June 2012

Anything by Chuck Norris

When you want to talk about R-movies, your mind tends to wander to two genres: action and horror. You can ramble off hundreds of Schwarzenegger and Stallone movies, but you can't forget the man whose tears can cure cancer, but he never cries.

Long before he was the butt of the Chuck Norris jokes and Walker Texas Ranger, he was the man behind Missing in Action, Delta Force, A Force of One and countless other movies where he karate kicked and shot his way from one bad guy after another.

‘Highlander’ reboot decides Ryan Reynolds is the best man for the job

Just the thought of a Highlander reboot fills me with a mixed sense of dread and hope.  I am a huge fan of the original, seeing it as an iconic film of my childhood.  I’ve watched the movie at least a dozen times and, despite the fact that I am now old enough to realize its many flaws, I still love it to death.  With the reboot, I was actually sort of hoping it turns out to be at least passable so that maybe some sequels can get made that don’t stink horribly like all the other Highlander films that were made (though I have to admit, to my shame, that I enjoyed the TV show).  But now… it has all come crashing down.  They cast Ryan Reynolds in the role of Connor MacLeod.

'Magic Mike' reviews are coming in and they're surprisingly good

Steven Soderbergh does it again

Have you heard about the Steven Soderbergh stripper movie, Magic Mike yet? No? Then you probably haven't turned on your television in oh, a month or so. I've never seen so many ads for any one movie before in my life. My spouse's eyes have rolled so many times that I'm worried they'll get stuck that way.

I could tell you that yes, I'll be seeing Magic Mike this weekend because I love Steven Soderbergh. That would be at least partially true, but I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I haven't gawked, just a bit, at the righteous display of six packs on display in the Magic Mike trailers. I have. I'd all but written this movie off as another Showgirls -- but I think perhaps I judged too quickly. Some of the early reviews are coming in, and they are actually really good.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Long before he was the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln was thought to have been a lawyer, but a new action film paints a different picture. After his family is members are killed by vampires, Lincoln vows to get revenge.

He meets good vampire Henry Sturgess who teaches Lincoln how to navigate and survive the world of the vampires. Sturgess has a buxom beauty girlfriend that adds a little sex appeal to the film played by Alex Lombard. Lincoln finds out the vampires want to take over America and the butt kicking follows. The movie is a action-filled romp chock full of steamy scenes and plenty of blood and violence to keep everyone interested.

The Batman is coming!

We have been bombarded by trailers, posters, production stills, interviews and all other manner of marketing propaganda for months now, but at last the moment is almost upon us - the Batman is coming!  The Dark Knight Rises is less than three weeks away as of this writing and nerds across the globe are collectively wetting their pants in anticipation.

'Rock of Ages' fails to impress, suffers box office failure

Director Adam Shankman's musicial adaptation misses the mark.

I'll be the first to admit that I am a child of the 80s. I was running around with my big hair and yes, my tacky blue eye shadow, listening to hair bands and generally being obnoxious. So, when the Rock of Ages musical came to Broadway, I was kind of stoked. I still haven't seen it, but then, when the movie adaptation was announced, I was super-stoked. Could director Adam Shankman pull it off? And, more importantly, could Tom Cruise pull off the role of rock star Stacee Jaxx? Would movie-goers buy it all?

The answer: Apparently not. Rock of Ages did not fare well at the weekend box office. Add this to the (rare) list of Tom Cruise box office flops. And the same can be said for Adam Sandler's raunchy-romp That's My Boy.

What if PG-13 movies were rated R?


I have written before about the dumbing down of the movie industry to meet the age standards of modern audiences. Movies that would have been traditionally R-rated are being made at PG-13, so the teenagers that frequent theaters can watch without parental permission.

Have you ever wondered how some of these movies would have been different if they were made at an R-rating? In all honesty, there isn't that much difference between PG-13 and R. A little more violence, a little more cursing, a little more skin and Twilight would have been for mature audiences only.

Review: All My Friends Are Funeral Singers (2010)

All My Friends Are Funeral Singers is a quirky independent film that ranges comedy and drama, but beneath the surface tells a tale of death, mortality and moving on.  The basic premise revolves around a fortune teller named Zel who has a house full of ghosts living with her.  They help her in her extra-sensory business, providing information for her to relay to her clients.  This includes allowing her to channel the spirits of the dead as well as picking horses for one of her gambling customers.

The movie details the relations that Zel has with her clients, the ghosts that inhabit her home and other characters, though only in passing.  The plot-driven part of the story lies in the mystery that develops around whether Zel has trapped the ghosts in order to use their power for her own profit or whether she’s just as in the dark as they are when it comes to them being able to move on.

Rock of Ages

Guitar Hero: the Musical is exactly as bad as it sounds.

I'm a little confused as to who Rock of Ages's target audience might be, and that's not just because I'm perplexed as to how this sweltering suck pile could appeal to any demographic, ever. I'm confused because Rock of Ages mixes the Spinal Tap/Metalocalypse style, rock-mock with the gooey, cloying plastic romance of Disney's High School Musical. If the intent was to appeal to people who grew up with the abundant absurdity of '80s hair metal, why on earth would they make the primary plot focus a "small town girl meets boy in the big city" story?

Maybe I'm mad because "plot focus" is really too strong of a phrase. Things happen in Rock of Ages, and some of them might even suggest tension or some kind of arc, but any promise of progression is quelled as soon as the contrived medley that set it up is over. You've got characters wanting different things, but none of them encounter any difficulty in obtaining them--and none of them rub up on each other in the pursuit of their goals.

Who will adapt a '50 Shades of Grey' movie?

One very well-known writer is interested.

At the moment, it seems that nothing can stop the juggernaut that is 50 Shades of Grey. The steamy E.L. James novel is getting an incredible amount of press, largely because it's -- well, it's pretty hot. Millions are reading this, it seems, and as with other super-hot novels, buzz about a movie adaptation is pretty loud. Whether you love the 50 Shades books or hate them, there's absolutely no denying that they've become a pop culture phenomenon. A movie is pretty much inevitable.

Has anyone read this 50 Shades trilogy? If so, you'll probably be as shocked as I am that Hollywood would even entertain the idea of a 50 Shades of Grey film. I don't see how they could do it without an NC-17 rating (I'd say NC-17+). But yes, it seems as though the 50 Shades movie is coming. Now the question becomes, who will write the big screen adaptation? One very well-known writer is extremely interested in adapting the book, and you won't believe who it is!

Living Dead series

You can't get much more R-rated than flesh eating zombies and George Romero has been perfecting it for decades. Romero first began his Living Dead series of films back in 1968 with Night of the Living Dead.

It was about the dead coming back to life and devouring the living. It followed a small group of humans trying to survive the dead by hiding out in a house until morning. He followed it up with Dawn of the Dead, which was a allegory for commercialism and America's love of malls, and Day of the Dead, which was about the government's reaction to the zombies and how they studied them. Officially, there's also Land of the Dead, Survival of the Dead, Diary of the Dead and remakes of the earlier films as well.

Prometheus: Ridley Scott’s latest classic of sci-fi

Like a vast wave of other Ridley Scott fans, I joined the horde and went out the midnight show to catch Prometheus as soon as I possibly could.  I am a big Scott fan from way back and still to this day rewatch Blade Runner every 3 to 6 months.  The original Alien was a classic of horror back before the conventions of what made a movie scary were firmly established as clichés.  And now, Scott has returned with Prometheus - a sort-of prequel to Alien that does so much more than just readdress the same kill-by-numbers, bug-hunting concept.

Unfortunately, I was forced to see the film in 3-D.  I know people love the new format, but to me it just means a harder time viewing the nuisances of the film and a headache for an hour after I’m done.  Luckily, Prometheus is shot in such a way that the 3-D effects don’t distract from what’s going on.  Those that enjoy 3-D may actually find it to add to the film.  But regardless of the number of dimensions, the camerawork was beautiful to the point of awe-inspiring.

Stephen King's 'It' coming to the big screen

Do we want it to, though?

Here's the thing: I'm a huge Stephen King fan. I've been a fan since I was a wee child, hiding under the covers with a flashlight reading Pet Cemetery, scared out of my mind. But with a couple of notable exceptions (Pet Cemetery and The Shining), I absolutely hate it when King's best novels are adapted to film. It just doesn't work. I was extremely disappointed in Bag of Bones (the most recent King movie adaptation I suffered through), and I'm cringing with the thought of Under the Dome going big (or small) screen.

That being said, here's the news: It is going to be a major motion picture. Here we go, right? If you could see me right now, I'm rolling my eyes. Anyone else with me here? Do you remember the horrible It miniseries from ages ago? Ugh.

'Snow White and the Huntsman' rules the movie kingdom

Charlize Theron/Kristen Stewart fairy tale retelling tops box office

Who's the fairest of them all? Snow White and the Huntsman, that's who! The fairy tale fantasy/adventure movie reigned supreme at the weekend box office. And yes, that includes Men in Black III and The Avengers (though both performed quite well, again).

We saw Snow White and the Huntsman last night, and I have to say, it exceeded my expectations, at least visually. It's a gorgeous film, and Charlize Theron is magnificent. I'll admit my expectations weren't actually all that high, but I was dazzled.

Snow White and the Huntsman

Prepare for some fun creatures and fighting, but not much else.

People searching for something new—maybe some actual female bad-assery rather than the meek compliance of the traditional fairytale princess—will likely be disappointed by the latest fairytale movie, Snow White and the Huntsman. While this version of Snow White isn’t nearly as stand-there-insipidly as the Disney version, she’s definitely still quite dull, without any real personality or verve. There is a post-death moment where she’s a bit interesting, but most of her qualities are based on her beauty and innocence, which aren’t much. (Some spoilers ahead.)

Charlize Theron, however, was pretty riveting to watch—as usual. She was the ultimate in evil, sucking out the youth of young women—not to the death or via torture a la Erzebet Bathory, but to a pretty ghastly extent all the same—and killing men quite easily. In fact, she was nearly immortal, and she even had a story about why she was so wicked, which is always nice to have. In this case, it was because a king had come to destroy her village and kidnap her as his wife (and later left her for a younger woman, apparently), and her mother put a spell on her to keep her safe, a spell that would ensure that her ethereal beauty would captivate men and leave them at her mercy. Oh noes, the big succubus trope that we’ve seen over and over again in media! It would have been so much more incredible if they’d provided her with more depth about the pain she suffered to become who she was—or, better yet, made the villain an evil king instead, since throughout history it’s been men, not women, who usually cause so much war and destruction.

The Saturday Night Live Brand

With successes like Wayne's World and the The Coneheads under his belt, Lorne Michaels has had carte blanche to turn the many loveable characters from Saturday Night Live into movie adaptations. While none have really hit a chord with fans like those mentioned above, the Saturday Night Live brand is alive and well today.

Its heyday was in the 1990s and early 2000s when these movies were flying out left and right. It's Pat, Superstar and The Ladies Man were box office disappointments, but the sequel to Wayne's World helped shore up the brand.

Michaels has been involved with projects with Saturday Night Live alums and helped them get their start in motion picture acting. The late Chris Farlay, Tina Fey, Andy Sudeikis and the rest would never have reached their heights of popularity without them.

Review: Boy Wonder (2010)

So, once more on a lonely Friday night I found myself flipping through the old Netflix and looking for something interesting to watch.  I came across Boy Wonder and, according to the description, it seemed like it was right up my alley.  It’s about a kid who witnesses the murder of his mother and, after aging into a fully dysfunctional teenager, decides to go on a vigilante rampage in hopes of finding and bringing justice to his mother’s killer.  From just that basic information, I figured I had a Batman-esque super hero origin type film on my hands.

At first, I certainly expected to see a movie with a more super hero theme to it, especially with a name like Boy Wonder.  As it turned out, it was very much like an origin story although in a much darker vein.  This movie is more a telling of what a person might end up like in the real world if something happened to them to send them over the edge and into the vigilante lifestyle.  It explores the nature of the main character and the way he loses touch in his obsessive need to find the person that killed his mother.