Adam M. Wilcox, is a journalist, website owner, YouTuber, and musician. He served as Arts and Entertainment editor for Joliet Junior College, and Illinois Central Community College. He served two years in the United States Navy, as Command Journalist for the USS Inchon. He managed a GameStop for 7 years, and also sings in an electronic music group, Taro 2.0.
Video reviews are more reactionary. Especially something that’s still new in a movie theater. For the old movies on Cynical Cyborg Cinema, there will only be minor alterations between video and written, because I’m usually going for a series of feelings, and jokes, rather than try to convince you to see this movie. This one will be a little more different than my video material.
I tend to avoid reading, or watching other videos when I write a review, because I want that reaction to be as genuinely fresh as possible. I did that, and then I decided to watch some reviews on YouTube after I uploaded my own just to see if I happened to say the same things as other critics. So far the only thing I repeated was that Once Upon a Time In…Hollywood is a Tarentino style love letter to Hollywood, and that Brad Pitt, and Leonardo DiCaprio had very good on screen chemistry. It’s true about it being a love letter to Hollywood, as a snapshot of a bygone era. Tarantino is coming close to the end of his career (he has committed to doing only 10 films), and that’s damn impressive considering all of his movies have been either critical, and or, commercial successes. 10 seems like a nice round number. Point I’m getting at, is he doesn’t have to take shit from anyone, doesn’t have to prove himself to anyone, and doesn’t have to make any apologies for anything. So when I see clickbait trash journalists poke him with a stick, it gives me a great feeling of satisfaction to snap back at one of them without hesitation.
One of the complaints I hear about this one is feet, and I am kind sad I didn’t mention it, but as I stated in my video review…the movie left me with an uplifting positive feeling of satisfaction when I left the theater. That’s what stayed with me between yesterday and today. Yes Quentin has a foot fetish. It’s in all of his films. It never really distracts from the movie, but he does have a thing with feet. Dirty feet. In this one he makes those feet as prominent as possible. Nasty dirty feet right in the center of the damn screen as if it’s Tarantino’s way of saying “take THAT audiences! How you like me now?”
The other complaint I hear is some people feel the length. I can understand that criticism. For the past ten years the most popular movies at the box office have been Marvel Studios Cinematic Universe, or MCU. We’ve gone from having one of those a year to 2 or 3 in a given year now. Not saying those movies are bad, but they do have a very similar formula in that every single one of them has a familiar cadence to delivery of dialogue. Every scene has to count. Every single scene in the movie has to check a specific demographic. Most movies have tried to replicate this formula in hope of replicating the amount of revenue that those movies bring. Most average people see about 3 or 4 movies in a theater a year. Chances are, at least two of those are probably Marvel Movies. So what I am saying is that audiences have been trained to except a certain type of delivery. They expect to see revelations after the credits. They expect a certain number of jokes. The Marvel formula you will! A lot of people seeing movies now might not remember Tarantino movies, where you get long discussions about piercings, elaborate descriptions about milk shakes, hamburgers, or Madonna’s Big Dick. Also this movie is a bit of a throwback film as are many of Tarantino’s earlier releases. This one has long establishing shots of people eating, dancing, or driving a car for 10 minutes while listening to the radio. There is one scene where Pitt and DiCaprio are watching a scene on an old TV set. Not sure why, but I enjoyed the Hell out of those scenes, because I am old enough to remember those kind of movies and what they were like. In other words, I remember what movies were like before the MCU cannibalized the cinaplexes around the world.
This one is admittedly less violent than most Tarantino movies which was a massive surprise, but it was also refreshing to see that he wasn’t putting these scenes in a movie just to tic a checkbox for people with short attention spans.
I mentioned that I sat through 20 fucking minutes of trailers I’ve either already seen, or movies that I don’t care about. This movie didn’t make me bored or uncomfortable, or impatient. I was falling in love with a good movie. Something I haven’t felt in a long time.
The last complaint I heard was that the “story” isn’t necessarily resolved as far as Brad Pitt’s motives. I think that’s open to your own interpretation. Some people may have forgot a movie called Pulp Fiction that is basically an assemblage of vignettes made to look like footage that was cut from a bigger movie, and deliberately shown out of sequence. I personally have to admit that I like a movie that is shown in order. There is a story here, and everything does happen in order, and things are set up for a reason, and I admit that not ALL plot points are completely spelled put for you with flashy lights and arrows, but I didn’t walk away confused. I was deeply satisfied by the resolution of this Hollywood fairy tale. I still feel after at least 24 hours of reflection, that my perfect score of 5 out of 5 cheese curds is justified and true.
In an age where movies are announced with powerpoints that show roadmaps and “phases”, for movies that will be coming out long after I am dust and rust. I am getting instantly bored out of my skull knowing every single movie coming out for the next 25 years or so. Sooo…you will have to forgive me if I might have glossed over dirty nasty feet, long scenes of driving, talking and eating, and plots that aren’t explained with crayons and lights. I went to see the kind of movie that I’d been waiting for, and am left with both a deep satisfaction, and a melancholy feeling, that Hollywood has changed so much that I don’t recognize it anymore.
Oh Megaforce, I have a love hate relationship with you. An unhealthy one. This movie fails the Turing Test on so many levels, I don’t even know where to begin.
Megaforce is the brain child of Hal Needham, the guy responsible for such cigar chompin’ Skoal spitting, ball scratching classics as Smokey and the Bandit, Hooper, and The Cannonball Run. So basically movies where rednecks explain the plot in between stunts by yelling exposition at each other through “CB radios”.
Apparently he wanted to make a franchise movie that was epic like Star Wars, with multiple movies, and lots of franchise money could be made with merchandising. Of course it might of worked, since the plot was similar to G.I. Joe, but this pre-dates it by a couple of years. More on that later.
So we open up with some loose explanation of the super secret army known as Megaforce is basically fighting the forces of evil from a hidden base. Sound familiar? The opening crawl is actually pretty cool and reminds me of an early 90’s KMFDM video. The first scene establishes our villains, the worst I have ever seen since…nuclear man. Again, this pre-dates that too. Maybe this movie is from the future, I doubt it. More on that later too. Some schmuck is reading some kind of statement, and actually saying “comma, and period” in between, and after sentences. Worst Cobra Commander ever. I hope his ass get’s Serpentored, by season 3. (G.I. Joe fan deep cuts anyone?) Guerera played by Henry Silva is the tank commander that has had quite enough of commander Not Cobra’s shit and decides to fire the tanks at a model of a factory while the worker’s look on. Guess lunch break got extended.
We then quickly meet Zara, (Persis Khambatta), and Byrne-White ( Edward Mulhare), or as I like to call them, “Vger, and Chuckle Fuck P-0”. Who must seek out the help of Megaforce to stop the evil Guerra from blowing shit up. A limo drives them out to the middle of a desert, and a rattlesnake almost bites them during one of Chuckle Fuck P-0’s rants. Introducing Dallas ( Michael Beck We then quickly meet Zara, (Persis Khambatta), and Byrne-White ( Edward Mulhare), or as I like to call them, “Vger, and Chuckle Fuck P-0”. Who must seek out the help of Megaforce to stop the evil Guerra from blowing shit up. A limo drives them out to the middle of a desert, and a rattlesnake almost bites them during one of Chuckle Fuck P-0’s rants. Introducing Dallas (Michael Beck), who informs us that there is no rank in Megaforce, except for one commander. Well that must have a great retention program. No advancement opportunities? No employee of the month parking? Surely there has to be some reason to want to succeed in the Megaforce? Worst military since the Coast Guard!
Anyways Dallas shows Vger, and Fuck P-0 how holograms work, and then take us to meet the infamous leader of the Megaforce. After witnessing a spectacular dirt bike sequence that shoots missiles at balloons, one single dirt bike jumps over a truck, and lands. Once the helmet is removed, the locks flow out that would make Barry Gibb’s heart skip a beat. We meet “Ace Hunter”, (Barry Bostwick), well there goes MY PORNO NAME, thanks…Megaforce!
We get the nickel tour, and Dallas introduces us to budget “Q”, and shows us the giant underground facility that has all of the high tech equipment that the world has never seen. Supposedly leaders of the world secretly contribute to this phantom army to solve world problems….wait….nah forget it. That’s all the explanation we get. We see some actually pretty cool matte paintings, and then we go dinner. Megaforce shows up wearing these really hilarious blue bell hop uniforms which really don’t make sense since this is supposed to be a “phantom army” why wear uniforms at all? Of course it is so Barry Gibb, I mean Barry Bostwick can show off his camel toe, or package, depending on which scene we see next.
At dinner, Ace reveals that he knows everything about Guerera, and they used to be buddies, until something bad happened. He stole Ace’s lighter. I can’t make this shit up! The post dinner scene is yet another hologram showing Ace’s retarded plan to basically blow the shit out of all the units in 4 minutes, and then get Guerera to chase them into another territory. The plot is really thin, and doesn’t make a lot of logistical sense. Just know they show us a thing, and they will blow up a thing, to get Guerera away from the thing. Clear as mud? Good. Speaking of logistics…The entire time Dallas has a confederate flag on his uniform. This is probably the part where I am supposed to make some statement about racism or whatever, but fuck that, we got twitter for that shit. I am more concerned with the logistics of the confederate flag. Assuming this takes place in 1982, is it…an alternate reality 1982, where the south won the Civil War? Or is this the future? And if this IS the future…how did THAT recruitment speech go? “Hey guys, sorry about the Civil War, but we totally got this….this time around! My guess is it’s just that Hal Needham made Smokey and the Bandit, and thinks rednecks are funny. But seriously though, if this is a “phantom army” why even represent your country if they don’t know you exist? Oh fuck it..
Vger then informs Ace that she is coming along too. After an awkward training montage that ends at Dave N’ Buster’s, it is revealed that Vger has a perfect score. Yet anyway Ace reveals that bringing in an outsider would jeopardize the operation of 60 men who have trained to work together as a unit that understands each other’s every move. Well…then WHY IN THE FUCK, would you waste time and resources on this, if the answer was going to be no to begin with? No wonder gas prices are so high…thanks a lot, MEGAFORCE! That still doesn’t stop the worst love story in cinematic history from trying to happen. Even though Ace basically just man splained Vger from going out with the boys, she still loves him, they kiss and do this stupidly awkward thumb kiss thing…that creeps me out, and happens multiple times in the film. It’s just super weird! Anyways, now that THAT bullshit is out of the way…we can get to the plain, and have us some action. FINALLY!!!
This is where the most of the movie’s budget goes. The vehicles and uniforms are stealth black, and Megaforce blows the shit out of everything while a counter at the corner of the movie screen counts down. A nice touch to be honest. After this is all settled….something truly weird happens. Guerera choppers into the make shift camp, and shares a few moments and stories about lighters with Ace as they hug and kiss. What in the legends of FUCK is even going on in this movie anymore? The “evil” in this movie is basically and old flame? Fuck The Turing Test, I don’t even know what planet I am on anymore.
The next not so chocking reveal is that General Fuck P-0 has played Ace, and made his actions look like an act of war. Not surprised at all. I was just starting to like that general too. The stick up his ass, had a stick up IT’s ass. We share some more awkward thumb kisses, and several close ups of Barry Bostwick’s package, and buttocks. They are practically characters in the movie at this point. And Hal Needham has some massive homoerotic aggression pent up inside of him. Jesus Murphy!
So Commander Ace Freeball’s grand plan is to basically split up the army, and go in separate directions, and then dump the expensive vehicles, self destruct them, and then meet up on a plane? Of course we get this lovely chase sequence of colored smoke, that doesn’t make any combat sense, but paints a lovely rainbow color across the desert floor. Unfortunately, Ace has an accident, then he goes to the tank that Guerera is in, and bangs on the hatch with his toy gun. This allows him to make the most wonderful cinematic quote in history: “The good guys always win, even in the 80’s”
The good guys always win, even in the 80’s! _Commander Ace Hunter
It’s the best part that sends this movie from being full blown trash, to a bad movie masterpiece. The transport plane had to take off, but Ace jumps back on his dirt bike and races towards it. He presses a couple of buttons, and two wings fold out of the back, and he flies up into the air like Buck Rogers. I can’t make this shit up! As he rides the motorcycle into the landing bay, he jumps off the bike and does a little sashay, and throws his hands up in the air as his men cheer him on.
Movies like this are one of a kind. Terrible, yet charming! For all of the stupid shit I ripped on from the first sentence, such as lame villains, lack of any kind of tension, or violence, Hell almost no conflict even, it is still entertaining enough to be a cult classic. This movie failed at the box office, and never saw a sequel, but that doesn’t stop people from talking about it, or even ripping off of it. Power Rangers Megaforce, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, AND Team America all ripped off this movie years after it’s release. Mattel made all of the spandex costumes, with grenades, I can’t help but think that given a few years time, and just a different license from Hasbro would have just made this a G.I. Joe franchise. It probably still would have sucked, but it would have been better than the last two G.I. Joe movies. For as much as I fault it, I can still give this 3 out of 5 cheese curds, it has problems, but nothing about seemed to be mean spirited. I recommend watching this one in groups of people with popcorn. And remember, knowning is half the battle, I mean “deeds, not words”. MEGAFORCE!!!
Some of the best worst movies come from what we like to call “happy accidents”. It usually involves a director who’s ambitions are greater than the some of the budget, or lack of knowledge. In 1991, Amir Shervan made a happy accident called “Samurai Cop“, a direct to video knock off of Lethal Weapon, which has become a cult classic in recent years.
Movies like these are fun to watch for sure, but the “problem” is that these happy accidents are exactly that, happy accidents. You can’t plan a disaster, and have it always work. You can’t always have your cake and eat it too.
Samurai Cop was so bad, that actor Mathew Karedas (billed as Matt Hannon) tried to get fired from the production, especially after extensive re-shoots, however…the director used these scenes anyways. That is a tale for another article. Right now, let’s get back to the movie at hand. The sequel to the happy accident that was funded by a Kickstarter campaign.
I think Ian Malcolm said it best in Jurassic Park; ” Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” While it is a joy that a sequel to Samurai Cop seen the light of day, nobody stopped to think of what a movie like that would look like. All I can say is well…it exists.
Samurai Cop 2 looks like the way an REO Speedwagon tour bus probably smells; Full of stale sex, crotch sweat, spilled bear, and thousand year old cigarette smoke.
Samurai Cop 2 looks like the way an REO Speedwagon tour bus probably smells; Full of stale sex, crotch sweat, spilled bear, and thousand year old cigarette smoke. This is not a jab at Matthew Karedas, Hell, I WISHED I looked that good at his age right now. The problem is the execution of this movie. We all get it is supposed to be bad, but how much can your senses sustain the cinematic equivalent of a stroke happening in real time? I digress.
Amir Shervan met the choir invisible in 2006, so this one is “directed” by Gregory Hatanaka , who funded the release of the now widely popular original. I am using air quotes as I type this, because “directed” is a relatively loose term here. I am by no stretch of the means, a director, but I have been watching movies and videos long enough on this mortal coil, to know what works, and what does not work.
Samurai Cop 2 is a movie in the sense that….um…there are people on the screen that say words, and do stuff. Eventually it stops, and then there are end credits. The plot? I have no fucking clue what this movie is about. I swear I have top men working on it right now. Who? TOP…MEN… From the best I can make of it, Joe (Matt Karedas) lost his wife shortly after the first movie, when she was gunned down by a child, he then went into obscurity. His partner, “not Danny Glover”, Frank has been working as a detective ever since. Some nonsense about some not so oriental gangs are about to start a gang war, and Joe is called back out of retirement to go on “one last ride” with Frank again, to go take down the bad guys. To be fair, Joe and Frank are the best parts of the show, but we have to make room for the elephant from The Room , I mean the elephant IN The Room…Tommy Wiseau, yes the “your tearing me apart Lisa!!!” guy. He shows up as a guy named Linton, who I guess is a bad guy…. but well…most of his scenes are solo monologues where Tommy is recreating what having a stroke looks like in slow motion. You know, being Tommy! I am guessing that Hatanaka just gives Tommy an outline, turns on the camera and says….”ACTION”, and what you get is the end result. That was funny in The Room, but it’s been almost 10 years since that one came out…this is getting painful to watch, and I am a guy that LOVES Miami Connection, in the way that film snobs gush on about Citizen Kane!
Let’s get back to Gregory Hatanaka’s “direction” for a moment. Did you ever blow your nose so hard, that everything starts spinning. Ever get something slipped into your drink at a bar? Ever been drunk, stoned, or all of the above? THAT…is how Hatanaka does action scenes. I kid you not, The action scenes in this movie all look like you just got shitfaced. Which is a bit of a bummer, because it looked like most of the actors were actually trying, at least with the action scenes. It would have been nice to see some of them. Especially now that Matt Keredas actually gets to do more Samurai stuff in the movie this time. Damn.
Speaking of missed opportunities, the most famous jaw in movie history, Robert Z’Dar died before this movie started filming, and technically died in the last movie, if we are even CONSIDERING CANON for Samurai fucking Cop. So the bad henchmen roll this time is played by Bai Ling, who still thinks she is a high profile babe from the 90’s. Nobody bothered to tell Bai Ling, that this was not a real Hollywood, picture, not even Tommy Wiseau. She’s still hot, but she frightens me. Pretty sure she would rip my balls off and dip them in BBQ sauce and eat them off of a party tray, and that’s only because craft services didn’t show up fast enough. She chews through scenery, like the way a Great White shark chews through a chum line in the middle of July. Is that a good thing? I don’t know, still trying to come down from those last few fight scenes…give me a break will ya?
The most impressive part of Samurai Cop 2 was the fact that they DID manage to get most of the actors and actresses back from the original movie’s line up. There is enough Botox and Bronzer in this movie to make Pam Anderson and Tommy Lee consider reconciling. Some of these people look beat to shit, and no that is not meant in a nice way. Gerald Okamura looks like his lines are operated by having somebody’s hand shoved up his ass like a weird sock puppet. Still, kudos to the Kickstarter who probably raised enough money to drive down to West Hollywood in a pick up truck full of dime bags to honk and get these lovely people to show up again. Of course that is basically the movie too. A virtual who’s who of cast members, and extras. Anyone who wasn’t alive or replaced with Bai Ling was filled with resident has beens such as Ralph Garman, and Joe Estevez, Joe fucking ESTEVEZ?! No offense, but I didn’t know this guy existed before this movie. At first I thought I was having a stroke, because he looks like Martin Sheen, and Danny Divito DeVito had an illegitimate love child raised by Abe Vigoda on a mushroom farm.
The version I watched I believe was censored for nudity, but doesn’t really matter, we have online hubs for that sort of thing. I came to see another Samurai Cop, but as I feared, you can’t recreate these moments. Happy accidents are not planned. They just happen, and you get something fun out of it. I can’t be completely cynical, if people paid money to get all of these people together in a movie, then it delivered that, even if…most of it is Tommy Wiseau having a stroke, or various Hollywood nobodies standing in front of a green screen shouting expansionary dialogue. The soundtrack was brought to you by “check my soundcloud bruh”, and “yo buy my mix tape brother” productions. It’s all over the place, punk, dubstep, trap music, pick whatever you like, and dilute it with enough water to where it tastes like La Croix, or whatever kind of piss water the hipsters are snorting now days.
Samurai Cop 2 is like staying at the bar way too long, and some schlubby Journey song starts playing, and there is an old drunk lady dancing by herself in the corner saying “this…this is my song….”, then pukes on the bar. Do you keep watching out of some sick morbid curiosity, or does that mean it is time to call an Uber? The director doesn’t know either. It’s just weird, and awkward, but not necessarily in a good way. I am giving this unhappy accident a 2 out of 5 cheese curds, just for being impressed that this one managed to cram as many “has been” entertainers into one movie as much as the next Sharknado. If you watch it, watch only for the morbid curiosity of what it would be like to get the cast of Samurai Cop, a direct to video movie made in 1991, into another movie. Otherwise, show yourself to the door, and try to step on anything sharp on your way out, if you know what I mean, and I think you do!
When it comes to milking 80’s nostalgia for dollars, Stranger Things is one of those few water cooler type conversations that is least likely to end in an argument. The fusion of Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, and John Carpenter style science fiction, and horror elements are probably some of the most fun most people have had since the original run of The X-Files. Slickly shot, and told from the perspective of a child, not too dissimilar from movies such as IT, Stand By Me, E.T., or even The Goonies, it’s commitment to being a throwback series with painstaking detail has won the hearts of critics an audiences, becoming more or less, a flagship series for Netflix’s streaming service.
It’s been a full year since we seen the kids of Hawkins Indiana. Last time it came out on Halloween. This time, we see the kids on summer break during 4th of July weekend. I have to commend the film makers for releasing these seasons around the time of year in which these episodes take place. However, it’s not all sunshine, Madonna and fireworks this time. Before I become a Buzz Killington, let me get the good stuff out of the way first.
The production budget on this season is phenomenal as it should be. Marketing for this one has been literally all over the place. All summer, every product you buy has been trying to sell Spider-Man or Stranger Things. Even going so far as to resurrect the infamous Coke II, as a product tie in. More on that later.
Special affects are incredible. Though used mostly by CG, images of a giant Mindflayer monster trying to cross into our world is a lovely throwback to the 1988 remake of The Blob. Also some of the attack scenes are very reminiscent of Aliens . The music is more of the same, that we have heard from previous seasons, and I don’t want to undercut how brilliant that John Carpenter-like score is, but it IS stuff we have heard before. The rest is, whatever 80’s song hasn’t been licensed for use in the series quite yet. One of the sets in this series is a large shopping complex called The Starcourt Mall. It is the first mall in Hawkins Indiana, and it’s brilliant. I am old enough to remember how much I miss that time in my life where everyone used to go to the mall, because it was just the thing to do. This show nailed that dynamic. Now days, if you even have a mall remotely near you, there might be a few stores still open, most of them are closed, and only open up once a year to sell you Halloween costumes, or wheels of cheese, and you might see a couple of old people walking around. This one is full of people, congregating, and socializing. I miss that period of my life, and even the show also reveals the unfortunate demise of mom and pop stores as a result, it still brought a warm feeling seeing a shopping mall full of people there for reasons other than forced Christmas shopping. Just sayin’…
The stand out performances in THIS particular season in my opinion are from Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson, and Joe Keery as Steve Harrington. Steve was more or less, the token bully, yet in an interesting enough twist, becomes a hero by the second season. In this season, the two are rather good friends who still like to take the occasional jab at each other, and they are absolutely wonderful. However, Dustin takes mostly a back seat, so that we can pair Steve up with a new character “Robin” played by Maya Hawk….and now we get into the rest of the review, which is not all bouquets and rainbows.
First off, let me be completely honest, Robin’s character sucks. Stop me if you have heard this one. She’s a band nerd, did good in school, and enjoys tormenting her co-worker Steve, while working at an ice creamery in the local mall called Scoops. She may have a crush on Steve. Steve might like her too, but is too cool to admit it to anyone, even Dustin, who keeps pressing the issue. Over 6 episodes of trying to force some kind of a relationship between these two. At a certain point, they are captured by Russians and injected a “truth serum” which makes both of them pretty high. Robin admits to Steve that she was pretty obsessed with him in high school. After several events, Steve admits to maybe having a crush and moving to the next level….it is revealed that Robin never had a crush on Steve, she was in love with a girl that sat behind him, that he paid no attention too. TADA, she’s a lesbian! All of that buildup…for THAT? At that point, any budding chemistry is gone, and she just becomes another boring character. And that brings me to my next point.
Much like the infamous Poochie episode from The Simpsons where a hip new dog is introduced to an aging Itchy and Scratchy show mid season, the character is reviled so much, that they literally remove the character from the film cell in the middle of an episode and tell the audiences that “he went back to his home planet.” Season 3 of Stranger Things suffers from way too many characters with not enough to do with all of them. Part of what made things like Stranger Things Season 1, Stand By Me, and IT all work, is the dynamic between all of the main players. A SMALL group of friends working together to try and solve a mystery, or defeat a mysterious enemy. In this season, couples are paired, groups are separated, the strong dynamic is gone, and the chemistry between these pairings most of the time simply does not work. I would have loved to seen more from Dustin and Steve, but instead they waste this stupid paring of Steve and Robin that goes absolutely no place. I am thinking Robin needs to go back to her home planet.
And speaking of annoying. Priah Ferguson returns as Erica Sinclair, a fan favorite from Season 2. In this season she has become a caricature. A meme. Her roll is to simply lip off to everyone who ever communicates with her about anything. To spout out jokes. And let’s talk about the jokes…
Season 1 had some jokes, and mostly they were put in for character development. Or to mildly ease the tension a bit to allow the audience time to breath in between intense scenes. In this season, it’s a regular joke-athon joke o’-rama! There are so many forced and unfunny jokes in this season that any tension that may have been built was virtually non existent as a result of if it. Nobody appreciates good humor more than I do, but in the right place, at the right time. This season borders on The Last Jedi levels of overused bad jokes. Now let’s talk about that plot, or lack thereof.
Thankfully Will Buyers is not just getting abducted again. This time the mind flayer has crossed into our world, and bad boy bully low rent poor decision making Rob Lowe Billy Hargrove is the first one to get possessed by the mind flayer after a botched attempt at an affair with a local desperate housewife. After Billy, several others in the town begin to get possessed as well, turning them into basically a hive mind version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers . This pseudo zombie possession thing is actually really interesting because at any point, these people are injured or hurt, the entire hive experiences the same wounds. Eventually when the body dies, they kind of turn into a REALLY AMAZING version of the 1988 Blob I mentioned before, bones parts, feet, all floating in the muck, yet not leaving so much as a trace of slime behind them. Not the worst set up for a story, however, we have to hurry up and cut back to the jokes marathon, and we have to show how Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer), and Jonathan Byers are working as interns for the local news paper which is run by misogynistic oafs who spend the day making jokes, and berating Nancy while she runs along and fetches them coffee. They even call her Nancy Drew. Nancy and Jonathan have about as much chemistry as a tube of toothpaste and a grapefruit put together. These two are a couple in real life…wow.
And while we are on boring couples, Let’s talk about Jim and Joyce (David Harbor, and Winona Ryder. David Harbor was the cool chief that figures out what’s going on in the first season, and now he has been reduced to a bumbling idiot. These two are just annoying as cat piss. They have no chemistry, unless you consider tossing oily rags into a fire as some sort of chemistry, it might sound hot on paper, but it just stinks. I swear I am getting back to the plot, but I have to tell it this way, because this is how the show makes you feel. So much fat is left on the table, that the story is forgotten…often. Too often to make room for more awkward jokes, and forced relationships. This is Stranger Singles.
Eventually Nancy Drew does figure out the plot that the mind flayer is back, but it’s the kids in the mall that “crack the code” which involves a large Russian military facility built underneath the Starcourt Mall which is there specifically to drill into the gate between Hawkins, and The Upside Down.
We sadly don’t get to see much of the upside down in this episode because we have to keep cutting back to relationships that will never pay off, and more damn jokes. The pacing is awful in this season, however at about episode 5….yes half way through the season, it does pick up, and it’s pretty exciting. Predictable as HELL, but entertaining enough. Our bad guys in this show are not good at all. For one thing, I liked the fact that we as the audience knew very little about the upside down, or the creatures that inhabit it. It adds to the aura of mystery. The term I believe is show don’t tell. This season makes the mistake of doing too much of both. The fact that the mind flayer possesses Billy, means that it can now communicate through Billy. Whenever Eleven does one of her mind tricks, Billy taunts Eleven, and reveals it’s plan is to take over the current world, and eliminate all of her friends by telling her that word for word. Great, now the mind flayer is a Bond villain….but hey…stay tuned for more jokes! Speaking of jokes, we get a new henchman which is a very poor attempt at making a large Russian hit-man look as much like Arnold’s 1984 Terminator as humanly possible right down to the finger less gloves, and the spike haircut. It could have been cool, but it comes off as too cheesy for even this show. Nods to 80’s nostalgia can be good, but effort has to be made.
Eventually the Scoops kids, Dustin, and Erica do finally break into the Russian base, while copying as many lines and scenes from Die Hard as humanly possible. Without having to type out the entire synopsis of the season, the idea is to shut down the drill that is opening the gate, and the mind flayer will be stopped. Unfortunately the final two who have the two keys to do this wind up being Winona Ryder, and David Arbor. David has a scuffle that winds up with him throwing Dollar General Terminator into the drill, and Ryder has to turn both keys, and somehow Arbor goes missing. The mind flayer is destroyed with fireworks, Eleven brings back Billy from the dead long enough to sacrifice himself to the mind flayer as the kids throw fireworks at it in the food court. Once the gate is closed, the mind flayer finally dies.
We cut to a really sad ending that involves news report showing scandal in Hawkins. Then we see Ryder packing up Will, Jonathan, and Eleven, and selling the house and moving away after the entire cast has long tear filled goodbyes. Then there is a post credits scene that takes us to a base in Moscow. We see some Russians dragging somebody out of a jail cell, but “not the American”, down to a basement where apparently they have a demi-gorgon locked up like an animal, and they feed the prisoner to it! Season 4!!! Is the American David Harbor? Well I would certainly hope so, because Hellboy was a flop that won’t be seeing any sequels any time soon!
It sounds like a rant, I mean it’s not the worst show I have seen, but it IS a bit of a disappointment. Especially coming off the heals of the two really great seasons! I realize that not all shows can have perfect seasons all of the time, but I feel like this one had too many check boxes to tick. Stretching of story, blatant product placement for Coke II, diversity, inclusion, representation became front and center, while the fun horror, sci-fi story took a back seat. It’s not that anyone has any objection to characters coming out as gay or straight, but for the first time, I feel like this show that has been so committed to being a throw back series, has broken character by forcing agendas that do nothing for the story. Robin wants to come out as a Lesbian, fine, but it really removed the dynamic between her and Steve which they spent almost an entire season building up. It is also implied that Will “doesn’t like girls”. Now this could mean that he just simply has not hit puberty yet, or that he might eventually be coming out of the closet. At either rate, these are NOT topics that would have been explored in any 1980s horror or sci-fi film that this show is trying to emulate. I realize that you are trying to attract a diverse audience, but you are breaking character in the process, and ruining your own show. I feel like this show was originally meant to conclude after 3 or 4 seasons, but since Netflix is having a really bad summer with the stock market, and the streaming war, the push to keep this show running as long as possible is hurting the product overall. If I had to slap a rating on this, I would say 2 out of 5 cheese curds. Not the worst thing I have seen, but season 4 really needs to be better than this one for this show to last. Unfortunately it’s going to take more than ticking check boxes to get me to come back for further seasons.
So we open up on a naked guy, and a naked girl in a bathtub, when two wise guys that looked like they walked out of Pulp Fiction walk in and blow them away. Cut away to an empty road, with two good looking ladies stranded by the side of a road wearing as little as legally possible. They are standing next to a car in the middle of the road that looks like it might be broke down, because the hood is up. A truck pulls over to help, and as the driver walks up to help, one of the ladies comes up from behind, and smacks him on the back of the head with a wrench. Two minutes later, the women are in the truck driving, and they see some dude on the side of the road. They pick up this dude, and one of them goes into the back of the truck for a little bit of this, and little bit of that. The truck pulls up to “Anna’s Place”, where we immediately cut to Anna Lieux Dressler talking on the phone like an operator, while she happens to spy on several women doing the hokey pokey with several other patrons. All of this is done while whimsical banjo music is playing, AND THIS IS JUST THE FIRST FIVE MINUTES OF THE MOVIE!!!
I have to confess, I figured I was in for a treat, I made a run to my home concession stand for popcorn, this aught to be a HOOT! However… The problem with this movie, is that it can neither find a tone, nor decide what it wants to be.
The plot is basically that Anna runs a brothel/truck chop shop. A bunch of mafia guys from “the east” want to take over the operation. Also, there is a subplot of her daughter Rose (Claudia Jennings), is losing interest in the truck stop, and wants to get away from her controlling mother.
In any tangible universe, that is actually not the worst plot to a movie. In fact with the right director, it could be pretty bad ass. The problem is that this movie is directed by Mark Lester, the same genius who made Commando, Firestarter, Roller Boogie, and Class of 1999, which is why I wanted to watch it in the first place. Also with a poster and a title like that…how about boobs? If we are following Joe Bob Briggs style drive in totals, give us the boobs. There are plenty of boobs. In fact the plot and story occasionally peeks out around the boobs to remind you that you are watching a movie that is trying to tell a story.
With movies like this, I would be OK with the boobs for chuckles gag while the banjo music constantly reminds us that this movie is about REDNECKS, in case you might be too stupid to remember. But this movie’s worst sin is the inability to pick a tone. If it was supposed to be an action movie, let’s commit to that. If it is supposed to be high drama, let’s do that. If this is supposed to be a slapstick comedy with boobs and banjo music, then commit to that. Trying to blend all of them together makes any of the other genres not work. Like one minute I am supposed to laugh while a sheriff is chasing a half naked woman half his age out into the parking lot wearing nothing but his tighty whiteys and a cowboy hat, and the next minute some lady is getting shot through the chest. It’s too much excess, and not enough glue to make any of it work at all. At this point the film makes you feel guilty for laughing at any of that stuff earlier, and who needs a movie called Truck Stop Women to make you feel bad about yourself?! Fuck you movie!
It’s not to say the movie is complete loss. There are some moments of half way competent acting. Some not so much. The two “wise guys” are about as Italian as Mario and Luigi. The overall story is not the worst thing I have ever heard, but again…pick a tone movie! It’s basically Sons of Anarchy meets Meatballs, meets Smokey and the Bandit. Yes all of those movies are fun, but not meant to be mixed together. Kind of like Spaghetti, Ice Cream, and Tuna salad, might be great, but not mixed together and served to you in a paper bowl at room temperature. Yes this one is a hot mess. I am giving it 2 out of 5 cheese curds. Barely worth your time. Move along cowboys. Ten Four?
Seeing Godzilla King of the monsters split my personality in two. Not because of the confusing name. (Godzilla originally released as ゴジラ Gojira in Japan, in 1954, and then re-edited with Raymond Burr as master of exposition for America and released as Godzilla: King of the Monsters, even though it has only one monster.) No, because the five year old me, wants to say OMG the monsters are so cool, and then Godzilla was like RAAAARRRRRR, and Monster Zero, was like BLAM!!! and then…omg it was amazing!!! BEST MOVIE EVER! Then the adult in me is like, yeah it was fun…but THINGS!
Those things being the script is running on some serious first draft type fumes. Literally anything to get the monsters together. The impressive cast which boasts personal favorites such as Ken Wantanabe, Sally Hawkins, Bradley Whitford, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and Kyle Chandler, despite the scripts best efforts to give them something desperately to do, are there to basically shout exposition to the audience. It might have been better off to just have an announcer with a famous gravelly voice just say: “ROUND 1, LET THEM FIGHT”, but you get the idea. Good actors, bad script. Script is there only because something has to get these monsters fighting.
In regards to the monsters, I think the movie does a good job respecting these creatures. When they show up, it’s a huge deal, and everyone is excited. It’s basically all star wrestling with kaiju, but this movie refers to them as titans which works, because it ties nicely back to several versions of ancient folklore which the movie goes to great lengths to explain.
The best parts are when these creatures do show up, and the special effects ARE gorgeous, but I do feel like I could have used some more daytime fights, because Kong: Skull Island did those much better. Speaking of Skull Island, did you know we are three films into an expanded universe now? That’s right, there multiple call backs to Monarch which is the bad good guys from Skull Island, depending on how you look at an organization that seems to have deep pockets and does nothing more than build expensive facilities around monsters just waiting for them to wake up and destroy everything. And that brings me to my first minor gripe. All bs aside, where do these funds come from? I realize there is suspension of disbelief around a movie with giant monsters using Washington D.C. as a giant Octagon, but still…this much money could have paid for some artificial titans to be built, oh wait that is the plot for Pacific Rim…my bad. Nevermind.
The script is basically, Vera Farmiga, and Kyle Chandler lost a kid in 2014, when Godzilla beat up whats his face in the last movie. They split up. Kyle takes pictures of tigers in the wild, and Vera Farmiga works for Monarch. She basically makes fancy duck calls, that wake up ancient sleeping lizards. No way that will ever go wrong! Well, all of them get woke up at one point, and the world is turned into chaos faster than you can say congress!
That is where the fun begins! I would not classify this one as disaster porn, the world mostly becomes a giant backdrop for these monsters to square off. While I would have prefered a little less rain and snow, the monster fights were fun. A true summer popcorn flick. At no point do you ever have to think too much, but I would not classify it as insulting either.
One thing that always drives me nuts in most monster movies, and if you have ever seen even one Asylum movie, you will get this reference. It is a trope that I have not yet named, where most of the cast carries the movie by shouting exposition to a computer monitor of some sort, so that the audience knows why the monsters are doing stuff. This movie does SOME of that, but I will give it a partial credit for at least pretending to give the cast something to do from time to time, even if it comes off as a bit weak. Also, if you liked the scale from the Gareth Edwards 2014 film, I think they played off of that nicely with this one as well.
I did stay for the post credit extras. While there ARE several mentions of Kong in the movie, there was no big teaser for Godzilla VS Kong. I won’t spoil the post credit scene, but I will say that if you are doing the post movie pee pee dance like I was, you can probably skip it, and not have to worry.
I grade everything on the cheese curd scale, so I have to remove two points, one for a really lame script, and another for having some really lackluster acting. I found it nearly impossible to really care about any of these characters or ever even feel like any of them were in any real kind of danger even when they were maybe less than a foot away from giant titans and what not. I am giving it a 3 out of 5 cheese curds. I think it is worth a look. If you liked Kong: Skull Island or you are sucker for monsters movies like I am, I think you will be entertained. However if that movie annoyed you, this probably won’t win you over either. Minor spoiler, don’t expect the gender of Godzilla to be explained. Also, Millie Bobby Brown does not beat up Whitney Houston, or get her hooked on Crack.
I don’t usually do spoilers, and I think I can pull this off without spoilers. Why do people try aggressively to spoil this movie? I am not sure that it is intentional. This is a movie that is meant to be a shared experience. The culmination of 11 years, and 22 films worth of set up. It is about resolutions, and the water cooler talk of the moment is either Game of Thrones, or Avengers Endgame. To discuss said resolutions would in fact spoil things. At this point at least 3 billion dollars worth of people have seen it, but I refuse to break tradition. A good review CAN be presented without spoilers. To cover virtually any details of the movie’s three-hour run time would in fact spoil the hell out of this movie, so unfortunately this review will have to be shorter than normal.
Avenger’s Endgame picks up 23 days after Avengers Infinity War, where Thanos achieved his goal of getting all of the Infinity Stones, and snapping away half of the population in the universe. A large chunk of this is dedicated to the ones who were NOT snapped out of existence dealing with the aftermath. Character developement has always been a strong point of most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. Most comic book movies, are only as strong as your villain, but somehow the MCU managed to break that curse, but making these super heroes both relatable and believable. By design it has been a fun journey to grow and advance with these characters in their respective movies throughout the last decade. The biggest star of THIS movie is probably Nebula played by Karen Gillan, who was first introduced to us as a villain from Guardians of the Galaxy. We have gradually spent time throughout these movies developing this character, but this time she gets more screen time than before. Of course Rocket Racoon voiced by Bradley Cooper, is still the scene stealer and of all the characters in this universe he bounces off everyone’s lines flawlessly.
I am thankful to say that I rarely felt this movie’s three-hour runtime. It was never boring. I would be lying if I said I was not genuinely entertained. There was a great deal of humor in this movie. Surprisingly not as dour and depressing as the last movie. There were still a couple of minor gripes I would have to address, because while they were not enough to ruin the movie, they were enough for me to remove a couple of points from having a perfect score. One of them involves a character that kind of shows up, and then disappears. There are actually a few scenes where characters show up and disappear that may or may not have been the result of simply having a movie with this many characters that continuity becomes a villain itself. My other gripe, is that there are some not so subtle moments in the movie that tease some possible future instalments of this franchise, that may not sit well with all fans. There is a glaringly forced scene involving multiple female characters that looks cool, but doesn’t make much sense within the scene itself, if for nothing else than to virtue signal that there are women in the MCU, as if anyone actually needed to be reminded. The scene really sends me mixed messages, but still not enough to ruin the experience for me.
As far as the resolutions that I refuse to speak of? I would say that most fans will be satisfied with how the story wraps. The same way that most of us felt when we first saw Return of the Jedi. Had that been the last Star Wars film, we would have been completely satisfied. I feel the same about this movie. I am completely satisfied with the ending. I may even buy a copy of this one at some point. I would recommend seeing it. I am giving this one a 3 out of 5 cheese curds. I will be posting a spoiler review on my YouTube channel on Monday: 5/6/19.
When I say wasted opportunities I can think of a lot of things, like NWA, never getting back together before Easy E died. The Beatles not getting back together before John Lennon died. When it comes to the latest reboot of Hellboy, watching David Harbour in the title role, is a bit like going to a Motley Crue concert with John Corabi as the lead singer. Sure, he can get the job done perfectly fine, but nobody cares.
I was one of those angry folks who were shouting to heavens when Guillermo del Toro’s third movie was dumped for this one. Since I found that the other Hellboy movies were a lot of fun, and that the second trailer actually looked pretty good, I decided to give this a fair shake anyway. I left all of my reservations at the front door. I have to say though, that it IS impossible to not make comparisons. For one, David Harbor’s Hellboy looks like HB has been dancing with Mr. Brownstone on the 6th day, of a 7 day binge. Perlman had the right face that fit the look. David Harbour just looks like he’s really uncomfortable under a ton of makeup and latex. Again, this is a reboot here, for a movie that is not really all that old. It is imposible not to have these expectations. Also, unlike the first one, there is almost no urgency in trying to hide HB from the world. He just kind of walks around on the crime scene, and nobody seems to give less of a fuck? You know who else probably gives less of a fuck? Oscar Winner Gillermo del Toro! Because instead of working on Hellboy 3, he went and made Shape of Water, oscar winner for best picture of 2017. Suck on that Lionsgate!
I have to admit that the first Hellboy trailer was really rough. I was not convinced at all. The second trailer, is what got me to go buy a ticket today and sit through this. Sadly though, all of the best bits were in fact in that trailer, and some of those scenes are about as long as they are in the trailer too. The rest of the budget was spent on those dope movie posters, because it sure wasn’t spent on this script ooo boy…I mean Hellboy. This is an exposition nightmare.
To make this review make more sense, I have to take you back to a time about 15 years ago, when comic book movies were not the norm. Movies had to be sold as movies first. Comics were just a rough outline. Most importantly, you never had to read the comics to understand what was going on in the movie. The original Hellboy had a simple story. Crazy, but simple. The rest of the movie was spent on trying to sell the audience into this strange world that fights monsters with more monsters. Also, it had to make you appreciate the characters, so that when shit happens, you actually care about your characters. This movie could have done that, but the script was so bad, that literally everyone in this movie has to take a back seat to it. I suppose it depends too much on those who have read the Mike Mignola comic books, but nobody reads comic books, and don’t give me any crap about needing to read the comics before I watch this movie. I live in a world where I just watched Hellboy, in a same theater that is showing Captain Marvel, and Shazam, less than two weeks before Avenger’s End Game comes out. I guarantee that every time a bell rings, a comic book store has closed down in your community so nobody else is reading these things either. Get off my lawn with that trash!
The opening sets the tone for the entire movie. Exposition dumb, action, exposition dump, action, over and over to the point where it gets so monotonous that you want to smash your face into your popcorn to make the pain stop. It’s that bad. This happens, and then we go here. This happened, and then we go there. This will happen in London, because TAX BREAKS!!! Seriously. Every character we ever meet in this movie has a convoluted back story to the point to where you almost want to get up and say “WHO FREAKING CARES?!!!”, because the ALL of the characters in this movie except for maybe Professor Broom, and HB are totally forgettable. I don’t even remember the names of them as I am typing this. I could go to IMDB and look, but I would be cheating myself and this review at the same time. And the worst part about that is that there are moments of greatness here. For example, Ian McShae, and David Harbour have a really good chemistry that I would have liked to have seen explored, but it got in the way of the obnoxious flash backs and exposition dumps. It made me sad, and gave me a headache.
The special effects looked pretty good. There were some decent fights between HB and some large monsters, but it would have been nice to have tried to set up these characters better before jumping into the fight. Or maybe tone down that awful script by a few thousand paragraphs or so.
One of the things I was excited about was the appearance of Milla Jovavich, and sadly she is one of the worst villains I have ever seen. Literally every sentence that comes out of her mouth feels like you cut and pasted dialogue from every mustache twirling fucktard villain in every single super hero comic book nonsense movie you have ever seen. Seriously, when you see this, make a drinking game, and take a shot every time Milla says something that you have heard in any other movie.
And the biggest punch in the balls this movie has, would be the ending. The original Hellboy movie had a fake out ending, where you think it’s all over, and then the shit really hits the fan. This movie does quite the opposite. The movie just kind of ends, and then they are doing something else that doesn’t really have anything else to do with the movie at all. Who ever assembled the footage of this movie was either drunk, or was just as lost as I was over this awful script. Of course that doesn’t stop them from trying to eek out two post credit scenes. Yep…setting up future instalments, and I don’t care. I am giving this one 2 out of 5 cheese curds. Probably won’t ever watch this ever again. I am not saying this is the worst movie ever, but it would be better if you just waited for a rental on this one. Seeing what I have seen today, I would have been better off seeing the third and final installment of the Hellboy franchise, but I feel this movie has killed both a chance for a sequel to THIS crap, AND del Toro’s sequel as well. Thanks Lionsgate! Why did you have to go and do my boys dirty like that? Why?
One thing for certain for anyone who has ever spent any certain length of time in bands, is that bands suck. The guitar player is an alcoholic and can’t stand up long enough to practice, but when he’s sober he can play a melody that would open the Heavens, or the gates of Hell…pick one. The singer is pretty cool, but you are pretty sure he has his eye on your woman. The bass player just wants everybody to get along and play a few decent gigs before his back gives out. Oh, and all of them have stories of when they were better… Yeah I was in a band like that, until I wasn’t. I know this routine. Somebody in the band is always an asshole, and the thing about assholes is everybody has one, or maybe ALL of them are assholes? Most of them come and go, or they just kind of gradually fall out of touch, and temporarily bleed into other bands. Very few go the distance, and live to tell stories about it. For the four assholes that formed Motley Crue, they didn’t just go the distance, they did laps around the solar system, lived on their own terms, and lived long enough to tell stories about it.
I grew up around the middle of Motley Crue’s career. Doctor Feelgood was the album I had. Everyone I knew had a copy. For those first few years of high school, Hair Metal WAS the pop scene unless you listened to R&B or hip hop. It was all about the excess. Stories of hotel parties, cocaine filled limo rides, groupies, fast cars, and women. Most of these guys slept on a pile of money, and snorted the rest. It would seem forever until three assholes from Seattle put an end to that almost overnight, and most people were about as eager to burn those Motley Crue records, as fast as the night that disco died.
For those years of the late 80s and early 90s, we had metal magazines, and swapped exaggerated stories of excess, and wild parties. This Netflix biopic nails THAT aspect of the hard rock scene that most of us pondered over. What surprises me about this movie is exactly how funny it really is…until it isn’t.
“What surprises me about this movie is exactly how funny it really is…until it isn’t.”
The Dirt is set up on a four-way narration style level of Nikki Six (Douglass Booth), Vince Neil (Daniel Webber), Mick Mars (Iwan Rheon), and Tommy Lee (Colson Baker AKA Machine Gun Kelly) all telling different parts of the story from different perspectives. Director Jeff Tramaine does a nice job of showing these actors together with chemistry. I would say this movie kind of reminds me of The Wolf of Wall Street, where the director spares no details when showing exactly how far down the rabbit hole of Sodom and Gomorrah these four assholes are willing to go, and it works so well! It is hard to pinpoint the EXACT comic relief, but I would have to give it to Iwan Rheon as Mick Mars, who is the oldest member of the band, and has simply no time for shenanigans, he just wants to be in a band that is going to be the most successful. Most of the time he just comes off as the grumpy bear of the band who scoffs occasionally when the Crue takes turns pissing in the swimming pool. Literally pissing….in the pool, and I refuse to spoil some of the cameos here, so I will just leave you with that mental image. Mick Mars is my spirit animal in this band. Old, and cynical as Fuck. Really though, all of these guys get a chance to shine, but I think the strongest performances were from Baker and Kelly.
It is really damn hard not to laugh at these guys running naked down the hallways of motels and setting each other’s rooms on fire just for the sake of being goofs. This is where the movie hits the strongest. The rest of the movie is your typical by the numbers rags to riches biopic, about how another band went from zeroes to heroes over a span of just a few albums.
The movie kind of takes a much darker tone by that third act, when all of the excess catches up with the Crue, and life becomes reality. Drugs, jail, and domestic disputes end those parties quick. The film gets somewhat confusing about midway through the third act, when things kind happen, and then don’t really happen. I can’t do THAT much fact checking….like I said, we had magazines and MTV back in the day, all we really knew, is what we heard in interviews, and read in the damn metal mags. Pretty sanitary stuff. I was surprised that the band was actually sober when they did Dr. Feelgood. That was the album I had. I had assumed that was when they were all at their worse. See how much I know? I mean at one point, these bands were kind of started to sound alike, but at least Motley Crue was one of the faster bands, and definitely too raw for the mainstream. I am sure the movie took some liberties, but after all this is a biopic about one of America’s wildest bands, and biopics are the flavor of the month at the moment. Although unlike Bohemian Rhapsody, you MIGHT not want to watch this one with your parents. Not even minutes into this movie, a girl is ejaculating on the carpet at a party. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it fits in with this band’s roller coaster lifestyle.
I cannot complain. I found it really damn hard not to enjoy this film for what it is. A biopic about a Crue that partied hard, rocked hard, lived excess, and overcame pretty much every shitty thing that came their way. What I respect about this movie, is that even after all these jerks did to each other, and everyone else, the movie still finds time to drop a message about being friends and staying together. It leaves you with just the right amounts of warm and fuzzy to make you stay for the damn credits where they show the faces of the actors next to the actual Crue. Unfortunately I am old enough to remember the actual Crue. This movie made me go dust off my Motley Crue records…oh what you thought I burned them? 5 out of 5 cheese curds. Go check this one out on Netflix!
In 1977, a film was released that would alter my universe irrevocably. Sorry to disappoint, but it is not the one of which you are thinking, the one involving George Lucas. In the furor that followed the release of that film, another, lesser-known movie was released to be overshadowed by the special effects extravaganza.
Ralph Bakshi, a pioneer in the field of animation, wanted to do a fairy tale, but one with American attitude and sensibilities. His project, ‘Wizards’, is a classic story of good versus evil and brother against brother. As the opening tells us, it is, “An illuminating history bearing on the everlasting struggle for world supremacy fought between the powers of technology and magic.”
I saw it in the AAFES theatre in Landstuhl, Germany in 1978. My mind was blown.
Before I proceed, I want to thank Mr. Ralph Bakshi and his collaborators in this and other films. Mr. Bakshi, you introduced to me a new realm of what could be done with fantasy, with animation, and with film. Over the course of the next 80 minutes, I experienced thousands of years of a new world, with amazing characters, incredible art, and a whole lot of laughs. My universe was widened, and though I was ill-prepared, I embraced that widening and have loved fantasy ever since.
Mike Ploog’s whimsical artwork supports a narration that gives us the setting, and it returns at points in the film. It is both evocative and captivating. Plus, using it saved a fortune on the budget – less to animate. Ian Miller’s rough sketches are used as compelling backgrounds; the images are astounding.
The premise is fairly simple: Nuclear holocaust begets a world of magic and radioactive wastes. Elves and fairies are reborn into our altered world, joining the mutated survivors of the war. Technology is eschewed by the fey as evil, and magic embraced. “The only true technology is magic,” says a wise elf.
Into this world are born the twin sons of the faerie queen. Good and evil, fey and mutant, they are the wizards of the title. Their conflict sets the stage for the movie: technological wonder weapon vs. magic. In the interest of preserving the details, I will leave the rest for you to discover.
Ralph Bakshi was a pioneer in the use of rotoscoping, that is, animating over film of live actors and animals. In ‘Wizards’, he used this technique extensively. I recognized several films, including ‘Zulu’, ‘El Cid’, and ‘Battle of the Bulge’. Additionally, archival footage from the second world war is employed as well. The image of mutants flying Messerschmitt Me-109s and Junkers Ju-87 Stukas has never left me.
From a technical standpoint, it is not a great film. Much of it consists of illustrations with narration. The animation is fair, aided by liberal use of rotoscoping. I thought I had imagined it as a child, but throughout the movie, one can see the shadow of the camera in the centre of the shot. As an adult, I wonder if this was a mistake, or if it was intentional on Bakshi’s part. If you watch the film, you will learn why.
Compared to other animation of the day (Disney’s The Rescuers, Rankin/Bass’ The Hobbit, and Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown all came out that year), Wizards looks clunky. The use of illustrations in many places, rather than animation, might detract from the viewing pleasure for some.
Those other movies might have more animation, possibly better animation, but none are trying to squeeze into 80 minutes, the sheer magnitude of the world being created. None has the pop-culture references, either. Look for the CBS and Coca-Cola logos in the background.
To this day, I love Wizards. It is my favourite Bakshi movie. It remains my favourite fantasy movie (and post-apocalyptic movie), even in this age of Peter Jackson and the 24 hours of Tolkien that are his films. Lavish, spectacular, perhaps, but they lack the rough charm of Wizards, to say nothing of scantily clad faerie maidens, resurrected mutant assassins, and our antagonist, Blackwolf, with the partially exposed skeletal structure (words cannot do justice to the sheer, unrelenting neato-ness!).
For years, I thought I had imagined it all. We moved back to the States, and no one, not one person I spoke with, had ever heard of this film. Then, it appeared on the midnight movie circuit (Thank you, Louisiana 1-2-3!), and I managed to pirate a copy off of HBO, the one time they deigned to show it. I kept that video for two decades, watching it sober and, shall we say, psychedelically enhanced, until the DVD came along.
Wizards is unadulterated brilliance, a brilliant gem lost in the dust of the monster Lucas created, and, speaking for myself, it is epitome of a Lost Flick.