When I saw DOMINO on opening day in 2005, I really thought it was the worst shit ever. In fact, at some point I earnestly added a “the worst shit ever” tag to my review of it. Tony Scott’s most chaotic ever visual style and editing just scraped against me and took me out of the story (to the extent that there was one), and I fixated on that and raged against it in my review. This had happened to me only a couple of times before: first with CON AIR, then ARMAGEDDON, and later it would happen with TRANSFORMERS and DOOMSDAY. But DOMINO is the most stylistically aggressive of any of those, and arguably the most pretentious.
In my review I said Scott was trying to seem young and edgy, compared it to getting his ear pierced. In my mind at that time he was the guy who directed TOP GUN, and TOP GUN was a movie for jocks, military lovers and top 40 listeners. When that one came out I didn’t notice that its style was revolutionary, I just knew everybody loved it including my entire sixth grade class, which meant it was the height of mainstream popular culture about a year or two before I would start kneejerk rebelling against such things. So to have the TOP GUN guy, almost 20 years later, trying to do what screenwriter Richard Kelly calls on the commentary track “punk rock,” was just a joke to me. (read the rest of this shit…)
I got a good laugh when I went to see THE LAST WITCH HUNTER and they showed a trailer for the POINT BREAK remake. They’d been advertising it for a while, but this audience clearly didn’t know about it since they gasped and groaned in disapproval when the title came up. They knew that this was going too far to remake POINT BREAK, even though they didn’t know that a trailer about some guys robbing a bank wearing president masks and then an FBI agent who’s a surfer has a theory that the robberies are being done by extreme athletes and he goes undercover in the group but he gets too close to the guru-like leader whose name is Bodhi means this is a remake of POINT BREAK. They didn’t recognize it until the title.
But they’re kinda right. POINT BREAK cannot be duplicated. It can be ripped off and turned into a great series of movies about globetrotting street racer super-thieves, sure. But it has a unique power that’s a combination of a great/goofy premise, a script with a ton of funny dialogue, excellent sequences directed by the great Kathryn Bigelow at the top of her action game, incredible skydiving stunts and photography, a maybe-not-knowingly-funny performance by Keanu Reeves as surfer dude cop Johnny Utah, and most of all a towering performance of charisma and sincerity by Patrick Swayze, who (like Vin Diesel in THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, actually) seems to truly, deeply believe the philosophy his character spews. (read the rest of this shit…)
DELIVER US FROM EVIL takes place in a horror movie Bronx. It’s all gloomy cinematography of wet streets at night, filthy, decrepit apartments, an ancient Latin invocation carved into walls or flesh. A malevolent demon monster or whatever is spookifying the place, so wherever our hero goes the power cuts out or the light bulbs burn out or they flicker like a strobelight (sometimes for an entire knife fight scene).
Also I think the filmatists are trying to play off of our primal fear of animals, so the Iraq War prologue features tarantulas, a snake and a bat. Another early scene involves a zoo with the animals loose (and lights out, of course) and the heroes get chased by a bunch of lions. Later a major piece of evidence is a security camera tape of a dude talking to a lion. And you got your usual cat scares like in all movies and also a crucified kitten and if you saw the trailer you’ll remember the scene of the hero’s daughter in bed at night getting spooked by her weird hooting owl doll. Sadly that James-Wan-esque scene climaxes with a jack-in-the-box with blood on its face. The ol’ evil clown standby. Boo.
Patrolling this world we have macho NYPD Sergeant Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana). He was raised Catholic, sure, but doesn’t believe in all that mumbo jumbo, etc. He’s renowned by his colleagues for catching a child killer with the first draft name “Marvin the Molester” and punching his face to death. He works too much his wife is pregnant she never sees him when he is home it’s like he’s not even there she never knows if she’s gonna get that call in the middle of the night he missed his daughter’s birthday she cried herself to sleep, all that. But somehow every case he gets connects to this weird supernatural thing with a mysterious guy who walks around acting scary with his Darth Maul hoodie up at all times even though he’s never in the numerous scenes where it’s pouring rain.
Sarchie also has a wiseass partner with seven deadly sins themed tattoos who carries two big knives that he uses to fight suspects instead of guns which in my opinion is not regulation. He’s played by Joel McHale from Community and the local Seattle sketch show that Bill Nye the Science Guy started on, Almost Live!. I know from an interview with director/co-writer Scott Derrickson that McHale has been his best friend for years and supposedly this character is more like the real him than anything he’s ever played. Apparently he really is obsessed with knives and maybe even wears a backwards baseball hat and sleeveless shirts all the time. Still, I had a hard time accepting the funny asshole guy from TV as this David Ayer type character, even when he tried to do an accent.
Okay, we were all horses pulling the Kathryn Bigelow bandwagon, right? We loved her for POINT BREAK and NEAR DARK, mostly. Also BLUE STEEL and STRANGE DAYS and all that. But did any of us ever predict Respectable Kathryn Bigelow would come about, and if so, did we guess how fuckin good that Bigelow would turn out to be? I sure didn’t.
The respect came for THE HURT LOCKER in 2008. It got the Oscar for best picture and she got best director, the only woman to receive that honor so far. It also had one of those career-exploding performances, the one that launched Jeremy Renner, at the time known mainly for playing Jeffrey Dahmer, into the guy who has two Oscar nominations and co-starred in big ass movies like THE AVENGERS and GHOST PROTOCOL and starred in THE BOURNE LEGACY and hosted Saturday Night Live and all this. I loved THE HURT LOCKER, which I saw as an ingeniously structured suspense thriller and character drama for its time that also worked as a deconstruction of many of our favorite action movie tropes. So I had high expectations for ZERO DARK THIRTY, and somehow it exceeded them. (read the rest of this shit…)
10 years after the titans clashed, Zeus (Liam Neeson, NEXT OF KIN) and Hades (Ralph Fiennes, STRANGE DAYS) are about to feel their wrath. See, they’ve had their asshole dad Kronos imprisoned in the underworld forever, but with humans not praying to them they’re losing the power to contain him, and Ares (Edgar Ramirez) and some of their other kids are conspiring to set the old man free. And when he gets out he’s gonna get his revenge.
I should mention that Kronos is not a man, he’s a giant lava monster that makes the Kraken from part 1 look like a shrimp. So by “get his revenge” I basically just mean that he’s gonna walk around and stuff is gonna get destroyed. In fact Zeus and Hades don’t seem as bad now that I realize the type of family they grew up in. I’m sure even during peace time Kronos is constantly “getting revenge,” unless there is some sort of all-lava-monster community he can go to. If he’s expected to integrate with the mortals or even the Olympians there’s always gonna be a size and heat difference that’s gonna be problematic. (read the rest of this shit…)
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