Monday, November 26, 2012

Wrecked-em? Damn near killed 'em!!!


Sometimes a movie comes along that really catches your eye, even if you aren't a big fan of the genre.  In my case, that genre is animation related to Disney/Pixar/Dreamworks.  That's not to say I hate everything they release, but the ones I like are certainly in the minority.  To be honest, Chuck Boonsweet is more of the fan of this sort of thing.  However, as fate would have it, I will be the one who reviews Wreck-It Ralph.  Let us begin shall we? 

The story is this: in an arcade, all of the arcade games are connected to a secret "central hub", where all of the games characters are able to meet and interact after a days work of performing for the real world customers.  Enter Wreck-It Ralph, the main villain of an old-school 8-bit game called Fix-It Felix, who's purpose is to destroy a building while Felix the hero (controlled by the player) attempts to repair said building.  Ralph is unappreciated and unliked in his game, getting regularly snubbed by the other characters in the game, and not even allowed to be in the building.  He gains an opportunity to sneak into another, more Halo-esque video game (a no-no in the video game world) as a hero in order to win a Hero medal, proving to everyone he can be a good guy.  Through a series of unfortunate events, he falls into an escape pod with a baby alien bug, flies out of the game, through the central hub, and into another game called Sugar Rush, where the story changes rather unexpectedly. 

I'm gonna want to get into the good points of the movie before I get into anything else.  First off, this has very pretty animation, as is expected from the companies involved.  The Sugar Rush game is very bright and colorful, which is one of the only good features about that game.  But I'll get into that in a bit.  The 3D was also pretty decent, with a couple of objects or an arm popping out of the screen here and there.  But clearly, the big point for most is the inclusion of a LOT of real video game characters.  If you've seen the trailer you've already seen Street Fighter's Zangief, Super Mario's Bowser, a Pac Man ghost, etc.  But when you get to the Central Hub scenes, you really have to keep an eye out for the characters in the background.  It was a very nice touch for all the old-school gamers watching. 

Now up until the point where Ralph entered the Sugar Rush game, I had it in my mind that I was watching possibly the greatest Disney Movies I've ever watched.  And then things fell apart.  Ok, maybe fall apart is too rash.  But, the rest of the flick removed my thoughts of "best Disney movie" (which for me is still the classic Alice in Wonderland).  "What was the catalyst", you might ask?  The introduction of Vanellope Von Schweetz, voiced by Sarah Silverman.  From this point on, it seems that Ralph's story takes second place to Vanellope's story.  Which is a shame, because my initial thoughts were that Ralph was going to do more video game hopping, continuing to try and prove himself as a hero.  Instead, the Vanellope/Sugar Rush thing takes up the last half of the movie, maybe a little more. 

Now don't get me wrong, the SR game is beautifully made, with a ton of cuteness that's bound to make you chuckle at points.  And there are a fair share of awesome and funny moments throughout this part of the flick.  But it just lingers here a little too long for my liking.  And then there's Vanellope's voice.  OMG, that was in my opinion one of the most irritating voices I've heard in some time.  I'm sorry Sarah Silverman, I've always thought you were a pretty funny lady, but this performance was for the most part grating on my ears and nerves.  And as I mentioned, Vanellope gets a lot of screen time for the last half or so, so that really threw off my enjoyment. 
All that negativity aside, I still totally recommend you watch Wreck-It Ralph.  It's beautiful looking, a ton of jokes (video game and otherwise), and lots of video game nostalgia.  If any of you watch or have watched it, feel free to comment on what characters you've seen in the Central Hub background, just to see if you saw any I might have missed, or on anything related to the movie in general. 

Movie rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Animated/Nostalgia rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

- Ken Bucklesworth, going to play some 8-bit video games until my eyes bleed. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I ain't afraid of no apparition!!!


As many of you are aware, I, your old pal Ken Bucklesworth, am a man.  And like most men, I tend to keep my emotions to myself.  However, I feel I should unburden myself a little to you today.  Call it a self therapy thing if you will.  In this case, my issue revolves around movie trailers.  Most trailers you see have the ability to stir up excitement about the movie advertised, and say things like "the must-see movie of the year", "the scariest movie in years", etc.  And I admit, I'm prone to the fancy wordplay and the epic orchestral piece playing along for dramatic effect (except for comedy trailers, don't get me started on why I dislike those.  Maybe another time I'll get into that whole thing).  But this trailer rant does have a point.  Sometimes trailers are too good at selling people on watching this or that flick.  Which is where we get into The Apparition.

Some of you fine people may recall that The Apparition was the second trailer I included for my Trailer Trash post a little ways back.  And at the time, it looked like it was going to be a pretty creepy flick, which of course I'm always looking forward to.  And you know what?  Just before I typed this sentence, I even went back and watched the trailer again, and it still looks appealing.  But the second watch made me realize something: the trailer showed pretty much EVERYTHING interesting that happened in the movie.  And to be honest, that sorta thing almost makes a tiny part of me die inside every time I get fooled like that.  I know what you might be thinking:  "But Ken, you handsome devil, it's just a movie".  Well yes, it is just a movie.  But at the same time, to people like Chuck Boonsweet and myself, it's a little more than that.  Otherwise, we wouldn't be here reviewing them. 

So the deal is this.  A few college kids get together to recreate an experiment done in the 70's to conjure up a spirit.  Why?  Who cares, it keeps the kids off the streets right?  Unfortunately, it goes too well.  And one of the people responsible gets hers in some logic defying death.  Personally, I don't know why the spirit is trying to off the ones who summoned it.  Personally, I'd at least be grateful enough to spare them and go after more unsuspecting victims.  Anyway, that opening sequence only makes up for about 6 minutes of the movie.  The majority revolves around one of the college students (Ben) some time later, who, with his girlfriend, gets harassed by a spirit again.  Why?  Because the moron who headed the first experiment (Patrick) TRIED IT AGAIN!!! 

I really wanted to like this one, I really did.  I mean, Ben and his girlfriend were easy to like for the most part, most of the creepy parts were just that, creepy.  And it had a lot of potential.  But it was just so bland.  And as I said earlier, all the creepy and interesting parts were crammed into a two and a half minute trailer, which leaves you with a lot of "nothing important happening" filling in the rest.  And yeah, I know Ben was involved with the first experiment, so the spirit possibly remembers who Ben is.  But neither he nor his girlfriend were involved with the second round, and is staying in a house who knows how far away, so I have trouble believing that he would be a primary target.  But it really doesn't matter, because this flick is really not worth the brainpower. 

At any rate, if you haven't seen it, and curiosity is eating away at you to know for yourself, it's coming out on Blu-ray November 27.  So feel free to watch and see for yourself.  And any of you who have/will watch it feel free to let me know what you thought of it. 

Movie rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars
Horror rating: 2 out of 5 stars

- Ken Bucklesworth, signing off.

Monday, November 19, 2012

I love Bondage.

SKYFALL (2012)

I am a huge fan of Bond.
Now, I know, that there are bond fans, and Bond haters, and then the many in between that have one film in the franchise -here and there- that they dug. I dig them all. From the old school kool of Dr. No, and Goldfinger (and yes From Russia With Love), to Roger Moore's stint in a super gadget, action packed, playboy friendly Bond of the late 70s, and early 80s. To my Fav bond Pierce Brosnan, and my still all time fav - Goldeneye. Of course, that is open for debate. That is the beauty of Bond, everyone has a favorite Bond, a favorite movie, and the true fans well have a full list of awesome points for why there bond is the best.

For example a step father trying to convince his child that Moonraker is the best. Oh, those parents...

When Daniel Craig stepped in as Bond for the newest incarnation of the character for Casino Royale, I was a little worried. He didn't really feel like bond to me. But, hey what do I know, it was a dam good flick... even with the one of the worst lines ever "If all that was left of you was your pinky, you'd still be more man than any man I know" Ya. That line happen. It's no "You're breaking my heart Anakin, you're breaking my heart" but its reeeeeeeally close. So here we are, a few years later, and his third Bond film, and I have to say, this is the closest they have come in a long time to capturing the old school feel.

A cool, calculating Bond. Merciless, and reactive. With - Finally - some killer Characters around him (getting time to properly develop).

So Bond is on a mission, he dies. Then, turns out he actually just decided to peace out to an island to drink shots of whiskey with scorpions on his hand. Which entertains the locals it seems. Then someone blows up MI-6 and it seems they have it out for 'M'. So Bond straps his secret agent boots on, and gets back in it. He meets a hot lady, who takes him to see the master mind, a super cool Javier Bardem as Silva. Then, a lot of fireworks, and some wicked fun chatty moments.

This film works on a lot of levels as a Bond film. First, the opening song by Adele, rocks. Title sequence is very, very, good. Made me feel all kinds of classic. Having a story that focuses a little more on M, and even a few personal tidbits of Bond, was a great idea. Oh, and finally, in this Bond era, we have a charismatic villain. Every inch the evil cool, that bond is good... or less evil... or evil on the side of good. However you wanna look at it. The action is on par with some of the best of the series, but, and I can't believe I'm saying this in a Bond film, the enormous amount of plot actually works very well. We see pieces, of what was intended to be a trilogy early on coming through here... a little roughly considering the middle film, but it still gets it done.

I mean, I do have my problems with this Bond... Daniel's... for one, he is way more James Bourne, than Bond. Dark, and violent, and occasionally abandoning the charm that made the original incarnation so magnetizing. The women, who were always involved as villains, or heroes, are now little more than candy to tempt Bond's would be human side (and have an annoying habit of dying horribly, what the heck is up with that?). And the gadgets have gone the way of the Dodo. That is just kaka.

But, I guess, purist aside, this is the Bond the world wants... as the box office seems to suggest... from coast to coast. The darker, slicker, Bond, is here to stay. Even after Danny C's impending departure. Well, they have set the ground rules here... I just hope they find room for a few subtle additions.

There are a few moments in here... That will seriously make your Bond love smile. Trust me. If you have been watching Bond for years... You will have moments... the kind you have missed. To the rest, its more explosive fun.

Great acting. Writing. Sets. Pretty. And that backlit fight rocks!

Movie scale 4 out of 5 stars
Bond scale 4 out of 5 stars

Boonsweet, Charles Boonsweet... 0068... ha! Thats right. I resisted the urge to go where you all thought I was... Shame on you. :)

- till next.

Who needs mars!


So a long, long, time ago, in a galaxy of early 90s science fiction, Paul (showgirls was a hit) Verhoeven made a quaint little picture that had Arnold (the man who would be governor) as the lead, and a ton of awesome makeup and practical effects as the co-star. It was awesome. And has quite the following to this day.
So den...
In the year 2012 it is decided there shall be a remake. And the hate started. So i read a bit here, and I read a bit there. And really folks, really... was the original that great? I mean it's an awesome flick but people were acting like it was a science fiction opus. I mean. It's a movie about Arnold Schwarzenegger traveling to mars to turn on a machine. Cool yes. Untouchable science fiction treasure, no.
Just saying.
More I read about the remake seemed pretty interesting and with turns from Colin Farrell in In Burges, Fright Night, and heck now, even London Boulevard, I was willing to give it a chance. Then I heard Kate Beckinsdale, and Jessica Biel were tagging along... and Bryan (Walter White himself) Cranston as the villain... I mean. That is a lineup folks. The director behind Underworld, and Live free or Die hard behind the camera... Come on. It had to be at least decent right?
Story goes...
Man Douglas Quaid lives in a futuristic world that only has two liveable pieces of land left. They happen to be on opposite sides of the planet. The colony: the hard working class types, and the UFB (united federation of Britain) where all the rich people live. There is a little more to it, but that the jest. Oh, and the accepted method of travel between them is a giant tube that travels to and around the core of the planet. Plausible, not sure. Cool idea, yup. He decides the same old routine isn't doing it for him (though I feel being married to Kate Beckinsdale would at least count for a few smiles) so he heads to "Recall" where you pay to have memories implanted in your brain. Whatever you want. He decided on secret agent. All is well, then machine goes haywire because he really was a secret agent (unknown to him do to memory brain scrambling) security shows up, people die... and on the run he goes. Along the way he will discover the truth behind bad guy plans, and perhaps help save what is left of humanity.

Yup. Ok. More or less a standard sci-fi hero arc, with a memory/self lost twist.

But here is where the whole "this movie is mostest worth viewing" comes in. The action. Now there is a lot about this movie that is above par. The acting is pretty good. The direction is pretty good. There is a woman with an extra breast. All good things. However, what really brought this film into my must own in high def glory, the action scenes. They are just fantastic. Whether it is a 5 minute plus full mano a womano with Katy B, a crazy air highway chase, or people getting fist smashed into mouths while just trying to ride the dang elevator, the action in this film is phenomenal.

Is that enough?

I think so. Did I mention this film is beautiful? The budget they threw at this thing, no idea how much, but every cent got used. Endless cities, that admittedly borrow much from the lands of Blade Runner. I remember when this film first came out my fellow, Bucklesworth, turning to me and saying you know, I heard it doesn't even involve mars. You know what, I was worried, but now having watched it, i think it stands up as it's own film. Yes there are a few nods to the original. Overall though... you can not watch this film as a remake. Unlike many a remake, it managed to entertain me as it's own creation, not simply because of a built in love of the original

(impending Evil Dead remake, may you bring similar feelings... I beg of you).

I will say the ending slowed down a little bit, but I was okay with that. Needed to catch my breath (of the film watch variety, not my actual lungs... they are fine)

Oh one more thing...
The chick fight in this movie... rocks!

Movie scale 3 out of 5 stars
Sci-fi scale 4 out of 5 stars

This is one action packed sic-fi romp. Big TV+ systemUP = awesomeness.
Give it a chance folks.

To all the people that shot this film down as not living up to the original... I say this. Do they ever? I mean even once? Sometimes maybe a good movie is just a good movie, it doesn't always have to live up to a title.

-Boonsweet saying, who needs mars? :P

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wu-Tang Clan ain't nothing to F.....


They just don't make them like this anymore.
That's my opening line.
They still make horror films on a shoestring budget that wow us with their occasional gore brilliance. They still make the tough guy taking on an army of baddies with varying budgets and leading men... and they still make this, and that... but how many completely blood soaked kung fu (or if you prefer - Chop- Socky) flicks do they really make anymore?
The charm of the old school over the top 70s and 80s gifts of FU from across the pond have been replaced by growing budgets... and well it seems a now endless supply of movies about the life and times of IP MAN.

Editor's Note :Seriously. I get it, the man invented a form of kung fu and trained Bruce Lee. Cool. Then they made a killer movie with Donnie Yen. Then, um, they made like 6 more. Enough. Thank you (though dang it if Grand Master doesn't look very kool)

I'm talking the bone crunching, head ripping, arm tearing... [etc] of the badly filmed, horribly dubbed classics. Anyone remember the - popular for a minute- x-ray bone break? Boo-ya. Well, RZA has seen the lacking, and he and his buddy Eli "I will never forgive you for hostel II" Roth got together and cranked out a fun homage. Now for those of you that don't know, RZA and his friends... The WU-TANG CLAN, didn't pick their stage name by accident. They are huge fans of the old skool Fu. In fact for a time they were "presenting" many of the dvd releases of underground classics... or you know... close to's... RZA has mentioned many times that he wanted to make a film. Just. Like. This.

The RZA plays a blacksmith who gets caught up in a war between a clan, and the government. He makes weapons for both sides trying to allow the love of his life, who happens to be a.. um... "working" lady, to leave her employer. His skills are unmatched and everyone wants his weapons. Wouldn't you know it he gets more involved than intended, remembers the true way of the shaolin (he was taken in as an orphan don't-cha-know) and how to beat people up with chi controlled metal fists.

So, in the first minute of this film a man has his arms ripped off. By Cung Le. Then blood splashes everywhere. Then a few heads go flying, all behind freeze frame, classic letter style credits. Yup. No matter how horrible any part of the movie was after that, I knew I would be enjoying myself. This is more or less non-stop overthetopness. To make it even better the talent sprinkled in is nothing short of fantastic... Now in case you don't know some of the names, I'll include a "know for".

Chai Hui Liu : 36th Chamber of the Shaolin
Rick Yune : Ninja Assassin
Daniel Wu : The Banquet
David Batista : former WWE Champion
Cung Le : UFC fighter, Strikeforce Lightweight Champion

And that's some of the Kung Fu/fighter talent, what about Russel Crowe and Lucy Liu thrown in for good measure. I have never been the biggest RC fan, but he has so much of a good time with his role in this film I couldn't help but enjoy it right along with him. I imagine after all the serious work he has done this was the screen equivalent of a Teenager's first time with the the car keys... possibly without permission... :)

Yes, it could have been better. Some of the fights are not mindblowing choreography. The RZA is really, not that good an actor, at any point. He takes the one expression for everything, including limb loss, to new heights. The secondary "boss" showdown sucks, and David Batista as a man that can turn his body to brass, honestly, needed a little more fight time. BUT....

But. I think the attempt to bring something like this to the big screen and all the sneaky throwbacks, and just gratuitous gore, overrule the bad. If you like your old kung fu, you will dig this flick. If you Just wanna see Crowe unleashing his inner violent demon, you will dig this flick. If the line "If you want, I can have that half of him brought up to your room" makes you giggle, you will most definitely dig this flick.

The RZA does do a solid job directing this film. It would seem the films he's worked on, soundtrack wise, have served him well in picking up a few tricks. Including a couple of Tarantino's.

Movie scale 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Kung Fu scale 4 out of 5 stars.

Understand, this "4" is not based on the fights. But there is enough fun, and chaos here to bring a smile to most a foot to face fan.

Chuck the man with the iron fingertips Boonsweet saying...
Ninja Vanish!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

In space no one can hear you... Whimper.


Alien has defined decades of science fiction. In truth you could argue it was inspired by older entries in the sic-fi genre, but none had the lasting effect of Alien. From the design, to the concept, everything came together just right. Including the never to be underestimated talents of one Ridley Scott. The man behind, well, pretty much anything with chainmail and a sword in it these days. But, he has a body of work that should not only impress, it should illicit awe.

After 3 decades + , Mister space terror decides he wants to make another space movie. Cool. Then it starts sounding like he's making a prequel to Alien... ok, unexpected, but still cool. Then he's not sure if it's a prequel, it might just be a space movie... with a monster... and horror elements... ok. That's a little strange, but um... okay. Then it is an alien prequel. And everyone picked a side. Terrified of Scott destroying a world he had created, or played a major role in anyway... and those that thought his return would be awesome, and were stoked to get back into the alien universe.

I was in the latter category.

Admittedly when directors return to their greatest work, things do not always go well... *cough - Star Wars.

The plot is such. Space ship from earth (weyland industries I might add) gets sent by billion/trillion/zillionnaire to find out possible origins beyond our galaxy. This all made possible by a road map two archaeologists have found (the main an always entertaining leading lady Noomi Rapace). When they arrive on the foreign planet low and behold there does appear to be signs of intelligent life. There is however also, strange canisters... leaking black liquid. After there initial visit motives come into question,  including those of the Android on board. Things get very messed up, and it seems that perhaps our planet owes more than a little to a race they call the engineers... and that's as far as I go.

This film is an experience. For me, as a film fan, as a fan of space, this film held me for every minute of it's two hour run time. It's a feast for the eyes, and mind. Now first, I want to explain that I feel this feel stands on it's own. It was a smart, and surely trying, idea to build a plot that allows a casual viewer to enjoy, while appeasing the throngs of Alien fans. There is enough here to melt my brain, and demand repeated viewings.

Now to address some of the problems i have heard. They do tie this to the Alien universe. Is it a constant thread that they bring up throughout the entire movie - NO. However, that is how they set up a scenario that you get involved in to the point that when they explain how and why we are tied to this race, it knocks you back. To the people that apparently did not catch the clear explanations of those threads that I will not explain here... I don't know what to say, perhaps if you give it another chance you will see it clearer. I also want to state that I in no way had any problem with the soundtrack. I have read out there in the wide web-a-verse that some people felt the music overwhelmed some moments. Sci-fi has a history of lengthy, impressive soundtracks... epic... is a word I would use to describe this one.

Is it perfect? No.

Problems -
1. The ending, though not a disappointment is really, pointlessly open-ended.
2. Charlize Theron deserved a better closing moment
3. The self surgery, and the um... lack of problem that any one seems to have with the giant wound... and blood. Maybe that happens often in space?
4. The opening scene???? But perhaps on another view.
5. You will say to yourself... Really did that person just get saved by a rock?            
Oh and 6. No scientist - In a situation like that - would ever talk to a menacing creature like a pet shop puppy.

That is all. Small things.
I super mucho enjoyed this. I am so happy it lived up to the hype, for me anyway. I can understand why some of you die hards might not be fully satisfied, but there are rumours of a sequel coming... so perhaps then. Though I for one, ain't really feeling like i need one. This'll do.

So pretty.

Movie scale 3.5 out of 5 stars
Sci-fi scale 4 out of 5 stars.

Might be time to break out my classic Aliens discs...

-Boony saying look both ways before crossing the spaceship hallway.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Chiller Classics Presents: Just Before Dawn

Welcome my friends to the debut review for Chiller Classics, where my associate Mr. Boonsweet and I take you on a trip to the olden days of horror.  We hope to introduce some of you to the horror flicks you may not have heard of, either because of how old they are or how obscure, and educate you about horror's history.  And for those of you who are already well versed in the "good old days" of horror, hopefully this will help bring back some nostalgic memories and maybe entice you to see some of these classics again. 

To begin this new series, I take you back to 1981, where the slasher genre has really gained a foothold in the world of cinema thanks to previous releases like Halloween, Friday the 13th, Maniac, and many others.  Today I review Just Before Dawn.  This flick uses the "friends camping in the woods, gets picked off by a insane killer" formula, a formula used many times over the decades and is still an effective means when used properly.  And boy does it not waste any time, as the first kill happens around the five and a half minute mark, when an unfortunate hunter get the business end of a blade in a particularly painful place.  I know, getting stabbed anywhere will hurt a lot, but this one seems like it would be especially painful.  Luckily, his friend manages to escape before he meets a similar fate.

Enter the happy-go-lucky campers, one of whom happens to own a piece of land up in the mountains.  And what better way to enjoy said land than to bring some friends to camp there and make the standard merry.  Along the way they run into a forest ranger (played by George Kennedy) who tries to warn them away from the mountains.  Of course, it wouldn't be much of a movie if the campers actually listened to him, so naturally they ignore his warning and continue on their way.  Before they make it to their destination they run into (not literally) the surviving hunter from the beginning, who begs them to take him along.  Unfortunately, the hunter tells them that demons are after him, so instead of taking him they leave him a sandwich and continue on.  From here on in it's the (nowadays) standard fare; camp is set up, the campers enjoy their time, and one by one they get picked off by the killer.  But this movie is not without it's moments.  For example, despite seeing who is doing the killing pretty much right away, there's a certain aspect of the protagonist you don't see until about two-thirds of the way into it, although there are a couple of hints in the movie.  Also, the last kill in the movie is brutal, and one that I must say I never really saw before, and I've seen a LOT of different kills over the years.

So, the positives: to start, the scenery is just beautiful.  This is a flick that was made for blu-ray.  I too would be hard pressed to listen to a forest ranger's warnings if I was to camp in such a place.  While some of the kills are nothing special, there are a couple of exceptions that I enjoyed, such as the last kill I previously mentioned.  And the effects and stunt work (what little stunts there were) are also pretty decent.  The acting, while not great in some parts, was overall still decent.  George Kennedy did a fine performance, as well as Gregg Henry (although my favorite performance by Henry is still the somewhat over-the-top Mayor Jack MacReady in Slither).

There's not a whole lot to say in terms of negatives.  Most complaints are basically the other side of the coin with some of the acting and a couple of basic kills.  There are a couple of points also where they seem a little confused about whether its daytime or nighttime.  The protagonist is nothing too special, and there's a family living in the woods, who ultimately offer little to the advancement of the story.  If they weren't in it, I'm pretty sure the movie would have been just fine. 

All in all, this flick is one I recommend you check out.  While not the cream of the crop, it's still an entertaining watch.  And in my opinion, it makes a good opening entry to Chiller Classics.

Movie rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Chiller Classic rating: 4 out of 5 stars

- K.K. Bucklesworth, feeling fine.