Saturday, August 31, 2013

Transmorphers

***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. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Not so much "robots in disguise"...unless they are disguised as really, really, really, really, really bad CGI.






Transmorphers – 0 out of 5

I laughed at Transmorphers when I first saw it on the New Release wall of my local Family Video. I shook my finger at it and said, with a good chuckle, “Oh The Asylum, is there no limit to your blatant lack of creativity and out-right intellectual property theft?” I then proceeded to moon-walk away (which I’m known to do in public) from the video and never gave it a second thought…until now.

Is that a giant penis complete with testicles?  Are we sure that Michael Bay
didn't direct this one, too?


Transmorphers is about our world being overrun by robots that are more than meets the eye really bad CG models. Mankind has decided to flee to the underground in order to survive (the writers accidentally put in The Matrix while they were ripping out the script for this one and realized their mistake before they accidentally added a  “virtual reality” element) and, after 500 years (it's actually 400 but I'm typing 500 hundred in order to "out" any fans of Transmorphers when they comment that it was actually 400 years) and in this time it somehow involved amazing advancements in technology despite the fact that the human race is being hunted by alien robots and are, realistically, unable to harvest raw materials and energy in order to create these advancements, but regardless, mankind has decided it’s time to finally strike back and take back the Earth.

But before the reclaiming of Earth happens...something else must happen...
the something else is shit.


I’m not entirely sure why I, out of nowhere, decided to watch Transmorphers. Maybe it’s because I was incredibly depressed or the fact I really wanted to laugh at an absurd, poorly made film (amazingly, watching ANYTHING from The Asylum can result from either feeling) but, regardless, I felt the need to watch their sorry excuse for a Transformers “mockbuster.”

Before I ended up hitting play on the DVD menu, I took a moment to reflect (and not on how my life has sunk so low that I was watching a film from The Asylum) and think about the expectations I had for the film. I knew the movie was going to have shitty special effects, a script that was probably nothing more than “robots come, man fight them,” and some of the shittiest acting people who are held at gun point can make. However, I actually believed that there was the real possibility that this film could have been better than the movie it was ripping off. 

He's smirking because the director told him they would make this shot look good
in post.  The director got him good.


Let me preface that thought…I don’t hate the original Michael Bay Transformers film (the two sequels, however, are crimes against entertainment)—I only hate any scene that has any flesh and blood characters. All the scenes with the Autobots and Decepticons are decent and entertaining. That being said, the film isn’t really that great and really showed a sneak peak at the depths of human sorrow Bay was about to drag your childhood memories through. And, because Bay is just a terrible film maker that believes huge balls of fire is equal to character development and actual story, I thought there may have been a very slight chance the film could have been better than the one they were ripping off (that’s the Holy Grail there for The Asylum).

I was wrong…

About as wrong as this poor girl's decision to do this movie.


Transmorphers is so bad that it actually makes Revenge of the Fallen and that third Transformers film that syncs up with a Pink Floyd album (or some shit like that) look good by comparison. Everything you know and can’t stand (and find absolutely hilarious) about a film from The Asylum is here. The special effects look worse than what some people are crafting with off-the-shelf software for views on YouTube for free (unless you count payment as endless racist comments), the acting is what you would expect if you paid a person in free mints you stole from a hotel lobby and are now covered in lint because the director kept them in his pockets and the movie is filled with ridiculously large plots holes.

"Quick, fire your novelty cigarette lighters at them!"


First off, the special effects: There are only two types of Transmorphers in the film (because designing more would have been expensive) and they look less convincing than a boss battle on any given Nintendo 64 game. You know all the effort they put into how the Transformers transformed in Michael Bay’s movies? Yeah, The Asylum just said, “fuck it,” and half-asses that element like they were trying to win a half-assed contest. But don’t worry, they work around this by BARELY SHOWING THE TRANSMORPHERS THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE FILM!

Come for the big robots, leave because you see very few big robots.


Next up, the acting: It’s clear this film had no script attached to it and the “writer” had no idea what he wanted his characters to be so he allowed the actors to make it up on the fly. Since it’s clear this was the approach, it explains why you have an entire cast of characters trying to be the über-cool badass figure that plays by their own rules and will stop at nothing to be the hero (it has to be the cast because I can't believe the script for this one was anything more than a sentence or two and I'm pretty sure neither of the sentences had any character descriptions in them). They all do everything they can to spit out as many pseudo-military, ultra-lame one-liners as they can (lines like “go, go, go,” “move people,” and “let’s light ‘em up.”) in order to try (and fail) to create an illusion that they are “tough as nails.” I’m pretty sure too that half of the cast brought their own sunglasses to the set in order to really push the “I’m tough” delusion (production already supplied the leather jackets). At least this is the only explanation I can think of why a little redheaded girl with a soft voice that is completely miscast as the leader of the remnants of the human society is narrowing her brow and trying, adorably, to be a rock-solid military leader or why every male figure in the film is trying to craft their own Dark Knight voice and can only deliver lines with their heads tilted slightly to the side (a.k.a. the anti-hero angle).

Having your head up at a straight angle is for villains, man!


Then you have the rest of the film’s problems like how the hell can a civilization that has been living under ground for the last five centuries (I know the only fan in existence of this film is dying to comment with the correction of "four centuries") and have been hunted by giant robots actually invent and manufacturer advance weapons without the means of being able to harvest the raw materials they need for them? Or how on earth they are able to manufacturer a leather jacket for each member of this broken civilization?  Of course, that last part I think has to do with the fact that the production stumbled upon a leather warehouse going out of business.

"I'm going to frown and furrow the shit out of my face to show what a badass I am!"


Then you have the poorly edited sound in this film as the movie will throw lines at you while action is occurring (albeit off screen…because showing the action gets expensive and the director is having a hard enough time trying to control a cast of actors that all want to be Snake Plisskens and Han Solos)—anyway, the characters are saying something and it could be important (but, knowing this film, it’s probably not) but I had no idea what they were saying as the noise of the battle (that I remind you, is not being shown) is drowning them out.  But, knowing The Asylum, the characters were just saying how you were just raped out of your time and money and there's nothing you can do about it.

Imagine The Asylum is the redhead and the blond is the poor sap who paid to
see this.


I didn’t expect brilliance from Transmorphers (just the reality that it could have been better than anything Michael Bay shits out—by the way, what he shits out is explosions). I expected a film so poorly made that the only reason any money is spent on seeing it is due to confused elderly buying the film thinking it’s the “better one” (“better” being a relative term there) for their grand kids or guys like me who really love shitty movies because they are the best form of comedy out there (although I would say that even if that is your intention with this film, DON’T spend a single dime on getting your hands on it. We can’t encourage The Asylum here, people). Transmorphers does its job well…its job of being a shitty movie that should only exist to be mocked. However, it does get to the point that it is so bad that I could no longer find it funny and I just wanted it to end.

Celeste & Jesse Forever

***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. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! This Space For Rent.




Celeste & Jesse Forever – 4 out of 5

It’s so rare that I will find a romantic comedy that is both sweet and funny because, usually, they are all the same cookie –cutter story and tired old gags that always involve some sort of montage of wardrobe changes and that scene that involves a lot of girls that, for some reason, end up falling all over each other when the primary girl’s love interest is in the scene (usually, the girls are on a small boat, mysteriously, and they all stand up or they are on a gigantic tandem bike and they fall over...women in romantic comedies lack adequate balance). Not to mention that every romcom ever made has had Lisa Kudrow in it somehow…even the ones that were made before she existed as a person!

Celeste & Jesse Forever tells the tale of a married couple that tries to remain best friends as they go through their divorce. Celeste (Rashida Jones) is a little controlling and judgmental of others but she’s still best friends with her soon-to-be ex-husband Jesse (Andy Samberg); a far less driven and more emotional person than her. While one of them moves on quicker, it forces the other to try and deal with their own unresolved emotions from the ensuing divorce and try to find their own happiness.

Awww, don't look sad, Jones...you were great in the movie.


Celeste & Jesse proves that it’s possible to have a romcom that not only is refreshing and new in a genre that is usually a tired and lethargic one, but it’s also possible to have a romantic comedy that feels genuine and have some actual heart to it. Writers Rashida Jones (hey, she starred in it too!) and Will McCormack (hey, he was in the film too as a character named Skillz) made something very amusing but heartfelt as well. The characters don’t feel like your sad archetypes you see in every freakin’ romcom and have a quality that makes them appear to be people you would bump into on the streets (and then apologize because you bumped into them...unless you're a dick and you just walked away) and having a terrific cast give authentic performances to back up the pages of the script only added to the realism.

Even the costume department went for realism.  Look at that jacket!  It looks 100% real!
That shit's not CGI, people!



Rashida Jones, other than doing a tremendous job writing the film, is spectacular to watch as Celeste. The rollercoaster of emotions she is experiencing is great and addicting to watch. Even when she is hitting close to romcom cliché territory and is about to do the “I’m going to make an ass out of myself at my friend’s party/bridal shower/parole hearing thanks to the consumption of mucho alcohol,” her performance looks less like a caricature that you would see in a film with Katherine Heigl and more like a person you would actually see breaking down in public when the sadness gets to be too much. Watching her character deal with the life-altering experience of dealing with a divorce and trying to come to the reality that she needs to move on ends up becoming something amusing but striking realistic thanks to a great script and Jones’ amazing performance.

That's how I usually spend my social gatherings I'm invited to.


Andy Samberg is decent as Jesse (actually better than because this role made me forget about That’s My Boy); however, it was clear that this film is more about Celeste’s journey to a life outside of divorce than it was about Jesse’s. While Samberg has numerous funny moments and has even shown that he has the potential to be a decent dramatic actor in the future, he was still difficult to take seriously during the heavy scenes because visions of Hot Rod kept dancing in my head. That being said, I definitely could see that there is the makings of someone who could parlay their comedy career into dramatic roles later on and Celeste & Jesse looked like Samberg’s first step towards that.


Times like these, I like to quote the philosopher Billy Ocean and inform the woman
that is standing at the window to remove herself from the dreamscape and insert
herself into the vehicle.

I guess I could put in a LOTR reference here.
The film also had some great supporting cast that, sadly, weren’t utilized as well as they should. Elijah Wood plays Celeste’s coworker and showed a lot of potential for some humorous and fun scenes between the two but every time it looked like those opportunities were about to happen, the film cut to the next scene. Celeste and Jesse’s couple friends that were getting married in the movie (played by Eric Christian Olsen and Ari Graynor) seemed like they would be a strong force in the story but sort of came and went at various times during the running length. Granted, it would have been nice to see stronger supporting characters make up the background of Jesse and Celeste’s journey towards their new life, this never acted as a hindrance as the film is still really entertaining and heartwarming…and the little we do get of these supporting characters (including Skillz) is still decent and mildly satisfying.

Remember when Eric Christian Olsen was in that Dumb and Dumber prequel?
Neither do I.  What sort of an abomination of a film are you talking about and I'm
not entirely sure it actually exists.


However, I can’t forgive how they wasted Rob Huebel on a character that doesn’t even have a name, doesn’t do anything funny and only has a few lines. Huebel is hysterical and his genius should not be wasted…ever!

This man is worshiped as a god in some countries...well, maybe not but he
totally should be!


Celeste & Jesse Forever exceeded my expectations thanks to a script that is light-years beyond the usual crap that gets shat out in the genre of romcoms. The film is emotional, cute, touching, sweet, funny and heartwarming in so many ways. Add in the great cast giving off great performances and this movie proves to be more than a lame love story that is filled with giggling girls trying on hats set to a lame pop song possibly sung by Katy Perry or perhaps, even worse, a tune from the Black Eyed Peas.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Clear History

***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. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Clear History?  Is this movie about what every guy does before their girlfriends enters the room?




Clear History – 3 out of 5

Since it looks like we may not get anymore Curb Your Enthusiasm seasons, we get the next best thing. Clear History; a film that is basically a longer episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm


Long hair on Larry David looks prett-ay, prett-ay, prett-ay good.


After having a disagreement about the name their car company was going to go with for their revolutionary electric car, Nathan (Larry David) sells his stock in the company and walks away…only to find out that, after the car is unveiled, he would have made almost a billion dollars. A decade passes and Nathan has started his life over again in Martha’s Vineyard and changed his name to Rolly. Everything seems good. People like Rolly and Rolly is enjoying a simple existence…that is, until his former employer Will Haney (Jon Hamm) arrives in the area. Now Rolly must stop his friends from finding out about his past and, furthermore, decides to get a dose of revenge on Haney…

Clear History is definitely funny…it’s just a little too familiar. There’s no point in pulling hairs here because the film is basically just an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm without actors playing themselves. All the gags you know from the great comedy series is here like how Larry David’s character nitpicks little things around him that go on to vex the person he’s venting to and then culminates in an argument between the two people and later pays off with Larry’s character having to disrespected them later on in the story in order to see his own means completed. This familiarity is a tad annoying and I can see why some viewers may be put off by it as it may come off as lazy but it really didn’t bother me that much because I enjoy the Curb formula and I enjoyed its use here.

Or maybe...this was the ninth season of Curb all along!


Larry David is still hilarious as he brings his neurotic ways to the character of Nathan/Rolly (let’s just say it: Nathan/Rolly is Larry David) and there’s a great cast of very funny people backing him up. Michael Keaton, Bill Hader, Danny McBride, Jon Hamm…each of these performers are great in their roles and helped make the film entertaining but some of them left me wanting more.

Liev Schreiber is also in this one.  He's a great dramatic actor but can also do comedy.
Like when he was in that satire of an X-men movie; X-men Origins:  Wolverine.
That one was a comedy, right?


Jon Hamm proves there is nothing he can’t do as he is attention-grabbingly incredible as Don Draper in Mad Men but he has proved on other projects like The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret during its second season, a plethora of online shorts, and 30 Rock that he can do comedy just as well as he can do awesome drama with a side of misogyny, cigarette smoking and boozin’. However, it felt like he didn’t really have much of a presence in the story and the film focused more on the relationship between this character’s wife (played by Kate Hudson) and Nathan/Rolly. More Hamm was needed!

We need this man as our next Batman, by the way!


 One character I really enjoyed was Michael Keaton’s character of Joe Stumpo. Stumpo helps Nathan with his revenge scheme along with his partner-in-crime Rags (Bill Hader). Aside from being my favorite Batman, Keaton is also really good at being funny and he was great in Clear History as an odd, eccentric character with a foul-mouth vulgarity cookie center.

"Wait...did you just say that Hamm needs to be Batman and
I'm your favorite Batman?  Pick a side, bro!"


Hader has his moments with Keaton but not nearly enough of them. Hader is an extremely funny man and it felt like he wasn’t utilized to his potential in this film. If the dinner plate that is this movie needed more Hamm, it also needed another helping of some Hader gravy with it and maybe some more mashed Keatons (oh, this metaphor is going to get stranger, don't you worry…).


Hader gravy can either sound disgusting or a legit brand of canned gravy at your
local grocer...but this is the internet so we already know which direction people are leaning.


My biggest complaint of this movie, however, was the fact that Danny McBride plays Frank; Nathan/Rolly’s friend and confidante—the only man he lets know about his past shame. My complaint isn't that McBride was in the film but how he was used.  I’m a big fan of McBride and I think he’s hilarious—who doesn’t love Kenny “Fucking” Powers—and the movie just robbed me of McBride as he was grossly underutilized. McBride acts more as a background character and is almost never allowed to really shine or be funny and that just seemed like a crime to me. So, there wasn’t enough Hamm on the plate, we could have used some more mashed Keatons with a heaping dose of Hader gravy on it but, even though the Larry David entree was nutritious and filling, we needed a refreshing, vulgar McBride Brew to wash this comedy down (I told you this metaphor would get weirder).

Danny, if you decide you want to start brewing your own beer, I'll let you take the name
McBride Brew.  Here's another freebie; East Brew and Down.


Don’t get me wrong, Clear History isn’t a terrible film. It’s actually really funny. However, it doesn’t utilize a lot of the players it has the privilege of having in its cast and the gags do little to go beyond what we know from Curb. The movie is still very amusing and incredibly entertaining but it just could have been a little more so—or even a lot more so.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Maniac (1980)

***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. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! I'm a maniac on the dance floor...don't worry, referencing that song will come into play later.




Maniac (1980) – 1 out of 5

I committed a sin in the world of films, in that I watched a remake before the original…or, at least, that’s a sin according to the aspiring screenwriter/guy who makes the fries at my local Burger King. Recently, I watched the remake of this film that starred Elijah Wood and, despite some issues, I really dug the film. It was eerie, unsettling and Wood surprised me at how well he can play a psychopath. I wanted to watch the original before I watched that one but, thanks to my daily routine (for example, fighting a horde of ninjas trying to take over the world—you know, usual stuff), it just didn’t happen. But now, thanks to the wonders of a ninja-free day, I was able to watch it. All I can say it that I’m glad I watched the remake first.

The look a commenter makes just before they leave a comment saying I'm worse
than Hitler for saying I watched a remake first.


Frank Zito (Joe Spinell) has some mommy issues and it’s made him a little loose on the nut without a wrench in sight to help him tighten down. After years of abuse, Zito has grown up to be a man that murders without remorse and scalps the woman he kills. And it gets worse…he nails the scalps to mannequins and uses these objects of horror to carry on discussions with his late mother. Soon, Zito meets a photographer named Anna and it appears that she could possibly be the woman to tame the beast...or will she be just another victim?

"It's called 'Pedobear.'  The guy at the store said it matched my mustache."


Since I thought the remake was done well, I had hoped the original would have been decent because of the myth that the remake is always worse than the original. However, like some myths, this one proved to be less than true.  Another myth that proved untrue?  My ability to fight ninjas...seriously, they kick my ass every day.

I didn’t find the film to be very scary and, unlike the remake, I didn’t find much about it to be unsettling.  I just found it boring. Even with its issues, Elijah Wood really made the killer disturbing but the only thing disturbing about this 1980 original was that Joe Spinell just looked like a pervert…a pervert but nowhere near a man who is capable of killing and scalping a woman.  In theory, having a killer that doesn't look like a killer could possibly work but, in this one, it didn't...at least, not for me.

"The minute I grew this mustache and put on these glasses a cop showed up at
my door and told me I was just tried and convicted as a sex offender."


That was the number one thing I that kept me from getting into this movie: Joe Spinell. His performance is flat and devoid of emotion—even when he is having his Psycho moments and having a conversation with his imaginary mother.  Spinell just didn’t look the part of a crazed killer. Maybe it was the pedostache or the hair or his rotund figure but I just couldn’t take him seriously as an antagonist in a horror/thriller.

It gets worse as the terrifying moments in the film aren’t very terrifying (the synth music just failed at creating tension; way to go Casio!) but the movie did have an awesome gory moment that pretty much became the only saving grace of the film. Gore-crafter legend Tom Savini makes a cameo appearance and dies in a spectacular way as Zito blows his head off with a shotgun. The dummy and rig that Savini used was amazing and frighteningly realistic. It was so good that the late Gene Siskel ran out of the theater, disgusted beyond belief.


"This has been a great date.  The only thing that could possibly ruin it would
be if I was killed by a shotgun blast to my face...but what are the odds of that?"


"Dammit, the odds were better than I had originally anticipated!"


To be honest, I’m surprised that the film was actually remade because watching Maniac I saw nothing about it that stood out (aside from the shotgun death) or made an argument that it needed to be re-imagined (well, maybe because it sucks—I guess that’s a reason for a remake). The only interesting thing about the movie is that the song “Maniac” from Flashdance was originally made for this film (because the filmmakers wanted a theme song) but abandoned the idea and the song was later re-tooled. Now I can’t help but seeing the entire shotgun death scene set to that iconic 80s song…that…actually could have made the song and movie better.

Howard the Duck

***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. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! As much as we try to forget, this movie was really made.




Howard the Duck – 1 out of 5

It’s been years since I’ve seen this film (VHS was still the rage when I last watched this one) and, while bored after seeing my prized fighting tigers go round after round in my Hell Dome-O-Death, I decided I needed a good laugh and decided to watch Howard the Duck.


Look at him and try not to laugh at the idea that someone thought this would actually work.

She just got back from trying to nail her son and is now
trying to introduce rock and roll?
 Based on the Marvel comic of the same name, Howard the Duck tells the tale of Howard…he’s an anthropomorphic duck. Through an accident of science, he is transported from his duck world to planet Earth and now he wants to get home. He meets up with a lead singer in a band; Beverly Switzler (Lea Thompson), and together they meet up with some scientists; Phil Blumburtt (Tim Robbins) and Dr. Walter Jenning (Jeffrey Jones), that promise to get him home. After a failed attempt, Dr. Jenning becomes possessed by The Evil Overlord (loosely based on the character from Howard’s comic; Thog the Nether-Spawn, Overmaster of Sominus—yes, that’s the comic character’s real name). Now, Howard and the gang must try and stop the monster from bringing death to the world.


The fact that Tim Robbins actually had a career after this may be proof that a
merciful god exists in this world.


On a high note, Lea Thompson's band in the film has
Rufio in it.

This film is awful but it’s awful in a fun way (fawful)…like Sharknado awful (Sharknawful).  Of course, it's just plain horrible but horrible that you almost forgive it's horrible because it made you laugh harder than most comedies do. Yes, it’s terrible, the acting is atrocious, the story is lame-sauce, the special effects are bad and the jokes are corny but it’s how all these terrible elements come blending together that makes the film an accidental comedy that is hilarious…until you get disturbed by seeing duck boobs.

Actually...this is kinda tame thanks to the invention of the internet.


Originally intended to be an animated film, the crew went with
the bold choice of making a film with an robot duck that looks
like it is constantly catching its parents having sex.
 Granted, I may be bias because I love really crappy movies that fail at everything they are trying to be and turn out to be something that should be aired on old episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 or be done by the alumni of that show in their Cinematic Titanic and RiffTrax endeavors (seriously, Mike, Bill and Kevin…riff Howard the Duck...please?) but I have a special place in my heart for Howard the Duck…but not for the reasons that the director or George Lucas had intended (that’s right, Lucas produced it. Still think the prequels are awful?)


Wait...Dr. Wily was in this movie?

Howard the Duck was a perfect storm of crap that came together to make shitty movie magic! Everything from the terribly unfunny jokes, the awful dialogue, to the way the animatronics on Howard make the character appear, all these elements work in concert to make something that’s only redeeming value is laughing at its very existence.

If it's not getting his ass handed to him by trying to find Ferris, he's getting possessed
by an evil alien spirit.  I tell ya, Jeffrey Jones can't win...oh and then you have the
kiddie porn thing.


Coming back years later to watch Howard the Duck I can say this: The film still sucks…but it’s not like I expected it to get better as the years went by. Howard the Duck is more than just a really bad film that makes me laugh (although, I will admit that the stop-motion animation that was used in the film’s climax was really good) but it’s a lesson on appreciating how good we have it now with comic book movies. Complain all you want about how The Mandarin wasn’t sporting magic alien rings or some other complaint about how the Marvel movies are or going to be but at least they are not Howard the Duck. Remember, this film was the first feature film based on a Marvel comic book. Before this, all we got was awful TV adaptations and now we have The Avengers!


You can't help but wonder if they made this entire movie just so they can have
a duck play guitar.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Elysium

***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. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Where can I sign up to get that exoskeleton that Matt Damon gets in this one?




Elysium – 4 out of 5

Take one part the writer and director of District 9, add in some Matt Damon who is out to kick some people’s asses and then garnish with a heaping dose of Sharlto “Fucking” Copley and you have yourself an awesome sci-fi tale with a title that sounds like it’s some drug from the future that makes you able to see through time!

Elysium is set in the year 2154 and the world is overpopulated and only two classes exist. You have the unwashed masses living in physical manifestations of filth, despair and poverty on the planet Earth and you have the richest and prettiest people of the world living in a massive space station where everything is kittens and rainbows and sickness becomes a thing of the past thanks to state-of-the-art medbays. On the dustball of hopelessness that is our planet, Max (Matt Damon) is trying to stay on the straight-and-narrow after living a life of crime but life intervenes after an accident leaves him with only days to live. His only hope is getting to the space station Elysium in order to utilize those fancy-smancy medbays. However, only the richest and most elite can get there and all others are shot out of the sky (or space). With the help of some agents of revolution, Max gets himself a killer exoskeleton that turns him into a steam punk minimalist Iron Man and sets out to get himself to Elysium. On the way, he ends up getting some information downloaded into his brain that could end the reign of riches but this information doesn’t go unnoticed by a devious government official; Delacourt (Jodi Foster), and she sends out her most insane and violent agent (Sharlto Copley) in order to bring her that information.


                                                                                  Media Rights Capital/TriStar Pictures
Elysium looks like the all-seeing eye of Sauron...but in space!


I really dug Elysium for numerous reasons. First off, I liked the director/writer Neill Blomkamp. Not only does this man have an awesome sounding name but he made District 9 and that film is awesome to the point that words can’t do it justice. So the fact he made this film was enough to get my ass to the theater for this one but the story, the characters and the action were just icing on the cake.  Blomkamp brought in some great camera work that made the scenes on Earth feel gritty, dirty and raw, made the scenes on Elysium look clean and artificial and used some unique camera angles and tricks to make the action seem in your face and almost like a video game. In fact, there’s very little this movie did wrong, in my book.

Right off the bat, I really got behind the story…but I’m wondering if it’s because I would have most definitely ended up as one of those poor bastards on Earth…anyway, the idea that the rich have found another way to elevate themselves above the poor by literally just leaving the planet behind and Major Tom-ing their way to hang out beyond the outer atmosphere was just a cool concept and when you add in the added element of the disrespected urchins below rising up to get a piece of the action, you just have a working formula. Granted, the story had some issues as it tends to shift gears unexpectedly (namely, the film’s main protagonist changes and some characters are thrown in last minute) but I never felt these shifts in the story really did much harm to the film or the enjoyment I had with it. These changes were slightly chaotic but only added to the film, in my opinion.


                                                                                   Media Rights Capital/TriStar Pictures
The rich people on Elysium like to take daily flights to Earth where they moon
the poor people.



The movie also offers up some great sci-fi action and gadgets without getting TOO sci-fi-y. Max’s battle exoskeleton thing is presented in a believable way (I even dug the design of it and how worn it look) and, aside from space ships and the cure-all medbays, most of the sci-fi gadgets have a slightly grounded feel to them and they look authentic to the mythology established. Nothing will kill a sci-fi film for me quicker than sci-fi gadgets that are actually a poorly disguised plot device.

                                                                                   Media Rights Capital/TriStar Pictures
In suits like that, they can be slapping each other and it would look cool.


And as far as the action…while I wanted more of it, the moments that were delivered were raw and satisfying. The fights were often brutal, bloody and enough to get a nice adrenaline fix. The movie offers up enough flying bullets (including cool ones that can literally explode the air around its target) and explosions to satisfy my action boner but not enough where the film became no story and all fireballs. Plus, the fight scenes between Max and Sharlto Copley’s character of Kruger are wickedly entertaining and awesome!

                                                                                   Media Rights Capital/TriStar Pictures
These bullets automatically draw dicks on your face in permanent marker.

The film also has some great and fun characters in it that I was easily able to get behind. Jodie Foster is just wicked and deceitful as Delacourt and her performance matches her icy cold feelings to those that can’t afford yachts (although she was a little strange because she had an accent I, for the life of me, couldn’t put my finger on what it was while I was at the theater—by the way, it was suppose to be a French accent I guess, at least according to Google, but I still found it to be a strange).


                                                                                   Media Rights Capital/TriStar Pictures
Her serpent tongue must be responsible for the accent.


I also really enjoyed the character of Spider (played by Wagner Moura). Spider is the man that gives Max the means to get to Elysium and Moura played the part excellently as the way he read his lines and performed his part was like watching an artist create. There was an addictive eccentricity to the way he portrayed that man that made me unable to stop watching him.


                                                                                  Media Rights Capital/TriStar Pictures
"Okay...I think this is the front end...I think."


Matt Damon does his job as Max adequately and I enjoyed seeing him go from a reckless, desperate man only thinking about getting himself healed to a man that realizes he holds the opportunity to save millions and, reluctantly, becomes the hero. Max is your basic platelet of the hero’s journey character that doesn’t want to accept his destiny. He is Luke Skywalker, he is Frodo, etc. He’s all these men and that makes Max interesting. Granted, the character isn’t developed as it could be and Damon isn’t firing on all cylinders like we know he can but Damon is still out-acting most of the leading men in Hollywood with this role and Max is far more interesting than some other characters that get spat out in our films nowadays.


                                                                                    Media Rights Capital/TriStar Pictures
Now imagine if Jason Bourne got to have that exoskeleton upgrade...


My favorite aspect of the film, without a doubt, had to have been Sharlto Copley. His character of Kruger was just a legitimate badass—and not just because he rocked a great beard.


                                                                                   Media Rights Capital/TriStar Pictures
God damn...that beard is deadlier than that sword!


It’s amazing when you realize that Copley didn’t come from the world of acting but starred in the short that would go on to become District 9 as a favor to his friend and colleague Blomkamp. Then, when the feature film of District 9 is released, Copley is brought back and has a big impact on making the film something stellar and he then went on to be the perfect person to be Howling Mad Murdock in The A-Team film (which, and I await being told I’m a “fag” for thinking this, commenters, I actually liked that film). Despite not being an actor, he has shown that he has more talent than some people who were born into the business or performed acts they wish to forget on a casting couch to get their careers. However, I had my doubts that Copley could be a tough guy because he’s such a squirrely little amusing man but the second I saw the trailer (and saw that beard) I realized that there is probably NOTHING that Sharlto Copley can’t do as he made Kruger a psychotic badass that I wanted to see more of in the film.


                                                                                   Media Rights Capital/TriStar Pictures
I would seriously pay money to watch a Elysium spin-off/prequel that told
the story of Kruger.


I’m sorry to say this, Matt Damon…as much as I respect and enjoy your work; Copley made the film for me!


                                                 Media Rights Capital/TriStar Pictures
Kruger's suit came equipped with a Black Sabbath soundtrack.



Elysium proved to be just an all-around entertaining sci-fi story that I really enjoyed. The story has all the makings of a great future dystopia, the characters are great and the performances are grand…and Sharlto Copley is epic in every sense of being. Neill Blomkamp has another amazing movie on his hands!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Epic

***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. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Maybe the title is just trying to be ironic?




Epic – 2 out of 5

I hate to do a line that is mostly reserved for syndicated snob newspaper critics but you would think that a film with a title like Epic would be less mediocre.

Based on the children’s book comically titled The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, Epic tales the tale of a miniature race of people that exist in the forest and dedicate their lives to protecting all its nature-y goodness from the evil Boggans. The Queen of the forest (voiced by Beyoncé Knowles) decides it’s time to choose an heir but as she is about to do so, the Boggans (who are evil despite having a name that sounds like some sort of British cuisine), led by their dark leader; Mandrake (Christoph Waltz), come in to claim the heir as their own and make it a dark prince that will leave the forest flooded in death and decay. Now it’s up to the no-nonsense leader of the Leafmen; Ronin (Colin Farrell), an idealistic former Leafman (Josh Hutcherson), the daughter of an eccentric scientist who ended up accidentally getting shrunk and is now forced into this adventure (Amanda Seyfried) and a couple of slugs (voiced by Aziz Ansari and Chris O’Dowd) to try and protect all that is green and alive.


This is the big one!  You hear that, Elizabeth? I'm coming to join you, honey!

When this movie was on its way to the theaters I literally had no fucking clue what the hell it was about because the trailers and commercials seemed incredibly reluctant to give any hints to its story…they just really liked showing that part where the fruit fly ages in front of you and dies. After actually sitting down to watch the film, I realize why they didn’t divulge any of the story because, it turns out, it’s just really ridiculous—I glossed over it but for the Queen to pick a new heir, she had to pick from a host of flower buds and if that bud blooms in darkness, the heir becomes evil—like I said, kinda ridiculous but it’s a kid’s movie so I’m cutting it some slack (after all, I’m a fan of a piece of fiction that involves a man dressing up as a bat to fight crime).

Well played, Epic.  He is dressed like a bat...


However, it’s possible that this misdirection might have also had to deal with the film is sort of messy and poorly put together and rehashes pro-environmental themes that probably would have been better received in the 90s than today (after all, Conservatives say climate changes is bullshit and that if the temp is changing, it’s because God did it). Seriously, FernGully did the themes in this film better…hell, I hate to admit it but…*sigh*…god damn Avatar did a better job at delivering a “save the planet” message than this film did.


Somewhere, Pixar is laughing and saying, "Nice effort, Fox."


Despite having decent animation and an occasionally funny moment (very occasionally—I think I only chuckled twice), this movie is a pretty poor excuse for a family animated film. With all the greatness Pixar churns out and even, to a slightly lesser degree, DreamWorks crafts, this film can’t hold a candle to the industry standard that is currently behind held in this Golden Age of animated movies. The film does a really bad job of introducing and developing all the characters and utterly failed at making me even give a single solitary shit about the journey our heroes were on. Why did I not care? All of the characters were one-dimensional archetypes that I’ve seen a million times in films and I’ve seen them done better elsewhere.


Give up, you'll never find the shit I'm suppose to be giving about this film.

"I'll be back, I'm late for my jaw-square-er-ing."
You have the comic relief that offers very little comedy (the slugs), the fish out of water (Seyfried’s character of Mary Katherine), the loose cannon who doesn’t play by the rules (Hutcherson’s character of Nod) and the tough, by-the-books, squared-jaw leader (Ronin). Furthermore, I understood the mission they were on but the film really didn’t do much to really make me feel like they were in any real sense of peril or even a remote possibility they would lose. To put it bluntly, this film did absolutely nothing to make me care about these characters and I can’t imagine that any kids watching the film would find themselves caring at all either...but there’s a lot of pretty colors going on here and that’s enough for the kids (because kids are stupid, we known this).

Just think about this for a second...this little guy had to kill a bat and skin it
to get his bat-cape he's wearing.  At his size, the bat and him are roughly the same height.
Just let that act sink in for a second...


The worst part (and most distracting to me) had to have been the cast that was decided on to bring life to the animated characters. There are plenty of examples of great actors who seemed perfect for their roles; like Colin Farrell seemed tailor made to be Ronin and Christoph Waltz (who is a fantastic actor in general) is great as the villain Mandrake (although, I admit, it took some warming up for me to appreciate him in the role). Also Chris O’Dowd and Aziz Ansari are terrific as the slugs and provide some of the film’s only amusing moments but for each of these, there are a plethora of other actors who either didn’t bring much to their role or were completely wrong for the film.

Mary Katherine could have literally been voiced by any female and it probably would have been cheaper for the film’s budget to hire a professional voice actor as Amanda Seyfried literally did nothing to stand out in her performance. The same can be said of the character of Nod as Josh Hutcherson was clearly only brought in so they could get that sweet tween cash and get the hordes of girls in love with Peeta into the theater. Then you have Beyoncé as the Queen who was only put in the film so they could have a song by her play over the credits (however, I have to say this, this movie actually had an original song in it and I can’t remember the last time I watched an animated movie and heard an original song and NOT some bad pop song they licensed for use).


Of course, the song was "All the Single Forests" so the effort may have been
phoned it.  


Things only get worse as the movie sticks with giving voice acting work to undeserving musicians as Pitbull provides the voice for a frog that has about a total of 3 minutes of screen time and a half a dozen lines. There was literally no reason to have Pitbull in this film. It’s not like he’s a good voice actor (he really isn’t, he sounded lost and like he barely had a grasp on the human language...I'm telling you, he's an alien from beyond the stars) and by hiring a well-known (and most likely expensive) name like the man who is now known mostly for being the guy who has a song on a Fiat commercial and is the guy trying to look cool and master human-like motion in Bud Light commercials (he's an ALIEN!) this film basically deprived work from actually talented voice actors who are losing jobs to guys like this.

"...and then DreamWorks showed up with their thugs..."


More voice actors were put out of work in order to, mysteriously, give a role to Steven Tyler. Tyler plays a worm that knows all about the heir process and the frontman to Aerosmith could not have been the worst choice for the role. Tyler may have a sort of iconic voice (that is best known when playing lame rock songs like “Ragdoll” and singing about having a boner for a guy that looks like a chick) but he’s not a voice actor and it’s painfully obvious as he keeps the same tone and pitch with every line he gives. I could almost hear the collective cries of all the talented people who work on our most beloved cartoon shows wailing when they heard the singer of “Love in an Elevator” was taking food from their plate and money out of their pockets. Shit, John DiMaggio—the amazing voice actor best known for being Bender and Jake from Adventure Time—was in the film as a side character. It would have been better for the film if they just abandoned the man who only aging housewives care about anymore and put someone with acting talent in his place.

Shit, whoever did the voice of that one-eyed, three-legged dog could have done
better than Steven Tyler.


Beyond that, Tyler (like many of the players in this film) just don’t fit the role they are in and there becomes a disconnect as the voice doesn’t look like it matches the body and character. He may be the singer in a shitty rock band but Tyler just doesn’t have the voice of a glow worm. Of course, the film was produced by 20th Century Fox and Tyler was a judge on American Idol, so his inclusion is, no doubt, a contractual obligation.


Steven Tyler's character, seen here holding the exact amount of talent the real
Steven Tyler has.


I love animated movies because the sheer artistry that comes from making them is awe inspiring. That is one thing this movie does well as the animation looks really good. However, it’s in nearly every other aspect that this film just doesn’t look like it’s trying. There are only a few examples of the voice acting being good and, despite being called Epic and having the promise of action, the action sequences are as flat and as boring as the characters and the story.

"Whoo!  Now this is podracing--or whatever the fuck I am doing right now!"


Epic is an animated movie I would only turn on in order to distract some youths for an hour or so (although, I’m not entirely sure it would distract them). I couldn’t find myself feeling a single thing for the characters and, even though it was a major theatrical release, the film felt more like a big budget Direct-to-DVD film that you find in the bargain bin. Sure the film will tell you that over a million work hours were put in to make this film but when the end product feels like a budget release (only with better animation) you have to wonder if, maybe, it would have helped the product if some of those work hours went into the script and when deciding the final cast.