December 16, 2014

The Conqueror

Genghis Khan. The man who forged a perpetually-warring people made up exclusively of battle-tested warriors into an unstoppable juggernaut of pain that created the world's largest land-based empire, with nothing more than his unmatched charisma and elevation of loyalty and skill above family relations.

It's 1956, and you're making a movie about the most feared man in world history. Who would you cast as this world-spanning conqueror, this man who destroyed cities, massacred their inhabitants, and fathered more illegitimate children than an entire session of the US Congress? Yul Brynner, that's who, because Yul Brynner is fucking rad. He's a charismatic, imposing, powerful presence onscreen, and he's at least part Mongolian. Not to mention that in that very same year of 1956, his magnificently sculpted torso blew Charles "From my cold dead hands" Heston off the screen in The Ten Commandments. Give the man a sword and a horse and unleash him on an unsuspecting steppe.

What you don't do is put John fucking Wayne in bad yellowface and have him romance a Central Asian "Tartar" woman so Aryan Dr. Strangelove's hand would be compelled to salute her.

The Conqueror is the story of the worst casting choice since some jackass decided to put Clooney in the Batsuit. I know you think Kevin Costner's complete lack of even an attempt to drop his completely inappropriate accent for playing Robin Hood was atrocious and unforgiveable, and you're right of course, because Kevin Costner sucks harder than a Republican Congressman in a skeezy truckstop men's room. But just wait until you hear Genghis fucking Khan talk about his blood boiling in lust for a woman he's about to kidnap and force into his bed in John Wayne's all-American cowboy drawl. Be sure to read the following sentences aloud in your best Wayne impression:

"While I have fingers to grasp a sword, and eyes to see yer cowardly faces, yer treacherous heads will nawt be safe on yer shoulders. For I am Temoojin, the conqueror. No prison can hold me, no army can defeat me, pilgrim."

The film details a mere few days it seems in the life of Khal Drogo Genghis Khan as he was just beginning his rise to dominance of all Mongolia. But really it's a shitty remake of Romeo and Juliet, only here Romeo kidnaps Juliet and holds her prisoner until she grows to love him while., avoiding her attempts to murder him with a sword. Because whitebread monogamous marital love is what the Mongols were all about.

Genghis Khan (John Wayne!), known in the film by his birth name Temujin, espies his rival Targutai, chief of the Merkit tribe, and rides forth to challenge him in that "by whose leave do you cross my lands?" ye olde bullshit language that reflects how precisely no one has spoken ever. He immediately becomes enchanted with Targutai's soon-to-be-third-wife Bortai (Susan Hayward). Bortai, for her part, is having none of Temujin, since she's a Capulet Tartar and he's a Montague Mongol, and her father killed his father and yadda yadda. Temujin contemplates attacking Targutai's caravan and seizing Bortai for himself, but his right-hand man Jamuga (Mexican actor Pedro Armendáriz, the only actor in the entire cast who isn't of the Master Race) persuades him to return to their village to gather moar men. They head back and recruit a raiding party. I guess Temujin doesn't bother to tell them who or what they're raiding until they're just about to ambush the caravan, since upon finding out the target is the Merkit chief, the fearsome Mongol warriors are suddenly afraid to attack, lest the larger and more powerful Merkit tribe retaliate later. But Temujin gives a speech that won't have Henry V looking over his shoulder (including calling the warriors "women" for their cowardice, as if the Mongols considered their women weak) and the raid is on.

The Mongols win, but not before Targutai decides that discretion is the better part of valor and makes to beat feet. He tells Bortai to come with, but she's all "Runnin' is fer punks" and he's all "Then I'ma leave yo' ass" and she's all "Well do it, tough guy!" and he's all "Smell ya later!" He bravely runs away, away, and Temujin gets him dead to rights but doesn't kill him from behind, because that's how Genghis Khan rolled. He just taunts him for his failure and then lets him escape. Now, I could see Genghis Khan making fun of his cowardly defeated enemy in front of his victorious raiding party...and then brutally slaughtering him. I mean, this is a man who burned entire cities to the ground to prove a point. No way he's letting his enemy come back to fight another day.

Bortai remains defiant, even threatening Temujin with death at her father's hands, and Temujin somewhat unrealistically responds by not raping her right then and there, since he's fucking Genghis Khan. I know it's 1956, but if you aren't even going to fade to black at this point, why even make a movie with the Mongols as protagonists? Didn't the filmmakers give a toss about even a semblance of historical accuracy?

Oh right, the John-Wayne-as-Genghis-Khan-thing. Nevermind.

He does rip her shirt off, though, as the movie's romantic music plays(!). He takes her back to the village, and stuff happens, and then he takes her into his yurt to put the make on her, and she says she'll just lie there and do nothing. Temujin becomes frustrated and leaves, because Genghis Khan would never force himself on an unwilling partner. But wait, this movie is clearly '50s in its heart. Isn't his wife lying there and doing nothing just what he'd want? *rimshot*

Bortai then gets Jamuga to come into her yurt, which is frankly the worst possible idea for both of them no matter how you look at it. Jamuga declares his loyalty to Temujin, Bortai threatens to give away the compromising position he's currently in (somehow forgetting that the situation looks no better for her), Jamuga starts to choke a bitch, and then Targutai rescues us from this godawful scene by raiding the village. More stilted action scenes follow. Targutai stabs his spear through the front door of Temujin's yurt, which would have done the Mongol leader in but for the fact that he isn't standing directly on the other side of it at the time. Temujin then exits through another part of the yurt and easily kacks Targutai with a spear (causing Targutai's horse to fall over?) and even more easily captures the fleeing Bortai. Some random Merkits pursue (apparently seeing their leader cut down didn't affect their morale at all), and Temujin cunningly evades them by hiding himself and Bortai in a cleft in the rock in full view of the Merkits. But the script says the Merkits don't see them, so they ride by, leaving Bortai to accept Temujin's advances, because the script says she loves him now(?), at least if the movie's romantic music is to be believed. I mean, nothing says sexy-time like lying on a bare rock face, amirite, ladies? Fade to black.

Next day, Temujin and his new wife return to the village. A guy challenges Temujin's leadership, so Temujin lays him out with a patented John Wayne haymaker. Which is exactly how Genghis Khan would respond to a challenge to his leadership.

He then decides to destroy the Tartars by enlisting the aid of one Wang Khan. Bortai reveals she still hates Temujin and clumsily tries to sword-murder him, an attack he easily avoids. This only further inflames his desire for her, but once again he won't force himself on her. He does slap her for being uppity when he claims she'll eventually hate him so much that she'll love him (lolwut), but then he looks regretful about it, and I secretly hoped the real Genghis Khan would rise from the grave as a kickass zombie Mongol and strangle Wayne to death on screen.

The Mongols go to Wang Khan's city, Urga, and man, the parade of white people in shitty brown face paint and terrible Fu Manchus just keeps getting longer. It turns out Wang Khan isn't the real power in the city of Urga anymore; instead it's his advisor Shaman. Temujin quickly groks to this, and then it's time for a few very long and very boring "exotic" dance sequences. After Temujin smirks approvingly at the slinky, scantily-clad dancing women, Bortai's jealousy makes her doff her coat to reveal a silver-sequined bra (how long has she been wearing that?) and do her own sword dance. Suddenly, just when we most expect it, she hurls one of the swords at Temujin. Look, if you aren't the Governator, you can't throw a fucking sword. Not to mention that I doubt the mousy Hayward could even lift a real sword, much lest hurl it 20 feet through the air.

Shaman agrees to support Temujin against the Tartars, but the latter strike first when Bortai's father Kumlek seizes the Mongols' village just before Temujin and his party arrive. Temujin gets shot with an arrow and Bortai escapes to rejoin her father. She helps Jamuga escape from her father's captivity, but as Jamuga should've known, the only reason for the ease of his escape was that Bortai and a party of men are tracking him to the rebel base Temujin. The future Genghis Khan is captured and hauled in front of Kumlek with his arms tied to a piece of wood across his back in perhaps the most jaw-dropping Christ imagery in film history. Later, Bortai, apparently now back in love with him (wha....?), helps Temujin escape. People do a lot of escaping in this movie. Temujin decides his earlier wound doesn't bother him anymore and kills few guys for good measure before taking his leave.

Temujin returns to camp and prepares for the big fight with the Tartars, but Shaman appears and tells him of Wang Khan's treachery: He's not sending the promised army, leaving the Mongols to fight alone. Shaman, who is disgusted, simply disgusted by this brazen act of treachery, promises to open the gates of Urga to Temujin, who can murderize Wang and seize the army for himself. Shaman also says that this is an obvious double-cross and that he himself is actually behind the plot. Okay, I may have added that last part.

Shaman does open the gates, and Temujin does seize the city. Shaman finds Wang in bed and stabs him just as Temujin enters, but since he stabs him in the stomach rather than, say, the throat or head or chest or anywhere instantly fatal, Wang is able to reveal that Shaman told him to betray Temujin in the first place. So Temujin cuts down Shaman (tastefully off-screen, of course). Um...but didn't Temujin earlier believe Wang betrayed him? Why does he suddenly trust Wang's word now? Shaman opened the gates to city as promised, and earlier Temujin seemed fine with Shaman's plot to murder Wang and throw his support behind Temujin. Fuck it, I don't care, let's just get to the end.

Temujin takes over Wang's army and marches against the Tartars. Bortai saves Jamuga from her father's torture and confesses her willingness to betray her father and her people for Temujin's. People do a lot of betraying in this movie. For his part, Temujin infiltrates the Tartar camp at night and then immediately gives away the game by calling out for Bortai. She runs to him, because love, and Temujin suspects Jamuga of shenanigans with her and tries to kill him for it. (He doesn't seem angry with her, though.) Before he can succeed, he has to let Jamuga alone because the climax of the film is about to start. Temujin pulls Bortai close before he marches forth to take revenge for his father's murder by murdering her father, and she seems pretty okay with it. Blah blah big battle, with Temujin in the thick of things while Kumlek sits on a hill and watches. Because warrior chiefs don't actually fight in battles. Temujin eventually sights his foe and charges after him, who bravely runs away, away. Temujin quickly unhorses and murders his unresisting enemy, the only time he does anything remotely like Genghis Khan. Still, not exactly pouring molten gold onto the bastard's head, is it? The film ends with Jamuga, afraid Temujin will always suspect him of treachery even though he has at no point done anything treacherous, requesting to be executed(?) and Temujin granting the request(!), with Jamuga's voiceover(!!) telling us that Genghis Khan's descendents would "rule half the world". Thankfully, mercifully, the credits roll.

The Conqueror is long, boring, and shitty. I guess you could say that, in the end, The Conqueror...


...was the one who got conquered.


The time is ripe for a Hollywood action movie about Genghis Khan. I mean, we've already had Alexander the Great, Action! Robin Hood, Hercules, Richard I, Action! Dracula, Hercules again...why not the greatest conqueror of them all?

But who, you ask, would play The Conqueror, now that Yul Brynner has ascended to Mount Olympus to take his place among the other gods? Oh, I think we all know who.....

October 1, 2014

Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever

Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is a title you can't possibly say with a straight face. I know you thought To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar was a bad title, but it has been dethroned, and a new champion reigns. Those of you who are into the more obscure stuff might put forth Death Bed: The Bed That Eats as a contender, while those of you who murder prostitutes in your creepy basement might declare Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace to be the worst title of all time. Sadly, no. That title is held, and will always be held, by the one and only film that features a stone-faced Lucy Liu running around Vancouver shooting everything in sight for no discernible reason while AnTOnio! BANderas! takes the English language into an abandoned barn out back and beats it to death with a shovel.

"But Carl Eusebius!" I hear you inquiring, "How can a film possibly live down to a title like that?" Oh ye of little faith, I present to you Rotten Tomatoes' Worst Film of the 2000s. That's right, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever received exactly 0 positive reviews from a total of one hundred and eight major critics. Behold, some choice reviewer quotations:

"Banderas mopes through this hideous and unintelligible enterprise like a bloodhound with a hangover, while Liu elects to look cool in leather in lieu of a performance."

"The backyard battles you staged with your green plastic army men were more exciting and almost certainly made more sense."

"For years, people have joked about an action movie that might eliminate plot altogether and simply cut to the pyrotechnics. Someone has finally done it."

"[Let's] discuss the curious fact that both of these U.S. agencies wage what amounts to warfare in Vancouver, which is actually in a nation named Canada, which has agencies and bureaus of its own and takes a dim view of machineguns, rocket launchers, plastic explosives and the other weapons the American agents and their enemies use to litter the streets of the city with the dead."

"Sadistic: Gratuitous Vs. Arbitrary."

"Du grand grand vide que le nombre d'explosions n'arrive pas à camoufler."

Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is the story of...things...happening...and shooting...and explosions, and then some cars driving, a few lines of dialogue, explosions, more shooting, people walking in slow-motion away from expanding fireballs, people who were government agents but aren't government agents anymore, more explosions, close-ups of Talisa Soto, even more shooting, even biggerer explosions, and people thinking other people are dead and then finding out they aren't dead but were only being hidden away by the FBI, or the DIA, or some damn thing.

Jeremiah(!) Ecks (Banderas) is a former FBI agent. Just when he thought he was out, they pull him back in when they tell him his wife who died eight years ago was only resting. In fact, her son by her new husband Gant has just been kidnapped. Ecks, of course, doesn't give a shit because his wife is played by Princess Kitana, who was once rumored to have changed her facial expression some time in 1987. Eventually the director, a particularly articulate gibbon named "Kaos", tells him the plot needs to start, and so he goes about searching for his not-dead wife's child by another man. He soon determines the kidnapper is Sever (Liu). This determination is helped by Sever's machine-gun murder of about 300 police officers outside the Vancouver Library. See what happens when you hire your own cops, Vancouver? If you'd contracted with the Mounties, this never would've happened!

In fact, Sever tries to kill everyone in the city of Vancouver, including Ecks (with a grenade launcher), until she's about to blow his head off at point blank range with his own gun, at which point she inexplicably lets him go (??) and tells him his wife Kitana is alive and with Gant. (How does she know, and why does she care?) Gant not only orchestrated Kitana's fake death to fool Ecks, and Ecks's fake death to fool Kitana, but he's also responsible for killing Sever's husband and kid. Guy really gets around. This is why she's murdering Vancouver, to get revenge on Gant...somehow.

And that totally makes up for Sever blowing away dozens of cops and DIA agents, right? Right? Her kid was murdered! That means everything she does in pursuit of vengeance is morally justified! What, haven't you seen Princess Aurora? (Don't see Princess Aurora.)

Since the film is called Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, Ecks and Sever team up to take down Gant and rescue Kitana's son who is (wait for it) not Gant's son after all, but Ecks's! Bet you didn't see that coming, eh? Eh? Ecks and Kitana are finally reunited in a scene set in the Vancouver Aquarium for no other reason than, hey look, it's the Vancouver Aquarium! Because when you've got an entire 85 minutes to fill, you got to pad out the running time somehow. Kaos, of course, can't control his raging boner for things blowing up real good, so Kitana has a flashback to the 'splosion that she mistakenly thought killed Ecks. It all ends in an abandoned railway station...somewhere. Sever refuses to return to the Dark Side, the bad guys all die, all the good guys make it out completely unhurt, and the audience harangues the theater manager for a refund.

Banderas can barely summon the energy to stammer out his lines, making me wonder how the casting director of Twilight, Part 4: Part 2 missed out on making him the stereotypical Latino vampire to round out the offensive ethnic caricatures that film paraded about like homophobia at a Tea Party convention. Darth Maul is kind of in the movie, but since he never busts out a double-bladed red lightsaber while "Duel of the Fates" starts up, I didn't care, and neither will you. Countless Canadians are killed, and no one cares about that, either. Vancouverites were more perturbed about the Canucks losing the Stanley Cup than getting machine gunned-to death by Lucy Liu. Director Kaos (really) certainly doesn't care, as he appears to treat his human characters with all the care and empathy the average 10-year-old has for his opponents in Call of Duty 29: Yeah, We're Doing This Again.

Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is the longest and most boring 85 minutes you've never spent with a title shat straight out of Satan's own asshole. No matter what kind of sin you commit in a single lifetime or how corrupt and bankrupt a person you are, when you get to the Pearly Gates and St. Pete asks why he shouldn't send you to Hell, pause dramatically and then say laconically, "Hey bub, at least I didn't make Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever."

Fuck this movie

September 15, 2014

Battlefield Earth

One thousand years after our planet was conquered in nine minutes by floppy clown-gloved leather-fetish Rastafarians on stilts, humanity has been reduced to small isolated communities of impeccably beautiful and healthy model-actors in lush green forests--no wait, excuse me, I'm sorry, the totally-not-stolen-from-Star Wars opening text crawl says humanity's remnants are "hiding in radiated areas".  Not the verdant forests of Canada. Nope. Radiated areas. Totally.

Did I mention that director Roger Christian worked on Return of the Jedi? Because you might notice a little similarity in some of the filmmaking techniques employed here.

Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 is the story of humanity's oppression at the hands of a dreadlocked John Revolta and his offensively oversized codpiece. Revolta plays Terl, the security chief of Earth for the evil psychiatrists Psychlos of the planet Psychlo, a galaxy-spanning race of morally-bankrupt resource-hungry capitalists that have been ruthlessly strip-mining gold from our Earth for a thousand years running. Despite having defeated Earth's entire combined military force in a total of nine minutes through the use of their gas drones(?), the Psychlos have been unable to wipe out humanity completely because their "breath-gas" explodes(!) on contact with "radiation", allowing the remnants of the human race to eke out an existence in areas that have been saturated with nuclear fallout.


Our hero (we know because of his long, flowing blonde locks), Jonnie Goodboy Tyler(!!), appears on his horse. Because we still have those. We brought them into the irradiated zones and have feed and saddles and brushes and stuff for them, what? Anyway, Private Jackson (sans his trusty sniper rifle, sadly) is returning to the movie set on which his tribe lives with medicine for his sick father, but his bland love interest Bland Love Interest, played by a Montreal actor to satisfy the legal requirements for getting Canadian funding, informs him that Dad done died. Johnny lets out a good movie "NOOOOO!" and destroys the medicine in rage. Boy, I sure hope Pop's illness wasn't contagious!

After arguing with the village elder (you got to have a village elder in these things, it's Movie Law) about the existence of the "demons from the sky who are totally not the Psychlos that we read about in the opening crawl", Jonnie rides out of the village to find a better life than slowly dying in the irradiated zones. Which is what the script says is happening to the people in the village, despite their gym-toned bodies and perfect make-up and gloriously white teeth. Jonnie meets Kim Coates and Another Guy shortly before the Psychlos appear and shoot Jonnie's horse, causing him to let out a "NOOOOO!" that's every bit as heartfelt and genuine as the one prompted by his father's death. The dastardly aliens then kill Another Guy, stun Kim, and force Jonnie to shamelessly ape the "Zhora crashing through glass after being shot in the back" sequence from Blade Runner, if that sequence were shot by a talentless hack through a murky green filter. Jonnie is hauled aboard a Psychlo air transport, causing him to scream in horror at being trapped with Kim Coates. The transport takes our hapless zeroes to the worst prison on the entire planet.

Denver. Oh yeah.

As an aside, from this point forward, every shot--and I mean every goddamned shot--is filmed through a murky blue filter at a Dutch angle. Don't know what a Dutch angle is? Tilt your head to the left as far as you can. Now imagine the entire movie looks like that. Watching this movie, you'll constantly suppress the urge to reach out and tilt the TV so the damn shot will be straight. Oh, and also the urge to turn the TV off and not have to watch the rest of this crap.

After the little transport lands in the crumbling, decayed remains--okay, more crumbling and more decayed remains--of Denver, Goldilocks McAmericanpatriot makes a break for it as soon as the craft's door is opened. A Psychlo tries to stop him, but Pvt. Jackson ends up with the alien's gun, asks God to lend him His strength, and blows the alien away. At this point, Terl appears and immediately lets loose with one of the all-time worst performances in the history of hammy overacting. Seriously, Revolta goes so far over the top he has to dodge low-flying aircraft. He doesn't chew the scenery so much as inhale it like Rob Ford on a crack pipe. We're talking Bruce Payne in Highlander End Game levels of overacting. HADDEGEBURN levels of overacting. Brian Blessed would tell him to take it down a notch.

Another guard reports that Pvt. Jackson killed the guard, but Terl sniffs at this, remarking that the guard must be out of his skull-bone (eh?) to ask him to believe that a man-animal (seriously?) could do such a thing. Terl gives Jonnie the gun back and orders the guard to let Jonnie shoot him, which he does. Terl, being a good villain, laughs uproariously at this and--scene!

Why didn't Jonnie shoot Terl as well? Uh...hey, look over there!

Cut to--no, I'm sorry, wipe to Jonnie and some other humans getting hosed down by the Psychlos as Jonnie snarls "Get your stinking paws off me, you damn, dirty alien!" Oh wait, that was me. Jonnie ends up getting the hose away from the guy--Jesus, he can just take anything out of their hands at any time--and sprays the Psychlos with it, who stumble around on their stilts in slow-motion. Galaxy-spanning conquerors my ass. The Borg these guys ain't.

Cut Wipe to Terl, along with *sigh* his assistant Ker (Forest Whitaker--I so wish I were kidding), waiting to meet up with Zete, who we gather is somebody important. He beams in from the home planet and immediately declares Earth a "craphole" ("craphole"?) because the sky is all, like, blue. Get it? It's funny because what we think is beautiful is ugly to the Psychlos. Really makes you think, doesn't it...about how fucking moronic this movie is, I mean. Zeke...Zeel...Zete says that they should kill all the humans after all the gold is mined. Uh....why wait? In fact, why haven't you done it already, if you can? And why are you capturing them, anyway? They don't mine the gold; you have Psychlo workers who do that. So why not use Psychlos for other jobs, too? Like, uh...breaking rocks (the only "job" we ever see the human slaves doing).

Another bigwig appears, the Planetship of Earth. What's a Planetship, you ask? Why, a fat bald man with a gigantic bulging neck tumor, of course! I mean, what else would a Planetship be?

The Planetship and Zwhatever laugh at Terl, who thought they were coming to reassign him to a sweeter gig, after they reveal he will instead be assigned to Earth permanently. Terl goes to a bar to seek solace from the sweet, sweet booze, which for Psychlos is called kerbango ("kerbango"??) and is a glowing green liquid. Apparently the Psychlos get drunk on the Predator's blood. Ker tries to console him by pointing out that Earth is a pretty "cushy job", and Terl responds....

Okay, now, you have to say this line as far over the top as you can. Think of a community theater reject doing the "hold their manhood cheap" line from the St. Crispin's Day speech, then raise it about an octave, and then put him in floppy clown gloves, dreadlocks, and hideous contact lenses as he delivers the line:

"While you were still learning how to spell your name, I was being conquer galaxies!"

As long as those being conquered don't, I don't know, try to take something out of your hands. Because then you'd just look silly.

It's too bad nobody trained Terl to act, because fucking Jesus. And he's got to have some serious balls to deliver a line that badly as a scold to Forest fucking Whitaker. I assume the next scene will have Revolta lecturing Barack Obama on the finer points of public speaking just before instructing Morgan Lander on how to death growl.

Throughout the movie Ker tries to outfox Terl in some incredibly lame boss-employee scheming. (Petty office politics...OF THE YEAR 3000!) This time he puts a file with the potential for big profits--which he had kept for himself assuming Terl was about to be reassigned--on Terl's desk. But it's all for naught, because Terl has a picto-camera (picto-camera?!) installed in his office that catches Ker in the act. In the movie's sole moment that comes anywhere near succeeding, Ker says he didn't think Terl would mind a little scheming (being that the Psychlos are evil and all), and Terl replies that he doesn't mind and permits Ker to claim a share of the profits. Kind of a nice moment. And then Terl orders Ker to "check the compo-gradients" (Compo-gradients?!?) Whew, I was afraid the movie might stop sucking.

Ker's file details massive gold deposits in the irradiated zones, meaning the Psychlos can't get to them. Remember? The exploding breath-gas thing? ("Breath-gas"?) Terl's insanely stupid plan is to recruit human slaves to mine the gold, when 20 minutes ago Terl got a guard killed because he didn't believe Jonnie could even pull a trigger. Ker and Terl ask the Planetship to approve this plan--because if there's one thing this movie needed, it's more of that guy--and he says no because humans are too stupid to learn to mine. So Terl blackmails him into letting him do it. There, that wraps up one pointless subplot that's stretched out over a good half hour of the film's running time.

Terl selects Jonnie to lead the team of miners. He takes Our Zero to a machine that beams knowledge directly into his brain. So then what's with the business of how smart humans are, if you can just zap skills and knowledge into their heads? Terl wasn't very selective with the machine though, since it beams into Jonnie's head everything the Psychlos know. Maybe Terl should've fittled with the settings a bit more so that the machine wouldn't teach Jonnie things like, oh I don't know, that the Psychlos' breath-gas ("breath-gas"?) explodes on contact with radiation. Or how to both speak and read their language. Or how to operate their computers. Or that they have a teleporter that leads directly to their home planet. Or everything else he'll use to lead the humans to overthrow and destroy them. (Oops, sorry to blow the ending of the movie for you.)

The teaching computer also teaches Jonnie how to read and write English. Seriously, why would the Psychlos have any interest in preserving the written languages of the species they exterminate and/or use as slave labor? Shut up, because they do, that's why! (It also teaches him Euclidean geometry. We know because this space alien machine built by space aliens from space uses the term Euclidean.) Terl wants to make sure Jonnie doesn't get any bright ideas about resistance, so he takes him to the Denver Public Library (you know the one) and leaves him alone because "there is nothing here that will help you". Oh Terl, if only you knew, since Jonnie immediately picks up a copy of the Declaration of Independence(!!!). Well, the Psychlos are done for now! Jonnie has the words of the Founders burning in his heart, so tyranny's days are numbered. No genocidal gas drones without representation!

Oh, and I'm just going to point out that the teaching computer, when teaching Jonnie the Psychlo language, appears as a Chinko Clinko, an offensively racist obsequious fawning stereotype of an arcane-knowledge-possessing exotic Chinese mandarin. You're welcome!

Jonnie attempts his first uprising, stealing some Psychlo sidearms from a locker using Terl's security code, which Jonnie figures out in about five seconds. Way to lead by example there, Chief of Security. But when he and the rest of the initial mining group turn the guns on Terl, they don't fire. "If you rat-brains knew anything about firearms," Terl sneers, "you'd know that you never store loaded weapons." So Jonnie got the knowledge of the Universe beamed into his head but not how to make sure a gun is loaded? Jesus, I don't know which of these guys is dumber. Holmes and Moriarty these guys ain't. More like Derrida and Fukuyama. 

Also, "rat-brains"?

To quell this little rebellion, Terl shoots the legs off some cows in the middle of a field somewhere (uh....) and then threatens to kill Bland Love Interest (remember her?) with an exploding neck collar. Somewhere, Wile E. Coyote is nodding approval. To demonstrate that he's totally serious and the neck collar really does explode you guys, he slaps one on...a guy who is also there. When Terl gets ready to push the button on the remote detonator he holds, Jonnie begs him not to kill whoever this is, and Terl agrees as long as Jonnie promises never to ask him for any favor again. Does anyone not see where this is going? If I tell you Ker is there too, does that help? Anybody? Should I put in a disclaimer for anyone who has a weak heart and might be shocked, shocked! by what happens next?

Terl says, "I only said I wouldn't kill him" and tosses the detonator to Ker, who blows off the guy's head real good. Ha! Betcha didn't see that--oh, you did. Oh. Ohhh. Ohhhhhhh--

So Jonnie and his crew are sent off to mine the gold, more or less unsupervised, but Jonnie knows something the Psychlos don't know: When he was in the library, in addition to reading the holy scripture of the Founders, he also discovered the existence of Fort Knox.

*Imagine the sound of a record scratch here.* Wait. Back this crazy train up. I know the Psychlos are dumb, but really--in a thousand years of mining gold, the only substance they care about, the substance they came to Earth to find in the first place, they never found Fort fucking Knox? Plus, the gold in Fort Knox is already smelted. And shaped into bricks. Even Terl isn't dumb enough to buy that they just pulled this stuff out of the ground.

Wait, I'm wrong. He is, and he does.

And it just gets dumber. While one group of cavemen is at Fort Knox, another is locating a massive storehouse of military weaponry, including Harrier jets(!) complete with training simulator(!!) and a nuclear bomb(!!!!!!!).

So these primitive cavemen spend what must be hours on a still functioning and powered training simulator in order to learn how to fly thousand-year-old Harriers (notorious for being probably the most difficult vehicle to fly, combining all the issues involved in piloting both a fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter). Intensive day-long training complete and still-functioning nuke armed, Jonnie and the cavemen put their plan into action.

Blah blah shooting, blah blah Jonnie shamelessly apes the "people shooting at Neo and destroying the pillars around him" scene from The Matrix, blah blah cavemen fly thousand-year-old Harriers and score somewhat improbable air-to-air victories in Independence Day-errific style, blah blah Terl thinks he's blowing off Bland Love Interest's head with the exploding neck collar but instead blows off his own arm (don't ask), blah blah genocide when Jonnie beams the nuke over to Psychlo and utterly destroys the entire planet, blah blah Terl is left imprisoned in Fort Knox surrounded by the gold he so lusted after, while a double-crossing Ker has joined up with Jonnie. The end.

So humanity 1, Psychlos minus several billion, I guess. Humans rule!

Battlefield Earth is a godawful mess of a movie, difficult to watch due to the constant eye-straining blue filter, incessant Dutch angles, and scenes with John Revolta . The film is laughably goofy, purging some of its source novel's most egregious bad elements while still keeping way too much, and Revolta's performance is ham-heavenly bliss. For the seasoned bad-movie watcher only....but if you count yourself among that number--and God help you if you do--you must have blown a head-gasket if you haven't seen the glorious trainwreck that is Battlefield Earth.

Oh, and Scientologists eat babies.

September 1, 2014

In My Sleep

In My Sleep is what you get when a mediocre filmmaker gets entirely too excited after seeing Memento for the first time: cheap, confusing, and kind of shitty. In fact, you could say that if you watch this movie, you'll be in your sleep in no time! Ha! I got a million of 'em, a-cha-cha!

A guy who looks enough like Helo that I was continually annoyed he wasn't Helo stars as Marcus, a shallow, self-hating sex addict who is also a sleepwalker who continually wakes up in various embarrassing places with no memory of how he came to be there. If that doesn't sound like enough crippling mental issues for one indie film protagonist, trust me, it's more than enough. And if you haven't already started writing the plot for this movie in your head, then you're probably a happy, well-adjusted person who hasn't spent her life watching terrible indie suspense thrillers.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, not-Helo awakens in bed covered in blood with the Fuzz beating down his door. Our hero hides his bloody knife and cleans up a bit before letting the Man in. While one of the Po-pos glances briefly around searches the apartment, the other gives one of the most jaw-droppingly awful performances you've never seen as he interrogates Marcus with all the intimidation that his utter absence of acting talent can muster. Marcus stands in awe of the bad acting clinic the 5-0 puts on, gives him some bull, and sends him and his partner off none the wiser. Soon enough Marcus finds out that his best friend's wife Ann, with whom he just had a one-night stand, has been knife-murdered, and the best friend (a certain Justin) is increasingly suspected of being the culprit. Except when the schizophrenic detective handling the case has another episode and decides to treat Marcus like the prime suspect instead. It's that kind of movie.

Marcus worries that he may have murdered his best friend's wife in a sleepwalking stupor, so he does what any of us would do: He gets Mako to handcuff him to his bed every night so he won't go out a-murderin'. Mako clearly wants to jump his bones, but being that he's a sex addict, he flatly rejects the advances of his hot, unattached, and obviously (and I mean obviously) willing upstairs neighbor. No, instead he goes to Sexaholics Anonymous (I'm serious) where he immediately puts the make on fellow sex addict and lifelike mannequin Gwen (Abigail Spencer), who is emphatic that she will only be friends with men from this point forward--no sex, no siree! Marcus invites Gwen to totally-not-prelude-to-freaky-sex dinner at his apartment, but then Mako appears at the door with handcuffs asking if it's time to "lock you up", and Gwen leaves in a huff. See, it's funny because she's jealous and thinks he's going to have intense light bondage sex with Mako, when really he's only trying to avoid sleepwalker murder! Oh Gwen, you've got it all wrong!

Once he finds out Gwen is a nurse, Marcus gives her a sample of the blood he was earlier covered in to find out if it's his or not, despite the fact that he clearly has no injury that would've produced that much blood. (I assume the film's budget didn't cover the forensics lab in his bedroom in which he stored this sample for several days.) Turns out it's someone else's blood (bum bum bum!), but then Gwen implies that she won't send the sample off for the necessary further testing to find out whose blood it is unless he sleeps with her. Now that the movie has finally had a decent scene and built a modicum of interest and dramatic tension, the next scene immediately undercuts it all by revealing that Gwen is in fact Ann's previously-mentioned but unseen sister who has been spying on Marcus. See, Ann confessed her one-night stand to Gwen just before her murder, so Gwen infiltrated the SA meeting on suspicion that Marcus was involved.

Um...then why did Gwen get all huffy when Mako showed up with the cuffs? And why did she hint that she would help Marcus in exchange for sex? I think writer/director/producer/caterer/Grand Moff/Supreme Overloard of the Tripton Lineage Allen Wolf indulged in about 68 too many script re-writes. You've got your sex addiction plot and your murderous sleepwalker plot, and they seem to exist in separate movies. Equally boring, stiffly acted, boring movies, but separate movies. The one point at which it seemed these two plots might intersect in some way (Gwen's demand for sex in order to continue helping Marcus despite her earlier dedication to not engaging in such relations) is undermined by the sudden and highly moronic revelation that Gwen is Ann's sleuthing sister and not a sex addict at all, utterly ruining the film's one chance of rising to the mediocrity of your average Hitchhiker episode.

Oh, and once Gwen reveals her secret truth, she disappears from the movie. That's right, her sleuthing, her accusations, the whole whose-blood-is-it bit--all of it gets dropped like a smart bomb on the Middle East. Gwen doesn't factor into the reveal of the killer at all.

If you care about the resolution of this story--and God help you if you do--Marcus reads that sleepwalkers don't swim during their episodes (both Marcus and Justin were established as swimmers early in the film), so he places the knife in the drain at the bottom of the pool in his apartment complex. When Justin confronts him over Ann's death, Marcus calls Mako to check on the knife, which she immediately does. Man, this chick changes into a swimsuit and goes downstairs to the pool and dives to the bottom of it to root around in the disgusting pool drain to see if the knife Marcus may or may not have murdered someone with is still safely hidden on demand, and the guy won't even return her flirtation. Men. Amirite, ladies?

Anyway, when she tells him the knife is missing, Marcus knows he's innocent after all (so then whose blood was he covered in, and why?) and goads Justin into revealing that he's actually the killer. (I hope you were sitting down for that shocking revelation.) They fight, because you have to fight in these things, and then the bronze show up just in time for Justin to accidentally fall on the knife and die. The film's final scene has Mako revealing that Marcus did sleep with her some days before--in his sleep (like in the title!)--but doesn't remember. (Rob Ford might want to give this "did it in my sleep" excuse a try.) They embrace in a way that (I guess?) means Marcus is going to try to have an actual relationship for the first time. Because nothing gets you to settle down with a girl like sleeping with your best friend's wife, thinking you might have murdered her, concealing your possible murderin' from the police, and watching your best friend die in your arms after a struggle over the knife he tried to kill you with, amirite? Guise?

You know you're in trouble when Mako gives by far the best performance in the movie. She's genuine, likeable, and believable in the role, none of which describes any of the other actors. The better ones (Justin, Ann, Marcus) are stiff and awkward, while the less said about the rest (Gwen, the schizo detective, the kid playing Young Marcus in the repressed memory scene that reveals why he's both a sleepwalker and a sex addict*), the better. In fact, the less said about this movie, the better.

Now how about a romantic comedy starring Helo and Mako? Helo is the intergalactic bounty hunter, Mako is the Cylon infiltrator who falls in love with him, and somehow the whole thing ends with Cylon raiders attacking the Death Star.

"You're far too trusting. Caprica is too remote to make an effective demonstration, but don't worry. We'll deal with your toaster friends soon enough."


* Spoiler: He has daddy issues.

July 23, 2014

Your Movie Is Meh And You Should Time Out

Your old pal Carl Eusebius has seen a lot of crap, but most of it doesnt make the cut for this blog. For something to end up here, it has to be bad. Real bad. Like, Lady Gagas latest outfit bad. Rob Ford apology bad. Keanu Reeves emoting bad. 95% of the garbage I see just dont rate.

But there are a few bad movies that are so infamous that they deserve a brief mention, if not a full-on review. (At least, not yet.) So behold: single-sentence capsule reviews of some of the word shit ever put on film.

88 Minutes—A strictly-in-it-for-the-money Al Pacino runs around Vancouver while on the phone with a Ray Liotta fangirl for 88 fucking minutes.

After Last Season—A psycho killer’s ghost doesn’t do much while people blow their lines repeatedly and/or get their heads examined in an MRI machine patently made of papier-mâché.

Air Collision—A passenger airline collides with Air Force One. Hilarity ensues.

Alien vs. PredatorAliens and Predators run around Vancouver and occasionally kill people and/or each other.

Alien vs. Predator: RequiemAliens and Predators run around Vancouver and occasionally kill people and/or each other, only this time its filmed so dark you cant see a goddamned thing.

Alone in the Dark—World-famous Jack Nicholson impersonator Christian Slater stars as a self-proclaimed paranormal investigator who teams up with Tara Reid as the least credible professor this side of Denise Richards and Stephen Dorff as that guy who came this close to having a career to battle hordes of demons that you can’t see unless you look at them. Also, at no point is anyone ever alone in the dark. (Uwe Boll Count: 1)

The Apple—A highly ‘70s musical about the temptation of hippy Adam and Eve by the corrupt pop music industry, man.

Birdemic: Shock and Terror—Still drawings of birds menace people who couldn’t act surprised at their own birthday parties.

Bloodrayne—Michelle Rodriguez and the Terminatrix have a hot lesbian fling and then go on set to shoot scenes for this movie, while a villainous Ben Kingsley goes Full Costner. (Uwe Boll Count: 2)

Body of Evidence—Willem Dafoe defends a stone-faced Anna Nicole Smith Madonna from the charge that she humped an old man to death for his money.

Cool As Ice—Some black people stand in the background behind Eminem Vanilla Ice so we know hes "down with it" while he steals a 30-year-old high school student away from her 1950s preppie boyfriend. Yep, yep. Word to ya mutha. Drop that zero and get with the hero!

DOA: Dead or Alive—Animated plastic muppet Devon Aoki and a merry band of nobodies battle an unstoppable Eric Roberts until they remember that his powers are entirely due to his magic sunglasses and knock them off his face, ensuring his defeat.

Dragonball: Evolution—A villainous alien named “Piccolo” with hilariously bad make-up battles weaboos.

Flesh Wounds—Stop me if you think that youve heard this one before: Hercules leads a team of elite Imperial commandos on a mission to rescue some of our people only to find out they werent told the real story just as they realize theyre being picked off one by one by a technologically-advanced hunter who detects them by means of their body heat and and uses an invisibility screen to blend into the jungle--oh, youve heard this one.

Gigli—Ben Lopez and Jennifer Affleck are tough-as-nails mobsters who kidnap a sub-Rain Man performance and encounter first the Walken and then Pacino at approximately Devils Advocate-level overacting.

The Happening—Mark Wahlberg and that guppy-faced woman are menaced by murderous wind.

House of the Dead—Heavily-armed ravers fight off hordes of zombies and editing mistakes. (Uwe Boll Count:3 )

The Howling 2: Stirba, Werewolf BitchSaruman the White and Yor, Hunter From the Future go to Transylvania to stake through the heart dozens of vampires werewolves extras with crepe fur hastily pasted to their bodies while Sybil Danning reveals her ample talents.

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale—A not very Statham-y Jason Statham joins up with Hellboy to defend the titular king, a nearly-catatonic Burt Reynolds(!), from a scenery-chewing Ray Liotta and the kings treacherous nephew Matthew Lillard(!!), while John Rys-Davis, Leelee Sobieski, and Will Sanderson collect paychecks. (Uwe Boll Count: 4)

JumperAndrogyn Crywhiner stars as a punk nobody who undeservedly lucks into success himself, trying to elude the completely understandable attempts of Samuel L. Jackson’s bad hairstyle to kill him.

The King of FightersMaggie Q and a few other non-Japanese Japanese run around Vancouver after Darth Maul crashes the Chan Centre to steal a magic sword that will allow him to take over the world. Canadians are apathetic about this.

The Last Sentinel—Dragon "The Don" Fancypants McWilson mows down so many dozens of robots/androids/soldiers/whatevers that he almost changes his expression. Starbuck guest-stars as a woman guest-starring in The Last Sentinel.

Legion—Rogue angels lay siege to a gas station to prevent the birth of John Connor of Nazareth.

Rollerball (2002)—When his NHL career doesnt pan out, extreeeeeme sports enthusiast Flavor of the Month joins Washed-Up-Rapper-Turned-Actor and Mystique to play a slightly beefed-up version of roller derby crossed with the WWE thats actually less violent and dangerous than the NHL.

The Room—A creepy, indeterminately European man is devastated when his air-headed gold-digging girlfriend cheats on him with—oh hai, Mark.

Street Fighter—Mealy-mouthed Jean-Claude Van Damme gets blown off the screen by a villainous and terribly charismatic Raul Julia.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun LiA young Chinese girl grows up to become the emphatically not Chinese Kristin Kreuk, who runs around her hometown of Vancouver while things happen that absolutely no one gives a shit about.

Zardoz!A giant floating stone head intones that "The Gun is Good, The Penis is Evil", prompting Sean Connery in a bright red diaper to do righteous battle against immortal hippies.

So, I ask you, my legion of loyal fans, is there any among these that you would see as the next review? Leave your request in the comments. I wont actually pay any attention, but at least you can feel a sense of accomplishment pretending that I read your comment.

Im kidding about that, of course. I don’t have any fans.

July 6, 2014

Tomorrow, When the War Began

Tomorrow, When the War Began is the worst thing to come out of Australia since Rupert Murdoch. Apparently, the Empire's uglier, untalented, and less successful younger sibling* decided to do a shitty remake of Red Dawn two years before we did and to give it the worst title of any film not called Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever.

Now your old pal Carl Eusebius has never seen and will never see The Hunger Games. I liked it the first time I saw it, when it was called Battle Royale. It's also young adult fiction, a genre I've had no interest in since I started reading real fiction. I imagine that I'd react to The Hunger Games source novel in the same way I reacted to the first Harry Potter novel when I read it: "This is well-written, reasonably cliche-free, and totally uninteresting to me."

I don't know how good the source novel for Last Week, When the War Will Start is because I'd never read anything with such an embarrassing title, but if the movie is any indication, it makes Games and Potter look like fucking masterpieces. Released two years after the first Twilight movie, the film does its best to ape Stevenie Meyer. (Stop for a moment and contemplate the sheer horror of that statement.) It's got the completely out of place teen angst, the stammering virgin heroine, the perfect pairing off of couples so that nobody has to be single, the abstinence porn, the illusion of danger while nobody really gets hurt, the hundred-year-old vampire stalker...okay, I may have added that last one.

Stop me if you've heard this one: A nefarious Asian country invades a land of white freedom without warning, achieves complete surprise and occupies large parts of the country, rounds up people and puts them in a giant camp in the middle of town (even though such a logistical nightmare would make it harder to govern the captured territory), and only a small, rag-tag band of teenagers remains to form a resistance movement. Sprinkle this plot stolen from Red Dawn with Twilight teen-angst romance, and you have Three Months From Now, When I May or May Not Have Made Toast.

Now I bang on to anybody who will listen about how Hotlips Neverland is a fucking terrible name for a protagonist that would alone put me off ever reading or watching The Hunger Games, but I'll give it this: It's unique and memorable. I wish to God I could forget it, but at least it's distinctive.

This film opens on the slightly-less-memorably-named Ellie Linton (Caitlin Stasey), the leader of our band of resistance fighters, speaking into the camera about how she hopes "all we've lost" will be worth it. Clearly the resistance has succeeded in keeping open its supply lines to Max Factor, since Ellie's hair and make-up are perfect. She looks like someone who at worst may have spent 24 hours in the bush. The film then flashes back to a group of six indistinguishable Australian 20-somethings trying to act like they're in high school as they prepare for a camping trip that will conveniently have them away from their homes when the unnamed but highly Asian invading army strikes. These first twenty minutes of the film had me alternately praying for death and shouting at the screen for somebody to invade something already. The "hip youth" banter combined with stilted performances of the actors playing the teens made these scenes intolerable to sit through, though I did have a laugh when the hottest of the girls (the one played by a fucking model), one Fiona, confesses that no boy has asked her out in the last year. Now I know you can't cast an actual normal girl in the role of "mousy wallflower that the boys don't like", but actress Phoebe Tonkin isn't even movie-ugly. Way to cast the goddamn model as the ugly one, you clods.

Still, it was hilarious to watch the comparatively much more normal-looking Ellie reassure Fiona that there's some special guy out there who will lower himself to ask out a girl who puts Scarlett Johansson to shame. The movie even acknowledges this later when it objectifies her Michael Bay-style as she strips down to a bikini and the camera ogles her body that could melt a cheese sandwich from across the room. This angelic sight distracts her love interest Smoke Manmuscle (complete with Power Mullet) from the rugby game he's playing, allowing him to be tackled as he stands flat-footed gawking at her. So is she a sex bomb or a sheltered introvert? Oh, that's right, she's a nonexistent male fantasy woman, ranking just below the Manic Pixie Dream Girl and slightly higher than the Lipstick Lesbian Who Only Needs a Real Man to Turn Her Straight. Yep, Fiona is the Sweet Girl Who's Innocently Unaware of Her Beauty. Oh, I do hope we get the scene in which Smoke tells her she's pretty!

Once the war began, the stupid--and therefore the movie--picks up quite a bit, except for whenever we go back to the teen angst. The teens return from camping to find their respective homes abandoned, with no indication of where or why the families have gone. (This could've been interesting or suspenseful if Ellie hadn't seen the invasion force's planes flying overhead the previous night.) Ellie, galpal Corrie (Rachel Hurd-Wood), and Corrie's boyfriend Kevin (Lincoln Lewis) find the prisoner camp (which, again, houses the entire town), witness some pointless brutality on the part of the soldiers so we know they're evil (in case their being Asian wasn't clue enough), and escape under sustained machine gun fire from the soldiers. These jokers must have graduated from the Stormtrooper Academy, since they fire literally thousands of rounds at the teens over the course of the movie and never hit anyone except the one time during the climax when the script says they can finally tag one of 'em.

Ellie and Corrie fall behind Kevin and so get separated from him. The dialogue in this scene and in later scenes indicates that we're supposed to regard Kevin's running away as cowardice, but really, what's he going to do? They're running, he's running. What difference does it make if he's running beside them instead of ahead of them? In fact, separating is probably the smarter call. That Corrie keeps beating up on him days later fer bein' yella is moronic.

Ellie and Corrie then teleport by means of poor editing to the yard of a nearby house. A good dozen soldiers, accompanied by an APC, arrive and proceed to search for them. Corrie somehow doesn't see a giant fucking riding lawnmower in her path and runs directly into it with such force that she renders herself unable to walk(?). Ellie drags her behind the hedgerows where they sit and wait for the searching soldiers to find them. (Kevin's running away from you two twits is looking pretty damn smart right now.) I won't even get into how Ellie manages to blow up the lawnmower right when the two soldiers searching the yard are standing next to it. What I want to know is why none of the other soldiers reacts. You'd think they might want to check out the gigantic explosion or the fire currently burning in the area they're searching. Nope, in the next scene Ellie and Corrie have teleported to the group's safehouse...wherever it is in relation to...wherever they just were. Stupid movie.

The gang is supposed to meet up with Ellie's Secret Crush, Lee (Chris Pang), and the kid this group of horny teens inexplicably hangs around with, Robyn (Ashleigh Cummings). Robyn, in an addition to being like 11, is also a committed Christian and pacifist who refuses to take up arms against the Yellow Peril. I sure hope she isn't put in a situation in which she has to choose between her pacifism and blowing away the scum to save her friends! The gang eventually finds Lee being treated for a leg wound by The Dentist (Colin Friels), one of the few townspeople to remain free. Friels was like a cup of soup to a starving man, effortlessly performing his expository dialogue as if he were an actual, like, actor. Then he disappears from the movie, the Dentist having rather wisely refused to join the gang. Since Lee can't walk, the gang decides they need a vehicle. Instead of trying to come up with a way to escape surreptitiously like everybody else, Ellie decides to get a set of wheels so big and tough that the soldiers won't be able to stop them. Amazingly, everybody agrees to this titanically stupid plan, so they offscreen teleport into a garbage truck. Where did they get that? Why is it drivable, with keys and all? How does Ellie know how to drive it? Why do they need it, when they could just use another bad edit to teleport back to their safehouse? These questions and many, many, many others will remain unanswered by Fourscore and Seven Years Ago, When the Conflagration Did Suddenly and Violently Arise.

The truck is chased by soldiers in dune buggies, just so we know we're in Australia. I don't want to keep you in suspense, but they escape to their hideout completely unharmed. That's right, they drive right up to their hideout. In a garbage truck. Without even turning off its flashing yellow lights. Oh yeah, these kids are so going to make it as hit-and-run resistance fighters.

Lee and Ellie reveal their feelings for each other so that Ellie can angst about how she doesn't want to love when there's a war on. This storyline didn't bother me as much as the other two couple plotlines (Corrie and Kevin, Fiona and Smoke) because the guy playing Lee is probably the best actor of the bunch and it isn't often that Western films portray Asian men in a positive romantic or sexual light. In fact, I can't think of a single Western mainstream film that has the main female white character end up with an Asian romantic partner. Fortunately, we find out that the unnamed Asian army is conquering Australia because it won't share its economic resources with Asia's poor teeming masses. Whew! For a second I was afraid Australia wasn't as racist as I'd heard.

Blah blah, they blow up a bridge, Corrie gets shot by the script, Kevin does some heroic things to make up for his earlier cowardice that didn't seem much like cowardice to me, Robyn is put in a situation in which she has to choose between her pacifism and blowing away the scum to save her friends, Kevin decides to take the dying Corrie to the hospital even though it means his and her certain capture, and the movie ends with the remaining "commandos" posing for a picture that nobody took and declaring they'll fight to the end and that their secret base hasn't been found yet(!). So the invaders didn't search the house with the garbage truck they were earlier pursuing parked outside it? didn't interrogate any townspeople to discover who might be out there and where they might be hiding? captured one of the teens but couldn't get a name or a location out of him? Worst. Invaders. Ever.

So "all we've lost" turns out to be, at most, 1 presumed dead and 1 probably captured, with the other six totally fine. (The group picked up a pothead along the way for some stoner "humor". Trust me, you don't want to hear about it.) You know, you won't hear me say much good about Red Dawn, but at least it ended the only way it could end, with the deaths of all resistance fighters. A bunch of untrained, unsupported teenagers resisting an organized, well-equipped force that's happy to murder innocent people will not come to any other end. How sad, that after giving us a film that we've been ripping off routinely for 30 goddamn years, Australia's now stealing from us. They gave us Mel Gibson and Vernon Wells in assless chaps, and we gave them Patrick Swayze and His Mullet.

As bad as The Book of Eli was, I'd say score one for America on that trade. USA! USA! USA!


* Think Jamie Lynn Spears or Frank Stallone, but an entire country.

July 4, 2014

Happy Birthday, America!

On this day, in the year of Our Ford One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-six, the semi-divine beings known to all people as the Founders proclaimed the establishment of Our Glorious Empire and told that old rotter on the English throne to piss off. Now All-under-Heaven does homage to Our Emperor, transforming themselves into peace-loving citizens of liberal democracy in response to His Shining Radiance, His Really Big Tanks, His Unmanned Drones, and His Totally Accurate Smart Bombs.

As an Imperial citizen among the Northern Barbarians, I praise the loyal service of their chief, who received his noble title "Prime Minister of Canada" by the good graces of Our Emperor. May he continue to transform the ways of the Northern Barbarians into Our ways and thereby move them from savagery to Civilization, and also keep building environmentally-devastating pipelines to provide us with oil and other resources as our corporations deem necessary.

I hope you will join with not only your old pal Carl Eusebius but with all the people of All-under-Heaven in glorifying Our Glorious Empire and Our Noble Emperor who sits upon the Bald Eagle Throne.

You know what happens if you don't.

April 26, 2014

Stop Killing Michelle Rodriguez!

Look, just stop, okay? If you're going to make an interminably bad series of pain-by-numbers action films, do yourself a favor and hire Rodriguez for a 10 movie deal right out of the gate. If you kill her character off, somewhere down the line you'll have to spend those five extra minutes to come up with a way to bring her back through movie magic, so why not save yourself all that bother and don't kill her in the first place?

Resident Evil did it, and then a few movies later the "film"makers of that series realized that killing her off was stupid and so brought her back from the dead with sci-fi cloning magic technology, since, you know, they can do that. Now Even Faster and Moar Furiouser Part π has done it, after killing her off in That One They Made That Was the Same as the First One Minus the Definite Article.

So here's the lesson for Hollywood: Don't kill Michelle Rodriguez! Your shitty film series will be even shittier as a result, so Just Don't Do It.

And seriously, where is that Aliens remake? Rodriguez ain't getting any younger.

That is all.