Tag Archives: designated girl fight

Falcon Rising (2014)

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“He swore to protect by any means necessary.”

Directed by Barbarash
Starring Michael Jai White, Neal McDonough, Laila Ali

Marine with PTSD John Chapman (White) is chided by his sister Cindy (Ali) for cutting his meds, then called to Rio by an old buddy now in the diplomatic service (McDonough) after Cindy is beaten and left for dead in the favela where she was doing humanitarian work. Chapman flies down to Rio to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and his bubble gum is confiscated on the flight.

Continue reading Falcon Rising (2014)

The Summer of Lovecraft: Re-Animator (1985)

reanimator1

“Herbert West has a good head on his shoulders… and another one on his desk.”

Directed by Stuart Gordon
Starring Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton, David Gale and Jeffrey Combs

The Story

Herbert West – Reanimator is the account of an unnamed narrator and his friendship with the eponymous West, a fellow medical student and later physician who led the pair’s exploration of the mechanisms of the human body and how they might be reanimated after death. From medical school to practice to service in the Great War, a series of episodes describe the progress of West’s work on his reanimating serum, ending each time in a distinctly qualified success. Finally, the victims of his work come for him, or the narrator finally cracks. One of the two.

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Continue reading The Summer of Lovecraft: Re-Animator (1985)

Jurassic World (2015)

This poster is bullshit, as like any live attraction park, Jurassic World doesn't feed its exhibits live prey in front of the tourists. Well, not on purpose.
This poster is bullshit, as like any live attraction park, Jurassic World doesn’t feed its exhibits live prey in front of the tourists. Well, not on purpose.

“The Park is Open”

Directed by Colin Trevorrow
Starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio, Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins

Zach (Robinson) and Gray (Simpkins) Mitchell are sent by their parents to visit Jurassic World, the fully functioning dinosaur theme park on Isla Nublar, to distract them from their parents’ divorce. Their aunt Claire Dearing (Howard? Dallas Howard?) is the career-oriented manager of Jurassic World, juggling the titanic egos of InGen rep Hoskins (D’Onofrio), CEO Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), chief geneticist Henry Wu (BD Wong), and raptor wrangler Owen Grady (Pratt) and the expectations of sponsors and holiday makers who want bigger and badder thrills.

Enter Indominus Rex.

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The Summer of Lovecraft: The Dunwich Horror (2009)

Even most SyFy original movies have posters mocked up for them. Even Dragon Wasps.
Even most SyFy original movies have posters mocked up for them. Even Dragon Wasps.

“The devil’s spawn is about to open the gates to hell!”

Directed by Leigh Scott
Starring Dean Stockwell, Jeffrey Combs, Griff Furst and Sarah Leaving

The Story

Wilbur Whatley is the weird one in a family including a mad grandfather and an albino mother, a fast-growing freak who frightens animals and children with his odd smell. He studies sorcery with his grandpa and continually buys cattle for a herd that never increases.  He and his grandfather carry out constant conversion of the farmhouse in order to fit some thing connected to Wilbur’s mysterious father, named only as ‘Yog-Sothoth’. Grandfather and daughter disappear or die, and Wilbur is killed by dogs trying to steal an original Latin Necronomicon from Miskatonic University. When the thing in the house breaks loose, Miskatonic academics Henry Armitage, Warren Rice and Francis Morgan confront and destroy it. Wilbur is revealed to have been not quite human, and the thing to have been his twin, who looked more like the father.

The Film

Wilbur Whatley (Combs) is a serial killer, abducting tourists to feed to his monstrous brother (this fact is dropped in about a third of the way through the movie and never questioned.) Henry Armitage (erstwhile Whatley Stockwell) and his assistant, Fay Morgan (Leaving), are monster hunters and freelance exorcists.

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Continue reading The Summer of Lovecraft: The Dunwich Horror (2009)

Bounty Killer (2013)

Despite
Despite the 2042 dateline on that poster, the film was originally set in 1997, inspired by a 70s grindhouse tagline.

“If the suit fits… waste it!”

Directed by Henry Saine
Starring Christian Pitre, Matthew Marsden, Kristanna Loken and Barak Hardley

After rampant corporations went to war with world’s governments in a drive for total deregulation, the shattered remnants of civilisation survive under the benevolent rule of the Council of Nine, who stand for hope, redemption, and the violent execution of white-collar criminals by flamboyant celebrity bounty killers.

Continue reading Bounty Killer (2013)

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

MARS: Maintaining a fine tradition of boob armour since 1641
MARS: Maintaining a fine tradition of boob armour since 1641

“Evil Never Looked So Good*”

Directed by Stephen Sommers
Starring Channing Tatum, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lee Byung-hun, Sienna Miller, Rachel Nichols, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce and Dennis Quaid

When a new generation of nano-machine warheads falls into the hands of a new and non-specific terrorist organisation, it falls to the world’s premier multinational military taskforce, codenamed G.I. Joe, to stop them.

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Bulletproof Monk (2003)

They love this image of Chow Yun-Fat with the guns, even though his character is a Buddhist and only fires two shots in a single scene of the movie. It's Chow Yun-Fat with guns, right!
They love this image of Chow Yun-Fat with the guns, even though his character is a Buddhist and only fires two shots in a single scene of the movie. It’s Chow Yun-Fat with guns, right!

“A Power Beyond Measure Requires a Protector Without Equal”

Directed by Paul Hunter
Starring Chow Yun-Fat, Seann William Scott, Jaime King, Karel Rodan and Victoria Smurfitt

A scroll containing the power to reshape the world is protected by a wandering and unaging Monk (Yun-Fat) until such time as humanity is enlightened enough to read it. After sixty years, the Monk is seeking for a successor, but he is relentlessly pursued by Strucker (Rodan) a Nazi hungry for that absolute power.

Continue reading Bulletproof Monk (2003)

Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Conan
The last hurrah of the Lord of the Rings ‘character stack’ poster.

“Enter an Age Undreamed Of”

Directed by Marcus Nispel
Starring Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang and Rose McGowan

Between the time when the oceans drank Atlantis, and the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of. Onto this came Conan, the Cimmerian, and did some stuff.

Continue reading Conan the Barbarian (2011)

The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior (2008)

Scorpion King
Starring a professional wrestler, some heaving bosoms, and this guy

See how the legend of The Scorpion King began!

Directed by Russell Mulcahy
Starring Michael Copon and Randy Couture

Mathayus (Copon) joins the elite Black Scorpions regiment in order to take revenge against his father’s murderer, Sargon (Couture), only to discover that Sargon is now King of Akkad and master of the Scorpions, as well as a nigh-invulnerable black magician. Accompanied by his childhood friend Layla and Greek poet Aristophanes (who makes a point of being one Aristophanes and not the other, but is actually neither of the notable Aristophanes), he journeys to the (archaic Greek) underworld, to claim the (late Greek) Sword of Damocles from the (Mesopotamian) Goddess of suicidal necklines, Astarte.

What’s wrong with it?

This film is the prequel to The Scorpion King, which is itself a prequel to The Mummy Returns, as a result of which any character development is beyond pointless. We know that the love interest (and every other Akkadian) is dead by the next film chronologically, and that Mathayas will a) live and b) become a mighty lone wolf warrior, en route to becoming the monstrous, soulless antagonist of the second Mummy film.

Mathyas is, frankly, a dull character; probably the dullest here, although the love interest is a close second. Randy Couture is a massive physical presence, but lacks the charisma for true menace, and ultimately ends up turning into a giant invisible scorpion to save on the effects budget, meaning that most of the climactic battle involves walls exploding next to Mathyas’ head. Meanwhile, Layla and speaks-no-Akkadian sidekick Fong are trying to prevent the immolation of the city’s population by leveling the dumbest countermeasures imaginable against the dumbest evil scheme imaginable (lamp oil doesn’t burn like that, but if it did then you wouldn’t stop it by trying to cut the flame off at the source).

The film is also full of extraneous and disposable characters, many without names, including the Greek mercenaries who are basically along to show how the Underworld works.

The script seems to forget what it’s about halfway through. Having become a warrior to seek vengeance against Sargon, Mathyas is then asked to kill his brother. He rescues him instead, only for the brother to be killed in the escape, and apparently this ‘brands revenge on his heart’. What was the death of his father? A henna tattoo of grudgeiness?

Astarte’s outfits are deeply ridiculous, even for an Akkadian sex goddess.

The Sword of Damocles is immensely fake-looking.

What’s right with it?

The inclusion of sort-of-a-real-person Aristophanes as the comedy relief is… bizarre, but the character is kind of fun. His interaction with Fong is one of the highlights.

How bad is it really?

Basically it’s like many lacklustre action films, in that its flaw is that it is dull where it ought to be exciting.

Best bit (if such there is)?

Standing in the Underworld, surrounded by magical thorns, one of the Greek mercenaries demands: “What fresh hell is this?” Apparently he was a Dorothy Parker fan.

What’s up with…?

  • The Dorothy Parker quote?
  • The absurd cheapness of the MacGuffin prop?
  • The designated chick fight? Layla gets to fight Astarte at one point, for which purpose the goddess changes from her slinky gown with its groin-scraping decolletage for the more practical combat option of a corset.

Ratings

Production values – For the most part, the film works within its budget and looks pretty good, and I was watching in HD. Unfortunately, the invisible scorpion is a let down, only justified by how bad it looks when it’s covered in oil to make it visible. 12
Dialogue and performances –  There’s very little life in the script, and what there is is largely killed by the leads. Aristophanes gets a few good bits, but nothing much to write home about. 14
Plot and execution – The film stumbles through its plot, sending Mathyas first to Egypt for a call-back to the earlier films, but then to Crete for a randomly abused legendary metaphor. Astarte is only thrown in in the final third, and Ari’s face-heel-face turn is barely signposted. 15
Randomness – The Sword of Damocles? Astarte? Well, actually, Astarte makes sense for Akkadia, and is only a head scratcher because of the Greek sword. 13
Waste of potential – As microbudgetted prequels of prequels of sequels go, this isn’t bad. 4

Overall 58%

From the Archive – The Mummy Returns (2001)

Mummy

“The most powerful force on earth is about to be unleashed by the two people who should know better.”

Directed by Stephen Sommers
Starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Oded Fehr, Patricia Velasquez and The Rock

In the dim and distant past, a mighty warrior named the Scorpion King (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) sells his soul to the god Anubis (in this film, very much playing the part of Satan), and leads an army of jackal-warriors to conquer the known world.

Back in the now, Rick and Evie O’Connell recover the Bracelet of Anubis, which affixes itself to their son, Alex (Freddie Boath), and grants him a vision to lead him to the secret Oasis of Am-Sher where the Scorpion King and his treasure lie. They are attacked by forces working for the evil Curator of the British Museum (Alun Armstrong) and the reincarnation of Imhotep’s (Vosloo) lost love, Ankh-su-namun (Velasquez), who seek to resurrect the Mummy so that he can go to the Oasis, defeat the Scorpion King, gain command of Anubis’ army and destroy the world.

Abducting the boy, Imhotep’s forces set out, pursued by the O’Connells, Evie’s still-dissolute brother, Jonathon (Hannah), the Medjay warrior – Fun Facts to Know and Tell: Many people watching the original heard ‘magi’, to the point that the Danish subtitles translate it as ‘wise men’ – Ardeth Bey (Fehr, whose character was only named in the credits of the first movie), and Rick’s former partner, Izzy, an aviator with a rocket-powered dirigible. Bey claims that a mysterious Masonic tattoo – which Egypt nut Evie has never apparently made anything of – on Rick’s wrist marks him as a Medjay; a holy warrior against darkness. The heroes track the bad guys to the Oasis, where Evie is killed and resurrected, so that she can battle Ankh-su-namun while her husband goes toe-to-toe first with Imhotep, then the Scorpion King – a big, bad CGI – and Bey and his fellow Medjay battle the ‘only kill them if you cut their heads off’ Anubis warriors. The heroes win, the Scorpion King and the Anubis warriors are dragged back to hell, and Izzy rescues the rest from the collapsing Oasis.

What’s wrong with it?

1999’s The Mummy was a superbly-crafted piece of action-adventure fluff, but despite reassembling the same cast and crew for the sequel, Stephen Sommers fails to recapture the spirit of the original. The plot winds with excessive complexity for its depth, and a lot of the best set-pieces are just recreations of scenes from the original, like the killer wave that is just a damp version of The Mummy’s sand wall. The pygmy mummies in the hidden Oasis are just plain random, and smell like velociraptors as they pursue hapless idiots through the long grass. There’s also just a whole bunch of crap that one feels might have come up during the course of the first movie.

The end credits kind of sum up the film’s failings. Where The Mummy closed with a gentle, dignified tune, and the credits fading in and out on ancient walls, the sequel ended with a mess of flashing screens and over-zealous music. Also, Alan Silvestri’s score just falls terribly short of Jerry Goldsmith’s original.

What’s right with it?

Some of the set pieces are very nice, and there is some good action going on. The performers are all pretty decent, and even the sproggly Boath isn’t too annoying. Oded Fehr as Ardeth Bey once more snags the ‘coolest moment in the movie’ award for the flying scimitar Anubis warrior decapitation.

How bad is it really?

The Mummy Returns falls firmly into the category of ‘not bad, but could do so much better’. The plot is convoluted in a way that only detracts from the film’s highlights, landing this effort with a ‘could do better’.

What’s up with…?

  • Rick and Evelyn still doing the Tomb Raider thing? Do they not learn? Still, at least this is done knowingly.
  • The sudden appearance of a tattoo which marks Rick as a Medjay? OK, I checked, and he does have that wrist covered all through the first film, but still…
  • The pygmy mummies?
  • The Scorpion King’s astounding crapness? The rest of the SFX is pretty solid, but he just looks like a big plastic scorpion. Actually, a Ray Harryhausen big plastic scorpion might well have looked better.
  • The rocket-powered dirigible? I mean, normally I’d be all in favour of rocket-powered dirigibles, but this one felt a little gratuitous (and may in fact have been a blimp after all).

Ratings:

Production Values – Generally speaking, pretty damn good; which just makes the Scorpion King look that much lamer by comparison. 7

Dialogue and performances – The problem with the script of this film is not in its dialogue, which is generally speaking pretty snappy. The actors also do the lines justice, giving credible and charismatic performances. Given that pretty much everyone was reprising a role they had played before, it is perhaps unsurprising that they seem very comfortable with their characters and relationships. 5

Plot and execution – The Mummy Returns has a major plot problem. Not that there’s too little, but that there’s too much. The movie dashes around from place to place, and in the first viewing at least is actually pretty confusing. The basic gist is simple enough, but it rambles so much that you get lost, and at times just stop caring. 13

Randomness – Sacred tattoos, pygmy mummies, rocket-powered dirigibles. Yeah, this film has some randomness. 16

Waste of Potential – As the sequel to a far superior film, The Mummy Returns clearly wastes some potential, but this is somewhat alleviated by the fact that it is struggling against the law of diminishing returns. Besides, at least it did not try to be a sequel with none of the original cast. 10

Overall 49%