November 6, 2017

Fifty Shades of Gray

Fifty Shades of Gray is the shittiest turd shat out of Satan's fiery dickhole. It's an insult to women, the Holy English language, softcore pornography, BDSM, victims of abuse, the craft of writing, trees, the phonetic alphabet, lips and the biting thereof, young incredibly hot super-rich white guys...okay maybe not that last one.

Forget Frances Farmer, it's E.L. "Snowqueen's Icedragon" James who has had her revenge on Seattle for making it the setting of the worst fanfiction since "My Immortal". See James had herself a think one day: "I love Twilight, but it doesn't have quite enough misogyny and abusive control of female sexuality. I'd better crank the woman-hate up to 11 and out-Stevenie Meyer Stevenie Meyer by writing an even moar virginal, passive, blank-slate nonentity of a fauxtagonist and an even moar controlling, stalker-y, rich and powerful Real Man to grab her by the pussy because she's asking for it." And behold, it was done, and then Stormcloud's Lightningsalamander realized that catering to fetishes is big money, so she took her masterpiece down from free sites, did a Find-Replace for "Edward" and "Bella", and bob's your uncle, Britain's fastest-selling paperback of all time. And of course Hollywood sharks were drawn to the smell of green in the water, and so we get two hours of Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian "Not A Sparkly Vampire" Gray (Jamie Dornan) pretending to fuck.

That fetish, of course, is incredibly steamy, kinky domination-submission biting women's lower lips. Ladies, if your fetish is to drive a man wild so that he'll fuck you any time, anywhere, every time you bite your lower lip, this is the movie for you! Though he doesn't like it when you do that, because he wants to do it. Except he desires you when you do it. It's that kind of movie.

Allow me to give you a synopsis of the plot: Girl meets boy, boy demands a nondisclosure agreement and signed contract in order to fuck, girl refuses contract, boy fucks girl, boy and girl talk about fucking, boy fucks girl, boy and girl talk about fucking, boy fucks girl, boy and girl talk about fucking, boy fucks girl, boy and girl talk about fucking, boy belt-whips girl, girl leaves boy. The End.

And if you don't like all them thar f-words, don't blame me. This is the language chosen by Rainmaker's Dewhamster. Not that your old pal Carl Eusebius minds bad language. I mean, you have read this blog, right? What I do mind is writing like this: "I don't make love. I fuck. Hard." That Anastasia didn't immediately laugh and kick Christian in the jimmy upon hearing this line made me instantly lose the zero respect I had for her up until this point.

The movie is a teensy improvement over the book--how could it possibly not be--yet is somehow worse since we're watching poor Jamie Dornan trying to bring Christian "Ted Bundy" Gray to life as written. The movie even begins on him and occasionally shows things from his perspective, which is already an improvement over the book. A book, written entirely in the first-person present-tense (you know, the way I wrote fiction when I was eight), that includes such adult dialogue as "his erection, holy cow", "holy crap", "double crap", "I must be the color of the Communist Manifesto", "You. Are. So. Sweet.", "my very small inner goddess sways in a gentle victorious samba", "very varied", "He's so good at sex", "Christian's mood is almost tangible"...I could go on. At least the movie drops most of the howler lines, though it does keep "holy crap", that "I don't make love" line, and "I'm fifty shades of fucked up" (lolwut?). Still, it more than makes up for with the materialism porn, with loving shots of entire garages full of luxury cars, personal helicopters, and enormous $10,000-a-month apartments. Ladies, if a man is nothing more than a dong and a fat wallet to you, this is your movie!

I don't want to beat up on the actors too much, since both Johnson and Dornan get way more out of this crap than the script, a shockingly literal interpretation of the book, deserves. What little identification with and feeling you have for these characters is entirely due to the actors' performances. They're both at their best in the final scenes, when Ana realizes she can never truly please Christian in the sack. Which, since their relationship is based entirely on sex, kind of hurts their chances. Still, while Johnson looks like she has something behind her eyes apart from empty air and is suitably Hollywood-plain (if still disturbingly thin, such that you can see her rib cage whenever she lifts her arms over her head, eww), Dornan doesn't bring anything like the slick charm and charisma Christian is supposed to exude. Think Christian Bale in American Psycho, and you'll be thinking of a good movie instead of this junk. Book Christian's expression is supposed to turn hard and cold when he goes into his alleged scary "dominant" phase, but Dornan either doesn't try or utterly fails to convey this. I'm reminded of the opening scene in Memento, when Leonard and Teddy are talking just before Teddy's murder. Teddy is laughing at and taunting Leonard until  Leonard's expression subtly changes, and both Teddy and the audience instantly know he's just reached that dark, inhuman place one has to enter in order to murder someone in cold blood. Dornan never does that, so we don't get any of the real danger the book tells us Anastasia feels. Maybe the director figured out Book Christian is a fucking psychopath every woman should avoid like a men's rights activist.

Speaking of being goddamn psycho, stop me when Christian gets scary enough for you to run away and get a thousand restraining orders:
1) After meeting you and having a conversation with you lasting all of four minutes, he finds out where you work and shows up unannounced.
2) He asks you to coffee, then says you'll never see him again.
3) Upon your drunk-dialing him, the second thing out of his mouth is "Where are you?"
4) Upon your hanging up on him, he calls back to say he's tracked your location by your cell phone and is coming to get you.
5) He actually comes to get you.
6) He gallantly takes your falling-down-drunk and then unconscious ass home to his place.
7) He undresses you while you're passed out.
8) He sleeps next to your unconscious form in his bed.
9) He gets all smug and self-satisfied answering no when you ask him if he raped you.
10) His personal servant shows up with a new bra and panties set that fits you perfectly.
11) He's a billionaire who regularly eats at IHOP.
12) He's good friends with the pedophile rapist who abused him for six years and actually says to you, "I don't understand why you feel you have to demonize her."(!!)
13) He wants to watch you have a gynecological exam. Given by his personal doctor. Whom he brought to his home specifically to examine you.
14) He shakes hands with his father.
15) While visiting your mother in Georgia, you text him "Wish you were here" and he flies across the country that night to show up the next day in your hotel's lounge and then watches you there for a while before creepily revealing his presence.
16) He doesn't like Britney Spears's "Toxic".
17) You feel he's abusing you, wants to hurt you, and uses sex as a weapon against you.

Personally I'd run screaming to the cops at 1). Okay, I cheated a bit, since a few of those are from the book. But most of them, and the most egregious ones (except for hating "Toxic"), remain in the film. And so does the softcore sex. So if you want to see lots of either naked Johnson or Dornan (but not Dornan's johnson), this is your movie.

As another wonderful and actually serious movie reviewer noted in her review, the problem with this movie isn't the sex. It's not even real BDSM. For anyone who thinks it is, allow me to give you another list. Here are all the sexual acts in this movie:

Vaginal intercourse
Cunnilingus (these three grouped together as "vanilla")
the lightest possible bondage
ice play
beating with a belt

Now I've told my regular readers (all two of you) that my high school clique was The Gamers. So I was hardly A Goddamned Sexual Tyrannosaurus. Yet with the exception of that last one (which is the last thing that happens in the movie, after which Anastasia breaks up with Christian), I did all of these things and more in high school. I mean, when your sex life is less kinky than the high school valedictorian's, you ain't BDSM. In fact, this movie (and the book much more so) depict BDSM as deviant, wrong, a result of abuse, a trauma to be overcome. In the book Ana even talks about Christian leading her to "dark places" and speculates on whether or not she can bring him "into the light". And Christian is a terrible dominant, since he's trying to force a woman who isn't submissive into becoming so. This isn't my analysis, folks. Our, uh, "characters" say it several times, with Christian flat out stating Anastasia isn't submissive and never will be. I'm no expert on BDSM, but I'm pretty sure that's not how it's supposed to work. And these people drink fucking constantly. In almost every scene, people are drinking, very often to the point of drunkenness, and Christian routinely gets Anastasia drunk so he can have his sexual way with her provides Anastasia with glass after glass of the finest wines. I mean yer old pal Carl Eusebius is a bloody alcoholic and I was wondering how any of these characters has a liver left. Christ.

Fifty Shades of Gray is an anti-feminist celebration of male privilege and female naivete and virginity, a toothless fake wannabe transgression that's so vanilla Rick James would be happy to take it home to mother. On behalf of all the perfectly normal, mentally solid, happy practitioners of BDSM, fuck this movie and the shitty fanfic it was based on.*


* Not that BDSM practitioners need me to speak for them. I just want to add my voice to the chorus.

July 24, 2017

Red Sky

I hope you enjoyed the spittle-flecked ranting about movies fucking up the military in my last review, because you'll be getting it cranked up to 11 here. Yep, I'm reviewing the finest US-Russian co-produced low-budget airplane porn that sports both godawful CGI and President Lone Starr ever made.

Red Sky is a shitty mash-up of Top Gun (sure) and Iron Eagle II (Jesus, why?) starring New Jack City, Twilight Douchebag, and Jaesa Willsaam. Sadly it's Light Side Jaesa, so those of us (and we know who we are) hoping to see her forget exactly whether she slept with, murdered, or slept with and then murdered a guy she picked up in a bar will have to look elsewhere.

Ditto those of us hoping to see a good movie.

I'm not sure why the filmmakers bothered to hire actual actors who probably ate up budget dollars that should've gone toward making the terrible CGI airplanes slightly less terrible. Okay, New Jack City directed the thing (and so had the clout to give himself the best role), but why hire Jaesa? Why get somebody who can act and then give her an entirely superfluous role where the only time she seems to understand her function in the scene is when she's fawning over the lead actor or having sex with him--wait, objection withdrawn. Fortunately for fans of terrible acting we've got Twilight Douchebag to perform a fucking master class in it, demonstrating every possible way not to give a performance. He overacts, he's wooden, he appears confused and without direction, he portrays the wrong emotion, he portrays no emotion, he projects zero charisma or screen presence--whatever the scene doesn't call for, he provides in spades. Lone Starr looks like he'd rather be anywhere else, and by God I wanted to send him there. The rest of the cast merely exist, playing their one-dimensional roles with all the passion and skill they honed in community theater.

We open on scary, suspenseful music as a group of musclebound knuckleheads move through the darkness and then draw a cat nose and whiskers on a sleeping guy. The k-heads are constantly yammering and shining their flashlights in Guy's face, so he must be passed out drunk not to wake up immediately. Then I cringe as the camera reveals Guy is wearing a flight suit. These guys are the movie's ace pilots? Somebody get Cthulhu on the line so It can go ahead and devour humanity now. Cthulhu fhtagn. And looks like I was right about Guy being passed out drunk. I mean, why else would he be sleeping in bed with his flight suit on? None of the other k-heads is wearing one, so it ain't like they're on alert or anything. Guy suddenly wakes up and yells terrible dialogue at his "friends", but it's okay, they finished drawing the whiskers already. Whew! That was...too close.

Cut to a briefing the next morning, with all the k-heads in attendance, including Guy...with the cat whiskers still on his face! Oh boy, here we go with the ranting. So if you didn't know, guys in the military shave. Every day. At least, every day they have to show up for work. It's the law. Seriously, it's military law that you have to shave. So there's no way Guy wouldn't see the shit on his face. Even if he didn't think he needed to shave that day, he'd check. He'd check his uniform in the mirror to make sure all the doodads were on right and it wasn't wrinkled or stained, especially since officers (which pilots are) are extra scrupulous about their appearance. But I don't know why I'm harping on this so much, since everybody in the briefing room--including the guy in charge, a major(!)--has hair so far out of regs Mr. Strickland would give them all detention. If your budget doesn't extend to getting the actors haircuts, you should probably reconsider making your film.

We're next introduced to all of our characters through the tried-and-true bad movie technique of putting their names up on the screen. Yeah, fuck introducing characters through dialogue. Just digitally flash their names in front of us while they're wearing helmets and strapping oxygen masks over the lower half of their faces, and we'll know them all like our own fathers. Hilariously, the two pilots played by "name" actors (Twilight Douchebag and somebody called "Shane West") get full names; the community theater troupe members only get last names. Wow, way to connect me to these people, movie. (Future Carl: Everybody's full name is listed in the end credits. So they bothered to come up with first names for the other characters but never told the audience? What gives?)

The movie betrays its love for Iron Eagle by calling its lead character Butch "Cobra" Masters(!!). Really? Iron Eagle? A film series even recovering airplane porn addict Carl Eusebius recognizes as a steaming pile of ass? "Cobra" is a lame call sign that's still too dignified for Twilight Douchebag. I hereby dub him "D-Bag".

D-Bag and Shane West (call sign: "Rodeo"), along with their WSOs, get into their really fucking obviously phony cockpits while stock footage of an aircraft carrier shows us actual F/A-18 Hornets preparing for launch. Then really bad CGI Hornets take off, ripping off the iconic "aileron roll with the carrier in the background" shot from Top Gun, if that shot were hilariously cheap CGI instead of a real aircraft taking off from a real carrier.

And then...oh, the stupid. The stupid, it hurts. The boys get a call from New Jack City on the ground, identifying himself as "Warlord 2". NJC orders them to destroy a building...somewhere. They demand the authorization code (the what now?), which they receive. D-Bag protests that the mission was simply to patrol. Rodeo counters that the code is good, so he tries to shoot the building. His missiles don't work(?), so D-Bag has to do it. He does. It turns out it's an American building, or Americans are there, or something, and a single "soldier" (remember that) is killed. The superweapon (come on, you knew there had to be a superweapon) is gone. Or destroyed? Or maybe it was never there? Who knows? (Well, the audience knows, since we see NJC order his people to go to the ruins and steal it.)

This authorization code business is some shit the writers made up to hide that fact that in the real world their stupid plot would never work. Unless you're under immediate attack, you don't just run over to a fighter plane and take it up in the air. You meet with your superiors, in which they carefully and in excruciating detail explain everything anyone could possibly need to know about the mission, and more besides. This is done in something called a "briefing". You know, that thing we just saw in the previous scene? In which the pilots were presumably told that their mission was to patrol? So there's no way in hell they'd then be told, in the air, in the middle of their mission, to go perform a totally different mission. I mean, they probably wouldn't even have the appropriate weapons to carry it out. Then there's fuel considerations....Look, the target isn't another jet, or a missile, or even a fucking truck, you know, something that moves. It's a building. Last time I checked, buildings don't drive away while you prep and launch a strike using pilots who have been told what the fuck they're supposed to do before they take a pair of $30 million planes in the air.

And remember my chain of command rant? I mean, come on. Fucking nobody, and certainly not elite Navy pilots flying planes carrying actual live weapons, takes orders from some asshole they've never heard of. Orders that contradict the instructions they were given by, you know, their actual commanders. Orders that require them to use their weapons. Against a target, they don't even know what it is. From a guy, they don't even know who he is. No way. Pilots, like everybody else in the military, take orders from their commanders. The ones on, you know, their carrier. The carrier they're in constant radio contact with (if not directly, then through an electronic warfare aircraft that would be coordinating this stuff). Which would allow them to perhaps question these strange orders, by saying something like "Who the fuck is Warlord 2, and where he'd get the cajones to radio me up and change my mission?"

But Tweedledum and Tweedledumber don't think of any of that, and they're all "Sure New Jack City, we'll go blow it up real gud for ya there, eh?" They're court-martialed. And let me make this very clear: They absolutely should be. And they should be found guilty. The movie acts like there being a real Warlord 2 exonerates them, but it doesn't. At all. Whoever Warlord 2 was, he wasn't in their chain of command. So any order from him carries no weight. That means they did violate their orders, they did fire their weapons without authorization, and these actions did result in a friendly fire incident.

In another hilarious bit, the knuckleheads' lawyer objects to a question asked to Rodeo, only for Rodeo to tell the judge that he will answer it(!), which he then proceeds to do(!!). Goddamn it, movie, there's an objection on the floor. The judge has to rule on it before anything else can happen. The witness can't just decide to answer a question that's been objected to. Good grief, forget Law & Order, you could watch an episode of fucking Matlock and know that! And not that it matters--since the knuckleheads are absolutely guilty of the crime they've been accused of--but Lawyer never once raises the question of motive. Why, exactly, would 'Dum and 'Dumber want to blow up an American installation, and why would they come up with such a ridiculous cover story? I know they have the IQ of a brick between the two of them, else they wouldn't be in this situation in the first place, but at least ask why they didn't come up with something more reasonable than "a guy we didn't know told us to".

It doesn't matter though, because it turns out the prosecutor (Lone Starr) doesn't have the "HUD tapes" that contain all the information from their instruments, including radio communications of Warlord 2 giving them the order. Lone Starr remarks that this is convenient for 'Dum and 'Dumber. is? Isn't it equally convenient for the plot Warlord 2? No one knows what's on the tapes, so how does Lone Starr know they won't corroborate what the knuckleheads said? Anyway, the judge--the worst actor in the movie, which is saying something--says that without the tapes there's no case, and so 'Dum and 'Dumber, and their WSOs, should resign, and if Lone Starr is feeling nice, they'll get general discharges.

....the hell?!

You just said you don't have the evidence to convict them, you asshat! So why would they get general discharges? They can only get those if they did something wrong, and you've just admitted you have no case. You didn't say, "We've got good evidence, just not enough to convict you in a court-martial." You said no case. And what's Lone Starr got to do with it? He's just a lawyer. He doesn't have any say in how their discharge from the Navy would be characterized. Even the judge doesn't have that authority. Only the knuckleheads' commander does. Plus, what's with resigning? The point of resigning is to get somebody out without having to throw her out. But a general discharge is how you throw someone out. You don't need them to resign to do that. So why wouldn't they fight rather than resign, when the result of fighting couldn't be worse? And really, I can't see how they wouldn't win that fight, since it would look like exactly what it is: their commander punishing them even though the court-martial failed to convict.

But the Plot-o-Matic will not be denied, so the knuckleheads all resign and get general discharges. Rodeo acts like a total ass to everybody and breaks off his engagement with Jaesa because she's too close to D-Bag (though West's and Douchebag's acting gives the distinct impression that Rodeo's jealous of her, if you know what I mean). Then we see a TV news report of the American 'Dum and 'Dumber killed, and he's clearly wearing a Marine uniform and so was not a soldier goddamn it you could read the Wikipedia article on the Marine Corps and know that. Now, journalists may not care much about the difference between a soldier and a Marine, but earlier it was Lone Starr who called the dead guy a soldier, and the military does care about that shit. So Lone Starr would definitely know Dead Guy should not be referred to as a "soldier", since Lone Starr is a pretty high-ranking officer and a lawyer and oh yeah he's in the fucking Navy which the Marines are sorta part of. (They're also sorta independent. It's weird.)

Anyway, flash forward seven years, and the knuckleheads now work together in the private sector, except D-Bag, who lives in a broken-down old plane that's decorated entirely in pictures and drawings and models of planes. Do you get that D-Bag likes airplanes? Because it's really important to the filmmakers that you do. In case the movie is too subtle for you in how it limns this rich characterization, D-Bag likes flying planes and he's sad now that he doesn't fly planes. I really hope that message is coming through. Rodeo disappears suddenly, and D-Bag refuses to help his friends look for him. Then he goes to Russia since a Russian company helped finance this turkey, and he just happens in that tiny city known as Moscow to randomly bump into Jaesa, who sadly doesn't run him through with a double-bladed lightsaber. (Now I'm really missing Dark Side Jaesa.) And yes, despite being young, smart, professionally successful, and adept in the Force, Jaesa even after seven years still carries a torch for D-Bag and isn't married or even involved with anyone. Sure. Forget the airplane stuff, this is the least believable thing in the movie. Then D-Bag goes back to his plane-house, and Lone Starr re-enters the movie to get the plot going. He wants D-Bag to lead the other two knuckleheads, plus some, uh, other guys, to blow up the superweapon in a black ops "we disavow any knowledge of this mission" mission. Their reward? Honorable discharges. No, not money or reinstatement into the Navy or retirement benefits. Just a "you done gud kid" from the Navy. Pretty weak tea to risk your life for, but if D-Bag says no there's no movie, so he agrees. Jaesa does some digging to find out just how super the superweapon is so that she can magically appear in Syria to tell the k-heads how totally dangerous and super it is when it's time to ramp up the tension before the climactic dogfight.

Lone Starr's plan gets cocked up immediately because it turns out NJC is a CIA agent and even after seven years nobody's figured out he works for the bad guys. (I wish I could call bullshit on that, but considering the CIA's track record of discovering double agents.....) Of course in the end it all comes down to a dogfight between the k-heads and their bro Rodeo, who's also been working for the bad guys the whole time. Rodeo is apparently better than anybody else at the whole fighter pilot thing, since not only can he consistently hit with his plane's cannon, he always manages to shoot holes in the other plane's canopy without killing the guys in the cockpit. Yes, on purpose. That's some fucking accurate gunfire right there. But then D-Bag reveals that the superweapon will kill lotsa people, and Rodeo immediately does a face-turn and reveals the location of the superweapon before crashing his own plane to stop the terrorist guy in his back seat from launching it, I guess. D-Bag flies to the location, but it turns out it's not the real location but a trap. NJC's waiting for him with a portable surface-to-air missile launcher, and he shoots the plane down with it. The end.

Then D-Bag appears and shoots NJC. Wait, what? Okay, so I guess D-Bag and his boy bailed out of the plane even though we clearly saw that they didn't, but how the fuck did they get to where NJC is? They'd have been floating back to the ground on parachutes for miles! And since NJC lied to Rodeo about where the superweapon was, where is it? The movie just cuts to Rodeo's funeral, where we're told D-Bag destroyed the superweapon. Uh, how? With what, his pistol? How did he figure out its actual location? NJC sure didn't tell him. Ah well, whatever, let's just end this stupid movie. Blah blah unfunny comic relief, the surviving k-heads get their honorable discharges from Lone Starr, roll credits.

And at no point does anything about a red sky even come up. They should've called this movie Generic Airplane-Related Title.

June 27, 2017

Fire From Below

No, not Fire Down Below. That one is lunkheaded action movie has-been-who-never-shoulda-been pompous religious nutjob Steven Seagal's brain-dead pseudo-environmentalist film. This one is lunkheaded action movie has-been-who-never-shoulda-been pompous religious nutjob Kevin Sorbo's brain-dead pseudo-environmentalist film. Put these two knuckleheads together and the gravity well of anti-acting will warp the very fabric of spacetime.

I recommend Fire From Below for anyone who needs to recalibrate her brain's logic circuits by watching something so preposterous it forces a master reset. This is a Siffy movie about sentient fire that's attracted to water and stalks and murders people like a flying snake monster. Yes, fire. Attracted to water.

Four words that are the harbingers of your doom: directed by Jim Wynorski. The man is such a titanic asshole that he slags people on the Internet who praise his films and is truly one of the world's lamest directors, because he always sucks in the same way and has none of the charming dedication to making artistic films despite an utter lack of artistic talent: your Ed Woods, your Bruno Matteis, your Neil Breens. Still, Sorbo's acting as executive producer makes the film even shittier. Is there nothing this man can't ruin? And since he's executive producer, how the hell did he allow himself to go on camera with his hair like that?

The credits hold moar terrors. Apparently two different people play "the sheriff", as displayed on screen. Either that, or the people who made this movie don't know how credits work. Then we get "Burton Gilliam as 'Bubba'". Yes, "Bubba" is in quotation marks. Now first, there's never been a good movie with a character named Bubba, nor shall there ever be. Second, who the fuck is Burton Gilliam? Or is the character and not the actor being spotlighted? The character with a stupid name, a dirty hat, and a face like a road accident, who exists solely to sexual harass a woman and then take a piss on camera before being blowed up real gud.

So the bad guy in the movie is a sleazy corporate executive type, who develops fire that zeros in on moisture because that somehow makes it specifically target people. Which are the only things you typically encounter that have any moisture in them. We're introduced to him walking up and down the same hallway since dressing a set costs money, along with the worst actor in the movie, and that's saying something. Your old pal Carl Eusebius was genuinely shocked to find that this woman--one Alex Meneses--had been acting for 15 years before this movie and had 47 credits on the IMdb. It must be some kind of achievement to do something professionally for that damn long and still be so fucking bad at it. She can barely recite Wynorski's ridiculous pseudoscientific gobbledygook in her remarkably robotic fashion. She only appears as a human being in scenes where she's being sexually harassed by Bubba or very obviously emoting that she still has a thing for old flame Sorbo, because if there are two attractive women in a Kevin Sorbo movie they both have to be his love interest, even if he never gives Meneses the time of day. I'm sure she pulls off the former because she doesn't have to act, per se; a woman who looks like Meneses undoubtedly has to fend off unwanted come-ons from cretinous lechers all the time. But my God, I hope that's not the same reason she pulls off the latter......

The fire kills a bunch of expendable meat in scenes we don't give a fuck about, including a hilarious attack on a boat in the middle of the lake that has the boat mostly, but in the end not quite, outrunning the fire. One woman in the boat, seeing the fire advancing menacingly on them, asks, "What's that?" What's that? It's fire, you silly bitch! I know the CGI in this movie is fucking awful, but Jesus, it's orange and crackling and hot. I'm glad they establish the fire is attracted to moisture, that way we get why it's going after the people. Who are currently on a lake. Then everyone in the town dies because of, uh, poison gas or something, so I'm glad we were introduced to a few of the townspeople in one scene. That way, the next scene in which they appear (you know, the one where they're all dead), we like care and stuff. Pathos, etc. Then the military shows up, and boy your old pal Carl Eusebius starts to get mad.

See, I really hate it when films and television get the military wrong. I don't know why that's one of my beefs, but it is. When they have military characters say and do things no one in the military would ever say or do, at least not without consequences. It takes me out of the film's world immediately. And it's usually laaaaaaazzzzzzzyyyyyyyy. It's not that hard to get this shit right, if you care. But if there's one thing Jim Wynorski doesn't care about, it's logic, coherence, pacing, tone, artistic integrity, consistency, drama, emotional resonance, avoidance of cliche, and attention to detail.

I have to go back to Battlestar Galactica again, because it fucking owns. That's getting the military right. One of my favorite scenes has Lee Adama, a member of Galactica's crew, being told by a member of the Pegasus crew that Galactica must follow one of Pegasus's policies. Lee responds that Galactica has its own commander and that that is who he takes his orders from. This is an excellent example of something called "chain of command", which the military takes very fucking seriously. It means that even though Pegasus's commander is an admiral, and thus outranks Galactica's commander, the Pegasus commander can't give orders directly to the crew of Galactica. What she could do is order Galactica's commander to tell his crew to do what she wants, but she can't issue those orders directly to them, despite her superior rank. Having a high rank doesn't automatically give you authority over everyone you encounter. The military has spent a very long time figuring out why chain of command is a good idea, which is why pretty much every large organization has adopted it.

Incidentally, it's one thing that bugged the shit out of me on Star Trek. Despite the fact that the original show was made by veterans and portrayed an essentially military organization, it ignored military policies that would prevent some of the absurd situations the crew of the Enterprise found themselves in. An even better example is The Next Generation episode "Disaster", in which there are only 3 people on the bridge at the time the titular catastrophe shuts down all communication and nearly all movement on the ship. Those 3 people? The navigation officer, the psychotherapist, and a high ranking enlisted man. Much is made of the fact that, because of this emergency, the psychotherapist is now in command of the ship, despite her having absolutely no experience or training of any kind that is any way relevant, simply because her rank is higher than the navigation officer's. This is stupid, of course, because in any 20th century military, the navigator would be in charge, because she's what's known as a line officer (as in, in line to command) and so has (get this) training in how to command. It's almost as if the military considered, or has even experienced, such situations and formulated specific policies to prevent such a ludicrous situation as the goddamned shrink being in charge of the ship.

This movie? This movie has a general (that's a high rank, folks, meaning he's been in the Army a long time) walking around outside without his cover on. ("Cover" is military-speak for "hat".) It has a colonel meeting the general and not saluting him (no) or even greeting him at all (no no no) and immediately walking next to him to his right (no no no no no no no, inferiors walk on their superiors' left). It has an army major wearing a mustache (no, only the Air Force allows mustaches, and by tradition officers don't wear them anyway), and he looks like he's 70 years old, which puts him a good 20 years older than any major could still be in the Army. And he's supposed to be some kind of bigwig power player who gets calls from US senators. (Major is way too low a rank to be chatting up people in Congress.) At one point the general orders his man to "Call the Navy". Call the Navy! Yeah, just phone "the Navy" right up. The Navy, you know, that tiny office of the American government consisting of some 320,000 people. And the guy replies, "Done." Done? Who the fuck are you gonna call? This isn't the Ghostbusters office, son. The US Navy is just a tad bigger. You might want to narrow that down a bit.

God, I wished they'd filmed that scene: "Hello and thank you for calling the Navy. If you need the services of an aircraft carrier, please press 1. If your nuclear ballistic missile submarine is defective, press 2...."

Then the colonel introduces to world-renowned geologist Seagal Sorbo two majors...who are both wearing lieutenant colonel's insignia you dickheads, you horrible dickheads! And these lieutenant colonels majors keep calling Sorbo "Sir!" like they're just out of boot. Sorbo's all, "Just call me whatever the hell my name is in this movie" and they're all, "Yessir! I mean....whatever your name is." Haha, I get it, it's cute, army guys are dumb and can't stop calling people sir. Fuck you, Wynorski. Look, enlisted guys wouldn't do that anyway, because the people we trust to go to the desert and shoot brown people in the name of freedom normally have a few brain cells to rub together and so actually know who is to be addressed as "sir" and who isn't. But these guys are officers. That means they graduated from college. In fact they're lieutenant colonels majors, meaning most of the people they meet in their professional lives call them sir. And Sorbo isn't even in the military. Our fine Imperial stormtroopers are perfectly capable of applying military ways of doing things to military people and not applying those ways to people who aren't. Please stop portraying them as so dumb and single-minded that they can't tell the difference, Jim Wynorski, you fucking wanker.

So the colonel, Sorbo, Love Interest, Cranky White Dude, and Black Guy Who Will Die First find the source of the sentient fire. There's an explosion, killing Black Guy Who Dies First before he even gets any lines, while the palefaces run away. Blah blah stuff happens, then it's time to go back to the source of the fire and blow it up real gud. Yes, you defeat the fire by blowing it up with bombs, very scienmatifical. This is where the two lieutenant colonels majors show up, and so they and Sorbo head down into the caves to do what men do. Love Interest demands to accompany Sorbo to make sure he doesn't cock up the whole business, but he talks her down: "Honey, which one of us is the man, here? I do the hero stuff, you stand around looking concerned." Cranky White Dude dies entirely due to his own idiocy, but everyone else makes it out just in time, roll credits, I hate this movie.

February 27, 2017

Game Over, Man

RIP Private Hudson. You finally got out of this chickenshit outfit.

February 7, 2017

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Resident Evil: Definitely Not the Final Chapter is the stupidest movie ever made.

Looking much healthier now that her pregnancy has forced her into something resembling the weight of an actual human woman, Milla Jovovich is back as Protagonist of Action Movie, doing what she does best: jump-kick CGI dog-monsters in slow motion. Loud, stupid, and boring, Resident Evil: Who Cares is the quintessential Fuck You, It's January movie. When I reviewed the last indistinguishable train wreck of an entry in this series, I noted that the only fun to be had with these things is identifying which great film each one rips off. And since writer/director/Milla's husband Paul W.S. "Aliens vs. Predator" Anderson has already ripped off George Miller once, he figured why not do it again. So yes, Mad Milla: Slightly Miffed Road provides us, the viewing audience, with the best action film of the last 20 years as done by the man who gave us Death Race.

My God, I never thought I would write these words, but Milla Jovovich is no Charlize Theron.

Happily, this entry continues the series's proud tradition of starting off by flatly contradicting the end of its predecessor. The last film ended by setting up the ultimate showdown between zombie and human. The latter include the villainous Wesker, the antagonist of the prior film, who's turned against the Evil Umbrella Corporation and joined up with Our Heroine Alice because, as I noted in my review, he only just now figured out how pointless the company's goals are if humanity is wiped out by the zombies. But disregard that! I mean, what kind of action movie sequel would open with the intense, rousing battle between the last remnants of humanity and the zombie horde promised by the end of the last one? This is Resident Evil, a film series that positively marvels in mediocrity, abandons plot threads like a Kardashian's husband, and celebrates limp, underwhelming anticlimax. So we instead open on the great battle's aftermath. Did the humans win? Lose? Does it matter? I hope not, since we never find out. All that set-up for the biggest case of cinematic blueballs this side of The Matrix Revolutions. And Agent Smith Wesker's joining up with Alice? Also undone! And off-sceen to boot! Turns out his face-turn was just a ruse. I guess the old "hero forced to team up with the villain", hoary and well-worn as that cliche is, was still too damned original and possibly interesting to be in a Resident Evil movie. So his betrayal has absolutely no emotional resonance, since we never see that scene or how it affected Alice, assuming it's even possible for anything to have an emotional impact on this "character" who's spent six goddamn movies wearing the same facial expression.

He also took her superpowers away...also off-screen, though again as I said in my review of the previous film, this makes absolutely no difference. She's no less unstoppable with her powers "taken away", whatever that means and however that was accomplished, than she was with them, like the scene where she effortlessly dispatches five men armed with assault rifles while she's dangling upside down from a rope tied around one foot. And if you're tired of my referencing my earlier review, well, why shouldn't I? This movie is aggressively unoriginal. It's almost charming the way it doesn't attempt to be noteworthy, interesting, or distinctive in any way. It rubs its blandness in your face, daring you to find something, anything to distinguish it from earlier entries in the Underworld franchise.

What? Oh. Oh, right, I meant the Resident Evil franchise. Don't know how I could have made that mistake.

At one point a character (it doesn't matter which one, none is distinguishable and they all die, just like every supporting "character" in all the other films) says to Alice, "I know you." Well, I don't. She doesn't get enough to eat, she kicks zombies, she shoots a lot, she has superpowers sometimes and doesn't at other times. That's all I've got after 6 movies. I don't know anything about her as a person. At all. I don't recall her ever showing an emotion. She could be revealed to be a robot, or an alien, or a clone, and I wouldn't register a modicum of surprise.

Early on, Alice gets captured by the villain from the third film, played by the Poor Man's Sean Bean, so we can continue ripping off Fury Road. Yes, PMSB died at the end of that film, but what's that got to do with anything, you silly person! This is the Resident Evil series, where any death can be explained away with the words "Oh that was my clone." Why yes, PMSB does have an Asian henchman who gets no lines but does get into a kung fu fight with Alice, thank you for asking! It's 2017, but Asian people still exist solely to do martial arts and math! With PMSB in the picture, there's no need for Wesker, so the latter spends the entire movie standing around in his office looking at monitors and ordering the Red Queen (the artificial intelligence villain in the first film) to lock down the Hive, Umbrella's secret base. Which was destroyed by a nuclear weapon in the second film. But it's still there, and still operational, because...uh...hey, look over there! (Insert sound of running footsteps here.) And yes, Wesker orders Red to lock down the Hive in four separate scenes. What, did the Red Queen just ignore him the first three times? Were they afraid the movie was going to come in under feature length? Did the ersatz Hugo Weaving playing Wesker make such huge salary demands that they had to include multiple takes of the same scene to stretch out his screen time?

It turns out that while Wesker's face-turn was a ruse, the Red Queen's isn't, and she's helping Alice reach the Hive so she can stop the world's entire population, reduced at this point to a mere 4000ish, from being killed in 48 hours.

Okay, so many things wrong here. Would you like me to list a few? I knew you would!

1) Why 48 hours? That seems an awfully exact time frame, there.
2) How, exactly, will they all die? Being the last survivors, they're presumably scattered all over the world, and in the more remote, inaccessible areas at that. What's going to happen that will kill them all essentially simultaneously?
3) Does that include the people in the Hive who are presumably doing this (however it is they're doing it)? We find out later that it doesn't, so when the Red Queen says the entire world's population will die, she's lying. Or writer Anderson can't make sense of his own script.
4) How the hell does the Red Queen even know how many people are left on the entire globe?

Okay, I'm gonna move on or we'll be here all day. It's only here, six movies in, that we finally, finally get an explanation for the two central mysteries of the franchise: why the filmmakers love The Matrix so much, and why these movies almost never have any black people.

No! I'm kidding. We find out why Alice has amnesia (in-universe, I mean; we all know the real reason is so they didn't have to write her backstory), and why Umbrella is so intent on destroying the world. Are you ready? Here it is: The world was fucked anyway, so Umbrella's fat-cat owners and higher-ups decided to release the T-virus on purpose to turn everybody into zombies and destroy the world on their terms rather than waiting for civilization to collapse on its own. That way, they ride out the terrors in cryonic suspension, release the cure they've developed once the human population has dropped to something more sustainable, and resume their positions atop the new society built from the ashes of the old.

That's actually kind of interesting, so of course the hacks who made this piece of shit immediately blow it. For one thing, notice what I said about when they release the cure. They actually didn't say that, I did, because that's what they ought to have said. But no, apparently their real plan is to wait until everybody's dead except for them. Hence the "48 hours and everybody dies" the Red Queen was talking about

Um, if everybody's dead, assholes, you don't have anybody to do the grunt work. The whole point of being rich and powerful is getting people to do shit for you. That's what being powerful means. If you kill all the plebs, you have to do everything for yourself! You're telling me these Kevin O'Leary types signed up for a plan that will require them to shovel horse shit out of the barn? Stupid movie.

So it turns out the PMSB we spent most of the movie with was also a clone, and so is Alice! Yep, that's why she doesn't have any memories of her past: She didn't have a past. She's just a clone of the daughter of the creator of the T-virus.

Again, a neat revelation...or it would be, if either the script or the central performance had any dramatic weight. Instead, we in the audience don't feel anything for this "character" we know nothing about, and Jovovich's blank stare isn't helping. There's no "It's me. With my mother" moment coming here. Funny though, ain't it, how the Alice clone has no memories that might serve to give her a personality but does know kung fu, shooting, explosives, and everything else she needs to fight the zombies? You could replace her with a robot programmed with nothing more than the mission "kill zombies" and the skills necessary to do that, and that robot would be indistinguishable from Alice. Hell, the original Terminator's entire personality consisted of "Kill Sarah Connor", and it had more character than Alice. And it was in only one film.

Alice is told that the cure instantly kills anyone infected with the T-virus on contact, which includes Alice herself. No, the T-virus doesn't turn her into a zombie like it does everyone else, what are you, stupid? Her it gives superpowers, obviously. (Except when it doesn't, like now.) Still, she manages to blow up the Hive real gud...uh, again...pausing for just a moment to rip off the climax of Robocop ("Dick? You're fired!") and release the cure into the air, whereupon...

...she awakens, not dead. Because, uh, the script says she doesn't die. I'm fucking serious. They don't even bother with an unbelievable, pulled-it-out-of-their-asses explanation. She wakes up and Expressionless Mannequin says, "Uh, I guess it didn't kill you", and they just move on.

Goddamn it I hate this movie.

Oh, and the creator's daughter managed to download her memories to the Red Queen before she died, and Red puts them in Alice's head...somehow. So Alice is now a real girl, with the all memories of some other person she just met five minutes ago. The film ends with Alice's voiceover that it will take months for the antivirus to spread all over the globe, meaning she has to keep fighting the zombies anyway

Wow, Resident Evil: Craptacular, that's a new fucking record, right there. I tip my hat to you, you've out done yourself! Every other time you waited for the next movie to contradict the end of the previous one, but this movie is so bad it contradicts its own fucking ending. Alice has spent 6 films fighting the zombies, only to find out she herself was a clone, and then she sacrificed her life to destroy the zombies. But disregard that! She didn't die, and the zombies aren't destroyed, and getting her memories back (well, someone else's memories) was such a mind-shattering, life-altering experience that she...goes off to fight the zombies.

Man, and you thought Sisyphus had it bad.

All this crap might be forgivable if the action scenes were any good, or if anything were any good, really. God, this movie is boring, even the "action" scenes. The film is edited so frenetically I don't think a single shot lasts for even one second, making most of the action sequences incomprehensible. I just don't get it. I know Paul W.S. "DOA: Dead or Alive" Anderson saw Mad Max: Fury Road. Does that movie consist of more shots than seconds of running time? Does it have a point where you sit scratching your head wondering, "What the fuck is happening?" Was it edited by a chipmunk on speed? So why edit your shitty rip-off like that? Just sit the editor down in front of Fury Road, point at the screen, and say, "Do that." Even if he fails utterly, the mere attempt would look better than this. I mean this shit is just balls. The earlier movies kept me pretty entertained throughout laughing at their sheer ineptitude, but this one is a major step down. I know that's hard to believe considering how shit the other films were, but this's well-nigh unwatchable.

You know what this movie needed? Michelle Rodriguez. Christ, they brought back Poor Man's Sean Bean and Expressionless Mannequin, so why not somebody with energy, dynamism, charisma, attitude, sex appeal, credibility, toughness, skin pigmentation, and a modicum of acting talent, none of which is evident in Jovovich's Alice? I'd like to think Rodriguez had better things to do, like star in a new Fast and  Furious movie.

And yes, I'm absolutely serious about that.