Atomic Blonde

Atomic! Blonde! Atomic Blonde! Two words that are powerful, in very different ways, and together make something…about the sum of their parts.

It is a new action mostly film, with promises of sleek designs and fights, with a banging sound and wall to wall fun. It is also being noted as female John Wick, or something like that.

I figured Atomic Blonde would be some cool agent nick name, but it isn’t mentioned at all in the film, so really the title is just…mostly random. Strange, but it wouldn’t be the first time it is done. Sort of a call back to 80’s action films in that regard.

Wall
What a big goddamn symbol of separation. And a wall, there is a wall also in this shot.

In November, 1989, the Berlin Wall was a literal and figurative collapse of the separation between East and West Germany, reuniting the country for the first time in decades. But in this world, it almost never happened.

An MI-6 British operative gained access to a file in a watch that had information on every hidden operative on both sides of the Cold War. It would be devastating for anyone to get their hands on it, as they would gain a big advantage over the others. It getting out might also prolong the Cold War, when it is so close to finishing for once.

And then that operative was killed before he could bring it home, putting it in the hands of a Soviet soldier, who didn’t run back to his country, but is trying to get paid the big bucks for the information. So the UK sends in a new agent, Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), to find the file before it gets in the wrong hands. They also want her to find information on a double agent, who is secretly leaking information to the Soviets. And all of this quickly, before the Cold War heats up.

She is sent with information to trust no one, not even their pseudo informant, David Percival (James McAvoy), a man who has been working both sides of the wall to gain intel to gain power and prestige. But he is also her only hope to really starting to crack the case. They also need to find Spyglass (Eddie Marsan), a code name for an East German intelligence officer who helped make the list and is the only one really with that information.

The majority of the story is told after the events, with Lorraine retelling it back at headquarters, to a head British dude (Toby Jones) and a member of the CIA (John Goodman).

Other bodies in this film include James Faulkner, Roland Møller, Sofia Boutella, Bill Skarsgård, Sam Hargrave, and Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson.

Cover
Man, having a big head of hair and covering your face really helps input a stunt double.

Coming from a person who didn’t find John Wick or its sequel to be perfect films (although wonderful cinematography, and wonderful action), this did not feel up to the same quality that John Wick gave us. But I am not going to compare it to John Wick, that wouldn’t be fair.

Theron was fine as our lead. A very distant protagonist, she had a lot of secrets in her head, and they showed her definitely to be a bad ass. There was an incredible scene that maybe went on 10 minutes as a long take with several fights and sequences that just felt like it would never end. It was wonderful.

But it lacked a whole lot more in the story department. It should have tried a simpler plot, instead this movie gets tangled up in its own threads, and doesn’t give a completely sensible final product. Twists and turns are one thing, but if they end up at the finale and feel forced and a bit of a let down, then the movie just ends with a pitter.

The average review isn’t just for the ending, but mostly for how the story just failed to get me involved in anyway. There were secrets, but ones I rarely cared about. I didn’t try to look for hints, because I knew they would be mostly red herrings.

But the soundtrack was definitely banging. And again, some of the fight scenes were just extremely well choreographed, so if that is all you care about, you will have a good time. I just think who cares? Big deal, I want more.

2 out of 4.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

This is part of Fantasy and Sci-Fi Week at Gorgon Reviews!

I hate Luc Bessson. I probably have said that at least a thousand times in my life at to this point. I have also already said that he hasn’t made anything good since The Fifth Element, which was of course 20 years ago, and relevant to the release of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

Because I went into Valerian and I expected to hate it. I expected it to be somehow a Eurotrash movie, but in Space. I didn’t have any fond reasons to love the leads at all, and was just ready to be scathing. But then I didn’t hate it. I didn’t dislike it either. At the lowest I knew it would be an average rating, but not sure if it could land higher.

I did know that I had to go and rewatch The Fifth Element before I wrote this review. Because in all honesty, I hadn’t seen it since it came out when I was a kid, and I remembered nothing except for the intro scenes. And after going back and watching it, I sort of shrugged me shoulders and sighed, remembering it to be better than that.

Two takeaways from this intro: I guess I only really really like Leon, The Professional from Besson, and I don’t hate Valerian.

Boob Armor
But I did hate how stupid looking they decided to make her armor.

Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are team of space soldier ranger things. They work for some intergalactic agency and have to do missions. In space! Pretty standard police stuff. We get to see them doing some space mission after Valerian wakes up from a space dream where a planet of blue things get wrecked super hard.

From this mission, Valerian and Laureline, gain a sweet pearl of extreme energetic power, and a cool little lizard who makes copies of anything it eats. I think you all can put two and two together to see why this is an intense combination. And this is the cause of all of their problems. Because when they return back to Alpha (aka the City of a Thousand Planets. A floating, giant space station that has inhabitants from all over to create one massive entity in unity), shit starts hitting the fan. A wiped out race of aliens appear and steal the lizard, but they use non lethal means. The main captain is taken and people who have no idea what is going on are in charge.

But don’t worry. We have Valerian and Laureline, who will take turns saving each other, to get to the bottom of this mess.

Also featuring Alain Chabat, Clive Owen, Elizabeth Debicki, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, John Goodman, Kris Wu, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rihanna, Rutger Hauer, and Sam Spruell.

Aliens
Stare deeply into the eyes of the Blue Dhalsim.

I have put off writing this review for over a week. I have reviews that come out next week that I have already written before this one, it is just so hard.

The thoughts I had when I left the theater: Well, I don’t hate it. But do I love it? Is it average?

It is so damn hard to tell. There is quite a lot for someone to like in this film, and almost an equal number to dislike. So…Here…we…go!

Dislikes:

  • DeHaan is not a bad actor, but he is not great in this film. Far too much of his dialogue is spent trying to badly woo Delevingne and it just drags on. His voice is way too gruff for his boyish face, like he is trying to play Batman. He worked for A Cure For Wellness, but it is hard to like him here.
  • Delevingne, for the most part, is a bad actress. She isn’t great here either, but they don’t give her a lot to work with. Her character is weakly written, despite being an integral part of the team. Her name should be part of the movie, not just focused on the boy hero. But also, it is like her role is one entire eye roll.
  • Goodman was wasted in this film, his voice was great for the character, but they implied he would have a bigger impact on the movie and then he…never came back.
  • The Alpha station got really annoying. All of these special biomes and places to live, so of course we have a couple parts of the plot where our characters can rush through EVERY SINGLE ONE MENTIONED. Doing the “look at all the stuff in here!” and making sure it all matters instead of just keeping it small scale and letting stuff happen in the future. I had a similar issue with Zootopia, all these biomes, MAKE SURE WE HIT THEM ALL.
  • Related to points 1 and 2, Delevingne and DeHaan had terrible chemistry.

Likes:

  • What a goddamn introduction to he film. A nice, beach and ocean planet. A tribe of native aliens. In my screener there was a mess up with the intro, where we couldn’t see their dialogue and subtitles, and guess what, IT WASN’T NECESSARY. A story was told, it was awe inspiring, it was great, quality, film.
  • The CGI for the most part was always on par as well. A ton of visual effects and they helped the universe, they didn’t hurt it. A lot of unique elements too, maybe from the comic, maybe not, but it was pleasing to look at.
  • The plot wasn’t terrible. It had quite a few good elements and a lot of random twists in the middle. No one would guess where this film is going, even if you could guess where it ends.
  • This hurts to say this, which makes it more true. Rihanna was in this film, and her character was fun. It was fun and Rihanna was completely fine in it. She didn’t take away from the movie, although how she exited the movie seemed unnecessary.

Honestly, I could keep going on and on about this movie. What I am left with is realizing this is a step in the right direction for Besson. Another of these films with a more focused story and planet or planets could be amazing. And I wouldn’t even care if he replaced the leads, I swear. It is not terrible, despite pretty bad elements. It is just totally okay.

2 out of 4.

Patriots Day

I don’t really get Peter Berg. He is such an interesting person, but I don’t get him.

He gave us the Friday Night Lights TV series, and for that, I can thank him. Despite problems during the writer’s strike, we still got an overall solid project that came from a solid film.

And then he did Hancock, which had a bad second half. Then he did Battleship. The real low point. After that, he began to have his Marky Mark obsession, as Patriots Day is the third “real story” film he has done with the singer turned actor in a row. I liked Lone Soldier. I was disappointed with Deepwater Horizon. And Patriots Day seemed like something that was coming out way too soon after the events.

And somehow these last two movies have come out within just a few months of each other. Calm down Berg!

Gun
This time Mark has an average amount of guns, right in between the other two films.

Patriot’s Day of course is a film, detailing the events of the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013, about three and a half years old when the film about it came out. Our main character is Sergeant Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg), a police cop who is just returning to the force and has an easy first job back. Finish line at the marathon. Aw, how sweet.

Well, unfortunately, a bomb or two goes off, and a lot of people get injured and a police hunt takes off. And through the smoke, the fire, the wreckage, a lot of local heroes come out to help those wounded. But this is about the cops. And unfortunately, the cops do not find them right away.

Blah blah, the real story shows that they eventually get two suspects, in Tamerlan Tsarnaev (Themo Melikidze) and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Alex Wolff). With a city on lock down, they try to escape, and eventually get caught. Or, well, one of them does.

Featuring a lot of big time actors, like J.K Simmons, Kevin Bacon, and John Goodman. Also Melissa Benoist, Vincent Curatola, Michelle Monaghan, and Jimmy O. Yang.

Bomb
Not really a good image, so not really a place for me to make a joke.

After finally watching Patriots Day, I still only feel that this movie came out too soon.

First of all, it was apparently filmed on location. Where the guy hid in the boat? That was most likely the exact same neighborhood as it actually happened. Like those poor people need to relive those experiences so soon. A lot of footage from the film might also have been actual footage, I have no idea. Footage from police cams, or security cams. Either they made it all look as real as possible, or just used the real stuff, and either way I am uncomfortable.

The ending was the best part as, surprise!, it actually did switch to the real people involved. A real tribute to the cops at a baseball game after the fact, then brief interviews with some of the main people the film touch upon. Very brief, the whole thing takes just a few minuets before the credits. And holy shit, this is what the movie NEEDED to be.

In case you didn’t figure it out, it should have been a DOCUMENTARY! That is something truly respectable, something that doesn’t have actor cops and agents running around pretending a terrorist is loose again in your neighborhood, or recreating other painful memeories so soon after they happen. Fuck.

I know people complain about Hollywood being unoriginal, sequels, reboots, yadda yadda. But trying to rush out true stories to keep them relevant is the biggest scandal out of all of those. Most of the true story films that I enjoy end up being the ones I never heard about, where I learn something. I would imagine most people who saw Patriots Day were also glued to their TVs over these few days and even saw the guy get arrested in the boat. I didn’t learn much and it just felt…exploitative.

There should probably be a limit of at least 5-8 years before you film true events, just to give the world some breathing room.

1 out of 4.

Kong: Skull Island

I find it very odd to see a lot of hype for the movie Kong: Skull Island. King Kong has happened over and over in film’s history, and given everything I know about the internet, they hate reboots, reimaginings, and remakes of other films, so they shouldn’t care about this one.

But alas, here we are. I don’t have too many fucks to give about it of course, after King Kong 11 years ago. Overly long and it didn’t really do anything different.

I guess this one is bringing in some hardcore CGI and bigger acting names. Maybe that is it. Or people are freaking out over the potential of a Godzilla and Kong showdown in the future. Needless to say, if this film doesn’t do anything different, I will probably be mostly annoyed.

People
I don’t care about context, these two people are not dirty enough.

Kong: Skull Island makes sure you get to see a giant ape really early in the film, when two crashed World War II pilots land on the island, start to fight, and then he shows up. But this isn’t set during that war, this is actually set in 1973, during the end of the Vietnam war.

Bill Randa (John Goodman) is some sort of scientist, who believes there is a lot to discover on this skull island they have found in the South Pacific. Ancient civilizations have talked about it, there are constant storms that surround it, but he wants a mission to explore what has never been explored. Let’s call it a geologic mapping mission. With a military escort.

He is able to gather a team. He has his own crew, a geologist (Corey Hawkins) and a biologist (Tian Jing), along with some extra scientists from another company (John Ortiz, Marc Evan Jackson). They have a legendary British explorer to help explore the jungles, James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), who is in it for some money. A prize winning photojournalist, Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), who helped show the truth about Vietnam to the public. And of course a helicopter team lead by LTC Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) and Captain Jack Chapman (Toby Kebbell), straight out of ‘Nam.

Most of them assume it is just a real exploratory mission. But really, Randa has an agenda and believes to be giant monsters on this island, and he wants to bring an end to them. They’ve got weapons of many sizes. Unfortunately, when setting off seismic blasts to detect the crust, they wake up these beasts on the island, and they do not like having explosions all over the place. Spread out over the island, the crew has three days to make it to the north side before they can be rescued.

Also featuring John C. Reilly, and a whole lot of soldiers: Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Thomas Mann, and Eugene Cordero.

Japanese
Turns out this Kong film has a lot of Japanese influence.

At its heart, Kong: Skull Island is an action adventure flick that wants to show us giant animals fighting some dudes with bombs. Which on its own could be enough for most of the people who want to see it. I will say there are some scenes that look a bit awkward based on CGI usage. It doesn’t always mesh well. But the more pure CGI scenes like Kong fighting with the giant lizards look amazing.

The film also doesn’t pussy foot around Kong. We get to see him in the first few minutes. Within 15 more we are on the island and Kong totally fucks up the helicopters putting our characters in a perilous situation. We get a lot of Kong and they don’t tease him out.

You know what we don’t get a lot of? Character development. Basically every character in this movie is weak on that level. There is no gain. They don’t change. Well, some of them die. We have exactly one character who people will care about and does change and that man is played by John C. Reilly. His character is wonderful, an amazing addition to the film, and worthy of praise.

But Kong: Skull Island is just going to be a interesting film that could have been a lot better. With its post credit scene trying its best to imitate The Avengers it leaves some hope for the future. But have to hope they improve the scripts first.

2 out of 4.

10 Cloverfield Lane

Cloverfield was a very polarizing movie back in 2008. Most people you would talk to had strong feelings one way or the other, but if you went on the internet you will find almost universal praise. Time changes everything.

Now imagine everyone’s surprise when the first trailer of 10 Cloverfield Lane appeared a mere three months before the release date. No one knew it was coming, nor did they know what it was about. Produced by J.J. Abrams, he described this film as a “blood relative” to the original Cloverfield. Again, a vague statement.

Needless to say, this is not a sequel to Cloverfield. The Director admitted just days before release that it technically didn’t even take place in the same Universe as the first film. No relation at all. Unfortunately, these quotes aren’t plastered on the commercials and posters. I predict a lot of people going into this film and being upset at the lack of monster. Abrams also said he intended for the Cloverfield name to be a sort of anthology of similar-esque films, but each unique and on its own. Like a Twilight Zone movie franchise, without a narrator.

Game
However, I’d watch all three of these actors play board games for two hours and rate it a 5 out of 4.

Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winston) is leaving her fiancé/husband Ben (Bradley Cooper). You don’t need to know why, but she is moving out, grabbing only a few things, and hitting the road. Hell, you don’t even have to know about the weird power outages affecting the coast. You just need to know that Michelle is now alone and driving off somewhere that no one knows about. Which is why when she gets into an accident and ran off the road, her friends and family will have a hard time finding her.

Especially when she wakes up in a room, full of scratches and hurt knee. She is down to her underwear and handcuffed to the wall in a mostly barren and locked room. Shit.

Her captor is Howard (John Goodman), a gruff man who claims he saved her life. They are in a bunker because something bad has happened on the surface and the air is toxic. So he claims. He wants her to treat him with respect, saving her life and all. He is totally the best guy right? And he just so happens to have a shelter with tons of locks, food for years and a social room, just in case anything goes down. Surely he isn’t a bad guy. He just luckily found her in the wreck and helped her, for sure, right?

Well, there is another guy in there too. Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), who claims he helped build the shelter and broke his arm trying to get in. He was not kidnapped like she might have been.

Either way, the dynamic is fucked up, lots of secrets, who the fuck knows what is going on outside, we just know that they will be together in there for some time.

Jukebox
So better get used to staring at Howard’s fat ass dancing.

10 Cloverfield Lane, as I already mentioned, with upset a lot of people because it won’t feature the monster from Cloverfield in any way, and that is appropriate backlash given the secrecy and vagueness of it all. That should only affect this film, and not any future planned movie in this franchise-lite universe thing they are planning.

The movie on its own is tense as fuck. Twists, turns, and maybe even a pitfall or two. It traps the viewer in this bunker along with our main character, creating a dense atmosphere of hopelessness and confusion. Our heroine is particularly fun to watch because she isn’t just a held captive. She is resourceful, smart, and takes an active part in her own life, attempting to both escape and figure out what the hell is going on.

Winstead does a fantastic job of carrying the film as the main protagonist, but almost equally important is Goodman. He acts the fuck out of this movie, walking the fine line between concerned father figure and potential sociopath. The viewer can never really determine with any certainty just what he is thinking, as the whole film is generally from Winstead’s point of view. He is unnerving and also a bit sympathetic.

It is important to not overlook the third member of the bunker, Gallagher Jr. His character provides some comic relief and sense of hope. This movie would be much darker and a horror film if his role wasn’t in it.

Finally, what helped amplify the movie into complete crazy territory was the sound effects. Everything was loud and jarring and the sound made every scene ten times better. The people behind it in this movie were outstanding and deserve a lot of the praise into making this film feel so unsettling.

10 Cloverfield Lane is good thriller/drama/sci-fi (maybe!) film that leads the viewer on a strange journey. Monsters do come in all shapes and sizes after all.

3 out of 4.

Trumbo

Trumbo! The great white buffalo! Of the main acting awards, this is the final film I needed to see to complete the categories.

I missed it when it came out in November, because, I dunno, I was busy or something. I didn’t care to see it. I figured it wouldn’t get nominated, no matter how much I like Bryan Cranston.

But hey, he did get nominated for best actor. And with a mustache! It is basically what Johnny Depp was doing with Mortdecai. That is the movie in 2015 he wanted to win Best Actor for right? I can’t think of any other film.

Erm. Trumbo! True story! Communists! Time to party! Red Party.

Bribe
That’s a communist joke and damn it, that is probably a communist dress too.

Back to Trumbo, or Dalton Trumbo (Cranston) as everyone everywhere calls him. He lives a good life. He is one of the most successful writers in Hollywood. He has contracts with movie studios to write exclusively for them, meaning that his family can live a nice life. That is of course his wife (Diane Lane), main daughter (eventually Elle Fanning) and two other kids who we don’t care about.

But he has a secret. A very vocal secret. He cares about the rights of the workers. Any workers technically, but specifically the Hollywood workers who don’t make money and should make more instead of the Hollywood fat cats. He is a…a…a…COMMUNIST. And there are a bunch of them too. This is now the late 40s and people are starting to get afraid of the Commies, thanks to the Russians and the coldness of their threats. So they try and round up all the communists in Hollywood and KILL THEM! No, not kill them, but black list them. Refuse to let them work in movies ever again. After all, if they are writing their movies, they could be putting subliminal communist things into mainstream America and fuck us from the inside! That would be terrifying.

And Trumbo is about how this man and his friends decided to try and fight for their first amendment rights. And to work despite the blacklist through aliases, friends, or by boldly ignoring the threats of others. Guess how many Oscars Trumbo won while black listed? Three. He was basically penning the “Fuck The Police” song well before the boys in Straight Outta Compton.

And of course we have more people in this movie: John Goodman and Stephen Root are brothers who make a shit ton of B movies. David James Elliott plays JOHN WAYNE. Louis C.K. is a fellow writer commie, Alan Tudyk is a fellow writer, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is a prison man, and Helen Mirren and Michael Stuhlbarg fuck some shit up.

Press
It is rumored that Cranston was able to grow out the ‘Stashe in just 3 minutes.

Despite my wildly successful movie watching lifestyle, I am super behind on almost everything before 1990. I only barely have the 80’s covered, and everything before that is pitiful. So if I can watch a modern movie telling me about movies back in the day, I consider it a win. I have never seen Roman Holiday or The Brave One, but you bet your ass I have seen Spartacus. Getting to hear behind the scenes stories of how these films were written and what they had to do to hide Trumbo’s name was fascinating. It is probably the sexiest thing I have ever heard of when talking about 1950’s Hollywood writers.

Cranston gave a pretty good performance. I am not willing to call it incredible. I saw a lot of Cranston that I have seen in other roles, and I never really saw someone other than himself. I didn’t feel like he ever fully transformed into the man he was playing, not even when he was sitting in the bathtub. I can say it was my least favorite of the Best Actor nominee performances, and would probably rather someone like Steve Carell or Mark Ruffalo from Infinitely Polar Bear.

C.K. and Lane both did excellent jobs with their supporting characters, although Lane wasn’t given a lot to work with.

Story wise, again, there were a lot of interesting moments, but I will say I got confused a few times at a lot of the extra characters, who they were supposed to be, whose side people were on, and just why they were relevant. There are a lot of extra characters here with important roles, too many to list and name, and yeah. I can’t remember most of them. Thankfully it was only small bits of confusion and I could still easily grasp the main points of the story.

3 out of 4.

The Gambler

I wouldn’t consider myself a gambler. The one time I got to go on a river cruise, I left broke and learned a valuable lesson. Never lose out in the first hour of a three hour cruise. The last two will feel like forever. Might as well just slots the whole time instead.

The Gambler came out on a Christmas, and once I found out it was doing that, I would have bet money on it making close to nothing. I think I would have won that bet. Despite its technically A-List celebrity lead, it was barely advertised, and was a very awkward movie to come out on Christmas. There isn’t a super ideal demographic that it is appealing to, at least not one that might be wanting to go see movies on Christmas.

But again, I don’t gamble. Not with my own money. I now prefer gambling with higher stakes, like when lives are on the live. Then it is more than gambling. Then it is charity work, kind of.

Teacher
Like teaching (for pay) entitled college kids at a big university is charity work.

Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) is not your typical heir to a huge fortune. Well, he is in that he became a writer, because only rich people can be writers. He made a good book and rode that success into getting an English teaching gig at a University. But he hasn’t written well sense then.

Oh, and he owes hundreds of thousands of dollars. Not to something decent, like, tax people, or people his corporation stole money from. Nope, he owes it due to gambling a whole bunch, borrowing money to gamble, and never paying it back. Every time Jim gets some money, he gambles it for more and never knows when to quit.

Sucks! Especially when he starts dealing with more and more violent people. He owes money to quite a few by the movie end (Alvin Ing, Michael Kenneth Williams, John Goodman). And these people have a code. They have RULES. This isn’t ‘Nam!

We also get to see his very rich mother (Jessica Lange), the only person in his class with writing talent (Brie Larson), and a huge star college baketball player (Anthony Kelley) who might get picked #1 overall. Seems relevant.

Goodman
“Shut the fuck up little Donnie!”

Movies about gambling usually involve smooth talking con men, or men who are smart and can out bluff opponents with their sweet or non sweet poker hands. This movie is just about a guy with a problem.

Gambling addiction is a real thing. So are nervous breakdowns. All of this can make compelling film, usually things that will be overly dramatic and make me cry. But those types of stories require either a better script or better acting, both of which this film is probably lacking.

I am not saying anything is wrong with any of the actors in this movie. They all did fine. No one really stood out as great though. Maybe this new guy, Anthony Kelley, he was pretty good at his smallish role. Everyone else was just very “mehhh”.

And of course it is disappointing that the movie didn’t have anyone being a smooth talking con man or smart battle of wits person. It was just all a regular dude who ranted to his university class and could take a beating. It tried to avoid cliches throughout, but the ending was a bit terrible, ending with some cliches and just ending…well flatly. It was extremely disappointing, and again, I wonder why the fuck this came out on Christmas.

1 out of 4.

C.H.U.D.

“What in the fuck is this?” You might all be asking yourselves. “You said you don’t do older movies! You lied to us! We trusted you!” Stop talking in unison readers, that is creepy.

This is a special occasion, much like my Milestone Reviews. I am taking part in a Blog-A-Thon with the theme of 1984. Here is a banner I am supposed to use. Banner.

So yeah, a week long blog-a-thon of only movies from 1984, and I picked C.H.U.D. because I am a winner at heart. C.H.U.D. is a movie I had never seen before, but definitely something I had heard a lot before. The first I heard about it was the summer of 2006. That is when Clerks II came out in theaters, I had to drive an hour with my brother to go see it, and we went at the first possible show time at like, 10 am. We were excited. One line stuck out to me as peculiar that they uttered twice. “Hideous Fucking C.H.U.D.”

I didn’t know what a C.H.U.D. was, but I liked it, and began saying it a lot. I obviously looked into it eventually, started seeing the references in tons of other pop culture things and swore one day I would watch it. Like. Seven years ago. Thankfully, the 1984 Blog-A-Thon happened, and I finally had an outlet for my dreams.

Stern
Speaking of dreamy.

New York City. Land of the homeless, large sewer systems, subways, and C.H.U.D.s. What is a C.H.U.D.? Good question. It just might stand for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller. You’d be hard pressed to find a better acronym than that one.

No one sees them either, as they only come out of the sewers at night and bring their prey with them. However, there has been an unusual number of reported missing people cases lately. And police captain Bosch (Christopher Curry) is being told to cover it up. Don’t assume murder, just regular missing people running away. Well, he doesn’t really want to anymore. The numbers are getting too large and he has personal stake in it. His wife went missing too.

When he begins to investigate, a soup kitchen owner, A.J. ‘The Reverend’ Shepherd (Daniel Stern) has also noted that the homeless population has been dwindling, including several patrons he knew who slept underground. In fact, some of them are very scared, resorting to stealing weapons from police to fend for their lives. The Reverand is also a former nuclear physicist, or something. That should be noted, because that is awesome.

On the other side of the street, we have George Cooper (John Heard), a famous photographer who took pictures of the homeless in the sewers before and needs new material. His model girlfriend (Kim Greist) and him also get caught up in this C.H.U.D. nonsense, and it will take all four of them working together to stop the madness, find the root of the problem, and prevent the town from being blown up.

Oh hey, John Goodman is in here too as an unnamed cop. That seems relevant.

Chuds
Speaking of dreamy…again.

Oh man, B-movies! I almost forgot you existed. After all, in modern times, there really isn’t too many B-movies left.

There is the bullshit that SyFy and The Asylum produce, but I would qualify them as C-Movies. They are intentionally made shitty, and are in fact, too shitty. No passion, no heart, just shit does not necessarily make a good time. Sharknado is terrible. The better B-Movies are the ones that were serious about what they were doing but ended up being shitty and amusing, not realizing that they have become a joke. The fact that C.H.U.D. had script controversy between the two male leads and rewrites means that these people wanted to make a real horror drama film.

But special effects. So bad.

While watching it, I did find myself laughing on more than one occasion. The shittyness of the 80s was fully rampart in this film. But at the same time, it had a decent plot. Corrupt government officials, nuclear waste scares, gray area between right and wrong. It wasn’t badly written. Just the make up.

This may be Daniel Stern’s best role after Home Alone (sorry Bushwhacked/Celtic Pride). Was it worth my time? Arguably. I feel better about using the term C.H.U.D. now, so I got that going for me.

It is currently on Netflix, so if you have a spare afternoon, why not?

2 out of 4.

Speed Racer

Hooray! Another fifty reviews later, I am ready to introduce my next Milstone Review: number 1150 for my website!

Holy crap. If I thought 1050 was a shitty milestone, 1150 has to be way worse. But hey, fun reviews are fun.

Today I decided to look at Speed Racer, which I didn’t see when it came out six years ago due to all the hate I heard about it. I didn’t have the means or willpower to watch every movie six years ago, so I let the internet decide for me.

I also never really watched the Speed Racer cartoon growing up. I knew of the references, and by golly, I knew how to make fun of the anime style when it came up in conversations, but that is all I had going for me. So in a way, this is probably good, as I won’t have anything to compare it to.

I really only know one thing about the movie: COLOR!

Speed 1
This is the level of celebration I demand for hitting milestone 1150.

America is all about speed. Hot, nasty, bad-ass speed.

So it is pretty obvious that Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch) would grow up wanting to race. Also because of his name. Also because of the family business. The dad Pops (John Goodman) runs a small auto shop to make race cars, and his older brother, Rex Racer (Scott Porter) is a professional racer!

He also has a mom (Susan Sarandon) and a younger brother Spritle (Paulie Litt) and the Chim Chim the monkey.

speed2
This is a clear example where nurture trumps nature.

The unfortunate thing is that Rex decided to leave home and join another company and not support his family anymore. And soon after, despite being one of the best, he started being a really dirty player, causing other players to get pushed off the tracks and maybe even…cheating! But then he died in a crash before charges could be pushed on him, bringing dishonor to the racer family.

Well, speed? Speed wants to win that honor. And boy howdy, can he fly. He almost beats his brother’s record on a local track, but holds off at the end to honor his brother. He knows he wasn’t a cheater. Now he is getting job offers, but he knows he wants to stay with his family and race on his own terms.

speed3
Where will you be when the Speed [Racer] kicks in?

Enter Mr. Royalton (Roger Allam)! Owner of a super large mega corporation, he has more money than there exists more or less, and he also likes to sponsor racers. His ideas are simple. Keep what works working, team chemistry, pit crews, whatever. He just wants to help out, help train and give lots of money.

Well, it turns out that Speed, after thinking about it, would rather stay with his family. He doesn’t want to hurt them like they were hurt before. He wants to do it the right way. On his own, with his Pops.

Mr. Royalton doesn’t like being turned down. Not by some punk asshat with the last name of Racer. The racing leagues in this world have been controlled by corporate interests for many decades now. Every race is fixed. Every race. Even that one. And that one. Speed doesn’t believe it, won’t believe it. Royalton tells Speed he will have his car crashed on the next race, and family sued for infringement. False claims, but bad news travels fast, so his families business will be in ruins.

Speed4
They might have to eat the fatty with the monkey to get by.

Well shit, what is a Speed to do? Try to take down the mega-corporations? Sure!

Inspector Detector (Benno Furmann), head of the corporate crimes division. Racer Taejo Togokahn (Rain) has evidence to bring down Royalton, but needs help racing in a team event soon. He has enlisted the mysterious Racer X (Matthew Fox) also unassigned, and they need a third. If they can help them win, they can get out of Royalton’s hold and he’d help put a stop to the shenanigans.

Speed decides to not tell his family about it either. Just his girlfriend, Trixie (Christina Ricci), so she can be the entire pit crew and help them out with helicopter support.

Speed5
Yeah. That’s the reason to bring her. Sure.

The multi nation race takes several days, so of course his family finds out and shows up for support. Which is great, because people are now getting sent to literally just kill him off the tracks, in his hotel room, elsewhere, they just want him dead. But now Speed has people to protect him! Hell, even Sparky (Kick Gurry) is there, the main pit crew guy who works for his dad, and the guy that has taken me this long to find a place to casually fit his mention in this review.

Needless to say, the good guys don’t get stabbed or shot, and the three win the race! Now they can take down the Royalton Corp!

Hah, just fucking kidding you there too. Taejo was just playing them too. Now that his corp won this big race, their stock is super high, and that is all they cared about. They didn’t have illegal information on Royalton. Suck it, Speed and X!

This of course pisses Speed off and he even takes it out on X who he thinks is his brother in disguise. Nope, just that guy from Lost. Shit.

Speed 6
“We’ve got to go back!…to the finish line! Because that’s how races work!”

Thankfully not everyone in the Togokahn family/corporation is a complete dick. Taejo’s sister Horuko (Nan Yu) steals the invitation to the Grand Prix from her brother and gives it to Speed. With it, can still enter the best of the best races. If he takes first, he will ruin Royalton financially and prove that they can beat the system where racing is supposedly fixed. It would be sweet if they could also some how prove that Royalton cheats. But let’s not get too crazy.

Somehow his family is able to make a new car from scratch in about 32 hours before the race, and Speed is then able to go and drive! Yay!

Well, lot of people come at him, he avoids a lot of them. Royalton cheats, he is able to break free from the cheat and also expose the cheat to the public at the same time.

Speed wins the race, and everyone goes home happy or to jail sad. Wooo, EAT IT CORPORATIONS!

Speed 7
But between all that plot was about five minutes straight of color and color on color.

Did Speed Racer GoGoGo? Maybe, in a way.

The CGI style was very hectic and it everything was constantly changing or talking. Characters flying across the screen, many transistions, and many many colors.

I am glad I watched it in Blu-Ray, but I wish there was a good 3D component as well to go with it. I feel like everything would have popped. It would have been like 135 minutes on LCD, I have been told.

A bit surprised by the complicatedness of the plot and the time they dedicate to setting up events in this film, given its PG nature. It seems like it would be very hard for kids to follow. Mostly because it was hard for myself to follow.

In terms of entertainment purposes, the biggest problem might be the large and complicated plot. It seems like the movie is trying to be two things, a big entertaining race spectacle that is colorful and full of wonder, and a corporate serious drama film. What I am left with is a long movie that goes to lengths to include both sides and I get a bit of a confusing mess. It isn’t that it is hard to keep up with, but in its already unique and eye popping style, it is easy to feel overwhelmed.

Also better acting could have helped.

I don’t know if this is the movie Speed Racer fans deserved, but it is probably the film they needed right now. It is overall okay, but one I would rather watch 90 minutes of instead of 135 minutes.

Speed 8
But they did announce that Speed Racer would appear in Fast & Furious 7, so that should be fun shenanigan wise.

2 out of 4.

Transformers: Age Of Extinction

Transformers. Michael Bay. Cash Money.

That is some of the reviews in a nutshell. I didn’t check up on what people said about Transformers: Age of Extinction ahead of time, because I knew I would probably agree with them. I figured the film might be full of inaccuracies that I would find painful, but I’d rather go in and see what I can find on my own without researching afterwards. Like the cringe worthy Washington, D.C. desert in Transformers 2.

But this is a start of a new “trilogy” because we can’t have things not in trilogies anymore. Not when they print so much money for the companies. Our lead human has an upgrade, no longer Shia LaBeouf who is doing some sort of joke on public with his awkward break downs. I mean, no Shia? That is great news on its own. This movie can’t be that bad for that reason.

It should be noted that I am not a Bay hater. In fact, his movie last year Pain & Gain I gave a 4 out of 4. But with some of the advertisement material, I can say that it looks like the Transformers franchise might be running out of gas.

Gas
Heh. Hehehe.

This film takes place let’s say, I dunno, five-ish years after the last Transformers. The Autobots are now on the run, because public opinion has somehow turned against them. Sure they fought with our military and helped us defeat people, but the government says they are bad now, so, they are bad now. After all, they fucked over Chicago completely, taking out about half the city and millions. Millions? Did I say millions? Well, just kidding. The media said (I think) 1300 died at the end of Transformers 3, which we know to be ridiculous.

Either way, Cade Yaeger (Mark Wahlberg) is a tinkerer, who invents gadgets in his garage. He is behind on all bills, but who cares, he will make it one day. His daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz), the 17 year old sex symbol for this movie, is graduating soon and they need college money. As luck would have it, Cade finds a Transformer (Prime) who they could sell to the government for lots of cash.

Needless to say, government is corrupt. The hired assassin (Titus Welliver) tries to kill them too, so they escape and a man hunt begins. This man hunt involves at least three or four different plot lines that are wrapped up in the very short 2 hour and 45 minute movie. But trying to explain them all would just take up time and energy that isn’t necessary. But Kelsey Grammer plays a high up in the CIA, Jack Reynor as Tessa’s secret Irish boyfriend, T.J. Miller as a guy who works with Cade, and Stanley Tucci as the head of a science corporation in Chicago.

Chicago? Yes. Because apparently despite its huge widespread destruction, they basically rebuilt it all up very quickly exactly the same way it was before. We only know that because we go back to Chicago and the bots fuck up a lot of it again.

We still have more characters though. More women, like Sophia Myles, a “geologist” who doesn’t do any exciting geology, and Bingbing Li, a scientists from China who allow the film to end in China so that this movie can make a lot more money over there. Which is what a lot of films are trying to do now, including Iron Man 3 which literally had extra scenes in the Chinese version to get more cash. Blah.

Let’s not forget our voice actors. We have Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), a man made Transformer Galvatron (Frank Welker), a Samurai-bot? (Ken Watanabe), some evil bad guy Lockdown (Mark Ryan), a Trenchcoat-bot (John DiMaggio), and literally a Transformer that just appears to be John Goodman (John Goodman).

Prime
Optimus Prime’s sword is voiced my Sir Swoosh-A-Lot.

Did you notice I didn’t mention a specific Transformers based entity that was heavily featured in all of the advertisements? The Dino-Bots? Yeah, they are in this movie I guess. They don’t talk, their plot lines are questionable, and they are in at the end to help fight bad guys. So, they do exist, albeit for twenty or so minutes. And to be fair, their action scenes are pretty bad ass. They are just grossly underused based on the advertisements and felt like a let down.

Speaking of annoying. More technicalities. A plot point puts them in Beijing. A big bad bot wants to blow up a bomb in the biggest city on Earth. Beijing is 2, so that is close enough. One of our characters knowing this goes on the run with the bomb. To Hong Kong. What in the fuck? First they make it seem like Hong Kong is a few hours away, and its really fucking far. But Hong Kong itself is a giant ass city with millions of people too. How is that better? There is literally thousands of miles of empty space all around China and they do the riskier thing?

This movie, like the third one, features tons of human casualties that they decide to brush aside and ignore. Early on it also does its best to ignore the Transformers completely. Like during a chase scene and a battle, they show mostly the humans running away from humans, than Prime fighting Lockdown. One of the biggest complaints of the franchise is too many humans (and too many women just around for their looks) and this film has that going on too. It is hard to understand why this keeps happening. It is of course also a giant advertisement for GM and other sponsors, such as Beats and Victoria Secret, which have moments that stand out in the worst way.

Some parts of the movie are delightful. Some of the fights are kind of cool. But the dialogue is terrible, acting is whatever, and there is just far too much going on for not enough payout in this movie.

1 out of 4.

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