Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Because You (Didn't) Demand It: Stuff I Watched

I thought of not doing these entries anymore since hardly anyone seems to care, but I still get a kick out of them and it's my blog so fuck it.

The LEGO Batman Movie:  A spin-off of The LEGO Movie, this pits Will Arnett's boastful, blustering LEGO Batman against all his familiar foes like the Joker, Bane, Riddler, etc. and also against Voldemort, King Kong, Godzilla, and the Wicked Witch of the West.  This is after the Joker releases all the worst of the worst from the Phantom Zone.  Like its predecessor, the movie has plenty of fun bits with kid and adult-oriented jokes.  There are a few things I didn't like.  Most of the Batman villains don't do a whole lot, getting maybe a line or two.  Not just lame ones like Egghead but iconic ones like Penguin, Catwoman, and Mr. Freeze barely get any time at all.  Also not sure why they made Barbara Gordon the commissioner instead of commissioner's daughter; Batman lusting after her is just kind of weird when you think of the comics/TV shows.  Since it's a kid's movie they had to soften mentions of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson's parents dying; the latter they don't really say how they died.  A plot hole I wondered about:  the Phantom Zone is introduced with a news segment talking about Superman putting Zod in there...so why isn't Zod part of the bad guys who gets loose?  And why doesn't Superman go looking for his Phantom Zone Projector?  And why doesn't the Justice League show up when everything is going to hell in Gotham?  None of them have a smart phone or anything to alert them to a huge threat?  And if you cast Ralph Fiennes as Alfred, why have someone else do the voice for Voldemort, which was the character Fiennes portrayed in the live action movies?  I'm overthinking it I suppose. (3/5) (Fun Fact:  Director Chris McKay cut his teeth on this sort of project for years on Adult Swim's Robot Chicken.  That show's co-creator Seth Green voices King Kong as well.)

American Pastoral:  This is an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel from Philip Roth.  After a clunky framing device at a class reunion with David Stathairn as the stand-in for Philip Roth, we begin the story of Seymour "Swede" Levov (Ewan McGregor), who seemed to have it all:  a beautiful former beauty queen wife (Jennifer Connelly) and a young daughter Merry (Dakota Fanning).  They live on a farm outside of Newark, New Jersey, where the Swede runs his father's glove factory.  Everything is pretty much going swimmingly (except Merry has a stutter) until the 60s come along.  There are race riots in Newark and Merry joins the anti-war movement.  When she blows up the local post office and goes on the lam, the Swede's idyllic life is destroyed.  Of course the Swede is a metaphor for American innocence, postwar.  The tragedy of the Swede is he's a guy who did all the things you were supposed to do after the war and it all went to hell on him.  He was a man betrayed by the times he lived in, promises made by the system that it couldn't keep.  As many of us have found out since then, the "American Dream" is just that--a Dream.  This was a well-made, well-acted movie so I'm not sure why this didn't seem to get any awards consideration last year. (4/5)  (Fun Fact:  There's a bit of irony in that it's American Pastoral and it's starring and directed by Ewan McGregor, a Scotsman.)

Captain Fantastic:  Viggo Mortensen stars as a dad who is raising his six kids in a remote compound.  They hunt and forage all their food, make their own clothes, and are taught literature, science, math, and so forth far beyond what kids their age know.  Then their mother kills herself in a hospital and her body is taken to New Mexico so road trip!  They pile into their converted school bus and get on the highway.  Naturally there's a lot of culture shock.  While the kids are book smart and have survival skills their social skills are fairly lacking.  The oldest boy meets a girl and proposes marriage like 2 hours later--awkward!  But while they might not have social skills, their way of life certainly has some advantages.  They're amazed by how fat people in the outside world are and the 8 year old kid knows more about history and politics than two normal teenagers.  Really it would be great if we could adapt some of that into raising all our children in America.  Maybe not the kids running around with knives and bows and eating the hearts of deer but the exercise and nutrition and book learning are far better than what most parents do for their kids, just feeding them processed slop and putting them in front of the TV.  There is I'm sure a happy middle ground.  The movie lags a little in the third act, but otherwise it was a great dramedy.  (4/5)

Spilt Milk:  This low budget indie comedy features no one you've ever heard of in the story of a grocery store manager who along with two other employees and a few customers is held up by his former best friend.  Since the safe won't open until  5am he keeps everyone captive and in the process they all start to bond, especially when some real hardcore thieves turn up.  It was a fun movie for the most part.  I had to wonder whether they filmed it in an actual grocery store if they like took over an abandoned space for the shoot.  Would have been annoying to have to stock all that stuff. (3/5)

Walter:  After his father dies, young Walter starts to believe he's the son of God with the ability to judge whether people will go to Heaven or Hell.  He works at a movie theater because clearly that's the best place, right?  But then he's haunted by a ghost who demands he be sent one way or the other.  The ghost also has a connection to Walter's past.  It was a fairly good dramedy for the most part. (2.5/5)

Nerve:  This was based on a novel I guess but really it's like an extra-long episode of Netflix's Black Mirror.  A girl's friend is in this online game called Nerve where people accept dares for money while "Watchers" pay to watch them.  The girl then starts to pplay to show up her friend and takes on increasingly dangerous dares with a strange boy.  Mayhem ensues.  It's OK but like I said you can just watch Black Mirror on Netflix and it's shorter. (2.5/5)

Popstar:  A boy band member goes solo and becomes an overly entitled ass until his career faces a downturn and he starts to wake up.  It's a fairly amusing look at the music industry. (2/5)

Doomed:  This documentary deals with the Roger Corman-produced Fantastic Four from the early 90s.  In those days Marvel movies were crap and basically sold to the lowest bidder, in this case Corman and a German.  They set out to make the movie for under a million bucks.  As you might expect, this meant cutting a lot of corners:  no name actors, no name director, and cheap effects.  But when it was done filming, the producers basically went silent.  The director, editor, and others continued working to finish the film and the actors went to ComicCon and other places to promote it.  They were supposed to have a big screening at the Mall of America when the plug got pulled.  Why that is remains a mystery.  Some say it was never really going to be made to start with, that it was just to hold on to the rights.  Marvel chief Avi Arad claims he paid to keep it from seeing the light of day.  It would be nice if this documentary could get to the truth, but it doesn't.  They really needed to go Michael Moore on Corman, Arad, and Stan Lee, but they settle for just raising the questions without answering them.  Naturally the film has seen the light of day through bootlegs; it just never got a real release.  Had it been released it's unlikely it would have been a huge hit and really since the first big studio version wasn't until 2005 they could have easily released this and then released the big studio version and no one would have cared.  The movie has actually gotten a lot more notoriety than it ever would have thanks to not releasing it, because people always want what they can't have. (2.5/5) (Fun Fact:  The director kept a sign in list for actors who auditioned.  One was Mark Ruffalo, who almost 20 years later would become Bruce Banner in The Avengers.)

The Goods:  Jeremy Piven is a car salesman who takes a freelance gig to sell an entire lot of cars over a 4th of July weekend.  They do this through a variety of sleazy means.  It's fun though fairly amusing.  The cast also includes Ving Rhames, Will Farrell, Ed Helms, Ken Jeong, and TJ Miller in a small role.  (2.5/5)

23 Palms:  Mashup of David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino as in a weird small desert town a bunch of bad people are fighting over a McGuffin black bag.  I kind of tuned out of most of it. (2/5)

The Signal:  Three college kids try to track down a hacker and end up in the Nevada desert.  Then they wake up to find alien limbs and superpowers.  They're then hunted by government agents led by Laurence Fishburne, who basically reheats Morpheus from The Matrix.  The grim and gritty style reminded me of the 2015 Fantastic 4 reboot that came a year later.  That's not really good thing. (2/5)

A.C.O.D.:  Park & Recreation's Adam Scott stars as an Adult Child of Divorce whose parents made his life about as bad as it can be without actual physical abuse.  Now as his younger brother gets married, his parents are suddenly getting back together and he can't deal with it.  It has some funny moments but the end skips forward a year to a wedding for...someone.  All that happens is the father tells a rambling story about Portuguese whores.  So who was getting married? WTF, movie, throw me a fricking bone! (2/5) (Fun Fact:  I watched part of this in May 2015 when I went with my brother to Louisville, but until a couple weeks ago I hadn't watched the whole thing.)

Beyond Re-Animator:  This long-gestating sequel takes place in a prison (a prison in Spain IRL) about 15 years later.  The evil Dr. West is still futzing around with reanimating dead stuff and is helped by the prison's new doctor.  When a reporter who looked more like a cocktail waitress is killed in a riot, they reanimate her and a rat and some other people and it was all pretty boring.  (1/5)  (Fun Fact:  If Dr. West seems familiar (especially his voice) it's because Jeffrey Combs has played numerous characters in various Star Trek franchises like Weyoun the Vorta in DS9 and the Andorrian in Enterprise.)

Chopping Mall:  Imagine if Short Circuit happened in a mall and instead of being goofy "Johnny 5" went on a killing spree?  That's basically this movie, where security guard robots run amok after hours, murdering mall staff. The movie is only 76 minutes with credits and I think half of that is just screaming.  Pretty lame, forgettable horror movie.  Good thing we went back to just having pudgy losers or ghetto kids as our security guards. (2/5) (Fun Fact:  If this happened today there wouldn't be nearly as many places for the kids to draw weapons from as 60% of the stores in the mall would be empty.  The same for a Dawn of the Dead situation.)

Rampage: President Down:  From legendary schlock filmmaker Uwe Boll comes this movie about a guy who improbably kills the president, vice president, and secretary of defense with a sniper rifle from over a mile away.  But you don't actually see that so you have to take the word of some of the worst fake newscasts ever.  The killer is like a really militant Occupy Wall Street kind of guy living in a Unabomber-style shack.  As you'd expect from Boll, it's all pretty stupid, to the point he makes Michael Bay look like Woody Allen.  One of the lame reporters tries to interview an FBI agent with what looks like a duster.  It's like someone just went to the dollar store and bought a duster and painted it black and handed it to the actress for a microphone.  Couldn't they have found a toy one and spray painted it silver or something? The laziness doesn't stop there.  After the president and vice-president are killed the "nation affairs secretary" takes over.  What the fuck is "Nation Affairs?"  Apparently Boll couldn't use his phone to go on Wikipedia and look up the actual line of succession.  It was so stupid that I just quit. (0/5) (Fun Fact:  But I did agree with some of the things the killer guy was saying on his blog, like how parents naively hope their kids will have things better when most likely they won't.  Just the whole murdering people you don't agree with wasn't the best way to go about it.)

Bad Ass 2:  Bad Asses:  Danny Trejo and Danny Glover go on a rampage in LA to avenge...someone for...reasons.  Does it really matter?  It's just a dumb action movie in the Death Wish style only instead of Charles Brosnan you have Danny Trejo looking like Fidel Castro with a ponytail. (2/5)

Pod People:  This lame early 80s movie features a boy who finds an egg that hatches into a weird Alf-looking alien he names Trumpy (for Donald Trump?) whose identical twin meanwhile goes on a killing spree.  The awful effects and cringe-worthy acting are why it ended up on MST3K in 1991. (1/5)

Wizards of the Lost Kingdom:  This is part of the MST3K revival series on Netflix.  According to IMDB the lengthy intro to the movie uses footage from an entirely different movie, probably to save money.  The real movie is about a boy in a lavender leotard and tights who has magic powers and with the help of a drunken warrior and a Wampa-type thing that looks like it was made with white shag carpeting the kid takes on an evil wizard who looked like he could have been Oscar Isaac's father.  The fight scenes only needed the POW! and BLAM! cards to be on par with Batman '66.  It was pretty awful. (1/5)

What could be worse than that?  Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II!  Also on the MST3K revival series, there was a sequel of sorts.  None of the same characters are in it, though.  As the riffers suggest, they probably just took some lame fantasy movie and slapped a new title on it to take advantage of the first movie's massive popularity...sarcasm noted.  Anyway, an old Santa-looking guy has to train a bratty teen who's the most annoying Chosen One since Anakin in the Star Wars prequels.  Then there are some even worse choreographed fights against 3 wizards with the help of David Carradine.  The only good thing is this was so awful the series didn't become a trilogy. (1/5)

The Boy Who Cried Werewolf:  This was on the MeTV late night show Svengoolie, not MST3K or Rifftrax.  Anyway, it's a crappy werewolf movie where a guy gets bitten by a werewolf and then turns into one on a weekend up in the country with his kid and ex-wife.  Besides the acting and special effects, the worst part is there was this cult of annoying hippies and the fucking werewolf doesn't eat any of them!  Come on, it's not like they're real people; they're just obnoxious hippies!  No one will miss them!  In fact eating them is for the public good.  What kind of shitty horror movie wastes the opportunity to slaughter perfectly good hippies?  (0/5)

At the Earth's Core:  Another one from the MST3K revival.  Peter Cushing (Tarkin from Star Wars and zombie Tarkin in Rogue One) and a former student build a giant drill called the Iron Mole (I am Iron Mole duh duh duh duh duh...) and end up underground where there are people (who know English--maybe they had the same tutor as the Amazons in Wonder Woman) being enslaved by pig-like dudes who are controlled by rubber standing pteradon things and have to overthrow them.  Pretty cheesy effects and lame acting.  I really have no idea how faithful it is to the Edgar Rice Burroughs story it's based on.  Did that come before or after Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth?  It is I think largely the same premise.  Hurm. (1/5)  (Fun Fact:  This came out in 1976, the year before Star Wars.)

Future Force:  In the future of 1991, the police have been replaced with a bunch of slimy bounty hunters.  One of these is played by David Carradine, who despite also being a producer gives negative a trillion fucks about anything that's going on.  There's a hilarious moment during a low speed chase in LA when the bad guys go off a cliff.  A cliff in Los Angeles.  WTF?!  Also David Carradine has this Power Glove thing that runs on a remote...a remote with two buttons; despite that he keeps hitting the same button, the glove does different stuff.  Just awful all the way around. (1/5)

Megaforce:  Ironically (or not) this came out in 1982 at about the same time as Hasbro was releasing its new line of GI JOE toys.  Megaforce was basically a cut-rate GI JOE team with special vehicles and members from different nations with code names, though Megaforce has far more sparkling gold jumpsuits and a way lamer enemy who doesn't have a shiny facemask or even a cool name.  Basically the plot revolves around Megaforce trying to capture some general guy for...reasons so they invade his country by landing a bunch of armed motorcycles and go karts.  But then the UN or whoever the old British guy from Knight Rider represents gets cold feet and abandons Megaforce.  So then like Dunkirk their great victory is escaping with their lives, though not with their equipment, so the bad guy not only survives, he also has a bunch of neat new motorcycles and go karts.  Yet the head of Megaforce still thinks this was a big win.  As you can guess the plot is pretty stupid, the vehicles lame, and costumes lamer still.  The bald lady from Star Trek the Motion Picture is in this but contributes nothing to the final battle so I have no idea why she was even in the story other than the story isn't very good. (1/5) (Fun Fact:  I watched the Rifftrax version on Amazon but I think there was also an MST3K version back in the day, though it's not on Netflix.)

Alien Outlaws:  This incoherent, utterly inept production has aliens travel across the galaxy to land on Earth and steal some antique revolvers to randomly shoot people and vandalize stuff until a lady in a Pocahontas getup stops them.  Because all of that makes sense, right?  But then again no. (1/5)

To Catch a Yeti:  An utterly obnoxious early 90s kids movie where a guy inadvertently smuggles a "yeti" from Nepal to his home in upstate New York.  The weird little Furby-looking thing pals around with the guy's daughter while being chased by Meat Loaf in a terrible fur coat.  Bad effects, annoying characters, and a barely coherent plot make this pretty unwatchable except for mockery. (1/5)

Attack From Space:  This crappy 60s Japanese sci-fi movie features "Starman" trying to stop "Sapphirians" and their "Death Star."  Two of those terms would later be used in other, better properties. (1/5)

Buffalo Rider:  This is like a bad nature documentary only fiction.  It spends the first 10 minutes lecturing on the history of the buffalo hunting industry.  Then we finally get to a guy who finds a wounded buffalo, nurses it to health, and decides that he's going to ride it around for...reasons.  Riding a buffalo is pretty ridiculous as the animal doesn't steer all that well.  Another 10 minutes of the movie are spent on the adventures of a raccoon named Bandit as she escapes from a cougar and keeps her two sons out of trouble.  What did this have to do with anything?  Absolutely nothing!  Eventually the buffalo rider finds a murdered couple and takes their baby to its aunt and then kills the killers.  Most of it is narrated by some Waylon Jennings wanna-be while the shots are so ineptly set up and the acting poorer than health class videos. (1/5)

Death Promise:  This lame mid-70s karate movie is about a guy whose father is killed by the henchmen of a slum lord.  So he goes to train with some guy and then comes back for vengeance, though his friend (who didn't train with any master) probably does as much if not more.  The dumbest thing is OK he kills all these slumlords, but in the end he's still going to lose his home most likely.  I mean he didn't force the bad guys to sign the building's deed over to him so either some relative of the slum lords will own it or the government and either way they probably aren't going to keep a mostly-vacant tenement around when they could bulldoze it for something more profitable.  What a useless quest for vengeance!  That's probably more thought than the "writer" and "director" put into it. (1/5)

Reefer Madness:  I think this might have been a remake not the original.  It was in color at least.  Anyway, smoking dope leads a kid to murder and otherwise ruining his life.  It's really, really not subtle at all.  Much of it is a lame court setting and some humorless jerk lecturing people at a town council meeting.  This is after the movie opens with a crawl that goes on for like 5 minutes.  (1/5)

Invasion USA:  One of Golan-Globus's early attempts to enter American cinema, Soviet-backed terrorists invade Miami and go around blowing up houses with a rocket launcher that has an inexhaustible supply of rockets, shoot people at random, and attempt to blow up a mall.  But they never counted on alligator-wrestling Chuck Norris.  Maybe Trump should just name Chuck Norris head of Homeland Security?  It was pretty dumb even for an action movie.  (1/5)

The Stoned Age:  This low-budget 1994 movie features two teenage boys into heavy metal, booze, pot, and chicks.  They're like a more real and unpleasant Beavis and Butthead.  Though this movie is about as funny as the earliest episodes of that show, which mostly focused on the boys terrorizing their neighbors and wildlife, which is to say it wasn't very funny at all. (1/5)

4 comments:

  1. Hey Pat,

    Well dude, I care. I think it's really good you put up your reviews of all these films. Besides, I've not seen most of these films and your ratings help me out.

    I saw the original Reefer Madness at some shit hole movie theatre, um theater, in Vancouver, way back when....

    Gary

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  2. I enjoy reading them, too, since I haven't watched most of the crap you look at and now I don't have to lol :)

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  3. You have a great point that you're probably overthinking it because I didn't notice a single plot hole in Lego Batman movie. Including the part where he almost forgets to take off his cowl. LOL The less said about Yeti the better I suppose. You watch a lot of things I would never watch and that frees up my Netflix time. Thanks for a primo set of reviews, and you have yourself a bangin' Friday Man.

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  4. I didn't..? On the contrary! I specifically demanded it! I always have fun reading this section. For some weird reason this is the first time I haven't seen anything from your list. I must be doing something wrong.

    ReplyDelete

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