Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Random Movie: Eclipse (2010)

Film series typically do not get better over time. I could point to any collection of recurring films but you can draw your own examples of multiple movies that fall victim to the effect of diminishing results. The Twilight series is possibly an exception as it is based on a series of books by a first-time author, which as you might be able to attest from reading this site, who could only get better over time.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Random Movie: Twilight (2008)

Twilight is one of only a few movies that I like in spite of the underlying story. As I am not a seventeen-year-old girl or a woman-of-a-certain-age or any other female in between, the bulk of the movie just does not appeal to me in the same fashion as other forbidden-romance movies do not. I watch movies to see things I cannot see otherwise and an angst-ridden love story can be found many times over without the fawning of females or the ire of everyone else in the middle.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Random Movie: The House of the Devil (2009)

Written by: PBF

Hooray! Another movie where you can get into an argument with someone about whether a large chunk of it was either good or bad!

The House of the Devil opens with Samantha, a college student, checking out an apartment for rent. She really wants it, and the landlady is very willing to work with her by waving the deposit, but Samantha is still short on cash. She takes a job as a babysitter that she sees advertised on a flyer. Samantha's friend Megan takes her to the mansion where the family lives, and it is discovered that there is no child. Mr. Ulman tells Samantha that he really needs someone to stay with his mother. Samantha is quite creeped out by this, but Mr. Ulman offers her $400. She agrees. Megan does not care for this at all and leaves quite annoyed, but agrees to return to pick Samantha up at 12:30am. The Ulmans leave as well and the "horror" begins.

This film is an exact replica of late 70's early 80's horror movies in look, music, plot and pretty much everything else. An appearance by Dee Wallace as the landlady sort of solidifies this. And I mean every detail. The opening credit sequence, the Sony Walkman Samantha has, the hair, everything. All of this is not done in jest, but rather as a throwback or homage. And quite well done at that. I mean, just look at that poster. The acting was great, the directing was great. There are some pretty good moments that should cause you to jump out of your seat. The thing that is going to make or break this film for you is a giant portion of it where Samantha is in the house wandering around. You are either going to find it very slow and boring or you will find it suspenseful and perhaps even a satisfying build up. I actually did not realize how long this part of the film went on until eventually something happened, and the movie was over like 15 minutes later. The end of this film is a bit odd, and if you did not like that slow section of the movie, you will no doubt hate the end, and may call it anti-climatic or not good enough to justify the long period of relative inactivity. But that is the type of horror movie that the director, Ti West is trying to emulate. If you are expecting a murderous psychopath chopping heads off every 2 minutes, you are watching the wrong film. This is a very nice change of pace from the usual fare that is out there, and in that respect, it was a bold choice to to make it. I would really hope that those who find fault with this film would at least recognize that as a success.

This is a decent picture. It is very well executed, and conjured up pleasant memories of original versions of classic horror, as opposed to being lumped together with lackluster reboots, sequels and the modern over-hyped pieces of shit that do not belong in the horror category.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Random Movie: Teeth (2007)

Written by: PBF


Teeth has the potential to be very silly and outlandish, but is it remarkably restrained considering the subject matter.

Dawn is a teen that gives presentations to other kids about “The Promise.” The promise is to remain abstinent. In fact, so pure is she, she wears a sweater with a unicorn on it. She meets Toby, who shares her vision and they instantly like each other. One day at the swimming hole,  Toby unfortunately tries to break this Promise with Dawn, to horrifying results. His dick gets bitten off by the teeth in Dawn’s vagina.

As mentioned before, this premise may conjure images of poor quality special effects involving giant foam teeth or the like. However, we actually only ever see one tooth, extracted from one of Dawn’s victims. We do see a bit of emasculation aftermath, which is sure to induce phantom crotch pains to any male viewer, but, these scenes were quite realistically done (I can only speculate). The acting and directing were all quite competent as well. In fact, there really isn’t a whole lot to complain about, with the possible exception that is was pretty damn boring. Part of this was due to knowing that this woman had Vagina Dentata, but this is not present itself until about half way into the film, but by that time, the slow pace had almost lulled me to sleep. So when all the dick biting began, I was merely jolted into paying attention by the fear of this ever happening to me, and disturbing scenes like the one where a dog chews a freshly detached penis. It is rather funny to see Dawn go from rigid virgin to rapist dispatcher, but this film just really was hard to stay interested in the whole time, which is quite a shame, given is very unique and potentially life altering story line.

It is worth a viewing I would say, just to have seen a film like this, but don’t expect anything more than to be mildly uncomfortable and bored.

Random Movie: Feast (2005)

Written by: PBF


In season 3 of Project Greenlight, Marcus Dunston and Patrick Melton (writers), as well as John Gulager (director) were selected as the winners, and got to make Feast.

Feast opens in a bar in the middle of a desert, where the patrons are doing normal bar things, like shooting pool and drinking. A man comes in covered in blood, with the head of some creature, and explains that there are 4 of these things, and they are hungry. He is asked who he is and he replies, “I’m the guy that is going to save your ass.” He is then immediately pulled through a window and eaten, the first one to die. His name? “Hero.” The rest of the film is spent watching the group band together and try to survive.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Random Movie: Gummo (1997)

Um, yeah. So, Gummo sure is a movie. If you got 100 people drunk to the point where they became “philosophers,” and then showed them this film, then allowed them to discuss it with one another, World War III would erupt. People seem to either violently like it or violently hate it.

Gummo implants you in to a town called Xenia, Ohio after a tornado has devastated it, killing a lot of the residents (and their pets according to the half assed narration).  We watch several different characters as they meander through life, and I assume dealing with their losses, some more outwardly than others. These people are poor, filthy and some demented, the latter possibly a result of the aftermath of the tornado. The film is a bizarre mix of “home footage,” live action, and some folks even directly addressing the camera. There really is no plot as such; we are simply taken for a ride through this miserable existence, and left to glean whatever we like from it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Random Movie: The Forsaken (2001)

Unlike some other teen-based horror movies that came out in the late 90s and early 00s, The Forsaken never really made a big splash when it first came out and seems to have faded into obscurity, relegated to random showings on late night cable even with the popularity of other vampire properties soaring. Like many of its cinematic brethren from that era, Forsaken really offers nothing new or differentiating in cinema or story. It is just a cleanly produced, slick offering catered towards the slightly younger crowd who probably would not notice its flaws.

Kerr Smith stars as Sean, low-level assistant for a film studio in Hollywood who has been hired to drive a mint car to Miami where he will attend his sister’s wedding. On the way, he meets up with Nick, played by Brenden Fehr who seems a bit too knowledgable in helping a young girl who acts very erratic after being bitten by a vampire. Nick shares that he too was bitten by a vampire over a year ago but has been able to contain the spread of the vampiric virus through a specific blend of medications. Nick is on a mission to track down and kill the main vampire to stop the spread of the infection through their bodies.

Viewing this movie is similar to watching a sporting event that you do not give a rat’s ass about. While the film is fairly proficient on a technical level and not a craptastic train wreck, not one thing about it is memorable from the story to the cast to the locale. I felt a grand sense of deja vu while watching this thinking back to John Carpenter’s Vampires. Vampires itself is not a very good movie but no one can deny that Carpenter at least has some strong talents even when the movie he is making blows chunks. I am convinced that writer/director J.S. Cardone was trying to infuse half of Carpenter’s ideas with other, better, vampire movies like Lost Boys with nary an original though to ride along.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have seen the entire series of Dawson’s Creek which features Kerr Smith in the bulk of those episodes. While he is good there, as well as other more recent fair like the My Bloody Valentine remake, Smith is just utterly bland here as with the rest of the cast. Other than the contrived plot to get him on a cross-country journey, we know very little about his character Sean, his traveling companion Nick, the mostly mute random girl they pick up, any of the vampires … you can probably see where this is going. I will say some backstory to the bloodsuckers is given but it is largely inconsequential to the rest of the film and I missed it the first time around and I did not feel like rewinding the DVR.

Some of the choices of the story were just baffling. Nick explaining that he has been able to keep the infection at bay for over a year without any side effects or other damage really puts a damper on any sort of urgency that would otherwise accompany. Also, the fact that the vampires are just as likely to run you down in a car, slit your throat, or shoot you with a gun almost negates any need for them being vampires at all as opposed to a posse of crazed, desert-lurking weirdos. As such, the carnage is limited to gallons in a minimal amounts of scenes and there are more portions of car chases and action movie shootouts than gory kills or feeding.

I can just skim through the list of some of the movies we have reviewed and give you a bunch of worse movies but at least there may be a good performance, scary scene, or flat-out cheese to laugh at. Just like another Cardone script, Prom Night, The Forsaken is not so much a bad film as it is totally forgettable.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Random Movie: Feast II: Sloppy Seconds (2008)

Written by: PBF

Wow. I haven’t seen a franchise go downhill this quickly since A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 came out.

So, Feast II picks up after the first one stops. We see all but two of the survivors driving off, as we did in the last one. Biker Queen, who thankfully is a biker, as her name might make for an uncomfortable work day in another vocation, comes across a dog with a hand in it’s mouth. Like any other rational human being would do, she shoots the dog several times with a shotgun. Upon inspection, she notices that the hand has the other half of a tattoo that she also has; the word “sister.” We find out that Harley Mom, who was killed in the first movie and Biker Queen are sisters. Bartender, who had a sort of heart attack and his throat slashed in the first movie is on the ground nearby and Biker Queen questions him about her dead sister. Bartender explains that Bozo (one of the survivors that drives off at the beginning) was responsible. So Biker Queen takes him as a hostage and drives to town to try to find Bozo so she can kill him. We are introduced to various characters, only this time in a less clever fashion than in the first film. Their name only is shown this time, and each one sort of gives us a quick bio of them self. We see them at their jobs or home for a few minutes, and then monsters end up attacking and these characters end up escaping. Ultimately Biker Queen and her gang of girl bikers, two midget Mexican wrestlers named Thunder and Lightening (and their Grandmother), Slasher (car salesmen that slashes prices), his wife Secrets and the man she is cheating with (Greg Swanker) and Bartender end up having to form a group and survive this ordeal. We also run across Honey Pie who was a survivor of the first film, having made it out of the bar to a truck, but ended up driving off and leaving the others. Bartender gives her the beating of a lifetime, bites her ear off, and then pushes her out the window when he runs across her. Honey Pie ends up by herself having her own boring adventure for the entire film.

What disappointed me most about this film, was that it was gore just for gore’s sake. It was just blood blood blood, heads and torsos. And it is pretty vile. It wasn’t nearly as clever or funny as the first film. This time the film makers seemed to get a lot of kicks making the monsters piss and shit, rape cats and having all the humans vomit at least twice each. There was a catapult built from a motorcycle and clothes (excuse for nudity), and did I mention midget Mexican wrestlers? I’ll tell you another thing, this movie dragged so much. Part of the problem was the side “story” of Honey Pie trapped in a store. Absolutely nothing happened with her (unless you count a really weird dream involving maggots). Bartender could have just killed her and the movie would have been just fine without her. I suspect she was just a time filler. It was great; we would have a really long stretch of boring shit with the main group, then cut to a really long stretch of boring shit with Honey Pie. My assumption is, that in order to try and make this different than the first film which took place entirely in a bar, the film makers wanted this one to be on the move, and have people survive longer. This unfortunately did not work. It screwed the pace up horribly. It also just abruptly stops, indicating that there will be a sequel (which there is) only further pissing me off that nothing got resolved during the previous 97 minutes.

The only thing further I can say is, this made me miss Henry Rollins.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Random Movie: Antichrist (2009)

Written by: PBF
The title of this film coupled with my categorization of "horror" might throw you off a bit. Those two words in reference to a film may conjure up images of really horrible acting and demons killing priests or something. You will not find that here. This, in fact, is probably not comparable to any other film you have seen.

Here is the basic plot of Antichrist, as there is a lot going on. A married couple, whose names are never revealed, are making passionate love, when their young son Nic, falls out of a window to his death. The wife, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg, is incredibly grief stricken, and spends a month in the hospital. Her husband, played by Willem Dafoe, is a therapist and decides that she is not getting the help she needs and takes her home and makes her his "patient." She acts out violently through sex, is generally inconsolable and has sudden attacks of anxiety. Her husband decides that she must face fear and be exposed to it directly and asks her what place frightens her the most. She tells him the woods that surrounds Eden, their cabin. She spent the previous summer there writing a thesis about Gynocide, touching on the theory that women are inherently evil. We learn that she originally rejected this theory, but later came to subscribe to it. At the cabin, the husband administers psychotherapy to the wife, through various exercises. Their stay at the cabin becomes increasingly bizarre (perhaps more for us than them, as I seemed more puzzled than they did) and the wife's condition turns into something that may be more deep than severe depression. This film was written and directed by Lars von Trier.

I will tell you that I probably did not understand the "point" that this film was trying to make, if indeed it was trying to make a specific one. The film is beautifully shot; almost every scene a work of art. Both Defoe and Gainsborug are superb, and other than their child at the beginning (and other blurred faced characters) they are the only ones in the film. The film is segmented by a Prologue, 4 chapters: Grief, Pain, Despair and the Three Beggars (referring to an animal in each of the previous 3 chapters: a deer, a fox and a raven, in that order), and then an Epilogue. The Prologue is quite a wonderfully shot opening. Black and white slow motion against what I believe is a Handel aria. Shower water and snow are shown in individual drops and flakes. The Epilogue is also shot in black and white and uses the same music. The tagline of this movie, as well as several other sources that reference it state that nature, the entity (or Satan's church as the wife calls it), turns "evil" which I hesitate to tell you, as I fear you may then flashback to The Happening, which is pain that I do not wish to inflict on even my enemies (I have no enemies). Also, I may have to disagree with that. I feel like it may be suggested that nature has something to do with the wife's behavior, in the sense that there is a belief that women are inherently evil. But I don't think there was any strong emphasis placed on nature being the "villain" in the film. Regardless, there were several instances of sudden breeze, very much like that piece of shit Shayamalan film, but instead of people freezing and killing themselves or each other, one of the Three Beggars presents themself, and in the case of the Fox, exclaims, "Chaos reigns." The shock referenced in the title that appears when you hover the pointer over the poster in this post, stems from the violent sex and masturbation scenes that occur regularly in this film. The horror, from scenes such as the one involving a hole being drilled in to a leg and a grindstone being attached to it. There really is not that much gore at all, rather violence that (mostly) isn't directly shown on camera. I will tell you, however, there is one scene in which a particularly brutal act occurs off camera, but was still wildly uncomfortable. Whatever the cause, the depiction of the wife's migration from grief to "evil" is fascinating to watch, due to Gainsbourg's performance. Defoe, while great, pretty much remains the same intrigued husband slash psychoanalyst determined to fix his patient until the very end.

This movie may give you a lot of things to figure out, and a shit load of religious references to figure out the symbolism of, but I honestly don't think all of it has any deeper meaning. And in fact, I as I recall the movie while writing this, you may not even find it that shocking. It certainly ignores any formula or "rules" that other movies employ, so in that respect it is shocking. von Trier does basically whatever he wants, but it fits within the context of the film. I will recommend it to folks who want to see something that strays from the norm, and even call it "good" in that capacity. I certainly do not think it was bad, but it is not something to just sit down and watch to kill time. Dedicate the entire 108 minutes to this film, with no distractions.',

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Random Movie: Repulsion (1965)

Written by: PBF

Repulsion is Roman Polanski’s first English language film. It is quite well done. Also, I am in love with Catherine Deneuve. Well, 1965 Catherine Deneuve.

Carole (played by Deneuve) lives with her sister Helen. Helen, has a boyfriend, Micheal, who is married, yet spends a lot of time at Carole and Helen’s apartment, much to Carole’s dismay. It is clear almost immediately, Carole doesn’t like Michael and possibly men in general. Later we find out that this is an understatement. Carole has a boyfriend, or is dating a man named Colin, but tends to shy away from him and sometimes doesn’t even show up for dates. Carole goes so far as to throw away Michael’s razor and toothbrush because he puts them in her bathroom water glass. She doesn’t seem to have a hatred towards men so much as a dislike and even fear of them. This is indicated by actions such as vigorously wiping her mouth off as if it were dirty after being kissed and not letting Colin hold her arm. Helen and Michael go on vacation to Italy leaving Carole alone, and to unravel. Her phobia quickly becomes an extremely disturbing psychotic couple of weeks, and quite a satisfying movie.

This picture is a fine example of how suspense and even silence, can be just as effectively uncomfortable, if not more so, than violence and blood. The telephone and doorbell that constantly ring, the bells outside, the barking dog and the constantly cracking walls (that perhaps symbolize Carole’s ever deteriorating sanity) are all supremely employed to make the viewer quite agitated and feel somewhat overwhelmed. Contrary to that, there are long periods of silence that are also quite unnerving, especially when used during 3 hallucinatory rape scenes. I found the use of silence in these scenes particularly, to be a brilliant choice. Yes, this is without a doubt one of the best directed films I have ever seen. Also, Deneuve, is simply superb playing Carole. As Carole spends time alone in her apartment, she sits in the dark, lets food rot and just generally deconstructs. We can speculate that the reason for her madness is molestation; she constantly is wiping herself off suggesting that she feels unclean. She hallucinates that arms are coming out of the walls and grabbing her, once specifically on her breast. She also appears to have at least a slight desire to be with a man sexually, but at the same time is (cleverly) repulsed by it. Molestation is not directly addressed in the film, however. It is suggested, by a photograph of a clearly unhappy Carole as a child staring at a man (Father?), but nothing further to confirm this or any other reason. It really is not relevant in my opinion and not knowing for sure just makes the film more eerie (as it may suggest the possibility that the fear is just plain irrational and has no basis in reality). At the very least, not confirming one way or the other is just a brilliant director’s choice to leave something open to interpretation. There is also a bit of violence as well, which I think was well placed to release the tension that was built up prior to those scenes. You would be hard pressed to find things not to like about this film.

I feel like a lot of people hear the name Polanski, and cannot remember a movie that he directed, with the exception of Rosemary’s Baby (or perhaps The Ninth Gate, unfortunately). I suggest starting with this film, and moving up his resume to get to know this filmmaker.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Random Movie: Razortooth (2007)

Written by: PBF

Jesus, where do these movies come from? Apparently from a producer of The Devil’s Rejects. Thanks, movie poster!

Razortooth, I assume is the eel’s name. No one ever called it that, but it has sharp teeth, so I jumped to that conclusion. We find ourselves in the Everglades, or a reasonable facsimile. There is Delmar, who is with Animal Control, and can make the ladies wet better than a 15 foot long giant eel can (as you might imagine, what with the name Delmar), and his ex wife Ruth, who is the Sheriff. Delmar is doing Animal Control type things while Ruth is looking for 2 escaped convicts. There are also some young scouts (as in boy and girl scouts, but some generic movie scouts) who are paddling around in canoes. Finally we have some college kids who are meeting Dr. Abramson to help him with his eel project. As you have probably deduced without even having to watch the movie, we find out that Dr. Abramson is responsible for the eel. It is a product of genetic engineering and was purposely given a defect in which it can’t metabolize sugar, so it wouldn’t eat the orange groves. Never mind making sure it doesn’t grow to an alarmingly huge size and kill people; let’s give it diabetes. You should also know that the eel can “breathe through its snout,” and therefore can go on land. No portable toilet is safe.

The eel actually did me a great service; it picked off a bunch of terrible actors, one at a time. As you might imagine, the acting in this movie is on the same level as any made for TV Saved By the Bell film. Equally as bad are the special effects. I highly recommend watching this in HD, so that you can see just how bad they are. For some reason the eel only enjoys eating the bottom half of people and quite frequently we see random intestines sort of floating on the screen below someone’s rib cage. The suspense was rather poor as well. Pretty much anytime there was a large part of the screen that was unoccupied, you could bet your crack money that eel would show up. With all of this worthlessness going on, I was looking forward to pointless angry swearing. But, alas, none. I think the harshest word uttered in the film was “bitch.” Are you fucking kidding me? Not one swear word? These people can’t even make a bad movie right.

Was it as bad as Flesh Freaks? No. But it was bad. I would steer away from this one.

Random Movie: Splice (2010)

I must say I am a pretty uninformed movie goer sometimes. Case in point, I knew very little other than the basic premise for Splice going into it. However, I also knew that it received largely positive reviews when it screened at festivals earlier in the year, that it was a surprising pick-up by Warner Brothers, and it was going to be launched into theaters across the country to battle such populist dreck like Shrek and Marmaduke. I was expecting a well-done, but mostly generic sci-fi horror thriller but Splice is much more than that.

Clive and Elsa are scientists under the wing of a pharmaceutical company tasked with synthesizing proteins to combat a gaggle of biological baddies, mostly for commercial uses. After successfully splicing genes from multiple species to create a miniature Starship Troopers brain bug, they want to advance their work and splice human genes. When this is shot down by the greedy bosses, Clive and Elsa forge ahead with the intention to terminate the experiment before it births an organism. This does not go to plan and soon after they have created a being of sorts who starts off looking like a bald, mutated guinea pig before developing human characteristics. Mayhem then ensues.

Or, scratch that. Mayhem really does not ensue after all. Co-writer and director Vincenzo Natali could have taken the picture down the lazy river and had the human-ish thing, affectionately named Dren, escape and go apeshit on society at large. It is shocking that a major studio would allow such a leisurely story as mostly it revolves around Clive and Elsa, their relationship, and their ties to Dren as she develops further. The cast is small, the focus is tight, and the action and carnage is limited to a few scenes here and there. While I tagged this under the category of horror, drama would almost be a more appropriate genre to place Splice under as human relationships and interactions fuel the story more than gore and death scenes.

Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley are great as the couple, involved both professionally and intimately. As the film progresses, they leave questioning the morality of bringing Dren into the world and instead focus on their responsibilities towards her. Very easily could the two leads have sat around, wringing their hands with guilt and fear over the implications of Dren’s existence but instead the three become a sort of dysfunctional family complete with unspoken anger and underlying hostilities towards one another. Polley has the biggest load here as Elsa is not only fighting the demons of her childhood and her negligent mother but also the urge to become like her as Dren becomes too much to handle as she progresses.

The fortunate thing about Splice is that Dren is at least seventy-five percent human being with a modicum of CGI thrown in to create her four fingered hands and disjointed legs. In the majority of the movie, Delphine ChanĂ©ac plays the creature with the same attributes as an infant or young animal with wide eyes of curiosity but a bad attitude when things do not go her way. ChanĂ©ac’s acting goes a long way though to sell the subtle head turns of confusion like a dog and learning to dance as a young lady which not only let us invest in the character and her “journey” but also in Clive and Elsa as they struggle to gasp the effects of their short-sidedness.

The only real issue with the film was the climax which not only seems unnecessarily rushed but also shoehorns in random characters that seem to only serve as a way to increase the body count. As it is a fairly intimate movie between the three main characters, I would have rather they be the only parties involved as a way to wrap up the story in the same fashion that it began. That minor quibble aside, Splice is the complete antithesis to what a similar concept would have yielded in the hands of SyFy or The Asylum. It has heart, it has depth, and it is a good movie. Mega Piranha or The Terminators cannot say that.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Missed Opportunities! Top 9 Sequel-less Movies

If it seems that Hollywood is all about the easy dollar these days with remakes, adaptations, and sequels to existing properties, you would be correct. But let us remember a time, back in the day if you will, that movies could be movies without launching franchises. Here are several pretty big movies that may (or may not) have missed their shot at spawning offspring.

9. Twister
The inclusion of this film may be premature, but it is hard to believe that 1996′s $240 million blockbuster did not spawn a sequel. Maybe a sequel could shift the focus to Alan Ruck and Philip Seymour Hoffman in a small town where tornadoes are targeting a nuclear power plant. Oh wait. Zack Morris already did that movie.

8. Independence Day
This is another one with recent rumbles of a sequel but who knows when we might see more of Bill Pullman playing President Awesome or Will Smith being … every other action star Will Smith has ever played. Now, I get that this is not a high-caliber movie but who did not cheer when Randy Quaid did very suggestive things to that alien spaceship? Anyone? Okay, moving along now.

7. Runaway
You have all of the elements of classic 80s and cheese in this movie: mustache, KISS, Kirstie Alley. Why did Michael Crichton never think to get on a sequel where Lois goes hay-wire and carves up young Bobby for Thanksgiving dinner? Get Paul Stanley this time as the evil genius behind it all, add Shelley Long in the mix and you’ve got yourself a blockbuster going!

6. Galaxy Quest
Star Trek fans may not have liked it too much but Galaxy Quest was fine cinema spoof and/or satire (I can never tell which) at its very best. I am sure it can’t be hard to drag Tim Allen back for another after the latest Toy Story movie comes out. The rest of the cast … eh, that may be a bit harder. As long as Sam Rockwell is in, I can dig it.

5. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Director Robert Zemeckis had over a decade after the first before he would go crazy with motion-capture animation, more than enough time for a sequel to reunite Roger Rabbit, his lovely wife Jessica, baby Herman, and the rest of the animated and live-action cast. Hell, if Bob Hoskins wasn’t available, we could have lived with Kenneth Branagh in his place.

4. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
If anyone could make calling in for a sick day from work entertaining, it would be Ferris Bueller. You know you’ve played hooky from work to sit around and read Movie Scum or plant in the garden. It would be tough now without John Hughes but to see Ferris weasel his way out of staff meetings and team building exercises just to drink beer and watch porn would be the catharsis of an entire working class.

3. Office Space
Realizing it would be next to impossible to recapture the passive-aggressive, self-loathing sense of the characters in the original, I would love to see another workplace comedy that nails the characterizations of the smug, SOB boss, annoying co-workers, and sense of dread when walking into a cubicle farm or retail establishment or fast food restaurant or anything else Mike Judge deems is funny.

2. Blade Runner
Sure, so it tanked at the box office back in 1982. But since then, the tales of replicant-hunting Deckard have been etched into the mainstream of cult cinema and beloved by all … except me that is. Possibly a forthcoming sequel could entice me to actually sit and watch the entire first part without falling asleep or becoming insanely homicidal from boredom. So what if it’s over twenty years later? That didn’t stop another Harrison Ford series from being unjustly resurrected.

1. Any Arnold Schwarzenegger movie (except Conan, Predator or Terminator)
Just look at his resume and tell me you would not want to see a sequel to Commando, The Running Man, or Total Recall. Hell, I’d even be game for a Kindergarten Cop sequel if it was Ah-nuld in high school English as he wields puns in his thick Austrian accent. I would really love though a True Lies sequel if James Cameron can get off his giant CGI Smurf infatuation.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Random Movie: Iron Man 2 (2010)

Three years ago, a guy like me would have never had a concept of, nor would have cared about, a B-series comic book hero like Iron Man. Sure, he is a superhero featured in a barrage of comic books but Iron Man did not have the household appeal of the other more well-known comic book superheroes. With 2008’s feature Iron Man, that all changed as the wealthy son of an intellectual rose to stand along side the The Dark Knight and the Man of Steel.

Picking up where the previous film left off, Tony Stark has outed himself as Iron Man and is subsequently dealing with the consequences of the injury that birthed his suited armor and the power it entails. However, as a man who has “privatized world peace,” Stark enjoys his adventures fighting the big baddies as much as his detractors like to point out the danger in his technology’s existence. When the son of his father’s former collaborator creates a powerful suit of his own, Stark is busy fending off other corporate slimeballs, frenemies, and disgruntled Russian physicists.

Iron Man is almost the polar opposite to a superhero like Batman. He may do what he does somewhat begrudgingly, but Stark is drunk on the power he exudes as Iron Man. He was a filthy rich playboy before the incident that caused shrapnel to circle his heart and a minor medical impairment does not cease those activities. He has the money, the technology, and the ambition to become the most important man in the world (suited or not). The film mirrors Stark’s lifestyle as instead of brooding shots of urban landscapes and harping on the disease of human nature, Iron Man the character and the movie are focused on spectacle and importance that being a superhero would likely carry.

Most of the main cast from the first film are back for the second installment, save for Don Cheadle taking over for Terrence Howard in yet another jarring recast. Robert Downy Jr. is still on his incredible streak of awesome movies and characters that was cemented by his first turn donning the Iron Man gear. His portrayal of Stark is a magical combination of cocky jack-ass with a dash of used-car salesman slime wrapped in a cozy shell of a guy that you would admire but probably would not be friends with (at least not for very long). Gwyneth Paltrow fortunately is given more to do this time around as she assumes controlling power of Stark Industries.

Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell are along for the ride as a sexy double (or maybe even triple) agent and a wormy Stark Industries competitor respectively. Johansson might not have immediately sprung to mind as the best choice for Black Window but she pulled it off nicely with a good balance of strength to play off of Downy and kick-ass tendencies to take down a dozen guards in the blink of an eye. I especially enjoyed Rockwell though as the wimpy Justin Hammer, a guy so seemingly inept and wishy-washy that you wonder how even ascended to more than a janitorial supervisor. See also Galaxy Quest for another wonderful Rockwell performance.

The one new addition to the cast I was somewhat disappointed in was Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko. Coming off of a Downy Jr.-ish comeback, Rourke’s character was almost too one-dimensional comparatively to the rest of the cast and especially to Jeff Bridges’ villain in the first. As the scorned son of a former Stark Industries collaborator, Vanko seeks to avenge his father’s passing on Stark. This is all well and good but Rourke disappears for stretches of the movie and save for two very brief scenes when he is battling Iron Man, he role is mostly pedestrian as he tinkers with his physicist stuff. Also MIA quite a bit was Cheadle as Rhodey who steals an Iron Man suit and releases it to the government and Hammer because he feels Stark is a bit too immature to handle the power.

In all just like PBF commented on in a previous episode, Iron Man 2 falls into the same trap as Batman Returns. The core group of characters is greatly expanded to include new friends and foes taking time away from the existing cast and leading quite a lot going on. Fortunately, most of this is tied up within the actual story (the whole SHIELD subplot notwithstanding) but things could have gone much smoother with a more simplistic and straight-forward story.

Iron Man 2 is a solid picture though. Maybe not as solid as the first due to some of the small nitpicks that I pointed out but it is still an great couple of hours to spend with largely entertaining characters and stories.