Jakealope

IMDb member since November 2001
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Reviews

The Divide
(2011)

Well Done Film But a Sick Plot and Theme
This movie is part of the French movie wave where everything and everybody sucks and no one ever acts decently or nobly. Those kinds of movies are chock full of primal level violence and depravity as to remind us how we all basically suck, especially Americans. Make no doubt that the directors and writers were punching down on the USA. It is the deliberate antithesis of the classic Hollywood zeitgeists where the heroes and decent people will out-number and triumph over the bad people. OK, this might have some decent sub motives, where if you de-glamorize and de-heroize war and other violent scenarios, people would be less apt to seek them out as a way to test themselves. But I could only take 3/4s of an hour of it before I shut it down.

Really stupid things that bothered me the most:

Anyone that close to an exploding nuke who stares at it will get a fatal radiation dose and start dying immediately.

Early in the movie, after about a day in the improvised shelter, some team of well armed men in Bio-Hazard suits came into the shelter, kidnapped the little girl (why?), then let some of themselves be killed off by the desperate shelter people by letting themselves be ambushed in the warren of the NYC apartment building basement. Obviously they were government soldiers or similar. That was totally unbelievable on so many levels. It was done to show how much even the US government sucks. Even if this unit had malign motives, they could have at least pretended to be helpful.

---- Finally, if you like Lord of the Flies reversion to bestiality under duress on steroids, this is your movie. It is well crafted as far as acting, camera work and sets go. For the rest of the world, stay away from this disturbing mess.

The Boys
(2019)

Cheap Cynicism
The growth of the comic book super hero genre in movies today is spectacularly fecund. Marvel seems to be the biggest box office draw in the last 10 years. I hate to say this but it is part of the dumbing down of America; where once juvenile past-times and B movie drive-in and late night TV diversions are A list tickets these days. So, in that eruption of mega corporation mass marketing, a smaller "counter-culture" of movies and shows mocking and satirizing the genre. Ironically they are usually based on graphic novels like this one and Happy. And like Happy, this one is ultra violent and devoid of any really likeable or heroic characters. But this one ratchets the cynicism and violence up one more notch. For instance, the main super-"hero", Homelander, is Super Man meets Captain America all star white guy stereotype. To top it off, he is an ordained minister. Of course, he is an utter evil and depraved man, the worst of the lot. The soups, as they are called, are run by a corporation called Vought, where the cynical jaded head of it, Madelyn Stillwell, played by Elisabeth Shue, manipulates and protects her screwed up heroes. The corporation is all about money and publicity and turn every super-hero mission into social media click-bait event. The corporation also wants to get into the Pentagon defense complex. Then enter Hughie Campbell, Dennis Quaid's son Jack, a computer service tech. He was talking to his girlfriend on the street when she got gorily and horrifically splattered by a soup called A-Train who is their Flash counterpart. Not only was that over the top violent, but it suggests that running people down is a regular item for A Train, since he seems unable to dodge obstacles in his way. Come on, that is a really stupid way to get about. Well, poor Hughie was jerked around by Vought's lawyers and let down by his amiable but weak dad. So enter Billy Butcher, aka Karl Urban, a fast talking con-man come vigilante who knows what conniving scum Vought's soups are. So he convinces Hughie to go along with a plan to bug Vought's inner sanctum. Then another brutish soup, Translucent, gets wind of this and follows Hughie back to his shop to beat and try to pump info out of our hapless Hughie. But Butcher returns in the nick of time to save Hughie from this warped soup and the two, with the aid of another comic book sort called Frenchie, imprisons then eventually ends up killing Translucent. From then on, we were exposed to one nasty brutish violent incident and gun fight after another, interspersed with scenes of ruthless corporate behavior and horrific sex. Such as where a female soup called Popclaw, a Wolverine knock off, sits on then crushes a hapless guy's head after she enticed him in her bedroom for sex. Then we have a #metoo subplot, there's the sleazy soup The Deep, an Aquaman imitation, coerced a new pretty female soup Starlight aka Annie January, for some sex. Ironically the Deep was one of the less evil soups and Starlight was a virtual goddess of a classic superhero and a small town conservative Christian woman to boot. Then the Deep has a bestiality streak with a dolphin, which is cheezy enough. But he kidnaps the dolphin and when he wrecks the van, the poor dolphin gets graphically squished by an 18 wheeler.

This show just loves trashing everything from religion to even motherhood, where Vought gets mothers to be to take a drug that causes their infants to be soups. The cynicism, like the extreme violence and sex it promotes, is plain ugly. The indie movie "Super" was a good take off on super heroes w/o the extremes of this. But it is addicting and Amazon's high budget and packaging makes it easy to binge watch. It also has the malignant Seth Rogen as its producer.

Strangerland
(2015)

Beautifully Shot. Good Acting, Poor Plot and Too Much Emoting: Not a Complete Waste
This was a typical Netflix offering. It had big names in a B movie that never featured in the USA. I love Australian Outback movies, mainly for the scenery. But I certainly would never want to live there, in a hot dusty little NSW mining town. Neither did the featured family in this film, who regarded it as an exile and hated it. Catherine and Matthew, the parents were played by the stars Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes who along with Hugo Weaving, the local law man Rae, provided the best acting and the film's grounding. Apparently the young Lolita of a sex bomb and center of the film's story daughter Lily's scandalous sexual behavior got the dad so riled up that he moved out of their old hometown out of shame into this area that played so large a part in the film. So this classic dysfunctional family was already on edge. The movie starts out with their son Tom coming back home after his night walk, a sign of alienation & loneliness. Apparently he can't sleep at night. Then we watch the family go through the day and the daughter's disturbing behavior is revealed as she hooks up with some local tough kids at a ramshackle skate park in some metal box. How comfortable could that be in that intense over 100 F heat? She also had no problem taking the money her brother caged from Dad and use it for what and then leaving her brother there alone. Then that evening Lolita joins her brother and sneaks out of the house, witnessed by Dad, who gets riled but does nothing. He is all barely controlled rage while his wife is just as coquettish as her daughter. The next day the couple gets alarmed since their kids' school said they were not only absent today, but rarely showed up. Why the school didn't inform the parents earlier is a mystery.

Then the big dust storm blows in that night while they are driving through town looking for their children. Then the police get called in and the search begin, as well as the stars all work together at this point. The police start looking in one area oof the harsh wilderness based on what? Obviously they couldn't have tracked the kids after the storm. Now the movie gets goofier as the parents get unraveled, Matthew gets hostile as he goes after his daughter's sexual adult male partners, including the aboriginal brother of the Sheriff Rae's girl friend, whom Matthew pounds in hard. Then this mystical Aboriginal legend stuff gets worked in along with mom imagining her daughter speaking. Then she starts getting promiscuous like her daughter, wearing her skimpy top and coming on to the now beaten up Aboriginal "boyfriend", who had enough sense to GTFOOT. Finally Dad drives out into the outback goes to some abandoned house, imagines stuff, then passes out. The very next day he discovered his son lying on the desert floor near death from sun stroke and lack of water. Finally after cajoling and recovering, he blurts out that Lily got into a car and left him in the desert w/o succor. For all intents and purposes the movie's narrative ends while Catherine's promiscuous behavior degenerates into insanity as she makes herself a victim of the Outback too.

When I found out that the director was a feminist woman, a lot of problems with the film made sense. She was so concerned with feelings, female sexuality and hauntingness of the Outback that she failed to make sure there was a coherent rational ending or even plot. Granted the family was unraveling, but why would both siblings wander off in the desert w/o taking any supplies or proper clothes? They weren't retarded or suicidal. I mean there is nothing wrong with exploring such issues and woman usually have more insight in those issues than men. But one has to still have a tighter plot and a coherent ending, not some voice-over of Lily reading her prose as they flew over these ridges.

Free State of Jones
(2016)

Interesting and Obscure Historical Drama
I like any historical drama that brings up a part pf the Civil War I was totally ignorant of, a revolt in the South against the CSA that lasted the whole war. It was well done but sort of pedantic. One part really bothered me. I really doubt the Confederate Army would hang some boys who defected from the rebellion, especially after they promised a pardon to all defectors. The CSA weren't Nazis, these were their people too, and if they wanted to deflate the rebellion, hanging some 13 yo kids was not going to help. Which of course led to a later ambush shoot-out where largely untrained civilians, including women and children destroyed the same CSA unit. Okay, I understand sacrificing some accuracy for drama, because the rest of the movie was fairly accurate, And Matthew McConnaughy did his usual good job as Newton Knight, the leader of the rebellion. One thing I hate about IMDB is how they always give this awful left wing feminist hag of a reviewer, Flick Filosopher aka MaryAnn Johanson, the second link on the external reviews page. She trashed the movie because according to her juvenile intersectional feminist POV, the movie re-inforced the "white savior" complex. You see, Newton Knight & most of the principals were white, but they had some escaped slaves in their Free State of Jones. So according to her, half the movie should have been the black ex-slaves spouting Maoist #BlackLiesMatter platitudes. Then this alleged reviewer will go into comment section and trash and ban anyone who is critical of her lame feminist politics and generally lazy reviewer skills.

Approaching the Unknown
(2016)

Low Budget Indie Sci Fi films Can Be Great
But not this is not the one. This reminds me of how they often put bargain and closeout items in bins in the middle of a store. Then they started doing the same to non closeout items because people associated the bins with bargains Low budget low key stuff can inspire a good writer and film maker to concentrate on character and ideas. as opposed to huge budget Special EFX laden rubbish like Star Wars, etc. Or even a more decent present tech possible movie like the Martian which was a plodding teamwork movie marred by disco. The budget of the film was enough to have a couple of good actors and decent enough sets and props, which is all it needed since it all took place either in a spaceship or in a desert. Most sci-fi films play loose with Science which is excusable some times. as long as their is at least consistency. But this one was flawed from the start,

No Mars colonization spaceship is going to have ONE person on board for a myriad of reasons starting with all that expense for just one colonial.

The water issue was KEY to this movie and it didn't pass the smell test. The lead, Stanahope,developed this Rube Goldberg fuel cell that can turn soil into water to make water on Mars. At best it produced just enough water to keep him alive. So this is is sole water source on board the spaceship?? What about the usual moisture and urine reclamation systems like we have now? they did show him taking a shower. Since it needs LOTS of heavy soil to make the water he needed on board, at best it still made less sense in terms of weight than taking a few hundred gallons of good water on the ship. Also, why didn't the team perfect and expand the machine before RISKING A HUGE ENORMOUSLY EXPENSIVE PROJECT ON IT?

Then he just gets crazier and crazier as he spends 270 days alone expounding all this pretentious but meaningless rhetoric (and some dialog) that was supposed to be profound. Nothing made much sense. It was supposed to be some spiritual journey into the desert be it Mars or earlier flashbacks on Earth.

No, this film is a waste with no good message or science to it. Don't bother!

Blood Work
(2002)

Generic Serial Killer Crud with a good wasted human angle
This movie has classic unreal serial killer plot, that alone makes it laughable. Serial killers toying with the people trying to track them is a hackneyed old plot line. But this one takes it to new heights.

You see, our intrepid FBI profiler, Dirty Harry, almost nailed the serial killer, "The Code Killer" but had a heart attack during the cbase. But Harry winged the perp as the perp escaped. Well two years later Harry got a heart transplant, he gets approached by the pretty sister of the dead Hispanic woman whose heart saved his life. See her sister was murdered in a senseless looking store hold up. Now, a good human angle like that is a welcome plot element. So naturally, even though Dirty Harry is retired and is recovering from the heart transplant 2 months earlier, he agrees to help her find her sister's killer. This leaves a role for his cardiologist, Anjelica Houston, to get all concerned about his health and advice him to give it up. Then we are introduced with the amiable loafer who lives two boats down from him from the marina, the perennial nice white guy Jeff Daniels. Then we have an obnoxious local Hispanic cop, played by Paul Rodriguez, who is there to rail at and dog Harry's investigation. His performance sucked since his character's motivation was pointless. It was like "Here's a role, the bad officious cop who dogs our intrepid hero."

So our serial killer spends two years laying low then decides he has to help his pursuer get a new heart. Which he does by cracking the blood bank system and finding someone with the same rare blood type as Harry's then kill them with a shot to the head so their heart can get harvested. Which makes no sense since Harry wasn't a G Man nor pursuing the Code Killer anymore. So was the killer counting on the dead heart donor's sister to find Harry then re-ignite the case? It made no sense. The killer actually physically meets Harry in disguise. Yet Harry, while physically frail but mentally sharp, doesn't notice that he is someone he knows? And why would the killer pull such a stunt except to move the plot along? Just too many dumb pointless plot elements can ruin a film

The Plan
(2009)

It is a good fan movie
If you loved the series, like me, you will like this movie. It fills in some details from the Cylon's point of view from the first 2 years mainly. But it seemed more like some 20th HS reunion than anything coherent. the lovable Adama directed this and he doted over it to the satisfaction of his fans. But an outsider who is unfamiliar with the series would be very disappointed. Also certain stupid plot points from the original, like Baltar giving the escaped 6 an atomic bomb is never explained any more. Captain Adama gave Baltar the bomb ostensibly for the Cylon Detector then just forgot about it? Well at best it is a mediocre fan movie that has no punch outside the tribe It was said this was to fill the gap before the series Caprica came out. Well, I will say that this movie was better than all of Caprica together, so they should have put more effort into this movie and scrapped Caprica.

Transformers: Age of Extinction
(2014)

Pure Undiluted Essence of Crap
The transformer series was never more than juvenile stupidity on steroids. But there was a certain stupid charm with the original line up of Shia the Beef and Megan the Fox. This has Mark Wahlberg doing a horrid job as some loser stereotyped dad who is the inventor type, blah blah, Then Super Dad buys an old diesel road tractor, that some how got into an old movie theater, and no one asked how or when that happened. In the cab there are empty cannon shells, which moron says are mortar shells, as if there is no such thing as a mortar shell. Blah blah, bad CIA Corporate bad guys come and super robot and human idiots flee for their lives into the high desert. Then they go to Chicago to get back. No intelligence at all went into this flick. Super Moron Dad risks his life and the mission to get his daughter's secret lover, they are working together to infiltrate the bad guy's corporate HQ, to admit he snuck into the dad's house. I mean in what film universe is this funny and not a contemptible distraction from the already paper thin plot? Every critic and teacher in the world could decry this POS from every network station but the morons will still flock to this utterly mindless crapfest. This movie proves that money, publicity, name recognition and special effects is all you need to succeed in these days of contemptble media.

Night Falls on Manhattan
(1996)

Well Intentioned, Well Acted but Doesn't Hit Well
To its credit, the movie had great actors, a complex and intelligent plot, and something of a message which is not a bad thing in these days of mindless chase and fight scenes as the norm for cop movies. But one actor really didn't do it for me, the lead Andy Garcia, as Sean Casey. Really, he was supposed to be a young Irish cop turned DA? Come on, in one scene he had something of a NYC Puerto Rican accent. They couldn't find a good Irish American actor for the role? I realize Lumet and Pacino were best buds, and at that time they tried to groom Garcia as another Pacino. But even in his prime, no one ever casted Pacino as Irish. Garcia is not that good, period. He just didn't do it for me.

It is a movie that made the critics happy because it is an intelligent and complex movie, but I just can't say it well enough, maybe because I am not a good critic, but it lacked the oomph to make it a great movie.

Rushmore
(1998)

In It's Way it is utterly brilliant and original
It has great characters, starting out with Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman). He's the brilliant eccentric, king of extracurricular activities but failure at classes he could easily ace, sophomore in high school. He is a scholarship student at an elite prep school. His dad is a barber not a brain surgeon as he usually tells people. He is a relentless organizer and hustler, who forms new clubs and writes and stages plays, as well as leading a younger classmate around like his personal orderly. Then, after reading a hand written note in a Jacques Cousteau book, written by the alluring English first grade teacher and widow Miss Croos(Olivier William), our fifteen year old eccentric falls in love with her. Then our hero meets an older rich industrialist, Herman Blume (Bill Murray), who is a big school alumni booster. He both uses and yet befriends the Bl;ume into a weird relationship, in order to get his pet project, which he hopes will woo our Miss Cross, an aquarium. But the aquarium scheme of his, which involves displacing the baseball field and trees causes the perplexed Dr Guggenheim to finally boot the trouble maker out to the cruder public school. Then the Blume hit it on with Miss Cross and that causes eruptions of jealousy and anger against the duo who betrayed him. This starts a feud which he gets the upper hand, he gets Cross to resign, Blume's wife to leave him, Then he gets dangerous by committing sabotage Blume's car, by merely sauntering into his factory and crawling underneath it then releasing bees in Blume's hotel room too.

Okay, the characters and plot are totally original and interesting, no denying. Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson are a good talented movie team. The actors are all good too, Brian Cox, the Wilson Brothers, and the other young actors who played the students. But as a movie, it fails a level of basic plausibility. It also fails that as interesting as Max is, he is a sociopath that wiser and older adults enable, not stop. Even his Miss Cross older woman obsession yields to him in the end, They show the kid smoking on campus, and no one even tries to stop or reprimand him. And this is not a druggie movie, which is good, unlike say Spun, where Schwartzmen is a meth head. The kid does some plainly evil dangerous things yet they all get brushed off by the adults. His dad doesn't even try to give him a lecture, like do your homework so you can graduate from high school because you are a genius sort of thing. He just does cruel things but gets away with it. He shoots a bully in the ear with a pellet gun from a 2nd floor window, unprovoked, since they are in different schools, but gets the bully to star in his Vietnam war play at the public school.

Clever, original but in the end, do you really like or care about a soulless hustler? The kid had some real issues, and the adults in his life didn't seem to care much either.

The Following
(2013)

It's pure derivative dreck, but well made trash
The show is a mash-up of all the worn out serial killer cop procedural concepts that have ever been used. There is not one original plausible concept. James Purferoy, while not a bad actor such as Marc Anthony in Rome is given the Hannibal Lector evil Brit role of a super intelligent Professor Joe Carroll. He loves to kill co-eds and almost killed our intrepid FBI agent Ryan Hardy, the dependably dull Kevin Bacon in the back story by stabbing him in Ryan's heart. Then he rekindles his murder spree from prison using all sorts of people he managed to recruit via the internet while on death row. Being a literature prof, he orders these kills based on Edgar Allen Poe, as if that will give such tripe some literary creds. So he escapes from death row, using all sorts of coercion of influential people and a conveniently indeterminate supply of willing murderous acolytes. The show is full of senseless violence and cheap plot twists, because every time they have Joe cornered, he has some ploy or ally to pull his irons out of the fire. It goes on and on, with plenty of helpers around to be killed or kill.

In season 1 Ryan's damaged heart was a frequent ploy to stop him in critical phases. He was also still an FBI agent. But in Season 2, the Irish man quit the FBI and alcohol too, which apparently fixed his heart too. Of course, Joe's death in Season 1 was faked, we all knew that based on the fiery explosion that was supposed to have killed him. So Ryan got really rogue and Rambo in Season 2 and just mowed the bad guys down left and right with ease. THere was some cheesy tension as he worked rogue with the FBI breathing down in his back, with him withholding all sorts of stuff since naturally he was one step ahead of the plodding FBI. Even when he got shot in the chest, his niece, a NYPD detective kickass super duper agent, fixed it all with first aid supplies from a drug store.

Season 2 also doubled down on the cheesy pulp factor by having a copy cat Poe murder group, led by some rich artsy broad, Connie Nielson as Lily Gray, who wanted to tempt the assumed dead Joe back into action so she could have him in her bed. Apparently there are so many well off buff guys and gals who just need some literary mass murderer to set them off on random slashing attacks. The pilot was prolly the best of the episodes but once all the cards were revealed, it just went on & on like a Road Runner cartoon marathon.

It is an evil series, as it makes you want to watch it just to see how stupid the next escape and twist will be. I can only think of one good plot element, some erudite Doctor who schooled Joe as a youngster into the art of murder. The doc told our bland hero Ryan that Ryan is a psychopath because he is assuming his nemesis's personality. He was the one interesting character vs blando Shawn Ashford FBI good guy sidekick to Ryan.

Don't get started on this show, it really sucks on so many levels except that it is well made in a technical sense.

Khyber Patrol
(1954)

B Movie Propaganda Theme Dull
While making a movie that has the Soviets as the bad guys, this time subbing in Imperial Russians since it was set in the 1800s, is not bad in itself. The Communists were as awful as their worst critics said they were. But propaganda themed flicks tend to suck in general, even if the foe was a worthy one.

Robert Egan really irritated me. His permanent sneer was a real turn off. He played the typical brash American masquerading as the brash Canadian colonial officer in the stuffy British army. His foolish behavior was supposed to be endearing but it was so poorly done that it reminded me of the archetype 50s rebellious teenager more than an army officer.

The action scenes were simply cowboy and Indians subbed in with lancers and Afghan guerrillas exchanging lever action for bolt action rifles. The outdoor sets looked like the same ones they used in many westerns. It was a tired flick that lacked any charisma or hook. I saw it on Netflix and it took four sessions to get it all in.

It wasn't all terrible. It had a part where he got "disgraced" in order to go "rebel" and deceive the native officer he thought was a friend, Raymond Burr as an Indian Muslim and infiltrate their underground. The conclusion could be figured out from a scene in the middle where a "new" weapon was shown to the Brit officers.

It wasn't horrid but don't go out of your way to watch it

The United States of Leland
(2003)

OMG, what are these Evil Teens Up To
Though this is supposed to be an "indie", the producers must have been very well connected to get such A list talent to work on a C list movie. It is one of those movies based on a trope that the public loves: teens doing horrific stuff. Are they evil, is our society to blame for making such nice boys into monsters? It just draws us in, along with the alleged narcissism of the title, which was plain stupid.

Leland kills a retarded kid, the brother of his erstwhile junkie girl friend and her phony "picture perfect" white suburban family. He is a smart, seemingly pleasant guy full of all sorts of insights that his rude self centered neglectful novelist Kevin Spacey dad gave him. The writer mucks out of the moral angle of this by conveniently having the titular character mentally "black out" at the time of the murder, even though he wasn't a druggie.

I compare this to the River's Edge. While that movie was clumsy and had some hammy acting and bad plot elements, it connected with me and many of my time because it showed the dark side of drugs, out of control teens etc in suburbia. Nor did they try to sugar coat the killer, he was a pig. But he was "saved" by an older, hipper killer. But the old one leg biker killer was morally superior to his younger protégé because he at least loved his girlfriend that he shot dead for no real reason. US of L was superior to that movie on a technical and acting level but it was kind of cheap and exploitative. Ryan Gosling is a good actor but his puppy dog man-boy act involved spouting all sorts of random insights about the human condition. His character just didn't connect too well.

There was no resolution, no real catharsis. The ending was all pat and cheap. For instance: wasn't Pearl, the wise caring black guy stock character, responsible because he neglected his duties?

The Mystery of Spoon River
(2000)

Not Bad But It Had Tons of Faults
This is a low budget indie movie so I will cut it some slack. But its heart was in the right place though most of the writing & acting was just lame.

It involved some town that was haunted by ghosts of the Civil War, the KKK & others so it could be classified as a supernatural thriller with some social commentary. But there were just too many jarring elements to it. First off, it starts out promising with a couple of good old boys going raccoon hunting at night. The next day a woman driving a harvester finds scoops up a dead game warden, who we can't even tell he was a black man at first. So the local TV crew comes, some vain phony newscaster woman who when the sheriff says the game warden was killed by some coon, as in the animal, hunters, she spins it as a racially motivated murder. Then all hell breaks lose, but we never even see any of the local cops saying, "Wait a minute, we never said there was anything racial" That part could have been developed more as a sensationalist media angle. Then a big city female lawyer comes, because one of the hunters who has been charged with murder, was her old boyfriend. Even though their guns didn't match the bullet they pulled out of the dead man, and there were no witnesses, that doesn't seem to be enough to get him off the hook, especially when his hunting buddy spazes out on the lawyer and FBI agents.

Okay, it went on like this for a while, spirits exacting revenge on live Klansmen and others as our intrepid female lawyer lead finds out the town's dark secrets, while getting lambasted herself for being some soul-less big city lawyer sell out.

It could have been so much better if they just polished the script up a bit and focused on the core story. It was adapted from a book of the same name so they must have just thrown as much as they could in. But when one of the major plot elements revolved around some guy accidentally shooting himself dead with some 140 year old black powder Civil War revolver he found laying in the woods, yeah, think it out better!

Jack Reacher
(2012)

Soul-less Throwaway Seen This a 100 Times Before
Well, of course any A list movie with such a cast and director will have all the basics down pat, except it's a soul-less, unoriginal product that doesn't elevate the audience, at least the thinking ones who appreciate something more than a macho violence fest. It is designed to appeal to the action movie crowd, you know the skinhead tattooed types at the gym or on loud motorcycles who haven't read a book since school stamped their parchment.

We have Cruise being Mr. Badass Bullet Chewing Ex Army West Point MP lifer Jack Reacher, who resigned from the Army and lives off the grid with just the clothes on his back. You'd think a lifer like him would at least have a duffel bag with a change of clothes and a toilet kit, but he shows up in Pittsburgh empty handed on a bus. At first he's there to help convict some Army killer he pursued in the past for some mass shooting that happened in Iraq. His character is such macho bs, and so worn out, but that doesn't matter to the audience who apparently need a really smart guy, who can figure all the angles everyone else missed and who can also kill 10 armed men barehanded. It is like Cruise got into character in some BS pseudo-artsy Jap gore fest like "The Last Samurai" and never got back to reality. Since Mr Perfect is also the producer of this as well as the man who turned Mission Impossible into another generic ultra violent chase scene thriller, I think Cruise really imagines himself as a Reacher clone

So of course, we know the shooter, or the guy we thought was the shooter, wasn't the bad guy. And we knew that one of the stuffed shirts we met in the beginning was prolly in the pay of the bad guys. And we knew that there was going to be tons of sophisticated weapons and fancy shooting, along with a chase scene involving every bad ass guy's wet dream, a 1968 Chevy Malibu SS 396 4 speed, driven by the master at everything who is, I guess, a good driver in reality. The common iconic 60s muscle car is a stand in for the lameness and unoriginality of the character and the rest of the plot.

There is a really bad guy, a Russian, natch, called the Zek, played by a German, Werner Herzog. He is really bad, like he chewed his fingers off to save himself in a Soviet gulag. Then I find out that the real target of this mass shooting, and the subsequent mayhem and expense to cover it up. was someone these ultra evil, ultra well financed guys could have dealt with in their sleep. It reminds me of using a shotgun to kill a fly.

I mean these evil guys are so bad, that when they paid some local not-so-evil hood to drive Reacher off by stomping him, which failed of course, the really evil people not only killed their local contact guy, but the five hapless petty criminals their local guy hired for a $100/piece. Heck, once they killed their local contact, there would have been no way for Terminator Reacher to trace it back. But the plots of movies like this are there mainly to provide the set up for the next set of homicides.

Then the movie had this old Marine - "young" Army guy bonding scene at a shooting range. The old guy was Duvall, wdf. Natch, once we got over his crustiness, you knew they would bond so well that after one meeting the old man would drive 200 miles to help the Terminator shoot all the bad guys dead in some night quarry construction site shoot out scene.

I hate using the term fascist, because it is so overworked and misused, as well as the two big heroes in the end were operating alone, not part of some storm battalion. But it was fascist, in that it espoused these ultra conservative, ultra macho military trained militaristic guys are the key to help us clean up society. For sure, we do need these types sometime, but in movies & TV today it seems the message we get is that this is the way to deal with all the bad parts of life. IT is all some Manichean struggle where soul-less, rootless good guys can waste all sorts of ultra heinous, well equipped and almost as competent bad guys then walk away for a good breakfast as Dennys. I know, this is just supposed to be escapist fare, but maybe we should ask ourselves if trash like this from A listers is causing so many people to be alienated and go over the edge. Yeah, yeah, 99.99% of the people who watched this won't do anything sadistic or insane, but what about that .01%?

PS: I just made the connection between this movie and some similar stinker set in Pittsburgh, "Striking Distance". That cheesy Bruce Willis, over the top macho action flick got more than its share of razzies from the fans & critics. If you take that movie as parody of its genre which it is, it is more palatable than this macho militaristic cowboy sadistic nonsense.

Kidnapped
(2006)

Derivative and Crummy Characters, Glitzy Nonsense
First off are the three leads, Sisto, Roach and Hutton. They are all okay actors but they are best off playing more cerebral types. But here they have Sisto cast as some empathetic, caring, but psychopathic, blood thirsty but genius sort of freelance super heavy detective who specializes in helping out kidnap victims & their rich families for a large fee, payable only on success. He did a good job playing crazy, with a touch of menace, & weird on Six Feet Under, but I can't take him seriously as a cross between Woody Allen, Monk and Dirty Harry. The plot is so far fetched and is full of mindless action and violence. Obviously they were inspired by 24, but that show at least had national security and mass destruction as a plot element, not scum trying to leach or rip off a rich NYC guy.

The country and globe hopping aspect of it didn't help at all either, it gave it no extra class or variety. Even Timothy Hutton, who plays the patriarch Kane of the kidnapped kid went rogue when he went from being hard pressed rich guy dad to some scion of an Irish mobster from Queens. Then he gets all medieval himself. That is so out of character. Delroy Lindo reminds me of some extinct dinosaur or dodo bird as the head FBI guy who psycho Sisto locks horns and then cooperates with in in the classic film noir love hate relation meme between the private dick and the city gumshoes. There is nothing new here, just a lot of the same old. Even lame old Ray Donovan had more character and moxie than this NBC network stinker.

Here are some examples of all around lameness in plot and writing. Sisto does the usual macho BS shtick of walking into the home bar of the aforementioned Irish gang and starts twisting the arm of one of the members for information, but no one helps the guy out. Maybe Bruce Willis or Chuck Norris can get away with that in one of their macho actioneers, but not here. Or this super sophisticated, well financed group of mystery kidnappers stashes the kidnapped kid in some tenement neighborhood in some crummy Mexican village, where everyone there seems to see how out of place the group & kid are. You'd think they would have found some walled-in isolated villa in the country side to stash their victim, not some place where he keeps almost escaping and even the local constable knows about them.

I was so glad they pulled the plug on this load of lameness before one season was up. It is just too bad they didn't smother it at birth.

The Stone Killer
(1973)

I Love 79s Cop Stuff Lke this
But this is just lame. Director Winner and Bronson worked together a lot. They made "Death Wish" which was so much better. They were trying to capture the Dirty Harry zeitgeist but the plot was just too convoluted and ridiculous. A complicated revenge murder plot where old Mafia types wait forty years and use Vietnam vets to kill new Mafia types is just pulp. Stuart Margolin, how usually plays flaky side guys, is the head commando, & Martin Balsam is the head mafia dude, sheesh. It wasn't a horrible flick, But don't spend any money or go out of your way to watch it. It is on Crackle as of 04/06/2014 so you can watch it for free. Even the ending was so pointlessly ambiguous with Bronson and his crusty boss Fell sitting in an unmarked police car with Bronson telling some pointless joke concerning Romans, Christians and lions in the coliseum while head mafia dude Balsam walks out of confession in a NYC church 2500 miles away from LA. WDF??

Salt
(2010)

Well Made Junk, It's a Mindless Hollywood Action "Spy" Movie
This movie has about as much relation to spy craft as watching a Star Trek TV program would help you understand the Apollo space program, but without even the occasional social moral theme that Trek throws in . Nothing in in made any sense. Spies aren't killer cyborgs who can burst into a building and disable trained guards and agents with bare hands or improvise Rube Goldberg devices then deactivate complicated electro-mechanical systems as if they designed and built them themselves. She made Rambo look like a drunk college baseball player fighting in a local college bar on Friday night. She seemed to have the same mythical warrior invincibility as Alice the Enhanced One has in all those Resident Evil movies & video games. I realize that James Bond commando kung fu trained warriors are the norm in movies these days, but at least James Bond used to be novel and humorous, unlike our Terminatrix here.

The climax involved a couple of Russian deep plant agents taking over the Whitehouse and president so they can launch nuclear weapons, natch. "Whitehouse Down" and "Olympus Has Fallen" had similar plot lines but there at least there was a whole bunch of bad guys, and lots of them were killed fighting the various security forces stationed there. But here one of the agents runs interference for our female cyborg by detonating a suicide bomb vest all of 10' from her, in an underground corridor. But our female terminator was barely fazed by the enormous blast. Or in an earlier scene, she stages this elaborate kill operation on the president of Russia in a cathedral in NYC where she sets up all sorts of stunts and booby traps in a place she was utterly unfamiliar with & had all of five minutes to set up the stunts that worked perfectly. Then she takes out 3 NYC cops in an SUV while in cuffs. Not just that but she used a stun gun to get the driver to shift gears, apply the gas or steer the wheel as if she tapped right into to his neural pathways with the zapper. That was so silly it even one upped the rest of the stunts; and it was pretty sadistic thing to do to some schmoe cop who was just doing his job.

I watched it because the highway scene was filmed nearby and I borrowed the DVD gratis. If you like a lot of action but don't care about plot or even a glimmer of reality to the script, then you might like it.

That being said, Jolie did well with her limited female kill-bot role. The black CIA Guy, Chiwetel Ejiofor, did well too. The rest of the cast, including wooden Liev Schreiber, were adequate at best. There is nothing I took out of this movie worth remembering save some well done but a load of "impossible in real life" stunts. Even the paper thin veneer of humanity and ambiguity most of the fawning reviews spoke of are flat. We knew she was some fancy Russian Manchurian double agent type, something about being conditioned in Russia when she was young by the same guy who ratted her out later. That had been established early in the movie. It was easy to predict that she was a good bad guy character who in the end wouldn't do anything very heinous, She'll just kill lots of bad bad guys but only seriously disable the good ones.

Killer Joe
(2011)

Sick Movie,
While it was well made and had a clever screenplay and dialog, it was a sick movie. It was utterly amoral and degenerate. Not one character seemed to have any decency and the plot was plain wicked. I am sure someone would complain that it makes fun of poor whites in Texas, which is par for Hollywood. But no matter where it was set & the class/race of the characters, it is a movie that shouldn't be made. It is a totally depressing movie that would bring you down unless you are a morbid type. I was plain let down by it and was so happy when it ended. Of course, I am guilty of moralizing but I want to warn people that it is a plain wicked movie without one iota of redeeming social value.

Equilibrium
(2002)

Matrix meets Rambo, 1984 and Brave New World, Derivative & Weak
First off, it had really good production values & sfx, and a good roster of actors. So it was competently made, But not only was the concept derivative, not a crime for sure, but it was just plain weak. It was like some movie guys got all coked and said, "What if Winston Smith & Julia in 1984 had a ton of firepower & they went out and blasted the Ministry of Love & O'Brien instead of becoming another victim?" Well they had this concept called Gunkata, which takes the old concept that the good guys can walk though a storm of lead, not even get nicked then take the bad guys out with single pistol shots acting all calm as a cucumber to the ultimate silly extreme.

Okay this was supposed to be a totalitarian updated version of 1984. Yet the rebels had access to all sorts of guns, books etc. The good citizens were all supposed to be drugged against emotion, hence the name Equilibrium, the main drug. The good guy, Bale, is one of the chief enforcers, a cleric. But do these totalitarian bad guys bother to check up on their enforcers, no. They don't even have a simple way to check if someone stopped taking the required calming drugs, which should be easy since their whole system was based on the drug being used by all. Then there is this one scene with all these dogs the dead rebels owned. Our hero sneaks one of those cute beagles out so he can bond with it, OMG, I overdosed on saccharine at this point.

Then the finale, where one massive fight consisting of The One vs the center bunch of baddies, which results in the whole system being crashed in one hour. The Matrix had a lot of overkill and over-firepower, but it was utterly original in its theme, style and special effects and Nero didn't crash the whole Matrix in an afternoon of shooting it out with the cops and the Agent Smiths. It took two pallid sequels to right the world after the first Matrix big hit. This one fixes the earth in one hour.

Star Trek Into Darkness
(2013)

It is not a bad movie, but it sucks anyways
Star Trek spawned many feature films starring the crews from the original series, Kirk, Spock, etc and Next Generation, Picard, Worf, etc TV series & one with a mix of the two. Honestly, most of those movies were schlock, far worse than this one many levels. But they were the real ST deal, since they had the real actors and Roddenberry's guidance behind them.

The three following TV series, while having their faults, continued the ST tradition. Even the retro last one, Enterprise, did okay until it degenerated into mindless alien fights like the one with time traveling alien baddies where they all went back to alt reality Earth 1944 to fight Nazis & aliens. Any sci fi that needs a Nazi plot should pack it up!

This movie, while very competently made, is a fake. Abrahms is good at characters, but the characters from the Original Series have been etched into our collective consciousness for decades so imitating them is no big deal, I am sorry. They did a good job of trying, but it just flopped. Pine is not Shatner, and lacked the level of genial pomposity and arrogance that Shatner used to make Kirk. Not can Quinto hold a candle to Nimoy. And bringing Nimoy on board as Old Spock, a double Spock trick, via time travel was really grasping at plot straws. The Khan character substitute just sucked & redoing an old TV show then movie plot line reeked of desperation. Star Trek is supposed to explore new planets, new civilizations, new life forms. Okay, some of that was corny like the Chicago Roaring 20s gangster world, but even that was fun. But all Abrahm's two reboots did was recycle the same old characters, planets & species. For instance the opening scene where they saved the stone age inhabitants of the red planet while visusally arresting, missed the mark. Kirk & McCoy were obviously observing, possibly interacting with the aliens before it started with them being chased. But did Abrahms "bore" us with the previous interactions with the primitives or why were the duo walking on the surface near them to begin with? Nope, they were just there to be chased then the two jump off a cliff into the water, yadda yadda

It is an epoch failure since it missed the whole ethos of Star Trek in favor of Bondian Star Wars action and slapstick

Silver Linings Playbook
(2012)

A trainload of corn syrup and chicken schmaltz derailed
I just don't see what was so great about this film, except it was A list budget so it could hire good actors & other stuff to make it a polished work. Don't get me wrong, I like romantic comedies, chick flicks and predictable happy endings. Not every movie has to be some apocalyptic epic full of extreme violence, gore, the undead and mass explosions. But this movie was so full of sugar, it could rot your teeth out. Don't get me wrong, mental illness doesn't have to be treated reverently in some melodramatic fashion, but this movie had about as much relation to real mental illness and sufferers as "Hogan's Heroes" had to WW 2 POWs.

Apparently everyone around Pat Jr, the Bradley Cooper character, seemed to be pulling for him, ready to bend over backwards to help him out. The whole upper working class neighborhood milieu, were Philadelphia Eagles football fans. His father, Pat Sr. my fave De Niro, was the only saving grace in the movie. Dad was an uber superstitious football fan & bookie too. The Sunday game was the center of family life. Even the local cop, who showed up every time he was almost going to violate the restraining order of his ex wife or the frequent heated arguments he got into with parents and locals, was on his side, pulling for him. The multicultural crew included his Indian shrink, who was also a Philly Eagle fan like everyone else, and Chris Tucker, a black fellow inmate from the mental institute who was around for PC comic relief as a semi permanent guest at the Solitano residence. No racism here. The only one who wasn't a foot ball van was Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, the widowed bipolar nympho. I like her a lot too, but I simply don't see her work as Oscar material just because the movie sucked so bad.

The whole plot seemed to be, if you fall in love with the other mentally disturbed woman who wants you, and give up trying to win back your cheating ex wife. all will be well. There was no sense that the two were working on their mental health issues at all. No breakthroughs, no growing up, no revealing group therapy scenes. Compare that to dated-due-to-the-breakdown of the family "Ordinary People" I watched recently. While that was a drama, it won an Oscar by having some realism and recovery, not by pretending that romantic love is the mental health panacea. Here, the families will all love you and dad will win his bet and get enough money to buy the restaurant and the two losers will live happily ever after at their parent's house, doing an occasional dance contest. The two beautiful mental patients will finally declare their love for each other on a Holiday Season decorated city street at night right out of an old MGM musical.

Even the whole dance contest, the crux of the budding Pat & Tiffany relationship, was given short shrift. The DVD had tons of deleted scenes of the two practicing but that was all cut out in the theatrical version. There was simply too much schmaltz for me to take seriously! And what were the plays in that lined play book anyways?

The Punisher
(2004)

Rambo Meets Death Wish, It's Barely Watchable Tripe
I just bought a Blu-Ray player so I was looking for some cheap $5 disks to check it out. The name was familiar based on an even worse sequel I watched a while back on free cable. There wasn't much expectation so I really wasn't disappointed by it.

It is pretty cheesy to judge a movie with some simple comparison like "Rambo Meets Death Wish". But in this case, it is applicable. The characters, action and production values are good enough to make it watchable, it certainly isn't cheap grindhouse or direct to video fare. But Death Wish is far more believable and better in every respect, except for its massively cheesy sequels. Rambo is a far more dramatic actioner and Tom Jane aka the Punisher is like Ryan Reynolds in comparison to Stallone.

But it is the same old same old, Bad guys kill super cop ex-commando's family, ergo he gets license to go medi-evil on the greasy well heeled mobsters that did these horrible deeds. Good guy has plethora of neat weapons as well as he's Mr. MMA. There is an interesting coterie of freaky neighbor friends to make it a little interesting. John Travolta and Will Patton are the baddies and they make them slightly better than total pulp cartoons. But in the end, any movie where one of my most hated actors, aka Vinnie Barbarino, dies a fiery death can't be all bad.

Marvel Comics production or not, it is just a cheap comic book movie no matter how hard they tried to make it upscale

God Bless America
(2011)

I can totally sympathize and empathize with the lead and the movie
But that doesn't mean it was great. Anyone with half a brain and soul gets really depressed when he sees the torrents of garbage gushing out of the mass media today. Who wouldn't want to blast some Sean Hannity or Simon Cowell clone just for being so successful, mean vapid and stupid. Garbage not only sells in the media but it sells very well. That is why a fat not very intelligent pig like Rush can make so much money. Obviously there are business angles that these peoples' teams know how to play, but it makes me sick to see people get rich and famous off of such juvenile rubbish. And fantasizing about destroying them en masse, like mowing down the cast and crew of the Jersey Show with maybe the rest of MTV, is not an aberration but almost healthy.

That being said, making a movie about some poor sod who couldn't take all the rubbish then goes on a cross country killing spree is not the best approach. Frank and Roxy were were interesting characters, we could easily sympathize & identify with them, but then they boiled down into genre clichés. And maybe if you want to make an angry message movie about media garbage, you can lay off the mass murder, blood & gut and gun play a bit. For instance, in the new Three Stooges movie Moe got to do his sadistic but mild routine on the Jersey Shore cast or in Cecile B Demented, they played serious tricks on bad movie people and places but avoided the mass murder angle. Maybe if Bobcat had a more uplifting ending with a better game plan involved, he might actually help turn things around & I won't have to have endless reality shows about rednecks driving trucks or dancing in beauty shows on documentary channels.

Prometheus
(2012)

Very Big Letdown
Okay, I expected more out of Ridley Scott and this latest installment of Aliens. So expectations lead to disappointments. If this was some low budget film by a second string director, I might have been slightly more charitable, but not much more. The movie could have been so much better with a better plot and characters.

For positives, it had great sets, visuals and location shots. They also had a pretty good set of actors. Michael Fassbender as David the Android was by far the best actor role set. It also had a decent but no original pansperia, life originating from another planet, plot element. It was certainly a far better film than the execrable "Mission to Mars" by the execrable Brian De Palma. It also floated out some intelligent ideas and concepts that weren't directly answered

But these are the parts that made the film bite. First two men get stranded in the dig when the rest of the crew had to high tail it back to the ship when a big storm blew in. These are supposed to be a couple of wimps who got scared when they found the dead aliens' bodies. So they end up taking refuge in the creepiest chamber they found, the temple room full of black goo and those creepy vases that are supposed to contain baby aliens. So one of them sees this ugly heinous looking creature swimming in the black goo on the floor. So they start cooing at it like it was a cute golden retriever puppy, trying to pet it. Even if looked like a cute puppy, any alien life form has to be treated with the utmost care and suspicion; if for nothing else contamination. Naturally bad things happen to them. It reminds me of a cheap horror movies where the next set of victims decide to take a stroll in some dark creepy place so the slasher or monster can have an easier time killing them off.

The worst part was when after David the android got one of the aliens implanted into our lead Scientist, Elizabeth Shaw. She gets away and gets in some auto surgery medical pod to get this terrible thing removed. So the machine gets it out of her. And she immediately gets dressed and goes to confront the mission leader, Meredith Vickers. She doesn't tell anyone about this horrible incident and horrible creature, which she left partially neutralized inside the medical pod. I mean after such a horrific event, if some one wasn't struck down by shock, they would at least tell some one, especially the mission leader and ship's captain. Okay, part of the plot was that the people involved were not unified and many had their own agenda. But Shaw was the de facto leader of the expedition. Later on, that monster, without eating anything, managed to grow in size about a 100 fold in less than a day.

I don't mind a movie recycling past elements, but from other movies, like the Fifield into the man-spider thing like from the Carpenter's "The Thing". There were just too many dumb characters, dumb moves, like trying to run from a ring shaped ship that is rolling on its side like a wheel by running down the track it is bound to roll on instead of cutting to one side or the other. We deserved better and Sir Scott let us down

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