Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Heavy Metal 2000


  I've seen this movie before, and I'm very familiar with the amazing work of the minds behind it. Particularly, Simon Bisley, who illustrated the graphic novel which Heavy Metal 2000 is based on. You can see a small sample of his work on the cover for the DVD of the movie here, and sadly... it's more exciting and interesting than the movie itself. See, the cover makes promises the movie simply doesn't deliver on. It's never once as stylish, as gritty, or as weirdly sexy as that image is. The movie exists as an odd curiosity for fans of the Heavy Metal magazine (google it if you don't know about it) and the 1981 movie as well- but little more than that.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Force Awakens


  I can't decide if I'm the worst person to objectively review this movie, or one of the best. I'm only 21, but I fit in this perfect generational window that had the chance to see the original trilogy in theaters when it was re-released as the special editions. So, to date, I've seen every Star Wars movie in theaters, with my family. I could write article after article about everything Star Wars means to me, about how it defined my childhood, about how some of my first memories are of seeing the original trilogy on the big screen- larger than life. And, after all that I would be but one of millions saying pretty much the same thing.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Hateful Eight


   I was hesitant to write a review of this one because after watching it, I was unsure if I even liked it. For sure, there is a great concept here, and the acting is great all across the board... but this was a misfire in my book. Tarantino can do a lot with a little, that's already well known. He's a master of engaging dialog, but sometimes it just doesn't click. The Hateful Eight's dialog is never engaging enough. Thus, the movie feels meandering. The scenery shots are gorgeous, and maybe I'm missing the point or something, but far too many of them go on for too damn long. Coupled with more than a few running gags that aren't funny in the slightest, the movie feels like it's wasting my time.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Steele Justice


  If you know me, even a little bit, you know I'm crazy about 80's action movies. The crazier the better. Guns that shoot knives are definitely a plus. Within ten minutes, Steele Justice was already deep in my good graces. It's a by-the-numbers 80's one-man-army flick that's pretty darn cool. It's full of memorable lines, albeit ridiculous ones- and intense action sequences. So who cares that it's just one big cliche? Not me, that's for damn sure. I should also point out, I watched this movie on VHS. The sleeve is faded, washed out, and adorned with age old rental stickers telling potential renters that this is, indeed, an "ACTION" movie. My VHS copy of Delta Force 3 has two "ACTION" stickers. Does that mean it has twice the action? I hope so.

Extraction


  The trailers for this movie made it look like fun. Cheap, mindless fun- but fun nonetheless. It looked adequate and fast paced. There was nothing to indicate it would be so boring and poorly acted. Now, I might seem a bit hypocritical judging this movie based on it's writing, directing, and acting, when I can give a movie like Invasion U.S.A. a hall pass without even blinking... but come on. That's implying that Kellan Lutz has the charisma and badass-gravitas of Chuck Fucking Norris. He doesn't by the way, and considering Bruce Willis' screentime might generously total out to maybe five minutes... Kellan is definitely the star of the movie alongside a completely wasted Gina Carano.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Creed


   In a day and age when the premise for this movie sounds like just one bad idea cash grab in a whole summer lineup of bad idea grabs, it's nothing short of inspiring that this movie is as good as it is. Of course, it had a lot of talent in it, and behind it. You'd almost be doing yourself a disservice thinking you're going to see a new "Rocky" movie. He's in it, and like an old friend it's a delight to see the character again, but this isn't his movie. Not by a long shot. You won't see the opening credits roll in the same way like a Rocky movie, you won't see Michael B. Jordan's character Adonis doing all of Stallone's old stunts. This isn't Rocky VII, this is Creed.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Death Wish 3


  I suppose there's another interesting conversation to be prompted by Death Wish 3, and like it's predecessor before it- it's a not-so-interesting movie. But, that's all irrelevant because Death Wish 3 is outright in-your-face crazy. It's far from the meticulous and calculating revenge thrillers of Death Wish 1 & 2, it's... something else. It's climax wouldn't be out of place in a Rambo movie, and the wit sizzles with the snappiness of a Dirty Harry flick. This isn't a low key vigilante movie- like the other two before it. This is an all-out action fest. Not that I'm complaining. This movie focuses less on sexual violence (although again, it's not entirely absent- regretfully) and more on widespread chaos and carnage- and apparently, Architect-turned-vigilante, Paul Kersey... is the right guy to clean these streets up.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Cyborg


  This post-apocalyptic action movie is a damn sight darker than your average world-in-ruins flick. The first few scenes show the devastation up close and with chilling visuals. One of the first things we see is the bloodied and naked corpse of a crucified woman just hanging there as things happen around it. All the characters are so jaded, nobody even notices. As the scene goes on, we see more bodies, dismembered, bloodied, et cetera. This scene would have way more effect if one of the bad guys in it wasn't a sweaty bodybuilding meathead with a perfectly cut 80's mullet. The movie is full of jarring contrasts like that, the least of which have anything to do with it's star- the then-rising star, Mr.Van Damme himself.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2


   It's really saying something when you can safely say this movie is probably one of the weirdest in Cannon's whole library of movies. It's horror-comedy that stands in stark contrast to it's almost cinéma vérité predecessor. It's big, it's loud, it's silly and over-the-top and somehow really really disturbing to boot. Director Tobe Hooper, who also did the first one, had no interest in a straight-faced sequel, and the producers apparently didn't quite get it. They thought they just had a dud of a horror movie on their hands. Something completely un-scary that nobody would ever wanna watch. Well, it is divisive- and I disagree about it being completely un-scary, it has some pretty terrifying scenes towards the end. Still, no matter how you slice (and dice) it, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 is weird as hell.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Pacific Rim


   In my short break from my Cannon-a-thon, I didn't really go too far off the menu. Giant alien monsters vs guys piloting giant mech robots. Which is the entire concept of Pacific Rim. It's colorful and filled with detail that your average summer blockbuster wouldn't have bothered with. Of course this is no surprise since it's none other than the excellent Guillermo Del Toro at the helm here. I know this review is at least a couple years overdue, and it's not like I haven't seen this movie (several times) before, but better late than never right? Either the giant monsters vs. giant robots line hooked you... or you're wrong. I kid, but only kind of. If the concept doesn't do much for you, the movie won't either. You gotta be a genre fan going into it, or you won't get much out of it. A lot of GDT fans ended up disappointed that this didn't transcend it's own genre, and I'm over here thinking... but why would you even want, need, or expect it to?

Runaway Train


  I didn't expect much from this mid-80's thriller. As a Cannon film, it doesn't really fit in their usual wheelhouse. There's no major action hero, no martial arts, no ninjas, no war, none of that stuff. Instead it's a gritty survival thriller with two escaped convicts on a runaway train. This isn't a premise with a lot of wiggle room. I mean, you either deliver a taut, suspense-filled flick, or you don't, and your movie sucks. Much to my surprise, Runaway Train is actually rather great. Jon Voight and Eric Roberts play the two convicts, and somehow everything just clicks. Their acting is phenomenal, the script is great, the direction is simply electric. Everything about this movie just... works. It's a massive well-oiled machine that runs on pure unleaded tension.

Invasion U.S.A.


   There's a scene in this movie where Chuck Norris' character says "I'm gonna hit you with so many rights, you're gonna beg for a left." with a completely straight face. If that doesn't make you smile, you're not the right audience for this movie. It has an interesting premise, albeit a mostly squandered one. Squads of terrorists infiltrate America, and disguise themselves as police officers, guards, soldiers- etc, and then set out on a campaign of chaos and carnage. Thus... effectively turning the American people against their own protectors. This movie could never be more cultural relevant than right now, except it never will be because the movie doesn't do much with this concept and it devolves into Chuck Norris vs. several hundred of stock bad guys.

Friday, December 4, 2015

American Ninja 2: The Confrontation


  Cannon sequels are great. Last night, before I decided on Death Wish 2, my other two options were American Ninja 2, and Delta Force 2. There's no way you can have a bad time there, no matter what you choose. Though, decidedly I'm a sucker for the more in-your-face, over-the-top kind of punch-em-up, slice-em-up, action flick like American Ninja 2 is. Nothing against Bronson and his brand of justice, I just really like these hokey-but-violent ninja movies. I took the liberty of inviting my little brothers to watch this one with me, and they loved it- of course. What pre-teen boy wouldn't get the biggest kick out a flick like this? They were also very appreciative of the humor in the movie, which was rather cheesy- but I can't deny it, I laughed too.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Death Wish II


  It donned on me in the first ten minutes or so while watching Death Wish II, that I was getting impatient waiting for whatever tragedy that would prompt Paul Kersey (Bronson) to pick up his old... 'hobby'. I realized this from a completely detached perspective and I had a horrible knee-jerk reaction to it. I was literally getting impatient, waiting for some innocent people to get maimed- likely raped and killed, so that the movie could finally get underway. It puts the viewer in a weird predicament. We want to see movies where the bad guys get what's coming to them- which is in this case, murder, but that means innocent people have to get seriously hurt first. Otherwise we can't justify enjoying the subsequent revenge/violence.

Enter the Ninja


  Continuing with my Cannon film binge, Enter the Ninja was next up- the only one out of the ninja 'trilogy' I hadn't seen. Starring... Franco Nero (the original Django) as a Texan named Cole... who's also a ninja... who goes to the Philippines to meet an old friend, and ends up fighting a personal war for said friend against some greedy land developers. I didn't make any of that up. I mean, this "trilogy" gets crazier with each entry, and I believe this was the middle one.  This is a mash up of wildly different cliches and tropes which somehow come together to make a really fun and ridiculous movie. Nero is dubbed with a stereotypical American accent, and it sounds rather silly to me. Not necessarily a bad dub, but still.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Missing in Action


   I seriously tried to watch Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines. I tried to watch it for a whole week. It just wasn't engaging on any level. I watched some other movies during the tail end of last month, but couldn't bring myself to review any of them because... well... Fallout 4 happened to me. Anyways, I decided to treat myself to a documentary today about Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, the two 'shlockmeisters' behind Cannon films. One of my favorite names in 80's movies. The whole thing was a weird nostalgia trip for me and now I couldn't help but dive into their 'canon' of movies I've never seen before. It was a no-brainer to start with a Norris flick- and it was almost going to be Invasion U.S.A. but the VHS copy I had bought of it last year (a hobby of mine) was completely destroyed. So Missing in Action was the obvious next choice.