90's Action Attack!: Money Train (1995)

A Blast From Start To Finish And A Far More Badass Action Flick Then It Gets Credit For

by robotGEEK

Well this was one helluva surprise. I hadn't seen this or even thought of it in well over 20 years, and when I recently made a post on Instagram about some other film (I don't remember which one), a good friend of mine suggested I revisit this one, and wouldn't you know, not even a week later it was added to HBO Max's library. How perfect and serendipitous?!

I decided to throw this on on a Saturday night and honestly, it couldn't have been a more perfect Saturday night flick to be honest. One thing that I noticed right off the bat is that this is a much better and stronger film all around than I was expecting. I guess my memory of this was that it was more of a comedy, and while yes, it is quite hilarious, it's actually a pretty kickass straight-up 90's action gem that delivers everything in spades, from the aesthetics, to the insane and highly impressive stunts, to the model miniatures and of course, the action and comedy. I really don't like using the word comedy because I feel it takes away from the overall vibe of the film being a total blast as an action film. And maybe I'm not alone in thinking that? I mean, why doesn't anybody ever talk about this? Maybe people aren't even aware that it's more of a balls-to-the-wall action flick than an action/comedy? If that's the case, you need to fix that pronto because Money Train kicks an insane amount of ass. 

Wesley and Woody are such an infectious duo, and their chemistry is undeniable. I thought that White Men Can't Jump was their only other collaboration, but someone pointed out that they've actually been in a few other films together, which I was completely unaware of. I think the 80's football comedy Wildcats is one of them. And here, they play off each other so comfortably well that I'm surprised they didn't co-star in more films together. You've also got a fresh-faced and insanely hot Jennifer Lopez as the new partner/love interest, and one helluva devilish performance from Robert Blake as the asshole boss of the transit authority. He's not really the villain, but damn if he doesn't come across as it. 

While I was watching this that Saturday night just completely enthralled by it all, I posted a clip of a scene where Snipes kicks the living shit out of 2 guys using his martial arts skills, and that little clip got so much response. For starters, people were tripping that there were even fights like that in the film, and secondly, that they looked so damn brutal. Yes, Money Train is full of kickass hand-to-hand fights, chases, shootouts and there's even a subplot about a serial killer who goes around killing transit booth employees by lighting them on fire. I'm telling you, this film never skipped a beat, and is just a nonstop thrill-ride from start to finish. Another solid point that a few people made based on that clip was remembering how badass Snipes was once upon a time. Obviously it's hard to separate the guy from his personal shit, his reputation of being difficult, his prison stint on tax charges of all things, and his lack of quality roles since the early 2000's, but man. He sure as hell had a great run as an action lead in the 90's. As we speak, I'm currently revisiting the excellent Passenger 57 (his first action hero lead) as well thanks to TubiTV. He was such a badass. I will say though, he was the best thing about the new Coming 2 America if I'm to be completely honest. I know that film has people pretty divided in general (full disclosure: I actually enjoyed it once I stopped trying to compare it to the original. I feel it works better as a drama rather than a comedy), but Snipes sure steals the show in every scene he was in. 

Money Train is an absolute blast from start to finish. Maybe it's the title, or the fact that it reteams Wesley and Woody, who previously starred in a comedy together, or that it was marketed as an action/comedy (which is technically is), but goddamn it's a great action film through and through and it really needs to be recognized as one. I feel it's slipped under the radar for a lot of people, or those who have seen it don't remember it being this badass.... like me! Whatever the case may be, Money Train needs to be revisited with fresh eyes and celebrated for being a pitch perfect Saturday Night action flick. Never a dull moment, and director Joseph Ruben (The Stepfather) handles the visuals, action set pieces and frantic pace like an action pro. I'm SHOCKED he never directed more action films like this, because not only was it a damn good looking action film, full of that amazing 90's aesthetic that makes these films so recognizable, and memorable, but it was also effortlessly hilarious without feeling forced. In short, Money Train rules. 

Money Train is currently streaming in HD on HBO Max


90's Action Attack!: A Lowdown Dirty Shame (1994)

A Lowdown Dirty Shame Of A Missed Opportunity

by robotGEEK

Full disclosure. I was very excited to see this. It's a film I have seen before, but remember nothing about. And as I'm knee-deep in the thick of a 90's binge, I suddenly remembered this little-talked about entry from Keenan Ivory Wayans, who while primarily a comedy director, tried his hand at action for a very brief period in the 90's, only to go back to directing comedy. 

I really wanted to love this. On the surface, it should all work, especially since Wayans proved his love for Blaxploitation with his previous directing gig I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, a hilarious love letter to the genre. Yet I didn't find that it all quite worked here. I didn't find it funny enough when it was trying to be funny (often times coming off as painfully forced), and the action never really hit as hard as it should have. There were some great setups for sure, but I don't think he's a strong enough director to handle the action unfortunately. It all comes across as a bit ham-fisted and surprisingly dull. But that's just my opinion. I know there are those out there that do like this movie. I just wish I was one of them. 

I had forgotten Jada Pinkett-Smith was in this, and it's kind of bizarre to see her play this kind of character when she's turned into such a poised and serious person as she's gotten older. Here she plays sassy like nobody's business, and while I did find it cute mostly, it can also be incredibly annoying at times. Wayans, for his part, does a serviceable job in the lead. Not entirely memorable, but not terrible either, which is partly why you probably don't see much of him in acting roles outside of the ones he writes for himself, The Glimmer Man notwithstanding. He was pretty good in that. I haven't seen Most Wanted (which he wrote) yet though, so I'm excited to dig into that one soon. 

I hate to sound so harsh, but I really was looking forward to this and honesty, I just couldn't get past the feeling that it should have been so much cooler. I could easily see this turned into a franchise, which would have been great, but it just all feels a bit flat, and that's such a shame. I mean, you don't hear people ever talking about this one, and for good reason. I feel in the hands of the right director, who could handle the action set pieces a lot better, and who was experienced enough as a filmmaker to make tough decisions in certain areas, like cutting out some of the comedy that just didn't work, and a much better soundtrack than what we were given, it could have worked really well. The opening credits are badass, and gives you a sort of false hope that it's going to be a slick homage to 70's Blaxploitation, because it definitely looked it. But that was really the only time I ever got that vibe sadly. 


Early 90's Swamp Thing TV Series Streaming For FREE!

The Early 90's Cult Classic Returns For A Whole New Audience

by robotGEEK

That's right! The original television series from 1990 is streaming for FREE on the ever-glorious TubiTV app. I swear, just when I think they can't get anymore amazing, I find some more gems on there and my "watchlist" just gets bigger and bigger. 

While I adore the 2 Swamp Thing films we got, the Wes Craven original and the Jim Wynorski directed and incredibly campy sequel, I never got around to anything related to Swamp Thing outside of those 2 films. Not the comics (which I hear are fantastic, especially Alan Moore's run), the toyline, the cartoon and neither of the live-action TV series, which includes this series, which ran for 3 seasons from 1990-1993, or the recent CW reboot that only lasted a single season before being unceremoniously cancelled with no clear reason. 

I'm really looking forward to getting to finally check this out, which is even more fitting given the fact that I haven't watched the new cancelled TV series yet, even though I bought it on DVD as soon as it came out. So it would be nice to start with this version first, before diving into the reboot. 

I would also like to mention that while I haven't yet seen this iteration of the character, I am a huge fan of comic book properties being developed into TV shows and movies from this era. I know I'm in the minority on this one, but hell, I just love the low-budget Marvel shit from this very period, like The Punisher (1989), Roger Corman's Unreleased Fantastic Four (1994) and Captain America (1990) movies, as well as The Flash (1990) * I know The Flash is DC, but you get my point* live-action series and The Incredible Hulk TV Movies. That She Hulk movie starring Brigitte Nielsen that writer/director Larry Cohen was supposed to do around this time would have been a winner too I'm sure.

Just in case you weren't aware, TubiTV is a FREE app found on most Smart TV's and Streaming devices like Roku. You have to watch commercials, but that's a small price to pay for hard to find movies and shows, most of which are in HD. Like any other streaming app, their selection changes month to month so it's always a good idea to watch something soon once you find it. I believe you can also go directly to their website TubiTV.com, and create a free account and watch all of their content on your computer or device.

robotGEEK out...


80's Thriller Throwback: Less Than Zero (1987)


by robotGEEK

Goddamn. How have I never seen this before? It’s like an 80’s neon-drenched fever dream that’s shot like a music video, and I couldn’t get enough of it! There’s this constant sense of foreboding dread mixed with this almost parody-style look at 80’s excess to the max in this elitist world of the rich in California. Robert Downey Jr. was fantastic, and if he didn’t get an Oscar nomination for this, he should have. How surreal how his character in this film would ultimately mirror his own real-life struggles shortly after. 

It blows my mind that up until this point, Downey Jr. was mostly known as the comedic sidekick in some classics like Weird Science, Tuff Turf and Back to School. In fact, when I think of him, this is the era my brain automatically goes to, the 80's comedies, because that is what I grew up on. Where the hell did he pull this powerhouse performance out of??? 

Going in, I was not aware this was based on a Bret Easton Ellis novel, so that was another surprise. And Marek Kanievska, mostly known for doing television work up until this point, does an absolutely outstanding job in the directors chair with his second theatrical release. As slick, stylish and professional as it all is, it still carries this intense look, feel and vibe of an MTV music video, which is both fascinating and amazing. 

A warning though. It is sometimes tough to watch and is a bit all too real for those who suffer from drug addiction, or know someone, whether a close friend, loved one or family member, who does. I can see how this could trigger some people because it's incredibly on point in it's depiction of addiction and how it affects those around them. It's also incredibly dramatic, but in a fundamentally important way. 

I. Loved. This. 

Last I checked, it was streaming on HBO Max. 


Book Recommendation: A Kind of Magic: Making the Original Highlander


by robotGEEK

My favorite kinds of books to read these days are books about the making of a movie, and this one hit all the right notes for me. Released in November of last year, author Jonathan Melville takes us on a journey through the entire process of making that landmark cult classic, from the initial concept, through it's many rewrites, to hiring legendary music video director Russell Mulcahy, to the casting of a then unknown Christopher Lambert. There is so much to devour here and it's a lot to take in. In a good way. 

Via Amazon:

The story of an immortal Scottish warrior battling evil down through the centuries, Highlander fused a high-concept idea with the kinetic energy of a pop promo pioneer and Queen’s explosive soundtrack to become a cult classic.

When two American producers took a chance on a college student’s script, they set in motion a chain of events involving an imploding British film studio, an experimental music video director still finding his filmmaking feet, a former James Bond with a spiralling salary, and the unexpected arrival of low-budget production company, Cannon Films.

Author Jonathan Melville looks back at the creation of Highlander with the help of more than 60 cast and crew, including stars Christopher Lambert and Clancy Brown, as they talk candidly about the gruelling shoot that took them from the back alleys of London, to the far reaches of the Scottish Highlands, and onto the mean streets of 1980s New York City.

With insights from Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor on the film’s iconic music, exclusive screenwriter commentary on unmade scripts, never-before-seen photos from private collections, and a glimpse into the promotional campaign that never was, if there can be only one book on Highlander then this is it!

As big as this film is to this day, I'm a bit surprised they haven't yet made a full-length documentary on the subject, but as we just passed the film's 35th Anniversary this past March, what better way than to dig into this incredibly insightful book that delivers a plethora of valuable information regarding all things Highlander. And you're sure to learn a number of facts that you weren't aware of before. I know I sure as hell did. Like that fact that Lambert didn't speak a word of English (according to the book) when cast in his career-defining role as Connor MacLeod, or that Clancy Brown was only 25 years old when he was cast as The Kurgan, based on his previous performance as Viktor in the Frankenstein film The Bride the previous year. Also interesting to learn is that Clancy Brown has very strong feelings about his experience making this film, and because of those feelings, has been hesitant to revisit or even discuss the film, even avoiding conventions. A great book all around and a highly entertaining read. 

You can order A Kind of Magic: Making the Original Highlander from Amazon for under $15 HERE


Review: Godzilla vs. Kong

Sci-Fi Nerds Rejoice!!! 

by robotGEEK

Loved, loved, LOVED THIS!!
There is so much I want to say, but I'll try to keep it short. But it will be so hard, because this was fucking awesome! Firstly, this was filled with so many surprises, not least of which was the much stronger sci-fi element this time around. I was not expecting that. And not just regular sci-fi, but TRON-INSPIRED SCI-FI! What the what?! This was like a sci-fi nerds (🙋‍♂️) neon-drenched wet dream! And a synth score?! It was all too much for my nerdy brain! 😭
I've seen people complain that they thought there wasn't enough Godzilla vs Kong fighting. I counted 4 giant battles, and that's not even including the other sequences of mass destruction and carnage between fights. That's a lot of destruction for a 113 minute movie. And besides, we need the human element to break up the action, or we'd be exhausted. Yea the movie is implausible and ridiculous, but so what? It's fun, stylish and literally delivers on the hype. It's a giant monster movie people. I can pick it apart if I wanted to, but who "wants" to? Unless you just don't enjoy fun movies. It's big, loud, fun and created a world I really was not expecting to enjoy as much as I ultimately did.
Speaking of which, let's talk about the CGI for a quick second. One of the things that turns me off about these big budget films is how poorly they handle the CGI. The last film was nauseating as it felt like a big giant video game. Just because you can zoom the image in and out and swing it around all over the place doesn't mean you have to. It's like they have this amazing tool, and always seem to go in the wrong direction with it. The guy who directed Kong: Skull Island (Jordan Vogt-Roberts) did it right, and better than any director has done so far with these, and that's probably why Kong: Skull Island is still my favorite of all these new films. But here it seems director Adam Wingard (The Guest) took inspiration from Skull Island in not only delivering some stunning visuals/camerawork, but in shooting the action in a way that you can actually see what's happening without getting nauseous, on top of grappling the whole concept of integrating live action with CGI in a way that doesn't look like you're watching Sin City or 300.
This MUST be seen on the big screen. It's something I will correct the first chance I get. It's a big budget spectacle at it's finest, and the trailers did not do it justice. All of my favorite parts were things "not" shown in the trailers, which ultimately gave me lots of joy since I was going in expecting more of the same with 2019's King of the Monsters, but instead got so...much...more.


The 'Airport' Disaster Flicks Hit TubiTV for FREE!

The 70's Disaster Craze Hits TubiTV!

by robotGEEK

 For those of you who enjoy some classic big budget Disaster Flicks, TubiTV just added all of the Airport films to their streaming site. That includes Airport (1970), Airport 1975 (1974), Airport '77 (1977) and The Concorde...Airport '79 (1979). The 70's were THE decade for disaster flicks, spewing out star-studded classics left and right, such as The Towering Inferno (the crowning achievement), and Earthquake (also on TubiTV for FREE).  

I never got around to the Airport films, but I've been meaning to because I'm a sucker for good ol' fashioned 70's disaster flicks, so this is excellent news. I doubt they're all going to be stellar, but I won't know until I actually watch them. Not sure how long they're available on there, but to my knowledge, they were only barely added so we probably have a good amount of time to get through them before they're taken off. 

As you know, TubiTV offers great content for FREE, but you have to watch commercials. That's a small price to pay for such great, quality content for FREE. In HD no less. ENJOY!