Netflix Follies: Battle Los Angeles

June 7, 2013

FOLLIES

Battle: Los Angeles

Under the impression it had been universally panned by critics and audiences, I’d been avoiding Battle: Los Angeles. Also, I’d heard the words “shaky” and “cam” associated with the title which meant I had to wait until Mandi was out of the house to watch it.

Perhaps it was a case of low-expectations engendering a forgiving attitude, but I was impressed. It’s a by-the-books war movie though, not strictly an alien-invasion story. The enemy are aliens but they could easily have been Nazis, Viet Cong, Iraqi insurgents or even Red Dawn era Soviets. It doesn’t matter who they are. The film is really about a platoon of grunts thrown into a relentless FUBAR situation for about an hour and a half.

After watching the film, I wasn’t sure why it’d gotten panned so I looked it up

Rotten Tomatoes: “Overlong and overly burdened with war movie clichés, Battle: Los Angeles will entertain only the most ardent action junkies”.

Roger Ebert:  “Noisy, violent, ugly and stupid… Generations of filmmakers devoted their lives to perfecting techniques that a director like Jonathan Liebesman is either ignorant of, or indifferent to. Yet he is given millions of dollars to produce this assault on the attention span of a generation.”

Time Out: “… flat military characters… hackneyed dialogue and corny sentimentality”.

Well, I can certainly see where these reviewers are coming from but I also have to cock an eyebrow at them. It seems almost like they were rating the film using The Hurt Locker as a standard and not summer popcorn movies like Aliens.

I think The Miami Herald got it about right:

“Not so goofy as Independence Day, not so terrifying as War of the Worlds, and it utterly lacks the imagination and emotional resonance of District 9.”

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The Empire Sucks Back: The Zine

October 29, 2011

Purchase The Empire Sucks BackThe Empire Sucks Back

The epic blog post is now a zine! Jakob’s controversial views on exactly what makes The Empire Strikes Back a bad movie are expounded in this 16-page essay. Since there is no “try”, it’s up to you to decide if he does or does not make a strong argument.  Afraid? You will be… you will be…

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Episode 82 – Residunce Evils and the 3 biggest sins of Afterlife

September 21, 2010

The most chafing costume ever?

We went to opening night of the fourth installment of one of my favourite movie franchises, Resident Evil, with the intention of reviewing it (RE: Afterlife) on the episode. Too enamoured with Milla Jovovich and Zelda we didn’t get around to talking about it much.

So let me lay-out for you what’s wrong with it here in these (very late) show notes. Be warned, I’m not going to shy away from spoilers but, since this movie has probably been dropped from theatres by the time this post goes live, you’ve had your chance to remain spoiler-free.

First off, like I’ve said all over the internet, I love the Resident Evil films because they’re the “greasiest cheese.” I went into the opening night showing not just prepared for le fromage, I was hungry for it.

Simply put: Afterlife delivers the curds.

Paul W. S. Anderson and co. seem to be taking the film franchise seriously. Unfortunately, not only are they taking it far too seriously, they shouldn’t be taking it seriously at all.

What began as a series of underdog B-movie mash-ups of The Matrix, The Cube and every George A. Romero flick, is apparently now being treated as an epic approaching the grandeur of Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. Or, more accurately, the aforementioned Matrix trilogy. A seemingly lofty goal until you consider that the Matrix trilogy was a pretty hokey affair to begin with. The risk of emulating a pop-culture watermark like Keanu’s cyber-fu adventure, is ending up as merely another second-rate knock-off cluttering up people’s Netflix queues. Afterlife suffers this fate in three main ways.

1: Lack of LOLZ. The first film got by as a decent action/horror film in its own right. Cheesy, yes, but that’s exactly what makes a decent action/horror film decent. Without a few yuks along the way to a zombie headshot, there’s really no point. With diminishing returns on the storyline and acting fronts, the only thing the second two installments of the series had going for them was unintentional comic relief. Afterlife‘s overly pretentious atmosphere significantly mutes the potential for sniggering at poorly delivered dialogue and cheesy snuff-lines.

2: The baddie is the baddest baddie ever. But not “bad” meaning good. He just sucks. He basically does the worst impression of your drunk friend’s worst Agent Smith impression the entire time he’s on screen. But he dresses like Neo. Actually, if your drunk friend was Keanu, you have a pretty good idea of this guy’s Agent Smith act. Only it’s not as good as when Keanu does it.

You’re probably wondering how this doesn’t factor into point #1 and the LOLZ. Remember Shane Brolly‘s hilarious performance as Kraven in the Underworld movies? Along with Bill Nighy, he saved that movie. This guy’s performance is that bad. Only somehow too absolutely meh to even be amusing.

3: Third time’s the charm. You can always tell when a director has disappeared up his own ass because the film doesn’t start until the third act. Their own rectum acting as a blindfold prevents them from seeing no one cares about Alice‘s trip down Amelia Earhart lane. Her whole discovery, or lack of discovery, of “Arcadia” in Alaska should have been told in a series of quick flashbacks. Instead it’s a long and ultimately pointless lead-up to where the story actually picks up in Los Angeles. Say what you will about the first three films, but the pacing was flawless (or nearly flawless) in all three.

It’s a fault that could be forgivable if the film didn’t begin with the final scene from the Matrix. Only replace the Agent Smith clones with Alice clones and add guns. Lots of guns. Too many guns.

It’s like the action sequences that open James Bond films—a bit of excitement that has nothing to do with the rest of the film, but whets your appetite for more. Unlike a Bond film though, this is a sensory barrage that deadens you to the rest of the film and perhaps any experience you’ll have in your life ever again.

Come to think of it, it was actually the perfect ending to Extinction. A little George Lucas-style re-cutting in future DVD editions and the two films could be somewhat salvaged.

Even if they don’t do that, and in spite of the film’s failings, I’ll probably still buy the DVD when it’s released. It’s always good to have plenty of greasy cheese on hand to help you get through those killer hang-overs.


Hot Tub Turd Machine

April 16, 2010

Although it makes more sense in 2010 to make an homage to 1980s teenage sex/romantic comedies than it did in 1998 with The Wedding Singer—enough time has passed now to really play-up on the decade’s cringing sense of nostalgia—Hot Tub Time Machine only succeeds in that a lot of the original films weren’t really as good as we remember.

They are all, however, better than Hot Tub Time Machine.

The film tries to do too much with as little effort as possible. The results are predictable—a total and unremitted mess. Here is a list of the top-ten flaws in Hot Tub Time Machine:

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