Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)


Listen All! This is the Truth of It.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)I haven’t had a great deal of luck with the Mad Max series, but like a Band-Aid, it’s best to just do them all as quickly as possible and move one. I felt that the first two were entirely overrated, but the second one was much more watchable. And though today’s Mad Max movie is the lowest rated of the series, Rotten Tomatoes and I have been at opposites over the series so far, so it makes me hopeful. Well, there’s only one way to find out. I must review Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, written and directed by George Miller, co-written by Terry Hayes, co-directed by George Ogilvie, and starring Mel Gibson, Tina Turner, Angelo Rossitto, Paul Larsson, Bruce Spence, Angry Anderson, Helen Buday, Tom Jennings, Robert Grubb, Frank Thring, and Hedwin Hodgeman.

Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) makes his way to a small, sleazy community in the middle of the wasteland called Bartertown. On the surface, the town is run by Aunty Entity (Tina Turner), but the electricity is controlled by Master (Angelo Rossitto) and his muscle Blaster (Paul Larsson), who maintains his control by placing embargoes on the energy to show who is actually in control. Aunty hires Max to kill Blaster, leaving Master powerless and under her thumb. Max challenges Blaster to a fight in the titular Thunderdome and defeats him, but he refuses to kill him when he realizes that he’s mentally disabled. Everyone else is not so kind and they kill Blaster, but decide to exile Max into the wasteland for reneging on their deal.

As I suspected, I appreciated this movie more than I liked any of the other movies in the Mad Max series. Rotten Tomatoes and I will forever be at odds on this. The story of this movie was nothing special, but it was coherent and more along the lines of what I expected. It’s pretty much just a straight forward action movie. As little as I cared for the stories in the other movies, I did take issue with the fact that this movie seemed to completely disregard the history of the series. Road Warrior ends saying that it was the last time any of them saw Max, that Jedediah took over as the leader of the tribe, and that the feral kid took over after his death. The very first thing this movie does is have Jedediah and his son rob Max, and they see him a few other times later. So it wasn’t the last time they saw him, apparently. Also, Jedediah is a pretty shitty leader because the tribe is never seen, even though he is a few times, so he’s at least neglecting his duties. And I’d even say it was unlikely that the feral kid would take over for the former leader when that leader has a lineage. So fuck that last movie, I guess. I mean, I agree with that sentiment, but they’re the ones building on that legacy. They should show respect for the movies that came before them. The next time I got mad at the movie was at Max himself. When he defeated Blaster and stopped before killing him, my anger was twofold. The first problem was that he refused to do it. Why?! Okay sure, he does have a mongoloid baby face. That would add a level of emotional difficulty. But he was just trying to kill you. And if you let him back up, he will probably try to do it again. Secondly, that you turn to Aunty Entity and proclaim, “This wasn’t part of the deal!” What are you talking about?! The deal was for you to kill Blaster. That is EXACTLY the deal! Verbatim! Technically, I guess there was a third problem with that situation in that the fight was super goofy. Two mother fuckers fighting a serious battle to the death bouncing around one of those spherical jungle gyms on rubber bands? That is the definition of badass. Or the opposite. I’m not entirely sure right now. The movie actually found a way to get goofier when Max shows up at the village of the tribe of kids, but mainly because it felt like it was becoming Hook. Granted, Hook came a long time after this movie, but it was also a comedy/family movie. Not a post-apocalyptic action movie.

I really have nothing to say about the performances in this movie. They weren’t bad and they weren’t fantastic, but none even bothered to give me any material to make jokes about. Tina Turner did fine enough, but the highlight of her contribution to the movie was that “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)” song. Also (and I’m not entirely sure why) I found Helen Buday strangely attractive. I’ll have to look into that.

I thought Beyond Thunderdome was the best of the Mad Max movies, but I also don’t really get the appeal of the series. The story remained nothing special, but it was at least more coherent and more in line with what I’d expect out of an action movie. The action was good enough, but I find the rubber band jungle gym fight to be leaning more towards goofy than anything else. I can’t honestly recommend any of the Mad Max series, but this one was the better of the group. They could well have been epic when they came out, but I don’t think they’ve held up. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome gets “Congratulations! You’re the first to survive the audition!” out of “Two men enter, one man leave!”

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Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)


Whatever You Do, Don’t Eat the Fuckin’ Candy

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)It had started to occur to me that I had not actually made it to the theaters this year.  There were movies out that I wanted to see, but I either never had the time or it just slipped my mind.  There’s also a chance that I was too busy making love to beautiful women all month to get to the theaters.  That one seems like it’s the most likely.  Having pleased enough beautiful women to meet most men’s lifetime quota, I finally decided to take a little me time and go to the cinemas.  I was shocked to find that the cinema I usually go to had been purchased by another theater company, but thankfully they still do movies for $5, enabling me to make a double feature out of my day.  Unfortunately, the two movies that I was able to catch in the time I had allotted were not Zero Dark Thirty.  That will have to wait.  For now, let’s talk about Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, co-written and directed by Tommy Wirkola, co-written by Dante Harper, and starring Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Pihla Viitala, Cedric Eich, Alea Sophia Boudodimos, Thomas Mann, Robin Atkin Downes, Derek Mears, Peter Stormare, and Rainer Bock.

Two children named Hansel (Cedric Eich) and Gretel (Alea Sophia Boudodimos) are abandoned by their father in the woods.  They make their way to a gingerbread house where they are captured by a witch who intends to eat them.  They manage to throw her into the oven.  But we all knew that part.  What we may not know is what happens later.  Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) grow up to be famous, witch-specializing bounty hunters.  They are hired by a town called Augsburg, and arrive just in time to prevent Sheriff Berringer (Peter Stormare) from wrongly executing a woman he believes to be a dark witch.  Hansel and Gretel then set about discovering the reason behind the disappearance of six boys and five girls, and sightings of a Grand Witch named Muriel (Famke Janssen).  Also, I’m not positive, but I think a Grand Witch is the female version of a Grand Wizard.

Can I paste my review for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter here and call this a day?  Truthfully, this movie was much better than AL:VH, and much less crazy of an idea, but they do seem comparable to each other in title at least.  I guess the premise of the movie isn’t nearly as crazy since it seems to be a possible future for Hansel and Gretel to grow up to hunt witches and no one in their right mind would make the leap from Abraham Lincoln to vampires.  And just as it wasn’t a difficult leap to make to have Hansel and Gretel grow up to be witch hunters, the story of this movie made no difficult jumps.  It was all pretty standard.  The story serves mostly as a way to get from one silly situation to another bloody fight until the filmmakers have blown their load and lit a cigarette in celebration of their mediocre performance.  I can relate to that.  But, even though the experience is relatively unsatisfying either way, at least with me it can be a little bit of fun.   It had a bit of laughs to it, but nothing worth watching it for.  Now I’m not sure whether I’m still talking about my penis or not…

The look and the action were altogether unimpressive.  They had a lot of blood, but nothing interesting making it come out of the bodies.  Fist fights were really average and the gun stuff was simply aim and shoot with no flare.  The troll in the movie looked pretty goofy in daylight, but it also was the only thing in the movie that had a good fight in daylight, so I’ll call the troll a “push.”  There was a broom race through the forest at the end of the movie that reminded me of the scene on Endor from Return of the Jedi.  Also, the music that opened the movie seemed like it was ripped straight out of Sherlock Holmes.

The performances were mostly okay.  No one blew me away, but they didn’t suck.  I did think of questionable things about them though.  First off, Jeremy Renner as Hansel is a diabetic?  Is that really going to be a pointless subplot?  They don’t say he’s a diabetic, but he got it from eating too much candy and he has to inject himself whenever the movie realizes that it forgot about that subplot or else his foot falls off or whatever happens.  Also, you’ll come to find pretty quickly that Jeremy Renner loves to pose with his gun resting on his shoulder.  It’s like his favorite thing.  Gemma Arterton is fine, it’s true, but she perhaps needs some more practice before playing an action character in the future.  She threw some pretty unconvincing punches.  I also thought Famke Janssen was a pretty useless addition to this movie.  She also did a fine enough job, but why make her a witch?  I’m sure there are people that are cheaper to get into your movie than Famke and, when you get her, she spends the greater majority of the movie all uglied up and witchy, completely unrecognizable.

I felt like this movie was either going to be nothing to write home about, extremely lame, or fun and awesome.  Unfortunately they chose the former.  It’s okay.  It has a super basic story, limited amount of laughs, and unimpressive action.  This movie could’ve been more fun with a little more comedy and some better choreographed action.  It’s not a bad movie, and one you wouldn’t be too bad off if you rented, but there’s not really any good reason to go to a theater for it.  Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters gets “I say burn them all!” out of “Cutting off her head tends to work.”

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Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)


I’m Just Here for the Gasoline

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)When I went into watching Mad Max, I was very excited.  I had a mad hankerin’ to watch that movie.  That did not work out well for me.  But I was already committed, and I already own the sequel, so what was I to do?  Obviously, I was to continue reviewing!  I was also not very comforted when I saw that this movie has an even higher rating than the first movie, even though this movie has a perfect 100%.  The super high rating that the first movie got didn’t help me, why would it change anything for this one?  Am I going to be the first professional critic to hate this movie?  There’s only one way to find out.  Let’s review The Road Warrior, aka Mad Max 2, written by Terry Hayes and Brian Hannant, co-written and directed by George Miller, and starring Mel Gibson, Kjell Nilsson, Michael Preston, Bruce Spence, Emil Minty, Vernon Wells, Virginia Hey, Arkie Whiteley, and Max Phipps.

The world is, like, so dystopian it’s like not even funny.  Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) has kept on truckin’ around the wastelands of Australia in a seemingly endless hunt for fuel that he uses to power his car to further search for fuel.  Eventually, he comes across the captain of an autogyro (it’s like a helicopter thing … also he’s played by Bruce Spence), who he takes as his prisoner when the pilot tells him of a community with nearly unlimited funds of fuel.  While surveying the community, Max finds that they’re being threatened by a gang lead by ‘roided out Jason Voorhees called “The Humungus” (Kjell Nilsson).  Max gets inside and makes a deal with their leader, Pappagallo (Michael Preston), to bring them a semi-truck that they can use to carry their fuel north to safer lands.

I agree with Rotten Tomatoes insomuch as I feel this movie was better than the first one.  It was okay, but I still don’t think it’s earned that 100%.  The story was less confusing, though no more atypical.  At least it wasn’t as best I could tell, because parts of the movie seemed disinterested in allowing you to hear the dialogue.  There were parts of the movie that I only realized were intended to be dialogue because the subtitles were on.  Then the story was decent enough, but nothing spectacular.  It was just Max wanting to find a truck so he could get gas for his car.  The action was still decent, and this time they added a few action scenes that were more up my alley: gun-shooting and face-punching!  So I found it more interesting in that respect as well.

One problem I had with the first movie is that Max was always set up to be such a badass in my mind and I never really saw in that movie.  He gets to do a little bit more of that here.  At first, he’s a pretty simple lone wolf type character that just wants to be left alone.  Not a very charismatic character choice to be sure, but it works for the badass part.  Then he starts getting his heroic notions towards the very end of the movie, and that unleashes more of his badassness.  I was also a little excited to see Bruce Spence in this movie, but mainly just because I recognized him from Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.  His character in the movie came a little too close to comic relief for my tastes for me to really enjoy that part of it.  Emil Minty’s character confused me too.  He was basically a little monkey boy with a boomerang.  I didn’t find him particularly compelling, which I feel like they could have fixed if they gave us a little backstory about why he was a feral little boy that hung out with people all the time.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior is a start on the path towards being what I actually expected the Mad Max movies to be.  The story is okay, but nothing special.  The action was decent, and the world finally looked like a dystopia instead of just looking like Australia.  And Max finally started to act like a badass and not just a regular dude that was a little upset with the world.  There were some sound issues with the movie, but the movie itself was sound.  I would not necessarily recommend this movie for a watch just because you might want to watch the first movie first, and I still don’t recommend that.  Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior gets “It’s MY snake.  I trained it; I’m gonna eat it!” out of “I am gravely disappointed.”

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Skyfall (2012)


Less of a Random Killing Machine, More of a Personal Statement

Skyfall (2012)Today’s review is an admission of guilt on my part. I saw this movie in theaters about three months ago and, even though my sister indicated that she was intrigued to find my opinion about this movie, I completely forgot to give it. And, after three months, the drink and drug affected my brain so much that I completely forgot I had a sister. Oh wait, I mean I forgot to review this movie. And it was even more important because old what’s-her-name wanted to hear my opinion. Well, it turns out I had waited long enough to review this movie that it’s already been released on DVD. And so I am finally able to bring you my review of Skyfall, written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan, directed by Sam Mendes, and starring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Rory Kinnear, and Ben Whishaw.

A MI6 agent on his Majesty’s secret service by the name of James Bond (Daniel Craig) is on assignment with another agent named Eve (Naomie Harris). They’re in pursuit of a mercenary that has stolen a hard drive containing the NOC list from the first Mission Impossible movie, containing the identity of all the undercover agents in the world. While trying to get the hard drive back, Eve inadvertently shoots Bond, allowing the mercenary to escape. The death of James Bond sends shockwaves through MI6. Eve is suspended to a desk job and Chairman Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) suggests that it’s time for the head of MI6, M (Judi Dench), to retire. On her way back to her office, M finds that someone has hacked her computer, sending her a taunting message and blowing up her office. James, who has been banging women and drinking a lot, learns of the attacks and returns to duty, regardless of his injury. M approves him for duty even though his test results do not, and Bond sets about finding out who was behind this. Psst! It was Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem).

Now, I’m not really sure what old what’s-her-name thought about this movie, so I don’t know what her opinion was. Not that it would change mine, but I would at least have bullet points to argue with her if I knew. I liked this movie, I like the greater majority of the Bond movies, and I like the Daniel Craig ones most of all. I know a lot of Bond fanatics probably wouldn’t be down with that sentiment, but I like action movies more than I like suave spy movies, and the Daniel Craig ones meet that description much better. But that’s not to say this movie didn’t have its share of problems. The first thing that occurred to me was that the bad guy could post his video of the undercover agents on YouTube. One of my videos is still not allowed to be monetized because I infringed on copyrights in their opinion! And that didn’t get anybody killed! YouTube needs to get their shit together. Also, I know these new Bond movies want to set themselves apart like the Batman Begins of the Bond movies, being darker and more realistic. And, though I appreciate the shout outs to things that Bond fans would appreciate, they had a couple of “fuck you” parts that they shouldn’t leave in. It’s like in the first X-Men movie when Cyclops joked about how dumb they’d look if they were wearing yellow and blue tights. In this one, Q jokes about not having exploding pens because that would be so dumb. You know the Bond fans that are supporting your movies are probably not going to enjoy you saying that the things they liked were stupid, right? The name of the movie was also an annoyance to me. I had no idea what they meant by Skyfall when I saw the title. I didn’t know what it meant when it came up in the psychiatric evaluation. And when I found out it was Bond’s house, I was really let down. Especially when they go all Kevin McCallister with it, setting up traps like it’s Home Alone. I see this too often in movies that are trying to take themselves seriously recently. I heard a lot of complaining about this movie about how it was too M heavy, but I didn’t really see that. I understand the complaints that everyone always thinks what Bond is doing is reckless and crazy, but he also has saved the world about 23 times already and people should just get off his sack. But with the M thing, I assume Dench was ready to get out of these action movies since she’s pushing 80 now, and they wanted an emotionally resonant way to do that. I feel they accomplished that.

I was cool with the action and the look of the movie, but I could’ve used some more action. It made me laugh that they started the movie with Bond being visually obscured and then revealing only his eyes at first, as if we were supposed to not know who he was when you played the music score when he walked into frame. But that didn’t make me laugh as much as when this super spy was in a car chase with these bad guys and they pulled their car up right next to the villain in his car, and Bond’s big idea was to ram his car instead of maybe grabbing the gun that we know he has and shooting the guy with it. He could’ve put it point blank against the guy’s temple they were so close! Instead he chose the equivalent in effectiveness of reaching over and flicking his ear, which he could have done because he was so close to the guy. I also liked that they had a chase through a bazaar in Istanbul because I’m pretty sure I recognized it from one of the Assassin’s Creed games. And no, I don’t think it’s at all pathetic that I can only recognize famous global landmarks because I’ve been there in video games. I know what the Eiffel Tower is because it was in the fourth Alien movie and one of the National Treasures too! …Also I’ve been there. I liked the opening though. It was action-packed and a great way to start a movie. Then they go into those classic Bond-style credit sequences with that cool Adele song playing. How do they still come up with those crazy credit sequences when LSD isn’t as popular anymore?

The cast was all pretty good in this movie. Daniel Craig is a pretty awesome Bond, and I’m told he’s attractive as well. I felt like his one-liners weren’t nearly as good in this one as they have been in the past, but that’s not really his fault as much as it is the writers fault. Another thing they did with his character was only use the fact that he wasn’t as good of a shot anymore when they needed it. Twice in the movie they show him not being able to hit anything with a gun, but you put a shotgun in his hand and take him back to Skyfall and he’s a champion skeet shooter. Javier Bardem made a strange choice for the villain. I don’t think they’ve had a flamboyantly gay villain before. Besides Nick Nack. And sure, he didn’t SAY he was gay, but come on… At first I thought he was kind of laughable as a villain, and then he did that William Tell thing with the sexy chick and the shot glass. That was pretty fucked up. Even more so because she was hot. And then he pulled out his dentures and told his sob story and I was kind of in with his performance. Naomie Harris also did a good job in the movie, and was nice to look at throughout (although I still maintain that she hasn’t topped her hotness in Pirates of the Caribbean yet), but was it really supposed to be a surprise when she said her last name? Could people not have guessed that when they had her in the secretary’s office? I’m not even the biggest Bond fan and I figured that one out.

Skyfall was a good movie with its share of problems, but not enough that it would hinder my enjoyment. Solid story, decent action, and good performances. They had some things that didn’t make sense, and some of the one-liners fell short, but I enjoyed the experience. I saw this in theaters, bought it post haste on BluRay, and will look forward to Daniel Craig’s next outing as Bond. Skyfall gets “Enjoying death” out of “I say ‘Day’ and you might say …’ ‘Wasted.’”

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Brave (2012)


I am Merida, and I’ll be Shooting for My Own Hand

Brave (2012)I have a very strong feeling that today’s movie was officially requested of me. I feel like my friend Christina Moscoscamosco did it. It may also have been my roommate Richurd. My interest was originally piqued in this movie because of Black Friday. Whilst working on Black Friday, this movie was playing in the break room. I only managed to catch about a half hour of it on my lunch before going back into the madness which is people for the most mediocre deals. Eventually, I borrowed it from my roommate with the intention of filling in the gaps I had from my brief viewing. It took up its perch in a pile of movies I had to watch and was promptly forgotten. At least until Richurd started pestering me to watch the damn thing already. And, since I’m terrified of his wrath, I present you my review of Brave, brought to you by the great people at Disney Pixar, written by Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman, and Irene Mecchi, directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, and including the vocal talents of Kelly MacDonald, Peigi Barker, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Callum O’Neill, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Steven Cree, Sally Kinghorn, Steve Purcell, and John Ratzenberger.

In Scotland, the family of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) – Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) and young Princess Merida (Peigi Barker) – are out on a picnic for Merida’s birthday. After giving Merida a gift of a bow, the family is attacked by a giant bear called Mor’du. Fergus fights off the bear at the cost of his foot. Later in life, now at age 17, Merida (Kelly MacDonald) is distraught to find that she is to be betrothed to one of the sons of the kings of the other three kingdoms. Merida and Elinor fight over it, ending with Merida slicing a tapestry Elinor had been working on with a sword and running away from the castle. Merida encounters a witch (Julie Walters) who has given up witchcraft for wood-carving. Merida pleads with the witch to give her a spell that will “change her mother and her fate,” having no care for the vagueness of the way she phrased that. The witch presents Merida with a cake to give to her mother. Blah blah blah, happily ever after.

I know the abrupt ending of that paragraph may have led you to believe I didn’t care for this movie. Not the case at all. This was a really good movie (as the greater majority of things that Pixar creates), but it was not without its problems. The story is probably the only thing I took issue with, but only because it’s so typical for Disney. It’s almost exactly the same story as every other Disney princess. Princess not getting along with her parents because of her responsibilities (Ariel, Jasmine, Pocahontas) and she’s a little tomboyish and a bit of a warrior (Mulan) and then her shit gets fucked up by a magician (Snow White, Aurora, Ariel) and it gets fixed when the beast gives its life for her (Belle). Also she hangs out with little people (Snow White) and she’s black (Tiana). Okay, I didn’t see the Princess and the Frog. But I wouldn’t call this movie derivative because I liked it. Let’s just call it “classic.” It has no real surprises, but I was happy with the slight modernization that Pixar added to it by not having the movie end when the Princess met the man of her dreams. Pretty much every Disney Princess movie ends with that, regardless of how free-spirited the character is supposed to be. After that, the only thing close to an issue I had with the movie was that the greater majority of the humor was slapstick, but that’s not even a complaint I’m that resolute with because it is a kid’s movie after all.

It’s a Pixar movie. Just saying that means that it looks fantastic. And this is one of the better looking ones too. They went cartoony with the characters, but they still looked good, and going too realistic with the characters runs you close to the danger of making them weird looking. I thought there was a chance that the bear Mor’du may have been a little too scary for children, and I base that mostly on the fact that it might have been too scary for me. They make those characters perform really well too. I really liked the body language that the momma bear has. That’s what gave me the most laughs in the movie. Also, the momma bear had a little shimmy to go with her shake when she was walking. Another thing worth mentioning is the music. It was kind of pop/Celtic musical stuff, but I really liked it. I wouldn’t be opposed to getting the soundtrack to this movie.

I never really know what to say about the performances in an animated movie. Most times the vocal cast does great jobs in these movies. They continued to do so here. And I love a Scottish accent. I wanted to fuck every accent in this movie. Especially Billy Connolly. I also thought the witch character was pretty amusing, and it amused me even more when I later found out that she was voice by Molly Weasley. I had a few issues with the Merida character though. Granted, there would not be much of a conflict and resolution in this movie without the enchanted cake, but how short-sighted was she to give it to her mom in the first place? Her wish was extremely vaguely worded in the first place. All you really asked was that the cake change your fate. Hell, I could do that for you without magic by putting a razor blade in the cake. That’d change your mom up but good! And you didn’t get much brighter when the witch gave you the solution to the spell. I figured that shit out right away. I am SO much smarter than you, Merida! Then later, when she gets trapped in the room and her father goes out to kill the bear, she tries to get out briefly and then gives up and starts crying. If you would just be a proper woman and get to sewing, that bear would turn back to human and your problem would be solved!

I managed to infuse a review of a Disney Pixar movie with cursing, mild racism, and sexism. I’m actually kind of proud of myself for that. Brave was a good movie, but they didn’t really bother to try anything that new in the story. If all Disney Princesses must have vaginas and share many common plot points, Merida will make a fine addition. But, even with that as the case, the movie is beautiful and the story is still charming. Perhaps most of the charm comes from those sweet, sweet Scottish accents, but I feel like the movie did a good job of it as well. This is a movie that you should definitely watch if you have kids, and probably should watch if you don’t. Brave gets “A princess should not have weapons at all in my opinion” out of “I think I could make you understand if you would just listen.”

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Mad Max (1979)


I’m a Fuel-Injected Suicide Machine

Mad Max (1979)I cannot justify my reasons for deciding to watch today’s movie.  I doubt there was even a reason, now that I think about it.  However it happened, I got it into my mind that I absolutely needed to watch a movie that I can only assume that I’ve seen before because I own the DVD’s.  And, because of my OCD, watching this movie also meant that I’d need to watch the other two movies in the trilogy.  But we’ll get to those later.  Today, we’re going to talk about Mad Max, written by James McCausland, revised by Byron Kennedy, directed and co-written by George Miller, and starring Mel Gibson, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Roger Ward, Joanne Samuel, Steve Bisley, Geoff Parry, Tim Burns, and Brendan Heath.

A crazed gang member is killed while trying to escape the custody of the MFP (Main Force Patrol), run down by the MFP (the Mother Fuckin’ Police)’s top pursuit man, Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson).  Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and Bubba Zanetti (Geoff Parry), the leaders of the dead gang member, do not take too kindly to one of their ilk being so much less alive, so they take to running wild over a town, killing, raping, and destroying.  The MFP (More Food Please) comes across the scene later, finding Toecutter’s young ward, Johnny “the Boy” Boyle (Tim Burns), who was too high to leave the scene, and MFP (Miscellaneous Foot Powder) officer Goose (Steve Bisley) arrests him.  Toecutter steps his revenge game up, going after Max’s friend Goose, Max’s wife Jessie (Joanne Samuel), and Max’s son Sprog (Brendan Heath).  One could safely make the assumption that this will make Max a little upset.

This movie perplexes me.  Not only have I only ever heard about it in hushed, reverent tones, but it has a freakin’ 95% on Rotten Tomatoes.  I just don’t get it.  I don’t suppose I’d call the movie “bad,” but I certainly wouldn’t say I liked it.  The only thing it really has going for it is some cool car stunts.  I don’t even know if I could talk about the story because I’d be hesitant to say that it really has much of a story.  He’s a cop, Goose gets burned alive, other stuff happens, he gets revenge.  And they didn’t even go for the “your Goose is cooked” joke that I so hoped for!   I know this is a reference that few will get, but it really reminded me of the movie Sidehackers, just set in “dystopian” Australia.  Hell, Max doesn’t even really get “Mad” until the last 20 minutes of the movie!  It spends so much time building up to something and then remembers that it has to wrap the movie up, so it uses the last 10 minutes to KINDA end it.  But it felt rushed and unsatisfying.  I guess that’s why they made two sequels.

I guess what a lot of people have to be so on about in this movie is the action, but I didn’t even find myself entirely interested in that.  I may have found the movie more enjoyable if I ever cared about things involving cars and motorcycles, but I don’t.  My idea of action is more shooting guns and punching faces than making one car kiss the bumper of another car until the first car inexplicably loses control and hits something, exploding in a fiery wreck.  They did have a couple of good stunts that I was impressed by, without actually liking that much.  I realize this movie had a fairly low budget, so when people fly off of vehicles and hit the ground, some stunt people probably really risked their health doing that stuff.  Heck, there was one part at the end of the movie where two guys fall off motorcycles in tandem and one motorcycle hits the other dude in the head.  Good work stuntmen, but I’m still not into it.  Also, I thought this movie was all about a dystopian future.  It didn’t even look that dystopian!  It looked like roughly what I thought Australia looked like anyway.  At least the more outskirts areas of Australia.

Guess what else didn’t really do it for me?  The performances.  There were about two people in this movie that didn’t just go crazy over the top with their performances.  Mel Gibson and Joanne Samuel didn’t really chew the scenery, but Hugh Keays-Byrne, Tim Burns, Roger Ward, and even Steve Bisley were just crazy strange characterizations that I did not enjoy watching.  I also kind of expected Mel to come off as a total badass in this movie, especially when he starts on his revenge at the end.  The movie even sets Mel up like he’s an epic badass, giving him 12 minutes of setup before his big reveal.  But even towards the end, he never really reached badass status with me.  Maybe in the very last scene he was a little badass, but I wanted so much more.

Expectations may have hurt this movie more than anything else for me, but I was very disappointed in Mad Max.  It’s so critically acclaimed and has achieved such cult status, but all of that is lost on me.  It’s a confusing and disjointed story with characters so over the top that they can’t even see the top anymore.  In my opinion, it’s saved only by some impressive stunts.  But that does not make enough of a movie for me.  Sure, this movie gave the world Mel Gibson, but that’s only worked out about half the time anyway, hasn’t it?  I don’t recommend this movie, but everyone else seems to.  Mad Max gets “I just can’t get it clear in my head” out of “You gotta admit, I sounded good there for a minute, huh?”

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Dredd (2012)


Ma-Ma is Not the Law … I Am the Law.

Dredd (2012)Reviewing Total Recall got me thinking about another recent remake that I thought would suck.  Much like Total Recall, the original movie was a dumb, campy action movie starring one of the biggest action stars in history and, like Total Recall, it was a movie that I didn’t like nearly as much as everyone else seemed to.  I’m not really that forgiving of camp.  It can make a movie watchable, but not really re-watchable.  I just want to watch it once to laugh at it.  So, when they remake a movie like this, do they go heavy after that camp appeal, or do they instead try to make a badass action movie?  And do they succeed at either one of those things?  We’ll find out as I review Dredd, based on the British comic 2000 AD, created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, written by Alex Garland, directed by Pete Travis, and starring Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Wood Harris, Domhnall Gleeson, and Warrick Grier.

The future (as always) is bad times.  Most of the United States has become Fallout 3 and there is one city remaining called Mega-City One, where people do not typically get along.  To fix that problem (as well as making the judicial system more efficient), the police have been made into Judges, who are judge, jury, and executioner all in one.  A new drug that slows the user’s perception of time to 1% of normal (called “Slo-Mo”) is running rampant, dealt mainly by a ruthless drug lord named Madeline Madrigal, or “Ma-Ma” (Lena Headey), who punishes rival drug dealers by skinning them, giving them Slo-Mo, and throwing them from the top of a 200-story building.  Lead badass Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is sent in to deal with the situation, bringing along potential recruit Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), who has failed her aptitude tests, but still gets a shot because she’s a very powerful psychic.  When they arrive, Ma-Ma has her computer expert (Domhnall Gleeson) lock down the building, turning this shit into The Raid: Redemption.  Quasi-plagiarism is against the law, Dredd.  I guess that doesn’t matter.  After all, he IS the law.

I like to try to go into any movie with an open mind.  I usually try, but usually fail.  So I went into this movie pointing out a bunch of things that annoyed me, but we’ll get to those later.  We’ll get to those later because this movie was actually pretty badass and, much like the remake of Total Recall, blew the original bullshit out of the water.  And, by “original bullshit,” I mean the Stallone movie because I’ve never read the comic book.  The story didn’t annoy me or impress me, but it was leaning more towards good than bad.  It was just simple.  It really was basically The Raid: Redemption with Karl Urban in it.  But The Raid was awesome, and that still translates somewhat into this.  I guess there were some problems with the story though.  I took issue with the fact that Cassandra was in the situation that she was in.  I didn’t dislike the character, but she’s a psychic and she can’t pass her aptitude tests?  She seemed physically capable of the job, so I assume it was the Scantron section of the tests.  Were there no Asians in the class she could psychically glean the answers from?

The action in this movie was fantastic, and the visual effects were great, with only minor problems.  The action was great, and the violence was WAY over the top, but it was sweet.  Visually, the movie worked very well, but the Slo-Mo effects started to bother me after a while.  It looked good enough, but I started thinking that they chose this drug to pad out their movie because they didn’t really write enough of a story.  I also thought the drug didn’t really make sense.  I mean, it’s brutal to slow down perception of time when throwing someone over a balcony of a 200-story building, but what good does it do for regular times?  I could understand the appeal of a drug that allowed you to move through the world as if it was slowed down to 1% because you’d be able to get a lot more shit done, but just have it seem slower as you’re sitting around in a bathtub?  That feels boring.

The performances in this movie aren’t going to be winning any awards, but they do exactly what they set out to do.  Karl Urban is a fuckin’ boss.  End of story.  Olivia Thirlby did a good job, but I admit that I was scarcely paying attention to her performance.  I was too busy enjoying her hotness.  Lena Headey was in the movie too, and she performed adequately, but I was bummed out that they decided to ugly her up with a lesbo haircut and a gnarly scar across her normally pretty face.  I prefer to remember her face unscathed as it was in 300.  Also, Domhnall Gleeson is in this movie.  He did fine, and it’s cool that I recognized him from Harry Potter, but I really only mention him here because I hate myself and I wanted to punish myself for nothing in particular by making myself type his name again.

When I went into Dredd, I was wondering if it would even notice if I gave it a ‘D’ in my review because it already has three.  *Insert rimshot here*  But it doesn’t matter, because I’ll give it something it doesn’t already have, like a B or something.  This version of Dredd is way better than the original, corny version of the character.  Decent story, great action, Karl Urban is a boss, and the other performances were solid as well.  Definitely worth checking out.  I’ll probably be purchasing the movie on Blu-Ray.  Dredd gets “Judgement time” out of “The perps were uncooperative.”

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Total Recall (2012)


Trust Me, Baby, You’re Gonna Wish You Had Three Hands.

Total Recall (2012)Remakes get a really bad rap. But, most of the time, they deserve them. Remakes are usually a sign that Hollywood has run out of ideas and must dig into movies that have already been made instead of supporting a new idea. It typically gets even worse when the movie that’s being remade is a movie that’s generally agreed upon as a movie that does not require a remake. If we already have that movie and it was good, you’re probably not going to add anything to it. All of that lead to me not really having a great desire to watch today’s movie. But when my end of the year review was approaching, my standards lowered and I decided to watch the remake of Total Recall, loosely based on the short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick, written for the screen by Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback, directed by Len Wiseman, and starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy, Bokeem Woodbine, John Cho, Ethan Hawke, and Kaitlyn Leeb.

In the near future, war has devastated the Earth … because no movie can let us think that we have anything to look forward to. The world has mostly mellowed out, but a group of resistance fighters still occasionally cause trouble for the Man. A factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) decides to visit a place called Rekall to get some artificial memories implanted to add some excitement to his life, even though his bangin’ hot wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) and straight-jackin’ best friend Harry (Bokeem Woodbine) warn him against it. The Rekall employee, Bob McClane (John Cho), suggests that Quaid try out their secret agent package, but also warns him that past memory augmentations could create problems. Suddenly, Bob gets agitated by something on the computer and pulls a gun on Quaid, but is killed by a SWAT team that arrive and attempt to arrest Quaid, who proceeds to beat the snot out of all of them with skills he didn’t realize he had. Confused, he goes home to his wife, who perplexes him further by going all Death Dealer and trying to kill him. He eventually gets rescued by Melina (Jessica Biel), who tells Quaid that he is a spy working with the Resistance. Is this all a fake memory?! IS IT?!?!?!? ANSWER ME!!!!!

Some people gave this movie a hard time because they have such fondness for the original that they could not stomach the notion of it being remade. The difference between those people and me is that I have no particular fondness for the original. I saw the movie much later in life than most people did, and found it entertaining enough, but dated and extremely goofy in parts. That didn’t stop me from finding the irony in the fact that the studio behind this movie was called “Original Film” though. I mean, that’s balls! To call yourself “Original Film” and put out a movie that is a remake of a movie that was itself based on a book is pretty amusing to me. But, once I got into the movie, I actually found that I liked it more than I liked the original movie. It wasn’t terribly goofy and the action and visuals had drastically improved from the original. The opening perplexed me a little bit because it pretty much gave away the fact that Quaid worked for the Resistance, and only thinly veiled that by writing it off as a dream sequence, but when I got to thinking about it I realized that they were probably well aware of the fact that the people seeing this movie had probably already seen the other movie and that trying to act like it was a surprise would’ve just been a waste of time. But from that point on I was on board with the story pretty much all the way through. Sure, it wasn’t drastically different from the original movie, but who cares. It was a fun movie. I did get a little perturbed by the scene with Harry, where he’s trying to convince Quaid to shoot Melina because he was trying to convince him that he was trapped in the Rekall machine and couldn’t get out without shooting her. I feel like that moment would’ve been really easy for me. Just shoot the guy! If you kill him, then he was lying and was working for the enemy. If you don’t kill him because he wasn’t real, then he wasn’t real and who gives a shit? And let that be a warning to all of my friends: if you try to convince me I’m in a dream world, my first response will be to try to kill you.

The look of this movie took drastic steps in the right direction. The future world was very well-realized. They didn’t go horribly over the top with the future technology, but they also didn’t just set it in today’s world and say it was the future. I particularly liked the LCD Phone he had in his hand that he could touch to glass to display pictures. Take that, Samsung Galaxy Note 2! Acting all big and bad and shit! (This review is sponsored by the LG Optimus G. “If you want a phone, go with the O.G.”) One of the pieces of technology in this movie was the money they used in the future, the Obamoney. …Cute… The action in the movie was mostly over-the-top, but definitely fun to watch, even though the camera could go a little crazy in some of the scenes. I probably could’ve done without a lot of the music in the movie. I assume what I was hearing a few times in this movie would be considered “dub step,” but I really have no way to be sure. I’ve been graced enough in life to have little to no experience with dub step beyond hearing people make fun of it.

I really didn’t have a lot to say about the performances in this movie. Literally. The only note I took in the performances department was: “Bokeem Woodbine. ‘STRAIGHT JACKIN’!” And even that is just a joke meant strictly to amuse my friend Phil and me. Not that anyone in this movie did a bad job; it’s just that I didn’t have anything to say about any of them. …Any of them save for one. The crowning achievement in this movie was the performance by Kaitlyn Leeb who played the Three-Breasted Woman. YAY! THEY GAVE US THE THREE-BOOBED CHICK! That’s almost entirely all I remember about the original movie!

It’s probably not a popular opinion to admit that I enjoyed this movie more than I enjoyed the original Total Recall. The story was roughly the same but thankfully much less goofy than the original, and the visuals and the action were far better. And the performances included Bokeem Woodbine and a chick with three boobs, so I’m down with them as well. I don’t know if I’d feel the need to buy the movie, but it’s definitely worth checking out as a rental. Total Recall gets “The past is just a mental construct” out of “And by the way, you haven’t even begun to see me try to kill you!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people. Post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, MySpace if you just awoke from a coma, and whatever else you can to get as many eyes on these things as possible. Follow my fanpage on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to my YouTube channel to keep on top of all things Robert. And don’t underestimate the importance of some constructive criticism. Rate these reviews, like the videos, and comment on both with anything you’d like to say. And don’t forget to request things you want a review of. LOVE YOUSE GUYS!!

Lollipop Chainsaw (2012)


Killing Zombies Gives Me Total Wood.

Lollipop Chainsaw (2012)My inspiration for playing today’s game can sadly be defined with one word: boobies.  This movie appeared to have them in bulk.  Technically, there was probably more than interested me in this game.  I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of James Gunn – who collaborated on this game – but I’ve definitely had interest in things he’s done before.  I’ve also had interest in the games of his collaborator, Suda51, but I’ve also never played anything he’s taken part in.  I also consider myself a fan of the main voice actor in this game, Tara Strong, and I’ve actually enjoyed many things she’s taken part in.  But that’s far too much explanation and it’s much easier to say I played Lollipop Chainsaw strictly for the boobies.  In fact, all of that was too long.  Remind me to erase it later.  Lollipop Chainsaw was written by James Gunn, produced by Goichi Suda (Suda51), developed by Grasshopper Manufacture, published by Kadokawa Games and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and includes the voice acting of Tara Strong, Michael Rosenbaum, Kimberly Brooks, Linda Cardellini, Gregg Henry, Vanessa Marshall, Bruce Locke, Sean Gunn, Little Jimmy Urine, Michael Rooker, Shawnee Smith, Dave Fennoy, Rick D. Wasserman, Fred Tatasciore, Nolan North, and Kari Wahlgren.

Juliet Starling (Tara Strong) is a cheerleader that just turned legal.  But she is no ordinary cheerleader.  Well, technically she is exactly the definition of what you’d expect out of a cheerleader.  But also she carries a chainsaw and fights zombies.  She is off to meet her boyfriend at San Romero (HAAAAA!  I see what you did there, zombie game!) High School, but she arrives too late.  Her boyfriend Nick (Michael Rosenbaum) is bitten by a zombie.  She performs a ritual to allow his severed head to remain alive and decides to keep him around in this form.  It turns out that the whiny Goth kid Swan (Sean Gunn) has summoned the zombies because people in high school were mean to him.  He summons musical themed zombies – punk rocker Zed (Little Jimmy Urine), Viking drummer Vikke (Michael Rooker), hippie guitarist Mariska (Shawnee Smith), autotuned R&B-ish guy Josey (Dave Fennoy), and some kind of rock dude Lewis (Rick D. Wasserman) – to seek his revenge.  Along with Nick, Juliet teams with her sensei Morikawa (Bruce Locke), her Mom (Vanessa Marshall), Dad (Gregg Henry), gun-toting older sister Cordelia (Linda Cardellini), and clumsy younger sister with far too much energy Rosalind (Kimberly Brooks) to send them back to Hell, or wherever.

I knew what I was getting into with this game.  I had assumed that it would be a pretty run of the mill hack and slash game with occasional funny parts and lots of Japanese quirkiness.  So, now that I’ve proven that I can read the future, I will be accepting premium rates to read people fortune cookies and tell them I’m magic.  I really can’t say that there’s too much to say about the story of the game.  The zombies show up and Juliet has to kill the shit out of them.  The dialogue is pretty hit and miss in the game too.  Quite often, I found the dialogue between Juliet and Nick to be pretty cute, especially the part where Juliet thinks Nick speaks Japanese because he knows what the word “sensei” means.  But other parts of the dialogue just seemed like they were trying too hard to be funny, or perhaps even edgy.  Not really a problem, I suppose, but noticeable more in the times when they fall short.

Not a lot to say about the look of the game either.  It wasn’t particularly good and it wasn’t particularly bad.  It was fairly colorful and goofy in how dismembering zombies was muted by rainbows and stars because of how most guys think the world looks through the eyes of most girls.  The only real issue I took with the look of the game was the sexuality.  Don’t get me wrong; I love boobies.  The problem I had with it is that it felt like it was telling me way more than I ever would want to know about what James Gunn and/or Suda51 masturbate to.  That’s information I’d do better without.

The game plays well enough.  It’s vaguely Bayonetta-esque.  And by that, I mean it’s a hack and slash game.  Spam the hell out of that X button, then throw a Y button at the end for good measure.  They add a gun thing that doesn’t really work unless you take off auto-aim and a few other things to break up the monotony, with limited success.  They also often try to break things up with quirky minigames, like a baseball one where you have to protect zombie Nick as he rounds the bases and a basketball one where you try to make baskets with decapitated zombie heads, but these never really became more than irritants for me.

The achievements aren’t necessarily what I’d call easy, but they’re not the hardest ones either.  The only thing that makes them a bother is that it means you’ll probably have to replay levels a few times.  I got to about 800 before I finally got sick of the game and decided it wasn’t worth the bother anymore.  But I imagine I could’ve gotten 1000 without too much extra work.  It’s just that the game isn’t interesting enough for me to really work at it.

Lollipop Chainsaw was a goofy, fairly standard hack and slash game.  The story was simple, but funny enough when they weren’t trying too hard, and the look was pretty cute for a game with so much dismemberment.  But I’ve never really been a big fan of hack and slash games because I can only press X so many times before I realize that I’m getting bored.  This game is satisfying enough for a rental, but can’t justify a decent price tag.  Lollipop Chainsaw gets “What the dick?” out of “These zombies suck dick at driving.”

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