Monthly Archives: January 2012

This Was In My Netflix Instant Queue: He-Man & She-Ra A Christmas Special

I was in a bit of a funk this past weekend. The grey and dismal late January weather coupled with queasiness in the stomach (Note to self: never order the Surf & Turf at the Sunoco APlus market again!) left me in a state of ennui somewhere between a Smiths fan and that crying Packers chick I saw on Youtube.

After a few seconds of soul searching and punching up a brief list of my symptoms on Web MD, I figured out why I was so monumentally bummed – post holiday blues.  I missed the brightly colored lights on the Douglas Fir, opening presents with family on Christmas morning, and ringing in the new year in the company of my closest and drunkest friends.

Perhaps watching a Christmas special would pick up my spirit up off the floor where it lay between the box of photos I’ve been meaning to scan into my computer and the unused kettle ball.  So I checked my Netflix instant queue and found a special I forgot to watch in December:

Happy Holidays!

He-Man and She-Ra:  A Christmas Special is a crossover episode featuring the casts of the He-Man and She-Ra series, a group of incredibly stupid people who still have not caught on to the fact that Adam and Adora make no freaking attempt whatsoever to hide that they are He-Man and She-Ra, respectively.  Was Eternia low on masks or something? At least Superman was willing to give glasses a try when he was in Kent mode!

Anyway, as the story opens Eternia is gearing up for the big birthday extravaganza for Prince Adam and twin Sister Princess Adora, which coincidentally falls on Christmas Day.  Freakishly annoying comic relief character Orko stows away on a spy ship Man-At-Arms launches into space. Skelator and his dopey minions try to intercept the ship, but are stopped by He-Man and She-Ra and She-Ra’s magic horse who sounds like a modern day Al Pacino.  Orko tries to fly the spy ship but it crashes on Earth, which is apparently just a few subway stops from Eternia.

On Earth Orko meets Miquel and Alisha, whose parents think it’s perfectly fine to let them go out and look for a Christmas tree somewhere near the Arctic Circle. The kids tell Orko all about Christmas and how wonderful it is, and since the only holidays on Eternia involve worshiping the poofy Prince Adam, he gives up space magic and converts to Christianity on the spot.

He-Man and the other Mattel action figures devise a plan to set things right. She-Ra fights a huge water lizard and then some transforming robots (who are not enough like the Transformers to warrant a lawsuit from Hasbro) to secure a magic crystal which will power Man-At-Arms’ transport beam that will bring Orko and the ship back.  The plan succeeds, and the transport beam retrieves the space craft and Orko – with Miguel and Alisha in tow! Rather than kill the little earthlings and move on with their lives, Adam and Adora decide to help them celebrate Christmas until the transport beam is recharged.

Meanwhile this evil green cloud Horde Prime, fearing this newly arrived “Christmas Spirit” will somehow destroy his power, orders Hordak and Skelator to capture the earth kids. But since Skelator and Hordak are the Bill and Ted of syndicated weekday cartoon villains, He-Man and She-Ra are soon onto their plot and with the help of some bizarre creatures called the Machines (a frightening mix of robot and Smurf, I shit you not) they thwart the bad guys plans and throw one heck of an Eternian Christmas Party!

And somehow Prince Adam is still a douche.

Miguel and Alisha are beamed home to their parents who don’t seem to mind that their kids have been missing for several days.  Adam, Adora, and all their pals continue to party down, enjoying the spirit of joy and goodwill they feel thanks to that awesome Earth holiday – Christmas!

Surprisingly, He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special relieved me of my case of the mopes; by reminding me of how much I despised the entire Masters of the Universe TV series and line of toys when I was a kid. And that long dormant hatred for He-Man and his pals will keep me warm for days, maybe weeks to come.

So I’m just aces now!

How have you been?

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Possessed, You Say? (Part Three)

In this final part of this series, DVD Critics Corner takes a look at the people and things that have been possessed by an evil force in the movies.

Part Three – People

The problem with being an alien from another planet or a disembodied entity from the depths of Hades itself is that every once in a while you have to inhabit the body of some poor dopey human being. As great a feat of design the human body is, for the most part human beings are rather slow, ungainly, and difficult to maneuver most of the time.  When it comes right down to it, we’re basically Chevy Chevettes with clothing. Despite this, those darn aliens and hellbeasts just keep trying to take over our bodies, bless their freakish black hearts. Here are some movie characters that aren’t quite themselves thanks to some outside help.

Regan Macneil

Occupation: 12 year old girl

As seen in: The Exorcist (1973)

Possessed by: A teenager

Chris Macneil (Ellen Burstyn) is horrified when her daughter Regan (Linda Blair) turns from darling cherub into a violent pea soup spitting beast with the mouth of a longshoreman. Who or what is to blame for this? Teenagers!  Lets face it, teenagers are the most terrifying things the planet, from their constant shrieking to their stubborn refusal to sit up straight and keep off our lawns.  They are an unholy force determined to rip the very fabric of time and space, which is fine with them because they love ripped clothing for some reason. What is a harried Mom to do when her kid turns into a teenager? My advice is to crack open a bottle of Chardonnay and hope he/she gets into a good college on the other side of the country.

Stanley Ipkiss

Occupation: Mild Mannered Bank Clerk

As Seen In: The Mask (1994)

Possessed By: One Gigantic Douchebag.

Let’s see…Flashy outfit? Check. Shit eating grin? Check. Over inflated sense of importance coupled with tremendous arrogance? Checkeroony.

Loud, obnoxious and freakish, Stanley’s green-faced alter ego would have been a great reality TV star.  Just trade his zoot suit for an Ed Hardy tee and he’d probably be trading pithy bon mots with Snooki and the other Rhode Scholars on The Jersey Shore right now. Fortunately for Stanley, his douchebaggery can be cured by simply taking off his magical mask. Those Jersey Shore  folks are actually like that. All the time. That sound you hear is my soul weeping.

Various Characters

Occupation: Police Officer, Stripper, Senator, etc.

As Seen In: The Hidden (1987)

Possessed By: The awesome kind of space alien

Once again, The Hidden proves that the cool space aliens aren’t always the ones that come in peace. These weird space slugs in this 80’s sci fi classic want  to party down in as many human hosts as possible before they’re exterminated. They love fast cars, heavy metal music and blowing stuff up. You throw in a Def Leppard shirt and that’s every kid I went to middle school with, and those kids were pretty cool!

Damien Thorn

Occupation: Industialist, Ambassador, Potential Antichrist

As Seen In: The Omen film series

Possessed by: A politician

Without a doubt the most unholiest of spirits to possess a human, the politician knows no bounds when it comes to spreading evil. The speeches, the promises, the staged photo ops at that daycare center, all weapons wielded by this dark lord in his never ending bid to rule the city councils and zoning boards, and maybe one day (cue ominous chanting) a low level congressional district! It’s times like this I’m glad I don’t vote.

Linda Brewster

Occupation: Hot Girlfriend

As Seen In: Witchboard (1986)

You know what, I don’t have anything prepared for this movie, but remember how incredibly gorgeous Tawney Kitaen was before Whitesnake came along and used her as their own personal Soloflex? Ah Tawney, what could have been.

And this concludes DVD Critics Corner’s three part series Possessed, You Say?

Thank God. I mean, high five!

Tom Levier votes. He votes all the time. He has the number for Dancing With The Stars on his speed dial! 

Do you Bunraku?

Bunraku (2010) Director: Guy Moshe.  Starring: Josh Hartnett, Woody Harrelson, Ron Perlman, Demi Moore.  Rating: R for bloody violence and a few F bombs.

Bunraku…

Isn’t Bunraku the Danish board game from the seventies that challenges your memory and is fun for the whole family?

No. That’s Husker Du.

Isn’t Bunraku those bite sized kangaroo shaped cookies by Betty Crocker that came packaged with flavored dipping sauces?

No, those were Dunk-a-roos.

I know! Isn’t Bunraku a bizarre kung-fu action/fantasy movie that barely made it to theaters last year?

You are correct person I’m pretending to have a conversation with for the sake of this bit!

Bunraku is set in a weird parallel universe where guns don’t exist, it’s always night, and everyone lives on a soundstage. Mysterious crime boss Nicola (Ron Perlman, the hardest working man in B movies) rules most of Asia with an iron fist and a really big axe.  Nicola’s red suited henchmen terrorize the citizens of whatever city Bunraku is set in – I think its Tokyo or Shanghai but without all the Asians.

Into town rolls a stranger named Drifter played by Josh Hartnett who God bless him is still trying to make a go of this acting thing. Drifter, whose fists are as mighty as his mustache is thin, wants to kill Nicola and is willing to pummel anyone who gets in his way. Arriving in town at almost the same time is a long haired samurai named Yoshi (played by Japanese pop singer Gackt, who looks like a more effeminate David Bowie, if that’s possible) who wants to avenge his father’s death at the hands of Nicola.  After a rough start involving a few fights and both of them muttering their lines like the dialogue was a secret, Drifter and Yoshi decide to join forces to beat everyone up together.

With the help of The Bartender  (played by Woody Harrelson who played a bartender on that NBC sitcom your parents used to watch… no, not Friends, how old are you?) they pick away at Nicola’s army of kung fu fighters in a series of highly choreographed fight scenes until they face off against Nicola himself.  We also learn that like Yoshi, Drifter wants to avenge his father’s death at the hands of Nicola . Apparently Nicola has killed a lot of Dads.

The problem with Bunraku (aside from the fact that for an action movie it moves along at the same pace as a college lecture on the history of wool) is that the film is like a tasty ice cream sundae that went overboard on the toppings.

It’s got the greenscreened backgrounds like Sin City and The Spirit mixed with the comic book color scheme of Dick Tracy slathered with the trippy pseudo reality of Speed Racer, topped off with the campiness of the Batman TV series and sprinkled with video game themes and spaghetti western cliches.

If you have too many toppings on your sundae, you’re just being wasteful and gluttonous and you’ll wind up getting very sick in the back of the station wagon and puking all over your brother’s book bag.

That didn’t happen to me. It was another movie reviewer friend of mine.

In conclusion, Banraku was a noble effort, but overall it’s big on the toppings and kind of boring and vanilla on the inside.

That’s not to say vanilla is bad. I like vanilla. With a little hot fudge and whipped cream. Mmmm, tasty. I wonder if the Coldstone up the street is open yet…

Hungry Like The Wolf!

Red Riding Hood (2011) Director: Catherine Hardwicke Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Julie Christie Rating: PG-13 for scary wolves and violence

Little Red Riding Hood is a fairy tale. For all the youngsters out there, fairy tales were stories parents read to entertain their children before TV, video games and other cool stuff came along to do that for them. Because Hollywood ran out of original ideas many years ago (I don’t remember the exact date when this happened, but I know it was a Tuesday) the movie guys have decided to remake fairy tales into big budget films, because if it’s one thing the movie going public wants to see is a movie based on a story they heard hundreds of times and grew to despise as kids.

Red Riding Hood is the first of these re-imagined fairy tales to hit the multiplex.  Stepping into the red hood is Amanda Seyfried, a sexy ingénue whose tiny body and big head makes her look like a Bratz doll minus the whorish eye makeup and street cred.

Seyfried plays Valerie, a fair maiden living in the Eastern European village of Daggerhorn, which is located somewhere deep in the snow covered soundstages of Vancouver.

Valerie loves a local woodsman Peter (a wooden Shiloh Fernandez) but her parents have already set her up to marry Henry, (a woodener Max Irons) the wealthy blacksmith’s son, because in this village marrying a blacksmith is like bagging someone from the  family that owns Walmart. Ka-ching! Major coinage!

Complicating this medieval love triangle is a giant werewolf who visits the village every now and then to chow down on livestock and any stray human caught hanging around outside after midnight, which I’m sure will greatly affect the business of Daggerhorn’s 24 hour mini mart when such an establishment is invented.

Things go from bad to worse when werewolf hunting priest Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) arrives with his heavily armed entourage determined to kill the beast and make Daggerhorn safe so the villagers can continue pumping money into the extremely lucrative blacksmithing industry.

When Valerie encounters the werewolf during an attack on the village, she learns that she and the wolf can talk to each other, which convinces Father Solomon she is a witch and must be sacrificed to the wolf, and that thrills the heck out of the local girls who have been waiting for years for the perfect excuse to whack the hottest chick in medieval Eastern Europe.

Can our blonde heroine deduce the identity of the giant brown eyed talking wolf (is it the brown eyed village minster? her brown eyed father? her brown eyed grandmother? everyone else in the village except her, since she’s the only weirdo in town without brown eyes) before her two hunky suitors and everyone else she knows becomes a midnight snack? And more importantly, how does she keep her red cloak completely smudge free while everyone else looks like they work in a coal mine?

Unfortunately, director Catherine Hardwicke does an excellent job keeping the excitement to a bare minimum and the suspense at the same level you experience while waiting in front of the microwave for your Lean Cuisine to heat up. By the way,  you have got to try the Chicken Poblano from their Market Collection. It’s heaven in a microwavable pouch.

To sum up,  while I believe someone should tell Gary Oldman he can say no to a project every now and then, I give him credit for being the only cast member in Red Riding Hood – a film set in Eastern Europe by the way – to attempt some kind of Eastern European accent. Kudos to you Gary for trying to make lemonade with this 100 minute lemon.