Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wizards

***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 (or other commenters), 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 really didn't find Wizards to be that wizard.




Wizards – 3 out of 5

A couple years back I was told about creator Ralph Bakshi and I was directed towards his very unique animated features Coonskin and Fritz the Cat (he also directed the animated adaptation of Lord of the Rings).  Until this point, I was aware of his existence but never really paid close attention to his projects.  Checking out some of his other works, I found out his did a fantasy film in 1977 that went on to achieve cult status called Wizards.  Recently, I decided to check it out.

Looks like Bender in a red raincoat.

Millions of years after a nuclear attack left the world devastated, the entire planet and its population has changed.  Very few humans survive and most of them have been mutated, and mythological creatures like elves, fairies and dwarves have risen up and taken over.  The queen of the fairies ends up giving birth to twin wizards; Avatar (Bob Holt), who is good and Blackwolf (Steve Gravers), who is evil.  Years pass and Blackwolf is no longer happy with ruling the dark place called Scortch and discovers ancient weapons and old war propaganda films from the days before the end times.  Using these items, he rallies his armies and seeks to rule all.  Now, Avatar must rally his own forces and, alongside his fairy love Elinore (Jesse Welles), the elf spy Weehawk (Richard Romanus) and former agent of evil turned good, Peace (David Proval), strike back against Blackwolf and save the world.

Take a guess which twin is the evil one.

Wizards is a bit of a difficult review for me because I like the imagery and construction of it but the story wasn’t something I found myself being able to get into.  Bakshi’s unique eye made for some truly unique and amazingly one-of-a-kind animated films back in the 70s.  The character and environment design, the trippy use of color and the way he often integrated live-action elements made for an experience that wasn’t like anything else and commanded attention.  However, as far as the actual entertainment factor is concerned, I found this feature to be very, very limited and I had a hell of a time getting invested in the story.

That bridge does not seem structurally sound.

This is an odd complaint but the thing that kept me from getting into Wizards is that it is too fantasy.  I’m a giant geek and I love sci-fi, fantasy, and the likes but sometimes when these genres hit their worlds too hard they lose relatability.  Properties like Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, and the Marvel and DC universes are all over-the-top with their heroes, villains, creatures and worlds but there’s always a grounded feel to them.  They feel like they could exist despite all the eccentricities.  Sometimes these genres hit too many eccentricities and too many clich├ęs elements that there’s nothing for me as a viewer to latch onto and feel like I’m a part of.  Wizards exhibited this as there was just too many fantasy elements and all the grounded parts were elements of war and Nazi imagery—and I’m sure as shit not going to relate to that.  The very fantasy element of the movie was done to such a degree that it kept me from fully investing into this fantasy film.

Also the hero Avatar gave me traumatic flashbacks to when I wasted my time
seeing the James Cameron movie of the same name.

Only a man would think all women in the realm of
fantasy would want to dress this way.
Wizards is a really cool movie to look at and admire the animation and creative forces behind it but it just wasn’t a story that I could get engaged with.  The characters never felt to interesting and were pretty flat and bland, there’s the inherent sexism as all the female character are scantily clad and always have erect nipples for some reason (it’s definitely a product of its time but that doesn’t change that it’s kinda gross to see this treatment of female characters when you watch it in 2018), and Avatar’s journey to stop his brother never had that sense of urgency it needed.  Visually it’s cool but, beyond that, I just didn’t care for it.  Besides, I don’t think I’m the intended audience.  This movie looks like it’s for pothead fantasy fans, guys who watch Heavy Metal and dudes who have dragons airbrushed on the side of their vans.  That’s not me judging them, just saying I think this movie is a good fit for them.

The Babymakers

***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 (or other commenters), 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 think there's enough babies in the world right now we don't need no more makers.




The Babymakers – 1 out of 5

I really like Jay Chandrasekhar’s work as a director and as a comedic performer.  His work with the rest of his Broken Lizard cohorts is fantastic and, together, they have made some great cult classic comedies.  The Babymakers isn’t an official Broken Lizard feature but it is directed by Chandrasekhar and has some familiar actors from the Broken Lizard’s films in it (and it even features Broken Lizard Kevin Heffernan).  I’ve been meaning to watch this since it came out in 2012 but, after checking it out, I probably could have just avoided this one altogether.

Sorry, Jay.  But I have high hopes for Super Troopers 2.

While celebrating their wedding anniversary, Tommy (Paul Schneider) and Audrey Macklin (Olivia Munn) decide they want to have a baby.  However, after a year of trying, they are no closer to getting pregnant.  Discovering that Tommy’s sperm isn’t cutting the mustard, the two search for an alternative and Tommy confesses that, in order to get the money needed for a ring, he donated sperm—his healthy sperm.  Finding out that his very last donation is on the verge of being given to a donor, he gathers his friends Wade (Kevin Heffernan) and Zig-Zag (Nat Faxon) and team up with a criminal by the name of Ron Jon (Chandrasekhar) and decide to rob the sperm bank.

Nothing weirder than when the pet is in the room.

All movies are subjective.  What resonates with one doesn’t always resonate with others and sometimes I feel the need to add this disclaimer—mostly in the cases of comedies.  This is one of those genres that are easily polarizing because a sense of humor is such grand spectrum.  With that being said, I’m sure some people found The Babymakers funny and this feature definitely has an audience but, for me, I just found it really hard to watch.  There are actors in the cast I love and the premise has the potential to be something goofy and funny (with a big dash of raunchy) but I ended up finding a movie that was just grating to watch and something that felt like it was always overshooting the mark and missing the joke.

Damn Peeping Farvas.

Every joke, gag and comedic sequence in this film felt like they were trying too hard.  Each of these moments feel like a person spastically grasping at the part that is logically supposed to be funny and then immediately goes overboard in an attempt to make it wackier.  It made all the humorous moments pretty cringe-worthy because it looked like a comedian bombing on stage and frantically trying to get themselves out of the hole they were stuck in but, instead of improving their situation, they were just digging themselves deeper.  Every joke that just didn’t feel like it was landing was double-downed upon and given extra emphasis.  It was as if the thinking was if they just go bigger or more obnoxiously toward the gag, the funnier it would be or the more distracting it would become and the audience wouldn’t notice that what just happened reeked of more effort than comedy.  There were a couple of moments that I did chuckle at but, for the most part, I just was silent as I winced at the attempted humor.

In case you're wondering, yes, there is a scene where a guy slips on semen.
It's that kind of movie.

Ultimately, however, the one thing that really killed this comedy for me was its leading man; Paul Schneider.  His performance isn’t terrible but the man lacked the charm and the likability to be the film’s focus.  The character already has to ride the line of being both a tad on the scuzzy side and also kinda likeable (I mean he’s going to rob a sperm back for crying out loud).  However, Schneider’s portrayal makes the character feel like a douche bag that is horribly undeserving of his smoking hot wife and lacks any redeeming traits that would otherwise save him face when the misunderstanding comedic bits go down.  Unable to truly get behind and cheer for the film’s leading man ending up harming the rest of the film down the road and made the already cringe-y comedy that much more unbearable.

Maybe it's because I didn't care for Schneider but I didn't see an ounce of
chemistry between these two.

I found some fleeting moments of humor in The Babymakers and I won’t deny that this probably could have been a very entertaining comedy that could have made great use of its unique premise but, sadly, I just couldn’t get into it.  Jay Chandrasekhar did his best to make the material work and some of the best moments in the film involved his character but, in the end, I found this one to be a very forgettable comedy that delivered very few laughs for me.

Kindergarten Cop

***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 (or other commenters), 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.  What is the movie and what is my review?




Kindergarten Cop – 3 out of 5

I haven’t seen Kindergarten Cop since—well, probably since it came out in 1990.  I remember being mildly amused by it but mostly the film is just a collection of a few quotes that have been cemented into our pop culture.  Mostly, “it’s not a too-mah.”  After revisiting Arnold Schwarzenegger in Jingle All the Way for the holiday season (you can read my review here), I decided to check out another comedy from the man and this one became my target.  Like Jingle All the Way, I clearly didn’t appreciate the charm of this one when I first saw it or how much Arnold gives to his comedic roles.

He's a cop, you idiot!

After the only witness needed to convict the drug crime lord Cullen Crisp (Richard Tyson) ends up dead, Detective John Kimble (Schwarzenegger) and his partner Detective Phoebe O’Hara (Pamela Reed) are forced to go undercover in a small town in Oregon.  O’Hara is meant to pose as a kindergarten teacher in order to find Crisp’s ex-wife and use her testimony to bring the criminal to justice but after she gets sick, Kimble is forced to become the teacher.  But can he handle both the investigation and a pack of unruly kids?

Children...is there anything scarier than children?

This is the face I'm making internally all day long
at my day job.
Like I stated, I haven’t seen this one in over twenty years so it felt like I was watching this one with fresh eyes.  As a young man watching it, the film was kinda dumb, goofy fun and it was amusing to see the action star Arnold get stressed out over having to teach kids but watching it as an adult, I’m able to see the charm in it that I didn’t really notice before.  Director Ivan Reitman did a tremendous job of balancing the comedic and action tones of the film—granted, the movie isn’t like Arnold’s usual action films but when he’s acting like a cop and doing movie cop stuff, it doesn’t feel out of place when he’s the fish-out-of-water teacher.  Additionally, the story works for what it’s trying to be, all the kids and supporting players are fantastic but, watching this now (and it’s something I paid attention to revisiting Jingle All the Way), I really notice just how much effort Arnold is giving to the role and how fun he is as John Kimble.

"And now begins my four part lecture series about why it is not a too-mah."

Arnold really makes the character exceedingly enjoyable and is able to balance being both a badass at the beginning at the movie (and almost at a satirical level where he’s teasing other roles he’s done) and then being the lovable scamp who is in over his head.  What really impressed me was how great he is with his reaction to the children and the situations.  He has this perfect level where he doesn’t come off too cheesy and silly and is able to ride the line and play a fantastic straight man to the goofiness around him.  There’s never a hint that he is just phoning his whole performance in and is clearly giving this role as much effort as he would any of his action pieces.

The 90s, a time when your bad guy could have a ponytail and it not be a joke.

I won’t make the argument that Kindergarten Cop is a hysterical comedy that had me rolling on the floor but it is a fun and charming feature that offers up plenty of easy entertainment.  It has a surprisingly longer than expected running length but Ivan Reitman knows how to keep everything flowing and combining that with the performances and Arnold being his stupidly awesome self, the film is a lot more enjoyable and amusing than I remembered it to be.  Now, will I take a chance and watch the sequel?  Maybe.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Trip to Spain

***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 (or other commenters), 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.  What can I do to be included in their next trip?  I won't say a word.  I just want to be there.




The Trip to Spain – 4 out of 5


To me, a trip is running to the store for some groceries or basic necessities (or crap I don’t need) because I just don’t have the funds to do anything luxurious or extravagant.  I mean, in theory I could save up to travel to Europe and see some beautiful landscapes, meet some interesting people and indulge in the local cuisine but by the time I’d have enough money to actually make this dream a reality, some sort of crisis would hit and that money has to put to use to pay a medical bill or make repairs to my car or home.  Welcome to America where the middle class no longer exists and we’re all just different degrees of working poor!  So, not having this option a realistic idea, I’ll just settle for the movie The Trip to Spain.

These movies have given me such preconceived notions of how these two are
together that, in real life, they are probably very quiet and subdued.


Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are back to once again play dramatized versions of themselves.  Steve invites Rob to join him on another tour, this time of Spain.  On the way, the two engage in a battle of comedic wits, relentlessly try to out-do each other with their impersonations and, at the same time, juggle their personal lives and ever changing and challenging careers.  While all this is occurring, the two chow down on some amazing meals at some incredible restaurants and enjoy the scenic views.

"Steve's kidnapping me and taking me on another amazing trip!
Don't help me!"


I honestly could watch another dozen of these
movies.  Hell, I'd watch one where they travel
the Midwest and hit all the crappy chain
restaurants.
Compared to the previous features that centers around these two funny men travelling, absolutely nothing has changed.  Director Michael Winterbottom stayed with the same formula and it works.  On the surface, it may essentially look like the exact same feature but that’s only in the fact that the ingredients are the same.  You still have Coogan and Brydon doing their amazing impressions, there’s still the witty dialogue and dry humor.   Winterbottom still makes great use of B-roll and editing in gorgeous landscapes and the frenzy of activity that is going on in the kitchens of the locations the two are dining at.  There are still some amazing meals that make me hungry looking at them—even now as I type this my stomach is growling just thinking about it.  All of these same elements are blended together and yet, the experience still feels unique and the journey feels completely different from the others.

Yes, that looks good but check out how cool those plates are!


What makes this trip different from the others is not only the new destination but the new developments that we see in Steve and Rob.  Drama over how their careers are traversing and difficulties that exist and suddenly appear in their families help make what we are seeing feel completely different from what we’ve already witnessed.  Add in new discussions between the two and new impressions and the entire film only has a passing and fleeting similarity to what has already been seen.


I got kicked out of a Panera for having an impression contest once.
Granted, I was by myself but I don't see how that has to do with anything.



The Trip to Spain is one of those features that are able to feel both familiar and new at the same time.  Superfluously, the movie is exactly the same as The Trip and The Trip to Italy but as you dive deeper and witness the path these two funny men are taking, you witness just how different it really is.  It’s really no different than having a beer or going out to dinner with a group of friends.  You know these people  intimately, you might even tell the same stories or have a collection of inside jokes and the experience to other people may look and feel the same as the other times you’ve hung out but, when you peel back the superficial layers, you find something that really feels all its own.  That's the charm of The Trip to Spain, it's like a trip we've watched before but with its new locale and new dramatic turns, it feels like a completely fresh journey.  It's just a very engaging and amusing movie that has a lot of charm, two charismatic leads and just the right touch of drama to make it interesting.