Saturday, October 31, 2009



Whywontyoudie?! brought it to our attention in the forums last week that the new SLAYER album had been leaked online.

Mediasaurus Rex retorted with the following:

That last album was so horrid this next one should be free.

I bought that last one opening day. It sucks so bad I have considered making it a vino coaster.

Franko chimed in with:

I think I will just listen to South of Heaven and pretend that it is the new one coming out.

And now SLAYER has released their trashy graphic novelesque videos for PLAYING WITH DOLLS. Here is the post from Mediasaurus Rex that kills it all:

2 vids. People are saying that they are creepy. I am finding this thing to be the most long-winded piece of bullshit misogyny I have ever witnessed.

Supposedly this is some graphic novel stuff, but it is wack, wack wack.

I find them to just be standard Slayer. Almost cornball. The gimp is on a rampage, and he stole that peeler's legs. OMG. He hacked off her hands. DEAR GOODNESS! The moon runs red with blood...etc, etc, etc...
Poor masseuse lady, she was kind of hawt. Now she has no limbs...etc, etc, etc...Poor waitress, her buxom chest is now missing etc, etc, etc...Poor motorcyclist. Poor bus-riding woman losing her face, etc, etc.

"Playing with dolls"

Part 1.

Part 2.

I have seen this movie on video shelves before. It was called FRANKENHOOKER.

Conclusion? SLAYER isn't even worth a free download.

Read the Mediasaurs SLAYER thread here.
Feel free to log in with your opinion.

Mediasaurs Main Page.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009



There is no question about the genesis of this film. It was made for kids. It has “10 year old” written all over it. The humor, the robots, the explosions, and the fantastic computer animation are all geared toward a young male audience. But ASTRO BOY also deals out some adult-level, existential conundrums. It falls short on many levels but has something for everyone.

ASTRO BOY is set in a future in which the earth has become so corrupt with man’s leftovers that the elite humans have made a Metro-City which floats above the surface. Trash is dumped over the side and forgotten. The movie starts with young Toby (voiced by Freddie Highmore) who is a futuristic looking Bob’s Big Boy. Toby is smart. He is knocking his schoolwork out in seconds, and he seems to be analytically on par with his father, Dr. Temna (Nicolas Cage).

Dr. Temna, and General Stone (Donald Sutherland) are experimenting with a new war robot on par with the IRON GIANT called the Peacemaker. A key plot element has to do with two orbs from an exploded star, one red and infused with negative energy and one blue and infused with positive energy. These energy sources are so powerful and polarized that if they are brought into contact with each other, they will detonate. The megalomaniac Stone demands that the negative red orb be used to fuel the Peacemaker’s core, and all hell breaks loose. The Peacemaker can absorb its enemies into itself much like that plant from the original LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. The downside (for everyone in its vicinity) is that weapons that are being used against the Peacemaker get appropriated by him. When this is first shown, it is a magnificent thing to behold.

While Temna and Stone struggle to get the Peacemaker under control, Toby accidentally wanders into the fray and is (rather cleanly) vaporized. We see an homage to FRANKENSTEIN (complete with the body lifted into the rafters) as Dr. Temna, obviously destroyed by the loss of his son, takes a page from ‘70s television and re-creates Toby, stronger, better, and faster. The robotic Toby is, for all intents and purposes, a living, breathing creature. He wakes up with human Toby’s memories and DNA strain. And he has emotions and a thirst for knowledge. Furthermore, he hasn’t yet been told that he isn’t “real.”

ASTRO BOY really reaches out and grabs the heart of the viewer when Toby’s father tells him he is a robot and rejects him. The rejection process is a simple one yet sophisticated enough to dent the most jaded of viewers.

The rest of the film is a series of adventures that take place as Toby processes his existence. He goes to the surface of the earth like a Christ figure and learns of human cruelty to robots. There are some funny parts in this as he meets up with a group of kids who live out their own version of the Isle of Lost Boys from PINNOCHIO. The humans on the earth’s surface have gone old-school Roman Empire and fight souped-up robots at a praetorium. Identity issues abound as Toby hides his true self.

Toby does finally embrace his existence, however, and it is just in time because General Stone is up in Metro-City channeling Dick Cheney, and his Peacemaker is completely out of control. In the end Toby has to save Metro-City from round two with the malfunctioning Peacemaker.

ASTRO BOY has all of the elements of a cinematic slam-dunk. The plot is sentimental, and when the humor works, the film is genuinely funny. However, outside of the development of Toby’s personality, the rest of the characters are rather flat and uninspiring.

A problem that really cuts to the heart of this film is with the voice actors. Nicolas Cage’s lazy speech pattern and drunken pauses are so pronounced that it is clear that it is Nicolas Cage who is Dr. Temna. And Temna never actually springs to life; he is hindered by Cage’s voice, which is also the voice behind so many things that are wrong with movies today. Even Donald Sutherland’s General Stone sounds slightly off. ASTRO BOY is a movie that should have used nobodies across the board as vocal talent. Perhaps the other adults in the audience might enjoy the “connect the dots” game of guessing whose familiar voice these characters have. I personally found it tedious and a complete distraction from the film. By the time a character named Ham shows up with Nathan Lane’s voice, it is rather clear that ASTRO BOY is no TOY STORY, and the voices are out-weighing the characters. Tom Hanks can be Woody in TOY STORY because Woody has a personality and things to do. The adult characters in ASTRO BOY are limited to basic functions and never get to bloom into full-blown people.

ASTRO BOY presents every human’s struggle to find purpose. Unfortunately, at the end of it all, this film is rather corny. It would be great for a 10 or under kid because of its overriding simplicity. On the other hand, it isn’t for a 10 or under kid because of how violent and angst-ridden it is. The film is intense, and when the violence gets up and running, the only forgiving aspect of it is that these are robots hacking through each other and not human beings. But if these robots have true emotions, aren’t they human? This is a serious puzzle for the viewer to consider. It is probably the only thing worth considering after the credits roll.

-Mediasaurus Rex

Mediasaurs Main Page

Mediasaurs Astro Boy Discussion Thread

Contact M-Rex Here


The review for ASTRO BOY has been a long time coming. In the forums we have been discussing it for exactly a year (since Aug 27, 2008).

In there we have the full press release, links to the various trailers and all of the pre-release pictures that dropped.

Monday, October 26, 2009



By the end of the second act of LAW ABIDING CITIZEN, I was so completely enraptured with the film that it seemed it simply couldn’t get any better. All of the traditional steps that thrillers take had been subverted, none of the events that had taken place so far made any sense, and the tantalizing revelation was just minutes away. Then it all crashed down into a slightly inspired but routine twist on any number of revenge thrillers.

Director F. Gary Gray came screaming into mass-cinema consciousness as the director of the uber-expensive, meat locker music video, NATURAL BORN KILLAZ starring Dr. Dre and Ice Cube back in 1995. He then turned around and directed the feature FRIDAY which is respected as ground zero for hip-hop comedy. Gray has continued to hustle the sidelines, pumping out films that we have all heard of but which haven’t made the complete purchase of cinematic hall of fame recognition. SET IT OFF, THE NEGOTIATOR, and THE ITALIAN JOB are all his. Now there is LAW ABIDING CITIZEN, a movie that ultimately misses the mark like Gray’s other films.

CITIZEN is comparable to a fantastic sandwich on two horrible, moldy pieces of bread. The film starts ugly and ends stupid. At certain points, this Trojan horse of a film really feels like it is going to be that awesome sleeper that no one has discovered yet. But it isn’t. CITIZEN is fraught with some plausibility issues and a conclusion that is absolutely criminal. Do you remember Stallone’s LOCK-UP? At the end Donald Sutherland is strapped to an electric chair, and the switch is thrown. Stallone (who has been a prisoner in the jail) steps up with a fuse in his hand and says not to worry. How did he get the fuse? To this day, I still don’t know how electric chairs harness their energy, and the hacks that wrote LOCK-UP knew this about me. There is a similar shell-game at play in CITIZEN. It is unfair and out on the furthest branch of the tree known as “suspension of disbelief.”

CITIZEN starts with the brutal rape and murder of Clyde Sheldon’s (Gerard Butler) wife and the offscreen murder of his daughter which he is forced to watch. Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) is the District Attorney assigned to prosecute the two men accused of the crime. Rice is a hotshot lawyer with a near perfect prosecution record. He wants to maintain this record, so to guarantee a conviction, he lets Clarence Darby (Christian Stolte), the primary rapist/murderer, off with a lighter sentence. But his accomplice, Rupert Ames (Josh Stewart), goes to death row for crimes he didn’t actively commit.

Ten years pass, and Rupert gets his lethal injection. But something goes violently wrong during the execution (in a strange reversal to the aforementioned LOCK-UP), and Rupert dies a vicious, painful death. The cops and Rice are investigating what went wrong and track down Clarence Darby for questioning. But Darby gets help eluding the police from a mystery caller on his cellphone. The mystery caller is Sheldon who leads Darby to a warehouse. Sheldon then physically takes Darby apart, SAW-style.

When the police realize that Sheldon is behind the gas-chamber FUBAR and Darby’s deconstruction, they come for him. Sheldon strips down naked and waits for the police. Thus begins the cat and mouse game between Sheldon and Rice. While Sheldon is behind bars people associated with the case are being killed. Rice and company are frantically trying to figure out who Sheldon is working with.

Gerard Butler is believable as Sheldon; he has a glint in his eye and an impressive physique left over from his 300 workouts. What is Sheldon’s game? He has an agenda, and it has to do with proving the judicial system is flawed. He intends to bring the whole system down. “It will be biblical,” he threatens. The damage that we see Sheldon do is really phenomenal and fun.

Foxx isn’t doing anything special as Rice. The problem is that we have seen Jamie Foxx do this role before. It is a stock performance. Another problem is plausibility. It is actually rather silly to watch this lawyer do a criminal investigation. The character of Rice should have been scripted as two or three people. And his violation of boundaries as a lawyer is hard to accept.

As previously mentioned, the first two acts of this film really chug along hard. The third act of the film, however, devolves into a postmodern pastiche of SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, TAXI DRIVER, and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS with a familiar DEATHWISH twist. The plot formula is a simple one: An imbalanced person is forcing their world-view on the sane around them. This is a common formula recently used in THE DARK KNIGHT. For what LAW ABIDING CITIZEN is trying to accomplish, it fits in rather nicely.

CITIZEN is escapism. There is a lot of chance and coincidence that goes into making the plot even remotely feasible. Writer Kurt Wimmer has delivered similar plots in the past with EQUILIBRIUM and STREET KINGS on his resume. CITIZEN is a testosterone-heavy popcorn movie. Hang the bulk of your brain at the door, keep your complete-package expectations low on this one, and you might have a great time.
-Mediasaurus Rex


LAW ABIDING CITIZEN really took off in the Mediasaurs forums. LOCKNLOAD made the original post, and it snowballed from there. SPINAL VILLAIN gave the following SPOILER-FREE review:

Oh man this movie was a lot of fun! Gerrard Butler once again proves he's a manly man....but this time with his head and not his biceps(300).

From the word go, this movie is non-stop action or suspense. Butler's character is enigmatic and this helps the story line and suspense take it's grip on you as the movie progresses. Jaime Fox is great as a robotic workaholic who is more interested in a "high convictions rate" and "some justice is better than no justice" mentality. This is what the movie bases it's 'revenge' plot on; On how the system is broken and what isn't broken gets broken by bureaucratic red tape and complacency by those who work in it.

As the story delves deeper into the "hows" and "whys', Butler's character is exposed and we get a true sense of his genius the grandiose scheme he has in mind. The hunt for his ghostly accomplice is also a major sub-plot.

If you are looking for blood/cool death scenes, this movie will hold you over until SAW VI. There is a torture scene that is quite grim to behold, but it's not what you's what you hear.
Enough said. With one of the best ensemble supporting cast I've seen to include Colm Meaney(from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Con Air) as well a half a dozen or so others, helps make this movie the biggest breath of fresh air this year. I didn't see the ending coming up until it happened. Not so easy to do these days.

This movie also includes the greatest "Cell phones are bad for your brain" messages I have ever seen.


LOCKNLOAD came back immediately with the following:

I didn't waste any time. I saw this last night. The movie had me at the edge of my seat. Gerard and Jamie were excellent and so was the rest of the cast. I don't want to give anything away so I will leave it at that. My advice is that you need to just see it and don't ruin it by reading/watching too much before you see it.

The discussion proceeded to get heated as more people saw it. The theory that this film's plot was similar to that of THE DARK KNIGHT was presented by TRAPANI. All in all, the entire thread is a good read.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009



ASSASSINATION OF A HIGH SCHOOL PRESIDENT made a big splash on the film festival circuit. It seemed destined to be a box-office winner. It is a high school film with the dark, crassly sophisticated trappings of HEATHERS. There is also a blatant neo-noir presence in this film that brings to mind the superior Rian Johnson film BRICK. With drug habits on par with those in Robert Rodriguez’ high-school flick, THE FACULTY, all of the pieces seemed to be in place. But the pieces were not in place, and ASSASSINATION went straight to DVD. After viewing it, I can see why a big studio wouldn’t want to take a theatrical risk on this project. ASSASSINATION tells its story and delivers its lines well, but in the end, the film is a miasma of limp references to other stronger, smarter films.

The drawing power of ASSASSINATION OF A HIGH SCHOOL PRESIDENT is obviously Bruce Willis who plays Principal Kirkpatrick. Willis completely becomes the war-ravaged, socially inept principal that he is supposed to be. Willis’ presence is so strong and menacing that the viewer pines for him whenever he is not onscreen.

Likewise Michael Rapaport who is only in ASSASSINATION for a solid two minutes as Coach Z makes a big impact. Together Rapaport and Willis completely eclipse the rest of the cast. Josh Pais as Senor Newell is also somewhat noteworthy, but the rest of the cast is a bunch of bland throwaways. Some critics have been citing Mischa Barton (The OC) as a driving force in this film, but she is sleepwalking. She had to be slightly conscious to do her topless bathtub scene, and I am sure that scene is what this film will be remembered for.

ASSASSINATION is about Bobby Funke (Reece Thompson) who wants to write for the student paper at his prep school. Funke is a high school nothing. His claim to fame is that he was the “freshman tied to the snowman’s penis.” Funke’s noir voiceover and trench coat crudely place this film on Chandler’s doorstep. The problem is that Chandler’s work had an element of class, whereas ASSASSINATION is perpetually locked in vulgar, juvenile musings and profanity. Funke is given his first assignment to do a write-up about the school president, Paul Moore (Patrick Taylor). Funke soon cracks open a conspiracy that has him both running for his life and growing up.

The femme fatale is Francesca Fachini (Mischa Barton), Paul Moore’s girlfriend. When Moore gets busted for stealing all of the SAT tests, Francesca throws herself at Funke like a focused temptress. Francesca has something up her sleeve, and her blatant, heated sexual attention to Funke is unnerving. If that isn’t strange enough, Francesca’s half-brother Marlon Piaza (Luke Grimes) is now the new president of the school.

Through a nerdy brand of high school journalism, Funke is able to determine that something is really, really wrong with the initial story he broke about Paul Moore. In fact, Moore was a patsy, but for whom? The rest of the film is a voyage into the perverse world of high school shenanigans as we get closer to the answer.

ASSASSINATION is obviously supposed to be a dark comedy with Shakespearean repercussions, but it isn’t successful in either of those departments. With possibly two sincerely funny moments in this film, it is forced to stand on its noir and dramatic footings. Both elements are strong, but not strong enough to carry the film. Ultimately ASSASSINATION is merely a scrapbook of ideas. None of the ideas are original, and all have been done better before. The cleverness behind the title of the film is what people like me are supposed to glom onto. Unfortunately, I can’t get clear of the murk I had to swim through in order to specify any of its cleverness. ASSASSINATION is an emaciated ghost of better films. Willis and Rapaport gave more to this film than it deserved. If it wasn’t for their performances, this thing would be a complete waste of time.

-Mediasaurus Rex

Monday, October 19, 2009



Several weeks ago a wild-eyed stranger approached me in a video store and told me that I needed to see THE BROTHERS BLOOM. He told me that it was fantastic and would require multiple viewings to appreciate. I am dedicating this review to said stranger because without his theatrics, I would have never disciplined myself to watch this film. BLOOM is a modern classic with literary allusions, solid performances, beautiful cinematography, and an intriguing plot. It is for the most part a dreamlike experience, but it ends on an unexpected, horribly false note.

BLOOM is written and directed by Rian Johnson. Johnson demonstrates a cultivated control of his craft. The dialogue is poetic, and initial plot foundation scenes are narrated in couplets. The entire tale is soaked in Melville and Joyce references. A symbol of a train and its moving wheels is shown several times as if to suggest existence in constant flux. Running dialogue gags such as blood tasting like tin foil permeate the film. Johnson, who previously directed BRICK, has successfully delivered a complex masterpiece.

Narrated by real-life magician Ricky Jay, THE BROTHERS BLOOM is a story about two grifter brothers and their constant hustle for the ultimate con. Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) is the eldest, and from the beginning, he is the mastermind of the operation. BLOOM takes all of the hustle of THE STING and empowers Stephen with a Hannibal Lectoresque premeditation and comprehension of outcome. Stephen can read people and anticipate how they will react.

Bloom (Adrian Brody) is the younger brother and the key actor in all of Stephen’s cons. He has always had a thing for the ladies, but he seems to be less jaded than the average cad. Bloom is a romantic.

On the side, there is Bang Bang (Rinko Kikuchi), a well-dressed, female Japanese weapons expert who says almost nothing but conveys plenty through body language and seems to know the mind of Stephen better than he does.

At the deepest root of this film is a story of two brothers who are completely inseparable. The most they seem to be able to spend apart is three months. Bloom is growing more and more tired of his life with Stephen, however. Stephen writes his cons for Bloom, yet Bloom wants to live an unscripted life. Stephen has Bloom completely figured out and plays the part of a controlling God for Bloom, but Bloom wants a different faith. Bloom longs to honestly fall in love with the right woman and not have the relationship tainted with Stephen’s manipulation and criminal endeavors.

The tension is in place between the brothers, and for their last con, they meet their match. Penelope Stamp (Rachel Weisz) is a shut-in eccentric with money to burn. She goes through three Lamborghinis in her first thirty minutes onscreen and acquires hobbies like chainsaw juggling to pass her time. Penelope is completely well-intentioned. She is the only honest character in the whole film. She is also off-the-wall, alone, and emotionally smarter than both of the brothers. Stephen scripts a con where the brothers are smugglers. Penelope, the mark, is adopted as part of the team. She embraces her role as a smuggler with childlike wonder. She is so indifferent to her fortune that when considering the million dollar investment that the con requires, she states that she needs a “real reason” not to invest. Bloom falls sincerely in love with her, and Penelope innocently comes between and unravels the brothers.

Bloom wants to leave the business, but Stephen is so used to taking care of Bloom that he can’t let him go. Penelope is so wide-eyed and dead-set in her integrity that the brothers don’t know how to function with her. This all leads to an ending which is so polished and frilled that it takes the viewer a moment to realize that it is strained, artificial, and heartless as the characters react unnaturally to the situation at hand. For all of the wonderful writing, visuals, and atmosphere, the last several minutes of BLOOM are unforgiveable. The disappointment here is that the film was well on its way to being perfect.

This film contains references to rap music, skateboarding, cell phones, and other contemporary pop culture, but it feels timeless and could be set anywhere from the 1920s to the present. Stephen and Bloom both wear era-indefinable dark suits and black fedoras. It is a retro/modern balancing act with class, exotic locations, lots of mimosas, and scotch whiskey. The atmosphere presented is similar to that of Wes Anderson’s THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS yet not as forced. Production values in BLOOM are through the roof. Everything onscreen has significance, and the camera swoops about tasting it all.

The wild-eyed stranger at the video store that told me about this film was correct: BLOOM warrants a second and even third viewing. This is a meticulously crafted piece of cinema. The attention to detail is mind-blowing. THE BROTHERS BLOOM is a beautiful film that sets out to dazzle and pontificate. It succeeds almost flawlessly. A key quote in the film states that “the trick to not feeling cheated is to know how to cheat.” Perhaps my problem with this movie is that I don’t know how to cheat.

-Mediasaurus Rex

Saturday, October 17, 2009


We have been following the development of TRON 2 in the Mediasaurs forums since July 2008.
A lot of things have been brought to the table. The initial point was a strong one, from MEDIASAURUSREX:


Why would they touch this? Disney is grasping for straws I guess. Witch Mountain? If they decide to load up THE BLACK HOLE 2 I will shoot myself in the face and load it up on youtube.

LOCKNLOAD responded with a voice of reason:

I think Tron could be loaded if done right. As long as they don't blow it like Bay did with Transformers. Transformers was a financial success but ended up empty. The original Matrix was done right and if they can capture that in the remake it will be fully loaded.

What has happened since that point is a constant takedown of the Internet to find the latest information and links.

The October 6 2008 interview with Jeff Bridges was posted, where he said that "..."when we made Tron there was no internet, no cellphones. But now we have motion capture, so I think we'll get a far more successful version of the story, which is someone literally getting sucked into a video game. When we did King Kong in the 70s, one minute you'd have a shot of Rick Baker in this big suit and then you'd cut to this 80ft stiff model, and they looked nothing alike. Compare to that Peter Jackson's King Kong the technology is there and they did a wonderful job. I thought they created a beautiful Kong. So I hope that'll be the same for Tron."

In this process we posted links from Aint It Cool and Cinemablend to get our bearings on the subject. We also brainstormed names for the sequel:

Tron: Kill Screen
tron2: dead or alive
tron2: game over
tron2: the end is near
Tron Strikes Back
ROBO-2-TRON: The amputee story
TRON 2 THE CYBER SLAYINGS: Last quarter, last man and low of fuel
PAC-TRON (2 birds with one stone...because that Pac Man movie is coming).

But underneath all of the bluster, the information kept on coming.

Then PRIMO brought this link which leads to this one and ultimately to the HOME OF TRON.

If you click through the above links, you will stumble across some hype for FLYNN'S ARCADE and some news about Flynn (Jeff Bridges).

Genius, Visionary, Modern Hero. That is Kevin Flynn. He came into our lives and showed us the limitless possibilities of the future. And then, all of a sudden, he "disappeared." Some people believed he died. We don't. We know that Kevin Flynn Lives. We're not crazy, we're not obssessed, we're not lunatics. We simply have followed the facts wherever they lead. And the facts tell us that Kevin Flynn Lives. We are here for Kevin. Nobody can make us stop believing that he is out there, that he's waiting for us, and that he will return when the time is right.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Over a year ago I posted this exact same blog in a different spot. The reactions have been more negative than anything. I don't know where I stand with this stuff at this point, I am still working on it in my head. Currently I am doing a complete HEAVY METAL MAGAZINE takedown. When I finish, I will revisit this subject armed with a grip of new thoughts.

Below is the original posting. I have also included all of the original links and my add-ons as well:

Let me tell you about an android created from spare Xerox machine parts that scared the hell out of me. He was ugly, buffed, oversexed and living a life of strange sex and violence.

I was a child when first exposed to this thing, and let me tell you something else: Ranxerox was a big part of me putting childish things away and facing reality.

Ranxerox hails from Heavy Metal Magazine here in the United States. As an adult, I don't completely comprehend what Heavy Metal Magazine is. I have had my mitts on many issues but the grand definition of the stuff defies me. I suppose that it is comic books for adults. I also suppose that the bulk of the stuff is not done in America. It always seemed to me that Heavy Metal stories were more about the lack of explanation to the carnage on-panel. Bodies are ground up. Sex is served in strange fashions (including stuff that would and should make kiddie porn enforcers stand up).

Ranxerox was a celebration of carnage, hedonism and drug use. His girlfriend, Lubna swears that she is 18 but she has the body of a 12 year old.

Once again: This stuff scared the hell out of me. I had not seen the world portrayed as such a bleak place in any of my travels at the time. Yet here it was. In all of its perverse glory.

Throughout the rest of my life, I stumbled across people who looked remotely like Ranx, but other than that, no contact with the concept.

I don't know what triggered it, but recently I started thinking about things in my past with have really gotten under my skin. Some I will go back to and master, others I won't. An example of something that I don't want to master is LIPSTICK starring the Hemingway girls. I saw it, I was too young to be watching such trash, and I am good if I never see that piece of tripe again.

Casson informed me about a year ago that Chris (Windowlickin) Cunningham is on tap to deliver the Ranxerox film to the big screen. In the back of my head, I have always thought that Ranxerox was cool and that I just never understood it/him. I figured that if it was going to be a movie, it should be directed by someone as frapped in the head as Cunningham.

But this all called me to the vortex. I circled it for months and I can finally say that I have gone into through and beyond this thing that scared the living vittles out of me.

I can also say that as an adult, I find it pretty much as offensive as I did when I was a kid. Yes, the art at the top of this post is beautiful stuff, and that is the Ranxerox sell. The art is wonderful. Staggering painted frames that capture grit, sinew and texture like few things do. The concept however, remains perverse to the core. The things that are supposed to be funny are mean-spirited. Dare I say: there is no redemption in this comic book/whateverthehellitis at all.

I double-dog dare you Mr. Cunningham to bring this to the big screen. It will be the end of you and your career of filth.

What is so offensive you ask? Well I already mentioned the Lubna angle. Ranx also gets it on with her friend who looks like she too is about 12 (in all of the graphic glory that Heavy Metal is famous for). He hangs out with a fetishist who likes to shoot pictures of dead people, so there is a graphic accident that I remember from my childhood where someone has a chunk out of their head and they are part of the scenery. There is copious drug use. Everyone is on heroin. There is a comedy sodomy scene in a bathroom with a tied up 30-something swinger woman. Ranx also hangs a hanky out of his back pocket and some violent homosexuals think that he wants to be fisted, and it goes downhill and further downhill. There is also a strange passage where he is slightly reprogrammed to think he is Fred Astaire and there is a disturbing dance routine Ranxerox does with a minimalist g-string that I can only cite as beyond minimalist when it comes to g-strings. There is more, but seriously...what the hell.

I have tried hard, damn hard to stiffen up my old wounds, nerve and intestines in order to accept this Ranxerox character as something cool and fun. I have tried to macho myself out and wear Ranx as a badge, but I can't. This is a mountain that I can't climb. I was beaten down on the subject back when I was a kid. Now I just can't find anything redeemable about it. I dove into the vortex and for the moment, it looks like I get nothing out of it.

I have been considering Ranxerox hard for the past bit here. I made the above picture my wallpaper on my computer and on my Blackberry. Furthermore, I made it my avatar for my Facebook account. I joined the Ranxerox Facebook page and came in with bluster and excitement hoping to get more information on this concept. It has all been lacklustre though. I haven't been able to land the fish that I am after. As a kid, Judge Dredd wrecked me too. I was on a Judge Dredd kick a few weeks ago and I landed the fish. After I was done diving back through that vortex, I felt like I had accomplished something. I comprehended the consciousness of it all, and I liked it. However, after meditating on this perverted Ranxerox concept for the past two weeks, I come out even more befuddled. I don't know who could possibly dig on this stuff seriously. If there is a person out there who really digs on it, I would love to have them explain to me what I am missing.

Such is Heavy Metal Magazine for that matter. I suffered through the first horribly animated film starring John Candy's voice, and I didn't get it. I don't get it. It doesn't matter how old I am or how scarred I am emotionally. Look at the picture below. This is the cover for Ranxerox in New York. That isn't Lubna he is holding. As a matter of fact, the woman he is holding is nowhere to be found in the story. If I might be so bold, she looks like she is probably a prostitute. So what is the purpose of this picture? I saw this picture first when I was in 10th grade in high school and I didn't get it. I recognized the sleazieness of it, but I didn't get it. Here I am years later recognizing the sleaziness of it and still not getting it. I suppose that there are things out there...pop culture things that are just beyond me.

I plan on dropping all things RANXEROX into that thread until I have successfully put this concept to bed in my mind. It could be awhile, I have been tripping on this guy since the metal-soaked 80s.


Monday, October 12, 2009



I had never heard of director Nicolas Winding Refn, but I am guessing he is a big Kubrick fan. I am thinking HUGE because his movie BRONSON is obviously someone else’s take on A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. The film hits as hard as CLOCKWORK too; it even has its own strange attempts at rehabilitation. The only film that I can think of in recent history that secures the levels of viewer-abuse that BRONSON locks is CHOPPER starring a then-unknown Eric Bana. Like BRONSON, CHOPPER is a wretched meditation on the mind of a criminal. There should be no surprise that both of these movies leave the viewer shell-shocked and questioning the purpose of human existence. BRONSON is a mean, homoerotic homage to the classic prison and mental institution films of the 70s and 80s.

BRONSON breaks the fourth wall from the start and continues doing so throughout. Mickey Peterson (Tom Hardy – Handsome Bob in ROCKNROLLA) is onstage telling his life story to a packed theater audience. He is looking directly at the camera though, and his shtick is actually rather funny at times. This absurdist presentation (complete with varying uses of white and black face-paint) keeps the viewer slightly off-kilter and prepped for the actual story which is as volatile as a powder keg with thirty lit fuses.

Mickey Peterson is Britain’s most famous criminal. He is a brawler, he backs down to no one, and his scarred body shows it. His life is a complete twisted-metal, smoking wreckage. BRONSON the movie painfully tries to examine and evaluate this man who fights with his fists against incredible odds ALL THE TIME. With his shaved head and handlebar moustache, Mickey is as psychotic as Woody Harrelson in NATURAL BORN KILLERS. The skinhead Nazi bassline is a part of Mickey’s swansong that is only hinted at in one scene when Mickey uses his own blood to make a swastika on his cement prison wall.

There is no explanation for why Mickey is such a brooding brute. While lovingly referencing SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, the camera keeps to angles that make actor Tom Hardy seem impossibly huge. Prison is about stripping everything away from a man and having him face his mistakes. Mickey furthers this concept by stripping his clothes off and greasing his naked flesh for unfair bouts with prison guards. This Mickey Peterson character is too big to contain. The camera actually seems to cower from him at times, almost as if Tom Hardy might have snapped and actually become Mickey while the film was being made.

When Mickey is moved to a mental institution, he is pumped full of drugs, so much so that all he can do is hoarsely squeak and drool. In an analogue for Mickey’s whiteface performance, a fellow inmate defecates in his own hand and wipes the filth on his face. Mickey is equally insane. All he wants to do is go back to jail. He even kills another inmate to get sent back, but he is such a problem that he is force-deemed “sane” so that the institution can be rid of him.

Mickey is released back into society for 69 days. He is a twitching shell of a man who makes his spare cash participating in bare-knuckle brawls. Mickey chooses to call himself Charlie Bronson, because the name is badass and “nobody gives a toss about Charlton Heston.”

His connection to the brawling underworld comes from his morally vacant Uncle Jack (Hugh Ross) who lives in a house brimming with transvestites, party girls, and the inexplicable. That being said, I have to cite that the homoerotic vibes that this film throws out are heavy-handed. Too many times to count, the camera lusts after Bronson’s muscular form. Tom Hardy goes all the way with his role as Bronson. His uncircumcised penis is on display in a slow motion fight in ways that Doctor Manhattan’s blue member couldn’t have been in THE WATCHMEN.

Bronson’s time of freedom is cut short in a strangely sweet passage where he steals an engagement ring for a harlot he loves in a vicious unarmed jewelry store heist. The last act of this film is Bronson going head to head with the warden at his new prison. The warden has seen swollen anarchists like Bronson before and can’t be bothered to refer to Bronson as much more than “ridiculous” and “pitiful.”

Bronson takes up drawing as therapy. When Bronson’s art teacher tells him to “find that piece of you that doesn’t belong here” in his drawings, it seems like there might be hope for him. There is no hope though, and this film beats the viewer about the head with this fact rather gleefully in the last act.

BRONSON presents the British prison system and all that is wrong with it. It also presents a man who really needs to fit into the prison system but can’t because he is a complete misfit. This film becomes a harrowing experience as its hopelessness is presented ALL IN CAPS for almost two hours. Like A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, BRONSON is a well-made but emotionally draining film about a societal misfit that is excruciating to watch. Neither film is one that I need to go back to anytime soon.

Thursday, October 8, 2009



From the first scene THE OPEN DOOR comes out screaming. A zombie-eyed father has his weeping family hostage at gunpoint somewhere in suburban America. The setup leaves the viewer expecting a pedestrian cynical view of the modern American family. What is ultimately delivered is something superior. THE OPEN DOOR is a well-balanced horror movie that salutes horror films from PSYCHO to 70s drive-in fare like THE LOVE BUTCHER to the harder stuff like DEAD ALIVE. At its heart THE OPEN DOOR is a fascinating little story that will leave you wanting more.

THE OPEN DOOR is technically a movie about high school, teenage angst, and sexual tension. Angelica (Catherine Georges) has a crush on Brad (Mike Dunay) and wants to hookup (they don’t call it “going out” anymore). Unfortunately, she is on restriction for staying out past curfew with her snotty, backstabbing friend Staci (Sarah Christine Smith). Staci is out to thwart the Angelica/Brad hookup in order to give the brooding egomaniac Owen (Ryan Doom) a chance at Angelica. Staci plays headgames via cellphone with Angelica making her vulnerable to the forces of darkness. The high school social drama is what makes the horror in this film possible.

A nondescript white van with a serious antenna on the top broadcasts pirate radio from a different location every full-moon. The DJ, wearing a cowl, talks a smooth metaphysical rant to anyone tuning into 99.9 FM. He speaks of taking control of your life and making decisions for yourself. His message is tailor-made for Angelica who is listening in lieu of going to a party. In frustration with her situation Angelica calls the radio show, and her wishes are soon put into motion.

What follows is a series of truly creepy moments that lead to a full-on horror show. Something mean-spirited has been loosed that as the film progresses, becomes less of a trickster and more of a killer. Reminiscent of THE EVIL DEAD, it jumps from body to body. Those that it possesses have the zombie-eyed stare that we see in the first scene. THE OPEN DOOR is very successful at introducing the horror in that opening scene and then re-opening its elements later in the film when they have been all but forgotten.

The effects are fun and concise. There isn’t an abuse of CGI or splatter although both are present. This is a film that maintains a normal pace and then kicks into overdrive with a vengeance. All of that high school drama? Solved. The violence that is unleashed is furious. When this film starts working out its chaotic conclusion, it is fun to keep up with who has been dispatched and who has been simply decommissioned for a spell.

The cast of THE OPEN DOOR really delivers. There is a lot of strength in Catherine Georges’ portrayal of Angelica. Her mousey high-school girl on the cusp of full-bloom awkwardness is conveyed perfectly. Similarly, Daniel Booko as Spike is convincing as Owen’s punk-ass, brainless, thug-lieutenant. Even Doc Duhane, the director of the film is convincing as a man walking his dog while being mooned by Owen and his crew as they drive by.

THE OPEN DOOR is a well-polished independent film with all of the claws and teeth that a full-blown Hollywood horror production carries. THE OPEN DOOR delivers more goods than it initially seems to promise. When it ends and the credits roll, the viewer is left wanting more. Hopefully we will get more because this movie is a franchise waiting to happen.

-Mediasaurus Rex

Tuesday, October 6, 2009



WHIP IT is not your typical romantic chick flick. It is a film that illustrates what a complicated, ugly, and brutal world a girl has to negotiate to become a woman. In a key moment, the main protagonist Bliss (Ellen Page) threatens to metaphorically “grow a pair,” and as she does, the film also develops the kind of balls that Tony Montana would be proud of.

Bliss is a seventeen year-old high school student who works at a nowhere restaurant with her best friend Pash (ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT’s Alia Shawkat). When Bliss sees three tattooed, tough, and self-assured roller-derby girls passing out fliers for their next tournament, she is inspired to rethink exactly who she is and what she can become. She also knows that no one will approve of her new aspiration to become a roller girl. Pash is willing to play along for a minute, but a series of roller derby-associated events place a serious strain on their relationship.

There is a vibe of constant potential danger inherent in most of Bliss’ choices throughout this film. For instance, high school girls shouldn’t be at house parties drinking with twenty and thirty-somethings. Such underlying tensions weep from various scenes like open wounds. Any seasoned viewer can see the tragedies coming in this film, but we are forced to helplessly watch them unfold, just as in real life.

WHIP IT is about the tension between parental expectations, control, and the emergence of young adult individuality. Bliss’ mother, Brooke (DAMAGE’s Marcia Gay Harden) has Bliss painfully trained to participate in beauty pageants in the hope that she will snare a decent husband and live out the traditional Texan nuclear family vision. But this is not at all what Bliss wants for herself. Daniel Stern is the most convincing I have ever seen him as Earl, Bliss’ beer-slugging father. He portrays a man who may not comprehend all of life’s variables, but he is willing to support his daughter valiantly.

But when Bliss lies about her age and joins the all-girl roller derby team in nearby Austin Texas, she puts her family, her friends, and her pre-slugged future all on the line.

In most ways, the story of WHIP IT sounds like any number of clich├ęd coming-of-age stories. It is, but then it isn’t. WHIP IT hits some seriously raw nerves in regards to the fraying of parental/offspring relations. Should kids do what their parents want in order to please them, or should kids do what they feel is right for themselves?

Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig) takes Bliss under her wing and fits the mentor role perfectly. Bliss, AKA Babe Ruthless, goes to hell and back all while becoming a force to be reckoned with on the roller derby track.

The actors in this film PUT IT DOWN. No one slouches in this production. Every actor in this film is completely conscious and working towards making the experience as sincere as possible. Furthermore, it is clear that this film was a team effort, and kudos to director Drew Barrymore for pulling such a fantastic team together. Barrymore pulled and she got the juice out of all of them. Juliette Lewis’ mean streak as Iron Maven, Bliss’ main nemesis on the track, is painful, convincing, and dangerous. Barrymore is in the mix as well as a serious ass-kicker named Smashley Simpson. Jimmy Fallon puts in some sleaze-work as the sexually underappreciated courtside announcer Johnny Rocket. Zoe Bell (Uma Thurman’s stuntwoman and star of DEATH PROOF) also delivers a convincing portrayal of Bloody Holly.

When Bliss’ world comes crashing in on her and she has to make the hard choices, the mood of angst and turmoil is as heavy as it can possibly be. This overwrought delivery works perfectly because ultimately, this is a movie about being 17 years old, and 17 is life’s ground zero for hell on earth.

WHIP IT is being shopped as a drama/comedy. There are some light laughs that provide respite from the harder topics being presented. The movie’s title has to do with a roller derby strategy that propels a team-member to the front of the group. Bliss is metaphorically “whipped” to the front of everyone’s collective lives in this film as well. WHIP IT deals with relationships and the strains that impact them as we enter adulthood. Bliss is a character that we can all relate to, and WHIP IT is a film that should appeal to everyone regardless of gender. This is a chick flick with balls, mang.

-Mediasaurus Rex

Thursday, October 1, 2009



DARK COUNTRY is a retro-vibe horror film that feels like an R-Rated episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Originally slated to be a 3-D film, it has gone straight to DVD without a mention of this original intention. There is a minimal cast. The bulk of the film is shot during a nighttime desert drive outside of Las Vegas while newlyweds Dick (Thomas Jane) and Gina (Lauren German) try to figure out what exactly is happening to them.

The driving time is where a most of the plot develops. The screenplay by Tab Murphy (GORILLAS IN THE MIST, BROTHER BEAR) is so firmly rooted in dialogue, relationships, and lack of trust that this film could be re-enacted rather easily on a stage. The dialogue conveys the plot. Director and star Thomas Jane, who is looking more and more like HIGHLANDER’s Christopher Lambert, holds it all down like a champ. The problem? DARK COUNTRY is a metaphysical thriller the content of which could really have been presented in thirty minutes flat. What Jane fills the extra hour of film with is nonstop beauty.

Dick and Gina are driving across the desert at night to escape the daytime heat and start a new life. The shot of the horizon when the DARK COUNTRY title appears is a triumph of cinematography. The dark is beautiful and alive, and Jane makes sure we know it. The moths that splat the windshield and the twin plumes of headlight feel sinister. The usage of greenscreen for various driving shots smack of the Marion Crane sequences in Hitchcock’s PSYCHO. The couple’s classic Dodge (which looks like a Polara, but I am open for correction) secures the retro feeling that SIN CITY had with its use of cars. If there wasn’t a cellphone in this film, it would be lodged somewhere between the mid-fifties and the late sixties.

The plot is rather simple, but the way it unfolds makes it seem much more complex than it really is. Dick and Gina have gotten married in Vegas after a one-night stand. They don’t know each other, and their lack of trust for each other fuels the paranoia that comes in the second act. When they pick up a wounded traveler on the road, things get really hairy. Does this traveler know Dick, or is he merely using his name disparagingly (phallus)? Does he know something about Gina’s past?

There is a crypto-psychedelic flavor to it all that is confirmed when one character says “No turn unstoned.” Drug use isn’t at play in this film, but the awkward footing the viewer is given leads one to wonder. Things aren’t what they seem in the desert, and the deeper the plot gets, the further off of sanity’s map one will fall. What the plot cruises toward in road-jitter form is the truth. Sadly, the final crescendo is a sputter. This film does retro right down to its TWILIGHT ZONE ending.

I really can’t tell more than that without really spoiling it. What DARK COUNTRY lacks in plot, it more than makes up for in mood and setting. There is a dark, comic-bookish feel to this film that makes it feel like a graphic novel brought to life. It is worth your time to poke around at to see the storyboarding and concept art. It makes complete sense that this film is dedicated to the memory of BETTIE PAGE, ROCKETEER, MR. MONSTER artist Dave Stevens. DARK COUNTRY is a visual journey into that realm of horror that used to keep your parents awake at night but probably won’t have that same effect on you.

-Mediasaurus Rex




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