Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ghost Warrior

The tagline of this movie was “A deep-frozen 400-year-old samurai is shipped to Los Angeles, where he comes back to life.” I know, terrible, right? Well, it pretty much sums up the story and the quality of the flick. God bless the ‘80’s, when crap like this got greenlit and a budget. The problem with this movie, however, is that it seemed to take itself very seriously. A good cruddy ‘80’s movie has to treat itself like bubble gum and, not matter how much you may like it, we all know you’re not going to get nourishment from bubble gum, and the maker should know this too.

So, a samurai is deeply in love and then watches his woman die right before he’s hit with an arrow and falls over a cliff into water. Somehow he gets frozen solid in water that isn’t frozen solid and somehow he lives for four centuries. Then, when he comes back to, thanks to super advanced scientists, he wants to get back to the business of ass-kicking. He is surprisingly well adjusted to seeing things like cars, tv’s and airplanes, as well as people who are dressed, speaking and acting most bizarrely. Despite the movie raising more questions than answering (and not purposefully for phsilosophical stimulation, mind you), they seem to put a great deal of emphasis on specific details that don’t drive the story at all, like having the guy use a dialect of Japanese that is from the era and not like modern Japanese. What they should have done is put a good deal of emphasis on story and ideas, if they wanted it to be a legit movie.

Moral of the story, if you’re going to make a movie about some guy getting unfrozen after a ton of time, don’t take yourself seriously, the only movies that have ever used this concept even remotely well didn’t take it seriously at all (think Austin Powers, Demolition Man and Encino Man). Then again, there's no problem in this movie a sizable amount of booze can't fix.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Down to Bizness

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I Love You Phillip Morris

I Love You Phillip Morris tells the all too true and all too bizarre tale of Steven Jay Russell. You see, Steven doesn’t do anything half ass. He’s either all in or all out. When he is married to a saccharine sweet Christian girl, well, he’s the choir director and is sappy sweet suburban goodness as well. When he decides to live more like a South Beach gay stereotype, well, he goes whole hog to the point of committing massive credit card fraud in order to buy extravagant gifts and clothes. This, unfortunately, lands him in prison. There, he meets Phillip and falls, you guessed it, over the top in love with him. He goes to extremes for them to be together, from pulling strings to get them bunked together to escaping prison to go bust him out of another prison, to which Phillip had been transferred. So, will they get away with it? Will they be able to hide and live the straight life (no pun intended) in order to stay out of prison? Or will Steven and Phillip’s antics end them right back in the slammer? Ask them and they may tell you it doesn’t matter, as long as they’re together.

This movie has a great deal of good things going for it. It’s visually interesting, the tone is lighthearted and sweet and the character that is Russell seems tailor made for Jim Carrey, who plays him very well. I won’t go into the end of the story, because I think you’ll enjoy not knowing, but, suffice it to say, it takes a bit of the fun out of things. I think part of the movies flaw is that it’s not terribly engaging, at least not for me. I didn’t care a whole lot what happens to these characters and I can’t say it had me on the edge of my seat or anything. In the end it’s fun and enjoyable but nothing all that mind blowing. I wish John Waters would have gotten his mits on this one, then we’d have had something interesting. If you’re looking for a quirky interesting story about two wackos who are out of their senses with love, then this is your flick. If not, meh, skip it.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Dr. Rodman works for a major pharmaceutical company and may be on the verge of a cure for Alzheimer’s, in that he’s developed a drug that appears to regenerate damaged and dying brain cells. Of course, the company wants to test this out on chimps first, but the project goes caput when one of the chimps attacks a boardroom full of investors. The problem for Rodman…the drug worked. Not only did it work, but apparently the chimp it worked on was pregnant and the baby appears to be even more advanced than the mom. So, he tries the drug out on his dad, secretly, and it works on him too. Of course, no major motion picture is complete without conflict, so let’s suffice it to say, things don’t exactly work out as planned. His father starts declining again and the wonderchimp starts wanting more than living with a scientist in some suburban San Francisco home. The father spirals out and the chim revolts.

I don’t have much to say about this movie because there’s really not much to say about it. People can be greedy, chimps are purer, the underdog triumphs, blah blah blah. I’m sick to death with formulaic wide-release action dramas. In them is nothing surprising and out of them comes nothing but shallow, easy messages. Also, how the heck is this movie part of the planet of the apes series? It has nothing whatsoever to do with any of the movies. Ok, it’s vaguely related to the fourth one, but the director said it’s only a loose association, that, really, this movies is supposed to be a prequel to the first one. Ok, fine, but how is it a prequel set in the modern day? Think about it. Also, and then I swear I'll stop, I have never become a fan of CGI. I don't care who you are, CGI just doesn't look real and, in fact, it looks unreal in movies, like this one, that are going for realism and, thereby, it detracts from the suspension of disbelief. Put another way, it's distracting rather than engaging. I bring it up here because there's a freaking ton of CGI in this movie.

That said, if you are not a curmudgeon like me, then there is a chance you may dig this flick. It does have that classic underdog story going for it and the majority of the country seems to have enjoyed it far more than I. It wasn’t awful, it just wasn’t, well, much of anything.