Archives for November 2010

Hancock

Rating: ★★½☆☆

It’s a bum! No! It’s a drunk! Nope! It’s both! It’s Hancock!”  This is the words that probably come out of the mouths of the citizens of Los Angeles whenever they get a glimpse of Mr. Hancock uncontrollably gliding in the air through the power of his hangover.

Hancock has the special abilities similar that of Superman, but has the same alcohol level of Captain Jack Sparrow. That can’t be good, and he causes millions of dollars worth of property damage every time he catches criminals. He has wrecked more than enough expensive stuff to put him away behind bars for a lifetime, and if Flying Under the Influence is an actual crime, he could spend an extra 50 lifetimes of his immortality in jail.

Because of the wrecked buildings, and the squished cars, and the devastated roads, the public has developed a hate for Hancock and his seemingly permanent facial expression. When the people’s anger reach their boiling point, Hancock finally tries to straighten himself, and accepts the support of a PR manager which he had just saved. This is a fun movie to watch because of the character that is Hancock, the asshole superhero.

It is a sad for me to say that after all the fun displays of Hancock’s superhuman abilities to annoy everyone at lightning speed, he becomes a nice guy, and the movie falls apart. The moment he stops breaking things and sobers up, society fall in love with him, and the movie takes on a very different, less interesting subject which is the origin of Hancock’s powers.

Why? Why change the character’s direction when the previous one was going so well? Majority of those who are familiar with Captain Jack Sparrow love exactly the way he is. Imagine if he changes his lifestyle, and he stops being the unique, smelly yet charming, rhum-chugging scalawag that he is. I’m pretty sure that he would lose half his fans if he found a PR and became a regular, smelly, rhum-chugging scalawag.

The makers of Hancock made the obvious mistake of creating something original and throwing it out the window before anyone could take a good look at it. “It’s a bum! No! It’s a drunk! Nope! It’s neither. It’s just Hancock. Nothing to see here folks.”

Resident Evil: Afterlife

Rating: ½☆☆☆☆

“Resident Evil” is, so far, a 4-part movie franchise that’s four movies too many… so far. I hate this movie, and those who loved this will probably hate me for hating this. It’s complicated. So before I continue, let me get something out of the way. Those who enjoy big-budgeted, mindless, extremely mindless zombie movies will enjoy “Resident Evil: Afterlife.” And if you’re one of those people, I advise for you to stop reading this review by the end of this paragraph. End paragraph.

Here we go. Early narration tells us that the T-Virus has spread on a worldwide scale. Almost everyone’s a zombie. We also learn that the bastards responsible for making the T-Virus are still experimenting with it underground. We’re at the fourth installment, and I think it is time to revisit an observation made by Roger Ebert that questions the existence of the T-Virus, and this damn franchise. He ponders, “We never understand how Umbrella hopes to make money with a virus that kills everyone.”

Because this is Part 4, the world is even worse than before, making Mr. Ebert’s observation more valuable. So there. Why do these people keep experimenting on the T-Virus? How will they benefit from it? Do they plan to get rich? But almost everyone’s a zombie. Do they plan to conquer the world with it? What’s to conquer? Almost everyone’s a freaking zombie.

Anyway, Alice is in Alaska, looking for people who will not try to eat her. She only finds Claire, and together they fly to Los Angeles for reasons that the movie never bothered to explain, but no worries. They spot a few survivors trapped inside a building surrounded by zombies. Alice and Claire join them, and now they are also trapped, but no worries, because this predicament will inspire shoot outs.

Paul W. S. Anderson wrote and directed this, which is a statement of exaggeration since barely anything here was written and directed. The style of dialogue resembles that of the first “Resident Evil”, which he also wrote and directed. Roger Ebert described the dialogue perfectly in his review of the first installment when he said that, “Their dialogue consists of commands, explanations, exclamations and ejaculations.”

Now the action scenes; all of them are literally in slow motion. Without any regard to the plot and characters, they are enjoyable when they are slow enough to be comprehensible but not slower than our ability to process our perception. Action scenes in “Afterlife” are slowed down and screwed up to the point of madness. Or Michael Bay.

In the midst of this horrid trash, I shall remember one scene in “Resident Evil: Afterlife.” One shootout involves two Alice clones fighting off enemies equipped with guns and bad aim. They throw grenades at the bastards, and to escape the explosion, the two of them jump down an elevator shaft. Remember: slow motion. The camera follows them all throughout, and they shoot their handguns as they fall. I’m assuming Paul W. S. Anderson was behind that camera, because I can’t seem to figure out what those damn clones were shooting at.

Machete

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Movie fans have not taken enough time to appreciate the importance of intestines in Hollywood. Aside from taking out our “trash”, intestines provide instant gore, are easy to manufacture, and are a lot more versatile than you think. “Machete” enforces this thought when the character of Danny Trejo (SPOILER) takes them long innards from a poor henchman to swing from one hospital floor to another, eluding capture. (END SPOILER)

The rest of “Machete” draws similar reactions one would release from seeing the scene described in the previous sentence. It is dumb and it is stupid, but it is aware of it. I’ve always believed that dumb movies can be enjoyed if it embraces its stupidity with wit, humor, and an awareness of an audience waiting to be entertained. If you think that the use of intestines as an escape route will appeal to you, then chances are, you will like this movie.

“Machete” stars many popular actors, and two of them deserve special mention. First is Steven Seagal. No, this was not released straight-to-DVD. He isn’t here much, and has only two crucial scenes. That won’t be an appropriate description though, since hardly any scene in “Machete” can be considered as, “crucial.” There is a large time gap between those scenes, and during that gap we see Mr. Seagal appear on a TV screen to remind us that we are in fact watching a movie that has Steven Seagal in it.

Next is Lindsay Lohan. No, this isn’t TMZ. Here, Lohan plays a horny rich kid who looks old enough to graduate college and high enough to enter rehab. Also, she gets to shoot a gun. Take away that damn gun and she’d be here autobiographically.

And oh, before I forget, “Machete” is both a revenge film and an exploitation film. Now that I’ve said that, I can say that almost anything that can pierce, slice, burn, and scrape through human flesh is used as a murder weapon. These devices are used so effectively that the guns are jealous, whose bullets only seen to hit glass and wall when aimed at our heroes. Examples of these weapons include katanas, surgical tools, gardening tools, heels, furniture decorations, and of course, machetes. This movie loves variety in violence so much that by the 57th kill, I was offended that they never used the kitchen sink.

“Machete” is directed by Robert Rodriguez, who also directed “Planet Terror.” I have noticed a curious similarity in these two films. In “Planet Terror”, the assault rifle attached to Rose McGowan’s thigh needs not a trigger, and shoots immediately once pointed at an enemy. In “Machete”, when the camera focuses on a flammable or combustible object, the object senses it’s on-screen moment, retaliates, and explodes. In movies directed by Robert Rodriguez, things develop a mind on their own, which is very good news for Lindsay Lohan.

Winter’s Bone

Rating: ★★★★½

We are introduced to a family in the Ozark Mountains, a place disadvantaged of basic resources. The eldest child, 17-year-old Ree, is forced to take care of her incapacitated mother and her two younger siblings. Immediately, we see a woman conscious of the responsibility she has to take and the maturity she has to develop.

Jessup, her father, has skipped bail and if he doesn’t show up for court at a specific day, they will lose their home. Think about Ree. Think about the role she has to play in her family at an early age. Think about the punishment she and her family might suffer because of a crime that she never committed. Ree must find her father.

Along her journey, she meets people, and asks them for their help. They live in the same area and share the same resources. This is what “Winter’s Bone” is about. Through Ree, we observe the different kinds of people who live in the same underprivileged region, and how they respond in the sight of a neighbor in need.

As she knocks from one door to another, we learn that all who live in that society has one thing in common: They are survivors, getting through life one day at a time in their own ways, may it be socially acceptable or not. Some deal drugs. Others raise livestock. All, as much as they can, stay out of each other’s businesses with the knowledge that they have the mutual goal of staying alive. If what they do gives them satisfaction, then that’s a good consolation.

Winter’s Bone is calm in its tone but loud in its emotions. It is very compelling. You care for these people. You care for Ree and her family. You may not like those who mistreat her, but you will understand them. You will understand that these people have few in their possession, and have little to hold on to. And that is what Winter’s Bone wants us to feel. It wants us to empathize.

Many of my relatives live on the mountains, and at times I visit them. There are the occasional houses and the common trees. Like Ree and her family, they don’t have much, but if there’s enough to see a bright tomorrow, they’re happy. I think that’s a good way to look at things.

Hot Tub Time Machine (Quick Review)

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Literally. There is a hot tub that is also a time machine. As a product, it is genius. As a premise for a comedy, it has great potential. Here, four losers are accidentally sent to the 80’s and are in need for an escape, but not before they mess around with their past that could alter their future. The characters are lovable; I just wished they were doing more lovable things.

Many jokes and gags are in reference to the time difference, and most of them are very funny. (Prevent Miley Cyrus? A-ha!) But unfortunately, even more jokes and gags are without any regard to its premise, and most of them are vulgar and unfunny. I do not hate this movie. It has laughs. I’m just sad it didn’t exploit all the comedy it could get from such a rare and legendary item: a hot tub that is also a time machine.

G-Force

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Home appliances are about to cause global chaos, and highly trained guinea pigs are our only hope. Well, not really. We have the Marines, the Army, the Navy Seals, Home Depot, and much more. But this is a movie by Disney, so them guinea pigs will have to do for now.

Okay. What we’ve got here is a Disney movie with talking pets as the main characters. With that knowledge, we’re gonna need a chubby one for the cute factor, which is Hurley. A little romance is mandatory, which is made possible by Juarez. Of course, we need someone for the laughs. That is why Blaster is here. A team like this needs a leader, Darwin. And a movie like this needs fart jokes. At least two of them. No questions asked.

The entire purpose for everything we see in “G-Force” revolves around a single thought, and that is we get to see guinea pigs do stuff that they aren’t supposed to do. That involves parachuting, scuba diving, fighting evil coffee machines, farting (at least twice), and my personal favorite, driving away from the F.B.I. in round little objects that are much faster than vehicles made for humans.

Let me further elaborate on that scene because I finished reviewing “G-Force” two paragraphs ago. Throughout the film, The FBI tries to comprehend them guinea pigs instead of actually, you know, contacting Home Depot, or something. And they do a really bad job at it. During my favorite scene, there is an interesting line. An F.B.I. agent asks his partner, “You’re driving a V-8 (something supposedly fast), how can a bunch of rodents on plastic wheels outrun you?” That is actually a good question, but I guess the FBI was never trained for times of wanted rodents, so let’s move on.

Another thing: Why do these guinea pigs run around with so many gadgets during their missions? Wouldn’t that be suspicious? Imagine you have a top secret weapon just lying in your living room, and you stumble on a guinea pig approaching it that’s covered with more technology than fur. Wouldn’t your instinct tell you to step on it? Wouldn’t you grab the nearest pointed object and plan your attack?

When one can make a movie out of simple cuteness, and when that movie grossed almost 300 million dollars worldwide, a sequel might be near. And if it does happen, I suggest a change of tactics. Them rodents must be stripped of all equipment, and undergo all their missions looking like “normal” guinea pigs. When the bad guys see them creeping their way towards the “item”, they just drop down on their butt. To get rid of all suspicion, they act normal and start licking their privates, preferably not during one of the required fart jokes.

The Time Traveler’s Wife (Quick Review)

The Time Traveler's Wife Movie Review Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Love holds no bounds, especially for Henry and Clare. You see, Henry is a time traveler. He can’t travel with any baggage, so he disappears and reappears in PG-13 nudity. Because of that, along with other complications, the two of them get married and are determined to adjust to problems that only their type of relationship can experience.

Apparently, they are not determined enough, and we are invited to witness the two argue and make up in repetitive misery and within the flawed function and logic of its time travel. Alternate titles for The “Time Traveler’s Wife” include: “The Time Traveler’s Ass”, “The Time Traveler’s Time Travelin’ Unborn Baby” or “The Time Traveler’s Secret Vasectomy.”

Trick ‘r Treat (Quick Review)

Trick 'r Treat Movie Review Rating: ★★★★★

Not many of them are made, but here it is, the best Halloween movie of its decade. An achievement in storytelling, filmmaking, and entertainment, Trick ‘r Treat will forever be cherished by the lovers of the holiday it celebrates. But you don’t have to be a Halloween fanatic (like me) to recognize its brilliance. You just have to know brilliance when you see it.

It was released straight-to-DVD, which is something I shall never understand. Michael Dougherty, the movie’s writer and director, deserves more. That is why I write this. If you have not seen “Trick ‘r Treat”, you know what to do.

Salt (Quick Review)

Salt Movie Review Rating: ★★★½☆

Angelina Jolie is Evelyn Salt. She is designed to withstand torture, to endure pain, and to defy physics. That involves leaping from one moving truck to another, from a speeding train to the ground, from the top floor to the bottom, from a helicopter to a lake. Get anyone eligible for Expendable membership to do all these, and it’s boring. Get Angelina Jolie, and we have something to celebrate. Angelina Jolie is Evelyn Salt. So, in short, she is Jason Bourne… with boobs.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) Movie Review Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

There is a bloody tradition in the street of Elm. Once you hit puberty, consider your poor self to be the latest target of a burnt pedophile named Fred. Yup, Freddy Krueger is back. And this time, he might have throat cancer, but with a long list of teenagers to kill, I’m sure that’s the least of his worries.

Having seen so many movies of its kind, I have reason to believe that teens are the favorite choice of heroes in slasher films because (1) they are dumb as rocks and (2) they don’t require deep characterization and heavy dialogue. The writers of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” may have applied this thought a little too much.

The teens of this movie are without a trace of the common human characteristics of their age, or any other age. They spend most of their time on screen walking, talking, thinking, reminiscing, and on special occasions: all of the above. I would compare their energy to Romero zombies, but that could provoke the Underworld. As opposed to the lifelessness of these characters, zombies have an excuse. They’re dead.

Soon enough, our teens will also be dead thanks to Freddy Krueger, who is played by Jackie Earle Haley. Something is wrong with the “new” Freddy. I remember when Robert Englund was at his peak with this role more than twenty years ago. He was very entertaining. His perverted sense of humor along with his demented enthusiasm for murder made him the infamous “bastard son of a thousand maniacs” that he was.

Now Freddy is just a bastard. He stalks, grunts, teases, thrusts, slashes, and we move on to the character with the second deepest eye bags. Then the third. Then the fourth. I could say that the tedious Freddy is a result of poor acting by Jackie Earle Haley, but I won’t. I blame the hollow script. Whoever wrote that thing deserves nightmares.

Samuel Bayer, a known music video director, is the one responsible for this remake. He does get one thing right, and that’s the visuals. They are good. But considering the fact that he has so little to work with here, they better be damn good.