The Cabin in the Woods (2012)


I’m Drawing a Line in the Sand.  Do NOT Read the Latin!

It’s time for another October Horrorthon!  I had heard so much about today’s movie that I was very excited to see it finally come out, not only on DVD, but also on RedBox.  When it finally arrived, I had already set my mind to go and pick it up when my roommate told me he had purchased the digital copy of it.  Score!  A few days later, when we both had the time to sit down and watch it, we prepared ourselves to watch the movie that our friends and many critics have been talking up since its original release.  That movie is Cabin in the Woods, co-written by Joss Whedon, co-written and directed by Drew Goddard, and starring Kristen Connolly, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Brian J. White, Amy Acker, Jodelle Ferland, and Sigourney Weaver.

A very typical scenario unfolds as a group of college students decide that the best thing they can do with their time is to go to an isolated cabin in the middle of the woods for a vacation.  The stereotypes involved are the nerdy quasi-virgin Dana (Kristen Connolly), the stoner Marty (Fran Kranz), the egghead who is actually a receiver on the football team Holden (Jesse Williams), the jock who is also on full academic scholarship Curt (Chris Hemsworth), and the whorish blonde who is actually only recently blondized Jules (Anna Hutchison).  Okay, so they’re slightly off the normal stereotypes, but they get much closer as time goes on.  As does the story, as the group find the basement of the cabin, filled with various items of creepy origin.  They pick a journal and read Latin words aloud, which sets a zombie redneck pain-worshipping family on the loose to kill them.  As typical as all of this sounds, there’s something very atypical happening behind the scenes…

A lot has been made of the idea of “the twist” in movies, mostly since M. Night Shyamalan made it super famous.  We’ve also seen movies before that mock the cliché’s of horror movies while adhering to them themselves, such as the Scream movies.  The twist to this movie takes that stuff to a new level.  But here’s the question that brings people to my reviews: is it amazing?  No, not really.  I was not nearly as charmed by this movie as I expected to be, and certainly not as charmed as everyone made me think I would be.  But I’m still trying to put my finger on why I didn’t like the thing.  I’ve watched it twice already and I remain relatively confused.  I’ll try to work it out as we go along.  The writing was probably a big part of my dislike of this movie.  I never really minded the idea of the twist in a movie, but when you spread that twist all the way through your movie, it hardly feels like a twist.  I was just confused by the two seemingly-unrelated movies until the reason for both stories made itself clear.  At that point I thought it was a really cool idea for a movie… and then the movie kept going.  I get it already!  You’re so clever for lampooning the entire horror movie genre.  Now get to making a good movie.  But the movie never salvaged itself as far as I was concerned.  I’ve no intention of spoiling the twist in this movie for anyone as I was given the pleasure of not having the movie spoiled for me, but I took issue with the fact that the movie seemed to spoil itself.  Hell, the movie actually starts with the twist before it gets into the typical dying college kids movie.  But I also don’t know how they could have made this movie work for me.  If the twist stuff wasn’t in the movie, it would have just been another underwhelming horror movie.  Maybe I would’ve liked it if they didn’t reveal the twist stuff until Dana and Marty were in the middle of it, but I can’t really know that because that’s not the movie I watched.  All I can really know is that this movie didn’t work for me, certainly not as much as I thought it would with Joss Whedon’s involvement.  But where I did see his involvement in the writing, I liked it.  I’m mainly referring to the clever and funny moments in the dialogue that really worked for me, though not enough to redeem the rest of the movie.  You could see that stuff in the dialogue from pretty early on, like the, “I learned it from watching you!” interaction between Curt and Jules.

The look of the movie was mostly fine, but there were parts of it that were less than convincing.  What made them better is that they were close to, but legally distinguishable from, many classic horror movie monsters, and that was fun to pick them out and recognize them.  There were zombies, werewolves, ghosts, giant bats, and angry robots, but they also had some more specific monsters like a Cenobite reminiscent of Hellraiser, a killer clown reminiscent of Pennywise from It, and there was apparently even a Reaver from Firefly, but I didn’t see it.  The main zombies were a bit of a problem from, but only because they were occasionally unconvincing and reminded me more of the creatures from the Thriller video.  Otherwise there were no complaints about the looks.

I liked the greater majority of the performances in this movie, so anything I didn’t like about the movie was probably not their fault.  I liked Kristen Connolly a lot, especially because she was really cute and opened the movie walking around in her panties.  Would girls actually walk around in their underwear with all their windows open in a busy residential neighborhood?  If they do, then I officially hate my mom for having us live on the outskirts of town.  Anna Hutchison got her boobs out in the movie as well, but that was disappointing because I didn’t find her nearly as attractive as Connolly or Amy Acker … or Chris Hemsworth for that matter.  I don’t wanna sound gay or nothin’, but I’d let that guy vacation in my cabin in the woods.  Wink wink!  I even liked Jodelle Ferland as Patience Buckner, but that may have been mostly because I seem to be inadvertently reviewing her entire career.  She was in Silent Hill, one of the Twilight movies, and the second Bloodrayne abortion.  That doesn’t sound like a lot, but four movies now for someone most people probably can’t name is pretty weird.  Also, she did fine in the movie.  The only performance I really took issue with was Fran Kranz.  I realize that they were going for the super cliché pothead character, and he was even probably supposed to be a little bit annoying.  If that was true, it worked.  That dude got on my nerves.

I guess expectations hurt Cabin in the Woods with me more than anything else.  When a movie is talked up too much, it will inevitably find a very difficult time matching those expectations.  I expected to be blown away by the movie, but instead it was just okay.  The idea of it was nifty, but it wasn’t surprising as I thought it might be because they put the twist of the movie right up front, the look was mostly hit but occasionally miss, and the performances were mostly excellent.  I still feel like, if you want to watch a movie that turns the horror genre on its head, you’d be better off with Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.  It’s not a bad movie, it was just underwhelming to me.  Pick it up at RedBox for a dollar so that you can find out for yourself.  Cabin in the Woods gets “And you have no pants” out of “Cutting the flesh makes him have a husband’s bulge.”

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.

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Alien Resurrection (1997)


I’m the Monster’s Mother.

We’ve come to the conclusion of the Alien series, but not quite to the end of the movies that I’ll be reviewing that are like it.  I feel like the review series wouldn’t be complete if I neglected to review the film that finds out what happens when Aliens come up against Predators, which also means I should review Predator.  But that’ll come in the next couple of days.  Today is the final Alien movie, which I remember being fairly fond of for whatever reason, but Rotten Tomatoes still does not show this movie favor.  Who will be wrong?  Rotten Tomatoes, obviously, but I’ll write some words to explain why.  First, I’m awesome and always right.  Second, my review of Alien Resurrection, written by Joss Whedon, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and starring Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, Dan Hedaya, Brad Dourif, J.E. Freeman, Michael Wincott, Gary Dourdan, Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinon, Kim Flowers, Raymond Cruz, and Leland Orser.

Since they killed Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in the previous movie, we’re going to have to be introduced to our new protagonist of the Alien series.  That comes in the form of Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) … wait … Cloning?  Oh movie…  You are the sillies.  Ellen Ripley has been cloned because humanity really wants to get its hands on the creature that seems to do nothing but kill them and her clone would have the queen in her chest.  They successfully clone her and remove the queen, but keep her alive for study because her DNA has been mixed up with that of the Xenomorph queen.  After a while, the crew of the mercenary ship called the Betty show up with a bunch of people in stasis for General Perez (Dan Hedaya), who wants to use the people as hosts for the aliens.  Unbeknownst to the crew of the Betty, their newest member and engineer Annalee Call (Winona Ryder), joined up with them to get onto the ship and kill Ripley and the alien menace, but she’s too late because the Xenomorphs have already escaped and gotten to what they do best.

I still like this movie.  It’s still not really comparable to Alien or Aliens, but it was lucky enough to follow Alien3, making it that much better in comparison.  Also, Joss Whedon wrote it, so it probably gets some love just for that.  Of course, I didn’t know that until this viewing and I still thought it was pretty good.  Once you get past the initial annoyance of the return of Ripley being based on cloning, you can let yourself enjoy the movie.  Sure, the cloning thing is a bit of an easy solution to a problem, but it also opens up for some things that I found interesting, like Ripley basically being a superhero with super strength, senses, and acidic blood.  It also opened the story up for some things that I didn’t dig on very much, like the hybrid alien.  Sure, it looked icky as hell, but the Xenomorphs are way scarier and far more badass-looking.  For instance, I’m going to be a little afraid of an alien with no nose and dripping white skin, but then I’m going to look down and see its tiny alien boobies that it has for some reason and I’ll probably be dying laughing.  And that’s not a good thing when the regular Xenomorphs look as awesome as they’ve ever looked in this movie.  They have never been constantly wetter.  The rest of the story kind of unfolds as you’d expect as this story seems like mostly Whedon’s love letter to the Alien series, but that also makes things less surprising.  One of the characters turns out to be a robot, the army in this one makes fun of the company for not being able to handle the Xenomorphs while making the same mistakes, Ripley’s going to win.  Not a whole lot of surprises, but it’s still got a lot of cool going on.  I liked the underwater scene where the group had to pass through an area underwater while being chased by a couple of Xenomorphs, for instance.  I also liked when one of the characters used the alien bursting out of his chest to kill someone.  And the way they defeat the last alien in the movie is pretty awesome, and extremely icky.  The way the Xenomorphs escape their captivity by sacrificing one of their own is also very clever.  I like when they make them smarter than your average monster, but I wasn’t that fond of the aliens pressing the red button that was once used to punish them to kill the soldier, as awesome looking as that death was.  It just doesn’t seem like their style.  They’re plenty good at killing without the use of buttons and liquid nitrogen.  Speaking of better ways to kill things, though I liked the emotional impact of the scene with all the failed Ripley clones, it seems like there are better and quicker ways to kill them than using a flamethrower.

Most of the performances were good in this movie.  I would say this is the movie where Sigourney Weaver brings Ripley to the full potential of badass.  She’s got superpowers and she knows it.  It’s kind of the opposite of how she was a badass in Aliens.  In this movie she never seems afraid, so she’s just a badass because she’s the toughest one in the room, where in Aliens she was just the toughest because she did what she had to even though she was afraid.  Still an interesting character though.  I also really liked Winona Ryder in this movie.  For my money, she’s never been hotter in any movie I’ve seen her in.  There’s something about that lady that is a little bit of alright.  Although her sexuality never really came into play in her performance.  Her performance was more about hating on someone for not being human, which is completely ironic given what we find out about her later.  I also liked Gary Dourdan’s character.  Sure, he did a lot of things that I’m sure the Mythbusters wouldn’t take kindly to, like crazy ricochet shots to kill people, but he was also pretty badass and had a great look as well.  I did get a little confused by his death though.  I mean, he just got a little acid burn on his face.  There was no reason he couldn’t grab back onto the ladder and live a little while longer.  There’s also no reason that he couldn’t survive the short fall into the water that apparently killed him for good.

Alien Resurrection was much better than Alien3, but still far inferior to Alien and Aliens.  The story is good once you get past the BS cloning thing, the look is good, the action is over the top and fun, and a lot of the performances are still solid.  It’s a somewhat acceptable end to the series, but of course I wouldn’t have minded another one.  But, at this point, they’d probably have to replace Ripley, and I don’t think I’m down for that.  It’ll do, I suppose.  Alien Resurrection gets “Ellen Ripley died trying to wipe this species out.  For all intents and purposes, she succeeded” out of “Must be a chick thing.”

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

The Avengers (2012)


Guys, I’m Bringing the Party to You

Today’s movie was a hard movie to put off for as long as I did.  It came out almost a week ago now, but I didn’t have a good moment to go and see the movie with my roommate Richard until today.  It was not an easy couple of days.  I’ve been somewhat excited to see this movie since it was announced, and from the day it came out I’ve been beaten over the head with the fact that I need to see it.  But, when someone called the movie “The Best Comic Book Movie Ever”, I found myself very skeptical.  Had these people not seen the Dark Knight?  Or Watchmen?  Or was there a chance that this movie was that good?  We’ll find out today in my review of The Avengers, written by Joss Whedon and Zak Penn, directed by Joss Whedon, and starring Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Stellan Skarsgard, Cobie Smulders, Gwyneth Paltrow, Harry Dean Stanton, and Paul Bettany.

The fallen Asgardian Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has reached a pact with an alien race known as the Chitauri.  If Loki is able to capture the powerful source of energy known as the Tesseract, they will declare war on Earth for it.  Armed with a fancy spear, he easily breaks into a facility of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division (aka SHIELD) and takes the Tesseract, also brainwashing the physicist Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and SHIELD agent Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner).  In response, SHIELD director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) activates the Avengers Initiative, compiling Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to face the threat.  SHIELD agent the Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) is sent to retrieve the Hulk/Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) is sent to retrieve Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), and Fury himself goes to retrieve Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans).  Iron Man and Captain America are able to capture Loki, which captures the attention of Loki’s brother, the God of Thunder, Thor (Chris Hemsworth).  Can these very conflicting personalities come together to work as a team?  Can they thwart Loki’s plans?  And, more importantly, how many times will I masturbate during this movie?

This was the worst movie ever … for someone with a heart condition.  HOLY SHIT is this a good movie!  I loved the living bejesus right out of this movie.  But, as much as I loved it, I don’t think I’d be willing to call it the greatest comic book movie of all time.  It’s certainly the greatest of its kind, though.  I would divide comic book movies in much the same way as I would regular movies.  Some are really smart, and some are really fun.  I wouldn’t call the Watchmen or Dark Knight particularly fun, but they’re great movies.  I also wouldn’t call Avengers the smartest movie, but it’s fantastic fun pretty much from the very beginning of the movie.  One thing that should be kept in mind while reading my review is that I do not have the ability to think about this movie as someone who is not a fanboy.  My fanboy boner is drawing all of the blood out of the rest of my observational abilities.  But fellow fanboys will have such the nerd boner throughout this entire movie.  Comic book movies already get +10 love in my mind, but this movie had no use for those excess points.  It’s such sweet, sweet fan service all the way through, thanks to the man at the helm, Joss Whedon.  Being a nerd himself, he would not allow any one of the Avengers to not have their moment in this movie.  Because of his nerdiness, this is the first Marvel movie (that wasn’t just a sequel) that took so much from what happened in the other movies into itself.  Things like the Tesseract that was introduced in Captain America’s movie and some of the Asgardian stuff that was introduced in Thor helped really connect this movie as opposed to leaving it to its own devices.  The introduction of each individual character in the movie was badass and usually preceded by an awesome quip that got me extra excited.  Things like, “Wars are won by soldiers,” and then BOOM!  Captain America punching the shit out of some heavy bags.  They did something like this for almost every Avenger and I loved it every time.  I was also assuming as I went into this movie that I would only be interested in the main Avengers like Thor and the Hulk, leaving me bored with the time I spent with the less spectacularly gifted Avengers like Black Widow and Hawkeye.  When the gigantic battle at the end of the movie was starting, I wondered what good Widow and Hawkeye – and maybe even the Cap – would be in this fight, but every one of them had the opportunity to be awesome in it.  And almost everyone on the Avengers teamed up with the other Avengers.  One of my favorite moments in the movie was something I had seen in some of the Marvel video games: when Iron Man shoots at Captain America’s shield during battles and Cap swings the beam around to hit the enemies around them.

I got to thinking about something early on in the trailers leading up to this movie.  I’m sure there was a time when goose bumps served a purpose like making our hair stand up because of cold in the environment or perhaps even fluffing up our hair when threatened to make us look bigger.  It made me laugh that, over time, these defense mechanisms have become completely useless and goose bumps now only involve showing our excitement over movies.  The trailers that preceded Avengers were for other movies I’m extremely excited for, like the new Spiderman and Dark Knight Rises, and they got my skin prepped for goose bumpage.  The Avengers movie barely ever gave my skin the chance to rest.  The introduction for each character caused goose bumps, each fight caused goose bumps, almost everything said by anyone in the movie, all of these things got my skin all riled up.  Even for some two hours after the movie, my skin wouldn’t knock it off with every time I thought about my favorite moments.  Hell, even writing this review caused me to get goose bumps.  I tell you all of this to let you know that goose bumps are stupid and this movie is awesome.

I briefly skimmed one of the very few negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes to see how someone could possibly not like this movie.  It criticized the movie for being a big mess of CG action.  What did you go into this movie expecting?  Schindler’s List?  It’s a comic book movie!  It’s supposed to be like you’re watching a comic book come to life.  If you saw this same movie without CG, it would be the worst movie ever.  You’d have to bring Lou Ferrigno back to be the Hulk and no one could really do anything awesome.  So, what I’m saying to that guy is: go fuck your own face.  This movie looked epic and fantastic.  Things like SHIELD’s helicarrier looked as massive and realistic as humanly possible.  And, for the first time, the Hulk looked fantastic and real.  Well, as real as a giant green guy can look.  The other movies had the Hulk kind of stand out and not look like it was properly lit, but this movie didn’t have that problem.  Even the practical things were given the weight that made them feel like superpowered individuals were doing them, like when Cap blocked Thor’s hit as they were fighting in the woods, creating a shockwave that cleared a large portion of the surrounding area.

I’ve probably already discussed every character in this movie already in their own respective movies, but that shant stop me from doing it again.  But this time I’m going to discuss them in order of awesomeness.  First up is the only new addition to the Avengers team: Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk.  Though Ruffalo was the only one in this movie to not appear as his character previously, I think he stole the show.  I found him to be a combination of the most humorous and most badass characters in the movie.  When he randomly, and unexpectedly, punches Thor at one point in the movie it was pure comedy enjoyment.  When he lays an epic beatdown on one of the major characters in the movie, flopping them around like a ragdoll and following it up with one of his trademark “Puny …” lines, I nerdgasmed.  When he fights one of the good guys in the movie, I was worried that they wouldn’t give the Hulk his proper amounts of awesomeness in order to make another character that I wasn’t that fond of look better.  But when Captain America unleashes him on the enemies by commanding him to smash, he did just that.  The big question would be whether or not Ruffalo set himself apart as the best version of the character, and I’m not sure I’d be willing to give him that.  I would definitely allow Ruffalo to be called the actor that played the Hulk in the best movie he was in, but I didn’t think that Ruffalo had the appropriate build for Banner.  He did a great job acting as the character, but he was a little more muscular than I’d think of Banner.  I think Edward Norton looked the part much more, and acted the part equally as well.  My next favorite would have to be Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man.  Adding Downey’s own wit and timing to Joss Whedon’s sharp writing is a winning combination.  RDJ is Tony Stark, and I don’t know how there will ever be another.  He got to bust out the hero chops more than any of the Iron Man movies here, and was still really funny.  Another of my favorite moments in the film was when Stark prodded Banner in the lab because he was just like a big child that just wanted to see the big, green smash machine.  Chris Evans as Captain America and Chris Hemsworth as Thor had tons of awesome moments and each had a couple of comedy moments as well that I appreciated.  Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow sets herself up as pretty awesome right in her opening scene, and also takes part in an epic fight with Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye.  I was worried about Hawkeye going into the movie, thinking that a character whose only power is to be really good at firing arrows would not be super interesting.  Though his parts were lighter on the awesome, he still pulled a good bit out with some sweet shots and some cool, no-look shots.

The Avengers might not be what I’d be comfortable calling the best comic book movie ever, but it’s unequivocally the most fun, most action-packed, and most exhilarating comic book movie I’ve ever watched, and I’ve seen almost all of them.  The story is great, the dialogue is smart and funny, and the performances are all fantastic.  But, more importantly, the action scenes are frequent, amazing, and exactly what every fan wants to see.  Being a fanboy myself, I can’t really get into the mindset of someone who doesn’t like comic books.  But I also can’t imagine the type of person who would not think this movie is awesome.  I don’t only recommend you see this movie, I outright demand it.  Go see this movie now.  And, if you can, go see it in IMAX, and even in 3D.  I’m normally a 3D hater, but I hear this movie is worth it.  The Avengers gets “The world has changed” out of “I still believe in heroes.”

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

Serenity (2005)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speed (1994)


Pop Quiz, Hot Shot

This is another in the long list of classic, action movies that I just never got around to seeing.  I’ve heard all about the movie and pretty much knew exactly where it was headed because of all the things I had heard about it, but I don’t think I had ever seen it all the way through.  I had just seen parts of it on TV.  So today became the day for me to sit down and watch Speed, written by Graham Yost and Joss Whedon, directed by Jan de Bont and Alan Ruck, and starring Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Daniels, Joe Morton, Alan Ruck, Beth Grant, Hawthorne James, Richard Lineback, and Glenn Plummer.

A man with a fucked up hand has installed a series of bombs on an elevator filled with high-powered business people in an attempt to ransom them.  SWAT members Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) and Harry Temple (Jeff Daniels) are called in.  They manage to get the people out of the elevator, and even find the bomber (Dennis Hopper), who promptly grabs Harry to hold Jack at bay.  Jack reacts by shooting Harry in the leg, causing the bomber to run and set off the explosion, killing the bomber.  Jack and Harry get awards, and Harry gets promoted to a desk job because of his injury.  The next day, Jack witnesses an explosion on a bus and gets a call from the bomber, who is not as dead as originally thought.  The bomber informs Jack that he has put a bomb on another bus.  Once this bus exceeds 50mph, the bomb will activate.  If the bus then goes below 50mph, it will go off.  Jack jumps into action, getting himself onto the bus.  His presence on the bus agitates a passenger with a gun, who then accidentally shoots the driver (Hawthorne James).  Annie Porter (Sandra Bullock) is then tasked with driving the bus as Jack tries to find a way to get them off the bus, and Harry tries to find out who this bomber really is.

Most of you have probably already seen Speed and have figured out your opinions already, but now I have one.  I liked it!  Sure, it’s a little cliche, a lot absurd, and most of the lines are cheesy one-liners, but it’s still a fun movie.  When the evil genius falls for the old “surveillance tape on a loop” thing, that was rookie stuff.  I was also never entirely sure about Hopper’s motivations to begin with.  He was a retired policeman, but I really don’t know what made him decide to kill people for money.  If it was only money that motivated him, it seems out of character for a police officer, and a little easy in the writing department.  Also, they go to the “road/track is under construction and not completed” thing twice, and that’s extra lazy.  The same goes for Hopper taking a hostage in the exact same way at the end of the movie.  A lot of the lines uttered in the movie are a little cheesy, but I thought some of them were pretty clever.  My favorite was the line delivered after Reeves kills Hopper.  ::SPOILER::  While fighting on top of the subway, Hopper is going off, saying “I’m smarter than you, Jack!  I’m smarter!  I’m smarter!” and then Reeves pushes Hopper’s head up into a passing light, decapitating him.  Reeves tops it off with “Yeah?  Well, I’m taller!”  I think we all saw the decapitation coming, but that is a solid line.  Granted, they kind of fuck it up afterwards when they use the way too obvious “He lost his head” line.  ::END SPOILER::  The movie is a solid action movie, through and through.  It starts out with solid action and doesn’t really waste very much time on story at all.  But the action is well done, interesting, and usually pretty spectacular.  They jump a bus, take it up on two wheels, and drag Keanu beneath the bus.  But it keeps the movie exciting, and that’s what I came for.

Generally speaking, I wouldn’t say I regard Keanu Reeves as much of an actor.  This movie doesn’t really change my perceptions, but it is the type of movie he works best in.  He can’t really seem to escape the fact that he always sounds like Ted “Theodore” Logan, no matter what setting he’s in.  But he works well in a big dumb action movie.  He can deliver one-liners with the best of ’em.  I felt like Dennis Hopper may have been a bit over the top in his performance in this movie, but he had a couple good lines as well, and it worked well in the movie.  I especially liked when Keanu was calling him crazy and he said “No!  Poor people are crazy.  I’m eccentric.”  That’s another good quality line.  This was one of the movies that introduced the world to Sandra Bullock, and that is always a good thing.  I wouldn’t say she was “hot”, per se, but she does cute exceedingly well.  I really liked when she hugged Keanu at the end of the movie with her hands cuffed.  I just wanted to protect her…and maybe have a relationship based on sex with her.  I was happy to see Jeff Daniels in the movie as well, but he was perhaps a bit underutilized.  The parts that he was in made me feel like he was every bit aware of how ridiculous parts of the movie were, and he probably was.

It took me a while to get around to it, but I’m pretty glad I did.  I probably would’ve liked this movie much more had I seen it closer to when it came out, but I feel it still holds up today.  The story itself is pretty ridiculous and occasionally feels lazy, but the action keeps the movie above 50mph all the way through.  It included a handful of the best cheesy one liners I’ve ever heard, and they were delivered by characters that were mostly over the top, but totally worked for the movie.  I dig this movie, and it will probably be making it into my collection pretty soon.  If you don’t keep a huge collection of DVD’s as I do, it’s available for streaming on Netflix.  Even if you’ve already seen it, you may want to rewatch it, and I don’t think you’d be very disappointed … unless (from what I hear) you watch Speed 2 instead.  Speed gets “Don’t get dead” out of “We’re leaking gas?”

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