Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Accident up ahead

Racing off the shelves of the L.A. Library system.

Death Race (2008)

You know how video games are becoming more like movies? Well, Death Race is a movie that feels more like a video game. That's not a compliment, BTW.

Writer/director/shithead Paul W.S. Anderson has managed to crap out yet another turdburger, this time remaking the Roger Corman classic Death Race 2000, which was slyly directed by Paul Bartel. Anderson removes all the low budget charm, inventiveness, bare boobs and satire, replacing it with loud boring car chases, endless machine gun fire and lots o' prison swearing. (He even has a Megan Fox look alike here (complete with taut exposed midriff), but NO bare bewbs, proving he is a total idiot.)

Anderson does what he does "best" which is rip off other better movies. Here he rips off The Running Man by having a televised reality show, broadcast worldwide, featuring prisoners battling each other with the winner promised their freedom. Instead of hand to hand combat Anderson replaces it with Road Warrior-like automotive mayhem. (And let me tell you, survey says Joan Allen as the baddie is NO Richard Dawson.)

The race stuff looks and feels like a video game, even to the point where the drivers have to run over certain marks in the road to activate things like shields, car-mounted guns and devices embedded along the racing course that can aid them in defeating their opponents. All that's missing is the goofy sound that usually accompanies those moments in a video game, but that would probably be drowned out by the ridiculously loud, grinding, video-game-like guitar riffs.

This movie is a fucking joke. There are a few moments that make you appreciate some of the stunt driving, but NOTHING in this movie compares to the fantastic stunt roadwork in the Mad Max movies, especially the Road Warrior. There's even a huge nod/rip off when during the second stage of this three stage race a huge tanker truck is loosed onto the track. It was obviously modelled after the tanker truck in Road Warrior, but like all of Anderson's homages he really does nothing special with it. (I think he believes just the fact that he is doing an homage/rip off is cool in and of itself, he need do nothing more with it.)

Jason Statham plays his usual Jason Statham role, meaning ho hum. His best work has been in The Italian Job and The Bank Job. Maybe if this had been titled Death Race Job he would have stepped it up an acting notch. And Jas, you GOTTA do something about the balding thing. I'm sorry but an action hero under 40, no matter how capable, CANNOT have a thinning/receding hairline. Movies are all FANTASY after all, so either get hair plugs, shave your hair off completely, or do the Shatner and Connery toupee thing. (Hey, look how well their careers went.)

Steer clear of this crap, rent the original Death Race 2000 and The Road Warrior. You will have a MUCH better driving experience.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Today is Yesterday's Tomorrow...or something

Star Trek. "Tomorrow is Yesterday"

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane!

No, it's a big-ass spaceship! It's one-a them dang U Ef Ohs!

The Enterprise really should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque IV.

Disclaimer: Star Trek is Copyright 2009 and a Registered Trademark of CBS Studios, Inc. Lyrics from Looney Tunes cartoon copyright the respective rights holder. No infringement of those rights is implied.

Star Trek screencaps from Trekcore.com.

Operators standing by

Ubiquitous TV pitchman Billy Mays, the bearded man with the booming voice has died today.

He will be wrapped in Zorbeez towels and buried in a giant OxiClean plastic coffin for only three easy payments of $29.95, but WAIT!, if you call NOW! we'll throw in a case each of Orange Glo and Kaboom for FREE!

Rival TV pitchman Vince "ShamWow!" Offer will belligerently scream the eulogy at memorial services.

All services will be videotaped and offered to the public in a forthcoming late night infomercial.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Awake and dreaming

Virtuality (2009)

From Battlestar Galactica guru Ronald D. Moore and director Peter Berg comes this two-hour pilot for a series that will likely never be (unless ratings go THROUGH THE ROOF, but hey, I was wrong about Dollhouse getting a second season).

On the surface, it’s about the 12 person crew of a spaceship, the Phaeton, on a ten year round trip interstellar journey. Yup, this ain’t the U.S.S. Enterprise or the Galactica; the Phaeton gets around the old-fashioned way with multiple nuclear explosions to propel her. (In one of the many nods to 2001: A Space Odyssey, the ship’s habitat ring also spins to provide gravity.) Just before they begin their journey the crew finds out the real truth: Earth has only a few decades left before it goes completely in the toilet and becomes uninhabitable. So this journey of exploration now becomes a search to find a new home for whoever will be left on the big blue marble.

Because traveling in a tin can for a decade can make you go nuts, the ship has a virtual reality program. The crew engages in various scenarios including speaking with dead relatives, climbing mountains, concerts, painting, James Bond-style adventures, and of course cheating on spouses with other crew members. There’s also the all too of-the-moment aspect that the entire voyage is being taped and beamed back to Earth as a reality show, complete with closet confessionals. It’s the Real World: Epsilon Iridani. (I just wish they had the ubiquitous reality show hot tub threesome scene.)

I thought the first hour was pretty dull, verging on boring. Twelve people in the main cast is a lot to keep track of. And what’s with this crew? N.A.S.A. astronauts seem to be a fairly level-leaded bunch, with the exception of the occasional crazy, Depends-wearing, long haul driving, astro-chick. Too many of the Phaeton’s crew were constantly on each other’s ass, griping and grousing (especially the wheelchair bound second in command. What an a-hole.). Maybe it’s because of the reality show aspect, but I think it’s because Moore and co-writer Michael Taylor thought that would make the characters more interesting. The show starts after the crew has only been in space a few months, but at this rate of arguing with one another they would kill each other off in a few short years!

Any show featuring virtual reality has to have the “glitch” or ghost in the machine (see every Star Trek episode with the holodeck). The first one to experience it is Commander Frank Pike (New Amsterdam’s Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), when he is shot dead in a Civil War program by someone who was not part of the expected scenario. Not only is there a “glitch” in the program, but the master computer, JEAN (another 2001 nod with her ever present eye), would NOT respond to Pike’s commands when this person appeared. This same scenario plays out two more times, where this same person (played by Jimmi Simpson) appears in a VR simulation and kills, or in one case rapes, the person experiencing the program. Of course no one tells anyone else about these experiences. This is where the show lost me. You’re stuck in a spaceship that won’t return to Earth for at least 10 years and when the MASTER COMPUTER which controls not only the virtual reality program BUT THE ENTIRE SHIP AS WELL starts malfunctioning and you don’t tell someone? Is it me, or is that kind of a big deal?

Aside from the glitch, any story featuring a virtual reality scenario begs the question, what is real? Was any part of the last two hours which was ostensibly set in the real world, itself a virtual reality simulation? It’s the old dream within a dream. Are you really awake or did you just dream you woke up? (And Ron Moore's a smart enough guy to find a new twist on this old VR nugget.) Things pick up in the second hour, and just when it starts to get interesting, the show's over.

Or is it...?

Because the name giant chewed up Tootsie Roll was taken

Another edition of Fuck You, Alien because we care.

Look at you, Blob, the only creature from another world to have their own catchy theme song*, and you let it completely go to your goddamn head. That is, if you had a head. According to your song you “creep, leap, glide and slide across the floor" but I’m not buying that fucking propaganda. Just one look at you tells me you’re more the “rolling ooze” type, like your freakish cousin Meatwad from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, but I guess that doesn’t make for as catchy a song lyric.

And what’s with your aversion to a/c? You are just a giant Jell-O mold gone amuck, and I don’t know about anyone else, but I keep my Jell-O in the fridge, where it stays nice and cold – and stays put - until dinner time. I think your problem with cold is all just a big act, so you can end up suing the innocent a/c manufacturers, threaten to take them to court, and then settle for a huge sum. I see right through you, you translucent bastard.

Next time I see you, Blob, you better stay on your side of the street, because I’ll have a huge chilled can of whipped cream in my hand. And I will not hesitate to use it on you, freak.

* "Beware of the Blob." Go ahead, Google it and play it while you read this!

Disclaimer: The Blob movie image and the lyrics to the song "Beware of the Blob" are Copyright 2009 by their respective rights holders. No infringement of those rights is implied here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Spirit gum, latex and a bit of Magic

There is a fantastic article at Aint It Cool News about the recent Academy tribute to the legendary special make up effects artist Dick Smith.

Smith has worked in television and movies since the late 1940s (he is retired but was coaxed back to act as a "special consultant" by former student Guillermo del Toro on the soon-to-shoot features of The Hobbit).

Everyone knows Smith's work from The Exorcist and The Godfather, but he also worked on films such as Scanners, Altered States, Taxi Driver, Little Big Man and the original Dark Shadows TV show.

Smith's speciality, if you can single out one thing by a man who did everything exceptionally with regard to his craft, was old age make up. (NO ONE did or does old age make up as convincingly as Smith. No one.) Everyone knows he aged 40-something Marlon Brando into his 60s and 70s for The Godfather, but not a lot of people recall that a 44 year old Max von Sydow was similarly aged to play 70-something Father Merrin in The Exorcist - Linda Blair's fantastic "possessed" make up took the spotlight away from Smith's more subtle work on von Sydow. Then there was turning 33 year old Dustin Hoffman into a 121 year old Native American in Little Big Man. Smith finally won an Oscar in 1985 for his work on Amadeus and aging F. Murray Abraham's character of Salieri.

Smith also did something that is not often done in Hollywood: he openly shared all his trade secrets and innovations. And he mentored people such as Rick Baker, himself also an Oscar winner for special make up.

If you love movies and TV, chances are you've seen some of Dick Smith's amazing work and didn't realize it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Spy with my little eye a very bored audience

Another pos from the L.A. Library shelves.

I Spy (2002)

Do you like Eddie Murphy's Donkey in the Shrek movies? His non-stop chatter is kind of funny. Would you like to listen to 97 minutes of extremely dull Donkey outtakes? Well, that's what Murphy's work here feels like; just non-stop jibber jabber.

You know the Hollywood drill: take an established or name property, in this case the old 1960s I Spy TV show, package it with whomever is considered hot at the time (Owen Wilson and Murphy), take four monkeys to bang out a script, film it in a mediocre fashion that favors the action instead of the comedy, then shit it out onto movie screens.

If given the option of watching this again, I'd rather do my taxes, and I FUCKING HATE DOING MY TAXES.

ps: two things of note. 1. Gary Cole is pretty much wasted as Wilson's rival, the super spy Carlos (they made him up to look like Steven Seagal, complete with ponytail, but there was no there there) and 2. Casting was messed up. Famke Janssen was too old to play the love interest. Now, don't get me wrong I LOVE me some Famke, always have, but she looked about 10 years older than Owen Wilson. They needed to cast a hot twenty-something. That should have been a no-brainer. Also, what was with the idiot cast as the general? He was fat, stupid and he looked about 40 years old. I know this is a dumb action-comedy, but you don't get to be a two-star general at 40! It's such a simple detail, and it shows you where this movie's head is at (firmly up its ass) when they can't get that right. Don't tell me Charles Napier wasn't available when this fucker was made.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Keep your hands and feet inside your Universe at all times

Star Trek. "The Alternative Factor"

AKA the one where Lazarus goes, "AAAAHHHHgggghhh!" as he falls off a cliff. Several times.

Really, it should be a drinking game.

Disclaimer: Star Trek is Copyright 2009 and a Registered Trademark of CBS Studios, Inc. Marvin the Martian is Copyright 2009 Warner Bros. Entertainment. No infringement of these rights is implied.

Thanks to Trekcore.com for the Star Trek screencaps.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Punisher starts with PU

Your Los Angeles Library tax dollars at work.

Punisher: War Zone (2008)


That about sums up Punisher: War Zone. Oh, one more thing, after each BLAM! there's usually some body part shown blowing open/apart. (I lost count of how many exploding heads there are in this movie.) There must have been a blood, latex and squib shortage in Hollywood after this movie wrapped production.

Ray Stevenson of HBO's Rome series, plays that barrel of laughs Frank Castle, whose wife and kids were accidentally killed by the mob. Castle paints a skull on his body armor and proceeds to wipe out organized crime in New York, this time tangling with a goofy Brooklyn goombah who goes by the name Jigsaw after Frank tosses him in a glass crushing machine and he comes out disfigured. Jiggy, played by Dominic West, was like a cross between The Mask and Tommy Lee Jones' version of Two Face from Batman Forever. In other words, with all the movie's vicious carnage his silly voice and manner was very much out of place.

I don't mind a "good kill" in a movie. When a slimy bad guy or henchperson buys it, usually in a creative way, it's a release. Their head doesn't need to go all splat like "Scanners" on you either. In the terrific tense thriller Breakdown, when Kurt Russell kicks the bad guy who kidnapped his wife in the face I literally leaped off the sofa and yelled, "YEAH!"

The thing with P:WZ is that not only is it brutal, ugly and sadistic, it revels in being so. It makes me long for the good old days of gentle revenge fare, like the original Death Wish and the Rambo series. (In last year's Rambo film, the title character machine guns half of Myanmar (formerly Burma) and it wasn't as cruel as this movie.)

Punisher: War Zone is for kids who like to torture puppies. Stay far away from it.

Projecting your feelings

Because "homage" is the sincerest way to say "ripping off" we present the new feature, Fuck You, Alien! Based on the hilarious blog FU Penguin. He tells cute animals what's what, and we tell aliens the same thing.

"Lights of Zetar" Star Trek alien.

Can you believe this shit? An alien creature made out of what looks like of Christmas tree lights reflected off a pinwheel.

What’s so bad about that, you think to yourself. You see, this light creature, we’ll call it Blinky, feeds off human emotion, like a vampire feeds off blood. (And not one of those pussy Twilight vampires, but a real, skuzzy vampire like in Near Dark.) And when are we more emotionally vulnerable than at work? You think your day is cruising along just fine - there you are, walking down the corridor minding your own business, planning out your morning or maybe thinking about asking that cute astrophysics chick out for coffee - when you suddenly get pulled into a four hour staff meeting that absolutely served no fucking purpose. You leave the conference room steamed as all get out when you run into Blinky the Christmas Light Pinwheel, who feeds off your hate and frustration like one of those big-ass leeches from Rambo: First Blood Part II. And since Blinky needs you to continually feel frustration and anger, his leechifying makes you all loopy so you blow if with the chick from astrophysics, who now thinks you are a major asshole, which makes you even angrier. All the while Blinky is leaning back and laughing at you.

Be warned Blinky, your day is coming soon. All we need is the opportunity to pull out one Christmas light and your reign of terror is over.

Disclaimer: Star Trek is Copyright 2009 and a Registered Trademark of CBS Studios, Inc. No infringement of those rights is implied. Thanks to Trekcore.com for the Star Trek screencaps.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Blog? Yes, I know.

I've seen Shia LaBeouf in I, Robot, Disturbia, Eagle Eye, Transformers and Indiana Jones IV. He's always reminded me of someone, another actor, but I just couldn't put my robotic finger on it. I was scanning through the classic Forbidden Planet when it hit me.

Shia LaBeouf is Frank Drebin! Rather he looks like "handsome, young" Leslie Nielsen did in this movie.

And since they are remaking every property that is at least 20 years old, when it comes time to remake The Naked Gun, well, we're already got our Lt. Frank Drebin, Det. Sgt Police Squad already cast.
Forbidden Planet image copyright MGM. Shia Labeouf image copyright its respective rights holder. No infringement of those rights is intended.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Silence is Golden

Pontypool (2008)

Spoilers within. Be ye warned.

Filmmakers are dying to make zombie movies. You might say there is an epidemic of zombie movies* or movies with zombie-like antagonists. This is one of the latter. The story centers on a small Ontario, Canada town called Pontypool, and a talk radio DJ named Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) and his two-person staff. When the shit hits the zombie-oscillating fan over Valentine's Day, ordinary folks start going apeshit - attacking people, often loved ones, ripping them apart, etc. - Grant is on the air trying to report and make sense of it all. This is a very interesting, but also very frustrating, film from director Bruce McDonald, with a screenplay by Tony Burgess adapting his own novel.

There's a great idea at work here, and it's not the non-zombie zombies, which are so ever the fashion after the terrific and oft-imitated 28 Days Later. Instead of a virus from space (Night of the Living Dead), or one that's man-made in a lab (Res Evil and 28 Days), the "virus" at work here is one of WORDS. That's right, somehow certain English language words have become deadly.

It works like this, first you get stuck on a certain word, usually a term of endearment like, "honey;" you forget what the word means so you repeat it endlessly. Then you develop a sort of aphasia where your speech comes out all scrambled. Finally you become so frustrated and enraged, to quote director McDonald, "you become so distraught at your condition...you try and chew your way through the mouth of another person."

This movie would probably make a great short play, as the majority of the action takes place in Grant's DJ booth and the producer's and engineer's stations directly outside of it (it mostly uses its low budget effectively, but I think the camerawork could have had a bit more energy, more movement to it). And that's part of the problem with the movie. It often just sits there, like the main characters. Also the movie takes far too long to get going; it took over 30 minutes before the crap hit the fan. It took far too long to set up the Grant Mazzy character (just from his look I got the impression he was a Don Imus-type who's been around the block; now he's stuck in little Pontypool). Once it got freaking going it was interesting despite the confined space.
I love the idea that somehow certain words have become toxic and contagious. (If this idea had been presented to Rod Serling at the height of The Twilight Zone he would have turned it into a great episode.) But the movie doesn't DO anything with it. I had no idea what the movie was SAYING about this terrific idea. Yes, it's ironic that a talk radio DJ is ordered by the authorities to cease his broadcasting, lest he somehow infect others. But what was the point to it all? That talk radio is evil (some political talk show hosts might fit that label)? That we're not affectionate enough with one another and that's why words of endearment become toxic? No clue from the movie.
In a story where words act as a killer virus, I just wish Pontypool had something (clear) to say about the way we communicate.
* There's been 4 Resident Evils (3 live action, 1 animated), 2 28 Days Laters, Versus, Undead, Shaun of the Dead, 2 recent Romero Dead movies with another on the way, remakes of Romero's Dead movies, The Return of the Living Dead series, The Signal, not to mention the countless amateur and low budget zombie movies and upcoming remakes of old zombie movies!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Zanti Claws is coming to town

I was watching "The Zanti Misfits" episode of the classic Outer Limits TV show the other day. You remember that one, right? It's the one with the little (well, hand size) bug/spider-like aliens with HUMAN faces.

The "misfits" are actually criminals from another world, their sentence exile on Earth. Well, of course they run afoul of the military and in one scene the Zanti overrun an Air Force command center. PANEDEMONIUM ENSUES! One dude, an MP-type runs off-screen, his .45 blasting away, and a second later comes crashing down the stairs covered in Zanti!

These folks in "Zanti" were in the fight of their lives against some pretty rudimentary special effects (the Misfits were done with some limited stop motion animation, or, in most shots, with a rubber dummy prop) and they performed with complete conviction, as if acting opposite Marlon Brando and Laurence Olivier instead of rubber bugs. My point being that science fiction shows and movies often have better acting than their more traditional non-genre cousins. In other words, I'd like to see someone like Dr. McDreamy on Grey's Anatomy fall down a flight of stairs covered in Zanti Misfits and make you believe it!

If they could, I smell Emmy Awards.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid

Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)

Oh, to be a 9 year old boy. The kind that laughs at obvious fat guy jokes and pratfalls. Especially the fat guy pratfalls. And silly names like, "Blart" (hey, rhymes with fart).

The things Bad News From Outer Space does for you people. I watched Paul Blart: Mall Cop; It held my attention, such as I could muster, better than last night's fare of Underworld 3: Rinse of Lysol. The movie concerns a Boston-area mall taken over by a bunch of bank robber-types who, except for the lead, were all played by BMX, skateboarding and free running action sport professionals. (There were a few featurettes among the shitload of DVD extras that highlighted their fairly awesome stunt work.) Kevin James' overweight, none-too-bright, and extremely overzealous mall security guard is all that stands in their way.

James' stand up routine was pretty funny. His sit-com, King of Queens, had some laughs in it as well (although I could never stand Jerry Stiller, who, thankfully is not in this movie). But here he and his co-writer Nick Bakay (of Sabrina: The Teenage Witch fame - he was the cat and a producer) aim squarely for that PG bracket and those aforementioned boys who LOVE fat jokes. Not cruel fat jokes but "nice" fat jokes. And a lot of silliness (there's even a fat guy fart joke).

During the movie, I kept thinking about that scene in the old Steve Martin film, Roxanne, Martin's retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac, where the clod at the bar makes fun of C.D.'s nose by calling him, "Big nose" as if that were a clever insult. C.D. (Martin) responds by coming up with not one clever nose joke, but 20*!

Roxanne, like Paul Blart, was a PG movie. That one scene in the bar has more laughs in it than the entire Blart movie.

My, how times and laugh quotients have changed.

*from IMDb's memorable quotes:

C.D.: Let's start with... Obvious: 'scuse me, is that your nose or did a bus park on your face? Meteorological: everybody take cover, she's going to blow! Fashionable: you know, you could de-emphasize your nose if you wore something larger, like... Wyoming. Personal: well, here we are, just the three of us. Punctual: all right, Delbman, your nose was on time but YOU were fifteen minutes late! Envious: Ooooh, I wish I were you! Gosh, to be able to smell your own ear! Naughty: uh, pardon me, sir, some of the ladies have asked if you wouldn't mind putting that thing away. Philosophical: you know, it's not the size of a nose that's important, it's what's IN IT that matters. Humorous: laugh and the world laughs with you. Sneeze, and it's goodbye, Seattle! Commercial: hi, I'm Earl Scheib, and I can paint that nose for $39.95! Polite: uh, would you mind not bobbing your head? The, uh, orchestra keeps changing tempo. Melodic: Everybody. He's got...(the crowd joins in) The whole world in his nose!

C.D.: Sympathetic: aw, what happened? Did your parents lose a bet with God? Complimentary: you must love the little birdies to give them this to perch on. Scientific: Say, does that thing there influence the tides? Obscure: whoa! I'd hate to see the grindstone. Well, think about it. Inquiring: when you stop to smell the flowers, are they afraid? French: saihr, ze pigs have refused to find any more truffles until you leave! Pornographic: finally, a man who can satisfy two women at once! How many is that?

Dean: Fourteen, Chief!

C.D.: Religious: the Lord giveth... and He just kept on giving, didn't He? Disgusting: Say, who mows your nose hair? Paranoid: keep that guy away from my cocaine! Aromatic: it must wonderful to wake up in the morning and smell the coffee... in Brazil. Appreciative: Oooh, how original! Most people just have their teeth capped. [he pauses, pretending to be stumped, while the crowd urges him on]

C.D. : All right. Dirty: your name wouldn't be Dick, would it?

Werewolf? THERE wolf. THERE castle.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)

Where is Kate Beckinsale and her tight lycra costume when we need her?

She sits this one out, the third and, hopefully (oh please, oh please), final installment in the Underworld series (not to be confused with the Subway series) where we find out why the vampires and the werewolves act like the Hatfields and the McCoys. Or something.

I was so bored with this freaking movie. Aside from not being a huge fan of the first two, except for the aforementioned Kate Beckinsale tight costume-age, this movie is so DARK. And I don't mean subject matter. Director Patrick Tatopoulos and the filmmakers chose to bleach out most of the color, so what we are left with is a greenish gray mess with enough shadows for two movies. They should have just shot it in black and white for crap's sake. (In the extras we actually see the sets and costumes and they looked pretty cool in color, but after all the processing in the final film you can't see much of any of it.)

The producers must have thought that getting a bunch of British actors like Bill Nighy, Michael Sheen and Steven Mackintosh and have them stand around and talk - or rather, SHOUT - a lot made for interesting viewing. Not a good idea for an action movie, especially a pelicula accion y numero tres. They weren't given anything very interesting or clever to say, just whatever stuff we've heard dozens of times before in these types of Romeo and Juliet Meets 300 movies. You know, stuff like, "How can you betray me!" "We can be slaves, or we can be (fill in the blank)!" "Does this leather codpiece make my ass look big?"

And don't get me started on the werewolves. They have always been the goofiest looking things in this series, with heads WAAAY too big for their bodies. Also, the werewolves with their, greasy, stringy hair remind me of nothing so much as rock singer Andrew W. K. Especially the greasy part. Ewww.

The first Underworld cribbed - oh, let's be honest here - stole too much of its style from The Matrix. Underworld: Part Trois steals from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, with its prehistoric Middle Earth look in the sets and the costuming (mostly the vamp soldiers armor).

About those vamps, if you hadn't watched the first two movies you'd be hard pressed to know, aside from the dialogue, that the movie concerns vampires! They don't drink blood, fly, or do much of what we associate with vampires, except for burning up in sunlight. They're a pretty dull bunch, which about sums up this flick.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Who Mourns for Your Cuticles?

Last night I caught a few minutes of "Who Mourns for Adonais?," you know, the Star Trek ep with the god Apollo smacking the crew around.

And I couldn't get this image outta my head.

Disclaimer: Star Trek is Copyright 2009 and a Registered Trademark of CBS Studios, Inc. No infringement of those rights is implied.

Screencaps from Trekcore.com.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Nekkid Time!

Star Trek.

"The Naked Time" aka the one where Takei shows he has better abs than Shatner.

The crew gets jiggy wit it; they laugh, they cry, they kiss three days goodbye.

DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is Copyright 2009 and a Registered Trademark of CBS Studios, Inc. No infringement of those rights is implied.
Thanks to Trekcore.com for the screencaps.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sit. Lie down. Roll over. Now, KILL!

White Dog (1982)

Remember when laser disks were a big deal in the VCR era? And remember when Criterion put out a laser disk that meant it must be an important film, right? Well, White Dog was released by Criterion, and it’s a piece of crap.

Kristy McNichol from the TV show Family (remember that one, boy and girls?) stars as an extremely thin would-be actress who accidentally runs over a pretty white German Shepard dog in the Hollywood Hills. After taking it to the most mercenary veterinary hospital I’ve ever seen – the lackadaisical vet and his nurse kept insisting that Kristy pay the bill for the dog’s emergency visit, and I mean INSISTING – and not getting any response later to her doggie found posters, she decides to keep the dog.

All together now, DON’T DO IT, KRISTY!

Anyway, after chewing up a clumsy rapist who attacked Kristy in her GINORMOUS Hollywood home (seriously, it’s bigger than Lois Lane’s pad in Superman: The Movie), and growling at BF Jameson Parker from Simon and Simon, Kristy takes the dog to Burl Ives. Read that again. Kristy takes the dog to Burl Ives. After years of watching a puppet version of Burl Ives wishing us all a “Holly jolly Christmas” I just can’t take the man seriously. And since Burl Ives runs an animal sanctuary/training facility, I expected Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer to be penned up nearby.

Burl Ives (you have to use both his names, like when you say Reed Richards) deduces than the white pooch isn’t merely a trained attack dog, but a “white dog” one that has been trained to attack and kill black people! So the great Paul Winfield, an associate of Burl Ives, and being a black man, also knows of the white dog and agrees to try and cure the furball of his racism.

This is a very silly movie. There’s no metaphor or allegory here. “White colored dog kills only black people.” That’s it. The Criterion folks and the dozen reviewers who gave this thing a positive review were either drunk or high, if not both. Kristy McNichol gives a very bland robotic performance. And seeing her in the very sad, dated 80s fashions of white boots, red bandana and purple pants makes you laugh out loud. Paul Winfield does his usual good job, but the story is just too damn goofy. In just about a month his character is able to take an old dog and teach him a new trick: the canine-with-no-name no longer hates black people, but instead goes for Burl Ives' throat!

I think the dog was hired by Rudolph.

Ps: I think the reviewers who praised this film were blinded by two things. One, they deified director/co-screenwriter Samuel Fuller (I enjoyed Fuller’s The Big Red One, but haven’t seen anything else he’s directed). And two, this movie was shelved by the studio and never given an American theatrical release. Apparently this lead to the legend of its subject matter being too controversial, even though it was released theatrically in Europe and shown on American TV on HBO. If you’ve ever been to a video store you’ve no doubt picked up a movie with major stars in it and said “I’ve never heard of this, why didn’t it come out in theaters?” Not all movies get a theatrical release for many reasons, usually the first and biggest is it won’t make enough moolah at the box office to justify all the print and advertising costs, better to just release it on home video.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Yousa da Sout, or da bombad Nort?

According to the latest news reports, North Korean crackpot extraordinaire Kim Jong Il is apparently reenacting Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace on the world stage.

He thinks N. Korea is the peaceful planet Naboo. South Korea is the evil Trade Federation, manipulated by Darth SidioU.S. into enacting a blockade of their planet, er, island.

And that means Kim Jong Il sees himself as the beautiful Queen Amidala! (Plus, he really admires her fashion sense.)

But I wanna know, in this scenario who's gonna play Jar Jar?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Read me a BETTER story

Bedtime Stories (2008)

Leave it to a movie about a guy who tells bedtime stories to kids where the stories come true in real life to have absolutely NO imagination or sense of wonder.

Star Adam Sandler is out of his element here, where there are no fart or boob jokes for him to hang his “performance” on. His range as an actor seems to be obnoxious and less obnoxious, whiney and less whiney. Because this is a Disney children’s film, he has be waaay less obnoxious, so that just leaves silly (which is NOT acting). Sandler is obviously a smart businessman in real life, why can’t he just play a regular guy in his movies and not always some near-brain-damaged doofus.

Keri Russell is too good for this weak material, but she brings what she can as a very late in the movie love interest for Sandler. Courteney Cox shows she really needs the Friends ensemble to give a decent performance. The two kids in the movie are better actors than Sandler and Cox combined.

The stories Sandler tells his niece and nephew are totally uninspired stuff with a cowboy, then a knight, and finally a big Star Wars-ish overblown finale. They all come off as if they were created that day on the set: “Let’s go over to the western lot and get some horses…” It would have been better and funnier to COMBINE those genres and have, for instance, a knight in cowboy times fighting Indians, or a spaceman in Medieval times. I recently learned of a show called Food Party on IFC, where the host, a tiny cute girl named Thu Tran interacts with all these crazy handmade food-inspired puppets on cardboard sets in a surreal stew that mixes Pee Wee’s Playhouse and the craziest stuff from the old Sid and Marty Krofft TV shows from the 70s. One single short and cheap episode of Food Party has more creativity, imagination, sense of wonder and fun to it than the entire bloated, costly mess that is Bedtime Stories. (The funniest thing in Bedtime Stories is a googly-eyed guinea pig. A guinea pig. [Oooo, that foreshadows Disney's upcoming G-Force about secret agent guinea pigs!])

People always use the excuse, “well it’s JUST a kids’ movie” to explain why their kids' movies are so bad. Leaving Pixar films out of the equation as they are a world unto themselves, there are plenty of imaginative, funny kids shows out there, both older and new. SpongeBob SquarePants, Pee Wee’s Playhouse, Powerpuff Girls, The Muppets, Phineas and Ferb, Invader Zim. They bring the funny for a fraction of the budget of this movie and others like it.

So, Disney and Sandler, what’s your excuse?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This Horse Would Be Better As Glue

Beer For My Horses (2008)

I’ve hit rock bottom, folks. I’ve actually watched a movie that makes you dumber.

You’ve heard of movies targeted for certain demographics, right? Chick flicks and women, for instance. Horror films for teenagers. Family films for all ages, like Pixar movies. Now there’s Beer For My Horses, whose demographic is the most specific: Toby Keith fans and morons. (Even Steven Seagal movies have a wider demographic* than this flick.) Co-written by country star Keith and co-star and stand up comic Rodney Carrington, it’s about two small town sheriff’s deputies (or “depaddies” as Rodney says) who tangle with Mexican drug dealers.

*Seagal's movies are watched by Seagal fans, and fans of martial arts, action thrillers and bad movies.

“Good ole boy” doesn’t begin to describe the tone and execution of this drivel. I’m serious when I said this movie makes you dumber. The level of humor is aimed at 10 year old boys. More specifically, 10 year old boys that have been held back a grade or two. Shitheads who love knock-knock and fart jokes. It’s that fucking stupid and obvious.

I expected Toby Keith to just be Toby Keith, and I was right, but I was expecting Rodney Carrington to be better. I have heard his stand up act on The Bob and Tom Show on radio and he is very funny (and even R Rated in his live act too). He had to seriously clean things up for his short-lived sitcom a few years ago, called Rodney. And here he shows you what he’s like with ALL of the bite taken out of him -- he’s just a short chubby idiot. The movie has several cameos from old country stars where the phrase “long in the tooth” doesn’t begin to describe them: Willie Nelson, Mac Davis and Mel Tillis. All of whom are now officially older than Moses (we know Willie and Mel played for Noah when the Ark hit dry land).

Tom Skerritt should be billed as Tom Scary because he looks like a walking corpse now. Ted Nugent as Deputy Skunk doesn't look that much better. There's a farting "police dog" (of course the dog is completely useless until the final action scene). And there's a blink and you'll miss it flash of bewb (for the PG-13 rating) in a highway scene set to one of Rodney's fun little stand up songs, "Show Them to Me."

This is a complete waste of time. It makes Larry the Cable Guy’s movies look like Merchant Ivory productions.

Playing a Playa

Star Trek. Perhaps you've heard of it?

“Conscience of the King”

Wooo! What’s that smell? It’s this episode! Most of the first season eps of TOS (The Original Series) are pretty good, many among the best, but not this one.

Kirk gets the hots for blond, 19 year old Lenore Kardashian, oops, Karidian. 19 YEARS OLD! And he's 36! We all know Kirk will shag anything in a skirt, or tight slacks, a mu mu, suit of armor….But a 19 year old girl that he’s just met seems very, very wrong (well, this is the same dude who fell head over transistors for blond robot chick Reyna after literally one game of billiards in a three hour time frame!). Turns out her Pops - Lenore's not robot girl's - is not only the head of a traveling Shakespeare Acting Company, but a mass murderer - dude slaughtered half of a planetary colony (nice stats!). Now his little chica is following in papi’s footsteps.

There’s one cool set full of funky angles shown in this episode that is never seen again – the shuttlecraft hangar observation deck. This location was the scene of the most blatant sexual innuendo of any Star Trek episode. I am seriously baffled as to how it got past network censors of the day. After some mindless chitchat, Lenore turns to Kirk and says, ostensibly regarding the ship’s engines, “All this power surging and throbbing, yet under control. Are you like that, Captain?” Kirk just responds with a sly smile. "Surging and throbbing?" "SURGING AND THROBBING?" And is the captain like THAT? I need a cigarette just for transcribing it! Maybe they trashed the set 'cuz they couldn't get scrape all the smut off the walls.

This was the last time we also saw Bruce Hyde’s character Lt. Kevin Riley (the first being "The Nekkid Time"). He was a fun character, too bad they couldn’t keep him around. (If he was kept, I guess there wouldn't have been a Mr. Chekov. Is that such a bad thing?)

Disclaimer: Star Trek is Copyright 2009 and a Registered Trademark of CBS Studios, Inc. No infringement of those rights is implied.

ALF and The Twilight Zone are Copyright 2009 by their respective rights holders. Lyrics from “The Sound of Music” and quotes from “Mel Brooks’ History of the World: Part I” parodied here are Copyright 2009 their respective rights holders. Twilight Zone image from www.horroretc.com.

Thanks to Trekcore.com for the Star Trek screencaps.