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

Posts Tagged ‘Wachowskis’

Jupiter Ascending

Monday, February 9th, 2015

tn_jupiterascendingFirst of all, I’d like to thank the Wachowskis for their unprecedented run of crazy, idiosyncratic big budget studio genre movies, and wish them luck in whatever their new vocation is.

I love the Wachowskis without reservation. BOUND is alot of fun and THE MATRIX is a brilliant sci-fi action classic and then everything they’ve made since then has been messier and crazier. But for them to make sane movies would be a waste of their talent. They can keep pushing the envelopes of special effects technology and storytelling technique as long as they also keep challenging the limits of what a studio can sink hundreds of millions of dollars into. And while I understand some of the disappointment in the MATRIX sequels, I also think that most of it comes from people wanting them to just do the same exact shit again. To me those movies are brimming with excitement about which unexpected turn they can make while also continuing to top themselves in action spectacle.

And then they got to make SPEED RACER. And they must’ve suspected that wasn’t gonna light the world on fire. They are heroes.

Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy their new sci-fi-fantasy joint JUPITER ASCENDING like I did the MATRIXes or SPEED RACER, and didn’t intellectually admire it as much as CLOUD ATLAS. It has way less ambition than that one and a little more boredom. I can respect that it’s something that nobody else would ever make, or want to make, or want to have made. It’s ballsy in how shamelessly corny it is. But it’s a shame that their worst one by far will be their last. (I’m assuming. After this many big budget flops in a row you gotta figure they’ll be washing dishes at Warner Brothers until they’ve worked off their debt.) (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.

Summer Movie Flashback: Speed Racer

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

tn_speedracer

2008
2008

These days it’s pretty common for people to say that SPEED RACER is an overlooked gem – or even a masterpiece – that was misunderstood at the time. So give credit to your old Uncle Vern for praising it from day 1. I didn’t misunderstand that shit! I understood the hell out of it. I am a real good understander in my opinion. Not to brag.

But this is the second time I’ve watched it and actually I liked it alot more this time. I didn’t have as many reservations about the aggressively shiny and video gamey pixelscapes it takes place in. It’s still not my favorite look, but my brain has adjusted. I don’t know, maybe the rainbow colored kaleidoscope spinning around the studio logos at the beginning hypnotizes you when you see it on Blu-Ray. It starts to look amazing.

What really impressed me is the next level filmatism within that artifical world. The camera (or “camera”) soars through, over and around these space age racers as they zoom, drift, bounce and fly through loopty-loops, giant pinball machines and monster-faced ice caves, and despite all the speed and freneticism I think this mayhem is really easy to follow. (Judging from my original review maybe the smaller screen helps.) Characters’ heads constantly float away, wiping into the next scene, a more evolved version of Ang Lee’s best moves in HULK and, now that I think about it, one of a long list of ways that this movie must’ve influenced the shit out of SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD. There are fight scenes, Speed and Racer X vs. practicioners of nonjitsu, and you get a glimpse of the MATRIX era Wachowskis. Then it bounces into a more candy colored, silly-anime type of style with abstract backgrounds and even more exaggerated physics. (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.

Cloud Atlas

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

What if there were like a book of maps, only it was made out of the sky? That would be weird.

Well, anyway. At a climactic point in CLOUD ATLAS a character talks righteously about freedom, and about refusing to accept boundaries. And that’s what Lana and Andy Wachowski (who directed this along with Tom Tykwer) have done with their lives, their careers and this movie in particular. If you haven’t heard what CLOUD ATLAS is, it’s a nearly 3-hour epic based on a supposedly unadaptable book. It takes place in a bunch of different time periods ranging from the age of slavery to a dystopian future to even a post-apocalyptic future after that. But not in order – it jumps around from story to story, like a bunch of unrelated movies edited together as a weird joke on Youtube.
(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.

Ninja Assassin

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

tn_ninjaassassinI’ve finally seen NINJA ASSASSIN, produced by the Wachowskis, directed by James McTeigue, their second unit director and the director of V FOR VENDETTA. The bad news is it’s not the instant classic or genre reviver I figured it would be when I first heard they were making it, the good news is it’s not the unwatchable trash most of the reviews have told me it was. The Scott Adkins movie NINJA could top it (I just ordered a Thai DVD of it) but that’s okay, I still had a fun time at the movies. Here is the ticket stub:

ninja_ass

Get it? Ass. (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.

Assassins

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

tn_assassinsASSASSINS: the word with two asses

Stallone, Banderas, Julianne Moore, Richard Donner. Not a bad roster, but I never heard anything good about this 1995 studio action picture. I’ve had it on my list for a while anyway because the script is credited to Andy & Larry Wachowski and Brian Helgeland. How do you go too wrong with that? Whoever’s script got ditched they were rewritten by somebody good. Either the MATRIX guys or the PAYBACK guy.

Well, overall the movie’s only okay, decent, watchable. Some nice touches, but fairly forgettable. But I gotta say, the first half hour or so approaches greatness. My favorite scene is actually right at the beginning. Stallone is leading another guy out into the woods at gunpoint, obviously to put him down like Old Yeller. Their faces are glum, like this is an inevitable conclusion they’ve dreaded for a long time. Both are wearing nice suits and ties, Stallone is wearing knee-high rubber boots.

Suddenly they get to a marsh. The guy’s shoe sticks in the mud. He laughs. “You know, when I saw you I wasn’t scared, but I did wonder why you were wearing those. Now I know.” (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.

Speed Racer

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

If the old Speed Racer cartoon had a baby with a Hot Wheels commercial in the back of a candy store and fed it magic mushrooms every day for breakfast, then when it turned 18 that baby would legally become this movie. What I mean is it’s clearly the product of its upbringing: silly cartoon plot, Skittles color palette, cartoon physics, monkey wearing clothes, etc. But it wants to become a man, so it rebels. It confuses little kids and their parents with a complex non-linear structure intercutting a present day race with backstory and a flashback race and overlapping past and present races within one shot. And instead of trying to stop some evil plot to destroy the world like you’re supposed to do in this type of movie, SPEED RACER helps an investigative body stop a corrupt corporation from manipulating the stock market by fixing races. (It does not mention the tax disputes from PHANTOM MENACE.)

The result is a movie that people want to beat up. The Wachowski Brothers until now have only directed 4 movies, 3 of them THE MATRIX and the other one just to prove to the studio they could direct THE MATRIX, so this is almost like their sophomore slump. It’s an absurdly ridiculous and/or ridiculously absurd, kind of alienating and weird Wachowski version of a kiddie movie that already seems destined to lose the studio a ton of money and either force the Wachowskis to try something smaller or safer or to go away and not direct for ten years. Also I kind of liked 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.

Vern witnesses THE INVASION and lives to tell you about it!!!

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

SPOILER ALERT !!

INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. First there was the book. Then the movie by Don Siegel. Then the ’70s version by Philip Kaufman. Then the ’90s one that everybody hated if they heard of it but personally I thought it was okay by Abel Ferrara. Now we got yet another version, this one directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, a German guy known here for DAS EXPERIMENT and DOWNFALL. But then after he was done they, uh, snatched it from him, and producer Joel Silver had the Wachowskis write some new scenes which were apparently shot by the V FOR VENDETTA dude.

So you kind of know right away that this is not gonna be a masterpiece. Either Hirschbeigel’s movie sucked – in which case they’re not gonna be able to fix it just by adding some Wachowski here and there – or maybe the movie was good and Joel Silver just didn’t get it, in which case, fuck. I guess the best thing you can wish for is an ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU where it’s completely crazy anyway and the turmoil probaly added to the magic. (But even in that case the director was replaced after a few days, not after the movie was already done.) (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.

V for Vendetta

Friday, March 17th, 2006

V FOR VENDETTA is a big exciting futuristic comic book movie, produced and written by the Wachowskis, starring Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman, playing in Imax in some towns, but not here. It’s a movie nerds are pretty excited for, but the talk is less about is he wearing the right cape, are his powers depicted in exactly the way I personally imagined them, etc., and more about the politics. Because although it features a guy in a cape and mask who fights bad guys in dark alleys, the story is more of a 1984 type deal than a spiderman. Apparently the comic strip book was written in England in the 1980s in response to the Margaret Thatcher administration.

I saw a review in Entertainment Weekly that talked about references to Bush and Bill O’Reilly and Abu Ghraib and what not, but I figure this is more like STAR WARS prequels: it’s about all the assholes throughout history, and the leaders we have now just so happen to be members. It’s like I always say, if your government is strikingly similar to the dystopian sci-fi stories of the past then you got a problem there, in my opinion. (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.

Bound

Tuesday, January 1st, 2002

Well I saw this picture a long time ago, but now with all of America waiting anxiously for THE MATRIX PART 2: RETURN OF THE MATRIX and THE MATRIX PART 3: BEYOND MATRIXDOME, I thought it would be a good time to go back and take another look at the Wachowski brothers first picture, this stylish neo-noir with a side of lesbians.

It’s funny to think that these guys have now done 3 MATRIX movies in a row, and the only other movie was this one, which they made only to prove to the studio that they could direct THE MATRIX. At the time nobody knew what the fuck the Matrix was so they just thought they were trying to be like the Coen Brothers when they made their first movie BLOOD SIMPLE or the Dahl brothers when they made their first movie RED ROCK WEST but really they were just being the Matrix Brothers doing a demo reel. (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.