Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Conan The Barbarian (2011)


   Color me unimpressed with this reboot of the iconic Cimmerian's film franchise. I wanted to like it, I really wanted to, but very few things stuck the landing for my taste. It's not the writing, or the acting that I took issue with- as a fan of the Clash of the Titans remake and it's sequel, I'd be absurdly hypocritical if those were the things that broke this movie for me. Unfortunately, it's the story, the look, the design, and even the casting of the eponymous barbarian that killed it for me. This just doesn't feel like Conan to me. It's an adequate sword and sorcery flick, but it fails to hit the right notes for me- feeling like a movie assembled by people only vaguely familiar with the genre.

Conan The Destroyer


   Conan The Destroyer is half the movie I had wanted Conan The Barbarian to be when I was younger. It's faster, it's more action packed, the plot is much more straightforward, and admittedly the movie is a lot of fun. So what's the problem? The problem is that it doesn't feel like a sequel to it's predecessor at all. A lot of people blame the PG rating, but the problem is deeper than that. Even deeper than the studio interference- though no doubt that did make it worse. The problem here is that this movie is the exact opposite of everything the first one was.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Conan The Barbarian


   I'm not someone who fell in love with this movie the first time they saw it. I'm only 22, so I didn't see this in 1982. I didn't see it when I was young. This wasn't my introduction to sword & sorcery. I grew up with Willow, Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings, Masters of the Universe and eventually the live action Lord of the Rings movies. I also grew up with just about every other one of Schwarzenegger's movies. Terminator 1 & 2, Predator, Total Recall, Commando- you name it. So when I first saw Conan The Barbarian, I expected to love it. It was going to be a balls-to-the-wall, hack n' slash flick, with untold gallons of blood spilled, and non-stop action! Only... it wasn't...

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Dragonslayer


   I guess I'm on a fantasy kick now? Worse things have happened. Anyways, standing in almost stark contrast to DragonHeart, the Disney/Paramount fantasy flick, Dragonslayer is darker, bloodier, bigger, and ultimately... better. When I think of dragons in movies, the mental images that my mind conjures up are exactly the kind of things on display in this movie. I've never seen in before, but that hardly mattered. Dragonslayer is a movie that will be intimately familiar to anyone who grew up on Disney movies, and the odd Barbarian flick on the side. It's Disney for grown ups- and in this movie, that actually means something.

DragonHeart


   Who wouldn't like to see a movie where Sean Connery voices a CGI dragon? Eat your heart out Cumberbatch. DragonHeart is one such movie, and it also features Dennis Quaid putting on a grizzled voice and rocking a medieval hairdo. This is already fantastic. Also, David Thewlis plays a villain and he's so clearly channeling Alan Rickman's sheriff of Notingham. It's a performance full of scenery chewing, and it's wonderful. Overall, DragonHeart is a harmless, straightforward adventure flick that never reaches the heights of genre classics, but also manages to be a few cuts above bargain bin material. It's simple, and that's okay.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Gods of Egypt


   It always strikes me funny that movies like this (i.e. big, historically inaccurate, blockbuster, action movies) get so much flak. People complained about Sam Worthington's haircut in the Clash of the Titans remake... of all things. In the midst of a movie that doesn't give one single crap about logic or the laws of physics, people decide to complain about a haircut. That's the nature of the complaints behind Gods of Egypt. This movie is one that you shouldn't engage on any logical level. It's like the cover of a heavy metal album, or a flashy video game cutscene. On those merits, Gods of Egypt is the best kind of over-the-top, big, dumb, fun.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Band of the Hand


   I knew I'd seen this exact same premise in motion before... on an episode of MacGyver. Which I can only assume came out around the time of the movie's release, to cash in on it's success. However, it's not like there's any quality competition here. As much as I love Richard Dean Anderson and his rad mullet, this urban action flick, Band of the Hand, by director Paul Michael Glaser is just as rad. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, but this tale of reformed hoodlums becoming street justice vigilantes is everything I could've wanted it to be. It's slick, funny, dark, serious, action packed, and never dull.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Full Contact


   I told you guys! I talked about this! About how club scenes are a key ingredient in a healthy number of action movies. It's a freakin' staple of the genre. Nightclubs, techno-clubs, rave clubs, and strip clubs, (book clubs?) only exist so guys like Chow Yun Fat, Keanu Reeves, Wesley Snipes, and Arnold Schwarzenegger can walk through them in slow motion, and eventually whip out some guns and unleash pure chaos. Full Contact is no exception. It has it's club scene shootout, and it's glorious. One of the most stylish and creative shootouts I've seen in ages. If you're an HK action buff, Full Contact is one to seek out.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Mission


   Johnnie To is a name I really should be more familiar with by now. He's one of the genre juggernauts when it comes to HK crime thrillers. As far as I know though, The Mission is my first To flick, and it made a hell of a first impression. A straightforward story is balanced with calculated shootouts and a timely sense of humor. I've seen enough HK cinema that I recognized most of the actors here, even if I couldn't pick em out by name. The whole cast was turning in great performances, it was entrancing. The Mission kept me glued to the screen from beginning to end. Can't complain about this lean little crime thriller.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Family Fang


   I realize I run a semi-niche blog, and that most of my readers probably won't flock to a dramady like this, but I've realized lately that I've inadvertently saddled myself with the reputation of a guy who only watches genre flicks. Only horror. Only sci-fi. Only action. Those might be my favorite genres, but I don't discriminate. I love film, period. Experimental, comedy, drama, romance. All of it. And, the one name I've learned to pay attention to over the past couple years is Jason Bateman. He's been consistently fantastic in everything I've seen him in, and The Family Fang is no exception.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Project A part II


   With neither Sammo Hung nor Yuen Biao returning for this sequel to the high-adventure of Project A, the result is a rather mixed bag. First off, Part II is much more story-centric. I found it easier to pay attention to the plot in this one than in the predecessor, probably because there was more to actually pay attention to? There's a wealth of sub-plots, and a lot of story, leaving the action and fight scenes to take a back seat. But, I don't think that was necessarily a bad thing. I found Project A part II to be genuinely engaging, even if it wasn't as explosive or action packed as it's predecessor.

Project A


   Project A is a big period piece adventure flick on the old coast of China. There's cops, naval officers, pirates and gangsters. In the middle of all of this is superman Jackie Chan. He carries the movie with a buzzing energy that only he could, making Project A a blast from start to finish- even if it is a bit... much. I haven't been so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of non-stop action in a movie, like this, ever. This was a first for me. Maybe I was simply tired? But, even the people I watched it with- all Chan-fans, agreed that this was excessively jam packed full of action. I didn't even know I could get worn out on fighting and action scenes before I saw this movie!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Friday the 13th (2009)


   Ready to run away from this movie screaming? All I need to do is say four words: produced... by... Michael... Bay! So, you'd think it'd be horrifying in all the wrong ways, right? Wrong! This is actually a damn fine Friday the 13th movie that isn't a remake at all so much as it is just a shot-in-the-arm for the franchise. One that sadly did little to jump start things again. Which is a same because this movie had all the right ingredients that fans want from these movies. It's a non-preachy, R rated, back to basics, no-CGI, you-have-sex-and-you-die, horror flick! Why did people bash this so much? It's exactly what they've been asking for. They fuckin' got it, and spat in it's face. Damn, man.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Doomsday


   There's some movies that you can't even describe without listing all the movies it's clearly inspired by. In this case, Doomsday is clearly The Road Warrior meets Escape from New York with a dash of 28 Days Later thrown in for good measure. But, for a movie nerd like me, I was noticing references and throwbacks to so many other movies. Director Neil Marshall keeps cranking out consistently entertaining movies, and Doomsday is no except. So what if it rips off a ton of other movies? It's still a blast. There's no need to start a debate about homage vs rip-off, because rip-offs used to be awesome and in my humble opinion, Doomsday is the last great rip-off.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Replacement Killers


   Few things bring me as much joy in life as a good damn action movie does. Bonus points if it has and/or opens on a club scene with a hip techno beat blasting. Movies like The Matrix, Blade, xXx, Collateral, John Wick and even The Terminator come to mind. Odds are, you've seen a hundred movies with shootouts in techno clubs. If you think that's a casual exaggeration, think again. I'm very sure the number is right around 100 or more. The Replacement Killers is no exception. It opens with Chow Yun Fat's character, hitman John Lee, slowly walking through the raving crowd of a techno club. Oh ho ho boy, this is already promising!

Monday, May 16, 2016

SSX 3


   I don't know why I'm reviewing a bunch of games from the latter years of my childhood, but I am. So deal with it. 90% of my personality is one un-ending nostalgia trip. You say "It's" I say "morphin' time!" You say "snowboarding"... I say SSX 3. That's just how these things go. I've been on a snowboard once in my life, and it was in my friend's backyard. We did nothing but fall over and sprain a couple ankles. If you asked me who my favorite snowboarder was, I couldn't tell you. I don't have one outside of this game. Me even coming across this game is a story unto itself, because it's still really not the kind of game I'd ever gravitate to on my own.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Superman Returns (game)


   Everyone talks about good games or absolutely awful games, but quickly forgotten bargain bin games only ever get talked about in a Top 20 article, or not at all. So, in the spirit of whatever and reviewing some random game, I give to you... the people of earth, Superman Returns. A game based on a movie not many people even liked, and to make matters worse, it came out several months after the movie. Go figure. However, the allure of flying around in an open world setting, with a host of super powers at my disposal was too cool for 12 year old me to turn down.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

DOOM - First Impressions


   Doom means a lot to me as I'm sure it does to millions and millions of people. I love the games, even Doom 3, and I've poured countless hours into them. I love Doom so much that a year or more ago, I tried getting a fan film off the ground, based on a feature length Doom movie screenplay I was writing. Point is, I'm passionate about Doom. It's my thing. Rip and tear, man! Rip and tear! Suffice it to say, I had high hopes and major expectations for ID software's return to their most famous property.  From what I've played so far I can safely say it's a blast. It's the game fans wanted Doom 3 to be, which is saying a lot.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Kickboxer


   As the marginally more violent brother to Bloodsport, 1989's Kickboxer is a decent cinematic companion to the underground tournament flick, but manages to have more in common with a Rocky movie than anything else. What fresh hell is this? You might ask. Rocky? No way. Yes way. See, there's a big difference between Bloodsport and Kickboxer and it never really hit me until just watching it now. Bloodsport is a tournament flick, Kickboxer is a one-on-one vendetta-fight flick. Which means Bloodsport can be grouped in with Enter the Dragon, Mortal Kombat, Undisputed, The Best of the Best, Bloodfist, and hell... even The Karate Kid is a tournament flick. Kickboxer is not, and it makes a world of difference.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Bloodsport


   Following up Kickboxer 2 with Bloodsport really put things into perspective for me. Bloodsport is an okay movie, not a great one and aaaarguably not even a "good" one, but it's a fun one and I like it a lot. But, this is one of a handful of movies that kinda set the bar for low-rent fighting movies. It's halfway between Mortal Kombat and Enter the Dragon, with the former being on a low rung, and the latter being of the highest class in the genre. Bloodsport moves with confidence and charisma. It's easy to watch, and even easier to quote. What the hell is a dim mak after all?

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Kickboxer 2


   I'm a major Fan Damme, so you could imagine it was a struggle for me to bring myself to watch Kickboxer 2. It's a cash grab sequel to a movie that didn't need one and worse yet, it doesn't even have the star from the original. There's no way this movie could be good. Right? Right...? Well, sorta right. Also sorta wrong. Kickboxer 2 is a mixed bag for sure, but it's still a lot of fun. I can't stress that enough, if you're a fan of the genre (the low-budget, direct-to-video, unnecessary-sequel-to-a-fighting-and/or-ninja-movie genre), you're more than likely going to enjoy Kickboxer 2. I know I did.

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Witch


   Critically praised, and audience panned; The Witch (or The VVitch if you go by the poster spelling) is something of an oddity. It's a mainstream horror film that leaves genre conventions in the dust. It might as well be an arthouse effort, or something from Lars Von Trier simply due to how different it is. It's a slow burn horror flick that takes it's time to build a raw and unsettling sense of dread. Sometimes it's not about what you see, or don't see, it's simply about what's going on. I get the sense that audiences were looking for more straightforward scares, but The Witch is a movie that becomes terrifying once you imagine what it must be like for the characters.