After last week's sad lack of movie watching, I decided to make up for it with a crap ton of movie franchises. Started the week off with a massive Resident Evil marathon, blitzing through that silly-stupid franchise so fast that I barely noticed the transition into the Indiana Jones blu ray box set. And as much fun as I had with Milla this week, Dr. Jones ruled my week in Dorkdom. The new transfers are stunning - not as mindblowing amazing as the JAWS disc from a few weeks back, but still absolutely killer must-buys. Also, I couldn't wait till next Tuesday for The Dark Knight Returns cartoon cuz once I saw it pop up On Demand I had to watch it. Thankfully it's real dang good. But no comics. No TV.
MOVIES OF THW WEEK!
Plague of Zombies: Fascinating to see the zombie genre through the lens of Hammer Horror. This is not George Romero. It's the classic hoodoo voodoo undead with lots of busty English lasses swooning in fear as zombies creep in the foreground and a couple of Sirs and Doctors fend 'em off with fire...and lots of it. Plague of the Zombies is definitely not the best of what Hammer has to offer but it's fun enough. And who doesn't love a good and scary hooded cult leader?
Resident Evil: An enjoyable, but sanitized introduction to this super silly zombieapocalypse saga. The film suffers from its claustrophobic (and really just cheap) underground bunker setting, and the good stuff really awaits in the final two minutes of the world-gone-by epilogue, but you gotta start here if you want to experience one of the silliest and goofiest franchises in the horror genre. I just can't shake my affection for the Resident Evil films. They're not "good" but they're fun. Here at the start, Milla Jovovich is not the unstoppable super human ass kicker of the later films; she's far too quiet & meek, letting Michelle Rodriguez overtake the frame with her smug tough face. Hard to let the iffy CGI & been-there-done-that horror action slide when the plot and characters are so dang banal...but just you wait till shotgun toting Milla gets above ground and the Umbrella conspiracy reaches max lunacy. For fans of cheese only.
Resident Evil - Apocalypse: Thankfully the first Resident Evil sequel takes itself much less seriously than the original and it benefits greatly from it newfound ridiculous B Movie gusto. Thanks to the mad scientist ways of the diabolical Umbrella corporation, Milla Jovavich's Alice is now a Neo-like wonder woman. Leaping, kicking, deadshot blasting her way through hordes of the infected--including the now mutated Nemesis monstrosity packing some seriously badass artillery along with its hideous tumor face. Yes, it is true, Sienna Guillroy's Jill Valentine is quite terrible but she's at least more tolerable than the mopey punchfaced Michelle Rodriguez. And Mike Epps's gangsta provides plenty of so-bad-they're-great one liners: "My Last Ride Was A Cadillac!" So, yeah, it's silly and big time dumb. But man it's fun.
Resident Evil - Extinction: The third in the series is definitely the best of the bunch (so far) with Milla Jovavich's Alice hacking her way through the gray crispy wet undead, sporting duel Khukuri along with her fetishized Spaghetti Western duster. We're beyond Raccoon City, the world having moved on to a Road Warrior apocalypse. These are not the PG-13 zombies of the first two--nope, these are spitty, dried, withered, jerkied zombies. Proper zombies. Director Russell Mulcahy brings his Aussie doomsday Razorback eye to the proceedings and it's the most visually appealing armageddon offered so far from the franchise. Sure, the returning Oded Fehr and Mike Epps get short changed a little, but Ali Larter is much more welcomed than the last film's anemic tough girl Sienna Guillory. And you gotta love that cliffhanger ending--The Jovovich Clone Army gunning for Umbrella.
Resident Evil - Afterlife: The first fifteen minutes of Afterlife definitely fulfills the insane promise of Extinction's cliffhanger ending and it is glorious. But then there is a serious mistep in curing Milla of her crazy super powers -- I guess they didn't want to go all Matrix Reloaded but I would have loved to have seen them try. Taking a page from Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead, Alice finds herself held up in an LA Prison with a decent group of zombie fodder (faves being Boris Kodjoe's NBA superstar and Kim Coates DB movie producer), and one mysterious ax wielding zombie lummox roaming the shower rooms. Paul WS Anderson has some serious wet slo mo fun with their battle and its a highlight of this pleasingly bland franchise.
Resident Evil - Retribution: The first three films expanded on the universe spreading from the underground lab of Resident Evil to the Apocalypse of Raccoon City to the Road Warrior wasteland of Extinction. In Afterlife our mary band of Umbrella haters find themselves confined to a prison stronghold, and in this latest excursion Milla's troop of mercenaries return underground to yet another Umbrella laboratory bunker. Despite its Holodeck tour of the world, Retribution feels confined by budgetary constraints and a lack of ambition. This is a goofy franchise and it works best when it goes for the gonzo-giant licker monstrosities, clone armies, and chainsaw swinging zombie Soviets. But when this saga should be getting global like the posters promise it's actually shrinking in scope...that is until its magnificent cliffhanger climax promising a grand Helm's Deep like battle for the fate of the world or at least the good ol' U S of A.
Raiders of the Lost Ark: "It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage." Genre cinema doesn't get better than Raiders of the Lost Ark. Cracked from the head of George Lucas and filtered through the pen of Lawrence Kasdan and the lens of Steven Spielberg. Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones is the ultimate adventurer getting into scrapes far too large for his academic sensibilities but thanks to a heap of charm, a quick draw, and the wrath of god this college professor can take down the whole Nazi army. And score with his mentor's sassy daughter while he's at it; saving the free world has never been so much fun.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: After nearly meeting his end at the hands of a Chinese gangster, Indiana Jones drops down on India seeking fortune and glory when he's not feasting on chilled monkey brains. Temple of Doom is not the flawless adventure that was Raiders, but there is still plenty of fun to be had with Harrison Ford lusting for Kate Capshaw's dumb blonde while blocking the heart wrenching plans of ancient chanting cultists. The glitzy gangland opening and the climactic machete bridge face off are some of the series's most iconic moments.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: In a lot of ways, The Last Crusade is a simple remake of Raiders with the return of Nazi antagonists and another holy relic race, but the addition of Sean Connery's proud pappa manages to enrich the character of Dr. Jones with his "Don't Blaspheme" lectures and "Army of Darkness" speeches. I do find the buffoonery of Marcus Brody a touch disappointing as Denholm Elliot deserved a better path than comic relief and the prequel opening represents all that is wrong with George Lucas' brain --in one afternoon we see how Indy got the hat, the whip, the scar, and his fear of snakes! Lame.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: There are some serious wince inducing moments in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (nuke the fridge, Shia's Tarzan routine, etc) but if you squint real hard you can still find the charm of the original films. Ford's still got it as the good doctor, and his relationship with Shia's Mutt nicely mirrors the Sean Connery banter of The Last Crusade. Are the Reds & Inter-dimensional spacemen nonsense any crazier than the Nazis and the Biblical mumbo jumbo? Nope. And I love the teenage love on display between Harrison Ford and Karen Allen and I'm all for the climactic hat grab in the church. Maybe my nostalgia lets me forgive too much, but I'd rather be a happy internet troll than a raging one.
Cabin in the Woods: An entertaining Upstairs/Downstairs satirization of the horror genre, Cabin in the Woods is more funny than scary and it really doesn't hit levels of genius until the last fifteen minutes when the genre goes splatter all over the walls. Richard Jenkins & Bradley Whitford are hilarious as the buddy-buddy G-Men and I'm entertained every moment they're on screen, but even when they're poking fun at the genre cliches I still managed to find the teenage archetypes to be tiring. The winks might have worked a little bit better for me if the red neck zombie scares were actually effective. Still, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard are having a lot of fun here and it's impossible not to join in on the joke.
Halloween III - Season of the Witch: "Turn It Off!" There is no room in Halloween III for the teenage slasher Michael Myers, and that might have been a poor business decision on the part of the studio but I much prefer Dan O'Herlihy's evil toyman transforming the world's children into druidic birthing centers for Roaches! Roaches! Roaches! than another babysitter bloodbath. Tommy Lee Wallace gives us a pod movie akin to Invasion of the Body Snatchers and They Live; a little light on the social commentary but Season of the Witch makes up for it with plenty of mustachioed screaming Tom Atkins. He will punch you till yer soupy orange goo.
Judge Dredd: The opening credits crawl over a montage of 2000 AD comics. James Earl Jones narrates the apocalypse. Gorgeous matte paintings introduce you to the overstuffed eastern seaboard of Mega City One. Then Rob Schneider steps off the prison jet. And so ends the most amazing 30 seconds of this film. From here on Sylvester Stallone is taking off Judge Dredd's helmet, Schneider is comic reliefing all over the place, and Armand Assante is trying to out-"I AM THE LAW" the lead with his monstrous scream acting. All that being said, Judge Dredd might be an abomination but it's an entertaining failure and worthy of Stallone's action cannon...I'll take this any day over Daylight and Driven. Sure, brit comic fans should remain disgusted but at least Karl Urban's Dredd seems to be on target.
Batman - The Dark Knight Returns Part 1: "This is no mud hole, it's an operating table and I'm the surgeon." Well here it is folks. Frank Miller's epic graphic novel come to life in animated form and it is wondrous. The DC Animated team have outdone themselves, not since The New Frontier have they succeeded so well in adapting the original material. Peter Weller is the perfect Old Man Wayne and his voice perfectly captures the rage & frustration of Miller's dystopian 1980s. If there is one problem with the film is that it had to be split into two parts, part I is all set up to the absolutely bonkers second half with the psychotic Joker violence and Ronald Reagan's Man of Steel. So excited to see this in motion. But we gotta wait till 2013.
"I Knew You'd Say That."