Monday, January 21, 2008

Shoot 'Em Up (2007)

Director: Michael Davis

Starring: Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: I'm a British nanny and I'm dangerous.

Plot: Late at night, in an unnamed U.S. city, a solitary man sits at a bus stop. A pregnant woman runs by, pursued by a man with a gun. With reluctance, the man at the bus stop rescues her and assists with the baby's delivery, while additional pursuers fire at them, including the gang's particularly nasty leader, an intuitive man named Hertz. Our hero, known only as Smith, determines to save the child and find out why Hertz wants the baby dead. At a local bordello, he tries to employ a lactating hooker to watch the child, but things quickly escalate, and this makeshift family is soon on the run. Heavy metal music calms the baby. Why? A laboratory, a gun factory, and a presidential campaign all figure in Smith's search for the child's ultimate safety.

My Rating: 9/10

Would I watch it again? Hell, yeah!

When I saw this in the theater I walked out feeling like I'd been on a wild, wild ride. So when I caught it a second time, on DVD, I was worried that I wouldn't have as much fun and boy was I wrong.

This movie's a gas from start to finish. Clive Owen IS the man. Ever since I first saw him in CROUPIER (HIGHLY recommended) I believed I was looking at the next James Bond once Brosnan stepped down. And when Owen was one of the top 3 guys being considered for the part and then turned it down I was disappointed. He's an actor that has that Connery had back in the 60s that just exuded raw manliness. Once I got over the idea that my ideal Bond wouldn't be Owen and that Craig was the new guy I was totally cool since I had just seen Craig in LAYER CAKE and I was very pleased that they chose a very good actor. And we all know how that turned out.

"Bond, James Bond"

At one point early on Owen picks up what appears to be a Walther PPK (Bond's favorite weapon) and says, "What a piece of crap" as he tosses it aside. It was with that moment I realized why he didn't take the Bond role. Because he's going to have a lot more fun playing roles like this instead of being tied down to 3, 4 or more pictures with the limitations of being that well-established character. He's getting to be Bond here only amped-up to the nth degree and having a lot more fun with it. Geez, I've barely talked about the movie.

It's obvious that everyone involved in this picture is having a blast - especially the two leads, Owen and Giamatti. Giamatti is hysterical and a welcome change to the hitman persona. He's smart, funny and brutal and has some of the best lines in the film. I loved his character and I hope that someday he'll bring him back for another adventure. There were moments where I felt Monica Bellucci was miscast. Maybe it was her accent, I don't know. But she's fluent in Italian, English, French and Spanish so I can't fault her on that. Girls that speak more than one language are HOT!

The film ends up being this violent dance between Owen and Giamatti that escalates from the first few minutes of incredulity to a massive demonstration on how far you can suspend your disbelief. But damn if it ain't one of the most enjoyable rides I've had in a long long time. And as soon as you're off you want to get back in line and do it all over again.

Vampires (1998)

Director: John Carpenter

Starring: James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Maximillian Schell

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: From the master of terror comes a new breed of evil.

Plot: A vengeful vampire hunter must retrieve a cross before it falls into the hands of the undead, that could produce dire consequences for humanity.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Would I watch it again? Probably

If there could be one reason I would recommend this movie it's because of James Woods. He's obviously having a blast playing his character as a serious-to-the-bone-badass. I kind of got the impression that it might have been written with Kurt Russell which isn't a stretch considering the number of times Carpenter and Russell worked together. The dialogue had that Carpenter pacing associated with Russell's characters - quick and sharp.

Woods is a badass in VAMPIRES but a badass you laugh with all through the picture. He doesn't take any bullshit and has no time for amateurs, even from a priest. He's got a job to do - kill vampires.

The western setting is great. I'm a huge western fan so whenever there's a genre film like horror that takes place in the West (especially the Old West) I'm all over it. So that gets points right there.

The real downside is that somewhere about 2/3 into the picture it starts to grow tiresome and by the time the big fight at the end comes around I'm ready to wrap things up and go. It's still a fun ride and I really like the different take Carpenter gives the vampire story. Like in the way they are disposed of for example. There's a heavy duty truck outside with a wench. Inside our hero(s) has a crossbow with a large wooden stake attached to the cable from the wench and once a vampire is struck with it he/she is dragged outside into the daylight and catches fire. THAT is cool. The only problem I have with that is they do it one after another which isn't possible unless you go back outside, get the cable again, and reload. But I guess we're not supposed to think about it that much.

I certainly recommend it but it's not great. There are plenty of interesting things along the way to make it different and fun. There's something that happens early on in the picture that, as you see at the end, sets us up for a sequel but given the time since the film came out doesn't look like we'll get it. And I'm OK with that.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Underworld (2003)

Director: Len Wiseman

Starring: Kate Beckinsale and a bunch of names I don't recognize

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: An immortal battle for supremacy.

Plot: A war has been raging between the Vampires and Lycan for centuries, Selene (Beckinsale) is a death dealer, assigned to hunt down and eradicate the last of the Lycan. When she comes across Michael Corvin (Speedman)who holds the key to end the war she must decide where her allegiances will lie.

My Rating: 6/10

Would I watch it again? Probably not. Once was enough I think.

I've learned over the years that with certain films you should lower your expectations. You never know what you're going to get. After seeing STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE (which I did not like) my expectations could not have been any lower than they were for ATTACK OF THE CLONES. As a result I liked CLONES "a little" better than MENACE. I had high anticipation and low expectations for SNAKES ON A PLANE and I loved it - laughed my ass off. So when I popped this in the other night I was surprised that it wasn't as bad as I had expected. It wasn't as good as I would have wanted it to be either.

I'm cool with the story. It's actually pretty cool. What's not cool is:

1) the acting by a few of the lesser characters which I can sometimes tolerate if it doesn't exist side-by-side with...

2) the need for just about every vampire/werewolf to walk around like they're a badass strutting their stuff on a catwalk at a fashion show

3) the voice of Raze, a big muscular guy, which is so low, deep and obviously altered by a computer, I wished they had gone a few more notches so that it would have been so low I couldn't hear it.

Despite all of that I had a relatively good time watching it. The look of the film is great with a good deal of blue tint - nice. The special effects are quite good as well and had a few loud "Cool"'s coming out of my mouth.

I believe this is the first time I've seen Beckinsale in anything. Looking at her credits I see that she was in PEARL HARBOR. I saw it but it' s not like I remember anything about that movie except that it sucked. Maybe if it were called PEARL NECKLACE HARBOR it might have stood out a little more. It was with that film, btw, that I vowed never to forget Michael Bay's name and avoid his turds like the plague. Getting back...I couldn't tell whether or not Beckinsale is a good actress. She's OK in this but, given the role she's playing, she doesn't have much to do in the way of acting. It's mostly a physical role. I did very much like how she fit into that leather/vinyl outfit. She can't weigh more than 80 pounds. It wouldn't hurt her to eat a sandwich with mayonnaise on it once in a while.

I'm sure she won't be showing off any acting chops in UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION (2006). I'll get around to it at some point. I certainly won't find it in VAN HELSING partly 'cause I ain't gonna see it.

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Director: Charles E. Sellier Jr.

Starring: Robert Brian Wilson & Linnea Quigley's boobs

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: He knows when you've been naughty

Plot: After his parents are murdered, a young tormented teenager goes on a murderous rampage dressed as Santa, due to his stay at an orphanage where he was abused by the Mother Superior.

My Rating: 7/10

Would I watch it again? Every Xmas! I smell a new tradition!

That's about as sound of a plot as I need for something like this. This was great. The opening scenes with the catatonic grandpa sitting in a wheelchair not responding to anything his son and his family say/do and then SUDDENLY when everyone is out of the room except for Billy he explodes into a rant about how Santa hurts bad little boys and girls is priceless. Then minutes later Billy witnesses a brutal act by a criminal dressed as Santa committing violent acts against his family. AWESOME!!!

Then Billy spends his childhood in an orphanage run by a total bitch mother superior, prepping him to go apeshit when the cut him loose at age 18. Once's ON!

Oh, man, this movie is terrific. It's got a pretty good story, some pretty good acting, GREAT kills, required 80's horror movie nudity provided by Quigley, some wonderfully dark humor and the editing & pacing moves along with barely a dull moment.

I certainly don't have a problem with nudity, and this is NOT a complaint - just an observation...but when Quigley is getting it on with her boyfriend, whoever the hell that was, she strips down of course. I bring this up because of what happens next. She talks about how they need to be careful not to make any noise because she doesn't want her 8 year old sister to see them naked. Yet when she hears something outside that she thinks is her cat (hahahahaha) she puts only her pants on, prances around the house topless (thank you, Ms. Quigley) making her way to the front door (topless), opens it (topless) and starts calling her cat (topless) with the door wide open for everyone to see (topless)!!! It's a stupid silly scene that existed ONLY for the nudity. On behalf of movie lovers everywhere, Thank you, director Sellier.

There were a few scenes in the store showing the toy isle. Many of the friends I had over that night were kids of the late 70s/early 80s and we got a big kick out of seeing so many toys we enjoyed back then. There were a few minutes of pausing and zooming taking a trip back in time. That was fun. What wasn't fun were the hideously bad Xmas songs strewn throughout the picture. Woof. I'd like to think this was a hi-brow comment on the hideously bad contemporary Xmas songs that we're bombarded with every year but then again maybe they just didn't have the money or the talent to write something decent.

And then there was the ending...


I, with most of those in attendance, wanted the mother superior to get whacked (literally, with the axe in Billy's hands) but he gets shot as he's about to do it. I would have loved to have seen that axe fall, as he fell, and land square in her head or chest (either would've worked for me. I'm not picky).


But they do set up very nicely the sequel. This year we're watching the sequel. I can't wait. I'll be good. I promise. Well....


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bad Santa (2003)

Director: Terry Zwigoff

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Kox, Brett Kelly, Lauren "Hubba Hubba" Graham, Bernie Mac, John Ritter

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: He's very naughty . . . and not very nice.

Plot: A miserable conman and his partner pose as Santa and his Little Helper to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. But they run into problems when the conman befriends a troubled kid, and the security boss discovers the plot.

My Rating: 9/10 (Yes, it's that damn funny)

Would I watch it Again? Does the Pope wear a funny hat? Hell, yeah.

I love, love, love this movie. I've probably seen it a half dozen times since I first caught it in the theater all those 4 years ago. It's funny as hell and it's got heart without beating you over the head with it. It's vulgar, offensive, disgusting, revolting, and in such bad taste I can't recommend this enough. If you haven't seen this then it's your duty as a lover of fine film to seek this out and let its richness engulf your senses with pure, unadulterated, raunchy goodness that only comes once a year.

The cast is amazing. I have no doubt there will ever be anyone who will play Santa better than Thornton. Tony Cox is right on target as the pissed off elf. The Kid (Kelly) is terrific. Lauren Graham...I just want to eat her up - with or without chopsticks. Bernie Mac is amazing. John Ritter, as the pussy-fied mall manager, is a riot. EVERYONE pulls out great performances.

Now, it's not a continuous laugh riot like you might think. The laughs are all over the place and there's some gut busters, sure, but there's also some slight tender moments that will catch you off guard. Thornton is pathetic and he knows it and he's content with it. He only slightly comes around but in his way that sets this apart from what other filmmakers would have done with it. Christopher "HOME ALONE" Columbus' BAD SANTA this ain't.

I could go on at length about this. I won't but I will say this. There are two scenes that stand out for me that I have to point out. The first is when Ritter goes to Mac to see if he can do anything about getting ride of Thornton & Cox. There's a verbal dance that transpires back and forth, and very quickly, that is pitch perfect in its comic timing as if it were the castanets and Spanish guitar in a Flamenco tune. I don't dare laugh until it's over for fear of missing a beat.

Then there's the scene with Mac telling Thornton & Cox that he's onto them and wants half of their cut. Not 30%, 33, 33 and a third, 35, 40, 45, 48, or 49 but half. Funny stuff. The editing in all of this is outstanding and plays a large part in the success of these scenes.

Seriously, check this out if you haven't already. It's certainly different and more original than just about everything out there and it certainly doesn't go where you think it's going to. And with me that's pretty much at the top of my list.

Oh, and while you're at it, check out Terry Zwigoff's other work including GHOST WORLD and the excellent CRUMB. CRUMB, especially, will leave you a different person than you were before you watched it. That may or may not be a good thing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Gator Bait (1974)

Directors: Beverly & Ferd Sebastion

Starring: Claudia Jennings, Bill Thurman, Sam Gilman and a bunch more people you've never heard of.

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Unless they get her first... she'll never let them out alive!

Plot: Desiree lives deep in the swamp and supports herself and her siblings by poaching. Ben and deputy Billy hope to get a little sexual comfort from the "Cajun swamp rat" when they catch Desiree trapping 'gators, and give chase. Desiree outsmarts them but Billy accidentally shoots Ben and tells his sheriff dad that Desiree did it. Ben's dad and sons join them in the search party and quickly get out of control. Soon the hunters become the hunted as Desiree exacts her revenge for their violence against her family.

View Trailer: What gives? There's nothing to show? So you'll have to find a copy somewhere?

My Rating: 6/10

Would I watch it again? Probably not. Give me I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE instead.

Way back when I was working at a mom & pop video store while in college I remember seeing this video cover and thinking, "What a piece of shit!". Well, while I wouldn't go so far as to say that, I can't say it's a new camp/sleaze favorite either.

It's actually pretty good until all of the men folk are stuck in the swamp and she's hunting them down one by one. Usually in movies it's the other way around; you get a long, boring, drawn-out set-up followed by 30 minutes of ass-kickin' revenge. Not here. The setup is good with this cajun girl (Jennings, a then recent Playboy Playmate) being lusted after by everyone and wrongfully accused of murder when she won't put out to the sheriff's deputy/son. Then we've got the sheriff trying to talk the dead boy's father into letting him investigate but that's a no-go. So now we're off to hunt down the filthy murderin' sexpot.

So far it's not to shabby. I'm with it. I'm diggin' it. Hell, in the first 15 minutes one of the dead boy's brothers trys to have sex with his sister who's way hotter than little Ms. September-with-a-shotgun. After a while they get lost in the swamp and, for the most part, they're on foot. Then she starts to pick 'em off. Now I'm ready for some action 'cause this is usually where it starts to pick up in these types of movies. They've given me a great first half now they slow things down to a crawl.

It's the pacing and lack of editing in the last half hour that killed it for me. It definitely needed to be tightened up. I kept distracting myself by looking at the microwave, picking my nose, picking my friends' nose...because I was getting fits of boredom and that bothered me. Maybe if I didn't watch it alone and had some friends and drinks over it would have been better. By the time things finally wound down to the finish line I just didn't care any more. I wanted them all dead. The did give a little twist at the end in addition to setting you up for a sequel for which you had to wait FOURTEEN FRIGGIN' YEARS FOR!!! I may wait that long before I see GATOR BAIT II: CAJUN JUSTICE. Ooooooooooh.

Here's my favorite part - the acting. Jennings is absolutely horrible. It'd be one thing if she were naked throughout the entire picture but she ain't. In the rare moments she opens her mouth to speak any of the probably 2 dozen words total, I couldn't help but laugh. They should have made her mute or something. Funny as hell. Except for the typical redneck/cajun types the best acting award of this film goes to.........this guy....

He's great and feels like he's the real deal. I'm sure he wasn't an actor or much of one which probably lends to his believability. It's only when he gets fightin' mad (like in the above pic) that his acting chops fade and fast.

Man I wish the last half hour were tightened up more. It would've made it so much more enjoyable. It's not a good sign when you watch a movie and get to a point where you start thinking about other movies of that type that are better. I should have hit a jug of hooch at that point. Maybe making a drinking game out of it would work. Drink whenever you get bored and if you're still awake at the end...YOU WIN!

10 to Midnight (1983)

Director: J. Lee Thompson

Staring: Charles Bronson, Gene Davis, Geoffrey Lewis, Wilford Brimley

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Back in town... with a vengeance!

Plot: A serial killer gets his kicks by knifing his victims while naked. A veteran cop, Leo Kessler (Bronson) believes that he has found the killer and plants fake evidence to obtain a conviction. When this "evidence" is discovered the killer is released, and plans his revenge by stalking Kessler's daughter...

My Rating: 7/10

Would I watch it again? It's Bronson. Of course.

Every Bronson film review from this day forth shall start with...

Bronson = Badass! He doesn't say much...he doesn't have to.

That pretty much sums up a lot of his characters. In his personal life he was a quiet man. He life was private and he didn't want much to do with Hollywood. It was a gig. After DEATH WISH in 1974 he could write his own ticket. He worked largely with directors he was close to and good friends with. Tom Gries, Michael Winner and J. Lee Thompson. He worked with Thompson on 9 films and I'm stunned that, with as many Bronson films I've seen, I've only seen one of those 9 (this one).

OK, sure, Bronson played the same types of characters in a lot of his films from the early 70s through the 90s but he was really good at playing those types of characters. There's nothing wrong with that. Go with what you know. In 10 TO MIDNIGHT Bronson plays a veteran cop/detective much like he's done in the past. This time it's just a different assignment.

Bronson owns every scene he's in. Period. He doesn't say much but when he does, it's good.

I will debate anyone on this but I believe he's a much better actor than most people (and his films) give him credit for. There's one scene, as small as it is, that really caught me off-guard. Bronson is riding in his car with his partner to go see the parents of a recently murdered girl and break the news to them. Bronson reminices about the neighborhood they're driving through as it's been a long time since he's been there when his partner tells him the address they're going to. At that moment Bronson recalls knowing someone who used to live at that address which turns out to be an old friend of his. The sudden realization in that moment feels so real and it's one of those moments that made me sit up and say, "Nice!". It's a tiny moment, sure, but
it's incredibly effective.

And then there's the fun stuff that Bronson does so well. He's a hard case and when he knows he's right, he's an animal when defending it. He KNOWS that Warren Stacy (Gene Davis) is the killer so he plants some evidence in Stacy's apt. and comes back to arrest him and do a thorough search. But, as Stacy strips nude before each kill, he has no clothing with blood on it. Bronson has a great scene where he's interrogating Stacy...

BRONSON: Warren, do you recognize this? Ever see one of THESE before? What's it used for? What's a matter? Cat got your tongue? It's for JACKIN' OFF, isn't it?

Classic. Seeing that pocket pussy pump flopping around makes it even more laughable. And then there's other little things like when after Stacy's been released once it's known that Bronson planted evidence, and Bronson's lost his job. Bronson spend the rest of the picture determined to take Stacy down. Bronson pulls up next to Stacy at a traffic light and gives him a smile...

That look. Oh, man it's good. Before you know it the movie's over and you've had a great time. It's not Bronson's best but it's good and certainly worth watching.

Everyone around Bronson does a pretty good job except, really, for Davis. I got the feeling the only reason why he got the job is because he looks good naked. His acting is OK at best. Although it would have been nice to have had a better actor in the role to play against Bronson but when Bronson = Badass, does it really matter?

Shogun Assassin (1980)

Director: Robert Houston

Starring: Tomisaburo Wakayama, Samurai & Ninjas

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: it's impossible to keep a body count!

Plot: Shogun decapitator, lone wolf, ronin. Travels with his son, Daigoro, in search of the Shogun that is paranoid of his skills. In the attempts to kill Lone Wolf, Shogun's ninja kills his wife and leaves him to care for the boy. Lone Wolf swears that Shogun will pay for his deeds. Revenge and justice drive Lone Wolf through Japan's forests and deserts in search of vengeance.

My Rating: 7/10

Would I watch it again? No, because I'd much rather see any of the LONE WOLF AND CUB films this is compiled from instead.

#55 on 42nd Street Forever Vol. 2: The Deuce (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

This film has a cult following. I've heard about it for years and I finally got around to seeing it. Now, I loves me some martial arts films, ninja films, Japanese samurai films and such. There are 25 or so films in the Zatoichi blind swordsman series and I've seen a few. They're all very good. And I've seen quite a few other Japanese samurai pictures and they were also very enjoyable.

From what I understand, SA came about when an American producer decided to take two films (from the film series of LONE WOLF AND CUB from the early 70s) and put them together to make a more action-filled movie with a new English dubbing. It sounds like a disaster. It isn't but then it's not exactly a home run either. The result is action-filled (and I'd say a little too much) but it also has a few "what the hell is going on?" and "now WHO are these guys?" moments that arise because of the combining of two seperate story lines.

Surprisingly the English dubbing is good. The music's OK but, knowing this film is the combination of two other fims, I couldn't help but think, as I watched it, that I'd probably enjoy each of the two films in their original language much better. I haven't seen either of them yet but I expect it will happen sooner than later and for that reason I'm not going to comment much on this film because what's good about it, I suspect, probably plays out much better in the orginal films.

"Zee plane, Boss! Zee plane!"

I will say this, though. If you're not familiar with the samurai genre then this would be a good starting point. You can do a helluva lot worse. I would only hope that, upon seeing it, it will whet your appetite for more of the genre and seek out any of the ZATOICHI series or any Akira Kurosawa samurai film and see what great action and great drama can do side-by-side.

Blood Simple (1984)

Directors: Joel & Ethan Coen

Writers: Joel & Ethan Coen

Composer: Carter Burwell

Starring: John Getz, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya, M. Emmet Walsh

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Breaking up is hard

Plot: Marty hires a private investigator to spy on his wife, who he suspects of cheating. Marty hires a private investigator to kill his wife and her lover and, naturally, things don't go as planned. People die. Life is beautiful.

My Rating: 9/10

Would I watch it again? Chyeah!

Say, kids. Ya like your crime movies a little bit on the fucked-up side? Hows 'bout a lotta bit? That's Joel & Ethan Coen for ya. I love these guys. I've seen all of their films in the theater except for the hysterical RAISING ARIZONA. (That's one of Nicolas Cages few GOOD films, by the way.) There's one thing about the Coen brothers' films, especially their crime films, and that's that something ALWAYS goes wrong and when I mean wrong I mean REALLY wrong. An uncomfortable wrong. This is the film that started it for them.

It's fantastic. Hell, I just talked myself in giving it a 9 when I had previously given it an 8. As with all of their films the performances are some of the finest, if not THE finest, the actors will ever give. John Getz..great. Frances McDormand...great but really gets cookin' later on in FARGO...awesome. Dan Hedaya...fantastic. I've never seen him give anything this side of amazing. But the actor who blows away the lot is M. Emmet Walsh. I think this may be the closest this character actor ever came to a starring role but he certainly deserved more. If you're not familiar with his name you will definitely know his face. He's a beast in BS. Slimy to the core. His performance is so thick and rich you can almost smell him.

BS has got some very choice bits of dialogue. In the beginning of the film Visser (a P.I. played by Walsh) brings Marty (Hedaya) the news & photos on Marty's cheating wife. Marty hates Visser and everything he stands for and finds it difficult to even look upon him. Visser is a wise-cracking slimy snake who somewhat relishes in having to dispense of the unwanted news when we get this exchange:

Marty: In ancient greece they used to cut the head off of the messenger who brought bad news.
Visser: That don't make much sense.
Marty: No...but it made 'em feel better

The atmosphere is dank. From the saloon to the motel room to the empty apartment at the film's climax. The lighting, like in so many noir-esque pictures, is a character of its own. Just look at the blue thrown off onto Hedaya's face from the bug zapper. This guy is PISSED! It's almost as if it's the blue of a flame. He's boiling inside and he's ready to explode.

I've never been much of a fan of composer Carter Burwell but his scores for the Coen Bros. are outstanding. BS is very atmospheric to the point of creeping under your skin making you ever so uncomfortable...but in a way that you like. And you know you like it...GIGGIDY!

I'm not going into any plot details. If you like crime films you must see this. It's unique. It's gritty. It's darkly hilarious. Much like the way FARGO is. With their latest film, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN out it's nice to go back and revisit an old neo-noir that picks you up by the short & curlys and never lets go. Check it out. You'll be glad you did.

In the Name of the King (2007)

Director: Uwe Boll

Starring: Jason Statham (The Transporter), Burt Reynolds (Bandit), Ray Liotta (Goodfellas), John Rhys-Davies (Gimli), Ron Perlman (Hellboy), Leelee Sobieski (Helen Hunt Lookalike)

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Rise and fight

Plot: A man named Farmer sets out to rescue his kidnapped wife and avenge the death of his son -- two acts committed by the Krugs, a race of animal-warriors who are controlled by the evil Gallian.

My Rating: 5/10

Would I watch it again? Nope.

I had a most unusual feeling today when I finished watching this in the theater. I neither liked it nor disliked it. I don't think I'll be able to explain it, either. Boll's reputation is notoriously bad. His lifetime tomatometer at is at a 5% approval by the nation's (USA) top 150-200 critics and the highest rating for just one of his films (as director) at imdb is 4.41! Still at imdb, of the 14 films he has directed, all but 5 have a rating below 3.0. That's out of 10, folks.

So today I broke by UB cherry and I have to say it wasn't half bad. But then it wasn't half good, either. I received a free ticket last week when I bought a $10 DVD I was going to buy anyway so what the hell, right? Why not, right? I fully expected to walk out from all the bad press this guy gets. I didn't which is especially strange considering its 2 hour and 4 minute runtime. What Boll got right was the pacing. There's plenty of action and the plot moves right along. There's not much time to sit around and poke at things with a stick. It looks like a moderately-sized budget (to a degree) Lord of the Rings knockoff and it pretty much is...right down to a circling overhead shot of 4 of our heroes walking across a natural rock bridge much like the the first LOTR and one of them is Gimli. Oh, and the music's quite good for what it is. Good as in it wasn't bad and there was an interesting main theme.

Now for the bad. I can't make up my mind whether the casting director should be taken out back and shot or given an medal. Just look at the cast! Bandit as a German king? The first 3 times he appeared on screen I chuckled. I got used to it eventually but what I didn't get used to was his bad acting. I haven't seen much of Burt's recent work on screen in the past dozen years except for his excellent turn in BOOGIE NIGHTS and his sad appearance in THE LONGEST YARD remake (which sucked) but he's really gone downhill. Woof. I will give him some credit for one scene where he shined. He's sitting at a large dining table eating with his nephew who's a snivelling crybaby trying to win Bandit's favor by grovelling and shit when Bandit's just leaning back into his chair, saying virtually nothing, and looking at him like the pathetic shit that he is and enjoying the torture this punk is putting himself through. THAT was actually a great scene. But that's it.

Gimli brought some weight to the film and he delivered some pretty cheesy dialogue but Gimli, being Gimli, pulled it off better than most. The Transporter spoke 90% of his dialogue under his breath and there were at least two lines I couldn't hear clearly because it was so damn soft. Hellboy was cool but he didn't last long before he snuffs it. OOOOOOOPS. I forgot to say, "SPOILERS". As if anyone's going to see this.

The Helen Hunt Lookalike proves once again she can't act. I don't know what the hell she did with the money her parents gave her to spend on acting lessons but something tells me it was probably something along the lines of multi-colored butt plugs. Just this morning my left testicle pulled out a better performance than she did. And I didn't even have to yell, "Action!" I smell OSCAR...

I smell something alright.

And then there's the WTF casting decision of the year (I'm pretty confident about this one) - Goodfellas as the evil magician?!? Don't get me wrong. I was having a blast watching him play with what he had. Hell. I can't blame him for doing it. He's great but he doesn't belong there. Which reminds me...I guess it's a good thing that none of the non-English (UK) actors tried to sport a European accent but it still felt laughable - especialy with Bandit and Goodfellas.

The CGI effects were, for the most part, good for what they were trying to be and nothing more. Sometimes dodgy and sometimes fantastic. Boll's picked some beautiful locations but I'm betting that most of the money was spent on effects.

I just can't say go see it and I can't say don't see it. It's certainly not as bad as it's being portrayed. So if you want a time killer that has some amusement factor (the casting alone is riotous) then knock yourself out. You can do a lot worse. But then you might be content to have someone jingle car keys in front of your face while you have some popcorn and coke. Depending on the keys it could be worth it.