Sunday, November 29, 2009

Predator 2 (1990)

Why did everyone in the 80’s think 1997 was going to be the year of the apocalypse? In Escape From New York, it’s the year New York is turned into a maximum security prison, in Terminator, it’s the year of Judgment Day, and in Predator 2, it’s the year Los Angeles turns into a ‘warzone’ (as the movie constantly reminds us).

Yes, Predator 2 takes place in 1997 (which was the ‘future’ when the movie was made). Its vision of 1997 is a pessimistic one, with the city of Los Angeles being tormented by ridiculous looking gangs (like the ganja-smoking ‘Jamaicans’). It’s all very familiar stuff, and the movie doesn’t go through the trouble of properly introducing us to this alternate reality 1997. Instead, it goes right to the shitter.

That’s right, throughout the first hour of the movie, almost nothing happens in the way of a plot. The Predator kills random gang members and various expendable secondary characters, while Danny Glover stands around scratching his head and wonders that the hell is going on.

Ah, yes, Danny Glover plays Harrigan, a loose cannon cop who doesn’t play by the rules. He’s constantly badgered by his cardboard-cutout chief, who doesn’t appreciate his disregard for policies and overuse of excessive force. Does this sound familiar? Does this sound like every single cop movie from the 80’s? It should, because it is perhaps the most common cliché in movie history, and this time, it’s done with extraordinary laziness. I don’t mind this cliché if it’s done right. If the cop is an interesting character, like Dirty Harry or John Mclane, then it’s easy to get over the fact that you’ve seen the same formula a million times. But no, Danny Glover’s character is so sterile and uninteresting that I just couldn’t bring myself to care about him or the ‘plot’.

Speaking of the plot, it’s virtually nonexistent until, finally, in the last 40 minutes of the film, Gary Busey explains that the Predator is in Los Angeles because he’s attracted to War-Zone environments, and likes to kill people for sport. Now, he wants to capture the Predator for scientific study. After this is explained, the Predator kills more people and the movie finally ends. Let me just remind you that this movie is 104 minutes long.

I don’t understand why this movie gets so much love from Predator fans. The first Predator had an involving plot, fast-pacing, great characters, a lot of action, and an awesome hero to cheer for. Predator 2 lacks all of these qualities. It’s a humdrum film that I found to be extremely pedestrian and disappointing.

Here’s what Predator 2 is: a combination of Lethal Weapon and Predator, two of the greatest action movies of all time. It should’ve been phenominal, but lazy writing, flat characters and a lack of action ruined it. It’s a truly terrible movie, but it gets a three because Gary Busey is awesome, and the music is pretty cool too.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Road House (1989)

This entire film is a frat-boy’s wet dream. All the men are testosterone pumping ultimate fighters with big muscles and short tempers, and all the women are blonde, big-breasted, and dull as dog shit. The plot is nonsensical and full of holes, and the film is too fast paced for its own good. It’s a film of the lowest common denominator, but it’s pretty sweet nonetheless.

Patrick Swayze, at the height of his pretty-boy glory, plays a man known by one name and one name only: Dalton. Dalton’s a bad-ass motherfucker with a reputation as the best club bouncer in the country. The movie starts with Dalton being hired by an awkward club owner from a small-town in Kansas who owns a bar that resembles a mix between Mos Eisely and a parking lot at a Motley Crue concert. Anyway, Dalton comes in and cleans the place up, turning it into something that looks like a yuppie’s utopia, with pink neon lights and turquoise carpets all around. Radical pad, man!

The second half of the film is infinitely worse than the first. While the first half is genuinely exciting, with edge-of-your-seat style action and pacing, the second half resembles more of a slow-burning action-drama, which is a total boner-killer, especially considering how awesome the first half was in comparison. In the first half, there’s a lot of tension and suspense, as Dalton enters a world that we, as viewers, think is too extreme for him to handle. Once we’re proved wrong, our interest increases, and now, it’s the films job to expand on these obstacles facing the hero, to give him new, interesting things to do in order to keep our interest intact.

Unfortunately, Road House fails to do this. After Dalton has established himself as the baddest mofo around and has rid the bar of all its scumbags, a new set of bad guys enter the picture, this time led by a rich crime boss who holds the entire city hostage in his iron fist of fear. For more than an hour, Swayze battles the same three goons over and over again, and it gets prettytedious after a while.

There’s also a boring love-interest introduced about half-way through, which is a standard part of any stupid action movie from the 80’s or 90’s. This love-interest, though, is one of the most boring and pointless characters I’ve ever had the displeasure of enduring. Her only reason for being in the film is so Dalton can bone her (which he does, of course!).

The crime boss and his goons are boring, unoriginal villains, and the best fighter looks like the lead singer from Krokus, that is, utterly ridiculous, although he does provide a great Mortal Kombat-esque death scene.

Uh oh, hope I didn’t spoil it for anyone. Whatever, if you’ve seen more than two other action movies from this era, then you already know the deal. The second half of the movie is so formulaic and uninspired that I nearly forgot about how insanely cool the first half was. The action is great throughout, yeah, but the fights are too few and far between, and the endless dialogue scenes interrupting them seem to drag on forever. What I’m trying to say is that this movie is over-long, and it loses steam about three quarters of the way through.

I have no complaints about the solid acting, but I must comment that Swayze’s mullet deserved an Oscar nod for its outstanding performance. It is a ‘do’ of unparalleled beauty and grandeur, one that brings an awesome glow of pulchritudinous flavor to every scene. It is, perhaps, the most masculine thing that mankind has ever attempted to capture on film.

I’d also like to point out that this film has a shockingly low supply of one-liners, and that the lines that it does have are utterly horrible (“I used to fuck guys like you in prison!”). Come on! At least it has the obligatory scene of a car exploding in mid-air. Awesome.

Terminator Salvation (2009)

“Terminator Salvation” was an experience similar to watching a 3D movie without the glasses. It tries it’s best to make it’s action interactive and exciting to the audience, but only succeeds in coming off as a dull special-effects montage. It’s a flat, by-the-books action film, void of any originality or credibility, successful only because it bears the name of one of the greatest action franchises of all time.

The first two Terminator films (1984’s “The Terminator” and 1991’s “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”) are films that will forever be regarded as classics in the genres of action and sci-fi. They combine their thrilling scenes of action with well-developed characters, clear and innovative plots, and the perfect amount of comic relief. The third Terminator film, released in 2003, was a rehash of Terminator 2 that failed to win the hearts of the fans, but is still considered to be a decent action film.

Now, in Terminator: Salvation, we’re shown the aftermath of an apocalyptic future of mankind, where the humans are fighting an un-winnable war against deadly machines controlled by a super-computer called Skynet. John Connor (Bale), the future leader of the human resistance, hasn’t quite reached his full potential by the beginning of Salvation; he’s still trying to figure out if the future’s inevitable, or if it can be changed for the better. Geez, you'd think he'd have figured it by now!

The film takes a further nosedive with the addition of a new Terminator, who in this movie is actually the first Terminator ever made. This particular Terminator has a unique twist; for some bizarre and unexplainable reason, he still thinks he’s a human. Sounds exciting right? Well, it had the potential to be, but unfortunately the film goes nowhere with it. Instead, they decide to ham fist an utterly ridiculous fan service into the plot by having the new Terminator meet up with Kyle Reese.

For those who are unaware (believe me, I get confused myself), Kyle Reese was the hero of the first movie who happens to be John Connor's father, making him a major target during Salvation's time. Reese is completely oblivious to his importance to the resistance and manages to get himself involved with Terminators yet again. Who does this guy think he is, John Mclaine?

A coincidence of this nature is the mark of a lazy writer, and the writers of Terminator Salvation were clearly lazy about their work. Almost every piece of information given in this film contradicts with information given in any of the previous films. One could spend hours trying to figure out what Skynet knows, what it doesn’t know, or what the characters know. They could even, god forbid, try and figure out what the hell is going on, but no matter how hard they think, they’ll come to the same conclusion every time: none of it makes any sense.

The Terminator series was never meant to be continued after Terminator 2, it wrapped the plot up nice and tight, but the introduction of T3 turned the whole universe upside down, and now, everything about the film is so complex and confusing that it’s not even worth trying to figure out. 

The writers obviously want us to ignore the various plot holes, to ignore the silly and unrealistic motivations of the characters, and to ignore the terrible dialogue. Instead, they beg us to turn our brains into mush, while the fancy images on the screen keep us constantly entertained.

Terminator Salvation is a film so radically different from the first three that it shouldn’t even be considered a part of the series. While the first two films revolutionized the action genre with the depth of their characters and plot, Salvation is a film that favors style over substance to a degree usually reserved for the likes of Michael Bay. It’s so unrecognizable and detached from the original films that it resorts to a plethora of fan services, in a sad attempt to prove it’s an actual sequel (I was surprised [and relieved] that nobody said “Hasta la vista, baby!”).

This unjustifiable train wreck has resulted in a mindless special effects exhibit, featuring boring action and even more boring characters, who, although they try and convince us there’s an actual story hidden somewhere, ultimately fail in doing anything at all.

This movie is responsible for over two hours that I’ve wasted from my life, time I could’ve spent on far more productive and fulfilling activities, like falling asleep for instance. I could rant like a nerd for hours about the movie, but then again, it’s not worth wasting any more time on, so I’ll conclude by pointing out that the director’s name (McG) sounds like something on the dollar menu at McDonalds. Something you would probably find hair in.

Son In Law (1993)

Son in Law is not Citizen Kane. It is not Seven Samurai. It’s not even Tokyo Story! It’s a silly, ridiculous comedy with wacky, exaggerated characters and several inane melodramatic moments to balance it all out. For what Son in Law is, it works.

Carla Guigino stars as Rebecca Warner, an innocent, naïve country girl who’s leaving her farm to go to college in the big city of L.A. Once there, she meets Pauly Shore’s ‘character’, Crawl (which is an awesome name, by the way). Crawl shows Rebecca what it means to be a college student in L.A by changing her into a complete whore. Rebecca becomes good friends with Crawl, and brings him home to her family for thanksgiving.

Unfortunately, the family doesn’t appreciate Crawl’s wild antics, especially Rebecca’s little brother, Zack (played by the fat ginger kid from The Sandlot). Things get worse when Rebecca’s old boyfriend proposes to her. Rebecca doesn’t want to marry him, so Crawl announces that Rebecca can’t get married to her old boyfriend because she’s already engaged to HIM. The rest of the film concerns Crawl trying to gain acceptance from Rebecca’s traditional parents, while all the while trying to avoid the revengeful behavior of her ex-boyfriend.

The plot is pretty engaging, and it keeps the viewer entertained the whole way through. Pauly Shore is his usual retarded self, but he’s unusually funny in this one (this was before the horrible ‘Bio-Dome’). He is at his least annoying in Son in Law, and the movie actually allows the audience to care about him, instead of wanting to strangle his dumbass.

This is probably Pauly Shore’s best movie (not counting the awesome ‘A Goofy Movie’). Even if you hate him, give Son In Law a chance, because he can be pretty funny in it at times. For example, Rebecca’s ex-boyfriend gets mad at Crawl and punches him in the face. Crawl falls onto the floor and cries. It’s not comedy gold, but it’s pretty funny and entertaining pulp, plus it’s nostalgic as hell.


Sam Raimi: The Gore God Returns

After disappointing fans and critics alike with the dreadfully dull “Spider-Man 3” in 2007, Sam Raimi has revisited his roots in the horror genre with the film “Drag Me To Hell’, which will be released on May 29th. Horror enthusiasts have been anxiously awaiting Raimi’s return to the genre for close to two decades now; his revered ‘Evil Dead’ movies are considered some of the most entertaining and outrageous films ever made. These films have been fan favorites for almost three decades now, and over the years they have collected legions of loyal fanatics (‘Deadites’).

Each installment in the ‘Evil Dead’ trilogy holds its own unique charm and appeal, with subject matter ranging from bloody carnage to quirky, slapstick hilarity. In order to truly understand the endearing appeal of these bizarre films, one must examine them not as a whole, but as individuals, as each one represents a separate example of Sam Raimi’s undeniable talent to engage, entertain, and frighten audiences all over the world.

This cult-classic gore fest was a fantastic directorial debut for Sam Raimi, who produced the film on a shoe-string budget and, against all odds, managed to secure his position as one of the most recognizable and revered filmmakers in the horror genre.

The Evil Dead stars Raimi’s childhood friend and future b-movie superstar Bruce Campbell as Ash, who travels into the woods with a group of friends to vacation in a dilapidated cabin. Soon enough, they resurrect an evil demon hell-bent on possessing the teens one-by-one, until it’s up to Ash to save the day.

The campy, low-budget special effects may very well be the highlight of this delightfully gory film, in fact, the disgustingly awesome and (unintentionally?) hilarious stop-motion disintegration scene merit at least one viewing. Also, Raimi’s innovative camera techniques are extremely impressive for such a low-budget project, and were hugely influential to independent horror film-makers who followed in his footsteps.

Twenty-eight years after its initial release, ‘The Evil Dead’ continues to inspire a whole new generation of independent film-makers and horror fans.

EVIL DEAD 2 (1987)
Six years after the original Evil Dead’s success, Sam Raimi and company returned to produce ‘Evil Dead 2’, a film many fans and critics consider to be the highlight of the entire trilogy. Evil Dead 2 is virtually incomparable to the first; while the original was a straight, no-nonsense horror film, Evil Dead 2 was a screwball comedy/horror hybrid, a film which aimed for laughs as opposed to terror.

Bruce Campbell reprises his role as Ash, who inexplicably returns to the haunted cabin with a new girlfriend in tow. Once again, Ash summons the ancient evil spirit through the necronomicon, who terrorizes him with outrageous monsters, headless zombies, laughing furniture, and an endless ocean of green, black, and red blood.

By this time, Sam Raimi had clearly come into his own as a director, implementing his now-instantly recognizable and innovative camera techniques such as the ‘ram-o-cam’ and the POV tracking shot, which chases Ash through the entire cabin. Bruce Campbell also makes a noticeable improvement, giving Ash a new, heroic, screwball personality, one which would make him a horror icon for years to come.

Evil Dead 2 is a dramatic improvement upon the first one, and is easily one of the most entertaining movies one could see. Horror fan or not, it is sure to please anybody willing to have a bloody good time.


Army Of Darkness is another radical departure from the series, while the second was a mixture between horror and comedy; “Army” is more of an action comedy, with the horror influence playing a noticeably smaller role than in the previous installments.

Picking up where Evil Dead 2 left off, Ash finds himself stranded in medieval times, battling hordes of bizarre monsters and an army of violent skeletons, all the while trying to get back to his job at S-Mart.

Bruce Campbell steals the show as Ash, who’s arrogant and incompetent attitude provides an endless onslaught of memorable lines and classic scenes of hilarity. Sam Raimi’s innovative camera techniques are also present, as is his obvious love for the slapstick antics of the Three Stooges.

Although completely different from the other two films, Army Of Darkness is a fine cap to the original series, as the future of a possible Evil Dead 4 looks grim.

The King Of Comedy (1982)

Collaborations like Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese are few and far between. Together, they’ve created some of the greatest films of all time, including Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, and Goodfellas. One of their great films, however, has somehow managed to slip under the radar, into the realm of near-obscurity. That film is ‘The King Of Comedy’.

In ‘The King of Comedy’, De Niro delivers a comical, yet convincing performance as the delusional yet ambitious Rupert Pumpkin, who has developed an unhealthy obsession with talk show celebrity Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis) and desires, more than anything else, to be a successful stand-up comedian. In real life, Rupert is a very pathetic failure; he lives with his mother and his jokes are pretty mediocre, but he frequently escapes his undesirable reality in favor of a perfect fantasy world where everybody loves him and his awesome jokes.

Rupert constantly tries to secure a meeting with Langford, but is constantly blown-off by his secretary, who insists that his one-liners need more work. Furious, Rupert and his friend (Sandra Bernhard, another Langford stalker), kidnap Langford and hold him hostage until the show producers promise to give Pupkin a stand-up shot on the show.

In addition to being an excellent character study, The King Of Comedy is a very funny movie. As mentioned before, De Niro gives an incredibly good performance, and is probably the most funny here than he’s ever been, or ever will be. In all honesty, this is De Niro’s show, and if you like him, then you’ll be sure to love this movie.

That isn’t to say that Scorsese didn’t have a major role in the film’s success. His style is present, and he even makes a comical cameo appearance half-way through. Even though this may not be his most personal picture, it still has many themes familiar with his previous work, specifically Taxi Driver.
The ending of the film is particularly thought-provoking, as it is left open as to whether or not it’s real or fantasy. It’s all subjective as to which one it is. In my opinion, the ending is real, but someone else just might think otherwise. Overall, this is a great movie that deserves a lot more praise then it receives (Goodfellas has 204,819 votes on imdb, while King only has 17,420). I’d give it a 9/10.

Gran Torino (2008)

The United States is often considered to be a melting pot for a vast variety of races and cultures found across the world. As our country slowly begins to show signs of unification, the future holds great promise for a more cohesive, diverse nation. There are, however, many citizens who have trouble adapting to the new changes occurring in our country. They choose to ignore those who might threaten their lifestyle, and they continue their bigotry in hope of conserving the ideas and values they were raised on.

Unfortunately for them, it’s becoming progressively difficult to ignore our rapidly changing culture, especially when it moves right next door. Such is the case of Walter Kowalski (masterfully portrayed by Clint Eastwood), a Korean War veteran who considers himself an ‘old-school’ American, a protector of his culture, and a man unwilling to accept change (not even haircuts). He lives in a ghetto neighborhood that has been taken over by minorities, with Walter being one of the only white men left in the area, the last holdout.

Walter has a very detached relationship with both of his sons, and is especially disappointed by their lack of respect and spoiled lifestyle. He chooses to spend his days sitting alone on his porch, drinking beer and crooning over his prized Gran Torino, a relic of his cherished past.

He seems to be perfectly content with this lifestyle, until a family of Hmongs move next door. Walter rejects them, he wants nothing to do with their kind. Instead, he chooses to remain on alone his porch, spewing a racial slur in between each sip of beer.

Despite his initial bitterness, he soon discovers that he relates to values and lifestyles of the Hmongs more-so than he does his own family. Walter takes particular interest in a teenage boy named Thao, who he witnesses performing good deeds around the neighborhood. Walter teaches Thao how to talk like an American, work like and American, and eat like an American, in hopes that he’ll save Thao from a bleak future.

By the end, he sacrifices himself in hopes of giving Thao and his sister Sue an opportunity to live in peace, in effect freeing himself from the guilt he has acquired throughout his life.

Despite the constant racist remarks and slurs, the message of this movie is unity and change. Walter Kowalski signifies the changing attitude Americans hold towards different races and cultures. After learning to appreciate the Hmong’s way of life, he is enlightened, and respects their differences. Every day, America is setting new standards and breaking farther away from our older ways.

Clint Eastwood is the driving force behind Gran Torino, treating the audience to an amazingly genuine and heartfelt performance on both sides of the camera. He snarls, growls, and glares his way through the movie, seldom smiling and always on alert.

Gran Torino is a powerful and effective film with a message, without ever becoming preachy. Audiences laugh at Eastwood’s constant bigotry towards the Hmong, but the movie is effective in taking the audience on the same journey as Walter, we feel with him, laugh with him, cry with him, and change with him.

Clint Eastwood has stated that this could be his last acting role. I sincerely hope not, since his impressive career has brought audiences amazing performances in classics such as ‘The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly’, ‘Unforgiven’, and ‘Million Dollar Baby’. In the past five years alone he has directed the critically acclaimed ‘Flags Of Our Fathers’ and ‘Letters To Iwo Jima’, as well as the previously mentioned ‘Million Dollar Baby’, a film that won an Oscar for best picture. With Gran Torino, Eastwood continues his winning streak.

If this is indeed Clint’s last performance, then it will serve as a fine conclusion to an impressive, 58 year acting career. ‘Gran Torino’ became the number one movie in America in it’s opening weekend, and many predict it to be the highest earning film of Eastwood’s career. If you haven’t seen the film yet, I strongly urge you to do so, because it’s entertaining, effective, and a triumphant end to a legendary career.

Total Recall (1990)

There’s no doubt in my mind that Arnold Schwarzeneggar is the greatest action star of all time. He’s been in so many great movies, like True Lies, Predator, and, of course, the awesome Terminator movies, but one film of his that I find incredibly underrated is the brilliant Sci-fi flick Total Recall.

In the film, Arnold plays Douglas Quiad, a man who dreams of one day visiting Mars, which, in the future, is in a constant state of violence thanks to a group of rebels who demand cheaper air. Unable to convince his wife to vacation there, Doug goes to a place called ‘Total Recall’, where he pays to have a memory of mars implanted into his brain, eliminating the necessity of going on an actual trip. As a bonus, he requests that the memory he receives will be of him as a secret agent, as opposed to an average joe.

As soon as the procedure begins, Doug starts freaking out on the technicians, who instantly put him back to sleep. While he’s asleep, they inform us that his memory has been previously erased, and that they accidently brought it back to life. When Jack wakes up, once again unable to remember what happened, he is immediately thrown into a world of secret agents, as he’s chased by a criminal all the way to Mars, where he realizes that his entire existence is an elaborate conspiracy, orchestrated by the evil air company.

The story is absolutely engrossing. There’s action every step of the way, and the plot has more twists and turns than anything made by M. Night Shamamamalsnan. Even though on the outside it may seem like standard action fare, the film is loaded with thought-provoking materia. The ending, in particular, requires the viewer to decide for themselves what has happened.

For a film made in 1990, the special effects are absolutely incredible. Actually, the effects in this movie look much better than the CGI-shit that congests modern sci-fi movies (with a few exceptions, district 9 being one of them). The make-up effects are something to be proud of as well, especially the Kuato puppet, which looks hideous, but fucking awesome at the same time. And, of course, there’s the infamous lady with three boobs. The sets on Mars are impressive too, with the whole place coming across as a scummier version of Mos Eisley.

Total Recall is an incredible action film, an incredible sci-fi film, and an icredible film in general. It succeeds on every level, and it’s entertaining as hell. It’s best of it’s kind, and I love it.

Downfall (2004)

There are a lot of movies about World War Two, and most of them focus almost exclusively on Nazi Germany. Granted, it is, by far, the most interesting time and place of the 20th century, and possibly of the last couple hundred years, but, in my opinion, the constant onslaught of world war 2 movies has watered down the menacing effect of the Nazi’s onscreen presence, and, like many once-great things, it’s become a cliché.

That isn’t to say there aren’t exceptions, because for every ten crappy world war two films, there is one shining light in the darkness. Examples include 2003’s ‘The Pianist’ and 2008’s ‘Val Kyrie’ (yes, I liked that movie), but my favorite of the bunch is easily the 2004 epic ‘Downfall’.

This movie is simply incredible. It takes place during the final days of the war in Europe, when the Russians were closing in on Berlin and Germany was on the brinks of defeat. As the streets of Berlin are bombed to ruins, Hitler and his generals gather in their bunker, optimistically planning Germany’s next move, only to discover that their situation is hopeless, and the noose around their necks grows tighter with every passing second.

The acting in this film is phenomenal. Adolf Hitler, usually portrayed as an inhuman entity void of any emotions other than hate, is represented here as a human, a completely delusional human, but a human nonetheless. He is a complex individual, constantly alternating between emotions, whether they be anger, fear, love, or regret. At first, he’s stubborn, not wanting to accept the dismal outcome of his great war, but eventually, he accepts his fate, but in a most unorthodox way. In scenes of insanity and paranoia, Hitler declares that neither he, nor any other German, should be allowed to live after their defeat, believing that, since they have proved to be inferior, they don’t deserve to live. It’s an incredible character study, with a great performance by Bruno Ganz. If you’re interested in Hitler, and who he was as an individual, then you’ll find this film very interesting.

The film doesn’t focus exclusively on Hitler, though. It also explores the feelings and situations of those around him during that time, including his generals, his girlfriend, his secretary, and a group of children. As their leader goes insane, everyone in this group must decide whether to follow him into suicide, or to disobey their once-glorious leader. It’s a predicament that leads to many dramatic situations, including one particularly powerful scene involving the children, which is both haunting and disturbingly real.

In fact, everything in this film is astonishingly real. The claustrophobic sets make the environment look as cold and unforgiving as the characters that inhabit them, as does the brilliant lighting schemes, particularly in the bunker.

Though there aren’t many battle scenes, the movie never fails to lose the audience’s attention, and there’s plenty here to sink your teeth into. If you’re a fan of war films, or just great cinema in general, look no further than Downfall, a film I’d give a perfect 10/10.

Star Trek (2009)

I saw the movie last night in theatres and, in my opinion, it’s fucking awesome. The action, the cinematography, and the acting was supurb, and the main characters were interesting and developed. Overall, it was a great picture.

This is a great film for anyone who hasn’t seen the original series. Take me for example, I’ve never watched a single episode of Star Trek nor seen any of the movies, yet there was not a single point in this movie where I felt bored or ill-informed.

The film is endlessly entertaining throughout. There’s a space battle in the beginning that really took my breath away with it’s intensity and style. Everything from the special effects to the music were flawless and effective. AFter the incredible opening sequence, I knew right from the start I would love the film.

After this, we’re introduced to the main characters, including the scene where a young Kirk drives the car off the cliff. While that scene was really cool, it wasn’t nearly as interesting as the introduction of Spock.

Now, in my opinion, Spock was a MUCH more interesting character that Kirk. Spock underwent a transformation over the course of the film. In beginning, he believes his human emotions get in the way of logic and effective leadership, but over the course of the film, he slowly realizes his humanity and learns to use his emotions to his advantage. Spock earned the audiences sympathy, and I felt myself cheering for his success from beginning to end. He really was a great character.

Please understand that I’m not saying Spock was the only good character in the film. John Cho as Sulu was a great casting decision. In the scene where He, Kirk skydive onto Vulcan was one of the best sequences in the film because of the visuals, sound, and the audience’s emotional response o the characters in danger. Another character I really liked was Simon Pegg as Scotty. You might know Simon from Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz, and it may come as no surprise that he serves a great comic relief.

Now, even though I think the film is wonderful, I do have several minor criticisms. My major problem is with the villain. The villain in this movie was under-developed and static. His motivations were confusing and hard to understand, and he was more cliché than the blonde jock bully in 17 Again (okay, maybe not). I understand that this movie was intended to introduce the heroes, and there wasn’t a lot of time to deleop the villain to the same degree that The Dark Knight had, but a little character development would have been nice.

Another problem I have is with the plot regarding time travel. It got really confusing, and the time they spent trying to explain it could have been better spent developing the villain’s character. If they had a more understandable and less-intricate plot, it would be much more accessible to the average movie-goer.

Overall, this is a grade-A summer blockbuster. It has everything one could want in an action movie; great characters, great effects, great sound, and great ending. I walked out of this movie feeling really good, and that should be the result of any summer blockbuster. I would give Star Trek 2009 a 9/10.

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Tim Burton has made some pretty damn good films in the past 25 years. I’m talkin’ good shit like Beetlejuice, Batman, Batman returns, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Sleepy hollow, and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. His films are characterized by a unique creative vision. Fans the world over have fallen in love with the dark style of Tim Burton, and I believe Sleepy Hollow showcases that vision better than most of his other films.

Sleepy Hollow is a re-telling of the classic American short-story written by Washington Irving.
Johnny Depp plays ichabod Crane, a flawed and eccentric detective who is sent to the small town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a bizarre series of murders involving decapitation.

While investigating, the villagers tell Ichabod stories of a headless horseman, who they suspect is the culprit behind the beheadings. Ichabod doesn’t believe them at first, but it all changes when he comes face to face with the horseman himself. Together with a small orphan and a love interest played by Christina Ricci, Ichabod faces an adventure chock full of lives lost and secrets revealed.

Johnny Depp is incredible in this film, portaying the character of Ichabod Crane with genuine realness and outstanding authenticity. Ichabod is tragically flawed, allowing his nervousness and fear to interfere with his duties as a detective. This behavior causes Ichabod to faint several times in the film, leading to many comical moments, such as a particularly funny scene in the bedroom. Ichabod continues Tim Burton’s tradition of having the main character in his films be a misunderstood outcast from society.

The spectacular visual appeal of this film is more than enough to dictate atleast one viewing. Tim Burrton’s unique vision produces a dark and atmospheric environment in the film, perfectly representing the dark mood of the plot. The environment is so important to the movie that Burton demanded that the entire town and forrest be built onto a soundstage, so he could control every aspect of the environment.

All the extra effort was definently worth while, because Sleepy Hollow is a very beautiful movie, and the best representation of Burton’s unique vision since Edward Scissorhands.

Another great aspect of the film are the great costumes and character designs. The characters wear authentic clothing from the era, with everybody wearing a very interesting wardrobe. The most interesting character design is the headless horseman. Back when I saw this movie in the theatres back in 1999, I thought the horseman was cool as fuck, with his black armor and black horse. Even ten years later I still think he’s a badass motherfucker. His design is just so cool, and the fact that he’s played by Christopher walken makes him even cooler.

Overall, Sleepy Hollow is a great, atmospheric film with interesting characters and an engaging plot. This isn’t my favorite Burton film, but it’s definently one of his best.

Offerings (1989)

Offerings came out in 1989, at a time where teen slasher flicks were at their all-time worst and every week there seemed to be a new turd flooding the cinematic toilet bowl. Offerings was just one of many films to rip-off the horror classic ‘Halloween’, in order to cash in on the trend. But while most movies had the decency to hide their plagiarism, Offerings just said 'whatever' and went all out! The similarities are just too many to count. Lemme try to break it all down.

First, I should explain the plot of the movie.

A bunch of kids on bikes start terrorizing this little shy kid for never talking. The little shy kid has an abusive mother, who is masterfully played by Demi Moore, likes to torture animals, and has a little pig-tailed girlfriend who looks like Cindy from the brady bunch. When the children of the corn pressure the shy kid to walk around a well, he does it, but the kids push him in anyway, and they run away.

10 years later, the shy kid is being treated in a medical center and eacapes by stabbing his nurse in the brain with a needle. He then goes back to his old town and starts killing all the little assholes that pushed him down the well. After each killing he gives a body part to his old girlfriend, that’s why the movie is called offerings. A fat sheriff is sent in the town, wonderfully played by louie Anderson, but he doesn’t do shit. After all the teens have been killed, the killer comes for his old girlfriend, who shoots him and he dies.

Now that you know the generic plot to the movie, lets go deeper and look at the acting. Its sub-par at best These actors are so stiff and uninspired that its just painful to try and watch them try to communicate to one another. They cant even die right. But maybe Im beeing too hard on the actors, I mean, for the characters and dialogue they were given, how good could they possibly be?

The characters, oh man, lets take a closer look at these wonderful fellows. Some of my favorites include…

The creepy mortician intern
The kid’s mom and dad
The guy who gets his head squished in a vice
Ben Dover- The horny Ginger kid

But the list of ridiculous and out of place characters wouldn’t be complete without the idiot cop, who somehow rose through the ranks and has become a detective. He knows about the serial killer, and how he escaped from the mental institution, yet he convinces the two girls that its all just a joke, after they find an ear in the newspaper. I think if I found a nose in a newspaper or an ear on my dorrstep, Id probably freak out. But no, they stay in the house and wait for the killer to, well, kill em’(maybe she was just afraid the neighbors dog would attack again) .

Then, the detective gives the job of protecting the girls to the most ill-conceived and thoughtless character Ive ever seen in a movie, ever. He is the most brainless, idiotic, unbelievable detective ive ever seen in a movie. Other then that the film is filled with generic and flat characters that just get murdered right away and a dumb blonde main character with bad teeth.

You thought that was the worst this movie had to offer, no, no no no, hell no. It gets much worse. The movie is filled to the brim with filler and pointless scenes of stupidity that leave me baffled and utterly depressed. Offerings made me lose all respect for mankind. There is no going back after watching this movie. Watch at your own risk!

Night Of The Demons (1988)

This was a limited release movie back in the 80’s, but it was extremely successful, raking in 3 million in Detroit alone. This movie had earned a sort of cult status since then mostly for its nostalgic value, but also because of the great music, humor, and low-budget charm.

The film starts with three teenagers abusing an old man. A girl named Judy tries to help the old bastard but he calls her a ‘little bitch’ and tells her to fuck off. He then swears revenge on them by putting razor blades into apples, which you’ll need to remember later on./ So we follow Sally home, where she takes off her pants and finds out her boyfriend is taking her to a Halloween party at a haunted house. Her smart-ass brother tells her ex-boyfriend, the wise-cracking Sal, where she’s going because I guess he still likes her or something.

The party is being thrown by a girl named Angela, who we see shoplifting from a store while her friend distracts the clerks with her hot ass. After some wise-cracks from Judy’s brother and picking up another couple, everybody makes their way to Hull House to party. While theyre in the car, it’s revealed that the house was the site of a grisly murder that was never solved ‘because there was too much blood’ he says. So after partying for a while the radio dies and they decide to look at themselves in the mirror to try and have a ceon. Little did the dumb bastards know that this released an evil demon who escapes from the furnace (in a scene that directly emulates the Evil Dead) and posseses the hot chick. After some clever one liners from Sal and Stooge, the fat guy, the black kid raj and one of the girls decides to leave. Unfortunately, they cant find the gate and have to wait in the car. Inside, the teenagers split up to find a quiet place to have sex, while the hot chick posseses her friend Angela.

After talking about Indian curses and burial grounds, the teens finally decide to have some sex, but Judy’s boyfriend pisses her off and gets none, he just locks her in a room. Downstairs, Angela is dancing for Sal, who basically walks away, while stooge comes in and starts making out with her. She bites off his tongue, and voila! Stooge is a demon zombie too. Sal goes into another room to find the hot chick rip open her shirt and shove lipstick into her tit, which was a very strange scene to say the least. So the teenager start dying one by one. Judy’s boyfriend gets his eyes gouged out, the hot asian chick gets her neck snapped, and stooge crushes the nerdy kid into a coffin. Outside, Rog, the black kid, starts flipping out when somebody throws a dead body on the car and runs back into the house.

Judy eventually gets out of the room and runs away from the demons for a while until coming to the roof. She falls off and is about to die when Sal tackles the zombie attacking her and falls to his death, which sucks because I really liked him. Judy falls too, but her fall is broken by the black kid Raj. Judy and Raj make their way to the furnace room where the demons were released. Eventually, the zombies get into the room, and while Raj sits and cries in the corner, Judy pulls a flamethrower out of her ass and blasts the shit out iof them. They both run to the gate and have to climb over using the barbed wire. Raj gets over but Judy is too slow and zombies start pulling her down. Luckily for her, Ral had super strength and pulled her over with one hand.

After all the zombies explode for some reason, Raj and Judy make their way back home. On their way we see the old man, who is eating apple pie for breakfast. Little did he know that the pie was made out of the razor blade apples, which he chokes on and dies. THE END!

Watching this movie I couldn’t help but think it wasd a homage to Evil Dead two, with the possesions, humor, and even the camera effect when the demon is flying through the house. This movie does, however, have a nostalgic and low-budget charm that has made it a cult classic. Everything from the music, style, to the way they talk and insult each other is totally eighties, and Im a big fan of the eighties.

There isn’t as much gore in this movie as I would like there to be, although the tongue biting scene and the eye gouging scene are both really well done and bloody. The zombies I think are really well done. The faces are evil and bloody and filled with sores and puss, kinda like the zombies is Evil Dead. The scene where the hot chick sticks a lipstick into her tit was really strange , but still well done because it looked so real. Another scene that was really cool was when Judy used the gas pipe as a flame thrower, even though it was really farfetched, even for this movie! Still, this low-budget horror flick from the eighties has scarier and more realistic effects then the cgi shit the have today.

The movie also had its fair amount of nudity and sex, just like most campy horror movies from the 80’s. Even the good girl Judy takes off her pants in the beginning. This is an element missing in modern horror movies, boobs and simulated sex! No horror movie should be without it.

If you’re a fan of horror, the 80’s, or low-budget thrillers, then Night Of The Demons is the movie for you. It’s funny, exciting, and nostalgic. Overall id give it a 9/10.

Mask Of The Phantasm (1993)

Batman Mask Of The Phantasm is an animated feature length spin off from the critically acclaimed animated series, which ran in the early 90’s. The film is intelligent, entertaining, and mature. It’s easily one of the best super-her movies of all time, animated or otherwise.

In the film, local gangsters are terrorized by a new villain by the name of Phantasm. Having been framed for the continually rising body count, Batman faces heat from both sides of the law, the mafia and police department.

Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne’s former fiance returns to Gotham for unfinished business. As Bruce begins to come to terms with the regrets from his past, the mystery of the Phantasm begins to unravel, ultimately leading to a battle with the Dark Knight’s arch rival, the Joker.

The action in the movie is phenomenal. Both in costume and out, the dark knight battles foes ranging from common street muggers to powerful terrorists, with varying degrees of success. The action is suspenseful and exhilarating, as we see the human struggles of Batman interfere with his superhero persona.

The emotional impact of this film is just as impressive as the action. The relationship between Bruce and his long lost love Andrea is believable and tragic, while Bruce Wayne’s internal conflict creates a complex and sympathetic character. Also, the Joker is very entertaining in the film, and adds a comic relief to an otherwise dark feature.

For a PG-rated film, the movie is shockingly dark and mature. Dealing with themes of murder, revenge, betrayal, and lust, not to mention the bloody violence and implied sex, one can be assured this film was not made for children.

In conclusion, the film is a fantastic addition to the Batman film series, and is vastly superior to many of the live action films. If you get the chance, check it out.

Heavy Metal (1981)


Heavy Metal is a 1981 animated movie based on the popular magazine of the same name. This is personally one of the best animated movies Ive ever seen, and I can imagine it being beavis and butt-head’s favorite movie too. Its got sex, drugs, violence, heavy metal, sex, violence, violence, violence. Fuck, this movie violent! Personally, I think that’s fucking great! Like the thrash band exodus says, its just friendly violent fun!

This movie is basically five or six different sequences that revolve around a green ball called the loc-nar, which is just one bad ass motherfucker. It just goes around causing death and destruction, killing anybody it comes in contact with. In the begging, we see a c ar fall from space and come into a fake looking house. The locnar kills the guy and begins telling this little girl about his exploits in terrorizing the world.

The first story is about a taxi cab driver in future New York, which is a scummy shithole, much like modern day new york. This sequence is obviously inspired by Scorses’s Taxi Driver, the main character’s narration sounds exactly like Travis’s, and other similarities can be found all over the place. it’s a fair trade though, because this movie itself directly inspired The Fifth Element. Anyway, the taxi driver finds this hot chick whos being chased by a dangerous mob boss because he wants the loc-nar, and only she knows where it is. So after fucking her, he is chased by the mob boss and kills his weak ass soldiers. At the end, he gives the loc-nar to the mob boss in exchange for money. Unfortunately, the girl becomes greedy and tries to steal it, forcing him to kill her. This is one of the better sequences in the movie because it had great action, characters, and story. The animation is almost the worst in the movie, its grainy and sloppy, but considering the age it was animated in, its perfectly acceptable.

The second sequence follows a geeky kid who is thwarted into an altwernate universe, where he is a muscley super human by the name of Den. He rescues a hot ass maiden from an evil cult of monsters who consider the loc-nar to be a god. After they have sex, they are both kidnapped by a rival cult. The leader blackmails and forces him to infiltrate the other cult’s castle to steal the loc-nar. After he is caught, he has sex with the queen of the rival kingdom, but while she is distracted, the loc-nar is stolen and all hell breaks loose, there's a huge battle with blood and death , and at the end the loc-nar kills both of the leaders and abe flys off with the hot chick.

This is probably my favorite sequence. Its got action and the adventure is cool. Den is a likeable character who says some funny stuff, he’s voiced by John Candy so that’s what you would expect. There is a lot of sex and nudity in this part, but it shouldn’t bother anybody, especially if you’re a perv like me. The animation is pretty far out, especially the lava lamb background when abe is running to battle. This sequence also has a great score. It makes the scene seem epic, which is fitting for such an adventure. Overall, this one of the best sequences in the movie.

Next, we’re introduced to Captain Stern, who is on trial for every crime imaginable. He pays off this timid guy named Hanover Fist to testify in his favor. Hanover begins playing with the loc-nar, which I guess has shape shifted into the size of a marble. Anyway, Hanover turns into a giant monster and chases Sternn out of the courtroom and around a spaceship. After cornering stern, Hanover returns to his original size and is payed off for his help in getting sternn to freedom, but Sternn kills Hanover anyway.

This sequence doesn’t really make any sense. I don’t think the Loc-Nar does anything at all, it really serves no purpose. Hanover was going to shape-shift anyway, and Sternn was going to kill Hanover anyway, so what did the Loc-Nar do exactly? Maybe it allowed Sternn to escape? I don’t really know, maybe they just wanted to include this story because it was a popular comic in the magazine. It has cartoon-like animation, and doesn’t have any sex or violence like all the other sequences. Its strange, but fun.

The Loc-Nar then travels back in time to world war 2, and finds its way aboard a B-17 bomber that has just been ravaged by a battle. When a pilot goes to the back of the plane to survey the damage, he finds the soldiers that were killed have turned into flesh eating zombies. He is brutally killed and the remaining pilot crasdh lands on a desert island, which, unfortunately for his, is crawling with the same zombies. This is the scariest sequence by far. The animation is dark and frightening, its fitting for such a horrifying story. The zombies are fucking scary and the violence is gory and realistic. This is a shot and sweet taste of the brutal power of the loc-nar.
The next sequence is another cartoon like animation. Its about a space-ship that captures a jewish typewriter who wears the loc-nar around her neck. There is a robot voiced by John Candy, and two stoner aliens, who are basically Cheech And Chong. While the robot fucks the typewriter, Cheech and Chong snort a shit load of cocaine, then go on an acid trip, before crashing into a giant space station. This sequence is more comical then anything else, basically the exact opposite of B-17 bomber. Theres some pretty kickass songs in this part, like Sammy Hagar’s Heavy Metal. I also have no clue what the loc-nar’s role in this was, nothing bad happened, another case of them including a popular comic into the movie.

The final sequence is the most famous and longest of the movie. It’s called Taarna and is about an elite warrior seeking revenge on an army of mutats who killed an entire city of people. The large army of citizens were transformed into evil mutants when the loc-nar landed on the planet . They go insane and destroy a huge city of weaklings.

This is one of my favorite scenes in the movie, its bloody and violent, and the Black Sabbath song in the background makes it truly intense. The leaders of the city sumon Taarna before they are killed. I don’t think this makes very much sense. Why wouldn’t the city have an army, or atleast guards or weapons? Apparently, their sole defence is an extinct group of warriors. Yeah, that’s a great plan. Anyway, the next shot is of Taarna flying on her giant bird and going to claim her sword and skimpy armor. This scene is pretty long and drawn out, looks like shes taking her sweet time getting naked, swimming in a pool, then slowly getting dressed. Meanwhile, the city she’s supposed to be defending is getting ass-raped by the mutants. After finding the city in ruins, she finds the enemy base, where she is quickly captured and thrown into a pit. When she escapes, she has a final battle with the leader of the mutants, who has a chainsaw for a hand. After a bloody battle scene, Taarna beats the shit outta the guy and crushes his face in. In the end, she sacrifices herself to destroy the loc-nar. This scene has some great animation and great story. Taarna doesn’t say anything the whole time, but still we feel sympathetic to her and root for her to defeat the evil mutants to avenge the innocent city they destroyed.

The movie cuts back to the little girl in the house, where the Loc-Nar is destroyed. The girl escapes just before the house blows up, which looks like they ran out of time and had to blow up a model of a house instead of animating one. I dotn understand why the Loc-nar blew up right then and there either. Are there multiple loc-nars, and the one taarna destroyed was the mother loc nar? Oh well, anyway, the girl flies away at the and because shes the same race as Taarna.

This movie is a fucking trip. Its got everything a teenage boy could want, plus more. Theres everything from comical cartoons, to horrible scenes of violence. There are some inconsistencies and minor complaints, but overall I really like this movie, and recommend it to any fan of sci-fi, horror, animation, adventure, and heavy metal. Overall Id give this movie an 8.5 out of 10.0
Heavy Metal 2000 followed almost twenty years later, and although its inferior in many ways, I still enjoyed it. Im also looking forward to the new Heavy Metal movie ive been hearing about.

Friday The 13th (2009)

It seems as though every two weeks the world is treated to yet another horror movie ’re-imagining’. This time around, the classic slasher flick Friday The 13th gets the now-obligatory make-over, but unfortunately, the movie fails to offer anything new or original to the over-populated genre.

A common criticism of horror movies similar to Friday The 13th is the lack of relatable, memorable, or even remotely interesting characters. Friday The 13th is certainly no exception. Not only do all of the men and women look exactly the same (perfect), but they seem to have little to no intelligence what so ever.

Complaining about such issues is completely redundant however, because everybody knows the only character worth discussing is the big guy himself, Jason Voorhees. Jason has become quite a celebrity in the 29 years since his debut. One could find his iconic hockey mask on a variety of official merchandise, including countless t-shirts, action figures, video games, and Halloween costumes, but what is it about Jason that attracts such a large audience? He is a lumbering, mindless zombie, who’s only goal in life is to satisfy his unquenchable lust for blood. His violent actions are motivated by the untimely death of his mother, but they’re almost never justified.. The promiscuous, party-obsessed victims he encounters appear to be at least 25 years old, well above the legal drinking age. Besides, is there really anything that bad about topless water-skiing? I think not.

In addition to his bizarre desire to terrorize his unsuspecting victims, Jason’s dirty work in Friday The 13th is extremely uninspired and rushed. After ultra-violent movies such as Saw and Hostel virtually de-synthesized movie-goers to on-screen carnage, Jason’s quick ’work’ seem rather tame in comparison. Whenever a scene of violence takes place, the quick camera cuts make it extremely difficult to see exactly what’s going on, and it’s over quicker than it began. In short, the over-long setups are simply not worth the disappointing pay-offs.

The overall design and look of Friday The 13th is incredibly similar to that of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake in 2003. Coincidently, the two movies were made by the same director, Marcus Nisbel. There is nothing new in terms of style, none at all. The modernized, digital look to the film is now the standard of the industry, and the sets are nothing impressive. In fact, I often found myself scratching my head as to where Jason acquired all of the supplies he had stored in his house.

In all honesty, there is simply nothing new here. The only reason this movie is being billed as a ‘remake’ of the original Friday The 13th is to sell more tickets, it might as well be called ‘Friday The Thirteenth: Part 11’. The last thing the world needs is another remake, but until hollywood starts producing more original material, fans are going to have to cope with exploitative garbage such as this.

In case anybody’s interested, the next classic horror movie up for a ‘re-packaging’ is Wes Craven’s Nightmare On Elm Street. Whoop-Dee-Doo!


In The Line Of Fire (1993)

This was Eastwood’s last starring role in a film he didn’t direct himself. Instead, it was directed by Wolfgang Peterson, who directed Air Force One, Das Boot, and Troy. In The Line Of Fire is a smart, fast paced, and suspenseful film that I belive to be an over-looked highlight in Eastwood’s career.

In the film, Eastwood plays Frank Horrigan, a social service agent assigned to protect a president on a political campaign. Horrigan, who has never forgiven himself after allowing president Kennedy to die, promises himself that he’ll never let it happen again, and his old age will not prevent him from doing his job.

Meanwhile, an insane assasin, masterfully played by John Malchovich, takes a bizarre interest in Horrigan, and tells him of his plan to assasinate the president. Now, Horrigan must track down Malchovich before he loses another president.

The depth of the characters is as important as the action and suspense of the film. As always, Eastwood portrays his character perfectly, showing the audience his inner demons and desires, adding new depth to the character with each passing scene. Developing characters so well heightens the tension and suspense in the action scenes, if the audience relates to and cares about the characters, then they will surely have a more defined emotional response when the characters are in peril (which they often are in the film).

(Another great character is the assasin Booth. Booth is smart, intelligent and manipulating. Booth is often soft spoken and subtle, but his mask of sanity covers a complex psyche of anger and rage, traits which are revealed only a few timnes in the film to remind of how dangerous and insane booth is. Booth is a villain with motivation and humanity, and he is just as an important factor as Eastwood.

Overall, this is a great, underrated thriller. As of now, it has a 7.2 on Imdb, which I thinkis a criminally low score for such a smart, intelligent, and thrilling film.


High Plains Drifter (1971)

This was the second film that Clint directed, the first being “Play Misty For Me“, and already, he was starting to come into his own as a filmmaker, developing the trademark style present in all of his later films.

In High Plains Drifter, Eastwood plays a mysterious stranger, a man very similar to Eastwood’s famous “Man With No Name” character. The stranger stumbles into a god-fearing town full of a variety of incoherent and naïve townspeople. After Eastwood kills the town’s only three gunfighters, the citizens beg him to defend the town against three blood-thirsty outlaws, who seek revenge for years of imprisonment.

The character Eastwood portrays in the film is more of a spiritual being than an actual man. He is an antichrist, awakened from hell to shake up a town full of god-fearing morons. He even paints the town red and renames it hell for the film’s finale. There is a lot to be analyzed in this film: the stranger in this film is much deeper than “The Man With No Name” in that he represents something more than what he appears to be, whether it be the returned soul of a dead sheriff or the devil himself, it’s all up to the audiences imagination.

In addition to the action and suspense, there is an abundant amount of comedy in the film. The reactions of these uptight, phony townspeople to this bizarre stranger is priceless. It’s like he’s deliberately doing things just to piss them off. For example, he makes a power obsessed dwarf the new sheriff of the town. He ends up destroying the town before the outlaws even arrive.

High Plains Drifter is classic Eastwood from the engaging start to the climactic and action packed end. It’s definently one of his more philosophical and cryptic films, leaving the audience space to fill in the blanks for themselves as opposed to giving them all the awnsers on a silver platter. High Plains Drifter is a great film, and I highly recommend it.


Day Of The Dead (1985)

This is the least popular movie in George Romero’s original zombie trilogy, but I think it’s the second best for many reasons.

In Day Of The Dead, zombies outnumber humans 400,000 to 1. A mixed group of Soldiers and Scientists escaped to a bunker where they debate how to handle the situation. The soldiers, led my Captain Rhodes, want to take their chances and kill the zombies. The scientists, led by Dr. Logan, think it would be a wiser idea to domesticate the zombies, and begins experimenting on a zombie named Bub. The tension between the two groups is the highlight of the movie. Captain Rhodes is a memorable villain who threatens and abuses the entire group til the breaking point. This occurs when Rhodes discovers that Logan is using Bub as a pet and is rewarding him with the remains of a dead soldier. Rhodes shoots Logan and soon after the Zombies invade the base, killing nearly all the soldiers, including a gruesome death for Rhodes. Three people manage to escape and flee to a dessert island at the end of the movie.

The theme that humanity’s lust for power and our inability to agree is a greater threat than a zombie invasion is what really appealed to me. The scene where they groups are having a meeting and Rhodes threatens to shoot one of the scientists for didobeying him was, to me, was one of the most memorable and powerful ive ever seen. Some people point out that the characters in this movie are dark and inhumane, but I think most people who have been abused, censored or in any way exploited can relate to the characters confronted by Rhodes. These themes are also omnipresent in Heavy Metal and punk, and being a fan of both genres of music, I found myself fascinated by the plot.

The climax of this movie is also one of my favorite in the entire genre. The zombies storming the base was terrifying because the soldiers had nowhere to run and were cornered with the choice between suicide or being ripped apart by zombies. One soldier chose the former, shooting himself in the head, while Rhodes, who was shot by Bub, was brutally ripped apart by zombies. Still, the goriest scenes in the movie still occur n Dr. Logan’s office, where we see a zombie with his stoomach ripped open turn to his side and have all his guts fall on the floor.

Memorable characters, fantastic and gory special effects, and familiar themes make this one of my favorite horror movies of all time.

Men In Black 2 (2002)

‘Men In Black 2’ is an uninspired sequel to the 1997 blockbuster that skyrocketed Will Smith into superstardom. In this film, Smith reprises his role as agent J, who is now a conditioned and respected member of the secret organization. After realizing that none of his partners are up to par with his former partner, Agent K, he decides to bring him back in hopes of defeating an evil alien.

Everything from the action, acting, and comedy in this movie are all vastly inferior to the original. The characters that made the first film so enjoyable seem under developed and taken for granted in this film, they seem to be on the screen just for the sake of being there, without any reason whatsoever besides to please the fans.

There are no relationships developed, no interesting characters introduced, and not a single memorable scene throughout the entire movie. In fact, the movie is extremely short, at a mere 88 minutes in length.

Ultimately, Men In Black 2 was a movie that didn’t need to be made, it had no originality whatsoever, and isn’t even a patch on the inventiveness and uniqueness of the first film. The studio obviously intended he movie to be nothing more a quick cash grab, and Will Smith was happy to throw his fans a bone after the disasterous Wild, Wild West three years prior.

The problem was that this film was no better, and it was yet another blow to Smith’s image and ego, further inspiring him to explore a wider variety of characters and movies, as opposed to the big budget Hollywood disasters that had tarnished his image.


Wild Wild West (1999)

‘Wild Wild West’ is a very poor excuse for a film and has proved to be the biggest mistake in Will Smith’s career.

Coming off the success of ‘Independence Day’ and ‘Men In Black’, Smith was a sure-fire box office draw, and he was paid big bucks for a starring role in Wild Wild West, a movie that many studio execs believed would be a huge success, little did they know.

In the film, Will Smith’s trademark charm is lost in a sea of cringe-worthy jokes, each one growing progressively worse. Not even an actor as comical and talented as Will Smith could carry such a cheesy and mediocre script, especially not all by himself.

It is simply painful to watch this movie, everything from the unrealistic action to the unfunny jokes are an insult to the intelligence of the average film goer, and an embarrassment to the actors, especially Smith, who should have listened to his common sense when asked to do this movie, as opposed to his wallet.

‘Wild Wild West’ was a film made for the sole purpose of exploiting Will Smith’s newfound fame, but ultimately failed in doing so when the film unsurprisingly bombed. Perhaps Will Smith thought that by doing the movie, he would give his fans what they wanted. Perhaps he didn’t know how horrible a movie would result in his ignorance.

The only positive aspect of WWW was the fact that it acted as the turning point in Smith’s career, the point where he realized that playing the same character in all of his films simply wouldn’t be accepted by the audiences anymore after failing to carry this garbage film. In a way, it was his first step towards legitimacy. Unfortunately, it came at the price of exposing movie-goers to a horrible film full of lame action and lamer jokes.

Avoid Wild Wild West like the plague.


After Hours (1985)

After a failed attempt to produce The Last Temptation Of The Christ in 1983, legendary director Martin Scorsese returned two years later with the masterful comedy After Hours. Although it failed to cause much of a stir at the box office upon it’s release, this dark and fast-paced comedy has since earned a cult following and remains an underrated classic among Scorsese fans.

For a director best known for powerful dramas such as Raging Bull and Taxi Driver, After Hours’ comedic spirit served as a slight departure for Scorsese, but his signature style is still evident throughout the picture. The combination of drama and comedy proves extremely effective as Scorsese draws the audience into the plot like a fisherman reels in his catch. What we get as a result is an impressive example of a comedy that holds you tight and never lets you go.

The plot revolves around Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne), a word-processor living in New York city who’s life is turned upside down when a he finds himself stranded in SoHo, a section of the city far away from where he resides. What proceeds is a bizarre series of events including an angry mob, two thieves on the prowl (played by Cheech and Chong), and a host of oddball characters (incl. a woman stuck in the 60’s and a naïve man-whore).

While inferior comedies connect comedic events with simple and elementary storylines, the marvelous screenplay of After Hours (written by film student Joseph Minion) connects these events in a brilliant succession of coincidences and bizarre twists of fate, while never once becoming unbelievable or implausible.

While obviously a comedy film, Scorsese’s unique blend of comedic and dramatic elements often creates a tense mood, especially in scenes involving Paul and his soon-to-be lover Marcy. Their uneasiness and awkwardness in a conversation involving rape and past relationships is felt not only by the characters, but also by the audience. Through Scorsese’s brilliant directing, we feel what the characters feel, which makes the horrible events about to unfold all the more real and effective.

Another exceptional element of After Hours is it’s use of the dark and gloomy atmosphere of SoHo to create a mood of darkness and confusion in the film. Like in Taxi Driver, New York is intended to be viewed as a metaphor for hell, and Paul Hackett is caught in this hell all night long, unable to escape the constant barrage of these ridiculous events.

The major theme of this movie is the struggle between chaos and order. Throughout the film, Paul undergoes a dramatic change in character as he breaks free from the fear that confines him and restricts him from living his life to the fullest.

There is an exceptionally well written scene near the end of the film where Paul argues with his conscious (in the form of a large bouncer) to enter the world of chaos (represented by a punk Rock nightclub). After pleading with the bouncer and offering all of the money he has left, the bouncer is finally worn down and allows Paul to enter, indicating that Paul is one step closer to overcoming his fear.

The themes of fear and change can be found everywhere throughout the movie. When Paul says “I just want to get out of the rain and get myself home!”, he is verbalizing his desire to escape the chaos, represented by the rain, and escape back to the order, represented by his home. In fact, the entire plot of the movie is a metaphor for Metamorphasis and rebirth. This theory is reinforced in the final scene, which leaves the viewer satisfied and relieved that their journey has finally come to an end.

After Hours, though very much deserving, has never been met with much enthusiasm by critics or the ignorant public, but those who will see the movie can expect big laughs, tense situations, and a fast-paced comedy that never let’s you down. If you find a copy of After Hours on DVD, check it out, you will not be disappointed!

And remember, as the wise man behind the counter says, “Different rules apply After Hours!”


Fargo (1996)

Never again will I see a film as original or intense as the Coen Brother’s masterpiece ‘Fargo’. Every scene in this brilliant movie is engaging and well-executed. There is never a dull moment in Fargo, every second is entertaining and purposeful, as the Coen brothers manage to take a simple plot and mold it into a masterpiece of American cinema.

A variety of genres have been applied to Fargo, including crime, drama, and comedy, but I believe that one of the most remarkable qualities of the film is its ability to transcend these standard genres and attain a quality very few films possess, uniqueness.

The characters in Fargo are normal, everyday Americans living in a very cold, barren, desolate part of the country called Bainerd. The inhabitants of Brainerd aren’t criminals, but hard-working Americans, who are very alien to the concepts of violence introduced to them by these outside forces.

It’s quite incredible how Joel and Ethan Coen managed to take such normal people and create memorable, effective characters out of them. Marge Gunderson, for example, is the polar opposite of the clichéd police officer that may have appeared in a lesser movie. She is good-spirited, optimistic, and friendly, not to mention seven months pregnant. As opposed to the men in Fargo, Marge is easy-going and calm, disconcerned with money, and a professional police officer who uses intuition and good police work to track down the criminals. Francis Mcdormand perfectly captures the personality of Marge, as well as her unique dialect.

Jerry Lundergard is another interesting character. Jerry is an inept car salesman who feels unappreciated at work and at home. In an attempt to prove himself as a success, he conceives an inane plot to kidnap his wife and steal a majority of her ransom. Jerry is a very flawed character. He isn’t a good liar, he is naïve, weak, utterly incompetent, and generally pathetic in his attitude towards his personal and professional life. He stupidly thrusts himself into a world he cannot begin to understand, and soon realizes that nearly every aspect of his original plan has gone completely awry. Soon, he is being attacked on all sides, the two kidnappers order a larger pay, his father-in-law insists that he himself deliver the ransom, the GMAC constantly badgers him about a stolen Sierra, and eventually, Marge catches up, resulting in one of the most memorable, tense, nervous, and effective confrontations ever put on film. William H. Macy is another great actor in this movie, perfectly portraying the desperation and repressed rage of the character.

There are many aspects of the film that are darkly comical, such as the two kidnappers, Carl Showalter and Gaear Grimsrud, who, despite their immoral and cold-hearted behavior, add some comic relief to the plot. Showalter is a greedy, scummy, unreliable, lying loudmouth played by Steve Buscemi. His partner, Gaear, could be considered the polar opposite; quiet and murderous, evil incarnate. Their interactions are quite funny, and Buscemi is, as usual, incredible. Fargo is also chock-full of instantly memorable and quotable lines of dialogue, a unique talent for the Coen Brothers, who have also provided audiences with quotable lines from subsequent films such as The Big Lebowski and No Country for Old Men.

The Coen brothers are fine filmmakers, and I enjoy a number of their movies, including their independent debut Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, the Big Lebowski, the Man Who Wasn’t there, and No Country For Old Men. They are quirky and ironic, never predictable and always original, they are uniquely talented, and very inspirational to me as a director. Fargo is a classic; suspenseful, funny, violent, and unforgettable; it is a masterpiece of American cinema.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Patriot (2000)

The Patriot is a film that came out a year too early. Imagine if this film had come out after September 11th, when American pride was at its all time high. It would've been bigger than Titanic! People would've been lining up around the block to see Mel Gibson fight for our country's freedom. It would've been considered the most inspirational film of all time, a masterpiece.

Instead, The Patriot is considered by many to be an over-indulgent exercise in Hollywood commercialism that contains little in the way of historical accuracy and even less in the way of originality. I say: bullocks to that! The Patriot is, to me, anyway, a fantastic historical action/drama, and even though it has its sappy, melodramatic scenes, it's still very enjoyable and entertaining.

Mel Gibson plays Benjamin Martin, a widower and wealthy plantation owner in the South with a large family, including his oldest son, Gabriel (Heath Ledger). Eventually, the Revolutionary War manages to find its way into Martin's backyard, and his house is burned by the evil General Tavington, a delightfully evil villain who's general insanity is matched only by Adolf Hitler. In addition, Tavington kills Martin's second oldest son, who, in all honesty, kinda deserves it (when Tavington says 'Stupid boy!', I agree.)

Anyway, Mel Gibson goes on a Rambo-esque rampage against British troops, the joins the Continental army as the leader of a militia. With his rag-tag team of gentle farmers and hard boiled brutes, Martin causes severe devastation the British supply lines, including one awesome scene in which they pop out from tall grass and shoot the shit out of the British redcoats.

This movie has a lot of action, which is why I consider it to be an action movie above all else. It's essentially just a standard revenge story set in a different time period (much like Braveheart). Mel Gibson is pretty cool, as usual, and his character is actually kinda deep (for an action movie, anyway). Heath Ledger is also pretty good, but rather dull. He has almost no personality, and his supposed 'love interest' is boring and has no influence on the actual plot. It should've been left on the cutting room floor.

The character of Tavington is evil to an insanely exaggerated degree. Was it necessary to make him so damn evil? His evil reaches Nazi-like proportions, perhaps even worse. He is a gnarly man indeed, and makes for a great villain, as long as you can get past his totally exaggerated behavior.

The battle scenes in the film are awesome. The costumes look great (though rather inaccurate), and every combat scene is thrilling and well-executed. The final battle, in particular, is very exciting.

The film contains so much emotionally exploitative moments it would make Terms Of Endearment jealous. Everything is so melodramatic and corny, but so aweome at the same time. My absolute part of the film is near the end, when Mel Gibson rides into battle carrying an American flag and all the soldiers wave their hats in the air triumphantly. It's an empowering scene, and its cheesier than Rosie O'donell's butt-crack.

The music in the film, composed by the legendary John Williams (Star Wars, Indiana Jones) is one of my favorite things about the film. The score is so epic. It's incredible, there's nothing more to say, it pretty much makes the film.

One of the many complaints about the film is its apparent skimming over of the many 'racial' issues going on at the time. I wonder if that's such a bad thing. Let me explain: in order to properly explore such delicate themes and issues, the film would have to dedicate a lot of time to it, and at over two and a half hours, the film is long enough as it is. So, the only options are to A.) cover it half-assingly, or B.) ignore it and get on with the action! I choose B.

While certainly not perfect, The Patriot is a very enjoyable film with great action, great music, and great direction (yes, for the first time ever, I liked Roland Emmrich's direction). I fucking love The Patriot.


Doc Hollywood (1990)

For a formulaic family film playing on the familiar ‘fish-out-of-water’ theme, I found Doc Hollywood to be rather enjoyable.

Michael J. Fox plays a successful doctor who’s on his way to Beverly Hills to be a plastic surgeon. On the way, he gets into a car accident, and finds himself stuck in a small bible-belt town full of hicks and country bumpkins. Because he accidently destroyed a farmer’s fence, Fox is forced to stay in the town and serve as the town doctor for a couple days.

A highlight of the film, for me, is the montage of Fox handling his new patients, who suffer from a variety of comical ailments, such as an absurdely large fishing hook stuck in the hand. In a funny, yet somewhat pregidous scene, a redneck couple asks Fox to read them a letter because they’re illiterate. Fox quickly becomes enthralled by the soap opera-type love affairs described in the letter. It’s quite funny.

In addition, there’s a boring love interest, which seems to be a requirement for every comedy made in the late 80’s /early 90’s. This time, it’s an independent, intelligent, free-thinking feminist, who swims in the nude and has no problem appearing naked in front of a complete stranger (yes, even though this is a pg-13 film, we see bare breasts). She’s a boring character.

Woody Harrelson is funny but underused as a country boy who is obsessed with selling insurance. I find it funny that he’s featured so prominently in the credits yet only appears in the film for a couple minutes. Maybe some of his scenes were cut. Fox is his usual, awkward self. If you love him in Back To The Future, then you’ll probably like him in Doc Hollywood.

Overall, this is a by-the-numbers comedy, but it’s still pretty funny and entertaining.


Hard Boiled movie review

I just finished watching the Honk Kong film Hard Boiled for the second time. As an action movie lover, I must admit that this film contains everything I adore about the genre and more.

It's a very westernized film, and essentially boils down into a 'loose-cannon cop' movie with a variety of cliches that make American action movies so damn fun.

One of the very first scenes contains one of my favorite cliches in which the chief chews out our hero for prematurely ending a case that the force has been working on for months. This cliche can also be found in the films 'Running Scared' and 'Point Break', among others.I find such cliches funny, so they don't bother me much.

The action in the film is superb. Explosions everywhere, blood flying all around, innumerable faceless bad guys to kill... what else could one want from an action movie? I tell ya, these guys from Hong Kong sure knew how to deliver the goods.

The plot is pretty interesting as well. I won't spoil it for anyone, but be sure to expect some
exciting twists and turns along the way.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable film.