Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Review – Death Race 2000

In the far-off, distant future of the year 2000 our country will be run by a dictator named Mister President, and the most popular sport in the land will be a coast-to-coast road rally in which the drivers get points for running over people. This is a silly little action comedy starring David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone back in the days before they were big enough to turn down roles like these. Mildly amusing

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Review – The Coneheads

Lorne Michaels takes a cute little skit from a couple of Saturday Night Live episodes back in the 70s and turns it into yet another SNL stinker movie in the early 90s. Aliens with oddly-shaped craniums awkwardly try to adjust to life in the suburbs. That supplied enough material for a ten-minute sketch or two, but it doesn’t even come close to driving a whole 90-minute movie. But the real crying shame here is the wanton squandering of a great cast. Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin redo the lead roles, and they’re backed up by a smorgasbord of SNL greats (too many really good actors to even try to list here). They even pick up support from folks who never worked directly for Michaels before. But wow are they ever not put to good use. See if desperate

Friday, January 16, 2009

Review – Bush's Brain

Everything you never cared to know about Karl Rove. Here we’ve got a key player in a regime responsible for thousands upon thousands of unnecessary deaths and a shameful and in some ways unprecedented erosion of American society. Yet Rove’s critics – or at least the ones recorded here – seem a lot more worried about the little creep’s affinity for dishonest campaign tactics. Further, it’s the usual liberal line: hand-wringing and sob stories. The problem with devoting a huge chunk of screen time to the sad tale of a Marine killed in one of Bush’s cooked-up conflicts is that it’s an argument against war in general, not the latest conflicts in particular. If this is the best case that can be made against scum like Rove, then someone isn’t trying hard enough. See if desperate

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Review – The Dark

This gets off to a slow start, and even after it gets underway it doesn’t really amount to much. Indeed, once ghosts and living people start swapping places back and forth between our earthly plane and some kind of half-baked Welsh afterlife, a heavy flavor of Ring rip-off overlies the whole mess. Oh, and if you’re a fan of sheep then you’re certainly going to want to give this one a miss. See if desperate

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Review – Crazy Eights

Eight former childhood friends gather at an orphanage, where they oh-so-slowly unearth traumatic memories. Every once in awhile the picture hits on an interesting visual or a spooky situation, but then it goes right back to being dull again. See if desperate

Review – Borderland

If they’d just made an unembroidered version of the actual events upon which this is ostensibly based, it could have been a much better movie. Instead what we get is yet another slash-intensive warning to young white people to stay away from Mexico because all – or at least most – of the “foreigners” who live there are out to sacrifice tourists to their Santeria gods in order to protect their drug smuggling operations. The final nails in the coffin are the long passages where nothing happens. If you’re going to make a slasher movie, at least don’t make a dull one. See if desperate

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Review – Boogeyman 2

Oddly enough, this one’s a little better than the first one. The original rolled the dice and came up empty. This one sticks a lot closer to standard slasher movie structures and conventions. The result is mediocre, but at least it isn’t totally annoying. The story is an unimaginative reheat of Nightmare on Elm Street 3, with most if not all the plot twists telegraphed a mile away as the Boogeyman slaughters mental patients using methods tailored to their phobias. Mildly amusing

Review – The Deaths of Ian Stone

So how many critics before me have called this a nightmare version of Groundhog Day? Our buddy Ian keeps getting killed over and over by the same eerie conspiracy of monsters. There’s a point to it somewhere, but it’s slow to emerge and flimsy when it finally does show up. Overall this seems to be little more than a cheap excuse to string a lot of monster killin’ vignettes together into what loosely amounts to a movie. Mildly amusing

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Review – Dances with Wolves

As if trying to single-handedly make up for decades of anti-Indian racism in westerns, Kevin Costner serves up a version in which the Sioux are the do-no-wrong heroes and the cavalry are the unequivocal forces of evil. That might be somewhat closer to the truth, but it’s not much more entertaining than the traditional version. Indeed, such a simple-minded, heavy-handed presentation makes the pro-environment, anti-discrimination message ring false. Oh, and the damn thing drags on for nearly four hours’ worth of bad acting and animal death. What a pain in the butt. See if desperate

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Review – Dark Breed

Y’know, film-makers who have special effects this crappy probably shouldn’t make the whole movie depend on them. And though I deleted this from the Tivo before I checked the date, I assume it was from sometime after Predator came out, as the monsters – when they do eventually show themselves – are a pretty tragic rip-off. Aliens possess astronauts who then return to earth and do a lot of really boring stuff. See if desperate

Friday, January 9, 2009

Review – The Devil Came on Horseback

When ex-Marine Brian Steidle took a job chronicling human rights abuses in Darfur, apparently he wasn’t prepared for what he’d find. This documentary takes us along as he photographs the corpses and wreckage left in the wake of atrocities committed by the Janjaweed (“Devils on Horseback”), Sudan’s death squads. It pretty much goes without saying that this is a depressing experience, but it’s also a good way to stop ignoring the problem and at least learn a bit about what’s going on. Mildly amusing

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Review – Carrie (2002)

Once again a Stephen King movie is subjected to an unnecessary remake. And once again it’s both longer and more watered-down than the original. If this had been the first film version of King’s first novel, it would have been okay, not actively offensive but likewise nothing to write home about. But since there’s already a good version out there, this just lacks a raison d’etre. Unless, of course, the new surprise ending is worth the three hours that precede it. Personally, I liked the old ending better. Mildly amusing

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Review – Centipede!

Though this doesn’t have any direct connection to the video game of the same name (minus the exclamation point), I honestly would rather have spent an hour and a half blasting mushrooms and ducking spiders than sitting through stale tripe like this. A group of obnoxious American twentysomethings gets lost in a cave in India. It’s their double bad luck that the place is full of giant poisonous bugs and the local officials who are trying to rescue them are the Indian equivalent of the Keystone Kops. The only thing I find intriguing about productions like this is that they manage to be simultaneously implausible and predictable. See if desperate

Review – Cyclops

So what combination of words best augurs quality of this degree: “Sci Fi Channel presents” or “Eric Roberts”? And the two combined, well, there’s just no avoiding the creation of a picture like this. Apparently the Emperor Tiberius presided over a Rome about the size of Lawrence, Kansas (except of course Lawrence has a bigger stadium; the Colosseum in this thing is about the size of a high school gym). And after he’s killed by a CGI Cyclops (that might be a spoiler in a movie that isn’t so totally spoiled to begin with) Rome becomes a republic once again. Wow. See if desperate