Archive for the ‘Fantasy/Swords’ Category

Mad Max: Fury Road

Saturday, May 16th, 2015

tn_furyroadSPOILER WARNING. I mean, I can’t stop you from reading this, but I’m not being careful about spoilers because for crying out loud see this movie IMMEDIATELY. Quit your job if necessary.

Usually if you’re still watching a movie for the first time, it’s kinda premature to start thinking “this is a masterpiece.” Not so with MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. It’s part 4 in an old series, but it truly feels like an entirely new type of movie. It is thrilling, explosive, inventive action at its most pure and relentless, yet it manages to weave a moving and powerful story around and within and through the hundreds of spectacular stunts. As he has in each successive MAD MAX movie, director George Miller re-invents his post-poxyclipstic world with even more ornate detail and flair than before, unfolding a fantasy world as teeming with weird characters and happenings as the whole HOBBIT trilogy without ever dumping a bunch of exposition on us. He explains what we need to know economically, mostly visually, and leaves the rest for us to daydream about.

This is a movie that will transform people’s brains. It just might be the most elaborate action movie ever made, both in the complexity of the stunt sequences and in the meticulous design of the people and things in it. Now the cars aren’t just cool and beat up, they’re built from unlikely combinations of multiple vehicles piled on top of each other, covered in spikes, flame throwers, animal skulls and creepy doll heads, with weapons hidden inside and out and half naked goons climbing all over them firing guns and throwing spears and bombs. Steering wheels are removable, heavily decorated and carry some sort of religious significance. One character pulls his off and holds it aloft during a chase to show that he’s ready to die. (read the rest of this shit…)

Shredder Orpheus

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

tn_shredderorpheus“Listen Boo Boo, you’re lucky you made it back the first time. If you want to join the pantheon of dead skate rock guitar heroes that’s your choice.”

SHREDDER ORPHEUS is a weird D.I.Y. type of movie made in the late ’80s in Seattle by people involved in the underground rock and art scenes of the time. It’s post-apocalyptic or futuristic or something, but more Max Headroom than MAD MAX. The story is based on the myth of Orpheus, played by director Robert McGinley as a skateboarder and lead singer/guitarist of a band called The Shredders. Instead of an Underworld there’s a sinister quasi-religious TV Channel called EBN (Euthanasia Broadcast Network) that hypnotizes the people. Just the normal people, maybe: the one person we see watching TV is the one civilian we see, the one non-punk or music scene type of guy that doesn’t work for the network. And the people who do work for the network look like they might as well be in bands because they’re all wearing white makeup and shit like ghouls. Most of their programming seems to be weirdos chanting slogans like “The Ministry of Sombulance – praise the ray!”

The EBN creeps kidnap Orpheus’s girlfriend Eurydice (Megan Murphy, DEADBEAT AT DAWN) after seeing her dancing (mostly just spinning and waving her arms a little, to be honest) at the Shredders show at the Thrash Bin Club. They decide she’s the key to co-opting the music counterculture for their purposes. “If we’re going to get beyond the corporate crust and expand our viewing addicts,” explains one of the executives, “we’ve got to reach out and put our finger on the main vein of the youth market. We need the heartbeat of America.” But if they kidnap this one dancer and base a show around her he says they can “play in Peoria.” (read the rest of this shit…)

The Hobbit Presents The Battle of the Five Armies: a 3D Imax Obligation

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

tn_hobbit3I saw BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES about 5 weeks after it came out and finished this review a couple weeks later, so you can see I had higher movie-going-and-discussing priorities than the thrilling conclusion to the prequel to the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. But honestly I did go to it of my own accord. After somewhat enjoying part 2 as a dumb spectacle with some good sequences I was kind of in the mood for that again and wanted to be sure to catch it before it left 3D.

(technical notes: I avoided high frame rate so it wouldn’t look like somebody’s home wedding video. I ended up with digital 3D “Imax,” which is on the giant screen but noticeably lower resolution than standard digital projection. So it’s got pluses and minuses)

If you’re like me you have almost no memory of what happened in the other two installments or what the names of any of the characters are, but you do remember the setup for part 3: Smowg, the greedy capitalistic dragon of Desolation Mountain, was awoken from his treasure-slumber and raging toward the man-village, puking deadly flame breath every which way, getting ready to roast some fuckin humans and Godzilla some buildings. Just step on some guys and bite off their heads and all that kind of dragon shit. This is the big screen dragon attack we’ve been waiting for ever since Guillermo Del Toro signed onto THE HOBBIT six years ago, and especially since the cliffhanger ending of part 2 one year ago.

I mean I am shitting myself you guys because THIS IS GONNA BE FUCKIN CRAZY!  The Baggin’ and Toe-taggin’ of the Dragon. The Shakedown in Laketown. The motherfuckin climax of the greatest most epicest trilogy of all time, “THE END OF AN ERA” according to the ads and posters.

That’s the pre-credits sequence. The archery guy from FURIOUS 6 and his kid kill the dragon pretty easily at the very beginning of the movie. The end. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Boxer’s Omen

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

tn_boxersomenTHE BOXER’S OMEN is one of these movies I’ve had recommended to me for years but for some reason never listened. I guess everybody just talked about how FUCKIN CRAZY it was, and I like FUCKIN CRAZY but sometimes a man needs more. For example (HERESY ALERT this paragraph) I couldn’t get into that beloved Japanese freakout available from Criterion, HOUSE or HAUSU. It is indeed unique and goofy and graphically fun, but feature length? I think that’s the ultimate example of a movie that if I stumbled across it on TV at 2 am and had never heard of it it would seem like the greatest achievement in the history of cinema, but when I intentionally sit down to watch it as a real movie I have a hard time getting through it.

Maybe that’s what I was worried BOXER’S OMEN would be. Then I was looking at the box and it said Bolo Yeung was in it so of course I rented it. Why didn’t you say so?
(read the rest of this shit…)

Noah

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

tn_noahHere’s one of those beloved I.P.s that the studios are always looking to repackage and the fans get real excited for. It’s a high concept that’s practically a movie trailer already, it’s like LORD OF THE RINGS meets TITANIC meets DR. DOLITTLE. And just like with Batman or Superman there’s alot of great interpretations from different eras for the filmatists to draw from. You got the Bible version, you got the Quran version, you got the FANTASIA 2000 version. Alot of people grew up on the Noah property. But like THE LONE RANGER last year maybe the whole premise is a little bit too campy for today’s audiences. It might be a little too late for this to become a franchise.

Russell Crowe (NO WAY BACK, THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS) plays Noah, a survivalist living off the grid in the wastelands traveling with his wife (Jennifer Connelly from PHENOMENA) and kids, trying to avoid men and cities. I’m not sure if it’s the future or the past, but they dress kinda like the people of Zion in THE MATRIX. There’s a weird scaly dog like Riddick would be friends with. We see when he’s attacked by barbarians that Noah does know how to kick ass, but he and his family live by a monk-like code, or maybe a hippie one. They don’t carry weapons, they don’t eat meat, they respect nature, the women are allowed to wear pants.
(read the rest of this shit…)

Last Action Hero

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

tn_lastactionheroex3-arnoldDo you guys remember how LAST ACTION HERO was the big ticket for ’93?

Okay, probly not. That was the tagline on some of the posters though. See, they knew this was destined to be a huge event movie, the movie of the summer. Fuck JURASSIC PARK. But also the plot involved a magical ticket that transports people between the worlds of reality and fiction. It’s a double meaning. They put alot of thought into this thing, just not the right kind maybe.

This is at least the third time I’ve watched and attempted to truly like this movie. That’s a strike out, so it’s time to sit on the bench and accept it as a kinda interesting, kinda terrible movie. Not as good as HUDSON HAWK but a bit of that same clever/awkward cocktail. Unique enough to keep coming back to, not good enough to be 100% sure it was worth it. (read the rest of this shit…)

The 13th Warrior

Monday, August 25th, 2014

tn_13thwarriorex3-banderasTHE 13TH WARRIOR sounds like a pretty badass thing to be, but let’s be clear: Ahmed ibn Fadlan (Antonio Banderas) is number thirteen out of thirteen. In other words, the last guy to be picked.

Well, I guess it’s not exactly a nerd-in-gym-class scenario, they do want him. He’s drafted against his wishes. But not like he’s some John McClane type reluctant hero. He doesn’t want to go because he’s unqualified. He’s not a warrior, he’s an Arab poet who got too flirty with some caliph’s girl or something so they made him an ambassador and sent him packing, the poet equivalent of the alternate ending of TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. where he gets transferred to Alaska. Ahmad ends up hanging out with these “Northmen,” or vikings. Their king has just died and gone to Valhalla to kick it V.I.P. (vikings in paradise) style, but Ahmed is taken in by the heir apparent Buliwyf (Vladimir Kulich), shown some of their ways and pushed into service with this dirty baker’s dozen on a mission to protect a village that’s been attacked by monsters that come from the fog, ravage villages and tear off people’s heads. And they take the heads with them when they leave. Choppers keepers. (read the rest of this shit…)

Barbarian Queen / Barbarian Queen II: The Empress Strikes Back

Monday, August 4th, 2014

tn_barbarianqueen“I’ll be no man’s slave and no man’s whore. And if I can’t kill them all then by the gods they’ll know I tried.”

BARBARIAN QUEEN (1985)

I’m not saying BARBARIAN QUEEN would be great under other circumstances either, but especially watching it right after HUNDRA it seems like kind of a waste. Obviously Roger Corman and/or his people saw that movie and thought “oh shit, we can do a CONAN rip-off but with boobs!” So it’s another sword-wielding woman who overcomes medieval evil, but you’re never really sure how pro-woman it is. As often as they have tough warrior women defeating men in sword fights they seem to have them getting pinned down and having their tops torn off. It happens so much I’m thinking maybe they think the audience is supposed to enjoy it more than root against it.

She even gets hung topless on a rack for a long period and it’s not really treated like a traumatic event. And the wort part is it seems like they could’ve done fine in the titillation department without all that shit. The costume department obviously worked really hard on all the cleavage display all throughout the movie, and then they just get shown up by these boobs ‘n torture scenes. (read the rest of this shit…)

Hercules

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

tn_herculesI don’t know what you people are thinking not wanting to see a new Hercules movie starring Dwayne T.R. Johnson. The motherfucker grew a beard and wore a lion on his head and somehow increased his workout from what it was before, and yet the world acts like there’s nothing to see here. Here we have a movie star who we have all anointed an icon, an actor who combines the charm of George Clooney with the cartoonish physicality of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has entertained us many times but who still hasn’t quite found that great movie vehicle he deserves. And he has decided to use his impossibly giant muscles to lift up the sorely missed genre of the macho sword and sandal b-movie. Just on principle people like us should be taking time off work to see this thing, but all my friends, people I work alongside, who I admire and respect, just respond to the existence of HERCULES with a “ho hum” or a “ha ha.”

Yeah, I know the reason. With everything going on in Gaza right now, and in Russia and the Ukraine, it’s hard to really put our minds on something so trivial nah just fucking with you it’s because this was directed by Brett Ratner.

(read the rest of this shit…)

Hundra

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

tn_hundra“What manner of woman would meddle in men’s affairs?”

One thing I’ve noticed in these Barbarian movies, Barbaria seems to be a very male-dominated society, even more than our own. You remember what Conan the Barbarian-American said about “the lamentation of their women.” Women are treated as sex slaves, whores, treasure, at best babymakers. That’s why HUNDRA is so cool. This is the feminist Barbarian movie. This is about a woman that lives in that same savage world, but flat out refuses to take any shit.

“Many of our women preferred to bear arms rather than children,” the narrator says. “The champion of these was…

HUNDRA.”

Hundra (Laurene Landon, MANIAC COP 1-2) is from a tribe of all women. In order to keep their race going some of them periodically venture out to use men for their “seed,” but that’s not Hundra’s thing. The only man in her life is her dog Beast, who is a total coward who runs away any time in the movie that there’s danger. She says it’s because he’s a male. This is actually a very successful use of animal-related comic relief. It really made me laugh to see that little shit make a run for it before each major action scene, then conveniently show up again in peacetime.

One lady in the tribe nags Hundra about her responsibility to “bring life into the tribe” and “bring a successor,” but Hundra just makes fun of her. “I prefer the feel of a horse between my legs to that of swine, and it pleasures me instead of pains me.” If she was out trying to find some meat then who would go out and get the actual meat, you know what I mean? (read the rest of this shit…)