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Monday, December 29, 2014

The Interview (2014)

WAR
The Interview -War

There is something to be said about a film that pretty much destroys the trust and security of a movie studio, single-handedly starts a cyber war, and draws the ire of all social media outlets where everyone is suddenly a film critic and each have the best review, "well, it sucks because it sucks." I've always been a huge fan of those types of reviews. "The Interview" is that film and is by far the most polarizing "thing" to happen this year, besides maybe Kim Kardashian's "Paper Chase." Who'd of thought that a stoner comedy, at heart, would cause mass hysteria the likes that haven't been seen since, well, ever.

Out story begins with Dave Skylark and Aaron Rapoport, James Franco and Seth Rogen respectively, who host and produce "Skylark Tonight" a celebrity-trash interview show. After 1,000 episodes, Aaron is looking for something a little more meaningful in his journalistic career. As luck would have it, North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un is a huge fan of Skylark's show, as well as "The Big Bang Theory." Feeling that this could be their big break to be taken serious, the duo setup an interview to take place in Pyongyang where Skylark will interview Jong-un. Upon catching wind of their impending interview, the CIA gets wind and wants in on the action, namely seizing the chance to kill the North Korean despot. Dave and Aaron travel to North Korea, and needless to say, hijinks ensue that include dick and fart jokes, while tossing in stereotypical stoner humor with a dash of "wink-wink-nod-nod" movie reference references.

The simple take away from "The Interview" is this; if you like "Pineapple Express" "This is the End" "Neighbors" or anything else that is within the Judd Apatow inner circle, you will enjoy "The Interview," it's that simple. Will this film get ripper apart by critics and the Internet? Of course it will. One, mainly because critics who sit in their ivory tower find it incredibly difficult to understand why a film like this would be a political touchstone. I mean, for a little bit there, it seemed like World War III was imminent. Critics hate when something takes over the consciousness of a people when it clearly shouldn't. Add in the pile on of Internet trolls who say the movie sucks, because well, the movie sucks to them, and you have the bait set for a film to become something that runs in a 24 hour news cycle days on end. Guess what people, you just got trolled by Franco and Rogen. If you didn't think this is the response they wanted, well, you need to get your head examined.

Sure, the film has plot holes, underwritten characters, is about 25-30 minutes too long, and has large gaps of just uselessness, but would you expect anything less? With that being said, I was never bored, I laughed throughout much of the film, and you can't deny the fact that Franco and Rogen like making films together and see film as fun and not just something that needs to be respected and cherished, and worst of all, a landmark event. Christ, the film is about two bumblers trying to save the world from a 3rd-world dictator, is there anything more ridiculous than that?

So, is "The Interview" worth the hype? Not at all, its a typical comedy in the Apatow vein that most people should be very familiar with. Is it a bad movie and does it "suck?" Of course not, it's very funny, absurd, and has plenty of quotable lines. Unfortunately, the film will be better remembered for the "war" it started, which when I think about it, maybe isn't such a bad thing after all.

Fun Fact:There is nothing fun about North Korea.....

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Simplistic Reviews 2014 Year End Wrap Up Show (Ep. 35)

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY




You thought you might have heard the last of us this year.......uh, uh, uh.  The Best...The Worst...The Most Anticipated...And More!  The boys at Simplistic Reviews close off 2014 with a conversation about the best and worst films of the year. They also take a look into the future and geek out about their most anticipated films of 2015. Justin begs for movies in the future to make him laugh, Matt admits to having a thing for maniacs, DJ’s blood pressure spikes when talking about his most hated film, Julie makes an insensitive joke about North Korea, which more than likely prompts the site’s eventual hacking.  Download and listen...while you can.


NOTES
Sigmund Freud Joke Explanation
We Gotta Get Outta This Place by The Animals...OUR NEW 2015 CLOSING THEME SONG!

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine - Jingle All the Way

GOOFY FUN

It is the holiday season and I bet you in the mood for something snowy and action packed. Am I right? Well all aboard the “Action Movie Time Machine” as we’ll be jingling all the way to some mid ‘90s holiday fun.

Hey! Quit your bitchin’, it’s got Arnold in it. Oh okay, if you are looking for a serious action flick that takes place during the holidays, you might want to check out “Long Kiss Goodnight” starring Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson. But of course there is always “Die Hard”.

The year is 1996. The “Macarena” was a suicide educing dance craze that was storming the nation. It helped some forget the death of rapper Tupac. The “Uni-Bomber” was brought to justice, and the Nintendo 64 made it’s debut.

THE SKINNY
Our tale begins with Howard Langston, Arnold Schwarzenegger, an overworked executive who has made a bad habit of putting his job before his wife and son, Liz and Jamie. Howard recently forgot to go to his Jamie’s karate exhibition and now it’s the last stray. If Howard screws up one more time, he’ll lose them both for sure.
And just such an opportunity presents itself with Christmas. Liz told Howard months ago that he should pick up the wildly popular “Turbo Man” action figure for their son. “Turbo Man” is the new “Tickle Me Elmo” , every kid wants one, even Jamie, Jake Lloyd. Turbo Man is his favorite thing in the whole world. It goes without saying that Howard forgets to buy the toy, and the rest of the film is Howard frantically fumbling around like a man-baby trying not to disappoint his son.

The problem is that Howard isn’t the only one on the hunt for a Turbo Man. While at the local mall, traversing the waves of fat, last minute, toy hungry shoppers, he encounters Myron, Sinbad, a postal worker also on the hunt for Turbo Man. Howard and Myron compete against each other to land themselves a Turbo Man in time for Christmas. Hijinx ensue and neither man has their toy.
This lands Howard in the back of a warehouse looking to buy a “hot” Turbo Man from an underground league of hired Santas lead by “Mall Santa“, Jim Belushi. When Howard realizes that he’s being ripped off, he calls ‘em on it and a fight breaks out between Howard and “Huge Santa” played by Paul “The Big Show” Wight. Hijinx ensue and again, Howard is without the toy. There is also a tiny Santa played by Vern Troyer. “Jingle All the Way” is a regular Who’s Who.

Some other hijinx ensue that involve bombing a radio station, setting a neighbor’s house on fire and punching a reindeer in the face, then getting it hammered. Every word I just said is 100% true.

 

Liz and Jamie head downtown to watch the annual holiday parade with their neighbor Ted, Phil Hartman, and his son. Howard known that Ted is a bit of a Casanova, and when he sees them leave together he suspects the worst. Also, Howard knows that there will be a Turbo Man giveaway. He has to act quick if he’s going to save Christmas, as well as his family.

Once Howard arrives he is spotted by parade staff and is mistaken for the actor who will be donning the Turbo Man costume for the parade, and is quickly packed into the suit.
Howard does a pretty good job playing the part, even performing with other Turbo Man characters, until Myron shows up dressed as Turbo Man’s arch nemesis, Dementor. The rest of the film plays out like a plot from an old superhero serial. Dementor holds Jamie ransom until his demands of a Turbo Man toy are met, and Turbo Man uses his jet pack to rescue Jamie, vanquish Dementor and save the day.

In the end, Howard had to become his son’s real life hero in order to earn his love. The End.

THE VERDICT
Well, that’s “Jingle All the Way”. It wouldn’t otherwise warrant an “Action Movie Time Machine” review, since it is a family film. A goofy one at that. But it is fun. It falls somewhere between it’s so bad it’s good and genuinely funny. Which is a strange way to describe it. The comedy isn’t strong, typical for a family film, but there are also some comedic gems hidden here and there.

It follows the standard formula of; A protagonist who is work obsessed and neglects his family. Something external forces this dummy to re-evaluate his priorities and apply himself. In this case it is his wife and son. Along the way hijinx ensue. This formula is the only way television execs make sit-coms anymore. And that’s why shows like “According to Jim” suck so hard.

What makes this film worth watching is all the “other stuff“. Seeing Schwarzenegger in his prime, acting like such a goof is a lot of fun. Almost as much fun as “Last Action Hero”. Playing the sit-com formula for slapstick laughs, juxtaposed against his bullet riddled and blood drenched career, for some reason, brings me joy.

Phil Hartman is the shit. It’s a shame there wasn’t more room for him in this film. He is a total highlight. Everything he has ever done is hilarious. The Pee-Wee Herman Show, News Radio, The Simpsons, SNL -- all gold! Sinbad isn’t half bad either. A lot of his postal worker traits and comments flew under the radar when I saw this as a kid, but as an adult, I caught every perverted and insane one of the.

The  stuff I don’t like so much about “Jingle All the Way”, like the big headed annoying kid and the stereotypical force family feelings, are easy to overlook. After all, it’s a holiday picture. There aren’t too many of them out there that stray from family feelings this time of year. And ya gotta love a movie with superheroes, even if they’re made up.

One other quick thing I like about “Jingle All the Way” is the toys. When Arnold is running around the mall you get to see all kinds of now vintage toys on the shelves. Oh the nostalgia. This is also a fun game to play while watching “Silent Night, Deadly Night”, a not so family friendly holiday movie.
So if you’re in the mood for something different -- something you can watch with the kiddies, “Jingle All the Way” is for you.

I’m Cory Carr and this concludes another trip on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Until next time, Happy Holidays Punk!

For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Boyhood

TIMELINE
Boyhood - Timeline

Out of the three of us here on the site, I might be the most pessimistic when it comes to most things, Justin running a close second, and DJ bringing up the rear, as per usual. However, there are times when I watch a film, see a news nugget, or have a discussion with someone where my faith in people and humanity is slightly restored, if only for a moment. That moment came recently after watching "Boyhood;" boom, faith restored. While "Boyhood" might not be my number one film of the year, it's right on the cusp of that designation, and only now after watching it do I understand why this film is so important to so many people, but also an important milestone for film-making. It's a timeline of events that leads to something incredible and noteworthy and while the plot and storyline is something we've seen in several coming-of-age films, there is something special and endearing to behold about a film 12 years in the making, and in a landscape where everything is on Twitter and the Internet ruins everything, it's even more a wonder to only discover that "Boyhood" was actually a thing only prior to it's theatrical release.

The long and short of "Boyhood" is the journey of a boy named Mason, who we first see as a five year old kid in Texas, to a 18-year old man. On paper its a rather mundane story, but it's something that everyone can relate to. It's the small things in life that make you the person you grow into, no matter how important or how inconsequential. Along the way we also follow Mason's older sister, Samantha, played by Lorelei Linklater, his mom, played by Patricia Arquette, and his dad, played by Ethan Hawke.

Trying to break this film down simply is an injustice to "Boyhood." While the storyline isn't life changing and at it's base, the characters are simple to say the least...well...that's life. That is exactly what life is for the most part; simple, mixed with complicated choices. The journey that we go on with Mason is probably not that all uncommon. Many of us have gone though the pain and confusion of a divorce, having their parent remarry, the first day of junior high, the first note passed to you in class, your first camping trip with your dad, the list can go on and on, and the beauty of "Boyhood" is that we've all had a moment in this film that we can look back and remember, and some of those moments have shaped our lives.

Aside from identifying with moments in the film, the biggest risk/accomplishment for "Boyhood" is the time it took to make this film a reality. My first reaction to the trailer was disbelief; I couldn't believe the balls on Richard Linklater. Really, 12 years to make one film? This has to be a troll. How was this not on my radar, or pretty much anyone's radar. Usually if a film is 13 years in the making, people would have heard or spoken about it at some point. The other major point is the risk of filming for over a decade. What if any of the actors died? What if Linklater died? The gumption and balls to film for so long when in life nothing is certain, is a testament to this film, and literally the whole point. Nothing is life is certain, and even the ending line of the film, "Maybe the day seizes you" is a much better way of looking at life that has been hijacked by the YOLO generation and people's belief that you should seize the day.

"Boyhood" in my opinion, is the film of the decade. I dare there to be another film that not only captures childhood, adolescent, and early adulthood memories the way that this film does. While the film does clock in at nearly 3 hours, to be honest I could have watched a 7 hour cut and been fully engrossed. It's like the times when I would watch home movies with my dad of the family trip we took to North Carolina in 1992, or when I graduated the 6th grade and won and award, or graduating college, and of course getting married. Your experiences and memories are all you have at the end of the day, and "Boyhood" is the film that should stay with you for a long time and help you remember those little things that make you the person you are today.

Fun Fact: Had Richard Linklater died during the 12-year shoot, Ethan Hawke would have taken over the directorial duties.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine - Fantastic Four (1994)

Half Hearted

Our journey thru Marvel’s superhero flops of yester-year is nearly over. I’ve saved the best for last. Or, the worst for last. The most notorious comic based movie to ever be made -- the Roger Corman produced “Fantastic Four” film from 1994. All aboard the “Action Movie Time Machine” as we will be crossing thru the Van Allen Belt with our final destination being the Marvel Universe.

The year is 1994. A wonderful thing came in the form of a bra. Jackie O., Kurt Cobain, Nicole Brown and Mufasa all passed away. And Sony released the Playstation.

THE SKINNY
The film begins with Reed Richards and Victor Von Doom. College students who are working together to build a device…that does, something. With it they are going to be able to…do something… Anyhow, this is only important because “Colossus”, an interstellar anomaly, is passing through the Earth’s Van Allen Belt. As the two men get ready to use their device in time with the arrival of the Colossus, the machine receives a surge of space energy that directly blasts Von Doom, killing him. Or so we think.

By the way, the Van Allen Belt is a layer of charged particles that is held in place around a planet by it’s magnetic field. Ya know that force you feel when you put two repelling magnets together? Well imagine teeny-tiny, nearly invisible particles trapped in that force. If I’m not mistaken, the Aurora Borealis is when some of these particles make their way through the belt and into the Earth’s atmosphere, generating a light show. But how would I know?

Now, ten years later, Reed Richards has become a top notch physicist who is recruiting a group to accompany him on a space launch. The craft, he designed and built himself, but he needs the help of Ben Grimm to pilot the craft, and Sue & Johnny Storm.

The mission is to observe and record information on the Colossus, which is making a return visit. To protect themselves from the same energy blasts that took the life of Doom, Richards has found a way to use a very rare diamond to absorb and deflect the energy. This is some high-tech stuff huh? The problem with that is that a jewel thief, known as the Jeweler, stole it in the night and replaced it with a fake.

Once in space, the four are bombarded with cosmic energy and are blown back to the Earth’s surface. The four have become fantastic. Reed can stretch like a rubber band, Sue can turn invisible, Johnny can wield flame and Ben has slowly turned into a rock monster.
As the Fantastic Four try to understand what has happened, a metal masked madman known as Dr. Doom begins to scheme. He sends his henchmen out to retrieve Reed and the group, disguised as U.S. military. He then has a crack scientist run tests on the four in an attempt to discover the key to their transformation. Once this secret is known, Doom will have the same done to himself and he will become all powerful. Once the fantastic four realize what is happening, they use their newly found powers to escape Doom’s facility.

Doom now moves on to another part of his plan. He pays the Jeweler a little visit and retrieves the stolen diamond that he will use to power a laser called “Cyclops“. Another reference to X-Men. Once operational, Doom will use the laser to level New York. Then he’ll exact his revenge against Reed and his friends. Revenge? Doom feels they are the ones to blame for his accident at the beginning of the film. Why? Who knows. Who cares. But in doing so, Doom will steal the powers of the Fantastic Four.
As a side note, I just have to share a real gem from Doom. He arrives in the Jeweler’s lair and demands the diamond. The Jeweler points a gun at a young woman’s head, telling Doom that if he touches the diamond, the girl dies. To which Doom replies; “…so.”. LOL The Jeweler doesn’t know who he’s messing with.
 
In classic movie villain style, Doom finds a way to explain his entire plan to the Fantastic Four, as if they wouldn’t try to stop him. Reed and his team fly to Doom’s castle, where Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman and the Thing kick his ass. New York is saved from the laser attack by the Human Torch, who can apparently, fly faster than light. The movie ends with wedding of Sue and Reed. Just like the comic, and just like the 2005 film.

THE VERDICT
As I have during that past few “Retro Super Hero Flicks”, allow me to do some explaining before I share my thoughts.

“The Fantastic Four” was never meant to be good. It wasn’t even meant to be released. Of course the cast didn’t know that. Marvel had sold the rights of the “Fantastic Four” name and characters to a production company. When this happens, that ownership is temporary. If the film isn’t made, the contract expires and the production company loses access to those properties.

This is what was going to happen, and to prevent it from happening Roger Corman was contacted, “The Fantastic Four” film was given the green light and a measly one million dollar budget was allocated. Sounds like a lot, but in movie terms it’s chump change.

With a “FF” film in the can the production company would then have more time to develop the property into something profitable. Something good.

The story, while simple and honest to the comic, can be a bit confusing at times. Dr. Doom is the king of his own country with all kinds of power and resources, but yet he is hell-bent on seeking revenge for the accident that almost killed him. Which wasn’t even the fault of anyone in Reed’s group. Why Dr. Doom? Why are you doing this? If anything, I could make the argument that his accident has made his life better.

The acting is par for the course for such a low budget film, as are the special effects. Goofy and cheap, but not embarrassing to watch.

My main problem with this film is that it sticks too closely to the original comic book. Sure there are differences here and there, like the motivations of Victor Von Doom that lead up to his “death”. But rather, the tone and visuals of the original comic book are too strong. Watching this is like reading the comic from the ‘60s. Being made and set in the early ’90s just isn’t believable with such a strong ‘60s identity.

Just imagine if Warner Brothers took the ‘60s “Batman” television show and re-made it for the ‘90s… Oh wait, that happened. It was called “Batman & Robin”. “The Fantastic Four” is just like “Batman & Robin” but with a fraction of the budget and no one making the film tried to have fun while they were doing it.

Again, this film wasn’t made to be good. Or even to be seen for that matter. It was simply made to be made and nothing more. So I honestly can’t crap on it too hard. It could have been made even less well and that would have been enough to satisfy the studio.
 
It’s an interesting oddity in film history that isn’t for everyone. But I feel that it’s a must see for every comic book fan boy. At least once. It’s tough to find in the wild but has been uploaded several times on Youtube. Check it out. It’s funny to see similarities between this and the 2005 film.

I’m Cory Carr and this concludes another trip on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Until next time, Semper Fi Punk!

For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Under the Skin



Under the Skin - Alien

Sometimes I simply find it difficult to preface a film. So without further ado I'll jump right into it. "Under the Skin" is one of those films that defies preconceptions and to be honest with you, just might be one of those films that will surprise many, if said many are willing to give it a chance and really try to understand an alien concept; a woman who is willing to sleep with a man from Scotland.....(I kid, I kid).

"Skin" is the story of a mysterious woman, played seductively and as sultry as ever by Scarlett Johansson. She drives a van, lures men into said van, and leads them to their doom. She is followed by a duo of mysterious motorcyclists who seem to clean up whatever mess she leaves behind. Things start to spin a little out of control after one of her encounters has her letting loose one of her quarries and going on the run. This is where they say, "the plot thickens."

To go any further would be to do a disservice to the rest of the film, and going cold into "Skin" is one of the best things that you could do for this film. Director Jonathan Glazer, best known for "Sexy Beast" combines the best of art house cinema with trippy effects to create an engrossing, thinking-persons, science fiction weird-fest. What also stands out is the excellent score by Mica Levy, which plays like combination of Radiohead, Aphex Twin, and Wendy Carlos.

What I think has been missing from sci-fi flicks for a while is the notion that a setting needs to actually be alien, or cosmic, in order to make it a real sci-fi film. What I think is the most underrated aspect of "Skin" is the fact that the film takes place in Scotland. Let's be honest, how much do we all really know about that land of Scotland outside of "Highlander" and Sean Connery. The landscapes and dialect almost become a character in and of itself and add a wrinkle to the story you wouldn't expect.

Now the elephant in the room; the performance of Johansson, and I'm not just talking about her acting ability. One of the things that got a lot of attention leading up to the release of this film was the fact that Johannson shed all of her clothes for the role. While it's nothing new for well-known actresses to ditch the clothes and show the goods, it's a tad more newsworthy considering we are talking about an actress known for playing Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, her disrobing shouldn't take away from her simple, yet effective performance. Most of her acting isn't done through dialogue, but rather her movements and body language, and I might go as far as saying this is her best performance to date.

Another misconception is that "Skin" is simply a "Species" rip-off with stronger feminist undertones. Yes, on paper the fact that you have a mysterious women seeking men out and later dispatching them is pretty "Species"-like, but the comparisons can stop there. "Skin" features a very strong female character whose intentions aren't truly discovered until close to the start of the third act, and even at that point we see that character's intentions shift after a chance encounter with a specific character she picks up and is ready to dispatch. However, while I do enjoy the power that Johansson wields over her quarry, the third act flips the script and changes who may or may not be in control. I know some of this sounds cryptic, and that is the point. My intention is to entice you to watch a film that is certainly worthy of your attention and is an interesting take on male/female relations and interactions.

So, with that being said; should you see "Under the Skin?" See above please, of course you should. It's one of the most original sci-fi films in quite a while, with a daring performance by Scarlett Johansson and some of the most "alien" cinematography of 2014. Sure we've gone to the far-reaches of the Marvel Universe, Earth under the rule of talking Apes, and even traveled back into Biblical-times on an ark, but the way Glazer created a practically alien world out of something that exists on Earth hasn't been done since Peter Jackson created Middle-Earth with the help of New Zealand.

Fun Fact: In 1979, Robert Taylor claimed to have been nearly abducted by aliens in Dechmont Law in Livington, West Lothian, Scotland in what has been called the Dechmont Law Encounter.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast (Ep. 34): December 2014 Holiday Edition


FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY


Ho-Ho-Holy Sh%t!   It's December again and the boys at Simplistic Reviews has a show full of holiday cheer.  They've got partridges...pear trees....dreidels...Santa letters/threats...Olaf the snowman from Frozen...black stormtroopers...Kevin Feige: Stand-Up Comedian...megalomaniac Mickey Mouse...holiday movie spoilers...all that and more on the 2014 Holiday Edition of the Simplistic Reviews Podcast.


Show Notes:
Star Wars Trailer
Suicide Squad Casting
Spectre
Stand-Up Comedian from the 80s Fashion


Music Notes:
Christmas Is All Around Us By Billy Mack
My Flows is Tight By Lord Digga
Christmas Vacation By Mavis Staples
Christmas Time Is Here By The Vince Guaraldi Trio 


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Monday, December 8, 2014

Enemy

SURREAL
Enemy - Surreal

Gearing up for the end of the year, it's interesting to watch so many films in a short period of time. While 2013, was a bit of a stinker for film, it seems that there has been a minor Renaissance in the indie film genre where big actors, which isn't a huge surprise, are taking more risk on small films. Of course it's hyperbole for me to think that big actors never take chances on small film, but with the "big name actor" being replaced with more "well-known" and "character actors" it's great that the embrace of indie film is alive and well, especially out of the A24 Films. This has been somewhat of a banner year for A24. Following great reception for films like "The Spectacular Now" and "Spring Breakers" in 2013, 2014 has featured a wider assortment of film including "Enemy;" a surreal ride into, well, I'm still not really sure, but it's a ride that should be worth your time if your a fan of whatever "Enemy" actually is.

Adam, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is a history teacher in Toronto, Ontario, Canada who lives a rather mundane wife, outside of his late night sex romps with his girlfriend Mary. Upon the suggestion of one of his colleagues, Adam watches the film "When there is a will, there is a way." While watching, Adam notices one of the actors looks like him, Upon further review, Adam discovers the actor looks exactly like him and his obsession begins. This is where I'll leave the synopsis, because half of what makes "Enemy" intriguing is the lengths that Adam goes to find his doppelganger, and figure out what is and isn't real.

The one word that you will hear a lot of people blurt out when it comes to "Enemy" will be "mindfu*k." Yes, "Enemy" is a bit of a mindfu*k especially when it comes to two scenes specifically with spiders involved. That is where the film takes that surreal turn that will either engross you further into the film, or will completely disconnect you. However, upon further inspection of the film, the use of arachnid imagery, and/or spiders and webs, is a major theme throughout.

Gyllenhaal's performance, as usual, is both creepy and wonderful. He has the "boy next door/psycho next door" act down and plays it up as both Adam, the milquetoast history teacher, and Anthony, the third-rate actor, very well. While not as great and effective as his turn as Lou Bloom in "Nightcrawler" Gyllenhaal's performance will still go down as the best performance this year by an actor playing multiple roles in the same film, sorry Jesse Eisenberg.

All in all, "Enemy" is an interesting take on duality, and the id, ego, and superego. The performance of Gyllenhaal sells the film, and the use of the city, it's landscapes and "web-like" infrastructce gives the film an added layer.

Fun Fact: "Enemy" is based on the 2002 novel "The Double" by Jose Saramago.

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine - Spider-Man (1977)

SSLLOOWW


First, Reb Brown as Captain America, and now “The Amazing Spider-Man”. Don’t get your hopes up, there is no Emma Stone to be found here.

The year is 1977. A sensation known as “Star Wars” is storming the galaxy. The “Atari 2600” leaves “Pong” in the dust. The “Son of Sam” killer is captured and a young man from New York gets exposed to a radioactive spider in “The Amazing Spider-Man”.

THE SKINNY
The film begins, as you would expect, with college student and amateur photographer Peter Parker. One day while performing some experiment, a radioactive spider bites young Peter on the hand, and soon, he notices a change. He can climb walls and even has super human strength. Soon he invents himself a “web-slinger” device to, yadda yadda yadda. We all know the origin by now. Peter Parker becomes Spider-Man. Spider-Man saves some little old ladies and all of New York erupts into spider fever.

While this is happening, a Tony Robbins style guru named Edward Byron has been selecting prominent New Yorkers, bankers, lawyers and the like, from his life coach seminars to be his mind controlled puppets. Once under his control, Byron uses them to carry out bank robberies. To guarantee they don‘t lead the police back to him, he has them drive their get away car into the side of a building, killing themselves. 

Byron also uses these robberies/deaths as examples when he makes a fifty million dollar demand from the city. If his demand isn’t met, he will force ten citizens to kill themselves. How is he doing it? It’s a combination of hypnosis that takes place during his classes, making the subjects vulnerable. Later Byron transmits a radio signal that is picked up by a lapel pin receiver, given to them by Byron when they join the group.

Peter is assigned to photograph the remains of one of the car crash victims, Professor Noah Tyler. On location he meets Noah’s daughter, Judy Tyler, and a romance begins. As they get to know each other, Judy mentions to Peter that her father has been attending the classes of Byron. They even sit in during one of his classes. It isn’t overtly suspicious, but Peter still has his suspicions.

Things take a turn for Byron when Peter accidentally discovers how he has been transmitting the radio waves. Spider-Man follows the signal to it’s source, destroys the radio tower, apprehends Byron and saves the day for ten unlucky New Yorkers.

The film ends with Peter and Judy  walking off into the sunset together. The End.

THE VERDICT
Before I share my thoughts on “The Amazing Spider-Man”, I would like to cover a little Spider-Man television history.

This was the first live action Spider-Man with any substance. Before this there was an animated series in the late ‘60s and the occasional appearance on the children’s show “The Electric Company” during the early ‘70s.

This TV film was a “backdoor” pilot for the “Spider-Man” television show that lasted only thirteen episodes, stretched over two years. Critics, kids especially, complained that the show didn’t involve any established villains or storyline, and that the production values were lousy. Soon CBS thought they may soon be referred to as the “superhero station”, as it already had two successful series; “The Incredible Hulk” and “Wonder Woman”. In addition, they also aired two “Captain America” TV films, as well as a “Dr. Strange” TV film. Because of all this, CBS pulled the plug on “Spider-Man”.

While this was going on in the states, Toei, a Japanese production company, was producing a “Spider-Man” show of their own. We all know how things in Japan can get a little strange. Well, the Japanese “Spider-Man” is a motorcycle racer who gets his spider powers from a special suit that alters him genetically when he wears it. This ran for a total of forty-one episodes and came complete with giant robots and the hit song “Spider-Man Boogie”. That’s Japan for ya.

So, what do I think about “The Amazing Spider-Man”? It’s not very good. I find that my complains about the film are the same complaints fans had back in the ‘70s. There aren’t enough comic based characters and the special effects are cheap and unimpressive. Instead of Byron, the villain could easily have been The King Pin who employs some hypnotist lackey to carry out a similar plan. This could have been an easy way to shoehorn more Marvel Universe into the film.

Peter Parker never became comfortable in his spider skin. I miss the cocky, wise cracking Peter from the comics, cartoons and later films.

I understand there was no CGI in the ‘70s. Cheap special effects are something that I could otherwise overlook. Especially when they are forty years old. But, there is just SO MUCH of these effects. So much of the film is Spider-Man’s origin and him wall crawling. It makes the films drag on. “The Amazing Spider-Man” is an exorcise in patience. It has it’s charm, but it’s no wonder it was canceled after thirteen episodes.

I’m Cory Carr and this concludes another trip on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Until next time, Semper Fi Punk!

For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!



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