Archive for the ‘Movies J-L’ Category

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The alien space-octopus will eat your ass: “Life”

March 27, 2017

Life arrives just in time to offer itself up as a corrective to the critically-adored The Arrival—a movie everyone went gaga over, despite its ludicrous premise. I mean, let’s be realistic here: if/when tentacle aliens encounter humanity they’re not going to be all “Ooo…let’s all be friends and here’s the future history of your unborn daughter, because parenthood is the real awesome mystery!” Nope. They’re pretty much going to be, “RAWR! IMMA EAT YOU!” Life understands that.

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Criminally Overlooked: “Last Man Standing”

January 23, 2016

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New Line Cinemas might have been forgiven for thinking they had a sure-fire hit—or at least a modest box office winner—with Last Man Standing. After all, here was a bang-bang-shoot-‘em-up action film headlined by a still-hot Bruce Willis just two years after the monster success of Pulp Fiction, and directed by action-film maestro Water Hill. Unfortunately, Last Man Standing sunk like a Russian submarine at the box office when it opened in 1996, and while Bruce Willis’s reputation emerged unscathed (as it would continue to for the next fifteen of mostly terrible films), it hastened Walter Hill’s descent into Hollywood obsolescence. Twenty years later it’s worth taking a second look.
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The hunt for a new action hero: “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”

January 19, 2014

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After more than a decade hiatus, CIA analyst Jack Ryan–Tom Clancy’s signature creation—is back on the screen. First embodied by Alec Baldwin nearly 25 years ago in a career-making (and, perversely enough, career-derailing) performance in The Hunt for Red October, the role then went to the more appropriate, but less interesting Harrison Ford in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. An attempt to reboot the character was made in 2002 when Ben Affleck stepped into the role in The Sum of All Fears, and that went about as well as everything else Affleck did in the 2000s. Now, Hollywood as decided to reboot the reboot with Chris Pine stepping in to retcon the character yet again in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. This time, however, the results are far more positive.
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From the Mists of Time: “Looker”

January 7, 2014

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Welcome back to “From the Mists of Time,” and boy, do we have a doozy today. It’s a strange, largely unknown little gem from 1981 called Looker. Why review this movie, you ask? Well, kinda because I created this while FTMOT subcategory and I feel like I should populate it with something, so it doesn’t end up like my “What Went Wrong” category (with five years before a second installment).  Besides, this movie is a great time capsule of the ‘80s. It’s got that ubiquitous SoCal setting (usually some producer or other’s beachfront pad that he’d just shooed the underage hookers out of), totally unnecessary sports cars, plastic surgery, and vapid, Barbie doll blondes. Hell, throw in a hot tub and some blow, and you pretty much have the early ‘80s in a nutshell.
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Criminally Overlooked: “The Last Stand”

September 23, 2013

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In hindsight it’s not hard to understand why The Last Stand tanked early in 2013. Headlined by Arnold Schwarzenegger—who is heavily played up in the trailers—it was a part of the failed “1980s action-star renaissance” Hollywood producers seemed to be trying to will into existence out of whole cloth. This mini-trend included The Expendables 2 and Sylvester Stallone’s Bullet to the Head (which had the added nostalgia bonus of being directed by ‘80s action mainstay Walter Hill). All these films pretty much crashed and burned at the box office (domestically, anyway–Expendables did well enough overseas to justify a third installment), and that’s too bad in the case of The Last Stand, because it’s a light, fun action movie that steadfastly refuses to take itself seriously.
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In the 1990’s the future was really lame: “Johnny Mnemonic”

August 29, 2013

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Okay, now this film is instructive indeed. It shows us a glimpse of a very specific moment in time—1995, in fact—when the world arrived at the intersection of science and culture. It was the moment that the Internet became a looming thing, a soon-to-be fixture on our lives. We could see this tsunami curling above us, and could only marvel at how it would change our lives. With 1995’s Johnny Mnemonic, we have a window into the predictions and anxieties of the way our future would be transformed into something new. And man, were they retarded.
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Two old guys try to kill each other, get tired, give up: “Killing Season”

August 18, 2013

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Killing Season…um, wow. I genuinely don’t know where to begin with this film. I mean, it might just be easier to list what the film doesn’t screw up. For example, the vast majority of the film’s images are in focus. That’s something, right? Neither of the movie’s stars—in this case, Robert De Niro and John Travolta never actually break character and shout expletives at the director (though I’d bet my pancreas they did when the cameras were off), and, um…there’s an owl in it. It doesn’t do anything, but, hey…owl, right? Unfortunately, everything else about this film—the idea, the script, the direction, the acting—is just mind-blowingly horrible.
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