September 12th, 2010

RETROGRADE (2009) *

This Dolph Lundgren vehicle sat on the shelf for five years before limping it’s way onto DVD.  It’s easy to see why.  It’s boring, cheap, and short on action.

 

Dolph leads a team of soldiers from the future to the present day to stop a flesh eating bacteria from wiping out much of the human race.  Once they are safely in the past, his crew mutinies against him.  It's up to Dolph alone to hoof it through Antarctica to find the boat responsible for unleashing the deadly disease.

 

Retrograde is Retro Grade Z.  The effects are horrendous and the action is pathetic.  It also reeks of missed opportunities.  I mean why put Dolph and Gary Daniels in an action flick together and not let them do any of their patented Kung Fu shtick?  That’s just poor planning.  (They were put to much better use in The Expendables.)  The occasional laser gun shootouts are lamely choreographed and the close quarters of the ship aren’t the most ideal place to stage them either.

 

The ending is particularly stupid.  Okay, Dolph’s girlfriend dies from the plague in 2009, so he goes back in time six months earlier to convince her not to go on the ship.  They eventually wind up falling in love and having a family, but this begs the question:  Did he still go back to Antarctica to stop the plague in this new timeline?  Or did he just let the plague happen all over again since he knew that the end of the world wouldn’t be until another two hundred years, and they’d never live to see it.  In a good movie this would be called ambiguity.  In a bad movie we call this sloppy screenwriting.

 

AKA:  Commander.  AKA:  Time Travelers.

STAY ALIVE (2006) * ½

Stay Alive?  Try staying awake through this lame horror movie.  It’s all about a group of idiotic video gamers who play a horror game based on the Elizabeth Bathory legend.  When the gamer’s avatar dies in the game, they… wait for it… die in real life.  SCARY.

 

You know, I like playing video games with my friends as much as the next guy.  But what I absolutely hate is WATCHING somebody else play a video game.  That’s basically what most of the movie revolves around.  It would be one thing if the video game was actually cool, but this one is just lame, lame, lame.

 

This movie reminded me a lot of those Choose Your Own Adventure novels I read as a kid.  The only difference of course is the fact that you can’t choose which way the story goes.  The story is juvenile, the villain is hideously weak, and the gore is nonexistent.  I don’t know, maybe if you’re a teenage nerd obsessed with video games, you might dig it.

 

The biggest problem with the flick is that all of the characters are annoying and one-note.  They’ll irritate the piss out of you in no time flat.  The lone exception is Sophia Bush who looks fucking hot as the Goth chick.  She gets a memorable WTF scene when she tries to kill a ghost with a nail gun.  Alas, she does not show off Sophia’s Bush.

 

AKA:  Death Game.

LAYER CAKE (2005) ** ½

Daniel Craig stars a nameless drug dealer trying to get out of the game when he’s asked to find a missing girl by the local kingpin.  Things get increasingly complicated for him when a Dutch drug lord thinks he stole a suitcase full of prescription pills.  Then he falls for the kingpin’s nephew’s girlfriend (Sienna Miller), which really gets him into hot water.

 

I wanted to like this gangster flick from director Matthew (Kick-Ass) Vaughn but several things hampered my enjoyment.  First was the plotting.  I mean just as Craig is about to get everything straightened out, some new contrivance pops up to put him back to square one.  It just kinda got annoying after awhile.   Plus, if you can’t see the ending coming from a mile away, then you’re legally movie blind.  Then there is the abundance of irritating supporting players.  None of them are given anything particularly memorable to do and they only add to the jumbled feeling of the film.

 

Still, there’s reason enough here to check it out.  The main reason is Daniel Craig.  You can see why the Bond producers hired him because he’s pretty badass in this flick.  He’s a little bit more vulnerable here than he was as Bond, but that’s just part of his character.  And you've got Sienna Miller looking all kinds of hot.  I only wish she showed off more than the side of her boob though.

 

AKA:  The Pusher.

BRUCE LEE: HIS LAST DAYS (1976) **

Bruce Lee:  His Last Days is different from a lot of Bruceploitation flicks because it exploits Bruce’s private life.  While most Bruceploitation flicks revolved around his death, this one gets involved in his supposed extramarital tryst with actress Betty Ting (who plays herself).  This isn’t the worst idea in the world but the problem is that most of the movie follows Betty and not Bruce.  It should’ve been called Bruce Lee:  What His Mistress Was Up to During His Last Days. 

 

Bruce Lee dies when his girlfriend Betty Ting gives him too much Spanish Fly and exhausts him with sex.  Then everywhere she goes, she gets attacked by roving gangs of thugs looking to avenge Bruce’s death.  After a kind bartender saves her life, Betty tells him about her love affair with Bruce.  Betty met Bruce when he saved her from getting raped and eventually they became a couple.  Unfortunately, his ego and her excessive gambling drove them apart.  Betty and Bruce reconcile things when he rescues her from a gang of loan sharks and promises her a role in his upcoming movie.  Tragically (yeah, right) Bruce dies before Betty can realize her dream as a Hollywood starlet.

 

I’m sure this is EXACTLY how it happened, right?

 

While Bruce Lee:  His Last Days is watchable to a point, it has way too much soap opera melodrama and not enough fight scenes.  Look, the reason why we watch a Bruceploitation movie is to see the fake Bruce Lee fight.  Sadly, the majority of the fight scenes in this movie are nothing more than rehearsals for his “films” and not actual fights.  Bummer.

 

AKA:  Bruce Lee and I.  AKA:  Bruce Lee:  His Last Days, His Last Nights.  AKA:  I Love You Bruce Lee.  AKA:  Superstar.

DEATH AT A FUNERAL (2010) **

Chris Rock’s dad dies and everyone who comes to the funeral is an asshole.  His brother (Martin Lawrence) is obnoxious, his cousin (Zoe Saldana) is a bitch, his friend (Tracy Morgan) is an idiot, and just about every white person is either on drugs (James Marsden) or a jerk (Luke Wilson).  Then a gay midget (Peter Dinklage) shows up trying to extort money from Rock, which leads to more “hilarity”.

 

Earlier this year, it seemed like every time I went to the movies I saw the preview for Death at a Funeral.  The first time I saw it, I laughed a few times, enough for me to want to see the film.  Then after about the 16th time I saw the trailer, I became pretty annoyed by it.  Still, I thought it would be kinda funny.  As it turns out, Death at a Funeral is one of those cases where all of the funny stuff is in the preview, which is more or less a condensed version of the movie.  So if you really want to laugh, just watch the 3 minute trailer and save yourself 89 extra minutes.

 

The only funny parts that aren’t in the trailer belong to Danny Glover.  One time he shits on Tracy Morgan’s hand and face.  Then he quotes his famous “I’m getting too old for this shit” line from Lethal Weapon.  Other than that, it’s pretty much a waste of a talented cast.  I do have to say I did enjoy seeing genre vet Bob (Delinquent School Girls) Minor playing the role of the corpse though.  It’s good to see he got a paycheck out of this shit.

RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE 3-D (2010) *

The Short Version: 

 

Milla Jovovich does NOT get naked in 3-D, so save your $14 and see Piranha 3-D again.

 

The Long Version: 

 

Resident Evil:  Afterlife 3-D hates you.  It really does.  It takes away everything you want from a Resident Evil movie and then rubs your nose in it.  You want Milla Jovovich naked?  Sorry, this Bud is not for you.  You want to see zombies killed in awesome ways?  Uh-uh, not happening.  You want funny looking monsters killing people?  Well, you get that, but it’s not very good.  What I’m getting at here people is that this movie sucks.

 

This one picks up after Resident Evil:  Remember When We Knew How to Make a Good Resident Evil Movie as Alice (Milla) goes to Japan with her clone army and destroys the zombie plague creating Umbrella Corporation.  Then she flies up to Alaska to find a group of survivors but she’s SOL.  While working her way down the coast, she encounters a small band of survivors in LA.  Alice tries to help them escape to an aircraft carrier that may be the sanctuary they’ve been looking for.  OR it could just be one big trap set by the Umbrella Corporation.  Guess which one.

 

Afterlife is so lame that you have to keep yourself amused by picking out all the stupid shit that doesn’t make a lick of sense.  Like how all the soldiers’ (as well as Alice’s) body armor is supposedly bulletproof but bullets, ninja stars, and swords have no problems cutting through the Teflon and killing their intended targets.  Or how Alice loses her special powers early in the movie but is still somehow able to Kung Fu and shoot zombies without missing and escape from tall buildings by swinging John McClane style without getting so much as a scratch.  Or how Ali Larter goes from being muddy and filth-ridden in one scene to suddenly looking like a Glamour cover model in the next.  Or how all the zombies get killed by bullets to the chest and NOT the brain.

 

Shit like this doesn’t usually bother me in a movie but when the rest of the movie blows like a syphilitic hooker, we got problems.  The action sequences are all pretty weak, with the exception of the opening one.  If the movie was nothing but mediocre action set piece after mediocre action set piece, I could’ve lived with that.  But like the zombies, the scenes that take place in between the action are as lifeless as can be.  I’m not saying I’m craving Academy Award winning shit here, but Resident Evil:  Apocalypse at least had memorable characters.

 

Speaking of memorable characters, the only ones that really register are the main villain (who acts like Val Kilmer playing Neo in Raging Asshole Mode) and the refugee from Silent Hill who attacks hot babes with a big ass battle axe.  This guy ain’t got nothing on Nemesis from Resident Evil:  Apocalypse, but he’s OK I guess.  I did like the fact that he had a grappling hook hanging halfway out his abdomen and nobody said anything about it. 

 

What good ideas there are in Afterlife are pretty much squandered.  Having the survivors wall themselves up inside a maximum security prison is a nice touch but it’s nothing more than a throwaway.  It’s just another pit stop on the way to the next action sequence.

 

And for some reason they stop with all the 3-D stuff about halfway through the movie.  The 3-D effects come at ya fast and furious throughout the opening action sequence but they dry up after Alice commandeers her airplane and starts playing Amelia Earhart.  Shit starts flying back at your face during the last couple minutes, but it’s too little too late.  You do get to see:

 

  • 3-D Rain
  • 3-D Guns
  • 3-D Milla
  • 3-D Multiple Millas
  • 3-D Ninja Stars
  • 3-D Sword
  • 3-D Shrapnel
  • 3-D Bullets
  • 3-D T-Viruses
  • 3-D Airplane
  • 3-D Zombies
  • 3-D Flag Pole
  • 3-D Battle Axe
  • 3-D Glasses
  • 3-D Octopus Face Zombies

 

And this leads up to my biggest complaint with the movie.  And there’s no one to blame but director Paul W.S. Anderson here.  Look Paul, you have the latest in 3-D technology at your fingertips.  You have the hottest damn woman on the planet who has gotten naked in the all the previous entries in the series.  This should’ve been a no-brainer.  But do we get to see Milla Jovovich naked in 3-D?

 
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO….

 

Look Paul, I know Milla is your wife and all but you have got to stop being such a greedy bastard and share that shit with the rest of us.  I mean we’re talking 3-D here Paul.  Remember when Betsy Rue did her four minute long 3-D naked scene in My Bloody Valentine 3-D?  That shit was legendary.  Now was I expecting that epic of a nude scene from Milla this time out?  No.  Heck, I would’ve been happy with no nipple shots too.  I could’ve lived with a side tit shot and/or some butt cleavage.  At least have her in some skimpy outfits for fuck’s sake.

 

I think what really pissed me off about the No Ta-Ta’s Clause in your wife’s contract was that you teased us so heartlessly with it during the shower scene.  I mean she goes into the shower room.  She turns the shower ON.  She lets it run a bit.  Then she remarks about how COLD the water is.  Then she sets her towel down and takes off her guns.  Then… the zombies attack.  What the fuck.  No nudity.  Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ. 

 

And you know what; I might’ve been able to deal with a Resident Evil movie in which Milla didn’t get naked.    I mean it’s after the zombie apocalypse.  She’s busy controlling a clone army, flying planes, looking for survivors, shooting zombies, etc.  I know the girl has a lot on her plate.  But when you heartlessly tease us with the shower scene and then DON’T DELIVER… that’s when I draw the line.

 

I think the part that hurts the most was when you made Milla tell the audience just how COLD the water was.  All I kept thinking about after that was 3-D Erect Milla Nipples… 3-D Erect Milla Nipples… 3-D Erect Milla Nipples…  And then... NOTHING. 

 

You know Paul; I defended you a lot when everyone in internet message boards called you a hack.  I praised you for your work in Death Race when no one else would.  I championed your handling of the Aliens and the Predators in the face of outright ridicule.  I even took up for you for Soldier.  Now, you’re dead to me motherfucker. 

 

You should’ve let Uwe Boll direct this shit.  He would’ve known what the people wanted to see.  3-D Milla Titties.

 

Now that I think about it though, maybe that scene where the bad guy took away Milla’s “special powers” makes sense now.  Maybe her special powers are actually her ability to get naked.  Ah yes, now it becomes clear.

 

I think if Milla DID get naked, it wouldn’t have saved the movie.  As far as Movies Based on Video Games go, Resident Evil:  Afterlife 3-D is not nearly as bad as a Silent Hill or a Max Payne.  At the most, it’s a Two Star deal.  Milla not getting naked (in 3-D no less) is a deal breaker for me me though.  Not seeing Milla Jovovicah nude in 3-D has to rank as the missed opportunity of the year.  Possibly of all time.  So, One Star deduction for that.

 

The good news is that there is a scene after the credits that gratuitously sets up another sequel and re-introduces Jill Valentine (now a blonde for some reason) back into the mix.  Even though she wasn’t naked, her cleavage stuck out nice and good in 3-D.  So here’s hoping if there is a Part 5, maybe she’ll get naked if Milla doesn’t.