Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hack Snyder: the Carlos Mencia of filmmaking

They say good artists borrow, but great artists steal. I suppose this makes Zack Snyder a great filmmaker. From Dawnof the Dead to Sucker Punch he has stolen from other sources to create his entire body of work (the exception to this statement is that owl movie which I skipped).  Sucker Punch follows this hackneyed path Snyder has forged and leads the viewer into a beautifully mono-chromed schizophrenic carnival of pop culture that has been homogenized and repackaged and leaves us all feeling a bit empty by the time the lights come up.  Our journey begins in the opening monologue with the explaining away of upcoming events while setting the audience up for a lot of nothing when the main character, Baby Doll, almost apologizes to the audience by stating, “…Don't let appearances fool you…It's every one of us that holds the power over the worlds we create…”

This is what the first act feels like

Great. So, I’m in for one of those, “They were asleep the whole time!” movies…

Just to bring you up to speed, Sucker Punch centers on Baby Doll, played by Emily Browning, a young girl forced into a mental hospital after a string of unfortunate violent family mishaps. Baby Doll, which I assume is her Christian name, attempts to save her sister from her sadistic stepfather after he goes mad with rage and tries to keep all of the inheritance money left to the girls by their mother. In doing so, she inadvertently kills her sister (whoops), and is locked away to keep her from spilling the beans (double whoops).

Because of her “violent” nature (remember how she’s not really violent? I do), she’s been prescribed a lobotomy to be administered by Don Draper to insure she won’t be a menace to her evil stepfather and his soon to be evil money. While she awaits her miserable fate, she meets an ensemble cast of other young stunning creatures led by Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish) that yearn for the same notion of freedom. She also imagines a series of alternate realities to cope with her untoward environment and then pulls a Wizard of Oz, including these divas in her private fantasies. Her main fantasy transforms the hospital into a burlesque nightclub where she performs for men a la Moulin Rouge.  It is here, through the implied hypnotic power of dance, that she slays dragons with katana blades (a la Kill Bill meets The Lord of the Rings) and diffuses atomic bombs on runaway high-speed trains (XXX2, Broken Arrow, Time Bomb, Atomic Train). 

Scott Glenn appears within these pseudo-worlds to instruct and guide her and her Fox Force Five in their brutal endeavors as they get one step closer to achieving their goal of breathing free through a series of scavenger hunts aimed at gathering the proper tools. At one point, the Clarence Morrow reject even reminds them, "Don't write a check with your mouth you can’t cash with your ass." Um…wait, was that a lame Top Gun reference? Methinks so.  Now, there are other characters in this film, but they don’t create enough of an impact on the story for me to mention them here, so I’m moving on.  Apologies, Ms. Gugino.

You should know that from the opening shot, everything we see and hear from the soundtrack to the almost neo-classical visuals reinforces this idea of creating a veritable Frankenstein of assorted motifs and overused styles.  In fact, after seeing Baby Doll’s first (imaginary) dance, an aging Sweet Pea confronts her. "My dance says something about me. What does yours say?" This is the quintessential question posed not only to Baby Doll, but one I’d pose to Snyder himself. As a viewer, what am I supposed to be feeling when watching this film? It seems devoid of heart. It’s all style and no substance; a walking corpse slapped together in Snyder’s workshop of filthy creation.

Now, to be fair, everything Snyder has directed thus far has come from existing material whether it is a film or a book or a graphic novel (read Man of Steel). So, in a way, he’s been operating within the confines of proverbial handcuffs for years. Then again, hundreds of films have come from pre-existing sources; so operating within the confines established by those before you is no new challenge. But, I digress.

Even the soundtrack of Sucker Punch is peppered with audible abnormalities and clumsy covers of Jefferson Airplane, Eurythmics, Queen, and Pixies which all contribute to a mental disconnect aimed at maintaining a hyper-real glossy auto-tuned experience where you take one thing and polish it up to a high sheen until no one can truly pinpoint its origin.

Snyder seems to be a product of his unoriginal post-modern environment and while I never had any idea (nor cared) which reality of Sucker Punch I was supposed to be grounded in a la Inception, I couldn't help but get sucked into drinking the Kool-Aid as steam-powered zombie Nazis spilled out of WW1 trenches to fight scantily-clad Victoria’s Secret-esque supermodels in Bio-Shock inspired Exoskeletons a la Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (which just borrowed heavily from this Superman cartoon).  Like Sky Captain, the juxtaposition of eras, weapons, and technologies in Sucker Punch create a visually stunning world, but I remained bored all the same so who cares? Actually, Sucker Punch is a bit like watching a movie where a character has a flashback within a flashback (Sorry, Wrong Number, Anguish).

There are some other things I can’t talk about here because it would spoil an already spoiled movie, but they hearken back to “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”, Shutter Island, and the raping of Aristotle’s corpse.  I know it seems unusual, but let’s just say that by the closing credits, I felt like I was the one that had a lobotomy. And I assure you this smoke and mirrors routine will occur once the lights go down and we all see Henry Cavill wrestle with Snyder’s vision.

Baby Doll’s end monologue includes the question, "…Who chains us, and who holds the key that can set us free? It’s you…", sounds a lot like Neo’s end monologue at the conclusion of The Matrix where he promises to show us a world without rules or borders or boundaries. “…Where we go from there,” he says, “is a choice I leave to you.”

Well,  Zack, my choice is to watch something else.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I Watched A Sexually Charged Teenage Jesuit Ninja

One day while scouring for more B, I came across I Was A Teenage Ninja. I won’t lie, I was first taken in by the cover art. The cover art looks like an early PC user found a random picture of an asian woman holding a samurai sword on some BBS, then decided it would be cool to use Corel Paint to make a sweet GIF file. Once the eye candy wore off (half a second) I was compelled to read the synopsis and while this isn’t the greatest synopsis, it does use the word “pluck.” We all know what that means: The heart, liver, windpipe, and lungs of a slaughtered animal. Of course, it also means To pull out the hair or feathers. Like pulling the florets on an artichoke to reveal its heart, let’s de-feather this movie to get to the naked duck. (I am so good at similes.)

This is another one of those foreign movies that takes a different title to appeal to the American audience. I Was A Teenage Ninja’s original Japanese title is Legend of the Voluptuous Kunoichi: Christian Kunoichi Aome’s Story. The original title is much truer to the story line.

What’s a Kunoichi you ask? Well, the film defines this term in an opening title sequence as...

    “Kunoichi” (Female Ninja) It is a term of most unusual origin. Many believe it is based on the sounds created while making the brush strokes to write the character for “woman” in Japanese. However Kunoichi is properly written with the Japanese characters for “nine” and “one.” “9-1” is also the Chinese designation for a female spy. The derivation of this name is thus: It is a fact that every human body has at least 9 “holes.” However, the body of a woman has one additional “hole.” That is, when compared to men. On that anatomical note, we now present the battle of a female ninja who uses that female weapon to is fullest.”

You guessed it, this is Japanese soft core. Saki Ninomiya (link NSFW), adult video star, plays Sora the 19 year old teenage ninja who is called upon to use her powers of seduction and swordplay to stop an assassination of a shaman. Sora is the daughter of Portuguese Jesuits who arrived in the Bizen Province of Japan in Tenbun year 18. Trust me: since they're packing so much history into a soft core movie, it's okay to watch it without your pants.

Our tale begins with an explosive a fight scene between our teenage ninja Sora and some dude. Their “ninja” fight is like watching a blind girl on sleeping pills fight a semi alert coma patient having a dream about fencing. (How about that simile?) This awe-inspiring scene sets the tone and prepares you for the awkward journey you're about to take.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Self: Once you’ve seen one soft core movie you’ve seen them all.” I beg to differ. First off you are taken into a land you don’t know much about (i.e. the woods) unlike most soft core movies that take place at a resort or a mansion or a mansion resort. Second, there is action, maybe not the best action but action nonetheless. Fight sequences that will make you say, “Really?” And thirdly there is the sex. Well I guess all soft core movies have sex scenes, but remember this is a Japanese soft core. There is awkward sex, plain sex, lesbian sex, hermaphrodite sex, scissoring, squirting, but the piece de resistance the Gate of Penis Prison. Sora might not be the best ninja but she sure does know how to sheath the sword as they say. People say that right? I’m pretty sure they do.

Anyway, in one harrowing love scene Sora is distracted by a man who uses his black art of Golden Orb to seduce her. That's right. Golden Orb.  If you have never seen the black art of Golden Orb then you have not lived. Sora endures all the pleasure she can and finally takes control of the situation. Once free from ecstasy, Sora mounts the man in reverse cowgirl position. The man, thinking it’s his turn for ecstasy, lets down his guard as Sora works her sexual magic. She performs Gate of Penis Prison where through only the power of her extra “hole” she plucks his prick thus thwarting the assassin. (Not to be mistaken with the hungry vagina movie Teeth.)

I Was A Teenage Ninja is a story of teenagers, ninjas, sex, jesuits, and hemaphrodites. It’s all B and I highly recommend having a date night with your chosen life partner, lighting some candles, and enjoying this B cinema.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"I've Got Two Hard Tickets to Paradise!"

If you're anything like me, you've wanted your own hippopotamus and rail gun for years. And like me, you're probably wondering how you'll pay for these lavish must-haves. Well, I'll tell you how: with an exciting job as a field agent for the DEA, of course!

Now, I know it probably seems like a pipe dream, but it's much easier to live your pipe dream than you'd think. All you need is a taste for adventure, an LL.B. or J.D. degree with prosecutorial experience, a master's degree in Russian or Hebrew, and a valid driver's license.  What's that? You have no idea what a DEA special agent is required to do? Well, for a quick 'How-To' guide, just watch 'Hard Ticket to Hawaii' and all of your questions will be answered.  After all, this is by far, the best, most realistic and compelling training video you'll ever find for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

For example, have you ever wondered what the underground drug/diamond trade is like in Hawaii? Will you even know what to wear when you meet with Seth, your local crime boss?  Have you asked yourself how many honeymooners a puppet snake that has been infected by deadly toxins from cancer-infested rats can eat in one sitting? Would you like to know how to Crank That like Soulja Boy? Well, just one viewing of 'Hard Ticket' is all you need to answer these questions and more.

In 'Hard Ticket to Hawaii', you'll join Super Agent Donna Hamilton (played by Dona Spier), a by-the-book, hard-as-nails DEA agent, as well as her direct supervisor, Rowdy Abilene (Ronn Moss), and Taryn (Hope Marie Carlton) a mafia informant in the witness protection program who is posing as a DEA agent/cargo messenger/tour guide in this instructional, true-to-life video.  They'll take you on a wild and exceedingly accurate journey of love, betrayal, danger, and intrigue that every field agent working in the DEA's Hawaiian division lives with, as far as I know.  With this training video, you'll learn about the strict dress code of our newest island state, which mainly consists of uniforms comprised of hot pants, sleeveless shirts, cowboy boots, and throwing stars.

Then, once the basics are covered, this training video brings you through a scenario that any DEA agent will eventually come across in real life. We open on our two super agents (Carlton and Spier) as they happen across a massive drug ring that everyone else on the island already knows about. They mistakenly head off a shipment or a payment of diamonds (I'm not really sure) being delivered by a remote controlled helicopter, sent by the half-British/half-Asian super crime boss floating offshore on his yacht.

He informs his evil counterparts that "no one must interfere with our plans", even though our DEA agents already have. This interference angers a fat guy with a beard on a four-wheeler and a little white guy with a mustache who likes to ride skateboards with inflatable sex dolls.  After the agents use their department-issued, regulation throwing stars and nun-chucks to subdue their culprits, they run away, like any agent should.  This "fleeing method" is a textbook maneuver for any law enforcement official.  At this point, our two criminals return to Seth, the head scofflaw and give him the bad news. See? Just like real life.

But, there's so much more to learn about the life of a DEA agent!  The training continues as our two favorite local DEA agents begin a second scenario where they are required to take some honeymooners and a poisonous puppet snake to a remote part of the island before visiting their local hangout where a pre-op transvestite works as a bartender but is really a spy for Seth and the manager delivers nuggets of wisdom that even Confucius would be jealous of: "If you go down on her you'll be kissing the back of my head, 'cause I'll already be there. If you know what I mean."

I personally don't know what that means because I'm pure as the new-fallen snow, but this inclusion is really clever because Andy Sidaris, the author of this masterpiece, allows us to see the appreciation that the local merchants have for any hardworking federal agent. In fact, the manager greets our agents at the door and is "gonna give you the best seat in the house."  Spier and Carlton are curious as to the location of these new accommodations and he instructs them that "You can sit right here on my face."  Once again, it's identical to what a real DEA special agent would encounter.

Sidaris also goes to great lengths in this training video financed entirely by the DEA* to show what a typical agent's motivation might be after a scuffle, when he finally allows Carlton to see a bit more of Spier than just her breasts. "Your dad's picture got broken in the fight. Spier lets her guard down and reveals that her father was the best agent this government ever had.  Carlton then inquires, "You really miss him, don't you?" Spier peers through old scraps of newspaper headlines and answers simply, "Yeah, he died saving my life."  Wow. This training video surpasses "Know Your Fryer" and "Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Unwelcome Affection" hands down. I feel like I'm moments away from getting Maverick, my new hippopotamus.

But, like any effective training video, it doesn't stop it's training tips there. You'll also learn top pointers from our two agents that will be sure to guide you through any situation like, "We've gotta figure out what just happened. Let's unload and hit the jacuzzi. I do my best thinking there.", and "Drug Enforcement Agents aren't supposed to be soft (boob reveal), or "I'll give you all the sports segments you can handle" (boob reveal).  Stunning. Truly stunning. Also like in real life, these 'Charlie's Angels' rejects are quick to do whatever it takes in any situation, including, but not limited to shedding their clothes in order to have awkward sex with strange men on a boat, on the beach, in a backroom, or anywhere else the mood strikes them. Plus, as a fresh DEA agent, you'll be expected to know the lingo and this video teaches you important expressions like, "Who's that Turkey?" and "Let's get that Turkey!"

I don't want to give the ending away, but our agents get in over their blonde heads and recruit their bazooka-wielding supervisors to aid them down the rabbit hole full of sumo wrestlers, drunk football players, exploding toilets full of puppet snakes, kidnapped restaurant owners, and killer frisbees lined with razor blades.  Plus, every action is vibrantly captured with the same 3D technology used in 'Avatar'!**

Luckily, Andy Sidaris thought ahead and this training video also features dialogue that's written specifically for blind people who are intrested in joining up with the DEA's Blackout Division. This technique really comes in handy because sometimes it's not enough to see a helicopter land while people get out and drag a hostage inside. Sometimes you need a character to state, "Look, Dona. That chopper's landing in Seth's yard. They've got Edy!"

So, pick up 'Hard Ticket to Hawaii' and brush up on your local statutes for housing and keeping exotic animals because I'll be damned if Maverick's going to spend his weekends playing with his rail gun alone.

*that's a complete lie.
**also not true

Thursday, July 1, 2010


We here at ATBTS have discovered a terrifying anomaly of science.  As disturbing and shocking as this news is, try to stay calm and know that at this very moment our entire team is trying to figure out how to simultaneously alert the media and the scientific community in order to avert a crisis the likes of which mankind has never seen. Let me explain. For years, scientists have discussed the existence of black holes in a cool and collected manner. They have told us, right to our faces, that the closest black hole is several light years away and that we have nothing to fear.  But, I tell you now, ATBTS has discovered one RIGHT HERE ON EARTH!!!  It's called 'Bad Meat' and it somehow got past all of our security checkpoints and law enforcement. All this time these eggheads have been looking to the skies for answers and never once thought to check Netflix

'What's the big deal?' you say? 'After all it's just a movie', you continue. Well, let me tell you what Hell awaits you in this shrink wrapped case.  First off, in layman's terms, a black hole is like a giant vacuum that sits out in space, sucking up everything around it. Nothing gets by this giant vacuum.  I mean, it's powerful. It has, like, super sucking power.  Now, like any black hole, 'Bad Meat' sucks, too.  You should know that we here at ATBTS weren't comfortable simply applying our vast knowledge of thermodynamics and X-ray binaries to this devastating discovery. For the sake of babies and kittens everywhere we had to be sure. Unfortunately, there are other similarities between these deadly aberrations as well that I will outline...right now. 

So far, the evidence we've gathered at this point suggests that 'Bad Meat' is a movie about two losers that concoct a terrible plan to kidnap a United States congressman, played by Chevy Chase. But, when this congressman dies before the kidnapping, these two super geniuses decide that their super genius plan needn't be altered.  Lance Barber plays Loser #1 and Billie Worley plays Loser #2. Loser #1 is the alpha-male of this group. The Sonny to Loser #2's Cher.  This hapless would-be criminal's dream is to be number one on the FBI's Most Wanted list, and I think this aborted fetus of a scheme was how he planned on getting there.  However, Loser #1 can't do anything right, so we're led to believe the same outcome will follow with the application of his kidnapping plan.  He spends most of his time trying to channel either John Belushi or Chris Farley in this confusing anti-comedy complete with necrophilia, local police officers who've had their hands chopped off, half-naked plumbers, and a truckload of bologna.  Loser #2, on the other hand, is a doormat working in a meat-packing plant.  He's a pushover and goes along with Loser #1's plan to avoid making waves.  And, just like any textbook black hole demonstrating quiescence and advection-dominated accretion flow, these two clowns have bitten off more than they could chew, and with the feds hot on their trail...wait for it...hilarity ensues! 

If you're not terrified beyond rational thought yet, let me continue our comparison.  According to Wikipedia, a black hole can be observed through its interaction with other matter, and can be inferred by tracking the movement of a group of stars that orbit a region in space in order to see how much the black hole sucks.  Likewise, when 'Bad Meat' is being screened, you can see how much it sucks by observing the audience and tracking its movement toward the exit.  Also, a black hole is a region of space with an extreme gravitational pull resulting from the collapse of a star. Did I mention that 'Bad Meat' stars Chevy Chase? I mean, what happened to Clark W. Griswold? "Bend over and I'll show you!" Classic.  So, in addition to the bad script and terrible acting, this star's collapse caused gravity to become so extreme that nothing could escape, not even light or the time you spent watching this movie. With this new threat to our planet, I'm afraid even vegetarians won't be safe from 'Bad Meat'. See what I did? Because vegetarians don't eat meat. They eat vegetables. 

This is why, in order to save humanity, you must all watch this giant vacuum of a movie before it devours all life. Just stay beyond it's Event Horizon and move around your DVD player in a complicated pattern with intermediate speed. Good luck.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

FEED the anger. FEED the boredom, 'Feed' the movie

Brett Leonard’s film, ‘Feed’ is amalgamations of so many films, we here at ATBTS lost count.  Almost everything is stolen (presumably). Actually, every angle, every edit, and every line of dialogue can be traced to its roots in some other movie. And trust me, even if it can’t, we’ll find a connection.  So, let’s start with the plot …

Jack Thompson plays Richard, an Australian cop just like in ‘The Road Warrior’, who works for Interpol, I guess.  This affords him exciting vacations all over the world where he arrests people in different color-timed scenes just like in ‘Traffic’.  He also leads some sort of cyber-crimes division where he uses computers to catch criminals just like in another Brett Leonard film, ‘Virtuosity’.  So, Officer Richard scans the interwebs looking at porn just like in ‘American Pie’, until one day he decides he should probably catch Michael Carter (Alex O'Loughlin), the man responsible for, a website where grotesquely obese women are force-fed and killed. 

Carter associates these women in really bad fat suits (‘The Klumps’) with his large mother (‘What's Eating Gilbert Grape’) and simply wants to share videos of them with people who then bet on how long they’ll live, potentially affecting the outcome just like in ‘Untraceable’. Wait, that came out after this movie. Damn. Alright, it’s like ‘Caddyshack’. Since there was betting in both, it’s the same.

Wunder Cop Richard jaunts off to the exciting and dangerous underbelly of Toledo, Ohio to confront Carter and arrest him in a slightly yellow-toned sequence.  But, we find out that Officer Richard is only after Michael Carter, the tattooed (‘Cape Fear’) killer (‘Clue’) because he locks up women and then force-feeds them while jerking off (‘The Care Bears Movie’).  It really is your typical model for the inappropriate and illegal use of police powers to coerce, harass, intimidate, arrest, assault and kill members of our community. It makes me sick to think of these cops, going about punishing the guilty at will.

Anyway, while Officer Richard is abusing his power, O'Loughlin’s character dances (‘Dances With Wolves’) between Keanu Reeves’ villain from ‘The Watcher’ and Rick Moranis’ blood-thirsty, kill-crazy, soulless, indestructible death machine from ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. But don’t worry, his reasoning for committing these atrocities is wrapped up in the deconstruction and unraveling of social norms, just like the killer in ‘Se7en’ so it’s ok. Oh, and he has mother issues just like Norman Bates in ‘Psycho’.  Also, both cop and criminal have a terrifying secret just like in ‘Insomnia’, and they enter into a game of cat and mouse just like in ‘Mouse Hunt’.

The whole point of this movie is to generate a loose, underlying social statement that there are many different kinds of love and what may seem strange, perverted, illegal, or murderously insane to us, may be perfectly innocent and intimate to others, unless you’re a cop, or a judge, or a lawyer, or human. I suppose we’re meant to step back and see whom the monster in the mirror really is (society for imposing such harsh criteria for “true beauty” on innocent women, or the man forcing a feeding tube down a 600 lb woman’s throat while masturbating in a vat of tomato sauce) but it’s lost on me.  Leonard also tries to link this movie to real facts in some attempt to…show legitimacy of his theme?  I don't know.

Regardless, I suppose the power struggle between the two characters continues up until the dizzying conclusion just like it did in The Shawshank Redemption or ‘Superman’, but I really don’t care.  

Just dig in, chow down, and rent ‘Feed’ so you can see every movie ever made before 2005.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

"This Had Better Be Good, Or I'll Feed You to The Midgets."

This was the exact warning I subconsciously issued Armand Assante when I started 'Last Run' the other night. So, when Ralph Brown's character cautions Assante in the same manner 30 minutes into the film, I knew I was in for a long ride. Now, just in case you were too busy watching 'Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring', 'Shrek', 'Training Day', 'Moulin Rouge', 'Blackhawk Down', 'Amelie', or any of the other "good" films of 2001 to see 'Last Run', let me tell you what you missed. 

In 'Last Run', Assante plays Frank Banner, Action agent! You should know that Jason Bourne, Dirty Harry, James Bond, Jack Ryan and Cody Banks were all amateurs compared to this guy. Frank Banner is a super covert action elite operative agent for the ACTION squad of the C.I.Action!  Anyway, Frank "ACTION" Banner was the greatest agent in the world until the stupid lousy Cold War ended, forcing him into sexy action retirement. However, even in retirement, Banner's action fighting skills and quick wit ("I've had smoke blown up my ass, but not quite so...HOT!") land him one final mission to get an important secret government ex-K.G.B. guy from one country to all before the CIA and the Russian Mafia can call his parents and tell on him. But, in order to do this, Frank recruits all the old players for his elite team of elite spies.

With danger around every corner, Frank uses his super action spy skills (which are highly tuned for action so that nothing gets by him!) to save the day.  Actually, to save a few days. You see, he was trained at the super action spy school for spies to be the elusive game that no snare can catch ...well, unless you're an assassin dressed as a priest hired by the Russians. Or a former partner. Or one of several NAVY frogmen. Or part of the Russian paramilitary. Or the CIA. Or garbage men. Or a woman with a cat. Actually, I think everyone gets the drop on him at some point in this film because he's often surprised that someone else is standing right behind him. But, I digress.

'Last Run' has taught me that all you have to do to run a Pentagon trained extraction team whose specialty is pulling out blown American spies and Soviet defectors is keep repeating the Russian names of various officials in expository speeches and then meet with people who carry briefcases in broad daylight where anyone can shoot you with a high-powered rifle or take your picture.  The rest takes care of itself.

But don't be fooled. This isn't just your run-of-the-mill 'Action/Espionage/Action/Intrigue/Action' movie. There's also a strange social statement beneath all the glitz and glamour of the secret agent elite action double spy world of action. I'm not certain exactly what it is, but they keep talking about the Cold War and how the average person doesn't care about Communism or Capitalism even though the politicians do, and everything else stays the same, or something. When they speak slowly, look longingly off-camera, and the music swells, I try to pay attention. I'm not really sure what it's supposed to mean, but it's pretty deep. (The moral, not the bullshit)

Regardless, we're looking at this all wrong. I mean, Frank Banner delivers the goods! Right off the bat, we're thrust into the gritty world of violent underground spy action when Frank rescues a former spy in the Ukraine and immediately gets into a car chase. Now, I know what you're saying: "Oh, a car chase. That's original."  Well, actually you make a good point. But, that doesn't mean they can't be exciting. 'Last Run's filmmakers looked at the car chases in 'The Bourne Identity', 'Ronin', 'The French Connection', and 'Bullitt' and cut out all the "excitement" and "intensity" that the other films were so concerned with.  I mean, why waste time and resources trying to make your film enjoyable and interesting when you can just dive right in and get to the action?  Frank Banner is definitely someone I'd want on my side. I'd be honored to be on his elite action team.  Although, everyone around him eventually gets shot in the back and he runs like one of my uncle's bowling buddies. You know the guy. The one that played high school football six-hundred years ago and still thinks he can run a 4.8 second 40 yard dash but usually just gets chest pains from reading menus. Yeah, that's the one.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Are you there God? It's me Jason Statham

I like to think that just like little Margaret from the Judy Blume novels, Jason Statham also corresponds with the Almighty. The one 
difference between Margaret and Jason is that she is fictional and he is not. Margaret is a young girl who has important life questions that she needs help answering and understanding. Jason is a chiseled bald Adonis showing everyone how crazy his life is through the world of motion pictures.

Through Jason's many documentaries centered around his life, we have learned of his time in Great Britain as a would-be entrepreneur and gangster (Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels; Snatch), his time working on colonizing Mars (Ghosts of Mars), his freelance delivery service which is more of a docu-trilogy (Transporter 1, 2, & 3), his love of L.A.R.Ping aka live action role playing (In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale), but most notably his bare bones tell all documentaries known as Crank and Crank: High Voltage.

In Crank we learn of Jason's bad side. I have to say in this over-saturated world of reality TV, it is comforting to know there are still good people out there who want to share their lives with others, be it the good or the bad. Crank touches on Jason's exploits in underworld crime, drug use, & public sex. It is the first in what I hope will become a trilogy, and only offers a glimpse into the life of Jason Statham. But, It is Crank: High Voltage that really shows us who Jason truly is. Jason is a man devoted to his woman, Amy Smart; a man with bad luck; and ultimately a man with a strong heart.

Crank: High Voltage is an almost unbelievable account of a day in the life of Jason Statham. (Kiefer Sutherland wouldn't know what to do with a day like this one.) They must have shot so much footage for Crank that they decided to make two movies out of it because High Voltage starts right where Crank ended. In the first Jason had just fallen out of an airplane and fell to the ground alive. He is then abducted and taken to a massage parlor where his kidnappers remove his heart, and replace it with an artificial one. Understandably, this does not sit well with Statham. He leaps from the makeshift operating table and proceeds to kill all who get in his way.

Out in the world again Statham vows to get his heart back. (Wizard of Oz reference? I think so.) With a quick call to Dwight Yoakam, his family doctor, Statham is brought up to speed on his artificial heart. To live Statham must boost his adrenaline to keep his heart...wait, that was the other movie...uh, this one he must get electrically charged to keep the artificial heart going. Once the battery pack to the heart is destroyed, Statham has to find new and creative ways to be charged, be it a taser from the police, static electricity from sex with Amy Smart, or a car battery from a couple of neighborhood vatos. With each and every charge, Statham gets closer and closer to finding his real heart.

Crank: High Voltage is the story of one man beating the odds. A true life affirming story that will keep you near the edge of your seat.