I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Book of Eli

tn_bookofeliEverybody loves Denzel Washington, including me, but I’m not 100% sure why. I mean, he’s a real good actor. Shoulda got an Oscar for MALCOLM X. Was good at chewing it up in TRAINING DAY when he did get the Oscar. He’s just so great at playing intelligent, strong, capable. But the weird part for someone as popular as him is that he’s not so big on playing likable heroes. His usual character is intense but mostly humorless. Kind of self righteous. Kind of a dick, if you think about it.

So it was pretty brilliant to cast him as a lone samurai walking through a post-apocalyptic wasteland on a mission of faith. The Denzel persona is much more endearing when he doesn’t just give verbal beatdowns, but full-on swordsman massacres. Actually he’s a little different in this one too – quiet and kind of crazy from being alone. (read the rest of this shit…)

Steven Seagal: Lawman – Episodes 8-10

tn_lawman(sorry guys – playing catchup on reviewing the last three episodes before tonight’s new one)

Medicine Man

“I like you, my wife loves you. She love that man. I don’t know why.”

This is the rare episode that begins in the daylight, with the Squad checking out a report of a suspicious person in front of a liquor store. They end up chasing a black kid all over the place, driving, cutting through yards, hopping fences. And I think they would be the first to admit that this chase scene is more like a scene from GRUMPY OLD MEN than DISTRICT B13. To their credit I guess there’s a little POINT BREAK in there. (read the rest of this shit…)

Gamer

tn_gamerLet’s say you are a feedback and distortion fetishist. Fuzz and blips, pixelation, video lines, VHS rolling from bad tracking – these things get you hard. That’s fine. We are all beautiful snowflakes. What you do in that case is you make a video of all that stuff, you hide it under your bed, you get it out when you’re lonely. What you don’t do unless you have no self control is make a feature film needlessly slathered in that shit and release it in theaters and on home video to paying audiences who want to be told a story and not just watch little flickers and shit.

More to the point, let’s say you are also a wiseass camera operator who enjoys running through explosions in a firesuit or rollerblading around holding a camcorder, but have not yet developed an interest in some of the other elements of photography such as framing or holding still. Fine! Great! That is your calling, you should rollerblade all you want. It is probly good aerobic exercise. But I have one caveat: if your plan is to incorporate that footage into an actual movie and not just an episode of JACKASS then you have a responsibility to look at the footage first and ask yourself if somebody could watch it and understand what in God’s holy name is being shown. And if the directational fraternity duo Nevildine/Taylor were being honest with themselves the answer to that question would usually be “No. No, not at all. Oh jesus, no, are you kidding me? Uh uh.” I’m thinking maybe these guys should forget about the cameras and just be stunt men. They seem more interested in carrying the camera through risky situations than actually pointing the lens of it at specific things. (read the rest of this shit…)

Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassin’s Ball

tn_smokinaces2SMOKIN’ ACES 2: ASSASSIN’S BALL is the rare DTV sequel that leaves 2 (two) obvious openings for porn parody titles, not to mention having the word “ass” in it twice. In that sense it is absolutely groundbreaking. The idea of a DTV sequel to a movie that not one single person in the world is passionate about is not as unusual (see: THE MARINE 2, BEHIND ENEMY LINES 2-3, THE ART OF WAR trilogy, etc.), but I guess technically this one is a prequel (it refers to a dead character as if alive). So this might actually be a historic milestone, I’m not sure.

I remember seeing a preview screening of SMOKIN’ ACES, and even those I-will-stand-in-line-for-several-hours-to-see-literally-any-piece-of-garbage-movie-as-long-as-it-is-free passholes seemed to hate it. But I have to admit I mostly enjoyed it because it had so many funny and audacious moments peeking out from beneath the big mess of a so-called story. The movie really doesn’t work, but I wanted it to because there were some real good parts. That’s what I think. And in the ensuing years I honestly haven’t met one single person who would give it that much. (read the rest of this shit…)

Don’t Be…

ellis-lenoDear Jay Leno,

Come on dude, are you really gonna make me say it? How fuckin hard is it to figure out the right thing to do in this situation? If you take back The Tonight Show then I’ll take back whatever mildly nice things I said about you in my review of LOVE THE BEAST. If you do the right thing I promise I’ll review COLLISION COURSE in your honor.

sincerely,

Vern

p.s. remember when you asked that one lady that easy question and she had the wrong answer, what a dumb bitch huh? Ha ha, great stuff.

Deadfall

tn_deadfallI honestly never knew about this Nic Cage-featuring neo-noir until some of you recommended it to me in the comments. So thanks for that. Since I’d never heard of it and the cover looks like the type of photoshop they do on an uncopyrighted double feature DVD you’d buy for 99 cents at Safeway I assumed this was an early Cage performance. I was shocked when I realized it was 1993, same year he did the much more polished RED ROCK WEST. It’s kind of hilarious that a crime movie this clunky came out after RESERVOIR DOGS. (read the rest of this shit…)

Rob Zombie Presents The Haunted World of El Superbeasto

tn_superbeastoAs I’ve chronicled over the last few years, I have mixed feelings about Hollywood filmatist R. Zombie. On one hand I really like some things in all his movies (especially DEVIL’S REJECTS), on the other I hate things in most of them too (especially HALLOWEEN). On one hand I think he has a unique eye and a distinct vision, on the other hand he’s too undisciplined to know when his Kiss t-shirts and kitschy cartoon white trash aesthetic is fucking up the other things he’s trying to do. One minute he’ll win me back on the team (HALLOWEEN II) and the next he’ll get in my face and dare me to change my mind (HALLOWEEN II unrated director’s cut).

So I decided fine, you want to test my loyalty? Then I’ll watch your cartoon. We’ll se where that gets us. And I rented his DTV cartoon presentation ROB ZOMBIE PRESENTS THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO, allegedly directed by Rob Zombie (although the cartoonists might disagree, I’m not sure). (read the rest of this shit…)

Halloween Remake II Unrated Director’s Cut

tn_halloween2directorsSince I was one of the elite few to sort of recommend HALLOWEEN REMAKE II I thought it was my duty to inform you that I less-sort-of-recommend the new unrated director’s cut than I do the theatrical one. The new cut is quite a bit different, but mostly what’s added is unpleasantness to make you not like the characters or enjoy the experience of watching the movie. There are several scenes and extensions added so that Laurie – who had a sweet friendship with fellow survivor Annie in the theatrical cut – is angry at Annie and they’re always fighting. Most of the new material involves Laurie screaming, crying and swearing, getting in arguments with Annie, then screaming FUUUUCKKKK! She also has a screaming fit at her therapist (Margot Kidder) and calls some beer she’s drinking in her bedroom “my new best friend.” (read the rest of this shit…)

A Perfect Getaway

tn_perfectgetawaySteve Zahn and Milla Jovovich are on a honeymoon hike in Hawaii. Another couple has been killed, possibly by a newlywed couple like them, and all the other tourists are getting paranoid about it, but they decide to continue with the hike anyway. This is one o’ them suspense thrillers, and it did a good job of keeping me in suspensed thrills.

From the beginning on it keeps dropping hints about what  might be up. A sinister past for Zahn? Maybe it’s straight up and this scary couple here are killers? Or this nice couple? Or the other couple? You’ll have alot of theories throughout and as long as you consider the correct one at some point you can claim you figured it out and defeated the movie. The writer/director is David Twohy, famed chronicler of Riddick. It’s another solid B-movie notch on his belt – nothing transcendent, but effective and fun, with some clever touches. (read the rest of this shit…)

Elvis Presley Gladiators: The 1974 Elvis Karate Legacy Project

tn_elvisgladiatorsI know Elvis never meant shit to Chuck D, but I kind of like him. I’m not a huge fan or follower, never been to Graceland (yet), but he’s kind of interesting to me. I’m mostly fascinated by his earlier music and his later persona. And I’m especially interested in the fact that he did karate. Maybe if this portion of his life had been made more public it wouldn’t seem that cool, but as it is it’s kind of a mystery. Here’s this iconic part of pop culture, now more of a character than a human being, and you associate him with certain things, but kicking ass is not usually one of them. The juxtaposition of The King and karate is kind of hilarious and awesome to me. (read the rest of this shit…)