Archive for June, 2013

28
Jun
13

Taken 2, Hustle & Flow

Taken 2

“Hello? Who is this? No I don’t want to switch my long distance carrier. Hey, who the fuck even uses that shit anymore?”

Even though the original Taken was a straight-up rip-off of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movie Commando, I still liked it. Hell, everybody liked it. People were blown away watching Liam Neeson shoot people and generally kick ass across the streets of Paris. It was a sleeper hit that was shot on a budget of $25 million and grossed $226 million at the box office. Being such a gargantuan money maker, Hollywood salivated like a hungry dog and did what they do best: LOL LET’S MAKE AN UNNECESSARY SEQUEL LOL!

Taken 2 occurs an unknown amount of time after the original. Neeson’s frigid ex-wife is having marital problems with her husband, and as a result, their vacation was canceled. Neeson decides to invite them along with him to Istanbul so they can still have their vacation. Yes, you know how it is for millionaires. They are so heavily burdened by their fancy cars, expensive clothes, gourmet food, and VIP treatment, that sometimes they just have to get away from it all. Unfortunately for them, the families of the guys Neeson killed in the first movie are plotting revenge.

This time around, Neeson himself is taken. He and his ex-wife are both kidnapped, and now it is up to their daughter Kim to come to the rescue. Fortunately, Neeson had the foresight to bring a high-tech sock phone along with him, so he can get in touch with Kim. What follows afterward makes no goddamn sense at all. Neeson orders Kim to throw grenades across the rooftops of Istanbul, (obviously, civilian safety is not a high priority) and listen for the sounds of explosions, so he can triangulate his location over the telephone. Um… yeah.

Please let this be the plot of Taken 3.

Eventually, Neeson breaks free and wreaks havoc all over the bad guys. He shoots them, blows them up, and punches them to death. The editing is absolutely godawful. But it had to be in order to cover up Neeson’s inability to fight, and his obvious arthritic physical condition. The car chase is mind-blowingly retarded, as well. And let’s not forget how Neeson leaves his ex-wife laying around, unconscious somewhere in Turkey, while he goes on a rampage. The acting, story, and, pretty much everything in this entire movie, were atrocious. Seriously, what the fuck were they thinking? I suppose I should ask what was director Olivier Megaton thinking? Megaton? Well, at least the movie lived up to his name, as this was a fucking bomb.

Unfortunately, with a budget of $45 million and a box office of $365 million, there is bound to be a Taken 3. Perhaps this time, they can take Liam Neeson’s dignity. Although, I doubt he’ll want it back.

Verdict: Shitty

Hustle & Flow

“Is the part where I rap?”

Despite Marvel’s insistence that Terrence Howard is “difficult to work with,” the guy manages to find a lot of work. A highlight of his filmography is the 2005 film Hustle & Flow. No, it’s not your typical “rapper” movie, and no, it’s not your typical bullshit Hollywood “rags to riches” film, either.

Howard plays a small-time pimp named D-Jay. Yeah, he’s seriously small-time. Only three-hoes on his roster small-time. Regardless, he’s out on the streets every day, busting his ass in the Memphis heat, trying to make a living. The movie is quick to show us that being a pimp isn’t glamorous at all. It’s a lousy, dirty, poor business. For some reason, all those rap songs about the awesomeness of being a pimp doesn’t seem to be true at all! Shocking, I know.

A chance encounter leads D-Jay to believe that he might have what it takes to become a rapper. He works on his flows, mostly centered around his shitty life, and his struggles to pay the rent as a small-timer. Once he hits the recording studio, we are treated to three big musical numbers, each better than the last. The best of them all, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” won an Academy Award. No shit. The Academy is into pimps. I had no idea.

“I get hard in my pants as a pimp.”

Unlike typical Hollywood drek, everything isn’t all sunshine and roses for D-Jay. His promising career takes an abrupt detour when he tries to get a legitimate rap-star to listen to his demo tape. By the fim’s conclusion, D-Jay hasn’t made it much farther out of his previously bleak situation. The ending is bittersweet in a way, but does leave the viewer with a sense of hope.

The acting in this movie is great. Everyone turns in a fantastic performance, especially Howard, who also performed all the raps. Even Taraji P. Henson, who I normally don’t like, was excellent. The raps themselves are cool. It’s impossible to listen to them and not have a big smile on your face. The movie is mostly a drama, but there are a few moments of levity here and there to lighten things up a bit.

Hustle & Flow is a great movie, and one that deserves to be seen by a wider audience. You don’t have to like rap to enjoy this movie. It isn’t about that. It’s a fascinating character study about the struggle of getting out of the hood. It’s about trying your hardest to rise out of terrible circumstances. After all, it’s hard out here for a pimp.

Verdict: Awesome

21
Jun
13

Haywire, Louie Season 2

Haywire

She looks better with her hair covering her face.

What do you get when you cross Ocean’s 11 with The Bourne Identity? A steaming pile of shit, that’s what. This 2011 movie was written by Lem Dobbs whose previous work included such gems as Dark City. It’s directed by Steven Soderbergh who filmed the aforementioned Ocean’s movies. Haywire is about a beautiful female spy (is there any other kind?) who gets betrayed on a mission and has to go on the run. 90% of the screentime is dedicated to Mallory (played by Gina Carano) avoiding capture by spies or police. At times she must outwit them, and other times she must beat the crap out of people. This is exactly what happens in all the Bourne movies. The espionage angle and the fights are portrayed realistically, just like in the Bourne movies. However, unlike the Bourne movies, this movie eschews madcap pacing necessary to build tension and keep viewers interested. Haywire insists on being slow and methodical, even during chase scenes. Mallory doesn’t seem particularly in a hurry even though everyone wants to kill her. For example, after she kills the man who was supposed to assassinate her, she takes a shower, does her makeup, and makes a phone call before vacating the premesis.

Carano, a former martial artist turned actor, is headlining in her first major motion picture. Her acting, as expected, is just as good as any former martial artist turned actor: shitty. You could easily replace her with Chuck Norris or Steven Seagal, and get the same caliber of wooden line delivery. The only difference is that Carano has a pair of tits, so I suppose that makes her better than those other guys. Soderbergh does a terrible job directing. Clearly, he wishes he had been a movie director in the 1970s. All the framings, the zoom-ins and zoom-outs, random use of black and white, and weird lens filters scream 1970s. Hey, guess what, Soderbergh? We aren’t living in the 1970s. Get over it. You can’t make a Bourne movie and film it like an Ocean’s movie. It just doesn’t work.

Haywire happens to have a pretty good cast, including Awesomely Shitty favorite Michael F. Assbender, Channing “C-Tates” Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Douglas. Sadly, the good actors (Douglas and Banderas) get the least amount of screen time possible. The majority of the film is taken up by the people who suck at acting, namely Carano and C-Tates. Lastly, the story is goddamn retarded. The double-cross against Mallory makes no sense. If the bad guys hadn’t involved her in the first place, their plan would have totally worked. Let’s not forget how Mallory, who is a fucking spy, has a bad case of verbal diarrhea, spilling the entire events of the movie to a hostage who looks like the poor man’s version of James McAvoy. Why did she do that? It is a narrative device, obviously, but they could have just as easily told the story through a flashback, and not made Mallory look so stupid. All in all, this movie sucks ass. The lethargic pacing, the crappy acting, the faux-70s directing, and the fact that Soderbergh just can’t handle the material all make this movie a big ole turd.

Verdict: Shitty

Louie Season 2

Louie doesn’t look too thrilled to have his own TV show.

The second season of Louie continues the harsh, honest, and hilarious look at the titular comedian’s life. After watching two seasons of the show, I realize that it doesn’t really conform to the typical narrative structure you see anywhere else. It is mostly a series of vignettes in the life of Louis C.K. If anything, you could say it is a bunch of disconnected short stories that can be pretty horrifying, but Louis somehow manages to extract humor from them. Although the first season was amazing, I think the second season was consistently better. Every episode was memorable, or at least had memorable parts. The two highlights for me were the episode where Louis meets comedian Dane Cook and they talk about Cook having been accused of stealing Louis’ jokes, and the hour-long episode where Louis inadvertently takes a duckling to Afghanistan while performing a few USO shows for the troops. Incredibly, the show manages to be extremely high quality with Louis taking on acting, writing, directing, producing, and editing duties. If he isn’t a one-man production team, then I don’t know what is. Season 2 continues the greatness of the first, and is highly recommended.

Verdict: Awesome

14
Jun
13

Superman I & II

Superman: The Movie

“Here I come to save the daaayyyy!”

Superman: I’m here to fight for truth, justice, and the American way.

I realize it’s nerd blasphemy to speak ill of the original Superman movies, but I don’t really care. The fact is, despite how much we all love Superman as a character, his movies have always blown cock. The biggest problem is these come from an era before superhero films treated their source material with respect. As far as I can tell, the first superhero movies to take their characters seriously were Blade in 1998 and X-Men in 2000. Prior to that, the main goals of superhero movies were to ramp up the cheese factor and sell as many toys as possible. The problem with Superman I is it’s campy as hell, and appears to be loving every minute of it. That might work in a non-superhero B-movie, but in a movie starring one of the world’s most famous superheroes, it becomes a detriment.

So, yeah, the movie is incredibly cheesy. The dialog is horrendous, and the acting is atrocious. People deliver their lines like they are reading for a high school play. There are numerous stupid visual gags. Perhaps worst of all is that Lex Luthor, the villain, is treated more like a comic relief than a menacing threat. When your movie doesn’t even have a worthy villain, there isn’t a lot for your superhero to fight against.

Continue reading ‘Superman I & II’

07
Jun
13

Steins;Gate, Black Rock Shooter TV

Steins;Gate

Why are these stupid assholes in outer space?

Steins;Gate is a completely forgettable anime which, naturally, has almost universal acclaim as a “Masterpiece.” I’m not sure why, because it’s anything but a masterpiece. Piece of trash? Sure. Piece of crap? OK. Piece of cliche story recycled from better ones? Definitely. This show is about time travel. But it’s not really about time travel. It’s about moe bullshit. It likes to showcase cutesy girls and cutesy boys who look, talk, and act like girls in the most annoying fashion possible. The main character (who holds the trademark on the most grating laugh of all time) is constantly travelling back in time in 3-day intervals in order to prevent the death of his friend. In doing so, he fucks up things more and must do even more travelling to right the wrongs he caused. It’s a good concept when executed well. However, in this anime, it serves mostly as a method of showing the same crap over and over again, and letting us listen to girls who talk like cats in maid cafes. I’ll admit there were a couple of riveting episodes (number 13 comes to mind), but there was nowhere near enough material to last 24 episodes. This could have been great as a 2-hour movie, but since this is Japanese anime, they stretched it out to something bloated and not recognizable as good. A single day after I finished this series, I tried to remember how it concluded, but I couldn’t. It was so bland, so flat, that I couldn’t remember what happened one fucking day later. If that’s not a testament to mediocrity, I don’t know what is.

Verdict: Bad

Black Rock Shooter TV

At least she’s a hot alter-ego, right?

I complain about anime being too long so often it has almost become a mantra. In Black Rock Shooter’s case, they didn’t make the show unnecessarily long. At only 8 episodes, it is the perfect length to tell a compelling narrative and then conclude without pointless tangents. Unfortunately, Black Rock Shooter doesn’t have a compelling narrative to tell. It is a travesty, an insult to good story-telling. This is a school-age drama with cute girls homolusting after each other in the way they could only do in a Japanese anime. Simultaneously, we see a fantasy setting with the same girls blasting each other with high-tech weaponry and coming off without a scratch in the way they could only do in a Japanese anime. We learn that these are some kind of mysterious alter-egos of the main characters, living in an alternate dimension or something, and the reason they fight is because the real world people are sad. If their fantasy counterparts die, then the real world people become happy again. Black Rock Shooter kills all her friends in order to make their counterparts happy. Ummm… sure, why not? The grasp this anime has on logic is tenuous at best. The action scenes are cool to watch, but other than that, it has nothing else to offer. Unless, of course, you like shitty acting and shitty storytelling.

Verdict: Shitty




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