Monday, September 19, 2011


Directing action movies is a lot like playing with your G.I. Joes back in the day.  Now the way you played with your Joes was the right way to play G.I. Joes.  But the way your friend played with his Joes was the wrong way.  We all play G.I. Joes differently is all I am saying.  I do believe however that the way John Woo played G.I. Joes was the way I played with my G.I. Joes.  His "bullet ballet" style with slow-mo at just the right moments reminds me a lot of how I played with Joes.  I can't tell you how many times I had Snake Eyes jump over an explosion firing two guns and eliminating a bunker full of Cobra Vipers in slow-mo.  If you were to construct a list of the top ten greatest shoot'em ups five of those slots would have to be filled with John Woo films.  The number one spot has to go to HARD BOILED.  There will never be another film that reaches the pinnacle of chaos and emotion that HARD BOILED delivers.  Its not about explosions or car chases and big name A-List stars.  Its about directing style and character driven story lines.

HARD BOILED is a story about two detectives working on opposite sides of the law trying to bring down a big time arms dealer by the name of Johnny Wong.  He has a hidden base somewhere and these two are trying to find it.  Tequila (Chow Yun-Fat) is a detective always at odds with his hot headed superior as the investigation into Johnny Wong's activities escalate into violence.  What Tequila doesn't realize is that his police chief is trying to prevent Tequila from interrupting his undercover agent Tony (Tony Leung) who is working his way up the gangster ladder.  Undercover cops are so deep that they end up getting shot by the police themselves.  The cops have no idea that they are undercover.  The two eventually team up and take the baddies down in glorious shoot'em up fashion.

Inspector 'Tequila' Yun is a great character.  He is a smart ass highly driven cop that will stop at nothing to get his man.  But the soul of this film comes from the drama of Tony.  Tony has to do bad things to get the job done.  The gangsters think he is legit because they can call on him to go out and actually kill someone.  With the exception of the police chief Tony has no allies.  The gangsters or the cops could get him at any time.  What is really interesting is his relationship with his Triad boss, Mr. Hoi.  Hoi is a bad guy but Tony knows him as the person and finds him to be a man of great respect.  His only real crime is trafficking illegal weapons.  That's not so bad is it?  Knowing that Mr. Hoi's end is near Tony tries to get him to retire early but to no avail.  Eventually in order to move close to Johnny Wong, Tony must betray Hoi and kill him.  There is a great scene where Johnny gives Tony a gun to kill Hoi.  At first Tony tries to save Hoi's other men but realizes that he has to go all the way to make a good impression.  So he guns them all down.  You want to see some excellent acting?  Look at Tony's face as he just murdered a bunch of his fellow friends and he must hold back his tears in front of Johnny Wong.  Its good stuff.

John Woo's action scenes are highly detailed down to the point of how actors hold their guns.  Its surprising how some actors don't even know how to carry a gun and look cool holding it.  HARD BOILED pushes the  limits.  People get shot up big time with tons of "Kool-Aid" shooting out of their bodies.  Half way through the film there is a huge gun battle in a warehouse that would usually serve as the climax in most action films but this is only the beginning.  Later on there is one long eight minute (or longer) take of Tequila and Tony shooting up a bunch of baddies in a hospital.  There are squibs and explosions and an elevator ride to a floor above all done in one shot.  They probably killed like thirty bad guys (and one good cop.  Whoops!) in that eight minute take.  Its something I had never seen before.  Who would even try something like that today?  Certainly no one in America.  The closest I have seen was in THE PROTECTOR where Tony Jaa runs up a bunch of stairs beating the crapola out of like thirty guys.  Its close but not better.

There are a lot of action directors who didn't play with their Joes the right way.  (Isaac Florentine is an exception)  A great action director makes his stars look badass.  You can't just have Jean Claude Van Damnme and some cheesy camera editing effects to make a great action movie.  (In the case of Steven Segal it would be lots of heavy shadows and heavier body doubles)  You need lots of well filmed action that pushes the story forward.  Every bad guy killed means less bad guys to deal with later.  Don't complicate the story with a bunch of conspiracy crap.  No one cares.  Characters must drive the story not plot points and twists.  John Woo is the master of effective drama and over the top action.  Its the perfect combination of the two that makes him the greatest action director of all time.  Also I just want to point out that there are no pointless car chases in HARD BOILED.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

CREATURE (2011) Not really a creature feature. More like a tasteless episode of HEE-HAW!

CREATURE is a film that I was rooting for.  I love a good monster movie.  Actually they are my favorite kind of horror movie.  The movie bombed big time and I realized that it was up to me to let everyone know how awesome this movie was.  I figured that because the movie wasn't in 3D that people decided what's the point.  I knew in my heart of hearts that this was going to be a good one.  People just didn't understand.  Well people, you were right.  CREATURE sucked.  The kills are weak, the editing is confusing and overall the whole movie is hard to follow and just plain doesn't make any sense.  Worst of all it really isn't a creature feature.

The story revolves around six twenty somethings driving through Louisiana going somewhere from some place.  The movie doesn't explain any of that.  Some of them are couples and others are brothers and sisters.  Don't ask me which ones are which because the movie confused me as to what their relationships were to each other.  The group of good looking people stop at the local hillbilly convenience store where they learn about Lock-Jaw or Gator-Face or whatever they call the monster.  I forget.  The film had a hard time keeping my attention.  I am just going to call him Creature.  So our heroes decide to check out the house the monster lived in back in the olden days.  Little do they know that the locals have plans of their own.  Not nice plans I assure you.  In fact they are rather gross plans.

This is why CREATURE isn't really a creature feature.  We learn that Creature was a man who was going to marry his sister (because that is what hillbillies do according to the movies) but she gets eaten by an albino alligator so he eats the alligator and magically becomes Creature.  And he can live forever apparently because that stuff happened probably a hundred years ago or so.  That is probably the worst story I have ever heard.  The male hillbillies lure their female hillbillies into the swamp every so often to get "banged" by Creature for some reason.  Apparently they worship him as their god and he gives them stuff or something.  The movie doesn't explain.  Maybe if I worship Bigfoot he will give me a new xbox.  You see CREATURE is more like WRONG TURN or THE HILLS HAVE EYES or something.  These kinds of movies always try to shock the audience with rape and incest.  I like my monster movies to keep the sex out of it please.  Its unnecessary and gross.  Nowadays that kind of subject matter is always included in backwoods horror movies.  Its nothing new or shocking.  This movie even has a scene where a girl is tied to a chair.  Haven't seen that before!  Sid Haig cuts her foot off for some reason.  Guess what.  The movie doesn't explain that either.  At first I thought it had to do with the girl at the beginning of the movie who gets her legs eaten off by a random gator.  Maybe Creature needs the feet off for some bizarre reason but no, it has nothing to do with anything in this film.  It is just something the writers wrote to make the scene more disturbing.  All it did was make the whole scene more stupid.

The editing is wonked.  There is a lot of questionable cuts in this film.  One of the best examples is near the end when Eggs from THE TRUE BLOOD is running in between a crowd of hillbillies trying to save his girlfriend when all of the sudden he is hit to the ground by Creature.  Where did he come from?  He just magically appears in the middle of a crowd of "hill people" who may or may not be afraid of Creature.  Also I get the impression that Creature is everywhere all at once.  One scene he is eating some local and the next he is already watching the kids make camp far away with not much time passing.  He travels fast is all I am saying.  I think most of the forgettable kills are done off screen.  The film seems to cut around them not giving us much to look at.

There is so much about this movie that doesn't make sense.  The first scene in the movie is a young woman taking off her clothes and swimming in the swamp.  Who would swim in a swamp?  Obviously she gets her legs eaten by a gator.  She was wearing a necklace that is later put on the female victims for some reason.  This nameless character has nothing to do with the rest of this movie yet the film insinuates that there was some purpose for her with the appearance of the necklace.  Two of the locals are killed by the monster giving me the impression that this thing is a mindless killing machine.  Later the locals have some weird pointless ceremony preparing the last girl for big time monster rape (why didn't they do this for the other girls) and the monster is with them like its no big deal.  Also I think maybe the locals are suppose to be inbred from Creature but none of them have gator-like attributes.  Since this thing is banging chicks to preserve some kind of hillbilly race shouldn't there be more gator people.  I actually thought at one point maybe the reason the monster was in so many places seemingly at once was because there was more than one but nope there is just the one.

My message to all you horror film makers out there is to keep the rape and incest aspects of horror out of your movies.  It isn't shocking anymore.  It just makes your films unpleasant and predictable.  We need more creature features and less homages to HEE-HAW.  Sid Haig isn't the presence here as he is in HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES.  He does what he can but the film never properly uses him.  Overall CREATURE is a slow film that really isn't much of anything at all.  Sad.  Since the film deals with monster banging can you guess what the last shot of the film is?  CREATURE is that obvious.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011


ATTACK THE BLOCK is an amazing film to say the least.  The movie speeds quickly through its story never stopping to get bogged down with the usual slow scenes of obvious character development.  The monsters are menacing and are extremely violent.  A movie like this if made in the U.S.A. would easily be watered down to a PG-13 rating ignoring all the elements that make this movie great.  A.T.B. is a violent but fun film.  While it was made in the nowadays it feels more like a backinthedays kind of film.  That is because the film puts people and location first and C.G.I. second.  There isn't any large scale car chases with giant C.G.I. aliens busting through huge skyscrapers made from computer wizardry to awe the casual film goer.    This movie's strengths are the characters and how they grow through the night's terrifying experiences.  This movie asks the question "What if the Goonies fought aliens and some of them died?" 

So one of the first things we see in ATTACK THE BLOCK is our lead hero, Moses, mug a young woman.  She is really scared and nothing is played light hearted.  Moses and his crew of young street thugs are incredibly horrible selfish people.  Then a meteor hits a nearby car and Moses is attacked by an alien.  He and his street thug friends kill the ugly thing and take it to their drug dealer friend Nick Frost.  No, I don't remember the characters name.  Let's move on.  There Moses meets Nick's boss, HI-Hatz.  HI-Hatz makes Moses a drug dealer right then and there.  This is another reason this movie is so awesome.  ATB starts off kind of like a drama about a young boy in the city rising through the ranks of organized crime until one day he becomes his own Scarface.  Too bad those awful aliens show up and change this film from crime drama to sci-fi adventure horror.  Moses is an interesting character.  He is strong.  He is a leader.  He is young but he has the eyes of a man who has seen the worst.  It is his gradual change (along with the others in his crew) from selfish to selfless that drives this film from good to great.  When more meteors show up the kids think that they can just go out and kill more aliens.  The first one was small and easy enough to dispense with.  They soon realize that the new aliens are bigger and more aggressive.  So they spend the rest of the movie running for their lives.

Unlike SKYLINE these aliens are easy to make not alive anymore.  Sometimes its almost too easy.  Other times not.  Basically the extraterrestrials are big gorilla bear wolf things with blacker than black fur and glow in the dark teeth.  They can be very scary sometimes.  The kids themselves are indistinguishable at first but as the movie moves on you start to get to know them more.  At first you hate them for being thugs but then they start to grow on you and they make you laugh. It kind of sucks when one of them dies.  Yeah, that's right.  They have a tendency to die and it can be somewhat of a bloody affair. 

This movie kind of reminds me of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK in one respect.  In the eighties films from time to time would show things that were a little out of bounds with their rating.  Sometimes it was a small amount of nudity in a PG film or like in the case of RAIDERS people's faces melting gruesomely right before your eyes.  It's kind of disturbing and almost out of place especially for a PG (Maybe PG-13) film.  Even though ATTACK THE BLOCK is a solid R the death of HI-Hatz is particularly disturbing.  It almost too cruel for this film.  BUT IT IS SO AWESOME!  See it for yourselves folks. 

This is not a politically correct film and it doesn't insult the audience.  ATTACK THE BLOCK is a unique watching experience that isn't as predictable as all the other science fiction mainstream movies out there.  It is fast paced.  There really aren't any scenes where they kind of just sit down and talk about their dreams and aspirations so that we know that it is okay to like these people because they are human. There isn't a scene of a main character video chatting on a laptop to his wife and baby daughter to draw us in to root for his survival.  "Oh, no that soldier has a wife and kid.  I hope he doesn't die."  This movie says "F" all that.  The actions of the youth in this film is the character development.  That is how it should be in most films.  Complex feelings can be expressed with a simple look.  You either figure it out or you like TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE. 


Sunday, September 4, 2011

SKYLINE: The REAR WINDOW of Alien Invasion Flicks?

I remember seeing the trailer for SKYLINE in the theater and thinking how cool it looked.  I love alien invasion movies and this one looked like the granddaddy of them all.  I couldn't wait to see it.  But one week before it opened I found out that the Strause Brothers directed it.  Instantly I became disinterested.  To hell with those guys.  They completely screwed up the ALIENS VS. PREDATOR movie and I wasn't going to give them any of my hard earned monies.  I was going to wait five years until SKYLINE made it's SyFy Channel debut.  But if you know me well enough you know one of my most dominate character traits is that I am a huge hypocrite.  No, I did not spend the ten buck-a-roos to see this in the theater.  I spent 22 monies on the blu-ray the first day it came out.  I was bored, okay?

I was expecting epic fail throughout SKYLINE but instead I found this movie to be pretty good.  It's basically about a bunch of hipsters sitting in their apartment watching the world get taken over by aliens.  If you wanted to be bold you could say that this movie was kind-of-sort-of Hitchcockian.  SKYLINE is the REAR WINDOW of alien invasion flicks.  But I am not saying that.  You are.  The movie never really goes anywhere and they have a really stupid plan to escape the aliens.  They try to get to the ocean because the large alien ship hovering over the city isn't over the ocean so that means the ocean is safe.  What?  I can't tell if the movie is being dumb on purpose or not.  I kind of want to give the directors the benefit of the doubt but then I remember that these guys made AVP-R.  I still couldn't help but like this movie.  I like B-Movies and it seems to me that this is what the makers set out to make.  They made a big budgeted B-Movie.  I like the tentacle aliens, and the giant aliens that suck people up into their claws.  I like that they came to earth to harvest peoples brains.  That is so epic.  I enjoyed these elements.  I like that the movie ended on a positive note too.  The characters are fine.  They didn't bother me even if they tend to be stupid.  Hey, I'm stupid too so I can relate.  If an alien invasion happened right now I would probably be the first to have my delicious brain sucked out.  But this movie has it's problems.  And since I am such a negative ninny I want to talk about those.  Shall we?

First off aliens that don't die when you shoot them are no fun.  Nothing sucks more in an alien movie when the aliens don't obey the rules of being dead.  Just because you are a highly evolved race with lasers and awesome flying thingys doesn't mean you can cheat death.  In SKYLINE aliens get chopped up, shot, blown up and nuked and they just get right back up as if nothing happened.  The same darn thing happens to me on CALL OF DUTY.  I shoot a guy in the back and he just turns around and shoots me in the face.  What am I shooting?  TIC-TACS!?!  Am I just running around with extremely expensive Pez Dispensers?  To hell with that game.  Anyhoo, a good alien movie should have a high alien body count too.  It makes the movie more badass.

The previews made a big freakin deal about the big blue light capturing people.  These massive ships open up and this blue light is beamed down and all these things are floating in it and then the camera zooms in and you can see that the things are people.  Its a cool image in the preview but I don't think they use it in the movie.  If they do it isn't show with the same impact that the trailer left you with.  Its a moment that should be a more memorable than what it is.  In fact if it wasn't for the poster I wouldn't have remembered that moment in the film since it happens at the beginning only.  So much happens from that moment to the end that it can be easily forgotten.

All these alien movies look the same, don't they?  TRANSFORMERS 1,2,3, SKYLINE, COWBOYS & ALIENS, BATTLEFIELD: LOS ANGELES, and soon BATTLESHIP THE BOARD GAME: THE MOVIE all kind of look the same with their elaborate metallic alien ship designs and heavy C.G.I. special effects.  They all look like they were filmed by the same director too.  There are giant ships in the sky,  cities destroyed, quick flying smaller ships, and so on.  I think the same FX guys who made SKYLINE did the effects for BATTLEFIELD too.  Maybe I am getting too old but these movies kind of blur together like hip hop videos.  They all look the same.

I enjoyed SKYLINE.  It does get a little boring in the middle due to the fact that the movie doesn't go anywhere.  The movie struggles to get things moving along sometimes but it's still good.  Look at the all the WAR OF THE WORLD movies.  They are all pretty much plot less too.  That is a story about people standing around getting blasted by aliens because humans lack the technology to defeat them.  That first WAR OF THE WORLDS movie is great.  So I am giving SKYLINE a break.  I am not going to say it's dumb even though it's dumb. 


Saturday, September 3, 2011

THE FEED, tries hard.....Too hard.

THE FEED is a concept film that tries to recreate the experience of watching a paranormal investigation show that is filming their investigation live in a haunted movie theater on Halloween night.  Basically its GHOST HUNTERS the movie.  Just like GHOST HUNTERS and GHOST ADVENTURES, GHOST CHASERS are a group of plain looking white people who get more than they bargained.  Let's just say that they get more than a couple of orbs on film and indiscernible fuzzy E.V.P.'s.  Oh, hey did you know that E.V.P.'s are electronic voice phenomenon?  Thanks every show that has the word "GHOST" or "PARANORMAL" in the title.

THE FEED doesn't have a story.  There is no mystery to solve or plot about escaping an inescapable scenario.  No, this movie is about the experience.  You have to stretch your imagination to the point that you believe that what you are watching is happening live before your very eyes.  That is a big stretch.  You might as well start believing in flying Luck Dragons.  The reason being is that in no way shape or form could anything like this happen.  Shouldn't there be like 30 second delays to make sure nothing bad would go across the feed?  I don't know too much about cameras or technology but are the small handheld camera's the team are using ill equipped in real life to broadcast live?  I'm pretty sure they need more professional cameras.  But what do I know?  At any time our victims could leave right out the front door.  The ending is perplexing.  Instead of going "OMG!  Ghosts are attacking us!  Let's get the heck out of here!"  they say "Go down into the basement to turn on the lights so we can get killed in a believable fashion".  The last guy alive realizes he is all alone.  But instead of going out the front doors next to him he runs down the theater toward the back where he interrupts all these ghosts that are watching some old movie and gets his ass ate!

I like movies like this and I was trying to like this film as hard as this film was trying to create a realistic but spooky atmosphere.  The problem is that the movie tries too hard at the beginning to be realistic.  Apparently in order to be really realistic you have to be really boring.  Near the beginning of THE FEED the leader of the cast shows an "excerpt" from a documentary about the theater that they are investigating.  They say excerpt but I swear they play the whole fake documentary to pad out time.  Its boring and literally has nothing to do with what is going on in that theater.  The documentary fills us in on information that is repeated over and over again throughout the film making the documentary portion of the film poorly acted filler.  Since THE FEED is about watching t.v. we get to see commercials in our movie too.  They aren't real commercials but they aren't funny either.  They are meant to be taken as real.  At first I thought this was kind of a cool idea and it does play into the spookiness of the film when the commercial break is prematurely interrupted for no explainable reason.  But then I thought to myself "Isn't the whole reason I buy DVDs is to not have commercials in my movies?"  Screw you, THE FEED!  The commercial breaks get in the way.  Again they seem more like padding to draw out film's run time.

You know all those people who hate the BLAIR WITCH PROJECT or PARANORMAL  ACTIVITY because they don't show much?  Well maybe they would like THE FEED.  This movie shows everything.  THE FEED is a great example as to why you don't show the ghosts.  They don't look real.  The moment you see the first ghost you immediately lose your belief in what is happening.  The GHOST CHASERS capture a residual haunting of a woman falling down some stairs.  The effects are poor and laughable.  Its a bad actress green screened onto a freeze frame photo of a stairwell.  Its bad and it sets the "I can't take any of this seriously" tone for the rest of the film.  For a low budget movie THE FEED is pretty heavy on the special effects at the end.  At the end they encounter a spider chick ghost thing in the attic of the theater just as the GHOST CHASERS only female member is somewhere else getting pulled by an invisible force into a room.  Yea, they do the whole "PARANORMAL ACTIVITY being pulled from the bed by an invisible demon" gag.  The spider lady looks fake and they make sure to get the camera right in her face so we can see the horrible special effects. 

I don't know if these ghosts have anything to do with the history of the theater.  The fake documentary shows the original theater owner as a wonderful guy who loves children but the GHOST CHASERS with the help of a psychic discover (Oh, I guess there is some mystery to be solved.  My bad.) that he was a pedophile.  He burns up in a fire that happened at the theater.  So maybe he is a ghost.  But then this family is murdered in the basement.  Who killed them?  His ghost?  The spider lady ghost?  Who is she?  I'm confused.  I am not sure what the movie is trying to say about who the ghosts are.  I need to watch this movie again to see if I missed something.  Yea, like that is going to happen.

Actually there are a few confusing moments in THE FEED.  At one point the GHOST CHASERS are split into two groups.  As they are investigating the theater they both try to open a door.  They don't know that the other group is on the other side of this door.  They keep trying to open it but they stop because they keep hearing something not knowing it is only the other group on the other side of the door.  This is a weird moment in the film because it goes nowhere and they kind of walk away or something happens to take their attention away from the door.  I don't recall but the way this moment is handled just left me questioning if there was any point to what just happened.  Was it for the sake of comedy?  Where they really on opposite sides of that door?  Is there some spooky significance to the door?  Later the door opens and pulls the girl inside.  Also there is a tech guy that is outside monitoring the events in the theater who adds music and sound effects to dramatize the show.  He tries to save the last guy at the end by going all the way to the back of the theater and reaching his hand out over a fence as the last guy opens the door and tries to escape.  Why didn't he just go through the front doors the second the bad stuff started to happen?  I think his van is parked outside the front doors.  This whole movie doesn't make any sense.  The fact that this theater is in the middle of a town and not in the middle of nowhere where help can't be reached just makes everyone look really stupid for dying.

THE FEED isn't scary, creepy or frightful.  There are too many special effects and none of them work.  This movie needed to embrace its low budget instead of being bigger than it's means.  I liked what they were going for but it just didn't work this time.  Have you ever noticed with shows like GHOST HUNTERS that not much happens?  It's just people walking around filmed in nightvision with blank expressionless faces. THE FEED is basically the same with more holes in the concept.  Now enough about THE FEED.  Let's talk about my awesome idea for a ghost investigating show.  My idea is to have a show about a group of twenty somethings led by a couple of late thirty somethings who look for ghosts in old or historic homes, prisons or other things that have ghosts in them.  Here is where my show is different from all the others.  When they see a ghost they have to "get" them.  That's it.  Just "get" them.  That is their whole plan.  Just "get" them.  It will be called THE GHOST GETTERERS!  What do you think?...................................Yea?  Well, who asked you?