“I’m sorry. I’m sorry for what I said to you that day in the condo.”
Okay, we have now come to the one “Wait— what?” of the Raimi filmography. His MUSIC OF THE HEART. We saw him completely switch up his style for his last movie, A SIMPLE PLAN, and it was obviously very different and more “normal” than anything he’d done previously. But it wasn’t totally out of the blue for him to make the leap from horror to dark suspense thriller. It had some overlap with the crime films by his friends the Coen Brothers, and it had a great role for Bridget Fonda, who had previously done a cameo in ARMY OF DARKNESS.
But for the love of God, where did FOR LOVE OF THE GAME come from? The answer he always gives is about the only answer possible: he likes baseball, he liked the script, he wanted to try something different. I knew that was what it was but I always figured it would be worth watching some day. “Some day” came 22 years after it was released (now), and I’m actually surprised that the only Raimi I noticed in it at all was Ted Raimi in a cameo as the doorman at a party. I figured there would at least be some cool shots of baseballs flying. The premise is that maybe-about-to-retire Detroit Tigers pitcher Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner, SIZZLE BEACH, U.S.A.) reflects on his failed relationship while trying to pitch a perfect game. You’d think there would be some attempt to experiment with different ways to show a pitch on film, as THE QUICK AND THE DEAD did with gun duels. But it’s not that kind of party. (read the rest of this shit…)
BATTLE FOR TERRA is a computer animated sci-fi fantasy that opened wide with almost no advertising or awareness. I thought it was the big expensive one that was an infamous flop, but it turns out I was confusing it with DELGO, which was released the year before, but not in the summer, so I don’t have to watch it. This one was actually a low budget independent production, but it did open wide and did not seem to capture the public consciousness, so I’ll go ahead and call it a Summer Fling in the tradition of TITAN A.E.
In the opening scene I was unsure I’d be able to make it through this one, because the alien race at the center of the story, the Terrians, look like this:
I pictured people working hard on this movie for months or years and then being crushed when they realized what it was gonna look like, but maybe I’m just picky about alien designs. Boxofficeflops.com says they spent just below $20 million on this (less than a third of the first SHREK’s budget), but Wikipedia says $4 million. If it’s the latter that’s insane because PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 cost $5 million and it’s a fuckin found footage video that doesn’t have an all star cast like this does! However much they had, it’s obviously not gonna have Pixar-level textures, but it doesn’t take more money to have better designs. For my money the worst decision made in this production was “Yes, I am okay with this being what the main character looks like.”
So thank God the story is pretty good. It starts in this world of Terra, a peaceful society of floating pea-pod E.T.s who fly around in wind-powered vehicles in harmony with flying whales. With better visual craftsmanship I think this would feel kinda like THE DARK CRYSTAL, though some things seem a little too close to modern human life (they have school and the teacher takes attendance and they have dinner at the dinner table and if they get in trouble they get sent to their room). (read the rest of this shit…)
Michael Mann feature #4 is MANHUNTER. Instead of a moody portrait of a thief like in THIEF he does one of a profiler trying to identify a serial killer. This is of course Mann’s adaptation of Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon, the pre-SILENCE OF THE LAMBS story of a guy chasing a killer called “The Tooth Fairy” after having caught Hannibal Lecktor (that’s how they spell it when he’s played by Brian Cox). William Petersen (THE SKULLS) plays Will Graham, who FBI agent Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina, CODE OF SILENCE) nudges into the investigation by showing him some crime scene photos and making him feel bad. That was a pretty shitty thing to do because Will is just starting to get his life back together after getting inside the mind of Lecktor also got him inside the rooms of a mental hospital.
BRAVEHEART is an important motion picture. It won 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, it transformed Mel Gibson from the star of the MAD MAX and LETHAL WEAPON movies to a respected director, and it became a point of pride for people of Scottish descent all around the world, or at least in the U.S., I don’t know. So I figured there was only one way to properly celebrate the 20th anniversary of the film’s release: get around to watching it for the first time. See what the deal is.
Mel Gibson (the star of the MAD MAX and LETHAL WEAPON movies) plays William Wallace, a rugged young goofball and champion rock thrower returning to his village after years of absence after the war deaths of his father and brother. He gets home just in time to witness the English declaring prima nocta, best known as that thing that Tony Stark jokes about in THE AVENGERS 2, but it means the royalty are allowed to rape your wife. Even back then it was not considered cool at all.
But William goes about life as normal and he falls in love with a gal named Murron (Catherine McCormack, THE WEIGHT OF WATER, 28 WEEKS LATER) and he marries her in secret (Anakin style) so as not to attract wife-raping royal scum. But some asshole comes and kills his wife so he gets revenge and then becomes a revolutionary and leads a ragtag army of guerrillas and kills like seven thousand people and spends most of the movie covered in war paint and/or blood. But he’s still pretty charming for the most part and has a good sense of humor including mooning, etc. (read the rest of this shit…)
I like doing these re-reviews. Alot of times I feel differently about a movie as I get older, or I notice new things after seeing it more than once, or I benefit from being removed from the context of the hype and the reactions I’d been hearing when it came out. But it’s a challenge too because it’s so easy to be redundant. More than once I wrote a draft of one of these and then read my old review and found out I unknowingly repeated an idea or even an exact phrase. Shit. Like I was doing I, ROBOT and I was real proud of this joke where I rewrote the 3 Laws of Robotics in my own way. Then it turned out I already did that years ago.
And as the gap narrows here at the end of the series it’s getting pretty ridiculous. This was only 2 years ago, and I haven’t gone off to live a quiet life in a monastery and stick fight in a remote village or anything like that. A man can only gain so much wisdom in that period of time, so my views haven’t really changed on the movie of THE RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES of the starring James Franco. It’s still a very enjoyable dumb man’s thinking man’s sci-fi. (read the rest of this shit…)
Well I’ll be the rise of a monkey’s uncle – this movie actually is good! I’d heard all good things, but after seeing the trailers and TV ads it was hard to get my hopes up. Boiled down to basics and money shots it’s just some dumb bullshit: James Franco making speeches about a miracle cure, quick shots of every scene where a CGI ape jumps into the air, dramatic trailer music squeals and buzzes. I didn’t even think the much hyped special effects by Weta looked that good. Instead of the people in makeup as evolved apes from the original masterpiece they gotta have Andy Serkis or Tom Hanks or somebody controlling a computer animated chimp with humanized eyes and expressions. They show a baby chimp, it’s digital. Do they not know there are chimps? They think they can’t film a real one ’cause it’s a made up creature like a Smurf or an Avatar? I wasn’t buying it. (read the rest of this shit…)
TRICK ‘R TREAT got a little bit of the ol’ internet hype when it came out last Halloween. It’s a Halloween-time horror anthology written and directed by Michael Dougherty (co-writer of X2, SUPERMAN RETURNS and URBAN LEGENDS: BLOODY MARY). It was made for a 2007 theatrical release but then it got bumped and fell behind the shelf and got misplaced for a while. I believe it got shown at one of the doll collecting conventions or something so some of the internet websights got behind it, but ultimately it got released DTV. But it’s “Warner Premiere,” kind of a respectable DTV outlet, actually. According to their websight they “develop and produce quality, direct-to-consumer content including feature-length entertainment for the rapidly growing direct-to-DVD market,” which is press release talk for “sequels to THE LOST BOYS.” But they’re pretty respected for not having done any movies starring Cuba Gooding Jr. (read the rest of this shit…)
MATCH POINT is the new Woody Allen picture. The title refers to tennis but to me it sounds like just some generic name of a place title like GOSFORD PARK or PACIFIC HEIGHTS or LAND OF THE DEAD. If it was up to me it would be called KEEP YOUR DICK IN YOUR PANTS. You know, like, “This winter, director Woody Allen invites you to… Keep Your Dick In Your Pants.”
This is the first Woody Allen movie in a long time that doesn’t seem exactly like every other Woody Allen movie. It takes place in London with a mostly british cast. Jonathan Rhys somebody (a guy from TITUS) plays a guy named Chris. He’s a former pro tennis player who’s kind of a cheapskate, always trying to bum shit off of people. So one day he’s taking advantage of a rich tennis student’s generosity when he falls for the guy’s sister (Emily Mortimer). And then as soon as that’s rolling he falls even harder for the guy’s fiancee (Scarlett Johansen [hubba hubba]). He wants Scarlett bad and tries to make a pass at her but it doesn’t work out. So what the hell, he marries Emily. He gets a good job out of it and her parents pay for him to have a nice apartment and shit. And she wants some babies, now. (read the rest of this shit…)
Under normal circumstances Wes Craven’s new picture RED EYE would be nothing special. But his last one was that horrible werewolf travesty called CURSED so this is sort of an event. Wes Craven made a movie and it’s kind of good.
I believe this is a first for Wes Craven: not a horror movie, and yet not about a white lady teaching inner city kids to play violin. What it is is a suspense thriller type deal that takes place on a plane. It is the first in the slew of plane-fear-sploitation movies that I guess are inevitable both in the aftermath of 9-11 and in the leadup to SNAKES ON A PLANE. (read the rest of this shit…)
WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT THE SHIT OUT OF VERN & OUTLAWVERN.COM
if that's your thing:
Toss me a couple bucks a month, support the good shit, also get access to a bunch of exclusive writing. This is my primary source of writing money that has allowed me to cut down to part time at the day job. Thank you!
2. Buy my books from your local bookseller or somebody