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Brian’s Review – A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

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A Good Day to Die Hard

Directed by John Moore

2 out of 10

John McClane travels to Russia to help out his seemingly wayward son, Jack, only to discover that Jack is a CIA operative working to prevent a nuclear-weapons heist, causing the father and son to team up against underworld forces.

Bruce Willis ought to be ashamed of himself for having the audacity of inflicting this piece of shit on the public and then having the nerve to call it a Die Hard film. This is as bad a cash grab I’ve seen from an actor in recent memory. All of the charm and fun from the earlier entries in the series feesl like a distant memory and they’re replaced with an experience here that feels cold, boring, distant, incomprehensible, and ugly. Why in the hell did Bruce Willis make this? He’s certainly not hard up for cash after being one of the top paid actors for the last quarter century.

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So, why do a sequel to a beloved series that isn’t of very high quality? I’m not here to try to convince anyone that Die Hard is high art or anything but they were slam band action films that were fun and contained a realistic hero in unrealistic situations. The John McClane character is among the most loved off all time in the action genre and easily Bruce Willis’s most iconic screen role. This film shows a complete disrespect for the earlier work and Willis himself is largely to blame. My criticism are as follows:

  1. There’s no discernable story here. If there’s no story then the audience has zero reason to care.
  2. As with #1, there’s no characters that are remotely interesting…including John McClane!!! If you don’t care about the characters, you don’t care when they’re in danger and therefore there’s no suspense.
  3. This film is photographed horribly. The entire thing is way too dark and smothered in dark blues and smeary reds. It creates problems as a viewer because when you mix that with the shaky cam effect, it makes an already impossible film to follow even murkier.
  4. Bruce Willis acts old and tired. He puts no effort in to create any dramatic weight and looks utterly bored.
  5. John Moore is a schlock director. Did anyone see Max Payne? I rest my case.
  6. You won’t have any clue what’s going on from one scene to the next. There’s no flow. I was confused and yet too bored to put in any effort to figure it out.
  7. The villian sucks. He has no backstory and very few lines.
  8. There’s double crosses by characters who have almost no screen time. If I don’t even know who these people are, why would I care if someone betrayed someone else?

I could go on and on but I’ll end with this. This isn’t just the worst Die Hard film but my pick as the worst film so far of 2013.

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Vic’s Review – Slither (2006)

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A small town is taken over by an alien plague, turning residents into zombies and all forms of mutant monsters.

“Slither”

Directed by James Gunn

8 out of 10

“What the fuck was that?”

Jeez, I don’t know where to begin here. “Slither” is just so much damn fun that I have to try and get my thoughts in order to write this review. There is so much to get into and rant gleefully about like a nerdy schoolgirl with this movie. It’s slimy, gory, reverential, hilarious, campy, nasty, smart and did I mention that it’s gory? Oh yeah, I did. It is an outrageous blend of hysterical sci fi and horror that is easily one of the most quote-able genre flicks to come along in a long time. It’s replay value is through the roof and it is written with a fan of these types of films in mind. It goes right for the jugular and never lets go because Gunn and company keep the movie consistently fresh. “Slither” hops genres too. It is a horror story wrapped in a science fiction film. Gunn incorporates humor and reverence into “Slither” and he does it knowing what  fans of these types of film want. Dark humor, intensity, heart and riotous mayhem.

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James Gunn is a “Troma” alum and he injects “Slither” with an affection for low budget tropes. Except it doesn’t look like a b movie but revels in  feeling like one. Gunn just about references every sci fi/horror classic known to man. Everything from Cronenbergs “Shiver” to “The Blob” to Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” to my favorite: R.J. MacReady’s Funeral Home which references  John Carpenter’s “The Thing.” Gunn gets the movie going with a classic sci fi adage.

A meteorite from space. It lands, not completely burned up, in Wheelsy, South Carolina. It transports an alien parasite/life form that is malevolent, vicious and cunning. Gunn cast Michael Rooker as Grant, who while screwing around in the woods outside his home gets attacked, assimilated and has his memories absorbed. Suffice it to say Gunn adds layer upon layer of  bawdy and lewd madness. Grant exhibits very strange behavior that involves eating raw meat and small animals plus what gives him away are those funky tentacles that protrude from his chest. Yuck.

The beautiful Elizabeth Banks (30 Rock) plays Grant’s wife, Starla (great name huh?) and she contacts Mal Reynolds, oops, I mean Nathan Fillion (Firefly, One Life to Live, Serenity) as Starla’s childhood crush, Sheriff Bill Pardy. Grant moves on to Brenda and impregnates her with the alien parasite and nasty little vermin offspring. Gunn in no slight way shows us how vile and impure all of this stuff really is. There is just about every conceivable grotesquerie there is in this freak-show. Men and women eat raw meat, explode, turn into zombies, get larger and larger with alien worm puss and not to mention Grant’s body absorbing townspeople and morphing into some large abomination worthy of Rob Bottin himself.

Actor Gregg Henry ( Body Double, Payback) plays the Mayor of  Wheelsy named…MacReady. Ha! I love it! Henry steals every scene he’s in as a foul mouthed, boozing and oafish politician. Henry gets to say some incredibly amazing lines from Gunn like: “Look up cocksucker!” or when told that martians are from mars he responds: “Or it’s a general term meaning ‘outer-space fucker.” Gunn just allocates such great material to all his actors and they excel in providing a fun ringside seat of alien/human decimation. Gunn also delivers some great action set pieces like when a teen named Kylie is assaulted by the alien slugs in her bathroom and she has to use her wits to survive not only the slugs trying to connect with her (she is also able to “see” what they really are and where they come from) but from assimilating her entire family.

The attack sequences also move from Pardy, Starla and Mac being chased in a pick up truck to the deputies being turned and killed to Brenda in the barn about to burst from all of the nasty and gooey aliens inside of her. Starla also is taken and brought back to the Grant-Monster who is nesting in the living room in her home. Starla tries to appeal to Grant who is in telepathic control of the rest of the infected deputies ( like a hive mind ) and townspeople. Grant’s memories come back but not before he discovers what he’s become. Gunn kicks up the atrocities and mayhem in fantastic fashion by giving “Slither’ a like-able and respectful air of tongue in cheek ridiculousness. There are gags abound too. The ending shall I say is indeed quite explosive and every bit as fitting as we have come to expect in this wild and hellacious movie.

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Gunn’s “Slither” is a joy to watch because of the respect and love that is put into the production. All the references aside the movie does have it’s own identity and it never fails to impress with the craftsmanship it displays. Great music, an endearing and capable cast and a very reminiscent but showy story makes the film all the more tantalizing to watch. It will at times remind some viewers of other cult films like “The Deadly Spawn” and even “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” but it never COPIES them or tries to be them. What Gunn does is akin to a love letter to these awesome drive in horror/sci fi stories about aliens taking over the earth not in spaceships but by invading our bodies and minds. It is a perfect homage without being a rip off.  

It remains vivid, eye opening and vulgar in every way and even if you are not a gore hound you will find that you can never take your eyes off the movie. Fillion (who intentionally chews the scenery in parts) is hilariously astounded by everything going on and Banks is spunky and deft in having to adapt to killing the creatures and fending off the Grant-Monster.That leaves Rooker who is perfect as Grant. Serious as a heart attack and completely brutal and bestial in the role. “Slither” is a wonderful watch and if you want to escape into an absolutely fucked up universe of monsters and alien slugs you need to watch this movie and try not to turn away in disgust because if you do you may miss a reference or a great sight gag.  Highly recommended!!!

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“Slither” is currently available on Netflix Instant Streaming.

Here are other movies that “Slither” references. See if you can catch them!

Predator

Evil Dead

Videodrome

From Beyond

Night of the Creeps

Deadly Blessing

Vic’s Review – Crush (2013)

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“Crush”

Directed by Malik Bader

7 out of 10

“Crush” from director Malik Bader (Street Thief) and writer / producer Sonny Mallhi is an efficient and practical little thriller that is peppered throughout with a touch of Hitchcockian flair. It uses the daunting theme of the sexual stalker as it’s story and this time, much to my surprise and delight, Bader’s film is both involving and eloquent. Much of it is standard fare as with all movies about someone being stalked and followed. What Bader does here though is establish the characters and has us feel for each and everyone of them . He also consequentially delivers the creeps and displays that in this day and age some directors can still produce a twist and shock the viewers. When that happens and happens successfully, “Crush” becomes a film with some cred. It doesn’t happen until late in the film but what comes before it is interesting and smart. Bader manages to lift the movie beyond it’s “Teen Obsession” flick. It’s crafty and tricky and it is able to pull the wool over your eyes more than once. The movie opens with a disturbing sequence involving a boy and an innocent looking girl on top of a modest home’s rooftop and after shocking us in it’s brutality, Bader continues to build his story in a relevant and worthwhile way.

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 Bader cast Crystal Reed (Teen Wolf) as Bess. A teen loner who is quiet, meek and a bit lonesome. She works at a local music store and apparently has a secret crush on a local school athlete named Scott, played by Lucas Till (X Men First Class). Scott is recovering from a knee injury he suffered and is in the middle of his therapy and trying to get back into shape to continue playing sports in school. He lives with his Dad, Mike, played by Holt McCallany (Fight Club). As he tries hard to get better he deals with a love affair with his on and off again girlfriend named Jules (Sarah Bolger). Meanwhile it seems that Bess herself may have a secret admirer as well in Jeffrey played by Reid Ewing (Fright Night). He dotes over her and continues to make excuses for spending more and more time with her. She takes no notice of him at first since she is obviously concerned with what seems like a torrid obsession with Scott. There are weird e-mails, pictures and occurrences surrounding Scott and his girlfriend Jules that gradually increases to the boiling point. Scott knows he is being followed and being watched that he eventually becomes very paranoid and even gets blamed for posting lewd pictures of Jess. It seems that Bess, while ignoring Jeffrey, has been up to no good and making her crush on Scott literally unbearable. His life begins to unravel and his Father ( being out of town )  is not around to help him with Bess. He confronts her several times and is even told by Bess’s co-worker, Andie (Caitriona Balfe) to back off and Scott’s teammates also picks up on Scott’s odd behavior. Bader weaves all of these characters and a few more into an intricate web of deceit, confrontations and frightening suspense. It’s all very old school and as we are kept guessing as to all of the motives and actions of all these characters, Bader continues to tighten his grip. He and his writers add some gravity and depth to the movie with a very capable cast and well placed suspense.

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 There is much more than meets the eye when it comes to “Crush” It has a suspenseful peculiarity to it and it relishes in keeping us guessing. It is hard to review the film without spoilers because there are some twists and turns that are not telegraphed way ahead of it’s resolution. The cast are all young and compelling even though the actors all seem like they really couldn’t be high school students but I digress. What’s important is that Malik Bader’s “Crush” is an intriguing slow burn ( I just keep using that damn phrase, don’t I?) that explores the themes of every angst ridden teen regarding  jealousy, obsession, fringe behavior and the handsome and refreshing production values make “Crush” a magnetic stalker flick. It is no “Play Misty For Me” or “Fatal Attraction” only because those films came first and this entry can be very reminiscent of earlier movies of it’s ilk.  It’s touching, exciting and riveting especially in it’s third act and the twist is completely well timed. My only gripe is it’s procedural and derivative flashback sequence. Why do we have to sit thru flashbacks of things we could pretty much have figured out without the visual flow chart. It does not spoil the film but I did roll my eyes a bit. I hope you guys get a chance to check out “Crush.”  It is a mature effort that can appeal to teens and adults. It was a pretty pleasant surprise. Recommended!

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Brian’s Review – Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

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Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, discovers vampires are planning to take over the United States. He makes it his mission to eliminate them.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

3 out of 10

I saw the title for this movie and immediately went “Huh?” It sounds  ridiculous and yet strangely intriguing. I tried not to judge a book by its cover and just watch the film for what it was. Unfortunately, the title is the most interesting part of this mess. AL:VH is a joyless experience. It tries to reinvent our 16th president as a younger man out for blood because a vampire decided to feed on his mother after his Father failed to pay a debt. In response, he lashes out and wants revenge. If you’re still awake after that boring description, try to imagine a film with as silly a title as this and has no humor in it whatsoever. Sam Raimi had the right idea with the Evil Dead series. He took a non-existent plot filled with demons and ghouls and added large doses of humor to engage the audience and give them a bloody good time.

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I suppose my greatest hope was that AL:VH would be in the same vein(no pun intended) and create a roller coaster ride in the “Zombieland”-style where horror and comedy have been successfully fused. Instead, we have an angst ridden hero doing Samurai moves with an ax. Why did he have to be Abraham Lincoln? There’s no real reason to make the protagonist a historical figure. It didn’t add anything to the experience or give the plot any added oomph. Also, I have a real beef with these Vampire films coming out where the bloodsuckers walk around during the day. I am well read enough to know that Bram Stoker’s original story had Dracula walking around during the day albeit with diminished power. But, the idea that Vampires are only awake at night gives the story more potency and allows the humans to regroup and develop. Twilight is another example of this. Of course, that hunk of shit makes them sparkle (Stephanie Meyer should be prosecuted for that).

Anyway, with the Vampire films making a comeback for all the wrong reasons, I keep waiting for a great one to come along and have found myself disappointed each and every time. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is unfortunately not the exception.

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Vic’s Review – Dark Skies (2013)

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As the Barrett family’s peaceful suburban life is rocked by an escalating series of disturbing events, they come to learn that a terrifying and deadly force is after them.

Directed by Scott Stewart

7 out of 10

It’s fortunate that Visual FX artist Scott Stewart ( Priest and Legion ) handled both the writing and directing duties on this sci-fi thriller about nasty ET’s and all their meddling with us humans. Stewart’s tight though inferential story and slick, lean direction make “Dark Skies” a slightly better than average creepfest.   I must admit I was interested in the dynamics that Stewart handles here. “Dark Skies” takes on very established motifs regarding alien contact and abduction. We’ve seen it all before and we know all the beats to this story. What I think worked for me in this case is that Stewart gets some pretty good performances out of his actors. He also keeps the movie moving at a  mercurial pace while maintaining a slow build up. The story doesn’t get campy or cheesy but despite it’s familiarity “Dark Skies” does hit all the right notes and does it efficiently while committing to the seriousness of the subject matter. Stewart delivers a well shot, well acted and agile film that works on some levels but it doesn’t get very deep. There remains just under the surface a late night chiller that is a decent time water and has a few spooky moments to keep us responsive and partial.

The beautiful Keri Russell ( Felicity, MI:3 ) stars as Lacy Barrett a struggling wife and mother of 2 boys who starts to have strange things happen in her home shortly after a BBQ party she holds with her friends, the Jessops. Her boys, Sammy (Kadan Rockett) and Jesse (Dakota Goyo) are close and even when in separate rooms they speak via walkie talkie where Jesse proceeds to spin scary yarns and share stories of “The Sandman” with his younger brother. Sammy, being young and impressionable gets easily scared. Lacy on the other hand starts to witness things late at night while she walks around her home. She can’t seem to be able to get any sleep on any given night and wanders. She sees her Fridge doors wide open and contents spilled all over the place. She sees canned food and kitchen items stacked high from floor to ceiling and her chandelier is making a funky symbol that projects to the ceiling. I could not help but be reminded of “Poltergeist” and “Ghostbusters” respectively during these odd night time strolls that Lacy takes. She shrugs them off as nightmares but things get worse when ala “Insidious” we get the good ole security alarm going off at ear-bursting levels and no perp around. Lacy’s husband, Daniel Barrett (Josh Hamilton) even seems to be acting strangely as he and his son exhibit strange “spells” where they move around robotically and have no recollection of what usually transpires.  The Police think that the Barretts should reboot the alarm system and when the alarm goes off yet again and they find out the windows and doors are locked they start to think the worst. Something  malevolent is in their home or at least getting in and out.

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Daniel suffers as well when he can’t get to the bottom of the mystery and it doesn’t help that he is having job and financial woes to add to the distress. Bills start to pile up and mortgage payments are late. But that is not the only bad thing: Various flocks of birds become somewhat suicidal, Sammy urinates on himself while playing outdoors and lets out a booming and ear piercing shriek that he doesn’t recall afterwards. And so on and so on. Desperate, Daniel sets up cameras that seem to have been tampered with during the night. Strange dream-like visions and more intense occurrences push both Lacy and Daniel to the edge. Daniel at one point sees what appears to be 3 dark figures in the boy’s room one night in a familiar but effective scene. But it is the boys who suffer greatly at the intrusion of “The Grays” These are aliens, that to Ufologists, are the holy grail of the alien presence here on earth. The pleasant surprise in the film is the under-stated performance from JK Simmons (Spider-man and Spider-man 2) as a UFO expert, named Pollard, who knows all about “The Grays” and proceeds to tell Lacy and Daniel that they have been here a very long time. They are indeed notorious for abductions, lost time, symbols, communicating and tampering with humans. Even implants (which Daniel seems to have behind his ear) and manipulation. In  very typical “X-Files” fashion we get all types of creepy ongoing sequences. Stewart moves the story along with the help of his talented cast that makes the very best of the material that becomes a bit predictable by the third act. We have flashes of the beings, a very by the numbers character that “knows it all” in Pollard and some quick and moody style and editing that serves the film uniquely in parts.

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 Pollard (who has a wall of “weird” with numerous news clippings) tells the Barretts that their son has been “chosen” by “The Grays” and that should keep a very close eye on him. Unfortunately, it does not end up that way. Pollard tells them that the aliens may move on or may work even harder to get what they want from them. They take measures like buying weapons and getting a guard dog but to no avail.  Do “The Grays” get what they want or do The Barretts fight back and take a final stand to help and preserve their family? Director Stewart, in my opinion, does an admirable job in keeping us interested only because with the help of his actors, we start to care for them. We sympathize mostly with Jesse ad Lacy who are the “hearts” of this movie. There is just way too much, in one form or another, that is familiar here and we have seen it all. “Dark Skies” is a “Monster of the Week” movie on a moderate budget. It doesn’t create anything new, relevant or outstanding but uses some tried and true themes and manipulations that helps pass the time without getting to “outside the box.” “Dark Skies” doesn’t try to be brainy and can, to many, seem very dull and disappointing but I enjoyed the structure enough to liken it to putting on a comfortable pair of slippers and sitting in your fave comfy recliner.  It is a slow burn. It is better than average. It sports proficient camera-work and a morose score that is spooky. “Dark Skies” shows some restraint and that works in it’s favor. It’s junk food but it’s junk food that won’t give you a stomach ache. Enjoy!

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Vic’s Classics – Hang Em High (1968)

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“Hang ‘Em High”

Directed by Ted Post

8 out of 10

Director Ted Post ( Gunsmoke, Magnum Force) and TV writers Leonard Freeman ( Hawaii Five-O ) and Mel Goldberg (Bonanza) brought to the screen one of Actor / Director Clint Eastwood’s (Million Dollar Baby, Firefox) more memorable westerns about revenge and injustice. It isn’t by far the most seminal of Eastwood’s westerns of the 1960′s but it is an interesting character study and has enough juice to demand we stick around and find out what becomes to the men that run afoul of Eastwood’s main character named Jed Cooper. Cooper is a no nonsense type like many of Eastwood’s cowboys who happens to be herding some cattle in Oklahoma in the year 1889. As he does he is approached by a posse of nine men looking to get to the bottom of the murder of  the Herd owner. Apparently, Cooper purchased the Herd not from it’s owner but from a rustler who had killed him and posed as it’s owner during the sale of the herd to Cooper. Even as he shows the posse his receipt he is still met with hostility from the men. Only one, Jenkins (Bob Steele) shows a bit of concern and doubt as to Cooper’s culpability in the alleged robbery and murder. This though does not stop the men from taking the law into their own hands and it is this plot device that propels the story and movie forward in an entertaining fashion despite a bit of laziness from director Ted Post here and there.

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2 men named Reno and Miller (Bruce Dern) steal a saddle and wallet from Cooper. The men then grab Cooper, hang him and leave him to die painfully as they ride away. Well, as it happens, a Federal Marshal named Dave Bliss (Ben Johnson of Terror Train) sees Cooper hanging and cuts him down barely alive. Bliss helps out Jed and gets him on a horse and takes him to Fort Grant to let a frontier Judge named Adam Fenton. Fenton is loosely based on a true life Judge named Issac Parker who in real life was called “The Hanging Judge” and didn’t get that name from selling cookies. Fenton finds Cooper innocent and he then lets him free to re-coup in Fort Grant. Eventually he is offered the position of a Marshal and Cooper accepts. On one condition from Fenton: That he does not hunt down and kill the men that wronged him. Later in the film things get hairy for Cooper as finds his saddle on a horse in a small town saloon. He finds Reno who tries to shoot Cooper but not in time and he is shot dead. Jenkins on the other hand gives himself up. As more men are found Cooper is drawn into a moral battle with himself and tries to do what s right by the law. The film straddles those gray areas and Eastwood and Post, both in good form, deliver a decent western with some drama, wry levity and great performances.

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“Hang em High” can at times seem a bit like a carbon copy of previous Italian westerns and Eastwood has indeed done better but I felt that the story, while a bit dated even for 1968, was cool enough to keep me interested. This is done by the good performances here by the large cast which includes Bruce Dern, Pat Hingle, Eastwood himself, Ben Johnson, Alan Ladd Jr., the beautiful Inger Stevens (The Twilight Zone) and a young Dennis Hopper (Blue Velvet, Waterworld) as “The Prophet” who is gunned down by Bliss in a foiled escape attemot. The cast all work well within the revenge tale and Bruce Dern stands out as an especially slimy bad guy to oppose Eastwood. Clint here is stern, gravelly voiced and dead serious. Eastwood the way Eastwood should be. Being Eastwood’s first american western and the first Malpaso Company production, the film is a good indicator from which to forsee some greatness being born for Eastwood’s future movies. The film is indeed under-appreciated and plays out true to form. I feel the film may be a bit under-estimated as well. It isn’t a magical western like “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly” or the seminal “Unforgiven” but it is thought provoking and features solid action and style. Some of the convictions and motivations fall by the wayside though when some characters make strange decisions but these things never distract Post, Eastwood and the writers from spinning a cool and stable revenge yarn. Eastwood finally puts a name to his fabled image of the cowboy with “no name” and here we get a truly interesting side to this mythos. It’s not magical like the Leone pictures but it just fine. Richard Kline’s (Body Heat, The Andromeda Strain) photography is nice and engaging with frames filled with great costumes, grit and dusty landscapes. I thought Dominic Frontiere’s ( Color of Money, Chisum) music was a bit underwhelming but appropriate in the right places. All in all this Eastwood western entry is not bad but it isn’t great either. It strives to work though. I appreciate it’s ability to remain an under-appreciated and oft overlooked movie in Eastwood’s body of work. It’s just that it is eclipsed, appropriately, by better fare like the Leone films and the director’s own powerhouse, “Unforgiven.”

Vic’s Review – Stand Up Guys (2012)

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A pair of aging stickup men try to get the old gang back together for one last hurrah before one of the guys takes his last assignment – to kill his comrade.

Directed by Fisher Stevens

4 out of 10

What the hell did I just watch? Oh man, is this what Christopher Walken and Al Pacino been reduced to? Lowbrow humor about Boners, prostitutes, and snorting prescription drugs? “Stand Up Guys” establishes that it is parody pretty early on but it isn’t even good or witty parody. It’s a bunch of disjointed skit-like scenes that that are neither funny or remotely smart.  It has some interesting bits of the “fish out of water” or “I’ve been out of the game” elements but they only elicited a smirk or a slight giggle from me. I never actually laughed out loud. Not even once. I did sit up and take notice at perhaps the coolest part of this mess but I’ll get to that later. I really wanted to enjoy this but instead watched something that was very similar to the comedy “The Crew” with Richard Dreyfuss and Burt Reynolds. “The Crew” while not a classic either still had some great chemistry among the leads and while the story stalled in places it got the parody right in more than one instance. “The Crew” is even a guilty pleasure of mine. I watch it once in a while.  As much as I want to judge “Stand Up Guys” on it’s own merits I just can’t. The film is too feeble and expects us to enjoy two, no, make that three excellent actors trade very SNL type dialog that seems more appropriate in an “Harold and Kumar” movie. Too bad.

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Director Fisher Stevens ( Californication and Short Circuit) and writer Noah Haidle brings us a movie of firsts. First directing gig for Stevens and first major gig for Haidle for the writing. Unfortunately neither the direction or writing amount to anything that good or funny. Al Pacino ( Carlito’s Way, Scarface, The Devil’s Advocate) plays an ex-mobster simply named “Val” Val is being released from prison after being incarcerated for 28 years. His friend “Doc” played by Walken is there to pick him up. What Val doesn’t know is that Doc has been ordered to whack Val by crime boss “Claphands” ( A name that sounds like a Dick Tracy villain ) and he has until 10am to do it. Val, being quite horny, convinces Doc to break into a pharmacy to get some type of erectile meds in order for him to “perform.” After he takes a handful of them, which is a very stupid thing to do, he has Doc take him to a brothel nearby. A few sex and dick jokes later Val lands in the ER only to confront Julianna Margulies as Nina. Nina happens to be the daughter of their other friend, Hirsch. Nina and another Doc have to wait around after all of the boner humor is done and Val is given something for his perpetual hard on. Ugh. Sometime later after Nina tells the guys that Hirsch is in a home and slowly dying. They decide to pick him up for a last hurrah around town. A last hurrah that includes fast cars, ( with a stolen Dodge Challenger SRT8 no less ), close calls, police chases and guess what? A brothel! Haha, Sooo hilarious and original! I must admit that Alan Arkin was refreshing to watch and it made the movie suck a bit less but even Arkin is stalled here because the un-witty banter and humor is just too pedestrian.

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So, after Arkin croaks, because we don’t see THAT coming. Doc and Val find a naked girl named Sylvia ( Vanessa Ferlito from “Death Proof”) in the trunk of the SRT8 and helps her  get even with some thugs that violated her. Ferlito is quite cute and sexy but here she is wasted. She’s not appealing enough to really like and is forced to deliver a very bad one-liner about “The Nutcracker”  Ho hum. There is dull subplot about Doc’s grandaughter who is a waitress and some money that Doc wants to leave her and then by the third act Doc and Val ponder how things will go down. Will Doc spare Val and defy Claphands? Or will he do him in? Well, by the time the climax and story wrap up I’m not very interested or even care about what happens. Stevens gives his gravelly voiced leads way too much room to go overboard on delivery, exposition and much of the film is spent with the two trading lame quips and one liners. They are given way too much room to indulge. Watching Arkin, Pacino and Walken all together onscreen should have been a hit out of the park here. Stevens takes way too long to let them play well off each other, unfortunately. Most of the scenes with Pacino and Walken has a sort of desperation about it. It tries to be some kind of “Bucket List” meets “Goodfellas” type comedy or maybe it is trying to cash in on some of the vulgar sensibilities of “The Hangover” movies except using a couple of elder actors that should have really dissected this script before accepting the roles. The material is way beneath them and if they wanted to make this work they should have had a director on-board who totally gets the ironies, wit and aplomb that a comedy of this type involves. I can in no way recommend this movie. A shame really. I cringed way too many times during most of the painful scenes with these legends instead of laughing and appreciating the humor that is really lacking here.

Oh and back to the reason I gave this movie it’s rating, well maybe 2 reasons. There is a shootout and the film could have used a few shootouts and the other reason is: Doc and Val quote Nada  ( Roddy Piper) from John Carpenter’s “They Live” The only really cool part of the  movie.

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Brian’s Review – Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

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In a twist to the fairy tale, the Huntsman ordered to take Snow White into the woods to be killed winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the Evil Queen.

2 out of 10

This is a God awful boring and joyless experience of a film. I could accept how dark it is if it were a crime thriller or some form of horror movie where hope has little meaning. But, for a film about Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, you expect it to have some fantasy or wonder in the experience. It isn’t helped by the fact that the producers decided to cast the worst actress of her generation in Kristen Stewart. She is so painfully untalented and brings absolutely NOTHING to any character she plays. And, she can’t emote! I mean, that’s the entire fucking job! Emoting feelings from the script to be an ambassador of the story!

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She has one acting face and exists somewhere between looking perpetually high on weed and in mid bowel movement. The worst part is that she’s playing Snow White. She’s supposed to be the most beautiful woman in the land (Stewart sure isn’t) and her mere gaze draws people in and makes them happy. Are they kidding with putting her in that kind of role? For instance, the woodsman played by Chris Hemsworth (Thor and Star Trek) is all out for himself and could care less what happens to Snow White. A few scenes later, he’s diving into action and putting his life on the line for hers. Why??? They have almost no dialogue to back up that kind of loyalty. So, is he smitten with her? And if so, why? At this point, I was too bored to care. There aren’t any interesting characters in this farce to follow or give a shit about. So, what are we left with? A scene stealing performance by Charlize Theron who’s utterly wasted and a cast of characters with no personality. Oh, don’t forget about “Princess Constipated.” Seriously, just go and spend 2 hours doing almost anything else.

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Vic’s Review – Texas Chainsaw (2013)

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A young woman travels to Texas to collect an inheritance; little does she know that an encounter with a chainsaw-wielding killer is part of the reward.

“Texas Chainsaw”

Directed by John Luessenhop

4 out of 10

Egads. Even though horror fans have seen iconic movie villains like Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and even ole Mikey Myers rebooted, remade and re-imagined we seem to have forgotten Leatherface somewhat. Well in true predictable form we are treated to a grittier, violent and deranged Leatherface but a Leatherface that is actually a type of vigilante or “anti-hero” that is going after some people who either get in his way or have it coming. What Director John Luessenhop (Takers) gets right out of the gate is deftly re-create the climax of Tobe Hooper’s seminal movie. Using some new footage smartly intermixed with Hooper’s. Here he sets things up for us and with precision and gravity Luessenhop manages to invent some mood with dark carnage and twists. Unfortunately, that is all that he gets right. Everything else after the interesting set up is so predictable, fabricated, boring and incredibly dull. I have never been a huge Leatherface fan having only watched some entries of the franchise here and there. Luessenhop doesn’t accomplish much in the way of sparking some real interest all around here. It’s all violent style over much needed substance.

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Some will argue that it is indeed a decent entry because it does deliver some of the more horrific elements of a crazed slasher film but I have to disagree. It delivers all right but it’s not chills and thrills. Actress Alexandria Daddario (Hall Pass) plays Heather Miller who has been notified that her wealthy Grandmother  has left her a huge house and property. After she discovers that she is adopted, Heather reluctantly decides to  travel to collect her inheritance. She gets her  friends Ryan, Nikki and Kenny together for the road trip and they head out. Along the way they pick up a hitchhiker named Darryl. They make it to the house and after doing a walk through of it Heather decides to go and get some supplies from town and they leave Darryl behind to loot the place. Dumb thing number 1. Never leave a total stranger to watch your brand new house which is full of expensive silver objects. And the dumb things continue. One right after a another. We are introduced to Leatherface (Dan Yeager) who survived the attack upon the Sawyer Home 20 years before. He is indeed creepy and very menacing but only in a cartoony sort of way. I just couldn’t take him seriously. So, Heather and her friends learn the hard way that Leatherface comes with the house like some sort of rapid pet. Yikes.

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The devil is  in the details here in this movie and some things do not gel. The film shows a lynch mob that destroys the Sawyer home with fire but 20 years later it’s perfectly re-built. Characters do not age and bodies are found with no explanation. It’s these little things that wreck the film. Well, this and the fact that everything else sucks. There is no suspense. The chases are boring and uninspired. Kenny and Darryl both run afoul of Leatherface in grisly ways that involves large metal hooks and Kenny gets sliced right in half in a deliciously gory and funny moment. Leatherface goes after Heather and the rest and in the escape he causes the getaway van to crash. Heather gets away from the wreck but her boyfriend Ryan (Rapper Trey Songz) doesn’t fare too well. Tania Raymonde (Lost) plays Nikki, who even though very sexy here,  can’t seem to escape cliche territory when facing the killer. The one high point of the film is when Leatherface runs amok at a carnival that Heather escapes to. But it is too little too late. Texas Chainsaw delivers a dull continuation of the iconic and mythical  film. It is riddled with cliche after cliche and it is incredibly boring. Luessenhop fails in his plot and execution. In the last act the movie totally falls apart. In a last ditch effort to impress, Luessenhop reveals something about both Heather and Leatherface that is a bit laughable and trite. I’d stay clear of this mess gang. But if you do have to see it then don’t expect anything other than a bad movie that isn’t bad enough to be good.

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Vic’s Review – Outland (1981)

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In the distant future, a police marshal stationed at a remote mining colony on the Jupiter moon of Io uncovers a drug-smuggling conspiracy, and gets no help from the populace when he later finds himself marked for murder.

8 out of 10

The consistently like-able film director Peter Hyams (2010, The Relic, Running Scared) brought to the screen, in  1981, what is obviously a “High Noon” in space sci-fi movie. His film, called “Outland” stars ex-James Bond actor Sean Connery (Rising Sun, The Untouchables) as Marshall William T. O’Niel.  O’Niel has the pleasure of watching over a Titanium ore refinery way out on a moon of Jupiter, Io. The script written by Hyams as well is thematically a western plain and simple. It wears this theme (and comparisons) on it’s sleeve and makes no pretenses about what it truly is. This is why I like “Outland” very much. It’s about good guys and bad guys. Nothing complicated or very dynamic except for the actors are on display here. There are some very good performances from the late Peter Boyle as Mark Sheppard, the Director of the mining facility. James B Sikking (Hill Street Blues) as Deputy Montone is near perfect here as a by the book law enforcer. Frances Sternhagen is the irascible Dr. Lazarus and she steals every scene she’s in as the reluctant Health officer that is forced to chose a side when the battle comes down to O’Neil and the menacing Sheppard. Hyams begins the film with Jerry Goldsmith’s (who did “Capricorn One” with Hyams also) very cool title track which leads us up to an incident that starts the proceedings. A miner, suffering from sort of mental breakdown or psychosis, freaks out and opens his space suit to the atmosphere of Io which causes him to decompress and die explosively.

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It seems that this miner is not the only one. There seems to be a pattern and O’Niel’s deputies and even Doc Lazarus have their hands full with miners acting violently and suffering from a form of cabin fever. Soon after another miner exposes himself to the Jovian atmosphere by getting in an elevator which leads outdoors. O’Neil enlists Lazarus to help him with these mysterious circumstances and discreetly they discover that the miners all have something in common. A psychotic drug in their systems. Yet another worker also attacks a prostitute and Montone hastily dispatches him much to O’Neil’s dismay. When O’Niel approaches Sheppard he is met with resistance. It seems that Sheppard has a different outlook and philosophy regarding his men. “They work hard and I let them play hard” – is what he tells O’Niel, who seems to have his back up against the wall since no one wants to help him take down Sheppard. Sheppard is supplying the men with some hardcore drugs and he is turning a blind eye, like most of O’Niel’s men, to the problem. For Sheppard it’s business as usual and O’Niel is not having it.

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Hyams brilliantly directs Connery here who was born to play O’Niel. He isn’t as tough as nails as, say, Malone from “The Untouchables’ but he is bad ass none the less. He’s kind, by the book and is a man with a good moral center but that isn’t enough to keep him out of trouble. After he sends his wife and son away, O’Niel now has to face Sheppard. Sheppard receives a phone call from some “benefactors” regarding O’Niel and in turn he sends for some hit-men to take care of this Pebble in his shoe. It’s around here that Hyams jacks up the suspense and the movie truly becomes “Hign Noon” in space. O’Niel searches for help and never gets any and he even tries to enlist some of his men who back out. Only Dr Lazarus is willing to help but reluctantly. So, since O’Niel is monitoring Sheppard’s com system he prepares himself for the impending showdown with Sheppard’s thugs. “Outland” is tight, well paced and supremely acted. Hyams gives us a claustrophobic setting and uses it to maximum effect here. Every set has that dirty tech look and the miners all look tired, impatient and frenzied. Stephen Goldblatt’s camera work is impeccable as is Goldsmith’s score. Long hallways, hatches, air locks, rusty elevators, cramped bunk spaces, an outlandish “sex’ bar and some exquisite shots of Jupiter are all nice touches in “Outland”

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Upon it’s release “Outland” was a bit vilified for it’s obvious western style conventions. Over the years that viewpoint has changed a bit. I applaud it’s conventions because Hyams treats the material and his superb leads with respect. Connery is great in the lead and he and Boyle have some very interesting and cryptic exchanges. Sternhagen steals her scenes as she quips to and fro with Connery. She brings an old school charm as she runs about talking to herself and being jumpy and nervous. The story is lean and the climactic showdown does not disappoint especially as O’Niel learns the hard way that some people he thought he could trust are really deceitful scumbags. Hyams delivers the quintessential western in space with “Outland” He gives us a frightful, real and sobering look of what life out on the frontiers of space could one day really be like. Enjoy, gang! Highly recommended!

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