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 June, 2008

Wanted

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Take one part THE MATRIX, one part FIGHT CLUB, two parts THE MATRIX, one part EQUILIBRIUM (one part THE MATRIX, one part straight to video), and one part THE MATRIX, but not as good, and you have the new motion picture WANTED. James Macavoy (the British Zach Braff) plays an unhappy office drone who out of the blue has his world turned upside down when a super hot asskicking gun babe in leather tells him he’s destined to be a super warrior and whisks him off to a secret organization of gun-obsessed rebels who teach him how to bend reality, do super gun tricks and martial arts in various showoffy camera-rotating slo-mo special effects action sequences, killing enemies without feeling bad because they have complete faith in the righteousness of their mission.
But there’s no computer world involved so on second thought this is not at all like THE MATRIX in any way. I doubt these filmatists even know about THE MATRIX. This is probaly one of those “yeah, people told me afterwards it was like THE MATRIX, but honestly I never heard of it, it’s just a weird coincidence” type deals. Plus Morgan Freeman plays Morpheus instead of Laurence Fishburne. Totally different. 100% new and original creation.

Okay, I have to admit that I somewhat enjoyed this dumb ass movie, but I think I’m still within my rights as an action fan to bust its movie balls, because there are rules. Once again I must refer to my “action movies are like the blues” comparison. In the blues there are traditions, there are standards, you don’t have to be shockingly original, you can follow a traditional sound and then put your own spin on it, express yourself from within that framework. But you don’t blatantly copy one specific person’s unique style. You don’t copy Jimi Hendrix’s approach to blues, for example, or if Muddy Waters’ ‘Electric Mud’ had caught on you would’ve looked like an asshole if all the sudden you came out with your acid rock blues album. (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.

In the Line of Fire

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Here’s a movie not directed by Clint Eastwood (it’s Wolfgang Peterson, the DAS BOOT guy) but like alot of his directorial works of the past 20 years it deals with him getting old. Clint plays a Secret Service agent named Frank Horrigan. He’s still working but he’s washed up – he was there when JFK got shot and is still haunted by his failure. After that he became a huge asshole, he started drinking and his wife and daughter left. But this is Clint we’re talking about so we still like him, and also he plays jazz piano.

This is a good example of those ’90s big budget studio action thrillers along the lines of EXECUTIVE DECISION and DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE, movies that depict the workings of a city and its various departments as they respond to an emergency. In this case it’s the Secret Service responding to a threat against the president. We see Clint and his new partner (Dylan McDermott, or possibly Dermot Mulrooney – I don’t know which is which so if it’s important to you check IMDb) making their rounds, so first they have to shoot some guys over counterfeit money, then they have to check out a report of “some weirdo.” It just so happens that this is the one in a thousand of those calls that really is a dude planning to kill the president. He’s not home but he sees Clint in his apartment from afar and the game begins. (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 Enforcer

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

In the third Dirty Harry picture Inspector Callahan has become some sort of an enforcer, a guy who travels around enforcing things. Alot of people tend to dismiss the series after MAGNUM FORCE, and it’s true that this one isn’t as good as the two before it, but I gotta admit I like it.

Alot of the goofiest shit from ’70s and ’80s cop movies, the cliches that get made fun of all the time, might be traced directly to this movie. This is definitely a prime example of the cartoonishly out of line bureaucrats in the police headquarters who demand the police “clean up the streets” but get mad at them when they do. “I didn’t say to use violence.” It’s got the scene where he gets suspended and has to give back his badge, which is memorable because Harry calls it a “seven point suppository… you heard me, stick it up your ass!” And the opening section of the movie is about him driving around encountering different police situations unrelated to the plot just so they can show the funny/abrasive way he deals with criminals, like the guy supposedly having a heart attack in a restaurant who he kicks and tells to get up or the liquor store hostage-takers who demand a car, so he “gives it to them” by driving through the front of the liquor store. (Of course followed by a scene where the aforementioned bureaucrat yells at him with a tally of all the damage done.) (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 Incredible Hulk

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Listen up Hulkamaniacs –

This new Hulk remake/sequel/do-over/all new adventure starts out with an opening credits montage of flashbacks and headlines to explain his Incredible origin. It’s like the opening to a TV show, setting up what you need to know. So I’m gonna do a TV show opening for this review to: I don’t know the comic strips, vaguely remember the TV show, still love the Ang Lee movie no matter what you say, but was open to and kind of excited about the notion of the goofball director of fucking TRANSPORTER 2 taking over to do the flip side of that coin.

But I got a little worried when I read that Edward Norton had rewritten the script. Uh oh. That means he thinks he’s making the serious Hulk movie. Did he not know about the Ang Lee one? I think he did, because I read that he turned it down. I guess he regretted that maybe. It’s true, Louis Letterier is not in TRANSPORTER 2 mode here. He’s more in DANNY THE DOG aka UNLEASHED mode: a movie with elements of crazy action fun, but that is trying really hard to be a serious drama. (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 Happening

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Okay, you guys were right. I’ve been defending M. Night Shyamalan as a talented director based on how he moved the camera around in THE SIXTH SENSE and UNBREAKABLE. I didn’t like SIGNS as much, but alot of it worked. I didn’t see THE VILLAGE, which may have strengthened my argument through the ancient technique of “denial.” And LADY IN THE WATER was a hilarious disaster, which means he’s at least interesting even when he’s embarrassing himself and all of his ancestors and descendants and anyone who has ever known him or seen one of his movies.

But after this one I’m with you guys, I give up on Shyamalan. And it has nothing to do with twist endings (there isn’t one in this movie). This is just a bad movie that blows it from the beginning and gets more silly as it goes along, and there isn’t even much of the technical skill he used to display to make up for it. (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.

Magnum Force

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

DIRTY HARRY is probaly a better movie overall, but as far as sequels go I think MAGNUM FORCE is a work of genius, because it does two things.

ONE:

It does a good job of following the template of the original and delivering alot of what people liked about that one, for example the classic hot dog/bank robbery scene is replaced by a scene where he goes to get a hamburger at an airport cafe and ends up stopping a hijacking. You gotta love when he butts into the security pow wow at the airport, they tell him what’s going on, he asks “Can I make a suggestion?” and it cuts to him walking toward the plane wearing a pilot’s uniform. Classic! (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.

Dirty Harry

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Man, I’ve watched DIRTY HARRY so many times since I’ve been writing about movies, and it is clearly one of the classics of Badass Cinema (the Loose Canon, I recently decided it should be called. Get it it is a pun I believe.) But I just figured out that I never wrote a review of it. Weird.

This time I watched it on the occasion of buying the new DIRTY HARRY ULTIMATE COLLECTION box set, which totally made my day and I did feel lucky punk and it is so good it would blow your head clean off and is the most powerful box set in the world. That is not really puns but you know what’s going on there, I think you get it. (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.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Monday, June 9th, 2008

MY SUMMER VACATION IN THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL

or

AH, FUCK IT, LET’S GET THIS OUT IN THE OPEN: I LIKED INDIANA JONES AND THE LEGEND OF THE CRYSTAL SKULLS, AND I DON’T REALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT EVERYBODY IS GRIPING ABOUT

Last July this thing happened called TRANSFORMERS. It was one of the biggest movies of that summer, but I thought it was a terrible one. My main problems were the characters, the story, the comedy, the action sequences, and (this is a first for me) especially the design of the characters. The CGI characters were so overcomplicated and indistinguishable from each other that they actually made Michael Bay’s notorious camera placement and editing beside the point, because even if it was two robots in front of a stationary camera in one continuous shot you still might not have any clue which one is which, what they’re doing or which direction they’re facing. That’s actually the biggest problem of many big problems in the movie and I’m pretty sure it’s a cinematic first – using the latest technology, Michael Bay invented a completely new way for a movie to suck. So I figured it was a bad, bad movie. (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 V: The Face of Death

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

This one finishes off the series, it’s a goodbye to Paul Kersey and to Charles Bronson for those who aren’t gonna watch the three FAMILY OF COPS movies (the only thing he made after this). I’ve read that Bronson had Alzheimer’s, but he seems completely with it and in good shape.

The year is 1994, Paul has another girlfriend with another daughter. Like part 4 they don’t get mugged or raped, but like all DEATH WISH movies they’re in serious danger. This time Paul runs afoul of the Irish mafia, specifically his girlfriend’s crazy ex-husband Tommy O’Shea (Michael Parks, aka Sherriff Earl McGraw from FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, KILL BILL and both GRINDHOUSE movies). We find out Paul is in witness protection now, not on the run, and he calls an old friend at the D.A.’s office (Saul Rubinek) to help him with O’Shea. But of course that makes things worse, so Paul finds himself sneaking around picking off mobsters. It occurs to me that makes it kind of like a slasher movie where you root for the slasher. Oh well. (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.

Malone

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

Friends, I don’t know if any of you are with me on this one, but just humor me for a minute and pour one on the curb for the video store. There are still plenty of them holding on and struggling, but the vultures are circling. More and more people prefer the instant gratification of download on demand or the not even close to instant gratification of ordering movies on a fucking websight and then waiting around for them to show up at some later date in your mailbox and then you will leave them sitting on your coffee table for two weeks and then remember that you got it and then watch part of it and send it back. But in my day, and still to this day, there was another part of the equation, the browsing. The hunt.

And it is only through this forgotten activity that you can have an experience like this one. You’re looking through the action section, trying to decide what you should watch:

I’ve seen alot of these. Not interested in a lot of these. Why is that one in the action section? I guess I’m not sure what section you would put it in. Oh, I forgot they did a remake of ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13. That wasn’t very good. MR. AND MRS. SMITH? I never did see that one. Looked kind of good. Everybody said it was bad though. But there was that shot in the trailer, she was rapelling down the building and she had garters on, maybe I should– (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.