Vids I Dig 301: The Critical Drinker: The Drinker Recommends – ‘Unforgiven’

From The Critical Drinker’s YouTube description: Grab your whisky and six-shooter, because we’re going into the Wild West with this one, as I review one of my favourite Westerns of all time – Unforgiven.

Film Review: Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Release Date: August 11th, 2011 (Los Angeles premiere)
Directed by: Marcus Nispel
Written by: Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, Sean Hood
Based on: Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard
Music by: Tyler Bates
Cast: Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, Rose McGowan, Saïd Taghmaoui, Leo Howard, Bob Sapp, Ron Perlman, Nathan Jones, Morgan Freeman (narrator)

Lionsgate, Millennium Films, Cinema Vehicle Services, 113 Minutes

Review:

“I live, I love, I slay, and I am content.” – Conan

I put off watching this for a really long time. But finally, after nine years of ignoring this movie, I said, “fuck it!” and fired it up because it was free on Prime Video and because I’m a hardcore fan of the Conan franchise. Also, I believe that this is the only film based off of Robert E. Howard’s literary work that I hadn’t seen.

It’s actually not as bad as people led me to believe but it is far from a good movie and it’s honestly, really fucking boring.

Jason Momoa was a decent choice for the role of Conan but I feel like he was chosen a few years too early, as he hadn’t reached the level of fame that he has now and because he hadn’t developed more as an actor. He’s got some of his charm here but it is nowhere near as much as it was in 2018’s Aquaman.

That being said, if they made a Conan movie with him now, I’m pretty sure it would do really well. And hopefully, it would be better than this was, as it didn’t seem to understand what it needed to be to be successful.

The main issue with this movie is it doesn’t feel larger than life. It relies so heavily on CGI and green screen that it lacks the scope and scale the Schwarzenegger Conan movies had. Hell, 1985’s Red Sonja looks much more grandiose than this digital cartoon that looks more like a syndicated television show than a blockbuster movie featuring one of the biggest and greatest literary and comic book heroes of all-time.

Adding to that problem, Conan only really tangles with one monster in this movie. Now it doesn’t need to be overflowing with mythic beasts but it should take more cues from the books and comics, which saw Conan come face to face with big creatures a lot more often than he does in this picture.

Now I did like the casting of Rachel Nichols as the female love interest of Conan and I thought that Nichols and Momoa had pretty good chemistry but overall, they didn’t get much to work with between the mundane script and uninspiring story.

On the other side of the coin, the villains felt completely wasted.

I just wasn’t feeling Rose McGowan as the witch character and her performance here borderlined on cringe, which I found surprising as she is typically pretty good. But I think that the script failed her, as did the overall look of the character.

As far as Stephen Lang goes, how do you take the guy that stole the show and was really the only good thing about Avatar, and make him so lame and generic? Who the fuck was this guy? Why the fuck should I care? He just looks like a boss from the second level of a side scrolling beat’em up game from the ’80s.

I also thought the mask was stupid and they could’ve come up with a much better MacGuffin than that. I mean, there are countless books and comics to pull material from and you basically come up with Gran Naniwa’s crab mask? For those that don’t know, he was a goofy comedy wrestler from Japan in the ’90s: Google that fucker. Side note: he was actually really entertaining, unlike this movie.

Conan the Barbarian was hard to get through. I wanted to turn it off just about every three minutes. I had to watch it in spurts of twenty-to-thirty minutes because it was dreadfully slow, terribly lame and didn’t feel as badass as something with the Conan name on it should.

But I am definitely not against giving Jason Momoa another shot as the character. The studio just needs to get their shit together and give fans something worthy of the Conan brand.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: other modern sword and sorcery films.

Film Review: Hard Rain (1998)

Also known as: The Flood (working title)
Release Date: January 16th, 1998
Directed by: Mikael Salomon
Written by: Graham Yost
Music by: Christopher Young
Cast: Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater, Randy Quaid, Minnie Driver, Edward Asner, Richard Dysart, Betty White, Ricky Harris

UGC-PH, Tele-Munchen, BBC, Nordisk Film, Marubeni, Toho, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, Mutual Film Company, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, 96 Minutes

Review:

“Look! We just want the money! You guys can walk away, we won’t kill you!” – Jim

This film has more studios, distributors and countries involved in its creation than I have ever seen. Okay, maybe not ever but there is a whole shit ton of people behind this little action movie.

It also has a pretty big cast for a movie about a town vacated due to massive flooding. But the big cast of characters was actually a benefit as this movie has so many twists, turns and character morality shifts that at its core, this is very much film-noir.

Christian Slater plays an armored truck guard. He and his older mentor, played by Edward Asner, get stuck in the flood waters as they are transporting three million dollars from the small town’s bank to safety. They are quickly overcome by a group of thieves, led by Morgan Freeman. Asner’s character is killed in the initial confrontation but Slater escapes and hides the money away in a tomb. As the water rises further, Slater is on the run from Freeman’s gang, who have acquired boats and jet skis to more easily navigate the flooded city streets.

The town is also protected by a three man police force led by Randy Quaid. They seem like a heroic lot but as the film progresses and greed takes over the hearts of nearly everyone in the film, we see the worst come out in those tasked with keeping the peace.

Minnie Driver is thrown into the film because you need eye candy and someone for the hero to try and hook up with. You also have an elderly couple who stayed behind, played by the great Betty White and Richard Dysart. There is also the town’s dam operator, played by Wayne Duvall.

Hard Rain is a guilty pleasure of mine. I know it isn’t a good movie but it is great, mindless fun for ninety minutes. The action is good, there are a lot of layers to the story and there really isn’t a dull moment. I can’t say that the script is good either but at least the plot moves swiftly, offers up some decent surprises and is interesting enough to keep one engaged.

The highlight of the film is the three male leads, all of whom played their parts well and seemed to be having fun with the material.

This is a quintessential ’90s mid-budget action picture. It doesn’t try to do too much and stays pretty grounded in reality. The premise made for an ambitious picture, especially in regards to how much water was needed to create the scenes, but it never felt over the top or ridiculous. The shootout inside the church is marvelously executed and still looks good today.

This is just a fun movie with a good cast that I have to revisit once in awhile.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: Broken Arrow, another Christian Slater action film from the same era.

Film Review: Lucy (2014)

Release Date: July 25th, 2014 (US)
Directed by: Luc Besson
Written by: Luc Besson
Music by: Eric Serra
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-sik, Amr Waked

EuropaCorp, TF1 Films Production, Canal+, Universal Pictures, 90 Minutes

Review:

I went into this film anticipating having problems with it. I did.

It is no secret, even from just watching the trailer, that this film is chock-full of really bad science. Actually, atrocious science.

You see, the whole film rides on the plot point that human beings only use 10 percent of their brain. The film explores what would happen if human beings could use more than that or even reach 100 percent, which is what does happen in the end of this film.

Why is this bad science? Well, you should already know the answer to that but if you don’t, the 10 percent thing is a myth and it is a misunderstanding of the fact that only about 10 percent of a brain’s cells are neurons. Neurons are the important working bits of your brain. You do use them all. The other 90 percent of your brain is made up of glial cells that act as a support system for the neurons. So the other 90 percent supports the 10 percent and thus, you are already using 100 percent of your brain. How this myth became “fact” to many people is kind of astounding but when we live in a world where people get their information from memes and Twitter, you can see the problem.

But I get that it is supposed to be just some mindless action film. Right?… Right?

Well, not really.

The film starts to take itself too seriously, as it comes across as if it is trying to show how smart of a film it is conceptually. I can only assume that the director Luc Besson has never picked up a science book in his life, as this feels like it was inspired from a conversation between two burnouts stoned out of their everliving minds. And not only does he not know how the brain works, he also doesn’t know jack shit about matter. This is important to point out, as matter manipulation becomes a major plot point.

It kind of disappoints me that Morgan Freeman and Scarlett Johansson would even touch this script, let alone do this film. Maybe they just wanted to work with Besson, whose early work was pretty stellar. He has kind of fallen from his earlier grace.

If this film had just been a straight up action film with Johansson as a bad ass, it would’ve probably been pretty good. Hell, it could’ve played like a Black Widow solo film. Instead, it played like a film written by a middle schooler that was able to get a decent budget. Then again, the CGI bounced back from really good to shitty from scene-to-scene so maybe the budget went over somewhere.

From an acting standpoint, Morgan Freeman was typical Morgan Freeman. Scarlett Johansson was good at times but once her brain power started increasing, she just stared off into space like a zombie and tilted her head every ten seconds like a puppy hearing a weird sound.

I tried to ignore the bad science and even when I did, the film was just so pitiful that it didn’t really matter.

“Hey, bro! You gotta suspend disbelief!”

“How? By only using 10 percent of my brain?”

Rating: 1/10