Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ask Questions...Never: Shoot 'Em Up

Now here's a movie that gets it right.

No pretense for quality dialogue, no characterization to get in the way of mindless violence, and no story to bog down the action.


"Shoot 'em Up" serves a heaping helping of lead with a side order of snappy dialogue and more one-liners than a Larry the-cable-guy stand-up special. 

Clive Owen ("King Arthur", "Sin City") stars as Mr. Smith, a nameless British action hero with no past or present. He likes carrots and justice, and can improvise in a pinch to get the baddies.

He can also defy gravity. 

Enter Paul Giamatti ("Sideways") who plays Hertz, a well versed and family-oriented hitman with one thing on his mind: kill a newly born baby.

Finally, just for good measure, add Monica Bellucci ("Matrix") as a prostitute who specializes in infant-fantasies. 

And what's it all about? Lord, I wish I could explain. The "plot" is so odd and bad-political-thriller-esque that I can't even begin.

The baby in question relates to some governor who is running for president, and then there's the gun control people making super weapons for the faceless goons to use in vain against the hero. 

It all winds down to a series of rooms  that beg to be splattered with blood. 

And the film does not disappoint. 

John Woo, the high emperor of gun play, made a name for himself with his unique ballet of gunfights. 

Director Michael Davis makes a name for himself with guns that never empty, gravity that is optional, and carrots as weapons. 

In one scene, which sticks with me, Clive speeds down a highway, leans out of his, grabs a gun off the ground, drives straight at an enemy van full of baddies, shoots out his window, shoots out THEIR window, CRASHES into the van, FLIES through the window and lands SOFTLY in the back, and shoots all five goons before they can draw.


I'm out of breath. 

This is not a movie for substance. This is not a movie for girls who like ponies.

This is a movie for beer, meat and candy bars. 

This is a movie for people who don't care for plots, but want hot women and gore. 

I give this movie an eight, based solely on its action.

Watch carefully.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Montezuma's Other Revenge: A Mexican Werewolf in Texas

There are few things in this world that truly scare me.


The dependency of American youth on MTV to influence their political choices


Australia (mainly for its spider population)

Being the only trained combatant in a world under siege by zombies

Did I already say spiders?

Now I can add "independent horror films" to my list.

To say that this movie is terrible completely deflates the root word "terror". I actually had trouble coming up with a way to express my distaste in this film.

Allow me to enumerate the failures of this epic waste.

Let's start with the characters. As with all horror films of the last half century, this movie decided that using original characters would be a bad move, so they went with stereotypes. Only they chose stereotypes that don't actually exist, so the logical motives are gone during character interactions.

For example:

Two girls, Slutty and Narrator, are in a car as the monster attacks the windshield. Narrator yells out, "distract it!" Slutty complies by FLASHING the monster.

And I mean that literally. She pulls up her top in the film's only nudity, and because the actress looks and sounds like a freaking twelve-year-old, you have to turn away to avoid becoming an extra on "Profile of a Predator."

Another example, Grumpy Father finds out his daughter is sexually active with her boyfriend, Ethnic BF. He decides, because the Mexicans in the town are troublesome, to KILL the boy.

But he can't just kill him. He has to dress as El Chupacabra (the "werewolf" of the title).

The logic is...missing from this film, but I can't really stick to that mantra any longer. I'd have to explain the whole film. I'll give one more example as a segue to the next rant.

Slutty and her boyfriend, Biker, go out to the desert to have some sex. El Chupacabra arrives and eats Biker. THE NEXT SCENE shows Slutty, Narrator, and Booky, their college-bound (and thus death-bound) friend at a diner. Slutty MAKES JOKES about the death of her boyfriend.

Jokes. To cops. Who don't seem to want to investigate. Because the slut is coming on the them.

WTF doesn't cover this one.

In this scene, we also see a directorial choice that boggles the mind. As I said before, this scene follows, immediately, the death of Biker. But when Slutty recounts the event, clips from the scene IMMEDIATELY PRIOR play over the dialogue.

This is a redundancy of Biblical proportions. The audience, unless incapacitated by the terrible film (which is a distinct possibility) already knows what happened ten seconds before, so the dialogue is pointless. Showing clips of the scene is just awful, mainly because it makes us watch the horrible scene twice.

At this point I should explain the beasty, as many of you out there don't know what is El Chupacabra.

A long time ago, during a time of strife in the Mexican political arena, a man came up with a great way to avoid scandal. He created a sense of panic around the mythological creature El Chupacabra (Spanish for goat sucker, I kid thee not).

Now, I believe in many things that are not seen, such as Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster, and original screenplays coming out of Hollywood, but I had some trouble swallowing the idea of the goatsucker. Let's move on before I piss off some cryptozoologist out there.

The monster make-up is...actually, let me start over. The sweaty hair ball make-up is awful. The creature looks exactly like roadkill, which is most likely because the no-budget costume "department" had to scrape their props off the side of the highway. Just look at the picture up there.

The script is bad. I'd love to use a better word, but nothing really gets the point across. I mean, the choice was made, possibly early on, to use VO (voice over narration) over the ENTIRE movie, including some of the monster attack scenes. For those of you not on the inside track of filmdom, VO is the screenwriting equivalent of necrophelia.

But you can't knock the narration too much because, without it, you wouldn't have a clue as to what was going on.

The music is early 80s synthesizers, but played by someone who had never before seen a piano or keyboard. It was so bad I went deaf as part of my body's defensive system.

Finally, and this can't be emphasized enough, the filmmaker's made the worst choice of all: They hinted at a sequel.

I could go on forever, but I really must be getting back to the real world. There are more movies to review, and most will be better than this. In fact, I'd say I have a new winner for worst movie of the year.

Let's just end on this note. The love interest of Narrator, Ethnic BF, has the worst Hispanic accent of any actor, to include the early Hollywood films where us gringos would play Mexicans in "Zorro" and "The Lone Ranger."

This film took minutes from my life, so I give it a negative seven out of ten.

Please don't see this movie, but if you must, do so with the remote handy.

Watch carefully.