Month: August 2014

August 30, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine – Escape From New York

ACTION MOVIE TIME MACHINE 
“Escape From New York”

                                                CLASSIC BAD-ASSERY

Welcome back to another trek on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Last time we met, we visited some of John Carpenter’s earlier work, “Assault on Precinct 13“. This time we are going to witness Kurt Russell in one of his most bad ass roles, as Snake Plisskin. Talk about “Expendables” eligibility. It would be a shame if Sylvester Stallone over looks Russell for “Expendables 4: Return of the R Rating”.

The year is 1981. IBM had just released the first personal computer capable of running Microsoft’s Disc Operating System (DOS). MTV hits the airwaves, debuting with “Video Killed the Radio Star”. U.S. President Ronald Reagan signs the top secret directive authorizing the CIA to recruit and support Contra rebels in Nicaragua. While all this was happening, Snake Plisskin is sent to Manhattan to rescue the President in “Escape From New York”.

THE SKINNY
The year in 1997, and United States is a war torn police state. With all the crime and violence of this futuristic America, extreme measures had to be taken. New York’s Manhattan Island has been transformed into THE high security prison of the nation. Just think of Alcatraz, but on steroids. There are no cells and no guards. The prisoners are free to roam the city streets and do whatever is necessary to survive. And once you go in, there is no coming back out. The bridges are mined and the waters are patrolled and protected by the National Police Force, a para-military like group responsible for keeping convicts from escaping, by any means necessary.

This is all fine and well until a member of the “National Liberation Front”, a terrorist organization, takes over Air Force One and crash lands the plane on the prison island. The idea being that the president, if he survives, will now have to get by as the convicts do within the confines of the prison that he unlawfully created.

It is at this time that Hauk, Chief of National Police played by Lee Van Cleef, brings in the recently arrested Snake Plisskin, Kurt Russell. Snake is a former military hero who has become tired of his leaders sending him on suicide missions that he always manages to narrowly escapes. He goes AWOL and becomes a criminal. Robbing the national reserve is what gets him caught.

Fearing that the President may be harmed if there is a military rescue mission, Hauk decides to send in a loan wolf. It becomes Snakes’ mission to sneak onto the island, locate and rescue the President, Donald Pleasence, as well as the documents and cassette tape that the President has with him. Then return all of the above to Hauk. If he does, Hauk will erase Snake’s criminal record forever. If he doesn’t, he will die.

In prep for the mission, a doctor injects two micro-explosive charges into Snake’s arteries. If he isn’t back with the president in under twenty three hours, the charges will blow, rupturing Snake’s arteries and he will internally bleed to death.

Snake uses a glider to enter the island, which he lands on the roof of one of the World Trade Towers. He begins to search the city for the President and it isn’t long before he begins to realize just how fucked this place is. The city is littered with murderers and rapists, there are crazy cannibal hobos who live in the sewer who come up at night to feed, and the locals are less than pleasant to out of town motorists such as our boy Snake.

Things get tense when the cannibalistic sewer dwellers try to have Snake for dinner, but fortunately for him Cabbie, Ernest Borgnine, shows up in his taxi armed to the teeth with molotovs. Snake questions Cabbie and learns that the President is alive and has been captures by The Duke of New York, Isaac Hayes. The Duke is the supreme ruler of the prison island and is planning to use the President as leverage as he makes his way across the bridge and into the free United States.

Through the help of Cabbie, “The Brain”, the Duke’s nerdy adviser, and Maggie, The Brain’s concubine, Snake manages to get inside The Duke’s compound and is thrown into a one-on-one in a gladiatorial battle to the death against pro-wrestler Ox Baker. This offers up a good distraction, as everyone would is eager to watch the legendary Snake Plisskin take on The Duke’s undefeated monster bruiser. This distraction affords The Brain and Maggie a chance to help the President escape.

After burying a nail covered bat in the back of Baker’s head, Snake catches up with The Brain, Maggie, the President and Cabbie, and together they make it to the Brooklyn Bridge. The only thing that stands between them and the free states are the countless mines that litter the bridge. To make matters worse, The Duke and his men arrive to foil their prison break and get out themselves.

As the clock ticks away, they fall one by one. Either by the hands of the other group or by the mines. Finally Snake, The Duke and the President find the wall that blocks the far end of the bridge. Beaten and exhausted, Snake engages the final boss and it seems like a losing battle. Just when hope seems lost, the President of all people, blows The Duke away. Way to pull your own weight Mr. President.

With the President rescued and Snake’s micro-explosives are deactivated, Snake commits one final act of rebellion. Remember that cassette tape that was so important? Well, on it was an explanation of how to create nuclear fusion that the President was going to share with the world. A gesture that would end the war. Our ol’ pal Snake had other ideas. He switched the tape with one he found in Cabbie’s taxi. As the President speaks live via satellite to the entire world, swing music can be heard instead of the recipe for cheap nuclear power. Please allow me to “slow clap” for Snake as the credits begin to roll.

THE VERDICT
Movies like “Escape From New York” really became defining of the ’80s. So many films from the era were dark, dirty, violent and bleak. I love ’em! Crime was on the rise, people thought Satanic cults were sacrificing babies and there was the ever present threat of total and complete annihilation brought on by soviet nukes. It was a good time for movies, and for thrash metal.

One of the strengths of this film, is also one of it’s weaknesses. This strength/weakness is Snake’s twenty four hour time limit. Every time I watch this movie, I distract myself from it by wondering what the rest of the United States is like. It’s mentioned that the country is at war, but with who? What about other criminal factions within in island? How involved is the “National Liberation Front”?, ect… I feel that these ideas would have been explored if the story were allowed to unfold more organically. But instead, it is forced along by the deadline. This is fine, but I just wish there was more. So many things are referenced or off handily mentioned. There is a whole world here and I want to learn about it.

In “Escape From New York”, we see another one of Carpenter’s unlikely heroes facing unimaginable odds of carrying out a plan of which he is thrust into. Snake is a strong silent type, who again, manages to be relatable. An “everyman” who appeals to it’s male viewers, and even maybe a little to it’s female viewers. After all, Snake is pretty dreamy. I think every guy who watches “Escape From New York” deep down thinks of himself as Snake. Minus the eye patch.

I love how Carpenter adds elements to his characters personality or back story that hints at a deeper point. Rarely is there blatant subtext in his films. Subtext is there, but it’s more of an attitude than a message. We see this with Snake’s distrust of the government and the military. Being a former military man himself, he known how far shit rolls down hill. But there is no grand speech or parody of any real world events. Just Snake being really pissed off at the powers that be, with his cynical anti-establishment view.

I’ve always appreciated this. Carpenter’s films aren’t preachy, and because of it his viewers, whatever their personal beliefs, are free to take in the material and interpret it their own way. This sort of thing really gives his work legs and is just one example of what a great story teller John Carpenter really is.

In conclusion, I highly recommend “Escape From New York”, as it is a work of classic bad-assery. Snake is great, the story is great, the effects and miniatures are great, the atmosphere is great, and even the soundtrack is great, again. Hmm, I wonder why that is.

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

August 29, 2014

1984-A-Thon: Runaway

Before we begin I would like to thank Forgotten Films for allowing Simplistic Reviews to join this fantastic 1984-A-Thon. A lot of great reviews for the amazing year of 1984. Head over to Forgotten Films for more!

And use #84athon on twitter to keep up to date!

So what does Tom Selleck’s Mustache and a Dog sniffing robot have in common? They’re both part of a special division of the police department called the Runaway Squad that goes after Gene Simmons of KISS.

Yep that’s right there is a movie that has that and it’s called…

Runaway: Fun
1984 – Action – 99 mins

Runaway is a futuristic film staring Tom Selleck, Gene Simmons, Stan Shaw, Cynthia Rhodes and Kirstie Alley. Selleck plays a police officer that specializes in malfunctioning robots. This future robot driven world was Directed and Written by the late great Michael Crichton, who I think created a very interesting film that doesn’t get much attention. Runaway isn’t a bad film it’s extremely fun to watch and it’s a damn shame this film isn’t better known.


The Good

Tom Selleck was great in his role as Jack Ramsay. Michael Crichton takes a risk casting Kiss’s Gene Simmons as the bad guy, Charlie Luther. Simmons looks the part, his stare is fantastic. He is very menacing and in my mind knocked it out of the park. I only wish his delivering with his lines was a bit better, otherwise I was impressed. Kirstie Alley pops up for a few scenes and she was pretty good. Cynthia Rhodes did a very good job playing Selleck’s partner and love interest. It’s a shame she doesn’t act anymore I really liked her in this film.

Jerry Goldsmith comes in for music and kills it with his first pure electronic score. I really dig this film’s score and feel it works perfectly with Crichton’s vision.

Crichton does a good job directing this one. He really understood how to create suspenseful scenes. There is a scene with a robot killing family members and Crichton sets this up that makes you go to the edge of your seat. The other is when Ramsay goes up in a elevator. Ramsay is scared of heights and you can feel his pain as he makes his way up.

The Weak

For me the pacing is a little off in this film. I feel some scenes get too slow and others a bit unneeded. The writing is okay, from Crichton I would expect more. It’s not bad but every time I watch this film I get very annoyed with Selleck character’s name being thrown around. Turns out Ramsay is said 52 times which is more then once for every two minutes. I thought it was just me, but IMDB has this in their trivia so I’m not the only one that thought that apparently.

The Bad

For me the the worst part of this film is the beginning. It starts off with Selleck and his new partner, Cynthia Rhodes going after a malfunctioning farm bot that ends pretty cheesy. This beginning is very unneeded and if I had my way I’d take it out. Yes there is some foreshadowing going on in this scene but my feeling is we could of moved it to the next malfunctioning robot scene.

For anyone watching this film for the first time might start losing there attention here. The bot isn’t dangerous and is just running around. Yet the group of “male” farmers call in the police to chase it. For me these farmers could easily stopped the bot (Maybe it’s for insurance purpose, maybe) but it wasn’t dangerous. And in doing so we have this guy and girl having a Benny Hill police chase that ensues with a farm bot. Every time I watch this scene this is what I see and hear, which isn’t what you want in a dark film like this. The ending for this scene is the two officers jumping together with arms spread outward onto the bot which cuts to them carrying it with dirt and smoke covering their faces. Maybe if the robot was killing farmers and cattle I would find this a tad more interesting, but the comical chasing makes this scene weak.

All in all Runaway is a good watch. If you haven’t seen Runaway do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s a fun 80’s film to watch. It has 80’s action, 80’s boobs, 80’s Tom Selleck and Tom Selleck’s Mustache. Gene Simmons is a great bad guy and Goldsmith delivers once again on music.

Check out Forgotten Films for more of the 1984-A-Thon!

August 27, 2014

The 10 Best Superhero Films of All Time Blog Relay

We here at Simplistic Reviews are honored and happy to be apart of the Top 10 Superhero Films Blog Relay…mainly because we have this same conversation amongst ourselves nearly twice a day.  The rules are simple….well actually they aren’t.  They’re a bit more complicated and elaborate than our feeble minds are use to.  However it is all in an effort to make a rock solid, no doubt about it, objective/subjective list.  Here are the rules:

1. The list of movies will be passed to another blogger who will post their list within a week.
2. The blogger will take their list, remove 3 movies – with explanations, and replace with 3 new movies – with explanations.

3. If a movie lasts five rounds without being removed, it is locked into place.
4. If a movie is removed three different times, it is locked out and can no longer be chosen by someone else. 
5. Once four movies are locked into place, bloggers will replace 2 movies. 
6. Once eight movies are locked into place, bloggers will replace 1 movie. 
7. Once all ten movies are locked into place, the relay will be complete.

Confused yet?  Good.  Let me explain…no…there is too much.  Let me sum up.

Bubbawheat from Flights, Tights & Movie Nights began with a list of The Avengers, Batman Returns, The Dark Knight, Hellboy 2, The Incredibles, Iron Man, Spider-Man 2, Superman, X-Men,Unbreakable, Batman: Under the Red Hood & Blade 2.

Andrew from A Fistful of Films rearranged things by removing Batman: Under the Red Hood, X-Men and Hellboy 2 and adding Chronicle, Mystery Men and The Rocketeer.

Ruth from FlixChatter yanked Blade 2, Chronicle and Mystery Men, and replaced them with Batman Begins, X-Men 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Terrence from The Focused Filmographer pulled out The Incredibles, Batman Returns and X-Men 2, before adding Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, V For Vendetta and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Jay from Life Vs Film dropped Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Superman, and Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm then put back in Incredibles and X-Men 2 and finally handed the ball over to us. Whew!!!

Our criteria was based primarily on overall quality, difficulty of concept, impact on the genre, and a 10-point must system.  That last one was probably a mistake.  Lets get started with a few thoughts on the films sticking around this round.

1. The Avengers (Locked)

The Avengers because…well…duh…it’s the f%*king Avengers!  This film…hell…that moment above was thought to be just a geek fever dream that was impossible to make, let alone, work as a film.  Whedon and company made the impossible…jaw droppingly possible.  The Avengers is a manifested representation of our childhood imaginations.  What?  Too much?

2. The Dark Knight (Locked)

Chris Nolan took the skeleton of the great crime drama Heat and put Batman and The Joker in it.  Are you freakin’ kidding me?!  As a result, came one of the finest performances we have ever, and maybe, will ever see.

3. Spider-Man 2 (Locked)

Still holds up in our opinion and nails Spidey’s world, look, motivations, and characters…which is more than we can say for its two bastard stepchildren The Amazing Spider-Man 1 and 2.

4. Iron Man (Locked)

The unquestionable birth of a cinematic superhero icon.  Close your eyes and try to come up with an actor who could play Tony Stark better than RDJ did in this…NOPE…you’re wrong.

5. Unbreakable (Locked)

Hey, remember when Shyamalan was good?  Hey, remember when Bruce Willis tried?  This film explores and breaks down the mythos and archetypes of superheroes and supervillains in a way we’ve probably never even thought about. IE: It’s literally superheroes for dummies.

6. The Incredibles  

Not only is this a terrific superhero film, it is one of the best family films centered on family that Pixar has probably done.  And it is the closest we are going to get to a good Fantastic Four movie for the foreseeable future.

7. The Guardians Of The Galaxy
A movie that went from low or no expectations to exceedingly high expectations in a matter of one trailer…and it still delivered Marvel’s riskiest success yet.  It felt more like Star Wars than the last 3 Star Wars films.  That has to count for something.

8. Watchmen
Matt’s Zack Snyder hate is high, but even he cannot deny the awesomeness that is Watchmen.  Watchmen was thought to be an unfilmable masterpiece.  However, Snyder’s efforts here are the closest and truest interpretation of Alan Moore’s material we’ll ever get to see on the big screen.  Don’t think so.  Read up on what Fox wanted to do with Watchmen when they owned the property.  It’s scarier than a visit from Rorschach himself.
9. V For Vendetta
Any other time we wouldn’t consider V For Vendetta as a top film in the superhero genre, but after the events in Ferguson, MO and how Anonymous and other hacker groups have taken the mask of Guy Fawkes that or our “hero” V wears, and turned it into a symbol, this film carries even more meaning in this turbulent time. V is also another great adaptation of the works of Alan Moore and offered us a look at the future that we actually might not be that far away from.  Plus, there’s nothing wrong with seeing Natalie Portman in a baby doll dress.
10. The Rocketeer
Usually when there is no pressure and expectations are low, you get something great, case in point The Rocketeer.  Before Joe Johnston was able to bring justice back to Captain America: The First Avenger, he brought us another hero that kicked some Nazi ass.  Before we had The Shadow and The Phantom, The Rocketeer was the first big stab at creating a superhero from the days of radio serials.  From the iconic score of James Horner to the slimy turn of former James Bond, Timothy Dalton, everything works for this film.  It still captures the imagination of kids and adults because a guy flying around with a jetpack punching Nazis in the face is absolutely awesome.

Now, the superhero films we decided to substitute in are as follows.
 

11. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

We know this movie has only been out since April, but after watching it multiple times since then, we can’t possibly leave it off this list.  Captain America: The Winter Soldier is arguably the second best Marvel film ever made.  It has a hero whose righteous indignation actually feels real and earned, a black comic relief character that manages to bring charm, dignity and usefulness to a role no one expected anything from, an enjoyable and self-reliant female lead who doesn’t fall into any stereotypical or lazy love interest scenario, an actual scary villain that, which has been poetically said before, may be better at killing people than the hero is at protecting them, and has probably some of the best and grittiest action scenes of any film on this list. (Cap’ and Winter Soldier street fight fo’ life!) It’s one of the few Marvel films and superhero films that feel genuinely important to the grand scheme of its own universe while still overcoming the obstacles of an early release date, a jumping of genres, and being directed by people primarily known for comedy.

12. Batman ’89

Say what you will about Tim Burton, but there hasn’t been a better marketed movie in the past 30 years than 1989’s Batman.  It was the birth of the “Dark Knight” and made many people forget about the Bill Dozier “Batman” series from the 1960s.  Everything is iconic about this film; from the sets by Anton Furst, the score of Danny Elfman, and of course Jack Nicholson’s Joker.  Batman ’89, despite some shortcomings, created something that hadn’t been seen before in cinema and gave us a Batman we could all be proud of.

 Now, the superhero films we decided to give the chop.

Batman Begins

It’s never easy to cut a film that not only made up for the mistakes of the past but put us on course for one of the most iconic film trilogies of all time. It’s not that Batman Begins is a bad film.  Quite the contrary.  However, there is still something uneven in it tone-wise that Nolan got a better handle on in The Dark Knight.  Um…and it’s hard for us to get past the fact that the weapon created by Wayne Enterprises in Begins (Essentially a dehydration machine) is eerily similar to a weapon used in 1966’s Batman film.

X2: X-Men United

Again, another tough one to remove from the list since X2 was able to fix all of the problems with the first film and add to the X-Men mythology.  Even with Hugh Jackman giving his best turn of Wolverine and Brian Cox proving to be one of the X-Men’s greatest foes, one film had to go, and X2 is unfortunately the casualty.

In historic Olympic fashion, we are going to hand the baton over to our friends over at Insession Film to make their choices.  You have one week.  Although, we’d like to think our list is pretty close to perfection so there is no need to change absolutely anything…YOU HEAR THAT JD, BLAKE, and BRENDAN?!?  NOT A FINGER!!!!

August 23, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine: Assault on Precinct 13

SIMPLE


As promised, this weeks “Action Movie Time Machine” destination will be to that of quality! After the blunder that is “Assassins”, I had to think hard and ask myself “How can I make things right?”. Well I’ve figured out a way. I’m retro-fitting the Time Machine with my big guns. We’re taking on some of the greatest action films of all time. The films of John Carpenter!
The year was 1976. David Berkowitz earned the names “Son of Sam“ and “.44 Killer“ for attacking and killing a series of men and women. The “Laverne & Shirley” spin-off from “Happy Days” and “Bionic Woman” both debuts on ABC. The U.S. preformed nuclear tests in the Nevada desert…again…for some reason, and there was an “Assault on Precinct 13”.
THE SKINNY
The film begins with a police crackdown on gang crime. As they are investigating the disappearance of several crates of stolen automatic weapons which are in the possession of a deadly gang. Their investigation leads them to a run-in with six armed gang members who are brought to their untimely end.

Once word reaches the rest of the gang, their four Warlord leaders decide to exact their revenge on the good people of Los Angeles, as well as the LAPD.
While this plan is set in motion, Lieutenant Ethan Bishop, Austin Stoker, has just been transferred to a new department. On the first day he is assigned to watch over Precinct 13 on it’s final day of business. The precinct has been consolidated with another and all the files and personnel are being sent across town. He just has to make sure everything goes smoothly. It’s worth mentioning that Bishop and the other staff are expecting the phone and electricity to be shut off at any moment. I have a sneaking suspicion this might be important later. Call me crazy.
Meanwhile, Napoleon Wilson, Darwin Joston, is a hardened criminal who is being transferred to a maximum security prison with two other practitioners of the illegal arts. On the long buss ride, one of the men becomes violently ill and the guards make a stop at the closest precinct, Precinct 13, to have a doctor look him over.

As the day burns on the Warlords and their gang unpack their newly acquired automatic weapons and begin crusin’ the city looking for hapless victims. Who do they set their sights on first? An ice cream truck driver and the little girl he was selling ice cream too. These are some bad dudes! The girls father retaliates, hunting down one of the gang members. But soon he becomes the hunted. Exhausted and out of breath, the man falls on the steps of Precinct 13, where he takes refuge.
The gang is now out for blood. They want the man responsible for killing one of their brother and now hove the entire building surrounded.
Bishop, Napoleon & Leigh, another officer played by Laurie Zimmer, now must defend the girl’s father as well as themselves from the countless gang members as they try to infiltrate the building. The three must learn to trust each other as they fend off wave after wave of attacks without being able to phone or radio for help. Ya know, cause the phone and electricity got shut off.

In a scene that is reminiscent of “300”, the survivors hideout in a store room located at the end of a long corridor, causing the gang to bottleneck as they attack. But you see this is just part of their plan. At the end of the hall, behind the attacking gang, is a tank of acetylene. Once the gang fills the hall Napoleon holds them off while Bishop takes a shot at the tank, which he hits blowing up the gang.
While Leigh is being treated for a gunshot wound to the arm, Bishop walks Napoleon out of the building as friends. The End.
THE VERDICT
John Carpenter is a huge fan of director Howard Hawks. Growing up, he fell in love with  such Hawks films as “The Thing From Another World”, and “Rio Bravo”. These films each shared a common element. A rag-tag group of men fighting against impossible odds to survive. I can’t say that Carpenter is solely responsible for “Assault on Precinct 13”, as it is a re-imagining of “Rio Bravo”, a film about a sheriff, a drunk, a cripple and teen gunfighter who defend the local jail from waves of attackers trying to free a captured criminal.

Carpenter’s love for this type of story involving the “every day” hero is present in much of his work (“Escape from New York, They Live and Big Trouble in Little China”), and has become something that is equally enjoyable for his fans as it was for him watching the film so Hawks. The heroes seem relatable and familiar  — like people you may know — which allow them to be rooted for and 

empathized with all the more.


Speaking of which, the relationship Napoleon and Bishop have. Early on neither trusts the other, but when shit starts to hit the wall they realize that they are going to have to learn to trust each other if they are going to survive the night. Of course by the end of the film, their career choices aside, Napoleon and Bishop accept each other as equals. Classic action movie man-code!
Another thing concerning the Napoleon/Bishop relationship. Race never factors into it. I know I mentioned race during my “Passenger 57” review and how it could have made the film more interesting. But “Assault” is the opposite. Race is never mentioned once. Not by Napoleon — a white guy. Or Bishop — a black dude. Not to or about each other, and not to or about the attacking gang. The police officer and the career criminal have enough to overcome between each other and the swarms of bad guys.
I only mention this because it seem like the type of thing that could have easily found it’s way into this ‘70s film. I think ninety nine out of one hundred other writers/directors would have jumped at the opportunity to weave their own personal message into the movie, regardless whether or not it was a good decision. The film didn’t need it and I feel thankful that it was left out. The same could be said about any feminist message — Leigh is one bad-ass chick!
Again, “Assault” is about a small group fighting for their lives and earning each others respect by the end of it. Adding anything to that could have complicated and perhaps ruined the simple and effective story. It would have come off preachy and acted as a backhanded compliment to the characters and the audience watching. The strength of this films story is it’s simplicity.
In Carpenter’s modernization, he added to the “Rio Bravo” story the escalating violence that was present in the urban areas during the ‘70s. Typically brought on by political, social and economic reasons, in “Assault on Precinct 13” the attackers seem to attack for no other reason than because they are bad guys and that‘s what bad guys do.
I compare the gang in this movie to the crime you might hear about on your local news. The news caster always describes the crime — what was robbed or who was stabbed, ect. — but rarely is the perpetrator ever seen, or do they speak for themselves. It’s like all the “bad things” are some sort of entity that lurks in the shadows and acts without motive or reason.
I think the attackers, who are virtually faceless in this film (the police too), are tremendously effective in this way. They don’t seem to have any particular motivation, personality, voice, or purpose other than to kill. In some ways they are like Michael Myers as the boogieman. They seem to represent crime and violence in a general way without themselves being any one specific criminal.
I have just a few final comments. The first being about John Carpenter’s score. Again he managed to compose music that is as moody and functional as it is pleasant to listen too. Check it out for yourself here. Also, I don’t think this film was every any direct inspiration for a video game, but it should be. I would play the shit out of an sixteen bit “Assault” game.
Without movies like “Assault on Precinct 13”, there would be no “Predator” and there would be no “Aliens”. “Assault” might seem tame by the standards set in the ‘80s, but “Assault” is the roots of those films and I highly recommend checking it out.

I’m Cory Carr and this concludes our ride on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Until next time, Semper Fi!
For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly pod casts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!
August 15, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine: Assassins

CYBER-DUMP

All aboard the “Action Movie Time Machine” for one final “Battle of the Tough Guys” review before we all go see “Expendables 3”. This time we get a twofer. Antonia Banderas matches wits with the Italian Stallion. Banderas, the two time mariachi band leader, now joins the Expendables roster, and a fitting addition he is.
The year is 1995, and a terrible year it was. Timothy McVeigh detonated a car bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Nintendo released the “Virtual Boy” which later proved to be a commercial failure. Dirty hippies everywhere mourned the passing of Jerry Garcia and the Internet becomes privatized and found it’s way into “Assassins“.
THE SKINNY
Our tale begins with Robert Rath, Sylvester Stallone, the worlds most skilled assassin who has recently accepted a contract to kill billionaire Allan Branch. This takes Rath, and us, to the cemetery where Branch is paying his respects to his brother who recently passed away as a result of a car accident.
Branch, whose character is short lived, is interesting because while he is at his brother’s funeral, the swarming media can be overheard reporting on Branch and how he is under investigation for funding para-military right-wing hit squads in South America. The film is littered with these, sort of, left-wing jabs at the right. In another scene an anti-NRA advertisement can be seen on the side of a bus. These things aren’t important but funny to see in a film starring Stallone, who is a diehard Republican. Hmm, “Diehard Republican”, that could be the title of his next movie. Moving on.

Just as Rath is preparing to take the shot, using the old “you can’t see my gun because I‘m wearing a fake cast” trick, a shot rings out and Branch falls dead. Someone has beaten Rath to the punch. In assassin lingo he “retired” Rath’s “mark”.
After a brief fire fight with police, Miguel Bain, Antonio Banderas, is captured and taken into custody. Rath, curious about who this other assassin is and who tipped him off about his contract, follows after Bain and discovers that he, from the backseat of the cop car and handcuffed, managed to cause said cop car to barrel roll and he escaped police custody.
Rath continues to hunt down clues as to who this mystery assassin is, but takes another contract in the meantime. This takes him to some five star hotel where he will be intercepting a deal between an unknown lady hacker and a group of Dutch men. Apparently she has stolen some top secret encrypted data, stored on a 3.5 inch floppy disc no less, and is attempting to sell it. Rath is sent to retrieve the disc, eliminate the Dutch buyers and retire the mark, who we later learn is Electra, Julianne Moore. This is all fine and well, but once again Bain shows up and makes Rath’s plans all the more difficult to carry out. You could say that Bain is the BANE of Rath… These names are stupid.
Rath, now believing that he himself is a mark, escapes with Electra and the disc in an attempt to find out what exactly is going on; who is after him? and what information is on the disc?. A lot of plot happens here. I mean A LOT. So let me try to shorten this as best I can so I don’t turn this review into a book.

Rath and Bain have several uneventful run-ins before he and Electra escape the city. Oh, don’t forget Pearl, Electra’s cat. To make her even more interesting she’s a cat lady. When they do escape, they use the Internet to set up an exchange for the disc and two million dollars from whom they suspected is the CIA. The money is for Rath so he can get outta the killin’ game and finally retire. This however was a double cross and his briefcase full of money explodes. But that’s okay because the disc was a fake anyhow.
At this time we also learn that Rath was once contracted to assassinate Nicolai Tashlinkov, a fellow assassin and friend, fifteen years prior. This was something Rath has always wrestled with. I wonder how this might effect the outcome of this story.
Rath and Electra then use their 1990s laptop and their 1990s dial up Internet connection from the back of Electra’s Mustang — somehow — to arrange yet another exchange. This time for the real disc and now twenty million dollars. The money is wired to a bank account of Rath’s in the Caribbean. All he and Electra have to do is withdraw the cash in person and leave the disc in a safety deposit box for the contractor to collect.

Again this is all fine and well, but the nameless contractor seems to be playing Rath and Bain against each other. Because, again, Bain shows up to foil Rath’s plan. This time Bain stakes out the bank, with Rath inside, waiting for him to show his face. Bain wants to kill

While Bain, the guy who wants to be the greatest killer in the world, waits patiently from his sniper roost, nature starts a-callin’. With his rifle in one hand, he tries to piss in an empty water bottle with the other. Bain thinks he sees Rath leaving the bank, fumbled for his gun and ends up spilling his piss allover himself. Classy!
The Caribbean, as well as this particular bank, is very important to Rath. Fifteen years ago, Rath assassinated Tashlinkov as he was leaving this bank after also retiring from the game. Now Bain plans to do the same. This is some heavy shit people!
Long story short, Rath withdraws the cash before squaring off with Bain one last time. With Bain on his death bed, the true mastermind of this entire scenario makes himself known. Who is it? Tashlinkov! He faked his death and has been playing Rath and Bain against each other in a plot to get Electra within his grasp. Why you ask? Well the short answer is Communism. The long answer is that the information on the disc exposes Tashlinkov’s false death as well as his nefarious activities since then.

Both Rath and Bain realize that they have been played, and simultaneously turn and unload on Tashlinkov. Rath and Bain have some final words before Rath unleashes his WRATHon Bain and he and Electra walk off into the sunset, discussing her cat. The End!
THE VERDICT
Oh my god, this movie! “Assassins” should have been called “The Movie That Wouldn’t Die!” or “Welcome to Purgatory”. It had potential, sticking close to the standard conventions of action movies. But unfortunately it was carried out in such a way that took the wind out of it’s sails before it ever had a chance.
The action scenes fizzle out before they get good. The story is convoluted with much screen time being taken up with events that soon don’t matter. And the subtext is presented, but not around when it is needed.
It’s as if the script was written by blind librarians or something. Nothing personal against the visually impaired or literate. “Assassins” just feels like it’s an action movie made by people who have never seen an action movie. Like they were painting by numbers…with a paint brush stuck in their eyes. I personally blame director Richard Donner, but that is neither here nor there.
There is something that “Assassins” has in common with many films of this vintage. It doesn’t know how computers or the Internet work. This is surprising since it was written by the Wachowski…persons formerly known as brothers. Who, after “Assassins”, went on to make a little known film that goes by the name “The Matrix”. “The Matrix”, which is teeming with tech savvy, though much is fictionalized to better weave the web of fiction, is smart. “Assassins” is not. The Wachowskis have come along way, let me tell you.

The ’90s were funny when it came to computers. I compare it to the early ’60s atomic age of sci-fi,

where nuclear radiation was the cause of every kind of superhero and monstrous mutation conceivable. This was because people didn’t understand what radiation was or how it effects biology. In the ’90s, this type of sci-fi plot was seen as charmingly ridiculous or even laughable. In the ’10s, a time where large portions of our annual GDP is generated from the Internet & we have conversations with folks using our futuristic video phones, watching a film like “Assassins”, where people connect their laptop to some ever present dial-up wi-fi Internet connection from the back seat of their car, is also fucking laughable! Dial-up and wi-fi are somehow the same thing? Well in this movie they are. Computers are magic.
Many of the goofy usages of the Internet or predictable plot turns don’t make this a bad movie. “Assassins” is a bad movie because it isn’t fun to watch. It isn’t interesting or smart. It isn’t very entertaining either. It drones on for a full two hours and thirteen minutes with scene after scene that don’t bother to progress the story forward, nor do they do what action movie should always do. Have action! In the third act of the film we (two friends and myself) counted four instances in which Stallone and Banderas were in the same space-time and weren’t at each others throats. Excuse me, but isn’t this film called “Assassins”? Kill each other already!
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!
August 14, 2014

Simplistic Rememberance: Robin Williams

No death is easy to take, but you can rest easier if it’s someone that has lived a full life and their time has come. Whether it’s a family member, close friend, acquaintance, or in this case an actor, when it’s sudden, it kicks you right in the gut, and the news of the passing of Robin Williams is one of the most devastating in recent memory.

From his humble beginnings on TV playing Mork from Ork, to his stand-up on HBO, and his numerous film roles playing everything from a cross-dressing nanny to a 10-year old trapped in a 40-year old’s body, and his Oscar-nominated performances as a Vietnam-era DJ, a schizophrenic ex-professor on the edge, an English teacher who single-handedly invented YOLO, and of course his Oscar-winning performance as Will Hunting’s therapist who reminded Will it wasn’t his fault, the man did it all.

As a genie, an alien, a doctor with a clown nose, and of course Peter Pan, Williams was both the gregarious clown and the dark, brooding character we were surprised to see from time to time. While some actors are tight-cast as either dramatic or comedic actors, Williams was able to do it all. He could bring you to tears with one word and have you bent-over gasping-for-air laughing the next. Not many actors in the past 50 years, or even 100 years for that matter, have been able to strike the perfect balance between manic and hysterical, crushing and comedic, or simply happy and sad.

-Matt

We at Simplistic Reviews mourn the loss of one of film’s greatest actors, and there will never be another actor, or human being for that matter, like Robin Williams. Below are some of our fondest memories of Williams and some of our favorite films. Leave us a comment and let us know what you thought about his over 40 years of genius material.

DJ’s Top Three:

1. Good Will Hunting
2. Good Morning Vietnam
3. Popeye 

Matt’s Top Three:

1. Good Will Hunting
2. Aladdin
3. Death to Smoochy

Justin’s Top Three

August 11, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014 (Matt’s Take)

BEFUDDLED

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles –Befuddled

I consider myself pretty leveled headed and reasonably arbitrary when it comes to film, TV, and pretty much anything else. I give most anything a chance and I try to watch anything for the purpose of having my say in an argument. The worst thing you can run into is a conversation with someone who one, doesn’t have frame of reference of a topic, and two, simply tries to flame you into an argument and put you on the defensive. It’s common for these two things to happen in this day and age of Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, etc. I just wanted to preface all of this before I get into this review of THIS GENERATION’S “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” produced (not directed people) by the grand auteur Michael Bay. It’s a befuddling experience in nostalgia, childhood, and finding my place in the world.
“Turtles” is the origin story of everyone’s favorite heroes in a half shell, Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo. In this adventure they are tasked with stopping The Shredder and politico Eric Sacks from destroying New York City. With the help of April O’Neil and cameraman/news van driver Vernon Fenwick, the turtles have to save the day while finding out about their past. This is the basic plot, if I was to tell you anymore, I’d only confuse you and probably myself.
Where does one start with this film. My first thought when watching this was “did I just miss the first part of the movie?” I literally thought I was dropped into the middle of a film. There was no character development and characters are shown as you should already known who they are. As a life-long Turtle fan it’s a good thing I didn’t need to know who everyone was or I would have been lost. However, even with knowing who most of these characters are, this new adventure is befuddling and the way most of the characters are portrayed is simply, sad.
One of the main arguments that most fans made was the new look of the Turtles. After watching the film, that was something that really didn’t bother me, and honestly, it never bothered me in the first place. Despite the departure from the comic book, cartoon, and original film, you have to know what mutation does to something(s). When something is mutated things change from the molecular level and not everything will look the same. Bottom line, I like the look of the new Turtles. I also liked the look of Splinter, and from it’s base form, I liked the look of the new Shredder suit. I understand the need to upgrade things from an aesthetic standpoint, but this brings me to how characters are portrayed.
The main gripe about these Turtles is their likeability. I honestly didn’t like them. Sure, if you’re a kid you might like the fart jokes, and their rocket skateboards or nerd glasses, since “geek chic” isn’t something going away anytime soon. Just an aside, and to educate those less informed, the “geek” derives from people in the old circus sideshows that would bite the heads off of chickens. Just putting that out there. But aside from Raphael, who I think they kept as close to the comic, TV, and film versions, I just didn’t like the personalities, especially Michelangelo. His dialogue was irritating and it made him seem like a douche-bag teenager with ADD, and this brings me to his “relationship” with April O’Neil, played by Megan Fox. Where does one begin here. Unlike Judith Hoag, or even Paige Turco, Fox provides nothing of substance or memorability to one of the key figures in Turtle history. Her blank stare and vapid dialogue are hard to really get past, and I can only wonder what could have been with another actress in that role. First, give me a REAL redhead; Anna Kendrick would have been great in this role, almost perfect if you ask me, but of course I’m partial to Ms. Kendrick. Back to the dialogue. There was an air of weird stalker/rapeiness that seemed to permeate off of Mikey. Yes, he’s a teenager and his turtle hormones are running wild, but wow was it uncomfortable. 

Now, I don’t want to make this a bash-fest, because there were scenes that I really liked about this film. Contrary to popular belief, I thought the re-imagining of the Turtles’ origin was actually pretty interesting. It kept the overall spirit, but it added an extra wrinkle that will likely come into play if they decide to keep this franchise going, which I’m sure they will. Two, like I said before, I liked Raphael. I thought they made him a bad-ass and he really was he backbone of the film. Donatello wasn’t bad either, and him being my favorite Turtle, I thought it was an interesting take, but I think they played up the nerd angle a little too hard, and this is coming from a nerd. Finally, I loved the snow chase that closes the second act of the film. It looked great and showed something the film lacked a lot of; the Turtles acting like a team. It was an engrossing sequence and it made me forget about much of the things that bothered me up to that point. But, low and beyond, to take me out of the zone, we get a shot of Megan Fox’s ass. I get it, and I understand why it’s in this film, but come on…..

Overall, I’m not the biggest fan of this version of my beloved Ninja Turtles, but I can see why some people will love it and will call it THEIR TMNT, just like I still consider Tim Burton’s “Batman” as MY “Batman,” and this generation will consider Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” THEIR Batman. If anything, after seeing this version of TMNT it re-affirms my love for the 1980s cartoon and the film from 1990. See this new version of the “Turtles” at your own risk.

Fun Fact: Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created the “Turtles” to poke fun at some of the biggest comic books of the 1980’s including Frank Miller’s run of “Daredevil.”

August 8, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine: Passenger 57

SAFE
 For this ride on the “Action Movie Time Machine”, I have decided to continue with the “Expendables 3” theme of “Battle of the Tough Guys“. This time we will look at the work of Wesley Snipes, who is one of the newest additions to the Expendables team. A man who is no stranger to the action genre and who, according to what I’m sure is a more than reputable internet news source, was granted an early release from prison to take up arms against other tax evaders.
The year is 1992. President George H. W. Bush is televised becoming ill and vomiting in the lap of Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa. Later Bush would step aside, allowing the newly elected, jazz saxophone playing Bill Clinton into the Oval Office. Also, the Cold War is declared officially over. Without the ever present threat of complete thermo-nuclear annihilation, Thrash-Metal musicians became disillusioned and began cutting their hair.
All this and Wesley Snipes took it personally when a few terrorists tried to hijack his plane, in “Passenger 57“.
THE SKINNY
Charles Rane, Bruce Payne, has just been captured by the FBI for countless crimes against his fellow man. Terrorism and murder mostly. The feds struck just as Rane was about to have his face altered by a plastic surgeon. He has been on the run for some time now and the reason he has always been able to allude capture is that he periodically changes his appearance surgically.
Now in custody, Rane is being transported via the friendly skies to Los Angeles, where he will await a trial and his inevitable execution.
Meanwhile, the career of former detective John Cutter, Wesley Snipes, has taken some interesting turns during the past several years. Cutter now trains security techniques to airline personnel, what to do in the case of a hijacking. Cutter took this job after one unfortunate evening when he and his wife walked into a convenience store which was being robbed. Cutter tried to stop the perp, but it resulted in Cutters wife being shot and killed.
Cutter has tried to put all that behind him but his reputation as a hardworking detective who has been giving airlines safety tips, has garnered him the attention of the federal anti-terrorism taskforce. They want him to head their department. Cutters bags are packed and he is on his way to Los Angeles.
Is this important? Not really. It’s just a way to unknowingly get Rane, a murderous mastermind, and Cutter, all around bad-ass, on the same plane together.

Rane is one of those guys who sees  himself as a bit of a genius and likes to think three steps ahead of everyone else. Because of this he has devised a daring escape plan involving several passengers and several flight staff, who work for him of course.
The plans genius is in it’s simplicity. They’ll hijack the plane, rig the plane to explode, jump from the plane before it explodes and when it does, no one will be able to tell who’s charred corpse is who’s. Rane would be as free as a bird to continue blowing up make-a-wish kids, or do whatever a sicko like Rane does.
But there is a flaw in his plan. He never figured John Cutter would be on the plane. Cutter, knowing the inner workings of the plane, disconnects some wires in the hull of the airship, causing it to purge it’s fuel supply. The plane is force to land and Rane sees this is an opportunity to escape. This is a mute point because Cutter, accompanied by several “good ol’ boy” rural police, track Rane down in a near by carnival and return him to custody.
  But there is a twist. Rane’s men are still holding several passengers hostage on the plane, and if he isn’t free to board the now re-fueled plane, they will execute the hostages. Without risking the lives of the passengers, the police grant Rane his freedom.
Rane again thinks he is the all knowing and all powerful cat’s meow, and again underestimates John Cutter. Cutter sneaks aboard through the planes landing gear as it takes off.
  One by one, Cutter dispatches Rane’s loyal henchmen before unarming the reconstituted bomb of his original escape plan.
Finally, as the plane rockets through the air, Rane and Cutter square off in a scene that shows little regard for aviation safety. Each of the men take their turns attempting to throw the other through the open hatch door.
Just when Cutter seems like he is fighting a losing battle, he repeatedly kicks Rane in the dick! Yes my friends. Our hero resorts to low blows. This flusters Rane, as it would anyone, causing him to lose his grip on the edge of the open hatch and fall to his death, somewhere on the surface of the Earth below.
The film concludes with Cutter and the cute flight attendant, who he had awkward flirtations with throughout the picture, walking off into the night to better get to know each other, if you know what I mean and I think you do.
 
THE VERDICT
All in all “Passenger 57” is a pretty good little action flick. It’s a hell of a lot better than other action films from it’s time (“Showdown in Little Tokyo“), more serious too. I only wish the villain was more of an immediate threat. Rane prides himself on being an evil genius, but we don’t get to see him do anything really intelligent. He’s good at escaping, but he isn’t very good at getting away.
Another drawback is the plane. Since the mid ’70s, when hijacking a plane was in vogue, there have been countless theatrical and made for television films about just that; a small group of terrorists hijacking a plane with threats of blowing it up. For this reason “Passenger 57” is rather forgettable. By the time it was released in ’92, the subject matter had been done, redone and lampooned, (“Airplane!”) with little room for improvement. Chuck Norris did it in the ’80s and Harrison Ford did it again in the late ’90s.
If only “Passenger 57” was over the top, then it might have had more lasting power throughout the years. There is no sex and the violence is tame by action movie standards. I think the studio was playing it safe with this one.
Talk about playing it safe, I noticed something rather interesting. I think “Passenger 57” is a ’90s version of a blaxploitation film. I didn’t notice it at first, but through the course of the film there are several subtle references to topical “black culture” of the early ’90s. Tom Sizemore’s character Sly refers to Cutter as “brother” several times, as if to seem casual and friendly, or even hip. But it comes off as goofy. It’s something an embarrassing dad might do to seem cool in front of his kids.
Aside from this and several Arsineo Hall references, which to me imply that this may have been made with a black audience in mind, the film has a tone to it. Something I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s something vague. For instance Cutter encounters several small town southern police who first arrest him (not realizing that he is the hero), and then bust his balls throughout the rest of the film. They only start showing respect for him at the end of the film after Cutter has already saved the day. I think if this same movie was made in the ’70s there would have been a few “N-bombs” dropped, thus showing how much of an up-hill battle Cutter was fighting to do the right thing and to be the hero. It isn’t everyday that I find myself thinking how racism could have made a movie better, but here I am.
I think the filmmakers/studio had all this in mind and were planning to make a film about a strong black hero, rather than one simply starring a black actor. But I think they were afraid to make these race related elements too obvious in fear of seeming racist. OR, perhaps the studio wasn’t willing to gamble marketing a film to a minority fan base so they pulled the “questionable material” in order to broaden the audience and make more money. After all, Snipes was a pretty hot commodity at the time, regardless of the audience.
Either way, it seems “they”, the powers that be, pulled out any overt reference to race at the last minute, and what we’re left with is a film that seems sanitized. The ’90s were a strange time for race. It’s too bad because “Passenger 57” had potential beyond it’s limitations. Wesley Snipes could have been the next “Shaft”.
Anyhow, I’m Cory Carr and this has been another trip on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. I hope you panty-wastes learned a thing or two about airplane safety. I know I sure didn’t. Until next time, Semper Fi!
August 5, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy (Matt’s Take)

ANTI

Guardians of the Galaxy – Anti

Usually once a year, there is that one movie that you know is a foregone conclusion. I won’t dance around it, it’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” this year. But before I get into the meat of this review, a brief story; the night before I was all set to watch “Guardians” the next morning, a sense of dread washed over me. I thought, “what if this movie isn’t as good as I thought it would be?” “What if I walk out feeling slighted?” “What if everyone else is walking out happy and I’m walking out disappointed?” I would have to really take a look into my soul and see what was wrong with ME? Alas, that wasn’t the case, “Guardians” was wonderful, it was great, it was down-right groovy. For me, “Guardians” is the anti-Marvel movie. It plays by it’s own rules, and for the first time in Marvel’s Phase Two films I wanted more, got more, and wasn’t letdown, and before you attack, I also loved “Captain America 2” but “Guardians” has taken that big step forward that Marvel was lacking; it’s expanding the universe to places you wouldn’t believe.

“Guardians” tells the tale of Peter Quill, aka, Star-Lord, a space pirate working with Yondu, leader of the Ravangers. While exploring the desolate planet of Morag, Quill stumbles upon a mysterious orb and is attacked by Korath the Pursuer, but escapes. Needless to stay an adventure plays out that features Quill teaming up with a living tree named Groot, a sexy, green, ass-kicking assassin with a past, Gamora, a gun-toting, wise-cracking raccoon called Rocket, and Drax, a tattooed convict with nothing left to lose. Together the “Guardians of the Galaxy” have to save the planet of Xander from Kree extremist, Ronan the Accuser. It’s typical comic book storytelling with a rebellious and anti-Marvel bite that we haven’t seen since “Iron Man.”

Since day one, it just seemed that “Guardians” would succeed, but only with those that were willing to give it a chance, and after it’s first weekend $160 Million international haul, plenty were willing to give something new a chance. The cast is one of the best, but one of the oddest that you might ever see. Led by Chris Pratt, who so many know as the former Pawnee City Hall shoe shiner Andy Dwyer in “Parks and Recreation”, makes it known he’s ready for Hollywood in a “star” making performance, and the cast only gets better. From Zoe Saldana, Michael Rooker, and even Glenn Close, the cast is the perfect mix for a film this eccentric.
While the parts played by humans are great, it’s the CG characters that really steal things and create an unexplainable emotional connection with the audience. Who would think that a raccoon and a humanoid tree creature would create some of the most emotional scenes in film this year. It’s a testament to direction, which I’ll get into shortly, script, and performance. You believe that Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper, is real, and his implied tragic back-story brings the feels in a major way, and this leads me to his relationship with Groot, his bodyguard/whipping tree, if you will. At heart, their relationship is simple; Rocket is a raccoon, who lives in a tree. The beauty is in the simplicity. The most human emotions out of the entire film are from the film’s two non-human characters.

However, nothing would work in “Guardians” if it wasn’t for one person; director James Gunn. From humble beginnings working with Lloyd Kaufman at Troma Studios to his first directing gig on the ultra-underrated throwback creature feature “Slither,” and now as Marvel’s golden child directing what could be the high-grossing film of the year. It’s been quite a road. What Gunn brings to Marvel is a rebel mentality. He’s never been a guy to conform, but at the same time he knows how to strike the perfect of pleasing the fans, while still creating something that fits his twisted sensibilities. Plus, he cares about the material. While on the media trail, all Gunn would talk about is how everyone is going to love what he called “the raccoon.” Normally, directors will build up their biggest stars and the big action set pieces, but all Gunn went on about is how Rocket is going to steal the show…..a raccoon….was going to steal a nearly $200 million dollar space epic produced by Marvel and Disney in the middle of the Summer movie season? Well, Gunn was right, he….was….right.

So many things could have gone wrong with this film too. One, not many people know about the “Guardians” outside of hardcore comic fans. For the normal reader I’m sure the idea of talking trees and other misfits might be a little “alien.” Two, this was a huge gamble for Marvel/Disney. Taking a chance on Gunn as a director and trusting in Pratt as the lead wasn’t something on anyone’s radar, except for Kevin Feige. Three, creating another comic book team up, but only doing it in two hours as opposed to three movies (I would count “The Incredible Hulk” but for some reason people don’t see that as canon now). Comparing “Guardians” to “The Avengers” is natural; their both team-based films fighting a big bad, oh, and they argue a lot. What sets “Guardians” apart however is the heart it has. I’m not saying that Joss Whedon doesn’t have heart, hell, he’s one of the biggest fanboys working in film today and Marvel wouldn’t be where they are without him, but Gunn not only created something out of what could have been considered nothing, and surpassed “Avengers” in my opinion. And yes, “Guardians” has become a huge comic commodity recently but only if you are a true die-hard comic reader could you say with a straight face that you’ve been a “Guardian” fan from the jump. That, or you’re almost 50 years old at the time of this reading.

This might sound sacrilegious, but “Guardians” is better than the “Avengers.” Yes, it is. On first viewing I still had “Avengers” in the lead by a little bit, but sitting down the second time, this time with the wife, I felt so much more emotion watching it again. First, I could relax a little more and simply enjoy the film this time and not worry about the overall story. I had the chance to focus on the little things that made the film special. Gunn has a habit of including little tid-bits for fans of his older films, including the always entertaining cameo by his mentor Kaufman. The other thing was watching this with my wife. At heart, we’re both nerds; however, we butt heads when it comes to things like Harry Potter vs. Lord of the Rings, but this is one of the films that we were both looking forward to this year. Not only is “Guardians” great fun, but it also brings my wife and I closer together. We cried in the same parts, we cheered when our heroes finally came out victorious, and most importantly when we walked out of the film we both looked at each other said, “let’s see that again!” That’s a win in my book, and something I’m sure a lot of people are doing around the world.

Finally, and this is for the cynics. I understand your stance on comic films. They are campy, fairly vapid, and maybe worst of all, don’t add much to the film landscape in terms of increasing awareness of women’s rights, the plight of those overseas, or contain some sort of message that is supposed to make us better people. Well, maybe it does, at least with the last point. When a person walks out of a film and wants to see it again, or that little kid falls in love with a gun-toting raccoon, maybe that’s their way of changing the world. It’s making it a better place to live when we can all be together in a darkened theater and enjoy what is happening on the screen and feel like we are one community sharing a goal; to have fun. Look, I enjoy art-house film as much as the next person, but in a world that is this shitty, and hard to live in, why not have some fun with a wise-cracking rogue, a walking thesaurus covered in tattoos, a genetically engineered killer looking for redemption, a tree that gives flowers to little girls, and of course the raccoon. “Guardians of the Galaxy” is everything it was meant to be; a fun, balls-to-the-wall space adventure that gives cynics the finger and allows someone who I consider the “anti-Michael Bay” to show the world what he can do on the grandest of all stages, and its worthy of your love, admiration, and at times, tears.

Fun Fact: After you put the kids to bed, make sure you check out James Gunn’s “PG Porn.” It’s arousing.

August 4, 2014

Early Returns: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Justin’s Take)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ludicrous
101mins – Action/Adventure – 2014

Why Ludicrous? Because Ludicrous: So foolish, unreasonable, or out of place as to be amusing; ridiculous.
That sums up this film perfectly.

Just because Turtles can talk and are ninja’s, doesn’t mean there are THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

After the film begins with a somewhat enjoyable animated prologue that explains where the turtles come from, things begin to go down hill.

Unless your 6, then this film is amazing in every aspect and the horrific Transformers films are nothing but masterpieces. Sadly in those kids minds God is spelled Bay… Ugh.

If your not 6 and grew up with the birth of the greatness that is the Turtles then this film will leave a tear down your cheek, not a happy one.  That’s because that great time known as my childhood of Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is now dead. My reviewing partner and Transformers Gen. 1 fan DJ Valentine was right 4 years ago when he said, “Bay killed my childhood now he’s coming after yours.” It’s over and honestly if you want to believe those days are right around the corner again then Do Not Watch this film. Keep those happy thoughts of yesterday alive and well.

Before I get into things let me say, this is not the same TMNT I watched grow as I grew myself. Turtles of those days where fun, in words and looks. This movie kills that thought process and reimagines them as ugly hulks and not those cute Turtles in a half shell. This is a rebirth for a new generation. My generation is given a door. A door with crappy nods and abuse from the silver screen. The new generation of Turtles amazes me. They had a perfect formula that invited all ages to come and enjoy; yet they changed that formula for a version that, in my mind, is darker and unfriendly toward kids. I’m a guy who doesn’t give a crap about anything. Nothing will offend me and I love to curse. But when Michelangelo talks about Turtles getting aroused then I believe we crossed a line that didn’t need to be crossed. I would think we would of made a friendlier form of Turtles and not these horny hulk-like creatures.

There’s that word again, hulk. Yes the Turtles are horrible looking and again I wonder why this is the way they went. Oh yeah Bay, that’s right. The Hitler of destroying childhoods, yes he didn’t direct this film, but he did have input. A lot of input. His fingerprints are all over the place with over complicated fighting, over the top CGI, comedy that feels forced and over sexualizing the whole film. Damn there it is again! I feel like an old guy angry about where this film went and not where it should go…and I’m not that guy. I live in a R rated world, I mean listen to our podcasts, we do not hold back. But this is the Turtles. They’re better than this.

This film should have a tagline like, Plot holes galore!

There is a scene with Whoopi Goldberg (April’s Editor) laughing April out of the station due to her attempt to break the story of the Turtles. Here’s the kicker, she took a photo with her phone, and why she doesn’t show her that will make you run out of the theater alone. I mean if she wanted to break from the crappy exercise pieces she does, you’d think she’d show the photo. Don’t worry I’m not telling you everything.  There is more about Blood and Fire, but I’ll let you see that for yourself. The connection of April to the Turtles is also stupid.  Now they are her childhood pets. There that’s it, oh wait this is Bay, there is much more to that which will leave your head shaking.

Even though Megan Fox wasn’t as bad as Megan Fox usually is I still believe she wasn’t cast right. She killed the film for me, even before seeing it. I hated the idea of her being used mostly for her looks, but that’s how Bay is. There are other more qualified and prettier actresses out there that could have easily fit better. That said, she wasn’t that bad. However, there are worse choices in this film. The Turtles themselves aren’t what I expected. The voices are horrible. Michelangelo might have been the best but his dialogue is the worst. Never thought I’d want a Turtle to shut up more. Leonardo played by Jonny Knoxville (coming in late to replace the original Pete Ploszek) just felt lazy. Donatello was okay, though again bad dialogue comes into play, which hinders it. Raphael’s voice just doesn’t work for me. Being played by Smallville’s Aquaman, The hotheaded Raphael seemed kind of quiet and soft-spoken. I just didn’t feel it. Then again, I like my Turtles with Brooklyn accents and that’s just thrown away here.

If they can’t get the Turtles right I’m not even going to get into Shredder. I did like the way the Foot Clan looked, so that’s something. Will Arnett is Will Arnett. William Fichtner plays a William Fichtner scientist. Really wish there was more to say about ’em, but there isn’t.

After this reboot, the idea of a sequel seems extremely unappealing. I’m going to bet we get one, which sadness me. I honestly think this film will bomb. I’ve been very good at guessing which films would fail and which ones would succeed. But in a world where Transformers 4: Age of Extinction can be the first film of 2014 to rake in $1 billion, nothing makes sense anymore.

I feel I should say goodbye to the memory of my beloved Turtles for good.  However I’m lucky that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lives on with Nickelodeon. It’s not the greatest but it’s been getting very good lately. If you would like for your child to get into TMNT, give them that option and skip the ludicrous movie that has nothing to do with those hero’s in a half shell.

So, for now I’m going to raise my hand in defiance of this forgone conclusion failure of a film and yell, “Turtle Power!

Welcome to the new home of SimplisticReviews.net - We're currently still working on the site. You might notice a few issues, please be patient with us. Thanks! (Store also in testing — no orders shall be fulfilled.)
Scroll to top