Every February DVD Critics Corner takes a look at the movies that have been taking up space in the My List section of our Netflix page.
They could be movies that barely made it to the local multiplex. Or, movies that became “Direct to DVD” gems just waiting to be noticed.
Or movies that are so terrible Redbox kiosks are getting physically sick just having these movies inside them. You be the judge!
Director: Paco Cabezas
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Rachel Nichols, Peter Stormare, Max Ryan, Michael McGrady and Danny Glover
Plot: A reformed criminal gets his old crew back together to beat the crap out of the bad guys who killed his daughter. What a great Dad.
Rating: Not rated, but there’s enough gunplay, stabbing, and fisticuffs for either an R rating or a really good Irish wake.
Nicholas Cage. A man with one of the most interesting careers in showbiz. He’s starred in critically acclaimed dramas, Coen brothers comedies, and action blockbusters. His name has appeared over he titles of quirky indie films and mediocre comic book movies. He’s won an Oscar and has been nominated for a Razzie.
To put it another way, Nicholas Cage’s career has had more ups and downs than Courtney Love off her meds riding The Cyclone at Coney Island.
I will say one thing for the Nickster; he does manage to keep busy. Unfortunately it seems that many of the movies he’s appeared in recently are the “direct to DVD” variety, which may help pay the bills (and I’ve heard that Mr. Cage has had trouble paying his bills) but they don’t get you many rave reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.
Which brings us to Rage, a 2014 crime drama which is not much of a drama and has very little crime. But it is filmed in scenic Mobile, Alabama. So there you go. I have no idea what that means either.
Paul McGuire (Cage) is a well respected Mobile Alabama construction magnate. He’s wealthy, connected, and a loving husband to wife Vanessa (Nichols) and daughter Caitlin (Aubrey Peeples). He was also a former thief and brutal thug who worked for the local Irish crime boss O’Connell (Stormare) when he was a teen – who loved to dispatch his foes with a rather large knife.
Hey, we all have some things in our past we want to forget about. I was in the Webelos for a week!
Paul’s normal life comes to a screeching halt when Caitlin is violently kidnapped from her home by masked gunmen while she was entertaining friends. When the local detective St. John (Danny Glover, way too old for this shit) has no leads and Caitlin’s lifeless body is recovered a few days later, Paul grabs his trusty knife, assembles his old crime buddies Kane (Ryan) and Danny (McGrady) and heads out for a little justice – Irish mob in Alabama style!
Paul suspects the local Russian mob killed Caitlin in retaliation for a robbery young Paul committed a while back that left one mobster dead and Paul and his crew very rich. Paul used that money to buy his freedom from the mob, which apparently harder to get out of than a gym membership.
O’Connell warns Paul that picking off Russian mobsters will lead to an all out war that be very bad for both mobs and lots of innocent bystanders. But since Mobile appears completely empty except for bad guys during the entire film thinning out the mob population might be a good idea.
Rage has fits and spurts of violence and Paul and his crew trash a few Russian mob joints and beat a few mobsters for clues to the identities of Caitlin’s killer, which cheeses off the head Russian mobster Chernov (Pasha D. Lynchnikoff) who now wants to break the mob truce with O’Connell to kill Paul.
Seriously, who knew Mobile Alabama was such a hotbed of Irish and Russian mob activity? Lynard Skynard never mentioned this in their song. Sweet Home Alabama indeed.
With all the buildup Rage reaches a not very exciting climax when Caitlin’s killer is revealed. I’m not going to ruin the plot twist for you, but let’s just say that fewer Russian and Irish mobsters wouldn’t have died if Paul let Detective St. John investigate things thoroughly before he got all stabby. As the movie ends poor Paul is left to contemplate his mistakes as his enemies close in for the kill. I guess his construction business is up for grabs.
Rage is not a very good movie, but it taught me a few things – Mobile Alabama is pretty quiet except for all the mobsters, carrying a big ass knife in a shoulder holster is not only practical but pretty bad ass, and Nicholas Cage deserves so much better.
How about a sequel to The Rock?
No, not Guarding Tess. That movie said all it had to say.
Every February DVD Critics Corner takes a look at the movies that have been taking up space in the My List section of our Netflix page.
They could be movies that barely made it to the local multiplex. Or, movies that became “Direct to DVD” gems just waiting to be noticed.
Or movies that are so craptacular everyone involved has publically disavowed ever taking part in their creation. You be the judge!
I, Frankenstein (2014)
Director: Stuart Beattle
Starring: Aaron Ekhart, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto, Jai Courtney, and Bill Nighy
Plot: Dr. Frankenstein’s creation is alive and well in 2014 and battling demons in an unnamed European city because Mary Shelley is dead and can’t see what’s become of her beloved characters.
Rating: PG-13 for gargoyles killing demons and demons killing gargoyles and so on and so on….
Victor Frankenstein’s monster is alive and well and battling the forces of evil bent on tearing the modern world apart in I, Frankenstein. If you think the monster was angry when he was awakened in 1795, imagine what kind of a mood he’s in in after wandering the world for over 200 years keeping up with current fashions and learning how Tinder works.
Nobody should know how Tinder works!
As the movie opens, Dr. Victor Frankenstien is hunting his monstrous creation across the globe. It seems the monster wasn’t so happy about being born and killed Victor’s wife. The chase takes to the two all the way up the Artic where the frigid weather is just fine for an electric powered monster, but not so fine for Victor, who dies.
The Monster (Aaron Eckhart channeling Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine) takes Victor’s body back to the Frankenstein family plot for burial (even walking abominations have a sense of closure) where he is attacked by some demons who look human but morph into humans in ugly rubber masks. Before Monster Aaron can lay a beatdown on the demons, a couple of the gargoyle statues come to life and join the fight.
Worst funeral ever.
Anyhoo, the human looking gargoyles take the Monster to Lenore (Miranda Otto) who is Queen of the both the Gargoyles and plot exposition. She dubs the Monster Adam and tells him gargoyles have been protecting earth from demons for centuries using magic weapons and highly choreographed movie fighting. She asks Adam to help them battle demons but he refuses because Dr. Frankenstein didn’t build his kid to be a team player.
220 or so years later, Adam is still alive, and thankfully has traded in his tattered rags for a stylish hoodie and coat combo to better blend in with the other skateboarders and baristas. Unfortunately those pesky demons have not left Adam alone the past two centuries, so he has supplemented his lonely brooding with occasional demon killing.
While in some unnamed European city (maybe London, I’m not sure) to do some slaying, Adam’s bloody antics attract the attention of Lenore (who looks fabulous after 220 years) who wants to punish Adam for killing demons without a permit or something.
Meanwhile, Demon Prince Naberius (Bill Nighy) who is a bazillionaire in human form, is trying to unlock the secrets of reanimating the dead for reasons that can’t be good. When he learns that reanimated dead guy Adam just so happens to be in town, he dispatches every demon in the city (Paris? not really sure) to capture Adam to help unlock the secrets of Dr. Frankenstein’s science.
All heck breaks loose in the last half of I, Frankenstein as Adam and his Gargoyle pals wage a war to stop the Naberius from reanimating the dead with dead demon spirits thus causing a huge surge in the undead population in WHATEVER GODDAMN CITY THIS MOVIE TAKES PLACE IN.
WHY CAN’T THEY TELL US WHAT CITY IT IS?
I don’t ask for much.
If you watch I, Frankenstein and notice some major similarities between this movie and any of the Underworld movies, give yourself a high five because I, Frankenstein is basically Underworld with Gargoyles instead of vampires, demons instead of werewolves and Aaron Eckhart subbing for a rubber suited Kate Beckinsdale. Even Bill Nighey plays basically the same character in both movies!
When I first noticed this movie was ripping off Underworld I thought the producers of the Underworld movies have grounds for a huge lawsuit, but then I learned Kevin Grevioux, creator of Underworld is behind I, Frankenstein as well.
So, he basically ripped off his own idea and sold it to Lionsgate who made the exact same movie another studio made in 2003.
Bravo Kevin. Bravo.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
Directed by: Jonathan Liebsman
Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fitchner, Tohoro Masamune, and for some reason Whoopi Goldberg.
Plot: Genetically mutated turtles trained in the martial arts battle Shredder and his army who are terrorizing New York. Just like they did in the 80’s comic book. And the 80’s animated series. And the 90’s live action film series. And the 90’s live action TV series. And the second animated series. And the CGI animated movie in 2007. And the third animated series.
Rating: PG-13 for martial arts violence and the near death of a friggin talking CG rat.
Unless you’re a bear living in the pacific northwest for the past thirty years (and congratulations to you – most Grizzlies don’t live past 25) you’ve probably heard of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
These “heroes in a half shell” have been fighting bad guys and scarfing pizza for generations of fans on TV and in movies. Plus, the turtles have had their names slapped on tons of merchandise over the years. including toys, videogames, bed sheets:
and breakfast cereal!
Nothing says “you’re famous” like a sugar loaded cereal with pizza shaped marshmallows!
Their first live action movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) was a huge hit with fans. The two sequels that followed were moderate successes, which is amazing considering one of the films featured an appearance by everybody’s least favorite 1990’s white man – Vanilla Ice.
After a two decade break from the big screen, the TMNT returned big time in the big budget action movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This reboot is produced by Transformers guru Michael Bay, so it’s chockfull of explosions, destruction of property, slow motion explosions and slow motion destruction of property. Oh, and our teenage turtles (along with Master Splinter are now computer generated which makes them look even more freakish even for creatures that live in a New York City Sewer.
TV reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox, who looks about as Irish as a San Genaro festival) is looking for a great story that will make her top dog at her station, but her bosses want her to keep doing fluff stories while everyone else reports on the dangerous Foot Clan, an armed gang that has been looting and terrorizing New York City. Against the advice of her lunkheaded cameraman Vernon (Will Arnett, who really needs to start saying no to a script or two), April strikes out on her own to track down this powerful crime organization.
While observing a Foot Clan robbery at the docks, April sees a quartet of ninja warriors take out the Clan and foil he robbery. A few days later the same mysterious group lays a smackdown on a squad of Foot Clan soldiers who took hostages in a subway station. Intrepid April learns the identities of the four vigilantes who have the courage to stand up to the evil Foot Clan: They’re the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
and great googamoogle are they scary looking!
April befriends the freakish ninjas and learns from their Master Splinter that they were part of a lab experiment run by (surprise!) April’s late Father and his partner Eric Sack (William Fitchner) to test a miracle mutagen that would cure all diseases, even that toe fungus thing that makes your feet all gross.
A lab fire destroyed the research lab and killed April’s father, but young April rescued a lab rat and four tiny turtles and set them loose in the sewer, where they mutated into giant walking talking creatures who know ninjitsu and bicker like any other loveable sitcom family!
But Sachs, now an evil billionaire is hell-bent on making more evil billions by capturing the turtles and using their blood to make an antidote for a virus he’s about to unleash on the unsuspecting citizens of New York City!
Oh, did I mention that Sachs is in cahoots with Shredder (Tohoru Masamune), the maniacal leader of the Foot Clan? He is. I told you – Sachs is evil!
TMNT as I said before, is loaded with plenty of action, violence, and mayhem, which can be expected from a Michael Bay production. That’s either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how much you enjoy Michael Bay’s movies. I happen to enjoy Bay’s movies as much as I enjoy a trip to the dentist for a long slow root canal while fighting a very bad stomach flu, but your love of the Bayman might differ.
But on a positive note, at the midway point of the movie there’s an extended chase down the side of a snow covered mountain that answers a question I’ve been pondering for two decades: can the shell of a mutant ninja turtle crush a Humvee?
The answer is yes. I can move on with my life now.
47 Ronin (2013)
Directed by: Carl Rinsch
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikuchi, Jin Akanishi
Plot: A few hundred years ago in Japan, a group of disgraced Samurai vow revenge when their lord is dishonored and murdered by the treacherous lord Kira. And for some reason Keanu Reeves is there too.
Rating: PG-13 for swords and the stabbing and slashing that comes with swords.
The swords and samurai epic 47 Ronin takes place in medieval Japan, where according to the narrator, Emperors and Lords ruled the land, Samurais protected them with honor, and there was magic, witchcraft, and dragons.
Hey, you weren’t there. How do you know there weren’t any dragons? They probably rode them around like horses or kept them as pets. We really can’t be sure. Even Wikipedia doesn’t know. I checked.
One day Lord Asano, leader of the Ako domain, finds a little boy lost in the woods. The boy appears to possess magic powers, but Asano decides to take him home to his city, but since the boy is half English, his status among the townspeople and the Samurai is somewhere between village leper and a three legged dog. The half Japanese boy Kai grows up to be Keanu Reeves, who as an adult is still scorned by the Samurai, particularly Asano’s chief Samurai Oishi (Sanada) but is secretly dating Asano’s daughter Princess Miko (Shibasaki) because she’s attracted to unpopular bad boys her Dad won’t allow in the house and on the carpet.
Asano and Miko are pleased as punch because the big honcho of Japan – The Shogun is visiting Ako to inspect things and to make sure everyone is Japanese enough I guess. But evil Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano) with the help of his sexy Witch (Rinko Kikuchi) has a plan to mess things up at the big Samurai duel and humiliate Asano. Kai tries to stop Kira’s treacherous plans, but since he’s half English he’s beaten like a drum at Burning Man and a disgraced Asano must commit seppuku (a real ugly form of suicide) because The Shogun is a real hardass.
Oishi and his warriors are now Ronin, master less Samurai who must live the rest of their lives in shame and never seek revenge against the man who dissed their master. Oishi is thrown in a dungeon to keep him from going all stabby on Lord Kira, who plans to marry Miko in a year and take over Ako.
Nearly a year later Oishi is released from captivity. Kira thinks he has broken Oishi’s will to seek revenge, but Oishi is determined now more than ever to go extra stabby on Kira before he can take over his kingdom.
Note to all bad guys out there – never release the man who wants to kill you from the dungeon a week before your big plan is about to come to fruition! Come on! That’s on page one of the bad guy manual! Get your head out of your back porch rookie!
Anyhoo, Oishi sets out to reassemble his army and stop Kira. He first sets free Kai who has been traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for an infielder and a minor league prospect and..
Oh. Sorry, Kai was sold to a band of pirates and spends his days fighting in an arena of death.
I think I would prefer the latter. I’ve seen the Pirates play.
Oishi, Kai, and Oishi’s son Chikara (Jin Akanishi) locate the other Ronin, who have conveniently been living in the woods about a mile outside of Ako and together form a plan to take out Kira or die trying.
47 Ronin moves along as Kai meets up with some mystical dudes he knew as a kid who inform him he’s got magic powers that enable him to do incredible things very much like another Character Reeves played in another action epic 15 years earlier minus the long dark coats, the endless gunfire, and that Morpheus “he’s the one” crap.
Oishi and the Ronin bluff their way back into their old castle where Kira and reluctant Bride to be Miko are having a party on the eve of their wedding. Swords are drawn, armies clash, witches do witch stuff, foes are vanquished, and the palace caterers have a lot of cleaning up to do when the smoke clears. Unfortunately Oishi, Kai, and the Ronin don’t ride off happily into the sunset because they signed an oath to kill themselves when they avenge their Master’s death.
Which they do.
And then the movie is over.
47 Ronin is a valiant effort by everyone involved, but the results are more “direct to DVD” than “big time blockbuster.”
Plus, you see this menacing tattoo covered guy with the flintlock pistol who is featured prominently on the movie poster?
He’s in the movie for three seconds.
I kid you not. This freak has a smaller part in 47 Ronin than Stan Lee in every Marvel movie, and he’s hanging with Keanu on the one sheet. No, don’t put Oishi or Chikara on there, give the tattoo boy with one line second billing!
I guess it’s all about who you know. Typical Hollywood!
If superhero movies have taught us anything, it’s a team of awesome and capable characters are better than one when it comes to kicking butt.
Iron Man? Good. Iron Man plus Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye, and Black Widow? Skadoosh.
Without teamwork, you are lost. And without Lost, we never would have known about the Dharma Initiative.
Actually, not sure if that’s a bad thing.
Anyhoo, here’s another list of badass movie characters you’d want on your team when trouble comes calling.
Occupation: Bounty Hunters, galactic lawbreakers
As Seen In: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Pros: Rocket is a technological genius, hacker, escape artist. Groot is Groot. Cons: Rocket is homicidal, Groot is….well he’s Groot.
The Deal: It would be hard as heck to find a duo that did more damage on screen in 2014 than Rocket the Racoon and his houseplant/muscle Groot. Rocket is feisty, murderous and angry, and Groot is kind, gentle and strong. They’re the Odd Couple for the new century! Who wouldn’t want them on the team? Plus Groot can really bust a move.
Shining Moment: We are Groot.
Occupation: Game Show Contestant, Over thrower of Evil Governments
As Seen In: A bunch of those Hunger Games movies.
Pros: Expert archer, brave and selfless. Cons: Dates idiots.
The Deal: Not just another pretty face, Katniss is a plucky gal who doesn’t like to play games; especially when that game is a twisted reality show that’s a gory fight to the death. But Katniss took her first appearance on The Hunger Games and became a symbol of a strength and bravery, making her the perfect leader for a revolution. So if you need a team member to make a rousing speech, Katniss is the one to go to. Plus she can kill lots of bad guys with her bow and arrow. Winning!
Shining Moment: That flaming dress. All kinds of fabulous, girlfriend!
Occupation: Paranormal investigator, monster puncher
As Seen In: Hellboy (2004), Hellboy: The Golden Army (2008)
Pros: Practically indestructible. Cons: Smoker, eats a lot, cat person
The Deal: You want muscle? Hellboy has muscle to spare. It’s probably because he’s a demon from Hell. I hear most Hellspawn are pretty jacked. But it’s okay, he’s on our side. As a lead investigator for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, Hellboy has seen a lot of weird stuff, and has a huge assortment of weapons to combat weird stuff, so keep him fed and try to ignore his huge collection of pet cats, and things will be hunky and dory.
Shining Moment: Dropping a huge gear on Kroenen in Hellboy. Big time pwnage.
Occupation: LAPD Detective, suicidal loner
As Seen In: Lethal Weapon 1-4
Pros: Martial arts master, very good with guns. Cons: Uses lots of ammo, could be crazy, smoker.
The Deal: Look up loose cannon in Wikipedia, and you’ll see a picture of Martin Riggs firing hundreds of bullets at bad guys while destroying a ton of police and city property. He loves to break stuff. Like Hellboy, Riggs is pretty much indestructible. He’s been shot, stabbed, hit by cars, yet he keeps coming back for his weekly paycheck. Don’t let him show you that trick he does with his shoulder. Not pretty.
Shining Moment: Beating the crap out of Gary Busey in the first Lethal Weapon. You deserve a medal, dude.
Occupation: Doesn’t matter. He’s Morgan Freeman.
As Seen In: Wherever he is needed.
Pros: Have you heard his voice? Cons: Shut up.
The Deal: Whatever character Morgan Freeman plays is really good at what he does. From outfitting Batman to fixing a crippled dolphin, the man has skills. Use them!
Shining Moment: Didn’t you get the memo?
This is DVD Critics Corner’s 100th post. Thanks for reading.
Director: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, and Bryan Cranston
Plot: A bunch of horrifying creatures terrorize a city and the world is powerless to stop them! Wait, that’s the plot of Smurfs 2.
Rating: PG-13 for CG explosions and destruction of perfectly good real estate.
Godzilla is a gigantic lizard/dinosaur type creature who rises out of the ocean every once in a while to teach the children of Japan valuable lessons about friendship and love, and if time permitting, fight other monsters.
The original Godzilla films featured men in monster suits fighting on sets with miniaturized buildings that were stepped on and crushed while model planes on wires flew over their rubber heads, thus proving that early monster movies were really flipping fun to make.
In 1998 Godzilla was reborn as a fully computer generated monster in Roland Emmerich’s actioner Godzilla, unfortunately audiences didn’t warm up to this high tech addition to the franchise. Probably because the mighty Godzilla the king of the monsters was brought down by Matthew Broderick.
After a 16 year vacation the big green dinosaur we all know and love returned to the big screen earlier this year in a movie entitled (wait for it…) Godzilla. This modernized version doesn’t have rubber monster suits and hoards of Japanese extras running in terror. But is does have the guy from Breaking Bad, Kick-Ass from Kick-Ass, and the Olsen sister who can actually act.
So that’s a good thing. Right?
In 1999, a mining expedition in the Philippines unearth some huge dinosaur like creatures. One of them swims towards Japan where it causes a nuclear powerplant to overload killing lots of scientists and the wife of plant manager Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston, the guy from Breaking Bad). 15 years later Brody with the help of his Navy officer son Ford (the kid from Kick-Ass) return to the plant to find out what exactly happened and instead find a bunch of scientists from the top secret Project Monarch milling about. Before Brody can exclaim “I knew there was a conspiracy!” he’s killed when a giant creature explodes out of the ground and flies away, leaving Ford to be the lead actor for the rest of the movie.
Soon Ford, Project Monarch scientist Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and the United States Navy are racing across the globe to stop these giant creatures now dubbed MOTUS – yes there are two of them now as another one shows up and crushes the Vegas strip. I guess he couldn’t get Brittany Spears tickets.
Oh woe is us! If only there were a larger creature out there somewhere who could rise from the depths to battle these giant MOTUS and bring peace to the planet?
Godzilla turns into a battle royale as our title character steps into the ring against the two MOTUS who look like a praying mantis on a bad day. Unfortunately the battle takes place in San Francisco, which gets flattened in the process. But don’t worry, it’s just a computer generated San Francisco so stomp those buildings Godzilla! It’s not like all those people are real or anything!
Godzilla is a well made update of the classic monster movies many of us watched on a Saturday afternoon when we were kids. I’m all for a good updating of a classic film, but I miss the poorly dubbed dialogue andlow budget cheesiness that made those movies so special.
The miniature buildings, tiny pyrotechnics, and radio controlled tanks are gone. And so is the fun.
Sometimes the new isn’t as appealing as the old.
Tom Levier, creator and writer of DVD Critics Corner is on a temporary sabbatical and was unable to cover this breaking news story. In his place, we have recruited Tom’s 74 year old uncle Jack.
SOME KIND OF SUPERHERO MOVIE TRAILER IS ON THE INTERNET NOW
by Jack Levier
Apparently there’s a trailer for some kind of new movie that’s all over the internet that I’m supposed to tell you about. It’s got superheroes in it which is what all the movies are about these days. What’s with all the superheroes? Bunch of showoffs if you ask me. Anyway, this group of superheroes are called the Adventures or something, and they’re a team that protects the planet when Superman isn’t around I guess.
The members of The Adventures are Captain America, Iron Guy, the green thing, that guy with the hammer, the red haired girl, and bow and arrow man. The trailer has them running around and breaking stuff, and the green thing and Iron Guy fight for some reason, the red haired girl drives a motorcycle and there’s some robot who wants to kill them all. Superman isn’t in this movie. My grandson says he’s part of another comic book universe like I’m supposed to know what that means. He has a lip ring. Like that’s going to get him a good job.
Anyway, here’s the trailer to this Adventures movie which doesn’t come out for another seven months. I don’t think it will be a hit. But what do I know? I’m still waiting for them to bring back Flash Gordon. Now HE was a super hero.
3 Days to Kill (2014)
Starring: Kevin Costner, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen, Amber Heard
Plot: Aging CIA agent with serious health problems tries to get some family time in but is forced to do one last job because the CIA hates families!
Rating: PG-13 for gunplay, explosions, and close quarter punchin’ and kickin’.
Hey kids. Let me tel you all about this movie I just watched! It stars an aging movie star who plays a badass assassin…
No, its not Taken.
Anyway, he has a young daughter he’s trying to shield from his dangerous career but…
No, it’s not Taken 2.
It’s written by Luc Besson and it has some car chases and gunfights and..
No! Its not Taken 3, which is coming to a theater near you on January 9, 2015!
Why do we always have to argue when I’m doing the blog?
3 Days to Kill stars Kevin Costner, the untouchable man who danced with wolves and fielded dreams in Waterworld. He plays Ethan Renner, a veteran CIA spy on a mission with his team to capture a pale bad guy known as The Albino (Tomas Lemarquis) who is trying to sell a dirty bomb to some dirty people. Unfortunately, things turn south as the often do in these movies and bullets start flying and stuff gets blown up and lots of European guys get dead. Oh, and the Albino escapes.
Feeling a bit under the weather after the disasterous mission, Ethan gets a checkup from his CIA doctor and finds out he’s got a brain tumor that will kill him faster than Message in a Bottle killed his comeback in 1999.
Hoping to make the most of the last few months he has, Ethan heads back to Paris to reconnect with his estranged wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) and his daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld) who he abandoned long ago for the demands of his job. Christine barely tolerates his return and Zooey knows very little about her Dad, and wonders if he is in fact a travelling salesman as he claims to be. Maybe it’s because he always smells like gunpowder and is covered in fresh bruises whenever he visits.
But before Ethan can book is first daddy/daughter day, he is approached by another CIA operative Vivi (Amber Heard) who makes him an offer the former Prince of Thieves cannot refuse: find and kill The Albino’s boss, a man known only as The Wolf, and Ethan will receive an experimental drug that will cure him.
Ethan is not so sure if he can trust Vivi, but since she gives him a sample of the treatment for free, and since he has to do something during the day when Zooey is at school, he takes the job.
Before we continue with the review, I’d like to go of on a slight tangent.
Look, I know we as movie viewers are expected to suspend disbelief a bit when we watch these CIA spy type films, but Vivi is without a doubt the worst secret agent in the history of movies.
First, she maintains a “low profile” by wearing a Lady Gaga wig and dressing like a European dominatrix:
Second, in keeping with the “I’m a spy so I must maintain a low profile” thing, she tools around Paris at breakneck speed in a sports car:
And finally, Viv the super covert /don’t attract any attention/ leave no traces/ top secret spy racks up a body count that rivals the opening 15 minutes of Saving Private Ryan:
Just so we are clear, WORST. SPY. EVER.
Okay, tangent over. I won’t pick on Vivi any more. I’m sure leather corsets are in the CIA budget somewhere.
Anyhoo, the rest of 3 Days to Kill jumps back and forth between Ethan trying to win back his estranged daughter and Ethan trying to hunt down and kill The Wolf. There’s also subplots involving the African family squatting in Ethan’s old apartment, and a henchman for The Albino who Ethan kidnaps for information then kidnaps a few more times to ask him for parental advice when he learns the guy has teenage daughters of his own.
See? A top secret CIA spy has regular problems just like the rest of us regular Joes!
3 Days to Kill draws to a rousing and bullet riddled climax when Ethan’s two worlds collide during a huge party at the penthouse apartment owned by the family of Zooey’s boyfriend. You thought your Mom and Dad meeting your sweetheart’s Mom and Dad for the first time was awkward, you should try it with gunplay! Hoo boy! I hope the caterers brought some extra bandages!
Despite having the writer from Taken, the father/daughter dynamic of Taken, and the European setting of Taken, I have to admit I was not taken at all by 3 Days to Kill. Costner took the director’s note to look tired and sickly and ran with it, because he looks like he’d rather be someplace else the entire movie, and Amber Heard’s character is from a completely different movie altogether.
That movie is about the WORST. SPY. EVER.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lily, Orlando Bloom
Plot: Bilbo Baggins and his dwarf pals continue their journey to fight a dragon and kill things.
Rating: PG-13 for swords clashing and scary monsters monstering.
Good day, class!
It’s September, and that means it’s time for the little miscreants – sorry, students to return to school for another fun filled year of readin’, writin’, and that stuff you do with numbers that makes no sense whatsoever.
Since the younglings will be facing a whole bunch of tests in the coming weeks, I though it would be a hoot if we took a quiz based on a DVD I recently viewed – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, directed by Peter Jackson.
So take out a sheet of paper and a pencil and we will begin. Keep your eyes on your own papers please, and no cheating or you’ll have to eat the food in the cafeteria as punishment.
1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a continuation of an epic movie saga based on a series of books by:
A) J.R.R. Tolkian
B) R.J.R Nabisco
C) J.R.J.R.R. Tolllkiann Jr.
D) That fat guy with the hat who writes Game of Thrones.
2. In this movie, Bilbo and his Dwarf companions:
A) Continue their journey to Lonely Mountain to reclaim the Dwarf Kingdom.
B) Fight deadly adversaries at every turn.
C) Resist the urge to stop and bathe once in a while.
D) All of the above.
3. When giant spiders capture the dwarves and wrap them up in their webs, Bilbo frees them by using:
A) A huge rolled up newspaper.
B) The magical One Ring Bilbo stole from Gollum in the previous movie.
C) A can of Raid Giant CG Ant, Roach, and Spider Killer.
D) His glorious singing voice, which charmed the spiders into making Bilbo their King!
4. The Wood Elves:
A) Have a long standing animosity for the Dwarf race.
B) Are unwilling to help the Dwarves in their quest to defeat Smaug.
C) All dress like they’re in some 1970’s glam rock band.
5. Evangeline Lily plays Tauriel, an elf warrior who:
A) Is Chief of the Elvenking’s guards.
B) Goes against the Elvenking’s wishes and helps Bilbo and the Dwarves
C) Is one of only two chicks in all of Middle Earth! Seriously, this movie is one giant sausage fest!
6. Azog and his Orc army are still chasing our heroes because:
A) Azog wants to kill Thorin like he killed Thorin’s father decades earlier.
B) He wants to destroy all Darves.
C) He’s just a giant, evil, asshole.
D) All of the above.
7. At the climax of the movie, Bilbo sneaks into Lonely Mountain and meets Smaug. Smaug:
A) is a fierce dragon with immense powers.
B) holds captive the vast treasure of the Dwarf kingdom – a literal mountain of gold!
C) is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, star of the popular BBC series Sherlock.
D) Which is totally awesome, by the way. I cant wait for the next series.
E) Martin Freeman is great in that show too. They make a great team.
F) Wait, what are we talking about?
8. While watching The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, I thought:
A) This is another well made film by Peter Jackson.
B) The fight scenes were exciting and the effects were amazing!
C) Did everyone in New Zealand work on this movie?
D) Orlando Bloom is the prettiest elf of them all!
Please pass your papers forward. I will grade them sometime between Friday and never.
WORLD WAR Z (2013)
Director: Marc Forster
Starring: Brad Pitt, Marielle Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale, Fana Mokoena
Plot: In your head, In your head, Zombie! Zombie!
Rating: PG-13 for violent zombie rampages that aren’t gory enough to warrant an R rating.
A zombie apocalypse? No thank you. Count me out compadre. No siree-bob.
Why? They’re noisy, frightening, and disgusting and nothing good ever comes from them. Basically a zombie apocalypse is like the Coachella Music Festival minus the hippies.
But when a global pandemic turns everyone into bloodthirsty zombies, you’ll be glad Brad Pitt is on your side and not me.
Trust me. I don’t do well under pressure. I burst into tears when Starbucks is out of Cranberry Orange Scones.
On a beautiful morning in Philadelphia, retired United Nations investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is having breakfast with his beautiful wife and daughters, who are also by some amazing coincidence beautiful too! Their perfect TV commercial family world is blown to heck when a mysterious viral outbreak rumbles through Philadelphia, turning normal citizens into violent bloodthirsty maniacs with a taste for human flesh. And no, I’m not talking about Phillies fans, I’m talking Zombies!
And these aren’t the usual shuffle along at one mile an hour zombies you see in the movies – these are the stampede at you full speed and climb up buildings to get to you zombies which is totally unfair for a guy like me who can barely break the 20 minute mile on the treadmill. So I guess slowpokes like me are zombie food before the opening credits are over. Great, a zombie and I’m in Philadelphia. Not sure which is worse.
Anyhoo, Gerry and his family manage to escape Philly and head for the safety of Newark New Jersey, where the zombie outbreak has also taken place, but very few people notice. Luckily, Gerry puts a call to his best buddy, UN Deputy Secretary Umutoni (Fana Mokoena) who picks up the Lane family in a chopper and takes them to a Navy ship in the ocean where the remnants of the United Stated government are trying to figure out how to stop the zombies while voting on who is the next secretary of transportation.
And so Gerry begins a one man journey to find out where the zombie virus originated and how to stop it before the entire world is destroyed. He heads to South Korea, where there are zombies and some clues to the origin of the outbreak, then to Jerusalem where there are more zombies and more clues, then finally to a remote World Health Organization lab in Cardiff where he figures out a cure, but the ingredients to the cure are in a sealed off section of the compound which are surrounded by – wait for it – zombies!
World War Z moves along at a pretty urgent pace as Brad Pitt tries to stay one step ahead of the zombie hoards that are engulfing the planet. The movie hints of a possible sequel, but since this movie didn’t make a ton of money I’d say this is a one shot zombie apocalypse.
I’ll say one thing about World War Z: With the entire world in flames and society as we know it collapsing it’s good to know that the airplanes are still running frequent flights around the globe. Of course, you and I aren’t superstars like Brad Pitt, so if we had to fly across country to stop a zombie apocalypse there’s a really good chance we’d have to change planes in Denver and have at least a two hour layover in Atlanta.
Why is it always a layover in Atlanta?