Film Review: Tank Girl (1995)

Release Date: March 31st, 1995
Directed by: Rachel Talalay
Written by: Tedi Sarafian
Based on: Tank Girl by Alan Martin, Jamie Hewlett
Music by: Graeme Revell
Cast: Lori Petty, Ice-T, Naomi Watts, Malcolm McDowell, Jeff Kober, Reg E. Cathey, Scott Coffey, Iggy Pop, James Hong, Doug Jones, Frank Welker (voice)

Image Comics, Trilogy Entertainment, United Artists, 104 Minutes

Review:

“Look, it’s been swell, but the swelling’s gone down.” – Tank Girl

While Lori Petty was a great choice to play Tank Girl, this is a pretty awful movie that I’ve never been a fan of.

The concept is cool but the execution of it was terrible in just about every way.

I will say that I like the general look and aesthetic of the movie but it’s the clunky and unfunny script that really drags this concept down into the mud and drowns it before it has a chance to save itself.

The jokes never land and that’s not Petty’s fault, as she’s working with the script they gave her. And honestly, I have to give her props for really giving this her all, as she brings her A-game but basically wastes it in what should have been a really cool flick that could’ve even spawned a franchise had it been handled much better.

I also think the direction is a big problem too. I’ve never been a big fan of Rachel Talalay’s film work and that started with the abysmally bad Freddy’s Dead, which truly derailed the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise. By this point, nearly a half decade later, she still hadn’t found her footing as a director.

Now I do generally like most of the characters in this but you’ve got Malcolm McDowell and yet, he’s severely underutilized and it feels like he’s barely in the film other than about three key scenes.

Honestly, this is just disappointing and the source material could’ve been harvested much, much better.

Side note: this is the cutest Naomi Watts ever was. I think I watched this shit movie more times than I should’ve in my teens because I was crushing so hard on Jet Girl.

Rating: 4/10
Pairs well with: other sci-fi B-movies of the early-to-mid ’90s. Especially, those based on comics or video games.

Film Review: American Psycho (2000)

Release Date: January 21st, 2000 (Sundance)
Directed by: Mary Harron
Written by: Mary Harron, Guinevere Turner
Based on: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Music by: John Cale
Cast: Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto, Josh Lucas, Samantha Mathis, Matt Ross, Bill Sage, Chloe Sevigny, Cara Seymour, Justin Theroux, Guinevere Turner, Reg E. Cathey, Reese Witherspoon, Krista Sutton

Am Psycho Productions, Edward R. Pressman Film, Lions Gate Films, 101 Minutes

Review:

“I like to dissect girls. Did you know I’m utterly insane?” – Patrick Bateman

I used to dig the hell out of this movie back when it was still fairly new. But I was also in my early twenties and just coming out of the edgy boi ’90s. Also, I hadn’t read the book before I saw the film.

Having now read the book, this motion picture adaptation is a real disappointment. I guess the book was so edgy and gruesome that a lot of it had to be left out but honestly, why make the movie at all then?

Now I am a fan of the acting in this, which is really solid from top-to-bottom, and this helped solidify Christian Bale as one of my favorite actors of the ’00s. I especially liked Willem Dafoe in this, as he worked well being only one of two characters grounded in any sort of reality.

While this movie is bizarre and I imagine still entertaining on a first viewing, for me, it doesn’t hold up tremendously well. It kind of reminds me of David Lynch’s adaptation of Dune, in that it’s a collection of scenes from bigger, richer source material. Source material that needs to be read and understood to actually get the full effect of the story.

However, I guess, if one hasn’t read the book, they don’t really know what they’re missing, as was the case with myself back in 2000. And at least this is less complex than Dune.

The overall narrative of the film seems like it’s spotty and full of holes, though. You never really get to know anyone in the film but since they’re all superficial and inauthentic, seen through the eyes of an unreliable narrator, I guess it doesn’t break the picture. This really just feels like random scenes strung together and since it’s not clear what’s reality and what’s not, it works in its own weird way. The problem I have with it, though, is that it could’ve worked much better, as it did in the original novel.

It’s been years since I’ve seen this and it sucks that it didn’t live up to my memories of it but the bits I really like are still great when you cut them out of the larger body of work and just see them as scenes.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: other movies based on Bret Easton Ellis novels: The Rules of Attraction and Less Than Zero.

Film Review: Se7en (1995)

Also known as: Seven (alternative spelling), The Seven Deadly Sins (working title)
Release Date: September 15th, 1995 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: David Fincher
Written by: Andrew Kevin Walker
Music by: Howard Shore
Cast: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Spacey, John C. McGinley, R. Lee Ermey, Richard Roundtree, Richard Schiff, Mark Boone Junior, Michael Massee, Leland Orser, Hawthorne James, Reg E. Cathey, Charles S. Dutton (uncredited)

Cecchi Gori Pictures, Juno Pix, New Line Cinema, 127 Minutes

Review:

“Wanting people to listen, you can’t just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you’ll notice you’ve got their strict attention.” – John Doe

I was blown away by this movie when I first saw it, back in the ’90s. I would watch it pretty regularly for about ten years. However, it’s been at least a decade since I’ve seen it and even though I knew I loved it, I somehow underestimated it and forgot how great it actually is.

Fincher made a solid trio of movies in a row in the mid-to-late ’90s between this, The Game and what I consider his magnum opus, Fight Club. Being that I still hadn’t reviewed these films, I figured I’d start with the first.

Fincher had a very distinct look with his movies and while it might not appear distinct and unique nowadays, that’s because a lot of less capable directors came in and stole his aesthetic. But imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as they say. I would also add that theft is the weakest form of creativity but if you’re going to steal, steal from the greats.

While I’m not a massive Fincher fan, his later ’90s work is pretty fucking exceptional.

Se7en is well acted, well directed, looks incredible and features a story so dark, fucked up and mesmerizing that it’s hard to turn away from the screen, even if you’ve seen the movie a dozen times.

This motion picture is the result of having all the right people from top-to-bottom, behind and in front of the camera. As far as the actors go, they all played their parts perfectly. They felt like real people in a real situation. The relationships between the characters come across as genuine. I loved that the new partners were at odds with one another but knew they had a job to do in spite of their personal issues and differences in their approach to police work and their philosophies on the universe and our place in it.

The score by Howard Shore is one of the composer’s best and when you really look at his body of work, this included, he’s such a versatile composer that it’s sometimes hard to tell that you’re listening to his music. It’s always good but it never takes over a film and just blends in with it, accenting it in a great way.

Additionally, the songs used throughout the film are great, especially the tracks that were used by David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails, as they both fit absolutely perfectly within this picture’s atmosphere.

There’s nothing bad I can really say about this film. My only really gripe is that I’m not a huge fan of the ending. But I’m a traditionalist that doesn’t want the bad guy to win. While he meets his demise, his plan is executed to perfection and while I knew that Brad Pitt’s character was flawed by his emotions and idealism, there’s still that part of me that wishes he would’ve been stronger. Granted, I’ve never had my wife’s head put into a box. Also, this came out in the edge lord ’90s.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: David Fincher’s other ’90s films not named Alien 3.

Film Review: St. Vincent (2014)

Release Date: September 5th, 2014 (TIFF)
Directed by: Theodore Melfi
Written by: Theodore Melfi
Music by: Theodore Shapiro
Cast: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Howard, Reg E. Cathey

Chernin Entertainment, Crescendo Productions, The Weinstein Company, 102 Minutes

Review:

“You need to defend yourself, or you get mowed down.” – Vincent, “I’m small, if you haven’t noticed.” – Oliver, “Yeah, so was Hitler.” – Vincent, “That’s a horrible comparison.” – Oliver, “Indeed. Making a point, though.” – Vincent

*Written in 2014.

I finally got around to catching this film.

I’m a huge Bill Murray fan but then again, who isn’t? I’m not a fan of Melissa McCarthy though, so I found going into this to be a bit of a double-edged sword.

Well, as expected, Murray was pretty damn awesome. This is one of my favorite dramatic roles that he has played and he still brought the comedy where it was needed. His character was also a bit of a departure from what one is used to in a Murray performance.

In modern years, Bill Murray has essentially played Bill Murray. In this film, as Vincent, he was a pretty complex character that was more than just another Bill Murray caricature. He was a hard edged Vietnam veteran with a strong Brooklyn accent and a backstory that was heartbreaking and heartwarming as it unfolded throughout the movie.

Melissa McCarthy also impressed me in this film. I have to give her props on her mostly dramatic performance and I hope to see more acting from her like this. My issue with her in the past, is that she came off as the female Chris Farley. Everything about her career revolved around comedy based off of her weight. I just find that to be a low form of comedy and not that funny. Additionally, where she isn’t a walking fat joke, she fills the void with lewdness and crassness that has become the norm in modern comedy but just goes to show how shitty modern comedy has become.

Jaeden Lieberher, who plays the boy in the film, acted really well for a kid with a pretty small filmography thus far. His character befriends the grumpy and mean Vincent and it is the relationship between these two that propels this film.

Chris O’Dowd plays a teacher/priest that goes on to expand his acting chops and gives us another great and witty character. Vincent’s pregnant Russian hooker girlfriend is played by Naomi Watts and she is pretty hilarious here. I didn’t even realize it was her until about halfway through the film. Terrence Howard plays an asshole bookie but is almost a forgettable and unnecessary character.

This is a really good picture for Theodore Melfi, a first time feature film director. It’ll be interesting to see what he does next, as this was a stellar first effort. Melfi, with the help of this great cast, gave us one of the best films of the year, in my honest opinion.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: Some of Bill Murray’s other films like The Life AquaticBroken Flowers and Lost In Translation.

TV Review: Luke Cage (2016-2018)

Original Run: September 30th, 2016 – current
Created by: Cheo Hodari Coker
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: Luke Cage by Archie Goodwin, George Tuska, Roy Thomas, John Romita Sr.
Music by: Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad
Cast: Mike Colter, Rosario Dawson, Mahershala Ali, Simone Missick, Theo Rossi, Erik LaRay Harvey, Alfre Woodard, Mustafa Shakir, Gabrielle Dennis, Ron Cephas Jones, Reg E. Cathey, Fab 5 Freddy (cameo), Method Man (cameo)

ABC Studios, Marvel, Netflix, 13 Episodes (so far), 44-65 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

*written in 2016.

Luke Cage was the third of the four Marvel series being produced for Netflix. He is to be a member of the Defenders, who will get a minseries as a team, once all four heroes are introduced in their own series. We’ve already seen Daredevil and Jessica Jones (where Cage actually debuted) and we have Iron Fist coming up after this.

While Luke Cage is a superhero and actually a member of the Avengers in the comics. He is not an Avenger in the show, at least not at the moment. Also, the vibe of his show is much different from the ones before it. This is more of a modern blaxploitation series in its style and story.

Cage gains the power of being indestructible. It is a slow reveal as to how this happened and what it all means but he uses this ability to protect his neighborhood from the criminals that seek to exploit and destroy it. There are actually a few big villains in the show and each gets a good amount of time to be fleshed out and come to life. None of them, however, are as interesting as Mahershala Ali’s Cottonmouth.

In fact, the chemistry between Mike Colter as Luke Cage and Ali is pretty uncanny. They played off of each other very well and their was a real weight to the tension between the two. Unfortunately, Ali is only in about the first half of the season and then the gears shift to the villain Diamondback.

The shifting gears is one of the issues I have with the show. In a way, the first season feels like two condensed seasons of a show compressed down into one. The tension and drama between Cage and Cottonmouth is essentially wiped away, just as it is reaching a really satisfying high. Then the stuff with Diamondback just isn’t as interesting, even if he and Cage have some cool fights.

I also have to mention the awesome work of Alfre Woodard and Theo Rossi, who are both established as villains but they are big baddies to be explored more in the future. They have ties to everything that happens in the first season but are really just there to be a part of a much larger arc that has really just begun.

One thing that is amazing about the show is the score. It is produced by Adrian Younge alongside Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest. Also, the hip-hop tracks that are worked into the show are all pretty much fantastic choices that give the show a gritty New York vibe in the right sort of way. Also, every episode is named after a Gang Starr song. One of the musical highlights is definitely the live performance by Jidenna as he does his song “Long Live the Chief”. Also, look for a stupendous cameo from Method Man of Wu-Tang Clan towards the end of the first season.

Another cool thing about Luke Cage is it spends significant time trying to flesh out Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple, who is the link to all these Defenders related Marvel shows. Dawson and Colter have a good bond and camaraderie that I hope to see explored more in the future.

Luke Cage is pretty good. I don’t enjoy it as much as Jessica Jones and Daredevil, thus far. However, it has promise and looks to be heading in the right direction with what it established in its first season.

Rating: 6.75/10

Film Review: Fantastic Four (2015)

Release Date: August 4th, 2015 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: Josh Trank
Written by: Jeremy Slater, Simon Kinberg, Josh Trank
Based on: Fantastic Four by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Music by: Marco Beltrami, Philip Glass
Cast: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey

Marvel Entertainment, Constantin Film, Marv Films, Robert Kulzer Productions, TSG Entertainment, Kinberg Genre, 20th Century Fox, 100 Minutes

Review:

*originally written in 2015.

“There is no Victor… there is only Doom!” – Victor Domashev

This film has been panned by fans for months, even though it just now came out. Critics have also been panning it now for about a week. So is this film the big shitfest that many people have anticipated?

Well, the photo I used in this review was the most exciting I could find of this film and it is pretty boring and uninspiring (*I replaced this with the poster). But I do like looking at Kate Mara – there she is, to the left. I’m not sure why but something about her is alluring. But I’m a guy and pretty is a weakness for us.

No matter what though, this film can’t be as bad as all of its predecessors, right? This is the third attempt at a live action Fantastic Four film. They should’ve gotten things right on this attempt, right?

The answer is “no.”

But let me start by saying that this film is not as horrible as many people want you to believe. It certainly isn’t worth the 4.4 on IMDb or the 3/10 on JoBlo. It isn’t as bad as other awful comic book films – the worst that come to mind being Catwoman and Elektra. This film was better than the previous Fantastic Four films. Granted, not by much but at least they didn’t fight a hungry fucking space cloud or Doctor Doom on a flying surfboard.

Sure, the final battle in this movie was also horrible, I can’t excuse it. The barren rocky world they were on and the fact that Doctor Doom acted like a false god while telekinetically altering the topography of this planet was reminiscent of the final battle from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, which if you remember, was the absolute worst Star Trek film featuring the original cast. Except, that film was more imaginative and had more soul than this new Fantastic Four. This film had no soul. And if it had a soul, it’d be the soul of a manila folder. Because those are the boringest damn things I can think of.

I don’t hate this movie but more likely than not, I will never watch it again and I hope a sequel is never made. I didn’t like the direction, the dialogue must have been written by a middle school kid and the acting was mostly crap. The sets were boring, the effects were boring, the characters were boring, their costumes were boring and being that bored with everything got pretty boring. If anything, this film was a fantastic bore.

Doctor Doom looked like a humanoid creature made of garbage collected after a rave at a tin foil factory. He also had ridiculous powers that allowed him to telekinetically make people’s heads explode like the aliens from Mars Attacks when they were confronted with Slim Whitman music. Doom could also move the Earth. He was like that shitty villain from season four of Heroes but with godlike powers added in. I’m not even really sure what the hell Doom was – before or after the transformation.

I’m kind of all over the place with this review, as the film was all over the place. My brain is scrambled from this film. Also, my popcorn was shitty.

Anyway, I am already pretty damn bored talking about this boring turd. So I’m going to go get drunk now and hope that the bourbon erases this experience from my memory.

Rating: 2.5/10