I hope you brought eye protection because there will be a lot of bile flying around on this one.
I know I was only supposed to do the worst 10 to match my best 10 from last post but honestly the field was so thick with candidates I didn’t think I could limit myself. Remember writing these posts is more for my benefit than anyone else and after most of last year I have a lot of pent up movie frustration to expunge in a literary orgy of tortured metaphors, run on sentences, and analogies to horrible sexual, scatological, and blasphemous images.
Once again I can only list the films I saw. I’m sure there are plenty out there that make these films look cinematographic masterpieces rather than the pond scum that they are but I don’t have the time or inclination to seek them out. I will also say that while most of these movies truly do suck they serve some function if only to give us perspective. Without these 15 films to set the bar low enough to trip a wiener dog the worst film last year would have been Parker or Stand Up Guys. The scripts of those films should have been used as radiation shielding at Fukushima but it did have a few watch-worthy moments and if you were passed out in front of your TV the subliminal suckage your subconscious mind absorbed would not have been TOO damaging. There’s always a low man on the totem pole and if you can’t identify him it’s probably you.
15. G.I. Joe Retaliation. Imagine if you will a reproductive artist creates the ultimate sculpture of a giant pile of poo. It is flawless in every detail, with just the right proportion of corn to excrement and moisture glistening in the carefully positioned lighting in way guaranteed to bring a tear to the eye of any coprophile. Literally a polished turd so perfect and flawless you can almost smell it. Well, that is pretty much what G.I. Joe Retaliation was; a perfect, flawless representation of the sewage outflow of Hollywood action movies. Well executed, but at the end of the day it’s still based on s&$&.
14. Jack the Giant Slayer. Some films take classic literature and tell a cool story with neat twists that makes you appreciate the classic tale with a warm satisfied sense of childhood nostalgia. Others take the stories and molest them in ways no amount of therapy or drinking will ever blot from your memory. This is definitely the latter type. I have a problem with great literature being beaten into a shape that appeals to the brain softening “creative” people of certain companies who’s name may or man not rhyme with “fisney”. This movie would worth your time if you feel the need to see Ian McShane in his douchiest role ever (until they cast him as Douchy McDouchalot, the lead singer of the Douchetones). Normally a crappy period piece at least has some redemption available in the costumes but outfits in this film would embarrass a troupe of transvestite circus clowns.
13. 21 & Over. This one ended up at 13 but to be honest it could have ended anywhere. I know I watched it. I know I wrote 1,343 words about the experience. I think there was an Asian guy and two naked white guys in it. However, except for those details I can’t for the life of me recall this film. I had to read my own review in detail in order to even consider it. Now, I wouldn’t call myself an expert on film theory or legitimate film criticism but it seems to me a movie that is so forgettable that I can’t remember a single scene from it six months later just might be a bad one. I’m just saying. Anyway, it’s foggy nature puts it in the relatively harmless position of number 13, but if I were actually able to recall it odds are it would have ended up lower.
12. Spring Breakers. I’m now at the point that I reach every year while writing this where I want to make every film left the number one worst movie. The funny thing is I don’t have such a hard time with the best films. I will give this film some credit for at least attempting something out of the box and having some white trash nudity, but realistically this film was a laughable joke that wasn’t actually funny. However if you are into scenes being repeated ad nauseam and chicks in bikinis dancing in slow motion while some frat boy squirts water all over them then this or the latest Girls Gone Wild is the film for you.
11. A Good Day to Die Hard. This film may very well show up again when it comes time to hand out the special awards (cough cough Franchise Killer of the Year cough cough). Hollywood in many ways is resembling a vampire stuck forever in an old mausoleum, breaking open caskets to suck on the dry bones of past films in the desperate attempt to find the slightest hint of moisture and blood remaining. John McClane was a staple of my youth. This film is a staple in my taco. This is why if you are going to do a sequel to a classic it is worth talking to the director of the classic if only so he can tell you what you are doing to the series it tantamount to a body cavity search. Or at least watch the original.
10. After Earth. Sci fi movies should never be done by people who aren’t actually sci fi fans. I mean, you wouldn’t go see your lawyer to have your gall bladder removed, would you? Similarly you wouldn’t go to a science fiction movie to unwittingly learn about a religion popular among celebrities invented by a writer if some mediocre sci fi novels that involves the spirits of dead aliens would you? I see this movie as evidence that Will Smith grossly overestimates his and his families star power. The thought process seems to be “Sure, we can write a boring script filled with plot holes, bad science, weird ideology, and have it star my box office unproven son while I yell at him over a radio and it will be successful because I AM A CINEMA GOD!” Well I guess you are not. Also this film has pretty put the final nail in the coffin of my admiration of M. Night Shyamalan (which started dying as the final credits for Unbreakable began to roll).
9. Machete Kills. This film was supposed to be a spoof on bad film making but it seems to have forgotten the spoof part. The first Machete was a fun spoof. This is just all the pain of a bad film with none of the humor. I mean, all the potential good of this very concept had already been milked dry in the first one, leaving us with the corpse to watch decay for two hours. Also someone grab Robert Rodriguez and tell him a crappy joke doesn’t get funnier when you redo it 4-5 times.
8. R.I.P.D. Now I’m at the point where I have to decide which movies would literally cause me less pain to watch a second time and of the eight remaining films on my list this one is only a modest beating. Honestly this film is more boring than painful (although it is also painful) so I guess if I needed a massive dose of Ambien and couldn’t find a street dealer it would work in a pinch. Also if the last thing on your bucket list is to see Rooster Cogburn join the Ghostbusters this would let you die in peace. However it is in all ways awful and deserves to be buried in a shallow grave outside of Kettleman City California.
7. The Counselor. Can’t I just take this and the next six films and call them all the worst films of 2013? Ridley Scott, what happened to you? Honestly this film sounds like the opening scene to a Ridley Scott remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers wherein an acclaimed director comes out with a dull, convoluted, and pointless film much to the confoundment of his fans and a humble reviewer of a very minor blog is compelled to investigate, discovering the current Ridley Scott to have been grown in a pod in his garden and the real Ridley Scott is now Soylent Green. I wasn’t looking for another Aliens necessarily but at the same time I didn’t expect to see the Heaven’s Gate of the 21st century.
6. Hansel & Gretal. This and the next five films collectively could be considered a crime against humanity if shown back to back so the actual order is really kind of irrelevant. The reasons this film is number 6 rather than 3 or 2 is because there was one really, really excellent nude scene and because while the movie sucked like 10,000 Romora eels at least I liked the concept. Kind of a Brothers Grimm version of Vampire$ (the book not the movie. Thinking of the Vampire$ movie just made me throw up a little in my mouth. Thanks a lot, Hansel & Gretel). Also I find it amusing that Jeremy Renner is now a big star but had this stinker back in his closet and the studio opted to capitalize on his recent fame by embarrassing the crap out of him. BTW in answer to the question that I know is burning through her mind yes Gemma Arterton I will marry you in spite of your participation in subjecting me to this monstrosity. In fact it seems the least you can do.
5. A Big Wedding. A big failure, really. We are really scraping the bottom of the barrel (and yet, I still have four movies to talk about). This has everything I hate about assemblage story telling along with all of the assorted stories being ass too. This film is like cutting up 14 of the worst episodes of Threes Company and randomly sewing them together like the Movie Centipede. The reasons why it is number 5 and not number 1 is first off like Hansuck & Regretal it had the most pleasantly surprising nude scene ever (it was like being force to grind up broken glass by chewing on it only to find one of glass fragments you just destroyed your mouth with was actually a decent diamond) and for the fact that this is the only film in my top 5 that did not sully the world of nerd interests. It was not sci fi, supernatural, or interesting.
4. Getaway. I guess pointless, convoluted, plot hole infested stories is a thing for me as 3 of my 15 could accurately be described as such. This one takes it to a new level. I’m not sure what brain parasite ate into Ethan Hawke in order to make him think this script was worth doing but he should get a brain flush immediately (also known as firing his agent). Also, I guess every year I need to have one star end up twice on this list. Last year it was Ryan Reynolds (who only appears once here, a 50% improvement! Well done Ryan) and this year it is Selena Gomez. I honestly don’t hate her as an actor but she is drawn to bad films like a baby seal to the business end of a club and in this one she felt as natural and unforced as Tom Servo, Crow, and Joel do in any episode of MST3K (with the exception that I would have been very glad to see the Satellite of Love crew in this bomb). Also if you are going to force in some eye candy can you have her wear something other than a hoodie?
3. Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters. Ha ha ha. There are days when I really love doing this, and when handed teenie bopper tripe like this and the next two films (you might see a pattern in my bottom three films) I start to salivate like Jason Voorhees stumbling across a college cheerleader camp (Friday the 13th image from the Horror Movie T Shirt category BTW). It is saying a lot when I tell you that this movie was actually worse than Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. I think Hollywood is perplexed as to why all their attempts to ignite a new vampire-ish teenage franchise keeps falling on it’s face like a drunk with a broken beer bottle stuck in the back of it’s head but I think I have an answer. This stems from my experience in the skateboard market. You see until the last cycle skateboarding tended to follow a 7 year cycle where a bunch of kids would get into it for a time making it the biggest thing out there only to have most of them realize that skateboarding is hard, dangerous, and hurts (the last cycle was extended by one thing: Tony Hawk Pro Skater. It’s way easier to dress like a skateboarder and play a video game about it than actually get on a board). It troughs out until the next group of testosterone rediscovers it. I think all the morons who fell for Twilight have had their fill and all the younger kids who would be those morons are so turned off by the first group that they refuse to get into it. I’d say Hollywoods best bet would be to let the sparkly vampire genre lie fallow for another 6-7 years and try again. Meanwhile let the Hunger Games have it’s day. Really, though, there can be only one.
2. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. See everything I just said about Percy Jackson and then multiply that times some of the most odious characters since Divine from Pink Flamingos. While Percy Jackson gets a bit of applause for the effort behind it, this film I would happily see get run over by a combine. Also, with a $60 million budget you would think they could do fake tattoos that didn’t look like a high school kid doodling on his arm with a Marks-a-lot. The entire cast should be wedgied daily, with the blond main kid getting a covered wagon. In my review I gave a list of reasons why this film sucks that resembles the invite list of the worlds biggest wedding. I know most of Hollywood is either completely brain damaged or thinks we the audience are but is a decent story and some direction so hard to accomplish? It’s not like there aren’t examples of what a good movie should be. Next time rent a couple of Scorsese films and when it comes time to make your film do what he does.
1. The Host. You don’t have to be Nostradamus to have predicted that this film would be my number one. It’s the perfect storm as far as I’m concerned: a story style I hate written by an author I have contempt for for an audience I despise in a genre I love. For me she is like Cruella Deville except instead of making her fur coat out of her own Dalmatians she came to my house, skinned my puppy alive in front of me, and sewed it into her jacket still bleeding. Fortunately I was able to let the air out of her movie by illustrating in graphic detail exactly how much it sucked. If this film were placed in a time capsule and opened in 5,000 years by Doctor Who he would probably come back here and give the Daleks a detailed map of how to get to Earth. Awful in every regard unless you are really turned on by cute but bland chicks (where else have we seen that formula used…?).
So that’s my list. Do I feel better now that I have dumped on these cinema surgical remnants? Yes. Yes I do. Have I made the world a better place because of all the reviews I did last year? Well, since I’m sure no one in Hollywood would ever deign to read my blog or ever take any of my criticism to heart in one sense no, not at all. On the other hand if even one of you, my beloved readers, opted to see a great film or avoid an eye raping thanks to what I have written over this last year then yes I believe I have. So my special awards are still to come up and I have a big backlog of new movies to see (I was in LA this last weekend and didn’t get to see anything) so look for more reviews coming up soon. If you have any comments on this list or these movies feel free to post them here and if you have any off topic questions or suggestions email me at email@example.com. Thanks and have a great week.
A mixed bag of good and bad.
I’ll admit it has been years since I read Enders Game. In fact I think I read it when it was a novella (the book actually went through several revisions) as when I went home and reviewed the story it was closer to the movie than I remember. It was a good book, and good source material for a decent movie. However, what we got seemed to alternate between good and seat squirming bad.
The biggest issue here is the pacing. The book is a tremendous story (actually several different stories, depending on which version you read. Orson Scott Card likes to match his book to the political clime) that takes place over six years. This movie tries to incorporate all that but in truth leaves the entire movie rushed and feeling like there are a lot of missing scenes. The whole development of Ender as a military genius had a very organic approach, with him and his friends at age six figuring out how to beat the other teams in the zero gravity game. In time they become a very tight group who knew each other instinctively and worked together as a team. In this film it all seems to come together like a portrait made by tossing cans of paint into a tree shredder. All of a sudden there is a completed mess and not a dook of an idea how it all came together. I honestly am going to blame this on the director not being willing to cast several boys to play Ender at different ages.
Another problem is this film more or less starts off with the base assumption that Ender is the savior of the human race and everyone is just there to help him realize it. In the book he was just another kid recruited into the Battle School and over time exhibited his command potential, along with certain psychotic personality traits.
Yet another issue that the movie actually shares with the book is the squirmingly inappropriateness of recruiting preteen children to fight wars. It’s actually harder to watch here than in the book (although the book started them off at six). When you see a bunch of kids together your brain wants to channel a Disney film, and to then see a bad imitation of Gunnery Sergent Hartman from Full Metal Jacket yell and scream at them like they are in Li’l Tykes boot camp is just dumb. The whole time you see these kids learning to fight you can’t help but feel that this is just wrong on so many levels. One of the adult characters more or less says the same thing by mentioning that using anyone under the age of 15 to fight is a war crime, but the issue washes off the screen and is never really approached again.
On the other hand the film is very pretty if you like long video game trailers, and all the acting exceptional. I am a huge Ben Kingsley fan and he looks weirdly great with face tattoos. Harrison Ford is a welcome presence on any screen for me, and Asa Butterfield pulled his role off nicely. Like I said, there is a lot of good here too.
The story starts off with a personal bee in my jock strap, a monolog about how the Formics invaded Earth and were defeated by a hero named Mazer Rackham (I wish Hollywood would realize how out of the film a monolog really takes us. It is a lazy directors tool to get around actually having to film something). Skip forward 60 years and the Earth forces are preparing for the next big push on the Formics by training children (in the book the training took the form of increasingly complicated games (kind of like the title of this movie) but here it is all classroom stuff) to be the soldiers. Ender (Asa Butterfield-Hugo, the Boy in the Striped Pajamas, the Wolfman. Image courtesy of the Horror Movie T Shirt category (yes I know it’s not the same Wolfman. I only have so many resources)) beats another kid in a game and gets bullied by him afterwards. He beats the kid near to death and is expelled from the program.
Meanwhile Col. Graff (Harrison Ford-Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Blade Runner) decides that the cold blooded psychotic approach Ender took with the bully might be just what they need and with Major Anderson (Viola Davis-the Help, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Won’t Back Down) re-recruit him. He goes into orbit where Graff purposely alienates him for some reason (there was a lot of missing motivation in this film too) and he is more or less hated by his classmates. They don’t do any of the zero gravity games that were such a big part of the book until Ender is transferred to another group. There he has to deal with miserable bully Bonzo (Moises Arias-Hannah Montana, Despicable Me 2, the Kings of Summer) but meets good friend (and closest thing to a romance) Petra (Hailee Steinfeld-True Grit, She’s a Fox, Romeo & Juliet).
There he gets pushed around by Bonzo until he excels and is given his own army. His army beats Bonzo, who takes it the wrong way and tries to beat him up. In the fight Endor cracks Bonzo’s skull for him (in the book I think Bonzo dies) and feels so badly he resigns (again, missing motivation here really). Graff gets Enders sister Valentine (Abigail Breslin-Zombieland, Signs, Little Miss Sunshine) to talk him back. Once back in orbit he trains more. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t read the book so sufficed to say aliens/human space battle is joined.
Visually stunning, with great CGI and special effects. Camera work was really good too. Two stars. All the acting and casting was excellent, especially Asa and Harrison. Two stars. Sci fi movie. One star. Sci fi movie based on a book that made a strong effort to remain true to the book. One star. Ben Kingsley. One star. In the end a decent time watching. Two stars. Total: nine stars.
The black holes:
The pacing issues really hurt the story, giving you little connection to the continuity of the plot and consequently made me not really get invested into the characters. A lot of good stuff got cut out I think. Two black holes. The whole child soldier thing was really off putting. One black hole. There were a lot of unexplained motivations, like why Ender even wanted to be in the program and then later why did he quit? One black hole. The ending, while true to the book, was truly underwhelming and opened up a whole new box of unanswered questions. I guess they are setting up for the movie version of Speaker of the Dead, but while Enders Game was great that book was garbage. Bottom line the whole movie kind of puttered out. One black hole. Total: five black holes.
A total of four stars. Decent, but based on having seen about 100,000 trailers all of which seemed more interesting and exciting than the actual movie I was expecting more. I’ve noticed that I tend to come down harder on films that are based on books I have read, but I really tried to see this film as a stand alone project. Should you see it? If you read the book, like science fiction, and are not bothered by pacing and continuity issues absolutely. See it on the biggest screen you can track down. It will be worth it. Date movie? Probably not. There isn’t the slightest whiff of romance in this film, and the cute kid is kind of off putting as a young sociopath. I’d choose something else, although I don’t know what based on what is out right now. Kind of a dearth of date friendly movies. Maybe Free Birds?
Thanks for reading as always. I’ll try to see at least one more movie this weekend. Maybe two. Follow me on Twitter for review announcements. If you have a comment on this film or my review feel free to post them here, but I get a lot of spam so don’t hate me if I accidentally delete it. If you have an off topic question or suggestion feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks and have a great night.
If the plan was to make a halfway decent action movie I guess it succeeded.
I actually saw this almost a week ago and haven’t gotten around to writing it up. I’m not sure why I have been less than motivated. I guess because this film is neither brilliant or bad. Middle of the road is dead boring for me to write up.
This film tanked horrible at the box office, a fact that does not bode well for the action careers of either Stallone or Governor Schwarzenegger (both of whom had other action films flop recently; most notably Bullet to the Head for Sly and the Last Stand for the Gov). While none of the recent crop of action films are worthy of winning an award of some kind (unless the NRA is giving out awards for ammo expenditure) none of them could be considered really horrible (except for A Good Day to Die Hard, but that should go without saying), thus leaving us with the question as to why all our classic action heroes are failing.
Honestly, I think it’s a change in the nature of the audience. If you look at what is popular in TV, movie, and music male stars it is no longer muscled burly manly men but rather girls who happen to have been born with a penis. Sure they might have the chiseled abs of a Greek statue but when you get up close they are just girly men who are in really good shape. Most of them look like you could knock them unconscious with a feather duster. The guys who actually look like men are relegated to the level of villain (and even most of those guys are girlish).
This bodes ill for the future of the action movie genre in my opinion. Can you name a new action hero worth anything in the last few years? The most recent new guy would have to be Jason Stratham, but even his films like Parker are sucking bad. Guns, guts, and brawn are no longer enough to make for box office success. You need fit, non threatening man/boys who girls can identify with.
The other issue with the new “breed” of action hero is most of them will never be capable of creating a legacy. Say what you will about Bruce Lee, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris, or any of the others but at the end of the day they each could kick your ass seven ways to Sunday. Not only do they look dangerous, but you know they are dangerous. I suppose there is some hope derived from Dwayne Johnson, but if he keeps doing kid friendly comedies the genre is doomed. (Expendables image courtesy of the movie t-shirt category)
By the way, Stallone must have a thing for prison escape films. As far as I can tell this is the third film wherein he escapes from a maximum security prison. The other two I can think of are Lockup and Tango and Cash (eww. You made me think of Tango and Cash. Thanks a lot, Escape Plan). Also didn’t Schwarzenegger start off the Running Man buy escaping from a prison?
I’m not going to say this film is all that. In fact, if I were to dissect it with my usual cruel precision I could find any number of dumb issued to take up with it. However, you don’t got to SDSU for a quality education and you don’t go to Chuck E. Cheese’s to buy crystal meth, although you may find either by coincidence if you are lucky or unlucky. You go to an action movie to see action, and if by happy coincidence a quality movie lands in your lap happy day!
The story starts out with Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone-Rocky, Rambo, Copland) in prison effecting a masterful breakout. Turns out he is a security expert hired by the prison system to make sure prisons are escape proof. He is aided by his partner Lester (Vincent D’Onofrio-Full Metal Jacket(Gomer Pyle!), Ed Wood, the Cell), his tech sidekick (50 Cent-Real Steel, the Hangover, White Chicks) and kinda hot girl Abagail (Amy Ryan-Before the Devil Knows You are Dead, Win Win, Gone Baby Gone). He breaks out of prison only to be hired by a CIA lawyer to test out a brand new top secret prison.
Once inside the prison he discovers it to be unlike any other he has ever seen. They are in giant glass cubes with jackbooted, masked guards. There he meets Emil Rottmeyer (Arnold Schwarzenegger-the Terminator, Predator, Kindergarten Cop) and warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel-the Thin Red Line, Person of Interest, the Count of Monte Cristo). This is his first sign that something is wrong as the warden was supposed to be someone else.
For some reason the people who hired him want him to not get out ever (this at first seemed to be a major plot hole but later resolved itself nicely). Emil befriends him and starts working on his escape plan. At that point you know all you need to know about the story, except that the entire plot relies entirely on a series of fortuitous coincidences that would embarrass a Harry Potter novel. Deus ex machina-ago-go.
Natch I have to give a star each for Stallone and the Terminator. No matter how bad a film may be they always put a happy smile on my face. Two stars. The story, while far fetched, was a little more complicated than the typical action film these days. One star. As I sit here thinking about it I realize it was kind of original, something I thought was verboten in Hollywood these days. One star. I actually enjoy any escape plan movie (or high tech burglary movie, for that matter). One star. At the end of the film I decided I had had fun (to my surprise). Two stars. Total: seven stars.
The black holes.
The biggest anchor on this film is the respective egos of both of the two stars. Neither one of them is willing to be anything less than the coolest, most actiony action star on the screen and it gets a little ridiculous after a while. Two black holes. The whole plot could have fallen apart if it weren’t for the writer holding it up with coincidence after coincidence like a father running along side a kid trying to learn to ride a bicycle. One black hole. For a movie that started off as kind of a thinker it shifts gears in the last 20 minutes into a dumb shooter with Arnold mowing down dozens of bad guys who can’t hit the broad side of a barn from inside the barn. It actually gets kind of comedic. One black hole. Total: four black holes.
A grand total of three stars. Meh. I was also kinder with the black holes than I could have been. It’s not awesome, but it’s not awful. If you like action movies that star guys who look like they have a Y chromosome you will probably enjoy it. If guys like Justin Bieber and Taylor Lautner are your idea of the perfect male specimen than odds are give it a pass. Due to the fact that most of this film takes place in fairly tight spaces you could probably watch it at home and not miss much. Date movie? Another meh. Bathroom break? Nothing jumps out at me. About halfway through there is a scene where Arnold is babbling in German than could be missed.
Thanks for reading. I’m seeing something tonight and will write it up tomorrow. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu for the three times a week I tweet something (I secretly hate social media). Feel free to post here if you have a thought on this film or my review, or email me at email@example.com if you have an off topic question or suggestion. Thanks again and have a great night.
Carrie, Carrie quite contrary. Why was this movie made?
I’ll give you all fair warning: this review is going to have a lot of me bitching about and bemoaning my own miserable high school experience (or, as I like to think of it “The years whose name must not be spoken”). To say this movie struck a nerve or two with me is like saying being eaten alive by fire ants is an unpleasant way to die or George Lucas has ruined his legacy. However, you know how the saying goes: cows moo, pings oink, Dave bitches about high school. Read on if you are cool with it.
The real question here (and the same question that came up in movies like Footloose and Red Dawn) is “Why did this film have to be made?” It has been years since I saw the original Carrie (image courtesy of the Horror Movie T Shirt category) so I had to look up the plot in order to make sure my impressions were correct and sure enough this one is almost a scene for scene remake (with some YouTube thrown in). Remakes are as always a sure sign that Hollywood has just given up on the whole original idea thing (hey, creativity is hard work) and as the trend continues we can expect to see inevitable remakes of Citizen Kane, Blade Runner, Alien, Dumb & Dumber, and the Neverending Story (oh, wait. That last one is in production). Since there were two other remakes for Carrie done already (one for TV and one for something else I forget) this is actually the fourth Carrie, so I guess in three years we can look for another Carrie starring Willow Smith.
Where this film differs from the original is in tone and scope. The first film was a true horror film in the sense that Carrie goes nuts and mind murders her entire class. This film is more a teenage outsider angst drama with 20 minutes of action but none of the horrible dread that so made the first film work. Only the real trouble makers get killed, the gym teacher survives, and you tend to lose your hatred of Chris (the main bitch) when she is pleading with her daddy via text to come rescue her. A true horror film has one (and only one) survivor, not a bunch of kids sitting on the lawn while firefighters come to save them.
That being said, the fantasy of the alienated outsider gaining super powers and using them to kill most of his or her school mates is one that sat heavily in my mind from 1st grade up until my 30th birthday. In most films you are supposed to identify with the protagonist and revile the antagonist. When a film has you thinking “there but for the lack of mind powers goes I” while watching Carrie incinerate her class the film stops being a horror film and kind of turns into a dark comedy. I’m sure for those of you who enjoyed high school and didn’t view each school morning with the dread of a prisoner walking the Green Mile this film looks pretty awful but there was a big part of me wishing for a higher body count.
The story. If you have seen the original Carrie skip ahead a few paragraphs. If you haven’t and find them annoying there are a bunch of spoilers incoming so SPOILER ALERT. It starts out with Margaret (Julianne Moore-Crazy, Stupid Love, Children of Men, Magnolia) having the creepiest birthing scene since It (another film that is on deck for a remake. Can’t wait). She has a child who grows up into Carrie (Chloe Grace Moretz-Kick Ass, Hugo, Let Me In). Margaret is a crazy super religious nut and more or less raises Carrie in a Bible Skinner box. Chloe has an awkward menstruation episode in the shower at school and thinks she is bleeding to death. Her classmates, headed by main bitch Chris (Portia Doubleday-18, Youth in Revolt, Big Mammas: Life Father, Like Son) and Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde-the Three Musketeers, Dark Horse, Endless Love), throw tampons at her and make fun of her. Chris films it on her phone. While this is going on a lightbulb bursts. Carrie is rescued by Mrs. Desjardin (Judy Greer-Three Kings, the Village, What Women Want), the PE teacher.
Carrie is picked up by her mother and locked in her prayer closet. Over the next few days Chris posts the video on YouTube and has the whole school laughing at her. Meanwhile Carrie is discovering she has telekinetic abilities and is researching and practicing with them. Mrs. Desjardin is pissed at the whole group of girls and forces them to do punishing exercises. Chris refuses and is expelled and banned from the prom.
Sue is feeling guilty and gets her boyfriend Tommy (Ansel Elgort-first film credit) to ask Carrie to the prom. At first she refuses but he shows up at her house and she agrees (with some encouragement from Mrs. Desjardin). Chris is pissed and gets her hoodlum boyfriend Billy (Alex Russell-the Host, Chronicle, Wasted on the Young) to kill a pig and rig a bucket with it’s blood over the stage at prom. She arranges for the king and queen vote to be rigged and Tommy and Carrie are voted in. On the stage the blood is drenched on Carrie and the bucket falls, knocking out Tommy. Carrie thinks everyone is laughing at her and goes on a mad TK killing spree, ending with the death of Chris and Billy in their car.
She eventually ends up home and washes the blood off. Her mother finds her and they pray together, but Margaret stabs Carrie in the back with a knife convinced she is a witch. Carrie kills her as Sue arrives to help her. More TK nonsense ensues leaving Sue pregnant.
Very well executed. The director Kimberly Peirce also did Stop-Loss and Boys Don’t Cry and her expertise shines through. Two stars. I am hesitant to give this film a star for story as you literally can’t get more derivative but if this were a stand alone film I would reward the plot, so one star. All the acting was excellent, and the characters all very believable. The bitch is a bitch, the hood a hood, the little goody goody a goody goody, and the alienated religious girl just as troubled as you would believe. One star. A bonus star each for both Chloe and Juliane. Both were awesome characters and very well portrayed. Two stars. If you have a burning hatred of your high school experience and all the little pretty children who went to prom (guess who was working at a pizza restaurant that night instead of attending? I spent most of the evening hoping they all got each other pregnant) than the last 20 minutes are very gratifying. One star. In spite of the first 60 minutes being all high school drama and build up I thought the pacing was excellent. I was engaged the whole time and never felt the need for a fast forward button. One star. Total: eight stars.
The black holes:
This film will get a black hole from me until someone can explain to me what function was served by actually making it. Remakes are like wearing water wings in a wading pool. One black hole. I don’t know where Kimberly Peirce went to high school but if I were to hazard a guess I’d say it was the world of the Time Machine where all the fat, ugly, nerdy, pimply kids were forced to move underground as Morlocks leaving the beautiful Eloi above ground to attend the Prom. One of the reasons Chloe worked as Carrie is until she dresses up for the prom she is the least attractive girl in the film and you know that is saying a lot. Normally I reward films for only casting hot chicks but in this case I really think a kid with self esteem issues (i.e. all of them) could really be damaged. Also all the dudes were pretty much hot chicks too if you know what I mean. One black hole. This film failed to really strike a tone. Was it a horror flick or a teeney bopper coming of age film with 20 minutes of blood? Were we supposed to hate Chris or feel sympathy for her? Are we supposed to identify with Carrie or Sue? A lot of grey in this film. One black hole. This film ate the rated R pie and then toned down the actual horror and violence anyway. Without the cussing it really was straddling the PG-13 line. It definitely felt softer than the first film. If you are going to draw a zero comp on your Warhammer army anyway I say make it as broken as possible. One black hole. Total: four black holes.
A total of four stars. Not bad. If you are a fan of Chloe or never say the first Carrie I’d say this is well worth your time. However there is nothing really hear to require a big screen. Even the action horror parts of the film would not have look out of place on an after school special. There was only one scene that had the potential for visual excellence and it cut short super fast. Date movie? Odds are your date has fond memories of prom night and therefore you should probably steer clear. Bathroom break? You absolutely don’t want to miss Prom night but the rest of the film really is just so much lead up. I’d say any scene up until Carrie finishes making her dress is disposable.
Thanks for reading. I’ll try to see something else tonight and write it up tomorrow. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. If you have a comment on this review or the movie feel free to post it here. If you have an off topic question or suggestion email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (single ladies are especially welcome to take advantage of this option). Have a great night.
Killer of fun.
I, like many people, enjoy frozen yogurt. I usually go for french vanilla with strawberries and those mini M&M’s, or sometimes Reeces Pieces. I don’t do it often as it can be a lot of calories, but find it to be a nice treat for when I’m feeling self indulgent or am dealing with getting dumped (I guess I do eat a lot of frozen yogurt).
If the original Machete were my nice cup of frozen yogurt (and the trailer from Grindhouse the free sample on a wooden spoon) than Machete Kills is a water tower full of rancid yogurt with the output hose inserted into my mouth and turned on full blast until I have yogurt spurting from every orifice, ruining yogurt for ever and probably giving me diabetes. I’m sure you’ve heard of too much of a good thing, but this is too much of a bad thing that is supposed to be good but in the end is just bad.
(Machete poster from the Movie Tshirt category)
Don’t get me wrong. I am a big Danny Trejo fan, and think he is a great character actor. I loved him in Heat and From Dusk ’till Dawn, and he has been in at least two different zombie movies. I enjoyed Machete in that special bad/good sense that seems to guarantee cult movie status, and am glad his career has taken off. I hope to see him in any number of future productions.
I also used to be a Robert Rodriguez fan, but he seems to suffer from the same brain chemistry imbalance that Luc Besson has in that his movies fall apart as soon as he tries to do a sequel. El Mariachi is frickin’ brilliant, but Desperado was laughable. Machete was great but this one sucks. He is working on a sequel to Sin City and now I worry about that franchise. For every good film he has done (usually teamed up with Quentin Tarotino) he has also done a couple crappy ones, mostly comprised of the whole Spy Kids franchise.
I think the best word to describe this film is juvenile. It plays out like two 11 year old kids playing with action figures. I know it is supposed to be a parody of cheesy action movies, but if you try to make a movie to make fun of crappy acting, story, action, filming, and editing by using all those elements in the end you get a movie with crappy acting, story, action, filming, and editing. It’s like if I wanted to make a joke about how much feces smells and took a crap on your dining room table to illustrate my point. The joke is surely funny in my head but at the end of the day you are dealing with a ruined table and your fist hurting from punching me in the face over and over again. To the average viewer (i.e. not Robert Rodriguez) you really can’t see anything except the crap.
I suspect this is going to be one of those bear trap movies for hipsters. What do I mean by that? It’s like the Star Wars Holiday Special, a movie that should never be watched by any human on the planet. However, every year jackasses like me think something like “Sure, it will suck, but I’ll gain some kind of nerd credibility for having watched it and really, it has Luke, Han, and Leia in it so how bad can it be?” only to find that there is nothing in there but pain and suffering. This movie isn’t necessarily as bad as that but if you feel like you need to see it just to maintain your bad movie watching status don’t waste your time.
(By the way, at this point I have to caution you to not misinterpret that last paragraph as my recommendation that you actually watch the SWHS. Some things once watched can never be unseen, and there is nothing to be found in that film except a steady draining of your will to live. If you have any love of Star Wars, film in general, or your childhood you will avoid it. That being said I know there is some idiot out there who will disregard all my warnings and go for it. To you I say you have been warned.)
When I first started watching this film I thought I might have to do one of my double reviews; once as a legitimate (haw!) film critic and once as a fan of camp movies. However, by the end of it I realized I hated this film from both perspectives. Fans of camp are fans of fun, and this movie is not fun. It is ploddish and looks like it was filmed in someones back yard. The brilliant timing, parody, and insight that Tarantino brings to a movie like this are missing entirely, leaving something a failing film student might have done (except for the fact that Rodriguez did el Mariachi as a film student and it was infinitely better than this).
The story, in addition to being bad, is convoluted as hell. I’ll run over the highlights. Machete (Danny Trejo-Heat, From Dusk ’till Dawn, Anchorman) is accused of killing his partner in a rogue US Army-sells-guns-to-a-drug-cartel-but-gets-busted-by-special-forces-and-the-local-sheriff raid gone bad and is going to be lynched by the local hillbilly lawman. In spite of the fact that the lynching is completely illegal and secret the president (Carlos Estevez (Charlie Sheen)-Hot Shots, Two and a Half Men, Wall Street) calls to recruit him. He is sent to Mexico after a mad revolutionary Mendez (Demian Bichir-A Better Life, Savages, the Heat) who wants to blow up Washington DC with a missile (or something. It all kind of blurs together after a while). He travels to Mexico with the help of his beauty queen handler Miss San Antonio (Amber Heard-Zombieland, Pineapple Express, Drive Angry), the most fake character in a movie of characters that felt fake. There he goes to a brothel run by Desdemona (Sofia Vergara-the Smurfs, Four Brothers, Modern Family), a sadistic madame who has a stable of murderous psychotic super vixens. The last contact with Mendez is her daughter Cereza (Vanessa Hudgens-Sucker Punch, Spring Breakers, High School Musical). Desdemona gets her crew to try to kill Machete for some reason (?) while her daughter agrees to help him for some other reason (??).
They escape and are picked up in a helicopter by Mendez’s henchmen. Cereza is killed for some reason (???) but Machete is allowed to live in order to hear Mendez’s megalomaniacal rant (if you’ve ever seen Dr. Evil than this scene should be shockingly familiar). Turns out the missile aimed at Washington is hooked to a detonator attached to a deadman switch on his heart. Machete captures him but rather than just destroy the missile or calling in an airstrike he opts to try to find the one man in the world who can disarm it. Mendez has put a contract out on himself for some reason (????) and Machete so now everyone in Mexico wants to kill them, including La Cameleon (played alternatively by Walter Goggins, Cuba Gooding Jr, Antonio Banderas, and Lady Gaga).
Ugh. Remember when I said this movie was like two boys playing with action figures? At some point the boys decided Machete had to fight a million Mexican police, drive an armored car, have Sofia Vergara shoot bullets at him out of two mini mini guns in the tips of her metal bra and then out of a pistol in her crotch that she fires by thrusting her pelvis, cut off a bunch of heads, and sleep with every woman on the screen. Mendez gets killed but his heart is connected to a respirator to keep the missile from firing. When things get slow they introduce the real villain Voz (Mel Gibson-the Road Warrior, Braveheart, Lethal Weapon), who is a super genius who wants to blow up the world so he can live on his satellite with a bunch of kidnapped Mexican slave labor (nothing helps establish the plot of the movie like introducing the villain 3/4 of way through the film). Machete kills a bunch of people usually by cutting off their heads. Rodriguez thinks of the joke of having a bad guy thrown into the whirling blades of a helicopter and then decides the only way it could be funnier is if he repeated it 20 more times. Stuff blows up, Machete kills more people, and the movie is left with a cliffhanger in a clear prelude for Machete 3 like a kid begging for five more minutes of TV before going to bed.
That might be my worst recap ever, but trust me when I say I don’t have a lot to work with and am already bored writing this. Let’s get to the fun part, shall we?
Danny Trejo is pretty cool, and while you get fairly tired of his character by end of the film I still like him. One star. All the women were drop dead gorgeous, and as lame as it sounds I do get turned on by girls with guns. One star. If his goal truly was to make a crappy movie than I would have to say Robert Rodriguez succeeded in spades. One star. Total: three stars.
The black holes:
The “plot” was like a Mad Lib story where the only words you could use were “guns”,” kill”, “tits, “machete”, “decapitated”, “whore”, and “Mexican”. Two black holes. There were a couple of times it seemed like some decent acting could have been had from some of the actors (Damian Bichir and Mel Gibson, for the most part) the combination of the horrible roles and the average effort put in (cough cough phoned it in cough cough) made me wish I were watching the Vagina Monologs as played by the Thunderbirds cast using the robot voice from Wargames. God awful. One black hole. As amusing as I find his rants I am going to say that Charlie Sheen was a particularly painful bamboo shoot under the fingernail part of this film. One black hole. Remember how the original Machete was rated R and consequently had some nudity? Well, we wouldn’t want anything interesting to taint the horrible experience of watching this film so rated R with nobody naked. One black hole. Editing and pacing from hell. There is a 24 hour countdown clock going for a lot of the film and about six weeks worth of stuff happened in that time. At the same time the editing was rushed with less than critical but jarringly elements missing. Overall a convoluted editing failure. Two black holes. Really kind of boring. 107 minutes and you will feel every one of them. One black hole. A parody of bad film making that really only subjected us to a bad film. One black hole. Action from hell, with recurring sequences all derived from other, better films. One black hole. Leaving the film as a cliffhanger with a plea for us to see the next horrible version. One black hole. At the end of the film it really felt like a waste of time. Two black holes. Total: thirteen black holes.
A grand total of ten black holes. Honestly the only reasons to see this film is if you are a screaming Machete, Rodriguez, or camp fan and even then you will lose more respect than you gain. In general a big waste of time with very little redeeming. Date movie? Do I really need to answer that for you? Bathroom break? Pretty much anywhere. The best scenes all had Mel Gibson in them so if you want to get something out of this try to do your business around him. Not a lot to miss in this film.
Thanks for reading. I don’t feel good about dumping on this film. I love camp and wanted this to be either really good or that special kind of bad that is actually good but it was neither. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. Comments about this film or my review can be left right here, and if you have an off topic question or suggestion feel free to email me at email@example.com. Talk to you soon.
Pretty much lives up to it’s name.
Yes I’m still sluggish getting these out. Saw this movie Thursday night but honestly if you saw the amount of work I have piled up (literally) you would understand.
So I enjoyed this film about as much as I expected to (something of a singular event these days). Fortunately I expected to enjoy it a lot. This film follows the typical sequel pattern of a kick ass first movie (haw!) followed by a sequel that is about 80% of the first one. However, when you have a movie as good as the first Kick Ass 80% of it make it as good or better than all the Ryan Reynolds films put together.
The film definitely had a different tone. I would have to say this one was darker, grimmer, and lacking in the cuteness of young Hit Girl. Her assault down the hallway in the gangster penthouse (with Bad Reputation by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts playing in the background) is one of my personal favorite action scenes of the last ten years. She is an iconic character and based on the number of HG costumes I saw at Comic Con a popular one.
Hit Girl is back, but now is cursed with all the teenaged angst that they seem to hand girls on their first day of high school. Due to the nature of the story she is in the film less and fight less, at least until the last 20 minutes, and her fights are just not as super squirrelly as they were in the last one. Her best fight she is not even wearing her HG costume, although that was the fight that most reminded me of the last film.
On the other hand Kick Ass is back and faces some interesting comic book-ish issues, such as why he even became a super hero and what he hopes to accomplish from it. A lot of this movie is taken up with him and Hit Girl in street clothes trying to figure out what they should be doing in life, which tended to make the film less cool and exciting but added a nice note of realism and drama otherwise missing from the last one.
The story starts off with Kick Ass (Anderson Taylor-Johnson-Kick Ass, Savages, Nowhere Boy) back in high school with Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz-Dark Shadows, Hugo, Let Me In), except Hit Girl has been cutting class to train. She gets Kick Ass (yes, I know his character name is Dave and Hit Girl’s is Mindy. I just like calling them by their superhero names) to join her and they start fighting some crime. During their first caper she gets caught by her now legal guardian Marcus (Morris Chestnut-the Call, Boys in the Hood, Identity Thief) and he gets her to promise to stop with the Hit Girl thing. She does out of respect for her father.
Meanwhile Kick Ass has a taste for the action and looks for other super heroes to team up with. New York is now lousy with them and through a guy called Dr. Gravity (Donald Faison-Scrubs, Remember the Titans, Clueless) he meets up with Justice Forever, a team lead by the psychotic Col. Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey-Ace Ventura, Dumb and Dumber, The Truman Show). One of his fellow team members Battle Guy is his old friend Marty (Clark Duke-Hot Tub Time Machine, A Thousand Words, the Croods) and a hot chick named Night Bitch (Lindy Booth-Wrong Turn, Relic Hunter, Dawn of the Dead (image courtesy of the Zombie T Shirt category)). They run around the city doing public service and catching bad guys.
Meanwhile Kick Ass’s old enemy Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse-Superbad, Role Models, Pitch Perfect) is back. He has kind of lost it and is now a super villain named the M-F-er whose sole purpose is to cause pain and suffering in order to destroy Kick Ass. He recruits a bunch of other psychopaths and they go berserk.
I’m going to blow off the rest of the story mainly because it’s late and I always find the story recap to be the most boring and arduous part of these reviews. A movie like this I expect any of my readers to see so the recap is redundant anyway. Sufficed to say crosses are doubled, stuff gets blown up, and a lot of asses get kicked.
Hit Girl is awesome again. One star. The evil team the M-F-er put together was also pretty awesome, especially Mother Russia. One star. I expected all the new super heroes to suck (except for Col. Stars and Stripes) but in fact they were each cool in their own way. One star. All the acting was dead on perfect. One star. The story delved deeper into the angst of being a super hero than most films bother to. I thought it was neat. One star. The fight scenes were all really cool and fun. One star. Comic book movie. One star. Over all a fun, exciting film. Two stars. Total: nine stars.
The black holes:
Honestly I’m at a loss. I could give one for there being less action and more character development, but I just gave the film a star for that a in the last paragraph. Pacing slugged up at times but overall felt right. I’m going to have to do my very rare no black hole reviews. There wasn’t anything I wish they did differently.
So a total of nine stars and my hearty endoursement of this film. Not better than Kick Ass, but worthy be being mentioned in the same sentence. Please see this film in a theater. We need to encourage quality film. Date movie? Meh. Romance was kind of limited to Kick Ass knocking boots with Night Bitch in a bathroom, so not really. Plus if are a Hit Girl fan you might end up looking kind of creepy. Bathroom break? Depends on what you are here for. If all you want is action that kicks ass (that’s the last one I swear) I’d say go in any of the scenes where Hit Girl is trying to convince Kick Ass to put on his costume or Kick Ass is trying to do the same for Hit Girl. If you like the characters and angst involved go during any of the action scenes. (Or if you are a true fan just hold it. It’s only 103 minutes long).
Thanks for reading. I’ll see something tomorrow for sure, but have another trip to Las Vegas that I leave for Monday so I don’t know if I will have time to write it up. Sorry. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. By the way it would be very cool if you liked us on Facebook. If you have comments about this film or my review feel free to post a comment here. Off topic suggestions and review can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Talk to you soon.
I kind of wish I had been wearing a (sleep) mask while in the theater.
This film was clearly crafted in the Frankenstein mode: if they just stick enough body parts into it eventually lightning will strike and the monster will rise from the slab and terrify the local villagers (I mean excite the audience. Frankenstein image courtesy of the Horror Movie T Shirt category). This approach was clearly and unabashedly lifted from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Unfortunately what works for pirates apparently fails to work for Old West outlaws, especially when working with a character no one cares about at a time when cowboys just aren’t really that popular (go back in time to 2001 IMO).
This film tanked horribly at the box office and I’m not surprised. I think it fair to say I see a lot of films and with very, very few exceptions manage to stay awake for the duration of all of them good or bad. In this one however I was struggling to keep my eyes open. The worst part is after the third or fourth time I caught myself nodding off I realized I probably could take a 20 minute nap and not miss much (of course I would never do that. I have my “professional” pride to consider). This showing wasn’t even that late for me.
I think this movie is a good example of Disney really believing they can force out a new movie franchise if they just push hard enough. I’m glad to see it has failed in the past (cough cough John Carter cough cough) and seems to be continuing to do so. Don’t try to tell me what to like. I will say that I have seen the trailers for this about 1,000,000 times and if you go by the rule that the more the studios market a film the more likely it is to suck than it was inevitable that this movie be awful.
If grinding movie progression were an Olympic event this film would win gold, silver, and bronze by beating it’s competition to death at the finish line with a lacrosse racket. It goes a whopping 149 minutes (that’s 2 hours and 29 minutes) that feels like six hours. Each scene was padded and paced in order to be as long and agonizing as possible, with tons of long, panning shots of nothing interesting, guys riding horses, inane flashbacks, and character development that couldn’t be more predictable or boring each scene had been delivered via semaphore a day after you watch it. The Frankensteinian nature of this film comes from about 14 completely unnecessary subplots, about 800 leftist social commentary messages, and a plot that meanders back and forth to no real purpose.
The real failure of this film (in my less than humble opinion) is the lack of a clear, appealing villain. The obvious villain is outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner-Black Hawk Down, the Dark Knight, Contact) but his is so cartoonishly evil that you can’t take him seriously. If you have to make your villain a cannibal to paint him as even more evil you just might be trying too hard. About halfway through the movie (you know, at the three hour mark) the villain stops being Butch and somehow turns out to be a railroad guy (and by extension the evils of the industrialization of America). This shifting of villains can work well in a well written, complicated story but in a simplistic action movie (you know, kind of like Pirates of the Caribbean) use the K.I.S.S. principal: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
At this point in one of my reviews that bears closer resemblance to clubbing a baby seal than offering constructive criticism I find a couple of redeeming qualities in a film if only to assuage my own guilt, so here goes. I thought Johnny Depp did his usual stand out character portrayal (on the other hand if I were a Native American actor I might have issues with this film). It is hard to not like him in almost any role. Armie Hammer did as well as could be expected with his role. Unfortunately the writers painted him into a really bland, formulaic corner.
The story. The whole thing starts out in 1933 at a fair. A dopey kid is checking out a Wild West exhibit wearing a Lone Ranger costume and comes to what appears to be a stuffed Native American. The guy turns out to be an ancient Tonto (Johnny Depp-Edward Scissorhands, Benny and June, Sweeney Todd). This ham handed plot device leads to Tonto telling the kid the story of the Lone Ranger (Princess Bride style. This film does not hesitate to rip off movies other than Pirates). John Reid (Armie Hammer-Mirror Mirror, the Social Network, J. Edgar) is traveling back to his home town in Texas to become a Federal prosecutor. On the train is villain Butch Cavendish, headed to the same town to be hung. In the same prisoner car with Butch is Tonto, being transported for some reason(?).
Butch managed to find a gun hidden on the train car and is rescued by a gang of outlaws (if you like stereotype soup you are in for a treat). John gets caught up in the escape and ends up surviving the crash with Tonto. He heads out with his brother (James Badge Dale-Iron Man 3, the Departed, World War Z) and the posse to recapture Butch. They get ambushed and all killed. Tonto shows up to bury them all but a magical white horse compels him to resurrect John (or maybe the horse did it, or the magical spirits. This film suffers from a paucity of details). He wakes up and Tonto convinces him to wear a mask for no real reason.
Honestly, this is about when I started to doze off and a lot of the actual plot details might be missing (you aren’t going to suffer for the lack of them). Since each of these little plot devices is akin to a boring mini movie unto itself I will just spout out the ones I remember fire hose style. The head railroad guy has a creepy attraction to John’s brother’s wife and kid. The wife secretly has always loved John. Butch is actually working for the railroad guy. The railroad guy wants to transport tons of silver that he stole from the Native Americans and use the money to buy out control of the railroad. Butch was hired by the railroad guy to attack small settlements in order to get the US Army to attack them and negate some land treaty. Tonto thinks Butch is some kind of evil spirit that is causing nature to unbalance, manifesting in the form of jack rabbits that are turning into viscous carnivores who specialize in eating scorpions (no joke). The Native Americans attack the army and are slaughtered to the man. Butch turns out to be the railroad guy’s brother (Tom Wilkinson-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Batman Begins, Shakespeare in Love). Johns horse is magical and may or may not be able to fly. The kid and mom get kidnapped by the railroad guy or something. Tonto is suffering from PTSD from some childhood thing. The railroad guy gains control of the railroad at gunpoint. Large amounts of explosives are apparently stored at the bank and Tonto and the Lone Ranger need to rob it or something.
See what I mean about Frankenstein?
Johnny Depp was as good as you would expect. One star. Armie Hammer was decent too. One star. Hmm. Is that it, really? I guess so. Two stars.
The black holes.
The pacing on this movie was slow and painful, like being dissolved in a vat of acid. Two black holes. No good villain to give this film some focus. One black hole. So chock full of sub plots and social commentary you have a hard time seeing the actual story. Two black holes. A bonus black hole for the killer rabbit sub plot that was introduced and then blatantly ignored. One black hole. The action was comically stupid. One black hole. There was nothing in the movie to make me care even a little. The only character worth anything was Tonto and we see him alive and well fifty years later at the start of the movie. The plot had no hook. One black hole. Throw in a hot chick somewhere. I am a fan of Helen Bonham Carter but she does not incite my libido, especially when her character has a prosthetic leg. One black hole. Another attempt by Disney to force feed us a franchise. One black hole. The ending was a gigantic trite sandwich served with a side of trite potato salad. One black hole. The entire main plot was a long deus ex machina party where the only music was an old REO Speedwagon CD. One black hole. Total: twelve black holes.
So a grand total of ten black holes and based upon the box office sales I’m not alone in my assessment. Perhaps it is not as horrible as that but it has been a while since I saw something that really sucked and I guess I felt the need to tear something apart. Also since Disney is not hurting for cash I don’t have to feel bad about dumping on someone’s livelyhood. Worth seeing at all? Not really, unless you are having trouble sleeping. If you like Johnny Depp see Benny and June. If you are at all like me you will be bored in the theater. Bathroom break? The one nice thing about a movie made up of dozens of stupid sub plots is you can break any of them off and not really hurt the film much, so take your pick. If I had to choose one scene I’d say the railroad board meeting. It’s in the last 1/3rd of the film and by that point you will need to relieve yourself.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment on this film or my review here. If you have an off topic question or suggestion feel free to email me at email@example.com. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. Have a great weekend. Talk to you soon.
Yes, in the hopes of sucking more money from the current generations wallets (and just plain sucking) Hollywood is developing a remake of the great Escape from New York. This is aggravating on a whole new level, as everyone knows it was truly Kurt Russell as Snake Priskin who made this movie (I could find an Escape image in the Movie T-Shirt category, but I did find this cool Pork-Chop Express one from Big Trouble in Little China). Rumored actors include Tom Hardy and Jason Stratham, who are both fine in their own genres but honestly I really don’t believe either of them can really pull off the truly bad ass, one eyed, gravely Snake that is required.
In addition, the time is all wrong for this movie. Like when they did Red Dawn the point is the circumstances have changed, making the major plot point of the film (Russia invading USA) seem a little ridiculous. When Escape was made New York City was in a downward slump crime wise that made the idea of the entire island of Manhattan being turned into a penal colony entirely reasonable. Today Manhattan is the most prime real estate in the USA and there is no way the base premise is going to make sense or seem at all serious. If you really want to do this you should make Escape from Detroit (no offense to my fine Detroit readers, but you get my point).
Anyway, I found a list of other bad remake plans so look forward to more of these post as I explain why each of them is going to suck. I might have to revisit this one again soon.
Plus a couple crappy ones.
A few weeks ago I reviewed 42, the Jackie Robinson movie, and it got me thinking about movies that contain numbers in the title. It seems like all the best ones are sci fi, and since that is my interest (and, I hope, yours) I thought I would compile a list of really good ones. Of course while composing my list I came up with a couple that really suck so I will list them at the bottom. I am not going to mess around with sequels incidentally. They all have numbers in them.
15. Cherry 2000 – this is one of those movies that almost ended up in the bad pile, but due to the fact that it features the one opportunity I think I will ever have at finding a wife (or second date) I have to give it props. Yes, this movie is the quest to save a super hot sex android, or essentially the only movie plot that makes total sense to me ever. Logan’s Run meets Lars and the Real Doll. However, if you look closely you will see a young Lawrence Fishburne, and if you look even more carefully you will also see a even younger (and hotter) Melanie Griffith.
14. Death Race 2000 – another one that someone who is less a fan of camp might have tossed on the suck pile. However, if you ever wanted to vote for Frankenstein for President (and appreciate the irony in that statement) then this is the movie for you. Plus this movie was made in the glory days of the 70’s, where the one redeeming thing was Hollywood didn’t think it needed to cater to the freaking rug rats in it’s sci fi and was happy to stick rated R nudity all over the place. Plus you get to see Sly Stallone in his first non-porn movie ever.
13. 1984 – anyone else remember when 1984 seemed like a long time in the future, full of sci fi possibilities? No, well actually neither do I. But I’m sure it seemed like a fantasy back in 1948 when Orwell wrote this book. The great thing about this movie is this was when Hollywood was allowed to do a bummer ending in the name of artistry. If (and unfortunately when) they get around to remaking it (2084?) odds are very likely Winston Smith will end the movie leading a counter revolution that ends the film with peace, happiness, and freaking bunny rabbits for everyone.
12. 2001 – yes I probably should rate this one higher, but this movie commits the sin of being kind of boring unless you are a huge Laserium fan. I read the book several times and still found myself snoozing at points. Of course you can never forget or miss the “Open the pod bay doors, Hal” scene. I also sometimes question how much we have actually evolved from the bone club wielding Neanderthals from the beginning. This film also kind of ruined Outland for me by showing a more realistic depiction of dealing with hard vacuum.
11. 9 – post apocalyptic finger puppets fight to destroy a soul sucking steam punk nightmare? There isn’t a single word in that last sentence that doesn’t rock.
10. Six String Samurai – odds are this is another film that only I have seen, but if you haven’t you should try to get it. If you are an Americana, Elvis, or sword fighting fan you will love it (I am all three). Also having Las Vegas be the last free city in the USA is hilarious. This is also the movie that helped me fall in love with the music of the Red Elvises, whom I think more or less inspired most of it. This film could be summed up in the statements “Heavy metal and communism sucks”. Don’t know if I agree with the heavy metal part.
9. House of 1000 Corpses – I’m not doing a lot of horror films, and if you are wondering why Friday the 13th isn’t here I’m not really a fan of franchises that take a decent concept and grind it into a fine, irritating powder. However, this film made my list partly because it is actually a violet horror classic and partly because I’m still feeling guilty for crapping all over Rob Zombies latest film the Lords of Salem. That aside, any movie featuring Captain Spaulding is plus in my book.
8. 30 Days of Night – this is one of those mainstream releases that never got the credit it deserved. I think it’s a kick ass horror flick with a cool twist. It has all the survival horror elements that I love from a good zombie flick plus all of the vampire coolness without any of the sparkle. If you have a daughter who fell in love with vampires thanks to Twilight strap her down and make her watch this, Near Dark, Vampire$, From Dusk till Dawn, and Fright Night. That will do for her for vampires what Fire in the Sky did for me for aliens.
7. Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension – if you call yourself a nerd and/or a movie aficionado and have not seen this film shame on you. This is one of the ultimate hokey camp sci fi classics. Ever want to see a Chevy Luv pickup truck with rockets strapped to the bed drive through a mountain? Do you like Jonathon Lithgow and want to see one of his funniest characters ever? Ever wonder what all aliens use for a first name? Then this is the film for you. Seriously, once you see it you will regret not having seen it in the theater (which I did. Mad nerd cred to me).
6. Super 8 – I had some issues with this film but in general enjoyed the hell out of it. Basically this is what E.T. really should have been. I’m still annoyed at the remote control tanks that need a crew of 5 and don’t have onboard computers. Anyone else think Maximum Overdrive got to be dumb when a machine gun turret in a basic swivel had the intellect and motive ability to cover and control a group of humans?
5. 300 – some of you may argue that this movie was not sci fi, but I say fie on you all. Besides, this film wasn’t exactly a bastion of historical accuracy. All I know is that it was awesome, with great fights, blood, and a giant bald guy with a nose ring. Plus where else are you going to see a defensive wall made from the corpses of the very enemies you are fighting?
4. 12 Monkeys – another film that never got the recognition it deserved. It’s rare that I like time travel films but this one did it in a cool and original way. Plus it had Bruce Willis playing the character he plays best – a beat up desperate loser. It also had a young Brad Pitt as a cool wacko. Time travel, biological warfare, crazy people, and lions. How awesome is that?
3. 28 Days Later – some people say this movie isn’t about zombies since the infected weren’t technically dead, but the original Haitian zombies were living people zombified by magic powder (check out White Zombie (the film the band got the name from, not the band) if you want to see. Or the Serpent and the Rainbow) so in theory this movie is actually a better zombie film than most of the post George Romero films. Great film, and one of those rare films that has you really worried for the protagonists.
2. District 9 – if there were awards for how science fiction-y a film can be this one would receive a lifetime achievement award. Plus you have to give a film credit for making aliens as sympathetic as E.T. while having them look like eight foot tall walking potato bugs. The social commentary flew off this film like explosions in a Micheal Bay film, and like most great sci fi (usually zombie) films shows us that humanities biggest enemy will always be humanity itself. Plus I loved the bus stop posters they used to advertize this film.
1. the Fifth Element – yes, we are back to this one. Sorry but I get a happy feeling every time I see it. Not the best story, acting, or special effects but somehow the sub-mediocre elements (haw!) combine to form a much greater whole than the sum if it’s individual parts. Plus the most important two words in sci fi costuming ever: “thermal wraps”.
Of course not all number movies can rule, so here are a couple that will make you never want to look at a number again. Two of these aren’t sci fi, but I needed to pad out the list and pulled in two films that made my frontal lobe especially sad.
5. One for the Money – unless you somehow think Charlies Angels had the most believable premise in TV history than this film will do nothing but either bore or annoy you. It was so boring I can’t even think of a funny line here.
4. One Day – what is the deal with movies that use the number 1? Notice that none of my top 15 use it. God I hated this movie. Don’t watch this film with any sharp instruments nearby. Actually, just don’t watch this film.
3. the 13th Warrior – remember when Antonio Banderas did Zorro and thought his destiny was to do sword fighting swashbucklers? This film derailed that plan for sure. What schlock. Actually I just took a look at Antonio’s filmography and it’s like sticking your head in a broken sewer pipe. He has done some awful movies, and only a few even decent ones. I guess I can add him to the list with Nick Cage of “If he’s in the film odds are it sucks”. As an aside I recall the original title for this film was “Eaters of the Dead which is about 100,000,000 times more bad ass (and would have kept it off this list) but the producers caved in to marketing pressure to make this film more kid friendly. I am really starting to hate PG-13.
2. 2012 – this film did about as much for science as the Holy Inquisition did when it tried Galileo for heresy for daring to suggest the Earth rotates around the sun. Also there is a limit to how many narrow escapes a character can go through per minute before the audience loses interest.
1. I am Number Four – I always laugh whenever Hollywood tries to launch a new franchise based on a previous successful franchise and falls miserably on it’s face. This film was supposed to be the sci fi version of Twilight but never went anywhere. They recently tried to do this again with the Host but I am proud to say that the science fiction world is still immune to the teenage girl demographic. It’s funny in that I have long wished to meet a girl who was as into sci fi as I am but now realize that if those girls really existed we would be up to our collective asses in wimpy metro-sexual man/boy characters. I guess it’s a good thing?
By the way, all the images come courtesy of the Movie T Shirt category.
Anyway, thanks for reading. These lists are always fun to do. I’ll try to do some more. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Comments or movies that I missed can be placed down at the bottom. Off topic suggestions or questions can be emailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Talk to you soon.
Ever wonder what a 101 minute Cradle of Filth video would look like?
This is the worst kind of film for me to review. Not because it is bad. Handing me a bad film to review is like handing Jason Voorhees a half dozen college students on a spring break camping trip (Crystal Lake shirt from the Horror Movie T Shirt category). Two hours later and I am cleaning blood off my machete with a warm, satisfied feeling in my stomach. No, this film is tough for me to review because I am actually a fan of Rob Zombie.
It’s true. I like his music, and some of his films are amazing. House of 1000 Corpses and the Devil’s Rejects are horror classics. It’s to the point that as I arrived in the theater I already had the first two glowing paragraphs of this review written out in my head once this film turned out to be amazing (or even adequate).
Time makes fools of us all however, and in this case the amount of time is 101 minutes. I spent most of that time waiting for anything to happen. Ever take a long road trip and find yourself running low on gas? Ever do that and hit one of those weird stretches of highway where they don’t apparently believe in gas stations (hello West Texas) and as you approach each exit you desperately hope that you will see a Unocal or Mobil sign? Your desperation and eagerness increases with each passed exit until finally you end the movie parked at the side of the road on a desolate two lane highway with nothing but coyotes for company.
So it was for this film. Rob can definitely build atmosphere, and when it comes to horror foreplay he is a master. The problem is every time the build up reached the point where something, anything interesting had to happen it would stop with a screeching jump cut, leaving the audience with the equivalent of movie viewer blue balls. Even in the few scenes where something happens inevitably end up being dreams or hallucinations of some kind. I would like to say that having the main character wake up in a cold sweat after a vividly horrible dream is a cool movie tool to help establish otherwise intangible plot points. However, it should not be used to cover 1/3rd of the scenes. It became so standard during the course of this film that in the final scene where something actually was happening I kept waiting for the main character to wake up yet again.
This is why the film felt more like a Satanic rock video than a film. It is chock full of creepy Satanic images and hallucinations from deep in Charles Manson’s subconscious but lacking in anything really scary or disturbing. The whole thing felt like Rob Zombie messing around on his home editing system, putting together a video of some anti-Christian footage that his friends might enjoy while half drunk but not really for public consumption. Very self indulgent, and given that he cast his wife as the main character and a bunch of his friends as supporting characters I’d say that is an apt description. The whole time I was watching I felt the same burning desire for a fast forward button that I felt while watching Terence Malicks Tree of Life. I know Rob intended this film to be a tribute to the Shining but he more closely parallels Malicks film style, only without the Christian overtones.
The story, I guess. Sheri Moon Zombie (the Devil’s Rejects, House of 1000 Corpses, Grindhouse) plays Heidi Hawthorne, part of a three man late night DJ team that looks like Rob learned a lot from his interviews on the Howard Stern Show (I actually listened to his last appearance on that show and he pretty much says that is where the inspiration came from). She and her fellow DJs Whitey (Jeff Daniel Phillips-Faster, Hide, Unknown) and Herman (Ken Foree-Dawn of the Dead, the Devil’s Rejects, Water for Elephants) interview Francis Mathias (Bruce Davison-X-Men, Harry and the Hendersons, Short Cuts) the author of a book on the Salem Witch Trials. That night Heidi has a record delivered to her in a wooden box that screams Necronomicon from a band called the Lords. She plays it and begins to hallucinate about witches. The next night she plays it on the air and a bunch of women in the town of Salem are more or less possessed.
At that point things kind of mosey down the road with not much happening. Every ten minutes another amazing scene is set up and seems to be leading to something that could be considered a plot point or pivotal moment, but just as you think something is about to happen Heidi wakes up. A lot of Satanic and anti-Christian messages and images are use. The witches burned (for the record, no witches were burned in Salem. They were all hung. I’m not saying that makes us any more civil than Europe. I’m just a stickler for historical accuracy) are trying to come back and want Heidi to be their vessel from which Lucifer (or something) will be born. Heidi’s landlady and her creepy sisters (Dee Wallace-E.T. the Extraterrestrial, the Howling, Critters Patrical Quinn-the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Shock Treatment, The Meaning of Life Judy Gleeson-Gilmore Girls, Spanish Fly, the Duke) are working together to make this happen and at one point beat Francois to death with a frying pan (closest thing to exciting as this film gets, honestly). Religious images are shown over and over again and laughable Satanic verse is spoken in a voice that makes monster truck announcers sound serious.
If you have an axe to grind against Christianity and love Satan then this is the movie for you. You can’t say Rob Zombie doesn’t deliver a message. One star. He does create good atmospheres. One star. His wife is pretty damned hot in the scenes where she isn’t looking like a strung out drug user. One star. Total: three stars.
The black holes:
No real horror to speak of, nothing scary, and nothing happens. One black hole. The story is about as solid as a soggy corn flake and more or less serves to connect Rob’s images together. One black hole. The course of the entire film is like a beach ball with a BB hole in it, leaking air and finally ending with a vague fart sound and a quiet settling. One black hole. At no point in the film to you get an idea of what the evil plan is or even who the villain is. No antagonist to speak of, and when the plan is finally unveiled you still don’t know what the hell is going on or why you should care. One black hole. I don’t think playing a subdued character is Sheri Moon Zombie’s forte. Furthermore I felt no interest in her character or any kind of connection whatsoever other than she was hot (or any of the other characters for that matter). One black hole. Given the number of times I have bitched about rater R movies that avoid nudity this is weird for me to say, but there is a lot of nudity in this film but with very few exceptions (Sheri being all of them) you will truly regret having seen them. Some things watched can’t be unwatched. One black hole. It’s honestly hard to take Satanic rhetoric seriously. They have all the issues that Christian rhetoric has except that it just sounds silly (if you have ever listened to an Anton Levey interview you know what I mean). I mean, worshiping Satan means you actually believe in the Christian pantheon but are going to go with the guy who will burn you in everlasting fire. One black hole. It’s rare that I have to say this since I usually find something to entertain myself with but as I left the theater I really felt like I had wasted my time. Two black holes. Total: nine black holes.
So a grand total of six black holes. To be honest I was more than generous in my stars and reticent in my black holes. If I weren’t a Zombie fan I would have probably unloaded my black hole shotgun into this movies face and the closest thing to a star I could have found would have been that it was filmed in English. Sorry dude. I honestly hope your next film recaptures some of the magic of your earlier films, or at least has something happen somewhere in the film. Should you see it? Honestly probably not. If you are a Rob Zombie fan I think you will get more from renting the Devil’s Rejects. If you do go see it load up on Strawberry Mojitos at the Applebees down the street beforehand. This movie will look a lot better if you are plastered. Date movie? If I recommend you don’t go see this film there shouldn’t be any kind of logical process that would lead you to taking a date to it unless you secretly hate all women and see dating as your opportunity to punish them all for not being your mom. Bathroom break? There isn’t a single scene of this film (including the “climax”) that you couldn’t easily miss without losing a thing from your movie experience. Cut out, drop a deuce, smoke a cigarette, run back to Applebees to recharge your alcohol battery, and come back in time for the ending credits. Using your imagination while listening to to the post movie fake newscast might just make for a good time.
I always feel dirty after dumping on a movie by someone I like. Why can’t McG come out with something? Wrecking his movies is not only fun but I feel like I am performing a public service. Sigh. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Feel free to comment on this film or my review below. Off topic questions or suggestions can be sent to email@example.com. Thanks for reading. Talk to you soon.