Also known as: Die Hard 5 (working title) Release Date: February 6th, 2013 (Seoul premiere) Directed by: John Moore Written by: Skip Woods Based on: characters by Roderick Thorp Music by: Marco Beltrami Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Rasha Bukvic, Cole Hauser, Yulia Snigir, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (cameo)
“Let’s go kill some motherfuckers!” – John McClane
Well, not all Die Hards are created equal but at least three were great and another one was really good. This one, the fifth and final (at least for now), was the worst film of the lot.
That’s not to say that this is a bad movie, it just isn’t on the level of the four other pictures that share the Die Hard name.
In fact, take Die Hard out of the title and this is just another random Bruce Willis action film from the ’00s or ’10s that gets lost in the shuffle and just sort of blends in with the rest of them. It’s mediocre, uninspiring and pretty generic with only one real high point worth mentioning.
That one high point is the final battle with the helicopter. It’s a pretty cool sequence and well thought out and executed. However, it is somewhat ruined by shoddy CGI effects and the film being visually drab, overall.
There are other big action sequences but none of them are very memorable.
Part of the problem with the film is that it doesn’t feel Die Hard level in scale. Each film sort of felt like it got bigger than the one before it in some way. This actually feels like the smallest film in scale since the first one. While this takes place primarily in the streets of Moscow, it just lacks the energy and intensity of the third and fourth films, which took place in the streets of two major American metropolises.
I think this problem is due to the visual tone and the drabness of the picture. It definitely went for that modern action film aesthetic and it makes it look cheap and generic. The thing I loved about Die Hard With a Vengeance was that it didn’t resort to noticeable film filters or gritty digital enhancements, it just threw you in the middle of New York City and it felt like you were there.
This film feels like you’re looking at a video game that takes place in some generic European city. There just isn’t any life to it. And that’s not a knock against Moscow because I’m sure there is really cool shit that could’ve been captured on film there. This is more a criticism of the director, the cinematographer, the location scout and the obvious lack of creativity in trying to give this film an authentic lived-in world.
From a creative standpoint, this felt like the most half-assed Die Hard film and that the producers just kind of assumed that people would love it just because it featured the character of John McClane.
Additionally, the story was also generic and weak. In fact, this felt like they took a script for a cookie cutter, straight-to-DVD action flick and just repackaged it with the Die Hard name once they were able to lock down Bruce Willis.
Still, if you’ve got just under two hours to kill and you haven’t seen the film, it’s still a good time waster. Granted, if you haven’t seen any of the other four, watch one of those instead.
Rating: 6.25/10 Pairs well with: the other Die Hard films, as well as other Bruce Willis action films.
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
“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.
From Filmento’s YouTube description: Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn Birds of Prey movie is the first DC film of the new decade, and by the quality of it it seems DC is up to its old habits a’la Suicide Squad/Batman v Supeman/Justice League. But the interesting thing about Birds of Prey’s failure is that its pretty much a copy paste of other successful movies: Pirates of the Caribbean and Deadpool. The character of Harley Quinn is a straight ripoff of Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow, whereas the narrative and the wonky world of Birds of Prey is a straight ripoff of Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool. But despite copying cinematic greats, Birds of Prey still manages to fail, because it completely misses the point of what makes Pirates and Deadpool great. So, in today’s episode of Anatomy of a Failure, lets see how that happened and how DC/DCEU looks once again to be taking a backseat to Marvel/MCU.
Also known as: Birds of Prey (unofficial title), Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey (re-branded title) Release Date: January 25th, 2020 (Mexico City premiere) Directed by: Cathy Yan Written by: Christina Hodson Based on: characters by DC Comics Music by: Daniel Pemberton Cast: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco, Ali Wong, Ewan McGregor, Steven Williams
Clubhouse Pictures, LuckyChap Entertainment, DC Entertainment, Kroll & Co. Entertainment, Warner Bros., 109 Minutes
“Here’s the thing, Romy baby: your protection is based on the fact that people are scared of you. Just like they’re scared of Mr. J. But I’m the one they should be scared of! Not you, not Mr.J! Because I’m Harley Fucking Quinn!” – Harley Quinn
This movie’s title was so bad that they actually changed it after it was in theaters for only a week, where it didn’t perform up to expectations. But I don’t think that the stupid, pretentious, cutesy pie title was the only problem with the movie.
To start, I’ve never seen a motion picture be so self unaware. It tries so hard to be edgy, cool and original all while being a poor attempt at making a Deadpool movie for girls. It’s pretty obvious how blatantly this is trying to channel the Deadpool mojo that it deflates anything good within the picture.
Additionally, while this is visually stunning, overly vivid with a giallo style color palate, the choppy editing and amateur shot framing makes this feel like a 109 minute music video. And like all big studio movies that are trying to be cool, the music isn’t even that good, as it recycles exactly the same type of tunes you’d expect from yesteryear while also sprinkling in awful modern covers of classic hits that don’t really work. In short, it’s predictable as fuck.
When it comes to the characters, other than Harley Quinn, this film doesn’t really understand any of them. Who the fuck wrote this? Have they read a comic about any of these characters? I’m supposed to believe that this Cassandra Cain will eventually become a Batgirl? Not to be an asshole but they made her look like Rose Tico cosplaying as Short Round. That’s not the actresses fault, just like it wasn’t Kelly Marie-Tran’s fault that Rose Tico looked like a frumpy baked potato with the dumbest, most unappealing haircut in Star Wars history.
But look at this film’s version of Roman Sionis a.k.a. Black Mask, a villain I have always loved. This is absolutely not who that character is. Granted, I enjoyed Ewan McGregor in this, as well as the character, but he didn’t need to be Black Mask, he could’ve just been an eccentric Gotham City mob boss. There is nothing about him that even resembles Black Mask, other than he puts on a Black Mask for about ten minutes before taking it off again.
Ewan McGregor was the best thing in this film, which is funny when you think about it, as this had a very clear agenda. But I’ll get to that further into this review.
On top of that, Victor Zsasz wasn’t Zsasv, Black Canary wasn’t Black Canary, Renee Montoya was only about halfway there and the Huntress was sort of accurate but completely unlikable and awkward.
Beyond that, this is a movie that doesn’t seem to know what it wants to say. Well, it is very clear that it wants to communicate that all men are pieces of shit, as every single man in this movie are portrayed as pieces of shit, even the fatherly old Asian guy that lets Harley live upstairs.
So the man hate is clear, which is odd because no matter how hard this movie tries to appeal to women, it’s audience was still mostly men. But this is typical of the agenda-driven Hollywood nowadays. But hey, maybe this COVID-19 shit will be a wake up call for studios to actually give a shit about what their audiences want. Probably not, though, as their heads are so far up their ass that they are on a steady diet of their own shit.
The part of the message that isn’t clear is that this can’t decide between whether or not women should stick together or fuck each other over and go solo. I guess teaming up is all fun when you’re sticking it to the patriarchy but once the men are out of the way, they just act like the men they were trying to beat. It’s childish, boring, predictable and lame.
And like all things in entertainment that have this sort of pro-feminist agenda, the story wants to preach self-confidence and self-reliance but then it constantly has its characters telling each other that they’re cool and how much they are all each other’s besties. Is this what women are? Not in my experience but what do I know, I have a penis.
Anyway, confident, self-sufficient and badass women don’t need constant reassurance that they’re cool and likable. That’s not what confident, self-sufficient and badass is. But that’s what this movie is teaching the young girls who may see this picture.
For the first third of this film, I was really happy with its pacing and thought that it was flying by. But then, once you get to the part where the story starts jumping around in the timeline (another way it was trying to be Deadpool), things just went off the rails and the film became sloppy. There was no reason to do this and frankly, it’s one of the things I didn’t like about Deadpool. After this whole section of the film, the pacing didn’t pick up or recover and everything became a slog to get through.
I think that a lot of the problem with this movie is that it hired an inexperienced director. This is something that had the potential to be a massive franchise, featuring a big star playing a character that is one of the most popular in all of pop culture. But the studio didn’t take this seriously enough, so why should any of us?
It also didn’t help that the director, before this came out, was bragging about the heroes not using guns (they do) and just kicking the patriarchy’s ass. She also admitted to not being a fan of comics.
Maybe it’s time for these companies to start hiring creatives that know the material, are passionate about it and thus, want to make the best representation of what these characters and stories should be.
And they wonder why box office numbers were already decreasing before COVID-19.
Rating: 4.5/10 Pairs well with: the other lackluster DC Comics movies of recent memory.
Also known as: The Thing: The Beginning (working title) Release Date: October 10th, 2011 (Universal City premiere) Directed by: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. Written by: Eric Heisserer Based on:Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell Music by: Marco Beltrami Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Eric Christian Olsen
Morgan Creek Entertainment, Universal Pictures, Strike Entertainment, 103 Minutes
“You think they’re gonna pay a bonus for bringing home an alien instead of core samples?” – Colin
While this prequel to 1982’s The Thing, also titled The Thing, is not a bad movie, it is a perfect example of why I will never like CGI monster effects as much as physical, real, practical effects like its predecessor.
If you watch both Things back-to-back, you will see the stark difference between this CGI festival of love and the much more impressive, real feeling effects of John Carpenter’s 1982 masterpiece.
Where the 1982 movie, regardless of how many times I’ve seen it, is still terrifying and a complete and total mindfuck, this 2011 prequel’s special effects look like they’re from a video game. Because of that, they pull you out of the film and its potentially terrifying impact because you’re reminded that this isn’t real and in fact, it’s kind of cartoonish by comparison.
The story here is good, as is the acting, the direction and just about everything else. Well, except for the pacing. Frankly, it’s oddly paced and doesn’t slowly build and escalate in the same way as the 1982 version, which they honestly should’ve just followed because it’s a perfect template on how to build tension at the right speed, in the right way and how to smack the audience in the face with a perfect finale.
Maybe the writers and the director didn’t want to do a complete rehash but they should have. While this is neither a remake nor a reboot, who cares. The reason why The Thing is a perfect movie is because of its flawless narrative framework, as well as its incredible effects that still look good almost forty years later. This Thing doesn’t seem to understand that, so it doesn’t utilize either of those winning techniques and we’re left with something promising on paper but executed like someone was designing cut scenes for a Resident Evil video game.
While I generally liked the story and how it explored the creature a bit more than what we already knew, it kind of goes too far with the battle on the crashed UFO finale. It’s not a big battle and it just follows the two remaining survivors as they decide to go there for some odd reason. They burn the alien and we think the story is done. But we already know that if it were truly dead, we wouldn’t have had a story for the 1982 movie.
So there’s a twist at the end that isn’t all that surprising and for some dumb reason the female lead of the movie survives. Honestly, this is a movie where everyone should’ve died. We shouldn’t have gotten the final girl riding off into the tundra in a snowcat like The Shining.
During the credits, we cut to a sequence that sets up the opening shots of the 1982 film. This part was done pretty well and honestly, at least this movie did a pretty good job of connecting the dots that we only just peaked at in the 1982 version. We see how every victim discovered in the 1982 version died where they were found, as well as seeing how the alien carcass had two faces merged together. I liked that they actually gave enough of a shit to work this stuff into the plot and none of it really felt forced.
Ultimately, this is a decent companion piece to the ’82 picture but it certainly isn’t necessary and honestly, didn’t need to be made. The fan service stuff was neat but the film completely missed its mark due to its failure of understanding the elements that made John Carpenter’s The Thing a perfect horror movie in the first place.
Rating: 6.25/10 Pairs well with: 1982’s The Thing, which this connects to directly with its post-credits scene, as well as other body horror flicks.
Also known as: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life (working title) Release Date: July 27th, 2010 (Canada – Fantasia International Film Festival) Directed by: Edgar Wright Written by: Michael Bacall, Edgar Wright Based on:Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley Music by: Nigel Godrich Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Alison Pill, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman, Brie Larson, Aubrey Plaza, Mae Whitman, Ellen Wong, Nelson Franklin, Thomas Jane, Clifton Collins Jr., Bill Hader (voice)
Universal Pictures, Marc Platt Productions, Big Talk Productions, 112 Minutes
“When I’m around you, I kind of feel like I’m on drugs. Not that I do drugs. Unless you do drugs, in which case I do them all the time. All of them.” – Scott Pilgrim
I haven’t watched this since it came out in theaters. From memory, I liked it at the time but strangely, I’ve never felt the urge to rewatch it until now, nine years later. And that was mainly just to review it, as I’m a fan of Edgar Wright’s work and Scott Pilgrim still seems to be beloved by comic book fans after all this time.
Well, I didn’t really enjoy it as much as I had hoped. Maybe I’m older, or since I’ve seen this, I sort of know what to expect from it so the razzle dazzle doesn’t awe me as it once did or maybe it just isn’t a good movie as far as its story, characters and purpose goes.
To start, this is an amazing looking picture on its surface. I really dig that the filmmakers committed to the bit and gave us a true live action version of the comic without trying to rework it into something more realistic. The special effects are spectacular, the musical numbers are cool and this film is really impressive in that regard. I love it for its style and how it is all conveyed on screen.
However, the whole story is focused on one of the worst romances I have ever had to sit through in a film. Scott is obsessed with Ramona, but she acts like that girl who is too cool for everyone at all the parties she feels the need to keep going to. But really, she’s just a broken person with bad hair that delivers packages for Amazon Canada like a total twentysomething normie just trying to pay for hair dye, thrift shop clothes, avocado toast and her 1/9th of the rent.
Still, her personality is off putting as fuck but then so is Scott’s, as he just acts like whatever he thinks she wants and he even treats his current girlfriend like shit and doesn’t really seem to know who he is, what he wants or where he’s going. He just knows that he’s obsessed over some hipster douche with weird hair and now has to fight a bunch of her exes in order to maybe date her. But she is so indifferent and noncommittal for almost the entire picture that Scott just comes off as a dopey puppy that needs to have his heart crushed.
Normally I wouldn’t be so harsh on something like this but it is this budding relationship that is the framework for the entire narrative. Sad pussy puts it all on the line for salty nihilist weirdo bitch that kinda maybe likes him right this minute but has no idea how she will feel in five minutes.
There is no lesson to be learned on this journey.
I’ve never read the comic because I don’t have much interest in it but I hope the relationship in the source material isn’t this shallow and stupid.
The only reason why this doesn’t get a terrible rating from me is that the visuals and the style of this film are so alluring and perfectly presented in the film medium that the picture does put me in awe in that regard. This is a really cool and fun movie to look at and I dig the music. The surface is superb, it just turns to crap when you get past the polish, bright lights and groovy tunes.
Rating: 6/10 Pairs well with: Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, as well as the Kick Ass movies and Zombieland.
Also known as: Black X-Mas (DVD box title), Noël Noir (French Canadian), Negra Navidad (Spain) Release Date: December 15th, 2006 (UK, Ireland, Poland) Directed by: Glen Morgan Written by: Glen Morgan Based on:Black Christmas by A. Roy Moore Music by: Shirley Walker Cast: Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Hudson, Lacey Chabert, Kristen Cloke, Andrea Martin
“I’m sorry, but that-that fuckin’ voice, that was not Megan or Kyle. That was the fucking devil, and he was not talking to us, he was talking to Billy.” – Melissa Kitt
Being a huge fan of the original Black Christmas, I never really wanted to see this remake, which I heard was a steaming pile of shit. Well, it is a steaming pile of shit but I figured that a lot of time has passed since it came out and it is just after Christmas and I was tired of watching the same old stuff, year after year. Frankly, I’ve got my holiday movie staples and I plowed through them all pretty quickly this holiday season. Plus, sometimes I do watch shitty movies in order to review them. Sometimes I like torturing myself with bad films. Okay, all the time. Whatever.
I guess there are two positives I can say about this film. One, is that it tried to be ambitious and original with its story, expanding on the simplicity of the original. Two, I thought the cinematography and the lighting were well done.
But let me take that first example and tear it apart because even though ambition is good, poor execution can make it blow up in your face and that’s exactly what happened here. You see, this isn’t a film that needed to be expanded on. Nope. The first one worked because of its simplicity and its straightforward story. It had some mystery to it, you never really saw the killer except for an eye and his madness didn’t need to be justified by beating the audience over the head like a dead horse with an unnecessary and overly complicated backstory. The killer is yellow because he was born with a rare liver condition?! Huh?! Seriously, what?! And now there is a one-eyed sister with Hulk like strength?! Were they trying to ripoff the Yellow Bastard from Sin City, which had come out a year before this.
The film stars a who’s who of mid-’00s starlets: Katie Cassidy, Lacey Chabert, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Michelle “where the hell did she go” Trachtenberg. Cassidy, as much as I love her on Arrow, really had a reputation for being in poor horror classic remakes, between this, A Nightmare On Elm Street and When A Stranger Calls. I hope she’s gotten that out of her system because she’s pretty solid as Black Canary or whoever the hell she is on Arrow now.
Andrea Martin, who appeared in the original, returned for this. I hope she regrets her decision and she at least got a nice check for her role in this turkey turd.
This movie is an abomination: period. I’d rather enter myself into a holiday fruitcake eating contest than ever watch this thing again.
This obviously needs to be ran through the Cinespiria Shitometer. The results read,”Type 4 Stool: Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft.”
While I have seen both Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror and Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof multiple times, I never got to see the full-length version of Grindhouse until now.
When it came out in 2007, only one theater near me carried it and it wasn’t there very long, so I missed it. Also, the films were released separately, as expanded editions, when they hit store shelves. There wasn’t a full version of Grindhouse available after its theatrical run.
When I subscribed to Starz via my Amazon Fire Stick, I saw that the full version of the movie was available and thus, I could finally rectify this cinematic injustice. I’m really glad that I did because these films actually play much better in this format, as double-billed companion pieces to one another.
Plus, I finally got to see the trailers, as a part of this overall experience, even though I have seen them on YouTube multiple times since 2007.
Robert Rodriguez’s trailer for Machete was a highlight of the film and it was so good that it became its own motion picture and then expanded into a franchise. Rob Zombie’s Werewolf Women of the SS trailer was interesting enough, as a trailer, but doesn’t seem like something that will work as a full-length feature. The same can be said for Edgar Wright’s Don’t. Now Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving should be made into a full-length slasher film in the same vein as Machete. Roth has hinted at making it and I hope he eventually does.
This film also spawned a contest for fans to make fake trailers in the grindhouse style. This lead to the full-length feature Hobo With A Shotgun, which was a hell of a lot of fun. I need to re-watch it and review it in the near future.
Moving beyond the fake trailers, we have the two big films that make up the bulk of the Grindhouse experience. So let me get into each film and discuss them on their own.
Planet Terror (2007):
Release Date: April 6th, 2007 Directed by: Robert Rodriguez Written by: Robert Rodriguez Music by: Robert Rodriguez Cast: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey, Josh Brolin, Marley Shelton, Stacy Ferguson, Bruce Willis, Naveen Andrews, Electra Avellan, Elise Avellan, Quentin Tarantino, Tom Savini, Michael Parks
Rodriguez International Pictures, Troublemaker Studios, Dimension Films, 103 Minutes
“Now you’ve got a gal in your wrecked truck with a missing leg? A missing leg that’s now missing?” – Sheriff Hague
Planet Terror has always been my favorite of the two movies in Grindhouse. That still stands, as I love just about everything about it. It may even be my favorite Robert Rodriguez picture but it is a close race between this, From Dusk Till Dawn, Machete and Once Upon A Time In Mexico.
The film is essentially a zombie outbreak movie but it is really gross, even for that genre. People’s faces start bubbling into puss and there is a lot of blood and other strange bodily fluids oozing out of people throughout the movie. There are also lots of severed testicles and a melting penis. It’s a gross movie but it is still well done and it doesn’t overtake the picture making it a mindless gore festival.
Planet Terror has a lot of depth and character development for a movie loaded with a ton of people. Everyone has an interesting story and it is cool seeing it all play out as these people eventually come together in an effort to escape the growing threat of a zombie apocalypse.
It also really fits the old school 1970s exploitation style of horror pictures that populated grindhouse theaters in big cities. The cinematography really captures the right vibe and kudos to the extra graininess and inconsistent look of different shots in the same sequences.
The practical effects also work well in making this film fit the grindhouse mold. Sometimes there is obvious CGI and it is a reminder that this isn’t a true 70s grindhouse picture but it isn’t a distraction and it serves its purpose well enough.
The cast is also phenomenal. I remember that when I first saw this, that I hoped it would open up doors for Freddy Rodriguez. He’s still not anywhere close to being a household name but his character of El Wray should reappear in some way, in some other Rodriguez picture. He’s a guy too cool to just be confined to this one movie.
This is also my favorite thing that Rose McGowan has ever done. Plus you get a very evil Josh Brolin, an enchanting Marley Shelton, a bad ass Michael Biehn, plus Michael Parks, Tom Savini, Bruce Willis, Lost‘s Naveen Andrews and Quentin Tarantino as his most despicable character to date. Jeff Fahey, who is always stellar, really kills it in this movie as J.T. the Texas B-B-Q king. Also, Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas has never looked better.
Planet Terror is unique, even for a film in a tired genre. It takes the zombie formula and ups the ante in every way possible. Rodriguez made a fine picture that should be mentioned alongside other great zombie classics.
Death Proof (2007):
Release Date: April 6th, 2007 Directed by: Quentin Tarantino Written by: Quentin Tarantino Music by: Rachel Levy, Jack Nitzsche, Mary Ramos Cast: Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd, Rose McGowan, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Tracie Thoms, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Zoe Bell, Eli Roth, Quentin Tarantino, Michael Parks, James Parks, Marley Shelton
“Because it was a fifty fifty shot on wheter you’d be going left or right. You see we’re both going left. You could have just as easily been going left, too. And if that was the case… It would have been a while before you started getting scared. But since you’re going the other way, I’m afraid you’re gonna have to start getting scared… immediately!” – Stuntman Mike
When I first saw Death Proof, it didn’t resonate with me. I mean, I enjoyed it enough but it just didn’t compare to the work that Quentin Tarantino did before it. I still feel this way but I have more of an appreciation for the film now. Also, seeing it in the Grindhouse format, which is more condensed, serves the film better.
The problem I initially had with the film, and some of Tarantino’s other pictures, is that it is way too talky. Sure, he writes great dialogue but sometimes it can run on for far too long. Death Proof in its longer running time falls victim to this. The condensed Grindhouse version, however, is better balanced.
Another problem with the film, is that many of the characters just aren’t likable. This is especially true for the first group of girls we meet. At least the second group felt more like friends and their conversations came across as more natural and authentic.
Kurt Russell initially knocks it out of the park as the killer driver, Stuntman Mike. However, as the film and his character evolves, he completely loses the cool bad ass shtick and becomes a giant whining weeny. His character transformation isn’t a bad thing, it is just how it is executed that makes it a problem.
The one thing that really makes this a cool picture, however, is the cars and the stunts. Tarantino selected some seriously bad ass automobiles that were homages to films that influenced him. The stunt work and action was amazing and the sequence of the first major accident was shot and executed stupendously.
The problem with the film, being that it is supposed to be a grindhouse throwback, is that it needed more balls-to-the-wall mayhem and less chit chat. The fact that this has a lot more dialogue than Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror but somehow can’t develop characters as well is pretty baffling. Tarantino would just rather focus on cool conversations on subjects that directly interest him than to have any sort of meaningful character development. You just don’t care about these people in the same way you care about those in Planet Terror.
Regardless of my criticisms, I do still like this movie. But to be honest, I still think it is the worst film in Quentin Tarantino’s oeuvre. Granted, that doesn’t mean much, as everything he’s done has been fairly great in some way.
In the end, this is still entertaining as hell and who doesn’t love muscle car chaos and kick ass chicks?
Additional directorial credits:
Robert Rodriguez – Machete trailer
Rob Zombie – Werewolf Women of the SS trailer
Edgar Wright – Don’t trailer
Eli Roth – Thanksgiving trailer
Additional acting credits from the fake trailer segments: Danny Trejo, Nicolas Cage, Sheri Moon Zombie, Cheech Marin, Udo Kier, Tom Towles, Sybil Danning, Bill Moseley, Will Arnett, Nick Frost, Rafe Spall, Jason Issacs, Simon Pegg, Peter Serafinowicz
Release Date: March 8th, 2016 (New York City Premiere) Directed by: Dan Trachtenberg Written by: Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken, Damien Chazelle Music by: Bear McCreary Cast: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.
Bad Robot Productions, Paramount Pictures, 103 Minutes
I finally got around to seeing this. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of Cloverfield and I’m not keen on the found footage style of filmmaking. Considering that this wasn’t shot like that and that it was a different story entirely, I wanted to give it a shot. Plus, it had John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in it.
For the most part, this film takes place in one small location. It has to be a hard feat to create an engaging picture without the use of a broader environment. 10 Cloverfield Lane makes good use of its small space though. It was an entertaining movie and kept you captivated throughout.
The film only uses three actors, apart from a small scene with someone else appearing briefly. Overall, it is a very minimalist experience. But less is more with this movie, as the actors carrying the load are quite capable.
The story sees Winstead’s Michelle get into a bad car accident. She wakes up chained to a wall. Goodman’s Howard reveals himself and tells her that they are in a bunker, there is no help outside and that there was some sort of attack. Michelle fights back and doesn’t accept what Howard tells her, until she gets to the window to the outside and sees things for herself. John Gallagher, Jr. plays Emmett, an employee of Howard’s that also lives in the bunker. As time goes on, Howard becomes more and more unhinged and dangerous. Michelle and Emmett then conspire to get out of the bunker. The bulk of the film deals with getting outside and being free of Howard. However, once outside, things take a really strange twist, which is where this film becomes an extension of J.J. Abrams’ Cloverfield brand.
I liked this picture for the most part. The real story is the conflict between the three people in the bunker; that is the real movie here. Once that part is resolved and the film goes outside, the real movie is over. What we get next is fifteen minutes of sci-fi craziness that just feels entirely out of place. This film spent 90 percent of its time being a really great thriller and then gives us 10 percent that is a totally different film. Sure, you anticipate something outside of the bunker but emotionally, that was secondary to the situation inside. For me, it just didn’t fit. And to someone who might not make the connection to Cloverfield, a film that is eight years older than this one and now kind of forgotten, they will probably be caught off guard. There just isn’t really a reason to go the route that they do with the ending. It feels cheap and stupid and the threats outside aren’t that cool looking to begin with.
10 Cloverfield Lane, despite finding itself in Bizarro World at the end, is still a solid movie. Goodman was fantastic and completely scary, Winstead put in some of her best acting to date and Gallagher was really likable as Emmett. It probably would have been a better film overall, had the emergence from the bunker been met with a far off scene of what was outside, as opposed to being immediately overwhelmed by it. The film nailed the “less is more” concept but then ignored it at the very end.