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.