Monthly Archives: January 2014

A Leatherface Only A Mother Could Love!

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TEXAS CHAINSAW  3D (2013)

Director: John Luessenhop

Starring:  Alexandra Daddario, Trey Songz, Dan Yeager, Tania Raymonde, Keram Malicki-Sanchez 

Plot: A girl inherits a Texas home with 3 bedrooms, 2 and a half baths, a full dining room, and a friggin loon with a chainsaw!

Rating: There’s a guy with a chainsaw hacking people to death. What do you think?

I’d like to kick things off with a little song I wrote just for this review, sung to the tune of The Beverly Hillbillies theme song:

Let me tell you folks a story ‘bout a creepy kinda place,

Where some stupid teens got introduced to good ol’ Leatherface.

There was blood and guts and carnage, disembowelments – how bizarre!

It’s a hootenanny at the Texas Chainsaw Massa-car!

Okay, I haven’t gotten the rhyming part down yet. Maybe I’ll be a rapper!

In 1974 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre introduced the innocent movie audiences to Leatherface, a unique fellow who wore masks made of human skin and enjoyed turning unsuspecting teenagers into Purina Dog Chow with his huge chainsaw.  Naturally people loved the guy.

TCM spawned three sequels, a remake, and a prequel to the remake. Among the highlights of those many movies:

In Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986) Leatherface has a climactic chainsaw battle with Dennis Hopper, who was probably on a ton of drugs at the time and thought he was actually having a fight to the death with a big guy with a chainsaw.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1997) was actually filmed in 1994 and featured two unknown actors named Matthew McConaughy and Renee Zellweger.  Renee and Matty were very pissed when the movie was released in a few theaters in 1997 to capitalize on their new fame, which is kind of silly when you think the guy who starred in Failure to Launch and the girl who gave us New in Town actually gave a crap about their reputations at one time.

The true star of the super grizzly 2003 remake surprisingly titled The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was the tiny tank top our heroine Jessica Beil wore throughout the movie.  That flimsy patch of transparent cotton clung tightly to Miss Biel’s svelt figure during all the running, jumping, bouncing and jiggling she had to do to avoid being shredded by Leather’s mighty chainsaw. Simply outstanding.

Now comes the latest chapter in the Leatherface saga, this one simply entitled Texas Chainsaw. Ignoring all the previous storylines, this movie picks up right after the events of the original.

A blood soaked teen escapes the Sawyer farmhouse and is rescued just before Leatherface can do his famous cut you in half with a chainsaw. The local Sherriff (Thom Barry) is about to arrest Leatherface and the Sawyer clan when a group of vigilantes led by King of the rednecks Burt Hartman (Paul Rae) attack the farmhouse and burn it to the ground. A baby is found and quickly adopted by one of the attackers because bloodthirsty vigilantes cannot be bothered with adoption agencies! Thinking that the Sawyer clan is wiped out, the townspeople go back to their peaceful non murdering lives.

Twentysomething years later, we meet Heather (Alexandra Daddario), a strong willed woman who believes her midriff should be exposed for the world to see at all times. Heather receives word from a lawyer that her Grandmother (who she never knew about) has passed on and left her a very nice estate in sunny Newt, Texas. Thinking this is a road leading to riches, Heather and her midriff head off to cash in on her dead Granny’s estate.

Accompanying Heather on her quest is the standard group of victims you find in any horror fest; poor misguided youths who make bad decisions and get picked off by a killer with a tricked out Garden Weasel. Let’s do a quick role call!

Ryan, Heather’s boyfriend (Trey Songz) – A likable doofus who is not nearly in the same league as his sexy galpal. Luckily he will be killed before he realizes their relationship needs some serious work.

Nikki, Heather’s best friend (Tania Raymonde) – Since movie rules dictate that she’s not allowed to be as hot as our heroine, Nikki differentiates herself by being easier than first grade math. She’s the girl who reflexively yells out “Woooooo!” when the word party is uttered.

Kenny, Nikki’s boyfriend (Keram Malicki Sanchez) – He’s the one who goes off to investigate the strange noise coming from the cellar, never to bee seen in solid form again. Poor Dope. Good thing he dies before he finds out his girlfriend is the Queen of Whore Island.

Naturally, things get a bit messy when Heather and her pals discover that (big surprise) Leatherface (Dan Yeager) is living in the basement of the house and is not very pleased with a bunch of stupid kids making a mess in his Grandma’s nice house. Heather escapes the carnage and finds the Sherriff who offers to help, but his plans are thwarted by Burt and the surviving vigilantes who want to finish what they started years ago.

When Heather learns the identity of her chainsaw wielding cousin and what happened to her real family on that fateful night (A note to movie cops – never leave a big box labeled “evidence” lying around so anybody can read through it!), who will she side with when Leatherface has his final showdown with Burt and his evil posse?

Despite the unique plot twist at the end, Texas Chainsaw does very little to differentiate itself from the previous entries to the franchise. There’s stupid young people, angry old people, lengthy conversations about the importance of family and the ties that bind us together.

It’s like Fried Green Tomatoes if Fried Green Tomatoes had a large man with a human skin mask wielding a chainsaw.

You know, something we all can relate to!

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The Smith Family Vacation!

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AFTER EARTH (2013)

DIRECTOR: M. Knight Shyamalan

STARRING: Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Sophie Okonedo, Zoe Kravitz

PLOT: Father and son do some bonding on a fierce planet that used to  be earth.

RATING: PG-13 for intense scenes with CG animals and a big ass alien bug!

2013 was not a good year for movies set on earth in the future.

In Oblivion, earth 63 years in the future is a desolate wasteland populated by creepy robots and Tom Cruise, who is also a creepy robot.

In Elysium, earth circa 2157 is so messed up the only person the poor people can turn to is Matt Damon!

Yes, Matt Daaaaamon.

Matt Daaaaamon.

After Earth, starring Will Smith and his son Jaden is set over 1,000 years in the future, where a long abandoned earth has been reclaimed by nature.  The streets and highways have been replaced by green fields, the skyscrapers replaced by towering trees, and the adorable woodland creatures that used to populate earth have been replaced by bloodthirsty animals who are as vicious as they are computer generated. But there is no longer a Starbucks on every corner, so I’d say new earth is pretty damn great!

As the movie opens, human kind abandons earth because we forgot to pick up after ourselves and we left the water running or something.

They relocate to a planet called Nova Prime where everything is peaches and cream for about one thousand years until an alien race attacks, determined to wipe out mankind with huge six legged beasts called Ursa who hunt humans by smelling their fear.

But General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) of the United Ranger Corps has learned to mask his fear using a method that in no way involves the use of Axe body spray. The Rangers defeat the Ursa thanks to Cypher’s mind control trick, and Cypher is elevated to Fresh Prince levels of famous, but he’s become estranged from his family, especially his son Kitai (Jaden Smith) who wants to be a Ranger just like his awesome but neglectful Dad.

Hoping to reconnect with his boy, Cypher takes Kitai along on a Ranger Corps business trip to a neighboring planet, but things take a turn for the sucky when the ship is damaged in an asteroid storm, sucked into a wormhole and crash lands on earth.

Cypher and son survive the crash, but Cypher is severely injured and the only way to call for help is to find a distress beacon located in the tail section of the ship which is now miles away.

A brief aside: it’s comforting to know that designers and engineers 1,000 years into the future will still make ships with only one distress beacon that will still be located in the tail section of the craft – the one freaking thing that always breaks off and hits the ground miles away from where the rest of the ship will crash!

Kitai agrees to take on the dangerous mission to hike to the tail wreckage and signal for help.

Can the young Ranger in training survive the harsh flora and fauna of the planet of earth?

Can Kitai defeat the Ursa creature that escaped from the wreckage and is now stalking the jungle?

Why are Will and his son talking in some kind of weird Australian/Jamaican/ New Zealand accent?

Did you know the Six Sense guy directed this? Man, remember what a good movie that was?

Contrary to what you may have heard, After Earth is not the worst movie ever made. Not by a long shot.

As a person who loves watching, studying and absorbing bad movies since the cable company plugged the box into the house over 30 years ago, you can believe me when I tell you After Earth no danger of being added to the list of cinematic abominations that are in fact the worst movies ever made.

Smokey and the Bandit III is on this list.  The Ghost Rider movies are on the list. Charlies Angels: Full Throttle is on the list. Twice if I had my way.

The only thing After Earth is guilty of is being a boring vanity project Will Smith cooked up to introduce us to his son Jaden in the hopes that the movie going public we will embrace him like a new puppy we will hug, cuddle, take for longs walks in the park and love unconditionally even though the puppy in question has very little acting experience and practically zero on screen charisma.

What a waste of a puppy.

Die Even Harder than the Last Time You Died and then Lived Free Again! With A Vengeance!

die hard5A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (2013)

DIRECTOR: John Moore

STARRING: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Radivoje Bukvic

PLOT: Supercop John McClane runs out of stuff to destroy in the United States, so he meets up with his estranged son in Russia and destroys stuff there!

RATING: R for gunfire, explosions, violence, Bruce Willis and his potty mouth.

It’s hard to believe it’s been over 25 years since Bruce Willis exploded on to the big screen in Die Hard. The movie made Willis a superstar, and is a crowning achievement in the action movie genre. Willis’s movie alter ego Detective John McClane is one of the greatest action movie characters of all time; a man who has thwarted terrorist plots, killed armies of bad guys, and destroyed more property than your average  Category 3 Hurricane. And like an Energizer Bunny who curses a lot, McClane just keeps going and going…

If you’ve never seen any of the Die Hard movies (and in all seriousness if you haven’t, then we cannot be friends), here’s a quick synopsis of the franchise:

Die Hard (1988) – John McClane blows up an office tower in Los Angeles, kills Alan Rickman, saves Christmas.

Die Hard 2 (1990) – John McClane blows up an airport in Washington D.C., drives a snowmobile, saves Christmas again.

Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995) – John McClane destroys Wall Street, a subway, a cargo ship, and kills Jeremy Irons all with a terrible hangover and Samuel L. Jackson screaming at him throughout the whole movie.

Live Free or Die Hard (2007) – John McClane thwarts a cyber terrorists plot to rob the internet, beats up a fighter jet, miraculously stops himself from killing Justin Long.

Now John “yippee kay yay” McClane is back in A Good Day to Die Hard. This movie takes place in Russia, where the bad guys are big and beefy, the weather is dull and dreary, and those Yakov Smirnoff “In Soviet Russia” jokes are even less funny.  

As the movie opens, McClane is hanging around the Police station loading up his gun and waiting to shoot something when he learns his son Jack (Jai Courtney) has been arrested in Russia and is on trial for attempted murder. McClane heads off to Russia to patch things up with his estranged boy and have one of those charming father/son moments before the execution.

McClane is barely off the plane in Moscow before all heck breaks loose. The courthouse where Jack is being held for trial is attacked by a squad of heavily armed guys; which is par for the course since the Die Hard franchise invented the squad of heavily armed mercenaries that show up out of nowhere. The armed guys are trying to take out a political prisoner named Komarov (Sebastian Koch) who has some top secret info dating back to the Chernobyl disaster that evil Russian official Viktor Chagarin (Sergei Kolsesnikov) needs to destroy the world or to make him rich or something; it’s all the same with these Die Hard villains: money and world domination. But I guess this kind of villain is more exciting than a villain who only wants to control all the used car lots in the greater Sacramento area. To each his own I guess.

Anyway, Jack helps Komarov escape the courthouse attack, and as they flee, they run into dear ol’ Daddy McClane in the parking lot. A massive car chase follows between Jack, the heavily armed mercenaries, and of course McClane who just can’t miss an opportunity to destroy more Russian property than when the Luftwaffe was in town. When McClane finally catches up with Jack (and most of Moscow has stopped burning), he learns why sonny boy has missed so many Thanksgiving dinners: Jack is a deep cover secret agent assigned to rescue Komarov from prison so he can rat out Chagarin to the CIA. When Jack’s cover is blown and Chagarin’s heavily armed thugs destroy the CIA safehouse, the wild and crazy McClane boys are on the run trying to stay one step ahead of Chagarin while trying to figure out the super huge secret Komarov has been hiding all these years. Spoiler alert: It’s not the world’s best Chicken Kiev recipe.

McClane and son move from one action packed shootout to the next as Bruce Willis fires off his usual wisecracks and Jai Courtney does his best to remind you he is not Channing Tatum or Sam Worthington.  Luckily Jack McClane has inherited his Father’s Wile E. Coyote like ability to survive falls from very high places. I figure by the next Die Hard sequel they’ll just admit that John McClane and Wolverine from The X-Men are brothers from a different mother.

A Good Day to Die Hard has all stuff you’ve seen in all the previous Die Hard movies, and judging by the lazy line readings and the “Has the check cleared” look he has on his face for the entre run time, maybe Bruce Willis knows this too. I guess they thought having McClane’s badass secret agent son along for the ride would keep things fresh, but unfortunately Jai Cortney is so wooden it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if his parents were in fact a couple of Adirondack chairs.

But hey, at least John McCLane got to travel to another country in this installment! Okay, he left a huge crater where suburban Moscow used to be, but everyone does something stupid while on vacation.

Did I ever tell you about the time I ate some bad sushi and then went on the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disney World?

It was not the happiest place on Earth that day, believe you me…