Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)


Leave the Limbs You’ve Lost.  They Belong to Me Now.

Fabio came through in a big way after work today.  I was trying to figure out what I should watch next, and he was more than happy to give me a recommendation.  And what’s more exciting about it is that he actually requested a movie that I like.  Technically two.  Today, we’re going into the first movie in the series.  I’ve liked the greater majority of the movies put out by this writer/director, and today’s movie is probably my favorite of his movies.  It takes a great writer/director and allows him to play in a world that both he and I are very passionate about, and today’s movie is the spawn of that passion.  At least of his passion.  Today’s review is the spawn of my passion.  With that, we get into my review of Kill Bill: Volume 1, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, and starring Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Lucy Lui, Vivica A. Fox, Daryl Hannah, Sonny Chiba, Julie Dreyfus, Chiaki Kuriyama, Michael Parks, Michael Bowen, Gordon Liu, and Michael Madsen.

A pregnant lady – we’ll call her “The Bride” (Uma Thurman) – winds up on the business end of a gun held by her former boss, Bill (David Carradine).  Something she’s done did not sit right by him, causing him and his posse – O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox), Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), and Budd (Michael Madsen) – to attempt to kill The Bride and everyone attending her wedding.  When the police arrives, Earl McGraw (Michael Parks) finds that The Bride survived her head wound.  Four years later, she wakes up from her coma and takes a Pussy Wagon off to get her revenge.  Her first objective is to travel to Okinawa to get a sword from legendary swordsmith Hattori Hanzo (Sonny Chiba).  With that in hand, she sets her sights on on O-Ren Ishii and Vernita Green.

Mother fuck this is a good ass movie.  There’s a very strong chance that I liked this movie more than your typical movie goer because of my own passions.  If you’ve ever been inside my house, you’ll know that I love swords.  I have a decent collection of swords hanging around my house, and I always feel like I want more.  Every time I watch this movie, I feel like I need to go out and get myself a replica Hanzo.  The story of this movie is a pretty typical revenge movie, but told in a Tarantino fashion.  The Bride’s motivations in this movie are never in question.  That girl deserves her revenge.  You never once doubt that she deserves to kill the people in the way of her goal.  I could’ve done without Tarantino’s signature style of showing the movie out of order, but it also didn’t hinder the movie at all.  There was just no point to it.  Did The Bride kill O-Ren first, or was it Vernita?  And more to the point: who cares?  At that point, why bother?  I also didn’t understand the idea of bleeping out The Bride’s name.  Does it spoil anything in the movie to know that her name is Beatrice Kiddo?  Hells to the no.  So why are you doing it?  Again, it takes nothing away from the movie, but it also adds nothing but the question in my mind.  I also don’t understand The Bride’s notebook.  Does she really have trouble remembering the names of the five people that killed her friends and family, caused the death of her unborn child, and attempted to kill her?  Or is it that she has trouble remember who she’s killed already?  Either way, if it’s something my memory is capable of, your memory should be as well.  On the other hand, she DID get shot in the head in the beginning of this movie, so maybe I should let it go.  This movie is also done in a grindhouse style, and if you read my previous review of Hobo With a Shotgun, you’ll probably assume that I hate this movie because of that.  Not the case.  This is grindhouse done right.  It doesn’t look like shit; it’s just stylized.  It looks great.  They just went a little over the top on the violence so that it wasn’t really realistic.  I don’t mind that.  I also appreciated the one long shot of The Bride walking to the bathroom in the club before the fight with the Crazy 88’s.  I appreciate those kinds of shots because of the potential difficulty in getting an entire scene shot correctly in one go.  The music is also great, as Tarantino is prone to do.  It’s the music you wouldn’t necessarily expect in such a scene, and certainly not music I would’ve ever liked on it’s own, but it helps the movie greatly.  It’s all really memorable too, like Elle Driver’s powerful whistling or “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” by Tomoyasu Hotei.  After seeing the movie, you could probably do a pretty good rendition of either of these two songs at any point in the future.

As much as I liked everything else about this movie, the fights are really what sold me on it.  And they really don’t waste too much time before they get into a good fight.  We barely get into the movie before The Bride and Vernita have having a knock down, drag out fight.  It’s not a particularly pretty or impressive fight, it’s just two chicks throwing down with a couple of knives and a butt-load of glass.  The next fight is an animated one, vaguely reminiscent of the old Akira cartoon.  It’s very violent and pretty awesome.  But the real treat of the movie is the 15 minute sword fight between The Bride and 88 soldiers in O-Ren Ishii’s army.  This is a masterpiece of a massacre, a symphony of slaying, a bolero of blood.  It’s stylized and gory, and never gets boring, even though it goes on for 15 minutes.  The fight with O-Ren afterwards pales in comparison, but only because the previous fight was so freaking good.  If you weren’t sold on The Bride as a badass before this scene, you should be afterwards.  There is one part in the movie (which I won’t say, but you’ll know it once you’ve watched the movie) where a character gets the top of his or her head cut off, and it was really fakey.  I don’t know if it was intentionally bad because it would fit the grindhouse style, but I feel like they should’ve, and could’ve, done it better.

I liked every performance I can currently think of in this movie.  Uma Thurman was a boss.  The greater majority of this movie she was a relentless, stone-cold killer.  She also had to drop some emotional performances, like when she realized she had lost her baby.  She had a couple of parts where she was just real and normal, like the part with Sonny Chiba and about three lines of her conversation with Vernita.  Speaking of Vernita, Vivica A. Fox didn’t really work for me in this movie.  I think it was mainly the way she talked shit to The Bride when they were fighting because it sounded less like something a professional killer would be saying and more like something two drunk girls would be yelling at each other while pulling each other’s hair outside of a club.  O-Ren Ishii was a good character though, and Lucy Liu did it well.  She was pretty friendly in parts, then completely sadistic, and in her battle with The Bride I actually started liking her because of how respectful she was being in battle.  I was also a fan of Sonny Chiba.  I know that Tarantino was a big fan of him because of his older movies, but I’d never seen any of those.  I gained my appreciation because of this movie alone.  He seemed like such a nice and friendly (except to his lazy assistant) sushi chef, and then became the legendary swordsmith, filled with regret for the lives that his weapons had taken.  I also really liked Chiaki Kuriyama as Go Go Yubari.  I believed that there was a very good chance that she was crazy.  She was also hot, so I liked that.  And she was good in the fight, so that was nice as well.

Kill Bill: Volume 1 is a fantastic movie.  Putting someone like Tarantino into a genre that he and I are both really passionate about works out to make an amazingly entertaining movie.  The story isn’t entirely impressive, but the way it’s told is.  Amazing action, fantastic style, and some really good performances sells this thing.  I thoroughly recommend this movie, for both watching and purchasing.  I own this thing on Blu-Ray.  I technically own it on Blu-Ray AND DVD right now.  It’s definitely visually appealing enough to go straight to Blu-Ray, and definitely a movie that’s great enough that you should own it.  We’ll find out tomorrow how I feel about Volume 2, but for now Kill Bill: Volume 1 gets “Wiggle your big toe” out of “Lucky for her, Boss Matsumoto was a pedophile.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Hobo With a Shotgun (2011)


Hobo Stops Begging.  Demands Change.

I got it in my head today that I wanted to watch a movie that was fun.  When I was trying to think through various review requests I had gotten, I thought back to something that I believe was requested by my friend Robert a long time ago.  He had mentioned this movie to me, but I completely forgot about it.  When I took a look at my Netflix streaming queue and saw this movie, I thought that I would have a hard time thinking of a movie that seemed like more fun than this movie because there was no way that it could take itself too seriously with a title like the one it had.  Let’s see how that decision went in my review of Hobo With a Shotgun, written by John Davies and Jason Eisener, directed by Jason Eisener, and starring Rutger Hauer, Molly Dunsworth, Brian Downey, Gregory Smith, Nick Bateman, and Jeremy Akerman.

A hobo (Rutger Hauer) hops on a train car and comes into a lawless town called Hope Town (though the word “Hope” has been covered up with the word “Scum” on the sign).  The town is under the control of a guy called The Drake (Brian Downey) and his equally crazy sons Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman).  The Hobo has no particular reason to have come to the town, and his only real driving force at first is his desire to purchase a lawnmower.  He befriends a hooker named Abby (Molly Dunsworth) after saving her from Slick with a sock full of quarters.  Doing so comes with some retaliation though, as Slick and Ivan carve the word “scum” into his chest after finding out that the police department is in The Drake’s pocket.  The Hobo performs some degrading acts (like chewing glass) for a local cameraman making Bumfights-esque videos to get some money.  He goes to buy his lawnmower, but sees the pawn shop getting robbed and decides to use his money on a shotgun instead.  With his unlimited supply of ammo, he decides he’s going to right the wrongs of this small town … sigh … one shell at a time …

Ever look at your life and think that you have way too much time in it?  Well, you’re in luck.  You’re already midway through reading one of the worst ways to get rid of an hour and a half of it.  This movie was nothing like the fun movie I was expecting it to be going in.  It was a pretty miserable watch, in point of fact.  I get the feeling that they just made a shitty movie and decided to try to rely on it’s camp and grindhouse style to make people forgive it.  No dice, movie!  They story is pretty basic vigilante/revenge fare, and it never really tries to surprise or break from expectations.  Best I can assume, the filmmakers figured out how to make some over the top violence and worked backwards from there until they had something close enough to call a story.  And that’s basically all this is: a demo of a bunch of ways to use fake giblets and red corn syrup.  If that’s all it takes to make a movie you’ll like, then please stop reading my reviews.  You’re getting finger paints all over your iPad.  The violence looks okay, but the rest of the movie’s grindhouse look makes it unpleasant to look at.  They also weren’t paying a great deal of attention to continuity or logic.  Some people would be inclined to give the movie a pass because it’s claiming to be a grindhouse movie or because it named itself Hobo With a Shotgun.  When a doctor in a hospital straddles his patient to pound on her chest to revive her, it may have been acceptable in shitty movies from the 70’s, or really bad episodes of ER, but today it’s just ridiculous.  And maybe people in the 70’s didn’t really pay attention to the fact that a girl taking a hacksaw to the clavicle wouldn’t be much helped by the neck bandage she was wearing later.  And no real explanation was offered for how the hooker with no discernible abilities beyond opening her legs was able to walk into a pawn shop and expertly solder and disassemble a lawnmower.  I was not alive for your grindhouse movies, so I carry no inherent love or forgiveness for them.  If done right (and often written by Quentin Tarantino) then it can still be good.  If it’s just an excuse to do something stupid and show lots of violence, but everything else is stupid, then I don’t give a shit.

The performances were pretty hit and miss in this movie.  Rutger Hauer’s performance was fine enough, but never really impressed.  It may not have really been his fault as I feel most of what annoyed me about him was the ineffectual one-liners he was delivering.  Molly Dunsworth did a pretty good job as the prostitute.  She was mostly screaming in terror and/or pain, but she pulled it off very well.  I was a bit surprised that she didn’t unleash them boobies, and she was pretty good looking so I was waiting for them.  It’s just disgraceful to the part to play a hooker but to have too much self-respect to whip your boobs out for a movie.  Brian Downey really hammed it up as The Drake.  I’m sure he’d say he intended to ham it up because villains did that in grindhouse movies, but I intend to say, “fuck your excuses.”  Prepare yourselves for that to happen.  Gregory Smith and Nick Bateman were also pretty hammy and typically just annoying.

If you’re more forgiving of movies that use “grindhouse” as an excuse than I am, you may like this movie.  I can’t imagine it, but it seems possible.  The story’s mediocre and mainly just an excuse for violence that’s so ugly the camera they used was probably cranked by hand.  The title’s the only really interesting thing about this movie, and you’ve already gained all the enjoyment out of that.  That being the case, I don’t recommend this movie.  You could stream it on Netflix, or you could stream good movies that actually try to make a good movie.  Hobo With a Shotgun gets “I’m gonna sleep in your bloody carcasses tonight” out of “Fuck your excuses!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Raging Phoenix (2009)


The Key Ingredient of Drinking is Alcohol

The inspiration for watching today’s movie came from seeing the same actress last year in a film called Chocolate.  It was about a young autistic girl who develops martial arts abilities by watching it on TV.  The young star of the movie impressed me enough to put another one of her movies in my Netflix queue, and promptly forget that it was there.  But Netflix didn’t forget.  It worked it’s way up my list and was shipped to my house, much to my chagrin, since it was available for streaming and I wasted a disc delivery on something I could’ve already watched.  I’ve forgotten nearly everything about Chocolate by this point, but I still decided to watch and review Raging Phoenix, written by Sompope Vejchapipat, directed by Rashane Limtrakul, and starring Yanin “Jeeja” Vismistananda, Kazu Tang, Nui Saendaeng, Sompong Lertwimonkaisom, Boonprasayrit Salangam, and Roongtawan Jindasing.  Not a single one of these people was named with the fact that I would have to type their names out in mind.  Very selfish.

Deu (Jeeja Yanin) is a young girl without a lot of direction in her life.  In her loneliness, she gets super drunk and almost abducted by the Jaguar Gang, a group that abducts young women to steal their tears as if they were Gypsies.  She’s rescued by Sanim (Kazu Tang) and (this is really their names) Pig Shit (Nui Saendaeng) and Dog Shit (Sompong Lertwimonkaisom).  Fuck these names.  Seriously.  Anyways, Deu gets them to train her in a strange, drunken boxing-esque style, and she uses it to help them free other abducted women, with the ultimate goal being to free Sanim’s wife, Pai, who was abducted three years prior.  Eventually, they let Deu know that they were after her (and other such girls) because they have a certain smell that means their tears can be used to make a special perfume.  She also learns that the drunken fighting style is not fueled by alcohol, but emotional pain.  So you know the movies gonna get depressing.

This was a decent enough martial arts movie, but didn’t really strike me in any particular way.  The story was decent, but not really what I go into a martial arts movie for.  Generally speaking, I don’t even mind if a martial arts movie forgets to have a story.  This movie has a whole big story about love and it really gets to be kind of miserable by the end.  I suppose it’s not that uncommon for a martial arts movie to be a bit of a downer, but I’ve always preferred martial arts movies to be a little more fun.  That’s why I’ve always been such a big fan of Jackie Chan.  His movies are usually pretty fun to go along with their good action.  Speaking of which, I was curious (when the idea of alcohol and drunken boxing came up in this movie) to see if the movie was going to turn out to be a lot like the Legend of Drunken Master, one of my favorite Jackie Chan movies, but they actually plain out forgot about the alcohol part not that long after it was introduced, leaving the true source of power to be emotional pain.  I took that as a cue that the movie would be a downer, and I was right.  That was part of the problem I had with some of the Tony Jaa movies.  Shit just keeps getting worse and worse and, at the end, nothing’s that much better.  The protagonist has just beaten the crap out of everyone that they can.  And that’s what happened here as well.  Even having three of your main characters have names that were Something Shit did not keep it from being a downer.  Neither did people saying things like, “The key ingredient of booze is alcohol.”  Also, the title of the movie never really has anything to do with the movie itself.  The fighting is more what draws me to a martial arts movie, though, and this movie’s fighting was fine, but not really a style that I’m particularly interested in.  From what I could figure out, it was the combination of some different forms of martial arts (mainly Muay Thai) with B-Boy dancing styles.  It ends up looking a lot like Capoeira.  It’s pretty visually interesting, I suppose, but I felt like it was a little too much dance and not enough face punching.  One of the first fight scenes is against some guys with these springy shoe things with blades on them, and those were pretty ridiculous, but at least it was interesting to watch.  They also had a big fight over a series of three rope bridges that was pretty interesting and innovative.  The movie itself was pretty visually interesting as well, at least until the end.  Most of the scenes were very colorful, and the bulk of the scenes took place on a beach with a bunch of colorful alcohol bottles laying around.  Near the end, most of the color was removed, adding to the already somber story.

Jeeja actually surprised me in this movie.  Though I’m not fond of how much of a downer the movie is, Jeeja pulled off the emotional parts as well as she did the physical parts.  In Chocolate, she really didn’t have to emote that much, but she was crying for about 90% of this movie.  She’s also a very pretty girl who’s totally able to whoop some ass in movies, and that’s a pretty new thing for most of the martial arts movies I’ve seen.  She’s like Tony Jaa, but I’d totally have sex with her.  Kazu Tang was also pretty good in the movie, at both the acting bits and the action bits.  Nui Saendaeng as Pig Shit was introduced in a drunken form, and he really worked on my nerves.  Thankfully, they forgot about the alcohol subplot and he was less annoying afterwards.  Roongtawan Jindasing was the main bad lady and she did a good enough job, but was pretty clearly doubled out for some of the fight scenes.

Raging Phoenix was a decent enough martial arts movie, but was a little too much moroseness and not enough fighting.  The story was fine and the movie was visually interesting, but it didn’t make any real impact on me.  I think Jeeja has a lot of potential, though, and I look forward to seeing what she does in the future.  If this movie is still streaming on Netflix, and you’re a fan of martial arts movies, this is a decent enough watch, but I’d still recommend Legend of Drunken Master a lot more.  Raging Phoenix gets “It’s a Tony Jaa I can have sex with” out of “Pig Shit.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Judge Dredd (1995)


I AM THE LAW!

Strangely enough, I had never gotten around to seeing today’s movie, even though it’s one of the classic representations of a big dumb action movie.  It wasn’t recommended or anything, but I know it would’ve been as soon as one of my readers thought of the movie again.  I decided to jump the gun.  When I was reminded of the movie by Kevin Smith and Ralph Garmin on Hollywood Babble-On, I decided that I should watch it post haste.  This is a movie based on a comic book that I’ve never read, so I’m going into this movie clean.  So here comes my review of Judge Dredd, based on a comic book created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, written for the screen by William Wisher and Steven E. de Souza, directed by Danny Cannon, and starring Sylvester Stallone, Armand Assante, Jurgen Prochnow, Max von Sydow, Diane Lane, Rob Schneider, Joan Chen, Balthazar Getty, Joanna Miles, Mitch Ryan, and James Earl Jones.

As in most things from the future, Earth has gone uber-shitty and humanity is living in walled off Mega-Cities.  Justice is maintained by an elite group of police officers/judges/jury/executioners known as Judges.  One of the best of these Judges is Judge Joseph Dredd (Sylvester Stallone).  He shows up to end a riot and save Judge Hershey (Diane Lane).  He also ends up arresting the recently released hacker, Herman Ferguson (Rob Schneider), even though he wasn’t actually involved in the riot.  Rico (Armand Assante), a former Judge that went nuts, escapes from prison, dons a counterfeit of Dredd’s Judge uniform, and guns down a news reporter (Mitch Ryan).  This murder gets pinned on Dredd, but his mentor Chief Judge Fargo (Max von Sydow) intervenes by retiring in order to grant Dredd leniency.  Instead of death, Dredd gets life in prison.  On his way to jail, he reconnects with Leo Getz … I mean Fergee, in order to keep the audience nice and annoyed, then their ship gets shot down and Dredd and Fergee get captured by a group of cannibals, the Angel Gang.  Meanwhile, Judge Griffin (Jurgen Prochnow) works with Rico to create a lot of chaos and get the other council members to activate the Janus project to genetically engineer the perfect Judge, which in this case will be Rico because of his interruption.  I bet Judge Dredd is going to have something to say about that.  And it’ll probably be dumb.

For a big dumb action movie, this movie was acceptable.  Of course, “acceptable” for a big dumb action movie is pretty shitty for a movie in general.  The idea and the story of this movie are good enough, but the greater majority of the dialogue sucked.  I can’t really knock the movie for having a pretty typical dystopian future setting because (though it’s played out) I’ve liked some movies that use a similar setting, so I have to be fair to the ones that aren’t that great in those settings.  I also like the idea of them making the justice system more efficient by making their cops the judge, jury, and executioners.  The rest of the story was okay as well, with the whole cloning thing and the betrayal in the government thing.  This stuff is probably all taken from the comic books, so I give them no credit.  The dialogue is something that I imagine they wrote, and it mostly sucked.  90% of the things people said was, “I AM (insert any word here).”  “I AM THE LAW!” was the most popular, and they said it a lot.  Of course, there were many other things that were really stupid.  Take, for instance, when Dredd turns his gun to grenade mode (without the barrel changing size at all, somehow), and shoots a door five feet away.  One of the accompanying Judges applauds him with, “Nice Shot!”  Apparently, this other Judge is such a bad shot that hitting the broad side of a barn from five feet away is spectacular.  It’s okay, he gets killed shortly after this.  I felt better.  Later, when Dredd is fighting a robotically enhanced member of the Angel gang, and very angry because he just stabbed his mentor, he ignores the guns laying around the room, ignores the gun he was just holding, and chooses to fight the guy with a stick.  Of course, it’s unfair to assume Sly would do something intelligent.  Later still, Judge Griffin shoots himself in the arm with a pistol to make it look like Dredd attacked him, even though Dredd was carrying a shotgun and no one seemed to care anyway.  So he just shot himself in the arm for no reason whatsoever.  And near the end of the movie, Rico activates the clones to attack Dredd and Hershey.  The clones pop out of their containers to frighten people a time or two, and then are completely forgotten.  No one ever dealt with the clones!  They completely forgot to tie up that part of the story!  They didn’t even have Fergee and Hershey run in and say, “Oh man, it sure was difficult killing all of those clones while you fought Rico, but we did it.  You should’ve been there!”  The movie does look good though.  The graphics were way better than I would’ve expected from the movie.  I especially liked Rico’s robot body guard.  It had a nice look, but it never moved in a smooth manner.

The greater majority of the performances in this movie did not impress, but the other ones were plain awful.  So they have that going for them.  Sylvester Stallone was … in the movie.  Thankfully for him, the character he was playing was stiff and emotionless, so he didn’t have to try and fail at acting.  He was mostly there to deliver horrible lines and throw punches at people.  That mostly worked out for him, but at one point, when he was fighting Armand Assante, he threw a punch that was so ridiculously high so that Armand could duck under it that I thought he would dislocate his shoulder.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a movie with Armand Assante in it before, so I can’t compare the uber-hammed up performance he gave here to any of his other ones.  And oh boy was it over the top.  It couldn’t even see the top from where it was.  Even the music was confused by him.  When we first saw his character in prison, the music swelled up as he turned around as if we were supposed to have any idea who this guy was.  It’s like, “BUM bum BUM!  This is how you should feel now!  We’ll explain later!”  Diane Lane was pretty good in the movie, and attractive as always, but didn’t do that much.  She did get in a fight with another really attractive girl, Joan Chen (I wouldn’t have thought I’d have reviewed two things with her in them), and it made me wonder why a trained Judge was having such trouble fighting some random Asian lady.  Rob Schneider was the Leo Getz of this movie, and by that I mean that he was a failed attempt at comic relief that wouldn’t shut up, but still had to be around for almost every scene.

Judge Dredd isn’t a great movie, but it’s a fair enough distraction for two hours.  The premise is good, the story is fine, the writing is awful, and the performances are what you’d expect.  At least the thing looked pretty good.  Because it can’t be streamed from Netflix, I cannot, in good conscience, recommend you go through any trouble to find this movie.  If it was on Netflix streaming, and you had nothing better to do, I would recommend it as background noise, or something to make fun of, if you only had to click a few times to get to it.  But as it is, no real reason to watch this thing.  Judge Dredd gets “It’s better than prison” out of “Emotions … there ought to be a law against them.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Serenity (2005)


At Last, We Can Retire and Give Up This Life of Crime

Because Sam requested it, I busted my BluRay of today’s movie out.  I’m always more than happy to do it because I really liked this movie, and because Alan Tudyk being in it gives me another reason to plug Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.  Because I don’t watch very much television, I had no idea about this movie or the show it was based on until a friend of mine named Liz beat me over the head with how awesome it was.  I’m not sure if I saw the TV show or the movie first, but once I had seen one, I went out to buy the other.  So now I bring to you my review of Serenity, from the TV show Firefly, written and directed by Joss Whedon, and starring Nathan Fillion, Summer Glau, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Maher, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite, Morena Baccarin, Ron Glass, and David Krumholtz.

A young girl with psychic abilities named River Tam (Summer Glau) is trapped in a facility, being physically and mentally conditioned by Alliance scientists to be a war machine until she is rescued by her brother, Simon (Sean Maher).  An assassin with no name (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is sent to find her.  Simon and River have joined the crew of a Firefly-class transport vessel called Serenity with Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), his second-in-command Zoe Washburne (Gina Torres), her husband, pilot Hoban “Wash” Washburne (Alan Tudyk), mercenary Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin), and mechanic Kaywinnit “Kaylee” Frye (Jewel Staite).  After a bank robbery goes sour, Simon decides that Mal’s ship is too dangerous for River to stay on.  When they go to leave at the next port, River watches a very Japanese-looking commercial and starts beating the living shit out of everyone in the bar, until Simon shows up and uses a “safe word” to make her fall asleep.  I have the exact same reaction when watching those commercials.  They contact a reclusive hacker called Mr. Universe (David Krumholtz) who tells the crew that there was a hidden message in the broadcast, designed to make River go nuts and (apparently) say “Miranda”.  The crew of the Serenity must unravel the mystery of River and Miranda, while avoiding detection from the Alliance and the Operative.

I really like this movie.  Knowing that I was a big fan of the movie, I went in looking for things to make fun of, but kind of came up empty handed.  The closest thing to a complaint I had about this movie was that the Serenity (though well animated) looked a little goofy in it’s design for my taste.  Looked like a bird of some sort.  After that, pretty much everything about this movie works for me.  The story of the movie starts off interesting, but doesn’t really hit it’s stride until the real story is revealed towards the end.  At first it’s just about the Tams escaping from the Alliance and having some issues with the leadership on the vessel.  It slowly turns into a bit of a mystery about why River has such an adverse reaction to Japanese commercials.  Near the end, there’s a much bigger problem with a better message and a bigger cause.  I was already on board, but it got even better at that point.  I think what really sells the movie in the early part is how good the dialogue is and how great the characters are.  It’s easy to assume that they got a really good handle on who these characters were throughout the TV show and knew that, for the most part, the people that were already familiar with the characters from the show would be watching the movie, so they didn’t really waste a lot of time spelling out who the characters were for the movie.  It just put them in the situations and let us figure it out ourselves, without thinking the audience was too dumb to catch on without backstory.  And the dialogue is pretty crisp and smart throughout, while more often than not ranging from funny to downright hilarious.  They put in action evenly throughout the movie so that people with attention problems would be brought back in with regularity.  A couple of chases, a couple of brawls, a couple of spaceship battles, just so no one will get bored.  And the fights were pretty well choreographed as well.  River fighting was pretty elegant and always seemed to be a step ahead in the fight, as a good psychic should be.  Mal, on the other hand, did not make fighting looked pretty, but usually found a satisfying way to win.  The Reaver/Alliance spaceship battle was pretty epic and spectacular as well.  I don’t normally notice the music, but I really liked the music here.  Much as the settings and the language in the movie, the music was a mash up of Oriental and Western sounding music, performed by something that at least sounded like an orchestra, and really set the mood well.

The characters and the performances was what really sells this movie to me.  They’re all fantastic with no complaints beyond the fact that I can’t see more of them.  Nathan Fillion played Mal in equal parts charming and damaged.  He was mostly funny, goofy, and entertaining, but if you got on his wrong side, he was easily able to intimidate.  He also tried very hard to hide his morality, but when a cause big enough fell into his lap, he was quick to take it seriously.  Summer Glau was also very entertaining as River Tam.  She was generally cute, quirky, and funny, but also had a pretty big secret that you could see sitting just behind the facade.  I understand the reason for this, but she did not sell me on her first fight in the movie.  It was very elegant and smooth, but her mannerisms seemed more like a dancer that was more concerned about accidentally hitting someone.  From what I gather from her Wikipedia page, that’s because she was a dancer that was probably pretty concerned about hitting someone.  But her second big fight (near the end of the movie) was unequivocally awesome.  Chiwetel Ejiofor was a great character as well.  He was calculating and cold as ice, but had the badasslerly to back it up.  I never really liked Sean Maher as Simon Tam, but only because he seemed indifferent to the advances of the love of my life, Jewel Staite.  I fell in love with Jewel Staite way back in the day when I used to watch her as Catalina on Space Cases (a show I’m sure I’m the only one that remembers).  I remember being fascinated with her at the time and then, when I first saw Serenity, I instantly recognized her and remembered her name, even though I remember literally nothing else about my life.  And it was a good thing I found her in this movie too.  Even though I was a year younger than her while watching Space Cases, if I continued to be in love with her as Catalina when I was in my 20’s it would begin to get disturbing … about 10 years ago.  Now I can be in love with her as Kaylee, and who wouldn’t be.  She was adorable and hilarious, saying more than one thing you wouldn’t have expected to come out of her mouth to great comedic effect.  This movie made me a fan of everyone in the cast.  I love Alan Tudyk (go watch Tucker and Dale vs. Evil), and he was very funny in the parts he was in, but I felt like he could’ve been used a little more for my liking.  Movies are made specifically for my enjoyment, right?  Well he also had a part in the movie that I didn’t like because it bummed me out, but movies can’t all end with everything going right for our heroes.

I love this movie and that’s why this review probably isn’t all that interesting.  I cannot mock great movies!  What the hell am I supposed to say?  Oh, your dialogue is so funny, your characters are too good, to Hell with your beautiful actresses!  And why won’t Jewel Staite return my phone calls?!  If you want entertainment (and you aren’t finding it from my reviews of love to good movies), then maybe you should just go and get entertainment from the movie itself.  I guarantee it won’t be long until I’m relentlessly mocking another movie.  But I just can’t do it to Serenity.  And with that, Serenity gets “It’s love, in point of fact.  Something a good deal more dangerous” out of “Goin’ on a year now I ain’t had nothin’ twixt my nethers weren’t run on batteries!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Hulk (2003)


We’re Going to Have to Watch That Temper of Yours

I’m pretty sure that this movie ties up my series preparing for the release of the Avengers movie, but I did not endeavor to save the best for last.  Today’s movie was despised by nerds, but you didn’t come here for the opinion of nerds.  You came for the opinion of only one nerd.  I had not watched today’s movie since when I had seen it in theaters, and I really only remember that I liked the second movie much better, and that we did not see the titular character until about 50 minutes into the movie.  That is not a good sign.  Let’s see what I thought of Hulk, written by Michael France, John Turman, and James Schamus, directed by Ang Lee, and starring Eric Bana, Nick Nolte, Sam Elliott, Jennifer Connelly, Josh Lucas, Cara Buono, Celia Weston, Johnny Kastl, Lou Ferrigno, and Stan Lee.

David Banner is a geneticist and a douche bag.  He’s a geneticist because he’s doing experiments to take special qualities from animals and mix it with human DNA.  He’s a douche bag because he tries it on himself and passes it down to his son.  When his boss, Lieutenant Colonel “Thunderbolt” Ross, finds out, he shuts down his research.  David overreacts a little bit and sets off a giant explosion in their gamma reactor, drives home, and stabs his wife in the chest.  He’s put in the looney bin and his son, Bruce (Eric Bana), is raised by foster mom (Celia Weston) until he becomes a successful bionuclear researcher.  Things get a little crazy for him at the facility when the military-industrial complex representative, Major Talbot (Josh Lucas), starts wanting to get their research, and the janitor turns out to be a much more grizzled version of his father (Nick Nolte).  It’s also not that easy working with his ex-girlfriend, Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly), daughter of now-General “Thunderbolt” Ross (Sam Elliott).  And things just get worse when he steps in front of a gamma blast to save his friend after a lab accident and he starts turning into a big, green thing when angry.

There were some things about this movie that worked, but the greater majority of them did not.  One big issue is not so much the story, but certainly the writing.  The biggest issue I had with the movie when I saw it in theaters carried over to irritate me again.  The Hulk is not shown until 42 minutes into the movie.  This movie is about him, or at least that’s what I was lead to believe by the title.  It’s supposed to be about a big, green thing smashing things that made it angry.  Instead, we watched a movie mainly about David Banner and the effects he had on other people.  But don’t worry.  If you came for lots of smashing you’ll get lots and lots of … people doing scientific experiments.  When the Hulk finally shows up, he just makes a mess of a laboratory and leaves.  Then you have another 20 minutes until you see him again.  This time, he actually decides to smash something.  That something is three ridiculous looking mutated dogs.  There are many things I want to see when the Hulk smashes giant mutant dogs.  I would be happy with blood, guts, bile, and any number of bodily fluids.  I would even be content with you just doing it off camera to keep the movie PG.  What I’m not too keen on is them just exploding into green pixie dust.  It was kind of cool that he broke one of the dog’s jaws by flexing until it dislocated.  You’re not really going to get any kind of real satisfaction from the Hulk until he starts fighting the military.  That bit of action was fairly well done, but also about two hours in.  I’m not happy that the Hulk is somehow concerned about making sure that a jet doesn’t crash into the Golden Gate Bridge after it had just been attacking him.  I understand that parts of Banner are still in the Hulk, but the Hulk should be thinking, “Fuck that guy.”  I guess the Hulk wouldn’t say that … just like he wouldn’t say, “Puny human,” because the Hulk himself is (in a way) human.  The Hulk says, “Puny Banner,” when he comes out of a mirror in a dream sequence and chokes Banner.  And then we get to the ending, causing me to throw up some ::SPOILER ALERT::  David Banner has done an experiment on himself to give himself powers, making him able to absorb energies.  He turns into a giant electrical thing to fight the Hulk and try to absorb his energy.  The Hulk responds with a line that they stole from Jiz Soaked Jezebels 14 and says, “Take it all!”  He then somehow releases a bunch of energy jiz into him which inexplicably makes a giant bubble of water out of the lake they were in that then explodes into green pixie dust.  Fuck that ending in the butt.  ::END SPOILERS::

The biggest problem with this movie is that it was WAY over-directed and poorly planned.  Ang Lee got obsessed with the artist direction of this movie, making it look like a comic book with interesting transitions, multiple panels on screen, and various camera angles happening at the same time.  It was a very interesting art project, but a super boring movie that needed to remember that it was about the Hulk.  It all has a good look to it, but at a certain point I started thinking, “Would you just knock it off and play the movie already?”  The BluRay of the movie did make it extra beautiful to look at.  In a lot of the opening, they decide that the audience needs some random close-ups of algae and trees.  It looked so good in HD that it made me wish I was just watching one of those Planet Earth movies instead of someone inexplicably putting these things into a Hulk movie.  We know that this character came from comic books, but we’re not reading the comic books.  We’re watching a movie, so just make a movie and not a hybrid of the two.  The CG characters (like the Hulk and the dogs) look good sometimes, but also occasionally don’t appear to be part of the scene.  And when Talbot’s character has something explode behind him and Ang decided he would do a freeze frame of him a-la Charlie’s Angels, that was just stupid.

Sometimes, when I see the cast they’ve attained for a comic book movie, I get really disappointed.  Other times – as with this movie, the X-Men movies, and the new Batman movies – I get excited that they actually got some good actors to elevate this comic book movie past it’s station.  I was about half right with this movie.  I was excited that Eric Bana was in the movie because his last name is so close to the character he’s portraying, which means he’ll definitely do a good job at it.  He did a good job throughout the movie but one scene was just bad.  It was when he had just beat up the green pixie-dogs, turns back into Banner, has a little anger freak out, and starts choking Betty for no reason whatsoever.  Jennifer Connelly was great and very real all the way through, but I can’t really look at her anymore without seeing some old guy saying, “Ass to ass.”  Nick Nolte did a decent enough job … until the end of the movie when he and Bruce are having a conversation and Nolte does a little mock pout thing.  That was funny, but it probably wasn’t the place for funny.  Josh Lucas played a decent enough asshole, and Sam Elliott was pretty good as General Ross.

This movie had a chance but, let’s be honest, Ang Lee fucked this thing up.  The story could have been alright with a little more smashing and the performances were mostly good.  The real problem with this movie is that Ang Lee was asked to do it right when he was finishing film school so he wanted to be able to submit this movie.  Pretty, but pretentious.  And just boring.  You don’t need to see this movie.  Watch the Incredible Hulk instead.  It wasn’t nearly as pretty, but my Hulk movies involve mostly smashing.  So fuck this movie, but make love to the Incredible Hulk.  Hulk gets “Oh, some more repressed memories” out of “Bad science, maybe.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

John Carter (2012)


You Are Ugly, But You Are Beautiful!

The inspiration behind seeing today’s movie is going to be hard to explain, mainly because I had no inspiration to see this movie whatsoever.  I saw the trailers and thought, “Yup.  Looks like a movie.”  And that was it.  I saw a couple of people on Facebook talk about how great the movie was, but I would not be swayed.  One friend asked me if I wanted to see it, and I said no, but probably would’ve gone anyway had I not been at work.  When my roommate got a free ticket and offered to pay half of mine, I decided the universe was telling me to see this movie already.  Let’s see how it did in my review of John Carter, based on a novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, written by Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, and Michael Chabon, directed by Andrew Stanton, and starring Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Dominic West, Mark Strong, Willem Dafoe, Ciaran Hinds, Samantha Morton, Thomas Haden Church, James Purefoy, Bryan Cranston, and Daryl Sabara.

John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) of Virginia has died suddenly.  When he fell ill, he had sent for his nephew, Edgar “Ned” Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara), but he arrives postmortem, but is given John’s diary by his butler and told that only he was supposed to read it.  His first thought is to release this book, slap his name on it, make millions, and then get a movie made about it with the guy that ruined Gambit in the Wolverine movie, but then his second thought is to read it.  It details a story about John looking for gold and finding a cave with a pasty bald dude who tries to kill him.  John shoots the pasty dude and gets transported away by the dude’s medallion.  He wakes up in a desert slightly different than the one he was already in and finds himself able to jump really high.  He meets a giant, green, four-armed creature called a Thark who is named Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe).  Eventually, a couple of airships commanded by by the ruthless Sab Than (Dominic West) pursues a ship carrying Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) into Thark territory.  Sab Than has been given a powerful weapon called the “Ninth Ray” by the pasty bald Therns and is pursuing Dejah because she is trying to escape marrying him to save her people.  John uses his new powers to save her and bring down the majority of the ships, though Sab is able to escape.  Through Dejah, he finds that he was transported to Mars.  John resolves to get back to Earth, Dejah resolves to get John to defeat Sab, and Tars Tarkas’ secret daughter Sola (Samantha Morton) resolves to follow them around and be relatively ineffectual.

This movie perplexed me.  I didn’t find the movie hard to follow as the story is not really that complicated.  What perplexes me about the movie is that it’s inexplicably boring.  But, because I’m writing a review, I must find a way to “explic” it.  It’s strange to me because it has all the components of a really cool, really interesting, and/or really fun action movie, but it never comes to fruition.  The story is an interesting enough concept.  I like the idea of a human being transported to Mars where he turns into a superhero because he comes from a place with higher gravity, allowing him to jump higher and hit harder on Mars.  I don’t really get behind the idea that he’d EVER want to return to Earth, though.  His family died long before the movie started, so he didn’t need to get back because of that.  He did have a cave full of gold waiting for him, but you know what a cave full of gold can’t buy you?  Fucking super powers!  And you want a reason to hang out with your super powers on Mars?  How about the sexy as Martian woman you just met?  Sure, their romance came out of nowhere, but who cares?  She’s hot!  Their relationship never really worked for me.  He saves her life with his superpowers, but all she’s concerned about is getting him to save her city.  A while later, he helps her up off the ground and you see that they’re crushing on each other now.  That’s how he wins her?  Helping her stand up?  Neither one of them had given the other any reason to like the other before that, so it must’ve been his ability to help her off the ground.  She was constantly trying to trick him into helping her people, and he was completely unconcerned with helping her people.  No reason whatsoever.  Though this story had elements that should entertain me, it never really did.  One of the few parts that gained some interest was the Thark tradition of letting loose some babies and having mother pounce on them and fight over them to gain motherhood.  So, with a story that never catches your attention, you’d have to rely on the action to do it.  There was lots of action, but none of it interested me, and I’m still a little curious about why.  There was a guy or two with superpowers, some sword fighting, some giant creatures, but it all eventually devolved into people randomly swinging swords and blue blood flying around a little.  That’s about it.  It could have been the look, I suppose.  Almost every setting was identical, or not far removed.  It goes from desert, to desert, to desert with some water, back to desert, then ends up in a city … surrounded by desert.  I’m sure that’s what Mars looks like, but Mars looks boring.  The CG all worked really well though.  The creatures looked like they were talking, animated like real creatures, they had personalities, weight, and lighting to all look really good.

I had been trying to figure out where I knew Taylor Kitsch from every time I saw the trailers.  I wasn’t able to figure it out until the actual movie started, but then it worked against him because Gambit was my favorite X-Man and he ruined him.  He did fine enough in this movie, but I didn’t like the character because he looked the superpowered gift horse right in the mouth.  He did introduce himself as, “Carter.  John Carter,” and I’m pretty sure no one’s ever actually introduced themselves that way.  I was a big fan of Lynn Collins from her work in her own hotness from the moment I saw her.  I didn’t pay much attention to her performance though.  I did get supremely irritated by her character though.  It takes her the greater majority of the movie to stop being a selfish bitch.  She’s basically told that Sab will kill her people unless she marries him … so she runs off.  That means he’ll kill your people!  You care enough to try to get a guy with no interest in your people to help out, but you could’ve just married the guy in the beginning and not been a selfish bitch.  She figures it out about two hours later and does it, but now John loves her and stops it from happening.  Everyone else in the movie was either forgettable, a voice of a CG creature, or both.  Most of the characters in the movie made so little impact on me that I genuinely found myself much more interested in what was happening with the giant, alien, dog-like creature called Woola.  I loved that little guy, mostly (I’m sure) because he reminded me a lot of my own dog, Jabba.  He had an oversized head, big sloppy tongue, cheerful demeanor, and tendency to lie down and go to sleep at random.  The similarities were damaged some by the fact that the dog could run super fast instead of running for a few seconds, getting bored, and going to sleep. But so disinteresting were the human characters that, in a battle between a large army of aliens and John Carter, with Woola helping out a little, I found myself ignoring what John was doing and looking to make sure Woola was okay.

John Carter is a movie that seemed to have everything, but actually offered next to nothing.  The story was in interesting idea that didn’t deliver.  The action had all the ingredients but turned out bland.  The performances were fine, but all of their characters were overshadowed by a dog.  The CG was great, but the settings all looked the same and were visually boring.  Like I said, this movie is inexplicably boring, but it’s been explicked to the best of my ability.  I would say this movie is a waste of two hours plus, so I would recommend you steer clear of coughing up theater prices for it.  When it comes to RedBox, that might be the time to give it a look, but you’ll also do well to avoid it there as well.  John Carter gets “To those who seek the solace of eternity” out of “When I saw you, I believed it was a sign … that something new can come into this world.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Godzilla (1998)


I’m Gonna Be in Godzilla One Day!!

Finally got a fresh crop of review requests, and getting started with one that should be pretty easy to make fun of.  A former supervisor of mine named Shawn threw his vote into the hat on Facebook to recommend today’s movie, and it was right about time I mocked this movie relentlessly.  It’s a movie that you might call a “re-imagining”, but only if you weren’t too busy calling it a piece of shit.  And most people are.  I remember seeing this movie, but I don’t really remember much about it beyond that.  I apparently liked it (or liked making fun of it) well enough to purchase it on DVD, so there’s that.  But now I have watched it again, so let’s find out what I really think of the 1998 crapssic Godzilla, written by Dean Devlin, directed by Roland Emmerich, and starring Matthew Broderick, Maria Pitillo, Jean Reno, Kevin Dunn, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Michael Lerner, Lorry Goldman, Arabella Field, William O’Leary, and Vicki Lewis.

A Japanese fishing vessel goes down under mysterious circumstances, causing the US government to tap Dr. Niko Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick) to come in to research it, and causing the French government to hold a lighter in front of a Japanese survivor’s face until he says, “Gojilla.”  Nick is able to find a skin sample on the downed ship and determines it belongs to an unknown species, created by nuclear testing.  The giant creature (that the news has labelled Godzilla, but I prefer to keep calling Gojilla) travels to New York City, creates some havoc and destruction, and then disappears.  The military evacuates the city to make some room so they can further ruin the city by trying to kill Gojilla.  Nick discovers a blood sample and uses it to determine that the male creature reproduces asexually and is pregnant, coming to NYC to collect food and lay it’s eggs.  Nick’s ex-girlfriend, aspiring journalist Audrey Timmonds (Maria Pitillo) sees him on TV and decides that she can use him to get the inside scoop on the story, stealing a classified video tape from Nick that is later stolen by her boss Charles Caiman (Harry Shearer).  This causes Nick to be let go from the US military, only to be picked up by Philippe Roache (Jean Reno) of the French secret service.  The US ignores Nick’s idea that Gojilla has laid eggs, but the French help him find them.  Audrey goes along with her cameraman, Victor Palotti (Hank Azaria) to follow Nick and the French as they try to save New York.

Roland Emmerich has done nothing if not proved himself the king of dumb action movies.  Stargate, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012 just to name a few.  I would certainly call this movie dumb, but it’s a fun watch in it’s dumbness.  The story is … around.  It’s there somewhere, but it’s pretty stupid.  Needless to say I came up with a pretty sizable list of the stupid things that occurred to me in the movie, but I won’t bore you with them … I will REGALE you with them.  First, for Nick to say that New York was a great decision for a place for Gojilla to hide was just retarded for me.  He’s a 300-foot lizard in one of the busiest cities in the United States.  But it worked, so I guess I’m the idiot.  Of course, it worked by having the 300-foot monster find a way to get around in the subway.  …Alright, we’ll go with that…  I’d say the biggest problem I had with the movie was how stupid the US military was made out to be.  You can use Scotch tape to stick a picture to a press pass and get in, you can affect the worst American accent in history to get by them, they instantly want to kill the thing they’ve never seen before that has not intentionally damaged anything but their only idea is to keep firing things that have previously proved ineffectual.  They also take the whole “Not going to listen to the expert we brought in” thing to new heights by kicking him out and going exactly opposite to everything he said, even though he was the only person to ever say anything remotely correct up to that point.  And all because someone who the military shouldn’t have allowed onto their area in the first place stole something from his tent while he wasn’t around.  Take, for instance, when the military guy wants to cement up all of the subway tunnels in New York to trap it in the city until Broderick distracts him with something.  How do you think that’s going to work?  You realize that it swam here, right?  And if the military isn’t inept in this movie, they’re assholes, but it requires some ::SPOILER ALERTS::  They finally kill Gojilla at the end of the movie.  They mainly do this because, for the first time in the movie, Gojilla is actually being aggressive towards something that is not openly attacking it by chasing down a cab containing Nick, Philippe, Audrey, and Victor.  One could excuse Gojilla’s rash behavior because the four of them had just taken part in the destruction of Gojilla’s 200 baby Godzooky’s.  The brave military comes to the rescue (after Nick figures out how to do it for them) after Nick gets Gojilla trapped in a suspension bridge’s wires.  You can practically hear “Eye of the Tiger” or “Hero” by Nickelback playing as the US military bombards the helpless (and justified) creature as it lies trapped and helpless, like a puppy in a safe that they just kicked into the ocean.  ::END SPOILERS::  So badly are the US portrayed in this movie that the French are the smart ones that save the day as the American’s sit around with their thumbs up their asses.  Nothing against the French, I’m actually a fan of theirs.  But if I know my friend Phil, that was the part that made him hate this movie

I’m a little torn when it comes to the look of this movie.  I actually kind of liked the new look of Gojilla … sometimes.  I understand their decision to make him look that way because it was more reminiscent of a komodo dragon.  It was kind of cool looking, but also seemed like they probably just saw Jurassic Park and said, “Do that, but make his arms longer.  And give him more scary, spikey things on his back.”  When we catch a look at the Godzooky’s later on, you get that idea cemented a little bit, but this time with the Tyrannosaurus switched with the Velociraptors.  When Gojilla is running around by himself, the look of him is alright, or at least it hides it’s imperfections behind constant rain and often darkness.  Except maybe when it starts randomly hugging a building and screeching to the heavens for no reason.  That seemed out of place.  By the time we see the Godzooky’s, the imperfections become more noticeable.  They were as goofy looking as they were a bad idea.  And that is only a slightly better idea than having those same Godzooky’s slip on gumballs and basketballs without using Yakety Sax as the music.

Since none of the performances were worth mentioning, I’ll just use this paragraph to use my character specific mockings.  Matthew Broderick was inexplicably a super genius.  I will get behind him being a radiation expert because that’s how he’s introduced.  I’ll even allow him to be an expert in reptiles because he studied … worms …  I’m being forgiving!  But what does not seem to fit in with his specialization is his knowledge of taxis (knowing the military could find his radio channel from the sign he threw from the taxi), suspension bridges (knowing that would hold Gojilla), dentistry (knowing that sticking an electrical cable into it’s gums would cause Gojilla to release the car they were in), gynecology (knowing what to look for to find out Gojilla was both male and pregnant), and musical theater (he’s gay).  What I noticed he doesn’t specialize in is blinking with one eyes, or delivering clever dialogue.  Broderick seems to always be around to deliver some clever witticisms, like when they stacked up a huge pile of fish in the middle of a street to draw Gojilla in and he said, “That’s a lot of fish.”  Y’know what, Matt, I never looked at it like that before.  You’ve given me a lot to think about.  His character motivation was also completely confused.  When they are trying to get the Godzooky’s blown up, he delivers a speech about these “amazing reptiles”, which is followed shortly by something along the lines of, “Blow the crikey fuck out of them!”  Jean Reno was probably the next biggest character (that I have a joke about), and he also had about one personality trait, and that was an obsession with coffee.  He was also a master of hotwiring cars, knowing what we all hope no car thieves ever figure out: a car can be hotwired by pulling out the ignition slot, jamming a knife in there, and twisting it.  I wasn’t a fan of Hank Azaria or his movie wife Arabella Field, but mainly because their attitudes and accents made them seem like they were fresh out of the Jersey Shore.  Also, Arabella Field’s character mistook the coming of Gojilla as a parade, which I resent because my mother never took me to one of those awesome parades composed of a giant piston firing into the ground, shaking the surroundings and making a loud thumping noise.  Can’t say I really understood the decision to make the mayor of the city Roger Ebert, and his assistant Gene Siskel.  If Emmerich was doing it as punishment for a history of bad reviews for his movie, you’d think he’d kill them off in the movie … or start making better movies.

So, no one’s surprised to hear that this movie is not a great movie, but hopefully we had fun finding out.  It’s stupid, the characters are pretty one-dimensional, the look is hit and miss, and it’s stupid, but it can be a fun watch, or at least a movie that’s fun to make fun of.  I still wouldn’t really recommend it as a watch to anyone, mainly because I won’t be blamed for wasting a few hours of your life.  But if you need something to make fun of, this movie is the kind you’re looking for.  MST3k got a lot of material from the original Godzilla movies, so why shouldn’t you get the same from the remake of Gojilla.  And so Godzilla gets “That’s a negative impact, sir!” out of “You’ve caused more damage than that goddamn thing did!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Muppets (2011)


No Drums!  No Drums!  Jack Black Said No Drums!

The impetus behind my decision to pull this movie out of a RedBox was the nagging of the inner child I had thought I had killed years ago.  That little bastard and I had a battle many years ago where I left him for dead, bleeding like a stuck Miss Piggy.  It turns out he had been nursing his wounds, waiting for the right moment to shoot himself out of a cannon and back into my heart.  When today’s movie came out in theaters, I started getting threatening messages with letters cut out of magazines that never really amounted to anything.  Today, when this movie came out on DVD, he knew this was his chance to strike.  That really strange story aside, I rented today’s movie from a RedBox and decided to give it a shot to live up to the love I had for this crew in my youth.  Today’s movie is The Muppets, written by Jim Henson, Jason Segel, and Nicholas Stoller, directed by James Bobin, and starring Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones, Jack Black, Alan Arkin, Emily Blunt, Zach Galifianakis, Donald Glover, Dave Grohl, Ken Jeong, Jim Parsons, Kristen Schaal, and Sarah Silverman, the voices of Peter Linz, Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, David Rudman, Matt Vogel, Tyler Bunch, Alice Dinnean, and Jerry Nelson, and notable cameos by James Carville, Bill Cobbs, Feist, Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez, Neil Patrick Harris, Judd Hirsch, John Krasinski, Rico Rodriguez, and Mickey Rooney.

Walter (Peter Linz) and Gary (Jason Segel) are brothers that live in a small town called … Smalltown.  But Walter was born with a birth defect of sorts that makes him a Muppet.  Because of this, Gary and Walter become big fans of the Muppet Show.  When they grow up, Gary is preparing to go on vacation to LA with his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) and surprises Walter by taking him with them.  While in LA, they visit the abandoned Muppet studio.  Walter sneaks into the office of Kermit the Frog and finds out that Statler (Steve Whitmire) and Waldorf (Dave Goelz) are selling the theater to oil magnate Tex Richman (Chris Cooper), who intends to demolish it and drill for oil beneath the studio.  Walter, Gary, and Mary manage to convince Kermit to get the band back together to raise $10 million to save the theater before it’s too late.

My inner child must’ve fixed his hooks in pretty deeply, because I was still charmed by the Muppets.  I realize that, beyond nostalgia, it doesn’t hold a lot of appeal for adults, but kids should probably enjoy it.  I base that mostly on the crap I’ve watched that kids are into today (I’m looking at you, Dora and Yo Gabba Gabba!).  The Muppets are way better than the crap kids watch today, and I stand by that!  I actually got goosebumps when watching the opening to The Muppet Show that I had not seen in ages.  It’s silly and ridiculous, but generally it’s well aware of that fact.  What’s more important is that it’s charming, and there are actually a couple of genuine laughs in the movie.  I especially liked some of the 4th wall-breaking jokes, like when Kermit said he wasn’t going to get the band back together and Mary said, “This is going to be a really short movie.”  I also liked when the Swedish Chef said, “Say hello to my little friend,” before using a flamethrower on a mold-infested fridge, mainly because it came out as, “Herdy gerdy me Gerdy Fler!”  If you want to nitpick (and you know I do), there are a couple of things in the story that didn’t make sense to me.  First, that Walter and Gary are so starstruck with the Muppets when Walter is, himself, a Muppet.  Okay, you let that one go.  The one that bothered me (and yes, I know, more than it should’ve) was the prospect of earning the money to save the theater.  I know that every problem in Muppetland is solved with a show; that’s not the problem.  The problem is, while getting the band back together, they had to get Gonzo from the business he owns (the world’s most successful plumbing parts business) and Miss Piggy from running Vogue Paris.  They couldn’t toss a couple of bucks towards saving the theater?  They might not have wanted to supply all $10 million, but you could’ve given them at least half and let the people do the rest.  The musical numbers were a little cheesy for my taste, but I didn’t really expect much else.  The one that Amy Adams does by herself is just sad.  Not because of her voice, but because doing a musical number about trying to act happy that you’re spending time by yourself while no one else is joining in is one of the most depressing things ever.  I also found it very amusing that they had an all chicken rendition of Cee-lo Green’s “Fuck You”.  That’s an interesting choice for a Muppet movie, but I guess “Buck buck” is not that offensive, even if it’s chicken for “Fuck you.”

The performances of the people had to be hammed up because it’s a kids movie, but no one really did bad.  Amy Adams is super cute, Jason Segel comes off as a nice guy, and Jack Black just acts nuts.  The performance of the Muppets is still a well honed art.  By this time, you know these guys are experts at making felt look like it has emotions and personality, and I don’t think enough credit goes to these guys for that skill.  We just take it for granted.  I’ve also notice that computer graphics (and probably green screens) have enabled them to do more things with the Muppets than they used to be able to, allowing them to do full body Muppet movements by having the puppeteer wear a green suit.  That ability doesn’t add a whole lot to them, but it’s interesting.  One of the most interesting things about this (and a lot of other Muppet movies) is the cameos.  Though many of them only pop in for a second, or just for one line of dialogue, the cameos are really widespread and eclectic.  Zach Galifianakis was funny in his part, and was actually around a bit longer than most.  Jim Parsons (of the Big Bang Theory) plays Walter’s imaginary human form, so people that watch that show might be interested in that.  I was also super impressed with myself that I was one of the few people that would be able to recognize the singer Feist and Bill Cobbs even though most people couldn’t recognize them given an entire day and their scenes combined added up to about 10 seconds.  You can read the credits up above to have as comprehensive a list of the cameos as I could muster.

I kind of liked the Muppets movie.  It’s both not meant for me and completely meant for me.  It’s made for kids, which I am not, but it’s also made for people who loved the Muppets when they were kids, which I am.  Speaking to parents, I would say to try to get your kids into the Muppets instead of the crap that they watch now.  Muppets are so much better than that shit they’re watching now, and you can actually watch and enjoy the Muppets instead of watching with a morbid curiosity in the same way I watched Yo Gabba Gabba.  Now that it’s available from RedBox, I’d say you should give it a watch, especially if you loved the Muppets in your childhood or if you have kids and you don’t want Dora to teach them Spanish.  The Muppets gets “Kermit, you’re my hero.  You’re on my watch” out of “We all agreed: celebrities aren’t people.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Tucker & Dale vs Evil (2011)


They Chopped Off His Bowling Fingers!

The inspiration for today’s movie came from “fellow” movie reviewer Leonard Maltin on the Doug Loves Movies podcast.  He called today’s movies one of the best of 2011.  Now, I’ve never read one of Leonard Maltin’s reviews, but I’m gonna go ahead and assume that I’m a tougher critic than he is.  And I base that on absolutely nothing.  I kept meaning to get around to watching the movie.  I saw it on Netflix streaming and put it in my Instant Queue, but forgot to come back and watch it.  Then I apparently forgot that it was possible to instant stream the movie, because I saw it at a RedBox and decided to rent it for money I wasn’t already paying.  This movie had better be amazing if it wants to win me over after having cost me nearly two dollars at this point!  Today’s movie is Tucker & Dale vs Evil, written by Eli Craig and Morgan Jurgenson, directed by Eli Craig, and starring Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Chelan Simmons, Brandon Jay McLaren, Christie Laing, Travis Nelson, Alex Arsenault, Adam Beauchesne, Joseph Allan Sutherland, and Philip Granger.

A group of college students – Allison (Katrina Bowden), Chad (Jesse Moss), Chloe (Chelan Simmons), Chuck (Travis Nelson), Jason (Brandon Jay McLaren), Naomi (Christie Laing), Todd (Alex Arsenault), Mitch (Adam Beauchesne), and Mike (Joseph Allan Sutherland) – encounter two scary hillbillies named Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) on the way to their camping trip.  The college students are pretty quick to figure out that they’ve just walked in to their very own horror movie.  What they are very slow to assume is what actually turns out to be true: Tucker and Dale are just two nice guys going up to a cottage they purchased to fix it up and do some fishing.  That fact does not come into the picture for the college kids.  One night, while Tucker and Dale are fishing and the college students are skinny-dipping, Allison falls off of a rock and hits her head.  Tucker and Dale save her life, but when they yell to her friends, “We’ve got your friend,” the college students assume that Allison has been abducted by serial killing rednecks.  Misunderstandings get bigger and bigger, leading to actual deaths and the college students trying to lay siege upon two innocent dudes.

Prepare yourselves for a couple paragraphs of me gushing.  This is one of the best movies I’ve ever watched.  It’s extremely funny, and a pretty good horror movie as well.  If you’re looking for complaints, you won’t find them here.  I simply can’t.  Even just the basic idea of this movie is hilarious and ingenious.  I’ve never seen or heard of a movie that flips the cliched horror movies on their heads like this one does.  You think for a little while that you’re going to be relating to these college kids as the heroes of our movie, even though they’re not really that likeable.  Then we see Tucker and Dale, and we make the same judgements that we’ll come to dislike the college kids for by thinking Tucker and Dale look a little scary.  But once we actually meet them, you instantly like Tucker and Dale and the college students mostly become judgmental assholes.  The movie is then a lot of real laughs and extreme violence, mostly tied in with the misunderstandings that happen between the two groups.  The misunderstandings are farfetched, but hilarious.  One such misunderstanding happens when Tucker is using a chainsaw to cut up logs as the college students are approaching the house.  He accidentally saws into a beehive hidden in the log, causing him to run, screaming and wildly swinging the chainsaw over his head Leatherface-style, towards the college kids.  But this didn’t cause the college kids to die, while running away from him in the woods, the college kid runs chest first into a fallen tree, impaling himself.  Later, when other such deaths happen and Tucker and Dale actually see them, they start getting terrified that the kids are part of some suicide cult.  So you’ve got your comedy, you’ve got horror, but there’s also a bit of a nice love story here too.  Allison starts falling for the loveable Dale, but it made me really nervous throughout the entire movie that there was no way these two would end up together.  Whatever the ending was, it leaves you with a warm feeling and a nice message.  But it’s not really that romance or message-heavy, it’s mainly just a hilarious movie.

The performances are either fantastic or they’re just sort of background.  There are only about four people that are important parts of the story and the rest are just walking buckets of fake blood.  And one that has tits.  Well, a couple have tits (like Katrina Bowden, Christie Laing, and Tyler Labine), but only one actually exposes them.  Tyler Labine is essentially the hero of the movie.  He’s a sweet, teddy bear of a hillbilly who’s not that bright, but is really good at trivia.  He’s got a great heart, but low self-esteem.  That part sounds familiar.  But unlike myself, he gets the absolutely gorgeous Katrina Bowden!  Alright, Robert.  Calm down…  Anyways, through the course of the movie he gets to believe in himself more and even gets to be the hero at the end of the movie.  Also, he’s hilarious.  I’ve now seen Labine in three movies and, though Evil Alien Conquerors was not my cup of tea, I thought he was the funniest part in Zack and Miri Make a Porno and, though I can’t say he was the FUNNIEST part of this movie, he was hilarious in it.  The reason I can’t call him the funniest part of this movie is because Alan Tudyk also brought a lot of comedy.  I love Alan Tudyk as well.  He was great in Serenity, he was great in his small role in Knocked Up, and he was great as Steve the Pirate in Dodgeball.  And now he was great in this.  He also plays another likeable guy who’s just trying to get his friend to believe in himself.  The biggest excitement for me was seeing Katrina Bowden in this movie.  I know I’ve claimed to be in love with many actresses in the past, but I am also (and equally) in love with Katrina Bowden.  I don’t know how she’s not gotten more movie roles, but she’s capable of bringing the funny, the emotion, and always (ALWAYS!) brings the gundamned sexy!  Every time she shows up as Cerie in 30 Rock, she captures your attention.  I grant that she did have a bit of an easy job in this movie since her tendency to get accidentally knocked unconscious allowed her to spend most of the movie in bed.  But she was great in all of her conscious parts.  The only other part that was significant to me in the movie was Jesse Moss as Chad.  He made me hate him from the word “go”, but that’s what he was going for, so good for him.  He was basically the leading force behind the attack on these two guys we came to like, and Chad himself never seemed like anything more than a douche in a polo.  You get a bit of understanding for his motivations later, but you still think he’s an asshole.  The other college kids did a fine job, but were not doing much but getting killed.  Except for Chelan Simmons.  She gets them boobs out.

I will endeavor, in the future, to make my reviews of excellent movies better.  I can’t really mock something that is really good.  Tucker and Dale vs Evil is probably one of my favorite movies that came out in 2011 because it’s a great idea supported by lots of funny, a great look, and some fantastic performances.  I’m comfortable suggesting that you just go out and purchase this movie right now, but in the very least you should stream it from Netflix or find it at a RedBox.  After I gave a dollar to my local RedBox for it, I purchased it the very next day on BluRay.  Tucker and Dale vs Evil gets “We’ve had a doozy of a day, Officer” out of “I should have known a guy like me talking to a girl like you would end at someone being dead.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.