Wednesday, August 9, 2017

It Lives: Stuff I Watched

More stuff I watched (obviously):

Power Rangers:  Like the Ninja Turtles movie from 3 years ago I went in with very low expectations and was pleasantly surprised that this was actually not terrible.  As the Honest Trailer suggested it's basically like if you took The Breakfast Club and then gave them robot dinosaurs and had them fight a giant gold dude.  The teen characters are pretty much John Hughes archetypes:  the jock (Red), the princess (Pink), the nerd (Blue), the loner (Black), and the crazy chick (Yellow).  Bryan Cranston is largely wasted as Zordon, who like Abin Sur in Green Lantern crashes on Earth and dispatches power rings coins that eventually find the five kids above in Angel Grove to fight the scene-chewing Elizabeth Banks.  A little more subtlety for the villain would have made it a stronger movie but otherwise it was good. (3/5)

Get Out:  This revolves around the needlessly complicated plan of white people to abduct black guys and implant them with white guy brains.  On the surface it's about as sensible as The Thing With Two Heads where Ray Milland's head is sewn onto Rosie Grier's body, but the movie is well-crafted to avoid campiness so that it's really only at the end that you think:  WTF?  Why would anyone come up with such a ludicrous plan?  It is well-crafted but a little slow in the middle.  (3/5)

I Love You, Man:  Harmless and amusing Apatow-lite movie about a man who goes looking for a friend and then naturally finds one who starts taking up his entire life.  The movie requires a lot of suspending disbelief in the idea that Paul Rudd has no friends.  Really you need someone like me for that--the movie ugly version of me anyway like maybe Kevin James or Danny DeVito. (2.5/5)

The Frontier:  A woman on the lam from murdering her abusive husband (presumably) falls asleep on Route 66 in front of a diner/motel called "The Frontier."  The kindly owner lets her stay in the motel and gives her a job waitressing.  There she finds out that pretty much everyone who comes in and the kindly owner are all in on an armored car robbery.  And so everyone begins backstabbing each other to end up with the money.  Parts of it were fairly predictable, but it was a decent indie movie. (3/5)

Hardcore Henry:  The concept of this movie is that it's basically a first-person shooter video game only shot with real actors.  "Henry" is a cyborg who is activated and then takes on an evil corporation with the help of Sharlto Copley--or a whole gang of Sharlto Copleys really.  It can be kind of nauseating at times with the way the camera has to jerk around to simulate the first person view.  But it's also kind of fun if you've played first-person shooter games. (2.5/5) (Fun Fact:  M*A*S*H did an episode like this back in the late 70s or early 80s where it was shot from the POV of a patient; I thought that was pretty cool.)

The Night Manager:  This was a miniseries on AMC last year based on a John le Carre novel.  A hotel night manager (Tom Hiddleston or Loki in the MCU) in Egypt falls in love with a woman who's killed by a crooked arms dealer named Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie of Dr. House fame).  The night manager eventually stages a kidnapping of Roper's kid that he thwarts to get inside Roper's organization.  Though apparently Roper never watched The Departed or he'd know that when your criminal organization starts developing problems, you should really be looking at the new guy, not your long-serving lieutenants.  The first couple of episodes are really slow and hard to get into (especially the second one) but it eventually picks up the pace.  If you can make it past those early episodes then it becomes a decent cat-and-mouse thriller. (3/5)  (Fun Fact:  Richard Roeper is a film critic in Chicago who replaced Gene Siskel on TV after his death.)

Punisher: War Zone:  Until Wonder Woman this year, this movie was the one people trotted out for why women couldn't direct big superhero movies.  We tried it once and didn't work, OK?  That seems totally fair. [eye roll]  Anyway, the problems for this movie lie in the script and casting.  You have a Punisher in Ray Stevenson with less charisma than Karl Urban in Dredd and a villain (Dominic West) who with his damaged face and overall campiness seems to think he's channeling Jack Nicholson's Joker.  The plot is pretty simple:  the Punisher kills a bunch of bad dudes and one who survives tries to take revenge.  It's probably good in a way this movie wasn't very good as it eventually let Marvel get the character rights back for the Daredevil series on Netflix and now his own series. (2/5)

Insecurity:  Have you ever wondered what Canada's intelligence agency might be like?  Wonder no more!  This CBC series from 2011 is like a live action Archer in that it focuses on a group of spies working for "NISA" who aren't always all that bright or competent and yet usually get the job done.  For instance in the first episode the rest of the team accidentally leaves their leader behind to be captured.   She's taken to the sadistic "Doctor" only to realize he used to be a nerdy kid she went to high school with.  Awkward!  While not as vulgar and globe-trotting as Archer, some of these episodes would have been good for Sterling and the rest to tackle. If you've never watched that, think of it like Parks and Recreation or The Office only with Canadian spies.  There are 2 seasons, the second ending by going Friends and hooking people up, so it's probably just as well that was the end of it.  I really enjoyed it, though it needed a better theme song.  (4/5)  (Fun Fact:  While it's set in Ottawa, most of the show was filmed in Regina, which rhymes with fun!)

Pacific Heat:  This animated series I think takes place in Australia and like Insecurity above focuses on a team of misfits who fight crimes.  The animation is like Archer mixed with an old NES game it seems at times.  There are some funny parts but the annoying thing is they talk about as rapidly and often as the Gilmore Girls. (2.5/5)

Steel:  Though the character originated in Superman comics, this eliminates all references to that.  Instead a former Army weapons designer and his friend build a metal suit and a "hammer" that's some kind of EMP weapon or something to fight Judd Nelson who's another Army weapons designer who has gone rogue.  It's exceptionally cheesy with a lot of casual racism concerning its black and Latino characters.  And Shaq is as miscast as a genius weapons designer as Robert Downey Jr would be as an NBA superstar.  This would be a lot more fun as a Rifftrax movie. (1/5)

Night of the Shorts:  This was a live Rifftrax special last year focusing on shorts.  The first was an oldie called "The Trouble With Women" about a sexist guy who lamented how terrible women in the workplace are.  (Mike Pence would be nodding along with the guy.)  Another has an annoying guy tape record teenagers so they can hear how they mispronounce words.  A short called "One Got Fat" was really macabre in that it's about kids wearing monkey masks on bikes getting killed one at a time to promote bike safety.  WTF?!  A two-part Canadian short film about "communication" was really boring and depressing.  The final bit was an old Batman serial called "Robin's Wild Ride" that hardly featured Robin.  Though this was filmed live, I wonder why they included the part during the Batman serial where the film stopped for like three minutes; you'd think they might edit that out.  It was fun because besides the normal 3 people they had a bunch of "guest riffers." (3/5)

When Justice Fails:  Marlee Matlin and Jeff Fahey are a deaf attorney and a renegade cop and...um, I don't know.  That seemed like about it for the story.  I fell asleep during the last third, not that much had happened to that point. (1/5) (Fun Fact:  This was from 1999, long after that Reasonable Doubts show on NBC where Matlin played a deaf lawyer opposite Mark Harmon's renegade cop.  I'm not sure why she doesn't talk in this movie as from that show and other stuff we'd already heard her speak before.)

Lone Wolf McQuade:  A forerunner to Walker, Texas Ranger as Chuck Norris plays a Texas Ranger who's after bad guys who killed his daughter's boyfriend and nearly killed her.  It was so scintillating I fell asleep about 2/3 of the way through.  The opening credits and theme music really, really want you to think you're going to watch a Sergio Leone Western, but nope, you're just watching an extended episode of Walker, Texas Ranger. (1/5)

College:  Three high school seniors go to a college for a weekend and end up going to wild parties and so forth.  They soon find that the "college experience" isn't everything they were hoping for, especially when you're a pledge.  The things I missed by not living on campus. (2.5/5)

Trespass Against Us:  Michael Fassbender is a dad who lives with his family in kind of a modern gypsy village where people just park a bunch of trailers and RVs together.  I've seen the same thing in Crackle's recent Snatch series.  Anyway, cops get after him and he steals a dog and...I didn't really follow it that well.  It was kind of boring. (2/5)

The Galaxy Invader:  In this cheesy low-budget 80s movie an alien ship crashes in the most redneck part of Maryland, where the locals hunt the creature, who looks like a low-rent Swamp Thing cosplay.  Most of the movie consists of rednecks running around chasing the creature and each other with guns. (1/5)

Bad Seed:  Luke Wilson is a husband who has a fight with his wife about the guy she was having an affair with--Daryl of The Walking Dead, aka Norman Reedus.  So Luke Wilson does the logical thing and goes over Daryl's house and barges into a bedroom and kills a guy who turns out to be Daryl's retarded brother.  Luke Wilson goes on the run then, enlisting a low-rent detective played by the late Dennis Farina, to help him try to get a damning tape back.  Then it becomes a really pathetic game of cat-and-mouse.  I think they should have made this as a comedy instead of a drama because these guys were all so fucking stupid.  The big twist is that the retarded brother killed Luke Wilson's wife, so his murder was kinda justified I guess. (1/5) (Fun Fact:  I really don't know who the title refers to:  Luke Wilson, Daryl, or maybe Daryl's brother.  It doesn't make a lot of sense.)

Girl House:  A bunch of sorority girls wire up a house with cameras to stream X-rated videos and chat with horny dudes.  Then of course one fat, bald sad lonely guy (it wasn't me, I swear!) gets obsessed and when he's rejected goes to the house and starts murdering everyone.  Pretty predictable but there's plenty of nudity not of fat, bald sad lonely guys, so there's that. (2.5/5)

Extraordinary:  This is a documentary that could probably be a mockumentary too.  This guy named Sam sees a UFO bobbing around the sky in the daytime in 2001.  Then aliens begin stalking him, little gray dudes appear at his doors and windows, creepy orbs drift around, and weird shadows show up in the house.  He's also beamed up numerous times, usually along with a woman he later meets at a UFO convention.  And apparently there are human/alien hybrid kids, one of whom starts calling him and even shows up at another convention.  It's kinda hard to take all of it seriously.  When the aliens call him "starseed" and act like he's some Chosen One it makes me think of 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Anyway, I guess it depends if You Want to Believe or not. The documentary starts off with the "evidence" that is of course usually grainy video and then it goes into interviews that are fairly boring.  (2/5)

Knowing:  In 1959 a little girl writes a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper that's put in a time capsule.  50 years later Nic Cage's son gets the piece of paper when the time capsule is raised.  Nic Cage examines it and realizes the numbers relate to disasters like 9/11 with a casualty count.  And then spoiler alert it's mostly pointless because the last set of numbers is for a disaster that will wipe out the planet.  So yeah, why bother?  Pretty lame ending. (2/5)

High-Rise:  In 70s London, an architect (Jeremy Irons) constructs a high-rise that's supposed to be like a self-contained world with its own supermarket and so forth.  A guy who lost his sister recently (Tom Hiddleston) moves in and soon it all turns into Lord of the Flies or Mad Max as class warfare leaves the whole place a shambles, to the point people are eating dogs.  The obvious question is why the people don't just leave and go somewhere else?  It seems pretty obvious really.  So yeah there's not a lot of logic in the movie but some nice visuals and an orgy of mostly unattractive people.  Yay? (2/5)

The Square:  Long, mostly cliche story where an Australian man and woman cheat on their spouses and plan to run away with some stolen money, but of course things go wrong and the body count starts rising as they have to cover up their improprieties.   (1/5)  (Fun Fact:  This was directed by Nash Edgerton, based on an "original" story by Joel Edgerton, who I'm just going to assume is his brother.  Joel Edgerton also co-stars.)

Mindhorn:  This Netflix Original movie is like Hot Fuzz meets Galaxy Quest.  In the 80s Mindhorn was a popular British series but now the actor is a has-been getting by with lame commercials and such.  Then a lunatic calling himself the Kestrel demands to speak to Detective Mindhorn or he'll start killing people.  So they bring the actor in.  There's then a long, not extremely interesting local mystery involving a local politician.  It's the sort of comedy that's only about 90 minutes and yet feels like 3 hours, the bit getting old fast. (2/5) (Fun Fact:  On American Dad there's a parody show called Mind Quad about a veteran who had his limbs blown IN, which somehow gives him psychic powers.  Now that should be a Netflix original.)

The Last Slumber Party:  Laughably inept 80s slasher film about an escaped mental patient with a scalpel who dresses up in scrubs and terrorizes some annoying girls.  Makes me glad it was the last slumber party. (1/5)

Willow Creek:  Found footage movie where a guy and his girlfriend go into the woods to look for Bigfoot.  It's pretty pleasant for the first half where they're in a small town talking to locals and stuff; it actually feels like a low-rent documentary on Bigfoot.  But then they go into the woods and there is literally about 20 minutes of them just sitting in a tent listening to noises.  Sadly I was watching it live on Showtime so I couldn't fast forward.  One of the limitations of the found footage movie is that unless the people go outside the tent we can't see what's terrorizing them.  So we're just so supposed to sit there watching people listen to stuff?  WTF?  When they finally leave the tent they get lost in the woods and die thanks to Bigfoot or something.  The End.  (2/5)  (Fun Fact:  The movie was written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwaite, who you might remember from the Police Academy movies, Scrooged, and other things.  A movie where Bobcat Goldthwaite terrorizes a couple with his obnoxious voice would probably be just as scary.)

3 comments:

  1. The only one on this list a watched was The Night Manager, and I didn't stick with it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's great that you can seemingly watch any genre of movie. I'm kind of a scaredy cat and can't watch horror because I get nightmares.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh wow, they made a Steel movie in the 90s that was complete rubbish? Well, can't say I'm surprised.

    From your list I saw Punisher: War Zone, which didn't impress me. And Knowing too.

    ReplyDelete

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