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.

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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.

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

Superman: The Movie

tn_supermanSUPERMAN: THE MOVIE (not to be confused with Superman: The Imitation Pasteurized Process Cheese Spread) is an important movie. It was the first big comic book super hero picture, and an early entry in the world of post-STAR WARS blockbusters that shaped today’s generation of filmatists. By casting Marlon Brando as Joe L. Superman (plus  Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor and Glenn Ford as Pa Kent), director Richard (LETHAL WEAPON) Donner set the precedent, still in place today, that big respected actors in supporting roles can add credibility to a super hero picture. And by casting only-one-movie-under-his-belt Christopher Reeve as Kal L. “Clark Kent” Superman he showed that sometimes a fresh face is better than a familiar veteran to play an iconic character. That later worked for Wolverine (whose first movie was executive produced by Donner), Thor and two subsequent Supermen. (Other actors who were supposedly on the producers’ wish list: Al Pacino, James Caan, Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood, Dustin Hoffman and [why not?] Muhammad Ali. Any one of those would’ve automatically been a completely different movie.)
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A Time To Die

tn_timetodieI found A TIME TO DIE in the action section, and it looks like an action vehicle for Traci Lords. On the cover she’s holding a gun in front of some burning vehicles and she looks awesome. But that’s not exactly what this is, there’s not alot of action. I’m gonna go ahead and classify it as “crime” to be less misleading. A few people get shot, and there’s a car chase where an unrelated car crashes and blows up. And the one part at the beginning where she crushes a dude’s balls (pictured left). But you’re not gonna see Traci Lords doing karate or anything. It’s more of a suspense-drama I guess.

But I kinda liked it. It has all the hallmarks of a generic and at times amateurish thriller, but it keeps surprising with extra bits of personality. Take for example the opening scene, where an arms deal is going on on the roof of a building, and one of the dealers gets mad ’cause a kid sets off the alarm on his car in the alley below. He yells at the kid, and the kid gets offended and lays on top of the car just to fuck with him. The dealer loses his temper and shoots the kid, fucking up the whole deal.

This is not the introduction of the bad guys, and the kid is not a brother or friend of Jackie (Lords) who needs to get avenged. It’s just a weird incident that she reports to as a crime scene photographer. (read the rest of this shit…)

Inspirational artwork for the day

Carsten P. Dietrich, who is a regular poster here, sent me a great Seagal picture he did that I thought needed to be shared. He described it as a scene from “that animated prequel to UNDER SIEGE, where we see Ryback going on various black-ops missions whilst regularly flashing back to his youth on the streets of Japan etc.” It kind of reminds me of those Hungarian comic book adaptations we were talking about a little while ago. And there’s a cameo in the picture relating to an implied back story from the movie.

seagalCPD

Click on the clipping to see the whole picture on Carsten’s tumbler.

He also shared with me his cartoon portraits of Mad Max and Snake Plissken, and going through his archives I saw a couple Riddick and a John McClane (specifically from A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD, but that makes it more unique).

This might open the floodgates to write this but maybe that’s not a bad thing: I know alot of you are great artists who have sent me badass cinema related links like this, should I start posting some of them from time to time?

Speed 2: Cruise Control

tn_speed2I never watched SPEED 2 before. When I decided the day had come I actually got excited about it for a minute. Wait, so there’s a studio blockbuster in the DIE HARD or UNDER SIEGE type of subgenre that I haven’t seen? What was I waiting for? I mean, I know it was almost unanimously hated, and that it was an early example of the PG-13-sequel-to-R-rated-action-movie, but when has that stopped me before? I am an individual with an open mind and an open heart. I am ready to welcome SPEED 2 into the hospitality of my mental space.

I thought. But the mob was right on this one. SPEED 2 is pretty sucky. It’s the SPEED 2 of SPEED sequels.
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Speed

tn_speedDo you guys know about SPEED? It’s like GRAND PIANO with a bus! An L.A. public bus that requires the very precise driving of not going below 50 mph or it will blow up. Even if it went through a school zone it could not slow down to avoid crunching the little ones under its wheels. That’s fucked up! I mean they don’t run into that problem in the movie but jesus, bad guy mastermind, think of the children.

It’s no mystery to us, this is the work of bomber-for-ransom Dennis Hopper (TICKER), who in a pre-bus sequence tries a similar job on an elevator full of Patrick Bateman types, but is foiled by Jeff Daniels (BLOOD WORK) and his young gum-chewing sidekick Keanu Reeves (MAN OF TAI CHI). This was after POINT BREAK but before THE MATRIX, so Keanu as the lead in a big action movie was still a new notion to the world. But what are you gonna do, the Jeff Daniels character gets shot and taken off the streets, it’s just not in the cards for it to be a kickass Jeff Daniels vehicle. I’m sorry.
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