Robocop Minimalist Art Print

Found this awesome print browsing on ETSY recently and just had to share. An amazing minimalist art print for Paul Verhoeven's Robocop. What I love most of all, besides the fact that it's a fucking poster for Robocop, is that the colors would compliment the color scheme I currently have going on in my apartment, so this is a no brainer. I must buy. 

Size: 18 X 24 inches
Price: $20

Not a bad price for a handmade art print. The artist and seller, Andrew Heath, has a nice eclectic selection of geek inspired minimalist art prints, so I urge you to check his stuff out.

You can check out his ETSY shop Andrew Heath, or you can visit his website Andrew-Heath.com.

You can bet your ass this print will be up on my wall soon. Very, very soon indeed.



Directed by: Jonathan Parker
Category: Independent/Comedy

This was the type of film I was obsessed with about a good 15 years ago. I remember a time when these little quirky independent straight-to-video films were all the rage. During this period, I rarely ever went to the theater or saw any big budget films. This was how I became aware of some personal favorites of mine to this day, films like Tom DiCillo's Living in Oblivian (1995) for example. I just love that film to death.

Though this one was made many years later, it still has the same look and feel of those mid 90's treasures, but surprisingly, I'd never heard of it until I was browsing Netflix recently. This was one of those late night-need to watch something to fall asleep-kinda films and sometimes, you just can't go wrong with Crispin Glover in full on "strange" mode.

I would prefer not to.

Bartleby is a very simple movie, the majority of which takes place inside an office. The Boss (David Paymer) runs a public records office with 3 employees. Thinking it's time to expand he decides to put out an ad for a new position, a filer. Bartleby (Crispin Glover) answers the ad and though the interview process is itself a little awkward, The Boss decides to give Bartleby a shot anyway. Immediately Bartleby is on the ball. Quick, efficient and very good at filing. But after a few days it becomes apparent things will not be going as smoothly as The Boss had hoped after every single request and order is replied with a "I would prefer not to". Strange, but amusing at first, The Boss quickly becomes unnerved and increasingly unraveled after Bartleby's repeated denials to do any kind of work become too much for him to bare.

This is not a great film, but it's unique and quirky enough that it becomes very entertaining, especially on a late night as you're casually looking for something to watch as you wait to get sleepy. The small cast is a standout, which surprised me for a film this small in scale. David Paymer is always fun to watch, but you've also got Joe Piscopo, Maury Chaykin and Glenne Headley as the office staff. Crispin Glover, of course, is great. Nobody can play eccentric quite like he can. And that's one of Bartleby's biggest strengths. Just the right amount of unique casting to give the film that little edge. The film's 70's inspired costume and set decor are a real standout, as is Seth Asarnow and director Jonathan Parker's inventive and kitschy score.

A fun little film with enough elements done the right way to give it that little bit of edge. It's also a hard film to categorize, as most of these films are. It's not a comedy, but it has funny little bits here and there. It's not a drama, but offers a few bits in there as well. And I think that's why I like these types of films so much. They blend enough of all these elements with a unique and creative sensibility that they become entertaining, whether you know how to categorize them or not.



Directed by: Michael Mann
Category: Crime/Thriller

The first time I ever heard of Michael Mann was with The Last of the Mohicans. I never actually saw that one, but remember reading a lot about it when it was released and his name was always associated with every article I had read because apparently it was such a different type of film for him than what he was usually doing. Once I began reading up on him soon after that I realized he was responsible for the Miami Vice series from the 80's. Okay, pretty cool. He's got some street cred. 3 years later he releases his next film, the crime opus Heat, and apparently did something that no other filmmaker had been able to do, put both Robert De Niro "and" Al Pacino together on the silver screen in the same "scene". Sure they were both in Godfather II, but they didn't actually share any screen time. I know, doesn't seem like a big deal today (especially after 2008's Righteous Kill), but I remember it being a helluva big deal when Heat came out in 1995. After that he sort of teeter totters between drama, biopics and action thrillers. All of which sees him gradually shift his style of filmmaking to something more mainstream and freestyle. Nothing like the calculated and meticulous style of filmmaking he used to use with his earlier films, films like Thief. I'll be honest, I'd pretty much given up on Mann after films like Ali and The Insider. Collateral was cool, but I just don't like the way he shot it. And I still haven't Miami Vice or Public Enemies. But one day I caught The Keep on Netflix, for no other reason than the name intrigued me and I was looking for something 80's to quench my thirst. When I saw it was written and directed by Michael Mann, I was shocked, even more so once the film started playing out. It was beautiful, stunningly shot in glorious widescreen and actually a pretty decent horror film. Not great, and a little weird, but certainly entertaining. You see, that's the Michael Mann I miss. It was with that film that I slowly started to seek out his earlier films. Thief was next on my list after Hellford667 Movie Reviews enthusiastic review sold me. You can check out that awesome review here.

The plot gets pretty intricate with lots of little subplots and whatnot, but basically Frank (James Caan) is a jewel thief. He breaks into high end vaults and safes and steals diamonds with his good buddy Barry, and a third guy who acts as a lookout. No money, no gold, just jewels. He runs a car dealership and a local tavern by day to seem legit, but spends his nights stealing diamonds and reselling them on the black market for gangsters. As the way most of these stories go, he dreams of quitting the life and retiring with a family. You'd never guess that once you got to know him, but please just go with it. Being solely independent, he reluctantly accepts a big score from a big time gangster against his better judgement in hopes that the pay out will allow him to leave the life sooner rather than later and retire for good. Only things don't work out that way and when you push Frank, even if it's just a little, you better prepare yourself for a storm. A fact these big time hoodlums are completely unaware of.

This is a really good fuckin' movie. Released in 1981, though it feels more like the 70's, Thief is a prime example of pure, raw, genuine talent on a technical level. This was Mann's first theatrical feature, and with the level of maturity he shows with the material, you'd think Thief was his fifth or sixth film. It's impressive. Add James Cann's ferocious turn as Frank and you've got a solid winner. My only real beef would be that I felt it delved into Frank's love life way too much and could easily have been trimmed by about 30 minutes. Thief runs a tad over 2 hours, and it  seemed like the film stopped dead in it's tracks every time it addressed his love life, which honestly didn't really add anything to the story other than the fact that it showed he's a prick who has no problem rough housing a lady, even in a crowded bar no less. But if they had cut most of that stuff out, it would have played a lot more smoothly, necessarily shortening the running time and having a much better flow.

Do you dig that poster art? I don't. To me it looks trippy, or psychedelic and says nothing about the film in general. If you haven't seen the film, then you don't even know what those images mean. Plus, it doesn't look like James Caan at all. Why is it in black and white and in negative? Bad poster art for a great film, not a good combination. The lame DVD cover art didn't do it any favors either. Get on the ball people!

This has a nice supporting cast of character actors portraying Italian hoodlums. Hell, even Dennis Farina is in here as a henchman, though he never utters a single word. But I think the most surprising casting choice for me was Willie Nelson as Frank's mentor and father figure Okla, who sits behind bars with a disease that will kill him before he ever gets released. This was another minor subplot that I felt could easily have been trimmed up a bit. I get the whole mentor angle, but I didn't feel they needed to keep going back to it as much as they did.

Minor issues aside, I love how detailed Mann gets when it comes to "the job". It's fascinating. He literally shows you how to break into a safe and what tools you'll need to accomplish this. And the way he shoots it is just gorgeous. Beautiful shots and impressive camera angles. And it only gets better when the shit hits the fan. Mann injects energy when the film needs it the most, the violence. And when it comes to violence, he doesn't shy away or play it down. It's bloody and it's brutal, just the way we like it. Thank you Mr. Mann. 



Directed by: Ridley Scott
Category: Science Fiction

I had been meaning to get to this one for a while, but kept putting it on the back burner as I watched more and more films. I think I wanted to process everything I took in, and in the least, even try to see it again. But that doesn't look like it's going to happen so here I go.

This one seemed to have the majority of the filmgoers and critics split right down the middle. Some loved it, some hated it. With that in the back of my head, I went in with an open mind. Also, I avoided spoilers whenever I could and did not see any of the viral marketing they worked so hard on. I just wanted to go in knowing as little as possible about this, keeping it fresh. Really, the only thing I knew beforehand was that it had something to do with the "Space Jockey's", as they were known in the first Alien film, but now known as "The Engineer's".

I think I'm going to just keep this one short and sweet. If you hadn't had a chance to see this yet, the less you know going into it the better. I went in pretty much spoiler free, and so should you. So there won't be any spoilers in here, which means I won't really be able to delve into the story or plot much. This will really be about my overall feelings about it, and not an analysis.

My experience with Prometheus was of 100% fulfillment. I didn't leave the theater disappointed or let down in the least. In fact, not really going in expecting anything remarkable at all, it left me completely satisfied. I think what most people's gripe would be, and I'm just guessing, is that when you know Ridley Scott was coming back to the Alien franchise, the franchise he helped create so long ago, that you naturally expected another horror film in space, with the same kind of "truckers in space" atmosphere. Or something to that affect. I know I had partly hoped for something like that as well. But what Ridley Scott offers in Prometheus is something else entirely different, yet a combination of all the things we've come to love about the Alien film franchise. It's got some nice bits of action, some really good horror elements, and a healthy dose of thrills and suspense, all done Ridley Scott style. Admittedly, there might not be as much action as I had hoped, but that really didn't make that much of a difference to me. I enjoyed this tremendously from start to finish because most of all, it was a visual feast. Not just a visual feast, but a Ridley Scott science fiction visual feast. A very, very rare thing indeed.

I have read in several critiques and reviews that a lot of people found the dialogue to be juvenile and unintelligible. If it was, I didn't notice. I was captivated simply by the visuals, Noomi Rapace's intense performance, Charlize Theron's hard as nails bitch, Michael Fassbender's fascinating David, Idris Elba's cool as hell captain, and the intensity that Scott and company deliver to the story. I will also say, when it was all over, it left me with a lot of questions. I ended up getting into a deep and sometimes heated discussion on Facebook about what certain sequences and scenes specifically meant. It helps if you have the time to scour forums dedicated entirely to this (which a friend of mine did), but for the average moviegoer you're left scratching your head wondering what the hell it all meant? After deep thought, reflection and deep discussions, I get most of it now. But I think they purposely left a lot of it open to interpretation in the event that they decide to make another one. You know, just in case.

All in all, a brilliant, fascinating and thoroughly entertaining science fiction film done the way only Ridley Scott can deliver.



Directed by: Josh Trank

This was a film I tried so hard to go see in the theater because it intrigued me so much that I felt like I owed it to the geek community to do so. I did not make it to the theater after all as usual, but I knew it would be coming out on DVD shortly after and so I just patiently waited. But I had already built up this whole awesome premise in my head about how far it would or wouldn't go with this concept and the infinite possibilities of being a teenager with superpowers suddenly bestowed upon you. I mean, what would you do? Would you use it for good? Would you use it for evil? Or would you be a prick and use it for selfish purposes? Either way, it's such a fascinating idea.

Well I can honestly and happily say that this film did not disappoint. In fact, I would say it surpassed my assumptions and expectations because it ended up going further with that central concept than I expected and it was a surprisingly much darker film.

Matt and Andrew are cousins in high school. Andrew is a loner while Matt is a little more outgoing. Andrew decides to buy a camera one day and record every second of every day for documentation. It's annoying most of the time, but offers a fascinating glimpse into his daily life as a loner with a mother on her death bed, an alcoholic and abusive father and the constant bullying he receives at school. This is how we see the goings on as a viewer in Chronicle, through the lens of Andrew's video camera. One night while attending a party, they befriend Steve, a popular kid in school with high aspirations. They go down an embankment when they find something odd in the ground and decide to film it. What happens to them as a result of this exploration defies explanation, yet somehow gives them superhuman abilities. At first it's fun as they start learning new abilities and powers while using them to taunt and tease people for fun and laughs. Soon however, Andrew's deep emotional problems and traumatic family life are mirrored and strengthened by these new powers and before long he becomes an angry and uncontrollable force with powers too great to comprehend in his fragile state. Will Matt and Steve be able to stop Andrew before it's too late?

If you read my reviews, you know I generally despise found footage films. They drive me nuts and physically make me ill with there shaky cam bullshit. Often times I find it an easy copout for no talent filmmakers. It's just so easy to make a found footage film these days than to put any real effort into making an actual film. But I digress. The found footage theme actually works in Chronicle's favor and for the most part, it's not overdone. One of the most surprising aspects of the way Chronicle was shot is that it wasn't unnecessarily and annoyingly shaky. Director Josh Trank creatively found ways to keep the camera still for the majority of the film and mostly succeeds. How else can I put this? I didn't want to throw up.

I almost considered watching this with my 9 year old knowing what it was about partially and thought he might enjoy it too. I'm glad I didn't because this one threw me for a loop going into some really dark places that I hadn't anticipated. The last quarter of this is just intense, dramatic and jaw dropping to a degree. Though the effects weren't up to par a few times, for the most part they work really well considering the budget, which I'm sure is part of the reason director Josh Trank has been tapped to reboot the Fantastic Four franchise. He's got a genuine talent for filmmaking and special effects, no doubt about it, and I'm curious to see what he does with that Marvel property. In any case, it certainly couldn't be any worse than the two lackluster films we've already gotten. Just sayin'.

Though all the actors do a fine job conveying different types of the High School "type", I think the standout here is Dane DeHaan, who plays the troubled introverted kid of the group Andrew. At first playing him to be a quiet loner who's constantly bullied and picked on at school and who's just flat out socially awkward, the acquirement of these super human abilities only seem to enhance his deep psychological and emotional problems to such an intense degree that...................well I won't spoil it for you. You just have to see it. It's pretty damn good.

One last little thing before I go. I didn't realize until my buddy Ingo over at Hellford667 Movie Reviews mentioned it, but the screenplay is credited to a Max Landis, son of cult director John Landis. Coooooool. Not bad Mr. Landis. Not bad indeed.

I must say, the trailers barely hint at what this film has to offer. Maybe that was on purpose, or maybe it was bad marketing; I don't know. All I can say from my own experience with it is that it went a lot further and a lot darker than I was expecting it to, which was very refreshing.



Directed by: Sydney Lumet
Category: Drama

This was one of those old "Oscar" films that I always heard about, but never actually saw. I knew it was huge when it came out in 1976, the same year I was born, and won a shitload of Oscars. But other than that I didn't really know anything about it. This recently became available on Netflix Instant and when I read the little synopsis, I have to admit it sounded a helluva lot more interesting than I had anticipated. So I just had to see it. I enjoy these older films from time to time. They always remind me of how these dramas and thrillers should be made, with class. Plus, it was one of those rainy day afternoons. So it was a perfect opportunity to take in an old Hollywood classic.

So there's this television news anchor named Howard Beale (Peter Finch), who's at the brink of a nervous breakdown. His marriage is on the rocks, he's unhappy in life and he's just found out that he's being fired because of low ratings, right before he's about to go on air. So he decides that he just doesn't give a shit anymore and when he sits at his desk one last time to deliver the news, he instead offers a rambling speech about how miserable he is and that come tomorrow, he will blow his brains out on live television for the world to see. This is the event that sets everything in motion. The studio realizes that he's unbalanced and possibly suffering from a nervous emotional breakdown. But after he convinces them that he's in fact fine, they let him deliver one last monologue on live television before he's taken off the air for good. It's with this monologue that he delivers a tirade on the world, belting out opinions on every topic and before long, he's a sensation. Finally, somebody who speaks the truth! Naturally, the network wants to capitalize on this new fame since they are now the #1 station after being the lowest rated network for years. But how far is too far?

That's only a fraction of what's going on here though, because there are various other stories and lots of behind the scenes things going on, which come off as intense as any drama you will ever see. The razor sharp dialogue is one for the books. People don't really talk like this in real life, but seeing these seasoned actors belt out these amazing speeches and lines of dialogue that sound like it came right out of a play is truly amazing. This film, from every angle, is amazing.

The cast here is simply phenomenal, and though they're all just fantastic, it's Faye Dunaway who steals the show playing a new hands on producer of the fledgling network and who becomes the brain child behind the whole idea of marketing and ultimately benefiting off of newscaster Howard Beale's nervous breakdown. She's just a rare breed of actress who's so impossibly good at what she does. That's not to say the rest aren't fantastic. Robert Duvall, Peter Finch (who won an posthumous Oscar for his role as Howard Beale), Ned Beatty and William Holden all bring the right amount of class to the production.

If you're a lover of cinema, this is one you need to see. I can't believe it's taken me this long, but I'm glad I finally saw it. It's simply an amazing film.

Punisher short film: Dirty Laundry

By now you've surely seen this. If not, then you're in for a treat. Thomas Jane who played The Punisher in writer/director Jonathan Hensleigh's incarnation of the character in 2004 actually financed and made this fan film himself. I don't know about you, but to me that screams dedication and commitment to a character. For me, it tells me it wasn't just another job for him, that he truly cares for the character. Sure, the 2004 film wasn't very good as a Punisher film, but at least we have this. This is awesome. I've heard a lot of mixed feelings about this. Most people dig it, but some don't. I myself love it. What do you think?


Jack's Back

Directed by: Rowdy Herrington
Category: Thriller

This was one of those films I always remember seeing in the video stores back in the late 80's to early 90's. I never rented it though because I mean, look at that cover. Would you rent it? How can you possibly gauge anything about this film from a picture of a sweaty James Spader?

Well this amazingly became available on Netflix Instant the other day and so I finally got the chance to check this sucker out.

Allow me a moment to blow your mind with a little tidbit of information. This is written and directed by the same guy who directed one of the manliest man films of all time, Roadhouse. I know, I know, I can't believe it either. I actually had no idea myself until recently. I mean, you'd never have guessed it by watching these two films. They couldn't be anymore different, especially when you take into consideration that Roadhouse came out only a year later. I think what surprises me most is how the producers or whoever was responsible for suggesting or hiring a director for Roadhouse saw that Herrington could deliver an authentic piece of Badass Cinema like Roadhouse simply based on this film here. I just don't see it. This is as paint-by-numbers as they come. No style, no substance and completely formulaic to a T. I often times found it extremely lagging and tedious, but because I had waited so many years to finally see it, felt the least I could do was finish it to the end, even though it felt like it was taking way too long to get there.

So what we have here is a pseudo Jack the Ripper tale. Women are being killed in the same manner, in the same order and on the same days as the supposed Jack the Ripper did so many years ago. So much so that the police can predict when the next killing will occur, but not who the victim will be. A local doctor and activist (James Spader) is at first suspected until he too is murdered. The cops soon discover that the doctor has an identical twin brother, and he too becomes suspect. Working with his late brothers coworker (Cynthia Gibb), he works to clear his name and that of his brothers while also trying to uncover the identity of the real copycat killer.

Honestly, I just found this to be so incredibly dull. They offer the usual tricks by making you think that anybody could be the copycat killer, even forcibly making you believe so. But when they finally reveal the real killer at the end, you immediately roll back in your head all the forced assumptions and most of them just don't add up or make any sense. And then, when they do offer the big reveal, it's not a big deal and you really don't care. At least, that's how I felt. The buildup is just not there, and for a thriller, there just aren't any "thrills" or suspense for that matter. James Spader does a fine job playing the Westford twins, as does the decent supporting cast, it's just the lackluster script and direction. This is pure Diret-to-video stuff. Truthfully, I should have known how lame this film was going to be simply by the opening credits song. It was pretty horrible and I should have taken a cue from that. If you can't grab an audience with a decent song or opening credit sequence then how are you going to keep them around for the rest of the film?

I remember as I was watching this realizing how incredibly late it was and all I wanted to do was go to bed. But then that would mean I would have to actually return to this to finish it and that was something I just didn't want to do. I just wanted to be done with it, so I trudged on in my sleepy annoyance. If anything, at least now I can say that I have indeed finally seen it and thank the heavens that writer/director Rowdy Herrington eventually discovered his mojo with films like Roadhouse, Gladiator and Striking Distance. But come on, all he really ever needed to do was make Roadhouse and he's cemented his place in Badass Cinema history forever.



Directed by: Neil Burger
Category: Thriller

Late one night recently I found myself not being able to sleep. Frustrated, I decided to just get up at about 2:30 AM and find something to watch until I dozed off. This was one I had been meaning to visit for a while, but never got around to it. Maybe it was the annoyingly lame title? Or the blah cover art? I don't know. I just never felt the "need" to watch it. So I thought what better time than at 2:30 in the morning? If anything, it should knock me out right? Nope! I enjoyed this one so much that even though I finally started to get sleepy, I just couldn't bring myself to turn it off. I NEEDED to finish it! It was important!

Instead of making me fall asleep, it did the exact opposite and kept me completely engrossed right from the opening frames. Within the first 5 minutes I knew I was in for something special. Director Neil Burger's visuals alone and creative camera work sealed the deal for me. I can't tell you how annoyed I get with all these new filmmakers who get the job of directing any of these new thrillers, but you can't tell any of them apart because they all look and feel the same. Pierre Morel, Olivier Megaton, Jaume Collet-Serra, I'm talking about you guys. Stop shaking the damn camera on purpose!
But I genuinely found this interesting and engaging and most surprising of all, I found it stylishly and inventively directed. My enjoyment of Limitless is/was very high, and I don't now how much of that can be attributed to Bradley Cooper's acting abilities or voice over narration throughout the entire film, but for me it all worked and came together nicely.

Basically, Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a struggling and very poor writer who can't even get past his first page of his novel. Through seemingly divine intervention, he comes across a new designer drug  called NZT that let's you access 100% of your brain, since typically we only really use a tiny fraction of it's resources. This is a huge deal. Suddenly you are remembering things that were stored in your memory years ago for no reason and suddenly you have the ability to absorb all forms of information in every capacity and you're literally a genius, becoming the best possible version of yourself. As a result, Eddie is thrust into the world of high rollers and stock markets, where he catches the eye of big time mogul Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro), who hopes to persuade Eddie to join his camp. This is all a roller coaster ride for Eddie and he's loving every second of it. Only, there are side effects. Side effects that were never mentioned to Eddie beforehand and there are also other people who want there hands on this NZT too. Bad, seedy people who don't take no for an answer.

Ultimately, this ended up being a different kind of film than I was expecting. Based on the lackluster trailers alone, I thought it was going to be about Eddie being some kind of drug dealer who created some kind of wonder drug and people were after him, or something to that effect. Not the case entirely here. What it ends up being about is a guy with confidence issues, emotional issues and worst of all, writers block. You see, he's been hired to write a novel, yet he can't even write down a single line on the first paragraph of the first page, and it's due any day now. He's so unmotivated and so lazy that his girlfriend even dumps him because he's a guy going nowhere. But he comes across this drug (rather randomly too), and the second he takes it, he's a new man. The dreary and gloomy light of his everyday experience has brightened and he's focused, motivated and on a creative high. So much so that he knocks out his first draft within hours and hands it in to his publisher the following morning, to her amazement. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. He soon finds that he's absorbing vast amounts of information from all facets of life and can use this to his advantage in almost every aspect. Before long he's a Wall Street darling, a wonderkid who's taking the financial world by storm, and nothing can stop him. Or so he thinks.

I'm not going to give you "everything" because that would most certainly spoil the experience for you. I was engaged and entertained to the fullest, and you should be too. I do know some that didn't enjoy it as  much as I did, so I'd be interested to get your take on it. I personally found it creatively written and directed, solidly acted by Cooper and company and most importantly, an entertainingly solid thriller.


Comedy Roundup: 21 Jump St., Jack and Jill, Tower Heist

21 Jump Street (2012)
Directed by: Phil Lord / Chris Miller

This was a nice breath of fresh air. I knew it would be good, all the feedback I've gotten back led to this assumption, but I didn't realize it was going to be this good. First off, the comedy is a lot raunchier than I was expecting. Right off the bat, you'll either be delighted or offended, depending on your taste. I loved it. It reminded me a lot of Superbad in many respects. And secondly, I knew Jonah Hill could certainly deliver, but Channing Tatum was the one who really surprised me in this. I've never really warmed up to him yet, and never thought he could really deliver the goods, or have seen anything that proved this. But this is the first time I'd ever seen him so animated and I have to say, in the confines of a raunchy comedy, he was fucking hilarious. Who knew?

I don't know about you, but when I heard they were remaking Fox's classic 21 Jump Street into an action comedy starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, I was scratching my head. But you know what? It works. I hadn't laughed out loud this much from a film in a long time and honestly, that's all that really matters. I don't think they needed to call it 21 Jump Street to be honest, I think they could have given it any other name and it would have still been just as hilarious, but it's all about marketing and with a name that recognizable, it's going to draw in a lot more people into the theater.

For the most part, it's a comedy with bits of action thrown in. The action is alright, nothing impressive, but it's the ridiculous situations they find themselves in and how they ultimately deal with them in there own stupid way that keep you invested. I enjoyed it quite a bit and was just the kind of film I was needing to watch at the time to raise my spirits. Channing Tatum, apparently, can act. Jonah Hill as the straight edge between the two was hilarious. Ice Cube as the stereotypical angry black captain was great. The humor was raunchy as hell. And an awesome cameo at the end sealed the deal for me.

Jack and Jill (2011)
Directed by: Dennis Dugan

Why oh why do studio's keep giving Adam Sandler money to continuously make crap like this. I just want to go on the record as saying that I did not and had no intention of actually ever watching this, but was forced to by my 9 year old son who apparently thinks this is the funniest film he's ever seen. So much so that he got his grandfather to actually buy him the blu-ray of this.

I got nothing against Sandler personally, but it's just these severely mediocre comedies that he co-writes and releases under his Happy Madison banner with all his friends that I just can't get past. They're never very good and retain such a juvenile level of maturity that I just never enjoy them. I think the only one I ever actually liked was Happy Gilmore. For me, that one just seemed to be the best one out of his Happy Madison Productions banner. I thought it was genuinely and consistently funny and I don't know if it was intentional or not, but Carl Weathers steals the show in that one. Oh, and You Don't Mess with the Zohan had it's moments for sure. Most definitely.

Once again Sandler reteams with director Dennis Dugan (who has helmed a lot of his Happy Madison films), and offers yet another uneven, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes weird comedy about twins who don't get along when Jill (Jack's twin sister from the Bronx) comes to visit and stays unexpectedly longer to Jack's dismay. I have to say, the one and only bright spot in this whole experience is the strange casting of Al Pacino (yes, "that" Al Pacino) as an exaggerated version of himself who falls head over heels for Jill to the point of obsessiveness. I actually found it to be brilliant casting because I never in a million years would have imagined Pacino taking on a role like this. He's just so weird in this that you're constantly entertained at how odd he is as himself and how far he goes to win over the affections Adam Sandler, er.......Jill. I just remember constantly thinking "I can't believe he's doing that?!". But seriously, watching Al Pacino is the only highlight.

Is it me or are most of these productions oddly uneven? I feel the same way with a lot of these Madison films, but most recently with Grown Ups. I couldn't tell if it was trying to be a drama, or a comedy, but not done in a clever way where you could actually call it a "dramedy" either. No sir, not with these. And then there's the editing. It always feels like stuff is missing, like whole sections or sequences. I don't know if it's something that happens in the editing process or if it's just oddly written that way. But that's always bothered me about these Sandler/Happy Madison films. They look and feel like they were thrown together so quickly without much thought, planning or preparation. Like it's just an excuse for all these guys to get together again and have fun. And maybe that's all it is?

*Disclaimer: If you actually enjoyed this, don't kick my ass. This is just my opinion. Nothing else.

Tower Heist (2011)
Directed by: Brett Ratner

A lot of people like to hate on Brett Ratner. I'll admit, the guy doesn't really possess a "gift" for filmmaking, but he can make a decent movie from time to time. I thoroughly enjoy the first Rush Hour, and Red Dragon had it's moments. But you can never say "That looks like a Brett Ratner film". He doesn't possess any kind of definable style, much like John Landis, Gary Sherman, Andrew Davis, Herbert Ross, Christopher Cain, Geoff Murphy, etc. His type of filmmaking is just...........there. Nothing stylish or visually impressive. Tower Heist is no exception.

It's an enjoyable ensemble comedy, keeping you fairly engrossed throughout. It's just not "laugh out loud" funny, so don't go in expecting that and you'll be fine. All the players bring there A game, with Alan Alda really getting lots of screen time to shine, which really drives the movie. I don't know if it's his smarmy attitude, or that voice, but there's just something about him and his performance that really pushes this thing a little further and raises the entertainment value for me.  I didn't enjoy it as much as 21 Jump Street, and didn't laugh as much as I did in that one either, but for a lazy Sunday afternoon kinda flick, this one was pretty good. I mean, the cast alone should draw you in. Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Alan Alda, Mathew Broderick, Tea Leoni, Judd Hirsh and Gabourey Sidibe (refreshingly entertaining in a comedy). Hell, even Michael Pena was fun to watch. And I think that's one of Tower Heist's strengths, that there are so many players involved that you never get bored or tired of seeing the same characters. They all have adequate screen time. Sure, the story is ridiculous and full of ridiculously implausible situations and scenarios (too many to name but ultimately get you from point A to point B much faster if you just go with it), but you just have to partly shut your brain off and things will be alright.

I'm not gonna tell you to go rush out and get it, but if you should catch yourself with nothing to watch one day and this is easily and readily at your disposal, I say watch it. Overall it was fun and you won't be sorry. There is one thing that does distract you from time to time though, at least for me anyway. And it's such a small little detail that it's not really worth mentioning because in the end, it doesn't really matter. But all I could think as I watched this was "Wow, Eddie Murphy's getting old".


Recap: Robocop 2

Directed by: Irvin Kershner
Category: Badass Cinema

I originally reviewed this film exactly a year ago today. That knowledge wasn't even in my thought process when I decided to revisit this again the other day. This just happens to be a film I still enjoy quite a bit despite it's many flaws. It's a solid piece of sci-fi 90's action and for that reason alone, I watch it at least once a year as I do many other films. I still feel the same way I did about it when I reviewed it last year, but every viewing always brings up new little issues or significant details that can altar your perspective just a bit. For that reason alone I thought I'd throw in my two cents about something I noticed when recently watching this. It will also be an opportunity to try a new format I'd like to call "Recap", where I revisit films I've already reviewed and maybe want to add something I may have missed or even in some cases, offer a different opinion in short form. So here we go.

I love this film, but I think one of the biggest problems with Robocop 2 is that it's just too ambitious for it's own good, considering the year it was made and how CGI was in it's infancy, which lead them to have to resort to a lot of stop motion work in the end. It looks cool, but you have to wonder what it would have looked like had they made it more recently and what they could have accomplished. If you've never read Frank Miller's Robocop trade paperback, I strongly suggest you do so. It's an insane over the top plethora of action, violence and mayhem. A lot of what ultimately became Robocop 2 is taken right out of that comic, but because of budget reasons there was also a lot that they just couldn't materialize on screen and the stuff that didn't make it onto the screen will literally make your jaw drop. You should definitely check it out. Miller also wrote the screenplay for this (his first), and though it's entertaining for the most part, I think it's the first 30-45 minutes that throw everything off. It doesn't start with a bang, and when OCP and the overzealous Dr. Faxx decide to implement a ridiculous amount of nonsensical directives that he must obey, the film just feels ridiculous. And that was obviously the point, but it just doesn't work. I get Miller's style, I actually love it and it comes across great in his comics, but in a serious sci-fi/action film it just came off as poorly executed at the hands of Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner. Even Robocop's big entrance at the beginning when he emerges from his exploded police cruiser just feels so incredibly flat. As I watch it I see how many things could have been done to make that sequence so much more exciting. Better camera angles. Better music. Better editing. Maybe a nice tracking shot as it closes in on Robo as he emerges from the vehicle? I don't know. And it's not all just Frank Miller's and Irvin Kershner's fault, because there are a lot of hands at play when putting this thing together. I would also have to take issue with the editing. I don't know, it always just feels off throughout the entire film. Nothing ever grabs you and it never really feels exciting. Nothing "wow's" you.

But that's just the beginning. The second Robocop fries himself to get rid of all those ridiculous directives and he becomes his old self, the film definitely kicks into gear and back to a traditional Robocop type film. Not as good as the first of course, but it definitely tries and it's never silly like in that first quarter where it almost seems like it tries too hard to make you laugh. The rest of the film is hard action and violence with Robo trying to take down a drug lord named Cain (Tom Noonon) who's recently been turned into the seemingly unstoppable Robocop 2 by Dr. Faxx.

Impressive stop motion and CGI effects by 1990 standards and a decent amount of action doesn't necessarily make up for the lackluster direction, but it's a decent effort if you can get past the uneven first quarter. It's amazing how much of a different film it becomes after that scene where he fries himself and it shifts and changes pace.

Here's a link to my original review exactly a year ago to the day:


Another 48 Hours

Directed by: Walter Hill
Category: Action / Comedy

Oh man I love me some Walter Hill from time to time. The guy's a genius of Badass Cinema. Hell, just with films like Red Heat and Extreme Prejudice alone, the guy's a certified God in my book. Yet his filmography is so vast with so many more badass films to boot that it's really hard to choose just a few. Yea he's had some misses (which director hasn't), but I'm a big fan of most of it. I love the first 48 Hours, and find myself revisiting both the original and this sequel quite often. But one of the more fascinating things people might not be aware of that Badass Cinema film critic Outlaw Vern states in his review of this film, is that in that first film, there's very little action at all. I don't know if the writers of this sequel took that into consideration when penning this, but Another 48 Hours seems to have a whole lot more of it this time around, more brutal, more stylized and a lot more fun.

This one picks up about 4 years after the events of the first film. Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy) is just about to get out of prison when Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) finds a picture of him on a dead suspect the day before Reggie is supposed to be released, leading Jack to believe that Reggie is headed for assassination. Jack, who's still holding the thousands of dollars that Reggie entrusted to him before he went into prison, has to resort to blackmailing Reggie into helping him solve his case revolving around a figure known as The Ice Man since Reggie is still pissed at Jack for not once visiting him while he was in prison.  Pretty soon Jack's got a hit out for him as well and they soon realize they're in way over there heads.

This time around, Eddie Murphy's got top billing after the massive successes of Beverly Hills Cop 2 and Coming to America, and deservedly so. Though I don't remember this one being as big a hit as the original, but I don't see why it shouldn't be. It has a lot more action than the first, and a much harder edge with director Walter Hill adapting a different style this time around. A style he only used a few times around this period with this film and then with Trespass in 1992 before going back to his signature look. Whether you like or dislike the look is purely based on how nit-picky you are with that shit like me. Some might not even notice it, but I do and for me, I actually enjoyed it in this case. One of the things you'll immediately notice is that the action is much more exaggerated this time around. When someone gets shot, they go flying through a window, or through panes of glass that always seem to be conveniently and strategically placed for a body to go flying through. The motorcycle through the adult movie theater sequence alone is just plain ridiculous, but so much damn fun and wonderfully executed. And that's how most of the many action sequences play out in this one. Over the top and bloody as hell with no sense of reality, which is fine by me. I did feel that some of the comedy elements felt a bit forced and not as natural as the first time around when Murphy was just a newbie, but never enough to bury your face in your palms. And I don't know if it's just me, but Nolte seemed a bit off in this one too. I know the guy has battled alcohol addiction off and on, so I don't know if this was made during one of those episodes or not, but I kept thinking that he just seemed out of it on occasion, like he was actually drunk.

Adding fuel to the fire of awesomeness is screenwriter Jeb Stuart (Die Hard, Leviathan) on writing duties and along with a supporting cast of Badass Cinema character actor regulars like Brion James, Ed O'Ross, Andrew Divoff and Bernie Casey, Another 48 Hours delivers on all fronts. A great fix for your 90's cop/buddy action/comedy blues.


Hollow Man

Directed by: Paul Verhoeven
Category: Thriller

I had only ever seen this once before, when it first came out, and only because the one and only Paul Verhoeven directed it. Otherwise I probably wouldn't have bothered. For no other reason than the trailers didn't really do anything for me.

Verhoeven is an intriguing fellow. For me, he seems to possess two separate styles of filmmaking, and both couldn't look any more different than the other. The different style technique also seems to correlate between the two genre's he's most familiar with, science fiction and thrillers. With the sci-fi genre  (Robocop, Total Recall and Starship Troopers), he uses a specific type of camera, lens and look to those films. Simple, stationary and very effective when shooting action. When he's making films in the thriller genre (Basic Instinct, Showgirls, Hollow Man and Black Book), he uses a different type of camera, lens and with a much more freestyle approach incorporating a lot of steadicam shots that you wouldn't find in his sci-fi films. Less stylized and less in feeling like a Paul Verhoeven film in general. But hey, that's just my opinion. So let's move on.

I must admit, this wasn't nearly as bad or nearly as boring as I thought it'd be. For the most part, it plays really well as a straight up psychological thriller, just with a whole lot of badass special effects work thrown in. Kevin Bacon being cast as the severely conceded Dr. Sebastian Caine is probably the best thing Hollow Man has going for it too. He's utterly brilliant and pure fucking evil as the asshole scientist with a God complex. What I find fascinating is that he's not even listed as the star of this, Elizabeth Shue is, which makes no sense to me at all. This must have been after she won an Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas, because I couldn't possibly imagine how or why Elizabeth Shue gets top billing over Kevin Bacon in a film this big. I mean, Kevin Bacon "is" Hollow Man for Christ's sake!

Basic story goes as follows. Brilliant yet utterly despicable scientist is working on an invisibility serum for the military, fully funded by the government. When he finally figures out the missing piece to the puzzle after years of failure, he decides to hold that bit of info from the backers and decides to test it on himself first before they get there hands on it. He feels that once they get what they want, he and his team of scientists will be of no more use to them and his life long work will be taken away from him. The serum works, and he becomes invisible. At first, it's fun as he teases and taunts his team for kicks. And as expected, there are things not taken into consideration beforehand. Like, if you're invisible, then so are your eyelids, meaning you get no chance to close your eyes. The light hurts, and trying to sleep is virtually impossible unless you completely darken the room. But there are also side effects. The serum seems to make you go slightly insane as each day goes by. For someone as cocky (with an underlying evil waiting to escape) as Sebastian Caine, that's a very bad thing and before long, he's turning into the monster everybody knew he was capable of becoming. As he puts it, when you're invisible, you can get away with anything and nobody can stop you.

Lame marketing campaign and poster work aside, this is a really badass and solid thriller. It's a pretty much nonstop thrill ride from beginning to end with a frenetic pace, never slowing down long enough to bore you. That's a very good thing indeed. Verhoeven knows how to cut out the fluff and get to the meat of the story, and he knows we don't care about some lame romantic subplot or unnecessary backstory, we want to see Caine do some fucked up shit when he's invisible and boy does he ever. I was actually surprised at how far they went with that premise. You know, we all have that fantasy of what we'd do or which girl's bedroom we'd sneak into if we were invisible to see her naked. Only here, they take it so many steps further and in some cases, you're kind of left shocked.

The CGI work in here is also phenomenal. Yea, there are a few scenes here and there that are questionable, but for the most part it's pretty damn impressive. I mean, they go all out for the effects work in here and I don't remember the Oscars for this year, but I wouldn't be surprised if it walked away with awards for the effects work in this. Another aspect that I dearly loved is that when there is any form of violence, no matter how big or small, Verhoeven ups the anty ten fold. This is Verhoeven we're talking about and we know when it comes to onscreen violence, the guy has never let us down and he certainly doesn't here. It's awesome, and bloody, and violent. Just the way we like it.

Kevin Bacon is awesome and brilliant as the evil Sebastian Caine, and Hollow Man is bloody, violent, and goes further than you expect it to go. I woulda preferred Verhoeven's other stylistic camerawork more notable in his science fiction / action films, but that didn't take away from my enjoyment one bit.


Directed by: Jack Sholder
Category: Action

Continuing my late 80's early 90's action kick, next up is Renegades from 1989. Directed by Jack Sholder, who's work on A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 and The Hidden I happen to like very much, Renegades seems to see Sholder faulter slightly from his more stylized approach as in those two previous films, and appears to be the end of his theatrical run as he went right into DTV and television work after this. It's a shame too, because I dig his no fuss straightforward style of filmmaking, especially when action is concerned. I think he just wasn't offered very good scripts, Renegades being one of them.

You know, this one just didn't do it for me. It was okay, but lacked any real or solid entertainment value for me. The action scenes were good, whenever there was one, which was infrequently. And I think that would probably be my biggest complaint, just not nearly enough action. I mean, especially for a movie titled Renegades, you'd think it'd be a tougher film overall. It's not. It's actually pretty tame for the most part, so for me, the title Renegades just feels all wrong for me and I know I can't be the only one who feels the same way. What makes this issue even harder is the fact that Sutherland and Phillips play off each other great. They and director Jack Sholder just seem to suffer from a weak script. It seriously could have been a lot better, a lot more exciting and a lot more violent, but it just all feels so tame. The trailer is so misleading, so don't judge this film by that. They even play "The Boys are Back in Town" (yup, from 48 Hours) in that trailer and it makes it seem like some cop buddy action packed flick and it's not because they took every single best shot from the movie and put it in that trailer.

Kiefer Sutherland was fun to watch as the grumpy undercover cop with an attitude. And Lou Diamond Phillips again delivers after liking him in both The First Power and Extreme Justice, here as a Native American Indian in the wrong place at the wrong time who makes it his duty to reclaim a sacred spear stolen from a museum after his brother is killed trying to protect it from a mob boss during an escape. In certain sequences, Renegades definitely has, or had, the potential to be a pretty badass cop film in the vein of 48 Hours, or any of these late '80's to early '90s cop action flicks. I mean, you've got the main ingredients in two mismatched people, one a cop, the other not, forced to work together to bring down the main villain. But it just doesn't come together so smoothly. The biggest problem with Renegades though is that it just has too many lull moments which slow down the film severely, almost to a crawl in some instances. But when there's a chase, whether it be a foot or car chase, or when something bad is about to happen, like when Sutherland's character is sitting in a bar in the beginning of the movie and see's a cop car pull over a car full of thugs as he looks out the window. You just know something bad is about to happen (he even predicts it to the nice hooker sitting next to him), and it does. Or the diamond heist sequence that Sutherland's undercover cop is a part of that goes horribly wrong. Those are the best sequences of the movie and it's that kind of tension I wish this film had more of, but sadly they are few and far between and for the most part, I found myself looking at the clock wondering how much longer I had to go till it was over.

Not a great film, but not a horrible one either. You could certainly find yourself a better way to spend 106 minutes of your life, but if you're feeling a bit nostalgic, like I was, then it's not too bad. Nowhere near the awesomeness or creativity of films in this genre and during this time like The First PowerBlue SteelBlack Rain or Ricochet, but a noble effort indeed.