John Wick (2014)

John WickJohn Wick, or Keanu Reeves Kills Everyone or Tonight We’re Going to Movie Like It’s 1999, is the story of what happens when you kill an ex-assassin’s dog.  Turns out, it’s just about exactly as wise as you might think it is.

John Wick has everything that’s been missing from the action movies I’ve been watching for about 15 years now.  Lots of action, head shots, blood and brains splattering faces and walls, violence, revenge, deaths, dog killing, Daniel “Not JCVD” Bernhardt, Marilyn Manson on the soundtrack…  for better or worse, John Wick is a return to the mid-late 90s, and I for one welcome it.

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The Raid 2 (2014)

The Raid 2The Raid 2 is writer/director Gareth Evans followup to his well received 2011 kung-fu killing spree, The Raid:  Redemption.  Iko Uwais returns to the role of Rama, who is sent to prison, undercover, in order to infiltrate a triad of mafia families and bring them down.  Once again, the action scenes in The Raid 2 are fantastic, and everything else is just filler.  The trouble this time around is that at 2 1/2 hours running time there’s just too damn much of that filler. Continue reading

Snakes on a Plane (2006)

 

Snakes on a Plane 2006Wait… What?  2006?  2006!?  There is no fucking way that this movie is almost 8 years old.  Kids born the year this movie came out are not only in school, but they’re like in their 2nd or 3rd year.  That is messed up.  Time sure does fly.

Like an airplane.

BOOM.  Segue mastered.

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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

Abraham Lincoln Vampire HunterAbraham Lincoln lived a remarkable life.  He worked hard his whole life, freed America’s slaves, and re-united his country.

Oh… and he was also a bad-ass motherfucker who cut down hordes of Vampires with a silver-coated axe.

Every once in a while, a movie comes along where everything you need to know is in the title.  Snakes on a Plane, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Aliens…  every one of those movies tells you exactly what you’re going to see on screen.  Maybe there’s something more, maybe there isn’t.  But you know going in that you’re going to see some snakes on a plane, a chainsaw massacre located in Texas, and a shitload of fuckin’ aliens, man.

Abraham Lincoln:  Vampire Hunter is one of those movies.

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Metroid: Zero Mission (Game Boy Advance)

Metroid_--_Zero_Mission_(box_art)Metroid has been around for almost 27 years.  The original game was released in Japan in 1986, and it got a North American release around the same time the next year.

The original game features a space bounty hunter in a high powered suit named Samus Aran.  Samus has come to the planet Zebes to stop a group of Space Pirates from exploiting an alien species, Metroids, in a bid to rule the galaxy.  The game was incredibly successful, influential and ground breaking.  It’s exploratory gameplay was among the first of its kind.  An incredibly eerie atmosphere, created by fantastic music, level and creature design marks it–arguably–as the invention of the Survival Horror genre of video games.  It’s practically like playing a video game of Alien.  And, of course, Samus Aran is the world’s first (recognized by Guinness Book of World Records) Playable Female Protagonist in a mainstream title, what’s more, is that the discovery of Samus’ gender comes as a surprise ending (Unless you know Justin Bailey…)

So, what happens almost 20 years later when you’ve created one of the most successful franchises of all time?  That’s right, kids… it’s time for a remake/reboot combo.  Enter:  Zero Mission.

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Re-Watching Dead: Days Gone Bye



One Down…

Mel and I just finished watching the pilot episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead. You might remember it from last fall, when it was one of the most successful and talked about new shows of the season. I think it was her 3rd viewing, and my 5th. It was also her first viewing since reading the trades. I’ve read all 14 that have been released, but Mel’s dragged her feet on reading volume 14. We’re working our way through the series again in preparation and excitement for the start of Season 2, on Oct. 16.

Read what we thought of the show’s first episode, “Days Gone Bye”, after the jump…

Fair warning:  This shit is going to get spoilery.  If you haven’t watched the whole first season, or read at least the first trade of the comic books, you may not want to read any further.  And did I just use the term “after the jump”?  Ugh…  Someone slap me.  Don’t ever let me do that again.

Things We Agree On:

This show opens with a bang.  Right from the get-go, the series is telling you, “Look, folks… this shit is serious, and we’re not fucking around.  If you think you’re getting funny zombies, go watch Dead-Alive again.”  One of my major concerns when I heard they were adapting TWD for TV was whether or not they’d have the balls to do what needs to be done.  I’m pretty sure shooting a little girl in the head answers that question pretty fucking quick.

This ain’t Sesame Street.

From there we jump into the opening credits.  Mel is always particularly impressed by them.  They do a great job of setting the tone.  I agree.  It feels very eerie.  True Blood and Gane of Thrones might be the only better credit reels going these days.

Once the credits wrap we come to our first gripe of the season…  The conversation between Shane and Rick in their squad car takes too fucking long.  At least it does the first time you watch it.  After seeing the whole series play out (and reading the comics) this scene becomes much more interesting than the first time you watch it.  It lays a groundwork for the characters that is much needed.  It also shows several ways that this story is going to be different from the comic.  The only problem is it does it too slowly.  Shane’s asshole diatribe isn’t quite interesting enough, and the scene really slows the pacing of the show down to a new viewer.  The same pacing problem appears in other spots throughout the episode, but never quite as bad, and once it really picks up again after Rick and Morgan leave the police station it never really lets up.

On the road again…
Just can’t wait to get back on the road again…

Speaking of after the police station…  I’m pretty sure there are several critics of directors like Zack Snyder that would love to show them the scene where Rick heads back to the zombie he found near the bicycle, or the hospital sequence.  They are fantastic examples of how you can use a comic as a storyboard, and let your audience see each comic frame, without using bullet time effects, or otherwise stopping time. (The Zombiephiles has a neat article showing some side by side character comparisons.)  Of course, the visual effects, zombie make up and acting are all fantastic.  You can clearly see that everyone involved in this show really cares about making it as great as they can.

Another great aspect is how this episode somehow manages to simultaneously stick to the storyline of the source material, but play with it slightly to create some surprises even for the people who have read the comics.  Every change made in this episode, particularly Rick and Lori’s rocky marriage and Shane and Lori clearly having more than just a grief-stricken one night stand,  are all great, and really add to the tensions that should be coming later on.

Things We Didn’t Agree On:

Mel thought that, for the amount of time Morgan spent saying how attracted to sound the zombies are, and how much he beats himself up for firing his gun in the street, neither He nor Rick really seem to give that much of a shit about it.  They both seem to take any and every opportunity to fire off a round into everything they can.  This really bothered her, given that she not that long ago read Abraham’s (a character that comes much later in the comics) tirade on stationary camps and gunfire.  It didn’t bother me that much… I guess I don’t mind it because early Rick is a dumbfuck when it comes to zombie common sense.  And as far as Morgan goes, I kinda thought that TVs Morgan has given up by the time he starts his sniping spree.

Mel also really enjoyed re-watching the end of the episode.  She said that even though she knew how it was going to turn out, it was still really tense.  I don’t really feel the tension of the scene anymore… but I do still think Rick putting the gun to his head and noticing the hole in the tank is awesome.  One of the best moments in the show, really.  That whole scene is one of those new additions that really work for both the fans of the comics and the newcomers, I think.

Random Rants:


I remember a lot of people who didn’t know any better shouting “Ripoff” when the show was first airing, over the fact that Rick wakes up alone in the hospital.  Supposedly the scenes were written independently around the same time, like some kind of crazy zombie Calculus.  I say, “Who gives a fuck?”.  The idea of it goes back much further than 28DL.  The Quiet Earth has an world ending scene involving a guy waking up to a deserted world too.  Not to mention all the various forms “The Last Man on Earth” has taken on screen.  Seeing a Ripoff Card played so quickly, and so poorly researched, drives me up the fucking wall.

Final Thoughts:

Even after 5 viewings, this episode of the show is still strong enough to make both Mel and I excited to watch more of it.  Great acting, great effects, great story and some of the best direction ever on the small screen.  The Walking Dead‘s first episode is definitely some of the best stuff ever shown on television.

I’d give it two thumbs up,
but the other one rotted off.

Re-Watching Dead

“Admit it. You only came back to Atlanta for the hat.”

With the second season of AMC’s amazing The Walking Dead starting in just over a month, it’s finally time for Mel and I to sit back, relax and pace ourselves through a month of revisiting post-Zombie Apocalypse Georgia.

Look to your left… Now look to your right.
Come graduation day, one of you will no longer be with us.


Sure, The Walking Dead‘s short but sweet first season may have wrapped up a while ago.  Mel and I watched it, re-watched it, and I’ve watched it yet again since. But that was months ago.

As I recall… the series is fantastic in its own right. It’s true that die hard fans of the comic, like myself, have often been a bit disappointed in some of the turns that the series has taken; but I remember these twists and turns working (for the most part). Before Season 2 starts I also intend to re-read (at least) the first 3 trade paperbacks of the comic.

Watch this spot in the future, as I intend to post our different feelings on each episode as we revisit the misadventures of Rick Grimes yet again.

In the meantime… here’s a trailer for Season 2 that played at this year’s Comic-Con.

Conan The Barbarian (1982)

I Missed the Boat.


Conan The Barbarian was one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s higher profile early roles. One of the first where they even let him use his own voice. It follows the story of a boy whose family gets killed by marauders. He gets sold into slavery and obviously, becomes a killing machine. Netflix Canada recently added this gem to their streaming service up here in the Great White North.  (I wonder whatever could have that idea?)  I saw this sitting there in the recently added section and realized that it was probably now, or never.
You see… I missed the Conan boat.  Repeatedly.  I was too young to watch it in ’83.  By the time our family owned a VCR, our local video store had already sold its copy for someone’s “Home Video Library”.  When I went to college, no one on the floor ever got drunk or stoned enough to suggest Conan The Barbarian.  If any of us did… we probably would’ve just watched Army of Darkness or Black Belt Jones again, anyway.

Oh, Conan… The times we could have had.


Regardless, when I heard about the Conan movie, I didn’t really give a shit. Shortly after that, I saw this trailer:

So… that really made me want to see the new Conan. But being a Fat Guy With Glasses, I couldn’t very well allow myself to see the high-profile remake without watching the goddamn original. So, despite all the men in my family practically chomping at the bit to go… we still haven’t seen it, because I’m an asshole.

Do You Want to Live Forever?

Why didn’t I watch this in the 80s? Or at University? I would have fucking loved this movie had I watched it then. The action sequences are simultaneously some of the best and worst in action movie history. The dramatic acting switches from bad to awful to shockingly great at the drop of a hat.

I know this image looks incredibly awkward, but this scene is seriously powerful.

But since I’m not a kid, nor did I watch this in a cramped dorm room with 20 other people, I ended up having to really watch it. When this movie is good, it’s fucking brilliant. Great cinematography, great action, great acting. But when it’s not… it’s utter shit. Terribly slow pacing (arguably even for 1980s standards), awful action, awful acting.

Say “It’s not a tumah” again! I dahble dare you mathu fakkah!

What is Best in Movie?

There is some excellent cinematography in this film. The outdoor scenery is gorgeous, for a ravaged wasteland, anyway. There are about half a dozen truly great moments in this movie. The first comes almost instantly. Hearing Mako as the narrator was absolutely epic. It excited me for what was to come. The moments after the opening action scene are amazing. And the final two action scenes were also fantastic. It’s really too bad it drags so much in the middle. In the 80s the good would have far outweighed the bad. At Uni, I would have had a blast lambasting the bad.  Either of those would have been good enough for me. If only I could trow open a portal in time.

3/5

Dante’s Inferno (Xbox 360)

Burn, Baby, Burn:

Reviewing 18 month old games is fun and relevant! Just this Saturday I wrapped up a Zealot (Normal difficulty) playthrough of Dante’s Inferno.  It’s an early 2010 release from Visceral Games and EA.  Loosely (probably very loosely) inspired by The Divine Comedy, the player controls Dante, the Templar Knight, as he descends his way into Hell after killing Death and stealing his scythe, so that he can free the soul of Beatrice, the woman, he loves from Lucifer’s clutches.

It also features a metric crapton of creepiness, gore and nudity.

Pictured: Strategically Placed Hand.

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Source Code (2011)

Hello everybody.

So, since my darling daughter, Charlotte, has finally decided (a year and 4 months later) to spend a couple of hours straight sleeping in the evenings and nights, I have finally been able to return, somewhat regularly, to my nerdly pursuits. Things like movies, video games, toys that don’t squeak and that ilk have been almost unattainable for the last year.

But enough about that. I’d like to actually discuss a movie that I recently was able to watch. Source Code, starring Jake Gylynhall? Gyllynhalllahlllal? I’m going to have to open another tab, aren’t I? Jake Gyllenhaal. There. Was that so hard? Anyway, he stars in the movie.

< So, Source Code is a sci-fi, action version of Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day. This soldier wakes up in a strange place, as a strange person, and has to live out the last 8 minutes of this stranger’s life. So I guess you could also mention that there’s a dash of Quantum Leap thrown in the mix. Except there’s no Ziggy, and Al is a kinda hot, girl next door, soldier woman, instead of Dean Stockwell. They need to work together to find out the whys and hows of a train explosion that happened earlier that day, so that they can prevent another, worse explosion set to happen later that day. So, we can now probably add 24 to our checklist. So, as you can imagine, there’s a lot going on here. There’s also a lot of exploding. Every time this guy “goes back in” the train ends up exploding. Which is good.

Now, the plot takes several twists and turns. They are all predictable. I seriously doubt anyone will be surprised by any of the twists this plot takes. But that really didn’t ruin anything for me. I could see everything coming as clear as day, but I still enjoyed it. This can only mean one of 2 possible things. Either:

1) Fatherhood, and the trials involved therein, have made me less judgmental of my forms of entertainment.

OR

B) (Groundhog Day – Bill Murray) + (Quantum Leap X Girl Next Door)/Wrinkly Old Cigar Man + 24(Michael Bay Explosions) + Incredible Predictability = Fuck it, it’s Good Enough for Me.