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Prehistoric killer-fish want to mate with Australia: “Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark”

April 11, 2014

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So we come to it at last: the final chapter in the Mega Shark trilogy. It’s been a long, emotionally-wrought journey, as we followed this cartilage-framed anti-hero from the ice of the Arctic ocean to the wild, vibrant nightlife of Panama (the shark didn’t do any partying—he mostly just ate people). He confronted such nemesis’s (nemesi?) as Giant Octopuses, the US Navy, Crocasauruses, the US Navy again, and Deborah Gibson. But like all great series’—Breaking Bad, The Shield, Mystery Science Theater 3000—this one too must come to an end. And you gotta give The Asylum this much: with Mega Shark Vs. Mecha Shark they did indeed save the best for last.

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More questions for the Cap: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

April 7, 2014

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Well, the new Captain America movie opened here in Jakarta this weekend—Captain America: The Winter Soldier—and, like the first one, it was one of the better Marvel standalone movies. Captain America has proven to be, IMHO, the strongest of the Marvel superheroes. Iron Man, and by extension Tony Stark, is certainly the most fun, but Cap is the most three-dimensional of the lot. Thus far, his movies has felt less like placeholders than the god-awful Thor movies, and serve as the conscience of the Marvel universe. The Winter Soldier isn’t as fleet or breezy as The First Avenger, but it does seem to have something on its mind—a rarity in a spring blockbuster.
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Questioning the Cap: “Captain America: The First Avenger”

April 7, 2014

In anticipation for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I am reposting my review of Captain America: The First Avenger published on August 3rd 2011.


Well, Captain America finally opened here in Bangkok last weekend, and, as promised, it’s another fun addition to what has turned out to be a remarkably solid summer movie season. In case you missed the premise, let me recap: Chris Evans plays a creepy, Gollum-like creature named Steve Rogers who keeps getting turned down for service in The Big One (that’s World War Two to you folks born after 1980). After catching the eye of a kindly German scientist (Stanley Tucci), he becomes a lab rat for an experimental serum that makes him a super-soldier. After an impressive light show, he emerges a primo slab of man-meat. Wackiness ensues. And by “wackiness” I mean, “he wins World War Two” (oh, uh, spoiler alert).
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City of Lights (and Glocks): “3 Days to Kill”

March 18, 2014

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This is a toughie. No, not because I’m conflicted about my feelings toward 3 Days to Kill—I pretty much hated it, and at one point was so bored I tried to file my income taxes on my iPhone during the middle third of the movie (word to wise: don’t ever try this…you fat-finger one key and the next thing you know the IRS wants actual proof of the elephant preserve you’re claiming as  a write-off). No, 3 Days to Kill is a toughie, because I can’t figure out what the hell anyone was doing with this movie? Like, what kind of movie were they making? What kind did they think they were making? Why did they make this? And why, when they saw the final result did they not just destroy it with fire and say that the final cut was destroyed by rampaging elephants who escaped from a preserve? That last one would actually be very helpful for me, if anyone wants to, you know, sign an affidavit to that effect. Anyway, let’s talk about this movie.
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Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened until Liam Neeson punches you in the face: “Non-Stop”

March 4, 2014

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Well, it’s a new year, and you know that means: time for a new movie about Liam Neeson killing people. I don’t know exactly when this became a tradition—I guess sometime around 2009, when we, as a country took in the ludicrosity of the AARP-eligible Neeson running around Paris murdering human traffickers and said, “Yes! This—this is what has been missing from my life!” Anyway, Neeson’s latest entry into this sub-genre of filmmaking is Non-Stop, which differs from his usual outings in two very important ways: 1) none of the people he kills are foreigners, and 2) he does it in a plane.
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Milo versus the volcano (guess who wins): “Pompeii”

February 24, 2014

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With some movies you can practically hear the studio pitch whispering in the background, just barely masked by the dialogue. In the case of Pompeii, the new disaster extravaganza by Resident Evil auteur (yes, I’m using that work loosely) Paul W.S. Anderson, I’m pretty sure the pitch went something like this:

“I have a great idea for a February release—it’s about “Pompeii—the city that was buried by a volcano.”

“Mount St. Helens?”

“No, that was the Pacific Northwest. This is ancient Rome.”

“Oh…erm…you mean we have to watch people in togas and stuff? That’s kinda tough to cross-market, you know. Nobody wears togas anymore. At least I don’t think they do. Maybe in Ibiza. Last time I was there, I was so railed on coke I didn’t even notice I still had one of the midgets in my suitcase until I changed planes in Amsterdam.”

“Yeah, that’s gonna happen. But hey, dig it—it’s Gladiator meets Titanic.

“Holy balls, that is brilliant! We can maybe steal some material from that Spartacus series.”

“Like Jamie Murray having threesomes with Xena: Warrior Princess?”

“Ah…nope, better keep this one PG-13. Exploding volcanoes don’t come cheap.”

And that’s how Pompeii happened.
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Dead or alive, you’re going with him: “RoboCop”

February 19, 2014

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I had the knives out for this one as soon as it was announced. I mean, remake RoboCop? Why? Because the last one was so lacking? It wasn’t a good enough movie? I mean, hey, it’s only become a classic, one-of-kind action movie beloved by pretty much everybody. But, yeah, you know those stop-motion ED-209s would look way cooler of they were CGI. And the action sequences were edited to appeal to an audience not hopelessly addled by ADD. So, what the heck—let’s just remake the damn thing. Just start over and maybe we’ll get it right this time. But once I got past the craven rationale for this remake I was able to separate it from the original and set the bar appropriately low. Surprisingly, the new RoboCop—while no classic by any stretch of the imagination—is still a pretty good action flick.
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