Ghost Rider (2007)


Morning, Bonehead

I consider today’s review to be a preamble (of sorts) to a review from the near future.  I plan to see the recently released sequel to this movie in theaters, but I really have no idea why.  I’ve seen today’s movie before and (though I have purchased it 3 times) do not actually like it.  I’m an enigma.  Besides that fact, I have never been that big of a fan of the comic books this movie is based on, so far having only read a 6 issue story arc and one other comic this character made a cameo in.  And yet, I remain hopeful that the sequel I intend to see would be the awesome movie to fix the pile of shit today’s movie was … even though Rotten Tomatoes actually rates the sequel lower than this one.  It makes me very afraid to see the sequel, having just found that out.  But I remain resolute and won’t be swayed.  Today’s movie is the first part, a movie so mockable that I’ve taken more notes on this movie than any other movie I’ve reviewed, totally one and a half pages of mostly angry nerd thoughts.  But, since it would be too easy and lame to simply post my notes as a review, I am forced to write a full review of Ghost Rider, written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson, and starring Nicholas Cage, Wes Bentley, Peter Fonda, Sam Elliott, Eva Mendes, Matt Long, Raquel Alessi, Brett Cullen, Donal Logue, Lawrence Breuls, Matt Wilkinson, Daniel Frederiksen, and Rebel Wilson.

In the old Westie times, the Devil himself, Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda) tasks his bounty hunter, the Ghost Rider, with retrieving a contract worth thousands of corrupt souls from a town called San Venganza.  Knowing it would give the Devil too much power, the Ghost Rider runs away and hides the contract.  150 years later, Mephistopheles has not yet learned from his mistakes and decides he would like to make another Ghost Rider, choosing a 17-year-old motorcycle stunt rider, incredulously named Johnny Blaze (Matt Long).  Blaze sells his soul (kinda) to the Devil in exchange for curing his father of cancer.  Apparently, no one ever told him to be very careful with his words when making deals with the Devil, because he just gets the Devil to agree to cure his dad’s cancer, saying nothing about him living a long, full life.  Johnny’s dad dies that same day in a motorcycle crash.  Lesson: always read the fine print.  Johnny’s curse makes him decide to ditch his girlfriend, Roxanne (Raquel Alessi), not wanting her to get caught in some loophole he was too dumb to pay attention to.  As he tears off down the road on his dad’s motorcycle, he (unfortunately) turns into Nicholas Cage.  Nowadays, Johnny’s a somehow successful daredevil stunt man who practically never lands his jumps, but survives anyways.  One day, he gets interviewed by a reporter who turns out to be Roxanne, now (very VERY fortunately) turned into Eva Mendes.  He manages to talk her into a date, but ends up standing her up again because Mephisto comes back and tells Johnny he needs to kill Mephisto’s own son, Blackheart (Wes Bentley), who has come to Earth to find the contract of San Venganza in order to overtake his father with it’s power.  Johnny turns into the new Ghost Rider to do it, and away we go.

I feel so conflicted about this movie.  Not about my opinion of the movie, mind you.  It’s crap.  But it’s crap that looks good at times, like one of those diamond encrusted craps that I’m sure we’ve all seen at one time or another.  Let’s talk story, since the people that wrote this movie obviously didn’t.  The story of the Ghost Rider is a dark and badass one.  They got the main story points in here, including the selling of the soul, the Devil’s betrayal and the death of Johnny’s father, the guy with his head on fire, it’s all here.  What they apparently decided to do with their dark story of the Devil was to try to make it light-hearted and funny whenever they could, failing on the funny, of course.  The only way for me to do this in any coherent fashion is to just go through the movie chronologically.  First, the premise is good.  I like the idea of the contract with all of the souls that would make the Devil come to Earth to claim it.  That’s all well and good.  But when we jump into Johnny’s story (mind you, this happens 5 minutes in) it goes to Hell.  Not literally, that would be too awesome.  It just starts with the sucking.  One thing I noticed was, as a smoker myself, I would recommend that Johnny’s dad not think that the answer to a coughing fit is to grab a cigarette.  Next, the contract thing is complete bullshit!  Sadly, this is the foundation that the movie sits on.  Johnny NEVER AGREED TO THIS CONTRACT!  Since when does holding a contract and getting a papercut count as a legally binding contract?!  I know we shouldn’t expect the Devil to play fair, but if this is within his power he can go up to anyone and say “Sell me your soul.  Oh, you didn’t say no, GIMME!”  Speaking of which, how the Hell is Johnny so surprised when the Devil fucks him over?  I have a very good friend that’s an Athiest, but I’m sure even he’d agree that (if there was a Devil) one would not give him your trust lightly.  When we jump into Nicholas Cage as Johnny, it somehow gets worse.  What’s lower than Hell?  ‘Cause I kind of already blew my load preemptively with that …  Either way, it gets retarded pretty quick.  The first thing that started to piss me off was the fact that Johnny Blaze was a super popular and famous daredevil who apparently made a habit of never landing his fucking jumps.  I understand that there’s a certain level of hoping to see a cool crash and all, but if I go to see a daredevil jump something, that’s what I want to see.  If all he does is fail, I’m out.  I don’t think the Faces of Death videos are so popular with people that he could get that large of a crowd that only want to see him die.  And, if the chances were high that he was only going to fail anyways, why not just have him jump his motorcycle into a wall instead of wasting money to get cars and helicopters for him to jump over?  Also, it’s a bit contradictory of me to say this since I’ve complained about movies setting up obvious and stupid things early in the movie that pay off with obvious and stupid things later, but this movie sets up those things to no effect whatsoever.  Why does Johnny drink Jelly Beans out of a martini glass?  What is his fascination with monkey movies?  Why does this movie have such a strong anti-smoking and anti-drinking message but they’ll have Johnny Blaze riding, and doing tricks on, his motorcycle without a helmet?  Later on, another thing occurred to me: shouldn’t we get on top of making better body bags?  Every time someone is being wheeled away in a body bag in a movie, their arm falls out of the side.  Those are some shoddy zippers.  When Roxanne comes back to Johnny, one should think that there should be SOME reason for her to do so.  He stands her up as a teenager (a grudge she is still holding), but he manages to talk her into going on a date where she gets stood up again.  She tells him off (as he rightly deserves), but then shows up at his house and starts making out with him.  He’s done nothing to deserve that!  ::SPOILER ALERT::  Near the end of the movie, when it’s revealed that Sam Elliott was the previous Ghost Rider, he apparently has only one more transformation into the Ghost Rider left in him.  How does he use it?  He transforms to ride side by side with Johnny Blaze through the desert in some Ghost Rider money shot, then tosses him a shotgun and leaves.  That’s how you use it?  Also, what the Hell were the sins of that little lizard you barbecued when you were riding through the desert, Ghost Rider, protector of the innocent?  I’ll say only one nice thing about the story: I actually liked the way they beat Blackheart.  At first, Ghost Rider’s Penance Stare was ineffectual on Blackheart because he had no soul.  Once he’s absorbed the souls from the contract of San Venganza, he’s got plenty to go around, and Ghost Rider burns him to death with those.  That was actually fairly clever.  Granted, the did kind of piss on that by having Cage deliver some soliloquy reminiscent of Mighty Mouse (something like “Wherever innocents are suffering, wherever evil does bad things, Hercules will be there with his Legendary Journies”).  ::END SPOILERS::

This is probably going to go a little long, people, ’cause now we’re talking dialogue.  SHIT!  The only thing muttered during any action scene in this movie was one-liners so bad that you could only see them coming if you had just taken a tire iron upside the head.  These phrases were along the lines of, or downright verbatim, “You’re going down”, “I don’t think so”, “I’m all out of mercy”, and “You not do bad things no more.”  That last one might have been residual brain damage from the tire iron.  In the few comics I read of the Ghost Rider, he barely ever spoke, and when he did, it was some pretty awesome version of “I’m going to kill the shit out of you right now.”  He’s a demon, and should most certainly never be heard to mutter “YEEHAW” while he’s roping a helicopter out of the air with one of his chains.  Of course, a lot of the things Nicholas Cage said, if they weren’t awful already, were made so by the country accent he decided to use.  Take, for instance, when he asks Roxanne if she “still likes Eye-Talian” food.  Some of the lines in the movie may have been made worse by the editing, though, like when Johnny was psyching himself up for his date with Roxanne.  He’s in the mirror saying “You deserve a second chance” to himself, but the editing is cutting to scenes of Roxanne sitting in the restaurant waiting.  I don’t know if you know this, movie, but that KINDA indicates to the audience that these events are happening simultaneously, and if Johnny is still psyching himself up for the date that he’s already 20 minutes late for and he hasn’t even left his house, then I would argue that he does not, in fact, deserve a second chance.  Of course, I think the pinnacle of awful lines in movies has to be one that the writers were apparently so proud of they actually used it in the trailer: when Nicholas Cage says “I feel like my skull’s on fire, but I’m good.”  When I saw this movie in theaters and this line was excreted, it made my testicles hurt.  I can’t remember the occasion that well, but I’m sure one of my friends would tell me that I yelled “OOOOOOoooooooWWW” when this happened.  That is not a common phrase, movie!  I have never heard ANYONE say (unironically) that they felt like their skull was on fire.

I’ll give you guys a bit of a respite and talk about something I liked … briefly.  The look of the movie.  The Ghost Rider looked appropriately badass.  At first, he looked pretty awesome with Johnny Blaze’s normal attire, but when he upgraded his leather jacket to one with spikes all over it – and a matching gauntlet – he became pretty epically badass.  I thought it was strange, though, that when a cop runs up to the guy who is a skeleton with a flaming head and cracks him in the face with a nightstick, he seems to only get shocked when the flaming skull head guy puts his dislocated jaw back in place.  Cops see flaming skull head dudes every day, but ones that can relocated their jaws?  UNHEARD OF!  His motorcycle was also the tits.  I cannot really bring myself to complain about any aspect of the Ghost Rider himself.  Blackheart, on the other hand, just looked like a pasty emo boy that occasionally had a little demon face peak through.  He was never that intimidating.  Mephisto was a little better, but not much.  When Blackheart became “Legion” after absorbing the souls from San Venganza, he actually looked LESS cool, just having glowing red eyes and shitty dark-elf-from-World-of-Warcraft makeup.  I confused myself a little bit when I took great issue with the stupidity of the Ghost Rider riding on water, yet when he rides up and down the sides of a skyscraper, I said to myself “I’m with you.”  I don’t think I’ve ever made the claim that I make sense.  I didn’t like a couple of things in the fights, either.  First, when Ghost Rider defeats the air elemental demon by creating some silly vortex of fire with his chains, that wasn’t really interesting.  Even worse was what happened to the water demon, who just pulled Cage into the water, struggled with him for a bit, and then died when Cage turned into Ghost Rider and yelled at him underwater.  It seemed as if they finished the movie and realized “Ooops, we forgot about the water dude.  Just toss something in.  Who’s gonna care?  Have you seen the rest of this crap?!”  Then, in the final battle, Cage unloads on Blackheart about 8 times with the shotgun, never doing any significant damage.  When Eva picks up the gun, she shoots his head off by the second shot.  Should the damsel in distress really be a better shot than our hero?  I guess, since his big move a little earlier was to peg Blackheart with snowballs made of fire like a schoolyard bully in A Christmas Story.

One more description paragraph to go.  I still need to talk about the performances … unfortunately.  It occurs to me that I really should try to watch a Nicholas Cage movie that isn’t shit, but that could take a lot of looking that I don’t feel like I have the energy for right now.  He was pretty shitty in this movie.  He was apparently going for a horror movie style performance, but he landed at a horrible movie style performance.  That’s why you read these things, people: my stunning mastery of wit.  His transformations into the Ghost Rider start off good, but then go way overboard into him laughing maniacally like a demented little boy torturing a cat.  But later, he gets possessed by that cat as he’s transforming in a jail cell and starts almost hissing and lashing at the other criminals like he was trying to fend off a big dog.  I’d say the first transformation was reminiscent of him burning alive in The Wicker Man, but my brain won’t allow me to recall that movie.  Eva Mendes was a breath of fresh air that I needed in this movie.  Her performance wasn’t anything special, but she was smokin’ hot, so I at least had that going for me.  Even her younger self, Raquel Alessi, was smokin’ hot AND very reminiscent of Eva.  A lot of the bad things to Eva’s character probably weren’t her fault.  She just played it regular, but things were probably just written stupidly.  First off, who brings a Magic 8 Ball on a date?  Secondly, how fuckin’ gay was the waiter that she asked “You think I’m pretty, right?” and got “Meh” out of?  I remember her saying that she put on a little weight to make Roxanne more of a “real girl”, but if that’s true it just made her look better.  Also, how the Hell does she look at the Ghost Rider and automatically think “…Johnny?”  Eh, that’s just nitpicky.  Easily the worst part of the cast was Rebel Wilson.  I know my friend Mike fell in love with her fat, goth girl character, but I wanted to punch her in the face.  Yeah, she was only in it for a minute, but it made me angry.  I have not the words to express how I feel about this pointless little character.

Wow.  I just did a Harry Potter-length review on this movie.  I grant you that this movie is much more tolerable than Thankskilling or Transmorphers, but when you shit on comic books it just hurts me that much more.  This movie took a great, dark ass-kicker of a character and made him into a backwoods hick of a joke.  The story is good when they stole it from the comic books, and there is a vaguely clever part to the ending, but the rest of the story is just awful and the dialogue just matches it.  If nothing else, the Ghost Rider himself looks pretty awesome, but it’s hard to notice when he’s spitting out shitty lines.  Even though I purchased it three times, I recommend you purchase it three times less.  You don’t even really need to concern yourself with viewing it at all.  Fingers crossed for part two, but I’ve got a bad feeling about this.  Speaking of which, Ghost Rider gets “I feel like my skull’s on fire” out of “I’m the only one who can walk in both worlds.”  By the way, I probably could’ve done at least one more paragraph, so I’ve actually used some degree of restraint.

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Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation (1992)


Gee, Plucky, I Guess You Didn’t Get Your Wish

When I reviewed A Goofy Movie, my interest was sparked to watch another movie with a similar concept that I enjoyed in my youth.  Both are animated movies revolving around how the characters spent their summer vacation.  Both are also based on younger versions of famous animated characters, with A Goofy Movie coming from famous Disney characters and today’s movie from famous Warner Brothers characters.  And both movie have me going in fearing the destruction of a fond childhood memory.  But when I went to find this one, I found a DVD of it to be extremely difficult to come across … mainly because an official DVD doesn’t exist.  Well, I found a copy of it anyway, so let’s get into my review of Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation, a direct-to-video movie written by Paul Dini, Nicholas Hollander, Tom Ruegger, and Sherri Stoner, directed by Rich Arons, and starring the vocal talents of Charlie Adler, Tress MacNeille, Joe Alaskey, Don Messick, Cree Summer, Kath Soucie, Gail Matthius, Rob Paulsen, Maurice LaMarche, Candi Milo, Jonathan Winters, Edie McClurg, Sorrell Booke, and Frank Welker.

All of the once famous Tiny Toon kids have just been released from Acme University and allowed to set off on their (mostly) separate adventures.  Buster (Charlie Adler) and Babs (Tress MacNeille) Bunny (no relation, so it’s okay if they fuck) engage in a water pistol war that eventually escalates to them flooding the town of Acme Acres and leaving themselves to float downstream on a boat with a dog named Byron Basset (Frank Welker).  They come across opossums that try to eat them, a family of alligators that want to marry Buster … and then eat them, and a river boat that wants them to entertain the guests … before they eat them.  Plucky Duck (Joe Alaskey) manages to hitch a ride with his friend Hampton J. Pig (Don Messick) and his family – Wade (Jonathan Winters), Winnie (Edie McClurg), and Uncle Stinky – on their trip to HappyWorldLand.  Fowlmouth (Rob Paulsen) finally gets Shirley the Loon (Gail Matthius) to agree to go to a movie with him, but he’s promptly kicked out for being a jerk.  Fifi Le Fume (Kath Soucie) is obsessed with a movie star named Johnny Pew and is trying to get his autograph.  Dizzy Devil (Maurice LaMarche) is sad because he can’t spin because he’s shedding and would be naked if he did.  Just live free, man!  Also, Elmyra Duff (Cree Summer) is trying to find a “kitty”.

I could not bring myself to type that this movie “holds up” to the memory I had of it in my childhood.  I didn’t hate it, but the movie was clearly made for someone to enjoy at a much younger age … mostly.  I’ll come back to that.  The humor of this movie is pretty much all the slapstick stuff that you should’ve stopped thinking was funny at about 13.  I actually saw a review on Rotten Tomatoes that called this movie “laugh-out-loud” and, best I could tell, the writer was not 9 years old and pounding his review out on his very first LeapPad.  I only read what was readily available on the screen for fear that pressing ‘more’ and reading it in it’s entirety might turn my brain to mush and have it leak out my ears.  It wasn’t a real critic, however.  None of them actually reviewed this movie.  And that is exactly why you should never listen to the reviews of the masses: they tend to be really stupid.  Getting back to what a professional reviewer thought, the movie was still pretty charming, but nowhere near funny.  One part in the movie was able to inspire me to laugh.  It was when Elmyra was driving with her parents through a zoo safari and decided she wanted to jump out of the car to get a “kitty”, herein referred to as a Cheetah.  The part that made me laugh was the person over the loudspeaker saying “May I repeat (so that Warner Brothers won’t get sued if anyone actually does this): Do not get out of the car.”  The rest of the comedy was mainly just slapstick.  They had a few moments that seemed to be meant for adults, like the parts with celebrity appearances that the children watching this would not recognize (such as Jay Leno, David Letterman, Johnny Carson, Rosanne Barr, etc.)  The problem with this was that it was also not funny.  They were just kind of there, as if you were watching the bastard child of Looney Tunes and The Critic that had a birth defect that destroyed it’s sense of humor.  There’s even a joke where Buster compares Babs to Maury Amsterdam.  This joke is so not meant for children that I’m 28 and I have no idea who that is.  At one point, Elmyra actually uses the word “capricious”.  I know ADULTS who don’t know what that word means!  They do a couple of fourth wall breaking jokes that I found cute, like when Babs shot the screen with her water pistol and the hand of the “cameraman” came up to wipe it off, but I certainly wouldn’t call that funny.  There were a couple of songs in the movie as well, but none of them nearly as good as A Goofy Movie’s songs were.  I enjoyed the song that opened it, but mainly because it was a setup exposition that reminded you of the one or two personality traits that were awarded to each character, which was a necessary refresher for me, 20 years removed from my affections for Tiny Toons. They also have a song, once they arrive at HappyWorldLand, that seems to be a “Fuck You” to Disneyland as it basically paints the Disney-esque park to be run by greedy, money hungry jerks, which is weird because this would’ve been right around the time that Warner Brothers jumped on board to Magic Mountain.  But they probably did it for much more wholesome reasons.

Can you call characters a ripoff if the company making the cartoon is the owner of the ripped off characters?  Probably.  The entire premise of these Tiny Toons is confusing to my mind, now so bitter and beaten down by life that I would actually analyze them.  They’re like children versions of the Warner Brothers cartoons, but not really because those ‘toons are still in the show.  They’re not their children either, so I don’t really know what they are.  When I was 13, I wrote a book about the children of the X-Men that I sent to Marvel, got rejected (because the book was probably pretty shitty), and later changed the characters I created just enough to turn them into my own comic book … that was also pretty shitty.  So, basically, this show’s premise is as creative as something I came up with when I was 13.  Buster was kind of a dick, but he was the cool lazy bad boy type that I probably wanted to be like when I was a kid, except for one part: his relationship with Babs.  Babs seemed pretty intent on getting after Buster’s dick for most of the movie, but he was having none of it.  I don’t know how old these characters were supposed to be, but that relationship is probably something I don’t want to see too much of.  I felt kind of bad for Plucky in this movie, but mainly because his side of the story was basically a 30 minute “Fuck You” to him.  All he wants to do is go to HappyWorldLand, but the movie does everything it can to ruin that for him.  First, his dick anus of a friend, Hampton, sees him basically begging to go along with his family on this trip and doesn’t think to ask.  I thought, at first, that Plucky’s parents might have taken issue with it, but they’re never seen and seem unconcerned with their child going missing for a few months so one can assume his parents can go to Hell.  I don’t know why he was so intent on going along with Hampton in the first place because his numerous attempts to get his family to stop on their road trip meant that he (on foot) had to get out ahead of them and set up some elaborate “Stop Here” setup to try to get into their car.  If you can run faster than their car, you should just go on foot.  Plus, the trip was horrible for Plucky, since Hampton’s family was as neglecting to Plucky as his own family probably is.  He didn’t get to eat, they didn’t let him get a drink of water from a fountain, they picked up a murderous hitchhiker and sat him down next to Plucky.  When they finally got to HappyWorldLand, Hampton’s stupid family was content in going around the perimeter of the park once in the monorail before heading home, further shitting on Plucky’s head.  I also found a few annoyances with the Fifi La Fume character, and not just because she was just a female version of Pepe Le Pew with no other differences in character than their genitalia.  It’s obvious to me (as someone who speaks French … kinda) that this character has no concept whatsoever of the French language.  I can’t really remember any examples right now, but I put it in my notes so it must be true.  Also, the introduction to the character shows pretty clearly that she (as a skunk) stinks, but later (in a crowded movie theater) they completely forget that character trait because they don’t presently have a “joke” about it.

Do you think there’s a chance I’ve written more about this movie than any other “critic” has?  I realize that I said a lot of things about the movie that would lead almost anyone to believe that I hated it, but that’s not really the case.  It’s flawed, to be sure, but it’s still somewhat charming, and I imagine kids will probably love it.  It just doesn’t hold a lot for adults.  Making fun of it does, however, so I decided to do that instead.  It’s not funny, but the story is interesting enough and I doubt any parents forced to sit down with their kids and watch it will hate life for doing so.  I recently had to sit through a few episodes of Barney with the child of my friend, and I will watch this movie over that any day of the week.  Plus, I don’t know how your kids would get you to sit down and watch this movie as it’s incredibly hard to find, so you’re probably safe from having to find out if you can take it.  Either way it’s a cute movie and I’d probably buy it if it ever comes out on DVD.  Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation gets “I think the left front tire is a little low” out of “I’m gonna go on every ride ’til I barf twice!”

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The Proposal (2009)


Will You Marry Me?  Because I’d Like to Date You

I have only dim recollection of what lead me to put today’s movie in my Netflix queue, and I’m pretty sure it was mostly based on the fact that Sandra Bullock was nude (ish) in the movie.  I’m not sure that this could be the entirety of the situation because I was well aware of the fact that she covered up all the good bits.  And so I am lead to believe that something about this Rom-Com sparked my interest, whether it was the stars of the movie, the expectation of charm from the movie, or maybe I just wanted to shit on it in a review.  Whatever lead me to it, the movie finally arrived (though it was mainly because I wasn’t paying attention to what was coming up on my queue) and I sat down and watched it.  The Proposal was written by Peter Chiarelli, directed by Anne Fletcher, and starring Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Denis O’Hare, Betty White, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Oscar Nunez, Malin Akerman, and Aasif Mandvi.

Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is an editor at a book publishing company who moonlights as a mega-bitch.  America comes along with a way to put this uppity bitch in her place: Canada.  Turns out she never got her work visa renewed and she’s going to get deported.  Inspiration comes in the well-chiseled form of her assistant, Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds), who unwittingly gets roped into fake marrying her.  All their problems are not quite solved, as Immigration Officer Mr. Gilbertson (Denis O’Hare) will be keeping a close eye on them.  To keep up the facade, Margaret accompanies Andrew to Sitka, Alaska, where he was headed to celebrate the birthday of his grandmother Annie (Betty White), along with his mother Grace (Mary Steenburgen), father Joe (Craig T. Nelson), and ex-girlfriend Gertrude (Malin Akerman).  Chances are very good that things will not go smoothly.

I was very surprised to find myself somewhat charmed by this movie.  Much less surprised, however, to find that I had a couple of complaints about it.  It’s a romantic comedy to be sure, but neither the romance nor the comedy worked very well for me.  I’m not too masculine to admit when I like a Rom-Com.  In fact, I’m not too masculine at all.  There have been a few Rom-Com’s that I’ve found appealing in the past, but this movie didn’t live up to it’s genre.  The romance of the movie was somewhat present, but one of the biggest part of the Rom-Com is at the very end, having endured the hardships that the movie has put upon the couple only to leave them realizing that they’re actually in love and coming together with some big gushy speech and a kiss.  It had the hardships, it had the love, and it had the reunion, but the big gushy speech didn’t have the impact that better written movies usually do in this moment.  The last speech should be so icky and cheesy that women should get so moist downstairs that they slide out of their movie theater seats.  That sentence had plenty of icky, but lacked cheesiness, so I wouldn’t put it in a Rom-Com.  The second half of the genre never really showed up for me either.  The movie had it’s charms, but barely strayed too near actual funniness.  The greater majority of the attempts at comedy in this movie were people asking Margaret and Andrew a relationship question and they had to bumble about to make up an answer.  Also, who the fuck just randomly tells people they need to make out in front of them?  At one point, right after announcing their “engagement”, the people of Andrew’s family say “KISS HER!” and will not take no for an answer.  Why not just leave behind all civility and command him to throw her to the ground and dry hump her until their pants start a fire?  Some people (decent people, if you ask me) don’t feel it’s appropriate to make out in public.  I’m okay with a goodbye peck, but when my high school friend tried to see how far he could get his tongue down his girlfriend’s throat as my mother and I stood by waiting to give him a ride home, civilized folk might think that to be in poor taste.  Let’s face it, the whole movie is so predictable that you can watch the trailer and give a dissertation on the whole movie, as if the trailer itself served double duty as the Cliff Notes.  It has the same problems as the greater majority of Chick Flicks in that it cannot deviate from the pattern.  Problem, off-kilter solution, speed bumps, climactic boiling point, gushy speech, love, ending.  There’s a Rom-Com for you.  I know there are some women smart enough to not have their ponytail explode on them if there is an unexpected twist in a movie, but they still flock to these movies as if their vaginas were going to stop working if they didn’t.  I guess men have our big dumb action flicks as the other side of that coin.  They even do that thing I point out a lot where they “subtly” have Margaret announce “You know I can’t swim” early on in the movie and SURPRISE, she falls into the water later on.  For another note, I found it amusing that the movie opened with Sandra Bullock doing the exact same thing I was doing: riding a stationary bike while watching a TV.  Yes, with my new exercise plan of riding a bike as I do my movies, you will all soon love me for my mind AND body.  Also, Ryan Reynolds was in my bed, just as he was in the movie!  But that’s another story.

I think any issues I had with this movie would mainly be the cause of the writers and not the cast.  They performed as well as they could under the circumstances.  Sandra Bullock played it bitchy, standoffish, and out of her element for the greater majority of the movie.  I still found myself charmed by her, even with her rough exterior.  When that exterior begins to crack and you see signs of the vulnerable person beneath, she hooked me.  One thing she did in the movie brought a very important question to mind: do women not know about morning wood?  She seemed very shocked and confused by Reynold’s morning wood, but I was under the impression that this was a well-known phenomenon.  Of course, I am a guy.  Speaking of, Ryan Reynolds is in this movie too.  I never really understood his appeal though.  I mean, I look exactly the same as he does with my shirt off, but I have the decency to keep my shirt on.  Does every man not look like us?  I’m confused …  Either way, he’s in the movie so he, of course, gets his abs out.  I felt like he was a little too much of a dick to Bullock once he was taking advantage of doing her a favor.  I understand that everyone in the movie world dealt with Sandra being a bitch for 3 years, but we only had about a half hour of it before he started being the asshole, so our impression as an audience would tend to sway towards “Why’s he being such a dick?”  Betty White was pretty enjoyable in the movie, but they take the easy approach to making comedy for her by turning everything she does into “Old People Do the Darnedest Things”.  The part where she was doing the strange chanting thing in the woods served no purpose whatsoever, especially since it wasn’t very humorous.  And how did an uptight person like Margaret know the lyrics to “Get Low” by Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz?  She’s an editor, and should find the misspelling of “little” and “boys” abhorrent.  Mary Steenburgen had a disappointingly small role in the movie, and Craig T. Nelson pretty much just served as the antagonist to Reynolds.  Oscar Nunez had some parts that some might find funny, but I don’t find it shocking enough to see an out of shape person dancing in Speedos.  I see that all the time.  The idea that he played so many roles around town could have been funny, but they didn’t really write it to much effect.  It was novel of the movie to not take the obvious approach with Malin Akerman’s ex-girlfriend character, making her a bitch who would get in the way of Sandra and Ryan, but they just decided to make her wallpaper for most of the scenes she was in.  Pretty to look at, but you forget it’s there after some time.  Having her going after Reynolds would’ve been an interesting quandary.  Given the choice, I think I’d have a hard time choosing between Sandra Bullock and Malin Akerman too.  I guess it would depend on what I was choosing them for.  Sandra’s the kind you take home to momma, and Malin seems like the kind that you just take home.  I suppose there’s a chance she’s got a good personality to go with them good looks though.

I feel like this is a movie that the cast did their best to elevate, but the writers could not be swayed to do anything beyond the cookie cutter movie.  If you know this movie exists, you can probably tell me (with a very low margin of error) exactly where it’s going.  It’s charming, but not that romantic or funny.  It’s not painful to watch, but it’s entirely forgettable.  And skippable.  I don’t think I’d recommend you watch this movie, but I also don’t think you’d hate it if you did.  I’ll leave you to make your own decisions.  I’ve given you enough random words for this day.  To add a few more, The Proposal gets “I’m sorry for feeding you to the eagle” out of “I call it ‘The Baby Maker’.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

What’s Love Got to Do with It? (1993)


Go Straight to Hell, Ike

Lest we jump to the conclusion that I’m a racist, allow me to assure you that I had a hankering to watch today’s movie long before it was requested of me to watch The Bodyguard.  I didn’t just watch The Bodyguard and say to myself, “Black people are very similar, and this movie reminds me of another movie about a black singer.”  It had simply been a really long time since the last time I had watched today’s movie, and talks between my roommate and I had driven us to want to rewatch it.  I found it at Best Buy for $5 and decided it was time.  Today’s movie is based on the life of another black songstress, and this time one that’s still alive, so I have no room to make inappropriate “dead person” jokes.  But this movie opens me up for plenty of other inappropriate “spousal abuse” jokes.  So let’s get into it, with my review of What’s Love Got to Do with It?, written by Kate Lanier, directed by Brian Gibson, and starring Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, Tina Turner, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Jenifer Lewis, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, Khandi Alexander, and Barry Henley.

It’s a difficult thing to describe a movie that just follows the life of someone famous, but here goes: This is Tina Turner’s life, give or take a few truths.  The end.  To give you a little more, she starts off as Anna Mae Bullock (Angela Bassett), a fairly naive young black lass from Tennessee.  She moves in with her mom and sister and starts going to a club where she develops a crush on a local singer named Ike Turner (Laurence Fishburne).  She gets up on stage one night and turns out to be a very good singer, so Ike pounces.  They begin to develop a certain degree of fame, and a romance develops right along with it.  They eventually get married and her name inexplicably changes to Tina Turner.  I thought Ike and Anna sounds just as good as Ike and Tina, but they begged to differ.  Over time, fame brings a cheerful white powder to the nose of Ike, which in turn brings a less cheerful black fist to the face of Tina.  Ike starts getting abusive and Tina just ignores it … or becomes brain damaged by it.  Who can tell?  Eventually, Tina’s probably going to want to remember what it’s like to see the world out of both eyes and leave Ike, and I have a feeling this plucky young broad will do alright.

I had a hard time formulating an opinion of this movie, but I think I’ve worked one out by now.  I liked the movie, but I feel like the story shouldn’t get that many of the kudos.  The writers can kind of breeze through it because it’s just based on a book that was based on the life of a real person, but they did throw a couple of things in that didn’t actually happen for emotional emphasis.  I guess the most accurate way to describe how I feel about it is that Tina Turner’s life was a great story, and this movie didn’t fuck it up.  Part of the problem I had with the movie is that I had seen it before, but probably right around when it came out.  In the ensuing years, I’ve forgotten it almost completely.  And what I hadn’t forgotten was the beatings, so I found myself waiting for those to happen with a level of excitement I should feel bad about.  I can’t say I didn’t find the movie interesting by any stretch, but we should all be acquainted with how I feel about dramas by now.  This one is a lot more tolerable than most dramas as it has a happy ending.  I can’t bring myself to consider it a spoiler that Ike and Tina don’t work out, Ike walks alone into the night with subtitles informing us that he later got caught with drugs and arrested, but not being able to inform us that he also died from cocaine overdose because that happened 14 years after the movie came out.  It also ends with the real Tina Turner singing “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” and giving us an unnecessary subtitle that she’s doing alright in her music career.  Since I’ve already compared this movie to The Bodyguard, I’ll keep it up a little.  In comparison to The Bodyguard, this one can’t really match it in the song category.  I can’t claim that I’ve ever been that big of a Tina Turner fan, but this movie did give me the two songs of her’s I know and enjoy, those being “Proud Mary” and “What’s Love Got to Do with It?”  Tina’s got a different and interesting voice, but I just preferred Whitney Houston’s.  The only thing in this movie that confused me was the chant that she gets obsessed with at one point in the movie.  I admit that I know nothing about Buddhism, but I would assume that the entire thing is not just chanting “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” in front of some candles, let alone being called that.  If it works for you, that’s great, but I assume it wouldn’t change my life one bit to kneel in front of something that was on fire and repeat some words.  And that’s coming from a lifelong Christian!

The story didn’t impress me in this movie all that much.  What should truly impress anybody is the performances, and pretty much all of them.  Angela Bassett was pretty damned impressive in this role.  She starts off super innocent and naive, but she gets that beaten out of her by about halfway into the movie.  She then becomes a pretty timid character that mostly just tries not to rile up Ike.  At the end of the movie, she becomes the Tina Turner we want her to be: one that spouts gibberish at candles and kicks Ike in his smug fuckin’ nuts.  Yeah, she still got fucked up in that fight, but you shoulda seen the other guy.  The biggest thing that kept occurring to me through the entire movie was how little sense it made for Tina to be getting beaten up by Ike in the first place.  Bassett had fucking super hero arms!  I am not too much of a man (by a long shot) to admit that Bassett scared me with how ripped and muscular she was in this movie.  Plus, I’m a little afraid of what she might do to me if I didn’t admit it.  I was actually envious of her arms!  She had a vein in her bicep!  It also made me confused, because when they showed the real Tina Turner at the end, she was nowhere near that level of ripped.  And it was weird to me that Angela Bassett was able to still be attractive somehow, even though hugging her could leave me in traction.  Laurence Fishburne was also pretty impressive.  He acted exactly as you’d expect that kind of guy to act.  He starts off seeming like a pretty nice, if a little cocky, guy.  You start to see him get really jealous of Tina because he’s always going to play second fiddle to her.  It escalates first into verbal abuse, and the cocaine gets that kicked up a notch into the physical department.  I believed his performance the entire time, but I also found myself thinking that he was doing a Samuel L. Jackson impression for parts of it.

I was perhaps a bit harsh to imply that the writers of this movie should be considered transcribers instead.  They did a good job taking a person’s life and turning it into a movie, so I guess I’ll at least muster up a golf clap.  The real reason to see this movie is the performances by the two stars, and that’s worth the price of admission alone.  I don’t know what they went up against the year the movie came out, but I would not have argued if both Bassett and Fishburne got Oscars for this movie.  It’s definitely a good watch, and since you can purchase the movie for $5 from Best Buy, I think we can all agree that’s a fair price to pay.  What’s Love Got to Do with It? gets “Eat the cake, Anna Mae” out of “If you die on me, bitch, I’ll kill you!”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

The Woman in Black (2012)


Daddy … Who’s That Lady?

To finish off my reviews of “What to Expect When You’re Inducting” – also known as “Reviews That Were Inspired by my Vacation” – I must come around to the second movie I saw in theaters that were within walking distance of a hotel in Arizona.  Thankfully, today’s movie won’t require that I watch and review three movies before I review this one (as Underworld did), and also won’t require me to feign sadness over the loss of a singer (as The Bodyguard did).  This one can stand alone.  Also, I have a vague recollection of coworker-ish person, Sam, requesting that I review this movie.  Whatever the inspiration, here comes The Woman in Black, based on a novel by Susan Hill, written for the screen by Jane Goldman, directed by James Watkins, and starring Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer, Misha Handley, Jessica Raine, and Sophie Stuckley.

As we start, three young girls simultaneously commit suicide.  But we’ll get back to that.  Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is a very sad person.  Four years ago, his wife Stella (Sophie Stuckey) died during the birth of their child Joseph (Misha Handley) and Arthur refuses to get the fuck over it for the betterment of his son.  I understand you loved the lady, but you’ve had four years and you’re making the household like a fucking mortuary for your son because you just can’t stop being emo.  In order to return to his life, Arthur goes back to his overly forgiving place of work and they give him a job of arranging the estate of recently deceased Alice Drablow.  Upon arrival, he quickly finds that the local town has come down with a nasty case of the Creepy Assholitis and everyone just decides to be automatically rude and distant from Arthur.  He befriends Sam Daily (Ciaran Hinds) and his wife Elizabeth (Janet McTeer), and goes about the business of looking through giant stacks of paper in a creepy, isolated house.  Creepy things start happening around the house, finally culminating with Arthur catching sight of “The Woman in Black” and hearing what sounds like people screaming in the distance.  When he reports this to the constable, two boys from the village bring their sister in because she has drunk lye.  She coughs up blood and dies.  It soon comes out that seeing the Woman in Black causes a kid in the nearby town to commit suicide.  Arthur keeps going to the house to finish his job, either because he doesn’t believe all the poppycock or because he could give two fucks about the kids of the town, but then a wrench is thrown into the works when it turns out HIS child is coming to the town to visit him.  Arthur must figure out what happened to the Woman in Black and fix it in order to save the life of the one kid in the village that matters: his own son.

The Woman in Black is a decently enjoyable movie with a disappointing and annoying ending, but we’ll get to that in the appropriate place.  The bulk of the movie – though thoroughly morose in parts – was a nice little offering of “Pop Up, Go Bwah” startles with a decent enough story.  The start is a little soft, sticking mainly with the creepy and melancholy and not even trying to scare you for at least a half hour, unless you count the three girls jumping out a window that starts the movie, but I mainly just found that funny.  Then we’re just in a town full of douche nozzles that would rather be twats to you than be regular human beings, but that’s okay because they all get punished for it.  After leaving the movie it occurred to me that the deaths of the numerous children in this movie could’ve been avoided if everyone in town would have just told Arthur why they thought he should leave instead of just trying to shove him onto the nearest carriage home.  If they told him that going to the house could result in the deaths of children, he could’ve either responded with “That’s brilliant” or “That’s rubbish”, but when the first kid died in his arms he might’ve had a little more to think about.  Once we get to the house, they drop most of the first startles on us subtly, having the Woman in Black appearing in the background and turning so that we knew she was there but Arthur was oblivious.  The next couple visits to the house amp it up exponentially, but if WiB’s goal was to kill children, why are you fucking with Radcliffe?  And she did … a lot.  She must’ve thought Radcliffe was getting a little chubby since his Harry Potter days, because she would constantly make noise upstairs until he ran up there, then she would be outside in the front yard, so he’d have to run down to check that out.  Wash, rince, and repeat.  About the second time it happened I’d just be thinking “Fuck off, I’m tired.  I’m staying right here and ignoring you.”  On one visit, Daily loans Arthur his dog to keep an eye out, and I don’t know why he didn’t take that dog everywhere.  It was a small and unimposing dog, but I’d appreciate having someone to watch my back.  The movie begins to devolve into a mystery, trying to figure out why WiB is so angry and how to fix it, but there really wasn’t much of a mystery to be solved.  You probably could guess by the first time she causes a kid to commit suicide, but WiB had a kid and something bad happened, so now she takes it out on the townspeople’s children.  The townspeople are also very quick to blame Arthur for causing the thing that none of those fucks told him about.

My biggest problem with this movie was the ending, so I’ll throw out one of these ::SPOILER ALERT::  At the very end of the movie, Arthur meets up with his son and the son’s nanny, being relatively assured that the problem was solved by digging WiB’s son out of the marsh and burying him next to her.  So assured is he that he totally ignores his son as he goes to buy a train ticket.  WiB pops back up and causes the kid to walk onto the tracks in front of an oncoming train, Arthur jumps down to save him, both die.  I have many problems with this ending.  First, when Arthur’s wife’s ghost shows up dressed in white the movie missed a golden opportunity to have a kung-fu battle between WiB and WiW, but if all writers had my creativity and good judgment then I wouldn’t be special anymore.  That just leaves a much bigger problem: Why are you being such a bitch, WiB?  Arthur had nothing whatsoever to do with the death of your son, and wasn’t even nearby when it happened.  On top of that, he actually risked his life to save the corpse of your son to reunite you with him.  How do you repay him?  Kill him and his son?  Fuck you.  In this situation lies yet another problem: after all the shit you just watched go down in this town, why the fuck would you take your eyes off your son until you were far enough away to feel safe?  You didn’t KNOW that your little idea had worked; you just assumed it did.  No giant green checkmark appeared on the wall after you put the dead kid in with his mother, so maybe it’s best to be weary for a bit longer.  The biggest problem with the ending is that it was easy and not very good.  It just seemed like a quick little wrap up, but taking special care to make sure that no one left the theater feeling good about themselves.  ::END SPOILER::

The performances in the movie were fine, but there was a common annoyance that all of them shared: everyone in this movie was always on the verge of tears.  It would’ve been nice to have at least one character come around to break the monotony of depression.  This will also be a very short paragraph because there’s really only one or two people in this movie for any prolonged period.  Radcliffe does a commendable job in this movie, and hopefully gives the man a chance to try out movies that aren’t reminiscent of Harry Potter more in the future.  The only comparison to Harry Potter I could draw from this movie (and I was definitely looking) was that the approaching Woman in Black sounded a little like Parseltongue.  Ciaran Hinds and Janet McTeer were good as well, or at least I’m assuming they are because they are the only other people I remember being in this movie.

I was altogether pleased with my viewing of The Woman in Black.  There was a good deal of suspense and thrills, an admittedly mediocre mystery, and a piss poor, irritating ending, but I enjoyed the experience altogether, in no small part because it looked really good and had some good (albeit emo) performances.  I saw this movie in theaters (and granted, on a matinee) but I don’t regret it.  If you can make your way into a movie theater for about $5, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in the experience.  The Woman in Black gets “I believe even the most rational mind can play tricks in the dark” out of “If we open the door to superstition, where does it lead?”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

The Bodyguard (1992)


Lord, Why Couldn’t You Have Taken Bobby?!

Unfortunately, my week-long trip to Arizona was not all smiles and sunshine.  Tragedy struck as the entire world realized that sometimes singers are just singers, and sometimes have drug problems, and also American soldiers die all the time without mention, but let’s talk about Whitney Houston instead.  I’m kidding … kind of.  But the lady singer did pass away while I was on vacation, causing many people to be completely devastated, causing my sister to request that I review today’s movie, and causing me to immediately think “Oh, it was probably drugs” and move on with my breakfast.  But Whitney Houston was still an amazing singer and I feel as though I should pay tribute to her because of her passing, both with the review of a movie she was in and a somewhat spiteful opening paragraph.  With that, I give you my review of The Bodyguard, written by Lawrence Kasdan, directed by Mick Jackson, and starring Kevin Costner, Whitney Houston, Tomas Arana, Michele Lamar Richards, Bill Cobbs, Gary Kemp, Mike Starr, DeVaughn Walter Nixon, Christopher Birt, Robert Wuhl, and Debbie Reynolds.

Because no one in movies is ever allowed to be the second or third best of the best, Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner) is a former Secret Service Agent who now works as the best of the best bodyguards for people.  He generally works exclusively for presidents and corporate VIPs, but is painstakingly talked into protecting a celebrity named Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston) by her manager Bill Devaney (Bill Cobbs).  Along with her recent nomination for an Oscar, Marron has acquired a new stalker, but not one of the cool ones that are quirky and funny, but generally harmless … like me …  She instead gets one of those stalkers that somehow justifies his desire to kill her with how much he loves her.  Frank comes in and starts fixing all of the holes in her personal security, much to the chagrin of her current bodyguard Tony (Mike Starr), her sister Nikki (Michele Lamar Richards), and her publicist Sy Spector (Gary Kemp).  Her driver Henry (Christopher Birt) and her son Fletcher (DeVaughn Walter Nixon) seem okay with it.  Frank’s efforts to protect Rachel don’t go well, due to the incompetence of her existing crew, and her own random bitchiness directed at him.  Will Frank have the ability, and the patience, to protect this singer?

My opinion of anything will not be swayed by a person’s death.  I didn’t find Kurt Cobain, Chris Farley, or Michael Jackson any more special after their untimely demises than I did before their death.  I say that so that the proper amount of weight will be applied to the following statement: the only reason anyone remembers this movie at all is because of Whitney Houston.  She single-handedly elevated this movie beyond being entirely forgettable to being slightly above mediocre.  The weirdest part of that statement is that I intended it to be a compliment.  The story of this movie does not really work that well.  It’s got a thriller aspect to it that never really works that well because of how predictable the killer, and motive, is very early in the film.  More memorably, this movie is a love story … that also never really works because it barely makes sense.  Rachel is such a dirty bitch to Frank for the greater majority of the movie that I can’t understand Frank having any desire to be around her beyond the fact that Houston was fucking gorgeous at the time.  So I understand why he smashes that, but then he sticks around afterwards, driving her off with some nonsense about how he can’t protect her if he cares about her, which turns her into an even bigger bitch.  In her defense, she could’ve just had residual anger at him for the part where he shows off how sharp his katana is by cutting her scarf in half.  But the entire premise of that situation doesn’t make any sense at all.  What the fuck do you mean you can’t protect her if you’re falling in love with her and sleeping with her from time to time?  As I understand it, boyfriends and husbands are able to combine those two things with a fair degree of frequency!  This is hardly the only thing in this movie that doesn’t make sense to me.  At one point, everyone looks at Frank like he’s a madman because he suggests that Rachel go to brunch on Tuesday instead of her usual day.  Am I missing something?  Is there a designated day for brunching and Tuesday is just a major faux pas?  Later, Rachel catches Frank watching one of her movies intently, but is pretty much only able to tell what he is watching in the guest house (from the main house) because he is apparently playing it at the maximum volume that a human can listen to without their ears bleeding.  Also, I know that they were trying to show a great many things to illustrate how shitty Rachel’s security would be without Frank, but how would security personnel keep their job when they not only allow Milli Vanilli lookalikes to rush up on stage to dance with Rachel, but also allow it to get out of hand and have her get pulled into the audience that then tries to do everything it can to rob/rape her.  They don’t get to the rape, but it would’ve just been a matter of time.  The final, and greatest, omission of logic must be bracketed by ::SPOILER ALERT::  The sister did it.  Yes, I know, it’s shocking once you randomly hear her tell Frank about how she and Rachel got their start, not even barely concealing her excruciating jealousy for her sister, that she would eventually be the cause of it.  I half expected the end of the movie to be Frank unmasking her as she yelled “I would’ve gotten away with it if it weren’t for you meddling Secret Service Agents!”  The predictability of it isn’t the only problem, it’s also fuckin’ insane!  I understand the concept of being jealous of your sibling.  Not through personal experience, because I’m so fucking awesome, but I understand how my sister feels living in my shadow.  But I also feel pretty sure that she wouldn’t try to kill me because of it.  I figured the sister in this movie might pay someone to scare the shit out of Rachel with death threats, but perhaps the person went off the rails and took it too far.  But for the sister to be so jealous (even though she’s living in luxury because of her sister) goes way too far.  ::END SPOILERS::

I think it is not going too far to assume that the only reason any of us remember this movie is because of the songs.  More specifically, the song.  Whitney Houston has mad pipes, son!  They display a couple of Whitney’s songs in this movie, but one of them specifically takes the cake.  They use “I Have Nothing”, “I’m Every Woman”, and “Run to You”, all of which are pretty damned good songs, but the one song no one should be able to forget is “I Will Always Love You”.  If you don’t get goosebumps listening to this song at the end of this movie – especially knowing now that she’s no longer with us – I believe you are an asshole.  What occurred to me about that song was that I never really knew this song wasn’t always Whitney’s.  It was apparently written by Dolly Parton, but I don’t know that version of the song.  In the movie, they played what sounded like a guy singing it in a country fashion, and this amused me because of how much Whitney blows that version out of the water at the end of the movie.  It’s such a heartfelt and touching song, which makes me think much less of the “Queen of the Night” song that immediately follows it in the credits.

The performances in this movie were mostly forgettable.  Whitney was, by far, the only person in this movie that impressed.  Not only was she an amazing singer, but she was a solid actress too.  She probably wasn’t playing a character that was all that far removed from herself, but she was very believable.  The dialogue she was delivering was a little stilted in parts, and the part where she asks Kevin Costner out on a date was awkwardly delivered and strangely justified, but I don’t blame either of those things on her.  The writing was just a little soft in parts of this movie.  Whitney, you are good enough.  Kevin Costner?  Eh, not so much.  No, he was fine.  He just didn’t impress.  It seemed like there was a very good chance that he actually had no real training with weaponry or Secret Service tactics.  Take, for instance, the time when he was telling Rachel’s sister to stay put downstairs as he investigated the noises upstairs.  I’m pretty sure lesson one of Guns 101 is “Don’t gesture at people’s faces with a loaded gun.”  The second rule is we don’t talk about … that girl we just accidentally shot in the face and dumped in the lake.  One could also make the argument that actual Secret Service agents don’t do action hero moves like diving through a window, somersaulting, and landing on your feet.  I think they just go through the door.  I think they also don’t really recommend being in the middle of a shootout, kneeling down in the snow, and closing your eyes, presumably to better use the Force to defeat his opponent.  Unfortunately, the Force was not strong with this one.  The only person in this movie that gave me anything to think about was the insignificant character that attempts to hit on Costner as Whitney tries to make Costner jealous by taking Tomas Arana into a back room, but that’s only because that girl looks a lot like a post-menopausal Gozer.

I’m pretty sure I’ve just put all the words down that could be written about this movie.  It’s a thoroughly mediocre movie with thoroughly mediocre performances, and would have been forgotten entirely by now if it weren’t for the efforts of the recently deceased.  By being quite possibly the best actor in this movie, and delivering immensely enjoyable songs, she made this a movie that will be (and probably already has been) remembered much longer than the movie would deserve otherwise.  Because it’s regarded as a classic, I imagine it will not be long until I endeavor to add this movie to my collection, assuming I can find it for somewhere within the five to ten dollar range.  It’s definitely something you can watch and not hate that much, but you can skip to the good parts by purchasing the soundtrack instead.  The Bodyguard gets “You people have no clue what real security is or what it takes to achieve it” out of “The atomic number of zinc is thirty.”  We’ll miss you, Whitney.

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Underworld: Awakening (2012)


My Heart is Not Cold.  It’s Broken

It’s taken us a long time to get to this point.  At the time of the writing of this review, it’s been almost a week since I saw today’s movie.  I had prepared for my vacation by readying a week of reviews for you, my audience.  While on my vacation, I saw two movies in the theaters.  Today’s movie, to me, required that I review three movies before this one could come out.  And now I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll remember this movie well enough to write a review about it.  Well, I took a great deal of notes during the movie, so we’ll find out.  And, now that we’re all caught up with the story of these movies, and all caught up with the story of me reviewing this movie, I present to you my review of Underworld: Awakening, written by Allison Burnett and Kevin Grevioux, directed by Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein, and (back in beautiful, skintight glory) Kate Beckinsale, as well as India Eisley, Stephen Rea, Theo James, Michael Ealy, Charles Dance, Kris Holden-Ried, and Sandrine Holt.

Six months after the events of Underworld: Evolution, humans have decided that they are not getting enough action in this vampire/werewolf war, so they start killing both of them.  Selene (Kate Beckinsale) decides that she does not enjoy being killed that much, so she takes her boyfriend/hybrid Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman?) to get the Hell out of Dodge.  The humans have other ideas.  They attack them at the docks and both are seemingly killed.  Instead of being dead, they wanted to make a movie longer than 5 minutes.  Something called “Subject 2” releases Selene from a cryo-prison, but does not stick around long enough to show her how to use the three seashells.  Following her natural curiosity, Selene eventually finds out that Subject 2 is a hybrid, much like Michael, and is also a little girl, much like Michael.  This little girl, Eve (India Eisley), is apparently, and inexplicably, the child of Selene and Michael.  Also, the scientists that were holding them want them back, so they have that to worry about too.

I kinda dug this movie.  The story is nothing to write home about, and probably wasn’t anything that really needed to be written down in the first place, but it was and it was fine.  It seemed like a lot of the story of the movie was decided on based strictly on the fact that Scott Speedman wasn’t going to be back.  This caused them to do as much as possible to keep him out of the story but possibly still alive so that he could still be a driving factor of the movie.  At first he’s alive, then he might be dead.  Then Selene is seeing visions through someone’s eyes and she’s all “Oh, he might be alive.”  Then she finds out it’s their daughter and she’s like “Oh, he might not be alive.”  Then there’s a facility where they were being held, and he might be alive again.  They decided to replace him with a little girl, and if I hadn’t just watched the first three movies, I wouldn’t have known the difference.  Parts of this movie seemed to just serve to waste time.  Somewhere in the middle, they’re in a vampire coven and the elder doesn’t like Selene and Eve being there.  He makes that clear from the start, but they still decide to randomly throw in a scene of the elder stopping Eve in the hallway and saying “I know what you are and I don’t want you here.”  Complete waste of our time as an audience.  I imagine that the real reason anyone actually watched this movie would be the action, and it’s pretty damned solid in that category.  The movie is pretty solid action for the first and the last thirds of the movie, wasting very little time on story.  The middle third is probably a little story heavy and action light, so you may get bored around that point.  But you should only go into these movies looking for some fun action anyway, so you get that, and should be happy with it.  There are some really good graphics to be found in this movie, but at least one glaring problem: the little hybrid girl.  It could’ve been done creepy, but it ended up just looking like a vaguely creepy goth girl.  She did the occasional badass thing, like ripping a werewolf in half, but the look never allowed me to be won over.  I got confused when the gigantic werewolf showed up, wondering if that was going to end up being a sumo wrestler or Shaquille O’Neal turned Lycan, but it was explained to me later.  Later in the movie, when Selene shoulder tackles a van onto it’s side, I wrote “Fuck yeah!” in my notes immediately.  It made me think about that story about a human mother being able to lift a bus to save her child, then I started wondering what that meant Selene would be able to do to save her child.  There’s the answer.  And if you also wondered what the inside of a throat looks like, you can have that question answered here as well.

The performances are much as you’ve come to see from the previous encounters with these characters.  Kate Beckinsale is still cold as ice as Selene, but has a few moments where you feel bad for her because she’s struggling to be able to connect with her daughter while simultaneously being a badass.  And she does indeed pull badass off, like few other women can.  Also, let’s face it, most of us guys watched these movies to see her running around in skintight leather.  Many worse things have been captured on film than Kate Beckinsale wearing skintight leather, filmed from behind.  Of course, they kind of shit on that in a couple of places by making her put on a trenchcoat.  Not cool, guys!  India Eisley did well enough, and it wasn’t her fault that the effects they used for her never really worked.  The rest of the cast never really did anything to grab my attention.  They didn’t do anything to bog down the movie, but never really elevated it either.  The biggest problem I had with the cast was Scott Speedman.  What’s this guy doing that he can’t come back for the movie?  Being some secondary part in a Rachel McAdams/Channing Tatum joint, that’s what.  Fuck that noise!  You could’ve at least been a main character in a movie that tends to make a good deal of money and has a strong cult following.  Instead you’re in The Vow, that didn’t even crack 30% on Rotten Tomatoes.  Unless you’re fucking Rachel McAdams, I am not down with that decision at all.

We have finally reached the end of the Underworld, at least for now.  Instead of finding Satan frozen in ice as Dante did, we find a solid action flick that is worth the price of admission.  The story won’t really shock you or stick with you in any meaningful way, but there is definitely some action worth seeing in this flick.  When it comes out, I’ll feel comfortable purchasing the tetralogy on BluRay.  Before that time comes, I’m comfortable saying you’ll find this to be a pretty fun time at the theaters.  Underworld: Awakening gets “This is a new war and it’s only beginning” out of “Consider us even.”

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