Badges of Fury (Review)

badges of furyI don’t know where to start or where to begin. Let’s cut to the chase;

Final Rating – 3.5 / 10. Awful directing. Awful plot. Awful jokes. Awful fights. Spectacular cleavage…

When ‘spectacular cleavage’ isn’t nearly enough to garner a film worthwhile status, then everything else must be horribly wrong. That’s certainly the case here with Jet Li’s hands-down worst film I can ever recall.

He is Huang, a grizzled seen it all cop teamed with young and headstrong Wang, under the guidance of a determined female cop Liu as they search for an answer to how three young successful men could be killed in plain sight with big smiles on their faces.

But that’s not important. Nothing here is. I just had to put fifty or so words in before I start bagging this inept effort out.

That plot might be silly and requiring wilful stupidity from the audience, but it could have worked in better hands. Here every lame joke is punctuated by an equally bland sound effect. I kept waiting for “BOING!” to splash upon the screen in garish red writing. Every stupid occurrence is met with a bug-eyed ‘isn’t this crazy’ look from an actor who was probably crying on the inside.

As for the cleavage? It is spectacular and hovering just below a prime suspect’s shapely neck. You won’t have to search for it, the director salivating chest-cam will ensure the goods are front and centre with embarrassing frequency. Like a one trick pony who shamelessly keeps going back to his one trick instead of giving up.

This is a wannabe Kung-Fu Hustle that is so far off the mark that it not only misses the dartboard but somehow also the floor. It would seem impossible that someone could find a cast, secure a budget and spend any amount of money and come up with something this inept. But here you go.

I’m sorry Jackie Chan and The Spy Next Door, but we have a new clubhouse leader in the category of ‘Once essential martial arts legends consigned to accepting horrendous films’. This will take some beating from here.

Final Rating – 3.5 / 10. What I already said…

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Mimic 2 (Review)

mimic 2Mimic was a Guillermo Del Toro helmed giant mutated bugs as serial killers film. Despite his obvious flair it was pretty unremarkable. Somehow a sequel was greenlit.

Miss Remy was apparently in the first film, and while I saw that film recently I could not recall her presence. Strange I could not recall her given she looks like a grown up Chucky from Child’s Play

But she’s here, as a part time teacher and part time bug expert. When not part timing somewhere Miss Remy is a serial dater, an idiot attractant with no luck at anything resembling a decent guy.

Then her dates start showing up dead. Not only dead, but in one case literally faceless.  Remy becomes a suspect. But not even this film is daft enough to try to drag that out.

Nope, this is more giant bugs. Bugs that know when someone is looking, where to stand so that a burst of steam or a blinking lightbulb will hide them. Bugs that know which human is looking for them, and which is not.

Bugs that want Miss Remy.

The bugs here are far more direct and aggressive, rendering all of the ‘standing in the shadows’ stealth pointless with continued full on assaults.

Eventually the teacher, a cop and a couple kids get trapped in a school aka ‘the nest’, and she gets to explain again and again the finer points of facing down giant bugs using gross bug facts, never pausing long enough for someone to ponder ‘would hitting them in the head with a large blunt object work?’ Because that would be crazy.

Almost as crazy as making a pale replica of an unlikely film using less than half of the budget, ten percent of the cast and then settling for frankly D grade special effects, the kind of which would embarrass any current day to show.

Final Rating – 5 / 10. Hollywood will go to silly lengths to build a franchise if it can, this is one that should scurry back under the fridge as quickly as it can.

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The Big Blue (Review)

big_blue_ver4Jacques (Jean-Marc Barr) and Enzo (Jean Reno) have known each other since childhood. For the bulk of the film they are adults, but it was as children that they swam in the beautiful pristine waters of the Mediterranean, becoming known for their swimming prowess – specifically their ability to remain underwater for long periods of time without breathing apparatus.

Despite knowing each other for decades, Jacques and Enzo were never close, being competitors might bring respect, but it doesn’t automatically bring friendship.

It is competitive fire that impels Enzo to track down Jacques over two decades since their last contact, and not to discuss the past, but to invite him to take place in the World Free Dive competition.

Enzo would travel countless miles to see a man he hardly knows face to face, to offer to pay his way into a competition, because Enzo wants to beat him.

Free diving is apparently a matter of depth. The diver summons the energy and courage above the surface of the ocean, draws his last breath (for now), before being dragged beneath the cold waters by a rope. The greater the depth, the bigger the achievement. The act takes composure, belief, the ability to cope with extreme cold, and of course the capacity to hold one’s breath for prolonged periods.

Enzo is the reigning world champ, but Jacques is a well credentialed free diver already, and swiftly proves his peer.

With days between dives, Enzo and Jacques have much time to reminisce and catch up. Though neither have changed much since childhood. Enzo remains brash and bold. He yearns for acknowledgement and the admiration of others. Jacques is more introverted and quiet.

Their only shared trait is that they would rather die than accept the other as their better.

This is never more evident than when Johana the American insurance assessor arrives, fascinated by what free diving represents and, it would seem, one of the pair.

The Big Blue clocks in at over two and a half hours. With splendid Mediterranean backdrops and beautifully shot vistas, it is serene and hypnotic, punctuated only by the slightly Chaplinesque shenanigans that director Luc Besson seems to love.

As a love story between both man and woman and men and competitive fire, it is perhaps a film to be admired than captivated by, but I can see how some people can become besotted by The Big Blue, just as Enzo, Jacques and Johana are.

Final Rating – 7 / 10. Sounds sillier when you call it what it is: a holding the breath competition.

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The Fortress & The Fortress 2: Re-Entry Reviewed

fortress_ver2Christopher Lambert is Brennick. He is married to Mrs Brennick (natch) and between them they have made the crucial mistake of having a second child.

Now might be a good time to mention that in this future having a second child is an arrestable offence…

The penalty – which seems harsh in any language – is a sentence in a maximum security prison, with internal devices that cause great pain if you wander outside marked areas; or if the warden decides you’ve earned a jolt. Which is often, because Poe (Kurtwood Smith) the warden is a prick.

Brennick must either find a way to get to the women’s wing which is kept elsewhere, or escape the inescapable facility, all while dodging real criminals who did not like his work in Mortal Kombat (and I don’t care if that film came out later. This one is set in a future where it didn’t)…

The production looks like a cut-rate version of Total Recall, which in itself isn’t a surprise as apparently Arnie was to star in this film. When he opted out they slashed the budget and whacked Lambert in. The film is more violent than you might think and blood gushes freely in some scenes, but not in inventive ways.

I could try to conjure up some fluff about how Fortress has fresh ideas and a novel approach but I’d be lying. There’s the bad inmate, the bad guard and the bad warden. There’s the techie inmate, the old wise black inmate and the quiet introverted inmate.

Most of all there’s Lambert, who hasn’t a single distinguishable characteristic that can give a hint as to why he was a minor blip on 1990’s b grade cinema. Obviously he lucked into Highlander but surely that wasn’t enough?

Nonetheless they try and fail here to impose a franchise upon us, and while the premise is proven reliable and some of the low budget ideas initially mildly interesting, there isn’t enough here to warrant a second glance.

Final Rating – 6 / 10. Lock Up with a Total Recall look via The Island.

fortress 2The Fortress 2

Remember about twelve words ago when I said Fortress wasn’t worth a second glance? Welcome to Fortress 2: Re-Entry…

Brennick is recaptured and chucked right back into a new facility watched over by Pam Grier. This time it’s in space.

Then, it’s tick off the prison cliches in space. They even use the ‘loop the security video to fool everyone that nothing is happening’ trick.

I watched both of these films last week and am already mixing them up. Just know that neither are worth watching, but if you absolutely must, make it not this one.

Final Rating – 5 / 10. The Fortress via an Incredible Entertainment Shrinking Machine.

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Suicide Squad (Review)

suicide_squad_ver12Like Watchmen – itself a disappointing conglomeration of inferior superheroes – Suicide Squad spends an interminable period of time introducing our discount rack dynamos, before ignoring most and focusing only on the two main ones…

We have Floyd aka Deadshot (Will Smith). He can shoot good. He is bad.

We have Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). She is the Joker’s girlfriend. She is bad.

We have Digger aka *ugh* Captain Dingo (Jai Courtney). He is an awful Australian stereotype. He is bad. For reasons beyond behaviour.

But don’t worry, we’re already into the filler.

We have Chato aka El Diablo. He can spontaneously erupt into flames. He is so bad he doesn’t trust even himself.

We have Waylon aka Killer Croc. He is apparently part reptile, but he proves how little this effects him by acting ‘urban black’, so that’s nice. Oh and he is bad too.

Every character introduction is accompanied by a noisy song. As a matter of fact almost every action regardless of how banal or inconsequential gets its own theme music, played by the Lord of Over-Compensating.

This is like being dragged to a dinner party you don’t want to go to and being introduced to every single moron there

These bad dudes and dudettes are summoned by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) who doesn’t have an aka, so I’ll give her one; she can be The Narrator. No, make that Ms Exposition. Or could it be Madam Lazy Plot Device? How about The Introducer?

So Ms Exposition tells the assorted bad types that they are to bring someone even badder than the, to justice. She is Dr June Moore. She has an aka as well, namely The Enchantress.

Then Deadshot says “What are we, some kind of Suicide Squad?”, so now even the stupidest person on the planet can ‘get’ this.

Of course it is rarely that easy. Only here it totally is. The Enchantress sends waves of mindless minions toward our wisecracking weirdos.

In a guilt free manner these… bad guys… creatures… things are dispatched, as one by one these former ‘bad guys’ learn to trust one another, to work together, to value each other, to value themselves. To love again.

Probably.

This is such lazy filmmaking. One rid intro, one third walking to the finale, one third killing our hopes and dreams. Will, Margot and Viola get all the lines, and despite the publicity Jared Leto’s Joker proves exceedingly forgettable.

I recently lamented that Deadpool missed the point and dumbed itself down in the pursuit of an edge. Well that film looks pretty cutting edge when compared to this colossal misfire.

The irony is that Suicide Squad only exists because Hollywood seems out of good superhero properties, so it settled on a self professed ‘bad’ one, and then didn’t really try to make it good.

Final Rating – 5.5 / 10. The sad thing is that this isn’t totally horrendous, and that with a bit more thought it could have been good. But again they settled for star-power and pre-release bluster.

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Alien Uprising (Review)

alien uprisingIt was a good 35 minutes into Alien Uprising and despite clear recollection that I had already seen the title in the credits, I was positive I was watching a different movie.

The first half hour has idiots clubbing, a one night stand, the requisite hangover, morning grumpiness and then finally… Aliens.

But we never see the aliens. We eventually realise that this is for no creative reason, it’s because they are prolonging the disappointment.

You cannot delay the inevitable forever though. Like 28 Days Later this is a film of two halves, unlike that film the first is terribly boring and the second just terribly terrible.
JCVD shows, but this is not a JCVD movie. This is not much of anything beyond morons talking incessantly as a cameraman circles them (seriously it happens like eight times).

The aliens show up but they look like the atrocious special effects that they are. But they are not even here for any reason beyond getting the film green lit. They, like the human characters, are not here to further the film, just to pad out the ninety minutes and give a buzz word to the title. A more apt title would be Cinematic Abomination.

Final Rating – 4 / 10. If this isn’t enough the film closes with an unbelievably misguided and ill fitting ending about rape. So that’s nice.

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A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Review)

ai_artificial_intelligenceIn the future, robots can do it all. But can they love?

Well maybe, but what AI Artificial Intelligence proves, they can’t automatically make something interesting.

Lost a loved one? Take one of our robots for a trial run. Guaranteed to provide a child substitute to your satisfaction or your money back*.

(*conditions apply)

A young couple agree to be guinea pigs for a robot that can assimilate as a young boy, with a program enabling it to learn the ways of humans and integrate into any family.

The couple are drab and non-memorable, which should provide a perfect match for David (Haley Joel Osment), a sterile and innocent robot who is both weird and a little creepy.

But he’ll learn. It’s in the programming.

Then the couple’s biological son comes back (something, something, medical advances). Sibling rivalry is hard with actual siblings. It’s one thing to one-up and outgross at the table, but returning kid Martin has no qualms about fucking over a mechanical brother. Let the CPU take the fall.

It – and by that I mean, David – does. For a big budget high concept sci-fi film AI is pretty dumb stuff. No one thinks to ask David why he does the things he does – there is always a valid reason. Instead they dump him in the woods.

The second half of the film has David abandoned and left to find his own way in a big scary world. He roams through discarded Blade Runner sets evading robo-haters and scrap collectors, teaming with an automated teddy bear and a prosti-bot named Gigolo Joe (Jude Law) because… Don’t ask. As Spielberg lays the Pinocchio comparisons on thickly, the film that asks if humans can love robots and vice versa, convinced me that I could no longer summon the energy to even give a shit about them.

This is as tedious and misguided as it is long. And it is verrrrry long. In fact the longer it went the more I wondered what the hell the point of all this was. The fact Steven Spielberg was behind it rendered AI immune from criticism, and while it is true he has the runs on the board, this is a big enough misstep to warrant more attention.

For a film with ‘intelligence’ in the title, this film displays precious little.

Final Rating – 5.5 / 10. All style, no substance, lots of frustration.

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Tales from the Darkside (Review)

tales_from_the_darkside_the_movieA young boy tries to distract the woman who would serve him for dinner with stories three:

Story the First: Steve Buscemi, Christian Slater and Julianne Moore must deal with a mummy awakened from deep slumber. And you know how grumpy you get when you are woken early from a nap…

Story Dos: An elderly shut-in hires and assassin to kill a black car that he swears has killed many and has plans to end his life. He also thinks his slippers are looking a bit shifty, and that Pink is a better artist than Beyonce… Which makes him Crazy in(sane)

Story en Tois: An NYC artist makes a deal with a demon to save his own life one dark night. The same night that he meets a beautiful girl who will change his life forever. Keeping a promise to a demon is important kids.

There ain’t much more, three short stories surrounded by the recurring Hansel and Gretel rip that even the credits call the ‘Wraparound’ sequence. The film works because it adheres to tone and does not shy away from all of the things that make horror great, gore, nudity and a prevailing sense of impending dread. It doesn’t work because the scenes are all too short and really only the third one nails it, and anyone who has seen a few of these will see the ending coming a mile off.

Final Rating – 6.5 / 10. Still, when compared to some of the others, this is… another one I guess.

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The Legend of Tarzan (Review)

tarzanI spent a good twenty minutes wondering if The Legend of Tarzan was a sequel to a film that somehow slipped by me. After a bland preamble yet again establishing scummy white guys as the enemy of the republic of Congo, we zip to London to find Tarzan as… no longer Tarzan.

“But I’m not Tarzan any more!”, no-longer-Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) says something like to someone that might have been Jane (Margot Robbie) – because she’s there too. Wait what did I miss? He’s already Tarzan? She’s still Jane of course, but they’ve already done the whole “me Tarzan, you Jane” bit? So what’s left then?

Well as it turns out not much. Once Tarzan-Again and Jane (and for some reason Sam Jackson as George, whose role seems to be to say the blindingly obvious) arrive in the Congo to inspire the apparently hapless native people sufficiently to have them fight back against the natural resource thieving Europeans fronted by the dapper Rom (Christoph Waltz – who unfortunately never gets to bare his teeth), the plot could be summed up as “Yo Tarzan they got yo girl. Whatchugon do now!?!”

And what Alexander Skarsgard’s Tarzan can do is control computer generated creatures.

He can converse with gorillas, cuddle wild lions, and you can bet he can chat up an alligator at short notice. Not a typo.

He can also conjure a strategically placed vine from anywhere and engage in unremarkable action sequences that elicit no emotional response.

In actuality this entire film is misguided. It ignores the actual ‘legend’ which is the origins of the boy one with the jungle, and instead takes a pretty dull Londoner and has him rip his shirt off a few times while I wonder how many others in the audience think he looks exactly like Alexander Gudonov from Die Hard. I had about two hours to think about that, because the action and drama sure wasn’t distracting me. In fact I think I was as interested in this film as Samuel L Jackson was in appearing in it, and I think I saw him checking his bank balance on his phone in one scene to make sure the cheque had cleared…

Unlike the Congo this film doesn’t appreciate its natural resources. It lets Margot Robbie stew in a cage for half the film. It lets Christoph Waltz set up a character with no real pay off. It allows Sam Jackson to get paid to be an onscreen narrator, and most of all it lets young Skarsgard and his chiseled abs be outshone by frankly generic and forgettable cgi animals.

Actually ‘Most of All’ it opts to mislabel what is a formulaic tale instead of tackling the actual Legend known worldwide.

Final Rating – 5.5 / 10. Me Tarzan, Who Cares?

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Horns (Review)

horns_ver2Ig (Daniel Radcliffe) is not just a nightmare for autocorrect (we’re sure you mean… ‘If’), but a popular local dj in a small sleepy town.

Having grown up in the town it is a surprise to all, not least of all Ig himself, when his longstanding girlfriend is found dead and bloodied in the woods.

Everyone thinks it is the work of Ig, and while he protests his innocence, Ig himself has no recollections of that fateful night. But when no one actually knows, how can you be certain?

Well the locals seem pretty sure, and when honest to goodness horns sprout from Ig’s forehead the next morning, it seems obvious that something is up.

As the horns continue to stubbornly grow Ig finds old friends and complete strangers lose all inhibitions and any semblance of a guarded nature around him. Dark secrets and formerly hidden agendas are suddenly volunteered, not many of them find Ig in a favourable light. But while this is all as disconcerting as the prospect of large protrusions emerging from one’s hairline, Ig soldiers on regardless town the truth.

As you might expect Horns is dark and disconcerting, coming across as a script Guillermo Del Toro might have rejected. Del Toro would undoubtedly have done more with these first ninety minutes though, which are ultimately nothing more than well meaning but misguided effort.

For a long time though while it spins its wheels Horns is at least interesting and different, before it succumbs to its own destiny and moves into territory beyond dark and into blackness. It’s one thing to be a dark fantasy, another entirely to decide that rape needs to be a chapter in this fairy tale.

Daniel Radcliffe continues building, building. No longer the wide eyed innocent, Ig – like Harry – is a young man tired of being ‘nice’ all the time. Horns will prove a minor blip on Radcliffe’s CV, but it will likely prove to many that this nice young man has more tools in his Swiss Army knife than most will give him credit for.

Final Rating – 6 / 10. A dark fairy tale that grows too ‘real’ to remain forgivable.

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