Django Unchained (2012)


Kill White People and Get Paid for it? What’s Not to Like?

Django Unchained (2012)It’s a heavy spoiler for this review that today’s movie made it into my top films of 2012, but I still feel obligated to give it the full review it never received. Near the end of the year, I was trying so hard to review as many movies from 2012 as I could that I pushed this one off so much that I didn’t feel like the memory was fresh enough to still write the review for it. I knew it was only a matter of time until I got around to reviewing it because there was no way that I wouldn’t be picking it up on BluRay the day it released. Well the time finally came that I could present you with my review of Django Unchained, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, and starring Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Don Johnson, James Remar, Tom Wopat, Russ Tamblyn, Amber Tamblyn, Bruce Dern, Zoë Bell, and Jonah Hill.

A group of slaves is being driven by the Speck Brothers until they’re stopped by a German dentist named Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), who stops them looking to purchase one of their slaves named Django (Jamie Foxx). When the Speck Brothers decline, Schultz guns them down. Schultz reveals himself to be a bounty hunter who needs Django to identify the Brittle Brothers, who Schultz has a bounty for. After dealing with the Brittle Brothers, Django reveals that he’s been separated from his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), and Schultz decides to help reunite them, taking Django on as an apprentice bounty hunter until they get a chance to free Broomhilda from the slave owner Calvin J. Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

This movie is awesome, but I don’t even know how comfortable I’d be in saying that it’s Tarantino’s best movie to date. And that is a huge compliment. When your movie is potentially coming in third to Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds, you know you’re doing alright in your career. And Django does not disappoint Tarantino fans, at least not this one. It’s far more fun than you’d expect a movie about slavery to be. Tarantino takes what could be a really heavy premise and injects it with his particular brand of humor, which you can see all over the place, such as Don Johnson’s character telling one of his slaves to not be so hasty when jumping to the conclusion that she should treat Django like a white man when he suggested to treat him better than she’d treat other slaves. Even though the scene could’ve technically been left out of the movie, I also enjoyed the scene where the racists were preparing to lynch Django and got into a discussion about the eyeholes on their hoods because it was pretty damned funny. Of course, Tarantino usually writes some funny and/or compelling dialogue, my favorite in this movie being between Django and Schultz more often than not. I guess the dialogue did seem a bit off in their unrealistically low use of the N-word for a movie taking place in the South, but I’ll let that slide as well. The only thing I took issue with in the whole story was the plan to rescue Broomhilda. They determined that they couldn’t just offer to buy her, and they also couldn’t offer to buy one of Candie’s fighters unless they came at him with a ridiculous sum of money, so they had to come up with this big ploy to offer the money and ask to take Broomhilda as a signing bonus. I don’t know why they didn’t just offer a crazy sum of money for Broomhilda in the first place. I suppose part of their idea was to only pay $2,000 for her and act like they’d come back with the rest later, but if they’d just offered $5,000, Django would’ve been good for it. It’s not like he didn’t help him raise at least that much money, thusly earning it for himself. And it’s not like he had anything else he wanted, so he could drop all that money to get his wife back. It’s a major point in the story, but a minor qualm from me. I got over it.

The action in this movie was over the top, but always in a fun way. It was like the Expendables in that when someone gets shot, they are sent flying in an explosion of red mist. But unlike the Expendables, this movie was good. And watching Django go into Candieland and fuck shit up was fantastic. The only real problem I had with the look in the movie was having to see someone’s hairy black nutsack, up close and personal.

The biggest sell of this movie had to be the performances. Everyone in this movie put on a clinic for amazing performances. Jamie Foxx started off pretty meek, but quickly turned into a badass. We already knew he had the comedy chops, but I don’t really recall seeing him as a badass action hero that often in the past. He wears it well. Christoph Waltz cannot seem to go wrong when pairing up with Tarantino. Waltz is great in everything I’ve seen him do, but he’s magic with Tarantino. My mom tried to get me to describe what it is about him that makes everyone talk about him with such reverence. I don’t really have the words. After more than 450 reviews, I still don’t know how to put what I think of Waltz into words. But I also can’t tell my mom to watch the movies to see him in action because my mom can’t handle violence, and his two best performances that I’ve seen were in movies lousy with violence. I think you just haveta see him to believe him. Leonardo DiCaprio is also fantastic in this movie, playing Candie as very charming but believably sadistic. Samuel L. Jackson is awesome in this movie as well as the racist asshole slave, and it was also the first time I’ve ever seen Jackson allow himself to look closer to his age. He’s 64 years old! Black don’t crack. Speaking of racist things, Walton Goggins is also in this movie. I’m not saying he’s actually a racist, but he does give good racism. He’s really good at saying the N-word. Speaking of which, I think that must be tough for all non-racist white people in this movie, as I’m sure all of them were. If I were in this movie and I had to sling the N-word around like that, I’d be ruining every take by yelling, “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry, everybody! Alright, back into the scene.”

Django Unchained is awesome. Excellent story with great –and often hilarious – dialogue that I’ve come to expect from Tarantino. The action is lots of fun and every performance in the movie is what other actors should study for their own betterment. This movie is easily in Tarantino’s top three best movies, which is the best compliment I can give with an already illustrious career. This is a movie you should’ve seen when it was in theaters, but if that time is passed then you should go buy it right now. Django Unchained gets “Our mutual friend has a flair for the dramatic” out of “I like the way you die, boy.”

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Menace II Society (1993)


Young, Black, and Didn’t Give a Fuck.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)


It’s the Wood That Should Fear Your Hand, Not the Other Way Around

The inevitable followup to watching and reviewing Kill Bill is Kill Bill: Volume 2.  When Fabio suggested Volume 1, it was simply implied that Volume 2 was part of the deal.  And after watching the first movie, why wouldn’t you want to finish it up?  But there’s a problem here: there’s a pretty drastic style change between Volume 1 and Volume 2.  The people that really liked the first movie may not necessarily appreciate the changes that were made.  Of course, the other possibility is that it’s equally good in it’s own right.  Let’s see what happened in my review of Kill Bill: Volume 2, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, and starring Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah, Gordon Liu, Chris Nelson, Perla Haney-Jardine, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Michael Parks, Bo Svenson, Samuel L. Jackson, Larry Bishop, Sid Haig, and Helen Kim.

We start off back at the wedding rehearsal between The Bride (Uma Thurman) and her groom-to-be (Chris Nelson).  The Bride’s former leader – and former lover – Bill (David Carradine) shows up and asks if he can sit on The Bride’s side of the church.  The Bride is pretty trepidatious, but welcomes him to the ceremony.  Unfortunately for her, Bill’s brought along the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad – O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox), Budd (Michael Madsen), and Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) – who promptly kill up the place.  Four years later, after awaking from a coma, The Bride sets off to get her revenge.  She already killed O-Ren Ishii and Vernita Green in the first movie, so now she sets her sights on Budd.  But Budd is waiting for her, and shoots her in the chest with a shotgun blast full of rock salt, and then proceeds to bury her alive.  A little trick she learned from her master Pai Mei (Gordon Liu) helps her escape and allows her to go after Budd again, but Elle Driver beat her to the punch.  Now The Bride can kill two snakes with one sword.

I found myself fairly bored by Volume 2, but I’m also well aware of the reason.  I know that Tarantino’s movies tend to be really talkie, but after the excitement and swordplay of the first one, I went into the second one expecting something different.  This is not to say that Volume 2 is a bad movie, but it’s certainly a different movie, and I didn’t really want it to be.  The first movie was a sword fighting martial arts movie, and the second one was a slower paced spaghetti western.  In the first movie, The Bride kills somewhere in the vicinity of 90 people.  In part two, she kills two people.  It would’ve been three but she, like the movie, was moving too slow to get it done before Elle did.  It’s a bit of a harsh shock, but once you settle in to the movie, you get to liking it a little more.  The story is still a pretty typical revenge movie, but without the over the top sword fighting, I had to find something else to be interested in.  The dialogue was mostly Tarantino quality, so I paid attention to that instead.  I didn’t really dig on the fightin’ words between Elle and The Bride right before they fought.  Tarantino’s trend of having people sitting around and talking too much works at a table in a diner, but not so much right before two people kill each other.  And when that fight was over in three seconds after they finally stopped talking, that was a bit of a bummer.  The aftermath of the fight was pretty hilarious though.  I liked the monologue Bill delivers about Superman because it’s clever and it’s something that I’ve never though of before, but it also had very little to do with the situation.  It reminded me of the conversation about “Like a Virgin” from Reservoir Dogs.  I also liked the conversation between The Bride and the assassin, when The Bride has just found out she was pregnant.  Even though I still liked the movie, I felt it moved a little slow from the expectations I had going in.  I liked the Pai Mei flashback scenes, but the rest of it was too talkie and not enough action for my taste.

I had no real complaints about the performances in this movie.  Uma Thurman was still great, but the character of The Bride was not able to show her true badassness as well in this movie.  David Carradine was also really good.  I had mixed feelings about Michael Madsen’s character though.  I enjoyed the fact that Budd seemed to be the only one in the group that realized they deserved what The Bride was going to bring to them.  Doesn’t mean he intended to just let it happen though.  Problem with that part of it is that, when the time came, he decided to protect himself like a Bond villain.  The movie would’ve been over in the first 10 minutes if he had buckshot in his shotgun instead of rock salt.  And then he had to put the hero of the movie in a dangerous and difficult, but ultimately escapable situation.  If he had performed the coup-de-grace with a rock as he had suggested … well … he’d still be dead because The Bride didn’t kill him, but The Bride would’ve been dead.  Also, kudos to Madsen for burying The Bride in my hometown of Barstow.  I’ve always thought that place was only good for burying people alive in.

Ultimately, Kill Bill: Volume 2 is a really good movie that’s hindered by the expectations it’s predecessor set for me.  The first movie was exciting and spectacular, and the second movie was more low key and talkie.  Still good, but The Bride needed to get her sword wet a little to satisfy me.  I still recommend the movie though, especially since you need it to see the conclusion to the movie I recommended you buy yesterday.  I have this movie on Blu-Ray as well.  Kill Bill: Volume 2 gets “You’re a natural born killer” out of “Bitch, you don’t have a future.”

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Iron Man 2 (2010)


Sir, I’m Gonna Have to Ask You to Exit the Donut

Avengers is drawing ever closer, at present a mere 3 months away.  My nipples are so hard with excitement!  In an effort to further prepare myself and my audience, I have prepared a review of yet another Avenger movie.  Just like last time, this is one of two parts for a specific Avenger.  In fact, just like the last time, this one stars Iron Man.  This movie received some harsh treatment amongst the fans of the first movie, but their name is not on the top of this page.  So let’s see what I thought of Iron Man 2, written by Justin Theroux and Stan Lee, directed by Jon Favreau, and starring Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jon Slattery, Clark Gregg, Jon Favreau, Garry Shandling, Leslie Bibb, and the voice of Paul Bettany.  And with special appearances by Stan Lee and Olivia Munn.

Good old Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has been doing alright for himself since the times of the first movie.  He has a new convention, the Stark Expo, set up to continue his father’s legacy, he’s been doing a lot of good work with the Iron Man suit, and he’s dying of palladium poisoning.  …Okay, two out of three.  Other things start going wrong for Tony, starting with Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) telling him he has to turn over the Iron Man armor.  Stark refuses, citing that no one is remotely close to duplicating the Iron Man armor, and it belongs to him.  Problems come up with THAT theory when Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), son of the recently deceased Anton Vanko, replicates the arc reactor that powers the armor and uses it to attempt to take revenge on Tony – due to his inherited belief that the Starks stole the idea from Anton – by channeling the reactor’s power into whips.  Tony is able to overcome Vanko and Vanko is sent to prison, until he is freed by Tony’s rival, Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), and tasked to create better Iron Man armor.  Tony decides to make his assistant, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), the new CEO of Stark Industries, taking on Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson) as his new assistant.  This frees him up to take the self-destructive paths he had not the time for as the CEO.

I feel like people hated on this movie much more than it deserved.  Was it as good as the first one?  No, probably not.  But it wasn’t as bad as I’ve heard most people go on with.  Origin stories are easy because most of them have already been written and displayed in comic book form.  The fans just want to see that, but with more moving and less need for us to use our imagination.  When you come to the second movie, you mostly have a new script to work with, and it’s only occasionally something that’s already been written.  I thought the story was fine in this movie, the graphics were amped up a little, and the action was superior.  I wasn’t AS fond of it as I was with the first movie, but it was still pretty good.  It’s equally as funny as the first movie, though I would say the drama of the movie was toned down for this one.  Maybe that’s what people wanted out of an Iron Man movie.  Not me, however.  I went in wanting fun, and I got that.  One of the first things that comes to mind is the press conference that Tony was in.  I really liked that scene.  First, it was pretty funny that Tony was definitely not taking any part of that conference seriously.  The second thing I liked was when Don Cheadle showed up, because their brief dialogue made sense for the scene while simultaneously addressing the fact that Rhodes was a new actor.  They just kicked out something like “Yeah, I’m here now.  Deal with it,” which seemed to be a little bit of “Fuck off, nerds who will complain about this.”  The graphics of the original movie were already great, but you could argue that they got a little bit better with this movie.  I liked the whips that Rourke used, and I especially liked when he showed up with them for the first time and the whips burned his shirt off.  Then, when he was cutting off chunks of car with them, that was pretty sweet as well.  The portable Iron Man briefcase was a pretty cool idea, except that he kind of got his ass kicked in it.  For the first half of the movie, it only adds to my complaints about the first Iron Man movie: that the fights were too short or only gave us a half-powered Iron Man.  This one frightened me that the first big fight of the movie makes Iron Man into a bitch again, having him look like he’s going to lose to Vanko before barely pulling it out.  It ends up as kind of a stalemate when Tony fights Rhodes, but you can kind of get behind that because, though Tony is more experienced at fighting in the armor, Rhodes is more experienced at fighting.  But then they finally give me the payoff I wanted in the end of the movie, where something like 20 minutes is just a SUPER-powered Iron Man fighting seemingly infinite robots, mixed in with scenes of the Black Widow laying an epic ass whooping on about 8 guys in Hammer Industries … while Hogan struggled to beat The Rock’s stunt double.

The performances were still great in this movie, probably because the actors were either the same or replaced with better actors.  Robert Downey Jr. was still pretty charming.  He had a little bit of sadness this time around, but dying from palladium poisoning is a slight step down from being the reason a bunch of soldiers died.  Plus, he got that whole situation worked out.  I like Don Cheadle a lot more than Terrance Howard.  He’s a more likeable guy.  Gwyneth Paltrow is still great, but she was a little bit bitchier to Tony this time around, and that made me less fond of Pepper until near the end of the movie.  I appreciated that Samuel L. Jackson had a decent-sized role in this movie, as he had mostly just popped in for a second in the other Avenger movies.  Even though I had always known Nick Fury to be a white guy, Samuel L. Jackson is alright in my book.  Mother fucker.  Scarlett Johansson is a great addition as well.  Not only because I am always more than happy to look at that lady, and also not just because she looks really good as a redhead, but because that lady kicked some serious ass in this movie.  Sam Rockwell mostly got on my nerves in this role, and it’s strange that I like him even though most of his roles are fairly annoying dudes, but that is what he was going for here so I can’t blame him for it.  What I think I can blame him for is that he feels the need to dance in almost every role I can think of right now.  Even though that’s only three roles, he should tone that shit down.  The cameos were nice in this movie as well.  First, Olivia Munn is gorgeous and, even though she was only in for a couple seconds, I am always happy to see her.  Stan Lee was back in this one, and I like the running gag they have for him that he gets mistaken for a different old, white dude in each Iron Man movie so far.  First he was Hugh Hefner, and this time he was Larry King.

I have still been thoroughly entertained by the Iron Man movies, even if others have not.  Quality story, great actors, and a big step up in action makes me still be a fan of the series so far, even if the movie didn’t resonate quite as deeply with me as the previous movie.  By my count, I have only one Avenger movie left to review, so I guess I’ll need to find something else to throw in after that one.  But for now, we’re one step closer to the Avengers.  I own Iron Man 2 on BluRay, and I don’t see any good reason why you should not do the same.  Iron Man 2 gets “Nice work, Kid” out of “Drop your socks and grab your crocs, we’re about to get wet on this ride.”

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Jurassic Park (1993)


You’re Implying That a Group Composed Entirely of Female Animals … Will Breed? … Sexy!

The decision to watch today’s movie (and the ensuing remainder of the trilogy) happened because of my recent reviews of the Back to the Future trilogy. It wasn’t me thinking about great trilogies that got me interested, but every one of the Back to the Future movies began with a trailer about the recent BluRay releases of this movie’s trilogy. Then I says to myself that it’s been far too long since the last time I watched this, and their time had come. We get started with the original, Jurassic Park, written by Michael Crichton and David Koepp, directed by Steven Spielberg, and starring Sam Neill, Richard Attenborough, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards, Wayne Knight, Martin Ferrero, Samuel L. Jackson, and Bob Peck.

When a park worker is attacked and injured by something at his new park, lawyer Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero) tells eccentric billionaire John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) that the investors will pull out unless he gets some experts to sign off on it. Gennaro brings Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) and Hammond brings paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern). They take a helicopter to the park and that’s when they find out the magic Hammond has created: he’s reanimated the dinosaurs! I just spoiled the whole movie for you! And for another spoiler, it turns out that dinosaurs don’t get along with humans. That’s why Jesus killed them all 3000 years ago. Sarah Palin told me so. Anyways, Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) makes a move to steal a bunch of dinosaur embryo’s by shutting down the security around the park. Problem is, the above mentioned people are all out on a tour with Hammond’s grandchildren, Tim (Joseph Mazzello) and Lex (Ariana Richards), and the security gates and tour vehicles just simultaneously shut down in front of a Tyrannosaurus cage. I think we may have an idea where this is going. Spoiler alert: Jesus saves them all with his sweet, Jesus-y bisceps.

Have you guys heard of this movie? It’s pretty damned good! The story is fairly simple, but the premise is pretty well thought out and, more importantly, there’s lots of good action. The story of the movie is basically just that people are put into a predicament and need to escape it, but the premise of the movie is much better. Your typical action movie probably wouldn’t put very much thought into how the dinosaurs got there, but this one did. Being cloned from blood stored in the belly (or thorax or whatever they wanna call it) of ancient mosquitoes that are preserved in solidified amber. Then, in order to keep the dinosaurs from breeding and running amok on the island, they are genetically engineered to all be female. Then, to add another wrinkle (that doesn’t actually make any kind of a difference to this movie) they begin to breed because they’ve used some reptile DNA and there are apparently some frogs that can turn tranny when they live in a sausage party. I don’t know if any of these things are true and/or viable, but they worked for me. The action was great. The movie starts off pretty strong when we watch the guy get attacked by the Velociraptor, getting dragged up the side of the cage reminiscent of the girl in Jaws. It slows down for a little while as we meet our characters, but then ramps up the action increasingly once the dinosaurs get involved. The scene when we first meet the T-Rex still holds up as a fantastic scene, and it includes my favorite moment in the movie. It’s when the T-Rex has flipped over the car and is attacking the undercarriage of the car. It bites a tire, which releases air into it’s mouth, making it kind of step back and stare at it like a dog that’s confused when his toy squeaks. And that T-Rex still holds up. Even living in a world of Avatar, that T-Rex still looks great. And when the T-Rex throws down on a couple Velociraptors at the end of the movie, wins, and then roars triumphantly as a banner falls, it’s still pretty awesome. But a couple of things for this movie: why is the entirety of Jurassic Park only able to be accessed through DOS prompts? No one uses that anymore! Also, how are we to get behind Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum as our heroes when it takes them like 10 minutes of a T-Rex attacking the car with two kids in it to decide they should help? I understand that a T-Rex is intimidating and that little boy was pretty damned annoying, but you gotta do something, man! But the men aren’t the only assholes in this movie. Laura Dern was present for Sam Neill’s whole speech at the beginning of the movie about how Velociraptor’s will look you in the eye as two more attack you from the side, but she chose not to warn Bob Peck that he might be in that exact situation in a few moments. His blood is on your hands now, Dern!

The performances were pretty great in this movie. I always like Sam Neill. That guy’s pretty underrated and never really got the bump in his career that you’d expect this movie to give, even though he was great. The best scene of him was from right in the beginning of the movie when some chubby kid that had somehow gotten onto a dig site starts talking shit about Velociraptors and Sam Neill tells him that great story about how they would kill the shit out of his chubby ass. It gives you pretty much everything you need to know about the character right away. Very knowledgeable and passionate about dinosaurs, but could perhaps use a little bit of work on his ability to deal with kids. Laura Dern didn’t do much for me in this movie. She seemed just a hair above damsel in distress the whole time. She did fine, but not much more. Jeff Goldblum was … well, he was Jeff Goldblum. They just kind of let him talk and take what they wanted to use. He could get a little tedious, but was otherwise fine. Richard Attenborough was good in this movie. He was so happy all the time that he made me think he would probably play a great Santa Clause. The kids were alright too. Joseph Mazzello was a little annoying, but that’s what he was going for. Ariana Richards mainly just screamed a lot.

It’s so nice when you can look back on a movie you watched when you were 10 and enjoy it almost as much, and Jurassic Park does that. This movie holds up like a champ. Good story involving a well thought out and explained premise, and mostly great performances. The directing is Spielberg. That’s equivalent to great. It amazed me most of all that this movie’s graphics were still able to hold up so well, but they definitely do. As does the entire movie, for that matter. I only have them on DVD right now, but it’s just a matter of time before I re-purchase them on BluRay. This movie belongs in any collection, regardless of size. We’ll see if that goes for the rest of the series over the next two days. Jurassic Park gets “I spared no expenses” out of “If the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.”

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Pulp Fiction (1994)


And You Will Know My Name is the Lord When I Lay My Vengeance Upon Thee.

I sometimes get worried when I start a review after watching a movie that caused me to take almost no notes whatsoever. This usually doesn’t happen when watching a crappy movie because I think of lots of jokes to take down during those; this mainly happens during good movies. What is there to say about a good movie? Well, let’s find out. This movie was suggested by my friend Chris, a young crippled boy who probably submitted his request through the Make A Wish Foundation. Or he posted it on my Facebook page. Either way, this movie is a classic movie, much beloved by many people I’ve spoken to about it. As with most movies with such a pedigree, it took me a while to see it for the first time, but once I had, I loved it and bought it on DVD. When it was requested, I busted out that bad boy and sat down to write what you are presently reading. This movie is Pulp Fiction, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, and starring John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Ving Rhames, Bruce Willis, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette, Maria de Medeiros, Harvey Keitel, Peter Greene, Duane Whitaker, Alexis Arquette, Steve Buscemi, Kathy Griffin, Phil LaMarr, and Christopher Walken.

This here is a difficult movie to summarize, and even more without spoilers. So there will be spoilers, but I’m going to try to do this chronologically. Two hit men, Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), go to an apartment to pick up a briefcase with mysterious, shiny contents. They kill the people in the apartment and leave with their informant, Marvin (Phil Lamarr). On the drive, Vincent accidentally shoots Marvin in the face. They go to Jules’ associate’s, Jimmy’s (Quentin Tarantino), house to clean up the situation, but his wife, Bonnie, is coming home and they need to get it done by the time she arrives. The Wolf, Winston Wolf (Harvey Keitel), is called in by their boss, Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). He takes care of the situation and Vincent and Jules go to breakfast. Here, they get involved in a hold-up at the restaurant by Ringo (Tim Roth) and Yolanda (Amanda Plummer). Because Jules is reluctant to give up Marsellus’ case, it devolves into a Mexican standoff between the four. Jules defuses the situation and Vincent and Jules take the case back to Marsellus. Here, they see Marsellus paying off boxer, Butch (Bruce Willis), to take a dive in his fight. After turning over the case, Marsellus asks Vincent to take his wife, Mia (Uma Thurman), out for dinner that night to occupy her. He does, they have a nice night of dinner and dancing, and he returns her home. While he’s in the bathroom, Mia finds a baggie of heroin in Vincent’s jacket and snorts it, mistaking it for cocaine. She immediately overdoses and Vincent must rush her over to the house of his drug dealer, Lance (Eric Stoltz), and his girl, Jody (Rosanna Arquette). They are able to revive her by administering an adrenaline shot directly into her heart. Later, Butch does not take the dive in his match. Instead, he kills his opponent in the ring. His intention is to take the money and his girlfriend, Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros), and run away. But Fabienne has forgotten his watch, given to him as a child – along with a disturbing story of a POW camp and anal storage of said watch – by Captain Koons (Christopher Walken), who was in the POW camp with Butch’s father. Butch returns to his apartment for the watch and kills Vincent, who was there looking for Butch. On the way back to Fabienne, Butch sees Marsellus in the street and hits him with his car. Marsellus chases Butch into a pawn shop owned by Maynard (Duane Whitaker), who stops Butch moments from killing Marsellus. Maynard knocks out Butch and Marsellus. They wake up to find themselves tied to chairs with ball gags in their mouth. Maynard called in his buddy, Zed (Peter Greene), and they decide to rape Marsellus. Butch escapes but decides to go back to save Marsellus with a katana. Marsellus tells Butch to never come back to LA, which he happily does with Fabienne.

That is basically the entire movie, condensed to a paragraph. You get a two and a half hour movie out of that by filling it with lots and lots of dialogue. Normally, this would make for an excruciating movie, but this is written by Quentin Tarantino. Much like the oft-mentioned Kevin Smith, Tarantino is an expert at taking scenes where nothing is happening beyond people talking, and that conversation has nothing to do with moving the story along, but make it super compelling so you don’t mind or get bored. The dialogue is definitely the most appealing part to this movie, but that is not to say that the story should not be lauded. Take out all the dialogue and you’d still have a good movie, but not a great one. It’s funny in a lot of parts, dark and violent all over the place, and always intriguing. Though it works in this movie, I’m generally not a fan of the movies being shown out of order. In this movie, it’s fine, but it also makes it a little hard to follow the order of things. But now I’ve written it down in chronological order, so all is well. As with most Tarantino movies, the music is fantastic as well. He loves to throw in those old songs, most of which probably wouldn’t be remembered now were it not for him. Take Miserlou, for example. I like the song, but there is no way I would know that song if it weren’t for this movie.

The acting is pretty much all the way perfect in this movie. John Travolta was a quiet badass who remained calm throughout the greater majority of the movie, even with Bruce Willis pointing a gun at him moments before his death. The only time he lost his shit was when Uma Thurman was dying in front of him, and that was more about getting killed by Marsellus than it was about her death. Samuel L. Jackson was really intimidating at most parts of this movie, more so when he was staring a gun down it’s barrel in the restaurant and when he was quoting the bible at people he was about to kill. “I’m sorry. Did I break your concentration?” Priceless. Uma Thurman was probably as hot as she’s ever been in this movie, and very real as well. I’m not usually one to dig on Uma for whatever reason, but something about that hair do worked for me. Ving Rhames was a great, powerful character in this movie that had that power taken away by a good ass-raping. And he reacts to that much as I assume I would: with a shotgun blast to the rapist’s penis and a threat against anyone who may mention it ever again. I could go through everyone in this movie, but I’ll have the same thing to say about every character from the biggest to the most minor: very real, very good. I think the person that impressed me the most was right in the opening scene of the movie: Amanda Plummer. She comes off first as a sweet lady out to eat with her boyfriend, talking innocently about robbery possibilities. When it’s time to bust out the guns and rob the joint, she is frightening as hell. And later, when Roth has a gun pointed at him, her tough persona cracks drastically as she is terrified she’s about to lose her man to this endeavor.

No surprises here, people. If you’re looking to be shocked by my reviews, keep walking. But I can’t hate on every movie, people. I like stuff too! WHY DON’T YOU GET OFF MY BACK!?! …Sorry. Anyways, great story, fantastic dialogue, and amazing performances land this movie firmly in position for you to own it. Everyone either does or should. So go get it or watch it. Pulp Fiction gets “I want that trophy, so dance good” out of “I don’t need you to tell me how fucking good my coffee is.”

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