Nostalgia

June 1, 2015

Simply Shorts: Kung Fury & Predator: Dark Ages

Last week, two short films made their way onto the Internet, one in a more conventional way, the other I had to find it in more “unconventional” ways. Basically what I’m trying to say is that for as much as I hate the Internet, I also love it for the scum that it is. Both films are nostalgic trips to say the least, one is more of a traditional fan film, while the other is a sugar-coated PCP trip-out of a film that is all that is 80s and all that is insanity. Let’s start with the more traditional of the two.

Predator: Dark Ages – Lore

LORE

It’s been tough times for Predator the past 10 years or so. Sure, we got the underrated “Predators” which injected some life back into the lore and mythology of “Predator” but other than that we’ve gotten crap like “AvP: Requiem.” Like I said, it’s been tough. And like so many lost franchises that have lost their way, it’s usually takes a dedicated group of fans and filmmakers making a short film to show studio executives that people still care about a bastardized franchise. Enter, “Predator: Dark Ages.” Now, I’m not going to come out and say that “Dark Ages” is going to usher in a new era of “Predator” films, but what we have here is a nice little piece of lore.

“Dark Ages” is the story of a group of roughneck knights during The Crusades, including a Templar Knight, a female tracker, two meat sacks, and a Muslim scholar, essentially every character trope of the 80s action film. The church has asked Thomas, a battle-tested Templar, to hunt down a beast that has been killing without a reason. Thomas and his group are teamed with Sied, a Muslim scholar, who knows more than he is letting on to stop the killer.

Needless to say, Thomas’ team is wiped out one at a time leaving only himself and Sied to fight the Predator, which ends in a very interesting way. The End.

Clocking in at just under 30 minutes, “Dark Ages” packs in enough action, story, and sense of dread to keep you engaged for its entire run time. While I would have appreciated a little more back-story on Thomas and Seid, especially Seid who seems like he’s been studying the Predators for a while, dating back to his time in Jerusalem. If you’re a fan of the original “Predator” you will get a kick out of the opening sequence when Thomas and his group show up on horseback, blatant fan service, and of course how can I forget the music; Alan Silvestri would be proud.

This bring me to the second part of this double-header, and this one is a doozy…..

Kung Fury – Bananas

BANANAS

Do you like Kung-Fu? Do you like dinosaurs that talk? Do you like Viking Babes with machine guns? Do you like Hitler doing karate? Do you like ninjas? Do you like synth music? Do you like Nazis being murdered? Do you like giant golden eagles fighting dinosaurs? Do you like Miami? Well, if you don’t; get the F*CK out of here and kill yourself because you’re obviously reading the wrong review from the wrong site.*

So “Kung Fury” where does one start, first, if you haven’t seen it, click HERE and watch it….we’ll wait…..okay, we’ve waited long enough.

In “Kung Fury” the mean streets of Miami are awash with killer arcade machines and the return of Adolf Hitler, who is also a kung-fu master. The only man who can stop his is the baddest cop on the force; Kung Fury. Together with Hackerman, Fury is sent back in time to stop Hilter before he is able to harness the full power of the ancient art of Kung Fury. Along the way Fury meets female Vikings, Thor, a talking T-Rex, and has words with his talking car.

If you were to take “Miami Connection,” “Hobo With a Shotgun,” “Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon,” put them in a room and let them all have a three-way, you might get a general idea of how bananas this film is. Of course, this is nothing new, the 80s is enjoying a great resurgence of interest lately, from horror flicks like “The Guest” and “It Follows” to video games like “Hotline Miami” and “Blood Dragon” people still love the 80s, and for good reason; the 80s are awesome.

David Sandberg does his best Michael Biehn impression as the title character, and Jorma Taccone, from Lonely Island fame, hams it up big time as the kung fuhrer – Adolf Hitler. The violence is over-the-top, the 80s references are awesome, and if it wasn’t for a little film called “Back to the Future” I’d say this is the most realistic take on time travel to date.

“Kung Fury” is well worth your time, and why not just double feature it with “Predator: Dark Ages” to get your nostalgia fill in just under an hour.

*We at Simplistic Reviews do not want you to kill yourself, we want you to understand that these films are incredible and not watching them would be a great disservice to yourself. We love you, thnx, byeguys. 

March 30, 2013

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (DJ’s Take)

BETTER

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.  I hate Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise.  I made many points as to why they are lowest common denominator fodder and a tried and true example of bad filmmaking alone.  But to be honest, I hated it mainly because it was a tactical strike to my nostalgia.  I am an 80s baby.  Transformers, G.I. Joe, Thundercats, TMNT, He-Man, Voltron, M.A.S.K., DuckTales, TaleSpinRescue Rangers, Silverhawks, Gobots, HeathcliffCenturions, Dino-RidersDanger Mouse, Count Duckula, and many more shows practically raised me.  Yes, looking back at them now, I can see they were cheesy.  However, I still love them because they spoke to me.  They spoke to a me that I wasn’t fully aware of at the time.  They filled in the gaps of love and companionship my family left me to fill when they were not around.  They developed my entertainment pallet.  They developed my right and wrong meter.  They are virtually time portals to my childhood.  And if they stayed that way I would be happy with that.  So, if you are going to remake them…if you’re going to bring them back to modern day…changing things…changing their DNA to shoehorn them into modern sensibilities…it literally hurts me.  Every instance of Michael Bay’s corruption of Transformers makes me feel like Marty McFly looking at that photograph of he and his family and watching himself slowly disappear.

I bring up Bay here because of the financial success of his Bayformers, other studios followed suit seeing as the almighty dollar is their guiding light.  Stephen Sommers (A director I can’t believe I used to like) fired another Trident missile into my memories when he brought G.I. Joe to the the big screen.  It was almost as if he was copying off of Bay’s test in school.  It was predictable, trite, comically bad entertainment.  My only hope was that like an ebola virus, the franchise would flare up and die out so fast, it wouldn’t be able to spread.  Then, it was announced that a sequel was on the horizon and it would be directed by the guy who did the Step Up films and Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never.  I felt like Dustin Hoffman in Outbreak.  However, after seeing G.I. Joe: Retaliation  I am relieved to say that it is much BETTER than I expected.  Understand that I was expecting the EBOLA VIRUS!   So to say it is BETTER isn’t saying that it is a great film.  It still has logic problems and cheesy moments and lackluster effects.  But it more effectively fits the tone a G.I. Joe film should have and offer up enough fan service an old school Joe fan would want in order to be able to walk out of the theater under their own power.

I mentioned this in my last review but it bares repeating.  The Expendables works because it acknowledges the performers’ nostalgic roots.  It gives the fans of these performers what they want.  You want Arnold to say ‘I’ll be back’?  Fine.  You want someone to say yippee ki yah?  There you go.  You want a Van Damme spin kick?  Here’s two.  You want a bloody, bullet riddled, fire fight for ten straight minutes?  We’ll give you twenty.  It isn’t complicated to make films that are based purely on nostalgia like Transformers and G.I. Joe.  This isn’t The Master or Tree of Life.  Keep its simple and give the people what they want.  Popcorn films like these have longer legs that way.  Ask Joss Whedon.  Yes, Transformers made money.  A crazy amount of money.  But does anyone…ANYONE hold it in high regard?

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is burdened by cleaning out the closet of the previous film’s storyline.  A terrorist group called Cobra have an operative impersonating The President and reeking havoc on the Joes and the world.  A team of surviving Joes must clear their names and take down Cobra before its too late.  Simple.  Director Jon M. Chu seemed to have done his research on what failed in the first film and done research on the material in general.  It shows in the little nuances Joe fans would notice.  A faceplate for Cobra Commander, an Uzi for Snake Eyes, an Australian accent for Firefly, a blindfold for Jinx.  Its those little things that show me he actually cares about the material and doesn’t just want to use the property as a bridge to show off his directoral talent.  It comes across that the Joes in this film seem to actually be capable soldiers with varying skills, the way the show was intended.  That as apposed to the bumbling, excelerator suit wearing, dummies in the previous film.  Men and women who seemed to be working for Maxwell Smart instead of the United States armed services.

Dwayne Johnson takes the lead in this and does an solid job.  Much BETTER than the laughable Marlon Waynes and the cameoing Channing Tatum.  The one thing that I thought the first G.I. Joe film got right was Ray Park’s Snake Eyes.  Though, Sommers even tried to screw him up too by putting a mouth on a masked man who DOESN’T TALK.  But I digress.  He is the only thankful carry over from the first film.  His action scenes with rival Storm Shadow are worth the price of admission alone.  Bruce Willis is trying much more in this than he did in his own tent pole franchise and I really liked Adrianne Palicki’s Lady Jaye.  However, the performances aren’t all roses.  Jonathan Pryce is still a bit over the top as the faux President/Zartan.  The ball was dropped by casting the wooden D.J. Cotrona as Flint.  A character who is supposed to be the more charismatic version of Duke merely slinks by unnoticed and unremarkably through this film.   And I’m not even going to get into how bad RZA is as Blind Master.  I think it is the overall camaraderie of both teams that allow you to be able to dismiss the bad apples.

By the level of improvement this film has made from The Rise Of Cobra, it would take about two more films before I could consider it a must watch franchise.  However, I think I’m going to have to settle for the fact that G.I. Joe: Retaliation is just BETTER than expected and breathe a sigh of relief that I haven’t fully disappeared.  Be a real American hero…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

August 24, 2012

Expendables 2

NOSTALGIC

You ever found yourself starting a diet but end up cheating a few weeks in by eating a box of chocolate frosted donuts?  That is what watching Expendables 2 is like.  You know they are fattening.  You know they are bad for you.  But for the brief time it takes you to scarf those donuts down, you’re in heaven.
The spectrum of action films usually breaks down like this:  SMART.  SMART FUNFUNDUMB FUN.  OR JUST PLAIN DUMB.  Expendables 2, like it’s predecessor, falls completely under the DUMB FUN category.  It is a half a beat away from being a full on parody.  And that is why you can’t be as mad with Expendables 2 as you can be with this or this
1.  Is the plot nonexistent?  Yes.
2.  Is the acting bad?  Yes.
3.  Is the action unrealistic?  Yes.
4.  Is Father Time catching up to most of the cast?  Yes.
5.  Do I like to list things?  Yes.
Expendables 2, however, relies on it’s NOSTALGIA while giving enough winks at the camera to make sure we remember what it is.  A dumb, yet, fun love letter to 80s guilty pleasure action films.  If you’re under the age of 25, this sort of NOSTALGIA might not hold any relevance.  But if you’re a child of the 80s and remember how awesome First Blood Part 2 was, or how joyfully insane Commandowas, or how over the top in a good way Bloodsport was, this is the box of donuts for you.  Go ahead….cheat on your diet a little….then tell me I’m wrong.   

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