Monthly Archives: November 2011

Stop! Or Paul Giamatti Will Shoot

Shoot ’Em Up (2007) Director: Michael Davis Starring: Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Belluci Rating: R for mindless gun violence, bad language and other fun stuff.

Recently a friend pulled me aside and said I should review a movie featuring Clive Owen “for that DVD blog thing you’re doing now.”

Sure, I probably could have used advice on some things that are of greater concern to me, like my unhealthy appreciation of alcoholic beverages and total lack of female companionship, but I have to take what I can get from my friends. They’re not into sharing to begin with.

So I logged onto the Netmovie thing in search of something featuring Clive Owen, whom I am told is rugged and British. Think of him as a Land Rover with a SAG card.
For the sake of time and to avoid any kind of Clive Owen burnout, I narrowed my choices down to two of his more popular films.
First was the Children Of Men, an award winning thought provoking sci-fi drama that although set in the future, holds a mirror up to our society’s current struggles.
The other was Shoot ‘Em Up, a mindless action film.

Clive, you had me at Shoot.

In Shoot ‘Em Up, Owen plays a man named Smith, one of those mysterious movie anti-heroes with no past who speaks in a raspy monotone and wears a slick black trench coat no matter how hot it is.
I would love to have a coat like that. You fight bad guys, fall down a flight of stairs, crash through a few windows and you still manage to look sharp for evening cocktails at Tenjune. That my friends, is a quality garment.

As the movie opens Smith is hanging out on a bus stop bench practicing his brooding when he meets a very pregnant girl being chased by a bunch of heavily armed thugs. Before you can crank up the heavy metal soundtrack to eleven, Smith is on the run with a newborn baby under his arm and every armed goon with a henchman license in the tri state area is in hot pursuit.

Oh, and he does all this while shooting everyone.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Shoot ‘Em Up is a movie that has guns. Lots of guns.
A plethora of pistols. A festival of firearms.

Bushels of Baretttas. Gaggles of Glocks. Oodles of Uzis.

Bullets fly, bad guys die, and spent shell casings rain down like- well, like rain.
Sorry, I’m not good at similes.
But come on, Oodles of Uzis! You have to give me props for that.

Leading the band of baddies after babydaddy Smith is distinguished actor Paul Giamatti (Sideways, John Adams) who must have suffered severe stomach cramps after all the scene chewing he does on screen. On the surface, Giamatti’s Hertz character is your typical batshit crazy movie villain, but he’s above all a villain who cares. When one of his underlings bungles an attempt to catch Smith, he calmly expresses his disappointment in his employee, points out his mistakes and then encourages him to do better before shooting him dead. Don’t you wish your boss had those kinds of leadership skills?

Monica Belluci plays a local prostitute named Donna who gets sucked into Smith’s adventures in babysitting. Belluci is a beautiful Italian actress who could easily pass for Catherine Zeta Jones’ hotter Italian sister.
Donna doesn’t do any shooting in the movie, but she does have sex with Smith during a gun battle, which is something you don’t see in your average action movie. Before the gunfight? Perfect time for sex. After the gunfight? Sex is a great way to wind down. Sex during a gunfight? That’s pretty darn cool.

Let’s see Mel Gibson and Danny Glover have sex with each other during a gunfight in a Lethal Weapon movie!

No, let’s not see that.

While Shoot ‘Em Up doesn’t have as much shooting as Saving Private Ryan, it does have a lot more shooting than The Remains of the Day, so it’s a pretty entertaining flick.

Let’s face it, Remains of the Day would have been a lot better if the climax featured Emma Thompson went flying through the air firing two Glocks at once while some AC/DC song blasts in the background.

Maybe they’ll include that in the sequel, The Remains of the Day II: The Remains of Death!

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Movie Characters You Want On Your Side. Always.

I’ve watched plenty of  movies over the years, and I’ve learned one important thing:

There will never be another talent like Patrick Swayze.

The second most important thing I’ve learned is if you have the right team, there is no amount of ass you can’t kick.

So if you’re putting together your own personal Magnificent Seven or Ocean’s Eleven of action movie characters to help overthrow that galactic empire or take down that army of mercenaries, might I suggest putting some (or all) of these guys on your roster:

Name: R2-D2 (Artoo Detoo)

Occupation:  Astromech Droid, Rebel Soldier

Movie Appearances:  Star Wars Episodes 1-6.

Pros: Fearless, resourceful. Cons: Can’t understand a damn word he’s saying.

The Deal: With 1,001 gadgets stuffed into his little blue and white body and the brainpower to override any security system, Artoo is a rolling Swiss Army knife with mad computer skills. Plus, R2-D2 has something many movie robots don’t have: a titanium set of balls. Would Johnny 5 wade into (I’m sorry- roll into) a firefight to unlock a door for his human companions? Could Wall E ride piggyback on an X Wing fighter as it barreled down a Death Star Trench?  Hell no!  It’s the balls I tells ya! Is it any wonder he needs three legs to walk?

Shining Moment: Despite being shot in the head by a Tie Fighter at the Battle of Yavin, Artoo managed to clean himself up and make it to Princess Leia’s stupid award ceremony. Did he get a medal? No. Did he make a fuss? No.  Artoo abides.

Name: John McClane

Occupation: Bad Ass Police Officer

Movie Appearances: Die Hards 1-4

Pros: Not afraid to blast away at the bad guys. Cons: Uses lots of ammo, potty mouth

The Deal: He’s surly, insubordinate, and not the best husband or dad, but since Detective John McClane has killed more terrorists than NATO, we’ll ignore his little personality quirks as long as he is on the job. Despite the incredible amount of punishment he receives during a typical Die Hard movie, McClane will do whatever it takes to make sure he’s the last man standing so he can utter a really cool catchphrase.

Shining Moment: In Live Free or Die Hard (Die Hard 4), John McClane beats the crap out of an F-35 fighter jet. Yippee Ki Yay.

Name: Optimus Prime

Occupation: Autobot

Movie Appearances:  Transformers movie series.

Pros: Huge Goddamn alien robot. Cons: Likes to give long speeches, unhealthy attachment to Shia LaBeouf.

The Deal: Like R2-D2 and John McClane, the brave leader of the Autobots has the ability to get blown up and still live to fight another day.  He is a little on the big side, so don’t ask him to go crawling into a ventilation system or dance around a laser grid on the floor.  Prime’s biggest asset is he transforms into a truck, so he can haul the teams stuff around and drive you home when your mission is over.  Be sure to kick in for gas money.

Shining Moment: Saving Sam Witwicky’s ass over and over again in spite of the protests of moviegoers everywhere.

Name: Frank Martin

Occupation: Brooding asskicker

Movie Appearances: The Transporter 1-3

Pros: Really good at kicking people, great driver. Cons: Your girlfriend will dump you for him in a heartbeat.

The Deal: Frank Martin is a great action movie character. He’s strong, silent, and able to render a group of attackers unconscious with a super deluxe collection of martial arts moves. He’s a man of few words, and hopefully those words are “Have a seat, I’ll beat these guys up for you.”  Since Martin wears fine designer suits, he’d have no trouble helping you pick the right outfit to wear if you have to infiltrate a fancy party at an embassy or a drug lord’s mansion.  If you’re going to put the beatdown on the bad guys, you might as well be stylin!

Shining Moment: In Transporter 2, Martin barrel rolls his Audi A8 through the air, timing things precisely so an overhead hook from a crane knocks off a bomb the bad guys taped to his car a second before they push the detonator.  That move was so sweet you could grind it up and sprinkle it on my latte!

Name: Alice

Occupation: Former security officer, Umbrella corporation

Movie Appearances: Resident Evil movie series

Pros: Extensive firearms collection Cons: Zombies follow her everywhere she goes.

The Deal: I gave up on the Resident Evil franchise after the second film, but since Alice is still alive and well after five Resident Evil movies, she must be doing something right. Alice carries a bunch of guns with an endless supply of ammo 24/7, which will be helpful when McClane uses up all of his bullets in the first skirmish and is in need of a backup weapon. Although Alice is a hot babe, her battle hardened demeanor no nonsense attitude makes her immune to the macho charms of the other guys on this list. Except for maybe…

Name: Sean Connery

Occupation: Sean Connery

Movie Appearances: He was James Bond.

Pros: Being Sean Connery. Cons: None.

The Deal: He’s Sean Freaking Connery!

Shining Moment: In the Highlander movie series he played a Spaniard who spoke with a Scottish accent because nobody had the guts to tell him he couldn’t do that.

How Green Is My Lantern?

Green Lantern (2011) Director: Martin Campbell Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Tim Robbins Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi violence. Whatever that means.

I didn’t read comic books as a kid, but over the years I have picked up a few things. I do know Superman flies and is very strong, Batman has cool gadgets and beats up bad guys, and Wonder Woman dresses like a sexy drum majorette and ties crooks up with a golden rope.

I like Wonder Woman.

Another popular comic book character is a guy called Green Lantern, whose powers come from a shiny ring that doesn’t look the least bit showy and goes with just about everything.  Since Hollywood is determined to squeeze every last dollar from the comic book crowd, Green Lantern was given his own big ass blockbuster movie earlier this year.

Sorry Aquaman, you’ll have to wait. Forever, if I have anything to say about it, you fish loving fancy lad.

Deep in outer space, the Green Lantern Corps, a group of alien life forms from thousands of planets protects the universe like an intergalactic police force, arresting space criminals and giving space tickets to people who talk on their space phones while driving their space cars.

A dying Green Lantern named Abin Sur crash lands on earth, and in his last moments of life asks his power ring to find a worthy human to take his place in the Green Lantern Corps. Apparently Sur’s ring really hated its owner, because the green energy bubble retrieves cocky wiseass test pilot Hal Jordan, played to cocky wiseass perfection by cocky wiseass Ryan Reynolds.

Is the Green Lantern Corps ready for its first human member? Does Hal Jordan have what it takes to be a guardian of the galaxy?  Can Hal convince his on again/off again girlfriend Carol (Blake Lively, in a role probably meant for Jessica Biel) that there’s more to him than his washboard abs and his ability to crash 50 million dollar planes at will?

All of these questions must be answered pretty gosh darn fast because there’s this giant space cloud of evil called Parallax hurtling toward earth, determined to devour everyone  because that’s what giant space clouds of evil do. Ever meet a giant space cloud of evil that is willing to give up its Saturday to help you move? Of course not. They’re evil.

At the risk of spoiling the movie for you, Hal embraces his calling as a new Green Lantern, leaving behind his life of cocky wiseassery on earth to protect the galaxy from whatever bad space stuff is out there.  The movie hints of a possible sequel, but since movie goers pretended they were out of town or in bed sick when Green Lantern premiered, I think the Green Lantern Corps has been defeated by the greatest enemy of all: a crappy box office return.

Still, Ryan Reynolds looks smashing in green, and Blake Lively was pretty good as Jessica Biel.  And did I mention Tim Robbins was in this? He was!

Somebody tell Aquaman it’s his turn.

FASTER

Faster (2010) Director: George Tillman Jr. Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thorton Rating: R for violence, drug stuff  and the F word

Ricardo Montalban once said revenge is a dish best served cold.

I disagree.

Revenge should be served in one of those large chafing dishes heated by a can of sterno.  That way your revenge will come out warm in the middle but a soggy and undercooked on the ends, forcing your victims to fill up on salad and rolls, which are loaded with poison.

And that’s why I can’t work in the catering industry anymore.

Anyhoo, Faster is a revenge film starring the artist formally known as The Rock Dwayne Johnson as a man who’s released from a ten year prison stint sporting huge muscles and the biggest frowny face I have ever seen.

Driver (Yes, that’s the name of Johnson’s character) is out to avenge his brother who was murdered by a pack of sleazy thugs who stole the money they had just stolen from a bank.  Utilizing some intel compiled by a shady friend, Driver begins picking off the gang members one by one with a humongous revolver that looks like something Yosemite Sam would carry while hunting that no good varmint Bugs Bunny.

This bloody mayhem attracts the attention of a drug addicted cop (Thorton) who knows more about this case than he’s letting on, and a professional hit man (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) who wants to retire becasue he thinks he’s gotten too good at killing even though throughout the movie he can’t put one bullet into Driver, a man who’s roughly the size of a Maytag 25 Cubic Ft Side By Side refrigerator.

Driver’s mode of transport in Faster is a super cherry 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS, proving once again the coolest cars for kicking ass in movies are good ol American muscle cars. You think Driver could properly avenge the death of his brother in a 1984 Mitsubishi Galant? Please.

Despite having an action star known for his ass kicking abilities, a real cool car,  and a juicy revenge plotline, Faster isn’t very fast at all. But I guess it would be hard to market a film if the title directly reflected what was happening on the screen, which is why Faster wasn’t called Drags A Bit in the Middle or The Hitman Subplot Should Have Been Cut In The Final Draft.

To sum up: Less talking and more ass kicking would have saved Faster. Hey, that’s exactly what I said when I saw Fried Green Tomatoes! Weird, huh?

One final thought:  Johnson’s character is named Driver, because he is very good at operating a motor vehicle at high and unsafe speeds. I’m assuming Driver isn’t the name he was born with, just something he picked up, but how messed up would that be if his parents named him Driver?

No pressure about what your job is going to be son!

Be whatever you want when you grow up, Driver!

Glad they didn’t name the kid Ambassador or Supreme Court Justice! Although The Rock playing a Supreme Court Justice would be freakin awesome.  Call me Dwayne, I got a project to pitch to you!