Monday, October 30, 2006

Wishing I Were Blind: Ultraviolet

Bad movies are a lot like cancer.

When one is sorta ok, it's over quick and makes a fun story to tell your friends while drinking.

When its terminal....well, its long and painful and you lose some hair in the process. Except cancer lets you die with loved ones around. Bad movies aren't so giving.

"Ultraviolet" is cancer of the head.

Now, I love Milla Jovovich. She is a part of the reason "The Fifth Element" is a seminal part of my film collection. She made "Resident Evil" only sorta bad.

But NO ONE can make this movie good. Not Milla, not William Fichtner ("Prison Break" anyone?), not anyone. This pile of filth is the worst thing to happen to cinema I've seen in quite some time.

On a side note, I'd like to say how hard it is to judge a bad movie after seeing "Alone in the Dark", "Stay Alive", and countless other horrid stains on the fabric of time and space.

Back to the pain.

I am going to try, in as few expletives as possible, to explain this movie.

Let's start with the premise: A disease, man-made in America, turns people into Vampires. The rest of the world grows fearful of this hyper-AIDS and pulls a little Nazi-Germany style "cleansing" on the population.

Many things can be said about this plotline. Derivitive, overdone and boring are a few. I like to keep things simple, so let's just say "bad."

All good movies (or in this case, bad movies) need heroes. The heroine in this case is a sultry young vampiress named Violet (Milla Jovovich of the "Fifth Element"). Violet is sent to retrieve a super secret weapon from a super secret weapons facility in the middle of the heavily guarded sanctum of bad people who do bad things.

Easy money, right?

Not to rag on the movie--wait, no, that's exactly what I plan to do--this sequence only serves to warn the viewer of the horrors to come. There is no coherent stream of events leading the characters to do what they do; no acting to get in the way of the "action"; and no chance of you, the viewer, having a single clue as to what the F is going on.

The movie revolves around the contents of the super secret weapon Milla steals: It's a little boy named Six (Cameron Bright from "X-Men 3"). Now before you jump to the conclusion that this is the worst name for a character EVER, let me get to the bad guy.

Yes, there is a villain in this film played by the venerable Nick Chinlund (The sleazy cowboy in "Zorro"). This bad seed of a man kills without mercy and dreams up diabolical schemes while rubbing his hands together and laughing like a weasel. His name speaks of terrors unspoken of since the days of yore.

His name is Vicecardinum Ferdinand Daxus.

I know. That's the worst name ever thought of.


It hurts to hear it.

Makes the ears bleed.

If the names and opening sequence haven't already caused your DVD player to combust, the rest of the movie will make a sincere effort.

Now, I'm all for cameras getting jiggly with it. I like the spinning, mind-warping acrobatics of the "Matrix". What I don't like is when the camera becomes a ping pong ball during the championship match between Yin Hu Wong and Forrest Gump.

In one sequence (which, for all rights, was pretty nice) the camera flies alongside a bullet into a person's sunglasses. When the reflection fills the entire screen, the camera suddenly BECOMES that perspective and flies the other way. This ricochette happens several times, until the motion sickness level reaches "Blair Witch" proportions.

The other effects in the film seem to mimic the stylized look of "Sin City", or some other, better done, comic book movie. Except the rest of the film does not look like a comic book. Despite the flashy colors, the film appears to be grounded in a more realistic image, which makes the explosions and CGI all the more cheesy.

And why is it so hard to use a green screen? Did this ability skip a generation of effects managers? Do they not know how to cover up the fact that it's people in front of a screen? IT'S THE YEAR 2006, PEOPLE, LET'S GET ON THE FRIGGIN' BALL!

I didn't want to talk about the script. It's not that I have any qualms about tearing this screenwriter a new one, that's not the problem at all.

I just don't want to relive it in my head.

The person who wrote the final draft of this film was obviously very special. They had been living in cave for their entire lives. A cave on Mars. And they kept their fingers in their ears and their eyes squeezed shut.

The script was written as though the writer had never heard of the English language. More over, he had never spoken his native language (gibberish, or some dialect akin to it) to anyone else, thus denying him the experience of how ACTUAL DIALOGUE works.

I could give you gems (because they are rampant in this film) but I think one exchange sums it right up.

The bad man, Vicecardinum Ferdinand Daxus, points some crappy looking water pistol at Violet. She flicks blood at him, which incenses him so much he decides to DROP his GUN and pull out a SWORD. In order to put fear in the vampiress's heart, he utters this curse upon her soul:

"It's on."

Wait, don't move yet.

Violet, obviously taken aback by such strong, monosyllabic terms, retorts with a cutting remark:

"You bet it is."

OK, let your brain melt. I know it wants to.

What really strikes me about this scene (besides my hand, which repeatedly hit me in the face for watching this movie) is the fact that Daxus decides to have a little sword fight instead of just shooting Violet. His gun was still working. Violet uses it in the end to kill him. WHY DIDN'T HE JUST SHOOT HER WHERE SHE STOOD?

There's a lot of moments in the film where your jaw will drop due to the level of stupidity on screen. Guards in the inner most sanctums of the most secure buildings wield swords instead of guns. No one, and I mean no one, except for Violet can hit a damn thing, even from point blank range. The biggest threat to the government is a group of vampires that live in a BIG BUILDING not FIFTEEN MINUTES from the main lab.

My "favorite" is when Violet and Six go to the main citadel to challenge the baddies to a duel. There's one of her and 700 of them. When the duo arrive, the little boy convinces V not to go.

So they go play on a merry-go-round.

At this point, I stood from my chair and screamed at the TV for a solid hour.

This movie is horrendous. It's bad on a scale rivalling "Stay Alive." It burns the retinas. I can't enjoy food as much now, as I chewed half my tongue of to keep from cursing in the tongues of the demons.

There is no rating I can give to really do this film justice, but I will try.

This movie is like working-at-the-YMCA-in-Hong Kong-and-having-the-Sumo-wrestling-team-dump-all-their-jockstraps-on-you-after-a-six-hour-session-and-then-having-the-fattest-eat-you-feet-first-with-a-pair-of-chopsticks. And all this happens while wasps sting your sensitive spots.

I don't use this term often, but I hate what this movie did to me. If you only take one thing away from this message, let it be this:


Good day, and good viewing.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Pie to a Thousand Faces: Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Sometimes, when a mommy movie loves a daddy movie, they make sweet love.

It's very awkward to think about a film strip engaging in coitus, but stay with me for a sec.

Nine months after the little romp in the dark room, a baby movie is born, and it carries all the potential to be a blockbuster.

However, sometimes the mommy film is on the sauce, and the daddy film can't lay off the crack.

That's when you get "Killer Klowns from Outer Space."

I should start this review by talking about the plot, or the effects, or really anything, but I have to mention this now.

John Allen Nelson, of "24" and "Vanished", is in this movie. Of all the actors who could have risked their careers, why John? He has so much going for him. Not in 1988, but now. Thank the gods of movies he made it out alive.

So let's see, clowns who kill, are from outer space, and spell their names with "K".

The movie begins on the same premise as "The Faculty." In that sci-fi extravaganza, famous authors (who were aliens or influenced by aliens) wrote books like "War of the Worlds" and "Tommyknockers" in order to insulate the mainstream from the idea that creatures from beyond actually exist, so that the inevitable invasion would go unnoticed.

In "KKFOS", the circus was made to remind the forgetful public about the horrors of the make-up wearing, tiny car driving menace. From space.

And all the essentials of a carnival--the cotton candy, the popcorn, even the pies--all exist as part of the worst history lesson ever.

So what exactly do these klowns do?

They throw popcorn at you either by hand or with a handy "popcorn gun" (which is a POS Super Soaker with the label removed). The corn then turns into tiny, slinky-necked creatures that eat you or, more likely, harrass you as you get out of the shower.

The protagonist of this unending crapfest is Mike Tobacco (yup, that's the best they could come up with. He's played by Grant Cramer, someone you'll hopefully never give change to whilst using the subway). Mike is in love with Debbie (Suzanne, you'll never hear of her either), but so is county deputy Dave (John Nelson).

If you think this love triangle will be resolved somehow through the medium of an alien're wrong. It's just one of the plot lines that dissolve once the crazy begins.

Whilst making out on a lookout point in the back of a crappy car, Mike and Debbie spot a shooting star (read: alien craft entering our atmosphere). Thankfully, no one in this half-a-horse town can hear, so the sonic boom this sucker must have made goes unchecked.

The two lovebirds decide to investigate, and what should they find? A circus tent.

Let that sink in. The spaceship looks like a circus tent. Still with me, or do I need the smelling salts?

They go inside--INSIDE THE CREEPY TENT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAMN FOREST--to check it out, and discover giant, klowns.

Now, I don't know about you, but my crazy meter was about full at this time, and the movie had only run for about fifteen minutes. I thought it couldn't really get any stranger.

I'd chock that idea up to one of my lowest moments on the smarts pole.

Mike and Debbie go to tell Sheriff Mooney (John know him from somewhere, but for the life of you can't place it) Now it's pretty obvious that the last thing any sheriff wants to hear is that giant alien klowns are coming to take over the world and eat the population, but Mooney also happens to be a sack-o'-crap. He threatens to arrest the youngins and sends them on their way.

As the standard sci-fi cliche goes, it's up to these star-crossed lovers to save the day. But they aren't alone. They have two easily forgettable comic-reliefs to help out (Michael Siegal and Peter Licassi--nothing on them either. Apparently this movie is akin to the HIV: Once it's in you, it's all over)

I'd like to take a moment to give a public service announcement: If your town is ever overrun with ugly, large-lipped klowns (who have been known to kill) which reside in outer space, here is a helpful tip to bring the suckers down.

Aim for the big nose. Apparently, whenever Chuckles the Dancing Clown honked his shnozz at your birthday party, he was reminding you of an ancient knowledge from the bowels of human history, when Klowns freely picked at the flesh of mankind.

By placing a bullet or sharp object into the offending snosage, you will be treated to a shower of glitter, turn the klown into a spinning top, and then really crappy special effects take over and disperse the evil klownness.

Now, I know you people out there are wondering how in the hell a killer klown, even one from outer space, can maim, murder, and mistreat the sex-crazed teenagers of Middle America.

Well, there's the aformentioned popcorn gun.

Then there's the cotton-candy-death-ray, which puts people in big pink cocoons that slowly liquify the crunchy humans into a nice slurpy.

There's the big balloons...which really only serve as a way to capture a human so other humans can then rescue them.

There's the fact that they make shadow puppets. And then the shadow EATS YOUR SOUL!

And, of course, pies. Sweet, delicious pies. That melt your face off.

I won't lie to you: This movie knew enough not to take itself seriously. It has a tiny clown car, for crying out loud. It has a baby clown who don't get no respect. It has JOHN F'N NELSON!

Now, you might be wondering how I came across this little carpet stain. Allow me to share some deep, personal memories.

My sister and I used to peruse Blockbuster ("The BB" until Best Buy took that title by force) in search of bad horror movies. Having grown up with Freddy Kruger and Jason Vorhees, I was no stranger to guts and whatnot.

I cannot, with a good conscience, tell you that movies like "Dolls", "Pumpkinhead", and "Dollman VS The Demonic Toys" did not leave some invisible scars in my soul, but I watched them nonetheless. For you people. I burned in the red flame of bad cinema to save you all.

In a way, I'm like some other man who took on the pain and suffering of humanity so that others would live happily. I believe his name was Andy Kaufman.

I don't want to give this movie any credence with a review, nor can I act as though some part of me wasn't attracted to its campy, awful crapulence.

This movie is the spawn of every clown nightmare you've ever had, only made funny and not at all scary. If you have a fear of the clownish pursuasion, watch this movie.

The only way to defeat a phobia is to confront it. And you had too many braincells to begin with.

Watch carefully.

Monday, October 23, 2006

I'd Rather Die: Stay Alive

Horror movies tend to suck.

The plot lines are cliches of cliches, the acting is teletubby-esque, and the effects are either puke-your-pants disgusting or downright laughable.

Having been reared on "Nightmare on Elmstreet" and "Child's Play" movies, I cannot genuinely find modern horror films scary. This mournful state leaves me questioning the horror scene entirely.

So I would like to be able to say that "Stay Alive" has refreshed my take on the genre.

I would like to, but a lie of that magnitude would cause the great god Maquba (He who resides on High eating 7-layer burritos) to rend my flesh using only a dull spork and digest me for a thousand years in one of his seven great stomachs.

Needless to say, this may be one of the worst movies ever made, and Uwe Boll wasn't even in the same country when it was filmed.

This movie starts with a strike against it before the opening credits roll: It's a movie about a videogame.

Do not confuse this idea with the Videogame turned movie. Though "Resident Evil" was a flawed flick, it at least had the opportunity to appease loyal fans. (It never did, but it had the opportunity)

"Stay Alive" is a movie about a videogame. The game is a central plot element, like the VHS tape in "The Ring" or the chainsaw in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre." The idea of this is so stupid that it can't be original.

Indeed, it is not.

This movie draws from other crappy sci-fi films like "Arcade" and Japanese shorts that never should have seen the light of day. Though not based on another, better Asian film (like every other horror movie made in the last three years), "Stay Alive" does fall just as flat.

For starters, let's look at the characters.

Wait, sorry, can't find any.

OK, let's try looking at the charicatures. There we go. Every person in this movie plays a version of the modern gamer in the worst form of stereotyping I've seen since "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" played on Al-Jazeera.

You have Hutch (Jon extra from "Terminator 3") as the broding, wants a real-life-but-can't-get-it-yet gamer who is loyal and friendly and oh-so-shy around the lady-types.

He is friends with October (Sophia Bush, a random hottie from "Van Wilder") and her brother Phineas (Jimmi Simpson from "Herbie Fully Loaded") October is the goth-wannabe who sort-of pines for Hutch but is constantly defending her brother, who can't say a line without offending some race or gender.

For example:"I beta tested once. It was a lot like eating *#(&$%: It's awesome at first, then it just gets (*&$)(% monotonous."

I can't stress to you how sleezy this character is. He's akin to a vat of grease being dumped on a car salesman. I don't know if that conjured up the right mental image, but it sure would be fun to see.

The headliner of this little story is Swink (Frankie Muniz, little Malcolm all grown up). Swink it the younger gamer, smarter and wanting much more to be a tough black kid over a wussy little nerd. His dialogue is generally the dumbest of any of the characters; ironic because he's supposed to be the smart one.

I guess the premise of this tale really sets it apart from the rest of the garbage out there today: If you die in a videogame, you die for real.

Let's say that one again, just in case it didn't sink in the first time: If you die in a VIDEOGAME, you DIE for REAL.

Lose enough brain cells yet?

The game is based off the legend of Count Bathory, the Blood Countess. Had the movie done away with the game and just been a story about Bathory's sick fetish for bathing in blood, this could have been genuinely creepifying and awesome.

Instead, it is lamer than a one-legged race horse.

What bothered me the most was the fact that everyone in the movie was clinically retarded. I'll give some evidence to support this claim.

In one scene, well into the movie, October is out smoking a cigarette. She sees a demon in a window of a half-built house. She throws the butt down in anger and, in a huff, GOES INSIDE TO INVESTIGATE ON HER OWN. Obviously she has a little trouble inside, what with the demonic videogame-graphic-looking Countess attacking her, so she ARMS HERSELF WITH A #(*&$*^%(*^ HAMMER AND NAILS.

For some reason, the writer didn't think the audience was smart enough to remember the title, so the characters mention it EVERY SCENE.

Swink: I'll play the game so we can all STAY ALIVE.
Phineas: The name of the game is STAY ALIVE.
Disembodied Voice: Your only way out is to STAY ALIVE.

I realized about halfway through that the title was really a warning for viewers. It was advice I found hard to follow, but I managed to STAY ALIVE until the end of the film.

I really really hated watching this movie, but not as much as I hate remembering it for this review. I'd like to spend hours telling you all about the hackneyed acting, the unbelievably bad gore, or the random "love story" that crops up like a case of herpes, but I would much rather stick my face into a lawnmower and try to whistle.

This movie gets no rating, as I cannot invent pain suitable for what it did to me.

If I hadn't watched a little "Shaun of the Dead" before now, I doubt I would have been able to STAY ALIVE.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Dead Man Jogging: Dawn of the Dead

I fear only a few things in this world:

I am afraid of heights. Actually, I'm afraid of falling from heights, or landing after said fall.

I am afraid of spiders, but that's OK because they are the spawn of all that is evil. I mean, they have 8 legs. EIGHT! I get by just fine with two, so what the hell are they using those other six for? Murder, that's what.

I am also, to a lesser extent, fearful of zombies.

Now, I know what you're thinking: Adam, zombies aren't real.

Well, you are a stupid person. Zombies are very real, and are the bane of our living civilization. Just read Max Brook's series "The Zombie Survival Guide" and "World War Z" to understand the ghoulish threat.

As we all know (all of us IN the know) zombies are slow and dumb. This has always been our only real advantage over the horde: We can run and outthink the walking dead.

Unfortunately for everyone, filmmaker Zach Snyder wasn't satisfied with George Romero's trilogy o' perfection, and he had to dream up something awful: A long distance sprint champion zombie.

Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm not that fast. I can move when the time calls for it (alien invasion; clearance sale at Best Buy) but for the most part all I can manage is a high speed saunter.

The idea of a zombie on amphetamines scares the bejeezus out of me.

Enter "Dawn of the Dead" 2004.

The story line of this film is similar to the Romero classic: A group of survivors band together in a shopping mall during the inevitable zombie invasion.

Why a shopping mall? It's never really explained why anyone with a brain would try to fortify a building whose sole purpose is to let people in at every orifice. After a few minutes of the movie it becomes a little clearer, as no character is really playing with a full deck.

The main players in this Homeric drama are Ana (Sarah Polley from...a bunch of random crap...and "ExIsTenZe"), Kenneth (Ving F^@%#N Rhames from all that is awesome) and Michael (Jake Weber from "Meet Joe Black").

Michael is undoubtedly the hero, as he works at Best Buy and anyone who works there is a hero in my book. Kenneth is the moping cop who holds out against all odds that he will be reunited with his brother again.

Ana is...well, she's the female lead. Her role involves being put in those precarious situations women like to get into during horror movies. She is attacked in a shower, falls in love with a doomed hero, and is predated upon.

Most people who see the movie say it isn't as good as the original. This is very true, but that is not to say that this film is all bad.

The script is, though. All bad, I mean. It's just not a believable peice of work. The whole "zombies can run for weeks on end, never tiring or tearing the non-breathing muscles" thing really threw me for a loop. The dialogue can also be...sad. But really, for a zombie movie, it ain't half bad.

The acting is nice, even if it is over done. I personally like a little melodrama with my bucket o' gore, so it worked out fine for me.

Which brings me to the gore. The effects team went to the grinder to pull out the best looking headshots I've seen in years. You can really feel the bits of brain and skull when a dead-head gets it. Bravo, creepy tech guys.

As with all horror movies, there needs to be a steady supply of bodies. Now, monster movies and slasher films usually provide a variety of teenagers and old men to rip up, but zombie movies come in a different form.

Since there are already thousands of "bodies" stumbling around, the deaths have to be over-the-top of over-the-top. Heads must be severed, limbs must fly, and at least one person must die in a hideously painful way. Again, the tech guys (creepy though they may be) do not drop the ball.

One issue people had with the film was the ending, and rather than be a complete backbirth and spoil it for you, I will just say this: GET A FREAKIN' LIFE!

We zombie fans get so few movies nowadays, we should be thanking mister Snyder for even gracing the silver screens with his work. Romero only comes out with his golden epics once in a blue moon, so we need to take what we can get. (Not that we enjoy films like "Undead," but you see what I'm getting at)

This film is not perfect. In fact, it's not really up to snuff. But what it does right, it does amazingly. Despite the fact that this movie added a new dimension to my fear of zombies, I enjoyed it.

This movie gets an evening-with-George Romero-and-Kera Knightly-spoiled-by-impromptu-zombie-attack-only-to-see-George-whip-out-a-12-gauge-and-go-to-town-on-the-bastards.

On a personal note, this movie is recommended for dates where one member of the party is either squeamish or easily scared by shock-scenes.

Also, my review of "The Core" somehow ended up below "JC: Vampire Hunter." I attribute this to the fact that Jesus was said to have walked on water, so a puddle of crap like "The Core" should be no problem.

Watch on.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Do I Smell Sulfur? Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter

Most of you read the title of this film and laughed. You probably think this is a joke.

Well, is AIDS a joke?

How about dead puppies?

Yeah, thought not.

I walked into this little bag of tricks whilst visiting my friend Warren. He of course filled me in on the title, but I thought little of that.

I was overconfident. I had seen "Manos: Hands of Fate?" and lived. How much worse could this be?

Well, let's begin. From the beginning. Where things tend to start.

I watched a trailer from this DVD, something I do to gauge the quality of the film by its peers.

The one trailer was, for lack of a better word, a rape of film. It was called "Harry Knuckles."

The main character had knuckle hair that would make His Majesty Kong jealous. And he pretended to fight. A lot.

After having my cerebrum doused in this flamboyant spectacle, we decided to move on to the feature presentation. I actually had a moment of dread, where my stomach kind of pinched up. It passed, but looking back it was my only warning.

The first thing you notice about this film is a man. No, not THAT man, I'm talking about the evangelical bearded menace who springs from behind his mother's garden with a bible in one hand and...well, that's all he's carrying.

Cause that's all he needs.

This man, let's call him "the Bard", introduces you to his mother's house, which is in fact a mirror to our souls. "It's musty," he says, "and neglected."

After watching this film, I wish I'd stuck with neglect.

The first scene is a good taste of what's to come. A woman tries to get into her car. She is a vampire.

We watch said vampire (read: woman with obviously plastic teeth she bought at the 99 cent store) attack a woman, suck her blood, for a spell, kick the door to the car closed so she can slam the corpse into it, then proceed to REOPEN THE DOOR SO SHE CAN GO FOR A DRIVE.

I had a flashback here. "Manos" had just begun, and there were long stretches of footage with no dialogue and no point.

Back to "reality," we meet two priests who are concerned with the Lesbian Shortage (Go ahead. Read it again. It's not gonna change) in Ottowa.

In order to save the diminishing Sapphite population, the priests (one of whom bears an outrageous pink mohawk) enlist the help of one Jesus H. Christ.

They find the son of Man performing a baptism. After informing him of the situation--which he already knew, being JC--the group is assaulted by a group of fanged fiends.

Jesus survives, though the ringleader of the lesbian-leeching-legions escapes. Christ vows to avenge his disciples' deaths and rid the world of these homophobic nosferatu.

In order to do that properly, he shaves his beard, gets a haircut, and puts sizable rings in his ears.

Yup, it's AWESOME CHRIST to the rescue.

After a musical number (yes an honest to G-d musical number, though you'll be pressed to find a handful of talent during the lengthy parade of WTF and ???) Jesus goes off to meet another priest who gives him a place to stay.

This held the title of "most random thing to happen in the movie" for about thirty-eight seconds.

As Jesus plods along the road carrying wood to make stakes, he is attacked by a clown-car full of (dramatic music) ATHEISTS.

I cannot explain how bad the following fight scene is. Needless to say, it is an action sequence with neither action nor...sequences.

Imagine if the baby J (grown up of course) used a mixture of kung-fu poses and epileptic fits to fend off overweight comic store-owning gentry (with the occasional hideous woman thrown in for balance).

Now take a moment of silence for the pain.

The rest of the movie follows suit, with random characters--many speaking in rhyme or scat--appearing to either kill a lesbian or save Jesus.

In one particularly visceral episode, we watch the J-man plead for help from passers-by. The only person to lend aid is...a transvestite. Who sings him a song. And says "goodnight, sweet prince."

I can't make this up.

In order to take on the minions of Satan, Jesus finally enlists the help of a Luchadore, Santo. Next to the freaky doctor who uses lesbian skin to make vampires immune to sunlight (yeah, I didn't quite follow it either), Santo is the oddest character in the movie.

That's not really saying much though. Everyone in this film has that "just escaped from an insane asylum for marrying a gummy-bear" look to them.

Jesus gets to the end of his quest, and the "climax" of this cinematic abortion is a fight scene that stretches the definition.

When the bearded Bard returns to close the film, I applauded. It wasn't just that the crazed man was a much better actor than anyone else in the film, it's just I was so happy for it to be over.

How happy?

Let me give you some insight into what watching this movie is all about.

The production quality made me think it was shot in the 70's. The 1870's. It was made in 2001.

Unlike most bad films, "Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter" didn't suffer from boom mic's jumping into shots. That's because they didn't use booms. Instead, they dubbed in all the audio (poorly) about a year after filming, so any emotion they might have found during the scene is long gone.

The effects....well, let's just shy away from that one. In one scene, a mad scientist rubs his face with what appears to be a sheet of cookie dough. It supposed to be human flesh.

In another, G-d speaks to his son..........through a cherry covered bowl of ice-cream.

In yet another, Mother Mary speaks to Jesus.....through a Christmas ornament that flashes when she speaks.

The music is sub-par for the 70's retro the directors were going for (assuming they had a plan, and this wasn't all just the outcome of LSD and cameras being introduced to the same environment).

During the brief intermission (self imposed. I couldn't take anymore) my friend Yoni tried to burrow out of the room. He was, sad to say, unsuccessful in his endeavors.

If I had to rate this movie, I would take a large and very unpleasant duece on the Holy Bible, mail it to the Pope, and then dunk myself in a vat of acid.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to wash out my brain.

And I have a friend named Jack who is going to assist.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Worst Part of a Movie: The Core

I want to begin this review with an anecdote.

I spent a year in Israel before college, mainly goofing off. I did volunteer at a fire department in the town of Nitzrat Ilit, or Upper Nazareth.

One thing I learned early on about firefighting is this: There is a LOT of down time.

Since my Hebrew was, at the time, a little bleh, I decided to watch TV in order to dull my brain until the coveted bell rang.

I also learned something about Israeli movie channels.

They show the same movie over....and over.....and over......and OVER!

Thus I ended up watching "The Core" about 57 times.

Give or take.

Even compared to such scientific wonderments as "The Day After Tomorrow" or "Flubber," this movie pushes the boundaries for suspension of disbelief.

The premise is simple: The core of the Earth has stopped spinning. Since the core is iron, it creates our illustrious magnetic field and keeps the Earth in tip-top shape. With it all sorts of jacked up, the Earth "will experience slight turbulence and then ...explode."

Enter professor, Dr. Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart of "Thank You For Smoking"). Dr. Keyes realizes what is going on after watching a thrilling reenactment of Hitchcock's "The Birds." He promptly turns to drink.

The good doc is dragged before the eyes of the government to outline a plan. His first option: Drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

This does not go over well with the politicians, who had plans to hit on the summer pages. So another "scientist," Dr. Zimsky (Stanley Tucci of "The Devil Wears Prada". Yeah, I saw that one too. And I liked it. I AM WHO I AM. DEAL WITH IT) proposes another solution.

Bore into the center of the Earth, drop off 150 megatons of nuclear arms, then "ride the world's biggest shockwave back to the surface."

Can you smell the intense thrill ride waiting to happen?

Now, this movie needed some human conflict, so the writers decided to throw in a genius (mad) scientist (Delroy Lindo of "Romeo Must Die") who has the technology and know-how to build a machine that can tunnel to the Earth's core in under a few days, withstand the intense pressure and heat, and carry several people both comfortably and precariously, ensuring some will die in painful ways.

He hates the Zimsky fella. So does the rest of the crew. So will you. This is why, by the end of the movie, Zimsky does something stupid and brave that saves lives and the world too. Don't you just love predictable theater?

All crazy, untested craft need crazy, maladjusted pilots. Enter Rebecca Childs (Hillary Swank. Come on, you know what she's been in. Don't even lie). Childs is.....awkward. She does her job well, but is unable to really command anyone, which is why she is overlooked by her peers, employers, and father.

Taste the drama. A little tart? Yeah, my thoughts too.

Keyes brings his own baggage aboard in the form of Serge Leveque (Tcheky Karyo from "The Patriot"). Serge is a weapons tech, and he is pretty much the only character who you would honestly miss if he were gone. Karyo plays him off the cuff, a little absent-minded, and ever the father figure.

Sadly, that is where the acting stopped.

You see, the acting in this movie is bad. Bad in a way that only "Sound of Thunder" or "Mary Kate and Ashley go to Sing Sing" could top. The writing is....well, atrocious is a big word. In fact, it's bigger than the words used in this SCIENCE FICTION MOVIE.

The characters have no memory. As soon as the disposable commander (Bruce Greenwood) takes a lava shower, the crew forgets him and smiles their way on to the next death scene.

The special effects are hit or miss.

Scratch that. They all pretty much foul out. The lightning storm is too over-the-top; the super Global Warming is...well, just kinda bad; and a lot of the stuff aboard the ship is just disappointing. On the plus side, the shuttle crash early on is...ok. Kind of heart... thumping.

The main draw of this movie is..................


No, I'm lost again. This movie shouldn't have been made. The actors deserve better. "Thank You For Smoking" was a hilarious movie, and Ekhart rocked the socks off every scene. Hillary Swank won an Oscar, for crise sakes.

This movie is akin to waking-up-next-to-a-platypus-after-a-long-night-of-binge-drinking-wine-boxes.

I'm actually feeling quite clean (in the movie going sense) as I have seen "The Departed."

I can't review it, as it is an A+++ movie, but I will tell you that it is quite a chaser when drinking down this type of drivel.

Good viewing.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Every Journey Begins With a Flying Scissor Kick: Transporter 2

Action movies can be ridiculous. That's why we love them.

Governor Arnold (pronounced Ah-Null-d) made the best films before his move to politics. When he eventually steps down after his second term as president, we will all be waiting for "Terminator 4."

I recall with no small amount of pleasure the one-liners of "Total Recall" and "True Lies."

Heck, Sly Stallone had some great moments before he went all sorts of crazy and started making artsy films and bad psychological thrillers ("I See You?" What the hell was that? It felt like the diabetes of film).

Seeing as I am a fan of these films, you can understand my compulsion to flock toward them.

Jason Statham (of "Snatch" fame) returns to the driver's seat in the high-octane, low emission sequel to the sleeper hit "The Transporter" with the aptly named "Transporter 2."

If you recall my review of the first film, I said that "The Transporter" reminded me of a videogame. In the same sense, the sequel reminds me of a comic book.

The hero is deep and brooding, though more than capable of wooing small children and attractive-billionaire wives.

His skills could land him a high paying job anywhere in the world, but he's chosen the life of solitude.

He is basically invincible.

He can fly.

Now, for those of you who haven't seen the movie--and I'm sure there are quite a few of you out there--those last two might not make a whole lotta sense. Allow me to explain.

Anyone who has seen Jason's latest works knows that he is fond of launching himself in the air and delivering a crushing kick via the splits. Gravity, it would seem, is at a loss as to how this all happens, but it is going to get back to me as soon as the numbers are crunched.

In "Transporter 2," Jason's high-wire antics are as insane as possible, rivaling "The Matrix" for implausible stunts.

One scene in particular stands out. My memory is a little hazy (damn you, Mr. Pibb, and all your sugary goodness) so if the images are off from the real thing, forgive me:

Jason breaks into a top-secret biochemical lab,
uncovers the secret plot of the nefarious boss-man,
has the two vials of insanely toxic chemical thrown from a few story window,
catches the vials (which are in super-sensitive glass, by the way),
lands shoulder first on a car,
performs a split-second, leap-in-the-air-and-do-the-splits to avoid two crashing cars,
and still catches the tumbling plague jars.


The gunplay is over-the-top, which is to say "awesome."

Kate Nauta (from...nothing you'll ever see) plays the henchwoman Lola (with whom there is an awesome boss-fight near the end). She likes to fight crime in the old-fashioned sense. IE, she wears next-to-nothing and wields highly powerful sub-machine guns that no one with spaghetti arms should be able to handle.

The plot is...ok, let's be fair. You aren't here about the plot. You care for it almost as much as you do for mosquito larvae.

A movie such as "The Transporter" is not made to win over Oscar judges; it is made to kick ass and chew bubble gum.

Well guess what, kids?

Jason Statham doesn't chew bubble gum.

The action is, like Native Americans, intense (think about it, get it, groan, get over it). This is the kind of movie that starts up and never stops, leaving you reeling from scene to scene, but in a good way. It's probably a safety feature, the lack-of-plot. Otherwise you might overload and die.

Seriously. I heard it happened to some kid whilst performing a "Die Hard" marathon. Too much awesome. Not enough suck.

If you have yet to put this movie in your Netflix queue, go on ahead. It's very dumb, as you probably figured by watching the previews, but it's very worth it. You'll laugh at yourself for watching, but walk away happy.

I'd rate this movie a night-of-watching-"LOST"-reruns-whilst-cuddled-up-with-Famke Jansen who, while not in this movie, is smokin' in ways you can only dream of.

Now I've got to get some sleep.

I still have to watch "Crank", and I hear it's "an adrenaline rush unlike any you've ever experienced."

Pray for me.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Hail to the King: Army of Darkness

Let's face it: Anyone who knows B-movies has seen "Evil Dead."

This symbolic franchise from legendary filmmaker Sam Raimi launched his career.

The story is simple: Take on group of horny teenagers, add a spooky cabin, sprinkle in some voodoo and black magic and...voila! Cult classic.

The blood is over the top, the creatures are sadistic and witty, and the camera is all over the place.

It's B movie at its best.

So what happens when the same movie gets a sizable budget to work with?

"Army of Darkness"

Bruce Cambell--aka the biggest B-movie star in history--stars as Ash, a rough-around-the-edges clerk from S-Mart (sporting-goods dep.). He's just been dumped in the Dark Ages in the middle of two angry kingdoms duking it out.

Like any good time traveling hero, he is immediately siezed and thrown "into the pit". After one of the funniest monster fights in the history of film, Ash earns the reverence of the "primates" and starts his adventure to get home.

Now I could go on and on about the Book of the Dead, the damsel in distress, the deadite army, and of course, the twin Ash, but I don't want to ruin what is one of my all time favorites.

From a purely objective point, this movie is bad. And it knows it. And it loves it.

The camera work is brilliant, because you can do anything when you don't have money for big rigs.

The special effects are in the "Jason and the Argonauts" range, though the multi-layered images tend to get fuzzy after the third or fourth plane.

The action sequences are, for lack of a better term, KICK-AWESOME (it's my own terminology. Take it, chew it, love it) Bruce Cambell, sans one hand, uses a chainsaw and his trusty boomstick (12 gauge Remington with a hair trigger) to mow down the dissidents of the dark realm.

"Army of Darkness" brought me into the world of B-movies and kept me there despite all the pain and misery such films can cause. The outright humor and over-the-top attitude make this flick a classic in every sense of the word.

Like all good B-movies, "Army of Darkness" is about a character with a square jaw. Namely: Ash.

Ash is the epitome of B-movie action hero. he spouts off one liners (Hail to the king, baby; Groovy) while fearlessly taking on demons and skeletons. He is so BA that he sawed off his own hand when it "went bad".

For those of you not in the know, Ash is a carryover from Bruce and Sam's earlier films "Evil Dead" and "Evil Dead 2". These were essentially the same movie with different characters. That isn't so much a bad thing, as both were attrociously amazing and earned their place at the top of the B-movie food chain.

What makes me sad is the fact that, while Sam went on to direct "Spider-Man" and "The Grudge" (shudder), Bruce has only gone as far as "Hercules," "Brisco County Jr," and "Man With the Screaming Brain." Sometimes there's just no justice in tinsel town.

If you haven't seen "Army of Darkness" or the "Evil Dead" movies, go do it now. If you are reading this blog and enjoying yourself, you'll get a kick out of these items.

I'd rate them being-named-king-of-a-small-island-nation-and-having-a-thousand-Kate Beckinsales-as-your-harem.

Yeah, it's good to be the king.

"Hail to the king, baby."