Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tokyo Zombie

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Tokyo Zombie - 4 out of 5

You got to hand it to the Japanese, they really know how to do unique--or weird, depending on your perspective.  Sure their video games are really messed up (I highly recommend Katamari Damacy) but their movies sure are one-of-a-kind.  Tokyo Zombie is based on a manga written in 1999 and turned into a film in 2005 about a zombie outbreak that occurs in Tokyo thanks to a huge mound of garbage, human remains and toxic waste that has been dubbed Black Fuji.  When the outbreak occurs, two human survivors and jujitsu enthusiasts declare they are going to make a run for Russia to make it as fighters but fate intervenes and their dreams are crushed.  To make due with the bad hand they are dealt, the richest of the Tokyo citizens build a city and use survivors (all poor) to be their slaves.  The strongest of the slaves are thrown into a pit and forced to fight zombies for the amusement of the rich folks.

Kind of racist to call it Black prefers Africa-Japanese Fuji.

Tokyo Zombie is a terrifically witty and hilarious film that is simultaneously riding the rails of a dark comedy and flying off said rails into absurdist territory as animated sequences and scenes that look like they were lifted from one of Japan's strange video games are inserted into the film.  The only real detraction the film has is the fact it feels like two short films made into a single feature length one through the use of centering the story on the two jujitsu enthusiasts Fujio and Mitsuo.  The first half is all about their survival as the zombies start to rise and the second half has the feel of an entirely different film (a much more whimsical and fantastic one) as the rich made their haven for zombie fights.  However, to call this a detraction isn't the most fair as it really isn't that much of a distraction as it fits with the overall slapstick feel of the film--it's just by the second half of the film, it just turned up the slapstick to 11.

Believe it or not, this van is quite common in Japan.

It's like the UFC...only less homoerotic and more zombies.
Tokyo Zombie is silly, funny and all around entertaining to sit through.  Unlike American zombie films, the emphasis is humor and comedy rather than blood or guts.  Also unlike most American zombie films, there is production value in everything from the look and presentation of the film to the actors involved.  It's clear some effort was put into the film and not just an excuse to get zombie fans to dish out their hard earned cash for some bad acting and even worse make-up effects spewed onto film and a bad script.  Finally, I highly recommend after watching the film with its original audio and English subtitles that one goes back and watch them with the English re-dubbed audio.  There's something magical about the bad English audio in a Japanese film.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Day of the Dead 2: Contagium

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Day of the Dead 2:  Contagium - 1 out of 5

George Romero made history with his dead films in the 60s, 70s and 80s however he was so worried with the film he was working on and so consumed with the end product (which, inherently, isn't a bad thing) that he was foolish with obtaining the proper rights to the films.  He didn't even get a copyright on Night of the Living Dead and the rights to his third dead film, Day of the Dead, are owned Taurus entertainment (yeah, I never heard of them either) and they decided to forgo any attempt at making an original film in 2005 and cash in on George Romero's hard earned success by creating Day of the Dead 2:  Contagium.

Romero Ward?  Subtle. 

The film is, supposedly, a prequel and a sequel to Romero's work from 1985 but it has no ties to the original except for the fact it contains zombies.  If you've seen Day of the Dead, you know the entire world is overrun by zombies but in this supposed sequel, the world isn't overrun at all.  In fact, everything is hunky dory.  Sure, in 1968 (the year Night of the Living Dead was released, by the way.  I guess that's their connection.) at a mental facility in Philadelphia, an outbreak of zombies broke out after one of the patients was exposed to a secret virus.  The facility was destroyed and the outbreak contained (so much for continuity with Romero's series) and in modern days, another mental facility is built upon the foundation of the old and some of the patients find a vile of the virus and accidentally infect themselves and a new outbreak starts.  So, once again I will state, even though the filmmakers call this a sequel to Day of the Dead, there is absolutely no connection as nothing that occurs in the film is reminiscent of Romero's mythology.

Duck face, meet your new male rival...the Chipmunk face.

To put it simply, this movie is just a plain piece of crap.  In fact, it was just embarrassing to sit through as everything from the writing to the acting to the make-up effects as well as the loads upon loads of continuity errors and piss poor editing make this movie too sad to even make fun of.  However, I highly suggest watching the special features on the DVD because the filmmakers believed they were making something amazing and that there is the possibility they could outdo Romero.  Sorry to say but if you're piggybacking off another man's success to try and outdo him, you'll never accomplish that you wish to achieve.

If you look closely, you can actually see the camera crew in the window in this scene.
Actually, you don't need to look closely, it's pretty obvious.

Even casual zombie fans will find this movie difficult to sit through as the lazy writers failed to put in any rules governing the effects of the zombie virus.  Since they decided to do a sequel to another man's films WITHOUT abiding to the rules he created, one would think they would come up with some of their own but they didn't.  Instead, the film's story feels like it was made by several different people who were all in charge of their own sections and didn't bother to contact the others about their parts and the filmmakers just said, "Screw it," and put the film together as is.  How little does this film make sense?  Wrap your brains around these staggering facts:  Zombies will run the spectrum of either being very intelligent or incredibly dumb without any rhyme or reason--granted, the film explains that the initial ones infected will keep their intelligence despite being clinically dead but the film doesn't explain why random zombies can talk.  Also, some zombies contain superhuman strength as one was able to punch through a man...but here's the real kicker of that scene...there wasn't even a zombie behind him.  He was sitting against a wall when the deady punched through him.  So, at this point, one must assume the zombie punched through the wall as well but we would never know as after the character is killed by this punch, the movie moves on without giving the viewer any real clue as to what the hell just happened.

Black crusties on this zombie's face one minute...
Gone the next...

Only to return a minute later.

As if the zombies weren't bad enough, the human characters are no better.  The film takes place within the walls of a mental institution but only occasionally will you know this as our mentally ill friends are introduced with no sign of disorders.  It wasn't until 15 minutes or so in the film that their characters suddenly do a complete change and some start acting like they have the mental capabilities of a 3 year old.  It was as if the actors, the writers and the director said, "Oops, shit--I forgot, you're suppose to be mental patients so act like you're all retards and don't worry about the scenes we already filmed."  Then, to further complicate the matters, the actors who portray the hospital's staff apparently were unaware they were playing orderlies and doctors as even they portray signs of mental retardation--I'm literally not kidding about this fact.  Then, the movie closes with a news crew outside the facility filming the escaping zombies--and then they die because they don't bother running away until the dead are ten feet from them.  First did the news crew know this was going on in the first place?  Did they just so happen to show up and, lucky day, find a zombie outbreak going on at a mental hospital?

Wow, things must be bad at WGND 37.  They have to rent their news van from Ryder.

Day of the Dead 2:  Contagium is, from beginning to end, the epitome of what a bad zombie movie is.  The story is awful, the acting and characters are weak (for lack of a better word) and the entire experience of sitting through this film was one of the most depressing things that has ever happened to me because the filmmakers all had a collective sense of grandeur and a belief they were making the next big thing when it was utterly clear that their only intention was to try and fool audiences that they were somehow connected to George Romero in an effort to make some fast cash.  If there is any justice in the world, it would ensure that not a single dime was made from this horrid piece of garbage.  It's not often I openly support the illegal downloading of movies but I would suggest that if you want to see this one (because you're a glutton for punishment like I am) please illegally download it and don't spend a single cent for this torture.

Porky's II: The Next Day

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Porky's II:  The Next Day - 1 out of 5

A dude talking to his penis...yep, it's a Porky's movie.
Porky's was probably the first sex movie I ever saw as a kid but, for some reason, Porky's II:  The Next Day is more vivid in my memory.  I think because of that iconic scene where the gang puts a snake in the toilet to scare the female gym teacher.  Whatever the case, I've decided to re-watch it after all these years and, like my review of the first one the memories don't match the reality.

You know, for dudes trying to get some ladies, they spend an awful lot of time hanging on each other.
Just saying.

Like the previous one, the movie is about Pee Wee and the gang pulling pranks, trying to get laid and tolerating high school in the early 50s the best they can.  The main focus of this sequel is the gang joining the drama club and getting ready to put on a performance of some scenes from Shakespeare's most famous plays.  However, the local church gets involve and want the performance pulled because they deem it to be obscene and the local charter of the KKK want it over because a Native American is playing Romeo.  The church uses its pull in the government and gets the play called off but now the gang takes action to put these people in their places.

Are they at a Toby Keith concert?

Is that dude's jacket inside-out?
Like the previous film, the biggest problem with this comedy (other than the fact it's not funny) is the fact that the movie is a sloppy mess with no real plot connecting together a poorly put together story that feels more like a series of skits that coincidentally had the same theme so some editor decided to tie them all together.  Also, you would think by the second film I would start to recognize the gang by name or at least their faces but I found myself several times in the film saying, "Who's that guy?"  But when all your characters are cookie-cutter generic templates of 50s high school kids, can you really blame me for not knowing who each of them is?  If they all had stupid names like Pee Wee, maybe they would be worth remembering.

The Rev. Jerry Falwell in a rare performance from his youth.

It's hard to believe that the same man who gave us the timeless (and one of my personal favorite films) A Christmas Story gave us this and the first one.  However, Bob Clark was filming this the same time as the holiday favorite and it's obvious where he put all his creative energy.

Parks and Recreation Season 3

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Parks and Recreation Season 3 - 5 out of 5

Jersey Shore invaded Pawnee?!?  There is no God!!!
When this show from the creators of The Office centered around the Parks Department in the little town of Pawnee, Indiana, first hit the airwaves on NBC I didn't check it out until a friend of mine informed me that a character on the show shared the same name as me.  At that point, I gave it a shot and found that aside from a few funny moments with Aziz Ansari, the only really entertaining thing about the show was Nick Offerman's performance as Ron Swanson.  Needless to say, I was relieved that a character that happens to have my name wasn't lame, a pedophile or something else that could do harm to me as a person.

They're on the internet and not laughing or smiling...they must be watching a Dane Cook set.

Andy...the loveable idiot.
When Season 2 picked up, things got better as we got to see the epic comedian Louis C.K. take on a reoccurring role that I still wish became a permanent one but as I sat down to watch Season 3, I discovered I was viewing what could be the best season yet.  The majority of my complaints from the past have been nearly erased.  Amy Poehler's character of Leslie Knope is becoming more of her own character and less of a female version of Michael Scott from The Office but even more surprising is the fact I'm starting to come around to Aubrey Plaza's character of April.  I've never been a fan of Plaza due to the fact everything I see her in she's playing the arrogant, sarcastic moody chick who thinks she's superior to everyone else but this season saw some development to her character as April and Andy grew more serious and April starting generating some genuinely funny moments, something that never happened the last two seasons for me.  

Is Ron "Fucking" Swanson doing his impression of Kenny "Fucking" Powers?

Before joining Parks and Recreation's cast, I was 90% sure
Rob Lowe disappeared and joined a cult.
But the true highlights for this season has to come from Rob Lowe and Adam Scott who joined the cast at the end of Season 2.  Rob Lowe is hilarious in his performance but I have to say that I think Scott outshines even the bright Ron Swanson in his portrayal of the nerdy Ben Wyatt.  His comedic performances as a fish out of water in Pawnee and the budding romance between Ben and Leslie really kept the laughs and the season going...but don't worry, Ron Swanson is still the break out funnyman.

Ben Wyatt loves Star Wars...that's enough for me to like his character.

This brings me to my final point...I love Parks and Recreation.  I think it's hilarious and I think the character of Ron Swanson is brilliant but a part of me wishes for the show's cancellation.  In the short time the show has been on the air, the character of Ron Swanson has skyrocketed to fame to the point on a near daily basis I have to assure people that my name really is Ron Swanson.  Every time I show my I.D., every time I perform on stage and meet new young comedians, I have to answer the question of, "Is that your real name?"  I've even been rejected by a women because she said I wasn't like the fictional Ron Swanson enough--that's right, women are even comparing me to a totally made up character and expect me to be like him because the writers decided, coincidentally, to use my name.  It's irritating...then I met a man who's real name is Michael Scott and I realized I wasn't alone in the world.

Maybe this Ron Swanson is superior to me.  I could never grow a mustache that fantastic.

Parks and Recreation is a wonderfully hilarious show with a great cast and great characters and, I guess, I should feel slightly honored that in the unfathomable chances of having the show come up with the exact combinations of first and last names and end up with mine is kind of an honor.  But I'm going to say this one last time...Nick Offerman may play a man name Ron Swanson but I'm the real Ron "Fucking" Swanson!!!

Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Wishmaster 2:  Evil Never Dies - 2 out of 5

If you keep up with my blog and the movies I review, you might remember that a couple of weeks ago I watched Wishmaster.  However, believe it or not, it was the 2nd film that made me decide to watch the weak franchise because I was told about this scene...(sorry about the poor quality of the video)

Okay, so this guy in prison asks the Wishmaster to grant his wish of having his lawyer "fuck himself" and that video is what we get.  So, the lawyer's lower half bends around backwards and seemingly rotates in order to properly fuck himself.  Now, having a basic understanding of the human anatomy, one must realize that this still wouldn't work as the part that needs to do the sticking and the part that needs to have the sticking done to it are still not in a position where they can accomplish this wish.  It is this type of "quality" that sold me on watching this horrible franchise and I have to say, I'm not disappointed because this, and the first one, are so bad that they are hilarious to watch.

If you read my review of the first movie, let me assure you that his horrible "evil" voice is still here...
and laugh out loud funny.
In the first film, it's revealed that the Wishmaster (or the Djinn) needs to collect some souls and then have the person who awoke him ask for 3 wishes so that he may become more powerful and unleash his fellow genies unto the world to create a living hell.  Like most horror films, the first film establishes the mythology and the next one reworks, retools or sometimes overhauls the rules.  Remember in the Halloween franchise where Myers was just a guy who went insane but by the 4th, 5th and 6th film it is revealed he is cursed by a cult but then these facts are retconned in the 7th and 8th installments?  Well, in Wishmaster 2:  Evil Never Dies, it's established that the Djinn now needs a 1001 souls (that extra one is for the road) to become powerful enough to grant the three wishes to the one who unleashed him so he can fulfill the prophecy.  Apparently, in the first one, these 1001 souls weren't required.

"I made a poopy."

It looks like this prison guard is yelling at the Djinn but he's
actually complimenting him on his wonderfully soft skin.
That's basically the story of the film--only this time the one who awoke the Djinn is a art thief who's boyfriend dies in the robbery, she's grief-stricken by it for 10 minutes before rekindling a lost love who became a priest and is a little too quick to believe her about the Djinn.  A little different from the first one but the biggest change in this film is the fact that the Djinn pretty much doesn't require the phrase "I wish" anymore and the ironic twists to the wishes he grants are far lazier and anything but ironic now.  Take the lawyer scene for example.  In fact, the writing is so lazy with its "be careful what you wish for" theme that, at one point, an officer of the law holds a gun to our genie (and if you read my review of the first one, looks more like a car salesman than a evil genie) and tells him to freeze.  The Djinn states if that is what he wants, the cop says "yes" and the Djinn freezes him.  Not very ironic and there wasn't a single point where the phrase "I wish" or "I want" or even a "would you kindly" given to warrant an actual wish.  Yes, the writing actually got lazier and weaker than the first one.

Nice suit, your transformation to car salesmen is complete.

Now I sound scathing and I make the film sound like a piece of crap but I want to assure you that it is, in fact, an absolutely horrible film.  However, it is in the craptastic nature of this film that makes it genuinely entertaining--just not the way the filmmakers wanted.  The movie is so awful that it is easy to laugh at and make fun of and it is in this that the movie becomes fun to watch.  Yes Wishmaster 2:  Evil Never Dies sucks but it sucks on a level that still makes it a blast to watch.

Hobo with a Shotgun

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!
Hobo with a Shotgun - 4 out of 5

Give the movie some credit, it promises a hobo with
a shotgun and it gives you a hobo with a shotgun.
The name says it all, Hobo with a Shotgun is a exploitation film that heralds back to the days of grindhouse films with a hint of a Troma feature thrown into the mix.  The film is based on a fake trailer that won a contest held by Robert Rodriguez when the Grindhouse double-feature was on its way to the theaters.  After winning the contest, it was shown in areas of Canada with the film and was then produced into a feature length film.  In doing so, it proved that films based on phoney trailers have the possibility to actually be entertaining--something Robert Rodriguez's Machete wasn't able to prove.  Then, the film also threw it in Rodriguez's face as it proved to be a better example of what a grindhouse film is suppose to be and look like.  Apparently Tarantino was too busy acting in Planet of Terror to show Rodriguez that simply putting film scratches in your movie doesn't make it a grindhouse feature--things like big budgets and grandious special effects are the exact OPPOSITE of what it means to be grindhouse.  At least Tarantino provided like a boss with Death Proof.
Eccentric characters?  This movies got 'em!

He looks like he's going to heal you with faith...
Hobo with a Shotgun is about...wait for it...a hobo (played by Rutger Hauer) who rides into a city named Hope Town (but known as Scum Town) on the rails and discover that the city and the cops are all run and owned by a demented man who has the vague appearance of a cheesy big tent faith healer named Drake with his two equally demented kids by his side.  Under Drakes reign of terror Scum Town is filled with drugs, torture and murder around every corner.  This filth and disease gets to our hobo friend and he starts to dish out justice with...wait for it...a shotgun.  Along the way he learns the depth of Drake's control, the eccentric cast of lackeys he owns and forms a friendship with a local prostitute.
Look out, 80s Tom Cruise has a gun!

Hobo with a Shotgun isn't going to win any awards and has the real danger of people judging this film entirely by its title.  The reality is Hobo is actually a very witty film that, at the same time, is a parody and an homage to low budget, blood-enriched violent films of the 70s and 80s.  Everything from the opening title sequence to the lighting and overall look of the film appears to be something that easily could have been in your local seedy theater for midnight showings during the days of disco.  Add to the fact the film is very amusing and the fact Rutger Hauer is amazing as the hobo, fans of the grindhouse and fans of film in general will enjoy how smart this silly movie really is.
Did I mention this film contains a hobo with a shotgun?

Wait a minute...Drake had a pet octopus monster and
this is the only screen time it gets?
The film is unapologetic with its amounts of blood and gore as our hobo savior deals out justice one shell at a time and its even more unapologetic with the amount of profanity the movie dishes out as dialogue.  The reality is, it's easy to write off Hobo with a Shotgun as a bad movie for these aspects however, this is an onion of a film.  Believe it or not, the movie has layers and when you look past all the rich blood flow and the river of F-bombs, what you find is a film that was cultivated and shaped by individuals who really know how to make a movie and know more than a little about film history.

Friday, January 27, 2012


***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

50/50 - 4 out of 5

Based on the real life experiences of Will Reiser, 50/50 is about a young man diagnosed with cancer that leaves him a 50/50 shot of surviving (that's how they got the title!).  The immensely talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as the health-failing Adam.  Seeking help and support from his girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), he is awarded only with her infidelity but he finds the support he needs from his best friend (Seth Rogen), a young therapist (Anna Kendrick) and an over-bearing, worrywart of a mother (Anjelica Huston).

Two dudes shaving a head...I think this is the male drama equivalent of a romantic comedy
"hat trying-on" scene.

I'll be honest, I'm a Matt Fewer fan.
Critics have called the movie "absolutely hilarious" and "laugh out loud funny" but I didn't see this in the film.  While I really enjoyed the movie and found it to be a great drama with Gordon-Levitt giving an Oscar-worthy performance, I didn't really find it that funny.  But I think it has to do with the fact that the majority of the comic relief comes from Seth Rogen and, even on a good day, he doesn't really make me laugh very much because he plays the same character in every film he is in.  Granted, he is actually playing a fictionalized version of himself in this film and it was he who convinced Reiser to write the screenplay about his real-life events but the whole foul-mouth, pot smokin', annoying laugh pervert but somehow loveable character Seth plays all the time got old by his third movie.  The formula I've found that works for me, personally, with Rogen is:  Less is more.  Whenever he plays a small role in the form of a sidekick or cameo, he always delivers a memorable performance but when he dominates a movie, he seems to take more away than add to the project.

Wow, The View is just getting worse.

Other than the fact that I didn't find the film as funny as others say it is, the one thing I would have like to see expanded on was Adam's relationship with two other cancer patients he meets while undergoing chemotherapy.  Max Headroom (Matt Fewer) and Philip Baker Hall, play Mitch and Alan, and help Adam through the anxiety of the cancer treatments and introduces him the medicinal effects of marijuana.  I really enjoyed these two characters and would have like to see more screen time for them but despite the limit amount of screen time, they still delivered healthy performances that helped the film keep going.

Both are trying to deny smelling it because they don't wish to be the one who dealt it.

In the end, 50/50 isn't the comedy I was expecting going into the film but, instead, found a spectacular drama that, with the exception of Rogen, had a terrific cast giving their all to their roles.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt has proven he's come a long way from 3rd Rock from the Sun and should DEFINITELY feels robbed by not getting a nod from this year's Academy Awards.  In fact, the film was so great with its story, heart and emotion, the entire cast and crew should be upset they weren't acknowledged by the Oscars.  Especially the Best were robbed most of all.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Final Destination 5

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Final Destination 5 - 3 out of 5 

The Final Destination franchise is, and I'll admit it, a HUGE guilty pleasure of mine.  They are over-the-top silly, the stories are ridiculous, the acting is ALWAYS overdone and the sheer fact the movie tries to sell the idea that human beings pretty much explode like a water-balloon full of red Kool-Aid at the slightest impact makes these movies a ball to sit through.  In my opinion, the only one that sucks is the first one as it tries to be a legitimate horror film before deciding that cheesing it up with its Mouse Trap, Rube Goldberg style of death sequences was the true route to take and, when they decided that, the films only became more entertaining.  Even better, the last two were released in 3D as if the producers were like, "Hey, we know our movies are pieces of shit but at least let's make them fun pieces of shit."
"Hey, a wrench is flying through the air.  I'll catch it with my face!"
If you're unfamiliar with the story that surrounds a Final Destination film, have no fear because they're all basically the same.  At the start of every film, our characters are introduced moments before they are brutally killed in some sort of tragedy.  The first film involved a plane disaster, the 2nd involved a major car pileup, the 3rd held a rollercoaster out of control, the 4th was panic at the race track and this one has a suspension bridge collapse.  However, this destruction we see is actually a premonition of one of the characters and, through this character's seeming insanity, they end up grabbing self-preservation by the short hairs and takes some others with them.  However, Death doesn't like when he's cheated and now the grim specter of the afterlife is out to reclaim those who dodge the metaphoric bullet.
Not only does the movie make you suspend disbelief for the outlandish death scenes but it
pushes it further by trying to sell you on the idea that this character is a "ladies man."

The true magic of these films and what really made the 5th installment a blast to sit through, is the death sequences.  The first film attempted to make all the deaths look like tragic accidents that could be easily written off as such but as the franchise grew, these accidents were built higher and higher and ended up resembling the cherished childhood board game of Mouse Trap--only Death's Mouse Trap actually works.  Death sets up a series of events that will ultimate build upon each other until the desired outcome of a bloody end is achieved...and believe me, the ends are bloody in this one!
I didn't know Tom Cruise cloned himself.

To make the deaths even more entertaining, the filmmakers decided to thrown in a bunch of Red Herrings in order to thrown the fans of Final Destination off the scent of the untimely end.  Just when you think you know how one of the characters is going to see the other side--BAM!!!--the movie throws a curve ball and you get a different result.  This change, as well as stepping away from the bad dark comedy The Final Destination (the 4th one) became were incredible improvements on the franchise and, I'm not usually one to show support for a sequel, but it makes me want to see more of them because these movies make me laugh so hard!
Get used to this face, it's the only one she makes the entire movie.  I'm not quite sure if she's sick,
irritated or possibly stoned.

Todd's voice scares the crap out of me.  You could
probably make a horror film of him reading the
McDonald's Dollar Menu.
Forgetting the first one (which contained Stifler), there's never been many known names taking a place on Death's Hit List, however, Champ Kind, David Koechner, stars in this one and the franchise sees a return of the creepy coroner who has a disturbing amount of information of the goings on, Tony Todd (Candyman).  Seeing Todd once again in the film (and not just a voice like he was in 2 or 3) is a real treat to both horror fans and fans of the franchise but I have to say I was slightly disappointed with what little Koechner brought to his role.  Koechner is a very funny man and could have brought some great laughs to a horror series that is already hilarious from its fantastic story's perspective but, for the most part, he was just there as a role filler.  This really isn't a critique on his acting as it was obvious the fault was in the writing and the fact his character didn't have much presence in the script.

Final Destination 5 is a great addition to the franchise and a sequel that brought new life (no pun intended) into the series--enough so that it is completely reasonable to have a couple more movies (hey Hollywood, make more of these movies and less Paranormal Activites.  At least the Final Destination movies don't put people to sleep!)  Final Destination 5 is for all those who don't take their horror films too seriously and just want to pile on the couch with some buddies and laugh the night away as you make fun of a movie that is pretty obviously out to be made fun of.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Real Steel

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Real Steel - 3 out of 5

When I first watched the trailer to Real Steel all I could think of was, "Hey, they made Clue into a movie and Battleship is coming out, why not Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots."  This prospect of another game becoming a movie got me excited to once again attempt to sell my script of turning Twister into a romantic comedy...I already have the tagline.  "Right hand blue, left hand love."  However, after watching the movie, I realized this movie has less to do with the game that knocks robots' blocks off and more to do with the 1987 classic with Sylvester Stalloone Over the Top.  Only instead of a boy and his father learning to love each other in a truck through the use of arm wrestling, we get a boy and his father learning to love each other in a truck with robot boxing--also the robots are better actors than Stalloone.

"About to finish robot:  Would you like me to continue? Yes or Cancel."

In the not to distant future, boxing isn't violent enough for the unwashed masses so people build robots to kick the crap out of each other.  One washed up operator (Hugh Jackman), after losing a battle against a bull (that's right, his robot is fighting a bull at the beginning of the film--the sad part is, this will probably actually become a reality in the future), discovers that his ex-wife died and he has to give up custody of his son to his former sister-in-law.  Jackman agrees to take the kid for the summer before giving him up permanently and the two hit the robot boxing scene with a robot that, in all reality, should just be a punching bag and not a champion.  However, this means the robot is the underdog and that means he's got heart (figuratively, he's a robot after all) and works his way up to fight the World Robot Boxing champion Zeus.

How come when actors get a controller of any kind in their hands in movies they have to
use it like they are having a spastic seizure?

In a nutshell, Real Steel is just plain silly.  The premise is ridiculous and, as if to make it even sillier, the filmmakers take the movie WAYYYY too seriously.  It was as if director Shawn Levy was making the robot equivalent of Rocky.  As the story sets itself up, you settle in for one cliche after another in the world of underdog sports films--and when an estranged father and son are thrown into the mix and you're in for even more cliches.  What you would expect  happens as daddy and sonny boy don't get along at the beginning but end up finding mutual ground in the form of kicking metal butt and in the raining pieces of shredded steel and nuts and bolts, their begrudging respect turns into affection.  

That's a smile that screams "I didn't flush."

I see the kid from Star Wars Episode I:  The Phantom
hasn't aged a bit.
Once the kid is introduced, you knew this was going to happen so I'm going to throw this out there...the movie could probably have been better if he wasn't in it.  Had the movie been just about a washed up operator trying to dig himself out of the pits of the robot boxing world, this movie would have been a little more unique.  Also, the kid's character isn't helped by the fact that the actor playing him is absolutely awful to watch in action.  Then, as if the filmmakers are giving you bait to hate the kid even more, dances sequences with the kid and the underdog robot (named Atom) are thrown in before robo-bouts.

Seriously, the movie could have done without these scenes.  I get it, a robot doing the robot is cool.

Error 404: Punch Not Found
That being said, Real Steel isn't a total stinker.  The special effects are great and the boxing scenes (despite being done by robots) are genuinely entertaining.  Also, the future they show is realistic and not to over the top.  However, with the cliche themes littered within the story and the annoying boy only makes the film passably entertaining to watch and to give it a single shot.  But if Optimus Prime showed up in the end to take out Atom and Zeus and take the title of World Robot Boxing Champion, then the movie would have made it to a 5 out of 5.