Proper Planning prevents.. Something, Something, Something!

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ESCAPE PLAN (2013)

Director: Mikael Hafstrom

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Amy Ryan, Sam Neil, Vincent D’Onofrio

Plot: A prison escape expert is double crossed and finds himself in a high tech prison that is really super hard to escape from. I mean, they have lots of guards and locked doors and everything!

Rating: R for gunplay and bloodshed and guys getting clubbed and tazered. Surprisingly, not one single prison shower joke.

Without a doubt prison is number three on my list of places I hope to never go.

Number two is a live taping of the CBS sitcom Two Broke Girls: a show which deserves to be called a “comedy” the same way Schindler’s list could be categorized as a “the feel good movie of a lifetime.”

Number one on my list of places I hope to never go is the popular mall store Hot Topic. The loud music, the rubber bracelets, the posters and t-shirts featuring bands I’ve never heard of; Hot Topic is the overstocked  Sarlaac pit I hurriedly dash past on the way to the soft pretzel guy.

I loves a good soft pretzel.

Anyhoo, a high tech escape-proof prison is the setting of Escape Planwhere the guards are cruel, the discipline is swift, and the cafeteria menu is loaded with sodium and carbs! Oh, and you’ll probably die trying to escape.

Ray Breslin (Stallone) is a structural engineering genius and prison escape expert who is paid by maximum security prisons to try to break out of their prisons. It must be a pretty lucrative job because Ray has a huge office building with a fun support staff and an oily partner named Clark (D’Onofrio) who probably won’t screw him over.

Ray is approached by the CIA to break out of a super top secret prison so secret, they can’t tell Breslin and his team where it is. Ray takes the job along with the huge check that comes with it, but before he can say “you can always trust the CIA,” he’s thrown in a truck, drugged and taken to the super-secret prison which is code named The Tomb, where everyone lives in tiny cubicles and there is no windows to the outside world. Sounds like my old apartment in New York.

Turns out (big surprise here) Ray has been royally screwed over. The warden who was supposed to be his contact is in fact another guy named Hobbes (Jim Caviezel) who knows nothing about Ray’s real identity and assignment and has different set of orders: Keep the breakout expert locked away forever or maybe longer, and kill him if he tries to escape.

Ray now has to put all his skills to use to break out of the most secure prison ever built. Luckily he’s befriended by a veteran con named Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger) who knows plenty about the prison and also wants to escape before the warden can torture information out of him about some master criminal named Mannheim who Rottmayer works for.

Escape Plan is full of suspense and intrigue as Ray teaches Rottmayer the intricacies of prison escape planning while trying to uncover the identity of the bad guys who wanted him locked up. Can these two tough guys put aside their differences long enough to realize that they love each other like no other prisoners have loved each other before?

Oh wait, that’s another prison movie. Forget I said that.

Things draw to a slam bang conclusion as Ray and Rottmayer lead a full scale riot to escape the escape proof Tomb. There’s a great plot twist at the end when Ray finally learns who put him in the Tomb which nearly cost him his life, but I’m not ging to give it away because I don’t like to spoil things. Also, I have a terrible short term memory so I don’t remember what happened at the end of the movie any way.

Speaking of movies, did I tell you about Escape Plan starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger?

In conclusion; if you grew up watching the action movies of Stallone and Schwarzenegger, you’ll enjoy seeing these two big screen legends share a movie for the very first time.

If you were too young to remember or weren’t even born when these guys ruled the summer blockbuster movie season, you’re obviously one of those “millennials”  the internet news reports are always yammering about. You with your fixie bikes and SXSW festival things. I bet if Sylvester Stallone was an iPhone app you’d know who he was! Now get off my lawn!

I’m just kidding. You youngsters are fine.

Seriously get off the lawn. I just seeded.

A Wolverine Abroad!

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THE WOLVERINE (2013)

Director: James Mangold

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Rila Fukushima, Tao Okamoto, Hal Yamanouchi, Famke Janssen

Plot: Did you ever see The Bad News Bears go to Japan?  It’s exactly like that.

Rating: PG-13 for shooting and stabbing with the claws and more stabbing with swords. There’s a whole lot of stabbing.

I’m not a big follower of the X-Men movies and characters, but I do know that Wolverine (also known as Logan) played by Hugh Jackman is without a doubt the most popular character of the bunch.

Sorry Halle Berry.

And what’s not to love about this Canadian loner? He’s mean and surly, he’s quite fond of mumbling, he loves a stiff drink and a good cigar, and when push comes to shove he unleashes his adamantium claws and turns his foes into thinly sliced deli meat.

Oh, and he calls everyone “bub.” Love this guy!

The Marvel folks love Wolverine so much he got a second movie to star in all by his angry self. This movie, simply titled The Wolverine has our moody hero traveling to Japan to settle old scores, make some new enemies, and figure out once and for all what the hell is up with Japanese game shows!

As the movie opens, poor Logan/Wolverine is living alone in the woods of his native Canada, still brooding about that time in  X-Men: The Last Stand where he had to kill fellow X-person Jean Grey, who Logan loved but she only loved him as a friend, and we all know how those kinds of relationships turn out!

One night Logan is approached by a mysterious girl named Yukio (Rila Fukushima) who has been sent by a Japanese bazillionaire Yashida to find Logan and bring him to Japan for a reunion. Turns out a young Yashida was saved by Logan when the A-bomb destroyed Nagasaki at the end of World War II, and since he’s a bazillionaire now he wants to pay Logan back with what I assume will be one of those giant Publishers Clearinghouse checks and a lifetime supply of Omaha Steaks.

Logan travels with Yukio to Japan and reunites with Yashida who is dying of old age. He makes Logan an incredible offer – Yashida has the technology to transfer Logan’s mutant healing power to his frail and dying body so he may live again, which will also take away Logan’s immortality which he always hated anyway.

I can see why Logan hates being immortal. I mean, how would you like it if you stayed young and healthy forever while the jerks in your life grew old and died?

Wait, can I change my answer?

Anyhoo before Logan can give his final answer, Yashida dies. At the huge funeral, all heck breaks loose when members of the Yakuza (the Japanese Mob) try to kidnap Mariko (Tao Okamoto), Yashida’s granddaughter and heir to the family fortune. Logan and Yukio (who by an amazing stroke of luck is a master of martial arts) prevent Mariko from being taken, and Logan is now on the run with Mariko as they try to figure out what the heck is going on and who wants Mariko dead.

Oh, and to make things interesting, a mysterious blonde lady (Svetlana Khodchenkova) uses her mutant powers to rid our man Wolverine of his healing powers – which makes Logan rethink his usual fighting technique of letting the bad guys shoot him repeatedly until they run out of ammo and then killing them.

The Wolverine bounces from on action scene to another as Logan battles Yakuza thugs on the roof of a bullet train, fights ninjas in a Japanese village, and battles a giant silver robot samurai because it’s freakin Japan and they invented giant silver robot samurai. The film drags in spots to give Logan a few romantic scenes with the lovely Mariko, who should know that The Wolverine aint got no time for love when there’s bad guys to be sliced and diced bub!

Once again, Hugh Jackman does a fine job as the super stabby anti-hero we all know and love. Personally, I think Jackman should get some kind of award for the  thousands of hours he spends in the gym to achieve the super ripped physique required to play Wolverine. At the very least I hope his gym gives him free towels or coupons for free smoothies at the juice bar. That would be nice.

This Movie was in my Netflix Instant Queue: Zombie Hunter!

This month DVD Critics Corner takes a look at a few of the movies that have been collecting dust in the Netflix Queue. These “direct to DVD” gems never made it to your local cinema for some reason. Do we really need to know why? Of course we do.

This review contains lots of SPOLIERS, but let’s be honest, you are never going to watch this movie. Ever.

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Title: ZOMBIE HUNTER (2013)

Director: K. King

Cast: Danny Trejo, Martin Copping, Claire Neiderpreum, Terry Guthrie, Jade Reiger, Jason K. Wixom, Jake Suazo

GENRES: Action and Adventure, Horror, Action Thriller, B-Horror, Campy, Zombie Horror

This Movie is (According to Netflix) Violent and Campy

Rating: Not rated, but probably R.

Netflix Synopsis: When a street drug turns junkies into an army of zombies, Hunter finds himself with nothing but a beat-up car and a trunk full of guns and booze. Eventually, he stumbles across a small band of survivors.

The Dealy:

A TV newscast is running a story about the latest designer drug that is sweeping the country – NATAS: more addictive than marijuana, cocaine, crystal meth, and caramel mocha latte combined. We see a pair of teens in a flop house shoot up the pepto bismol colored drug, then turn into zombies and eat each other.

This is your brain. This is your brain on NATAS being eaten by a zombie. Any questions?

The movie cuts to a year later, and like every zombie movie the United States is now a barren wasteland. Pockets of survivors run and hide from the zombie hoards now roaming the countryside. It is here we meet the star of Zombie Hunter, a rugged loner who travels the highways killing zombies one at a time and living each day one at a time. He is:

Not Danny Trejo!

This friggin guy!

Sorry fans of veteran bad ass character actor Danny Trejo, but”El Machete” isn’t really the star of this movie, even though his face is on the poster and his name is above the title.

Truth be told, he’s in the movie for about twenty minutes.

I know. I feel violated too.  But since the budget of Zombie Hunter was about the size of a Junior High School production of Annie, I guess they thought having a B-List action star Danny Trejo in the film for a few minutes is better than nothing, right?

Dear Lord, why must they fill my house with LIES!!!

The lead in Zombie Hunter is a known only known by one name: Hunter. A zombie killing drifter, Hunter (Martin Copping) is man who’s made up of so many different movie characters it’s a wonder he’s able to walk straight:

Like Mad Max, he drives a black muscle car, wields a double barreled shotgun, and wears black leather biker duds.

He speaks (and narrates the film) in a low growl like a spaghetti western era Clint Eastwood or Christian Bale when he’s in Batman mode.

Like the Ents in the Lord of the Rings movies, he is tall, stiff, and about as expressive as a tree.

While cruising through the wastelands of New Mexizona or wherever Zombie Hunters was filmed, Hunter hooks up with a small band of survivors hiding out from the zombie herds. They are an eclectic group of intellectuals you wouldn’t want to be on line with at Starbucks much less fighting for survival in a post zombie apocalyptic wasteland. Let’s do a roll call!

Alison (Claire Neiderpreum) – A pretty girl who cooks for the group and tries to keep morale high. Her turn ons include guns, trucks, and lunk-headed loners who dress like post apocalyptic Australian cops.

Father Jesus (Danny Trejo) – A priest who carries a bible in one hand and an axe in the other. Me thinks Jesus was a bit of a hellraiser before the zombies came calling, but I’m not going to question a man who can slice and dice a dozen zombies and still have time for Sunday service.

“Fast Lane” Debbie (Jade Reiger) – The zombie apocalypse was especially hard on Debbie. Most of the men in America are dead so it’s really difficult for a whore like her to find a drunken redneck with low standards to hook up with. Lucky for her the survival fortress they live in has a stripper pole for her to practice her job skills!

Jerry (Terry Guthrie) – A mechanic who can’t seem to get a car started when needed, Jerry says “I’m getting to old for this shit” so many times Danny Glover gets a cut of his salary.

Ricky (Jason Wixom) – Alison’s younger brother. He’s either 11 or 20, it’s hard to tell. Good thing his sister has his back or else Father Jesus is using him as a shield during the next zombie attack.

Lyle (Jake Suazo) – He’s a fat, slovenly, selfish douche nozzle. You will be glad when he dies.

Hunter learns the survivors want to travel to a nearby air base where they hope to find a plane to fly them to an island in the pacific with minimal zombies and no income tax laws. But before Hunter and his new pals can put their plans into action, the zombies attack again because this group of hardened survivors forgot rule #1 of surviving a zombie attack: Lock the front gate!

Oh, and to make things even more difficult for Hunter and crew, for reasons not explained some zombies have mutated into 9 foot tall monster zombies with giant claws and cloven hooves for feet. Look, they paid some computer guys a lot of money for CG blood splatter and decapitations, they might as well throw in a few Resident Evil style mutants! For as the late great Alfred Hitchcock famously said “Who needs plot exposition and character development when you’ve got cloven hooved mutants!” *

Zombie Hunters has everything you’d expect from a low budget direct to Netflix zombie apocalypse adventure, and for that you have my deepest condolences.  The problem is the movie rips off so many other zombie flicks and mainstream action movies it neglected to focus on the two things that would have made Zombie Hunter a totally awesome direct to DVD horror fest:

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Danny Trejo and a big axe.

Dump the Mad Max wannabe who mumbles his dialogue, get rid of the 5 people from different backgrounds trying to live together in harmony during an apocalypse, just give me 90 minutes of Danny Trejo slicing and dicing  zombie hoards.

That’s all I want. Is it too much to ask?

 

* – Alfred Hitchcock did not say that. It might have been David Lean.

A Leatherface Only A Mother Could Love!

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TEXAS CHAINSAW  3D (2013)

Director: John Luessenhop

Starring:  Alexandra Daddario, Trey Songz, Dan Yeager, Tania Raymonde, Keram Malicki-Sanchez 

Plot: A girl inherits a Texas home with 3 bedrooms, 2 and a half baths, a full dining room, and a friggin loon with a chainsaw!

Rating: There’s a guy with a chainsaw hacking people to death. What do you think?

I’d like to kick things off with a little song I wrote just for this review, sung to the tune of The Beverly Hillbillies theme song:

Let me tell you folks a story ‘bout a creepy kinda place,

Where some stupid teens got introduced to good ol’ Leatherface.

There was blood and guts and carnage, disembowelments – how bizarre!

It’s a hootenanny at the Texas Chainsaw Massa-car!

Okay, I haven’t gotten the rhyming part down yet. Maybe I’ll be a rapper!

In 1974 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre introduced the innocent movie audiences to Leatherface, a unique fellow who wore masks made of human skin and enjoyed turning unsuspecting teenagers into Purina Dog Chow with his huge chainsaw.  Naturally people loved the guy.

TCM spawned three sequels, a remake, and a prequel to the remake. Among the highlights of those many movies:

In Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986) Leatherface has a climactic chainsaw battle with Dennis Hopper, who was probably on a ton of drugs at the time and thought he was actually having a fight to the death with a big guy with a chainsaw.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1997) was actually filmed in 1994 and featured two unknown actors named Matthew McConaughy and Renee Zellweger.  Renee and Matty were very pissed when the movie was released in a few theaters in 1997 to capitalize on their new fame, which is kind of silly when you think the guy who starred in Failure to Launch and the girl who gave us New in Town actually gave a crap about their reputations at one time.

The true star of the super grizzly 2003 remake surprisingly titled The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was the tiny tank top our heroine Jessica Beil wore throughout the movie.  That flimsy patch of transparent cotton clung tightly to Miss Biel’s svelt figure during all the running, jumping, bouncing and jiggling she had to do to avoid being shredded by Leather’s mighty chainsaw. Simply outstanding.

Now comes the latest chapter in the Leatherface saga, this one simply entitled Texas Chainsaw. Ignoring all the previous storylines, this movie picks up right after the events of the original.

A blood soaked teen escapes the Sawyer farmhouse and is rescued just before Leatherface can do his famous cut you in half with a chainsaw. The local Sherriff (Thom Barry) is about to arrest Leatherface and the Sawyer clan when a group of vigilantes led by King of the rednecks Burt Hartman (Paul Rae) attack the farmhouse and burn it to the ground. A baby is found and quickly adopted by one of the attackers because bloodthirsty vigilantes cannot be bothered with adoption agencies! Thinking that the Sawyer clan is wiped out, the townspeople go back to their peaceful non murdering lives.

Twentysomething years later, we meet Heather (Alexandra Daddario), a strong willed woman who believes her midriff should be exposed for the world to see at all times. Heather receives word from a lawyer that her Grandmother (who she never knew about) has passed on and left her a very nice estate in sunny Newt, Texas. Thinking this is a road leading to riches, Heather and her midriff head off to cash in on her dead Granny’s estate.

Accompanying Heather on her quest is the standard group of victims you find in any horror fest; poor misguided youths who make bad decisions and get picked off by a killer with a tricked out Garden Weasel. Let’s do a quick role call!

Ryan, Heather’s boyfriend (Trey Songz) – A likable doofus who is not nearly in the same league as his sexy galpal. Luckily he will be killed before he realizes their relationship needs some serious work.

Nikki, Heather’s best friend (Tania Raymonde) – Since movie rules dictate that she’s not allowed to be as hot as our heroine, Nikki differentiates herself by being easier than first grade math. She’s the girl who reflexively yells out “Woooooo!” when the word party is uttered.

Kenny, Nikki’s boyfriend (Keram Malicki Sanchez) – He’s the one who goes off to investigate the strange noise coming from the cellar, never to bee seen in solid form again. Poor Dope. Good thing he dies before he finds out his girlfriend is the Queen of Whore Island.

Naturally, things get a bit messy when Heather and her pals discover that (big surprise) Leatherface (Dan Yeager) is living in the basement of the house and is not very pleased with a bunch of stupid kids making a mess in his Grandma’s nice house. Heather escapes the carnage and finds the Sherriff who offers to help, but his plans are thwarted by Burt and the surviving vigilantes who want to finish what they started years ago.

When Heather learns the identity of her chainsaw wielding cousin and what happened to her real family on that fateful night (A note to movie cops – never leave a big box labeled “evidence” lying around so anybody can read through it!), who will she side with when Leatherface has his final showdown with Burt and his evil posse?

Despite the unique plot twist at the end, Texas Chainsaw does very little to differentiate itself from the previous entries to the franchise. There’s stupid young people, angry old people, lengthy conversations about the importance of family and the ties that bind us together.

It’s like Fried Green Tomatoes if Fried Green Tomatoes had a large man with a human skin mask wielding a chainsaw.

You know, something we all can relate to!

The Smith Family Vacation!

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AFTER EARTH (2013)

DIRECTOR: M. Knight Shyamalan

STARRING: Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Sophie Okonedo, Zoe Kravitz

PLOT: Father and son do some bonding on a fierce planet that used to  be earth.

RATING: PG-13 for intense scenes with CG animals and a big ass alien bug!

2013 was not a good year for movies set on earth in the future.

In Oblivion, earth 63 years in the future is a desolate wasteland populated by creepy robots and Tom Cruise, who is also a creepy robot.

In Elysium, earth circa 2157 is so messed up the only person the poor people can turn to is Matt Damon!

Yes, Matt Daaaaamon.

Matt Daaaaamon.

After Earth, starring Will Smith and his son Jaden is set over 1,000 years in the future, where a long abandoned earth has been reclaimed by nature.  The streets and highways have been replaced by green fields, the skyscrapers replaced by towering trees, and the adorable woodland creatures that used to populate earth have been replaced by bloodthirsty animals who are as vicious as they are computer generated. But there is no longer a Starbucks on every corner, so I’d say new earth is pretty damn great!

As the movie opens, human kind abandons earth because we forgot to pick up after ourselves and we left the water running or something.

They relocate to a planet called Nova Prime where everything is peaches and cream for about one thousand years until an alien race attacks, determined to wipe out mankind with huge six legged beasts called Ursa who hunt humans by smelling their fear.

But General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) of the United Ranger Corps has learned to mask his fear using a method that in no way involves the use of Axe body spray. The Rangers defeat the Ursa thanks to Cypher’s mind control trick, and Cypher is elevated to Fresh Prince levels of famous, but he’s become estranged from his family, especially his son Kitai (Jaden Smith) who wants to be a Ranger just like his awesome but neglectful Dad.

Hoping to reconnect with his boy, Cypher takes Kitai along on a Ranger Corps business trip to a neighboring planet, but things take a turn for the sucky when the ship is damaged in an asteroid storm, sucked into a wormhole and crash lands on earth.

Cypher and son survive the crash, but Cypher is severely injured and the only way to call for help is to find a distress beacon located in the tail section of the ship which is now miles away.

A brief aside: it’s comforting to know that designers and engineers 1,000 years into the future will still make ships with only one distress beacon that will still be located in the tail section of the craft – the one freaking thing that always breaks off and hits the ground miles away from where the rest of the ship will crash!

Kitai agrees to take on the dangerous mission to hike to the tail wreckage and signal for help.

Can the young Ranger in training survive the harsh flora and fauna of the planet of earth?

Can Kitai defeat the Ursa creature that escaped from the wreckage and is now stalking the jungle?

Why are Will and his son talking in some kind of weird Australian/Jamaican/ New Zealand accent?

Did you know the Six Sense guy directed this? Man, remember what a good movie that was?

Contrary to what you may have heard, After Earth is not the worst movie ever made. Not by a long shot.

As a person who loves watching, studying and absorbing bad movies since the cable company plugged the box into the house over 30 years ago, you can believe me when I tell you After Earth no danger of being added to the list of cinematic abominations that are in fact the worst movies ever made.

Smokey and the Bandit III is on this list.  The Ghost Rider movies are on the list. Charlies Angels: Full Throttle is on the list. Twice if I had my way.

The only thing After Earth is guilty of is being a boring vanity project Will Smith cooked up to introduce us to his son Jaden in the hopes that the movie going public we will embrace him like a new puppy we will hug, cuddle, take for longs walks in the park and love unconditionally even though the puppy in question has very little acting experience and practically zero on screen charisma.

What a waste of a puppy.

Die Even Harder than the Last Time Time You Died and then Lived Free Again! With A Vengeance!

die hard5A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (2013)

DIRECTOR: John Moore

STARRING: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Radivoje Bukvic

PLOT: Supercop John McClane runs out of stuff to destroy in the United States, so he meets up with his estranged son in Russia and destroys stuff there!

RATING: R for gunfire, explosions, violence, Bruce Willis and his potty mouth.

It’s hard to believe it’s been over 25 years since Bruce Willis exploded on to the big screen in Die Hard. The movie made Willis a superstar, and is a crowning achievement in the action movie genre. Willis’s movie alter ego Detective John McClane is one of the greatest action movie characters of all time; a man who has thwarted terrorist plots, killed armies of bad guys, and destroyed more property than your average  Category 3 Hurricane. And like an Energizer Bunny who curses a lot, McClane just keeps going and going…

If you’ve never seen any of the Die Hard movies (and in all seriousness if you haven’t, then we cannot be friends), here’s a quick synopsis of the franchise:

Die Hard (1988) – John McClane blows up an office tower in Los Angeles, kills Alan Rickman, saves Christmas.

Die Hard 2 (1990) – John McClane blows up an airport in Washington D.C., drives a snowmobile, saves Christmas again.

Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995) – John McClane destroys Wall Street, a subway, a cargo ship, and kills Jeremy Irons all with a terrible hangover and Samuel L. Jackson screaming at him throughout the whole movie.

Live Free or Die Hard (2007) – John McClane thwarts a cyber terrorists plot to rob the internet, beats up a fighter jet, miraculously stops himself from killing Justin Long.

Now John “yippee kay yay” McClane is back in A Good Day to Die Hard. This movie takes place in Russia, where the bad guys are big and beefy, the weather is dull and dreary, and those Yakov Smirnoff “In Soviet Russia” jokes are even less funny.  

As the movie opens, McClane is hanging around the Police station loading up his gun and waiting to shoot something when he learns his son Jack (Jai Courtney) has been arrested in Russia and is on trial for attempted murder. McClane heads off to Russia to patch things up with his estranged boy and have one of those charming father/son moments before the execution.

McClane is barely off the plane in Moscow before all heck breaks loose. The courthouse where Jack is being held for trial is attacked by a squad of heavily armed guys; which is par for the course since the Die Hard franchise invented the squad of heavily armed mercenaries that show up out of nowhere. The armed guys are trying to take out a political prisoner named Komarov (Sebastian Koch) who has some top secret info dating back to the Chernobyl disaster that evil Russian official Viktor Chagarin (Sergei Kolsesnikov) needs to destroy the world or to make him rich or something; it’s all the same with these Die Hard villains: money and world domination. But I guess this kind of villain is more exciting than a villain who only wants to control all the used car lots in the greater Sacramento area. To each his own I guess.

Anyway, Jack helps Komarov escape the courthouse attack, and as they flee, they run into dear ol’ Daddy McClane in the parking lot. A massive car chase follows between Jack, the heavily armed mercenaries, and of course McClane who just can’t miss an opportunity to destroy more Russian property than when the Luftwaffe was in town. When McClane finally catches up with Jack (and most of Moscow has stopped burning), he learns why sonny boy has missed so many Thanksgiving dinners: Jack is a deep cover secret agent assigned to rescue Komarov from prison so he can rat out Chagarin to the CIA. When Jack’s cover is blown and Chagarin’s heavily armed thugs destroy the CIA safehouse, the wild and crazy McClane boys are on the run trying to stay one step ahead of Chagarin while trying to figure out the super huge secret Komarov has been hiding all these years. Spoiler alert: It’s not the world’s best Chicken Kiev recipe.

McClane and son move from one action packed shootout to the next as Bruce Willis fires off his usual wisecracks and Jai Courtney does his best to remind you he is not Channing Tatum or Sam Worthington.  Luckily Jack McClane has inherited his Father’s Wile E. Coyote like ability to survive falls from very high places. I figure by the next Die Hard sequel they’ll just admit that John McClane and Wolverine from The X-Men are brothers from a different mother.

A Good Day to Die Hard has all stuff you’ve seen in all the previous Die Hard movies, and judging by the lazy line readings and the “Has the check cleared” look he has on his face for the entre run time, maybe Bruce Willis knows this too. I guess they thought having McClane’s badass secret agent son along for the ride would keep things fresh, but unfortunately Jai Cortney is so wooden it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if his parents were in fact a couple of Adirondack chairs.

But hey, at least John McCLane got to travel to another country in this installment! Okay, he left a huge crater where suburban Moscow used to be, but everyone does something stupid while on vacation.

Did I ever tell you about the time I ate some bad sushi and then went on the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disney World?

It was not the happiest place on Earth that day, believe you me…

I Arrest Dead People!

RIPD R.I.P.D. (2103)  Director: Robert Schwentke Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Mary Louise Parker, Kevin Bacon Rating: PG-13 for bad language, gunplay, CG violence, and the blatant ripping off Men in Black. 

I don’t know what happens when you die, but I imagine you go to a place where time and space no longer exist and you are stuck in a perpetual limbo that has neither a beginning or an end.

So basically the afterlife is very much like getting your drivers license renewed at the Department of Motor Vehicles. On a weekend.

In movies like R.I.P.D., people don’t die and go to heaven, they hang around among the mortals to fix things, right wrongs,  and appear in buddy cop movies. The last one is for people who have done very very bad things while on earth.

Nick (a very bored Ryan Reynolds) is a hotshot Boston cop with a hot French wife (Stephanie Szostak) and a cool partner (Kevin Bacon) who drives a really cool Muscle car because movie cops always drive cool muscle cars.

During a huge drug raid Hayes (Bacon) shows his true jerkiness when he kills Nick because Nick knows about some gold they took from a previous bust.  But before Nick can go towards the light to that big home for prettyboy actors in the sky, he finds himself at the headquarters of the R.I.P.D.,  a Police Department for the afterlife where  Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker), head of the Boston branch and chief of plot exposition tells Nick he has to spend the next 100 years keeping the mortal world safe from “deados,” which are  spirits who remain on earth and hide in humans to cause trouble or something: truth is Mary-Louse looked so bored delivering the backstory of the R.I.P.D. I dozed off for a bit.

I dreamed I was a glove salesman in a world where people have no hands. What the hell does that mean?

Anyhoo, since this is a buddy-cop movie, newbie Nick is paired with grizzled veteran Roy Pusipher (Jeff Bridges in full Rooster Cogburn mode), a 19th century U.S. Marshall who loves shooting deados and hates rookie partners.

As Roy shows Nick the ropes of being afterlife cops they unravel a plan where the deados are rebuilding an ancient golden artifact which will return the dead from the afterlife to earth where they plan on starting home businesses and helping the homeless by building affordable low income housing.

Nah, they want to bring on armageddon. It’s what dead people do.

Can Nick and Roy learn to trade witty banter as a team and stop Kevin Bacon from taking over the world?

Like there’s any one who can stop Kevin Bacon. Have you seen Footloose?

R.I.P.D. has all the parts you need to make a huge blockbuster movie: a handsome leading man, a comic relief sidekick, lots of action, and plenty of CG stuff the kids love..

But just because something has four wheels and an engine doesn’t mean its a Ferarri. And since this flick bombed at the box office earlier this year it was plain to everyone that this movie is no Ferrari.

R.I.P.D. is a 1988 Pontiac Fiero GT.

Trust me. That’s not good.

And this concludes DVD Critics Corner for 2013. Thank you very much for reading. Have a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year!

See you in 2014. 

Rock’em Sock’em Robots!

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PACIFIC RIM (2013)  Director: Guillermo del Toro Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, and Ron Perlman Rating: PG-13 for big robots punching big monsters and lots of stuff getting stepped on. 

Hey.

In a review I posted a while back I shared a detailed list of all the special things I look for in a movie that make it worthy of this blog. Creating this list was a near impossible task that took me years to put together and cost me every penny of my family’s fortune, plus I had to kill several cold blooded ninja assassins who wanted to discover the secrets of my list.

Of course the ninjas could have just read my blog where the list was out in the open for everyone to read. If they had only subscribed to my blog, they’d still be alive doing ninja assassin stuff today.

Anyhoo, here are the things that make a movie worthy of a review here on DVD Critics Corner:

1. A gratuitous amount of violence which includes any or all of the following: gun play, sword play, close quarter hand to hand combat, kung fu fighting, and lots and lots of kicking.

2. Space aliens, other worldly monsters, scary zombies, cool robots, or at the very least Ron Perlman.

3. Plenty of explosions which destroy property and/or motor vehicles.

4. A complete lack of Katherine Heigl.

Hold onto your hats folks because I have found a movie that has scored a perfect 100% on the DVD Critics Corner Movie Worthiness Checklist (pat. pend.).

It’s Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro’s action epic tribute to the Japanese monster movies we all know and love!

It’s got monsters! It’s got robots! It’s got destruction! It has Ron Perlman! It has absolutely no Katherine Heigl!

A movie that satisfies all my prerequisites at this special time of year? It’s a Christmas miracle!

Here is a bunch of things that happen in the movie:

In the not too distant future, Earth is just fine until a bunch of giant monsters begin attacking it! These towering creatures (known as Kaijus) are coming from another dimension through a portal in the Pacific Ocean and are determined to wipe out all the people; even the really nice ones who say please and thank you.

When conventional weapons fail to slow down the Kaiju attacks, the governments of the Pacific Rim nations decide the best way to fight these monsters is with equally giant robots with supercool weapons, because the governments of the Pacific Rim nations are run by nine year old boys.

The giant robots (named Jaegers) battle the Kaijus for the survival of Earth, but as the the years go by the Kaijus get bigger and stronger and their attacks become more frequent, leaving the humans with little hope for survival and a huge stack of giant robot repair bills.

The last four super Jaeger bots gather in Hong Kong where for some reason it always rains to end the war by destroying the portal and sending those monsters back to the computer generated heck they came from!

Commander Pentacost (Idris Elba) recruits Raleigh (a well chiseled Charlie Hunnam) as his ace in the hole.  A former Jaeger pilot who’s been out of the war for a while he may be the maverick who has the right stuff to ride into the danger zone and other movie cliches.

But Raleigh needs a co-pilot, since the robots need two people to work all of the controls and two brains that must be electronically linked to handle all of the complex computer stuff. Raleigh meets with several candidates who are physically and mentally up for the challenge, and settles on Moko (Rinko Kikuchi), an untested warrior who is loaded with determination, courage…

mako

And hotness. Let’s not forget hotness.

There’a plenty of action and excitement in Pacific Rim as huge robots punch huge monsters then huge huge weapons to slice and dice the monsters into tiny but still huge pieces. As I said before the movie is reminiscent of those 60′s Japanese monster movies featuring Godzilla, King of the Monsters, Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, and Mothra: The Big Stupid Moth that Nobody Liked.  But instead of men in rubber suits smashing scale model buildings and fighter jets, millions of computer guys created every monster, robot, ocean, city, and explosion in Pacific Rim. 

Which is what they do nowadays, and that’s okay I guess. Personally, I miss all the cool model buildings getting smashed and stepped on with the tiny explosions and the model jets flying around on clearly visible wires.  What I’m trying to say is I like my special effects like I like my women; cheap and from the 1960s.

Pacific Rim is a great deal of fun with the fighting robots, evil monsters, a delightful cameo by everyone’s favorite thespian Ron Perlman, and the destruction of major (though computer generated) cities and property.

And no Katherine Heigl.

Best Christmas gift EVER.

They Might Be Giants!

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JACK THE GIANT SLAYER (2013) Director: Bryan Singer Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane Rating: PG-13 for swordplay, stabbings and CGI scary stuff. 

Giants, those really big people featured in modern CG laden fantasy films have (if you pardon the pun) been given the short end of the stick.

In movies like The Hobbit and Wrath of the Titans, giants are portrayed as disgusting creatures who never bathe, are hideous in appearance, and apparently spend their days belching and biting the heads off of farm animals.

And don’t get me started on the farting. My God, the farting!

Why are giants depicted as unwashed, feral frat boys? Why can’t movies show us the kinder, gentler giants?

Where are the giant artists? The giant scientists? The giant Moms and Dads picking up their giant children from giant soccer practice?

Sadly, the giants featured in the 2013 adventure Jack the Giant Slayer are even more foul and gross than you would expect, and worst of all they hate us tiny humans and would love to devour us in a spicy buffalo sauce with extra bleu cheese and a side order of chili fries. The fries of course are made of humans too.

Who’s hungry?

A long time ago, Giants and humans had an uneasy truce: They lived in their kingdom way up in the sky, and humans lived in England, where all the roads were muddy and Shakespeare was just an unemployed theater major.

Jack (Nicholas Hoult), a local farm boy who for some reason wears a modern leather jacket and a hoodie in a movie set in medieval England, must sell his horse and carriage at the local village because the bills are piling up back on the farm. While in town Jack has a meet cute moment with the adorable yet feisty Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) but loses his horse to a Monk who sticks him with some magic beans which surprisingly wasn’t some form of currency back then.

The magic beans belong to Lord Roderick (Stanely Tucci) one of those scheming evil douches who is always next in line for the throne in these movies. Roderick is going to use the beans and a magic crown forged the last giant/human war for some evil scheme to take over the world, which isn’t that impressive since the world had maybe three or four hundred people back then. Look it up.

Anyway, Princess Isabelle is one of those fiercely independent princesses who wants to do her own thing and not marry Roderick like the King (Ian McShane) wishes. But instead of breaking into a heartfelt ballad about how she wants to be her own person like the Disney princesses do, she hops on her horse and sneaks out of town.

By some amazing coincidence she finds herself at Jack’s rundown farmhouse and asks to hide there until the rain stops. But before Jack can light some mood candles and pop in a Barry White cassette, one of the magic beans gets wet and a huge beanstalk shoots up from the ground, carrying Isabelle high into the sky, leaving Jack with a whole lot of ‘splainin to do when the King and his heavily armed entourage arrive looking for the princess.

A group of the King’s bravest knights, led by the fearless Elmont (Ewan McGregor in full Obi-Wan Kenobi swagger mode) decide to climb the beanstalk and rescue the princess, and farm boy Jack and Lord Roderick decide to join the quest which is understandable since Jack is the hero of the movie and Roderick is the scheming evil douche.

When our heroes reach the top, they discover a world populated by ugly unwashed CG giants who are going to bake Isabelle into an hors d’oeuvre for Fallon the head giant (voiced by Bill Nighy) to eat. Jack and Elmont rescue Isabelle and make a break for the beanstalk, but Roderick shows his true scheming evil douche colors and dons the magic crown, gaining control over the giants who he now commands to climb down the beanstalk and step on everyone in England.

The climax of Jack the Giant Slayer features a huge battle as the giants lay siege to King Brahmwell’s castle. Can the tiny Englishmen defeat the unwashed giants? Will peace be restored? Why is Jack jack wearing slim fit corduroys? Seriously, watch this movie and tell me that Jack’s wardrobe wasn’t purchased at J.Crew!

Jack the Giant Slayer has an excellent cast and a few adventure filled moments, but it doesn’t have much else to distinguish itself from all of the other movies retelling classic fairy tales that have hit the theaters the past year or so. It’s a bit more fun that Snow White and the Huntsman, but not as stylish and cool as Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters. But Jack the Giant Slayer definitely wins for the most horrifying and unappealing characters assembled for a feature length movie.

Wait, I take that back. That honor belongs to The Great Gatsby.

Horror Movie Villains I Want to Punch in the Face!

Hey kids, It’s Tom, your DVD Critics Corner bud.

As you know, it’s almost Halloween. Since this is a movie blog, WordPress rules state I must write a post about horror movies.

It’s true. It’s in that list of terms thing you didn’t read when you joined this blogging site. Look it up.

Anyhoo, Horror films have spawned some of the most iconic characters in movie history. But for every Freddy Kruger and Michael Myers, there are characters that are horrifying if your definition of horrifying is sad, pitiful, and friggin awful.

Here are some horror movie characters I would gladly feed a knuckle sandwich with a side of another knuckle sandwich, followed by a dessert tray loaded with (you guessed it) knuckle sandwiches.  It’s a very limited menu.

Let’s begin!

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JACK FROST, the killer snowman from JACK FROST (1997) and JACK FROST 2 (2000)

Snowmen are supposed to be jolly, happy souls. They dance and partake in spirited hi-jinks because that’s what the classic Christmas tune “Frosty the Snowman” says! Nowhere in the song does the snowmen kill the townspeople in horrible and gruesome ways!  Shame on you Jack Frost for breaking all of the snowman rules. Turn in our corncob pipe and eyes made out of coal.

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HORNY THE CLOWN from DRIVE THRU (2007)

Look, clowns are scary enough being..well, clowns. So they don’t need someone like Horny, a homicidal clown who disembowels annoying teenagers in the generic horror movie Drive Thru making them look even worse! Send in the clowns? I don’t think so!

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PAMELA VOORHEES from FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)

Okay, I’ll say it. Pam, you are a bad Mom.

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THE GINGERDEAD MAN from GINGERDEAD MAN 1, 2, and 3.

That’s right, the protagonist of this film is a killer cookie. Oh wait, did I say film? I meant films because they made three of these Gingerdead Man movies. THREE! The can’t get a  Justice League movie franchise off the ground, but they’re cranking out Gingerdead Man sequels like there’s no friggin tomorrow! So. Many. Punches.

And finally…

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THE MANGLER from The Mangler (1995)

A killer shirt folding machine. I see.

Hey, does anyone have Stephen King’s e-mail address? Also, can you punch someone in the face via e-mail?

HAPPY HALLOWEEN from DVD Critic’s Corner!

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