I use hands to help my fellow man / I use hands to help with what I can / But when I face an unjust injury / Then I change my hand into FIST OF FURY

Archive for March, 2008

Death Wish 4: The Crackdown

Friday, March 28th, 2008

For part 3 Michael Winner stripped DEATH WISH down to its crudest elements. There was nowhere further to go within. So for THE CRACKDOWN new director J. Lee Thompson (GUNS OF THE NAVARONE, the last two PLANET OF THE APES movies, THE EVIL THAT MEN DO, tons of other shit) dresses it back up again. You know this right away from the opening which contains suspense, mood, atmosphere, build, surprise, and symbolism, all forbidden by part 3’s strict DOGME style rules.

Kersey is an architect again, and has a family again – another reporter girlfriend with a teenage daughter he regards as his own daughter (we know this because he says “I regard her as if she were my own daughter.”) Oh jesus, not more gang rape, right? (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

Friday, March 28th, 2008

From the Academy Award winning writer of L.A. CONFIDENTIAL and MYSTIC RIVER, and the director of DEEP BLUE SEA, and with a story by the guy who did the novelization of E.T., comes a new old name in terror…

or, to put it another way, from the writer of PAYBACK and the director of DIE HARD 2 comes a part 4 that’s not as awesome as that sounds. If you are a Freddy devotee like myself you enjoy watching this crap every once in a while, but it’s the first one in the series that doesn’t advance the story at all.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s kind of nice that they continue with some of the characters from part 3, you don’t see that in too many slasher sequels. This one starts out with Kincaid, Joey and Kristen (now played by Tuesday Knight instead of Patricia Arquette and seeming to have a completely different personality) out of the institution and in a regular high school like the kids in parts 1-2. (I wonder if they all go to the same school Nancy did? I’m not sure.) (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

The Mist

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

THE MIST is called THE MIST because it’s a cool and refreshing vapor of soothing horror quality in a sea of crappy bombast. Also because it’s about a mysterious mist that surrounds a small town and when they go into it there’s monsters. The small town is Castle Rock, Maine and you know what that means: based on a Stephen King story. The weird thing is the hero, Thomas Punisher Jane, is not an alcoholic writer, he is a guy who paints movie posters exactly like Drew Struzan (he even painted the poster for THE THING, just like Drew Struzan did, and came up with the same poster). So this is real new territory for Stephen King.

After a storm wrecks Tom Jane’s painting, his window, his boathouse, and his asshole neighbor’s Mercedes he takes his son and the neighbor (the great Andre Braugher of TV’s HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET) to the Food House grocery store. The place is chaotic with everybody stocking up in case of more storm and you can imagine how much worse it gets when The Mist traps everybody inside. By the way, even though this is Stephen King the grocery store is not possessed, not even the mist is possessed, it’s just mist that happens to surround monsters, which may or may not be possessed. I’m not really sure if monsters can be possessed or not, I have not considered this before. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Doomsday

Monday, March 24th, 2008

and the end of the world of action and horror movies

Well, shit. I been looking forward to this one for a long time. ROAD WARRIOR + ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK from the director of THE DESCENT? Yes please. I thought. And in the week since it came out I’ve gotten alot of emails about it and talked to several people who saw it and only 2 of them said they didn’t like it. Most weren’t willing to call it “good” but they did seem pretty delighted by it.

So hopefully most of you who see it will like it too, but Jee and Zuss. To me DOOMSDAY seems like my own personal doomsday, the end of the line for my two favorite genres. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Southland Tales

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Poor The Rock. With his outsized charisma, cartoonish build and air of sincerity I’m still convinced he has the potential to make great movies. The problem is he doesn’t seem to hook up with any good directors. THE RUNDOWN is still his best movie and it’s a fun time but, come on, it’s no PREDATOR, or even COMMANDO. I believe we, as a society, can offer The Rock more than THE RUNDOWN. So I was excited when I found out the Rock would be one of the stars of this weird new movie from the director of DONNIE DARKO. “Should at least be interesting,” I thought, not bothering to knock on wood.
Trouble is I had writer/director Richard Kelly pegged all wrong. I liked DONNIE DARKO well enough, thought it was pretty original and enjoyable. Saw it once on video and once as the director’s cut at the Seattle Internation Film Festival, which is when I learned that some youths worship this guy. They traveled across the country dressed in DARKO-themed costumes to nervously stammer to him that he changed their lives. That’s weird, I thought.

Then he wrote DOMINO, one of my most hated movies of the last several years. But I blamed Tony Scott. I figured there could’ve been a good script in there, Tony Scott just ax murdered it to unrecognizable bits with his Guiness Book of World Records All Time Worst Editing Ever In the History of Cinema. But after seeing SOUTHLAND TALES I’m not so sure Kelly is clean on that one. In fact I bet he specified alot of that shit in the script. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Sexy Beast

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

In any earth-shattering journey you’re gonna run into some unanswerable questions, some intractable dilemmas, some jokes without punchlines or words without letters. In my case I have encountered a catch-22 like you would expect to find primarily during time travel. On one hand, I have vowed to myself that if I see a movie with plans to write about it, but then I don’t feel like I have anything very interesting to say about it, then I won’t write a review. On the other hand I’ve vowed to myself to try to review every movie on the BADASS 100. In this case I’ve decided to betray one aspect of Excellence and side with vow #2. Please forgive me if I made the wrong choice.

I know when SEXY BEAST came out everybody said it was good. I didn’t trust it though because I got burnt by SNATCH and nobody else seemed as sick of that type of shit as I was. They were right: except for some computery music this wasn’t much like a Guy Ritchie picture. The story centers not on hipsters but on old guys. Ray Winstone plays a retired gangster who’s not really supposed to be cool, unless it’s in a “this guy doesn’t give a fuck about anything” type of cool. The overly long opening scene is mostly gross-out shots of him oiling his horrible red belly while sunbathing by the pool. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Hitman

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

Timothy Olyphant (the bad guy from LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD [aka the killer from SCREAM 2 {SPOILER FOR SCREAM 2}]) plays a gentleman by the name of Forty Seven, who is a super badass hitman who does nothing at all in life except kill people for a secret organization that has something to do with the church and that raises orphans to be assassins and tattoos bar codes on their heads and makes them stay bald and dress like Dick Cheney. And although the movie has some enjoyable moments I feel like a movie that’s about that should really be more enjoyable than this is. And I’m sorry to say it but I think I have to throw some of the blame at the casting of Mr. Olyphant.

He’s a pretty good actor and I usually like him, but there is a major problem here: he doesn’t look good bald. I really believe that when they had him all signed on and were excited and then started fitting him for his costume and shaved his head and looked at him they must’ve thought oh shit. What have we done? There are plenty of people who can pull off bald: Samuel Jackson, Jason Statham, Telly Savalas, Patrick Stewart, Louis Gossett Jr., Montell Williams, Isaac Hayes, Gordon from Sesame Street, etc. And then there’s everybody else. I’m not saying Olyphant looks like a freak or anything, but he doesn’t look cool, it doesn’t look natural. This is a guy who should not be bald until God or cancer tells him to. And every time he’s sneaking away from an assassination, trying not to be captured or killed by Interpol, the Russian Secret Service and everybody else in the world you keep wondering how it is that nobody can spot this weirdo with the bald head and the tattoo on the back wearing a spotless black suit with a blinding red tie. I know it’s based on a video game and that’s where they get the look from, but come on. Super Mario would have an easier time not getting spotted. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Vern Wants You To Check Out The Trailer With J.C.V.D. Starring In JCVD!!

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

jeanclaudeHey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. When confronted with an argument as well-mounted as Vern’s in this piece, one has little choice but to capitulate to whatever it is the person wants. Vern, I will watch this trailer. Now stop giving me those sad puppy dog eyes…

It’s hard for any actor to burn bright for their whole career. Most actors get old, washed up, maybe fat, they lose their sex appeal or they become too associated with a particular role or time period for mass audiences to take them seriously. Once they’ve hit that stage it’s only the very lucky ones that find a role that can change all that, reinvigorate their careers, make us see them in a new light and remember what we used to like so much about them. There was John Travolta in PULP FICTION. Josh Brolin in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. Some of us might have thought Sylvester Stallone did that in ROCKY BALBOA or RAMBO. But what if you’re not exactly the greatest actor in the world, and are best known for kicking, doing the splits, and not wearing pants? For you, Jean-Claude Van Damme, it might be even harder. But I wish you luck. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

10,000 B.C.

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

12,008 years ago this very day there was a man who, according to legend — well, the legend on the poster and trailer for this movie — was “the first hero.” He was part of a tribe that had been around long enough to develop hunting techniques, fire, tools, language, religion, jewelry, and eyeliner, but for some reason they hadn’t gotten around to heroism until now. This hero seems like a normal modern day white dude of average intelligence and waxed chest, except he has mud all over his face and nappy dreadlocks. Some time in the intervening years his people must have had a schism and split off into two tribes – the modern “douchebag” took the basic look and demeanor while the patchouli wearing, hackysack playing potheads took the hair and lack of hygiene.

10,000 BC is the new movie from Roland Emmerich. With most movies you might ask “Does it suck?,” but Emmerich is like Schumacher or Bay, that’s a redundant question. “Suck” is the medium they work in, for them that’s the same as asking “Is it a movie?” So I can’t complain that it sucks, I can only report my observations. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Death Wish 3

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

Well, L.A. didn’t work out too hot for Paul Kersey. Might as well head home. So Part 3’s opening credits show Kersey taking a bus back into New York City, looking out the window to the tune of the most in-your–face, half cheesy/half cool blast of white-man’s-keyboard-rock meets jazz-fusion-’80s-cop-movie-establishing-shot-of-the-city theme this side of HARD BOILED. Jimmy Page is back in the composer’s chair and comes up with a pretty weird and experimental sound more often than he comes up with the crappy guitar noodling you usually got after LETHAL WEAPON came out. He’s still no Herbie Hancock, but he’ll do.

Director Michael Winner returns for his last at-bat in the DEATH WISH series, but you immediately gotta wonder what the hell’s up because this feels nothing like his other DEATH WISHes. I’m honestly not sure if it’s a deliberate artistic choice or a sudden case of not giving a shit, but he has completely removed whatever traces there were of subtlety, thoughtfulness, ambiguity, class or elegance, not to mention realism. It looks cheaper, plays out more clunky and seems to have been made all in a week or so with no time to prepare or to stop to take a breath. And that’s exactly why it’s the most popular of the sequels. This movie is pretty fuckin nuts. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.