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My Bloody Valentine (2009)
I just don't think so...good try.
This is a hip new update of the 80's Canadian slasher. (I'm not a fan of the early incarnation either) This one starts off rather promising; Miner gets caught in a cave in, resorts to murder and cannibalism to survive, goes on rampage when he's pulled out of the mine and townspeople discover his crimes. Years later mine's owner returns to town, and a killer miner also reappears. The plot was okay, the opening massacre was just plain awesome, but the 3d gimmicks weren't enough to save the movie with it's silly ending. 3D impaling of a midget was cool, but (spoiler)*******************
Making the killer a figment of deranged mine owner's imagination just plain ridiculous.
Piranha 3D (2010)
I liked it
Call me crazy, but I actually enjoyed this film. The producers did right in crafting a trailer for the film that presented it in it's true light; campy horror fun. It's definitely a step above the 70's original, and the sci if remake of the 90s. This takes a rather simple concept and thrusts the three essentials of all great horror films, gratuitous nudity, graphic violence, and humor in the light of all the tragedy. Gotta throw some laughs in to lighten the mood and remind people it's just fantasy. Earthquake opens up a fissure between a Nevada Lake (at Spring Break time no less) and a prehistoric underground lake containing pirhanna. They have massive appetites, and the human smorgaborg is just what the doctor ordered. Plus, it has some effects to really take advantage of the 3d technology it pushed to hype the film.
The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
Vengeful confederate soldier...
A bit off kilter, as westerns go, this is none the less, a great film. It re-imagines the western genre, using the commonality of vengeance and loss, as the moving narrative, despite featuring a confederate soldier as the protagonist of the film. He witnesses the slaughter of his home and family by the mercenary "red legs", who traverse the Southern countryside waging a guerrilla war against the south on behalf of the Union. Josey joins up with an equally ruthless band, the Bloody Bill Anderson group (a true historical brigade), but again watches his adopted family's slaughter, this time at the hands of some double crossing Union officials offering "amnesty" at the conclusion of the war. Here, Josey begins a lonely odyssey on the run from the redlegs who've been commissioned to hunt him down and kill him. Several darkly humorous lines common in the Eastwood repertoire, appear, along with the one time Mrs. Eastwood, Sondra Locke. Great Journey of one man, first of vengeance, and then of forgiveness. But not after some excellent gun battles, and fight sequences.
Pale Rider (1985)
Clint's the man...
Here Clint Eastwood manages to nail down the Western genre in perfect form. An obvious homage to both Shane, an iconic western if there ever was one, and one of his previous, and under-appreciated films, High Plains Drifter. He's a man called Preacher, that rides into a small mining community on the outskirts of a town ruled by a ruthless strip miner. Here the strategy is to set himself up as the heroic Alan Ladd type character who just wants to be, but who cannot escape either what he is, or his past. He's a skilled gun fighter, and that comes in handy when the miners are assaulted by the hired goons that LaHood, the virtual big fish in the little pond, has let loose on them. He wants that land. When Clint's ways become too much for the goons to handle, LaHood sends out for some truly experienced men to do the job. A crooked Marshal named Stockburn, and his bevy of "deputies" who amount to no more than a tag team of ruthless killers. All have a tragic connection to the Preacher, ala the slain sheriff in High Plains Drifter. Great setting, and some light hearted moments to take some of the rough edge off. Great flick.
They Live (1988)
John Carpenter = Genius
What a film maker John Carpenter is, he can make horror, scifi, and action films flawlessly. Here he takes the premise of aliens invading, and secretly taking over, to the nth degree. There are the veiled allusions to the fear of Communist takeover, and just looking at their subliminal messages scrawled about the sign-age throughout this California city used as the backdrop of the film, the message is received. The aliens have secretly arrived, and are taking over the planet through subliminal coercion. Their messages are literally hidden under signs, and their true visages are cloaked with a powerful signal they transmit from a Newstation tower. But there's hope. A scientist has stumbled upon their world domination plot and created sunglasses that actually see through the cloaking signal. Enter drifter Rowdy Roddy Piper, who packs of load of great lines, and delivers the aliens the butt whumping they deserve. Just remember, "I have come to chew bubble gum and kick a**. And I'm all out of bubblegum."
Farrelly brothers bowl over audiences....
An admittedly raunchy, somewhat crude comedy, this film none-the-less satisfies because it does what so many films fail to do, provide the "yuks". Here is a simply constructed story. Young wonder kid bowler has a life of luxury and stardom ahead of him, until a naer do well rival involves him in a con game that takes a tragic turn for the worse. Fast forward years later, and our young star has become a laughable, bald, and prosthetically challenged individual. He's basically a bum with a fake hand. Out of this misery he discovers an Amish wonder kid, a bit aloof, but full of potential. He takes him under his wing on a madcap trip to the World Bowling Championship under the auspices of saving their amish farm by winning the million dollar, winner takes all prize. Bill Murray's performance as the shallow, smarmy, and completely phony nemesis of Woody Harrelson, is worth the price of admission alone. It just goes to show what adding an understated comic genius to a film does for putting it over the top, and into priceless comedy.
Smokin' Aces (2006)
Big Disappointment....****Spoiler ensue**************
Conceptually this is a perfect premise for someone the likes of Guy Richie, would truly excel at, but in the hands of Joe Carnahan, it fails miserably. A wannabe mobster, who's just a washed out magician, decides to testify against a major mob figure. Not wanting to be ratted out, said mobster decides to have him clipped. FBI hears of the plot and races to save their star witness from a Reno hotel. There's a convergence of several different hit men teams, leading to a terrific gun fight. Or at least that's how it should play out, instead we get a bunch of small shootouts, no spectacular finish, a silly plot that Aces wasn't supposed to be murdered by the Mob Boss, but rather the mobster needed an organ transplant from the stoolie who turns out to be his son. There's a convoluted plot of the mobster being an FBI plant who has lived the part of the mob boss for forty plus years.
Complaints 1---The angle of mob boss as life long FBI agent is just ridiculous. 2---The angle of the organ transplant is equally silly. 3---Jeremy Piven looks like an actor desperate for an Oscar, and his performance is contrived, and overly melodramatic. 4---This film can't decide if it wants to be a dark comedy (ala Snatch, or Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) or a serious drama (think something along the lines of Training Day) 5---There's no payoff. The trailers promise a big shootout, and we get the set up of several interesting killers, but they never meet up. Instead we get a bunch of little shootouts. Really disappointing.
Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad.....
Ang Lee might be a talented visionary of the scenic tapestry, and landscape of the earthly environs, but this film just stinks. What a mess of a great source material. Man versus self is one of the most common film formulas, and here is the perfect vehicle to further that motif. But Lee manages to invest too much time in the wrong backdrop to pull of the subtlety required to accomplish that task. The Hulk is the moody, irritable, gamma-infused alter ego of Bruce Banner. A freak accident causes the genetic makeup of our protagonist to be horribly changed. Intense emotion, especially anger, triggers a chemical change in Banners body, that transforms him into the immense monster called the Hulk. Lee should have used heavy doses of dark light to enhance the dark tone of the character. Instead he chooses to try to "comic" it up, showing the campy cgi Hulk in bright light, and greatly diminishing his awe value. Besides that, the plot of the mad scientist father of Banner, and the unbelievably poorly executed love angle with his lady love Betty, makes this an unwatchable film.
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
They learned nothing from X2... what a shame.
Where X2 managed to greatly outclass the first installment, this final chapter manages to mangle everything and cash in on the CGI craze. Movie making is supposed to be about the craft of fashioning a work of enjoyable, entertaining art with mass appeal. Here, they only cater to the mass appeal of mind numbing silliness of showing as many of the popular X characters as possible, without developing these characters, or melding them into the greater tapestry of an engaging plot. Mutants are being injected with a "cure" to their mutations. Magneto doesn't like it. Sides are drawn, and a battle royale ensues. There's several dispatchings of key characters that don't make sense, and the silliness of the plot, and the "resolution", make for a terrible movie experience. What was so right with X2, was completely ignored for this film.
This is what the first should have been
Wow, it's amazing what infusing a bit of good writing will do to make a film great instead of bland. Like a chef who finally decides to invest in great raw materials instead of relying solely on his own prowess, Singer decides to employ some creative script writers that manage to harness the more serious undertones of the Xmen comic books. Tragedy and intrigue, combined with awesome over-the-top super hero battles are what make the source material stand out on the comic rack, and so too does it make this second part of the trilogy. Here a menace is fast approaching the Xmen, and a full out assault on the X mansion plus several traitorous mutants make our hero's take stock of their efforts on behalf of the "normal" human population they seek to protect.