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Transporter 3 Blu-ray review

October 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Transporter 3 is definitely the best comedy on Blu-Ray right now.  That would be high praise if this wasn’t an action movie of course.  Here’s the plot for you:  Frank Martin (Jason Statham doing what he does best – emoting very little and rocking a five o’clock shadow) is a transporter.  He transport things.  This is apparently a lucrative business.  Unlike FedEx and UPS – Frank uses an Audi sports car.  He’s a no questions asks professional who just gets the job done.  Frank, however, has a problem.  He seems to always get stuck transporting women.  Frank is essentially a totally awesome taxi driver who can kick the shit out of 10 people at once (while getting undressed for the ladies).  This time around Frank is stuck transporting a skanky acid dropping party girl by the name of Valentina.  Luc Besson and his writing partner didn’t care to give her a last name so I will.  Valentina Cantactworthshit.

You see, Miss Cantactworthshit is the daughter of a Ukrainian politician who deals in complaining, nice suits, and the environment.  Some goons from a very unexplained company  are trying to force him into giving them the permission to dump toxic waste into the ocean.  They could just save time and dump it out in international waters where no one would notice, but then we wouldn’t have this gem of celluloid now would we?  Anyway, in order to do this they kidnap his daughter while she is getting jiggy with it on the dance floor.  Anyway, Valentina and Frank end up with cheap looking bracelets that tether them to the car.  If they go more than 75 feet from the vehicle – it’s KABOOM time.  This seems to not bother Valentina one bit.  In fact, she seems perfectly fine with all the guns and explosions and death.  Frank basically drives her around Europe encountering one implausible event after another. To say more would be a waste of time – because really this entire movie is a waste of time.  I’ll get right down to it in a list of complete and stupid absurdities this movie hurls at the viewer in rapid succession:

– A car crashes into Frank’s house and he doesn’t flinch or really seem concerned at all.  His expression was basically “I’ll worry about this after I make a sandwich.”

– EMT’s rescue the man from the car and somehow manage to not notice A WOMAN SLEEPING IN THE BACK SEAT!  Furthermore, she slept through the crash.  That’s pretty impressive in it’s own right.

– The two Frank vs hired goons action scenes are almost identical to one another.  Frank just loses more clothes in the second one.

– Watching Frank fight for his life, kill people, and lose his clothes in the process turns on Valentina.  She goes from hating him to wanting to bone him over the course of 1 minute.

– Frank’s mysterious friend who works in the middle of nowhere inexplicably knows exactly how the top secret bomb device works thanks to the internet.  He can’t fix it though because it’s “wired to the car.”  No shit Sherlock!  How else would it work!?

– Frank can chase down an Audi sports car on a bike while riding it through houses and down hand rails and fuck may as well go right up a wall too.  There’s no credibility left at this point.

– At the end of the bike chase Frank smashes through the driver side car window and ejects the driver out of the passenger door.  The glass does not cut him, he lands PERFECTLY in the seat somehow, and within seconds the glass magically repairs itself.  Furthermore, the interior of the car has no glass in it at all for the rest of the film.

– Valentina can describe foods with very good English then turns around an asks Frank “What is (insert common English word here)?”  Also, this girl must eat out a lot because she knows about a good restaurant in EVERY town they mention in the movie.  Her and Frank’s entire relationship is based on food.

– Valentina seduces Frank while high on drugs leading to Frank doing a strip tease.  This goes down after a tense chase where they both almost died multiple times.  Oh  yes, Frank is easily old enough to be her dad.

– Through the magic of movie making Frank somehow hooks a cell phone up to a laptop, calls the main bad guy, and this allows his French inspector friend to trace the call.

– When Frank has to drive his car into a river to avoid death – he produces floating devices from his trunk and fills them with air from his tires.  TWO of them are able to life his 2 ton car out of the water.  I assume Yoda was on shore giving him a helping hand. Oh and a local with a tractor shows up to tow his car to dry land.  What great timing!

– After the above happens – Frank is able to START THE CAR with some minor tinkering and give chase on what should be FLAT TIRES!  However, they are magically perfectly fine and full of air!

– The final confrontation involves Frank driving his car into a train so he could fight and be close to the car.  Frank eventually overcomes the fairly feeble bad buy and finally is able to detach his explosive bracelet.  He then attaches it to the bad guy and somewhat ties his hand to the steering wheel of the car with the seatbelt.  He then throws the car into reverse.  Frank watches as the bad guy frees himself.  He then looks COMPLETELY SURPRISED as he lunges for cover when the bad guy explodes because the train and car are moving in opposite directions.  Way to almost get yourself killed dumbass!  Why didn’t you put him IN THE CAR FIRST! You obviously knew if he got free he’d blow up in the train and take you with him!

– Unless the train seats block explosions.  Which the one Frank hides behind apparently does..

To make matters even worse, the movie is edited like a music video.  The fight scenes speed up for now reason and include so many edits it would make Michael Bay squeal with glee.  They totally ruin any of the mediocre fight choreograhy that Cory Yuen put together for the film.  All the car chases are undercranked as well.  Which means they took cars going the speed limit and cut frames out of the film to make them appear to be screaming down the road.  You basically get Benny Hill style car chases.  This film was directed very poorly by Olivier MEGATON.  Yes in the credits his last name is in all caps.

On the plus side the video quality was very solid.  Sharp detail, landscape shots looked great, and so did the cars.  Also, at 1080p you can count every one of the million freckles on Valentina Cantactworthshit’s face. Audio is also handled quite well.

The Transporter series started off as a fun, mostly brainless, and well directed action movie.  Sadly, with each film the series becomes more and more shallow.  Jason Statham is the only reason to watch these movies.  He is a very capable fighter and actor.  With Transporter 3 you get to see very little of his talents due to the spazztastic editing and sloppy directing.  Jason deserves better.  It’s pretty pathetic when In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (made by movie master Uwe Boll) has action scenes that are filmed 10000 times better than this turd.

1/10 and I’m being generous.

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Up

Review for the Kiddies

Up is a fantastic, exciting voyage to South America! With a magic flying house, grouchy grandpa-type Carl Fredricksen and his little buddy Russell explore the jungle, meet a funny talking dog, and save a giant bird from a crazy old man in a zepplin! Featuring lots of laughs and some surprisingly tense action, Up isn’t for super-young kids, but any child over 5 will have a whole flying house full of fun!

Review for Grownups

Up spends its first 20 minutes or so grinding away at its protagonist’s life so savagely that it may reduce you to tears. Carl marries his childhood sweetheart, and in short cinematic order their lives rush by. Unable to have the children they desire, Carl and his wife Ellie pin their dreams on an eventual voyage to Venezuela, one she does not live to see. Crushed and alone, Carl spends all day in his house, talking to his dead wife while a heartless and marginalizing city grows up around him. Eventually, he is committed to a home, and realizing he has nothing to lose in death, flies his house on the voyage his dead wife always wanted to take. Carl’s flying house and the film’s other aeronautic hijinks show more than a passing Hayao Miyazaki inspiration, which is to be expected due to his close relationship with Pixar exec John Lasseter.

Carl is accompanied on his trek by Russell, a boyscout whose enthusiasm for nature is motivated by the love of a father who has long since abandoned him. The villain of the film is Carl’s boyhood hero, a man so lonely and obsessed that he seems less genuinely evil and more completely pitiable. Behind most of the film, these undertones of losing people and ideas we love can be felt in how the characters act and what they do. The whole movie is built on foundations of sorrow.

You might think this would make Up a sad movie, and it does, but it also makes its many happy moments stand out that much more clearly. The movie draws strong, heartfelt performances from all the members of its talented cast, and had, to me, no slip-ups on its way. And don’t worry: if you’ve seen the short film The Ark, and about halfway through Up you start to worry it’ll end the same way- it doesn’t. You can relax. Unlike Pixar’s other movies, Up probably won’t have a lot of commercial visibility. There will be some product tie-ins, but many companies have already publicly shied from the film. The reason is pretty obvious; ageism is an established thing in movies and just because Pixar rose above it doesn’t mean companies will.

In short: Up is a moving, sophisticated film that will appeal to adults and children on totally different levels and shines above other kids cinema on the market as a complex narrative on human feelings and behavior.

9/10

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Guyver: Dark Hero

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It’s always dicey adapting a cartoon for live action. Finding real people who look like cartoon characters is hard, as is replicating the unrealistic feats that animated characters are capable of in a  believable way. This problem is doubled when you try to adapt animation from Japan, where the prominence of animated cinema arose specifically in order to depict wild stunts and crazy monsters that Japanese film companies of the early-mid 20th century had neither the money nor the real estate to film.

The Guyver is kind of a media dynasty. There’s comic books, movies, TV shows, and, one would assume, cuddly Guyver plushes. For those not in the know, the Guyver is a suit of armor aliens built in order to shove humans inside and make cheap frontline soldiers for their horrific space wars. The prototypes rebelled and the aliens left Earth, leaving behind some dormant Guyver suits and an army of angry, lonesome mutant soldiers. Everyone wants a Guyver suit of their own, but predictably plucky young people get most of them. Rather like Power Rangers, said hero wanders about encountering danger, transforming with their armor, and kicking lots of faces. Because the Guyver is dark and edgy, there’s lots of blood and screaming and the suit comes out of you eww gross yuck! It’s kind of an adult cartoon, as envisioned by ten year olds.

Dark Hero follows the original properties as well as it can with no budget. Sean (Solid Snake) has what he believes to be the only Guyver suit. It makes him run around fighting crime, even though he’d rather just sit around his filthy apartment doodling in his dream journal. When he sees some symbols on television that he believes are related to the Guyver suit, he sets off for Utah to visit an archaelogical dig. Wouldn’t you know it, an entire corporation of bad guys in rubber monster suits is after the dig as well, and it’s up to Sean to pretty much kill every last one of them as savagely as rubber suit science permits.

Coming up since small times on the 60s-70s Godzilla films, I really got into this film. The suits are surprisingly good, and the Guyver armor is pretty on-model with the anime. The fights are pretty decent too, although there’s a surprising amount of non-fighting and it isn’t particularly interesting. Sean whines and moans about having awesome alien space armor that lets him shoot lasers out of his head, he romances an average-looking archaeologist, and some stuff happens with the FBI. But none of that matters because this is a guys in rubber suits hitting each other movie, and it totally delivers.

Actually, it may deliver too well. The violence in Dark Hero can be surprisingly graphic, and contrasted with the rather silly-looking suitework the effect is sort of confusing. It’s like if you were watching Sesame Street, and Big Bird pecked out Grover’s eyes. But if you can get past that, Guyver: Dark Hero offers something interesting: a live action anime adaptation that is both entertaining and faithful to its source materials.

6/10 (bump it up to 7/10 if you’re like me and giggle with glee when dudes in rubber suits body slam each other)

Emile

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Those close to me know of my deep love for Ian McKellen. During his films, I am wont to talk directly to his character. I saw all 3 X-Men movies just because of him. Ian McKellen is an awesome dude. So awesome he totally starred in this awful, dreary movie. Probably out of pity. I’m pretty sure this film was made purely during his spare time while filming X-Men 2. The credits actually thank the film. Seriously. It’s all “Special thanks to Mom, God, My dog Murphy, and X-Men 2.” And like X-Men 2 this movie is set primarily in Canada. Of course, most movies are and simply lie about it. In Johnny Mnemonic Canada pretended to be Hong Kong and New Jersey, in X-Files, Canada played the part of the District of Colombia, and in The Final Sacrifice Canada was Atlantis. Or Atlantis was Canada. Whatever.

Emile is the story of a dude named Franklin HAHA FOOLED YOU HIS NAME IS EMILE. Emile grew up in a shack in Saskatchewan, apparantly the most depressing place on Earth, where the skies are eternally grey, the fields vast and forever dried brown, and the people introverted and abusive. Every shot of his youth is taken through Fujifilm’s patented “Bleakerizer” filter, which makes the shot up to 40% more depressing. Please note that the Saskatchewan scenes are not actually filmed there. That is because the director was lazy and wanted to film the whole movie next to his favorite pie shop (citation needed).

Emile’s big brother the mean jackass, and his younger brother the sensitive writer spend their lives playing out a 2-man version of the Dead Poet’s Society until the younger brother kills himself, so Emile trucks off to England and becomes Ian McKellen. He returns to Canada for an honorary degree, and stays with the daughter of his older brother. But Emile has a dark secret- when his older brother died in a  truck accident, he DIDN’T ADOPT THE NIECE BECAUSE HIS UNIVERSITY DIDN’T ALLOW KIDS!

What, that’s not dark enough for you? Too bad. That’s it. Emile’s neice grew up in the foster system and turned into a huge jerk. Can Emile build a bridge to his last living relatives, or will he be pulled into a quagmire of guilt over not visiting his awful siblings while they were alive? The resolution may shock you, because there isn’t one. Everyone sort of just gets over themselves and stops moping.

Aside from making every inch of Canada’s natural majesty look perpetually dark and somber and completely lacking a point, this movie isn’t too special. The soundtrack is repetitive and generic, the cinematography awkward (in true cinema crapite style about half the shots are off the corner of a porch) and the script, when it breaks the film’s many awkward silences, is heavy-handed and flat. Emile is a ponderous, dreary film with little to teach and not much of a plot to entertain with.

Kind of Like X-Men 2, actually.

1/10

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Terminator Salvation

May 24, 2009 1 comment

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I went into this one with low expectations. The director of Charlie’s Angels shooting a movie written by the writers of Catwoman? No thanks! Fortunately I was wrong. Dead wrong. Terminated wrong, even.

‘K, maybe not.

Terminator does not disappoint. The machines are gritty and convincing, the landscape one of deserts and blasted cities, and in true 80s sci-fi tradition, Skynet has built a glowing blue monolith big enough to see from space for its lair. Although the film does not quite mirror James Cameron’s hazy blue hellscapes from Terminator 1 and 2, it belongs to the same world, a world where awful machines try constantly to kill you for no reason. An excellent job is done making the terminators look flashy and new without betraying the industrial asthetic of the original films.

The cinematography is good too. The camera bobs around a lot, but not too much, and action scenes are immersive and well-framed. The effects shots are pretty well composited, thanks in part to a generous use of real models and props. The film does have an unhealthy dependency on closeups of people’s faces during conversations, to the point that whenever talking happens the screen is totally filled with the speakers’ faces. That’s okay- this ain’t a talkin’ movie, it’s a terminatin’ movie.

The human element is less successful than the machine element, but not in the way you might expect. Anton Yelchin’s performance as they young Kyle Reese is heartfelt and compelling, a big step up from his rather phoned-in part in Star Trek. Sam Worthington, a terminator who doesn’t know he’s a terminator and so uses his terminating skills for justice, is an exciting hero with lots of (wasted) potential. Michael Ironside is in there, and I’ll watch anything with Michael Ironside in it. Moon Bloodgood plays a pilot who… well, who is better than she was in Pathfinder. But she’s only been at this for three years, and I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.

No, the weak link in this production is, amazingly enough, Christian Bale. I feel funny saying that because, you know, Batman, but there it is. Bale pressed director McG to expand his part, butted into the editing room daily, and judging from the press basically enfant terrible’d his way around the set start to finish- and it shows. What was meant to be the story of Marcus, the killer cyborg with a heart of gold, becomes all about Bale’s John Connor. Bale deadpans his way through meaningless bookend radio broadcasts that hurt the flow of the film, chews scenery like Shatner in any scene he’s allowed to join, and generally wrecks the pace of the film. A strong director (Nolan) who can keep Bale in line can extract a good film from him, but he obviously isn’t someone who can be trusted to go all auteur. His over-the-top performance brings the film down, and makes him seem like less of an actor than he really is.

My verdict: Terminator Salvation is a fun summer action film, well worth your seven bucks. It has action, adventure, a tiny modicum of drama, and a charming 80s feel that matches the original movies- but weak direction of a pushy star kind of drags it down.

Oh, and Arnold’s CG head looks way better than Patrick Stewart’s CG head in  Wolverine. Just putting that out there.

8/10

…But how did Skynet know who Kyle Reese was before he went back in time?

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Gunhed

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What is it with movies about giant robots always sucking?

Robot Jox sucked. Robot Wars (The sequel to Robot Jox!) sucked. Robot Holocaust sucked.

“But wait!” you say. “Gunhed is Japanese. The Japanese invented giant robots! And it’s a Toho movie! Toho are the undisputed master of movies about giant stuff!” You’d be mostly correct: Toho has all the pedigree to make a totally awesome giant robot movie. Here’s how they screwed up:

  • There aren’t any giant robots until the end
  • The giant Robots don’t do anything
  • The rest of the movie is really dull

The whole film is a vast sea of decisions meant to reduce entertainment. Every scene is accompanied by grating Casio music, except senes featuring a little girl named 11- who is mute. That’s right, every scene featuring this little girl is totally silent. The rest of the cast is whittled down, which you expect in a horror-action thriller, but which happens so fast here that we barely get to know them. Since the hero doesn’t meet Gunhed the big robot until near the end of the movie, and other giant robots don’t show up for Gunhed to fight until Gunhed is around to fight them, the main threat is a dude in a bug costume. Yeah, that’s right. Homeboy looks like Insector-Z with circuit boards glued to his eyes.

So, much like Robot Holocaust, what is billed as a robot action film is really a “dude runs around a factory being chased by guys in bad costumes” movie. There’s no character development or chemistry at all.

Gunhed itself is kind of a letdown. Designed well, the Gunhed puppet just doesn’t move convincingly. It turns into a tank (of course) at which point it becomes slightly more believable since it’s just driving around. The gunhed scenes are basically just it rolling around shooting sparks and cartoon lasers at a big robot scorpion. The big robot scorpion is also limited to rolling. It’s pretty dull, and considering the mechanical articulation the Robocop films achieved with the same technology as this film, pretty inexcusable.

So, Gunhed is a dull, lifeless hunk of plastic. I mean that both in terms of the DVD of the film, and the robot itself. The characters are similarly unlikable, and you won’t miss them when they die, which most of them do.

2/10

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Galaxis

It’s a tried and true formula for science fiction success: create an exciting sci-fi universe, show us some teasey glimpses of it, then send the characters to Earth before you run out of money. If the alien warrior heroes befriend some scrappy Earthlings when they arrive, so be it. Time Guardian did this, Spaced Invaders did it, and even the Masters of the Universe movie featured Dolph Lundgren’s He-Man befriending a not-yet-scary-thin (and consequentially much prettier) Courtney Cox at prom somewhere in the Midwest. And let’s not forget Jesse Ventura’s Abraxis, the movie Lifetime would have made if it were staffed by Jack Kirby and Jim Starlin.

Galaxis (not to be confused with Galaxina, a z-budget space western about a sexy robot who fails at stealing Barbarella’s thunder) tells a similar tale. Brigitte Nielson plays Ladera, a space gladiator who subscribes to the wear-bikinis-to-battle school of movie logic. Ladera is looking for a magic crystal, which she must find before Richard Moll does. And guess where she looks?

Squirted out in the woeful middle of the hateful 90s, Galaxis is a cheap pastiche of better movies that came before. There’s a scene where bad guys rampage through a police station Terminator style, there’s a steel-girder showdown that looks stolen from Darkman, and the whole “evil wizard jacks up the innocent for magic crystals” angle has been done to death, most notably in the underappreciated Dark Crystal. It goes without saying that Galaxis achieves its ripoffery with a budget that would disappoint Sam Raimi (who happens to be in the film). The result is rather like watching cosplayers act out a better film, and not succeeding very well.

I will be the first to admit that I like bad movies. I have personally watched Jean-Claude Van Damme’s stunt double kick a terminally ill Raul Julia into a wall in Street Fighter over 7 times. I watched Category 7 and liked it so much that I nearly cried when my fiance wouldn’t let me buy Category 6. Heck, I actually bought Magic Sword under the mistaken belief that it was The Sword and the Sorcerer. But believe this battle-hardened fan of cinema crap, there is nothing worthwhile about Galaxis. It’s dull, ineffectual, and lacks the infectious charm that has saved so many awful movies.

It’s just bad.

2/10

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