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

Posts Tagged ‘Jada Pinkett Smith’

Magic Mike XXL

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

tn_mmxxlMAGIC MIKE XXL is a movie about a group of musclebound dudes going on a road trip together to enter a big competition. Along the way they pick up girls, get drunk, get high, meet new friends, reunite with old ones, repair old wounds, learn lessons, fall in love, get laid, confess vulnerabilities, get in a wreck, go to a hospital, all the things you would expect. And yet it feels one-of-a-kind in its attitude.

Like the first MAGIC MIKE this stars and was produced by Channing Tatum, inspired by his past as a “male entertainer,” or stripper, and written by his friend Reid Carolin. People don’t seem to remember this, but Tatum was kind of the co-lead of that first movie, trying to get out of the game while showing the ropes to The Kid (Alex Pettyfur), who ends up becoming a drug addict, turning the fun times into a cautionary bummer. I liked the movie but the sequel is significantly better for ditching The Kid and focusing on Mike taking a vacation from his designer furniture company to get in a food truck with the boys and take One Last Ride to Myrtle Beach.

The team is no longer led by Matthew McConaughey as Dallas. That sounded like a problem when the news first got out, but it’s actually an asset. With his character no longer there to absorb all your attention the movie gives way more shine to the other dancers, especially Joe Manganiello (SABOTAGE) as the towering, abrasive but large-hearted doofus Big Dick Richie, and Matt Bomer as the eyebrow plucking pretty boy Ken, who reveals a funny New Agey side. Like all of their eccentricities they tease him about it but also accept it. True friendship. (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.

Scream 2

Monday, October 5th, 2015

tn_scream2SCREAM 2 is a slasher sequel that had a rare level of difficulty. The fringe nature of the subgenre normally allows part 2s some leeway as exploitational cash grabs, making room for everything from an okay continuation (HALLOWEEN II) to an experimental misstep (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE) to a perfection of the formula (FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2) to a re-inventing masterpiece-in-its-own-right (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2). But SCREAM was such a mainstream smash hit, and it created such a new interest in horror among non-horror people, that it had different expectations to live up to.

Also, its horror-movie-where-the-characters-know-about-horror-movies gimmick positioned it as sort of above horror movies, so they couldn’t get away with a normal sequel, they had to also say something about sequels. At the same time it couldn’t really follow the template of the sequels it was supposed to be commenting on because it’s a series where the bad guys die and the good guys come back in sequels, so it’s a totally different type of story from most popular slashers.

As if all that wasn’t a tall enough hurdle to jump over, this was maybe the first movie production to get screwed by internet spoilers. A first draft of the script got leaked online, so they changed the twist ending during filming. (I bet Elise Neal was bummed she didn’t get to do her killer reveal speech.) (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.

Menace II Society

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

tn_menaceiisocietyMENACE II SOCIETY is generally considered the best and most hardcore of the ’90s “hood movies.” BOYZ N THE HOOD (released almost 2 years earlier) was already controversial and blamed for violence near theaters  despite its unmistakable Increase the Peace preachiness. Now here comes this lower budget movie with more violence, more anti-social behavior, more expectation of the audience to know right from wrong, and no Huxtable sweaters, football or Stanley Clarke fusion to help the medicine go down. The “nice kid” in this one is a drug dealer who, when he gets a call from a girl telling him she’s pregnant with his baby, says “Look, I ain’t got time for this. Peace.”

It’s narrated by that kid from Watts, Caine (Tyrin Turner, PANTHER), telling the story of his summer after graduating from high school. It starts with him and his friend O-Dog (Larenz Tate, WAIST DEEP) going into a mini-mart for 40s and getting into an argument with the Asian couple who run it (June Kyoto Lu [who was in CONFESSIONS OF AN OPIUM EATER!] and Toshi Toda [LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA]). Caine and O-Dog are being jerks, opening the bottles before paying for them, even though they’re under 21 and oughta be grateful that these people are gonna sell it to them in the first place. Caine is kinda laughing it off but then fuckin O-Dog decides to shoot and kill the couple. He takes the security tape and spends the summer showing it to all his buddies like it’s a funny Jackass video or something.

This shows you the relationship between these two. Caine knows it’s stupid to be showing it to people, and he complains about it every time, but he never makes him stop. (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.

Set It Off

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

tn_setitoffLong before he directed the new biopic STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, F. Gary Gray was already linked to members of N.W.A. He’d directed the video for the Ice Cube classic “It Was a Good Day” (1992), and later the action-movie-inspired “Natural Born Killaz” by Dr. Dre and Ice Cube (from the soundtrack to MURDER WAS THE CASE). When Gray started in features it was with Cube, who wrote, produced and starred in FRIDAY. And he also did the video for Dre’s “Keep Their Heads Ringin” from that soundtrack.

So in ’97, when he did his first action movie, he cast Dre in a small role as Black Sam, an underworld figure who provides guns for the protagonists, an all female crew of bank robbers.

Hear me out on this, but I do not consider N.W.A to be super respectful of women. Their songs talked endlessly about the bitches and/or hoes. FRIDAY also did some of that, in arguably a more playful way. The men are all doofuses, but Nia Long and Regina King aren’t, so you can’t take it completely seriously. But there’s a whole lot of humor about the women they do or don’t want to get laid by, and one hilariously has as her theme song “Hoochie Mama” by 2 Live Crew. “Big booty hoes – up wit it!”

So with that in mind it’s pretty cool that Gray’s second movie has an entirely female POV. (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.

Demon Knight

Monday, October 11th, 2010

tn_demonknightWell boils and ghouls, I’m glad I took a stab at reviewing THE PHANTOM recently and got you squealing about Billy Zane, because you were dead right to recommend this movie in the, uh, corpse-ments. (the comments is what I mean. I’m not sure that one works.) This movie is an absolute scream! Sometimes my throat gets really dry and I can’t stop coffin. something about rigor mortis, etc.

TALES FROM THE CRYPT PRESENTS: DEMON KNIGHT is another enjoyable studio B-movie of the ’90s that held up better than I thought it would. Directed by Ernest Dickerson (cinematographer of DO THE RIGHT THING, director of BONES, and that about sums him up) it’s a pulpy supernatural hotel-siege tale with a game Billy Zane as the (SPOILER) demon that the knight fights with. (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 Matrix Reloaded

Saturday, May 24th, 2003

This might bother some of you but I just want to say it up front: put me in the camp of people who say the original MATRIX really is “the shit” as the kids say when they mean that it is not shit but actually the opposite of shit, which is I guess in this case THE MATRIX. Because what these boys the Wachowski Brothers did was an extremely well executed twilight zone concept for the post William Gibson days which also happened to be the perfect vehicle to combine over the top Hong Kong martial arts traditions with american actors and computer effects AND an appropriate metaphor for our times.

I love the idea that somebody like Jackie Chan or Michael Jordan who has extraordinary physical skills could actually just be a smart dude who figured out loopholes in the laws of reality. If you can understand the program well enough you can cheat and do things that a person isn’t supposed to be able to do. In the old shaw brothers movies it was just magic or shaolin wisdom but here we put those same spectacular moves in a sci-fi context and we get a whole different spin where even some jackass like Keanu Reeves can fly through the air and be so convincing that most of American can watch him as the iconic badass Neo and not even think of him as Keanu anymore. (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.

Divided (Dancer in the Dark and Bamboozled)

Monday, October 16th, 2000

INTRODUCTION

Well this week it’s nothing but controversy in the world of arthouse type Cinema. Discussion and debate riddles the lobbies of select theaters nationwide. Limited releases bring unlimited disagreement in a platform type pattern across the great land of america.

Audiences are divided over which movie is more divisive, Dancer in the Dark or Bamboozled? Many love Dancer in the Dark, many hate it. Bamboozled has been called both a career destroying debacle and the year’s best film. However some feel that Bamboozled is really more provocative than divisive. Maybe Dancer in the Dark is dividing audiences, but is it provoking them? No matter how divisive it is, can it be as outrageous as Bamboozled? As explosive?

Well shit I don’t know. Personally I’m divided on both of these. I love ’em and I hate ’em. I think I love Dancer in the Dark a little more than I hate it and hate Bamboozled a little more than I love it. But I mean who knows I am so divided and provoked and outraged at their explosiveness that I don’t even know up from down anyway. (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.