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The Punisher (2017)
Overwrought Pulp for Silly PC Hipsters
This carnation of the Punisher is like a delux gourmet hamburger made with second rate meat. The original screen versions of built around second string heavies like Ray Stevenson and Thomas Jain adequately conveyed the comic book world of the source, where a declared dead law man gets revenge on mobsters who killed his family and left him for dead. Then in the pursuit of the real culprits, the Punisher wastes 50 odd other hoods. Basically, it was simple minded violent revenge porn and didn't pretend to be more. It was just comic book pablum for adult aged children.
Then Netflix comes around and tries to do an upgrade to the comic book schlock franchise, with the approval of the Lords of Marvel. Now the Punisher is an ex-special forces killer and the evil doers who kill his family are part of a nefarious multi-agency government cabal involving the military, FBI, NSA etc. The show also delves into modern surveillance techniques. Jon Berenthal does a great job of playing the PTSD wracked hunted vet. He is the best part of the show but it's all downhill from there. In the first episode, we were introduced to a female version of Steve McQueen's Bullit right down to the 67 Mustang Fastback, She is also an Iranian American Moslem too. In her first scene she meets her baddy old white guy boss who said she was a virtual checklist of affirmative action boxes. She of course bristled at this "racist" but totally true remark, she was indeed an affirmative action character that doesn't exist in reality. They could have made her an ex-Moslem or a Christian Iranian, like many of the 1979 refugees. But that would nix all the scenes they want to do about white guys getting all Izlamofauxbic. She is partnered to some nebbish Jewish agent who is one step up from a stock Woody Allen character. He could have been used for comic relief but we are supposed to take him seriously too. Then Frank belongs to a PTSD group of ex soldiers. natch the blacks are all sterling characters who would melt butter in their mouths, while the white ones are lame liberal cliches of what a Trumpster might be..
Even the first round of baddies are lame. They are bullies from the construction job where our tormented hero smashes concrete walls to bits with a sledge hammer. They try to rip off a mob card game at night but the fool of the group revealed his identity to the mobsters by dropping his wallet open to his driver license in front of the goons. So the other pathetic thief construction workers decide to do the fool in in order to protect themselves. Frank quickly does those jerks in with a sledge hammer then goes to do in the mobsters at their lair. Finally he gives all the loot from the game to the fool would be thief and tells him to leave the City. But he is detected by the mysterious nerd hacker warrior rival-partner Lieberman, who is at least interesting. The show has all sorts of relevant messages for the hipster audience concering gun control racism and other pablum. At least the earlier versions spared us the preaching.
It Comes at Night (2017)
It was OK, but since it pushed a message, it lost clout
I picked this up out of Redbox, w/o ever hearing about it beforehand for 27 cents, since I like horror and Joey Edgerton. He was the only star in it. It was also a good movie given the genre and budget, and I liked it. But its biggest failure is being all preachy. The main consistent liberal themes/tropes to show through is 1) Evil is being done by good people being paranoid and over-reacting Okay, we get it. Average people put under extreme existential duress do desperate things, we know. Lucky for us they didn't dwell on "toxic masculinity" too. 2) And I do hate "the hapless teen, Travis, caught in middle of this family struggle who has bad horror dreams" trope
One thing that piqued me was I assumed, because of Joey Edgerton and Animal Kingdom Production, named after a famous Australian crime drama starring Joey Edgerton, was it was shot in Australia. But the outside shots sure looked like upstate NY. So I was happy that the credits confirmed it was shot in the Catskill Mountains near Woodstock NY.
The Chase (1966)
Cheap Hokey Star Studded Mess Full of Disjoint Social Justice Messages
This movie was a product of the times like "All in the Family". Yeah, it was a Texas small town full of greedy heartless racist amoral lustful horrible white people. Maybe the writer was projecting her Hollywood social milieu? But nothing about it was believable starting with the beautiful sweet escaped con Bubber (what a stupid name) played by Robert Redford. He only had a couple months to go on his sentence, for a crime that was never mentioned but he had to be a free man like Cool Hand Luke, a classic 60s rebel stereotype mode. But he had to get free. The first big drama was that the hardened con he broke prison with killed a man for his car and money, which of course implicated Blubber. Even though most people in Tarl, the town in question, who knew Bubber knew he was basically a nice guy, lots of people all got it into their heads Bubber was coming back to get them personally. The spiteful weak bank VP Edwin Stewart, played by Robert Duvall, was certain Bubber was going to get him because of what he did to him 20 years ago as teenagers. Meanwhile his cheating lustful wife Emily is flirting with other men at his work place. This is just one example of the cartoonish Peyton Place vibe of the film. The film is partially carried by Marlon Brando as the town sheriff, Calder. He is a good man along with his stolid wife Ruby, played by Angie Dickinson. They managed to work some small Southern town racism on the side to gin up our contempt for these "evil" Southern white people. This is what made the movie so appealing to leftist urbanites and foreigners whose inclination was to regard the whole South as evil racist troglodytes,
The script had some intelligence in it, but that was subsumed by its cynical cleverness. But it all failed at the end with a ridiculous and fatal scene in a burning junkyard. Here the locals all gathered to get Bubber, torch the place and party at the same time. The final climactic scene made no sense with one of the locals imitating Jack Ruby and gunning down the hapless Bubber, as our noble sheriff brought him to jail. This of course made no sense since Bubber did not murder a president. At worst he was suspected of murdering a strange man from another part of Texas so the movie's "Jack Ruby" connection is tenuous at best.
American Ultra (2015)
A really neat movie that goofed on a number of genres
American Ultra is a play on the real UK Ultra program where the army tried to create a super soldier using mind control techniques, like LSD. I like these genre crossing movies. The secret agent who doesn't know he is a secret agent due to mind control then becomes activated is, ala "Long Kiss Goodnight", well trodden road. The evil government agency, the CIA in this case, sealing a town off for some nefarious purpose is also one of the motifs, ala the "Crazies". recycled. Stoner slacker guy, Mike Howell, with no middle class ambitions is a good all around comic relief character, played by Jesse Eisenberg with his devoted girl friend played by Kristen Stewart is a good pair. He works at a convenience store by himself ala "Clerks" and draws some silly comic about a super ape he hopes to get published. That duo made the movie, because neither of them are action hero types, quite the opposite for Jesse Eisenberg. He is a good character actor for the nerdy neurotic picked-on type, and a like-able sort of guy. Kristen Stewart is OK too, but she got a swelled head from all those vampire werewolf movies she starred in and got her rich. Then there is John Leguizmo who played his usual latino punk hustler role that was unimpressive. Topher Grace was good as the bad CIA agent who wanted to kill poor conditioned to not know who he really is Jesse, aka Mike Howell. Then they even had Walter Goggins replay his psycho killer role as a fellow American Ultra agent suitably named Laugher, he is a laughing psychopath. who was a psycho before he was put in the Ultra program. The over the top, impossible violent action scenes are no more excessive than the norm these days. To be honest, we can use less of that. But that is what brings in the crowds.
The movie was nothing awesome but what made it good was that it had a soul thanks to the lead couple. It wasn't as good as "Super", which broker every movie conclusion convention, so it really doesn't rate camp-cult status. The ape cartoon interludes are interesting but sort of lame as well. But it is a pretty interesting and watchable flick and is much better than the comic book Marvel DC run of the mill product that this crosses genres with.
So heavy I mean Soo heavy
Okay, they get tons of brownie points for being heavy like good acting, adult but sophisticated plots and themes, and some new age spirituality thrown in. You can fault the staff's earnestness.
The main character has just been let off death row after 19 years on a procedural issue. He had been there since he was 18. The show shows well his adjustment to the real world after 20 years in harsh solitary confinement on death row. He is a smarter version of Forrest Gump. Of course, his family and all the good people in small town Paulie GE.think he is innocent. But the way Daniel Holden bumbles around in his own little world, so above everything is annoying. He never actually proclaims his innocence. He tells his doting sister that he confessed because he felt SO GUILTY. Like of what? Of course the implication is that some bad guys his age group killed his old girl friend and set him up. Yet you can't blame the authorities for assuming he is guilty after he was found holding the murdered girl's hand after he covered her in wild flowers. He had all night to report her death.
But this is what bothered me the most, is that its is the usual Southern TV sort of cast. Lower class whites are mainly hostile & ignorant, blacks like the ones in prison are all swell guys. The women are sweet and doting and naturally can see Daniel's innocence. It was shot in Georgia and I noticed a few of the Walking Dead minor characters parading through; like Carol's brutish husband who was eaten by zombies in the 1st year in a classic morality death. The jealous step brother of Daniel, Teddy. He looks at Ted as a rival for the affections of his pretty gentle wife and a possible usurper of the family business that Daniel's dad ran before he died. Then there is Daniel's real younger brother Jared, who was born after he went to prison. Jared is an annoying sap.
The Fall (2013)
Very Well Made and a Fairly Original Cop vs Serial Killer Show
Gillian Anderson really led this series as the Inspector who led the task force to hunt the serial killer played by James Dornan. None of the leads were cardboard characters including Dornan who played the killer Spector. He was a devoted family man and a perceptive grief counselor who in his spare time liked breaking into women's houses, playing with their underwear then returning later to kill them. It was a smart, very psychological and trendy writing that covered all the hot button topics related to that genre and the motivation of the killer.
But honestly what wore me down was the overly procedural aspect of the show where much time was spent on the minutia of modern bureaucratic police work and even medical emergency care. It gave it realism but honestly was over done. But the biggest drag was the feminist all-men- are-scum aspect to it. It blatantly made almost all the men, including her superior Inspector Burns, look brutish and incompetent. It also had one doctor openly say that women are stronger and need to take over, though he may have been jesting. But it really ended up getting all preachy in a grating SJW way. Then towards the end it started getting sloppy. The killer attacks Inspector Gibson and her young male assistant Tom Anderson, kind of a fey guy, in an interrogation room. Then the other cops just pull the killer off and then ship him back to the criminal psych center instead of at least charging him with a serious charge of assaulting police officers. Then the idiots at the psych center let him go on like the rest of the inmates, instead of isolating him, until he caused brutal finale of the series. Then there was a previous incident when while in custody, the killer took the inspector to a location where he left a kidnap victim in a car's trunk in the woods. Instead of detailing a unit or two to block off the access to the woodsy area where they had him, a car with another nutcase with a gun, who had a beef with the killer over his wife, drove in and shot the killer and Inspector Anderson not fatally. Of course, the female patrol officer and part time assistant to our intrepid inspector, since the males are so useless, finally put this idiot shooter down.
The Northern Ireland Belfast setting was also interesting too. Whatever its faults, this show was a million times better than the similar in vein "The Killing" with its stench of a million red herrings per episode
Should Have Been Better
Prometheus was a movie that should have been much much better. It had everything it needed to do that: budget, actors, backstory and a directory. Sure it had big ideas and concepts like where did man come from, the old ET seeded earth, Panspermia concept. But like many a grand plan, it undid itself on stupid B movie maneuvers and nonsensical plot elements. Let's start with the stupid maneuvers. The Geologist and the Biologist managed to get themselves lost on in the cavern, even though the Geologist Fifield mapped the cave out with his laser imaging balls and supposedly would be able to access the map from his local computer. Then they are forced to spend the night in the cavern, so the pick the room with the proto alien organisms. They see this hideous python snake creature, slithering through the black ooze. So instead of running away, they treat it like a stray Golden Retriever puppy and try to pet it, DUHHH?? This is on par with the average cheap horror slasher movie where characters inexplicably go off and wander into dark spaces to get killed and eaten. They could have given the two hapless scientists a better story. Their machine broke down in the storm and they had to return to the caverns for protection then the snake snuck up on them when they were asleep. Such sloppy writing.
Then in a more serious scene of true horror, our intrepid driven female scientist, Dr. Shaw, climbs into a medical pod to get this alien fetus removed, a med pod conveniently for men only in spite that it is in the female commander's private pod and there are 4 women total on the ship. So she gets the pod to remove this horrid face hugging thing, then she stitches herself up it was a true well done horror scene. So instead of screaming and alerting the crew to the treacherous android David and this horrid alien, she keeps it all to herself. And for someone who just had major surgery and just stapled the incision shut, she is remarkably active and in character. Mind you later on this same alien, sans any food, in a few hours increases in size 200 fold. Then there are the more esoteric parts of the theme. This ship was commissioned to go to this planet based on ancient cave drawings found all over the world of the same star system. So this is all pre Alien, no one on earth knew about any dangerous xenomorph, This is in contrast to Alien where the Wayland Corp knew about the dangerous xenomorphs, put an a maliciously programmed android aboard the ship and they treacherously planned on sacrificing the crew to get the alien. In this case, all Weyland knew was that the earth seeding humanoid aliens came from this planet and the president of the corporation, near death, wanted to find a medical miracle to extend his life. Yet the android on this ship did act treacherously. Apparently it, David, had some daddy issue concerning the president, or people in general. So what, in the space of a couple years this emotionless android hatched a plan to destroy people he was supposed to serve on his own? This is more troubling since David was busy watching classic Britfilms like "Lawrence of Arabia" while the rest of the crew was in cryosleep. Would Lawrence, whom David was modeling, betray his own people and country? Was this some Skynet scenario? Also, according to ship's captain, this alien outpost was some sort of military base. You know, black guys who are just pilots or other nonintellectual types always have some preternatural sense of aliens two thousand years dead, even though he never left his ship. Then we are left with the big question. Why did the aliens put directions to their military base in the ancients' minds? I can buy the inscrutable aliens' inscrutable motivations that last seemed to be to destroy earth. But why 2000 years ago, which is when the aliens all died there? Did the aliens not like Jesus, which could tie into Dr. Shaw's religious beliefs? Why give our ancients DNA memory of that star system? Then they add in David's inscrutable motivation to wreck everything. Then David warns the Prometheus of the destination of the now active alien ship and its cargo. That is just plain Grade B sloppy writing. Then the final charge of the Prometheus at the alien ship as it takes off? Tra la, save the day. Then the stupid women who just couldn't run to the side as the ring shaped alien ship rolls on its edge. This is what made this an un-great film, in spite of the awesome epic scale and visuals of the ships and the alien world. The newer Star Trek and Star Wars cash grabs were cheesy takes on the classic themes and plots with a few new characters thrown in. They sold since their idiot fan base is easily led and Abram's schlock was at least more watchable than the previous installments. Like Star Trek Insurrection. Prometheus was supposed to be more and billed itself as more than just pre-teen Star Wars space opera or just more horror monster movie too. IT was supposed to bring us back to the glory days of real serious Sci Fi. So it deserves a final kick for letting us down with such shoddy writing.
Wild at Heart (1990)
Pretentious, Ridiculous but a template for even worse movies
First off, Cage and Dern did a great job keeping this sleazy pile going on. But their performances, however good, couldn't rectify what was essentially an evil exploitative movie. First off, I don't care about symbolism for its own sake, especially when symbolism is used to elevate trash intellectually. Pop culture references are a total bore and cop out, yeah yeah, Elvis & the Wizard of Oz, too heavy! But to the movie's credit, it CREATED the themes and styles that permeated the 90s and the early 2000s that I hated. Weird characters for weirdness sake Lots of fire & red Patronizing Southern and Western themes used to mock said cultures Stylized violence and villainy Elvis, omg, can you get any more tacky? Tacky retro styles like old T-Birds, snake skin jackets, ballroom settings for what? Road movies through the same South and West derided earlier Road movies of young lovers who aren't as wicked as the scum who are chasing them. The young lovers are actually almost noble. Lots of steaming hot sex with beautiful people. Also too much cigarette smoking, like some high school rebellion thing from the 1950s. Is that supposed to be risqué? I hate cigs! Relentlessly exploiting disabled, disfigured, mentally ill characters just to keep it all so weird. Don't get me wrong, handicapped people don't have to be glorified or honored all the time, but in here they were just there for atmosphere The relentless mockery and denigration of the family. The movies that use some of these elements are legion but two movies use this as a template, "True Romance" and "Natural Born Killers". But 1000s of cheaper indies like "Way of the Gun", or "Arizona Dream" borrow the style elements almost verbatim. Tarantino's cynically used these elements in his movies too, but of course, he added his own distinctive touches.
So in that respect, we can give this movie plaudits, like the original Road Warrior, in creating a whole genre, a dubious one.
Really Subpar but Over-hyped
The movie toyed around with all sorts of great themes and the problems of a modest modern sort of weak guy who retreats into his fantasy world. Yeah it is okay to attack corporate charades and downsizing practices that hurt employees more than just financially. That was a driving theme in the movie that was supposed to give it some meaning, which it did to a degree. Also the exotic location shots were a major plus, since chasing our elusive star nature photographer was the major plot device.
But the rest was crap. First was all the blatant product placement. No not placement, the products and brands were built into the script. Then was the plain old out of character moments when for no reason at all, he starts fighting with airport customs security, which required the intervention of a brand name rep guy.
basically, our Walter Mitty, which Ben Stiller was suitably cast as, had to find this all important picture from his roving camera man. The photographer was Sean Penn, for whom our Walter developed and processed his film but the two never met, though they worked together for a long time. So Ben/Walter has to go on this globe trotting expedition to find the camera man and get his film. Walt's bosses are sitting on pins and needles waiting for it.
That is all you really need to know about the plot element. But the conclusion will send you into hysterics. See this camera man, who never actually bothered to visit our nebbish protagonist, actually really admired Walter. So much that the final shot all of Life was waiting for was Walter sitting by himself at lunch outside. This he told Walt when Walt finally caught up with him in Nepal. Then we find out this wonderfully famous photographer, while never deigned to meet his unsung hero Walt, did visit Walt's mom.
So Walt gets terminated in the end, But the whole time, I am thinking, why didn't the Mr Wonderful Hero Photographer tell the suits at Life to not only keep Walt on, but give him a promotion? A totally Hollywood movie deserves a totally Hollywood ending! Or an ending with some grand unexpected twist, like Mitty was some bind, torture and kill serial murderer on the side.
Death Sentence (2007)
Cheap Exploitative Unrealistic Trash, Death Wish much Better
This movie was so riddled with clichés and worn out memes, as well as plain unrealistic nonsense that it is hard to keep up Of course, there are clear links between this and the classic 1974 Death Wish, But that was a masterpiece compared to this disposal flick. It had an element of realism too, where Joe Average gets a gun and turns the tables on unsuspecting street criminals in NYC and wins the public's admiration for his vigilantism in making the streets safe again. It had a good 70s everyman appeal since the protagonist didn't do anything physical that an ordinary office worker couldn't do. While this scheisskino had the protagonist doing Neo of the Matrix level stunts
This starts off with some nonsense about the perfect yuppie over achiever and his family of hockey playing sons, fine wife, nice house etc etc Then the urban myth about how if you flash some car at night because they don't have their headlights on, that is some gang who will then go and try to kill you. They catch one of the killers of his jock robot son, but the DA only wants to give him a few years. So Rambo deliberately flubs his court testimony in order to get the killer off for later revenge. Then followed one utterly ridiculous absurd cliché action scene after another; where Mr Mild Mannered VP goes medieval on these bulked up thugs, w/o taking the slightest precautions. One example was his first revenge killing where he parked his car in front of his intended victim's house and wore his business suit. That made it easy for the gang to figure out who the killer was.
One mindless foot chase scene on a busy city street where the gang is shooting wildly at him all over the place, yet no cops show up. He manages to get one on the roof of the parking garage, After flubbing numerous chances to do in the killer in stupid slasher movie style where he doesn't take the chance to finish his assailant off but gives the killer one chance after another to go after him again. Finally he puts the car in reverse while they are fighting in the front seat, you saw this coming, and as the car is going off the roof he manages to bail out just in time through the smashed out windshield. Nothing that absurd happened in Death Wish, at least the first couple ones until it became a cartoon Rambo series. This one was so over the top, then it tries to make up for it with this revenge will make you just as bad meme it through in at the end to make crap seem profound. In the end, it is just another stupid Kevin Bacon movie, on par with his TV show, "The Following"
San Andreas (2015)
An Above Par Disaster Movie
The disaster movie genre started in the 70s with such films as the Towering Inferno. They were usually ham fisted star studded turkeys. While the plot and dialogue in this one is pretty pedestrian, over all it is entertaining without being graphic or sexual, beyond the usual damsel, or in this case, his daughter, in distress. It is a good family film that serves up the action and special effects but keeps it grounded, albeit cheesy at times. Sure, the two English brothers who saved his daughter at first then she saves them is pretty schmaltzy but not too terrible. Add the cad of a potential step father who wimps out to save himself, in order to set up a possible re-union between the Rock and his ex, played by Carla Gugino, borderline cheese too.
The Rock is so much a better action hero he-man type than his 80s predecessors like Stallone and Lundgren it isn't worth the comparison. Not that he is a great actor, but he has much better screen presence.
In all, it is a good enjoyable disaster movie and an easy watch, and safe for the kids too
The Purge: Anarchy (2014)
Hamfisted Stupid Message Film
The original Purge was a watchable one-trick-pony film, with a simple plot about a yearly night of no law mayhem. Which seemed to devolve into people murdering others for small grudges like the daughter's boyfriend wants to kill dad etc. It was claustrophobic, since it was all set in a man's house, Okay but not great
Then they recycled the same name and plot element into a film that was trying to be something it couldn't be, a "social message" film. Then it introduced an action movie heavy guy, who was good at playing that sort of role. But that just played to the person who wanted a Rambo or a Dirty Harry to set it all right. The movie didn't need a heavy, it works best with just average folks getting by on their wits. Not silly action scenes where berserker's drive down subway tunnels in special off road gun mounted vehicles shooting at random folks, the homeless and people just hiding. Part of the plot line was the group of random people being led by the heavy to one of the group's relative's apartment to get a car. Why not steal one, it is legal, instead of walking on treacherous streets or in subway tunnels
OKAY, one whole night of no laws, you can do anything you like. Yet the one crime people seem to want to commit is random murder. No mass robbery, arson, theft, drug dealing, etc. So they throw this group of harvesters in , who capture and gather poorer people up so rich WASPY elitists, not just white people but Mayflower types, can have their upper crust murder party. Then some righteous group is trying to fight these bag guys! And guess what, they are black criminals led by a black rapper, lol. Only in Hollywood is such racist nonsense taken as profound. Black lives matter, only the few times a white person kills one.
But the action heavy guy's motive that night was revenge, on some white guy who murdered his son on the last Purge day. But he redeems himself lala lala
Good Fan Movie, But Don't Expect Much + Don't Condemn It
This movie is a continuation of the series as it left off in the grand finale of Season 8 when the principal players all decided to get married or save their marriages by flying off to Europe in private jets Hollywood style. It is a fan movie of a show, and if you didn't like the show, you probably won't like the movie. But it is good enough to stand on its own w/o prior experience.And as you can guess, like a lot of movies of this genre, it fluffs a half hour show into something a bit too long.
The haters of this show are people who are revolted by the crass materialistic and celebrity lifestyle aspect of the show. Is this a deep movie with admirable characters overcoming enormous obstacles? NO, they can be quite shallow guys, out to score women, get high and just party first class, which rubs a cinder into the eyes of a lot of people who don't approve of that sybaritic lifestyle. But this cadre of guys from Queens, in Hollywood, plus their super agent turned studio head Ari Gold, do stick together and stick up for each other. They do have some principles, in the midst of their opportunism and hedonism, Vince is a natural womanizer who is basically a nice guy but a poor business sense and an overinflated view that confuses his movie star attributes with being a serious actor and movie maker. In this movie, he is the director of a bad remake, who then has to beg from investor, since he went over-budget. The investors wants to cut his pathetic actor brother's scenes out of the movie. Of course, he can't let his brother, or any of his friends or confidants down, regardless of the implications.
So don't expect too much from this movie. But don't whine about sexism or materialism, when there are women who have no problem playing the same game the guys are playing. It isn't a great movie, but it is watchable. Some parts I didn't like was the cracker jack feel good ending and Turtle's (Jerry Ferrara, the group's cut up and gopher, now a successful businessman) new love interest. She was played as herself by some female fighter. She was not only not attractive, she was downright unpleasant. She was there just to be the alpha female. Turtle was the least obnoxious and egotistical character, and in the TV version went out with Jamie Lee Sigler, Meadow Soprano for a season. She's far more attractive and pleasant then this pugilist. Then to the movie within the movie, "Hyde", a reimagining of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Now it was always a case that the main man star, Vince, was lazy and disinterested in anything but acting occasionally. But here he directs the movie too, as well as plays the lead. And of course, not only does the movie end up being a hit. but his chump brother gets an award for his bit part in it, a part the Texans wanted to be cut. Of course, we see only the first minute of the movie within the movie, but Ari said it was gold and it became the hit movie of that week. Billy Bob and Haley Osmet were barely tolerable as the domineering Texan investor father and son team. It was a pollyanna sort of ending for sure, which made it cheesier than the show, which had a lot of (not too)downer endings.
Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
Comic Book Adolescent Dreck
The reviewers said this was a witty send-up of Bond type movies but I thought it was juvenile post modern dreck. Like Kickass, it was derived from a comic book. But what worked for K.A. didn't work for this over produced, overly violent and sfx ridden A list monstrosity. It seems like post modernism means you can shamelessly exploit and recycle genres and stereotypes, like Q's endless gadgets for Bond. Then with some smirk, the movie makers can say "I was just spoofing or paying homage to that well worn trope."
The movie was utterly unintelligent and utterly pretentious, and any superficial Savile Row English gent class it exploited was there to hide the stupid and violent action scenes & silly plot.
Deliver Us from Evil (2014)
Pretty Lame Derivative Horror
I really enjoyed Derrickson's 'Sinister' and some of his other movies, as well as Eric Bana is good too. But this is the lamest crap. But what made it even stupider is that it is allegedly based on a real life character cop named Sarchie, which is complete and utter rot. They may have lifted a few details and people from his life but there is nothing remotely true about any of this Exorcism devil possession nonsense.
Sinister was awesome & horrible mainly because of its original "theology" of its demonic character, Baghul, and his m.o., using little kids as accomplices in their family's murder. This is just schlock grade school Catholic church "the devil possessed me" sort of voodoo. Supposedly, the devil gets inside a person if they read some crap written in Latin. Which begs the question of why didn't one of Satan's accomplices just post the script in public and reap thousands of souls each day?
The movie featured some hard core macho NYC police action, more fictional nonsense. They had Olivia Munn, the next Catherine Zeta Jones dark tall and sultry type, as his wife with the requisite sweet little soccer playing daughter too, all to be put in danger with mom.
The only really standout character was the Jesuit street priest Mendoza. But it was all to waste. They tried to get all deep as the priest got Sarchie to embrace his Catholicism. Just like the Exorcist, these sort of movies end up being Vatican promotion. Nothing gets the clueless back into the pews faster than scaring the devil out of people.
But after the bad guy got the devil knocked out of him, what happened to him? Did the cop priest duo, who supposedly pal around in real life, try to get him out of jail, since it was the devil who made him do it?
The Sentinel (1977)
Good Horror Movie Marred By Bad Director Decisions
This is a good horror movie. It was risqué for the time but compared to the cannibal ghoul gut fests we have today, it is tame. The main problems are lame direction and poor leads casting choices. Which is ironic since the movie had cast of stars as supporting actors, past present & future, such as Ava Gardner, Eli Wallach, Christopher Walken, Jeff Goldblum, etc, That made the two lame choices for leads, Chris Sarandon and Cristina Raines, seem almost sabotage. But the basic story, while derivative, is sound, and it carried the movie. Of course, one can't miss the Rosemary's Baby tie in when the opening NYC shot is an aerial view of Central Park West NYC showing the Dakota. Except here the creepy house with the "great rental deal" is in Brooklyn Heights, not Manhattan. Then add some Catholic clergy angle and church imagery to give the movie some medieval baroque old world mystery to the story. After all, the start of the movie was set in an old Italian monastery.
So if you overlook some bad direction and hokey aspects, like the Alison's suicide flashback and other bad moments. it is a good overlooked flick. I think some reasons for its dismissal are the malign homosexual characters, ghosts mainly and a freak show finale of real circus sideshow freaks. But it is still interesting enough and offbeat to make for good viewing. But there is one question you will ask yourself all through the movie, why didn't she get out of that house ASAP? Why didn't any of her friends tell her to get out of that house, especially after she started mysteriously fainting? She had money, her dead dad was super rich & she was a top level fashion model. And the plot didn't all happen in a day or two, more like a month.
Pain & Gain (2013)
Good Black Comedy Done Miami Style
Lot's of people hated and others loved this movie. I imagine a lot of the movie's haters hate Michael Bay, who is not my fave person by a long shot. Others complained it made fun of some heinous criminals & showed their victims as less than noble and innocent. But nowhere did it ever try to justify the crimes. How can you justify a crime that involves kidnapping, fraud and extortion by torture and ultimately murder as being the victim's fault? As a matter of fact, one of the victims the one who lived, played by Tony Shalhoub as Victor Kershaw, was in real life guilty of fraud in a case where his assailant Lugo testified against him.
It was about three felonious losers who bought the whole American dream of wealth and success but didn't have the brains and drive to do it at least legally. There was one of those inspirational motivational types Ken Leoung who convinced the main culprit Danny Lugo, Mark Wahlberg, to go for it all! After all, these guys just worked in gym where they looked good but were just servants to the real money types.
All the main characters were played by good actors who did a good job bringing their pathetic real life counterparts to life and injecting humanity into them. It was also a satire on human foibles in ultra rich, ultra party Miami Beach Florida, ala "Miami Vice", "Dexter" style They even had the exterior of Dexter's apartment building in one shot. The movie was so over the top and full of people who were so less than competent on both sides. Lugo did vertical sit ups from the ladder leading to the roof of his him in broad daylight was a great visual, as well as bouncing off a police car that hit him as he was making his escape.
It was a lot of fun but to those who claim it made light of the criminals they all got their just desserts.
Ray Donovan (2013)
Derivative, Amoral, Cheezy Family Drama
I did watch EVERY episode so I am being fair to this show. This show borrowed a LOT from other concepts, which well, is not a bad thing in itself. People pointed out it borrowed the crime boss/family guy concept from the Sopranos, Irish mobsters from every Boston crime movies, starting with the Departed with a Whitey Bulger clone, Sully played by James Wood thrown in. So close to real life this one was that he hid out in Santa Monica too. But it also had Beverly Hillbillies concept where uncouth South Boston Irish descend on trendy, modern LA and rub shoulders with the degenerate rich and famous. But unlike Jed and his clan, who are decent honest people, this clan is mainly a bunch of punks and killers, with some sad sack brothers for pathos and comedy relief thrown in. At first I thought Ray would just pull slightly sleazy maneuvers to get his star clients off the hook; like switching out the man in a dead coke whore's hotel room from a black athlete to a bisexual action movie star who was being outed as gay right before his latest action movie came out. But like Dexter, Ray seems to have a special license to kill or seriously injure rivals since they are bad people too. He beat a peeping tom to death when he simply could have had him arrested for say child porn since he and his crew of operators seem to be experts at all sorts of dirty tricks. But since the guy was a perv, it was okay to kill him in order to protect his blond air head child star girlfriend.
There is also his two messed up brothers, one who is a church abuse rape victim, Bunchy, who hangs at the boxing gym run by his other brother, who is a crude but somewhat honorable boxer with Parkinsons, Terry. Bunchy seemed to be channeling Tim Robbins from Mystic River with a man- boy victim act gone viral. He is supposed to be some alky in recovery, but always ends up drinking, you get it. Then there is a black half brother who Ray finds out about in the opening of the show, Darryl, Of course, he hangs out in the gym and drinks and fights with the rest of the boys. Finally, his dad Mickey, played by Jon Voight, seems to steal every scene he is in with his hammed up old jailbird low level mob act. You see, Ray and his going senile boss Ezra, aka Eliot Gould, started this star protection business by framing Mickey for the murder of Ray's old girlfriend. Mickey did 20 years for a murder that the firm's first star customer committed. but since the star was high on Mickey's drugs and used Mickey's gun, Ray felt it was okay to stick it to his dad. You see, his dad turned away when Ray and Bunchy were being abused by the priest. The church sex abuse scandal is also featured prominently in this show, and it is not very friendly to the Church, if that bothers you. As a matter of fact, the opening scene of the show where Mickey got released from Walpole Penitentiary. On the ride home, Mickey goes and shoots a priest dead with a gun stuck in his mouth that he thought molested his kids.
Then there is Rays own wife and kids, including the grating ginger wife Abby and two well groomed kids. Ray of course keeps them so in the dark that in the case when they actually might be in danger, Ray doesn't actually warn them but sends his ex Mossad sidekick Avi. Avi, played by Steven Bauer, is actually the most interesting of all the characters, since he doesn't seem to have any sort of attitude, unlike everyone else who has a 100 lbs chip on their shoulder.
Okay, the show has lots of characters and actors who are way more interesting than laconic macho Ray, aka Liev Schreiber. As an actor, Liev is at best a co-star, He is just too wooden to be taken very seriously. As well as his character, no matter how hard they ham up the family protector angle, is just too amoral and criminal to be respected. He is just a greedy sadist who hides behind his family, like where he tortured a sleazy (aren't they all?) real estate agent to get ALL his stupid brother's money back, even after his demented brother torched one of the rooms in a drunken fit. Jeez Ray, toss the guy say 10g for his pain! A good chunk of the show revolves around how Ray, after his dad did 20 years in place of a star criminal that Ray helped cover for, decides to have his dad murdered. And who does Ray get to kill his dad? The mass murdering psycho mobster Bulger clone Sully who wastes about a dozen other people instead after Ray drags him out to the west coast. The show has a Dexter angle, (another SHO production) where if you stick to killing bad guys and are nice to women and kids, you get a pass. But Dexter was a lot tighter a show and took longer to wear itself out unlike this three ring circus of freaks, plastic people and punks.