Monday, June 22, 2015

Grumpy Bulldog's Watchathon

I can't remember the last time I did a bunch of mini-reviews of movies.  It must have been a couple of months ago at least.  So here's some more stuff I've watched.  Some good, some bad, and some meh.  Please find something better to say than "you watch a lot of movies."  I mean there are probably 50 on here by now so you must have a comment about one of them.

Ex Machina:  I saw this in a theater in Louisville with my brother and his wife.  It was really good if you like a smaller, slower kind of movie.  The pacing reminded me of the remake of Solaris.  In this case some Richie Cunningham looking guy is invited to the bunker/mansion of a billionaire software guru who reveals he has built an android with artificial intelligence.  But there's a lot more going on than meets the eye.  The end was just brilliant with a really great twist.  It's not playing in a lot of theaters (especially by now) so be sure to check it out on Redbox/digital download. (4/5)

Chappie:  After the failure of Elysium, Neill Blomkamp goes back to the formula that worked in District 9 only instead of aliens in South Africa, it's robots.  In the near future the Johannesburg police have replaced most humans with "Scout" droids.  A scientist for the company making them starts tinkering with AI and ends up testing it out in a junk unit.  But when he's kidnapped by some crooks the robot called Chappie is left with them.  Chappie is basically a child learning to see the world and obviously criminals are not the best teachers.  Meanwhile a mulleted Hugh Jackman sabotages the Scouts so he can get support for his ED-209 program.  Some aspects of the plot are a little silly, but overall I liked it.  Basically it's like Ex Machina only with a lot more action, which would probably be preferable to a lot of moviegoers.  With the involvement of robots in all his movies, it seems like Neill Blomkamp is the guy they should get to replace Michael Bay for Transformers, but that's probably too obvious. (3.5/5)

Interstellar:  Most of this movie felt emotionally flat and I had a hard time suspending disbelief that some helpful aliens had told humans how to build a starship and space station and whatnot.  Though then at the end it's explained how that stuff happens.  The movie owes a big debt to Arthur C. Clarke, especially the end that first invokes 2001 and then 3001.  It wasn't the best Christopher Nolan movie but I liked it more than Inception.  Jessica Chastain's presence helps a little with that. (3/5)

Tak3n:  After killing half the population of Istanbul in the last movie, Liam Neeson has a staycation to kill a whole lot of Russians.  The Russians thanks to Neeson's ex-wife's husband frame him for the murder of the ex-wife, so he has to go on the run, which is helped that he used to be a secret agent of some sort and thus has access to hidden escape routes and a cool safehouse and stuff.  Anyway, this was better than the second one, which isn't saying much, mostly because they actually threw in a few plot twists this time.  This beefs the running time up by 20 minutes or so (depending if you watch the rated or unrated version--I watched unrated) and makes for a little more satisfying conclusion to another needless trilogy. (2.5/5)

Run All Night:  If you've already seen Road to Perdition then you've already seen this movie.  Seriously this is almost the same movie, except in modern-day New York instead of the early 30s Midwest.  There's a hit man (Liam Neeson instead of Tom Hanks) for an Irish mob boss (Ed Harris instead of the late Paul Newman) and the hit man's son sees the mob boss's son kill someone and so the mob boss sends goons to kill the hit man's son so the hit man has to take on the whole mob (and his boss) to save his son.  In this case the son is an adult, but still.  The mob boss even hires an assassin (Common instead of Jude Law) whose face gets messed up and there's a final shootout at a house by a lake.  It's like, jeez why'd I bother watching this when I already own Road to Perdition? (2/5)

Inherent Vice:  I was interested in watching this because I usually like PT Anderson's movies and not just for the initials.  Though I didn't really like his last one, The Master that much.  And I didn't really like this one either.  Maybe he should stop putting Joaquin Phoenix in his movies.  Anyway, this starts out pretty interesting, but it just piles on all these characters and plots and red herrings that after a while you have to wonder what the hell any of it means.  I just started drifting off after a while.  I guess you should expect that from a movie adapted from a Thomas Pynchon book. (2/5)

Nightcrawler:  Jake Gyllenhaal is a petty thief who decides to take on a more lucrative career as a freelance crime scene videographer.  The interesting thing is the way he spouts all these MBA program cliches while he does it, as if it's a Fortune 500 company.  Gradually he decides to get more proactive, getting to crime scenes before the cops and even staging a confrontation between criminals and cops.  It's a little slow but it's probably Gyllenhaal's best work since Donnie Darko. (3/5)

Left Behind (2014):  I knew I wouldn't like this movie but I just wanted to see how lame it was.  In 2005 if you said a movie starred Nicolas Cage and Chad Michael Murray that would be a big deal but 10 years later they've fallen far enough to star in straight-to-Redbox religious trash like this.  I never watched the probably even worse Kirk Cameron version but this mostly features a plane Nic Cage is flying when the Rapture hits.  Pretty much all the kids are beamed up (because all kids are but otherwise it seems kind of random.  Why is an old man beamed up but not his senile wife?  Senile people are condemned to Hell?  The Rapture itself was pretty lame.  There's just a flash and people are gone, including Nic Cage's son whom his daughter is hugging and yet she for some reason spends half the movie looking for him.  Anyway, if you want to see an awesome Rapture there's a great "American Dad" episode that was far more entertaining. (1/5) 

Batman vs. Robin:  If you haven't read Batman comics in 10 years then pretty much all of this would seem new to you.  It's kind of a mash-up of Batman stories from perennial Tony Laplume favorite Grant Morrison and New 52 Batman scribe Scott Snyder.  Basically Batman had a kid with Ra's al Guhl's daughter and that kid becomes the new Robin, which was covered in a previous movie.  Now as Bruce Wayne gets set to unveil his Delta City, he's beset by "the Court of Owls" a society of rich people who sic undead henchmen called Talons on anyone who pisses them off.  (I wrote a couple of blog posts about this story arc in 2012.)  The main Talon tries to recruit Robin to turn against his daddy.  It's kind of awkward when Batman and Robin fight because really that's child abuse.  Call Social Services! I thought it was a decent mash-up of stories but for the casual viewer it might not make a lot of sense, though I think it's simplified enough to figure it out well enough. (3/5)

How to Train Your Dragon 2:  I never got around to watching this in theaters or on DVD even though I had liked the first one when I saw it on HBO.  Anyway, I remember being surprised when this didn't come in at #1 in theaters last year because kids movies (and a known property) usually do big business.  Maybe it's that this does have a darker tone, especially when the main character's dad dies.  But I thought it was really good.  My only complaint was the villain was really underdeveloped.  (3.5/5)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes:  I never watched the first reboot prequel thingy so I don't know if "Simian Flu" was mentioned in that but anyway, at the start of this the epidemic has destroyed all but pockets of humanity and allowed Caesar and his apes to hide in the northern California forests.  That is until some humans show up looking for a dam and it ignites a war between apes and humans.  Overall this was good, though I still kind of prefer the old apes from the 70s to these CGI ones.  Having recently watched Avengers 2, you can see a resemblance to Andy Serkis's face in Caesar's, so I guess that's some good motion captioning. (3/5)

This is Where I Leave You:  This is one of those movies I never got around to watching on DVD and then it came to HBO.  Anyway, a patriarch of a family dies and so all the kids get together and their mom forces them to spend a week together because of some Jewish ritual even though the guy wasn't Jewish.  The kids of course all have various problems with their marriages and relationships.  It's a well-made film with a great cast but I feel like I've watched this movie before.  Many times. (3/5)

The Judge:  Speaking of, this is largely the same movie, only with a murder trial instead of a seder.  Robert Duvall is the eponymous judge who has Iron Man and the Kingpin for sons, plus some third one no one cares about.  When Iron Man goes home for his mom's funeral, his dad hits a guy he had sentenced to jail a while back with his car.  So Iron Man stays in town to represent him in the trial.  During which time he also reconnects with his old girlfriend Vera Farmiga.  Again it's a decent movie with a lot of good actors but it feels like I've seen it before.  As with his Iron Man role, Robert Downey Jr is basically Robert Downey Jr if he became a lawyer instead of an actor; by that I mean he's a former screw-up sorta making good, which again is the same with Tony Stark.  One big quibble I have is that Iron Man is a lawyer in Chicago and his dad lives in a small Indiana town.  Yet to get there he takes a plane?  I mean to drive from Detroit to Chicago is only like 5 hours usually, so I can't imagine it taking more than 3 to get from Chicago to just about anywhere in Indiana.  Seems pointless to fly and rent a car.  Another quibble is in the end credits they have Willie Nelson sing Coldplay and it is just as fucking terrible as you would think it is. But otherwise it's a decent movie. (3/5)

Redbox Specials
Set Up:  This is one of those cheap straight-to-Redbox movies that used a reliable old plot.  Three guys heist some diamonds but one guy (Ryan Philippe) decides to betray his two partners and take the loot for himself.  But of course one guy (50 Cent) survives and goes after the guy.  Which might have been fine except for some reason they include an extraneous mob boss (Bruce Willis) whom 50 Cent inadvertently steals money from.  At that point the tone of the movie became campier too.  I'm not sure what the heck was supposed to be going on.  Interestingly Grand Rapids, MI played Detroit in this movie. (1/5)

The Prince:  I think this was made by pretty much the same people.  It also features Bruce Willis as a mob boss and 50 Cent as a bad guy called "The Pharmacy."  But the star of the movie is Jason Patric, who's the retired hitman who has to rescue his daughter like a homeless man's Taken only in Alabama-as-New-Orleans.  John Cusack cashes a paycheck as Jason Patric's buddy. It's serviceable, but not great.  (2/5)

Bag Man:  John Cusack cashes another paycheck as a hitman who's given an assignment by his boss (Robert deNiro):  he has to take a bag to a motel and not open it.  Except it's a trap!  All kinds of mayhem ensues at the motel.  Just to add to the cliches there's the requisite hooker with a heart of gold John Cusack befriends.  Again it's serviceable but not great. (2/5)

Kidnapping Mr. Heineken:  This is I guess a true story about four Dutch guys who decided to kidnap Freddy Heineken, the man behind the beer.  It was at the time the largest ransom ever paid.  Basically these four dopes were going to lose their business because some punks (like literally punk music fans) were squatting in a building they owned.  The geniuses then decided to forcibly remove the punks, which landed them in jail.  After which they rob an armored car to get seed money to stage the kidnapping.  But the problem with kidnappings is getting away with the money.  It was kind of boring and the end had too many title cards saying stuff that happened afterwards.  Not that I couldn't read them, but it's like maybe you could have put some of that stuff in the movie? (2/5)

Retreat:  An interracial couple (Cillian Murphy and Thandie Newton) go to a remote island where they find an ill British soldier (the new Thing) who claims there's a disease spreading around killing people.  So they barricade themselves in their house and it turns into Cape Fear or something. For some reason neither guy seemed to die very easily; you'd think they were dead and then they'd pop up again.  The end kind of makes me think of Night of the Living Dead.  Anyway, this didn't really hold my attention, which was maybe more my fault than the movie's. (2/5)

The Captive:  Ryan Reynolds is a lawnscaping contractor in Canada whose 9-year-old daughter goes missing.  It's confusing in the beginning as it jumps back-and-forth between the abduction to about 8 years later when the girl is still being held captive.  Overall it's slow and confusing and I had a hard time maintaining interest. (1/5)

Seattle Slew
For some reason in the mid-2000s there were a number of movies taking place in "Seattle," actually Vancouver.  Here are 4 I watched recently:

88 Minutes:  This is one of those forgotten (and forgettable) Al Pacino movies from the 2000s.  A while ago his testimony as a shrink got some dude put in prison.  The dude somehow is going to take revenge by killing Pacino in 88 minutes, which has something to do with his sister dying long ago.  Jim Gordon on Gotham plays the red herring and the killer isn't all that hard to guess. (2/5)

Firewall:  This is the movie where Harrison Ford wanted his family back!  This after they're taken hostage by the Vision.  Which there you go Disney, an idea for Star Wars 8:  the Vision kidnaps Han Solo's kids.  Anyway, the idea is they want Harrison Ford to get them access into a bank because he does something with computers.  It's OK but a little too long. (2.5/5)

Edison Force:  First off, the title makes it sound like a group that goes around changing light bulbs or something.  Anyway, it's a bad movie about bad cops.  It features not one but two music industry people with LL Cool J and Justin Timberlake.  Inexplicably Morgan Freeman is in it along with Kevin Spacey in a bad toupee. Basically there's some squad of evil cops and Justin Timberlake threatens to expose them so they try to kill him.  Mayhem ensues.  Everyone in this has been involved in better. (2/5)

Chaos:  This starts off like The Negotiator meets Spike Lee's Inside Man as some crooks are supposedly robbing a bank and will only talk to one guy:  Jason Statham, who is a Seattle cop suspended for shooting an innocent person.  (And because it was a white girl they couldn't just cover it up.)  Anyway, the crooks blow up the bank and escape in the...chaos.  So then Jason Statham and Ryan Philippe and a female cop whose only purpose seemed to be kissing and/or screwing all the male cops, go to find the guys.  It wasn't great but some twists at the end made it better.  Any good heist movie is made better when at the end a clueless cop is talking to the thief on the phone while the thief gets away.  Suck it, loser cops! (2.5/5)

Crank:  This is a patently silly action movie with a pretty silly premise:  Jason Statham is a hitman who's injected with a chemical that inhibits his adrenaline.  So unless he gets pumped up he will die.  He keeps pumped with a lot of running, firing guns, shooting up drugs, chugging energy drinks, and even fucking his girl in public.  It's the kind of movie that seems gleefully misogynistic, homophobic, and a bit racist too.  The real question I have now is how the hell they made a sequel after he fell out of a helicopter at a couple thousand feet onto the roof of a car and then bounced onto the pavement.  Did the guys from the 6 Million Dollar Man scrape him off the pavement?  We can rebuild him:  better, faster, stronger than he was! (2/5)

Baghead:  This film from the Duplass Brothers combines an indie dramedy with a low-budget horror movie.  Four people go up to a cabin in the woods to write a movie about a killer who wears a bag over his head.  As tensions grow, a real Baghead shows up!  It was OK though it was pretty easy to figure out who the real Baghead was; I mean in a movie with this low of a budget there aren't many candidates to choose from. (2.5/5)

American Crude:  This is like a homeless man's Magnolia featuring several plotlines that interconnect.  The gist is that the guy from Office Space is getting some fake passports to get an escaped prisoner and her boyfriend out of town while simultaneously throwing a bachelor party for Rob Schneider.  It was pretty meh overall.  Might have been better if it had Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, and so forth like Magnolia. (2/5)

Copying Beethoven:  This is a movie about a woman who copies down Beethoven's 9th Symphony and some of his final works as he nears the end of his life.  Someone decided that the best choice to play a long-haired German composer was a bald American, ie Ed Harris.  He doesn't bother with a fake German accent even.  Other than that it's an OK movie.  I have no idea how historically accurate it is.  Immortal Beloved starring Gary Oldman was better though. (2/5)

The Last King of Scotland:  Young Professor X goes to Uganda in the 70s thinking he'll make a difference and does--in a bad way.  He befriends the new dictator and becomes his personal physician.  Soon though he realizes that this dictator is not a very nice guy.  As you know, dictators tend to not be so nice--how do you think they became dictators in the first place?  I'm sure it's not completely historically accurate but it is a good story with a riveting performance by Forest Whittaker. (4/5)

The Aviator:  I had never actually watched the whole movie though I'd seen parts of it on TV.  Though it's almost 3 hours long it never really drags.  I guess it helps that Howard Hughes was into 3 things I like:  planes, movies, and hot chicks.   The cast list is pretty impressive too with stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, and Kate Beckinsale and cameos by Jude Law, Willem Dafoe, Alan Alda, and even Mr. Data Brent Spiner.  The only odd thing is that the movie ends in 1947 and Hughes lived until 1976, so it's missing almost half his life!  But like Elvis a lot of that was just the creepy Vegas years.  Still it would have been nice to at least have some text cards at the end or something. (4/5)

Blood Ties:  It's the old story of a guy gets out of prison and tries to go straight.  Mostly because he's on a work furlough and his brother is a cop.  But when his job sucks, he decides to go back to the old life.  While this has a good cast with Clive Owen (remember him?), Billy Crudup, Mila Kunis, and Zoe Saldana, it just takes too long to get to a sort of predictable ending. (2/5)

We Own the Night:  In the early 80s Joqauin Phoenix runs a nightclub until his cop brother Marky Mark and his Funky Bunch bust up the place.  When Marky Mark is wounded and their cop father Robert Duvall is killed, Joaquin Phoenix joins the cops to stop the bad guys.  I fell asleep during the movie but I woke up to watch the end.  But really it can't be too good if I fell asleep. (2/5)

Clear History:  This movie has a good cast with Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, and Philip Baker Hall, but unfortunately the star is Larry David, the real-life George Costanza.  He's just really irritating as a marketing guru who walks away from marketing an electric car called "the Howard" and ends up losing a fortune when the car is a hit, despite that it looks like a flimsy hybrid of a Smart car and Nissan Cube.  He retreats to Cape Cod, where it turns into a Throw Mama From the Train type comedy when his old boss shows up.  With a real comedic actor this would have been more tolerable, but Larry David should have just stuck to writing comedy. Fortunately there are no nude scenes in this.  (1.5/5)

Son of a Gun:  Some Aussie kid goes to jail and makes a deal with Ewan McGregor for protection.  In exchange when he gets out, he helps bust out Ewan McGregor and Ra's al Guhl from Arrow.  Then of course there's a big score that can make them all rich if it goes right, which of course it doesn't.  They manage to complete the heist, but getting away with the money is the hard part.  It's OK but a little long. (2/5)

The Rover:  Another Australian film, this is kind of like Mad Max-Lite mixed with John Wick, which the latter is a spoiler.  As if you'll ever watch this movie.  So after "the Collapse" destroys Australian society Guy Pearce stops to get a drink and these three guys run their truck over some stuff and get it stuck.  They decide to steal Guy Pearce's car.  He manages to get their truck out pretty easily and then sets out to get his car back.  Why?  Because (spoiler) his dead dog is in the trunk and he wants to bury it.  So he  teams up with Mr. Sparkly Vampire to murder like a half-dozen people to rescue his dog's corpse.  Because that totally makes sense. For a movie with several murders and a couple car chases it's pretty boring.  One of those lame downer apocalyptic movies like Children of Men. (2/5)

Totally Retro

Tootsie:  As someone who has written like 45 gender swap books I probably should have watched this a long time ago.  Though really if you watched the Family Guy where Stewie dresses up as a girl to get on Jolly Farm Revue you've already got the gist of this movie.  An odd fact is that Bill Murray plays the straight man to Dustin Hoffman in this.  Anyway, maybe I should try this tactic since no one seems to be hiring me as a man. (2.5/5)

The Karate Kid:  This is another 80s movie I never got around to watching.  It makes sense that it has the same director as Rocky as it's kind of the same story.  I mean if Rocky were a high school kid from Newark who moves to California and learns karate instead of boxing.  And if his girlfriend were young Elizabeth Shue instead of Talia Shire--definite upgrade.  Am I the only one who thinks Mr. Miyagi was kind of a dick?  He knocks Daniel in the water, makes him do a bunch of chores, and gives him liquor, though he does also give him a car so maybe that evens it out.  This also features a lot of terrible 80s music like "You're the Best Around."  Anyway, the end fight is kind of lame.  I mean all he does is kick the guy in the face.  Yawn.  (2/5)

The Neverending Story:  I don't know if I watched this when I was a kid in the 80s.  If I did I must have wiped it from my memory--with good cause!  The plot really made no sense.  There's this kid named Bastian (is that short for Sebastian) who has a pretty terrible dad (Major Dad Gerald McRaney) who doesn't even worry that his kid never comes home from school despite there being a big storm and stuff.  And what kind of school has a creepy attic?  Even better:  a creepy attic they leave the key lying around inside a broken glass case?  There's all kinds of lawsuit potential there.  Anyway, the kid reads this book that's like real or something.  The whole point is he has to give this Empress chick "a new name" before "the nothing" destroys everything.  What the fuck does that mean?  I bet this movie makes a lot more sense if you're high. (1/5)

Family Business:  This is the story of a really fucked-up family featuring Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman, and Matthew Broderick.  I mean Dustin Hoffman is supposed to be half-Scottish/half-Sicilian and then he marries a Jew so Matthew Broderick would be what, quarter-Scottish/quarter-Sicilian/half-Jewish?  Whatever.  Matthew Broderick has this great idea to steal something from a lab, so he enlists his grandpa and dad to help him because they used to be criminals.  Of course the robbery goes wrong.  You could see that coming from a mile away.  It was OK but not great. (2.5/5)

The Freshman:  This was from about the same time as Family Business, when Matthew Broderick was all the shit.  Instead of working with Connery and Hoffman, this time he gets to work with Marlon Brando, who does a full-on parody of Vito Corleone. The movie even says that they modeled the movie character after him, which was about as funny as when Julia Roberts played Julia Roberts in Ocean's Twelve.  Anyway, in this one Matthew Broderick is recruited to transport an endangered Gila monster from New York to Jersey (which it's ironic that about 10 years later he would chase a mutant Gila monster through New York in Godzilla) on behalf of the Godfather.  Then cops get involved and the Godfather's daughter wants to marry Matthew Broderick after 1 conversation.  It was OK with a couple of funny parts.  I did like the scam the Godfather was pulling where he'd get these rich jerks to pony up hundreds of thousands to eat some endangered animal--except it was really just normal turkey or fish because really, who the fuck knows what a Gila monster tastes like?  Probably like chicken, right? (2.5/5)

Stone Cold:  Probably all I need to tell you is this stars Brian "The Boz" Bosworth in full awful mullet.  Basically this uses every action movie cliche around.  The "plot" is basically that the Boz is a cop who infiltrates one of those biker gangs that were featured in so many A-Team episodes.  Idiotic mayhem ensues.  I'm not sure how Lance Henriksen got mixed up in this as the biker gang leader.  Interestingly though The Freshman said Gila monsters are endangered, the Boz has one as a pet.  Maybe instead of undercover policework he should scam rich people by making them think they're eating lizard. (0/5)

Kickboxer 1-5:  Remember the early 90s when kickboxing movies were huge?  On Crackle they had all 5 Kickboxer movies for some reason.  The first one stars Jean-Claude van Damme, whose brother goes to Thailand to fight some jerk who cripples him, so JCVD has to learn kickboxing to get revenge.  Sure, why not?  The sequel (written by David S Goyer, better known for Batman Begins and other superhero movies) involves another sibling who of course was not referenced in the first movie.  Off screen JCVD and his brother are murdered and so this other guy has to take revenge by kickboxing someone.  Makes sense to me!  The third one gets into campy territory as for some reason the guy goes down to Brazil and ends up having to kickbox the champion of some drug kingpin.  Um, what?  The fourth one then decides to veer back to serious ground by bringing back the evil kickboxer of the first two movies, who for some reason is in Mexico now and framed our hero so he lost the wife I never remember him marrying in the first place.  The only way to settle this is of course by kickboxing--to the death!  The fifth one brings in a third leading man, who thankfully is not yet another sibling no one ever mentioned.  When his friend is injured, he has to go to South Africa to kickbox some bad guys.  Because kicking solves everything!  Honestly these movies get successively lamer.  But I suppose the whole kickboxing fad was kind of a precursor to the UFC thing.

Fat City:  This is from the 70s instead of the 80s.  It's like Rocky if it had been really, really boring.  Stacy Keach is a washed-up boxer who's chopping the tops off onions and shaking walnuts out of trees and crap.  Young Jeff Bridges is a rookie boxer who is fucking terrible.  I guess Jeff Bridges gets better (though you don't see it) while Stacy Keach wins a match but flushes his life down the toilet afterwards.  It coulda been a contender!  But it wasn't.  (1/5)

Draft Day:  It's about as boring as you'd imagine a movie about the NFL draft would be.  I mean if you like split screens of people talking on the phone it's pretty awesome but otherwise it's really dull.  The only positive is Diggle from Arrow has a small part as a scout for the Browns.  The insane horse-trading at the end is kind of fun, though completely implausible.  And it fills out Kevin Costner's sports resume.  He's been a player (Bull Durham, For the Love of the Game), a fan (Field of Dreams), a former player (The Upside of Anger), a GM (Draft Day), and a coach (McFarland USA).  So that's something. (1.5/5)

Cobb:  Speaking of sports movies!  There's not actually a lot of sports in this.  It's about a reporter (the now-forgotten Robert Wuhl) who gets hired to write Ty Cobb's biography in the last days of Cobb's life.  The movie makes no pretense that Cobb was a great ball player but a complete asshole.  He hated everyone and everyone hated him.  And yet the public fed off his greatness and he fed off their admiration, which made for a weird, conflicted relationship that mirrors that of Cobb and the reporter.  Tommy Lee Jones is perfectly cast as the curmudgeonly Cobb, the legend with the feet of clay.  And speaking of Detroit Tiger greats, legendary Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell has a cameo as the emcee of a Hall of Fame dinner.  This could have been a little shorter but otherwise is a good biopic. (4/5)

Atari:  Game Over:  There was a legend that the Atari 2600 video game of ET was so terrible the company buried thousands of copies in a New Mexico dump.  This documentary (ironically produced by XBox) stars screenwriter Zak Penn as he follows a guy trying to find the games and the guy who designed the game.  You can find out on the Internet if they found the games or not.  It was pretty interesting, although parts of it where they talked to various nerds I didn't really care about as much.  George RR Martin has a cameo to give a DeLorean to one nerd who wants to go watch the dig.  Incidentally, I passed through Alamogordo last October, about six months after the dig.  Anyway, the ending was satisfactory for most people even if the legend was exaggerated a bit. (3/5)

Dead Rising: Watchtower:  Speaking of video games, this movie was inspired by a video game (or games) that I never played.  In this universe there's a zombie virus infecting some people that can be held at bay with a drug called Zombrex.  But when the Zombrex doesn't work in the city of East Mission, OR (actually Vancouver) the city is quarantined and threatened to be firebombed in 48 hours.  A reporter and a couple other people inside start to find evidence of a government plot and have to try to escape zombies and a Mad Max-inspired biker gang to get the word out.  Unlike The Walking Dead the zombies in this universe can use tools. like a cop zombie can use his gun and for some reason a clown has an ax.  Anyway, as far as zombie movies go it's OK with slightly better production values than Sharknado, albeit a little long.  You can find it on Crackle if you have a Roku or similar type device. (2.5/5)

Woke Up Dead:  This was listed as a movie but from some research on IMDB I guess it was a web series that they cobbled together into a feature-length movie.  The problem is that it ends on a cliffhanger that was probably never resolved.  It's about Napoleon Dynamite waking up in a bathtub of icy water.  He's not missing his kidneys; he's just a zombie.  Except not in the traditional sense.  He starts to develop superpowers like seeing in other spectrums, Wolverine-like healing, and super strength.  Recording him (exploiting him) is his friend Josh Gad and they recruit a med student (Krysten Ritter AKA Jessica Jones) to try to figure out what's going on.  Meanwhile he has an annoying coworker in Wayne Knight and a shadowy figure who follows him around.  At the end his mom shows up claiming to know what's happening to him, which is the unresolved cliffhanger.  That and who was following him around.  Since everyone but Jon Heder has moved on to greener pastures I doubt this will be resolved anytime soon. (2.5/5)

Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead The first movie was actually pretty good.  It used that old trope of a bunch of people going up to a secluded cabin and then being assaulted by zombies--Nazi zombies!  The second one piles on a lot of silliness as the Nazis decide they should go complete the mission der Fuhrer gave them by destroying some Norwegian town.  The only guy to survive the first movie had to cut off his arm in Evil Dead fashion but then doctors sew on an arm from the head Nazi zombie who lost his when they were fighting in a car.  How the fuck do you put an arm from someone who died in the early 1940s on a patient in 2014?  I know it was in the snow for 70 years but even so it makes no sense.  The whole point of that is so the guy can go wake up the zombies of Soviet troops who were killed by the Nazis.  Except the Soviets suck at fighting, so that was pretty anticlimactic.  There are also 3 nerdy Americans from "Zombie Squad" who show up to lend a hand.  And some Norwegian cops who contribute absolutely nothing.  Of all the dumb things, perhaps dumbest is that the Nazis steal an old Tiger tank from a museum--and it has live ammo inside!  I mean first I don't think museums keep the engines on historic vehicles in drivable condition and they sure as hell wouldn't leave live ammunition inside.  Plus for an old tank it has really good gas mileage.  Even though they kill the head Nazi and all the other Nazis seemingly die of course in the post-credits scene the head of the head Nazi has survived, as well as some zombie Nazi doctor.  Overall I have to say:  this plot makes no sense!  Tell the people! (1/5)


  1. Hey, you like wrestling, right? Stone Cold is where Steve Austin got his most famous gimmick from. And that's the bottom line...

  2. What an amazing list of movie reviews. A lot of retro movies don't hold up so I'm not surprised they all ranked below 4 (I still adore "Never Ending Story" though). I've heard a lot about "Ex Machina" so I'll have to check it out.
    P.S. Just a heads up you misspelled Thandiwe "Thandie" Newton. I know I'd want someone to tell me about my endless list of typos. :)

  3. That's a lot of reviews. Opinion: would the blond guy eventually escape from his prison in ex Machina or would he starve to death?

  4. I'm surprised you gave The Karate Kid such a low rating, but maybe it's just not your thing.

    1. Well I mean at the end all he does is kick a kid in the face. It didn't seem that epic to me.

  5. Hey Bulldog Buddy,

    That's one fuck of a comprehensive list. The dawg is giving you 4 out of 5 paws for your article. This means steady improvement.

    I thought almost every film was made in "Hollywood North" aka Vancouver. Sleepless in Vancouver, that would be different.




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