Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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Now this is a prime example of one of those movies I saw in the videoshop, back when I was a kid, and simply wanted to watch it because of A. the amusing looking poster, and B. it starred Richard Pryor. That's all it took back then, something to catch your eye on the top shelve. You had no idea if it would be any good but without the internet, movie magazines, or any TV shows about current movies, you took the chance (parents willing).
The plot is simple. As the title of the movie indicates, the plot surrounds a move. Arlo Pear (Richard Pryor) has just lost his job as a transportation engineer based in New Jersey. After some time he manages to snag a job with another engineering company in Boise, Idaho. Obviously this would require his family to up sticks and move across the country. At first, naturally, his family isn't happy, but they soon agree. As you might have guessed the whole process becomes one disaster after another involving a shady moving company, their new home, their new neighbours, and the guy Arlo hires to drive his sexy Saab across the country to their new destination.
This is your typical 80's [i]National Lampoon's[/i] type affair, so much so you have expect to see a Chevy Chase cameo. The whole thing is very cliched and very predictable to be honest. Take a look at the various characters, Randy Quaid's characters for instance. Without even typing any further I'll bet you'd know exactly what type of character Quaid plays, and you'd be right. In the New Jersey setting he plays a crazy shell-shocked Vietnam veteran who is impossible to live next door to. In the Idaho setting he plays the twin of this character who is also a crazy (mostly anti-social) person who is impossible to live next door to. So yeah, Quaid kinda does his usual thing which wasn't that far off his Cousin Eddie character from the [i]National Lampoon's[/i] franchise.
The moving company is (of course) represented as a bunch of criminal types that, for some reason, Arlo is unable to get rid of. Arlo turns them away on first impressions but when he goes to another company the same guys turn up! Anyone with sense would just keep looking but Arlo goes with them. The movers themselves are obviously completely over the top with their dodgy appearances and behaviour, King Kong Bundy being one of the most outrageous. Then you have the innocent and apparently squeaky clean Brad (Dana Carvey) who Arlo hires to drive his precious Saab across the country. Naturally he turns out to have a personality disorder and wrecks the car. It's all pretty straight forward stuff.
Everything here is ramped up to ridiculous degrees for obvious comedic effect. So much so that it kinda seems a little too daft to be honest. This is why movies like 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' are so good because they are funny and very relatable. Most could probably recall a time when something similar did happen on a journey, or when you met an odd person as in the film. But this movie goes too far, it gets too stupid. Randy Quaid's characters are amusing and probably the most realistic if you are very unfortunate, but the whole dodgy moving company and Dana Carvey character are beyond silly really.
Add to that the various daft occurrences that befall Arlo besides these characters. The fact they buy this lovely house off an elderly couple only to find the place completely stripped of everything, right down to the actual stairs and doors, is amusing but insane. They even take the swimming pool leaving a big hole. Then you have this pretty lame (unwarranted) action sequence with Arlo chasing the moving vehicle on the highway which is so obviously done at a slow speed with obvious stunt doubles. Again it's another silly moment that is unrelatable and looks silly and fake. And then right at the end Arlo manages to turn his new crazy neighbour around from his unsociable ways purely by scaring him with his large dog? Eh?? A bit of a convenient wrap for that entire saga. Apparently Quaid's crazy twin character suddenly has newfound respect for Arlo...because he used his big dog on him?
Anyway the movie is clearly not supposed to be taken seriously and obviously a deliberately goofy affair. It's a comedy vehicle for Pryor to flex his comedic muscles. Unfortunately this could have been so much better in my opinion. The idea is there but the execution is just sloppy and dumb. Sure it's funny watching Arlo snap and get tough with everyone, but at the same time it's just silly because it's not really very realisitc (again I must refer back to that John Hughes classic). Granted the movie did succeed in making me feel uncomfortable and somewhat nervous as I watched Arlo's life crumble, so there's that. But overall I really feel this would have been better if it were more grounded with less lunacy. Great original poster though, really draws you in.
In 1938 Charles Addams created a cartoon family that would become his legacy. The Addams family was a satirical inversion of your typical American family of the time. The all American family was seen a certain way and this was Addams twisted view on the matter. Addams macabre little family of ghouls, misfits, and monsters has since gone on to become a staple of American pop culture alongside the similarly themed Munster Family with cartoons, TV series, and movies. This 2019 animated movie is apparently a reboot of the classic 1991 movie.
The plot is unfortunately you're average affair which has been played out many many many times before (including the 1993 film 'Addams Family Values' and the basis for the entire 1992 animated series). The Addams move into their new home (I'll get to that) and go about their daily strange lives. All the while Gomez and Morticia are keeping Pugsley and Wednesday unaware of the small local town nearby. Their reason is they know they will come across as weird outcasts to the 'normies' and they don't want Pugsley or Wednesday to deal with it.
As expected Wednesday does eventually discover the outside world and wants to explore it after meeting another local girl her own age. As expected Morticia is firmly against this but struggles to keep Wednesday from exploring. Meanwhile in the town there is an obsessive reality TV host who is wanting to turn the local town into the perfect community; as expected the Addams are getting the way of her vision. Her solution? Get rid of the Addams family.
So firstly as already mentioned, at the start of this movie we see Gomez and Morticia before they are married. We also see how they get the mansion and how they meet Lurch. None of this satisfied me in the slightest. Allow me to elaborate. Firstly where does Morticia live at the very start? It appears as though she's living in the sewers? Eh?? Where is this located? It kinda looks like a period set village. Secondly, after the newlyweds are run out of whatever town they live in, they reach an abandoned loony bin. This asylum becomes their new home, the Addams mansion. I hated this! Surely in Addams lore the mansion has been the family home for generations of Addams before Gomez and Morticia, right? But here they just stumble upon it and basically take it? Does this mean the Addams family are swatting in this abandoned asylum? I mean, they haven't bought it, surely it belongs to the state (?).
This leads me to the introduction of Lurch. Gomez hits Lurch with his car just before they find the abandoned asylum. Turns out Lurch is an ex-patient of the asylum and is somehow just wondering around in the wild. So how did Lurch get into this situation? What happened to the asylum? Why wasn't Lurch switched to another asylum with the other patients? (I'm guessing that's what happened). This also leads me to query Lurch's mental state seeing as he's a patient. He isn't working for the Addams by choice per se, it happened by accident and mentally he's not stable. So with the proper help, he could get well again and this could mean he wouldn't want to be a butler for the Addams. So if you wanna be technical and picky, this plotline basically has a mentally sick person being abused for the Addams gain, almost slavery. They should have just stuck to the original storyline.
Indeed the opening of the movie does lend itself to many questions as I've mentioned. I really didn't like how they handled it because I was left yearning to know more about the origins of the family. Where does Gomez hale from? What was Morticia doing in the sewers? What about the other Addams family members etc...Ripe for a prequel. Alas I really don't like the way they went with the origins for the mansion and Lurch. Also the fact they wanted to live somewhere dangerous and away from people who don't understand them, so they chose New Jersey. Yeah I know its a joke but obviously there are far better, more isolated places they could have gone.
I do like how the characters now resemble the original comic strips from Charles Addams from back in 1938. Neat touch although not entirely necessary to be truthful. As the two 90's movies proved the characters can be highly successful not looking exactly the same. I say this because I've never been a fan of the original look for Gomez. I loved how Morticia seemed to be portrayed as a bit of a gothic slut at the start of the movie with her black knee-high boots, black mini skirt, and black tight-fitting corset. Nice to see the Addams pet octopus (now named Socrates) make an appearance. Oscar Isaac did a great job with Gomez's voice and actually sounded like the late Raul Julia (unsure if that was intentional). But I would have liked to have seen a bit more of Uncle Fester. Must admit I didn't like some of the designs for other Addams family members.
I had been looking forward to this movie ever since I heard about it (I'm a huge Addams fan). And whilst I'm not totally disappointed, this wasn't quite as good as I was hoping for. Visually its gorgeous no doubt. I love how the mansion looks both exterior and interior (would have liked to see more of that really. Mores secret passages etc...) Would have liked to see more of the Addams estate too, the grounds around the house.
As said the plot is a bit deary and unoriginal leading to screentime with 'regular characters' which, for me, were the boring parts because I just wanted to see the Addams getting up to spooky hijinks. Yes it's for kids but not overtly so, there are some nice tiny touches here and there that will make older folks smile. The small 'IT' gag was appreciated. A quick exorcist visual reference and a clever and quite adult-themed visual gag surrounding Thing being online was amusing. So yeah its solid but I hated what they did with Lurch and the mansion origins, can't get past that. Oh and the rap song over the end credits is nowhere near as good as MC Hammer's 'Addams Groove'.
Or 'Supernatural Beast City' as it's known in Japan was another creation by Hideyuki Kikuchi (of [i]Vampire Hunter D[/i] fame). This anime is based on Kikuchi's six novel series called 'Black Guard'. Funnily enough this anime movie was also directed by 'Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust' director Yoshiaki Kawajiri and animated by Japanese animation studio Madhouse. The team works, if it ain't broke don't fix it.
So what's it all about? Well I kinda think of this as an early adult version of 'Men In Black' (possibly a strong influence of said movie). Basically towards the end of the 20th-century humans coexist with another dimension that is inhabited by supernatural demons called 'Black World'. This other dimension is only known to the select few, it's a top-secret kept from the general public and is policed by a secret organisation of special agents (on both sides) called Black Watch.
The two worlds coexist via a peace treaty which is due to be renewed between the two sides. Unfortunately a militant group of demon radicals from Black World want to stop the treaty for their own nefarious purposes. So on the human side, agent Renzaburõ Taki, and on the demon side, agent Makie, are both assigned to protect the treaty signatory in Tokyo.
Now to say this movie has a sexual element combined with an element of body horror would be an understatement. This was one of the first anime movies I remember seeing as a young teen purely for one thing, the first sex scene between the protagonist and a Black World radical in human form. Sounds normal, allow me to explain. For starters this sex scene is pretty in-depth all things considered, certainly an eye-opener for newbies to the genre. Anywho the real shocker comes from the girl who transforms into a spider-like humanoid with spider-like limbs (no hands) and a tooth laden vagina...yup. But wait, I'm not done. Not only that, but she walks on all fours like some kind of quadrupedal posessed horror movie nightmare and she shoots webbing out from said tooth laden vagina...yeah. She then proceeds to try and bite off Taki's junk with her vagina (for fecks sake!).
So there's that character. Throughout the movie there are various other Black World demons we come across which also serve up some rather gruesome visuals. Two radicals again attack Taki at the airport. One appears to have tentacles growing from his torso. He gets his head shot off which then proceeds to grow smaller tentacles and walk on its own in a spider-like fashion. Yes I too immediately thought of 'John Carpenter's The Thing'. The other radical seemed to have a huge tooth laden maw in his chest. Later on we see the treaty signatory almost absorbed into another female radical body in yet another sex sequence. Another female radical with mind control powers and a huge vagina-like opening in her chest (talk about subtext!). And the main antagonist of the story turns out to be your typical tentacle sprouting demon with a rock-like humanoid skin which he/it eventually sheds to reveal a more terrifying toothy monster.
Remember when I mentioned a sexual element? Yep well get ready because there is also two (yes two) full-blown animated rape sequences in here too. Firstly Makie is captured by a huge slimy snake-like slug demon which coils around her (she's also naked), and then proceeds to literally f*ck her mouth with its rather phallic-looking tongue...ahem! Then later on poor old Makie is captured, restrained and strung up by the wrists, and then thoroughly gang-raped by two Black World radicals. It does tend to come across as if the character of Makie is more of a fetish implement than anything. I know about the Japanese and their love of tentacles, schoolgirl uniforms and whatnot.
I think one thing that does stand out to me is the fact that no one is ever around in this movie. Tokyo is often empty. Narita airport was empty. Every battle never seems to raise any alarm from anyone or alert any police no matter where it takes place. One action sequence takes place inside a long tunnel for cars yet there are no other cars to be seen, no other humans, no traffic nothing. I know its a minor silly gripe but it did stand to me. The same can be said about the often seen 'frozen face' thing with anime movies. By that I mean the fact that you get loads (and I mean loads) of close-up shots of characters faces that are almost frozen, no movement.
I should also point out another often seen trope in anime movies, and that's the wise old man character. In many anime movies I've seen there is often an aged wise old man character (sometimes a bad guy) who is usually very small, sometimes fat but usually skinny, ugly, troll-like almost, and usually the comedic relief. Often these characters also tend to look more cartoony in appearance than the other main characters. In 'Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust' there was the Dungeon Master-like character who led the Barbarois. In 'Ninja Scroll' there was the character of Dakuan. And here in 'Wicked City' there is the treaty signatory Giuseppe Mayart. A Yoda-like character who, like Dakuan from 'Ninja Scroll', harbours secret powers and skills.
Anyway whilst the overall plot is very simple I did find the ending somewhat baffling. Taki and Makie both face off against Shadow the villain but are finding it tough going. Even the wise old Mayart is having trouble. But low and behold Makie is able to land the final blow because...she is pregnant? Yep by this point Makie is expecting a (half-human) child with Taki and that has increased her powers (remember she is a demon from the Black World). Not sure why but there you go. Apparently this was the crafty plan all along by both parties of Black Watch and all overseen by undercover Black World agent Mayart. Taki and Makie are perfect for each other. To create the perfect half-human half-demon...person...who will ensure everlasting peace between the two dimensions, somehow. So I guess its a John Connor scenario?
This is definitely one of the more surreal anime movies I've seen, but it wasn't unpleasant (apart from the spider-woman). If anything the movie draws you in with morbid curiosity to see what crops up next. The sexual undercurrent throughout is both disturbing and again engaging I can't deny. Watching a huge wet slimy slippery snake-like creature have its wicked way with the highly attractive female lead is something you can't look away from even though you know it's not supposed to be good (I think, can't tell with these anime/manga franchises as we all know the original lure way back was the animated sex and violence).
Again the animation is top banana. Slick and smooth as butter with, I think, the odd touch of CGI? Yes the story is cliched, the main characters aren't too original, and many of the Black World demons are, by today's standards, a bit derivative (obviously so in some cases). But the sheer explicitness of the movie is admittedly a draw. This is one of those animes that does live up to the adult rating hype that you might recall from back in the day. Oh and yes it does have yet another one of those crappy Japanese songs over the end credits that sounds like a karaoke recording.
Again I'm harking back to my teenage years in the 90's. Back then I had a passing interest in manga/anime which had slowly begun to rear its stylish head in the UK. Typically the slow progression was mainly down to its limited availability and in the UK that meant one place only, [i]Forbidden Planet[/i] (and various independent comic stores). This would lead to the occasional discovery of certain anime movies which piqued my interest mainly down to the franchise in question or the often sexy looking box art (and by sexy I mean awesomely good...or sometimes actually kinky).
So me being a bit of a goth and having a love of all things vampiric (amongst other notable classic ghouls), 'Vampire Hunter D' really struck a chord with me. On the one hand, whilst I was intrigued I did find the look of the movie (going by the limited pictures on the case) to be a little off for my liking. Sure it was vampires and big creepy castles etc...but it obviously had that distinct Japanese vibe to it which kinda looked a bit odd. Even to this day it's still a strange combination to see a classic Universal monster mixed into the world of anime. This was also one reason (aside from it being solid) why the movie did so well as it was one of the first, if not the first, anime to cross science-fiction with classic gothic elements.
So what's it's about? Well its quite simple really. Set in a post-nuclear holocaust world, the year of 12,090 AD, A young attractive girl named Doris (Doris?) is attacked and bitten by a very old and powerful vampire named Count Magnus. A bit later Doris comes across a lone mysterious stranger called D who happens to be a dhampir (half human half vampire). She asks him for help in killing Count Magnus in order to prevent herself from turning into a vampire. What follows is your typical action-based adventure with D basically taking the vampire down and rescuing Doris who inevitably gets kidnapped by the Count.
This anime is based on a 1983 Japanese novel by Hideyuki Kikuchi and it does seemingly require you to read that book first. Why? Well the movie doesn't really explain anything. For example, it is not really explained what happened to Earth and how the nuclear holocaust occurred. This naturally leads to the question of how vampires arose, where did they come from? Are they a mutation of some kind? Turns out that these vampires are also incredibly skilled in science and technology (as well as the obligatory supernatural powers) which led to them ruling over humans so easily for so long. But how did all that happen? Apparently this science and technology (along with supernatural powers) helped the vampires fill this world with mutants, monsters, and of course the undead. But none of that is really delved into. Vampires have also essentially brainwashed humans over the decades into believing that the classic weapons that can be used against vampires, such as crosses, are ineffective. Again things like this are not delved into in the movie.
The same can be said about the protagonist D. We know he is a dhampir (interesting and curious use of Balkan folklore). A half-breed, a daywalker so to speak, but that is all. We aren't given any background information on D. Visually he is tall, slim, elegant, handsome with long flowing hair, dapper looking, seemingly a westerner (as are all anime characters often), and he is armed with a lovely long narrow sword. Oh and his horse is...a cyborg?? He is the archetype of the classic Hollywood lone cowboy who rides into town to clean up the place. In this case the town is a small old fashioned Eastern European styled village. But on top of that D has another unexplained oddity, his left hand seems to be possessed by a demon or symbiote of some kind. This is represented by a demonic-looking face in the palm of his hand that seems to have powers unto itself. In other words his hand can do things like vacuum up things into its mouth (D's palm). But presumably these things aren't going into D's body, or arm, they must be going into some other realm or dimension within the demon/symbiote.
So the plot is full of wild west tropes and cliches, it's essentially a western with vampires. Not a problem but it has to be pointed out, this isn't an original concept. That aside the main plus points obviously revolve around the animation which as you may expect with anime is top notch. Whilst it may not be as good as current anime it's still bloody (no pun intended) good and really gets you in the mood. A scene where vampires and their werewolf minions can be heard approaching the village from a distance is really brilliantly creepy. The generally dark misty ethereal visuals alongside classic gothic visuals are brilliantly conveyed, but admittedly at times typical Japanese anime styles and choices in designs do sit a tad uncomfortably alongside them. The vampire's castle interior isn't quite what I would have expected frankly.
Again being anime there will be blood and gore, hardly unprecedented levels to be honest but there are some great scenes. One scene where D loses his possessed hand and it takes on a life of its own to save D actually reminded me of Sam Riami's iconic horror franchise [i]The Evil Dead[/i]. One thing I liked about the gore in this is that it actually felt warranted, for obvious reasons. It didn't feel gratuitous or over the top. That being said there are still some scenes of typical anime nudity which, when I was younger I thought was awesome, now I'm older feels kinda unnecessary. I should also point out that, in typical anime fashion, the soundtrack and score are also pretty dire. Most of it is ugly synthesized stuff that feels completely out of place set against the classically styled visuals. And at the end you get one of those typically horrible Japanese songs which sounds like a cheap tacky karaoke recording.
So yeah, overall this is definitely a very slick package. I mean what more could you want? An ice-cool half-vampire hunting protagonist in the realms of Neo before Neo was even a thing. Gorgeous animation and overall visuals. A solid English voiceover cast (dunno who they are though). And a curious yet fully engaging blend of ideas and themes. Sure it's cliched as hell and basically a western with a fantasy spin, but it works well and most probably helped spawn many other familiar franchises.
[Being British and having grown up in the UK (except in 1987 where I lived with my parents in the US for that year) I don't really have any experience with Mr. Rogers and his long-running show. I know of Mr. Rogers, I have heard of Mr. Rogers, but I never grew up with Mr. Rogers so I am unable to deliver any real childhood memories. Even when living in the US for that one year I never recall watching his show (as far as I can remember).
I have always put Mr. Rogers in the same kind of category as [i]Sesame Street[/i] or [i]Blue Peter[/i] here in the UK. One of those long-running legendary shows for children that has amassed epic levels of respect, praise, awards, and memories for so many of all backgrounds (although the UK shows haven't run as long as the US ones). Some of the very few television programs that will live on forever (in their respective countries) having truly made a difference in so many people's lives. That's how I tend to look at it anyway.
I guess the first thing that surprised me was the fact that Rogers was in fact the same Mr. Rogers you saw on TV. It almost seemed too good to be true that the kind, pragmatic, casual yet well-dressed person you saw TV was the same person off TV. Behind the curtain Rogers was indeed still the same man who cared for educating and listening to children in a sensible way whilst upholding his strong religious Christian beliefs...and not in a creepy way. Mind you I say that but I can't deny that watching this biopic did make me question the man at times. He came across as so sensitive and in-tune with kids that doubts couldn't help but form in my mind. Not to mention all the odd little quirks and rituals he had.
Another thing that surprised me was the content Rogers would confront children with. There was me thinking his show was a kind of long-running early variety show with different acts, cartoons, and guests. Turns out Rogers dealt with serious issues. He didn't shy away from talking to the kids about such things like death, divorce, love, depression etc...Sure he did so with the aid of various puppets, songs, and some guests all within a little imaginary model neighborhood, but he still spoke about these subjects. Rogers was able to connect with kids at a very personal level by seeing them as people, simple really. Yes kids aren't adults but they aren't completely stupid, they still understand things, they still feel and obviously have emotions. Rogers had a gift and was able to tap into that, he could communicate with kids about serious matters.
But it wasn't just kids, Rogers did the same for adults apparently too. Maybe not as much and maybe with not as much success but he still did his best. We see that he actually worked with prison inmates at one point. There was also a time when he met a fully grown gorilla and engaged in some pretty amazing sign-language conversations. He subtly taught kids about race, equality, and tolerance in a segment where he simply paddled in a kids pool with one of his regular show guests (who was African American). And he would address (now historical) disasters with kids so they understood what was happening simply because Rogers believed kids needed to learn the truth and not be shielded. The fact that not telling the actual truth can be actually more scary for kids. Gotta hand it to the guy, he had balls.
I think one of the hardest segments to watch in this film was seeing Rogers struggle to address the 9/11 attacks in New York. Clearly he knew he had to talk about it, you can hear others saying so in the film. But the sight of Rogers genuinely trying to find the words to try and deal with such a horrific disaster was heartbreaking. It was as if he was beaten at that moment, there was nothing he could say to soothe the pain.
All that aside I did find this biopic slightly slow at times I can't deny. There is a lot of archive footage (obviously) showcasing Rogers back in the day as he talks about his goals and beliefs. There is a lot of archive footage (obviously) of the show from when it first started, through the decades from black and white to colour, and all the various elements within. We see various guests, the puppets, the model neighborhood, behind the scenes, the sets, the crew, Rogers wife etc...Very much in the same vein as any solid extra you'd get on a new Bluray release. Whilst this is all interesting for the most part, not [b]all[/b] of it is totally engaging. Gotta be truthful here. Especially from a visual perspective, the later shows in colour are far more engaging than the admittedly slow and dull looking black and white era shows. There's nothing quite as iconic as watching Rogers stroll on set and proceed to change into his trademark sneakers and red cardigan...in colour. Retro (and modern) US TV has a distinct look about it that I can't really explain. It always seemed much more colourful, as if it had been shot in Technicolor from the 1950's.
So in conclusion, this is a film where you will most probably choke up at some point. It's hard to pinpoint where and why to be honest, unless you are a lifelong adult fan reliving your childhood memories. But this biopic is so warm, heartfelt, and full of positivity that at times it just makes you cry, it's practically inevitable. In the end, I think what I find the most ironic and sad is that in this current day and age a man like Mr. Rogers would probably find himself under attack (from certain groups) for his race, his gender, his close work with children, and his religion. Twitter would probably horrify him. Mr. Rogers would not work in this present day, and that's the saddest truth of all.
This movie was my introduction to this classic 80's horror franchise back when I was an underage kid who definitely shouldn't have been watching it. The ironic thing being, I didn't watch this sneakily behind my parents back, oh no. I actually saw this one night with my dad! I can't remember how or why this happened but I think it happened to come on one night and my dad (who normally would [b]never[/b] watch anything like this) decided...oh what the hell. I think he must have thought it was OK for me to watch seeing as he was there. Either that or he just forgot I was there or didn't realise what the movie was about, probably the very latter. Anyway, it scared the shit outta me alright, bad move dad.
So I don't really think I need to go into the plot, but just in case. The movie (kinda) picks up from the previous sequel with an adult Tommy Jarvis (Thom Matthews this time) heading back to Crystal Lake in order to make sure Jason is dead. Tommy makes his way to the cemetery with his friend, and future Jason fodder, Allen. They both proceed to dig up Jason's corpse (because Jason being buried isn't enough?) much to the hesitation of Allen. Upon seeing the corpse Tommy has a flashback and gets a tiny bit upset, so he proceeds to stab at the corpse with a metal railing he easily pulled off the metal fence.
Allen watches bemused by Tommy's actions. Then before you can say...this is freaking me out, lightning strikes the metal bar and brings Jason's corpse back to life. Initially everything seems OK and the duo prepares to leave. But wouldn't you know it, old Jason climbs out of the grave, kills Allen, and starts off after Tommy. What follows is Tommy's desperate and unsuccessful attempts to warn the locals of Jason's return and Jason's highly successful ever-increasing body count.
Now I haven't seen many of these iconic slashers for some time, but I know without a doubt that this movie is by far my favourite...and in my opinion the best example in the series of a classic 80's horror (with 'Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan' a close second). It took some time for this franchise to really get into gear in my opinion. It's like they didn't realise that the franchise worked better when being more tongue-in-cheek and almost comicbook-esque. The first few movies were too serious whilst not being particularly scary; and of course we didn't actually get the iconic hockey mask until the third flick. Until that point it was a block running around with a flippin' burlap sack on his head (looked shit).
K so let's have some fun here. We know this franchise was initially trying to ride the coattails of the 'Halloween' franchise and luckily the people in charge knew they couldn't carry on doing that. Hence we have this gloriously stupid yet wholly entertaining entry to save the day. Setting aside the fact that Tommy digs up Jason's corpse and then stabs at it over and over, the actual corpse is at first completely unrecognisable. There is no face, no muscle, no anything! Just a vaguely human-shaped mound of decayed flesh covered in worms cobwebs and earth. At this point Jason is essentially a fragile-looking mummy. Yet the minute the corpse is struck by lightning it somehow gets eyeballs that work. And the next minute he's bounding out of the grave looking like he's been drinking protein shakes for the last six months.
From here on its a Jason tour de force as he effortlessly kills plenty of innocent yet very stupid people in various silly ways. But hold on, where did Jason get his clothes? Pretty sure his corpse didn't have anything on, it would have rotted away. So where did he find such perfect fitting attire? From his boots to his gloves, did he pop into a local store? Lucky for Jason Tommy brought his favourite hockey mask along too huh, otherwise he'd have to pick up a balaclava or something. Speaking of the various stupid victims, twas also pretty lucky that one just happened to have a machete on-hand eh. Not sure why you'd need a machete when you're paintballing though.
Did anyone ever wonder why so many people were out and about at night, in the woods, when the weather is clearly bad? Like one of Jason's victims were a couple literally having a picnic in the middle of the woods at night. Who does that? Then there was the other couple driving a shitty Volkswagon Beetle down some dirt track through the woods at night, like you do. There is the old grumpy drink obsessed gravedigger who seems harmless enough but that doesn't matter to Jason. And what 80's slasher horror is complete without the stereotypically good-looking young couple having sex that end up getting killed gruesomely.
It's also highly amusing and annoying how the local Sheriff (David Kagen) absolutely refuses to listen to Tommy at any point in the movie, literally until he actually sees Jason in the flesh (ahem) before his own demise. The guy is obsessed that Tommy is behind all the recent murders that are popping up everywhere despite the fact that for half the time Tommy is locked up in his jail! Ha! You keep thinking how on earth this cop is coming to these conclusions. Simple geography and physics put Tommy in the clear but this guy ain't having none of it. Doesn't help that he's also obsessing over his hot blonde daughter Megan (Jennifer Cooke) who's been eyeing up Tommy the whole time. She loves a bad boy behind bars I guess. Turns out she's the bad girl while Tommy is the only down to earth person in the area (the Sheriff's Deputy is obsessed with his 'Terminator' laser sight gun).
The movie finally comes to a close back at Camp Crystal Lake which this time actually has kids at the camp. One by one the young adults are taken out by Jason as the kids cower under their beds. Is Jason evil enough to murder little children? Well I guess he isn't or he just doesn't quite get around to it because other better targets keep popping up just in the nick of time. Again looking back it is amusing seeing these cabins. I say cabin but they look like basic garden sheds for Pete's sake. They look like a high wind would knock them down. The slightest bit of cold weather and you'd freeze to death, doesn't matter about the single fireplace geez! You call those thin things windows?? Feck me!
So Tommy knows that he's gotta kill Jason in the lake where he originally died, because occult-like reasons, don't question it. So luring Jason into the lake Tommy (on a boat) manages to wrap a chain with a large boulder attached (how on earth did he manage to get that to the boat?) around Jason's neck. The silly part is at no point does it actually look like that chain is tight around Jason's neck. It looks like he could just remove it quite easily. You also have to wonder if Jason couldn't maybe break the chain seeing as he now has super zombie strength in this movie. It's also weird how when sunk at the bottom of the lake, Jason simply floats there and doesn't attempt to free himself. Not to mention the fact he is still able to grab Megan's leg, this lake must be shallow! Luckily the boat propellor is able to reach Jason (eh?) and seemingly cut him up, even though at the very end he still looks in one piece.
I tend to put this movie in the same category as 'Evil Dead 2' in the sense that its a classic in the franchise, a cult, and a good movie within the genre. Whilst no one is gonna say this movie is a great movie outside the genre, within the genre it's definitely a cracker. As I've already said, this movie is basically the epitome of 80's horror. There is an even balance to the horror and humour. The humour itself is at times self-aware whilst at other times a bit goofy. Whereas the horror can swing from pretty creepy to also being somewhat goofy. The effects and visuals are solid and the cast do their job well enough despite their characters all being pretty hollow. Continuity and plot...eh just run with it. Director McLoughlin clearly knew what he wanted to do and how to go about it (possibly taking inspiration from earlier horror-comedy classics). Look out for a wicked rock tune from Alice Cooper in the end credits.
Right so here we are with what appears to be, judging by the quite amazing poster, the [i]He-Man[/i] movie we all wanted? I mean come on, look at that poster! Drink it in my friends. Allow your eyes to slowly guide up and down the full length of this phenomenal piece and take in its majesty. Glorious, utterly glorious.
But who the hell are these guys? Who is making up this duo of perfectly moulded glazed muscularity? Well the two leads are identical twins Peter and David Paul of the USA. These guys jumped on-board the trendy new muscularity bandwagon which was kicked off in the early 70's by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, and Sylvester Stallone. As we all know Arnie and Sly virtually created the action-man-muscles gold rush of the 80's and this led to many many many clones and knock-offs, both in terms of movies and stars. Some took off (JCVD and Dolph Lundgren), and some did not.
The Paul brothers (actually known as 'the barbarians') somewhat took off (briefly) with a little trio of tacky movies that were your typical tongue-in-cheek comedy trash that mainly focused on their massive size. 'Think Big' in 1989, 'Double Trouble' in 1992, and 'Twin Sitters' in 1994. It doesn't really take a genius to tell what these movies are all about, the clue is in the titles. Naturally all their movies required them to get topless for the most part...because muscles. Without this there is no movie. What I find amazing is how many of these muscle-bound stars have done flicks about looking after kids.
So what happens in this low budget Italian Hyborean rip-off world? Well as youngsters the heroic duo are adopted by a gypsy-esque tribe (the Ragnicks) who are led by a Queen (Virginia Bryant) and guided by a weird-looking spiritual type called Ibar (Franco Pistoni). Then along comes the baddie warlord Kadar (Richard Lynch) and his stereotypical minions who slaughter most of the tribe because he's after some magical mcguffin that belongs to the Ragnicks Queen. Anyway the only reason for all this is simply Kadar wants to gain more power and...take over the world? Standard baddie plan really. The young duo are then dumped into slavery where they grow up into massively powerful barbarians, as you do. What follows is obviously the barbarians getting revenge on Kadar, oh and getting back the magical mcguffin and saving the now enslaved Queen. Standard hero plan really.
Now I'm not gonna berate this movie completely, yes we all know its trash, but there are some positives here. Firstly The Paul twins do admittedly look really good in this movie. The fact you have twins who are identical in massive muscular physique is actually pretty unique, or was (everyone's a meathead these days it seems). These two really do look good dressed up in their barbarian attire. As already mentioned they do actually look very He-Man-esque with their chunky body armour and large weapons, more so than Lundgren did surprisingly. They could easily fit into any larger scale, more well-known fantasy flick with ease, visually anyway. And let me be clear, their bods do look highly impressive to boot. Not up to Arnie standard but its damn close if you ask me. They aren't as 'cut' as Arnie, Arnie was huge but with a narrow action-figure waistline. But in terms of solid bulk and bicep size, they are a sight to behold, especially when they both stand next to each other.
I must also point out the general look of this movie, again its actually pretty good. The sets are clearly sets for sure but they still look quite good. Clearly much time and effort was spent in creating these sets and it shows. The slave arena and quarters inside of Kadar's city naturally look very Roman/gladiatorial in style but bugger me it all works, it all looks good. I laughed at the large raised platform that Kadar has his throne on which for some reason seems to be supported by slaves in a highly unstable way. Secret tombs and some forbidden land sets also look really atmospheric in a nice Sam Raimi kind of way. There is some good use of locations to add some much-needed depth to the proceedings; and the Ragnicks general appearance, attire and makeup wise, was also well done. I noticed the attire/headpiece for Franco Pistoni's character of Ibar is very familiar. Did George Lucas steal this idea I wonder?
And finally kudos on the few monsters we see here. Firstly there is a wolfman warrior guy for some reason. He doesn't last too long and obviously the effect is basic but hey it's all makeup, prosthetics, and a bodysuit. It's real and not some shitty CGI effect, and bottom line it ain't half bad either. Then there is the dragon sequence. Now again it's basic but bugger me, credit where credits due, they tried and it's a good effort. A full-scale creation that looms out of a murky swamp? Yes please. The duo defeats the beast by cutting open its belly and going inside to reclaim the mcguffin (which the dragon had consumed with some baddie henchmen). Great stuff.
But alas there is a multitude of obvious issues with this movie which can't really be listed for time purposes. But off the top of my head, why does the King and Queen of this fantasy realm roam around like gypsies? Why not actually set up shop with a proper Kingdom? Because they value entertainment for the people over security and riches? What a load of do-gooding crap! Kind renders the need of the magical mcguffin pointless too because surely Kadar can just wipe all these clowns out without magic. But wait! The magical mcguffin is basically a gem that enables power of...dance and entertainment? What?? A powerful gem passed on down from Queen to Queen that stores the skills of all who perform near it which in turn makes it even more powerful. Say what?? So why does Kadar want this again? To dance his troubles away?
Also, whilst in slavery the heroic duo are unaware of the fact each has an identical twin. The baddies want it kept that way too just to be on the safe side. Yet the Dirtmaster (Michael Berryman) decides to have the duo fight each other for a grand spectacle (cos they are the best). So at no point did it occur to him that they might recognise each other? Yes they're wearing helmets but helmets can come off mate. Baddies are dumb, but in this movie the heroic duo is dumber (although on purpose).
Anyway you get my drift here. Overall the movie is most definitely bereft of genuine quality but certainly not charm and enthusiasm from the all involved. Of course the plot is a cornball mess of overused cliches and stereotypes from the clone ridden barbarian/fantasy genre that was exhausted back in the early to mid 80's (Kadar has an evil mystical witch, played by Eva La Rue, as his second in command. Standard practice for all baddies). Of course the main leads can't act, but they know this and are clearly having a blast trying their best. Of course the movie cannot be taken seriously, but again everyone knows this and is on-board for the ride. Of course the Paul twins are soaked in oil for literally every minute of the movie. Of course George Eastman makes a cameo (standard practice for Italian rip-off flicks). And of course one of the Paul twins makes that really bizarre and annoying animalistic howl from his throat. What the feck is that about? Is that his calling card?
This movie easily fits into the 'so bad it's good' category. Not exactly a must-see flick for regular moviegoers, but for any barbarian/Hyborean/fantasy fanboys out there it's well worth a butchers. And of course for any low budget Italian rip-off fans, it's probably worth a look also. Its better than 'Deathstalker' put it that way.
Another major movie starring Milla Jovovich, another major flop. Hmmmm.
So we have yet another Hollywood reboot, correction, we have another pointless Hollywood reboot. Yep for some reason unbeknownst to themselves the powers that be thought it prudent to start all over again with this Mike Mignola universe instead of making the third movie in a del Toro trilogy. This essentially going against what the majority of the fans wanted. That's business acumen right there folks.
So let's delve into this reboot one part at a time. Firstly the controversy (on Twitter). Ed Skrein was originally cast as the character Ben Daimio, who in the original source material is Japanese-American. Ed Skrein is of course a caucasian male which enraged and triggered the 'woke' Twitterati. This led to online protests to get Skrein removed from the project. Skrein eventually decided to quit the role in order to appease said Twitterati, a big mistake (or was it?). Funnily enough the role went to one actor who I believe was actually involved in the online protests, Daniel Dae Kim (talk about low huh). Yet what was even more amusing (and hypocritical) was the fact that Kim is actually Korean, not Japanese, but he wasn't gonna let a silly thing like that ruin [b]his[/b] chances (insert eye-roll emoticon here).
The Opening: Yeah it's bad, really cheesy, really bad. Not only does it look like a very poor attempt at the type of visuals '300' achieved, but the narration alongside it is also just terrible. It just sounds like some bloke reading the paper. It's right here that you discover the CGI is not gonna be good in this movie. Also the opening title sequence shows us a pretty poor looking Hellboy title. This then leads into a wrestling match sequence which is basically shit and again looks bad. 'Van Helsing' levels of CGI at this point.
The Main Villain: The main villain in this movie is Vivian Nimue, better known as the Lady in the Lake from the tales of King Arthur. Only here she is known as the Blood Queen (in Blade-esque fashion) and is a baddie. It is this character that is played by the great actress Milla Jovovich, yeah. Her assistant in this movie is a big humanoid rubbery looking warthog mutant character with a Mancunian accent, for some reason. He is called Gruagach. Apparently Gruagach is Changeling, a baby fairy that is left in place of a human child which has been stolen by grown-up fairies, for some reason. Thing is Hellboy saw through this and managed to get the human baby back. This angered Gruagach as he lost his chance to become a human, or something.
Hellboy: Played by David Harbour is fine and very similar (in my view) to Ron Perlman's performance. I mean in all honesty it couldn't really differ that much could it. He was always gonna talk a certain way and his dry wry humour was always gonna be that way. He was hardly gonna be like Deadpool or Spider-Man was he. But here's the thing, his makeup actually looked worse than the Perlman/del Toro version, in my view. From a distance it wasn't too bad, up close it looked poor. You could literally see the joins and marks of the rubber prosthetics.
Giants: From the rather nice wood panelled interior of the Osiris Club we follow Hellboy and its members on a giant slaying hunt which essentially looks like something from a [i]Monty Python[/i] movie. All these guys roam the English countryside in full regalia, with Hellboy, and no one sees this. The giants eventually turn up in one of the most awful looking CGI action sequences I've seen for some time with some of the worst looking CGI blood. Hellboy kills them all and still not one person passes by and sees anything.
Characters seem to pop up outta nowhere with no real explanation. There are three witches that sewn the dismembered Nimue (as she was left from back in her King Arthur days) back together. They just turned up for that scene then disappeared. I assume they were her coven from the Dark Ages but where did they go? Where did they come from? Where had they been all this time? Another witch called Baba Yaga turns up for one scene in another dimension or something. No real explanations to this character, she's just there and has a history with Hellboy, apparently. Although this scene is easily the best looking and most creepy. Baba Yaga is a truly shocking creature, her pale skeletal body constantly contorting in a nightmarish manner as she moves around. As said the character just seems to turn up out of the blue for no real reason but it is a brilliantly nasty sequence which could easily fit into an actual horror movie.
Merlin: Yes another character churned out for a few minutes before crumbling away. Merlin appears to be Irish in this movie...K. He also offers Hellboy one fleeting chance to take the sword Excalibur to slay Nimue. It comes across as a one time offer. But Hellboy finds it later on in a secret crypt beneath St Pauls Cathedral which was odd. Pretty sure Merlin's offer was a one time deal. Anyway Merlin also reveals Hellboy is actually a distant relation of King Arthur, because of course he is.
Jaguar-Man: Yep, the character of Ben Daimio can turn into a Jaguar. A sort of wereJaguar if you will. Apparently he was attacked and badly scarred by a supernatural entity (in the form of a jaguar) and now he changes into a super-powered jaguar when angered. So basically the Hulk...if the Hulk was a jaguar, or a werewolf. This results in very cheesy looking CGI special effects and sound effects.
The Finale: So Hellboy inevitably turns bad (or it seems) and the Earth opens up setting loads of devilish minions free to cause violent havoc. Sounds cool and you'd think it would be but once again the visual effects are pretty dire. Everything looks like in-game videogame footage from an old [b]Resident Evil[/b] game or the latest first-person monster shooter. It all looked so fake and cheesy. It's also at this point that the fake looking CGI blood and deaths go way overboard. Humans are being killed left right and centre in really corny [I]Mortal Kombat[/I] type ways, it's too much.
In short, this movie requires you to know quite a lot about the original Hellboy comic series. Now on one hand whilst I fully understand and support why they have gone down that route (its nice to see some true respect to the original source material), it does make the movie feel like a bit of a slog for the uninitiated. I don't know very much about the Hellboy comics so I found myself asking many questions as there was little explanation. It also felt like a [b]huge[/b] amount of material was crammed into this one movie with tonnes of characters, nods, winks, and background details. Yes that's cool, but it's also a bit overwhelming. Still, I have to admit to kinda liking this. Overall it is a bad clustered movie with awful visual effects but the combination of myths, monsters, and fantasy with an 18 rating kept me engaged.
Ah the old, teacher gets sent to a shitty high school in a shitty area where all the kids are unruly and is tasked with trying to turn them around, routine. How many times have we seen this idea played out? I thought I had seen them all but up pops this James Belushi vehicle. So yeah, think along the lines of 'Dangerous Minds' and to some extent 'The Substitute' and maybe 'Toy Soldiers'. The last of which also starred Louis Gosset Jr. I might add.
OK so the plot isn't quite the same as all of those movies, they each deviate but still have a common theme. In this movie whilst out drinking teacher Rick Latimer (Belushi) spots his ex at a bar with another guy. He attacks the guy and ends up damaging his car. For his punishment, the Board of Education sends him to another school in another district where there is a crime/gang problem (and lack of willing teachers). Not really sure why he wasn't fired truth be told. Or put in prison either as a matter of fact. Anyway naturally Latimer hates this decision but once at the school decides to try and clean it up...with predictable outcomes.
So as you can imagine the school is chock full of all the classic 80's stereotypes both with the students and teachers. The students are mostly made up of minorities and range from Latino gangster wannabes, punks, sluts, extras from a Vanilla Ice gig, jocks, and rednecks. Whereas the teachers are mostly white, middle-aged, wholesome looking, weedy looking, geeky looking, and completely out of their depths (although they seemingly know how to handle the kids to a degree). Gosset plays Phillips the school head security guard. An aging man who once had a shot at going somewhere in sports but got an unlucky injury. You get the impression that Phillips being black means he would be able to see eye to eye with some of the students. Talk to them on their own level, gain a bit of their respect or trust. One reason why he has survived in the job for so long. But this trope doesn't actually come up.
You could also look into the old 'white saviour' motif in this movie, if you see it that way. You could say that Belushi plays the stereotypical white character that comes along to a poor area made up of minorities and saves them all. I mean you could look at it that way. But on the other hand, if the main character was also a minority then you wouldn't get that clash of cultures which is obviously the main crux (the only movie I know that has reversed that idea being 'One Eight Seven'). You also have to acknowledge that in reality the truth hurts, and that truth is there are many schools like this and mostly they tend to be made up of minority students. The school doesn't even have to be in a poor area to have the same issues really. The old class/poverty argument can be more of an excuse in my personal opinion. Being poor doesn't mean you have to join a gang or act like an arse in school.
Obviously things are deliberately to the max in this movie. The school (a very typical huge American high school) itself is really dated looking and in a bad state. Literally everywhere is covered in graffiti. The entire place needs a paint job. Everything looks rusty or dirty. All the equipment is dated. The place looks like a literal health hazard truth be told. I can't believe there would be any schools that actually looked like this in reality, at least these days.
As for the story and characters, well its exactly as you'd expect. You can virtually predict every scene, you know exactly what's gonna happen its that cliche. Latimer is a tough guy but manages to get through to a few of the kids. He visits one female student to try and bring her around, eventually succeeding of course. He gets into some scraps, some situations. Phillips acts more like the wise sidekick on occasion although he isn't of that much help generally. And in the end, in a long sequence that is typically over the top, Latimer must face-off against the main gang that rules the school. Although considering what has happened in schools over the years with shootings, maybe this isn't over the top anymore (it would have been when I was at school).
The real problem with this movie is the casting of Belushi. This supposed to be a crime thriller but Belushi is badly miscast. Around the time this movie was made Belushi was mainly a funny guy actor, comedies or action comedies. This type of serious social commentary, mixed with some thrills, isn't really right for a young Belushi. Every scene which is clearly supposed to serious, and at times emotional, it just gets lost on Belushi. He isn't even that good with the small bits of action either as he looks terribly unfit and sweaty. Nowhere near as cool as he clearly thinks he is. Not that this movie would have been anything special with anyone else, its a cliche fest, but Belushi was just a bad choice in my eyes. The criminal students are actually the highlight here, much better performances from the 'bad guys'.
Visually this looks quite good. I liked the sprawling ramshackle all-American 80's high school, and I liked some of the shots with the lighting effects. But apart from that its all very meh. Watching a chubby Belushi thinking he's ice cool as he rides around on his dated looking motorbike was cringeworthy to say the least.
In the long long long filmography of the mighty Clint Eastwood, this has to be one of the most unusual. Unusual in the fact that whilst watching it you're wondering just why the hell he agreed to star in it (other than lots of money obviously). In short, this movie is absolute hot garbage, red hot trash, and I'm not being funny. It's just odd because this is Clint we're talking about and this movie really is [b]that[/b] bad.
So basically, Lou Ann (Bernadette Peters) is white trash living in a trailer park (yep the stereotypes come thick n fast here). Her other half Roy (Timothy Carhart) is a member of a white supremacist group (perfect political commentary for this modern age as everyone loves white supremacists these days). The group has a large sum of counterfeit money (turns out to be real but that matters not one jot in the grand scheme of things) which Roy is supposed to look after. Alas he gets busted and Lou Ann takes the fall.
Feeling somewhat fed up Lou Ann does a runner in Roy's pink Cadillac (ah ha!) which is exactly where he stores the loot (see where this is going yet?). So Roy and his nasty white male friends go after her. At the same time Tommy Nowak (Eastwood) is hired to track down Lou Ann and bring her back to Sacramento (I think it was) cos she skipped bail. Naturally Tommy finds her but falls in love and ends up helping her yadda yadda yadda. Oh and there's also a baby involved which probably would have been killed by the end of this story considering all the danger.
OK so firstly Clint is clearly too old in this movie. He was too old way before this but its really showing here. Yeah he looks sort of OK but he can barely move with any speed and its painfully obvious in all action sequences which don't involve simply standing still and punching someone. There are far too many obvious stunt double moments and one sequence where Tommy runs after this other guy in downtown Reno (unfortunately an aged fat bloke) is hilariously awful looking. Both guys are [b]clearly[/b] running at a snails pace and [b]clearly[/b[ having trouble at that! It really does look very very bad.
The very first time we see Tommy bust some criminal he's been hired to track is also really stupid. Tommy is supposedly a master of disguise (oh yes) and he goes to this huge amount of trouble to set this criminal up. But in a wholly idiotic move he reveals himself to the criminal [b]before[/b] he gets the guy fully in his car. This of course leads to a fight which totally could have been avoided. Now let's focus on Tommy and his disguises, and by that I mean Clint and his God awful acting. Yep Clint can do the steely-eyed, somewhat muted tough guy, but sure as hell can't do comedy. The scene where he's pretending to be some kind of brash casino contest host is pure cringe, 100% face behind your hands cringe. Later on he then pretends to be a slack-jawed yokel type, oh Jesus!
But wait, that's not all. The movie is titled 'Pink Cadillac' after the car they use for most of the runtime. This is completely pointless though because they could have used any car, it really didn't make a blind bit of difference. I guess it just sounded kinda cool. Much of the movie is set in Reno which I have been to and here lies another problem. Reno is a small city, the main casino strip is actually very small, just two or three rather short streets that don't actually have that many casinos (as of 2019). So it's pretty clear they must have driven around in circles to make the car chases and in-car shots look good.
And then we have the bad guys, oh boy. Now these guys are your stereotypical gun wielding, redneck, yeehaw yokels that seemingly do nothing all day but get drunk and fire guns in their homemade firing range. They all dress as you'd expect in military fatigues or jeans with big belt buckles, and they all have guns, knives, and big 4x4 trucks. Their homemade base is just like some Scout camping activity centre complete with a fake town to run around in and shoot guns. And their leader Alex (Michael Des Barres) is a short scrawny little guy with a greasy ponytail. The bad guys literally look like a bunch of dads at Scout camp trying to look cool.
Yeah so this movie will probably pan out exactly as you might expect...except for one thing, we don't actually know what happens to most of the characters at the end. Yes believe it or not but this movie isn't that violent. In fact you hardly see any bad guys getting killed at all. I would have bet my bottom Dollar on some of the arsehole baddies getting killed off but nope. But referring back to my original point, we don't actually find out what happens to most of the bad guys. Do they simply stop being supremacists? Or do they even live? Dunno. Same goes for Lou Ann's other half Roy who is a main character. No clue what happens to him. The movie just ends after a car chase just as you were expecting the boss to get killed, did he? You just hear the sound effects of a car crashing (low budget? Lack of time?).
So yeah, a cheap looking pile of poo basically. The final showdown really highlights how poor this movie is. It's like a TV show. The only plus point that I can think of was the nice locations and backdrops. It feels like an ill-conceived comedy spin-off from the [i]Dirty Harry[/i] franchise. A huge misfire trying to ride the coattails of another Clint hit.
aka 'Warriors of the Wasteland' upon release in the US.
From the infamous cult Italian director of such classic rip-offs like '1990: The Bronx Warriors' and 'Escape from the Bronx'. Enzo G. Castellari serves up yet another hot piping dish of post-apocalyptic mayhem which quite frankly borders on copyright infringement with other obvious US movies.
The Plot: In the year 2019 (ha!!) the world has been devasted by a nuclear apocalypse. All that appears to be left of humanity are small pockets of life that eek by as best they can. Yet despite the hardship and struggle these survivors must deal with the daily savage attacks by a gang called 'The Templars'. A group of psychotic morons that want to eradicate all humans...except for themselves of course. Only one man stands in their way and can save what's left of humanity, Max...I mean Snake...errr I mean Scorpion (no not that Scorpion). A former Templar thug turned good.
OK so let's just acknowledge the blatantly obvious straight away. This is a complete and utter rip-off of the classic 1981 Australia action movie 'Mad Max 2'. No ifs, no buts, this is literally the Italian version of that movie with minor changes. Pretty much all the same questions arise when watching this movie such as, how do they keep the cars fueled? Where did they get their matching outfits from? How do they keep the outfits so clean? Why wear the same colours? How does no one run out of bullets? And why are there [b]lasers[/b] in this world and how are they kept running??
This post-apocalyptic world is a vast endless barren desert...clearly filmed in a quarry of some kind. Pretty much all the action sequences are filmed in and around this quarry. The good guys are a colony of religious types that just wanna live in peace. As said they all dress near enough the same with the same colour schemes (brown) and they always look very clean. Their home or base looks like a crude military camp on the outside whilst quite impressive on the inside (like a classy Tardis). But they all have plenty of guns and ammo.
On the other hand the bad guys...actually they look like religious nuts too. Well what do you expect with a name like The Templars? The bad guys again all dress in matching uniforms which are all white in colour and again always spotlessly clean. They have loads of guns, lasers and heavily modded vehicles (all of which are totally tooled up with medieval implements of death). Now the odd thing is the leaders, or main characters, in the baddie bunch look like contestants from Sweden's entry in the EuroVision Song Contest for the mid 70's. Seriously, its a mix of an ultra religious Christian bible basher, with a Stormtrooper, with a very camp looking Swedish song and dance act. Some serious wig work in this.
Now the lone-wolf hero, Scorpion, is your typical Han Solo clone. He wears everything you would expect to see on this type of hero from the leather pants to the low cut shirt to show off his chest. What's more amusing is the ass strap that goes between his legs to keep his gun holster in place. He is played by Giancarlo Prete and is the archetype of the Italian male (curly hair and Roman looking features). On the flipside we have good old Fred Williamson who's back for Enzo playing Nadir, a kind of tough lone-wolf anti-hero who doesn't really need to be in this film. Clearly Enzo wanted his American star back. But yeah Nadir is like this Jedi master type who wears this super cheap looking plastic armour and is super skilled with a bow and explosive arrows. He merely teaches Scorpion to be even more badass. Oh and he porks some young girl who's dressed in transparent plastic. You know, just to show us he's [b]all man[/b].
Everything else in this movie is exactly what you think its gonna be without even needing to watch it. There is a somewhat badass female character who can kickass but still needs saving by Scorpion. There are of course plenty of vehicle chases and vehicle-related death sequences which are quite quite hilarious in terms of basic effects but still fun nonetheless. Every vehicle in every chase sequence is clearly cruising along very slowly (you can tell by the background and long shorts). Yet they all have really silly overpowered sound effects. All the fights are very obvious and also executed really slowly. And amusingly, all the people running from vehicles run in a straight line, like in 'Prometheus'. It never occurs to anyone to run to the left or right to evade the vehicle.
Oh and then there's that sodomy scene, yes that's right. In one quite shocking scene the bad guys have captured old Scorpion and have him strung up in their base. Now you think they're gonna torture him for info or fun, but no, they decide to bugger him instead. Yep, they forcibly bend him over and one of the main bad guys smashes his backdoors in. I kid ye not! So errr...hurrah for LGBT representation? Ahem!!
Clearly the budget was low for this, there were limitations, but you can see everyone on Enzo's team really did put a lot of effort in and that's cool. Yes the film is a total shameless rip-off and it is essentially a bit crappy. But there is a lot of fun to be had here. The deaths are ridiculously over the top. The vehicles are [b]even[/b] more insanely over the top. 'Mad Max' up to 11! The score sounds like something from an 80's videogame, awesome. One baddie takes drugs. The wigs are...outlandish. And Scorpions final outfit is something to behold. Like the young slutty girl, he too dons a transparent suit...of body armour, complete with fake muscle structure. It's like Robocop or a Marvel superhero, but their outfit on top is transparent. The craftsmanship!
Truly a movie for the 'so bad it's good' camp. If you enjoy a good cheesy sleazy sci-fi romp with oodles of knock-off ideas that look like trash warmed up, then take a seat my friend. Only Enzo's 'The Bronx Warriors' can match this.
Set in the late 80's around the fall of the Berlin Wall, 'Atomic Blonde' is yet another swish spy thriller that kinda rides on [i]James Bond[/i] coattails but also throws in some 'John Wick' and 'Jason Bourne' for good measure. This film is actually based on a graphic novel called 'The Coldest City' which is something I never knew. Sounds like all the ingredients for an absolute sizzler.
The Twisty Plot: Under MI6 orders and with the help of the CIA, Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is trying to get her hands on a list, a list of spies that if it gets out will naturally compromise said spies lives. David Percival (James McAvoy) is an MI6 Station Chief located in Berlin who is assigned to help Broughton. Delphine LaSalle (Sofia Boutella) is a French agent who falls for Broughton whilst trying to help her. And of course there are various other (Russian) characters who are trying to get their hands on said list to either sell or utilise. Oh and there is also an East German secret police (Stasi) agent who originally had the list and also memorised it, so Broughton has to save his ass too.
I must also point out that this entire story is actually told in flashback as Broughton recalls her entire mission in a debriefing to both MI6 and CIA heads. Personally I thought this was a daft thing to do simply because it just gives the whole game away doesn't it. Broughton is all beat up so we know she's gonna get into some major fisticuffs. She's alive so we know she isn't gonna die at any point. She also seems to have no major visual injuries (other than cuts scrapes and bruises) so again this takes away from any possible tension. And lastly she's alone so that could indicate no one else survives. Basically this direction kinda takes away the stakes of the plot, cos you know she's OK at the end. These sequences also tend to bring the film to a halt,
But the real problem with this film is the fact it's trying way too hard with all its various little branches. There are so many twists and turns which lead to you the viewer not really trusting anyone or anything you see. It sounds devilishly cool but it isn't, it's actually frustrating. Every character has their own basic reason for wanting the list, but you don't really get much beyond that. Yeah some wanna sell it, some wanna use it, Broughton is trying to presumably save the spies on it. But despite all the spy intrigue the characters are pretty shallow. Also, as I said you can't really trust anyone so again you can never be sure what their actual motivations are.
The absolute epitome of this is the ending. Spoiler alert, this film has around three different endings and each one makes a complete U-turn on Broughton. It literally feels like the writers and director couldn't decide on which ending they liked best so they rewrote them in order to cram them all in! You think it's over...and it isn't. You think Broughton is on this side...and she isn't, or that side! I couldn't even be sure if she was actually on the side she finishes with, fully expected another twist.
Yes all the reports are correct in that the action is superb, what there is of it. Yes the action is very John Wick-esque (director David Leitch directed 'John Wick') when it happens, but this is far more of a complicated spy thriller than 'Jane Wick'. Pretty much all of the action sequences are top notch in execution (except for the odd bit of greenscreen and CGI) and highly savage. Theron trained to do the scenes and it shows. One scene in particular, in a stairwell, seemed to be one long continuous shot of non-stop bone cracking, impossible to live through, carnage. Highly impressive, highly unrealistic if you think about it, but highly engaging. Had this come before the original Wick flick then it would be even more impressive.
I don't wanna keep bringing up the [i]John Wick[/i] franchise but considering the links here it's kinda hard not to frankly. So yes overall this film does essentially [b]look[/b] like a [i]John Wick[/i] film only with a lot more neon and 80's nostalgia. On one hand it looks great, on the other hand it again looks like they're trying too hard. Seriously why so much neon?? Its like Leitch tried to make the entire film look like that nightclub scene from 'The Terminator', or an early MTV music video. This also goes for the soundtrack which becomes wholly annoying. Almost every scene has an 80's tune in it for no real reason other than to remind you its the 80's. A lot of this simply felt like style over substance and overall it tries to be too clever for its own good.
For those not in the know this is a Disney cash grab...sorry remake...of the classic 1941 animated movie surrounding a flying baby elephant. I realise this might read like I'm stating the obvious but judging by the state of the box office for this movie it seems a lot of younger folks might not actually know this. I will also point out I only watched this more out of curiosity as I did grow up with the original and I think its a fine animated Disney film, a true classic.
So in 1919 (yes its a period flick too) a small travelling circus is struggling its way across the US. After a series of recent major setbacks the future is not looking too rosy for Ringmaster Max Medici. But unbeknownst to Medici he has an ace up his sleeve just waiting to be played. His large female Asian elephant is pregnant and will soon be delivering a miracle. That miracle turns out to be a little baby elephant with huge wing-like ears. At first all are shocked by this unusual defect, but sure enough in time the little pachyderm brings much joy and success to all around it.
K the first thing that always bugged me about this movie (yep I'm referring to the original) was the fact that the circus folk (and the other animals) were so shocked by an elephant with large ears. Like seriously what is the deal with that? How is that so shocking? The same can be said for this new movie but on an even large scale. In this incarnation the circus is clearly a bit of a dodgy carnival with bad acts, little fanfare, and little budget. It's not a nasty circus per se, it's just running out of steam. Heck even the freaks aren't real.
Surely in the circus era of 1919 seeing freaks (people with disfigurements, illnesses, wounds etc...) would be a pretty common thing and most probably relished. So the fact that an elephant with freakishly huge ears turns up should fill everyone with joy. Surely this little elephant is a gift from the gods in terms of making money from gullible (uneducated) people. So the fact that Medici acts all horrified and wants nothing to do with it makes no sense at all.
Second point is the Burton aspect. I love me some Burton, oh yes, but was he the right choice for this movie? Yeeeah...not really no. We know what Burton does well and he does still do it well. You all know what I mean by that and you all know what to expect here. This time period and circus setting is indeed perfect for Burton and his kooky visions. Visually everything is pretty slick and inevitably dark looking. Think of all the circus characters in 'Batman Returns' but just more realistic in tone. Except for the obvious and tiresome greenscreen and CGI shots which we simply cannot escape from these days, everything looks really nice here.
Kudos to all the people behind the CGI animal effects as they are actually really really excellent. I was really expecting to see a horrendously obvious cartoonish CGI elephant with big ears but what we get is actually a fantastic recreation of the little animated elephant. Even his big blue eyes look very realistic. I cannot fault the overall motion or look of any of the animals in this movie. Nor can I fault some of the recreated scenes from the animated movie which are, surprisingly, well captured again here.
What I can fault is the overstuffed plot and various pointless characters. Naturally the plot here has been altered to fill out a proper runtime and it kinda works and kinda doesn't. I appreciate what they have tried to do and it does sorta work, but at the same time it really does just highlight how good the original animated film was in its sheer simplicity. The original movie was a bare-bones affair to a degree, very little dialog, characters, or plot even. The movie was only about an hour long for heaven's sake. In this remake they have crammed in a whole load of characters that don't need to be there (Colin Farrell's character). Backstory that is completely unnecessary. Huge action scenes (of course). The classic songs and their sequences are all but gone. And naturally a grand finale in a grand location.
Don't get me wrong I love me some Michael Keaton and I do kinda like his cruel dastardly amusement park owner Vandevere, but what the feck was going on in that last act??!! All of a sudden we're at a flippin' enormous steampunk version of Epcot Centre with a dash of [i]Jurassic Park[/i] and [i]The Jetsons[/i] thrown in! Clearly this guy has got money judging by the size of his park, his army of employees, and the interior of his buildings (look at his office!!). But that does lead you to query why he would need a flying elephant [b]that[/b] much. The other thing that got me was the fact that despite the audience and a rich investor (Alan Arkin) seeing Dumbo fly (granted only for a few minutes), they still weren't happy! The audience wanted their money back and Arkin's character wouldn't invest in Keaton's park! Dude! You literally just saw a flying baby elephant! What more do you need???
Then to really top things off, the heroes try to save Dumbo and his mum from the devilish Vandevere by shutting down all the electricity in his gigantic park. This causes panic all round but it is compounded when Vandevere arrives at his control room tower and starts essentially pulling every lever and pushing every button to try and get things going again despite his men telling him not to because it will overload the system. This then causes [b]everything[/b] to apparently catch fire and start to crumble down giving us this immense towering inferno that engulfs the entire park! What. The. Feck. Burton!
Yeah, so it's pretty obvious this would never replace the classic 1941 original, not even close. Like I said I do appreciate what Burton tried to do here but it was always gonna be a losing battle and one that should have never taken place. Clearly they had issues with...everything...and it only goes to prove you don't need to remake everything, especially a classic animated movie that only had a runtime of literally 1 hour. It's not the worst movie in the world no, it's not even close, but it is completely pointless. And with that, I hear by rest my case on the mystery of the continual Disney cash grab phenomenon. Case closed!
Another children's book series adapted into a potential movie franchise? Ugh!!! Directed by Eli Roth?? Wha??!!
So in this story (originally published in 1973 so it predates a lot of most children's book movie adaptations), a young boy named Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) goes to live with his uncle John (Jack Black) in his large creepy [i]Addams Family[/i] style house after his parents are killed in a car accident. From the outset it's pretty clear that all is not quite right within this house. Unsurprisingly the boy's uncle turns out to be a warlock, a good warlock, and his best friend Florence Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett) is a good witch.
Eventually Lewis grows accustomed to his new supernatural surroundings and begins to learn the ways of witchcraft. Unsurprisingly Lewis finds out that the old house was once owned by an evil warlock called Isaac Izard (Kyle MacLachlan) who has hidden a clock within the walls of the house. He has done this because he wants to turn back time to the point that mankind never existed and the hidden clock will somehow allow that to happen via some magical alignment or something, I dunno. Of course this can't happen because Isaac has been long dead and buri...oh the young boy disobeys his uncle's orders and uses a magical book to cast a spell which raises Isaac from the dead. Of course.
So what does this movie offer that we haven't seen before? Rhetorical questions my dears. Yep this movie offers [b]nothing[/b], quite literally nothing. Am I being harsh? No I genuinely don't think so. The highlight of the movie is clearly and obviously Jack Black as Lewis' uncle. Yes even though we have seen these kinds of Black performances before they are undoubtedly enjoyable every time. Whilst they have clearly tried to give Black a kind of Dr. Strange-esque/Vincent Price-esque look and quality which does actually fail, it's still charming. The way Black interacts with his spooky house is a fun element.
The rest of the cast are drab predictable and uninteresting whilst the villain could have been played by literally anyone because it really didn't matter. There is a coming of age element in the story with Lewis' parents not being there and him having to learn to come to terms with that and his uncle. There is also the usual school bullying aspect thrown in there too and Lewis making friends with a random kid who helps him. It doesn't turn out the way you expect it admittedly but it's not groundbreaking stuff. Will kids pick up on it? Maybe, maybe not, I lean towards them being interested in the flashy effects more than anything.
Other than Black the only other element I did like was the 50's setting in a typical all-American 50's small town (or so it looked). Yeah we've seen this before but there is something so cozy and charming about these kinds of settings. A warm fuzzy feeling of nostalgia even though I wasn't even alive at the time. I think it's down to all the old sci-fi and horror movies I've seen and enjoyed from that specific era that draws me in. Obviously I'm not alone in this because many of these kids flicks tend to have these small town settings. The interior house sets were also a plus for me with their thick wooden design and gorgeous old-worldly supernatural decorations. I [b]love[/b] a good solid well dressed period-set haunted house.
But that is also the problem with this movie, it just feels too similar to so many other movies. To be more specific, this movie basically feels like another [i]Goosebumps[/i] movie. I mean its literally the same spiel with the same lead actor! The special effects look no different, the same obvious CGI throughout. The various monsters and creatures could easily be straight out of said franchise. It's all the same, if Slappy had turned up it wouldn't have looked a bit unusual at all.
The plot also didn't really help. I have not read the original book so I cannot say how accurate everything is, but Jez is this a mess. The evil witch wants to rewind time right back to a point where he can stop mankind from ever happening, but why?? Why would anyone want to actually do that if they could? Wouldn't that mean that the evil witch himself wouldn't exist? What would he gain from this? Then there was a whole load of hocus-pocus about the clock in the wall turning back time so he can erase mankind or whatever. What's so special about that clock? Why hide it in the house? Then the lower half of the house (which seems to get bigger and bigger the further into the movie, like the Tardis) turns into a big clock of sorts with huge cogs and gears which gets stopped by merely dropping a magic 8-ball into them.
I mean I realise this is a kids movie but it's just too meh and despite being based on a book, it's completely the same as many other kid flicks. I mean how many supernatural children's movies have there been now?? (all trying to ride the coattails of [i]Harry Potter[/i]). Heck even the movies poster isn't much to shout about and it looks fairly derivative. The plot is boring and makes no sense. The visual effects are terrible (CGI baby Jack Black?) but the actual sets are top banana. Black is good but much like everything else here too familiar. And lastly there's no real tension because the villain and his plan is utter nonsense.
This basically felt like a Poundland/DollarTree [i]Harry Potter[/i] and the third generic sequel in the [i]Goosebumps[/i] franchise.
OK so let me start this review by explaining my initial thoughts on this movie and its basic premise. As I'm sure many are aware the basic idea in this movie is how civilisation has crumbled after a devasting war and the remaining humans have, for some reason, decided to mount all the remaining cities on wheels so they can 'drive them around' so to speak. Well although this sounds cool on paper (in a kind of [i]GamesWorkshop[/i] related way) I also found it to be simply ludicrous.
Obviously I know this is based on a fantasy novel and the entire concept is outlandish science-fiction, but really? So firstly I would have to ask how the feck mankind is supposed to have put their cities onto such huge chassis. This would mean they would have had to dig up famous landmarks (such as St. Paul's in London), load them onto the chassis, and then somehow fix them in place to said chassis. I then found myself asking what about the rest of London? How did they decide what to save? Are all the other buildings custom made for the new London-on-wheels or have they also been dug up and planted on the chassis?
I then found myself asking the most fundamental question (I think). What is the actual point in building (or putting) a city on wheels? How does that benefit the city? I mean yeah sure you could move it to the coast in the summer but it just seems so utterly stupid. Just looking at these things they look so fragile, vulnerable, and in one case completely top heavy. A neat fantasy idea for a cool image and again it sounds wicked on paper, but when you actually see it in live action and try to think about it logically it raises [b]so[/b] many questions. Also the fact that mankind has done this after an apocalyptic event really makes little sense. Not to mention the fact they still seem to have a lot of technology, materials, food, water, and working men to actually build all this stuff. These vast mobile cities are damn impressive feats, yet they go around destroying each other.
My last nagging question relates to the land itself. It seems that the surface of the Earth has changed since the '60 minute war' and countries like the UK have now joined mainland Europe (?). Anyway, considering how vast the mobile city of London is (and I assume some other cities), it got me wondering if there was enough space on the land for all these mobile metropolises. Heck even the smaller mobile cities are pretty big and its indicated there are many of them. I mean you could ask the same about ocean-going cruise liners in our present day and obviously there is plenty of ocean for lots. But if there were loads all roaming around on their own accord I'm sure there would be problems. This also led to me ask what state the land would be in. These gigantic mobile cities tearing and grinding up the earth as they piledrive along. The land would be wrecked, flattened, no trees, no plant life, no animal life, a complete wasteland.
As for the actual movie, well its a mixed bag really and does indeed remind you of some other large budgeted sci-fi movie failures of recent. First off it is very much your bog standard [i]Star Wars[/i] type clone with all the usual bog standard characters. Mix in some other very common elements from some other well known classic franchises (I don't even need to mention them) and this is the inevitable result. The only aspect of this movie that was slightly fresh was the steampunk aspect, which I liked.
But yeah you have your standard unwilling hero who finds himself thrust into a war of which he was somewhat naive about (and in this case looks disturbingly like Justin Trudeau). The standard strong female character who is trying to get revenge. The standard well-spoken leader who is actually behind closed doors the nasty villain. And then basically a whole load of background characters doing the usual stuff for both sides. I also have to mention that yet again we have a clear case of all the goodies being a multicultural bunch. Whereas all the baddies are all white, just like in [i]The Last Jedi[/i]. A strange and increasingly obvious Hollywood trend.
I mean in all honesty, aside from the admittedly cool and intriguing visuals, there isn't really that much going on here. It has the exact beats (both character and plot-wise) you would expect from a sci-fi feature of this ilk, literally scene for scene. In one sequence the main villain Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving) wants to unleash this cyborg from a prison so it can hunt down and kill the main hero Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar). Now Weaving's character is highly important in this movie, he has sway and power. Yet in order to release this cyborg he destroys the entire prison killing everyone. Couldn't he get this thing out without doing that? This attack also highlights how vulnerable and badly designed these mobile vehicles are, in this case a spider-like walking prison. One shot to a leg joint and down it goes.
And speaking of the cyborg (a clear Terminator rip-off called Shrike), what was that all about? From what I can gather these things were men that have been killed in battle and then resurrected with mechanical body parts. And apparently there was an entire army of them. This particular one looked after Hester as a child after her mother had been murdered. Why this killer cyborg decided to do this I don't know. But the really odd thing is the fact that the cyborg offers to turn Hester into an undead cyborg (because she is suffering depression from the murder of her mother). Hester agrees (!!) and makes a promise with Shrike. But in changing her mind Hester breaks that promise which triggers Shrike to continually hunt her down in order to kill her and transform her into an undead cyborg (eh???). This entire subplot was just idiotic and was completely pointless to the movie. You could literally remove it all, utterly aimless.
Of course Shrike eventually tracks Hester down to a city in the sky (yes that's right a city in the sky, in the clouds if you will...ahem) and in the ensuing battle the city starts to fall apart. Shrike gets badly damaged and Hester does find her original love for Shrike is reignited as the cyborg is obviously about to expire. And in typical action movie fashion despite the entire city falling apart around them with explosions and debris, both Hester and Shrike manage to muster enough time in order to have an emotional farewell (in true [i]Terminator[/i] fashion).
So yeah suspension of disbelief is required for this movie. Whilst that might sound obvious for a sci-fi fantasy it's a bit different for this one seeing as its sorta supposed to reflect upon certain obvious political issues of our current time such as capitalism, climate change, easily manipulated governmental systems, non-renewable energy etc...Cities that 'eat' and 'absorb' other cities which only benefits the few (in the cities) instead of everyone which would possibly lead to a better future. Basically saying, or highlighting, how society can/could eat itself. This can be easily detected in the story but the sci-fi element is so zany with its wheeled warrior cities the social commentary kinda gets smothered. Not to mention the sheer quantity of horrendous greenscreen effects and shots. Stand aside [i]Star Wars[/i] prequels, there's a new joker in town.
So yeah, the wheeled tank-like cities concept is engaging but ultimately really stupid. The rest of it is by the numbers science fiction which can be somewhat fun but only when the characters are actually onboard some kind of moving vehicle (they aren't very good characters that's why). Once they fall off onto the ground the movie literally stops dead, which is weird when you think about it. This is a highly imaginative and packed world for sure but as said before it owes so much to other films and tries to do too much. I felt like I was watching the final movie in a trilogy (or more!). The movie really feels like it needs sequels but I doubt that will happen. One thing I will say, I reckon this has future cult status written all over it.
A young lad comes back from the dead to take revenge against the ruthless gang (of slightly older lads) that murdered him. There is no crow to help this young man though, no this lad comes back from the dead as a supernatural highly skilled street racer so he can...umm...race the gang members one by one and kill them in bizarre car accidents. You wouldn't think it though as the start of the movie feels more like the arrival of an alien being more than anything. Anyway, [b]really[/b[ not too sure why he doesn't just come back and simply shoot them or whatever, but the gang are street racers themselves so I guess that explains it, kinda.
So yes, the plot of this movie is your typical revenge thriller. Your typical supernatural tale of an innocent person coming back from the dead to avenge their untimely death at the hands of some baddies. But it is indeed strikingly similar to the bird-related graphic novel that sprouted from the brain of one James O'Barr that's for sure. One has a heavy rock theme whilst the other a heavy car theme. The genesis of O'Barr's supernatural tale started way back in 1981, with the graphic novel eventually coming out in 1989, and finally followed by the movie in 1994. Of course the similar plots could just be coincidental, but it does get you thinking.
Anyway, as I said the very start of this movie is hella cheesy and looks more like the introduction of an alien being landing on a deserted desert highway, in a souped-up car. The effects are of course incredibly 80's lookin', naturally, but boy do they look good. Think of the speedy visuals from 'Tron' but set against a silvery full moon in a desert and finishing with a reveal shot of the mysterious hero clad in an all-black with a racing helmet. The whole sequence is gloriously goofy yet at the same time the epitome of retro coolness.
The Baddies: Now these dudes are a small bunch of (five) young guys, probably in their early 20's, led by one much older guy named Packard (Nick Cassavetes). Not sure if he was actually supposed to be older or that was just down to the fact they cast Cassavetes as a young man in his early 20's when he clearly wasn't. Anyway these guys are, again, the epitome of the classic 80's gang. Nick the leader is a bit of a greaser with his hairstyle and black leather jacket. Whilst his young henchmen are a mix of drugged up punks, weasely rats, and your cliched high school bully type all with silly names. It's an odd blend really because Nick is shown to be quite mentally unhinged and perfectly happy to actually kill people. Whilst his cronies are often more light-hearted, acting as comedic relief being all goofy and dumb. Clint Howard (who looks too old for the part) plays the brains behind the gangs car mods and sports a weird haircut that's straight outta the 1977 film 'Eraserhead'.
The bad guys are an interesting bunch. They mostly seem to be young adults that don't appear to do anything of use. Yet they seem to own this huge garage chock full of mechanical equipment for maintaining cars. We know they take part in crime, petty and serious. And we know they force people to race their souped-up cars and keep them when they win (by cheating). But we only see two of them with some kind of manual labour job, whilst Packard does nothing accept cruise around lookin' for fights, races, and watching his girl. So how do they afford to keep this large garage with all its gear? Do they actually run a service for people? Or do they fix up their victory cars and sell them? How have they not been busted by the cops yet??
The Girl: I did find it amusing that the sweet innocent girlfriend of Packard (Keri played by Sherilyn Fenn) actually continues to go out with him despite the fact he's clearly bad news. Don't get me wrong she knows he's bad news but never really seems too upset over it. She lodges some complaints here and there sure but she never really goes for it. The fact that he constantly threatens her and claims he owns her should really be an alarm bell to get the hell outta that relationship; nah she just protests a bit then carries on. I was like, girl go to the police for God's sake.
The Hero: So Packard and his mates killed this poor kid Jake (Charlie Sheen). Luckily he comes back as a supernatural force to take revenge...in a supernatural super-powered car. Again don't get me wrong its a super cool concept but...really? Like why does he need the car? If you're able to come back from the dead (or given the powers to do so by a greater force), you don't need a supercar surely. Anyway we know this is just an excuse for fast car racin'. The bad guys steal and race cars so the only way to beat them is race them, apparently. Jake is decked out in an all-black tinted helmet with an all-black jumpsuit which is covered in metal parts which represent other victims. I didn't quite get this, were these parts supposed to represent former victims of Packard's gang?
Another thing I didn't get was what Jake was supposed to be. For starters he comes back from the dead in a different body, he says it was the closest to what he used to look like. But what's going on with that? Why doesn't he come back in his original form/body? Who's body does he come with? Next up, is Jake a ghost or not? At the end Jake and Keri leave town together to start afresh. But is Jake actually alive? Is he a rotting corpse? A ghost? Reborn completely?? Immortal? Invincible?
The Car: The car in question was a Dodge M4S Turbo Interceptor. A high-performance supercar designed and built in 1981for demonstration purposes. It most definitely looks the biz in this that's for sure. All black, completely tinted all round, low to the ground, and with a very sleek curvy aerodynamic spaceship design. The car is very effective throughout the movie (much like the DeLorean was for 'Back to the Future') and certainly emits a mysterious, dangerous and speedy quality. Alas the actual races we get are clearly filmed at low speeds which spoils the fun but the sight of this car lining up against some other classic all-American muscle cars is a sight to behold (for petrolheads anyway).
Another aspect the movie seems to hint at is the fact that Packard knows of The Wraith (never called that in the movie I think). When Jake turns up at their garage (in his all-black attire) and shoots up the place, Packard acts as if this has happened before. He doesn't actually seem particularly scared either, as if he's seen this black-clad vigilante before. All in all Packard is as cool as a cucumber when you'd think he'd be terrified like the other guys. So it kinda seems there's a history here which is odd because Jake only turns up in the area at the start of the movie so...what's going on here?
This movie really is the quintessential naff 80's action flick. It has all the ingredients from the wacky villains to the wicked cars to the plot that really doesn't add up when you think about it. But somehow none of that really matters. The supernatural element isn't really that spooky or tense or anything, it's just quirky and fun. The special effects are actually pretty solid. The race and crash sequences are fairly well done in a Saturday morning cartoon kinda way ([i]Pole Position[/i]). Sheen's lifeless performance is odd but Cassavetes and his henchmen are clearly enjoying themselves while they chew up the scenery. Whilst Randy Quaid as the local sheriff pretty much plays a character we've seen him do before. If you like comicbook type flicks then you'll like this. In fact it does feel like an update of a 30's pulp comic character, kinda. Highly enjoyable fast food trash.
This inevitable sequel apparently seems to be an entirely new story which isn't linked to the original, something that took me by surprise. Not that I recall much from the first movie as almost all movies these days are the same garbage over and over, but the original did leave off with that invisible boy writing a new book. So we're not going to see what happens with that then??
Instead this movie takes us on another route to yet another sleepy small all American town with another bunch of kids. Its the usual spiel, two young boys out for adventure, an older sister trying to get into college, the apparent single mother, and the local school bully. It's your bog standard setup all round. Naturally the boys eventually stumble across Slappy the dummy who eventually reveals himself to be alive. At first the boys think this is great but soon discover the dummy is evil. Alas its too late because Slappy is already setting his plan in motion to bring everything Halloween related to life in order to make Halloween forever...just because.
So essentially what we have here is exactly the same story as the first movie (Slappy trying to take over a town), but with a different set of kids. There really doesn't seem to be any proper rhyme or reason to having everything turned into a cheesy Halloween festival, not really sure why Slappy is so obsessed with this idea. I mean, once everything is looking like Halloween town with goofy monsters and trick or treat decorations running around, then what? What is Slappy's endgame here?
This movie is so damn cliched and predictable too. Right from the start when we're seeing the local town with all the various Halloween decorations up everywhere, you know straight away all these things will be coming to life at some point. And sure enough. Not only that but many of these creatures are the same damn creatures from the first movie! We've got the werewolf again, the abominable snowman, the gnomes etc...The only difference this time is they replaced the massive gnome attacks with gummi bears (of which there was only a small toy bucket full of gummi bears, yet when they attack there's like millions of them). But what's more, the visual effects are awful! The CGI throughout this movie is really average to say the least. Not even on par with the first movie.
Everything is as cliche as the Halloween decorations. Yes admittedly this is based on a kids book franchise and yes this is supposed to be for kids, but come on! The cast isn't specifically bad per se but simply safe and unimpressive. It's like this is their first gig after being picked up from some crappy kids cable channel. But it doesn't help when the script gives them the corniest dialog possible and they're doing the most cliche things possible. It's like the writers got their ideas from the big book of movie cliches that have been done a gazillion times before. I mean seriously, the whole school bully angle, Jesus Christ how generic can you be??
The only highlight in this entire cliche-ridden movie is the brief return of Jack Black as R.L. Stine. From the second Black steps up to the camera with his first line of dialog the movie goes up a gear. But this is only temporary as Black flits in and out of the grand finale until its all over (he misses it). The kids save the day and Stine turns out to be of no use after all. I suppose its good that the big Hollywood movie star doesn't save the day but clearly this movie needed more Black. The difference in quality he brings with his comedic acting is as clear as day (loved the 'IT' reference). Big mistake leaving him out.
Spoiler alert! The movie ends on yet another cliffhanger which theoretically should lead into the inevitable third movie. But firstly, they did the same at the end of the first movie and didn't follow that up so...And secondly, this sequel failed at the box office so I'm not sure if we'll see a third.
Much like his 1998 action car flick 'Taxi' Luc Besson found success with this hitman/car action flick which was somewhat slick but also rather stupid (accept 'Taxi' had no hitman). So naturally just like the Marseille set car romp, this hitman thriller also wound up with a sequel which amped up what came before it ('Taxi' actually went on to have 4 sequels).
So this second entry starts off in exactly the same way as the first movie. Frank Martin (Jason Statham) is seating peacefully in his car waiting for the precise time to start his latest mission. The only difference here is Martin is now sitting in a black Audi A8 (probably for money/sponsorship reasons). Cometh the hour cometh the man, accept this time Martin is stopped in his tracks by a hot female dressed in a skimpy schoolgirl outfit (mmmmm). Turns out Martin is just about to be carjacked by a gang of African American males...and their white female accomplice? So long story short, Martin obviously beats the shit outta these guys and calmly carries on with his latest mission.
This one scene pretty much tells you everything you need to know about this new entry. The action will be more exuberant and heavy hitting, whilst inexplicably strewn with females in ridiculously skimpy outfits for no real reason. There was absolutely no reason whatsoever to have that hot chick in the schoolgirl outfit other than giving the male audience (and director presumably) a boner. Cos why would this gang need her? Do they really need her to carjack one man? (there were 4 of them). Look I'm no PC prude believe me, but I'm just pointing out the obvious in this movie (and it gets worse).
Indeed the characters of the movie do get more ridiculous. The main bad guy Chellini is played by Italian actor Alessandro Gassman, and he does he solid job. But is it just me or does this guy look identical to Benicio del Toro?? I just couldn't help but feel that maybe, just maybe, they wanted del Toro and couldn't get him, so they hired a lookalike. But then we have the real coup de grÃ¢ce, the villainess Lola played by Kate Nauta. Now this femme fatale is beautiful and there's nothing wrong with highlighting that don't get wrong; but she literally spends the entire film's runtime in her underwear I kid you not. And boy does the director get the cameraman to make the most of her ass, lips, legs, and feet in heels from every angle possible. It gets to a point where you think you're watching one of those soft porn 'girls n guns' type videos where sexy girls in bikinis simply fire guns (so I've heard, ahem!).
As I've said the action is ramped up in this sequel, ramped up to 11! Naturally Martin is an invincible superman who cannot be beaten or injured (like all Statham flicks). So there's no real tension anywhere to be found. This time he manages to spot a bomb on the underneath of his Audi via a puddle. He then proceeds to knock it off via launching the car into midair whilst flipping it so the underside strikes a crane which tears off the bomb. Oh and Lola shoots at a helicopter with her machine gun which causes it to explode. Yeah, that actually happens.
But one of the most idiotic parts of the movie is a simple plot device. That being, the really pathetic way in which they bring a character from the first movie back for this second movie...and it's pointless. Yep in this movie Inspector Tarconi (FranÃ§ois BerlÃ (C)and) is back because he's come to the US to visit Frank for his holiday. Really? There is absolutely no reason for this character to come back in this sequel other than for face recognition. He serves no purpose to the movies continuity because of the different setting and he serves no real purpose to the plot. Take him out and replace him with someone else or not a tall. I mean, good for the actor, not wanting to deny him work but its such a typical lame move in so many movies.
I honestly didn't like this movie much because it bears no proper resemblance to the original concept in the first movie which was also lost very quickly. Its like Besson had a reasonably decent idea for a semi-serious gritty action thriller...and proceeded to ruin it with outlandish ideas. And those outlandish ideas just got more and more outlandish to the point of farcical. The inspiration for this franchise is pretty clear with the action, cars, and sexy women, but the overall execution is sloppy. The final action sequence with the jet showcases that sloppiness perfectly with the shocking CGI. It all ends up looking like a videogame cut-sequence, funnily enough much like many of Statham's action movies. Lots of style (and underwear) but very little substance.
Written and produced by iconic French action director Luc Besson, this was his second attempt to bring Asian action to the mainstream in Europe (and kinda crack into the US on a personal level). Yes Asian action was no secret back then (although it wasn't huge outside of Asia) but this was Asian action with French flair.
The story is pretty simple. Ex-military man Frank Martin (Jason Statham) is a transporter, a transporter of anything no questions asked. He has three rules; no names, no alterations to the deal, and don't look inside the package. Whilst delivering a package he notices it moving. Eventually, after much deep thought, he opens the package and discovers a bound and gagged female. He is somewhat shocked but carries on with his delivery.
Upon delivering the package to the client he is offered another job. Midway through this job the package explodes and almost kills him. The client, a Mr. Bettencourt (Matt Schulze) tricked him and tried to whack him because Martin broke the rules, he opened the package (kinda understandable actually). This obviously forces Martin to return to Bettencourt's estate and take vengeance by killing some of his men and stealing a car. Alas the car has the bound and gagged female inside. Martin must now protect himself and the woman who has also revealed that Bettencourt is trafficking people, so there's that too.
Now, this movie was never very original, not by a long shot. The fact that Besson was involved helped as he was seen as more of a cult director at the time. The Asian action blend and influence from director Corey Yuen was seen as fresh at the time. And Statham drew intrigue because here was an action man who wasn't your standard handsome A-list movie star with big muscles; he was British and looked and sounded more like a villain...with muscles.
With that being said there is enough to like here for sure. The first half of this movie is easily the better half as we are given a very likeable action thriller that is clearly very Besson-esque. We meet Martin who is a disciplined, calm and collected, suit-wearing professional who only speaks when necessary. He drives a souped-up, high spec, black BMW which he drives like a badass, but again only when required. The plot is basic but engaging and the action is swift and brutal but believable. It is only once Martin inadvertently saves the girl that things start to go downhill with silliness.
For a start it takes an age before we actually find out why this female (Lai played by Shu Qi) has been kidnapped, which is stupid. When she is picked up by Martin she has no real idea who he is and if he's trustworthy, yet she never really tries to escape. Hell, even when Martin takes her back to his place she [b]still[/b] doesn't try to escape! I mean, this guy could be planning to rape and kill her, but she ends up totally trusting him, covering for him when the police show up, and even making him food! She basically gets all cozy with Martin without even knowing him or what his plans are and considering her situation, it's weird.
Things get even more out of hand when the bad guys show up in the middle of the day armed to the teeth with guns and rocket launchers and destroy Martin's residence. All this in clear view of anyone, but nothing happens and no police are called. Luckily Martin has yet another luxurious residence not too far away (of course) so it's all good. And the female he rescued (who is kinda his captive now) offers sex to make up for all the trouble she's caused, because of course she does. The really odd thing though is Lai trusts and helps Martin so much throughout the movie, but when it comes to a point when Martin really does need her verbal assistance with a confrontation between the police and the bad guys, she doesn't say a word!
I must also point out the quite terrible musical score throughout this picture. An odd blend of your typical action themes with soft orchestral moments which feel completely out of place for the most part. It really is quite weird because at times it makes the movie feel like a low budget production, like it's been tacked on because they had nothing else to use.
Anyone who knows Luc Besson will know this movie and just what to expect. We all know Besson has a hitman/hitwoman fetish and since his 1990 offering 'Nikita' has essentially done the same thing time and time again switching between male and female leads. Although 'The Transporter' is nowhere near as solid in overall quality as his earlier hitman flicks (the other being 'Leon' in 1994), this first offering does still have plenty to enjoy. It's just a shame that the movie slowly degenerates into a stupid mess which was eventually doubled down on with the even stupider sequels.
And we're back following on from the first hit movie based on the popular childhood toy Lego.
The movie continues from where it left off at the conclusion of the first movie. After discovering the Lego universe was in fact the concoction of Finn's imagination whilst playing, his little sister Bianca comes along to join in on the fun. Within the Lego world this is represented by the arrival of Duplo built aliens. The aliens quickly destroy Bricksburg reducing it to an apocalyptic wreck. In the real world this translates to Bianca taking some Lego down to the basement to play with in order to get away from Finn.
The adventure that follows revolves around a few of the main characters (Batman, Lucy, Benny, and Unikitty) getting kidnapped by an unknown force and taken to the Systar System. There Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi wants to marry Batman and seemingly keep the others in a state of happiness and temptation. It's up to Emmet to try and save his friends with the help of a new found friend in Rex Dangervest.
So I guess the most interesting part of this movie is the way they represent the real world through the actions of the Lego world, and vice versa. Obviously we all know this from the first movie but that element becomes a much stronger feature from the midway part of this movie. Basically we find out that certain places in the Lego world are actually jumbled wording for things in reality like the washer dryer and the area beneath it, or the basement, or the kid's mother (which turns out to be a vision of armageddon for the Lego world). Whilst I did kinda like this aspect of the story (in a kind of [i]Rugrats[/i] sort of way), I didn't really like how the real world becomes a much larger part of the overall story.
By that I mean this movie is supposed to be about a fantasy world of Lego primarily. OK it's based around a kids imagination but that's OK if used sparingly. But they use this far too much towards the end and you just lose all sense of the Lego fantasy because the real world just takes you out of it (or did for me anyway). It's like the first half is a Lego fantasy flick whilst the second half actually becomes more like [i]Toy Story[/i] but with Lego (and not CGI animation). Now this is a good idea...but for another movie! This feels like two ideas crashing into each other and one wipes the other out.
And that leads me to the movie as a whole, its one huge big giant mess. The original movie had a lot set within the Lego city of Bricksburg which was fine. There were also many other crazy elements tossed in there from lots of other franchises, which was fine. But in this sequel its exactly the same shit but like loaded up on cocaine. Its the most bat-shit crazy hodgepodge of ideas I've seen for some time. They throw literally everything they can think of at the wall to see what sticks, and frankly, it's so off the wall nuts not much of it does. The humour falls flat all the time, the ideas are all old hat (been there done that from the first movie), and the story is wafer thin.
Bottom line it's all about Finn and Bianca coming together, stopping their squabbling and playing friendly. That is literally it, the whole plot about certain characters getting kidnapped just feels like a waste of time. Yeah it all represents the two kids feuding and eventually reuniting but its hella weak. The point where their mother gets fed up and tells them to pack all their Lego away is just odd because what parent would tell their kids to box up all their toys and put them in storage as a punishment?? Yeah the parent might confiscate the toys for a while but box it up for storage? It's also that boxing that represents the armageddon in the Lego world.
Don't get me wrong the movie is visually very impressive as you would expect and seeing the various Lego pieces is always a nostalgic joy. But at the end of the day this [b]really[/b] feels like they had no real idea where to go with the story and just chucked a load of random things into the blender. The movie is itself much like a young child's Lego creation, a colourful unusual hybrid of anything and everything stuck together. Obviously that is the basic idea but I really feel this just ran out of steam about five minutes in. Seeing the [i]Mad Max[/i] inspired post-apocalyptic Bricksburg was cool, after that its essentially exactly the same as before but duller and more bizarre.
Not even a Lego version of Chris Pratt sending up all his previous movie characters by rolling them into one character could save this I'm afraid. Yes, even that brazen rugged good-looking type action hero character has been done to death both comically and seriously.