Film Review: Highlander: The Source (2007)

Also known as: Highlander 5 (working title)
Release Date: February 6th, 2007 (Russian DVD premiere)
Directed by: Brett Leonard
Written by: Mark Bradley, Steven Kelvin Watkins
Music by: George Kallis
Cast: Adrian Paul, Peter Wingfield, Jim Byrnes, Thekla Reuten, Cristian Solimeno

Davis-Panzer Productions, HandMade Films, IAC Films, Lionsgate Films, Sci-Fi Channel, 86 Minutes, 99 Minutes (DVD cut), 94 Minutes (alternative DVD cut)

Review:

“I’ll be 314 three weeks from next Tuesday, I’m only a wee lad compared to Giovanni and Methos.” – Reggie Weller

Out of five Highlander films, four of them are shit. This one is the shittiest of them all. Maybe that’s why it was the last and why even though this was the first part of a planned trilogy, all those plans were cancelled.

I had never seen this movie and actually, I didn’t even know it existed until recently when I was reading up on the first film for my review of it. I wasn’t looking forward to rewatching any of the sequels but the thought of sitting through this fifth, mysterious film wasn’t doing my anxiety any favors.

I genuinely feel bad for Adrian Paul for being in this. It is a continuation of his story from the Highlander TV series, as well as following up Paul’s first film as the character, Highlander: Endgame.

Paul is definitely enjoyable as the Duncan MacCleod character and he’s clocked in more hours in the franchise than anyone. So it truly does suck that he had this total fucking turd as his swansong.

This is horrendously acted, atrociously directed and none of it makes sense. The dialogue is beyond despicable and listening to every scene play out is a feat of endurance that no human is capable of surviving. It’s monotone word salad where it feels as if the writers were just picking words out of a thesaurus at random. Since this was filmed in Lithuania, was it also written in English by Lithuanians that didn’t really know English outside of a few common phrases?

The special effects are also terrible and the worst in the franchise, which is impressive, as the first film predates this one by over twenty years.

All this time, I thought that the fourth film put the nail in the Highlander coffin. Nope. They were able to force one more in there.

Rating: 1/10
Pairs well with: staring into the asshole of a large buffalo with bovine viral diarrhea.

Film Review: Live Free Or Die Hard (2007)

Also known as: Die Hard 4.0, Die Hard 4, Die Hard: Tears of the Sun, Die Hard 4: Die Hardest, Die Hard: Reset (working titles), WW3.com (original script title)
Release Date: June 12th, 2007 (Tokyo premiere)
Directed by: Len Wiseman
Written by: Mark Bomback, David Marconi
Based on: A Farewell to Arms by John Carlin; characters by Roderick Thorp
Music by: Marco Beltrami
Cast: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant, Cliff Curtis, Maggie Q, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kevin Smith, Tim Russ

Cheyenne Enterprises, Dune Entertainment, Ingenious Film Partners, 20th Century Fox, 129 Minutes

Review:

“You know what you get for being a hero? Nothin’. You get shot at. You get a little pat on the back, blah, blah, blah, attaboy. You get divorced. Your wife can’t remember your last name. Your kids don’t want to talk to you. You get to eat a lot of meals by yourself. Trust me, kid, nobody wants to be that guy.” – John McClane

When this came out, I liked it but it didn’t quite blow me away in the same way as the original trilogy of films did. I haven’t seen this since it was in the theater, however, so I was pleasantly surprised by it this time around, as it was better than I remembered. I still wouldn’t put it on the same level as the first three but it is a much better action movie than the majority of action flicks since the turn of the millennium.

One thing that I like about this series, besides the awesomeness that is Bruce Willis, is that each film takes place in (or around) a different major city. The majority of this picture is set in Washington DC It gives it a fresh look but at the same time, it has the same problem that a lot of the more modern action flicks have and that’s that it looks too polished.

While metropolitan DC is cool, it is kind of a sterile and generic looking city when away from the famous monuments and iconic government buildings. Also, I don’t think that the film really utilized how batshit crazy DC’s streets are in that there are big diagonal avenues that cut through the standard grid system that most large American cities have.

I typically get annoyed by Justin Long after about five minutes. However, there are a few films where he is really good and this is one of him. While he starts to grate on you pretty early on, he grows as a character and you end up really liking him. But like other Die Hard characters, he’s sadly a one-off and doesn’t ever return to fuck shit up with John McClane again.

Side note: I’d love a spinoff of John McClane sidekicks meeting up at a John McClane sidekick convention that is taken over by terrorists and they have to team-up without McClane there. That’ll never happen but a kid can dream. But if anyone ever gets the comic book publishing rights to the Die Hard franchise, this should be a miniseries.

Anyway, Timothy Olyphant is a decent villain but he just isn’t on the level of the villains from the three previous films. I actually found Maggie Q’s character to be more interesting and engaging but she’s sort of just thrown away in the second act, which is just used as fuel to make Olyphant go over the edge and sort of self-sabotage his own plan due to wanting revenge specifically on McClane.

Additionally, as good as most of this film is, it jumps the shark once John McClane has to fight a fucking F-35 fighter jet around a maze of bridges. Is it badass? Sure, but it is also so far removed from the rest of the picture that it’s no longer grounded in reality and feels more like some bonkers Michael Bay bullshit. Then I also remembered that this was directed by the guy behind the Underworld films, which really feels like a weird fit when you think about it.

Still, this is a good, solid way to waste a few hours with some mindless action and a character that has become beloved in American culture.

This is definitely weaker than the three previous entries but that doesn’t make it a bad movie. It’s really good, has a good pace and just gives you more of John McClane being an absolute badass.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: the other Die Hard movies, as well as other Bruce Willis action films.

Documentary Review: The Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling (2007)

Release Date: December 11th, 2007
Directed by: Vince McMahon
Cast: Skandor Akbar, Gary Hart, Jerry Lawler, Shawn Michaels, Buddy Roberts, Michael P.S. Hayes, Kevin Von Erich

WWE, 111 Minutes

Review:

For those who don’t know the story of the Von Erich family, it is one of the most tragic tales in the professional wrestling industry.

This documentary, put out by WWE back in 2007, doesn’t just focus on the bad times, it also focuses on the family’s success and how they built up one of the most popular wrestling territories in the pre-WWF global era.

This examines how World Class Championship Wrestling came to be, how it was run and why the sons of the owner became the company’s top babyface stars.

However, it does take a dark turn as you get deeper into the story and are taken through a series of tragedies that tore the family and their business apart.

In spite of all the doom and gloom, this does a fine job of making you appreciate the product that the Von Erichs produced, as well as giving you a real appreciation of their passion for the business and their legacy in it.

If you have the DVD set of this, you also get six or seven hours of full matches from WCCW. That, in and of itself, is definitely worth its weight in gold.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other WWE documentaries on the legacies of past wrestling promotions.

Film Review: Return to House On Haunted Hill (2007)

Also known as: House On Haunted Hill 2 (working title)
Release Date: October 3rd, 2007 (Australia)
Directed by: Victor Garcia
Written by: William Massa
Based on: House On Haunted Hill by Robb White
Music by: Frederik Wiedmann
Cast: Amanda Righetti, Cerina Vincent, Erik Palladino, Tom Riley, Andrew Lee Potts, Jeffrey Combs

Dark Castle Entertainment, Warner Premiere, 79 Minutes, 81 Minutes (unrated)

Review:

“Mansions with their own mental wards. Only in fucking L.A.” – Desmond

I really liked the predecessor to this film. In fact, I reviewed it a few weeks back, after revisiting it for the first time in years. Seeing it made me appreciate it even more and it also motivated me to finally check out this straight-to-DVD sequel that I slept on in 2007 because I heard nothing but shitty things about it.

Well, all the shitty criticism that I heard regarding this film is true. In fact, it may not have been harsh enough, as this is one of the worst films I’ve sat through, so far in 2020.

I mean, I expected this to be much worse than the 1999 film but I was hoping it’d be a 5/10 in that it’d have good atmosphere and be true enough to the film it’s a sequel to that it would’ve helped push it past its flaws. Nope. It’s total and utter shit.

First off, and as should be expected, the acting is horrific. While I expected that for the most part, I did anticipate Amanda Righetti and Jeffrey Combs to at least carry the rest of the cast. They didn’t and that’s probably because RIghetti was dragged down by everyone else and Combs didn’t talk at all and just twitched a lot. I get that Combs is playing the same character he did in the previous film but I had hoped that they would’ve actually let him speak and come to life more, as he could’ve possibly saved the picture if they had expanded his role.

The setup to this film and the overall premise are fucking stupid.

Apparently, the girl who survived the previous movie and got the millions of dollars for doing so, went crazy and killed herself. Her ghost didn’t even closely resemble Ali Larter, which just goes to show how little the creative team gave a shit about the first film. Additionally, her character was pretty uncharacteristic of who she was in that first movie. Also, the Taye Diggs character is nowhere to be found and sort of just forgotten.

So the sister of the dead Ali Larter goes back to the house after being abducted with some thugs and an archaeologist looking for some cursed ancient statue. So the story now, is that the house itself is possessed by this cursed item and that’s why everything there is evil. Why can’t we just stick to the evil, fucked up doctor creating an evil environment where he is trapped with his tortured patients? Now we’ve got to make up some fucking bullshit MacGuffin that’s hidden in the literal heart of the house?! Yes, the house has a physical, organic fucking heart now!

Another massive problem with this festival of cinematic shit is that the house doesn’t even resemble the house of the first movie. I mean, how hard would that have been to pull off? The previous film’s house was mainly just simple fucking corridors with dirt, rust and blood all over the walls. This looks like it was filmed in a random warehouse from a Fallout game and I don’t mean that complimentary.

The only part of the house that looks familiar is the entrance hall but even then, it’s smaller and it is so well lit that it destroys the whole aesthetic.

This film has no redeeming qualities, not a single fucking one. Sure, you could say, “But Jeffrey Combs is in it!” And while that’s true, he’s completely wasted and it wouldn’t have mattered if he returned to play Dr. Vannacutt or if they had cast the fucking Key Grip.

Rating: 1.5/10
Pairs well with: removing duct tape from your face.

Film Review: Black Devil Doll (2007)

Release Date: October 31st, 2007 (limited)
Directed by: Jonathan Louis Lewis
Written by: Shawn Lewis, Mitch Mayes
Music by: The Giallos Flame
Cast: Jonathan Louis Lewis, Heather Murphy, Natasha Talonz, Erika Branich, Precious Cox, Christine Svendsen

Lowest Common Denominator Entertainment, Rotten Cotton, 73 Minutes

Review:

“Rated X by an All-White Jury!” – tagline

I never knew of this film’s existence until I was sitting with some friends in Frankie’s Tiki Room in Las Vegas and clips of the movie were edited into a video mixtape that was playing on all the TVs in the bar. The scenes of a Black Panther Chucky-like doll violently fucking and then murdering big breasted white girls intrigued me and I had to track down the film.

The same friends and I then had a party where we watched this on DVD, as you could actually get those from Netflix, back in the day. We had our own Tiki horror party and paired this up with Ed Wood’s Orgy of the Dead, which is basically just a horror themed nudie cutie from the ’60s. I reviewed that ages ago here.

Anyway, this is a dumb movie but I say that lovingly. It’s the sort of dumb, edgy boi, violent, offensive, cinematic trash that can easily entertain me. Since this was only 73 minutes, and actually felt shorter, this was the perfect running time before the joke ran dry and I zoned out.

The story is about a Black Panther who is set to be executed but his soul is then trapped in a little doll, similar to the origin of Chucky. Except this doll likes to fuck and kill big titted women. It’s exploitation at its finest with a supernatural twist.

And that’s basically all this movie is. A plot barely exists and this is mostly just softcore porn scenes with ’70s grindhouse style gore thrown in with a wisecracking killer doll that delivers great one-liners like a pro.

This film won’t resonate with most people bit it wasn’t made to.

It’s really hard to track this down now but if you come across a copy, you should definitely seize the opportunity.

I also remember that there was a sequel sitcom series that was in development. However, it was being crowdfunded and I don’t think it made its goal. If it does exist and you’ve seen it or know how to track it down, let me know in the comments below.

Rating: 5/10
Pairs well with: Black Devil Doll From Hell, Dolly Dearest, Dolls and the Child’s Play movies.

Documentary Review: Moebius Redux: A Life In Pictures (2007)

Release Date: 2007 (Germany, France)
Directed by: Hasko Baumann
Written by: Hasko Baumann
Music by: Aaa
Cast: Jean Giraud (Moebius), H.R. Giger, Stan Lee, Jim Lee, Mike Mignola, Dan O’Bannon, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Philippe Druillet, Enki Bilal

Arte France, Avanti Media, Morag Loves Company, 68 Minutes

Review:

I’ve admired Moebius’ artwork for years. However, I sadly didn’t know much about the man until this documentary.

Sure, I knew that he was an artist’s artist and that he has been praised longer than I’ve been alive but I never delved beyond just his art. But I guess that’s my crime and I missed out on not knowing more about Jean Giraud, the man behind the pseudonym.

This short film interviews a lot of iconic people from Alejandro Jodorowsky to Stan Lee to H.R. Giger to Jim Lee to Mike Mignola and they all give their two cents on Moebius and the impact of his work on the comic book and film mediums, as well as his influence on their own work.

Most importantly though, this spends a lot of time with Giraud, as he gives his story, in his own words. He talks about his influences and how Moebius evolved over time, working in the western genre and then sci-fi, fantasy and other styles that come with their own sets of tropes.

This was just a cool documentary about a guy that’s cooler than most people.

Moebius is an extremely talented artist and on top of that, his life is compelling and fascinating.

I’d say that this is definitely a must see for those who love the comic book medium and intriguing creatives with a hell of a lot of passion and imagination.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other comic artist documentaries. I’ve reviewed a ton of them here, already.

Documentary Review: Bloodsucking Cinema (2007)

Release Date: October 26th, 2007
Directed by: Barry Gray
Written by: Barry Gray
Music by: Don MacDonald
Cast: Uwe Boll, John Carpenter, David S. Goyer, Corey Haim, John Landis, Kristanna Loken, Leonard Maltin, Cheech Marin, Greg Nicotero, Joel Schumacher, Stephen Sommers, Stuart Townsend, Stan Winston, Len Wiseman, Marv Wolfman

Insight Film Studios, Vamp Productions, 56 Minutes

Review:

This has been in my Starz queue for a long ass time, so I figured I’d give it a watch to clear out some of the stuff that’s been there for too long.

Overall, this was a pretty boring documentary with a lot of talking head interviews edited together pretty sloppily.

There didn’t seem to be a clear direction or objective about this short documentary other than having a bunch of actors and directors talking about vampire films they’ve been apart of.

Frankly, this felt random as hell and features a slew of films that no one cared about when they came out and certainly don’t care about now. While they talk about some solid films like Lost Boys, From Dusk Till Dawn and Vampires, they also spend a lot of time talking about shit movies like Van Helsing, BloodRayne and Queen of the Damned.

I wouldn’t call this informative or entertaining. It’s a pointless, shitty production that only barely scratches the surface on the history of vampire cinema and would rather showcase Uwe Boll and Stephen Sommers rambling about their atrocious movies.

Rating: 3.5/10
Pairs well with: sniffing hobo farts.

 

Film Review: Black Hole (2007)

Release Date: 2007 (Internet)
Directed by: Rupert Sanders
Written by: Rupert Sanders, Milo Ross
Based on: Black Hole by Charles Burns
Cast: Chris Marquette, Whitney Able, Diane Gaeta, Noel Fisher, Nate Mooney

11 Minutes

Review:

This was a short film done by Rupert Sanders, who later directed Snow White and the Huntsman and the live action Ghost In the Shell. This was made as a sort of demo to show how he would adapt Charles Burns’ cult classic comic book, Black Hole.

Sanders released this on his website in 2007 but it didn’t even seem to pick up much steam or to be distributed around the web until 2010 or so. I didn’t know of its existence and I was a pretty big fan of the comic.

It’s not a very good adaptation and this only reflects a very small portion of what the story is. It crams a lot of things into a small space but it also does that so subtly that this feels more like a David Lynch mindfuck sequence than something with any sort of narrative or point.

The cinematography is school book Fincher, which everyone and their mother was employing at the time.

The body horror elements feel very Cronenberg and being that I already named three iconic directors, you can probably see that this sort of just borrows from several more accomplished talents and lacks a voice of its own.

I’m not try to shit on what Rupert Sanders did here but I’ve got to call it like I see it and as a fan of the original work, this doesn’t even hit the right notes, tonally or aesthetically.

All that being said, I don’t even know if I want a legitimate live action adaptation of this story. It works wonderful for the original medium that it was intended and I’m kind of sick of everything needing to be adapted into a live action film in order to somehow be legitimized within the framework modern culture.

I’d rather directors come up with new ideas for the medium of film. This is not a new idea nor is it a new approach to filmmaking. Everything here is borrowed and just because you have four really good ingredients, that doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to have a really good casserole.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: late ’90s to early ’00s teen horror.

Documentary Review: Jack Kirby: Story Teller (2007)

Release Date: June 5th, 2007
Cast: Neal Adams, Jim Lee, Stan Lee, Jeph Loeb, John Romita Sr., Alex Ross, Tim Sale, Walter Simonson, Bruce Timm, Len Wein, Barry Windsor-Smith, Marv Wolfman

Marvel Studios, Sparkhill Production, 20th Century Fox, 64 Minutes

Review:

I’ve been watching through a lot of comic book documentaries on YouTube, lately. I came across this one that discusses the work and legacy of Jack Kirby.

I’m not sure if this was made as a special feature on a DVD, as it was produced by Marvel and 20th Century Fox. Maybe it was included on one of the Fantastic Four DVD releases a decade ago.

Anyway, if you appreciate and admire the great work of Jack Kirby, this is a really engaging documentary.

It is rather short, considering the long career of the man but it does cover a lot of ground. It also interviews a lot of other comic book greats that worked with Kirby or were inspired by him.

This feels like a quickly thrown together low budget fluff piece and if I’m being honest, Jack Kirby deserves a proper documentary or a real biopic. As much as this does talk about how much Jack did, I still don’t feel like it captures the real importance and scale of it all.

But this is still a worthwhile watch because there really isn’t anything better… yet.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other comic book industry biographical documentaries.

Documentary Review: In Search of Steve Ditko (2007)

Release Date: September 16th, 2007 (UK)
Directed by: Peter Boyd Maclean
Cast: Jonathan Ross (host), Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Stan Lee, Joe Quesada, Mark Millar, John Romita Sr.

Hot Sauce, BBC, 59 Minutes

Review:

In Search of Steve Ditko was a one hour documentary special hosted by Jonathan Ross in 2007. It aired on one of the BBC channels but I’m not sure which one. I’ve had a DVD-R of it for a decade though and I figured I should revisit it, especially since Ditko passed, earlier this year.

Also, it’s on YouTube, so anyone can watch it if they want to.

The purpose of this documentary was two fold.

First, Ross wanted to do a biography piece on Ditko and interviewed a lot of other iconic creators to talk about him.

Second, Ross wanted to track down Ditko and meet him, possibly for an interview, but mostly to express his love of the man’s work.

While Ross does get to meet his hero, it happens off camera and we don’t get to see the reclusive Ditko appear. I’m fine with that even if others may be let down, as I believe in respecting the man’s privacy. And if you love Ditko, this is still a fine retrospective on his career and his influence on the comic book medium.

There are some great interviews here with Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Mark Millar, John Romita Sr. and even Stan Lee, who discusses who should get the credit for creating Spider-Man.

All in all, this was a good watch and for fans of Ditko, this is a nice, quick rundown of the importance of his work in comics.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other comic book documentaries like The Image Revolution and Chris Claremont’s X-Men.