Enemy

tn_enemyENEMY is a weird, spooky thriller that director Denis Villaneuve and star Jake Gyllenhaal did right before PRISONERS. The arthouse freakout before the expensive studio drama that Lee Daniels got fired from. PRISONERS made me pay attention to the former and gain new respect for the latter, so here I am watching ENEMY.

Gyllenhaal plays a depressed college history professor who rents a movie one day and notices that the part of Bellhop #3 is played by a guy who looks exactly like him. Creepy. He does some detective work and tracks down the actor, who also has his same voice and an identical scar. He’s not sure what the fuck is going on, and he’s fascinated, but he’s weird about it. He calls and confuses the guy’s poor wife. (read the rest of this shit…)

Guardians of the Galaxy

tn_guardiansPeter “Star Lord” Quill (Chris Pratt, ZERO DARK THIRTY) is a wannabe legendary space outlaw, a good fighter with a cool breather mask and ship who takes gigs from unsavory characters retrieving rare objects and stuff. A Transporter, if you will. When he finds something called “the orb” for a scary space guy with the scary space name of Rhonan the Accuser, he learns that it endangers everybody in the galaxy, and he decides he’s against that. So he teams up with an alien lady trying to snatch it from him (Zoe Saldana, but green this time instead of AVATAR blue), two bounty hunters trying to capture him (Bradley Cooper [MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN] and Vin Diesel, both voicing cartoons), and a psycho they met in prison (Dave Bautista, RIDDICK) to try to get it somewhere safe, wherever the fuck that would be. I don’t think they discuss throwing it into a volcano like a lord of the rings would do. (read the rest of this shit…)

Barbarian Queen / Barbarian Queen II: The Empress Strikes Back

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…)

Lucy

tn_lucyLUCY is the new movie by Luc Besson and his first directorial work since… THE MESSENGER? … to be noticed much in the U.S. He had supposedly retired from directing after ANGEL-A in 2005, but then he made another one of those ARTHUR children’s movies and by 2010 he was doing THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ADELE BLANC-SEC (which I liked) and fuck it, he was still a director. Last year he did THE FAMILY with Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfeiffer (which I, like most Americans, haven’t gotten around to yet) but now all the sudden he has this LUCY and it’s a big hit, opening much bigger than The Rock’s HERCULES even though that one is PG-13. (There actually was a point early in LUCY where I thought to myself “Oh good, they do still make R-rated movies.”)

Scarlett Johansson plays the titlogical Lucy, a student in Taiwan when her douchebag boyfriend of one week (a Donal-Logue-at-a-rave type dude with a shitty cowboy hat and yellow-tinted glasses) gets her involved against her will with some ruthless gangsters led by Choi Min-sik (OLDBOY). She doesn’t speak the language so she barely knows what’s going on by the time she has a bag of experimental drugs (actually blue pop rocks I think) sewn into her belly for clandestine transport.

(read the rest of this shit…)

Blue Ruin

tn_blueruinI don’t know what this has to do with BLUE JASMINE, but it’s pretty good as a standalone.

I saw alot of film festival acclaim for BLUE RUIN as a movie about how bad and ugly revenge actually is. I gotta tell you I was skeptical, because I didn’t want to hear some joyless lecture about the wrongness of something most of us never experience, especially as punishment for our inherent enjoyment of classic action movie formula. DEATH SENTENCE and others prove you can make that point and still have fun.

Luckily my assumptions were unfounded. As the writer Harry once told Flavor Flav, “Don’t believe the hype.” BLUE RUIN isn’t trying to teach us a lesson, it’s actually a fairly traditional and enjoyable thriller about a murder and ensuing mess, spiraling out of control like that time the Cat in the Hat came over and ate cake in the bath tub. It’s just that it comes from young independent filmatists so it feels more like it’s happening to some dude you know than the usual slick Hollywood players. It’s quiet, naturalistic, and you have to piece together the backstory from what’s happening, you don’t get alot of obvious exposition. The avenger is a pretty non-descript nerd named Dwight (Macon Blair). Big, sunken eyes, a little doughy, bad haircut, no cool motorcycle jacket or shades or nothin. Just a normal guy. Could work at Best Buy or something.
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Hercules

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…)

trailer: MERCENARIES

Well, looks like on August 8th (on VOD and in theaters most likely not near you) we will get the first of the long-promised “female Expendables” movies.

The good news: Zoe Bell, Cynthia Rothrock, Vivica A. Fox, Kristanna Loken, and Brigitte Nielsen as the villain (which I’ve been saying they should do for a while, though I guess I hadn’t thought of it when we first discussed this). The bad news: produced by The Asylum. Also, director Christopher Ray (MEGA SHARK VS. CROCOSAURUS, 2-HEADED SHARK ATTACK, ASTEROID VS. EARTH) also has one coming out called PRISON RAID with pretty much the exact same cast, so who knows how much thought and care they might’ve put into either one of them. Or one of them might be all outtakes.

I’ll give it a shot, though. It’s also worth noting that Asylum is about to work with a world class director known for transcending the limitations of his chosen formats. Z Nation is the name of their upcoming 13-episode zombie tv show for SyFy. Sounds like Asylum Walking Dead, which sounds like the worst thing ever, but the pilot is directed by John Hyams. I read somewhere that he was also the show-runner, but the SyFy websight lists some other guy, so maybe not. Anyway, I’m keeping my fingers crossed, which makes it hard to type but I’m doing it.

trailer for FALCON RISING starring MJW

We finally have a new Michael Jai White vehicle on the way, and here’s the trailer.

Falcon Rising – Trailer from Moonstone Entertainment on Vimeo.

Somehow MJW hasn’t had an action movie role since 2011 (when he co-starred in TACTICAL FORCE and NEVER BACK DOWN 2), and he hasn’t had a starring action role since his DTV classic BLOOD AND BONE in 2009. The producers of FALCON RISING recognize this problem so they are pre-planning this as a franchise. If they stick to the plan then White’s character John “Falcon” Chapman will doing flying kicks on motherfuckers in different exotic locations each year. This is of course the Brazil chapter.

It looks like Neal McDonough plays his boss, and his sister (who gets kidnapped, I think) is played by Muhammad Ali’s daughter Laila. Not surprisingly considering the setting, Lateef Crowder (capoeira fighter who’s in THE PROTECTOR and UNDISPUTED III) is also in it. Larnell Stovall (UNDISPUTED III, NEVER BACK DOWN 2, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING) choreographed the fights. At one point I read that Isaac Florentine (where are you, man?) was gonna direct this, but it ended up being Ernie Barbarash. Not as much of a sure bet, but I remember thinking his Van Damme/Adkins team-up ASSASSINATION GAMES was pretty decent.

Allegedly this will have a theatrical release September 5th, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Vern Tells It Like It Is: Why I think MAN OF STEEL gets a bum rap

VTILIIlogotn_mosI already wrote about MAN OF STEEL twice. First a review, then a second-viewing followup. Now here I am again, and for that I am truly sorry. But Superman is kind of like a new Batman, one of the inescapable topics in movie nerd discussions. With news stories about BATMAN VINCENT SUPERMAN popping up weekly, and internet bitterness (or binternet for short) toward MAN OF STEEL still lingering, I keep getting slapped with this persistent conventional wisdom that I just can’t abide. This is my attempt at a definitive rebuttal so I can get it off my chest and finally let it go and say “fly away, little Superman movie. Be free!”

MAN OF STEEL, The Internet says, is not true to the beautiful historic American history of the holy Superman, because this version doesn’t bother to rescue people, and he kills thousands of innocents. When I first heard this complaint, right after my first viewing of the movie, I wasn’t sure which part they were referring to where he kills all these people. I thought maybe I missed something. When I saw it again I looked for it and decided that whoever said that just wasn’t paying attention, or maybe it’s one of those easter eggs where you gotta look up on the internet the exact spot where they stuck it in there for the true fans to notice when they pause it and look at it upside with a magnifying glass. It’s not visible to the layman’s eye, I thought, so it must be some shit only Superweirdos would know about.

But then I started to hear it more. It comes up in every Badass Digest post about super heroes (especially in the comments), it came up in GODZILLA reviews, it comes up in the comments here, one of my buddies even said it to me in person when I started to tell him about what I was working on here. So this is like the end of the book I Am Legend. (spoiler for the end of the book I Am Legend.) It turns out I was the Superweirdo the whole time.

But let me plead my case. I’m not gonna convince any of you to like MAN OF STEEL, but I want to illustrate in detail why I don’t think this popular interpretation is supported by the actual movie.

(no disrespect intended to any of the websights, writers or commenters quoted or referred to here)

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Holyshitmadmaxfuryroad

More than a decade after he almost started filming it with Mel Gibson, we finally have a trailer for George Miller’s return to the world of flipping cars and weirdo punk savages. Honestly I almost teared up watching this. Ladies and gentlemen, this is what we’re fighting for.

My thoughts can best be expressed in punctuation.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!… !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!