Saturday, May 28, 2011
A direct-to-DVD Seagal movie would consist mostly of secondary characters running around getting into car chases or sitting in rooms talking with occasionally Seagal popping up to say something incoherent (and sometimes in a bad old man voice dub) or play slap-happy with a goon or two. The movies have all kinds of different uninteresting stories going on and you really don't care. You want to see Seagal kick everyone's ass and that's it. His latest movies are poorly put together with little effort spent on story, characters, cinematography, action and direction along with a whole slew of other things that go into making movies. The producers of these films bank everything solely on the popularity of the main star Steven Seagal. Idiots like me walk around and see the cover and say "Wow! Seagal really looks mean on the cover of this one AND he's holding a pistol like he's about to shoot somebody. Maybe this time this will be a good one." We fall for it every time. That's how these movies make profit.
Now look at UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION. Just the very beginning of the film starts off with a thrilling car chase with gunfire and people getting all shot to pieces. It sucks you in and you realize that this movie is going to be something special. As the movie goes on, however, you become concerned because Van Damme is barely in this movie. He's almost a supporting character rather than the main star. But the secondary characters are so well acted that they become interesting. Take for example the rogue scientist that sells his work to the highest bidder. He is a little smart ass unafraid of pissing off the large armed men around him including the bad guy in charge. What a great actor he is and we will probably never see him in anything ever again. You could have a whole movie based around him and it would be quite enjoyable. The acting is good all the way around. I don't think there are any typical cheesy one liners. The movie takes the story seriously.
The action is plentiful and well choreographed. The director knows how to film a fight scene. There isn't the shaky cam with extreme close ups of every move. The ending with Van Damme killing a hundred guys at once is something we all have wanted to see since CYBORG. This movie does Van Damme justice allowing him to be a simple character with a complex inner struggle to fit in with society after being resurrected from the dead. Thankfully the movie doesn't spend too much time on that aspect. But I will say that the older Van Damme gets the better of an actor he gets. Watch JCVD for a better example.
My only real complaint about REGENERATION is the little screen time Dolph Lundgren has in the film. I almost wish they didn't let us know he was in the film so we would be surprised to see him make an appearance at the end. In a way the advertising of VAN DAMME VS. LUNDGREN reminds me of like an old Universal studios monster movie like FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN. The monsters barely meet and don't really fight at all. At least Van Damme's fight with Dolph is a good one. I don't want to spoil it. The movie is pretty vague in terms of what kind of sequel it is. I believe it throws out RETURN all together and barely mentions anything from the very first UNIVERSAL SOLDIER. In fact you could make the argument that this movie is a reboot to the franchise. The only thing getting in the way of that argument is the cloned Lundgren telling Van Damme that "all this seems familiar." When the two meet Dolph has a boy and a girl (who Van Damme was sent in to save) in a corner getting ready to kill them. The room is lit by flames (I think) giving the setting a similar look like the burning village from Vietnam where Van Damme and Dolph first fought and killed each other. Pretty cool, huh?
REGENERATION puts all the money on the screen. The direction and cinematography are great. You can see great care put into every scene. The bleak grey colors that dominate the entire movie never become an eyesore. This movie in terms of resources is probably just as expensive as most direct-to-video movies are. Why can't they all put as much effort into their schlock as the makers of REGENERATION do. If you are going to make an action movie or an horror movie or whatever make it the best damn whatever you can. Put everything you got and then some into making it the best ever. Otherwise go back to making amateur porn with your not so hot girlfriend that's into anime and Pokemon cards. Please don't show it to us. We don't care.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Back during the third season of PROJECT GREENLIGHT I was rooting for John Gulager to win the director spot and make the first FEAST movie. He was a likable guy who had a unique eye for the camera. Gulager made a great B-Movie Creature Feature. FEAST part 1 was a fun gory mess of a good time. The movie played with the stereo-types unafraid to kill off the main characters right away to throw the movie into a somewhat unpredictable chaos. It did alot of things right including killing off Jason Mewes as fast as possible so we didn't have to suffer through his "I'm going to take this acting gig seriously " phase. I love monster movies and this one was surprisingly good even though the PROJECT GREENLIGHT made it seem like the movie would be complete crap. So of course I was excited that two more FEASTs were being made. Boy was I stupid. Well, I guess according to most I still am.
FEAST 2 is vile. I mean it is completely putrid. I mean if you could take puke and string it into film and thread it through a film projector and project it onto a screen the result would be FEAST 2: SLOPPY SECONDS. The movie takes gross out humor and tries to shove it down your throat through your eyes until you gag and throw up too. About half way through this film you begin to realize that alot of scenes seem to go on forever. There is a five minute or more dream sequence about the dude who gets puked on in the first film. Its just him dancing around and getting all maggoty again. It doesn't do anything except pad out the film. Another scene has our characters gathered around a dead monster. For no reason this guy goes "We need to study it" and then for the next ten minutes he continually pokes and prods it. Each time the result is the dead thing pissing and squirting slime all over the cast. AND HE DOESN'T STOP! Of course none of them move either. Again its just padding. The movie never goes anywhere. You start to understand that the whole movie is a poor excuse for piss and poop jokes. Sigh.....
I kept expecting the movie to get better. I thought maybe I could enjoy the movie on some kind of stupid campy bad monster movie level but then the movie decided to suck all the fun out. I'm talking about the baby getting throw up in the air and landing on the pavement and while still barely alive gets eaten by the monster scene. I'm sorry but I was offended. You hear that? I WAS OFFENDED! That doesn't happen too often, folks. Now I am not going to go out and petition Washington to create more laws to prevent me from being offended by something I saw in the movies. I'm all for freedom. All I am saying is that it was cruel and unnecessary and it ruined the tone of the film. The movie lost the potential of being fun. After I saw that I not only lost interest in the movie but I hated it. You know the makers of this film thought the baby hitting the pavement would be the funniest thing since Larry the Cable Idiot. This movie too often rubs are noses into the cruelty. One of the more sympathetic characters (of course you know that means she is going to die as horribly as possible) is a grandma that is slowly being eaten away by monster bile. For some reason (which I can't remember because this movie sucks) they put her on a catapult ( I am not making this up) and shoot her across the street where she smashes into a wall and dies. Of course she doesn't die right away so we can see her suffer a little before she dies. That's funny?
FEAST part 2 threw out the smarter elements of FEAST part 1 and focused entirely on the toilet humor. The movie isn't fun. Its a boring unpleasant experience. Gulager shows us how important (sometimes) studio execs and producers are when it comes to wrangling in their director. Left on his own Gulager makes crap. His imagination is limited to the obscene and adolescent. His kind of imagination is easy to predict. I'll prove it. I haven't seen FEAST part 3 (just take my word for it, people) but I can already tell you what happens in it because of one scene involving a cat getting raped and immediately giving birth to a monster. Now how are they going to top that? I bet some poor woman gets raped in the third movie and gives birth to a monster too because that would be so "hilarious"! What a piece of crap. Here is something to consider. Gulager is directing the sequel to PIRANHA 3D. How do you think he is going to top the floating penis getting regurgitated and then consumed again by the piranhas scene? Its a scary thought, isn't it?
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Priests are vampire hunters that have somewhat super human powers to combat the undead. The vampires were defeated in some war by the Priests and placed into "reservations" for some reason. I guess the movie history is some kind of analogy with America's past with the Native Americans and putting them in reservations. How inappropriate. No longer useful the Priests are integrated back into society to lead normal boring lives just like in THE INCREDIBLES. Vampires buffalo through and kill Paul Bettany's brother and wife and steal their daughter. Though the Church will not allow Paul Bettany to go after her, he does. That's the bare bones synopsis of PRIEST 3D. I could go on into more detail but that would be too boring. I'm not writing the book.
The strengths of this film are in the acting and characters along with a simple fast paced story and unique look to the film. Bettany is excellent as the badass Priest, Carl Urban is a terrific somewhat scary villain, and Maggie Q is hot. These three characters give the film some weight keeping it from being just another mediocre film from the guy who did LEGION. I like the grey desert landscape. I like the fact that everyone dresses like its 1865. I love westerns. What can I say? I will say this. This isn't a movie made for 3D. The glasses make the film already darker than it needs to be. There are many scenes that take place in dark caves and crypts. Its hard to see what is going on in these scenes because of the glasses. The 3D is nothing more than a gimmick to trick people into seeing a movie that the studio has very little faith in. There is not one damn thing that "pops" out at you.
PRIEST 3D goes the HIGHLANDER route when it comes to explaining the rules of this universe. There is almost no explanation as to why the priests have super human abilities. They just do or they were trained really well or something. In other words its vague as hell. It perplexes me to no end as to why the Church would keep vampires on reservations. Why not kill the bastards? No one seems to question this logic. At first I figured the Church kept them around to bring them out as a way to control the people when they lose their faith like some kind of obvious cliched plot twist. But no they just figure a few guards will keep them in check. It doesn't make sense. It also doesn't make sense when Bettany tries to convince the Church that vampires are on the loose and they don't believe him. Why would they not believe him? Its totally plausible that vamps over powered the guards and escaped since THEY ARE FREAKIN VAMPIRES AND THEY DO THIS KIND OF CRAP ALL THE TIME! And another thing. Why not use the Priests as guards over the reservations instead of giving them remedial work that is below their skill level like garbage men and coal shovellers (the city runs on coal)? This movie doesn't make any sense at all! But I digress.
The biggest problem is the lack of impact the violence has on the audience. The movie seems to cut around the hits and punches. When someone gets punched I want to see the punch make contact quickly, not shake the camera and cut away before the hit lands. There should have been single shot takes of Bettany taking down bad guys quickly as if he were a six shot revolver being fired by the Man with No Name. PRIEST 3D feels a little unfocused. The movie rushes forward too quickly not allowing for the tenser moments to sink in. This is evident at the beginning where the Priests walk into a trap and have to escape quickly. Its an important scene since this moment sparks the conflict of two Priests that must eventually fight each other at the end. Good Priest vs. a vamped out bad Priest. Pretty cool. But the scene is done so fast its almost unnoticed. It just kind of happens in about three or four shots and then its done.
I think this movie is a little better than mediocre. I put it in the "Good Movie" column but I know this movie isn't going to impress many. I will say as a positive that for a PG-13 this movie is pretty violent. The beginning is told through animation that is extremely bloody. Cartoon people are torn in half with blood spray everywhere. Its pretty cool. They should have gone balls out and made the whole damn thing R. Gives us what we want not what 13 year olds want. What the heck would they know? They're 13! Its their fault that everything is in 3D nowadays. Morons.
Monday, May 16, 2011
The trailer for GODZILLA in the theater was everything you could hope that it would be. It showed tons of carnage without giving away what the monster looked like. I was going to see this sucker opening day. I had to. It was my destiny. Nothing was going to stop me and I was going to love it. There was alot of merchandise for it but I didn't want to see any of it. I wanted to see what Godzilla looked like for the first time on the big screen. But as chance would have it I accidentally saw some GODZILLA movie stickers in a store before the movie came out revealing to me in the smallest way what the monster looked like. I felt the expectation of seeing this movie deflate just a little inside me. I ignored the feeling and reassured myself that GODZILLA would rock my face off.
Finally after what felt like hundreds of years of waiting I saw GODZILLA on opening day. Wow! What a terrific, awesome, stupendous, mind blowing, hilarious, fun roller-coaster ride that movie was. I loved every single second of the two hour and something running time. Godzilla's new look was amazing. I liked that it could run fast and dodge missles and crap. The car ramping off Godzilla's feet was too awesome for words. They never did that in the old movies. I couldn't wait to talk to my friends about it.
They all hated it. In fact the whole damn movie bombed. Nobody liked it. They said it was just a rip-off of JURASSIC PARK and a boring one at that! They didn't get it. The general audience didn't understand GODZILLA. It was way over their heads. You have to love Godzilla movies to appreciate the new GODZILLA. I was it's one and only defender. Only I truly understood GODZILLA. Everyone was stupid but me. In time they too shall love it as much as I did. They just need to see it again on DVD.
Christmas morning I received my very own DVD of GODZILLA. Hoo-Hippin-Hurrah! I put the DVD in and..........I immediately became bored. WTF! I could not get into it to save my life. The characters were a bunch of made for t.v. nobodies that talked and talked and tal-Ooh, that one almost got stepped on but he didn't. Of course he didn't. That would be interesting. Why do we need a love story between two bland people in a Godzilla movie? Who freakin cares? And what was up with the way Godzilla looked? She looked like a giant green grandma hunched over skipping through the streets of New York with a wad of chewing tobacco in her mouth. F--K my life! The joke that Matthew Brodderick the smallest man alive versus an irradiated Iguana with methane breath was insulting. What happened to her radiation breath? Also how do you lose a lizard the size of Rhode Island in New York? GODZILLA was stupid and boring. How could I have two completely different reactions to the same film?
The answer was simple. Hype. I allowed myself to be swayed by all the toys posters and Taco Bell commercials. My Hardcore-Fanboy-Nerd-o Rage would not allow me to see GODZILLA as the craptastic toilet water that it was. This is when I discovered what being objective was in my opinions. Never again would I allow outside forces (except for maybe the devil) to define my opinion on whether a movie was good or not. I see people falling for the hype all the time. TRANSFORMERS anyone? There is no way to defend those movies yet so many people will fight to the death protecting them from scrutiny with maybe a small acknowledgement that the second one wasn't as good as the first. People love the explosions, car chases and hot young popular people. When I see TRANSFORMERS I see it as the movie itself, not the iconic nostalgia image that shaped a small part of my childhood. Guess what? It sucked. I like the old school (generation 1) cartoons and toys but I didn't like the movie. I love the old HULK t.v. show but I hated Ang Lee' THE HULK. I don't let the hype get me anymore. Don't let it get you. Be honest with yourself. If everyone was just honest with themselves then Michael Bay wouldn't have a job anymore. Then maybe our summer blockbusters would be a little more cerebral.
You like the way I used the word "cerebral" right there? Makes me look cerebral, don't ya think?
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
First off it's important to note that while zombies are prevalent throughout this film, CEMETERY MAN is not about zombies. The movie doesn't explain why they rise from the dead after seven days or how. There is no time spent trying to stop the zombies from taking over the world. The cast of the film isn't boarded up in a house fighting zombies and getting their faces eaten off one by one. No, CEMETERY MAN is about love. Now before you go off and dismiss this film as pretentious art house bull-hockey let me just say that CEMETERY MAN follows zombie film rule #1. Kill lots of zombies. It does do that so don't get too uptight, gorehounds. They are the "gotta shoot'em in the head" kind of zombies too. My favorite.
Francesco Dellamorte is a good enough guy. Just because his last name means death doesn't mean he is bad. Maybe he is a little boring. There isn't much to do when you live in a cemetery. He keeps things as tidy as possible with the help of his sidekick Gnaghi (that's how they spell it on IMDB) who is somewhat of a dimwit (but not really). When he isn't reading the phone book Francesco likes to keep the town safe from the undead that rise from the grave. He has one friend he talks to over the phone and a little old lady that visits the cemetery every day. But Francesco has a passion for love. He is a romantic that just happens to be a nice guy. So that is two strikes against him. Romantic and nice. Two things that are not appreciated by the woman folk nowadays. Believe me I know.
Now if you are a douche bag that gets the ladies, gets the fast cars and refers to himself as "the Situation" then you probably won't like CEMETERY MAN. This movie isn't for you. No, this movie is for those of us who have loved deeply and would do anything for the one we love only to have reality smack us down and stomp on our faces until we have become cold and bitter people. Francesco Dellamorte is a man who falls in love three times. Every single time love falls apart or isn't exactly what it seemed. Each woman is a different character but played by the same woman. I don't know why. Maybe it's because this film is pretentious art house bull-hockey. Francesco is the kind of guy that would do anything for love. The second girl that falls in love with him does so because she thinks he has no dick. That's the rumor that the towns people started. She is afraid of sex. So Francesco tries to get a doctor to cut his "you know what" off. At this point I in no way can relate to Francesco Dellamorte. A man has to know his limitations (MAGNUM FORCE) and getting my "Johnson" cut off is mine. What this shows though is how much he loves this woman. He would give up sex for her. The doctor is too squeamish and doesn't cut it off. Later she comes back to break up with Francesco because (and get this) her boss raped her and now she is in love with him. Kind of sick if you ask me. Francesco definitely dodged a bullet there. Next time maybe he won't be so melodramatic.
Francesco is a man caught in the middle. He can neither go up nor down. He is stuck tending to the dead. When love no longer works he resorts to violence and goes around shooting people in the head because apparently the Grim Reaper told him to. Basically Francesco is trying his best to destroy his life and escape his dead end job. Expecting to be thrown in jail, Francesco discovers that his only friend that he talks to on the phone took the blame for the murders after murdering his own family. With no other options Francesco leaves town with his sidekick Gnaghi (Seriously, folks. That's how they spell it IMDB). They drive as far as they can until they reach the abyss. There is nothing out there. There is no world to explore, no other life to live but the one he is living right now. For a lot of us that is so true. We are stuck in our dead end jobs forced to do the same thing over and over again with little hope of finding something better until we die. This is definitely a "the glass is half empty" kind of movie.
CEMETERY MAN is an early 90's film. It was made right before everything became CGI cartoons. The special effects are practical and amazing. The director, Michele Soavi, has a great eye for detail. His shots are beautifully framed turning a cemetery into a macabre wonderland of stone angels and tombstones. The whole damn movie looks like a dream. CEMETERY MAN is a movie no one has ever made before. It's totally original. The horror, the fantasy and the comedy blend together nicely to form a unique tone to the film. Its a little dark at times but not too dark. The fantasy element keeps the bloody violence from dominating the tone. Its ugly but its also funny. You don't take it seriously. It's okay to laugh when that nun gets shot in the face.
I would dare say that this is the second best zombie film ever made. Only the original DAWN OF THE DEAD is better in my eyes but barely. CEMETERY MAN is a fun watch. It is one of those films that can open your mind to what can be done in a movie. It forces you to think outside the box. Not every zombie movie has to be about the zombies and how to deal with them or how to go from point "A" to point "B" through hordes of flesh eaters. The zombies are a bonus. There are different ways to interpret this film. I have no idea what the meaning is behind most of the stuff that happens in this movie. The ending especially is a little head scratching but its one of the best endings ever to a film. I just happen to see a lot of myself in this film (not the homicidal parts of course). Maybe you do too. Hopefully you don't. Check it out and see for yourself. Love is not certain, death is.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
While I did like the Thomas Jane PUNISHER it had way too many faults to really satisfy me. The Dolph Lundgren PUNISHER had the badass action that was way ahead of its time but very little of the film and it's main character resembled the comics. The Death Skull the symbol of punishment that branded the Punisher's chest was reduced to a small tiny unimpressive silver skull that tipped the handles of hundreds of knives the Punisher carried. Oh, and lets not forget motorcycle riding down sewer tunnels! Show more of that please!
When they announced a sequel and that Thomas Jane wasn't going to do it I knew the next Punisher film would be poop-tastic. Who in the world could play the Punisher and not look totally stupid? When I finally saw the trailer though I thought that the film looked interesting. I started getting really excited. I bought all THE PUNISHER MAX hardcover editions to catch up and see if the film followed the comics. I made sure to force my expectations to remain low. You want to know how nerdy I am? The day before I went and saw the film in theaters I actually had a dream that I was watching PWZ in the theater and I said to myself I can't watch this yet so I watched the floor instead. The only other time I have ever done that is right before I saw INGLORIOUS BASTARDS. Finally I saw the damn movie. I couldn't believe it. They finally did it right. I can die a happy man. Now for most of you I figure you probably thought that this was an okay dumb action film that had some good moments in it. Let me try my best to explain how this film is truly an artistic triumph and one of the best badass films ever made.
I don't think most people get what PWZ is. Its a comic book movie. General audience members see it as a realistic action film that gets way too corny with its extreme violence and over the top characters. Bad guys having chairs smashed through their faces, heads bursting apart from gunfire, or that parcore guy getting exploded in mid air from a rocket is not realistic. People think they are smart for knowing this so they say the film is stupid for such unrealism. Is unrealism a word? Whatever. It is now. But this stuff happens all the time in the comics. So of course you are going to see over the top things happen in the comic book movie. People have a hard time understanding that unless the heroes have super powers. Then its okay.
You can see that there was a lot of thought put into the visuals of the movie. Film is art. The reason why PWZ is an artistic triumph is because it balances reality and the comic book world perfectly. Notice how colorful the film is. Scenes are saturated in colors. One scene will be all red, and the next everything is bathed in yellow lights. Down in the Punisher hideout everything is colored blue. Why is that? When you look through the first few comics of the Punisher Max series you will notice the comics look exactly like the movie. The color scheme of the comics matches perfectly with the film without it being obvious like 300 or SIN CITY. I thought that was kind of neat. The comic book is pretty much the story boards for the movie.
PUNISHER WAR ZONE avoids a couple of cliches that come standard in tough guy action movies. First there is no car chase in PWZ. Almost every single American action movie ever made has a car chase. Car chases are filler. Rarely are they exciting and they serve no purpose but to add another "action" scene to the picture because that is what the audience likes. PWZ is a tightly told story with no time for a car chase. The car chases have been replaced with shoot outs which are real action scenes. Also, where are the boobs? As far as I can tell there are no naked chicks anywhere in PWZ. I kind of like that. Usually I don't but this time I will allow it. There isn't that scene where two bad guys are talking in a strip club and some stripper is in the back doing her thing to boost the R rating which they did all the time in the eighties. The Punisher doesn't fight some big dude in a hotel and throws him through a wall into the next room and startles some couple that was having sex and the woman jumps up briefly to flash her boobs before going back under the covers. You won't find any of that here. PWZ doesn't rely on such absurdity. That's probably because this movie was directed by a woman. That's pretty cool if you ask me. You better ask me!
Ray Stevenson is the Punisher. If they ever do another one he needs to reprise the role. He is a terrific actor that brings the character to life without being too over the top. The Punisher in the comics kills his old friend Micro for helping the CIA deal drugs even though they were kind of doing it to go after Bin Laden. Comic book Punisher is zero tolerance all the way. Somehow I don't think Ray's version would do the same. The movie version is a little more believable. Again the movie balances the character from the comic with real life perfectly. Also I really liked Jigsaw in this movie. Finally we get to see Punisher's arch nemesis with the jacked up face made of stitches. While Jigsaw is nothing like the character from the comics I did like how well rounded he was as a character. Well rounded like a butt hole. Nah, I'm just messin with ya. He is a good villain that is motivated by revenge for being thrown into a glass recycler by the Punisher. That Punisher can be a real jerk sometimes. He is way over the top in this movie but he isn't campy or stupid. He is somebody to be feared. That's kind of a hard thing to do in comic book movies. He is kind of similar to the Joker in the Tim Burton Batman movie. Funny but deadly too.
This is a great movie that tells a story and ends it. They don't keep Jigsaw alive to show up in a later sequel. They kill his ass dead. Its also not another origin story. We don't see the Punisher's family life which would slow the film down. But the movie has it's fair share of shenanigans. I mean Jigsaw is cut to pieces in a glass recycler and the next time we see him (which could only be a few days not more) he is getting his bandages already taken off. That's a little too quick to heal if you ask me. It probably would take months of physical therapy just to learn how to walk again. Poor guy probably doesn't even have his balls anymore. But its no big deal. I can forgive the film for wanting to keep the quick pace of the story going. There is a rather large plot hole at the end concerning the Russian mob showing up and shooting the place up. The movie doesn't show who survived the aftermath. I would have liked to have seen like one guy survive all that and then get a chair shoved through his face by the Punisher just to let the guy know that it would have been better to have not survived at all.
PUNISHER WAR ZONE is a better movie than I think most give it credit for. Its not a dumbed down action movie where everything is exploding all the time and if the Punisher doesn't succeed everyone gets blown up. In fact I think it was Jigsaw that stopped everyone from getting blown up. That's interesting. There is a lot of action in this movie and none of it is filmed in BOURNE IDENTITY shaky cam. The characters are all interesting and overall you will not be bored unlike how you are now reading this crap. Enjoy.
I still don't get what was up with that fat guy in the elevator.