Movie Characters You Want on Your Side. Always. Part Four!

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.

rocketgrootNames: Rocket and Groot

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.

World-Of-Hunger-Games-katniss-everdeen-30213084-2560-1690Name: Katniss Everdeen

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!

hellboyName: Hellboy

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.

martin-riggsName: Martin Riggs

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.

And finally:

Morgan-Freeman-in-Universals-Bruce-Almighty-2003-1 Name: Any character played by Morgan Freeman

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.

 

What if Godzilla was One of Us?

godzilla-2014-movie-wide

 GODZILLA (2014)

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.

and his adorable little hat!

and his adorable little hat!

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?

TA-DAAAH!!!

TA-DAAAH!!!

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.

More Movie News!

Dear readers,

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 of the Costner!

3-days-to-kill-movie-photo-4-550x366

3 Days to Kill (2014)

Director: McG

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:

A spy blending in with the citizens of Paris.

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:

SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEECH!!!! No one will pay any attention to us!

Screeeeech! No one will pay any attention to us!

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:

They were dead when I got here!

 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.

Sorry.

A DVD Critic’s Corner Back to School Quiz!

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

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.

Let’s begin!

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.

Z is for Zombie, that’s good enough for me!

World-War-Z-header

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?

If You Build It, Everything Will Be Awesome!

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THE LEGO MOVIE (2014)

Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Morgan Freeman, and Will Ferrell

Synopsis: Everything is awesome.

Rating: PG for Lego type violence and brick on brick action.

Every once in a while, a movie comes along that shakes the very foundation of your being and rocks you to your very core.

The Lego Movie is such a movie.

What exactly makes The Lego Movie such an exceptional standout in a sea of lesser movies?

Is it the wonderful visuals? The funny voice work by a very funny cast? The perfect blending of story and humor with a thoughtful message about learning to put down the instruction manual from time to time and follow your own path?

Nope. it’s the Legos.  Every movie should have Legos. And every movie that has been made would be better if it had Legos.

The Hunger Games? Decent movie. The Hunger Games with Legos? Super awesome!

Jaws? Great movie. Jaws with Legos? Boom.

R.I.P.D? You know what, let’s skip that one…

If you haven’t seen The Lego Movie yet, then for Heaven sake screw it together and buy a copy! I mean, here’s a brief synopsis lf this charming tale of fun and adventure:

In the all Lego universe, happy go lucky Emmet (Chris Pratt) happily goes about his life in the city of Bricksburg, getting up early, driving safely, and doing his construction job with a positive attitude and a smile on his face.  One day Emmet catches the pretty and mysterious Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) snooping around the construction site, and while chasing her discovers the mysterious Piece of Resistance, an object that has been prophesized to save the Lego universe.

Now Emmet the ordinary becomes Emmet “The Special,” the being destined to stop the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell) who wants to used his Kragle superweapon to freeze everyone and everything in the universe.

I know what you’re thinking – is Emmet truly “The Special?” Well…maybe. Not quite. Sort of. Not really. But thankfully he has a team of Master Builders in his corner to help guide our goofy but lovable protagonist along to find his courage and train him to become The Special. They are the aforementioned Wyldestyle, the mysterious blind wizard Vitruvious (Morgan Freeman) who offers all kinds of wisdom and advice, and superhero extraordinaire Batman (Will Arnett) who offers no help whatsoever.

Emmet and his pals travel from one amazing Lego world to another, trying to stay one step ahead of Lord Business and his Super Secret Police which is lead by Bad Cop/Good Cop (Liam Neeson), a cop with personality issues. Can Emmet become a Master Builder and put an end to Lord Business’ plans to really mess up Taco Tuesday?

The Lego Movie is a glorious, enjoyable action fantasy with lots of humor and a heartwarming ending.  If you watch this movie and aren’t charmed down to your shorts by this movie, we can no longer be friends.  Seriously, I will un-friend you on the spot if you don’t love this movie. This is what it’s come down to. I am drawing a line in the sand here compadre.

But I wouldn’t worry. You’re going to love The Lego Movie, and we’re going to be friends for a long, long time.  Can I crash at your place for a few weeks?

 

Home Is Where The Kicking Is!

homefront-movie-review-jason-stathamHOMEFRONT (2013

Directed by: Gary Fleder

Starring: Jason Statham, Izabela Vidovic, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth, Clancy Brown, James Franco

Plot: An ex-DEA guy moves to a quiet town with his daughter and runs afoul of some meth dealing rednecks and killer bikers who are just dying to get their asses kicked because the ex-DEA guy is Jason Statham!

Rating: R for bad language, a little sex, meth cooking, and a glorious amount of kicking and punching!

I’ve never been to New Orleans, so I don’t know much about it. I know they celebrate Mardi Gras, shiny beads are valued currency, and vomiting in the streets is encouraged.

New Orleans is in Louisiana, another place I know very little about except from what I’ve learned from the various movies I have seen.  According to action/thriller type movies Louisiana is one giant swamp. Seriously, the swamp is everywhere! Also, just about everyone in Louisiana lives along the swamp in a decrepit old shack with a rickety porch. Rich people live in giant mansions or plantations that are pretty but still in a swamp, so they’re “swamp pretty.” Oh, and there are alligators everywhere, because in the opening credits of every movie set in Louisiana they have a shot of a giant gator slithering into a murky swamp.  But the most important thing I’ve learned about Louisiana from the movies is that the people who live there are vicious bunch of greasy loons who don’t own shirts with sleeves that really hate you and want to kill you.

And I thought New Jersey was unpleasant in spots.

Okay, I’m sure the real life Louisiana is a wonderful place. But movie Louisiana is a rough and terrifying place, especially if you’re Jason Statham and you just moved into town with your daughter like in the movie Homefront.  I mean, how can you hope your kid will make honor roll this year if murderous meth addicted rednecks want to kill you? It’s the worry of every modern day parent I’m sure.

Undercover DEA agent Phil Broker (Statham) has infiltrated a biker gang that is about to make a meth deal so huge Walter White would flip his pork pie hat. But since this is a movie, Broker’s cover is blown and the deal goes to heck, leading to a massive gun battle which kills several cops and bikers and leaves Broker with a death mark on his head by the gang’s leader Danny T (Chuck Zito) who really hates going to jail when his drug deals go wrong.

Two years later, Broker (now a widower) has moved to a small Louisiana town with his cute daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovoc) hoping to put the violent DEA years behind him and have a life that doesn’t involve pretending to be a greasy biker.  Their awesome Daddy-Daughter time is short lived when Maddy kicks the crap out of a bully one day in the schoolyard.

The bully’s Mom Cassie (Kate Bosworth), the queen of the greasy meth addicts demands revenge, and when her equally greasy husband nearly gets his spleen handed to him when he picks a fight with Broker, Cassie calls upon her brother Gator Bodine (James Franco) to bring to bring balance to their white trash world by killing the brooding stranger and his pretty daughter.

It turns out Gator is also the local meth dealer who has the sheriff in his pocket and evil on his mind.  When Broker easily dispatches two of Gator’s thugs at a gas station (seriously, would you take a swing at a a brooding bald guy with a “I love beating people to death” bumper sticker on his truck?), Gator breaks into Broker’s house and discovers files that reveal Broker’s secret undercover past.

With his newfound information, Gator contacts his girlfriend/meth business partner Sheryl (Winona Ryder, seriously) who happens to know the biker gang that Broker infiltrated years before because she used to be a meth addicted biker whore before she became a meth addicted drug dealer. Hey, everyone chases success in his or her own way.

Sheryl informs Danny T she knows where his old buddy Broker is hiding, hoping to leverage this info into a mega south eastern drug distribution deal for her and Gator’s meth business. But wouldn’t ya know it, dangerous meth dealing bikers just can’t be trusted, and Danny T dispatches a hit squad led by the sadistically greasy Cyrus (Frank Grillo) to kill Broker, Maddy, and probably Sheryl and Gator if they don’t go along with the plan.

It’s a home invasion of the hillbilly kind as the evil bikers attack Broker’s house with more firepower than your average Marine platoon. But since the home belongs to action hero extraordinaire Jason Statham, a man who kicks the crap out of more people before breakfast than you do before a million breakfasts, you know little Maddy is going to have a safe place to call home when the smoke clears.

Hopefully the house is still standing.

Homefront is by no means an original movie – there have been lots of films featuring a hero up against bad guys who run the town – but the final five minutes of the movie are well worth the rental, particularly if you’re not a fan of the sometimes off putting James Franco. I won’t spoil it for you, but Jason Statham does to Franco what millions of people wanted to do to him after his dreadful co-hosting of the Oscars in 2011.

Thanks Jason. We owe ya one.

 

Catching Sequels!

catching fire

THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (2013)

Director: Francis Lawrence

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland

Plot: Katniss and Peeta are back for more wacky hijinks as they once again step into the arena of death in a dystopian future! It’s an all out laugh fest!

Rating: PG-13 for violence, near nudity and for flogging Gale,  the handsome guy.

In case you didn’t know, DVD Critics Corner! has been around for a few years. I think it’s due to clean living, my lack of other hobbies, and the unbelievable fact that no one has told me to stop.

Anyhoo, when running a movie review blog during a sequel crazy era in movie history, it was only a matter of time before a sequel to a movie I’ve reviewed has arrived at the top of my DVD queue.  That movie is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games and the second film in the four part Hunger Games movie saga; a saga not quite as epic as The Hobbit saga and not nearly as stupid as the Twilight saga, but a saga nonetheless.

Catching Fire picks up shortly after the events of the first film. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) have survived the 74th Hunger games, but they are far from safe. President Snow (a seething Donald Sutherland) fears the young winners have sparked a rebel movement among the people of Panem who for some reason are growing tired of an oppressive government that starves them and kills them for no reason. Kantiss and Peeta embark on a “victory tour” of the 12 districts, but they stray from their “we love the facist world we live in” script and a few riots are started, which doesn’t look good on Panem’s version of Entertainment Tonight.

Snow knows he must kill the two troublesome kids who are making him look bad without looking like the type of guy who kills troublesome kids who make him look bad. So when the 75th Hunger Games rolls around a short time later, he pulls the end all be all of dick moves by futzing with the rules: All tributes for the next Hunger Games will be chosen from previous winners, which means Katniss and Peeta are going back in the jungle for another chance at violent death, facing a bunch of former winners who are really happy they were plucked from their lives of luxury with the overdressed elite of Panem and forced to fight for their lives again.

To make things even worse, the new game designer Plutarch Heavensbee (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) has promised his best buddy President Snow that Katniss and Peeta will certainly die in his game arena, which is filled with killer monkeys, random flash floods, and a mysterious fog that not only cleans and exfoliates the skin, it eats it off completely. No more unsightly blemishes!

Katniss is severely worried that this time Snow has finally got her trapped in a no win situation, but her good ol’ buddy and District 12 mentor Hamish (Wood Harrelson) calmly advises her to make as many allies as she can with the other disgruntled tributes, promising her that things will work out in the end.

The game sequence in Catching Fire is as thrilling and suspenseful as the first movie, but it’s not as long because there are other things going on in Panem (like the growing underground revolution against Snow’s regime) and the movie was almost over when the game sequence begins. The games itself are just a side event that leads up to the important stuff: the final scenes where Katniss learns who her true allies are and what part she’s going to play in the next movie.

I’ll give you a hint: it rhymes with Shleader of the Shrevolution.

In conclusion, not only is The Hunger Games: Catching Firea sequel to The Hunger Games, it is a sequel to a movie I have written about in a previous entry in this blog. You’re welcome, Katniss, Peeta, and all your  kooky revolutionary pals.

Now go play nice.

Click here for the DVD Critics Corner review of The Hunger Games

Kids In Spaaaaaaaaaaace!!!

enders-game-film-poster

ENDER’S GAME (2013)

Director: Gavin Hood

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis, Abigail Breslin, and Ben Kingsley

Plot: In the future, a super smart kid named Ender Wiggam is shot into space and trained to fight a war against a race of alien bugs who tried to take over Earth decades earlier. Will Ender save humanity, or is he just another no good lazy slacker with his iPonepads and instavine video things…

Rating: PG-13 for some violence and sci-fi explosions with space fighters flying around going pew! pew! at one another.

Ender’s Game is based on a huge series of science fiction books written by Orson Scott Card. How huge? Currently, there are 14 in the series, with two more on the way. Also, there is a series of Ender’s Game short stories, and a comic book series based on the books.

That is a heck of a lot of reading. I have to take a nap after I proofread my shopping list.

Luckily Hollywood (that’s where the movie making folks live!) wanted to help all of us avoid such a lengthy reading list so they adapted the fourth book of the Ender series into a big screen sci-fi adventure.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, those Hollywood folks are really watching out for us!

In the near future, an alien bug-like species called the Formics invade Earth hoping to turn our lovely little planet into an alien bug vacation destination. The Earth’s military forces fight back and drive the Formics away, but millions of lives are lost in the process. Determined not to be caught with their pants down again, the International Force is formed to train the best and brightest young people how to fight the aliens should they ever return.

Fifty-something years later, a brilliant young cadet named Ender Wiggan (Asa Butterfield) is acing the training programs and defeating everyone in battle simulation games. Naturally the other cadets dislike being beaten regularly by a tiny kid with a weird first name, so they hate him and want to punch him repeatedly. It’s nice to now that even in the future, your classmates will still be homicidal dicks.

International Force Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) sees potential in young Ender, and sends him off to Battle School, which is an orbiting space station conveniently located in outer space. Ender and his fellow newbies start their training to be space soldiers or something by playing a game that involves shooting lasers at each other while floating around in a huge zero-gravity dome. I’m not sure how this trains cadets to be better soldiers, but flying around and shooting stuff sounds like a hoot to me, so sign me up baby!

As Ender learns the ins an outs of space cadet life, he makes some friends like Petra Arkanian (Hailee Steinfield) who helps him catch up on training when he’s promoted to another unit, and makes some enemies like Commander Bonzo Madrid (Moises Arias) who helps no one because he’s a homicidal dick.

But Ender presses on undaunted and his skills as a space soldier/alien killer impresses Graff so much he is given command of his own squad who show Bonzo and the other haters how Ender gets his game on!

See what I did there?

Ender’s Game isn’t all fun and…well, you know. There are a lot of serious issues Ender tries to come to terms with throughout the movie: like death, sacrifice, honor, and whether or not kids should be emotionless machines trained to kill a species who may not be looking for a fight this time around.

That’s some pretty heavy stuff for a sci-fi adventure film, but nobody ever said a sci-fi movie had to be non stop laughs and amusement. Ever see The Adventures of Pluto Nash? I rest my case.

The movie concludes with Ender and his Battle School crew prepping for a huge battle just outside the Formic’s home planet. With some sage advice from former war hero Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley sporting some sick facial ink), Ender prepares for war.  Can Ender and his army of drone fighters defeat an alien race that lives in dirt tunnels and yet were somehow able to master intergalactic space travel?

Seriously, how do giant bugs with no visible grasp of technology build spaceships with laser weapons?

Maybe we’ll find out in the next movie – Ender’s Game 2: Catching Bugs!

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