Friday, October 29, 2010

TOP 5 - Memorable Movie Things That Go Boom

 As I was debating between which of the next series of manly movies to review, I decided I'll be posting a few of these Top 5 sorts of articles every once in a while to break the monotony. Without further ado, let's kick things off with the first of who knows how many. In honor of the things which make action movies as great as they are, here is an ode to those wonderful explosive shooting things that have brought us so much joy on the screen.

TOP 5 - Memorable Movie Things That Go Boom

# 5 - Pulse Rifle
Film: Aliens (1986) 
Who used it: Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley, Michael Biehn and others as Colonial Marines. 
Why it's worthy:  Most of the badass Colonial Marines in the fast-paced action sequel to Alien were packing the futuristic pulse rifle. In keeping with the gritty, realistic feel of the movies, the pulse rifle looks like a meaner, pimped out version of the assault rifles we see in movies today. What made it especially memorable was the cool sound it made as the characters blasted their way through hordes of aliens; the fact that it has a huge grenade launcher underneath can't hurt either. It wasn't awesome enough for Ripley though, since she attaches a grisly flamethrower to it with some duct tape in preparation for the grand finale battle with the ultrabitch alien Queen.

# 4 - Anton Chigurh's Shotgun 
Film: No Country For Old Men (2007)
Who used it: Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh.
Why it's worthy:  It's so simple and unassuming, yet still unnerving. Oh, and the fact that one of the most ruthless murdering pyschopaths ever to grace the screen wields it also helps. In the Coen brothers' bleak chase movie, Anton Chigurh sports a terrible haircut and a shotgun with a silencer and goes around Texas wreaking mayhem all over. His gunfight with Josh Brolin's character is one of the most exciting moments in the film - you can't hear the assassin's shots until they smash into the ground near Brolin's feet or they hit flesh. Menacing.

# 3 - M202 Rocket Launcher
Films: Commando (1985)
Who used it: Arnold Schwarzenegger as John Matrix.
Why it's worthy:  When Arnold did a movie in the 80s about an ex-special forces soldier destroying a small Latin American country in order to get his little daughter back, he couldn't just use a pansy ass bazooka. It had to be as brash and as extravagant as possible. It also had to be as heavy as a Honda Civic, so that Arnold's arms could be flexed throughout the scene. No, sir... Arnold got the best - in Commando he ends up sending many mustached thugs to their fiery doom with a four shot rocket launcher he apparently copped at a local neighborhood gun store. I love the 80s.

# 2 - .44 Magnum
Films: Dirty Harry (1971), Magnum Force (1973), The Enforcer (1976) and Sudden Impact (1983)
Who used it: Clint Eastwood as Inspector Harry Callahan
Why it's worthy:  Look at the damn thing. Just the sight of that enormous cannon-like barrel should be enough to make any grown man shit his pants. The script for Dirty Harry decided that Eastwood's gun had to be the most fearsome, man-perforating device available, so it opted for the Smith & Wesson 29 revolver. Memorable? You damn right. Dirty Harry doesn't mess around. Whether shooting bank robbers or hostage takers or serial killers with bad haircuts and ridiculous names like Scorpio, he needs a handgun that can take down elephants in single shots... "Go ahead, make my day."

# 1 - Minigun 
Films: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and Predator (1987)
Who used it: Arnold Schwarzenegger as the T-800 and Jesse Ventura as Blain Cooper
Why it's worthy: It's huge. It's got six barrels. It shoots more than 100 bullets per second. And the guy carrying it has to be a bodybuilder and take serious amounts of horse steroids to even lift it. In all of movie history, it is hard to find any gun as weapon that can rival the badass factor of the Minigun. The scene in Terminator 2 when Ahhhnuld opens up on the cops outside the Cyberdine building is just amazing. In Predator, the gun is used to cut down a huge swath of lush rainforest with a hail of bullets as the soldiers try to hit the invisible Predator. Never has overkill been captured so well on the screen - it's glorious.

Monday, October 25, 2010

ONG BAK (2003) - Ass Kicking for Dummies

When most people think of Thailand, they inevitably think of two things: Thai food and people getting their ass kicked. And they'd be right.

...and in the process, punch half the country in the face.

Ong Bak begins in a little village in rural Thailand. The villagers are pretty fond of a big Buddha statue named Ong-Bak that supposedly brings them good luck, and when some rich folks (those damn rich folk, never up to any good) drop by and try to buy the statue, they're refused. A few nights later, some dastardly ruffians break into the shrine where the Buddha is kept and cut off its head and steal it. When the villagers wake up to find the statue's head chopped off, they are enraged and start preparing for bad luck which is sure to follow. It's up to Ting, the local martial arts expert and general all-around badass, to recover the statue. The village rounds up some cash and sends him on his way to Bangkok to get the statue's head back.

The world's slowest, yet most exciting, tuk tuk chase.
Ting is played by Tony Jaa, who was a virtual unknown before Ong Bak became a huge hit worldwide. The dude is a killing machine - according to the trustworthy source that is Wikipedia, he used to copy Bruce Lee's moves as a kid and he also did somersaults off his dad's elephants. Somersaults off of elephants. After starring in a few more movies, he's apparently called it quits on acting and decided to become a real life Buddhist monk. He's obviously the real deal. Jaa does some wack stuff in the movie - he's incredibly buff and flexible, and did all of his own stunts without any wires or any computer generated crap.

Back to the story, Ting makes his way to Bangkok and runs into his hustler cousin Humlae and his girl sidekick Muay. Humlae and Muay basically run around Bangkok scamming people at casinos, street races, and fights. Ting gets their help to try and locate the head of the statue, and in the meantime gets dragged into some underground fights where he makes money for the group.

Tony Jaa would like to kick your ass.
Ong Bak is a refreshing take on the martial arts movies that used to be churned out by the hundreds in the 70s and 80s. The fights are really intense and Jaa is a straight up weapon: he knees people in the face, punches them in the face, round house kicks them in the face, smashes tables on people's faces, hits guys in the face with refrigerators, etc. If it's got a face, Tony Jaa can and will find a way to hurt it. Being a foreign film, it's got a few quirks. Maybe it's just me, but some of the Thai dialogue sounds hilarious to my decadent, evil Westerner ears. Even worse is when some of the characters say things in broken, heavily accented English. It's all in good fun though, since chances are you'll be watching Ong Bak for the action scenes and the crazy stunts and not for some world class acting and delivery.


TL;DR - Tony Jaa destroys most of Thailand while trying to get back a statue for his village - 8.5/10

Thursday, October 21, 2010

TREMORS (1990) - Rednecks fight giant worms.... success!!!

When I was a kid, my family moved to Europe for a few years, and growing up as a twelve year old in the U.S. you get take awesome stuff for granted, like being able to plug in your Sega Genesis without it blowing up in your face or being able to speak English with everyone around. Living in a tiny apartment in Europe mostly sucked, since there was no room to run around playing cool games like cops and robbers and even worse, European TV sucks major ass. As in, it's godddamn awful. To make things even worse, one day while out jumpan, exploran and having adventures, I jumped off a 10-foot wall and sprained the hell out of my ankle. So I was stuck at home, with nothing to do but enjoy the misery that is European television.

Thankfully, this was the golden 90s, when you could count on Uncle Sam exporting the best of our low-budget cult films out to the needy Old Continent, and I was able to experience the greatness of Tremors for the first time. Sitting there with my swollen foot wrapped in a cast, I kicked back and started watching this curious movie about some hick town in the middle of nowhere that is attacked by giant, mutated earthworm aliens. As a 12 year old, there is nothing better than seeing rednecks being eaten by monsters and seeing an Oscar-worthy (I'm lying) performance by Kevin Bacon wearing a cowboy hat.

The first ingredient for any summer blockbuster: Kevin Bacon.
Tremors introduces us to two down on their luck handymen, Valentine (Kevin Bacon) and Earl, played by the always badass Fred Ward, as they get ready to leave the craphole country town they call home in search of better jobs. On the way to work, they run into a college seismologist that Val gets the hots for. She tells them that there's been some weird seismic activity, and they head back into town, where we meet the rest of the small cast: a Mexican dude, an Asian dude, some lady with two annoying kids, and a crazy gun-addicted survivalist couple, Burt and Heather, and played by Michael Gross and Reba McEntire.

You can never have too many guns in a B-movie.
Soon enough, the town is attacked by graboids, some giant earthworm things that can magically move underground as fast as a running human. The graboids don't have any eyes (duh) - instead they can home in on sound and chase footsteps. They're about as big as car and have some snake-ish tongue things that come out of their mouth and grab tasty redneck prey. It's ultimately up to the bumbling Val and Earl to save the townfolk from getting eaten. Thankfully though, the two gun crazy wackos have enough machine guns to overthrow a small Latin American democracy. They also know how to make explosives out of household items apparently, but seeing as how they're batshit crazy to begin with, it's not surprising. Most of the rest of the cast is just around so they can be eaten in various hilarious ways, and the killer worms are actually pretty damn smart and keep changing things up.

Giant earthworms. Giant earthworms everywhere.
Tremors is a shitty B-movie of the best kind. It's fun as hell to watch - the acting is not that bad and the action scenes are pretty believable. About as believable as being attacked by giant alien worms can be, but anyways. Val and Earl have most of the best lines and their banter back and forth is bound to get a few chuckles. If you're looking for a serious, thoughtful movie, this ain't it - it's no Memento. Otherwise, it's 96 minutes of hilarious B-movie goodness.

TL;DR - killer worms eat people in a small town and Kevin Bacon wears a cool hat - 8/10

Monday, October 18, 2010


Hollywood is a very strange place. You can be a very talented actor and get terrible roles for the rest of your miserable career. It might also be the case that because you've got the hookups, you might happen to be a shit-tastic actor and get a wealth of great roles in which you miserably fail, yet you watch the money pile up. Or, you can be Jonah Hill, be fat, have a very attractive triple chin complete with mangy neckbeard, and play the same character in every movie you're in because... well, you're the fat kid from Superbad. Everybody loved Superbad.

Get Him to the Greek is not a movie that I had high expectations for. In fact, I mostly can't stand the fatness that is Jonah Hill. Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against fat actors. One of my favorite fatties of all time was the great Chris Farley. But something rubs me the wrong way about Hill. Shit, I prefer watching movies with Seth Rogen. At least his movies make you chuckle.

Aldous Snow's face on seeing Jonah Hill's bearded triple chin.
Russell Brand reprises his role as the drugged out, sex-crazed British rocker Aldous Snow that he played in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Since he mostly just acts as himself, it's pretty funny and most of the quotable lines in the movie come from him. The story has Snow facing the end of his career after releasing a turd of a song "African Child" which is panned by everyone. Diddy's record company sends Jonah Hill's forgettable character out to bring Aldous back to America for a 10th anniversary concert, and hilarity is supposed to ensue. Of course, what follows is crude but not actually funny jokes, and the movie just tries too damn hard to be oh so funny. 

The funniest part of the movie is when Aldous and McFatty are sitting around in Vegas getting high and drinking. They offer Hill's character a "Jeffrey" joint, with meth, opium, and a ton of other shit in it, and he starts tripping out. Diddy shows up and starts a fight with Aldous Snow's father, and everyone takes turns rubbing their hands on a soft, plush wall.

More Diddy, less Jonah Hill. Diddy on drugs was pretty hilarious.
To make a long story short, Jonah Hill is confirmed for hack status. He can't carry a movie to save his soul since Superbad and the only thing that saved this flick from being a total snoozefest was Diddy mad tripping on drugs and Russell Brand mad tripping on drugs.

TL;DR - Diddy makes funny faces and black jokes and Jonah Hill is fat on screen (again) - 6/10

Thursday, October 14, 2010

ARMAGEDDON (1998) - Bruce Willis fights an asteroid

Michael Bay is a guy that gets a lot of crap for making big, dumb action movies with an explosion lighting up the screen every five seconds on average and retarded dialogue. He also makes some of the biggest blockbusters and is probably bathing in an Olympic sized swimming pool full of Aztec gold and Canadian dollars at this very moment. This is the guy that gave this undeserving world guy classics like Bad Boys, The Rock, and Transformers. All of them are fun, quotable movies that improve greatly in quality after the downing of a few beers. His movies might be shit-tier, but when unless your friends are hipster, pretentious assholes, when you and your buds decide to grab a couple brews and watch a movie, chances are it'll be something like the stuff Michael Bay pumps out instead of Schindler's List.

The French Revolution: Revenge of the Downtrodden, opening Summer 2011.
Armageddon is in essence a disaster flick, but one which like most Bay movies has a good amount of comedy thrown into the mix, and a lot, and I mean, a whole-fucking-lot of sappy, sentimental scenes. The film opens with a pretty cool scene of New York getting bombarded by car-sized asteroids blowing shit up and scaring people. Then, in dramatic Michael Bay fashion, we hear a pulsating, synth soundtrack which leads into a scene featuring some NASA big wig played by Billy Bob Thornton trying his best to look geeky and cool at the same time. We find out that our beautiful planet Earth is going to be hit by a bluish-green asteroid from hell the size of Texas. It's going to hit the Earth in a few weeks and everyone is going to die. Since this movie is set in the 1990s, there is no John Cusack to save us as in 2012, because, well, John Cusack was still making mostly shitty comedies and chick flicks.

Bruce Willis as an astronaut displaying his great dramatic face.
Then Billy Bob's science team decides the only way to save Earth is to fly a Space Shuttle out to it, land some astronauts, drill an 800-foot deep tunnel and throw a nuclear bomb down the hole. But Armageddon being a manly movie, could not just have some dainty nerd astronauts with pocket protectors and masters degrees in thermodynamics. Hell no. It turns out that only a team of oil drilling expert rednecks led by Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis)  has what it takes to operate the complicated machinery. Errr.... okay. His team is composed by a bunch of goofy characters, which in true Bay fashion are mostly there to be killed off in cool ways or to spout off one liners at a rate of about one a minute.

Speaking of goofy, there's a very decent cast. Steve Buscemi plays a genius who is horny most of the time, Owen Wilson plays himself as he does in every movie, Michael Clarke Duncan plays the cool black guy, and Ben Affleck plays A.J., the rebellious young kid who is trying to get in the pants of Harry's daughter. You see, Harry's daughter is Liv Tyler, so can we really blame the guy?

Our misfit heroes go to NASA and basically don't do jack shit during their training, but still get sent up to the asteroid. Things begin to take a turn for the worse when one of the Space Shuttles gets blown up approaching the asteroid, and the world is left wondering if the inbred oil miners are still alive and whether they should maybe just abandon hope, light up a last smoke and watch the fireworks. Speaking of fireworks, Michael Bay must have a paranoid fear of his audience falling asleep during his movies, so he has a piece of the asteroid fall off and smash into Paris. I won't lie, it was pretty damn awesome seeing that flaming rock troll France like that.

Michael Bay hates the French.
I won't give away the ending, just in case the one person left in the world who hasn't seen this movie yet were to read my blog by chance, but as you can imagine, it's sappy and you can spot the plot twist a mile away. Armageddon is tons of fun though. It's stupid as hell but ultimately entertaining. There's few things better than watching Steve Buscemi go full retard in space and shoot up things with a gatling gun or watching Peter Stormare as the crazy Russian cosmonaut stuck in a space station for 18 months. Armageddon is pretty quotable, and it doesn't take itself seriously like most other disaster movies.

TL;DR - Die Hard in space, but the bad guy is an asteroid and rednecks save the day - 7.5/10

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

FACE/OFF (1997) - A 100% medically accurate movie

Once upon a time there was an actor named John Travolta. Before he turned into a fat-faced Scientologist and dressed up as an equally fat woman and sang songs about racial harmony in Hairspray, he had a pretty decent rep as an action star. Thanks to a certain director by the name of John Woo, Travolta got a few good manly roles in flicks like Broken Arrow and Face/Off. This latter movie is in fact Woo's best American movie and to this reviewer, one of the top action films of the 90s.

Travolta in 1997 and Travolta in 2007. No words can suffice. No words.
As is the case with most action movies made during the glorious decade of action movies that was the 1990s, the plot is basically absurd and only serves to set up interesting set pieces. Sean Archer (John Travolta) is a top-notch FBI agent specializing in anti-terrorism and with a personal vendetta against the criminal who shot his bowl haircut wearing son. This terrorist mastermind is none other than Castor Troy, played by Nicolas Cage in one of his most spastic, coked out performances to date. A few years after Castor kills the kid, he is up to no good again the city of Los Angeles, setting up bombs with his brother Pollux. After running into Archer and his team of FBI honchos, they get involved in a chase and firefight (with lots of John Woo slow-motion shots of two handed pistol shooting) at an L.A. airport which ultimately ends up with Castor and Pollux in jail.

The highlight of the airport scene: Nic Cage telling the pilot to "fly bitch!"
But of course, Castor being the criminal genius he is has already planted a huge bomb somewhere in Los Angeles, and he isn't about to give up the location. So Travolta's character has to do the only logical thing, which is to break all of his fingers until he gives up the bomb. Right? Wait, no. Instead he does the second most logical thing, which is to submit himself to an experimental medical procedure to cut off his face and replace it with Castor's face and then infiltrate Castor's criminal crew to disarm the bomb. You following? Of course, there is ZERO potential for things to go wrong here, since agent Archer is promised there is no way the criminal mastermind can escape custody.

If you're in a John Woo movie, you will eventually end up in a standoff. FACT.
In the next scenes, Castor escapes, and sets up the rest of the movie with Travolta and Cage exchanging roles, which makes for some interesting viewing. It is a bit of a shame we don't get to see Cage as the bad guy throughout the movie, since his Castor Troy is wonderfully deranged and just has a certain vibe to him that Travolta can't match. Which is not to say that our favorite Scientologist isn't up to the task. Travolta as Castor works pretty well, and is in any case much more believable than as the do-gooder family man FBI agent.

The acting is pretty over the top from both actors, which aren't really known for their subtlety anyways. Being a John Woo, the action is pretty slick and there's a good number of exciting shootouts and chases. Woo has a well known fetish for slow motion which gets pretty annoying at times, but it works well in Face/Off and just goes to add to the cheese factor which is already pretty high if you hadn't noticed.

The best hair in Hollywood without a doubt.
John Woo has been a director with a somewhat patchy record in America. For every good movie he makes, there are also serious crapfests like Windtalkers and Hard Target. Still, this flick is one of his best and it's no surprise that it is thanks to some batshit crazy performances out of his two leads.

TL;DR - Nicolas Cage shoots a kid, does drugs, gets his face removed and fights Danny Zuko - 8/10

Sunday, October 10, 2010

RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE (2010) - Only slightly better than a toothache

Every once in a while, you see something during the course of your average day that makes you feel terribly sorry for what you just witnessed. I got this feeling during the first five minutes of the latest crapfest unleashed to this undeserving world by Paul W.S. Anderson. What did we humans as a species do to deserve movies of such assfactor? What genocide did we skip over that we are now paying for? Which cute, cuddly, endangered species did we mercilessly throw into the wood chipper of extinction?

Let's see how much cash we can get out of having Milla scowl a lot.
It's no secret that Milla Jovovich is a gorgeous woman. There's no denying it and if you are a man, and you think otherwise, you obviously have a problem acknowledging the fact that you are a flaming homo. She is also a decent actress to boot, so it makes it all the more sadder to see that she is stuck with terrible, shitty movies like the Resident Evil franchise. As a series, it has been consistently awful, with things going downhill after the first movie, which was only passable. If there was ever a great candidate for film euthanasia, this is it. The Resident Evil games back in the glory days of Playstation were damn scary, thrilling, and fun as hell to play. It's a damn shame that such a cool series of games got shafted so badly but that's the truth and there's no hiding from it. 

Afterlife takes place sometime after the events of the previous film Extinction, which altogether means nothing since the story makes little sense anyways. The movie opens with one of the few decent scenes in the entire flick, with Alice (Milla Jovovich, as if you didn't know) and a bunch of her clones attack an Umbrella Corporation underground base. They break in after killing a metrick f*ckton of guards and chase after a douchebag wearing sunglasses even though he is a good twenty floors underground and it is nighttime. Because... he's baaaad, get it? Anyways, Alice has some superpowers, kills a lot of Japanese guys, then the baddie runs away in a snazzy tilt-rotor plane. Alice sneaks aboard, fights said bad guy, and gets her superpowers taken away from her. Immediately after this, the plane crashes into a mountain and Alice goes on to survive a MOTHERF*CKING PLANE CRASH without a single scratch. So much for no powers, right? Alice then has a jolly good time exploring the mostly dead planet Earth in search of survivors and of course, running into tons of vicious zombies.

The dude with the giant ax was pretty rad, I'll admit.
I had a hard time accepting just how bad this movie is. I tried to like it, I really did, and here's my reasoning. Zombie movies are a staple of the guy movie diet, right below destroying third world countries and white guys learning Asian martial arts, so it's painful to see zombie movies done badly. Afterlife just plain sucks, and it's blatantly obvious that this latest installment was just trying to milk as much cash as they could out of the gullible dumbasses who paid the $20 or so to watch this in 3D. The plot makes no sense whatsoever, and neither do most of the characters. There's about twenty different English accents used, for no apparent reason. Most of the action scenes are pointless and filled with gimmicky 3D objects flying towards you. Every ten seconds or so, the action turns into slow-motion - it's tired, cliched and just boring. I'm sorry, but even a guy movie has to be watchable.

I wear shades 24/7. Can you tell I am a bad man? CAN YOU?!?
TL;DR - You might as well spray yourself in the eyes with vinegar and then put on 3D glasses - 1.5/10

Saturday, October 9, 2010

THE THING (1982) - Because not all remakes have to suck

Director John Carpenter knows a thing or two (damn, I'm clever as hell) about making classic cult movies, and his 1982 remake of 1951's The Thing from Another World is one of the coolest, most enthralling horror movies ever put to celluloid. The story is set in an Antarctic research base, where a team of American scientists are getting ready for the coming winter, when they get an unexpected visit from a few crazed Norwegians hell bent on killing a poor dog. Little did they know, the dog is in fact a shape-shifting killing machine which has already wiped out most of the Norwegian camp and is getting warmed up for some more nefarious murderin'.

Sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome I am.
R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) takes charge of things as events take a turn for the worse and one by one the alien starts to do some nasty, violent things to most of those unlucky enough to be stuck on the base for the winter. In all, a dozen or so of the scientists have to come to terms with the fact that "the thing" is in fact a murdering space freak than can imitate anything it kills in perfect fashion. This creates some fantastic tension within the group since any number of the scientists could in fact be infected by the alien and the man standing next to him would have no clue about it. The group begins to crack under the pressure and there's a delicious sense of mistrust and fear that creeps in, and we realize that the humans might in fact be even more dangerous than the disgusting alien. The tension is constantly growing and never lets up; characters that  you are sure are humans might not be, and there is a constant sense of dread whenever you hear that great ominous score beginning to pound away.

He might be infected. Let's light him on fire with a flamethrower to be sure.
Speaking of the alien, goddamn is that thing nasty. Back in the 80s, when computer graphics were in their infancy most movies relied on great practical effects to make the outlandish seem possible. The Thing has some of the best effects of the time, and the alien itself is just badass. The thing morphs into any number of weird, grotesque forms, and dispatches the scientists one by one in some pretty grisly ways. I can safely say that if you're seeing The Thing for the first time, you might gag at first sight of the alien. Tentacles, pus, blood squirting everywhere, deformed heads, eyeballs popping out, veins exploding, skin turned inside out, you name it. Shit gets straight up nasty, son.

Dinner and a movie might not be a good idea with The Thing. I'm just sayin'...
That's part of the great tension behind the film. The alien has no stupid powers beyond replicating whatever it is that it kills. It doesn't shoot lasers out of its nipples, or spray nerve gas out of its wrists like the dumbshit aliens in Signs. Nope, it just comes up real close and rips your head off or bites your arms off at the elbow with gigantic teeth. The humans have to use flamethrowers, shotguns and dynamite to try and kill off the various bodies the thing takes over. If you have an aversion to seeing people lit on fire, don't watch The Thing. It happens a lot.

The Thing is a classic horror flick and I've lost count of how many times I've seen it. It gets better with repeat viewings and if you've never seen it, you ought to remedy that right quick.

tl;dr - Kurt Russell and friends attacked by shape-shifting disgusting alien with bloody results - 9/10

STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997) - Doogie Howser, Space Nazis, Aliens...and Satire?

I'll start out this review by just putting it out there that Starship Troopers is one of my favorite movies of all time. The first time I saw it I was just a kid and took it to be another dumb action movie with explosions, a crapload of gunfire, and people getting sliced in half by giant spider aliens. The great thing about this movie is that it can be several different things at once. It's a decent, campy action flick with some great moments and a few memorable scenes and characters, despite the bland acting and over the top cheese factor. It's also good at being pretty faithful to the satirical tone of Robert A. Heinlein's original novel as a commentary on the nature of war, fascism and its effect on society (LOL who cares amirite?). As sci-fi, it ain't too shabby, and while it won't be knocking Blade Runner off anybody's top ten lists, it is a lot better than the direct to video crap that you see crowding Blockbuster shelves.

Rico and his wimmenz. I'll take the one on the right, thanks.
Paul Verhoeven's film deviates a bit from the book, but the basic plot is easy enough to follow. We are introduced to the college age protagonists: the popular, athletic but not too bright Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien in his single memorable role... ever), his somewhat annoying girlfriend Carmen (Denise Richards), the obligatory computer nerd Carl (Neil Patrick Harris) and Dizzy Flores (Dina Meyer looking bomb) who has a thing for Rico yet no one else in the damn film sees it. Despite the fact that most of the cast is made of crap tier actors, it doesn't really make any difference since the characters are as one dimensional as they come.

The sooner you get em killing things, the better. Verhoeven is the man.
 Rico and gang are just finishing up school and they decide to join up for national service. They each go their separate ways onto fulfilling careers. Oh wait... there's also an inter-species war between humans and giant 12-feet tall alien spiders that can send asteroids to smash into earth. The fascist yet adored human government declares war on the Arachnids, and shit proceeds to get real. Rico and Diz end up joining the Mobile Infantry as grunts, while Carmen becomes a pilot and falls in love with some irrelevant douchebag named Zander or some shit. Carl becomes a psychic and can talk to ferrets. This is the stuff great plots are made out of, obviously.

In the future, no one gives a damn if you have a knife stuck in your hand. DEAL WITH IT.
Once the boring stuff like character back story and development is out of the way, things begin to take a turn for the better. Rico and his fellow space Nazis go toe to toe with thousands of the giant spider looking things as humankind sets out to show those inferior insects who's the boss, and a general shitstorm of epic proportions is unleashed. Humans get dismembered in very inventive ways, the alien planets get raped by waves of nuclear bombs, giant space ships are shot down by green fireballs shot out of a giant bug's ass, etc.

There's a few things that ticked me off about the flick. Obviously it is not a movie meant to be taken seriously, I understand that. But honestly, how believable is it that future humans can travel faster than light, and have space stations built around moons, but the Mobile Infantry fight like a bunch of idiots running around spraying bullets from the hip? Why do they need to send in soldiers at all instead of just nuking the place from orbit? My theory is that it was done so that the audience gets to enjoy seeing the always awesome Michael Ironside blasting away at the arachnids as he yells out one-liners.

Service guarantees citizenship dawg!
Paul Verhoeven being the cool cat that he is, packs the movie with loads of unnecessary gore, some nifty CGI, plenty of nudity, and heaps upon heaps of violence, which combine into the fun-filled goodness that is Starship Troopers. Could you expect anything less from the man who gave us great guy movie classics like Total Recall or Robocop? Some people I know take offense with this movie thinking it glorifies fascism and militarism,  while some can appreciate the underlying satire, and some see it as just a shitty piece of film-making. I see it for what it is in terms of being a thoroughly enjoyable two hours of action, hilarity and gruesome fun. This is a B-movie that knows from the start that it's getting a pass and an A-movie budget, and makes no attempts to transcend that.

A word of warning: DO NOT WATCH THE SEQUELS. Never. Not even if you're drunk. For god's sake they are terrible. If you don't want to ruin the memory of the epicness that is this movie, do not watch those abominations. If you're tempted at all, cut your hand off. Trust.

tl;dr: in the future fascist humans fight giant spiders and it makes for great viewing - 8.5/10

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

PIRANHA (2010) - aka: Blood and Boobs 3D

What is there to be said about the best summer movie to be released in a long while? Piranha is one and a half hours of absolutely ridiculous and hilarious bad acting, violence, gore and and hot babes. It is the furthest thing possible from a pretentious, artsy serious film. It is a fun, stupid movie that knows exactly what it is that makes people laugh and have a good time in front of the tube.
I'd let piranhas attack me if it meant Elizabeth Shue would patch me up...
Like most slasher movies, Piranha doesn't really give a damn about having a coherent, believable plot. The film focuses on the tourist hot spot of Lake Victoria, Arizona as hundreds of drunk, obnoxious frat guys wearing Tapout shirts and spray on tanner and assorted skanks drop by to get wasted (and eventually killed in grotesque fashion) during Spring Break. What these douchebags don't know is that because of an earthquke, a subterranean lake filled with thousands of  prehistoric man-eating piranhas is discovered and opened up, releasing the mean little bastards. After being trapped for a million years, you bet your ass they're mean as hell and want to wreck your shit. Elizabeth Shue plays the local, single mom sheriff who eventually has to deal with the problem of people getting their asses and faces eaten off on the lake front, as well as having to take care of her sissy teenage son Jake. See Jake is a total loser, since he always misses out on Spring Break because he's babysitting his younger brother and sister, while everyone else is out drinking Bud Lights and mackin' on hos at the beach.
Kelly Brook in a movie about killer fish eating mostly naked people. A must watch.
Since he's totally friend-zoned with the chick he digs, he conveniently runs into Kelly Brook's character Danni, who has absolutely no role in the plot other than looking bomb in a bikini while some sleazy dude films her and other girls for some Girls Gone Wild video. She has a five minute scene which can only be described as a naked, underwater opera (in 3D) in which she swims around with some other bimbo while music plays, which is probably why Piranha made $68 million at the box office. If you were making a movie, you'd probably find a way to have Kelly Brook wearing skimpy clothing in most scenes as well. Jake ends up tagging along with the sleazy director and his babes on a boat, which predictably starts to sink near the middle of the movie. OMFG BIG SURPRISE, GUISE. Christopher Lloyd is also in this, which is pretty awesome seeing as how he hasn't been in too many movies in a while, but sadly he's only got a few scenes. Hopefully, we'll see more of him in any future sequels. The same goes for the always badass Ving Rhames (of Dawn of the Dead fame) who plays a sheriff alongside Shue and has the best scenes in the flick, killing piranhas with a shotgun or a boat engine.
Ving Rhames killing piranhas WITH A BOAT MOTOR.
When the piranhas finally start wrecking havoc, it's glorious. There's no other way to describe it. People get eaten in the most imaginative ways ever caught on film. You name it, it's bitten off by the fish. Some dude gets his manhood chewed up, a piranha has a chick's eyeball for lunch, a naked broad on a parachute gets her legs ripped off, and some poor schmuck gets his whole face nibbled away. Some of it is pretty damn gruesome, but it's no worse than you'd see in your typical horror movie, and to top it off, most of it is done in a funny fashion. You can't help but laugh as Eli Roth's character, who spends one of his two scenes screaming "boobs!", "tits!", or "tittays!" at the top of his lungs, gets his head chopped off by a some Jersey Shore-looking bro in a motorboat.

The main problem with Piranha is that it ends too damn fast. I was left wanting to see more of the frenzied destruction, and more Abercrombie-wearing bros getting eaten alive. More Ving Rhames. More Kelly Brook (not that it's lacking in this department). Hopefully there will be a decent sequel with more of the same.

tl;dr: killer fish, boobs, and bros getting eaten. it's hilarious - 9/10