year that brought us Orwellian homages via Apple commercials and even a situation close to my heart involving a plane, a rabbit hat and a Chevy Monte Carlo (gray). As Conan's chronicler would say - "But that is another story...."

After the exploitation films popular during the 70's, there was what I like to call a film noir retrospective revival during the 80's through most of the industry. It brought back the gritty, sordid, sexual and action based narrative back from the mindless thrills. It started in the 70's with Sam Peckinpah's violent epics and movies like Taxi Driver. The 80's with movies like Scarface, added the 80's "crisp and bright" stereotypical look, feel and sound.

Of course this movie is yet another in the VHS "I remember that cover" story revolving around my childhood and recently gone defunct mom and pop video store, I once patronized. It also did a heavy stint on the Skin-a-Max Cable tour I believe. This movie is probably as close to a grind house movie as you can get to from a studio film.

Jake Scully is a somewhat struggling, B-movie actor with a severe case of "stage fright" and mild claustrophobia. After one of his episodes, he finds himself at home watching his girlfriend having sex with another man. He gets about as good a look as someone could get without being called a habitual voyeur. He then loses his acting job as the lead; as a vampire in Vampire's Kiss. He is down on his luck and ends up meeting a "fellow thespian", Sam Bouchard. Through Sam, Jake is given the job of house-sitting a very expensive house in the hills of Hollywood. I think its the same house "Mad Mel" took out in Lethal Weapon 2. He is told that the neighbor has a particular habit she does every night at the same time: (cough) Masturbate (cough). More than an audience now, we are made participants in the voyeurism through the telescopic lens. Jake believes the neighbor, Gloria Revelle, an attractive, yet abused hot 80's trophy wife is being followed by an "Indian". He proceeds to do the "heroic" act of following her himself. It is hard to reveal the rest without revealing the intrinsic goodness of the mystery.

This movie occurred after Scarface, yet is full of similarities. De Palma enhances the close up shot with all the background action. It is the background and at the same time it isn't, because the story is happening out there even though the eye if focusing on the clarity of the foreground. Your eyes are in a constant frenzy to keep up with everything that is happening in the shot. He uses that to describe the fear of claustrophobia as well as the ecstasy of voyeurism. The infusion of a melodramatic and over the top symphonic score further enhances those emotions. There are long sequences in which there little to no dialog. There are other scenes in which the dialog is in the background conversations and noise. Even if there is no dialog or sound, we are constantly accompanied by the eerily familiar score. The music is reminiscent of Hitchcock's music man – Bernard Hermann (composer on North by Northwest, Psycho, the Birds, Cape Fear and even the Twilight Zone). It is a bit more crisp (like the hair and clothes of the time).

This is very much a stylized, modernization of a Hitchcock mystery and film noir in a 1980's perspective (the clothes, colors, hair, porn's transition to VHS and the television airwaves, the yuppies and the coke). This movie has multiple layers and a very sharp edge. Voyerism is a big component. There is also a underlying parodistic component regarding the movie business. Did I mention there is the very, very, very nude Melanie Griffith giving it her all as Holly Body in Holly Does Hollywood ??

I especially enjoyed the director's porn music video (Frankie apparently did come to Hollywood) as well as the director's definition of the title of the movie during the ending credits. Both are a nice wink, wink to the audience. Why not watch it? Its a good match. Looks real, looks good and best of all there's no tan lines.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Review of "Wu Seng" (1984)

Wu Seng" (1984)
(a.k.a. Guards of Shaolin)

A Shaolin's life for me.....

This was a film recommended by a friend of mine, who happens to be a practicing black belt. He loves the technique in this movie. This movie is a treat for fans of the genre.

Okay, so there are these four brothers. I don't believe they are related by blood but more by a communal brothership. The best part of a movie like this is, is that everything is revealed in due time (for example, character names, relationships, motivation, plot, etc). It makes you feel like you could have written this. Its very inspirational.

"Big Brother" , as he is referred to, seems often times constipated and uptight. He wants to become a monk, or something, and his "Father" won't make him into one. He has a wonderful relationship with nature (punches trees and the dirt). "Second Brother" apparently is subjugate to Big Brother and mostly just spies on Brother Three and Four. "Third Brother" apparently really likes to practice his Gongfu. "Fourth Brother" is the mischievous of the bunch. He also seems to be the brother wearing the most eye shadow and blush. Apparently the amount of makeup a man wears is directly proportional to his "evilness". Their "Uncle" by contrast, has a red dot in his forehead and the most makeup of any main character (except for the government official, the female ninja, various in-drag henchmen and Chinese-Robin Hood).

It is a somewhat predictable plot, but there is a plot nonetheless. The brothers are framed for the Shaolin abbot's "sudden illness". It drags a bit after the coup, but is still worthwhile. The action is fast. It is not spectacular or over the top. It's not stylized, but is infused with limited realistic wire work. The fighting styles are classic blue-collar Gongfu. Think Boston Celtics and not the Lakers. They have also managed to add some simple humor, mostly visual gags or facial expressions. It also looked like the actors may have performed their own stunts.

I did learn much I did not know about the Shaolin monks. Shaolin monks are capable of dodging some arrows. Shaolin kicks ass, but only when seriously provoked. And by serious, I mean fist to the face. The Shaolin monks seem to employ the Wedding Crasher's Will Farrel approach to seducing women. Get them at the funerals, preferably immediate family deaths. It's good to be a monk !!! Unfortunately, they have only one weakness. The Naked Tattooed Breast style !!! This is done most effectively when performed by a woman.

"Golden Sutra ? Golden Sutra ??"

Chinese Robin Hood tobogganing down the slopes ??

After watching this movie, I am the empty vessel with just one question to fill me up. How many times do you have to stab a dead guy in the crotch, before he's had enough ?? Take your answer, times it by 10 and then add 42. Then double that number and thats as close are your going to get to the real number. I loved the finale. It was "twisted", short and sweet. A must see for fans of classic martial arts.

Review of "Crank" (2006)

Crank (2006)

The Transporter on the Beijing Cocktail, with an ephedrine and cocaine chaser.

Having first become acquainted with Jason Statham from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, I can safely say he has become the epitome of the tough guy. Most of the movies he has made since (with the exception of Snatch) are your run-of-the-mill action movie. I did like Transporter, with the exception of the second half of the movie which completely ran out of gas. There was definite potential there. The Transporter 2 completely obliterated any chance, by completely going off the deep end and not in a good way either.

Thankfully someone learned from all these movies and came up with Crank. Crank has a very simplistic plot. Chev Chelios (Statham) is well-known contract assassin, who wakes up to discover he has been poisoned with a concoction called the Beijing cocktail. It will stop his heart unless he keeps it going, by ANY MEANS NECESSARY!!!! The rest of the movie is figuring out what he's gonna do next and how he's going to tell his clueless, but very attractive girl friend (Amy Smart). This is the fun part of the entire movie. It is basically a live-action mash-up of Narc (the video game from the 80's), GTA (any of them) and some heart-bounding music videos. The formula is simple enough, but can be difficult in the execution (see some of Jason's other movies for reference). The rookie directorial duo of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor do an exceptional job a portraying stylized, non-stop action.

This is an archetypal action movie, not that the movie does anything overly original. What it does it does well and keeps it going pretty much throughout the entire movie. There are few breaks. I had a hard time not breaking a sweat or commenting out loud. I had been disappointed by more recent action movies. This one actually delivers. It delivers everything : car chases, helicopters, mêlée, gun play, explosions, sex, lots and lots of drugs, blood, profanity galore, more stimulants, a mall, a hospital, a drug lord, the amusing Dwight Yoakam and even Pedro (running for class president from Napolean Dynamite). The video game theme permeates every pore of this movie (from the opening heartbeat to the post credit side-scroller). For anyone who has had the sandbox experience of GTA will certainly recognize and appreciate this movie. I highly recommend this for fans of action. I'm feeling a little woozy. I guess its time for me to down some Red Bull and kick some cabbies.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Review of "Fah Talai Jone" (2000)

Fah Talai Jone (2000)
(a.k.a. Tears of the Black Tiger)

What spaghetti did for the western, tom yum goong tries to do the same.

My experience with movies from Thailand have mostly been in the form of Tony Jaa and several movies by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang (Last Life in the Universe, 6ixtynin9, and Transistor Love Story). Most people would probably just recognize the former and thus miss out on some unique creations. One such creation is Tears of the Black Tiger. To sum this movie up in one sentence : A Love Triangle, with the protagonist being a good guy by nature, but becoming bad by circumstance.

It is hard to describe or categorize this movie, because it crosses over so many categories. At its core it is mainly a western, but not a "realistic" western (for example, Open Range or Unforgiven). Think more of an early John Wayne kind of western, but stylized to the nth degree (like in a spaghetti western) and taking place in Thailand. It is part homage and seemingly part parody of the stereotypical behavior in a western. I am not sure if the satire is intentional but it is definitely in the style of the classic western, albeit on 10 cups coffee. It is also anachronistic, as there are cars available yet most use horses. There is gun play, like in a western, but the addition of sub-machine guns and rocket launchers to the mix is what makes it parodic (along with the over-the-top acting and romantic melodrama).

The movie uses stunning natural vistas along with theatrical-like set pieces, full screen closeups, contrasting vivid color, exaggerated facial expressions, unique camera angles, unexpected non-period weaponry and over-the-top acting. There is also a musical element to the movie. The soundtrack is mostly sung, but is quite catchy. You may find yourself humming or tapping your feet/finger. The above fore-mentioned elements is where this movie excels. The action sequences are violent and stylized (a nice touch with the gravity-defying blood). It is the what makes this movie unique and was gives it life.

The romantic melodrama is the part that drags this movie down. At 110 minutes running time, it is at least 20 minutes too long. Most of that is monotonous, sappy, melodramatic and out-dated material related to the unrequited love story. For similarities, think of the "melodrama" of lets say, Gone with the Wind. Sex is implied after a sunset hug. For me, two people deeply in love with each other that never kiss, does not make any sense nor seem like normal behavior. This might be normal for a movie made in 1930, but it is very, very dated in the 21st century. I do realize that the director was going for the homage to a period movie, however, he focuses too much on it. A little less focus on the "love story" would have made this movie a bit more enjoyable. After watching 1/2 a dozen or so Thai movies, I have realized one thing. Thai is not a very romantic sounding language. It particularly sounds worse when whining or screaming. It sounds more like Klingon than anything else. So if you can imaging Klingons doing a Romeo and Juliet parody, then you can pretty much imaging what the love story will sound like here.

Tony Jaa has taught me that a movie can be meaningless, convoluted to the point of incomprehensible, full of terrible acting and still be incredible enjoyable. If I am in a movie and I notice that my ass hurts or is numb, it means I am not engrossed into what is happening on the screen. That is unfortunately what happens during the non-action sequences of this movie. The love story drags you kicking and screaming from the nirvana of the action. I still recommend at least one viewing of this movie (I have seen it twice), although you may want to have some sort of medicine on hand. Also feel free to add your own dialog during the long, long, long dialog sequences, as the original may induce some sort of violent seizures.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Review of "The Wicker Man" (2006)

The Wicker Man" (2006)

Worthy of most things Shatnerian - "Why is .. it .. BURNED ??.... Why ...isitburned???

It is unfortunate that I review this movie after just seeing Crank. I still think I am seeing spots and I am definitely coming down. Solipsist and Oscar winning master thespian, Nicholas Cage, stars in either a farcical story of cross-cultural misunderstanding or in a unintended B-movie-like-comedy, complete with over-the-top, Shatner-like acting. I think it is the latter, but I leave it up to history and the experts to decide.

So the Cage, as I like to call him, is doing his best impersonation of Erik Estrada in Chips. He gets a note from his fiancée, which states that her daughter is missing and if he could help. Mind you, this is the woman who disappeared from his life, years before. She lives on an isolated island in the Northwest part of the country. An island that is mostly populated by a female Amish/Quaker-like commune. The rest is relatively meaningless. If you want meaning, you might as well check out the original movie. This movie is just there for the laughs.

The Cage is not a very good actor. As one of my comrades one said of him - "He's the same in every movie." He is an actor playing himself and not doing it very well. The Cage has been in some good movies, however, those were built around his "particular idiom" (Lord of War is a great example of this). On the other end, when you try to get him to act or make him feel emotion, you get this Botox coma or perhaps City of Angels. His performance in this movie can simple described as mind-numbingly-nuked. He is part angry octogenarian, part whiny, part drunk, all high-school production quality with 1/2 a bottle of pain killers. I mean the scenes in the bear suit are priceless, not to mention all the cheap shots he dishes out. Unfortunately, the hilarity mostly ensues well past the 60 minute mark. Prior to this, feel free to snicker and laugh at the lame, lame dialog. I can definitely say skip the theatrical version (go straight for the unrated version) of this movie, as you will be getting a slow motion montage-like procession scene with sound overlay instead of the actual scene. I actually was scratching my head, wondering, the first time I saw/heard it. Oh well. Highly recommended for a laugh. If you want to skip the movie all together, check out Youtube for a compilation of the best and funniest scenes in the movie. I think it's a fair trade - 3 minutes in the Cage or 90. ........................

Wise choice.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Review of "Marebito" (2004)

Marebito (2004)

Man-Boy and his Camera.

If you like Takashi Shimizu and his work, then you will probably like this. You may remember him from such movies as the Grudge, various Grudge remakes and the Grudge 2, along with its remake.

We follow the exploits of videophile cameraman Masuoka. Masuoka is played by Japanese actor/director Shinya Tsukamoto. You may remember him from Tetsuo the Iron Man, A Snake of June, Tokyo Fist and the coma inducing Bullet Ballet (he doubles as director and actor in many of his movies). His acting style is usually very similar throughout his various role (the quiet, doormat otaku character). Don't expect something drastic here. If the director happens to rehash the same material over the last decade (I'm looking at you too George L.), why should the actors discover a new id and ego? There are some interesting and pervading issues throughout the movie : Reality vs Perception; Urban Legends; Fear; Vampirism as a Lifestyle; Parasitic Relationships; Ghosts; Eye vs Lens.

The main part of this relates to the way Masuoka deals with information. Experiencing it in real-time as himself does nothing. It is the act of watching everything via video that proves profound for him. Video, after all, is the purest and least biased of the two methods of perception. But it is also true that the "pureness" of video is not absolute, being that perception of it changes the result. That's the good part of this movie. The bad part is we don't really get any answers or is that simply because there is nothing really there? Most of the "narrative" is done through a 3rd person narrative (movie camera) and the rest is through the handy-cam (mostly first-person). One can't help but feel the Cannibal Holocaust/Blair Witch similarity, with a touch of El Mariachi. I frankly was not impressed with the Grudge. None of them. I found them too drawn out and boring. It's mainly the kind of movie that tries to make you feel uncomfortable about eerie music and darkness. This one isn't quite that bad, but I was expecting a bit more evolution out of the director. Kudos to him for discovering the new "must-have" pet this Christmas : a sanguine, mute pseudo-female companion.

I say skip this. Stick to anything Miike.

Review of "Police Squad!" (1982)

Police Squad!" (1982)

Señor B.B. Stache greets you:

The Forefather of the Naked Gun Trilogy, complete with white OJ.

I first remember bumping into this zaniness from the Zucker brothers and Jim Abrahams, back in the early days at Comedy Central. Back in those days (the 90's) their programming consisted of Benny Hill reruns and the original MST3k, complete with bearded host.

Capt. Frank Drebin (played by the stone-faced, dead-pan filibuster, Leslie Nielson) is a process created first from the amalgamation of various stereotypical police television show protagonists (think Dragnet meets Starsky & Hutch the Show), boiled in a flask full of well-known police television show plots and scenarios. This is distilled, 3 times to produce the most pure policeman every made. Forget about Simon Pegg in Hot Fuzz (for now. save it for later). Frank Drebin is clueless at most times, a terrible driver, a terrible shot, macho yet sensitive and vulnerable. He is a master of the police investigative methodology (a.k.a - ask Johnny the Leathery Old Shoe-Shine Boy). This does not make him a bad cop. Cops get lucky also. Capt Drebin (notice he's a Captain here) has perfected it. Along with his partner, Nordberg, and the rest of force, perfectly parody the police drama over the course of 6 golden episodes.

The show is a treasure trove of hilarious dialog and quotable quote-ables. Most of the sight gags are a bit dated and silly. The magic never came from the sight gags,however. At its core was a nonsensical and straight-faced conversation and activities in the foreground, with crazy things occurring in the background. The movies can best be described as 90 minute compilations of the best gags from this series. Think of Monty Python's And Now For Something Completely Different.....

If you liked Airplane 1 & 2, Naked Gun 1,2,3, or Top Secret, then you will definitely enjoy this.

I always liked the series better than the movies, even though I saw the movies first. Why? 2 words : No O.J.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Review of "Doom" (2005)

Doom (2005)

You know something's off balance when Karl Urban gets top billing over the Rock, in a B-movie based on a computer first-person shooter game.

Based on the latest iteration of the Doom series; This one seems to rely heavily on the Doom3 storyline, with the exception of the actual story. It definitely recreates the dark, cramped and "sweaty" atmosphere of the military/research complex from the game. The plot diverges a bit from the game. Apparently, force powers come from midi-chlorians and the devil-made-me-do-it (a.k.a. demonic possession) is based on an "Alien"-like tongue propagating with your neck.

The Rock leads a tactical rescue squad to Mars to investigate a disturbance and quarantine mission. Before we can go, we have to suit up and give each other code names like we did back in the 3rd grade. Yo Joe !! At this point the movie tries to pull off a bit of Predator (a.k.a- tactical squad takes on alien), but thankfully fails and stops trying. No way they can pull if off without Sonny Landham or a decent alien. They do have the Predator-like sweaty, bald black marine though.

This movie is pure homage to the FPS (first-person shooter), from the BFG (too bad they got that acronym wrong) weapon to the trip to the bathroom and to the inclusion of Carmack (a.k.a - John Carmack being the founder of ID Software, the maker of Doom and other fine products). The most lucrative of these is the FPS mode. First person mode (a.k.a - if you can stomach becoming Karl Urban) is quite gimmicky. It is far more interesting as a concept than actual execution. In a game it is part of the immerse nature of the environment, however, in a movie theater it seems a bit odd. I mean I would expect that if I went to Disney World, Epcot Center or somewhere in Las Vegas. My chair didn't move. My ass didn't get shocked. Did yours?? It came off more like something Uwe Boll (a.k.a - the Teutonic Terror) would do or of the caliber of the director of Romeo Must Die or Cradle 2 the Grave.

The monsters seem an odd collection of zombie, xeno-human and variation of xeno-human mutations. None are overly memorable and quite easily forgettable after their mutated gray matter gets splattered all over the walls. I mean we don't really even get a good "Boss" character. We get a re-hash. On a personal note, someone really needs to stop using Rosamund Pike as an actress. I haven't seen a decent, nor a different performance from her yet. I believe she is playing the same character she did in the Libertine, albeit without an overt English accent.

At least the director got one thing right about Doom; the crappy ending. This leads us to the type of director we have. Based on the fact that this was the worst movie the Rock has been in (don't get me wrong, he has been in some terrible movies, however, and his personality has managed to elevate the whole picture into enjoyable distractions). Instead of raising this movie up, the character and characterization of the "Sarge" just adds guano to the whole movie. In true FPS fashion, hit F7, restore another save point (preferably before you started watching this movie), say the magic word (Katsuhiko Kumanosuke Takaashi) and watch something else .... maybe like Crank. This is for Uwe : Watch Out!! Andrzej is on his way down to meet you.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Review of "Invincible" (2006)

Invincible (2006)

Rocky VII - A Football Story.

The real life events of Philadelphia native Vince Papale (Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch's Mark Wahlberg) incredible ride into the NFL as a member of the Eagles. Vince was an out of work teacher and bartender who happened to make it to the NFL via Dick Vermeil's open tryouts, with no prior college or professional experience.

If you have seen Rocky, you kind of get the idea. It's Philly, its a blue collar town and during the 70's was in the grips of a severe recession. The director, Ericson Core (who's major contribution to this point was as cinematographer on the horrible Daredevil), does an adequate job of portraying this. Basically this is not really a football movie. I was having major flashbacks of Rudy. The whole point of the movie isn't football, but rather the underdog, the "American dream" accomplished. This isn't to say there isn't football in the movie. Most of it involves training camp and a few plays from the first few games. It is used to show that his accomplishment did not occur overnight, nor that it was easy.

Overall this isn't a great movie, but its hard not to care about Vince. These movies make us care about these people, by making the point that if they could do it, why can't we. They could be us, so it is easy to relate. The standout moment of the movie is at the end, where we are given archived footage of the actual Vince and some of the plays he made. It single-handed validated the movie for me, to see the energy, pride and character of Vince Papale. This movie would be a welcome DVD to my collection, right next to Rudy, the Replacements and the Longest Yard (the original 70's version... please don't soil that movie with thoughts of Adam Sandler).

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Review of "Abominable" (2006)

Abominable (2006)

As good as its name …. if only slightly cheesier.

I had heard much and see some of it (thank you Joel from the Soup, for opening my eyes to the sheer horrific humor that is this movie), this SciFi cable original movie.

So the guy who was pegged as Steve Guttenberg's replacement in Police Academy 5 and 6 (Matt McCoy), is a wheelchair-bound former mountain climber. The cause of this injury is explained in a pseudo-flashback accident (and third person accounts) where he and his wife fall from Suicide Rock, because their climbing rope snapped. He has been taken to his cabin, near the scene of the tragedy, in the hopes that it will be beneficial and therapeutic. Upon arrival, Matt McCoy does his best Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window impersonation complete (and convenient) with 5 young, fresh girls next door. For some reason, we get the full view of the entire house complete with full audio capabilities, all from the binoculars Matt uses. I think Uwe Boll might have been a consultant-in-spirit on this movie.

Not much happens until about the hour mark. This is the part of the movie that makes this whole thing "worthwhile". The first hour just makes karma look like chamomile tea. Cheesy dialog and cheesy background music permeates the entire movie. It is the seasoning. The movie is quite sasquatch-centric. All revolves around it. "It" looks much like a mash-up of Harry, from Harry and the Hendersons, Critters, and an angry, drunken, 80 year old Scotsman. All that with a crazy lust for meat (dog, horse and people).

The plot isn't too complicated nor too in-depth. What you see or don't see, is exactly what you get. The rest involves lots of dragging, talking to oneself, pointless dialog, ripping flesh, tearing flesh and the "squeezing" of full size people through bathroom windows (a classic). There's some nice cameos by the late Paul Gleason, Lance Henriksen and the Re-Animator himself Jeffrey Combs. They don't contribute much too anything, albeit the scenes between the Re-Animator and Bishop are quite funny.

In the end all I wanted to know is: Where do I get some of the lip gloss/lip balm that Haley Joel was wearing? It doesn't fail, even when confronted with snow, dirt, mud, water, blood or killer Sasquatch. Operators are standing by, supplies are limited. Please order now. Bring the crackers and wine because you'll be getting a lot of cheese. And nothing goes better with cheese than crackers and wine. Don't delay, watch it today.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Review of "Why We Fight" (2005)

Why We Fight (2005)

Also the name of a series of military funded WWII propaganda movies done by Frank Capra

This is an appropriately titled documentary (ironic also) that delves into what Eisenhower called the "military-industrial complex", in his farewell address. While George Washington's farewell address involved warnings about political polarization of the country, the avoidance of entanglements with foreign nations and the idea that morality in government is required; Eisenhower warned about the ever increasing of power of the complex relationship between the military, the Congress and the military private sector, and the problems associated with having and supporting a standing army. He warned about the ever increasing resource allocation in the face of no visible or clearly defined enemy. A self perpetuation cycle that takes all other expenditures with it.

This process seems to have started with WWII and even with Eisenhower's warning, has continued unabated for the past 50+ years, culminating in the current situation we are in (Iraq). During this time the expenditure was justified by the giant, looming Soviet threat (which collapsed of its own bloated weight). Since 1991, the military-industrial complex has been searching for a new "nemesis". They tried Panama, Iraq I, Yugoslavia, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq II. The current war is proof enough of the intentions of the this complex : to get more money appropriated by the Congress (for more expensive, newer, and "better" weapons), by "proving" to their constituents (through fear and misinformation) that they is a phantom danger which requires more money for defense. It is nearly impossible to tell the head from the tail of this unit. All the elements have almost fused into a giant entity.

It is funny to think that WWII signaled the start of this entity, while also going against Washington's warnings (US first becomes entangled in NATO in 1949) and leading towards our current polarized and unmoral political situation. The problem with this complex is that is does not what is best for the country, but what is best for itself. This is not moral. Senator Byrd made that point when the Congress voted to give the executive branch the right to invade a foreign nation without provocation; that there was no debate, no look at the consequences of their actions. There was only silence. It's interest leads the country into situations that allocated many, many resources that could be used internally (Eisenhower had a cost list of what he could do locally with funds allocated for bombers, tanks, missiles, etc). Senator Robert Byrd also made the point that the US military budget from a few years ago was larger than the other 18 members of NATO combined and China.

This movie tries very hard not to be a one-sided story. It gets some of the constituents of this entity to speak in their own words. The movie does not point fingers at political parties but rather at institutions and individuals. I don't know how people cannot acknowledge the truth in this movie. Whether or not what this movie's message appeals to your political thought or not, you cannot deny the truth no matter how much it doesn't benefit one's situation. You can ignore it, pin it on a patsy, or try to deny it, but you cannot hide from it. It would seem the movie would end on an pessimistic tone, but this is not true at all. It is very encouraging. This complex should be responsible to us. They are working with public (tax) money and Congress is full of our elected representatives, responsible to the people who elected them. We don't like what is going on, then we must do something about it. Freedom is not sitting at home watching your ass get fatter while eating fast food and drinking a beer. We need to get off our asses and make them listen to us. If they are not satisfying us, we get ones who can. Oh, where is the next George Washington ?? That is exactly what we need right now. It is funny how much his name is used to justify things he wouldn't have supported (also see God). Oh well. History will record this time as the end of the Republic and the rise of the American Empire. Sic semper tyrannis.