Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The 2008 List

  1. In Bruges
  2. The Bank Job
  3. The Forbidden Kingdom
  4. Cloverfield
  5. Street Kings
  6. Semi-Pro
  7. Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
  8. Vantage Point
  9. Jumper
  10. Rambo

10,000. 10,000 B.C.

Sorry, there are just some movies that I cannot put in the top 10 even if I have seen less than 10 movies. I'm fairly certain that as time goes on I will actually see good movies again. It is scary right now but hopefully Iron Man rights this sinking ship of a year.

I may not do this at the end of each month. I'm think of waiting until the end of summer so I can have time to digest all of the blockbuster before I start throwing around rankings. We'll see how it goes.

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

Did you enjoy Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle? Do you want to see the same exact movie again? Yes?!?! Really? Well now you have Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay giving you the opportunity to see the different versions of jokes that may or may not have been funny the first time around. Hooray!

Remember when those 2 hot chicks were taking a crap in the first movie? Well the first joke of this movie is Kumar on the toilet. See the funny? How about Christopher Meloni’s crazy bastard in the first movie this time around not only does Meloni return as a Klan member but we also have Harold & Kumar staying with a wacky redneck family with an inbred child. See how they twisted that around? Of course Doogie shows up again and does the same exact thing, but that’s still good so I’m not complaining. There just wasn’t much originality here.

There were still enough jokes that hit that I can’t get too annoyed. The image of Harold in college with the Flock of Seagulls haircut was enough for the price of admission. They even made a Sloth reference during the scene with the inbred cyclops, which made my day. And as I already mentioned, all of the Neil Patrick Harris stuff was great. Especially when he was tripping on shrooms. Last of all, I have no idea how they pulled it off but the scene with George Bush impersonator didn’t suck. For the second movie in a row, there needed to be more David Krumholtz and Eddie Kaye Thomas. Maybe one day.

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay could have been awful, and at times it was, but there was just enough here to keep me amused. Barely. Man 2008 is just sucking the life out me.

5 out of 10

Street Kings

Maybe if the first few months of the year hadn’t been so godawful I would have shit all over Street Kings. But since 2008 has been complete ass, I actually enjoyed Street Kings in some sick perverse way. It is derivative and full of itself, but what the hell it had Forest and House playing well below their pay-grade and fun people like Common and Jay Mohr just popping up.

Its funny that this movie is looked at negatively because it is similar to Training Day. The director, David Ayer, wrote freaking Training Day. So Street Kings is just like it except much much worse in every conceivable fashion. There was not a single improvement made on the original. You can’t swap Denzel for Keanu and Ethan Hawke for Chris Evans; that is highway robbery. Then again the story does veer off in enough different directions that it is not a complete rip-off. Forest and Hugh Laurie’s characters alter the storyline enough and Keanu is not as bad a man as Denzel so there you go. It was hilarious how the ending made it seem like there are more stories to tell in the Street Kings universe. Really? Why? What did I do wrong?

The casting of this movie is what sold it for me. I may have low expectation for Keanu Reeves, but that doesn’t stop me from paying to see his movies. The man has been 25 years old for the last 2 decades. He is completely unbelievable as some war worn vet cop who has seen too much. Let alone showing some youngster the ropes. I’m a little worried about Forrest Whitaker since he seems too comfortable pulling out the Idi Amin performance when he feels its time to go over the top. Hopefully this doesn’t become his Pacino-like acting choice. Captain House?! That was brilliant. I demand more Hugh Laurie and his American accent. And how is that the least gangsta rapper of all-time, Common, keeps getting cast in the thug role? This seems to go against his entire rap career. Was this the greatest Cedric the Entertainer performance? I say yes. Was that really Jay Mohr? What happened? Why the porn mustache? These questions are why I don't hate Street Kings.

The entirety of Street Kings can be summed up with Terry Crews getting unloaded on point blank with semi-automatics for about 30 seconds, yet there are only a handful of bullet wounds. As long as stopped thinking it went fine.

5 out of 10

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Forbidden Kingdom

If I took movies all that seriously, The Forbidden Kingdom would have terrified me since the moment I heard about it. Me like Jackie Chan movies and me like Jet Li movies, so putting the 2 of them together in a story based in the martial world would seem to be a perfect marriage. Even if they are passed their primes. Then you slap me upside the head with written by Hollywood screenwriter and directed by a Hollywood director known for the Stuart Little series. And in the end, that is exactly what the final product was, a mixture of greatness and awfulness all thrown together making me feel weird and unsatisfied.

We’ll start with the good because I did honestly enjoy The Forbidden Kingdom even though I will spend some time ripping it apart. There are 5 highlights, the Monkey King vs. the Jade Warlord, the fight in the teahouse, the fight in the temple, the fight in the field, and the final showdown. Did you sense the pattern? Because the math is pretty simple here, when Yuen Woo-ping took over as action director this movie shined. It wasn’t even dependent on Chan and Li. Everyone looked good; even the annoying white kid. That being said; obviously the best fight scene is when Jackie Chan and Jet Li square off after 3 decades circling each other. Thankfully, they were given an extended scene so nothing was rushed. It damn near fulfilled whatever expectations I had when I think of Drunken Master Jackie Chan against Once Upon a Time in China Jet Li. No real complaints. Plus the Monkey King’s magical weapon was a staff, which is my favorite martial arts weapon, so the kung fu sections were planted squarely on my good side.

I really want to list everything that annoyed me about The Forbidden Kingdom but I know that there is one thing I will not be able to get past. You'll see. First off is the useless and annoying beginning and ending scenes set in today’s “Boston”. There is nothing worthwhile here. It was all an excuse to shoehorn an American as the star which in turn handicaps the entire film. The less said about the street toughs with the cartoon Brooklyn accents in Boston the better. Once the story moves to China, things improve due to massive amounts of fighting not because of anything else. You have the female character that speaks in the third person for no damn reason whatsoever. The Jade Warlord and his army all wearing massive amounts of eyeliner. The witch born of wolves is Sindel from Mortal Kombat. The Monkey King is too damn goofy to take seriously which is a problem since all of his fights are crucial to the story. Jet Li pisses on Jackie Chan. We're done here.

I've seen enough kung fu films to not dismiss films because they are goofy. Hong Kong flicks are filled with movies that start off great then start throwing curveballs at you until you throw up your hands and accept it. Because of this training, I was able to completely enjoy The Forbidden Kingdom even with some damn near fatal flaws. The action was just too good to ignore. And in the end that is all I was looking for.

7 out of 10

The Bank Job

In a shocking turn of events, I have a decent movie to review here. Until 2008 turns the corner, I will continue to mention how shocked I am when I actually enjoy the movie I saw. Don't get me wrong, The Bank Job will not even end up in my top 20 when the year is done. But for this time of year it was completely entertaining and I can't ask for more than that.

It has been 10 years since Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and 8 years since Snatch and that is exactly how long it’s been since Jason Statham has starred in a movie as good as The Bank Job. He excels in these British gangster-style movies but when he ventures out into action movie-land you end up with The Transporter and Crank. Which have both become franchises, so god help us all. Statham is at his best when he is scrambling to make money or save his ass or both at the same time. The Bank Job starts with him down on his luck, then he and his crew rob a bank’s safe deposit boxes, which leads to them having dangerous information that puts their lives in jeopardy, and then he finally schemes to keep the money and his life. That right there is Statham’s wheelhouse. Which is why this movie works as well as it does.

Although The Bank Job is not as funny as the other movies I mentioned, it still has the 70s settings and the always confusing British slang. That is where most of the humor comes from, while the rest of the movie is straight up heist flick. Nothing new, but at the same time nothing obvious. It was nice to not predict each step of the story. And it was nice to see Saffron Burrows not get eaten by a shark.

It has been awhile since I saw The Bank Job and my lack of stuff to talk about just highlights how basic the movie really was. I know I enjoyed it but I just haven't thought about it in over a month. So let's chalk this up as the best lukewarm recommendation I can write.

7 out of 10

10,000 B.C.

We are just piling on contenders for piece of shit movie of 2008. This time around I get to piss on 10,000 B.C. and believe me it deserves it. This was an awful movie. There is absolutely nothing to recommend and to preserve my sanity this will be over as soon as possible.

The fact that 10,000 B.C. was awful shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. After seeing woolly mammoths and saber-toothed tigers in the trailer, what else was there to look forward to? And since I’m no longer 6 years old, seeing computer generated mammoths and sabertoothes a second time is not enough. The addition of crazy raptor-like chickens did not help. The extinct creatures were one of the main selling points but all of those scenes were disappointing. The mammoths always looked fake, the tiger scene was horrendous because the main character becomes Ka-Zar and is able to communicate with the sabretooth who may or may not be Zabu, and I think crazy fighting chickens speaks for itself. On top of weak creatures, there was no believability with the human characters. This reminded me of Pathfinder where the idea seems to be throw some animal skins on them and bam you have been transported back in time. As for the story, well, it was just by the numbers hero faces many challenges to save his love. Of course there are heroic sacrifices, the classic winning the respect of the doubters, and even some mwahahahing villains. Complete trash.

I'm done. Screw 10,000 B.C. It didn't even do me the favor of being so bad that is becomes memorable trash. I never want to see or talk about this movie again.

2 out of 10

Sunday, April 13, 2008

In Bruges

Oh my god! I actually saw a good movie in 2008! I didn’t think it was going to happen. There were times where I thought the era of movies had passed. Thankfully I was one of the 6 people who saw In Bruges and my fear for the movie making industry was eased for the moment. You give me a great story with great performances and actual funny dialogue then I will be completely satisfied.

If I had to places In Bruges in a category, I would say that is similar to the movies like Snatch and Layer Cake. There is a dark story being told, but it is impossible to take any of the characters seriously. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are killers but watching them bicker over how to spend their day keeps the movie from becoming grim. And it just wasn’t possible for things to get too dark with Farrell constantly talking about midgets throughout the movie. And if that wasn’t enough once Ralph Fienes was introduced as the real villain instead of bring too much menace, Ralph is just completely over-the-top with his barely controlled rage. Everything comes to a violent conclusion but since the midget comes into play even that isn’t as serious as it could have been.

The three leads on this movie all delivered. When it comes down to it, In Bruges is my favorite Colin Farrell performance so far. I am still a big fan of his Bullseye and he has been in a bunch of big flashy movies, but he was understated and hilarious throughout this film. It is his story being told and he gets most of the best moments, filming midgets, making fun of fat people, beating up neo-nazis, confusing a Canadian for an American, it all works. I’m not sure if Brendan Gleeson has ever not delivered, okay fine he was in Lake Placid but I think we can all agree that Lake Placid is completely awesome. Gleeson is a perfect foil to Farrell and even gets a nice arc for his own character. As for Ralph Fiennes, I’m not sure what to say. He is all over the place in all of his scenes. He seems to be all rage but by the end you find out that he is living by a moral code even while killing all the people in his way. I was excited to see that Fleur Delacour has gone from Tri-Wizard champion in the Goblet of Fire to dating neo-nazis and sticking up guys she takes home with her in Bruges. Good for her.

Barring an absolute shit-tastic 2008, In Bruges will not be the best movie of the year but it is definitely something that I will love to watch over and over again. The entire movie is full of fantastic dialogue with some truly memorable characters. Its funny how these type of movies always seem to made outside of America. Well as long as they are made, I'll be happy.

9 out of 10


Can Will Ferrell please get himself out of this rut? He can single-handedly make these movies not suck but that is not enough. No more sports, no more 70s, no more semi-retarded good guys who learn a lesson within 2 hours. Outside of the R rating, there is nothing new in Semi-Pro that you haven’t already seen in Blades of Glory, Talladega Nights, Kicking & Screaming, or Anchorman.

There is no need to get into the details about the plot of Semi-Pro. In all of these movies, the story exists so that Will can act a fool on the big-screen as long as possible before learning something important then they wrap it up. This time its something about a fake ABA team trying to make it to the NBA and at some point they invent the alley-oop. Not too sure where that came from.

I am being extremely negative because I want more. Semi-Pro is still funny but its just not memorable at all. Jackie Moon fighting the bear was a great scene. “No refunds! Consider your refund escaping this death trap with your lives!” And all his arguments with the referee were good stuff. The usual suspects, Will Arnett, Andy Richter, even Kristen Wing shows up in the bear scene, do their usual great work. It was also nice to see Woody Harrelson, Andre 3000, and Maura Tierney. The cast is not to blame for my lack of enthusiasm.

But there is nothing new here. If Will is going to make the same movie over and over again, then I am not going to waste my time writing about it. Semi-Pro is funny and will watch it when it pops up on cable but there is nothing else to say. Find new material.

5 out of 10

Vantage Point

If I were to spend enough time to create a top ten most annoying movies I have ever seen, Vantage Point would definitely take up one of the spots. There was nothing horrific about the story, even though it wasn’t that good, or the acting, not that that was memorable either, but the twist of showing the same scenes over and over again from every single character’s point of view was infuriating. I wanted to go home by about the first time the church bells rang signaling that the reset point was pressed.

The actual plot of Vantage Point is simple, the President is assassinated … or so it seems. Then we get a bunch of stuff about doppelgangers, Secret Service double agents, and children running in the streets. That last one is the most important of everything because the entire climax of the movie is dependent on there being a dumb-ass kid standing in the middle of the street so chaos can occur. That is not the only ridiculous aspect of the story, there are characters walking away from serious car accidents like they are the Terminator. I’m not even sure if they respect the audience enough to at least limp. And there is the classic plot element of American government agencies are so easy to infiltrate that I’m surprised there hasn’t been a movie where a terrorist group takes over the United States by coup after placing their agents into all the Joint Chiefs of Staff positions. All of this is forgivable because it’s just a dumb action movie and this is what is to be expected.

Vantage Point lost me once it decided to replay every single scene over and over again. This is not a new technique, and it is not a technique that is automatically annoying. But when we watch the same scenes from what feels like 20 different character’s points of view, the entire theater started heckling the screen. Maybe if each section wasn’t so damn long, maybe if the mystery was actually interesting, maybe if this was just a better fricking movie, Vantage Point would have worked. But it wasn’t, and I was stuck seeing a mediocre story over and over again like some sick form of torture.

What the hell is Forest Whitaker doing in this? Shouldn’t he be making better choices since The Last King of Scotland? Oh wait, he’s in Street Kings … I guess not. And this is the best movie Jack Shepard can do when Lost is on hiatus? Maybe there will be something better next time.Dennis Quaid and William Hurt are completely acceptable while at the same time being completely forgettable like everyone else in the cast.

I hope that I am getting across just how much watching the same shit over and over again annoyed me. Because the rest of this movie was nothing to get angry about, it had a good chase scene and actors that I like to watch so I want to just move on. But I can't because I was forced to rewatch the movie while the movie was still going on. That's just unfair.

5 out of 10

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Ah February, you expose the truth before I even walk into the theater. If a big obvious attempt at creating a franchise like Jumper was released in the summer, you may think it was worth your time. But, if said movie is thrown to the wolves in February that is a dead giveaway that something went pear-shaped. Point being, Jumper sucked and I knew it would suck the moment I realized it was being released in the middle of February.

Now this was a movie that had delusions of grandeur. I have no problem with the desire to create a world where multiple sequels can take place. Jumper just went about it by creating shady quasi-religious groups that have supposedly been around for centuries who dedicate themselves to hunting down teleporters because of some vague “its an affront to god” reason. Why the hell does god have beef with teleporting? I can see a government agency not liking people stealing shit and disappearing but “paladins”? And why do they dress like they should be on Star Trek? I just don’t understand. Even if I could get past that, David’s motivations are never really explained. He has the cookie-cutter childhood crush and bully encounter and then a quick hey I can teleport section, and finally about 10 minutes into the movie he is living the good life. And he teleports onto Big Ben just to chill and look cool? Who sees you asshole? For the rest of the movie, he seems to fall into stuff over and over again. Now that I think about it, I seem to be blaming the story for Hayden Christensen’s lack of skill. Maybe if there were an actor that can portray the full range of emotions, this wouldn’t have felt so hollow. Well, I don’t care either way.

I just trashed Anakin and I could go on picking him apart, but I have no desire to do that. He is wooden and speaks with the same tone of voice no matter what is going on. Wonder if he will get to be in front of such an expensive movie again after this? And Sam Jackson… is there a more dependable actor who will ping pong from truly great movies to utter trash within 12 months? I will admit that he gets points for the hair but that’s it. Everything else is unacceptable. Worse, since he was the head paladin he was saddled with all the trash dialogue explaining this farce of a world. And how much did Diane Lane get paid? I want her agent. Jamie Bell at least tried to bring something to the proceedings. But comic relief can only get you so far.

Is Jumper really where Doug Liman is at nowadays? That is really depressing. Hopefully this is just a misstep along the way for the man who started the Bourne franchise. Still, this was damn awful and is made even worse by how badly they wanted this to work.

4 out of 10


Really? Why? I will admit that Rocky Balboa was nice trip down nostalgia lane but who the hell wants to travel that road twice? The only joy I took from Rambo was laughing at the dialogue and satisfying my baser desire to see vast amounts of gore on the big screen. There is not much else going for the damn thing. Well to be fair, it was nice to see Chappelle acting like Chappelle would act. I’m so glad Jack Bauer shot you in the back of the head.

I guess I can’t be mad at Sylvester Stallone, because its not like he is pushing aside better work to pursue some mad dream of bringing back John Rambo. And on top of that, was the Rambo series all that sacred? All I remember is explosive tipped arrows and “Murdoch … I’m going to get you Murdoch.” And after seeing Rambo my opinion hasn’t changed a bit, its freaking Rambo running through some Asian country, killing as many people as he can. There is nothing new here besides ridiculous dialogue attempting to give deeper meaning to the man slaughtering an entire regiment of the Burmese army. Thankfully nobody was interested in more tales of John Rambo so hopefully this will not happen again.

There isn’t much to say about Stallone. What am I going to do? Restate how hilarious it is when he speaks? Talk about how characters based on being ripped badasses that are now being portrayed by a man in his 60s ruins the image? Or just come right out and say that it will all be worth it for either Cliffhanger 2 or More Tango and Cash? After the big man, the recognizable faces for me were Julie Benz and Paul Schulze. Benz has that deer in the headlights character down pat. And Schulze is Chappelle in all things. He probably isn't liked by his own family. Everyone else are just guys guns. Good guys, bad guys, in between guys, and everybody gets a chance to bleed.

It would be nice to have the names of the people who claimed we needed another entry into the Rambo franchise. The third movie wasn't bad enough to kill this bad boy? Well, it's 2008 and here is Rambo and everyone is underwhelmed. Pointless violence can be fun for awhile, but this never even got past shooting people until they explode.

4 out of 10


Who the hell shakes the camera anymore? Haven’t we as a society gotten to the point where if you have a camcorder in hand you know how to keep it steady while filming? I can accept the running sequences but the rest is just there to constantly remind you that Cloverfield is different. This is real man. If I accept that is different, can I also accept that is just another monster movie?

I’m not entirely sure what the big secret of Cloverfield was supposed job. The first trailer back in front of Transformers, I think, was interesting and made ya take notice. But once the head of the Statue of Liberty was knocked off what the hell else could be the point of the movie? Monsters or aliens attack New York. Then, surprise surprise, Cloverfield kicks into gear and big crazy ocean monster attacks New York. I do applaud them though because keeping everything secretive definitely helped the box office. Hurray for money.

The monster attacks New York was easy but that’s not enough to sustain a whole film. So we get the search for the ex-girlfriend, and even that’s fine. But it would have been nice if it was explained that she had Woliverine’s healing ability. She was impaled for hours but they show up remove the pipe and she is fit to travel. What?

Not much to say about the cast. Maybe some of them can springboard from this into bigger careers, but for now they were just young folk thrown on screen. They ran around and acted scared then got killed but good. If I have to highlight somebody, I’ll go with the camera guy because he was amusing enough.

There is just not much to say about Cloverfield. Its a monster trashes NYC movie. People die, scary monster moments, and an obvious there will be more ending. Outside of filming it on a handheld, nothing to see here. Completely acceptable all the way around.

6 out of 10

Vacation Over

Well, I had to make a decision. Either I was going to get off my ass and review movies again or I was going to call this a failed experiment. The first third of a year is always so bad that I had no excitement for movies whatsoever. On the other hand, I couldn't be more excited for Iron Man, Indiana Jones, and Batman this summer. So, now I have to get everything back up and running by the end of April.

Sans weekly television reviews. That was a mistake. I may do a seasonal wrap-up but the weekly shit really beat me up.

And away we go.