Monday, February 27, 2017

Bill Paxton dies at 61

On Saturday, February 25, 2017, Hollywood and the whole world lost a phenomenal talent and an awesome human being in Bill Paxton. As anyone reading this probably knows, Paxton starred in blockbusters like Aliens, Twister, and Titanic, with credits in more than 80 roles over his career.

RIP Bill. As long as you're in our hearts, it will never be game over, man. Never.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

The book is ALWAYS better!



So unless you're not living on planet Earth, I'm going to go ahead and count you in with the 6 billion people that line up every summer to see whatever new Will Smith movie Hollywood just crapped out. Several years ago you might remember one he slept through called I Am Legend, a brutal rape-fest of the classic novel by Richard Matheson. Now, I don't want to be one of those liberal arts douche bags in skinny jeans, sipping my double-foam low fat grande carmel machiatto and telling you how the book was, like, soooo much better than the movie....but I don't drink coffee so I guess it's okay, and even hipsters don't read anymore.

Anyway, I know the last thing most people want is a book when they're looking at movie reviews, but in this case I figured I'd try to expand a few minds. I don't care if you're as illiterate as a deaf guy with an audio book, reading ANYTHING is less painful that two hours of Will Smith.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Punishment never felt so good!

Punisher Poster 2

This ain’t your emo cousin’s 2004 Punisher.  Punisher War Zone is the 2008 reboot of the franchise featuring the blood-soaked adventures of everyone’s favorite black clad vigilante, Frank Castle a.k.a. the Punisher.

This time, Ray Stevenson of Rome on HBO steps up to the plate to show us what Frank can do with a grudge, a couple of machine guns, and a shitload of ammunition.  Stevenson attacks the role with both barrels blazing as the film opens to the skull taking out not only a ruthless mob boss, but the guy’s friends, family, and a couple of cannon fodder henchmen to boot.  The action kicks off hard, fast, and brutal and leads us into the emotional, gritty underside of the vigilante’s bullet-proof vest.  Frank makes a terrible mistake killing an undercover FBI agent in a raid on a criminal’s hideout.  Unable to cope with the grief, he hangs up his guns and apparently decides to sit back and watch the world tear itself apart.  A horrifically scarred victim of punishment, however, refuses to make it that easy.  Billy Russoti, disfigured by Castle, resurfaces under a new name – disclaimer: Punisher fans hold your dicks so they don’t explode – JIGSAW!  That’s right, no John Travolta here.  Frank Castle’s recurring nemesis from the comics is finally brought to life on screen.  Played by Dominic West of HBO’s The Wire, Jigsaw despises Castle with almost sadistic glee.  Granted, West lays it on pretty thick with a hearty slice of cheese here and there, his performance could almost be on par with Jack Nicholson’s Joker.  Thrown into the mix is a rather eclectic and effective cast including Julie Benz as the grieving widower of the fallen FBI agent, Dash Mihok as a bumbling Soap, Doug Hutchinson as a Hannibalesque Looney Bin Jim.  Two stand above the rest, however.  Wayne Night, Newman from Seinfeld, plays an amazing Micro, though less of a tech nerd and generally more of an armorer, Night’s Micro is Frank’s guide and compass, trying to keep him on his mission when things look their darkest.  Finally, Colin Salmon plays a gritty, tough, and determined Budiansky and you really wish he got just a bit more action time in the film, because he jumps into the character with so much gusto it’s almost hard to believe he hadn’t been cast before.

While there are one or two slow parts, the whole affair builds to an amazingly destructive crescendo in which the Punisher shows everybody what he’s truly all about.  Comic fans will find much to love – and bitch about – with this installment, but love it or hate it, it is NOT to be missed.

Let the punishment begin.

Punisher War Zone Poster

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My First Classic Pick - Leaving Las Vegas


For this post I'd like to break the routine a bit and do something that I hope might become a regular thing. That is giving one of my classic picks every now and then. It's something I meant to do from the beginning, and I figure now is as good a time as any to give it a go. My pick for this week, you ask?

In the 90's, a writer named John O'Brien penned a very haunting novel about alcoholism called Leaving Las Vegas. It was a very poignant look into the seemingly hopeless lives of a drunk in L.A. and a hooker in Vegas. Years later a film was made that brought much needed attention to this desperate narrative. John O'brien, an alcoholic himself, had already taken his own life by this time. And such is the movie I urge everyone to see this week. It premiered in 1995, quite a while ago, but the movie is as timeless as anything I've ever seen. Hell, by today's standards it's almost nostalgic.

It stars the lovely Elizabeth Shue and Nicolas Cage in perhaps the finest role he's ever done. After seeing a movie this powerful, I can only dare you not to find the book and devour it ravenously. Some people will no doubt be unable to "get" the film, as is so often stated by cheerleaders and fans of Saturday night football, but oh well. I can only tell you that this movie takes you deep into the shadows of the human condition and it is worth every moment. It's been on Starz! lately, if you've got the channel, and it can be found most anywhere. So if you haven't seen it, check it out.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Maximum Pain, Minimum Action. Gotta keep it PG. Ya know, for the kids.

Ooh, ominous.

So today I'm going to tell you about a time long ago during the neonate days of the Playstation 2 when a game called Max Payne came out. It was a game so vivid and dark and noir that even a rabid critic like myself found enjoyment in the narrative and it's bleak storyline. Since then there have been so many bad videos games, bad movies, bad movies based on video games and vice versa that I've just about give up. For some people, Max Payne probably pushed them over that line, but it actually kept me right on it. See, for all the problems it had, I personally think it was a pretty well made film. Maybe not well executed, definitely not well written, but nonetheless the creators really made the city come to life.

If you don't know, Max Payne is the story of an NYPD cop whose family is murdered by a group of junkies off their rockers on a new street drug called Valkyr. He transfers to the DEA, and hilarity ensues. Kidding. The story overall is gritty and bleak and drenched in violence. At least, in the video game. The movie, however, is a bit of a different story. It follows only the most very basic plot of the game and even then changes up the story quite a bit, but I doubt you care about that. The question is, does it deliver? Does it deliver Mila Kunis looking good with a submachine gun? For a couple of seconds, yeah. Does it deliver Olga Kurlyenko and some John Woo style action scenes? For a few seconds, sure. Does it deliver a gripping story with fast pacing and edge of your seat action? For about 80 minutes, no. As an action movie, as a cop movie, Max Payne mostly falls short. However, the cinematography is nice to look at and it's got a few nice guns. And Mila Kunis. I mentioned her, right?

Really, the biggest problem I had was the casting of Mark Wahlberg. He might look like a good Max Payne if you're one of the three blind mice, but even if he was a dead ringer, watching the guy act is a task all it's own. It wouldn't be so hard if he didn't think he was just so damn cool, but if that happened, well, Paris Hilton might not actually be a slut, and I think we all know the chances of that.

Um, no.

Look, I'm not gonna advise or discourage this one either way. If you're a fan of anything I've mentioned, check it out. Otherwise, let one of your idiot friends tell you all about it since you probably hang out with the kind of douche bags that just love mediocre films. Kidding again. Jeez.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Death Race, huh? At today's gas prices, I'm not surprised!

Death Race (film)Image via Wikipedia

I've seen quite a few new movies this year and I haven't covered nearly as many as I should have, but now I'm back with Death Race. I saw this last week and I have to say it's a little bit of a mixed bag, but it actually doesn't disappoint. In fact, I'd say that Death Race is the first movie I've seen all year that was exactly what I expected it to be, which is usually a good thing. It can help you say, "See? I told you this movie was gonna kick ass" or "See? That flick sucked crap like a Hoover wetvac at Rosie O'Donnell's house."

But enough of that imagery.

Death Race was written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. When this guy made Event Horizon, I thought he was poised for great things. Then, after debacles like AVP and the Resident Evil films (which weren't exactly abortions, mind you, just badly written) I thought that he had been sent by Satan to destroy all that I held dear. The truth is that Anderson is a visionary sci-fi action director. His eye for style and aesthetics far outreaches anyone else in the field and he could truly be the next James Cameron if he cared enough to pull his head out of Milla Jovovich's ass. Death Race is his first step in that direction.

The film opens in a dystopian future society where economic collapse has delivered the call for a new opiate of the masses. This opiate comes in the form of a deadly new sport held on a sweet piece of prime real estate called Terminal Island, an industrial prison fort where prisoners are forced to race to the death in heavily armored performance vehicles retro-fitted with today's most politically incorrect assault weapons. The beastly, bad, and downright beautiful Jason Statham plays Jensen Ames, an ex-professional racer working in a gritty steel mill.

That's where Death Race takes it's most campy turn. Most great action films deliver a premise that requires nothing more than a solid reason for people to die screaming in a hail of lead and fire. DR does this well enough for the most part, but the reason for Statham's arrival on the island is just a bit stretched in my own humble opinion. There are a lot more subtle ways they could've done this. The film also features Tyrese. Generally, I hate that kind of casting, but I have to admit it makes rap and r&b stars much more likable because it pulls them out of the real world where they just can't stop pretending to be, like, so totally awesome.

I don't want to ramble on any further except to say that Death Race delivers on just the kind of action you should expect from the trailer. I would recommend checking it out because, as stupid as it is at some points, watching Statham's character get revenge against his tormentors is just tops.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Forbidden Kingdom? More like the Neverendind Story with Kung Fu

The Forbidden KingdomImage by Gandalf. via Flickr

Okay, so last night I watched the epic kung fu fantasy flick The Forbidden Kingdom, featuring a face off and team up between martial arts legends Jet Li and Jackie Chan and current legend in the making Collin Chou. All in all a satisfying flick, but I swear it could've been written by Disney. I went in expecting a fists blazing, high kicking extravaganza, and instead got Jackie Chan all done up to look like some old guy with dysentery. Come to think of it, I think that was his best acting ever. Okay, so it definitely wasn't what I was expecting. It came off a lot more like a kid's movie, but once I got past that I actually had a good time watching it.

The film follows an young loser played always convincingly by Michael Angarano of Sky High fame, or the closest you can get to it without actually being famous. Anyway, as previously stated, Jackie Chan plays an China Town store owner that receives a rude awakening one night when the boy is forced by bullies into breaking into the store. Through a series of predictable yet still entertaining events, he picks up the legendary staff of the Monkey King and ends up in an alternate reality of ancient China featuring lots of special effects and wire fighting. A little too much wire fighting, in my opinion. He turns out to be a prophesied seeker destined to return the staff to the Monkey King's hand.

The highest low point of the film is undoubtedly the fight scene between gods of the screen Chan and Li. It's a shame, too, because the choreography is excellent and fast paced, but even if you can get past the wire work, ignoring the bleak location and lack of any real bringing-the-pain style moments these two actors are known for is a much more difficult task. Jet Li plays dual roles as both a questing monk and the Monkey King himself. Jet Li has played a lot of serious roles of late, but I always enjoy when he can play around and laugh a little, which he does here. Chan of course brings back the style that more or less has made him famous, drunken boxing baby! Oh yeah!

For me, though, the stand out role here is Collin Chou as a rather ruthless warlord that ends up actually seeming fairly cunning and honorable. The only problem is that his English speaking accent paired with heavy makeup makes him come off a bit...fruity? Anyway, he wields a wicked sword staff and was a real pleasure to watch for the few minutes he was on screen.

In short, The Forbidden Kingdom was a film that should have been so much more but was entertaining for what it offered. Like so many movies these days, it ended up being another wasted opportunity for something absolutely awesome, but don't let my pessimism overshadow what is otherwise an enjoyable flick, especially if you're looking for something to watch with a niece or nephew or something. Hell, maybe even your own kids, I don't know anything about you.

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