The Campaign (2012)

Because Filipino Tilt-a-Whirl Operators are This Nation’s Backbone!

My interest was piqued in today’s movie because of the two actors that starred in it, but I probably wouldn’t have gone to the theater for it.  I feel like I’ve been burned by one of the actors in the movie before, though the other has not really let me down just yet.  I guess I looked at the movie and just felt like I didn’t trust it to be worth my money, so I had set my mind to waiting to see it until it came out on DVD and I could get it from RedBox.  But when Friendboss Josh suggested we go see it, I decided to go.  I was on the fence anyway; I just needed a little nudge.  And that brings us to my review of The Campaign, written by Chris Hency and Shawn Harwell, directed by Jay Roach, and starring Zach Galifianakis, Will Ferrell, Dan Aykroyd, John Lithgow, Dylan McDermott, Jason Sudeikis, Brian Cox, Katherine LaNasa, Sarah Baker, Jack McBrayer, and John Goodman.

Democratic Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) has found himself in a sticky situation after he accidentally leaves a sexually explicit message meant for his mistress on the answering machine of a very conservative Christian family.  In response, the two corrupt businessmen that formerly backed Cam, brothers Glen (John Lithgow) and Wade Motch (Dan Aykroyd) decide they need a new candidate to run against Cam with their backing so that they can later manipulate him into letting them bring the Chinese tradition of sweat shop labor to America.  They pick Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), eccentric – and possibly gay – son of former politician and Motch brothers associate, Raymond Huggins (Brian Cox), and set Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott) to be Marty’s campaign manager and hopefully fix the mess that is Marty enough to make him a viable candidate.  And so begins the battle for the Congressional seat of North Carolina’s 14th District.

When I left this movie, I found myself torn in regards to its quality, but Friendboss Josh helped me set myself straight.  I had gotten it into my head that the movie was underwhelming because there were points within this movie that I was not laughing, but then Josh reminded me that movies tend to feel the need to include story, which sometimes needs to be exposition and not laughs.  I don’t really know what I was thinking.  The only things that can pull off non-stop laughter are videos on YouTube with the word “Fail” in the title.  And Josh was kind enough to remind me that I laughed out loud on more than one occasion during this movie.  …But fuck Josh!  He doesn’t tell me what to do in a non-work setting!  I HATE THIS MOVIE!  Okay, I don’t.  When I got to thinking about it in the proper head space, I realized that I did find this movie funny enough to recommend for a viewing.  The story was pretty solid.  The tactics in the battle ramp up in new and mostly hilarious and preposterous ways.  I also found it very interesting that the guy we had liked from the beginning of the movie and the guy we hated started to trade places at one point in the movie, though it’s probably not that atypical of a thing to see in a movie like this.  And, though it goes mostly in the way you’d expect, the way it gets there is filled with enough solid laughs that it’s okay.  It would be no spoilers if you saw the trailer for the movie, but I probably laughed the hardest when Cam pulled a Raging Bull on that baby.  First because it was in slow-mo, and second because to Hell with that baby.  The only other part I can really remember making me laugh really hard was the part where Cam’s car had a painting of him sitting down on the side of his car, which I found hilarious.  There were plenty of other moments, but I took shitty notes.  I mean … I don’t want to ruin it …?

The performances were pretty much exactly what I expected them to be.  Galifianakis was probably not as funny as I’d want him to be, but I probably just hold him in too high of a regard.  I’ve loved him for a long time and I probably just always want him to blow my mind with his hilariousness.  The character he does in this movie is funny, but it’s also one I’ve seen him do in a few different places before.  I wouldn’t necessarily assume that the character would be able to sustain an entire movie, but it did alright and brought a good deal of funny.  I liked his awkward attempts to trash talk with Cam, but more of the actual funny came from Ferrell in that exchange.  Ferrell was also a pretty typical character for him, being the smug, stupid, douche nozzle type, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t do it well.  And he punched a baby right in its stupid face.  Speaking of stupid faces, how was Galifianakis’ chubby son in the movie able to pull off a perfectly round face?  He was like a Charlie Brown character.

Once my crazy expectations were put in check, I came to realize that I found The Campaign plenty funny enough to earn a recommendation.  The story was not unexpected, but contained plenty enough laughs, and that’s all a comedy really needs, and the same could mostly be said about the performances.  It’s not the most mind-blowing comedy ever, but it’s good, solid laughs and worth checking out.  The Campaign gets “Rainbow Land is a fictitious place!” out of “I’m Cam Brady, and I seductively approve this message.”

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 and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

However History Remembers Me Before I Was a President, It Shall Only Remember a Fraction of the Truth…

Today’s movie had only ever gotten so far as to pique my interest.  It seemed like a novel concept, but the movie itself never really seemed like it’d be much more than that.  Still, I had my mind set on seeing the movie, and thought often of catching a show when I was at the theaters, but something better was always a higher priority.  Eventually, the movie had left the mainstream theaters and I figured I would have to just wait for it to be on DVD to check it out.  But recently I was realizing that I haven’t made it to a theater for a little while, so I decided to see what was playing.  Nothing at the mainstream theaters, but this movie had just arrived at the dollar cinema.  I’d always entertained the idea of seeing a movie at a dollar cinema, and decided this was as good a time as any.  And that’s how I came to watch Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, based on a novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, directed by Timur Bekmambetov, and starring Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell, Anthony Mackie, Marton Csokas, Jimmi Simpson, Erin Wasson, and Alan Tudyk.

Before we talk about the movie proper, I think we need to talk about the cinema-going experience.  I should have been able to predict while going to this theater that it would be of a slightly lower quality than a full price theater, but I didn’t quite expect it to be really small and not visible from the main road because it was stationed behind a Dunkin Donuts.  That I can deal with.  What I cannot deal with is the lower quality of people that would typically be found in this theater, namely the six tweens that were seated a row behind me.  What kind of piece of shit feels the need to talk all the way through a movie at full volume and often saying nothing more interesting than verbalizing what’s on the screen?  I’ve been known to talk in a movie, but I also typically try to only say funny things a la Mystery Science Theater, I always speak in whisper, and I generally assume that the people around me can see what’s on the screen.  People don’t need the narration, “OH!  He’s all old now!”  We understand how prosthetics work.  Would it really have been that bad of a thing for me to go over to the tweens and threaten to beat them within an inch of their lives?  Or if I had actually done it?  Or if I then tried to fit their mangled bodies in the trash cans they bring in to clean the theater?  Perhaps I’ve said too much …  Anyways, back to the movie!

As a young man, Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) witnesses a plantation owner, and vampire, named Jack Barts (Marton Csokas) bite his mother, killing her.  Nine years later, Lincoln is still focused on getting his revenge on his mother’s murderer, but he underestimates the vampire and gets his ass kicked, until being saved by Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper).  He convinces Sturgess to train him to be a vampire hunter before being sent to Springfield, Illinois, where Sturgess will send him to kill vampires around the town.  He takes a job with Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson) and falls in love with Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), both of which go against Sturgess’ orders to not get close to anyone that can be used against him by the vampires.  He also gets reunited with his black childhood friend, William Johnson (Anthony Mackie) who tells Lincoln of a vampire named Adam (Rufus Sewell) who owns a plantation in New Orleans with his sister, Vadoma (Erin Wasson), and frequently use slaves as food, since they don’t count as people and no one will care.  Lincoln then sets his aims on becoming the President of the United States so that he can abolish slavery and stop the vampires at their food source.

This movie didn’t work for me.  I’m not entirely sure if the movie was entirely to blame or the horrible cinema conditions, but I can’t say I was too fond of it.  I give the movie credit for being creative, but it lacks surprise and isn’t very deep.  I don’t think the creativity of the movie begs much for explanation; deciding to write a whole story about one of our presidents as a killer of vampires is not an easy thing to jump to.  It seems like something that someone said as a joke while completely high and later decided to turn into a movie.  But you still have to make the movie interesting, and I didn’t find that much of it all that compelling.  I allow for the possibility that the narrating retards sitting an aisle back may have been a constant and annoying distraction, and my brain spent a bulk of the time thinking about how satisfying it would be to punch them in their faces, but the lack of surprises in the movie is obvious.  That’s probably mainly due to the fact that you pretty much already know exactly how this story will go, so long as you stayed awake through American History class in high school.  Just take the story of Abraham Lincoln’s life and add vampires as his motivations.  That’ll about cover the story.  I also found the dialogue unimpressive in most parts of the story, which was particularly noticeable coming out of the mouth of the guy that gave one of the most memorable speeches in history.  Another thing that occurred to me in this movie is one of the staples of vampire lore, but why is the oldest vampire always the most powerful?  I understand them having experienced the most stuff and thusly possibly being the most intelligent, but shouldn’t age either have detrimental effects on them like it does on us, or at least have no effect on them because they don’t age?  They all come from the same blood, after all.

I had some issues with the look and the action of the movie too, but some of it made me question whether or not it was also tied to the shitty cinema.  Were some of the graphics in the movie sub-par, or were they being projected poorly?  In most instances, I blame the movie.  I first started noticing it in the scene where Lincoln was fighting a vampire in a stampede of horses.  I got the distinct feeling that they chose this location and cause the horses to kick up so much dust to hide the fact that the horses were kind of goofy looking and unconvincing.  It didn’t really work.  They did a similar thing later when they were fighting on top of a train and the smoke plume was obscuring the vision in the scene.  But I can forgive subpar graphics.  What actually hurts the movie is that the action just isn’t that interesting.  I don’t think I ever really had a drive to see Abraham Lincoln fight vampires with an axe, and I certainly would care less if he couldn’t even hold onto that axe very long.  Some of the action scenes were interesting enough, but it didn’t really impress.  I thought the gun that Lincoln had in the bottom of his axe was an interesting idea, and I didn’t really see it coming, but I never got a lot more than that.

The performances in the movie were fine, but I literally have next to nothing to say about them.  I was excited to see both Alan Tudyk and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in this movie.  …That’s literally everything I have.

Basically, I would say that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter started with a cool and creative idea, but never evolved past the idea.  The story was an interesting idea, but filled with dialogue that lacked a quality anywhere near the likes of the person they based their movie on.  The graphics were not fantastic and it often seemed like they were trying to obscure it with particulates, but the action was decent enough, though not impressive.  And the performances were okay.  Add that all up and I’d say you’d be okay skipping this movie.  It was probably worth the dollar I paid to see it, but not worth the annoyance of the people in the theater.  It was enough to make me want to shoot them and jump up on stage yelling, “Sic semper tyrannis!”  Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter gets “History prefers legends to men” out of “There is darkness EVERYWHERE!”

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 and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Bronson (2008)

You Don’t Want to be Trapped Inside With Me, Sunshine.

The impetus for today’s movie started before it was officially requested by my friend Ajla.  It originally started with my friend Jordan, around the time that the cast for the Dark Knight Rises was being released.  When Tom Hardy was announced as Bane, I was quick to criticize.  I am a critic, after all.  But it was entirely based on his appearance in Inception.  This was the only time I had seen him, and the guy was not physically impressive enough to play Bane.  By this point, I’ve seen Hardy in Warrior, so I would know better, but that was the only experience I had with him at that time.  But Jordan was quick to educate me, telling me to look up pictures of him in one of his earlier movies.  He was right; dude was totally buff in this movie, and I could see him playing a real-life version of Bane.  Later, Ajla requested that I watch the movie, so I decided I would give it a go.  But then I got completely terrified of the movie, not because of the subject matter of the U.K.’s “most violent prisoner”, but because the movie was directed by the director of one of my most hated movies in recent history: Drive.  Let’s see how it went as I review Bronson, co-written and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, co-written by Brock Norman Smith, and starring Tom Hardy, Matt King, James Lance, Amanda Burton, Kelly Adams, Juliet Oldfield, Jonathan Phillips, and Mark Powley.

This movie is the story of England’s most violent prisoner, Michael Peterson (Tom Hardy), who later changed his name to Charles Bronson.  He was apparently a man who always wanted to be famous.  Being unable to sing, act, or write profoundly beautiful reviews, he takes to doing what he does best: robbing post offices and randomly beating the living shit out of people.  This delivers the expected result of landing him in prison, where he sets about being the most violent in there.  Occasionally he gets out, but he doesn’t seem too fond of not being in prison, so he does something to get back in.  That’s pretty much it.

This movie was okay, but it suffered from the problems that I expected it to.  The story was fine enough, but not much more than a biopic of a man’s life story.  The biggest problem I had was what I expected from this director: pretentious artsy fartsy crap.  I just want to slap Nicolas Winding Refn in the face and say, “Tell a story normally!”  I don’t need this guy’s story spread out with scenes of him on a stage talking about what we just watched.  I saw what we just watched!  I understand that some people love this artsy crap, but it just gets on my nerves.  It feels like an unnecessary distraction to me, especially when they were also perfectly comfortable just having Bronson talk to us directly, without the forced stage show parts.  If you have narration that he can’t just do in voice over, I’m okay with you just having Bronson explain it to me himself.  Refn also apparently felt that this movie was an appropriate place for his shitty, electronica, 80’s music that he beat me over the head with in Drive, and I still hate the hell out of that annoying shit.  But there were things about this movie that allowed me to like it much more than Drive.  None of them could be attributed to Refn though.  The story could be attributed mostly to the real Charles Bronson and not as much to the people that chronicled it and called it a movie.  He lived a pretty interesting and violent life, which makes parts of the movie worth watching.

Another thing that makes this movie entirely watchable is Tom Hardy.  I have not seen this guy even do a “good” performances yet.  He does “fantastic” at the very lowest.  He was great in Inception, fantastic in Warrior, and actually made Bane an interesting character.  And if you like this guy, like great acting, and just really want to see Bane’s dick, this movie is for you.  Tom Hardy disappears into this character.  It’s nothing like I’ve ever seen him do before, and is probably a lot like the real Michael Peterson, but I really don’t know what he’s like.  He’s absolutely fantastic in this movie.  As for everyone else … I didn’t really notice them.  It’s Peterson’s story, and definitely the Tom Hardy show, and everyone else was minor and forgettable, though not through any real fault of their own.

Bronson is a movie that caused me mixed feelings.  I liked the story of the movie, but I also don’t think a whole lot of respect goes to the chronicling of a life story.  I don’t give history books credit for their writing abilities either.  I still find myself profoundly irritated by everything Nicolas Refn brings to cinema, but Tom Hardy redeems as much as he can with his fantastic performance.  I think I would tell you guys that this movie is worth a watch.  If you’re like me, you’ll think parts of the movie are interesting enough, but at least Tom Hardy was great.  If you’re like so many people I’ve argued with about Drive, you might love this movie.  I say it’s way better than Drive, but I also hate Drive.  Plus, you can stream it on Netflix.  Bronson gets “Magic?  You just pissed on a gypsy in the middle of fucking nowhere” out of “You shouldn’t mess with boys what are bigger than you.”

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 and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Raid: Redemption (2012)

Pulling a Trigger is Like Ordering Takeout.

My break is over.  Time to review stuff!  I felt that today’s movie was fortuitous for me.  It’s a movie that I heard about while it was in theaters, but never really from anyone whose opinions I valued enough to make me check it out in theaters.  But I kept hearing that this movie was such an awesome action movie, with great use of guns and great hand to hand combat.  It stuck in my brain like a thorn, or like that Q-tip I lost in the third grade.  But, unlike that Q-tip, this demanded resolution.  And, right smack in the middle of my break, I realized that this movie had just showed up in RedBox.  It had to be mine.  And that brings us to my review of The Raid: Redemption, written and directed by Gareth Evans, and starring Iko Uwais, Donny Alamsyah, Ray Sahetapy, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, Joe Taslim, and Tegar Satrya.

Lieutenant Wahyu (Pierre Gruno) leads a SWAT team to a building in the slums with the intention of busting in and arresting the merciless drug lord, Tama Riyadi (Ray Sahetapy), and his two henchmen, the brains Andi (Donny Alamsyah) and the brawn “Mad Dog” (Yayan Ruhian).  A team of 20 SWAT members enter the building but are quickly spotted and the shit hits the fan.  Really, that’s about the entire story.

I found that I really enjoyed this movie, but you probably won’t see any of the reasons in this first paragraph.  The story is entirely unimpressive.  I actually took no notes whatsoever on the story of this movie.  It made no impact.  It’s really nothing more than SWAT deciding they should go to this building and arrest a guy and it doesn’t go according to plan.  Then they try to spice it up with a little corruption and a brother showing up alongside the bad guys, but none of that’s mined for anything.  It’s a typical and unsurprising story, but it’s also not the focus of the movie.

I came into this movie having heard that it was one of the coolest action movies in years.  I started out a little shaky with the action in this movie.  In the beginning, they seemed to be focusing either too much on making the movie stylish or on making the action all based around guns.  I’m not really that big of a fan of gun based action.  I prefer a good fist fight.  I’m honorable like that.  You’re not special if you can point a gun at someone and defeat them from 20 feet away, but if you can face-punch someone into submission, you’re alright.  But the action in the beginning of the movie, though it was cool, was too much about the guns.  I did like the sound effects they used for the guns because each shot sounded like a jackhammer.  But here’s the thing about guns: they run out of bullets.  When they run out of bullets, it turns towards the hand to hand combat.  And it’s fuckin’ tight!  Right from the moment where Rama goes down a hallway, beating ass with only a nightstick and a knife, I was on board.  The hand to hand combat scenes are just fantastic.  There are people that might say that some of the fight scenes – and particularly the fight between Rama, Andi, and Mad Dog – go on for too long, but there’s no such thing in my book.  I’ve liked Tony Jaa movies before, and those are basically just exhibitions for the cool shit Tony Jaa can do.  So clearly I would watch a movie that was not much more than one long fight scene.  They broke them up in this movie, but the fights were long and spectacular, mixing Jiu Jitsu with kickboxing and probably other stuff, but they were all sweet.  And, there was generally at least one moment in each fight that made me exclaim, “Oh shit!”  Rama kicks a guy down a stairwell and he lands on a wall, breaking his back.  Rama kicks a guy through a door and impales another one through the neck on the broken remains of the door.  He also grabs a guy’s leg, pulls him down with it, and stomps his head.  I was down when I saw the first of these “Oh shit” moments, but seeing the rest made me realize what I had heard was correct.  This is a movie full of awesome action.  One thing that came along with the cool, prolonged fight scenes that I liked was that the people in the fight would get noticeably exhausted as the fight continued.  The fight didn’t get less awesome because they were weary, but the way they played it was as if the fight was one shot and the actors didn’t get a break in the filming.

I had roughly the same feelings – and exactly the same amount of notes taken – about the performances in the movie.  Nothing really to say about them.  They all did a fine job, but the movie did not require very much out of them.  The ones that did it punched the hell out of people’s faces very well and that’s about it.

The Raid: Redemption offers next to nothing by way of story or acting chops, but that was not what was advertised.  I was told this movie was one of the most awesome action movies – both for gunplay and martial arts – that has been released in recent memory.  It was.  The action of this movie was friggin’ dope, and caused me to exclaim profanities out loud on more than one occasion.  This movie is definitely worth the watch.  Go check it out from a RedBox for a dollar if you have any interest in martial arts movies and I highly doubt you will regret it.  I bought the movie the very next day on BluRay because I’ll watch these action scenes over and over again.  The Raid: Redemption gets “The coolest action movie in recent memory” out of “Go to work and have fun.”

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 and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Watchmen (2009)

Never Compromise.  Not Even in the Face of Armageddon.

I have finally reached my goal of one review per day for an entire year.  I will be taking a week off to rest before I decide what I’m going to be doing next, but you can rest assured that I will still be writing reviews for as long as I’m able to keep myself motivated.  During the course of my first year, I’ve reviewed many movies of all different types of genres, but I think my nerdiness has come out in many of my reviews and let you all know that one of my favorite types of movie is the comic book movie.  When I did my favorite movies from each genre, I intentionally skipped the comic book movie because there are three movies that I have decided are my top three favorite, but I have not yet been able to confidently say I prefer one to another.  I reviewed Avengers while it was in theaters, which is the same time it joined the list.  Later, I reviewed the Dark Knight as its sequel was coming out, and it held its ground.  But no one asked me to do the third, and an opportune time would not be presenting itself in the near future as there’s no sequel or prequel coming to this movie anytime soon.  And so I decided that I would review the third movie as my anniversary present to myself.  This movie is Watchmen, based on a comic book by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, written by David Hayter and Alex Tse, directed by Zack Snyder, and starring Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Malin Akerman, Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Carla Gugino, Stephen McHattie, Matt Frewer, Laura Mennell, Robert Wisden, and Danny Woodburn.

October 12th, 1985.  A comedian died in New York.  Well, more specifically the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a retired masked crime fighter is thrown out of a window by an unknown assailant.  Another costumed crime fighter operating outside of the law named Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) goes to investigate and jumps to the conclusion that someone is trying to kill his comrades, so he sets about warning them.  He goes first to his former partner, Daniel Dreiberg, formerly the second Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson), and then goes to the nearly omnipotent Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) and his lover, Laurie Jupiter, the second Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman).  All of them think Rorschach is just being paranoid, but Dan decides to relay the message to Adrian Veidt, formerly Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), who shares the skepticism of the others.  Rorschach is unconvinced and continues his investigation while Dr. Manhattan and Veidt focus on trying to stave off nuclear war with their free energy solution.

Oh man do I love this movie.  And I was also extremely shocked to find out that this is not an entirely popular opinion.  Both the critic and the audience reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are sitting around the 65% range.  I don’t get that.  Watchmen is not really your ordinary comic book movie.  It’s got less action that you’d typically expect to find, but I feel that it’s a lot smarter and has a much better story.  That is mostly thanks to Alan Moore since the movie seems to be pretty much a shot for shot adaptation of his original story.  From what I gathered, his original comic book was a much more powerful political statement when he originally made it, but I hadn’t read that by the time I saw this movie.  I just knew that it was a greatly lauded comic book that they were turning into a movie, and the movie blew me away.  I feel that I may have benefited from not having read the comic book when I saw the movie because the great reveals at the end of the movie were not spoiled for me.  The huge reveal involving Adrian Veidt was great, and even the smaller, more personal one involving Laurie was extremely powerful.  There were a couple of other things to say about the movie, but I feel they deserve a ::SPOILER ALERT:: so that the reveals won’t be ruined for you, and will allow you to enjoy it the same way I did.  I thought it was a fantastic twist that Veidt gives a speech like a Bond villain to Rorschach and Nite Owl that makes you think they’ll still have time to stop it, and the twist comes when Veidt was smart enough to know that this was a possibility, so he had set his plan into motion 35 minutes prior.  I would say that there was a part to his plan that I never really got behind.  I don’t know why it was necessary that Dr. Manhattan take the heat for what Veidt did for the plan to work.  I actually kind of understood (without condoning) why they killed so many people to bring peace to the world, but I feel like the same thing would happen whether it was Veidt taking the heat or Dr. Manhattan, which would make it unnecessary for my favorite character, Rorschach, to die.  But it was a minor issue I took with the movie and didn’t really disturb my enjoyment.  ::END SPOILERS::

I think the direction of the movie won me over before the story did.  The quality of the story sunk in towards the end, but the quality of the direction was able to win me over very early on.  It’s really a visual delight, and the music is also a big win.  I was on board to a great degree from the opening fight between the Comedian and the unknown assailant, which was a great fight scene with music that worked well with the scene while being in contrast to what was happening.  The opening credit sequence was also fantastic.  It tells the story of the decline of the superhero and places them into real, historic situations, and they back that up with strong visuals and a great Bob Dylan song.  They include the sailor kiss from the famous photograph, the Comedian shoots JFK, the hippie chick putting the flower in the gun barrel, the moon landing, and even that famous Rage Against the Machine album cover.  …I’m being told that this was actually a real occurrence and not just an album cover…  But the look and the soundtrack of the move kept my attention all the way through.  Even if the story of the movie was no good, I would’ve been on board with the movie from these things alone.  The movie didn’t have that many fights, but the ones they had were fantastic.  The highlights include Dan and Laurie beating down some gang members, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre beating down some prisoners, and Rorschach fighting his way out of Moloch’s apartment.  All of them were really brutal and awesome.  The fight with Hollis Mason and the gang members towards the end of the movie was also fantastic and emotional.  I would say it was a little corny and tasteless for the Nite Owl’s hovercraft to blow its fiery load just as the Nite Owl himself did.  I also thought it was funny to try to see all of the things that were on Veidt’s various TV screens towards the end of the movie.  I was able to catch a glimpse of what appeared to be porn, a scene from Rambo, and that wacky Fed Ex commercial.  I don’t know if there was significance to any of that, but I found it interesting to try to pick them out.

The performances in the movie were all wins for me.  Jackie Earle Haley was the best one for me.  I thought Rorschach was friggin’ awesome.  His narration in the movie made me imagine what it would sound like for Christian Bale’s Batman to narrate a Max Payne game.  Generally morose, and always raspy.  But Rorschach was a total badass throughout the movie.  The story of what made Rorschach was great, the story of what made him more brutal was even better, and I particularly loved all of his interactions with Big Figure in jail.  And, on top of his badassdom, he also had a great scene at the end that got me a little choked up for him.  Also, do you know what I’ve always felt was sadly missing from other comic book movies like Avengers and the Dark Knight?  Tits!  And the only thing that would make that better is if they belonged to Malin Akerman.  SCORE!  She is so hot.  …And that’s all I have to say about her.  She did a good job and everything, but I have a one track mind.  Matthew Goode did a great job as well, but the only thing that amused me enough to take note of about him was how heroic he was when the guy was trying to kill him and he first ducked behind the businessmen before taking the guy down.

I love Watchmen.  The story is brilliant and the adaptation of it is fantastic, powered along by amazing visuals and a great soundtrack.  The performances are also pretty fantastic, with Jackie Earle Haley leading the bunch in my opinion, but everyone doing their thing very well.  And at least one of those performances brought a great set of boobs, and that’s alright by me.  I think this is a fantastic movie and I don’t understand the concept of anyone not liking it, but apparently it happens so watch this movie skeptically.  But do watch this movie.  Watchmen gets “A pretty butterfly” out of “I’m not locked in here with you.  You’re locked in here with ME!”

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 and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster (2010)

Master, You Really Can Fight Ten Men at Once.

As I come towards the end of my first year of reviews, I came to realize that I had started a few things that I had left unfinished.  The first one I realized was a movie I had reviewed, but had not reviewed the sequel.  And, I coincidentally noticed it because I felt like watching the movie again.  I had reviewed the first movie back in November, and I also raved about it being one of the better martial arts movies in recent history.  Solid storytelling mixed with fantastic fight scenes and some good performances as well.  I had been told about how that one was a great martial arts movie so I decided to give it a watch, but I accidentally watched the lesser prequel instead.  I still liked the prequel so much that I instantly went out and purchased the first movie and today’s movie.  How did that work out for me?  We’ll find out in my review of Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster, written by Edmond Wong, directed by Wilson Yip, and starring Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung, Darren Shahlavi, Huang Xiaoming, Lynn Hung, Charles Mayer, Kent Cheng, Fan Siu-wong, To Yu-hang, Ngo Ka-nin, Simon Yam, Calvin Cheng, Lo Mang, Fung Hak-on, and Brian Burrell.

After the events of the first movie, the Wing Chun martial arts master Ip Man (Donnie Yen) moves with his family to Hong Kong to open a school.  At first, it’s slow going, but then a young man named Wong Leung (Huang Xiaoming) comes along and becomes his student, and soon more follow.  And with these new students comes trouble when Wong Leung gets held hostage after getting into a fight with members of another martial arts school.  When Ip Man goes to rescue him, he comes into contact with Hung Chun-nam (Sammo Hung), who tells Ip Man that he must fight the other masters before he can teach in Hong Kong.  Also, a western boxer named Taylor “The Twister” Milos (Darren Shahlavi) is coming to Hong Kong for an exhibition, and that’ll probably turn into something as well.

One could argue that Ip Man 2 suffers from roughly the same problems as most martial arts movies, but it also benefits from the same things they do.  The story is pretty basic.  It’s a fantasy version of Yip Man’s actual life, taking things that are told about the man and amping them up so that they’ll make for an interesting martial arts movie, and it accomplishes that very well.  It boils down to two fairly common stories from martial arts movies put together.  It starts off as the regular old “My Martial Arts is Better Than Your Martial Arts” storyline that is the root of so many martial arts movies.  Then it turns into an equally as common “West vs. East” storyline to round out the movie.  All stuff fans of the genre have seen before.  They have a little bit of a personal story going on with Ip Man and his family, and the threats of his poverty, but none of that’s really mined for emotion.  They do spend enough time with each character that we’re supposed to care about, so I guess they can be lauded for that.

What they really deserve to be lauded for is the martial arts.  I love the fight scenes in the Ip Man series.  They’re all spectacular.  I still think the fight with 10 guys from the first movie is the best fight scene in the series, but there are still plenty quality ones to be found in this movie.  The first big fight in the fish market pretty spectacular because of the number of people involved, but the choreography of the 10 man fight still impressed me more.  The same goes for the fight with the various martial arts masters on the table later in the movie.  Pretty cool, interesting idea, but not quite up to the high bar they already set.  A good contender would be the final fight with “The Twister” Milos.  It was the only fight that it seemed that Ip Man could possibly lose.  Granted, you know he’ll win because he’s the hero, but you need a little danger or emotion to really get a fight up to spectacular status.  It’s still always a pleasure to watch Donnie Yen do that machine gun style punching he does as Ip Man.  I could watch a .gif of that all day long.

The performances all do their parts nicely, but it never really requires that much out of them.  Donnie Yen performs his few moments of emotion very well, but who really cares about that?  He punches faces great.  I had the same problem with Lynn Hung as I had in the first movie in that she was always a bummer and a buzzkill, but she wasn’t around that often.  Sammo Hung is always interesting to me.  He just does not look like a guy that should be a martial arts star, but the guy knows what he’s doing.  He’s really good at directing action as well.  I’ve usually liked his work.  Like in Game of Death when he had a similar fight to the one he has in this one where he’s outmatched by the white dude, but this time it actually had significance to the story.  Darren Shahlavi could be knocked for being over the top in his portrayal of the bad guy, Taylor “The Twister” Milos, but it’s kind of what the role calls for.  We have to hate this guy, and we wouldn’t really hate him too badly if he accidentally killed someone in a fair fight that he had not started.  He’s got to be a sociopath that starts all the fights by randomly hating Chinese people, and then he’s got to beat one to death with his hands and try to cheat later on.  Now we can hate you.  They even have a bit in the end of the movie where a little boy shows up as Bruce Lee, who Yip Man actually trained.  The kid goes a little overboard with the Bruce Lee impersonation, but he does look eerily like I imagine Bruce Lee would at that age.

Ip Man 2 is still a really good martial arts movie.  I’d say that the first movie was probably better, but both of them have solid stories, both of them have solid performances, and both of them offer fantastic fight scenes.  I’d say that the first movie proves itself a little bit better in the fight category, but this one does not disappoint.  If you’re a fan of the martial arts genre, this is a movie you should see.  You could do worse than watching it even if you’re not a fan of the genre.  I have this movie on BluRay, and I’ll let you figure out where you can find it if you want to watch it.  Not like Netflix or RedBox are paying me.  Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster gets “No need to tell me all this.  Let’s just fight” out of “Doesn’t matter.  He’s better than you anyway.”

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 and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK (2008)

I’m Not a Psy-cho.  I’m a Cy-borg.

Samrizon made the request for today’s movie a pretty good amount of time ago, but I just didn’t feel like I wanted to watch it, even though it’s available on Netflix streaming.  A good portion of the reason I didn’t want to watch it is because it’s a foreign film, and I hate reading whether there’s moving pictures accompanying it or not.  It also seemed pretentious, and I usually just get annoyed by movies like that.  But it was a request to be certain, so it was going to happen eventually, whether I wanted to or not.  I finally decided to sit down and try to read my way through a movie called I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK, written by Jeong Seo-kyeong, co-written and directed by Park Chan-wook, and starring Im Soo-jung, Rain, Dal-su Oh, Su-jeong Lim, Choi Hie-jin, Lee Yong-nyeo, Yu Ho-jeong, and Kim Byeong.

A young Korean factory worker girl named Young-goon (Im Soo-jung) hears transmissions that lead her to believe that she’s a cyborg.  It’s unknown at this point whether or not that’s acceptable.  She also believes that she’s low on power, so she cuts her wrist and puts a power cord into the wound, plugging it in and almost killing herself.  She’s taken to a mental institution where she speaks only to appliances and listens only to her radio, which tells her what she must do to be a better cyborg.  She also refuses to eat, believing that it would cause her to break down, and sustains herself by licking batteries.  She also meets a young man named Il-sun (Rain), who is antisocial and a kleptomaniac, believing he can steal personality traits from people while he’s wearing any number of homemade rabbit masks.  The other people in the institution hate him for him stealing things from them, but this actually helps him, as he believes he’ll shrink to the size of a dot if people stop paying attention to him.  He starts to develop a sort of crush on Young-goon and tries to help her reunite with her institutionalized grandmother.

I found myself completely spellbound by this for the first bulk of the movie.  Not so much by how good of a movie it was, but just by how friggin’ crazy balls it was.  It’s a super quirky and goofy movie, but very little of it struck me as funny.  I would say it was largely amusing though and, by the end, found that I actually enjoyed it.  But I didn’t enjoy it for its quirkiness; I enjoyed it for the romantic story.  It wasn’t a typical love story, but it was a really sweet and innocent relationship that develops between Young-goon and Il-sun.  With their mental states, it’s almost like watching two young children fall in love, as if I was watching a Korean version of My Girl on LSD.  With the quirkiness comes a great deal of imagination, and that’s pretty evident in almost all aspects of the movie.  I’ve seen a lot of movies, but I don’t think I’ve seen a movie like this before.  I would say that my enjoyment of the movie was probably hindered by the fact that it’s a foreign movie.  I know most purists hate to think of watching a movie in anything other than its natural language, but I really wish I had been able to watch the movie dubbed instead of subtitled.  I just don’t read fast enough (or pay enough attention to things) to keep up with a really verbose foreign drama/comedy.  Most of the foreign movies I’ve seen are martial arts movies, and you can usually get by just fine in those movies without reading any of the dialogue at all.  But I was able to get by on the story of this movie anyway.  I guess if the majority of the things that the characters are saying are completely nuts, you can miss a line or two.  And the look of it successfully captured my attention anyway.  The movie is very colorful and cheerful looking, even when the scene might not have been.  They also made good use of computer generated images, like the opening credit sequence with the cool gears turning like a mechanical version of the X-Men movie opening.  A similar look showed up later when Il-sun installed a rice conversion tool into Young-goon.  I also thought it was a nice idea to have Young-goon show how much charge she had with the little lights on her toes.  When she turned into a robotic death machine, it was interesting, but typically goofy.  That’s what they were going for though, so I guess that’s okay.  I also had a problem with the look in that they kept zooming in on crazy gibberish early on in the movie that I assume they figured I would be able to read, but Netflix didn’t feel the need to translate them.

The performances were mostly over the top, but they were trying to play mental patients, so you really can’t say they should have toned it down.  Im Soo-jung was really cute in her role, typically acting as you would expect a cyborg to act and mostly seemed to not really understand or be interested in the things going on around her.  I also thought Korean pop singer Rain did a good job as Il-soon.  The only other time I had seen this guy was when he was in Ninja Assassin, and he wasn’t playing anywhere near that character in this movie.  I thought he had the most moments of comedy that actually worked for me, like when he would walk down the hall like Dr. Zoidberg for no particular reason.  He also played the character really earnest and childlike, and I found him really endearing.

I got off to a rough start with I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK, but that was really more my own problems than theirs.  Once I got over the bitterness I feel over having to read a movie, I got taken in by the movie’s imagination and quirkiness, and then got to feel that the love story was really sweet and innocent.  All of the performances of the crazy people were good, but I particularly liked the two main performances from Im Soo-jung and Rain.  Even though you’ll have to read it – or understand Korean – I think this is a sweet movie and worth watching.  Check it out on Netflix streaming.  I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK gets “Sweet” out of “Psycho.”

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 and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Air Panic (2002)

Get Ready For a Ride That You’ll Most Likely Forget.

I took today as another opportunity to rid myself of another movie in my Netflix instant queue of questionable origin.  The only thing I could guess caused me to put this movie in my queue was Kristanna Loken being in it, but it’s not like her involvement hasn’t come back to bite me before.  As best I could tell by looking at it, it is just a dumb action/thriller that no one knows and no one cares about, but I’m going to review it anyway.  This movie is either called Air Panic or Panic depending on where you look, written by Jace Anderson, directed by Bob Misiorowski, and starring Rodney Rowland, Kristanna Loken, Alexander Enberg, Ted Shackelford, Barbara Carrera, Scott Michael Campbell, Tucker Smallwood, Billy Sly Williams, and David Bowe.

Commercial airlines have been falling out of the air for no known reason.  FAA system analyzer Neil McCabe (Rodney Rowland) believes he’s figured out that the problem is a computer hacker that reprogrammed the autopilot chips to allow him access, and he’s using that access to ventilate some buildings with the airliners.  But his bosses at the FAA have decided it’s a terrorist organization called Red Dawn … or the pilot flew the plane into a building because he was watching Red Dawn … I don’t really remember.  Either way, Neil figures out that a plane that’s about to leave will probably have this problem and is headed to Washington D.C.  He manages to get the plane stopped temporarily, but it starts to go on its own anyway.  He gets onto the plane with the help of the flight attendant Josie (Kristanna Loken) and succeeds in getting himself trapped on the plane with the rest of the people, and in the hands of the maniacal Cain (Alexander Enberg).

Am I the only person that has a Netflix instant queue full of movies I have no reason to watch?  This is not a good movie (as I’m sure we all expected) and a lot of things in the movie are to blame.  I feel compelled, though, to point out that this wasn’t a painfully bad movie, and I think movies like Thankskilling and Monsturd have ruined my ability to call laughably stupid movies bad.  This movie is earnest in its attempt, but it fails all over.  Let’s start with the poorly conceived story.  The story of this movie was so full of plot holes that I was actually having trouble taking notes because I couldn’t type fast enough to finish one thought before another would come up.  The first thing that occurred to me was when a character called the three planes that went down around the country “the worst disaster in aviation history” even though I had seen that this movie either came out in 2001 or 2002.  I have a vague recollection of a bigger one around that time.  I suppose it’s understandable that this movie got made anyway because it was probably already filmed by the time 9/11 happened and they’d have to put it out eventually to try to make any amount of money from the picture.  When the people are loading onto the plane, they do their best to try to shove backstory and emotional attachment down our throats as quickly as possible, showing the girl drop her pictures because she’s flying to go see her sick father, showing the Indian family with the father that’s a doctor that has a hard time spending time with his wife and son.  This is even supposed to be Josie’s last flight before retirement.  Movies like this are probably the reason I’m so afraid to quit a job.  Something horrible will happen every time.  Speaking of horrible, how bad was Neil’s idea to get onto the plane that he knew was going to crash?  I’m all for trying to save lives and everything, but I’ll do what I can from the ground.  It’ll hurt less if I fail that way.  I’ll be bummed out, but somewhat happy that I’m still able to be bummed out.  Early on in the movie, I got annoyed with how everyone on the plane needed the situation explained to them 3 or 4 times individually before they got their brains around what was going on.  I assume it was to fill some time or something.  One of the early ones was when the copilot was belittling Neil, saying that no one could possibly take control of the airplane with computers, even though the plane had just taken off on its own while the pilot and copilot tried to stop it.  Just after that, when the passengers started panicking, they would not stop asking what was going on over and over, even though it had been explained.

When they got tired of showing they were stupid by needing the situation explained to them over and over, they found other ways to prove their stupidity.  The pilots seemed completely useless in the movie.  They had apparently no ability to fly a plane without the autopilot, so they couldn’t live without the computer that was being controlled by a madman.  If pilots are actually that useless, why are they even there?  At one point, the bad guy says that this flight will be one they’ll never forget.  I beg to differ.  If it goes the way you plan, then they’ll be dead.  I’d argue that they don’t remember things so well when they’re dead.  When Neil was working on taking control of the autopilot, he took out his computer and used his cell phone to communicate with his buddies at the FAA.  The stupid thing about that is that one of the flight attendants told him he couldn’t use his cell phone, obviously just being used to telling people they can’t use electronics on the flight, but why don’t you shut your mouth?  I think the guy knows what he’s doing.  When he actually got in contact with his boss, Keller, the guy has the nerve to say, “I’m glad you’re up there.”  Fuck you, man!  I understand that you mean there’s a chance I’ll be able to save the day, but you just said you were glad that I could potentially die in the near future.  I’m glad you have cancer, asshole!  A lot of the graphics involved with the movie were expectedly poor.  It looked like they took most of the visuals out of Microsoft Flight Simulator.

The performances often brought their own stupidity to the movie.  Rodney Rowland and Kristanna Loken didn’t really do anything that bothered me, so I’ll let them off the hook.  Ted Shackelford as Captain O’Kelly did something nice and stupid when he was talking about the job Josie was supposed to be heading to after her last day.  To prove himself an old white guy, out of touch with the day’s youth, he said that she was off to sell “hippity hoppity” clothes that kids are wearing.  I don’t think anyone, no matter how out of touch, has ever said that accidentally.  If John Bishop was the guy with the fear of flying (I couldn’t figure out for sure) then he got on my nerves through the whole movie.  He was WAY overdoing it.  I’m sure there are lots of people that are afraid of flying, but I’ve never seen anyone freak out that much on a plane.  He freaks out so much that he makes a rush for the door to try to get off the plane when they’re still at cruising altitude.  Later, he succeeds.  Good work, buddy.  The only people that died on that flight were because of you.  Gulshan Grover did a fine enough job as the doctor, but it was a little convenient that there was a doctor on board in the first place.  It was like in Airplane!, but I would also recommend you not call him whatever the Indian version of Shirley is.  His kid was often irritating to me though.  He acted like he was autistic or something, but they never said he was supposed to be.  Billy Sly Williams got on my nerves often as Ray because he was just being an over the top douche for no reason through the entire movie.  It seemed like he was trying to start a riot on board or something by walking out of first class and saying everyone was gonna die, and then he spent the rest of the flight complaining that he paid for a first class ticket and shouldn’t have to sit in coach just because the injured pilot was being cared for in the first class area.  I’m sure, if you survive this flight, they’ll give everyone their money back, so why don’t you shut up before I tape you to the guy that’s so afraid of flying that he’ll inevitably jump out at 30,000 feet.  Alexander Enberg never really worked as far as I was concerned, which was unfortunate because he was the main antagonist of the movie.  His portrayal of Cain looked like Balki from Perfect Strangers if he was playing Two-Face from the Dark Knight.  He never managed to pull off intimidating in the movie, and sometimes just mustered goofiness.  I also thought his little chair was goofy because the one joystick on it was able to control the airplane, set off explosives, and even make Julienne fries.  On a side note, does anyone know what the hell Julienne fries are?  Anyway, I thought it was funny that Cain couldn’t leave well enough alone as most villains can’t.  After Neil safely landed the plane and got the slightly injured Josie in an Ambulance, he was in the driver’s seat (with his trusty joystick, I might add).  Then that shit turned into a temporary Road Panic!  And then he died and the movie was over.

There’s really no reason to watch Air Panic.  I didn’t even have a reason to watch it, but I did and now you don’t have to.  The story is full of plot holes and annoyances, the look leaves something to be desired, and the greater majority of the performances were lackluster.  I don’t know why I watched it, and I don’t know why you would watch it.  So don’t bother.  Air Panic gets “The second worst disaster in aviation history” out of “With Bronson Pinchot as Two-Face.”

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 and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Menace II Society (1993)

Young, Black, and Didn’t Give a Fuck.

My friend Forty requested today’s movie a pretty good while back, but he and I have a history of watching movies together so that we can make jokes about them and it seemed only appropriate that he join me in the movie he requested.  But the first time we got together to watch today’s movie, I started getting horrible stomach pains the likes of which I had never felt before, causing me to cut our movie viewing short.  I managed to survive, unless I’m writing these reviews posthumously, but we had not gotten very far into the movie, so it remained on the table.  Forty recently had some time off, so we decided to get together and give it another shot.  The only question that remained was whether or not it was the movie causing my stomach pain.  If I finish this review, it probably was not the movie and was instead the Wendy’s that I ate the night before.  This movie is Menace II Society, written by Tyger Williams, directed by Allen and Albert Hughes, and starring Tyrin Turner, Larenz Tate, Jada Pinkett Smith, MC Eiht, Glenn Plummer, Clifton Powell, Arnold Johnson, Marilyn Coleman, Charles S. Dutton, Bill Duke, Too Short, and Samuel L. Jackson.

The movie starts with Caine Lawson (Tyrin Turner) and his friend O-Dog (Larenz Tate) going into a store to buy beer, but getting into a confrontation with the Korean storekeeper and his wife that ends in O-Dog gunning them both down and stealing the tape from the surveillance camera.  We then basically jump into the life of Caine and his friends in the ‘hood.  Caine deals drugs and lives with his grandparents (Arnold Johnson and Marilyn Coleman), while taking care of the child and ex-girlfriend of his imprisoned father figure Pernell (Glenn Plummer) named Ronnie (Jada Pinkett Smith).  At one point, Caine gets shot in the shoulder in a carjacking that ends in the death of his cousin.  Later, he gets arrested with O-Dog for trying to steal a car.  But then Ronnie asks Caine to move to Atlanta with her to start a new life, so everything will end up happily ever after, just like every story from crime-riddled neighborhoods does.

I had heard a lot about this movie in the past, but had never had inspiration to see it.  I probably figured that I couldn’t possibly relate to the characters in the movie as I didn’t grow up in bad neighborhoods, even though I did grow up in the meth capital of the world.  I was never really around that stuff though.  Now that I’ve actually seen the movie, I have my same problems with it as I do with most drama movies in that I found it good, but depressing, and I don’t like being bummed out in my movie experience.  But the movie was indeed good, but I couldn’t help seeing all of the occasions that it clearly and blatantly ripped off a movie I have seen, Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood.  My timeline may be off…  But if I get through the bummer, I enjoy the movie for what it is: a look at the life of some criminals in 1993-era Watts, and one that doesn’t deify or vilify the greater majority of the characters.  We understand on some level why they do what they do, even though we don’t condone it.  I feel like a good portion of the writing doesn’t really get that much respect out of me because of that; because it could easily be a true story, it’s just not based on anyone in particular.  And the dialogue certainly doesn’t deserve that much respect, because at least 80% of the words used in this movie are either the N-word or “fuck”.  I also see that Wikipedia says that it uses “fuck” or one of its derivatives 300 times in the movie, setting the record of most fucks per minute with 3.07 times per minute.  If I had noticed that sooner, I might have made my review try to set the record for fucks, but I’m not going back to add them now.  I also got the feeling that I wish they could have included subtitles in this movie for white folk, because I required a translator for the greater majority of the slang in the movie and Forty could only help so much.  There were a couple of things in the movie that I took issue with.  The first was right in the beginning with the shooting of the Korean couple.  I definitely didn’t take issue with the shooting of the Koreans, but I did take issue of what started it.  Why did the dude have to talk shit?  He said, “I don’t want no trouble,” mere seconds before talking shit about O-Dog’s parents and welcoming trouble with open arms.  I also took issue with O-Dog watching the tape of him killing them over and over again with his friends.  I don’t even have a joke for that.  It’s just crazy.  Of course, I also took issue with the whole attitude Caine has about his station in life, and it’s one that it seems most of the other characters have as well.  One of the characters says, “God don’t care about us.  Look how fucked up this place is.”  It was either O-Dog or Caine that said that (I can’t remember), but that is the most stupid things I’ve ever heard.  You’re going to blame God for that?  You and your friends occupy most of your time drinking, selling drugs, or killing people.  You sure are helping with the revitalization of your community, man.  And not only are you doing the horrible things, but you’ll occupy the rest of your time wearing the tape thin on the video of you doing horrible things, if you can’t find any to do at that moment.  One thing about this movie that did make total sense to me was that, being a black people movie, there would certainly be a prolonged shot at some random actress’ booty.  You did not let me down.

Most of the performances were very good in this movie, but Tyrin Turner never really worked for me, which was a shame because he was the main character.  In most circumstances in the movie he seemed to act as if he was trying too hard and not being realistic.  I first noticed it when he would check his pager.  Instead of just glancing at it, he chose to show that he was reading it as if he had no idea what he was looking at, as if it was reading the symbol for Prince’s name instead of “1 Page”.  It became a running joke for me through the movie to constantly make him say, “Yeah, that’s cool and everything.  I’m sorry, I’m just a little distracted trying to figure out what the fuck was paged to me earlier.  What the fuck does that gibberish mean?!”  His pronunciation of words also confused me more than once.  I had to try really hard to figure out what he meant when he demanded a guy’s “Jurry”.  I eventually figured out that he wanted the man’s “jewelry”.  It made much more sense after that.  I would give him credit for the fact that he was pretty convincing in the scenes when he seemed close to death and the scene where he was crying in the prison while talking to Pernell.  I thought Larenz Tate did a good job as O-Dog, but he did something that confused me as well.  I was confused by the fact that, even though all of these people were always a hair trigger away from killing someone, they still were brutal in the amount of shit they would talk to each other.  I don’t know how they hadn’t all killed each other.  O-Dog even mocked Caine for crying when they were taking him to the hospital as he was almost bleeding to death.  Samuel L. Jackson was also in this movie, and he gives a great performance that is VERY Samuel L. Jackson.  It’s the exact kind of performance he’s known for, like the Chappelle’s Show portrayal of him.  Also, would it have killed you to get Jada Pinkett Smith to wear something tight at some point in the movie?  She was young and pretty hot in this movie, but you couldn’t really tell because she was wearing Shaquille O’Neal’s street clothes for the bulk of the movie.

Even though it’s definitely not the type of movie I typically go for, Menace II Society was a really good movie.  If nothing else, it’s a good look at inner city gang violence and the people involved, and shows them unflinchingly and lets you reach your own conclusions about the message of the movie.  The greater majority of the performances are very real, but the main character seemed to be trying too hard for all but a few instances of quality.  I won’t typically recommend a movie that is such a bummer, but this is a good movie.  I’ll let you decide for yourselves if it’s something you need to see.  Menace II Society gets “We just havin’ some fun with the motherfuckin’ tape” out of “Teach him the way we grew up was bullshit.”

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 and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Empire Records (1995)

Listening to This Crap is Guaranteed to Make You Sterile.

I again found myself bored and out of ideas, and that’s a situation that can only be solved by my Netflix instant queue.  I don’t really remember putting today’s movie in the queue, but seeing me got me to thinking about it.  This is a movie I’ve felt like I should see for a while now, but never really had anything resembling interest in watching it beyond seeing a couple of hot actresses on the cover of the movie.  I feel like the movie was a popular one, but seeing a movie based strictly on attractive actresses has backfired on me more than once.  When looking at Rotten Tomatoes, I find that the legit critics say this movie sucks the balls, but the average Joe loves the thing.  It’s time yet again to see if I can count myself amongst the legitimate critics by reviewing Empire Records, written by Carol Heikkinen, directed by Allan Moyle, and starring Rory Cochrane, Anthony LaPaglia, Liv Tyler, Renée Zellweger, Johnny Whitworth, Robin Tunney, Ethan Embry, Maxwell Caulfield, Debi Mazar, Brendan Sexton III, Coyote Shivers, Ben Bodé, and James Wills.

Joe (Anthony LaPaglia), the owner of a small record store called Empire Records, has selected one of his employees, Lucas (Rory Cochrane), to close the store by himself for the first time.  In response to the trust instilled in him, Lucas takes $9,000 from the night’s deposit and takes it to Atlantic City, where he promptly loses it all.  Joe needs to figure out how to react to this.  Also going on, a famous pop star named Rex Manning (Maxwell Caulfield) is coming to sign autographs at the store, a cashier named Corey (Liv Tyler) has decided to give herself to him, A.J. (Johnny Whitworth) decides he’s in love with Corey, they catch a shoplifter that only identifies himself as Warren Beatty (Brendan Sexton III), another employee named Deb (Robin Tunney) has tried to kill herself, employee Mark (Ethan Embry) is an idiot, and employee Gina (Renée Zellweger) is a slut.

YAY!  I’m a real critic!  This movie sucks.  I’m pretty sure it’s intentions were towards comedy, but it failed all the way through.  All it really managed to be was a collection of stories that weren’t that interesting from various Gen-Xers that work in a record store.  It’s kind of like Clerks if Kevin Smith wasn’t funny.  None of the various stories were ever interesting, and most of them got on my nerves.  The main story was the story between Lucas and Joe about the $9,000.  I started off annoyed with it because, as someone who has worked for many years in a similar industry, it’s stupid to let someone in the store after it’s closed.  Yeah, maybe that weird lady would buy something for $20, or maybe she could fuck off and come back the next day.  I guarantee there’s nothing that you “need” in that store, and your “wants” can wait.  I don’t know if it’s a sign of my slowly advancing age, but I sided with Joe towards the beginning of the movie.  This little dipshit stole $9,000!  I would probably beat the shit out of him, get him arrested, and probably fire Gina for thinking it was funny enough to make jokes about it.  You can fight the man from in prison, where you’ll actually be fighting the man away from your butthole.  But this movie is trying to have some Gen-X vibe to it, so he instead changes into a cool guy by the end of the movie and everything works out miraculously in the last 5 minutes.  The next big story was the Corey/Gina/AJ/Rex Manning story.  Corey wanted to fuck Rex, but when he was about to whip it out she left to go cry on the roof.  Then Corey calls Gina a slut (because she was).  As a slut, her only reaction to anything in life is to go and fuck someone, and that’s just happens to be Rex.  Then Corey and Gina get mad at each other, but their relationship is fixed when later Corey has a big revelation that she idolizes the slutbag for her free spirit … and free pussy, I suppose.  That’s a great message, and I thank you for being the one brave enough to tell it.  I don’t even know how the situation came up in the first place.  Rex Manning was clearly gay as he looked like the lovechild of Liberace and Rick Astley.  Also, no one in a self-respecting, hipster record store would have time to do anything but hate someone like Rex Manning.  The other big story in the movie was the suicidal Deb.  That story also wouldn’t have worked out well if I were around.  Right after she randomly shaved her head while looking in the mirror like Jodie Foster in the Accused, and then someone pointed out her wrapped up wrist from where she tried to slice, her side of the movie would be over.  I would’ve instantly written her off as an attention starved twat and recommended she try again with a better blade.  Either she would shut up or she would succeed.  Either way, I win.  The music in the movie was one of its few saving graces, but I would expect that from this kind of movie.  Otherwise, the only thing about the movie I enjoyed was the nostalgia of seeing a Super Nintendo and a first gen Gameboy in the movie.

Even the performances in the movie were hit or miss for me.  The people were either irritating or hot.  Sometimes both.  Rory Chochrane’s character was either cocky or stupid.  Possibly both, but definitely annoying.  As was Ethan Embry, but he was definitely playing it stupid.  I really liked Renée Zellweger in this movie, but only because it’s the first time I can remember ever thinking she was attractive.  I found her so attractive that I didn’t even really know it was her.  I thought it was Joey Lauren Adams without the annoying voice.  But she was really hot in the movie, and generally just wearing a really short skirt, or even less.  I did get a little annoyed with her character near the end when she was singing backup with the band on the roof of the record store, but only because she got all scared when the singer told her to take the lead.  Bitch, you were just singing in front of a crowd like 20 seconds ago.  What’s the difference?  Debi Mazar’s character was a source of irritation for me.  She’s a seemingly successful manager for Rex Manning, but she gets all embarrassed when the minimum wage fucks at a record store are laughing at her because she works for a joke like Rex Manning.  I would’ve laughed right back at them because I make so much more money working for a joke than they do in the respectable job of record monkey.  They take a different path.  They go all “Fight the man” on us and have her quit and decide she wants to date the owner of a record store.

I side with the critics on this one.  Empire Records is not a good movie.  It’s a disjointed and uninteresting story peppered with failed attempts at comedy, and serves only to show us today that people in ’95 thought Gen-X people were so cool.  We call them hipsters now and proceed to ignore and/or mock them.  The only things I really liked in this movie was that it was the only time I’ve ever found Renée Zellweger attractive, Liv Tyler continues to be attractive, and Robin Tunney is attractive for 12 seconds and then cuts her hair like Jodie Foster in the Accused.  Skip this movie, or at least explain to me why I should have liked it.  Because I don’t get it.  Empire Records gets “I tried to kill myself with a Lady Bic” out of “You deserved that.  You know that?”

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 and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.