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Archive for the ‘Science Fiction and Space Shit’ Category

Ewoks: Caravan of Courage / The Battle For Endor

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

tn_ewoksYou may not pick up on it, but I sense a strong anti-Ewok sentiment in our culture, even to this day. It might seem like an insignificant hatred compared to that of Gungans and Prequels, but it exists. I think it’s mostly people who were in their teens or early twenties when RETURN OF THE JEDI came out, and had to prove they were big boys by rejecting what they thought the kids liked. To this day they call this proud people who helped defeat the Empire “teddy bears” and other slurs. The Ewoks were just product placement to sell dolls and they ruined Star Wars by being too furry and cute, they say bitterly, before clicking “favorite” on an adorable cat video.

As I’ve argued before, this viewpoint is ludicrous. The cuteness is a deliberate juxtaposition – they’re cuddly, but they try to roast Han on a spit, they bludgeon Stormtroopers to death with rocks and use their helmets as drums. Saying they shouldn’t be cute is like saying Rocket Raccoon shouldn’t be a dumb little raccoon, he should be a big muscular tiger man. It’s missing the point. Furthermore, it’s not the first time this trick was used in the Star Warses. The Jawas were cute little dudes who make adorable squeaky noises, but also they were sleazy Droid-poaching pricks. It’s a Star Wars thing.

So I am staunchly pro-Ewok, but I can’t really defend CARAVAN OF COURAGE (or THE EWOK ADVENTURE as I seem to remember it being called when it was a TV movie in November, 1984). Still, I thought it would be worth revisiting before Disney’s Star Wars Episode 7 The Force Awakens rewrites history so that the war never ended, robbing the Ewoks of their signature victory.

(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 Martian

Friday, October 9th, 2015

tn_themartiana.k.a. Get Your Ass From Mars

THE MARTIAN is what you get with old master Ridley Scott working from a good script (by Drew Goddard, director of THE CABIN IN THE WOODS) based on a book with a real solid, simple premise: an astronaut is left for dead on Mars and is intent on surviving. It’s like ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS, but without a monkey! That’s the modern twist. No monkeys.

etAs you know, Matt Damon (HAPPY FEET TWO, HEREAFTER) plays the astronaut, Mark Watney. Just like my boy E.T., Watney is a botanist who’s just minding his own business being on a space mission collecting samples when something bad happens and the crew has to do an emergency take off, and then he doesn’t get on board fast enough. Unfortunately there’s no little Mars boy to hide him in the closet, feed him candy and dress him up as a ghost (or maybe those scenes were cut), but he does use existing equipment to jury-rig a means of communication to let the people back home know to come get him. And then he waits it out.

He has a limited supply of rations, and a long window before any theoretical rescue mission could possibly arrive. So, using seemingly pretty scientifically plausible methods, he figures out ways to use what he has to create more food, water, etc., and to deal with the other problems that arise, of which there are many. He’s in space, for crying out loud. Space is a motherfucker. He doesn’t even have to come across any Ghosts of Mars, there’s all kinds of other problems there. And we learn that a roll of tape is the most important tool anybody could have, followed by clear plastic/construction film.

(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.

Species II

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

tn_speciesiiOh shit. What if instead of a female alien killing people in a SPECIES movie, it was a male alien? That would change everything. I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS.

No, actually I’m making it sound stupid, but I honestly think this is a good premise for part 2. I talked in my review of the first one about how much I liked the gender subtext there, even if they didn’t do as much with it as I’d like. This one continues the exploration by giving us a male-alien-sex-rampage to compare and contrast with the female one.

Men are from Mars, you know, so that’s where it starts. America’s first manned mission to Mars (co-financed by Pepsi, Sprint, Reebok and Bud Lite) ends up getting the crew infected by Species DNA, which speaks to either how bad their luck is or what a toxic shithole Mars is, because I swear they were there for like five minutes total. I kind of feel bad for Reebok on this, it doesn’t seem like they got their money’s worth. One of the astronauts goes down on the lander, plants the flag, makes a brief speech, digs up three soil samples and flies back to the shuttle. They don’t notice that the samples are steaming and dripping slime as they high five and get ready to be “Homeward bound, bay-bay!” (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 Fly II

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

tn_flyiiDavid Cronenberg’s remake of THE FLY was and is something special. There’s nothing else like it. But you know how us humans are, we tried to put it in a box, treat it like a regular hit movie. Hollywood said “Hey Cronenberg, it’s your lucky day, we got TOP GUN for you.” And the world of horror movies said “Let’s get the guy that did the special effects to direct a sequel!” For her part, Geena Davis said “You know what, find some other actress to play my character dying in childbirth and redub my lines over the re-used video footage of Goldblum.” And thus humanity embarked on the journey of THE FLY II.

I don’t remember thinking too much of this one when I saw it in the 1980s as a double feature with I’M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA. And for years I would joke about the true fact that people didn’t want to buy THE FLY on DVD because it came with THE FLY II. That they could charge more for it if it was just the first one.

But I realize now that I was too close. It was too soon. I wasn’t ready for it yet. But now, after a quarter century of experiencing life in a world where there is a FLY II, no matter our moral objections… shit, I enjoyed this one. It’s kind of like The Fly himself. It shouldn’t exist, but it does, so what’s it supposed to do? It makes a go at 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.

Cyborg 2

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

tn_cyborg2“You know the rules. No fraternizing with cyborgs.”

CYBORG 2 has a totally different feel from CYBORG. Apparently it didn’t even start out as a sequel to CYBORG, it was supposed to be something called GLASS SHADOW until they realized the only way I was gonna rent it 20+ years later would be if it was connected to an existing Jean-Claude Van Damme series. It looks more expensive than Albert Pyun’s original (though still in the low budget realm) and plays much more traditional, not an art film at all.

The disease that had ravaged the world in part 1 must’ve been cured. The ROAD WARRIOR type wasteland has become a poor man’s BLADE RUNNER dystopolis with Max Headroom type boardroom villainy. There’s way more talking and stunt doubles and things that happen. And while I took part 1’s robo-lady as a traditional cyborg – human with machine add-ons – now they’re using the C3PO definition: just a robot. We see how it works in a cool opening credits sequence of liquid flesh injected into a female casing over a robo-skeleton.

still_cyborg2_1
(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.

Virtuosity

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

tn_virtuosity

RELEASE DATE: August 4th
RELEASE DATE: August 4th

There are many things I don’t understand about the sci-fi world and story of VIRTUOSITY. It opens with Parker Barnes (Denzel Washington) in a Captain Panaka cosplay outfit chasing a killer through the business district, where everybody is in a suit carrying a briefcase, like they’re in The Matrix. It does turn out to be a virtual reality simulation and Parker turns out to be a prisoner, though he was formerly a cop until he accidentally killed an innocent(ish) journalist while killing the guy who killed his family.

But what is the reason for this simulation? I guess it’s supposed to be for training? But then why are they training prisoners? I guess because it’s still in Beta testing. With its current calibration, getting killed in the virtual world can cause the player to go into convulsions and die in real life. (You hear that, Wachowskis? See if you can take that idea and do something better with 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.

Waterworld

Monday, July 27th, 2015

tn_waterworld

RELEASE DATE: July 7
RELEASE DATE: July 28

Oh, WATERWORLD, how I’ve been meaning to rewatch you. Maybe I should’ve done it before FURY ROAD, though.

Let’s get the “flop” shit out of the way first. This is still most famous as a big expensive movie that pretty much just broke even. I don’t care. That’s none of my business. I’m old fashioned.

I always thought it was treated unfairly at the time. It was in the news for going over budget and the popularity pendulum was swinging back on Kevin Costner after a bunch of Oscars and hit movies. It became everybody’s target and they were excited for how terrible it was supposedly gonna be. (This article from The Independent at the time examines the reasons for the backlash against Costner.)

Here, let me check if it was nominated for Razzies. Yep, Dennis Hopper won worst supporting actor and it was nominated for worst picture, actor and director. (SHOWGIRLS was the big winner that year.) So that speaks well of the movie if those assholes were against it.

We’ve been looking at the other movies of that summer, so we can see in context that it’s somewhere in the upper range of quality for what was in theaters at the time. It’s for sure less embarrassing than BATMAN FOREVER or MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE, more impressive than CONGO, arguably better than JOHNNY MNEMONIC or JUDGE DREDD. It didn’t deserve all the hate that it got.

Unfortunately that’s not to say it’s some misunderstood gem either. (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.

Gen-X Cops 2: Metal Mayhem

Friday, July 17th, 2015

tn_gycANT-MAN comes out today, with Paul Rudd (HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS) playing a Marvel super hero. He’s not a traditional square-jawed action guy, but a handsome dude who got his start playing pretty boy boyfriends (ROMEO + JULIET) isn’t a completely outside-the-box choice for such a character. Sure, he’s turned out to be best at comedy, but ANT-MAN seems to be a super hero story with a few more laffs than usual, so it makes sense. I’ve read that Rudd had to get in shape for the movie, but they didn’t make him turn into He-Man like Chrises Pratt, Evans and Hemsworth.

And I think I know why he got away with that. Paul Rudd happens to hold an Action Movie Legitimacy Card that none of those other Avengers do – one he shares with Chuck Norris, Scott Adkins, Steven Seagal, Darren Shahlavi, UFC’s Don “The Predator” Frye and Nathan “Rictus Erectus” Jones – he was the white dude in an Asian action picture. The film in question is the year 2000 sequel GEN-X COPS 2: METAL MAYHEM, which is the version I watched, though it’s available in a different cut with the Cantonese parts dubbed into English, under the title JACKIE CHAN PRESENTS GEN-Y COPS.

(Note: Jackie actually had nothing to do with the movie, it’s sort of like a QUENTIN TARANTINO PRESENTS HERO type situation. Man, I wish I could present movies. VERN PRESENTS BEST OF THE BEST 2, etc.)

I haven’t seen part 1 (from 1999), but it must be about these two somewhat comical undercover cops Match (Stephen Fung, THE AVENGING FIST, TAI CHI HERO) and Alien (Sam Lee, MAN OF TAI CHI), who are introduced driving a Ferrari that Match bought with money from founding a successful websight. They are supposed to be very modern and computer savvy, so Alien keeps talking about ICQ. (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.

Battle Beyond the Stars

Monday, July 6th, 2015

tn_battlebeyondFuck a star war – what about a battle beyond the stars? I know a battle is smaller than a war, it is only one of the units that makes up a part of a war, but maybe that’s better. More intimate. More focused. And then it’s beyond the stars instead of within them, as a mere star war is. Beyond is better. This battle has transcended the fucking stars.

Admittedly, it doesn’t seem like BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS takes place further away from here than any of the STAR WARSes. In fact, it is for sure closer, because people have heard of the planet Earth, and one guy is from there. His name is Cowboy, but not the pioneering rapper from the Furious Five who coined the term “hip hop.” He’s actually George Peppard a couple years before The A-Team and he wears a cowboy hat, plaid shirt and insulated silver space pants. He always shows off that he likes westerns and exotic Earth liquor. Obviously he’s the Han Solo character, and he’s entertaining, but most of his scenes are alone in his ship, so there’s a Chewbacca-sized hole next to him. (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.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

tn_mmprtm

RELEASE DATE: June 30
RELEASE DATE: June 30

MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE is easily the crappiest movie in my Summer of ’95 retrospective so far. Maybe less offensive than BATMAN FOREVER, since it doesn’t seem to be made by professionals who should know any better, but it’s really something. I know it’s an extension of a cheesy kids TV show made up partly of stock footage from Japanese shows, but it’s amazing that a soundtrack album and a little bad CGI was enough to get this into theaters alongside real movies. APOLLO 13 and

JUDGE DREDD came out the same day. Watching it 20 years later POWER RANGERS does not seem like it belongs in the company of either, and the dark, low quality transfer on the DVD isn’t helping things. It didn’t get completely killed at the box office, though. That weekend it came in below APOLLO 13, POCAHONTAS and BATMAN FOREVER, but above JUDGE DREDD.

Like APOLLO 13 this is the story of an elite team of squares chosen to put on uniforms and helmets and fly into space. The Power Rangers are five teenagers chosen by a giant face in a glass tube named Zordon (Nicholas Bell, DARK CITY) to “transform into a superhuman fighting force” and defend the Australian-looking city of Angel Grove, California. That means morphing into masked and color-coded martial arts super heroes and piloting robotic dinosaurs called Zords that combine into a bigger, humanoid robot called Megazord to fight giant monsters. In their spare time the Power Rangers like to skydive, rollerblade and act as role models to local children who don’t know they’re the Power Rangers because it’s a secret identity, although that is never relevant to the story. As far as we see, none of them have parents, schools, jobs, homes or alone time. (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.