Saturday, January 26, 2008

Dear Charlie:

You know you've seen all the right movies when your first comment upon exiting the house into an unusually thick fog -- which is rare enough this time of year -- is "Sweet! A zombie or a ravenous creature from another dimension is gonna get me!"

Yeah.

So Pesh had me over to save me from Action Movie Hell. Yup. Finally saw Shoot 'Em Up, and I can honestly say I hurt myself laughing so hard. This flick is delightfully -- yes, delightfully -- macabre and just damn funny. Clive Owen's facial expressions are so subtle...but so friggin hysterical.

And Paul Giamatti...God, is there anything that man can't do? Is there a part he's capable of screwing up?

Yeah, I'm sure you're waiting for a plot synopsis or something, but there really isn't one. A plot, not a synopsis. Heh, what we generally consider a "plot" here is just a thin tissue upon which a vast canvas of carnage, destruction, and billions of spent bullet cartridges is painted. The movie is almost beautiful in its abandon.

Good times. And no Action Movie Hell for me. Woot! Two for one!

Thanks, Pesh!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dear Charlie:

Is it just me, or were the movie blood-packs back in the '80s and early '90s more...I dunno...bloody?

Having watched a bunch of newer action movies over the last several weeks, I got the hankerin' for some good, ol'-fashioned shoot-em-ups, so I popped in such priceless standbys as Total Recall and Robocop. Man, when a chest got hammered in those oldie-goodies, it was carnage. No neat little holes with a trickle out the middle here. No, when those old packs went, they went in chunks and gobbets and splurts. Good times.

I imagine that's why these movies are considered both quaint and too violent. Heh. Probably why I like 'em so much.

Anyway, it's just a thought.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Dear Charlie:

Long time, no post. Sorry!

As those familiar with me know, I usually let a few days pass between watching a movie and blogging about said movie, but I realized on the way home from watching Cloverfield today that I have been remiss in my reviewing. After all, I watched The Mist well over a month ago and just a couple of weekends back, I watched Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, and nary a peep crossed my blog.

What's wrong with me??

So I decided to catch up, all in one swell foop. Er...fell swoop. Dammit, Derek!

The Mist

The one overwhelming thought I had as I left the theater from this flick was God bless the American military. I mean, damn. They may have made the mud puddle, but they most certainly cleaned it up. By the end of this flick, they weren't messin' around.

Specifically, though, the Punisher (Thomas Jane) did a surprisingly good job as David Drayton, the kid was suitably sobby without being particularly whiny (and thereby disposable, in my parlance), and the atmosphere was just creepy as hell. In fact, until they tried to show the creatures clearly, I was sold as hell. Still am, really.

But the CGI is second-rate in the close-ups. Of course, if I'd watched this flick even five years ago, I'd have sung a different tune, but after the effects in, say, Transformers, it's just hard to measure up. While the creatures are in the mist or in the erratic dark-light of swooping flashlights, they are freaky and utterly convincing. It's only when they try to put the camera directly on the monstrosities that they fall apart.

I mean, they're well-visioned. They look awesome. They're astonishingly close to what Stephen King described in the novella. But they're very obviously effects when shown in close-up. That's all I'm saying.

So, yeah, the CGI stuff was a little ham-fisted, but the rest of the movie was spot-on. Different ending to the book -- and who would have thought that Stephen King would write a happier ending than Hollywood? -- but not either better or worse. It had it's own, perfect feel. Definitely something to see.

You know, in a lot of ways, I think the ending fit the hope/hopelessness of the story better than the original ending, but either one works. It's funny how changing the ending in one flick can make it while changing it in another ruins it utterly.

Anyway, if you didn't catch it in the theater, no worries. You'll get that claustrophobic, lost-in-the-mist feel at home, too, I'd wager. Just shut off the lights, cuddle up on the couch, and enjoy.

AVP:R

Everything they did wrong in the first AVP was righted here. There was no grudging respect for humanity. No adolescent predators training for acceptance among the elders. No ancient sacrificial chambers and high-tech shifting mazes and so on. Not that those weren't fun in their way, of course.

But this...was right. The closest thing to giving props this utter pro of a predator did was using a human survivor as bait instead of outright killing him. Woot!

Blood. Guts. No-holds-barred. If you're in this flick, you're a red shirt. You can be killed. And you probably will be. Heh.

And this predator was no eager youth. He got the news, dropped what he was doing, and went to work. He brought all his shiny tools o' the trade and came -- not to play, but to kick some serious alien ass. God help the humans who get in the way. Hell, God help the ones who saw him at work. After all, we're only second-rate trophies to them. What does it matter if he knocks a few extra off to kill even a single alien?

The aliens were suitably drippy and acidic. The predator was first-string -- cocked, locked, and ready to rock. The humans were fodder, and not particularly endearing or enduring. Good times, man. Carnage candy.

Definitely something to see on the big screen if you can still find it. It'll still be amusing in your own home, but I think it's not "good" enough to not need the theater atmosphere. Fun as hell, but not particularly rewatchable to any but the devotees. Like me.

Cloverfield

The no-spoiler truth? Frackin fantastic.

Admittedly, I'm still stoked from having just watched it less than a half hour ago, but seriously. The hand-held camera feel to it gets a little annoying at times -- like when they're running and all you see is the pavement and the feet of the person in front of him -- but I forgave it in the interest of trying to make the flick look like just anybody shot it.

This group is full of people me and my friends might hang out with. We all laughed out loud several times at some of the commentary of the poor sod stuck with recording the event. Hud. Yeah, Hud was fun. Definitely my favorite character.

In fact, my only beef with the film is that my least favorite characters lasted the longest. Admittedly, I don't give a shit about a love story, so maybe I just missed the "human element", but I was irritated. Can't help it. I don't like it when useful people are offed in favor of helpless, whiny, useless, and irritating people. *shrug* It's just not in me.

Otherwise? Fantastic movie. It's nothing like the useless, ridiculous, time-wasting, soul-sucking badness of Blair Witch, which I know people are thinking because of the camera technique. This is up close and personal, but not stupid. Yes, you see...IT. Whatever IT is. Heheh.

And...IT...is well done. Trust me on this one.

That's about as far as I can go without spoilers, but if you want to see something different that is still way-cool, this is one to pick. The squeamish friend didn't shrink away too badly, and the much-less-squeamish friend actually tried to crawl out of his seat at one point. See? Pleases all types.

Good times.

...

And now...for my greatest irritation that has nothing to do with any of the movies above. I'm seriously pissed that none of the local theaters are playing In the Name of the King. Yes, I know it's Uwe Boll -- the director of the catastrophe train known as Alone in the Dark, which was so bad it wasn't even funny-bad. Yes, I know it's yet another video-game-turned-flick.

But...but...it's Jason Statham! It's Ray Liotta -- not as a wise guy or a cop or a tough, but as a sorcerer in period costume! It's Ron Perlman, who could stand in a corner and cough and still be one of my favorite actors of all time!

And it's not...flippin...here!

So not fair. So, I guess I'll have to wait for DVD to watch the terribleness that is In the Name of the King. I mean, as one friend said, it's Jason Statham kicking butt. How could it not be fun?

Again, and again, and again....

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Dear Charlie:

Well, my New Year has been an action thrill ride. Almost literally.

Okay, I've just been watching action flicks and writing a novel I never thought to even tiptoe into, but hey. The action flicks have been flippin awesome. Lemme give you a list:

The Transporter
The Transporter 2
The Italian Job
War
Crank
Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels
Snatch


What do all of these adrenaline-fests have in common, besides the adrenaline? You guessed it: Jason Statham. I wasn't on the bandwagon before, having only seen the two Transporters and The Italian Job, but after adding the others to the assessment pool (and the fun of seeing him and Jet Li go at it in War for the first time since The One, which I forgot to list), I have to say that I'm reformed. Mr. Statham is incredible.

Who else gleefully admits that they don't mind being typecast, so long as they eventually get to actually FINISH a sex scene? I mean, seriously.

Besides Mr. Statham, these flicks all have action, for which I am a junkie. I also watched Mindhunters again (LL Cool J cracks me up in roles like that; he's also the reason I watch Deep Blue Sea, and one of these days I will find out what you're supposed to add to eggs for the perfect omelet, since water is a mistake, heh), Smokin' Aces (you get Ryan Reynolds and Ray Liotta in the same movie; what's cooler than that?), a bizzaro American-made-French-half-CGI thing called Immortel, and a couple of cheesy horror movies that made me smile.

Good times, man. Good times.

A friend let me borrow most, for which I am eternally grateful. Nothing better than writing an out-of-your-genre book while watching stuff blow up, car chases from Hell, and Jason Statham flying-kick someone right out the screen. Or Jet Li, for that matter. I could watch that man kick ass all day and never get tired, even on those (thankfully rare) occasions when I get up to see if I can even approximate the moves.

In all, a great way to spend the first week of 2008. 4,000 new words in a new story and at least 6 new action movies under my belt, not counting the ones I'd already seen. I'd like to get in to Alien vs. Predator: Requiem sometime this week, but that depends on the funds. And National Treasure: Book of Secrets. And Sweeney Todd. Damn.

Anyway, with the possibility of a theater flick in mind, I didn't rent Shoot 'Em Up, for which I will burn in Action Movie Hell but which had to be sacrificed for Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. You know, to stay in the Jason Statham theme.

*sigh* So many movies, so little time. Heheh.

Oh, yeah -- sometime I'll also have to blog about my New Year's Eve, which included much fun with the friends, a little DragonBall Z quoting/reinacting, and a possessed pair of goggles. But that's a whole 'nother story.