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X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
BRAVO...I'm back on board.
that's right. i can't believe I'm saying this, nor did i think it was possible, but the X-Men film series is back to being just as rich as its 2000 inception and its undeniably stronger 2003 sequel that brought warmth to the hearts of many a comic book dork on this planet. indeed, the films have experienced a massive creative downfall since director Bryan Singer's exit at the 3rd movie (which i hated) and while things looked promising with Matthew Vaughn's under-appreciated X-Men First Class, Singer's return has brought back the greatness of a terrific X-Men film. X-Men Days of Future Past may seem like an exercise in damage control (Singer's been clear about his regret in leaving the franchise), but that wasn't an issue while watching this intriguing chapter that's worth every second of a fan boy's attention. the year is 2023 and Earth is now a decimated wasteland, dominated by the destructive Sentinels, machines initially meant for searching out and killing mutants, but over time have overridden their programming and gone about the total extermination of everybody, human or mutant. idealistic telepath Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and hateful cynic/metal manipulator Erik Lehnsherr (Ian McKellen) unite once again as allies to fight this robotic evil in hopes of survival, but accompanied with only a scattered handful of fellow mutants, their futile efforts to battle these endless (not to mention adaptable and unstoppable) swarms of Sentinels force them to resort to a shaky form of mind-manipulation/time-jumping, controlled by Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page). this method is all but exhausted as they fear it won't be long before they're completely overrun. they're last move is to send the consciousness of Logan (Hugh Jackman), the ageless, regenerating Wolverine himself, 50 years into the past to link up with his body in 1973. this Hail Mary pass is meant to prevent the events leading up to the Sentinels creation. this means finding longtime friends/foes Xavier and Lehnsherr in a time where both men were at their most depressive states and when their relationship was never more bitter. then there's locating the vengeful shape-shifter Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), who's not only a big reason for Xavier and Lehnsherr's animosity, but an indirect player in the Sentinels's technological advancement. Logan, usually the most efficient of brawlers in Xavier's band of gifted badasses, is now the man who has to keep it all together, whether that means recruiting the troops, such as the super-fast smartass Quicksilver (Evan Peters) or arranging a prison breakout (beneath the Pentagon of all places), he only has so much time to complete his mission before the Sentinels of the future close in on Kitty and end it all right there. i already feel I've said too much, but wow, there's more. so much more. the movie is tightly-structured, beautifully shot, marvelously performed, and stands so well on its own, long forgotten are the excruciating X-Men 3 or the abysmal X-Men Origins (which Singer has shamelessly, hilariously, and wisely ignored ever existed). not all the discrepancies from former films are completely rectified, but after an opening battle (which includes the return of Halle Berry's Storm and Shawn Ashmore's Iceman as well as newcomers Omar Sy as Bishop and Fan Bingbing as Blink), you won't care. the ride is too great and the story too involving. what's more is that this is hands-down the best acted X-Men film to date. Jackman has never half-assed a performance in his whole career and this is no exception. as the anchor holding both past and future ships steady, the man knows this character better than anyone and even in the weakest of Wolverine installments, he just doesn't know how to suck...ever. the always luminous Lawrence doesn't just bring the same gravitas to Mystique as she did in First Class, but shatters through every level, whether it be emotional or athletic. Stewart, McKellen, Sy (who's very underused), and the always excellent Peter Dinklage as Sentinel designer and chief villain Bolivar Trask are flawless in their supporting roles. but it's Fassbender and especially MacAvoy who steal the show. these two master craftsmen not only stand well on their own, but their unique and toxic interaction is enough to make even the blandest of material watchable and here's a movie where every word is great. i couldn't stop myself from admitting that if the whole movie had just been the two of them sparring, i would've been okay with that. i was happy with everyone in the movie except Peters, who even with having limited screen time and an action sequence that brought the crowd to loud cheers, seemed too obnoxious to like. i may be alone on that, but that's on me. to say anything more would be pushing it, except to say you should be prepared for a fantastic story with a kickass finale and the very welcome appearances of some great cameos. believe me when i say that my doubts on this movie were heavy and i feared the worst without any hope for the best and this is the one case where all my doubts have been completely crushed, very much to my deep pleasure. this was a huge step in the right direction and if Singer was haunted by past mistakes, he's done right so far in his attempts to correct them. X-Men fans should see this and i seriously doubt many will be disappointed. i'm already excited to see it again. BRAVO!!!
New Jack City (1991)
as hard as they come
today, a great gangster movie (The Departed, American Gangster) feels rare. some so generic, it's "been there, done that" or "same old sh!t" or "who cares?," but when it's great, it's not just remembered, it's revered. New Jack City doesn't just match the aforementioned titles, but deserves a spot next to Scarface, The Untouchables, and (I dare say) The Godfather trilogy in terms of epic crime cinema. as helmed by the remarkable Mario Van Peebles, this underrated gem is smart, stylish, mean, violent, and even carries a cerebral message, covering so much ground in just its first act alone, examining every angle from the dawn of the crack era (late 80s to early 90s), the flash lifestyles of it's all-too-real villains, drug addiction, and the seemingly futile efforts at rehabilitation. brutal and truthful enough not to patronize, Van Peebles's bleak look at the damaging drug epidemic screams for a police victory against the one vicious criminal perpetuating things for no other motive than his own ambition. that criminal is Nino Brown (Wesley Snipes), a street-smart outlaw turned self-made drug czar so clever, he not only corners the drug trade, but dominates the competition by savagely butchering anyone in his path. so slick and methodical, Brown starts his regime by hijacking a large New York tenement project as his base of operations, its profits building an empire (known on the street as the CMB, Cash Money Brothers) worth millions. and while Brown relishes his lavish lifestyle, this not only angers the organized crime element, but forces the police, namely the determined Stone (Van Peebles), to resort to extreme measures. realizing the only way to beat Brown is by playing by his rules, Stone recruits two wild card cops to strip Brown of his throne. Scotty (Ice T) is a street-wise undercover cop with a hatred for Brown's particular type of scumbag, and Peretti (Judd Nelson), a borderline racist with a very dark past of his own, essentially have no rules and if it means sending the just-recovered crack head, Pookie (Chris Rock), into the depths of hell to get what they need to either catch or kill Brown, then it's a start. the movie isn't just a gangster flick or an anti-drug film (aside from Pookie's stint in rehab, it's rarely preachy), but a strong character piece. Brown, being the main focus, is anything but simple. we see him flourish while the neighborhood he controls goes to ruin and when business is good, he savors the flavor of friendship, especially with right-hand Gee Money (Allen Payne), only to choke on his own hypocrisy once Scotty and Peretti close in, turning Brown into a nasty and often violent monster. Snipes's portrayal of this iconic bad guy is fierce and unapologetic, both emotional and despicable, very human, but never redeemable, making you pray for Brown to receive his comeuppance, preferably if its bloody. arguably one of the most unappreciated performances of the time (I, for one, thought Snipes was nothing short of Oscar-worthy), this is one of the first villains that made me appreciate the worth of the bad guy while eagerly rooting for the heroes. it's not only villainy at its coldest, but Snipes at his finest. Ice T, Van Peebles, Rock, and Nelson provide excellent support and other class acts like Bill Nunn (as Brown's stuttering muscle) and Bill Cobbs (a citizen who easily hates Brown more than anyone in the movie) make unforgettable appearances. Van Peebles deserves more credit for this stellar film than he's received. this work of art should've catapulted him up there with names like Stone, DePalma, Mann, and Coppola. focused, devoted, and compelling, you have to love this man. even with its dark and often-enough, sad vibe, Van Peebles's gangster epic is very airtight with immense rewatch value. all that said, the last scene is really, really great. i'd say this is a must-see for fans of gangster flicks, but that's an understatement. it should be required viewing for any film fan and at the very least, respected for Snipes's venomous turn as one of the worst a$$holes in film. everybody needs to see this. in my humble opinion, it's a classic.
Twice Dead (1988)
fun 80s schlock
i remember when i saw this in the theater with a few of my friends. we were just kids so i pretty much liked this better then than i do today, but having just recently revisited it after a while, i still like it. it's no Halloween or A Nightmare on Elm Street, but Twice Dead is at least competent while some horror flicks of that time (and most of them today) fell flat. Bert Dragin's haunted house/ghost story may not hold together as a whole, but it gives us a solid setup, better performances than most from its genre, a strong visual mood, and a few very bloody, very satisfying death scenes, delivering everything a horror film needs. an extended prologue shows us 1930s actor Tyler Walker hanging himself in the attic of his home just as he's about to be evicted, but the main story takes place in 1988, with the Cates family, good people who've had their share of bad luck. there's mom and dad, older brother Scott (Tom Bresnahan) and his stunning sister, Robyn (Jill Whitlow), trying to get back on their feet after a bankruptcy. bad luck gets worse when they're forced to move into the Walker home, which they've acquired through an inheritance. they find the place to be a dump in a bad neighborhood with even worse company. right as they walk up to the front door, they have to shake off Silk (Christopher Burgard) and his gang of nasty punk sh!theels who've taken to squatting in the Walker house as a hangout. now add in the outstanding factor that Walker's ghost still haunts the grounds...Yeah, these poor bastards already have more than their share to worry about. as they attempt to settle in, Scott researches Walker's history, learning he was a tortured and broken soul. Robyn has a more difficult time adjusting, as she has becomes the object of desire for the switchblade-wielding Crip (Jonathan Chapin), a very mysterious and arguably the most disturbed of Silk's gang. after enduring fistfights, the slaughter of the family cat, and a creepy attempted rape, Scott and Robyn just want to be left alone and even turn to defensive measures (an altogether ludicrous sequence that would be stupid if it weren't so clever and fun). but Silk, all nasty and vengeful, stirs up his sh!t blizzard of harassment and terror, eventually turning things homicidal. that's where Walker's ghost comes into play. to say anymore would ruin the satisfying rampage in the film's last act when Silk briefly gains the upper hand. the body count is actually kept to a minimum, but needless to say, a few cringing deaths are in order and a few (one involving a motorcycle and another involving an electric blanket) definitely get points for creativity, while two other deaths are enough to make you jump. one death even involves the obligatory (and very gratuitous) horror flick nudity from the gorgeous Charlie Spradlin, the slinky sexpot of Silk's gang. the movie relies a lot on its two leads. Whitlow is so damn pretty, we lecherous scum won't be able to think about anything else and Bresnahan is good as her likable brother. Todd Bridges is okay as the only well-meaning character the Cates come across. It's Burgard and Chapin who take the show, the former eating all his scenes while the latter plays it down. all in all, this is a solid movie. there are some loose ends left hanging and some scenes are perfunctory while others just don't belong, but anyone expecting Citizen Kane with this is overshooting. i won't deny that i have some sentimentality on this one, but there are plenty of flicks i hated when i revisited them and this certainly wasn't that. this won't change the world for anyone, but it's entertaining, quick, and not a massive waste of time. worth a look.
Night of the Demons (1988)
the 80s were bombarded with moody horror flicks loaded with gruesome blood and gratuitous nudity and while there are some better than others, Night of the Demons got plenty of rewatch value out of me during my teens and now, upon its blu-ray release, i can't help but rekindle my love of this excellent crap. the nostalgia alone keeps me longing for the days when horror was at its peak and not marred by a limp PG13 rating or the lame prospect of a remake. this was remade a few years ago to shoddy effect, which only raises the value of this fun original. a ghost story that sticks to an old-school formula that's seemingly extinct today, it's mixture of dark fun and blood thirst brings out the best in any horror fan. from its animated opening titles segueing into the spooky, yet serene atmosphere, landing right on top of its monkey pit variety of characters, it's got a little bit of everything that should help any viewer smile once or twice. it's Halloween night and at the invitation of goth fox Angela (Amelia Kinkade), a small group of teens have gathered to party the night away at the infamous Hull House, a long abandoned mortuary with a scary presence and an even scarier past. you'd think there would be safer and more productive ways to spend Halloween in the name of fun. but not these morons. the line-up of victims consists of your garden variety of misfits that have become routine for every standard horror flick: there's Judy (Cindy Podewell), your obligatory, adorable, blonde sweetheart; frightened Rodger (Alvin Alexis), who's the first to sense something's wrong; Stooge, (Hal Havins) the loud-mouthed jerk; Helen (Allison Barron), she who's easily bored by Stooge's abrasive attitude; Sal (William Gallo), the immature prankster/party crasher; Suzanne (Linnea Quigley), Angela's sexpot best friend; Jay (Lance Fenton), Judy's lecherous preppie date, and cute couple Max (Phillip Tanzini) and Frannie (Jill Terashita). some seem nice enough, some (like Stooge) are just asking for it. sure, there's drinking and partying and cavorting, but when Angela and the crowd participate in an amateur séance, they awake the evil scariness within the frightening structure and that's when things get nasty. one by one, the teens become demon-fleshed ghouls, either mauled or possessed by the demonic beasts, while the untouched aim to escape with their lives. delivering on all fronts, Night of the Demons was brought to life by 80s horror director Kevin Tenney (Witchboard), who could be the one guy who paid attention when taking in the calm chilling mood of John Carpenter's Halloween. alongside Halloween and Michael Dougherty's Trick R Treat, this is one movie that best captures the stillness of Halloween, the darkness enveloping you in autumn night feel. yeah, it maybe lightweight in the acting department, but some manage to add a little to their craft. Kinkade has an insane sexy dance number to Bauhaus's "Stigmata Martyr" and Quigley, in all her naked goodness, has fun creeping out the masses while locked in her seduction mode. but people don't watch horror movies for the performances. they go for the jumps and the carnage and Night of the Demons effortlessly provides both. even if you get that "been-there/done-that" feeling, you'll at least enjoy the ride. by no means is it the best of anything and the ending's a little simple, but it's definitely one for autumn season. that's right, loyal horror fans, this is a blast.
doesn't live up to the original, but could've been worse
i had no faith in this movie whatsoever. none. zip. zero. as far as i'm concerned, the very idea of remaking the iconic original was embarrassing and lame. but after seeing it last night, i'm surprised this wasn't one of the worst movie-seeing experiences of my life. while this surely isn't the best thing ever, i wouldn't say it was a waste. that's right, Robocop is actually quite solid. while indeed lightweight compared to the violent slaughterhouse of Paul Verhoeven's classic, this one makes up in emotional weight. although i longed for a foul-mouthed, bloodbath that mocked the smug outlook on 80s America, i couldn't help noticing i was watching a very well performed, technically efficient, and solidly scripted character piece. sure, taking a stab at right-wing politics and the fear of radical change plays a part, but this one sticks with its lead and keeps the focus on him, giving him the weight and development usually skipped over by today's rampant remakes. more on that later. the year is 2028 and militarized robots are big business. used for urban pacification in hopes to lower the casualty rate of human soldiers, the big noise revolves around the hesitance of American politicians allowing all moral decisions to be put upon these dangerous machines with no consideration for the consequences. OMINCORP head Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) aims to prove the political bigwigs wrong. by way of a large loophole, Sellars decides the moral issue can be trumped by putting a man within a machine, a project supervised by Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman). all they need now is a proper candidate which comes in the form of driven police detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman). Murphy is a decent family man and honest cop badly wounded in a car bomb, perpetrated by vicious gunrunner Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow). with nearly nothing left of Murphy's body, Norton constructs the ultimate robotic soldier to serve as the perfect cop within Detroit's corrupt police force. while the exterior is a magnificent success (not to mention provides a soaring stock rise for Sellars), the emotional element of Murphy's mind is still intact and no matter what extremes Norton uses (at Sellars demand) to repress those feelings, they always override the programming. whether Murphy rages to solve his own murder and eliminate Vallon or aches for the company of his wife, Clara (Abbie Cornish) and son David (John Paul Ruttan), the human factor can't be denied. this not only brings out the best in our lead, but strikes the most sympathetic nerves inside of Norton, who grows increasingly conflicted by Sellars's blatant ambition. believe it or not, while the premise is the same as the original film, a man in the body of a machine annihilating criminals as a safety measure for citizens, but more so, as a benefit to corporate America, this is a very different movie. unlike the original, Murphy's memory is never erased, leaving Kinnaman to act out every bit of Murphy's realization that things will no longer be the same. it's in these scenes where Kinnaman really shines. sure, he delivers just fine while dispatching endless amounts of criminals, but when expressing even the most subtle moments of Murphy's tortured trauma, it could be argued this is where this film surpasses the original. that said, it's the only advantage. the lack of excessive violence is a problem. this movie has a very high body count, but very few bursts of blood, which was exactly what blew me out of my seat when I saw the original. sure, here we get Robocop fighting six ED-209s, but gone is the savagery of shotgun-wielding scumbags, not only terrifying innocents, but meeting their end in harsh crimson splatters. the upside...well, the cast. as said, Kinnaman is terrific in a role that should burn him if effigy for accepting, but he makes it his own, doing everything he could not to replicate what Peter Weller made legend 27 years ago. Keaton is toxic fun as Sellars, motor-mouthed and moral-free, profit-driven and manipulative; and Oldman has hands down the most interesting role in the film, lending his own brand of class to Norton, a man proud of his work while forced to create what could become a potential monster. there's also extra hands of awesomeness on hand. Jackie Earle Haley is excellent (but underused) as the antagonistic Mattox, a military tactical officer in charge of Murphy's combat training; Michael K. Williams is terrific as Lewis, Murphy's loyal-to-the-core partner, and Samuel L. Jackson as media mouth, Pat Novak, a Bill O'Reilly wannabe shamelessly vouching for the Robo-movement, adds zesty fun. These guys help a lot, but there's only so much they can do. Aside from the aforementioned lack of violence, there's also very little in terms of wit. In fact, without Keaton and Jackson, the film would be universally humorless, which is something the first was loudly revered. no, this movie isn't perfect, but for something that had so much going against it, this was anything but that crap-fest i feared was coming. i don't expect everyone to love it and i sure don't see this becoming anything close to the amazing source material that wowed me as a kid. but this deserves at least a look. for me, there was a lot more to like than to dislike and the exceptional cast, especially Kinnaman, certainly deserves some proper love. in closing, this was surprisingly good.
Nurse 3-D (2013)
i'm one of those guys who likes a movie that can be appreciate being stupid while having a whole lot of fun...this is not that movie. it tries to develop as part American psycho, part fatal attraction, but has neither the brains nor the class to be either. seeing the trailer, i was hoping this would be some fun crap, but there's no humor, the gore is cheap and (by the end) downright cruel and ludicrous. the premise is simple enough: Abby (Paz De la Huerta) is a nurse by day and a seductive killer by night, targeting unfaithful men. enter Danni (Katrina Bowden), the new nurse under Abby's wing. Danni has a few rough patches, from freezing up on her first blood-drenched patient to being subjected to verbal abuse and arcane sexual advances from the hospital's lecherous, scumbag excuse for a resident surgeon (judd nelson). things only get worse when Abby develops an unhealthy attachment to Danni, obsessing over her. despite a drunken indiscretion, Danni rebuffs Abby, realizing she's unstable. that's when Abby goes from sabotaging Danni's relationship with her ambulance driver boyfriend (Corbin Bleu) to making a project out of Danni's cheating stepfather (Martin Donovan). this is all typical stalker-movie formula that practically goes nowhere. its weak attempts at a bloody slaughterhouse ending just gets dumber and dumber and while a smack-down, cat-fight brawl between De la Huerta and Bowden appeals to many a man (including myself), this doesn't deliver enough of a payoff. the violence is nothing we haven't seen before, nor will it impress any horror geeks. and where it fails in gore (weak CGI gore, no less), it tries to make up in gratuitous nudity and there's plenty. De la Huerta has a strong aversion to clothing and struts her dominatrix physique well. she knows how to be sexy and is certainly fearless, especially when two full scenes call for her to walk around wearing no pants...at all. her line delivery...yeah, that leaves much to be desired, coming off more of a brainless bimbo than a frightening murderess. Bowden is a lovely girl, but she has nothing to do here but play the generic helpless victim. Kathleen turner has a pointless cameo. this leaves nelson, who borders between entertaining and ridiculous in a thankless role. if there is any winner in all this, it's the underused Niecy Nash, who scores as the sassy desk nurse who's got a line for everything. i wanted this to be fun. i really did. disgusting, nasty, trashy fun...but no. this is pointless drivel that offers nothing. yes, the two leads are two extraordinarily attractive women, but they look just as hot and serve their talents in much better work. this really isn't worth anyone's time. skip it.
Out of the Furnace (2013)
this is true filmmaking
behold a film that relies solely on talent and avoids any clichés or Hollywood vices. out of the furnace is a real film with real depth and real impact. relying more on story and well-developed characters, it's a breath of fresh air whenever something like this comes along. in north Braddock, Pennsylvania, Russell (christian bale) is a hard- working steel mill worker who even with a father dying of cancer and his younger brother, Rodney (Casey Affleck), a stop-lossed soldier who's buried himself in debt with the local bookie (Willem Dafoe), has had his life crushed in one random moment, a dreadful accident sentencing him to a stint in jail. while locked up, his father dies and Rodney is sent to Iraq. upon release five years later, his beautiful girlfriend, Lena (Zoe Saldana), has moved on and into a relationship with the local sheriff (forest Whitaker) and Rodney, now home and haunted by his time over there, has only dug himself in deeper. so deep it involves Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson), a volatile maniac of a white trash criminal who is just aching for a reason to hurt someone (anyone). all this leads to bloody results, inevitably leading to a confrontation between Russell and Harlan. i don't wanna say much beyond that. this movie takes its time unfolding and the more involved you are, the better the movie is. for Russell, it's just good to be home and when a world of drugs and underground fights threaten to destroy everything he loves, you feel the same itching he does, needing to see things through, even if it means the law has to be sidetracked. bale, as usual, is remarkable. in what could be one of his most underplayed performances (he only has one scene where he really emotional explodes), we get everything we need to know about him, even in moments of complete silence. Bale's great at spreading his range and adding humanity to every role and this is no exception. whether it's a heartbreaking moment of being reunited with Saldana or a fun brotherly exchange with Affleck, he covers every base with the ease of one breath, making him a master of his craft. Affleck is good as the damaged Rodney, making us feel for him even when he's in the middle of doing something risky or just plain stupid. Rodney's connection with Russell carries a lotta weight and never for a second do you doubt their brotherly bond. the rest of the cast: Dafoe, Whitaker, Saldana, and the excellent Sam Shepard as Russell and Rodney's uncle are up to par and no one is really shortchanged. while some of them are there longer than others, everyone makes a mark and shares relaxed chemistry with their cast mates (Affleck has some really great exchanges with Dafoe). as for Harrelson...well, when he does bad and intense, it never really gets any better. the film's opening scene tells you everything you need to know about DeGroat's violent nature, but Harrelson never lets you turn away. unpredictable, terrifying, and poisonous, i found myself entranced by the man, even if i knew what he was about to do was savagery at its worse. Scott cooper had me with his first film, crazy heart. this is all i need to stay an avid fan of a filmmaker who knows how to make you stay with characters, even if they're vile scum like DeGroat. cooper gives them human feelings and flaws. he envelops you in the setting, whether it's the sleepy streets of a northeastern small town or the thick country woods. he knows how to show you a place that feels like home. sure...there's blood. lot's of blood in certain spots. he knows when something needs to be violent and he knows how to use it without making it feel forced or cheesy. bottom line, out of the furnace is for true blue film buffs who want a real story with human characters. a story that will grab you and keep you hooked from DeGroat's first act of violence to bale's chilling final shot. it's not a CGI loaded dazzler. it's a film that makes you yearn for some old films that had accomplished more with less. see this movie. even if it doesn't completely do it for you, you'll walk away thinking about it later. you'll recall the things you did like. once you're done thinking, you'll know it was worth it. in closing, Bale and Harrelson are both Oscar worthy. there...just making sure i made that clear.
this is not only one of the best (if not the best!) zombie movies of all time, but it's one horror movie that throughout my childhood never got old and still doesn't to this day. part horror movie, part comedy, and all kinds of fun, this one never bores, even if the effects look dated. for this, like the golden zombie films of the immortal George Romero, relies on make up and mechanics rather than CGI and cheese. playing as if "Night of the Living Dead" was based on a true story, but in order to prevent lawsuits, the facts were changed around: a military chemical reanimates dead bodies, turning them into unstoppable zombies with a craving for human brains. all of this was contained with the zombies and the chemical stored in steel tanks, but these tanks were mistakenly sent to the wrong place, a medical supply warehouse in Kentucky, where the story opens. all is quiet and fine until two morons, frank and Freddy (james Karen and Thom Matthews), crack one of the tanks and release the chemical (as well as the tank's inhabitant). frank and Freddy inform their boss, Burt (Clu Gulager), who enlists the help of local mortician, Ernie (Don Calfa) to help cover up the mess. this makes things worse, spraying the chemical over the nearby graveyard and raising an endless swarm of nasty (and very hungry) dead people. these poor saps, along with a group of teenage punks, end up trapped inside the mortuary, barricading themselves inside with very little hope of escape. the formula is the same as most zombie films, but never has one been more fun. for the most part, this piece is a comedy, loaded with lots of foul language and nudity (thanks to punker babe Linnea Quigley), but the situation (zombies that can only be killed by being completely destroyed to nothing) and setting (an old, cemetery enclosed in thick trees and woods on a dark, rainy night) are most serious. the actors have fun, but are never cheesy. gulager's great as always, calfa (basically playing a Nazi in hiding) is awesome, but Karen and Matthews are the best, especially in the first half. as the two dumb bastards responsible for this nightmare, their interplay is both frantic and hilarious as they squabble over the next course of action. the movie has its share of gore (open skulls, pieces of brain, blood sprays, rotting bodies), so along with the comedy, it has a little bit of something for everybody. then there's the ending which basically shows the best solution for such a large type clusterf*#k. i don't expect everybody to like it, but most horror fans will love it and probably consider it an 80s classic. i know i do.
great, but not for everybody
i'm a huge oliver stone fan. aside from wall street 2 and Alexander, i love the work this man does. he's a master filmmaker. savages shows me he hasn't lost its edge. i read the book and it's very quick and vulgar read. i thought it was awesome, so i was eagerly excited for the movie. there were some changes, most of them positive, but the film follows the source material very closely. two pot-growers/dealers, Chon (taylor kitsch), a former SEAL, now volatile and aggressive, and Ben (aaron Johnson), a business-minded botanist without a violent bone in his body, share the same girlfriend, the lovely and flighty o (blake lively). they live the high life and life is good until the baja cartel, run by Elena (selma hayek) want a piece of chon and Ben's business, specifically their designer hydro that's more pure than anything on the market. chon and Ben aren't interested, so Elena has her vicious henchman, lado (benicio del toro) kidnap o, forcing Chon and Ben to comply. it isn't long before Chon and Ben go to extenuating and violent measures to rescue o. what follows is a well-acted, beautifully shot, and blood-drenched film that with all things considered is an absolute blast. i've never been a fan of kitsch, but he turned me around with this one, giving a relaxed performance to a hot-headed character. Johnson, kick-ass himself, is excellent, going from decent pacifist to scared gunmen when pushed too far. hayek is great as well, especially in a scene toward the end when chon and Ben turn the tables on her. but the VIPs of this bad boy are del toro and john travolta (as a crooked DEA agent), as cruel madman and desperate dipshit respectively. an electric scene between the two of them made the movie for me and would've made me love it even if it was total crap. the movie's not perfect. lively is stunning, but quite bland, especially given the caliber of bad ass she shares the screen with. and the end takes a left turn (different from the book) which i didn't hate, but it definitely took away a bit of the story's emotional core. even with that, it's pretty great. stone goes more the natural born killers/u-turn route here, telling a regular story while not pushing any political or world view themes. it's just a normal (albeit violent) film. it's stunning to look at, highlighting lush shots of the beach, and action that's tense and brutal, but it's not as jumpy or erratically edited as films like JFK or natural born killers (though as a huge stone fan, i totally dig that). the violence and the sexual relationship between the three protagonists (the movie's not really steamy) may turn the squeamish away, but stone fans are sure to dig it. overall, i'd recommend it to anyone and be eager to disagree with any naysayers. i loved it.
a very, well-made b-movie
i've always been a fan of this flick. as a kid it was a blast and it's held up well ever since. director Walter Hill (a truly underrated director) brings his hard-ass, tough-talking schtick to this dark, claustrophobic action flick that deserves more love than it gets. when two Arkansas firemen, Vince (Bill Paxton) & Don (William Sadler) uncover a treasure map in stolen gold, they decide to collect. it leads them to an East St. Louis project building and all seems easy enough, until they witness a crew of sharp drug dealers, led by King James (Ice T), kill a traitorous punk. this sets off a showdown between the firemen and the crew, turning bloody and maddening as true sides and desperation surface in midst of greed and gunfire. this thing really gets moving once both worlds collide and the final showdowns between certain characters were certainly not what i expected (and that's a compliment). in between is when it's most interesting. Don's greed clashes with Vince's desire to escape in one piece; James, looking to save his brother (taken hostage by don in the commotion) wants an easy solution, angering his vicious, trigger-happy henchman, Savon (Ice Cube); and homeless vagrant, Bradlee (Art Evans) ends up an unwilling participant caught in the middle. Paxton and Sadler, always reliable in everything they do, hold the film together, their dynamic providing the overall moral of the story. Evans provides the comic relief and comes off as the film's most sympathetic character. Ice T is terrific as the controlled villain while Ice Cube steals scenes left and right as the violent wreck-loose (i've always wished these two would be in another film together). it's not a perfect film, but hill's direction and a solid cast keep this fast-paced bad boy together. at worst, it's a b-movie with a lot of class to back it, but at best, it's a decent action movie that's sure to please. it's tense, loud, violent, and dark; everything an urban action movie should be. i love Walter Hill and i love this cast.