So once again we have survived.

Posts Tagged ‘Gary Oldman’

Criminal

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

tn_criminalCRIMINAL is way too generic a title for this distinctive Kevin Costner action thriller, another enjoyable under-the-radar, higher-minded-than-advertised b-movie to put on the shelf next to 3 DAYS TO KILL. Costner would be the criminal of the title, a gruff, uneducated death row inmate with the strong action movie name of Jericho Stewart. He’s said to have some kind of condition that leaves him no capacity for empathy, like that creepy kid in MALEVOLENCE and BEREAVEMENT, so he experiences what the internet calls “the feels” for the first time when he’s the subject of an experimental surgery that implants another man’s memories into his brain.

I couldn’t help but think of FACE/OFF. Not that it has any of John Woo’s heightened filmatism or outlandish action – the tone, grounded world and love of intelligence agency war rooms are closer to a BOURNE movie – but that’s the only other movie I can think of that uses a sci-fi gimmick in a non-futuristic world and then puts an emphasis on exploring its emotional consequences.

The story starts with Bill Pope, not the cinematographer of THE MATRIX, but a CIA agent on the run in London, played by an uncredited Ryan Reynolds (BLADE TRINITY). He’s in the middle of a mission gone south – something about Spanish anarchists and a hacker and a buy, and people chasing him around town trying to trap him. When he ends up dead, CIA director Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman sporting another action movie name that’s not messing around) is desperate to find out what Pope was working on, because he was the only one getting close to a hacker (blackhat?) who may be able to remotely control military weapons. So Wells – actually, can I call him Quaker? – Quaker turns to this guy Dr. Franks (Tommy Lee Jones, UNDER SIEGE) who has been developing this memory-implanting theory for years. (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.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Monday, July 14th, 2014

tn_dotpotaReview of the Movie of The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

When there’s no more room in Hell, the apes will ride the horses. This new PLANET OF THE APES series has decided to start titling in Romerical order, so #2 is DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Sounds good, but since they’ve used the title we can now rule out a future chapter with apes living in an abandoned shopping mall and then they get attacked by biker apes. Also, if this is DAWN OF THE then where is the Hare Krishna ape?

2011’s RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES was exciting because it looked like a total joke and then it caught me with its touching and nuanced story of the super-intelligent ape Caesar, wedged inside a dumb sci-fi story with one dimensional human characters. DAWN loses the advantage of surprise but gains the advantage of building off the first one to create a way better movie. They wisely skip ahead 10 years to when the human population has been decimated by the virus and Caesar has led the apes to build a village in the Redwoods. They’re nearing an Ewok level of advancement with wooden treehouses and spears, war paint, a few crowns and jewels made of teeth. No hoods or hang gliders yet. (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.

RoboCop (2014 remake)

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

tn_robocop14Many remakes, even good ones, remove or weaken the meaning or subtext of the originals. The classic example is Zack Snyder’s DAWN OF THE DEAD (by this same production company, Strike Entertainment), which is a fun action movie version of Romero’s masterpiece, but doesn’t have much time for the questions about our voluntary enslavement to consumerism and materialism. How do we keep our humanity in the face of this apocalypse? Did we have it in the first place? Who gives a shit. Zombies!

Another one is LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. A surprisingly good remake, in many ways more artful than the original, but with its last act tweaks and audience-pleasing ending it completely ditches the thing that makes Wes Craven’s version worth stomaching: its angry illustration of the dehumanizing effect that revenge has on those who commit it. According to the last scene of the remake fuck all that, sadistic revenge is funny and cool.

ROBOCOP 2014’s goals and tone are very different from Mr. Verhoeven’s 1987 classic, but it’s the rare remake that’s arguably even more directly political than the movie it’s based on. Most would say, and I agree, that Verhoeven’s (or really Neumeier and Miner’s) message about privatization and corporate greed is more powerful because of its hilarious bluntness. It was the sarcastic cop movie that Lee Iacoca and Ronald Reagan’s America was asking for, a movie where amoral corporate assholes run the police force for profit, turn a dead body into a cyborg cop, then unleash him to do high caliber battle with savage DEATH WISH style supercreeps and get mixed up in a feud within the company, reconnect with his old self and turn on them. (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.

Lawless

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Remember after THE ROAD director John Hillcoat had this movie called THE WETTEST COUNTY IN THE WORLD that was written by his THE PROPOSITION writer (and famed singer) Nick Cave, he had at-that-time-hot-stuff Shia LaBeouf signed on and everything but nobody would fund the fuckin thing. Then suddenly a mysterious benefactor named Megan Ellison comes into Hollywood and gives him money and gives P.T. Anderson money to make THE MASTER and Andrew Dominik to do KILLING THEM SOFTLY and a bunch of other guys like this. So the legends were true, there are some good rich people out there.
(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.

True Romance

Monday, August 20th, 2012

TRUE ROMANCE is an entertaining, uniquely textured crime movie, a celebration of youthful love, kitsch, Asian exploitation cinema, and great character actors. At the time it seemed like a new feel, especially coming from Tony Scott. Now it’s more notable as a record of young, undisciplined Quentin Tarantino manning the word processor. (Roger Avary was hired to restructure the original non-linear story and write an ending where the hero doesn’t die – yeah, that sounds like young QT all 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.

The Dark Knight Rises

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Well, shit. I had been staying offline working on this review for a couple hours before I had to check a detail on IMDb and found out about the massacre in Colorado last night. Fucking horrible, man. Be safe everybody.

We had a fucked up tragedy in Seattle a few months ago, and even though that was on a smaller scale you see how many people it affects. For those of us blessed enough to be unscathed it still has a psychological effect, it forces you to think about yourself and your loved ones having to go through that. Because I walk by the place where it happened, I know people who went there all the time, I’ve dealt with mentally ill people that could’ve been that guy. Or in this case I love movies too, I went to a midnight showing too, alot of my friends did, alot of you guys did. It’s just as bad as all the other things we read about on the news but it seems more personal.

But I’ve also seen how the community has come together, has celebrated the lives and the art of the people who died, are continuing to hold benefit shows and fundraisers for the families and for the little cafe where it happened. You see that people really do care about their neighbors. And I hope we will also try to learn from these horrible things and figure out how to improve the system to identify the root causes and fix things, get sick people help or whatever needs to be done long before it comes to this.

Warner Brothers is pulling advertising for the weekend, canceled a premiere in France and all TV appearances for the stars, because it seems tacky to promote a movie during this. But instead this sick asshole gets to pretend he’s a super villain, he gets to be on TV, the whole world has to pay attention to him. He gets to stand in for the big summer event movie.

Is it wrong to let one psychopath intentionally take away this source of joy, this thing we’ve been looking forward to so long, that we we want to discuss and (possibly) celebrate? Or is it superficial to still want to do that in the face of this sickening loss of human life? I don’t think Batman movies are the most important thing in the world but shit, I want to talk about Batman movies!

I don’t know what the right thing to do is. Maybe it’s too depressing to think about right now, but when you’re ready for my review of the new Batman movie here it is.

THIS IS AN ALL SPOILERS, I’M-ASSUMING-YOU’VE-ALREADY-SEEN-IT REVIEW. If there’s anybody out there still deciding whether to see it or not this is not gonna help, don’t read 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.

Leon (aka The Professional)

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

tn_leonThese days Luc Besson is mostly thought of as a producer of action movies (DISTRICT B13, TAKEN, THE TRANSPORTER, UNLEASHED). But man, there was a time there a while back when his heart was in being a writer/director, and LEON aka THE PROFESSIONAL is a hell of a good action movie he did.

The year was 1994 and American crime movies were having sort of a resurgence. Young men with movie cameras were reading the Psalms of John Woo and rediscovering the joys of onscreen bullet discharge. It was the year of KILLING ZOE, THE LAST SEDUCTION, FRESH, the Alec Baldwin version of THE GETAWAY and of course DEATH WISH V: THE FACE OF DEATH.
(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.

Book of Eli

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

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…)

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 Christmas Carol (2009)

Monday, November 16th, 2009

tn_christmascarolI guess I got a nuanced view on these Robert Zemeckis “mo-cap” movies. I think he’s kind of delusional if he really thinks this is the future of movies, and I was complaining about the creepiness of attempted realism in POLAR EXPRESS (and earlier in FINAL FANTASY) long before it was a common complaint with the name “uncanny valley.” When it comes to being creeped out by dead-eyed computer animation, I’m NWA and mainstream critics are Ja Rule or somebody.

On the other hand, I kind of love POLAR EXPRESS and BEOWULF and paid to see both of them twice in the theater. Never on DVD, but I’d gladly go back to see either if they were re-released in 3-D again. I love the strong atmosphere of these worlds that Zemeckis creates, and the way he moves the camera around them. I guess here he’s God and the only way He knows to show us things is through His perspective, so we can float through every crack or groove on a wall or hover high into the sky looking down on the settings and characters like they’re ants in our ant farm. (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 Unborn

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

tn_unborn“From one of the writers of THE DARK KNIGHT” is David S. Goyer’s credit these days, but to me he’s still the guy who wrote the BLADE movies. Sure, he fumbled the ball as director of part 3, but it’s not as bad as everybody makes it out to be and definitely not bad enough to cancel his previous accomplishments. The first two BLADE movies are perfect badass storytelling. And he helped with those Batman movies, and with DARK CITY. I liked his BLADE tv show. I even liked his cheesy NICKY FURY tv movie starring David Hasselhoff. So I expect more good things out of him. I think he’s gonna do some good shit.

Hey, how about a PG-13 possession movie from Michael Bay’s remake outfit Platinum Dunes? What better way to show he means business? Hooray! (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.