Friday, February 27, 2009

Tall Tale (1995)

I don't know what the fuck happens in this movie. Some of it is quasi-dream state, some of it is vague, and some of it is just swashbuckling nonsense. What I do know is that it has two of the most glorious white males still currently in existence. Yes, Swayze and Platt. I think Swayze might actually be a little bit offended to be placed in the same category as Platt, and to be fair, Swayze does rock some pretty awesome stache in Tall Tale, but in the end, Platt is the buffoon. And everyone knows that it's not a family friendly adventure movie without the buffoon! I kept asking myself why anybody is casting Oliver Platt in these aggressive/to-be-feared roles (including Ready to Rumble), but it turns out he's like 6'3" or some ridiculousness. Full of surprises! Well, other than the completely awesome male protagonists (sorry Swayze), there's not much else going on in this movie besides that crazy blue ox that shows up in a couple of scenes (how did they do that?). That is, unless you count the shiny and shirtless John Henry who almost made me cry when he lost to that electric stake driver. Oh the woes of technology! I can totally feel for him. In fact, I love a good ecological word-to-the-wise film (I've been on a Captain Planet binge as well....) and with the techno freaks trying to push out the farmers, Platt moaning about how no one actually cuts down trees with a good ole-fashioned axe anymore and Swayze just twirling that sweet sweet stache, I could really feel a burning passion of some sort rising up. What kind of passion? TBD I guess. So that just leaves me with an absurdly priced film, $32 million to be exact, that could barely rake in a third of that worldwide. Oh well, I guess Disney can't win every time (blasphemy!)

Final Judgment: "This reminds me of those weird big-boxed VHS I find every now and again about families living in trees and talking computers in sneakers or whatever: totally obscure, bound to be lost, and destined to be loved (or is that the facial hair talking?)."

And I've posted the best quotes below:

Daniel Hackett: Pa, Pecos Bill ain't real.
Jonas Hackett: He's out there... where there's still enough elbow room for a man to wander. He's out there... where the land is still young and wild. You don't believe me? I swear to you by the code of the West, Pecos Bill is as real as you and me. Now, you know the Code of the West don't you?
Daniel Hackett: Yeah, Pa, I know.
Jonas Hackett: Respect the land, defend the defenseless and don't never spit in front of women and children.

Daniel Hackett: Who are you?
Pecos Bill: I'm a ring-tailed roarer. I can draw faster, shoot straighter, ride harder and drink longer than any man alive. I ride cyclones and I wrestle...
Daniel Hackett: You got a name, don't you?
Pecos Bill: I'm getting' to that. I'm the rip-snortinest cowboy that ever rode north, south, east or west of the Rio Grande. I'm Pecos Bill.

Pecos Bill: Not as hot as the summer of '88 when the chickens laid fried eggs and the babies cried sawdust.
Paul Bunyan: Does this story have a point or does it go on and on and on like this stinkin' desert?

And my personal favorite....
Pecos Bill: "You sure know a lot for a half-grown piglet."

Words to the wise my friends...

Oh shit! This site is flippin' crazy! Cuck-oo....

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Curve (1998)

Remember that random trend of talking about how if your roommate commits suicide, you get an automatic 4.0 GPA? Well, this is a movie about that. I'm not sure if the cause or the result of said trend, but it certainly picked a pretty poor release year since Dead Man on Campus also came out in 1998. Yes, that's another movie about roommates committing suicide (mostly not of their own accord) with truly tremendous side effects for their academically ambitious cohorts. The Curve actually had to change their original title (Dead Man's Curve) because of the college comedy. And with a $14 million budget, compared to the laughable $1 million that The Curve managed to procure, it's no surprise that nobody's heard of this film. But I'm here to deliver! My parents bought The Curve by accident from a Blockbuster discount bin when I was in high school, primarily because it was lacking a cover and was therefore being sold for the blow-out sum of like $3.99 (oh, how times have changed). I watched this film many a time; I recognized Keri Russell from that girly TV show; I recognized Matthew Lillard from his enviable list of accoladic teenage-movies. But going back and re-watching this film presented new delights due to a recent and memorable run-in with Michael Vartan in the form of Alias, that super hot supernatural spy show with Jennifer Garner. I love it when you go back and gain a new perspective due solely to your knowledge of the actor and their actions (proving once and for all that you can't separate the celebrity from the Hollywood)! This movie is pretty much guilty-pleasure teenage romp and roll, with plenty of twists and turns, deceits and betrayals, deaths and rebirths, and all the insensitive Lillard anyone could ask for (oh how his eyes haunt me!). The Curve is directed by Dan Rosen, this dude who's done basically nothing except for this and The Last Supper, another movie I saw entirely by accident and in Spanish (it was a lonely night in a Quito hotel...). All in all, not quite forgettable.

Final Judgment: "Epic nineties meets the college thriller!/Once again, Matthew Lillard makes or breaks!

Hey look: it's online!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Fire Upon the Deep (1992)

Yes, it's that time again. I have finished another book and decided to express its greatness in the forum of this blog. An amazing novel by the contemporary science-fiction great, Vernor Vinge, this book takes place after "A Deepness in the Sky" in the same Universe. Basically, lots of really crazy concepts, including Medieval pack-mind conscious Canidae and skroderiders, or kelp on wheels. And the list goes on. It's hard to explain the absolute godliness of a book like this, so I can only hope you believe me. The detail is incredible, the ideas are literally out of this world, and yet it's still familiar enough to provoke some pretty serious pondering. Well, for me at least, any book that uses terms like the Singularity, the Slow Zone, the Beyond, Godshatter, the Transcend and the Unthinking Depths is bound to rouse my curiosity. Ahh the Singularity, so many times you invade my bubble of existence! Or as they say, once you are looking for something, you see it everywhere.

Final Judgment: "If the Hugo and Nebula Awards aren't convincing enough, trust the mad computer-scientist mathematician and his cannon-firing dogs!"

PS. Did you know that Spencer actually works with the son of the Singularity founder?
Crazy cool, huh!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Stargate (1994)

Well, before I even get started, let me clarify that the movie came long before the television show, so in case you were harboring any doubts because you've seen that ridiculous piece of foolishness, please, place them aside delicately. No, no, this movie is clearly a work of sheer genius. Written and directed by the man who has worked on some of the most iconic sci-fi of our generation (Universal Soldier, Independence Day, etc.!), this movie is vastly superior to almost any other sci-fi that came out of the 90s. And while some deem it blasphemy, I hesitate only slightly before saying that it is reminiscent of Star Wars (you know, the good ones), and we all know that's a pretty lofty statement these days. It's the effects. They're just so amazing! It's like they actually put effort into making a movie that looked good! And I know that you may be skeptical of a comparison to technology and cinematic feats from 20 years earlier, but hey, I don't care how fucking old it is if it looks awesome. The sets are really nice as well. It seems 3-dimensional, like they actually bothered to build real buildings. And there are creatures! Totally bizarro, animatronic aliens with roiling eyes and slobber galore. There are also crazy aliens from another part of the Universe, dressed up in fancy clothes with CGI helmets in the shape of cobra heads and all the androgenous, scantily-clad youth a power-monger could hope for. If you don't believe me about all this goodness, just watch the trailer. Actually, the head alien got his film break in The Crying Game, where they totally just used him for his on-screen tranny nudity. But the film actually won a shit-load of awards, and this dude was offered the head androgenous alien part, and apparently he requested a million dollars because he thought they would never give it to him, but they did! And then he retired! What a sweet deal! So: tranny aliens, foreign languages, nerdy archaeologists, cross-cultural confusion, nuclear weapons, religious revolts, political piracy, and all that awesomeness before we even get to Kurt Russell! Yes, Kurt fucking Russell! He's the glory of all things godly, and seeing The Snake in his native desert and desert fatigues can truly make any doomed day seem delectably delightful. And, for the nerdy cherry on top: this movie was the first one to have an official website. Yes, the first one. Wowzah! It's really no wonder it sparked a chain reaction of science-fiction nerdiness that would eventually degenerate to the point of giving all us legitimate science-fiction intellectuals a bad rap. But I guess that's always the case. The only bad thing about this movie is that it debuts the squinty and always complaining French Stewart. And no, he's not one of the aliens. But other than that, it's seriously top notch. Don't think I'm kidding around; it's not often you come across science-fiction that's not ironic but is still good. I mean, think about it. How many can you name? And I guess it paid off since this movie made a cool $200 million in theaters alone. Shazam! I don't know how many people have seen it since then though, so I just thought I'd remind you awesome and truly iconic this piece of cult-culture is. And the theme song is just so fucking classic (the end is the best! or...if you're feeling desperate...)!

I guess Ebert (once again) says it best:
""Stargate" is like a film school exercise. Assignment: Conceive of the weirdest plot you can think of, and reduce it as quickly as possible to action movie cliches. If possible, include sun god Ra, and make sure something gets blowed up real good."

Damn straight.

Final Judgment: "Stay away from the fan-sites, but pay homage to the vision!/Kurt Russell's hardened warrior type is to melt for!/A perfectly scrumptious melding of Star Wars, Indiana Jones and The Mummy that brings glory to the action sci-fi genre!/Kurt Russell finally shows that he's in Harrison's league!

And just to be clear, I don't give a shit who came up the fucking idea; all I care about is the final product. And it's glorious.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Relic (1997)

Mwahahaha. All systems go for a crazy creature-feature! And this one brought to you by none-other then (yes, I know, I just learned his name too...) the mastermind behind the special effects of every serious CF in the known 'verse, including but not limited to (drum roll please): Aliens, Leviathan, Predator, Predator 2, Congo, Lake Placid, End of Days, Jurassic Park, etc. etc. etc. And here he has struck again. "But wait," you say, "this doesn't seem like a big budget bastard like those other films." Prepare to be stunned: this film actually cost a whopping $40 million, and trust me, for a film made in the 90's where the only pseudo-recognizable actor is Tom Sizemore, that's pretty fucking huge. Fed to the creature, no doubt. And that's the best part: filming was delayed because the creature wasn't ready. They didn't even include the monster until the last half of the film because they didn't actually have it! Talk about cutting it close! And they still released late! But in this case, it's almost worth it. For once, there's a serious and somewhat tumultuous buildup with something actually worth waiting for at the other end. Hallelujah! And let me tell, the creature is fucking radd. It has scary teeth and realistic movements. Super better than Congo if I do say so myself. And the movie is totally self-contained. A few stereotypes of Amazonians and anthropologists? Yes. A few far-fetched biology concepts? You betcha. But overall, you've got several of my favorite things: shamans, fungi, and bad-ass mother-fucking monsters! Check, check and check. And it's set in a museum! Based on the techno-thriller novel written in 1995, this fabulous creature-feature is helmed by the clearly underrated Peter Hyams, of Outland, Timecop and End of Days fame, all of which are movies I'm proud to have in my collection. I admit, I put this movie off because it looked like a flat-lining horror film. And I guess it kind of was. But it was also super awesome and ultimately worth the slow developments. And you have to give some credit for the realistic, albeit completely impossible to see, lighting. It's the monster that counts!

Final Judgment: "A Crichtonian-influenced masterpiece of special effects and museum oddities!/Probably the most significant thing Tom Sizemore has ever done with his life!/Gnashing teeth, buckets of blood and a mutated anthropologist = great viewing!"

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Ready to Rumble (2000) - Man, is this one a stinker. Not surprising since it comes from the director of Good Burger, Varsity Blues, Hard Ball, Norbit and Meet Dave. Wowzah, is that a stellar rep of disaster films (no, not with tornadoes) if I've ever seen one. This guy deserves some sort of medal! Well he's done it again with Ready to Rumble. With extensive amounts of red-neck, wrestler, toilet humor, about the only thing awesome about this movie is the fact that the great Oliver Platt stars as a washed up wrestler fighting to regain his crown. And they spent every penny they had hiding that fact on the cover! I guess it makes sense since everyone is chiming in unison: "What were they thinking?!" Also starring David Arquette, Scott Caan, Rose McGowan, Martin Landau and a shit-load of real life wrestlers, this clearly pathetic film was lambasted in every potential audience group and barely managed to recoup half of it's $24 million budget. And if you need further proof, just check out some of the quotes listed. Kevin Smith so wishes he made this film. And now, let us "rejoice with the King in his motorcastle!"

Batman Returns (1992) - Another glorious epic by Tim Burton, it has all the characteristics of his early masterpieces: dark and demented sets, a sense of the outrageously cartoon, and men in makeup. While I do agree that Burton's work has declined steadily with time/output, there is also no denying that a) Michelle Pfeiffer looks super hot in leather and b) this Batman movie has clearly influenced our generation with its Gothic gawdyiness. In essence, everything I expect from a Batman movie (Bale, you're a fucking amateur!). For a good time, check out the pretty seriously scintillating trivia facts. Yay for Burton's Batman!

Wild Wild West (1999) - From the director of The Addams Family and the Men in Blacks, this movie is big budget, big stars, big audience, and for most people, a big failure. Definitely a mix between MIB and that shitty version of Around the World in 80 Days with Jackie Chan, it's hard not to have appreciation for the light-hearted, yet still tittilicious, action comedy with a touch of mechanistic sci-fi (right?). I've always had a soft-spot for the family friendly essence of Will Smith, and seeing him ride a giant arachnoid android doesn't hurt. I mean, everybody loves Will Smith! But why in the world did they think that a $170 million budget for a film set in the costumey world of the old west, yet filled with contraptions and gadgets, would be a good plan? Works for me I guess! Salma's boobies will save the world!
PS. Why is it that actors always think their greatest movies are shit?: Will Smith thinks this movie was the worst decision of his life, most likely because he turned down the part of Neo in The Matrix for this hot mess. Whoops!
PPS. The music video is super-hot!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Half Past Dead (2002)

Poor, poor Steven Seagal. He's just trying so desperately to remain relevant. I guess he figured that a hip movie with rap stars and multi-racial prison convicts could keephim in the youthful limelight. But let's face it, if Seagal and Dinofrio wrestled in gravy, it would be a veritable Christmas feast! A turkey and a porker! Someone seems to think a little more highly of Seagal's timeless beauty and steadfast clinging to his iconic ponytail, because whatever bozo wrote the imdb mini-bio on him is practically cumming all over the blogging page. Written by the clearly creepy, demented or pathetically pony-tail wearing firehouse44 (?), the bio starts with, "Steven Seagal is a striking and somewhat boyishly handsome looking (often with ponytail) and usually impeccably dressed action star who burst onto the martial arts film scene in 1988..." and continues to yank the weasel from there. Maybe it's the lighting?... Anyway, this amazing film of greatness clearly represents a culmination of expert martial arts fighting and gorgeous Italian designery jailhouse outfits, like everything Seagal is in. I may be being slightly facetious. Seagal even managed to bring in some his epic Eastern enlightenment to this violence-based shit-show! There are lots of explosions though, that's for sure. I was actually extremely impressed to see a budget of $14 million when I was low balling at $30. They had tons of giant fireballs and grenades and missiles and crashing helicopters and all sorts of shit! They probably just paid the cast in Hot Topic gift certificates and all you can eat rib buffets. Okay, maybe that's a little harsh. Actually called The Rock when the script was first written, and also set on Alcatraz, it's nothing new and definitely something borrowed (there's even a revealed treasure location!; are these the same movie?). Luckily, those things include gratuitous violence, senseless murder, vicious little Latinos, and literal lessons in Ebonics. And the soundtrack is bangin'! Man oh man.

I deem it: "A poor man's The Rock for an angry teenage audience/Seagal's pudgiest work yet!/Rewatchably decent action!/Proving that fire makes everything better!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Three Kings (1999)

It is certainly a rare thing to see a seriously themed movie go up on my site, and an even rarer thing to see a politically charged war film. But this one, I'm proud to say, clearly makes the cut. What is it that makes this mongrel movie stand out from so many others? Well, quite a few things actually. I'm a big fan of rawness, especially in the cinematic capacity, and rawness abounds in Three Kings. First of all, there was a literal convoy of controversy surrounding the film, including everything from Ridley the Writer suing for credit to having George Clooney, primarily a television actor at this point in time, doing a song and dance on the doorstep of the director in a last ditch effort to get the job. Not to mention that Russell (the director) was getting into schoolyard scraps with the studio (mostly about the budget, the violence, the political satire, the actors, and the development techniques) and the cast and crew (many reports of anger and assault [ and peppered with punches?]). So here we have a tremendously hectic environment, with less than 3 months to shoot, and everyone getting ansy about having a previously comedic and independent director having control over a $42 million war movie budget and a hodge-podge group of B-list comedians (if you can even call them that: Jamie Kennedy, Spike Jonze, Ice Cube, Mark Wahlberg, and Nora Dunn). For more realism, Russell added in a war documentarian, a bitchin' composer (yay for world music!), a series of effects to make the film seem more like wartime than action-time (he even had to throw in a disclosure for all those military and maritime hicks who just thought there was something wrong with their gosh-damned new-fangled DVD machine), and a shit-load of real-life Iraqi refugees, some of whom had been stripped of appendages by none other than Saddam himself (a shout-out to eyepatch dude!). Wahlberg even volunteered to have himself electrocuted to "get in character." Now that's some fucking dedication. And it shows, it really does. Maybe it's because Russell shared a composer with the Coen brothers or just because he stood by Jonze while he was in the midst of directing Being John Malkovich, but there's a seriously dark comedy side to this film, with maps up asses, pumping guns in front of American flags, exploding cows and footballs, and a scintillatingly scandalous look at our troops behind the scenes of the Gulf War. Think Easy Rider meets Fargo and O'Brother. And somehow with Ice Cube in it. But don't diss the players, because the acting is pretty legit. The sets are real. The propoganda is real. The refugees are real (although I was a little startled to see a only partially Iraqi Maeby [of Arrested Development fame] being paraded around in my face as the tear-jerking freckled child). The whole thing just seems real (ok, except for those later-to-be- stolen-by-CSI internal organ shots). But not in that 'I have to go cry' sort of way, thank the lords. And all done with a touch of morality! I guess old uncle Ebert says it best by calling it a, "weird masterpiece, a screw-loose war picture that sends action and humor crashing head-on into each other and spinning off into political anger." Yep, that's about right. And the trailer's a decent enough, albeit sanitized, summary.

Final Judgment: "Dark and demented, delirious and delicate/Riddled with gunshots and grievances/A masterpiece of conflicting opinions/Probably the only war movie (besides Strangelove of course!) you'll ever see up on my site...And it's shot well? What more can you ask for!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

My Science Project (1985)

I don't know if it's because the piece of glory known as My Science Project and the piece of glory known as "Tesla" were released into the world in the same year or whatever, but this film hits me in a special tingly place. I might even venture to say that it's in my Top 10 list, and trust me, that is no easy feat! I shudder at the mere thought of picking 10 lonely movies to be the most intense, memorable and ultimately life-changing events in my cinematic/ entertainment existence, but I know that this one clearly stands apart from the billions and billions of other movies that I watch each year. Is it the Hopper? A definite possibility. His radical honky-hating, oxygen-snuffing, time-traveling character certainly serves to solidify his place in my Hall of Awesomeness. And he does deliver many of the most memorable quotes of the film ("The future is a groove man, I made sure of that; it's a funky valley high!"). But Hopper alone is not always enough to catapult a film to greatness (eg. Swing Vote). Here, he is joined by the motliest of crews, including a hick in a plaid shirt with the sleeves ripped off who is known exclusively for his love of cars, a glasses wearing nerdette who works at the school paper and has to beg for a date, and the wisecracking greasy Italiano with a heavy Bronx accent, slicked back hair, tight jeans and a serious sexism problem (oh shit!: Hopper and Stevens together again?; their combined craziness made both this and Super Mario Bros.!!). And don't forget the evil nerd who is only looking to get those meatheads in trouble and has his finest hour when he riddles the school scoreboard with bullets from his automatic weapon (hey, it's the 80's!). All in all, we're talking a bunch of uglies. Like super ugly. Luckily, this is a comedy, and everyone knows that comedians like to be ugly. But there is one crucial element that truly makes the movie. Why, that's the wacky alien device (I guess electric globes were harder to come by in the 80's!) that blends the space-time continuum, thereby sending Dennis Hopper on the greatest trip of his life, and simultaneously sending the kids on the scariest and most stereotyped journey in their short histories, of course. You gotta love a movie with Neanderthals fighting side by side with Roman soldiers and post-apocalyptic mutants (right?)! And don't forget the claymation T-Rex! But, unlike other viewers, I don't merely "recommend it for a boy child." I ask again: what kind of world is this where I am the only person on facebook with this movie listed in their favorites section!?? How is that possible?? Seriously, how could anyone not think this movie was mind-alteringly awesome? I mean, I got high just from watching this clip!

I deem it: "The greatest thing to happen to the greatest genre and the greatest actor ever!/Long live the Hopper!/Neanderthals, mutants, and Viet Cong: oh my!/A miracle of unmatched magnitudes that thrives on the edge of 80's PC (yes, that's PC, not VC!)/This is a script you'll never forget!