Predator 2 (1990)

You Can’t See the Eyes of the Demon, Until Him Come Callin’.

The awesomeness of Predator was bound to lead to at least one sequel.  It was inevitable.  And, as with most sequels, it was probably going to suck.  I’m positive that I’ve seen today’s movie before today, but I wouldn’t have been able to prove that from the DVD that I pulled from my DVD collection as it was still in its original packaging.  That’s not necessarily a damnation, but it’s certainly not a good sign that I would buy a movie and have no care to open it.  It’s actually somewhat typical for me because my OCD-like need to have complete series makes me want to buy all of the movies in a series, regardless of quality.  But, since I literally have no memory of this movie whatsoever, I can’t say for sure.  Until now, as I present my review of Predator 2, written by Jim and John Thomas, directed by Stephen Hopkins, and starring Danny Glover, Kevin Peter Hall, Ruben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso, Bill Paxton, Gary Busey, Adam Baldwin, Robert Davi, Kent McCord, Morton Downey Jr., and Calvin Lockhart.

Los Angeles, in the near future of 1997, suffers from both a heat wave and a crime wave, as gangs rule the streets.  So, basically, their prediction of Los Angeles was right on the money.  The Columbians are winning a shootout with the police until a cop that plays by his own rules, Lieutenant Michael Harrigan (Danny Glover), shows up and pushes them back into a nearby building, where they are all subsequently slaughtered by an invisible and powerful threat (Kevin Peter Hall).  In the following days, this invisible predator takes out large groups of gang members, stringing them up and skinning them, and occasionally taking their skulls as trophies.  Every time Harrigan closes in on the creature, his progress is halted by Special Agent Peter Keyes (Gary Busey), who lays some jurisdiction on him to keep him at bay.  But that sounds like a rule, and Harrigan has his own set of those that he chooses to play by.  Especially when members of Harrigan’s team start falling victim to this invisible predator.

The biggest failing of this movie is its imagination.  It doesn’t have one.  It takes a creature that was fantastic in its originality and imagination and plops it down on the set of every other movie ever.  The only way you would be surprised by the things in this movie would be if this was the first movie you ever saw, and your parents would have a lot of explaining to do if this was what they chose to show you as your first movie.  I could name about 100 movies that starred the cop that played by his own rules, but got results.  And I would only stop at 100 because I got bored and depressed by the lack of creativity in cinema.  How about a cop that’s being held back by the Special Agent that has jurisdiction?  Well no one’s ever seen that before, but there’s no way he’s going to play by his own rules.  WHAT THE WHAT?!  He’s doin’ it!  Are you fuckin’ seeing this, man?!  What about this tough chick cop over here?  I doubt she’d ever grab a guy’s balls and squeeze to teach him a lesson.  Think of the sexual harassment lawsuits!  At a certain point, I started to just pay attention to the cliché’s that they kept going for and not paying to the story that was unimpressive on its own.  It’s not fun and it’s not interesting.  I think the biggest problem I have at a certain point is that I want the Predator to be the good guy.  The Predator’s awesome!  And, for the greater majority of the movie, he’s just killing gang members.  And I can’t even knock him that much for wanting to hunt humans.  I don’t particularly have anything against humans hunting animals, but I find it a lot more admirable when a man takes on a creature that actually has a chance at killing him.  Anyone could hunt bunny rabbits, but what about a lion?  Same thing.  You can’t judge the guy for wanting to hunt humans any more than you could judge a human for wanting to hunt animals.  This desire for the Predator to be a good guy made parts of the movie annoying, like when Detective Archuleta started falling through the roof and the Predator grabbed his ankle.  This mother fucker starts pulling his gun on the creature that just saved his life.  You deserved to die.  The Predator was about to kill a woman at one point until he let her live because she was pregnant.  See?!  He’s a good dude!  Stop trying to kill him and he’ll probably do right by you.  If you pick up his spear and use it to shove him off the roof with the broad side of it, he’ll throw down with you.  Also, were you aware that there was a pointy side to that spear?  The movie only had a happy ending because of the benevolence of the Predator species.  Glover would have been dead at the end of the movie if they weren’t.  On the other hand, he also decided to sample a little kid offering him candy so that he could later say it as the most random non-sequitur ever in the middle of a gunfight.  In the first movie, he sampled the Indian dude’s creepy laugh and used it at a very appropriate moment.  Offering candy to someone that’s shooting at him is just dumb.

Most of the look of the movie still holds up.  The infrared visuals take a step up so that they’re not as difficult to comprehend as they were in the first.  The Predator still looks awesome, regardless of his confusing dreadlocks.  They work for him, alright.  I’m not quite sure why they didn’t go for the obvious joke when the Predator was fighting the Jamaican gang with similar haircuts though.  They went for every other obvious thing.  It’s also nice that he has some new toys in his arsenal.  It never made that much sense that the supreme hunter has only 3 weapons in his arsenal: the wrist blades, the shoulder-mounted gun, and the self-destruct.  Now he has some projectiles, a spear, and a Frisbee of Death.  And the self-surgery he did in this movie was much more convincing.  There’s one point in the movie where we get to see the inside of the Predator’s ship and it got me wondering.  Did they already have plans to pit the Predators against the Aliens when this movie was made, or was it just a random kick to the balls that the Predator had a Xenomorph skull in his ship?

I can’t actually say I liked any of the performances in this movie.  Danny Glover annoyed the least, but all he really did was run around, sweat, and swear.  And, if I might say so, he’s probably getting too old for that.  Every other performance either failed to impress or was just bad.  Lines are delivered in a stilted and unrealistic fashion quite often.  I was also happy to realize that Bill Paxton has realized that he doesn’t have to be over the top manic in his performances anymore, as he was in this movie and Aliens.  He’s been a lot more mellow recently.

Predator 2 is not a good movie, but it’s fairly typical for a sequel in that regard.  I still like the character of the Predator, but everything else in this movie was piecemeal from every other cliché action movie.  Visually it was an improvement, but it failed in every other department.  And when you’re getting out-acted by Arnold Schwarzenegger, that’s a problem.  I wouldn’t call this worth a watch.  Just watch Predator twice instead.  Predator 2 gets “Shit happens” out of “I don’t think he gives a shit!”

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Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

It’s Just Been Reviewed

I made a post to Facebook today that got a certain phrase stuck in my head.  I had heard this phrase before on Kevin Smith’s Smodcast and on Family Guy.  I knew it was from a movie, and I knew which one, and I knew I owned it, but I’d never seen it.  I also wish I had the foresight to know that inspiration would hit me and I would want to watch this today so that I could review that one first.  I hate breaking continuity.  But I didn’t, so I’m just going to jump straight into the review of Lethal Weapon 2, written by Jeffrey Boam, directed by Richard Donner, and starring Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joss Ackland, Patsy Kensit, Joe Pesci, Derrick O’Connor, Traci Wolfe, Darlene Love, and Stephen Kahan.

Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) are back.  After a car chase, masked men break into Murtaugh’s house and deliver a warning to him and his wife (Darlene Love).  This causes their captain (Stephen Kahan) to take them off of the case they’re currently on and reassign them to protecting a federal witness and candidate for most annoying person ever, Leo Getz (Joe Pesci).  Someone tries to kill Leo (and who wouldn’t?).  Riggs and Murtaugh take Leo to find the base of operations for the people Leo is going to testify against and find that the attempted assassin is there.  They get the police down there and they shut the place down, until DeNomolos … I mean Arjen Rudd (Joss Ackland) comes downstairs and tells the police that he and his men are protected by diplomatic immunity, and it has not yet been revoked.  Riggs and Murtaugh leave empty handed, but at least Riggs meets Rudd’s cute secretary with such a bright future ahead of her, Rika Van Den Haas (Patsy Kensit).  Riggs and Murtaugh know that Rudd is up to something, so they do what investigating they can get away with while still still protecting Getz, and Murtaugh begins an extensive study into what it takes to revoke diplomatic immunity protection.

This is a pretty fun movie, but I feel like it doesn’t hold up that well in some ways.  I probably would’ve thought it was awesome if I had seen it 20 years ago, but today it takes a step down to “pretty fun”.  It’s nice that it jumps right into the action, opening with a big car chase.  It keeps up a pretty good amount of over-the-top action throughout as well.  One such thing was a Rube Goldberg-esque death midway through that involved hitting a car on the end of a tow truck driven by the enemy, it flying up over the car and colliding head on with an oncoming car, causing the surfboard on the front of that car to fly off and kill the driver of the tow truck.  The story itself was somewhat hit and miss, though.  It was interesting that they weren’t able to take on the main bad guy because he was protected by diplomatic immunity, but I feel like there are limits to how far you can push the whole diplomatic immunity thing, and DeNomolos passes those limits pretty early on and keeps going.  The love story for Riggs seemed a little awkwardly placed and unnecessary.  It gave Riggs a little motivation towards the end of the movie, but he also finds out that one of the bad guys was responsible for the death of his wife before the events of Lethal Weapon 1, and that would probably suffice for motivation to take down the bad guys.  Also, the fact that they’re really bad guys and Riggs and Murtaugh are good guys would probably suffice.  A lot of the lines are pretty cheesy action phrases, but they’re still pretty good.  The aforementioned (or at least afore-alluded-to) “Diplomatic Immunity”, “It’s just been revoked”, bang was pretty cheesy, but I like that line.  I do like it better when Peter Griffin uses it when it doesn’t make sense, but it’s still good here.  After Murtaugh kills two guys with a nail gun, topping it off with “nailed ’em both” was pretty classy as well.  The nail gun was part of a funny thing that occurred to me in the movie too.  They make a pretty big deal about a construction worker using a nail gun in Murtaugh’s house in the beginning, and later a big deal about the fact that Riggs can dislocate his shoulder to escape from straightjackets, and – SURPRISE!! – these two things come up again in the movie.  I don’t know why they feel the need to foreshadow these things.  We’ll believe they can do these things equally as much when they come up later, but they may also ruin the surprise.  I know how Murtaugh and Riggs are going to get out of these situations because my memory extends for roughly 2 hours, so I still remember when he did it earlier.

The cast performs exactly as they should in this movie: a little bit over the top, but still pretty good.  Mel Gibson didn’t seem nearly as crazy for most of this movie, probably having gotten soft from being happy spending so much time with Murtaugh’s family.  He does a couple of fairly wacky things, and generally has a nice quip to throw in a dangerous situation, but he doesn’t go nuts until the very end when he just finds out that they murdered his wife.  He comes out of the water and kills two dudes with extreme prejudice and really seemed like he’d lost it.  I don’t know why Mel Gibson is so good at acting insane, but he is.  I never found myself particularly interested in Danny Glover’s character in these movies, but they still give the man the best line in the movie.  He kind of annoys me because he spends most of his time talking about how he’s old and doesn’t think they should do the cool action things that Riggs wants to do.  He’s such a stick in the mud.  But speaking of annoying: Leo Getz!  You will quickly regret finding out how annoying Leo Getz.  Getz it?  Yeah, wasn’t funny in the movie either.  But he was a pretty pointless character that would not stop talking about stupid, uninteresting things.  His mouth was running every time he was on screen.  Joss Ackland was good.  He always comes off pretty intimidating, so I like him in a good villain role.  Patsy Kensit did a decent job in the movie, but I only really connected with her character once she got her tits out.  I felt like her character had no reason to be there, and when she’s gone, I didn’t really care.  They didn’t spend a lot of time building the relationship between her and Riggs (and the audience, technically).  She just met him, had dinner with him, then fucked him.  I wasn’t connected enough to care when she was gone.

Lethal Weapon 2 is a still a pretty fun movie that is just starting to show it’s age.  And not just because of Mel Gibson’s hair in it.  There’s a good deal of action, some of it pretty interesting and cool.  The story is decent, but not fantastic, but they sure did write some great one-liners.  I wish Mel Gibson had been more crazy throughout, as he was in the first movie, but at least he wasn’t as annoying as Joe Pesci’s character.  Also, there’s some decent titties.  I already owned this movie (because it came in a four pack with the other three movies), and I might have purchased the movie itself to keep up the collection, but I only would’ve purchased it because the first movie was so good.  It’s available for Netflix streaming, so I could recommend you check it out at least once.  Lethal Weapon 2 gets “In one ear, out the rubber” out of “They’ve been de-kaffir-nated”

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Alpha and Omega (2010)

Today RedBox supplied me with an animated movie from last year known as Alpha and Omega, with the voices of Justin Long, Hayden Panettiere, Danny Glover, Dennis Hopper, and Christina Ricci. If I remember correctly, I believe I first became mildly interested in this movie after seeing that Panettiere and Ricci were in it, and they are hot, and they played those little interview videos with them and showed clips of the movie at Best Buy and piqued my interest. I never really got around to looking for it in theaters or on DVD, but I found it while browzing the RedBox and decided to give it a go.

Alpha and Omega is the story of two wolves (one an alpha, the other an omega … isn’t that wacky?!) who grew up together until one of them went off to train to be an alpha. Before this gets any more confusing than it deserves, in this movie an alpha is one of the top hunters and an omega is … not. Kate (Panettiere) is the alpha and Humphrey (Long) is the omega. So they quickly grow up and Humphrey is a wacky, goofy slacker, and Kate is a straight-laced hunter. Quite the original combination, I know. Anyways, Kate is the daughter of the leader of the western pack of wolves (Glover), who forms a contract with the leader of the eastern pack (Hopper) in times of low food. The contract is that Glover’s daughter, Kate, will marry Hopper’s son and combine and lead the two packs. It’s probably not too much of a surprise at this point, but Humphrey also loves Kate. Kate and the eastern pack … prince, I guess, (named Garth) are supposed to meet up at some moon-howling party. This basically entails that the wolves get up on a mountain and howl together, and howling is either the wolf version of a date or straight up fuckin. Well Garth is no good at howling and that turns Kate off. She wants a wolf with a long, hard howl, and Garth’s is weak and unsatisfying. So Kate wanders off and bumps into Humphrey and they fight about something before they are both shot with tranquilizers by humans and taken to Idaho to get their howl on and repopulate the wolf population down there.

Back in Canada, the wolf packs get to arguing and threatening with war now that Kate’s disappeared and it’s determined that, if Kate doesn’t get back in a few days, they are going to howl up the rest of the wolves. Kate sets on her way back to Canada and Humphrey follows. Back in Canada, Garth starts falling for Lilly (Ricci), Kate’s younger sister. He probably doesn’t howl the shit out of her out of respect for her sister. And Kate and Humphrey go through all sorts of shenanigans and goings-ons on their way back home. Will the two ever fall in love? Tune in to find out … or don’t, this movie sucked.

There were MANY problems with this movie. The first one is that the commercials they put on the screens at Best Buy must have been the ONLY decent animation in the entire movie. The backgrounds are colorful and pretty, but the character animations are stiff, unrealistic, and ugly. This could be forgivable with a quality story or a laugh or two … and someone should have told them that. The story is what Romeo and Juliet would be if Shakespeare was retarded. And the characters seem to attempt to be funny only to fail drastically. I did not laugh or even crack a smile through this entire movie. Something about the movie pretty much shut me down in the first 15 minutes and never got me back. The movie even managed to drain any and all funny out of the usually hilarious Larry Miller, who plays a bald turkey or something that helps the two wolves return home. The howling scenes, which as I said are either innuendo for fucking or, in some occasions, are quasi-musical numbers with little to no words and just random howls instead. These are completely cringe inducing. Cringe or bash-your-head-against-things inducing. And the logical errors cannot be forgiven! There is a scene where the turkey bird (or whatever Larry Miller’s bird was supposed to be) is dragging Humphrey (the adult wolf!) behind him and eventually takes flight with the wolf hanging from his feet. If a ambiguous turkey bird had that kind of wing strength, I think that could be a solid defense mechanism and then it may be a little too difficult to eat Larry Miller for Thanksgiving. Also, there’s a scene that would make my gun-crazy friend Mike punch himself in the dick, as a missed shot from a shotgun aimed at the two wolves misses and tears a wolf-sized hole in the chain link fence.

Okay, I know what some of you may be saying: “Obviously this movie was meant for kids and not for you”, and there was a time when this would be an acceptable excuse. But I think nowadays Pixar has set that bar a little higher than that, where a movie can be both enthralling to children and entertaining to their parents as well. And don’t insult your children with this movie, they’re smart enough for Pixar. Watch you some Wall-E. That shit is howling awesome.

Also, I feel that I should take it down a notch and say that this was far from the worst movie ever, there’s just no reason to see it. That’s why I give it a “skip it” out of 22 1/2.