Young Guns II (1990)


I Shall Finish the Game.

Yesterday was bad times for me.  I got myself all set to have some fun reviewing a movie that was generally regarded as a classic western, only to be let down when it did nothing for me.  But there was a sequel to this movie that may fix it for me.  Unfortunately, Rotten Tomatoes claims this movie is even worse than the first movie.  …Damnit.  Well, Chris requested the first one, and I already own the second one, so I’m going to do it anyway.  And that’s how I came to review Young Guns II, written by John Fusco, directed by Geoff Murphy, and starring Emilio Estevez, William Petersen, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Christian Slater, Alan Ruck, Viggo Mortensen, R. D. Call, James Cobern, Balthazar Getty, Ginger Lynn Allen, Scott Wilson, and Tracey Walter.

An old guy named Brushy Bill Roberts tells an attorney that he would like to get the pardon that was promised to him when he was younger, back when he was known as William H. Bonney, or Billy the Kid (Emilio Estevez).  We jump into an hour and a half long flashback that starts with Billy after the dissolution of the Regulators, now working with “Arkansas” Dave Rudabaugh (Christian Slater) and Pat Garrett (William Petersen).  Billy agrees to meet with Governor Lew Wallace (Scott Wilson), and then agrees to testify against the Murphy faction from the first movie to receive a pardon, but soon finds that it was just a trick to arrest him.  While escaping, he finds that his old partners in the Regulators, Doc Scurlock (Kiefer Sutherland) and Jose Chavez y Chavez (Lou Diamond Phillips) were also captured, so he saves them as well.  His gang decides it’s time to head to Mexico to escape their troubles, but without Pat Garrett, who takes a job as Lincoln County Sheriff to hunt down Billy and kill him for $1000.

This movie actually worked out a little bit better for me.  I still wouldn’t call it a great movie, but it was more fun and much more enjoyable than the movie that came before it.  It was more fun this go around, but still a completely confused story.  They still weren’t able to keep on any coherent story.  Billy gets arrested, reunites with his friends, tries to go to Mexico, changes his mind, gets arrested again, escapes again, and the story goes on like this.  What sets this story apart from the first movie is that it was a little more fun to watch.  The action was realized in a better way that made them more exciting.  The emotional scenes were also allowed to have the weight to mean something to us.  What an interesting idea to let emotional scenes have some weight!  This would come mostly from Billy’s growing feelings that his time as an outlaw was coming to an end, his feelings of betrayal from what Pat Garrett was doing, and the loss of some of his friends.  But the new director of this movie knew how to film and cut this so that it would work for the audience.  I was also a fan of the bookending with Billy as an old man telling the story to the attorney, and even more of a fan of the fact that they didn’t overdo it.  The dialogue was also greatly improved for this movie.  The only thing I kept thinking while watching the first movie was that I thought Billy was supposed to say, “I’ll make you famous,” at some point, and it never came.  That’s because it was in this movie.

The performances were relatively unchanged as the actors were relatively unchanged.  Emilio Estevez still played Billy like he really enjoyed his own company, regardless of the relatively low percentage of funny things that were coming out of his mouth.  But that being the character he was going for, I can’t criticize it.  I still liked Lou Diamond Phillips the most because his character was the most awesome.  Dude takes a giant knife through the forearm and doesn’t even flinch!  Kiefer Sutherland replaced his lame moments of lovey-doveyness with being a bit of a complainer.  I had no issues with William Petersen as Pat Garrett, but I did take issue with Christian Slater as “Arkansas” Dave Rudabaugh.  Why would anyone ever let this guy on their team?  He was always acting like he was running the team or doing something horrible to piss off someone on the team, specifically Chavez.  He was a pretty irritating and unnecessary addition to the team.

Young Guns II had similar story problems to its predecessor, but was able to infuse a little more fun and enjoyment into the movie to help me see more of how people might actually like this movie.  I still wouldn’t say that I loved the movie as it seems some people do with the Young Guns movies, but it was okay, and far superior to first movie.  If you’re going to watch one, make it this one.  Young Guns II gets “I’ll make you famous” out of “When troubles come, they come not single spies but in battalions.”

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Conan the Destroyer (1984)


I Suppose Nothing Hurts You.  Only Pain.

The inevitable continuation of reviewing Conan the Barbarian is Conan the Destroyer.  When I went into Conan 1, I was well aware of what I was getting myself into.  I had watched the movie again not long before I started reviewing movies, so my memory of it was pretty clear.  Going into Conan 2, I wasn’t even sure that I had ever seen it before, even though I owned it as part of a two pack with the first movie.  But, as it was part of Chris’ request, I sat down to see if I had ever seen the sequel.  And that is today’s review.  Conan the Destroyer was based on characters created by Robert E. Howard, written by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, directed by Richard Fleischer, and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Olivia d’Abo, Sarah Douglas, Wilt Chamberlain, Tracey Walter, Mako, Grace Jones, Pat Roach, Jeff Corey, and Andre “The Giant” Roussimouff.

Conan the Cimmerian (Arnold Schwarzenegger), and his travelling companion Malak the thief (Tracey Walter), are praying at an altar when they are attacked by the guards of Queen Taramis (Sarah Douglas).  After they pass the test of their guards, the Queen offers a quest to Conan.  If he accomplishes the task of escorting her niece, Jehnna (Olivia d’Abo), and the Queen’s guard, Bombaata (Wilt Chamberlain), to retrieve a magical horn that only Jehnna can touch, Conan will be rewarded by having his love, Valeria, brought back to life.  But, before they leave, the Queen privately instructs Bombaata to kill Conan once the horn has been retrieved so that he won’t be around to stop them from sacrificing Jehnna to awaken the dreaming god Dagoth.  Also, he’s going to have to keep an eye on her because she needs to remain a virgin and Conan would most likely knock the bottom out on that girl.  The group sets off, making a pit stop to save the life of a crazy Amazonian chick named Zula (Grace Jones), who then joins them on their quest.

This movie’s really not a whole lot better than its predecessor.  It’s a different story, and a fine one, but it’s not the greatest thing ever.  Much as with the first movie, it never really feels like the writers were able to keep focused.  They have the one driving plot of the princess getting the horn, the side plot about the secret sacrifice, and then a couple of other things that seemed like distractions.  Finding Zula was a scene that took about 15 minutes longer than it should have taken given its relative lack of importance to the main plot.  The part with Conan getting drunk and chatting with the princess didn’t need to happen, as did the part with the princess trying to learn how to fight.  But it wasn’t nearly as distracted as the first movie seemed to be.  I did wonder about the whole part with Jehnna’s virginity.  They made a big deal about how she needed to return a virgin or the sacrifice couldn’t happen.  So big a deal was made about her virginity that I was sure there would be a part where Conan breaks her off a piece and that is what causes the ceremony to go wrong, but they never went for that.  There was never even a moment where there was a chance that Conan would hit it.  I don’t know why, as she was perfectly fuckable and seemed to dig on him.  I guess credit could be given for them not being too predictable.  Speaking of predictions, why did they have to tap the wizard Akiro to find out where the princess had disappeared to when she was taken by the wizard Thoth-Amon?  There was literally one place in 100 miles and they were looking right at it, but they still had to ask him and have him do the silly thing with his fingers he always did to say, “Oh!  She’s in that big castle we’re all looking at.  I guess that makes sense.”  I get the feeling that the actors in the movie used the time between the movies to practice with their swords because the action scenes had improved.  They seemed like someone actually choreographed them this time.  The settings in the movie were also very nice.  I liked the inside of Thoth-Amon’s tower a lot, and the room full of mirrors where Conan fights the invulnerable creature with the red hood.  It was really reminiscent to the room of mirrors scene from Enter the Dragon.  The creature he fought there wasn’t particularly well done, being fairly obviously a guy with a mask on.  In contrast, the creature at the end of the movie was pretty good looking and came off as pretty intimidating even though its mouth and neck looked like a loose vagina.

The cast did fine and suited their parts, but their parts were not always that appealing.  Schwarzenegger was still Schwarzenegger and did not put on that much of a performance, but it seemed like his English was better in this movie than in the last.  His part basically just required him to be a big pile of meat, and he’s good at that.  Olivia d’Abo bummed me out, though.  She was pretty hot and her boobs always seemed right on the verge of escaping her clothing, but it never happened.  Fuckin’ tease.  Her hotness came in stark contrast to Grace Jones.  This chick was supposed to be a model at one point, right?  I have no idea what her appeal is supposed to be.  She looks a lot like Tommy Davidson from Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.  I liked Mako as an actor, but by this point I had gotten sick of how ineffectual his character was.  In the first movie, he did next to nothing beyond narration.  In this movie, he had maybe one or two scenes where he used the magic that he was known for wielding.  Also, Tracey Walter’s character replaced Subotai as his partner.  But Subotai was usually pretty stoic in the first movie, whereas Malak was clearly just there for comic relief.  And he was just as annoying as any other comic relief person that can’t produce comedy.  I also would’ve liked a mention to what happened to Subotai from the first movie to this one.  Did he die in the same contract negotiations as Sandahl Bergman?

Conan the Destroyer is only barely distinguishable from Conan the Barbarian.  They’re both pretty basic stories that seem very distracted from their goal, the looks of the movies are fairly good for the time period, and the action has actually been choreographed, to this movie’s credit.  Both are decent enough movies that still hold up fairly well for their age, and I can recommend both for some fairly mindless action.  Conan the Destroyer gets “Enough talk!” out of “A fine magician you are!”

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.