Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Quietly Elevating: Silent Hill

Videogames that transcend the small screens of our televisions to the large, silver panels often lack a connection to their roots.

"Super Mario Brothers" had goombas, but they were fat with small heads, not small with big heads as in the game.

"Resident Evil" had bad actors in make-up, not scary-ass zombies with a severe lack of face happening.

So it's often expected that any movie with a videogame tie-in will reflect mainly the idea, if not the actual image, of the franchise.

"Silent Hill", however, is an exception.

It captures the essence of the game in a very real way.

Unfortunately, that's not a good thing.

"Silent Hill" the game is about a cursed town full of disturbing images, bad voice-acting, cutting edge CGI, fog, and demons that make you long for the peaceful halls of "DOOM".

While playing the first game, I was overwhelmed by the atmosphere. The developers, working with the orignal Playstation, had opted for high visuals and low visibility--the infamous "fog"--but the effect was mind blowing.

The movie keeps the fog, and the darkness of the dungeons, and even keeps most of the standard enemies and bosses (such as Pyramid Head, the oddest and most perverted nemesis I've seen in years).

What doesn't work is the outcome. The game was disturbing and confusing at times. So is the movie.

But when I finished the game I felt the satisfaction of having completed a challenge.

When the movie ended, it had been a challenge to finish, but I was not satisfied.

The acting is standard for any videogame, ie poor. Radha Mitchell ("Finding Neverland") is hit or miss for some of her scenes, which can only be attributed to the director not knowing whether his character is freaked out or driven to find their daughter. She could have demons biting her feet one moment, and the next she'd say, deadpan, that she wasn't leaving until she found her adopted daughter.

NEWS FLASH: You can adopt other daughters! They're practically giving them away. And if you're real lucky, she'll be possessed in some form or another too, or perhaps she'll go into film and make an indie-flick that kills people in a week.

But I digress.

The script is passable, for a game, though it lacks any defining path from plot point to plot point. there a plot in this movie? I mean, the whole mom-and-little girl thing is cute, but I'm reasonably sure that take-your-child-to-a-creepy-haunted-town day was a month ago.

The CGI is good, and I mean good, making the creatures pop out at you. Apparently they had contortionists play many of the demons to give them a creepy figure. It worked. I hadn't been so disturbed since "Se7en" showed us the fun of turning strap-ons into weapons.

Gore is abound, but not overdone--at least for the first half of the movie. There are later scenes where barbed wire is used innappropriately and in ways I can't describe on a public forum.

Let's just say that Mr. Pyramid Head has a little fun with the saying "beauty is only skin deep."

All in all, the film let me down. I was rooting for it the whole time, even through some terrible scenes and worse acting. I stuck with it, cheering on the director and scriptwriter. But then, suddenly, the credits popped up and I was left alone.

I really wanted this to be the movie that brought videogames to the next level, but alas, it is not so. "Silent Hill" is just another reason why people don't take gamers seriously.

This movie rates taking-Natalie Portman-out-for-a-romantic-evening-at-her-behest-only-to-have-her-say-she-just-wants-to-be-friends.

I, however, remain optimistic that the next movie based on a game will breach the surface of the Box Office. I see that day is far off, but it will come.

Unless no one has run down Uwe Boll in a Sears parking lot yet.

Speaking of which, can I borrow someone's car?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Plug Your Ears: A Sound of Thunder

Science fiction is a dangerous genre.

Aliens can attack from within; robots can (and will) turn on their makers; and just about anything that can go wrong will, in the course of the film, go FUBAR.

However, if the film itself is monumentally flawed, none of this matters.

So how do I describe "A Sound of Thunder"?

Imagine the movie is like the sun, and staring into it directly hurts your eyes.

Now stab yourself in the eyes at the same time.

I am an advocate for the use of CGI in films. I think that, in copious amounts, CGI can drown a film. When used productively, computer effects bring you into a new world of flavor.

But when, in 2005, your images look like rejects from some 1960's claymation epic, you might as well use puppets.

The movie opens with a group of time-traveling hunters stalking an allosaurus. I could have shot the introduction with plastic dinosaurs and a cell phone.

Edward Burns is about the only thing close to a lead in this flick. He plays a scientist, Travis Ryer, who helps keep a corrupt businessman (played by Ben Kingsley of "Bloodrayne" fame) in action.

Obviously the conflict comes from playing with the past. According to the HollyWood BS Theorem, anything is possible. Apparently, when you step on a butterfly in the past, crazy things happen in the future.

In chronological order of the evolution of the species.

And nothing is what it seems.

I'm not going to say this film was bad. I leave that judgment to you.

Firstly, the effects suck, but we've been through that. Scenes involving green screens often make you long for the good old days of puppets and superimposition. I often found myself recalling video games with fuzzy FMV sequences. Only they had better production values.

The script isn't terrible, but it is very poor. Most of the time you'll feel as though the writer just got lazy and gave up, outsourcing the scriptwriting duties to a trained lemur.

The characters are...flat? One-dimensional? Not able to express emotions?

I found the movie uninspiring, with most of the scenes carrying that "it's been done before and better" mentality.

Things jump out from behind boxes and dark windows; creatures are everywhere and hunt in packs; the one easy way to do something is destroyed, leaving only the really, really, ridiculously hard way.

I've seen this movie a dozen times before, only it has never been so poorly implemented.

Something that really irked me throughout the film was the lack of a beautiful woman. Both of the female leads are....OK. Catherine McCormack ("Shadow of the Vampire") is the love interest, at least as far as I could tell, and is decidedly uninteresting for two hours.

Jemima Rooper (The Black Dahlia) is the other gal in this flick, but all she does is act foolish and brave until her "death".

I'd like to tell you the disposable characters in the film make a dent on you as you watch, but in reality they don't. They just exist to die.

Finally, and really my final dissappointment with the film, was the main monster throughout the last act: Baboonasaurus. It was, perhaps, the worst animated creature of the 21st century.

I can't explain it any better than that.

This movie was "a soul-sucking waste" that made me ashamed of cinema.

That'll satisfy as a rating for now.

I'm gonna watch something else.

Something bad.

And then I'll be right back here again.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Top 10 Uses for Romanian Prostitutes: Bloodrayne

When a brilliant screenwriter passes off his work to a stellar director, a masterpiece is created.

When a somewhat bland script meets up with a talented auteur, a sleeper hit is born.

And if a dismal piece falls in the lap of a young and excitable visionary, a cult classic can happen.

But take any script and give it to Uwe Boll and you get....well, what's worse than "bad"?

Let me begin by saying that "Bloodrayne" is Uwe Boll's best film yet. I'll qualify that by reminding you he is still the worst director of film since Dziga Vertov (no offence to Vertov lovers, "Man With A Movie Camera" was not for me).

As far as plots go, this one ain't too shabby. Rayne (Kristanna Loken from T3)is a half-vampire--half-human hybrid (think Blade). She's a little bit leaky in the brainpan, as the saying goes, and she works at the circus with her....lesbian lover/obtuse friend/pointless extra until she manages to escape.

Once on the lam, she discovers that she hates other vampires and spends her time drinking their blood and killing them (not always in that order). Through absolutely no plot devices, she finds her way to a monastary and learns about the evil Kagan (Ben Kinglsey...seriously, they got him for this movie).

There are random fight sequences that serve to up the ante on the gore scale, a completely pointless sex scene, and more random snippits of dialogue that serve to remind you the actors in the film could be doing better things.

And let's take a look at this cast. It really boggles my mind at how Uwe manages to ensnare these folk. Michael Madsen (Kill Bill), Michelle Rodrigues (LOST), Meatloaf ( know...delicious Sunday dinners), and Billy Zane. These are all people who, at one time or another, were at the top of the Hollywood food chain. In fact, last time I checked, Michelle wasn't doin' too bad. Neither, for that matter, was Michael or Billy. And Meatloaf can do what he wants cause he's F'n Meatloaf.

The script is passable, written by the same crazy lady who penned "American Psycho." Granted, she hasn't hit much since then, but she put together a reasonable story line that precedes the game this is based on.

And let's not forget the game. Ever since "Super Mario Brothers" gave us bouncing plumbers and....well, more fun than I care to share with you now, video game movies have tried to have at least one scene with the actors performing a video game move.

"Mortal Kombat" had Johnny Cage's split-and-punch-to-the-crotch. "Tomb Raider" had the double-fisted (Double D) gunplay from Ms. Laura Croft. "Resident Evil" had....zombies. Of a sort.

So "Bloodrayne" is no different. Rayne carries two oddly shaped swords and uses them to turn enemies into sushi. This is where Uwe took the gore a little bit far.

Now I'm a guy, which means I automatically like several things: Explosions, Women, Sports, and of course, gratuitous violence. However, watching a man have a sword shoved through his cheek and out the back of his head, while mind-numbingly gory, was not my idea of entertaining.

The first couple of blood baths are fun, but after that it gets old. Rayne faces a never ending swarm of idiotic baddies whose sole purpous is to die painfully.

Also, and this is a small point of contention. This movie is based in or around the 1800s. For those of you who don't know, "Bloodrayne" the game was based in NAZI GERMANY. That's what made it so awesome. You were a dominatrix-esque vampire whose fetish was ripping the Third Riech a new one.

What is surprising is the special effects. While not great by any stretch, they are very passable for a cheesy horror flick. I found myself enjoying the vampire-death effect in a small but meaningful way.

But we would be remiss to forget that this is, indeed, an Uwe Boll epic. Which means there needs to be sex, and it needs to be pointless.

Kristanna Loken is a beautiful woman, and she possesses...great charm. But having her randomly attack and lustfully abuse a man, while fine in a few respects, made no sense whatsoever. There was no follow up, either, save a look passed between the two characters in the next scene.

Most of the movie is hard to follow, especially when you just took two NyQuil and are passing out in your chair. Rayne seems to move as fast as one can think, jumping from area to area in video game form, but without a necessary cut scene to explain the background.

I did not hate this movie, but that does not mean I recommend it. The lighting is passable, the script is.....original, but everything else falls short in a typical Uwe fashion. He just doesn't know movies. Or people. Or how to make cereal.

Some of you may have read the title and wondered, "WTF?" Allow me to explain.

Uwe Boll is a practical man, if nothing else can be said about him. He needed some naked women for one of his scenes so, rather than hiring some aspiring young actresses, he bought a few Romanian hookers.

I'm serious.

Anyway, after the "end" of the movie, but which I mean the trippy rehash of the bloodiest scenes, randomly placed after the final battle (in case you still had some lunch to lose), I smiled, nodded, and passed out. I guess that's the best I can ever expect from the viral entity Uwe Boll.

I'll give this movie a flirting-with-Kristanna Loken-when-she-suddenly-turns-into-the-Terminatrix-and-removes-your-spine-via-your-chode.

I'm gonna watch something terrible now. It's not that I want to.

It's so you don't have to.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

My Special Hell: Alone in the Dark

I have seen the darkness, and its name is Boll.

From time immemorial, when the line of Good and Evil (the capital letter variety) was often crossed with lies and deceit, a lone figure kept the balance.

His name was Florine, and he was a Seraph of the Lord.

I'm guessing he was out sick the day Uwe Boll stepped out from behind his pile of fecal matter and pain and entered our world.

I usually try to throw a little gem of good humor in with my reviews, but here I cannot.

Here is where I draw the line:

"Alone in the Dark"

I can't actually express how bad this film is, but I will try.

Take every aspect of filmmaking, from the actors to the writing to the use of a gaff. Find every little nuance that goes into the production of a feature-length movie.

Now do it bass ackwards.
Then poo on it.
Then mail it to Hitler and have him add his own personal flavor.
Finally, bury it for a thousand years and perform sick and twisted rituals upon the ground until the souls of the damned engulf the final copy.

Now you have "Alone in the Dark" as directed by Kubrick.

To get the Uwe Boll version, multiply by a BILLION.

I hated this movie. Yes, I really can use the word "hate" here. Every second watching it was painful. I bled from the ears and anus, and that stains couches.

The "stars" of this movie include Stephen Dorff (Blade), Christian Slater (he's the guy who REALLY wants to be Jack Nicholson) and Tara Reid (Van Wilder). Every one of them should be ASHAMED to be in the listings.

Uwe Boll is a director who prides himself on taking video games and turning them into movies. What he is infamous for is taking beloved games and BURNING THEM AT THE STAKE.

Everything this man touches turns to ash before our eyes, but he continues. And since he films in Germany, he gets a huge government compensation that lets him make his filth for free (basically), meaning he can afford big-name actors and then ruin their careers.

Edward Carnby (Slater) was an orphan. Something crazy happened. Now demons are loose in our world, and some prophecy is being fulfilled.

That's the story, as far as I can remember. There are some relationships that don't make sense (a love triangle that doesn't exist but is hinted at) some "action" sequences that made me long for the lightning-paced "English Patient" and effects that use the same defenition of "special" as the Olympics of the same name.

My eyes bled.

The sound effects...THE SOUND EFFECTS...were attrocious. I felt offended by them. I wrote letters to the ACLU to have these sounds removed from effect CDs immediately. The lawsuit is pending on the case of my raped eardrums.

The writing....well, it was in English. Other than that I can barely speak of it. I think Uwe managed to secure the early drafts of the monkeys commissioned to rewrite the works of Shakespear.

Even the music was bad. The MUSIC. I ripped off an ear to get away from the horrendous, screeching notes of the soundtrack.

The CGI was awful; on par only with cheesy sci-fi films of the 80s and, perhaps, the septic tank of ILM's "D" squad. The monsters were horrible parodies of better creations, and their movements were jerky and never fit with the actors.

Finally, there is the direction. This I saved for last due to the fact that only with superb direction could this flop have become a cult favorite. Unfortunately for the lucky few of us who actually played the original "Alone in the Dark," Uwe Boll is not a superb director.

I wouldn't even give him a nod as a half-decent human being.

His idea of a tense action sequence is a slide show of flashes, action poses, and monster faces. I fell to my knees, tears streaming down my face, asking a defiant G-d how this man is not burning in the depths of hell for his bastardization of the cinematic arts.

I rate this movie being-kicked-repeatedly-in-the-groin-by-a-500-lbs-Albanian-prostitute-who-proceeds-to-stomp-on-your-junk-until-it-FALLS-OFF!

Or for you lady types, imagine giving birth to an elephant. An elephant covered in spikes.

This is, without a doubt, the worst movie ever made.

And Uwe Boll is still making them.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Acid Trip for the Whole Family: Aeon Flux

I will never say that Charlize Theron is not attractive.

In fact, if someone were to make such a statement, I would be bound by law to beat them with a hollow tube until they saw the error of their ways.

So when I slipped the disc for "Aeon Flux" into my PS2, my first thought was: "At least Charlize Theron will be hot in this."

I wasn't wrong.

But neither was I right to say that Miss Theron is the only good thing in the film.

Let's face it: sci-fi movies come and go like the wind, and often bring unkind tainted aromas to the genre. For every "Serenity" there are four "Attack of the Giant Leeches".

I went into "Aeon Flux" with as low an expectation as could be managed under the circumstances.

My roomate had already released a litany of criticism upon the movie, and everyone I asked made faces akin to watching an episode of the "Simple Life."

The "plot" of this flick is.......alarming? Confusing? A bit unkempt? Let's just say it makes no f'n sense.

Charlize (yup, I'm on a first name basis with her) acts as the super-heroine Aeon who fights with an underground rebellion against the Goodchild Regime. The Goodchilds...Goodchildren?...have been ruling over what's left of humanity after a virus wipes out 99% of the planet.

Apparently, in the future, fighting a totalitarian cabal involves a lot of wire-work and sex appeal.

Theron flies around the screen in less attire than Mila Jovovich in "5th Element". I'm not saying that's a bad thing, it's just...a...thing.

The effects are satisfactory, and more than what you would expect from an MTV movie. Explosions are unfortunately few and far between, but the eye candy isn't the CGI.

It's Charlize. All the time.

The fighting is reminiscent of "Equilibrium", a sleeper hit with Christian Bale (review to come...eventually?) Miss T can swing her legs in fantastical ways that make you want to...fight...her?

Ok, I need a break.

(Cold shower wait 5)

I'm back.

The acting is pretty bad. Not Uwe Boll bad, or "Starship Troopers 2" bad, but lame enough that you won't believe much of what comes out of peoples' mouths.

The writing isn't too far from the mark, so the delivery stings and makes you feel bad for the players.

One thing that was very distracting, the whole damn movie, was the fact that scenes tended to meld together. There were so many dream sequences and slow motion chases, I often found myself wondering where in the hell people were, and how they got there.

It kinda reminded me of "Wild Wild West" (review...NEVER). That whole "film", I was wondering how in the hell Will Smith managed to be EVERYWHERE at once.

I can't remember much of the original anime show on MTV, but if you enjoyed that little diddy, you might as well throw this one up on your Netflix queue.

As for ratings....I'll give this one a Salsa lesson administered by one Charlize Theron.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bat-boy Unleashed: The Cave

It's a well known fact that sci-fi movies have to have certain traits.

The good guy is always considered, by many, to be inadequate.

The bad guy--or just the not so great guy--is a sleazeball.

The girl is too attractive for her job and manages to "die" at least once.

Nothing is what it seems...or is it?

And there will always be a "shocker" at the end (the whole 'monster isn't dead yet' thing)

Movie execs know that we know this. So why do they keep making the same movies? Yeah, that's some good English right there.

So I Netflixed (now that's a friggin' word for Webster) "The Cave" knowing full well what I was getting myself into.

This underground adventure stars Cole Hauser (Pitch Black) who is making a name for himself in the "why exactly are you in this" category of films. He has a natural look to him, sorta like McConaughey, that makes you think he's really deep.

Cole plays Jack, leader of an extreme team of divers who take on the most inhospitable places on Earth...all in the name of science.

His brother, Eddie Cibrian (Third Watch) is a bit miffed at how his older brother treats him, but can't give up the life he loves.

Throw in a few disposables and an attractive biologist named Kathryn (Lena Heady from....stuff) and you have the makings of a sci-fi marvel.

The "Cave" in question is in Romania, a place known for its illustrious caverns (I'm totally serious). It appears an ancient church was buried in a rock slide, sealing the area from the effects of time. Anything inside would be an evolutionary marvel.

Once inside, however, the team is sealed off from the real world and hunted by mysterious creatures that look kinda like an Alien with a tumor.

But, as always, the real enemy is within.

Eventually, anyways. It's a parasite (this is not a spoiler. It's in the freakin' trailer). It mutates its host to fit the particular biome, or something to that effect.

So the team is killed off, slowly but surely, until they have a last stand.

And yes, someone is infected and saves the rest in a noble sacrifice.

And yes, at the end, things "aren't as they seem."

To tell you the truth, I wasn't that dissappointed by the movie. It followed the sci-fi template almost to a T, and the acting ain't terrible (though it's not even in the same time zone as 'good').

Cole plays a somewhat single-minded leader very well, and Eddie...well, he sure was great on "Third Watch".

The effects aren't that bad either. The creatures, while not of the most unique vision, come across well. The director knew enough to reveal them slowly, and only in flashes of light.

I've always hated it when, in a monster movie, the monster is shown completely right off the bat (Yeah, Peter Jackson, the scene with Shelob sucked like a starving vampire).

The music is really my biggest criticism. Throughout the film, and I mean THROUGHOUT, a creepy violin scratches at your ear, as if to say: SOMETHING BAD IS GOING TO HAPPEN...EVENTUALLY!

Even when all that you see is a helicopter bringing in the team, the violin is gettin' a workout. It doesn't build tension when you do it ALL THE TIME.

At the end of the movie, which is cheap by the way, you will feel rather unfulfilled, as though you ate a burritto and realized, with the last bite, there was no salsa.

I'll give this movie a weekend-spelunking-with-Lena Heady-who-is-pretty-cute. That's all I have time for.

I just want to add in a little phrase I heard today, one which would make a far more intersting movie:


Doesn't it just blow your mind?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

While Walking the Longest Yard, I Remembered Titans: Gridiron Gang

They say there are only two certainties in life: Death and Taxes.

I'm here to add another: The cheesy, feel-good football movie.

It seems that every year, no matter what is happening in the realm of cinema, some director has to bring out another football movie filled with testosterone and cliches.

And we love them for it.

I've seen "Remember the Titans" about a bagillion times (that's an actual number, somewhere in the high googaplexes), and each time it gets a little....awesome-er?

"The Longest Yard" was a waste, but we all saw it because Adam Sandler is a funny guy and football is sweet.

"Any Given Sunday" was an excuse for Al Pacino to be a bad ass again, and for some movie exec to throw a little male nudity our way (thanks, but no thanks).

But we see these movies every time they come out. I already plan to see "Invincible", even though it is just a souped up "Rudy". I'm sure there will be a moment where some kid will tell Mark Wahlburg "you can't do it, man," but later, near the end, he'll be the guy that leads the slow clap as Mark walks confidently onto the field.

Ahh, the slow clap. Perhaps the best Sports Movie staple.

Anyways, on to this little flick, which stars a very underrated actor, Xzibit. The rapper/humanitarian actually does a passable job as a Juvenile Detention officer.

I'm serious. It was as if he knew the material first hand. Almost as if he had spent time in one of these places, for the purposes of study of course.

The real "star" is Dwayne "THE ROCK" Johnson, a man of few words and more muscles. Actually, and I'm stunned to find myself typing this, The Rock has made leaps and bounds since his debut as the monosyllabic Scorpion King (in the absolute festival of shlock "The Scorpion King").

He really lit up the screen in "The Rundown", though "Doom" almost buried him, much as its title suggests it can.

Here, as Sean Porter, Rocko finds himself struggling to accept the reality of the juvie system. It seems that 75% of all inmates either return to jail or die.

But now this square jawed hero isn't going to take it lying down.

For a movie starring the Rock, there were surprisingly few incidents of gunplay, and none involved our stoic hero.

In fact, the violence was less over-the-top and more toward the realistic side.

The football, on the other hand, is quite out of hand.

Firstly, there are the "high school" age players who seem to have been pumping weights (read: annabolic steroids) siince they were five. There are hits that make NFL players look like cuts from the WPGA (nothing against women golfers, they just don't seem into contact sports is all I'm saying.)

And best of all, the cliches.

For those of you who follow this blog, you probably can tell that I enjoy cliches and puns. They really...make a movie. Whether they make it better or worse is not for me to decide.

There's the gang members who hate each other, only to become brothers at the end;

The guy who wants in, drops out, then wants back in again;

There's a guy who "wants to show everyone he's somebody";

And more unnecessary speeches than the floor of the Senate.

I left the theater with a grin, not because the movie was perfect, but because it knew it was flawed. The creators started this endeavor with no doubts about how this film woud come out. And they did an admirable job of pulling together a visual display on par with....well every other football movie of the last year.

And give the Rock his due. He plays a stoic, not-so-good-with-emotions kind of guy very well. He's either an amazing actor...or the other thing.

I'd give this film a hitting-on-Kera Knightly-at-a-club, having-her-boyfriend-attack-you, and-having-THE ROCK-back-you-up.

I have to go now.

I have a wicked urge to play Madden and I can't fight it any longer.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Best Vacation Ever: Cabin Fever

I often find movies hard to describe.

It's like trying to write about your first sandwich after not eating for a few days. No one else can understand the bliss you felt at that moment, and no sandwich tastes as good.

So I will try to convey my feelings toward "Cabin Fever", but bear with me if I start to ramble.

Let's begin by introducing the star of this wonderment: Ryder Strong, from "Boy Meets World".


I just think his parents have a sense of humor. I guess Banger Gently was already taken.

I digress. This movie begins with a group of friends heading out to a cabin for a little vacation. They want to hunt, fish, sit by a fire, and have meaningless sex with people they care little about.

You know, like any other high school kid you know.

They stumble upon a vagrant who has some sort of eat-yo-face disease. It is, of couse, very contageous, and soon one of the group contracts the freaky illness.

Now, I don't want to give too much away, as the script is, without a doubt, the most brilliant drivel ever written. I mean, there is a sequence called "Pancakes" for crying out loud.

Ian Roth, of "Hostel" fame, directs this cult classic with the flare of....someone who has never directed before.

Shots are still on for most of the movie, though the lighting with a flashlight quality.

The humor is apparent, and no one takes themself too seriously. Each character is right out of "Deliverance", spouting lines with thick, over-the-top southern accents.

I watched this movie with a group of friends who also revel in the B realm. We laughed, we cried, and we learned a little about ourselves and each other. By the time the credits rolled down the screen, we were changed men.

I think this movie takes the "B is for bad" mentality and runs with it. If you enjoy cliches, puns, and dialogue that is in itself a joke, you will enjoy "Cabin Fever."

There is no proper rating for this film. In fact, I can only give it a review that fits its most powerful scene.

Sexual actions with no sexual body parts involved.

Now I must go tend to my wicked craving for pancakes.

And waffles.

Friday, September 08, 2006

You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry: The Grudge

I'm a fan of remakes. To a point.

I enjoyed what happened with the new "Dawn of the Dead," though the idea of an Olympic sprinting zombie scares the crap out of my crap.

On the other hand, I think the umpteenth remake of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre will bring about an end to mankind.

I thought the retelling of the Star Wars universe was pretty.

Pretty bad.

So how should I feel when a great director, Sam Raimi (Spider-man, Army of Darkness), enters the field of Japanese horror?

Now don't get me wrong, I love the Japanese. They have amazing culture, attractive women, and sweet sweet food. Not as sweet as Chinese food, but what would expect from a Yid like me?

But there is something...odd about their defenition of "horror".

Allow me to explain.

This is a story about a ghost. Well, a ghost of sorts. You see...

"When a person dies a violent death, the spirit remains in the house, and whoever enters that spirit's home will be cursed."

I thought the premise was awesome. I loved "Poltergeist" and any movie involving demonic possession. The trailer looked kick-awesome, and it had Mr. Raimi at the helm. That plus Sarah Michelle Gellar (of Buffy fame), who is indeed a looker, steered me to a movie theater.

I was...confused?

The movie is interesting, in that it uses a scarcely touched upon device to invoke fear: audible clues.

I'm not talking about music, because anyone can do music. I'm talking about ambience and such.

With "The Grudge", the main instrument was the death rattle.

Seriously, they would have whole scenes where this weird rattling, gurgling, dying sound filled the screen.

By the end of the movie, however, I found the sound funny. I make fun of it now, rattling it off whenever my friends and I wander dark alleys (which happens more often than not).

The acting is fine in this, for a horror movie. The effects can be disturbing, but not too much so. The gore is...missing at times, but in your face (or lower jaw) at others.

Bill Pullman (Independence Day) gets a little screen time just to move the "plot" along, but doesn't get time to use his talent in this flick.

Throw in pointless extras who need some death and you have a pretty tepid horror film.

I give this movie a takin-Sarah-Michelle-Gellar-to-a-cinema-only-to-have-her-walk-out-halfway-through.

I'd recommend reading the back cover of this whilst wandering Best Buy. Then put it down.

And leave it at that.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Why I Gouged Out My Eyes: Starship Troopers 2

If someone ever suggests watching "Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation," question their fealty as a friend.

Nay, punch them in the throat and steal their lunch money.

This will go down as one of the lowest points in my viewing history. If I ever see a film of this caliber again, I will go clinically insane and be committed to a nice place with men in white suits and enemas.

In fact, while in the midst of this travesty, I longed for the comfort of an enema. An enema delivered by rocket engine, filled with tobasco sauce and pieces of glass.

This movie takes place about, oh, NEVER after the original movie. Some soldiers get caught in an outpost with bugs around them. But the real enemy...IS WITHIN!

Yeah. It's that bad.

No, wait. It's worse.

I can't explain how bad this film was. In fact, NO ONE can utter such words without bursting into flames and becoming THE BEAST!

But I digress.

Richard Burgi (The Sentinel) "stars" in this "film". His awesome facial expressions and one liners make this movie suck a little less.

A little.

I actually started this review in the middle of the movie, as I was sure it wasn't going to get any better.

It got worse.

By the end of the movie, I had tried to kill myself several times. My friends would have been there to help me, if they hadn't already leapt from the windows.

The acting in this film...was amazingly bad. I mean, there has been worse a high school play. MAYBE.

I longed for the days of "Dungeons and Dragons" whilst watching this. Seriously.

The one thing you can say is that this movie plays to cliches. There's the soldier who freaks out and says "we're all going to die!"; the sleazy soldier; the dumb-ass officer who gets people killed; the slut; the naive love interest; and the one soldier who actually gets things done is considered a washout.

The "action" in this movie is made into a stew of awful by the special effects. By special, I mean in the rufi-collata sense of the word. I felt physically abused by the crappy effects in this flick.

The rifles didn't fire blanks. BLANKS. The simplest of aciton movie props. Instead, they put teeny-tiny christmas lights in the muzzles and flipped them on and off, like some new parent trying out a failed disciplining technique.

Everyone I watched the movie with made excuses every five or six seconds to leave. One man actually left to perform physical acts of labor and told us to go on without him. He was the best actor of the night.

I won't give away the ending, not because I want you to watch this, but because the ending causes cancer. And I hate cancer.

I rate this This movie doesn't get a rating. In fact, this movie is like being bitten by a dog with rabies, going to the doctor, finding out you have inoperable tumors in 90% of your body, then catching fire for no apparent reason, and being hit by a meteor. In the groin. On your birthday. Which is also Valentine's day.

I ordered this filth on Netflix, which is still a good service (shameless plug) and the first copy they sent me was broken. I assumed at the time that it was overwatched. But now I realize what happened.

The previous viewer watched this film and couldn't bear the thought of anyone else suffering through its plotless hour and half. So he broke it. And then committed sepuku. He was the lucky one. I will now cry myself to sleep.

While drinking Drano.

Maybe then I'll feel clean again.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Buck Wild: Johnny Dangerously

Michael Keaton...what can be said about this man?

Scholar? No.

Sex symbol? I'd prefer not to think that.

Symbiotic alien from a far off planet? Ok, now we're way off the mark.

Best damn Batman ever? I think we've found our winner.

One thing that most people never realize, however, is that this actor has a fine history of comedy under his belt.

"Multiplicity"...I mean...well...I guess that blew a bit.

In fact, Keaton is one of those actors you really only believe in certain roles. He is too goofy for the really serious roles (Desperate Measures anyone?) but too good for straight goofball antics (see above).

So where can he be funny and still retain his charm? In the generally unknown "Johnny Dangerously."

Take any Cagney gangster film you've ever seen. Now add a dash of "Goodfellas" and some "Godfather" (moment of silent awe for the passage of the trilogy) and you have one of the funniest spoofs I've ever seen.

Johnny Kelly (Keaton) is a poor boy growing up during the depression. His mother is constantly sick, and his brother needs to be protected from the mean streets. When the opportunity for fast cash appears, Johnny has no choice but to enter the world of organized crime.

Johnny gives himself the nickname "Johnny Dangerously" and becomes a made man before men were made. He is a heart-throb with too much make-up and plays with his hat in every scene. His wordplay is on par with any Marx brother, and his facial expression is on the spot every time.

What makes this movie great is the fact that others have tried the same concept and failed. Remember "Mafia"? I know, I wish I hadn't brought that up either.

As a big fan of mafioso-type movies, I was surprised I had never come across this gem before. My friend (let's call him Eli) introduced me to the quaint and unforgettable epic.

Eli, I am in your debt.

As for a ranking, I really should come forward and say that I have no idea how to make an accurate rating system, considering my idea of a good rating involves some mentioning of Kate Beckinsale.

I guess I'm gonna give this one a nice, heaping spoonful of "what-a-nice-film".

Too weak?

What if I called it G-E-W-D?

How about having Kate Beckinsale sit on your lap whislt you root on the Cowboys bringing home the Superbowl in double overtime?

Sounds good to me.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Count This

I just added a counter to the page. Check it out at the bottom. And don't be sad if the number is small. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Wicked Hot: Reign of Fire

I love dragons. I'm putting this out for the whole world. I don't want anyone to come to this discussion thinking otherwise. In fact, I would rank dragons as up there with my obsessions, right next to games, zombies, and the ever present KB stalkfest.

So I guess you could say I was looking forward to "Reign of Fire."

Actually, you could say I tried to download the movie a month before it came out in theaters only to end up with disturbing German webcam footage I can only describe as "fertlizing?"

Christian Bale (Batman, American Psycho) and Matthew McConaughey (Sahara) star in this sleeper sci-fi movie about a post-apocalyptic future where dragons, awakened by a foolish boy and an even screwier plot device, reap havoc across the Earth.

It's kick-awesome!

The creators of this scale-flick went to the roots of the issue when they created the winged-lizards with terrible morning breath. They researched the mythology and came up with an entirely impossible scenario of dragons scorching the land black until finally going to sleep (and they would be sleepy.)

Plot holes aside, the characters play the straight card throughout the film and never giggle at the fact that they, in fact, are in a hardcore version of "Dragonheart".

OK, so Matt does go a little nuts at the end when he does his impression of Superman with an axe, but other than that, the movie takes itself very seriously.

In this version of the future, dragons, awakened from a few centuries of slumber, destroy what civilization man had accumulated in a matter of weeks. Everything is burned to a cinder...because (get this, I'm not joking) dragons eat ash.

Let that sink in.

So people hide away wherever they can, staying out of sight most of the time, starving because they can't grow food, and basically living one minute at a time. It's like The Simple Life, only less horrifying.

I watched this movie and enjoyed it, even though it does dissappoint on a good many levels.

The acting is...there, and the actors are good enough to play their parts. I think the writing is hit or miss for each scene.

The special effects are nice, though they won't wow you. The dragons look pretty sweet, and I found myself marveling at some of the effects.

The ending is...climactic enough, though I would have enjoyed some closure and maybe a little more TLC for the wounded hero, but hey, I didn't direct and no one took my calls.

If I had to rate this movie, which I guess I should seeing as this is a fargin' review, I'd give a back massage from a dazed Kera Knightly.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Are We There Yet? : Transporter

I find it rather amusing that, so soon after a post regarding a videogame turning into a film, I write about a film that could easily be a videogame.

"Transporter" is probably the best definition of "dumb but awesome" action movies. It is so mind-numbingly entertaining that you just can't stop watching.

There has been an influx of euro-action movies over the last few years, with "Brotherhood of the Wolf" and "District 13." Jason Statham has risen through the ranks of action stardom in the States, from his "debut" in "Snatch" to his new release, "Crank."

Let's take a little look at this flick through the eyes of a gamer.

The opening scene involves showcasing his abilities in a car, and the setting is easy enough that he barely breaks a sweat. His first out of car experience introduces new characters and, eventually, his fighting abilities. As the movie progresses, he faces more and more badguys at one time, until a climactic boss battle challenges his skills.

He never gets hurt, though blood does appear on his face to show that he has taken damage.

He can swim under water for what seems like hours at a time, and perform Superman-like leaps and twists. He also appears to dodge bullets from time to time.

Oh yeah, as in any action movie, no one can shoot accurately but him.

Statham's British nature and manner of speaking mean he isn't suited to "go American" like Gibson or Crowe. He plays SAS agent Frank Martin, so basically he is a BAMF on par with James Bond, except he can drive like Dale Earnhart on crack.

The gunplay is more over-the-top than any Jon Woo film, and the chase scenes pump adrenaline directly into your cerebrum. It's a rush.

You may have noticed I haven't gotten into the plot as of yet. Well...there really isn't one to speak of. I can sum it up here without ruining anything for you.

SAS agent, fallen from grace, becomes a wheelman for hire.

He has rules, and never breaks them...until now.

Hot asian chick hates her dad, who smuggles people.

All that and a goofy French policeman make up a visual binge that fills you where you need to be filled.

I enjoyed the movie because I was raised on dumb action. I like the Ahnuld films and the Van Dam atrocities. I even watched Steven Segal movies, which is why I can't have children (I wasn't sterilized, I just can't bear to bring children into a world where he breathes the air).

I'm gonna give this one a hearty having-a-drink-at-a-bar-when-you-see-Kate Beckinsale-across-the-room-and-she-waves. I think that about wraps this whole thing into a neat little package.

Coming soon: Transporter 2 (OK, We're Here. Can We Leave Now?)