Tuesday, March 30, 2010

BADASS VID REVIEW: SCARFACE



This is the first in our video series that offers concise movie reviews of the classics.


Produced by: THE MAKE STUDIO
Beats courtesy of: MR. DAPPER








BADASS VID REVIEW - INTRO BEATS



We've been putting together our concise video review series. I must say that this intro is groovy, and it gets groovier the more you watch and listen to it.



Produced by: THE MAKE STUDIO

Beats Courtesy of: MR. DAPPER












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Monday, March 29, 2010

WALL STREET 2 FAIL



WALL STREET 2 FAIL

It has been over 20 years since the original WALL STREET. The Internet was ablaze with praise for the WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS TRAILER. However, news just dropped recently that the new film has been rated PG-13. This is a problem because WALL STREET was originally an adult-themed film for adults. It seems that the focus is now on teeny-bopper favorite Shia LeBeouf and not on old-school-fresh- out-of-the-pen Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas). The new trailer actually has a hard, cynical edge to it that smacks of THE BLUES BROTHERS. What 13 year old is actually a fan of this movie? It was originally supposed to be released this last Feb, but has been moved to April. Oliver Stone is the director, and we are open to being corrected here, but this might be his first PG-13 film. This whole endeavor is beginning to reek of FAIL.

-Mediasaurus Rex

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

COP OUT



COP OUT – A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW

COP OUT is an extremely light, low-violence, high-profanity buddy cop film. It has all of the well-lubricated trappings of a Saturday night TV movie. This film is so trite and inconsequential that there isn’t much that can be said for or against it. The plot, one-liners, and silly circumstances are all so simple that it is work to remember any of them even directly after viewing the film. Even the soundtrack is horribly worn-out, featuring the Beastie Boys’ NO SLEEP TILL BROOKLYN and Poison’s EVERY ROSE HAS ITS THORN. Part of the truth behind this film’s shortcomings is the title of the production, “COP OUT,” which admits to blatant carelessness as the excuse for the end product. Another part is that the script was penned by television writers Rob and Mark Cullen. The essence of COP OUT is as follows: fanboy favorite Kevin Smith directs, Bruce Willis scowls, and Tracy Morgan hams it up.

For fans of Tracy Morgan, COP OUT has several enjoyable moments. Morgan’s random-assed, profane shtick is the glue that holds the film together. He is a good-humored slob in this film, perpetually wiping his nose, drooling, and having food fall out of his mouth. As a movie-quote obsessed law enforcement misfit named Paul Hodges, Tracy Morgan hits the notes he always hits. During the entire film, Hodges obsesses over his wife Debbie (Rashida Jones) and whether or not she is sleeping with his smarmy neighbor. Hodges is very clear about his love for her, saying such sappy lines as, “You got me open like a research monkey.”

But, Morgan is just doing Morgan here. In fact, it is a matter of time before someone makes a fan-film of COP OUT using Morgan’s SNL and 30 ROCK material because less the profanity, all elements of Morgan’s performance in COP OUT have been presented before. The notion that Morgan has been a NYPD officer for almost a decade is completely ludicrous. But with a title like COP OUT, what is to be expected?

Much as Morgan recycles his schtick in COP OUT, Bruce Willis as Jimmy Monroe delivers a pastiche of Willis doing Willis. He plays Morgan’s partner and “straight guy” in this comedy, managing to deliver a sleepwalking John McClane from DIE HARD. Monroe isn’t as hyper as John McClane, and he isn’t as hung over as 16 BLOCKS’ Jack Mosely, but he is all Willis. He is once again a snide, bullet-headed tough-guy who resists any and all that hold any authority over him. His most serious nemesis is the rich, smug bastard Roy (Jason Lee) who married Monroe’s ex-wife. Willis is looking weary in this role, and when a young red-handed perpetrator refers to Monroe as a “Professor X looking motherf*cker,” he isn’t far off the mark.

COP OUT’s plot is loosely built around a tazer-happy robbery that ends with the loss of Jimmy Monroe’s prized collectable baseball card. Monroe was going to cash in the card to pay for his daughter’s wedding. Earlier in the film, Roy egotistically offered to pay for the wedding, but Monroe’s pride is what drives the plot. Monroe and Hodges are both on a 30 day suspension for some Youtube shenanigans and have nothing better to do than to track down the thief. Dave (Seann William Scott) provides a lot of Ritalin flavored humor as the completely imbalanced thief of the aforementioned card.

Monroe and Hodges eventually track the card down to baseball paraphernalia obsessed gangster Poh Boy (played by a seriously typecast Guillermo Diaz). Poh Boy is a local Mexican gangster that holds court in a Catholic church and torments his victims with baseballs cracked at them with his Louisville Slugger. There is also a stolen Mercedes and a different kidnapped Mexican gangster’s mistress in the mix. A lot of coincidence and a lot of law-breaking force Monroe and Hodges into business with Poh Boy, and the silliness remains constant.

With a borderline brilliant performance by a patently foul-mouthed Susie Essman and an obnoxious turn by Kevin Pollack, COP OUT has all of the potential to be something really funny. But unfortunately, a lot of the humor in this film fizzles. Most of the jokes are smile but not laugh-worthy.

This is definitely a buddy-cop film though and has all of the trappings of such classics as the James Caan/Alan Arkin classic FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, the Gregory Hines /Billy Crystal RUNNING SCARED, or even a ridiculously fluffy LETHAL WEAPON. But the end product is buoyed by nothing. The action is minimal, the jokes are more miss than hit, and a strange sort of goofiness takes the center stage with such antics as a car chase through a graveyard and a demonstration of a parkour fail.

I think that the biggest question in the minds of most people who watch this film will be “what was Kevin Smith thinking?” There are one or two moments in this film that feel completely Smithian, but COP OUT feels mostly like a bloated, generic production that could have been helmed by any number of moderately talented directors.

COP OUT could easily be interpreted as the final demonstration of Smith selling out. Add this to his over-the-top milking of his fat-boy chastising on Southwest Airlines, and it is safe to say that he’s just taken the easy road this time around. COP OUT is nothing special; it is a bland diversion at best. All of the familiar pieces are in place, but it is nothing more than a late-night mediocre TV movie with a creative assortment of profanity.


-Mediasaurus Rex

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CAPTAIN AMERICA - A BADASS TAKEDOWN




For the past several weeks the fanboy universe has been exploding with rumors and speculation about who will be the next Captain America. It has been rather sickening because Captain America is a lame Marvel Comic character to begin with. The Falcon is much cooler. Yesterday, the world was ablaze with the news that Chris Evans will be Captain America in the upcoming movie. While it is great that there will one day be an Avengers tie-in film with Nick Fury (Sam Jackson) and Iron Man (Sherlock Holmes) this Chris Evans character is about as weaksauce as weaksauce gets. Chris Evans is the smart-assed asshat that played The Human Torch in those two horrific Fantastic Four movies. I cite Evans' character and performance as the stupidest of that stupid series. Somehow the powers that be feel that he should foul-up yet another part of the Marvel Universe. This whole endeavor reeks of FAIL.


-Mediasaurus Rex

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

THE RUNAWAYS - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW



THE RUNAWAYS – A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW
By: The Mad Hatter

There's nothing that brings this music geek more joy than discovering new music. Be it a smaller act that hasn't broken big yet or a bygone band that I wasn't into before, there's little in the world that can beat a cache of new tracks I can play to death for a week or three. So in that respect, I’m thankful to this film for introducing me to the music of The Runaways. But while this music geek is satisfied, this movie geek is amazingly dissatisfied. Perhaps it's because after thirteen dollars and just shy of two hours, I still don't feel like I know the members of The Runaways.

The story begins in the summer of 1975 when we're introduced to sixteen year old Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning). Cherie lives for glam rock, has a loving sister, and seems to spend most days wanting to break the shit cycle her life has become. At the same time, we meet young Joan Larkin (Kristen Stewart), or Joan Jett as she prefers to be called. In a time where the boys are dressing like girls, Joan wants to dress like a boy. Not only does she want to dress like a boy, she wants to play electric guitar like a boy.

Joan spends many nights at Rodney's English Disco, a club in L.A. that features bands like David Bowie and The Stooges. It's here that she sees music producer Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon) and talks him into forming an all-girl rock band. Fowley likes the idea—believing there's money to be made—and sets out with Jett to fill in the ranks. Topping the list is the need for a lead singer, a role that blonde bit of jailbait named Currie just might be able to fill.

I wanted to like THE RUNAWAYS, I really did. But wowsers, what a mess.

The film has a few good qualities to it, not the least of which are the two lead actresses, which save it from being a complete failure. As Cherie Curie, Dakota Fanning successfully makes the jump to an adult acting career. Every moment she is behind a microphone, she cuts the audience with a vicious charisma that a child actor isn't capable of.

Equally impressive is Kristen Stewart. Admittedly, I came into the movie ready to rip the once-and-future Bella to bits . . . but I can't. She has done her homework and does indeed bring much of Joan Jett's swagger and sneer to her performance in THE RUNAWAYS. If I have any knock against Kristen Stewart, it's that she isn't quite given enough to do.

Beyond the leading ladies and an appropriately killer soundtrack, the film is damn near forgettable. It focuses more on the story of Cherie Currie than any of the other four young ladies, which would be fine if it didn't treat her story like so many other junkie cautionary tales I've already seen. Besides the fact that I didn't get to know any member of the band not named Joan or Cherie, the story of their success felt to me like it was over before it began. I mean one scene they're playing a club in the American midwest, and the next scene they're packing for Japan. Shouldn't there have been a night or two at The Whiskey in between those two career steps?

While director Floria Sigismondi has given certain moments an edgy visual flare, especially a kick ass sequence of the band performing "Hollywood," her pacing feels like a six year-old telling you what they did in school that day. The film includes some truly abrasive editing and pulls the impressive trick of both luring you into what is actually “The Cherie Curie Story” yet still telling you very little about her. The movie has so many moments where it feels like it could be an indie film touchstone of rock & roll, but instead of getting on stage and slaying the crowd, it pisses its pants, and runs out the side door.

I'll spot THE RUNAWAYS one point on the scoreboard: it did set me directly on a mission to get music by the titular band on to my iPod. But besides that token gesture of pointing me towards a musical blind spot, I'm left feeling ripped off and wondering what might have been.

-The Mad Hatter

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CLASH OF THE TITANS - A BADASS TAKEDOWN



CLASH OF THE TITANS - A BADASS TAKEDOWN

The Hollywood remake machine is still in overdrive. But this might be another instance where they shouldn't have bothered. The fact is that the original CLASH OF THE TITANS is technically, a stupid film. The original Harryhausen animation was about as good as it got during that time, but that was it. Harry Hamlin couldn't act and Lawrence Olivier was asleep at the wheel. The story of the Medusa, the Kraken and Calibos were all great if the viewing audience was 8 years old. This new PG-13 version is CG heavy and looks extremely light in the intelligence department. Watch the trailer and see for yourself. This time around, the Medusa looks strangely hot and the Kraken looks more than a little like that horrible American remake of GODZILLA. Starring "the modern everyman" Sam Worthington? It is hard to get excited for this thing.

-Mediasaurus Rex

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Monday, March 22, 2010

PREDATORS TRAILER - A BADASS TAKEDOWN



PREDATORS TRAILER - A BADASS TAKEDOWN

When Arnold put that original Predator down, it should have stayed down. Now there is an awful lot of fanboy hoopla about this upcoming PREDATORS movie. The PREDATOR franchise is a failed one. All of the movies since the original have sucked, and here comes a new one. Watch the trailer and see that this is THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME crossed with SECRET WARS. This is THE PEST without Leguizamo. This is SURVIVING THE GAME without Ice-T.

Taking the "worlds greatest criminals" to some planet to be hunted by dreadlocked aliens is in short, stupid. Furthermore, it is directed by Nimrod Atal, the same clown who attempted to kill Matt Dillon's career with ARMORED (which I had a lot of hope for). Watch the stupid TRAILER, and read more in the PREDATORS THREAD in the MEDIASAURS FORUM.

-Mediasaurus Rex

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Friday, March 19, 2010

GOD OF WAR 3 - A BADASS VIDEO GAME REVIEW PART 1

GOD OF WAR 3 - A BADASS VIDEO GAME REVIEW PART 1



It has been a few years since I shook with rage, belting profanities at the television while trying to complete the Challenge of the Titans in GOD OF WAR 2. It has been so long, actually, that I now think of the emotional trauma with pleasant thoughts. That all happened back in the days of the PS2. At the time, I knew that the PLAYSTATION 3 would be the platform for GOD OF WAR 3, and I have patiently waited for both.

GOD OF WAR 3 is now here, and I am currently making my way through it. Kratos, the tormented, mysterious bastard son of Zeus, is on a serious mission. He is out to kill all of the gods of Olympus, and from what I have seen so far, he just might do it. Kratos still sports the battle wound in his sucked up stomach from GOW2. The ghost of Sparta is a buffed-out, snarling man whose method of dispatching his opponents has gotten even more violent in this incarnation. His all-out street brawling and bare-handed decapitation and disembowelment of his opponents are now amped to a constant roid-rage assault. Kratos doesn’t smile and has no time for small talk. The gods need to run and hide because this man who has mastered time itself is out to kick some serious god-ass. I am nowhere near done with this thing, but what I have accomplished so far is worth writing about.

I am barely in the first leg of the story, but while I work my way through the game, I will post plot highlights. But before that happens, some really cool aspects of the game should be explained, the very first one being the overall look of the game, which is on some grand-scale, epic-sauce. The world that Kratos inhabits is huge, intricate, and beautifully sculpted. At times, the horizon appears to go as far as the eye can see, and it is covered with all of the details of an ancient land. The GOD OF WAR series has always pushed the hardware to its graphic limits, and the beauty presented in GOD OF WAR 3 is definitely up to speed with the PS3. The biggest steps that GOW3 makes in its adjustment to the PS3 are the easily presented jumps from cinematic cut scenes to actual gameplay. This brings a new, powerfully theatrical element to the game. And it should be noted that controlling Kratos is just as fluid as it ever was. One can mash through this incarnation or time attacks and finish enemies with finesse. It is pretty to watch, exciting to participate in, and the blood, intestines, and gore are nothing shy of absolute, chaotic beauty.

Between GOW3 and TEKKEN 6, my left hand has started to cramp up a little bit in the center of the palm. If this continues, I will have to pull a Roy Baty (BLADE RUNNER) and jam a nail through my hand. “Not…yet!” (More on BLADE RUNNER in a bit.)

GOW3 starts in the thick of battle, right after GOW2. Kratos has beaten the Fate Sisters into submission and has brought the titans forward to storm Mount Olympus. Zeus and his buddies are looking over the edge and see the chaos coming. Kratos is riding on the titan Gaia’s arm, looking to straighten Zeus out once and for all. He did get his hands on Zeus the last time around and put an unholy beating to the god. Kratos was about to finish the job when Athena stepped in and took the death blow. With the death of Athena, Kratos lost his only decent connection with the Olympians. His complete focus on toppling the gods that have toyed with him his entire life has consumed him. All Kratos wanted was a break from his nightmarish past. He’d formally requested a memory wipe. So the gods gave him a few tasks, implying that they would grant his request. But in the end, Kratos was tricked and saddled with even more hellish memories. His comprehension of the gods is correct: they are power-hungry liars with no real concern for human suffering. In GOW3 Kratos is presented as one seriously pissed off, undead Spartan cleaning house.

The gods, while looking like silly, second-rate Whitman Comics superheroes, are actually rather formidable. Titans are getting tossed off of Mount Olympus rather easily. A human-sized Poseidon dives straight into one titan’s chest and pulls him down into the ocean. Poseidon is no joke. If you know your mythology, he is the brother of both Hades and Zeus. His father is Cronos. He is the dude that runs the ocean. But, like his slutty brother Zeus, Poseidon has a history of running buck-wild with human women. One of the products of such conquests is Theseus. Kratos handed Theseus his ass in GOW2, so it makes sense that Poseidon is first up to bat.

What Poseidon unleashes upon Gaia and Kratos is really rather cool. The game is barely ten minutes in, and suddenly, stuff gets biblical. The attack of the Leviathan is an interesting one. Leviathan is a horse-headed, crab-legged sea-serpent. It digs into Gaia with its crab legs, and Kratos has to go head-to-head with it. This is reminiscent of the Hydra that Kratos has to tame with spikes to the head in GOW1. This reference to GOW1 is all that there is though. Gameplay against the Leviathan is heavy duty. Kratos is required to rip its ribcage open and attack its heart. It is an action-packed showdown with water, crab legs, and noise in all directions. The platform is Gaia, and there is even an upside down sequence in it all.

After the Leviathan is dropped, the war with Poseidon is on. Kratos’ beatdown of Poseidon may be one of the most violent cut/action scenes ever committed to a mainstream video game. There is a headbutt, multiple fists and boots to the face, and a general slamming of Poseidon’s head into all rock formations in the area. The smoothest thing about it all is that the beating is shown from Poseidon’s POV. The end of Poseidon is an “I want more life f*cker” eyeball poke straight outta BLADE RUNNER, followed by a snapped neck. Poseidon’s tossed body lands in the water and generates a Tsunami. Epic? Absolutely.

Kratos can’t quite get his hands on Zeus though. As Gaia reaches the top of Olympus, Zeus topples her and sends her falling down the mountain with a horribly severed forearm. She is no longer working with Kratos and in fact, tells him that he was just a pawn. The games of the gods and the titans are afoot. And with that, Kratos falls into Hades again. However, it is apparent that this time around, he is finally going to get his hands on the god of the underworld and hopefully administer a Poseidon-status beating to this guy.

In all of this, Athena has appeared in her post-goddess form, still eager to assist Kratos, even though he killed her. Like I said, the games of the gods and the titans are afoot. I will post another update on the storyline as I get further along. What I can say at this point is that GOW3 is delivering as much and more of a punch than its predecessors. This is the must-have game for the PS3, period.


-Mediasaurus Rex

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

DARK FANTASY - A BADASS STUDY OF INDEPENDENT FILM-MAKING




DARK FANTASY – A BADASS STUDY OF INDEPENDENT FILM-MAKING

By: HERB WEST

Do you want me to show you what my fantasies are like?

DARK FANTASY is an ambitious little film by Ian J. Keeney that takes us into the mind of a serial killer. It stars Cristoph A. Nowaczyk as Art, a recently paroled murderer, and he gives off a creepy, weasely, unlikable vibe from the start. DARK FANTASY can be best described as a crime thriller with a descent into madness. The film follows Art as he tries to resist his urges to kill while either bedding, or outright raping, every hot girl in town.

We also have a Sam Jackson-type character who is not what he appears to be. For most of the film, we're not sure if he is a thug, a villain, a cop, a combination of all of those, or something else entirely. About half way through the film, we find out that nothing is as it seems, so we as an audience just have to try to keep up. Much like SHUTTER ISLAND, this is a film you have to go into with an open mind and knowing as little about it as possible.

I'm not even going to try to explain the plot because it would be doing a great disservice to it. Instead, I will explain why I think DARK FANTASY should be looked at as the template for all future independent films. I know that this is unlikely, and I'm not suggesting that anyone rip DARK FANTASY off. I'm just saying that the following film-making theories represented in DARK FANTASY are sound.

DARK FANTASY makes good use of imagery.

A good example is the nude woman lying face down in bed at the crime scene. Ever since GOLDFINGER, this has been a powerful image if competently directed. In scenes like this we don't need to know what happened. We don't need to see blood or gore. We don't need a coroner character to come in and pronounce the woman dead. We already know something ugly and terrible has happened, and our minds fill in the rest.

DARK FANTASY uses realistic nudity and violence.

Nudity in Hollywood films is usually presented in three contexts:
1. Shower Scene
2. Teenagers skinny dipping.
3. Love scenes bathed in blue light “darkness” where we see a leg, a breast, a face, a butt, a side view, a breast again, etc., all set to some cheesy music.

In real life when you see nudity or violence, especially when it's unexpected, it usually is dark or from a skewed perspective, such as out of the corner of your eye. It's never going to be perfectly framed shots under perfect lighting.

I'm not saying that all indies need nudity, some get by just fine without it. This is just one good example of why Indies have a lot going for them right now. Independent filmmakers can decide what they want to do without meddling executives. I want to see realism in films, not what these ridiculous, pampered Hollywood execs think the real world is supposed to be like. On the flip side of that, I've already encountered porn that tries to pass itself off as Independent film, and that is absolutely not what I am talking about either. I'm just saying that if you're going to use nudity in small films, it might as well be realistic. The same applies to violence.

DARK FANTASY is not afraid to use adult themes.

This goes right along with the above paragraph. DARK FANTASY is not afraid to push the boundaries with themes of rape, incest, and homosexuality. Before anyone panics, it is not that type of film per se. Actually, most of these themes are just hinted at, and I find that even more disturbing. Much of it is just a line or a quick scene that we're not even sure if we saw or heard correctly anyway. Because of the nature of it, we're never sure if any of it is real or not.

I can understand why Hollywood would always want to try to go for a PG-13 rating so they can market a film to the widest audience possible. This is reasonable, even though it usually means having a totally watered down version of what may have been a good film. I guess I can also understand why certain Indies would want to try for a PG-13 rating, but the fact is that young people are not interested in independent films. Teenagers are not going to have the patience for these movies, so why even try to go for a lesser rating? It doesn't make any sense. Almost every big budget film is eventually released as an unrated DVD anyway, so small filmmakers might as well just throw everything they have at their films from the beginning.

Independent films find an interesting way for the actors to play more than one part.

I'm sure that many Indies are done on a small budget, so that means many people involved have to work on many different areas of the production. DARK FANTASY found a good way for one person to play many different roles, while still making some kind of sense. It also finds a way to have more than one actor play similar, if not the exact same, characters. The acting leaves much to be desired, but it at least seems like these people were trying. I just don't think these cast members had any idea what to do with this type of material. This is a film that should be remade someday after the most obvious comparison has been forgotten.

Note to Hollywood: When you finally realize that Rob Zombie is a complete clown and reboot Halloween for the third time, hire Myles MacVane to play Dr. Loomis as soon as possible. Just do it. Pay him anything he wants. Don't believe me? Check out DARK FANTASY, and see for yourself.

-Herb West

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

GREEN ZONE - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW



GREEN ZONE - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW
By: The Mad Hatter

If one were to step outside into the Iraqi sunshine in The Green Zone, they might see people taking photos like tourists. They might see administrators in suits walking to and fro like they owned the joint. In short, they might think that since The Coalition took Baghdad and fortified this ten square kilometre area, the success of the mission was well in hand.

But as all the political maneuvering of Matt Damon's latest film shows us, one shouldn't be so naive.

GREEN ZONE begins with American forces having already taken over Baghdad; they are now tossing site after site in the hunt for weapons of mass destruction. Chief Roy Miller (Matt Damon) leads a squad that has searched site after site and so far has come up with jack squat. Making his mission all the more frustrating is the fact that Miller and his team are working off page after page of American intelligence, all of which is getting systematically disproven.

After Miller finally speaks up—and quickly gets shut up by senior officers—he is approached by a CIA employee named Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson). Brown has specialized in Middle East intelligence for years and seems to understand what is going on better than anyone else. He suggests to Miller that things aren't what they seem and that he might want to dig a little deeper . . . on his own.

Contradicting Brown's ideas is Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear), a high-ranking Washington administrator. He is convinced that his heavily guarded source "Magellan" has given him credible inside intel, and Poundstone has no problem saying so to Miller as well as New York Times reporter Lawrie Dayne (Amy Ryan). If a high ranking Washington administrator tells you that a CIA employee is offbase and that the raw data is to be trusted, he probably knows what he's talking about, right?

GREEN ZONE is well aware of its mission, and that mission isn't to be a totem of the antiwar movement. It sacrifices validity for entertainment. Its story of a soldier calling his own plays and working in direct competition with his own commanding officers won't be used as an example in any debate of American policy anytime soon. But you know what folks? There's nothing wrong with that.

GREEN ZONE is more interested in taking a building-block kernel of truth and using it to construct an intense bit of political intrigue. The audience follows right in step with Chief Roy Miller for every intense moment of the play he has called. It doesn't matter to the movie, or to the audience, that Miller couldn't possibly call a play like this. And this clearly needs to be credited to the creative pairing of director Paul Greengrass and star Matt Damon.

There are few directors working in Hollywood today who seem to be able to do intrigue and action better than Greengrass. Admittedly, his use of hand-held "shaky cam" can be a bit much for some viewers, but he has a way of grounding action sequences so that the action becomes more plausible and intense, and less about mach-six editing and expansive pyrotechnics. Damon meanwhile works rather well as an action star because he finds a way to retain his everyman demeanor, shrugging off the superhero persona that makes many A-list actors unbelievable in moments of peril.

While GREEN ZONE isn't terribly much more than a straight-up action flick, it takes direct aim at our collective conscience by continually reminding us that America's rallying cry for the need to invade Iraq was at best, questionable and at worst, dead wrong. In the opening act, the frustration is palpable as Miller's teams keep coming up empty in the search for weapons of mass destruction. Hindsight makes that frustration infinitely worse.


-The Mad Hatter

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Friday, March 12, 2010

BROOKLYNS FINEST - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW



BROOKLYNS FINEST - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW

BROOKLYNS FINEST is a beautiful, perfectly-acted, straight-up retread. Director Antoine Fuqua has brought absolutely nothing new to the cops ‘n robber genre with this one and may have in fact set it back.

Fuqua’s TRAINING DAY is a 40 oz classic. It is LA, rapper-heavy, weed-laced and rife with clich├ęs. But TD is about as street as a west coast crime film gets. Both Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke really do present their moral tug of war with the streets well. Yes, TD was essentially a familiar tune, but it had lots and lots of style.

BROOKLYNS FINEST carries a new batch of boiler plate banalities to the table, and the style is now gone. Perhaps Fuqua is saying something about his take on the East Coast, which seems to be a general incomprehension of the vibe. What this film presents is three tired-ass storylines from better, previous crime films. The film is a gratuitous, unoriginal, high-budget clone that means nothing when all of its parts are summed up. Oh, there is a far-fetched plot point akin to the girl’s wallet in TD, but it comes off as some seriously weaksauce.

The three trivial plotlines are so absolutely stock that they really do hurt the senses. There is the DEEP COVER ripoff with Tango (Don Cheadle) morally buried in his undercover work. Tango’s close relationship with his dope-slanging crime homie, Casanova (Wesley Snipes), makes for a harsh internal conflict when the police powers that be decide that it’s time to set him up.

Then there is the good cop who has to make crooked decisions in order to survive as in TO LIVE AND DIE IN LA. Sal (Ethan Hawke) is scheming to get his growing family out of their too small house. The wood mold is affecting his wife Angela (Lili Taylor) who just happens to be pregnant with twins. Sal is actually at the point of considering farming one of his older children out to live with his sister for lack of room.

Lastly there is the shopworn “burned out and seven days away from retirement” character Eddie Dugan (Richard Gere). Dugan is a wake-up-with-a-shot-of-whiskey, Russian-roulette playing, separated-from-his-wife-while-banging-a-centerfold-status-hooker type of twaddle that we have all seen before. LETHAL WEAPON and both BAD LIEUTENANTS circle this sort of drain. Dugan has seven days left on the force and really doesn’t want to make a difference during this time, but by the third act, he is forced to.

The template laid over it all is a smoldering tension between the police and civilians over a civilian murder at the hands of a crooked cop (a plot element straight out of STRANGE DAYS). Brooklyn’s famous streets from THE FRENCH CONNECTION are about to get rocked. This template is locked in with an unfathomably huge barrage of standard cop film themes featuring Catholic angst, a high-end, coke-snorting whore, a sexy, ball breaking female Federal agent, a politic-heavy IA investigation, topless girls processing cocaine and cash in a drug den, and a double-digit body count. Add some over-the-top product placement featuring RIM’s Blackberry, Sony’s PLAYSTATION 3, BMW, AUDI and scores of other products, and the film is a fully-decaled, useless, corporate Humvee.

What can be said in favor of BROOKLYNS FINEST is that every headlining actor hits the proper notes and communicates all of the emotion required to present their specific roles perfectly. Also, the supporting cast which is populated by familiar faces from THE WIRE (Michael K. Williams, Hassan Johnson, and Isiah Whitlock Jr.), as well as Vincent D’Onofrio and the perpetually sweltering Ellen Barkin, all chew the scenery when onscreen.

The film’s editing, from personal conflict to personal conflict within the three stories, is well done. The film’s third act strikes a STAR WARS kind of note with all of the conflicts going down warfare style simultaneously and key and not so key characters getting clipped, smoked, choked, and knuckled down.

Fuqua knows his story, and he knows how to pull some juicy character depth out of his actors. While some of BROOKLYNS FINEST’s elements smack of exciting action film badassery (Sal going on a DEATHWISH murder-spree to get his paper), the grand bulk of it is mired in recycled, old-hat regurgitations of late night television cop-shows.

However, aesthetically, BROOKLYNS FINEST is not a mess by any means. This is a well written, super lubricated, by-the-books production. In truth, it is a great albeit longwinded time filler that will certainly entertain as it is supposed to, but that entertainment brings no new facets to the genre. An unfortunate aspect of it all is that BROOKLYNS FINEST might just herald a new run on unoriginality in cop films because of its pristine, glossy presentation. It looks and feels so familiar and good, but BROOKLYNS FINEST is unoriginal and vacuous at its core.

-Mediasaurus Rex

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

ALICE IN WONDERLAND - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW



ALICE IN WONDERLAND - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW
-By HERB WEST



What people need to know and understand is that Burton's ALICE IN WONDERLAND is HOOK. Both films are based in the world of famous children's stories and are made by “visionary” directors. Both have the exact same theme of the hero who had adventures in a magical world as a child now grown up and having forgotten everything. Both have the now grown up heroes having to relearn the magic to save the day. Both are also epic fails of filmmaking.

As others have pointed out, this is not a retelling of the classic Alice story or its sequel, Through the Looking Glass. This would be considered the third part of the story, with the same characters. Yes, the World of Wonderland has been turned into a kid's adventure movie along the lines of Narnia or the Golden Compass. This world is now called Underland, and it's pointed out that Alice had always just mispronounced it. Alice and the Mad Hatter are now action heroes. I'm not kidding.

The film opens with a fancy gathering that doubles as Alice's engagement party. Alice is proposed to, panics, and runs away only to fall down the rabbit hole. From there we go through the classic “Eat Me Drink Me” antics where Alice grows and shrinks in size. You would think one scene would be enough but not for Tim Burton! For the rest of the film Alice fluctuates in size for no apparent reason except to put her in strange situations such as flying through the air on a hat or standing naked in front of everybody at the Red Queen's palace.

Is it the Red Queen or the Queen of Hearts? I don't even care enough to find out.

In this version, there is a prophecy about Alice liberating Wonderland or Underland or whatever it is by killing the Jabberwocky in an epic battle. This isn't really a spoiler since this ridiculous plot is jammed down our throats 10 minutes into the film. It's all foretold in a scroll, and we see the drawing of the battle three times before it happens.

I couldn't feel for one character in this film because the whole thing is so soulless and joyless. Crispin Glover as the Knave of Hearts is so bland I wanted to puke. For some reason, they decided to CGI his head onto a tall lanky body and give him erratic movements. It is totally distracting and the worst CGI I've seen in years. Why the Hell would you hire Crispin Glover and then paste his head on a skinny body anyway? Helena Bonham Carter, with her bulbous little head, is shrill and grating as the Red Queen. Johnny Depp should be great, but the Mad Hatter just feels like all of Depp's previous characters jammed into one. The big part of the problem with the Hatter is that he is forced into every aspect of the story whether it makes sense or not. Obviously it is just to get as much screen time for Depp as possible, but it ends up being pointless. I am now convinced that Anne Hathaway is a perfect specimen of woman, but even her White Queen comes off as hypocritical and bland.



The totally CGI characters are no better. Most of them are just slightly amusing at best. We have talking flowers, Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee who do absolutely nothing for the plot, a cocky mouse character that wields a hat pin like a sword, and a couple of rabbits (one mad, one not). I thought Alan Rickman as the blue heroin worm was alright, but when Whoopi Goldberg and the Hallmark Channel do a better Cheshire Cat than a Tim Burton Production, you have a serious problem.

All of the backgrounds are bright and colorful like you'd expect, but that's it. There is nothing that makes any of it memorable. This brings us to the film’s most obvious problem: the 3D marketing.

I am one who was fascinated by the 3D in Avatar because it was the best I had ever seen. It is so good that it really feels like the alien forest is coming alive right in front of your eyes, particularly some of the giant plants and lightening bug creatures. The 3D in ALICE is absolutely nothing like what we see in Avatar.

This is something that people need to understand before they pay to see ALICE in 3D. I cannot stress this enough!

I'll tell everybody right now, do not pay to see this in 3D. All you will do is spend more money, and you'll have to sit there with the uncomfortable, recycled, glasses on for no reason. In hindsight, I don't regret watching the film because I was just killing time anyway, but I do wish I would have just seen it in 2D. There will be other 3D films coming that will have to be better than this.

There are a few interesting scenes. One was when a 12 inch Alice had to cross a moat filled with decapitated heads. Alice has to jump from head to head, and it really feels like old school Burton. In another scene, the Mad Hatter is kidnapped by the Red Queen and put to work making hats for her. For those that don't know, the whole idea of Mad Hatters came about in the 1800's when hat makers still used mercury to make hats. Over time, these people would develop mercury poisoning, and the symptoms would include vision, hearing, and speech impairment, a lack of coordination, and mental illness. Because people at the time didn't realize Mercury was poisonous, it just appeared that those in this profession were all mad. Hence, mad as a hatter.

When the Hatter is happily making hats for the queen, I thought that they may bring up the real history of hat makers who were the victims of poisoning. Alas, Burton doesn't have the balls. The one standout is when the Hatter realizes for the first time that he's mad, and Alice comforts him. There's a sadness and confusion to it comparable to that in EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, but it's over in a moment.

And a couple of good scenes do not a good film make. I suppose it could have been worse, but to me ALICE is almost totally forgettable. Kids will probably like it, but I doubt many adults will. By the time the film gets to the giant chessboard war toward the end, I just wanted it to be over. When the Hatter turns into a cartoon and starts dancing with his head spinning around like Linda Blair in the EXORCIST, I wanted to gouge my eyes out with my 3D glasses. ALICE is at times visually appealing, but it has no other redeeming value. In the end, ALICE IN WONDERLAND is generic and pointless. I would not watch this again if it was free.

-Herb West

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Monday, March 8, 2010

BULLETFACE - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW



BULLETFACE – A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW

Albert Pyun makes movies that are lower in budget and tend to challenge his audience. He knows what provocation is. When THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW first appeared in theaters in 1975, Pyun was first in line on the first day. And he went to see the film daily until it was pulled for lack of attendance. THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW really provoked audiences at the time. While watching Pyun’s latest film, BULLETFACE, I felt a similar provocation. So strong was this feeling that I actually had to stop watching the film in order to process my reaction.

BULLETFACE is a revenge thriller at its nucleus. Other aspects are introduced and woven in, but this film is built around a payback core. The film starts with a series of horrible mishaps that lead to some of the heaviest moments that BULLETFACE has to offer. In San Ladero, Mexico, Dara Maren (Victoria Maurette), a crooked DEA agent, is helping her brother Bruno (Michael Esparza) smuggle women across the border for a gangster named Eric Muller (Eddie Velez). Bruno takes blood samples of the women because they have to be “clean.” This is a regular thing between Dara and Bruno, and while it looks like prostitution on the surface, it is something a lot more sinister. The connection between the siblings is strong. There is an unforeseen shootout with Eric where Dara is struck in face with a bullet, and Bruno takes one to the gut. The Mexican Federal Agents soon swoop in and bust them both. At sentencing, Dara chooses to take a twenty-five year sentence at a US/Mexico prison facility in Mexicali, Mexico in order to have her brother returned to California as a free man. All of this happens before the opening credits are finished.

While in prison, Dara is flesh fodder for the male guards, and the series of brutal rapes that she is subjected to takes all of the cringeworthy aspects of THE ACCUSED and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and ratchets them up with even more force and degradation. These scenes are disturbing and realistic. They are raw and bloody. And other rape scenes featuring Dara’s cellmates (which are referenced through the rest of the film in flashback) might be what BULLETFACE will be most remembered for.

Dara has put herself in this vulnerable position to protect her brother. To her the bond that they have is worth enduring these shocking levels of extreme abuse. But when Bruno is killed on the outside, Dara has nothing to lose.

Her prison wounds are so severe a month after her brother’s death that Dara needs to be transferred to a real hospital for the weekend. In a HE GOT GAME type of scenario, Ned Walker (Steven Bauer), a DEA Special Ops Agent, springs Dara for the weekend. Her mission is to use her connections to determine a new drug that is taking over. Dara’s planned ulterior motive is to find out who killed her brother. On the quest for the drug information and the truth behind her brother’s killing, Dara proceeds to cut a relentless, violent swath through Imperial Beach California.

Local crimelord brothers Robert and Eric Muller have been putting the finishing touches on a spinal fluid drug that is extracted violently from the victim’s neck with a needle-gun. Their warehouse is complete with the dead, naked bodies of failed experiments in the background and muted screams in the air. All of this modern human experimentation is taking place under the demented, watchful eye of Doctor Shockner/Saeed (Alan Abelow). The result of their “red-cap” drug, when not fatal, is a high that features completely-red eyes and an immortality complex. The conspiracy and usage behind the drug is rumored to go all the way to the top, with police and higher authorities using it. Dara at one point muses that it is “immortality for sale with a kicker.”

Randall Fontana’s story is an interesting one. The idea of a cannibalistic new drug is nothing new. The film RAVENOUS featured a high and immortality/strengthening with the eating of human flesh. BULLETFACE’s presentation of this new drug and the high body count used to perfect its effects are intriguing to watch.

Victoria Maurette completely throws herself into her role as Dara. She wears her psychological damage with a twitchy, hard carapace. Dara is presented as a woman who has seen too much and is plagued by her demons. She flashes back regularly to her harrowing prison past, and it is a hindrance to her. But when queried about how she got out of prison, she wryly states that she got out for good behavior and “you’d be surprised what you can do when you are motivated.” She is able to trivialize her trauma, but her nervous laughter speaks of unresolved pain.

Dara also talks about karma. Ironically, her own suffering in prison is karmic payoff for her human trafficking. And after Dara has paid her dues and taken her damage she is looking to administer some of her own. She wants to be the retribution, the complete payoff for the death of her brother. “I am their karma,” she says. This underlying theme demonstrates that BULLETFACE is more than just “another exploitation flick.”

With her ‘69’ tattoo and her Marlboro chain-smoking, Dara really does channel the badass. Her smoky voice and her whiskey and lager swaggering also show her powder-keg potential. Her orientation to the world around her is that of a person of large stature, which just isn’t the case. Dara is actually so small that when holding a .45, she might as well be holding a nail gun. She is all business; she has just a few hours to get the information that she needs and has no time for the sexual advances of her ex-lover Shannon (Jenny Dare Paulin).

Albert Pyun’s direction brings all of the film’s rough-edged elements together. There are many, many characters, and they are all introduced with a freeze-frame and their name written across the screen. Pyun uses close-ups, hand-held shots, and jagged editing which all make for some entertaining viewing. It is evident that he is in complete control of the film and is choosing what he wants you to see no matter how painful it might be.

BULLETFACE is a B-Movie with all of the exploitation and taboo subject matter it can muster. It is independent through and through. The budget for this film was about $120,000. Gunfire, double-crosses, and crooked Feds are infused in the storyline, giving it a modern noir feel. Some of the acting leaves a bit to be desired. Similarly, the effects, while conceptually strong, do miss at points.

My mistake in watching BULLETFACE was to step away from it after viewing the harsh prison rape scenes and try to process them. Had I watched the film all the way through without stopping, the complete package wouldn’t have wrecked me as hard. Taken in isolation with no buffering context, the individual images of rape are a bitter pill to swallow indeed. The rape scenes featuring sodomy and irrumatio while only showing the thrusting pelvises are extremely rough and hard to take. But taken in the context of a revenge story, the vicious aspects of such scenes are more tolerable.

Albert Pyun has set out to get a reaction from his audience, and BULLETFACE succeeds. This is not a film for the faint or the tender of heart. It packs a serious punch and begs a second viewing because of all of the characters and varying nuances in the plot. It is a boundary-pusher that remains strong in its resolve. It also ends on a note that leaves it open for a franchise. BULLETFACE wants you thinking about it, and I have been doing just that for the past few days.

-Mediasaurus Rex



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Friday, March 5, 2010

THE AVON BARKSDALE STORY: LEGENDS OF THE UNWIRED - A BADASS DOCUDRAMA REVIEW




THE AVON BARKSDALE STORY: LEGENDS OF THE UNWIRED - A BADASS DOCUDRAMA REVIEW

THE AVON BARKSDALE STORY: LEGENDS OF THE UNWIRED (ABSLOTU) is not a documentary but a docudrama. Calling something a docudrama leaves a door wide open for poetic license. This is one of the several problems with this production from K.A.J Enterprises. If you were a fan of HBO’s THE WIRE, there is no doubt in my mind that you still have a hankering for more of that Baltimore story. The character development was top-tier, and the stories that were told rang strangely true. ABSLOTU wears an unspoken badge stating that WIRE fans will catch a glimpse of the world that they seriously invested in. They won’t.

ABSLOTU does tell the story of the real Nathan Avon Barksdale. It goes to great lengths to chronicle his history and even sports some serious interview time with the man himself. This docudrama also looks into other actual human beings that were fictionalized on THE WIRE. Part of the thrust is to show that David Simon, the man behind THE WIRE, lifted these people and some of their stories for the HBO series. Simon was following the Barksdale cases back when he was a reporter at the Baltimore Sun. Serious WIRE-heads have heard whispers about Simon’s pillaging of real-life “bad actors” for his show, and ABSLOTU makes this a part of that argument.

What ABSLOTU succeeds with is the presentation of the heroin trade on the streets of “Bodymore Murdaland” and how a youngster could rise to power. The film also speaks to the corruption of the project police and the way young kids are exposed to NC-17 levels of real-life violence. Interviews with Avon, his mother, his lieutenant, a cellmate, and some local boxing coaches do a great job of painting the hopelessness of the drug-dealing lifestyle and how lives are ruined by it. Avon himself walks with a limp from a lost foot due to his shenanigans as a young punk. Unfortunately the sensationalism of the whole presentation keeps it from really being something special.

This production could have been tweaked in any number of ways to let the gravity of Avon’s behavior sink in. Avon is a man who dealt with the courts on murder, attempted murder, manslaughter and all sorts of assault. The stories of his viciousness (braining a man in court with his metal cane for example) are so brazen, it is no wonder Simon swooped Avon’s name and legend for THE WIRE. Barksdale’s own mother even nonchalantly tells of her son shooting someone in the leg and that individual bleeding to death.

Barksdale breaks down his drug wars and his ninety-four percent cut solution. He tells of dropping manhole covers off the fourteenth floor of the projects to scare competition and lightly refers to it as “dropping pizzas.” He speaks of how he loved crooked cops because he could throw some dollars at them and they would leave him alone. When Avon is on the mic in this docudrama, it is really something to behold because he is such a badass. It is a real letdown when the film leans on other means to get the Avon story across.

For instance, there are various re-enactment scenes that are corny, high-school camera hijinks status. When guns are fired, there is a small flame animation at the muzzle while the acting and dialogue is forced and unnatural. Think of the worst crime re-enactment footage you have seen on the lousiest, broken-rate, syndicated television show, and that is what you get in ABSLOTU. It is understandable that some of the crimes needed to be re-enacted, but the amateurish way in which these are handled with is rather painful.

The force that should be holding this docudrama together is Wood Harris who portrayed Avon Barksdale in THE WIRE. But Harris is obviously out of his element, and there is even a moment when Barksdale verbally snaps at Harris that really shows who is running the show.

The weakness of Harris’ interview pieces are minor compared to the real problem with ABSLOTU which is the narration of Troy May. May’s delivery is overwritten and actually smacks of that sleazy CHEATERS-style, re-enactment television narration.

Couple this with a soundtrack from the (impossible to Google) rapper Zin-Jin and the (similarly scarce) production company BrownVision Media Group, and the whole docudrama falls even shorter. The mediocre, rap music listed for ten different songs is limited to long repetitive rehearsals of lyrics like, “Its time to die, motherfucker, time to die.” These pieces of music are laid over the dramatic re-telling of the Barksdale gang’s exploits and come off sensationalized and powerless.

There is some good underneath it all though. This Barksdale character is a real talker. He presents himself as the uncle that your parents warned you to stay away from. There is no question about his criminal nature or his ability to smoke someone point blank if necessary. What is cool about him, though (in that forbidden uncle way), is his sense of humor and his relaxed tone. He does joke about the violence he used to deal out and the lack of a statute of limitations in regards to murders he may have been involved in.

Nathan Avon Barksdale is now a reformed thug that somehow survived twenty or more bullets (he claims to have three bullets in his head). He is a definite street legend and fascinating to watch. Barksdale’s nephew even volunteers information about how the Barksdale family is now trying to positively change the community, and Avon himself gives a heartfelt plug for the education of the youth. He is as street as they come; watching him is akin to observing some fantastic natural occurrence that doesn’t happen too often.

If you miss THE WIRE, ABSLOTU doesn’t bring it back. This production is so shady that when WIRE characters are shown in photographs with their hood counterparts, their faces are blurred out. Part of this lends to the street authenticity of this docudrama, but it really smacks of a bottom of the barrel budget and a capitalization on THE WIRE.

-Mediasaurus Rex

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

THE CRAZIES - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW



THE CRAZIES - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW

-By SPINAL VILLAIN

I haven't seen the original CRAZIES, so I wasn't prejudiced for or against this movie in any way. Having seen several trailers for this movie already, I was hyped, but deep down I was asking myself "will this bring anything new to the table"?

The film starts off with the center of a town burning. Cars are torched and banners are falling ablaze. It reminded me of the opening credits of TERMINATOR 2 minus the cool soundtrack and apocalyptic vision. At first I assumed the story started there. It doesn't. The story actually starts two days before with a small glimpse of a small rural life in a farming Iowa town. It is opening day at the baseball field, and much of the town is in attendance cheering their children and school on.

From this point the movie takes a grim turn as a drunken mechanic walks on to center field with a double-barreled shotgun. Those of us that have seen the trailers already know what's going to happen next, but that's not what the film wants. THE CRAZIES wants you to take the ride of discovery as if you were one of the townsfolk. And it's a fun ride.

Timothy Olyphant plays David Dutton, the town Sheriff. He has a calm demeanor and typically plays a scenario out with his gut instinct and rationale. In a town where everyone knows each other, Dutton is out to keep everyone happy and safe. It’s clear early on that he's about people and not procedure.

But when the bodies start racking up and Dutton finds himself investigating what was once a "full of shit" tip, the plot quickly thickens, and how deeply the town is in trouble becomes very clear. We find the government is watching via satellite very early on, and it doesn't take this Perry Mason character long to figure out military intervention (or containment) is inevitable.

Dutton quickly finds the root cause of an illness that is spreading. He even has a plan to stop it. Bureaucratic red tape has other plans. When Dutton confronts the town mayor about shutting off the towns’ water supply, the same Cheney-esque style of ignorance/stupidity portrayed in THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW in which a politician is worried more about his reelection bid than his constituents’ well-being is presented.

After all, shutting down a farming towns’ water supply in early spring means bankruptcy for the town, and as we all know, people place blame at the top. What follows next is a priceless piece of "civil disobedience."

From this point on, Dutton’s steadfast endeavors to put a halt to this now potential pandemic are irrelevant as the National Guard shows up and buses everyone to a concentration camp-style staging area.

This brings about a scene straight from OUTBREAK but far worse. As townsfolk try to escape, they are gunned down, leading to a riot of all the "infected" running amok and a forced evacuation by the military post-haste.

Things go to hell in rapid time. The audience is privy to all kinds of clues that lead up to the inevitable end of this catastrophe as Dutton and his wife Judy (Radha Mitchell) and Deputy Russell Clark (Joe Anderson) try to make their escape.

Unfortunately, as with all Hollywood movies, a certain amount of disbelief is required to enjoy THE CRAZIES. I just can't see anyone getting their hand impaled and still having enough function in it to punch someone in the face or even fire a gun let alone drive.

But THE CRAZIES does bring some new elements to the screen. Also, as the film’s credits roll, a small clip plays that answers an important question about the virus in a particularly funny way.

This film doesn’t have a lot of gore but does have a decent amount of blood and decay. A few predictable "jump" scenes fill in the gaps, but what surprised me were at least two scares that also got the rest of the audience. The director apparently wanted us to feel too safe at specific times, and then POW! Excellent!

The acting was on par. I especially liked Tim Olyphant and Radha Mitchell's performances. And overall, THE CRAZIES will make a solid rental for those who will miss the theatrical release.

-Spinal Villain

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Monday, March 1, 2010

AVATAR - A BADASS MOVIE ANALYSIS



AVATAR - A BADASS ANALYSIS

-By Tom Carney

Note: The following could be greatly expanded. However space considerations will not allow that. The themes which are presented are present in many of the minor characters as well as in the entire way the film was made.

I look at this film as a work of art, in the same sense that a painting, a lyric poem, a play or novel is a work of art. It is an extended metaphor which serves as the vehicle for an inner-realized truth or concept. So I am not looking at this film as a film critic. My personal view is that as good art, it does not beat one over the head and shoulders with didactic moral pronouncements. The film does an excellent job of delivering the heart of its insight on a multidimensional level. Hence, this film is speaking to many people on many levels.

For me, the baseline insight has to do with consciousness and humanness. Corporal Jake Sully is a human being. The word corporal comes “from the doctrine that the bread of the Eucharist becomes or represents the body of Christ” (Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary). Jake’s last name, Sully, actually means “to make soiled or tarnished: defile” (Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary). Jake’s name as well as his crippled body are metaphors for the ruinous, corrupting results which inevitably flow from the actions of the consciousness which dominates humanity on the planet from which he comes, Earth. Other characters in the film model other kinds of defilement.

The film unfolds on a moon of the planet Polyphemus.—It is interesting to note that Polyphemus is the name of the Cyclopes who trapped Ulysses and his men in his cave and proceeded to eat them two at a time. In the myth, the “wily” Ulysses manages to blind the Cyclops and escape.—The moon, named Pandora, is a totally harmonious and beautiful home, which I assume is nothing like the barbarous place, Polyphemus.

An Aside:
The moon, Pandora, relates to the Pandora myth, and has many levels of meaning. I personally cannot accept the analysis of the myth that has Zeus creating Pandora, the first woman, as punishment for Prometheus stealing the fire. This is the same basic spin, the angry hateful god who punishes wrong doers, that was put on the Garden of Eden metaphor. It is a sophistic effort to obfuscate the real message of the Prometheus metaphor.

In my view of this myth, the Fire which Prometheus apparently stole was being held hostage, not by God or Zeus, as He was called in those days, but by the Other Guys. Why would God, who created us in his image, the image of fire, want to keep fire from his incarnated Self?

Prometheus’s stealing of the Fire was more like liberating it and making the Path to the Light available for everyone. Prometheus was an earlier Avatar. He demonstrated with his life and actions the path for Humanity into the Light. We must be willing to sacrifice everything to gain entrance into the Light.

Likewise, the creation of woman, Pandora, as a punishment to mankind for stealing the Fire is as silly as the spin put on the Garden of Eden metaphor. It must be admitted, however, that these spins have been accepted as truth for a very long time. However, present common sense simply rejects them as nonsensical.


The planet Pandora is an appropriate metaphor for the function of Woman as an essential aspect of evolution. The Planet carries the feminine frequency of Goodwill. This is obvious, in the harmony and beauty of the planet’s workings. It is also underlined in the way consciousness works in these human beings. Their role on Pandora is stewardship. They are guided by the recognition and embodiment of the Principles of Essential Divinity, Goodwill, and Unanimity and the Laws of Right Human Relations, Group Endeavor, and Spiritual Approach.

The frequencies of the Father and the Mother are present in both the men and the women through the agency of Love. Love as a relating energy is very visible in the harmony and balance of the nature kingdoms. Love is also present in many of the scenes which show the human relations with nature and each other, especially in those involving the interchanges between Zoe (a name pregnant with allusions.) and Jake like the scene in which Zoe is infuriated because she has to kill several animals to save the child Jake, and including the mating of Zoe and Jake—a metaphor of the power of love to bridge between planets.

In this respect we can see the ruined and corrupted Corporal Jake Sully whose Fire has been banked and all but snuffed out by the dominant consciousness on his home planet as coming to Pandora and being resurrected, made whole and clean. His sleeping Fire, the consciousness of love for all beings including himself, is re-ignited through the ritual sacrifice of his ruined body and the expulsion of his self-hate distorted consciousness.

In the final scenes we see the defeat of the archetypes of self-hate, that consciousness which is truly alien to humanity: the psychotic character of Colonel Miles Quaritch and the amoral, totally self-centered and calculating Corporate Executive, Parker Selfridge. Of the two, Parker Selfridge is the more dangerous. He is a metaphor for the Other Guys. These individuals use people such as Colonel Quaritch in whom the human consciousness has been totally alienated to gain their ends without regard for anything that might stand in their way, including the Home Tree which they systematically destroy and the Soul Tree which they intend to destroy. The attempt to use Jake Sully for their ends fails because he has retained a spark of human consciousness which is reignited.

Thus Jake becomes a true Avatar. He carries the frequency of determination, of the Will to Good, the Will to overcome adversity, and through the fusion of his will with the Goodwill of the people of Pandora, basically saves the people, and by extension, the planet from destruction

At the end of the film we see the long line of Earth humans returning to their planet. It is possible that the consciousness of many, or at least some, of the men and women who lived through the events on Pandora was stimulated and brought to life again. Thus, in a kind of reverse play of Ulysses’ escape from Polyphemus, they leave the planet of two eyed and return to the planet of the One Eyed of their origin. They are seed carriers, viruses that may help other Earth humans to throw off the alien, single eyed consciousness which sees and values personal power and the dense physical plane and has gained dominance over their Planet.

In the end the shape, color, size of the body in which consciousness is housed is not the point. It is clear that the alien consciousness is embodied by many of those who came from Planet Earth. It is love which is the point, love which requires two eyes to see Truth. The beauty and possibilities of how the Will to Good of the Father and the Goodwill of the Mother can manifest when joined through the agency of Love is infinite. Pandora is an excellent example.




-Tom Carney

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