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Well here we are with the sequel to a poor movie that was a spin off of another half assed kids movie, yet bizarrely this movie is actually pretty good! The first adventure in the skies was basically a very dull very poor 'Cars' spin off that didn't do anything we hadn't already seen in the 'Cars' movie. It was quite awful with seriously lackluster characters truth be told.
Yet despite this something has happened here which has turned the franchise upside down...almost. Yes its all the same dubiously cliched and stereotypcial characters and yes the plot isn't exactly the greatest piece of original writing ever to touch down...but its actually fun! Put simply, Dusty the Air Tractor has ruined his internal bits n pieces with too much hardcore racing. Whilst being the arrogant cocky little sod that he is he crashes and causes a fire which in turn alerts some fire safety inspector truck dude to close the airport due to lack of a decent firefighting crew. In order to restore the airport to its former glory Dusty goes off to Piston Peak National Park (GREAT NAME! and presumably in the Wyoming/Colorado area of this universe) to learn to be a firefighter plane.
From there on its the predictable overused age old scenario where at first Dusty finds it hard mixing in with the fire crew. He slowly gets to know the team, discovers one female plane fancies him but the chief Ranger chopper thinks he's no good for the team, he won't make the grade. After numerous training sequences, whinny sulky moments, some heart-to-hearts and one to ones...a major fire breaks out which means its time to get down to the business of saving the day hero style. Essentially its the underdog schtick all over again with a highly obvious outcome all round for every character...the little plane that could.
I think the main difference from the first movie is the fact the visuals here look really really nice. Don't get me wrong its nothing that's gonna blow you away in a shower of epic CGI rainbows...it just looks very good and way way better than before. The first movie looked like an obvious made for TV flick and very basic. This time its been upgraded with a fresh coat of Turtlewax and its gleaming in every frame, background foreground and all the vehicle characters.
There is a wide selection of characters in here also but surprisingly that doesn't compromise the story. Actually many of the new characters are highly likable and really add a much needed to boost that was lacking before. Ed Harris as the Fire Ranger chopper is as you would expect...stern serious and without a sense of humour, but he's still a likable fella because he fair and righteous (not in an all American way though), and he looks good as a fire engine red chopper. Wes Studi voices a character that seems to be of Native American descent...I'm guessing by the way he speaks as I don't think its mentioned. This might seem incredibly cliched by now...which it is...but again he's a great character. His large green Skycrane design does eerily suit this Indian notion to a tee with its long curved blades that kinda look like long drapes of black hair and of course the helicopter wrap or colour scheme design seems to replicate typical Native American warpaint/face paint (around the eyes).
Gotta give kudos to the cool little team of smokejumpers that are made up of small JCB construction/excavator vehicles. Not only do these guys look quite cute nippy and cool, they are also quite amusing and not in any way annoying! I half expected them to leap into action by combining together to form a large Transformer-esque Constructicon (nerd smirk). There is a large voice cast in this movie, many small and large characters but at no point does it ever feel swamped, its handled well.
Despite the plodding exhausted plot premise at least they have tried to expand the story without retracing their steps. Yeah sure we've seen this kinda of thing before but the fact they make the old characters push forward into new territory creating a fresh angle for themselves (firefighting), and not going back to the old original plot premise of crop dusting/racing (which is hinted at but swept aside), is a big positive. I was sure at one point that Dusty would probably go back to his racing ways (predictably)...but no! he doesn't, he moves on and this in turn generates a nice new chapter for the franchise.
In that I wouldn't mind seeing another entry here. The blend of various vehicles is fun to watch if totally ridiculous at times, why would they need certain buildings like restaurants ? why would they have drinks in glasses at a function? wouldn't every building be humongous to house certain vehicles like large planes etc...Try not to get too technical with this incredibly insane premise as it is after all completely a kids flick and in no way meant to be taken any other way. Miles better than the first movie, leagues ahead with quality and some nice little visual gags for us older folk...Boat Reynolds! 'CHoPs' instead of 'CHiPs' (old 70s/80s TV show, in this universe its based around choppers/helicopters) and 'Howard the Truck'.
Two things really show how old this movie is, firstly it was made way way back in 1972 before I was born and way way before fancy special effects. Secondly its actually a TV movie so straight away that limits the feature big time...did I mention 1972? Yep this is some real small fry American TV drama here folks.
A paleontologist and his daughter travel to a remote shack where some old bloke shows them the skeleton of an ancient hellspawn, a demon. These demons are more commonly known as gargoyles on Earth, waiting to take over mankind for Satan...naturally. Now this area has been infested with reports of these demons for ages, since the era of Native American settlements apparently. Yet despite that no one has ever seen them in this area, but the minute the good paleontologist and his sweet innocent daughter turn up they start attacking the run down shack where the old bloke lives. The reason for this is the gargoyles are after the skeleton of their own kind for some reason...but they decide to do so when these outsiders are around.
In the aftermath of this attack the old fella buys the farm and the couples car is torn up badly. Yet again despite all that happens the duo take it oh so calmly. They aren't too bothered about the old guy getting killed and burned to a crisp, they don't report anything until the next day! and they aren't even bothered about the fact they were attacked by big scaly monsters. Hell even the gas station guy doesn't really question the damage...he'll just get it fixed by the next day!!
I guess the funny thing is these creatures have been living in the caves near this town for centuries yet no one knows of them or believes the duo...yet these things go out in broad daylight and fly around!! wut?! No one has ever gone near these huge caves apparently and no one has ever seen the gargoyles hanging around on the rocks as they do...ever. The acting isn't particularly bad or anything its just the plot and direction is rather comical and things don't really add up. I didn't realise demon spawns/gargoyles laid eggs and hatched their young, I would of thought they came up from hell or whatever.
This small film did win an Emmy award so I've found out, I'm guessing that was probably for the excellent makeup effects by good old Stan Winston (couldn't be for much else). This is really why I watched this old movie and I'm pretty sure its why everyone else watches it too. The films cover gives the game away unfortunately by showing you Casey in the top notch facial appliances...but I guess that was the films selling point, the focal point. That makeup job by Winston is darn good even today and its just draws you in, you gotta watch it for that. The rest of the suit isn't quite as good, by that I mean you can clearly see its just a rubber suit with covered shoes, hokey rubber fingers, plastic looking wings and obvious creases at the knees and waistline. The rest of the gargoyle horde are all the same in the sense that the faces are great but the rest is hokey, the cringeworthy movements by the extra actors in the suits don't help. I love how they slow down the footage when the gargoyles move into action trying to make them more creepy and heavy looking I guess...so 70's.
The film is never really scary or creepy at any point truth be told, not too sure if it was meant to be though, it feels more like an extended Twilight Zone episode. The location work is limited and sparse, nothing much in the form of set pieces or anything fancy, its just barren desert/wilderness. There is a car chase sequence which is rather boring because they keep going and going and going just showing the car and motorbike going past the camera at various stages, I swear this was time wasting.
I guess back in the day this could of been seen as a shifty dark horror, bit of claret on screen, definitely not for the kids. These days its so very amusing and hammy, so bad its good I guess. The fact that Casey's head gargoyle tells Wilde that he will never escape them or see another human ever again...but then he just runs off and finds his way out of the cave and stumbles across the search party immediately (laugh out loud!). Never really too sure why they kidnap the young girl either, what use to the gargoyles is she? I guess they needed a reason for the male heroes to go gargoyle hunting. The finale where the head gargoyle flies off is another crude funny moment, I shouldn't mock but really...its hilariously terrible looking. Did James Cameron get his finale idea for Ripley flaming the Alien eggs from this little movie? who knows.
I definitely think there is a lot of the 1985 movie 'Legend' in this film. The way the young girl is left to wander around the gargoyle caves whilst being quietly observed by Casey. Then finally she stumbles across him as he sits reading from a book looking quite majestic and regal almost. Also many of the camera shots of Casey in his hero gargoyle suit look similar to the way Scott shot Curry as Darkness...if you ask me.
I wouldn't say this was a bad (TV) film despite what I've said here and there, its not exactly a great film either...but its sure one hell of a cult film. I really wanted to see this (first time for me) as the cover excited me for those wondrous makeup effects, naturally being a Winston fan. I definitely wasn't disappointed with the makeup work but overall the film was pretty below par, maybe not back in the day but looking back now geez! I didn't know the film was set in the desert and that kinda threw me a bit, that setting doesn't work for the plot methinks. I did enjoy the adult approach and not shying away from blood and the odd scare. At times it did remind me of those old superhero TV movies (Spider-Man, 1977) visually but luckily they didn't go down that route.
I was totally in the dark about this, I actually thought this was the precursor idea that led to the animated show Gargoyles during the early 90's (still not too sure). Glad I've seen it and Winston's work (the man was always quality), but end of the day there isn't much else here other than those glorious gargoyle prosthetics.
The most expensive movie co-produced in South Korea...apparently, and Canada had their fingers involved too! So would this explain why the movie is so poor? This whole fiasco is based on an animated short which revolved around the main character Surly Squirrel (sounds like a crap Disney character).
Park creatures are the focus of this animal based adventure, well park creatures and some woodland creatures it seems. So its kinda like 'Over the Hedge' but just nowhere near as good or funny. For some unknown reason the movie is set in 1959 although I had no clue to this whilst watching, I just thought it was the artistic style for quirkiness. All these little mammals live in or near a big tree within a park, winter is coming and they gotta collect nuts to survive. I kinda always thought that was a squirrel thing but in this movie raccoon's moles birds etc...all seem to want nuts too.
Believe it or not that's pretty much the entire premise, creatures after nuts. The gimmick being after accidentally burning down the big tree whilst trying to nab nuts, Surly Squirrel is outcast into the city to survive as punishment. There he discovers a basement full of nuts but the basement is also the HQ for some bank robbers who are attempting their own heist. Hence the movie being called the Nut Job because it deals with a bank job and a similar job for the creatures trying to nab these nuts...such a clever play on the 'Italian Job' movie...oh geez...face in palms cringe time. Oh and I guess Surly Squirrel is caused this down to the fact he's miserable mean and selfish right? (*groan*).
OK the movie looks good of course, I can't fault that but its hardly a surprise is it. Everything is animated beautifully and looks glossy. All the characters are well designed, they all look as they should (cartoony versions of animals) and the voice acting work is solid. The nameless raccoon character looks to have been designed around Liam Neeson's face as they both have similar facial expressions and a big conk which work well. Various other characters are as you'd expect with the stereotypical dumb clumsy characters, fat ugly characters, tough large characters and the one main attractive female character (attractive on an animal level).
Most of these characters are all reasonable enough accept for Grayson Squirrel who is the park hero...but is actually very incompetent and cowardly (you're suppose to laugh now...this is the funny character). This guy is annoying and pretty pointless really, he serves no real purpose and could be easily hacked out of the movie. Naturally Brendan Fraser voices this highly annoying and pointless squirrel and we've seen this act before from Fraser.
One problem with this movie is there are too many character I think, you're never really sure if you actually like any of them because most of them are so fundamentally unlikable and boring. Well that and incredibly cliched predictable and stereotypical of every animal animated movie ever! The plot is so utterly drab and it goes nowhere! they wanna steal nuts, OK so steal them, what's the big deal. The stupid thing is they're animals...they could probably grab nuts and all sorts from anywhere in a city and in the end they don't actually manage to get them anyway! Half of them got flushed away in the river and can you count wet soggy nuts a score? The actual bank heist sub-plot going on with the humans just seemed so redundant, who cares? I didn't. It didn't really bare any influence or relevance on the animal plot going on around their feet.
Christ this movie was dull! I mean seriously I was getting up and doing other things. The plot is so slow, so dull, so unadventurous. The characters are so basic, so flat, so completely lifeless and cliched its painful, the fact the movie tries to be funny also sticks out like a sore thumb and bombs hard. Grayson Squirrel is clearly meant to be the pant wettingly funny aspect of the movie and he sucks ass! whilst the main hero squirrel Surly is just depressing. Oh and Hollywood people...its kinda creepy animating these cutesy creatures with human expressions and body movements.
What was that soundtrack about?! I'm guessing the use of horrendous 'Gangnam Style' track is down to the fact the movie was co-produced in South Korea. Was that really necessary? oh and was it remotely necessary to have an animated PSY in the end credits doing that stupid dance with all the animals!! Good God that was terrible, switched that shit off quicker than you can say that song will date this movie badly in years to come.
Well what have we here...a film with an original plot AND Jennifer Aniston actually growing up and acting like a proper woman for once. Lets really add to this and point out that the whole cast, including the overrated Farrell, was actually very very good and the humour was pretty smart.
So what we have here is a very good comedy with a large number of the cast being small name stars! I still can't believe it, the film started slow I gotta say, wasn't really getting into it, the guys are living crappy lives due their nasty chiefs so they all decide to bump them off...meh. Then on comes Aniston offering to fudge the living daylights outta Day and telling him to fudge her slutty mouth!!! what am I seeing!? Aniston actually using her sexy girl next door looks for some adult humour at last.
I may as well point out that every scene with Day, Bateman and Sudeikis was an absolute pleasure to watch and extremely funny yet I've never even heard of any of them. Every scene and every line was just so chuckletastic you can't fail to smile, the comedy was sharp, witty and with some slapstick but not over the top and childish. The 'villains' of the piece were all fantastic too, Farrell, Aniston (in another 'Office Space' moment winner) and Spacey all showing great comic evilness, some of the best casting I've seen for a while.
I really didn't hold much hope for this film to be honest, heard a lot but assumed it was all over the top hype, how could it be so good with that cast? so I was wrong.
Pretty much a perfect little comedy of horrors that is simple yet original and doesn't get carried away with overblown sequences. The only thing that kept popping into my mind was how gay Day's character was. Who in their right mind wouldn't let Aniston have her wicked way like that?! she could blackmail me like that any day.
Yep I see what they did with the movie title there, clever I suppose but it isn't really anything to do with the original TV show now is it, its just a double team buddy cop comedy. The original flick was one of those movies I honesty don't really remember much about, I do recall it being surprisingly amusing and not a complete faceless load of shit but nothing monumentally amazing that stuck in my mind.
So with that we have the obligatory follow up which basically sees the same shit happening to the same guys twice, how can this happen? how unlucky can this duo be? aren't they too old for this shit? Instead of high school its now college in a highly original plot line (people got paid to think this up?) and guess what...there are some bad guys to nail on the college campus. Que everything we saw in the first movie...but on a college campus? really?
So by now you're probably thinking I'm about to destroy this movie...well maybe...OK just a bit. The fun takes time to get going, its a slow slow start and I was getting itchy feet. It plays out like any bog standard 80's action flick, they catch the bad guys at the start but there's a shoot out and they get away...only to pop up later in the movie. We see the two main characters entering college and trying to fit in pretty much as they did previously in high school. Naturally this means Hill has trouble being the fat not so good looking half of the duo, whilst Tatum being a jock fits the scene like a glove and hits it off with some football lugs.
For me the film only really starts to hit its stride when Hill ends up banging Ice Cube young student daughter which was a solid twist I genuinely didn't see coming. The sequences involving Hill, Cube, his daughter and Hill's parents are really very good and save the film from the boredom of the cliched sequences where the undercover pair are in classes trying to be students. A later scene where Cube is debriefing the pair and Tatum only just clicks to what's being going on with Hill's bedroom antics is a particularly funny scene, cheesy but good. Things take an odd turn when Tatum's relationship with a football jock seems to get very close, I realise they are meant to be best buds but Jesus I was really expecting some real bromance toilet humour in some scenes. I was waiting for the homosexual gags yet amazingly it didn't happen! would have had money down on that here and there.
On from there you get the obligatory break up of the cop duo as they go their separate ways which I didn't get. Tatum decides to stay in college and play football...so did he quit being a cop? surely you can't do both? yet apparently he was able to keep his undercover role and do both after all. There are the odd small sequences where the pair perform as real cops with all the proper gear yet in a spoof type manner. Tatum being the more athletic fit cop where as Hill...well you can guess. Towards the end you are presented with more obligatory cop action bits and pieces like a car chase with a fancy car and the sort of sneaky twist for the main bad guy behind everything.
I think the words obligatory and rehashed cover this movie pretty conclusively really. Its not a terrible movie, its not a great hilariously funny movie, its a reasonable buddy cop comedy satire/spoof but wholly unoriginal. The best bit about the whole film was the end credits sequence where the franchise is mocked completely by showing us spoofed movie posters and little clips for future installments in the franchise. The actual problem for that being they have literately covered everything that could possibly be done for a third film. So when that next sequel does turn up its genuinely not gonna feel any good because they have spoofed the whole franchise sequels aspect so well at the end here. Mocking repetitive fast food cash grab sequels huh...but at what point does this franchise actually become just that?