Monthly Archives: March 2013

Better Off Dredd!

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DREDD (2012) Director: Pete Travis Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thrilby, Lena Headey Rating: R for a ton of graphic violence, bad language, adult situations, and dystopian future stuff.

Gather around kids, it’s time to learn something!

Wait! Come back! This will be brief, I promise. The movie I’m reviewing this week is based on a long running comic book, and I thought it would be nice if I gave you a little history lesson about the title character based on my extensive knowledge of something I just read on Wikipedia.

In 1977 Judge Joseph Dredd made his debut in 2000 AD, a British science fiction anthology comic book and became one of the most popular recurring characters. Fans thrilled to the gritty exploits of this “Street Judge” who dispenses law and order in a future society armed with a high tech handgun and an awesome helmet.

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Pictured: helmet that is awesome.

Then in 1995, Hollywood came a calling, and cult comic book Judge Dredd became big action movie Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone, his awesome helmet…

and his plated package!

Critics and comic book fans worldwide gave a big thumbs down to Sly’s robotic codpiece and everything else about Judge Dredd, although I think Rob Shneider did a fantastic job in the thankless role of Fergie, Dredd’s wisecracking, non codpiece wearing sidekick.

A good sidekick is aces in my book. So is a nude scene by an A list actress as long as it’s integral to the plot and she’s really really pretty.

Anyway, now that 17 years have passed and the horrible memories of  Judge Dredd have finally subsided, a new Judge Dredd was reborn with the 2012 actioner simply titled DREDD. Gone are the flying motorcycles and Versace designed costumes, replaced with lots of guns and buckets of CG blood and gore because that’s what Judge Dredd would want even though he’s a fictional character and therefore doesn’t exist!

In the future the world has been turned into a blighted wasteland because of a nuclear war or a plague or because someone forgot to water the plants. Everyone in America now lives in Mega City One, a mega metropolis which stretches from Boston to Washington DC, is home to 800 million people, and looks like a soundstage in South Africa.

Crime and lawlessness are rampant in Mega City One, and it’s up to The Judges (who have the power of judge, jury, and executioner) to maintain order. Leading the charge against the criminals is the biggest baddest Street Judge on the force, Joseph Dredd (Karl Urban) who talks softly and carries a really big gun with more bells and whistles than the bells and whistles kiosk at the mall.

Dredd, who hates to work with a partner, is of course partnered with a rookie Judge named Anderson (Olivia Thrilby) who is a psychic and can’t wear the awesome helmet because it interferes with her mind reading powers and hides her purty face.

While investigating a series of murders at a 200 story apartment building, Dredd and Anderson run afoul of Ma-Ma (Lena Heady), a ruthless drug lord who is really cranky when it comes to cops who want to disrupt her busy narcotics factory. Before he can call for backup, Dredd and his young partner find themselves sealed inside the massive skyscraper with hundreds of Ma-Ma’s heavily armed thugs who are just dying to welcome their new guests to the neighborhood.

It’s at this point where DREDD turns into a giant live action rated M for mature video game as Dredd and Anderson jump from level to level picking off bad guys with lots of gun fights and ass kicking, trying to shut down Ma-Ma’s drug empire and find an open window so they can call for backup because even in the future you can’t get a decent cell phone signal in a freakin high rise!

Action movie fans should be pretty satisfied with DREDD. Sci-fi fans who love things exploding in slow motion will love DREDD. People who like to see all of Karl Urban’s face will absolutly hate DREDD, because the actor never removes his helmet. Why? It’s awesome.

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Pictured: Awesome.

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The Designated Damon!

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THE BOURNE LEGACY (2012) Director: Tony Gilroy Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach Rating: PG-13 for some explosions, guns going off, and other spy vs. spy action.

The Bourne Legacy is a spinoff to the popular Jason Bourne spy movie series starring Matt Damon. A quick reminder; a spinoff is where a very minor character from a good movie is given his or her own film, and the results are usually sucktacular. For an example, I sight the 2011 abomination Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure, which was spun off from the High School Musical series.

Do not get me started about Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure. YOU NEVER MESS WITH A HIT! That’s all I have to say.

Actually, The Bourne Legacy is a “sidequel” to the Jason Bourne movies, with the action of Legacy taking place almost simultaneously with one of Damon’s three Bourne adventures.

Trouble is I’m not really sure which movie… I know it was the one where Jason Bourne was running around and making phone calls, and he fights a bunch of assassins, and they cut back to the CIA chiefs who shout “find Jason Bourne” over and over…

Is that the second one? No, it was the third one; The Bourne Equilibrium. Is that the title? I’m confused. And my back hurts.

Anyhoo, as The Bourne Legacy opens, the once secret events of the previous Bourne movies have gone public, and the big muckety-mucks in Washington are anxious to know how and why everyone working for the CIA (except maybe the janitors and cafeteria personnel) is trying to kill Jason Bourne and vice versa. Secret Ops overseer Eric Byer (a cranky Edward Norton), who’s a little peeved that one amnesiac loner has offed almost every covert assassin in the CIA’s Rolodex, decides to shut down the secret project that made Jason Bourne the one man killing machine he is today.

 It turns out Jason Bourne is just one of a small army of CIA “super soldiers” (from a unit known as Operation Outcome) who have been genetically altered to be better, stronger and more secret agent-ier than your average spy.  And since the CIA doesn’t “shut down” anything by merely asking people to clean out their desks and turn in their I.D. badges, (this is the movies, after all) we all know things are about to get messy.

Fellow Operation Outcome member Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) learns the hard way that his services are no longer required when a spy drone tries to blow up the huge chunk of Alaska he happens to be standing in at that particular moment. A little miffed about his crappy severance package, and jonesing for the “chems” that will keep him in tip top super soldier condition, Cross sets out to get some answers using his spy skills: cleverly avoiding every closed circuit camera in the country because the CIA can monitor every one of those at the same time, picking up his phony passport collection from his secret stash, and driving cross country in just a couple of hours. He is a super soldier after all. They don’t need bathroom breaks!

Cross hopes CIA genetics whiz Marta Shering (Rachel Weisz), one of the scientists who created the super soldier pills will be able to help him replenish his dwindling supply, but she’s been targeted for early retirement too because she’s part of the many loose ends that is Operation Outcome and she can’t fake an American accent for a tinker’s darn!

Now Cross and his pretty scientist pal are on the run trying to escape the remaining assassins Jason Bourne hasn’t killed so they can live free to be a covert spy and genetic engineer without the pesky CIA looking over their shoulders. Isn’t that what everyone wants?

Sadly, if you’ve seen The Bourne Identity, its two sequels, and every movie that has ripped off The Bourne Identity and its two sequels, there’s nothing very new or unique about The Bourne Legacy, because it’s pretty much like every other “rogue spy” thriller we’ve seen in the last nine years.

Sure, there’s plenty of gunplay and fisticuffs, which is always good, and Jeremy Renner is a decent stand in for Matt Damon, whose salary demands are probably in the billions of dollars by now, but I think maybe it’s time to give the Jason Bourne movies a rest for a while.

Then a few years down the road, you can reboot the series with Jason Bourne’s son picking up where his Dad left off!

They can call it The Bourne Conception…

You’re welcome, movie studio guys.

.

They Call Us Bruce!

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LOOPER (2012) Director: Rian Johnson Starring: Bruce Willis, Joseph Grodon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels Rating: R for violence, language, and Piper Perabo’s nekkid boobs! 

True story!

The other day I was sitting in my living room drinking a cup of Celestial Seasons tea and watching the two part episode of  Knight Rider where Michael Knight battles his evil twin Garth and his supertruck Goliath (which was awesome by the way), when suddenly another me emerged from the bedroom.

I must admit I was a little freaked out when me walked in on me. Aside from the possibility of tearing the space time continuum like in the sci fi movies, I never realized how funny I walked.

“Hey me. I’m future you,” my other self said. “I used a time machine to get here. From the future.”

“Oh hi.” I replied. “I don’t know if you know this, but we walk funny. ”

“Yeah, listen up Sparky, I have no time for that idiotic chatter you call humor,” my other self yelled.

Apparently I become a bit of an asshat in the future.

“Later on today you will decide to do another one of your DVD Critics blog things. Whatever you do, DO NOT watch and review Looper, a time travel thriller starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. If you do, the future will be ruined beyond repair!”

“Really?” I asked nervously.

“Nah, I’m just messin with ya,” my future self said. “Review whatever movie you want. It won’t have any impact on the future whatsoever…. Or will it?  Oh, and you’re out of aspirin.”

And then the other me flipped me off and vanished.

Needless to say, I turned off Knight Rider and watched Looper because I’m not going to let anyone (even myself) influence what movies I review for this blog. Plus, I wanted to cover my bases because I’m not sure if my future self was just yanking my chain.

Man, when do I become such an asshat?

In the year 2074, time machines exist but the only people who use them are mobsters because they know how to have fun. Since you can’t dispose of bodies in 2074 (apparently shovels are extinct or something) anyone the mob wants to kill is set back in time to 2044 where a “looper” is waiting with a big gun to do the deed.

Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt with a fake nose) is a looper in good standing with local mob boss Abe played by a rumpled Jeff Daniels, who looks like he was woken from a nap right before they filmed his scenes.  Joe loves killing time travelers by day and partying at night with his fellow loopers in an unnamed city that is apparently only inhabited by the douchey hipsters from those Ketel One vodka commercials.

Sadly all good things must come to an end for Joe and his looper pals when a future crime lord known as The Rainmaker starts “closing the loop” by sending any old loopers still alive in 2074  back in time to be killed by their younger selves, which is a really crappy retirement gift no matter what time period you live in.

When young Joe finds himself pointing a gun at his older self, things get very complicated when old Joe escapes his younger self with little difficulty because old Joe is Bruce Willis and young Joe is the kid from Third Rock from the Sun. 

Turns out old Joe has a plan to hunt down this Rainmaker guy when he is a little kid in the past and kill him before he can grow up to order Joe’s execution. That’s right, Bruce Willis wants to murder a kid. In case you haven’t guessed by now, Looper isn’t Back to the Future where time travel was good family fun; mostly because Doc Brown didn’t let Marty McFly murder kids!

Young Joe races frantically to “close the loop” and stop old Joe before Abe and his henchmen kill him so he can’t become old Joe.  Young Joe discovers that one of old Joe’s targets is a small farmboy who might grow up to become The Rainmaker. He befriends the boys Mom Sara (Emily Blunt) who actually believes young Joe’s story that a man from the future is coming to murder her child.

Hmmm. A woman named Sara is trying to protect her child from a murderer sent from the future. Where have I heard that story before?

Anyway, will young Joe be able to stop old Joe before he completes his deadly mission and forever alters the future?

If you think Looper is going to be a slam bam action flick because Bruce Willis is starring in it, you’re going to be disappointed. If you’re a sci fi enthusiast (nerd) like me who enjoys movies that explore the cause and effect theories of the space time continuum in a fresh way, you’re going to like Looper.

So in summation, I liked Looper, a thriller with a unique take on a well worn sci fi subject that really makes you think. In fact, I thought about this movie a bit too hard, because I have a little headache right now.

Do I have any aspirin?