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

Posts Tagged ‘Walton Goggins’

American Ultra

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

tn_americanultraAMERICAN ULTRA is an action… I want to say comedy?… about what would happen if a totally unlikable stoner who works at a Cash ‘n Carry turned out to unknowingly be a brainwashed government super killer who has been missing and the CIA tries to take him out so he finds himself killing a bunch of dudes in self defense and doesn’t know why. THE BOURNE IDENTITY meets some dude you know’s unproductive early 20s.

But it’s not jokey like a Cheech and Chong picture or THE PINEAPPLE EXPRESS. Mike, the horrible loser protagonist, is played by Jesse Eisenberg (CURSED) with his usual cold distance, minus the intelligence. He’s not the funny or huggable type of stoner either, he’s just the kind that you’re supposed to like because he has a dream of creating a generic “underground comic” about a monkey (it could be this generation’s MONKEYBONE in my opinion) and mumbles quasi-deep philosophical bullshit comparing his life to that of a tree. In narration he humblebrags about being “a fucked up couple” with his long-suffering, oh-that-poor-woman, someone-really-needs-to-have-an-intervention-with-her-about-that-terrible-boyfriend-that-is-sucking-away-her-life-essence-every-second-of-the-day girlfriend Phoebe (Kristen Stewart, JUMPER). But, sorry bud, these two aren’t even Sid and Nancy, they’re just a guy who disappoints his girlfriend by saying they’re going to Hawaii and then instead having a panic attack and bringing her home to make her an omelette and then burning 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.

The Hateful Eight

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

tn_hatefuleight(SPOILERS. This is a don’t-read-before-seeing-the-movie review.)

Quentin Tarantino tries out a couple new tricks in his new one, THE HATEFUL EIGHT: he shot in extra-wide 65mm Cinemascope, and helped hook up a bunch of theaters with 70mm projectors (and projectionists, I assume) to show an early, longer version of the movie complete with an overture, intermission and program. He got Ennio Morricone to compose and orchestrate some new music for it (Tarantino’s only previous original scoring was some bits by RZA and Robert Rodriguez for the KILL BILLs). But it also feels pretty familiar: his second extreme-racism western in a row, with chapter titles like KILL BILL, full of conversation suspense scenes like INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, mostly one location like RESERVOIR DOGS, some non-linear jumps like most of his movies, and a cast with plenty of his regulars (Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, James Parks, Zoe Bell, Waltong Goggins [I almost forgot he was in DJANGO UNCHAINED). Just as INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS got away with some out-of-the-blue, seemingly incongruous narration by Jackson, HATEFUL EIGHT follows up its intermission with some omniscient narration that you suddenly realize is Tarantino himself. I can see why some people would hate that, but I loved it. I mean, who are we fooling, we all know it’s this guy talking to us through this movie anyway. And it helps kick off the second half with an energy the first was lacking.

Here’s something brand new for a Tarantino movie: I didn’t immediately love it. I’m honestly still trying to figure out how I feel about it. I’m not sure I get it. I remember that with both INGLOURIOUS and DJANGO I had misgivings on the first viewings that later seemed completely irrelevant. With the former it was thinking that Brad Pitt seemed like Brad Pitt playing a funny character, he didn’t inhabit the character the way previous Tarantino leads had. With the latter it was that Tarantino had never done a movie that followed one character chronologically, and it seemed kinda too simple for him. Both of those seem like dumb complaints to me now, and I loved both movies without reservations on subsequent viewings. Even so, their first times I liked better than this first time. (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.

So long, Justified

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

tn_justifiedThere are many great shows that have transcended or elevated the television artform, that have been compared favorably to cinema or to great novels. Some of them I’ve seen, some I’ll catch up with some day. But Justified was my kind of show. It was full of badass bravado, dry humor, a love of language and personality. Like the Elmore Leonard books that inspired it it was accessible and unpretentious, but also smart and original. I like to think it could be enjoyed by snooty book lovers as much as by people who liked Walker, Texas Ranger.

I came to it as an enjoyer of Leonard. I remember hearing there was gonna be another show based on one of his characters, starring Timothy Olyphant, and I was curious to check it out in case it might be decent. Then I happened to see an extended preview, a clip of the scene from the pilot where Raylan meets Dewey Crowe and bangs his head against a steering wheel. And I thought oh shit, this actually looks seriously good. I’m gonna have to make an effort to actually watch a TV show from the beginning. And come to think of it I watched the entire series as it aired each week, that’s pretty rare for me.

Leonard has not had a good track record on television. I don’t mean in quality of adaptation, but in survival. There was that show of Maximum Bob with Beau Bridges. It got good reviews and was cancelled before I ever caught an episode. Years later there was Karen Sisco. I thought, now how do you make a TV version of a character that was so perfectly portrayed by Jennifer Lopez in the best Elmore Leonard adaptation ever? And then Carla Gugino came and changed my idea of who that character is. And that one I did manage to watch most of the episodes but again, cancelled before the season even finished. And neither show has ever been released on the home video.

So it’s surprising and great that not only was Justified so good, but it had the chance to last for six seasons, continue to grow in popularity, and go out on a high note. And on purpose – I’m sure FX would’ve let them make two or three or four more seasons if they’d wanted to. (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.

Machete Kills

Monday, October 14th, 2013

tn_machetekillsThere are lots of funny things in MACHETE KILLS. For a while it coasts on enjoyably stupid jokes, like the ridiculous trailer for part 3 of the series that it opens with. Early on it has a little faux-serious melodrama, playing it almost straight when a clash with rogue soldiers, a Mexican drug cartel and an army in lucha libre masks leads to the death of Machete (Danny Trejo, DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN, MARKED FOR DEATH)’s partner. I like the setup, with a redneck Arizona sheriff (William Sadler, DIE HARD 2) failing to hang Machete before he gets called in by the president (Charlie Sheen, NAVY SEALS, credited as Carlos Estevez) who offers him citizenship in exchange for doing a dangerous mission. I thought the joke of casting him was to have a guy as crazy as Sheen as the president, like wasn’t Mickey Rourke the president in MASKED AND ANONYMOUS? It honestly didn’t occur to me until seeing him on a White House set that his dad played the president in The West Wing (not to mention playing Kennedy). Anyway, the best part is the idea that this unsavory slasher/wife-and-daughter-fucker/assassin gets to sit in the White House and hear his offer.

Trejo’s face is even more rugged than ever, if possible, and he doesn’t have to joke around. He’s fun to watch just being that same character, but now equipped with various high-tech variations on machetes to chop people up with. Robert Rodriguez (credited as sole director this time, and also with his name above the title, but only a co-story credit) once again fills the movie with a huge, unlikely cast, mostly playing colorful gimmicky characters: Mel Gibson (PAPARAZZI) as a weapon inventor/space cultist planning to blow up the world, Demian Bichir (2012 best actor nominee for A BETTER LIFE) as a revolutionary/terrorist/something, Amber Heard (DRIVE ANGRY) as a government agent undercover as a beauty queen, Walton Goggins/Cuba Gooding Jr./Lady Gaga/Antonio Banderas all playing the same assassin called El Camaleon, Vanessa Hudgens (SPRING BREAKERS) as a girl that’s in one part, Sofia Vergara allowing Salma Hayek some dignity by stepping in to play the deadly Madam character with army of killer prostitutes (see also Lucy Liu in THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS, Zoe Bell in BAYTOWN OUTLAWS, etc.) (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.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Monday, April 1st, 2013

tn_gijoe2BruceGI JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA was a stupid fucking movie from a shitty director. I loved it. It was just so un-self-consciously ludicrous that it was hard not to enjoy. Like a hyperactive little kid that you would never want to be a parent to but just seeing him jump around giggling for a minute makes you laugh.

The directionist was Stephen “THE MUMMY” Sommers, a veteran of loud, dumb, rhythm-less and weirdly low rent big budget summer blockbuster type movies. The guy couldn’t direct his way through a “DIRECTORS ONLY” door, but he’s excited enough about ninjas and funny masks and shit that he accidentally made a fun one. I would say he made RISE OF COBRA fun not so much through his talents as through a series of coincidences. (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.

Lincoln

Monday, November 12th, 2012

After the election on Tuesday, which brought us 4 historic gay rights ballot victories, the first openly gay Senator and the most women in the Senate ever, it was a no-brainer to spend Friday night watching Spielberg’s movie about Abraham Lincoln and his people’s fight to eke together a coalition to pass the 13th amendment to the Constitution, ending 400 years of slavery. Also, SKYFALL was sold out.
(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.

Damage

Monday, August 9th, 2010

tn_damagecountdownlogoWhen I saw the terrible WWE Films theatrically released post-action movie THE CONDEMNED I said that I liked “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s screen persona, “his gravelly voice and his Plissken-esque don’t-give-a-fuck attitude,” and predicted that “If he was given an actual character to play in a movie by people who knew how to make a real movie, he could be at least as good as Roddy Piper.” I was probly thinking a lowbrow studio movie like a DEATH RACE or something, but this’ll do: a surprisingly compelling DTV underground fighting movie from Jeff King, the director of Seagal’s KILL SWITCH and DRIVEN TO KILL (which it just occurred to me oughta be the name of a movie where Seagal plays an ex-CIA NASCAR driver or Tokyo drifter. Coulda woulda shoulda). (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.

Predators

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

tn_predatorsWell, whattya know? PREDATORS really is a good old fashioned action movie in the tradition of PREDATOR. Whichever corporate overlord holds the deed to the PREDATOR licensed property seems to be taking a temporary break from the “make sure they know we just want their money” policy that was in place for the two cheesy movies where the PREDATOR predators and the ALIEN aliens all got humiliated together fighting that pizza delivery boy at the pool party or whatever.

The movie begins with THE PIANIST himself, Adrien Brody, dropping from the sky. He just wakes up mid-air, hurtling toward an unknown jungle, no idea how he got here, and luckily finds that he has some kind of small parachute contraption attached to him. We’ve all been there, so it’s a real relatable way to start a movie. (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.

Justified

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

elmoreleonardshowsI know some of you were planning to watch that new FX show JUSTIFIED – what did you think? I thought it was a good first episode, taking advantage of that good side of Timothy Olyphant that we enjoyed in A PERFECT GETAWAY and other things, the opposite of the one that was in HITMAN. The pilot was adapted from an Elmore Leonard story that I haven’t read, and the moronic neo-nazi villains are definitely very Leonard. So we’ll have to see how much of that flavor they can retain with their original stories. But they’re definitely off to a good start with Olyphant’s character, a marshal who’s tougher and smarter than everyone around him, and who gets sent back to Kentucky after his Old West mentality causes trouble in Tampa.

Favorite conversation: when he tells the Jamaican priest about going to a Peter Tosh concert (he wasn’t into it). Favorite scene (easy): when he not only steals the neo-nazi’s shotgun and puts him back in his car, but suddenly bangs his head against the horn.

The pilot reminded me of KAREN SISCO, a surprisingly good Elmore Leonard based show they had on ABC in 2003. Sure enough both are by the same director, Michael Dinner (Mad Magazine’s hilarious parody character of DEATH WISH director Michael Winner). I thought they could never replace Jennifer Lopez as that character from OUT OF SIGHT (still my favorite Leonard movie I think, although JACKIE BROWN is a contender), but after watching a few episodes Carla Gugino became the definitive Karen Sisco for me. It helped that they had Bill Duke as her boss and Robert Forster as her dad. And they did a good job of supplying the criminal-of-the-week characters with personality.

Every time Carla Gugino has another TV show I think “hey, maybe it’ll be a hit and they’ll finally release KAREN SISCO on DVD.” But it didn’t work for THRESHOLD and whatever other shows she was on that got cancelled. So now we’ll just have to hope this one hits big and causes a demand for other Elmore Leonard TV shows. Rights holders please note that Academy Award winner Kathryn Bigelow directed one episode. Let’s see that DVD.

And while I’m at it I never saw that MAXIMUM BOB show either. That was supposed to be pretty good, wasn’t it?

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 Next Karate Kid

Thursday, March 3rd, 2005

Two time Oscar winner Hilary Swank, hailing from Bellingham, Washington, stars in the explosive finale to the Karate Kid quadilogy. This one was Swank’s first starring role and came out in 1994, when movies were just as crappy but not quite as funny as their ’80s counterparts. The director is Christopher Cain, father of Dean Cain and director of The Amazing Panda Adventure.

Swank plays Julie, a pouty, sullen teenage girl who lives unhappily with her grandma after the death of her parents. Anything anybody says to Julie, she takes offense and throws a hissy fit. You know how old people are, they try to be nice but they don’t really understand where your teenage mind is coming from, so they offer you some lemon bars or something and you’re like “GOD DAMN IT WHY CAN’T YOU JUST LEAVE ME ALONE?!” and run out of the room crying. So then Julie goes in and stabs grandma to death in her sleep, while jerkin off. Or was that a different movie? I can’t remember. (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.