Sorry to be late on this one, but I've been sick as a dog for the last couple of days. Last week was not an amazing Week In Dork despite the absolutely stunning JAWS blu ray release as well as the new Johnny Guitar disc. The week climaxed with my 33rd birthday, a trip to the zoo, and the action orgy that is Expendables 2. Thankfully the sequel lived up to my fiery explosive expectations.
And no comics this week.
MOVIES OF THE WEEK!
Contraband: Don't go out of your way, but if you should somehow stumble upon this perfectly average seabound heist picture than you could do worse things to kill a couple of hours. Contraband is definitely better than kicking puppies or eating glass. Mark Wahlberg does his squinty tough face thing and he would be so easy to forget if not for films like Boogie Nights or The Other Guys. Giovanni Ribisi is easily the best thing about this film but I sometimes feel like his nasally snitch acting is just his way of pranking the audience--it's outer space acting and I imagine it's what he's got to do to keep himself entertained. Ben Foster does what Ben Foster does-screams a lot, looks mad. Kate Beckinsale is an incredible victim in this film: she's battered, tortured, and brutalized over the runtime and she tries to seem important but she's just another damsel in distress. There is just nothing that stands out from the ordinary. Still, watch this if yer contemplating kicking a puppy.
Johnny Guitar: "Never seen a woman who was more of a man." One of The Great Westerns, Johnny Guitar sizzles with an angry intensity not often found in the genre at this point in time. Joan Crawford is a stern saloon owner determined to make her fortune along the rails of Arizona, but when she calls on a former lover to protect her from Mercedes McCambridge's unbridled hatred, the soon-to be-boom-town ignites in reckless, operatic violence. Nicholas Ray shoots a gorgeous picture but it's the spitting stylized dialog that really sets this Western apart from any other. "Down there I sell whisky and cards, up these stairs all you can buy is a bullet in the head." Sterling Hayden is slick and cool as the titular gunfighter but this is Joan Crawford's show--and she owns it as the frontier's toughest broad.
The Girl From Rio: "What Kind of Space Age Sorceress Are You?" I don't have an answer to that question...in fact, I don't have any idea what the hell went on in this film. But that's not a new feeling for anyone who has attempted a Jess Franco film before. There is some nonsense about an army of ear nibbling bisexuals and George Sanders wants Richard Wyler to fight them for some damn reason...seriously, I just don't know what happened here. There's some smoke. Chest Hair. Breasts. Machine guns. Rio Carnival gyrations. Ok. Sure. Wha? Huh? I'm baffled. But I also don't care.
Jaws: A Great American Movie and the first Blockbuster Masterpiece. Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw are withoutadoubt the three coolest dudes to ever skipper a doomed sea voyage. And Shaw's epic USS Indianapolis monologue detailing his first horrific encounter with doll eyed sharks is PURE cinematic art. Frankly, it just doesn't get much better than this and the latest Universal 100th Anniversary Blu Ray is stunning-a bold new look at the classic packed with all sorts of special feature goodies. But it's the crystal clear transfer that makes it an essential purchase.
The Expendables: "It's Good To Hang Pirates!" Sylvester Stallone gathers his action hero friends into one film in an effort to capture that Hard R genre of yesteryear, the 1980s--the decade that spawned Rambo, Die Hard, and Commando. But it's just a taste and not the full on smorgasbord of bullet hailing gore I was really craving. Frankly, I wanted the Sly Stallone that directed the killfest that was Rambo 4. Instead, we get a little too much downtime. Sure, it's fun. Dolph Lundgren is the highlight with his good-guy/bad-guy/good-guy inner struggle and his one-liners are joyful when they're not hilariously hateful. "Insect!" And Eric Roberts has the best set of teeth for all his villainous monologue gnashing. But I wanted more Terry Crews "Remember That Shit At Christmas" shotgunning and less of Mickey Rourke's zen tattoo artist.
God Bless America: I thoroughly enjoyed Bobcat Goldthwait's directorial debut, World's Greatest Dad. It was bleak, miserable, and funny as hell. This follow up film is just bleak and miserable. America is being destroyed by Reality TV and Joel Murray's cubical worker goes on a postal killing spree with a tagalong cynical teen sidekick. Lots of people get shot, lots of on-the-nose commentary. But there's no charm and there are no laughs. God Bless America is just cynicism a to b to c.
The Expendables 2: This sequel delivers on the promise of the original. Sylvester Stallone and his gang of Action Icon celebrities regroup to take down the goat loving pet of Satan, Jean Claude Van Damme and his ridiculous cache of weaponized plutonium. The Expendables 2 is the funniest damn action film of the year with wonderful heaps of manipulated testosterone, endless one-liners, and a hurricane of CGI blood splatter. Dolph Lundgren's Frankenstein steals the show as the psychotic lover of whale ass and chinese food. If you find yourself scratching your head than this nostalgia fest might not be for you, but if your fist is already pumping the air, than this is your Avengers. P.S. Do Not Bite Chuck Norris.
Rambo III: "I'm No Tourist." By this point in the franchise, First Blood's drama-centric anti-hero is pretty much forgotten but Stallone is still a lot of fun to watch as he blazes his way through the Russian army. And there is great joy to be found in Rambo's third act team-up with Richard Crenna's Colonel Trautman. Plus, tank vs. helicopter. BOOM! Stupid, stupid commies.