Monthly Archives: November 2012

You Sank My Movie!

BATTLESHIP (2012) Director: Peter Berg  Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Brooklyn Decker, Rhianna, and Liam Neeson Rating: PG-13 for explosions, profanity, evil space aliens, swimsuit models and singers trying to act.

Gather round kids! Ol’ Grandpa Tom is going to tell you a painfully boring story!

When I was a fresh faced grade school lad growing up in suburban New Jersey, there was very little to do. Before the Atari 2600 Video Game System came along and introduced children to the heart stopping thrills of Yars Revenge, the only way to entertain oneself was either playing outside with that kid down the street who always picked his nose or staying inside and playing board games.

Board games had instructions to read, rules to be followed, and plastic pieces that always slid under the couch when you got frustrated and violently knocked the game off the table. Then Mom would send you to your room where you watched blurry Gilligan’s Island reruns on a 13 inch black and white TV set with a coat hanger antenna and a missing channel knob.

To sum up, being a kid in the late 70’s sucked ass. Big time.

One board game that every kid in the burbs owned was Battleship. For reasons unknown, Universal Pictures took this classic strategy game and made it into a big action movie extravaganza, also named Battleship. Again, I’m not sure why they did this. Maybe the script for Hungry Hungry Hippos: The Movie wasn’t ready yet? That’s my theory.

Battleship opens with the discovery of an Earth-like planet in a nearby galaxy. Using a high tech communications facility in Hawaii, NASA beams a powerful signal to “Planet G,” a signal which hopefully contains a message of universal peace, and not tracks from the new Ke$ha album.

A few years later, NASA craps their pants as five huge mean alien ships come to Earth and land in the Pacific Ocean. Actually, four ships land in the Pacific ocean and the fifth one crashes into downtown Hong Kong, proving that even an advanced species from another planet can mistake the gas pedal for the brake.

But don’t worry Earthlings! It just so happens the United States Navy and dozens of other fighting ships from around the world are conducting naval drills in the Pacific Ocean when the aliens arrive!  On second thought, worry a lot because the alien ships erect a giant energy dome around Hawaii, leaving 97% of the fleet commanded by Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson in a glorified cameo) on the outside looking in.  Things get really ugly when two of the three warships on the inside of the dome are quickly turned into scrap by the ferocious space aliens who wield weapons straight out of the Transformer movies and look like they bought their armored space suits at Tony Stark’s yard sale.

Only the USS John Paul Jones is left to battle the alien menace. Unfortunately, with the executive officers dead, the Destroyer is now commanded by Lt. Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch), a cocky maverick on the verge of a discharge who is about as fit to wear a Navy uniform as Tom Arnold in McHale’s Navy. Can Hopper screw his stuff together long enough to defeat the heavily armed aliens who want to use the communications array in Hawaii to call their home planet, leading to a full scale invasion that will turn Earth into Planet G’s vacation home?

And more importantly, why was swimsuit model Booklyn Decker cast in this movie?

Ah. Never mind.

Even though it wasn’t the huge moneymaking blockbuster Universal Pictures wanted it to be and the critics unanimously panned it, truth be told, this ol’ grandpa of a critic kinda liked Battleship.

It’s big, loud, and dumb; which is the way I like my blockbuster movies.

And my women. But that’s a story for when you’re older.

So if you like big loud dumb movies loaded with explosions, hard charged fighting men and women kicking some alien butt, and buxom models turned actresses wearing tiny shirts, you can’t go wrong with Battleship. Heck, I’ll even go so far as to say that out of all the movies based on classic games, Battleship is the best hands down.

Yeah, I’m talking to you Super Mario Brothers. You will take your shame to your grave.

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Bigger is Better! (Part Three)

In this continuing series, DVD Critics Corner looks at some really big things featured in some great (and not so great) movies. Once again, your opinion on what is “big” will differ which I find hard to believe because people on the internet usually agree about everything!

Part Three – Very Big of You! And Him. And Her. And Them…

People for the most part are pretty decent folks; they’ll help you move a sofa, laugh at your lame jokes, and if push comes to shove give you that kidney you keep whining about needing so badly. Unfortunately even the nicest people will get a little cranky when transformed into freakish giants by either a nuclear accident or a scientist tampering in God’s domain. It’s probably because giants have to wear circus tents for clothes. And a White Castle Crave Case is like an M&M to them. And toilet paper…what do they do about toilet paper? Jeez’ no wonder they wig out and step on us. I’m sorry for not seeing things your way, big freakish giants.

Anyway, here’s a look at some big people from the world of cinema.

Who’s that? Lt. Col. Glenn Manning

As Seen In: The Amazing Colossal Man (1957)

Made Big By: Plutonium!

The Big Picture: Atomic energy is something we may never understand, mostly because science is really hard and I hate studying. Glenn Manning (Glenn Langan) wishes he knew about atomic energy, especially the part about how it turns you into a giant crazy bald guy with a love for violent destructive rampages when you catch a nuclear radiation blast right in the face! They should put a warning label on those bombs. Just a suggestion.

What Happened?  Col. Manning died as he lived. 60 feet tall and wearing a big diaper.

Who’s That? Nancy Archer

As Seen In: Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958)

Made Big By: Giant space alien

The Big Picture: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. And when that woman is 50 feet tall with a history of unstable behavior and a philandering husband on her “to kill” list, I’d say Hell would be the safest place to hide while Nancy is out on the town. I feel sorry for the shoe store clerk who has to tell her they have no Manolo Blahniks in her size, am I right ladies?

What Happened? At the climax of the film, Nancy is electrocuted by exploding power lines. That’s exactly how my giant Aunt died. Weird, huh?

Who’s That? Annoying 60’s Movie Teenagers

As Seen In: Village of the Giants (1965)

Made Big By: Ron Howard, boy genius

The Big Picture: Bert I. Gordon was the undisputed king of the “giant creature” genre. His movies featured such horrors as giant locusts, ants, spiders, and teenagers!  And the teens featured in Village of the Giants are the worst of all – actors in their mid twenties pretending to be teenagers! My God, was there ever a time when Beau Bridges didn’t look middle age?  Save us little Opie Taylor!

What Happened? Young Ron Howard creates an antidote that shrinks the adult teens to regular size, and they’re all bummed out cause they were defeated by the squares, man.

Who’s That? Fat Bastard

As Seen In: Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999), Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)

Made Big By: The evil mind of Mike Meyers

The Big Picture: Experts have argued for many years about the exact moment when Mike Meyers went off the rails. Was it The Cat in the Hat? The Love Guru? The endless Shrek franchise? Not even close, boyo. When he donned the tremendous fat suit to play the baby eating assassin Fat Bastard, Mike Meyers turned to the dark side.  Please come back to us Mike. We miss you.

What Happened? Fat Bastard turned into Thin Bastard at the end of Goldmember, and the world rejoiced, mostly because Goldmember was over a few minutes later.

Who’s That? Adam “Big Baby” Szalinski

As Seen In: Honey, I Blew Up the Kid (1992)

Made Big By: Rick Moranis – nutty inventor and practitioner of the dark arts

The Big Picture: Poopy diapers. Think of the poopy diapers.

What Happened? They use the shrink ray from the first film. And that’s why you never ever throw anything away.

And this concludes Bigger is Better!

Thanks for reading; and keep on reading, because reading is what keeps the communists away!

Or something like that. Truth be told I slammed a bottle of Nyquil about an hour ago so I don’t know what’s going on now! Do I have any cookies?  I should paint something. I wish Batman lived next door. I have hands? Cool! I have hands!!!

Click here to read part two of Bigger is Better!

Click here to read part one!

Outer Space Prison Blues!

LOCKOUT (2012) Directors: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger Starring: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare, Vincent Regan  Rating: PG-13 For bad space language and graphic space violence. 

Okay, show of hands – anyone ever been to outer space?

Me neither.

But I’ve seen a lot of movies set there, and outer space can either be a place for thrilling adventure (Star Wars, Star Trek), heart stopping terror (Alien), or head scratching confusion (Solaris, The Adventures of Pluto Nash).

Lockout, the sci-fi action thriller from the mind of Luc Besson has most of the above mentioned things, plus a pinch of Die Hard and a dash of Escape from L.A. thrown in for good measure. It’s like a Kellogg’s variety pack of cereal minus the two crappy boxes of Corn Flakes that nobody eats and will eventually throw away!

In the year 2072, a huge space prison called MS One orbits earth. The planet’s most dangerous criminals are kept aboard in cryogenic stasis for their entire sentence, which cuts down on daily meals and those pesky gang fights over the remote in the TV room.

The President’s crusading daughter Emilie (Maggie Grace) flies up to MS One to check on the health and well being of the inmates. Hoping to convince the first daughter that the prisoners really enjoy being frozen, the stupid ass warden thaws out a prisoner named Hydell (Joseph Gilgun) for her to interview. Unfortunately, Hydell is a homicidal maniac and he quickly kills Emilie’s guards and frees all of the prisoners, including his equally dangerous brother Alex (Vincent Regan).

Now I’m no expert in futuristic space prison design, but I would probably make instantly thawing out and freeing every prisoner something that cannot be accomplished by simply pushing one button on a computer console. I have to push more buttons to brew coffee!

Alex and his crazy brother take Emilie and the MS One staff hostage (all twenty of them – because in the future a Death Star-sized cryogenic prison facility can be staffed by the same number of people it takes to run a Best Buy) and demand that the president release them from space immediately.

The President and the oily Secret Service Director Langral  (PeterStormare) have another plan to rescue Daddy’s little girl, and it involves a cocky, ass kicking guy with nothing to lose!

Pictured – Guy with nothing to lose

CIA operative extraordinaire Snow (Guy Pearce) is having a really crappy day. Framed for the murder of a fellow operative while on a mission to recover stolen space program secrets, he’s given an ultimatum by Langral: sneak aboard the space prison and rescue Emilie or be placed in stasis for the next century or until the Cubs win the World Series, whichever comes first.

Pearce does a good job stepping into the John McClane/Snake Plisskin action hero role, cracking jokes and cracking skulls as he tries to get the President’s not so helpless daughter to an escape pod before the crazed space inmates find them and the space police swoop in with their space police fighter ships and blow the place up. Did I mention the movie is set in outer space?

There’s a subplot about Snow trying to find the evidence that will clear his name and another one about the sinister medical experiments going on aboard MS One, but all that takes a back seat to Snow’s wisecracking heroics and Alex and Hydell’s scene chewing, and that’s fine with me because subplots are to action movies like vampires are to the Twilight movies; life sucking and for girls!

To sum up, Luc Besson has once again brought us a fairly decent action thriller with a bit of sci-fi flair tacked on.

Lockout is no Die Hard or Escape from L.A. which is is a bad thing. But on the positive side, as far as futuristic space movies go, Lockout is no Battlefield Earth, and you should drop to your knees and thank God and Xenu for that!