"I got news for 'em. There's gonna be hell to pay. 'Cause I ain't daddy's little boy no more."

Commando

COMMANDO is a rare commodity – a Schwarzenegger picture on a low enough budget to feel like the early Seagal and Van Damme pictures. The good ones, though. Schwarzenegger plays John Matrix, the perfect name for an ex-special forces muscleman who lives in a cabin out in the woods with his daughter Alyssa Milano. (Who is the boss, anyway? I never did figure that out.) She doesn’t want him going on dangerous missions anymore so he stays home and spends his days chopping wood and feeding deer with her. Luckily, before he gets too bored with this Snow White lifestyle some other soldiers he used to be knee dip in the shit with kidnap his daughter as a way to force him to assassinate some South American leader or other. So he gets to go to war. And to be honest he looks more comfortable running around with camoflauge paint on then he does feeding a deer. We all have our little things we’re good at, you know. (read the rest of this shit…)

Aliens

I’ve seen this movie many times over many years, and I’m sure you have too. I don’t think I need to try to convince anybody to like ALIENS. Asking somebody if they like ALIENS is like asking them if they like pizza or ice cream. You can assume the answer is “yes” and if not it’s just some weird quirk that person has, you can’t really make much of it.

But having noticed signs that the BIG FUCKIN SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER POPCORN MOVIE may be ailing here in 2007 I decided to get nostalgic and watch T2 (theatrical cut, back to ’91) and I had such a good time with that I thought, jesus, where do I go from here? Is there anything that big and yet at the same time that good? I wasn’t sure but I did know of one other James Cameron part 2 that I like even better and that of course is ALIENS. So I watched the theatrical cut of that too. (read the rest of this shit…)

True Lies

In James Cameron’s idea of a romantic comedy Schwarzenegger plays Harry Tasker, an agent for the “Omega Sector” secret spy agency who protect America from terrorism and are led by Charlton Heston with an eyepatch. He has one eye on the enemy, the other eye on infinity. Or something. The opening shows that Harry is willing to blow shit up but is more of a suave James Bond type than the usual Schwarzenegger character. He gets his way through trickery, wears a tux and even does a tango with Tia Carrera. (Remember when she was supposed to be a big deal?) He just happens to be a muscleman under that tux but nobody seems to notice in the movie, it’s not really relevant to the character.

Harry spends alot of his time being followed in a van by his woman-hating loyal manservant Tom Arnold (before he sidekicked for Jet Li or Steven Seagal) and his GGWATBOADSINR (good guy who appears to be of Arab descent so it’s not racist) Academy Award nominee for GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK Grant Heslov. But when he’s not trying to stop terrorists from getting nuclear weapons he faces the much bigger problem of relating to his wife Helen (Jamie Lee “I cut off Michael Meyers’s head” Curtis) who thinks he’s a boring computer salesman. (read the rest of this shit…)

Piranha Part Two: The Spawning

After watching the TERMINATOR movies for the first time in years I was so excited about James Cameron I decided I should go back and re-watch the Cameron movies I didn’t like, see if maybe my perspective has changed. Maybe there was some magic there I just wasn’t picking up on.

So of course I had to go back to the beginning, the smash debut, the one that started it all for director James Cameron. Orson Welles started out with CITIZEN KANE, James Cameron started out with PIRANHA PART TWO THE SPAWNING. What can you say, man, it was a different era. (read the rest of this shit…)

Terminator Trilogy

THE TERMINATOR

Summer, 2007. 1:52 AM. Mindless, soul-less, visually indecipherable and crassly commercial garbage such as TRANSFORMERS has invaded America’s movie screens disguised as “good ol’ summer popcorn entertainment.” Labelled a madman for his harsh condemnation of TRANSFORMERS, Vern began to search for proof that a better, more powerful type of summer blockbuster once existed…

I’m obviously a zealot when it comes to this TRANSFORMERS shit. Most people either like the movie or aren’t as offended by it as I am. But my contention that they used to make actual smart/good versions of this type of moronic horse shit has met with some sympathy. I was happy that even the morning radio guy Adam Corolla brought up TERMINATOR 2 when discussing TRANSFORMERS on his show. He agreed with his staff that the movie was “fun” but said, “Still… it’s no Terminator.” (read the rest of this shit…)

28 Weeks Later

I never did write a real review of the popular Danny Boyle picture 28 DAYS LATER, just a little blurb in a summer recap column. To make a short story stay short, I liked it but did not understand the hooplah. It seemed to me most of it had already been done in Romero’s movies, and I liked it better when it was a real movie instead of a home video. So I was kind of annoyed by all the hype at the time that Boyle had “reinvented the zombie movie.” Even the controversial running zombies were straight out of RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. Somebody give Dan O’Bannon some credit. When he did that in 1985 it was a clever new take on zombies.

But I gotta tread carefully here because there are people out there who will flip out if you use the word “zombie” to describe the zombie-like people doing zombie things in this movie that is clearly based on the zombie films of George Romero. Zombies, it turns out, are people who die and then come back to life as zombies. They are not people who are infected and become zombies, unless they are infected to the point of death and then become zombies. In the case of these movies they just get infected, they do not necessarily die as far as we know, so they are something else. Nobody knows what it’s called, but it’s not a zombie. It’s just some thing that is exactly like a zombie and has every quality associated with zombies, but you can’t call it a zombie, that’s like using the N word almost. So I apologize to all the things who are not zombies but are exactly like zombies in all respects but they have not died and therefore are not zombies that I offended in my previous blurb. I will be more sensitive this time. (read the rest of this shit…)

Blue Steel

This is a suspense thriller from Kathryn Bigelow, the director of POINT BREAK and NEAR DARK, and one of the few women directors to get much of a chance in these types of movies. This one stars Jamie Lee Curtis as a just-graduated cop who, on her first ever patrol, has to shoot a guy holding up a grocery store.

Now first of all I gotta ask – why are there so many grocery store robberies in these movies? A reader named Jared pointed it out too because I recently reviewed STONE COLD and COBRA, both of which open with the hero going in to foil a grocery store robbery/shootout. Now this one too (and the last book I read, SIDESWIPE by Charles Willeford, also revolves around a grocery store robbery/shootout, although it’s at the end instead of the beginning, because it’s literature). The result here is the exact opposite of those other movies though: instead of a rebel cop who plays by his own rules she’s a straightlaced rookie who tries to do it by the book. Instead of having no consequences the incident could end her career. Talk about a double standard. (read the rest of this shit…)

Blind Fury

Well they got spaghetti western versions of the samurai movies, they got American versions of Japanese horror movies, they got a black version of THE ODD COUPLE. So if it’s 1989 and you’re Australian director Philip Noyce (THE QUIET AMERICAN, RABBIT-PROOF FENCE), why not do a white version of ZATOICHI with Rutger Hauer as a soldier blinded and left for dead in Vietnam, nursed and trained in swordsmanship and now wandering the sides of American highways ready to unleash his sword-cane if it comes to it?

That Vietnam origin story, by the way, is all taken care of during the opening credits, which is admirable. No time wasted. (read the rest of this shit…)

Bad Day at Black Rock

A reader named Stephen A., and probaly some other people in the past, have been reminding me to watch BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK, a classic 1955 badass picture from director John Sturges (THE GREAT ESCAPE, McQ). So I finally did. Thanks guys.

In a weird way the opening kind of reminded me of a great late ’80s, early ’90s action movie, because it’s widescreen with this train coming and SPENCER TRACY and everybody else’s names are in huge letters that fill almost the whole screen. Just like it would say STEVEN SEAGAL if that train was from UNDER SIEGE 2 PART 2: DARKER TERRITORY. (read the rest of this shit…)

Cobra

COBRA is not a great Stallone movie, but Stallone does play a cop named Marion “THE COBRA” Cobretti, and in this crazy world that’s gotta count for something. In the opening scene a ranting maniac goes into a super market, kills a bunch of people and takes the rest hostage. The police are helpless so they “call in the Cobra.”

Cobretti struts in wearing sunglasses and chewing on a matchstick. You’d think he’d want to have the full power of vision at his disposal in a situation like this, but he chooses fashion instead – not a great character trait for a human being, but acceptable for an action movie hero. If you want to get picky Dirty Harry probaly should’ve put down his hot dog to foil that bank robbery, but he didn’t, and we admire him for that. (read the rest of this shit…)