Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Expendables II-review

This movie is hilarious.  If you go into “The Expendables II” knowing that what you are getting is aging, action, stars kicking ass and throwing one-liners, then this movie will be a real treat for you. If you want an action movie that you can take seriously, this is not going to be your cup-o-tea.  Suspension of disbelief is needed along with a desire to see huge men shoot, stab, and maim their enemies like the days when meat-headed action movies roamed the cinema like dinosaurs in a Jurassic jungle.

The Expendables are back.  After a successful mission to Nepal the team is called to retrieve an item from a safe inside a plane that was shot down in Albania.  Once they get the item the team is captured and the newest member, Billy, is killed by the villain Jean Vilain, played by Jean Claude Van Damme (a character with one of the funniest names for a villain outside of a Bond movie).  The Expendables vow vengeance for their fallen comrade and the hunt begins to find and kill Vilain.

The action in this movie is intense.  There is a ton of fun shoot-‘em up scenes, intense fights, and great one-on-one mashes that make this pretty damn cool.  Loads of explosions followed by one-liners that would make any action fan proud.  Sylvester Stallone and Jean Claude Van Damme have a really awesome fight at the end that is like something out of the movie “Commando.” Jet Li is impressive as usual, but sadly he is barely in the movie as his character gets written out fairly quickly.

New to the team we get Maggie, played by Yu Nan. She does a good job playing the tech girl with some romantic interest in Stallone.  Van Damme is hilarious; always surrounded by a minion who looks like the Soup Nazi. He is over the top in the best way possible.  He says his lines like they were crafted by Shakespeare. Then, even when it’s truly inconvenient, he delivers a roundhouse kick for no reason except that it looks cool.  He is sinister; a lot of fun to watch, and much more of a threat then Eric Roberts and Stone Cold Steve Austin were in the previous film.

The original “The Expendables” seemed to be trying a more serious tone.  This one went right for the comedic jugular and it works in a big way.  It is way better action movie and it feels like it’s well put together with less faux maudlin scenes to try to evoke a “war is hell” attitude out of the audience.  If you are a fan of action comedies from the 1980-90s then “The Expendables II” will satisfy you in just the right way.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I had heard interesting things about this 2008 horror movie being interesting and clever. It’s on YouTube for free now so I gave it a try and truth be told I hated “Deadgirl”.  From every simpering whine of the adult characters playing high school students, to every pandering scene stolen from an exploitation movie just to shock you.  This movie was utter trash and I hated every minute of it.  It has no laughs; there are several plot holes that could house the Grand Canyon and no redemption.

Two jerks, Rickie, and J. T., are at a high school and decide to cut class. They go off to the abandoned nut house to drink beers and cause a ruckus.  While there they come across a nude girl strapped to a table.  J.T. immediately wants to do nothing but rape her. Rickie is at first disgusted by this and rather than stop his friend he leaves him to do as he will.   The next day J.T. tells Rickie that the girl is undead because during his time with her he tried to kill her three times and she kept coming back.  Again, instead of being disgusted by his psychotic friend he wants to avoid the whole thing.  Then J.T. invites another friend to the Deadgirl raping.  Rickie is only slightly perturbed until it seems that they might want to use the girl of his dream as a replacement girl once this current Deadgirl starts falling apart.  Will Rickie ever do anything to stop J.T?

All the characters are horrible people.  Rickie shows no moral backbone so he is not a good protagonist.  J.T. goes from zero to rapist in 30 seconds and brings friends along for the ride.  There is a bully character that is so two-dimensional it’s cartoonish. The girl that Rickie desires is dating the jock bully even though he is clearly a crazy jerk; going so far as to KIDNAP two people who yell at him.  This movies’ characters move beyond simple “stupid horror character” movie logic and border on brain dead. Whoever wrote this has no idea how people speak, interact, or comprehend their surroundings. 

The scenes of rape are there just to be shocking and add nothing to this narrative, making it pure exploitation.  Sometimes I don’t mind exploitation movies when there are characters that make the action worthwhile or there is a payoff to make it all come together.  This had nothing like that the ending was not enough of a payoff to make any of it worth a damn.  It also never answered what became of the bully character that gets bitten and turns zombie, or the Deadgirl once she escaped.  Believe it or not this movie is called “Deadgirl.” She is barely even in this movie.  You just hear two supposed teenagers yell at each other.  One, about how he wants his old girlfriend and the other, how he wants to keep raping this corpse. 

In the end I had to ask: “What was the point?”  It’s not funny or shocking unless you are some sort of shut-in. Really, it’s just a waste of time that is in bad taste. If you want a zombie movie that is funny watch “Fido” or “Shaun of the Dead”.  If you want zombie movies that are shocking watch “[Rec]” or “28 Day’s Later.” If you want something that is sort of a strange mix of the two “Slither” might be more your bag.  So save your time and give this one a miss.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Return to Oz-review

If you are a fan of “The Wizard of Oz” film from 1939 this movie is a very colorful follow-up.  Made in 1985, this movie is not a musical and is drastically different in its tone and mood.  It’s a darker and almost nightmarish movie at times.   Brought to us by Disney, this movie gives us more content from the L. Frank Baum novels.

Dorothy Gale, played by Fairuza Balk, is living in Kansas after her first adventure to Oz.  Her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry think she is crazy so they put her in a nuthouse and she is about to get electroshock therapy when a storm blows her and her pet chicken, Billina, into Oz.  In Oz Billina can talk. Together they find the yellow-brick road in ruins and the Lion, Tin Man, and citizens of the Emerald City turned to stone.  Dorothy must face the evil head-swapping witch Mombi, and the Nome King to save her friends and return home.

The acting is so-so.  Fairuza Balk is a young girl so you can excuse some of it.  However, she does a good job with the act of the melancholy she brings at the beginning of the movie.  Most of the characters that are villains are memorable because of the effects that enhance them. 

The effects are pretty cool.  The stop motion on the Nome King is amazing to watch.  The creepy heads of Mombi are very memorable and the wheelers that roam the road and fall into the deadly desert will be certain to give your children nightmares.  The fact is this movie is very memorable and is like the more mature follow up to 1939 film. 

All in all I think if you liked “The Wizard of Oz” you’ll like this.  It’s dark and it’s depressing but it’s also creative and lovely as well.  It’s more mature and certainly if you are into stories that are a bit creepy and a bit magical like “The NeverEnding Story.” You will most likely enjoy this movie.

Rosemary’s Baby-review

This 1968 psychological horror movie is proof that sometimesthe scary things in film are the things we don’t see.  Like “The Exorcist,” this movie has demonicthemes that are hidden amongst a pregnant woman’s paranoia.  It comes together with the acting, thelocation, and the story in a wonderful way.

Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse, played by Mia Farrow and JohnCassavetes, move to a new apartment house. They befriend their neighbors, which include Minnie and Roman Castevet,played by Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer. After a very disturbing dream where Rosemary is being raped by a demon while naked people watch, she discovers she is pregnant.  However events lead her to believe there is a conspiracy against her.  Is it all in her mind or is something evil afoot?

The acting is fantastic. Mia Farrow plays the vulnerable Rosemary with amazing skill.  Ruth Gordon as always is great.  She is motherly and yet there is an air of menace to her in her eyes.  It’s a subtle thing that makes a world of difference. 

“Rosemary’s Baby” is a fantastic movie.  Maybe it’s the eerie paranoia that Mia Farrow portrays so well.  Maybe it’s the location of the claustrophobic apartment, the Dakota in New York, is where John Lennon met his fateful end.   It’s a chilling movie with a smart ending.  If you have a chance, give it a watch.

Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil-review

For everyone who has seen the stereotypical horror movie, this is for you.  “Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil” takes the completely overdone story of college kids coming out to an isolated cabin in the woods to party and are killed and throws it out the window.  Much like“Cabin in the Woods” the movie is self-aware to a degree.  It knows that idea was done to death.

A group of college kids go out to the woods to party at a cabin.  They stop for gas and are met by the rustic looking Tucker, played by Alan Tudyk, and Dale, played by Tyler Labine, who upon first glance scare them.  We find out that Tucker and Dale are actually buying a vacation home to fix up in the woods nearby.  They go fishing in the same lake as the college kids who are swimming nearby and one of them is startled by Tucker and Dale and falls into the lake hitting her head on the rocks. They go to get her help and the college kids mistake them for kidnapping her and think they are homicidal maniacs.  The rest is a comedy of errors. 

The acting is great. Tucker and Dale are both loveable goofballs and the movie is really fun to watch.  The college kids are great at playing stupid stereotypes and everything that happens to them is a mix of dumb luck and their own fault. The gore is very over the top and it still doesn’t take away from the laughs.  In this movie it flips the usual heroes around so now the rednecks are the ones you root for and the college kids are the troublemakers.

There is a lot going for “Tucker and Dale Vs.Evil.” There are some plot holes that are strange but not too distracting from the fact you are watching something good.  If you get a chance to see this one I recommend it.  It’s a lot of fun and not so much scary as it is funny.  It at least had some new ideas to a tired concept.   

Evil Ed-review

“Evil Ed” is a 1997 Swedish horror comedy.  The tone is very similar to “Evil Dead” or “Dead Alive,” so if you’ve seen those you’ll at least know what to expect.  While some of the American dubbing seems a bit off at times it has an odd charm that a fan of cheesy cinema will easily dismiss.  There is a lot of fun satire and subtle references to other movies that make “Evil Ed” a pretty clever cult film. 

Ed is a cutter in the editing room of a studio.  He gets moved to horror movies much to his chagrin and he has to work with a very sleazy producer to edit the  “Loose Limbs” films.  The editing of horror movies slowly takes its toll on Ed as he begins hallucinating and having violent fantasies.  Will the movies inevitably turn Ed into a homicidal killer? 

The plot is ridiculous and fun and takes a good look into the satirical world of film editing, pre-computer.  The hallucinations are funny and range from a bizarre gremlin in the fridge to racing Satan to hell.  The acting during this is pretty comical and the American dubbing seems to be along the same vein. You can tell they had a lot of fun with the making of this movie.

As a whole “Evil Ed” is an enjoyable movie.  It’s gory, it’s vulgar at times, but it also has moments of hilarity and great satirical wit.  If you can look past the comedic dubbing you might enjoy “Evil Ed” a lot more.  It’s a strange little movie that is certain to rise in popularity with all its campy cult charm.  Give it a watch if you are in the mood for something unique and fun.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Justice League-Movie Dream Cast.

I just read that The Justice League movie is put on hold yet again. If I were to cast things in my ideal version of the movie, I’d choose the following:
Superman: Billy Crudup
Batman: Josh Brolin
Green Lantern: Armie Hammer
Wonder Woman: Rose Byrne
Aquaman: Michael C. Hall
Flash: Ryan Gosling
Black Canary: Jennifer Lawrence
Green Arrow: Michael Fassbender
Martian Manhunter: Idris Elba

The threat would be something big and over the top and iconic like Starro the Conqueror. Since that is what the Justice League fought in their first issue.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Total Recall (2012)-review

“Total Recall” is a 2012 remake of a movie made in 1990 of the same name.  Directed by Len Wiseman who takes a break from his “Underworld” movies and decided to take his chances at a sci-fi classic.  While keeping the same general idea, this movie takes a lot of it’s own creative twists.  Some of the ideas are okay to watch, but for the most part the new concepts are drowned and lost in a sea of action sequences and lens flares.

Doug Quaid, played by Colin Farrell, is unsatisfied with his life as an assembly line worker making robots and living with his wife, played by Kate Beckinsale.  One day he goes to Rekall, a company that implants memories in people. Quaid does this in the hopes of having a vacation of sorts, but he finds that his memories let him recall being a secret agent.  Is what he is experiencing real or just part of the programing of Rekall being implanted in his brain?

The movie has a very stylized look.  It’s similar to “Blade Runner” in the way that there are towering urban landscapes and an amalgamation of Asian and European cultures.   There are lots of chase scenes that are filmed well, but then they also put so many lens flares on the screen that you’d think this trend is cool to blind your audience. 

When remembering the original “Total Recall,” I remember some very neat things.  For example: The effects of Kuado, the humor of a Johnny cab, and the cool look of the landscapes of Mars.  Get ready to have none of these in the new one.  In the remake it’s not about a struggle for air as a resource on Mars, it’s a movie about an invasion by a robot army. 

While not the worst thing in a remake to change things, this version lacks most of the fun and heart of the 1990 version.  It’s visually cool and it’s got some bold new sci-fi devices.  If they were just going to half-ass this movie and just make it a colorful sci-fi movie without substance, then why bother.  If you are a big sci-fi person it’s worth a rental.  It’s a very so-so movie that gives up nothing new or risky. 


The 2006 movie “Bug” is a film based on a play of the same name.  Directed by William Friedkin of “The Exorcist,” we get a movie that is well acted and incredibly psychological.  The movie takes a lot of creative chances and considering the limited use of sets it works well.   The acting is also some of the boldest we’ve seen from Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon. 

Agnes, played by Ashley Judd, is a waitress that has a lot of emotional turmoil.  She meets up with Peter, played by Michael Shannon, and an emotional connection eventually develops.  In the night, Michael sees bite marks on his skin and convinces Agnes that she is infested with some sort of blood-sucking aphid.  Are these bugs really plaguing Agnes and Peter or is it a part of their imaginations?

The story is really well done.  It is psychological and relies a lot on the developed character to carry the thrills as opposed to gore or jump scares.  I was not a big fan of Harry Connick Jr., but he plays his part as an abusive ex-con well. It’s fun to see him play something different then his standard fair of romantic lead.  On that same note, Ashley Judd is amazing in this movie.  She is vulnerable, terrified, and her infatuation with Peter shows a level of raw paranoia.

“Bug” is a really great movie. It’s possibly one of Ashley Judd’s best films.  I recommend it for anyone looking for a thriller with a bit more substance.  It is a slow movie at the start but once the action gets going it gets disturbing fast.  If you get a chance to see this movie check it out. You won’t be disappointed.